We're all following a strange melody
We're all haunted by a tune
We're following the Piper
And we dance beneath the moon for him
And we dance beneath the moon
Originally Posted by Xander MarchandSpoiler: Image and FluffShow"They never thought I was good enough. I could see it in their eyes, hear it in their voice - the desire that I just give up, and go home. To forsake my destiny as a Piper, to forget my trials and tribulations, to forgive myself for my inability to achieve as they had. It didn't matter that I was the first-born, that I should've inherited it by tradition. All they ever cared about was my 'gifted' brother and his stupid music."
"Just as well; they're all rotting in the Nine Hells now, courtesy of my masters. Serves them right."
Xander Marchand had never gotten what he'd deserved. As the firstborn of his family, it was to be his right - and his right only - to train as a Pied Piper, as was tradition. He would learn the dances, the sayings, and the practices of his ancestors, and would one day don the sacred garb of the first Piper with pride. That was his destiny, they told him. His reason for being.
Unfortunately, The talents of the Pipers were not among Xander's repertoire. When asked to play a tune, he would deliver a cacophony; when asked to recite the legend, he could only ever remember its morbid ending. He showed a clear bond with vermin and creatures, true, but his music was foul and his personality poisonous. He was greedy, overconfident, and sullen. He was vainglorious and ignorant, denied all fault from his own mistakes, and refused to listen to the advice of his teachers and peers. Thus, when his younger brother - a talented soul, gifted with music and joyous of heart - stepped into the picture, he was cast out in turn. There was no place for him among them, they said. He could live with his books and his raptors and his venomous ideology, but not with them. Never again.
Rejection, however, bred regret. Regret bred malice and, in turn, hatred. In exile, vengeance - on his peers, on his teachers, on his damnable brother - became his sole goal, and he sought it out with impunity. He was not strong enough to exact his will alone, though, and so he searched for others. The young boy read tomes, contacted eldritch researchers, and pursued the darkest realms of study in search of power and of fame. Power over others, over vermin, rodents, and otherwise. Fame amongst his people, throughout the world, across the planes. He wanted some way to prove his skills, earn the garbs of his ancestors, and flourish as his tutors had promised him so. And although he eventually did locate one who could help him in his vendetta, an aranea loyal to Lolth and fiends both, such power did not come freely. Instead, he was offered a bargain. He took it without a thought.
He returned to his hometown not weeks later, but he did not do so alone. With him came the scum of the wilds - insects, spiders, rats and more, starved and ravenous all. Each he had plucked from the forests, ensorcelled, and they struck the town as one. Together, they sought out his elders, his brothers and sisters, and each was struck down in turn without so much as the slightest hesitation. By the end of the night, all knew of his return - for he exacted his payment, and that of his new masters, on father, mother, and child alike. There were none among them who lost nothing, and those who escaped with their lives did so with fear in their hearts. For, amongst it all, the exile had claimed his prize; the Vestments of the Pied Piper, hard-won and blood-soaked, from the body of his own sibling. Those who survived said that he took to to the garb well, and held no regrets over his actions.
After all, he had merely followed the instructions of his forebears:
"Thou shalt not suffer an oathbreaker to live, and their loved ones doubly so."
Spoiler: SpecificsShowXander Marchand, the Last Pied Piper
Classes: Incarnate 1/Wizard 7/Vermin Lord 2/Legacy Champion 10
ACFs: Animal Companion Wizard ACF (replaces Familiar), Domain Granted Power Wizard ACF (replaces 5th level bonus feat)
Alignment: Neutral Evil
Ability Scores: 32 Point Buy
