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Archive for February, 2010

Yes, we have clerics, paladins, avengers and invokers, but when I got this guy into my head, I just couldn’t resist putting him down on digital paper.  As per our last flavor-class, the Necromancer, this class is based on one already published; in this case the bard, as found in the PHB2. I don’t want to reprint the great work that WotC have already done, and so I have only posted by changes to the mechanics, as well as all the new flavor-text.

And so, coming to a game table near you, bringing with him promises of fire, brimstone and eternal damnation is…

The Preacher

“And lo! The fiery flame of Pelor did come down and smite the heathen Oni; and it was good.”

Class traits

Role: Leader. Your commands condemn enemies and absolve allies; so powerful are your words that you can re-order battlefields to your liking, making controller a good secondary role

Power source: Divine. You translate The Word of your God and inflict it’s mighty resonance on the heathen.

Key abilities: As per the bards.

Armor profiencies: As per the bards.

Weapon proficiencies: Simple melee, military melee, simple ranged.

Implements: Holy symbols (book of commandments).

Bonus to defense: +1 Fortitude, +1 Will

Hit Points at 1st level: 12 + Constitution score

Hit Points gained level: 5

Healing surges per day: 7 + Constitution modifier

Trained skills: Religion. Choose three more from the bards skill list, substituting endurance for acrobatics.

Class features: Book of Commandments, Steadfast Morality, Words of Absolution, Words of Damnation, Resolute, Preaching to the Converted.

Preachers are often found in the harshest climates in the most hostile regions. There’s is a life of both servitude and command; bringing The Word of their God to the farthest and darkest reaches of the world, whether it is welcomed or not. More than just a mouthpiece, preachers learns to defend themselves early, or risk becoming the one thing that any preacher fears: silenced.

Because of the hostility they often face, preachers make use of arms and armour, but often all they need is one thing: their book of commandments. This book contains the divine edicts of their God and is as inseparable to a preacher as is his head or arms.

Following in the footsteps of the ancient Order of the Inquisition, a preacher holds vows and promises to be truths without question; let no one stand in the path of a preacher who has vowed to aid the wretched, and clense the wicked.

Book of Commandments

You gain the Ritual Caster feat as a bonus feat, allowing you to use magical rituals. You own a book of commandments (ritual book), and it contains two rituals that you have mastered: Comprehend Language and another 1st-level ritual.

Steadfast Morality

The Gods are at once kind and merciful, as well as damning and vengeful. Preachers are masters at interpreting their God’s commands, and often find themselves playing the role of creator or destroyer in lieu of their God’s actual presence.

Choose one of the following options. The choice you make gives you the benefit described below and also provides bonuses to certain preacher commands, as detailed in those powers.

Word of the Sword: As per Virtue of Cunning

Word of the Shield: As per Virtue of Valor

Words of Absolution

As per a bards majestic word.

Words of Damnation

As per the bards Words of Frienship, only with intimidate, as opposed to diplomacy.

Resolute

Instead of the bards multiclass and skill versatilities, you gain a +5 feat bonus to saves against fear or charm.

Preaching to the converted

As per the bards ‘song of rest’, only reading from your book of commandments, rather than singing or playing an instrument.

Implements

Holy symbols. A preacher’s book of commandments can be used as a holy symbol, upgraded by priests of his or her God for the same price as it would be to buy a holy symbol of the same level.

Preachers and Deities

Preachers are the devotees of a single God, choosing their Word above all others. Some go as far as actively shunning the worship of any other deity; most, however, are content to merely champion their own cause. Their worship goes beyond simple ideas of morality or social code; those who stand against them are to be condemned or smited, whether evil overlord or agnostic but pleasant nobleman.

This strict devotion has led to many preachers getting a feared reputation, and there have been instances where preachers have actively tried to stamp out all life who do not share the same views as themselves. Beyond these dangerous individuals, there are many other preachers who bring both the Word, as well as supplies, medicine and education to struggling societies.

Preacher Powers

Preacher powers are called commands. Any creatures with a mouth and at least some brain activity can speak, but a preacher’s orders are charged with divine resonance, and as such carry weight unlike any other.

Anywhere you see the arcane keyword on a bardic power, replace that keyword with divine.

Level 1 At-Will Commands

Find Fault (as per Guiding Strike)

You face your foe and easily determine from where it’s moral corruption stems; even if they didn’t realise it themsleves.

Proclaim Executioner (as per Misdirected Mark)

You charge one of your allies with the task of bringing due wrath to a condemned sinner.

Condemn (as per Vicious Mockery)

Your words ring out true and laiden with damnation; the wretch you direct them at feels their confidence peeling away beneath your gaze.

Shepherd the Flock (as per War Song Strike)

You lead the attack against an enemy, rewarding those who follow your guidance.

Level 1 Encounter Commands

Path of Tears (as per Blunder)

You order an enemy to walk the Path of Tears, hoping pain will force it to see the wrror of it’s ways.

Saving Grace (as per Fast Friends)

Your words illuminate the inherant goodness in youself or an ally – so radiant is the image, that even hated enemies are given pause when raising their swords.

Call to Inquisition (as per Inspiring Refrain)

As your weapon finds it’s target, so your words find theirs – in the hearts of your allies.

Whisper The Word (as per Shout of Triumph)

You utter the slightest noise, reciting a small fraction of the Word of your God, the resonance of which allows you to reshape the battlefield.

Level 1 Daily Commands

Promote to Inquisitor (as per Echoes of the Guardian)

You call on your allies, infusing them with the words of the Inquisitors and bidding them to carryout their divine duty.

Ongoing Judgement (as per Slayer’s Song)

You make your way across the battlefield, judging each enemy in turn, and finding each as reprehensible as the last.

