Someone's compensating for something.
Quote Originally Posted by Ruszel
Organization: The Slithering Guild
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There are many thieves’ guilds throughout the land: hotbeds of larceny, training grounds of subterfuge, and birthplaces of backstabs. But the Slitherers, in the tropical city of Zirraen, are unique among all their competitors. How could they not be, when the chances are good that a poisoned guild member was attacked naturally by a scorpion, rather than being assassinated? When there is little need to set a guard around the guild’s armory at night, since it is surrounded by a moat full of crocodiles anyway?

Type: Thieves’ guild
Background and Goals
Acquire wealth. Protect the sultan of Zirraen from would-be assassins. Advance the sciences of brewing poisons and antidotes and safely rearing venomous creatures.

Criterion Modifiers for Guild Membership
Character level: +1/3 levels
Eunuch: +1
Bluff 5 ranks: +1
Sneak Attack class feature: +1
Poison Use class feature: +3
Having venomous snakes or scorpions trained and under control: +1/2 each (limit +3)
Having a venomous creature as a familiar, animal companion, or similar: +2
Having assassinated someone in the service of the guild: +1 each (limit +3)
Having assassinated someone within the guild via poison: +1
Having prevented an assassination by poison within the guild (including against oneself): +2
Having papers of recommendation from the city clergy: +2
Having prevented the sultan’s assassination: +7
Member of another thieves’ guild: -5
Earning the sultan’s enmity: -15

Affiliation ScoreTitle: Benefits and Duties
4 or less: cutthroat-for-hire or not affiliated.
5-10: Guild worker - can be hired to guard guild property or go on guild missions that involve confidential information.
11-13: Guild agent - +2 circumstance bonus to Fortitude saves vs. poison and Craft (poisonmaking) checks.
14-17: Elite agent - Access to guild harems
18-21: Forked Tongue Operative - +2 circumstance bonus to Bluff and Disguise checks.
22-24: Member of the Twisting Coil - Access to guild treasuries
25 or higher: Guildmaster - Considered a bodyguard to the sultan. Receive free healing services from court clergy. In line for succession to leadership of the entire guild.


Guildmaster Ruszel of the Slithering Guild
As you are escorted into the central hub of the guild -- what you could only call a throne room -- you see the man who has summoned you, surrounded by guildthieves waving fans.

The air is hot and thick and feels hard to see through, but you make out that Guildmaster Ruszel is a stocky man with a shiny bald head and well-toned muscles, possibly oiled. He wears a vest and a sort of a toga wrap, small earrings and large finger-rings; his hand holds a coiled whip, and his eyes look sharp enough to match it. But his most striking feature, as you approach closer, is that his cloak is held in place by a live tiny viper coiled around his neck.

You suppose you actually shouldn’t be too surprised, considering the number of snakes that inhabit the rest of the throne room ...

Backstory
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Ruszel was raised as one of the waifs wandering the royal court. His mother, a minor lady of Zirraen, tried terribly hard to keep him innocent of the intrigues of court life. However, she was well-versed in the realities of Zirraen power, and made sure her bright young boy had a strong foundational education in animal handling, apothecary work, and contortionist exercises.

Ruszel was always of solid stature, and in adolescence he was quickly drafted into the palace guard. He was talented with a ranseur, either for disarming opponents or for supporting his fellow guards as they fought. Before long, he was assigned to guard a caravan of the Slithering Guild, and a temporary assignment grew into a permanent association.

Initially Ruszel was ridiculed and mocked harshly by Forked Tongue Operative Malus, who was in charge of training new recruits. He said Ruszel didn't have what it took to be a real guildthief: ruthlessness or enough talent with poisons. In spite of the oppression the boy was talented, and turned his focus towards rearing and training snakes, figuring out what tasks they could do in his behalf.

Eventually Ruszel's mother was killed in a political struggle, and he inherited a magic Amulet from her, which grew in power as his skills grew. Malus was cold and hardened about her death. Ruszel couldn't take that ... so finally one night, he killed Malus and created an opening that let him get promoted within the guild.

