"I like this one. He has an honest fa- hey! Where's my wallet gone?!"

Quote Originally Posted by Honest James Horson
Honest James Horson
NE Half Drow
Marshal 1/half-elf paragon 3 / shugenja 1/ human paragon 3 / flux adept 7/contemplative 1/ insidious corrupter 3
Str: 8
Con: 12
Dex: 8
Int: 17
Wis: 10
Cha: 17
Ability increases: 4th +1 int, 8th, 12th, 16th, 20th +1 cha

Honest James is a con artist and animal trainer. He lives in Stormreach. The son of a prostitute, Honest James has 5 siblings, all of whom he keeps in contact with. Honest James never stood up to a fight that he couldn’t run away from. Honest James is smart and charming and ambitious, but Honest James ain’t brave. He’d sooner sell you his virgin sister than suffer a punch to his face. Problem is, his sister ain’t a virgin, or his sister, and he just made plans to pay the bilge rats to waylay you tomorrow. Honest James is an entrepreneur, and has a few cover identities that he makes possible via his disguise self spell. Until 16th or so level, he hires prostitutes and aids them on take 20’s to disguise himself as various cover identities. Honest James has this idea that he can create a ring of spies and infiltrators that will be the best in the world.

Honest James does not seek to surround himself with strong people. He specifically targets weak people, particularly nasty weak people. People who are just trying to get by are not exempt, but if they can be avoided, they get avoided, particularly single moms. Honest James is still thoroughly evil, he just has a few broad categories of people that he is less likely to cheat or kill.

Honest James loves to train animals. He loves that animals lack the ability to lie. Communication across the language divide means that deceit is ineffectual. Seeing as how he is so good at lying, he loves the purity of experience of bending an animal to do his will because it has been taught to try to please him.

This build detests all combat. This build is also best served by early use of epic skill checks. It can work without them, but the undetectable alignment + at will suggestion make the best possible use of the “taste of truth” ability from flux adept. Anytime Honest james takes damage in a fight, he either combat panaches the next attack into an enemy or combat panaches a fake death. Later, when fearless destiny comes in, he doesn’t feign death until he actually almost dies. Honest james is willing to use this ability to have his "dead" body get taken to convenient places, with trained tiny animals being used to wake him up. In order to keep things from eating his feign death body, he also activates bitter acidic taste. Honest James doesn’t take time to eat unless he has to show appearances, and will use his iron stomach ability to literally eat air.

This build takes loads of game time to set up his ability to compete with higher tier builds. Honest James is similar to an artificer in this way. This build is most appropriate in campaigns that focus a less on combat and more on politics/ trade/ culture clashes.

