Gish Optimized — The Dexadin (Morgen Schnee as Ultimate Duelist)

Welcome to Gish Optimized — a new series dedicated to optimizing one of the most enjoyable sub-types to play in all of Dungeons and Dragons. The Gish!

Named After the Githyanki of D&D Yore

So what is a Gish, you may ask? Well, Gish is an old term dating all the way back to Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. It comes from a specific monster — the Githyanki. First appearing in the Fiend Folio, published in 1981, the Githyanki were an evil race of humans who managed to throw off enslavement by the terrible Mind Flayers (aka Illithid).

A Githyanki Gish. Image from Forgotten Realms Fandom.

Having served under these despotic masters for generations, the Githyanki had developed a combination of powerful magic, potent psionics, and mastery of deadly magical weapons. In particular, Silver Swords were prized items forged by Githyanki and gifted to their most powerful swordmasters. These special talents aided them in their revolt. Led by their progenator — Gith — the Githyanki soon became the most feared pirates of the Astral Sea.

First Figher/Mages, Then The World

Among the Githyanki was a special sub-class known as the Gish. In Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, Gish were fighter/mages. And they were among the most badass of the type — slinging spells and swinging swords to deadly effect. As the years progressed, people who played characters that specialized in magic and swordplay often became known as Gishes — no matter the race. This urbanized term also steadily became non-specific to class — including Figher/Mages, Ranger/Druids, AD&D Bards, Fighter/Clerics and so on. As Dungeons and Dragons transitioned through editions 2-5, Gish became even more generalized and popularized. Many fictional characters in the modern zeitgeist combined swordplay with magic and people trying to build their favorite anime, movie, or live-action character in game often fell back to the Gish to make their powers seem more real.

5th Edition — The Golden Age of Gishes

Enter 5th Edition D&D and we come to the golden age of Gishes. A time when there are many, many core classes and subclasses that mix swordplay with magic. Eldritch Knight Fighters, Rangers of every stripe, Paladins, Bladesinger Wizards, Sword and Valor Bards, melee Clerics, and Pact of the Blade Warlocks all easily fall into this category. And that’s without multiclassing — which can back into a Gish in about a thousand different ways. Some 5e core classes are even specialized to the point that they can burn spell slots to make their sword strikes stronger. That infamous SMITE ability used by Paladins and, to a lesser degree, Pact of the Blade Warlocks. So it is fitting that for our first blog on the subject of Gish optimization, we’ll be looking at the King, or in this case, the Queen of Smites — the Paladin.

The Dexadin Optimized

Enter the Dexadin — or the dexterity-focused Paladin. It’s an oft-neglected Paladin build for numerous reasons. First, D&D typically preferences strength builds for melee damage. This is due, in part, to the fact that Great Weapon Master and Polearm Master are seriously potent feats. And you can find a thousand blogs and videos proclaiming the strengths of each. In another, somewhat more subtle, respect those sticking with Dexterity for a melee-focused class like Paladin also can miss out on powerful magic item drops — which in the published modules preference longswords and greatswords. This is particularly true for Adventurer’s League which relies on published material. One exception to this general rule is the Sun Blade — which appears in Curse of Strahd and Out of the Abyss. Another is a DADL adventure that includes a Vorpal scimitar. Those playing with Game Masters willing to drop things like Vorpal scimitars and Holy Avenger rapiers and short swords in their original built-worlds may tend to be less inhibited by lack of powerful dexterity-capable items in the standard adventures. It’s a soft constraint for these reasons.

On the flip side, the Dexadin has a number of inherent base benefits. The first is that high dexterity preferences better initiative roles. This moves our Gish off the line fast, allowing her to get in front of the flow of battle and capitalize on superior action economy. But have a care! Acting early in initiative is a great way to draw aggro. So watch out and don’t punk team monster too hard or too early unless you’re ready to take the incoming fire.