Righteous Strength (as per Stirring Shout)

The call for purification has been made, let those who heed their duty be rewarded.

March of the Inquisition (as per Verse of Triumph)

You begin reciting the holy names of the ancient Order of the Inquisition; as you proceed, their spirits appear, guiding you and your allies to victory!


There is is. The first level of the Preacher flavour-class. Personally, I’d love to see a longtooth shifter Preacher, fighting his own feral nature and taking that self-hate out on the enemies who stand in his way. What’re your thoughts?

Happy role-ing!

Bardic Training, Bardic Virtue, majestic word, Multiclass Versatility, Skill Versatility, Song of Rest, words of friendship

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Let me begin with a story. I was watching a certain, recently released, vampire movie recently (no, not the one with the glittering vamps), and it came to a scene where two characters were at a standoff with a more powerful adversary. They circled the creature as it hissed, claws ready. Everyone, characters and audience alike, were wondering who was going to strike first. Having D&D on my mind at the time (as it often is), I pondered, ‘You know, you can’t really get that kind of tension in-game’ No-one is going to waste time ‘circling’, they’ll just be hacking, or at least trying to’. The more I thought more about it however, I realised that I was, as usual, incorrect.

The answer, I believe, lies in skill challenges. I’m sure many have used these neat portions of play to set up mad chases through packed bazaars, interactions with long dead informants or navigating treacherous rapids etc, but the idea that came upon me whilst bathed in the flickering luminescence of the screen before me was using one as a combat encounter.

…perhaps an example will help illustrate my idea.

Image from www.rasmusillustration.dk/UK_Fantasy.htmlFive bold adventurers have tracked a red dragon to her volcanic lair. They’ve fought through throngs of her followers and navigated the naturally formed maze that has left many lesser groups trekking off for a date with the Raven Queen. The ancient red stands defiant before them; it’s pride means that they will battle, as it would rather be dead than shown mercy.

In game terms, this means the beginning of combat against a solo creature. This can be tricky for a DM to make exciting – to keep the battle from becoming a grind. Staged battles are an option, giving the solo monster more than one turn per round is another, and there are various other tricks to keep things spicy. Here is mine.

Throw away the minis and the map (or, at least, put them somewhere close by for reference if you like). The DM has described the cavernous space to the players and gets them to roll initiative. The DM doesn’t roll for the dragon. The battle begins. Instead of the first player working out how far she is from the dragon and whether she’ll be able to charge over what may or may not be difficult terrain, she describes her epic idea to the DM:

“Alright, I’m gonna charge out there, screaming my goliath head off. I’m sure that big, red bugger is gonna try and take a swipe at me, and I’m gonna be ready. When it does so, I’m gonna chop it with my battle-axe!”

The DM agrees that that sounds awesome, commenting that it seems like an insight check to him, to read the dragon’s posture and predict it’s move. Not the goliath’s best skill, but she rolls and the Gods of the Dice smile on her: the DM describes the dragon lashing out fiercely with it’s tail, there’s the sound of a massive whip-crack before the roar of a dragon in pain fills the chamber. The goliath has, indeed, sunk it’s weapon into the dragon’s flesh. These humanoids aren’t going to be a pushover after all! That’s one rather cool success to the players.

Next up, it’s the gnome rogue’s turn. He’s decided that he’s gonna try a similar tactic; only instead, he’s gonna slide under the dragon’s tail, kicking up dust and debris before leaping high (well, as high as a gnome can leap), and jamming his dagger in the stomach of the monster, leaving him hanging from the wound. Pretty straight forward acrobatics check. Unfortunately, despite his training, he’s not fast enough. Perhaps he dodges the tail, as hoped, but is swatted by a massive talon he wasn’t prepared for. He is knocked across the rocky floor, coming to rest near a pile of bones left from previous dragon-meals.

The wizard isn’t exactly going to charge in, wand waving. She’s more clever than that – this fight isn’t going to be won on brute strength alone. She puts all of her effort into a blinding light which she hopes will erupt right next to the dragon’s eyeballs. One arcana check later and she’s successful! The dragon’s retinas are seared by the sudden influx of illumination. Mechanically, this means that the next physical attack on the dragon get’s a +2 bonus.

And so on. Hopefully, something like this could keep big fights moving, and allow characters to do some pretty interesting things. Characters aren’t restricted by what powers they have not spent, doing things that they’ve not usually been able to do. Also, if prepared correctly, it means that every character will be just as useful to the combat. It also means that, since no actual HP is being lost, that all players are in the game until they’re victorious, or until they accumulate enough failures that the dragon has the upper hand… and devours them all.

Here’s another example, this one trying to simulate the tension from the film I watched: Two PCs armed only withImage property of WotC daggers are circling a snarling displacer beast. The DM has decided the DC to hit the creature is 20, but each character only has a +5 in strength or acrobatics of whatever they’ve decided to use for successes. They can, however, boost their chances by making numerous insight, perception, intimidate, bluff, religion (for spiritual resolve and/or guidance), nature (for knowledge of animalistic movements), dungeoneering (for knowledge relating to the attacking habits of the particular creature) etc checks. Be wary, however, the displacer beast isn’t just going to crouch there growling, allowing the players to rack up bonuses, it’s going to force a success attempt every 1d4+1 rounds, and these failures count as two! Can the PCs survive?

Obviously these sorts of challenges are not ideal for all battles, but for the sake of variety at least, I think it’s worth a shot. Druids can call on their nature skill in a whole new way, commanding vines to restrict his opponent, even if that’s not a power they have. Fighters endure endless barrages behind their shield with an endurance check, diplomacy can be used for… ok, I haven’t thought of a use for diplomacy in combat yet, but I’m sure there is one! Maybe encouraging your allies? The power, as captain planet says, is yours!

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