Spoiler: Start of the Ride
"At last, we're done". Eulad dusted herself and rearranged her cloak as the massive form of the dying roc was falling with a thunderous noise. "Enervation is a lovely spell indeed. Sorry for mocking you earlier, Jozan. Soveliss, it's all yours".
"That will take me some time. Look at the size of these feathers alone..." The ranger crouched near to the beast's beak and started to saw it off the skeleton.
"Who wants some ?" asked Jozan, waving around his wand of Vigor. A passably exhausted Kursk presented himself in front of the magical item.
"Why do these stupid birds always lair in some impossibly high mountain peak ? By Gruumsh's spear, would it be too much to ask for a roc's nest at less than three Teleports away from anywhere on this plane ?"
This earned a sneer from the Wilder.
"If there were, the baron's diviner wouldn't need high-level adventurers to fetch some of those trophies he's so fond of", reparted Eulad.
"Anyway, now that we're past this annoying whim of his, we will at last get our Legend Lore. Jozan, why couldn't you choose Knowledge as one of your cleric domains ?"
"My god is Pelor, not some unambitious fool like Vecna remember ? Death and Evil domains fare well enough for me. Now stop making me blaspheming."
Twenty minutes later, a 3-foot-long beak and an accordingly big pair of talons were resting into a Bag of Holding. Twenty-two minutes later, the party was knocking at the door of Baron Hengess' castle.
Later that night, as the full moon was rising above the now silent nest, the Roc rose.
"Well, what have we got here ? Ooh, impressive ! You did succeed in bringing me those roc parts ! And from an Air Elemental-related one at that ! Not that I didn't know it already, of course". The diviner, a crooked little wizard past sixty, smiled wrily while starting to take away the hunt's bounty. He did not move it very far; in a blurring movement, Kursk got hold of his wrist with an iron grip, while still pretending to marvel at the beholder's eyestalk pinned to the wall above him.
"I believe we had agreed you answered our question before we let you fool around with those", he said softly, still looking away. The wizard grumbled and started to gather incense sticks with his free hand.
"Fine, fine, you can keep your harvest, you miserable bounty hunters...whatever its is that you want to now, remember that this kind of Divination can take up to three weeks to carry out. So, about whom am I going to spill the beans ?"
Eulad made a step forward. She took a theatrical pose before whispering in a hushed voice.
"We want to know everything there is to know about the creature named Leviathan. We will wait three weeks, even three years, if needs be." The diviner turned deadly white at once.
The roc could remember. It clearly saw it in its memory, the arrow that put its eye out even before it had understood it was under attack; the leaping half-orc that managed to catch up with it in its takeoff and hit it so hard that it was propelled down to the ground. The burns each time the eyes of the woman would glow; the empty, glacial void inside when the human gestured. They would pay for this. It had all of unlife to find them and to exact revenge.
"Careful here, this is very slippery." Searching for the safest route to climb down, Soveliss was leading the roped party towards the bottom of the chasm.
In other circumstances, Jozan would have acidly asked once again why they could not simply fly or teleport, rather than cavorting on the cliff. Eulad would have equally acidly answered that magic detection powers were very likely to ward the area they were trying to approach. But none of them said anything. After two months of unbearable waiting and four iterations of Legend Lore, no one in the party felt lighthearted enough to crack a wittic sentence. They were very close to reaching the temple of the Surging Spine, and very close to be able to see the Leviathan itself for the first time. They expected the Spine to be guarded by a cult of very powerful Leviathanite bodaks; but this was nowhere near as petrifying as the opportunity to actually gaze at the Leviathan itself. Their carefulness was lead by fear as much as by logic.
The roc had found their trail. Days and days had it flown over the region, looking for its tormenters. It usually flew high in the sky to prevent from being identified as an undead and brought down. Its almost-indistinguishable and yet vaguely foreboding shape had been spotted more than once by farmers and city guards alike. It did not know it, but over the course of those two months it had earned the title of "the Omen". Well, a bad omen was on its way to follow the track of four cruel slayers who had Teleported some ten miles away from the chasm and had then reached it by walk. A dark joy flowered in the roc at the thought of how it was planning to torture them.
