View Full Version : Lackey Fans: Help me stat out the Herald base class.

2007-08-28, 08:32 PM
I'm not quite sure how this escaped fanservice homebrewing, but Mercedes Lackey fans, help me out: I want to make a Herald base class. I'm sure at least a few of you have read some of her Valdemar series and thought I want to play one of these white-shirts, they look like they'd be fun to stat out.

The problem is the actual crunchy bits. What a Herald essentially amounts to is a character with the ability to specialize in a number of things, a decent hand in combat, mind magic (psionics?), AND the Companion, which is essentially a paladin's mount with some odd abilities and their own agendas. Hit Dice, though? Alignment requirement? (Any good, maybe, but not sure.) Skill points, saves, attack progression? The Heralds of Valdemar are just a bit too broad to really stick them down to details easily.

And it can't be a prestige class, because there's plenty of points where Companions bond to youth with not much experience at all - witness Talia getting dragged off when she was, what, thirteen? But plenty of folks multiclass to it too. (Or are forced to multiclass to it. Companions are pushy that way.) So it should have enough to make it look good as a second class.

So, anyone help me out here? I'll get down a skeleton of the class below, and once it's starting to look solid I'll add in the flavor. And if it goes really well, I'll make the Herald-Mage prestige class for the real ubercheese homebrewing. ;)

2007-08-28, 09:32 PM
I'd say go the star wars way, with three base classes: Warrior Herald, Expert Herald, Magi Herald.

It's been a while since i read the books, but this is probably the most effective way to cover such a variety of different characters.

2007-08-29, 08:58 AM
The problem is that Heralds are not a base class, they are a Prestige Class. They were already something (scholar, thief, mercenary captain, mage...) then became a Herald. One cannot present one's self to the Queen and ask to become a Herald... they are Chosen. This means they cannot be a base class.

As far as statting Heralds, I'd look at some of the better features of the Paladins, except they get their mount (Companion) at 1st level.

It you want to be true to the book, it's probably a psionic PrC, or at least give power manifestation progression.

I do like the idea of setting them up like the Jedi from the Star Wars books... Herald Guardian (Kero, Albrecht), Herald Specialist (Skiff), Herald Mage (Vanyel), and perhaps another Herald PrC focusing on being a particularly Gifted individual (Lavan Firestorm).

2007-08-29, 06:53 PM
It would have to be a Prestige class with no requirements other than being chosen. Lavan, for example, was probably a Commoner 1, or Expert 1 at best.

2007-08-29, 10:56 PM
Hmm- the problem with Heralds is that they really do have abilities from all over the place. It's more of an organization than a class- you could start out as anything from a noble to a peasant, a fighter, a thief, or even a clerk who can't run very far or see without glasses, although Myste's a bit of an exception to the rule. Perhaps a brief prestige class with fairly loose prerequisites (any good, although I can't figure what skills could or should be required, because again, they come from all backgrounds and abilities when chosen), which would be followed with more levels of whatever the character practices most, such as being a mage or a fighter.

Rachel Lorelei
2007-08-29, 10:59 PM
Myste's a bit of an exception to the rule.

Myste, being an authorial self-insert, doesn't even count.

2007-08-29, 11:44 PM
One cannot present one's self to the Queen and ask to become a Herald... they are Chosen. This means they cannot be a base class.

Um there are a few base classes in which people are Chosen not necessarily trained. Paladin for example, Favored Soul, some clerics, hell people are born Sorcerers and other such classes. Not all and often many base classes have no formal training.

2007-08-30, 02:13 AM
Myste, being an authorial self-insert, doesn't even count.
What, really?

I never knew that.

Hey, while we're on the subject (barely), is it true Mercedes Lackey and the Celtic folk singer Heather Alexander are the same person?

EDIT: I agree with one of the above posters who said Psionic fits it best. PrC sounds about right, too - they have former thieves and weaponsmasters rubbing elbows with nobles and God only knows what else in their ranks.