After this act of vengeance, he finally developed the things he would need (i.e. an evil alignment) to master poison use and become a veritable assassin. Increased ruthlessness, a pattern of promotion, and his ever-increasing talent with control of all snakes led him quickly up the guild's ladder hierarchy.


{table=head]Level|Class|Base Attack[br]Bonus|Fort Save|Ref Save|Will Save|Skills|Feats|Class Features

1st | Factotum |
+0
|
+0
|
+2
|
+0
| Heal 4, Handle Animal 4, Escape Artist 4, Craft (poisonmaking) 4, Survival 4, Bluff 4, Diplomacy 4, Disguise 4, Listen 4, Knowledge (nature) 2, Use Rope 1, Tumble 1 | Combat Reflexes, Stand Still | Trapfinding, Inspiration (2), Cunning Knowledge, Cunning Insight

2nd | Factotum |
+1
|
+0
|
+3
|
+0
| Heal 5, Handle Animal 5, Escape Artist 5, Craft (poisonmaking) 5, Survival 5, Bluff 5, Diplomacy 5, Disguise 5, Listen 4, Knowledge (nature) 2, Use Rope 1, Tumble 1; healing hands | | Inspiration (3), Arcane Dilettante (1 cantrip)

3rd | Factotum |
+2
|
+1
|
+3
|
+1
| Bluff 6, Handle Animal 6, Escape Artist 6, Craft (poisonmaking) 6, Listen 6, Heal 5, Survival 5, Diplomacy 5, Disguise 5, Knowledge (nature) 2, Sleight of Hand 1, Open Lock 1, Use Rope 1, Tumble 1; healing hands, second impression | Skill Focus (handle animal) | Arcane Dilettante (level 1), Brains over Brawn, Cunning Defense

4th | Factotum |
+3
|
+1
|
+4
|
+1
| Bluff 7, Handle Animal 7, Escape Artist 7, Craft (poisonmaking) 7, Listen 7, Heal 5, Survival 5, Diplomacy 5, Disguise 5, Knowledge (nature) 2, Hide 2, Move Silently 1, Sleight of Hand 1, Open Lock 1, Search 1, Disable Device 1, Use Rope 1, Tumble 1; healing hands, second impression | INT +1 | Arcane Dilettante (2 spells), Cunning Strike

5th | Factotum |
+3
|
+1
|
+4
|
+1
| Bluff 8, Handle Animal 8, Escape Artist 8, Craft (poisonmaking) 8, Listen 8, Heal 5, Survival 5, Diplomacy 5, Disguise 5, Knowledge (nature) 2, Hide 3, Move Silently 3, Sleight of Hand 1, Open Lock 1, Search 1, Disable Device 1, Use Rope 1, Tumble 1; healing hands, second impression, social recovery | | Inspiration (4), Arcane Dilettante (level 2), Opportunistic Piety

6th | Beastmaster |
+4
|
+3
|
+6
|
+1
| Bluff 8, Handle Animal 9, Escape Artist 8, Craft (poisonmaking) 8, Listen 9, Heal 5, Survival 5, Diplomacy 5, Disguise 5, Knowledge (nature) 2, Hide 6, Move Silently 6, Sleight of Hand 1, Open Lock 1, Search 1, Disable Device 1, Use Rope 1, Tumble 1; healing hands, second impression, social recovery | Exotic Weapon Proficiency (whip) | Animal Companion, Wild Empathy

7th | Factotum |
+5
|
+4
|
+7
|
+2
| Bluff 10, Handle Animal 10, Escape Artist 10, Craft (poisonmaking) 8, Listen 9, Hide 6, Move Silently 6, Heal 5, Survival 5, Diplomacy 5, Disguise 5, Tumble 3, Knowledge (nature) 2, Sleight of Hand 1, Open Lock 1, Search 1, Disable Device 1, Use Rope 1, Use Magic Device 1, Concentration 1, Autohypnosis 1; healing hands, second impression, social recovery | |