Spoiler: THE TABLE

Level Class Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Skills Feats Class Features
1st Marshal +0 +2 +0 +2 Handle animal 4, ride 1, bluff 4, sense motive 4, intimidate 4, perform 4, knowledge (arcana) 4, Diplomacy 3 Able Learner (RoD) Skill Focus (Diplomacy)*, minor aura
2nd Half-Elf Paragon (UA) +0 +2 +2 +2 Bluff 5, Craft 4, diplomacy 4, perform 5 Endurance Bonus feat, divided ancestry, elven vision
3rd Shugenja (air+order of Spring Zephyr (CD) +0 +2 +2 +4 craft 5, heal 5, knowledge arcana 5 Earthbound Spell (PHBII) Elemental Focus (air), Sense Elements
4th Human Paragon (UA) +0 +2 +2 +6 bluff 7, perform 7, intimidate 7, knowledge arcana 6 Adaptive Learning
5th Human Paragon (UA) +1 +2 +2 +7 bluff 8, perform 8, intimidate 8, knowledge arcana 8, handle animal 7 Combat panache (PHBII) Bonus Feat, +1 CL
6th Human Paragon (UA) +2 +3 +3 +7 bluff 9, diplomacy 8, handle animal 9, sleight of hand 1, knowledge religion 2 Great Fortitude Ability Boost (+2 Cha), +1 CL
7th Half-Elf Paragon (UA) +3 +3 +4 +7 Bluff 10, handle animal 10, sleight of hand 3, sense motive 6, Persuasion, +1 CL
8th Flux Adept (DrComp) +3 +3 +6 +7 bluff 11, handle animal 11, sleight of hand 4, sense motive 6, gather information 2, diplomacy 9 Grace Through will, +1 CL
9th Flux Adept (DrComp) +4 +3 +7 +7 knowledge religion 8 Heroic Destiny (RoD) Pheromonic Control, Thermoregulation +2
10th Half-elf Paragon (UA) +5 +4 +7 +8 knowledge religion 13, bluff 13, handle animal 12 Ability Boost (+2 CHA)
11th Flux Adept (DrComp) +5 +5 +7 +9 handle animal 14, bluff 14, sense motive 7, gather information 4 Iron Stomach, +1 CL
12th Flux Adept (DrComp) +6 +5 +8 +9 handle animal 15, bluff 15, sense motive 8, gather information 7 Fearless Destiny (RoD) Bitter Tides
13th Flux Adept (DrComp) +6 +5 +8 +9 handle animal 16, bluff 16, sense motive 9, gather information 8 Feign Death, +1 CL
14th Flux Adept (DrComp) +7 +6 +9 +10 handle animal 17, bluff 17, ride 7, gather information 9 Taste of Truth
15th Flux Adept (DrComp) +7 +6 +9 +10 handle animal 18, bluff 18, ride 10, gather information 10 Persuasive Thermoregulation +4, Haste, +1CL
16th Contemplative (CD: Domination Domain) +7 +6 +9 +12 handle animal 19, bluff 19, sleight of hand 8 Bonus Domain (Domination), Divine Health, +1CL
17th Insidious Corrupter (DotU) +7 +6 +9 +14 handle animal 20, bluff 20, sleight of hand 9, disguise 1 Claws of influence (1 target), manipulate senses
18th Insidious Corrupter (DotU) +8 +6 +9 +15 handle animal 21, bluff 21, sleight of hand 10, disguise 4 Master Manipulator (PHBII) Probe Thoughts, +1CL
19th Insidious Corrupter (DotU) +8 +7 +10 +15 handle animal 22, bluff 22, sleight of hand 11, disguise 7 Manipulation, claws of influence (2 targets)
20th Insidious Corrupter (DotU) +9 +7 +10 +16 handle animal 23, bluff 23, sleight of hand 12, disguise 10 Minion, +1 CL

Spoiler: Spells per Day/Spells Known

Level 0lvl 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
1st - - - - - -
2nd - - - - - -
3rd 5 3 - - - -
4th 5 3 - - - -
5th 6 4 - - - -
6th 6 5 - - - -
7th 6 6 3 - - -
8th 6 6 4 - - -
9th 6 6 4 - - -
10th 6 6 4 - - -
11th 6 6 5 3 - -
12th 6 6 5 3 - -
13th 6 6 6 4 - -
14th 6 6 6 4 - -
15th 6 6 6 5 3 -
16th 6 6 6 6 4 -
17th 6 6 6 6 4 -
18th 6 6 6 6 5 3
19th 6 6 6 6 5 3
20th 6 6 6 6 6 4

Bonus Spells per day according to charisma score.

Character Level Caster Level Order spell Element Spell Other Spell
3 1 0: Daze
1:Disguise Self
0: Ghost Sound, Know Direction
1: Silent Image
0: create water, detect magic
1: Speak with animals
5 2 0: Guidance
6 3 1: Expeditious retreat
7 4 2:Blur 2: Color spray 0: Light
8 5 0: read magic 1: Obscuring Mist
2: Fog Cloud
11 6 3: Invisibility 3: Major image
13 7 1: Feather Fall
2: Detect thoughts
0: Detect Poison
3: When two become 1 (OA)
15 8 4: Air walk 4: Detect Scrying
16 9 0:??? No legal choice
3: wingblast (DrM)
2: Horse's Nose (OA)
4: Dominate person
18 10 5: Greater Invisibility 5: Persistant image
20 11 2:Minor Image
4:Hallucinatory Terrain
3: Glyph of Warding
5: Scrying

Know the shadows from OA is an air spell that can replace colorspray. It gives you +20 to hide.


