Can't find the right thing to say? I know. I took it.
The illumians (Races of Destiny
) are a peculiar lot: a race that determined that, just as language could describe all existence, any existence could become language. Through their Ritual Of Words Made Flesh, they distilled their essences into configurations of six runes and rebuilt themselves into creatures of living text and speech, gaining unusual powers and advancing themselves towards their perceived enlightenment.
Not everyone buys into their idea of enlightnment. Some people just wanted the power of the Words Made Flesh without the task of rebuilding their very existences to achieve it. Thus was the art of the wordthief developed: a set of techniques to rip out the very words that define a being and use them for one's own ends.
BECOMING A WORDTHIEF
The art of the wordthief is similar to that practiced by the more common spellthief (Complete Adventurer
), and most wordthieves have been spellthieves at some point in their careers. Rogues also make capable wordthieves, if they take the time to pursue the appropriate studies. A factotum (Dungeonscape
) can easily qualify, and while the wordthief's abilities do not directly enhance the factotum's, the versatility of its powers can combine well with the factotum's broad fields of study. A ninja (Complete Adventurer
) needs to expand outside his usual fields of study to meet the requirements, but can make an excellent wordthief if he does so. Bards meet the qualifications to become wordthieves easily, but gain little benefit from doing so.
Decipher Script 8 ranks, Knowledge (arcana) 4 ranks, Listen 4 ranks
Must be literate and speak at least 4 languages learned by spending skill points on Speak Language (as opposed to automatic starting languages or bonus languages from a high Intelligence.)
The Class Name's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Appraise (Int), Craft (Int), Decipher Script (Int), Disable Device (Int), Forgery (Int), Gather Information (Cha), Hide (Dex), Knowledge (arcana) (Int), Knowledge (history) (Int), Knowledge (local) (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Open Lock (Dex), Profession (Wis), Search (Int), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex) Speak Language (n/a), Tumble (Dex), and Use Magic Device (Cha).
Skills Points at Each Level:
6 + int
|Level||Base Attack Bonus||Fort Save||Ref Save||Will Save||Special|
|Sneak attack +1d6, Thief Of Words, Stolen Words|
|Flesh Made Words|
|Reader Of Words|
|Sneak attack +1d6|
|Censor Of Words|
|Sneak Attack +1d6|
|Forger Of Words|
|Thief Of Last Words|
|Sneak attack +1d6, Master Sigil|
: A wordthief gains no new weapon or armor proficiencies..
: A wordthief gains the ability to make sneak attacks (as the rogue ability). At first level she gains one die of sneak attack, plus another every three levels thereafter (at fourth, seventh, and so on.) This stacks with any other source of sneak attack she may possess. A wordthief who has the sudden strike ability may choose to gain dice of sudden strike at these levels instead. A wordthief with the steal spells ability may add her wordthief level to her spellthief levels for the purpose of determining the number of levels of stolen spells she may retain and the maximum level of spells that may be stolen; however, if she uses this ability to steal a higher level spell than she otherwise could, she may only steal spells with verbal components.
Thief Of Words
(Ex): The first trick of the wordthief is to steal the syllables that define creatures and make them what they are. On a successful sneak attack, she may forego one die of sneak attack damage to silence a target for one round per wordthief level. This grants the wordthief a stolen word corresponding to the target's highest ability score, as described below under Stolen Words. If the creature has multiple ability scores tied for highest, the wordthief may choose which word she wants to steal. Ability damage and any bonuses or penalties currently affecting the creature are included to determine which ability score is highest.
A silenced target may not make any voluntary noise that originates internally to the creature. Thus, it may not speak, sing, or cry out; however, the creature's heart can still be heard beating within its chest and its footsteps will still create noise. The victim begins to suffer further ill effects starting ten minutes after the silence effect ends. For as long as the wordthief continues to carry the stolen word, plus one day thereafter, the creature's verbal abilities are severely disjointed by the words ripped from its system. It must use at least a full-round action to perform any kind of coherent verbal communication, including written communication and even telepathy if the telepathic ability used specifies that creatures communicating with it must know a language. This does not affect its ability to cast spells, however.
This ability is particularly effective against illumians. When a wordthief uses this ability against an illumian, she steals two words, corresponding to that illumian's sigils rather being determined by his ability scores. The illumian may not use his power sigil or illumian words abilities as long as the wordthief retains at least one of his words. At the DM's discretion, this ability may have similar effects on other beings whose nature is intimately entwined with the nature of language, such as logokron devils or certain living spells.
