Halfling Rock-Skipping Champion

"Can I buy you ladies a drink?"

Millie turned to look at the halfling man that had just tried, unsuccessfully, to smoothly introduce himself to her. He seemed to be a bit out of place in the city, even in a halfling bar like this one. His clothes were well-made but clearly rustic, and his feet were bare--a custom most of the halflings in this city had long since abandoned. No, she definitely wasn't interested in a drink. His purse, however, might still hold her attention. "I don't know if that's such a good idea," she demurred, slipping easily into the roll of the hard-to-get temptress. A fool and his gold are soon parted, she thought.

"Yeah, get lost!" her friend Tonna added. Millie sighed; Tonna might be one of the best cat burglars in town, but she had a lot to learn about running a con. Millie glared at the younger halfling woman: "Now, Jenna," she intoned, supplying her companion with her alias for this impromptu swindle, "that's rude. Why don't you sit down, Mister-"

Suddenly, a loud series of shouting was heard from the center of the tavern. "The till!" the bartender was shouting, "He got the till!" He pointed to a masked halfling who was quickly darting out the saloon's swinging door and into the back alley. The rustic halfling before Millie turned to look at the chaos the robbery had caused, and she took the opportunity to slip her hand into the fool's pouch. She felt what seemed like a large coin, which she withdrew with her usual grace.

She was startled however, as the country halfling brandished a single stone in his hand. He waited until the door swung out once more and thenfffft! He threw the rock directly at the door as it hit its apex. The stone struck with a solid thunk, then ricocheted out of sight. A fraction of a second later, Millie heard a thwack, then "Ouch!' followed by another thwack and a heavy thud. The patrons hurried to the door to see the robber laid out in the alley, with two growing bumps on the back of his head.

The crowd immediately turned in awe to the sharp-eyed rustic halfling whose rock had flown so true. In awe herself, Millie absently examined the coin-like object she had pilfered. It was a gold medal, inscribed with the words,"Riverdale Rock-Throwing Champion." She wrapped her arm around the man (carefully slipping the medal back into the his pouch) and cooed, "Actually, sir, maybe I will take that drink. Then, if you'd like, you, me, and my cute friend there can ..."

It is common knowledge that all halflings practice throwing and skipping stones as children, a talent that leads many adults to favor thrown weapons well into their adventuring career. Rock-throwing tournaments accompany most major halfling gatherings, from weddings to the inauguration of a new sheriff, but the most fiercely competitive contests are held for their own sake. The participants in these games are often professional rock-throwers; athletes who make their living by traveling to various towns and winning cash prizes. The best of the best become famous for their uncanny aim and prowess, admired as sports stars and lusted after as sex symbols. These are the Rock-Skipping Champions.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This prestige class was originally written for the 3.0 Edition of the game. The following is the 3.5 update to the class, taking into account changes in how the sling works. See the purple text at the end of the article for details.

Halfling Rock-Skipping Champion

To qualify to become a rock-skipping champion, a character must fulfill all the following criteria.
Base Attack Bonus: +6
Race: Halfling
Feats: Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Weapon Focus (Sling/Halfling Throwing Stone).
Special: Must have won at least three public rock-throwing tournaments, each with at least 10 participants.

Class Skills:
The rock-skipping champion's class skills (and the key ability score for each) are Balance (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge (local) (Int), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), and Spot (Wis).
Skill Points at Each Level: 2 + Int modifier.
Hit Dice: d8

Class Features:
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: The rock-skipping champion gains proficiency with all simple weapons, as well as light armor.

Skipping: The champion learns to make a thrown or slung stone bounce from one target to strike another. As a standard action, he throws or slings a stone (but not a bullet) at a target. If he successfully strikes that target (be it a creature, a wall, whatever), he can gain one or more "skips" to strike other foes. The rock bounces and changes direction, at the thrower's control, and then continues on towards a secondary target. This is a skip, and a 1st level rock-skipping champion can only make a single skip with each standard action. As they rise in level, they learn to throw with sufficient skill to allow the stone to skip multiple times with a single standard action. The champion can cause the skipping stone to strike another target or to perform a different trick, and he gains more tricks to choose from as he rises in level. You must declare all targets and/or tricks for a single throw before rolling the dice; you may not, for example, wait to see how the first attack goes before choosing the target of the skip. If a skipping stone misses its target at any time, it clatters to the ground in that space and does not skip on to further targets.

