"Time for plan B." "Is that the one where we set something on fire?"
Quote Originally Posted by Balko
Balko the Farmer


It started as an headache. Sometimes, in the middle of the barley season, it was so intense he had to bow on all fours and cry out. But it was a rare, painful storm. This until the fall of 1370 Dale Reckoning. When all the provisions were stored in mills and warehouse and all leaves were brown and gold, the pulse began to hammer everyday.
Pulse.
Pulse.
Pulse.
Everyday.
His coworkers were pissed off. “Cut it, Balko: your petty excuse doesn’t exent you from work.” He was bitten often, cause no one likes a weak screamer. Expecially one that does not work for it.
One night, Balko was forced outside the Worker’s House – the two story building hosting the workers of the farm – and confronted by three angry workers: “Boy, this is your last chance: no illness here, no shared weight. If the houselord forces us to work for you, then you probably end up getting worst.”
The seven feet tall man bowed on him and slapped his face.
“Understand?”
That was usual, everywere in the farm. This tall guy, Jab he think’s his name, is the self elected sheriff and he calls all the rules. A mobster, one would say, but Jab prefers sheriff.
Balko is about to cry again
“No, don’t do it, crybaby! Don’t even try to…”
Jab’s eyes were wide. Not by the anger flowing in Balko’s veins – a victim often tries (hopes) to react – but by the dissolution of the right arm his fellow was using to keep him at bay.
One moment before, there was an arm, a second after all seemed… “displaced?”… whatever happended, the arm now ended at the armpit.
A scream in the open air and Balko’s eyes turning black… “Is this… just a dream?” asked Jab by himself. He didn’t stay to know.

Voices spread in a common ambient in the same way as farts does: from the near to the far. So, the morning after, at the breakfast time a dozen of workers was glancing at him and by the diner all the house avoided him. Just in case.
Now Balko was alone. Perfect to understand by himself what the hell had happened.

In the following days, last ones before the great winter’s closing, with all his surprise he discovered his mind was able to create amazing exploits. Just thinking, he was able to move quicker, to disappear from the top of the oak tree just to land at its roots, to actually disjoint matter with a simple touch and to move quicker than anyone in the house.
The headache was still here, still a disturbance, but anytime he discharged this strange energy, the pain went out.


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Balko the Farmer, 5th level human Ardent.

HD: 5d6 (25 hp on average)
Init.: +3
Speed: 40 feet, 50 feet when psionically focused
AC: 17 (+4 armor, +3 dex)
Base atk: +3
Attack: +7 Dagger, mw, 1d4+1, +4 whip, mw, 1d6+1; +6 touch attacks
Full attack: +5/5 Daggers or +5 Dagger/ +2 Whip.
Attack opt.: Psioncs powers, Shadow Hand Technique – maneuver.
Special Qualities. Freedom Mantle (+10 ft speed); Conflict Mantle (Weapon focus: whip), Destruction Mantle (Improved Sunder), Magic Mantle (magic/psionics transparency, UMD as class skill retroactively);
Saves: Fort 2, Refl 4, Will 5
Abilities: Str 12, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 13, Cha 14
Skills: 40 Points; Concentration 9, Craft (alchemy) 1, Hide 10, Knowledge (psionics) 4, Move Silently 8, Psicraft 10, Use Magic Devices 10
Feats: Speed of Thought, Martial Study: Shadow Hand (Shadow Blade Technique)
Possessions: Gloves of the Balancing Hand, Masterwork Dagger x2, Masterwork Whip, Chain Shirt.
Psionic Powers: 1° Dimension Hop, Metaphisic Weapon, Dissipating Touch; 2° Hustle, Psionic Lion’s Charge, Dissolving Weapon.
Maneuvers known: Shadow Blade Technique
Alignment: Chaotic Neutral

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Ardent Mantles suggests his philosophy and his alignment. With Freedom, Destruction, Conflict and Magic a gishy soul is suggested. Moreover, Freedom Mantle and Speed of Thought does stack and synergizes well, giving birth to a quicker than the eye character. Few psionic powers are compensate from both good selection and thematic synergies (improving touch and weapon damage is the key). Since Dexterity would be maxed since now, Weapon Finesse is a good choice. Mastial study not only grants a good maneuver, but also make Hide a class skill. It will come at use later.
At now, Balko is specialized to come first to the target and hit hard – especially useful against spellcasters.
He also uses Gloves of Balancing Hand to have Two Weapon Fighting as a possible option against weaker ACs.
Disclaimer: please also note that much of this build will be presented “as is”, mostly without magic weaponry. The resulting AC, to-hit, saves and damages would result lower than expected. This is done to show the inner strength of the build, magic items aside.






