Showing off is the fool's idea of glory. - Bruce Lee


Quote Originally Posted by Parsifal the Fool


Excerpt from the Journal of Sir Wolfram Heartsteel:

...I did not expect to be entertained by a fool, but there he was. He had a pinched face but wide blue eyes, eyes that were strangely compelling. Behind him was his "Motley Band," four skeletons grotesquely dressed in motley. They played upon wooden harps, but truly, I could not call it music...

...the Fool smiled when he met me. "Sir Wolfram Heartsteel? That cannot be," he said. "Sir Wolfram Heartsteel is dead. He starved to death on the Bitter Sea." I assured him I was very much alive, but all he did was stare at me with those terrible eyes. "No," he said. "I am sure of it. Wolfram of House Cannith died on the Bitter Sea. His ship was destroyed, and he was washed up on a small rocky island, where he starved. It happened just this Barrakas."

I sat there, dumbfounded. "Barrakas? But it is only Nymm - Barrakas is still two months away."

"Ah," he said. "My apologies then, my lord. I must be mistaken..."

...It has now been three weeks that I have been stranded on this godsforsaken isle. I am no longer sure of the day, but I believe Lharvion has ended and it is now Barrakas. I do not know how much longer I have...


The Build
Spoiler
Show

Parsifal the Fool
CN Half-Elf, Divine Bard 5/Death Delver 10/Medani Prophet 5

ACFs:
Half-Elf Bard Racial Substitution Levels - Soothing Voice
Healing Hymn
Hymn of Fortification
Inspire Awe

Stats:
Spoiler
Show

Starting Stats (32-point buy):
Str 8/Dex 10/Con 12/Int 14/Wis 16/Cha 16

All boosts go to Charisma


Build:
Spoiler
Show

Parsifal the Fool
{table=head]Level|Class|Base Attack Bonus|Fort Save|Ref Save|Will Save|Skills|Feats|Class Features

