Some advice for a novice soldier


So, one of my players is going to play a Soldier or a Soldier/Scholar. Being more of a Rogue or Wizard player myself, I don't know what kind of feats I should recommend him (he's new to Conan and d20). So, what do you say ? What would you recommend to a second or third level soldier? Power Attack and/or Combat Expertise look fine, but are they ? Is the whole Weapon Focus/Weapon Specialization tree worth it ?

Thanks in advance.


A Soldier/Scholar? Hmmm... Not sure what kind of advice to give for that. But for a plain soldier, I think Power Attack, Cleave are two very nice Feats to have. The first time your player is being attacked by two enemies and kills them both in one round, he will thank you. :)

Beyond that, Weapon Focus is worth it if he expects to stick to a particular weapon (broadsword, for example). It is always nice to have a +1 to your attack roll.

Beyond that, he should think about how he wants to fight. Also, with all those extra feats over time, a Soldier might want to cover some of his weak spots -- take Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, or Improved Initiative, for example.


If he goes Soldier/Scholar, what sort of scholarship do you think he'll pursue? Does he just want to be knowledgeable, or is there some likelihood he'll study the sorcerous arts? If he intends to play with magic, you might want to remind him of Opportunistic Sacrifice so he can slay enemies in combat and use their deaths to add to his power.


I'm going to second Yuan-Ti here. For a first level soldier (or just about anybody but a scholar or thief), Power Attack and Cleave are almost mandatory. Power Attack is really useful at higher levels, and Cleave is a godsend at lower levels, and generally useful forever. Power Attack also allows you to do the "To the Hilt" maneuver, which is nice against Picts, or other unarmored savages.
I would recommend avoiding at this point feats which are tied to a particular weapon.

If he is going to be a soldier/scholar than combat reflexes used with a staff (which has 10ft reach) is good, especially if he learns expertise and improved trip.

Anyone moving within 10ft of him (or who moves up to attack him) can be attacked with an Attack of Opportunity (make a trip attack against him with your improved trip) and if you get him down you get a free smack at him prone on the ground.

This is a great defensive combination.

For more offensive routes, I'd agree with the suggestion to go with power attack and cleave (not least because it is fun when it comes off... more likely with big double handed weapons).



First off I suggest that he drop the idea of a soldier/scholar. A soldier/scholar in Conan is even less viable than a ftr/wiz in regular dnd (which is prety hard to pull off anyway). Unless his plan is to take oreiental magic style and be a martial artist there is absouely no overlap between the classes. No True Strike, Shield, Magic Missle, Enlarge, or Bulls Strength to fall back on. If what he wants is to be a dabbler then suggest he take the Dabbler feat, thats what its there for, and he can afford it with all his bonus feats.

As for his martial feats. The trick to a soldier is to both be a specalist and a generalist at the same time. He is the only class who has enough feats to do this and it is a powerful advantage. Pick a fighting style and focus on finishing it out early, but pick one or two "tricks" that he can have as backup. Carry an arming sword and a shield and a spear and a warhammer and bow and three throwing axes and five daggers (two of them tied to his thighs under fake bandages under his clothes) oh and a sling braided into his hair as "headband" as well, have two sets of armor (light and heavy), have a backpack full of all sorts of usefull equipment (encumbrance isn't a worry): be the man for all seasons. Also seriously consider using his character feats to "round out" the weaknesses in his character: Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, Improved Init, maybe a skill feat or two, be creative.

Now about style. It is all about style, he needs to pick one and try to build towards it. For starters decide if he wants to be lightly armored or heavily armored. Although it is possible to build a lightly-armored Soldier who is good at it he will not be playing to his strengths and there are other classes (pirate, barbarian) who are better at being swashbucklers. I recomend he look for at least a medium armor and lean towards heavy armors. Remember: if he owns, lets say, a mail haubrek and a brigadine coat he can travel in medium armor and stack them for a heavy armor when he is expecting trouble. Drop a great helm on the whole mess and call it a day. The Soldier has the best parry progression in the game and parry DV is Str based which is good synergy with his meele and, most importantly, Str bonus is not limited by armor worn as Dex bonus is. If he decides to go sword 'n board he can easily have the highest DV in the game and still enjoy 8-10 points of DR to boot!

