Left upon my chamber door. . . .
Quote Originally Posted by The Raven
His true name is Maxwell Allard, but to the forces of evil, he is better known as the Raven...

The night will fall, the stars will sing,
Yet evil men, for all they plot,
Fear the shadow ‘neath the raven’s wing.

A man so bold may evil bring -
Foolish man, death is your lot.
The night will fall, the stars will sing.

And once the chime of darkness rings,
The raven’s net will bind and knot.
Fear the shadow ‘neath the raven’s wing.

Those shadows shift, they lurch, they spring,
Your strength will sap, your life will rot.
The night will fall, the stars will sing.

And so the raven’s wrath will sting,
And all the villain’s plans are naught.
Fear the shadow ‘neath the raven’s wing.

Give up misdeeds or your bell shall ring,
And death shall be all that you wrought.
The night will fall, the stars will sing.
Fear the shadow ‘neath the raven’s wing.

Damask strained against his net’s bonds. The little man did not look strong, but try as he might, Damask could not pull away from him. Still, he was backed up against a wall. Net or no net, Damask would crush his skull. He tightened the grip on his club and prepared to step forward and swing.

Suddenly, the man stepped backwards - into the wall! His body melted into the stone behind him, yet he still held fast onto the rope. Damask let out a roar of frustration, and went back to straining against his lead.

The shadows shifted. A dark hand reached up from Damask’s own shadow and grabbed his foot. A cold shiver ran down his spine, and Damask found the strength he needed to break from his bonds ebbing.

A raspy voice whispered. “Fear the shadow ‘neath the raven’s wing...”

The Build, or The Raven’s First Flight
Spoiler
Show

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil!’

-Edgar Allen Poe, The Raven

Maxwell Allard is The Raven

BUILD: NG Human, Factotum 5 / Chameleon 5 / Shadowdancer 10

Stats (32 point buy): Str 12 / Dex 14 / Con 12 / Int 16 / Wis 14 / Cha 10

Level 4: +1 Wis
Level 8: +1 Wis
Level 12: +1 Int
Level 16: +1 Int
Level 20: +1 Int

{table=head]Level|Class|Base Attack<br>Bonus|Fort Save|Ref Save|Will Save|Skills|Feats|Class Features

1st|Factotum 1|
+0
|
+0
|
+2
|
+0
|Hide 4 ranks, Move Silently 4 ranks, Use Magic Device 4 ranks, Spot 4 ranks, Listen 4 ranks, Bluff 4 ranks, Disguise 4 ranks, Craft (alchemy) 4 ranks, Search 1 rank, Disable Device 1 rank, Sense Motive 1 rank, Spellcraft 1 rank, Know (arcana) 1 rank, Tumble 1 rank, Open Lock 1, Autohypnosis 1 rank|Able Learner, Dodge|Inspiration, cunning insight, cunning knowledge, trapfinding

2nd|Factotum 2|
+1
|
+0
|
+3
|
+0
|Hide 5 ranks, Move Silently 5 ranks, Use Magic Device 5 ranks, Spot 5 ranks, Listen 5 ranks, Bluff 5 ranks, Disguise 5 ranks, Craft (alchemy) 5 ranks, Perform (dance) 1 rank, Sleight of Hand 1 rank||Arcane dilettante (1 spell)

3rd|Factotum 3|
+2
|
+1
|
+3
|
+1
|Hide 6 ranks, Move Silently 6 ranks, Use Magic Device 6 ranks, Spot 6 ranks, Listen 6 ranks, Bluff 6 ranks, Disguise 6 ranks, Craft (alchemy) 6 ranks, Sense Motive 2 ranks, Spellcraft 2 ranks|Combat Reflexes|Brains over brawn, cunning defense

4th|Factotum 4|
+3
|
+1
|
+4
|
+1
|Hide 7 ranks, Move Silently 7 ranks, Use Magic Device 7 ranks, Spot 7 ranks, Listen 7 ranks, Bluff 7 ranks, Disguise 7 ranks, Craft (alchemy) 7 ranks, Sense Motive 3 ranks, Spellcraft 3 ranks||Arcane dilettante (2 spells), cunning strike

