Fish really are terrifying sometimes, right?

Quote Originally Posted by Sanna Blackfish
Sanna Blackfish
CE Merfolk Bard 5/Stormsinger 10/Sea Witch 5


Image by FracturedReality

The Hook
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Sanna is, despite everything, a pretty typical mermaid in that her downfall began when she fell in love with a handsome sailor. He was as true to her as a landsman is capable of being, but he was a crewman on the first whaling ship to sail the waters where Sanna lived with a pod of orcas. The whalers decimated her pod, not even for food--which she might have understood--but as nuisances, leaving their bodies to stain the ocean red. Before, she was curious and even friendly with the few landsman ships that braved her waters, but now she's determined to stop their incursions, which means sinking their ships.


The Beat
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Pre-Racial-Adjustment: Str 8, Dex 13, Con 10, Int 14, Wis 12, Cha 15
Post-Racial-Adjustment: Str 10, Dex 15, Con 14, Int 14, Wis 12, Cha 15
Increase: Int at levels 4 and 8, Cha at levels 12, 16, and 20.

Languages: Common, Aquan, Darfellan


The Singer
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CR Class Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Skills Feats Class Features
1st Bard +0 +0 +2 +2 Bluff 4, Concentration 4, Diplomacy 4, Knowledge (Arcana) 4, Knowledge (Geography) 4, Knowledge (Nature) 4, Perform (Sing) 4, Spellcraft 4 Magical Aptitude Bardic music (countersong, fascinate, inspire courage), bardic knack
2nd Bard +1 +0 +3 +3 Bluff 5, Concentration 5, Diplomacy 5, Knowledge (Arcana) 5, Knowledge (Geography) 5, Knowledge (Nature) 5, Perform (Sing) 5, Spellcraft 5
3rd Bard +2 +1 +3 +3 Bluff 6, Concentration 6, Diplomacy 6, Knowledge (Arcana) 6, Knowledge (Nature) 6, Perform (Sing) 6, Sense Motive 2 Storm Magic Bardic music (Inspire competence)
4th Bard +3 +1 +4 +4 Bluff 7, Concentration 7, Diplomacy 7, Knowledge (Arcana) 7, Knowledge (Nature) 7, Perform (Sing) 7, Sense Motive 4
5th Bard +3 +1 +4 +4 Bluff 8, Concentration 8, Diplomacy 8, Knowledge (Arcana) 8, Knowledge (Nature) 8, Perform (Sing) 8, Sense Motive 6
6th Stormsinger +3 +1 +6 +6 Bluff 9, Concentration 9, Diplomacy 9, Knowledge (Nature) 9, Perform (Sing) 9, Sense Motive 6.5 Wild Cohort Bardic music, stormsong (gust of wind)
7th Stormsinger +4 +1 +7 +7 Bluff 10, Concentration 10, Diplomacy 10, Knowledge (Nature) 10, Perform (Sing) 10, Sense Motive 7 Stormpower
8th Stormsinger +4 +2 +7 +7 Bluff 11, Concentration 11, Diplomacy 11, Knowledge (Nature) 11, Perform (Sing) 11, Sense Motive 8 Stormsong (Thunderstrike)
9th Stormsinger +5 +2 +8 +8 Bluff 12, Concentration 12, Diplomacy 12, Knowledge (Nature) 12, Perform (Sing) 12, Sense Motive 9 Master Manipulator Resistance to electricity 5
10th Stormsinger +5 +2 +8 +8 Bluff 13, Concentration 13, Diplomacy 13, Knowledge (Nature) 13, Perform (Sing) 13, Sense Motive 10 Stormsong (control winds)
11th Stormsinger +6/+1 +3 +9 +9 Bluff 14, Concentration 14, Diplomacy 14, Knowledge (Nature) 14, Perform (Sing) 14, Sense Motive 14 Resistance to electricity 10
12th Stormsinger +6/+1 +3 +9 +9 Bluff 15, Concentration 15, Diplomacy 15, Knowledge (Nature) 15, Perform (Sing) 15, Sense Motive 15 Arcane Disciple (Water) Stormsong (winter's ballad)
13th Sea Witch +6/+1 +5 +9 +11 Bluff 16, Perform (Sing) 16, Spellcraft 6 Curse of the sea witch 1/day
14th Sea Witch +7/+2 +6 +9 +11 Bluff 17, Perform (Sing) 17, Spellcraft 7 Call maelstrom
15th Sea Witch +7/+2 +6 +10 +12 Bluff 18, Perform (Sing) 18, Spellcraft 8 Extra Music Curse of the sea witch 2/day
16th Sea Witch +8/+3 +7 +10 +12 Bluff 19, Perform (Sing) 19, Spellcraft 6 Briny deep summoning 1/day
17th Sea Witch +8/+3 +7 +10 +13 Bluff 20, Perform (Sing) 20, Spellcraft 7 Curse of the albatross 1/day
18th Stormsinger +9/+4 +7 +11 +14 Bluff 21, Concentration 21, Diplomacy 21, Knowledge (Nature) 21, Perform (Sing) 21, Sense Motive 16 Lyric Spell Resistance to electricity 15
19th Stormsinger +9/+4 +8 +11 +14 Bluff 22, Concentration 22, Diplomacy 22, Knowledge (Nature) 22, Perform (Sing) 22, Sense Motive 17 Stormsong (great thunderstrike)
20th Stormsinger +10/+5 +8 +12 +15 Bluff 22, Concentration 22, Diplomacy 22, Knowledge (Nature) 22, Perform (Sing) 22, Sense Motive 17 Stormsong (storm of vengeance)


