Jun 072013
 

Staff of Nat Gann
You could still have a DEX build if you were willing to use this for 16 levels

Long ago, in a version of DDO many light years away, Dexterity-based melee builds were common. Maybe even preferred.

Seriously. I am not even kidding.

But the game was different then. If you Vorpal’d something, it died, instead of just taking 100 hit points. Similarly, if successfully Smite’d (Smote?) a construct, or Disrupted an undead, they died. Poof. Gone.

Weapon effects like Wounding and Puncturing (or better, both) mattered, because if you reduced monster Constitution to zero, they died. Not just stunned for one or two seconds, but dead. Poof. Gone.

In a world where weapon effects were deadly, the melee character that could hit the most often – not just the hardest hitter – was quite useful and popular. And those characters where frequently Dexterity-based.

See? I wasn’t kidding. DEX-based melee was a viable build.

But then things changed, and weapon effects changed too. Dexterity builds died out except for a few diehard adherents who don’t care if their character is viable in Epic content.


Part of the appeal of the DEX build is the synergy that DEX brings, not just to your attack skill but overall. Very high dexterity means very high Reflex saves, and probably means high armor class too. It means a lot of skills will be very high, not just Rogue skills like Hide and Open Lock but everyone-skills like Balance. Very high DEX also means a very high ranged attack, and if you have Weapon Finesse, it also means very high melee attack. Sadly there is no feat that converts DEX to damage bonus.

Strength on the other hand, STR does add to melee damage. And melee attack. And two skills, one of which is Swim. But that’s all.

Clearly DEX is more useful overall than STR, but melee attack and damage are such a key portion of DDO today that no one can afford to focus on DEX and expect to melee effectively in high-level or (especially) Epic content. You must max your STR if you are a melee character, you just must.


If you were really super-determined to avoid a STR melee build, there are a few weapons in the game that allow you to use a stat other than STR for your melee attack and damage.

Actually there are more than I thought. While researching for this post I learned there are 25 of them, seven of which are available in Epic versions. Of those, eleven allow DEX-based attack and damage (four Epic). Including a great sword!

None of the weapons are top-shelf, but some are decent, especially the Envenomed Blade. But most are second-tier at best, here is the full list.

So one could still have a DEX build if one was willing to acquire – and stick with – a very narrow range of named weapons.


But that is changing when the new enhancements come out.

Dexterity melee will still not be available to everyone universally, but for the first time, it will be available to specifically-built characters even without a named weapon.

The Thief-Acrobat set of enhancements includes these two*:

  • Acrobat (0 AP, 1 Rog) – You can also use your DEX modifier to hit with Quarterstaves
  • Stick Fighting (5 AP, 3 Rog) – You can now use your DEX modifier for damage with Quarterstaves

And the Assassin set of enhancements includes these:

  • Knife in the Darkness (0 AP, Rog 0) – You gain proficiency with Kukris. You can also use your Dexterity modifier to hit with Daggers and Kukris.
  • Dagger in the Back (5 AP, Rog 3) – You can now use your DEX modifier for damage with Daggers and Kukris

* The existing Thief Acrobat prestige enhancement already allows DEX bonus to attacks when using a staff, but only to attack not to damage, and only when sneak attacking.

And this is why I believe we are going to see DEX builds again. Probably not to the scale we used to see, the DEX armor class bonus is not as useful as it once was since it is limited by heavy armor and defense now includes not just your AC but also your PRR.

But still. Three different DEX-based weapons, none of which are awesome but all of which are actual real weapon types, as opposed to specially named outliers, available to anyone who is willing to splash three levels of Rogue and invest 5 AP. Maybe more to come when we see the completed and filled-out versions of the new enhancements?

Rapiers would be outstanding!

🙂 😀 🙂

  8 Responses to “The Return of the DEX Build”

Comments (8)
  1. Thanks for clarifying what you hinted at in my Monk alpha enhancements review, as Ninja Spy builds there also get something that smells like Weapon Finesse, too.

  2. I enjoyed this piece very much. Strong work!

  3. As well I noticed Ranger Tempest looks to be leaning in that direction as well. Scim’s act as light weapons and you get DEX for attack and damage.

  4. Dagger in the back works will all finesse-able weapons including rapiers if you have the weapon finesse feat. So rogues can get Dex to-hit and damage on all light weapons and rapiers.

    Here is the description from the wiki:

    “Dagger in the Back: You may use Dex for damage with daggers and kukris. If you have weapon finesse, this applies to melee weapons with which you can use your dex modifier to hit.”

  5. updated the wiki list to include ML of each weapon and to include Rebellion (Short-sword from Fall of Truth)

  6. My monkeys shall finally see actual usage from my dream edges and not just have them around to look pretty. Also dream edges should really get a red slot.

What do you think?

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