Post 3. This should do it.
Another Paimon-loving build, eh? We certainly see a lot of them in Iron Chef, it would seem. It's no surprise why, of course; Paimon's an excellent vestige and certainly capable of defining a character. That said, let's get down to business.
Originality: I didn't expect to see any merfolk, so you've got me there. (+0.5) Interesting use of Dark to get your speed up to that of only a halfling in full plate (instead of a halfling in full plate who stepped on a caltrop). Rogue and Swashbuckler are probably the most common classes in this competition, but at least Binder was refreshing. (0) Fortune's Friend is a neat way to fill out the last few levels of the build. (+0.25) Total: 3.75
Power: 2 LA? Yeah, that's gonna cost you. A character that can't even hit the table until ECL 3 and who can't really do much to survive until much later? No sir, I don't like it. (–1) I might have been kinder if it seemed like you got much out of the LA, but you never really mentioned why you were a merfolk—or, perhaps more importantly, why you were Dark. I don't see much mention of using any of Dark's features except for the speed increase; I see a brief mention of hiding near the beginning, but not really what you do with it. You don't take a single rank in Move Silently, and you wait for quite a ways until you really pump Hide. Furthermore, when you take ranks in Hide, you're at ECL 19, and you don't have Darkstalker. Everything worth fighting at ECL 19 will see you if you don't have Darkstalker. This makes me believe that you don't really care about the sneaky parts of Dark, which makes me seriously question why you lit a level on fire to take it. (–0.5) I understand if you didn't want to focus on hiding much because doing so negates Rally the Crew, but you didn't even give it a nod. If you just wanted a swim speed, you'd have been better off as an aventi.
Anyway, moving on. Your build left me with a feeling of “that's very nice, but what does it do?” I'm really not sure how you survive long enough to hit Dread Pirate. You seem to have very few abilities that would help out a party; if we go by your fluff (you did say that you lived alone in a cave for a few levels), I'm not sure what you have that would allow you to fight on your own, either. (Again, I would have accepted “sneaky bastard who plinks at you until you die,” but you needed to say something to that effect.) Your abilities really don't come together in any way that I can see. Paimon's Dance of Death (if you could use it, that is; see below) really doesn't work with a move speed of 15 feet. If you had a reliable way of throwing your enemies into the drink, that might have been interesting, but right now I can't see you hitting more than two enemies with DoD. Also, with only a +2 on your binding check (no CHA bonus, only 2 Binder levels), you'll make a good pact with Paimon roughly 15% of the time (that is, on a roll of 18, 19, or 20). While it's unlikely that your enemies will know to play music against you, if you just happen to have a bard (friendly or enemy) anywhere on the map, you'll drop your movement speed by 50% . . . and in D&D, we round down, so you're at 5 ft. The almost guaranteed poor pact isn't alone enough to drop your score, but the fact that I really can't figure out what your character is supposed to do is another story. (–0.5) The luck feats are a nice touch and are quite thematically appropriate, so I'll give you credit there. (+0.25) Total: 1.25
Elegance: First, a few points of order. Point the first: Your skills aren't quite right. Skill caps are based on HD, not ECL. You can't actually have 6 Appraise as a 1 HD Rogue, for instance. You're lucky in that you get your skills in line with what's actually legal by the time you hit Dread Pirate; if you hadn't, I'd be taking off a lot more. (–0.25) Point the second: Your build was hard to read and definitely inspired a bit of grammar rage (for instance, I counted fourteen unambiguous times when you had a problem with commas and several more where I gave you the benefit of the doubt). If it had just been your three spelling errors, I would probably have let you go, but man, those commas were painful. (–0.25) Point the third, and this is the big one: You can't bind Paimon. You have 2 levels in Binder. Your Improved Binding feat gives you an effective Binder level of 4. Paimon is a 3rd level vestige and thus cannot be bound without at least an EBL of 5. Since you keep mentioning Paimon as being such an important part of your tactics (and even include him in your stat block), this is a pretty big problem. It seems like Paimon is a real cornerstone of your build, but you can't actually use him. This is . . . bad. (–1) I really do like the way you link the Luck of the Wind reroll to the Complete Scoundrel luck feats and Fortune's Friend class. Sure, one reroll from 10 levels in a class isn't exactly character-defining on its own, but I like that you managed to bring it to the forefront instead of just offhandedly mentioning “oh, and he has a reroll once per day, I guess.” (+0.5)