The elf crawled back to behind the boulder, shivering.
"I counted five bodaks...Nine hells, these creatures are horrible - I think they self-mutilated. They are standing all around the Spine, and they paint some runes on its surface. There is a hollow at the base of the Spine, about seven feet tall, probably some sort of entrance to the temple inside. The chasm narrows at its level, I guess it's no more than twenty feet wide. Cracks on the ground web out from the Spine in every direction: this corroborates what the diviner told us. Last year's earthquake seems to have been triggered by a massive movement of the Spine. I did not see any sign of protective ward, however, magical or not. The bodaks - there must be some magic in their appearance, it scared the hells out of me. "
"Fine then. Calm down a little, Soveliss. Let us begin to prepare." Eulad said no more, and her eyes glowed silvery. A moment later, the conversation carried on but in the minds of the adventurers. A gesture from Jozan dissipated the ranger's emotion while the Maenad prepared for a rousing mental speech.
"This is our chance to seize crucial intel about the Leviathan. Jozan, ever since you received your divine mission from Pelor, we have been chasing the Leviathanites far and wide all across this plane. The Leviathan has been stirring for the past two years. We know that ever since, each and every evil god of the Pantheon is, as we speak, rushing to control the Leviathan's awakening. And each and every remaning god is trying to prevent that from happening. Guys, let's not mess that up. Now we-"
"Shhh. Something moves around us. Something is closing on us, fast !" Startled by the elf's urge, the rest of the party started to turn around...
...It had him. The roc had him in its translucent, mystical talons. It had swooped down on the unsuspecting party at full speed, partially furling its wings to fit in the narrow fissure; only to swiftly snatch away one of them. Jozan, ensnared in the mighty claws, let out a raucous "Pelor !" that immediately alerted the bodaks. Kursk was the first to regain its wits. Screaming with rage, he jumped over the massive boulder and fell directly upon a slender undead that was advancing toward their position. Much to his surprise, said undead made a swift sidestep, seized the barbarian at the collar and, using his momentum against him, catapulted him several feet away in a fluid motion.
The roc was not happy. After some wriggling from its prey, it had managed to crush it in its glowing talons and then smash it on the rocks far below; its still warm corpse had been slowly devoured, starting by the eyes. But when it had come back to assay its three remaining tormentors, it had found them dead already, surrounded by strange gaunt figures its intuition told it were undead too. Trying to swoop down to mangle the bodies, it had been able to promptly swallow the tall half-orc and the skinny elf. But the undead had prevented it from touching the maenad. Worse, they had somehow managed to immobilize it to the ground and then collapse a part of the cliff on its body, leaving only its head free. The roc was not happy, and it made it known by screeching as loudly as it could. Those undead would pay, too. Not that they cared: they went back to the titanic spike that protruded from the ground, and started to chant. Still, it screeched.
It stopped screeching. A moment ago, the maenad had risen, her flesh now dark and cold. Her eyes were two silvery slits in her deformed face. In its deformed face. The former maenad rose and joined the other undead. It was like it now - this was its punishment. The roc felt satisfaction. The other undead remained, though. The roc wondered: once it would have destroyed its imprisoners, what to do for the rest of its undeath ?
It did not remember its name; it could only recall that it used its mind as a weapon. Now it was chanting with the other bodaks, reading the runes on the Spine. It made it remember something else: a colossal creature, so enormous that it could ensare the whole world in its coils. Chaos made flesh, deeply asleep, an apocalypse to be. It knew it used to look for this creature, for some reason. Maybe it was because it wanted to awaken it, to unleash complete destruction upon this world; to snuff out once and for all every soul of this plane. At any rate, the runes were telling such a tale; and a pleasant tale it was.
The roc had come to look at the runes too. They were summoning hazy ideas in its mind. They were a promise of destruction, of unraveling all that was. A new dedication started to blossom in its undead heart.
