Fire is like tape. If it isn't working, you just need more.
Quote Originally Posted by MiLaash
Diary of Dalgoth the Bard
War of the Weeping Clouds, Day 194

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I awoke this morning and crawled out of my tent promptly, even though it was drizzling again. As usual, cute, golden-brown-skinned MiLaash was already up and cooking some of her delicious spiced apple porridge over a large campfire. One of these days, I have to set an Alarm spell and see if I can wake up before her, so I could check what she does during her night watch before starting to prepare breakfast.

She saw me and a huge smile came over her angular features. “Morning, Dal!” she called brightly. “Come talk?”

I smiled back, in spite of myself, and staggered over to the log opposite her. Her large, deep brown eyes danced between me, the breakfast, and the cloudy sky as she prattled. Prattled about the rain, the three owls that had flown past the camp during her watch, her favorite song that I sometimes played on my flute, and the way Gnorrus the Mage snores.

MiLaash was always a mystery. The most she’d ever told us about herself, really, was that -- contrary to what we all expected -- she claimed to have no elven blood. Normally, we just left it at that. But today, something particularly bothered me about her demeanor. Maybe it was the sheer contrast between her bubbly conversation and her tears yesterday ...

Yesterday was the zenith of the great Battle of the Crumbling Tower, and MiLaash single-handedly burned down a keep full of ice devils. The odd thing is, she sobbed throughout the entire process. If anything, she’s usually a bit vicious in the way she attacks our foes, especially when she gets a chance to burn down one of their strongholds; but yesterday she had sobbed so hard throughout the battle, I was surprised she hadn’t extinguished her own arson. Just being near her had made me feel like it was the worst day of my life; like there was no hope to win this war. Like a little boy whose birthday was spoiled by the ale going sour ... and having a fight with his best friend ... and being scolded by his father over a misunderstanding. And then breaking his arm.

Yet, MiLaash kept fighting valiantly, even though she was apparently experiencing the same level of despair and emotional turmoil. And as the battle raged on, I kept wondering anew: What motivates her? What keeps her passionate? Why is she in this war at all?

Well, it’s not for nothing that I have been carefully making friends with her, morning after early morning, for many months. This morning, I finally dared to broach some questions about her past. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m very glad you’re on our side ... but why? What has involved you in this war in the first place?”

She paused for a long, silent moment before answering. I could tell she was trying to decide if she trusted me enough to answer. “It is my destiny,” she finally replied. “Fighting the Dark Lord Morrann ... beating him ... it’s what I was born for.”

“Born for?” I dared to prompt.

She nodded and was silent for another long moment. “My mother was a celestial of some sort ... an Aasimar, I think they’re called? She did a lot of research before I was born about how and when it should happen -- what day of the year I should be born, and where, and all that, so that I would be a ... a being of power, destined to overthrow the Dark Lord. When I was born in the magic-charged groves of the Fey on midsummer’s eve, it should have prevented this entire war.”

“What went wrong?”

“I was born with horns.”

Me:

“VelaaVuna, the Fey Queen that my mother mostly consulted with, turned out to be one of the Dark Lord’s spies, an expert in heretical magics. And my birth was actually arranged so that I would be possessed, from birth, by a mad fire spirit. With horns.

“My mother despaired as soon as VelaaVuna’s treachery was discovered. She abandoned me to grow up in the madness of the Fey Court. VelaaVuna, though, was so proud of how I turned out ... she raised me as her own. I know she’s evil, she’s terrible, but ... I love her anyway.”

“But you’re against her in this war?”

MiLaash nodded. “I may still be possessed by mad spirits at times ... like yesterday. I may be the most dangerous sort of warrior, with dark curses lashing from my lips and fire spewing from my sinews. But none of that determines my side in this war.

“What motivates me? Destiny. If I -- no, when I overthrow the Dark Lord, it will validate my existence with my mother the Absent Aasimar, and wrack her with guilt for having abandoned me. And it will show VelaaVuna that, no matter how much she raised me to love her, no matter how much she meddled with my birth, I will never be hers. They shall both pay for how they have wronged me.”