I will say that your skills confuse me. You have Hide with no Move Silently (and no, the +6 from Dark is not enough). You have Disable Device with no Search. You have Spot (pretty decent Spot, actually) from square 1, but you don't bring in Listen until ECL 15. The fact that you took ranks in Jump at all (what with your awful move speed) had me baffled for quite a while . . . basically until I realized that you were using the “leap from water” rules in Stormwrack. At least, I certainly hope that you are. I really would have liked to have seen more Tumble, since you're going to be trying to move past a LOT of foes before you hit ECL 16. None of your skills are bad, really (I'm certainly fond enough of Sense Motive to at least partially overlook the fact that you go from 0 ranks to 4 ranks to 10 ranks in the space of 2 levels), but they're still kind of erratic. (0) Your life before Dread Pirate is . . . strange. I did say that I wouldn't penalize dips if you gave me a reason for them, but I don't see a reason for exactly 2 levels of Binder. The level of Rogue doesn't bother me. Those skills are tasty enough to tempt anyone. Swashbuckler is a three-level class, so in my eyes, you finished it. Binder, though? I'd almost be less confused by only 1 level of Binder than I am with 2. The only benefits that 2 levels of Binder gives over 1 level of Binder are Suppress Sign (which requires a good pact, something that's rather unlikely with your 10 CHA and low Binder level) and a minor Pact Augmentation bonus (which is nice, but probably not worth a level). So, from a mechanical standpoint, the 2 levels of Binder come right out of nowhere and disappear into Swashbuckler just as mysteriously. Looking at your story for an explanation, all I got was that he “quickly lost interest in the development of his abilities” with no real reason why. If you had taken enough levels to bind Paimon and mentioned something about how Paimon really resonated with you and that you wanted to explore more swashbucklery tactics, that would have been enough. As it stands? The 2 levels are just confusing. (–0.25) Total: 1.75
Use of Secret Ingredient: Well, you at least mention Seamanship, which is more refreshing than it really should be. TWF doesn't seem to give you that much; with no sources of bonus damage other than INT from Insightful Strike and your own Rally the Crew, you're not going to be bringing a flurry of death to the table anytime soon. You say yourself that Fearsome Reputation does you no real good; with no ranks in Diplomacy and no CHA to speak of, it's a pretty useless ability. You do as much with Rally the Crew as any non-Bard can, so I can't fault you for that. If you actually had Paimon, I could see Acrobatic Charge being fairly useful: use Dance of Death to slice up a bunch of foes, then charge back to where you started. You can't use Paimon, of course, but I don't want to count that against you too many separate times. Steady Stance and Skill Mastery pretty much work for themselves. I've mentioned my approval of your use of Luck of the Wind already. I hate to say it, but it seems like the bulk of what you actually do comes from your (nonexistent) pact with Paimon; you don't seem to get much out of Dread Pirate other than skill points, Luck of the Wind, and Rally the Crew. I don't see what Dread Pirate really does for you. I do find it amusing that Acrobatic Charge (well, a normal charge, but Acrobatic Charge makes it hard to stop) lets you move as fast as a normal character, so if you had mentioned that you were using it pretty much constantly, that might have helped. There's enough elements there that kind of work that I'll only take off a little bit (if for no other reason than that your early levels don't make it clear what else you would or could be doing if you weren't a Dread Pirate, so it at least contributed to your build almost by accident), but I can't really reward what I'm seeing (or, more importantly, not seeing). (–0.25) Total: 2.75
Final Evaluation: I'm just really not sure how the pieces of this build fit together. You want to be a lightly armored skirmisher, but you give up 2 HD. You talk about great speed and mobility, but you have a land speed of 15 feet. Honestly, I think that the race hurt you more than anything else. I understand trying to stand out, but I think there would have been better ways of doing so. Just offhand, an Aventi with the Dark template would have kept the template, given you an extra level to play with (maybe getting enough Binder levels to get Paimon), increased your move speed dramatically, and really not lost much other than your stat bumps and a bit of your swim speed. Your race was unique, but you didn't do anything with it. I never saw a reason why you needed or wanted to be a merfolk. I really did like the use of Fortune's Friend, but it wasn't enough to pick up the slack left by your lack of focus.
