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I think that the Mutagenic Mauler brawler deserves mention. With an hour of preparation between fights, you end up with nice stat bonuses and natural armor.
Stick with brawler to flurry, augmenting damage with alchemical STR bonuses and many attacks; or grab a two-handed weapon, take brawler to 6, and start dipping barbarian/fighter/ranger to gain access to other damage-boosting options. Warpriest 4+ is a nice dip (or straight continuation) these days: divine favor eventually yields a +1 to attack/damage (+2 with one of fate's favored and magical knack, +3 with both) for the cost of a swift action. Mutagenic Mauler brawler 6-8/warpriest (possibly Sacred Fist) X is, in my opinion, interesting.
Following are a few ways to take this trope.
Well, that got grim, but I hope that the post provided you with some ideas nonetheless :).
(lots of good stuff)
Thanks! Looks like an extremely fun and solid build :). Ability Focus is a really good call. One can never go wrong with Empyreal sorcerer, I think :).
You bring up an interesting point about size bonuses. Retaining STR bonuses from polymorph effects makes a weird kind of sense (as much as anything regarding polymorph effects does, since we have to suspend our disbelief a bit when a 7-STR wizard turns into a bear and still can't win at arm wrestling against a fighter ...), but size-based increases to unarmed strike ... huh. Hard to imagine an in-universe justification for it, but, rules-wise, it looks completely legitimate :).
Eventually, then, it seems that we could become Huge and gain +10 to STR (via Form of the Dragon III) and add lead blades, yielding +5 to the DC of our whirlwind and granting us 6d8 damage (2d8 -> 3d8 -> 4d8 -> 6d8). That's tasty.
As far as I can tell, VMC is totally distinct from class levels; it just replaces feats gained from advancement. Seems like a 20th-level character that took the monk VMC, indifferently to classes (prestige or otherwise) taken, would end up with the unarmed strike damage of a level 18 monk. Good observation, though; there might be GMs who disagree. Thanks for your interest!
Inquisitor required. Wis to Ini, Heretic for wis to stealth
Good point! If I were to dip inquisitor instead of cleric, what would the character's combat contribution be? Is power attacking with 13 STR (so essentially no damage bonus from STR) but high-ish to-hit from WIS going to do adequate damage? Or should I try for a reach weapon and a combat maneuver for more of a lockdown build?
My goal: to excogitate a reasonably effective character that adds WIS to as many rolls as possible.
My idea: take a class that adds WIS to AC (monk or Sacred Fist warpriest), a class that affords access to channeling (for Guided Hand) (cleric or warpriest), a class that grants the Conversion inquisition (cleric or inquisitor), and an appropriate PrC for some continuity of class features, and end up with someone who can
Potential build paths and my analyses:
Wanderer Monk 8/Cleric 1: The original idea. Worship Shizuru; take Guided Hand and Crusader's Flurry as feats, and take the Repose domain and the Conversion inquisition with the cleric level. Take the first level as cleric, then Monk to 8 for the second "off-hand" flurry attack before branching out into a PrC. Enjoy all the Wisdom to everything and a cool "walking the Earth" samurai flavor. I would probably proceed into Horizon Walker after this to sustain that flavor and give me various bonuses to to-hit and skills. Slayer might also be invited to the party. It doesn't seem terribly interesting to continue with monk after this, sadly.
Sacred Fist Warpriest 8/Cleric 1: A modification to the original, adding more combat feats, a lot more spellcasting, and great nova ability at the expense of some skill ranks and ... not much else that I care about. This is probably a straight upgrade over the original, but I'd probably have to go with human to get enough skill ranks for my face skills to matter. It's a touch clunky to have to take a cleric level and warpriest levels. As above, I might proceed into Horizon Walker, but Slayer actually looks quite tempting for its skill points and melee abilities. Of course, after this much investment into Warpriest, it might be best to treat that cleric level as a simple dip and continue with Warpriest.
Sensei Monk 2--3/Cavalier (or Samurai) 1--2/Cleric (or Inquisitor) 1--2: A totes different beast. This one is pretty clearly intended to go into Battle Herald, and I must admit that a single-stat Battle Herald build appeals greatly to me. In this case, "do something in melee" might very well mean "stand in front, bolster allies, and maybe guard the back row," so using one of those reach monk weapons like the kyoketsu shoge or kusarigama, taking Bodyguard/Lunge, and just threatening all over looks like a good time. This one is also much less feat-intensive, since my WIS to attack is covered by Sensei, so I can spend my feats on fun stuff.