I sat silently to take it all in. The rain pattered against the leaves throughout the campsite.

“Porridge?” MiLaash asked sweetly.


MiLaash
CN Half-Fey Lesser Aasimar LA +2 / Binder 5 / Hexblade 4 / Pyrokineticist 9


Starting ability scores:
Str 13; Dex 12; Con 15; Int 10; Wis 10; Cha 19
Final ability scores:
Str 19; Dex 16; Con 19; Int 10; Wis 12; Cha 38

{table=head]Level | Class | Features | Feats
1 | Binder | soul binding | Hidden Talent (dimension hop)
2 | Hexblade | hexblade’s curse 1/day |
3 | Binder | suppress sign, pact augmentation 1 | Azure Talent {MoI}
4 | Hexblade | arcane resistance |
5 | Binder | |
6 | Pyrokineticist | fire lash | Power Attack
7 | Pyrokineticist | fire adaptation; hand afire |
8 | Pyrokineticist | bolt of fire |
9 | Pyrokineticist | weapon afire | Psycarnum Infusion {MoI}
10 | Pyrokineticist | nimbus |
11 | Pyrokineticist | firewalk |
12 | Pyrokineticist | fear no fire | Psionic Meditation
13 | Pyrokineticist | greater weapon afire |
14 | Pyrokineticist | heat death |
15 | LA | Dex +2, Cha +2, Con -2, fey type, low-light vision, saving throw bonuses, SLAs |
16 | Hexblade | mettle | Ability Focus (heat death) {MM}
17 | Binder | | [Bonus] Improved Binding
18 | Hexblade | dark companion {PHB2} |
19 | LA | Wis +2, Cha +2, immunity to enchantment, wings, more SLAs |
20 | Binder | pact augmentation 2 | Shape Soulmeld (lucky dice) {MoI}
[/table]

Skills: Concentration, Intimidate. With a few points dipped in Know(psionics) and Craft(alchemy) for prereqs, Craft(spicy food) for flavor (pun not intended), and Use Psionic Device (because hey, why not?).

Vestiges
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At low levels (starting from Level 1), Amon and Aym are both excellent vestige choices. Both play very well with the “fire” theme of the character; Amon gives a breath weapon, while Aym gives resistance and a fire shield halo. Also, at low levels, Amon’s charging ram’s horn attack and Aym’s Halo touch attack are both very powerful abilities.

Naberius is also available from low levels and has several attractive abilities -- most particularly the ability to use Diplomacy and Bluff in combat, which synergizes well with MeLaash’s extremely high Charisma.

At mid-levels, while MiLaash is taking Pyrokineticist levels, there aren’t any amazing vestiges to use (since all their decent offensive abilities scale with effective Binder level, which is punished by multiclassing). Aym is still decent; Malphas has poor combat abilities but his out-of-combat utility (scouting abilities) are pretty cool; and Savnok is probably the best choice overall, with some good defensive abilities.

From Level 17 on, Focalor becomes the standard vestige to bind, mostly for the Aura of Sadness ability. (Incidentally, the diary entry in the “Fluff” section of the build takes place at Level 17, when MiLaash’s ability to bind Focalor is new, and some of her more visible and unusual abilities (Dark Companion and Lucky Dice) haven’t come into play yet.) Paimon is also a viable choice to bind -- Whirlwind Attack with Fire Lash is a fun combo, if not exactly strong at high levels, and a Dexterity boost never hurts.

At Level 20, Andras incidentally becomes available, and gives some decent melee abilities. He’s probably still a worse vestige choice than Focalor most of the time, but if (for example) you expect to be fighting monsters that are immune to Mind-Affecting, he’s a good alternative.


Spells and SLAs
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At Level 18, MiLaash learns two Hexblade spells (4/day). Level 1 spells obviously aren’t going to add to her combat power at this point, so they might as well just be useful utilities, like Presitdigitation or Unseen Servant or Detect Magic. The nicest thing about them, really, might be the fact that they allow MiLaash to use whatever ranks she’s picked up in Craft (alchemy), even if your DM enforces the anal restrictions on that skill 100%.