5th|Factotum 5|
+3
|
+1
|
+4
|
+1
|Hide 8 ranks, Move Silently 8 ranks, Use Magic Device 8 ranks, Spot 8 ranks, Listen 8 ranks, Bluff 8 ranks, Disguise 8 ranks, Craft (alchemy) 8 ranks, Sense Motive 4 ranks, Spellcraft 4 ranks||Oppurtunistic piety

6th|Chameleon 1|
+3
|
+1
|
+4
|
+1
|Hide 9 ranks, Move Silently 9 ranks, Use Magic Device 9 ranks, Spot 9 ranks, Listen 9 ranks, Craft (alchemy) 9 ranks, Perform (dance) 2 ranks, Know (dungeoneering) 1 rank|Mobility|Aptitude focus 1/day (+2)

7th|Chameleon 2|
+4
|
+1
|
+4
|
+1
|Hide 10 ranks, Move Silently 10 ranks, Use Magic Device 10 ranks, Spot 10 ranks, Listen 10 ranks, Craft (alchemy) 10 ranks, Perform (dance) 3 ranks, Handle Animal 1 rank||Bonus feat

8th|Chameleon 3|
+5
|
+2
|
+5
|
+2
|Hide 11 ranks, Move Silently 11 ranks, Use Magic Device 11 ranks, Spot 11 ranks, Listen 11 ranks, Craft (alchemy) 11 ranks, Perform (dance) 5 ranks||Mimic class feature 1/day

9th|Shadowdancer 1|
+5
|
+2
|
+7
|
+2
|Hide 12 ranks, Move Silently 12 ranks, Use Magic Device 12 ranks, Spot 12 ranks, Listen 12 ranks, Craft (alchemy) 12 ranks, Know (architecture & engineering) 1 rank, Know (planes) 1 rank, Know (local) 1 rank, Sense Motive 5 ranks|Obtain Familiar (raven)|Hide in plain sight

10th|Shadowdancer 2|
+6/+1
|
+2
|
+8
|
+2
|Hide 13 ranks, Move Silently 13 ranks, Use Magic Device 13 ranks, Spot 13 ranks, Listen 13 ranks, Craft (alchemy) 13 ranks, Tumble 5 ranks||Evasion, darkvision, uncanny dodge

11th|Shadowdancer 3|
+7/+2
|
+3
|
+8
|
+3
|Hide 14 ranks, Move Silently 14 ranks, Use Magic Device 14 ranks, Spot 14 ranks, Listen 14 ranks, Balance 5 ranks||Shadow illusion, summon shadow

12th|Shadowdancer 4|
+8/+3
|
+3
|
+9
|
+3
|Hide 15 ranks, Move Silently 15 ranks, Use Magic Device 15 ranks, Spot 15 ranks, Listen 15 ranks, Concentration 5 ranks|Darkstalker|Shadow jump 20 ft

13th|Shadowdancer 5|
+8/+3
|
+3
|
+9
|
+3
|Hide 16 ranks, Move Silently 16 ranks, Use Magic Device 16 ranks, Spot 16 ranks, Listen 16 ranks, Know (religion) 5 ranks||Defensive roll, improved uncanny dodge

14th|Shadowdancer 6|
+9/+4
|
+4
|
+10
|
+4
|Hide 17 ranks, Move Silently 17 ranks, Use Magic Device 17 ranks, Spot 17 ranks, Listen 17 ranks, Know (arcana) 5 ranks, Know (nature) 1 rank||Shadow jump 40 ft, improved shadow

15th|Shadowdancer 7|
+10/+5
|
+4
|
+10
|
+4
|Hide 18 ranks, Move Silently 18 ranks, Use Magic Device 18 ranks, Spot 18 ranks, Listen 18 ranks, Survival 5 ranks|Elusive Target|Slippery mind

