Red Dragon Disciple
Champion of Torm
Weapon Master: As the name implies, this class is geared towards mastery of a (melee) weapon type. In order to become a Weapon Master, your character needs five points of BAB, four points in Intimidate, and the following Feats: Dodge, Mobility, Expertise, Spring Attack, Whirlwind Attack and Weapon Focus in your weapon of choice. That’s a whole lot of prerequisites, and your character needs a 13 in Dexterity and Intelligence to be able to attain them. Starting as a Fighter is highly recommended (and, in fact, Valen has the exact same combination), as the additional bonus feats will make the task easier, and Weapon Specialization will make your character even more adept at melee. Weapon Masters don’t gain any additional abilities in terms of weapons or armour, so whatever your character’s other class(es) allow applies. They have a d10 HP progression base and get one point of BAB per level. They gain two Skill points per level, plus any extra from Intelligence bonuses, and one bonus Feat every three levels starting from level 13. Their primary Saving Throw is Reflex. Weapon Masters pick their favoured weapon at level 1, then gain an extra attack bonus every level between level 5 and 12. Starting from level 13, this bonus will go up one point every three levels, for a maximum bonus of seven at level 28. They also gain an ability that allows them to do maximum damage with their chosen weapon once per day per level. At level 5, their critical hit multiplier with said weapon will also increase by one. In other words, this class kicks butt. Obviously, the more Strength, the better, so dwarves and half-orcs will excel at this one. Humans will also be able to fill the Feat pre-reqs a little faster.
Red Dragon Disciple: Possibly the most powerful prestige class of all. Although your character needs to be a Bard or a Sorcerer (and have eight points in Lore) to become an RDD, it actually works wonders for their melee capability. The idea is that s/he discovers dragon blood in her/his ancestry and cultivates it to become a half-dragon, even gaining some draconic traits, such as scales (level 1), the ability to breathe fire (level 3, starting at 2d10 damage up to 12d10 at level 28) or wings (level 10). The scales grant a one-point AC bonus at level 1, which progressively increases to a maximum of eight points at level 30. Starting from level 2, the RDD gains a number of attribute increases: two points to Strength at level 2 and 4, and four more at level 10; two points to Constitution at level 7; two points to Intelligence at level 9; and two points to Charisma at level 10. RDDs also have two primary Saving Throws: Fortitude and Will. And if that weren’t enough, starting from level 4, their HP progression changes from its initial d6 to d8, then d10 at level 6. As you can see, this is a godsend for Deekin. RDDs don’t gain any additional abilities in terms of weapons or armour (as if they needed more bonuses!), so whatever your character’s other class(es) allow applies. They get three points of BAB every four levels, a bonus Feat every four levels starting from level 14 and two Skill points per level, plus any extra from Intelligence bonuses. The RDD can basically make a Bard melee-proficient (not so much a Sorcerer), and adding a third melee class can only make this better. Race matters less than for other classes here, as attribute bonuses can mitigate any penalties, but if you want to capitalize on your RDD’s Bardic or Sorcerous arts, half-orcs and dwarves are probably not a good idea (although a half-orcish RDD will end up with a monstrous Strength score).
Champion of Torm: Despite its name, this class isn’t restricted to Paladins: any non-Evil character will do, as long as they also have seven points of BAB and Weapon Focus in any melee weapon. Still, it’s a bit limiting in terms of role-playing, as your character is essentially being asked to champion a very specific deity. Anyway, this class does ideally complement a Paladin’s skillset, but can also give some Paladin-like abilities to Fighters or Clerics, for example. CoTs have a d10 HP progression base and gain one point of BAB per level. They can use all simple and martial weapons, light and medium armour, and shields. They gain two Skill points per level, plus any extra from Intelligence bonuses, one bonus Feat every two levels between level 2 and 10, then one bonus Feat every four levels starting from level 14. They have two primary Saving Throws: Fortitude and Reflex. At level 2, they also learn Sacred Defense, which adds a one-point bonus to their Saving Throws every two levels. They can use a Paladin’s Lay on Hands and Smite Evil. At level 5, they learn Divine Wrath, which gives them damage reduction, a three-point bonus to attack, damage and Saving Throws once per day for a duration equal to their Charisma bonus. The bonuses increase every five levels, and, starting from level 15, the damage reduction does as well. Strength and Charisma are the important attributes here, which means that dwarves and half-orcs are less advisable choices.
