Battle not with truenamers, lest ye learn truenaming.

Quote Originally Posted by Benjamin Nutt
Benjamin Nutt
TN Human
Human Paragon 1 / Cobra Strike Monk 2 / Sneak Attack Thug Fighter 3 / Teflammar Shadowlord 4 / Acolyte of the Ego 10

Stats (32 pts):
STR: 16 (10 pts)
DEX: 14 (6 pts)
CON: 12 (4 pts)
INT: 16 (10 pts)
WIS: 10 (2 pts)
CHA: 8 (0 pts)

Level-up points go into STR.

Level Class Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Skills Feats Class Features
1st Human Paragon 1 +0 +0 +0 +2 Tumble +4 (4), Truespeak +4 (4), Use Magic Device +4 (4), Hide +4 (4), Move Silently +4 (4), Concentration +4 (4), Diplomacy +2 (2), Balance +4 (4), Knowledge: Local (Thesk) +2 (2) Blind-Fight, Darkstalker Adaptive Learning: Use Magic Device
2nd Cobra Strike Monk 1 +0 +2 +2 +4 Hide +1 (5), Move Silently +1 (5), Tumble +1 (5), Use Magic Device +1 (5), Truespeak +1 cc (5), Balance +1 (5), Concentration +1 (5) Dodge (bonus), Improved Unarmed Strike (bonus) Flurry of Blows, AC Bonus, Monk Unarmed Strike, +2 bonus to Escape Artist
3rd Cobra Strike Monk 2 +1 +3 +3 +5 Hide +1 (6), Move Silently +1 (6), Tumble +1 (6), Use Magic Device +1 (6), Truespeak +1 cc (6), Concentration +1 (6), Diplomacy +1 (3) Mobility (Bonus), Craft Wondrous Item Invisible Fist
4th Sneak Attack Thug Fighter 1 +2 +5 +3 +5 Hide +1 cc (7), Move Silently +1 cc (7), Truespeak +1 cc (7), Use Magic Device +1 (7), Tumble +1 (7) No new feats Sneak Attack +1d6
5th Sneak Attack Thug Fighter 2 +3 +6 +3 +5 Hide +1 cc (8), Move Silently +1 cc (8), Truespeak +1 cc (8), Use Magic Device +1 (8), Tumble +1 (8) No new feats No new class abilities
6th Sneak Attack Thug Fighter 3 +4 +6 +3 +6 Hide +1 cc (9), Move Silently +1 cc (9), Truespeak +1 cc (9), Use Magic Device +1 (9), Tumble +1 (9) Spring Attack Sneak Attack +2d6
7th Acolyte of the Ego 1 +5 +8 +3 +6 Hide +1 cc (10), Move Silently +1 cc (10), Truespeak +1 (10), Use Magic Device +1 (10), Concentration +1 (7), Diplomacy +1 (4) No new feats Known Personal Truename
8th Acolyte of the Ego 2 +6 +9 +3 +6 Truespeak +1 (11), Use Magic Device +1 (11), Concentration +3 (10), Diplomacy +3 (7) No new feats Morphic Cadence: Cadence of the Distant Step
9th Teflammar Shadowlord 1 +6 +9 +5 +6 Hide +2 (12), Move Silently +2 (12), Truespeak +1 cc (12), Use Magic Device +1 (12), Tumble +1 (10) Sun School Spells, Shadowsight, Shadow Jump
10th Teflammar Shadowlord 2 +7 +9 +6 +6 Hide +1 (13), Move Silently +1 (13), Truespeak +1 cc (13), Use Magic Device +1 (13), Tumble +2 (12), Balance +1 (6) No new feats Shadow Blur
11th Teflammar Shadowlord 3 +8 +10 +6 +7 Hide +1 (14), Move Silently +1 (14), Truespeak +1 cc (14), Use Magic Device +1 (14), Tumble +2 (14), Balance +1 (7) No new feats Shadow Walk
12th Teflammar Shadowlord 4 +9 +10 +7 +7 Hide +1 (15), Move Silently +1 (15), Truespeak +1 cc (15), Use Magic Device +1 (15), Tumble +1 (15), Concentration +1 cc (11) Power Attack Shadow Pounce
13th Acolyte of the Ego 3 +10 +10 +8 +8 Hide +1 cc (16), Move Silently +1 cc (16), Truespeak +1 (16), Use Magic Device +1 (16), Concentration +1 (12), Diplomacy +1 (8) No new feats Resonant Voice
14th Acolyte of the Ego 4 +11 +11 +8 +8 Hide +1 cc (17), Move Silently +1 cc (17), Truespeak +1 (17), Use Magic Device +1 (17), Concentration +1 (13), Diplomacy +1 (9) No new feats Morphic Cadence: Cadence of the Mighty Bull
15th Acolyte of the Ego 5 +12 +11 +8 +8 Hide +1 cc (18), Move Silently +1 cc (18), Truespeak +1 (18), Use Magic Device +1 (18), Concentration +1 (14), Diplomacy +1 (10) Skill Focus: Truespeak Cadence Mastery
16th Acolyte of the Ego 6 +13 +12 +9 +9 Hide +1 cc (19), Move Silently +1 cc (19), Truespeak +1 (19), Use Magic Device +1 (19), Concentration +1 (15), Diplomacy +1 (11) No new feats Morphic Cadence: Cadence of the Thunder Drake
17th Acolyte of the Ego 7 +14 +12 +9 +9 Hide +1 cc (20), Move Silently +1 cc (20), Truespeak +1 (20), Use Magic Device +1 (20), Concentration +1 (16), Diplomacy +1 (12) Recitation of the Sanguine State (bonus) Alter Personal Truename (–4)
18th Acolyte of the Ego 8 +15 +13 +9 +9 Hide +1 cc (21), Move Silently +1 cc (21), Truespeak +1 (21), Use Magic Device +1 (21), Concentration +1 (17), Diplomacy +1 (13) Martial Study: Shadow Stride Morphic Cadence: Cadence of the Lucky Fool
19th Acolyte of the Ego 9 +16 +13 +10 +10 Hide +1 (22), Move Silently +1 cc (22), Truespeak +1 (22), Use Magic Device +1 (22), Concentration +1 (18), Diplomacy +2 (15) No new feats Alter Personal Truename (–8)
20th Acolyte of the Ego 10 +17 +14 +10 +10 Hide +1 (23), Move Silently +1 cc (23), Truespeak +1 (23), Use Magic Device +1 (23), Concentration +1 (19), Diplomacy +2 (17) No new feats Morphic Cadence: Cadence of the Living Fortress

