Entry number 3

Quote Originally Posted by Buckethead, the Pretender
Buckethead, the Pretender
Race: Strongheart Halfling
Build Stub: Rogue 1 / Druid 6 / Hoardstealer 3 / Arcane Hierophant 2 / Hoardstealer +5 / Arcane Hierophant +3
Multiclass Penalty: No
Languages: Common, Halfling, Elf, Dwarf, Gnome, Draconic (at 1), Sylvan (at 1), Druidic (at 2)
Alignment: TN
Ability Scores (32pt-buy):
Ability Base Racial Total
Str 10 -2 8
Dex 12 +2 14
Con 12 +0 12
Int 16 +0 16
Wis 16 +0 16
Cha 10 +0 10
All level-up points go to Wisdom.

Spoiler: Backstory
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(Note: This character is set firmly in Eberron. Eberron dragons are not alignment-locked by color.)

"...An unmarked Talenta tribesman will discover forgotten lore, which could herald the return of the false dragons..." ~ A Chamber-interpreted fragment of the Dragon Prophecy

Some halfling tribes in Talenta keep their children away from Zilargo. The Thaun clan raise them in the city for the tough life lessons. I grew up there, and my formal education, though brief, left me fascinated with dragons. Young but obviously smart, I was sent back to the tribes to be groomed for leadership. I was a courier for one of the tribe elders, taking messages between tribes before meetings. I helped solve village problems a bit on the side when I could, but I wazs never much of a fighter.

Travellers are rare in the plains, so when I found a nobly-dressed man wandering alone, I thought it best to bring him to the tribe for safe transport where he pleased. I was wrong. After the man learned our clan name, he transformed into a gold dragon and killed half of us in an instant. The few left who could tried to fight back to give women and young time to escape. I armed myself with an improvised bucket for a helm and led those I could into the mountains to the east. We fought off goblins and others to claim caves and lay low, expecting pursuit, but the dragon never followed.

Exploring the caves led to a dragonshard with a cryptic message that only I could read: "In Xen'drick, a small one can become as great as a dragon."

At the direction of the clan shaman, I left to follow this sign. On the way, I joined the Nightbringer cult (more for power to bring balance than to end the world) but didn't stay in the Gloaming long; I had a plan. I returned to Zilargo and started digging. Not too many dragons in Khorvaire, right? Wrong. The Chamber has strong influence, and it turns out the dragon that killed most of my tribe was a low-ranking member. I put together a small company and exacted my revenge... It was too easy. Recovering his hoard wasn't hard either, but fencing it all to prevent the Chamber from noticing? Impossible.

Having a price on your head for killing a dragon makes leaving a pirate port a great idea, so I jumped onto the first expedition ship to Xen'drick I could find. Let's see if the shard was right, eh?

...Was it worth it? Was reading a dragonshard in the heart of a ruin while a dragon slumbered behind me, none the wiser, smart? I don't really know any more. I think the price on my head is bigger now, but that's probably because of how much extra junk dragons cart around. They don't need it all, so I'll help myself.

Maybe one day, I'll share what I've learned. Pretending to be a dragon is fun and rewarding. Until then, the Chamber will keep getting poorer, and the tribes and I will get richer.


