Abjurant Champion is one of my favorite classes, and it’s probably the best “gish” (combination arcane spellcaster/warrior) classes in 3.5. While it’s not nearly so easy to play as a Duskblade, it’s extremely powerful and can match the Duskblade’s damage output while still maintaining access to the spell list of a full spellcaster like a wizard. However, because the class depends heavily on base attack bonus for prerequisites, it’s still a fighter-equivalent. Don’t expect to turn the Abjurant Champion into a supremacy caster. Instead, focus where it excels: as a tank and a striker.
The Abjurant Champion’s biggest drawback is that it has no built-in offensive options beyond spellcasting. You’ll be dependent on your base classes, feats, and gear for the majority of your damage output.
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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.
Abjurant Champion Class Features: d20 hit points is pretty good. : Full BAB. : Only good will saves. Fortunately, your base classes should give you a nice boost to your bade Fortitude saves. Proficiencies: None, but you don’t need any. : 2+ skills, and a really short skill list. Expect to buy a lot of skills cross-class if you’re Intelligence-based. : Perfect spellcasting advancement. (Su): Combine Shield and Luminous Armor to get double the bonus. Then add a deflection bonus from Protection From Evil or from Deflect, and get the bonus a third time. This is what makes Abjurant Champions so hard to kill. (Su): Shield’s duration is really short, as are several other powerful Abjurations, so this is really helpful. (Su): Throw up buffs without cutting into your damage output. Shield, protection from energy, etc. (Su): Your spells can replicate most of the same effects, and probably do it better. (Ex): This means that your caster level will be just one less than your character level unless you take more than the bare minimum number of levels in classes that don’t get full BAB.
I’ll assume that you want to enter Abjurant Champion as quickly as possible. With that in mind, you generally want to go for two base classes: a combat class, and an arcane class. However, there are a handful of classes which can satisfy all of the prerequisites on their own.
Without any early-entry shenanigans, expect to take your first level of Abjurant Champion at 7th level. You will typically want 4 levels in your martial class, 1 in your arcane class, and one in either of the two depending on your class arrangement.
Martial classes need to provide two things: base attack bonus and proficiency in a martial weapon. Generally you want a full BAB class, but there may be cases which make a 2/3 BAB class worthwhile.
- PHB: Full BAB and great hit points, but Rage won’t help you much.
- PHB2: Duskblade is amazing. You get Combat Casting for free at 2nd level, saving you a feat. At third level, you get Arcane Channeling, which offers you a fantastic offensive option that the Abjurant Champion desperately needs. On top of that, Duskblade gets Lesser Deflect as 1st-level spell, giving you a great way to apply Abjurant Armor without cutting into your important spell slots. 4th level won’t get you much, but 5th level gets you 2nd-level spells and Quick Cast 1/day, which is essentially identical to Sudden Maximize Spell. I recommend Duskblade 2/Fighter 2/caster 2, Duskblade 3/Fighter 2/Caster 1, or Duskblade 5/Caster 1 if you go for Dusblade.
- CW: Arcane Resistance can be helpful, Mettle is great, and a familiar can be fun, but the Hexblade’s spells and curse won’t do much for you.
- PHB: Generally the go-to for the Abjurant Champion’s martial class. Bonus feats really help, and the Fighter makes it easy to take only 2 or 4 levels since 5th level is a dead level. Consider the Thug variant out of Unearthed Arcana unless you’re dead set on using heavy armor for some reason.
- PHB: Monks get proficiency with handaxes. I don’t know that I would use a monk base unless the game was starting at a high enough level that you already had a few levels of Abjurant Champion, but it’s a possibility and 2 levels of Monk gets you some great options.
- PHB: If you want to go for Sorcerer as your arcane class, Paladin is a good option for your martial class. Double-dipping on Charisma is great, and Divine Grace makes you very difficult to kill when combined with the Abjurant Champion’s absurd AC. Smite Evil also provides a nice attack bonus boost, though the damage will lag behind very quickly. 4 levels gets you Turn Undead (for Divine Feats) and if you invest a little bit of Wisdom (11 or 12 is enough) you can get 1st-level paladin spells. Rhino’s Rush is pretty amazing. I recommend Paladin 2/Fighter 2/Sorcerer 2 or Paladin 4/Sorcer 2.
