Does this unit have a soul?

Quote Originally Posted by Talos

Talos, Porteur de Lumière
Warforged, Crusader 8/Soldier of Light 2/Legacy Champion 10

Spoiler: Awakening

I was a soldier.

No, that isn't quite true. I was never a soldier, not really. Soldiers are people, beneath the armor. I was no soldier. I was a weapon. I was a weapon no different than this blade, forged for a war that they said would never end. I may walk and speak, but I was a blade, wielded by a hand not my own.

And what of you, my dangerous friend? You are a weapon too, no doubt - and I believe you have seen far more wars than me. Your edge may glint as though new, but my old eyes are not fooled: it has tasted blood. Long 'ere I was forged, you were cutting through flesh.

And what of such deeds? The pages of history have turned. Spilt blood has long since dried. Have those lives you claimed vanished? Oh, by the Light of Elishar, what do I do? When I pledged myself to Her, I was a fool. I thought that Her light could make me into something more than a weapon. I thought that Her light could make me - well, perhaps not human, but alive. And yet it brought me here, to Her altar, holding an instrument of death in my hands.

Seed and source of light. That is how it goes, yes? Seed and source of life and light, goal of all our living; you defend us of the night, healing and forgiving. As our life flow from you only, let it be pure and holy. That is the hymn I was taught, at an altar much like this one.

But is it enough? Can it ever be enough? I do not bleed. How can I hope to scrub away the blood of others?

As our life flows from you only. But death flows from you, my terrible friend. You are called Faithful, I am told. The Faithful Avenger. Yet your faith knows neither Good nor Evil. You obey.

Perhaps that is all that matters. If you fell from my hands, you would become the Faithful weapon of another.

Very well, then; if I must choose, I choose the holy. I choose Elishar's light. And you, my Faithful friend... you will fight by my side. We old weapons, forged for another age, will fight together.

And mayhaps together, we can do some good in this wicked world...

Spoiler: Talos and the Faithful Avenger

Talos, NG Warforged, Crusader 8/Soldier of Light 2/Legacy Champion 10
WEAPON OF LEGACY: The Faithful Avenger (ToB)

Starting stats (before racial modifiers): Str 14/Dex 10/Con 16/Int 10/Wis 14/Cha 14
Starting stats (after racial modifiers): Str 14/Dex 10/Con 18/Int 10/Wis 12/Cha 12

Boost CON at every level.

