5. Sibuna

Spoiler: Build

Lawful Evil Marrutect Anima Mage 10/Binder 3/Wizard 1/Tainted Sorcerer 1
Spoiler: Attributes

Elite Array: Str 8, Dex 13, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 15, Taint 0

  • CR 5-20: 8

  • CR 5-9: 15
  • CR 10-20: 16

  • CR 5: 14
  • CR 6: 14(3)
  • CR 7-20: 14

  • CR 5-20: 20

  • CR 5: 21
  • CR 6-13: 22
  • CR 14-17: 23
  • CR 18-20: 24

Wisdom, Taint:
CR Wisdom Taint
5 20 0
6 20(9) 11
7 20(9) 22
8 20(8) 24
9 20(7) 25
10 20(7) 26
11 20(6) 27
12 20(6) 28
13 20(5) 29
14 20(5) 30
15 20(4) 31
16 20(4) 32
17 20(3) 33
18 20(3) 34
19 20(2) 35
20 20(2) 36

Spoiler: Build Table

CR Advancement Abilities New Feat(s) Base Attack Base Fortitude Base Reflex Base Will
5 Marrutect Howl of Healing, Innate Spellcasting, Marruspawn Traits, Spell Resistance 16 Keen Intellect, Empower Spell, Knowledge Devotion +5 +1 +4 +4
6 Binder 1 Soul Binding +5 +3 +4 +5
7 Tainted Sorcerer 1 Blood Component, Tainted Metamagic, Tainted Spellcasting, Taint Suppression Improved Binding +6/+1 +4 +5 +5
8 Anima Mage 1 Improved Binding +7/+2 +4 +5 +5
9 Anima Mage 2 Exploit Vestige +7/+2 +4 +5 +5
10 Anima Mage 3 Vestigial Awareness Quicken Spell +8/+3 +5 +6 +6
11 Anima Mage 4 +8/+3 +5 +6 +7
12 Anima Mage 5 Vestige Metamagic 1/day +9/+4 +5 +6 +7
13 Anima Mage 6 Extend Supernatural Ability (Awe of Dantalion) +9 +6 +6 +8
14 Anima Mage 7 Vestige Metamagic 2/day +10/+5 +6 +7 +8
15 Anima Mage 8 +10/+5 +6 +7 +9
16 Anima Mage 9 Vestige Metamagic 3/day Malign Spell Focus +11/+6/+1 +6 +7 +9
17 Anima Mage 10 Vestige Casting +11/+6/+1 +7 +8 +10
18 Wizard 1 Summon Familiar Scribe Scroll +12/+7/+2 +7 +8 +10
19 Binder 2 Pact Augmentation, Suppress Sign Spell Focus (Necromancy) +12/+7/+2 +8 +8 +11
20 Binder 3 +13/+8/+3 +8 +9 +11

Spoiler: Skill Ranks

CR Bluff Concentration Diplomacy Intimidate Listen Knowledge (arcana) Knowledge (local) Knowledge (plans) Knowledge (religion) Spot
5 8 8 5 2 4 8 8 8 3 2
6 9 9 5 3 5 9 9 8 4 2
7 10 10 5 4 5 9 10 9 6 2
8 11 11 5 4 6 9 11 10 8 2
9 12 12 5 4 8 10 12 10 9 2
10 13 13 5 4 9 10 13 12 10 2
11 14 14 5 4 10 11 14 13 11 2
12 15 15 6 4 11 11 15 14 12 2
13 16 16 6 4 12 12 16 15 13 2
14 17 17 6 5 13 12 17 16 14 2
15 18 18 6 5 14 13 18 17 15 2
16 19 19 6 6 15 13 19 18 16 2
17 20 20 6 6 16 14 20 19 17 2
18 21 21 6 7 17 14 21 20 18 2
19 22 22 6 7 18 15 22 21 19 2
20 23 23 6 8 19 15 23 22 20 2

