One of favourite prestige classes, fluff-wise, is the ghost-faced killer from Complete Adventurer. Sadly, it is extremely weak, and its abilities do not mesh with the fluff that well. I started to write a version of the ghost-faced killer that I might actually enjoy playing, and it...mutated...into this.
It is unknown whether psychopomps actually draw upon the powers of death spirits, use their own innate abilities and draw inspiration from spirits, or simply cloak clever tactics with an otherworldly reputation. Whatever the source of their abilities, psychopomps are warriors that have perfected a unique style of slaughter: a ghastly figure emerges from the shadows and strikes a single, horrible blow. Before they can be surrounded, they disappear – to flee, or to strike once more?
Psychopomps are skilled warriors who have learnt to channel the power of death to effect the physical world in various ways. The source of their powers may differ between worlds: the deity in charge of death, or outsiders who ensure that the dead pass on properly, or even death as an impersonal force of nature. Some have suggested that psychopomps only use the idea of death as a focus for their own innate abilities. Whatever the source of their powers, psychopomps are formidable warriors. Fully trained psychopomps can turn invisible, walk through walls, and kill with a glare.
Although their grisly abilities give them a reputation as bloodthirsty mercenaries, psychopomps may be of any non-lawful alignment: good psychopomps often target nobles or merchants too powerful to be dealt with by normal authorities, and many neutral psychopomps consider their hard-won abilities too rare and valuable to be hired by mere gold. Psychopomps do not have a guild, or indeed any formal organisation at all. Highly skilled psychopomps may offer to train an impressive warrior whom they meet, hear of or perhaps even fight. There are no expectations of an apprentice psychopomp, save that they continue to train and increase in skill.
Alignment: any non-lawful
Base Attack Bonus +5
Skills: Concentration 4 ranks, Intimidate 8 ranks, Move Silently 6 ranks
Feats: Improved Initiative, Power Attack
Special: Impress a psychopomp with your martial skill and self-control to the point that they ask to teach you their secrets.
Class Skills: Bluff, Climb, Concentration, Hide, Intimidate, Jump, Listen, Move Silently, Open Lock, Search, Spot, Swim, Tumble
Skill points per level: 4 + Int
Hit Die: d8
Proficiencies: Psychopomps are proficient with all simple and martial weapons, and with light armour.
BAB and saves: progress as fighter.
Channel Aspect (Su): A psychopomp is imbued with the power of death, and can channel that power to grant themselves various deathly powers. A psychopomp has a pool of channel points equal to their class level plus their Constitution modifier. This pool refreshes to its maximum after a night's rest, in exactly the same way as a spellcaster's daily spells. Channel points cannot be saved from one day to the next. At the beginning of their turn, a psychopomp may pay channel points to activate an aspect as a free action. There are two kinds of aspects: continuous, and single-round.
Continuous aspects remain in effect for a number of rounds equal to the psychopomp's class level. Maintaining one or more aspects takes a move action each round and requires concentration. Due to the intense mental focus required, a psychopomp takes a -10 circumstance penalty on Concentration checks for each active continuous aspect. If forced to take a Concentration check to maintain their aspects, a psychopomp takes one check and upon failure loses all their active aspects. A continuous aspect may be dismissed at any time during the psychopomp's turn as a free action.
Single-round aspects generally effect the first melee strike the psychopomp makes that round. Their use incurs no Concentration penalty.
Practiced Intimidation (Ex): A psychopomp may attempt to demoralise an opponent as a swift action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity.
Least Aspect (Su): At each level from 1st to 4th, a psychopomp chooses one of the following aspect abilities to learn.
Walk Unseen (continuous) – The psychopomp draws on the death spirits for concealment and becomes invisible. This effect lasts for a number of rounds equal to the psychopomp's class level, and attacking does not dissipate it. The psychopomp may dismiss the invisibility as a free action.
No Lock Can Hold (single) – Metal and magic cannot keep out death...or a psychopomp. The effect of this ability is as if the psychopomp had cast knock, with a caster level equal to their psychopomp level.
Swift Passage (continuous) – The psychopomp draws upon the speed of death spirits, adding 20ft to their movement speed. This aspect does not stack with itself.
Brought Low (single) – If the psychopomp's first melee attack this turn hits, the target and the psychopomp make opposed Concentration checks; if the target loses, they are instantly knocked prone by the weight of approaching death. This is a mind-effecting ability.
