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    Titan in the Playground
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    Jan 2007

    Default Re: Iron Chef Optimisation Challenge in the Playground XCIII

    Entry number 7

    Quote Originally Posted by The Professor
    Astrid crouched, her calves growing sore, peering across the town square at the guard standing firmly in front of the gilded door.

    “This is ridiculous,” whispered Nyssa. “We’ve been waiting for hours. Why don’t we just go in?”

    “Well, if there wasn’t a guard standing in front of the door holding an axe that weighs more than the both of us combined, maybe I would!” She looked around. “Just wait. The prophecy said the warrior would appear. The prophecy is never wrong.”

    “Well, it might not be wrong, but it’s certainly late,” she said. “It’s nearly sundown. Let’s just go up and see if they’ll let us in. Hells, how do we know the General is even still in there?”

    “I don’t!” she hissed. “And don’t shove me. The warrior will come. Trust me. The great warrior will appear in the town square today and tear down the walls of corruption that have imprisoned our city. General Driftmoor will be cast aside, and the fires of revolution will finally come ablaze. This day has been written in the prophecy for hundreds of—”

    “Hundreds of what?”

    “Hang on, was that there before?”

    “Was what there?”

    “That… box. Was that always there?” Astrid looked around. In the middle of the square, next to the fountain, stood a little square structure no bigger than a farmer’s hut covered in greyish-blue metal. On the side facing them was a heavy door. Astrid slowly walked up to it, looking all around. No one else seemed bothered by the box’s sudden appearance. She raised her fist, hesitated, knocked.

    “Just a minute!” came a small voice. There was a great scraping noise, several loud clunks, one loud clatter as though someone tripped over something large. Then the door shook with the sound of a large deadbolt withdrawing and swung inwards. “Yes?”

    Astrid looked down. Standing barely more than waist-high was a little man… or was he? No, not a man, some kind of small machine made of wood and bronze and silver, leaning on a wooden walking stick with a black metal head. His small, mechanical eyes looked up at her. He was dressed oddly, a large burgundy frock coat and a child’s short-pants covered in patches over what appeared to be some sort of armor plating. All of this sopping wet, dripping noisily on the ground.

    “I - hello, I…” Astrid stammered. “Um. You’re wet.”

    “I was swimming,” he said. “It does tend to get one wet.”

    “Swimming? In your clothes?”

    “Well, I hardly had time to change,” he said testily.

    Astrid peered around the little man into the small space behind him. “Where - where were you swimming?”

    “In the swimming pool, of course,” he said. “Don’t ask stupid questions. Where am I, exactly?”

    “What? You’re in Adderport,” Astrid answered, confused. “You don’t even…?”

    “Oh, good,” said the little man, and he rushed out past her, slamming the door to the strange little room behind him as he went. Without stopping, he strode quickly across the town square and up to the large guard in front of General Driftmoor’s residence. “Hello,” he said, staring up at the man. “I’m here to see the General.”

    The guard grunted and adjusted his axe. “Have you got an appointment?”

    “No, I haven’t got an appointment. Just an old friend, passing by. Well, I wouldn’t say friend, exactly. More of an old associate. Well, maybe not associate, that’s not the word. Chum? Confidant? No, that’s not right either. Doesn’t matter. Just tell General Driftmoor I’m here. It’ll be a bit of a surprise. Can’t wait to see his face.”

    “The General is occupied,” the guard grumbled. “Unless you have an appointment.”

    “Just turn around and go inside and tell General Driftmoor that the Professor would like to see him,” said the man, shooing impatiently. “I haven’t got all day.”

    “The Professor? Professor who?”

    “Just the Professor. Tell him exactly that.”

    The large man frowned and considered protesting further, then shrugged and went inside. Astrid crept closer to the door, waving Nyssa forward. She could just barely make out the sound of the guard’s deep voice grumbling through the door, then a loud bang, and heavy footsteps returning. The door swung open and the guard stood there again, still quite alone and frowning.

    “The General, um, says thank you for coming by,” he said. “He regrets to inform you that he, uh, is just completely booked right now. No chance to chat, but, um…”

    “He’s climbing out the rear window, isn’t he?” asked the Professor.