8th | Snakelord |
+6/+1
|
+6
|
+9
|
+2
| Bluff 10, Handle Animal 11, Escape Artist 11, Craft (poisonmaking) 8, Listen 10, Hide 7, Move Silently 7, Heal 5, Survival 5, Diplomacy 5, Disguise 5, Tumble 3, Intimidate 2, Knowledge (nature) 2, Sleight of Hand 1, Open Lock 1, Search 1, Disable Device 1, Use Rope 1, Use Magic Device 1, Concentration 1, Autohypnosis 1; healing hands, escape attack, second impression, social recovery | INT +1 | Animal Bond, detect animals

9th | Snakelord |
+7/+2
|
+7
|
+10
|
+2
| Bluff 10, Handle Animal 12, Escape Artist 12, Craft (poisonmaking) 8, Listen 11, Hide 8, Move Silently 8, Heal 5, Survival 5, Diplomacy 5, Disguise 5, Tumble 3, Intimidate 4, Knowledge (nature) 2, Sleight of Hand 1, Open Lock 1, Search 1, Disable Device 1, Use Rope 1, Use Magic Device 1, Concentration 1, Autohypnosis 1; healing hands, escape attack, quick escape, second impression, social recovery | Natural Bond | First Totem (+4 Escape Artist), Low-Light Vision

10th | Snakelord |
+8/+3
|
+7
|
+10
|
+3
| Bluff 10, Handle Animal 13, Escape Artist 13, Craft (poisonmaking) 8, Listen 12, Hide 9, Move Silently 9, Heal 5, Survival 5, Diplomacy 5, Disguise 5, Tumble 3, Intimidate 8, Knowledge (nature) 2, Sleight of Hand 1, Open Lock 1, Search 1, Disable Device 1, Use Rope 1, Use Magic Device 1, Concentration 1, Autohypnosis 1; healing hands, escape attack, quick escape, second impression, social recovery | | Wild Aspect 1/day

11th | Factotum |
+9/+4
|
+7
|
+10
|
+3
| Bluff 13, Handle Animal 13, Escape Artist 13, Craft (poisonmaking) 8, Listen 12, Hide 9, Move Silently 9, Heal 5, Survival 5, Diplomacy 5, Disguise 5, Use Rope 5, Tumble 6, Intimidate 8, Knowledge (nature) 2, Sleight of Hand 1, Open Lock 1, Search 1, Disable Device 1, Use Magic Device 1, Concentration 1, Autohypnosis 1, Forgery 1; healing hands, escape attack, quick escape, second impression, social recovery | | Arcane Dilettante (3 spells)

12th | Factotum |
+10/+5
|
+7
|
+11
|
+3
| Bluff 15, Handle Animal 14, Escape Artist 14, Craft (poisonmaking) 8, Listen 12, Hide 10, Move Silently 10, Heal 5, Survival 5, Diplomacy 5, Disguise 5, Use Rope 5, Tumble 9, Intimidate 8, Knowledge (nature) 2, Sleight of Hand 1, Open Lock 1, Search 1, Disable Device 1, Use Magic Device 1, Concentration 1, Autohypnosis 1, Forgery 1; healing hands, escape attack, quick escape, second impression, social recovery, whip climber | Martial Stance (thicket of blades); INT +1 | Inspiration (5), Arcane Dilettante (level 3), Cunning Surge

13th | Snakelord |
+11/+6/+1
|
+8
|
+12
|
+3
| Bluff 15, Handle Animal 16, Escape Artist 16, Craft (poisonmaking) 8, Listen 13, Hide 12, Move Silently 12, Heal 5, Survival 5, Diplomacy 5, Disguise 5, Use Rope 5, Tumble 9, Intimidate 8, Knowledge (nature) 2, Sleight of Hand 1, Open Lock 1, Search 1, Disable Device 1, Use Magic Device 1, Concentration 1, Autohypnosis 1, Forgery 1; healing hands, escape attack, quick escape, second impression, social recovery, whip climber | | speak with animals