The second inherent benefit for the Dexadin is arguably a bit meh — you are better at ranged attacks. This adds some useful versality. But have a care — you’re a melee-focused character. So your specialty is not going to be ranged. Particularly, if you want to have the added defense bonus coming from a shield your use of bows will be inhibited by the action economy cost of taking the shield on and off. And you really want to have that shield bonus. Because you’re going to be in the enemy’s face a lot. Depending on your party composition, you will often be the first person in the enemy’s face. Dropping the shield to use a bow will seriously hurt your survivability. And, after damage, survivability is something we’ll be looking to optimize — at least a little bit. Sure, you’ll still want to have a longbow for those times when the enemy is way off and you can’t reach them. But you are going to have some vicious mobility (another thing we are somewhat optimizing — you want to get to the bads to deliver your SMITE after all). So as you level, situations where you can’t deploy your rapier and, more importantly, your SMITE, will grow more and more seldom.

The third inherent benefit is your higher dexterity gives you better saves to avoid AOE damage. This benefit can be kinda situational depending on campaign. However, DEX saves are some of the most common. And having both high DEX and high CHA will give you an effective soft proficiency in DEX saves. This is pretty darn cool.

Last of all, a high DEX opens you up to the PIERCER feat to use with your rapier, shortsword and, yes, longbow. Though not great by itself, this feat adds synergy to your inherent build benefits. It gives you a signature Brutal Critical-style move and it adds to your round-to-round damage by giving you a re-roll for piercing damage. Don’t like that 1. Reroll it. Pretty darn cool.

Morgen Schnee as Ultimate Gish Duelist

So we’ve talked a little bit about the basics of our Dexadin Gish build. But before we get into the nitty-gritty, crunchy-monkey stuff, let’s define what we are going for with our Dexadin. So what kind of Gish are we looking at here, after all?

First of all, we’re not looking at a BLAST and bash kind of Gish. Nor are we looking at an explosive PINATA kind of tank with damage retribution kind of Gish. Nor a SPANK and flank Gish… we could go on and on. In fact, we’ll be looking at some of these Gish builds later. For our Dexadin, though, which I’m calling Morgen Schnee after my Battlestorm Online character (Because she’s using this exact build. So if it rocks, you can watch it rock live on Twitch most Thursday nights from 930 to midnight. And if it sucks, you can also watch me fall on my face live as well. Bonus!), is a fast-moving pounce and SMITE Gish. In other words, Morgen the Dexadin uses her magic to position herself on the battlefield, to maneuver to strike the enemy with a serious VEANGEANCE in NOVAs or mini NOVAs, and to teleport herself out of sticky, high-aggro situations.

Our Dexadin is based on my Morgen Schnee build for Battlestorm Online — run by Ted Burgess. Above is my Roll20 character Bio for Morgen. You can watch the latest episode of Battlestorm Online most Thursdays on Twitch. Archived episodes are on YouTube.

So without further ado, let’s get into some crunchy highlights of the build. To be clear, I won’t be hitting every aspect of this build. But I will be giving you the major bits. So have fun building and/or customizing your own stab and SMITE Dexadin.

The Stab and SMITE Dexadin

Level 1 — We start with point buy. We put 9 points into Dexterity. This is our primary attribute and we really want to start at a 17 in this stat. 9 points gets us to 15. So we’re a lot of the way there. Next, we want a lot of Charisma. Sure, we could go Constitution secondary if we wanted more survivability. But the added synergy for the class coming from Charisma buffing you and your allies at later levels is kinda a big deal. In addition, the high score makes you shine in personal interactions. And we’re RPing this puppy as a bit of a glam Paladin. So we want 9 points for CHA — giving us a 15. We talked about Constitution earlier and we don’t want to neglect this needed attribute for front liners. You may not be a big bruiser, but you want to be tough enough to take some rockin’ hits. So we also throw 7 points into Constitution, but we won’t be bumping up with ASIs for this stat. This leaves you with 2 points for STR, WIS, and INT. I dumped STR and WIS to 8 and put Morgen’s INT at 10. But you do you.

Tony DiTerlizzi’s original conceptual drawings of Aasimar from 2e Dungeons and Dragons remain among the best, IMO. Image Source: Forgotten Realms Fandom.

