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The Gleaner
by Keith Baker
Illustrated by Rich Burlew

Krogar lived for these moments. It was an adventurer's proverb: if you sit in a tavern for long enough, excitement will come to you. Sure enough, he and his companions had barely finished the first round of drinks when a young man burst into the room, pale and covered with sweat. His eyes were wild, his skin pale, and Krogar could smell his fear.

"Quickly!" the stranger cried. "The Kenton farm!"

Krogar was already on his feet, his sword in his hand. What had brought the lad in search of a rugged band of adventurers? Raiding goblins? An ancient curse? The depredations of the restless dead? "What is it, boy?"

The farmhand glanced over at him, scrambling back a step when he saw the naked blade. "Who are you?"

"We're... we're here to solve your problem."

A throaty laugh rang out from behind him. Glancing towards the sound, Krogar saw a tall woman striding towards him. She carried no weapons and wore no armor; she was dressed in a simple robe of brown burlap, and her long auburn hair was held back by strands of ivy.

"I'd like to see you help the Kenton's mare foal with your sword, warrior," she said with a grin. "But perhaps you'd best leave this battle to me."

The use of NPC classes provides a way to make the heroes and villains of a story distinctly more powerful and versatile than the bit players, while at the same time still allowing the opportunity for interesting and distinctive NPCs. As a 4th-level expert, the old innkeeper may not be able to sneak attack or disarm traps, but he has a handful of Knowledge skills, Gather Information, Listen, and Sense Motive--all and all, a useful contact for a player character, someone who keeps his ear to the ground and knows a great deal about what's going on in the local community.

NPC classes with the ability to cast spells also allow the exploration of magic as part of civilization. If arcane and divine magic are reliable sources of power, it's a reasonable assumption that people will find ways to adapt these forces to everyday life. Many spells have practical uses to the commonfolk, from prestidigitation to continual flame. Perhaps the average person doesn't have the skill or potential to take levels in a PC class. But NPC classes bring magic to the masses. If you don't have what it takes to be a cleric, you might make it as an adept! Other published sources (wink, wink) introduce NPC classes dealing with arcane magic, such as junior wizards whose spells can people equally useful to a blacksmith, innkeeper, or professional augur.

The adept and other classes like it provide us with lesser versions of the cleric and wizard, bringing simple magic to city and village. But what about the druid? While it is technically divine magic, the natural magic of the druid and ranger has a flavor all its own, and can be used to accomplish tasks beyond the scope of the adept. In a world where magic is seen as a tool, wouldn't natural magic be turned to the needs of the farmers and the shepherds?

This article presents the gleaner, an NPC class designed to fill that gap, along with seven new spells reflecting the agricultural applications of magic. Gleaners can provide a sense of magical flavor for a rural community, a touch of color to an encounter at a farmhouse. The gleaner could also be used as the basis of a nation that shuns traditional magic; a country with a strong agricultural economy may rely on gleaners and druids, but despise wizards and other arcane practitioners. The gleaner won't have a major impact on a campaign, but if you want to develop a nation with a strong bond to druidic traditions, the gleaner may prove a useful intermediate step between the commoner and the fully powered druid or ranger.

NPC Class: The Gleaner

A gleaner possesses the supernatural gift to interact with the natural world. Her magic is similar to that of the druid, but her spell selection is more limited. A gleaner cannot choose her magical abilities: these blessings are the gifts of nature, and must be discovered and honed over time. In some regions, "gleaner" is a term of respect, and the bearer is celebrated for her gifts: such gleaners travel between hamlets and thorps, bringing good weather, blessing the harvest, and serving as midwives and medics. Such gleaners are generally intermediaries between the common folk and any fully-power druids who live in the region. However, other gleaners follow other professions, and use their magical gifts for personal gain. A stableboy who finds that he has the gift to speak to animals may go on to become a master trainer, who can calm the wildest beast with his whispered words. A massive gnome farm may have a host of 1st-level gleaners who use the farmhand spell to keep operations running like clockwork, producing food for the nearby metropolis. The traditional gleaner may have a love of the natural world, but it's not a requirement of the class; a character with find water and purify food and drink may simply use his gift for personal profit, traveling from community to community and selling his services as a dowser. Gleaners need to spend time in meditation to regain their spells, but this is not the same as the devotion of a druid... although a specific gleaner may certainly add druidic trappings to her rituals, if she shares the druidic faith.

