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    Bugbear in the Playground

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    Feb 2011

    Default The Dirge Symphonist [3.X Base Class, WIP, PEACH]

    The Dirge Symphonist
    A powerful melody beckons, and you find yourself strangely waking from your restful slumber... and unable to scream, as the cold of undeath reaches for you from beyond the grave!

    Information on what I'm trying to do here: The basic premise behind this is bard meets dread necromancer, but without casting (though he'll have and use caster level to determine HD of undead he can control - allowing multiclassing between those that use caster levels.) It's a top-down (that is, starting with fluff) attempt at... well, I dunno really. But it looks awesome in my head :I

    The base of him will be Performing/concentration with music and standard actions (bone-flutes and skull didgeridoos are all appropriate and encouraged), a skeletal familiar, semi-powerful undead control, and combat viability with combination effects, and eventually, a powerful mixture of the two. Augmentations, where the Symphonist shapes his mortal form with directed soul-grafts, will also perform a small amount of personalization and individual mutability.

    If you haven't guessed, this will be an Evil class, full of subversion and the dark seduction of forbidden power. Even in games where necromancy is widely accepted, this class will need some seriously powerful roleplaying to come off as anything but a malicious, cruel sonofa. Perfect for those who want to be the Saruman of the group - Silvered tongue keeping the witless fools from scrutinizing you too closely until it's too late, or worse, luring them to your cause with temptations and deathly promises.

    Of course, you could also refluff it into a tribal/worshipful aspect - the spirits of his ancestors / followers of his god / benevolent lesser angels aid at his beckoning, trusting his good-will and judgement to direct them to bring about positive change and honour to his family / glory to his god / good to the world.

    Balance-wise, for the early-mid game I'd feel at home around the power level of a fairly optimized 3.x+pf martial class (high t3) or a fairly unoptimized sorcerer or wizard - swarming him with the proper debuffs and minions would eventually wear him down as he cleaves through minions, but a couple decisive hits should be enough to take him out, even when layered with protections. The capstone will pierce the heavens of T2 in power, but it'll come with drawbacks that will literally make you useless, or kill you. So I think that's pretty fair.

    I hope you find this as neat as I do, and I look forward to any ideas you might have as I flesh this out, mechanically and fluff-wise.

    Game Information:
    Perfection - a burning desire and a heart broken. The unattainable made simple by dark whispers and darker deeds.

    Madness - a growing darkness where reason once took root. The insane made practical by grim tutelage and the pain of failure.

    Power - a spirit bound which once was free. The dead made to dance by tune and tempo, and the Dirge Symphony.

    Dirge Symphonists are my attempt at a top-down homebrew - that is, I start with fluff and **** with mechanics as they come. It doesn't really work that well, but you can get some neat things out of it when you kick it enough. I decided to start simple, taking heavily from the Bard and the Dread Necromancer. Dirge Symphonists are intended to be a social class with buffs and debuffs that just happen to apply to combat about as effectively. In roleplay situations, their music literally sets the mood, sending brave men gibbering or draining the wills of the most hardy opposition. In combat, it plays with similar abilities to the Necromancer and Druid from Diablo 2 - A wide array of summons and battlefield control.

    Alignment: Almost exclusively Evil. See above for variants and suggestions for refluffing.
    Hit Die: D6
    Starting Age: As Bard
    Starting Gold: As Bard
    {table=head]Table: Dirge Symphonist|Base Attack Bonus|Fort|Ref|Will|Character Abilities
    1|+0|+0|+0|+2|Abysmal Servant, Dirgecasting
    5|+2|+1|+1|+4|Dirgecasting, Echoing Orchestra
    11|+5|+3|+3|+7|Howling Concerto
    15|+7/+2|+5|+5|+9|Wailing Crescendo
    19|+9/+4|+6|+6|+11|Gruesome Instrument
    20|+10/+5|+6|+6|+12|Maestro de la Orquesta Sinfónica de la Muerte

    Skill Points: (6 + Int modifier) per level, x4 at first level.

    Class Skills: The Dirge Symphonist's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Appraise (Int), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Decipher Script (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disguise (Cha), Gather Information (Cha), Hide (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge (all skills, taken individually) (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Swim (Str), Use Magic Device (Cha).