The bodaks gathered, and for the first time in the last twenty-four hours, one of them spoke. The newcomer's instinct told it that this one, too, could do great things witht the power of its mind. It spoke. It told it of the signs, the deterioration of the climate; the influx of chaotic magic all over the world; the increasing presence of titanic sea monsters. The Leviathan was stirring, and now was the right moment to push it further in this direction. They were its dedicated priests; they prayed and prepared the temple of the Surging Spine. The temple was carved inside a dorsal spine of the Leviathan itself, that had protruded from the earth the previous year. But the Leviathan needed more than priests: it needed crusaders. Creatures of evil, sworn to its cause, that looked far and wide across the lands for more followers, while sowing death and chaos in their path. Loyal servants to thwart the feeble attempts of those who would slow the rise of the monster, wherever they were. The newcomer would be this crusader, riding before the apocalypse, giving a taste of it to this miserable world the gods had created. And, the bodak added, the roc could easily be won over to the cause of the Leviathan. One could see in its dead eye that the elder evil had started its whispers.
Through the thick gray clouds, it could feel the stinging light of the sun, temporarily kept at bay. They had been waiting for four days, circling high in the sky, and today at last the librarian deigned to appear. Perched atop the Omen, it had just located the thin woman, far below them, riding out of the city by the main gate. The roc, armed with keener eyesight, spoke to its mind:
"I can see she is holding the book. She probably wants to entrust it to some druid or other hidden-away ermite, so that we won't be able to reach it. Hold on, I think the rider that comes behind her is...a cleric. Probably of Heironeous, given his sigil, and powerful: he holds some sort of solid bolt of energy as a weapon..."
"We can't attack then, not this close to the city. We follow them, and when they stop to rest, we sack their inn and grab this book. After this one, two other copies of the ritual of Slumber must be destroy-" The communication was suddenly muted.
"The Mindlink has expired; here is another one. Where were we ?"
The bodak still had the innate psionic potential of a Wilder: it had escaped death, hidden in its intellect. It was only starting to hone it again in a tool as powerful as it recalled it used to be.
The inn was drawing closer, apparently deeply asleep. Suddenly, a high-pitched shrill filled the air. Alerted by the Alarm, the cleric bolted out and saw them on the spot despite the black of the night; he immediately barked to the opened door.
"It's the Alien and the Omen ! Everyone, emergency situation, do as you were told !"
It could not help but grin. The hideous scarifications it had performed as part of its allegiance to the Leviathan had left such an impression on the survivors of their attacks that they had christened it as such. Nicely enough, it rhymed with its partner's own nickname.
The cleric was obviously bracing himself to react to some action from the bodak, probably wanting to stall for time. The Alien was pleased to oblige. Focusing in the powers of its mind, it unleashed a blast of invisible, inaudible ray of pure fire. Caught in his waiting, the lackey of Heironeous refrained a curse, as puzzled as he was in pain. A peasant more curious than afraid appeared at the window of the inn, took a look at the protagonists, and fell dead where he stood seconds after.
"They call me an Omen, they have one. I hope someone will notice that viewed from above, the heads have been disposed to form the rune of the Leviathan."
"Back to the point, please. She must have escaped during the fight. Let us try the next inn on the road. She can't survive in the woods, She will have to stop in some shelter every night."
"The woman must not sneak past us one more time, though. As soon as possible, I need the priests of the Surging Spine to teach me that stance that allows to flush out stealthy creatures."
Spoiler: Overall Glance and Explanation
The Alien is a Chaotic Evil (Educated Mind ACF) Wilder 12 Bodak. It is riding the Omen, a Chaotic Evil (Unarmed variant) Swordsage 9 Restless Prey Roc.
Spoiler: Why a bodak, why a Wilder ?
Well, the bodak's Death Gaze qualifies as a death effect for the purpose of being a Death Cavalier. Moreover, a bodak is not mindless, and its outlook is very classy and unsettling at the same time; this was a good starting point for a death villain. I added psionic levels for the ability for manifesters to completely cancel out the displays of their powers with a Concentration check. This gives a very impressive and unnerving aspect to the Alien: both its gaze and its powers can kill without the bodak moving a single toe, and there isn't any sensitive input that can give the slightest explanation as to what just happened. Thus, death seems to emanate from the mere presence of the villain, and that is what I would expect from a Death Cavalier.