The gleaner is an NPC class, and is not balanced with player characters in mind. However, druids and rangers can make use of many of the new spells provided at the end of the article, some of which can prove useful when seeking the favor of a rural community.

The Gleaner

Gleaners have the following game statistics.
Abilities: Wisdom is the most important ability score for the gleaner, as it governs their special magic. Charisma is also useful, as it improves their ability to empathize with animals. A good Intelligence would be helpful for giving them a wider range of agricultural skills. While the physical ability scores rarely help the gleaner in their chosen profession, many have high Strength scores as a result of a lifetime of farm work.
Alignment: Any. Unlike druids, gleaners are just as likely to identify more strongly with the community they serve as with Nature as an abstract force.
Starting Gold: 3d4 x 10 (75 gp)
Hit Dice: d4

Class Skills
The gleaner's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Handle Animal (Cha), Heal (Wis), Knowledge (nature) (Int), Listen (Wis), Profession (Wis), and Survival (Wis).
Skill Points at 1st Level: (2 + Int modifier) x4
Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 2 + Int modifier

Class Features
All of the following are class features of the gleaner NPC class.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Gleaners are skilled with all simple weapons. Gleaners are not proficient with any type of armor nor with shields.

Spells: A gleaner casts divine spells drawn from the gleaner spell list (see below). He can cast any spell he knows without preparing it ahead of time.

To cast a spell, a gleaner must have a Wisdom score equal to at least 10 + the spell level. The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against an gleaner's spell is 10 + the spell level + the gleaner's Wisdom modifier.

Gleaners prepare their spells through meditation and communion with the natural world. A gleaner must choose a time each day at which he must spend an hour in quiet contemplation or supplication to regain his daily allotment of spells. Time spent resting has no effect on whether a gleaner can prepare spells.

Like other spellcasters, a gleaner can cast only a certain number of spells of each spell level per day, as shown on the table above. In addition, he receives bonus spells per day if he has a high Wisdom score.

Unlike a druid or ranger, a gleaner's spell selection is limited. At 1st-level, a gleaner possesses knowledge of three 0-level spells and two 1st-level spells. As he gains experience, he learns new spells, as shown on table 1-2.

Many of the gleaner's spells require a divine focus. If the gleaner follows another profession, such as the farmer who has found he has a gift for speaking with animals (commoner 2/gleaner 1), this could be anything: it is a personal item that the character uses as an aid in meditation, and not something that will be easily recognized by others. Gleaners who actively pursue the spiritual path as their profession often use a quarterstaff covered with ivy as a divine focus. The ivy is maintained through the gleaner's faith, and this helps other members of the community recognize the gleaner's abilities.

Wild Empathy (Ex): A gleaner can improve the attitude of an animal. This ability functions just like a Diplomacy check made to improve the attitude of a person. The gleaner rolls 1d20 and adds his gleaner level (maximum +10) and his Charisma modifier to determine the wild empathy check result. If the gleaner has levels in another class that provides wild empathy, his levels in gleaner stack with those levels to determine his total modifier to his check. In this case, he can exceed the +10 limit with his total combined wild empathy check, though he still cannot gain more than +10 to his check as a result of gleaner levels.

To use wild empathy, the gleaner and the animal must be able to study each other, which means that they must be within 30 feet of one another under normal conditions. Generally, influencing an animal in this way takes 1 minute but, as with influencing people, it might take more or less time.

A gleaner can also use this ability to influence a magical beast with an Intelligence score of 1 or 2, but he takes a -4 penalty on the check.

Blessed Beast (Ex): At 3rd level a gleaner forms a bond to a particular creature. This connection helps to improve the health of the bonded beast, and provides a variety of minor benefits. A blessed beast is similar to the animal companion of a druid or ranger, but its abilities are not directly linked to level of the gleaner. Instead, every four levels the gleaner gains the ability to place a new blessing. He can either bless an additional beast, or he can stack his blessings on one of his existing companions, increasing its powers. So at 11th level, a gleaner could have three beasts with one blessing apiece, one beast with three blessings, or one beast with one blessing and one beast with two. Blessings from multiple gleaners do not stack; once one gleaner has touched an animal, another cannot affect it until the blessing is removed. A gleaner also cannot provide a blessing to an animal that has been bonded as an animal companion, even if it is the gleaner's own animal companion (as in the case of a multiclass ranger/gleaner or druid/gleaner). Animals that have been awakened or otherwise taken on the augmented creature subtype (such as a familiar) are also ineligible to receive the gleaner's blessing. A gleaner cannot place a blessing on an animal that is a polymorphed creature of another type.

