Entry number 2:

Quote Originally Posted by Vorick Hellakanus
Brother Vorick Hellakanus
Disciple of the Bloody Fist
Spoiler: Build Stub

Human Monk of the Passive Way 2/Rogue 4/Thief of Life 10/Fighter 1/Assassin 3

Spoiler: Background

Quote Originally Posted by Mickey Hart
"Life is about rhythm. We vibrate, our hearts are pumping blood, we are a rhythm machine, that's what we are."
Vorick Hellakanus had a rather unremarkable childhood. He was not an orphan, his parents were happily married, and neither did his father beat him nor did his siblings torment him. He didn't dissect squirrels in the back yard, and he didn't make it a habit to bully his schoolmates. His parents were not poor, but neither were they overly wealthy. His father served in the Karrnathi military, and was a graduate of the Rekkenmark Academy. His mother was a camp surgeon before having kids and settling down to care for the family.

And yet, there was just something always a little off about Vorick. It was never anything obvious, nothing to cause undue attention or concern, just something... different. At times he could be seen staring at the radial artery running through his wrist, counting his pulse under his breath. Other times he would spend hours pouring through his mother's medical textbooks, examining sketches of of the Human form and it's muscular and nervous systems. Thinking maybe a change of scenery would do the child some good, Vorick's family made a sizable donation to a Karrnathi Monastery and shipped Vorick off.

Even that act didn't really shake Vorick's oddness. If nothing else, the structured life of a monk only served to focus Vorick's drive and determination. Focused as he was on the duality of life and death, it should come as no surprise that it was only a matter of time before the Blood of Vol and their Cult of Life should take note of the young Brother Vorick, and offer him a place of acceptance and understanding within their ranks. And so would begin Vorick's journey within the cult.
Quote Originally Posted by Muhammad Iqbal
"I have seen the movement of the sinews of the sky, And the blood coursing in the veins of the moon."
Indoctrination into the Cult of Life was an extremely quick and easy process for Brother Vorick Hellakanus. As soon as he finished his term with the Monastery, Vorick moved closer to a larger cultist cell and soon became a member of the clergy. While Vorick has no access to Divine magic, his monastic training and fervent attitude towards the Cult led to a perfect fit.

It was only a matter of time after becoming a Priest before Vorick was inducted into the inner levels of the Cult. After serving for a number of years, and demonstrating the appropriate levels of proficiency in arcane and religious studies, deception, and even combat, Vorick was offered a position amongst the Thieves of Life.

In his service as a Thief of Life, Vorick was responsible for seeking out valuable artifacts, escorting and protecting the more magically inclined members of the priesthood in finding Mabar manifest zones, and even infiltrating other political and religious organizations in the Church's quest for knowledge.
Quote Originally Posted by Charles Eastman
"Friendship is held to be the severest test of character. It is easy, we think, to be loyal to a family and clan, whose blood is in your own veins."
Risen to the ranks of Abactor and taking orders directly from the Crimson Covenant (and entrusted with even more truth about the inner workings of the Blood of Vol), Vorick spends the vast majority of his time travelling across Khorvaire. It is now his job to both ensure the maintenance of a safehouse for other cultists, and to Seek out new petitioners.

Vorick maintains a few different identities to help with travel across the continent, and continues to train as a martial artist. On occasion he even visits the Crimson Monastery in Atur, in order to help train new monks.
Quote Originally Posted by Georg Buchner
"The death clock is ticking slowly in our breast, and each drop of blood measures its time, and our life is a lingering fever."
Brother Hellakanus now reports directly to Lady Vol. He is one of the thirteen members of the Crimson Covenant, and knows the true identities of his fellow Covenant members. Every year, Brother Hellakanus is called upon to "excommunicate" a fallen member of the faith. The Cult of Life has only one method of excommunication, and that involves the death of the fallen priest. Shunted into an empty room and blindfolded, they are completely helpless and set up perfectly for Vorick's death attack. This serves the dual purpose of eliminating a non-believer, and also extending Vorick's life and delaying the aging process for another year.

And as the blood in the body circulates without cessation, so to does the cycle of the Cult of Life continue.

Spoiler: Ability Scores

Attribute Base Racial From Level Total
Strength 15 - 5 20
Dexterity 16 - - 16
Constitution 12 - - 12
Intelligence 10 - - 10
Wisdom 15 - - 15
Charisma 9 - - 8

Increases from level go into Strength.

