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    Giant in the Playground Administrator
     
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    Default Articles Previously Appearing on GiantITP.com

    We're making some changes around here, and one of them is to offload the crunch-heavy D&D 3.5 articles to the forums. In this thread, you'll find all the articles that contained new mechanical ideas that I wrote: both This Old Rule articles, all 4 prestige classes, the sole base class, and several articles of feats, spells, and monsters. What you won't find are articles by other authors--I don't necessarily have permission to post them in any other form--and the pre-made NPCs. The non-crunch game theory articles (such as the New World) are still on the website proper for the time being.

    Since I had to reformat these for the forums, I took a few extra minutes to write up my thoughts on each one. Even if you aren't counting the release of the new 4th Edition, the 3.5 game changed a lot after I wrote these; the most recent article was still from 2004! Some of the things that were perfectly acceptable then seem quaint or underpowered now. In my comments, I have some ideas for keeping them relevant as well as my uncensored ideas on whether what I wrote back then was any good at all. The biggest notes are for the Champion class, which I've written 20 new feats for in an attempt to allow it to stand toe-to-toe with more recent classes.

    For the purpose of this message board thread:

    Material on this message board thread uses the Open Game License. Brown text represents Open Game Content. Open Game Content is ©2004-2011 by Rich Burlew.

    Purple text represents my new assessments, so you can skip to reading those if you want.

    I'm going to lock this thread, but you have permission to begin a new message board thread here in Homebrew to discuss if anyone wants.
    Rich Burlew



    The Holiday Ornament and new t-shirts (top) are from CafePress, while the new OOTS book and the new OOTS calendar (bottom) are available for pre-order at Ookoodook.

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    Giant in the Playground Administrator
     
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    Default This Old Rule: Diplomacy

    This Old Rule: The Diplomacy Skill


    Welcome to a new feature, which I call "This Old Rule." The idea here is to take a rule that isn't working the way I would like, and fix it up a bit. These aren't rules that are broken, necessarily; they just don't mesh with what I would like to see them do in my actual campaign. I might be adding more detail, or streamlining a complex system, or just creating something new altogether. Think of it as a home improvement show for rules: I'm not destroying them, just changing it to be more palatable.

    Since this is the first article, I'll give rundown of the format. First, I discuss why I am tinkering with this system in the first place; I call it "Surveying the Rule." Once I know what I don't like, I set down what I would like my revision to accomplish. This includes any numerical baseline assumptions, such as desired success/failure rates, etc. I call this "Building the Foundation." Next, the actual rules I have come up with: "The Big Reveal." And finally, advice on integrating the rule into a campaign, including extensive examples when appropriate; "Living with the Rule," I've named it.

    Enough introduction-on to the first rule!

    Surveying the Rule:
    I have never liked the D&D rules for the Diplomacy skill. Now, let's be clear, I'm not one of those people who says that any mechanic for social interaction is a Bad Idea That Limits Roleplaying. Quite the opposite; I want a clear and concise mechanic for determining how people react to specific requests and negotiations. Here are my problems with the current skill description:
    1. It has a flat DC that is too low; a 2nd level bard turning a hostile character to indifferent is DC 25; seems "tough, but doable". But it's actually child's play. With a 16 Charisma, 5 ranks in Diplomacy, 5 ranks in Bluff (which grants a +2 synergy bonus), and 5 ranks in Sense Motive (which also grants a +2 synergy bonus), and (new in 3.5!) 5 ranks of Knowledge (nobility) (which yes, ALSO grants a +2 synergy bonus), the 2nd level bard already has a +14 and only needs a 11 or better to succeed. And that's without spending a feat on Skill Focus (Diplomacy) or Persuasive. Now here's the real problem: at 11th level, that same bard will have 9 more ranks in Diplomacy and probably at least an extra +1 from Charisma; he can now succeed on a roll of 1, which means he doesn't have to roll. He can automatically turn all hostile people indifferent by talking to them. He has 9 more levels of adventuring before he goes epic, but he can already make every enemy he meets apathetic to his existence.
    2. Which leads to my second beef: there is no discrepancy between targets. Making nice-nice to the evil overlord and sweet-talking the bean farmer who wants you off his property have the same DC under the current system. There is no way to resist the effects of Diplomacy; no saving throw, no opposed skill check, no level check, nothing. An indifferent epic wizard is as vulnerable to persuasion as an indifferent 1st level commoner. There's no such thing as a stubborn NPC under the current system.
    3. The "patch" for the last two complaints is often the belief that the DM should apply circumstance penalties as he sees fit. My problem with this is without any guide as to what those penalties should be, it basically boils down to the DM thinking, "Do I want to give them such a huge penalty that they can't succeed, or not?" But I rarely have a preference. I don't decide whether I want someone to be persuadable, I want a rule system that lets me determine it randomly. It makes it very difficult to "wing" an adventure when there is no system for determining how to assess modifiers to this skill. Is that circumstance worth a -1? A -4? A -15? There's no guidelines given. In short, I want tools to use in the game, not a blank check to do what I want. I can already do what I want.
    4. When the Diplomacy check succeeds (and it usually will, with those low flat DCs), the exact outcome is too vague. They have a new mood; great, what does that mean? In reality, it means whatever the DM says it means-which brings me right back to point #3.
    5. And how far does that "mood" go? What is its breaking point? What if the PCs ask a ludicrous and overly-expensive favor of a "friendly" person? What happens? I want Diplomacy to be able to answer questions like this when I don't have the answers predetermined, and it cannot do that as it stands. I want to be able to say, "Hmm, you asked the Duke to give you a 5000 gp advance on your next adventuring fee…roll Diplomacy to see if he goes for it." Right now, it doesn't really work that way. In short, D&D does not make me have to decide on the spot whether the PC's sword strikes the target; it provides rules for determining that. Why shouldn't there be rules for determining what happens when you ask an NPC to give too much?
    6. Oh, and it's too hard to really screw up. Anyone with the basic 4 ranks of Diplomacy one would take at 1st level and no penalty to Charisma is incapable of worsening anyone's attitude by accident. It should be a lot easier to blow it, I think, especially in delicate negotiations.


    In my current game, I often find myself looking at the 4th level bard's Diplomacy roll of 27 and thinking, "What do I do with that information?" It just doesn't answer the questions I want it to answer.

    Building the Foundation
    OK, so, in my thinking I have come up with a few ground rules to guide my principle:
    1. I only worry about characters who invest in Diplomacy. Sure, fighters will occasionally be stuck having to talk their way out of something, but the system needs to work the right way for those who put max ranks in the skill and have a decent Charisma bonus. After all, combat values are derived from the best case scenario, the fighter, not the wizard. This is, in fact, one of the flaws with the current system; anyone who spends a modicum of effort being good at it, breaks it.
    2. In 3rd Edition, Diplomacy is defined as "Making people like you." I want to change that definition, for I think it lacks depth and is poorly understood. In my new system, Diplomacy will be defined as, "Getting people to accept a deal you propose to them." The idea is that anything you need to ask another person can be phrased in the form of a trade-even if you are offering "nothing" on one end of that trade, or something very abstract.
    3. A diplomat PC asking a stranger of equal level and Wisdom of 10 to accept a deal with an even risk-vs.-reward ratio should need to roll a 10 on the die to succeed. This is my numerical starting point, and I will proceed in both directions from there.

    The Big Reveal:

    Diplomacy (Cha)
    Use this skill to ask the local baron for assistance, to convince a band of thugs not to attack you, or to talk your way into someplace you aren't supposed to be.

    Check: You can propose a trade or agreement to another creature with your words; a Diplomacy check can then persuade them that accepting it is a good idea. Either side of the deal may involve physical goods, money, services, promises, or abstract concepts like "satisfaction." The DC for the Diplomacy check is based on three factors: who the target is, the relationship between the target and the character making the check, and the risk vs. reward factor of the deal proposed.
    • The Target: The base DC for any Diplomacy check is equal to the 15 + level of the highest-level character in the group that you are trying to influence + the Wisdom modifier of the character in the group with the highest Wisdom. High-level characters are more committed to their views and are less likely to be swayed; high Wisdom characters are more likely to perceive the speaker's real motives and aims. By applying the highest modifiers in any group, a powerful king (for example) might gain benefit from a very wise advisor who listens in court and counsels him accordingly. For this purpose, a number of characters is only a "group" if they are committed to all following the same course of action. Either one NPC is in charge, or they agree to act by consensus. If each member is going to make up their mind on their own, roll separate Diplomacy checks against each.
    • The Relationship: Whether they love, hate, or have never met each other, the relationship between two people always influences any request.

    • -10 Intimate: Someone who with whom you have an implicit trust. Example: A lover or spouse.
    • -7 Friend: Someone with whom you have a regularly positive personal relationship. Example: A long-time buddy or a sibling.
    • -5 Ally: Someone on the same team, but with whom you have no personal relationship. Example: A cleric of the same religion or a knight serving the same king.
    • -2 Acquaintance (Positive): Someone you have met several times with no particularly negative experiences. Example: The blacksmith that buys your looted equipment regularly.
    • +0 Just Met: No relationship whatsoever. Example: A guard at a castle or a traveler on a road.
    • +2 Acquaintance (Negative): Someone you have met several times with no particularly positive experiences. Example: A town guard that has arrested you for drunkenness once or twice.
    • +5 Enemy: Someone on an opposed team, with whom you have no personal relationship. Example: A cleric of a philosophically-opposed religion or an orc bandit who is robbing you.
    • +7 Personal Foe: Someone with whom you have a regularly antagonistic personal relationship. Example: An evil warlord whom you are attempting to thwart, or a bounty hunter who is tracking you down for your crimes.
    • +10 Nemesis: Someone who has sworn to do you, personally, harm. Example: The brother of a man you murdered in cold blood.
    • Risk vs. Reward Judgement: The amount of personal benefit must always be weighed against the potential risks for any deal proposed. It is important to remember to consider this adjustment from the point of view of the NPC themselves and what they might value; while 10 gp might be chump change to an adventurer, it may represent several months' earnings for a poor farmer. Likewise, a heroic paladin is unlikely to be persuaded from his tenets for any amount of gold, though he might be convinced that a greater good is served by the proposed deal. When dealing with multiple people at once, always consider the benefits to the person who is in clear command, if any hierarchy exists within the group.

    • -10 Fantastic: The reward for accepting the deal is very worthwhile, and the risk is either acceptable or extremely unlikely. The best-case scenario is a virtual guarantee. Example: An offer to pay a lot of gold for something of no value to the subject, such as information that is not a secret.
    • -5 Favorable: The reward is good, and the risk is tolerable. If all goes according to plan, the deal will end up benefiting the subject. Example: A request to aid the party in battle against a weak goblin tribe in return for a cut of the money and first pick of the magic items.
    • +0 Even: The reward and risk are more or less even, or the deal involves neither reward nor risk. Example: A request for directions to someplace that is not a secret.
    • +5 Unfavorable: The reward is not enough compared to the risk involved; even if all goes according to plan, chances are it will end up badly for the subject. Example: A request to free a prisoner the subject is guarding (for which he or she will probably be fired) in return for a small amount of money.
    • +10 Horrible: There is no conceivable way the proposed plan could end up with the subject ahead, or the worst-case scenario is guaranteed to occur. Example: A offer to trade a bit of dirty string for a castle.
    Success or Failure: If the Diplomacy check beats the DC, the subject accepts the proposal, with no changes or with minor (mostly idiosyncratic) changes. If the check fails by 5 or less, the subject does not accept the deal but may, at the DM's option, present a counter-offer that would push the deal up one place on the risk-vs.-reward list. For example, a counter-offer might make an Even deal Favorable for the subject. The character who made the Diplomacy check can simply accept the counter-offer, if they choose; no further check will be required. If the check fails by 10 or more, the Diplomacy is over; the subject will entertain no further deals, and may become hostile or take other steps to end the conversation.

    Action: Making a request or proposing a deal generally requires at least 1 full minute. In many situations, this time requirement may greatly increase.

    Try Again: If you alter the parameters of the deal you are proposing, you may try to convince the subject that this new deal is even better than the last one. This is essentially how people haggle. As long as you never roll 10 or less than the DC on your Diplomacy check, you can continue to offer deals.

    Synergy: If you have 5 or more ranks in Bluff, you get a +2 synergy bonus to Diplomacy. No other skill provides a synergy bonus to Diplomacy.



    Living with the Rule
    Extended Example:
    A 5th level party is trying to get into an extravagant ball being thrown by a local baron (who is secretly an evil cultist). The party bard, with a Diplomacy of +13, tries to talk his way in. Three guards at the door are only letting in those who are on The List. Their captain is a 5th level fighter, and they are accompanied by a 1st level aristocrat with a Wisdom of 13, giving a base DC of 21 (the remaining guards are lower level and have Wisdoms of 10, so they don't add to the DC.) The guards have never met the adventurers before, so the Relationship modifier is +0. The final DC, however, depends on how the bard chooses to try to talk their way past the guards:
    • If the party approaches the guards and simply asks to be let in, they are offering a risk of "failing in your duty and probably getting fired or reprimanded" against a reward of "nothing". The guards might not get caught, but don't really get anything out of the deal either; it's an Unfavorable deal and gets a +5 increase to the DC, for a total of 26. The bard needs to roll a 13 or higher; not impossible, but risky.
    • If the party slips a pouch with 20 platinum pieces into the hand of the guard captain first, though, the deal becomes more favorable. Since even split four ways, the platinum is a decent amount of money compared to how much they get paid. Sure, they might get fired, but the platinum could keep them well-fed until they found another job anyway. The deal is now Favorable, and gets a -5 decrease to the DC, for a total of 16. The bard needs to roll a 3 or better-pretty easy.
    • If the party dresses up as aristocrats and successfully Bluffs the guards into believing they are nobles, the deal alters as well. The guard may get fired for letting in someone who is not on The List, but then, this noble before him may get him fired for keeping them out of the season's social event. Either way, the guard might lose his job, so the deal is Even, and the DC stays at 21. Our bard needs to now roll an 8 or better to succeed.
    • If, unbeknownst to the bard, the guard captain is fully aware of the evil baron's cult activities, things change again. First, the baron may have threatened the captain with a painful death if he fails his duty; thus, whatever method the bard uses to approach the guard will be one step less favorable, since the worst-case scenario is a brutal death rather than just job termination. The risk is much higher than the captain lets on, so if they offer him nothing in return the deal is Horrible for him, increasing the DC by +10 for a total of 31; the bard needs to roll an 18 or better-very unlikely. Further, if the captain is in on the baron's evil dealings and recognizes the adventurers as agents of Good, he might be considered an Enemy and qualify for an additional +5 increase to the DC based on relationship, for a total of 36! This is a recipe for disaster if the bard attempts it, but he doesn't know that.
    • But then again, if they discover that guard is Lawful Good, the bard can suggest that they are there to take expose the baron's dirty deeds. The bard is still offering no money, but now the "payment" is the action the adventurers will take that supports and exemplifies the guard's alignment. The deal is Favorable for him once again, since even if he is fired, he will have the satisfaction of knowing he helped thwart an evil plan. If the bard also slips the captain 20 platinum, it might push the deal up to Fantastic, for a grand total DC of 11. The bard then needs a -2: he will automatically succeed, though of course he doesn't know that either.
    • Finally, let's say the bard offers a bribe, but it is only 50 gold pieces. That's not enough to split 4 ways and live off if they get fired, but it is decent-an Even deal, DC 21, and the bard needs an 8 on the die. But whoops! He rolls a 5! That's within 5 of the DC, though, so the captain looks at the gold and replies that this is only enough for one of them, and that he needs another 50 gp for his three friends. He's giving the bard the parameters of what would make the deal Favorable to him-200 gp, as in the first example. The bard can either pony up the extra 150 and end the conversation now, or he can try a completely different tack and roll again.

    Options and Ideas:
    • At first read, it may seem like a pain to remember the two modifiers. There are tow things that make it easier, though. First, in most games, 90% of all Diplomacy checks will be against total strangers, which is a +0 Relationship modifier. If there's no established relationship, there's no Relationship modifier. Second, notice that both modifiers have the same set-up: +10 to -10. That's intentional; even if you can't remember what modifier is appropriate, you can easily "wing it" by just remembering the upper and lower limit allowable, and judging accordingly.
    • The new Diplomacy skill offers a built-in definition for the sometimes-difficult-to-adjudicate charm person spell: a charmed creature is treated as having a Friendly relationship to the caster (-7 to Diplomacy DC), which replaces any previous relationship modifier. Thus, by charming an enemy, the DC drops from +5 to -7, a decrease of 12. The caster can now talk the creature into anything this improved relationship allows, without every NPC being wrapped around the caster's finger because of a 1st level spell. Note, however, that this will make the spell far more useful to a bard, who has Diplomacy as a class skill and has a high Charisma, than to a wizard. You might like that-maybe the bard should be better at charming people-but if not, I suggest allowing the caster of charm person to use his or her caster level in place of their Diplomacy skill check for that creature only. Thus, the DC is still affected by the Risk/Reward modifier and the (newly improved) Relationship modifier, but the check is either a Diplomacy check or a straight caster level check.
    • Sometimes, you may not have a good appreciation of what might be a good deal to offer. You can use Knowledge checks or even the Appraise skill to determine what a "fair trade" might be. Divination spells might play a part as well; a well-timed augury or even a detect good spell can give you a decent idea of what a particular NPC might find valuable.
    • Resist the urge to throw in lots of circumstance modifiers. The point of this system is to incorporate the NPC's overall evaluation of the situation into one number, so avoid giving modifiers like "+2 because they are wary." That should already be covered when they ponder the Risk vs. Reward factor and when their Wisdom modifier is applied to the DC. You might consider a modifier in a situation where the physical situation makes Diplomacy more difficult, such as shouting across a bridge, or having your words relayed through a third party, but try not to "double-dip" for situations for which the system already accounts.


    Looking Back...
    I used this rule change pretty extensively in a campaign after I developed it, with one player choosing to play a Diplomacy-focused rogue from 3rd level all the way up through 14th level. I found that it did exactly what I wanted it to: save me from situations where I was winging a social situation and my players asked for something for which I wasn't at all prepared. Other DMs have said that the modifiers are too difficult to remember, but that's true for all skill modifiers. Eventually, if you use them enough, you just start to remember them. I wrote a tiny chart for myself on a Post-It® note and stuck it to my gamemaster's screen. Problem solved.

    The player in question told me he liked the rule because he felt like he had more control over Diplomacy outcomes. After he roleplayed his argument to the NPC, I could give him a DC and he could try to beat it; he knew immediately whether or not he had succeeded based on the die roll. Sometimes, I would hide the DC (such as if the risk vs. reward modifier was based on information the player didn't have), but most of the time, it was an open roll. He liked that certainty, and told me that his prior attempts to play a Diplomacy character had left him frustrated by the feeling that the DM was ultimately simply deciding by fiat whether to accede to his requests. He could make the Duke like him, but he couldn't get the Duke to agree to anything the DM decided not to allow.

    He did suggest one idea that I eventually adopted in a later campaign: We renamed the skill Persuasion, rather than Diplomacy, to give a better sense of what it actually does.
    Rich Burlew



    The Holiday Ornament and new t-shirts (top) are from CafePress, while the new OOTS book and the new OOTS calendar (bottom) are available for pre-order at Ookoodook.

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    Giant in the Playground Administrator
     
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    Default This Old Rule: Polymorph, Part 1

    This Old Rule: Polymorph, Part 1

    Shapechanging magic (polymorph, polymorph any object, shapechange) is completely frelled. The idea of changing shape is such a strong one in fantasy literature, but we've yet to see a version of polymorph that isn't horribly abusable. Every new revision just changes the dumb tricks players can use. And there are a lot of reasons for this, I think.
    1. Monsters aren't designed with players in mind. Most of them are given abilities that, in the hands of PCs, are insanely game-breaking. There's no standardization for monster abilites, no basis for how to build them so that they won't become abusable. This is the basis for ECL, but unfortunately ECL doesn't help when you can shapechangeinto that creature anyway.
    2. What abilities are granted by polymorph is confusing because not all monster authors were consistent in putting certain abilities in the "Special Attack" line and others in the "Special Qualities" line. Further, the defining abilities of a creature may actually be SQ's; with polymorph as worded, you do not get Scent if you change into a wolf, or you do not gain Low-light Vision if you change into an owl. That's counterintuitive.
    3. Polymorph currently makes your physical scores irrelevent. This is mostly a druid issue; after 5th level, a druid can take Natural Spell and spend all of his/her time in wild shape, making her rolled physical scores meaningless. A 5 Dexterity? No problem, I'll just stay in bear form all day. Blech.
    4. The 3.5 versions grant creature type. There are 101 Stupid Player Tricks to abuse this situation, all of which are ridiculous but technically possible. A druid can cast Awaken on himself when in animal form, just to point out the stupidest one. There are also situations where a character can polymorph to a creature type that is immune to polymorph. So what the hell happens then? No, this was a bad idea that needs to be rolled back.
      [P]5.) On a similar note, 3.5 shapechange grants Supernatural abilities. The number of abusive or even incomprehensible situations this cause will boggle your mind if you think about it too hard. Just as a taste, you can turn into a Choker and regain the 3.0 haste ability of an extra standard action per turn, or (in an example of a really badly written entry), you can turn into a Balor and gain a Vorpal Sword as a supernatural ability. And don't get me started on Barghests and Phoenixes.
    5. Every time someone puts out a new monster book, the opportunity for abuse from those last two points rises exponentially, as new authors put out monsters that don't follow the rules precisely or simply don't consider the ramifications of PCs turning into their monsters.
    6. One good thing on the surface for the 3.5 revisions: No more permanent duration for one version of polymorph, which used to make it worthwhile to turn all your party's fighters into Firbolgs, permanently. BUT, they really just delayed it a few levels, because currently polymorph any object can turn a human into a Firbolg permanently (since a giant might be considered "related" to a human, which makes a total Duration Factor of 9). What's more, PAO will actually give your fighter friend a BOOST to his Intelligence, for free, when you permanently polymorph him into a Firbolg. Who thought THAT was a good idea??
    7. All the shapechanging magic gives a +10 unnamed bonus to Disguise, which stacks with itself. So you can polymorph yourself into a human, cast alter self and disguise self and end up with a +30 bonus to Disguise. Ummmm…no thanks.
    8. On a related note, alter self is abusable in combo with polymorph by using the latter spell to take the form of a creature with ultra-high physical stats, and then casting the former to regain your normal appearance. So you can walk around all day with the stats and abilities of a Firbolg or troll but still look like you. No, these effects clearly need to replace one another, not stack.


    Building the Foundation:
    1. There needs to still be a 4th level and a 9th level version of shapechanging spell, whatever form it takes. Further, every class or major monster with shapechanging abilities needs to work with whatever I come up with.
    2. Shapechanging is just that: The change of the shape. I want to move away from the idea that you actually become whatever creature whose shape you mimic and towards the idea that it is still you, just reconfigured. That means certain abilities will stay unaltered, and that ability scores will be based on your actual ability scores.
    3. There need to be limits on certain features to prevent unforeseen abuse when some author writes a 1 Hit Dice creature with a +34 natural armor class bonus. Again, move away from the idea of being able to have it when you polymorph just because it's written in the monster description.
    4. I don't want poison or other "milkable" monster traits to function. If the poison spell is 4th level, it is hard to justify a spell that is the same level but lets you poison someone again and again, and possibly with a nastier poison.


    The Big Reveal:

    This is going to be in two parts. This week, the basics of my new plan: the Polymorphed Creature template and the spells that grant it. In Part 2, I deal with turning creatures into inanimate objects, offensive polymorphing, wild shape, alter self, and monsters.

    Polymorphed Creature
    "Polymorphed" is a temporary acquired template that can be added to any aberration, animal, construct, dragon, elemental, fey, giant, humanoid, magical beast, monstrous humanoid, outsider, undead, or vermin. The shapeshifted creature (known as the "base creature") takes on the shape and some of the characteristics of another creature (the "assumed shape"). Which creature types are available for the assumed shape are dependent on the spell, spell-like ability, or supernatural ability that grants the Polymorphed template. The assumed shape must always be the base form of the creature, and cannot be a version of the creature advanced in Hit Dice in any way.

    A polymorphed creature uses all of the base creature's statistics and abilities except as noted here. Do not recalculate the creature's Hit Dice, base attack bonus, base saves, feats (including racial bonus feats and proficiencies) or skill points. For purposes of this template, a "racial" ability is inherent to any member of the creature in question's race; the template does not grant or remove any class abilities, even if it has the same name as a racial ability.

    Size: The polymorphed creature takes on the size of the assumed shape, although note that certain spells or abilities limit the choice of the assumed shape based on the size of the base creature. The creature gains the reach of the assumed shape.

    Type: The base creature retains its own type, as well as all qualities associated with it. For example, an outsider that has assumed human shape still does not need to eat or sleep. It loses any of the following subtypes: Air, Aquatic, Cold, Earth, Fire, Goblinoid, Incorporeal, Reptilian, Swarm, and Water. If the assumed shape has any of these subtypes, the creature gains them. The creature also gains the Shapechanger subtype if it does not normally possess it.The traits of the creature's type remain unchanged as a result, so that a human taking the form of an elemental does not gain immunity to critical hits, but an elemental taking the form of a human does not lose it, either. Remember that the Cold and Fire subtypes grant energy immunities and vulnerabilities, even if not listed, and the Aquatic and Water subtypes allow the ability to breathe underwater. Also, if a trait is listed individually as a Special Quality, such as darkvision, it might be affected (see Special Qualities, below).

    Speed: Same as the assumed shape. The base creature gains additional movement types as the assumed shape, such as a Fly speed, Swim speed, or Climb speed, if they are nonmagical.

    Armor Class: The base creature loses any natural armor bonus it has, and gains any natural armor bonus of the assumed shape, with the following limit: the base creature may not gain a natural armor bonus higher than the caster level of the effect that caused the polymorphing. If a shape is assumed that would normally possess a natural armor bonus that exceeds this limit, the bonus is lowered to equal the caster level. (Use the Hit Dice of the base creature as the caster level if the ability to polymorph is Supernatural.)

    Attack: The base creature gains all natural weapon attacks of the assumed shape. Natural weapon attacks are made using the base creature's base attack bonus, but using the assumed shape's attack routine. The creature may thus not use the same natural weapon to make multiple attacks as it might with a manufactured weapon.

    Damage: The polymorphed creature's natural weapons inflict the same base damage as those of the assumed shape, modified by the creature's new Strength score. Don't forget that a creature with only one natural weapon adds 1-1/2 its Strength bonus to the damage for that attack.

    Special Attacks: The base creature loses any of the following racial special attacks if they are Extraordinary in nature. If the assumed shape possesses any of these qualities as Extraordinary racial abilities, the polymorphed creature gains the same qualities. The DM might allow other abilities that are thematically similar to these, at his discretion.
    • Gross Physical Attacks: attach, capsize, constrict, crush, engulf, impale, improved grab, leap, pounce, powerful charge, push, rake, rend, rend armor, rock throwing, snatch, swallow whole, tail sweep, trample, trip.
    • Elemental Attack Traits: air mastery, burn, cold, combustion, drench, earth mastery, fiery aura, heat.