On to fighting styles. For starters there is the classic two-handed approach. This is the only way other than sneak attack to reliably shoot for massive damage. If he is hyborean he gets the greatsword for free which is a nice bonus. Or he coud choose something like a pollaxe or bardiche in order to have a high AP. Obvious feats are Power Attack, Cleave, possibly Great Cleave if you throw a lot of mooks at him, and Sunder as a dirty trick. Other secondary styles include Imp Unarmed Strike and then Imp Grapple for fights against single, nasty BBEG's. This style is most usefull when making single attacks (power attack ruins your itterative attacks) so he should take advantage of the Fighting on the Run rule whenever possible instead of going tow to toe. May want Combat reflexes for the same reason. This is also a good style for a weapon master (discussed below). THF may quite possibly be the most powerful style in Conan (as it should be :wink: ).

Next: sword 'n board. Poor neglected sword 'n boarad. It isn't flashy or prety but it gets the job done, that's for sure. The Soldier easily fits into this style with his heavy armor and good bpb, it is somthing that he excells at that nobody else can match. This style has you as the meatshield who will protect the rest of the party from certain death so play to that. Con should be your second stat after Str but make sure you have a 13 Int (for expertise). Basic feats are Expertise, Parry, Reflexive Parry, Toughness, and Combat Reflexes (to prevent the enemy from blitzing past you). Consider Imp Disarm and/or Imp Trip as your dirty trick. At later levels pick up Fleet-footed in order to keep up with the party and Power Attack just because. Web of Deah is an awsome feat that works well for a meatshield. Steely Gaze/Menacing Aura is nice if you want to really play up the bodyguard aspect. You can also pick up Imp Two Weapon Fighting and Two-weapon Defence and make shield bashes. The nice thing about this build is that, because of expertise, you will likely have more skill points than other soldiers; aside from spot or listen (pick one) and 3 ranks of Sense Motive, pick some skill that nobody would expect you to have and is fairly usefull (Survival is nice, Decipher Script would be good too especially if you are a Dabbler, Gather Info, Sleight, Heal, or Diplomacy) just to see the look on their face when you bust it out :twisted: Remember though, specalize until you are proficent at one thing before moving onto the next.

TWF: This is probably a Soldiers best option if he wants to be a swashbuckler. The nice thing is that if built right you can swing a DV and DR nearly as high as a sword 'n boarder and get all those extra attacks too. The down side is that your AP will suck as well as your base damage die and you are going toe to toe trading full round attacks with your opponent which can be very unhealthy. Improved TWF is required of course but not till level 6. If you want to try to beef up the DV (or at least have the option to on a round by round basis) look at Two Weapon Defense. Also if you have the stats to support it combine that with Intricate Swordplay for an awsome parry DV (restircted to medium armor now). Moving fruther down the armor scale, if you are willing to give up all armor take 3 levels of Thief and the Light-Footed feat for a quick 3 dice of sneak attack damage, now tumble into flanking position and really mess the other guy up. If you are willing to give up even more base damage dice use a pair of light weapons (good choices: axe, Ghanata knife, hatchet) and take Wep Focus and Wep Spec (it will apply to both weapons). If you also took those levels of Thief the sneak attack damage will compensate for the low base damage. You will also notice that those are all throwing weapons, grab PBS, quickdraw, and Improved Init and anyone within 30' of you on the first round is toast. The problem here is that this style requires a lot of feats and is multiple stat dependent. You can decide to finesse attack everything to avoid the AP issue in which case dump Str, pump Dex, and forget about Two Weapon Defence and Intricate Swordplay (you won't be parrying much). But now you will a bit fragile with meerly average (not poor, average) DV, lousy/no armor, and you choosing to stand still for full-round attacks. Focus on the Con and take Toughness to compensate.

You could also choose to be a ranged fighter: esp if you are Bossonian, Stygian, Shemite, or Hyrkanian. Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Far Shot, Rapid Shot. You can pick them all up prety quickly and go to town. Take Quick Draw for when the enemy gets too close and Fleet-Footed at least once so you can move into position easily. Wep Focus and Wep Spec are essential to boost damage. So is Improved Crit. Take Improved Init so you can go as early as possible and Expertise to protect yourself when the enemy comes. The nice thing about this style is that you can easily afford to buy up those miscelaneous feats like Blind-Fight, Endurance, Run, etc. The down side is that you are a one-trick pony. You deal consistent damage and a good ammount of it but you can't quickly incipacate an enemy the way a trip or grapple fighter can and you won't likely hit massive damage like a THF will. But this might just be the easiest style for a novice Soldier.

