SpoilerI found this in my files, completely forgotten that I had made it. I've... I've no clue where this came from or why. Perhaps it was an entry into a contest I never submitted, or maybe it was boredom. Who can say? Whatever the reason, here it is!
”Come one, come all, to the greatest show in all of Sharn! You have never seen anything like this in all of your days! You will be shocked! You will be amazed! And you... will be dead. Ain’t that right, Martha?”
- Carl d’Cannith, gearing up for a fight
Puppets are among the oldest props in theatre. Proxy actors, meticulously carved and painted to be the perfection representation of a single role. It can take years to truly master the art of puppetry, to bring the tiniest motions to life with grace and fluidity. It can be a truly impressive thing to see a master puppeteer work his craft on the stage.
In this case, the stage is usually a bar fight.
Nobody’s quite sure who pioneered the art of life-sized, magical marionettes, but almost everyone can agree that this decision was incredibly creepy. Saner theories suggest an artificer who wanted to grant his homunculus a measure of combat prowess, or perhaps a warrior with a failing body who simply could not stand to be out of the fight. Whomever it was, uncanny though it may be, it turned into a decidedly useful innovation in single combat. Fighting by proxy is nothing new, and animate constructs are novel, but not uncommon. The particular style of such things favored by sublime manipulators is... certainly something to behold, however. By controlling a life-sized mannequin of wood, metal, and even bone, the sublime manipulator fuses puppetry and martial arts in a way that most would rather put out of their mind.
It doesn’t help that they like to name the darn things. Really, just because you carry around a wooden woman doesn’t mean you have to talk to her all the time, Carl.
BECOMING A SUBLIME MANIPULATOR
All sublime manipulators are some combination of artificer and martial initiator.
Base Attack Bonus: +4
Skills: Craft (any) 8 ranks, Martial Lore 4 ranks
Maneuvers: Any one martial stance.
Special: Craft Homunculus class feature
The Sublime Manipulator's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Balance (Dex), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Jump (Str), Knowledge (all skills) (Int), Martial Lore (Int), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Spellcraft (Int), Use Magic Device (Cha).
Skills Points at Each Level: 6 + int
Hit Dice: d8
Level BAB Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Special 1st +0 +0 +2 +0 Martial Marionette, Dance Strings Stance 2nd +1 +0 +3 +0 Puppet Show Panic 3rd +2 +1 +3 +1 Murderous Manikin Method 4th +3 +1 +4 +1 Shadow Puppet Evasion 5th +3 +1 +4 +1 Twin Terror Execution
Weapon Proficiencies: The sublime manipulator gains no proficiencies in weapons or armor.
Class Level Maneuvers Known Maneuvers Readied Stance Known Infusions 1st 0 1 0 - 2nd 1 0 0 +1 level of infusing class 3rd 0 1 1 +1 level of infusing class 4th 1 0 0 +1 level of infusing class 5th 0 1 0 -
Maneuvers and Stances: The sublime manipulator gain additional maneuvers and stances readied and known, as shown on the table above. These maneuvers and stances are drawn from the Diamond Mind, Iron Heart, Stone Dragon, and Tiger Claw disciplines. Maneuvers learned from this class are recovered in the same way as the martial initiator normally would recover maneuvers.
Infusions: At 2nd, 3rd, and 4th level, the sublime manipulator advances in infusions per day and level of infusions known as though he had advanced a level in a previous infusion-granting class.
Martial Marionette (Ex): The inspiration comes in a flash, a “Eureka!” moment, if you will. The potential to merge your passion for magical artisanship and martial prowess is just so simple that you’re surprised you hadn’t thought of it sooner. You set to work making up for lost time, and before you know it, the blueprints to your success are laid out on the table.
At 1st level, you become capable of crafting a “Martial Marionette” homunculus. This homunculus is made and improved in much the same way as your usual homunculi, save for two things: first, you can improve the hit dice of a martial marionette for a mere 200 gold per additional die, rather than the usual cost. Second, the marionette has no intelligence score - it is entirely incapable of acting on its own.
You may take the Improved Homunculus feat (see Magic of Eberron) to improve your martial marionette, as described in the feat description.
Dancing Strings Stance (Su): While you are in any martial stance, you may use a swift action to switch into Dancing Strings stance. You lose the effects of the stance, but what happens next is well worth the sacrifice.
Dancing Strings stance requires that you be touching your martial marionette, and that both hands must otherwise be free. As soon as you enter the stance, the inert doll springs to life and floats into a battle-ready stance in an adjacent square. You control its motions with fine movements of your hands and fingers, supernatural strings through which you channel your martial talent. If you exit the stance, the marionette falls lifeless to the ground once more.