    The base creature loses all other racial Extraordinary special attacks, including but not limited to acid, battle frenzy, beserk, blood drain, corrosive slime, cursed wound, disease, extract, ferocity, frightful presence, howl, light ray, mimicry, moan, paralysis, poison, quills, rage, sneak attack, spit acid, spittle, spores, stench, or web. As a rule of thumb, any ability that produces a sound, excretes a physical substance or object of any kind, involves reproduction or growth, or requires a a particular state of mind on the part of the assumed shape cannot be gained via the Polymorphed template.

    The base creature loses all racial Supernatural special attacks, and gains none of the assumed shape's racial Supernatural attacks.

    Special Qualities: The base creature loses any of the following racial special qualities that are Extraordinary in nature. If the assumed shape possesses any of these qualities as Extraordinary racial abilities, the polymorphed creature gains the same qualities.
    • Survival Qualities: amphibious, immunity to energy, immunity to poison, fast healing, hold breath, resistance to energy, rock catching, vulnerability to energy, water breathing.
    • Sensory Qualities: blindsense, blindsight, darkvision, keen senses, light blindness, light sensitivity, low-light vision, scent, tremorsense.

    The base creature retains certain Extraordinary special qualities (listed below) and does not take on any of these qualities from the assumed shape. The base creature loses all other Extraordinary special qualities.
    • Damage reduction, magic immunity, regeneration, spell resistance.
    • Any ability to overcome damage resistance granted by type, subtype, or damage reduction.


    The base creature retains all Supernatural special qualities, and gains none of the Supernatural special qualities of the assumed shape.
    Spells/Spell-Like Abilities: The base creature retains the ability to cast spells, if it possessed such in the first place, though the new form may limit the creature's ability to use material, somatic, or verbal components. The subject never gains any spellcasting ability possessed by the assumed shape.

    The base creature keeps all spell-like abilities, and gains none of those possessed by the assumed shape.

    Saving Throws: The base creature loses all racial bonuses to saves. If the assumed shape possesses any racial bonuses to saving throws against any effect, the polymorphed creature gains equal bonuses.

    Abilities: The base creature loses all racial modifiers to Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution, and gains the racial modifiers to Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution belonging to the assumed shape. The base creature may not gain a racial bonus to any ability score that is greater than the caster level of the effect that caused the polymorphing. If a shape is assumed that would normally possess a racial ability score bonus that exceeds this limit, the bonus is lowered to equal the caster level. (Use the Hit Dice of the base creature as the caster level if the ability to polymorph is Supernatural.) The racial ability scores of the assumed shape can be determined by subtracting 10 (if even) or 11 (if odd) from the creature's listed score.

    The base creature does not gain or lose hit points as a result of any change in Constitution. The base creature cannot gain or lose a Constitution score, either; if the creature is turning into a creature with no Constitution (an undead or construct), it instead merely becomes a living facsimile of the assumed shape. Likewise, an undead creature or construct that polymorphs into a shape that would have a Constitution score does not gain one. A creature cannot be returned from death or undeath, or granted life, as a result of the Polymorphed template.

    Skills: The base creature loses any racial skill bonuses to any Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution-based skills, as well as the Listen, Search, and Spot skills. The creature gains any such racial skill bonus possessed by the assumed shape. The creature is considered to be disguised as a member of the assumed shape, and gains a +10 shapechanging bonus to Disguise skill checks.

    Equipment: Because it is temporary, the Polymorphed Template affects the equipment and possessions of the creature at the moment that they acquire it. When the spell takes effect, the equipment worn or held by the target is affected depending on its nature:
    • If the equipment is the proper size and can be used by the new form "as-is", the equipment is unaffected.
    • If the equipment is not the proper size, but could otherwise be used, then it grows or shrinks to a usable size. No other aspects of the equipment is altered; the clothing does not change color or texture to make it any more appropriate to the assumed form, for example. When the spell ends, the equipment reverts to its original size, as it does if the creature drops or removes the equipment.
    • If the equipment cannot be used by the new form, regardless of size, then it melds into the assumed shape and is nonfunctional. For example, if the assumed shape does not have hands or limbs capable of manipulation, any handheld weapons meld into the body. When the Polymorphed template is lost, any melded equipment reappears, in the same location on your body and unharmed.


    Gaining the Polymorphed Template through Spells:

    Spoiler
    Show
    Animorph
    Transmutation
    Level: Druid 4, Sor/Wiz 4
    Components: V, S, M
    Casting Time: 1 standard action
    Range: Touch
    Target: Willing living creature touched
    Duration: 10 min./level (D)
    Saving Throw: None
    Spell Resistance: No

    You transform the target into the shape of an animal, granting it the Polymorphed template for the duration of the spell. This replaces any existing Polymorphed template the creature may have had. The assumed shape must be the most common form of any creature of the Animal or Magical Beast type, subject to the following restrictions:
    • The total Hit Dice of the creature must be equal to or lower than your caster level.
    • The size of the creature can be no larger than one size greater than the target, and no smaller than Fine.
    • The creature cannot be one with a template.
    • The creature cannot have the Swarm subtype.
    • The creature may be the adult form of the creature or any younger form.
    • You must be familiar with the kind of creature chosen. The details of what constitutes "familiarity" are left up to the DM, though encountering the creature of that kind in the flesh certainly qualifies.

    You are free to designate the cosmetic appearance of the assumed shape, choosing the hair color, hair texture, eye color, height, and weight, within the normal range for creatures of that kind. If the base creature possessed the Shapechanger subtype before gaining the Polymorphed template, they may revert to their original form (that is, lose the Polymorphed template altogether) as a standard action. If slain, the subject reverts to their original form.

    This spell dispels animal growth, enlarge person, and reduce person if the target is affected by these spells.

    Anthromorph
    Transmutation
    Level: Bard 5, Sor/Wiz 4
    Components: V, S, M
    Casting Time: 1 standard action
    Range: Touch
    Target: Willing living creature touched
    Duration: 10 min./level (D)
    Saving Throw: None
    Spell Resistance: No

    This spell functions as animorph, except that the assumed shape must be of the Fey, Humanoid, Giant, or Monstrous Humanoid type.

    Aeromorph/Geomorph/Hydromorph/Pyromorph
    Transmutation
    Level: Druid 7, Sor/Wiz 5
    Components: V, S, M
    Casting Time: 1 standard action
    Range: Touch
    Target: Willing living creature touched
    Duration: 10 min./level (D)
    Saving Throw: None
    Spell Resistance: No

    This spell functions as animorph, except that the assumed shape must be of the Elemental type, or of the Outsider type with the Air, Earth, Fire, or Water subtype. In addition, you may also grant the target the form of an Animal or Magical Beast with any inherent template that would cause the creature to gain the Elemental type.

    When you use this spell to take the form of a creature with the Air, Earth, Fire, or Water subtypes, it is a spell of that type. For example, aeromorph is an air spell when used to take the form of a djinni. While the spell is often called by the name that reflects the element being chosen, it is still one spell, not four separate ones.

    Xenomorph
    Transmutation
    Level: Sor/Wiz 5
    Components: V, S, M
    Casting Time: 1 standard action
    Range: Touch
    Target: Willing living creature touched
    Duration: 10 min./level (D)
    Saving Throw: None
    Spell Resistance: No

    This spell functions as animorph, except that the assumed shape must be of the Aberration, Ooze, or Vermin type.

    Planomorph
    Transmutation
    Level: Clr 7, Sor/Wiz 6
    Components: V, S, M
    Casting Time: 1 standard action
    Range: Touch
    Target: Willing living creature touched
    Duration: 10 min./level (D)
    Saving Throw: None
    Spell Resistance: No

    This spell functions as animorph, except that the assumed shape must be of the Outsider type and not possess the Air, Earth, Fire, or Water subtypes. In addition, you may also grant the target the form of an Animal or Magical Beast with the Celestial or Fiendish templates (but not Half-Celestial or Half-Fiend templates) applied. At the DM's discretion, there may be additional templates allowed based on other Outsider types.

    For the duration of the spell, your natural weapons and any weapons you wield are treated as aligned with any alignment subtype your assumed shape would have (Chaotic, Evil, Good, or Lawful), though you do not actually gain that subtype. When you use this spell to take the form of a creature with one or more of these subtypes, it is a spell of that type. For example, planomorph is a Chaotic and Evil spell when used to take the form of a demon.

    Dracomorph
    Transmutation
    Level: Sor/Wiz 8
    Components: V, S, M
    Casting Time: 1 standard action
    Range: Touch
    Target: Willing living creature touched
    Duration: 10 min./level (D)
    Saving Throw: None
    Spell Resistance: No
    The target takes on the form of a mighty dragon. This spell functions as animorph, except that the assumed shape must be of the Dragon type and may be up to two sizes larger than the target's normal size.
    In addition, once during the spell's duration, the target may use the breath weapon (if any) of the assumed shape as a standard action. The damage, area, and energy type are identical to those of the assumed shape at that particular age category. The saving throw for the breath weapon is equal to 10 + 1/2 the subject's HD + the subject's Con modifier (which is itself modified by the dracomorph spell).

    Infinimorph
    Transmutation
    Level: Sor/Wiz 9
    Components: V, S, M
    Casting Time: 1 standard action
    Range: Personal
    Duration: 10 min./level (D)
    Saving Throw: None
    Spell Resistance: No

    You gain absolute control of your form. Once per round as a free action, you may apply or remove the Polymorphed template; the assumed shape may be a creature with any type. Any assumed shape must be the most common form of any creature type and may be of any size (from Fine to Colossal) or stage of development. The assumed shape chosen must be a creature that conforms to the following restrictions:
    • The total Hit Dice of the creature must be equal to or lower than twice your caster level.
    • The creature may not have more than one template applied. Further, any template cannot be one that increases the Challenge Rating of the creature by an amount greater than one-quarter your caster level.
    • You must be familiar with the kind of creature chosen. The details of what constitutes "familiarity" are left up to the DM, though encountering the creature of that kind in the flesh certainly qualifies.


    Other than the wider range of available shapes and the ability to change shape repeatedly, this spell functions as animorph.


    Living With the Rule:

    Spoiler
    Show
    Example 1: A 7th level elf wizard uses anthromorph to take the form of an ogre mage.
    • His size becomes Large, and he gains 10 ft. reach.
    • His type stays Humanoid, and he neither gains nor loses any subtypes.
    • His speed increases to 40 ft., but he does not gain a fly speed, as the ogre mage's ability to fly is specifically called out as a Supernatural ability.
    • He gains a +5 natural armor bonus.
    • He gains no natural weapon attacks.
    • He gains no special attacks.
    • He gains darkvision and low-light vision. He does not gain the ogre mage's spell resistance or regeneration.
    • He gains none of the ogre mage's spell-like abilities.
    • He loses his racial +2 bonus against enchantment spells.
    • He loses his +2 racial bonus to Dexterity and his -2 racial bonus to Constitution. The ogre mage's racial adjustments are +10 Strength, +0 Dex, and +6 Constitution. Because he is a 7th level caster, however, he cannot gain the full Strength bonus and must settle for gaining +7 Strength, +0 Dexterity, and +6 Constitution.
    • He loses his racial bonus to Listen, Search, and Spot skills.
    • His equipment grows to be appropriate for a Large-sized creature.


    Example 2: A 15th level dwarven cleric casts planomorph and takes the form of a planetar.
    • His size becomes Large, and he gains 10 ft. reach.
    • His type remains Humanoid. While he does not gain the Good subtype, his natural and manufactured weapons are treated as good-aligned weapons.
    • His speed increases to 30 ft., and he gains a fly speed of 90 ft. (with good maneuverability).
    • A planetar has a +19 natural armor bonus, but as the cleric's caster level is only 15, so he only gains a +15 bonus.
    • He gains a slam attack that inflicts 2d8 damage, plus 1-1/2 his Strength bonus.
    • He gains no special attacks.
    • He gains darkvision, low-light vision, immunity to acid, immunity to cold, resistance to electricity 10, resistance to fire 10. He does not gain the planetar's damage reduction, regeneration, or spell resistance. He does not gain immunity to petrification, because it is not on the list of special qualities gained. He does not gain the protective aura or tongues abilities, because these are Supernatural.
    • He gains none of the planetar's spell-like abilities or spells.
    • He loses his dwarven +2 racial bonuses against spells and poisons, but gains the planetar's +4 racial bonus against poison.
    • He loses his +2 racial bonus to Constitution but not his -2 racial bonus to Charisma (because it is a mental ability score). He gains the planetar's racial ability adjustments of +14 Strength, +8 Dexterity, and +10 Constitution.
    • He loses his +2 racial bonus on Search checks concerning stonework. This may seem odd, but it's a necessary simplification, as many creatures have bonuses to Search based on superior eyesight.
    • His weapon and shield grow to be appropriate for a Large-sized creature. His armor, however, is not able to accommodate the planetar's wings, and thus melds into his new form.
    • The dwarf retains his conditional dodge bonus against giants, his stability bonus against bull rush or trip attacks, and his attack bonus against orcs and goblinoids.
    • He retains his ability to turn undead. While this is a Supernatural special attack, it is not a racial special attack, and thus is not affected by being polymorphed.


    Example 3: A very old silver dragon uses its natural Shapechanging ability to take on the shape of a halfling.
    • His size drops from Huge to Small, and he loses his reach.
    • His type remains Dragon, but he loses his Cold subtype.
    • His speed drops to 20 ft., and he loses his fly speed.
    • He loses his natural armor bonus of +30.
    • He loses his claw, bite, tail slap, wing, and crush natural weapon attacks.
    • He gains no special attacks, and loses his Supernatural breath weapon.
    • He loses his blindsense, darkvision, frightful presence, immunity to acid, immunity to cold, keen senses, and vulnerability to fire. He retains his cloudwalking ability, as it is a Supernatural special quality. He retains his spell resistance and damage reduction.
    • He retains the use of his spells and spell-like abilities.
    • He gains the halfling's +1 racial bonus to all saving throws. He does not gain the halfling's +2 bonus against fear effects because that is a morale bonus, not a racial bonus.
    • He loses his +22 racial bonus to Strength and his +12 racial bonus to Constitution. He gains the halfling's +2 racial bonus to Dexterity and -2 racial penalty to Strength.
    • He gains the halfling's +2 racial bonus to Climb, Jump, Listen, and Move Silently skills.
    • Since he doesn't normally use any equipment, he is naked and weaponless when the transformation is complete (though he might keep appropriate clothing available for such situations).
    • The dragon does not gain the halfling's racial bonus to attack rolls with slings.
    Rich Burlew



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  4. - Top - End - #4
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    Default This Old Rule: Polymorph, Part 2

    This Old Rule: Polymorph, Part 2

    At long last, I have finished the other components necessary for my Polymorph Revision. I have also gone back and revised the original article to reflect feedback and things I just plain forgot the first time around. If you haven't read that yet, I suggest you do so now, since this won't make a lick of sense otherwise.

    Additional Spells:

    Spoiler
    Show
    Alter
    Transmutation
    Level: Brd 2, Sor/Wiz 2
    Components: V, S, M
    Casting Time: 1 standard action
    Range: Touch
    Target: Willing living creature
    Duration: 1 hour./level (D)
    Saving Throw: None
    Spell Resistance: No

    You alter the surface features of the target creature to look different in some way. You need not limit your alterations to what would be the natural range of choices for the target creature; indeed, you may alter the creature's appearance so dramatically (within the guidelines presented below) that it appears to be a member of another species entirely--even a species that does not exist! You must stay within the general range of the creature's type, however; you cannot make a human look exactly like a bear, for example, but you could make him look like a bear-like humanoid, even if you have no knowledge of such a humanoid race existing.

    You may change the target's coloration, skin texture, facial features, or other topographical details as you wish. You may lengthen or shorten their hair, or cause the appearance of hair or fur to grow where it did not before. You may increase or decrease their height slightly, as long as they remain within the same size class. You may cause them to appear to gain or lose body fat or muscle, giving them the appearance of being up to 25% heavier or lighter, though their actual mass does not change. You may make the creature appear to be of the opposite gender, or of no gender. You may shape the creature's flesh to give it imitation claws, horns, or fangs, or other features, though any such changes are nonfunctional and cannot be used as natural weapons. You can even make the creature look as if it has additional limbs, such as a tail or wings or an extra arm, but they cannot be used (or even moved) by the subject unless they normally possess such a limb. You may not create additional working hands from feet or other limbs, nor can you reduce the number of limbs on the creature. You may not make any changes to the creature's skeleton or internal organs at all.

    Alter does not change the target's existing equipment or possessions in any way. However, you can create the appearance of equipment that does not exist, as long as the creature does not have any equipment filling that body slot. For example, you could make the creature appear to be wearing a helmet if it is not, but if the creature were wearing an actual hat or helmet, you could not hide the fact. No equipment mimicked in this way can be used to make an attack or provide any AC, skill, or save bonuses of any kind; it is completely nonfunctional. It i, in fact, a part of the creature, and cannot be removed or separated from it.

    Alter counts as a disguise on the target creature, and grants +6 shapechanging bonus and a +4 circumstance bonus to your Disguise check. You may alter a creature that has been granted the Polymorphed template, but note that alter cannot change a creature's size or fundamental structure, so that you cannot anthromorph oneself into a troll and then use alter to appear human. Applying the Polymorphed also template dispels alter, if the subject is under this spell's effects. A true seeing spell reveals the target's natural appearance.

    Material Component: A tiny lump of blue clay.


    Animorph, Mass
    Transmutation
    Level: Animal 7, Druid 8
    Components: V, S, DF
    Casting Time: 1 standard action
    Range: Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
    Target: Up to one willing living creature per level, all within 30 ft. of each other.
    Duration: 1 hour/level (D)
    Saving Throw: None
    Spell Resistance: No

    As animorph, except that you apply the Polymorphed template to up to one willing creature per caster level. You must choose the same assumed shape for all of the targets, and it must be of the Animal type (not the Magical Beast type). Recipients remain in the animal shape until the spell expires or you choose to dismiss it for all targets. In addition, each subject may choose to remove the template (and thus return to their true form) as a full-round action.


    Necromorph
    Transmutation
    Level: Clr 5, Sor/Wiz 4
    Components: V, S, M
    Casting Time: 1 standard action
    Range: Touch
    Target: Willing undead creature touched
    Duration: 10 min./level (D)
    Saving Throw: None
    Spell Resistance: No

    You may change the shape of an undead creature, granting it the Polymorphed template. This spell works exactly as Animorph, except as noted above and in the choice of assumed shape, which must be that of an untemplated creature of the Undead type, or else an Animal, Giant, Humanoid, Magical Beast, or Monstrous Humanoid with the Skeleton or Zombie template.

    Material Component: A mummified caterpillar.


    Turn to Frog
    Transmutation
    Level: Druid 5, Sor/Wiz 5
    Components: V, S, M
    Casting Time: 1 standard action
    Range: Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
    Target: One living creature
    Duration: 1 day/level (D)
    Saving Throw: Fortitude negates, Will partial (see text)
    Spell Resistance: Yes

    You turn one creature into a frog (or, at DM's discretion, a similar inoffensive Diminutive creature with a Challenge Rating less than 1). The creature gains the Polymorphed template with frog as the assumed shape. None of the creature's equipment or carried objects are changed or meld into its new form.

    If the target fails its initial Fortitude save, it must also immediately make a secondary Will save. If this also fails, the target cannot use any extraordinary, supernatural, or spell-like abilities for the duration of the spell, and gains the Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores of a frog.

    Material Component: A live insect and a tiny gold crown worth 5 gp.


    Transmogrification
    Transmutation
    Level: Sor/Wiz 8
    Components: V, S, M
    Casting Time: 1 standard action
    Range: Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
    Target: One nonmagical object of up to 100 cu. ft./level, or one willing construct
    Duration: 1 day/level (for objects) or 10 min./level (for construct creatures) (D)
    Saving Throw: Fortitude negates (see text)
    Spell Resistance: No

    You may change any object into any other object, or a creature into an object. You may not increase the size of the target, though you may decrease it as much as you like. The final object must be composed entirely of the same substance, even if the target is not, and you may only create a single object. For example, you could turn a horse into a simple longsword (composed entirely of steel), but not a crossbow (composed of wood, string, and metal). You also could not create a pile of copper coins, though you could create either a single copper coin or a large block of copper.

    A creature turned into an object has no Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma scores for as long as the spell is in effect. They are not dead, and cannot be raised, reincarnated, or resurrected. However, they are no longer living creatures, either, and cannot be targeted by spells that do not target objects. Damage taken by the new form can result in the injury or death of the polymorphed creature. In general, damage occurs when the new form is changed through physical force.

    Certain metals have resonances that cannot be duplicated by this spell: gold, silver, platinum, adamantine, mithral, mercury, gemstones, and certain other metals (at the DM's discretion) cannot be created by this spell, though they can be turned into something else. This is part of the reasons why these metals have their value in the first place, and why so many wizards search for the means to turn lead into gold. While iron is viable, any iron objects created do not have the special properties of cold iron. You can create dead organic material, such as wood, rope, bone, or leather, but the object must still be entirely of the same substance, which means you cannot create a complete corpse (which contains dead flesh, bone, blood, hair, etc.).

    Because the spell is permanent, the object created radiates magic and can be dispelled. You cannot create magic items or creatures of any kind (living or not). Magic items cannot be targeted, but any spell cast on the target (even permanently) continues to be active. Only creatures or objects attended by a creature receive a saving throw.

    You may also use this spell to grant the Polymorphed template to one willing construct. You may give the construct the shape of any Aberration, Animal, Construct, Fey, Giant, Humanoid, Magical Beast, Monstrous Humanoid, or Vermin type. The construct retains the appearance of the substance that it is constructed from, so that an iron golem transmogrified into a griffon looks like an iron griffon. Unlike most applications of the Polymorphed template, the construct may keep its own natural armor bonus if it is higher than that of the assumed shape.

    Material Component: A bit of gum arabic and a drop of mercury.



    Spell Changes: The following are minor changes that need to be applied to existing spells to bring them in line with the new Polymorph rules:
    • Alter Self: This spell is deleted and replaced by alter.
    • Animal Growth: This spell cannot target a creature that has had the Polymorphed template applied.
    • Animal Shapes: This spell is deleted and replaced by mass animorph.
    • Baleful Polymorph: This spell is deleted and replaced by turn to frog.
    • Enlarge Person: This spell cannot target a creature that has had the Polymorphed template applied.
    • Polymorph: This spell is deleted.
    • Polymorph Any Object: This spell is deleted and partially replaced by transmogrification. Other effects are deliberately removed as problematic, such as the ability to turn pebbles into humans.
    • Reduce Person: This spell cannot target a creature that has had the Polymorphed template applied.
    • Righteous Might: If the target of the spell has the Polymorphed template, they do not increase in size. They do not gain size bonuses to Strength or Constitution. If the creature already has been targeted by righteous might when it acquires the Polymorphed template, the size increase effect is suppressed for as long as the creature has the template. They still gain the damage reduction and natural armor enhancement effects.
    • Shapechange: This spell is deleted and replaced by infinimorph.



    The Druid
    Replace the druid's existing wild shape, elemental wild shape, and thousand faces abilities with the following:

    Wild Shape (Su): At 5th level, the druid gains the ability to change its shape into that of an animal once per day. The druid may apply the Polymorphed template to himself, as long as the assumed shape is that of an Animal of Small or Medium size. The effect lasts for 1 hour/druid level, or until he chooses to change back. Changing form is a standard action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity. Use the druid's class level for all effects related to caster level, rather than total Hit Dice; any other class that grants wild shape abilities stack with druid levels to determine caster level. This ability otherwise functions exactly like the Animorph spell.

    The druid gains the ability to take the shape of a Large animal at 8th level, a Tiny animal at 11th level, a Huge animal at 15th level, and a Diminutive animal at 17th level. At 12th level, the druid can take the form of a Plant (such as a shambling mound) or a Vermin, with the same size restrictions as for Animals. At 19th level, the druid may take the form of an Animal or Vermin with the Swarm subtype. The druid gains additional uses of the wild shape ability at 6th, 7th, 10th, 14th, and 18th levels.

    Elemental Shape (Su): At 16th level, the druid gains the ability to take the form of an elemental. Similar to wild shape, they may apply the Polymorphed template to himself, as long as the assumed shape is that of a Small, Medium, or Large elemental (air, earth, fire, or water). They may use this ability once per day, and the effects last 10 min./level or until he chooses to change back. This ability otherwise functions exactly like the wild shape ability. The druid gains additional uses of the elemental shape ability at 18th and 20th, and may take the form of Huge elementals at 20th level as well.

    A Thousand Faces (Su): At 13th level, the druid may change his appearance at will as a standard action, as if casting the alter spell on himself. Unlike the spell, however, the druid may only use this ability while he does not possess the Polymorphed template.

    Monster Changes
    The following are notes on how to alter monsters with natural polymorph abilities using the new rules. Technically, most of these notes could be figured out on one's own, but I thought it might be helpful to have them written down. This list only includes monsters in the SRD, but you can figure out the rules for other monsters based on these.

    As a rule of thumb, if the creature can polymorph only itself and/or has a limited selection of assumed shapes, it gains the Shapechanging supernatural special ability, described below for a number of creatures. This allows it to use its Hit Dice as the caster level, and to maintain a shape indefinitely. Creatures with a large number of spell-like abilities that can polymorph other creatures as well simply replace that spell with a thematically appropriate selection of the replacement spells. Generally, I assumed that no creature should be able to naturally take the form of an Outsider, Elemental, Construct, or Undead without the use of spells. Finally, creatures capable of replicating specific individuals flawlessly get the Alter Shape ability, described below for the doppelanger.

