View Full Version : [PrC, PEACH] Ooky Spooky

2009-02-12, 11:00 PM

"Do you burn crops? Do you have your way with helpless maidens, ransack villages for their meager funds, or push peasants around because they can't push back? Don't bother looking over your shoulder. You'll never see me."
Varian Smith, a Spook

Marcus was walking alone after a night at the bar, a bright red slap mark on his face. Damn wench, refusing him again. Damn barman, telling him to get off of her. Damn them all anyway. He'd have his way with the miller's daughter again tonight, that's what he'd do.

It wasn't until he got into the old woods that he felt uneasy, like he was being watched.

His screams - and his grabbing hands - would never reach the village.

Spooks are a secretive group of vigilantes and assasins that use fear as their primary weapon. Recruited from the ranks of ordinary people in ordinary villages, Spooks are the local protectors, the guardians in the dark. Founded under the idea that even the most humble of men can be a terror and that a village should not have to rely on the kindness - or cruelty - of adventuring parties for its protection, Spooks represent the might of the ordinary and a cold lesson in spreading fear to those they destroy.

Becoming a Spook
All Spooks have backgrounds as ordinary people; the Spooks won't train someone who doesn't have the humility and perspective they deem necessary. Other than that, many Spooks have or had levels in Rogue, and more Spooks are Experts than they are Commoners. Many Spooks are lawful, and some are even good, but alignment tendencies tend to depend on how one was trained.

Class Levels: Commoner or Expert 5
Base Attack Bonues: +2
Skills: Hide 4 ranks, Move Silently 4 ranks, Knowledge (Local, Geography, History, or Arcana) 4 ranks
Feats: Stealthy, Weapon Focus (Dagger)
Special: The character must be inducted into the Spooks, a process that typically involves their kidnapping and a forced training regimen disguised in various fashions (from doing chores to hiking long distances and many other creative "tortures").

Class Skills
The Class Name's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are:
Balance (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Trapmaking) (Int), Disable Device (Int), Disguise (Cha), Forgery (Int), Hide (Dex), Knowledge (Arcana) (Int), Knowledge (Geography) (Int), Knowledge (History) (Int), Knowledge (Local) (Int), Move Silently (Dex), Open Lock (Dex), Swim (Str), Survival (Wis), Use Rope (Dex)
Skills Points at Each Level: 4 + Intelligence modifier

Hit Dice: D4

{table=head]Level|Base Attack Bonus|Fort Save|Ref Save|Will Save|Special

+0|Tendon Slice

+0|Unnerving Glare (-1)

+1|Sudden Strike +1d6

+1|Stalker's Stride, Unnerving Glare (-2)

+1|Induce Paranoia

+2|Rip Muscle, Unnerving Glare (-3), Sudden Strike +2d6

+2|Fear Immunity

+2|Spook Shroud, Unnerving Glare (-4)

+2|Eviscerate, Sudden Strike +3d6

+3|Poltergeist's Wrath, Unnerving Glare (-5)

Weapon and Armor Proficiencies Proficiencies: Spooks are familiar with all simple weapons and light armor, but not with shields.

Tendon Slice (Ex): A Spook's job involves putting fear into his opponents, and for that he must first be able to control their actions - such as preventing them from running away. Whenever the Spook attacks a flat-footed opponent with a dagger, they may choose to take a -2 penalty to their attack roll and aim for the tendons. If they hit and deal damage, the victim's land speed is reduced by 50% until a successful application of the Heal skill (DC 20) or healing magic is applied. Multiple uses of Tendon Slice do not stack.

Unnerving Glare (Ex): A Spook quickly masters the art of an intimidating presence. Opponents who look a level two or higher Spook in the face become unnerved and uneasy, receiving a -1 penalty to all attack rolls, damage rolls, skill checks, and saving throws made against the Spook or relating to the Spook (such as a reflex save vs. one of the Spook's spells). This penalty increases to -2 at fourth level, -3 at sixth level, -4 at eighth level and -5 at tenth level. This is a mind-affecting, fear effect that is treated as a gaze attack.

Sudden Strike (Ex): Spooks strike from ambush, learning to take advantage of their victim's surprise. At third level or higher, whenever a Spook attacks a flat-footed opponent, they deal an additional 1d6 points of damage. This damage only applies to living creatures with a discernable anatomy, and any creature immune to critical hits is also immune to this ability (see the Ninja class feature). This damage increases to 2d6 at level six, and 3d6 at level nine.