    Proficiencies: Dirge Symphonists gain proficiency with Simple Weapons, Hand Crossbows, Rapiers, Saps, Shortbows, Whips, and a Single Martial Weapon of his choice. Dirge Symphonists gain Proficiency with Light Armour, and Bucklers, but not shields.

    Languages: Dirge Symphonists gain access to the secret language of souls and spirits - they may intercept, speak with, and understand verbal and non-verbal communication used by Ghosts, Spirits, Souls, and other undead that are mostly composed of souls within 100 feet. Souls and Spirits with no hostile relations to the Dirge Symphonist are revealed automatically to him, though they may conceal themselves from this ability as a free, immediate action at any time should they choose to.

    Caster Level: For effects based off Caster Level, even levels of Dirge Symphonist count as caster levels, despite the Dirge Symphonist not being a Spellcasting class, and this ability not granting any other spellcasting benefits. Saving Throws against a Dirge Symphonist's abilities are taken against DC (10+1/2 Dirge Symphonist Levels+CHA).

    Abysmal Servant (Companion): Dirge Symphonists may begin play with a Skeletal Warrior under their command. Based on the Campaign's main setting (Air, Earth, or (Under)Water), the Warrior may begin with an appropriate movement type. The Abysmal Servant is a loyal companion that accompanies the Dirge Symphonist on... its... adventures.

    A 1st-level Abysmal Servant is a 1st level Human Skeleton Warrior, with differences noted on the table below. As the Dirge Symphonist advances in level, the Servant's power increases as shown on the table. If the Abysmal Servant is destroyed, the Dirge Symphonist may raise a new one by performing a ceremony requiring 24 uninterrupted hours of ritual performance, and a fresh cadaver. The Dirge Symphonist may verbally command his Abysmal Servant as a free action during either the Symphonist's or the Servant's turn. The rest of its abilities are described below.

    Abysmal Servant progression

    {table=head]Dirge Symphonist Level|Bonus HDl|Base Attack Bonus|Fort|Ref|Will|Servant Abilities
    1|0|+1|+2|+0|+2|Link, Intelligent
    2|0|+1|+2|+0|+2|Resonant Frequency
    6|+3|+4|+4|+1|+4|Size Increase
    12|+7|+8/+3|+6|+2|+6|Size Increase, Formation
    15|+9|+10/+5|+7|+3|+7|Improved Evasion
    17|+10|+11/+6/+1|+7|+3|+7|Improved Multiattack
    18|+11|+12/+7/+2|+8|+4|+8|Size Increase
    19|+12|+13/+8/+3|+8|+4|+8|Astral Travel

    Dirge Symphonist Level: The Dirge Symphonist's class levels. Classe Levels that grant or progress an Animal Companion may exchange that ability to further this one instead; multiple instances of Animal Companion are cancelled by this (A character may advance either an Abysmal Servant, or an Animal Companion - never both).

    Bonus HD, BAB, Fort, Ref, Will, and Servant Abilities: The Abysmal Servant gains additional hit dice according to the following table, based off the Dirge Symphonist's Class Levels. Its other statistics, such as natural armour, HD size, Resistances, Type, DR, etc., are the same as a Skeleton Warrior of the same level and size - Found Here.

    Link: (Su) The link between a Dirge Symphonist and his familiar is one of the soul - impressions, intentions, and sometimes even fleeting glimpses of perception seep through this link. The Dirge Symphonist can always point in the direction of his Abysmal Servant while in range of the link. If they are separated by Planes, if the Dirge Symphonist has visited the Plane, he knows which Plane the Servant is on. If not, a DC:25 Knowledge: Planes check will tell him. The range of this link is 1 Mile per Dirge Symphonist level.

    Intelligent: (Ex) The Abysmal Servant is animated by a spirit either bound or forced to aid the Dirge Symphonist. It has an intelligence score of 5, and is Fanatically loyal to the Dirge Symphonist. It will accept any commands from him unflinchingly, and attempt to complete them to the best of its ability and understanding. If none are given, it will attempt to aid its master in whatever manner it determines best (including rushing to his side if the Link shares undue alarm or distress, for instance). Uncontested commands such as "Guard this place" will be carried out until the Abysmal Servant no longer functions.