16th|Shadowdancer 8|
+11/+6/+1
|
+4
|
+11
|
+4
|Hide 19 ranks, Move Silently 19 ranks, Use Magic Device 19 ranks, Spot 19 ranks, Listen 19 ranks, Jump 5 ranks||Shadow jump 80 ft

17th|Shadowdancer 9|
+11/+6/+1
|
+5
|
+11
|
+5
|Hide 20 ranks, Move Silently 20 ranks, Use Magic Device 20 ranks, Spot 20 ranks, Listen 20 ranks, Tumble 8 ranks, Use Rope 1 rank, Concentration 6 ranks||Improved shadow

18th|Chameleon 4|
+12/+7/+2
|
+5
|
+11
|
+5
|Hide 21 ranks, Move Silently 21 ranks, Use Magic Device 21 ranks, Spot 21 ranks, Listen 21 ranks, Know (geography) 1 rank, Know (nature) 1 rank, Know (history) 1 rank|Sidestep|Ability boon +2

19th|Chameleon 5|
+12/+7/+2
|
+5
|
+11
|
+5
|Hide 22 ranks, Move Silently 22 ranks, Use Magic Device 22 ranks, Spot 22 ranks, Listen 22 ranks, Decipher Script 1 ranks, Know (psionics) 1 rank, Use Psionic Device 1 rank||Aptitude focus 2/day (+4)

20th|Shadowdancer 10|
+13/+8/+3
|
+5
|
+12
|
+5
|Hide 23 ranks, Move Silently 23 ranks, Use Magic Device 23 ranks, Spot 23 ranks, Listen 23 ranks, Psicraft 5 ranks||Shadow jump 160 ft, improved evasion[/table]




Spells per day - Chameleon
{table=head]Level|0lvl|1st|2nd|3rd|4th|5th|6th|7th|8th|9th

1st|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

2nd|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

3rd|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

4th|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

5th|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

6th|4|2|0|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

7th|4|3|1|-|-|-|-|-|-|-

8th|4|3|2|0|-|-|-|-|-|-

9th|4|3|2|0|-|-|-|-|-|-

10th|4|3|2|0|-|-|-|-|-|-

11th|4|3|2|0|-|-|-|-|-|-

12th|4|3|2|0|-|-|-|-|-|-

13th|4|3|2|0|-|-|-|-|-|-

14th|4|3|2|0|-|-|-|-|-|-

15th|4|3|2|0|-|-|-|-|-|-

16th|4|3|2|0|-|-|-|-|-|-

17th|4|3|2|0|-|-|-|-|-|-

18th|4|4|3|1|-|-|-|-|-|-

19th|4|4|3|2|0|-|-|-|-|-

20th|4|4|3|2|0|-|-|-|-|-[/table]


Fear the Shadow ‘neath the Raven’s Wing: Explanations, Tips and Tricks
Spoiler
Show

Maxwell Allard is no stranger to terror.

When he was a boy, long before he became the Raven, Maxwell was afraid of the dark. He was afraid of what surprises the shadows may hold. But unlike most boys, Maxwell faced his fears. Maxwell sought out the shadows that scared him so. And when he discovered that most shadows really were just that - shadows, and nothing more, Maxwell decided to make that lurking horror real, and become a source of terror for those that would seek to besmirch the night.

Maxwell is skillful above all else. He strives to be stealthier and more aware than any of the enemies he is tracking down. While he is reasonably nimble, his cunning is truly what sets him apart, and the Factotum’s Brains over Brawn ability ensures that he can use his cunning to augment his stealthiness.

Skills-wise, he focuses heavily on stealth, awareness, and the ability to use magic (specifically alchemy and UMD). However, he has at least a cursory knowledge in every topic he can get his hands on, and he can spend an inspiration point to give these skills a hearty boost.

As the Raven, Maxwell is a survivor. He avoids direct combat whenever possible, preferring to disappear into the shadows and pick people off one by one. He focuses heavily on defenses, using the evasive abilities of the Shadowdancer alongside the safety net of Cunning Insight to help protect him from many spells. At higher levels, his biggest concern is being one-shotted by opponents before he can escape, so he takes on feats such as Elusive Target, which allow him to mitigate charging Power Attack enemies.

