Author: Rigby Shepard – Last updated July 25th 2023
This handbook follows the same color coding scheme which is common among other handbooks or build guides for Pathfinder. To help with those that have difficulty with colors there is also a “star” rating, with 1 being the lowest and 4 being the highest. If any word is color-coded then it is referencing those ratings, though in the case of blue text with underlines they are hyperlinks to the specific word’s rules or reference page.
- Red: Bad. These are normally the worst parts of a feature or parts you should not focus on.
- Orange: Ok. Features that function but are not generally outstanding.
- Green: Good. Reasonably applicable and can work in many situations.
- Blue: Fantastic. Parts you will love having or should try your best to maintain.
The Dragoon is one of the most iconic martial classes in Final Fantasy, using their Jump ability to potentially avoid enemy attacks while later crashing down to deal damage. This capability is translated into FFd20 with the Jump and Deadly Lancer class features, allowing the dragoon to use their Acrobatics skill to jump to deal additional damage. This allows them to become a highly mobile melee combatant without the need to use a mount.
Before you roll a dragoon, I feel the need to offer a foreword. In its current state, dragoon is designed to underperform in some of the most common combat situations. There isn’t much way around this, as it was intentional in the design. It will generally fall behind other martial classes, such as warrior and chocobo knight, and doesn’t have much else that it can offer beyond that outside of certain archetypes. That being said, optimal isn’t always the most fun. While the intent of this handbook is to help with optimization, fun is the primary reason you are playing FFd20, and if you want to play a dragoon that crashes down on their enemies, then you should. Please check with your GM first to make sure this is the right class for their campaign, as playing a dragoon can end up putting more work onto their shoulders as they design their dungeons.
Hit Points: d10 Hit Dice is one of the highest available, and you’ll want the extra HP as a melee martial.
Base Attack Bonus: Doesn’t get much better than Full BAB.
Saves: Two good saves; Fortitude and Reflex. This lets dragoons avoid most nasty effects, but Will saves will always be an issue.
Proficiencies: Dragoons are proficient with all armor types and no shields, as well as all simple weapons, and all weapons in the spears and polearms weapon groups. This includes some exotic weapons, such as the elven/mandragora branched spear. Dragoons have no shortage of weapons and armors they would want. A popular armor choice is the agile breastplate, to reduce penalty to Acrobatics checks made to jump. Dragoons also have a choice on whether or not they want a weapon with reach. For weapons with reach, fauchards, glaives, guisarmes, and elven/mandragora branched spears are good choices. For weapons without reach, halberds, totem spears, and nodachis are good choices.
Skills: 4+INT mod is the lowest value any class can have, and Acrobatics demands one rank per level. You will need to rely on the rest of your party for most skill checks.
Jump: The dragoon’s bread, their iconic ability. This allows them to close the gap very easily with charges, leaping over patches of difficult terrain depending on their Acrobatics check, and makes jumping in general easier. Also gives a scaling increase to maximum jump distance for long and high jumps, though you can also increase your movement speed to increase it much faster. You can also use the result of this check – with all your jumping bonuses – to avoid AoOs by moving through threatened squares.
Deadly Lancer: If Jump is the dragoon’s bread, Deadly Lancer is their butter. This is broken down into a few separate categories.
Long Jump: Your basic gap closer. Deal the equivalent of a thief’s sneak attack damage on a charge or attack if you jump the distance to your target. Easy, right? Held back by having no effective ways to increase the damage and only being able to do this once per round. It might be “bad sneak attack,” but it’s a nice bit of bonus damage while you close in to melee.
High Jump: Same as long jump, but for flying enemies. It’s possible to increase the damage of this one with a talent, but not its effective range. Flying enemies might take advantage of their move speeds and keep away from your jump range. You can still avoid AoOs with this, as your high jump is still a high jump – and thus provides your jumping bonuses to avoid AoOs – until you land.
Dive: This ability could land on every different star rating, depending on factors like jumping rules being used, your combat environment, whether or not you can fly, your racial traits, what level you are, and what talents you took. It provides an attack bonus and an extra d6 of Deadly Lancer to a maximum of your dragoon level for every 10 ft. you can jump with Super Jump or fly up above an enemy on the ground. Movement from this avoids AoOs. This is ok early on, as it lets you get in some extra accuracy and damage on your attacks, but you will burn through Super Jump’s daily uses very quickly. If you can fly naturally without limit, or have some other way to constantly start a battle from high elevation, this is good since you can use this without a daily use ability. It will fall off once you can attack multiple times in a round. This will usually be at 6th level, but can happen as early as 4th or 5th. You take that fall damage if you miss without using Super Jump, but you’ll start reliably hitting as soon as full attacking becomes a better alternative anyway, and fliers can just choose to dive from a safe height. If you’re fighting indoors often, or if you’re outdoors and enemies are spotted from farther away, this feature is basically unusable unless your GM conveniently raises ceiling heights just for you and/or you take the Glide talent. In my experience, the former will never happen, and the latter would require a talent tax that still puts you behind other mobile classes on an open field. If you tough it out and make it to 13th level, Multi-Jump can turn this into a fantastic feature, assuming it doesn’t get stopped by the environment still. This still ends up with Dive being useful for only about half of your dragoon levels. Overall, it’s a situational ability that takes half of all the useful features in the class for itself, leaving the rest spread out among dragoon’s other abilities and leaving dragoons in the lurch if they can’t dive.
Pole Fighting: Can use an immediate action to ignore the reach quality of a spear, lance, or polearm and gain it back with another immediate. Useful if attacking something that got in too close, and dragoon shouldn’t need most of the other swift/immediate actions when stuck in close range. Obviously bad if you don’t have a reach weapon.
Strengthened Agility: Allows a dragoon to use STR and DEX for their Acrobatics skill modifier, giving them more options for character builds. May not be used depending on your stats.
Dragoon Talents: There’s a lot of talent tax and a lot of underwhelming choices in these. While some of these are fantastic, there are equally as many bad choices. Be careful what you pick and at what level you pick it.
Hardy Landing: Reduces fall damage by a certain distance scaling by level. Necessary for a class that is based around jumping, though it scales slowly. Strangely, this will be very quickly outscaled by your bonus to Acrobatics. Super Jump eliminates the need for this completely, but it is ok for dragoons with natural flight, as they can choose a safe height from which to dive. If you need this, are still taking falling damage, and don’t have racial traits that help, consider getting Boots of the Cat, a cheap magic item that minimizes all falling damage.
Super Jump: Once per round free action to increase your Acrobatics by +10 for jumping and makes your high jump DC multiplier 1 instead of 4. You also ignore falling damage for that jump. You won’t be able to use it many times per day starting out, which hurts Dive’s usefulness at early levels. Even when high jumping and dives start to fall off in usefulness, this still stays strong as a mainstay for your gap closer opening round. Can become out of this world if you use the rule that you reach the height of your high jump during a long jump. However, this is a rule from a core book that Paizo lifted from D&D 3.5e. Neither Paizo nor Wizards of the Coast foresaw people making homebrew classes based on Final Fantasy dragoons, and so dragoon was designed around not using this rule. Consult your GM before jumping over tall buildings in a single bound.
Armor Training: This class feature gives a dragoon more options for armor than only a mithral agile breastplate. Decrease armor check penalty, increase maximum dexterity bonus, and even eliminate movement speed penalties for medium and eventually heavy armor. This enables being a DEX based dragoon while still wearing heavy armor, for increased defensive capabilities.
Lancet: Swift action to spend a blood point to gain a circumstance bonus to attack and heal yourself for your static deadly lancer damage when you hit. This lasts until you hit, or your turn ends, so even if you whiff your first attack you can get it on a follow-up. Useful to heal yourself up if you keep taking fall damage from dives, or to boost your attack in the middle of a full attack to offset the iterative penalty. This is also the main reason why you’d want to boost your Constitution – besides health and Fort save – before 11th level. If you do not use a piercing weapon, this is a bad feature that you can’t use, though it’s possible to take a feat to enable it.
Dragon’s Breath: 1d6 elemental damage per dragoon level in a 15 ft. line or cone. I recall several abilities that did 1d6 damage per level that got removed because players complained they were underpowered for their cost, and this one’s even worse. You have to take a talent to make its range be able to hit a decent number of targets or use a different element type, and there’s no way to avoid friendly fire. Don’t waste your blood points on this dead class feature.
Tail Sweep: Trip at least three contiguous squares worth of enemies that you threaten. Doesn’t provoke AoOs, no danger of being tripped in return, and gains a bonus equal to half your dragoon level to the CMB. Trip builds may like this, but anyone not already built for tripping probably won’t bother and will continue doing their normal damage routine. It can be ok if you get many enemies running up to you in clusters so that you can regularly trip three or more targets at once. If this happens, buy your GM some pizza, they want you to have fun and you should thank them for it.