​The Instruments
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Spells per Day/Spells Known
Level 0lvl 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th
1st 2/4 - - - - - -
2nd 3/5 1/3 - - - - -
3rd 3/6 2/3 - - - - -
4th 3/6 3/4 0/2 - - - -
5th 3/6 3/4 1/3 - - - -
6th 3/6 3/4 2/3 - - - -
7th 3/6 3/4 2/4 0/2 - - -
8th 3/6 3/4 3/4 1/3 - - -
9th 3/6 3/4 3/4 2/3 - - -
10th 3/6 3/4 3/4 2/4 0/2 - -
11th 3/6 3/4 3/4 3/4 1/3 - -
12th 3/6 3/4 3/4 3/4 2/3 - -
13th 3/6 3/4 3/4 3/4 2/4 0/2 -
14th 4/6 3/4 3/4 3/4 3/4 1/3 -
15th 4/6 4/4 3/4 3/4 3/4 2/3 -
16th 4/6 4/4 3/4 3/4 3/4 2/3 -
17th 4/6 4/5 4/4 4/4 3/4 2/4 0/2
18th 4/6 4/5 4/5 4/5 4/4 3/4 1/3
19th 4/6 4/5 4/5 4/5 4/5 3/4 2/3
20th 4/6 4/5 4/5 4/5 4/5 4/4 3/4

Spells known
0 - Light, lullaby, prestidigitation, detect magic, ghostharp, songbird
1 - Charm person, swift invisibility, silent Image, sorrow, obscuring mist*, grease
2 - Alter self, suggestion, entice gift, hold person, fog cloud*, blindness/deafness
3 - Siren's call, summon monster III, dispel magic, glibness, water breathing*, speak with animals
4 - Dominate person, flowsight, celerity, control water*, shadow conjuration, dimension door
5 - Ice storm*, greater dispel magic, false vision, summon monster V, greater blink
6 - Cone of cold*, rapture of the deep, summon monster VI, geas/quest, mass charm monster

*Spells gained through Arcane Disciple


The Accompaniment
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Sanna's animal companion's name is a short phrase of orca squeaks, but I'll just call him Squeaky. From level 6 to 12, he's a porpoise fluffed as a young orca, and from level 13 onward, he's a regular orca. He has pretty sophisticated feats for an animal companion (and he switches Weapon Finesse out for Improved Grapple when he grows up), to the point where I'm not sure I'd let a player set their animal companion up this way, but NPCs have a little more freedom. Squeaky's job is to make Sanna better (through stuff like constant guardian and his white raven maneuvers) without necessarily needing to attack anybody himself.

Level 10
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Effective Druid Level: 7

Size/Type: Medium animal
Hit Dice: 6d8+ 6(27 hp)
Initiative: Doesn’t matter
Speed: Swim 80’
Armor Class: 20 (+4 Dex, +6 Natural), touch 14, flat-footed 16
BAB/Grapple: +4/+5
Attack: Slam +5 melee (2d4+1)
Full Attack: Slam +5 melee (2d4+1)
Space/Reach: 5’/5’
Special Attacks: None
Special Qualities: Blindsight 120 ft., hold breath, low-light vision, link, share spells, evasion, devotion
Saves: Fort +6, Ref +7, Will +3
Abilities: Str 13, Dex 19, Con 13, Int 2, Wis 12, Cha 6
Skills (including racial bonuses): Listen 10, Spot 9, Swim 9
Feats: Weapon Finesse, Constant Guardian, Martial Study (White Raven, Bolstering Voice)

Level 15
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Effective Druid Level: 3

Size/Type: Huge animal
Hit Dice: 11d8 + 55 (94 hp)
Initiative: Doesn’t matter
Speed: Swim 50’
Armor Class: 19 (-2 size, +3 Dex, +8 Natural), touch 13, flat-footed 18
BAB/Grapple: +8/+29
Attack: Bite +15 melee (2d6+13)
Full Attack: Bite +15 melee (2d6+13)
Space/Reach: 15’/10’
Special Attacks: None
Special Qualities: Blindsight 120 ft., hold breath, low-light vision, link, share spells, evasion
Saves: Fort +12, Ref +10, Will +5
Abilities: Str 28, Dex 16, Con 21, Int 2, Wis 14, Cha 6
Skills (including racial bonuses): Listen 11, Spot 11, Swim 17
Feats: Improved Grapple, Constant Guardian, Martial Study (White Raven, Bolstering Voice), Martial Study (White Raven Tactics)