Spoiler: Progression Table

Level Class Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Skills Feats Class Features
1st Monk of the Passive Way 1 +0 +2 +2 +2 Heal 4, Hide 4, Knowledge (Arcana) 4, Knowledge (Religion) 4, Move Silently 4 Combat Expertise, Power Attack, Darkstalker Bonus Feat, Improved Unarmed Strike, Flurry of Blows
2nd Monk of the Passive Way 2 +1 +3 +3 +3 Heal 5, Hide 5, Knowledge (Arcana) 5, Knowledge (Religion) 5, Move Silently 5 Improved Trip Bonus Feat, Evasion
3rd Rogue 1 +1 +3 +5 +3 Bluff 1, Disguise 1, Hide 6, Move Silently 6, Use Magic Device 5 Ascetic Rogue Sneak Attack +1d6, Trapfinding
4th Rogue 2 +2 +3 +6 +3 Bluff 5, Disguise 2, Hide 7, Move Silently 7, Use Magic Device 7 - Spell Reflection
5th Rogue 3 +3 +4 +6 +4 Bluff 8, Disguise 5, Hide 8, Move Silently 8, Use Magic Device 8 - Sneak Attack +2d6, Penetrating Strike
6th Rogue 4 +4 +4 +7 +4 Bluff 9, Disguise 9, Hide 9, Move Silently 9, Use Magic Device 9 Stunning Master Disruptive Attack
7th Thief of Life +4 +6 +9 +4 Bluff 10, Disguise 10, Hide 10, Knowledge (Arcana) 6, Knowledge (Religion) 6, Move Silently 10, Use Magic Device 10 - Lifesense (5 ft)
8th Thief of Life 2 +5 +7 +10 +4 Bluff 11, Disguise 11, Hide 11, Knowledge (Arcana) 7, Knowledge (Religion) 7, Move Silently 11, Use Magic Device 11 - Sneak Attack +3d6
9th Thief of Life 3 +6 +7 +10 +5 Bluff 12, Disguise 12, Hide 12, Knowledge (Arcana) 8, Knowledge (Religion) 8, Move Silently 12, Use Magic Device 12 Knock-Down Lifesense (10 ft)
10th Thief of Life 4 +7 +8 +11 +5 Bluff 13, Disguise 13, Hide 13, Knowledge (Arcana) 9, Knowledge (Religion) 9, Move Silently 13, Use Magic Device 13 - Borrow Vigor
11th Thief of Life 5 +7 +8 +11 +5 Bluff 14, Disguise 14, Hide 14, Knowledge (Arcana) 10, Knowledge (Religion) 10, Move Silently 14, Use Magic Device 14 - Immunity to Fear, Lifesense (15 ft)
12th Thief of Life 6 +8 +9 +12 +6 Bluff 15, Disguise 15, Hide 15, Knowledge (Arcana) 11, Knowledge (Religion) 11, Move Silently 15, Use Magic Device 15 Hazing Strike Sneak Attack +4d6
13th Thief of Life 7 +9 +9 +12 +6 Bluff 16, Disguise 16, Hide 16, Knowledge (Arcana) 12, Knowledge (Religion) 12, Move Silently 16, Use Magic Device 16 - Immunity to Energy Drain, Lifesense (20 ft)
14th Thief of Life 8 +10 +10 +13 +6 Bluff 17, Disguise 17, Hide 17, Knowledge (Arcana) 13, Knowledge (Religion) 13, Move Silently 17, Use Magic Device 17 - Steal Vitality
15th Thief of Life 9 +10 +10 +13 +7 Bluff 18, Disguise 18, Hide 18, Knowledge (Arcana) 14, Knowledge (Religion) 14, Move Silently 18, Use Magic Device 18 Improved Critical (Unarmed Strike) Immunity to Death Effects, Lifesense (25 ft)
16th Thief of Life 10 +11 +11 +14 +7 Bluff 19, Disguise 19, Hide 19, Knowledge (Arcana) 15, Knowledge (Religion) 15, Move Silently 19, Use Magic Device 19 - Sneak Attack +5d6, Steal Immortality
17th Fighter 1 +12 +13 +14 +7 Intimidate 3 Snap Kick Bonus Feat, Hit & Run Tactics
18th Assassin 1 +12 +13 +16 +7 Bluff 20, Disguise 20, Hide 20, Move Silently 20, Use Magic Device 20 Staggering Strike Sneak Attack +6d6, Death Attack, Poison Use, Spells
19th Assassin 2 +13 +13 +17 +7 Bluff 21, Disguise 21, Hide 21, Move Silently 21, Use Magic Device 21 - +1 Saves against Poison, Uncanny Dodge
20th Assasin 3 +14 +14 +17 +8 Bluff 22, Disguise 22, Hide 22, Move Silently 22, Use Magic Device 22 - Sneak Attack +7d6

Spoiler: Spellcasting

Spells per Day/Spells Known
Level 1st 2nd
18th 0/2 -
19th 1/3 -
20th 2/3 0/2
Spells Known:
  1. True Strike, Disguise Self, Feather Fall
  2. Alter Self, Undetectable Alignment

The ability to both know and cast spells is predicated upon having items to increase your Intelligence. However, the ability to cast these spells comes so late in the game that a) having an intelligence boosting item should be trivial, and b) the success or failure of this build is not dependent upon spellcasting.