Dragon Sight: Swift action to give yourself what is almost effectively true-seeing for 1 minute, and a free action to keep it going? The big Perception boost is just icing on the cake, this is the best Blood of the Dragon ability, and the first one you’ll care about using if you don’t have a piercing weapon.
Stardiver: As part of a dive, make an AoE that can be selectively increased based on how high you jumped, dealing your Deadly Lancer damage as an AoE. Being able to choose how big it is helps avoid friendly fire, but it can’t be used with Multi-Jump, which has already proven to be a superb ability by the time you get this. The only reason to use this over Multi-Jump is if the surrounding area is jam-packed with enemies in every space, or if your archetype trades out Multi-Jump.
Elusive Jump: Immediate action to gain a bonus to AC when attacked, and then jump 15 feet away after all the attacks resolve. Can also apply this bonus to Reflex saves if you jump out of an AoE. It might seem bad if that’s all you use it for, but the real value comes in setting up flanking opportunities after an enemy has moved and attacked by jumping past them. You can also give yourself a clear shot at squishy back line targets this way by getting past the front line.
Polearm Training: Scaling bonus to attack and damage with spears, lances, and polearms. Effectively dragoon’s version of Chosen Weapon.
Wyrmkiller: Lets you make Knowledge: Arcana about dragons and creatures with the dragon subtype as if you had invested a skill rank every level into Knowledge: Arcana. You can also invest the skill ranks to get a huge boost. The real meat of this is always maximizing deadly lancer damage versus dragons and creatures with the dragon subtype. Obviously bad if you never face such creatures.
Swoop of the Dragon: Increases your attack bonus and removes the AC penalty when charging, useful for Deadly Lancer. It’s not a big boost, but it’s invaluable to have if you want to charge at all. Keep in mind, this doesn’t apply to dives.
Wall Jumping: Jump off of walls during a long jump to change direction, provides an Acrobatics bonus if you do it two times or less. Useful for tight spaces and getting around creatures that would otherwise stop a charge. You can’t run along the walls, and you can’t change direction in mid-air like Aranea or Estinien. Can end up being a cheeky way to reroll a bad Acrobatics check, but you shouldn’t have to worry about not reaching your target with your checks by this level.
Ride the Wind: Treats all dives as if you dove from 10 feet higher, increasing by another 10 feet every 3 levels after 10. Helps your sore head deal with ceiling height, at least a little bit. You can also spend daily uses of Super Jump to change direction mid-dive, either traveling a bit further horizontally or turning around corners, so now you can be like Aranea or Estinien.
Spinning Lance: Gain a shield bonus for 1 round equal to the number of attacks you have made that hit. This is still ok for a smaller boost if you take the talents to use shields. Helps dragoon get some nice staying power.
Multi-Jump: An absolute godsend that brings dive back into your main abilities. Wait for multiple enemies to get in close, then jump and dive between them all. You make attacks as if you were full attacking and add on deadly lancer damage to each, though you have to spread out each attack against a different target. The cumulative -20 Acrobatics penalty is nothing at this level, by this point you could have around a +90 bonus to Acrobatics with Super Jump. Can quickly burn through Super Jump’s daily uses, but dives don’t provoke AoOs so it is absolutely worth it. You can dish out tons of damage to a group of enemies and then full attack to clean up the rest.
Flawless Lancer: You no longer miss on a natural 1 when you use Deadly Lancer. A complete game changer, almost unhealthy for the system, especially since you have Multi-Jump and Dragon Sight. With all the attack boosts you can get, there’s basically no way to miss these attacks by now, apart from being shut down by the environment.
Piercing Critical: Increase the critical threat range of your spears and polearms by 1, or by 2 when using Deadly Lancer. Remember what I said about Multi-Jump and Flawless Lancer?
Master Dragoon: Double your weapon damage (weapon dice and the enhancement bonus to damage) when using Deadly Lancer, and effectively applies Stunning Critical with a DC that scales off of your Deadly Lancer dice. Remember what I said about Multi-Jump, Flawless Lancer, and Piercing Critical?
Azure Dragoon: Trades out some blood of the dragon abilities and other essential tools for party buffs. Battle Litany and Dragon Sight can become great boons to have with another martial, especially if they want to fish for crits. Geirskogul is a worse scaling version of Dragon’s Breath or the Sonic Thrust talent, and it replaces some stronger features of dragoon. Spineshatter Dive would push this archetype to good if it could be used with Long Jumps or Mirage Dive. Mirage Dive can deal with ceilings, but it can’t boost your deadly lancer damage beyond what dive gives you or use any other features that interact with dive, not even Spineshatter Dive. Since it loses Multi-Jump, you probably won’t Dive after a certain level when full-attacking becomes better, at least once you close into melee. This archetype best suits a melee-focused party that wants lots of buffs thrown around. Link.
Dark Dragoon: Cross between Dark Knight and Dragoon, gaining features like Grit Stance, Harm Touch, and spellcasting. Trades out half of your talents, which makes paying your talent taxes much harsher. The basic features are a bit difficult to use with dragoon’s base kit focusing on high mobility, but become fantastic once you get a constant movement speed increase, Armor Training, and a conductive weapon. Loses Pole Fighting, so ideally don’t pick a reach weapon. Link.
Dragon Knight: Replaces a good deal of dragoon’s abilities with a small dragon companion, and a bit of a buffing focus. Spirit Surge is nice to buff all your physical stats, and it’s circumstance so it stacks with all other sources – like their limit break. Styled after FF XI dragoons, this archetype may not be as effective as other animal companion classes/archetypes, but can shine at higher levels if your party faces a lot of dragons. Ancient Circle can turn into an insane attack and damage buff, but only in those situations. Loses Multi-Jump, so you won’t bother with this handbook at a certain point. Ironically, it’s better to just keep using Spirit Surge than try to use your wyrmling companion. Link.
Dragon Slayer: Adds a Wisdom dependency and trades in most of your blood of the dragon abilities for new ones. Most of them aren’t great, but they do get access to Dragon Force for enhanced healing and damage (physical and magical), Luna for enhanced critical threat ranges, and Reis’ Wind for some of the best out of combat healing in the system. White Draw would be better if it wasn’t Will save dependent, which spellcasters tend to be able to pass easily. Link.
Drigagoonie: This hypello racial archetype allows base dragoon to be utilized underwater, switching out Acrobatics dependency for Swimming. It is bad if being used only on land, but is fantastic if playing in a primarily underwater campaign. Being able to swim helps the functionality of dive a lot, at least underwater. Link.
Elemental Dragoon: Heroic Landing, my beloved. What used to be a selection of several talents became its own archetype. Heroic Landing has the dragoon dealing elemental damage (of a type chosen at 1st level) in place of Deadly Lancer damage, and causes adjacent creatures to the target to also take that elemental damage with a Reflex save. This ability will always friendly fire, and forces a Strength build if you want to pump up your Heroic Landing saving throw. Dragon Scales is the best feature of this archetype, most selections of this offer nice boons, but only for a round after you Deadly Lancer. Most of your Heroic Finish effects aren’t worthwhile, but Abominable Crash can be a nice way to crowd control an enemy or two out of the fight. Giving up talents for features hurts the archetype a lot, especially the one at 2nd level, as you can’t start paying your talent taxes until 4th level. This archetype doesn’t have much going for it over other archetypes, or even base dragoon. Especially since Heroic Landing doesn’t get more than two features that improve it. Bad if you face a lot of enemies with elemental resistance, such as dragons that aren’t weak to your chosen element. Link.
Farstriker: Throwing weapon archetype for dragoon that throws spears. Gains bonus damage to an attack by charging and throwing a spear and/or by throwing one from farther away, and increases the range increment of spears. At 13th level, you’ll be able to add that bonus damage based on distance to all attacks in a full attack, though it does eat through your daily uses of the ability. Adds a stat dependency on Wisdom, and Intelligence since you’ll want to pump up several different types of Knowledge checks. Some of Farstriker’s class features are great, like ignoring an amount of DR and AC if you make a knowledge check on a creature, but there are better throwing weapon users with more consistent attack and damage boosts. It is also the most MAD dragoon archetype; Farstriker needs DEX for attack rolls as well as AC because the archetype is limited to light armor (can also be used for CMB rolls), STR for thrown weapon damage (this can also be used for attack rolls), WIS and CON for class features, and INT for your Find the Breach class feature (Knowledge does not get any other boosts until 10 levels after you get this feature and you’ll need the extra skill ranks). Many players will have trouble building a character that uses 4-5 different ability scores. Can excel if you want to focus on using ranged combat maneuvers, just grab Ricochet Toss at 7th level – you lack talents so you can’t grab it at 6th. Can’t use much of this handbook due to not having Deadly Lancer. Link.
Holy Dragoon: Cross between Dragoon and Holy Knight, gaining some impressive features such as Cover, Lay on Hands, and spellcasting. Trades out half of your talents, which makes paying your talent taxes much harsher. Does things even Holy Knight can’t do, and is a fantastic choice if you want to make a tank for your party. Loses Pole Fighting, so ideally don’t pick a reach weapon. Link.