    Spoiler
    Show
    • Doppelganger: Replace the text of the Change Shape ability with the following:
      [indent]Alter Shape (Su): The doppelganger can alter its appearance at will as a standard action, as if casting the alter spell on itself. Because the doppelganger does not carry equipment, it can duplicate the appearance of any worn clothing or armor. The doppelganger can keep its appearance altered as long as it wishes, though it reverts to its natural appearance when killed.
    • Demon (Marilith): The marilith can cast animorph, anthromorph, or xenomorph at will instead of polymorph.
    • Demon (Quasit): Replace the text of the Alternate Form ability with the following:
      Shapechanging (Su): A quasit can change shape as a standard action, applying the Polymorphed template at will. The quasit only knows one possible assumed shape per Hit Dice (usually three). Each known assumed shape must be a creature of the Animal, Fey, Humanoid, or Vermin type, and can be up to Medium size.
    • Demon (Succubus): Replace the ability to use polymorph as a spell-like ability with the following:
      Shapechanging (Su): A succubus can change shape as a standard action, applying the Polymorphed template at will. The succubus can choose to assume the shape of any Fey or Humanoid of Small or Medium size and of the same gender, and can maintain that shape until she chooses to apply a different Polymorphed template or end the effect.
    • Devil (Imp): Replace the text of the Alternate Form ability with the following:
      [indent]Shapechanging (Su): An imp can change shape as a standard action, applying the Polymorphed template at will. The imp only knows one possible assumed shape per Hit Dice (usually three). Each known assumed shape must be a creature of the Animal, Fey, Humanoid, or Vermin type, and can be up to Medium size.
    • Dragon (Bronze, Gold, and Silver): Replace the text of the Alternate Form ability with the following:
      Shapechanging (Su): A (bronze, gold, silver) dragon can change shape as a standard action, applying the Polymorphed template up to three times per day. The dragon can choose to assume the shape of any Animal or Humanoid of Medium size or smaller, and can maintain that shape until it chooses to apply a different Polymorphed template or end the effect.
    • Efreet: Replace the ability to use polymorph as a spell-like ability to use anthromorph as a spell-like ability once per day. The efreet also gains the ability to use pyromorph three times per day.
    • Guardinal (Leonal): The leonal can cast animorph, anthromorph, or xenomorph at will instead of polymorph.
    • Lycanthropes: A lycanthrope uses its own rules for changing shape, and does not gain the Polymorphed template. If a lycanthrope gains the Polymorphed template, however, it is always based off of the lycanthropes non-animal form, even if the creature gains the template while in hybrid or animal form.
    • Night Hag: Replace the ability to cast polymorph at will as a spell-like ability targeting herself only with the following:
      Shapechanging (Su): A night hag can change shape as a standard action, applying the Polymorphed template to herself at will. The hag can choose to assume the shape of any Animal, Fey, Giant, Humanoid, Magical Beast, Monstrous Humanoid, or Vermin of Large size or smaller, and can maintain that shape until she chooses to apply a different Polymorphed template or end the effect.
    • Ogre Mage: The ogre mage can cast animorph, anthromorph, or xenomorph at will instead of polymorph.
    • Phasm: Replace the text of the Alternate Form ability with the following:
      Shapechanging (Su): A phasm can change shape as a standard action, applying the Polymorphed template to itself at will. The phasm can choose to assume the shape of any Aberration, Animal, Dragon, Fey, Giant, Humanoid, Ooze, Plant, Magical Beast, Monstrous Humanoid, or Vermin of Large size or smaller, and can maintain that shape until it chooses to apply a different Polymorphed template or end the effect.
    • Rakshasa: Replace the text of the Change Shape ability with the following:
      Alter Shape (Su): The rakshasa can alter its appearance at will as a standard action, as if casting the alter spell on itself. The rakshasa can keep its appearance altered as long as it wishes, though it reverts to its natural appearance when killed.
    • Pixie: Replace the ability to cast polymorph on itself once per day as a spell-like ability with the following:
      Shapechanging (Su): A pixie can change shape as a standard action, applying the Polymorphed template to itself once per day. The pixie can choose to assume the shape of any Animal, Humanoid, Magical Beast, or Vermin of Small size or smaller, and can maintain that shape until it chooses to apply a different Polymorphed template (on a subsequent day) or end the effect.
    • Titan: Replace the ability to cast polymorph on itself at will as a spell-like ability with the following:
      Shapechanging (Su): A titan can change shape as a standard action, applying the Polymorphed template to itself once per day. The titan can choose to assume the shape of any Giant, Humanoid, or Monstrous Humanoid type of Huge size or smaller, and can maintain that shape until it chooses to apply a different Polymorphed template or end the effect.
    • Vampire: Replace the Alternate Form ability with the following:
      Shapechanging (Su): A vampire can change shape as a standard action, applying the Polymorphed template to itself at will. The vampire can choose to assume the shape of a bat, dire bat, wolf, or dire wolf, and can maintain that shape until it chooses to apply a different Polymorphed template or end the effect.



    Looking Back...
    I felt pretty good about writing an extensive polymorph revision when there were several rounds of official errata on related spells and abilities, including a whole article explaining some of the exact points I made in the introduction. Unfortunately, I still don't think the fixes do enough to address the problems with the polymorph spell.

    A more comprehensive fix (and one that I think is on the right track) was incorporated into the Pathfinder® rules. This is basically the same core idea as I had, just taken even further. Like my fix, it splits the ultra-powerful polymorph ability into several different spells based on the type of form chosen. But rather than allow you to assume any form with level-based limits on how high your numerical bonuses can be, as my version does, the Pathfinder® version simply spells out exactly what you get for each spell, giving fixed ability score and natural armor bonuses and then a list of special abilities that can be granted by that spell. Each creature type then has a series of 2-4 spells that grant increasing bonuses and abilities with each higher-level iteration. Even though this adds about a dozen new spells to the game, it's still an elegant solution. More so than mine, frankly; I didn't go far enough. They did. Credit where credit is due. Just about the only decision I disagree with is keeping the problematic polymorph any object spell, specifically its ability to turn pebbles into humans and the like. That's just confusing.

    The main drawbacks to my fix above is that it still takes a lot of time to figure out what your new form can do. You need to first look through the monster books, then figure out racial bonuses, then determine if those bonuses need to be reduced, then compare the list of Special Attacks and Special Qualities to those allowed by the spell, etc. Does it work from a balance point of view? I think it still does, yes. Does it work from a gameplay point of view? No. It's just too awkward for around-the-table play. I realized that not long after this was first posted, when the sorcerer in the campaign that I instituted this rule chose not to learn polymorph rather than be saddled with the complexities involved! I believe the rule would still work in a play-by-post game, where there's no shortage of time to figure these things out between posts, but for regular tabletop play, I recommend the Pathfinder® version.

    The spells necessary to understand the Pathfinder methodology are alter self, baleful polymorph, beast shape, elemental body, form of the dragon, plant shape, polymorph, shapechange.
    Rich Burlew



    The Holiday Ornament and new t-shirts (top) are from CafePress, while the new OOTS book and the new OOTS calendar (bottom) are available for pre-order at Ookoodook.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Giant in the Playground Administrator
     
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    Default The Bearer of the Ancestral Weapon

    Bearer of the Ancestral Weapon

    What do you think, Grandfather?

    Hmmm...the left flank is well-guarded, my child, but at the expense of the right. If we strike swiftly from that grove of trees, we will be victorious.

    I concur. Do think the tribe's witch doctor will be a threat?

    Nay. When he makes himself known, I shall strike him with magical silence.

    Fair enough. What about-

    "HEY!" interrupted Rokor the Barbarian. "Are you just aboot dun starin' at yer bow, ya loony?"

    Elhoin looked at his companion with a cold glare. Turning back to the intricate carvings on his ancient elven weapon, he mentally apologized to his ancestor: Do not mind him, Grandfather. He does not understand.

    Yes, I see, responded the bow telepathically. He is young, child, but so are you. Only with my aid will you defeat this foe today.

    Of course, honored ancestor. Now, shall we discuss possible...

    The barbarian sat down on a rock and sighed. All the time, just looking at his bow.

    Elves. Go figure.


    To many champions, the greatest honor is to follow in the footsteps of one of their ancestors, particularly one that was him- or herself a great hero. They often choose to wield a weapon of power that their progenitor used in one or more historic battles. Some might even choose to turn their magical skills to the task of using the weapon as a power focus, improving their combat power by honoring their ancestor's blade.

    Those that bear an Ancestral Weapon also use it as a mystical connection to the spirit of their dead ancestor. As they master the magic of crafting magical weapons, they slowly increase the power and clarity of the channeling, until the ancestor's soul inhabits the weapon permanently. The voice of the ancestor can thus dispense advice and aid to his descendant, strengthening the family legacy.
    Bearers of Ancestral Weapons often put more stock in the voice from their weapon than that of their comrades. They are often loners, relying solely on their weapon for backup, but those whose ancestors are particularly personable might find both of them are accepted into an adventuring party as equals.

    Bearer of the Ancestral Weapon

    Requirements:
    To qualify to become a bearer of the Ancestral Weapon, a character must fulfill all of the following criteria:
    Craft (weaponsmithing): 8 ranks
    Feats: Craft Magical Arms and Armor, Weapon Focus (selected weapon; see below).
    Spellcasting: Ability to cast greater magic weapon.
    Proficiency: Proficient in selected weapon.
    Special: In order to pursue the path of the Ancestral Weapon, you must acquire a masterwork weapon that was used regularly by at least one of your deceased ancestors; all feat prerequisites must match the selected weapon.

    Class Skills:
    The bearer of the Ancestral Weapon's class skills (and the key ability score for each) are Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Knowledge (arcana) (Int), Knowledge (history) (Int), Knowledge (religion) (Int), Listen (Wis), Profession (Wis), Spellcraft (Int), Spot (Wis), Use Magic Device (Cha).
    Skill Points per Level: 2 + Intelligence bonus.
    Hit Dice: d8



    Class Features:
    Weapon and Armor Proficiencies: The bearer of the Ancestral Weapon gains no additional weapon or armor proficiencies.

    Spellcasting: At 1st level and at every even-numbered level, the bearer of the Ancestral Weapon increases in spellcasting ability as if she had gained a level in a spellcasting class to which she had already belonged. She gains no other benefits of an increased level in that class, such as bonus metamagic feats. If she belonged to more than one spellcasting class, she must choose one at 1st level to which she must apply all spellcasting increases granted by this class.

    Ancestral Weapon (Su): Starting at 1st level, the bearer learns to use her heirloom weapon as a channel for the spirit of her dead ancestor, granting the object increasing magical power as the bearer advances and achieves deeper levels of meditation. The maximum power of the enchantment is equal to her class level, so that at 1st level, she can grant her weapon a +1 enhancement bonus, while at 10th level, she could enchant it with powers up to the cost equivalent of +10 (such as a +5 holy keen flaming burst longsword). The bearer must still fulfill any prerequisites for enchanting the weapon with a specific power, such as alignment or the casting of a specific spell, but she need spend no gold or XP to complete the crafting. The process takes the same amount of time as normal, however. The bearer of the Ancestral Weapon may repeatedly enchant her weapon as she advances in level, improving the weapon as one would add enhancements to an already magical weapon. Once the bearer has spent the required time meditating on the weapon, it is permanently magical, even if it leaves the bearer's hands.

    If the weapon used to fulfill the "Special" prerequisite for this class is already magical, the bearer may not further enhance the weapon's power until her class level exceeds its current total "plusses". The bearer may only have one Ancestral Weapon at a time; if it is destroyed, she must locate another heirloom that belonged to one or more of her ancestors and begin the process anew. If the new weapon belonged to a different ancestor, the DM is free to have a different spirit possess it, thus altering the lesser and greater powers gained via the spirit (below) to fit the new spirit.

    Unity of Purpose (Su): The magic of the Ancestral Weapon is such that the weapon wants to remain whole and in its descendant's hand. Add the bearer's class level to opposed attack rolls to resist attempts to disarm the weapon from her. The weapon cannot be sundered while it is wielded by the bearer, though it can be damaged or even destroyed while unattended or in the hands of another.

    Greater Unity (Su):By 7th level, whenever the weapon is separated from the bearer, she can sense its direction by concentrating for a full round. She cannot sense the weapon if it lies on another plane.

    Spirit of the Ancestor (Su): As the bearer learns to channel her ancestor, the previous owner's spirit comes to reside in the weapon itself. Starting at 2nd level, the Ancestral Wow becomes an intelligent magical item; the bearer does not need to spend any time, money, or XP for this metamorphosis to occur. The ancestor has difficulty manifesting its will at first, but as the bearer continues her meditations and follows the path of the weapon, the spirit gains in power. Eventually, the weapon takes on the full personality and memories of the ancestor. The bearer presumably attempts to contact an ancestor of similar tendencies as her own; the spirit's alignment is thus always within one step of that of the bearer herself. However, the ancestor may have its own ideas on how to solve problems, and might even attempt to take control of the bearer if their views differ sharply on an issue. The weapon's Ego score is equal to that of a weapon with the sum of its accumulated powers. The DM should fully detail the ancestor's history and personality as he or she would any NPC, and play them appropriately.

    The spirit of the ancestor gains the following powers:
    • Empathy (Su): Starting at 2nd level, the weapon can communicate via empathy, pulsing or throbbing to indicate approval or dissent while the bearer wields it.
    • Speech (Su): By 4th level, the spirit learns to speak aloud, learning one language per point of Intelligence bonus (and gaining an additional language whenever the spirit's Intelligence raises).
    • Telepathy (Su): At 8th level, the Ancestral Weapon has mastered telepathy, and can communicate with its bearer silently while within 30 feet. Either the bearer or the sword can initiate telepathic communication as a free action on their turn.
    • Score Increase (Ex): The spirit of the weapon begins at 2nd level with two mental ability scores of 12 and one of 10; the DM allocates these between Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma as he sees fit. Whenever the bearer reaches a level where a score increase is indicated, the DM increases any two of these ability scores by +1, permanently.
    • Senses (Ex): As the spirit becomes more adept at channeling itself through the heirloom, its ability to perceive the world increases. Its vision and hearing ranges increase, and it gains first darkvision, then blindsense, both of which continue to improve as well.
    • Skill Points (Ex): The weapon gains skill points equal its Intelligence bonus whenever the bearer raises her class level. The DM may spend these skill points on the following skills: Intimidate, Decipher Script, Knowledge (any), Search, Spot, Listen, Spellcraft, Sense Motive, Bluff, and Diplomacy. The weapon has maximum ranks equal to three more than the bearer's class level.
    • Lesser Power (Sp): Whenever the spirit gains a lesser power, the DM chooses any one 1st or 2nd level spell; the Ancestral Weapon may now activate that spell as a spell-like ability, three times per day. The power should reflect the personality and nature of the ancestor inhabiting the weapon; the tables for random determination of an intelligent item's lesser powers may be used instead. The spirit uses its highest ability score to determine the saving throw DC, if necessary, and the caster level is equal to the bearer's class level.
    • Greater Power (Sp): Whenever the spirit gains a greater power, the DM chooses any one 3rd or 4th level spell; the Ancestral Weapon may now activate that spell as a spell-like ability, three times per day. Alternately, the DM may choose a 1st or 2nd level spell that can be used as a spell-like ability at will. The power should reflect the personality and nature of the ancestor inhabiting the weapon; the tables for random determination of an intelligent item's greater powers may be used instead. The spirit uses its highest ability score to determine the saving throw DC, if necessary, and the caster level is equal to the bearer's class level.


    Weapon Crafter: At 5th level, the bearer's experience enchanting her Ancestral Weapon grants her a greater understanding of all magical weapons. She may enchant all weapons of the same type as her Ancestral Weapon for 50% of the normal cost in gold and XP, and all other weapons for 75% of the normal cost. If her Ancestral Weapon is a projectile weapon, she may also enchant matching ammunition for 50% cost. The time required for any such enchantments is not reduced from its original level. In addition, she may also craft magical weapons as if her caster level was equal to her total character level; she must still fulfill any spell prerequisites as normal.


    Epic Advancement:
    Hit Dice: d8
    Skill Points: 2 + Int modifier
    Ancestral Weapon: The bearer of the Ancestral Weapon may continue to enchant her weapon to greater power without spending gold or XP. Starting at 11th level, the maximum "plusses" the sword can possess is equal 10 + one-half of her class levels over 10, rounded down (for example, a 14th level bearer of the Ancestral Weapon could have a +12 weapon, maximum). The bearer may also increase the enhancement bonus on her weapon beyond +5, and select powers with a cost equivalent of +6 or greater, though the standard jump in time spent crafting epic weapons applies.
    Spellcasting: At every even-numbered level, the bearer of the Ancestral Weapon advances in spellcasting power, as described above.
    Bonus Feats: The bearer of the Ancestral Weapon gains a bonus epic feat (selected from the list of epic bearer of the ancestral weapon feats) at 13th level and every 3 levels thereafter.
    Epic Bearer of the Ancestral Weapon Bonus Feat List: Craft Epic Magic Arms and Armor, Craft Epic Wondrous Item, Efficient Item Creation, Energy Resistance, Epic Ancestral Weapon, Epic Prowess, Epic Spell Focus, Epic Spell Penetration, Epic Weapon Focus, Ignore Material Components, Improved Ancestral Weapon, Improved Metamagic, Improved Spell Capacity, Penetrate Damage Reduction, Spell Opportunity, Spell Stowaway, Spontaneous Spell.


    New Epic Feats:

    Improved Ancestral Weapon [Epic]
    Your Ancestral Weapon is the stuff of legends.
    Prerequisites: Ancestral Weapon with at least 2 Greater Powers.
    Benefit: The spirit of your ancestor increases all of its ability scores by two. The weapon also gains the use of a Superior Power; the DM chooses any one 5th or 6th level spell; the Ancestral Weapon may now activate that spell as a spell-like ability, three times per day. Alternately, the DM may choose a 3rd or 4th level spell that can be used as a spell-like ability at will, or two 1st or 2nd level spells that can be used as a free action at will. The power should reflect the personality and nature of the ancestor inhabiting the weapon; the tables for random determination of an intelligent item's greater powers may be used instead. The spirit uses its highest ability score to determine the saving throw DC, if necessary, and the caster level is equal to the bearer's class level.
    Special: You may take this feat up to three times.

    Epic Ancestral Weapon [Epic]
    Your Ancestral Weapon has reached the peak of its power.
    Prerequisites: Ancestral Weapon with at least 3 Superior Powers.
    Benefit: The spirit of your ancestor increases all of its ability scores by two. The weapon also gains the use of an Supreme Power; the DM chooses any one 7th or 8th level spell; the Ancestral Weapon may now activate that spell as a spell-like ability, three times per day. Alternately, the DM may choose a 5th or 6th level spell that can be used as a spell-like ability at will, or two 3rd or 4th level spells that can be used as a free action at will. The power should reflect the personality and nature of the ancestor inhabiting the weapon; the tables for random determination of an intelligent item's greater powers may be used instead. The spirit uses its highest ability score to determine the saving throw DC, if necessary, and the caster level is equal to the bearer's class level.
    Special: You may take this feat up to three times.


    Design Notes: The purpose of this class is pretty obvious; to simulate literary characters who bear weapons whose power dwarves their own. It also allows characters, like a samurai or witch doctor, which engage in regular discussion with their dead ancestors. The idea is that the real power arises from the fact that the weapon created by the Spirit of Ancestor ability can take actions on its own, thus giving the bearer the equivalent of a quickened action each round. The weapon also eventually gets superior sense abilities; the bearer may not get the ability to see concealed creatures, but the weapon can, and can telepathically transmit that information to the bearer. These powers are balanced, however, by the fact that the weapon's spells are chosen by the DM, allowing him greater control. The class also is a decent secondary spellcaster, and can continue to improve the party's magical weapons without a second caster needing to select that crafting feat.


    Looking Back...
    This was the only prestige class from the website that a player actually chose in a campaign I was running. The character in question was a ranger/wizard who thought the Eldritch Knight class was too dull and wanted some unique powers instead of just straight spellcasting progression. Since he was an archer, he considered the Arcane Archer as well, but didn't want to abandon spellcasting entirely. In the end, he chose this class, entering as a 2nd-level ranger/5th-level wizard and staying with the class for eight levels (at which time the campaign ended, though he told me he had planned on finishing it out by that point).

    Generally, the class seemed to work well as written, especially since the character's bow became a crucial member of the party as time went on. With both the main character and the bow having high Spot and Listen checks (along with blindsight at higher levels), the character became the party's indispensable scout, effectively getting two chances to sense danger. The only real problem I found was on days when there were several encounters without resting; on such days, the bow ran out of its spell-like abilities early and had no means of contributing as a separate member of the party. If I were to use this class again, I might allow the player to increase the number of uses of any of the weapon's spell-like abilities by one use per day at 4th, 6th, and 8th levels. Not only would this shore up the bow's ability to contribute all day, but it would give the player additional customization of the weapon's magic abilities beyond what the DM decides.

    Also, I found this class is more or less useful depending on the availability of magic items. If you're running a campaign where players can buy or sell magic items in any town or city with no problem, then this class is a little weaker than if running one where players must find or craft most of their gear. It effectively reduces the ability to enchant the weapon with the bonuses the player wants to being merely a pool of bonus cash that you can spend only on your weapon. On the other end of the spectrum, if you're playing a game where magic items are rare or even unknown, this class may be too good. You may want to consider simply not allowing it in that case.
    Rich Burlew



    The Holiday Ornament and new t-shirts (top) are from CafePress, while the new OOTS book and the new OOTS calendar (bottom) are available for pre-order at Ookoodook.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Giant in the Playground Administrator
     
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    Default The Halfling Rock-Skipping Champion

    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 then—fffft! 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

    Requirements:
    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.
    Rich Burlew



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    Default The Divine Trickster

    The Divine Trickster

    If any of the warriors guarding the Temple of Hades noticed the lithe figure of Fyra Silvereye nimbly darting across the city’s rooftops, they made no indication of the fact. She silently alighted on the dark marble of the vaulted temple, pausing a moment in silent contemplation. The moment of stillness had duel purposes: to verify that her arrival had gone unheard as well as to mentally thank her goddess Tyche for her safety.

    Certain that she remained undetected, she seized up the tiny windows that ringed the temple’s main hall; they would be a tight fit for her, but she was well-trained by her elders in the art of contortion. She would get through, with Tyche’s aid. But she was more concerned by the magical sigils she spied adorning each window. Fyra withdrew from a pouch a special magical paint she used in such emergencies, and she carefully painted over a few key portions of the mystic ward. There was no way to test her success, however, other than to pass over the sigil and pray to her goddess for luck. She held her breath as she moved her foot toward the trap, hoping for the best but prepared for a hasty escape should the sigil explode.

    Closer.

    Closer.

    Nothing. She had disarmed the sigil. With another happy (but silent) prayer of thanks to Tyche, she squeezed through the window and perched at the top of the sanctuary. The hall was an eyesore compared to the blue-and-gold color scheme of her home temple, with black and white banners harshly suggesting death itself. She hated it, but had no time to consider décor at the moment. The object of her mission could be seen below: a young halfling girl sat in a cage near the altar, weeping, set to be sacrificed to Hades in the morn. But directly before the cage stood two abominations: corpses given unholy power to fight for Hades after death. The pair of skeletal remains stood ready and alert, and she knew they would never tire or drop their guard. Further, a large gong stood near the left one, and she had no doubt they had instructions to sound it before attacking any intruders.

    She quietly slid down to floor, and drew a pair of silver daggers, each blessed by Tyche and anointed with holy water. She meditated briefly and felt the familiar rush of positive energy flow through her body; she knew that if she could see herself at this point, her eyes would be afire with a pure white glow. Confident her goddess was with her, Fyra stepped out and flung her first dagger at one of the zombies. The blessed weapon struck true, and burst in a flash of positive energy. The corpse silently disintegrated as Fyra hurled her second dagger. Another strobe of white light left the second undead in the same state. Both down before they could raise the alarm? Tyche was with her tonight.

    Of course, the halfling almost gave away her presence with profusions of thanks, but a slender finger to her lips quieted the girl. Fyra easily picked the lock on the cage, and then spoke a low prayer. She reached and touched the halfling, who disappeared from sight under Tyche’s blessing. She then invoked the same prayer for her own benefit, and started leading the halfling towards the temple exit.

    At the last moment, though, she had an idea, and smiled invisibly to herself. Cautioning the halfling to wait for her, she returned to the altar and engaged in a bit of redecorating after all. She hurried back to the girl, and the pair invisibly walked right out the front door.

    The next morning, the high priest of Hades was angry to learn the planned sacrifice had escaped, but his anger turned to white-hot rage when he entered the temple hall to see, in large painted letters, a personal message from Fyra Silvereye:

    “Hades can SUCK IT!”

    In a polytheistic world, not all churches are formal patrician organizations that teach rigid dogma and rules of behavior. Many gods have more relaxed attitudes towards the world and their followers, and some clerics even actively use the tools of stealth and deception to further the aims of their gods. Known as divine tricksters, these secret agents of the church engage in top-secret missions against enemy religions under cover of night.


    The Divine Trickster

    Requirements:
    Alignment: Any nonlawful.
    Skills: Bluff 9 ranks, Hide 9 ranks, Knowledge (religion) 4 ranks, Disable Device 4 ranks.
    Spells: Ability to cast 2nd level divine spells from the Chaos, Luck, or Trickery domains.
    Special: Sneak Attack +2d6 class ability, Turn Undead class ability.

    Class Skills:
    The divine trickster’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Appraise (Cha), Balance (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Disable Device (Int), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Gather Information (Cha), Heal (Wis), Hide (Dex), Jump (Str), Knowledge (religion) (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Open Lock (Dex), Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Search (Int), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Speak Languages (Int), Spellcraft (Int), Spot (Wis), Swim (Str), Tumble (Dex), and Use Rope (Dex).
    Skill Points at Each Level: 4 + Intelligence modifier.
    Hit Dice: d6



    Class Features:
    Weapon and Armor Proficiencies: The divine trickster gains no additional armor or weapon proficiencies.

    Spells per Day: When a new divine trickster level is gained, the character gains new spells per day as if she had also gained a level in a divine spellcasting class she belonged to before adding the prestige class. She does not, however, gain any other benefit a character of that class would have gained (such as increased ability to turn undead or take wild shape, or domain powers that are based on cleric level), except for an increased effective level of spellcasting. If a character had more than one divine spellcasting class before becoming a divine trickster, she must decide to which class she adds the new level for purposes of determining spells per day.

    Surprise for the Dead (Su): The divine trickster learns to channel positive energy into a nasty surprise for undead who let their guard down. As a free action, the divine trickster may expend one daily use of her Turn Undead ability in order to gain the ability to make sneak attacks or critical hits against undead creatures. This effect last for 1 round per point of Charisma bonus the divine trickster has (minimum 1 round), and applies to all attacks made within that time. The trickster must still meet all conditions for a successful sneaks attack; that is, the undead must still be flat-footed, flanked, or otherwise eligible for a sneak attack, and must be within 30 feet of the trickster if the attack is ranged. In addition, the divine trickster may only make sneak attacks or critical hits against incorporeal undead creature if she is wielding a ghost touch weapon or is herself incorporeal.

    Sneak Attack (Ex): This is exactly like the rogue ability of the same name. The extra damage dealt increases by +1d6 every other level (2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th, and 10th). If a divine trickster gets a sneak attack bonus from another source, the bonuses on damage stack.

    Trap Guidance (Su): The divine trickster gains special intuition into magical traps; at 3rd level, she may add her Wisdom bonus to all Search, Spellcraft, and Disable Device skill checks to find, identify, or remove magical traps.

    Domain Flexibility (Su): Select one of the following domains to which the character has access: Chaos, Luck, or Trickery. The trickster may spontaneously convert any prepared cleric spell (except a domain spell) into a domain spell of the same level or lower in the selected domain, just as a cleric channels energy to convert spells into cure spells.

    Hide in Plain Sight (Su): The divine force the trickster serves subtly distracts nearby creatures from looking in her direction. Starting at 7th level, the divine trickster can use the Hide skill even when being observed.

    Slippery Mind (Su): This is exactly like the rogue ability of the same name, except that it is a supernatural rather than extraordinary ability.

    Restrictions: The divine trickster is obligated to uphold whatever beliefs or mandates are given by the force that provides her divine spellcasting power; failure to do so will cause her to lose her supernatural abilities as she would her ability to cast spells.


    Epic Advancement:
    Hit Dice: d6
    Skill Points: 4 + Int modifier
    Spellcasting: At every additional level after 10th, the divine trickster advances in spellcasting power, as described above.
    Sneak Attack: At every additional even-numbered level after 10th, the divine trickster’s sneak attack damage increases by +1d6.
    Bonus Feats: At 3rd level and every 4 levels thereafter, the divine trickster gains a bonus epic feat, selected from the list of epic divine trickster feats.
    Epic Divine Trickster Bonus Feat List: Automatic Silent Spell, Automatic Still Spell, Blinding Speed, Bonus Domain, Dexterous Fortitude, Dexterous Will, Epic Reflexes, Epic Reputation, Epic Speed, Epic Will, Improved Alignment-Based Casting (Chaos only), Improved Sneak Attack, Improved Spell Capacity, Positive Energy Aura, Spectral Strike, Spell Opportunity, Spell Stowaway, Spontaneous Domain Access, Trap Sense.