14th | Assassin |
+11/+6/+1
|
+8
|
+14
|
+3
| Bluff 17, Handle Animal 16, Escape Artist 16, Craft (poisonmaking) 8, Listen 13, Hide 13, Move Silently 13, Tumble 12, Heal 5, Survival 5, Diplomacy 5, Disguise 5, Use Rope 5, Intimidate 8, Knowledge (nature) 2, Sleight of Hand 1, Open Lock 1, Search 1, Disable Device 1, Use Magic Device 1, Concentration 1, Autohypnosis 1, Forgery 1; acrobatic backstab, healing hands, escape attack, quick escape, second impression, social recovery, whip climber | | Sneak Attack +1d6, Death Attack, Poison Use, Spells

15th | Snakelord |
+12/+7/+2
|
+8
|
+14
|
+3
| Bluff 17, Handle Animal 18, Escape Artist 18, Craft (poisonmaking) 8, Listen 14, Hide 14, Move Silently 14, Tumble 12, Heal 5, Survival 5, Diplomacy 5, Disguise 5, Use Rope 5, Intimidate 8, Knowledge (nature) 2, Sleight of Hand 1, Open Lock 1, Search 1, Disable Device 1, Use Magic Device 1, Concentration 1, Autohypnosis 1, Forgery 1; acrobatic backstab, healing hands, escape attack, quick escape, second impression, social recovery, timely misdirection, whip climber | Craven | summon animal

16th | Uncanny Trickster |
+12/+7/+2
|
+8
|
+16
|
+3
| Bluff 19, Handle Animal 18, Escape Artist 19, Craft (poisonmaking) 10, Listen 17, Hide 17, Move Silently 17, Tumble 12, Heal 5, Survival 5, Diplomacy 5, Disguise 5, Use Rope 5, Intimidate 8, Knowledge (nature) 2, Sleight of Hand 1, Open Lock 1, Search 1, Disable Device 1, Use Magic Device 1, Concentration 1, Autohypnosis 1, Forgery 1; acrobatic backstab, assume quirk, healing hands, escape attack, quick escape, second impression, social recovery, timely misdirection, whip climber | INT +1 | Bonus Trick, Favorite Trick (second impression)

17th | Snakelord |
+13/+8/+3
|
+9
|
+17
|
+4
| Bluff 19, Handle Animal 20, Escape Artist 20, Craft (poisonmaking) 10, Listen 18, Hide 19, Move Silently 19, Tumble 12, Heal 5, Survival 5, Diplomacy 5, Disguise 5, Use Rope 5, Intimidate 8, Knowledge (nature) 2, Sleight of Hand 1, Open Lock 1, Search 1, Disable Device 1, Use Magic Device 1, Concentration 1, Autohypnosis 1, Forgery 1; acrobatic backstab, assume quirk, healing hands, escape attack, never outnumbered, quick escape, second impression, social recovery, timely misdirection, whip climber | Improved Initiative | Second Totem (feat), Wild Aspect 2/day

18th | Uncanny Trickster |
+14/+9/+4
|
+9
|
+18
|
+4
| Bluff 21, Handle Animal 20, Escape Artist 21, Craft (poisonmaking) 10, Listen 20, Hide 21, Move Silently 21, Tumble 12, Heal 5, Survival 5, Diplomacy 5, Disguise 5, Use Rope 5, Intimidate 8, Use Magic Device 6, Knowledge (nature) 2, Sleight of Hand 1, Open Lock 1, Search 1, Disable Device 1, Concentration 1, Autohypnosis 1, Forgery 1; acrobatic backstab, assume quirk, healing hands, escape attack, listen to this, never outnumbered, quick escape, second impression, social recovery, timely misdirection, whip climber | Darkstalker | Bonus Trick, Favorite Trick (social recovery), animal growth

19th | Snakelord |
+15/+10/+5
|
+9
|
+18
|
+4
| Bluff 21, Handle Animal 22, Escape Artist 22, Craft (poisonmaking) 12, Listen 22, Hide 22, Move Silently 22, Tumble 12, Heal 5, Survival 5, Diplomacy 5, Disguise 5, Use Rope 5, Intimidate 9, Use Magic Device 6, Knowledge (nature) 2, Sleight of Hand 1, Open Lock 1, Search 1, Disable Device 1, Concentration 1, Autohypnosis 1, Forgery 1; acrobatic backstab, assume quirk, healing hands, escape attack, listen to this, never outnumbered, quick escape, second impression, social recovery, timely misdirection, whip climber | | Animal Telepathy