Lancer: A mounted archetype whose main source of damage comes from being able to high jump and then dive at any point while their mount charges. They then need to make a DC 20 Ride check to be able to remount as a free action, and can attempt this again at the start of their next turn should they fail, using their move action if they fail again. This archetype can be awkward to use at lower levels, and is bad compared to a normal Chocobo Knight (especially if your GM has you go indoors for any reason). You also need to invest in a lot of skill boosts to Ride to take advantage of your mounted combat features, all while still pumping up your Acrobatics skill. While lancer is very taxing to build, Challenge and Mounted Expertise are amazing boosts to attack and damage, and you can always build for Ride-By Attack to stay relatively safe and keep getting your damage boosts. Plus, Spirited Charge still functions while you jump and dive, though your Deadly Lancer damage is not multiplied. One of the best dragoon archetypes in the open field, and can be good when playing in a campaign focused all around the great outdoors. Link.
Lunar Vanguard: A racial archetype for loporrits that’s focused on using Deadly Lancer to gain a resource for spell-like abilities. Trades out your blood of the dragon abilities and pole fighting, so try to avoid reach weapons. Suffers at the start of dungeon exploration and random encounters while traveling. Gets good at 7th level when they gain access to flight, making diving much easier to use. Potentially fantastic when they get Multi-Jump, as they can immediately spend the Gravitons they get to activate Super Jump to Deadly Lancer another target, netting the most daily uses of Multi-Jump out of every archetype. Link.
Spear Warden: Trades in Deadly Lancer for Slayer’s Sneak Attack progression, using Jump as a gap-closer and flanking tool. Gains Spear Dancing Style as bonus feats, which are a popular choice for Two-Weapon Fighting builds as dragoon, as well as a pseudo group Outflank. If there’s no other melee in your party to provide flanking, this can still be a good option if you want to use Spear Dancing Style, but your party may have problems having a stable front line. Link.
Spearmaster: A light-armored combo dragoon, has free trips, evasion, and access to fighter talents. For trip builds, this archetype may be the best way to go. Spamming Rising Drive and Leg Sweep is entirely viable, and you still have other combos versus enemies that can’t be tripped. Some of your combo finishers are very nice, such as Disembowel, Gungnir, Lance Barrage, Ring of Thorns, and Wheeling Thrust. If tripping or combos are not your thing, this archetype also gets a daily use flurry of blows class feature in Mirage Strike as well as Warrior Talents – one of the best talent lists in the system. Notably warrior talents don’t let you circumvent needing Fighter Training for fighter feats, but you can still pick up other combat feats. Trades out Jump and Deadly Lancer, so you can’t really use most of this handbook. Link.
Valkyrie: Replaces some strong features of dragoon, but can eventually provide flight. Has lots of ways to increase attack, damage, and AC. Also adds CHA to saving throws and initiative at 3rd and 9th level. A good archetype on its own, but the access to easy flight makes dive so much easier to use. Start flying at the start of a dungeon, go up as high as the ceiling (or Hardy Landing) will allow, and do an impactful landing to close the gap into melee. This plan can still be scuppered by going through a door and finding enemies on the other side, but you can actually use your main mechanic for most of your dragoon levels. Take Glide, Flowing and Pinpoint lancer for talents; lack of Armor Training means you want to have a heavy Dexterity focus in light armor. Aura of War Revelry is nice too, but comes in very late. Link.
Dragoon archetypes have limited ability to stack with each other, though some of them do work. More testing would be needed to determine viability, but if you’re looking to mix things up, here’s a list of what’s available to mix.
Dark Dragoon / Dragon Slayer
Dark Dragoon / Elemental Dragoon
Dragon Slayer / Holy Dragoon
Drigagoonie / Lunar Vanguard1
Elemental Dragoon / Holy Dragoon
Elemental Dragoon / Lancer
Lunar Vanguard / Valkyrie
Dragoons have abilities, weapons, and talents that let them choose whether they would want to use Strength or Dexterity as their primary attack stat. They can do high in either, or both. They may want to focus on one to avoid being multiple-ability-dependent (MAD), and may want to deviate from the suggested stat arrays.
Str: One of your primary attack stats. Suggested for builds focusing on tripping, or using heavier armor. Probably the easiest to use, but can be lowered for Dex builds. You need at least 13 for Power Attack.
Dex: One of your primary attack stats. Suggested for builds focusing on being defensive, or using lighter armor. Can be a bit of a talent tax to focus on this primarily, but shouldn’t be ignored thanks to Armor Training.
Con: You’re a front line fighter, you’ll want the HP and Fort save bonus. Despite dragoon class features functioning off of this, the main draw for it early on is Blood of the Dragon pool size for Lancet and your Elusive Jump uses. You can get away with not pumping it as high as other classes who want to improve their class features and daily uses, and potentially even ignoring it until 11th level, but you’ll want to invest wondrous items into it for sure. Can be dropped a bit lower if someone else in the party is focusing on protecting allies, but you’ll want to start with at least 14.
Int: The only dragoons who want Int are the ones who will be taking Combat Expertise for Improved Trip. You’ll only ever need 13 for that, everyone else (except Lunar Vanguards) can dump it.
Wis: Useful for Will saves, but not much else. Dragon Slayer and Farstriker use this ability score for their class features.
Cha: Dragoons don’t make good party faces, not even for Intimidate. If using Holy Dragoon, Dark Dragoon, or Valkyrie, this can be increased higher.
Dragoon Ability Score Distribution
|25 Point Buy||20 Point Buy||15 Point Buy||Elite Array|
|Str: 18/13||Str: 18/13||Str: 17/14||Str: 15/13|
|Dex: 13/18||Dex: 13/18||Dex: 14/17||Dex: 13/15|
|Con: 16||Con: 14||Con: 14||Con: 14|
|Int: 9||Int: 9||Int: 7||Int: 10|
|Wis: 10||Wis: 10||Wis: 10||Wis: 12|
|Cha: 7||Cha: 7||Cha: 7||Cha: 8|
Any race with a bonus to Strength or Dexterity can make a good dragoon, all the class needs are physical stats. Even small races can make decent dragoons as long as they focus on using Deadly Lancer, but races with a 20 foot move speed will take a -4 penalty to all Acrobatics checks made to jump.
To narrow the scope, we’ll be focusing on races with good racial FCBs for dragoon, or have good racial traits for dragoon. Dragoons will either want their racial FCB or extra HP, depending on their race’s choice. One of the best FCBs for dragoon is +½ bonus to Acrobatics checks for jumping, since your primary mechanics Jump and Deadly Lancer require this. +⅙ d6 to Deadly Lancer damage is also nice, and can help beef up certain other abilities that interact with your deadly lancer dice. +⅓ to attack rolls (or damage rolls for humes, half-breeds, and immortals) is good for dragoons who want to focus on full attacking. The only bad FCB is +⅙ reduction on armor check penalty and max Dex bonus, which is only on moogles and sahagin.
Aegyl: +2 Dex, +2 Wis, –2 Cha, -2 Con. While the Con penalty isn’t ideal, they can make excellent dragoons with their racial FCB of +½ to Acrobatics for jumping. Eternal Hope is nice to have for Nat 1 insurance. Can also fly naturally, putting Valkyrie to shame. Suited for lightly armored builds, as heavy armor restricts their fly speed. A fantastic choice if you want to focus on diving, it’s much easier to use if you’re already in the air.
Antica: +2 Str, +2 Con, –2 Wis, -2 Cha. With a bonus to two physical stats, antica make excellent dragoons for heavy armored builds. With their natural attacks, opting for a close range polearm without reach would be ideal. Has minesight for darkvision, and a +⅙ of a d6 to Deadly Lancer damage isn’t the worst FCB they could have.
Bangaa: +2 Dex, +2 Wis, -2 Int. +2 Acrobatics, elemental resistance, natural armor, a natural bite, and low-light vision. Bangaa make great dragoons, the only reason they’re not rated higher is their favored class bonus of +1 dragon’s breath damage. You can’t use that until level 5, but if you really want to optimize that ability it’s there. Best suited for non-reach weapons so they can also bite.
Au ra: +2 Str, +2 Wis, –2 Cha OR +2 Dex, +2 Cha, -2 Con OR +2 Str, +2 Cha, -2 Wis. Elemental resistance, natural armor, natural attacks, ferocity. Au ra have a whole selection of desirable racial traits, with good stats for some of dragoon’s archetypes. Can also gain Dodge or Weapon Focus as a bonus feat, and has +⅓ attack FCB.
Burmecian: +2 Dex, +2 Int, –2 Cha. Improved Initiative, a racial +4 to jumping, 60 ft. of Darkvision, and to top it all off +½ to Acrobatics for jumps as a FCB. Burmecian is tailor made with Dragoon in mind, and can be some of the best dragoons in the system, no matter what build you go for. Also Freya is best girl, fight me.