Maxwell’s favorite way to deal with enemies involves the humble net, from the player’s handbook. He generally uses stealth to scout his opponents and their capabilities. He then relies on either Meld Into Stone (cast as a Chameleon), or if they have no way to deal with flying enemies, Alter Self (generally via Arcane Dilettante) to turn into a Raptoran. He tosses a net from the shadows, and then either flies straight up or uses Meld Into Stone to meld into the wall, still controlling the enemy. It is a strength check to control his enemies, and Brains over Brawn allows him to add his formidable intelligence to these opposed checks. Meanwhile, his incorporeal shadow companion glides through the ground underneath his enemy and drains his strength as he is trapped in place, each successful drain making it harder and harder to escape.

Though he lacks proficiency with the net, Maxwell uses his floating Chameleon feat to pick up that proficiency any day he expects combat. However, even if he is caught unaware, non-proficiency merely gives him a -4 to his attack roll. Since he is making a touch attack against opponents that are generally flat-footed, this is a very easy roll to make.

On his off time, Maxwell is a skilled crafter. He is fascinated by alchemy, and can create a myriad of useful alchemical devices, especially tanglefoot bags and smokesticks. Also, thanks to Arcane Dilettante, Maxwell can use his floating Chameleon feat on off days to scribe scrolls, craft wands, and more. With the incredibly flexible casting he gets from Chameleon, this gives him plenty of ways to augment his abilities, give him extra castings of key spells, and more. Also, his raven familiar can use these items to apply buff spells to Maxwell and his shadow companion in combat.


The Secret Ingredient, or the Shadow ‘neath the Raven’s Wing
Spoiler
Show

Maxwell Allard trained in many ways. He trained to be smart, to be flexible, to have abilities that could answer the attacks of any enemy. But what truly brought it all together was when he began to learn to dance with the shadows. His skillfulness remained impressive, but he also picked up several new and powerful abilities.

Certainly his stealth improved right off the bat. Hide in Plain Sight may not be a unique ability to Shadowdancers alone, but the Shadowdancer’s supernatural version of it is almost unparalleled. The ability to disappear into any shadows within ten feet is key to Maxwell’s modus operandi, and is only made better by the ease with which Maxwell can create new shadows, via spells and alchemy. And as Maxwell clings to the shadows and relies on having better senses than his enemies, darkvision is also vital.

Then there is the wide array of abilities that allow Maxwell to live another day, to face groups of enemies alone and yet walk away. Evasion, Uncanny Dodge, Defensive Roll, Slippery Mind - these abilities are worth their weight in gold, and afford far more protection than a suit of plate armor ever would, especially alongside Cunning Insight and Cunning Defense.

Then there is the shadow manipulation. Though the shadow illusion is something that Maxwell could imitate with spells, his limited castings per day very much appreciate having that standby that does not cost an additional spell slot. And the shadow jump ability means that when he disappears into one shadow, no one knows where he may reappear.

Finally, the shadow companion. The companion is a key part of Maxwell’s arsenal, whose favorite tactic is restraining someone with a net, and while they are stuck in place, draining them of their strength to make keeping them restrained easier. Its fragility is mitigated by its tactics (it prefers to stay incorporeally within the floor underneath its enemy, where it cannot easily be attacked), but also by the buffing it receives via Maxwell’s raven familiar.


Snapshots, or the Day to Day Life of Maxwell Allard
Spoiler
Show

Level 5
Spoiler
Show

At level five, Maxwell Allard is a competent skill-monkey through his factotum levels. He has excellent stealth and perception skills for the level, especially his stealth skills, which benefit from Brains over Brawn. His alchemy crafting is easily good enough at this point to always have a few tanglefoot bags on hand, and so he attempts to restrain enemies and deal with them one by one. His two spells per day, usually Grease and Alter Self, afford him a fair bit of utility as well.


