This episode 3 is so much more entertaining than. . . that other one.
Quote Originally Posted by Jael Filius



CHAPTER 3, continued
The Transformation of Jael

3:4 Jael grew old, and her sons grew old and died, and their sons grew old and died, and still Jael stood, guarding the Sacred Land even as it too grew old and began to die.
3:5 And she cried tears of sorrow, as she saw her lands fade away, but still she stood vigil.
3:6 And the tears of Jael shone with a brightness visible even to the House of the Triad, and upon the Mountain of Martyrdom, Ilmater saw her tears and was moved.
3:7 And he turned Jael into a great tree with deep roots, so that she may continue her vigil forever more.

CHAPTER 4
The Great Tree

4:1 For seven centuries, the great tree that was Jael stood, and watched as seven kingdoms rose and fell.
4:2 And the tree grew tall, so that by the seventh century, her branches brushed Celestia, and her roots grew deep, so that they nearly pierced the ventral planes.
4:3 The demons of those Infernal planes sought to climb Jael, so they could reach the home of their immortal enemies. They clawed and scrabbled their way up, and Jael shuddered, though her heart was naught but wood.
4:4 The gods of Celestia called upon the Celestial Hebdomad to cut down Jael, so that she could not be used for such a foul purpose.
4:5 And the Celestial Hebdomad did, but when the great tree lay there, they too were sad, sad to see such a proud and noble tree struck down, and sad to see Jael’s long vigil be put to an end.
4:6 Zaphkiel, the leader of the Hebdomad, said, “Let us each take up the bones of this great tree, and with them we will build tools that will protect Jael’s sacred lands for all time.”
4:7 And so Zaphkiel, the Watcher, whom none could look upon without perishing, picked up the seeds that had fallen from Jael’s boughs, and transformed them into a set of eyes, which he placed in the center of Jael’s lands, and which would watch over them for him.
4:8 Barachiel, the Messenger, carved a large branch into a great horn, which could be sound from Lunia should Jael’s lands ever be threatened.
4:9 Erathaol, the Seer, gathered the leaves from the tree and pressed them together to form a book, which would contain all the secrets Jael had seen and heard in her centuries-long vigil.
4:10 Sealtiel, the Defender, fashioned a great shield from her bark, which would defend against any attack on Jael’s lands.
4:11 Domiel, the Mercy-Bringer, took the great furrow in the land where Jael fell, and poured into it the water from his cup, whereupon it turned into a rushing river whose waters would enrich the land and all who walked upon it.
4:12 Raziel, the Crusader, dug deep into the ground and pulled out a great root, and forged it into a spear which would strike down Jael’s enemies.
4:13 Pistis Sophia, the Ascetic, took the heart of the wood, which had hardened like stone or steel, and from it she forged a man who could wander Jael’s ancient lands protecting them.
4:14 And Pistis Sophia breathed life into this man, and told him that he was forged from wood sacred to Ilmater the Broken One, and tasked to wander the land and keep it in his care.
4:15 And Pistis Sophia named this wandering guardian Jal Filius, son of Jael, and so Jal Filius began down the unhindered path.


The Man Made of Wood Shall Walk the Land (Build)
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Jal Filius, the Wooden Guardian, is an ageless living construct, a warforged made not of metal but of the living wood of Jael, hardened to become like steel.

He will wander these sacred lands for eternity, in honor of Jael's noble vigil.

Warforged, Fighter 2/Monk 3/Landforged Walker 5/Monk of the Enabled Hand 2/Initiate of Pistis Sophia 8

As a worshipper of Ilmater, the Broken God who immortalized Jael's struggle by transforming her into the great tree, Jal Filius is a member of the Broken One Monastic Order, and has taken the Broken One monk substitution level at level 3.