Dwarf: Most stat arrays for dwarves will do decently for dragoon, but the 20 ft. move speed will necessitate an archetype that replaces Jump and Deadly Lancer. At least their racial FCB is pretty good.
Elvaan: Most stat arrays for elvaan are great, but Ishgardian is very good as well as thematic, with +2 Str, +2 Cha, -2 Wis. San d’Orian is also worth noting, with +2 Str, +2 Wis, -2 Int and a Ferocity racial. Gains Weapon Focus as a bonus feat, optionally has darkvision, and has +½ to Acrobatics for jumping. An extra 5 feet of movement also helps for Deadly Lancer charges. Most will want to stick to Str builds.
Galka: See dwarf, but with only one stat array and ferocity.
Garif: +2 Con, +2 Wis, –2 Int. Nothing especially stands out, aside from +½ to Acrobatics to jump and optionally starting with Diehard as a bonus feat. Some overlap with their racials, as dragoons are already proficient with the racial weapon proficiencies.
Half-Breed (Ask GM): Combine Burmecian and Varg.
–Choose +2 STR or +2 DEX. Defense trait: Natural Armor or Dual-Minded. Feat and Skill trait: Natural Jumper. Magical trait: N/A. Movement trait: N/A. Offense trait: Bite (plus upgrade). Other traits: Dragoon + 1 other. Senses trait: Darkvision (60 ft.) Weakness trait: Emotionless.
–Gives you +2 to your primary attack stat with no penalty, either +1 natural armor AC or +2 to Will saves, +4 to Acrobatics for jumping, a natural bite attack, 60 ft. of darkvision, and all it costs is a -2 to Diplomacy. You also get +1 hp per level and a choice of +⅓ to damage per level or +½ to Acrobatics for jumping per level, which are two of the best things for a dragoon to get. Best suited for a non-reach weapon dragoon who will use Deadly Lancer to close gaps and then full attack.
Hume: Humes are one of the best races no matter what. +2 to either Str or Dex, or go Highlander for a bit more CMB and CMD in a Str build. Free feat of your choice, too. If using the Lancer archetype, humes are a fantastic choice as their racial FCB of +⅓ damage per level will be multiplied on a charge with a lance, even more with Spirited Charge. Half-Breed and Immortals are the only other races with this FCB for dragoon.
Hypello: +2 Dex, +2 Con with no penalty makes hypello one of the deceptively strongest lightly armored Dex dragoons. They also get 60 ft. of darkvision, +½ to Acrobatics for jumping. Their alternate racial trait Glider will do all the work you need Hardy Landing and Glide to do, which is what helps make hypello a fantastic choice for dragoons. The only negative is that you’ll have to roleplay as a hypello.
Immortal: Go with +2 Str or Dex. Useful for trying to make a tank dragoon, though be mindful they cannot cast Holy Dragoon’s or Dark Dragoon’s spells.
Ixal: +2 Dex, +2 Int, -2 Wis, not the best racial traits to choose from, but solid stats and a +½ to Acrobatics for jumping gives ixal an edge for Dex-based dragoons.
Kindred: +2 Str, +2 Int, -2 Cha, 60 ft. darkvision, 5 shadow, lightning, and fire resist, and +1 natural armor. Choose Maw or Claw for a bite attack and Fiendish Sprinter for +10 move speed while charging as alternate racial traits, and all of your racial traits will be something beneficial to you. The +⅓ attack bonus is icing on the cake, a strong competitor to Elvaan for STR dragoons.
Loporrit: +2 Dex, +2 Int, -2 Wis, 40 ft. move speed with an extra 10 on charges gives a +4 or +8 to Acrobatics for jumping. They have scent and low light vision, always land on their feet and treat falls 10 ft. shorter, and for racial FCB they gain +½ Acrobatics for jumping. They’re likely the best choice for small-sized dragoons, even beating out moombas.
Mithra: The various heritages allow for a wide variety of builds, and a +⅙ of a d6 to deadly lancer damage give mithra a great spot on the dragoon list. Cheetara, Keepers of the Moon, and Seekers of the Sun all gain a +2 to Acrobatics checks. Cat’s Luck and Sprinter are also very nice for dealing with Reflex saves and gaining extra movement for charges, or you can trade those out for another +2 bonus to Acrobatics. Also has +2 to initiative. A fantastic option if playing in a setting without Burmecians.
Moomba: +2 Con, +2 Cha, -2 Int, and a small size might turn off a few people. A 40 ft. move speed for a +4 to Acrobatics for jumping, enhanced bite, and 60 ft. of darkvision make moombas one of the best options for small sized dragoons. A shame they don’t have a racial favored class bonus for dragoon.
Orc: +4 Str, -2 Int, -2 Wis, -2 Cha. Orc Ferocity, a +2 to Acrobatics, optional darkvision, and a +⅙ of a d6 for Deadly Lancer damage make orcs a surprisingly good choice for dragoons.
Ronso: +2 Str, +2 Wis, –2 Cha. Ronso as well as both Hrothgar heritages have nice traits and stats for a dragoon, with 60 ft. of darkvision to top it off. +⅓ to attack per level and potentially a natural gore attack makes them suited for closing the gap with Deadly Lancer and then focusing on full attacking with a non-reach weapon.
Tarutaru: Go Gnome for the least disadvantageous stat spread of +2 Dex, +2 Cha, -2 Wis. Tarutaru have a +½ to Acrobatics for jumping, and they need it due to starting off at a -4 penalty from their 20 ft. move speed. They’d be a bad choice without this FCB. Intrepid Settler gives them a +2 bonus on Acrobatics and makes their racial heritage not matter apart from stats, so the penalty is lowered to -2 for jumping. Evens out at level 4, but it’s an uphill battle to make them work as small dragoons.
Varg: +2 Str or Dex, +2 Wis, –2 Cha. Up to 120 ft. of darkvision, a potential of a 40 ft. move speed with an extra 10 ft. when charging, topped off with a natural bite attack makes varg able to be very versatile when it comes to dragoon builds. Shame about the lack of a racial FCB.
Some of the listed traits may be from campaign settings, if so ask your GM if they allow those. Remember you can only have 1 of each type of trait (1 social, 1 faith) and trait bonuses do not stack.
Acrobat (Social): +1 to Acrobatics and climb faster is reduced to -2. Any boost to Acrobatics is nice.
Bahamut’s Legs (Regional, campaign setting): +4 to Acrobatics for jumping, a trait made just for dragoons. Say goodbye to every other regional trait if you can take this, cry a lot if your GM says you can’t.
Called (Faith): Once per day reroll for nat 1s on attack rolls. Useful when it comes up, but Flawless Lancer will make it irrelevant late game.
Chance Savior (Campaign, campaign setting): +2 initiative is always nice for traits. Comes from the Carrion Crown adventure path, check with your GM before taking this.
Cosmo Canyon Native (Regional): Increases your low Will save.
Drake Anatomist (Social): +1 damage vs. dragons and +2 to Knowledge (Arcana) checks to identify them. Useful if you want to get the most out of Wyrmkiller.
Fate’s Favored (Faith): Increases luck bonuses by 1. Useful if you have a party member like an Astrologian who can provide luck bonuses, but skip it if you don’t.
Indomitable Faith (Faith): Increases your low Will save.
Inspired (Faith): Reroll a skill check or ability check once per day. Will mostly be used on initiative rolls (Dex checks) and Acrobatics checks for Deadly Lancer.
Reactionary (Combat): +2 initiative is always nice for traits. Better than Chance Savior, since it can be used in every campaign that includes traits.
Soaring Sprinter (Combat): +2 to Acrobatics for balancing and jumping. Competes with other Combat traits, but any boost to Acrobatics is nice.
Unshackled (Faith): +1 Escape Artist and makes it a class skill. Grapples can shut down 2-handed weapon wielders, and almost all dragoons want to use 2-handed weapons. (If taking this, Escape Artist becomes a fantastic skill choice.)
Warrior of Old (Elvaan): Same as Reactionary, but it doesn’t take up your combat slot.
You gain 4+Int skills per level, and won’t need very many of them. Only a few skills are fantastic for dragoons.
Acrobatics (Dex): You chose the class for this skill. Absolutely required (except in certain archetypes).
Climb (Str): Sometimes you can’t quite make those vertical jumps. Take this so your party members don’t make fun of you for it. Falls off later on when you absolutely can make those vertical jumps.
Craft (Int): Situational, if you want to craft your own equipment it can take a while.
Handle Animal (Cha): For the Lancer archetype and the Charisma-dependent archetypes, this is a good option.
Intimidate (Cha): Not too useful in combat unless you build for demoralization with feats like Cornugon Smash. Can be good for Charisma-based archetypes.