As you can see, broadly, I'm looking at either a debuffer (via Gentle Rest) who relies on a great number of attacks, a pumped-up to-hit stat, and a high crit chance (probably with Power Attack) to do meaningful damage OR a group buffer who can safely stand out in front and swat enemies away. Has anyone got thoughts, experiences playing such a build, other ways to achieve WIS SADness, etc.?
I'm theorycrafting today. I've been keen on the Storm Kindler/Master of Storms for a while, but I've always been dissatisfied with the results when I try something like monk 3 (for Monastic Legacy)/sorcerer (empyreal, for Wisdom as a casting stat) 4.
Now, with the release of Unchained, I see that variant multiclassing will allow me to gain several quite good monk abilities, including nearly-full unarmed strike progression, without detriment to my casting, if that's desired.
What would be an interesting entry now? My thoughts are that
I'm trying not to forget that this prestige class also gets cool ancillary abilities (Seasight reminds me of that "Mist Assassin" that made the rounds a while ago), so ways to take advantage of those are appreciated. Mostly, I'm looking for cool and synergistic ideas to make turning into a tornado as cool as it ought to be.
Thomas Seitz wrote:
I am so sorry to hear about your dog. Malcolm must have been an excellent friend, and I hope that you get to have a great experience with this tribute character.
The quoted post elicited two ideas: one is the Spirit Binder wizard archetype (pretty self-explanatory). The other might seem a little strange, but what about a Shadowdancer? The shadow could easily be flavored as the canid protective spirit of a lost dog companion. It's certainly "[n]ot evil undead," since it shares your alignment, and it's incorporeal, which definitely affords it a sort of numinous, ethereal, ghostly quality.
Edit: well, I see Spirit Binder was suggested two posts above.
Chess Pwn wrote:
Nice! I didn't realize that. The only remaining hurdle, then, is that the wizard school ability is teeeeechnically Su, not Sp, but that is really good to know!
Is this for a home game? While the FAQ regarding spell-like ability qualification for feats has been rescinded, it sounds like that's not an issue for you. Thus, perhaps it would make sense to try the old "[d]ip into teleportation subschool wizard" trick, or, if you're okay with waiting until seventh level, using variant multiclassing.
I would go with the former, simply because 1) you need your feats for this build and 2) it allows you to start taking the feats sooner.
This also feels really organic: you're a swift-footed assassin who wants to teleport around. You decide to take up a bit of wizardry, but, once you've learned how to hop around dimensions a bit, you totally stop studying; you get better at acting after you teleport (represented by taking the dimension door-related feats), but not at actually teleporting (you have but a single wizard level). It's only later, when you've gained a lot more experience, become habituated to teleporting, and truly mastered the astral plane, that your intrinsic dimension door abilities can be unlocked. Mechanically, you'll be a wizard 1/slayer X (only 5 needed for PrC qualification, but that sixth slayer level is tasty) with access to an occasional teleport trick; later, once you take the PrC, it will be clear to all the world that you have mastered the art of slipping between dimensions as a blade between ribs.
Apologies if we've already tried this approach; I've not made my way through every post yet.
As I see it, the GM has to do two (monumentally difficult, in many cases) things: maintain narrative consistency and comfortably adjudicate the rules. This means that the GM has to decide on what flavor is allowed (to address the former) and what mechanics are allowed (to address the latter). Just so we can all elucidate our positions, I'm going to propound a few scenarios; we'll see which ones are palatable.
A) The GM wants to run a game in "Medieval Europe" (i.e., dragons and magic are allowed, but people of color? THAT'S CRAZY). Anyway. The following exchange ensues:
B) Same GM, same game.
C) The GM runs a more cosmopolitan game; lots of different flavors are supported, but the GM is new and wants to restrict the available mechanics to the CRB.
D) The GM is comfortable adjudicating all kinds of different mechanics, but wants to run a low-tech, perhaps even stone age, game.
E) The GM is comfortable adjudicating all kinds of different mechanics, but wants to run a low-tech, perhaps even stone age, game.
It seems like everyone agrees that A) and C) are acceptable. I don't think anyone would say that the player in E) is being reasonable. It seems that most people in this thread find B) and D) acceptable, but some don't. I would ask those people what makes A) and C) acceptable but not B) and D).