Brutal Attack (Ex): Psychopomps learn to remove unwary enemies with efficiency, exploiting the slightest inattention or distraction. At second level, a psychopomp adds a +2 competency bonus to their melee attacks against enemies denied their Dexterity bonus to AC. At fifth level, this bonus increases to +4, and at eighth to +6. For the purposes of the Power Attack feat, this bonus counts as part of the psychopomp's BAB. A psychopomp does not gain this bonus against opponents who are immune to critical hits.
Horrifying Strike (Ex): Death is never pleasant to watch, but a psychopomp can make it terrible. Whenever a psychopomp of third level or higher kills an opponent with a melee attack or a psychopomp ability, they may make an Intimidate check with a +2 circumstance modifier; using that check, they may attempt to demoralise each opponent adjacent to the fallen opponent or the psychopomp.
Deathly Skill (Ex): As long as they have at least one spirit point remaining in their pool, a psychopomp of at least fourth level adds their psychopomp level to all Intimidate and Move Silently checks as a competence bonus.
Lesser Aspect (Su): From 5th to 7th level, a psychopomp chooses a lesser aspect to learn each level. These abilities function and are activated in the same way as least abilities, but cost two channel points to activate.
Find The Path (continuous) – The psychopomp draws upon the death spirits for guidance to their target. They add their psychopomp level to any Balance, Climb, Jump or Tumble checks they make as a competence bonus.
Cut The Cord (single) – The psychopomp attempts to end a target's life in one stroke. If the psychopomp's first melee attack this turn hits, the target and the psychopomp make opposed Concentration checks. If the target has a lower result, they take the difference in temporary Wisdom damage.This is a mind-effecting ability.
On Swift Wings (continuous) – The psychopomp draws upon the ability of death to be present anywhere, gaining the ability to fly with perfect manoeuvrability at their movement speed.
Greater Horrifying Strike (Ex): Psychopomps of sixth level or higher can kill an opponent in a such a terrible fashion that every eye is drawn to it. As horrifying strike, but may attempt to demoralise every opponent who can draw line of sight to the fallen opponent.
Greater Aspect (Su): At eighth, ninth and tenth level, a psychopomp chooses one of these abilities to learn. They are activated in the same way as least and lesser abilities, but cost three channel points.
Walk Through Walls (continuous) – No physical barrier stands between a psychopomp and their target. The psychopomp becomes ethereal.
Untraceable And Indomitable (continuous) – Drawing upon the power of death, a well-trained psychopomp can slip away from divinations and enchantments. The psychopomp is treated as under the effect of the spell mind blank.
You Cannot Run (continuous) – A powerful psychopomp can drawn upon the power of death to trap their opponents. If the psychopomp's first melee attack this turn hits, the target is treated as if effected by the spell dimensional anchor.
You Cannot Hide (continuous) – The psychopomp looks through the veil of death, and sees the world as it truly is. The psychopomp gains the benefits of true seeing.
Your Hour Has Come (single) – The psychopomp reaches through death and attempts to pluck the life from the target's body. The psychopomp's first melee attack this round does no damage. Instead, the target and the psychopomp take opposed Concentration checks. If the target loses, they are killed instantly. This is a mind-effecting ability.
Deathly Glare (Ex): At ninth level, opponents successfully demoralised by the psychopomp become panicked rather than shaken.
Do Not Return (Su): A fully trained psychopomp has learnt to send the spirits of their victims directly to the afterlife, severing them entirely from the mortal world. An opponent killed by a tenth-level psychopomp using a psychopomp ability or melee attack may not be resurrected or raised from death in any way. They cannot become a ghost, and they cannot be contacted or questioned by any kind of magic. Liches slain by a psychopomp still reform by their phylactery, but the process takes three times as long due to the wounds left upon their spirit.
Channel death, least aspect, practiced intimidation
Least aspect, brutal attack +2
Least aspect, horrifying strike
Least aspect, deathly skill
Lesser aspect, brutal attack +4
Lesser aspect, greater horrifying strike
Greater aspect, brutal attack +6
Greater aspect, deathly glare
Greater aspect, do not return
Are the aspects interesting and useful without being horribly overpowered?
Is horrifying strike too much? I have visions of a ninth-level psychopomp challenging an army's champion to a duel, killing him and sending the whole army running...but that's at fourteenth level, at which point you're generally doing crazy stuff anyway.
Is it clear what the psychopomp's role is? I intended for them to be an infiltration/skirmisher, setting up brutal surprise rounds and then acting as a flanker.
Do I need to add an ability to level 7? Current all it has is another lesser aspect choice.
Avatar by Dizposition.
Last edited by Dr Strangelove : 11-14-2010 at 01:56 AM.
Reason: adding table