Entry number 9:

Quote Originally Posted by Chook Min
Chook Min, Screaming Master of Silent Death

N Sparrow Hengeyokai Unarmed Swordsage 3/Aerial Avenger 10/Unarmed Swordsage 10
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Stats (with racial adjustments)
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Str 10
Dex 16 (18)
Con 14
Int 10
Wis 16 (14)
Cha 10


Build
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Level Class Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Skills Feats Class Features
1st Unarmed Swordsage 1 +0 +0 +2 +2 Concentration 4, Hide 4, Jump 4, Move Silently 4, Sense Motive 4, Tumble 4 Midnight Dodge, (B)Improved Unarmed Strike, (B)Weapon Focus (Shadow Hand) Quick to Act +1, Discipline focus (weapon focus: Shadow Hand), Unarmed Damage 1d6
2nd Swordsage 2 +1 +0 +3 +3 Concentration 5, Hide 5, Jump 5, Move Silently 5, Sense Motive 5, Tumble 5 AC Bonus
3rd Swordsage 3 +2 +1 +3 +3 Concentration 6, Hide 6, Jump 6, Move Silently 6, Sense Motive 6, Tumble 6 Mobility
4th Aerial Avenger 1 +2 +1 +5 +3 Concentration 7, Hide 7, Jump 7, Move Silently 7, Sense Motive 7, Tumble 7 (B)Flyby Attack Flyby Attack, Skilled City Dweller
5th Aerial Avenger 2 +3 +1 +6 +3 Concentration 8, Hide 8, Jump 8, Move Silently 8, Sense Motive 8, Tumble 8 Momentum +1, Power Dive
6th Aerial Avenger 3 +4 +2 +6 +4 Concentration 9, Hide 9, Jump 9, Move Silently 9, Sense Motive 9, Tumble 9 Weapon Finesse Maneuverability (good), Speed +10 feet
7th Aerial Avenger 4 +5 +2 +7 +4 Concentration 10, Hide 10, Jump 10, Move Silently 10, Sense Motive 10, Tumble 10 Death from above +1, range increase
8th Aerial Avenger 5 +5 +2 +7 +4 Concentration 11, Hide 11, Jump 11, Move Silently 11, Sense Motive 11, Tumble 11 Momentum +2
9th Aerial Avenger 6 +6/+1 +3 +8 +5 Concentration 12, Hide 12, Jump 12, Move Silently 12, Sense Motive 12, Tumble 12 Shadow Blade Swoop
10th Aerial Avenger 7 +7/+2 +3 +8 +5 Concentration 13, Hide 13, Jump 13, Move Silently 13, Sense Motive 13, Tumble 13 Maneuverability (perfect), speed +20 feet
11th Aerial Avenger 8 +8/+3 +3 +9 +5 Concentration 14, Hide 14, Jump 14, Move Silently 14, Sense Motive 14, Tumble 14 Momentum +3
12th Aerial Avenger 9 +8/+3 +4 +9 +6 Concentration 15, Hide 15, Jump 15, Move Silently 15, Sense Motive 15, Tumble 15 Shape Soulmeld (Gloves of the Poisoned Soul) Death from above +2
13th Aerial Avenger 10 +9/+4 +4 +10 +6 Concentration 16, Hide 16, Jump 16, Move Silently 16, Sense Motive 16, Tumble 16 Terrifying shriek
14th Swordsage 4 +10/+5 +4 +11 +7 Concentration 17, Hide 17, Jump 17, Move Silently 17, Sense Motive 17, Tumble 17 Discipline Focus (Insightful Strikes: Desert Wind), Unarmed Damage 1d8
15th Swordsage 5 +10/+5 +4 +11 +7 Concentration 18, Hide 18, Jump 18, Move Silently 18, Sense Motive 18, Tumble 18 Adaptive Style Quick to act +2
16th Swordsage 6 +11/+6/+1 +5 +12 +8 Concentation 19, Hide 19, Jump 19, Move Silently 19, Sense Motive 19, Tumble 19
17th Swordsage 7 +12/+7/+2 +5 +12 +8 Concentration 20, Hide 20, Jump 20, Move Silently 20, Sense Motive 20, Tumble 20 Sense Magic
18th Swordsage 8 +13/+8/+3 +5 +13 +9 Concentration 21, Hide 21, Jump 21, Move Silently 21, Sense Motive 21, Tumble 21 Martial Study (Greater Insightful Strike) Discipline focus (defensive stance: Shadow Hand), Unarmed Damage 1d10
19th Swordsage 9 +13/+8/+3 +6 +13 +9 Concentration 22, Hide 22, Jump 22, Move Silently 22, Sense Motive 22, Tumble 22 Evasion
20th Swordsage 10 +14/+9/+4 +6 +14 +10 Concentration 23, Hide 23, Jump 23, Move Silently 23, Sense Motive 23, Tumble 23 Quick to act +3
Maneuvers
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1st: Burning Blade, Distracting Ember, Moment of Perfect Mind, Sapphire Nightmare Blade Blade, Shadow Blade Technique, Sudden Leap, Wolf Fang Strike
2nd: Burning Brand, Action Before Thought
3rd: Mind Over Body, Shadow Garrote
4th: Ruby Nightmare Blade (at 14),
5th: Searing Charge (at 16)
6th: Moment of Alacrity, Stalker in the Night, Greater Insightful Strike
7th: Shadow Blink, Salamander Charge (at 18)
8th: One with Shadow, Diamond Nightmare Blade (at 20)
Stances Known: Child of Shadow, Flameís Blessing, Hearing the Air, Assassinís Stance