Base: 8 Str, 14 Dex, 15 Con, 16 Int, 8 Wis, 15 Cha
Levels: +2 Int, +1 Con, +2 Dex
Total: 8 Str, 16 Dex, 16 Con, 18 Int, 8 Wis, 15 Cha
Level Class Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Skills Feats Class Features 1st Incarnate 1 +2 +0 +0 +2 4 Concentration, 4 Knowledge (History), 4 Knowledge (Planes), 4 Spellcraft, 2 Perform (Wind Instruments)* Verminfriend, Wild Cohort (B) Aura, Detect Opposition 2nd Wizard 1 +0 +2 +0 +4 4 Concentration, 4 Knowledge (History), 5 Knowledge (Planes), 4 Spellcraft, 2 Perform (Wind Instruments), 2 Hide* Scribe Scroll (B) Animal Companion 3rd Wizard 2 +1 +2 +0 +5 4 Concentration, 4 Knowledge (History), 6 Knowledge (Planes), 4 Spellcraft, 3 Perform (Wind Instruments)*, 3 Hide* Share Soulmeld 4th Wizard 3 +1 +3 +1 +5 4 Concentration, 4 Knowledge (History), 7 Knowledge (Planes), 4 Spellcraft, 3 Perform (Wind Instruments), 3 Hide, 2 Knowledge (Nature), 1 Move Silently* 5th Wizard 4 +2 +3 +1 +6 4 Concentration, 4 Knowledge (History), 8 Knowledge (Planes), 4 Spellcraft, 3 Perform (Wind Instruments), 3 Hide, 2 Knowledge (Nature), 3 Move Silently* Least Legacy: Vestments of the Pied Piper (B) Fear Aura 6th Wizard 5 +2 +3 +1 +6 4 Concentration, 5 Knowledge (History), 8 Knowledge (Planes), 4 Spellcraft, 3 Perform (Wind Instruments), 3 Hide, 2 Knowledge (Nature), 3 Move Silently*, 2 Knowledge (Arcana) Planar Touchstone (Catalogues of Enlightenment), Incarnum Spellshaping (B) Domain Granted Power (Incarnum) 7th Wizard 6 +3 +4 +2 +7 4 Concentration, 8 Knowledge (History), 8 Knowledge (Planes), 4 Spellcraft, 3 Perform (Wind Instruments), 3 Hide, 2 Knowledge (Nature), 3 Move Silently*, 4 Knowledge (Arcana) 8th Wizard 7 +3 +4 +2 +7 4 Concentration, 10 Knowledge (History), 8 Knowledge (Planes), 4 Spellcraft, 5 Perform (Wind Instruments), 3 Hide, 2 Knowledge (Nature), 3 Move Silently*, 4 Knowledge (Arcana) 9th Vermin Lord 1 +3 +4 +2 +9 4 Concentration, 10 Knowledge (History), 8 Knowledge (Planes), 5 Spellcraft, 10 Perform (Wind Instruments), 3 Hide, 2 Knowledge (Nature), 3 Move Silently*, 4 Knowledge (Arcana) Obtain Familiar Chitin +1, Vermin Servant 1 HD 10th Vermin Lord 2 +4 +4 +2 +10 6 Concentration, 13 Knowledge (History), 8 Knowledge (Planes), 5 Spellcraft, 13 Perform (Wind Instruments), 3 Hide, 2 Knowledge (Nature), 3 Move Silently*, 4 Knowledge (Arcana) Blood Drain 11th Legacy Champion 1 +4 +4 +2 +12 8 Concentration, 14 Knowledge (History), 8 Knowledge (Planes), 9 Spellcraft, 14 Perform (Wind Instruments), 3 Hide, 2 Knowledge (Nature), 3 Move Silently*, 4 Knowledge (Arcana) Lesser Legacy: Vestments of the Pied Piper (B) Reduced ritual Cost (Lesser), Bond of Lore 12th Legacy Champion 2 +5 +4 +2 +13 10 Concentration, 15 Knowledge (History), 8 Knowledge (Planes), 11 Spellcraft, 15 Perform (Wind Instruments), 3 Hide, 2 Knowledge (Nature), 3 Move Silently*, 4 Knowledge (Arcana) Expanded Soulmeld Capacity Replace Legacy Ability (Least) | +1 Vermin Lord: Spider Hand 13th Legacy Champion 3 +6/+1 +5 +3 +13 14 Concentration, 16 Knowledge (History), 8 Knowledge (Planes), 13 Spellcraft, 16 Perform (Wind Instruments), 3 Hide, 2 Knowledge (Nature), 3 Move Silently*, 4 Knowledge (Arcana) Extra Legacy Ability Use (Least) | +1 Vermin Lord: Chitin +2, Swarm Armour 14th Legacy Champion 4 +7/+2 +5 +3 +14 16 Concentration, 17 Knowledge (History), 8 Knowledge (Planes), 15 Spellcraft, 17 Perform (Wind Instruments), 3 Hide, 2 Knowledge (Nature), 3 Move Silently*, 4 Knowledge (Arcana) Quicken Legacy: Vomit Swarm (B) Bonus Legacy Feat | +1 Vermin Lord: Wings of the Vermin, Vermin Servant 4 HD 15th Legacy Champion 5 +7/+2 +5 +3 +14 18 Concentration, 18 Knowledge (History), 8 Knowledge (Planes), 18 Spellcraft, 18 Perform (Wind Instruments), 3 Hide, 2 Knowledge (Nature), 3 Move Silently*, 4 Knowledge (Arcana), 1 Listen Extraordinary Concentration Replace Legacy Ability (Lesser) | +1 Vermin Lord: Spider Legs 16th Legacy Champion 6 +8/+3 +6 +4 +15 19 Concentration, 19 Knowledge (History), 8 Knowledge (Planes), 19 Spellcraft, 19 Perform (Wind Instruments), 3 Hide, 2 Knowledge (Nature), 3 Move Silently*, 4 Knowledge (Arcana), 5 Listen Extra Legacy Ability Use (Lesser) | +1 Vermin Lord: Chitin +3, Spew Vermin 17th Legacy Champion 7 +9/+4 +6 +4 +15 20 Concentration, 20 Knowledge (History), 8 Knowledge (Planes), 20 Spellcraft, 20 Perform (Wind Instruments), 3 Hide, 2 Knowledge (Nature), 3 Move Silently*, 4 Knowledge (Arcana), 9 Listen Greater Legacy: Vestments of the Pied Piper (B) Reduced Ritual Cost (Greater) 18th Legacy Champion 8 +10/+5 +6 +4 +16 21 Concentration, 21 Knowledge (History), 8 Knowledge (Planes), 21 Spellcraft, 21 Perform (Wind Instruments), 3 Hide, 2 Knowledge (Nature), 3 Move Silently*, 4 Knowledge (Arcana), 11 Listen Open Greater Chakra (Throat), Quicken Legacy: Beguiling Proposal (B) Bonus Legacy Feat | +1 Vermin Lord: Poison 19th Legacy Champion 9 +10/+5 +7 +5 +16 22 Concentration, 22 Knowledge (History), 8 Knowledge (Planes), 22 Spellcraft, 22 Perform (Wind Instruments), 3 Hide, 2 Knowledge (Nature), 3 Move Silently*, 4 Knowledge (Arcana), 15 Listen Extra Legacy Ability Use (Greater) | +1 Vermin Lord: Vermin Servant 16 HD 20th Legacy Champion 10 +11/+6/+1 +7 +5 +17 23 Concentration, 23 Knowledge (History), 8 Knowledge (Planes), 23 Spellcraft, 23 Perform (Wind Instruments), 3 Hide, 2 Knowledge (Nature), 3 Move Silently*, 4 Knowledge (Arcana), 17 Listen Replace Legacy Ability (Greater) | +1 Vermin Lord: Chitin +4, Hivemind
Spoiler: Wizard Spellcasting ProgressionShowSpells Per Day
Level 0lvl 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 1st - - - - - - - - - - 2nd 3 1 - - - - - - - - 3rd 4 2 - - - - - - - - 4th 4 2 1 - - - - - - - 5th 4 3 2 - - - - - - - 6th 4 3 2 1 - - - - - - 7th 4 3 3 2 - - - - - - 8th 4 4 3 2 1 - - - - - 9th 4 4 3 3 2 - - - - - 10th 4 4 3 3 2 - - - - - 11th 4 4 3 3 2 - - - - - 12th 4 4 4 3 2 1 - - - - 13th 4 4 4 3 2 1 - - - - 14th 4 4 4 3 3 2 - - - - 15th 4 4 4 3 3 2 - - - - 16th 4 4 4 4 3 2 1 - - - 17th 4 4 4 4 3 2 1 - - - 18th 4 4 4 4 3 2 1 - - - 19th 4 4 4 4 3 3 2 - - - 20th 4 4 4 4 4 3 2 1 - -
The table above does not include modifiers from Legacy Item payments/features or from a high ability score.
Spells Known: Universalist Wizard.
0th Level: All known.
1th Level: Colour Spray, Benign Transposition, Familiar Pocket, Feather Fall, True Strike, Identify, Shield, Mage Armour
2nd Level: Summon Swarm, Soul Boon, Rope Trick, Mirror Image
3rd Level: Least Revitalise Legacy, Enhance Familiar, Mass Mage Armour, Mass Snake's Swiftness
4th Level: Polymorph, Scrying, Evard's Black Tentacles, Summon Pest Swarm
5th Level: Telekinesis, Permanency, Teleport, Nightstalker's Transformation
6th Level: Freezing Fog, Eyebite, True Seeing, Contingency
7th Level: Simulacrum, Limited Wish
Spoiler: Legacy Item PresentationShowVᴇsᴛᴍᴇɴᴛs ᴏғ ᴛʜᴇ Pɪᴇᴅ Pɪᴘᴇʀ
Wielder Level Skill Check Penalty Caster Level Penalty Skill Point Loss Spell Slot Loss Abilities 5th — — — — Verminous Vibrations 6th — -1 2 — Piper's Prowess +5 7th — — — 1st Vest of Resistance +2 8th -1 — 2 — Swarm Sensitivity 9th — — 2 — — 10th -1 — — 2nd Vest of Resistance +3 11th — — — — — 12th — — 2 — Piper's Prowess +10 13th — -2 — 3rd Vest of Resistance +4 14th — — 2 — Vomit Swarm 5/day 15th -2 — — — Beguiling Proposal 16th — — — 4th Vest of Resistance +5 17th — — — — Piper's Prowess +15 18th — -3 2 — Bargain 1/day 19th — — — 5th Bewitch 3/day 20th -3 — 2 — Swarm Stride 2/day
Spoiler: Legacy Item BreakdownShowLegacy Item Breakdown
Level Tier Ability 5 Least Menu A: Verminous Vibrations * 6 Least Menu A: Skill Enhancement: Perform (Wind Instruments) +5 7 Least Menu A: Resistance +1 8 Least Menu A: Swarm Sensitivity ** 9 Least EXPENDED 10 Least Menu B: Resistance +1 11 Lesser EXPENDED 12 Lesser Menu E: Skill Enhancement: Perform (Wind Instruments) +10 13 Lesser Menu C: Resistance +1 14 Lesser Menu D: Summon Swarm 5/day 15 Lesser Menu D: Psionic Suggestion at-will *** 16 Lesser Menu C: Resistance +1 17 Greater Menu G: Skill Enhancement: Perform (Wind Instruments) +15 18 Greater Menu G: Planar Ally 1/day 19 Greater Menu G: Charm Monster 3/day 20 Greater Menu G: Tree Stride 2/day ****
* Given that the monetary cost of the Pipes of the Sewers is a mere 1,150gp, an amount easily obtainable by level 5 and which can be covered by the Least Ritual costs, there shouldn't be any balance issues here. Menu A seemed to be the most appropriate tier for such an ability.
