Last Updated: September 27, 2023
The Warmage is a simple, straight-forward take on spellcasting. A dedicated Blast and Striker, the Warmage forgoes all subtlety in favor of blowing stuff up and dealing piles of d6’s.
To be completely honest, the Warmage is a bad class. Its damage output is trivially higher than a Sorcerer, and the ability to equip armor can be easily replicated by a variety of other classes. In order to improve the warmage, look for ways to expand your spell list: Arcane Disciple, items like Runestaves, and classes like the Rainbow Servant.
Table of Contents
RPGBOT uses the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks, which tend to be more consistent than 3.5 handbooks. Because so little of 3.5 is available on the SRD, I will attempt to tag items with a superscript indicating their book of origin. For help identifying sourcebook abbreviations, see my Sourcebook Abbreviations Guide.
- : Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
- : OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
- : Good options. Useful often.
- : Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.
It’s important to note that I generally omit campaign-setting specific content. I am of the opinion that those options are intended to be limited to campaigns run in those settings, and as such they don’t really apply to a generic campaign. Those options also tend to be wildly unbalanced and rarely receive errata. I also omit the use of “Flaws” since they allow a massive increase in power with essentially no cost to the character.
Warmage Class Features: With d6 hit points the Warmage can’t take many hits, but it’s a bit better than the Wizard. : 1/2 BAB, but BAB doesn’t really matter. The few attacks which the Warmage will make will be touch attacks. : Will is the Warmage’s only good save, and with no major dependencies on Dexterity or Constitution you will need to make a point to boost your bad saves.. : Simple weapons give the warmage some nice backup options when you run low on spells, and access to light armor and light shields will give you a better AC than most arcane spellcasters. Armored Mage allows the Warmage to cast spells unhindered, and at level 8 the Warmage can move up to medium armor. : 2+ skill ranks, and a very thin skill list. The Warmage needs a bit of Intelligence for Warmage Edge, but 12 Intelligence will get you all of the Warmage’s interesting skills. : The Warmage is a Charisma-based spontaneous caster, similar to the Sorcerer. However, unlike the Sorcerer, the Warmage’s spell list is limited to a very small set of offensive spells. (Ex): Wearing armor and shields while casting spells will give you a somewhat survivable AC. (Ex): This bonus is nice at very low levels, but it will be quickly eclipsed by caster-level based damage. It is the Warmage’s only ability which depends on Intelligence, so it’s hard to justify putting a lot of resources into boosting Intelligence. It’s especially nice at first level because it makes cantrips do respectable damage. (Ex): Limited to Evocation spells, but this opens up a lot of fantastic spells which aren’t on the Warmage spell list. This is especially nice because the Warmage got no new spells added to their spell list after Complete Arcane was published. : 50% more damage for free once per day. : Frequently mistaken for Widen spell. Enlarge improves a spell’s range. Very few spells have range problems, which makes this very situational. : Excellent for high level spells with small areas of effect. : Maximum damage always feels good.
Alternate Class Features
- PHB2: The warmage really needs access to non-blaster spells like Fly to stay relevant at high levels. Casting spells a full spell level behind everyone else is painful, but the added versatility is fantastic.
The Warmage’s abilities largely resemble a Sorcerer; strong emphasis on Charisma, and the rest is mostly focused on survivability.: Dump. : Essential for saves, AC, and ranged touch attacks. : Hit points are crucial. : Take a bit for Warmage Edge, but don’t bend over backwards to improve it. The damage bonus is fairly small. : Take a bit for Will saves. : The Warmage’s spellcasting ability.
Bonuses to Charisma are are incredibly rare, so look for other bonuses. Dexterity is nice, and small size is always good for strict spellcasters.: The penalty to Charisma really hurts, but the defensive abilities are tempting. : The bonus to Dexterity is nice, but the penalty to Constitution is annoying. : A bonus to Constitution adds some survivability, and the penalty to Strength doesn’t matter. The Gnome’s other abilities are largely wasted on the Warmage. : Awful. : Penalties to both Intelligence and Charisma. : Small size and a bonus to Dexterity make the Halfling great with rays and ranged touch attacks. : A bonus feat is always welcome.