Spoiler: Build
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Level Class Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Skills Feats Class Features
1st Rogue 1 +0 +0 +2 +0 appraise 4, balance 4, disable device 4, escape artist 4, hide 4, know arcana 4, move silently 4, open lock 4, search 4, UMD 4, speak language (draconic) (2cc), speak language (sylvan) (2cc) 1: Education, Bonus: Darkstalker ACF: Antiquarian (Lose Trapfinding), Sneak Attack +1d6
2nd Druid 1 +0 +2 +2 +2 handle animal 1, know nature 4, move silently +1 (5, 2cc) - Animal Companion, Nature Sense, Wild Empathy
3rd Druid 2 +1 +3 +2 +3 appraise +1 (2cc, 5), know arcana +1 (5, 2cc), know nature +1 (5), search +1 (2cc, 5) Nightbringer Initiate Woodland Stride
4th Druid 3 +2 +3 +3 +3 appraise +1 (2cc, 6), know arcana +1 (6, 2cc), know nature +1 (6), search +1 (2cc, 6) - Trackless Step
5th Druid 4 +3 +4 +3 +4 appraise +1 (7, 2cc), know arcana +1 (7, 2cc), know nature +1 (7), move silently +1 (6), search +1 (2cc, 7) Strong Stomach ACF: Iron Constitution (Lose Resist Nature's Lure)
6th Halfling Druid Racial Sub. 5 +3 +4 +3 +4 hide +3 (7), know arcana +1 (8, 2cc), know nature +2 (9), move silently +2 (8) Natural Bond Undersized Wild Shape (Tiny, Small) 2/d
7th Druid 6 +4 +5 +4 +5 appraise +1 (8, 2cc), know nature +1 (10), hide +1 (8), move silently +2 (10), search +1 (2cc, 8) - Undersized Wild Shape 3/d
8th Hoardstealer 1 +4 +5 +6 +5 balance +1 (5), bluff 2, gather info 2, know nature +1 (11, 2cc), move silently +1 (11, 2cc) - Darkvision +30', Trapfinding
9th Hoardstealer 2 +5 +5 +7 +5 bluff +2 (4), gather info +2 (4), know nature +1 (12, 2cc), move silently +1 (12, 2cc), UMD +1 (5) Natural Spell Hide from Dragons (Sp) 1/d
10th Hoardstealer 3 +6 +6 +7 +6 bluff +2 (6), gather info +2 (6), know nature +1 (13, 2cc), move silently +1 (13, 2cc), UMD +1 (6) - Trap Sense +2, Deep Pockets (Su)
11th Arcane Hierophant 1 +6 +6 +7 +8 know arcana +4 (12), know nature +1 (14), move silently +1 (14, 2cc) - Companion Familiar, Ignore Arcane Spell Failure, Undersized Wild Shape 4/d
12th Arcane Hierophant 2 +7 +6 +7 +9 concentration 1, know arcana +3 (15), know nature +1 (15), move silently +1 (15, 2cc) Dragon Wild Shape Undersized Wild Shape (Medium)
13th Hoardstealer 4 +8 +6 +8 +9 bluff +2 (8), escape artist +1 (5), gather info +1 (7), move silently +1 (16, 2cc), UMD +1 (7), skill trick: collector of stories - Treasure Dowsing (Sp) 1/d
14th Hoardstealer 5 +8 +6 +8 +9 bluff +2 (10), gather info +2 (9), move silently +1 (17, 2cc), search +1 (9), UMD +2 (9) - Darkvision +60'
15th Hoardstealer 6 +9 +7 +9 +10 bluff +2 (12), gather info +2 (11), move silently +1 (18, 2cc), search +1 (10), UMD +2 (11) Trickery Devotion (Complete Champion) Trap Sense +4, Hide from Dragons (Sp) 2/d
16th Hoardstealer 7 +10 +7 +9 +10 bluff +2 (14), gather info +2 (13), move silently +1 (19, 2cc), search +1 (11), UMD +2 (13) - Treasure Dowsing (Sp) 2/d
17th Hoardstealer 8 +11 +7 +10 +10 bluff +2 (16), gather info +2 (15), move silently +1 (20, 2cc), search +1 (12), UMD +2 (15) Feats Skill Mastery: bluff, hide, move silently, know arcana, know nature, search
18th Arcane Hierophant 3 +12 +8 +11 +10 move silently +1 (21, 2cc), know arcana +1 (16), listen 2, spot 2 Knowledge Devotion (Arcana) -
19th Arcane Hierophant 4 +13 +8 +11 +11 move silently +1 (22, 2cc), know arcana +1 (17), listen +2 (4), spot +2 (4) - Channel Animal (Sp) 2/d, Undersized Wild Shape 5/d
20th Arcane Hierophant 5 +13 +8 +11 +11 move silently +1 (23, 2cc), know arcana +3 (20), listen +1 (5), spot +1 (5) - Undersized Wild Shape (Diminutive)