    The guard sighed. “Yes, sir,” he said. “Yes he is.”

    The Professor turned, his little legs carrying him quickly around the building. After several paces, he turned to Astrid and Nyssa. “Well?” he asked, the falling sun glinting off of eyes of metal and glass. “Are you coming?”

    The Professor
    CG Warforged Scout, Rogue 1/Artificer 9/Hoardstealer 10

    "We're all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?"

    Spoiler: The Build

    Level Class Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Skills Feats Class Features
    1st Rogue 1 +0 +0 +2 +0 Hide 4 ranks, move silently 4 ranks, use magic device 4 ranks, escape artist 4 ranks, search 4 ranks, open lock 4 ranks, disable device 4 ranks, appraise 4 ranks, craft (armorsmithing) 4 ranks, craft (weaponsmithing) 1 rank, forgery 1 rank, knowledge (arcana) 1 rank, decipher script 4 ranks, craft (alchemy) 4 ranks Darkstalker Sneak attack +1d6, trapfinding
    2nd Artificer 1 +0 +0 +2 +2 Appraise +1 rank (5), hide +1 rank (5), move silently +1 rank (5), use magic device +1 rank (5), search +1 rank (5), decipher script +1 rank (5) Scribe ScrollB Artificer knowledge, artisan bonus, disable trap, infuse self, item creation, Scribe Scroll
    3rd Artificer 2 +1 +0 +2 +3 Appraise +1 rank (6), hide +1 rank (6), move silently +1 rank (6), use magic device +1 rank (6), search +1 rank (6), craft (armorsmithing) +1 rank (5) Brew PotionB, Wand Bonding Brew Potion
    4th Artificer 3 +2 +1 +3 +3 Appraise +1 rank (7), hide +1 rank (7), move silently +1 rank (7), use magic device +1 rank (7), search +1 rank (7), knowledge (arcana) +1 rank (2) Craft Wondrous ItemB Craft Wondrous Item
    5th Artificer 4 +3 +1 +3 +4 Appraise +1 rank (8), hide +1 rank (8), move silently +1 rank (8), use magic device +1 rank (8), search +1 rank (8), craft (armorsmithing) +1 rank (6) Extend SpellB Tools of war, bonus feat
    6th Artificer 5 +3 +1 +3 +4 Hide +1 rank (9), move silently +1 rank (9), use magic device +1 rank (9), search +1 rank (9), craft (armorsmithing) +2 ranks (8) Craft Magic Arms and ArmorB, Persistent Spell Craft Magic Arms and Armor, craft weapon familiar
    7th Hoardstealer 1 +3 +1 +5 +4 Hide +1 rank (10), move silently +1 rank (10), use magic device +1 rank (10), search +1 rank (10), craft (armorsmithing) +2 ranks (10) Darkvision +30 ft., trapfinding
    8th Hoardstealer 2 +4 +1 +6 +4 Hide +1 rank (11), move silently +1 rank (11), use magic device +1 rank (11), search +1 rank (11), craft (armorsmithing) +1 rank (11), craft (alchemy) +1 rank (5), disable device +1 rank (5) Hide from dragons 1/day
    9th Hoardstealer 3 +5 +2 +6 +5 Hide +1 rank (12), move silently +1 rank (12), craft (armorsmithing) +1 rank (12), use magic device +1 rank (12), search +1 rank (12), open lock +1 rank (5), Clever Improviser skill trick Landlord Trap sense +2, deep pockets