Next we do race. Ahh…. All the wonderful options! We could definitely go elf and rock some cool elfin accuracy. And that is a seriously potent build notion in and of itself. We could go Custom Lineage or Variant Human to get some badass feats right out the gate. Great choices that I would never criticize. But, for Morgen, who’s a genuinely benevolent person, we want something with a bit more of a, dare I say, angelic feel. And for this build to really sing we want to get some serious extra scaling base damage, two damage resistances, mobility (do I hear flight?), and versatility options. Yep. You guessed it. The race we are choosing is Aasimar. Do I hear some groans? Are there angel haters among the masses? Probably. So if you’re one of those who doesn’t like Aasimar, perhaps just go elf or human or tiefling or custom lineage or somesuch. For my part, I like the Aasimar, particularly for this build. The first reason is we are building in a handy little kill switch that helps to balance out the fact that we chose the arguably less damage-optimal Dexadin build. We have to compensate for not having a polearm or a greatsword in some way. I chose angel. And right off the bat we get some cool buffs — first is Light Bearer, which gives us the Light spell as a cantrip. This is a very handy utility option that is quite thematic. It also gives you the ability to help your non-darkseeing buddies in a pinch. They’ll appreciate it. On top of your base Paladin Lay on Hands you get one HP of healing hands. It may not sound like much, but it will put one of your buddies back on his feet. Something that can save your entire party in a sticky situation. You get Darkvision too. In addition, you gain some amazing resistances — one to radiant damage and one to necrotic damage. The latter is literally a life-saver. Some of the nastiest monster damage types come from necrotic sources. Did I hear someone say Catoblepas? I think I did.

Using the Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything rules for character creation, we take the Aasimar starting ability score bonuses of +2, +1 and apply them to Dexterity and Charisma. This gives us a 17 DEX and a 16 CHA. Pretty badass, right? It gets better.

For class, we take Paladin. This is what we signed up for in the first place, right? No major Gish stuff at level 1. We have to wait ’til level 2 to get to that. However, we do access some great healing magic in the form of Lay on Hands, a cool detection suite in Divine Sense, basic armor and weapons proficiencies are all part of the bargain for our Dexadin.

For gear we want good AC and good attacks. At level 1 our options are limited. So we choose rapier which gives us 1D8+3 damage (not too shabby), a shield, and sell the chain mail for half to buy scale mail armor. An 18 AC at level 1 is looking pretty good too. We might spend our extra background cash to get another dagger or three (we took 1 at the start). Our high DEX makes throwing daggers look pretty optimal at this level.

So this rounds out our choices for level 1.

Moving on to Level 2, there are two things we really, really, like. The first is our fighting style. Since we’re a rapier-wielder and we’re interested in damage, we pick duelist. The +2 to damage may not sound like much. But it’s a solid static addition. This bumps us to 1d8+5 on our unaugmented strikes in melee and 1d4+5 with our thrown daggers. We’re not as badass as the human with the polearm or greatsword or maul at this point. But we are solid rockin an 18 AC, 18 HP and doing good consistent damage. We are also versatile with a pretty decent short ranged option while still holding a shield.

At level 2 we also get the spells. Oh, the yummy, yummy Paladin spells! I feel like I just opened a jar of spell jelly beans. Who needs magic spell cards when you can eat your own components? Watch out Magic the Gathering! All that tastiness aside, this is when our Gish aspect really comes online. With our 16 Charisma, we get 3 bonus spells and at 1/2 our level we have 1 base spell to choose from. That’s four. And since we are a Paladin, we can choose any four spells from the whole list each and every friggin day. Now that’s some versatility.

A drow Dexadin designed by Imogen Kaal. View Kaal’s portfolio here.