2007-08-30, 03:50 AM
We did this about a year ago, but never actually got to play it. You'll have to bear with me, there are some variant rules.

The primary rule is psionics. We took the psionic combat rules out of the Lone Wolf d20 RPG (by Mongoose Publishing). They work as follows:

1) Each psion gains a new trait, called Willpower. This is used to power psionic skills (instead of power pool) and attacks. This ALSO serves as a reserve of virtual "hit points" that are lost first when attacked by other psionics. A buffer, if you will.

2) A psionic combatant can inherently make 2 types of attack, a 2d6 damage attack as a swift action for 2 willpower, and a stun attack that stuns the target for 1d4+1 rounds. The stun has a WILL DC of 5+number of Willpower expended in the attack, with a minimum Willpower cost of 5 (for a DC10). These are in addition to using regular psychic disciplines and powers as described in the XPH.

3) A Psionic combatant gains a psychic attack bonus and psychic armor class. PAB is equal to your INT score plus your CHA bonus. PAC is equal to your Will save plus your level. A non-psionic character is auto-hit (PAC=0).

4) Range on psionic attacks is 120', and LOS applies. Once psionic combat is begun, LOS no longer matters, though going out of range can break the combat.

Designer's notes
One thing we were never able to agree on was BAB v HD. One can make arguments for a full BAB and a d8 HD, or partial BAB and a d10 HD. I consider either to be acceptable, and consider them easily switched out for one another. All other class feature remain the same. The table below assumes partial BAB and a d10 HD.

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

1st|+0|+2|+0|+0|Detect evil, Special Mount (Horse)

2nd|+1|+3|+0|+0|Divine Grace, Psychic Combatant

3rd|+2|+3|+1|+1|Discern Lies 1/day
4th|+3|+4|+1|+1|Psychic Discipline
5th|+4|+4|+1|+1|Aura of Good,

6th|+5|+5|+2|+2|Discern Lies 2/day

8th|+6/+1|+6|+2|+2| Focus 1/day

9th|+6/+1|+6|+3|+3|Discern Lies 3/day

11th|+8/+3|+7|+3|+3|Defensive Roll 1/day

12th|+9/+4|+8|+4|+4|Discern Lies 4/day, Psychic Discipline



15th|+11/+6/+1|+9|+5|+5|Discern Lies 5/day
16th|+12/+7/+2|+10|+5|+5|Focus 2/day

17th|+12/+7/+2|+10|+5|+5|Defensive Roll 2/day

18th|+13/+8/+3|+11|+6|+6|Improved Discern Lies

19th|+14/+9/+4|+11|+6|+6|Slippery Mind

20th|+15/+10/+5|+12|+6|+6|Innate Psionics[/table]

Hit Die: d10.

Class Skills
The herald's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Autohypnosis (Int), Concentrtion (Con), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Gather Information (Cha), Handle Animal (Cha), Knowledge (geography) (Int), Knowledge (law) (Int), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), Spot (Wis), plus choose any two of the following: Balance (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Intimidate (Str or Cha), Jump (Str), Swim (Str), Tumble (Dex), Survival (Wis).
Skill Points at 1st Level: (4 + Int modifier) x 4.
Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 4 + Int modifier.

Class Features
All of the following are class features of the Herald.
Weapon and Armour Proficiency: A Herald is proficient with all simple and martial weapons. A Herald is proficient with light armour, and with all non-tower shields.