Spoiler: Spell Slots

CR 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
5 4 5 3 2
6 4 5 3 2
7 4 5 5 3
8 4 6 5 4 2
9 4 6 5 5 3
10 4 6 6 5 4 2
11 4 6 6 5 5 3
12 4 7 6 6 5 4 2
13 4 7 6 6 5 5 3
14 4 7 7 6 6 5 4 2
15 4 7 7 6 6 5 5 3
16 4 7 7 7 6 6 5 4 2
17 4 7 7 7 6 6 5 5 3
18 4 7 7 7 7 6 6 5 4 2
19 4 7 7 7 7 6 6 5 4 2
20 4 8 7 7 7 7 6 5 4 3

Spoiler: Overview

Sibuna was a marrutect like any other, leading his enclave of marruspawn deep in the desert. Adventurers came by and destroyed the enclave, so he ran off to search for new servants. He encountered a band of traveling scholars, and joined them in hopes of swaying them to its service. They turned out to be devoted servants of Bane, but allowed Sibuna to study at their monastery in exchange for Sibuna sharing the secrets of the Marru.

During his research, Sibuna learned how to conjure and channel several spirits, most importantly the many-headed canine Naberius. Sibuna tries to subdue some of these spirits, becoming tainted as some of them create hallows within his body and soul. Despite the taint (or perhaps through it), Sibuna harnessed a wide variety of potent magicks, including a sort of pseudo-lichdom ritual.

He eventually comes up with a plan to take over the Church of Cyric, a target which Bane’s followers encouraged him to pursue. Using the deceptive powers granted by Naberius, Sibuna pretended to be a talented Bane cultist named Sardoric. Sardoric began attracting a horde of followers through impressive displays of power, strategic murder of rival priests, and sheer chutzpah. It’s possible that Cyric allowed Sibuna’s rise because he felt honored by someone undergoing such elaborate deception to become high priest of the Prince of Lies.

Over time, though, Sibuna’s identity withered. On one hand, his near-constant pretense at being a priest of Cyric prevented him from expressing his true self; on the other, the deals he made with Naberius and similar spirits wore away at his private life and self-conception. After years sandwiched between Sardoric and Naberius, Sibuna has withered away to almost nothing—a mask behind a mask, a vessel through which Naberius enacts its enigmatic plots.

Sardoric appears to be a human, tall and thin, with long hair, a short beard, and just a touch of elven blood in his delicate features. If his disguise is penetrated or neutralized (e.g. through an antimagic field or true seeing effect), he appears as a person concealing his true features behind a hyena-like mask and body-concealing clothes (including gloves). If those are removed, he appears as a marruspawn skeleton (distinct from the skeleton of a gnoll or other canine humanoid, to the trained eye, by the silvery tinge to his bones and odd anatomical details).
And if he enters an area tainted by the sorts of sinister, primal forces which Naberius subsists on, the last vestiges of Sibuna are submerged in the truth of his (un)life. In these conditions, he looks like a collection of bones from several different skeletons assembled into a roughly humanoid shape, topped by three skulls—humanoid, canine, and serpentine.

Spoiler: Sardoric/Sibuna/Naberius In A Campaign

Sardoric, Sibuna, Naberius, or whatever you want to call this stack of disguises is a fairly simple character to integrate into a campaign. He’s the leader of an evil cult; the cult does things; destroy the cult. Integrating him effectively is another matter entirely! If he’s just a creepy masked cult leader who turns into a pile of bones when defeated, he’s just a weird but stereotypical boss.

Three things need to be introduced for S/S/N to make proper sense: The cult of Cyric, the church of Bane, and the existence of beings like Naberius. That last point is the simplest; mention the Tome of Magic is available as a sourcebook in hopes that someone wants to play a binder, and add some low-level binders to the foes your players face. Perhaps their first big quest involves a binder who tried to bind too strong of a vestige and wound up under its control. Add in the odd arcane manuscript about vestiges (especially the mysterious Naberius) and some binder minions to bigger bads, and the players should have vestiges in the back of their heads when they think about the game. (Hopefully not literally.)