(Ex): Many of the wordthief's abilities are powered by words stolen from her enemies. There are six words of power, corresponding to the six ability scores and six illumian sigils. A wordthief may normally only carry one stolen word from a given creature at a time, unless that creature is an illumian. A stolen word may be carried indefinitely. A wordthief may carry a number of stolen words equal to her wordthief level plus the number of languages she has spent skill points to learn, up to a maximum equal to her hit dice.
Aesh ("vigor") corresponds to Strength. Hoon ("life") corresponds to Constitution. Krau ("magic") corresponds to Wisdom. Naen ("mind") corresponds to Intelligence. Uur ("grace") corresponds to Dexterity. Vaul ("soul") corresponds to Charisma.
A wordthief can expend a stolen word as a swift action to gain a bonus to checks using that word's corresponding ability score equal to her wordthief level. This bonus lasts until the beginning of the wordthief's next turn. A wordthief can also perfectly mimic the voice of any individual from whom she is currently carrying a stolen word.
A wordthief with the Steal Spells ability may expend a number of stolen words when casting a stolen spell equal to the spell's level, as long as the spell has no components other than verbal components. If she does so, the stolen spell is not expended.
Stolen words may change as the wordthief carries them. If the wordthief gets a full night's sleep while carrying one or more words, she may change one of her carried words to a different word of her choice. She may convert two such words each night starting at fifth level, and three at tenth level.
Flesh Made Words
(Su): Much as the illumians transform their bodies into living language, the wordthief learns to convert the stolen language of creation into a part of her body. A wordthief of at least second level may expend a carried word as a swift action to partially transform her body. The stolen word manifests as a vivid sigil in a prominent location upon her body and may not be concealed; it stains and shows through any clothes that cover it up. Unlike an illumian's sigils, it does not shed light and may appear in locations other than the head. The wordthief may manifest only one sigil at a time; if she manifests another sigil, it replaces her current one. The benefits of the sigil depend on what word was expended to create it. A sigil normally lasts until another sigil is manifested. However, each sigil may have its manifestation ended prematurely under specific conditions to obtain a special benefit specific to that sigil if the wordthief so desires. These special benefits are activated as a free action which may only be taken when the appropriate condition for that specific sigil is met.
Reader Of Words
Aesh: The wordthief gains a bonus to damage with melee or thrown weapons equal to her wordthief level. On a successful hit with a melee or thrown weapon, the wordthief may choose to end the sigil's manifestation prematurely to knock her target back with a furious impact. This is resolved as a bull rush, with the following exceptions. The wordthief may choose to use her dexterity instead of her strength to determine her bonus to the bull rush check, and gains an untyped bonus to her bull rush check equal to the damage dealt by the attack that triggered it. She does not need to move into the enemy's space, and may move the enemy multiple spaces without having to follow it.
Hoon: The wordthief gains temporary hit points equal to her wordthief level. When she takes damage that causes her to no longer have temporary hit points, the wordthief may choose to end the sigil's manifestation and be healed of an amount of damage equal to twice her wordthief level, up to her normal maximum.
Krau: The wordthief's attacks bear a mystical energy. When attacking an enemy who is normally immune to sneak attacks, she may still make sneak attacks or sudden strikes up to a maximum number of dice per attack equal to her wordthief level. As a free action at any time, the wordthief may prematurely end this sigil's manifestation to gain blindsight, darkvision and scent out to a radius of 15 feet per wordthief level for one minute per wordthief level.
Naen: The wordthief may make untrained skill checks as if she were trained, and may apply her highest physical ability score's bonus as a bonus to any mental (Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma-based) skill checks she makes. When making a skill check, she may prematurely end this sigil's manifestation to take 10 on that check, even if circumstances are stressful or it is not a skill which normally allows taking 10.
Uur: The wordthief gains a bonus to her movement speed of 5' per wordthief level, and may apply her highest mental ability score's bonus as a bonus to any physical (Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution-based) skill checks she makes. As a free action at any time, she may prematurely end this sigil's manifestation to gain a swim speed, climb speed, or burrow speed of 5' per wordthief level for one minute per wordthief level.
Vaul: The wordthief may use either Bluff, Diplomacy, or Intimidate interchangeably for feinting, creating a diversion, and demoralizing opponents, and may perform any of these as a swift action. Additionally, she will never worsen a target's attitude with a failed Diplomacy check while this sigil is active; such a failed roll will instead cause the target's attitude to remain the same. When the wordthief fails an opposed skill check, she may prematurely end this sigil's manifestation to reroll her skill check.