Just to throw even more ideas in, what about a naga aspirant? You get healing spells from the druid and the ability to add some really nice spells to your class list, including (greater) invisibility and divine favor. Naga form makes you a frightening grappler; invisibility handles stealth, and serpent flavor seems spot-on for thieves and deceivers.
For this kind of thing, I like to find a base spell casting class that offers a "mixed" spell list, then augment combat potential with a PrC. For example, a witch or arcanist (unlettered archetype) would offer both healing and some arcane mainstays; from there, Eldritch Knight would advance casting and combat. On the divine side, one could take any of Te suggestions above (oracle with the right archetypes; shaman; even a fire domain cleric or something), optionally entering Holy Vindicator, would also be effective.
I disclaim that my own predilection, when building a gish, is to secure some amount of competency with weapons, even without buffs, and to treat casting as a source of versatility and augmentation. Simply put, I'd rather play an eighty five- to ninety-percent effective fighter with spell casting for fun and utility than a great caster who can also fight in the right circumstances. If your priorities differ, you might prefer a single-classed solution.
Huh. With that in mind, have you considered entering this prestige class to accomplish that? The Shift Blame ability would represent this marvelously.
If one chose an oracle mystery that adds CHA to AC via a revelation (lore, nature, lunar) and took spirit guide (life) for channel every day (or perhaps vice versa; I think there might be a nature's whispers-style hex somewhere), that would be a very nice AC boost which, since it would be restricted by maximum DEX bonus, would push one into something like haramaki, which I, at least, being prepossessed with armorless builds, would consider aesthetically unarmored.
Nice! Good advice all around--much appreciated! I think I'll shoot for that and take Iron Will/ splash monk if the saves really need help. Glad to know that this is not an untrodden path; it sounds like the treading has been fun :).
I've been considering a build somewhat like this and trying (for flavor reasons, as well as for strength boosts) to incorporate Mutagenic Mauler levels. Have you considered anything like that? I was thinking of a mix of monk and brawler in place of what would normally be occupied by monk levels, but the inability to use natural weapons with Brawler's Flurry really has me hesitating.
Also, excellent guide! This is one of my favorite character types, and I shall be watching eagerly for updates.
Hey, all! I have a concept and some incipient build ideas, but I'd like some advice on direction and on some turbid rules interactions.
Ensconced in an ill-traveled forest, there is a monastery where asceticism, the development of mystical powers, and the pursuit of perfection are treated as the ineluctable elements of enlightenment. Each spring, those monks to whom clarity has come with the thawing of winter are taken to a particular grove where a rare fruit grows. Here, budding mystics taste of the fruit's ripe flesh, gaining such powers as reflect the own path to perfection: some learn to conjure searing flame; others, to render their own flesh as inspissate and unyielding as the bark of a tree; yet others to restore vigor to weakened bodies.
When Ugrin's time came and he consumed the mystical catalyst, nothing happened. His teachers fed him several glistening portions of the wondrous food to no effect. Puzzled and dismayed, he began to return to the grove each night, having fortified himself in the day with alchemical lore and the rudiments of potion craft. After many weeks of experimentation and a great deal of illness, Ugrin developed a concoction that rendered him more powerful, more durable, more agile, at the cost of some temporary clouding of the mind.
He has since left the monastery, bearing knowledge of the mirific fruit and of the subtleties of rendering it potent. He seeks to alter his body further through experimentation and magic, concluding that his own path to perfection will be that of vicissitude, of labile forms and of willing alteration, of transcendence by bodily modification.
Basic Build Ideas:
I'm obviously going for at least some levels of Mutagenic Mauler. However, I get bored single-classing, and I feel that much might be gained by trying to stack transmutation effects. Besides, by sixth level, a Mutagenic Mauler's mutagenic form will have gained a flat +2 to damage, +10 base speed, and low-light vision, and each mutagen will last an hour, so I'll have gained much of what I want from the class.
After that, I see the following as useful dips:
Monk (2 -- 4 levels): massively bolsters saves; possibly advances unarmed damage along with brawler?
Druid (1 level or 4 levels): also shores up the weak will save; affords access to domains (Growth would be excellent for the swift action enlarge person situation), and, if one can qualify for the Treesinger archetype, wild shaping into a plant would be thematic for this character. I also feel that Cave Druid could work, as I have something of a predilection for perfection being found in the aberrant. Going druid would add another layer of transmutations to the quest for perfection; if I did this, what advice from Prototype00's Conqueror Oozes and such can this character use? Would Feral Combat Training work with Brawler's Flurry?