** Based on the Green Empathy ability of Treebrother, page 170. It targets vermin, rats and rodents instead of plants, and uses the Perform (Wind Instruments) skill instead of a check of 1d20+level+Cha. Seems to be a Menu A option. If the modifiers this item grants to Perform (Wind Instruments) checks would make this ability too strong, then setting it to operate as the default Wild Empathy ability would suffice; using the perform skill instead simply seemed more appropriate.
*** Based on the Penetrating Proposal ability of Mau-Jehe, page 115. Suggestion 2/day is a Menu C option, while this seems to be a Menu D option.
**** 2/day Teleport is available as an option at this level; a modified Tree Stride, usable on vermin instead of trees, should be equivalent in value
These gaudy clothes are reminiscent of an older, simpler time before the evolution of good taste.
Nonlegacy Game Statistics: Vest of Resistance +1; Cost 1000gp; Weight 1 lb.
Omen: The coloration of the Vestments of the Pied Piper changes upon being donned, shifting subtly to clash horribly with some other part of the wearer's wardrobe. The wearer, however, will never notice this until it is pointed out to him by someone else.
Garments such as these, imbued with magic to maintain their garish majesty, were once a prized possession in ages past. While especially popular among bards, jesters, and traveling musicians, this particular garb belonged to a man of no small import. Though his name has long since been lost to the annals of history, the tales of the Pied Piper are told throughout the land to small children so as to scare them into good behaviour. (DC 15)
The earliest of tales set his origins almost five hundred years ago, by the northern town of Hamblyn. Infested by rats and struck by plague, the Pied Piper negotiated a deal with the town's mayor; gold, one thousand, if he was only to take care of the rats. The mayor agreed, for he had heard of the Piper's honest work in Tartre and Asha, and didst so wish for his town to be free of its vermin. (DC 20; Pledge of the Pied Pipers)
Thusly entrusted by the mayor, the Pied Piper took to Hamblyn's streets and hence played a tune with his fine, oaken panpipes. It rattled the halls and the walls, from alleyway to courtyard, and so came the rats of the town - dozens, hundreds, of not thousands from every nook, cranny, pore and corner. Though at first they did so with great speed, his magicks did yet have a trick; an captivating melody, befitting a prince, set to fascinate both swarm and straggler. He led them from the town and, one by one, into the nearby river Vesre, 'til there were none of their numbers left alive. (DC 25; Trial by Swarm)
Yet, when all was settled and his part was done, no heed was given to the town's saviour. No gold, no goods, no hearth or meal; nothing, not even a scrap. When asked of this, the mayor rebuked in jest - and, thus denied his rightful debt, the Pied Piper was forced to seek his own payment. Thus, once again, he played upon his panpipes, and once again his tunes rumbled and tumbled, and once against didst he work his magicks. This time, though, he drew of the children, and led them elsewhere beyond the Vesre. Thus shunned, neither he nor the children were ever seen or heard from again - though it is said that his descendants, who inherited his possessions, share in his indignation. (DC 30; Steal the Deal)
Pledge of the Pied Pipers: You are required to keep your word and fulfil any promises you make, upholding the legacy of the Pied Pipers. Each time you fail to act in a manner required by this pledge, you lose the two highest-level abilities of the Vestments of the Pied Piper to which you have access for one day. Cost: 2,000 gp. Feat Granted: Least Legacy (Vestments of the Pied Piper)
Trial by Swarm: You must prove your skills as a Pied Piper by defeating a collection of swarms, vermin, rats, or other rodents with a combined Challenge Rating equal to or greater than your character level. You must do so without the help of any other individuals. Cost: 14,000 gp. Feat Granted: Lesser Legacy (Vestments of the Pied Piper)
Steal the Deal: You must exact payment from an oathbreaker, or a group of oathbreakers, by taking away that which is most precious to them. This may be something of monetary or sentimental value, although it is tradition for a Pied Piper to instead take the lives of their loved ones. Cost: 41,000 gp. Feat Granted: Greater Legacy (Vestments of the Pied Piper)
Bards, jesters, and other skillful spellcasters are the favoured bearers of the Vestments of the Pied Piper. However, anyone of the same moral fiber with the ability to perform music and to control swarms also qualifies.
