”Last week it was a nest of Ankhegs and the week before a Hydra. Business just keeps booming and my coin purse is swelling, but I think my happy mood just got a little spoiled. So tell me again Mister...who were you calling a kid?”
-Besh Brownnettle, Gnomish Sagaslayer.
Bards sing tales of epic heroes in every tavern, sonnets populated by cunning and burly men who through the strength of their minds and the sweat of their backs crush monsters that would eat entire villages whole. Beowulf, Siegfried, Gilgamesh and Cú Chulainn are such the mighty mortals that spring to mind when a lad dreams of becoming an idol of yore. But sometimes the legendary destiny of such an august champion is contained inside a much smaller vessel.
When many think of the Gnomes, images of intricate and artistic devices spring to mind or possibly the breath taking and battle staggering illusion that their crafty trickery can birth. For those few unfortunate to know of them, even the spine chilling assassinations that the Whisper Gnomes are infamous for might jump to the forebrain. But never are Gnomes seen as a threat in physical combat by the world at large. Those small, child-like geniuses and mages could never hope to be a titan that strides between the bodies of the dead and defeat.
Such foolhardy and ignorant wretches soon find their comeuppance when they cross the path and raise the ire of a Gnomish Sagaslayer. As tough as any Troll and twice as vicious, a Gnomish Sagaslayer is an exception to the stereotypes of their kin. They are a pint-sized powerhouse who wades a sea of monstrous blood, dolling out the kind of punishment that could only be fathomed from the largest of giants and dragons.
These miniature brutes merely reinforce that one should never judge a book by its cover and never to underestimate someone who comes up to your groin.
BECOMING A GNOMISH SAGASLAYER
Base Attack Bonus:
Knowledge (Arcana, Dungeoneering, Nature, Planes, or Religion) 5 ranks, Survival 5 ranks
Able to initiate one Stone Dragon strike and one Stone Dragon stance or one Iron Heart strike and one Iron Heart Stance or any combination of the previous.
Must have killed a monster of a CR equal to or greater than their level in one on one combat prior to taking levels in this class.
A Ranger or other class may forgo meeting the Knowledge skill requirement for this class if their Favored Enemy is one of the creature types covered by one branch of the required skill.
The Gnomish Sagaslayer's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Acrobatics (Dex), Climb (Str), Escape Artist (Dex), Heal (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (any two) (Int), Martial Lore (Int), Sense Motive (Wis), Stealth (Dex), Surival (Wis).
Skills Points at Each Level:
4 + Intelligent modifier.
|Level||Base Attack Bonus||Fort Save||Ref Save||Will Save||Special|
Fighter of Giants, Grip of the Titan (One)
Mettle, True Grit
Grip of the Titan (Two), Soul of the Behemoth
Grip of the Titan (Three), He Who Fights Monsters
Body of the Mouse
Grip of the Titan (Four), Penetrating Strike
Confound the Big Folk, Grip of the Titan (Five)
|Level||Maneuvers Known||Maneuvers Readied||Stances|
The Gnomish Sagaslayer gains proficiency with all gnomish weapons (any weapon with the word “Gnome” in the name). She does not gain proficiency with any armor or shields.
The Gnomish Sagaslayer gains a new maneuver known from the Stone Dragon or Iron Heart disciplines at first, third, fifth, seventh, and ninth level, and a new maneuver readied at third, sixth, and ninth level. She gains a new stance from the Stone Dragon or Iron Heart disciplines at fourth and eigth level. The Gnomish Sagaslayer’s Gnomish Sagaslayer levels count for initiator levels as full, instead of half. A Gnomish Sagaslayer recovers and readies maneuvers as a Warblade. If the Gnomish Sagaslayer was in an initiator class prior to taking levels in this class, she recovers maneuvers in the same way. Otherwise, she recovers them as a Warblade.
Fighter of Giants (Ex):
A Gnomish Sagaslayer is adept at fighting in battles where more times than not her opponent is much larger than she is. A Gnomish Sagslayer gains a +2 dodge bonus to her AC per size category difference between her and her opponent.
This ability only functions when the Gnomish Sagaslayer is wearing light or no armor.
Grip of the Titan (Ex):
A Gnomish Sagaslayer has a great potency trapped in her small frame, slowly gaining access to its depths as her experience grows. Any manufactured or improvised weapon wielded by a Gnomish Sagaslayer deals damage as if it were one size category larger than it actually is.
For every two levels that a Gnomish Sagaslayer takes in this class the size category difference is increased to a maximum of five size categories at the 9th level.