20th | Uncanny Trickster |
+16/+11/+6/+1
|
+10
|
+18
|
+5
| Bluff 23, Handle Animal 22, Escape Artist 23, Craft (poisonmaking) 15, Listen 23, Hide 23, Move Silently 23, Tumble 12, Heal 5, Survival 5, Diplomacy 5, Disguise 5, Use Rope 5, Intimidate 10, Use Magic Device 8, Knowledge (local) 5, Knowledge (nature) 2, Sleight of Hand 1, Open Lock 1, Search 1, Disable Device 1, Concentration 1, Autohypnosis 1, Forgery 1; acrobatic backstab, assume quirk, collector of stories, healing hands, escape attack, listen to this, never outnumbered, quick escape, second impression, social recovery, timely misdirection, whip climber | CON +1 | Bonus Trick, Favorite Trick (acrobatic backstab), Tricky Defense, Wild Aspect 3/day

[/table]

Initial and final ability scores:
Str 14, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 16, Wis 8, Cha 12
Str 20, Dex 18, Con 22, Int 30, Wis 12, Cha 16

Equipment
Besides standard equipment, the most important thing is for Ruszel to pick up a Novice Devoted Spirit Amulet before he can take Martial Stance, and a Ring of Evasion. Because ... well, with that Reflex save, how can you not buy one? .

Other comments
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I didn't get everything in this build to work out the way I'd like. So I'll just comment on its flaws before the judges have a chance to.

I dipped two prestige classes for one level each. That's unfortunate, but I felt that dipping Beastmaster was more elegant than adding a second base class (like Druid) to getting an animal companion. I wanted to keep Ruszel's base class pure Factotum ... because this is utterly unlike any other Factotum build I've seen, and moreover Factotum is the only class with the combination of abilities to pull this type of build off.

As for Assassin, I would have skipped it in spite of how powerful Craven is, except that its flavor was so perfect -- Poison Use, and the mechanics of sneak attack making his snake minions much more potent (since they can flank, and constrictors are good at grappling). Note that Craven's prerequisite says "sneak attack class feature," so neither Cunning Strike nor Assassin's Stance would technically qualify.

The build also does not complete Animal Lord -- but note that it essentially completes 9/10 of the class, not 7/10 as it appears on first glance, since Uncanny Trickster progresses Animal Lord in pretty much all ways (except a couple hit points). The final level of Animal Lord would grant +2 Charisma, which is flavorful but fairly useless for this build. I thought about dropping 3 levels of Uncanny Trickster in favor of 3 levels of Animal Lord, but it felt like it just would have lost some of the character's flavor overall.

Since I'm running out of time to write more details, I hope the power of the build is mostly self-evident. But I'll try to give a summary:

He's a very competent skillmonkey at all levels. Traps aren't his specialty, but many campaigns don't include more than one trap per day, and he at least has the basic abilities (considering Cunning Knowledge). Stealth? Scouting? Social rogue functions? All excellent.

He's also a good melee battlefield controller. Feats and a reach weapon make him great from Level 1, and eventually a dagger whip (not a regular whip, obviously; if dagger whip isn't allowed, change his Exotic Proficiency to Spiked Chain or Kusari-Gama instead of whip!) and Craven damage boosts, he'll be a monster in melee. And then consider the snakes! Summoned snakes, purchased and trained snakes, and a snake animal companion most of all. He ends up with an effective Druid level of 16 for purposes of his snake companion, which is respectable. Throw in the occasional poisonous bite from Wild Aspect, and the occasional extra attack from Cunning Surge.

If he's up against a losing battle, his standard tactic is surrender, counting on his Bluff checks to keep him alive, so that he might have more opportunities to use his excellent Escape Artist skills which are iconic to the Snakelord.

Miscellaneous skill tricks and minor magical tricks (Assassin and Factotum spells) round out the build. Note that his favorite Facotum spell will be Heroics, which among other uses lets him temporarily learn Martial Study (foehammer) as a prerequisite to Martial Stance (thicket of blades), so that he's not fully dependent on his Amulet to be able to take that feat.