    10th Hoardstealer 4 +6/+1 +2 +7 +5 Hide +1 rank (13), move silently +1 rank (13), craft (armorsmithing) +1 rank (13), use magic device +1 rank (13), search +1 rank (13), know (arcana) +1 rank (3), craft (alchemy) +.5 ranks (5.5) Treasure dowsing 1/day
    11th Hoardstealer 5 +6/+1 +2 +7 +5 Hide +1 rank (14), move silently +1 rank (14), craft (armorsmithing) +1 rank (14), use magic device +1 rank (14), search +1 rank (14), know (arcana) +1 rank (4), craft (alchemy) +.5 ranks (6) Darkvision +60 ft.
    12th Hoardstealer 6 +7/+2 +3 +8 +6 Hide +1 rank (15), move silently +1 rank (15), craft (armorsmithing) +1 rank (15), use magic device +1 rank (15), search +1 rank (15), craft (alchemy) +1.5 ranks (7.5) Obtain Familiar Trap sense +4, hide from dragons 2/day
    13th Hoardstealer 7 +8/+3 +3 +8 +6 Hide +1 rank (16), move silently +1 rank (16), craft (armorsmithing) +1 rank (16), use magic device +1 rank (16), search +1 rank (16), craft (alchemy) +1.5 ranks (9) Treasure dowsing 2/day
    14th Hoardstealer 8 +9/+4 +3 +9 +6 Hide +1 rank (17), move silently +1 rank (17), craft (armorsmithing) +1 rank (17), use magic device +1 rank (17), search +1 rank (17), craft (alchemy) +1.5 ranks (10.5) Skill mastery (use magic device, search, disable device, hide, move silently, forgery, appraise, open lock)
    15th Hoardstealer 9 +9/+4 +4 +9 +7 Hide +1 rank (18), move silently +1 rank (18), craft (armorsmithing) +1 rank (18), use magic device +1 rank (18), search +1 rank (18), craft (alchemy) +1.5 ranks (12) Improved Familiar Darkvision +90 ft., trap sense +6
    16th Hoardstealer 10 +10/+5 +4 +10 +7 Hide +1 rank (19), move silently +1 rank (19), craft (armorsmithing) +1 rank (19), use magic device +1 rank (19), search +1 rank (19), craft (alchemy) +2 ranks (14) Treasure dowsing 3/day, hide from dragons 3/day
    17th Artificer 6 +11/+6/+1 +5 +11 +8 Hide +1 rank (20), move silently +1 rank (20), craft (armorsmithing) +1 rank (20), use magic device +1 rank (20), search +1 rank (20), craft (alchemy) +3 ranks (17) Craft WandB Craft Wand
    18th Artificer 7 +12/+7/+2 +5 +11 +8 Hide +1 rank (21), move silently +1 rank (21), craft (armorsmithing) +1 rank (21), use magic device +1 rank (21), search +1 rank (21), craft (alchemy) +3 ranks (20) Dimensional Jaunt Metamagic spell trigger
    19th Artificer 8 +13/+8/+3 +5 +11 +9 Hide +1 rank (22), move silently +1 rank (22), craft (armorsmithing) +1 rank (22), use magic device +1 rank (22), search +1 rank (22), craft (alchemy) +2 ranks (22), spellcraft +1 rank (1) Rapid InfusionB Bonus feat
    20th Artificer 9 +13/+8/+3 +6 +12 +9 Hide +1 rank (23), move silently +1 rank (23), craft (armorsmithing) +1 rank (23), use magic device +1 rank (23), search +1 rank (23), craft (alchemy) +1 rank (23), autohypnosis +1 rank (1) Craft RodB Craft Rod