Level 20
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Effective Druid Level: 8

Size/Type: Huge Animal
Hit Dice: 1d8 + 55 (94 hp)
Initiative: Doesn’t matter
Speed: Swim 50’
Armor Class: 21 (-2 size, +3 Dex, +8 Natural), touch 13, flat-footed 18
BAB/Grapple: +9/+30
Attack: Bite +16 melee (2d6+13)
Full Attack: Bite +16 melee (2d6+13)
Space/Reach: 15’/10’
Special Attacks: None
Special Qualities: Blindsight 120 ft., hold breath, low-light vision, link, share spells, evasion, devotion
Saves: Fort +13, Ref +11, Will +6
Abilities: Str 29, Dex 17, Con 21, Int 2, Wis 14, Cha 6
Skills (including racial bonuses): Listen 13, Spot 13, Swim 17
Feats: Improved Grapple, Constant Guardian, Martial Study (White Raven, Bolstering Voice), Martial Study (White Raven Tactics), Large and In Charge


The Verses
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Sanna is meant as the villain of a nautical (not aquatic) campaign, and she's basically built to do two things: Sink ships and seem friendly while doing it. Try to keep her involvement in all the shipwrecks quiet for as long as possible--she wants people to think that the terrible weather is some mysterious supernatural force rather than something that can be solved by killing one mermaid. If she successfully stops all ship routes through her territory, then hey, great, she won. She has no desire to take the fight on land or anything like that.

Making her initial enemies whalers is intended to help her cover as a friendly NPC because, well, nobody likes whalers. Especially when they kill orcas just so the orcas won't be competition for whales, which is, unfortunately, a real thing.

At level 5, Sanna isn't really anything special, as mermaids go. She's a bard, not because it's a particularly nature-themed class, but because it gets her into her two prestige classes (oddly, the more nature-y Savage Bard variant would prevent her from qualifying for Sea Witch because it loses the Summon Monster line). Please note that because she breathes water as well as air, she can use perform (sing) underwater. Her power is mostly in her social skills—she can convince sailors to make bad choices, but she can't really wreck stuff herself yet. At this level, she should at least appear friendly to the party, and you could go so far as to introduce her before she goes bad, especially if the PCs happen to be traveling on a whaling ship. One notable thing that makes her much more flexible is that she can cast Alter Self starting at level 4 into a non-aquatic humanoid for some quick land-based recon; a particularly good use is to turn into a sailor and mess with docked ships.

By level 10, though, she's really starting to show her villainous potential. Her ability to mess with winds through stormsong makes her dangerous to any ship that crosses her path (since her CL for stormsong is based on her perform ranks, she can ratchet nondestructive winds all the way up to hurricane force), and can do so from pretty far below the ships. This is also where she finally has room for an animal companion, Squeaky, who's detailed in the "The Accompaniment" section above. Squeaky is mostly for flavor--he's not that powerful (and I assume that since Sanna is a BBEG, she can have more orcas around her if she wants to) but having a "special" whale hanging around makes sense.

If the party hasn't already figured her out, she should reveal her intentions by level 15. A particularly nasty way to do this is to offer to lead 'em to the cause of all the sinkings, cast water breathing (which she gets from the water domain at level 12) on 'em, bring them down to the bottom of the ocean, and then dispel water breathing. Maybe drop a maelstrom on 'em, too. Squeaky is now fulll-grown, and thanks to his Martial Study feats, can use White Raven Tactics on Sanna once per encounter. I chose to stick Sanna's Sea Witch levels as soon as she qualifies it (by virtue of control water from the water domain, though she also gets control weather as a Su stormsong ability at the same level) because it's the best anti-ship prestige class. She can trap small ships by creating whirlpools, and strategic cursing (on the captain or other lynchpin figure) can really ruin a ship's day. She can also, as I mentioned before, control water and the weather. Oh, and Umberlee works perfectly as a deity for Arcane Disciple, but that's the sort of fluff prereq I usually ignore for BBEGs.

Finally, at level 20, Sanna casts as a 19th-level bard plus the Water domain spells, but she also gets a couple abilities that mimic higher-level spells. Briny deep summoning, which she gets at level 16, mimics an aquatic summon nature's ally VIII, and her "capstone" ability lets her use storm of vengeance as a stormsong effect. She has 19 uses of bardic music/stormsong a day, which helps with the music-use-hungry effects like storm of vengeance and lyric spell.


The Credits
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Complete Adventurer: Extra music, lyric spell
Complete Divine: Arcane Disciple
Drow of the Underdark: Constant guardian
Frostburn: Stormsinger, storm magic
Monster manual: orcaS
Player;s Handbook: Bard, magical aptitude, weapon finesseS, improved grappleS
Player's Handbook II: Bardic knack, master manipulator
Spell Compendium: Several spells
Stormwrack: Sea Witch, storm magic, several spells
Tome of Battle: Martial studyS
Web Content: Wild Cohort

SComponents for Squeaky