Troll in the Playground
Re: Iron Chef Optimization Challenge In The Playground XXXI
Don't you know that you are a shooting star
- Bad Company
Originally Posted by Jacques de Payens
Sometimes just one Sending can change your life forever.
For Jacques de Payens, explorer, alchemist, and scholar, that Sending could not have been more ill-timed. He had dutifully worshiped the Mother of Magic and done all she had asked, had trained for years with the Sentinels who fought alongside the Order of the Shooting Star, defending the Weave from the work of Shar. And now he was ready to settle down, to marry, perhaps even open a shop. He had accomplished much in so short a time, and he was looking forward to a quieter life.
Alas, it was not to be. Through the Weavespeak, Jacques saw the face of his brother, full of anguish.
“Guillaume is dead. Elirhondas has fallen. The High Priest d’Aubigne has betrayed the Sentinels and stolen away the sacred books. We were unprepared. Help us.”
Jacques looked with longing at the sleeping figure of his mistress, the woman he hoped would be his wife. He fingered the small black dagger he kept always on a leather thong about his neck. Then, steeling himself, he strode from bed and stole out into the night. His glowing sigils cast ghastly shadows about him, shadows that seemed to cry out, stay!
He shook his head. He would not abandon his fellow partisans, even if it meant forsaking the life he craved. He was Jacques de Payens, Shadow Sentinel, renowned throughout the land for his craft, and he would now bring all this craft to defend his brethren.
He pulled the dagger from its scabbard, and as he walked it transformed to the tall guisarme that was the marker of his station. And with that, he continued down the path to Elirhondas…
Jacques de Payens, Defender of the Weave
Explanation, Tips & Tricks
LN Illumian (Naenkrau), Ranger 5/Trapsmith 1/Earth Dreamer 4/Shadow Sentinel 10
Starting Stats: Str 14/Dex 12/Con 14/Int 16/Wis 14/Cha 8
(Level boosts go to Strength, plus one boost to Con.)
Order of the Shooting Star substitution levels, Arcane Hunter, Trap Expert, Spiritual Connection
Jacques de Payens
|Level||Class||Base Attack Bonus||Fort Save||Ref Save||Will Save||Skills||Feats||Class Features|
|Craft (trapmaking) 4 ranks, craft (alchemy) 4 ranks, disable device 4 ranks, search 4 ranks, open lock 2 ranks, knowledge (nature) 4 ranks, knowledge (dungeoneering) 4 ranks, listen 4 ranks, spot 4 ranks||Earth Sense||Favored enemy: arcanists, spiritual connection, trapfinding|
|Craft (trapmaking) 5 ranks, craft (alchemy) 5 ranks, disable device 5 ranks, search 5 ranks, open lock 2.5 ranks, knowledge (nature) 5 ranks, knowledge (dungeoneering) 5 ranks, listen 5 ranks, spot 5 ranks||Two-Weapon Fighting||Combat style|
|Craft (trapmaking) 6 ranks, disable device 6 ranks, search 6 ranks, spellcraft 5 ranks, open lock 3 ranks||Weapon Focus (Guisarme)||Weavespeak|
|Craft (trapmaking) 7 ranks, disable device 7 ranks, search 7 ranks, open lock 3.5 ranks, spellcraft 7 ranks, craft (alchemy) 6 ranks, listen 6 ranks, spot 6 ranks|| ||Bonus spells, improved spellcasting|
|Craft (trapmaking) 8 ranks, disable device 8 ranks, search 8 ranks, open lock 4 ranks, spellcraft 8 ranks, craft (alchemy) 7 ranks, listen 7 ranks, spot 7 ranks|| ||Second favored enemy: aberrations|
|6th||Shadow Sentinel 1|
|Craft (trapmaking) 9 ranks, craft (alchemy) 8 ranks, spellcraft 9 ranks, open lock 4.5 ranks||Sword of the Arcane Order||Umbral blade +1, morphic blade (type), shadowstrike|
|7th||Shadow Sentinel 2|
|Craft (trapmaking) 10 ranks, craft (alchemy) 9 ranks, spellcraft 10 ranks, open lock 5 ranks|| ||Shadowbane|
|Craft (trapmaking) 11 ranks, craft (alchemy) 10 ranks, disable device 11 ranks, search 10 ranks, listen 8 ranks, spot 8 ranks|| ||Booby traps (simple), master disarmer, trap sense +1|