Wilder was chosen, firstly because it is a non Int-based full manifesting class: bodaks have a -4 racial modifier to Int, but +2 to Cha and Wis. Secondly because, thanks to the Wild Surge class feature, it could allow the bodak to make up for all those lost manifester levels with its 9 undead HDs. And Educated Mind is so much more useful than Volatile Mind.
Spoiler: Why a roc, why a Swordsage ?
The bodak needed a mount, but sturdy enough so that it would survive the fight against high-level PCs. An undead one, or else it would have been affected by the Death gaze. A flying one, since flight is mandatory to remain relevant at high levels, and so that the bodak wouldn't spend precious psionic resources to make the two of them airborne. To scale in power and endurance, this mount needed to gain class levels at the same rate as its master, and so it would need an Int of at least 3. This is how I ended up with an intelligent undead roc, with a single template that conveniently provides both the "undead" and the "intelligent" parts at the same time.
I then wanted to take advantage of that 34 Strength score, so a melee class was needed. Not knowing what to take yet, maybe a Ranger, I knew however that I wanted Pounce. Lion Totem Barbarian was far too easy and unoriginal, I thus tried to grab the Pouncing Charge maneuver through a combination of Martial Study feats -before I realized that I could just directly enter a martial adept class ! Crusaders don't have access to Tiger Claw maneuvers, and below average Int and above average Wis brought me to choose Swordsage over Warblade. As it is difficult to hold a kukri with a pair of talons, Unarmed Swordsage fiinally came out as the best choice.
Spoiler: RiderSpoiler: Ability Scores
Bodak Mods: Str +2, Dex +4, Con -, Int -4, Wis +2, Cha +2
Elite Array: Str 12 (10), Dex 16 (12), Con -, Int 10 (14), Wis 15 (13), Cha 17 (15)
Deformity (gaunt) feat modifier : Dex +2, (Con -2)
Stat Increases: Cha/Cha/Cha
Items : Cha +8
Final Stats: Str 12, Dex 18, Con -, Int 10, Wis 15, Cha 20 (+8)
The minimal amount of equipment is needed : +6 Cha enhancement items, +2 Cha increasing tomes. One may add a Third Eye: Clarity (3000 gp, MIC) to negate the dazed condition 1/day. Assuming NPC wealth by level, and the item levels mechanism decribed in the MIC, the Cloak of Charisma +2 comes online at character level 9 (that is, CR 8), the +4 appears at level 14 (or CR 13) and the +6 at level 17 (or CR 16). Meanwhile, the Tome of Leadership and influence are available at character levels 16 and 18 (or CR 15 and 17) for the +1 and +2 inherent bonuses to Cha, respectively. The +3 tome is useless since it gives us an odd Cha stat.
To sum it up:
CR 8: Cha +2
CR 13: Cha +4
CR 15: Cha +5
CR 16: Cha +7
CR 17: Cha +8
No wealth is used to buy items for the mount, appart from a masterwork saddle and similar mundane oddities.
As the Alien has dedicated its unlife to Leviathan, Elder Evils p.10 states that it gains one bonus Vile feat, plus one bonus Vile feat for every 5 HD it has. From CR 8 to CR 20, its HDs range from 9 to 21. Thus, the bodak starts out with two bonus Vile Feats, and gains three more over the course of its crusade.
The Educated Mind ACF comes from this WoTC article: The Mind's Eye, Expanded Classes Part One. It allows Wilders to lose the Volatile Minc class feature, normally gained at levels 5, 9, 13 and 17, and to gain the Expanded Knowledge feat each time instead. This ACF is enormously beneficial to any Wilder, given their meager 1 power for every two class levels. It becomes vital for the Alien, which absolutely does not have the spare feats to manually take Expanded Knowledge two more times, as he gains the 5th and 9th level benefits of this ACF. The Alien gets from 9 to 11 powers known thanks to this ACF, meaning an increase in powers known of more than 20 %.
