Builds“I would like to introduce you to some friends.”
Just as a point of clarification, the builds below are not, to use an analogy, the complete cake, ready for consumption. It is a list of ingredients (classes), for which you must decide the order. What type of icing (optional feats, magic items, etc) you decide on is up to personal preference. All I can say is that, if you use these ingredients, you will have an edible cake. Hannibal“Hannibal has never been the same since the Demon, Siverex, was subsumed into Hannibal’s form. Still, for a man that struggles with evil every day, he has strong virtues.”
Human Bard 2 / Cleric 1 / Mystic Theurge 5 / Acolyte of the Skin 3 / Sublime Chord 2 / Mystic Theurge 5 / Nightmare Spinner 1 / Mindbender 1
Domains: Charm, any one other.
Stats: Charisma (maximised), Wisdom (high), then Con, Dex, Int, Str.
Non Lawful (Bard), Non Good (Acolyte of the Skin)
[Human] Dreadful Wrath.
[Level 1] Versatile Spellcaster.
[Level 3] Heighten Spell.
[Level 6] Fell Frighten.
[Level 9] Haunting Melody
[Level 12] Doomspeak
[Level 15] Practiced Spellcaster (Bardic)
[Level 18] Extra Music
Flaw Options: Coercive Spell, Charnel Miasma (requires Death Domain), Extend Supernatural Ability.
Hannibal has a great number of prerequisites, which require a huge investment in skill points. For this reason, a high intelligence would be useful.
Bluff 4 Ranks [Nightmare Spinner]
Intimidate 4 Ranks [Nightmare Spinner]
Sense Motive 4 Ranks [Nightmare Spinner]
Knowledge (Arcana) 13 Ranks [Sublime Chord]
Listen 13 Ranks [Sublime Chord]
Perform (Any) 10 Ranks [Sublime Chord] – I suggest Oratory, because it just works thematically.
Profession (Astrologer) 6 Ranks [Sublime Chord]
Spellcraft 6 Ranks [Sublime Chord]
Knowledge (Arcana) 6 Ranks [Mystic Theurge]
Knowledge (Religion) 6 Ranks [Mystic Theurge]
Knowledge (The Planes) 6 Ranks [Acolyte of the Skin]
Bluff 4 Ranks [Mindbender]
Diplomacy 4 Ranks [Mindbender]
Intimidate 4 Ranks [Mindbender]
Sense Motive 4 Ranks [Mindbender]
Hannibal has a vast amount of fear effects from which to choose:
1. His Dreadful Wrath kicks in, boosted by the Charm Domain, whenever he attacks or casts a spell.
2. When Hannibal uses the Perform skill, everyone within 30’ must save or become shaken, for a number of rounds equal to Hannibal’s Perform check.
3. Any time Hannibal makes a perform check of 10 or higher, he adds up to +4 to his caster level (Sublime Chord).
4. Charnel Miasma allows Hannibal to escalate a shaken effect to panicked to panicked with a single enemy within 30’; and finally
5. Fiendish Glare makes Hannibal able to stun and shake opponents up to 100’ away, with no chance of failure (for the shaken effect) for ten minutes, as a supernatural effect. Cromwell
“Cromwell is a good friend, if a touch enamoured with combat. You should not believe a word he says, even though his tongue be dripping with honeyed words.”
Rogue 4 / Barbarian 1 / Fighter 1 / Scarlet Corsair 9 / Invisible Blade 5
Alignment: Neutral Good
Ability Scores: 18 Cha ideal, Intelligence 13+ & a good Dexterity. Assume 18 Cha + 4 level advancements = 22 Charisma (+6 modifier)
Human: Dreadful Wrath
L1: Nymph's Kiss
L3: Point Blank Shot
L6: Imperious Command (Drow of the Underdark)
L9: Weapon Focus (Dagger)
L12: Combat Expertise
L15: Surprising Riposte (Drow of the Underdark)
L18: Quick Draw
Fighter 1: Far Shot
Sneak Attack: 4d6, 7d6 with Dagger.
Bluff 23 Ranks (8 Ranks needed for Invisible Blade)
Intimidate 23 Ranks.
