Monday, August 11, 2014

Find the Path: Prestige Titles (A Prestige Class Variant)

Prestige and Achievements
Prestige Classes carry an inherent opportunity cost in the case of levels that might not always reflect the real concept for a character.  While Prestige Classes offer a great deal of customization, they don't always feel worth that cost.  Lowering a character's base class features in order to obtain levels in a prestige class will drive some players to never take levels that might otherwise be interesting for them.

Prestige Titles
This variant replaces prestige classes with a different system altogether.  Inspired by Mythic Adventures, the Prestige system replaces prestige classes with a Achievement system: Titles.  Like Mythic Tiers, Prestige Achievements aren't the same thing as levels a character obtains, and don't cost any sort of multiclassing.  They have requirements like Prestige Classes do, but the First Achievement is earned when a character joins the organization that supports that class for the first time.

Characters each new Achievements when they complete Challenges that their Prestige Organization likes and supports.  Their title grows in ability as a character completes challenges that reflect the goals and nature of that title.

Characters first can choose to pursue and gain a Title at 5th level.  Characters can achieve up to five Achievements in a Prestige Title.  In order to join and gain access to a Title and its achievements, characters must first meet the prerequisites of that title.

Peerage: At the first achievement, the character receives a bonus on Diplomacy and Sense Motive checks made against any one else that shares the same title as they do.  This bonus is equal to that character's number of Achievements.

Prestige Saves: At the first achievement, the character receives a bonus on saving throws.  Each title has its own favored saving throws.  On these favored saving throws, the character gains a prestige bonus equal to the character's number of achievements.

Additional Training: At the first achievement, the character gains new class skills.  Each prestige title has its own class skills, which the character adds to their own list of class skills.  In addition, every time a character gains a new achievement, they also gain additional hit points or skill points.  Each prestige title lists the skill or hit points gained at each new achievement obtained.

Title Feature: Each Prestige Title has a feature ability that all members obtain when they first gain a Achievement in that Title.  This feature isn't a Prestige Ability, and is in addition to the prestige ability they can select on their first achievement.

Prestige Ability: At each Achievement, the character gains a prestige ability from that title's list of available prestige abilities.

Capstone: All prestige titles end in a Capstone ability at the 5th achievement.

# of Challenges needed to reach a new Achievement in a Prestige Title:
1st Achievement: Meeting the prerequisites and obtaining membership itself is all that is needed to gain the first achievement of a Prestige Title.
2nd Achievement: 3 Challenges
3rd Achievement: 5 Challenges
4th Achievement: 7 Challenges
5th Achievement: 10 Challenges

This is only a rough outline of the idea, but I think it is implementable as this.  I think it'll allow people to consider prestige class ideas for their characters that previously they hadn't considered for the cost of losing their base or core class levels.

New Feat: Dual Titles [Prestige Feat]
Prerequisites: 1st Achievement
Benefit: You can select a second title.  If you meet its prerequisites and can join it, you may select that Title's abilities in addition to your first title's.  Furthermore, you can select to use that title's hit points, skill points or favored saving throws instead of your first title.  You must select which title you use for your Prestige Saves and Additional Training, but both together.  You cannot select separate titles for Additional Training and Prestige Saves, they must both be selected from the same Title.

Extra Prestige Ability [Prestige Feat]
Prerequisites: 1st Achievement
Benefit: You gain a prestige ability from your Prestige Title.

Edit: Added the Title Feature part to the layout.  Compensates for the fact most prestige classes have a "core feature" you gain in that class that should be in addition to prestige abilities.  Still working on a few examples too.

Example Prestige Titles:

All right.  Here is a conversion of the Noble Scion, but for my variant.  I've also added a bit to it, but not too much.  I'll be adding more examples to this page as I get the chance to do so.

Noble Scion
Whether from a privileged upbringing or social elevation through worthy deeds, nobility is a station to which many aspire. To some noble scions, their mantle is one of responsibility and the duties of governance. To others, the privileges of rank are rewards to flaunt and lavish upon themselves, without consideration of the commoners, peasants, and other underlings who exist wholly beneath their notice.