|9th||Earth Dreamer 1|
|Craft (trapmaking) 12 ranks, craft (alchemy) 11 ranks, listen 9 ranks, disable device 12 ranks||Shape Soulmeld (Phase Cloak)||Earth friend|
|10th||Earth Dreamer 2|
|Craft (trapmaking) 13 ranks, craft (alchemy) 12 ranks, listen 10 ranks, disable device 13 ranks|| ||Earth dream|
|11th||Earth Dreamer 3|
|Craft (trapmaking) 14 ranks, craft (alchemy) 13 ranks, listen 11 ranks, disable device 14 ranks|| ||Lesser tremorsense|
|12th||Earth Dreamer 4|
|Craft (trapmaking) 15 ranks, craft (alchemy) 14 ranks, listen 12 ranks, disable device 15 ranks||Open Lesser Chakra (Shoulders)||Earth Sight|
|13th||Shadow Sentinel 3|
|Craft (trapmaking) 16 ranks, craft (alchemy) 15 ranks, listen 13 ranks, spot 10 ranks|| ||Shadowsharp|
|14th||Shadow Sentinel 4|
|Craft (trapmaking) 17 ranks, craft (alchemy) 16 ranks, listen 14 ranks, spot 12 ranks|| ||Umbral blade +2|
|15th||Shadow Sentinel 5|
|Craft (trapmaking) 18 ranks, craft (alchemy) 17 ranks, listen 15 ranks, spot 14 ranks||Travel Devotion||Morphic blade (material)|
|16th||Shadow Sentinel 6|
|Craft (trapmaking) 19 ranks, craft (alchemy) 18 ranks, listen 16 ranks, spot 16 ranks|| ||Umbral blade +3|
|17th||Shadow Sentinel 7|
|Craft (trapmaking) 20 ranks, craft (alchemy) 19 ranks, listen 17 ranks, spot 18 ranks|| ||Shadow drain|
|18th||Shadow Sentinel 8|
|Craft (trapmaking) 21 ranks, craft (alchemy) 20 ranks, listen 19 ranks, spot 19 ranks||Travel Devotion||Umbral blade +4|
|19th||Shadow Sentinel 9|
|Craft (trapmaking) 22 ranks, craft (alchemy) 21 ranks, listen 20 ranks, spot 21 ranks|| ||Morphic blade (alignment)|
|20th||Shadow Sentinel 10|
|Craft (trapmaking) 23 ranks, craft (alchemy) 22 ranks, listen 22 ranks, spot 22 ranks|| ||Umbral blade +5|
Trapsmith Spells per day
Trapsmith Spells Known
1- Arcane Sight, Haste, Protection from Energy, Dispel Magic
2- Arcane Eye, Otiluke’s Resilient Sphere, Stone Shape
3- Wall of Stone, Fabricate
Jacques de Payens is no musty scholar. He trained with the Order of the Shooting Star, the great order of rangers allied with Mystra’s churches. He is accustomed to living deep underground, to penetrating the deepest and darkest dungeons and tombs in the Realms.
SCOUTING AND DUNGEON DELVING
Temple, prison or crypt - none is safe from Jacques de Payens, should the Mother of Magic send him there. Jacques has a great affinity with the earth, which he uses to his advantage. He gathers information well, able to speak to the animals and plants surrounding a dungeon via his Spiritual Connection class ability. He can even speak to the earth itself, using Earth Dream. He can also communicate via Sending to other members of his order, through Weavespeak.
He has excellent perception skills, coupled with tremorsense and even the ability to see through solid rock. His search skill is high enough to find any mundane trap, and he has Arcane Sight to spot magical ones. He also has Arcane Eyes which he can send forward to help him scout.
Thanks to his Phase Cloak, he can slip into the ethereal as he moves, allowing him to bypass most traps without even setting them off, pass through walls and ceilings, and more. He is skilled at disabling traps, and what he can’t disable through normal means, he can destroy via Stone Shape, Dispel Magic, or by the expedient means of smashing through with an iuak or adamantine weapon (see The Master’s Touch
). He also has access to powerful alchemy that can rust metal or burn through stone (see The Power of Alchemy
Jacques de Payens strives to keep his enemies guessing, and is a versatile combattant. He prefers hit and run tactics, scouting out enemies first, watching them through a wall via Earth Sight/tremorsense or Arcane Eyes, then making opportunistic attacks before disappearing through a wall or ceiling via Phase Cloak.