Sleight of Hand: 23 Ranks
Sense Motive 6 Ranks (Invisible Blade)
When Cromwell feints in combat, it is as a move action freely (Improved Feint); or, as a swift action (Invisible Blade, errata); Cromwell may also feint as a free action, but then has to wait 1d4 rounds before he can do so again (Corsair’s Feint).
His feint is around +31 (+23 Ranks, +6 Charisma, +2 Nymph's Kiss).
When Cromwell demoralises someone using the Intimidate skill, everyone within 30’ is affected, and lasts for rounds equal to Cromwell’s Charisma modifier (assume 6 rounds). A foe that is effectively demoralised cowers for one round, and is shaken thereafter for one round (Imperious Command).
His Intimidate checks are around +31 (+23 Ranks, +6 Charisma, +2 Nymph's Kiss). No magic is included in this.
When Cromwell attacks, he starts with a swift feint. If he does feint successfully, then the enemy is flat-footed. If that fails, then he goes for a free feint (Corsair’s Feint). If any of these feints work, then the enemy is flat-footed for a full round; i.e, all attacks are sneak attacks.
Then he takes a full attack action, which triggers the Dreadful Wrath. Assuming he hits with any of this attacks from a full attack action, an opponent is shaken (Dreadful Wrath).
If the feint has worked, then all attacks are sneak attacks. Cromwell then reduces his sneak attack dice by 2d6, and uses Frightening Lunge (Scarlet Corsair), which renders the foe shaken, which, if part of a full attack action, then makes the target frightened.
The next part of this build depends on whether or not you allow Dragon magazine. If you do, then you have to grab Sneak Attack of Opportunity, from issue #340. Using this feat, any Attacks of Opportunity are Sneak Attacks. You need Combat Reflexes or Evasive Reflexes as a prerequisite feat for this.
Sudden Draw from Complete Scoundrel can achieve a similar effect, far more efficiently: Quick Draw is a useful prerequisite, and so long as you have maximum ranks in Sleight of Hand, you can draw a concealed weapon as an immediate action to deliver an attack of opportunity. That opponent is treated as flat-footed against that attack. Remembering that the dagger is an easily concealed weapon (PHB, Pg 82), the reflexive Spot check of an enemy is going to quite difficult (1d20 + 2 (Dagger) + Dex Mod + Ranks), you have an effective counter attack method.
I always recommend that any sneak attacker take Acrobatic Backstab and Spot the Weak Point (both Skill Tricks from Complete Scoundrel).
For this build, I would also recommend two other aspects:
Complete Champion’s Lion Totem Barbarian Class Substitution (Pg 46), because Pounce adds to this build immeasurably; and Taking Improved Trip, or specialising in tripping. It helps to provoke Attacks of Opportunity, and it also decreases the chances of anyone being able to run, so it then increases the chances of a cowering status.
Cromwell works well with Vern; they flank very well together, forcing lots of escalating fear checks.
Cromwell does not create a lot of the fear effects; however, when he acts synergistically with a fear-inducing party, he can be devastating.
The Invisible Blade could very easily be swapped out for Avenging Executioner for another, devastating build.Seldon
“Seldon has learned more about magic than any of us could aspire to; his magic transcends magic, and it ventures into the realm of the supernatural.”
Build: Sorceror 1 / Cleric 1 / Dread Witch 5 / Mystic Theurge 5 / Nightmare Spinner 1 / Dweomerkeeper 7.
Seldon casts as a 17th Level Cleric, and as a 6th level Sorceror.
[Dread Witch]: Base Will Save +4, Knowledge (Arcana) 3 Ranks, Ability to cast Cause Fear and Scare – all achieved by 2nd level.
[Nightmare Spinner]: Bluff 4 Ranks, Sense Motive 4 Ranks, Intimidate 4 Ranks.
[Dweomerkeeper]: Knowledge (Arcana) 8 Ranks, Spellcraft 8 Ranks, Any Item Creation Feat, any metamagic feat. Access to the Magic Domain.
Domains: Deathbound and Magic Domains. If you are willing to give up the Deathbound Domain, Divine Magician is an excellent substitute.
Human: Precocious Apprentice (learning Scare).
L1: Dreadful Wrath.
L3: Heighten Spell [Metamagic]
L6: Versatile Spellcaster
L9: Fell Frighten.
L12: Create Wondrous Item.
L15: Free: Practiced Spellcaster (Cleric)
L18: Free: Suggest Metamagic.