Level Class Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Skills Feats Class Features
1st Crusader 1 +1 +2 +0 +0 Concentration 4 ranks, craft (blacksmithing) 4 ranks, knowledge (history) 4 ranks, knowledge (religion) 4 ranks Extra Granted Maneuver Furious counterstrike, steely resolve 5
2nd Crusader 2 +2 +3 +0 +0 Concentration 5 ranks, craft (blacksmithing) 5 ranks, knowledge (history) 5 ranks, knowledge (religion) 5 ranks Indomitable Soul
3rd Crusader 3 +3 +3 +1 +1 Concentration 6 ranks, craft (blacksmithing) 6 ranks, knowledge (history) 6 ranks, knowledge (religion) 6 ranks Martial Study (Moment of Perfect Mind) Zealous surge
4th Crusader 4 +4 +4 +1 +1 Concentration 7 ranks, craft (blacksmithing) 7 ranks, knowledge (history) 7 ranks, knowledge (religion) 7 ranks Steely resolve 10
5th Crusader 5 +5 +4 +1 +1 Concentration 8 ranks, craft (blacksmithing) 8 ranks, knowledge (history) 8 ranks, knowledge (religion) 8 ranks
6th Soldier of Light 1 +6/+1 +6 +1 +1 Concentration 9 ranks, craft (blacksmithing) 9 ranks Power Attack Detect undead, turn undead
7th Soldier of Light 2 +7/+2 +7 +1 +1 Concentration 10 ranks, craft (blacksmithing) 10 ranks Divine grace, smite undead
8th Crusader 6 +8/+3 +8 +2 +2 Concentration 11 ranks, craft (blacksmithing) 11 ranks, knowledge (history) 9 ranks, knowledge (religion) 9 ranks Smite 1/day
9th Crusader 7 +9/+4 +8 +2 +2 Concentration 12 ranks, craft (blacksmithing) 12 ranks, knowledge (history) 10 ranks, knowledge (religion) 10 ranks Healing Devotion
10th Crusader 8 +10/+5 +9 +2 +2 Concentration 13 ranks, craft (blacksmithing) 13 ranks, knowledge (history) 11 ranks, knowledge (religion) 11 ranks Steely resolve 15
11th Legacy Champion 1 +10/+5 +9 +2 +4 Concentration 14 ranks, craft (blacksmithing) 14 ranks, knowledge (history) 12 ranks, knowledge (religion) 12 ranks Reduced ritual cost (lesser), bond of lore
12th Legacy Champion 2 +11/+6/+1 +9 +2 +5 Concentration 15 ranks, craft (blacksmithing) 15 ranks, knowledge (history) 13 ranks, knowledge (religion) 13 ranks Martial Study (Action Before Thought) Replace legacy ability (least)
13th Legacy Champion 3 +12/+7/+2 +10 +3 +5 Concentration 16 ranks, craft (blacksmithing) 16 ranks, knowledge (history) 14 ranks, knowledge (religion) 14 ranks Die Hard Extra legacy ability use (least), Die hard
14th Legacy Champion 4 +13/+8/+3 +10 +3 +6 Concentration 17 ranks, craft (blacksmithing) 17 ranks, knowledge (history) 15 ranks, knowledge (religion) 15 ranks Curative Legacy Bonus legacy feat
15th Legacy Champion 5 +13/+8/+3 +10 +3 +6 Concentration 18 ranks, craft (blacksmithing) 18 ranks, knowledge (history) 16 ranks, knowledge (religion) 16 ranks Martial Study (Moment of Alacrity) Replace legacy ability (lesser), steely resolve 20
16th Legacy Champion 6 +14/+9/+4 +11 +4 +7 Concentration 19 ranks, craft (blacksmithing) 19 ranks, knowledge (history) 17 ranks, knowledge (religion) 17 ranks Extra legacy ability use (lesser), mettle
17th Legacy Champion 7 +15/+10/+5 +11 +4 +7 Concentration 20 ranks, craft (blacksmithing) 20 ranks, knowledge (history) 18 ranks, knowledge (religion) 18 ranks Reduced ritual cost (greater)
18th Legacy Champion 8 +16/+11/+6/+1 +11 +4 +8 Concentration 21 ranks, craft (blacksmithing) 21 ranks, knowledge (history) 19 ranks, knowledge (religion) 19 ranks Animal Devotion, Empower Legacy (lesser restoration) Bonus legacy feat
19th Legacy Champion 9 +16/+11/+6/+1 +12 +5 +8 Concentration 22 ranks, craft (blacksmithing) 22 ranks, knowledge (history) 20 ranks, knowledge (religion) 20 ranks Extra legacy ability use (greater)
20th Legacy Champion 10 +17/+12/+7/+2 +12 +5 +9 Concentration 23 ranks, craft (blacksmithing) 23 ranks, knowledge (history) 21 ranks, knowledge (religion) 21 ranks Replace legacy ability (greater), steely resolve 25


You may notice that the build table does not include Least, Lesser and Greater Legacy as feats. Per the Chair's ruling, these feats are granted automatically when the rituals are completed, and do not need to be taken as feats normally. The reason I did not include them on the build table is that the precise timing as far as when the rituals are completed is going to differ from campaign to campaign, as the rituals involved with the Faithful Avenger require not only finding the Faithful Avenger but also finding an appropriate temple (in the case of the Least and Greater rituals) and an appropriate foe (in the case of the Lesser ritual).

Please assume that Talos completes the Least and Lesser rituals at his earliest opportunity (levels 5 and 11 if possible). The Greater ritual, however, will require some preparation; see the build notes for more details on this.
Spoiler: Manuevers and Stances
1- Crusader's Strike, Charging Minotaur, Douse the Flames, Leading the Attack, Stone Bones, Martial Spirit (s)
2- Leading the Charge (s)
3- Mountain Hammer, Moment of Perfect Mind*
4- Battle Leader's Charge -> Stone Bones
5- White Raven Tactics
8- Divine Surge -> Leading the Attack
9- Bonesplitting Strike
10- Press the Advantage (s), Elder Mountain Hammer -> Charging Minotaur
12- Radiant Charge, Action Before Thought*
13- Order Forged From Chaos -> Douse the Flames
14- Rallying Strike
15- Clarion Call -> Battle Leader's Charge, Moment of Alacrity*
16- Ancient Mountain Hammer
18- Immortal Fortitude (s), Greater Divine Surge -> Crusader's Strike
19- War Master's Charge
20- Strike of Righteous Vitality -> Mountain Hammer**

*Learned via Martial Study
**After dropping Mountain Hammer, you will have three Stone Bones maneuvers known: Elder Mountain Hammer, Bonesplitting Strike and Ancient Mountain Hammer. Ancient Mountain Hammer requires 3 Stone Bones maneuvers known to maintain qualification. There is a debate about whether or not Ancient Mountain Hammer is itself counted in that calculation. If your DM believes that this trade will mean you lose Ancient Mountain Hammer, then instead trade away Divine Surge.