1st|Divine Bard 1|
+0
|
+0
|
+2
|
+2
|Diplomacy 4 ranks, perform (oratory) 4 ranks, concentration 4 ranks, know (arcana) 4 ranks, know (religion) 4 ranks, bluff 4 ranks, know (nobility & royalty) 4 ranks, sense motive 4 ranks|Apprentice (Entertainer)|Bardic music, bardic knowledge, soothing voice, healing hymn, inspire awe
2nd|Divine Bard 2|
+1
|
+0
|
+3
|
+3
|Diplomacy 5 ranks, perform (oratory) 5 ranks, concentration 5 ranks, know (arcana) 5 ranks, know (religion) 5 ranks, bluff 5 ranks, know (nobility & royalty) 5 ranks, sense motive 5 ranks||
3rd|Divine Bard 3|
+2
|
+1
|
+3
|
+3
|Diplomacy 6 ranks, perform (oratory) 6 ranks, concentration 6 ranks, know (arcana) 6 ranks, know (religion) 6 ranks, heal 1 rank, speak language 1 rank|Least Dragonmark (Mark of Detection - Detect Poison)|Hymn of Fortification
4th|Divine Bard 4|
+3
|
+1
|
+4
|
+4
|Diplomacy 7 ranks, perform (oratory) 7 ranks, concentration 7 ranks, know (arcana) 7 ranks, know (religion) 7 ranks, heal 2 ranks, speak language 1 rank||
5th|Divine Bard 5|
+3
|
+1
|
+4
|
+4
|Diplomacy 8 ranks, perform (oratory) 8 ranks, concentration 8 ranks, know (arcana) 8 ranks, know (religion) 8 ranks, speak language 3 ranks||
6th|Death Delver 1|
+3
|
+3
|
+4
|
+6
|Diplomacy 9 ranks, perform (oratory) 9 ranks, know (arcana) 9 ranks, know (religion) 9 ranks|Lesser Dragonmark (Mark of Detection - See Invisibility)|Deathsense, rebuke undead
7th|Death Delver 2|
+4
|
+4
|
+4
|
+7
|Diplomacy 10 ranks, perform (oratory) 10 ranks, concentration 9 ranks, know (religion) 10 ranks||Deadened soul, spontaneous casting
8th|Death Delver 3|
+5
|
+4
|
+5
|
+7
|Diplomacy 11 ranks, perform (oratory) 11 ranks, know (arcana) 10 ranks, know (religion) 11 ranks||Death ward 1/day
9th|Medani Prophet 1|
+5
|
+4
|
+5
|
+9
|Diplomacy 12 ranks, perform (oratory) 12 ranks, know (arcana) 11 ranks, know (religion) 12 ranks, concentration 11 ranks|Greater Dragonmark (Mark of Detection - True Seeing)|Heir’s mark, keen insight, prophetic vision
10th|Medani Prophet 2|
+6/+1
|
+4
|
+5
|
+10
|Diplomacy 13 ranks, perform (oratory) 13 ranks, know (arcana) 13 ranks, know (religion) 13 ranks, concentration 12 ranks||Improved dragonmark, blood augury
11th|Death Delver 4|
+7/+2
|
+5
|
+5
|
+11
|Diplomacy 14 ranks, perform (oratory) 14 ranks, concentration 13 ranks, know (religion) 14 ranks||Diehard
12th|Death Delver 5|
+7/+2
|
+5
|
+5
|
+11
|Diplomacy 15 ranks, perform (oratory) 15 ranks, know (arcana) 14 ranks, know (religion) 15 ranks|Mark of the Dauntless|Fear aura
13th|Medani Prophet 3|
+8/+3
|
+6
|
+6
|
+11
|Diplomacy 16 ranks, perform (oratory) 16 ranks, know (arcana) 16 ranks, know (religion) 16 ranks, concentration 15 ranks||Dragon’s shield
14th|Medani Prophet 4|
+9/+4
|
+6
|
+6
|
+12
|Diplomacy 17 ranks, perform (oratory) 17 ranks, know (arcana) 17 ranks, know (religion) 17 ranks, concentration 17 ranks||Improved dragonmark, Medani guidance
15th|Death Delver 6|
+10/+5
|
+7
|
+7
|
+13
|Diplomacy 18 ranks, perform (oratory) 18 ranks, know (arcana) 18 ranks, know (religion) 18 ranks|Healing Devotion|Death ward 2/day
16th|Death Delver 7|
+11/+6/+1
|
+7
|
+7
|
+13
|Diplomacy 19 ranks, perform (oratory) 19 ranks, concentration 18 ranks, know (religion) 19 ranks||Cheat death
17th|Death Delver 8|
+12/+7/+2
|
+8
|
+7
|
+14
|Diplomacy 20 ranks, perform (oratory) 20 ranks, know (arcana) 19 ranks, know (religion) 20 ranks||Mantle of life
18th|Death Delver 9|
+12/+7/+2
|
+8
|
+8
|
+14
|Diplomacy 21 ranks, perform (oratory) 21 ranks, concentration 19 ranks, know (religion) 21 ranks|Extra Music|Death ward 3/day
19th|Death Delver 10|
+13/+8/+3
|
+9
|
+8
|
+15
|Diplomacy 22 ranks, perform (oratory) 22 ranks, know (arcana) 20 ranks, know (religion) 22 ranks||Nine lives
20th|Medani Prophet 5|
+13/+8/+3
|
+9
|
+8
|
+15
|Diplomacy 23 ranks, perform (oratory) 23 ranks, know (arcana) 21 ranks, know (religion) 23 ranks, concentration 21 ranks||Visions of the past[/table]