To qualify to become a noble scion, a character must fulfill all of the following criteria.
Feats: Noble Scion or Skill Focus (any skill that's a class skill for this prestige class).
Skills: Bluff 2 ranks, Diplomacy 2 ranks, Knowledge (nobility) 5 ranks, Sense Motive 2 ranks.
Special: Must have been granted noble rights, be part of the aristocracy, or have been born, married, or adopted into a noble family.

Favored Saving Throw: Will
Bonus Skill Points At Each Achievement: 6
Bonus Hit Points At Each Achievement: 2
Prestige Class Skills: The noble scion's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Appraise (Int), Bluff (Cha), Diplomacy (Cha), Disguise (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (all) (Int), Perception (Wis), Perform (Cha), Ride (Dex), and Sense Motive (Wis).

Noble Scion Title Feature: Affluent: A noble scion gains a stipend worth a number of gold pieces equal to 750 multiplied by his number of Achievements, at each Noble Scion Achievement he gains.

List of Prestige Abilities:
1st Achievement Abilities

Aristocratic Erudition: A noble scion gains a bonus equal to his number of Achievements on Diplomacy, Knowledge (local), and Knowledge (nobility) checks. This ability also reduces the DCs of Diplomacy and Knowledge (local) checks others make to gather publicly known information about the noble scion by the same amount.

Greater Leadership (Ex): A noble scion gains the Leadership feat as a bonus feat. He can recruit a cohort up to one level lower than himself. At his 5th achievement, he can recruit a cohort of the same level as himself.

Improved Noble Scion (Ex): If the Noble Scion has the feat of the same name, he gains the following improvement based on which version of that feat he selected:

  • Scion of the Arts: The bonus on Perform checks increases to +4.
  • Scion of Lore: The bonus on all Knowledge skills in which you have at least 1 rank increases to +4.
  • Scion of Magic: Whenever you spend the free action for a bonus on a Spellcraft check, you instead can choose to take a 10 regardless of the situation.
  • Scion of Peace: You gain a +2 bonus on Heal and Sense Motive checks. 
  • Scion of War: Once per day, you can add your Charisma to your AC in place of your Dexterity for 1 minute.

If the noble scion doesn't have the feat of the same name, they gain it instead.  A noble scion can choose to select this ability a second time, if they gained the Noble Scion feat the first time they took it.

Prestigious Influence (Ex): A noble scion can use his influence to receive special treatment, favors, and other services. He effectively has a pool of virtual gold pieces equal to 150 gp plus 20 gp per Noble Scion Achievement to spend on services and non-material goods. This pool replenishes at the beginning of every week.

Services and nonmaterial goods available to a noble scion include:

  • Pay for lodgings, stabling, taxes, and tolls.
  • Improve his lifestyle quality.
  • Hire entertainers, messengers, mounts, servants, transport, workers, and so on.
  • Obtain invitations to exclusive events, or entry into privileged locations.
  • Spread rumors or start a whispering campaign.
  • Purchase spellcasting services.

Employ an expert hireling to make a skill check with a check bonus of +10 plus his class level (50 gp).
A noble scion cannot permanently gain goods or wealth from this ability; boons attainable from this ability are generally only available in settlements of 5,000 people or more. The exact benefits available in a location are subject to GM discretion.

3rd Achievement Abilities
Regional Expertise: A noble scion gains a bonus feat from one of the lists below, depending on where he is from. These feats must be taken from the same list at each level (except for feats under the “general” category, which can be taken by nobles from any region). A noble scion need not meet the prerequisites for these feats. At their discretion, GMs may add other feats to these regions or create lists for other regions.