Spoiler: Weapon of Legacy substitutions

LEAST: Detect evil traded for Skill Enhancement +5 (Concentration)
LESSER: Faithful Strike traded for Cunning (never flat-footed while wielding Faithful Avenger)
GREATER: Lesser Restoration traded for Spell Turning

Spoiler: Build Breakdown

LEVELS 1-5: Talos is, first and foremost, a soldier, and begins as most Crusaders do. Between warforged immunities, excellent Constitution and maneuvers and stances such as Crusader's Strike, Stone Bones and Martial Spirit, Talos is incredibly hard to kill. He is no slouch in the damage department, however. He opens up most combat in the Leading the Charge stance and begins with a high damage charge, followed up by powerful strikes such as Mountain Hammer. It's worth noting that things like Battle Leader's Charge and the Leading the Charge stance work well with his preferred weapon, the falchion, as they provide large sources of flat damage that is multiplied on a critical hit. His only real weak point is his Will save - but luckily thanks to Martial Study, he has access to the maneuver Moment of Perfect Mind, which allows him to substitute his Concentration check in its place.

As a soldier, Talos does not merely fight alone - he aids his allies as well. Martial Spirit and Crusader's Strike make him a capable in-combat healer, and many of his stances and strikes aid his allies as well. He can position opponents with Charging Minotaur bull rushes, manipulate turn order with White Raven Tactics, provide bonuses to attack and damage, and just in general be a good ally on the battlefield in addition to being a fearsome opponent all on his own.

LEVELS 6-10: Beginning at level 6, Talos briefly departs from Crusader to pick up some levels in Soldier of Light. This choice isn't solely made for flavor - Soldier of Light lays the groundwork for some pretty important abilities down the road. In the meantime, it helps him assist his team by providing him with spells such as cure light wounds and protection from evil, and also gives him several Paladin-like abilities, such as the ability to detect and turn undead, and Divine Grace. Turn undead is nice for powering Healing Devotion, which is especially useful for Talos, as standard curative magic has diminished effects on a warforged.

Offensively, Talos continues to pick up a lot of high damage maneuvers. Divine Surge does insane damage for the level with no drawbacks, Bonesplitting Strike can help break down an enemy's constitution, and Elder Mountain Hammer not only deals excellent damage but also bypasses any forms of damage reduction or hardness. Talos also has Power Attack now to further augment his damage. He's also begun to unlock the abilities of his legacy weapon, the Faithful Avenger. This makes it a decently powerful cold iron falchion that hits even harder against evil enemies and also boosts his Constitution (saving him a magic item slot). That's pretty neat, but the really cool abilities are yet to come...

LEVELS 11-15: From here on out, Talos is all about the legacy weapon. The remainder of his levels are in the Legacy Champion prestige class, using it to further advance Crusader. He gets a couple of substitutions at these levels: the Faithful Avenger's detect evil (which is easily duplicated with Talos' SoL spells) is instead replaced for a sizable bonus to his Concentration checks (which now can be used in place of both Will and Reflex saves, as he's picked up Action Before Thought), and the Faithful Strike ability, which is sadly less useful for Talos than most due to his NG alignment, gets swapped for the Cunning ability that prevents him from becoming flat-footed. This is a nice buff in general, but will become especially important in a couple of levels when he picks up Greater Divine Surge.

Talos picks up a lot of neat maneuvers here that provide him with a variety of abilities not only for himself but for his allies as well, including some particularly notable ones such as Order Forged From Chaos, which allows him to shift the entire battlefield, and Clarion Call, which lets him to grant all of his allies extra attacks. He can also further manipulate the initiative order now that he has picked up Moment of Alacrity, which serves as a temporary +20 to his initiative. This is pretty much always useful, but will become especially potent in a couple of levels. Also, some of his Soldier of Light abilities end up paying off further here. In particular, thanks to the spells, he qualifies for Curative Legacy, which provides him with free healing when he activates his Faithful Avenger's abilities.