Spoiler: Level Breakdown

  • Level 1-5: Early on, you play this character as a typical BFC Monk, setting yourself up for sneak attacks and trip attempts whenever possible, and using your stunning fist ability to keep opponents locked down. Spell Reflection and Penetrating Strike help you remain competent against spell casters and their pesky undead minions and constructs.
  • Level 6-10: In this level range, you still want to capitalize on Sneak Attacks of Opportunity in order to key your Knock-Down feat. When they try to stand back up, hit them again with an attack of opportunity, and knock 'em back down! In the event that you find yourself up against something that can't be sneak attacked, or against something with a truly prodigious AC, Disruptive Attack will help lower that AC by 5 points. In this level range, you also start working on the Secret Ingredient, Thief of Life. Lifesense helps you find hidden creatures, and gets more powerful the higher level you get. At level 10, you also get Borrow Vigor, which gives you temporary HP when you land the killing blow against your opponents, making it beneficial to wipe out some of those low HP mooks cluttering up the battlefield. We also get Hazing Strike, which makes our opponent unable to maintain nonmagical altered mental states, such as rage, psionic focus, and other similar abilities.
  • Level 11-15: Picking up more levels of Thief of Life in this range, we also get Immunity to Fear, Energy Drain, and Death Effects, our Lifesense ability increases up to 25 feet, and we get Steal Vitality, giving you immunity to exhaustion, sleep and fatigue effects for a number of hours equal to the slain creatures hit dice. We also pick up Improved Critical and Roundabout Kick, increasing our Critical Threat range and giving us a bonus attack on those critical strikes.
  • Sweet Spot: In my opinion, level 15 or 16 is about when this build reaches it's optimimum range of effectiveness. Your saving throws are all at a good range, at 16 you have 3 base attacks and all of your Thief of Life abilities, plus Roundabout Kick and all of your other BFC feats from earlier, plus on average around 70 hit points (before items). You aren't the tankiest person on the field, but you aren't the squishiest either. If you factor in the fluff of the prestige class, by the last level of Thief of Life, you are most likely a member of the Crimson Covenant, and thus "protected by the mightiest magic at Vol's disposal." This would probably mean, in the least, being provided a decent amount of magical defensive items (see the Magical Items section).
  • Level 16-20: At level 16, we finish off the Secret Ingredient, gaining another Sneak Attack die and Steal Immortality. Level 17 gives us a Fighter feat (Snap Kick) and another attack, plus Hit & Run tactics, giving us another small boost to our damage. The last 3 levels are all in Assassin, giving us poison use (not terrible), possibly some interesting spells, a couple more Sneak Attack dice, and Uncanny Dodge. We also get our last feat, Staggering Blow, which lets us put out more stunning blows whenever we land a critical strike.

Spoiler: Items

As a melee front line character, you obviously benefit from the standard defensive items (Ring of Protection, Bracers of Armor, Vest of Resistance). A Monk's Belt is almost required for any Monk build, as is an Amulet of Mighty Fists. Wings of Flying are always useful, in order to deal with aerial opponents. Anklets of Translocation are useful for tactical movement, and all Monks can benefit from Strength, Dexterity and Wisdom boosting items.

Spoiler: Sources

  • SRD - Monk, Rogue, Fighter, Assassin, Power Attack, Combat Expertise, Improved Critical, Improved Trip
  • Complete Mage - Spell Reflection ACF (p35)
  • Complete Adventurer - Ascetic Rogue (p106)
  • Complete Warrior - Roundabout Kick (p105)
  • Dungeonscape - Penetrating Strike ACF (p13)
  • Lords of Madness - Darkstalker (p179)
  • Deities and Demigods - Knock-Down (p51)
  • Unearthed Arcana - Passive Way Monk (p52)
  • Secrets of Sarlona - Hazing Strike (p117)
  • Tome of Battle - Snap Kick (p32)
  • Dragon Compendium - Staggering Blow (p109)
  • Dungeon Master's Guide/Magic Item Compendium - Magic Items
  • Drow of the Underdark - Hit & Run Tactics ACF (p58)
  • Faiths of Eberron - Thief of Life