CR Class Manifester Level Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Skills ranks Feats Class Features 8 Bodak (MMI) (9 HD) 0 +4 +3 +7 +8 Concentration 9, Ride 9, Intimidate 6 Hiddent Talent (XPH), Ability Focus : Death Gaze (MMI), Irresistible Gaze (SK), Quicken Power (XPH), Willing Deformity (bonus) (EE), Deformity (gaunt) (bonus) (EE) Death gaze, damage reduction 10/cold iron, darkvision 60 ft., immunity to electricity, resistance to acid 10 and fire 10, undead traits, vulnerability to sunlight 9 Wilder 1 1 +4 +3 +7 +10 Concentration 11, Ride 9, Psicraft 2, Intimidate 6 Abominable Form (bonus) (EE) Wild Surge +1, Psychic Enervation 10 Wilder 2 2 +5 +3 +7 +11 Concentration 13, Ride 9, Psicraft 4, Intimidate 6 Elude Touch 11 Wilder 3 7 +6/+1 +4 +8 +11 Concentration 15, Ride 10, Psicraft 4, Intimidate 7 Practised Manifester (Cpsi) Wild Surge +2 12 Wilder 4 8 +7/+2 +4 +8 +12 Concentration 16, Ride 10, Psicraft 4, Intimidate 10 Surging Euphoria +1 13 Wilder 5 9 +7/+2 +4 +8 +12 Concentration 17, Ride 10, Psicraft 4, Intimidate 13 Educated Mind: Crystal Shard 14 Wilder 6 10 +8/+3 +5 +9 +13 Concentration 18, Ride 10, Psicraft 4, Intimidate 16 Psionic Meditation (XPH), Evil's Blessing (bonus) (EE) 15 Wilder 7 11 +9/+4 +5 +9 +13 Concentration 19, Ride 10, Psicraft 4, Intimidate 19 Wild Surge +3 16 Wilder 8 12 +10/+5 +5 +9 +14 Concentration 20, Ride 10, Psicraft 4, Intimidate 20, Bluff 2 17 Wilder 9 13 +10/+5 +6 +10 +14 Concentration 21, Ride 10, Psicraft 4, Intimidate 21, Bluff 4 Expanded Knowledge (XPH) : Touchsight Educated Mind: Time Hop 18 Wilder 10 14 +11/+6/+1 +6 +10 +15 Concentration 22, Ride 10, Psicraft 4, Intimidate 22, Bluff 6 19 Wilder 11 15 +12/+7/+2 +6 +10 +15 Concentration 23, Ride 10, Psicraft 4, Intimidate 23, Bluff 8 Apostate (bonus) (EE) Wild Surge +4 20 Wilder 12 16 +13/+8/+3 +7 +11 +16 Concentration 24, Ride 10, Psicraft 4, Intimidate 24, Bluff 10 Expanded knowledge: Schism Surging Euphoria +2
Spoiler: Psionic and Gaze Abilities
In this table will be included the ever-increasing save DC for the Death Gaze attack of the Alien, (+its augmentation through the use of Cha increasing items).
The number of power points indicated is equal to the normal power points per Wilder class level (also including the +2 for the Hiddent Talent feat) + the bonus power points for a high Charisma (+ the number of additional power points gained through Cha increasing items). Figures are rounded down, apart from Wilder 1. At this level, the item bumps the Alien's Cha from 16 to 18 and thus gives it one more power point.
From CR 1 to 8, and thanks to the Hidden Talent feat, the Alien has 2 PP and the Mindlink power.
From CR 9 onwards :
CR 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th Power points Death Gaze DC 9 2 - - - - - 4+1,5(+0,5) 22(+1) 10 3 - - - - - 8+3(+1) 22(+1) 11 3 - - - - - 13+6(+1) 24(+1) 12 3 1 - - - - 19+8(+2) 24(+1) 13 4 1 - - - - 27+10(+5) 25(+2) 14 4 1 1 - - - 33+12(+6) 25(+2) 15 4 1 1 - - - 48+14(+10) 26(+3) 16 4 1 2 0 - - 60+16(+16) 26(+4) 17 4 1 4 0 - - 74+18(+18) 27(+4) 18 4 1 4 1 0 - 90+20(+20) 27(+4) 19 4 1 4 1 0 - 108+27(+22) 29(+4) 20 4 1 4 2 0 1 128+30(+24) 29(+4)
Typical powers known :
1st level:Vigor, Energy ray, Crystal shard (from CR 13 Educated Mind), Mindlink (from Hidden Talent)
2nd level:Ego whip
3rd level:Dispel Psionics, Ectoplasmic Cocoon, Time Hop (from CR 17 Educated Mind), Touchsight (from CR 17 Expanded Knowledge)
4th level:Schism (from CR 20 Expanded Knowledge), Death urge
6th level:Psionic disintegrate
All the powers come from the SRD.