Bloodrager (Aberrant) (4 -- 6 levels): improves reach; fits with the "transcendence through modification" bit; yields RAGE.
I generally prefer to cap off messy dipped-to-oblivion builds with a PrC, if only to afford such characters at least a bit of continuity in class features. I'm considering
Brother of the Seal: kind of works the "forbidden knowledge" angle and augments unarmed strikes while conferring excellent saves and some other fun class features.
Dragon Disciple: if one took at least four Bloodrager (Draconic) levels, this might work flavor-wise, if only for the addition of draconic traits and stat boosts.
Pain Taster: not my top choice, but might turn out to be oddly felicitous. I can see modification of the body becoming more and more of an obsession (as my tattoos and piercing attest).
I may be trying to do far too much. I guess I'm just wondering how "self-modifying" a pure-ish melee character can get. Thank in advance for your help!
Hmm, if you have APG, why not try a Holy Vindicator? For Iomedae, I think a Paladin 2/ Oracle (Life) 4/ HV X build could be great. You could also choose a different oracle mystery if you stay in Paladin long enough for channel energy. You've fallen and risen, died and returned--who better to bleed for the faith?
The Inheritor's Crusader PrC is also really fun. I've considered trying to cobble together a Monk/ Cleric of Iomedae by taking Crusader's Flurry. The character would be a virtuoso with the longsword and get fun, thematic abilities from the PrC.
Mark Seifter wrote:
Aasimar or Elf Life Oracle using the alternate favored class bonus on channel?
Silent Saturn: Ah, the link is bad! Sorry about that. Unsanctioned Knowledge sounds good for this build. And yes, halfling does make a lot of sense ... with the aid another bonuses a halfling can get, you could, at high levels, quicken the luck domain's touch power (Quicken Spell-Like Ability FAQ seems to suggest that it can work), aid another as a standard action, and watch an ally get an effective +10 or more to a roll. Gallant Inspiration is a good idea; I wish there were a way to get Ill Omen (Mystic Past Life won't work there).
Imbicatus: Thanks for the fixed link! Yeah, while I find the Paladin fun, Stonelord and Irorian are just slick. Actually, between Stonelord and the contemplative archetype, I could actually see myself quite enjoying a dwarf.
Aratrok: Yes, that is a problem, but I agree that effectively replacing DEX with CHA would help a fair bit. Having wisdom opens up Combat Meditation, which might be nice, although I'm already suggesting a huge amount of feats.
Oh, and I just found a lovely combo: this feat won't work for you (it appears to be for Pharasmans only), but, if you have a friendly cleric who's often near you, they could take Fateful Channel.
Hmm. It might be nice to try an actual build here. I'm going to try to see how much we can warp the laws of probability! Builds and suggestions remain welcome :).
Hello, all. I've been quite intrigued by the Irorian Paladin, and I'm trying to elaborate a build that can best benefit from the reroll-augmenting abilities. Here is what I have so far:
Irorian Paladin: This is not a surprise! The abilities on which I'm particularly keen are Confident Defense, Unarmed Strike, and, in particular, Aura of Excellence and, should one reach this level, Aura of Perfection. The idea is to create a high-charisma character with excellent defenses who can contribute to combat with reasonable melee ability and lots of die roll manipulation to abet allies.
Other Classes and Sources of Reroll Abilities:
I would build this character either with a strength focus, followed closely by charisma, or, if taking the monk dip, with equal attention to wisdom and charisma (Guided Hand tricks after the cleric level might be welcome). Again, this character should have good defenses and be able to do something in melee (whether using combat maneuvers, doing a bit of damage, or using abilities to help allies: aid another and its related feat chains, Bodyguard, Archon Style, etc.) while more-or-less passively helping allies.
What do you all think? I realize that this isn't terribly optimal, but it sounds fun to me. Any suggestions? Additions?
More ideas (these ones are sillier): employ the prevalent MAD-reduction feats and class features (e.g., Noble Scion and one of the charisma-to-AC revelations on an oracle), but ensure that you're replacing high stats with "low" stats (in this case, a vanara (+2 DEX, +2 WIS, -2 CHA) would work nicely). Keep permanent ability drain on the "low" stats to reduce them further.
What about a normally untenable (or at least suboptimal) class/ race combination? A nagaji wizard, a fetchling cleric or monk (the latter isn't exactly awful, but the lack of wisdom hurts most monks), a kobold ... anything?