Final Total: 9.5
So, first off, you kind of did precisely what I warned you against and used “whom” when you meant “who” (“. . . hid a community of elven cousins whom were marveled by . . .” should be “. . . who were marveled by . . .”). You only did it once, so I'll let you off with a warning, but still. Tsk, tsk. Also, there's an error in your build. You say in the table that you get Rally the Crew and Fight to the Death, but you also claim that Dread Pirate gives you Scourge of the Seas and that you get a bonus to Intimidate from Fearsome Reputation. So, are you honorable or dishonorable? With all your talk about use of fear and how “both of your classes” give you SA, I would assume that you're dishonorable, but that's not what you actually wrote. Truth be told, I would have liked to have seen you go honorable just so that you didn't waste the Scourge of the Seas that Scarlet Corsair gives you, finding bonuses to Intimidate from some other source. That would have gotten you an Originality boost. This honorable/dishonorable confusion also makes it hard to keep track of how many SA dice you have at any given level, and the late level at which you get Daring Outlaw doesn't help clarify matters, either. In short, while it wasn't the hardest build that I had to read, you could have done a little more to make it go smoothly.
Originality: Rogue, Swashbuckler, Dread Pirate, Scarlet Corsair . . . yup, pretty stock-standard. We all saw this coming pretty much note-for-note. Not a bad combo by any means, but I really wish you had done something to make yourself stand out a little bit. (–1) Your choice of race is slightly unexpected. In retrospect, of course, having bonuses to DEX and INT makes being a gray elf something of a natural choice for a skill-using swashbuckler (and Swashbuckler, for that matter). I'm not used to thinking of gray elves as being anything other than casters, so good job on surprising me there. Personally, I can't stand gray elves, but I won't let my prejudices get in the way. (+0.25) Total: 2.25
Power: Let's see here. Respectable (if hardly maxed) SA, almost full BAB, solid fear usage. That's pretty much what I expected from a Dread Pirate/Scarlet Corsair. (0) Your last two feats seem like they could have been chosen better, though. Frightful Presence, while thematically appropriate, suffers from the same problem that most (perhaps even all) sources of Frightful Presence that PCs can acquire suffer from; namely, in the majority of encounters, you'll be facing foes who have HD that is, at a minimum, equal to your own, and in most cases who have HD that exceed your own. If you wanted to go with something that serves the same thematic purpose but would have been much more effective, the feat Scourge of the Seas would have been perfect. Deadly Defense seems tacked on— the fact that you took Combat Expertise at 1st level indicates to me that Deadly Defense's bonus will almost always be in effect, but quite honestly, I expect more from an 18th level feat than just +1d6 damage. Deadly Defense is a decent bonus to damage in the early game, but by level 18 it's honestly kind of laughable. For those two subpar feat choices, I'm going to have to take off a bit. (–0.5) Taking Surprising Riposte might have been a better choice, since it meshes very well indeed with Corsair's Feint, but that's neither here nor there.