When he has time to prepare, he is a peerless trapmaker. The Fabricate spell especially helps with this, allowing him to create complex traps in minutes. The sheer breadth and diversity of traps is too great to go into here, but just looking at the DMG gives an excellent idea of what he can do. For instance, using Wall of Stone and Fabricate, he can create a powerful resetting crushing wall trap that can deal 18d6 points of damage. He also knows how to make simple and low-cost booby traps in seconds - trip wires, traps that drop stones or tanglefoot bags from the ceiling, alarms, etc.
He likes to use the environment to his advantage, using his ethereal movement and superior senses to attack where opponents cannot strike back. The Shadowstrike ability lets him attack even around corners, meaning that he can attack from behind an obstacle as a touch attack, while his opponent will face cover penalties if they try to return their attack.
If the environment does not favor him, he changes it. Wall of Stone is an especially potent spell for him. He can see through the wall of stone with his Earth Sight ability, and use it to trap enemies, then phase through via Phase Cloak to attack, and retreat via Travel Devotion.
To prevent opponents retreating, he uses spells, trip wires, combat maneuvers, and more. He has a wide range of debuffs available to him via alchemy:
The Power of Alchemy
A skilled alchemist, Jacques can create large quantities of alchemical substances in short periods of time by use of the Fabricate spell.
Jacques finds innumerable uses for these items. Tanglefoot bags and thunderstones are simple ranged weapons that Jacques likes to use as debuffs when fighting. But this just barely scratches the surface of what he can do, which includes...
- Smokesticks, noxious smokesticks and stinkpots create areas of choking and nauseating fog, to block line of sight and debuff enemies. Jacques takes advantage of his ethereal movement to avoid these hazards he creates.
- In addition to sundering items, Jacques can use rust cubes to covertly destroy weapons and armor of his enemies.
- Freeze powder can be combined with ordinary water to create icy patches that cause enemies to fall and force Balance checks.
- Alchemist’s mineral acid and rust cubes eat through stone/earth and metal respectively, allowing Jacques to destroy key elements of traps, locks and more.
- When Jacques has time to prepare against an enemy, a favorite tactic is to completely fill an area with drop traps, dropping tanglefoot bags, blister oil and alchemical sleep gas on anyone who walks through. He also covers the floor with crackle powder to prevent anyone from sneaking through.
- Carrying with him a wide variety of antitoxins, antivenoms, bottled air, nerv, endurance elixir and more means that he has an effective response to the negative attacks of most enemies.
- If he has the accompaniment of a cleric or paladin to work with him, he can create positoxins, which have powerful effects against undead foes.
Of course, just because he is an opportunistic attacker does not mean he is weak. With +17 BAB, spells such as Haste, and his excellent umbral blade, he is a very dangerous opponent. This is especially true when combined with Master’s Touch:
The Master’s Touch
As a Shadow Sentinel, Jacques has amazing flexibility with his umbral blade. His typical blade form is a guisarme, the classic weapon of his homelands, which gives him reach and the ability to trip. He wears armor spikes as well, allowing him to attack adjacent enemies and even two-weapon fight using them.
That said, his umbral blade is no ordinary guisarme. At an instant, he can transform it into any other slashing weapon. In order to stay proficient, Jacques uses the spell Master’s Touch. This is a swift action to cast, will last throughout any given combat, and specifically provides profiency with whatever weapon Jacques is holding:
Originally Posted by ”Spell Compendium on Master’s Touch”
You gain proficiency with a single weapon or shield you hold in your hand when the spell is cast... This spell does not grant proficiency for a kind or category of item (such as short swords) but only for the one specific item held in your hand at the time the spell is cast...
Since Master’s Touch does not grant proficiency with any particular type of weapon, but rather with the specific weapon he is holding, he is able to maintain proficiency with his umbral blade in whatever form, and even switch it between forms from round to round. Here are some examples of what he can do:
- Wield a heavy valenar double-scimitar, combined with Shadowsharp, Haste and two-weapon fighting, to make seven attacks per round with a 15-20 critical. Can be even more deadly if Morphic Blade is used to change the weapon material to kaorti resin.
- Utilize a whip-dagger, kusarigama or stingray whip to disarm and trip from a distance, and still leave a hand free.
- Use a lynxpaw with TWF to make up to seven trip or disarm attempts in a round, then escape through a wall via Travel Devotion.
- Use an iuak, or an adamantine weapon, to sunder key items such as bowstrings, spell component pouches and holy symbols.
- Drain an enemy’s strength via Shadowdrain, then grapple them with a sharktooth staff. If necessary, use Shadowstrike to ensure that the attack hits.