    Design Notes: The obvious comparison here is to the Arcane Trickster, which inspired this class. The wizard/rogue multiclass combination, however, has far more synergy than does a cleric/rogue. Rogues benefit more from a high Intelligence than a high Wisdom, and the cleric/rogue will find himself unable to use the cleric’s medium or heavy armor proficiencies if he intends to make use of many of the rogue’s class skills. Also, few of the cleric’s standard spells have much bearing on the character’s stealth capabilities, as opposed to the wizard/rogue’s potential for illusion magic. As a result, I decided the entry to this class needed to come a bit sooner than the Arcane Trickster’s minimum 9th level starting point, so that the character did not need to labor so long with non-complimentary abilities. I thus lowered the spellcasting requirement for access down to 2nd-level spells. With the sneak attack and skill requirements, a character can become a Divine Trickster as his 7th character level. Surprise for the Dead is a way to have the cleric somehow continue to be valuable against undead despite not gaining turning improvements. The class’ most powerful ability is probably Domain Flexibility, which will let the Trickster really fulfill his role as a deception-based caster if he picks Trickery. It comes so early in the class because without it, he’s limited to only a small handful of sneaky spells per day, thanks to the cleric spell list. However, I don’t think there’s much chance of a character abandoning this class after 5th level due to the favorable progression of both spellcasting and sneak attack. In return, he loses hit points compared to the cleric and skill points compared to the rogue, as well as the loss of rogue special abilities.


    Looking Back...
    Oddly, there have been several official prestige classes seeking to reconcile rogue/cleric multiclass characters, but none with a simple progression like this one. Usually, they seem to get caught up on trying to flavor themselves too strongly toward one specific church or organization. I think this class is pretty straightforward and easy to adapt to any campaign. And there have certainly been rules published for using Sneak Attack on the undead that are more powerful than the classes' most powerful ability, Surprise for the Dead (one of which, Penetrating Strike, was in Dungeonscape, though not in a chapter I wrote). In fact, while it may have been a touch powerful at the time I wrote it, power creep in the game has caught up to it such that I think it would fit in fine without alteration now.
    Rich Burlew



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    Default The Elemental Infiltrator

    The Elemental Infiltrator

    Everyone has heard tales of thieves who have made pacts with evil powers from the underworld in return for dark powers, or of heroic rogues who ally themselves with the hosts of the heavens to seek out hidden evils. Told less often, however, are the stories of those who turn to extraplanar powers neither good nor evil. There are those who feel a natural affinity to one of the four cardinal elements and use that connection to open the path to a rarely-seen combination of stealth and elemental power. These elemental infiltrators might be the chosen agents of inscrutable elemental lords, or they might be men and women with the blood of genies running through their veins, or perhaps some other role they keep to themselves.

    The elemental infiltrator is actually four classes, as each of the four elements train their infiltrators for different tasks. A prospective infiltrator must choose one element and fulfill all of the prerequisites for that one element; no one may take levels in more than one elemental infiltrator class. Air infiltrators are supreme acrobats, capable of the most elaborate cat burglaries on record. Earth infiltrators are masters of traps and locks; no matter how secure, no vault can keep them at bay for long. The quick-witted fire infiltrators use trickery and legerdemain to swindle their foes. Finally, water infiltrators are masters of disguise, their features flowing like water from one shape to the next. Each type of infiltrator is master of their chosen technique, but they tend to stop developing skills associated with the other elements that a more well-rounded thief would continue to practice. Thus, elemental infiltrators are often considered specialists after a fashion.

    The Elemental Infiltrator

    Requirements:
    Alignment: Any neutral.
    Base Attack Bonus: +4
    Skills: Each element requires that different skills be mastered:
    • Air: Balance 4 ranks, Escape Artist 8 ranks, Tumble 8 ranks, Speak Language (Auran).
    • Earth: Appraise 8 ranks, Disable Device 8 ranks, Open Locks 4 ranks, Speak Language (Terran).
    • Fire: Bluff 8 ranks, Sleight of Hand 8 ranks, Use Magic Device 4 ranks, Speak Language (Ignan).
    • Water: Disguise 8 ranks, Bluff 8 ranks, Swim 4 ranks, Speak Language (Aquan).

    Feats: Each element requires that different feats be mastered:
    • Air: Combat Reflexes, Dodge
    • Earth: Great Fortitude, Power Attack
    • Fire: Combat Expertise, Improved Feint
    • Water: Improved Initiative, Iron Will

    Special: Sneak Attack +1d6.
    Special: Must either be an native outsider with the appropriate elemental subtype OR have 4 ranks in Knowledge (the planes).
    Special: Must make peaceful friendly contact with an elemental from the appropriate plane.

    Class Skills:
    The elemental infiltrator’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Appraise (Int), Balance (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Hide (Dex), Jump (Str), Knowledge (local) (Int), Knowledge (the planes) (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Profession (Wis), Search (Int), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Spot (Wis), and Use Rope (Dex).
    In addition, each of the four elements has additional skills that are class skills only for them:
    • Air: Escape Artist (Dex), Tumble (Dex)
    • Earth: Disable Device (Int), Open Locks (Dex)
    • Fire: Intimidate (Cha), Use Magic Device (Cha)
    • Water: Disguise (Cha), Forgery (Int), Swim (Str)

    Skill Points at Each Level: 6 + Intelligence modifier.
    Hit Dice: d6



    Class Features:
    Weapon and Armor Proficiencies: The elemental infiltrator gains no additional weapon proficiencies. Earth infiltrators gain medium armor proficiency and shield proficiency, if they do not already possess them.

    Elemental Transition I (Ex): When the rogue first embarks on the path of the elemental infiltrator, they start to slowly take on traits associated with their extraplanar allies. At 1st level, the elemental infiltrator no longer needs to sleep; they need only meditate on the mysteries of their element for 4 hours to refresh themselves (this is similar to an elf’s trance)and they become immune to sleep effects. Their physiology takes on other characteristics of an elemental as well; whenever a critical hit or sneak attack is scored against the infiltrator, there is a 25% chance that it is negated due to his partial elemental transformation. Roll damage normally instead. At this stage of transformation, the elemental infiltrator has no outward signs of his allegiance.

    Find Flaw (Ex): Careful study of the elements allows the infiltrator to find harmonic weaknesses in the pure elemental bodies of creatures from those planes. An elemental infiltrator can make sneak attacks or critical hits against creatures of the elemental type. This ability also bypasses the chance to ignore a critical hit or sneak attack when attacking another elemental infiltrator.

    Sneak Attack (Ex): This is exactly like the rogue ability of the same name. The extra damage dealt increases by +1d6 every other level (2nd, 4th, 6th, and 8th, but not 10th). If an elemental infiltrator gets a sneak attack bonus from another source, the bonuses on damage stack.

    Elemental Transition II (Ex): The infiltrator’s body continues to shift towards an elemental state, granting him immunity to paralysis and a +4 bonus to saving throws vs. poison. His appearance starts shifting towards that of an elemental, perhaps changing his coloration or skin texture; this grants him a +2 bonus to Charisma-based skills when dealing with elementals or outsiders with an elemental subtype. Most importantly, he gains the ability to move through the element he has chosen with ease:
    • Air: Gains the ability to fly at a rate equal to his base speed (good maneuverability).
    • Earth: Gains the ability to burrow at a rate equal to his base speed. Earth infiltrators may burrow through dirt, but not stone or similar hard substances. He does not leave a tunnel behind.
    • Fire: Any racial fire resistance the infiltrator has increases by 10. If the infiltrator does not have racial fire resistance, he gains fire resistance 10.
    • Water: Gains the ability to swim at a rate equal to twice his base. The infiltrator gains the benefits of having a racial swim speed (+8 to Swim checks, may always take 10, may use the run action while swimming.) The water infiltrator can also hold his breath for 4 times as long before making a Constitution check, and need only make such a check every 4 rounds thereafter.


    Elemental Transition III (Ex and Sp): Now clearly resembling an elemental humanoid of some sort, the infiltrator becomes immune to stunning and gains darkvision with a range of 60 feet. He also gains the ability to manipulate his element to hide himself from others. He gains one of the following as a spell-like ability, usable three times per day:
    • Air: fog cloud
    • Earth: stone shape
    • Fire: pyrotechnics (Saving throw is Charisma-based.)
    • Water: alter self


    Elemental Transition IV (Ex): The elemental infiltrator becomes immune to poison. The chance to negate a sneak attack or critical hit increases to 50% as most of their body has transmuted to their chosen element.

    Elemental Escape (Sp): When in a desperate situation, an infiltrator learns to use the plane to which he has pledged himself as a handy escape route. An elemental infiltrator learns to plane shift themselves to their elemental plane once per day at 9th level. They cannot take any other creatures with them except bonded animals (animal companions, familiars, etc.) They may also plane shift from the elemental plane to their native plane once per day. The lack of accuracy with this method of travel makes it useless as a form of teleportation, though, as the infiltrator may well end up 500 miles from his intended destination.

    Elemental Perfection (Ex): After long studies, the infiltrator finally transforms permanently into an elemental. His type becomes “elemental” and he gains the appropriate elemental subtype (Air, Earth, Fire, or Water), as well as the “Augmented” subtype with regards to his previous creature type. This grants him full immunity to flanking, starvation, suffocation, and critical hits, plus the immunities gained in earlier forms of elemental transition. He does not need to meditate or rest at all, and cannot be fatigued or exhausted, though if he is an arcane spellcaster he must still rest for 8 hours before regaining spells. He gains the following additional abilities as an elemental of his size:
    • Air: Air mastery, fly 100 ft. (perfect), slam attack, whirlwind attack.
    • Earth: Earth glide, earth mastery, push, slam attack.
    • Fire: Burn, immune to fire, slam attack, vulnerability to cold.
    • Water: Drench, slam attack, vortex, water mastery.

    The elemental infiltrator is now indistinguishable from a native to their chosen elemental plane, though they are still also recognizable as themselves. They gain a +4 bonus to Charisma-based skill checks when dealing with natives of their plane, but now suffer a –4 penalty to those same skills when dealing with elementals from the opposed plane.

    Unlike other elementals, an elemental infiltrator can still be brought back from the dead as if he were still a member of his previous creature type.


    Epic Advancement:
    Hit Dice: d6
    Skill Points: 6 + Int modifier
    Sneak Attack: At every additional even-numbered level after 10th, the elemental infiltrator’s sneak attack damage increases by +1d6.
    Damage Reduction: At 13th level, the epic elemental infiltrator gains damage reduction 5/--; this increases by 1 every 3 levels thereafter (6/-- at 16th level, 7/-- at 19th level, etc.)
    Bonus Feats: At 14th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the elemental infiltrator gains a bonus epic feat, selected from the list of epic elemental infiltrator feats.
    Epic Elemental Infiltrator Bonus Feat List: Armor Skin, Blinding Speed, Damage Reduction, Energy Resistance, Epic Reflexes, Epic Speed, Epic Toughness, Great Dexterity, Great Intelligence, Improved Darkvision, Improved Sneak Attack, Superior Initiative.



    Design Notes: There are classes with wizards turning into elementals and clerics turning into elementals; why not rogues? That was the key idea here, and I’ll be the first to admit it is inspired by the air genasi rogue I am currently playing in a chatroom game. I looked to the existing elemental transition classes, but most of them focused on elemental damage and resistance. I thought for this class, it would be more interesting to spread out the movement capabilities of the elemental over the course of the class and ignore energy resistance—rogues have Evasion for that anyway. I also spread out the immunities of an elemental, figuring that a rogue would really value them at earlier levels over, say, a wizard who is trying not to get hit in the first place. I tried to balance the Elemental Transition II and III, so that Air has one of the better movement types (flying), but the weakest spell-like ability (fog cloud 3/day just isn’t that impressive at 10th level or so). Water, meanwhile, has the weakest movement type (because everyone can already swim anyway), but a very useful spell-like ability (alter self is always worthwhile for a rogue). The sneak attack progression is meant to mimic the spellcasting progression of the Elemental Savant; full progression until 10th level, when it skips. This will put the infiltrator one or two dice behind a single-classed rogue. He also loses out on skill points and skill list. This is meant to not only balance them, with their large number of special abilities, but also to force a little of the specialization that is often missing from prestige classes. A fire infiltrator simply can’t waste points keeping his cross-class Disable Device skill maxxed, making that the specialty of the earth infiltrator. The large number of prerequisites for the class keep it out of the hands of most casually interested characters, as only a fairly dedicated rogue or bard can even hope to qualify in a reasonable amount of time.

    Looking Back...
    You know, I still like everything I did here. I think this is a solid choice for a rogue character to take.

    Sorry, I don't think I have anything else to say about this one.
    Rich Burlew



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    Default The Champion

    The Champion

    "Run away, little squire!" shouted the demon warrior as he drew his sword. It and its abyssal minions had set upon the Company of the Black Shield mere moments before, and already things looked grim for the heroes. Groanthar the Wild had been bound with magical force he could not overcome, while Riella the White had been knocked unconscious. The squire's master, Sir Thiritan, fought valiantly to drive back the demon, but it seemed the squire had little faith, for he turned and fled down the dark dungeon corridor. The fiend laughed at his apparent cowardice.

    Once out of sight, however, the young squire stopped and quickly began chanting the Holy Intonation of Light. He felt the power rising in him until he literally began glowing with unearthly energy. His flesh transformed into pure gold, and his body became that of powerful man rather than a scrawny boy. With white light surrounding him in a heavenly aura, he drew his mighty greatsword and charged back to the battle.

    "Good thing the squire fetched me," he boomed in a deep voice, careful to cover his secret, "Looks like you could use a hand, Sir Thiritan!"

    "Aha! The Golden Champion!" cried the wounded knight. "Your days are numbered, evil fiend."

    The demon cursed as the Champion charged him, cutting deeply into his supernatural flesh that had healed so quickly from the wounds inflicted by the others. It was pushed back by blow after vicious blow from the Champion's greatsword, until it backed up and, with a sneer, spat, "You win this time, Golden Champion!" In a puff of acrid smoke, it vanished back to whatever plane had spawned it.

    Turning to the Champion, Thiritan growled sarcastically, "Geez, could you cut it any closer next time? Or maybe make it a little MORE obvious than running down the hall and coming back, like, two seconds later?"

    The mighty Golden Champion looked down at his feet. "Um, sorry, Sir. I was, uh.."

    "Whatever. Listen, change back and clean this sword, I've got to get Riella back on her feet."

    The all-mighty Golden Champion spoke the reversal chant and returned back to his normal form. Once again the lowly squire, he began cleaning demon brains off of his master's blade.

    The champion is a common man able to call upon the persona of a mighty avatar of divine power in times of need. This avatar does not come to the champion's side, however; he takes over the champion's body, transforming it into an obvious being of power to smite evildoers. The sight of the unleashed avatar is a either beautiful or terrifying, but few would suspect that such power erupts from the otherwise nondescript champion.

    Adventures: Champions adventure to right wrongs and help others, usually by defeating powerful evil creatures that threaten civilization. While the champion might also have an interest in such worldly affairs as money, the champion's avatar form cares only for its divine mission. Often, the champion finds himself in the middle of situations far beyond his meager battle skills and must call on the avatar just to survive. The champion is really just the link on this mortal plane for the avatar, and is frequently swept up into events over which he has no control.

    Characteristics: The power of the avatar can leap forth from the champion with a single word, transmogrifying his mortal flesh into the immortal power of the avatar. With this power, the champion can wreak terrible destruction on his foes for a short time before the champion's mundane form reasserts itself and he returns to normal. As the avatar becomes more closely bonded with the champion, it becomes more powerful when summoned and can be summoned more often. The champion and his avatar are ultimately separate people, though they share memories; they may have differences of opinion on a situation, and sometimes the champion will summon the avatar only to find that the avatar has different ideas on how to handle a situation.

    Alignment: The forces of Good, either divine or abstract, power the champion's abilities and give birth to the avatar. Should the champion stray from the path of righteousness, the avatar will abandon him in favor of a new host.

    Religion: Most champions gain their powers through devotion to a good-aligned deity, but it is not the only method. A powerful good-aligned outsider could offer the champion the opportunity to serve as his or her vessel on the mortal plane, or even a very powerful cleric or wizard could bind the champion to the avatar. More likely, the champion is of borderline observance to the deity's mandates; if the champion were truly devout, the god would choose him as a cleric or paladin instead. The path of the champion is generally less taxing for the wayward layperson, since the avatar itself is unswervingly loyal.

    Background: Unlike paladins, champions are rarely called from birth or raised to their destiny. Becoming a champion is often a case of being in the right place at the right time-or even the wrong place at the wrong time. A champion might stumble across a holy relic that finds him "worthy enough" to serve as the avatar's link, or perhaps a dying outsider agrees to merge his essence with that of the champion out of necessity. The champion might enjoy the new relationship or they might resent losing control of their body periodically.

    It is often in the champion's best interest to keep the fact that he and the avatar are one person a secret. If the avatar becomes well-known for its strikes against the forces of evil, it might court enemies that the champion, in his normal form, cannot best. Since the champion is limited as to how often he may take avatar form, it is likely that evildoers would eventually ambush him. Thus many champions keep their dual identity secret from all but their closest friends and fellow adventurers.

    Races: Members of any of the common races are likely to find the role of champion thrust upon them; indeed, the informal nature of the champion's service makes it actually more likely that races like half-orcs or halflings find their way to the ranks of champions than one might expect. However, humans still make up the bulk of champions, if only because they are more likely to agree to share their body with the avatar than the longer-lived dwarves or elves.

    Other Classes: Ironically, champions get along poorly with paladins and clerics. Those more formal members of the church hierarchy see the champions, with their part-time commitment, as amateurs and interlopers. Champions get along well with rogues, bards, and fighters, as they have the most in common with these everyman classes (at least until they say their magic word). The champion is not usually a leader in his normal form, preferring to let others take the responsibility. Unfortunately, the avatar is often far more interested in command, which can cause conflicts.


    The Champion
    Champions have the following game statistics.

    Abilities: Charisma is important to the champion's ability to hold avatar form as long as possible, as well as to allay suspicion if the champion wishes to keep his identity secret. Wisdom is useful for the small amount of divine spells that champion learns to cast. Strength and Constitution are most important for the champion's avatar form, which is likely to be interested primarily in combat.
    Alignment: Any good.
    Starting Gold: 6d4 x 10 (150 gp)
    Hit Dice: d8

    Class Skills
    The champion's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disguise (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge (religion) (Int), Knowledge (the planes) (Int), Listen (Wis), Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Spellcraft (Int), Spot (Wis), and Swim (Str).
    Skill Points at 1st Level: (4 + Int modifier) x4
    Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 4 + Int modifier

    The champion's avatar form has a separate list of class skills. The avatar form's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Climb (Str), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Listen (Wis), Spot (Wis), and Swim (Str).
    Skill Points at 1st Level: (2 + Int modifier) x4
    Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 2 + Int modifier



    Class Features
    Weapon and Armor Proficiencies: The champion (and his avatar form) is proficient in all simple and martial weapons, light armor, medium armor, and shields (except tower shields).

    Avatar (Su): Granted the imbued power of his patron, the Champion can transform himself from his normal shape into the shape of an avatar of holy might. Taking avatar form is a free action, but is always a spectacular affair; the champion appears to be struck by lightning, or engulfed in flames, or glow with otherworldly energy. The display is sufficient to immediately ruin any attempt to Hide, and grants a +10 circumstance bonus to the Spot checks of anyone who simply hasn't noticed the champion's presence. Transforming to or from avatar form requires a magic word to be spoken, so that a gag or a silence effect can prevent it from occurring.

    The avatar is a Medium-size native outsider with the Good subtype (even if the champion himself is a different size), and looks only slightly like the champion's normal form. It is always in the prime of life, even if the champion is younger or older, and is obviously virile and powerful. The avatar displays an obvious magical nature, the exact details of which depend on the deity or power that created the avatar; the champion may crackle with an aura of electricity, or have eyes of flame and skin of steel, or any other mystic appearance (subject to DM approval). The avatar is different enough from the champion's normal countenance that it counts as a disguise, even granting a +10 circumstance bonus to the Disguise skill check if someone might recognize him. As an outsider, the avatar has darkvision out to 60 feet.

    The avatar is almost like a separate character, with its own ability scores, hit points, feats, and skills. At 1st level, the avatar's ability scores are based on those of the champion, although the scores may be rearranged as desired for the avatar. Apply the ability score adjustments for the champion's race after arranging them. The avatar may then increase his ability scores 4 times, as if the avatar had gained a level divisible by four. Every champion class level gained thereafter, the avatar may increase one of his ability scores further; the standard increase to ability scores gained every four levels applies only to the champion's normal form.

    The avatar also has gains skill points for every champion level (but not for levels in other classes) and has a different set of class skills than the champion's regular form. The avatar has one feat for every 3 character levels the champion has (regardless of the class). These may be feats he has in his normal form or they may be any feat he qualifies for by virtue of the avatar's ability scores; the avatar gains another feat whenever the champion reaches a character level divisible by three. The avatar has its own base attack bonus and base saving throws, based solely on the champion's class level (that is, attack and save bonuses from other classes or monster Hit Dice do not add to the avatar's values).

    The avatar cannot access any class abilities from any class other than champion, such as spellcasting, fighter bonus feats, smite evil, turn undead, or wild shape. The avatar loses all racial traits as well, with the sole exception of racial adjustments to ability scores. Familiars, animal companions, and paladin mounts continue to serve the avatar as they would the champion, as do cohorts and followers gained from the Leadership feat. The champion cannot use any of his normal feats or skills when in avatar form (except for the bonus feat gained at 2nd level; see below). All equipment carried by the champion changes appearance slightly to match the avatar's overall image (and new size, if the avatar form is larger or smaller), but is otherwise unaffected.

    The avatar has 12-sided Hit Dice equal to the champion's class levels and its own pool of hit points, modified by the avatar form's Constitution. Damage the champion takes when in avatar form comes from this set of hit points, rather than the champion's own hit points. Likewise, damage suffered while in normal form does not affect the avatar's health. The hit point total for each form "freezes" when the champion switches forms, so that if the avatar is wounded, it will still be wounded the next time the champion calls on it. If the avatar is reduced to negative hit points, the champion immediately reverts to normal form (complete with whatever hit point total he had before changing.) If the avatar is outright killed, the champion loses the ability to take avatar form (see below).

    The champion and his avatar must each be healed separately, but the champion can choose to mentally direct any healing spell or effect to which he is subject to heal his avatar rather than his normal self. If either form is subject to a healing effect that would heal more hit points than that form has suffered in damage, the leftover healing may be transferred to the other form.

    The avatar is immune to ability drain, ability damage, disease, energy drain, poison, or polymorph; any of these effects that have taken hold on the champion are suppressed while in avatar form. Any other spell or ability affecting the champion also affects the avatar when it is taken. The avatar is affected by spells that specifically target or affect native outsiders, and is immune to spells that target humanoids only. An anti-magic field suppresses the avatar form as long as the champion remains within, but the avatar form returns if the champion leaves the area.

    The champion may take avatar form once per day at 1st level, and may maintain it for 3 minutes + 1 minute per point of the champion's Charisma bonus (not that of the avatar). At the end of this period, he reverts back to his normal shape, and is fatigued for an amount of time equal to the length of time he held avatar form. The champion can also return to normal form voluntarily, which will naturally shorten the duration of his exhaustion.

    Spells: As the champion continues to serve as the vessel for his deity's will, he gains the ability to cast a small number of divine spells drawn from the champion spell list. A champion must choose and prepare his spells in advance, and may not cast them while in avatar form. To prepare or cast a spell, the champion must have a Wisdom score equal to at least 10 + the spell level. The DC for a saving throw against a champion's spell is 10 + the spell level + the champion's Wisdom modifier.

    A champion can only cast a limited number of spells, as indicated on the accompanying table. The champion also gains bonus spells per day if he has a high Wisdom score. When the table indicates that the champion gets 0 spells of a particular spell level, he gains only the bonus spells he would be entitled to for high Wisdom. A champion prepares and casts spells as a paladin does, and his caster level is equal to half his champion class level.

    Bonus Feat: At 2nd level, the champion learns a single bonus feat that he may use in both of his two forms. The feat must come from the following list: Acrobatic, Agile, Alertness, Animal Affinity, Armor Proficiency (Heavy), Athletic, Deceitful, Deft Hands, Diligent, Endurance, Great Fortitude, Improved Initiative, Investigator, Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, Magical Aptitude, Negotiator, Nimble Fingers, Persuasive, Self-Sufficient, Skill Focus, Stealthy, or Toughness.

    Domain: As the servant of a deity, the champion gains access to one of his god's domains at 4th level. He may add the domain spells to the champion spell list, though he does not gain an additional domain slot per day in which to prepare them. He also gains the domain's granted power, which he may use in either his normal form or his avatar form. If the domain power is based on any ability score, such as the uses per day being based on Charisma, use the champion's relevant ability score, not the avatar's. At 12th level, the champion may select a second domain.

    Energy Resistance (Su): As the champion becomes more powerful, his avatar becomes resistant to various forms of energy. At 3rd level, the champion chooses one energy type (acid, cold, electricity, fire, or sonic); his avatar gains resistance 5 to that energy type. Every 4 levels thereafter (7th, 11th, 15th, and 19th), the champion may choose another energy type to gain resistance 5 against OR increase his existing resistance to one energy type by 5. Alternately, if the avatar already possesses resistance 20 for any energy type, he may exchange it for complete immunity from that energy rather than raising it to resistance 25.

    Fly (Su): At 6th level and above, the avatar can fly with perfect maneuverability. His fly speed starts out at 30 feet per round, and increases at 12th and 18th levels.

    Damage Reduction (Su): Starting at 9th level, the champion's avatar form gains damage reduction 5/evil or silver (if lawful good) or cold iron (if chaotic good). If neutral good, the DM chooses which type of metal overcomes the avatar form's damage reduction. At 17th level, this increases to damage reduction 10/evil or silver/cold iron.

    Perfect Transformation: At 20th level, the unity between the champion and the avatar has been perfected. The avatar increases his resistance to all five types of energy by 5; if any resistance would become 25, the avatar instead gains immunity to that energy type. From this point on, whenever the champion assumes avatar form, the avatar always begins fully healed, even if damaged in a previous manifestation.

    Restrictions: The champion must maintain a good alignment at all times. If his alignment strays to neutral, he finds that taking avatar form becomes very difficult. He must make a Charisma check (DC equals 10 + champion level) in order to transform to the avatar, with failure expending one of his daily transformations to no effect. The champion must atone for his transgressions (often through a quest given to him by the avatar itself) and regain a good alignment or else it will eventually abandon him-as it will a champion who becomes evil.

    If the avatar is killed, the champion cannot take avatar form until it is returned to life. The champion must be the recipient of a raise dead, resurrection, or true resurrection spell, which will return the avatar to life, although neither the avatar nor the champion loses a level as a result. The death and raising of the champion, however, will result in such a loss as normal.

