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View Full Version : [base class]They're watching you... (final incarnation, hopefully!)



nerulean
2007-07-14, 10:55 AM
The Watch are the soulless, backstabbing bad guys for my campaign based on Catherine Fisher's Book of the Crow series (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Relic-Master-Book-Crow/dp/0099263939) that's running in a few months, and the watchspies are their special agents, a contrast to their watchguard grunts. Watchspies are masters of deceit and treachery, trained to adapt well to any situation and use any means to achieve their ends. They will mostly feature as opponents, but one of the PCs will also be a watchspy in hiding within the group, so it needs to be pretty well-balanced. Thus, I throw it open to you.

It's worth noting that this is a very low magic campaign with only a single casting class with a limited spell list, and that magic items are almost unobtainable, especially weapons. Wealth levels will be considerably lower. We're using class defence as per Unearthed Arcana, including armour as DR, and for comparison the watchspy's progression is the same as the rogue.

Watchspy

Hit Die: d6.

Class Skills
The watchspy’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are, Balance (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disable Device (Int), Disguise (Cha), Forgery (Int), Gather Information (Cha), Hide (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge (local) (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Search (Int), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Spot (Wis), Survival (Wis), Tumble (Dex).

Skill Points at 1st Level: (8 + Int modifier) x4.
Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 8 + Int modifier.

The Watchspy
{table=head] Level| Base Attack Bonus | Class Defence | Fort Save | Ref Save | Will Save | Special
1st|
+0|
+3|
+0|
+2|
+2|Insignia: pewter, Weapon focus

2nd|
+1|
+3|
+0|
+3|
+3| Quick learner (+1d6)

3rd|
+2|
+4|
+1|
+3|
+3|Trapmaking

4th|
+3|
+4|
+1|
+4|
+4| Adaptable fighting (-2)

5th|
+3|
+4|
+1|
+4|
+4|Track

6th|
+4|
+5|
+2|
+5|
+5| Insignia: bronze

7th|
+5|
+5|
+2|
+5|
+5| Quick learner (+4 confirm)

8th|
+6/+1|
+5|
+2|
+6|
+6|Improved feint

9th|
+6/+1|
+6|
+3|
+6|
+6|Adaptable fighting (no penalty)

10th|
+7/+2|
+6|
+3|
+7|
+7|Improved initiative

11th|
+8/+3|
+6|
+3|
+7|
+7| Insignia: silver, Quick learner (+2d6)

12th|
+9/+4|
+7|
+4|
+8|
+8| Poison use

13th|
+9/+4|
+7|
+4|
+8|
+8|Superior feint

14th|
+10/+5|
+7|
+4|
+9|
+9|Swift

15th|
+11/+6/+1|
+8|
+5|
+9|
+9|Quick learner (+2 threat range)

16th|
+12/+7/+2|
+8|
+5|
+10|
+10| Insignia: gold

17th|
+12/+7/+2|
+8|
+5|
+10|
+10|Adaptable fighting (break)

18th|
+13/+8/+3|
+9|
+6|
+11|
+11

19th|
+14/+9/+4|
+9|
+6|
+11|
+11|Quick learner (+3d6)

20th|
+15/+10/+5|
+9|
+6|
+12|
+12|Writ of Maar[/table]

Class Features
All of the following are class features of the watchspy.

Weapon and Armour Proficiency: Watchspies are proficient with all simple weapons, plus the rapier, sap, short sword and all crossbows. Watchspies are proficient with light armour, but not with shields.

Insignia: All members of the Watch carry a set of metal insignia on chains around their necks. These take the form of a pair of metal disks with the watchspy’s number and the name of the watchhouse where he was trained inscribed upon them, and represent years of training, as well as rank within the Watch.

Anyone holding insignia can issue orders to watchmen of lower rank, which will be followed unless they countermand orders issued to someone of a higher rank still, although it is worth bearing in mind that the Watch has a very mercenary attitude and watchmen will expect payment for doing anything beyond their normal duties, and additionally are likely to inform higher authorities of any unusual occurrences in the hope of a reward.