For our typical load-out, we are picking Divine Favor, Cure Wounds, Protection From Evil, and Shield of Faith. Divine Favor is a seriously badass buff spell. It’s a bonus action, so you don’t lose much action economy. And it adds +1d4 RADIANT damage to each of your strikes. It takes 4 hits to catch up to a first level SMITE, though. More if you’re fighting undead or fiends. However, for a long fight, this can really up your damage consistency round over round. Something that a Paladin can really want when dealing with mobs rather than bosses. Be careful at this level, though. Divine Favor is a concentration spell and right now your Constitution saves aren’t great. So you risk losing Divine Favor quick if you draw too much aggro. Consider for ranged attacks, long combats, and combats where you can position yourself to draw less aggro. Cure Wounds is a great backup to have for healing your friends. You’ll typically be wanting to spend your spells on SMITES. And you already have 10 HP of Lay on Hands, plus 2 HP of Healing Hands from Aasimar. That’s already pretty solid for an off-healer. But I find that when you need healing, you really need healing. And you don’t want to be empty when you really need healing. Protection From Evil is one of the most badass defensive spells against fiends that money can buy. Disadvantage to hit you is no joke, especially if you are mobbed. The other riders on Protection From Evil are situational life-savers. You want to have them when you are in THAT situation. Last of all Shield of Faith is a serious defensive buff. Your mileage may vary, though. I often prefer SMITES and Divine Favor. But when I want 20 AC at lvl 2, I want my bonus action to active Shield of Faith.

Enter Level 3 and we really start to see this build blossom. For starters we get to pick our Paladin Oath. Since we are playing a duelist focused Dexadin, we are picking the Oath Vengeance. RP-wise I might catch some flak for this. The standard understanding is that Oath of Vengeance Paladin is your Batman Paladin. A dark knight who may be less scrupulous in her quest to eradicate the world of evil. For Morgen, I’m going to focus more on the righteous rage side of the Oath of Vengeance. Her Oath is declared when evil pisses her off. And when that happens, the gloves are off. Otherwise, she’s a pretty kind, if a bit fiery and strong-willed person. Rules-wise, Oath of Vengeance gives us some serious sweetness in the form of Oath of Enmity. This turns on advantage against a chosen foe once per short rest as a bonus action. Abjure Enemy is pretty cool too as it’s an automatic debuff to one enemy’s mobility. That said, it’s more situational and secondary to the glorious vengeance coming from the Oath of Enmity.

Oath of Enmity gives us one half of the kill switch we are developing for our Dexadin. The second half of our kill switch also comes online at level 3. And that’s our Protector Aasimar ability — Radiant Soul. Ooowee, now we are talking. Radiant Soul causes beautiful spectral wings to sprout from your back — granting you a fly speed of 30 feet and causing one of your attacks or spells to do additional radiant damage equal to your level once on each of your turns.

An aasimar depicted by missuskisses on deviantart.

Why is this a kill switch and how does it work out for you? Well, since you have a high dexterity, you roll high on the initiative. You’re in a room with a big bad. You see the big bad and you want to throw down some serious heat. You spend your action to sprout your radiant wings and ignite your weapon with radiance. You spend your bonus action to declare you Oath of Enmity. Now you are a flying menace to your chosen foe dealing 1d8+8 damage on your weapon strikes and making your attacks at advantage. And don’t discount the ability to fly in selective combats without the use of a spell or magic item. The mobility from flight ensures that you will be able to deliver your damage more consistently while giving you better options to choose your place on the battlefield.

But wait, it just got even better. Why? Because you added one new first level Paladin spell slot. This means three potential smites. In addition, you’ve just gained access to Hunter’s Mark and Bane from your new Oath of Vengeance class. This means that on round 2 you can cast divine favor, or hunters mark and smite on a strike in which you hit — dealing 3d8+1d6+8 damage on a single strike or an average of 24 damage. If you crit, this rises to 40 average damage. And you can do it again next round. This is a solid mini kill switch for level 3. It bumps you up into the ranks of stronger damage dealers. You’re not the best of the best NOVA types at this level. But you are now quite respectable when considering both accuracy and damage output against a single foe.

Level 4, however, is when things start to get really fancy for our Dexadin. Because at this level we gain access to our first feat or ASI. Now I know I mentioned the Piercer feat and you’re probably thinking we take that feat here to bump our dexterity to 18 and gain the nice benefits of Piercer. But while that is tempting, I’m going to ask that we hold off a bit before dipping into Piercer. Am I crazy? Maybe, but hear me out.