    Spoiler: Stats

    32-Point Buy (before racial mods): Str 8/Dex 12/Con 12/Int 18/Wis 10/Cha 14
    (after racial mods): Str 6/Dex 14/Con 12/Int 18/Wis 8/Cha 12
    Lvl 4: Str 6/Dex 14/Con 12/Int 19/Wis 8/Cha 12
    Lvl 8: Str 6/Dex 14/Con 12/Int 20/Wis 8/Cha 12
    Level 12: Str 6/Dex 14/Con 12/Int 21/Wis 8/Cha 12
    Level 16: Str 6/Dex 14/Con 12/Int 22/Wis 8/Cha 12
    Level 20: Str 6/Dex 14/Con 12/Int 23/Wis 8/Cha 12

    Spoiler: Hoarstealer spells

    Hoardstealer Spells per Day
    Level 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
    6th 0 - - -
    7th 1 - - -
    8th 1 0 - -
    9th 1 0 - -
    10th 1 1 - -
    11th 1 1 0 -
    12th 1 1 1 -
    13th 2 1 1 0
    14th 2 1 1 1
    15th 2 2 1 1
    16th 2 2 2 1

    Spoiler: Infusions

    Infusions per Day
    Level 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th
    1st - - - - - -
    2nd 2 - - - - -
    3rd 3 - - - - -
    4th 3 1 - - - -
    5th 3 2 - - - -
    6th 3 2 - - - -
    7th 3 2 - - - -
    8th 3 2 - - - -
    9th 3 3 1 - - -
    10th 3 3 1 - - -
    11th 3 3 1 - - -
    12th 3 3 1 - - -
    13th 3 3 1 - - -
    14th 3 3 1 - - -
    15th 3 3 1 - - -
    16th 3 3 1 - - -
    17th 3 3 2 - - -
    18th 3 3 2 - - -
    19th 3 3 3 1 - -
    20th 3 3 3 2 - -

    Spoiler: The Professor's Tools

    In general, despite being an artificer, the Professor spends very little time crafting. He primarily uses his infusions, especially spell-storing item, to create useful magic items on demand rather than crafting things in advance. However, he does have the ability to craft, letting him boost the strength of his party significantly or create useful wands and scrolls as necessary. This is not part of his normal modus operandi, and for the most part he functions fine without crafting at all, but it is an option he has for campaigns with significant periods of downtime.

    There are, however, two exceptions: his walking stick/weapon familiar and his stronghold.

    The Sonic Walking Stick
    The Professor carries his weapon familiar, a small-sized heavy mace with an adamantine head, with him at all times, using it primarily as a walking stick and general tool.

    As a weapon familiar (see the warforged artificer substitution level found on Races of Eberron p130), the heavy mace is a Chaotic Good intelligent item with an Intelligence and Charisma of 14 and Wisdom of 10. It provides the Professor with a +3 bonus on Use Magic Device checks and a +2 bonus on Fortitude saves. It can communicate telepathically with the Professor and also speaks Common, Draconic and Dwarven.

    The Professor has also personally augmented this walking stick in a couple of key ways to better serve him as a tool. He has given it the warning weapon enhancement from the MIC, meaning it provides him a +5 insight bonus to his initiative whenever it is held, and also enchanted it with the following command word abilities (costs to the Professor in GP and XP follow parenthetically):

    • Mage hand (CL 5) at will (2250gp, 180 xp)
    • No light (CL 5) 3/day (1350gp, 108 xp)
    • Guidance of the avatar (CL 3) 3/day (3240gp, 259xp)

    The end result is that the Professor’s walking stick can be used to sunder and destroy items despite his low strength thanks to its ability to bypass hardness, warns him of danger, assists him in activating magic items, lets him move small objects from up to 50 feet away, allows him to suppress light in an area and provides him with the guidance necessary to succeed on many complicated tasks. This is his omni-tool, used to manipulate things from afar, disable traps, aid in sneaking, manipulate magical items and far, far more.

    The total costs (including for adamantine and the base enhancements) fall well within the Professor’s wealth by level thanks to his ability to craft them himself.

    The Stronghold

    The Professor travels in a magical fortress, a stronghold he has assisted in building. This follows the rules for a mobile stronghold found in the Stronghold Builder’s Guide. The Professor’s fortress is a single stronghold space (per the guide, this is essentially one room with a maximum size of 20’x20’x10’), the size of a small cottage.

    As each level progresses, the Professor uses the funds granted from his Landlord feat to make improvements on the stronghold. Remember that in addition to the funds granted at each level, Landlord also provides matching funds for any improvements beyond what is granted by the feat, meaning the Professor can make improvements beyond what the provided funds allow for at essentially half-price. The Professor can also receive some discounts by performing some spellcasting services himself.