The training that the insignia represents confers a bonus to Bluff and Gather Information checks, and showing the insignia to an opponent gives a bonus to Intimidate checks. These bonuses increase with rank: pewter rank gives +1 to all three skills, bronze gives +2, silver +4 and gold +6.

In addition, a watchspy can attempt to claim back any expenses occurred in fulfilling his orders, though is expected to be frugal and efficient and is likely to be refused if his expenses are ridiculous.

Weapon focus: A watchspy is trained in the use of a crossbow. At 1st level, he gains a weapon focus feat for any one type of crossbow (hand, light, heavy, light repeating or heavy repeating).

Quick learner: A watchspy gains the ability to do extra damage to a target by taking a round to become familiar with the weaknesses of his defences. At 2nd level, a watchspy can make a single attack at his highest base attack bonus as a standard action. If this attack hits, the first successful attack made against the that target in each subsequent round of this encounter deals an extra 1d6 damage, which is multiplied on a critical hit. At 7th level, the watchspy gains +4 bonus on rolls to confirm critical hits against that target. At 11th level, the additional damage he deals increases to 2d6 and at 19th level it increases to 3d6. At 15th level, in addition to the extra damage, the watchspy’s critical threat range against that target is increased by 2.

Adaptable fighting: At level 4, when using a weapon or improvised weapon he is not proficient with, a watchspy takes the -4 penalty for nonproficiency only in the first round in which he wields the weapon. In every consecutive round, the penalty lessens to -2. He must continue to attack with this weapon every round: if he does not make an attack with the weapon in any one round, the next time he attempts to use the weapon he must return to the -4 penalty for one round. At 9th level, he attacks at the -2 penalty for only two rounds before the penalty is removed altogether, so in the fourth consecutive round in which he uses the weapon, he attacks without penalty. A round without attacking increases the penalty to -4 again, regardless of the current penalty. At 17th level he may stop attacking with the weapon for a single round without reverting to the -4 penalty. If he does not attack with the weapon for two consecutive rounds, he returns to -4.

Track: The watchspy gains track as a bonus feat at 6th level.

Trapmaking: At 7th level, a watchspy gains half his class level as a bonus on Craft (trapmaking) checks.

Improved feint: At 8th level, a watchspy gains the feat improved feint even If he does not meet the prerequisites. In addition, an opponent he successfully feints against cannot make an attack of opportunity against him until the beginning of his next turn.

Improved initiative: At 10th level, a watchspy gains the improved initiative feat. If he already has it, he gains the bonus again and the bonus stacks.

Poison use: A watchspy is trained in the use of poisons and at 12th level does not have the usual chance of poisoning himself when he applies poison to a weapon.

Superior feint: At 13th level, a watchspy can feint in combat as a swift action.

Swift: A watchspy is adept at performing tasks quickly. At 14th level, whenever a skill check can be attempted more quickly or at a higher speed than usual, such as moving full speed whilst balancing, or attempting a diplomacy check as a full round action, the watchspy reduces the penalty incurred by half.

Writ of Maar: At 20th level, a watchspy is above the normal chain of command within the Watch. He takes orders directly from the leader of the Watch and carries a writ instructing all watchmen to give him whatever aid he requires in the execution of his duty.

jindra34
2007-07-14, 11:04 AM
Too many dead levels.

nerulean
2007-07-14, 11:44 AM
Yeah, looking at it set out like that you're not wrong. I'm already cagey on the balance without adding more, though, so I'd appreciate any tips you could give me.

Thexare Blademoon
2007-07-14, 12:10 PM
At the very least it needs something at 20, otherwise you'll basically be seeing Rogue 2/Watchspy 18 as the most pure progression that's worthwhile; better saves (if they work how I'm pretty sure they do), same BAB, added minor Sneak Attack, same skills per level, a better skill list...

But I'm no expert on the matter, so I can't come up with more than that. Sorry. =/

Joltz
2007-07-14, 12:16 PM
I like it so far. The abilities are interesting, useful, and flavorful.