Ability Scores:
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(Includes racial adjustments)
Level 1: Str 10/Dex 8/Con 16/Int 14/Wis 14/Cha 13
Level 4: Str 10/Dex 8/Con 16/Int 14/Wis 15/Cha 13
Level 7: Str 10/Dex 8/Con 16/Int 14/Wis 17/Cha 13
Level 8: Str 10/Dex 8/Con 16/Int 14/Wis 18/Cha 13
Level 11: Str 10/Dex 8/Con 16/Int 14/Wis 20/Cha 15
Level 12: Str 10/Dex 8/Con 16/Int 14/Wis 20/Cha 16
Level 15: Str 10/Dex 8/Con 18/Int 14/Wis 22/Cha 18
Level 16: Str 10/Dex 8/Con 19/Int 14/Wis 22/Cha 18
Level 19: Str 10/Dex 10/Con 21/Int 14/Wis 24/Cha 20
Level 20: Str 10/Dex 10/Con 22/Int 14/Wis 24/Cha 20


Build:
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JAL FILIUS
{table=head]Level|Class|Base Attack Bonus|Fort Save|Ref Save|Will Save|Skills|Feats|Class Features|VoP Bonus

1st|Fighter 1|
+1
|
+2
|
+0
|
+0
|Handle animal 4 ranks, jump 4 ranks, knowledge (nature) 2 ranks, survival 2 ranks|Intuitive Attack, Ironwood Body||

2nd|Fighter 2|
+2
|
+3
|
+0
|
+0
|Handle animal 5 ranks, jump 5 ranks, knowledge (geography) 1 rank|Combat Expertise||

3rd|Monk 1|
+2
|
+5
|
+2
|
+2
|Concentration 2 ranks, knowledge (religion) 2 ranks, knowledge (geography) 1.5 ranks, diplomacy 1 rank|Sacred Vow, Improved Unarmed Strike, Stunning Fist|Flurry of blows, unarmed strike|

4th|Monk 2|
+3
|
+6
|
+3
|
+3
|Concentration 3 ranks, knowledge (religion) 3 ranks, knowledge (geography) 2 ranks, diplomacy 2 ranks, handle animal 6 ranks|Deflect Arrows|Evasion|

5th|Monk 3 (Broken One sub level)|
+4
|
+6
|
+3
|
+3
|Survival 8 ranks||Lay on hands|

6th|Landforged Walker 1|
+4
|
+8
|
+3
|
+3
|Concentration 4 ranks, knowledge (nature) 3 ranks, knowledge (geography) 3 ranks, spellcraft 1 rank, survival 9 ranks, handle animal 7 ranks|Vow of Poverty|Body of nature (Hide +4, divine focus)|AC bonus +6, endure elements, sustenance, exalted strike +1 (magic), deflection +1

7th|Landforged Walker 2|
+5
|
+9
|
+3
|
+3
|Concentration 5 ranks, knowledge (religion) 4 ranks, spellcraft 2 ranks, survival 10 ranks, handle animal 8 ranks||Body of nature (resistance 5, natural armor +1), green mind|Resistance +1, ability score enhancement +2

8th|Landforged Walker 3|
+6/+1
|
+9
|
+4
|
+4
|Concentration 6 ranks, knowledge (nature) 4 ranks, knowledge (geography) 4 ranks, knowledge (religion) 4.5 ranks, survival 11 ranks, handle animal 9 ranks|Touch of Golden Ice|Body of nature (healing herbs), speak with plants|Natural armor +1, mind shielding

9th|Landforged Walker 4|
+7/+2
|
+10
|
+4
|
+4
|Concentration 7 ranks, knowledge (nature) 5 ranks, knowledge (geography) ranks, knowledge (religion) 5 ranks, survival 12 ranks, handle animal 10 ranks|Improved Disarm|Body of nature (resistance 10, natural armor +2)|AC bonus +7

10th|Landforged Walker 5|
+7/+2
|
+10
|
+4
|
+4
|Concentration 8 ranks, knowledge (nature) 6 ranks, knowledge (geography) 6 ranks, knowledge (religion) 5.5 ranks, survival 13 ranks, handle animal 11 ranks|Servant of the Heavens|Body of nature (immune to polymorph, fortification 50%), plant shape, voice of nature|Exalted strike +2 (good), DR 5/magic

11th|Monk of the Enabled Hand 1|
+7/+2
|
+12
|
+6
|
+6
|Concentration 9 ranks, knowledge (religion) 6 ranks, diplomacy 6 ranks||Monk abilities, shim soo “mind over hand”|Ability score +4/+2