    Without dipping significantly into his own WBL or abusing the cost reduction of providing spellcasting himself, and primarily working off of what is provided via the Landlord feat, the Professor provides the following augmentations to his stronghold:
    Spoiler: Stronghold construction

    • LEVEL 9 (25k): Basic construction. A fancy smithy (3000gp), surrounded by three-foot hewn stone (6000gp), three feet of packed earth (250gp) and three-inch iron (6000gp) walls, lined with lead (1000gp). He adds an iron door with an amazing lock (650gp). Improved arcane lock only adds another 205gp but significantly strengthens things. An engraved circle of protection against evil (7500gp) permanently provides the stronghold with the effects of a magic circle against evil.
    • LEVEL 10 (25k): The stronghold becomes mobile with the addition of the crawling mobility feature (1000gp) at incredible speed (25000gp), allowing the stronghold to move at a rate of 10 miles/hour. This puts us slightly over the amount granted by Landlord at this level, requiring the Professor to use 500gp of his own WBL.
    • LEVEL 11 (25k): Magically treating the walls of the stronghold doubles their hardness and HP (12000gp), while ethereal solid blocks any ethereal intrusion (12000gp).
    • LEVEL 12 (25k): Flying (15000gp) and burrowing (10000gp) are the next additions.
    • LEVEL 13 (50k): The Professor’s stronghold can now greater teleport once per day (50000gp).
    • LEVEL 14 (50k): Plane shift 1/day (25000gp) lets the Professor visit other planes, while the Veil of Obscurity (25000gp) allows it to be disguised as though by a mirage arcana spell.
    • LEVEL 15 (50k): Magically treated adamantine walls (42000gp) get added onto the outside of the stronghold. A hall of speech (4000gp) means that the Professor can understand any written or spoken language inside his stronghold, while a trio of invisible helpers (4500gp) provide him with help and support in his smith.
    • LEVEL 16 (50k): The stronghold can greater teleport one additional time each day.
    • LEVEL 17 (100k): Two prismatic screens (60000gp each) cover the front and rear of the stronghold with a prismatic wall that refreshes every 24 hours if destroyed. (This requires an additional 10k gp fromthe Professor’s WBL.)
    • LEVEL 18 (100k): And two more prismatic screens cover the other two faces of the stronghold.
    • LEVEL 19 (100k): Another prismatic screen for the ceiling (60000gp), and six freestanding walls of force (4k each) seal in the stronghold in a cube of force; as the Professor has at-will teleportation by now, he no longer needs doors. A pool of scrying (12000gp) allows the Professor to scry on things from afar.
    • LEVEL 20 (200k): Improved magic warding (50000gp) gives the Professor and any other occupants SR32. Solid fog veil (22500gp) allows the Professor to surround his stronghold with a solid fog. Another use of plane shift (25000gp) and greater teleport (50000gp) finishes things up.

    Spoiler: Build Details

    First, let's get this out of the way: despite being inspired by the Doctor and involving some oft-maligned build aspects like artificer, this is not a joke build. The Professor is designed to be the ultimate in party support, utility and buffing, capable of getting into (and out of) most dungeons, carrying the party with his mobile stronghold and carting out treasure hoards. He works well in both small groups and large ones, designed to always have the right tool up his sleeve for just about any occasion.

    The Professor begins as a fairly roguish character, focusing on stealth, infiltration and trapfinding (the ability so nice he gets it thrice!). His small size and above-average Dexterity alongside Darkstalker gives him great stealth for the level, made better by utility from things like artificer’s skill enhancement.

    A note on artificer: the Professor is not intended to be your typical crafting artificer, insisting on days of downtime to constantly craft. While there are a few things he will craft himself (most notably his weapon familiar, a heavy mace he uses as a walking stick), his artificer levels are mostly focused on skills and buffing via infusions. At low levels, things like personal weapon augmentation, magic vestment, lesser construct essence and skill enhancement will be some of his best early options, alongside the excellent utility of component-free identify.

    His largest power jump at the early levels comes at level 6, when he creates his weapon familiar, a heavy mace he uses as his walking stick. As he spends very little time actually crafting, retain essence is easy to give up. This is a fantastic tool in general, an intelligent item that speaks to him telepathically and does absolutely everything from manipulating traps from afar to creating pockets of darkness to hide in to boosting his skills to incredible levels. It also provides him a significant boost to his UMD checks, which means that alongside skill enhancement he can start hitting the DCs necessary to use spell-storing item. This provides absolutely outrageous flexibility, letting him create a single-use wand of any low level spell from any list with only a minute of preparation. Let that sink in for a bit. This isn’t Schroedinger’s Artificer, who happens to have the right scroll or wand prepared in advance at the right time. The Professor uses this infusion to grant access to the spells he need, when he needs them. Now here is where the real fun comes in: also at level 6, the Professor gets access to third level infusions. Go ahead and look at metamagic item off of that list. The Professor can use this to create just about any low level buff he wants and then persist it via metamagic item.