Each blessing provides the creature with the following cumulative effects: +2 Hit Dice; a +2 increase to its natural armor bonus to AC; a +1 inherent bonus to Strength and Constitution; and one bonus trick, which does not count against the maximum of tricks it can be taught using Handle Animal. Additional Hit Dice are as per the Animal creature type and provide all standard bonuses for advancement, including saving throws, attack bonus, and skills. In addition, each blessing allows the gleaner to grant one of the following special abilities: Champion, Devotion, Fertility, Empathic Link, or Share Spells. These abilities are described below.

The ritual of blessing requires eight hours, and the gleaner must have access to the beast that is to be blessed. The creature must have a friendly attitude towards the gleaner; otherwise the ritual will fail. If the blessed beast dies, or if the gleaner removes the blessing by choice, he must wait four months before he can apply that blessing to another creature.

A gleaner can bless any beast from the following list: bison, camel, cat, dog, riding dog, donkey, eagle, hawk, horse (light or heavy), owl, or pony. At the DM's discretion, a gleaner can bless any other animal that is commonly domesticated or associated with the people of his region: cattle or oxen are common choices, and can use bison statistics; others might include pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, or animals unique to the campaign setting. A gleaner cannot bless an animal with more hit dice than the gleaner himself (including hit dice added by the blessing). So in a region where elephants (9 HD) are commonly domesticated, an 11th-level gleaner could lay a single blessing on an elephant; at 13th-level he could place a second blessing on it, provided he had one to spare.

As the gleaner must acquire the beast through normal means, it is up to the DM to determine the abilities of the animal prior to the blessing..

Druidic Insight: The secret language shared by the druids is a mystery closely tied to the study of natural magic. A gleaner of 4th level or above can spend one skill point to learn the Druidic language.

The Gleaner's Blessings

In addition to enhancing a creature's physical abilities, each blessing allows a gleaner to imbue an animal with one of the following special abilities.
Champion (Ex): A blessed beast has an intangible aura that makes it stand out from others of its kind. Its fur or feathers shine, its eyes are always bright, and it is remarkably responsive to training. The creature receives a +2 inherent bonus to Charisma, and a gleaner receives a +2 circumstance bonus whenever he makes a Handle Animal or wild empathy check involving a champion.
Devotion (Ex): A blessed beast gains a +4 morale bonus on Will saves against mind-affecting spells and effects.
Fertility (Ex): A beast with this blessing is extremely fertile or virile. When the animal is bred, the chance of successful conception is tripled. In addition, the conception is likely to produce an above-average number of offspring; this could mean twins for animals that normally have single births, or eight or nine children for animals that have litters. A female animal with this trait also produces an exceptional amount of milk or lays a remarkable number of eggs, depending on its species. A farmer, herder, stablehand, or other character who works with animals is finds that such animals increase the efficiency of their work and vastly increase their profitability. When making a Profession skill check to earn a weekly income gains a +4 bonus to their check for every animal in their possession with the Fertility blessing.
Empathic Link (Ex): A gleaner can handle his animal companion as a free action, or push it as a move action, even if she doesn't have any ranks in the Handle Animal skill. The gleaner gains a +4 circumstance bonus on all wild empathy checks and Handle Animal checks made involving his blessed beasts; this does not stack with the bonus from the Champion trait.
Share Spells (Ex): The gleaner may choose to have any spell he casts upon himself also affect one of his blessed beast with this ability. The blessed beast must be within 5 feet at the time of casting. If the spell or effect has a duration other than instantaneous, it stops affecting the blessed beast if the animal moves farther than 5 feet away and will not affect the beast again, even if it returns to the gleaner before the duration expires. Additionally, the gleaner may cast a spell with a target of "You" on a blessed beast with this ability (as a touch range spell) instead of on himself. A gleaner and his blessed beasts can share spells even if the spells normally do not affect creatures of the beast's type (Animal).

Gleaner Spell List
* This is a new spell, described later in this article.

0-Level Gleaner Spells
Arcane Mark: Inscribes a personal rune (visible or invisible).
Create Water: Creates 2 gallons/level of pure water.
Cure Minor Wounds: Cures 1 point of damage.
Farmhand*: Performs minor chores.
Know Direction: You discern north.
Light: Object shines like a torch.
Mending: Makes minor repairs on an object.
Purify Food and Drink: Purifies 1 cu. ft./level of food or water.