Some things I noticed...
-The class skill list is really short considering 8 skills/level. I did a quick comparison with the rogue skill list and they're missing a lot of movement skills (among other things). How do they get to the places they're going to be spying from? Maybe some movement related skills like balance, climb, and jump would be good. Since they're spies maybe they'd get more Knowledge skills as class skills too. I think Knowledge (nobility and royalty) would be appropriate.
-You're giving them some sneaky skills and assassin stuff like poison use, and they also seem to be slightly underpowered in combat. Maybe they should get a death attack? Maybe some feinting skills and a watered down sneak attack (5d6 @ level 20?) could work?
-the last 2 levels give absolutely nothing. Maybe you could shuffle it around so a really good ability is moved there or you could add a capstone ability.

A few more abilities and some shuffling to fill dead levels and it'll be a really neat class. It's slightly underpowered now (I think) so you should be able to add a few things without worrying about balance at all.

Triaxx
2007-07-14, 12:19 PM
Personally, I like it. For a low power campaign, it'd be perfect as is. At full power, it's under powered.

nerulean
2007-07-14, 06:33 PM
Thanks for the pointers so far, everyone!

The skill list is short intentionally to represent the narrow training of these people who are essentially stolen from their homes as children and brought up en masse, being indoctrinated to the Watch's beliefs. They gather information, but no one of them is ever privy to enough of it to be a threat to his superiors, so no more knowledge skills for them. That said, there's no particularly feasible reason to leave bluff, climb and jump off their class list, and I'll give them tumble as well, which should let them get out of the battles they shouldn't be in in the first place; that's what watchguards (fighters with heavily narrowed feat choices, not intended as PCs) are for.

I've edited the first post. I jiggled the order of stuff around and added some more oomph to the quick learner ability, since I'd rather they specified in one stronger thing than giving them another little thing like a baby sneak attack. A 20th level watchspy who takes Improved Critical (and since they're all human in my campaign world, they've got no excuse not to) should now be critting on a 14 or 15 depending on their choice of primary weapon, confirming the crit with a bonus of somewhere between +20 and +25, and multiplying an extra 2d6 damage on top of what they're usually doing. Considering the fact that a fighter's AC isn't going to be much above 25 using class defence, they're pretty darn good odds for landing a crit.

I've also added in some feinting abilities to add to their intelligent combat theme, and a flavourful capstone ability that means next to nothing outside of the setting I'm running it in but will give a maxed out watchspy pretty much complete impunity within my game.

So, I would appreciate very much if people would poke holes in this edited version. :smallamused:

nerulean
2007-07-17, 09:10 PM
Okay, this should hopefully be the last edit of this class. Are there any glaring errors here that anyone can spot?

Joltz
2007-07-17, 11:02 PM
It looks nice now. They have reasonable combat abilities and enough skills to get stuff done outside of battle. I wouldn't want to play one in a hack and slash campaign that my friends are so fond of, but in one with a decent amount of RP and non-combat encounters it would probably be pretty cool.

nerulean
2007-07-18, 07:07 AM
Cool, thanks Joltz! This is definitely going to be a roleplay heavy campaign, even if it is going to be based around a major war. The PCs won't be standing at the front lines, they'll be essentially spying, and being spied upon. As the class name suggests.

Fredderf
2007-07-19, 09:02 PM
Hey! A base class that hasn't been done 700 times!

I like it!

ringsnake
2007-07-19, 09:23 PM
It's kind of like a defenestrated rogue. The lack of breadth of skills hurts, and the loss of Uncanny Dodge and Improved Uncanny Dodge doesn't balance for the gain in will saves.

Insignia is a just a role playing element, and is useless outside a particular city if I'm reading this right. Could as easily be a feat or a minor element of a prestige.

For the most part Quick Learner is inferior to Sneak Attack, with maybe the chance to be more powerful at higher levels when compounded with Improved Critical. Hard to say, but nothing too interesting there.

Most of the remaining abilities are sort of uninteresting. Not knowing the fiction you're basing this on I can't say if it accurately reflects it.