    Resonant Frequency: (Su) A Dirge Symphonist's Dirgecasting abilities can be used as if the Abysmal Servant was their origin. This ability's range is 50ft + 10ft per Dirge Symphonist Class Level.

    Evasion: (Ex) The Abysmal Servant gains Evasion.

    Formation: (Ex or Su as listed) The Abysmal Servant can alter its form in one of the following ways. The choice is permanent, and unless otherwise specified, can be taken only once per instance of this ability.
    Abilities (Lots of these, come back to them.)

    Extra Limb:

    Weapon Proficiency:


    Shriek Attack:

    Lots of these, come back to them

    Size Increase: (Ex) Each time this ability is gained, the Abysmal Servant's Size increases by 1 step (Medium to Large, Large to Huge, Huge to Colossal.)

    Multiattack: (Ex) As the feat of the same name. If the Abysmal Servant gains weapon proficiencies, it instead gains Multi-Weapon Fighting.

    Aligned: (Ex) The Abysmal Servant's melee attacks gain an alignment, the choice of which is limited to your own alignments.

    Soulmeld: (Su) The Dirge Symphonist may, as a move action, gain perception of the Abysmal Servant's immediate surroundings for a few seconds, as long as it's within Link distance. He may issue orders as free actions to the Abysmal servant during this time. This perception is limited by the Servant's own; nothing the Servant wouldn't hear, see, or detect is revealed to the Dirge Symphonist.

    Improved Multiattack: (Ex) As the feat of the same name. If the Abysmal Servant has weapon proficiencies, he gains Improved Multi-Weapon Fighting, instead.

    Astral Travel: (Su)The Abysmal Servant's animating spirit may dis-inhabit its body, becoming Ethereal and Invisible, with AC of 30, 10 HP, DR 10/+3, Truesight, and a flying speed of 500 (Perfect). It may not travel outside its Link distance, and cannot manifest any of its abilities or attacks. It rejoins its body by overlapping any space occupied by the body and ending this ability as a free action. During this time, the body is inert, losing all abilities, and the Dirge Symphonist may not join with it via Possession.

    Dirgecasting: (Su) Once per day per level of Dirge Symphonist, the Dirge Symphonist may pass his somber music through the pale curtain - Dirgecasting - imbuing it with echoes of death's inhabitants. Dirgecasting may manifest in a variety of forms, but it all originates the same way; the Dirge Symphonist calls the spirits of the dead with a performance, and their immitating echo imbues his music with power. Over the course of the Class, a Dirgecaster will gain the ability to layer up to 5 effects on his music, with each layer increasing the level and performance skill required.

    Dirgecasting is initiated by a Standard Action Perform Check. Dirgecastings require a Standard Action Concentration Check each round to maintain them. A Deaf Dirge Symphonist's Dirgecasting has only a chance of failure equal to 20%-1 per Dirge Symphonist level, as he can feel the music through his soul. To begin a Dirgecasting, you must make a Perform check against the DC of the Dirgecasting you've composed - failure wastes the action and the Dirgecasting attempt. Dirgecastings last for up to 10 Rounds, and may be ended before that as a free action any time. Dirgecasting effects, areas, and other information will be listed with the effect.

    Layers are the primary determinant of a Dirgecasting's effects, and their power. A layer must be occupied before another layer can be laid on top of it - There must be an effect on layer 1 before the Symphonist can build upon layer 2, etc. No two layers may contain the same Dirgecasting ability, but any unused Dirgecasting ability the Dirge Symphonist knows may be placed on any available layer. Each Dirgecasting ability will list its effects and its DC. Simply add the DCs of each layer in your Dirgecasting together for the final Perform Check DC of your Dirgecasting.

    Dirgecasting Effects

    Syphon Mood

    The Dirge Symphonist bleeds off the happiness and will from his audience, feeding it to those hungry spirits beyond. This is one of the most common abilities amongst Dirge Symphonists, as it is the simplest, and it often appeases the souls that torment them with their gibbering.

