The H.I.V.E.

The H.I.V.E. – Hyper Intelligent Vermin Enclave

Disclaimer: This is not my work; everything is written by SigmaJargon. I tried to duplicate his original formatting as much as I could.

Original Flavor

You want to be a mage of unsurpassed power? You might try being a cleric.

NOTE: The use of UMD in the fashion described in this build is highly contested. For a non-contested version, please see the Child of Winter Flavor build below. The Original Flavor is being kept as is for historical purposes.

Magic-Blooded Human

Human Paragon 1 / Marshal 1 / Cleric 1 / Human Paragon 2 / Cleric 4 / Vermin Lord 10 / Fang of Lolth 1

The trick here is to use the Verminlord’s 10th level ability, Hivemind(Su) to produce a hivemind with as many creatures as possible.

You are only limited by the number of swarms you can summon and control to keep within a 10’ radius of you long enough to activate the hivemind ability (the ability does not specify how long it takes, so it is more than reasonable to assume it takes a standard action).

Unfortunately, only so many creatures can fit in a 10’ radius from you. Swarms offer an interesting exception to the normal space rules, however. Normally, only 100 fine creatures can fit in a square, but in a swarm, 2,500 fine creatures fit in a square. You could stack multiple swarms in the same square, though they'd deal damage to each other, so they cannot live in such conditions very long.

Enough rambling. Here is what you do: Use the Human Paragon’s adaptive learning to nab yourself UMD as a class skill for all your classes. As a marshal, grab Inspire Charisma. At level 20, you should have a charisma of 40 (18 base + 6 item + 5 level + 5 tome + 2 magic-blooded + 2 human paragon + 2 age).

So, your UMD check will be:
23 base
+ 15 cha
+ 15 inspire cha
+ 30 skill item (competence)
+ 23 item familiar
+ 2 Magical Aptitude
+ 3 Skill Focus
+ 4 Fang of Lolth

Grab yourself a Staff of Gate. Use UMD to emulate spellcasting as if you were a (check-20) level cleric, and then summon as many Wasp Swarms (Fiend Folio, 4HD swarms of fine creatures) as possible. Don't go for contract service - you only need them for about a round, and then they will obey you forever thereafter

The minimum result on the UMD check is 115 + 1 – 20 = emulated caster level 96, or enough spellcasting power to summon and control 24 wasp swarms. The average result is 115 + 10 - 20 = 105, or 26 wasp swarms. The maximum result is 115 + 20 – 20 = 115, or 26 wasp swarms.

As per the hivemind rules in the BoVD, the resulting hivemind will have stats of:

Minimum: (24 swarms, 240,000 creatures)
Int: 4807 +2398
Cha: 4804 +2397
Bonus Feats/Skill Points per HD: 2398
Casts Spells as a 4787 Level Sorcerer

Bonus Sorcerer Spells by Spell Level
-1- -2- -3- -4- -5- -6- -7- -8- -9-

Average: (26 swarms, 260,000 creatures)
Int: 5207 +2598
Cha: 5204 +2597
Bonus Feats, Bonus Skill Points per HD: 2598
Casts Spells as a 5187 Level Sorcerer

Bonus Sorcerer Spells by Spell Level
-1- -2- -3- -4- -5- -6- -7- -8- -9-

Best: (28 swarms, 280,000 creatures)
Int: 5607 +2798
Cha: 5604 +2797
Bonus Feats/Skill Points per HD: 2798
Casts Spells as a 5587 Level Sorcerer

Bonus Sorcerer Spells by Spell Level
-1- -2- -3- -4- -5- -6- -7- -8- -9-

While all the swarms have to be within the 10’ radius when the hivemind is formed, you can send them elsewhere afterwards. Keep in mind that you can keep the swarms in the material plane for an indefinite period. As per the Hivemind ability, you control the hivemind, so negotiating for extended service will be rather easier than normal.

So what do you gain out of the deal? You don't gain the intelligence and charisma of the swarm, but you gain all the other benefits - including an astronomical number of feats and skill points, and access to an earth-shatteringly powerful pool of sorcerer spell-casting ability.

And as icing on the cake, you cast spells as a 13th level cleric as well.

Magic-Blooded Template (Dragon Magazine 306)
Human Paragon class (Unearthed Arcana)
Item Familiar feat (Unearthed Arcana)
Marshal class (Miniatures Handbook)
Vermin Lord prestige class (Book of Vile Darkness)
Fang of Lloth prestige class (Song and Silence)
Swarm, Wasp creature (Fiend Folio)
Everything else is Core, methinks.

EDIT: Spelling and added in the Wasp Swarm to the bibliography. Added in Item Familiar feat and recalculated everything. Any ideas on how to bring the UMD check up a bit more?

Child of Winter Flavor:

A Child of Winter H.I.V.E. is very similar to the Original Flavor, but it relies on the use of the Child of Winter feat from Ebberon rather than UMD and a Staff of Gate. The basic Child of Winter build would be as simple as:

Human Druid 10 / Vermin Lord 10

The strength of this build comes from the ability to summon locust swarms using Summon Nature's Ally, which lasts 1 round / level. (Use extend spell to boost this in times of need.)