Pale Master: Love the name. Unfortunately, while this is one of the few prestige classes targeted specifically at spellcasters, it…actually hampers their spellcasting, as the character stops gaining caster levels once they transition. So I just have to wonder who designed this damn thing. Anyway, this is for non-Good characters with at least three levels in Arcane spellcasting. Pale Masters are essentially necromancers. They don’t gain any additional abilities in terms of weapons or armour, so whatever your character’s other class(es) allow applies. They have a d6 HP progression base and get one point of BAB every two levels. They gain two Skill points per level, plus any extra from Intelligence bonuses, and one bonus Feat every three levels starting from level 13. They have two primary Saving Throws: Fortitude and Will. They start with an ability called Bone Skin, which raises their AC by two points per level, with an additional two points every four levels starting from level 4. Between level 5 and 10, they also gain an extra three HP per level, then five HP every five levels starting from level 15. Starting from level 6, they gain an ability to paralyze the enemy. At level 7, they become immune to Stun, Hold and Paralysis, and to critical hits at level 10. They can summon increasingly powerful skeletons once per day with Animate Dead starting from level 2, but also increasingly powerful undead creatures starting from level 4. They’re also able to kill weaker creatures outright just by touching them at level 10 and gain extra spells per day every odd level between 1 and 9. Not bad, but would you really trade actual spellcasting power for this? Anyway, if you must, Intelligence is the main attribute here, to make the most of a limited spell pool, so gnomes have an advantage over the other races.
Shifter: An extremely versatile class, but you need to know what you’re doing in order to be effective at it. Only Druids need apply, but they will also need to be able to cast level 3 spells, as well as the Alertness and Wild Shape Feats. Shifters don’t gain any additional abilities in terms of weapons or armour, so they’re restricted to light and medium armour, shields and Druidic weapons. They have a d8 HP progression base and get three points of BAB every four levels. They gain four Skill points per level, plus any extra from Intelligence bonuses, and one bonus Feat every three levels starting from level 13. They have two primary Saving Throws: Fortitude and Reflex. The entire gist of a Shifter is that their shapeshifting abilities are unparalleled, allowing them to modify their abilities and attributes to suit the situation. They start out being able to turn into any kind of wyrmling six times per day. Every two levels add another three types of creatures they can turn into, until level 7, and level 10 adds the final level of transformations. At level 4, they can turn into wyrmlings as many times as they like, then, every three levels, this applies to their subsequent shapeshifting tiers. They can also pick additional Feats to turn into various types of undead, golems, dragons or outsiders (creatures from other planes) three times per day. The problem is how the Shifter’s equipment behaves in another form: in some cases, weapon, armour and/or accessory properties merge with the form, but not in others, so you need to have a good memory or work out a handful of forms you want to use from a guide before playing. Considering the fact that a Shifter’s attributes are in constant flux, race matters less than for other classes, but half-orcs are the only ones that don’t get any real benefits.
Dwarven Defender: If your character is a Lawful dwarf and really wants to turtle up good, look no further. S/he will also need seven points of BAB, and the Dodge and Toughness Feats. This is a very rare instance of a race other than elves getting something specifically tailored for them in a BioWare game. Dwarven Defenders can use simple and martial weapons, all types of armour and shields. They have a d12 HP progression base, the highest of all classes, tied with Barbarians, and get one point of BAB per level. They gain two Skill points per level, plus any extras from Intelligence bonuses, and one bonus Feat every four levels starting from level 14. They have two primary Saving Throws: Fortitude and Will. The DDs’ bread-and-butter is the Defensive Stance ability, which roots them in place, but grants a two-point Strength bonus, a four-point Constitution and dodge bonus, and a two-point bonus to all Saves. Its number of uses per day increases from one at level 1 to 15 at level 29. At level 2, they gain Defensive Awareness, which upgrades at level 6 and 10. At first, it only allows them to retain their Dexterity AC bonus when caught unawares, but then makes them immune to flanking and grants them bonus saves when triggering traps. Finally, at level 6, they get a three-point damage reduction, which goes up by three more points every four levels, up to a maximum of 21 at level 30. Strength and Constitution are both important here, which is good news for dwarves, and the class also meshes very well with Fighter, their favoured class.