    1st Layer: DC 11, opponents within 30 feet take a -1 Dirge penalty to their Attack and Damage rolls. Small animals leave the area, or become hostile. The Dirge Symphonist can exclude allies from the effect, but bystanders and non-combatants the Dirge Symphonist doesn't wish to include, as well as those who can hear the performance, gain a vague sense of unease. The Dirge Symphonist takes a -2 Dirge Penalty to his Diplomacy Checks toward anyone who's heard him play within the past 24 hours.

    2ndLayer: DC 10, the range increases to 60 feet, the penalty to Attack and Damage rolls improves to -2. Most animals clear the area, but larger animals may still turn hostile. Those not included in the effect dislike the Dirge Symphonist for as long as they hear him play, and the penalty to Diplomacy Checks increases to -4. A side effect of the unease, the Dirge Symphonist also gains a +2 Dirge Bonus to Intimidate against those same people.

    3rd Layer: DC 11, the range increases to 90 feet, and the penalty to Attack and Damage rolls improves to -4. Animals without intelligence scores higher than 5 flee the area unless they were previously engaged in combat. Bystanders and non-combatants may become hostile toward the Dirge Symphonist. The penalty to Diplomacy Checks increases to -8, and the bonus to Intimidate increases to +4.

    4th Layer: DC 10, the range increases to 120 feet, and the penalty to Attack and Damage rolls improves to -4. Animals, Bystanders, and non-combatants are likely to simply remove themselves from the area until the performance finishes - Diplomacy attempts made within 24 hours by the Dirge Symphonist fail against those who have heard the performance, and Intimidate attempts gain a +8 bonus, but also lower the subject's disposition to Hostile, if it wasn't already.

    5th Layer: DC 12, the range increases to 150 feet, and the penalty to Attack and Damage rolls improves to -6. Opponents and those not exempted from the effect (Allies) are Panicked. A successful save results in a shaken result. Those who have heard the performance will either flee or engage in combat with the Dirge Symphonist for 24 hours.

    Manic Frenzy
    A lesser known ability, Manic Frenzy actually steals energy from death's denizens, forcing it into the Symphonist's targets

    1st Layer: DC 8, Manic Frenzy deals 1d3 points of Negative Energy damage per round to a single target within 30 feet (this heals targets that are healed by negative energy, instead). Concentration to upkeep. The Dirge Symphonist must be aware of the target to choose it.

    2nd Layer: DC 10, Manic Frenzy's damage increases to 1d6 points of Negative Energy Damage per round, and can affect up to 3 targets of your choosing within 60 feet.

    3rd Layer: DC 11, Manic Frenzy's damage increases to 2d6 points of Negative Energy Damage per round, and can affect up to 5 targets of your choosing within 90 feet. Targets reduced to dying by Manic Frenzy are killed instead.

    4th Layer: DC 12, Manic Frenzy's damage increases to 3d6 points of Negative Energy Damage per round, and can affect up to 7 targets within 120 feet. Targets that die because of Manic Frenzy deal 1d6 points of Negative Energy Damage in a 10-foot burst. This burst may trigger other bursts.

    5th Layer: DC 13, Manic Frenzy's damage increases to 4d6 points of Negative Energy Damage per round to any targets of your choosing within 150 feet. Targets that take damage from this ability gain 1 Negative level (Fort negates). Targets that are healed also gain 20 Temporary HP (this doesn't stack). Killed targets now deal 2d6 points of Negative Energy Damage in a 20ft burst - this burst doesn't inflict a Negative Level, but may trigger other bursts.

    Heavy Soul, Heavy Steps:

    1st Layer: DC 12, HSHS affects a single target within 30 feet, reducing their movespeed over or through land by -10 feet, and their AC by -1.

    2nd Layer: DC 12, HSHS affects a single target within 60 feet, reducing their movespeed over or through land by -20 feet, and their AC by -2. If the target is Hasted, HSHS may attempt to dispell the Haste instead of applying the slow and AC reduction. If the target is Slowed, HSHS doubles the Slow's effects instead of applying the slow and AC reduction.