Stalker's Stride (Su): At fourth level, the Spook becomes more intimately connected to creeping dread and darkness. He may move his full speed without penalty when using the Hide and Move Silently skills. Attempts to track him while his actively hiding or moving silently suffer a -10 circumstance penalty.

Induce Paranoia (Su): As he advances in his arts, the Spook becomes more and more intimately connected with fear. Once per day per point of charisma modifier, the Spook may declare that he is stalking a particular being. As long as that being remains in sight and is unaware of the Spook, it feels a sense of creeping dread, suffering a -1 fear penalty on all rolls. If the Spook makes an active effort to scare the victim, the penalty increases by one half of the Spook's class level, rounded down. Once the victim is aware of the Spook, the penalty dissapates in a number of rounds equal to the Spook's charisma modifier. This ability can affect beings otherwise immune to fear, but they suffer only half the normal penalty, rounded down. This is a mind-affecting, fear effect.

Rip Muscle (Ex): Starting at sixth level, whenever the Spook attacks a flat-footed opponent, they may choose to forgo one die of Sudden Strike damage to inflict a point of Strength damage on their victim. This damage only applies to living creatures with a discernable anatomy, and any creature immune to critical hits is also immune to this ability. The Spook may only use this ability while weilding a dagger, and they may not forgo more than one die to use this ability, but he may choose to combine it with Eviscerate and/or Tendon Slice.

Fear Immunity (Ex): Starting at seventh level, the Spook is immune to fear.

Spook Shroud (Su): The Spook may wrap himself in fear like a cloak, and vanish from his enemies' perceptions thereby. Starting at level eight, once per encounter, the Spook may activate this ability, gaining total concealment from any being that is currently suffering a fear penalty or under a fear effect. All other beings may see the Spook normally, and the Spook may see them. The Spook may use the Hide skill while using this ability, but unless he has some other form of concealment, the use of the skill is only effective against beings suffering from a fear penalty or under a fear effect. This ability lasts a number of rounds equal to the Spook's class level.

Eviscerate (Ex): Starting at level nine, the Spook becomes sickeningly lethal with his daggers. Whenever he strikes a flat-footed opponent while using a dagger, he may choose to forgo two die of Sudden Strike damage to deal one point of constitution damage to his victim. This damage only applies to living creatures with a discernable anatomy, and any creature immune to critical hits is also immune to this ability. The Spook may not choose to forgo more than two die when using this ability, but they may choose to combine it with Rip Muscle and/or Tendon Slice.

Poltergiest's Wrath (Su): At tenth level, the Spook learns the pinnacle of his arts - the art of the poltergiest. Once per day, for a number of rounds equal to his Charisma modifier, he may choose to make himself incorporeal. The Spook may still affect the world around him as though he were corporeal; that is, he may still touch objects if he chooses to, still possesses a strength score, may still wear his equipment, et cetera. He may selectively apply this ability to, for example, be immune to enemy attacks but still recieve beneficial touch spells from allies. Once the Spook becomes fully corporeal again, he becomes exhausted due to the shock of being dropped back into the physical realm.

Playing a Spook
Spooks are subtle characters, first and foremost; their strategies and tactics emphasize getting the most amount of results from the least amount of effort. Spooks stalk targets for long periods of time before striking and generally keep themselves out of harm's way and - preferably - out of sight.
Combat: Ambush is the Spook's modus operandi; striking from ambush lets him take advantage of his Tendon Slice, Rip Muscle, Sudden Strike and Eviscerate abilities and keeps his low hit points out of harm's way. When caught in direct combat, Spooks usually go one of two routes; mobility or feinting. A Spook who can get a Tendon Slice on an opponent can dance around them for the remainder of the battle, whittling down their health slowly. Other Spooks use feints to catch their opponents flat-footed, ripping them to shreds with Sudden Strike damage. All Spooks play up the fear penalties from their Unnerving Gaze and Induce Paranoia abilities whenever they can. Spooks typically make use of their Poltergiest's Wrath ability when they are "done playing games" and wish to finish their victim in a dramatic fashion.
Advancement: Many Spooks take levels in heroic classes after they finish advancing as a Spook, typically in Rogue or Fighter, though a few Spooks take levels in Assasin to complement their ambush tactics. Spooks tend to avoid classes that are too extraordinary, such as Hexblade, Wizard, or Spellthief; a Spook's inground humility doesn't mesh well with the exotic nature of such classes.
Resources: Spooks either operate locally, with other Spooks, or with an adventuring party, and so they cannot expect much in the way of direct resources. Spooks do share information with each other, though, and any Spook can reasonably expect to get knowledge on the local troublemakers, gangs, and ne'er-do-wells from any other Spook - if they can find one.