Detect Evil (Sp): At will, the Herald can use Detect Evil as the spell.
Special Mount (Ex): The Herald gains, at 1st level, a special mount that is in all ways identical to the special mount of a paladin, except as follows: It must be a white, blue-eyed Heavy Warhorse. It does not reside in the celestial realms at all. Its base INT and WIS are determined by a roll of 4d6 discarding the lowest number (minimum result 8), and each will gain a +1 untyped bonus for every 5 full levels the herald gains after 1st level. It possesses the Psychic Combatant ability, and has 20 points of Willpower, though it may not psionically attack in any way. It gains abilities as though it were a paladin's mount 3 levels higher than it actually is (so a 3rd level Herald looks at the abilities of a 6th level Paladin's mount), but may always communicate telepathically with its companion and other horses of heralds. Should the Herald's mount die, the Herald must make a FORT save with a DC 5+1 for every month the Herald and the horse have been together (maximum DC 30 - and since most Heralds don't start adventuring until they've been with their Companion for a few years, it'll almost always be a the maximum DC). Failure results in the Herald's death via shock. Success results in 5d6 permanent CON damage to the Herald. This loss may not be abrogated in any way,though if the herald survives this (unlikely), he may increase his CON score through level-related benefits and magical effects (such as wish). The mount may, on its own volition, repudiate its herald, causing the same effect as if the mount had died to its former companion. This is very rare, and only ever happens when the Herald has performed several highly evil acts in succession and refused any sort of reformation.
Note that the Mount is an NPC who has chosen to be with the PC, and should be thusly run by the GM.
Divine Grace (Su): At 2nd level, the Herald gains a bonus equal to his Charisma bonus on all saving throws.
Psychic Combatant (Ex): At 2nd level, the Herald gains the Willpower trait, with a starting value equal to 1/2 his Wisdom score plus his Charism modifier. Each psionic level hereafter (so a Fighter level wouldn't count), he may increase his Willpower by 2+Charisma Modifier. The Herald is gains a psychic attack bonus and a psychic armor class, and may now make psychic attacks and stuns.
Discern Lies (Sp): The Herald may cast the spell Discern Lies, limited by the listed number of times per day. The spell has no material, somatic, or verbal components.
Psychic Discipline (Sp): The Herald may select one Psychic Discipline from which to select Powers. Each level after achieving this Spell-like ability (including this one), make an INT check vs. a DC 12, adding 2 for every psychic power already possessed. Success indicates that the Herald has learned a new psychic power, of a level equal to ((1/2 his Herald level)+1) or lower (as the herald wishes), which must be selected from a Discipline the Herald already knows. A natural 20 on this check is an automatic success, and if immediately followed by a second natural 20, immediately grants a the Herald an additional Psychic Discipline (though no additional powers). No Herald may have a number of powers greater than his raw INT modifier+2. At 12th level, the Herald may choose to forgo his additional psychic discipline to automatically choose another power from his existing disciplines, forgoing the roll. This power does not count against the herald's maximum limit. Note that some Heralds never develop well psionically.
Aura of Good (Ex): The herald has been a herald long enough that he now radiates a strong Aura, revealing him to detection spells. The Herald always radiates a Good aura. This ability cannot be suppressed.
Evasion (Ex): At 7th level and higher, if a Herald makes a successful saving throw against an attack that normally deals half damage on a successful save, he instead takes no damage. Evasion can be used only if the herald is wearing light armour or no armour, and using a light shield or smaller. A helpless herald does not gain the benefit of evasion.
Focus (Ex) : The Herald can attempt, a limited number of times per day, to regain spent or lost Willpower. The herald must make a WILL save with a DC equal to 10+number of Willpower he currently has less than maximum. Failure on this roll indicates that the Herald is stunned for 1 round, and dazed for 4 additional rounds afterwards. No effect may cancel this stun/daze effect. Success immediately restores the Herald's Willpower to its maximum value.
Defensive Roll (Ex): This functions as the identical Rogue ability (PHB, p. 51)
Improved Discern Lies (Sp): This ability functions as Discern Lies, except that the target is compelled to tell the whole, unvarnished truth as he sees it (he may choose to remain silent, but if he speaks it MUST be the truth via his perception - Intimidation checks are encouraged to get the target to speak). Only specifically psionic defenses that specifically protect against mind-reading or like effects may prevent this intrusion, and the herald will know that the target has a defense in place. The spell lasts for 1 minute, may only target one creature in that time, and counts as having used three of the Herald's regular Discern Lies abilities that day. Heralds are strongly encouraged not to misuse this ability, lest their mount sever its bonds with them.
Slippery Mind (Ex): This ability functions exactly as the Rogue ability of the same name, with the added benefit of acting as a defense against Improved Discern Lies (Rogues with Slippery Mind get the same benefit). Note there is no DC for Improved Discern Lies, Slippery Mind simply stops the ability for functioning.
Innate Psionics (Su): Choose two Psionic Powers of 3rd Level or less. Their base Willpower cost is reduced to 1, and each may be used twice a day as a free action. If you possess no psychic powers, or an insufficient number, immediately gain two Psionic Powers of 3rd Level or less in a discipline you possess, and apply this ability to them.