Spells:
Spoiler
Show

Divine Bard Spells per day/Known
{table=head]Level|0lvl|1st|2nd|3rd|4th|5th|6th

1st|2 / 4|-|-|-|-|-|-

2nd|3 / 5|2 / 1|-|-|-|-|-

3rd|3 / 6|1 / 3|-|-|-|-|-

4th|3 / 6|2 / 3|0 / 2|-|-|-|-

5th|3 / 6|3 / 4|1 / 3|-|-|-|-

6th|3 / 6|3 / 4|1 / 3|-|-|-|-

7th|3 / 6|3 / 4|1 / 3|-|-|-|-

8th|3 / 6|3 / 4|1 / 3|-|-|-|-

9th|3 / 6|3 / 4|2 / 3|-|-|-|-

10th|3 / 6|3 / 4|2 / 4|0 / 2|-|-|-

11th|3 / 6|3 / 4|2 / 4|0 / 2|-|-|-

12th|3 / 6|3 / 4|2 / 4|0 / 2|-|-|-

13th|3 / 6|3 / 4|3 / 4|1 / 3|-|-|-

14th|3 / 6|3 / 4|3 / 4|2 / 3|-|-|-

15th|3 / 6|3 / 4|3 / 4|2 / 3|-|-|-

16th|3 / 6|3 / 4|3 / 4|2 / 3|-|-|-

17th|3 / 6|3 / 4|3 / 4|2 / 3|-|-|-

18th|3 / 6|3 / 4|3 / 4|2 / 3|-|-|-

19th|3 / 6|3 / 4|3 / 4|2 / 3|-|-|-

20th|3 / 6|3 / 4|3 / 4|2 / 4|0 / 2|-|-[/table]

Divine Bard Spells Known:
0- Prestidigitation, Ghostharp, Detect Magic, Lullaby, Mage Hand, Read Magic
1- Silent Image, Improvisation, Grease, Swift Invisibility
2- Alter Self, Silence, Shatter, Glitterdust
3- Alter Fortune, Glibness, Scrying, Listening Coin
4- Ruin Delver’s Fortune, Celerity

Death Delver Spells per day
{table=head]Level|1st|2nd|3rd|4th

1st|-|-|-|-

2nd|-|-|-|-

3rd|-|-|-|-

4th|-|-|-|-

5th|-|-|-|-

6th|0|-|-|-

7th|1|-|-|-

8th|1|0|-|-

9th|1|0|-|-

10th|1|0|-|-

11th|1|1|-|-

12th|1|1|0|-

13th|1|1|0|-

14th|1|1|0|-

15th|1|1|1|-

16th|2|1|1|0

17th|2|1|1|1

18th|2|2|1|1

19th|2|2|2|1

20th|2|2|2|1[/table]


Suggested Items:
Spoiler
Show

The Fool travels far, and rarely carries much with him beyond his own person. In general, he is not an item-dependent build, although he would benefit well from anything that boosts his Charisma and Wisdom, a Circlet of Persuasion, and a decent light armor. He carries no weapons with him, preferring to fight with his voice and his soul.

He likes to travel with skeletons that he names his "Motley Band." These are not intended for combat, and so they do not need to be outfitted, but he likes to dress them in motley and give them wooden harps to strum at.



The Story of Parsifal, the Fool Who Cannot Die
Spoiler
Show

Baron d’Vadalis frowned. “You want me to send a... a fool on a ranging into the Demon Wastes? I tell you, sir, when I asked for assistance from the Warning Guild, this is not what I expected.”

The captain leaned back. “Parsifal may wear motley, but he is no fool,” he said. “He has a rather unique perspective that I believe you may find valuable.”

“He had better be valuable,” gruffed the Baron, “considering what your guild expects me to pay! Perhaps if I needed a spy in court he might help. What good is a fool when it comes to traveling beyond the Eldeen Reaches?”

“Truth be told,” said the captain, “House Medani originally trained him for court. He was baseborn, you know - if it were not for his dragonmark, he would have never found a place in the House. When his dragonmark manifested, they trained him as a court jester, with an ear toward intrigue. But that was before his accident.