Backstory
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There are many schools of martial arts, and quite a number are named after animals. Many people have of course heard of crane school, but Iím a student of the rare and deadly sparrow school. My people invented it generations ago, but we have not found other creatures worthy of learning our techniques. What? Of course itís a real school! Iím practically a master of it! Iíve killed bigger guys than you with one hand tied behind my back before Iíve even had breakfast. Hand, wing, whatís the difference? The point is Iím a force to be reckoned with, and if you donít wise up youíll figure that out yourself. No Iím not cute! Iím terrifying! Fear me! Stop laughing!


Level 5
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Welcome to the insanity. We begin with Hengeyokai, specifically the Sparrow variety. The bonus to Dex only applies when in hybrid form, but hybrid should be your default form so you can keep qualifying for the SI. When you assume sparrow form your physical ability scores change and you become Fine. You have a laughable 1ft land speed, so fly when youíre a sparrow. Your flight maneuverability is average as given by the errata. You are limited in how many times per day you can change forms, but you have no limits in how long you can stay in a form. As explained in the dragon magazine update, Hengeyokai are Humanoid (shapechanger) with LA of +0. Midnight dodge works the same as dodge, but gives us an essentia weíll be using later. You might wonder why not Desert Wind Dodge. The reason is that due to feats going before class features, I cannot take it at level one. Seems silly, but thatís RAW. Feel free to take it instead if your DM agrees itís silly. The list of Shadow Hand weapons includes unarmed strike, which is your default means of attack, so enjoy the +1.

Swordsage will help us enter the SI, and also provide some helpful combat maneuvers early on. Sudden Leap is a tactical teleport that remains useful due to the SI giving us jump of all skills. Flameís Blessing rewards us for our tumble investment as increasing protection from fire. Child of Shadow gives us concealment when you move 10 feet, which you will be doing a lot with the highly mobile combination of SI and swordsage. The unarmed variant provides us with IUS, which will especially come in use when you are in sparrow form. It has no natural attacks, so unarmed strike will allow you to still attack with sweet bird kung fu. It does still deal damage, so you can use it as a vehicle for your strikes. The +8 to attack from being fine goes a long way at this point, as does your 24 AC (26 with Wis). Remember that being fine gives you an unfair +16 to Hide.

The SI allows us to enter very early, so weíre going to take full advantage. It adds on ranged martial weapons, so you can use bows when flying around as you wish. Its skill list may not make much sense, but it happens to line up perfectly with swordsage once we use the skilled city dweller ACF. We can use our continued tumble ranks to protect ourselves when using flyby attack, and momentum helps us with damage output. Power remains a helpful boost as a number of our maneuvers are charges.