Sorceror 1: Scribe Scroll [Item Creation].
ACF: Metamagic Specialist (PHB2): Familiar lost, replace with rapid metamagic casting.
The Cleric is actually the most difficult of the fear builds, as there aren’t too many divine-specific abilities that are fear related. So then, the cleric in this party takes on four roles:
1. Improving fear escalation.
2. Healing, specifically at a range.
3. General blasting. Note that Seldon can cast as a 6th level caster (the entry to Mystic Theurge is created from the combination of Versatile Spellcaster and Heighten Spell).
4. Item Creation.
If the enemy needs to be attacked from a distance, use the combination of Spectral Hand and any spell which allows you to deliver a melee touch attack (inflict minor wounds is a nice choice) or Blade of Pain and Fear (Spell Compendium), which allows you to make touch attacks that require a Will Save or become frightened for 1d4 rounds.
Of course, the usefulness of Spectral Hand in association with the various Cure spells cannot be underestimated; the cleric need not enter combat to heal a comrade if they so choose; if they do, then they have Combat Casting to aid them.
In a grapple, of course, Blade of Pain and Fear is even better. First of all, with Still Spell, you have no somatic components. The casting time, and lack of material components (it only has a divine focus; they don’t need to be at hand) mean that this spell can be cast in a grapple; it requires a Concentration Check (DC24). Combat Casting adds +4 to this roll. You can, of course, have the spell cast and then get ready for the grapple.
Finally, if you can pin your opponent for one round, that enemy cannot escape; if they are at a panicked status (such as by being hit with a Fell Frightening Blade of Pain and Fear), they cannot escape, so they just cower. They lose their dexterity bonus, and take no actions, at which point, it is easy to maintain the pin, use Freeze the Lifeblood or use Earth’s Embrace.
If you take a full attack action with a Blade of Pain and Fear available, then the Dreadful Wrath in combination with the Blade of Pain and Fear will automatically make the enemy panicked.
Master of Terror and Fearful Empowerment mean that a fear descriptor can be added to any visual spell, twice per day, and from this the DC increases by +2, and makes the enemy shaken. This, in conjunction with the Blade of Pain and Fear is a very potent combination.
Add in the Horrific Aura and Greater Master of Terror (Dread Witch), and you have a very scary cleric; not even fear immunity helps.
There is lots of space available in this build by changing feats. Access to the Dream domain is very useful (immunity to fear) so that Seldon can be in the area of effect of a fear spell.
Don’t forget that Doom is a divine spell, only, so Marha can be devastating from level 1.
It is very important to note that while clerics don’t get a lot of access to illusion spells, the level of Nightmare Spinner adds one spell, per level, to each spellcasting class. The spell has to be an illusion, but (and this is important), you can use Versatile Spellcaster to make less useful lower level spell slots into higher level spell slots. If you have access to Dragon Magazine, there is a 2nd level illusion Divine spell, Phade’s Fearsome Aspect, which makes The target gain a +5 bonus on Intimidate checks and can demoralise as a swift action.
I am sure you don’t need me to tell you about Dweomerkeepers. Certainly, you could decrease other classes by two levels to get the excellent Cloak of Mysteries. Adan“Adan is a complex man. He is a telepath, a mind reader, and intensely insightful. He can make anyone fear him – even me.”
This build is very strongly based on my Dreamtwister
Human Wizard 9 / Mindbender 1 / Nightmare Spinner 5 / Dread Witch 5.
Domain Wizard Variant (Complete Champion, Pg 50).
Alignment: Any non-good.
Mindbender: Complete Arcane, Pg 54.
Nightmare Spinner: Complete Mage, Pg 74.
Dread Witch: Heroes of Horror, Pg 98.
L1: Dreadful Wrath (Player's Guide to Faerun, Pg 38)
L3: Fell Frighten (Libris Mortis, Pg 27)
L6: Daunting Presence (Libris Mortis, Pg 27)
L9: Frightful Presence (Draconomicon, Pg 102) (nice, but not essential)
L12: Arcane Disciple (Complete Divine, Pg 79) (Deity with the Death Domain; see Charnel Miasma, below.