Instead of Piercer we are looking at entirely different feat for level 4. Remember when we talked about those great feats for Strength-based Paladins way back in this blog? Well, we’re going to take one of those. Specifically, we’re going to take Great Weapon Master. Woah! You can only use that with heavy weapons you say? Well, that is only half true. Bear with me while we look at the wording of this amazing feat. Specifically at the first benefit:

“On your turn, when you score a critical hit with a melee weapon or reduce a creature to 0 hit points with one, you can make one melee weapon attack as a bonus action.”

This text doesn’t say anything about using a heavy weapon to gain this benefit. You just have to use a melee weapon. The second benefit of the feat does, however specify that you use a heavy weapon to subtract 5 to hit and add 10 to damage. So we can’t use that. But for our Dexadin, the added action economy of the first benefit — gain a bonus action attack when we crit or kill is a big deal. One that is too big to pass up. It sets up the possibility of a severe NOVA critical strike round in which we crit, smite, then use the bonus attack to smite again if we hit. Being an Oath of Veangeance and declaring our Oath of Enmity on a boss target also makes it more likely that these crits will occur and that the second attack will land.

Boom! Now we are talking! Still feeling jealous of Mr. Polearm or Mrs. Greatsword? Probably a little. But not as much. And we still get the nice benefit from our shield. Pretty sweet right?

At Level 5 we get the glorious thing that is extra attack and we add in some great new spells. Let’s go with the spells first. Oath of Vengeance gives us two beauties. The first is Hold Person. This spell is absolutely badass if it lands because it imposes paralysis — which makes all attack hits that land from 5 feet critical strikes while taking away the target’s actions until they save. This is a major team enabler, particularly if another of your allies is also a heavy hitter. The second, however, is one of the main reasons why we chose the Oath of Vengeance. And that is the beautiful spell as mobility enhancer that is Misty Step — hitherto referred to as Bampf! Caught in the jaws of a T-rex? Bampf! Surrounded by enemies with no way out? Bampf! Big fire gaint grabs you and wants to carry you off? Bampf! Out of movement and really want to hit that bad guy with your rapier? Bampf! The beautiful mobility potentials provided by Misty Step as Bampf are practically endless. And this wonderful spell adds another mobility arrow into a quiver that also now includes your Aasimar flight ability as Radiant Soul. Now that’s some synergy, baby!

Overall, our spell/smite quiver is starting to also get rather substantial at this level — 3 first level spells and 2 second level spells for 5 in total, plus our light cantrip. Yeah. That’s pretty Gish-a-licious.

But, arguably, the main reason we’re here is the extra attack. Now we get two attacks per round which is a major damage boost. Un-buffed, we’re doing 1d8+5 twice. Pretty decent consistent damage. If we crit or kill, we get another attack as a bonus action. And that’s also without magic item support. But where we really shine is during what I’m calling NOVA-critical rounds. What’s a NOVA-critical? Well, it’s when you do an explosive NOVA attack following a critical hit. These strikes aren’t easy to plan. But because we have the Oath of Enmity power granted by our Vengeance pali, we can fish for them. We want to fish for them on big bads. And when those fish do bite, they are really big catches.

So let’s apply our kill switch and see what a NOVA-crit round looks like. Round 1 we set up with Radiant Soul and Oath of Enmity on our chosen victim. Round 2 we crit with one attack for 2d8+6d8+5 (radiant soul) +5 (regular damage mod) for an average of 46 damage. We bonus action attack to smite for 1d8+3d8+5 — average 23 damage. And we take our second attack to smite for 1d8+2d8+5 or 18.5 damage. That’s 87.5 in total, without magic item support. If we had the time to cast Divine Favor, we add another 10 damage for 97.5. If we are fighting Undead or Fiends, this average damage rises to 115.5 assuming the 3 attacks hit. All with a rapier. How effective do we feel now? In addition, we are probably also flying, rocking a 19 AC with half plate, and sporting 42 hit points. We have 25 hp worth of healing in Lay on Hands and 5 from Healing Hands. All non spell. So we can give this to our allies or self heal without burning our spell or smite resources. On top of all this we have good initiative rolls and do nice consistent damage due to our combination of duelist and rapier weapon master.