Knowledge (Arcana) (Int): Good for learning about dragon weaknesses with Wyrmkiller, as it can get a massive boost from that ability. Can still be ok even if you don’t face many dragons, just don’t expect a modifier boost.
Knowledge (Local) (Int): Good for learning about humanoids and cities you visit, though don’t expect a modifier boost.
Perception (Wis): Everyone should take this skill, and dragoon is no exception. Even better when you get Dragon Sight.
Perform (Cha): You wouldn’t disappoint your parents by pole dancing, would you?
Profession (Wis): Useful for making money during downtime, but that depends on the campaign.
Ride (Dex): Dragoon can use a lance, so they can put this skill to good use, especially if they can get a flying mount. Most characters won’t need to get their Ride modifier very high. This is a fantastic option for Lancers.
Survival (Wis): You generally won’t need too many skill points in this. DCs aren’t too high, unless you’re in a campaign based around Survival.
Swim (Str): Dragoons don’t do too well in water, since swimming and jumping are two separate things. This is a fantastic option for Drigagoonies.
Power Attack: Too good to not take, since you’re a Full BAB class that focuses on two-handed weapons. Dex-based dragoons will want this too, as Piranha Strike is harder to get and doesn’t increase when 2-handing a weapon.
Furious Focus: When using Deadly Lancer, you typically only make one attack. Getting rid of the attack penalty for Power Attack during that gives you free damage.
Weapon Focus: If you’re going to take this and Fighter Training, you will qualify for Weapon Specialization later – when you reach dragoon level 8. Also helps with CMB rolls for trip builds.
Weapon Specialization: An extra +2 damage. Helps get those rookie numbers up.
Greater Weapon Focus: Increases that attack bonus from +1 to +2. You only qualify for this once you reach dragoon level 16, but you’ll want to be focusing on full attacking by then, so it’s still nice to pick up. Attack bonuses are nice to fall back on if you run out of Super Jump uses by using Multi-Jump, and are still nice thanks to Flawless Lancer.
Weapon Versatility: Swift action – and eventually free action – to be able to use Lancet and Wheeling Thrust with slashing weapons by changing their damage type to piercing. Obviously bad if you use a piercing weapon already, but the two abilities and various slashing polearms are good enough that it can be worth the feat tax.
Vital Strike: Whether or not this feat line works with Deadly Lancer has changed a few times. Currently, you can use a move action to long or high jump and then vital strike. Bad if you want to dive, since that’s a full round action and can’t be used with this.
Exotic Weapon Proficiency: You already gain proficiency with exotic spears and polearms. You can’t use anything you gain from this with most of your class features.
Combat Expertise: Dragoons can get a lot of bonuses to attack rolls, so being able to transfer some of that to AC is nice. Also a prerequisite for Improved Trip. Requires 13 Int, so adjust the suggested stats.
Improved Trip: Avoid provoking attacks of opportunity when tripping, and gain a bonus to CMB and CMD for trips.
Greater Trip: Enemies you trip now provoke attacks of opportunity when they fall to the ground, and grants an even higher bonus to CMB and CMD for trips. This is the best thing for a trip build.
Felling Smash: When making a standard attack action with Power Attack, you can use a swift action to trip an enemy if you hit. Combined with Furious Focus and a beefed up Deadly Lancer, this can make an excellent addition to a trip build. Can’t be used with dives, since it requires a standard action attack.
Fury’s Fall: Add Dexterity in addition to Strength to your CMB for trip attempts. If you’re trying to focus on only one of your stats or have picked up Flowing Lancer to use Dex for attack and CMB, this is a bad option, as your Dex mod can only be added to this once.
Cat’s Fall: Ignore the first 20 feet of a fall and convert the first 10 feet of fall damage to nonlethal if you pass the DC 15 Acrobatics check. Not really worth a feat slot unless you can’t find Boots of the Cat, or you can’t get a racial trait that does the same thing. Hardy Landing also makes fall damage nonlethal without the need for the acrobatics check.
Tripping Strike: Attempt a trip as a free action when you roll a crit confirm. More useful if you have a spear or polearm with a high threat range, like a nodachi. You can also decide to not use this feat after seeing the confirmation roll, as that determines the trip attempt. Can be good if you focus on crits.
Spear Dancing Style: Two-Weapon Fighting builds tend to have the highest damage output just from the number of attacks you have. Has a hefty feat investment, though it’s possible to just grab the first style feat and ignore the rest safely. Can alleviate some talent tax for Dex builds. A bad option for builds that want to just do Deadly Lancer charges instead of full attacking. Can be ok even if you take a double spear, since it can gain reach at the end of the feat tree.
Dragonfly Style: Add Wisdom in addition to Strength or Dexterity for your Acrobatics checks. It’s most convenient to get this through multiclassing Monk, but dragoons who dump Wisdom should ignore it. The follow up feats are nice, but can be replicated through talents.
Cactuar Style: Applies armor spikes damage if you charge an enemy, and long jumps can count as charges. Strength dragoons who want to put on armor spikes can get some use out of this style, especially if they plan on serving as the front line for the party.
Skill Focus (Acrobatics): When all you have is a hammer used for jumping…
Acrobatic: More suggested for dragoons who have natural flight, since it also boosts that skill.
Signature Skill (Acrobatics): While you don’t care much about the rank 5 or 10 skill unlocks, the rank 15 and 20 unlocks can be very valuable. Rank 15 allows you to get up from prone without provoking AoOs, which is nice since you’ll be in melee very often. Rank 20 will double the Acrobatics check result for your jumps. If you need a last push at level 20 to get a +200 bonus, this is how you do it.
Graceful Athlete: Make Climb and Swim function off of Dexterity instead of Strength, if you’re going down a dexterity-focused route and want those mobility skills. Can be good for Drigagoonies who want a bigger focus on Dexterity, since their other features that rely on Strength don’t necessarily need a high investment to work well.
Improved Critical: Most spears and polearms will either not have a big threat range, or can have keen applied to them. Can be good if you want to use a polearm with a higher threat range, or don’t want to spend the money on keen.
Critical Focus: Critical feats can be good for dragoons since they get full BAB, and can qualify for the juiciest ones at higher levels. Combos nicely with Wheeling Thrust to reduce its main drawback to a negligible -1 to crit confirms.
Improved Initiative: Always nice to have a higher initiative score, so you can be the first to charge into a fight.
Dragoon Talents are extra, selectable abilities that the Dragoon gets every even level.
Acrobatic Recovery: Stand up from prone as a move or swift action without provoking, or stand up as a free action while provoking. You can make an Acrobatics check (without jumping bonuses) vs. CMD + 10 to avoid provoking, but unless you really need that swift action it’s best to just stand up using that. It’s a situational pick, but you’ll be happy to have this when you’re knocked prone.
Additional Dragon’s Breath Element: Choose another elemental damage type for your dead class feature. While the first pick gets you a +1 to DC, don’t fall into the trap of spending half your talents to increase the DC by 3.
Adrenaline: While it’s not always active like Great Fortitude, doubling up your Constitution modifier for Fortitude saves after getting damaged will help with plenty of nasty on-hit effects like poisons. It might even be a better reason to pump up your Constitution than your main class features. The bleed negation isn’t that big a deal, you have Lancet and your party should have a healer.
Bladed Tail: Deal normal attack damage to targets you trip with Tail Sweep. A bit of a talent tax, but can be good if you want to make a trip build and your archetype doesn’t get Multi-Jump or the campaign won’t hit level 13. This will be retraining fodder otherwise.
Aerial Takedown: Do your full dive damage against flying creatures. Talent tax to make dive work against flyers, bad if you never face flying enemies. Be careful, this doesn’t let you avoid fall damage with your high jump like dive does.
Acrobatic Maneuvers: A bit of an extra boost for Acrobatics, but only when avoiding attacks of opportunity. You already apply your jumping bonus to avoiding AoOs, so you don’t really need this. It only applies while jumping, so you can’t use it for Acrobatic Recovery or Springing Charge, either.
Agile Finish: Gain a +1 dodge bonus for every three dice of deadly lancer damage you deal. Effectively about +1 dodge AC for every six dragoon levels for your gap closer, unless you decide to stop full attacking to spam dives for defense. Factoring in dive and deadly lancer together, it’s about +1 dodge AC for every two dragoon levels if you max out your jump each time. It’s more for diving, so its usefulness depends entirely on how often you’re able to do so.
Combat Feat: Gain a combat feat at an even level instead of an odd level.
Crater: Create temporary difficult terrain around your enemy when you land with deadly lancer dives. Reflex save for creatures adjacent to your dive landing to avoid being knocked prone. Scales off of deadly lancer damage dice, so it will be an above average DC without stat investment. Tricky to use if you need to worry about friendly fire from a flanking thief, but becomes fantastic when you can Multi-Jump. Only applies for dive attacks, so you won’t have the room for this talent early on, save it for later.
Deep Breathing: Talent tax to actually have a chance at hitting enough creatures with Dragon’s Breath to make it worthwhile. Keep in mind, it will still hit allies, so aim carefully.
