The Bound Scholar
"I am currently studying Amon, the fire breath is pushed beyond it's normal levels by the application of my studies."
-Shamus The Firey, Dragonborn Binder
Bound Scholars are binders which have taken up the extensive study of a specific vestige. They use this knowledge to boost their vestige granted abilities and fight more effectively.
Becoming a Bound Scholar
To become a bound scholar, one only needs to take levels as a binder. Some binders find it helpful to study as a cloistered cleric prior to this, although it provides no benefit for bound scholars beyond the knowledge.
However, to become a bound scholar, it does require that a binder is willing to devote herself to a single vestige for extended periods of time, although not permanently.
Concentration 8 ranks, Knowledge(arcana) 4 ranks, Knowledge(history) 8 ranks, Knowledge(religion) 4 ranks, Knowledge(the planes) 4 ranks
Favored Vestige (first studied vestige)
Able to bind a 4th-level vestige
The Bound Scholar's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Bluff(Cha), Concentration(Con), Craft(Int), Decipher Script(Int), Diplomacy(Cha), Gather Information(Cha), Intimidate(Cha), Knowledge(all skills, taken individually)(Int), Profession(Wis), Sense Motive(Wis)
Skills Points at Each Level:
4 + Int modifier
|Level||Base Attack Bonus||Fort Save||Ref Save||Will Save||Special|
|Studied Vestige, Friend of Favored, Hefty Devotion, Soul Binding +1|
|Applied Knowledge +1, Soul Binding +2|
|Skilled Learner, Soul Binding +3|
|Applied Knowledge +2, Soul Binding +4|
|Applied Knowledge +3, Free Binding, Rapid Binding, Soul Binding +5|
At each bound scholar level, your soul binding ability improves as if you had also gained a level in the binder class. Thus, your bound scholar levels and binder levels stack for the purpose of determining your bonus on binding checks, the effectiveness of your vestige-granted abilities, your ability to bind higher-level vestiges, and the number of vestiges you can bind. You do not, however, gain any other beneﬁt a binder would have gained.
Studied Vestige (Ex):
As a bound scholar you devote yourself to a single vestige in order to learn it's secrets. At level one you form a personal link with the vestige that you possess the favored vestige feat for. This vestige is the sole recipient of all bonuses from the bound scholar class.
Change Studied (Ex):
At every other level (including levels other than bound scholar levels) you may change your studied vestige, as well as the favored vestige feat and it's corresponding feat tree, to any other vestige you can bind. After completing such a study, you create a tradable manuscript about the vestige which grants a +5 bonus to all binding checks made with the completed vestige.
Friend Of Favored (Su):
You need not worry about making bad pacts with any vestige that you have the favored vestige feat for. You may also hide or reveal the vestige's sign at will, as the suppress sign class feature.
Hefty Devotion (Ex):
You need to bind with your studied vestige in order to study it and receive it's benefit. By entering the agreement that gives you the chance to learn from the vestige in depth, certain requirements are set. Any time that you don't have your studied vestige bound, you take a -4 penalty to your effective binder level for all purposes, including level of vestige that can be bound. You may always summon your studied vestige however.
Applied Knowledge (Su):
The secrets you have gained from studying your favored vestige allow you to enhance the binder level of that vestige beyond the feat. At level 2 you can boost the vestige's binder level by an additional +1 (for a total of +2). At level 4 and 5, it gains another +1 bonus (for a total of +4 including the feat at level 5).
Skilled Learner (Ex):
Your studies have granted you a bonus to your knowledge skills. You gain a bonus to all knowledge checks equal to 2 x your bound scholar levels.
Free Binding (Su):
By removing all bonuses to your EBL, you may bind your studied vestige without occupying a binding slot.
Rapid Binding (Su):
You have found the secret of directly summoning a vestige. When you have successfully made an agreement to study a vestige, you may freely expel or rebind it as a full round action.
Playing a Bound Scholar
Bound Scholars make greater pacts with vestiges to learn more about them and gain more of their powers. However, the agreements they make require keeping them bound to gain the advantages their knowledge would grant them. Because of their ability to complete their study, they can periodically upgrade their chosen vestige. Sadly, their study only offers them full benefits when they've made the proper agreements in full.
Due to the low BAB and hit die of a bound scholar, they typically stay in the far back of the party during combat. Typically a mix of ranged attacks and debuffing make up their combat prowess. A few use the buffed powers of their studied vestige to make passable melee character.
Bound Scholars most often continue progression as binders, occasionally advancing as Knights Of The Sacred Seal or as Scions of Dantalion, occasionally both.
Bound Scholars can generally rely upon other binders they meet, especially other bound scholars. To find others of their kind can be hard at times though. They are often assisted in return for their in depth knowledge of potential vestiges.
Bound Scholars In The World
"He taught me to how to bind Naberius and keep him in line. Helped me get this fancy hat for half off."
-An unnamed but dazzling binder
Bound Scholars are binders first and foremost, thus should be treated appropriately for their part of the world. Oftentimes this is some form of persecution, largely from the hands of relgious orders. Among other binders, bound scholars are considered fill the role of mentors or preachers of the merits of given vestiges. Some binders consider them fools for trading their strength of body for strength of mind and their versatility for devoted power. As a rule of thumb, they are well like among binders though.
The binder typical begins a day by binding their studied vestige again, so that they can begin their lessons for the day. Then they bind whatever other vestiges seem likely to assist them over the course of the upcoming day.
There aren't any confirmed bound scholar notables throughout history, but sometimes wizard or cloistered clerics have something that doesn't quite fit the normal abilities of such a class which would lead to the belief that they were a bound scholar in disguise.
It is most of the time too dangerous for binders to form any sort of organized group. However, in societies that tolerate binders, they often fill the role of sages and knowledge keepers in groups of binders.
Most common people don't know of the art of binding, limiting their reaction to Bound Scholars. However, religious orders often persecute binders with bound scholars holding a special place as knowledge banks of the heretical arts.
Bound Scholars In The Game
Bound Scholars focus on a single vestige and will probably stack a bunch of buffs on a solid chosen vestige. Since they'll pick a well scaling vestige for this most likely and can change it up every other level, they are fairly good for blasting. They lack in melee though, which is a fairly common and viable tactic for binders.
If binding is common practice you could possible make them into some sort of base class variant akin to the cloistered cleric.
Bound Scholars hang in the back with the wizards and debuff or blast away.
Pretty please don't combine this with bloodlines. Unless you're playing in a game with killer gnomes and blastificers, in which case go ahead and be a wizard 1/ bloodline 3/ binder 1/ anima mage 1/ bound scholar 3/ knight of the sacred seal 1/ scion of dantalion 1 and bind zcyrell to summon monster IX every 4 rounds at level 11. Don't tell your DM I said that though.