“He was still young, and appointed to a minor court in Cyre, where he was to secretly test for poison as he entertained. And in this he was successful - he discovered that one of the lordlings attending a feast was wearing a hollow ring filled with poison. The lordling was arrested, and the Cyrean court paid a healthy bonus to the Warning Guild.

"Unfortunately for poor Parsifal, though, that was not the end of it. Weeks later, the lordling that Parsifal had caught hired an assassin to kill the fool. Parsifal was in temple praying to Aureon when the assassin caught up with him. He snuck behind Parsifal and slit his throat.

"As Parsifal lay on the floor, his lifeblood seeping out of him, he suddenly received a terrible vision. He saw himself dying, saw it clearly. Again and again it played itself in front of his eyes, and again and again he saw himself die. He knew the exact moment when it would happen, knew with a terrible certainty that it could not be avoided. And yet he knew it was not that day.

"Sure enough, Parsifal survived the wound. However, his poor mind was broken, not by the injury, but by the visions of his own death. He had looked into the future - something no mortal should ever do. And something of the future remained with him from then on. Memories of events not yet born filled his mind. Days long past felt like yesterday, and days yet to come instead seemed to be the distant past.

"And above all else, Parsifal knew that he could not die. Not until the moment of his vision, which he still claims to see, every night. He has never told anyone when that moment is, but he knows that until it occurs, he shall always live. Many have put this to the test, and I have seen Parsifal walk away from many a mortal wound."

The Baron scratched his chin thoughtfully. "What must that do to a man, to see his own death?"

The captain shook his head. "I know not," he said. "Yet I do know this. Parsifal, the fool that fears nothing... he fears that day. He knows it will come, and it terrifies him."


Parsifal the Fool and His Motley Band (Build Explanation)
Spoiler
Show

He looks to be just a fool, wearing a fool's crown. He is followed by his Motley Band, four skeletal figures strumming dischordant tunes on old wooden harps. But his eyes - those are eyes that have seen much, seen more than any eyes should see.

The Fool is primarily a utility and support character. He can sense life and death, peer into the future or past, change the fortune of those around him. He can calm people's troubled souls with his poetry, or strike fear into their hearts. He sees the unseen, knows the unknown. And until a day that has not yet come, he will never die.

His mind unstuck in time, the Fool can peer briefly into the future to know how events will unfold. He can convert his dragonmark SLAs into augury and divination effects. Unlike the spells, which have a long casting time and requiring costly material components, the Fool casts these as spell-like abilities (standard action casting, no material components required). That means that he can use them almost constantly, letting his party know of what dangers await them. He can use his augury ability up to six times per day, and his divination ability up to five times per day.

Eventually, the Fool can even use his dragonmark to peer into the past, allowing him to get the answers to any three questions regarding the past of an area he is in.

The Fool was trained to entertain the lordly courts, and though many consider him a madman, his training has left him engaging and well-spoken. One of his most powerful forms of offense is his soothing voice ability. This use of his bardic music allows him to affect enemies with a calm emotions effect, the DC being set by his diplomacy check. This is almost impossible to succeed against. His diplomacy check is well beyond even the most optimized Will save. To give an example of how hard this save is to make, even without a single magic item, the Fool gets a +38 to his check by level 20. This means that the average save DC will be 49. Add in level-appropriate items (nothing fancy, just Charisma boosters and a Circlet of Persuasion), and this instead becomes +47, for an average save DC of 58.

He can also strike fear into the hearts of enemies. He has a powerful fear aura, and he can extend this effect considerably with his Inspire Awe ability. Like Soothing Voice, this is a check that will be very hard to beat (he has a +35 to perform by level 20, making the average DC 46).

He can also manipulate time to bring fortune into his favor. He can force enemies to re-roll saving throws or help his allies out with alter fortune and ruin delver's fortune. And with celerity, he can ensure he always acts before his enemies.

Against mindless enemies immune to his Soothing Voice and Fear Aura, Parsifal is still far from helpless. Undead enemies fall victim to rebuking and command undead (which has no save against mindless undead). He also has grease and silent image, both spells that are incredibly effective against zombies and most constructs.