No Man Travels Alone
EARLY LEVELS (1-7)
In the early levels, Jacques focuses on his skills and scouting. He is a reasonable combatant, but this is where he shines. He primarily fights with a guisarme and armor spikes, focusing on a single enemy at a time, until his training as a Shadow Sentinel kicks in. By this point, he has access to Master's Touch, the morphic blade ability, and by level 7, enough shadow points to switch his weapon as circumstances permit.
MID LEVELS (8-14)
These middle levels are where the bulk of Jacques' abilities come online. Trapsmith gives him the ability to create booby traps and also grants him access to an excellent spell list. This augments him both in and out of combat, letting him supplement his searching with Arcane Sight and Arcane Eyes, and focus on his other perception skills. The ability to Fabricate large quantities of alchemical substances and traps grants him a great number of options in combat. Earth Dreamer gives him a wealth of perception-based abilities, letting him communicate with earth creatures, divine answers from mountains, gain tremorsense and even see through earth. He combines these heightened senses with the ability to turn ethereal from his Phase Cloak. His utility is improved by the Shadow Sentinel's ability to change the material composition of his weapons, and the shadowsharp ability adds some necessary offense to his arsenal. Most importantly, his pool of shadow points increases to the point where he can freely use the Shadow Sentinel's abilities.
HIGH LEVELS (15-20)
High levels for Jacques become more and more about planning and preparation. His mobility increases considerably thanks to Travel Devotion, and his ever-growing pool of shadow points and umbral blade abilities helps keep his offense online. At these levels, his Craft (trapmaking) checks are enough that, combined with Fabricate, he can create any mechanical trap in the Realms.
BUILD SNAPSHOT: Level 15
Ranger 5/Trapsmith 1/Earth Dreamer 4/Shadow Sentinel 5
- Full Trapsmith casting, including Fabricate, Wall of Stone and Arcane Sight.
- Tremorsense and Earth Sight (ability to see through earth and stone at will)
- Ability to turn Ethereal whenever he moves, and swift action movement via Travel Devotion
- Morphic blade (type and material), combined with Master's Touch to great effect
- Shadowsharp ability for offense
- Ability to use shadowstrike to attack through cover at no penalty, while his enemies cannot
- Can create booby traps at will, or more complex traps via Fabricate, as well as alchemical items
Interpretations, Adaptations & Sources
Thanks to Fabricate, Jacques de Payens can ensure that he always has the alchemical items he needs when he is in the middle of a tomb. And his weapon needs are taken care of thanks to umbral blade (although he does like to have armor spikes, in case he needs to strike an adjacent enemy when wielding a reach weapon).
Beyond that, he should be equipped as you would equip any dungeon delver. Items that boost Strength, Intelligence or Constitution are helpful, and items that boost his skills are always sought out. In particular, he values Pearls of Power, which are especially useful to him because of Trapsmith's unique spell list. He also seeks out the lightest, least restricting armor possible, such as thistledown padded armor. Also, alchemical capsules and weapon chambers are useful not only for Jacques, but for any other member of Jacques' party.
Jacques de Payens works well both alone and in a party. He serves as a scout and a secondary combatant, focusing more on battlefield control and debuffs than raw damage. Several of his spells also help the party as a whole, especially Haste.
Alone, he is more cautious, and prefers to retreat when faced with an immediate threat, study his enemy, and attack when they have a disadvantage.
There is constantly debate on how Sword of the Arcane Order works, as it allows you to prepare spells from a spellbook but does not actually grant you a spellbook. As a scholar and a member of a Church of Mystra, obtaining a spellbook should not be a problem for Jacques, but run it by your DM. If this is a concern, the Magical Training feat easily covers it. If this is necessary, drop the second Travel Devotion from the build.
This build only scratched the surface of what can be done via alchemy and traps. If 3.0 sources are allowed, then Arms & Equipment Guide has many potent alchemical items that produce stronger effects than what was listed here.
Also, if you are playing in a higher-op game, Jacques de Payens can just as easily create self-resetting traps of Haste, Protection from Energy, etc. This can easily turn a campaign on its head, and should only be used if your DM knows EXACTLY what he or she is facing.
If you are playing in a game without Magic of Incarnum, the fifth level of Earth Dreamer could instead be taken for the Earth Glide ability. This is less effective than turning ethereal via Phase Cloak, but could work as a suitable alternative.
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Who made my awesome Dwarf Hexblade avatar, you ask? BRC