What if one were to treat the character's awareness of his or her "perfection" as inducement to forswear the accretion of wealth? Maybe the character never uses stat boosting items or forgoes armor without mechanical benefit.
Ooh! Take templates that weaken you. Young (you're an elf only eighty years old!), hungry (you are a mendicant or your religious beliefs require you to fast; this is bad for a non-melee character), pod-spawned, etc.
The general sense I have received about switch hitting is that the melee portion should be handled with a two-hander and Power Attack, for a total investment of one feat. Someone upthread mentioned Empyreal Sorcerer/ Arcane Archer. What if you tried something like this:
Zen Archer 8: get your second flurry attack (losing only the -10 attack granted at level 15), weapon specialization, many archery feats, etc. During this time, you can take power attack and, using the decent strength you should have as an archer (plus true strike from Qinggong monk? Eh?), do two-handed power attacks with melee weapons (long spear, temple sword, etc.)
Sorcerer 1-2: so that you can take ...
Alternatively! After ZA 8, perhaps Horizon Walker? You might even want to do rogue or ninja 2 at some point for the terrain mastery rogue talent trick; then, once you enter HW, all of your terrain/ favored enemy bonuses apply to both ranged and melee. Depending on how cheesy you consider it, a wand of Instant Enemy means you can smack anyone with your lovely, stacked favored terrain bonus as a favored enemy bonus.
I would try something like this; I like the anti-caster idea. Some other possibilities might be as follows:
1) Give anyone who reads a scroll an effective increase in casting ability (as though through a casting-increasing prestige class), but no other benefits associated with the level (HD, saves, BAB, class features, etc.). Allow characters with no spell casting classes to choose a spell list and gain some minor spell casting.
2) As above, but allow non-casters to select an X/ day spell-like ability. This has the advantage of possibly affording the non-casters access to a few level-appropriate spells, rather than a bunch of low-level ones.
3) Keep the spell-like ability idea for non-casters, but offer casters the opportunity to learn an off-list spell. This has the benefit of maintaining some sort of parity, as no one will be gaining casting ability that far preponderates what is appropriate for character level.
4) Boring idea: make everyone effectively gestalt, with the second class required to be an arcane casting class; restrict the second class so that one can only level up in it by reading a scroll (and the scroll can't affect the primary class) and perhaps stipulating that one can't achieve a level in the secondary class that is more than, say, two less than one's primary class level. Adds utility and versatility, but won't make anyone TOO insanely powerful.
I've got two:
1) Hekia Eheliou
LG Human female Cleric (Shizuru, domains: sun (revelation), conversion inquisition) 1/ Monk (wanderer) X/ Horizon Walker Y
Having followed the sun and traveled to many places, Hekia has learned the tongues of countless peoples,
She is always garbed as lightly as the local climate will permit, bearing with her a pack, a simple bedroll,
2) Uutklata Ithyau
N Aasimar male Fighter (two-handed fighter) 5/ Shadow Dancer 4/ ?
Uutklata is prepossessed with dualities: dark and light, physical and intellectual, epigeal and ethereal,
I've been thinking that it might not be bad to have both Warrior Priest and Arcane Armor Training. Replacing the fighter level with oracle (battle or metal), you get all of the proficiencies anyway via Skill at Arms, and then you can take Extra Revelation for revelations that will scale with your Hellknight level. It "only" costs one point of BAB, but the revelations might not scale enough to justify that. It is an option, though. It's possible with some cleric archetypes, too, but the return becomes even less (unless there are some crazy domain powers that I can't think of).
Since you've mentioned rogue and assassin (perhaps you mean the PrC, perhaps not), I'm assuming you want to rely on sneak attack as a damage source, rather than high strength. Since you want your character to be old--well, middle-aged, rather than really senescent--transferring your to hit to a mental stat is an excellent idea.
I would say that the easiest route is wisdom. You can either dip into monk (sensei) for two levels to allow wisdom to supplant strength with monk weapons or cleric (or life oracle) for one level to get guided hand. The monk route might be nice, since you'll also be able to add wisdom to AC when unarmed, which might benefit one dissimulating under the guise of a butler. Then again, levels of cleric AND monk (with an archetype that does not abnegate flurry of blows) would allow you to make extra attacks via crusader's flurry.
If you decide to employ unarmed strikes (again, being unarmed and unarmored can be beneficial for one disguised as a servant), there's always the Bludgeoner/ Sap Adept/ Sap Master route for more sneak attack (as a monk, you may not even need Bludgeoner).