LEVELS 16-20: In these last levels, Talos becomes a master commander, with combat abilities that can turn the tide of any battle. Thanks to his sojourn into Soldier of Light and Legacy Champion, Talos actually qualifies for 8th-level stances when he picks up a stance at level 18 - notable, as a standard 20 level Crusader actually cannot learn any 8th-level stances without the Martial Stance feat. This means he picks up the exceedingly useful Immortal Fortitude, which allows him to make fortitude saves to ignore death from damage. The Faithful Avenger makes this even better, providing him with temporary hit points every round round he remains in this stance. It also allows him to entirely ignore a source of damage once a day. Between these and Moment of Perfect Mind/Action Before Thought, Talos is nearly unkillable in combat. Talos also nabs a spell turning ability through his Faithful Avenger to help combat enemy spellcasters, and Animal Devotion to ensure that he is never a sitting duck against aerial opponents. As far as maneuvers, he picks up three of the best maneuvers in the entire game: War Master's Charge, which can end entire encounters from turn one, Strike of Righteous Vitality, which allows him to simultaneously attack and fully heal himself or an ally as though using a heal spell, and Greater Divine Surge.

This last one is of particular note. Greater Divine Surge provides a decent damage boost on its own, and also allows Talos to trade Constitution damage for +1 attack and +2d8 damage per point sacrificed. It also leaves him flat-footed for the round following its use. This can provide some very scary amounts of damage, especially when combined with Power Attack, but has obvious drawbacks. However, thanks to the Faithful Avenger and his Legacy Champion abilities, Talos can avoid these drawbacks entirely. After making an attack draining himself down to 1 Constitution, he can activate his Faithful Avenger's restoration ability as a swift action, completely restoring all his lost Con - and healing 25 hit points to boot thanks to Curative Legacy. Because he swapped away the situationally useful Faithful Strike for the Cunning ability, he is NOT flat-footed for this time, and he gets an extra use of this ability through his Legacy Champion levels.

In the case of a REALLY tough opponent, Talos can actually go even further. He simply delays his action so that he goes AFTER any current enemies, then activates Moment of Alacrity and makes a Greater Divine Surge strike. Moment of Alacrity will shift his initiative order back up near the top, allowing him to act again before his foes do. Now he can heal up (again, his Faithful Avenger's restoration ability is a swift action, or he can use Strike of Righteous Vitality, which will also restore all ability damage) and attack yet again.

How much damage are we talking about? Assuming Talos has access to a +5 tome at some point, his Constitution will be 34 (18 +5 levels +5 tome +6 Faithful Avenger). If he dumps 33 points of Constitution into Greater Divine Surge, his attack will have a +33 bonus to its attack roll and do a whopping +72d8 damage, which is an average of 324 points of damage just from Greater Divine Surge alone. That's ON TOP of his base weapon amage, any bonuses from his Strength score, his weapon enhancement (he's wielding a +3 holy weapon at this point), Power Attack, etc. In practice this strike will easily do 400 points of damage or more, enough to fell a titan in a single blow... without relying on charging, or buffing, or multiple hits, or any of the other staples of high damage attacks. And he can realistically do this in every single encounter (Greater Divine Surge will always be granted by turn 3 at the latest in any given encounter, as he readies six maneuvers and has four granted to him at the start of any encounter) - sometimes even multiple times an encounter in the case of particularly tough battles!

Spoiler: Nurturing

He is dead. Oh Elishar, no more will fall to this beast's claws. May I yet call myself your soldier in truth? Or am I still merely a weapon?

It matters not, I suppose. The beast is dead, and there is some good in the world. Where your light flourishes, darkness flees. The beast is dead. I will think on that.

Oh Elishar, the beast is dead.

Spoiler: Talos, Champion of Legacy

While Talos primarily plays as a standard Crusader, every single aspect of his build has been set up to take advantage of the Faithful Avenger, the Devoted Spirit legacy weapon. From his focus on big flat damage sources such as Battle Leader's Charge, which take advantage of the Faithful Avenger's high critical rate, to picking up abilities such as spellcasting for access to Curative Legacy, to building toward the difficult-to-obtain stance Immortal Fortitude, Talos' Faithful Avenger is as much a part of him as his own right hand, and Legacy Champion is an essential part of this.

In particular, Legacy Champion allows Talos to continue progressing Crusader while also delaying his advancement enough to pick up an 8th-level stance and further augmenting his Faithful Avenger's abilities. It also entirely powers his high damage "trick" involving Greater Divine Surge (see the Build Breakdown for more details): Replace Legacy Ability gives him Cunning to avoid the flat-footed penalty from Greater Divine Surge, Bonus Legacy Ability gives him extra uses of his swift action restoration to fully restore his Constitution damage, and the bonus feat for Curative Legacy adds healing on top of his restoration effect.