L15: Charnel Miasma (Complete Champion, Pg 57) (used in combination with Arcane Disciple; purely optional)
L18: Invisible Spell (Cityscape)
With the exception of Dreadful Wrath, these feats are able to be taken at pretty much any level. I would probably be inclined to take Arcane Disciple and Charnel Miasma earlier, but that is just me.
The Fear Factor:
1. You are Immune to Fear (Nightmare Spinner 1)
2. Dreadful Wrath: If you charge, do a full attack, or include someone in your area of effect, it causes a 20’ radius that shakes an enemy.
3. Daunting Presence: 30’, Will save or be shaken for 10 minutes.
4. Fell Frighten: Any damaging spell causes the target to become shaken for one minute. Very useful against multiple opponents.
5. Inspire Fear: (3+Cha Mod) per day, 30’, Shaken for (Nightmare Spinner Levels) rounds. Successful save halves the duration. Standard Action.
6. Nightmare Phantasm: (3+Cha Mod) per day, any will save to disbelieve any figment or glamer spell makes the target shaken for one round (no save)
7. Spirit Chill: If you make someone shaken, they take 1d6 nonlethal damage; frightened, they take 2d6 damage; panicked, 3d6 damage. Any non-damaging, Fell Frightening spell you cast that causes a fear effect, which causes damage, which means that it causes a further shaken effect.
8. Deadly Nightmare: 30’ Range, 3 times per day. Will Save (DC10 + Class Level + Cha Modifier). Supernatural effect. If successful, they panic for one round.
9. Fearful Empowerment: You can add a Fear effect to any spell with a visual manifestation.
10. Master of Terror: You increase the DC of all your fear-based spells.
11. Absorb Fear: Any fear effect that could affect you (note that you are immune, thanks to Nightmare Spinner) increases your DCs further.
12. Delay Fear: Have all those delightful fear effects hit all at once. Very nice if they also can't run.
13. Horrific Aura: Enemies can't even approach within 10' due to fear.
14. (Best of all) Greater Master of Terror: You can now affect those immune to fear effects.
First and foremost, if your enemy is immune to fear (until such a time as Dread Witch lets you punch through their immunity), fall back to one of your other options. You know, the ones that you are able to do since you’re able to cast 9th level Arcane spells, and (potentially) cast them as supernatural spells, at that.
For those not immune to fear, get yourself a nice, 20’ area of effect spell. Widen Spell and Enlarge Spell are your friends, here. My favourite spell for this is Mind Fog. Then, make it a Fell Frightening spell; it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t deal damage. Everyone makes a save as the Dreadful Wrath kicks in. If anyone fails their save, they are shaken, which means they take damage (thanks to Spirit Chill), and therefore they get hit with another shaken effect, escalating them to frightened. If they have failed their save against the Mind Fog and the Dreadful Wrath, that’s -12 to their will saves. Now is the time to hit them with an Invisible Evard’s Black Tentacles, or another Mind Effect. Or a Glamer...Nadia“I first met Nadia past the mists of Ravenloft. There is no single creature alive more able to create fear from the mists of illusion. Her creations are as beautiful as they are terrifying."
Bard 4 / Illusionist 1 / Dread Witch 5 / Sublime Chord 1 / Shadowcraft Mage 3 / Sacred Exorcist 1 / Divine Prankster 2 / Nightmare Spinner 3.
Alignment: Neutral Good. Sacred Exorcists must be good, and Bards may not be lawful.
Abilities: Intelligence 13+, and the higher the Charisma, the better.
Level 1: Heighten Spell
Level 3: Fell Frighten (Libris Mortis)
Level 6: Spell Focus
Level 9: Arcane Thesis [Silent Image]
Level 12: Free. I would suggest Doomspeak (Champions of Ruin) to make your enemies suffer -10 to their saves.
Level 15: Free. See Suggestions, below.
Level 18: Free. See Suggestions, below.
As NineInchNail suggested in his Shadowcraft Mage Handbook ( http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=655556
), Earth Sense / Earth Spell are an excellent combination, as is Melodic Casting. I would also recommend Melodic Casting or Extra Turning (PHB). Doomspeak has been included but it is not necessary. Being able to debuff the enemy is extremely important in fear builds, which is why if you can get an enemy affected by Mind Fog, you utterly should.
ACF: I would suggest swapping Inspire Courage with Inspire Awe. However, you don’t need it.
