Entry number 8!

Quote Originally Posted by Old Johnny Blackspine

Old Johnny Blackspine
LE>CE Skarn Cobra Strike Monk 5/Life Eater 5/Scaled Horror 2/Jaunter3/Life Eater 10

Stats (after racial mods)
Str 16 (18) (Increase here at 16)
Dex 15 (13) (Increases here at other levels)
Con 14
Int 12
Wis 12
Cha 8

Donít walk too close to the waterís brink
Donít stare too long at the briny drink
Or you might find that soon you sink
And meet old Johnny Blackspine

Heíll drag you down to the depths below
Heíll eat you up and heíll do it slow
And where you went no one will know
Except old Johnny Blackspine

If daddyís been too long away
But wasnít at the port today
He might have had a chance to play
With dear old Johnny Blackspine

If he smells blood then heíll come quick
His spines will rattle and theyíll click
He poisons with the smallest stick
He's mean, old Johnny Blackspine

-Cautionary rhyme from a seaport town, date unknown


Level Class Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Skills Feats Class Features
1st Skarn Cobra Strike Monk 1 +0 +2 +2 +2 Bluff 4, Hide 4, Intimidate 4, Knowledge (Religion) 4, Move Silently 4 Apprentice (Criminal), (B)Dodge +2 to Escape Artist, Dodge, Flurry of Blows, Spine Strike 1d6
2nd Cobra Strike Monk 2 +1 +3 +3 +3 Bluff 5, Escape Artist 1, Hide 5, Knowledge (Religion) 5, Move Silently 5 (B)Mobility Mobility, Invisible Fist
3rd Monk 3 +2 +3 +3 +3 Escape Artist 3, Hide 6, Knowledge (Religion) 6, Move Silently 6 Water Heritage Prayerful Meditation, Swim Speed +10ft
4th Monk 4 +3 +4 +4 +4 Escape Artist 5, Hide 7, Knowledge (Religion) 7, Move Silently 7 Ki Strike (Magic), Water Step 20 ft, Spine Strike 1d8
5th Skarn Monk 5 +3 +4 +4 +4 Escape Artist 6, Intimidate 7, Knowledge (Religion) 8 Purity of Body, Defensive Insight
6th Life Eater 1 +3 +6 +6 +6 Escape Artist 8, Hide 9, Intimidate 8, Move Silently 9 Darkstalker Deathwatch, Poison Use
7th Life Eater 2 +4 +7 +7 +7 Escape Attack, Craft (Poisonmaking) 0.5(1), Hide 10, Knowledge (the Planes) 1 (2), Move Silently 10 Sneak Attack +1d6, Death Knell
8th Life Eater 3 +5 +7 +7 +7 Craft (Poisonmaking)1(1), Hide 11, Knowledge (the Planes) 3(4), Move Silently 11 Chill Touch
9th Life Eater 4 +6/+1 +8 +8 +8 Craft (Poisonmaking) 2.5(3), Hide 12, Knowledge (the Planes) 4(2), Move Silently 12 Spring Attack Hide In Plain Sight
10th Life Eater 5 +6/+1 +8 +8 +8 Craft (Poisonmaking) 5(5), Hide 13, Move Silently 13 Sneak Attack +2d6, Wounding Sneak Attack
11th Scaled Horror 1 +6/+1 +10 +8 +8 Hide 14, Move Silently 14, Survival 3 Improved Grab, Keen Scent
12th Scaled Horror 2 +7/+2 +11 +8 +8 Hide 15, Move Silently 15, Survival 6 Track Freedom of Movement
13th Jaunter 1 +7/+2 +11 +10 +8 Hide 16, Move Silently 16, Tumble 3 Travel Power, Benign Transposition
14th Jaunter 2 +8/+3 +12 +11 +9 Hide 17, Move Silently 17, Tumble 6 Baleful Transposition, Fast Movement
15th Jaunter 3 +9/+4 +12 +11 +9 Hide 18, Move Silently 18, Tumble 9 Multigrab Dimension Door, Teleport
16th Life Eater 6 +10/+5 +13 +12 +10 Craft (Poisonmaking) 7.5(5), Hide 19, Move Silently 19 Fatiguing Touch
17th Life Eater 7 +11/+6/+1 +13 +12 +10 Craft (Poisonmaking) 10(5), Hide 20, Move Silently 20 Enervation
18th Life Eater 8 +12/+7/+2 +14 +13 +11 Craft (Poisonmaking) 12.5(5), Hide 21, Move Silently 21 Greater Multigrab Sneak Attack +3d6, Draining Sneak Attack
19th Life Eater 9 +12/+7/+2 +14 +13 +11 Craft (Poisonmaking) 15(5), Hide 22, Move Silently 22 Destruction
20th Life Eater 10 +13/+8/+3 +15 +14 +12 Craft (Poisonmaking) 17.5(5), Hide 23, Move Silently 23 Feed

Spells per Day/Spells Known
Level 0lvl 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
11th 0* - - - - - - - -
12th-20th 1 - - - - - - - -

Level 5
Letís start off with some monk. Skarn is a reptilian race for scaled horror, and has a helpful racial substitution levels that provide Intimidate to help qualify for the SI. Monk has many ACFs for us to customize with. Spine strike is a little short on text, so itís not entirely clear if you can use your spines in the same round that youíre using spine strike in place of your unarmed strike, but Iím assuming not. Invisible fist is invaluable for a sneaky monk. As per Stormwrack, we can use the monk boost to increase our swim speed. Prayerful meditation gives us a bonus against all spells and effects from Good creatures, a far sight better than enchantment alone. Cobra Strike Monk grants us bonus feats to help qualify for Jaunter later.