Spooks in the World
"Varian was always kinda creepy, sure, but I wasn't expecting that!"
Tordek, after witnessing Varian use his Poltergeist's Wrath ability.

Spooks as a whole don't stand out; their existence isn't public knowledge. They aren't a well-guarded secret, but rather one that just sort of exists - few bother to look, so few actually find. Of those that are aware of the Spooks, most view them as dangerous vigilantes or peasants with dangerous delusions of power. Every now and then, a noble will send a knight or a company to root out a Spook or a group thereof; such attempts are rarely successful.
Daily Life: Most Spooks are local people who were recruited to help protect their community, and so they live normal, every day lives during the daylight hours (though many Spooks instead sleep during the day if they are particularly busy). A Spook's routine only changes if there is a concrete threat to his community, at which point the Spook begins the stalk and, eventually, the kill.
Notables: The first Spook was a woman name Maria Vain, an elven robber-mage who was fascinated with human fear. Though initially a simple bandit, she was eventually picked up by an adventuring party and became a worshipper of Pelor. When she retired to a small village that owed she and her friends a favor, she began researching more about the nature of fear. It is from her research that the Spooks were born, and her vigorous efforts continue spreading the phenomenon. Her philosiphy of protection over good or evil gave rise to the Spook's orginal training regimen, and even today many Spooks are lawful, but neither good nor evil.

The village of Nalanden is protected by a group of Spooks known reverently as the Haunts. Rumor has it that the Haunts have defended their village from rampaging giants, demonic hordes, dragons, and even more impressive enemies. Some Spooks take a pilgrimage to Nalanden to try and learn from these masters of terror; those who succeed in finding them always leave both disturbed and educated.

Organizations: There are no major organizations that promote the Spooks; they are a grass-roots phenomenon that is supported by a single, albeit powerful, wizard.

NPC Reaction
Those who know of Spooks consider them either to be guardian angels or dangerous vigilantes; typically, the commoners view them as guardians and the nobles view them as dangerous. The Spooks themselves do their best to appear ordinary whenever they can, however, and are typically treated as a member of another class (usually Commoner or Expert).

Spooks in the Game
Spooks are battlefield control and damage; they excel when allowed to do their own thing. Typically, they fill the role of a rogue or ranger in combat, and outside of combat they excel at shadowing, spying, and breaking-and-entering.
Adaptation: Spooks could easily be adapted to be an assasin's guild, a group of vigilantes or even government enforcers - the possibilities run deep. Adapting them in this fashion means changing their entry requirements to be a bit more stiff, and possibly upping their hit die, but they can generally remain unchanged otherwise.
Encounters: Most PC encounters with Spooks will probably involve either being followed/stalked thereby (the Spook is ensuring that the PCs aren't threats to his community) or being attacked by a Spook or a gang thereof. Inexperienced or desperate Spooks may try to enlist the PCs to help them with a particularly troublesome problem, or warn them not to interfere.

Sample Encounter
The PC's have wandered into a small, xenophobic village that has been under attack by nonhumans for quite some time. They consider the PCs to be dangerous interloper's, and a local gang of Spooks has decided to drive them away - or eliminate them.
EL 9: The local Spooks are dressed in black and attack by night with hoods up, weilding long, thin-bladed daggers. They speak orders in code to each other during the fight (Sense Motive DC 25 to decode the orders; grants a +1 circumstance bonus to rolls vs. the Spooks) and move to offer flanking opportunities to each other and to keep the PCs off-balance. They try to Tendon Slice as many of the player characters as possible and flee if outmatched.