The cult of Cyric and the church of Bane are similar in some ways, being religions devoted to evil gods. The big difference is that Bane’s church practices a dictatorial, hierarchical form of evil, while Cyric prefers a more decentralized, self-directed form. (Mussolini vs. Ayn Rand, I guess.) More concretely:

Cyric is just a god of lies, basically Loki without any redeeming qualities. Descriptions of his worshipers are vague and confusing; sometimes they’re willing to give their lives for the cause, sometimes their loyalty is tenuous in the face of personal danger. The one consistent theme is that the worshipers were all evil people before they found a church that let them justify that cruelty.
Cyric’s individual cult cells are lead by the most powerful priest in the area, and don’t coordinate much. Their motivations include spreading evil, destroying rivals (including both do-gooders and other churches to Cyric), and possibly taking over the world; however, the lack of coordination between different cells (c.f. “they destroy rival Cyric cultists”) makes this last goal unlikely. Each local priest probably has some plots they’re trying to achieve, as do their acolytes.
That said, those individual cells are pretty good at recruitment. Doubtless part of the appeal is the cult’s hands-off nature; Cyric accepts every thief, murderer, and politician who isn’t serving another evil god and lets them do more or less as they please. The cult of Cyric is an institution with its own goals, but at the lower levels it’s a networking opportunity for the world’s dark riff-raff.

The cult of Cyric could theoretically muster a great deal of strength, but in practice is terrible at mustering. An individual cell works well as an evil organization that the party dismantles over the course of a few adventures, but the church as a whole isn’t unified enough (by default) to work that way.
If Sibuna is your campaign’s Big Bad, add a cult cell to your party’s hometown, with some members of the town’s noble and mercantile elite in the cult. Have them be the antagonists of a few adventures, with other adventures in between. This lets the players get used to the cult and observe as Sardoric’s influence changes it over time.

Bane is a tyrannical god of ambition and control. His worshipers include dictators, conquerors, and the cruel sheep who gleefully follow such shepherds. His church is a singular, unified organization, almost more like an army or a small nation than a typical religion. It even has its own knightly order, and a fair number of wizards as well.
The church of Bane seems to increase its numbers by indoctrinating the children of existing members and forging alliances with other organizations rather than recruiting outsiders. It’s an insular organization, with the will and direction to accomplish its goals. Those goals are, of course, to rule the world and drive out the other gods.

The church of Bane doesn’t work as a small-scale antagonist, because it isn’t a small-scale threat. Defeating one warpriest trying to forcibly convert a village is as meaningful as cutting off one of a hydra’s heads. That said, there’s nothing wrong with a relatively inconsequential adventure scattered in. Perhaps the church of Bane is sending agents to manipulate the PCs’ hometown one way or another.
You might also consider introducing the church of Bane through an indirectly-connected route. Perhaps the PCs protect refugees from an area which the church has been trying to subjugate, or encounter a rogue warlord who was cast out of the church of Bane for being insufficiently loyal.

This just leaves the plans of the villain himself. But what those plans are depends on who’s driving. Is Sardoric/Sibuna/Naberius just a pawn in Bane’s plans, has he completely lost himself to Naberius, or is Sibuna still in control?
Sibuna’s plans are simple; he wants control. He will focus on consolidating the cult of Cyric under his personal command, focusing on the long-term stability of his organization. His operations will be mostly focused internally, but he will also direct some external operations, particularly those which gather resources he can use (from gold to recruits to magic).
Bane wants to neutralize the threat posed by the cult of Cyric, and ideally control whatever’s left. Likely, he will send infiltrators into the cult to support Sardoric from within. They will likely end up as his most trusted lieutenants. Bane may intentionally spark conflict between Sardoric and other leaders within the cult to weaken it (and make Sibuna less of a threat later on).
Naberius doesn’t care about the cult one way or the other. Instead, he’s interested in gaining a more permanent presence in the material world. Sardoric/Sibuna works for now, but Naberius’s grasp on him is too fragile for his tastes. He instead intends to use the resources of Cyric’s cult and Sibuna’s own magic to create an appropriate vessel for him to inhabit. He starts by just encouraging Sibuna to hoard such resources and keep his true identity hidden from the world, making it easier for him to wear away at Sibuna’s self.
All three have some influence over the situation, and the early stages of all three plots are aligned. Differences only start to crop up at the end of their plots; Bane would plunge the cult into a bloody civil war, Sibuna would quietly execute his remaining political opponents within the cult, and Naberius would sabotage preparations for a lichdom ritual (resulting in Naberius being permanently bound to the “phylactery” and Sibuna being little more than a zombie).