Vestments of the Pied Piper Wielder Requirements
Perform (Wind Instruments) 3 ranks.
Ability to cast Summon Swarm.
Any nonchaotic alignment.
Lᴇɢᴀᴄʏ Iᴛᴇᴍ Aʙɪʟɪᴛɪᴇs
All the following are legacy item abilities of the Vestments of the Pied Piper.
Verminous Vibrations (Su): Beginning at 5th level, you gain the ability to replicate the effects of a Pipes of the Sewers (see page 264 of the Dungeon Master's Guide) using any masterwork wind instrument.
Piper's Prowess (Su): At 6th level, you gain a +5 bonus on Perform (Wind Instrument) checks while wearing the Vestments of the Pied Piper. This bonus improves to +10 at 12th level, and to +15 at 17th level.
Swarm Sensitivity (Su): Beginning at 8th level, you can attempt to influence the attitudes of vermin, rats, or other rodents with a successful Perform (Wind Instruments) check. This ability is otherwise similar to the wild empathy class feature (see page 35 of the Player's Handbook).
Vomit Swarm (Sp): Beginning at 14th level, you can vomit forth a swarm of vermin, rats, or other rodents from your mouth to replicate the effects of a Summon Swarm spell as cast by a 10th level Bard. You can use this ability up to five times per day.
Beguiling Proposal (Sp): Beginning at 15th level, at will on command, you can attempt to make someone an offer they can't refuse. This functions as per psionic suggestion; the save DC is 16, or 14 + your Charisma modifier, whichever is higher. Manifester level 10th.
Bargain (Sp): Beginning at 18th level, you may call upon the legacy of the Pied Pipers and the lingering magics of deals once-struck. Once per day, you can call an extraplanar creature of 12 HD or less to perform a task for you, as the Planar Ally spell. You must still pay any gold piece cost associated with the task. Caster level 15th.
Bewitch (Sp): Beginning at 19th level, you may attempt to mire the minds of those who would wish you ill or break their word. Three times per day, you can use Charm Monster as the spell. The save DC is 16, or 14 + your Charisma modifier, whichever is higher. Caster level 15th.
Swarm Stride (Sp): At 20th level, you learn how to cross great distances using the bodies of vermin, rats, or other rodents as a medium. This ability is usable up to twice per day, and otherwise functions as the Tree Stride spell using an alternate medium. Caster level 15th.
Spoiler: Level BreakdownShow
Level 5: Incarnate 1/Wizard 4
SpoilerShowXander begins his life as an Incarnate, soulmelds and all. In particular, we're interested in the Dissolving Spittle and Soulspark Familiar soulmelds, which grant us some viable combat options. Dissolving Spittle will let us use a standard action to deal a repeatable, respectable 2d6 acid damage as a ranged touch attack. Soulspark Familiar gives us an additional 1d4+1 untyped damage for free, every round, with no action on our part. We also have the option of changing out either of these soulmelds every day, such as the Cerulean Sandals to walk on water or the Enigma Helm to protect ourselves from divinations.
The real meat of the build, though, comes from Xander's arcane spellcasting and the toys that it brings. By taking the Animal Companion ACF, we replace our familiar with a significantly tougher creature which can take some hits for us. We'll be taking a Swindlespitter Dinosaur to start out with, giving us a poison (at a level where it's still viable) and a high-dexterity chassis. We'll also take the Wild Cohort feat, and again choose a Swindlespitter Dinosaur as the companion. At higher levels, we'll swap both of these out for Fleshraker Dinosaurs for an even better body. We then combine both of these companions with the Share Soulmeld feat at level 3, allowing both of our animal companions to benefit from our soulmelds while they're within five feet of us. With Dissolving Spittle and Soulspark Familiar, this gives us three ranged touch attacks for 2d6 acid damage, plus three soulspark familiars for an additional three 1d4+1 untyped damage, per round. This is a potential 6d6+3d4+3 damage per round, and will be Xander's engine for the rest of the game.