12th|Monk of the Enabled Hand 2|
+8/+3
|
+13
|
+7
|
+7
|Diplomacy 12 ranks|Sanctify Ki Strike, Mage Slayer|Ki strike (lawful)|AC bonus +8, deflection +2, greater sustenance

13th|Initiate of Pistis Sophia 1|
+8/+3
|
+15
|
+9
|
+9
|Knowledge (religion) 8 ranks, diplomacy 16 ranks|Fist of the Heavens|Monk abilities|Resistance +2, energy resistance 5

14th|Initiate of Pistis Sophia 2|
+9/+4
|
+16
|
+10
|
+10
|Knowledge (religion) 9 ranks, knowledge (nature) 7 ranks, knowledge (geography) 7 ranks, diplomacy 17 ranks|Exalted Wild Shape|Detect evil, smite evil 1/day|Exalted strike +3, freedom of movement

15th|Initiate of Pistis Sophia 3|
+10/+5
|
+16
|
+10
|
+10
|Knowledge (religion) 10 ranks, knowledge (nature) 8 ranks, knowledge (geography) 8 ranks, diplomacy 18 ranks|Pierce Magical Protection|Uncanny dodge|AC bonus +9, ability score +6/+4/+2, DR 5/evil

16th|Initiate of Pistis Sophia 4|
+11/+6/+1
|
+17
|
+11
|
+11
|Knowledge (religion) 11 ranks, knowledge (nature) 9 ranks, knowledge (geography) 9 ranks, diplomacy 19 ranks|Vow of Obedience, Holy Ki Strike|Electricity resistance 5|Natural armor +2

17th|Initiate of Pistis Sophia 5|
+11/+6/+1
|
+17
|
+11
|
+11
|Knowledge (religion) 12 ranks, knowledge (nature) 10 ranks, knowledge (geography) 10 ranks, diplomacy 20 ranks||Smite evil 2/day|Exalted strike +4, resistance +3, regeneration

18th|Initiate of Pistis Sophia 6|
+12/+7/+2
|
+18
|
+12
|
+12
|Knowledge (religion) 13 ranks, knowledge (nature) 11 ranks, knowledge (geography) 11 ranks, diplomacy 21 ranks|Superior Unarmed Strike, Gift of Discernment|Improved Uncanny Dodge|AC bonus +10, deflection +3, true seeing

19th|Initiate of Pistis Sophia 7|
+13/+8/+3
|
+18
|
+12
|
+12
|Knowledge (religion) 14 ranks, knowledge (nature) 12 ranks, knowledge (geography) 12 ranks, diplomacy 22 ranks|Vow of Chastity|Electricity resistance 10|Ability score +8/+6/+4/+2, DR 10/evil

20th|Initiate of Pistis Sophia 8|
+14/+9/+4
|
+19
|
+13
|
+13
|Knowledge (religion) 15 ranks, knowledge (nature) 13 ranks, knowledge (geography) 13 ranks, diplomacy 23 ranks|Words of Creation|Improved Evasion|Exalted strike +5, energy resistance 15[/table]



The Great Tree That Watches Over Us (Build Notes)
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He appears suddenly, and you realize he was there all along, his form hidden among the vines and shadows. As he steps forward, you see he is not, as you first thought, a human. He moves with a mechanical steadiness, though he appears to have been forged not of metal, but of rough-hewn wood. Vines and leaves grow off of him, almost obscuring his mechanical body.

“You are injured,” he says, and pinches a few berries and a sprig of herbs from his body. He is old, old as the trees, but his wooden face shows - compassion? It is hard to say. He crushes the herbs together and hands them to you. “Eat these,” he says, with a voice like creaking boughs.

You tell him what has happened, tell him of the cruel, spider-like ettercaps that attacked your campground. He shakes his head, more sad than angry, and asks you where they came from. And with that he strides off, gone as quick as he arrived, and as he strides through the trees he grows and sprouts, until you can no longer distinguish him from the trees themselves...