You have a number of options regarding the control of your martial marionette.
- You can cause the martial marionette to move as a move action. You may also move as part of this action, but the marionette can never be more than 25 feet from you. If you move such that it would take you further than this, the marionette is pulled to within range.
- You can cause the martial marionette to “snap back” to an adjacent square as an immediate action.
- You can cause the martial marionette to enter any stance you know as a swift action. The martial marionette begins in the stance you were initially in when you entered Dancing Strings stance.
- You can cause the martial marionette to initiate any maneuver you have readied, using up your equivalent action for the round. You lose the maneuver as though you had initiated it, and can recover it as normal. You use your own attack and skill bonuses, and use your Dexterity bonus in place of any other physical attribute that would be involved.
- You can cause the martial marionette to take any combat action that you could take, simply by expending the equivalent action. For example, if you want your martial marionette to make a charge attack, it would take a full-round action on your turn. You may use combat-oriented feats (such as Power Attack) through your martial marionette as well. Use your attack bonuses, but the martial marionette’s ability score modifiers, where applicable.
- You cannot use any class or racial features through your martial marionette, such as rage or sneak attack, except as noted above.
Puppet Show Panic (Su): At 2nd level, you learn a special maneuver for use with your martial marionette. This maneuver is added to your maneuvers known (and doesn’t count against your normal limit), and may be readied and recovered like any other maneuver you know.
Puppet Show Panic
Sublime Manipulator Special Maneuver (Counter)
Trigger: An attack targeting your martial marionette
Target: One Creature
Your marionette dances around your foe, twisting and contorting in ways that only inhuman limbs can allow. Your target finds great difficulty following its movement, and in its confusion leaves itself open to attack.
Unlike other maneuvers, you cannot use this maneuver yourself - it must be used through your martial marionette. As such, you must be in Dancing Strings stance to make use of this maneuver at all.
Your martial marionette gains a Dodge bonus to Armor Class equal to 3 + your Dexterity modifier. If the attack misses, the target is flat-footed against your (or your marionette’s) next attack.
Murderous Manikin Method (Ex): By 3rd level, you are much more comfortable fighting through your martial marionette than by yourself. Add your Dexterity modifier to all damage dealt through your martial marionette.
Shadow Puppet Evasion (Su): Beginning at 4th level, you learn an additional special maneuver. As with other maneuvers granted by this class, you may ready and recover this maneuver as you would any other.
Shadow Puppet Evasion
Sublime Manipulator Special Maneuver (Counter)
Trigger: An attack targeting you, before damage has been rolled.
The dagger plunges in from an unexpected angle, nearly catching you off guard. But where your kidneys were a moment before, there is only wood and steel. Your puppet is now in the perfect position to strike, and you are safely out of reach.
Unlike most maneuvers, you cannot originate this maneuver with your martial marionette - although you must be in Dancing Strings stance to take advantage of this maneuver at all. You immediately swap places with your martial marionette by way of teleportation. This maneuver is a supernatural effect.
Twin Terror Execution (Ex): Upon reaching the pinnacle of your craft, you are so skilled at controlling your puppet that you only need one free hand to effectively control your puppet.
In addition, you can utilize this mastery to strike in tandem with your martial marionette. When you direct your martial marionette to initiate a maneuver, you may initiate the same maneuver at the same time by expending an additional readied maneuver. This second maneuver does not activate, but is expended and can be recovered normally.
This maneuver may be initiated against separate targets, but if you and your marionette are within reach of a single target, you target the same opponent simultaneously.
Basic Stats for a Martial Marionette:
Hit Dice: 2d10+20 (31 hp)
Speed: 40 ft. (8 squares)
Armor Class: 18 (+2 Dex, +6 natural), touch 12,flat-footed 16
Base Attack/Grapple: +1/+4
Attack: Slam +4 melee (1d6+4)
Full Attack: Slam +4 melee (1d6+4)
Special Attacks: -
Special Qualities: Inert, Levitate, construct traits,darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision
Saves: Fort +0, Ref +2, Will +0
Abilities: Str 17, Dex 15, Con Ø, Int Ø, Wis 11, Cha 10
Challenge Rating: 1
Alignment: Always True Neutral
Level Adjustment: -
A martial marionette is a humanoid doll made from a combination of wood, metal, and even bone. While animate, it is capable of holding weapons and shields.
Inert (Ex): For most of the time, a martial marionette is an inert doll, nothing more than an expensive mannequin. However, when a sublime manipulator enters Dancing Strings stance, the martial marionette comes to life with the statistics above. It is not a true creature, but an object manipulated by magic.
Levitate (Su): While being manipulated by a sublime manipulator, the martial marionette floats two inches above solid and liquid surfaces.