I have two suggestions.

First, is to collapse most of the unique abilities into a ten level prestige. This kind of highly specific and named social class seems exactly right for a prestige. Make entry easy for rogues, and only slightly more difficult for fighters. Condensing what you have into ten levels would up the quality of the class, which is subpar. A BAB and a few skills including Intimidate seems exactly right for the prereqs.

Second is to scrap it entirely, and replace it with a feat that reflects the character's membership in the Nightwatch. In exchange for meeting certain obligations the character gets a more powerful than usual feat. Fail on the obligations and the feat is lost.

karmuno
2007-07-20, 11:13 PM
I have two suggestions.

First, is to collapse most of the unique abilities into a ten level prestige. This kind of highly specific and named social class seems exactly right for a prestige. Make entry easy for rogues, and only slightly more difficult for fighters. Condensing what you have into ten levels would up the quality of the class, which is subpar. A BAB and a few skills including Intimidate seems exactly right for the prereqs.

Second is to scrap it entirely, and replace it with a feat that reflects the character's membership in the Nightwatch. In exchange for meeting certain obligations the character gets a more powerful than usual feat. Fail on the obligations and the feat is lost.

Wow, that's exactly what I was thinking, only combine the two. Since apparently, according to noe of nerulean's posts, the watchspies are adopted from an early age, I'd make a feat that you must take at level one that basically makes you part of the watch (perhaps it gives you the insignia ability, but you're really low on the ladder). Then you can have the prestige class (along with watchguards, for NPCs) with the feat as a prerequisite. This way you still have the roleplaying element but it makes more sense in comparison to the "official" procedure of class assignment (i.e. classes that several very different people may possess are base classes, whereas prestige classes are used for organizations or otherwise extremely specialized professions). At least that's how I'd put it in my campaign (although I may insert it as-is as an NPC class, just to keep the players guessing), but if a base class works better for your game (which, obviously, is all that matters for anything homebrew), then by all means, use it.

Good class though. It sort of has an old school flavor in that a character's level actually helps determine his rank in an organization (much like 1E druids, monks, thieves, and assassins I believe, although I may be missing some). I have a secret organization these guys would fit perfectly into.

nerulean
2007-07-21, 11:27 AM
Thanks for the comments, guys!

Essentially, yes, it is a somewhat nixed rogue, trading in a fair amount of combat power (I worked it out as somewhere around a loss of 10d6 damage over a six-round combat at 20th level, compared to a rogue with sneak attack) for what is, in the campaign setting the class is designed for, a massive roleplay advantage. Imagine the Watch as a bit like the Empire from the original Star Wars trilogy. Now imagine a 6th level double-agent character walking in and helping himself to a modest squad of stormtroopers to help with whatever his rebel buddies are up to that day. (Yeah, yeah, okay, and pretend stormtroopers are competent, too. Shh.) Played well, it's powerful.

That said, I can see why it entirely wouldn't work outside of that setting. It never actually occurred to me that anyone else would want to use it, but if people are interested I'm sure it could be fairly easily changed into a normal PrC, and I like the idea of combining it with a starting feat.

Keledrath
2007-07-21, 12:26 PM
How does the class defence work? I've never heard the term.

nerulean
2007-07-21, 02:37 PM
Class defence is from Unearthed Arcana, adapted from Star Wars d20. Essentially, it gives a bonus to AC that increases with class levels, reducing the amount characters rely on armour and magic items at higher levels. I've used it since this is a very low magic campaign and amulets of natural armour and the like just won't exist. You can see the rules here (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/adventuring/defenseBonus.htm).

Vadin
2007-07-21, 03:42 PM
Defense bonuses, if you've never played a d20 game with them before, can at first seem really game breaking. After the initial shock wears off, however, and some playing with them is done, it becomes abundantly clear that their very useful, especially for characters with already high DEX.

Hooray for Star Wars!

In addition, great class, especially for cohorts.

Matthew
2007-07-31, 12:27 PM
Looks good to me.