As for spells, we go for variety - as befitting a wizard. Familiar Pocket will be useful later, once we have familiars to use it with. Shield, Mage Armour, and Mirror Image all offer protections against anything which can get past our two animal companions, three soulspark familiars, and Dissolving Spittle spam. Colour Spray is our save-or-die of choice, and Benign Transposition offers some low-level teleportation. Summon Swarm will have its uses later on, but for now will do nicely if we'd rather spend our actions to attack someone with rats, bats or spiders.
Level 10: Incarnate 1/Wizard 7/Vermin Lord 2
SpoilerShowIt's clear that the Share Soulmeld feat wasn't intended for use with multiple animal companions or familiars. At level 9, we take the Obtain Familiar feat to get a Tiny Monstrous Spider; like our animal companions, it has access to our soulmeld and gives us an additional Dissolving Spittle per round (using our BAB) and an additional Soulspark Familiar. Likewise, we get an additional familiar from the Vermin Lord's vermin servant class feature, for which we select another Tiny Monstrous Spider. Our Dissolving Spittle deals 3d6 acid damage now, and we get four uses per turn. For protection, our familiars can hide in their Familiar Pockets; they take a free action to leave the pocket, a standard action to use Dissolving Spittle, a free action to command their Soulspark Familiars to attack, and then another free action to return to the safety of the pocket. They're functionally untouchable, save by a readied action.
The Domain Granted Power alternative class feature replaces our 5th level bonus feat from being a Wizard with the granted power of a domain. In this case, we choose the Incarnum domain, which gives us the Incarnum Spellshaping feat and allows us to use Incarnum spells. Of note, this gives us access to the Soul Boon spell, which can be used to boost our Essentia even after leaving the Incarnate class. We also take the Planar Touchstone feat for the Catalogues of Enlightenment, choosing the Spider domain as befitting Xander's patron, Lolth. This gives us the ability to rebuke and command spiders, which is sweet, and also gives us limited use of the domain's spells - such as Giant Vermin, one of the prerequisites for the Vermin Lord prestige class. While the Catalogues of Enlightenment are rather old hat, the Arcane Disciple feat would've required our alignment to be Chaotic Evil, disqualifying us from our Incarnate levels.
We've also got some other new spells to work with. Enhance Familiar will help our familiars hit their targets, Mass Mage Armour for protection, and Mass Snake's Swiftness lets us spend our standard action to immediately give all of our allies (possibly including ourselves, if we count as our own ally) a "melee or ranged attack" - such as Dissolving Spittle (a ranged touch attack, albeit not a regular one). This includes all of our animal companions, all of our familiars, and even our soulspark familiars for a potential 12d6+5d4+5 damage as a standard action. This is our nova ability, and we will use it well. Other spells include Polymorph for its absurd utility, Scrying to know anything and everything that's going on, Evard's Black Tentacles for some tried-and-true battlefield control, and Summon Pest Swarm to nail down the theme.
By this level, we've also found our Legacy Item; the Vestments of the Pied Piper. This Vest of Resistance gives us several abilities relating to vermin, rodents, and the tale of the Pied Piper. For now, it is capable of replicating a Pipes of the Sewers, grants a +5 bonus to Perform (Wind Instruments) check, and gives us a form of Wild Empathy which uses the Perform (Wind Instruments) skill and which can only be used on vermin and rodents. These abilities are mostly flavour, but may have some utility when paired with Summon Swarm.
Level 15 (Sweet Spot): Incarnate 1/Wizard 7/Vermin Lord 2/Legacy Champion 5
SpoilerShowWe've gone off into the deep end and entered into the Secret Ingredient. Legacy Champion levels are used to progress the Vermin Lord prestige class while also allowing us to customise the Vestments of the Pied Piper to our liking. Bond of Lore allows us to actually know the rituals of the Vestments and their requirements, while the Reduced Legacy Cost ability obviously allows us to ignore the monetary costs for said rituals. For our Bonus Legacy Feat, we'll choose Quicken Legacy (Vomit Swarm); this will allow us to summon a swarm as a swift action while maintaining the rest of our action economy at no personal cost. Combined with the Extraordinary Concentration feat, Xander is capable of maintaining a swarm - or even two swarms, assuming a move action and a swift action - without losing his standard action (for Dissolving Spittle, Mass Snake's Swiftness, or some other spell).
For Replace Legacy Ability (Least) and (Lesser), we're going to do something which is a little dirty. There isn't any requirement in the Weapons of Legacy book that improvements such as the +6 to an ability score or +15 to a skill need to be preceded by gradual improvements of +2/+4 (for the ability score) or +5/+10 (for the skill), and some of the legacy items already do this. In other words, removing a weaker bonus won't interfere with a higher bonus, because they don't interact in any way beyond not stacking due to their shared type (in this case, Competence). As-written, the Vestments of the Pied Piper follow a +5/+10/+15 progression for the Perform (Wind Instruments) skill; we're going to replace the +5 bonus at level 12 with Lesser Metamagic (Extend Spell), and we're going to replace the +10 bonus at level 15 with a +10 bonus to Concentration checks. Extend Spell will ensure that our various buffs last the day, while the Concentration bonus will ensure that our Extraordinary Concentration feat actually triggers. For Extra Legacy Ability Use, we'll choose Lesser Metamagic (Extend Spell) so that we have four uses per day.
