Master of Marks
Our robbery will succeed. It is written. I wrote it on the bank vault, in the nearby alley, and in the guard post.
-Nameless Master of Marks
Any wizard could tell you that there is power in writing. They would point to scrolls, various Symbol spells, etc. What most wizards couldn’t tell you is that it is possible to approach the problem backwards: instead of using magic to create runes, one can use runes to create magic. This is the discipline used by Masters of Marks.
Becoming a Master of Marks
Everyone who is anyone in the world of forgery knows rumors and legends of people who create magic with their carefully drawn sigils. Strangely, though, the true masters of the craft do not spread such stories. Occasionally one will take an apprentice and teach them the true power of forgery. An alternate path to similar power is fraught with peril: haphazardly drawing runes of magical power can lead to insight, but it can also lead to death or worse.
-8 ranks in Forgery
-4 ranks in Knowledge(Arcana)
The Master of Mark's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Appraise (Int), Balance (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Decipher Script (Int), Disable Device (Int), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Forgery (Int), Hide (Dex), Knowledge(Arcana) (Int), Knowledge (local) (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Open Lock (Dex), 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).
Skills Points at Each Level:
6 + int mod
|1st||+0||+0||+2||+2||Sigils, Skill Focus||+1 Sigil|
|2nd||+1||+0||+3||+3||+1d6 Sneak Attack||+1 Sigil|
|3rd||+2||+1||+3||+3||Master Forger||+1 Sigil|
|4th||+3||+1||+4||+4||Rapid Scribe 1/encounter||+1 Sigil|
|5th||+3||+1||+4||+4||+1d6 Sneak Attack, Widen Sigil||+1 Sigil|
|6th||+4||+2||+5||+5||Rapid Scribe 2/encounter, Peerless Artist||+1 Sigil|
|7th||+5||+2||+5||+5||+1d6 Sneak Attack||+1 Sigil|
|8th||+6||+2||+6||+6||Twofold Trigger, Rapid Scribe 3/Encounter||+1 Sigil|
|9th||+6||+3||+6||+6||Skill Mastery:Forgery||+1 Sigil|
|10th||+7||+3||+7||+7||Sigil Supremacy||+1 Sigil, Life or Death|
A Master of Marks gains no new proficiencies with weapons or armor.
At each level of Master of Marks, choose to learn one sigil for which you qualify. At level 10, learn either the Life or Death sigil and one additional sigil.
Sigil Rules: a Sidebar
Skill Focus: Forgery(Ex):
Sigils are Su when activated and can only be placed on objects (not even creatures which are like objects like undead or constructs). Writing a sigil provokes an attack of opportunity when it is done as a standard action (but see Rapid Scribe). A sigil normally effects a 5' square. If a sigil is moved it loses its magical potency. This makes it useless to write them on ships, carts, big pieces of paper which are carried, etc. A sigil is normally clearly visible but incomprehensible: they are not in a language exactly so Comprehend Languages and such are useless. Read Magic reveals the name and effect of the rune, but not who wrote it.
Simple Sigils can be crafted as a standard action (but see Rapid Scribe) and are activated as swift actions. They lose potency in 2d4 minutes.
Complex Sigils can be crafted in 10 minutes and are activated as full round actions. You may only have as many Complex Sigils active as you have levels in Master of Marks. If the sigil produces a spell which has a duration, when the sigil is replaced or renounced the spell also ends. Otherwise permanent until destroyed or renounced, which is a free action which can be done any time and deactivates any particular Complex Sigil you have crafted.
Placing another sigil in a square already affected by a sigil requires a full round action for a Simple Sigil and an additional minute for a total of 11 minutes for a complex sigil. This overrides the Rapid Scribe class feature but does not affect Sigil Supremacy.
Hiding a Sigil so it requires a Search check opposed by the Forgery check which made the Sigil is possible, but it takes an additional minute which makes it impractical in combat. This is not affected by Rapid Scribe or Sigil Supremacy: scribing two hidden sigils with Sigil Supremacy takes two additional minutes.
1st circle sigils require 8 ranks of Forgery
Simple Use: The square(s) affected by the rune are filled with bees for one round. Anyone in the affected squares must make a concentration check opposed by the Master of Mark's Forgery check to maintain focus. If the concentration check fails, spells cannot be cast and all attacks, saves, and ability checks take a -2 penalty. These effects last for one round.