Dragon’s Roar: Spend a blood point to try and inflict Shaken to all enemies within 60 ft. It competes a bit with Dazzling Display and other intimidate demoralization builds, which are easier to land since intimidate can be increased higher than the DC for this ability, but this is a larger radius. If an ally is building to apply shaken to multiple enemies, this may be worth picking up to attempt to stack to frightened, though keep in mind demoralization builds won’t work with that idea.
Enhanced Dragon Sight: Dragon Sight now suppresses any Blinded or Dimmed status effects, and lets you see the auras of living creatures. Makes one of your best class abilities even better.
Enemy Step: Jump off of larger enemies while Wall Jumping for even more turning chances. Still provokes attacks of opportunity, but you can use your jump bonuses to avoid them. Potentially more useful for small dragoons.
Evasive Jump: Gives you a 20 foot long jump instead of 15 feet with Elusive Jump, and gives you Evasion if you’re dodging out of an AoE. Can be good if you mainly deal with line or cone AoEs, bad if you keep getting 20+ foot radius bursts centered on you.
Fighter Training: Counts half of your dragoon level as fighter levels for qualifying for feats. Useful for grabbing Weapon Specialization and Greater Weapon Focus, both great feats to have. More feat heavy builds like Spear Dancing Style may not have the room for this, however.
Flexible Flanker: Nice to have for reach weapon users, though dragoons don’t get a lot of use for flanking aside from the attack bonus. If you have a sneak attacker in the party or are using the Spear Warden archetype, this becomes a good option if you want to enable that damage more easily. A bit nicer if your party is going for Outflank but not Improved Outflank.
Flowing Lancer/Pinpoint Lancer: Dexterity instead of Strength to attack/damage, respectively. Obviously ignore these if your Strength is higher. A bit taxing on talents to get both, but such is the price of Dexterity builds. Notably, Pinpoint Lancer lets you gain 1.5x Dex mod to damage for 2-handing a weapon.
Glide: Lets you Dive a distance equal to the height you have above the ground, doubling it to be on par with a long jump if you use Super Jump. Talent tax to get your Dive damage on your gap closer, mind those ceilings. Dive also ignores your maximum jumping distance, so you travel as far as you can get your Acrobatics result. Can end up redundant if your GM is using that parabolic jump rule.
Mana Burn: Adds a Will save vs. MP burn to Lancet. Dragoon’s mobility makes them suited for harassing enemy mages, but those mages tend to have high Will saves.
Phalanx Fighting: Gain the use of a shield at the cost of your 2-handed attack damage. Useful for dragoons who are focusing on being a tank or need the AC, and you can also get the follow-up talent to gain your 2-handed damage back. Can be good if you are often grappled and want to attack your grappler, as you can wield any spear or polearm 1-handed.
Phlebotomize: Deals 2 points of bleed damage for each deadly lancer damage die instead of the normal 1d6. Below average, especially since most combats don’t last long enough for this damage to tick along, but can be ok if your party fights a lot of bosses that take 3+ rounds to kill.
Predatory Pounce: Increases Deadly Lancer damage to d8s from d6s, but only against flat-footed targets. Sounds tempting, but the only way to consistently get this is to win initiative or to gain the ability to feint as a swift action. Can be ok if another party member has a way to consistently boost your initiative or help you hit flat-footed, or if you’re small and using Passing Trick.
Shaft Trip: All spears, lances, and polearms are treated as trip weapons, and you gain Improved Trip. Many already have that special quality, and not every dragoon will want to use a trip build. Still, it’s a good way to pick up the feat for a trip build, even though you need to meet the prereqs for Greater Trip normally.
Shellbreaker: Reduce all DR by 1 per deadly lancer damage die for one round to targets of your dive. Good if you can support someone in your party doing two-weapon fighting or a ranged class with extra attacks, but bad if you’re the only physical attacker who cares about DR. You can’t really take advantage of this for yourself.
Sonic Thrust: Gives you a 15 foot cone of deadly lancer damage on long jumps. You can’t orient it how you want it, and the save DC is forced into being Strength with no way to change it for Dexterity dragoons. Suffers from all the problems of Dragon’s Breath and more.
Spear Brace: Get your 2-handed damage back after taking Phalanx Fighting. A good talent for dragoons who want the shield AC and the extra damage from 2-handed weapons, or archetypes that trade out Spinning Lance.
Springing Charge: After charging with Deadly Lancer, a dragoon can use the rest of their movement to reposition while provoking attacks of opportunity from the enemy they just hit. Can be good if used to set up flanking for a thief or ninja in the party, though Flexible Flanker may be the safer option.
Springing Dive: Subtract deadly lancer damage dice – the main draw of using dive – position yourself further away from your dive target. Requires Glide to get any value out of this, and subtracts the main draw of dive – the damage.
Strafe: The weakest Selective Spell-like ability in the system, clocking in at a whopping 2 targets excluded for friendly fire, increasing by 2 targets for each talent investment. You may want this if you take Deep Breathing to expand the radius, but the optimal strategy is to not use Dragon’s Breath and spend your talents elsewhere.
Tactical Drop: Exchange dive damage for a free combat maneuver with a bonus equal to the attack bonus you would have gotten. While it doesn’t provoke attacks of opportunity, it’s not really a cheap way to go for these maneuvers since you’ll want to invest in the feat trees for them anyway. Also gives up the main draw of dive; the damage.
Wheeling Thrust: Full attack and only take DR into account once, after totalling the damage. The main drawback is the -5 to critical confirms, but Critical Focus can easily compensate for that. You also need to use a weapon that deals piercing damage, or take the Weapon Versatility feat. Without that, it is not usable for most high threat range weapons dragoon could pick. This is still a must-have for any dragoon who uses a piercing weapon, and if you don’t have high critical threat ranges chances are you’re not building around crits anyway.
Dragoon has several builds depending on playstyle and archetype. Here is an example build that focuses on using Deadly Lancer to close the gap and full attack afterwards, with advice for some others.
- 1st: Power Attack – Best when two-handing a weapon, which every dragoon does.
- Hume racial: Furious Focus – delay progression by 1 to obtain this.
- Talent 2: Glide – Paying the talent tax in the low levels, where dive is most easily used. If dexterity-based, take Flowing Lancer instead.
- 3rd: Skill Focus (Acrobatics) – It’s just what you do.
- Talent 4: Fighter Training – Paying the talent tax in the low levels, we’ll use this later in our build. If dexterity-based, take Pinpoint Lancer instead.
- 5th: Weapon Focus – select your preferred weapon. Elvaan and xaela can get this for free.
- Talent 6: Wheeling Thrust – You may or may not be encountering DR at this point, but when you do, you’ll love to have this. If not using a piercing weapon, pick up Adrenaline or another luxury pick instead.
- 7th: Improved Initiative – Here’s where we start having some leeway in the build. You can also grab a teamwork feat or focus on a specific build such as tripping at this level. This is also a good spot to pick up Weapon Versatility if you have a slashing weapon. Burmecians get this feat for free, so they will pick something else.
- Talent 8: Phalanx Fighting – Luxury pick, exchange for a Combat Feat or Adrenaline if you don’t already have it.
- 9th: Weapon Specialization – Can also be taken at level 8 with the Combat Feat talent.
- Talent 10: Spear Brace – Get your two-handed damage back. If you still don’t have it, you can pick up Glide or Adrenaline.
- 11th: Critical Focus – works best with high threat range weapons with keen. Absolutely grab this if you’re using Wheeling Thrust.
- Talent 12: Enhanced Dragon Sight – The only talent on the list I’d consider taking at 11th level using the Extra Dragoon Talent feat. Get this as soon as you can. Take a Combat Feat at this level if you haven’t already, and have in fact taken this via the feat at 11th level.
- 13th: Crippling Critical – halves move speed for at least 1d4 rounds, or 1 minute.
- Talent 14: Crater – This really comes online with Multi Jump, so pick this up at this level.
- 15th: Staggering Critical – Stagger an enemy for 1 round, or 1d4+1 rounds.
- Talent 16: Shellbreaker – Support your allies in getting around enemy DR.
- 17th: Greater Weapon Focus – might seem like a drop in the bucket by this point, but helps with Power Attack and Combat Expertise. Can also take Blinding Critical instead.
- Talent 18: Aerial Takedown – Surely you must have faced flying enemies by now.
- 19th: Stunning Critical – Stagger an enemy for 1d4 rounds, or stun them for 1d4 rounds. Can stack duration with Master Dragoon, though you may not want this with that class feature in place. Trade out this and Staggering Critical for other feats as you like.
- Talent 20: Springing Charge – Luxury picks are all you have left at this level. That and trap choices.
Dragoons will need to use spears, lances, or polearms, and gain proficiency with every single one of them. Exotic proficiency is already gained, but there are still plenty of good martial and even simple choices. There’s no clear winner, so choose one with the qualities you want.