As for the Vestments of the Pied Piper themselves, we're going to briefly lose our bonus to Perform (Wind Instruments) check for a benefit later on. We also have the Beguiling Proposal ability, giving us at-will Psionic Suggestion. Unlike regular Suggestion, the psionic version includes an augmentation for multiple targets, as per Mass Suggestion. The Will save DC is 16, and the manifester level is 10; this hits up to four targets with what is, functionally, a save-or-die. Suffice to say, this has its uses, even as a standard action. It also fits the Pied Piper's bill precisely.
In other news we have another vermin servant, giving us a third familiar, and our Dissolving Spittle has jumped to 5d6 thanks to the Expanded Soulmeld Capacity feat. We're dealing 30d6+6d4+6 with Dissolving Spittle uses and our Soulspark Familiars, assuming our touch attacks hit; a casting of Mass Snake's swiftness goes for 25d6+6d4+6 as a single standard action. While it's quite possible that enemies will have acid resistance at this level, Xander possesses many other spells and abilities with which to spend his actions - and it's a fair amount of damage, even if they do have resistance.
Xander's spells are advancing, albeit slowly. His Least Revitalise Legacy spell comes into effect here, giving us an extra use of Lesser Metamagic (Extend Spell) for a total of five uses per day. Teleport gets you anywhere, anytime, and Permanency can be used on Familiar Pocket (and possibly other familiar-enhancing spells) so that we don't have to keep on spending spell slots on our eldest trick. Telekinesis, when paired with your typical assortment of a dozen colossal greatswords, gives us a viable and powerful option for when the Dissolving Spittle plan is a no-go. Nightstalker's Transformation, on the other hand, offers some sneak attack damage and other potent boosts to your ranged touch attack gameplan.
Level 20: Incarnate 1/Wizard 7/Vermin Lord 2/Legacy Champion 10
SpoilerShowThe peak. Legacy Champion rounds out with an extra Lesser Ability Use (for Vomit Swarm) for six uses per day, and Quicken Legacy (for Beguiling Proposal) for a swift-action save-or-die three times a day. Extra Greater Use is spent on Bargain, giving us the ability to call down a powerful outsider twice per day. Finally, we replace the Bewitch ability for the Lesser Quicken Spell ability, which we will primarily use for Mass Snake's Swiftness and Soul Boon. The remaining greater abilities from the Vestments of the Pied Piper include the aforementioned Bargain, which functions as per a Planar Ally spell, and Swarm Stride, which serves as a Tree Stride spell. A Pied Piper does not forget the favours which those of their bloodline are owed, and their bond with vermin and rodents is such that they may travel amongst them with but a thought.
Xander's Dissolving Spittle trick plateaus, with 5 essentia invested (for a total of 6d6 damage) and a third vermin servant (another Tiny Monstrous Spider) from the Vermin Lord prestige class. This gives us seven uses of Dissolving Spittle per round - one from Xander, two from his animal companions, and four from his familiars - for a total of 42d6 potential acid damage. Combined with the Open Greater Chakra (Throat) feat, the Dissolving Spittle hits again on the following round for an extra 42d6. If we're still using the Soulspark Familiars, there's also 7d4+7 potential untyped damage for our target to deal with. On a good turn, we then cast a quickened Mass Snake's Swiftness for an additional 36d6+7d4+7 potential damage, with 36d6 lingering acid damage on the next round. The total possible damage that Xander can deal is 78d6+14d4+14 on that round, followed by an additional 78d6 one round later. Acid resistance shuts him down, of course - but Xander still has spells to work with.
Freezing Fog locks down enemies and, in conjunction with True Seeing, enables some decent sniping. Eyebite gives you a passive save-or-suck for enemies to deal with while you spam acid or throw spells at them. Contingency will save you from death more than once. Simulacrum and Limited wish give you a plethora of options and versatility - Simulacrum, for example, may allow for the creation of a duplicate of yourself with soulmelds, animal companions, and familiars all of its own. If not, it will still let you be in multiple places at once, which has its uses.