    3rd Layer: DC 12, HSHS affects everyone except the Dirge Symphonist within a 5-foot burst, within 90 feet, reducing their movespeeds over or through land by -40 feet, and their AC by -4. HSHS still applies its debuff if it chooses to dispell Haste, and if it chooses to double a Slow's effects.

    4th Layer: DC 12, the Burst increases to 10 feet, the range increases to 120 feet, and the landspeed and AC penalties increase to -0 and -5, respectively.

    5th Layer: DC 14, the Burst increases to 20 feet, the Range increases to 150 feet, and the landspeed and AC penalties increase to -70 and -7 respectively. Targets that have their Movespeed reduced below 10 from this ability must pass a Fort or Will against Paralysis for the duration of HSHS. Succeeding this save results in being Dazed for 1 round, instead.

    Augmentation: (Ex or Su, as listed) Part of a Dirge Symphonist's warped view of artistic perfection is focused on his physical aspect. While lacking the arcane magics and knowledge to become a true Lich, his communion with the underworld provides him with a slow transformation, into yet another warped instrument for his grisly music.

    Every even-numbered Dirge Symphonist level except 20, you may gain the benefits of an Augmentation from the following list. Some of these abilities are static, some have requirements, and some can only be gained at great cost. Unless noted, an Augmentation's benefits can only be gained once, and are permanent once chosen (with the usual excpetion of Wish, et. al.).


    Example: (Su/Ex) The Dirge Symphonist gains example text. It gains additional example text for each Augmentation it has. This example text can be gained multiple times.

    Summonings: (Su) Much of the Dirge Symphonist's power comes from his command over spirits and souls - forcing them to inhabit and animate corpses poses little problem for him. The Dirge Symphonist gains the ability to animate a number of HD of undead equal to (2+CHA)xCaster Level. If the Dirge Symphonist later gains access to the Animate Dead spell, the max number of HD of undead controllable increases by +2 per Caster Level. Animating a corpse requires time and effort, however - the Dirge Symphonist must have access to at least 1 medium-sized corpse for each medium-sized undead he animates, or 4 medium-sized corpses for each large-sized undead he animates (and it follows this progression up the scale.) He may only create and control undead in this way up to 1 size category smaller than his Abysmal Servant, and each Undead may only have a total number of HD equal to (1/2 Dirge Symphonist Levels+CHA). For each HD of undead created in this way, the Dirge Symphonist must spend 50gp.

    Echoing Orchestra: (Su) At 5th level, a Dirge Symphonist's Dirgecastings resonate far and wide throughout the realm of the dead, calling echoes from its denizens even once the performance has finished. For every 5 his Performance result beats the DC of his Dirgecasting, the Dirgecasting's ability may be extnended by one round. Concentration checks normally required are still required, as the Dirge Symphonist must still channel the echoes back into the material plane.

    Possession: (Su) At 7th level, a Dirge Symphonist may merge with his Abymsal Servant for 1 round per Dirge Symphonist level per day, but only while it's not using its Astral Travel ability. This possession happens when the Dirge Symphonist and the Abysmal Servant willingly occupy the same sqare, and the Dirge Symphonist wishes to merge as a standard action during either of their turns. While Possessing his Abysmal Servant, the Dirge Symphonists gains the benefits of all its formations and feats, Full BAB, and Good Fort. He assumes his Abysmal Servant's size and bonus Natural Armour, as well as his resistances, immunities, and damage reductions. He gains 2 temporary HP per Dirge Symphonist level, but is destroyed if his health reaches zero. During this time, the Abysmal Servant ceases to exist - when the Possession ends, he reappears adjacent to the Dirge Symphonist (shunting to the nearest opening that will fit him and taking 6d6 damage if there is no opening that will fit him available adjacent to the Dirge Symphonist.) If any Temporary HP granted by this ability were lost by the Dirge Symphonist during the possession, they are removed from the Abysmal Servant's HP when he reappears.

    Howling Crescendo: (Su) At 11th level, the power of the Dirge Symphonist's music increases as he pours his own soul into it - As a Swift Action during a Perform or Concentration Check for a Dirgecasting, he may take a -1 penalty to his Charisma, Will, and Constitution scores for the rest of the day, in order to boost the duration in rounds, penalties, and bonuses of his current Dirgecasting by 1. Any Dirgecasting abilities boosted this way have their Perform and Concentration DCs decreased by 1, both for the initial check and for the rest of the day.