(Ex): As she becomes more proficient in her arts, the wordthief learns to understand in detail the relationship between a being and the words of power that describe it. A third-level wordthief who has observed a target for at least a round may make a Decipher Script check against a DC of 10 + the target's HD as a free action. On a successful check, the wordthief determines the creature's associated word of power as determined by its highest ability score. If the creature has multiple highest ability scores, the wordthief learns all the words of power associated with it. If the check fails, the wordthief may not make another such check against that target until she has made a more detailed examination, which requires a standard action.
Censor Of Words
(Ex): At fifth level, the wordthief learns to use her mastery of the words of power to entirely strike out parts of the words that define her enemies' being. On a successful sneak attack, she may forego two dice of sneak attack damage and expend a stolen word to deal 1d6 ability damage to the target's ability score corresponding to the expended word. This ability may be used only once per attack. If Thief of Words and Censor of Words are applied to the same attack, the creature's associated word is determined before ability damage is calculated. A successful saving throw prevents this ability damage; the DC is 10 + the wordthief's class level + the wordthief's highest ability modifier. The required saving throw is Fortitude if the damage is against Strength, Constitution, or Dexterity, and Will if the damage is against Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma.
(Su): At sixth level, the wordthief has greater control of the words that she takes into herself. The wordthief may now have two sigils active at once. Bonuses from two copies of the same sigil do not stack, although the wordthief may choose to have two of the same sigil if she wishes (for example, to be able to gain the benefit of prematurely ending the sigil without losing its ongoing benefit.)
If the wordthief has two different sigils manifested, she may combine them as a swift action into a single greater sigil. A greater sigil grants the ongoing benefits of its constituent sigils, but may not be prematurely terminated for additional benefits. Instead, each greater sigil grants a unique benefit to the wordthief. If a new sigil is manifested, it replaces one of the two constituent sigils, breaking the greater sigil and leaving the other constituent sigil in place.
Forger Of Words
Aeshoon: This word embodies those who stand firm and battle against a crushing tide of opposition. As a swift action, the wordthief can issue a challenge to test an opponent's mettle. The opponent must have an Intelligence of at least 5 and a CR equal to or greater than the wordthief's character level minus 2 for the challenge to succeed. If it does, that enemy is challenged for a number of rounds equal to 5 plus the wordthief's Charisma bonus. The wordthief gains a morale bonus equal to 1 + her Constitution bonus to attack and damage rolls against that enemy and Will saves against that enemy's abilities. A target that is challenged must attack the wordthief in preference to other targets as long as it can do so without provoking attacks of opportunity in the process. If another creature attacks a challenged creature, the challenged creature is no longer forced to prefer the wordthief as a target. The wordthief may not issue a new challenge while a challenge is already active.
Aeshkrau: This word evokes those who battle with strength of arm and magic together. When she attacks an opponent in melee, the wordthief may attempt to lay a curse on that enemy as a free action. The enemy may make a Will save to resist the curse (DC 10 + wordthief class level + the wordthief's highest mental ability bonus.) If the curse succeeds, its victim takes a -2 penalty on attacks, saves, ability checks, skill checks, and weapon damage for an hour thereafter. The curse also ends immediately if this sigil's manifestation ends or the wordthief curses a different victim.
Aeshuur: This word describes the grace and deadliness of a hunter. The wordthief gains the benefits of the Track feat, and may move at her full movement speed while tracking. Undergrowth and other naturally-formed dificult terrain do not impair her movement.
Naenaesh: This is the word that describes the daring warriors who blend strength and cunning. While this sigil is manifested, the wordthief adds her Intelligence bonus to damage with any weapon to which Weapon Finesse's benefits could be applied. She may also charge through difficult terrain or allies' spaces.
Vaulaesh: This word describes a war-leader who inspires feats of great ferocity. All allies within sixty feet who can hear the wordthief and understand her language gain a circumstance bonus on disarm, trip, bull rush, and sunder attempts equal to the wordthief's Charisma bonus. This bonus is also applied to either rolls to confirm critical hits or armor class against attacks of opportunity; the wordthief chooses which when the sigil is manifested and may change between the two as a swift action.
Hoonkrau: This word describes heroes whose overflowing vitality blends with burning magical potential. Once every three rounds as a standard action, the wordthief may breathe fire in a 15-foot cone or a 30-foot line as she wishes. This fiery breath deals 6d6 damage, with a Reflex save for half damage (DC 10 + wordthief class level + Con modifier). The wordthief may expend a stolen word to use her breath weapon again before three rounds have passed.