Spoiler: Spells
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Spoiler: Druid Spells
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Spells per Day/Spells Known
Level 0lvl 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
1st - - - - - - - - - -
2nd 3 1+1 - - - - - - - -
3rd 4 2+1 - - - - - - - -
4th 4 2+1 1+1 - - - - - - -
5th 5 3+1 2+1 - - - - - - -
6th 5 3+1 2+1 1+1 - - - - - -
7th 5 3+1 2+1 2+1 - - - - - -
8th 5 3+1 2+1 2+1 - - - - - -
9th 5 3+1 2+1 2+1 - - - - - -
10th 5 3+1 2+1 2+1 - - - - - -
11th 6 4+1 3+1 2+1 1+1 - - - - -
12th 6 4+1 3+1 3+1 2+1 - - - - -
13th 6 4+1 3+1 3+1 2+1 - - - - -
14th 6 4+1 3+1 3+1 2+1 - - - - -
15th 6 4+1 3+1 3+1 2+1 - - - - -
16th 6 4+2 3+1 3+1 2+1 - - - - -
17th 6 4+2 3+1 3+1 2+1 - - - - -
18th 6 4+2 4+1 3+1 2+1 1+1 - - - -
19th 6 4+2 4+1 3+1 3+1 2+1 - - - -
20th 6 5+2 4+1 4+1 3+1 2+1 1 - - -


Spoiler: Hoardstealer Spells
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Spells per Day/Spells Known
Level 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
8th 0+1 - - -
9th 1+1 - - -
10th 1+1 0+1 - -
11th 1+1 1+1 - -
12th 1+1 1+1 0+1 -
13th 1+1 1+1 1+1 -
14th 2+1 1+1 1+1 0
15th 2+1 1+1 1+1 1
16th 2+1 2+1 1+1 1
17th 2+1 2+1 2+1 1
18th* 3+1 2+1 2+1 1
19th* 3+1 2+1 2+1 2
20th* 3+1 3+1 2+1 2
*Note: Arcane Hierophant increases Hoardstealer spells and CL beyond the table. Levels 18-20 are extrapolated and can be ignored if considered invalid by the judges. Even without the spell slots, the arcane CL increase matters for spell duration/power and Companion Familiar.


Spoiler: Mechanics
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Spoiler: Levels 1-5
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Early play is mostly as a party support and scout. Standard low level rogue and druid tactics apply.
1: This level is all about the skill ranks. Thrown daggers, alchemical substances, and shortbow are best.
2: 1st druid spells and a briaxshunty companion / mount provide speed and more combat options.
3: Nightbringer initiate is mostly for skill ranks and enervation later. Woodland stride improves scouting.
4: 2nd spells! Melee combat is possible with bite of the wererat, but support and summoning is still better. Trackless step improves scouting.
5: Trade briaxshunty for dire eagle. Scouting from the air is possible, and the eagle is a nice beatstick.
Bracket Sweet spot: 5. Low levels are the weakest part of this build.


Spoiler: Levels 6-10
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Wild Shape comes online. Still more of a scout or summoner than anything else, but wild shape ambush with sneak attack is valid.
6: Wild Shape! (see overview) 3rd spells! Because of level-up order, I can't take Natural Spell. Natural Bond is the obvious second choice. Scouting in tiny form is great.
7: Trade improved dire eagle for improved fleshraker dinosaur because I can fly now. (I waited for the improvement.) It's time to help kill/rob a very young dragon.
8: Entry into SI. All wild shape forms now have at least 30' darkvision. Item goals at this point: monk's belt + wilding clasp, mantle of the beast.
9: Natural Spell! Hide from Dragons is a great, "Oh sh-!" button when trying to steal from a dragon.
10: 2nd arcane spell from SI. This qualifies for Arcane Hierophant. Deep pockets is up, which means my bucket/hat of temporary holding is online.
Bracket Sweet spot: 9. Natural spell is very strong. For now, I stick to chordevoc form (tiny bird with fly 60' good) for scouting and spellcasting.


Spoiler: Levels 11-15
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Pure power. Spellcasting, wild shape, and companion improvements abound.
11: 4th druid spells means enhanced wild shape. Cool tricks: enhanced (gain Ex and Su) + wild shape (swindlespitter) = 90' darkvision; enhanced + wild shape (chordevoc) = blindsense 60'. Great scouting forms. Companion familiar is online. No arcane spell failure in druid armor means I can wear it again if I don't want a monk's belt + wilding clasp.
12: Dragon form time! Since effective druid level is 8, initial favored form is very young shadow dragon for shadow meld. With a know arcana of 15 ranks, familiarity checks should not be a problem. I can see further than dragons with darkvision when in dragon wild shape. Also, 3rd arcane spells. A scroll of permanency is desirable for arcane sight. Swap companion familiar for bloodstriker dinosaur; arcane CL5 = Int 8. While this is partly for pulling cart-loads of stolen treasure, a smart bloodstriker is very dangerous.
13: Treasure dowsing in mines + burrowing dragon form = free money from ore and gems. Collector of Stories is helpful.
14: 4th arcane spell, usually used for dimension door. Darkvision range is even longer. Arcane CL7 = speak with animals of its kind (dinosaurs?).
15: BAB and all saves increase. Trickery devotion means I can be very safe in any theft I undertake. I hope by this level to have found/bought a wild shape amulet.
Build Sweet Spot: 12. Dragon wild shape (very young shadow dragon) gives shadow meld; combined with spells (camouflage, ect), I can probably steal from a young or juvenile dragon while it sleeps with no problems.