    Champion Spell List:
    • 1st-Level: bless, bless weapon, cure light wounds, detect evil, divine favor, endure elements, magic weapon, protection from evil, remove fear, shield of faith
    • 2nd-Level: bear's endurance, bull's strength, cat's grace, cure moderate wounds, eagle's splendor, fox's cunning, owl's wisdom, resist energy, shield other
    • 3rd-Level: cure serious wounds, fly, heroism, magic circle against evil, prayer, protection from energy
    • 4th-Level: cure critical wounds, death ward, dispel evil, divine power, freedom of movement, holy sword



    Sample Champions:
    Spoiler
    Show
    Grinorm Lighthammer, a.k.a. The Silver Centurion
    Grinorm Lighthammer is the latest champion to emerge from his family. In ages past, the spirit of the Silver Centurion had chosen a worthy dwarf of young age to serve as its vessel. No one was more surprised than Grinorm himself when the spirit of the Centurion possessed him. He was a mediocre warrior and less than devout in the worship of Moradrin. Clearly, though, the Silver Centurion saw something in this young dwarf, and has led him out into the world outside his home tunnels in search of adventure and evil to battle.
    Notes: This low level champion is slightly subpar in his normal form and quite powerful in his champion form. He has focused his feats in both forms to use the same style: fighting with a two-handed weapon in a straight-up engagement. Also, since he will only be in avatar form for a few minutes at a time, he was free to place his low stats into his avatar's Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma.

    Lawful Good male dwarf
    1st level Champion
    Str 11, Dex 10, Con 18, Int 12, Wis 14, Cha 10
    HD 1d8+4, Hit Points: 12
    Initiative +0, Speed: 20 feet/round
    AC 14 (Touch 10, Flat-footed 14)
    Base Attack Bonus: +0
    Attack: Greataxe +1 melee (1d12) or heavy crossbow +0 (1d10)
    Fort +4, Ref +0, Will +4 (+2 vs. spells, poisons)
    Feats: Weapon Focus (greataxe)
    Skills: Climb +4, Diplomacy +4, Listen +6, Sense Motive +6, Spot +6
    Special Attacks: Avatar (1/day, 3 minutes), +1 attack vs. orcs and goblinoids
    Special Qualities: Darkvision 60 feet, stability, stonecunning, +4 dodge vs. giants

    Avatar: The Silver Centurion (1/day, 3 minutes)
    Appearance: A dwarf seemingly made entirely of shiny metal, the Silver Centurion looks almost like a construct but with a glint of holy light in his eyes.
    Lawful Good male outsider (good, native)
    Str 20, Dex 12, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 11, Cha 8
    HD 1d12+3, Hit Points: 15
    Initiative +0, Speed: 30 feet/round
    AC 15 (Touch 11, Flat-footed 14)
    Base Attack Bonus: +1
    Attack: Greataxe +6 melee (1d12+7)
    Fort +5, Ref +3, Will +0
    Feats: Power Attack
    Skills: Listen +4, Spot +4
    Special Attacks: None
    Special Qualities: Darkvision 60 feet, outsider traits

    Equipment: Greataxe, scale mail, heavy crossbow, 40 bolts, 28 gp



    Sindee the Black, a.k.a. The Forest Guardian
    Sindee the Black was simply an elven ranger, patrolling the great unspoiled forest from the depredations of human loggers and poachers. When she came across a dying elder dryad that had been ravaged by evil humans, she swore to wreak revenge on them. Hearing her pledge, the dryad transferred some of her life energy to the elven girl. Now, Sinde can transform herself into the dreaded Forest Guardian, but takes pains to keep her identity secret: only those who harm the woods face her unbridled wrath.
    Notes: This champion focuses on different combat styles for each of her two forms. With a few levels of ranger, her normal form is an expert archer, but when threatened in melee, she can transform to her avatar form, which has selected solely melee feats. This gives her a greater versatility; Quick Draw allows the avatar to quickly switch from bow to sword and shield when called upon. Also note that by multiclassing, her regular and avatar forms are much closer in power; while both have about the same chance to hit, the avatar does more damage and has more hit points.

    Chaotic Good female elf
    6th level champion/3rd level ranger
    Str 14, Dex 19, Con 10, Int 10, Wis 13, Cha 13
    HD 9d8, Hit Points 44
    Initiative +4, Speed 30 ft/rnd
    AC 22 (Touch 14, Flat-footed 18)
    Base Attack Bonus: +7/+2
    Attacks: Longsword +11/+6 melee (1d8+2/17-20) or composite longbow +12/+7 (1d8+2)
    Fort +5, Ref +9, Will +7 (+2 vs. enchantments)
    Feats: Dodge, Endurance (B), Improved Initiative (B), Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Rapid Shot (V), Stealthy, Track (B)
    Skills: Concentration +3, Disguise +7, Handle Animal +4, Hide +17, Knowledge (nature) +6, Listen +9, Move Silently +17, Search +8, Sense Motive +7, Spot +9, Survival +7
    Special Attacks: Avatar (2/day, 4 minutes), Favored Enemy (humans +2)
    Special Qualities: Darkvision 60 feet, immune to sleep, low-light vision, outsider traits, plant domain (rebuke/command plants 4/day).
    Spellcasting: Caster level 3rd, Spells per Day: 1st: 2
    Typical Spells: 1st: cure light wounds, entangle

    Avatar: The Forest Guardian (2/day, 4 minutes)
    Appearance: The Forest Guardian looks like a fey woman surrounded in a mass of writhing plant vines. Her hair is green and her voice is that of a creature of the woods.
    Chaotic Good female outsider (native, good)
    Str 18, Dex 20, Con 14, Int 13, Wis 10, Cha 10
    HD 6d12+12, Hit Points 64
    Initiative +5, Speed 30 ft/rnd, Fly 30 ft/rnd
    AC 23 (Touch 15, Flat-footed 18)
    Base Attack Bonus: +6/+1
    Attacks: Longsword +11/+6 (1d8+5/17-20) or composite longbow +13/+8 (1d8+2)
    Fort +7, Ref +10, Will +2
    Feats: Combat Expertise, Flyby Attack, Improved Initiative (B), Improved Trip, Quick Draw
    Skills: Hide +12, Intimidate +4, Move Silently +12, Listen +8, Spot +7
    Special Attacks: None
    Special Qualities: Darkvision 60 feet, fire resistance 5, outsider traits, plant domain (rebuke/command plants 4/day).

    Equipment: +2 studded leather armor, +2 buckler, +2 composite longbow (mighty +2), +1 keen longsword, boots of elvinkind, cloak of elvinkind, wand of cure moderate wounds, 1585 gp



    Siegel Blacksmith, a.k.a. Olympion the Mighty
    A learned man with some adventurous tendencies, Siegel Blacksmith accidentally uncovered a holy artifact of the celestials that fused him with the power of the mighty Olympion, planetar of good. Siegel wants only to continue his studies, but the spirit of Olympion pushes him to wander the world in search of wrongs to right.
    Notes: This is your basic single-class champion taken all the way to 16th level. In avatar form, he does massive damage, although still potentially less than a 16th level single-class barbarian might. Where the champion shines is his superior defenses (energy resistance and damage reduction 5/evil or silver) and mobility (fly at 60 ft/round). Compared to a barbarian, one can see the real paradigm of the champion: the avatar is slightly better than a barbarian in a rage, while the normal form is far worse than a barbarian out of a rage. The versatility of having two sets of stats and feats is the key to building a good champion.

    Neutral Good male human
    16th level champion
    Str 10 (16), Dex 14 (16), Con 10, Int 13, Wis 14, Cha 18
    HD 16d8, Hit Points 76
    Initiative +0, Speed 30 ft/rnd, Fly 30 ft/rnd
    AC 29 (Touch 17, Flat-footed 26)
    Base Attack Bonus: +12/+7/+2
    Attacks: Greatsword +19/+14/+9 melee (2d6+7, plus 1d6 electricity, 2d6 holy) or longbow +16/+11/+6 ranged (1d8+4)
    Fort +8, Ref +10, Will +15
    Feats: Combat Expertise, Dodge, Improved Initiative (B), Mobility, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Spring Attack, Weapon Focus (greatsword) (B), Whirlwind Attack
    Skills: Bluff +16, Concentration +4, Diplomacy +16, Disguise +14, Hide +7, Knowledge (religion) +13, Knowledge (the planes) +5, Listen +18, Move Silently +6, Sense Motive +14, Spellcraft +5, Spot +18
    Special Attacks: Avatar (4/day, 7 minutes)
    Special Qualities: Strength domain (+16 Strength, 1 round per day), War domain
    Spellcasting: Caster level 8th, Spells per Day: 1st: 3, 2nd: 3, 3rd: 1, 4th: 1
    Typical spells: 1st: divine favor, enlarge person, shield of faith. 2nd: bear's endurance, cure moderate wounds, eagle's splendor. 3rd: magic circle against evil. 4th: cure critical wounds.

    Avatar: Olympion the Mighty (4/day, 7 minutes)
    Appearance: Olympion appears as a 7-foot-tall muscular green-skinned man in white toga with immense angelic wings and white glowing eyes.
    Neutral Good male outsider (native, good)
    Str 26 (32), Dex 14 (16), Con 20, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 13
    HD 16d12+80, Hit Points 190
    Initiative +7, Speed 30 ft/rnd, Fly 60 ft/rnd
    AC 29 (Touch 17, Flat-footed 26)
    Base Attack Bonus: +16/+11/+6/+1
    Attacks: Greatsword +31/+26/+21/+16 melee (2d6+19, plus 1d6 electricity, 2d6 holy/17-20) or longbow +20/+15/+10/+5 ranged (1d8+4)
    Fort +18, Ref +16, Will +9
    Feats: Cleave, Flyby Attack, Improved Critical (greatsword), Improved Initiative (B), Improved Sunder, Power Attack, Weapon Focus (greatsword) (B)
    Skills: Listen +20, Spot +20
    Special Attacks: None
    Special Qualities: Damage reduction 5/evil or silver, darkvision 60 feet, electricity resistance 10, outsider traits, plant domain (rebuke/command plants 4/day), sonic resistance 10, Strength domain (+16 Strength, 1 round per day), War domain

    Equipment: +3 holy shocking burst greatsword (cold iron), +1 longbow (mighty +3), +4 mithral breastplate, ring of protection +4, ring of greater fire resistance, belt of giant strength +6, gloves of dexterity +2, amulet of natural armor +3, cloak of resistance +3, wand of cure serious wounds, 1250 gp



    Looking Back...
    Mourn the champion, for he is the victim of power creep. At the time that I designed the class, permanent flight, energy resistance, and damage reduction were not available as class features for any but the most difficult-to-achieve prestige classes. As a result, a class that gained access to these sought-after defensive powers for short periods of time was entirely reasonable. Unfortunately, then came the Complete line of supplements. The warlock started off the assault, gaining permanent energy resistance and damage reduction naturally and the ability to select nearly-permanent flight capabilities. The favored soul struck next, granting better energy resistance at a lower level than the champion without the restriction on the number of uses per day, then tacked on flight and damage reduction at high levels, too. Many more prestige classes also came out that offered these once hard-to-find powers. Now, the champion's limited access to his powers makes him a far less appealing choice, especially in a high-level game where other classes will have already earned their bells and whistles. To remedy this, add the following to the champion's abilities:

    Energy Resistance (Su): As listed above, but the avatar's energy resistance also makes the champion more resilient. The champion gains energy resistance 5 to any energy form that the avatar has 10 or more points of resistance.

    Damage Reduction (Su): As above, but the avatar's invulnerability makes the champion harder to kill. The champion gains damage reduction 1/evil or silver (if lawful good) or cold iron (if chaotic good) at 9th level, which increases to 5/evil or silver/cold iron at 17th level. At 17th level, the avatar's damage reduction also increases to 10/evil AND silver/cold iron.

    The champion also suffers from the potential need for multiple sets of equipment. If you want to have your avatar form be a bruiser and your champion stand in the back and shoot arrows, you need to invest in different two magic weapons. Luckily, there are two gaps in the champion's class ability list, so I can remedy that one right now:

    Avatar Weapon (Su): Starting at 8th level, the champion can cause one of his magical weapons to change shape along with him when he takes his avatar form. The weapon changes to any one other simple or martial weapon, but keeps all enchantments and is crafted from the same special materials (if possible). The champion chooses a weapon to be his avatar weapon by meditating on it for 8 hours and deciding what its alternate form will be; once chosen, the weapon can only transform to that single shape. The champion can meditate again to switch the ability to a different weapon or to change the alternate form to that of a different weapon.

    Greater Avatar Weapon (Su): At 16th level, the avatar learns to channel a portion of his power into his avatar weapon. When in avatar form, his current avatar weapon gains additional magical abilities equal to a +3 enchantment. This ability can either be a single +3 ability (e.g. a weapon of speed), a +2 and a +1 ability (a holy keen weapon), or three +1 abilities (a shocking flaming frost weapon), as the champion prefers. These abilities can increase the weapon's total number of enchantments above the normal limits of how many special abilities can be present on a weapon. You may not choose an enhancement bonus as a special ability. The champion chooses what abilities are gained using the same meditation process for switching his avatar weapon; the abilities gained remain the same until they are switched.

    Finally, the last problem I see with the avatar is lack of support. Other classes have gotten dozens of supplemental artifacts, from feats to spells to magic items, to support the way they operate. The champion has zilch. If anything, he actually hampers other classes with which he might multiclass. So I took a little bit of time and came up with some feats that should help the prospective champion make the best use of his unique abilities; due to length, they're presented in the next post.

    Hopefully, with these additions, the champion can once more compete with some of the later additions to the game.
    Rich Burlew



    The Holiday Ornament and new t-shirts (top) are from CafePress, while the new OOTS book and the new OOTS calendar (bottom) are available for pre-order at Ookoodook.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Giant in the Playground Administrator
     
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    Default New Champion Feats

    New Champion Feats

    As mentioned in the previous post, one of the drawbacks to playing the champion is the lack of feat support. So I've created 20 new feats to help players out.


    Aesetic Avatar
    Your avatar possesses a unique but deadly calm.
    Prerequisite: Hero Form class ability, Flurry of Blows class feature.
    Benefit: Your champion and monk levels stack for purposes of determining your avatar's Hit Dice, base attack bonus, saving throws, and skill points. You may use your monk unarmed damage, ki strike, AC bonus, and unarmored speed bonus while in avatar form, and you may make a flurry of blows attack. You may freely multiclass between monk and champion levels.
    Special: Both the champion and the avatar must take this feat in order to gain its benefits.
    Special: If playing with the gestalt variant rules, combine your total champion and monk levels to determine your avatar's total number of Hit Dice, even if you gain a level from each class at the same character level. Your avatar cannot have more Hit Dice than you have character levels + 4.
    Normal: Your avatar's abilities are based solely on your champion levels, and you cannot use any class abilities in avatar form.

    Avatar Kinship
    Your avatar starts to take on some of your own racial characteristics.
    Prerequisite: Hero Form class ability.
    Benefit: Your avatar gains the following racial abilities if your race possesses them: Racial skill bonuses, racial saving throw bonuses, racial attack bonuses against certain enemies or with certain weapons, low-light vision, or scent. If your race possesses a natural armor bonus, your avatar gains this as well, but not any natural armor bonus acquired through feats or class abilities. Finally, your avatar is considered to be a member of your race (in addition to being an Outsider) for purposes of magic items, spells, or class abilities that target certain races.
    Special: This feat must be taken by your avatar, not your champion, in order to be effective.
    Normal: Your avatar gains no racial abilities other than ability score adjustments.

    Avatar Knight
    Your avatar is a paragon of chivalry.
    Prerequisite: Hero Form class ability, Smite Evil class ability.
    Benefit: Your champion and paladin levels stack for purposes of determining your avatar's Hit Dice, base attack bonus, saving throws, and skill points. You may use your divine grace, smite evil, and lay on hands class abilities while in avatar form. You may freely multiclass between paladin and champion levels.
    Special: Both the champion and the avatar must take this feat in order to gain its benefits.
    Special: If playing with the gestalt variant rules, combine your total champion and paladin levels to determine your avatar's total number of Hit Dice, even if you gain a level from each class at the same character level. Your avatar cannot have more Hit Dice than you have character levels + 4.
    Normal: Your avatar's abilities are based solely on your champion levels, and you cannot use any class abilities in avatar form.

    Avatar Mount
    When you change to avatar form, your trusty mount does, too.
    Prerequisite: Avatar Knight, paladin mount class ability.
    Benefit: When you change to avatar form, you may choose to transform your special paladin mount to match your avatar form if it is within 30 feet of you. In its transformed state, your mount has the same energy resistance and damage reduction you have and gains temporary hit points equal to its normal maximum hit points (effectively doubling its hit points). The mount also takes on a specific appearance that matches or compliments your avatar's appearance. When you return to your champion form, your mount loses these benefits.
    Special: This feat must be taken by your avatar, not your champion, in order to be effective.

    Spoiler
    Show
    "Kringer became the mighty BattleCat..."


    Avatar Training
    You have given up some of your knowledge in order that your avatar might learn more.
    Prerequisite: Hero Form class ability.
    Benefit: Your avatar learns one feat of your choice. Your avatar must meet all prerequisites for that feat as normal.
    Normal: Your avatar only gains one feat every three character levels.
    Special: You may take this feat multiple times.

    Charging Transformation
    You channel the power of your transformation into a thunderous blow.
    Prerequisite: Hero Form class ability.
    Benefit: When you change to avatar form during the same round as you charge, you gain a bonus to your weapon damage roll equal to your champion level. If you are capable of making more than one attack at the end of a charge, this bonus only applies to the first such attack.

    Crisis Transformationa
    Your avatar can step in and save the day when needed.
    Prerequisite: Hero Form 3/day.
    Benefit: While in champion form, if you would be reduced to 0 or less hit points by an attack or spell, you can change to avatar form as an immediate action by making a Will saving throw (DC=damage dealt). If successful, the damaging attack or spell affects the avatar instead, reduced by any applicable resistances the avatar might have. You may not use this feat if you do not have any daily uses of your Hero Form ability remaining or if your avatar has already been reduced to negative hit points or slain.
    Special: If you have taken this feat, you may also choose for your avatar to take it. In that case, your avatar may also attempt to turn back to champion form in the same manner when an attack or spell would reduce it to 0 or less hit points.

    Divine Avatar
    The power of your deity runs more strongly through your avatar than most.
    Prerequisite: Hero Form class ability, ability to cast 1st level divine spells.
    Benefit: Your champion and divine spellcasting levels stack for purposes of determining your avatar's Hit Dice, base attack bonus, saving throws, and skill points.
    .....You may cast divine spells from other classes while in avatar form if your avatar has sufficient ability scores to do so. Use your avatar's ability scores to determine saving throw DCs and other effects, but your own casting level. You do not gain or lose bonus spells while in avatar form, regardless of how much your primary spellcasting score may change.
    Special: Both the champion and the avatar must take this feat in order to gain its benefits.
    Special: If playing with the gestalt variant rules, combine your total champion and divine spellcasting levels to determine your avatar's total number of Hit Dice, even if you gain a level from each class at the same character level. Your avatar cannot have more Hit Dice than you have character levels + 4.
    Normal: Your avatar's abilities are based solely on your champion levels, and you cannot cast spells while in avatar form.

    Dragonblooded Avatar
    Your avatar is imbued with arcane power.
    Prerequisite: Hero Form class ability, ability to cast 1st level arcane spells.
    Benefit: Your champion and levels that grant arcane spellcasting ability stack for purposes of determining your avatar's Hit Dice, base attack bonus, saving throws, and skill points.
    .....You may cast arcane spells from other classes while in avatar form if your avatar has sufficient ability scores to do so. Use your avatar's ability scores to determine saving throw DCs and other effects, but your own casting level. You do not gain or lose bonus spells while in avatar form, regardless of how much your primary spellcasting score may change.
    Special: Both the champion and the avatar must take this feat in order to gain its benefits.
    Special: If playing with the gestalt variant rules, combine your total champion and arcane spellcasting levels to determine your avatar's total number of Hit Dice, even if you gain a level from each class at the same character level. Your avatar cannot have more Hit Dice than you have character levels + 4.
    Normal: Your avatar's abilities are based solely on your champion levels, and you cannot cast spells while in avatar form.

    Extra Hero Form
    You can summon your avatar more often.
    Prerequisite: Hero Form 2/day.
    Benefit: You may change to avatar form 2 additional times per day.
    Special: You may take this feat more than once.

    Explosive Transformation
    You unleash a mighty bolt of power when you take your avatar form.
    Prerequisite: Hero Form 2/day, avatar with energy resistance 10 or higher to one form of energy.
    Benefit: Choose one form of energy that to which your avatar has resistance of 10 or greater. All other creatures within 5 feet of you when you assume your avatar form take 1d6 points of damage from the chosen form of energy for every two champion class levels. Creatures who are not grappling with you can make a Reflex saving throw for half damage with a DC equal to 10 + half your champion class level + your avatar's Constitution bonus. This ability is supernatural in origin.
    Special: If you have taken this feat, you may also choose for your avatar to take it. If you do, you gain the same benefit when changing back to your champion form.

    Spoiler
    Show
    "SHAZAM!"


    Fearful Transformation
    The very act of taking your avatar form is a terror to behold.
    Prerequisite: Hero Form class ability.
    Benefit: When you transform to your avatar form, you may make an Intimidate check against every enemy that can see you as a free action (using your avatar's Intimidate skill). If successful, affected enemies are shaken for 1d6 rounds.

    Improved Avatar Healing
    You are better at regulating the flow of healing energy to your avatar.
    Prerequisite: Hero Form class ability, ability to cast cure light wounds.
    Benefit: When you cast a cure spell on yourself, you heal both yourself and your avatar the full amount of hit points indicated for that spell.
    Normal: You may direct a healing spell targeting you to heal either yourself or your avatar, but not both at the same time.

    Improved Avatar Kinship
    Your avatar starts to take on more of your own racial characteristics.
    Prerequisite: Avatar Kinship, Hero Form class ability.
    Benefit: Your avatar may use any spell-like abilities possessed by your race; saving throw DCs are based on the avatar's ability scores, but caster level is the same as when you are in your champion form. In addition, if you have spell resistance from your race, you retain it while in avatar form.
    Special: This feat must be taken by your avatar, not your champion, in order to be effective.
    Normal: Your avatar gains no racial abilities other than ability score adjustments.

    Psychic Avatar
    Your avatar can tap in to some of the power of your impressive mind.
    Prerequisite: Hero Form class ability, ability to manifest 1st level psionic powers.
    Benefit: Your champion and psionic manifester levels stack for purposes of determining your avatar's Hit Dice, base attack bonus, saving throws, and skill points. You may manifest your psionic powers from other classes while in avatar form if your avatar has sufficient ability scores to do so. Use your avatar's ability scores to determine saving throw DCs and other effects, but your own manifesting level. You do not gain or lose bonus power points while in avatar form, regardless of how much your primary manifesting score may change.
    Special: Both the champion and the avatar must take this feat in order to gain its benefits.
    Special: If playing with the gestalt variant rules, combine your total champion and psionic manifester levels to determine your avatar's total number of Hit Dice, even if you gain a level from each class at the same character level. Your avatar cannot have more Hit Dice than you have character levels + 4.
    Normal: Your avatar's abilities are based solely on your champion levels, and you cannot manifest psionic powers while in avatar form.

    Stealthy Transformation
    Your avatar is more subtle than most.
    Prerequisite: Hero Form class ability.
    Benefit: You do not need to speak a magic word or phrase to change to avatar form, and your transformation does not ruin your Hide checks or grant a bonus to others' Spot checks.
    Normal: A champion's transformation requires a spoken word or phrase to take effect. Doing so ruins any attempt to Hide and grants others a +10 to their Spot check to notice your presence.

    Stunning Transformation
    You unleash a mighty bolt of power when you take your avatar form.
    Prerequisite: Hero Form 2/day.
    Benefit: When you transform into your avatar form, all enemies within 30 feet must make a Fortitude save (DC 10 + champion level + your avatar's Constitution bonus) or be stunned for 1 round.
    Special: If you have taken this feat, you may also choose for your avatar to take it. If you do, you gain the same benefit when changing back to your champion form.

    Titanic Avatar
    Your avatar is a towering figure.
    Prerequisite: Hero Form 3/day.
    Benefit: When you take this feat, your avatar form permanently gains the Powerful Build extraordinary ability. Whenever your avatar is subject to a size modifier or special size modifier for an opposed check (such as during grapple checks, bull rush attempts, and trip attempts), your avatar is treated as one size larger if doing so is advantageous to him. Your avatar is also considered to be one size larger when determining whether a creature’s special attacks based on size (such as improved grab or swallow whole) can affect him. Your avatar can use weapons designed for a creature one size larger without penalty. However, its space and reach remain those of a creature of his actual size. The benefits of this feat stack with the effects of powers, abilities, and spells that change the subject’s size category.
    .....If you possess the Avatar Weapon class ability, you may choose to have your avatar weapon increase in size when you transform to accommodate your avatar's Powerful Build.
    Normal: Your avatar is a Medium-size creature.

    Twilight Avatar
    Your avatar is a sneaky bastard.
    Prerequisite: Hero Form class ability, Sneak Attack +1d6.
    Benefit: Your champion and rogue levels stack for purposes of determining your avatar's Hit Dice, base attack bonus, saving throws, and skill points. You may make sneak attacks while in avatar form, as well as gain the full benefits of uncanny dodge and improved uncanny dodge.
    Special: Both the champion and the avatar must take this feat in order to gain its benefits.
    Special: If playing with the gestalt variant rules, combine your total champion and rogue levels to determine your avatar's total number of Hit Dice, even if you gain a level from each class at the same character level. Your avatar cannot have more Hit Dice than you have character levels + 4.
    Normal: Your avatar's abilities are based solely on your champion levels, and you cannot use any class abilities in avatar form.

    Warrior Avatar
    Your avatar is highly skilled in the art of war.
    Prerequisite: Hero Form class ability, two or more feats from the list of fighter bonus feats.
    Benefit: Your champion and fighter levels stack for purposes of determining your avatar's Hit Dice, base attack bonus, saving throws, and skill points. While in avatar form, you may make use of any feats you possess that are on the list of fighter bonus feats, even if you gained them from another source. Your avatar also becomes proficient in heavy armor.
    Special: Both the champion and the avatar must take this feat in order to gain its benefits.
    Special: If playing with the gestalt variant rules, combine your total champion and fighter levels to determine your avatar's total number of Hit Dice, even if you gain a level from each class at the same character level. Your avatar cannot have more Hit Dice than you have character levels + 4.
    Normal: Your avatar's abilities are based solely on your champion levels, and you cannot use any of your normal feats in avatar form.
    Rich Burlew



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  11. - Top - End - #11
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    Default The Fey Druids

    The Fey Druids

    "I don't understand," lamented Brother Grindam to the adolescent boys and girls that sat at his feet. He sat with his head in his hands, in a secluded woodland glen where the druids of his order had gathered to teach the young students for generation after generation. He had been taught here himself, and could still remember his master's stern lessons about the importance of understanding the cycles of nature. Druidism, he had been taught, was no lark, no trifle to be played with and discarded. Only deep understanding in the ways of things could lead to the miraculous powers that druids displayed. These were wise teachings that were being disproved as he watched.