Spooks (4)
Lawful Evil/Male/Human/Expert 5/Spook 1
Init +3, Senses: Listen +10, Spot +10,
Languages: Common, Thieves' Cant
AC 17 (21 with Mage Armor) , 13 (17) touch , flat-footed 14 (18)
hp 28 (6 HD)
Fort +2, Ref +6, Will +4
Speed 30 ft. (6 squares)
Melee +4
Ranged +6
Base Atk +3, Grp +4
Atk Options +1 Dagger +6 melee/+8 ranged, 1d4+2 piercing or slashing, 19-20x2 critical, 10 foot range increment (Combat Expertise, Improved Feint, Tendon Slice)
Combat Gear Chain Shirt, +1 Dagger, Potion of Cure Light Wounds, Potion of Mage Armor
Supernatural Abilities - None
Abilities Str 12 +1, Dex 16+3, Con 12+1, Int 14 +2, Wis 10 +0, Cha 14 +2
SQ None
Feats Stealthy, Weapon Focus (Dagger), Combat Expertise, Improved Feint
Skills Balance +12, Bluff +10, Craft (Trapmaking) +10, Hide +12, Knowledge (Local) +11, Move Silently +12, Spot +9, Listen +9, Use Rope +11
Possessions Combat Gear + Masterwork Artisan's Tools (Trapmaking) and 100 feet of hemp rope.

2009-02-12, 11:47 PM
COOL! could you possibly modify this a bit so that it is available to PCs as well?

2009-02-13, 12:52 AM
Many Spooks are lawful, and some are even goodThis implies that it's more likely for them to be lawful than good. If I understand the rest of it, they act outside of the law to protect the people in the area. That sounds like chaotic good. Am I missing something?

2009-02-13, 05:07 AM
OK, first point: yoink!

There are a couple of issues though - the dice-to-damage exchange rate on the ability score damaging abilities is not particularly brilliant - a rogue does 2 points of damage every time she sneak attacks someone. It only takes a 1st-level spell to shake a target, so offering 'shaken lite' as a 5th-level PrC ability also seems a little underpowered, even with the option to amplify the effect. I'd also consider bumping the hit dice, even though this is primarily an NPC class.

I think I'd also like to see a little more use of the existing fear effects with amplified results. I wouldn't change Unnerving Gaze, but the others could probably be worded as alterations to existing rules - for example, the crunch text on 'Induce Paranoia' could read "the target of this ability is considered shaken. The penalty for being shaken is increased whenever the Spook performs some act that heightens the terror or creepiness, by an amount equal to half the spook's class level". This just makes the rules a little 'tighter' - more consistent and harder to exploit.

You might want to consider teasing this out into a base class and prohibiting players from multiclassing into it. That prevents people complaining about having a class/level requirement on a prestige class - also, NPC classes are really aimed at people who are not exactly exceptional, and it seems odd to me to have an NPC-class themed PrC. NPC-classed vigilantes are typically torch-and-pitchfork peasants, and this class clearly represents something a bit more special than that.

Of course, if you made this into a base class then the soulknife and the monk would have even more reasons to cry themselves to sleep at night.

2009-02-13, 05:36 AM
This implies that it's more likely for them to be lawful than good. If I understand the rest of it, they act outside of the law to protect the people in the area. That sounds like chaotic good. Am I missing something?

Remember, Lawful does not automatically equal Law-Abiding. It simply means you are an organized person and have strict codes of conduct and such.

2009-02-13, 11:05 AM
Thanks for the critique, folks ^_^

On hit dice - yeah, I should probably bump it to a D6.

On the NPC nature of the class - Spooks are what happen when ordinary, nonheroic people get pushed around too much; they're a PrC that is intended, in essence, to represent a nonhero's transition into heroic-ness.

Now, if I did make this a base class, it'd be a heroic class, and I'd have to figure out some things to do with it. Would you honestly be interested in that kinda thing?

2009-02-13, 01:17 PM
I'm not sure how much I like the idea of 'transition PrC' - it works, and it's a decent solution to the problem, but a transition from PC to NPC class can also be done by using some sort of 'pay XP to convert levels' system.

I think the class might work as a base class, although I can see the problem with finding new abilities without the class becoming too exotic and breaking the flavour. However, the 'humble background' might be better conveyed in the character's written backstory, rather than forcing the character into a mediocre class for several levels.

However, I guess there is the whole issue of being scary, but ordinary people - most people would probably rather play something more exotic.