Spoiler: Levels 16-20
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Incremental improvements.
16: More free money per day.
17: What I consider the capstone of the SI: Skill mastery grants a lot of benefits. Bluff and Gather Info help to begin a dragon hunt. Hide and move silently are vital. Knowledges help with wild shaping and knowing your foes. Capped out on Hoardstealer casting table.
18: 5th Druid spells. Knowledge Devotion for large, consistent (with skill mastery) bonuses vs arcana and nature foes. Arcane CL11 = SR16 and Int 11 for companion familiar.
19: Channel animal gives access to tricks with summons. Swap companion familiar for a dire bear.
20: 6th Druid spells. With no items, diminutive wild shape + darkvision 60' = a mouse inside walls. Add Trickery Devotion to get a mobile scrying sensor that you can control for some of the most potent druid spying possible. Arcane CL 13 = scry on companion familiar, SR18, Int 12. Are you not amused by an Int 12 dire bear?
Bracket Sweet Spot: 20. Post-12, every level is improvement.


Spoiler: Wild Shape Overview
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Undersized Wild Shape is flavorful and not as bad as it seems. Most medium wild shape forms have a small equivalent; you care more about maneuverability and spying than wild shape combat; and the extra use helps power dragon wild shape later.
The following is a bunch of semi-organized notes about potential wild shape forms and at what effective druid level they are accessible for this build.

Undersized Wild Shape Forms
Tiny/Small, character level 6+:
tiny chordevoc (fly 60' good): scouting and spell-slinging form, enhanced wildshape = blindsense 60'
small swindlespitter dinosaur (move 30'): enhanced wildshape = base darkvision 60'
small serval (savannah wildcat) (move 40'): imp grab, pounce, rake
small viper/sea snake (movement modes: move/climb/swim 20'), sea snake loses climb but has +2 poison DC
small badger (move 30', burrow 10')
small octopus (aquatic, swim 30'): combine with air breathing spell for escape artist bonus to squeeze through spaces?
tiny rat, cat, lizard, hawk (spy)