I do appreciate your judicious use of skill tricks. This is exactly the kind of character who should be using a lot of them, and I think you chose them pretty well. They also appear to be pretty much your only native uses for your swift actions, so I'm glad that you managed to find a way to avail yourself of such a useful action type. (+0.5) You had a tough choice to make when it came to taking Never Outnumbered . . . while it would eventually be replaced by Scourge of the Seas, there were quite a few levels where it would have been very useful. I tend to judge the early levels of a build as being more important than (or at least equally important to) the later levels, so the fact that you went without a group fear tactic for so long makes me somewhat inclined to penalize you . . . but I certainly understand the desire to avoid any sort of redundancy in an Iron Chef build. You didn't really have any good options there, so we'll call it even. (0) You pointed out your build's big weaknesses on your own: anything immune to fear is going to give you fits, and anything that's immune to crits is going to give you a different flavor of frustration. That said, pretty much anyone who plays up the swashbuckling archetype is going to suffer from that weakness, and there's not terribly much that you can do within the limits of the tools you've given yourself. Just mentioning some kind of alternative tactic that you can use against enemies resistant to your chosen tricks would have gotten you a solid boost in Power, but since I'm not sure what you could have said in particular, I can't really hold that against you, especially since you indicated that you know your limitations. (0) Total: 3
Elegance: Even though I dinged you for it under Power, I do have to give you credit for using Frightful Presence to give your charges a little bit of a kick, thereby making Acrobatic Charge not completely incompatible with your chosen fighting style. Sure, the feat also applies when you attack without charging, but I can still see what you were going for, and I approve. (+0.5) I do have to penalize your mixed-up and confusing honorable/dishonorable muddle somewhere, and the fact that your build was, in parts, a bit hard to follow really doesn't make me feel too sympathetic. (–0.5) Now, while your Originality suffered for it, the Rogue/Swashbuckler/Rogue setup that you used to enter into Dread Pirate flows very nicely. Sure, you technically incur multiclassing penalties, but a pox on any DM who enforces those. I could absolutely see someone taking that class combination in that order in an actual 1-to-20 game. (+0.5) I'm not sure why you took your levels of Scarlet Corsair when you did. It's not really clear to my why you would go DP 3/SC3/DP +4/SC +3/DP +2. If there are natural breakpoints there, you didn't make them clear to me. The only one that was obvious was getting out of SC after level 3, because Corsair's Feint is the last really remarkable ability it gives you. As it stands, it seems like you just ended up slowing your progression of Dread Pirate for reasons that I didn't find entirely clear. I think that if you explained why you took what you did when, I might have bought it, but in a vacuum, it doesn't seem very elegant. (–0.5) Total: 3
Use of Secret Ingredient: To be blunt, I don't really think that your reason for not finishing the class was terribly justified. Another average of 3.5 damage against vulnerable foes isn't bad, but compared to having a bevy of followers? It just doesn't compare. Sure, they're useless in a direct fight against an opponent of appropriate CR, but having a swarm of loyal minions can be enormously useful in noncombat scenarios. Not to mention that Motivate the Scum gives you bonuses for killing your own crew . . . you really want a class feature that says that your crew is loyal! You don't want a mutiny! I'd take having a loyal crew over an extra die of damage any day. (–1) That said, you do make decent use of the fear effects that DP gives you (even if you do bafflingly double up on Scourge of the Seas), and I'll give credit where credit is due, even if you didn't do anything to differentiate yourself. (+0.5) I understand that you took Frightful Presence to try to get some use out of Acrobatic Charge, but since Frightful Presence also triggers on an attack, that's kind of a wash. I do see what you were trying to do, at least, so I won't take off anything, but I also can't really reward it. (0) You . . . never really mention your ship or your ability to fight aboard it. You take a few ranks in Profession (Sailor), but you don't actually say what you do with it. You didn't even mention the bonus from Seamanship! You have 19 ranks in Profession (Sailor) and a –1 penalty from your WIS, giving you the +18 that you mention in your “Skills at 20th level” section, but you should have had another +9 on top of that! You're not a pirate; you're just a swashbuckling scurvy dog. (–1) Total: 1.5
Final Evaluation: I was kind of disappointed in what you gave me. You didn't do anything to stand out from the crowd, and Dread Pirate gives you very little that Scarlet Corsair doesn't. What really nailed it for me was the fact that you seemed to forget that your ship was even there—you took your perfunctory ranks in Profession (Sailor), but with your disregard for Seamanship and your crew, well, you didn't really seem to mean it. You seem more like a Rogue who may happen to be on a ship than a true terror of the waves. Rogue/Swashbuckler/DP/SC is a decent baseline on which to build a fearsome pirate, but you really didn't do anything beyond that.