Complex Use: A swarm of bees is formed on the sigil. The bees can move and are under the control of the Master of Marks. These bees act as a Hellwasp Swarm
(MM 1) except they do not have the Inhabit or Hive Mind abilities. Each sigil can only make one bee swarm at a time, when the swarm is destroyed the sigil can make a new rune being. If the sigil is renounced or deactivated the swarm dissolves, otherwise the swarm disappears after a number of minutes equal to the Master of Mark's class level.
Simple Use: Anyone within the affected area takes 5d6 fire damage, plus an additional d6 of fire damage for every two class levels the Master of Marks has. The DC of the reflex save to half the damage is determined by the Master of Mark's forgery check, minus five. For example, a 1st level Master of Marks uses this sigil against a goblin. His forgery check is a 21, so the goblin must beat a DC 16 reflex save to take half damage.
Complex Use: As Fireball
, centered on the sigil. Caster level is equal to Master of Mark’s class level plus five, DC is 13+Int Mod.
Simple Use: Creatures in the affected area take class level d6 cold damage. In addition, there is an effect identical to Grease which affects only the affected square(s). The caster level is equal to Master of Mark’s class level plus five, and the DC is 11+Int Mod.
Complex Use: As Icestorm
, centered on the sigil, caster level is equal to Master of Mark’s class level plus five, DC is 14+Int mod.
2nd circle sigils require 10 ranks of Forgery
Simple Use: Creatures in the area affected by this sigil when it is activated must make a Reflex save with a DC equal to your forgery check minus 5 or be thrown 10’ straight up in the air per Master of Marks level you have. This does falling damage and renders them prone as normal. If there is insufficient vertical clearance to throw the subject the full height, then when the subject hits the ceiling or other obstruction it deals 1d6 damage for each 10’ of height which was prevented.
Complex Use: Anyone standing on this Sigil gains the effect of a Fly
spell with a caster level equal to your Master of Marks level plus five. This spell lasts for the normal duration, it does not deactivate if the affected creature(s) leave the sigil.
Simple Use: When this sigil is activated, it fires a Dimensional Anchor
spell at a target within 5' per class level of the sigil. The spell uses the Master of Marks' forgery check as an attack roll and has a caster level equal to the Master of Marks' class level plus five.
Complex Use: This sigil casts a Dimensional Lock
centered on the sigil. The caster level is equal to the Master of Marks' class level plus five.
3rd circle sigils require 12 ranks of Forgery
4th circle sigils require 14 ranks of Forgery
Simple Use: Remove any one of Blinded, Confused, Cowering, Dazed, Dazzled, Deafened, Exhausted, Fatigued, Frightened, Nauseated, Panicked, Paralyzed, Shaken, Sickened, or Stunned from any creature affected by the sigil.
Complex Use: Remove all conditions the Simple use of this rune could cure from any affected creatures. In addition, based on the Master of Mark’s ranks in Forgery he may also cast one spell on affected creatures (with a caster level equal to his ranks in Forgery): with 8 ranks he may cast Remove Disease, with 13 ranks he may cast Remove Curse,with 14 ranks in Forgery he may cast Break Enchantment, and with 20 ranks he may cast Freedom.
Capstone sigils are only available at 10th level of Master of Marks.
You gain the feat Skill Focus(Forgery). If you already have this feat, gain any other feat for which you qualify.
Careful study of precise location is useful for more than proper penmanship. Possibly as a relic of the common rogue training most Master of Marks bear, they advance their sneak attack ability at a reduced rate. Gain an additional d6 of sneak attack at levels 2, 5, and 7.
Master Forger(Ex):Forgery is a very personal act. With the right training and insight, one can read the clues left behind by a forger.
You gain Master Forger(detailed below) as a bonus feat. If you already possess this feat, you may gain another feat which you qualify for.
Rapid Scribe(Ex):Continued study in to the nature of sigils reveals that sometimes you can prepare parts of them ahead of time and take shortcuts.
You may, once an encounter, draw a Simple Sigil as a swift action instead of as a standard action. You gain an additional use of this ability per encounter at levels 6 and 8.
