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Old 04-21-2012, 06:28 PM
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[PrC] The Hand in the Dark: Warrior-assassins who use shadows to travel

This is the first of three related PrCs for my Aheka campaign. Specifically, this is one of the three PrCs used exclusively by the Children in the Dark, who are humans (and part humans) that have managed to escape enslavement from Fiends and banded together to wage a guirella war against them. They're led by a Deity known as the Sword in the Dark (amongst other names) and are not known on Aheka (bar a few individuals), since planar travel is rare/dangerous (so few Ahekans travel the planes) and the Children themselves have a tabboo against setting foot on Aheka.

Anyway, this is the warrior/assassin of the trio (all of which have rogue elements in it), with the mage/scout being the Eye in the Dark and the divine caster/spy being the Face in the Dark.

I'm not entirely sure of the balance of this class, especially compared to the others. On the one hand, they're full BAB, get some sneak attack (plus backstabber's finesse) and some maneuvers, but the other two only miss out on two caster levels and spellcasting is generally seen as more powerful.

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The Hands in the Dark
The Hands in the Dark are the assassins and elite warriors of the Children of the Dark, typically working in groups of other Hands and perhaps an Eye in the Dark or two.

They are most well known, among the Children and Fiends both, for their ability to slip into the Plane of Shadows temporarily in order to avoid obstacles although the more skilled Hands are eventually able to move through the Plane of Shadows over greater distances although in all cases their ability to take others with them is limited (hence why they tend to work with other Hands and sometimes Eyes, as they're likely to end up outstripping their other allies).


Requirements
To qualify for the Hand in the Dark Prestige Class a character must fulfil all of the following criteria:
  • BAB: +7
  • Maneuvers: Must be capable of using at least one 3rd level Shadow Hand Maneuver and at least one 3rd level Devoted Soul Maneuver (both from Tome of Battles).
  • Skills: Hide 13 ranks, Knowledge (the Planes) 6 ranks and Move Silently 13 ranks.
  • Alignment: Any non-Evil.
  • Patron: The Sword in the Dark.
  • Sneak Attack: +2d6.
  • Special: Must have either been born/held for a long time in a Fiend-controlled plane/otherwise under the rule of Fiends or been raised among the Children in the Dark.

Hit Dice: d8.
Lvl BAB Fort Ref Will Special Man. Known Man. Readied Stances
1 +1 +2 +2 +0 Backstabber's Initiative, Darkvision (60ft), Shadowskimming (5ft) 0 0 0
2 +2 +3 +3 +0 Sneak Attack +1d6 1 0 0
3 +3 +3 +3 +1 Hide in Plain Sight 0 1 0
4 +4 +4 +4 +1 Shadowskimming (10ft) 1 0 0
5 +5 +4 +4 +1 Sneak Attack +2d6, Shadowshift (dimension door) 0 0 1
6 +6 +5 +5 +2 Unseen 1 1 0
7 +7 +5 +5 +2 Shadowskimming (15ft) 0 0 0
8 +8 +6 +6 +2 Sneak Attack +3d6 1 0 0
9 +9 +6 +6 +3 Darkvision (120ft), Shadowshift (plane shift) 0 1 0
10 +10 +7 +7 +3 Shroud, Shadowskimming (20ft) 1 0 0
Class Skills (4 + Int Modifier): Balance (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Disguise (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Hide (Dex). Knowledge (religion) (Int), Knowledge (the planes) (Int), Listen (Wis), Martial Lore (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Search (Int), Spot (Wis), and Tumble (Dex).

Class Features
Weapon and Armour Proficiency: Hands in the Dark are proficient with light armour, medium armour, all simple weapons and all martial weapons.

Level 1
Backstabber's Initiative (Ex): Starting from 1st level, whenever a Hand in the Dark makes a sneak attack (whether with a melee weapon, ranged weapon or spell) they gain an insight bonus on the attack and damage roll equal to their Dexterity bonus or their class level, whichever is lower (minimum 1).

Darkvision (Ex): Starting from 1st level a Hand in the Dark gains Darkvision out to 60ft. Should they already have Darkvision, then they instead increase their natural darkvision by +60ft.

At 9th level their Darkvision extends by another +60ft, up to a maximum of 120ft.

Shadowskimming (Su): Starting fromt 1st level a Hand in the Dark is taught their discipline's signature ability, allowing them to skim across note that in this setting the Plane of Shadow exists in all planes, connecting them all together, rather than just the Material Planethe Plane of Shadow for rapid movement.

This allows a Hand to move from one shadow or area of darkness (natural or otherwise, but not including mere shadowy illumination) to another through the plane of shadows as a part of a move action to move or a full-round action to charge or run, provided they can see their next entry and exit point (so a Hand could Shadowskim to an area and then Shadowskin to another area that they couldn't see the exit or entrance of when they began their move). The distance a Hand can move in this way is identical to their base land speed (excluding any enhancements from magic items or class features) as they temporarily slip into the Plane of Shadows, run for a little time in it, and then slip back into their previous plane, though Shadowskimming in this way is not a separate action, but simply a part of the movement. In fact, a Hand could move part of their land speed, Shadowskim along more, and then emerge and finish their movement, however Shadowskimming follows the same rules as the rest of their movement in this regard. For example, if it was used as a part of a Charge then the Hand would still need to move in a straight line. A Hand can bring others along with them, provided that they physically carry them and since the distance they can travel using this ability is identical to how far they can travel physically, it is also affected by encumbrance, so carrying too heavy a load (including people) will reduce how far they can move.