The last style to discuss is the weapon master. This one is simple, pick a single weapon (Greatsword is a good choice, so is War Sword, Sabre, Tulwar, even a Broadsword or a Bardiche) and do some truly disgusting damage with it. The basic feats are simple: Wep Focus, Wep Spec, Greater Wep Focus, Greater Wep Spec, Imp Crit, Greater Crit, Power Attack. You can then pick A couple of sidline feats such as Expertise and Trip or Cleave or Improved Init or what have you. The trick here is to really know how to use power attack combined with Improved Crit to multiply and re-multiply your damage. It takes a lot of brain-power at the gaming table to first "ping" the enemy's DV and then calculate the proper PA given the odds. Kinda like counting cards. If you get it right though, you can deal out some truly sick damage. A good rule of thumb for those who want to try a weapon master without all the math is to always power attack for the value of your Weapon Focus feats (+1 or +2) plus the value of any tacital bonus you might have (+1 if on high ground, +2 if flanking or charging). The downside of this style is that it locks you into a single weapon. In a Conan game, where material items come and go so ealily, this could be a real problem unless you pick something common like a broadsword.

There are also many other twinks that can be done: reach fighters who dominate entire regions of the battlefield, mounted chargers who reach near-smakdown levels of damage, unarmed wrestlers who can incapicate any single enemy at will, Con monsters who can get beat on all day and still smile. But these are the five basic styles and hopefully they will get you thinking. Good luck and happy Soldiering.[/list]


The Conan RPG doesn't really depend on twinking out your PC the way regular 3e D&D does. It doesn't give out XP for fights or use a concept of CR-balanced encounters, so unless the DM ports in a lot of D&D stuff making a combat-optimised character build is a lot less important. So far IMC the high-CHA Barbarian & Nomad seem to have been doing better than the STR 20 combat-twink or the resource-allocationist - having almost all his equipment crossed off his character sheet (as advocated in the RPG's Equipment section, among other places) certainly dented his ability to extract max value from his Encumbrance and starting-sp limits. Unless the campaign is highly focused on balanced combats I'd say it doesn't much matter what feats he picks, as long as they support his character concept - power attack & cleave are great for mighty-thewed barbarians, Improved Initiative & Lightning Reflexes are cool for a snakelike sorcerer, and so on.


Thanks for all the input, people !

Argo : You know what ? I'm gonna save myself some time. I'm going to take your post, baptize it 'On Swords and Shields : a treatise on the fine art of helping your fellow man on his way to the Afterlife, by Argo the mercenary.' and send it to the player in question.


Hyena said:
Argo : You know what ? I'm gonna save myself some time. I'm going to take your post, baptize it 'On Swords and Shields : a treatise on the fine art of helping your fellow man on his way to the Afterlife, by Argo the mercenary.' and send it to the player in question.

Sometimes that Argo guy scares me...



One thing is certain : if I ever get into LARP, I'll be going out of my way to check he's not in the area.


Argo, your input is fantastic as always. This will definitely help me create some cool BBEG! :twisted:





In D&D, I generally shy away from the Weapon Focus/Specialization route since there are so many other ways to improve damage and to-hit magically. In Conan though this is a very powerful combination and should be considered!

Power Attack/Cleave are a great pair of feats to take. Power Attack especially, since it sets him up for several additional combat manuvers. For a novice, it can be difficult to judge when to use Power Attack and for how much; I did some analysis about a year ago and came up with this table as a guide:

DV-     2 hand    1 hand
BAB    PA           PA
2        -9            -10
3        -8            -10
4        -8            -9
5        -7            -9
6        -7            -8
7        -6            -8
8        -6            -7
9        -5            -7
10      -5            -6
11      -4            -6
12      -4            -5
13      -3            -5
14      -3            -4
15      -2            -4
16      -2            -3
17      -1            -3
18      -1            -2
19       0            -2
20       0            -1
21       0            -1
22       0             0

It's reasonably accurate (within 1 on every test) but can change based on circumstances such as heavy damage weapons.

He shouldn't forget about using a ranged weapon: Soldier != Meat shield. Getting into melee range in Conan is very very deadly -- he should use his bow and let the fight come to him! <6th level he can use his move action to draw his weapon and still get all of his attacks (all one!). At 6th level he should get quickdraw so that he can make better use of his full attack.

Soldier/Scholar is a very viable combination. I love the Conan method of multiclassing. He won't be great at both (unless he has phenomenal stats) but Scholars get some very powerful spells at early levels and the combination should be fun to play! It IS a setup to abuse the hell out of the Defensive Blast though -- I'd take steps to discourage this (there's another thread for this discussion so let's not hijack this one!)