Final Total: 9.75
Hoo boy. Just so you know, I feel bad being so harsh on this build, but I'm afraid that there's quite a lot to criticize. See, the build is illegal on several fronts. First, Able Learner or no Able Learner, Hexblade doesn't have Appraise as a class skill, so you can't have more than half ranks in it. With just Hexblade (and Ghost, I suppose), you couldn't qualify for Dread Pirate until level 13, taking your first level at level 14. Second, your levels in Ghost neither give you feats nor get you closer to gaining feats, since feats are based on HD, not ECL. Oh, and from what I can tell, you use levels in Ghost (not at the beginning, but once you start taking it again after Dread Pirate) to advance BAB and saves, which is explicitly illegal Yeah, I'm gonna have to take off for those. Let's get down to business.
Originality: While I'm certainly not fond of the savage progression classes (especially the online ones), I have to admit that I wasn't expecting them. The ghostly pirate is indeed a flavorful stock character. Good show on that front. (+1) I don't see anything new here as far as tactics go—pretty much stock-standard fear tactics. The only thing that differentiates you on that front is the use of Frightful Moan, but since you do at least have that I can't really dock you points. (0) Hexblade was unexpected, but the fact that it can't qualify you for Dread Pirate makes me disinclined to reward it. I do have to take off points for the illegal way in which you used the Ghost levels (specifically, advancing BAB and saves). (–1) Total: 3
Power: As I said, Hexblade really isn't helping you here. I respect the BAB, the Intimidate, and the CHA to saves, but the Hexblade's Curse, familiar (which it's uncertain if you can take, given the “Undeath” feature of your template and its specific antifamiliar language), and mystery spells are just kinda . . . there. I'd be more lenient if the class actually qualified you for Dread Pirate, but that's just not the case. I have to take off points for the illegal parts of your build somewhere, after all. We'll call that –1 for the illegal skills and –1 for the illegal feat progression, then let the useful and useless parts of Hexblade cancel each other out. (–2) Your use of Power Attack kind of baffles me. I know that it's a prerequisite for Ghost-Faced Killer, but it kind of directly conflicts with the swashbuckling nature of the rest of your build (Weapon Finesse and TWF really don't go with Power Attack, especially if there isn't a spiked chain or something similar on the table). Prereq or no prereq, either it's dead weight for ten levels, or you're disregarding key feats and class features. Neither option bodes well for you. (–0.5) Frightful Moan is a pretty sweet ability, no doubt about that, and you do have the CHA to make it halfway decent. Of course, it'll also send your crew running away in a blind panic, but I guess a dishonorable pirate can't be bothered with such things. (+0.5) Total: 1
Elegance: Right off the bat, you lost points for failing to cite your sources. (–1) Hey, I did specifically warn you about that. Anyway, you're damned lucky that people in the thread linked me to the online savage progression templates, since I wouldn't have had any clue where to look, and I wouldn't have seen the rule that you don't have to take all of the levels at once; I would have applied the Savage Species rules, which would have made this even more illegal. You got lucky. I also had to look harder than I would have liked for your race and spells known. You really didn't make this easy to read—the only thing keeping me from counting off even more is that I feel bad for how much I'm already having to dock you. Moving along, why did you take Ghost-Faced Killer? Going invisible for one round once per day at ECL 20 is, quite bluntly, pathetic. If something that you're fighting at ECL 20 can't see invisible things, that creature doesn't matter. If it were just a filler level for another BAB, I wouldn't count off, but since you spent two feats on qualifying for it, that useless level is going to cost you. (–0.5)