Jal Filius was tasked to wander the sacred lands and defend them from intrusion three times: first by Pistis Sophia, the archon who forged him from living wood; second by Jael, his Mother, whose heart was used in his construction; and lastly by Ilmater, the One Who Endures, patron of the oppressed and martyred.

If Jael is his mother, than perhaps Pistis Sophia is Jal Filius' godmother, and it is his desire to follow in the likeness of Pistis Sophia that encouraged Jal Filius to become an ascetic, although she originally forged him as a warrior and a fighter. Still, looking to Pistis Sophia's example, and thinking of the compassion of Ilmater, Jal Filius give up worldly possessions and walked down the unhindered path as a monk.

Jal Filius is first and foremost a defender and a healer, and as a follower of Ilmater he seeks to lessen the pain of others, and endure it on their behalf. He has sacrificed the ability to repair his own wounds so that he may heal others, and the herbs and berries that grow from him can become a potent healing draught as well.

His kindness and wisdom do not go amiss when dealing with others, and his connection with the natural world allows him to speak with the trees and the land.

But this is not to say that Jal Filius is not a warrior. Pistis Sophia created him to fight, and to defend the lands of Jael. Though his wooden frame is small, he is powerful and sturdy, and incredibly resilient. He has the wisdom to always strike unerringly, and the skill to disarm opponents, pierce through their magical protections, stun and disable them, and more. Most dangerous of all, Jal Filius can transform himself to become like a tree himself. He turns himself into a powerful treant, tall and mighty, and it is in this form that he normally remains. The strength and power of a treant, combined with the abilities of a powerful monk and his supernatural resilience, make Jal Filius a terrifying sentinel of his lands.

Level by level breakdown:
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At level 5, Jal Filius is reasonably powerful, but his true strength lies in his defenses. His natural damage reduction and high armor class keeps him safe. He is not a great damage dealer at this point, but he can help disable opponents via stunning fist, and provide some limited healing.

By level 10, though, Jal Filius is far more of a threat. By this point, he has sworn away all worldly items, instead relying on the land and his own body. His defenses improve considerably, he gains more healing and new utility with his ability to speak with plants or commune with the land, and he adds some more combat tricks to his repertoire. His most powerful ability, though, is his plant shape. He can transform into huge plants as a druid (in fact, he can do this even better than a druid, who would be restricted to large creatures), allowing him to spend his time as a great treant.

Level 15, Jal Filius' "sweet spot", shows him using these abilities to the fullest. His plant shape ability is both utility and power in one, and shows great synergy with his monk and Initiate levels. His defenses grow even greater, his offense becomes much more powerful as his unarmed strike improves, and he gains more ways of dealing with difficult enemies. His final levels, up through level 20, show this continuing to improve in much the same way.

All in all, Jal Filius is an effective character from the beginning, gaining abilities at every level and growing consistently better throughout his career.


Plant Shape Information and Concerns
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Much of Jal Filius' build relies on the natural synergy between monk abilities and the landforged walker's plant shape.

Jal Filius prefers the form of a treant, which allows him to remain in a form similar to his own, retain speech, and more. It is a powerful form, certainly, but not his only option.

If his goal is to become more of a grappler, the tendriculos and red sundew (MMII) both provide excellent options, giving him improved grab and swallow whole. A myconid sovereign gives him a range of (Ex) spore attacks with interesting effects (and also grant him some ranged attacks). If he needs to remain stealthy and cannot take advantage of the treant's +16 bonus to hide among trees, he can turn into something less conspicuous, such as an assassin vine.

The plant shape ability also is listed as being otherwise identical to the druid wild shape class feature. If your DM rules that this lets you take Exalted Wild Shape, do so - this gives you several new forms that can grant flight, teleportation, and more. This build includes it, but if your DM rules against it, replace the feat with Nymph's Kiss.


Why Initiate of Pistis Sophia?
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In attempting to come up with an effective build for the Initiate of Pistis Sophia, I came across several stumbling blocks. The flavor was perfect for Jal Filius, but there were several problems with the class as a whole.