At level 20, however, it could be argued that all of this is moot. The Vermin Lord's capstone ability, Hivemind, allows you to create sentient entities out of swarms - for example, those created by a Summon Swarm spell, which have an infinite duration so long as you can maintain concentration. The more creatures there are in the swarm, the more intelligence, charisma, feats, skill points, and spellcasting (as a sorcerer) the swarm gets. Since you and your vermin servants are considered to be a part of the hivemind, you (and your familiars) also get access to that sorcerous spellcasting - and, hence, have nigh-infinite arcane spells per day from the entire spell list, presuming you have the castings of Summon Swarm to spare. It's cheesy and it's broken, yes, but at level 20 you're already playing Calvinball. All this means is that, at higher levels, you can always keep up.
If you want, though, you can always summon a few swarms of rats for the sole purpose of casting Mass Snake's Swiftness four times in a round. That's a definite improvement to your action economy-breaking spellcasting.
Spoiler: Notes and RulingsShowAs the build above is treated as a showcase, it obviously displays all of its information in the most positive of lights - or, in other words, in the best-case scenario. As such, there are some rulings and clarifications which should be made.
Wild Cohort and Share Soulmeld
While the Wild Cohort feat largely follows the rules and stipulations of a Druid or Ranger's Animal Companion, there doesn't seem to be any explicit wording that the cohort is actually treated as an Animal Companion. If this is ruled to the case by your DM, then Share Soulmeld won't work as it is restricted to Animal Companions, Mounts, and Familiars only. Although it may be possible to rule that using Handle Animal to treat the cohort as a mount would allow it to qualify, but if it is decided that there is no interaction between Wild Cohort and Share Soulmeld then you should consider changing the Wild Cohort companion into something big and tough like a bear (or some other grappler).
The Domain Granted Power ACF states that the chosen domain must be from a deity's domain list. However, the Incarnum domain is available to all clerics regardless of their deity (or lack of deity, if they worship a pantheon or don't worship a deity at all). Therefore, it's a legal choice, even though Lolth doesn't offer the Incarnum domain in her portfolio. I would've loved to have used Arcane Disciple instead of Planar Touchstone, since the latter is pretty well-known, but the alignment restrictions on Incarnate wouldn't have allowed it.
Verminfriend was originally published in the Book of Vile Darkness, and is a prerequisite for the Vermin Lord prestige class. There, it had a prerequisiteof 15 Charisma. It was later reprinted in Drow of the Underdark, with the prerequisite inexplicably changed to Race: Drow. I chose to use the version from the Vook of Vile Darkness, as the Vermin Lord prestige class refers to the version from that book rather than the racially-restricted revision of the feat.
Founding a Legacy
First things first: I know I chose the progression for a bard-like class (4-8), rather than a full caster like the Wizard (4-6 or 4-7). I did this for three reasons:
- Firstly, because Xander never obtains 8th or 9th level spells, choosing either 4-6 or 4-7 would've prevented him from ever obtaining all the abilities of his legacy item. This caveat is explained on page 24 of Weapons of Legacy. Given that I wanted to emphasise the abilities of the Legacy Champion prestige class - and, admittedly, wanted some of those really nice Greater abilities - I used table 4-8 instead.
- Secondly, because the legacy was technically founded by the Pied Piper, a bardic progression makes more sense than a full caster progression. He wouldn't qualify for the higher-tier abilities of his own item, as in Xander's case, if he used either the 4-6 or 4-7 table.
- Thirdly, because the penalties of 4-8 are absolutely huge. The loss of three caster levels and the lost spell slots are significant for any full spellcaster, and the skill penalties are nothing to balk at either.
Custom Legacy Abilities
As noted above, I have used a few custom legacy abilities in the development of the Vestements of the Pied Piper. I used my best judgement for this, and referred to other items of legacy (as noted in the book, pages 183-184).
Being the Pied Piper
If you're curious; yes, we can ensorcel rodents, vermin, and children alike. The epic uses of a Perform (Wind Instruments) check can send anything vulnerable into a fervor, and we have at-will mass Suggestion as a backup plan if our base modifier of +48 can't hit the mark for some reason. For verminous creatures, we have the Swarm Sensitivity and Verminous Vibrations abilities from the Vestments, which also use Perform (Wind Instruments).
Spoiler: ResourcesShowWeapons of Legacy: Least Revitalise Legacy, Quicken Legacy, Legacy Champion, Weapons of Legacy.
Book of Vile Darkness: Vermin Lord, Verminfriend.
Magic of Incarnum: Incarnate, Incarnum Spellshaping, Incarnum Domain, Azurin, Share Soulmeld.
Spell Compendium: Benign Transposition, Familiar Pocket, Augment Familiar, Enhance Familiar, Mass Snake's Swiftness, Nightstalker's Transformation.
Cityscape: Summon Pest Swarm.
Planar Handbook: Planar Touchstone.
Monster Manual III: Swindlespitter Dinosaur, Fleshraker Dinosaur.
Complete Champion: Domain Granted Power ACF.
Unearthed Arcana: Animal Companion ACF.