    The girl Lianna had been paying absolutely no attention throughout Grindam's lessons today, wandering off in search of cute animals and talking to the other children in the group. He had chided her several times, and when he scolded her a few minutes ago, pointing out that being a druid required a lifetime dedication and wisdom, her childish retort was simply, "Does not." He had given her a glare that was intended to silence her, but instead the pretty young girl had skipped into the woods and began speaking in a foreign tongue. Grindam recognized it as the speech of fey, and was mildly surprised at her proficiency. His thoughts were interrupted when a large black bear appeared out of the woods beside her. He had grabbed his staff and prepared to use his magic to charm the animal, but stopped when he realized the bear was eating out of Lianna's hand. She had summoned it! With no understanding of the magic involved, she had simply called out for a bear to show up, and it had.

    Still dumbfounded by the girl's natural connection to the animal world, Grindam almost missed her climb up on the bear's back. "The dryads were right, you old druids are boring. I'm going to go talk to them, they're fun." In a moment, the bear had left view and the druid was left alone with his remaining students, a look of exasperation on his face. He barely registered the tugging on his green robe until it got more insistant. He looked down to see one of his young acolytes, who pointed after the girl and the bear.

    "I wanna learn to do that!"

    The druid relates to the natural world through meditation, contemplation, and a hard-earned understanding of the cycles of life. But it's not always appropriate for characters with a nature-oriented bent to necessarily be wise. Throughout literature, there are examples of characters whose connection to animals and plants is a result of an inborn nature. Often, these characters are anything but wise; they get by on their charm and fun-loving personality. In order to represent this oft-ignored archetype, the following feats allow a character to play a fey druid: a natural caster who controls the creatures of the woods through their personality.


    Fey Druidic Feats

    Changeling (Epic)
    You have embraced your fey heritage, and it has changed you forever.
    Prerequisites: Fey Blood, ability to cast 9th level druid spells.
    Benefits: Your type permanently changes to fey. You are immune to spells that only affect humanoids, such as charm person. You gain low-light vision (if you did not already possess it) and damage reduction 5/cold iron. Your physical appearance takes on fey qualities, such as elongated ears, dark eyes, and elfin features, and you gain a +2 racial bonus to Diplomacy when dealing with members of the opposite gender.

    Fey Blood (General)
    You have one or more fey as ancestors, and as a result your druid powers come naturally to you rather than from any great insight into the nature of the world.
    Prerequisites: Cha 11+, ability to speak the Sylvan language, humanoid or giant type.
    Benefit: Your druid spellcasting powers are based on Charisma rather than Wisdom. To prepare or cast a druid spell, you must have a Charisma score of at least 10 + the spell's level, and you gain bonus spells based on your Charisma score. The DC for saving throws against your druid spells is 10 + the spell's level + your Charisma modifier. This feat does not alter the means by which you prepare or cast druid spells; you must still prepare spells in advance, as normal. Because you are using your natural fey connection to nature as the conduit for your magical powers rather than any great insight, your spells are considered to be partially fey magic. Any druid of 4th level or higher with the Resist Nature's Lure class ability gains a +2 bonus to saving throws against your druid spells.
    Special: You may only select this feat at 1st level, though you need not possess the druid class at that time. Your DM may limit this feat to certain appropriate races that would be likely to have crossbred with fey over the history of the campaign world.

    Fey Defiance (General)
    Your connection to the spirit of nature allows you to drive off fey creatures without harming them-or protect them from the others who would do so.
    Prerequisites: Cha 11+, ability to speak the Sylvan language, resist nature's lure ability.
    Benefit: You may turn (but not destroy) creatures with the fey type as a good cleric turns undead. The fey's total Hit Dice include those gained from any class levels, and each fey is considered to have Turn Resistance equal to their Charisma bonus. You use your druid level as your turning level, and may activate this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Charisma modifier. You may also dispel the turning of fey by another druid with this feat as an evil cleric can dispel a good cleric's turning effect. You may instead choose to bolster fey against turning in advance, as an evil cleric may bolster undead. Each of these effects also uses one of your daily turning attempts.

    Fey Shape (General)
    Due to your close blood ties, you may turn yourself into the shape of a fey.
    Prerequisites: Fey Blood, wild shape ability (6/day).
    Benefit: You may use your wild shape ability to take the shape of a fey creature with which you are familiar. You gain all of the extraordinary and supernatural abilities of the fey, but not the spells or spell-like abilities. You do not gain supernatural abilities that require a specific fey-crafted object or terrain feature (such as a grig's fiddle, a satyr's pipes, or a dryad's tree dependence), and you may only turn into fey whose Hit Dice are no greater than your druid level. You may not change gender as a result of wild shape, so certain single-gender fey (dryads, nymphs, satyrs) will be unavailable as well. Being in fey shape grants a +10 circumstance bonus for Disguise skill checks when pretending to be a fey.

    Leader of the Pack (General)
    Your unique understanding of the effect music has upon animals allows you to inspire your animal friends to greater efficiency.
    Prerequisites: Animal companion ability, bardic music ability
    Benefit: When you use your bardic music ability to inspire courage, inspire greatness, or inspire heroics in your animal companion, it gains double the normal benefits. For example, a 1st level druid/9th level bard could use inspire courage to grant his animal companion a +4 morale bonus to attack, damage, and saving throws against charm of fear effects, or he could use inspire greatness to grant it +4d10 Hit Dice, a +4 competence bonus to attack and damage, and a +2 competence bonus on attack rolls.



    Looking Back…
    These feats hold up pretty well, balance-wise, but the fact is that they were largely rendered redundant by the Fey Heritage feats introduced in Complete Mage, at least thematically. In order to bring them up to full usefulness in a current 3.5-edition game, classify the Fey Blood and Fey Shape feats above as Heritage feats, then give Fey Shape an altered prerequisite of “Fey Blood or Fey Heritage.” (You may want to change the Fey Legacy, Fey Power, Fey Presence, and Fey Skin feats listed in Complete Mage to have the same option.) The Changeling epic feat is also a Heritage feat, and can have its prerequisites expanded to, “Fey Blood or Fey Heritage, ability cast 9th level druid spells or use Dark invocations.” Its damage reduction should be clarified to increase any existing damage reduction that can be overcome by cold iron weapons. The other two feats are fine as written.
    Rich Burlew



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  12. - Top - End - #12
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    Default Fighter Feat Chains

    Fighter Feat Chains

    In an article I wrote a while ago, I presented some feats designed to help up the options of the fighter. That article presented feats that were specifically limited to fighters, but these feats are oriented in a different way: most of them have too many prerequisites to be reasonable for other classes. The PHB presents a few feat "chains" and a few feats that are more powerful but balanced by hefty prerequisites. Unfortunately, there are not enough of these to sustain the single class fighter into high-level before he inevitably starts branching out. These feats add to the options available to the fighter by adding some new defensive techniques. With some luck, your fighter should be able to take on a room full of katana-wielding guys in Kato masks and come out victorious.


    Accidents Happen [General, Fighter]
    The more opponents you fight, the more likely they are to injure each other.
    Prerequisites: Dex 13+, Wis 13+, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Interference*, Mobility, base attack bonus +13.
    Benefit: If the creature to which you have selected to apply the benefits of the Dodge feat attacks you in melee and misses, you may choose to force it to make an immediate extra attack against any other creature of your choice within its reach that also threatens you. This free attack is at the same attack bonus as the one that missed, and any effects that applied to the original attack against you remain in effect. This feat does not apply if the attack that missed was an attempt to disarm, grapple, sunder, or trip you, nor if it was an attack of opportunity you provoked. This attack counts as one of your attacks of opportunity for the round; you may use this feat no more than once per round, even if entitled to multiple attacks of opportunity per round.

    Combat Momentum [General, Fighter]
    Your attacks gain in power the as you cut through your enemies' ranks.
    Prerequisites:Str 13+, Cleave, Great Cleave, Power Attack, base attack bonus +12
    Benefit: If you deal a creature enough damage to drop a creature below 0 hit points in melee combat, you gain a cumulative +1 circumstance bonus to damage for all melee weapon attacks until the end of your current action.

    Disarming Expert [General, Fighter]
    You are an expert at disarming.
    Prerequisites: Int 13+, Combat Expertise, Improved Disarm, base attack bonus +7.
    Benefit: If you roll a natural 20 during an attempt to disarm a foe, your disarm attempt succeeds, regardless of the final modified attack roll of your foe. You do not suffer any penalty for using a light weapon when attempting to disarm a foe or when a foe attempts to disarm you.
    Normal: Disarm attempts are not automatically successful on a natural roll of 20. Wielders of a light weapon suffer a -4 penalty to make or resist disarm attempts.

    Finishing Move [General, Fighter]
    You are brutally efficient at making sure your dispatched opponents never get up again.
    Prerequisites: Int 13+, Dex 13+, Combat Expertise, Combat Reflexes, base attack bonus +5.
    Benefit: If you deal a creature enough damage to drop a creature below 0 hit points in melee combat (but do not kill them), you may, as a free action, twist your weapon in such a way to ensure their death. The opponent suffers additional damage equal to the base damage of your weapon. You may only take one such free action per turn, and you do not gain a Cleave attack (if you are entitled to one) for dropping that foe if you choose to take such an action.

    Flipping Attack [General, Fighter]
    You may make a powerful somersaulting attack.
    Prerequisites: Dex 13+, Dodge, Mobility, Spring Attack, Tumble skill, base attack bonus +4.
    Benefit: When you take the charge action, you may continue to move after making the attack portion of the charge. The movement must continue in a straight line, up to a maximum total movement of twice your move speed. Moving in this way does not provoke an attack of opportunity from the defender you attack, though it might provoke attacks of opportunity from other creatures if possible.
    Normal: Using the Spring Attack feat does not normally gain the benefits of the charge action, namely a +2 bonus to the attack roll and the ability to move twice your speed while attacking.

    Interference [General, Fighter]
    The more opponents you fight, the more likely they are to get in each other's way.
    Prerequisites: Dex 13+, Dodge, Mobility.
    Benefit: When you are not flat-footed, you gain a +1 dodge bonus to your Armor Class for every two opponents within 5 feet that are threatening you (maximum bonus of +4 if you are completely surrounded).

    Touché [General, Fighter]
    You may attack a foe after disarming him.
    Prerequisites: Int 13+, Combat Expertise, Disarming Expert*, Improved Disarm, base attack bonus +11.
    Benefit: If you make a successful disarm attempt, you immediately get a melee attack against that opponent as if you hadn't used your attack for the disarm attempt, using the same attack bonus. This additional attack may not be a trip, disarm, or sunder attempt.

    Whirling Defense [General, Fighter]
    You spin so quickly when attacking that you nimbly avoid your enemies' counterattacks.
    Prerequisites: Dex 13+, Int 13+, Combat Expertise, Dodge, Mobility, Spring Attack, Whirlwind Attack, base attack bonus +11.
    Benefit: Whenever you make a whirlwind attack, you gain a +2 dodge bonus to your armor class until the beginning of your next turn.

    * Feat is new to this article.



    Looking Back…
    The idea of providing mid- to high-level fighters with more feats at the end of their existing feat chains—rather than additional individual feats—was the force behind many of the feat choices in later books like Player’s Handbook II. However, none of the feats listed in this article overlap any of the feats given there, so these should still be viable in a 3.5 game. (Also, the reference to Kill Bill, Volume 1 in the introduction text seems dated.)
    Rich Burlew



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  13. - Top - End - #13
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    Default Metamagic Feats

    Metamagic Feats

    Metamagic feats are a great concept, but unfortunately they are usually limited to mid- to high-level characters due to the necessity of having spell slots of a level higher than the spell's. A rare few metamagic feats published have allowed you to use them without an increase to the level of the spell slot needed. The logic is that the opportunity cost of the feat, coupled with the need to either prepare the metamagic in advance or take extra time at the moment of casting, are enough to balance the feat's power. I like that idea, but so far most of the feats that use that idea are still not useful for low-level characters. So my idea here is to create a few zero-level-increase feats that I could see a low level wizard or sorcerer taking. (One of them ended up being a little too good for zero-level, but I like the idea too much to abandon it.)


    Bane Spell [Metamagic]
    Choose one creature type from the list of available favored enemies for the ranger class. You can tune your spells to be more effective against that creature type.
    Benefit:A bane spell gains a +2 bonus to the DC for any saving throw for any creature of the appropriate type, but suffers a –1 penalty for any creature of a different type. If the spell inflicts one or more dice of damage, every creature of the right type suffers and additional +2d6 points of the same type of damage. A bane spell uses a spell slot of the same level as the spell’s actual level.

    Lucky Spell [Metamagic]
    Your spells frequently have unusually fortuitous results.
    Benefit:You may make any spell that heals or inflicts one or more dice of damage into a lucky spell. You may reroll any such dice once, up to a maximum number equal to the level of the spell. For example, you may reroll up to three damage dice from a fireball spell, because it is a 3rd level spell. The new result must be taken, even if it is lower than the original roll. A lucky spell uses a spell slot of the same level as the spell’s actual level.

    Seeking Spell [Metamagic]
    Your ray and energy missile spells are capable of guiding themselves to the target.
    Benefit: You may alter any spell that requires a ranged attack roll or ranged touch attack roll so that you take no penalty to your attack roll when firing at a target engaged in melee. If your seeking spell misses due to concealment (but not due to incorporeality), you can reroll your miss chance percentile roll one time to see if you actually hit. A seeking spell uses a spell slot of the same level as the spell’s actual level.

    Suppressible Spell [Metamagic]
    You may temporarily dismiss the effects of your spells, restoring them as needed at a later point.
    Benefit: You may make any spell that is dismissible by the caster into a suppressible spell. When you would dismiss the spell, you may choose to have the spell be suppressed instead; while all effects of a suppressed spell cease as if it had been dismissed, the spell’s duration continues to be counted. While suppressed, the spell is not ended by any action you or the target creature takes that would normally do so. For example, a character under the effects of a suppressed invisibility spell can attack without ending the spell. At any time before the spell’s duration fully expires, you may reinstate the spell. Doing so requires the same type of action as casting the spell in the first place, including any verbal or somatic components needed.
    ----You must be within the spell’s range from the area, object, or creature that was the original target of the spell in order to suppress or reinstate the spell effect. If the spell affected multiple creatures or objects, you may selectively suppress or reinstate the spell’s effects on each of the targets currently within range. There is no limit to the number of times a spell may be suppressed or reinstated during the spell’s duration, even if the duration has been made permanent with the permanency spell.
    ----A suppressible spell uses a spell slot of the same level as the spell’s actual level.
    Normal: Dismissing a spell requires a standard action and ends the spell’s effects.

    Vicious Spell [Metamagic]
    Your spells are particularly devastating, but at a cost to your own health.
    Benefit: You may make any spell that heals or inflicts one or more dice of damage with an instantaneous duration into a vicious spell. The total damage caused or healed by the spell is increased by one-quarter; apply this multiplier after all other metamagic effects. However, when you cast the spell, you suffer backlash damage equal to the amount by which the spell’s damage is increased. This damage cannot be avoided, prevented, mitigated, or redirected by any means. You suffer the full amount of damage regardless of whether or not the spell’s targets make or fail their saving throw (or take any damage whatsoever) or whether the spell is blocked by spell resistance. A vicious spell uses a spell slot one level higher than the spell’s actual level.



    Looking Back…
    As I read these feats, I feel like I was all over the map here. Bane Spell and Vicious Spell are both fine, because there are penalties involved. Casting a Bane Spell at the wrong target reduces the spell’s normal effectiveness, and a Vicious Spell has an obvious cost. But what possible reason would a preparation caster have to not make every spell a Lucky Spell, or a Seeking Spell (or both)? If I were rewriting Lucky Spell today, I would require the player to reroll one damage die of their choice per spell level of the spell – even if they were happy with the original results! That would introduce just enough of a downside that I think most wizards wouldn’t just apply it to every spell they prepared (or if they did, at least they would get screwed by it once in a while). As far as Seeking Spell, I think that effect is probably better served by a General feat rather than a Metamagic one.
    ----Suppressible Spell is acceptable, if maybe a little underpowered; how often does the situation come up where you want to be able to resume a spell? The invisibility example given is the only everyday usage I can really think of. I see no reason why this couldn’t be simply a regular feat that allowed you to suppress any of your dismissible spells. It seems to me that the only reason this is a metamagic feat is that I had decided to write an article with metamagic feats.
    Rich Burlew



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  14. - Top - End - #14
    Giant in the Playground Administrator
     
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    Default Tools of the Trade

    Tools of the Trade

    As a fighter progresses in his career, there is inevitably a point where the quality of his magic equipment is more important than the quality of his training with that equipment. There are simply not enough feats that can be used simultaneously by a high-level fighter; eventually, the fighter begins diversifying rather than specializing.

    These feats are a (partial) attempt to reverse that trend by giving a high-level warrior more options that can be used along with the combat techniques learned at lower level. They also share a theme of "equipment mastery." The fighter thus becomes the man or woman who can coax more out of a specific piece of equipment, be it weapon, armor, shield, or even mount.


    Armor Focus [General, Fighter]
    Choose any specific type of armor, such as chain mail or full plate armor. You are more adept at moving when wearing that armor.
    Prerequisites: Proficiency with selected armor.
    Benefit: When wearing the selected armor type, the armor check penalty applied to your skills is reduced by 1. This reduction stacks with that granted by masterwork armor, but cannot reduce the total armor check penalty to less than 0. The maximum Dexterity bonus for that armor increases by 1 if the armor is medium or heavy armor. These benefits apply both to standard armor and to armors made of special materials, such as mithral or adamantine.
    Special: You may take this feat multiple times; its effects do not stack. Each time you select it, this feat applies to a different armor type.

    Armor Specialization [Fighter]
    Alternate Name: Armor Efficiency
    Choose one type of armor, such as chain mail, for which you have already selected the Armor Focus feat. You are better at using that armor's natural advantages to protect yourself.
    Prerequisites: Proficiency with selected armor, Armor Focus with selected armor, fighter level 4th.
    Benefit:When wearing the selected armor, the armor bonus granted to your Armor Class is increased by +2. This bonus requires activity on your part, and thus the increase is lost whenever you are denied your Dexterity bonus to Armor Class. Because it is an increase in the armor bonus, it does not apply to incorporeal or touch attacks. You may also sleep in this armor without becoming fatigued or exhausted, regardless of its armor check penalty. This benefit applies both to standard armor and to armors made of special materials, such as mithral or adamantine.
    Special: You may take this feat multiple times; its effects do not stack. Each time you select it, this feat applies to a different armor type for which you have learned Armor Focus.

    Epic Armor Focus [Epic, Fighter]
    Choose any specific type of armor, such as chain mail or full plate armor, for which you have learned the Greater Armor Focus feat. You are the undisputed master at moving while wearing that armor.
    Prerequisites: Proficiency with selected armor, Armor Focus with selected armor, Greater Armor Focus with selected armor.
    Benefit: When wearing the selected armor type, you suffer no armor check penalties to any skill. Your Dexterity bonus to your Armor Class is not limited by the armor at all; you may ignore the maximum Dexterity modifier for that armor. These benefits apply both to standard armor and to armors made of special materials, such as mithral or adamantine.
    Special: You may take this feat multiple times; its effects do not stack. Each time you select it, this feat applies to a different armor type for which you have learned Greater Armor Focus.

    Epic Armor Specialization [Epic, Fighter]
    Alternate Name: Epic Armor Efficiency
    Choose one type of armor, such as chain mail, for which you have already selected the Armor Specialization feat. You are even better at using that armor's natural advantages to protect yourself.
    Prerequisites: Proficiency with selected armor, Epic Armor Focus with selected armor, Greater Armor Specialization with the selected armor, fighter level 20th.
    Benefit:When wearing the selected armor, the armor bonus granted to your Armor Class is increased by +4; this bonus stacks with the one granted by Armor Specialization and Greater Armor Specialization. This bonus requires activity on your part, and thus the increase is lost whenever you are denied your Dexterity bonus to Armor Class. Because it is an increase in the armor bonus, it does not apply to incorporeal or touch attacks. This benefit applies both to standard armor and to armors made of special materials, such as mithral or adamantine.
    Special: You may take this feat multiple times; its effects do not stack. Each time you select it, this feat applies to a different armor type for which you have learned Epic Armor Focus and Greater Armor Specialization.

    Epic Mount Specialization [Epic, Fighter]
    Choose one type of mount, such as heavy warhorse or griffon, with which you have learned the Greater Mount Specialization feat. You are specially trained to fight from the back of such a creature.
    Prerequisites: Mounted Combat, Mount Specialization, Greater Mount Specialization, Ride skill, fighter or paladin level 20th.
    Benefit: You gain a +1 bonus to all weapon attack rolls and a +2 bonus to all weapon damage rolls while mounted on the type of creature chosen. Your mount also gains a +1 bonus to attack rolls and a +2 bonus to its damage rolls while you are riding it. These bonuses stack with those of Mount Specialization and Greater Mount Specialization.
    Special: You may take this feat multiple times; its effects do not stack. Each time you select it, this feat applies to a different type of creature with which you have learned the Greater Mount Specialization feat.

    Epic Shield Specialization [Epic, Fighter]
    Choose one type of shield, such as bucklers, for which you have already selected the Shield Specialization feat. You are better at blocking attacks with that type of shield.
    Prerequisites: Proficiency with selected shield, Shield Specialization with selected shield, fighter level 20th.
    Benefit:While wielding the selected shield, the shield bonus granted to your Armor Class is increased by +4; this stacks with the increase granted by Shield Specialization. This bonus requires activity on your part, and thus the increase is lost whenever you are denied your Dexterity bonus to Armor Class. Because it is an increase in the shield bonus, it does not apply to incorporeal or touch attacks. This benefit applies both to standard shields and to shields made of special materials, such as mithral or darkwood.
    Special: You may take this feat multiple times; its effects do not stack. Each time you select it, this feat applies to a different shield type for which you have learned Shield Specialization.

    Greater Armor Focus [General, Fighter]
    Choose any specific type of armor, such as chain mail or full plate armor, for which you have learned the Armor Focus feat. You excel at moving while wearing that armor.
    Prerequisites: Proficiency with selected armor, Armor Focus with selected armor.
    Benefit: When wearing the selected armor type, the armor check penalty applied to your skills is reduced by 1. This reduction stacks with that granted by masterwork armor and that granted by Armor Focus, but cannot reduce the total armor check penalty to less than 0. The maximum Dexterity bonus for that armor increases by 1 if the armor is medium or heavy armor. These benefits apply both to standard armor and to armors made of special materials, such as mithral or adamantine.
    Special: You may take this feat multiple times; its effects do not stack. Each time you select it, this feat applies to a different armor type for which you have learned Armor Focus.

    Greater Armor Specialization [Fighter]
    Alternate Name: Greater Armor Efficiency
    Choose one type of armor, such as chain mail, for which you have already selected the Armor Specialization feat. You are even better at using that armor's natural advantages to protect yourself.
    Prerequisites: Proficiency with selected armor, Greater Armor Focus with selected armor, Armor Specialization with the selected armor, fighter level 12th.
    Benefit:When wearing the selected armor, the armor bonus granted to your Armor Class is increased by +2; this bonus stacks with the one granted by Armor Specialization. This bonus requires activity on your part, and thus the increase is lost whenever you are denied your Dexterity bonus to Armor Class. Because it is an increase in the armor bonus, it does not apply to incorporeal or touch attacks. This benefit applies both to standard armor and to armors made of special materials, such as mithral or adamantine.
    Special: You may take this feat multiple times; its effects do not stack. Each time you select it, this feat applies to a different armor type for which you have learned Greater Armor Focus and Armor Specialization.

    Greater Mount Specialization [General, Fighter]
    Choose one type of mount, such as heavy warhorse or griffon, with which you have learned the Mount Specialization feat. You are specially trained to fight from the back of such a creature.
    Prerequisites: Mounted Combat, Mount Specialization, Ride skill, fighter or paladin level 12th.
    Benefit: You gain a +2 bonus to all weapon damage rolls while mounted on the type of creature chosen. Your mount also gains a +2 bonus to its damage rolls while you are riding it.
    Special: You may take this feat multiple times; its effects do not stack. Each time you select it, this feat applies to a different type of creature with which you have learned the Mount Specialization feat.

    Mount of Choice [General, Fighter]
    Choose a specific mount, such as "Happy, my pet griffon" or "Solosar, my gold dragon ally." You have mastered the art of fighting in perfect cooperation with this creature.
    Prerequisites: Mounted Combat, Mount Specialization with the type of creature selected, Greater Mount Specialization with the type of creature selected, Ride skill, fighter or paladin level 15th.
    Benefit: You gain a +2 bonus to all Ride and Handle Animal skill checks with regards to the specific creature chosen. If you begin combat already mounted, you may roll Initiative twice (adding your Initiative bonus to one roll and that of your mount to the other) and use the higher of the two rolls as your Initiative score.
    Normal: Mounts act on their rider's Initiative, even if the mount has a higher Initiative modifier.
    Special: After learning this feat, whenever your fighter or paladin level increases, you may choose to switch the benefit to a different creature (you must still meet all the prerequisites for that new mount). You may not select this feat more than once.

    Mount Specialization [General, Fighter]
    Choose one type of mount, such as heavy warhorse or griffon. You are specially trained to fight from the back of such a creature.
    Prerequisites: Mounted Combat, Ride skill, fighter or paladin level 6th.
    Benefit: You gain a +1 bonus to all weapon attack rolls while mounted on the type of creature chosen. Your mount also gains a +1 bonus to its attack rolls while you are riding it.
    Special: You may take this feat multiple times; its effects do not stack. Each time you select it, this feat applies to a different type of creature.

    Shield Charge [General, Fighter]
    Choose one type of shield with which you have learned Shield Focus. You have mastered using that shield to protect yourself while charging.
    Prerequisites: Str 13+, Improved Shield Bash, Shield Focus with selected shield, proficiency with selected shield.
    Benefit:You suffer no penalty to your Armor Class when charging while wielding the selected shield. You also gain a +2 increase to the shield bonus granted to your Armor Class against any attacks of opportunity made during your charge by the creature you are charging.
    Special: You may take this feat multiple times; its effects do not stack. Each time you select it, this feat applies to a different shield type for which you have learned Shield Focus.

    Shield Deflection [General, Fighter]
    Choose one type of shield with which you have learned Shield Focus. You have mastered using that shield to bat away attacks that normally need only touch you.
    Prerequisites: Dex 13+, proficiency with selected shield, Shield Focus with selected shield, Dodge.
    Benefit: When wielding the selected shield, you may add the shield bonus to your Touch Armor Class. Include any increases to the shield bonus from feats or magical enhancement.
    Normal: Touch and ranged touch attacks ignore shield bonuses to Armor Class.
    Special: You may take this feat multiple times; its effects do not stack. Each time you select it, this feat applies to a different shield type for which you have learned Shield Focus.

    Shield Focus [General, Fighter]
    Choose one type of shield: buckler, light, heavy, or tower. You are more skilled at keeping the shield's weight from interfering with you movement.
    Prerequisites: Proficiency with selected shield.
    Benefit: While wielding the selected shield, the armor check penalty applied to your skills as a result of that shield is reduced by 1. This reduction stacks with that granted by a masterwork shield, but cannot reduce the total armor check penalty below 0. You may ready a shield for which you have learned Shield Focus as a free action. These benefits apply both to standard shields and to shields made of special materials, such as mithral or darkwood.
    Special: You may take this feat multiple times; its effects do not stack. Each time you select it, this feat applies to a different shield type.

    Shield Mount [General, Fighter]
    You are adept at protecting the life of your mount with your shield.
    Prerequisites: Mounted Combat, proficient with shields.
    Benefit: While mounted and wielding a shield, your mount gains the same shield bonus to its Armor Class that you do (including increases due to Shield Specialization).