Bardiche: 1d10 damage, 19-20 threat range, brace, reach, +2 to CMD against sunder attempts. This also counts as an axe, eat your heart out Kain. Only rated 3 stars since fauchards have a higher threat range.
Boarding Gaff: 1d6/1d6 damage, double, reach, trip. If you want a double weapon with reach, this will do nicely.
Dwarven Giant-Sticker: 2d6 damage, 3x crit, reach, brace. A bit of an upgrade to the lucerne hammer, this is effectively your spear greatsword. 2d6 is less swing-y than 1d12, so damage will be more consistent. This would be five stars if I could rate it that high.
Fauchard: 1d10 damage, 18-20 threat range, reach, trip. Dragoons may not have many choices when it comes to high critical threat range weapons, but the ones they do have are excellent. Also comes with trip built in for trip builds.
Glaive: 1d10 damage, 3x crit, reach. Definitely one of the better reach weapons for dragoons. Though there are a few with almost the exact same stats.
Guisarme: 2d4 damage, 3x crit, reach, trip. Has a higher damage floor and average than other 1d8 spears and polearms, and has trip for the trip builds. Still an ok option for small dragoons, but not too much better than other trip and reach weapons.
Glaive-guisarme: same as glaive, but with brace and gives enemies hit by it a -2 to their Ride check to stay mounted. It costs a few more gil than a glaive, but if you’re facing lots of mounted opponents it’ll be worth the paltry sum.
Halberd: 1d10 damage, 3x crit, brace and trip. An excellent choice for a polearm without reach, and has trip built in if you don’t want to take Shaft Trip for your trip build.
Hammer, Lucerne: 1d12 damage, reach, brace. A reach weapon built just for damage, though it has a lower critical multiplier than most weapons on this list.
Monk’s Spade: 1d6/1d6 damage, double, monk, can deal B or P or S. Most people won’t care about damage type DR, but this can be handy at lower levels.
Naginata: 1d8 damage, 4x crit, reach. A very solid choice for a reach weapon, with the highest natural crit multiplier. Glaives may offer more consistent damage, but the 4x crit can make many dragoons’ mouths water.
Nodachi: 1d10 damage, 18-20 threat range, brace. One of the go-to weapons for crit fishing builds. Surprisingly, it’s a polearm in addition to a heavy blade.
Elven/Mandragora Branched Spear: 1d8 damage, 3x crit, brace, reach. +2 to attack rolls for AoOs, and can be used with Weapon Finesse. Good for Dex builds that are fine with exchanging a feat for a talent, and even Str builds will be happy with the +2 to attacks of opportunity.
Javelin: 1d6 damage, 30 ft. range increment. A fantastic option for Farstriker dragoons. Takes a -4 penalty in melee. Can’t be used with Blinkback Belt, but Ricochet Toss works. Can have their range increment improved to 50 ft. by attaching and winding an Amentum.
Lance: 1d8 damage, 3x crit, reach. A fantastic option for mounted builds as charging with one of these doubles the damage, or triples it with Spirited Charge. Though it can be wielded one-handed while mounted, you still need shield proficiency with the Phalanx Fighting talent if you want to use a shield.
Longspear: 1d8, 3x crit, brace, reach. Probably what most people think of when they imagine a dragoon weapon.
Shortspear: 1d6 damage, 20 ft. range increment. Can be thrown and even used with Two-Weapon Fighting to hurl multiple spears at once, albeit at -4 penalty.
Spear: 1d8, 3x crit, 20 foot range increment, brace. Every other spear or polearm on this list is a better choice no matter what you’re trying to do. Deals a bit more damage than a shortspear unless you want to factor in Two-Weapon Fighting.
Spear, Double: 1d8/1d8 damage, 3x crit, double. Useful for dragoons who just want to get into the Two-Weapon Fighting build without going through Spear Dancing Style, forgoing the other benefits from that style tree. Can make up for skipping Spear Dancing Style through talents, and can still take the feat tree if you so wish. Absolutely grab Wheeling Thrust if you use this.
Totem Spear: 1d10, 10 ft. range increment, 3x crit. Provides a +2 circumstance to Acrobatics, which is great to have for your Acrobatics focus. Can be thrown, but the range increment is limiting.
Mithral: Deserves its own special mention, most armors you want will have their usefulness reduced when using an archetype that trades out Armor Training. Mithral will solve that by making the armor lighter by 1 category, increasing max Dexterity by 2, and reducing the armor check penalty for things like Acrobatics by 3.
Breastplate, Agile: The go-to starter armor for dragoon. Has only a -1 penalty to Acrobatics checks for jumping, and at level 3 the movement speed reduction and ACP for jumping vanishes completely thanks to Armor Training. Highest reward for the least cost.
Full Plate: Heavy armor tends to be reserved for high Str builds, and only at level 7 once Armor Training removes the movement speed penalty (and the resulting -4 to Acrobatics for jumping).
Half-plate, Agile: 1 less armor and max Dex than full plate, but 2 less ACP for jumping. If you want mithral heavy armor, full plate is suggested instead, though it’s ultimately your preference.
Kikko: A mithral suit of this armor completely eliminates ACP and movement speed penalties. Can be good for archetypes that trade out Armor Training, though those archetypes tend to favor Dex builds that get a higher modifier than this would allow.
Haramaki: Rely almost entirely on Dexterity for your armor. Can still be ok if you keep Armor Training and get a super high Dexterity.
The Dragoon has a few magic items that support their play style, though many general magic items also benefit them greatly.
Dragoons want to prioritize the enhancement bonus, though there are some special abilities they can put to good use.
Akitonian Blade: A specific magic weapon, based on a bill; the mundane equivalent of which is about on the same level as a longspear. This unique weapon earns its rating by taking whatever result you got for jumping and tripling it to determine how far you jump. This means you will always max your Jump distance, vertical and horizontal. If you just want to spam Deadly Lancer instead of full attacking, and your GM hasn’t banned this weapon, pick one up and give it transformative. With a good enough Acrobatics boost, this can save on your daily uses of Super Jump. Don’t use Super Jump with this without lots of headroom. Link.
Dueling (+14,000 gil): A somewhat expensive way to get a +4 initiative bonus, exclusively for the elven/mandragora branched spear. Doesn’t count towards a weapon’s maximum enhancement bonus. Link.
Elemental (+1): Each elemental damage enhancement stacks, and you can apply all 8 to the same spear or polearm to get +8d6 damage. It may sound tempting, but even 5 elemental resistance on enemies will nearly nullify a specific enhancement. Good general choices are Holy, Dark (except against undead), and Fire. If you fight a lot of bosses, elementals, flans, and dragons, this can be a bad option. Link.
Impact (+2): Increases the damage dice of your weapon by one size category. The range of damage dice of most spears and polearms really benefits from this, and who could say no to more damage? Link.
Keen (+1): Most spears and polearms can have a 3x or 4x crit, but only threaten on a 20. This would increase the threat range to 19-20. A fantastic option for nodachis and other weapons with a naturally high threat range. Link.
Ghost Touch (+1): A situational enhancement to deal with incorporeal undead. Considering your damage would otherwise be halved, you’ll want this when it comes up. Link.
Heartseeker (+1): An excellent way to get around concealment for living targets, and very cheap to apply. Does not work on aberrations, oozes, plants, outsiders, elementals, and other creatures that lack a heart, so its usefulness is inversely proportional to how often you encounter those enemy types. Link.
Training (+1): Gain a free, chosen combat feat when you wield your weapon. While it can’t be changed and can’t be used as a prerequisite, this can be a great way to grab something like Outflank that you won’t be building off of afterwards. Link.
Transformative (+10,000 gil): Dragoons can use any spear or polearm equally well, barring feats that require a choice of a specific weapon. This is a nice way to gain access to any type of weapon you’d want to use, or turn a certain specific magic weapon into your preferred type. Moogle in the Room makes this a fantastic choice if you want weapon variety. Link.
There aren’t too many enticing options for magic armor on dragoon, it’s best to focus on the enhancement bonus.
Celestial Armor: A specific magic armor, allows you to cast fly on yourself once per day at CL 5. Being able to fly even once a day will help you set up for a Dive even in a more restrictive environment. Desirable for high Dex builds, but if you have less than a +5 Dex mod and/or have a better way to access flight – such as from your race, you can safely skip this. Link.
Burdenless (+4,000 gil): Increases your carrying capacity by 50%. More useful if you’re pumping Strength, but no dragoon wants to dump it. For campaigns that allow custom magic items, ask your GM if you can add the effect of Muleback Cords to your cloak instead, as that is much cheaper for a higher effect. Link
Comfort (+5,000 gil): Thanks to Armor Training, dragoons will at least want to be in Medium armor, and that can end up being a majority of a dragoon’s AC. You’ll want this if there’s even a chance that you’ll be ambushed while sleeping, you want this. Also reduces ACP by 1! Link
Elemental Spikes (+1): See Elemental weapons above. A bit of a worse option since it involves getting hit. Dread Spikes can be good if you’re the party’s front line and not facing lots of undead or bosses, though it’s just a small bit of mitigation.