With his constant deathwatch effect and access to glitterdust, true seeing and see invisibility, it is almost impossible to hide from Parsifal... especially since his divinations generally warn him in advance of any danger.

The Fool knows he cannot die. He spends most of the day immune to death effects, negative energy, fear, and more. He is an excellent healer, and has access to fast healing. And with his Nine Lives class feature and access to celerity, he will live forever...... at least until the prophesied day arrives.

Out of combat, Parsifal is just as effective. He has an excellent diplomacy check, and his high Charisma combined with the glibness spell makes him a great bluffer as well. He can scry on enemies, or infiltrate enemy parties and implant listening coins to constantly spy. And his divinations are useful for more than just knowing what enemies may be coming.


The Grave's Dark Secrets - How the Fool Uses His Death
Spoiler
Show

After seeing his own death, the touch of the grave remained on the Fool for the rest of his days. Though some say it drove him mad, he has learned to use this touch of death to his great advantage. Here are just some of the ways the Fool takes advantage of his Death Delver levels:

The Fool’s Piercing Gaze (Permanent Deathwatch + Glitterdust / See Invisibility / True Seeing)

Thanks to the Death Delver’s permanent deathwatch effect, none can ever sneak past the Fool. Deathwatch instantly lets him know when any creatures within its effect are dead, fragile, fighting off death, etc. He does not need to see them to know this, meaning that he gets this knowledge even of hidden or invisible enemies. When Parsifal gets a ping within the effect for a creature he cannot see, he uses the see invisibility or true seeing ability from his dragonmark, or his glitterdust spell, to oust the hiding foe.

It Is Not Yet Time To Die (Nine Lives + Healing Devotion + Diehard)

Having stepped out of time, the Fool has seen the moment of his death, and he knows it is not this one. The Death Delver’s Nine Lives class feature sets him to -9 hit points when he would otherwise die. Healing Devotion automatically activates if the Fool is reduced below 0 hit points, but does not die. The net effect is that whenever the Fool is hit with an attack that would slay him, not only does he survive the attack, but he also gains fast healing and rises again.

Wise Men Fear the Mad (Fear Aura + Inspire Awe)

Parsifal the Fool was trained to entertain, not to intimidate. Nevertheless, his mastery of speech and his close acquaintance with death allows him to be more foreboding than most would expect. Particularly powerful is the fear aura he gets from his Death Delver levels, which immediately makes enemies panicked or cowering. However, this effect is of limited duration. Enter the Fool’s Inspire Awe ability. This ability is terrifically hard to resist, with a typical DC in the high 40s by level 20, but it ordinarily only makes enemies shaken. But, when enemies are exposed to multiple fear effects, the worst stage of fear lasts until all effects expire (per Rules Compendium p53). The Fool can use this to extend his fear aura’s effect for as long as he continues speaking, keeping enemies cowering for as long as he wants them to be.

Time Heals All (Spontaneous Healing + Healing Hymn)

Parsifal can use his mastery over time to help his allies heal from their wounds in just a fraction of the time it would ordinarily take. It takes but a night to sleep off the most grievous of injuries. His Death Delver levels grant him spontaneous healing as well, but ordinarily this would be rather limited, since his Death Delver spells are capped at such a low level. However, with Healing Hymn, he adds his ranks in perform to the amount healed by a cure spell, making even a simple Cure Light Wounds powerful.

The Voice of Aureon Protects Its Chosen (Celerity + Death Ward/Hymn of Fortification/Resist Energy + Mark of the Dauntless)

The Fool has many abilities that protect him from the machinations of his foes. Death Ward, for instance, stops many negative effects cold. His Hymn of Fortification can block most compulsion effects and summoned enemies. His Death Delver spells also offer similar protection. However, these spells and abilities are worthless if they are not activated until after an enemy attacks him. Enter celerity, which lets him use them as an immediate action, often saving his life or the lives of those in his party. He is even immune to many of the negative effects, thanks to Mark of the Dauntless (which also prevents him from being dazed when he receives a Medani prophecy).