Land of the Fallen Dragon Kings: Exotic Weapon Proficiency (dueling sword), Flanking Foil, Step Up, Weapon Focus (dueling sword).
The Empire of Devils: Careful Speaker, Enforcer, Intimidating Prowess, Skill Focus (Knowledge [planes]).
The Land of the Ten-Thousand Gods: Improved Unarmed Strike, Skill Focus (Perform [dance]), Voice of the Sibyl, Weapon Focus (unarmed strike).
The Elven Forest Kingdom: Agile Maneuvers, Breadth of Experience, Skill Focus (Knowledge [nature]), Weapon Focus (longbow).
The Shadow Kingdom: Blind-Fight, Diehard, Shadow Strike, Stealthy.
The Kingdom of Pharaohs: Exotic Weapon Proficiency (khopesh), Self-Sufficient, Skill Focus (Knowledge [history]), Weapon Focus (khopesh).
The Satrapy of the Desert: Animal Affinity, Quick Draw, Skill Focus (Appraise), Weapon Focus (scimitar).
The River Nations: Improved Dirty Trick, Improved Steal, Ironguts, Skill Focus (Knowledge [local]).
The Fallen Empire: Dazzling Display, Exotic Weapon Proficiency (falcata), Skill Focus (Bluff ), Weapon Focus (falcata).
The Gothic Kingdoms: Combat Reflexes, Focused Discipline, Skill Focus (Knowledge [nobility]), Stoic.
General: Acrobatic, Additional Traits, Alertness, Antagonize, Athletic, Cosmopolitan, Deceitful, Deft Hands, Fleet, Improved Initiative, Persuasive, Prodigy, Rhetorical Flourish, Run, Scholar.
The noble scion can choose to take this ability multiple times.

Dilettante Studies: When a noble scion takes this ability, he chooses two different dilettante studies from the list below. The noble scion can take this ability multiple times- he again chooses two different dilettante studies to add to his repertoire. If either of these are duplicates of those chosen at the first time, the bonuses stack.

  • Dilettante Performer (Su): A noble scion treats his effective bard level as two higher for the purpose of the bardic performance class ability. He must have the bardic performance class ability to choose this dilettante study.
  • Dilettante Scholar (Su): A noble scion gains new spells per day as if he had also gained a level in a spellcasting class he belonged to before he added the prestige class.
  • Dilettante Scoundrel (Ex): A noble scion gains a +1d6 sneak attack bonus as per the rogue class ability. If a noble scion gets a sneak attack bonus from another source, the bonuses on damage stack.
  • Dilettante Warrior (Ex): A noble scion gains a +1 bonus on attack and damage rolls.

Servitor: The noble scion gains a faithful NPC servitor of the same level as his cohort granted by the Leadership feat (if he doesn't have leadership, use his leadership score to determine the level of this servitor). This servitor can only have levels in NPC classes and comes equipped with gear appropriate for a character 1 level lower than the servitor's actual level. The servitor does not follow the noble scion as would a cohort or follower, but instead can run various errands for his master while the noble scion is adventuring, such as delivering messages or maintaining the scion's manor in his stead.

Capstone: Peerless Patrician (Ex): Once per round a noble scion can roll twice on any Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate, Knowledge (nobility), or Sense Motive check and take the better roll. Once per day, instead of rolling one of these skill checks, he can assume the roll resulted in a natural 20.

One aspect that makes me question my 5 achievement progression is how many prestige abilities end up after conversion.  However, I think the balance of giving players the ability to pick and choose which ones to ignore might be worth more than trying to retain perfect parity between mechanics.  I'd like to introduce more prestige abilities altogether, preferably allowing for different members of the same title to be different enough from one another.

Low Templar
Some men and women attain such skill at serving the letter of the law while keeping to their own private agendas that they become low templars. Under a sanctified veneer, they walk a wavering line between heroism and thuggery.

To qualify to become a low templar, a character must fulfill all the following criteria.
Feats: Mounted Combat, Weapon Focus (any martial weapon).
Skills: Bluff 5 ranks, Knowledge (nobility or planes) 2 ranks, Ride 5 ranks.

Favored Saving Throw: Fortitude
Bonus Skill Points At Each Achievement: 2
Bonus Hit Points At Each Achievement: 2
Prestige Class Skills: The low templar’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Appraise (Int), Bluff (Cha), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Handle Animal (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (local) (Int), Knowledge (nobility) (Int), Knowledge (planes) (Int), Linguistics (Int), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), Stealth (Dex), and Survival (Wis).