    So, this is what we can expect from the Professor’s low levels: excellent scouting and manipulation, good party buffing (including low level persistomancy) and the ability to bring up almost any low level spell on demand.

    With the early levels of hoardstealer, the Professor has gotten a few nice abilities: spells to help divine or feed into his Wand Bonding feat, a nice (if a bit niche) SLA, the ability to dowse for treasure and the ability to create extradimensional pockets. Yes, that’s right, his pockets are bigger on the inside. Note that as a small-sized construct, the Professor can actually enter these spaces himself once they are large enough, using them as hiding spaces or to create mini-rooms within the stronghold he is creating. (Such as, for example, turning a small chest into a swimming pool.) His darkvision is also a great little bonus, letting him use pockets of natural darkness (which he can create using his weapon familiar) offensively: he can see in them just fine, but creatures with darkvision can’t see him in return, thanks to Darkstalker.

    That stronghold finally becomes ready at level 9, when he takes the Landlord feat. Well, what did you think he was raiding dragon hoards for? And how else did you expect him to haul all of that treasure away? Landlord both provides significant funds toward the building of a stronghold, and also matches additional funds that the Professor spends to further augment the space. While strongholds are usually so expensive (and, you know, stationary) that this isn’t a big deal, the Professor is specifically using the rules on p47 of the Stronghold Builder’s Guide for mobile strongholds, and creating a small stronghold the size of a single stronghold space. This actually means that many of the more expensive augmentations of strongholds become surprisingly affordable. Eventually, this will be a nigh-indestructable mini-fortress capable of moving, teleporting and plane shifting as needed, but right from the get-go it’s a great way for the party to get around.

    In the mid-levels, there are a few big abilities that come online. At level 12 the Professor picks up a raven familiar, Kitt Darkfeather. Familiars are great for everyone, especially scouts, but they’re even better for artificers, since this gives you both shared spells and a second source of actions with the ability to activate items. At level 14, hoardstealer’s skill mastery comes online, meaning (among other things) that the Professor autosucceeds on all relevant UMD checks, even the high-DC spell-storing item uses. And at level 15, Kitt gets upgraded to Kaynein: a pseudodragon. Pseudodragons are a lot of fun, and Kaynein in particular is useful here, able to serve as the navigation system for the Professor’s stronghold. Kaynein can sit atop the stronghold, remaining hidden (tiny size, a racial bonus to hide and the Professor’s skill ranks mean it’s quite good at this) and observing things with blindsense, while all the while telepathically communicating with the Professor.

    Once he finishes with hoardstealer, the Professor returns to artificer. Right off the bat he can start creating spell-storing items of third and fourth level spells. This means access to everything from planar binding (yes, the full version, thanks demonologist!) to summon giants (ordinarily a level 8 spell, thanks disciple of Thrym!), and a wealth of spells to persist. This gets even better when the Professor gets concurrent infusions, letting him get three uses of spell-storing item in one go, without using those infusion slots. Even better, it’s a valid target for Rapid Infusion, meaning he can now do this in a single round. The Professor also can now use his hoardstealer spells to give him access to at-will teleportation thanks to the Dimensional Jaunt feat (especially handy once he encases his stronghold in a cube made of walls of force).