I won't bother working out the maximums, as they can vary wildly depending on what equipment one uses to raise the caster level. In theory, one could work with a UMD build and use a staff to send the caster level through the roof, but that seems rather cumbersome when compared to the druid who quickens a SNA to create a hivemind of 20,000 creatures (vermin companion + summoned locust swarm), with a caster level of 387 or so.


Q: Doesn't the intelligence and charisma of the hivemind remain unchanged?
A: No, the intelligence and the charisma of the hivemind formed change, but the intelligence and charisma of the Vermin Lord themselves do not change. However, if you have a Vermin Lord cohort, he/she can include you in a hivemind, provided you wildshape/polymorph/whatever into the appropriate race. If the hivemind is used this way, your character does gain the increased intelligence and charisma.

Q: Does the Vermin Lord gain the skills and feats granted to creatures in a hivemind?
A: There are two camps on this issue, but my answer is yes. The BoVD states that creatures in a hivemind gain one feat and skill point per hit die "for every point of intelligence bonus possessed by the hivemind." As the hivemind in general possess the high intelligence and charisma, it is more than reasonable to say that the Vermin Lord gains the appropriate feats and skill points.

Q: Can the Vermin Lord form more than one hivemind at a time?
A: No, the text in the 10th level ability seems to limit the Vermin Lord to one hivemind at a time.

Q: How do you fit so many vermin in such a small area?

Quote: Originally Posted by SRD
In general, when the characters aren’t engaged in round-by-round combat, they should be able to move anywhere and in any manner that you can imagine real people could. A 5-foot square, for instance, can hold several characters; they just can’t all fight effectively in that small space. The rules for movement are important for combat, but outside combat they can impose unnecessary hindrances on character activities.

This works for out of combat hivemind making. In combat, you can only fit a couple swarms in the required area. Still, even a single fine swarm hivemind is enough to blow away just about anything.

Q: Can the hivemind take epic feats?
A: Perhaps. This one is entirely up to DM's call. Certainly, the hivemind possess many sorcerer levels, but whether the virtual levels the hivemind gains is enough to qualify for epic feats is not really discussed in the hivemind description.

Q: Does UMD work the way you say it does? Can you really use staves like that with the insane caster level?
A: Ack. You ask the hard question. Truthfully, the issue is under deep, deep debate. The topic was discussed at length in Interested2's Stafficer thread, which was eventually locked when the discussion disintegrated into flames. The issue has also been discussed more recently in the Why does the myth of UMD for caster level persist? thread and the Throwin' down the gauntlet: Staffs & Artificers thread. Some say yes and some say no. However, the Vermin Lord still functions via Summon Nature's Ally + Child of Winter.

Q: Don't swarms count as a single creature?

Quote: Originally Posted by SRD
A swarm of Tiny creatures consists of 300 nonflying creatures or 1,000 flying creatures. A swarm of Diminutive creatures consists of 1,500 nonflying creatures or 5,000 flying creatures. A swarm of Fine creatures consists of 10,000 creatures, whether they are flying or not.

Q: Doesn't the hivemind dissipate after a while?
A: Using a Child of Winter variant, yes. Using a Staff of Gate variant, you can contractually gain control of the swarms. Simply give them a dead cow and the instruction to stay put for a moment, and poof! you have a hivemind. Recall that you control them now, and can thus compel them to remain.

Q: Throughout the text of the hivemind as described in BoVD, it refers to a hivemind 'a swarm' or 'the swarm.' Can a hivemind be only formed of a single swarm then?
A: Not at all - the hivemind can be as many swarms as you want. All of the instance where the hivemind is referred to as a swarm or the swarm are examples. They show possibilities of things you CAN do with the hivemind, not what you MUST do. Its like the example characters for prestige classes in all the recent books. You CAN qualify for the PrC the exact same way the example does, but you don't have to, if you think of a different class combo that does the same thing in terms of BAB, skill ranks, or whatever. The requirements are spelled out quite firmly near the beginning of the hivemind entry, and that is all that is required to form a hivemind. As these rules do not state that a hivemind must be formed of a single swarm, it is not limited by such a supposition.

Q: Can't the swarms be blown away by a Supernatural Gust of Wind?
A: ... yes. It is one of the few weakness of the build.

Q: What happens when a Vermin Lord goes into an Anti-Magic Field?
A: As Hivemind is a supernatural ability, it is suppressed while in an AMF. Thus, the hivemind is disbanded while the Vermin Lord is in the AMF. When he leaves, however, the hivemind is restored.

Q: Can the hivemind cast multiple spells each round?
A: Yes, each component creature can cast spells separately, though the spells are drawn from the same pool of spell/day. E.g., a hivemind of 4 locust swarms can cast four spells a round. (Why can't each individual locust cast a spell seperately? Because each seperate locust does not gain actions every round - only the swarm as a whole does. If the locusts in a swarm could each take seperate actions, then they each could cast a spell by using a standard action. However, as only the swarm gains actions under the current rules, only the swarm as a whole can cast a spell.)


  1. I recall a related build, which starts like this then upon hitting epic you become a Worm That Walks so you're part of your own swarm, getting access to all those stat boosts yourself.

    Does that actually work, or was it debunked?


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