(Spells for Teflammar Shadowlord:)
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Spells per Day/Spells Known
Spells per Day/Spells Known
Level 0lvl 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
1st - - - - - - - - - -
2nd - - - - - - - - - -
3rd - - - - - - - - - -
4th - - - - - - - - - -
5th - - - - - - - - - -
6th - - - - - - - - - -
7th - - - - - - - - - -
8th - - - - - - - - - -
9th - 0 - - - - - - - -
10th - 1 - - - - - - - -
11th - 1 0 - - - - - - -
12th - 2 1 - - - - - - -
13th - 2 1 - - - - - - -
14th - 2 1 - - - - - - -
15th - 2 1 - - - - - - -
16th - 2 1 - - - - - - -
17th - 2 1 - - - - - - -
18th - 2 1 - - - - - - -
19th - 2 1 - - - - - - -
20th - 2 1 - - - - - - -
(Note: This table does not include bonus spells.)


Story
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When Benjamin was young, his hometown was raided by a band of marauding Truenamers. The townsfolk were helpless against the horrible onslaught. The heartless Truenamers did unavoidable damage with Reversed Words of Nurturing. They used and reused and re-reused Skull Talismans with Rebuild Item. They carried around pet bunnies and healed themselves by uttering at the bunnies. They made themselves immune to the city damage that the town guard-mages tried to throw at them. They used their victims to fuel terrifying sacrifices, made all the more hideously powerful with their overbuffed Knowledge: Religion checks. Benjamin wasn't 100% sure what they were after, but from his hiding place, he saw that they stole every single holy book from the local shrine (dedicated to a minor deity not worshiped anywhere else), cackling about how “the Paragnostic Assembly will love to learn about this!” Benjamin only escaped by running and hiding, but he came away from the experience convinced of two things. First, truenames had power. And second, he wasn't going to allow anyone to do that to him again.