The players would be drawn into this tangle of plots by investigating more mundane activities of the cult of Cyric. Perhaps they discover some infiltrators from the church of Bane while in there. Perhaps they find notes about this new high priest and his boldly naked ambitions. Perhaps they even encounter a priest of Cyric who wants to ally with the PCs against Sardoric!

Once the players are aware of this Sardoric guy and consider him a threat worth fighting, start dropping hints about his true nature. Congregants mention how reclusive he is. Priests correspond about the mysterious people he collaborates with. If you have a player who’s familiar enough with the cleric spell list and a character who knows enough about magic, perhaps run a quick skirmish with Sardoric where he conspicuously doesn’t use a single cleric spell. (The villain should just want to leave, to avoid giving the impression that he’s a pushover while also not seriously endangering any PCs.)

Finally, have the players uncover information clarifying the plots that Sibuna sits in the middle of. Sardoric consolidates power, one of Bane’s agents confesses their plans to sow discord among the cult of Cyric, a lost/stolen private journal makes it clear that Sibuna is not fully in control of his own mind behind his mask. The players realize the threat posed by having so much dark power concentrated at the fingertips of one individual and seek to face it.

This could be as simple as a big brawl; figure out where the Big Bad is, slaughter his minions, and fight him. But if the players deem Sardoric/Sibuna/Naberius and his minions to be too powerful a threat to fight directly, they could turn the various actors against each other. If Sibuna found out about Bane trying to undermine the cult he planned to control, he and the church of Bane would start a violent conflict that weakened both. If presented with proof that Nabeius was exerting more and more influence over his body, he would need to cut himself off from a critical source of power.

Spoiler: Sardoric/Sibuna/Naberius In Combat

I should probably stop calling this miserable little pile of secrets by all three names… But enough talk! Have at you!

At any level, remember Knowledge Devotion. It doesn’t require an action or anything—it happens automatically at the start of combat. Most PCs, being humanoids, will use Knowledge (local).

The sweet spot for this villain starts around CR 14 (or 15), when he can bind a second vestige (instead of just Naberius). I recommend Dantalion—reading thoughts helps with any deceptions that the villain tries to pull off, the +8 untyped bonus to Knowledge checks helps boost Knowledge Devotion, and Awe of Dantalion gives the villain a round of breathing room to heal, buff, monologue, escape, or whatever.
(At CR 15, the feat Extend Supernatural Ability gives two rounds of impunity.)

Alternatively, he can use Vestige Metamagic to temporarily kick Dantalion out of his body and get a free Quicken for his troubles, though this isn’t the only way he can quicken spells. He can also use Tainted Spellcasting to quicken spells for Constitution damage, albeit only ones that are at least four levels lower than the highest-level spell he can cast (3rd-level at CR 15). And, of course, he can just prepare quickened spells in higher-level slots like a loser.

But what spells to use? A high-level wizard can be anything from a divine terror with foreknowledge of their enemies’ actions and enough generalized spells to cover surprises, to a flash-in-the-pan glass cannon. Well, assuming you pick the right/wrong spells, and I’m not enough of a power-gamer to pick the right ones. But I can make some recommendations.

If the villain has minions, spending a turn on buffs can be effective. Throw down some Awe of Dantalion (a move action) round one alongside quickened haste and greater blink. On the other hand, if you want to be cheesy, use something like quickened slow and mass dessicate before using Awe, letting you directly harm the players before preventing them from doing the same for a round.
(Extending the awe lets him either screw with the PCs like that on the first round and then buff the second, or spend two rounds buffing and preparing the battlefield. Good spells for this include greater shadow conjuration, wall of salt, and spiritwall.)