Spell Resistance (+2, +3, +4, +5): By the time you can afford this, enemies will be able to easily bypass the spell resistance. Link.
Power Materia (Ability): Frees up a feat slot or two for Power Attack and Furious Focus. Invaluable to Dex based dragoons who don’t qualify for Power Attack without stat increases. Str dragoons will find this ok, if they can retrain the feats that they probably took by the time they can afford this materia. Link.
Skill Materia (Ability): Frees up a feat slot for Skill Focus (Acrobatics), and is cheap enough that you could take Acrobatic instead of the Skill Focus feat. You only need the level 1 of this materia, but if you want others go for it. Link.
Barrier Materia (Support): Slot this into your weapon to bypass some DR. Even at its first level this effect is amazing, every attack will do that much more damage, especially on higher level enemies that tend to have lots of DR. Almost required if you use a weapon that can’t use Wheeling Thrust. Link.
Doublecut Materia (Independent): If you can easily get a movement speed increase, this can do a lot more for you than haste. Being full BAB class with a few ways of boosting attack, dragoons can definitely put this to good use, especially by the time they get Multi-Jump. Link.
Expertise Materia (Ability): Grants you Combat Expertise to get around feat tax. Ignore this if you’re not doing a trip build. Link.
Flight Materia (Independent): Grants a constant flight speed no matter what armor you wear, which lets you set up a safe Dive attack even while exploring dungeons. Even aegyl might consider this if they find they can’t access their flight as often as they should. Link.
Ring of Freedom of Movement: Stop getting shut down by grapples and slow effects. Link.
Ring of Jumping, Improved: +10 competence bonus to Acrobatics checks for jumping. Need I say more? Link.
Ring of Protection: Deflection bonus to AC. Can be skipped by Valkyries and dragoons in a party with casters using Protectra. Link.
Amulet of Natural Armor (Neck): Pump up that AC to stay alive. Link.
Belt of Physical Might (Belt): Most dragoons will only need their physical stats, Con included. Some builds can benefit from both a high Str and Dex, so they can spend some extra on a Belt of Physical Perfection. Link and Link.
Boots of the Cat (Feet): All falling damage you take is minimal and you always land on your feet. While Super Jump makes you immune to fall damage anyway, these can be a great boon for flying dragoons such as valkyries and aegyl. This can end up doing more work than your Hardy Landing class feature. See if your GM will allow you to add this onto another pair of boots for 1,500 gil. Link.
Boots of Speed (Feet): Free action to apply haste to yourself for up to 10 rounds per day. The movement speed buff gives you +12 to Acrobatics for jumping. Dragoons focusing on full attacking will want these over Sprint Shoes. Link.
Boots of Striding and Springing (Feet): +5 competence bonus to Acrobatics checks for jumping, and a +10 enhancement bonus to land speed (for another +4 to jump checks). More Acrobatics is good, especially if you need some extra jumping distance, though there are early magic boots that compete for this slot. Most dragoons may want to stick with their Boots of the Cat, or save up a bit more for Boots of Speed. Link.
Cloak of Resistance (Shoulder): Basic item for any adventurer. Shellra can somewhat mitigate the need for this, though it can get dependent on the caster’s action economy and MP. Link.
Dusty Rose Prism (Ioun Stone): Normal version is +1 insight to AC. Cracked version is +1 competence to initiative. Both are fairly cheap and slotless. Link.
Goggles of Night (Eyes): For races that lack darkvision. Dragon Sight can cover this need, however. Link.
+1/+2/+3 Islander’s Wayfinder of Light (Neck): Gives you an extra materia slot, as well as a bonus to skill checks and saving throws. Speed will give you a sacred bonus to Acrobatics and initiative, so it’s the best choice for you. The others aren’t bad if you want to buff up your saves, just keep in mind Power doesn’t actually provide a bonus to Acrobatics even with Strengthened Agility. Link
Muleback Cords (Shoulders): Useful for heavily armored dragoons who may need more carrying capacity. If your GM allows custom magic items, you can add the effect of these on top of your current cloak for 1,500 gil. Link.
Pearly White Spindle (Ioun Stone): A cheap, slotless version of the ring of regeneration. Nice if you want that effect, since a dragoon’s ring slots are going to be taken by the time they can afford that ring. Don’t expect to rely on this mid-combat. Link.
Sabin’s Monk Tunic (Body): More useful for Dex dragoons who are using bracers of armor. A bit more useful if they dip a level or two into monk for the sake of getting Pummeling Charge. Otherwise it’s +1 AC and CMD. Link.
Speed Bracer (Wrist): A bit pricey, but if you’re burning through all your daily rounds for your Boots of Speed, it may be worth saving up for these. Link.
Sprint Shoes (Feet): Grants improved initiative feat and +30 foot move speed. The movement speed buff gives you +12 to Acrobatics for jumping. Dragoons focusing on using Deadly Lancer instead of full attacking will want these over Boots of Speed. Burmecians already get the feat from their race. Link.
There are a select few spells that benefit the Dragoon with Permanency. Permanency carries a risk, it can be dispelled, and all of your gil investment vanishes. A few of these are personal spells or not on the time mage’s permanency table (noted in brackets), so ask your GM if you can use scrolls to emulate the steps for permanency.
Darkvision: Useful for races that lack this naturally. It may be a better investment to just buy goggles or cast it. Bad once you get Dragon Sight. Link.
Dragon Jump III (Ask GM): +30 enhancement bonus to Acrobatics for jumping. Still a good choice if you’re not focusing too much on Deadly Lancer because of how beefy that increase is. Link.
Displacement (Ask GM): If you expect to be in the line of fire a lot, this can cause a lot of misses. Link.
Enlarge, Greater (Ask GM): A size increase, DR, +4 to STR and CON with -2 DEX is insanely good. Even Dex-based dragoons might consider this for the damage, CON, and DR. Link.
Saber (Ask GM): +1 to attack rolls and +2 to damage rolls, both untyped. Obtain other, easier methods to increase your damage before picking this up. Link.
See Invisibility: Invisible creatures can be a pain to fight, and always having this makes them a cinch. By the time you can afford this, you may already have Dragon Sight, but can be good if your archetype trades that out. Link.
Shield (Ask GM) or Shieldra: +4 shield AC with no ACP. A bad choice for dragoons with Phalanx Fighting. Link.
Temper (Ask GM): +2 untyped bonus to damage, crits cause shaken. Obtain other, easier methods to increase your damage before picking this up. Dark Dragoons may want to just cast this. Link.
True Seeing: Say goodbye to illusions and concealment. By the time you can afford this, you may already have Dragon Sight, but can be fantastic if your archetype trades that out. Link.
Weapon of Awe (Ask GM): +2 sacred bonus to damage rolls, crits cause shaken. Obtain other, easier methods to increase your damage before picking this up. Holy Dragoons may want to just cast this. Link.
Dragoons can benefit from multiclassing into Warrior, especially if they want access to Weapon Specialization and Greater Weapon Focus at earlier levels. There are also some nice warrior talents such as Melee Power, Athlete, or Warrior’s Spirit if you have plenty of levels to spare. Chosen Weapon stacks with Polearm Training.
Taking 2 levels in Knight is a nice alternative to obtain Spear Brace without having to take Phalanx Fighting. Defensive Stance can also be nice if you don’t need to keep Deadly Lancer charging around the battlefield. Knight can benefit any class that wants to use heavy armor and a shield, and provide easy access to Armor Training if your archetype trades it out. You may want to take an archetype that replaces Defensive Stance, at least if you get access to Multi-Jump.
Taking a single level in Monk can benefit Dex based dragoons who want to use Dragonfly Style or Ascetic Style and a tiger fork or monk’s spade by fulfilling feat prerequisites. With a decent Wisdom, taking 3 levels in Monk will grant Evasion (no armor only), a Martial Arts talent for something like Uncanny Dodge or Athlete, Fast Movement, and a ki power like Ki Jump. While the passive bonus isn’t granted, a ki point can be spent as a swift action to grant a +20 competence bonus for 1 round – 10 more than a Ring of Jumping, Improved. If you intend to get the ring, Sudden Speed is a viable alternative, since that will stack with enhancements to move speed and gives you +12 to Acrobatics for jumping. You can also use a monk’s spade or a tiger fork for a weapon to get the extra attack from Flurry of Blows.
Taking at least 1 level in the Poledancer archetype for Dancer allows you to get Dexterity to attack and damage rolls for polearms, without needing to spend two acrobatic talents on them. If you want to also take the Phalanx Fighting talent, however, you will end up losing this ability. A second level will get you an extra acrobatic talent. Normal dancer might not be as good of a choice as multiclassing into Monk.