Sample build outlines (I assume old human, so -3 to physical scores, +2 to mental):
Monk (sensei) 2/ Rogue (I don't know the archetypes well) 3/ Assassin 6
If you notice, I'm not a fan of dump stats, but there would be nothing wrong with decreasing charisma to have some constitution or something.
With this build, you want to maximize sneak attack, so you'll take Bludgeoner (if needed; I'm not sure how the monk's ability to do non-lethal damage at will interacts with sneak attack), Sap Adept (probably at level three), and Sap Master (at level seven) as the core of your damage. Death attack and the like will be nice to have.
Master Spy might also be to your liking for this build.
Or, since Red Mantis Assassin was mentioned above, there's this odd thing:
Cleric (Achaekek) (Crusader) 1/ Ranger 6/ Red Mantis Assassin 4
The stats would go much as above, but I'd be inclined to dump intelligence, as in 7 int to start. This allows you to start with 14 charisma, which will increase to 16. You could do Eldritch Heritage with that, if you were disposed. I do hate dumping, but it might work for this character: in his/ her youth, a callow, unsophisticated brute, but he/ she has grown into the urbane infiltrator he/ she is today. That's how I'd justify the low intelligence, at least.
At first level, you take Weapon Focus as the Crusader bonus feat, then Channel Smite and Guided Hand as the human and first level feats. You use ranger levels to qualify for (Improved) Two-Weapon Fighting with low dexterity.
In contrast to the above, you'll have more BAB and some spells from Ranger and RMA, but far less sneak attack. Favored Enemy, Weapon Specialization, and, if you can get it, Power Attack will have to augment your damage. You'll also have to lug sawtooth sabers around, so ... giant cane? In retrospect, this one may not fit your concept at all. Sorry.
I know this is a bit of an execrated suggestion, but have you considered a cleric (or life oracle, or whatever) dip for Guided Hand? Since you are going monk, you can accomplish something similar to dabbler's idea (adding attack stat to AC) without sacrificing your own (carrying a big sword). As long as you find a deity with a big, nasty two-handed as a favored weapon, you're good.
I never really played 3.5, so I don't have the same opinions on power level and viability of that era's classes as others do (or any opinions, really).
However, if you're a pacifist, surely nothing you make will be all that disruptive. I humbly submit the Apostle of Peace, but, for fun, enter as a monk of the lotus. You have the ability to still anything which is not tranquil with a touch (well, a punch, but still). The vows appear to keep you wearing few or no magic items, but provide great defensive bonuses in return. Thus, you may sit placidly in the middle of battle, abetting allies and allowing foes to wage useless battle against you. They will wield spells of furious power; arcane fire will roll down your shoulders like a soothing rain. They will take unfailing aim with mighty arms, and be rendered harmless by your serenity.
Keeping it Pathfinder only, I've been perpending a Dawnflower Dissident build with the intention of staying frustratingly harmless in combat. Specifically, I like the idea of using the sixth-level Shift Blame ability to cause enemies to attack each other instead of you. I don't know whether this comports with your idea of pacifism, but, if it does, here are some entry ideas:
For even more fun (with either class, really) one could pick up a ki pool (monk 4, ninja 2, shigenjo (oracle archetype) 7, ...) and take Bewildering Koan. If you're already maximizing Bluff (for the Dawnflower Dissident, perhaps?), this comports nicely with pacifism. Those are my ideas; I hope something there helps!
<awesome character backstory>
Awesome! Thanks for that. Sounds like you're having a blast with this character.
the reference is a line in the movier Chronicles of Riddick. always comes to mind with the phrase you keep what you kill.
Curiosity sated; you have rescued me from a great brooding!
Tentacle (thematically iffy to me, but if this Eidolon is continuously twisted by its ordeals in the Abyss, it may be a quick way to show it)
I wonder whether the shadow-related evolutions are worth it at all (mechanically or thematically) if you want a way to reveal the creature's tenure on the abyss in a visible way. Shades of the dead chittering away on Asphodel, maybe? Perhaps a bit of a stretch.
Reference or pun? I usually know the source of some sass but I concede I'm drawing a blank here ;).
This looks like a good call. I'm wondering whether there's a way to compensate for the lack of HD if the eidolon is to be kept relevant; one can get the evolutions desired with relatively few levels in summoner, but I think the limiting factor for efficacy will eventually become HD. Mikaze, do you want this eidolon to see combat? Is it okay for it just to serve as your wand buddy/ caddy/ squire?