1st-Level Gleaner Spells
Blessed Birth*: Ensures the health of mother and child.
Calm Animals: Calms (2d4 + level) HD of animals.
Detect Animals or Plants: Detects kinds of animals or plants.
Endure Elements: Exist comfortably in hot or cold environments.
Goodberry: 2d4 berries each cure 1 hp (max 8 hp/24 hours).
Hide from Animals: Animals can't perceive one subject/level.
Locate Water*: Locate nearby bodies of water.
Obscuring Mist: Fog surrounds you.
Pass without Trace: One subject/level leaves no tracks.
Purify Animals and Plants*: Eliminate minor afflictions.
Shillelagh: Cudgel or quarterstaff becomes +1 weapon (1d10 damage) for 1 min./level.
Sow*: Disseminate seeds into soil.
Speak with Animals: You can communicate with animals.

2nd-Level Gleaner Spells
Animal Messenger: Sends a Tiny animal to a specific place.
Animal Trance: Fascinates 2d6 HD of animals.
Cure Light Wounds: Cures 1d8 damage +1/level (max +5).
Delay Poison: Stops poison from harming subject for 1 hour/level.
Fog Cloud: Fog obscures vision.
Gust of Wind: Blows away or knocks down smaller creatures.
Hold Animal: Paralyzes one animal for 1 round/level.
Restoration, Lesser: Dispels magical ability penalty or repairs 1d4 ability damage.
Soften Earth and Stone: Turns stone to clay or dirt to sand or mud.
Speak with Plants: You can talk to normal plants and plant creatures.
Tree Shape: You look exactly like a tree for 1 hour/level.
Wood Shape: Rearranges wooden objects to suit you.

3rd-Level Gleaner Spells
Call Lightning: Calls down lightning bolts (3d6 per bolt) from sky.
Calm Animals, Greater*: Calms (2d4 + 5+ level) HD of animals.
Cure Moderate Wounds: Cures 2d8 damage +1/level (max +10).
Daylight: 60-ft. radius of bright light.
Dominate Animal: Subject animal obeys silent mental commands.
Neutralize Poison: Immunizes subject against poison, detoxifies venom in or on subject.
Plant Growth: Grows vegetation, improves crops.
Quench: Extinguishes nonmagical fires or one magic item.
Remove Disease: Cures all diseases affecting subject.
Snare: Creates a magic booby trap.
Soothe the Thirsty Soil*: Generates a light shower.
Stone Shape: Sculpts stone into any shape.
Wind Wall: Deflects arrows, smaller creatures, and gases.

4th-Level Gleaner Spells
Command Plants: Sway the actions of one or more plant creatures.
Commune with Nature: Learn about terrain for 1 mile/level.
Control Water: Raises or lowers bodies of water.
Control Winds: Change wind direction and speed.
Cure Serious Wounds: Cures 3d8 damage +1/level (max +15).
Repel Vermin: Insects, spiders, and other vermin stay 10 ft. away.
Wall of Thorns: Thorns damage anyone who tries to pass.

5th-Level Gleaner Spells
Call Lightning Storm: As call lightning, but 5d6 damage per bolt.
Control Weather: Changes weather in local area.
Cure Critical Wounds: Cures 4d8 damage +1/level (max +20).
Liveoak: Oak becomes treant guardian.
Move Earth: Digs trenches and builds hills.
Stone Tell: Talk to natural or worked stone.
Tree Stride: Step from one tree to another far away.

New Gleaner Spells

Blessed Birth
Conjuration (Healing)
Level: Clr 1, Drd 1, Gleaner 1
Components: V, S, DF
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Touch
Target: Pregnant creature touched
Duration: 24 hours
Saving Throw: Will negates (harmless)
Spell Resistance: Yes (harmless)

You channel positive energy to ease the birthing process of any mother to be. If a child is born while the mother is under the influence of this spell, the birth will be swift, pain will be limited, and chances of survival are greatly increased. This spell also provides the subject with a +3 resistance bonus to Fortitude and Will saving throws against effects based on extreme pain, such as symbol of pain or recall agony.