After that opening, keep casting spells. Ideally, the villain wants to cast two spells per turn, through a combination of tainted metamagic, vestige metamagic, pre-quickened spells, and spells with a swift action casting time (e.g. channeled lifetheft).
Tainted metamagic is an extremely handy option, but it obviously has drawbacks to the tune of a few dozen maximum hit points each time it’s used to quicken something. Moreover, four consecutive rounds of tainted quickening (accounting for Naberius’s Faster Ability Healing) will all but kill the villain without input from the heroes! Use in moderation, mixing in other options as needed.

In a pinch, the villain can fire off one last high-level spell and then expel Naberius to quicken a dimension door. (Unlike Tainted Metamagic, Vestige Metamagic is not restricted by your highest-level spell slot.) For greater deception, you can have that last spell be a wall of salt that the players smash through or cleverly dissolve with a large quantity of water...only to discover that the villain teleported away already.
Alternatively, if you don’t want the players to hunt down an escaping villain, just have him Tainted Metamagic himself into an extremely melodramatic grave, leaving only a pile of odd bones behind, topped by three mismatched skulls.

Spoiler: Sample Prepared Spells, CR 15

  • 0—arcane mark, mage hand, preserve organ, prestidigitation
  • 1—backbiter x2, 5
  • 2—dessicate x2, false life, invisibility, eay of weakness, stolen breath x2
  • 3—fly, haste, ray of exhaustion x2, 2
  • 4—burning blood, empowered dessicate, dimension door, enervation, wall of salt
  • 5—greater blink, channeled lifetheft x2, quickened backbiter, spiritwall
  • 6—empowered enervation, fleshshiver greater shadow conjuration, mass dessicate, mummify
  • 7—avasculate, quickened slow, waves of exhaustion

For spell sources, please see Spellbook, below. If you lack access to the source(s) for some spells used, replace them with other spells from the spellbook or extra preparations of other spells of the same level (or metamagic-empowered spells from lower levels).

Spoiler: Higher Levels

Switch Dantalion for Zceryll at CR 16. There’s plenty of alter self shenanigans you can get up to, summon alien gets you a solid minion (and you can technically, probably, use Vestige Metamagic with him while it’s recharging), and such an openly Lovecraftian vestige works really well with the villain’s increasingly unsettling nature as you dig down to his core.

Starting at CR 17, Vestige Casting becomes an option. It lets the villain cast a spell as an immediate action, as well as Still and Silent, for free—no Constitution damage, no loss of vestige powers, nothing. Aside from being another method for quickening spells on the cheap, this lets him effectively cast arbitrary spells as “reactions” on PC turns. One handy trick is to throw a wall of salt in front of a powerful PC attack...ideally something like a fireball, causing it to blow up the party instead of the villains.
You only get one use of this ability; make it count.

And, of course, getting access to 8th- and 9th-level spells is a big game-changer.

Spoiler: Lower Levels

At CR 7, the villain is a slightly behind-par wizard with a couple of gimmicks. He can empower 1st-level spells for a couple points of Constitution damage, but is an empowered sunstroke really a better use of his action than a ray of exhaustion?

CR 10 brings the Quicken Spell feat and the 5th-level slots required to make use of it (given the limitations of tainted metamagic). You no longer need to choose; the villain can use, say, shadow evocation and follow it up with a quickened sunstroke. By this point, his anima mage levels also give him an extra spell slot and a small boost to initiative, which...alright

Anima mage pays its way into this build by boosting both caster level and effective binder level, but CR 12 brings us the vestige metamagic, perfect for quickening a spell too high-level for tainted metamagic (or for when his Constitution is too low). And that basically brings us to the ideal point.

Spoiler: How to Make A Nastier Foe

There are a few options which I wanted to squeeze into the build, since they play into the theme of self-inflicted ability damage, but which there isn’t a good mechanism for adding. Which stinks, because I planned to use several of them when plotting out this build.

Let’s start with the reason I wrote Sibuna infiltrating the church of Cyric: The Ritual of the Dark Flames. For the low cost of 100 gold, 1,200 XP, and two Wisdom damage per use, you can deal 1d6 points of damage per Hit Die to another creature as a (short-)ranged touch attack. That’s pretty cool...or, well, hot. Probably not as effective as a high-level spell, but it’s supernatural and straightforward.