    Wailing Concerto: (Su) At 15th level, the Penalties and Bonuses of a Dirge Symphonist's Dirgecasting's are improved by the number of Bonus Rounds granted to that Dirgecasting by Echoing Orchestra. The Dirge Symphonist no longer needs to make concentration checks to continue a Dirgecasting during these bonus rounds, and may begin a separate Dirgecasting.

    Gruesome Instrument: (Su) At 19th level, the Dirge Symphonist's undead minions become the only instrument he requires. During any perform action the Dirge Symphonist performs, any number of HD of undead under his control within 150 feet may also Perform, as the same action (Swift, Standard, Full-Round, etc.), and continue to do so for the duration of the performance or Dirgecasting. For every 10HD of undead that do so, the Dirge Symphonist's Perform check gains a +1 Dirge bonus. The Dirge Symphonist automatically passes Concentration Checks to continue a Dirgecasting for as long as at least 50HD of undead continue to perform in this manner. The DC of Fear Effects produced by the Dirge Symphonist while Gruesome Instrument is providing at Dirge Bonus is increased by the Dirge Bonus.

    Maestro de la Orquesta Sinfónica de la Muerte: Dont look at it yet it's bad and worded poorly.

    (Su) At 20th level, as a full-round action at will, the Dirge Symphonist may enter a state called the Master of Death's Symphony. As part of this action, he must possess his Abysmal Servant and take 2 points of ability drain to each of his ability scores - ability damage to the Dirge Symphonist from this ability cannot be negated in any way. If the possession is successful, he may not take any actions until the beginning of his next turn. At the beginning of each of his turns until he ends this possession, the Dirge Symphonist takes 2 points of ability drain to each of his ability scores. While the Dirge Symphonist is the Master of Death's Symphony, a ghostly-white cylinder effect (height 100ft, radius 20ft) is centered on the Dirge Symphonist. This cylinder effect is a Torrent of Souls that can be used for a variety of effects. Regardless of the effect chosen, the Torrent of Souls provides the following benefits: Total Concealment, Truesight 100 feet, Flight (100 foot speed, Perfect), DR 10/Positive Energy.

    Burning Vengeance: As a full-round action, everyone except the Dirge Symphonist that is withing the area of the Torrent of Souls is shunted to the nearest available opening on its circumference, where they are Panicked, and take 5d6 Negative Energy damage and 1 negative level. (REF for half damage) (WILL negates negative level and Fear effect). As part of this action, the Dirge Symphonist may direct the Torrent of Souls, changing its shape from the original cylinder into either a 200 foot line with a width of 20, or a Sphere with a radius of 30. The Torrent of Souls reverts to normal at the end of his turn.

    Possessed of Perfection: The Dirge Symphonist gains a +10 Torrent bonus to CHA-based Skill and Ability checks. All results from these check are multiplied by x2 if applicable, and all DCs to resist them are increased by +5.

    Spirited Away: By spending a full-round action requiring a concentration check, the Dirge Symphonist may relocate himself at the beginning of his next turn. This relocation consists of any combination of 1 Greater Teleport and 1 Greater Planar Travel. This ability removes the Dirge Symphonist from the Master of Death's Symphony state if he is still in it, and ends the Possession if it is still active.

    Constructive Spirit: In a radius of 100 feet, the Torrent of Souls can be used for construction, deconstruction, or any other menial labour at the Dirge Symphonist's direction as a full-round action. The Torrent of Souls can dig up, lift, and move up to 100,000lbs per turn. Materials in the area can be moved up to 100 feet per round. The types of materials moved must be of an earthen, non-living, non-animate nature (Metals, Rocks, Soil, etc.), cannot be attended objects, and magical objects get a WILL against DC 25 to not be moved. 1 Cubic Foot is considered to be 100lbs for this purpose, and therefore you may relocate up to 1,000 cubic feet of material within a 100 foot radius up to 100 feet. This ability may not be used for any actions than moving such material.
    Last edited by chrisrawr; 2012-02-16 at 08:22 AM.