- (con): Essential for almost any spellcaster.
- (cha): The Warmage has the Charisma to be a Face, but lacks access to Bluff and Diplomacy.
- (int): One of the most important Knowledge skills.
- (int): Situational.
- (int): Great for identifying spells.
This section does not cover metamagic feats. For help with metamagic, see my Practical Guide to Metamagic
- CAr: Spell Resistance can really shut down a Warmage, so the ability to reliably overcome spell resistance can be very helpful. Typically enemies will have spell resistance somewhere around 8+CR, which means that Arcane Mastery allows you to constantly overcome the SR of any enemy up to 2 CR’s above your level.
- CAr: Lets you upgrade to medium armor, heavy armor if you’re 8th-level or higher.
- CAr: Tempting at a glance, but the damage bonus is pitiful.
- CAr: The Warmage is a spontaneous caster, so you get plenty of spell slots per day.
- CAr: The Warmage’s spell list is very short, so you shouldn’t have any problems learning all of the worthwhile spells. Some people interpret this feat to let you learn any spell from any spell list so long as it fits the spell level requirements, but I cosnider that a very dubious interpretation of the rules. Check with your DM.
- CC: Normally reserved for melee classes, Knowledge Devotion can be a great option for Warmages who depend on rays and touch attacks, and the bonus class skill can be helpful for qualifying for prestige classes.
- CAr: Familiars are fantastic. Check out my Practical Guide to Familiars.
- PHB2: Allows your familiar to cast cantrips and 1st and 2nd-level spells, effectively making them a small turret.
- CM: Most of the Warmage’s damage output is energy damage, so ignoring 10 points of resistance allows you to keep using your favorite spells with less concern for energy types. Of course, Warmages also have several damage spells which fall under Conjuration, so they won’t be covered.
- PHB: Spell resistance becomes very common at high levels, but Arcane Mastery is more reliable.
- PHB: Arcane Master and Spell Penetration should allow you to always overcome the SR of any enemy you could expect to encounter.
- RotD: Allows you to use your lower level spell slots to cast your higher level spells. Not always useful, but it can make it much easier to reuse your best spells.
- PHB: Nice for touch spells and rays, but you shouldn’t have any trouble hitting with touch attacks.
- CAr: Not a ton of damage, but in theory you can apply the bonus to each ray of Scorching Ray, which adds up quickly.
- : Helpful when your spells run low at low levels.
- : Commonly pictured with warmages and Sorcerers, but totally useless.
Armor is presented in the order in which you should acquire it, rather than alphabetical order.
- : Starting armor.
- : Starting armor if you want a shield, but you probably want two hands to use a crossbow. Once you have enough spell slots that you don’t want a crossbow, the light shield is essentially the same as a buckler because it still allows you to hold items in your shield hand.
- : Permanent armor. Consider upgrading to Mithral if you have a lot of Dexterity, but it’s not essential.
Introduced in the Magic Item Compendium, runestaves are a fantastic supplement to any spontaneous caster’s spell list. Many runestaves offer utility options which will make nice improvements to the Warmage’s spell list.
- DMG: Essential.
- DMG: A +1 to caster level means a lot of extra damage from your spells. Expensive, but a very worthwhile investment at high levels.
- DMG: Vest of Resistance is identical and takes up a much less useful slot.
- PHB/MIC: Metamagic is a great choice for many casters, but some metamagic feats aren’t useful enough to justify spending a feat on them.
- MIC: Same cost as a cloak, and takes up the largely useless “torso” slot.
Multiclassing and Prestige Classes
- CD: A common choice for optimizing arcane casters, the Rainbow Servant grants access to three domains and their associate abilities and spells, and at 10th level you can learn spells from the Cleric spell list.