My best melee character at level 9 is a ... Druid?
I just wanted to express my appreciation again for the advice you guys give, and to the game for allowing some odd combinations to pay off big time.
Now in fairness I have not played Fighter/Ranger/Pally/Bard past level 8, because I found them boring. I have a 9 Rogue that I may go back to eventually, and I have a 21 monk that I REALLY like. But even my Monk at level 9 could not come close to the melee capabilities of this current build.
This current character is Male Half-Elf 2 Monk/7 Druid. I had Veteran 7 and 32 point builds, so he started out as 2 Monk, 5 Druid.
I know it sounds weird, but I went 13 Int at the start to take Wizard Dilletante. I can use my free LR later to change the whole build and Dill if I want, but there are some low level Arcane spells that I really wanted access to (like Displacement/Teleport, etc)
Really the entire concept is built around Stave of the Seer, which I found on the AH and then you guys told me that a Druid can really do some damage with this thing. You were right :) But if you can't get a Stave of the Seer then the rest is meaningless.
You need to start with 13 STR to get Power Attack (and then of course Cleave and Great Cleave), but also start with 16 WIS. All level ups into WIS.
Once I hit level 8 I could use the Stave. Once I hit level 9 (7 Druid), and got Reaving Roar, the already powerful damage potential skyrocketed further. Most of this is because the Stave is one of those rare INT/WIS based to-hit and + damage weapons! With Monk Water Stance, enhancements, level-ups, gear and ship buffs I am at 30 Wis right now. Power Attack also works with your "to hit" stat, so it is Wisdom based for this weapon also. The level 1 Druid spell Shillelagh adds + 1W if using a quarterstaff, so the based damage of this beastly staff is 2.5 x 2d6, crit profile of x 2 on 19-20. Power Attack adds another 10 damage, the weapon is + 4 (I think), + 2 from Ram's might, + 2 from Ship buffs, + 10 more from Wisdom modifier. Cleave makes the weapon 3.5 x 2d6, hitting multiple enemies, Great Cleave makes it 4.5 x 2d6, hitting even more. All of this is assuming you don't put extra damage into the TWO augment slots of the Stave! Right now I have a Devotion Ruby in one and Ice damage in the other. I also use the Melee Alacrity robe from the Sorrowdusk chain to attack 10% faster. Once you get Reaving Roar, and you kill one enemy, everything around that enemy takes and extra 13d6 damage. ON TOP OF ALL THIS I also have a wolf pet and summoned monsters doing their seemingly small damage too, but it does add up I guess. But this is why I say that this is my best melee character - none of the others I played came close at this level.
For defenses, the Monk AC boost from high Wisdom is a huge help. With Barkskin and buffs my AC is 43 - not too shabby at all for level 9 and in robes. Since I took Maximize at level 1 (Druid), my Cure spell heals me for over 100, and I'll get much better cure spells as I level up (all remaining levels will be Druid.)
What's weird is that other than my buffs, cures, and occasional summons, I hardly ever cast a spell. I could throw a maximized Ice Storm out there if I wanted to, but why? They're all gonna be dead in a couple seconds anyway, and I'd rather save the sp for if I ever really need it.
At level 12 I will get better weapon augments and also take Improved Critical bludgeon (which I think will also help when I am in wolf form). Where I go from there I really don't know. Since in a way the weapon levels with me, I can see me using the same strategy for the next several levels, throwing in some spells occasionally as I get better ones. I imagine at some point I will outgrow this weapon and then have some serious changes to make, since I know of no high level weapons that are WIS based. I will probably ask advice from you guys when I get there. But for right now, IF you can find a Stave of the Seer, this build is working out VERY well for the Heroic levels.
Thanks again guys for all the great advice.