    Shield Specialization [Fighter]
    Choose one type of shield, such as bucklers, for which you have already selected the Shield Focus feat. You are better at blocking attacks with that type of shield.
    Prerequisites: Proficiency with selected shield, Shield Focus with selected shield, fighter level 4th.
    Benefit:While wielding the selected shield, the shield bonus granted to your Armor Class is increased by +2. This bonus requires activity on your part, and thus the increase is lost whenever you are denied your Dexterity bonus to Armor Class. Because it is an increase in the shield bonus, it does not apply to incorporeal or touch attacks. This benefit applies both to standard shields and to shields made of special materials, such as mithral or darkwood.
    Special: You may take this feat multiple times; its effects do not stack. Each time you select it, this feat applies to a different shield type for which you have learned Shield Focus.

    Weapon of Choice [Fighter]
    Choose a specific weapon, as in "my father's battleaxe" or "Scorchblade, my flaming longsword +2." You are particularly familiar with that weapon's unique weight and balance, making you that much more efficient.
    Prerequisites: Greater Weapon Specialization with the type of weapon selected, fighter level 16th, weapon chosen must be masterwork and in your possession.
    Benefit: You gain a +4 bonus to opposed attack rolls when someone attempts to sunder the weapon you have chosen or disarm you of it. You also gain a +1 bonus to damage rolls with that weapon; this bonus stacks with those granted by Weapon Specialization and the Greater and Epic versions of that feat.
    Special: After learning this feat, whenever your fighter level increases, you may choose to switch the benefit to a different weapon you own (you must still meet all the prerequisites for that new weapon). You may not select this feat more than once.


    Looking Back…
    Sometimes, an idea is so needed in the game that it’s not surprising that more than one person came up with it. There were a few other third party sources that designed their own versions of many of these feats, too, so when similar ideas showed up in official works, it was impossible to tell whether the designers had adapted one of the extant versions or noticed the gap themselves. As a result, my notes for this article are a little longer than normal.

    Player’s Handbook II introduces feats titled Armor Specialization and Shield Specialization, but they do different things than the ones printed above. The PHBII Armor Specialization does not overlap with mine, so it’s OK to use both (you’ll probably want to change the name of my feat and its descendants to “Armor Efficiency” though, as noted in the descriptions above). The PHBII Shield Specialization, however, is very similar, except that the bonus is half as much and it dispense with the prerequisites beyond simple shield proficiency. Personally, I still like my feat better, since the point was to provide greater bonuses for high-level fighters, but each DM should probably pick one version to use and drop the other.

    Likewise, PHBII has a feat called Shield Ward that is essentially a watered-down version of my Shield Deflection feat. Since the names are different, there’s no reason you couldn’t allow both, though my feat is stronger (for the price of two feat prerequisites instead of one). Conversely, PHBII’s feat Weapon Supremacy covers the same thematic territory of "total weapon dominance" as my Weapon of Choice feat does (without conjuring images of Christopher Walken dancing), but the official feat is much stronger than mine. Still, the two feats technically do not overlap, so there’s no reason a fighter couldn’t learn both.

    Mounted combat hasn’t gotten much love since the original books, so all of the mounted combat feats here are still viable, as are the Epic feats (even if you swap out my non-epic version of Shield Specialization for theirs).
    Rich Burlew



    The Holiday Ornament and new t-shirts (top) are from CafePress, while the new OOTS book and the new OOTS calendar (bottom) are available for pre-order at Ookoodook.

  15. - Top - End - #15
    Giant in the Playground Administrator
     
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    Default Change is Good, Except When It Happens to You

    Change is Good, Except When It Happens to You

    Why a collection of new Transmutation spells? OK, let’s be honest here: I have a new 20th level Transmuter character with a focus on creating constructs. So every single spell on this list is intended for that character, and thus you’ll note that the focus is pretty narrow.

    However, on a broader point, I wouldn’t need to write new spells if the very high level Transmutation spell list didn’t have gaps. Really, after the very powerful crop of 6th level spells (disintegrate, flesh to stone), Transmutation shifts to being almost solely about enhancement and manipulation, losing any real attack spells other than polymorph any object (which is pretty iffy on the mechanics front). Some of these new spells, therefore, help round out the selection, with a few construct-oriented spells thrown in for selfish reasons.


    Annihilation Gaze
    Transmutation
    Level: Sor/Wiz 8
    Components: V, S
    Casting Time: 1 standard action
    Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
    Target: One creature
    Duration: Instantaneous
    Saving Throw: Reflex negates
    Spell Resistance: No
    ----You meet the eye of a single creature and destroy it utterly, turning its body to a fine ash. The creature can attempt a Reflex save to avoid your gaze attack, but it is otherwise unable to shrug off the effects. Closing one’s eyes quickly cannot guarantee total safety, as even a glimpse of your baleful eye nauseates the target for 2d6 rounds. Any effect that normally blocks or hampers gaze attacks are effective against the annihilation gaze, including concealment (which provides a miss chance) or complete blindness.

    Empower Construct
    Transmutation
    Level: Sor/Wiz 8
    Components: S, M
    Casting Time: 1 standard action
    Range: Touch
    Target: One construct
    Duration: 1 minute/level
    Saving Throw: Will negates (harmless)
    Spell Resistance: No
    ----This spell enhances the natural connection between you and a construct that you created personally, allowing you to enhance your creation with impressive combat powers. The construct grows one size category, granting it a size bonus to Strength (+2 if the new size is Tiny, +4 if it is Small or Medium, or +8 if Large or bigger) and a –2 size penalty to Dexterity. It suffers standard penalties to its AC and attack rolls based on its new size. It may gain additional temporary hit points to bring it up to the amount appropriate for a construct of its new size; for example, a Medium construct that normally gains 20 bonus hit points for its size would gain an additional 10 hit points when it becomes Large. If the construct uses equipment, it grows in size to match as per the spell enlarge person.
    ----The construct gains a base attack bonus equal to your caster level (unless its own base attack bonus is higher), and if forced to make a saving throw, may use the your base saving throw bonus or its own, whichever is greater. The construct’s natural armor bonus increases by +8, and the material of the construct hardens, giving it Hardness equal to one-half your caster level. This does not stack with any existing Hardness or damage reduction the construct might possess.
    ----Material Component: A small piece of the material from which the construct was made.

    Inversion
    Transmutation
    Level: Sor/Wiz 7
    Components: V, S
    Casting Time: 1 standard action
    Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
    Target: One creature
    Duration: Instantaneous
    Saving Throw: Fortitude half
    Spell Resistance: Yes
    ----This spell momentarily turns a creature’s body inside out, tearing flesh and badly mutilating the target. The spell then fades, returning the creature to its normal appearance, but not before inflicting 1d6 points of damage per caster level (max 30d6). A successful Fortitude saving throw can reduce this damage by half as the creature struggles to hold itself together. If the creature is killed by the damage from this spell, its body explodes in a shower of gore and is completely unrecognizable. The target’s equipment is unaffected (though could probably use a thorough washing).
    ----Material Component: A full wineskin, which is turned inside out and emptied during the casting.

    Reassembly
    Transmutation
    Level: Sor/Wiz 7
    Components: V, S, M
    Casting Time: 1 minute
    Range: Touch
    Target: One destroyed construct touched
    Duration: Instantaneous
    Saving Throw: None
    Spell Resistance: No
    ----This spell restores a construct that has been destroyed to working order. You may reassemble a construct that has been destroyed for no longer than one day per level. Only constructs that had Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores before being destroyed can be reassembled; as they have no souls, a construct has no option as to whether they wish to be reassembled or not. Constructs created by a temporary spell cannot be restored, even if the spell in question still has duration remaining. You must have most of the construct’s body present, though it need not be in one piece; the body is reconstructed during the casting of the spell, restoring any detached or broken limbs.
    ----The construct is not quite as good as new after the process, permanently losing 1 Hit Die (or character level, if it has any). A construct with only 1 Hit Die cannot be reassembled. The reassembled creature has a number of hit points equal to its new Hit Dice total, though it can be subsequently repaired by other means.
    ----Material Component: Emeralds worth a total of at least 5000 gp.

    Softening
    Transmutation
    Level: Sor/Wiz 3
    Components: V, S
    Casting Time: 1 standard action
    Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
    Target: Ray
    Duration: 1 round/level or until discharged
    Saving Throw: None
    Spell Resistance: Yes
    ----A blue beam of energy springs from your hand, disrupting the molecules of any creature you strike. You must succeed on a ranged touch attack to strike a target. The subject takes a penalty to the next Fortitude saving throw it makes equal to 1d6+1 per two caster levels (maximum 1d6+10).



    Looking Back…
    One of the nice things about spells, from a design point of view, is that it almost doesn’t matter if there are other spells that tread the same thematic ground. There are so many spells in existence that any similar ones are bound to be different enough to justify both, especially since new spells require in-character research (or discovery) to add into the game. If your wizard would rather develop my version of a spell instead of one from the Spell Compendium, well, that’s allowed. All that matters is that the spells are balanced unto themselves, which all of these are.

    Fun fact, though: The character for which these spells were designed never actually saw play. The game folded before the first adventure.
    Rich Burlew



    The Holiday Ornament and new t-shirts (top) are from CafePress, while the new OOTS book and the new OOTS calendar (bottom) are available for pre-order at Ookoodook.

  16. - Top - End - #16
    Giant in the Playground Administrator
     
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    Default Knowledge is Power

    Knowledge is Power

    The newest revision of the rules provides for wizard specialists to always choose two schools from which to be barred-unless they are Diviners. The implication is that Divination is the weakest school, which is not only not really true (in the noncombat arena, Divination is huge), but it sets up a situation where any wizard who thinks he might want to prepare one Divination spell per level anyway is always going to choose to be a Diviner. It becomes inherently better to specialize in Divination than any other school, regardless of what kind of wizard you want to be. Making an Illusionist? Why bother? Just make a Diviner and take Spell Focus (Illusion), you'll only have to bar one school.

    I strongly recommend that DMs force Diviners to bar two schools, just like every other type of specialist. Of course, this creates a different situation, where there aren't quite the hard-hitting high-level spells in Divination to measure up. Players may also feel that the DM is "gypping" them of an extra school for the benefit of extra spells in a school the PHB makes clear isn't as strong. (Again, I disagree with this assertion, but still.)

    So here's my solution. Add more high-level Divination spells. And look, here are four now (maybe there will be more in a future update, too). But let's be clear: the worst thing you could do would be to add these spells to the Divination school and then NOT alter the specialization scheme. That would make the lure of the faux-Diviner (where you declare Divination as your specialization but really focus on another school) all but irresistable.


    Creature Sense
    Divination
    Level: Sor/Wiz 6
    Components: V, S, M
    Casting Time: 1 standard action
    Range: Long (400 ft. + 40 ft./level)
    Area: Circle, centered on you, with a radius of 400 ft. + 40 ft./level
    Duration: Instantaneous
    Saving Throw: None
    Spell Resistance: No
    ----You gain an immediate mental impression of nearby monsters, learning the distance, direction, size, and type (but not subtype) of all creatures within range. You do not learn the specific kind of creature; for example, a minotaur would register only as a Large monstrous humanoid. This spell can be fooled by misdirection, nondetection, or polymorph magic. It can be blocked by a thin sheet of lead, but otherwise penetrates solid earth easily.
    ----Material Component: The brain of a bat.

    Sense of Timing
    Divination
    Level: Sor/Wiz 7
    Components: V, S, F
    Casting Time: 1 standard action
    Range: Touch
    Target: One creature
    Duration: 1 round/level
    Saving Throw: Will negates (harmless)
    Spell Resistance: No
    ----The creature touched gains a powerful instinct about when attacks are occurring, allowing him to take dangerous or even foolhardy actions in the middle of battle with near-impunity. While benefiting from this sense of timing, the target does not provoke any attacks of opportunity for the duration of the spell, regardless of his actions. The target may choose to ignore his senses if, for some reason, he wishes to provoke an attack of opportunity. In addition, the target fights as if he knew the Combat Reflexes feat for the duration of the spell, allowing him to take advantage of openings he would normally miss.
    ----Focus: A tiny hourglass, filled with diamond dust, worth 500 gp.

    Terrible Secret
    Divination
    Level: Brd 6, Sor/Wiz 5
    Components: V, F
    Casting Time: 1 standard action
    Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
    Target: One creature
    Duration: Instantaneous
    Saving Throw: Will half (see below)
    Spell Resistance: No
    ----This spell uses powerful divination magic to access a secret that was never meant to be known; a sanity-shattering truth that tears at one's brain from within, threatening to destroy it. Unlike other divinations, though, you do not unveil this knowledge unto yourself when casting this spell. You instead reveal this terrible secret to one other creature, whispering in horrific insights into its ear, hoping this will cause his brain to explode at the very understanding of it.
    ----Knowledge of the secret inflicts 1d6 points of damage per caster level (maximum 15d6) if it fully understood. The target can attempt to shut out knowledge with a successful Will save, which reduces the damage by half. The more intelligent the target, however, the more difficult it is to resist the urge to understand the secret. The target adds his Intelligence modifier to the Will saving throw DC, so that the secret is less effective on the blissfully ignorant. Creatures without an Intelligence score ignore this spell entirely, as do deific beings (as they presumably have the faculties to actually accept the secret as fact). Because the secret is whispered to the target, deafened creatures or those in a magical area of silence are also protected. The secret automatically adapts to any language the target knows, or is transmitted as a series of sounds of such primal significance that even the language-deficient can grasp them.
    ----The secret is such that the non-divine mind cannot grasp it for long, and it mostly fades from the target's memory after being revealed. Any creature that has been exposed to the secret remembers enough to help it resist the urge to look or listen should it be revealed again, granting it a +4 circumstance bonus to Will saves against this spell in the future.
    ----Focus: The preserved brain of an outsider with an Intelligence score of 14 or higher.

    Terrible Revelation
    Divination
    Level: Sor/Wiz 9
    Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
    Targets: All living creatures within range
    ----As terrible secret, except this spell reveals the knowledge to all creatures within range. You and up to one creature per caster level of your choice may be shielded from the secret.
    ----Focus: The preserved brain of an outsider with an Intelligence score of 22 or higher.



    Looking Back…
    The 3.5 rules revision was new and untested when I wrote the introduction to this article, but I stand by my prediction: Many, if not all, optimization guides for wizards written since then recommend specializing in Divination simply due to the extra spell slot per level at minimal cost. I still believe that it would be better to make the cost of Divination specialization the same as that of other schools, but the cat is more or less out of the bag on this one. Dozens of powerful divination spells have been added to the game since the 3.5 Player’s Handbook was written, leading to exactly the imbalance I was worried about. So, given that there are already those other spells out there, it probably doesn’t matter anymore if you want to add these to your game without requiring diviners to bar two schools. Chances are, you’re already seeing a surplus of diviners anyway.

    The only change I would make to the actual spells is to make the bonus for having heard the terrible secret apply only to uses of the spell from the same caster. Otherwise, a DM may find himself in the position of having to decide whether or not the creature may have encountered the spell before, wielded by a different mage.
    Rich Burlew



    The Holiday Ornament and new t-shirts (top) are from CafePress, while the new OOTS book and the new OOTS calendar (bottom) are available for pre-order at Ookoodook.

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    The (Even More) Hidden Book

    So, I had an article of spells published in Dragon® magazine #324 (October 2004) called "The Hidden Book". The article focused on illusions and phantasms created by a gnomish illusionist that had been hidden in a book sitting on a library shelf. But here's the thing: it was edited to hell and back before it saw print. More than half the spells that I originally wrote never saw print. Generally, I think they nixed all the spells that were a little too complicated for "kick in the door" style play, which is a shame since I think they were some of the more interesting spells. But I asked the editors to make sure, and I can now publish those spells here for the first time. So consider this an "unofficial" web enhancement to Dragon #324


    Banality
    Illusion (Phantasm) [Mind-Affecting]
    Level: Assassin 4, Sor/Wiz 5, Brd 4
    Components: V, S
    Casting Time: 1 standard action
    Range: Long (400 ft. + 40 ft./level)
    Area: 400 ft. + 40 ft./level emanation centered on you or object touched.
    Duration: 10 min./level (D)
    Saving Throw: Will partial
    Spell Resistance: No
    ----You cloud the minds of all creatures in the area, causing them to see you as dull, inconsequential, and unappealing. You do not know what others see specifically, however; everyone sees their own personalized image of absolute blandness appropriate to your surroundings. For example, while standing in the king’s court, onlookers might see you as just another courtier, but while passing through an orcish village, anyone looking would see yet another unwashed orc grunt. This has two direct effects:
    • Any creature in the area suffers a –5 circumstance penalty to any Spot checks opposed to your Hide or Disguise skill checks, and you can use the Hide skill with regard to such creatures even when they are directly observing you. They also suffer a –5 circumstance penalty to any Listen check to hear you, as their befuddled mind rationalizes any sounds you make as being normal ambient noise.
    • Any opponent attempting to strike or otherwise directly attack you, even with a targeted spell, must make a Will save (with a +4 circumstance bonus if you have made a physical attack against that opponent during the current encounter). If successful, they may attack normally and need make no further Will saves to attack you for the remainder of the spell (though they are still affected by the first effect). If the save fails, the opponent is fooled into believing you are too insignificant to waste the energy required to attack you. The opponent cannot follow through with the attack, though they do not realize that this decision has not been made of their own volition. They are still free to use the action they would have employed against you to take any other course of action, including attacking a different creature. They are also free to attempt a new Will save on any subsequent round if they wish to attack you.

    ----You may also cast this spell on an unattended object, which causes it to appear exactly as any other nearby object of the same type. Creatures affected suffer a –10 circumstance penalty to their Search and Spot checks to locate an object emanating banality. This form of the spell can be made the subject of a permanency spell by an 11th level or higher caster who spends 1500 XP.

    False Trail
    Illusion (Glamer)
    Level: Sor/Wiz 2
    Components: V, S, M
    Range: Touch
    Target: One creature/level
    Duration: 1 hour/level; see text. (D)
    Saving Throw: Will disbelief (if interacted with)
    Spell Resistance: No
    ----The subjects leave behind an illusion covering their footprints as they travel, causing any creature following to misidentify their tracks. Each subject’s tracks will appear to have been left by another kind of creature (up to one size larger or smaller than the subject) with which you are familiar. You may cause different subjects to leave different tracks as desired; for example, you might cause a group of five humans to leave tracks resembling three ogres and two dire wolves. The illusion also contains an olfactory component and can thus fool creatures that track with scent as easily as those that use their eyes.
    ----Finding tracks left behind by a creature under the effects of this spell is not inherently more difficult than normal, though the Survival skill check DC is based on the size of the creature whose tracks are being imitated. Any creature interacting with the false trail (either by touching or smelling the tracks) gets a Will saving throw to recognize them as false. The illusion on the tracks themselves lingers for 1 day/caster level, during which time they radiate magic and can be dispelled.
    ----Material Component: A few hairs from a skunk’s tail.

    Imperceptible
    Illusion (Glamer)
    Level: Sor/Wiz 9
    Components: V, S, M
    Casting Time: 1 standard action
    Range: Personal
    Target: You
    Duration: 10 min./level (D; see text)
    ----You become undetectable to all senses save touch, even those that are heightened or magically enhanced. You are invisible as if under the effect of greater invisibility, and cannot be seen even by creatures using see invisibility or true seeing. Any object of Fine size or smaller that touches you is turned invisible as well, preventing you from being discovered by glitterdust, dust of appearance, or similar methods and negating any penalty to you Hide checks from such a source. You remain invisible in the area of any spell that would cancel or reveal it, such as invisibility purge, and are immune to faerie fire. Discovering your location is more difficult as a result of these subtle improvements; while the Spot DC for noticing your presence remains the same, observers must beat the DC by 30 in order to pinpoint your location (rather than by 20 as normal).
    ----The spell masks all sounds (including sonic effects) from leaving the space you occupy, but does not prevent sounds from entering. This makes you effectively silent to others but does not prevent you from listening to your surroundings. It also does not prevent you from speaking, such as to cast spells with a verbal component, though your voice cannot be heard by any creature not occupying the same space. You cannot be sensed by blindsense, blindsight, or tremorsense, and neither do you register as a “blank spot” to creatures with these abilities. Your odor is completely neutralized, and you cannot be sensed or tracked by a creature using the scent special ability. You leave no footprints or tracks at all, as if under the effect of pass without trace.
    ----Your imperceptible nature allows you to be ignored by all forms of divination spells and effects that would detect your presence or any information about you, including all detect spells, arcane eye, arcane sight, clairaudience/clairvoyance, discern location, locate object, scrying or any similar spell lower than 9th level. You do not trigger any magical effect that would normally react to your presence, such as alarm or glyph of warding, though you can still activate spells that trigger when read (such as explosive runes or symbol of pain).
    ----At any point, you may temporarily suppress the effects of this spell as a free action. As long as the spell’s duration has not expired, you may subsequently return to your imperceptible state as a standard action.
    ----Material Component: The eyeball of a creature capable of using true seeing, either as a spell or spell-like ability. The eyeball is swallowed during the casting of the spell.

    Phantasmal Bane
    Illusion (Phantasm) [Mind-Affecting]
    Level: Bard 5, Sor/Wiz 5
    Components: V, S, F
    Casting Time: 1 standard action
    Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
    Target: One creature
    Duration: 1 min./level
    Saving Throw: Will disbelief
    Spell Resistance: No
    ----You create the false impression in the mind of one creature that the melee weapon you are holding is crafted from the most deadly and baneful substance it can imagine. The subject gets a Will saving throw to recognize the illusion the first time anyone attacks it with the weapon. If it fails the save, all attacks with the weapon are treated as if they were made by an attack form to which the creature is particularly vulnerable, allowing those attacks to deal full damage to most creatures with damage reduction. To a creature that believes the illusion, the phantasmal bane can inflict wounds as if was magical, was crafted of any given substance (silver, cold iron, or adamantine), dealt any type of weapon damage (bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing), or was dedicated to any given alignment. The weapon cannot overcome damage reduction that has no vulnerability (such as that of an elemental or high-level barbarian), and cannot overcome the damage reduction of creatures vulnerable only to Epic weapons (such as that of a solar). Phantasmal bane has no effect against creatures without any form of damage reduction.
    ----Because the illusion exists entirely in the target’s mind, you gain no knowledge about what sort of weapon to which the target might otherwise be vulnerable. Any specific creature can only be under the effect of one casting of phantasmal bane at any time.
    ----Focus: A single melee weapon, held during casting. You may pass the weapon to another creature after the spell is cast.

    Sensory Overload
    Illusion (Figment)
    Level: Sor/Wiz 6
    Components: V, S
    Casting Time: 1 standard action
    Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
    Targets: One creature/level, no two of which can be more than 60 ft. apart
    Duration: 1 round/level
    Saving Throw: Will partial
    Spell Resistance: No
    ----You fill the target creatures’ senses with a kaleidoscope of colors, a cacophony of sounds, and a pungent swirl of odors. Overwhelmed with these impressions, each subject must make a Will saving throw or be stunned and unable to act. Even if a subject sees through the illusion, it is still sickened by the sensory overload for the duration of the spell.
    ----This spell has a particularly insidious effect against a creature using true seeing at the moment it is targeted. Rather than allowing it to ignore the sensory overload, the true seeing actually magnifies the effect, causing the subject to see the truth about everything, all at once. If a subject using true seeing is stunned by this spell, it must make a second Will saving throw or be driven permanently insane by the experience (as the spell insanity).



    Looking Back…
    Since no one who was an editor for the magazine back then still is today, I don’t mind saying that I thought they absolutely butchered some of the spells that did make it into print. In particular, there was a cantrip called chalkboard that was originally conceived as a phantasm that only the caster could see, allowing him to write notes in midair that appeared in his field of vision but were invisible to anyone else. The editors changed that to a visible chalkboard illusion, and then added that it provided concealment for anyone standing behind it. So the spell went from a handy note-taking aide to a spell that provided a powerful (and unintended) combat advantage at a ridiculously low level. And my name was the sole credit on it.

    At any rate, the spells here hold up pretty well as written, though I would now specify that banality’s ability to make Hide checks while being observed should only apply when there are at least three other creatures of the same type within range (the same type as each other, not as you).
    Rich Burlew



    The Holiday Ornament and new t-shirts (top) are from CafePress, while the new OOTS book and the new OOTS calendar (bottom) are available for pre-order at Ookoodook.

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    Giant in the Playground Administrator
     
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    Monsters

    For convenience, I've combined all the monsters that previously appeared on the website into one post.

    Charred Horror
    Huge Undead
    Hit Dice: 12d12 (78 hp)
    Initiative: -1
    Speed: 30 ft. (6 squares)
    Armor Class: 24 (-2 size, -1 Dex , +17 natural), touch 7, flat-footed 24
    Base Attack/Grapple: +6/+24
    Attack: Slam +14 melee (2d6+10 plus 1d6 fire)
    Full Attack: 2 slams +14 melee (2d6+10 plus 2d6 fire)
    Space/Reach: 15 ft./15 ft.
    Special Attacks: Double damage against object, heat, trample (2d6+15 plus 2d6 fire)
    Special Qualities: Cinder cloud, damage reduction 10/magic and slashing, darkvision 60 ft., dispel animation, immunity to fire, low-light vision, plant traits, undead traits
    Saves: Fort +4, Ref +5, Will +9
    Abilities: Str 30, Dex 8, Con -, Int 6, Wis 12, Cha 16
    Skills: Hide +1*, Listen +11, Move Silently +4, Spot +11
    Feats: Awesome Blow, Improved Bull Rush, Improved Sunder, Lightning Reflexes, Power Attack
    Environment: Temperate forests
    Organization: Solitary
    Challenge Rating: 9
    Treasure: None
    Alignment: Always neutral evil
    Advancement: 8-16 HD (Huge), 17-21 HD (Gargantuan)

    This dead burned-out tree is nothing but black and grey charcoals, still warm with lingering flame. But some mockery of life animates it into a fiery engine of destruction that shuffles and creaks through the woods.

    ----Not all undead were once creatures of flesh and blood. The detestable charred horrors are the twisted corpses of once-noble treants who died by the flame. Risen from the dead as still-burning undead, they seek to spread the pain of their fiery demise to other trees.
    ----While retaining only a fraction of the intelligence they displayed in life, many charred horrors still have enough awareness to cast blame for their deaths. These horrors lay such blame squarely at the feet of the so-called defenders of the forest: druids, rangers, and possibly good forest creatures like dryads and unicorns. The undead creatures take great pleasure in destroying any glens still guarded by them, showing them the depth of their failure to protect the trees.
    ----No one knows for certain why some treants rise as charred horrors and others, even others who die by fire, do not. One druidic scholar has posited that charred horrors were treants who, in the last moment of their life as they burn, comes to actually find pleasure in their own fiery demise. Such an unnatural enjoyment of their own destruction catches the attention of whatever dark gods revel in such things, and they grant the plant creatures an unholy second chance.
    ----Charred horrors are as tall as living treants, but their bodies have been hollowed by fire, making them weigh only half as much. They still remember the languages they spoke in life: Common and Sylvan.