Water heritage grants us a swim speed which also grants the bonus on swim checks for Scaled Horror. Apprentice (Criminal) gives us bluff for the 5 levels weíll need it. Once we hit level 5 we can change alignment from LE to CE. It means we canít take anymore monk, but we donít lose anything. It was time for PrCs anyway. Our ducks all in a row mean we can progress on to the SI.

Level 10
Iím tickled that right as we enter the secret ingredient, our saves appropriately become 6/6/6. Sneak attack gives us a payoff for that invisibility and our hide/ms which weíll continue investing in. HiPS will work fine in the water, wherever there are light sources, there are shadows, and youíll find shadows from the enemies you face. The SI unhelpfully doesnít give us craft, but we still have the cap from monk so we can make some poison to apply with poison use. Use injury poisons and smear them on your spines for combat readiness. Chill touch makes for a good converter of your sneak attack dice to the attractive negative energy. Escape attack will pay off in a few levels when everything coalesces. Wounding sneak attack makes for a good break point to nab the last few important bits.
Darkstalker is a must for anyone with stealth. Spring attack is the last prerequisite for Jaunter, which weíll be entering shortly.

Level 15
Scaled Horror is a fun little class that is extraordinarily frontloaded. To start it will be giving us ranger spells, which fill out some utility as well as augment our natural abilities. Deep Breath will help you out when deep underwater, and embrace the wild can give you some extra sense in a pinch. The next important feature is improved grab. Hitting someone with your spines is using your natural weapons as an unarmed strike of sorts, but scaled horror has you covered either way. Hereís where flurry of blows becomes more useful, as each blow allows you a grapple attempt. You might want to skip the first grapple attempt or two to maximize your attacks (and thus your sneak attack and wounding) and thatís certainly your prerogative. Keen Scent is the next topic of interest. While underwater you work out to 180 feet, putting most regular scent to shame. The second part is the really fun one. You detect blood in the water at a range of up to 1 mile, and wounding attack means your victims are bleeding. Scent rules tell us that you can recognize familiar scents like familiar images, so you can distinguish your prey from other sources, and find them if youíre anywhere in the area. Track is a natural choice to hone this ability further for pursuit, so you can break off combat whenever you like safe in the knowledge you can find them again. Freedom of Movement in the water has the primary benefit of removing all of the penalties youíd normally face fighting in the water, allowing you to use slashing or bludgeoning weapons at full damage. It also means that you can effortlessly escape the grapples you start. This lets you fire off escape attack, for another hit that theyíre flatfooted against. Thus more sneak attack and more wounding.

Jaunter has a wonky chart that doesnít line up with normal advancement for poor fort and will saves. Iíve transposed it faithfully, but your DM might say use normal saves, which delays the increase from level 2 to level 3. End number is the same. Jaunter gives us the means to pursue with real speed. The speed boost means better maneuverability on the battlefield (remember your Spring Attack), and Benign and Baleful transposition make for good tactical movement. At level 3 are the real treats, dimension door for unfettered tactical teleportation, and teleport for crossing large distances. Teleport means that you can instantly get to anything whose blood you smell in the water. You can of course also use it to bring your friends to places you go.

Multigrab allows us to attempt a strategy that before would not have been viable. Improved grab from Scaled Horror allows you to conduct a grapple normally or to hold your target with your spines, in which case you do not count as being grappled. This ordinarily imposes a ruinous -20 to your grapple checks, but with Multigrab itís lessened to a more reasonable penalty. Not counting as being grappled means you can do normal things like cast spells, use SLAs, and threaten spaces. It also means, more importantly, that you can invoke an important rule for grappling. Creatures in a grapple lose their dexterity bonus against creatures other than the one theyíre grappling. You donít count as being grappled by your target here, so you can sneak attack them with ease, piling on the wounding.

Level 20
Now that weíre finished with our other PrCs, letís return our attention to the SI. Fatiguing touch and enervation are good for softening up foes for easier grappling, especially once you get draining sneak attack. Nothing goes with negative levels like more negative levels. Remember that casters lose spell slots when you smack them with this, and you could easily end up removing an opponentís ability to cast the healing spells to counteract your wounding. When you do kill a target, donít be afraid to teleport away with the body so you can use feed in peace, and return to your other bloodied foes at your convenience.
Greater Multigrab completely eliminates the penalty for holding an opponent with your spines, so youíre all the more likely to be able to hold them as long as you want while you get in your sneak attacks. Break it off with an escape attack, hit a different target, teleport or dimension door away leaving them bleeding, return when you like hidden under cover of invisible fist to strike again.

Seasoning to taste
There is one build choice that elected not to include because I was uneasy with its legality. Planar Monk is a planar substitution level available at level 5 for monk. It trades purity of body for resistance 5 to the energy of your choice. More importantly, it grants Knowledge (the Planes) as a class skill. This could save a few skill ranks for the build, which would be appreciated, and lets Water Heritage pull double duty in qualifying for the sub level as well. However, substitution levels, unlike ACFs, have charts and skills. As such, it does not strike me as legal to take 2 substitution levels at once, so I prioritized Skarn monk. Of course, Iíve not seen any rules one way or the other, and your DM may be more permissive. In such a case itís a nice addition that meshes well with Jaunter, and I certainly like energy resistance more than immunity to disease.

Skarn, Skarn Monk: Magic of Incarnum
Scaled Horror, Multigrab, Greater Multigrab: Savage Species
Jaunter: Expedition to the Demonweb Pits
Escape Attack: Complete Scoundrel
Apprentice: DMGII
Walter Walk ACF, increased swim speed: Stormwrack
Darkstalker: Lords of Madness
Invisible Fist: Exemplars of Evil
Prayerful Meditation: Complete Champion
Water Heritage, Planar Monk: Planar Handbook
Monk, Cobra Strike Monk, Dodge, Mobility, Spring Attack, Track: srd