- PHB: Rangers are bad, and nothing they get is helpful for the Abjurant Champion.
- CW: If you want to go for a finesse build (which isn’t a bad idea since Radiant Armor doesn’t have a maximum dexterity bonus), a level of Swashbuckler is basically the same as a level in fighter, except you get more skiills. A single level of swashbuckler also makes a great filler level if you need one more BAB for some reason. 3 levels gets you Insightful Strike, which is nice on a dexterity/intelligence build.
Your arcane class only needs to be able to cast one 1st-level Abjuration spell, which gives you a lot of options. Realistically, you need an abjuration spell that grants an AC bonus to capitalize on Abjurant Armor
- PHB: The choice between Sorcerer and Wizard is always a hard one. Abjurant Champions generally stick to a small set of favored spells, but since you’re already giving up so many spell levels it can be hard to be one more level behind a wizard.
- PHB: Always a solid, reliable option. High Intelligence and all of the knowledge skills means that you can use Knowledge Devotion easily.
Dual-role classes are a bad idea here. Don’t use them for this.
- PHB: Bards get spells that technically qualify them, but they don’t get any actual defensive abjuration spells, so most of the Abjurant Champion is wasted on them.
- PHB: The Abjurant Champion can’t get by on the Duskblade’s tiny number of defensive spells, and you’ll lose much of the Duskblade’s offensive capacity with little to show for it.
- PHB: Thanks to the Stalwart Sorcere alternate class feature, Sorcerers can work on their own. It’s a terrible idea because your BAB will be terrible, but it’s technically possible.
Because the ways you can build an abjurant champion are so wildly different, I can’t effectively recommend specific ability scores arrangements. Try to start with 16 in your spellcasting ability, and otherwise build yourself for whatever martial class you select.
Choosing between Strength and Dexterity is hard for an Abjurant Champion. Radiant Armor replaces real armor, so you don’t need to worry about maximum dexterity bonus, and high Dexterity will provide a lot of extra AC. However, high Strength opens up Power Attack and good options for charging. Pick whichever setup fits your play style and character concept best, but don’t be afraid to invest in all of your ability scores when items become cheap enough to do so.
Your choice of race will have a big influence on your build style, mostly due to the ability score modifiers. Because abjurant champions can be built in so many ways, most races will work. Size is of little importance unless you plan to build yourself for reach.: Dwarves are naturally durable, so their traits complement the durability of the Abjurant Champion. Elf: . Gnome: . Half-Elf: . Half-Orc: . Halfling: . : A free feat goes a long way, open up class combinations that aren’t dependent on bonus feats from their base classes.
- : Going for two-handed weapons? Get a falchion.
- : Going for one-handed weapons or weapon finesse? Get a rapier.
Most of your armor bonus will come from Luminous Armor. Using real armor to exceed the +8 AC bonus from Greater Luminous Armor is possible, but it’s a lot of gold that you don’t really need to spend.
- : If you want magic armor properties (Death Ward is pretty good for +1), wear some real armor. It also lets you wear an armor crystal.
- : A nice cheap way for arcane spellcasters to get a small boost, but for you it’s basically just a vehicle for an armor crystal.
- PHB2: Fantastic for monsters with single big attacks or for touch attack spells. Cast as an immediate action, so you don’t need to cast it at the start of combat like Shield.
- PHB: Great AC, but the duration can be a problem unless you know to cast it ahead of time. Extended Abjuration helps quite a bit with this, and Swift Abjuration allows you to cast it as a swift action without cutting into your damage output.
- BoED: +5 armor bonus to AC, a -4 penalty on melee attacks against you, and unlike Mage Armor you can apply the Abjurant Armor bonus. There’s a strength damage cost, but if you have someone in the party with lesser restoration you’re good to go. If your cleric doesn’t want to spare a slot for lesser restoration for you every day, buy them a pearl of power or an eternal wand.
- BoED: Another +3 AC on top of Luminous Armor
- DMG: You lose another level of spellcasting, but you get a bonus feat and after that full BAB and spellcasting advancement. Fortitude is the Eldritch Knight’s only good save, which can be helpful since the Abjurant Champion’s Fortitude saves are weak.