The surviving townsfolk were, understandably, skittish about the concept of studying the dreaded truename magic; thankfully for Benjamin, he was accustomed to keeping things concealed, so his studies mostly flew under the radar of those around him. He wasn't interested in becoming a Truenamer himself; to wholeheartedly devote himself to the magic that caused his friends and family so much heartache just seemed blasphemous. But he couldn't deny that there was power in names, and he never let go of his fascination with that power.

His early research revealed that truenames become harder to speak as their owner increases in power. With that in mind, he joined the next adventuring party that came through town. His goal was twofold: he wanted to become powerful enough not only to fight back against anyone else who thought they could come at him with truename magic, but he also wanted to become powerful enough to become harder to utter at in the first place. Benjamin's skills at sneaking around, along with his knack for crafting magical trinkets, made him get along with the adventuring party just fine, and he became a sturdy adventurer in his own right.

After adventuring around for some time, his furtive research into the power of truenames finally bore fruit: he figured out how to say his own truename, and what's more, he figured out how to use that ability to jaunt short distances. His conscience would never let him try to abuse anyone else's truename, but his own was another matter. At once excited and embarrassed by his discovery, he redoubled his studies in the stealthy arts (trying to make sure that no one else would easily notice his reveling in his new power), weaving his new trick into his attack pattern. Eventually, he found that he was able to save so much time by jaunting rather than walking that he was able to make a full attack after teleporting into place—a full attack and then some, even!

Benjamin continued his research into his own truename. He found new ways to say it, he found ways to make it reverberate in his ears, and he found many ways to use it to his advantage. Perhaps the discovery that made him happiest was when he discovered how to make it harder for other people to say—never again would he feel defenseless against an enemy Truenamer!

He never ran into the original band of Truenamers that laid waste to his home, but he stood ready against them nonetheless, ever vigilant in case they should return.


Tactics
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Benjamin starts out as a basic sneak. Invisible Fist gives him a reliable way of triggering Sneak Attack, not to mention a way to just plain get out of trouble. With Darkstalker, he's able to sneak up on nearly anything, which serves him well.

The first morphic cadence Benjamin learns is Cadence of the Distant Step, which gives him a dimension door-like ability as often as he can succeed on his Truespeak checks. He uses Craft Wondrous Item to get an item or two to help him make those checks (an Amulet of the Silver Tongue, a competence item if he's allowed, and probably a Headband of Intellect, once he can afford it). The +4 for using his own truename helps with this, of course. Not long after getting Cadence of the Distant Step, Sun School lets him make an attack after teleporting around, which is always handy.

Cadence of the Distant Step also qualifies him for Teflammar Shadowlord. The first three levels of Shadowlord are useful enough—always-on blur, if nothing else, is nothing to be ashamed of—but the fourth level is what really makes Cadence of the Distant Step shine. A full attack after using Cadence of the Distant Step is hugely useful, and Sun School stacks another full-power swing on top of that. Benjamin has, at this point, joined the ranks of the shadowpouncers. Cadence of the Distant Step is a pretty long-range effect for something usable so often, so mobility concerns really become a thing of the past. He can teleport around basically wherever he likes, and then unleash a full attack plus one.

Cadence Mastery allows Benjamin to use his other cadences without missing a beat. He can easily turn on Cadence of the Mighty Bull, Cadence of the Lucky Fool, or whatever other cadence he likes, all while shadowpouncing and making a full attack. Cadence of the Thunder Drake is not awe-inspiring when it's used instead of attacking, and its rather paltry range is usually a bummer, but using it after teleporting into the perfect location and making a full attack is another matter entirely.

When he hits 18th level, Benjamin can use Shadow Stride once per encounter, allowing him to get off two full attack sequences (and two extra Sun School attacks) in one round, once per encounter. Cadence of the Distant Step has a much longer range than Shadow Stride, so he will almost always lead with Cadence of the Distant Step and follow with Shadow Stride.

2d6 Sneak Attack isn't huge, but a final BAB of +17 is enough to get four attacks (plus one) out of his full attack routine, and Power Attack is as good on Benjamin as it is on any other beatstick, eventually becoming his primary source of bonus damage. Benjamin stays good at hiding to the very end (especially, but not only, if he crafts himself a Collar of Umbral Metamorphosis), and he can often catch enemies off-guard, so he's relatively accurate.