To be honest, there is a very heavy skill requirements for this build, mostly due to the ridiculously byzantine requirements. It's a good thing that since Nadia needs at least a decent intelligence (13+, but 14 is worth the point for the skill point) she will get 56 Skill Points for her first 4 levels, which will go a long way towards all the skill requirements.
This is a fairly involved build, so I shall go level by level.
Level 1: Bard 1. Lots of Skill Points, Gnome Bard Substitution, Divine Bard Variant (Unearthed Arcana).
Level 2: Bard 2. You need to take Cause Fear (Bard1) as a known spell.
Level 3: Bard 3.
Level 4: Bard 4. You need to take Scare (Bard2) as a known spell.
Level 5: Illusionist 1.
Level 6: Dread Witch 1. The save DC of any fear spell increases by 1. Add bane and doom to wizard spell list as 2nd-level spells. Bonus to all Intimidate skill checks equal to +2 per class level.
Level 7: Dread Witch 2. Add Charisma modifier to bonuses vs. Will saves. Add in absorb fear, which makes any fear effect empower Nadia’s spells, until she becomes immune, at least.
Level 8: Dread Witch 3. Fearful Empowerment 2/day. If it has a visual manifestation, we can add in a fear descriptor, and a Will save or be shaken. We can also delay the onset of any fear effect, which is tactically massive when working with a fear using party.
Level 9: Dread Witch 4. Fear immunity is now useless to you.
Level 10: Dread Witch 5. Horrific Aura and Reflective Fear are just the icing on the cake at this point.
Level 11: Sublime Chord. Not much more needs to be said, other than we need to take Dismissal as one of our spells, and one shadow spell, perhaps Shadow Conjuration, as our level 4 spell.
Level 12: Shadowcraft Mage 1. Concealment. Useful.
Level 13: Shadowcraft Mage 2. Silent Illusion. Very useful.
Level 14: Shadowcraft Mage 3. Here we go. Let’s change those figments into shadows, and really start scaring people. Now, since we are using the Wizard (Illusionist) levels as a basis for our Sublime Chord, we should make certain that the spells which we heighten to higher levels come from our pool of Wizard spells, but it doesn’t really make much difference.
Level 15: Sacred Exorcist (Complete Divine, Pg 56). What? Where did Sacred Exorcist come from? Well, we need some turning attempts, and this is the best place. As well as netting Exorcism, we also get Turn Undead (3+Cha Mod / Day).
Level 16: Divine Prankster 1. Inspire Courage, which adds to our previous 4 Bard levels, which now means we can enrage enemies (Races of Stone, Pg 108). Nice.
Level 17: Divine Prankster 2. Infuse Figment. If we use one of our Turning attempts, we can add 10 to the DC of a figment spell. Wow.
Level 18: Nightmare Spinner 1. If you normally prepare spells (I do, as a Wizard), I can prepare and cast one additional illusion spell per level, per day? Great. But wait, there’s more: If you don’t need to prepare spells (which, as a bard, and also as a Sublime Chord, I don’t), you gain one extra spell slot per spell level, which can be used only to cast an illusion spell. So, you’re saying I get an extra (wizard) illusion of levels 1 through 3, an extra (bard) illusion of levels 0 through 2, and an extra (Sublime Chord) illusion of levels 4 through 9. Wow. That’s generous. And I’m also immune to fear? Sweet.
Level 19: Nightmare Spinner 2. Inspire Fear (3 + Cha Mod / Day). Shake somebody for 3 rounds? OK.
Level 20: Nightmare Phantasm. Well, that’s just the best thing, ever.
Other Things to Remember:
Having taken the Gnome Bard Racial Substitution Level at Level 1, Nadia can Counter Fear (instead of Countersong), and you get dancing lights, ghost sound and prestidigitation as o-level bard spells. We haven’t taken the 3rd level substitution level, since we want to inspire our comrades in their Intimidation effects.
Having taken the Gnome Bard Racial Substitution Level (Level 1), Nadia can use her Wizard level as the caster level for her racial spell-like abilities. That’s rather nice, as is getting illusion spells at a discounted level (Races of Stone, Pg 149).