Hoonvaul: This word embodies those who crusade with the strength of a boundless lifeforce and a shining heart. Once every three rounds, the wordthief may choose to smite an enemy with a melee attack. If the enemy has at least one alignment component opposed to the wordthief's, the wordthief adds her Charisma bonus to the attack roll and 1 point of damage per wordthief level to the damage roll. The wordthief may expend a stolen word to use this ability again before three rounds have passed.
Naenhoon: This is the word that evokes those whose focused convictions channel boundless life energy. As a move action, the wordthief can charge a melee weapon with the sapphire power of that conviction. If the next melee attack the wordthief makes is successful and the target's alignment is opposed to the wordthief's along at least one axis, the target must make a Fortitude saving throw (DC 10 + wordthief class level + Con modifier) or be stunned until the beginning of the wordthief's next turn. If the attack is unsuccessful, the charge is lost with no effect. The wordthief may only have one such charge readied at a time.
Uurhoon: This word speaks of the grace of wild beasts and nature's boundless vigor. While this sigil is manifested, the wordthief gains two claw attacks which deal 1d8 damage each (if the wordthief is Medium; larger or smaller wordthieves deal more or less damage as normal.) If the wordthief hits the same enemy with both claws in the same round, she may rend the target for additional damage equal to her claw damage plus one and one half times her Strength modifier. The wordthief may also attack with all her natural weapons at the end of a charge.
Naenkrau: This word describes those whose depths of knowledge and wisdom guide their allies to victory. Once per encounter as a move action, the wordthief may choose an enemy of certain kinds and make a Knowledge check to grant her allies valuable insights into that enemy's weaknesses. The type of check required depends on the type of enemy: Knowledge (arcana) against magical beasts, Knowledge (dungeoneering) against aberrations, Knowledge (religion against undead, or Knowledge (the planes) against outsiders and elementals. The base DC of the check is 15. If the check succeeds, the wordthief and her allies add 1d6 to their weapon damage rolls against that creature and other creatures of the same species for the duration of the encounter. If the check succeeds by 10 or more, the bonus increases to 2d6. If the check succeeds by 20 or more, the bonus increases to 3d6. The wordthief may expend a stolen word to use this ability again in the same encounter, but not against the same species of enemy.
Uurkrau: This word evokes those who blend inner focus with physical poise. While this sigil is manifested, the wordthief may climb at her speed as a move action with no penalty, although she must begin and end the round on a horizontal surface. She may also expend a stolen word as a swift action to become invisible for one round.
Vaulkrau: This word represents a person whose force of will extends beyond the physical plane and into the spiritual world. Any weapon the wordthief holds gains the ghost touch property while she holds it. Furthermore, as a standard action she may detect disturbances in the spiritual world. This works similarly to detect undead, except that instead of detecting undead in general it detects incorporeal undead, all fey, all elementals, and creatures in astral form.
Uurnaen: This is the word that describes a warrior who focuses mental discipline into a physical force. As a move action, the wordthief can imbue a held weapon with psychic energy. Her next successful melee attack against a living, non-mindless target deals an extra 3d8 damage. Each time she uses this ability beyond the first in a single encounter, the wordthief must expend a stolen word.
Vauluur: This word embodies individuals of stealthy grace with an untamed magical soul. The wordthief may detect magic at will. Furthermore, when she makes a successful sneak attack, she may forego one die of sneak attack damage to transfer a spell effect currently affecting the target to herself for one minute per wordthief level, as long as it is an effect that could legally target the wordthief and is not specifically immune to dispel magic.
Vaulnaen: Those described by this word combine a sagelike knowledge with a wanderer's heart. The wordthief may make a special check with a bonus equal to her wordthief level plus her Intelligence modifier to dredge up oddments of information about legends and lore. The DC is 10 for common knowledge, 20 for uncommon knowledge, 25 for obscure knowledge, and 30 for extremely obscure or mostly-forgotten knowledge. Additionally, as a standard action she may expend a stolen word and sing, chant, dance, or otherwise make a distraction. Those she wishes to distract must make a Will save against a DC of 1d20 + wordthief class level + Charisma modifier or be fascinated for as long as she continues the distraction, one round per wordthief level, or until an obvious threat becomes apparent, whichever comes first.