Beyond that, Talos also uses Legacy Champion to shore up areas of weakness: in particular he uses it to nab a Skill Enhancement to power his Diamond Mind Concentration-based counters and pick up spell turning to help combat enemy spellcasters. The class as a whole also offers a significant improvement in Talos' Will save.

Spoiler: Talos in your game

Talos is meant to be an effective character from level 1 through level 20. He is primarily focused on melee, but can also support the team heavily, as he has access to spells, maneuvers and abilities that can heal, provide additional actions, detect foes, and more.

OFFENSE: Offensively, Talos should always be able to contribute more than his fair share. In addition to having a solid +17 BAB and common melee damage boosts like Power Attack, Talos has access to 9th-level maneuvers from Crusader. He focuses primarily on single high damage strikes, which he gets throughout his career, and by the end can easily do more than 400 points of damage to enemies with a single swing of his Faithful Avenger, without relying on a charge, thanks to Greater Divine Surge plus his Faithful Avenger and Legacy Champion abilities. (See build breakdown for details.) He can bypass common defenses such as flight, damage reduction and more.

DEFENSE: As a Warforged that prioritizes Constitution and with a focus on healing maneuvers and abilities, Talos can take a huge amount of punishment. His race brings with it many immunities, and he further supports these with Action Before Thought and Moment of Perfect Mind. He gets healing maneuvers and abilities from level one on, and they range from healing via attacks such as through Crusader's Strike and the Martial Spirit stance to gaining fast healing and healing his allies via spells to powerful abilities such as restoration and Strike of Righteous Vitality, which acts as a heal spell. He also has maneuvers and abilities that allow him to avoid damage altogether through damage reduction or temporary hit points, such as the Stone Bones maneuver or the Immortal Fortitude stance in combination with his Faithful Avenger's boundless determination ability. He can even avoid death or completely ignore some sources of damage!

UTILITY: The vast majority of Talos' healing abilities can be used on his allies as well as himself, making Talos quite an effective healer. Other in-combat utility includes the ability to shuffle around initiative order and action sequence with maneuvers such as Moment of Alacrity and White Raven Tactics, allow his allies to make additional attacks or move for free, and provide bonuses to hit certain enemies. Outside of combat, he remains a talented healer, and can use maneuvers such as the Mountain Hammer line to bypass obstacles and traps. He also has various detection spells and abilities through his Faithful Avenger and his Soldier of Light spells, and he can even fly for short periods each day.

Spoiler: Sources

The Crusader, Faithful Avenger and all maneuvers are found in Tome of Battle, as well as Martial Study and Extra Granted Maneuver.

Legacy Champion, Curative Legacy and the rules for Legacy weapons are found in Weapons of Legacy.

Elishar and the Soldier of Light are found in Deities & Demigods. Note that Elishar is a setting-neutral deity of light and positive energy, so Talos should be able to be played in most campaigns.

Devotion feats are found in Complete Champion.

The warforged player race may be found in either the Eberron Campaign Setting or the Monster Manual III.

All other feats and abilities are found on the SRD or in the Player's Handbook.

Spoiler: Commanding

Come out, fiend! Come out and taste my blade! Elishar's light shines on your profane alter. I will cleave it in half, lest you show your horny hide.

I was once a weapon, but now my eyes are filled with light. Together with Faithful, I will strike you down, and a little more light will fill our world. Come out! I can feel your fetid breath. Come out!

Seed and source of life and light, goal of all our living. Evil, foul creature, minion of darkness, it is time to face the light. You defend us of the night, healing and forgiving. By Elishar I will defend this world from your wickedness and gloom. As our life flow from you only, let it be pure and holy. Yes, let it be pure and holy.

I am a soldier, not a weapon. I can choose where my blade falls, and I can choose which battles to fight. I choose to fight you, fiend. I choose to strike you down. Let it be pure and holy.

Come out, fiend. Come out and face the light!

Spoiler: Some notes on preparation for the Commanding ritual
While the other two rituals, Awakening and Nurturing, can be performed without any preparation, the Commanding ritual requires Talos to slay a horned devil in single combat. This will require some preparation, as the horned devil may only be struck down by silver weapons, and the Faithful Avenger is cold iron. Luckily alchemical capsules exist that can temporarily bestow the silver property on your blade; Talos, not being ignorant of the rituals required, will certainly stock up on this. When preparing for the battle, Talos will be sure to prepare Moment of Perfect Mind as one of his maneuvers to ensure he does not fall victim to the devil's fear aura. Beyond that, the horned devil should not prove too difficult an opponent despite its high CR; once you can bypass its regeneration, 172 HP of damage is not difficult at all for Talos to produce.