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Torger
2008-03-09, 06:58 PM
Alright, this is my first kick at the cat for a prestige class. Useful feedback appreciated. All others need not apply.


The Serial Killer

Madness does not always begin with a howl. Sometimes, it's the soft foice in the dead of the night asking, "Hey... Is there room in your head for one more?"

The serial killer stalks through dark alleys, peering warily at the shadows and guided by unheard voices. They possess a seemingly uncanny ability to hit where it hurts the most, and take a strange delight in feeling the last pulses of life drain out of their victims. Their paranoia, innate stealth, and murderous urges make them the bane of law enforcement officials, and a boon to those who might control them. Although they lack the staying power of more martial people in combat, they are quick to strike, specializing in surprise attacks, ambushes, and other forms of sneak attacks, usually leaving their victim a lifeless corpse.

HD: d6

Requirements:

Alignmant: Any non-lawful, non-good.

Skills: Diplomacy +4 or Intimidate +4, Hide +8, Move Silently +8

Special: Int 13+, Cha 13+. Must have suffered Wisdom damage, mental abuse, or some other form of madness-inducing affliction. Must have comitted a premeditated murder.

Class Details:

Class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Appraise (Int), Balance (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Decipher Script (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disable Device (Int), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Forgery (Int), Gather Information (Cha), Hide (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge (local) (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Open Lock (Dex), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Search (Int), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Spot (Wis), Swim (Str), Tumble (Dex), Use Magic Device (Cha), and Use Rope (Dex).

Skill Points at Each Level: 6+ Int Modifier


Level BAB Fort Ref Will Special
1 0 0 2 2 Sneak Attack +1d6, Maddening Whispers
2 1 0 3 3 Descent into Madness, Obsession
3 2 1 3 3 Paranoia +1, Sneak Attack +2d6
4 3 1 4 4 Schadenfreude, Death Attack
5 3 1 4 4 Enduring Madness, Sneak Attack +3d6
6 4 2 5 5 Decisive, Paranoia +2
7 5 2 5 5 Sneak Attack +4d6, Grim Resolve +1
8 6 2 6 6 Unobtrusive, Mad Certainty
9 6 3 6 6 Paranoia +3, Sneak Attack +5d6
10 7 3 7 7 Insanity, Grim Resolve +2



Sneak Attack: This is exactly like the rogue ability of the same name. The extra damage dealt increases by +1d6 every other level (1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 9th). If a Serial Killer gets a sneak attack bonus from another source the bonuses on damage stack. Furthermore, levels of Rogue (or similar) stack with levels of Serial Killer for determining whether or not a character with Uncanny dodge or a similar ability receives precision damage.

Maddening Whispers: The Serial Killer begins to take counsel from his own growing madness. These voices Ė personifications of his budding insanity Ė advise him in behaviors, helping him get closer to his victims. At first level, the Serial Killer gains +1 to all Charisma-based skills and checks.

Descent into Madness: The Serial Killer begins to behave rashly, subtracting one from all Wisdom-based skills and checks. However, his deepening madness gives him a new resolve. He adds +1 to all saving throws.

Obsession: The Serial Killer gains the use of the Urban Tracking feat, allowing him to use Gather Information to locate a target in an urban environment, much as a ranger might track in a wilderness environment.

Paranoia: Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean people aren't following you. At third level, the Serial Killer adds +1 to his initiative checks. He adds an additional +1 at sixth level, and another at ninth.

Schadenfreude: At 4th Level, the Serial Killer begins to take a grim satisfaction in the pain and suffering of others. He heals one hitpoint per class level held upon each successful critical hit. Further, he gains the benefit of the Bless spell for a number of rounds equal to his Serial Killer level.

Death Attack: If a Serial Killer studies his victim for 3 rounds and then makes a sneak attack with a melee weapon that successfully deals damage, the sneak attack has the additional effect of possibly either paralyzing or killing the target (playerís choice). While studying the victim, the Serial Killer can undertake other actions so long as his attention stays focused on the target and the target does not detect the Serial Killer or recognize the Serial Killer as an enemy. If the victim of such an attack fails a Fortitude save (DC 10 + the Serial Killerís class level + the Serial Killerís Int modifier) against the kill effect, she dies. If the saving throw fails against the paralysis effect, the victim is rendered helpless and unable to act for 1d6 rounds plus 1 round per level of the Serial Killer. If the victimís saving throw succeeds, the attack is just a normal sneak attack. Once the Serial Killer has completed the 3 rounds of study, he must make the death attack within the next 3 rounds.

If a death attack is attempted and fails (the victim makes her save) or if the Serial Killer does not launch the attack within 3 rounds of completing the study, 3 new rounds of study are required before he can attempt another death attack.

Enduring Madness: The Serial Killer gains the power of the Endurance Feat.

Decisive: Once the Serial Killer has resolved to end the life of one of his victims, he wastes no time on cogitation or second-guessing. He can, once per day, increase his initiative score by one for every three Serial Killer levels he possesses, striking swiftly and brutally.

Grim Resolve: As his madness deepens, and he begins to revel in the joy of the kill, the Serial Killer becomes more skilled at dispatching his foes. He gains a +1 insight bonus to the Saving Throws on his Death Attack at seventh level. This bonus increases to +2 at 10th level.

Unobtrusive: At 8th level, a Serial Killer can use the Hide skill even while being observed. A Serial Killer can, so long as there are shadows within 10 feet, hide himself from view in the open without having anything to actually hide behind. He is a master of remaining unobserved as he stalks his target, though he cannot hide in his own shadow.