(Su): An eighth-level wordthief can edit the words that define her opponents' being with greater sophistication than ever. On a successful sneak attack, she may forego three dice of damage and expend two different stolen words. The target's ability scores corresponding to the two words expended are exchanged. For example, if the wordthief expended an Uur and a Naen word to use Forger of Words on a creature with 18 Dexterity and 10 Intelligence, the creature would have 10 Dexterity and 18 Inteligence after the attack. A successful Will saving throw prevents this effect; the DC is 10 + the wordthief's class level + the wordthief's highest ability modifier.
Thief of Last Words
(Su): A ninth-level wordthief learns to opportunistically steal the last words of the dying. When a creature which speaks at least one language dies within thirty feet of the wordthief, she may make a Decipher Script check against a DC of 10 + the creature's CR. If she succeeds, she obtains a stolen word corresponding to the creature's highest ability score, even if she already has a stolen word from that creature. A creature whose last word has been stolen may not be contacted using Speak With Dead or similar effects.
If this ability is used on an illumian, it steals his Final Utterance. The Final Utterance ability does not take effect as normal. Instead, the wordthief gains a number of randomly determined stolen words (roll 1d6 to determine each stolen word's nature) equal to the illumian's hit dice, even if this exceeds her normal limit for stolen words carried. As long as the wordthief carries at least one of these stolen words, no force short of divine intervention can raise that illumian from the dead. For this reason, experienced wordthieves are hated and feared by illumians more than almost any other beings.
(Su): A tenth-level wordthief gains the ability to use a powerfully focused version of her sigils. To use Master Sigil, the wordthief must have two of the same sigil manifested by means of the Double Sigil ability. Each use of Master Sigil requires expending a stolen word, which must be the same word manifested in her sigil. The effects of Master Sigil depend on which word is used, as does the action required to use it. Each master sigil has a secondary benefit with an ongoing duration, during which Master Sigil may not be used again. The secondary benefit persists even if the wordthief replaces one of her sigils.
PLAYING A WORDTHIEF
Aesh: The master Aesh sigil may be used as a free action when making a melee attack to imbue the attack with unspeakable force. If the attack hits, its damage is not rolled for. Instead, the attack deals damage equal to the maximum possible result of its damage roll. Effects which are triggered by rolling a specific number on the damage dice are not triggered by the master Aesh sigil, since the dice are not rolled. The wordthief's subsequent melee attacks ignore all hardness and damage reduction for the remainder of the encounter.
Hoon: The master Hoon sigil may be used as an immediate action when the wordthief takes damage from an attack, spell, or other source. The damage is prevented as if the wordthief were entirely immune to the source of damage. For the remainder of the encounter, the wordthief becomes resistant to damage. If the damage prevented was energy damage, she gains energy resistance 30 against that damage type. If it was not energy damage, she gains DR 10/-.
Krau: The master Krau sigil may be used as an immediate action when the wordthief makes a saving throw against a spell or supernatural ability. The saving throw succeeds with no roll required. For the remainder of the encounter, the wordthief gains resilience against attacks of that type. When she successfully makes a saving throw of the same type (Fortitude, Reflex or Will) as the saving throw that triggered this ability against an effect that has partial or half effects on a successful saving throw, it has no effect on her.
Naen: The master Naen sigil may be used as a free action when making a mental skill check (one based on Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma). The skill is treated as a class skill in which the wordthief has maximum ranks for her level. For the remainder of the encounter, the wordthief becomes aware of the presence and location of all creatures which speak, read or understand at least one language within 100 feet, as well as what languages they understand.
Uur: The master Uur sigil may be used as a free action when making a physical skill check (one based on Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution). The skill is treated as a class skill in which the wordthief has maximum ranks for her level. For the remainder of the encounter, the wordthief may not be flanked, surprised, or denied her Dexterity bonus.
Vaul: The master Vaul sigil may be used as an immediate action when the wordthief is attacked in melee. The attack instead targets another creature threatened by the enemy attacking the wordthief, if any exists; if not, the enemy attacks empty space. The wordthief may choose which threatened creature is targeted if she is aware of other viable targets, but may not choose to change the attack to target empty space if there is another viable target. For the remainder of the encounter, the wordthief is considered to have concealment from any creature which threatened her at the time the master Vaul sigil was used.
Stolen words are the lifeblood of the wordthief. Few allies will long tolerate a wordthief who steals their words on a regular basis, so most make do with what they can steal from enemies (or, if the thief is less scrupulous, from bystanders and innocents). A wordthief can spend her words in two main ways: either on long-term benefits in the form of sigils, or short-term benefits in the form of her special attacks and some sigil powers. Because the benefits of sigils are long-term, a wordthief will almost always want to have a sigil active, although which sigil will be active is a matter of situation and available words.