I’m going to fast forward through the next levels a bit because I’m pretty sure you’ve gotten a gist of the build.

Video guide to the Stab and SMITE Dexadin on YouTube and Twitch.

Level 6 we pick up Aura of Protection — a great ally buff. Level 7 we get Relentless Avenger — another mobility buff that’s pretty situational for us because we are not a Polearm Master. But this was your choice when we picked Dexadin.

By Level 8 we finally pick the Piercer Feat. This bumps our Dexterity to 18, giving us an added +1 to hit and damage with our rapier. It also gives us a free re-roll on one of our rapier damage dice each turn and it grants us a +1d8 on damage when we crit with our rapier. Now Rapier crits, without smites, do 3d8+6 damage AND give us a bonus action attack through our Great Weapon Master feat.

At Level 9 we pick up 3rd level spells. For us this is another big milestone level as we gain access to the major mobility and attack buffing spell — Haste. Another gem coming from our Oath of Vengeance subclass. Haste gives us 3 attacks per round — four if we crit or kill. It also gives us advantage on all dex saves. This beautifully synergizes with our +7 bonus to dexterity saves by this level. Last of all, it doubles our base movement speed to 60 for both walking and flying. Haste is thus the third leg of our mobility platform that now includes Radiant Soul (flight), Misty Step, and Haste. All give us the ability to deliver our increasingly devastating attacks over larger and larger portions of the battlefield. Who needs ranged weapons when you have the means to reach your foes with near impunity. Some caution here is advisable. All these spells and powers take prep to set up or burn your bonus action. In addition, Haste is a concentration magic. You are +5 to your Constitution saves at this time. But Haste can still go down from damage or be dispelled. When this happens, your action economy takes a serious hit. So keep these limitations in mind when deploying Haste.

At Level 10, you gain Aura of Courage — a buff your allies will love you for.

And by Level 11 your attacks become even more potent through Improved Divine Smite. Your now doing 2d8+6 damage on each attack with your rapier without magic item support. If you’re Hasted, you apply this damage 3-4 times each round. That’s powerful consistent damage. If you turn on your kill switch — Radiant Soul + Oath of Enmity, you’re making all these attacks with advantage and you’re doing an additional 11 radiant damage on one of these strikes on a turn. All without adding in SMITES. When you do SMITE, you’re adding up to 5d8 damage with a level 3 spell slot. This is amazing on a number of levels. So let’s do another NOVA-crit assessment. In total on a NOVA-crit round in which you have Haste active, you hit on every attack, and you SMITE on every attack, you do a total of 11d8+23d8+35 damage. This averages out to 190 damage when adding in the extra d8 and one reroll from Piercer. With a rapier. Brutal! You are now competitive with some of the top NOVA builds while also maintaining a solid presence on the battle field when you aren’t blowing things up. You’re also very mobile when you choose to be and you have good survivability and defenses.

Hitting Level 12 we take an ASI to bump Dexterity to 20. This feels really good. We have probably already shed medium armor for Studded Leather. With a DEX of 20, our defenses are now strong — just 1 shy of those with plate mail and shield. Our initiative is now +5. And we have a Dexterity saving throw bonus of +8. Our base weapon damage again bumps — going to 2d8+7 with our Rapier. Sweetness!

Level 13 gives us some more spell goodies in the form of Banishment and Dimension Door. Banishment is a great trick for removing bads from the field. It’s a Charisma save which can be hard for many monsters to make. Just remember this spell is Concentration. So it may interfere with some of your other choices. Dimension Door is a big Bampf that takes an action to cast. But when you need to move 500 feet you have it. Another spell I’m going to recommend for this level is Greater Find Steed. We are already mobile through various spell and power options. But summoning a Pegasus with 90 feet of flight speed gives us even more range on a big battlefield. Remember, though, that we are not optimized for Mounted Combat. So the Pegasus’s survivability will rely a lot on your positioning on the battlefield.

Level 14 gives us Cleansing Touch with is a good, if situational, debuff remover.