As they gain levels the distance they can move while Shadowskimming increases. At 4th level this means that every 10ft that a Hand moves while Shadowskimming only uses up 5ft of their movement for that action, as well as the limit to their shadowskimming (which is based on their base land speed). This increases to 15ft for every 5ft at 7th level and finally 20ft for every 5ft at 10th level.


Maneuvers: At each even-numbered level a Hand in the Dark gains a new maneuver from the Devoted Spirit or Shadow Hand discipline. A Hand in the Dark must meet a maneuver's prerequisites to learn it and they add their full Hand in the Dark levels to their Initiator Level to determine their total Initiator Level and their Highest-Level Manuevers known.

At 3rd, 6th and 9th level they gain an additional maneuver readied per day.

Level 2
Sneak Attack: This is identical to the Rogue ability of the same name, dealing +1d6 damage at 2nd level which increases by an additional +1d6 every 3 levels thereafter to +2d6 at 5th level and +3d6 at 8th level.

Level 3
Hide in Plain Sight (Ex): At 3rd level, a Hand in the Dark can use the Hide skill even while being observed. As long as they are within 10 feet of some sort of shadow or physically inside (and completely immersed) in at least shadowy illumination, a Hand can hide themself from view in the open without having anything to actually hide behind. They cannot, however, hide in their own shadow.

Level 5
Stances: At 5th level a Hand in the Dark gains a new stance from the Devoted Spirit, or Shadow Hand discipline. A Hand in the Dark must meet a stance's prerequisite to learn it.

Shadowshift (Su): Starting from 5th level a Hand in the Dark learns how to travel greater distances using the Plane of Shadows at the expense of being disorientated upon their arrival and making them temporarily unable to Shadowskim. Moving in this way takes up a standard action (rather than being a part of movement) and requires that the Hand be within a shadow or an area of at least shadowy illumination and that they carry no more than a medium load, however it allows them to move 100ft + 20ft per class level. This ability otherwise follows the rules and limitations for Dimension Door although it remains a supernatural ability and the Hand can only take additional people if they physically carry them (in which case they must not bring their encumbrance above medium. After using this ability a Hand in the Dark must wait 1 minute before they can Shadowskin or use this ability again.

At 9th level a Hand in the Dark can instead shift to or from the Plane of Shadows as the Plane Shift spell as a standard action, although this otherwise follows the same rules as the above use of Shadowshift, including their disorientation on arrival and the inability to Shadowskim or Shadowshift for 1 minute.

Level 6
Unseen (Su): Starting from 6th level a Hand in the Dark learns how to shroud themselves from detection as per the Non-detection spell which they can suppress or resume as a free action once per round. Treat the Hand's caster level for this as being equal to their character level.

Level 10
Shroud (Su): At 10th level a Hand in the Dark is imbued with some of their God's power over darkness, allowing them to shroud themselves in complete darkness as he does, leaving all features but their silhouette and eyes unrecognisable (although it can be pierced by True Seeing and similar spells/abilities). When shrouded in this way a Hand in the Dark gains a sacred bonus on hide checks equal to their class level and immunity to critical hits and sneak attacks. Shrouding is a swift action, and can be ended as a free action, with a duration in rounds equal to their class level + their Wisdom bonus, although these rounds need not be continious.

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As always, any/all suggestions, questions or comments are welcome .

~MTWC
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Last edited by Makenshi; 05-21-2012 at 07:53 PM.
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Old 04-21-2012, 08:22 PM
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So I notice that you have Hide and Move Silently prerequisites for all three classes but none of them actually get hide or move silently as a class skill. Intentional?

Power level seems about good, allowing continuing maneuver progression is plenty strong.

I really like the Shadowskimming idea.
Here's how I would do it.
Instead of making it mimic spells make it a speed multiplier and distance based on class level.

At first there's no speed multiplier but eventually you can move 10 feet for every 5 feet of movement used when you are shadowskimming(x2), and then 15(x3), and then 20(x4). The maximum distance you can cover when shadowskimming can be 30ft+10 per class level.

If they can't see where they're going let them try to get there, if they run out of movement before they get to a spot where they can materialize (due to lack of shadows or being inside a solid object) have them snap back to where they started.

For Overland movement just say it works out to the same speed multiplier (due to the ability to ignore terrain) and leave it at that.
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Last edited by SpatulaOdoom; 04-21-2012 at 08:24 PM.
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Old 04-21-2012, 09:29 PM
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Fixed hide/move silently.

As for Shadowskimming, I like your idea however I'm not entirely sure what it is you're suggesting when you talk about the maximum distance they can cover. The whole idea for the 1st level version (which I really like) is that it's not got any daily/encounter limits to its use, being limited only by their own speed.

My only problem with it would be whether they'd need another ability or two to make up for it, since while it'd be more versatile than before it wouldn't be as powerful, nor allow them to fully shift planes as they could before.

~MTWC
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Last edited by Makenshi; 04-21-2012 at 09:30 PM.
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Old 04-27-2012, 04:26 PM
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Ok, in line with Spat's suggestion, I've replaced Shadowskimming entirely with the 1st level ability (with the distance steadily increasing as they grow in level), but I've also added in a 5th/9th level ability (Shadowshift) that gives them a limited ability to dimension door/plane shift almost at will (though with a cost). The reason I want them to have an ability like this is simply so that all three PrCs are technically capable of plane hopping, which would generally be required for guirilla warfare against Fiends .

~MTWC
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