The most obvious thing to keep in mind in combat is to try to set up sneak attacks: they give you bonus damage, they give you precious stolen words, and they trigger Censor and Forger Of Words. Beyond this, your tactics can change drastically with your active sigils and your available stolen words. Some words are more easily available than others; in a dungeon, there may be many more creatures which have a high Strength or Dexterity than a high Charisma. Since low stats tend to be the most valuable to target with Censor Of Words or Forger Of Words, it's an unfortunate fact that whatever resource is scarcest will also tend to be the most valuable. If this becomes an issue, you might consider using the words of which you have a surplus to power sigils, either by repeatedly manifesting them to end them for their special benefits, or to fuel Greater Sigil abilities such as Hoonkrau's fire breath or Uurnaen's psychic strike.
Most wordthieves enter the class as members of a skilled class, and the wordthief will probably want to continue as a skilled class as her career advances. Classes with sneak attack may be particularly appealing, and the wordthief's abilities combine especially well with the spellthief in particular. No prestige classes stand out as extraordinarily synergistic with the wordthief.
There is no central organization for wordthieves; most learn the tricks from a mentor on an individual basis or develop them from intensive study of the few writings on the subject. Many criminal organizations welcome wordthieves for their mix of skilled sneaking and oddball talents.
WORDTHIEVES IN THE WORLD
"She's much more useful to our army than an assassin would be. A commander who dies is a martyr to his men and easily replaced within the system. A commander who can barely assemble a sentence? Ah, that's much harder to work with."
As a wordthief, you've discovered a potent and eminently practical path to power: you steal it. Whatever else your goals or ethics, the fundamental nature of your powers is that you acquire them by stealing bits and pieces of other creatures' very being. Many wordthieves have absolutely no problem with this and steal more than words, making their powers the basis of a successful criminal career. Even those who seek to turn their powers to constructive ends tend to do so in at least slightly shady ways as spies, rebels, or the ever-popular "treasure hunters". The exceptions tend to be those who came to the wordthief's arts from a more scholarly direction, driven by a curiosity about the nature of language and its relationship to living beings.
The wordthief tends to be a more scholarly kind of outlaw than most. While the wordthief's adventures are just as messy as anyone's, her downtime will often be spent in study or more refined entertainments. Of course, there are always exceptions.
Hreska Olvir is a special operations field officer in the army. In addition to the usual "special operations" of spying and scouting, Hreska carries out a special duty: she uses her Thief Of Words ability on key targets among the enemy ranks to weaken enemy communications and morale. Much to her embarrassment, the notorious "gentleman thief" Jasper Cavillo is another student of the same master, who uses his abilities to silence witnesses nonlethally while he makes his getaway.
There is no formal organization of wordthieves. However, in addition to the usual groups that employ sneakabouts and scoundrels, wordthieves often find their way into more academic organizations with their knowledge of languages and esoteric writings. More than one quiet academic at a respected center of learning has found his way into some dirty little secrets.
Wordthieves are not collectively very well known, so the impression of most NPCs will be informed by whatever noteworthy individuals they might be familiar with. There is a significant exception to this: illumians are quite familiar with the concept of wordthieves, and will fear and distrust them almost without exception. This reaction is more or less inevitable given that even a novice wordthief gains special benefits from stealing an illumian's words.
WORDTHIEVES IN THE GAME
The wordthief may seem like a difficult class to work with. It requires paying attention to game aspects that aren't usually closely tracked, and the player needs to keep track of both the type and source of his stolen words. However, the options at any given time are much more limited than the sprawling class features would indicate, streamlining things a bit in play. A DM with a wordthief in his party might want to pay closer attention to the ability scores of otherwise-minor NPCs and vary them a bit from the default statistics blocks. With most PCs, it doesn't matter if all twenty kobolds have the same ability scores, but shuffling them a bit will give the wordthief a little more flexibility.
In a setting where illumians don't exist, wordthieves could have come into being in response to other groups or beings with powers over language. Truenamers (Tome of Magic
) are a natural candidate, as are religious organizations devoted to deities of knowledge or language such as Boccob and Oghma.
An enterprising wordthief has seized onto the complicated and vicious rivalries among famous actors in a major city and hires himself out to cripple hated rivals' voices on the night of critical performances. This has in turn come to the attention of the crime syndicates that already hold power in the city. The wordthief may seek protection from the syndicates' legbreakers, or the PCs may be hired to teach him a lesson themselves.