Winter’s time is just eat, cover and wait. The next spring the door would be opened again, but the coldest three months all the workers are stocked in the House. Every winter, someone dies. Less from natural causes and more out of hate, claustrophoby, other’s intolerance.
Balko was given death three against one. Either for Jab’s hand or his custom to exit in the hearth of the winter to “cool my mind”.

One night, sitting in the snow, he was whispering “They will kill me, they will kill me, they will….”
“Kill ‘em first, boy”. A voice from nothing.
He jumped on his feet, looking around: “Who’s there?”
“Look down. And seriously, boy, kill ‘em first”.
Balko looked down to see a small creature, something like a Imp of bard’s tales, but entirely covered by flames.
“Who the hell are you.”
“Hell? Not at all!” replied him “Abyss is my place, and I’m Firey”.
“Don’t listen to him!” answered a voice. Balko looked down just to see…
“This is impossible! You are…”
“Yes, a small angel. Yes, just like a shrink Solar. And yes, made of snow.” And it was just like that. “That said, please don’t listen to him. He just wants your soul to be devoured by the Abyss. Don’t do it.”
Balko’s jaw was mid air. “This… this… First of all, this is impossible. And then, guys, this is totally cliché!” One hand pointed at Firey, the other at the strange little angel. “come on! You sure are gonna tell me the story of the good guy and the bad guy, aren’t you?”
“I know, I know” said Firey, stepping in. “But the cliché is something invented to make this contrasts aknowageable even by the simpler of minds.” He smiled “Not everyone is mister smart guy ‘round there”.
“Besides” stepped in the angelic one “except for the cliché part, don’t listen to him: he lies any word he says.”
“I didn’t lied on the cliché thing” replied Firey “so the <he always lies> line is unfair, friend”.
C’mon, don’t start to argue, you know what I meant”
“No, I don’t, and by the way, you…”
Balko managed to win stupor and shouted: “Stop it! I don’t give a damn of your silly feud, just tell me what the hell” pause “Abyss are you come here to tell me”
“You’re gonna got killed.” Started Firey.
“Tonight” added the miniangel.
“Anw we’re here to advice you for the best route to keep”
“Yes, we are” confirmed the angel. “And by the way, I’m Winter’s Bless for the Lonely Ones. But call me Bless”.
“Yes, whatever” replied Balko. “Tell me who’s gonna kill me and why”
Suddenly, a reduced image of Jab and a couple of others strangling someone. Someone that was really similar to him.
“Okay, so what? Is this already written?” Answered him, in shock.
“Not at all, my good friend” answered Bless. “If you run away now, you can manage to…”
Firey stepped in, interrupting: “Yes, run. Run away without any miserable meal, in a wilderness darkness and in the heart of the winter. So you can manage to reach the next city which is… what? Fifty miles away? Sure…”
“It is the best route and besides…” was starting again Bless, but Balko asked Firey: “And so, what do you suggest?”
“Burn them all. Alive.” Managing to shut the protests of Bless, he continued “So you’ll have any resource the stores have all for yourself and you could depart at the end of the winter.”
“But you’ll have the burden fourty men dead by your hands.”
“What the fourty men have done for you, lately?”
The argument went on for half an hour, but at the end Balko asked “How can I start a so good fire?”
“Throw me” answered Firey “and my fire body will put everything on fire.”
And so he did, looking at the fire roaring at night, hearing the chant of the wood and the screams of the poor souls entrapped inside.
Smiling.