Calm Animals, Greater
Enchantment (Compulsion) [Mind-Affecting]
Level: Drd 3, Gleaner 3
Components: V, S, DF
Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Targets: Animals within 30 ft. of each other
Duration: 10 min./level

This spell functions like calm animals except as noted above. It affects 2d4+5+caster level hit dice of creatures.

Level: Drd 0, Rgr 1, Gleaner 0
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: 10 ft.
Target, Effect, or Area: See text
Duration: 1 hour
Saving Throw: See text
Spell Resistance: No

The farmhand spell encompasses a host of minor, practical effects. Once cast, farmhand allows you to perform simple magical effects for one hour. Farmhand can clean items, locations, or creatures within a one-foot cube each round; this is used to clean livestock, to muck stables, and keep rust off tools. It can chill or warm items in a 1 foot cube each round: this effect is minor and will not cause harm or affect concentration, but is the perfect thing for warming hands before milking. It can moisten an object within a one-foot cube each round, allowing the caster to water plants. In general, prestidigitation should be used as a guideline for what can be done with farmhand, but the spell cannot color, soil, or create material objects - and it can be used to clean or warm living material.

Locate Water
Level: Drd 1, Rgr 1, Diviner 1, Gleaner 1
Components: V, S, F/DF
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Long (400 ft. + 40 ft./level)
Area: Circle, centered on you, with a radius of 400 ft. + 40 ft./level
Duration: 10 min./level
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No

This spell is similar to locate object, but it can only be used to find water. The caster can specify a minimum volume of water that will trigger the spell and whether the water must be potable; he will then be drawn to the nearest source of water that meets these conditions. Once the spell has been cast, the diviner can move about and take other actions; the spell will trigger as soon as the caster comes within range of a valid target. Even a thin sheet of lead will block this spell.

Focus: A forked twig.

Purify Plants and Animals
Conjuration (Healing)
Level: Clr 1, Drd 1, Gleaner 1
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Area: Four 5-ft squares/level
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Will negates (harmless)
Spell Resistance: Yes (harmless)

A weaker form of remove disease, this ritual removes minor afflictions from all animals or noncreature plants within the area of effect, including parasites and ailments that are not significant enough to be considered "diseases" under the normal rules. While such conditions are rarely significant enough to have game effects, crops and animals protected by regular applications of this spell will remain in peak condition. A farm or herd that has had a majority of its animals or plants treated with this spell will add a +2 circumstance bonus to any Profession (farmer) or Profession (herder) skill checks made to earn weekly income from it for the next four such checks. Furthermore, subjects receive a +3 circumstance bonus to any saving throw against disease made over the course of the next 24 hours after this spell is cast.

Soothe the Thirsty Soil
Level: Drd 4, Gleaner 3
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 10 minutes
Area: 1/2-mile-radius circle, centered on you
Duration: 1d4 hours
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No

A weak form of control weather, this spell allows you to summon a rain shower (or snow flurry, if local temperatures are below freezing). If cast during an existing rain shower, this spell strengthens it into a thunderstorm. You cannot strengthen a thunderstorm into a hurricane using this spell, however, and you cannot use this spell to strengthen a shower that itself was created by this spell. Once the spell has been cast, it is beyond your control; you cannot calm the storm that you summon.

If the local temperature is below freezing, this spell summons a snow flurry or strengthens a flurry into a snowstorm. It cannot strengthen a snowstorm into a blizzard.

Level: Drd 1, Gleaner 1
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Target: One 10-ft square/round
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute/level
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: Yes (harmless)

This ritual allows you to spread seeds across a region of arable land. Each round that you maintain the spell, you can scatter seeds across a new five-foot area. Through the magic of sow, the seeds sink to an optimum distance and are spread in the precise pattern you desire. These seeds must grow naturally, and seeds sown in barren land will not bear fruit.

Material Component: The seeds to be sown.

Keith Baker is a talented game designer and novelist who has written work for Atlas Games, Goodman Games, Green Ronin Games, and Wizards of the Coast. His card game, Gloom, won the 2005 Origins Award for Traditional Game of the Year. He also designed some campaign setting or something. At long last, his will has been crushed beneath the iron heel of his archnemesis, Rich Burlew, and he has been chained to a desk somewhere in Colorado to churn out fodder for this website. His bizarre cow fixation is frequently on display at his personal website, www.bossythecow.com.

Rich Burlew can't draw anything but crappy stick figures.

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All Open Game Content is contained within shaded boxes. Open Game Content on this page is copyright 2006 by Keith Baker.