In addition to gaining more skips per throw, the champion learns how to make his stone travel further between skips. The skipping distance listed for each level indicates the maximum distance a rock may travel after a skip. A skipping stone is still limited by its total range, and all attacks with a skipping stone suffer appropriate range penalties based on how far the rock has flown up to that point.

In order to make a stone skip, the champion cannot rush his throws. He may not use the Rapid Shot feat, throw with more than one hand, or throw multiple stones in the same round for any reason in order for to gain the benefits of skipping. Sneak attack or other precision-based damage may only apply to the first target of a throw, before any skips, and the target must still be within 30 feet as normal. A rock-skipping champion may always choose to not make a stone skip when he launches it.

Skipping Strike: The first trick learned by all champions is to use a skipping stone to strike another nearby foe. After a thrown or slung stone successfully strikes any foe, the champion may cause it to skip to any foe within skipping distance (see above). Each attack a single stone makes after the first suffers a cumulative -3 penalty, so that a stone that makes two skips to strike two additional enemies after the first will suffer a -3 circumstance penalty to the second attack and a -6 circumstance penalty to the third.

Skip Tricks: At 2nd level and every level thereafter, the champion may select one of the following tricks. Some are used after a stone has struck a target, while others affect the whole throw.
  • Returning: After a skip, instead of striking another target, the rock returns to the champion's hand. The champion must be within his maximum skip distance from the target struck. This trick is always the last performed in a skip sequence; even if the champion is entitled to additional skips, using a returning skip ends that stone's flight.
  • Ba-Bump: Upon striking a target, instead of ricocheting to another, the rock flies straight up for 5 feet, then falls back down, striking the same target again. After the second strike, the rock can continue on to another target if it has more skips available. No stone may attack the same target more than twice in a row using this trick. A ba-bump trick uses up 10 feet of the rock's flight path.
  • Bank Shot: The halfling learns to bounce rocks off walls, trees, ceilings, etc., in order to make a difficult shot. While the halfling must make a ranged touch attack roll to hit the wall, most walls have a touch AC of 1 (trees and such might be higher). If successful, the rock can bounce up to 180 degrees and continue on its way. This trick is used to attack opponents hiding behind cover (in which case it ignores that cover) or with which the halfling does not have line of sight (in which case regular miss chances for concealment still apply). Note that this trick still counts as a skip, so attacks made after a bank shot still suffer the -3 penalty for being a secondary attack.
  • Ping Pong: This trick is only available if the Champion can make 2 or more skips in a single throw. Whenever a foe is struck twice with the same thrown rock (but at least one other target was successfully hit between the first and the second attack), the second attack gains a +2 bonus to damage. For example, two fighters stand 10 feet apart. A 5th level champion slings a rock at one and hits him, then uses his first skip to bounce to the second fighter at a -3 to hit. He hits that fighter, then has the rock bounce back to the first fighter, now with a -6 to hit but +2 to damage due to the Ping Pong. The halfling then uses his third skip to send it back to the second fighter, now at -9 to hit and +2 to damage.
  • Between the Eyes: With this trick, the Critical Threat range of the first attack of any rock throw is treated as one greater (19-20, instead of just 20). Note that this attack must be the one made before any skips, so that in a bank shot situation, this ability is "wasted" on the wall, not the first creature hit. This increase stacks with Improved Critical and Weapon of Impact.
  • Soft Skip: The champion may make any or all attacks with a skipping rock inflict nonlethal damage. He does not suffer a -4 penalty to attack rolls for doing so, and may freely mix nonlethal and regular attacks within the same throw. You must declare which attacks are to be nonlethal before throwing.
  • Lucky Bounce: Once per round, when a rock misses its target but still has one or more skips remaining, the champion can choose to declare it a "lucky bounce." While the attack is still considered a miss, the rock skips to the next designated target as if it were a hit.