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Balko the Farmer, 5th level human Ardent, 5th level Pyrokineticist

HD: 5d6+5d8 (52 hp on average)
Init.: +3
Speed: 40 feet, 50 feet when psionically focused
AC: 17 (+4 armor, +3 dex)
Base atk: +6/1
Attack: +10 Dagger, mw, 1d4+1, +7 Whip, mw, 1d6+1; +10 touch Fire Lash 1d8; +9 touch attacks.
Full attack: +8/8/3 Daggers or +8/3 Dagger + 8 Fire Lash or 10/5 Dagger.
Attack opt.: Psioncs powers, Shadow Hand Technique – maneuver, Assassin’s Stance; Bolt of Fire
Special Qualities. Freedom Mantle (+10 ft speed); Conflict Mantle (Weapon focus: whip), Destruction Mantle (Improved Sunder), Magic Mantle (magic/psionics transparency, UMD as class skill retroactively); Fire Lash, Fire Adaptation, Hand Afire, Bolt of Fire, Weapon Afire, Nimbus.
Saves: Fort 6, Refl 8, Will 6
Abilities: Str 12, Dex 17, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 13, Cha 14
Skills: 65 Points; Assigned: Concentration 14, Craft (alchemy) 1, Hide 15, Knowledge (psionics) 6, Move Silently 13, Psicraft 15, Use Magic Devices 15
Feats: Speed of Thought, Martial Study: Shadow Hand (Shadow Blade Technique), Martial Stance: Assassin’s Stance, Dodge.
Possessions: Gloves of the Balancing Hand, Masterwork Dagger, Masterwork Whip, Chain Shirt.
Psionic Powers: 1° Dimension Hop, Metaphisic Weapon, Dissipating Touch; 2° Hustle, Psionic Lion’s Charge, Dissolving Weapon.
Maneuvers and Stances known: Shadow Blade Technique, Assassin’s Stance.
Alignment: ?

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Let’s look at synergies. Hustle and the buff from Pyrokineticist goes along pretty well: using a swift action (hustle) to gain a move action to use one of Fire Lash, Hand Afire, Weapon Afire and still have the full attack. Now the Fire Lash allows also a trip + damage combo (both are touch attacks).
Moreover, the few psionic powers chosen are focused either on movement or action economy (Dimension Hop, Hustle, Lion’s Charge) or adding extra damage to weapon or touch (Metaphisic Weapon, Dissipating Touch, Dissolving Weapon).
A good rank in UMD grants extra sidekicks and since Magic Mantle grants him complete magic/psionic transparency, he can use UMD even for psionic items. Have fun.
Slowly and painfully (at least for Move Silently), the character is becoming more and more stealthy, useful with Assassin’s Stance.
The hit and run tactics allows him to go for the big fish and retreat once killed, disabled and so.





Alone, in groups, in armies. All the time, Belko is guided by the two figures, the angel and the demon. The demon, pleased by the Worker’s House inferno, tutored him in the secret techniques of handling and exploiting initiate’s fire. His journey led him to the capital of his realm.
“What’s its name again?”
“Telflamm, Balko, Telflamm.” Answered Bless. “don’t kill anyone here, please.”
“No, don’t, he’s right. And, besides, there’s someone here I want you to know” added Firey.


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Balko the Farmer, 5th level human Ardent, 10th level Pyrokineticist