“A Sublime Chord’s caster levels for both her Sublime Chord levels and the spells she gains from other arcane spellcasting classes is determined by adding her Sublime Chord level to her level in another arcane spellcasting class.” (Complete Arcane)
Since Dread Necromancer adds to Wizard (Illusionist), then the Sublime Chord caster level is (Wizard (Illusionist) + Dread Necromancer caster levels (4) + Sublime Chord levels (1)) 5, and the levels of Divine Prankster (2) and Nightmare Spinner (1) and Shadowcraft Mage (5) make a 13th level caster.
I would suggest Practiced Spellcaster to increase this by 4.
Variants and Thoughts
You might want to exchange a level of Nightmare Spinner for a level of Shadowcraft Mage. I have included the level of Nightmare Spinner because of this combination:
1. Fell Frighten allows you to alter a spell that deals damage (to become shaken for a minute).
2. Silent Image, amongst other illusions, does not deal damage.
3. Spirit Chill (Nightmare Spinner 3) causes any spell that has a fear effect to take (non-lethal) damage.
4. Nightmare Phantasm (Su): Beginning at 2nd level, when you cast a figment or glamer spell, you can choose to weave a thread of nightmare phantasm into it as a free action. The spell gains the phantasm descriptor. Each time any enemy attempts a Will save to disbelieve the affected illusion spell, a tiny portion of the spell transforms into a phantasm effect that targets that enemy. The enemy becomes shaken for 1 round (no save). This ability has no other effect on the original spell's duration or effectiveness.
The text of Shadow Illusion (Races of Stone, Pg 122) states that the Shadowcraft Mage “is able to infuse some of her figments (examples given, including Silent Image) with material from the Plane of Shadow, making them partially real”. There is no point at which the application of Shadow Illusion is applied, but the inference (to me, at least) is that it is during the casting.
The text of Nightmare Phantasm (Complete Mage, Pg 74) states that “when you cast a figment or glamer spell, you can choose to weave a thread of nightmare phantasm into it as a free action. The spell gains the phantasm descriptor. Each time any enemy attempts a Will Save to disbelieve the affected phantasm spell, a tiny portion of the spell transforms into a phantasm effect that targets the enemy. The enemy becomes shaken for one round (no save). This ability has no other effect on the original spell’s duration or effectiveness.” (Emphasis mine).
Player’s Handbook (Pg 139) states that the time impact of a free action “is so minor that they are considered free. You can perform one or more free actions while taking another action normally.”
Thus, you can apply a Nightmare Phantasm to Silent Image (which is a figment), gaining the phantasm descriptor. Not replacing, but gaining. A disbelief Saving throw is added or the enemy becomes shaken. Note that Nightmare Phantasm has no other effect on the original spell’s duration or effectiveness. From there, you apply a Shadow Illusion, making it now a Phantasm, capable of dealing real damage.
From there, Spirit Chill kicks in: Creatures affected by a fear effect you cause (whether by a spell, class feature, or other effect) take nonlethal damage as well, depending on the potency of the fear created. Any creature that is shaken takes 1d6 points of nonlethal damage.
From there, Fell Frighten kicks in: You can alter a spell that deals damage to foes so that any creature subject to fear effects and mind-affecting spells and abilities that is dealt damage also becomes shaken for a minute.
Any time you cast a Fell Frightening Silent Image, the enemy also becomes frightened, since they have two fear effects, which escalate, resulting in a frightening effect.
But, the problem is the pesky high Will Save enemies that just always seem to make their save. Well, why don’t we add in Infuse Figment. There is no indication of time required to infuse the figment, other than expending a turn attempt. If we do this, the DC is increased by 10. That's rather a lot.
Oh, and if we use our Fearful Empowerment, they get a Will Save or that frightening just turned into a panic. We can only use this twice per day.
You will have noticed that, apart from the few spells required for the build, very few specific points about this build have been nailed down. The reliance on Illusion spells has been noted; it follows that Evocation and Conjuration would be the prohibited schools. Focussed Specialist, from Complete Mage, is certainly an option.
Certainly, another level of Sublime Chord doesn’t hurt, either.Vernon ('Vern') Karache.“There is more to Vern than meets the eye. He is magnificent, and terrifying.”
Race: Desert Half-Orc (Unearthed Arcana)
Build: Barbarian 2 / Half-Orc Paragon 3 / Fighter 10 [ACF] / Champion of Gwynharwyf 4 / Horizon Walker 1 (Desert)
ACF Notes: Zhentarim Soldier Substitution Levels (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/we/20060327a
Alignment: Chaotic Good.