    To summarize the Professor’s abilities:
    • Excellent stealth and scouting skills.
    • The ability to create single-use wands on demand of any spell, from any list.
    • The ability to persist spells cast from items (including the above) without requiring additional charges.
    • The ability to use his Hoardstealer spells to activate wands without consuming their charges.
    • At-will short range teleportation.
    • An intelligent walking stick that allows the Professor to manipulate items from afar, succeed on most skill checks or create pockets of darkness (which the Professor can see in thanks to his Darkvision, while remaining invisible to other foes thanks to Darkstalker).
    • A powerful mobile stronghold with strong defenses that can move quickly and eventually fly, burrow, teleport, plane shift and scry.
    • A telepathically linked pseudodragon familiar that assists him in activating items or scouting.
    • The ability to create extradimensional pocket spaces inside almost anything that allow him to cart away huge treasure hoards despite his small size and low Strength and, as he is a construct, even utilize as hiding spaces.
    • General party support thanks to artificer abilities and the mobile stronghold, which is a great way to let the party move around in style.

    Spoiler: Interlude

    The Professor stopped, held up one small hand. “Wait, don’t move.”

    “What’s wrong?”

    “Oh, nothing,” he said. “Well... almost certainly nothing. Or maybe something very little. Well... little is relative. Let’s say, in the grand scheme of things, something very small and probably inconsequential. Well, maybe not inconsequential to you or me. Alright, maybe it’s something just the teensiest bit fatal. Although, well, are there degrees of fatal? I mean that’s an interesting question. Can something be—”


    “Oh, right fatal,” he said. He lifted his walking stick, peered across the top, pointed it all around. “Hm,” he muttered. “Alright, just a moment… gotcha. Just move six, no, six and a half feet to the left. No, my left. Slowly. Perfect.” He rapped the metal head of the stick hard against the wall. Something crunched, crumbled. A whistling sound filled the air, followed by a clattering as a handful of bolts shot across the corridor and rebounded off the far wall. “See?” he said. “Hardly fatal at all. Although… when I see a big dangerous trap like that, it makes me wonder what it’s protecting.”

    The Professor’s mechanical eyes shuttered, and he rotated slowly on the spot, pivoting on his walking stick. Halfway through his quiet circle, the eyes flew open. “That way,” he said, pointing his walking stick at the ground below him.

    “What’s that way?” Astrid asked.

    “Gold.” He grinned. “A big, glittering, shiny pile of gold. Possibly a dragon, too. Can’t be sure. But definitely gold. And a big, glittering, shiny pile of gold has my name written all over it. Or, well... not yet. But give me time. And an inkpot.”

    Spoiler: Hoardstealer

    "Bad time to forget your walking stick, Professor," Astrid panted, staring at the locked door in front of them.

    "Forgot?" The Professor reached deep into his pocket, fumbled, pulled. From his small pocket first the head, then long body of his walking stick emerged. "I never forgot my walking stick. It wouldn't let me."

    "How... how did you fit that in your pocket?"

    The Professor shrugged. "It's bigger on the inside."

    Why Hoardstealer? While admittedly a lot of the inspiration from this build grew out of the “it’s bigger on the inside” concept of extradimensional spaces, the class actually provides everything the build needs to come together.

    First, regarding entry: can the Professor contribute meaningfully to the raid of a dragon hoard worth 5000gp? Let's look at the figures. Before items are taken into effect, the Professor should have a hide check of +15 at ECL 6, boosted to +19 by skill enhancement and able to bypass the dragon's blindsight thanks to Darkstalker. If this is insufficient (depending on the age of the dragon, it might be), he can use his infusions to give his armor plating the shadow and silent moves enhancements for another +5 to hide and MS. He can also hand out the relevant energy resistance to his whole party, boost weapons with bane enhancements and more. These alone should let him participate meaningfully without stealing the show. And if he has to steal the show? Well, a scroll of shivering touch is a mere trifle for him to create by ECL 6.....

    Now, onto the class features:

    Spells: On the surface, what could Hoardstealer’s strangely limited spellcasting possibly offer a spell storing item-focused artificer? Quite a lot, it turns out. As flexible as artificer infusions are, they come with a lot of limitations. Hoardstealer has arcane Int-based casting from a really solid list, and while all of its spells could be duplicated by spell storing item, they still provide excellent utility and let the Professor focus his spell storing item shenanigans on buffing and utility. In particular, the divination focused spells are key for the Professor: arcane eye, arcane sight, clairaudience/clairvoyance, detect magic and locate object are all essential spells that allow the Professor to monitor things from within his stronghold or locate key items as he adventures.