The first, and biggest, was how incredibly MAD this class makes you. A monk always has issues with needing multiple ability scores, and the IoPS is even worse. The Charisma requirements of Sanctify Ki Strike are in many ways even more arduous than the ki strike (lawful) pre-req. The build also discourages dumping Wisdom, because you need stunning fist to take advantage of all of its features.

Plant Shape allows Jal Filius to eliminate the MADness. He can focus on Wisdom, to improve his monk abilities, and Charisma, which improves his healing and diplomacy.

IoPS also practically forces Vow of Poverty on you, but that feat is a notorious trap. All of its bonuses could be reproduced with magic items, and then some. However, Jal Filius circumvents this, first as a warforged (granting him some inherent armor bonuses), and second with his Plant Shape abilities. Between deflection bonuses, natural armor (which is explicitly improved by both VoP and landforged walker), and exalted bonuses, his AC will remain competitive throughout his career, and he does not have the disadvantage of needing to switch items every time he changes form.

In generally, IoPS is Monk+. It offers no unique abilities, but it improves everything Jal Filius cares about. He gains new and powerful defenses, he improves his stunning, flurry of blows, speed, AC and damage, he gains new smite attacks and detection abilities. He gets everything a crazy ascetic kung fu tree could want.



The Sacred Lands (Sources and Settings)
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"The trees are my sisters, those sacred guardians that sprouted from Jael's fallen seeds, and I am their servant, their voice, their hands. I am the voice of the stones, the ruined walls that once formed a proud kingdom. I am the voice of the land, of the water, of the sky.

"You dare to intrude upon these lands, upon my sisters the trees and brothers the stones? You dare to sully this sacred river with your impure ways? Then you will learn, I am not merely their voice, but also their fist. Leave this place, now, while you still have legs to walk upon."

A note about settings:
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As a worshiper of Ilmater, the flavor behind this build places Jal Filius squarely within the Forgotten Realms. I intentionally left the "Sacred Lands" vague, so that they could be fit into nearly any campaign. In general, any old fallen kingdom in a forest-heavy area could be substituted.

Warforged are traditionally thought of as being Eberron-specific, and both Ironwood Body and Landforged Walker are found in books that reference Eberron. However, the warforged are also located in Monster Manual III, and neither Ironwood Body nor Landforged Walker have anything Eberron-specific about them, even in the flavor text.

That being said, if your DM does not approve of Faerun gods, or you are playing a campaign solely in Eberron, simply change all references to Ilmater to another god, preferably one focused on compassion and mercy. The Celestial Hebdomad, which includes Pistis Sophia, also has some connections with Faerun, but these archons could just as easily serve any good god, rather than the House of the Triad. The only truly setting-specific element in the whole build is the Broken One monk substitution level, and this can easily be swapped out for a level in ranger or totemist while keeping the build much the same.


Sources:
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Warforged are detailed in Monster Manual III, Eberron Campaign Setting, and Races of Eberron.

The Broken One monastic order and associated substition level is found in Champions of Valor. Gift of Discernment is found in PGF.

Book of Exalted Deeds is home to Intuitive Attack, Sacred Vow, Vow of Poverty, Touch of Golden Ice, Servant of the Heavens, Sanctify Ki Strike, Fist of the Heavens, Exalted Wild Shape, Vow of Obedience, Holy Ki Strike, Vow of Chastity and Words of Creation, as well as the Initiate of Pistis Sophia prestige class.

Monk of the Enabled Hand is found in the Dragon Magazine Compendium.

Superior Unarmed Strike is a feat from Tome of Battle. Mage Slayer and Pierce Magical Protection are both in Complete Arcane.

Ironwood Body is found in Races of Eberron, and Landforged Walker is from Secrets of Xen'drik.


Adaptations:
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In the notes on settings, I included how this build can be transported to other settings. Also, the notes on plant shape include some other options if your DM decides that Plant Shape does not count as wild shape for the Exalted Wild Shape feat.

Other interesting and flavorful feats include Nimbus of Light and Stigmata, which fit the flavor quite well, and could be subbed out for Gift of Discernment and Words of Creation. Improved Trip, Ability Focus (Stunning Fist), and Pain Touch would also be nice additions, any one of which could be swapped in over Superior Unarmed Strike.