The Magic of House Medani (Death Delver casting)

As a divine bard, the Fool is no stranger to magic. However, the Death Delver’s spell list opens up his options considerably. In particular, he has access to several defensive buffs that become even more powerful when combined with his Medani Prophet divinations - resist energy, freedom of movement, etc. Rigor mortis combines well with bluff and glibness to allow him to feign death. He gains access to animate dead, allowing him to create his Motley Band. Speak with undead is an excellent divination that fits well with his character, and comes in at a level earlier than the divine bard. Command undead gives him a powerful weapon against those who would ordinarily be immune to his soothing voice or fear effects.


Playing the Fool (Parsifal in your campaign)
Spoiler
Show

The Fool would make an effective PC or NPC in any Eberron-style campaign. With his excellent survivability and wide range of abilities, he would make a welcome addition to most parties.

It is easy to scale the Fool's power up or down depending on the campaign. Diplomacy and divinations in particular can be excellent tools if used properly, but can break campaigns if used too aggressively. As always, I would suggest speaking to your DM about how she would like these effects handled.

Many DMs also ban the spell celerity. Though Parsifal attempts to use it in a non-abusive way, focusing on defensive elements that assist the party, it can easily be replaced. Ruin Delver's Fortune and Alter Fortune are generally more than enough, as far as immediate action castings go. If this is the case, I would replace celerity with shadow conjuration, which will add some more versatility to Parsifal.

Build Snapshots

Level 5: Divine Bard 5

The fact that two of the Fool's key abilities come online at level 1 means that the low levels play very well for him. Soothing voice and inspire awe are both effective ways of dealing with enemies, and his bardic spellcasting also helps.

Level 10: Divine Bard 5/Death Delver 3/Medani Prophet 2

Soothing voice and inspire awe continue to gain in strength. Meanwhile, the Fool picks up several excellent abilities from Death Delver, most notably deathsense and death ward, as well as the ability to rebuke undead. He can also convert his least dragonmark uses (of which he has 5 at this point) into auguries, and his bardic casting improves, giving him the ability to cast alter fortune once per day.

Level 15: Divine Bard 5/Death Delver 6/Medani Prophet 4

Several new abilities come online in these levels. Now the Fool can generate divinations as well as auguries. He gains more uses of his death ward ability, and he picks up his fear aura, which is an excellent weapon when combined with inspire awe. He can now use his rebuking attempts to fuel Healing Devotion, giving him fast healing. His casting in both classes improves, and he gains a few other minor defensive boosts from both his Death Delver and Medani Prophet levels.

Level 20: Divine Bard 5/Death Delver 10/Medani Prophet 5

All of the Fool's abilities continue to improve, but what is most notable are his two class capstones. Nine Lives fully cements the Fool as unkillable (at least until his prophesied day), especially when combined with Healing Devotion. Meanwhile, visions of the past has huge implications, allowing the Fool to catch glimpses of events that occurred months in the past - it is equivalent to the ninth-level spell hindsight, but usable several times throughout the day.


Build Sources
Spoiler
Show

Unearthed Arcana/SRD:
Divine Bard.

Dragonmarked:
Medani Prophet
Mark of the Dauntless

Eberron Campaign Setting:
Least, Lesser and Greater Dragonmark

Races of Destiny:
Half-Elf Bard racial sub levels (Soothing Voice)

Complete Champion:
Healing Hymn
Hymn of Fortification
Healing Devotion

Dragon Magic:
Inspire Awe

DMGII:
Apprentice (Entertainer)

Complete Adventurer:
Extra Music

All spells can be found in the PHB or Spell Compendium, with the following three exceptions: Rigor Mortis (Heroes of Horror), Celerity (PHBII) and Ruin Delver's Fortune (online).