Level 10:
Spoiler
Show

By level 10, Maxwell has truly come into his own. His stealth abilities at this point are unparalleled. The chameleon levels have significantly expanded on his flexibilty, and his raven familiar will serve as both a scout and an invaluable companion who can assist Maxwell in casting during combat.


Level 15:
Spoiler
Show

By level 15, Maxwell’s shadow companion has begun picking up additional feats, which can be supplemanted via the Heroics spell. He manages to keep stealth relevant via Darkstalker. He also picks up Elusive Target, which helps neutralize power attacking enemies, and Slippery Mind, which gives him an extra saving throw (which he can easily improve via inspiration points). He continues with his net tricks, using Enlarge Person to net enemies up to Huge size. (Note that the opposed strength check does NOT receive size bonuses, meaning that netting larger enemies is still feasible, unlike tripping/grappling).


Level 20:
Spoiler
Show

Similar to level 15, except that Maxwell has picked up a few more defensive abilities, and has also increased his spellcasting power. Fourth level spells is a solid end-point, allowing access to the excellent spells found in Ranger 4 (the Aspect spells, as well as utility spells such as Commune With Nature, come to mind), or spells such as Divine Power to increase Maxwell’s melee aptitude.


Sweet Spot:
Spoiler
Show

Level 12, Factotum 5/Chameleon 3/Shadowdancer 4
FEATS: Able Learner, Dodge, Mobility, Combat Reflexes, Obtain Familiar, Darkstalker

This is the moment when Maxwell’s key abilities have come into perfect alignment. This is also the moment when his net restraint tactics are most effective. His skills are high enough to easily cast from wands, to disappear into the shadows, and to spot trouble from as far away as possible. Darkstalker allows him to remain unnoticed by ANYONE, short of mindsight/lifesight. His two companions, shadow and raven, are both huge assets.

At this level, Maxwell Allard proves that it is wise to fear the shadows.


This Dial Goes up to Eleven - Adaptations and How to Make the Most of Maxwell Allard
Spoiler
Show

Maxwell was designed for use in a standard game, and designed to be playable and effective from levels 1 through 20. However, without making major changes to his build, Maxwell can power up and continue to work well in more high-optimization groups.

First of all, if online resources are allowed, the Font of Inspiration can allow Maxwell to use his Factotum abilities far more frequently. Check with your DM, but depending on the campaign, this could prove to be a decent replacement for Elusive Target and Sidestep. Similarly, Devotion feats could be an alternative, as Maxwell can pick up turning attempts from his Factotum/Chameleon levels.

Second, do not neglect downtime and the Chameleon’s casting ability. The divine spells are especially potent, because unlike the archivist, the chameleon does not need to ever find a scroll of a rare ranger spell to cast it - he merely prays for it. Though it was referenced briefly in the tactics section, in a high-op campaign, the ability to create scrolls and wands of almost any spell in the game up to 4th level, is really quite impressive and can actually border on becoming abusive. And while some DMs may not allow it, if you take Scribe Scroll as a regular feat rather than a floating feat, you can use your floating feat to pick up Arcane Disciple, and then scribe those domain scrolls into your spell book, upping your flexibility considerably.

Third, in a truly high-op campaign, although it would deviate a bit from Maxwell’s flavor, an Uurkrau Illumian could be a dangerous replacement race, thanks to the potential of adding persistent or quickened spell buffs to the chameleon’s excellent and varied spells.


Sources, or The Feathers on the Raven’s Wings
Spoiler
Show

Classes
Factotum: Dungeonscape
Shadowdancer: SRD / DMG
Chameleon: Races of Destiny, also previewed online here

Feats
Dodge, Mobility, Combat Reflexes: SRD / Player’s Handbook
Able Learner: Races of Destiny
Darkstalker: Lords of Madness
Elusive Target: Complete Warrior
Obtain Familiar: Complete Arcane
Sidestep: Miniature’s Handbook

Skills
Autohypnosis, Use Psionic Device and Psicraft are all found in the Expanded Psionics Handbook, or on the SRD.