HD: 5d6+10d8 (79 hp on average)
Init.: +4
Speed: 40 feet, 50 feet when psionically focused
AC: 19 (+5 armor, +4 dex)
Base atk: +10/5
Attack: +15 Dagger, mw, 1d4+1, +12 Whip, mw, 1d6+1; +15 touch Fire Lash 1d8; +14 touch attacks.
Full attack: +13/13/8 Daggers or +13/8 Dagger + 13 Fire Lash or +15/10 Dagger.
Attack opt.: Psioncs powers, Shadow Hand Technique – maneuver, Assassin’s Stance; Bolt of Fire
Special Qualities. Freedom Mantle (+10 ft speed); Conflict Mantle (Weapon focus: whip), Destruction Mantle (Improved Sunder), Magic Mantle (magic/psionics transparency, UMD as class skill retroactively); Fire Lash, Fire Adaptation, Hand Afire, Bolt of Fire, Weapon Afire, Nimbus, Firewalk, Fear No Fire, Greater Weapon Afire, Heat Death, Conflagration.
Saves: Fort 9, Refl 11, Will 8
Abilities: Str 12, Dex 18, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 13, Cha 14
Skills: 90 Points; Assigned: Concentration 19, Craft (alchemy) 1, Hide 21, Knowledge (psionics) 10, Move Silently 18, Psicraft 20, Use Magic Devices 20
Feats: Speed of Thought, Martial Study: Shadow Hand (Shadow Blade Technique), Martial Stance: Assassin’s Stance, Dodge, Blind Fight, Mobility*, Spring Attack.
Possessions: Gloves of the Balancing Hand, Masterwork Dagger, Masterwork Whip, +1 Chain Shirt of Mobility*.
Psionic Powers: 1° Dimension Hop, Metaphisic Weapon, Dissipating Touch; 2° Hustle, Psionic Lion’s Charge, Dissolving Weapon.
Maneuvers and Stances known: Shadow Blade Technique, Assassin’s Stance.
Alignment: ?

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More mobility, more versatility, more damage. Spring attack chain, now, combined with Lion’s Charge, allows him to charge, hit and run away from reach, leaving behind him a huge amount of damage (in case of technical difficulties, add Hustle).
The Pyrokineticist is now over, leaving room for the end of the build. What will come next?





A bunch of shadows, which Balko now is, glanced at Bless. He upped his lips to mimic a hiss. His eyes are now telling him to shut up – in a very trivial way, too.
“You’re the only one that can hear me. And, by the way, don’t do it. I tell you anytime: don’t do it. Don’t kill your mark. Don’t do it.”
Balko is not listening. The old, bearded Waterdivian noble was walking just now down the alley. Two hours of wait were coming to a meaning just in that moment. He sprung out of the shadows, smiling a devilish smile and charging towards his mark.

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Balko the Farmer, 5th level human Ardent, 10th level Pyrokineticist, 5th leve Telflammar Shadowlord
HD: 10d6+10d8 (106 hp on average)
Init.: +5
Speed: 40 feet, 50 feet when psionically focused
AC: 20 (+5 armor, +5 dex)
Base atk: +13/8/3
Attack: +19 Dagger, mw, 1d4+1, +16 Whip, mw, 1d6+1; +19 touch Fire Lash 1d8; +18 touch attacks.
Full attack: +17/17/12/7 Daggers or +17/12 Dagger + 17 Fire Lash or +19/15/10 Dagger.
Attack opt.: Psioncs powers, Spells, Shadow Hand Technique – maneuver, Assassin’s Stance; Bolt of Fire, Conflagration
Special Qualities: Freedom Mantle (+10 ft speed); Conflict Mantle (Weapon focus: whip), Destruction Mantle (Improved Sunder), Magic Mantle (magic/psionics transparency, UMD as class skill retroactively); Fire Lash, Fire Adaptation, Hand Afire, Bolt of Fire, Weapon Afire, Nimbus, Firewalk, Fear No Fire, Greater Weapon Afire, Heat Death, Conflagration, Shadowsight (Improved Darkvision out of 60 ft), Shadow Jump (100 ft a day), Shadow Blur (20%), Shadow Walk, Shadow Pounce, Shadow Discorporation.
Saves: Fort 10, Refl 15, Will 9
Abilities: Str 12, Dex 20, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 13, Cha 14
Skills: 125 Points; Assigned: Concentration 24, Craft (alchemy) 1, Hide 27, Knowledge (psionics) 10, Move Silently 22, Psicraft 25, Use Magic Devices 25
Feats: Speed of Thought, Martial Study: Shadow Hand (Shadow Blade Technique), Martial Stance: Assassin’s Stance, Dodge, Blind Fight, Mobility*, Spring Attack, Martial Study: Hand of Death.
Possessions: Gloves of the Balancing Hand, Masterwork Dagger, Masterwork Whip, +1 Chain Shirt of Mobility.
Psionic Powers: 1° Dimension Hop, Metaphisic Weapon, Dissipating Touch; 2° Hustle, Psionic Lion’s Charge, Dissolving Weapon.
Maneuvers and Stances known: Shadow Blade Technique, Assassin’s Stance, Hand of Death.
Usual Spells: Invisibility, Shadow Mask, Shadow Spray; Nondetection, Vampiric touch; Darkbolt**
Alignment: ?