Abilities: 18 Charisma, 13 Strength. Assume 4 points go into Charisma, up to 22.
L1: Nymph’s Kiss
L3: Menacing Demeanour (Races of Destiny)
L6: Imperious Command
L9: Righteous Wrath
L12: Knight of Stars (Book of Exalted Deeds)
L15: Frightful Presence (Draconomicon)
F1: Power Attack
F3: Skill Focus (Intimidate) – Zhentarim Soldier.
F6: Resounding Blow
F8: Improved Critical (Scimitar)
+3 Skill Focus (Intimidation)
+4 Menacing Demeanour
+4 (Racial) Monstrous Mien
+2 Nymph’s Kiss
Vern doesn't even need to hit you, you see his magnificance and just cower. Unless you can make a DC43 check (1d20 + Hit Dice + Wisdom Bonus + Fear Modifiers), assuming Vern rolls a 1. Vern needs to be able to work in a party of predominantly good characters.
Vern does this with no specific equipment, grafts, incarnum, or Tome of Magic.
So, each round, as a swift action, Vern can demoralise as a swift action (Zhentarim Soldier). When he does so, everyone within 10’ has to make a roll (Never Outnumbered skill trick) (once per encounter). If Vern successfully demoralises an opponent, they cower for one round, and are shaken for one round thereafter (Imperious Command). However, then that fear is extended for 24 hours (Zhentarim Soldier), and if they leave Vern’s sight, and then see him again, they must make another check, at -4 (Zhentarim Soldier).
When raging, it gets harder for the enemy. Anyone approaching within 30’ must make a Will Save against this same Intimidate check. Those who fail become shaken for 1d4+1 rounds (Champion of Gwynharwyf), or the duration of Vern's rage (whichever is longer); then, the Intimidating Rage allows for a demoralisation as a free action within 30’ (Intimidating Rage). If Vern attacks an evil enemy, they must make a Will save (DC19) or be shaken (Righteous Wrath) or possibly frightened (Frightful Presence). When the rage ends, Vern is not fatigued (Horizon Walker).
If Vern actually attacks someone and crits (Vern has Improved Critical), the enemy must make a Will Save (DC28) or cower for a round (Resounding Blow). Just a standard attack (not even a hit) means that everyone within 30’ must make a Will Save (DC28) or become shaken for 1d6+8 rounds if they have less levels than Vern (Frightful Presence). Because Vern has taken the Lion Totem variant, he loses his barbarian fast speed, but he can make a full attack after a charge.
Oh, and Vern has a Base Attack Bonus of +20, and lots of free feats.
Alternate Builds: Human with Jotunbrud and Dreadful Wrath; Dungeon Crasher at Fighter 2 & 6. Exotic Weapon Master with the Show Off trick to add another +19 to an Intimidate check.
I am a big fan of exchanging Horizon Walker with Marshall to motivate the Charisma of the entire party, and it works thematically with Vern as well.
Dedication: Vern is based quite closely off a character I played for many years. Aah, Vern, how I miss you.
Roleplaying Notes: The Zhentarim are an evil organisation, and why how a character becomes a Champion of Gwynharwyf from being part of an evil organisation is simply put; Vern’s original alignment was chaotic neutral; when he left the Zhentarim, his alignment slowly became Chaotic Good as he realised the horror he had inflicted on his fellow man. Determined to redeem himself from his dark past, he has embraced the need to use his anger for good.Sonja“And, finally, me.”
Human Bard 1 / Cleric 1 / Necromancer 1 / Mystic Theurge 5 / Dread Witch 1 / Nightmare Spinner 1 / Sublime Chord 2 / Dread Witch+4 / Nightmare Spinner +2 / Mystic Theurge +2
Domains: Charm, Death.
ACF: Inspire Courage swapped for Inspire Awe (Dragon Magic). If half-elf is used, swap Countersong for Soothing Voice.
Alignment: Neutral Good.
[Human]: Dreadful Wrath.
[Level 1] Versatile Spellcaster.
[Level 3] Heighten Spell.
[Level 6] Free: Nymph’s Kiss suggested.
[Level 9] Free: Fell Frightening Suggested.