A Gnomish Sagaslayer has a mind that is as easy to influence as the boundless sea and a body that is enduring as the living mountain. At 2nd level and higher, a Gnomish Sagaslayer can resist magical and unusual attacks with great willpower or fortitude. If she makes a successful Will or Fortitude save against an attack that normally would have a lesser effect on a successful save (such as any spell with a saving throw entry of Will half or Fortitude partial), she instead completely negates the effect. An unconscious or sleeping Gnomish Sagaslayer does not gain the benefit of Mettle.
True Grit (Ex):
A Gnomish Sagaslayer is made of tougher stuff than most and as she gains experience she soon discovers that her flesh becomes further inured to the trade she deals in. A Gnomish Sagaslayer possesses Damage Reduction that can not be bypassed by any source equal to half her levels in this class.
Soul of the Behemoth (Ex):
A Gnomish Sagaslayer, after fighting foes larger than her all her life, begins to move and act like her giant opponents. A Gnomish Sagaslayer functions in many ways as if she were one size category larger. Whenever a Gnomish Sagaslayer is subject to a size modifier or special size modifier for a combat maneuver or opposed check (such as during a grapple, bull rush attempt, and trip attempts), the Gnomish Sagaslayer is treated as one size larger if doing so is advantageous to her. A Gnomish Sagaslayer 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 her. A Gnomish Sagaslayer can use weapons designed for a creature one size larger without penalty. However, her space and reach remain those of a creature of her actual size. The benefits of this class ability stack with the effects of powers, abilities, and spells that change the subject’s size category.
Underfoot Combat :
A Gnomish Sagaslayer gains Underfoot Combat [Races of the Wild] as a bonus feat even if she does not normally qualify for it.
He Who Fights Monsters (Ex):
A Gnomish Sagaslayer finds that after constant encounters with the forces of darkness she begins to innately utilize each foe's weaknesses against them. Whenever a Gnomish Sagaslayer fights a creature, she can make a Knowledge check based on its creature type provided she has at least one rank in the appropriate Knowledge skill.
She then receives an insight bonus on attack rolls and damage rolls against that creature type for the remainder of the combat. The amount of the bonus depends on her Knowledge check result, as given on the following table.
| Check Result||Bonus Granted|
|15 or below||+1|
|36 or higher||+5|
She can only make one Knowledge check per creature type per combat. If she fights multiple creatures of multiple types during the same combat, she can make one Knowledge check per type, thereby possibly gaining different bonuses against different opponents.
Body of the Mouse (Ex):
A Gnomish Sagaslayer may throw down with titanic opponents but she has not forgotten where she has come from. She hones her diminutive origins to higher heights. The physical stature of a Gnomish Sagaslayer lets her function in many ways as if they were one size category smaller. Whenever a Gnomish Sagaslayer is subject to a size modifier or special size modifier for an opposed check or combat maneuver (such as Hide), the Gnomish Sagaslayer is treated as one size smaller if doing so is advantageous to her. A Gnomish Sagaslayer is also considered to be one size smaller when "squeezing" through a restrictive space. A Gnomish Sagaslayer can use weapons designed for a creature one size smaller without penalty. However, the space and reach of a Gnomish Sagaslayer remains those of a creature of her actual size. The benefits of this class ability stack with the effects of powers, abilities, and spells that change the subject's size category.
A Gnomish Sagaslayer gains Penetrating Strike as a bonus feat even if she does not normally qualify for it.
Veteran's Scars (Su):
As a Gnomish Sagaslayer tucks more and more battles under her belt, the trauma and horror of those brushes with death take their toll on not only her body but her very being. A Gnomish Sagslayer gains a bonus equal to her Charisma modifier (if any) to all her saving throws (minimum 0).
Confound the Big Folk:
A Gnomish Sagaslayer gains Confound the Big Folk as a bonus feat even if she does not normally qualify for it.
Heroic Apothesis (Su):
As her legend spreads and her prowess grows, a Gnomish Sagaslayer finds herself going through a great change. Her type changes to Outsider (Augmented,Native) and her Damage Reduction from her True Grit ability increases to be equal to her total levels in this class. Furthermore she ages a much slower rate, only aging one year for every five. A Gnomish Sagaslayer still accrues aging penalties and benefits as she actually ages and dies when her time is finally up.
PLAYING A GNOMISH SAGASLAYER
Gnomish Sagaslayers can be defined as "Tanky DPS"; a special niche of melee class that has good survivability but lacks the heavy defenses and attention grabbing abilities that are the hallmark for a true Tank. Gnomish Sagaslayers live in a world that constantly looks down on them, both literally and metaphorically, and they aren't ones to take it quietly or with good tempers. Gnomish Sagaslayers as such tend to develop chips on their shoulders and are more than satisfied to take out their frustrations and issues out on the foul monsters that make attempts on their lives.