Moreover, since the number of powers known to the Alien is extremely limited, picking one rather than another at any given level makes quite a difference to its overall strategic options. Thus, it has felt appropriate to me to show at which level each power is gained.
Psionic powers progression:
CR 9/Wilder 1: Mindlink, Energy ray
CR 10/Wilder 2: Vigor
CR 11/Wilder 3:
CR 12/Wilder 4: Ego Whip
CR 13/Wilder 5: Educated Mind: Crystal Shard
CR 14/Wilder 6: Dispel Psionics
CR 15/Wilder 7:
CR 16/Wilder 8: Ectoplasmic Cocoon
CR 17/Wilder 9: Educated Mind: Time Hop, Expanded Knowledge: Touchsight
CR 18/Wilder 10: Death Urge
CR 19/Wilder 11:
CR 20/Wilder 12: Psionic Disintegrate, Expanded Knowledge: Schism
Spoiler: MountSpoiler: Ability Scores
Roc stats: Str 34, Dex 15, Con 24, Int 2, Wis 13, Cha 11
Restless Prey modifier : Con -, Int +6, Cha + 6
Deformity (gaunt) feat modifier : Dex +2, (Con -2)
Level increases : Wis, Dex
Final Stats: Str 34, Dex 18, Con -, Int 8, Wis 14, Cha 17
Just as it is for the Alien, the Omen gains a number of bonus Vile feats thanks to its devotion to the Leviathan. Starting out with 18 HD at CR 11, the Omen first gains 4 Vile bonus feats. By the time it reaches CR 20, with 27 HD, it has gained two more.
Moreover, the Restless Prey template stipulates that the Restless Prey creature only gains one feat for every 4 HD it has, rather than following the ordinary progression. By RAW, this also extends to the HD it subsequently gains. This is why the roc possesses 4 ordinary feats at CR 11 with 18 HD, and gains two others at CR 13 and CR 17. Unfortunately, the inavailability of a feat when the Omen takes its first level of Swordsage prevents it from obtaining the Adaptative Style feat. By the way, this template comes from this WoTC article : The far corners of the World, Toxic Paradise: Monsters of the Rainforest.
The Restless Prey template is 3.0 material, but I have not found any 3.5 update anywhere, I thus assumed that it was still valid. I changed the DR 20/+2 into a DR 10/magic according to the guidelines on page 8 of the D&D v3.5 Accessory Update booklet.
The Unarmed Swordsage variant is given in ToB, at the end of the description of the Swordsage's class features. It removes the Swordsage's light armor proficiency in exchange for the Monk's unarmed strike progression. However, it does not give a free Improved Unarmed Strike, which completely ruins the point of this variant; moreover, by the RAW of the Swordsage's AC bonus class feature, the Swordsage gets Wis bonus to AC only when wearing a light armor, and does not apply if the Swordsage does not wear armor at all. Those two particular details are widely considered to be simple oversight from ToB's authors; this is the stance I will adopt on this matter. Hence the free Improved Unarmed Strike at Swordsage level 1.