[Level 12] Free: Charnel Miasma suggested.
[Level 15] Free: Doomsong suggested.
[Level 18] Free: Requiem suggested.
Flaw and other feat Options: Coercive Spell, Invisible Spell.
[Dread Witch]: Base Will Save +4, Knowledge (Arcana) 3 Ranks, Ability to cast Cause Fear and Scare.
[Nightmare Spinner]: Bluff 4 Ranks, Sense Motive 4 Ranks, Intimidate 4 Ranks.
[Mystic Theurge]: Knowledge (Arcana) 6 Ranks, Knowledge (Religion) 6 Ranks.
Sonja casts from four spell lists: Bard, Cleric, Wizard and Sublime Chord. As such, she gains a bonus illusion spell, of each level, for each class. You might want to make sure your DM agrees with the wording of Nightmare Spinner, which states: If you normally prepare spells, you can prepare and cast one additional illusion spell per spell level each day. This ability works just like (and stacks with) a specialist wizard's extra school spell. If you don't need to prepare spells, you gain one extra spell slot per spell level, which can be used only to cast an illusion spell.
My interpretation (which I think is RAW) means that Sonja gets a lot of bonus spells, on top of being able to combine the spell slots (Versatile Spellcaster). She casts 9th level Arcane spells (from Sublime Chord), and gains access to the Bard spell list; she casts as an 8th level cleric, as well as functionally up to 6th level as a Necromancer. Note that one of the Mystic Theurge arcane advancement levels can be placed into Bard, if you feel so inclined; with Mystic Theurge, you get to choose each level.
1. Inspire Awe (Bard ACF): To be affected, an enemy must be within 30 feet and be able to hear the bard perform. The effect lasts for as long as the enemy hears the bard perform and for 1 round thereafter. Each enemy can attempt a Will save to negate the effect; the DC is equal to the bard's Perform check result. Regardless of the success or failure of the save, no creature can be affected by inspire awe more than once in a 24-hour period. Inspire awe is a mind-affecting fear effect. Note that it is a mind-affecting fear effect; this means that Requiem (Libris Mortis) can be used with it. Thus, you can strike fear into the undead.
2. Charnel Miasma: Charnel Miasma (CC57): As a standard action, one foe within 30’ can be shaken for one minute if they fail their Will Save. If the enemy is already shaken, they escalate to panicked. You also gain a +1 competence bonus to your caster level when casting death spells.
3. Dread Witch 1. The save DC of any fear spell increases by 1. Add bane and doom to wizard spell list as 2nd-level spells. Bonus to all Intimidate skill checks equal to +2 per class level.
4. Dread Witch 2. Add Charisma modifier to bonuses vs. Will saves. Add in absorb fear, which makes any fear effect empower Sonja’s spells, until she becomes immune, at least.
5. Dread Witch 3. Fearful Empowerment 2/day. If it has a visual manifestation, we can add in a fear descriptor, and a Will save or be shaken. We can also delay the onset of any fear effect, which is tactically massive when working with a fear using party.
6. Dread Witch 4. Fear immunity is now useless to you.
7. Dread Witch 5. Horrific Aura and Reflective Fear. Awesome.
8. Nightmare Spinner 1. Lots of bonus spells, particularly illusions, which will come in handy later... And I’m also immune to fear? Excellent.
9. Nightmare Spinner 2: Nightmare Phantasm: Auto-shaken on an illusion? Wow.
10. Spirit Chill: Fear adds damage. Nice.
11. Doomsong: A massive range, and it causes -10 to saves – Very nice.
Note that if Sonja really gets a moment or two to prepare, there are all sorts of nasty tricks:
Fell Frightening Magic Missiles; Doomsong followed by Mind Fog; Boosting your Charisma with Eagle’s Splendour, and the Charm Domain, and Nymph’s Kiss, and a Circlet of Persuasion – there’s +9 DC to a lot of the Will Saves, for a start.
Oh, and there’s also the ninth level spells, as well.
Roleplaying Note: The version of this character I use is half-elven, and loses Dreadful Wrath, as it is a fairly strong Diplomacy build as well. Note that, depending on your interpretation of Sublime Chord, the caster level may be low; in which case, Sublime Chord 2 adds up to +4 to Caster Level, and Practiced Spellcaster might also be a worthwhile addition.