Benjamin's non-stealth skills are nothing to be ashamed of. Five ranks in Balance keeps him non-flat-footed on slippery surfaces, he's got enough Tumble to reliably get where he needs to go (when he isn't just teleporting anyway), Diplomacy gives him something good to do outside of combat, and Concentration is used to make sure that his morphic cadences don't provoke. He also has maximum ranks in Use Magic Device, which is highly useful both in and out of combat.


Q and A
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Q: How do you qualify for Craft Wondrous Item at 3rd level?
A: Invisible Fist is a supernatural ability without a specified caster level. Per MM pg. 315, a supernatural ability without a specified caster level is assumed to have a caster level of your Hit Dice. Therefore, we have a caster level of 3rd at 3rd level, and we therefore meet the prerequisite for Craft Wondrous Item.

Q: How are you taking Tumble as a class skill with your Sneak Attack Thug Fighter levels?
A: Per the Cityscape web expansion (http://archive.wizards.com/default.a...d/we/20070228a), any class with Ride as a class skill may trade it out in favor of Tumble.

Q: Why don't you take Truespeak as your permanent class skill with Adaptive Learning?
A: That wouldn't be using the secret ingredient to the fullest, now would it? The secret ingredient gets Truespeak as a class skill, so there's no need for us to double up on it. Also, in addition to its normal uses, Use Magic Device can be used to activate scrolls to meet prerequisites for crafting wondrous items, if we can't find a caster willing to help us.

Q: How do you meet Acolyte of the Ego's requirement of speaking four languages?
A: Every point of INT you start the game with allows you to learn one additional language. We speak Common, Elven, Draconic, and Celestial.

Q: Why does Hide stop being cross-class for you at level 19?
A: The feat Martial Study grants you the key skill of the discipline of the maneuver you choose as a class skill. Shadow Stride is a Shadow Hand maneuver, so we get Hide as a class skill at level 18. However, since you pick your feats after you assign your skill points (PHB, pg. 58-59), this doesn't benefit us until level 19.

Q: What are your Teflammar Shadowlord spells known?
A: Teflammar Shadowlord doesn't have a specific number of spells known at each level. It says that “the Shadowlord prepares and casts spells just as a Wizard does” (UE, pg. 36), so it's possible that a spellbook is involved, but the rulebook is otherwise silent on the issue. The spells we would favor the most (and thus would try to get in our spellbook as soon as possible, if that is how it is handled) are Invisibility, Improved Invisibility, Displacement, and Haste.

Q: What kind of items are on your wishlist?
A: An Amulet of the Silver Tongue is critical for keeping up our Truespeak check, and an item that provides a competence bonus to Truespeak is also going to be very handy. A continuous Collar of Umbral Metamorphosis (ToM, pg. 156) can make hiding much, much easier, though we are still functional without it. We do attack, so standard attack-friendly items like a magic weapon and a STR-boosting item are quite useful. Nobody is going to say no to standard numbers-boosting items like enhancement bonuses to stats, a Cloak of Resistance, magic armor, and so on. We can actually craft our own wondrous items, so we should be able to get our hands on quite a few of these as we progress through the levels, meeting the prerequisites either by hiring spellcasters or by buying scrolls to use via UMD.

Q: Do you fight unarmed and unarmored?
A: No, that would be silly. We get proficiency in a martial weapon from Human Paragon, which we use on a greatsword for two-handed fun. Invisible Fist, unlike Evasion, doesn't care if we're armored or not, so we wear the best light armor we can afford (a chain shirt early on, eventually graduating to a mithril breastplate as funds warrant). Our Shadowlord spells do have ASF, so we try to keep that to a minimum (though we have plenty of tricks to fall back upon even without our spells).


Source List
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Human Paragon, Cobra Strike Monk, Sneak Attack Thug Fighter—Unearthed Arcana
Darkstalker—Lords of Madness
Invisible Fist—Exemplars of Evil
Skilled City Dweller—Cityscape Web Expansion
Acolyte of the Ego, Recitation of the Sanguine State—Tome of Magic
Teflammar Shadowlord—Unapproachable East
Sun School—Complete Warrior
Martial Study (Shadow Stride)—Tome of Battle