Low Templar Title Feature: Crusader: Whatever his faults, a low templar is a skilled warrior against the demon hordes.  At 1st achievement, a low templar gains a +1 bonus on all weapon attack rolls and weapon damage rolls against chaotic evil outsiders. He also gains an equal bonus on all Will saving throws against the abilities of chaotic evil outsiders.  At 2nd achievement, these bonuses increase to +2.
The bonus increases to +3 at 3rd Achievement and finally to +4 at 5th Achievement.

List of Prestige Abilities:
1st Achievement Abilities
Flag of Convenience (Ex): A low templar is adept at aligning himself with the winning side and has mastered the art of shifting or switching allegiance when convenient. He can disappear in one place and appear in another with new affiliations and associations, yet without besmirching his reputation. Even when caught in illicit acts, he easily evades blame. The low templar gains a +2 bonus on all Bluff and Disguise checks, and on Linguistics checks made to create forgeries. A low templar never suffers a penalty to his Leadership score for moving around frequently, aloofness, cruelty, or the loss of prior cohorts or followers, and can replace lost followers in half the normal amount of time.

Dirty Fighting (Ex): A low templar melds the stately forms of jousting and chivalric standards with the down-and-dirty style of a barroom brawler. No trick is beneath him. A low templar never takes a non-proficiency penalty on attack rolls with improvised weapons and gains a +2 bonus on all combat maneuver checks. In addition, whenever he lands a critical hit, the low templar may opt to deal normal damage and roll on the following table rather than dealing extra damage.

If the critical multiplier is x3, the duration of the effect doubles. If the critical multiplier is x4, the duration triples.

d6 Result
1 Target is staggered for 1 round
2 Target is nauseated for 1 round
3 Target is deafened for 1 round
4 Target is blinded for 1 round
5 Target is sickened for 1 minute
6 Target becomes fatigued

Sneak Attack (Ex): This ability is exactly like the rogue ability of the same name.  If a low templar gets a sneak attack bonus from another source, the bonuses on damage stack.  A low templar can take this ability multiple times.

Templar Training (Ex): The low templar gains one teamwork or combat feat of their choice.  A low templar can select this ability multiple times.

3rd Achievement Abilities
Path of Darkness/Path of Light (Su): As a low templar advances, he must eventually decide how closely he wishes to hew to his oaths to Iomedae and her ethos of law and goodness. If he chooses the path of light, he may choose to ignore the lawful or good aspect of his alignment (choose one) for determining alignment-based magical effects (e.g., reducing damage from unholy blight or an unholy weapon, masking his alignment from detect good, or ignoring some effects of a magic circle against good). He also gains a +2 circumstance bonus on Diplomacy checks with creatures with the lawful or good subtypes. If he chooses the path of darkness, he instead disregards either chaos or evil from his alignment and gains a Diplomacy bonus with creatures of the chaotic or evil subtypes.

Live to Fight Another Day (Ex): A low templar can use the withdraw action as a standard action, although if he does so, he can only move at his speed (not double his speed).  At 5th achievement, A low templar can use the withdraw action as a move action, although if he does so, he can only move at his speed (not double his speed).

Ruthless (Ex): Whenever a low templar kills a foe or reduces it to a dying state with a melee attack, he can immediately make another attack with the same weapon at the same attack bonus as a swift action. This additional attack can be made on any legal target. The low templar gains a bonus on damage rolls with this swift action attack equal to his character level.

Capstone: Damnation/Redemption (Su): A low templar must make a final choice of which ethical path to follow. He may mask a second alignment trait versus alignment-based effects, as per the path of darkness/path of light ability.  If he did not select the path of darkness/path of light ability, he can only mask one alignment trait.  A low templar can select Path of Darkness then later choose path of redemption (or vice versa).

When the low templar makes his damnation/redemption choice, he gains a planar cohort appropriate to his actual alignment, gained as if he had taken the Leadership feat. This planar cohort appears to him and pledges her loyalty to the low templar immediately. If the cohort perishes, the low templar must wait a week before calling upon a replacement. If the low templar has the Leadership feat, he gains a +1 bonus to his Leadership score. If he replaces his cohort gained from the leadership feat with the planar cohort, the maximum level equivalent for his planar cohort equals the templar’s class level –1, rather than –2.