Class Restrictions
A Herald that multiclasses away from being a Herald keeps all abilities and herald qualities, but may never again take herald levels. A Herald must be Good. Helping others is their reason du jour - and neither neutral nor Evil characters live to aid others at all times.

2007-08-30, 01:37 PM
I disagree with the above thing on the following preceps:

1) Detect Evil. No. Evil has many guises, and a herald is no better able to discern alignment through magical means than anyone else is. Now, they DO have Sense Motive as a class skill, so it is hard to pull one over on them, but while a Companion *MIGHT* have Detect Evil, a Herald doesn't, and Companions are notorious for not forcing the issue on the Herald.

2) Discern Lies. I agree that the Herald 'Truth Spell' equates to this, however this should not be a times/day thing. A herald has no rel limitation, other than his mental stamina.

3) Many different Heralds had many different abilities. You had Firestarters, Farsight, Mindspeach (sending and recieving), Empathy (VERY rare in a Herald), Fetching (both Telekenisis and Teleportation), Far Speach (long-range telepathy), Foresight, Far Sight (Scrying), and others. You would almost have to have some sort of 'tier' method wherein a Herald chooses a 'college' of Gifts (Comunication, Fetching, and Mage Gift would probably be the three tiers,) then choose specific Gifts within those tiers. Of course, that doesn't exactly cover it, but that would be an approximation.

I hate to reference Complete Psionic, but the psionic version of domains that they have listed there would be a good place to start.

4) Aura of Good. That should be at 1st level, but more the Companion than the Herald. Companions are... well... I don't want to spoil it, but suffice to say they would probably have a Native Outsider trait rather than Magical Beast.

5) I don't see how a Herald would get Evasion or Defensive Roll as a rule. Talia, for example, certainly had no such agility. Neither did most Heralds. Some of them, like Skiff or Kerowyn, did, but that was likely from another class taken other than Herald.

6) Slippery Mind... I'd just give them Mind Shield at level 1, unable to have their mind read. From the scene in Arrows Fall, it is plain that it is impossible to read a Herald's mind through magical means. I'd also probably give them an eventual immunity to mind-affecting magics.

7) I'd probably make this a 10 level base class. Every Herald is different, no Herald has ONLY levels in Herald, they've all got levels in something else... be if Fighter, Rogue, Expert, Aristocrat, Wizard, or something else entirely different. Then I'd have specific Herald PrC's which would be something like the Mystic Theurge-like 'hybrid' PrC's which blend the abilities from both sets of classes (Such as Herald Spy, which combines both Rogue and Herald, or Herald Mage which is a spell-progression Herald PrC, or Herald Champion, which has full BAB and bonus feats).

Also, how about making a Herald a +1 LA Template?

2007-08-31, 07:20 PM
Shneeky, everything you said is correct, but the class was designed to easily slot into a normal D&D campaign. If I was doing a Valdamar campaign from the ground up, I'd probably be doing stuff in line with your suggestions. Probably combined with the "Jedi Guardian, Counselor, etc." types of base class to start with.

This at least gives the most of flavor of a Herald without needing TOO many variants to base rules.