Symbiotes are a rather obvious choice. The soul tick in particular has great synergy with Tainted Sorcerer, since all a TS’s spells are [evil]. The various psionic symbiotes are also worth bringing up, since they damage an ability score that the villain otherwise has no real use for (since his spellcasting is Taint-based now). Well, not the psionic sinew, but he doesn’t have any Dex-draining abilities either. But it mostly offers martial abilities, so it’s safe to leave out.

Quote Originally Posted by Weaver, attempted superhero
I always hated the speeches when I was in school, the preaching in auditoriums, the one-note message. Stuff like saying drugs are bad. It’s wrong. Drugs are fantastic...People wouldn’t do them if they weren’t. They make you feel good, make your day brighter, give you energy...until they don’t.
With Naberius, drugs never stop making you feel good. [Author’s note: Naberius does not exist. Do drugs responsibly, kids.] There’s a wide variety available from the Book of Vile Darkness and Lords of Darkness; they offer a wide variety of benefits (mostly stat boosts), and most of the downsides won’t last a minute. Obviously, avoid exceptions (e.g. dreammist) unless you’re fine paying an actual price for your drug-fueled buffs.
Quote Originally Posted by Naberius, probably
I don’t have a panaeolo problem. I can stop any time I want.
The spell Absorb Strength is actually listed in the villain’s spellbook, but actually using it requires assumptions beyond the scope of this contest to be made. (The Corruption cost might known the villain out, but he’ll get back up soon enough.)

And if all of that is too much...give him a familiar. It seems weird to give a familiar to something that late in the game (right as he gets 9th-level spells), so I didn’t. It’s worth a couple feats...not good feats, but hey, it’ll make this foe (slightly) nastier.

Spoiler: Recommended Spellbook (at CR 20)

A wizard can learn functionally any and as many spells as they like, if they spend the gold. While I tried not to go too overboard on giving Sibuna(/Sardoric/Naberius) too many spells, I also wanted his spell list to have plenty more low-level spells than high-level ones, because I think all NPC wizard spell books should be like that. By my count, this spellbook is over 200 pages long. Oops.

Obviously, lower-CR versions of the villain will not know all of these spells. But I’m not terribly enthusiastic about making a new arbitrary spellbook for each CR. My apologies.

  • 0—Arcane Mark (core), Detect Magic (core), Ghost Sound (core), Mage Hand (core), Mending (core), Message (core), No Light (BoVD), Preserve Organ (BoVD), Prestidigitation (core), Read Magic (core), Resistance (core), Touch of Fatigue (core)
  • 1—Backbiter (SpCm), Bestow Wound (BoVD), Cause Fear (core), Charm Person (core), Comprehend Languages (core), Detect Vestige (Tome), Drug Resistance (BoVD), Identify (core), Net of Shadows (SpCm), Parching Touch (Sand), Ray of Enfeeblement (core), Seething Eyebane (BoVD), Silent Image (core), Sunstroke (Sand), Unseen Servant (core)
  • 2—Blindness/Deafness (core), Curse of Impending Blades (SpCm), Darkness (core), Delusions of Grandeur (SpCm), Dessicate (Sand), False Life (core), Ghoul Touch (core), Invisibility (core), Mirror Image (core), Phantom Foe (SpCm), Ray of Weakness (SpCm), Stolen Breath (SpCm), Whispering Wind (core)
  • 3—Fly (core), Gentle Repose (core), Haste (core), Love’s Pain (BoVD), Mask of the Ideal (CoMa), Mass Curse of Impending Blades (SpCm), Phantasmal Strangler (CoMa), Ray of Exhaustion (core), Skull Watch (SpCm), Slow (core), Suggestion (core), Vampiric Touch (core)
  • 4—Absorb Strength (BoVD), Animate Dead (core), Bestow Curse (core), Burning Blood (SpCm), Dimension Door (core), Enervation (core), Fear (core), Minor Creation (core), Phantasmal Killer (core), Shadow Conjuration (core), Wall of Salt (sand), Wither (Sand)
  • 5—Channeled Lifetheft (CoMa), Choking Sands (Sand), Greater Blink (SpCm), Magic Jar (core), Permanency (core), Persistent Image (core), Sending (core), Shadow Evocation (core), Spiritwall (SpCm)
  • 6—Consume Likeness (BoVD), Fleshshiver (SpCm), Greater Shadow Conjuration (core), Mass Dessicate (Sand), Mummify (Sand), Permanent Image (core), Veil (core)
  • 7—Avasculate (SpC), Limited Wish (core), Project Image (core), Spell Turning (core), Vitrify (Sand), Waves of Exhaustion (core)
  • 8—Blackfire (SpC), Clone (core), Desert Binding (Sand), Greater Shadow Evocation (core)
  • 9—Energy Drain (core), Mindrape (BoVD), Soul Bind (core)