Level 10
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Deeper in the SI things are really coming together. Your maneuverability has now gone up to perfect, which means you can hover, reverse instantly, and move in all 3 directions with essentially no restrictions. It should be assumed from this point on that your feet are never touching the ground except to sleep. Your fly speed is now 30 feet in hybrid, 60 in sparrow. Death from above combined with your high bonus to hit means itís nearly impossible for you to miss opponents. The range increase is helpful for outshooting opponents in a bowfight. Given that they will increase the range of spells, it would also follow that it would increase the range of ranged maneuvers, more specifically Shadow Garrote when you pick it up.

Weapon Finesse and Shadow Blade mean you can bring your ferocious sparrow dexterity to bear when using your sweet bird kung fu. Child of Shadow is a reliable stance to be in for combat, and once again unarmed strikes are Shadow Hand weapons, so you should be getting Dex to damage as a default. Swoop presents a solution to a dilemma we have when fighting in sparrow form. We want to beat everyone up with our sweet bird kung fu, but we have to move into someoneís square to attack them normally. Flyby attack helped somewhat, but now we can attack multiple targets and donít provoke any AoOs for doing so. It is becoming increasingly attractive to stay in sparrow form for combat. It flies faster, and your mobile fighting style makes up for your lack of reach. You can use burning brand to gain reach for attacking adjacent squares, or for extending further in hybrid form.


Level 15
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Finish up the SI, and then we can return to swordsage to pump up our maneuvers. Terrifying shriek is free, so thereís no reason not to do it all the time, and a successful save does not give protection from further shrieks. Thereís also the very funny mental image that you can hide, and then panic your enemies when swooping unseen, then they all run in terror from something, though they donít know what. Itís common for martial artists to intimidate their foes with a kiai shout or Bruce Lee-style scream, but it becomes utterly hilarious when itís the twittering of birdsong that strikes fear in the hearts of enemies. Note that this isnít considered mind affecting, so no one is safe.

Swordsage brings in a number of new maneuvers to threaten your enemies with. Strikethroughs indicate the maneuver is traded away, and parenthetical about level indicates a maneuver was gained by trading. Your saves can all be replaced with your maxed concentration skill. Shadow Garrote gives you options at range even when a sparrow, and Ruby Nightmare Blade weaponizes your concentration score. Itís a very lucky thing the SI has Concentration. Hearing the Air gives us a stance to be in when scouting around, to make sure that you get the drop on enemies and not the other way around.

Adaptive Style helps us by fixing swordsageís problem of poor renewal of maneuvers. Shape soulmeld gives us another option for fighting. Gloves of the poisoned soul allows you to make a touch attack to deal wisdom damage. You can invest your essentia for more damage, and when you slap on momentum, you have the ability to hit enemies for 5 Wisdom, and then they take another 5 a minute later. Weíre able to do this because momentum just applies to damage, not to damage rolls. I believe you can use it to deliver strikes, but even if you canít itís another tool in your box. In case anyone was wondering ďhey can you shape something to your hand chakra if you donít have hands as a sparrow?Ē the answer is ďwow someone is really harshing on my sweet bird kung fu, but also yesĒ MoI page 169 tells us that wings will count as hands, so you function like humanoids.


Level 20
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Weíll wrap things up with a final dose of swordsage, and more maneuvers that go with it. Use moment of alacrity to gain an extra turn by gaming the initiative system. Stalker in the Night lets you move and attack while still being hidden. Greater Insightful strike and Diamond Nightmare Blade give you big damage strikes. If you can use Diamond Nightmare Blade to strike with Gloves of the Poisoned soul, you could knock someone out cold with the Wis damage. Shadow blink is fast teleportation, and One with Shadow can help you phase through walls as an incorporeal creature. Salamander Charge lets you charge so fast that you leave a trail of fire behind you to damage your enemies, and yes itís a charge, so power dive applies.
Assassinís stance provides another alternative for dealing damage and making use of all your sneaking, and lets us keep shadow bladeís benefits. You can learn this before Hearing the Air if you prefer. Remember that at this point Flameís blessing renders you immune to fire.


Sources
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Oriental Adventures, Oriental adventures update: Hengeyokai
Tome of Battle: Swordsage, Shadow Blade, Adaptive Style, Martial Study
Magic of Incarnum: Midnight Dodge, Shape Soulmeld, gloves of the poisoned soul
Skilled City Dweller: Cityscape Web Enhancement
srd: Improved Unarmed Strike, Weapon Focus, Weapon Finesse