RACIAL ABILITIES: Immune to sleep, +2 saves against enchantment, +1 bonus on listen, search and spot. +2 on Diplomacy and gather information checks. 60’ dark vision. Elf blood. Drow blood.


At level 1, Honest James is a marshal that can motivate charisma. Best to pair up with a bard for adventures at this point. At level 3, Honest James joins the Hollow shards, and he attempts to swindle his way into not paying the 1000 gp entry fee. If he can pull it off, even for a second, he will try to diplomance his way into a higher affiliation ranking, getting the +2 competence bonus to bluff. At level 3, Honest James is an air shugenja who belongs to the order of the spring zephyr. At level 4, he increases his intelligence for the much needed Skill points. His human paragon skills are: handle animal, bluff, sense motive, knowledge arcana, intimidate, perform, diplomacy, sleight of hand, gather information, knowledge religion. At Level 5, Honest James has most of the SI pre-requisite feats. He has earthbound spell, which he can use to make daze traps while combat panache allows him to redirect attacks made against him after getting hit.

Considering that James can't hit to save his life, he should carry around alchemists fire, and wield (unproficiently) a sandblaster (from MM3, on the sand giant’s description) or a sandpipe (secrets of Xendrik). If you spit in a cone, you don’t need to worry about non-proficient attack rolls.

Honest James has two cover identities at this point that he puts some effort into. He is human animal trainer entrepreneur from Cyran that specializes in Tixlin bird training. “Only spends a few weeks a year in Stormreach.” He offers free room and board to university botanists to rear jungle plants for Tixlin birds. Trying to get the art perfected to start a business shipping the tixlin birds overseas to rich clients. He is also trying to pay botanists to rear felsul trees, because he wants to hire some alchemists to distill powerful colognes that help with lying (Magic of Faerun).

His other cover identity is a changeling reality seeker anarchist/poet. He is setting up a changeling enclave “safe space” in Stormreach for the wealthiest, most pacifistic changelings. Routinely “on tour” in other kingdoms. Occasionally sends plagiarized sweet notes to their marks. When in the kingdom, spends time recruiting other reality seekers to attract more reality seekers. Plans on having the disaffected youth raised there to join a counter cultural “reality seeking through reality breaking” crime ring. These are the other streams of plot hook generation that Honest James brings to the table in addition to being a part of the hollow shards.



After exploring the various identities offered to him by his mixed ancestry, Honest James decides to take his ability to lie to a whole new level. He decides to employ ancient techniques from cosmopolitan cultural influences to lie to his own body to make it behave how HE desires.

Honest James gets into some special ingredient now. Yessir. By level 10, his bluff and handle animal is at 33 before he rolls. He can train anything into a war beast (MM3). He can also train animals to have teamwork benefits. If he takes 10 and uses a masterwork item of +2, he can train like 3 t-rex war beasts at a time. This is money that he uses for 3 reasons, to set up his own personal spy network, to rise in level in the Hollow shards, and to make his tixlin bird hatchery/felon tree arboretum.

His bluff score is impeccable. Grace through will offers Honest James a small reprieve on some skill checks that he never invested in. Pheromonic control helps with the eagles splendor buff, and the additional +2 to training animals with scent. His paragon capstone powers all increase Charisma, giving a ton of extra spells per day. Persuasion, the half elf paragon class ability is another little charisma booster. Honest james has combat control spells (fog and mist), colorspray, and some simple illusions. To be honest, spells are just diversions to James. Except speak with animals. He loves that spell.