Medium / Dragon, character level 12+:
small very young 7 - medium juvenile 13 shadow dragon (80', fly 150'avg-poor, shadow blend [total concealment, daylight sp negates], AC +11[1z+10NA]-16NA, breath energy drain gas 1-2 lvls, Refl)
small faerie dragon 8 (swim 30', fly 100' perfect, water breathing, breath 20' C euphoria gas 1d6 r dazed, Will)
small wyrmling 7 - medium young 12 rust dragon (fly 100-150' avg-poor, burrow 45', rusting bite DC 14, breath L acid 2d4-6d4 or C rust all metal Refl)
small wyrmling 5 - medium young 11 styx dragon (low base AC, swim 60', burrow 20', amphibious, constrict, imp grab, imune to poison/disease, disease [stygian wasting], breath L acid 1d6-3d6 persists 3r or C stupefying gas 1/age Int dmg, Fort)
small very young 7 - juvenile 13 black dragon (60', swim 60', fly 100'avg-150'poor, water breathing, immune acid, AC +7[1z+6NA]-12NA, breath L acid 4d4-8d4)
medium young 12 blue (immune elec, burrow 20', 40', fly 150' poor, +11NA, breath L elec 2d8-6d8)
medium young 11 green (immune acid, 40', swim 40', fly 150' poor, +10NA, breath C acid gas 2d6-6d6)
medium wyrmling 7 red (immune fire, cold vuln, +6NA, breath C fire 2d10)
small very young 6 - medium juvenile 12 white (spider climb on ice/snow, immune cold, vuln fire, 60', burrow 30', swim 30-60', fly 150'avg-200'poor AC +6[1z+5NA]-11NA, breath C cold 2d6-4d6)
small very young 7 - medium juvenile 13 brass (immune fire, vuln cold, 60', burrow 30', fly 150'avg-200'poor, AC +7[1z+6NA]-12NA, breath 2d6-4d6 L fire or C sleep 1d6+1/age r, Will [ench, m-a])
small wyrmling 6 - medium young 12 bronze (immune elec, alternate form (young), water breathing, 40', swim 60', fly 100'avg-150'poor, AC +6[1z+5NA]-11NA, breath 2d6-6d6 L elec or C repulsion 1d6+1/age r, Will [ench, m-a])
small very young 8 - medium juvenile 14 copper (immune acid, spider climb on stone, 40', fly 100'avg-150'poor, AC +8[1z+7NA]-13NA, breath 4d4-8d4 L acid)
medium wyrmling 8 gold (alternate form, immune fire, vuln cold, water breathing, 60', swim 60', fly 200'poor, +7NA, breath C fire 2d10)
small wyrmling 7 - medium young 13 silver (alternate form, immune acid/cold, clouldwalking, vuln fire, 40', fly 100'avg-150'poor, AC +7[1z+6NA]-12, breath 2d8-6d8 C cold or C paralyzing gas 1d6+1/a r, Fort)
medium ambush drake 7 (40', fly30'poor, AC+8, Str16/Dex15/Con18, breath 30' C slow 7r, Will)
small very young 8 - medium juvenile 14 sapphire (spider climb on stone, sense psychoportation, 40', fly 100'avg-150'poor, AC +8[1z+6NA+1Dex]-14[12NA+2Dex], breath 4d4-8d4 C sonic and panic 1d4 r Will)
small wyrmling 6 - medium young 12 amethyst (force resistant, poison immune, 40', fly150'poor, burrow 20', swim 10', AC +7[1z+5NA+1Dex]-12[11NA+1Dex], breath 2d8-6d8 L force, optional subdual)


Diminutive/Large/Plant character level ~17-20 (wild shape amulet or enhanced wild shape may provide earlier access):
dim. bat, mouse (spy)
large assassin vine 4
large dire animals, various
large battlebriar lesser 12 MM3: enhanced = trample, thorn volley
medium wood woad 8 MM3: treewalk at will
large night twist 15 MM3: Str39, enhanced Su abilities Cha-based, so reduce DCs
large briarvex 8 MM4: Str25, 30', enhanced = imp woodland stride, thorn burrow
large burrow root MM5: enhanced = speed burrow
large vinespawn 12 MM5: enhanced = vine net, engulf


Spoiler: Useful Items
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Handy Haversack ASAP
Masterwork Padded Wooden Bucket Hat with latched internal bottom compartment: an ideal target for Deep Pockets. A wooden Bag of Holding isn't at risk of being punctured by weapons. A bucket is usable by almost any wild shape form (if taken off before transforming) and acts as a built-in scoop/funnel for quick grabs from hoard piles. The bucket is even a valid target for ironwood later.
+Int / +Wis prioritized; add +Int to a Stormfire Ring
Lesser Metamagic Rod of Silent Spell / Extend spell
Monk's Belt with pouches and loops (for wand/rod access in dragon shape) + Wilding Clasp
Mantle of the Beast: swift act wild shape
Wild Shape Amulet: +4 effective druid level for wild shape; this unlocks wild shape large and plant at late levels and provides earlier access to diminuitive.


Spoiler: Citations
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Player's Guide to Faerun: Strongheart Halfling
Eberron Campaign Setting: Education
Lords of Madness: Darkstalker
Faiths of Eberron: Nightbringer Initiate
Cityscape Web Enhancement 1: Iron Constitution
Races of the Wild: Halfling Druid, Arcane Hierophant, Briaxshunty, Chordevoc
Complete Adventurer: Natural Bond
Player's Handbook 1: Natural Spell
Draconomicon: Dragon Wild Shape, Shadow Dragon
Complete Champion: Antiquarian, Trickery Devotion, Knowledge Devotion, Mantle of the Beast
Monster Manuals 1-5: Most Wild Shape Forms
Sandstorm: serval (savannah wildcat)
Dragons of Faerun: Some of backstory
Magic of Faerun: Wild Shape Amulet
Magic Item Compendium: Wilding Clasp