Level 15… Ah… Delicious Level 15… gives us the wonderful, wonderful power adding on to our Oath of Enmity that is Soul of Vengeance. So against our sworn foe, with Haste active, we are making between 4 and 5 attacks per round if the baddie makes an attack. To be clear, the nasty doesn’t have to attack us for our Dexadin to get this benefit. It just has to attack something.

Coming to Level 16, we get another feat or ASI. At this level we really want some higher saving throws and so do our allies. So we are going to finally bump our Charisma — this time to 18. An 18 Charisma gives us +4 to all our saves. Allies in our aura also gain this benefit — which is set to expand to a 30 foot radius pretty soon. So now is a great time to give the Aura of Protection benefit a boost.

At Level 17 we gain Hold Monster and Scrying as well as 5th level spell slots. Hold Monster is an even better version of Hold Person. One that is made even more potent now that we have an 18 Cha. Scrying is a really cool spell for a Vengeance Paladin — afforing you with another tool for tracking down your sworn foes. Worthy of mention at this point is the level 3 spell Spirit Shroud — which up-cast to level 5 nets us an additional +2d8 on damage per hit. We probably still prefer Haste due to its synergistic benefits coming from mobility, defense, and the extra hasted action attack. However, Spirit Shroud is only a bonus action to cast. And though it requires concentration like Haste, it does not have the major drawback for ending the spell. Something to think about. Also worth mentioning is Banishing Smite. This is situationally very dangerous as it can be used on both melee and ranged attacks — dealing +5d10 damage and granting the ability to potentially remove a foe from combat entirely if they have less than 50 hit points remaining.

At Level 18 we get big expanded auras — that’s 30 feet for our Aura of Protection and Aura of Courage. Our allies are going to really love this. At this level, let’s do our last NOVA-Crit damage assessment. With the kill switch that is Radiant Soul and Oath of Enmity turned on, with Haste active, and if our chosen foe makes an attack, we end up with 5 attacks — 4 on our turn and 1 on our off turn. On our turn we do 11d8+30d8+46 or 233 average damage including Piercer. On our off-turn we do 7d8+25 for another 57 damage totaling 290 damage in one round without magic item support and assuming a critical, all smites at highest dice and all hits land. Devastating. It is worth noting that as a Paladin we are also going to see major befits from magic item drops at this level. So take this into account when comparing with other NOVA builds that may see less potential benefit from item drops. Heavy weapon Paladins and Heavy Weapon fighters, though, may see more benefit from magic items than a Dexadin. So YYMV.

We finish off at level 19 and 20 with 20 Charisma and our beautiful capstone in Avenging Angel which allows us to swiftly fly around the battlefield terrifying our enemies and buffing our own attacks and those of our allies when those enemies do succumb to fear. The 20 Charisma again bumps us up as a caster, increases the force of our magnetic persona, and buffs our saves as well as those of our allies. Some mention should be given to the Mobility feat — which might be tempting. I’m most likely to take Cha 20. But if you like Mobility — go for it! As for mobility, our Avenging Angel Capstone gives us 60 feet of flying speed, lasts 1 hour, and applies a frightened de-buff to our foes for 1 minute that also gives us and our allies advantage on attack rolls against them. One key benefit is the fact that such foes only get one save from this effect. So we are both super-mobile and super-devastating against mobs that don’t have fear immunity while our vengeful wings are sprouted.

And that Completes our Gish Dexadin Ultimate Duelist Build!

Whew! What a wild ride! I didn’t know how involved this character optimization post would be when I first started it. But this, at last, is the culmination of our Dexadin-build. A straight class ultimate duelist build with serious mobility, strong AC, good hp, and a devastating rapier. Fast on initiative, she will beat her foes to the punch most of the time and many will be lucky to survive even one round of her focus-fire attacks when she decides to lay down the heat. A very fun Stab and Smite Gish with lots of surprises up her sleeve. I hope you enjoy playing her. I’ll be playing this wonderful build and RP design as Morgen Schnee tonight and almost every Thursday on Twitch. Join me there if you fancy!

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