Mad Certainty: So sure is he in the face of his madness, that the Serial Killer gains an insight bonus equal to half his Serial Killer Levels on all saves vs. Mind-influencing effects and compulsions. Furthermore, he may make a saving throw against such effects that normally do not allow a save.

Insanity: The Serial Killer is totally consumed by his madness. He subtracts one from his Wisdom score. However, once per day, you can see and act with the clarity of true madness: Make a death attack instantly, without study.

vanyell
2008-03-09, 09:03 PM
this could be very interesting. at least from an RP standpoint. I will say however, that it does not make sense, from my point of view, to have madness give things like CHA bonuses.

other then that, it looks rather solid. I'm not great at finding balance issues, however, and I'll have to leave that to the more experienced members of the forums.

Gwyn chan 'r Gwyll
2008-03-09, 09:18 PM
Nice concept, and the crunch fits the fluff remarkably well.

One thing, though, just on format. The ability Paranoia should be written:


Paranoia: Just becasue you're paranoid doesn't mean people aren't following you. At level 3, the Serial Killer gains a +1 insight bonus to initiative. This bonus increases to +2 at level 6, and +3 at level 9.

The same changes should be made to Grim Resolve, while the other abilities should have the "At level x" bit.

Ascension
2008-03-09, 11:01 PM
Well, it isn't universal, but serial killers do tend to be remarkably charismatic, and if you're losing wisdom points as part of the class, it oughta give you an advantage to some other stat.

At first I thought it was a little weak, but it does give full sneak attack progression, and the capstone ability is awesome. No full caster, but not shabby.

I would say that the alignment restriction should be chaotic nongood. I can't really see a CG serial killer.

EDIT: ...and a few serial killers would probably be neutral or even lawful... but this is supposed to model the axe-crazy sort, wheras the lawful ones are less random violence and more premeditated violence... so I'd leave the chaotic requirement in.

Caewil
2008-03-10, 01:30 AM
Not really. This serial killer stalks his victims and looks like he has patience to go for a death attack. The axe crazy sort would be a barbarian, methinks. This is more Ted Bundy style. I'd say any nongood.

Guyr Adamantine
2008-03-11, 07:25 AM
You did a great job here, Torger. This PrC really gets my seal of approval.

Torger
2008-03-11, 07:51 AM
Thanks for the props. In consulting with people from other sources, I've made some changes, allowing broader use of some of the abilities, and narrowing some of the other.

Specifically, Schadenfreude, Decisive, Grim Resolve have been changed. Schadenfreude comes into play more often, Decisive gives less of a ridiculous bonus, and Grim Resolve no longer allows the Serial Killer to, at 15th level, require a Fort Save that's DC 30+ against Death attack.

Also, I've added that Serial Killer levels and Rogue levels stack, in terms of uncanny dodge abilities and the like.

Torger
2008-03-11, 08:24 AM
I'm also taking suggestions for a better name than the Serial Killer.

"Psychopath" implies rage, and I really see this as the cool, methodical killer.

After all, "Madness does not always begin with a howl. Sometimes, it's the soft voice in the dead of the night, asking, "Hey... Is there room in your head for one more?"

Xyk
2008-03-11, 11:59 AM
Looks like super-fun. One question, though. Why is diplomacy a requirement? Is he really gonna be talking his way out of trouble? I'd change that to intimidation if it were me.

Smiley_
2008-03-11, 12:24 PM
The class seems well ballanced and not as overpowered as some prestige classes are.

However, I would think that the alignment requirement should be any evil. Killing people for the sake of murder is evil, evil, evil. Not neutral with chaotic tendicies, just plain evil. Driven by insanity or not, the act is still evil. I could go on, but I think you have the point.

There are still a few rough edges around the stat requirements that I think could be smooted out, and the intelligence requirement seems a bit unneccesary being that high and all. Perhaps a base attack bonus requirement of at least +5 or something would fit in as well.

All in all, great job for your first try.

Guyr Adamantine
2008-03-12, 07:22 AM
The class seems well ballanced and not as overpowered as some prestige classes are.

However, I would think that the alignment requirement should be any evil. Killing people for the sake of murder is evil, evil, evil. Not neutral with chaotic tendicies, just plain evil. Driven by insanity or not, the act is still evil. I could go on, but I think you have the point.

There are still a few rough edges around the stat requirements that I think could be smooted out, and the intelligence requirement seems a bit unneccesary being that high and all. Perhaps a base attack bonus requirement of at least +5 or something would fit in as well.

All in all, great job for your first try.

But one could argue that pure madness is not evil at all...

Torger
2008-03-12, 09:52 AM
Smiley, by that logic, every PC is evil. Full stop. No arguement. Kobolds are killed becasue they interfere with mining. Hell, cows are killed because they're so darned delicious. If Insanity is an acceptable plea in a murder trial, then madness is an acceptable motivation for sweet, sweet murder.

Besides, I'm considering revising it to "Non-good, non-lawful." After all, madness takes many forms.

I'm going to twint the requirements a little, but otherwise, I'm leaving it as-is. Once unobtrusive kicks in, there's no stopping this little mofo.

Hmmmm... Rog5/Sor5/Sek20... Invisibility, unobtrusive, and ~8d6 sneak attack. Fun for all ages.

Torger
2008-03-15, 09:57 AM
Bump.

I'm just looking for feedback on the requirements at this stage. Comments welcome.

bibliophile
2008-03-15, 10:27 AM
Very nice indeed, perhaps you could make a private eye or cop PrC.

Torger
2008-03-15, 10:45 AM
The other side of things... I never thought about that. Give me something to do in my spare time.

I'll keep it in mind. Thanks.