    Most important of all, however, is that spellcasting allows him to qualify for several abilities that would otherwise be out of reach for the artificer. Most significant among these are Obtain Familiar and Improved Familiar, as this gives him access to a familiar, which not only provides additional actions and can activate magical items (invaluable for an artificer), but which eventually also serves as the navigation system for his mobile fortress. He also uses these spells to qualify for Dimensional Jaunt, giving him at-will teleportation that combines well with spells that allow him to see from afar such as arcane eye and clairvoyance. Finally, he can use these spell slots by feeding them into his Wand Bonding ability, allowing him to not only avoid expending charges but also increase the caster level of said abilities.

    (Note: ASF does apply, as the Professor does have armor plating despite being a scout. The twilight enhancement is his friend.)

    Darkvision: The Professor above all else focuses on scouting and mobility, especially searching. You can’t search if you can’t see, and 90’ darkvision is rather good. The Professor also uses this abilities offensively, by suppressing light sources via no light. The Professor’s darkvision lets him function freely in such areas, while his own Darkstalker feat means that he retains concealment and the ability to hide from enemies with darkvision.

    Trap sense: Fast trap sense advancement is great for any scout. The Professor loves to seemingly blunder through trapped areas, disabling things as he goes.

    Deep pockets: Any container can now become an extradimensional storage with 100 cubic feet of space. This ability was actually the original inspiration for this build (it’s bigger on the inside!). In addition to the obvious uses, the Professor creates these extradimensional spaces in small storage containers within his stronghold, allowing him to create small rooms on a whim that, as a small-sized construct, he can enter freely.

    Treasure dowsing: With over three times the range of the rod and no easy way to block this effect (unlike similar detection spells this is not blocked by physical barriers such as a foot of stone or a lining of lead), the Professor can use this ability to pinpoint treasure hoards used to fund his stronghold. However, this does not merely find gold (which he can find with the underrated gold finder spell - with his 8 ranks in Appraise and his Int, he autmoatically succeeds on the DC 15 Appraise check the spell requires). No, unlike gold finder, treasure dowsing works on any metal or mineral, can be used from within his lead-lined stronghold, and can allow him to pinpoint, for example, the location of all steel within ten feet per Hoardstealer level, letting him pinpoint foes while remaining safely within his stronghold.

    Skill mastery: Perhaps most important after the spellcasting, skill mastery is a fantastic ability that guarantees the Professor will succeed on all of his many UMD checks from level 14 on, and also makes him significantly more reliable at trapfinding, detection and stealth.

    Spoiler: Sources

    The most relevant sources for the Professor are the Stronghold Builder's Guide and the Eberron books.

    In addition to being where you will find the Landlord feat, Stronghold Builder's Guide is also where all of the rules for stronghold construction and associated costs are detailed.

    Infusions are all found in the Eberron Campaign Setting and Magic of Eberron, as is Rapid Infusion.

    Artificer is also found in ECS, with the warforged substitution levels and weapon familiar rules located in Races of Eberron. The warforged scout itself can be found in Monster Manual 3. Wand Bonding is from City of Stormreach (it's a pain to find, because the book is laid out oddly, but it's there - check page 119!).

    Other sources are as follows:
    • SRD: Rogue class, Improved Familiar feat, crafting feats, Extend Spell feat, pseudodragon, autohypnosis skill.
    • Draconomicon: Hoardstealer class.
    • Lords of Madness: Darkstalker feat.
    • Complete Arcane: Persistent Spell, Obtain Familiar feats.
    • Complete Mage: Dimensional Jaunt feat.
    • Complete Scoundrel: Clever Improviser skill trick.
    • Book of Vile Darkness: No light spell.
    • Online spells: guidance of the avatar and gold finder.

    “This is one corner… of one country, in one continent, on one world that’s a corner of one plane that’s a corner of one multiverse that is forever growing and shrinking and creating and destroying and never remaining the same for a single millisecond. And there is so much, so much to see...”
    Last edited by Heliomance; 2018-07-04 at 09:50 AM.
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