: Extra insight in the nature of the runes gives you the ability to place runes which affect a 5’x5’, 5’x10’, or 10’x10’ area.
Peerless Artist(Su): Writing and drawing are most easily done on a surface, but true artists can hold the meaning of sigils on the very air
You no longer require a surface to place the sigil upon, you can put a sigil in the air. Some sigils target the object they are placed on (for example Destruction’s complex form) so these runes are useless in the air. Sigils still occupy a 5x5 square unless altered by Widen Sigil.
Twofold Trigger(Su): The true acme of skill is the achievement of goals with minimal effort. You have reduced the effort needed to call the magic out of your sigils so that you can activate more of them at once.
You may activate two simple sigils as part of the same swift action.
: A ninth level Master of Marks may always take 10 on a Forgery check even if stress or distractions would prevent him from doing so.
Sigil Supremacy(Ex and Su):
You may scribe two sigils in the time it used to take you to scribe one. This is an Extraordinary ability. In addition, at the beginning of each day you may choose a Simple Sigil and be under its effects for the entire day. (This is less useful for the Teleportation Sigil as the effect will teleport you to where you already are. But hey, Forgery check to try to make foes flatfooted.) The sigil’s effect is Supernatural, as usual.
Playing a Master of Marks
You are somewhat capable of unusual buffs and debuffs during combat, but where you really shine is if you have the opportunity to prepare the battlefield. Surprise bees, constructs, and fire can certainly give your opponents a bad day.
Well, make sure you keep full ranks in Forgery as that is how most of your abilities scale. Many Master Masters of Marks return to the path of the rogue, but some dabble in Shadowdancing or more esoteric skill-based disciplines.
Masters of Marks might have a mentor or a school which might help them with some problems. They can also be self-taught or be estranged from their masters. As often is true, their best resource is their companions (i.e. the rest of the party).
Masters of Marks in the world
Most irregular. Everyone knows symbols can only explode, terrify, put to sleep, drive mad, persuade, stun, weaken, cause pain, and put to sleep. Symbol of Bees is completely preposterous.
- Manfred the Magnificent, Archmage
If Masters of Marks are common people can develop paranoia around strange writing. More likely, they are half-believed in rumors like the boogieman.
A Master of Marks is also a master forger... some get by forging wills and bank notes and only use their supernatural powers when necessary to avoid capture. This is a slow and quiet path to power. Others adventure, and we all know that “typical” is a word that cannot be used to describe adventurers.
King Roland VI is rumored to have employed a Master of Marks as head of the Royal Mint. This nameless expert was overlooked by the invading forces of King Yorrick until walls started falling, fireballs struck with no apparent source, and bees afflicted a crucial portion of a battle.
The Free City-State of Baratravia has the only publicly recognized school focused on magical symbols of all types: The Reginald Bartram School of Magical Glyphs. Some say the thieves guild of that city recruits dropouts and teaches them the seedier side of their skills, but the city guard denies such rumors.
At first, most magic users are skeptical and most physically oriented persons are disparaging. After a Master of Mark’s unique skills destroy a bridge or turn the tide of a battle, most people change their tune. The necessary forgery skill makes Masters of Marks unpopular with authority figures, lawyers, and banks.
Masters of Marks in the game
As mentioned earlier, fights will get easier if the PC’s have time to prepare the battlefield. In addition, smart use of the Complex runes can cause havoc well after the party has left an area. The free raises from the dead and free summons are somewhat more powerful than other effects, but they should be able to contribute without overshadowing people in other specialities.
A guild or school for sigils can be rather easily inserted into a city or military group. This will have some effects on the campaign world, but most of their abilities already existed in wizards or clerics or such.
A Master of Marks can make for an interesting opponent, but they do best with minions to steer the party and slow them down as well as ample opportunity to prepare the battlefield.
: Pre-requisites: must know at least two Sigils from the Master of Marks class. Benefit: Thorough study of sigil craft gain you the ability to use two additional sigils which you qualify for.
: Pre-requisite: 11 ranks in Forgery.
Benefit: If you detect a forgery and beat the check by 5, you know how many ranks in forgery the forger has. Beat by 10 and you get their race. Beat by 20 and you get their name.