** Viable only if this character manages to have another +2 to Intelligence.

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Yes, nothing better than Telflammar Shadowlord to end this build. Some entry note is needed. Skill requirements are met by Martial Study: Shadow Hand, which gives Hide as a class skill, and a painful cross class investment in Move Silently. Feat requirements are also regularly met, except for Mobility, which is given by Mobility special ability (“virtual prerequisite” rule). Dimension hop power is practically identical to shadow jump prerequisite (so the “watch the effect, not the name” rule apply). +2d6 sneak attack is met by Assassin’s Stance.
That said, for judges’ sanity, the second PrC adds exceptional taste, more versatility and the always popular shadow pounce, to keep being effective in combat.
A regular first offensive turn now is: swift: Hustle; move from Hustle: Greater Weapon Afire; Standard: Dimension Hop/Shadow Jump near the weaker enemy (spellcaster?) and then full attack thanks to Shadow Pounce. Against tougher ACs he can use Dissipating Touch + Hand afire to a total of 8d6 unnamed damages and 4d6 fire damages. Or, before this, trip attack via Fire Lash. Or, before, Darkbolt the target with 3 bolts.
Hand of Death technique is the icing on the cake, as a final killing move.
This is obviously useless only if you meet a god-like, older than mountains wizard.




Sources

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It is not explicitly stated, but the most careful readers should have already noticed that Balko is a Faerunian character. See Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting.

Following, quotation of any non core material

Classes/Prestige Classes

Complete psionics: Ardent
Expanded Psionic Handbook: Pyrokineticist
Unapprochable East: Telflammar Shadowlord

Feats

Expanded Psionic Handbook/SRD:
Speed of Thought

Tome of Battle, Book of Nine Swords:
Martial Study
Martial Stance

Psionic Powers

Expanded Psionic Handbook/SRD:
Metaphisic Weapon, Dissipating Touch, Hustle, Psionic Lion's Charge, Dissolving Weapon

Complete Psionics:
Dimension Hop

Maneuvers

Tome of Battle, Book of Nine Swords

Spells

Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting:
Shadow Mask, Shadow Spray, Darkbolt

Items

Magic Item Compendium:
Gloves of the Balancing Hand
Mobility armor enhancement


An unexpecting end.

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The second after he touched the strange, bearded waterdivian, he… He opened the eyes and found himself in a totally empty space. Only a strange, pale figure in thousand and thousand of miles of gray light.
“Well, don’t take it bad sir, but welcome to your afterlife.”
“My what?” coughed Balko, enraged.
“Your afterlife, sir. What did you expect? You attacked Elminster! Even a child knows that is a creative suicide exploitation.”
He spat, rant, cursed every deity in front of the patient figure. Then, calmly, asked: “So, my final destination is Skandakaul’s reign or Mask’s Shadow? I was wandering since the ritual”.
“Well, sir, it seems it would be… Abyss”.
“Abyss? What the…? Why I should go to Abyss?”
“It seems, sir, that you’ve been mischieved to evil acts by a couple of fiends from this plane. So, in accordance with universal rules, your soul is their to use.”
“Wha…? Wait a minute, you said TWO fiends? Two? Who the heck is the second?”
“It seems it is me”. Answered a voice from his back. He turned, but it was not necessary. He knew that voice very well. “Bless?!? Are you sorta kinda kidding me?”
“Not at all, my friend. You said it yourself: a good and an evil advisor is a total cliché. So what if both of them were evil and the “good” one argumented every time with a bit less of persuasion and efficacy than the “bad” one?”
“I suppose the poor advised would slowly and unadvertedly shift toward evil”
“Good point, Firey, good point” Bless nodded to the new come fellow and continued. “So it seems we did a good job, and now your soul is ours.”
“You, bloody damned son of…”
“Yes, yes, but, by the way, aren’t you damned too?”