I just wanted to say that this sounds awesome and I shall be waiting to hear more about the character. Fabulous way to explain the eidolon.
I am light on advice, because, as you noted, the prevailing wisdom holds that an eidolon is utterly useless if one multiclasses out of summoner, let alone dipping into it. I don't really like such polar and tendentious claims, but it is true that this particular eidolon will never be very battle-ready.
However, there are things your character can do that most might cringe at. For example, I weep inwardly whenever someone mentions summoning monsters (or, even worse, using his/ her familiar/ eidolon/ animal companion/ little buddy) to set off traps. It makes me feel so lacrimose; there are such tears. But your character might regard this eidolon as property, all rights forfeit upon defeat in battle, and consider it his/ her right to subject this conquered soul to any form of pain or humiliation. After all, it can just be summoned again. I don't know how your character feels about that.
There's also the old "just make it a scout/ wand buddy" argument. Give it UMD and wands of your ranger spells and let it serve you in that way. Oterisk's Dragon Disciple guide has a small amount of advice on that.
Finally, summoner does offer mechanical benefits other than the eidolon. I recommend leveraging shield ally and bond senses. There's something cool and a bit predator-like about getting new senses. In that regard, I would recommend getting your eidolon hella senses. Like, all the senses you can find.
Finally, while you may not be a half-orc, your GM sounds cool and might let you take the blood god disciple archetype from the ARG since it fits PERFECTLY. With that, your eidolon doesn't need to be strong; you just feed it something you knock down and get an evolution. Not huge, but cool, flavorful, and useful if you find the right one-point evolution.
The suggestions so far have been quite good, and your plan of going full cleric is probably the "best" in terms of optimization. Just a few ideas and possible dips to add to the discussion, since I love the class and would also like to assess people's views on how to use it. I like to think of it as a caster/ melee class which is only mediocre at each of these tasks, but really shines with special abilities (gaze attack, Shadow Chains). With that in mind, here are my thoughts:
1) Grasping Darkness is interesting in that it allows you to attempt a grapple after a successful touch attack, the range of which increases as you take levels in the class. Since you're taking the Evangelist archetype and it's already been suggested to increase charisma, why not try Eldritch Heritage: Aberrant for the usual reason? You get to increase your melee touch range even more! The flavor seems solid: Zon-Kuthon is all about beauty in malformation--you could even spin it as a limb-extending body modification. At character level seventeen, when you conveniently attain your final level of Umbral (Court) Agent, your shadow chain reach increases to twenty feet and your touch attack augmentation from Aberrant increases to fifteen. The language all seems to comport with the view that you would be able to use shadow chains at a range of thirty-five feet and initiate grapple attempts! Between moonlight stalker and the +5 to the grapple check for being in darkness, you would stand a good chance of succeeding on a grapple from a huge distance.
2) On that subject, why not get a bit better at grappling? You could enter the class with only three levels of cleric. Tetori 4 is a nice break point, as you get good bonus feats, no hit to your BAB for the purposes of CMB, and amnesty from most of the normal grappling penalties (although you don't gain the grappled condition with Grasping Darkness, so that doesn't matter much). Monk (Tetori) 4/ Cleric 3 still allows earliest entry.
Most monk archetypes could work, actually; you will miss out on free Stunning Pin, but nothing is stopping you from taking it as a normal feat once you have Improved Grapple and IUS from your monk bonus feats. Monk three for maneuver mastery gives you four levels of a casting class. I agree that cleric is best (probably better than Inquisitor or Sorcerer (Empyreal), which are the other wisdom-based casters I have considered for this prestige class), although, given that Zon-Kuthon has a druidic sect dedicated to him, I wish the class didn't require a lawful evil alignment.
The monk levels drastically reduce casting ability, so I understand if this route looks unappealing.
3) A last point: I considered ways (Conductive weapon property, Domain Strike feat) to try to attach Shadow Chains as a rider to other attacks. My idea was something like this: get a conductive spiked chain, smack someone with it, then conduct Shadow Chains through and grapple a more distant opponent, imagining that you've put your spiked chain right through an opponent and are projecting your shadow chain through him/ her. However, the language for all such abilities seems to indicate that the conducted ability affects the opponent struck, so no dice. I just wanted to throw that out there in case anyone can make it work.
I hope something here appeals to you. Let us know what is decided on!
The Woodland Skirmisher archetype would allow you to prepare a druid spell (in this case, flame blade) as though it were on the ranger list. Thus, summoning a blade is accounted for with a ranger build.