Speaking of Power Attack, while you're manifesting on the Material, you're incorporeal, so you have no Strength score (Rules Compendium, p. 64). I won't count off for that, since you can still have Power Attack while you're on the Ethereal, but I feel compelled to point it out. As a matter of fact, there's a lot of aspects to being ethereal and manifesting as an incorporeal creature that you failed to take into consideration. Any of your ranks in Move Silently that go beyond what you need for prerequisites are wasted against nonethereal foes; when you're manifesting, once again, you're incorporeal, and incorporeal creatures can be heard only if they wish to be. Only other ethereal creatures can hear you, and you didn't mention anything about sneaking away from the Ethergaunts and Ethereal Reavers. Use Rope, once again, will only function against ethereal foes. You will have a devil of a time actually attacking the Material Plane with your weapons, since you need to have had a given weapon with you when you died if you want it to be part of your Ghostly Equipment. Ghostly Equipment also says that attacking the Material Plane as a manifested ghost requires an ethereal (i.e., with you when you died and part of your Ghostly Equipment) magic weapon. Since you appear to have died at level 1, I strongly doubt that you had any magic weapons to speak of. You'll have to find ethereal or ghost touch versions of any equipment you want to have, which I'm going to come out and say is exceedingly unlikely. You'll have an easier time than your average adventurer against ethereal foes, sure, but against material foes? You'll be lucky to do anything. (–0.5) Total: 1
Use of Secret Ingredient: Dread Pirate, even if you could qualify for it (which you can't, as written) does precious little for you. Let's go through the class features . . . Seamanship is more useful than most of the other features, so it's a shame that you never mentioned it. TWF, even if you could comfortably attack the Material, gets no mention in your tactics, and the presence of Power Attack makes it seem pretty useless. Fearsome Reputation does boost your Intimidate check, but we'll get into that in a moment. You don't seem to have any particular way of getting SA, but at least it's something. Acrobatic Charge is wasted on an incorporeal character, as is Steady Stance. Again, we'll get into Scourge of the Seas in a moment. I doubt that a ghost will find much use for taking 10 on Balance, Climb, and Tumble, but you might be able to find something. You make no mention of using Motivate the Scum (and I have a hilarious mental image of you trying to stab a helpless crew member but failing to do so because your incorporeal weapon just goes through them). Pirate King is useful, since you need someone with physical hands to actually run your ship. So yeah, you don't make too much use of most of your class features. (–0.5) But wait, you say. What about all those fear abilities? Well, the thing is, it looks like Frightful Moan is doing most of your fear-related dirty work for you. In fact, since Frightful Moan renders your enemies panicked already, it doesn't stack with your normal demoralization. Yes, your Intimidate check is somewhat harder to resist, but it's pretty clearly taking a back seat to your ghost tricks. Ghost is the real heavyweight here, not Dread Pirate. (–0.5) There's really no reason for you to be a Dread Pirate other than the fact that it has “pirate” in the name. You don't use most of your class features, you don't do anything unique with it, and you don't do anything to build on your Hexblade base. Total: 2
Final Evaluation: This was a really rough build to judge. I feel bad for being so harsh, but I'd give you more points if the build had earned them. Being clearly illegal in three separate areas (the illegal ranks in Appraise, the illegal feat progression, and the illegal use of Ghost levels to advance BAB, saves, and skills) would have me disqualifying you if I had the power to do so. Add in the fact that you didn't really use your class features and didn't think through the ramifications of being an immaterial character . . . I really can't justify giving you any more points.
Final Total: 7