    Combat
    ----Charred horrors are savage in combat, striving to destroy all opponents and burn down as many trees as they can. They take cruel delight in needless destruction, setting forests, buildings, and anything else in its path aflame.
    ----Heat (Ex):A charred horror is still aflame with fire deep within its trunk and limbs. Its slam attack deals additional fire damage, and any successful unarmed attack against it (including natural weapon attacks) inflicts 2d6 points of fire damage against the attacker. The charred horror can also set very flammable objects on fire by touching them.
    ----Cinder Cloud (Ex): The burning wood that forms the body of the horror is filled with hot cinders. These are released in a choking cloud whenever a physical attack successfully inflicts damage against it (by either overcoming or bypassing its damage reduction). The cinder cloud forces any creatures within a 10-foot radius to make a DC 19 Fortitude save or be sickened for 1d6 rounds. Creatures that do not need to breathe are immune to this effect. The save is Charisma-based (as the charred horror has no Constitution score).
    ----Dispel Animation (Su): The undead power of the charred horror can disrupt the animate trees ability of a living treant. If a charred horror moves within 100 feet of a tree animated by liveoak (whether cast by a treant or a druid), the effect is automatically dispelled.
    ----Double Damage against Objects (Ex): A charred horror that makes a full attack against an inanimate object or structure deals double regular slam damage as well as double fire damage.
    ----Plant Traits: A charred horror also retains the immunities granted by its former life as a plant. They are thus immune to polymorph and have low-light vision, in addition to all normal undead traits.
    ----Trample (Ex): Reflex save DC 26 half. The save DC is Strength-based.
    ----Skills: A charred horror has a +15 racial bonus on Hide checks made within a burned forest (including one still on fire). While this may seem like an esoteric skill bonus, keep in mind that a charred horror tends to create burned out forests wherever it goes.


    [hr]

    Fenixborn
    Medium Outsider (Good, Native)
    Hit Dice: 11d8+44 (93 hp)
    Initiative: +7
    Speed: 30 ft. (6 squares) (mithril shirt); base 30 ft., Fly 90 ft. (Good)
    Armor Class: 22 (+1 Dex , +4 mithril shirt, +7 natural), touch 11, flat-footed 21
    Base Attack/Grapple: +11/+14
    Attack: silvered morningstar[/I] +16 melee (1d8+2 plus 1d6 fire) OR composite longbow (Mighty +3) +14 ranged (1d8+3) OR scorching ray +14 ranged touch (4d6 fire)
    Full Attack: silvered morningstar +14/+14/+9/+9/+4 melee (1d8+2 plus 1d6 fire) OR composite longbow (Mighty +3) +14/+9/+4 ranged (1d8+3) OR scorching ray +14 ranged touch (4d6 fire)
    Space/Reach: 5 ft./5 ft.
    Special Attacks: Burning hands, scorching ray, spell-like abilities
    Special Qualities: Damage reduction 10/cold iron, darkvision 60 ft., immune to fire, outsider traits, resistance to cold 10 and sonic 10, spell resistance 19
    Saves: Fort +11, Ref +10, Will +6
    Abilities: Str 16, Dex 16, Con 18, Int 10, Wis 8, Cha 16
    Skills: Balance +5, Bluff +13, Diplomacy +9, Hide +13, Intimidate +18, Knowledge (the planes) +5, Jump +5, Listen +20, Move Silently +13, Search +21, Sense Motive +12, Spot +20, Tumble +10
    Feats: Endurance (B), Fly-by Attack, Improved Initiative (B), Improved Two-Weapon Fighting, Two-Weapon Fighting, Weapon Focus (morningstar)
    Environment: Any Upper Plane
    Organization: Solitary or warband (2-5)
    Challenge Rating: 8
    Treasure: Standard plus two silvered morningstars and mithril shirt.[/I]
    Alignment: Often neutral good
    Advancement: By character class
    Level Adjustment: +4

    A powerfully-muscled humanoid with magnificent red and orange feathered wings, this creature's gaze is strong and piercing. It wears sparkling golden chainmail and carries a longbow and a pair of silvered morningstars.

    ----The fenixborn are a race of celestials with the blood of the mysterious Phoenix in their veins. Their heritage is clear from their red wings and natural fire magic, as well as their inherent desire to battle evil. Fenixborn often appear in groups of other celestials, such as guardinals and archons, because they have no cities on the Upper Planes to call their own. They often travel the planes on a never-ending personal crusade for evil-and a place to call their own.
    ----Fenixborn are always consumed with a passion to do good. They often make poor choices in the pursuit of their cause, leading wiser celestials to look down on them with a mixture of pity and bemusement. If the fenixborn notice the snide comments, they make no mention of it. Or perhaps their yearning to fit in with the likes of the angels and archons causes them to suffer through it in silence.
    ----Fenixborn stand between 6 and 7 feet in height with about a 12 foot wingspan, and weigh 200 to 300 lbs. They speak their Celestial, Common, and Ignan.

    Combat
    ----Fenixborn love to attack quickly and with savage ferocity, bashing an opponent with twin flaming morningstars. Against tough opponents, though, they will instead use their great speed to strafe the enemy with arrows or scorching rays. They greatly rely on their ability to shrug off most weapons, often attacking without waiting to see whether their opponents are capable of harming them or not.
    ----Burning Hands (Su): All melee attacks made by the fenixborn inflict an additional 1d6 points of fire damage.
    ----Spell-like Abilities (Sp): At will: flame arrows, see invisibility, light. 3/day: cure serious wounds, haste (self only), protection from evil. Caster level 6th.
    ----Scorching Ray (Su): A fenixborn can start a blazing fire with a single glance. They may blast foes with a scorching ray from their eyes at will. Caster level 6th.
    ----Skills: A fenixborn gains a +8 racial bonus to Listen, Search, and Spot skill checks.


    [hr]

    Gingerbread Golem
    Diminutive Construct
    Hit Dice: 2d10 (11 hp)
    Initiative: +6
    Speed: 50 ft. (10 squares)
    Armor Class: 22 (+4 size, +6 Dex , +2 natural), touch 18, flat-footed 20
    Base Attack/Grapple: +1/–14
    Attack: Slam +2 melee (1d2–3)
    Full Attack: Slam +2 melee (1d2–3)
    Space/Reach: 0 ft./0 ft.
    Special Attacks: None
    Special Qualities: Construct traits, darkvision 60 ft., direction sense, low-light vision, magic immunity, staleness, uncanny dodge
    Saves: Fort +0, Ref +7, Will +1
    Abilities: Str 4, Dex 23, Con –, Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 10
    Skills: Escape Artist +11, Hide +18, Jump +5, Knowledge (geography) +0, Move Silently +8, Tumble +14
    Feats: Run
    Environment: Any
    Organization: Solitary
    Challenge Rating: 2
    Treasure: None
    Alignment: Always neutral
    Advancement: 3–4 HD (Diminutive), 5–6 HD (Tiny)

    ----This 8-inch long cookie is crudely shaped in the form of a humanoid and given eyes and mouth with delicious-looking white frosting.

    ----Gingerbread golems are tasty man-shaped cookies transformed into construct messengers, designed for delivering complex communications over long distances. They are temporary creations, eventually going stale after a few weeks, but exist long enough to fulfill their duties.
    ----Unlike most golems, gingerbread golems are somewhat intelligent and can remember and repeat anything told to them. This makes them a superior form of message carrier than, say, a pigeon, because they can actually answer questions posed by the recipient regarding the message, such as, “How long ago were you sent?” or “Were you seen by anyone on your way here?” Because they have short “life” spans, they are generally created for a specific message, and are often abandoned after that, left to dry up in an odd corner of the kitchen.
    ----Gingerbread golems can be directly commanded by their creator if he or she is within 60 feet, but as they are useless in battle that is rarely the case. Instead, the creator usually gives them complex instructions to deliver their messages, such as, “Bring this message to the Earl of Hogton, who lives in Hogton Castle.” The golem’s natural direction sense will lead him to the castle automatically. The creator might also instruct him to proceed at top speed, or to ensure that no one sees or captures him, or any other qualifier the golem is capable of understanding.
    ----Gingerbread golems speak any languages known by their creators.

    Combat
    ----Gingerbread golems do not fight—they flee, and very effectively. Most combats involving a gingerbread golem are situations where someone is attempting to intercept the message the golem carries, either by destroying it or (tougher still) capturing it. Their intelligence makes them quite good at evading foes, allowing them to run or hide as necessary to continue their journey.
    ----Very rarely, an evil bard might craft evil gingerbread cookies as secret assassins. In this case, he or she would replace their Run feat with the Weapon Finesse feat and arm them with a little poisoned dagger (giving them an attack line of “Diminutive dagger +11 melee (1 plus poison)”.)
    ----Direction Sense (Su): A gingerbread golem always knows how to get to any destination with which its creator is familiar. Its knowledge is only as good as that of its crafter, though; if the creator is misinformed, then so is the golem. The gingerbread golem is also treated as being under the effects of the know direction spell at all times.
    ----Magic Immunity (Ex): A gingerbread golem is immune to any spell or spell-like ability that allows spell resistance. In addition, certain spells and effects function differently against the creature, as listed below:
    • A purify food and drink spell can stave off staleness for a single day. Do not count the day the spell is cast towards determining the onset of staleness; if already going stale, the spell also restores 2 lost Dexterity points (but does otherwise not reverse the process).
    • Any fire effect burns the soft cookie body of the the gingerbread golems, reducing its speed by 5 feet, but grants it damage reduction 1/— and increases its natural armor bonus to +3. This effect can only be achieved once, and it is reversed if the golem is returned to freshness by purify food and drink. (Some creators deliberately burn their golems to make them tougher.)

    ----Uncanny Dodge (Ex):A gingerbread golem retains its Dexterity bonus to AC even if it is caught flat-footed or struck by an invisible attacker. However, it still loses its Dexterity bonus to AC if immobilized.
    ----Staleness (Ex): A gingerbread golem stays fresh for two weeks after its creation. Every day thereafter, the golem must make a Fortitude save (DC 10) or start to go stale. Once staleness begins, the golem loses 2 points of Dexterity each day. When its Dexterity equals 0, the golem has gone completely stale; it is destroyed at that time.
    ----Construct Traits: Gingerbread golems are immune to all mind-affecting effects, poison, sleep effects, paralysis, stunning, disease, death effects, and necromancy effects. They cannot be healed damage on their own, though they can be repaired. They are not subject to critical hits, nonlethal damage, ability damage, ability drain, fatigue, exhaustion, and energy drain.
    ----Skills: Gingerbread golems have a +4 racial bonus to Escape Artist and Tumble skill checks.

    Construction
    ----Ginger is a rare spice in most medieval societies, with a single ounce costing about 10 gp. Cooking up a gingerbread golem requires additional arcane ingredients as well, and the body costs 30 gp total. Baking the body requires a Profession (baker) skill check (DC 15) and takes 1 day.
    ----CL 5th, Craft Construct, animal messenger, expeditious retreat, know direction. Price 200 gp. Cost to Create: 130 gp + 8 XP.


    [hr]

    Piranha Swarm
    Tiny Animal (Aquatic, Swarm)
    Hit Dice: 5d8+8 (30 hp)
    Initiative: +2
    Speed: Swim 40 ft. (8 squares)
    Armor Class: 15 (+2 Dex , +3 natural), touch 12, flat-footed 13
    Base Attack/Grapple: +3/-
    Attack: Swarm (2d6)
    Full Attack: Swarm (2d6)
    Space/Reach: 10 ft./0 ft.
    Special Attacks: Distraction, superior swarm
    Special Qualities: Feeding frenzy, swarm traits, tremorsense
    Saves: Fort +5, Ref +6, Will +0
    Abilities: Str 2, Dex 14, Con 12, Int 2, Wis 8, Cha 2
    Skills: Hide +4, Jump +4, Move Silently +4, Swim +4
    Feats: Improved Initiative, Toughness
    Environment: Warm aquatic
    Organization: Solitary or school (2-8)
    Challenge Rating: 3
    Treasure: None
    Alignment: Always neutral
    Advancement: -

    A school of silver fish, each with a wide mouth filled with sharp teeth.

    ----Piranha are a razor-toothed carnivorous fish that are fierce enough individually. When they gather in large groups, however, they can devour an adventurer in seconds. The fish are a common danger in tropical rivers, where schools feed on other fish or land animals that fall into the water, but adventurers more commonly encounter them as part of a death trap of some sort. They are often added to moats, pit traps, or underground rivers as a cheap and deadly method of keeping out unwanted intruders.
    ----An individual piranha is no more than two feet long at the most, but swarms can cover a much larger area.

    Combat
    ----Piranha will attack living creatures that they encounter, but will become particularly aggressive if they smell the blood of an injured creature. They have been known to even leap out of the water to attack a creature standing to near the surface of a river.
    ----Feeding Frenzy (Ex):Whenever a living creature is injured within the tremorsense range of a piranha swarm (including a creature injured by the swarm itself), the swarm automatically enters a feeding frenzy on its next turn as a free action. A swarm in a feeding frenzy inflicts 1d6 additional damage with its swarm attacks and is immune to mind-affecting spells and effects. The frenzy continues as long as the swarm can sense any other living creature within their tremorsense range, and for an additional 2d4 rounds afterwards. If a creature enters their tremorsense range before the frenzy expires, it continues as if uninterrupted.
    ----When in a feeding frenzy, piranha might even attack other fish within the same swarm! Whenever a piranha swarm in a feeding frenzy takes damage from a slashing or piercing source (other than its itself), the swarm must make a Will saving throw (DC 10) at the start of its next turn. If it fails, the swarm suffers 1d6 points of additional damage as the fish devour one or more of their own.
    ----Distraction (Ex): Any living creature that begins its turn with a piranha swarm in its space must succeed on a DC 13 Fortitude save or be nauseated for 1 round. The save DC is Constitution-based. Even with a successful save, spellcasting or concentrating on spells within the area of the swarm requires a Concentration check (DC 20 + the spell level).
    ----Superior Swarm (Ex): With their hundreds of needle-like teeth, a swarm of piranha is exceptionally deadly and deals more swarm damage than their Hit Dice would otherwise indicate.
    ----Swarm Traits: A swarm has no clear front or back and no discernable anatomy, so it is not subject to critical hits or flanking. As a swarm made up of Tiny creatures, a piranha swarm takes half damage from slashing and piercing weapons.
    ----Reducing a swarm to 0 hit points or fewer causes the swarm to break up, though damage taken until that point does not degrade its ability to attack or resist attack. Swarms are never staggered or reduced to a dying state by damage. Also, they cannot be tripped, grappled, or bull rushed, and they cannot grapple another.
    ----A swarm is immune to any spell or effect that targets a specific number of creatures (including single-target spells such as disintegrate), with the exception of mind-affecting effects if the swarm has an intelligence score and a hive mind. A swarm takes a -10 penalty on saving throws against spells or effects that affect an area, such as many evocation spells or grenadelike weapons. If the area effect attack does not allow a saving throw, the swarm takes double damage instead.
    ----A swarm rendered unconscious by means of subdual damage becomes disorganized and dispersed, and does not re-form until its hit points exceed its subdual damage.
    ----Tremorsense (Ex): Piranha have such an acute sense of smell within the water that they can notice creatures that move through the water. Piranha swarms can locate creatures within 60 feet using tremorsense. Opponents still have total concealment against the piranha swarm (though swarm attacks ignore concealment).
    ----Skills: The piranha swarm gains a +8 racial bonus on any Swim check to perform some special action or avoid a hazard. It can always choose to take 10 on a Swim check, even if distracted or endangered. It can use the run action while swimming, provided it swims in a straight line.


    [hr]

    Temple Gargoyle
    Small Construct
    Hit Dice: 6d10+10 (43 hp)
    Initiative: +3
    Speed: 30 ft. (6 squares), fly 40 ft. (good)
    Armor Class: 19 (+3 Dex , +6 natural), touch 13, flat-footed 16
    Base Attack/Grapple: +4/+1
    Attack: Claw +8 melee (1d4+2)
    Full Attack: 2 claws +8 melee (1d4+2)
    Space/Reach: 5 ft./5 ft.
    Special Attacks: Smite evil, water spout
    Special Qualities: Construct traits, damage reduction 5/magic, darkvision 60 ft., magic circle against evil.
    Saves: Fort +2, Ref +5, Will +2
    Abilities: Str 14, Dex 17, Con -, Int 13, Wis 16, Cha 10
    Skills: 27 Hide +15*, Listen +12, Move Silently +10, Spot +12
    Feats: Combat Expertise, Flyby Attack (B), Improved Disarm, Weapon Finesse
    Environment: Any
    Organization: Solitary or wing (2-12)
    Challenge Rating: 4
    Treasure: None
    Alignment: Always good (any)
    Advancement: -

    This creature looks like a small statue of a winged beast of some kind-except, of course, that it is moving.

    ----A temple gargoyle is a small stone figure animated with a willing spirit from the Upper Planes. Unlike most constructs, the gargoyle is quite intelligent, capable of defending its church without explicit instructions. Clerics often craft temple gargoyles as permanent defenders of a specific temple, designing the gargoyle's shape to fit into a specific niche in the building's façade.
    ----Temple guardians stand no more than 3 feet tall but weigh over 80 lbs. They speak Celestial and Common.

    Combat
    ----Temple gargoyles fight to defend their home from evil influences, though they are occasionally employed to simply protect a sensitive area of the temple from nosy parishioners.
    ----Magic Circle Against Evil (Su):A temple gargoyle is always under the effect of a magic circle against evil. This effect can be dispelled (as if cast by a 11th level caster), but the temple gargoyle can reactivate it as a free action on its turn.
    ----Smite Evil (Su): Once per day, a temple gargoyle may make a normal melee attack to deal extra damage equal to its Hit Dice (in this case, +6) against an evil foe.
    ----Water Spout (Su): The temple gargoyle can let loose a blast of water from its mouth as a standard action. The water splashes all creatures within a 30-foot line, inflicting 3d6 points of nonlethal damage (Reflex half DC 13). The temple gargoyle can spout water at will.
    ----Three times per day, the temple gargoyle may instead spout holy water. The spray has the same effect except against undead or evil outsiders; they instead suffer 6d6 points of normal damage (Reflex half DC 16). The holy property of the water dissipates immediately after the spray.
    ----Skills: Temple gargoyles have a +2 racial bonus to Hide, Listen, and Spot. The Hide bonus increases by +10 when concealed against worked stone in a setting where statuary is evident.

    Construction
    ----A temple gargoyle's body must be crafted from a block of stone weighing 100 lb. The stone must be of exceptional quality, and costs 500 gp. Sculpting the body requires a DC 13 Craft (stonemasonry) skill check.
    ----Creating a temple gargoyle has the following requirements: Craft Construct, create water, bless water, lesser planar ally, magic circle against evil, caster must be good and at least 9th level; Price: 15,000 gp, Cost: 8,000 gp + 600 XP

    Variants
    ----Though more rare, temples devoted to gods of non-good alignments sometimes craft temple gargoyles. Such creations have their special qualities and attacks shifted to reflect their new alignment. For example, a chaotic temple gargoyle would smite law, enjoy the protection of a magic circle against law, and could use its water spout attack thrice per day to damage undead or lawful outsiders.


    [hr]

    Tunnel Guardian
    Medium Magical Beast
    Hit Dice: 8d8+24 (60 hp)
    Initiative: +3
    Speed: 20 ft. (4 squares), climb 20 ft., swim 20 ft.
    Armor Class: 19 (+3 Dex , +6 natural), touch 13, flat-footed 16
    Base Attack/Grapple: +8/+10
    Attack: Gore +10 melee (1d8+3) or 4 spikes +11 ranged (1d6+2/19-20)
    Full Attack: Gore +10 melee (1d8+3) or 4 spikes +11 ranged (1d6+2/19-20)
    Space/Reach: 5 ft./5 ft.
    Special Attacks: Spikes
    Special Qualities: Darkvision 60 ft., independent eyes, repulsion field, true seeing.
    Saves: Fort +9, Ref +9, Will +3
    Abilities: Str 14, Dex 16, Con 16, Int 4, Wis 13, Cha 14
    Skills: Climb +10, Escape Artist +4, Hide +6*, Listen +2, Move Silently +5, Search +5, Spot +11, Swim +10
    Feats: Ability Focus (repulsion), Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot
    Environment: Underground
    Organization: Solitary or pack (2-5)
    Challenge Rating: 6
    Treasure: Standard
    Alignment: Always neutral
    Advancement: 9-12 HD (Medium), 13-18 HD (Large)
    Level Adjustment: -1

    Blue and scaly, this creature resembles a man-sized chameleon, complete with three horns and a pair of bulbous eyes. Its tail ends in a thick knot of sharp spikes.

    ----Tunnel guardians are reptilian carnivore often tamed by Underdark residents to protect sensitive passageways. They are valued highly for their ability to not only defend an area, but to literally prevent passage by any creature.
    ----The tunnel guardian is a solitary hunter, using its magical abilities to corner rats, bats, or any small mammals it comes across. They will often cling motionless to a cave wall, waiting for potential food to pass by before activating its repulsion. Tunnel guardians have few natural predators; those beasts that would normally prey on the chameleon-like creatures have difficulty overcoming their inherent defenses. They prefer wet caves, often lairing near subterranean lakes and streams.
    ----Very few tunnel guardians still live wild in the Underdark, however, as their value as a sentry is so great that most are raised in captivity now. They are widely tamed by troglodytes, though they have also been encountered in the service of duergar, hobgoblins, and kuo-toa. Some have even been trained to wear special barding, to greater protect the investment their trainers have made in them.
    ----Tunnel guardians cannot speak, but can be trained to understand simple phrases in one language, usually Undercommon.

    Combat
    ----Tunnel guardians only use their tail spikes for protection against larger creatures, in which case they use the repulsion to keep enemies at bay while pelting them with spikes. When trained to protect a location, they are often paired with regular guards armed with bows or other missile weapons. The guardian is commanded to keep the repulsion effect at full strength while the archers shoot.
    ----Independent Eyes (Ex):Tunnel guardians' eyes can look in opposite directions simultaneously. They cannot be flanked.
    ----Repulsion (Su): Tunnel guardians radiate a constant magical field that acts as similar to the repulsion spell (caster level 11th). Whenever a creature attempts to move towards the tunnel guardian, they must make a Will save (DC 18; this save is Charisma-based). If they fail, they cannot move towards the tunnel guardian this round, though they may move in another direction or take any other action. They may attempt to move towards the guardian on future rounds, though they will need to make a new save to do so. Once a creature successfully saves against a tunnel guardian's repulsion, they are unaffected by the repulsion of that particular creature for a period of one hour.
    ----The guardian may enlarge or reduce the radius of the repulsion as a free action during its turn, up to a maximum radius of 110 feet. A tunnel guardian is always unaffected by the repulsion of another tunnel guardian.
    ----Spikes (Ex): A tunnel guardian can let loose a volley of four sharp tail spikes as a standard action (make an attack roll for each one). This attack has a range of 220 feet with no range increment. All targets must be within 30 feet of each other. In any 24-hour period, a tunnel guardian can only launch one volley of four spikes for every 4 Hit Dice it possesses.
    ----True Seeing (Su): Tunnel guardians can see through illusions easily; they operate as if under a continuous true seeing spell.
    ----Skills: Tunnel guardians gains a +15 racial bonus to its Hide skill checks in an underground environment. They have a +8 racial bonus to all Search and Spot skill checks.
    ----The tunnel guardian receives a +8 racial bonus on Climb checks and can always choose to take 10 on Climb checks, even if rushed or threatened.
    ----The tunnel guardian also receives a +8 racial bonus on any Swim check to perform some special action or avoid a hazard. It can always choose to take 10 on a Swim check, even if distracted or endangered. It can use a run action while swimming, provided it swims in a straight line.

    Training a Tunnel Guardian
    ----Training a tunnel guardian requires a successful Handle Animal skill check (DC 26 for a young specimen; DC 30 for an adult). A tunnel guardian matures in two years. Their eggs or young are worth 9000 gp on the open market, while professional trainers charge an additional 3000 gp to train them.
    ----In addition to learning tricks that can be taught to any creature, tunnel guardians can be trained to raise or lower their repulsion effect on command (Handle Animal skill check DC 20), to alter the radius of the field on command (DC 25), or to make a special noise whenever it sees an invisible creature or an illusion (DC 30), though it cannot tell its owner exactly where the deception magic is being used.


    Tunnel Master
    Large Outsider (Augmented Magical Beast) (Evil)
    Hit Dice: 18d8+108 (189 hp)
    Initiative: +4
    Speed: 20 ft. (4 squares), climb 20 ft., fly 20 ft. (average), swim 20 ft.
    Armor Class: 22 (+4 Dex , +9 natural, -1 size), touch 13, flat-footed 18
    Base Attack/Grapple: +18/+30
    Attack: Gore +23 melee (2d6+8) or 4 spikes +21 ranged (2d6+8/19-20)
    Full Attack: Gore +23 melee (2d6+8) and 2 claws +21 melee (1d6+4) and bite +21 melee (1d8+4); or 4 spikes +21 ranged (2d6+8/19-20)
    Space/Reach: 10 ft./10 ft.
    Special Attacks: Smite good, spell-like abilities, spikes
    Special Qualities: Damage reduction 10/magic, darkvision 60 ft., immunity to poison, independent eyes, repulsion field, resistance (acid, cold, fire, and electricity) 10, spell resistance 28, true seeing.
    Saves: Fort +17, Ref +15, Will +9
    Abilities: Str 26, Dex 18, Con 22, Int 8, Wis 13, Cha 16
    Skills: Concentration +11, Climb +21, Escape Artist +9, Hide +21*, Listen +22, Move Silently +25, Search +23, Sense Motive +12, Spot +30, Swim +21
    Feats: Ability Focus (repulsion), Cleave, Improved Natural Attack (spikes), Improved Precise Shot, Iron Will, Multiattack, Point Blank Shot, Power Attack, Precise Shot, Quicken Spell-Like Ability (unholy aura).
    Environment: Underground
    Organization: Solitary
    Challenge Rating: 13
    Treasure: Double standard
    Alignment: Always lawful evil
    Advancement: -
    Level Adjustment: -1

    This creature appears to be a giant blood-red chameleon, but an sinister resolve burns in its bulbous eyes. Deadly black spikes grow from its tail and a trio of jagged horns adorns its scaly head.

    ----In the deepest subterranean kingdoms, there are tales of massive tunnel guardians, almost as large as the passages they defend. Few, however, know that the blood of a demon runs in their veins. Intelligent and deadly, the tunnel masters are used as free roaming guardians by the minions of the most powerful demon lords.
    ----The tunnel master is identical to the tunnel guardian, except as listed above and described here:
    ----Repulsion (Su): A tunnel master's repulsion effect has a Will save DC of 24, reflecting the creature's greater Hit Dice and higher Charisma score.
    ----Smite Good (Su): Once per day, a tunnel master may make a normal melee attack to deal extra damage equal to its Hit Dice (in this case, +18) against a good foe.
    ----Spell Like-Abilities (Sp): 3/day: darkness, poison (DC 22), unholy aura (DC 21). 1/day: blasphemy, contagion (DC 16), desecrate, horrid wilting (DC 21), summon monster IX (fiends only), unhallow, unholy blight (DC 17). Caster level 18th and all save DCs are Charisma-based.


    Looking Back...
    I don't really have anything to say about the monsters. I mean, they're monsters. They work well enough. The only interesting thing is that an official version of a piranha swarm appeared in Stormwrack, and it was almost exactly the same except for being one point of Challenge Rating higher.
    Rich Burlew



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