Sports Star: Halfling rock-skipping champions are the elite sports superstars of their culture, and attract attention wherever they go. A champion gains a +2 circumstance bonus to all Diplomacy skill checks with fellow halflings if he is recognized as a rock-skipping champion (or +4 if the Halfling is of the opposite gender). A demonstration of rock-skipping prowess is often enough to grant this bonus, even if the halflings do not recognize the champion by name or face.

Extended Example of the Rock-Skipping Champion in Action:
Earl is a Rogue 1/Fighter 6/Rock-Skipping Champion 5 with a Dexterity of 26 and a Strength of 13. He has selected Ba-Bump, Bank Shot, Between the Eyes, and Lucky Bounce as his four skip tricks and he owns a sling of shocking +4. This gives him a regular attack roll of +25 for his first attack (+11 BAB, +8 Dex, +1 halfling, +1 size, +4 magic sling), and he inflicts 1d3 damage from the stone, +4 damage for the magic sling, +1 for his Strength, +1d6 electrical damage, and potentially +1d6 sneak attack damage.

He is scouting ahead of his party, sling loaded and in hand, when he opens a door and sees three medusa; one about 25 feet ahead and the other two at the end of the 55-foot-long hallway. He is too noisy opening the door, however, and neither he nor the medusas are surprised. He wins initiative easily and gets lucky resisting the closer medusa's gaze, so he whips off a few stones. Earl gets 3 skips per stone (4 attacks total) so his player declares that his first attack will strike the first medusa, then continue down the hall to strike the medusa on the left, then the one on the right twice (using the ba-bump trick to do so). Earl rolls his first attack, at full Base Attack Bonus, and successfully hits; he rolls 14 damage (due in part to the fact that it is a sneak attack). The stone thus skips another 30 feet down the hall, and the player rolls another attack, this time with only a +20 to attack (-3 for the second attack of a skipping stone, and another -2 because the stone has flown 55 feet, which is more than one range increment for the sling). He hits again, but even though this medusa is also flat-footed, he does not get sneak attack damage after the first target; he still deals 11 damage, though. The stone continues 5 feet to the final medusa, and the player rolls a final attack at +17, hitting easily and inflicting 9 damage. The stone then flies up and straight back down to hit the final medusa a second time (+14 attack roll, total) for another 7 damage.

The best part, however, is that this took only a standard action. Earl wisely uses his move action to close the door.

Throwing Stones
A halfling throwing stone is essentially just a smooth stone that flies evenly through the air. They are rarely used in battle, except by true experts, but are used during games and tournaments of all kinds. They can be used equally well by halfling- and human-sized wielders.

Halfling Throwing Stone (Exotic Weapon)
Cost: 1 sp
Damage: 1d3
Critical: 20/x2
Range Increment: 15 feet
Weight: 0.2 lb.
Damage Type: Bludgeoning
Note: When used with a sling, halfling throwing stones do not suffer any penalty to hit (as a normal stone does). This prestige class considers the sling and a halfling throwing stone to be the same weapon for purposes of feats such as Weapon Focus. If you use the Rock-Skipping Champion prestige class in your campaign, you should give halflings Weapon Familiarity: Halfling Throwing Stone (making them simple weapons for all Halflings).

Looking Back...
When the 3.5 rule revision came out, it completely switched how slings worked. Previously, you could use a sling like a thrown weapon, firing as many times per round as your base attack bonus allowed. But now, a sling was more like a crossbow, forcing you to reload it as a move action every round you wanted to attack. On the plus side, though, slings now allowed you to apply your Strength bonus to damage when they didn't before.

Since the one thing that always worried me about using this class was the sheer number of attacks, this change greatly enhances the playability of the class. Now, a skiprock champion only makes one throw per turn, with as many as 3 skips. That's 4 attack rolls, the same as a 20th level fighter, and he does it as a standard action. While halflings aren't known for high Strength bonuses, a little magical help can increase the damage per stone. In the end, the class is probably more convenient and maybe even a little stronger than it was before, unless you were using it with flaming weapons or the like.

The text above has been tweaked here and there to reflect the 3.5 rules, and therefore differs from the version that was on the main website for so long.