CR Class Initiator level Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Skills ranks Feats Class Features 11 Restless Roc (MMI) (18 HD) 9 +13 +11 +14 +7 Spot 11, Listen 10 Air Heritage (PlH), Flyby Attack (MMI), Power Attack, Snatch (MMI), Willing Deformity (bonus), Deformity (gaunt) (bonus), Abominable Form (bonus), Harvester of souls (bonus) (EE) Force natural attacks, Cha to damage, Energy drain, Fear aura, Preserved Hide, DR 10/magic, Restless Prey Symbiosis 12 Unarmed Swordsage 1 10 +13/+8/+3 +11 +16 +9 Spot 11, Listen 10, Tumble 4, Jump 1 Improved Unarmed Strike (Unarmed Swordsage variant bonus feat) Quick to Act +1, Discipline Focus (Weapon Focus) :Tiger Claw 13 Unarmed Swordsage 2 11 +14/+9/+4 +11 +17 +11 Spot 11, Listen 10, Tumble 9, Jump 1 Evil's Blessing (bonus), Sudden Recovery (ToB) AC bonus, Wis +1 14 Unarmed Swordsage 3 12 +15/+10/+5 +12 +17 +11 Spot 11, Listen 10, Tumble 14, Jump 1 15 Unarmed Swordsage 4 13 +16/+11/+6/+1 +12 +18 +12 Spot 11, Listen 10, Tumble 17, Jump 1 Skill trick: Clarity of Vision (CSco) Discipline Focus (Insightful Strike): Tiger Claw 16 Unarmed Swordsage 5 14 +16/+11/+6/+1 +12 +18 +12 Spot 11, Listen 10, Tumble 22, Jump 1 Quick to Act +2 17 Unarmed Swordsage 6 15 +17/+12/+7/+2 +13 +20 +13 Spot 11, Listen 10, Tumble 27, Jump 1 Multiattack (MMI) Dex +1 18 Unarmed Swordsage 7 16 +18/+13/+8/+3 +13 +20 +13 Spot 13, Listen 12, Tumble 28, Jump 1 Apostate (bonus) Sense Magic 16 Unarmed Swordsage 8 17 +19/+14/+9/+4 +13 +21 +14 Spot 15, Listen 14, Tumble 29, Jump 1 Discipline Focus (Defensive Stance): Tiger claw 17 Unarmed Swordsage 9 18 +19/+14/+9/+4 +14 +21 +14 Spot 17, Listen 16, Tumble 30, Jump 1 Evasion
Spoiler: Martial adept abilities
As the 18 racial HDs of the Roc provide him with an initator level (IL) of 9, its actual IL is equal to 9+its Swordsage level. Thus, it has already access to 5th level maneuvers at its first Swordsage level.
CR Maneuvers known Maneuvers readied Stances known Highest level of known maneuvers 12 6 4 1 5 13 7 4 2 6 14 8 5 2 6 15 9 5 2 7 16 10 6 3 7 17 11 6 3 8 18 12 6 3 8 19 13 7 3 9 20 14 7 4 9
Typical known maneuvers / stances:
1st level:Sudden Leap / Hunter's Sense, Flame's Blessing
3rd level: / Leaping Dragon's Stance
5th level:Disrupting Blow, Pouncing Charge, Dancing Mongoose / Hearing the Air
6th level:Desert Tempest, Moment of Alacrity, Rabid Bear Strike
7th level:Quicksilver Motion, Swooping Dragon Strike, Inferno Blade
8th level:Raging Mongoose, Diamond Defense
9th level:Time Stands Still, Feral Death Blow
The spoiler below shows how each maneuver is acquired and/or swapped, in order to constantly respect the limitations on highest level maneuver known and known maneuvers prerequisites.
Maneuvers known progression:
CR 12/Swordsage 1: Moment of Perfect Mind, Mind over Body, Disrupting Blow, Wolf Fang Strike, Sudden leap, Pouncing Charge/ Leaping Dragon's Stance
CR 13/Swordsage 2: Dancing Mongoose/ Hearing the Air
CR 14/Swordsage 3: Rabid Bear Strike
CR 15/Swordsage 4: Inferno Blade, swap Wolf Fang Strike for Swooping Dragon Strike
CR 16/Swordsage 5: Quicksilver Motion/ Flame's Blessing
CR 17/Swordsage 6: Diamond Defense, swap Mind over Body for Raging Mongoose
CR 18/Swordsage 7: Moment of Alacrity
CR 19/Swordsage 8: Feral Death Blow, swap Moment of Perfect Mind for Time Stands Still
CR 20/Swordsage 9: Desert Tempest/ Hunter's Sense