Somewhere around level 9, Honest james will spend good money to find out how to magically become a better liar and animal handler. His introspection into self doesn’t seem to be covering it. He hopefully finds out about an Eberonni equivalent to the Ritual of honest pain from church of Cyric (Lords of Darkness). This gives Honest James -2 constitution permanently but a +2 on diplomacy, bluff and handle animal. Also, he can lie, even in a zone of truth or similar spell. There are some worshippers of Vol in stormreach, but Honest James is willing to travel to get this ritual.

His cover identities depending on the campaign should continue growing. He should be training a few animals a week for cash, laundering the clean money through shady businesses and presenting it to the hollow shards. He should also be training mice and raccoons and monkeys and lizards to steal, which he then sells to friends and sailors. Honest James should have 10-20 mice trained at any point for use as scouts. Any significant wealth gain should go towards buying land in storm reach to start his changeling cult that he plans on using to transform into his personal spy ring, one generation from now. He still hires specific disguise artists to allow him to continue in his disguises. Sometimes wearing a disguise spell on top, if dealing with truesight type folk.



Honest James now has epic bluffing skills. He can instill a suggestion for 10 minutes using epic bluff rules. He can use his fearless destiny feign death combo. Always, Always saving action points to do so. Honest James has a +7 bonus to his bluff skills from the taste of truth. At level 15, his bluff is at 47, 49 with a masterwork bluff item. His animal handling is around 40 before you even roll. At level 15, he takes persuasive as a feat as a prerequisite for Insidious corruptor prestige class. Ask your DM if the persuasive class ability that does dang near the same thing can fulfill that. If so, consider [creaturetype] trainer and training oozes. I’m sure that there are some living spells out there that just need the right trainer and a lying sleaze bag from storm reach might be such a trainer. Jimmy can use epic animal handling to train single hit die animals in a single day. Further, at level 13, Honest james can take the spell, “when two become 1” to merge with his “horse.” Which means his BAB improves dramatically, and assuming that he properly crossbreeds his horses to get templates and whatnot, perhaps by making bluff checks to seduce (ala sword and fist) a young dragon into it.



Contemplative offers the choice of domain. Any domain that offers dominate person at a level lower than 6th is fine. I chose the…domination domain. Now, the wording of the bonus domain is weird, and doesn’t comport easily with Shugenja levels. A kind DM will grant you access to all of the spells in the domain that you are entitled to by level and maybe even extra domain slots to cast them from along with your normal spells. A judicious DM would count your order spells slots as being available to be used to learn domain spells into. Whatever the case, get dominate person somehow. Insidious corrupter allows you even more bluff bonii, and paired with unlimited suggestions, you can get anyone under your claws of influence to attack anyone else around. Master manipulator allows you to argue around with people to get at the truth of why they lie to you. If you don’t like that feat, there are a bunch of riding based feats that maybe helpful at this level, seeing as how the only way that you survive dungeon crawls is to send menageries of trained animals in first and scry on them. You can then ride your more efficient beasts in. Honest James should have a little farm of animals that he is training and a number of staff kept as retainers. He should also be dumping tons of money into his reality seeker changeling safe space, paying off all of the major players in storm reach from molesting them. Should anyone break that trust, Honest James will make sure that they are incapacitated. By creating this haven for changelings to breed true in storm reach, he hopes that their children become bored with their middle class lifestyles and seek adventure and fame. That is where Honest James begins training them as spies. Little missions at first, go buy this from the drowelfs. Then working them up to “live in the castle for 6 months, report back using these carrier pigeons every week. They’ll be trained to sit in the big tree every sunday night. On top of your house keeping wages, you’ll have 150gp bonus.” He views training of changelings very similarly to animal training: he must rear his own…

This spy network will give him the blackmail clout necessary to begin training planar animals without molestation from the often power mad and paranoid rest of the known world.