I feel that monk's flurry might be a natural fit here; getting channel energy would permit Crusader's Flurry to be taken, so some kind of cleric/ monk build could prove idoneous. I believe that Gods and Magic specifies that clerics of Sarenrae can even add flame blade to their cleric spell list. Then again, if you count the weird channel that some of the animal totem druid archetypes get as "channel energy class feature," there's no need for cleric levels and one could simply get enough druid levels to summon the blade a few times a day. Guided Hand would allow one to make attack rolls with wisdom; I mention this because, if you go the monk route, since wisdom already adds to AC, basing attacks on wisdom might capture the flavor of grace and dexterity you seek.
I don't think dervish dance will work for this build in any case, since it specifies that one's off-hand must be empty. I'll not mention the possibility of alchemist levels for a third arm, as you sound committed to a certain flavor which that dip would certainly endamage or destroy. An interesting bit of cheapness: flame blade only adds a fraction of caster level to the damage roll, but is wielded "as [though it were] a scimitar," and a monk flurrying therewith adds "his [or her] full Strength bonus" to flurrying attacks. How does that interact with the spell? What about Power Attack? Such questions I have.
To cap off the build, there are a few options. Horizon walker is always nice for extending skills and melee ability. I find brother of the seal interesting for any multiclassed monk that wants to keep flurry going, but the flavor and abilities might not be felicitous here. Holy vindicator after cleric 1/ monk 8 could work for spell and melee advancement.
It looks like this character wields a katana. Others have made really good suggestions about items; I'd like to present some rough sketches for class progression. If I may make a sort of strange suggestion, I would try a Monk (Qinggong, perhaps another archetype as desired; Hungry Ghost is good, though perhaps not Good; Martial Artist could allow Weapon Specialization) with a level of Cleric, aiming toward Holy Vindicator.
There are a couple of options here. One on which I'm particularly keen is to be a cleric of Shizuru; she opens up Crusader's Flurry (katana) and Guided Hand (if you want to favor Wisdom). As far as domains, Repose's touch attack can be nice on a conductive weapon; none of the others is too great for melee (not for one level, at least), but one could always try an inquisition. If you build for Wisdom, to-hit and AC can both be quite good; Strength will of course admit higher damage at the expense of lower AC.
As far as stats, Wisdom and Strength should be primary (with the attack stat higher), then Constitution, then assign the rest as you wish. One needs Constitution for this build because it will rely on stigmata. Stigmata afford you a bonus of half your Vindicator level to attack, damage, or AC (or caster level checks or saves, but these are less exigent for this build). Thus, you'll be taking some damage each round (this can be mitigated with your own small amount of healing), but you'll have a good source of static damage to add to each hit. When you need to tank up, add stigmata's bonus to your AC instead.
Note also that there's a remarkably cheesy trick involving "wearing" but not "equipping" a buckler, throwing your channel energy into it, and gaining an extra 1 - 5 AC just from that. The wording of the Vindicator's Shield ability is ambagious enough that it would be possible, as a monk, to retain AC bonuses by not using the shield but obtain the sacred bonus. Note that this won't stack with AC from stigmata (same kind of bonus). Given time to buff, there are also cleric spells to add a bit to one's damage and/ or AC.
This build might benefit from conductive weapons and metamagic rods of quicken (to get healing and buffs out when necessary).
Then again, one could just throw Cleric out and go Sohei, flurrying with a nodachi from level 6 (it's basically a big katana, even though it is in the "polearms" group). One would build for Strength as above, and there's nothing wrong with entering a PrC, preferably after level 8 (perhaps Horizon Walker? That character looks like he has to slog through swamps a fair bit ... ).
The most recent FAQs and such seem to indicate that it is, in fact, permissible for a cleric to take an inquisition instead of a domain (d20pfsrd's inquisitions page says so, at least). Either Conversion or Heresy could work for this. As long as your other domain grants good spells, the lack of spells from the inquisition isn't much of a loss.
The other idea is, of course, to go with oracle. You'll still have full casting from the cleric list, but, crucially, you're charisma-based and you have two more skill ranks per level to work with (in fact, if you go Lore and are keen on skill ranks, you can even take the revelation that improves your intelligence). However, it seems a lot easier for an oracle to change allegiances, since he/ she is granted powers innately rather than by devotion, so you kind of lose the cool flavor of an apostate cleric losing and gaining power.