Spell-Like Abilities from Half-Fey, however, are not nearly so useless. With Charisma-based save DCs, Confusion, Dominate Person, Mass Charm, and Insanity all become fairly viable attacks. And nobody minds having Glitterdust, Faerie Fire, or Protection from Law around, even at high levels.


Tricky Things and Items
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By the closest reading of RAW I’ve been able to do, there’s nothing that says that the temporary Power Points granted by Azure Talent go away if the feat no longer has essentia invested in it (i.e. if the essentia “invested” in it was temporary essentia from using Psycarnum Infusion). Therefore, with the investment of a few feats, I’ve essentially given MiLaash a medium pool of Power Points on a per-encounter basis, to power her mobility (Dimension Hop and Firewalk).

Even if you think that’s a dirty trick and you wouldn’t allow it, I hope it doesn’t hurt MiLaash’s Elegance scores too much, since it’s not really crucial to the build overall. I did think it was fun to build a character with a psionic PrC (which depends in a minor way on PP) without taking a single level of any classes that grant PP.

I picked up Lucky Dice at Level 20 to make Psycarnum Infusion get more mileage, and to continue the “theme” of MiLaash being an Incarnum-using character.

I didn’t manage to fit Two-Weapon Fighting into the build. However, it can still be acquired by buying Gloves of the Balanced Hand (MIC). That way, MiLaash can attack with her Fire Lash and punch somebody with Hand Afire (and possibly also use a vestige-granted natural attack) all in the same round.

At later levels, when MiLaash will sometimes be wanting to spend her move action on recovering Psionic Focus, various items from Tome of Battle can still allow her to make more than one attack with her fiery weapons. Novice Tiger Claw Bracers (wolf fang strike) seem particularly appropriate. At very high levels, with lots of wealth, I also encourage buying a Psicrown of the Evader, for manifesting Hustle.

For the record, MiLaash's final ability scores assume the following items:
  • Tome of Leadership and Influence +5
  • Str +6
  • Dex +4
  • Con +6
  • Cha +6



General Power Discussion
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First, I just want to say that Hidden Talent (dimension hop) is a fantastically useful feat at very low levels, before you can afford Anklets of Translocation.

At low levels, MiLaash should be quite powerful just from her Binder abilities before they’re diluted too much from multiclassing.

The first three Hexblade levels don’t help much offensively (although with MiLaash’s Charisma, the Curse just might stick!), but they’re nice for the d10 Hit Die, Charisma to all saves vs. spells, and Mettle. Speaking of Charisma synergy, remember that it also governs her Binder pact making checks and Save DCs.

Levels 6-13 have no real “trick” about them ... just hit things as much as possible with some combination of a fiery touch-attack whip, a fiery fist (possibly as a touch attack, once you have Nimbus), a vestige-granted natural attack, and any other weapon of your choice (again, on fire, at high enough levels). And Power Attack. I think the combination of all of these, plus excellent mobility and the occasional miscellaneous Vestige power, should keep MiLaash pretty viable through the middle levels.

The real focus of the build, though, is using Heat Death as effectively as possible. A save-or-die ability on a nonspellcaster character, with no limit of uses per day, and a 30-foot range? Not burdened with the [Death], [Fire], [Fear], or [Mind-Affecting] tags? Yes please!

Heat Death should have a DC of 22 when you first get it. That’s a little bit wimpy for Level 14 ... so the rest of the build focuses on increasing it. By Level 20, the Heat Death DC should be 30, which is quite respectable. And that’s before you factor in an extra +2 bonus while using Nimbus, or the way your opponents should have their saves reduced by -4 from Dark Companion and Aura of Sadness. (And occasionally an additional -2 from the Hexblade Curse.)

Against tough opponents like bosses, MiLaash at higher levels should be spamming Heat Death every other round (or every round with Psicrown of the Evader). On the off-rounds, she can regain her psionic focus and either throw out a vestige-based attack ability, or make a Fire Lash Power Attack.