BoVD: Book of Vile Darkness
CoMa: Complete Mage
core: Player’s Handbook (duh)
Sand: Sandstorm
SpCm: Spell Compendium
Tome: Tome of Magic

Spoiler: Author’s Notes

I’d originally planned to pick up the Bind Vestige feat for Naberius. Then I double-checked the feat, and realized that it granted a specified ability—ie, I couldn’t bind Naberius for Faster Ability Healing instead of Silver Tongue. That restriction lead to this much more binding-focused build. (Though looking back, centering around Naberius kneecaps the binder’s flexibility...maybe I should have gone with one binder level and more conventional wizard prestige classes?)

The bone-looking thing comes from a version where I made this Sardoric/Sibuna/Naberius undead so he could use negative energy on himself. Then I realized that the whole reason I picked up Tainted Sorcerer wouldn’t work if he was undead, but I liked the description I gave—the way each layer of deception falls away until something chillingly inhuman remained—too much to cut it.

Figuring out the last three levels was tricky. I kept looking for prestige classes that would advance casting, but kept coming up short; they didn’t offer anything worthwhile, or they clashed with the villain’s fluff, or they cut off at inconvenient points. Eventually I decided to stop looking for a dip and just stick a few more levels in Binder. In for a penny in for a dime, I guess.

Spoiler: Issues?

I went with the fractional saves variant mostly so Sardoric/Sibuna/Naberius didn’t have a ridiculous base Will save due to getting +2’s from three different classes and Monstrous Humanoid HD. I rounded down the bad saves to 0.3/level to fit it into my spreadsheet quicker, so I might have lost a point of base save here or there. I went with fractional BAB as well, mostly to stay consistent.

Taint can be gained and lost in a variety of ways; I just gave my villain what seemed like a sensible progression. It can be changed without affecting too much; it just changes spell DCs, bonus spells, and the Wisdom penalty.

Speaking of that Wisdom penalty, you might think it renders the villain vulnerable to Will-based save-or-dies. Not to worry! Two feats are here to save the day in their own special ways.
First, we have Keen Intellect (specifically the Unapproachable East version, since there are a couple of feats with that name). It lets you use Intelligence in place of Wisdom for a handful of skills and, more importantly, Will saves.
Second, and more interestingly, is Insane Defiance from Elder Evils. That feat lets you take a point of Wisdom damage to redirect any mind-affecting effect to another target. On one hand, if you don’t want to make “sling low-ball mind-affecting effects until he runs out of Wisdom” an effective strategy, this obviously has a limited number of uses; on the other hand, if the players don’t try that, Naberius’s healing ability will probably keep the villain fine.

Spoiler: Sources

Book of Vile Darkness: Bone Creature template
Elder Evils: Insane Defiance and other vile feats
Sandstorm: Marrutect
Spell Compendium, Complete Mage: Some spells
Tome of Magic: Binder, Anima Mage, vestige rules in general
Unapproachable East: Keen Intellect feat
Unearthed Arcana: Tainted Sorcerer (and Taint rules in general)

Book of Vile Darkness: drugs
Fiend Folio: Symbiotes
Lords of Darkness: The Ritual of Dark Flames, more drugs, lore inspiration