Gnomish Sagaslayers can start their careers as any Martial Initiating class (Warblade being the most common), but are more commonly Rangers who specialized their talent for hunting by dipping and learning some blade magic. It is not unheard of though for other melee classes, like Barbarians or Fighters, to take the Martial Study and Martial Stance feats in order to tap into the power of this class.
Gnomish Sagaslayers always are on the front lines of a violent situation, never shirking from using their devastating talents. A Gnomish Sagaslayer tends to go for the largest or toughest opponent first to make use of their Fighter of Giants class ability but some favor assaulting the soft bodies of spellcasters first.
Gnomish Sagaslayer may continue the path that lead them first to Gnomish Sagaslayer when it ends or may branch out into other appropriate prestige classes that further their innate qualities. A Gnomish Sagaslayer who experiences a psionic awakening almost always pursues the Slayer prestige class.
Belonging to no specific orders by virtue of being a Gnomish Sagaslayer and not tight knit enough to form an order amongst themselves, a Gnomish Sagaslayer normally does not have any special resources they can draw upon. Gnomish Sagaslayers passing through Gnomish communities may receive special treatment if recognized for what they are and the community is in a time of need against monstrous attackers but may just as likely try to expedite the Sagaslayer's departure lest their antics cause too much collateral damage. A talented Gnomish Sagaslayer can easily find themselves quite wealthy if they fall into being a Bounty hunter, Monster slayer or Sell sword.
GNOMISH SAGASLAYER IN THE WORLD
”Me and the boys thought it was pretty funny when we saw that girlie walk in through the front doors. Sure she had a shortsword on her waist and she was wearing chain mail but we were so sure at the time that it was all just for play. Almost choked on my grog when she approached Lars and actually asked him for a full pint! And then when she started get all huffy at the old barkeep we were all laughing!
But...that's when things stopped being so funny....
She must have been a demon the way she broke that chair against Lars and put him out cold and things got mostly hazy in the brawl that started afterwards. Last thing I remember was seeing an entire table coming my way and hitting the wall, but after that it was all a blur.
The place was a wreck when I came too and I thank my lucky stars that I came out with just a few bruises and a broken arm. I still have me life...some lads weren't so lucky.”
-Daggot Finergan, Local pirate
Gnomish Sagaslayers are at best received similarly to other adventurers of the melee persuasion and at worst taken in as children who are running around playing silly games, trying at being adults. Those who recognize a gnome for what it is rarely can see the distinction between a Fighter, Barbarian, Ranger or Gnomish Sagaslayer and usually suffer for making the wrong assumptions. Too few are the knowledgeable or scholarly who know the existence of this breed and few gnomes are willing to divulge the secret that any battle inclined member of their people you could meet could in reality be a temperamental champion of yore who hunt monsters and can leave great chaos in their wake.
A Gnomish Sagaslayer's daily life is really no different from that of any Barbarian, Fighter, Ranger or other class that they originally belonged to.
No one knows who the first Gnomish Sagaslayer may have been and so scattered and minimally renowned are they as a group of similar individuals that any who gain fame and glory have yet to be immortalized for being one in any but the most forgotten of analogues.
Gnomish Sagaslayers possesses no organization of their own and only are likely to belong to others on an individual basis.
Most NPCs are not even aware that a Gnomish Sagaslayer is any different than normal for the class they took before becoming one and treat them as such. Gnomes tend to treat Sagaslayers with a mix of hero worship and caution; though they are great figures who fight the most deadly of creatures they are also naturally destructive and can be quite unbalanced from years of torment and hardship.
GNOMISH SAGASLAYERS IN THE GAME
Gnomish Sagaslayers are strong melee fighters who mostly dabble in Blade Magic from the Tome of Battle in order to supplement and increase their capabilities in combat. Sagaslayers tend to sacrifice the sheer durability or versatility that their base class would have granted with further levels in order to gain a sharp upturn in damage capability coupled with some increased survivability. Sagaslayers tend not to be adapt enough at Blade Magic to be as competent as a true Initiating class but they can easily be a spring board for other classes and prestige classes that further or require training in it.
The Gnomish Sagaslayer can only really be adapted to be utilized by races that are naturally small or smaller. It's meant to give some serious oomph to those species that aren't ever viewed as a credible brawny threat because of their size.
Encounters with Gnomish Sagaslayers most commonly either occur the same as with their base classes or during an intrepid adventure into the lair of some dangerous and/or horrific monster that has a price on its head or is otherwise infamous.