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D&D 3E
Just playing around with prestige class design. I've tried to create… 
6th-Apr-2008 07:21 pm
Just playing around with prestige class design. I've tried to create prestige classes exactly twice before, so I'm not at all good with this stuff. Please let me know what you think?

The dwarf ancestor priest has chosen to honor the legions of dwarven dead, instead of the gods, and to call upon them for advice and strength in times of need. This act does not offend the deities; rather, they continue granting spells, honored that the cleric chooses to serve clan, gods and ancestors alike. Ancestor priests are frequently tied to a community but may roam occasionally in search of greater service to dwarvenkind. They are sworn foes of all necromantic magic, for they judge it truly evil to hinder any soul from joining the feast-halls of its fathers. As living connections to the ancestors, an ancestor priest must honor them daily and must exemplify proper dwarven virtues. Frequently their clothes reflect older, more conservative styles. In return for the priest's service, the ancestors offer up knowledge, and more - at the very apogee of the priest's power, he may call dwarven spirits to his aid in battle.

Hit Die: d8

Requirements: In order to become an ancestor priest, the character must fulfill the following;
Race: Dwarf
Skills: Knowledge (History) +6, Knowledge (Religion) +5
SpellS: Must be able to cast 2nd level Divine spells

Class Skills: The ancestor priest's class skills are Concentration, Craft, Diplomacy, Heal, Knowledge (religion), Knowledge (history), Knowledge (dungeoneering), Profession, Sense Motive, Spellcraft
Skill points at each level: 2 + Int modifier

Class Features: Ancestor priests gain no new weapon or armor proficiencies

Lvl BAB Fort Will Ref
1 +0 +2 +2 +0
2 +1 +3 +3 +0
3 +2 +3 +3 +1
4 +2 +4 +4 +1
5 +3 +4 +4 +1
6 +3 +5 +5 +2
7 +5 +5 +5 +2
8 +6 +6 +6 +2
9 +6 +6 +6 +3
10 +7 +7 +7 +3

Special abilities:

1 - Knowledge of the ancients, first ancestral ally
2 - +1 to existing spellcaster level, immunity to fear
3 - Wisdom of the ancients, Balm to the Accursed +1d6
4 - +1 to existing spellcaster level, Fortitute of the ancients
5 - Second ancestral ally, Craft of the ancients
6 - +1 to existing spellcaster level, Balm to the Accursed +2d6
7 - Craft of the ancients
8 - +1 to existing spellcaster level, Balm to the Accursed +3d6
9 - third ancestral ally
10 - +1 to existing spellcaster level, Call the spirits

Knowledge of the ancients - The character gains a permanent +3 to any single knowledge skill, as he may draw on his ancestral memory of prior events.
Immunity to fear - The character is immune to all forms of fear, for what is fear if death brings only unity with his mighty forebears?
Wisdom of the ancients - The character gains an extra domain of his choice, as he can draw on his ancestors' understanding of the domain.
Fortitude of the ancients - The character recalls ancestral experience of any single type of attack and gains a permanent +2 to any one saving throw.
Balm to the accursed - The character is particularly apt at returing dead - dwarven dead especially - to the grave so that their spirits may pass on to ancestral halls. Any successful turn attempt does extra damage.
Craft of the ancients - The character gains a bonus metamagic feat - reflecting knowledge offered by his ancestral contacts or prior lives.
Ancestral ally - at 1, 5, and 9th level the character is so in tune with specific dwarves of the past - often his own lineage and possible prior lives - that he may channel their spirits through his body, once per day. The ally has a level equal to the prestige class level plus charisma modifier and may belong to any class or combination of classes. This possession like effect lasts for one encounter or combat, and the priest may return to his normal persona at any time. Once chosen those allies do not change; they are particularly honored by the priest in his daily practice.
Call the spirits - at 10th level, the character gains the potent ability to summon a horde of dwarven ghosts - any number of dwarven spirits with total hit dice equal to his level plus charisma modifier, and which may not be turned or rebuked. For instance, a 10th level ancestor priest with a 16 charisma could call 13 1st level warrior ghosts as allies, or a combination of one 7th level, a 3rd level, and three 1st level warrior ghosts to aid in the fight. These immaterial allies will aid the priest in one combat - and it's combat they are there to help in. If the ancestor priest is slain or dismisses the spirits, they vanish.

It's assumed that any time an ally or the spirit horde ability is used, it is important to the wellbeing - even in the abstract sense - of dwarvenkind as a whole. The ancestors take a very dim view of being called away from their feasthalls for no particularly good reason.
7th-Apr-2008 04:36 pm (UTC)
I think it is a decent start. It is hard to say how balanced it is. That would take a little more digging and/or experimentation. A few comments and questions:
  • The PrCl is technically eligible after 3rd level. That is a bit low compared to the "normal" prestige class. I'm not sure the abilities granted are too powerful at those levels, but I wanted to point it out.

  • You might want to swap Will and Ref saves to be a little more standard.

  • Ancestral Ally - What exactly does the host gain and what is "overlaid" for the duration? Attributes? Spells? HP? Feats?

  • Call the Spirits - Make sure you say 1/day. You mention the duration, but not frequency.

  • Call the Spirits - Not sure about balance. Compare it against the equivalent Summon Monster. A straight caster could be as low as 14th level, therefore could use Summon Monster VII. This class would put them only at 8th level caster, so Summon Monster IV. Granted, it only lasts one encounter so might not be a problem.

  • Balm to the Accursed - You say "dwarven dead especially". Does that translate to a game mechanic or just flavor? I would leave it out, IMO. Why not goblins or giants or other dwarven foes? It might complicate things too much.
10th-Apr-2008 02:22 am (UTC)
All useful, thanks! I'll try and put it together with Thezahir's input below.
7th-Apr-2008 11:27 pm (UTC)
Call of the Spirits seems really powerful. Thanks to Horrific Appearance and Frightful Moan 13 Ghosts will make any fight completely trivial. Your other players may not like being useless in one fight a day.
9th-Apr-2008 12:22 am (UTC)
Every class has it's own "trump card"
If it's a tight situation, I'm sure the other players would be relieved.
9th-Apr-2008 08:37 am (UTC)
No other class has a trump card like this. I'm not joking when I say that Call the Spirits will win any fight, CR appropriate or otherwise. Also, there's nothing saying that it can only be used in a tight situation. In fact, unless you consciously start giving your players two tight situations per day, they will happily breeze through your campaign.

In fact, since it doesn't specify that Call the Spirits is a full-round action like most summoning spells, it will probably win any fight it's used in, on the same round that it's used. That's a pretty powerful ability.

This ability is much more powerful than, say, Summon Monster VII, which is what you'd get if you stayed straight Cleric until level 13. Actually, Call the Spirits would probably still be too powerful if it summoned ordinary Dwarves, instead of Dwarven ghosts. This is because it doesn't specify what class the Dwarves are. The ability to summon a 13th level Dwarven wizard for a combat 1/day is incredible, and that's heavily underestimating Charisma at that level. Going by the rough CR = spell level calculation that they use for Summon Monster spells, this ability is way into Epic.

Also, why specify they can't be turned? That's just the icing on the cake.
9th-Apr-2008 07:25 pm (UTC)
Eh, too powerful. But hey, that's why I posted right? I figure I can figure out a way to tone it down and fit the more typical schema by using ancestor-ghosts as a substitute for critters summoned by spell, just haven't figured out how to do that.
9th-Apr-2008 09:41 pm (UTC)
Take a look at the Dwarf Ancestor from the MMIV. That seems thematically appropriate.

10th-Apr-2008 02:23 am (UTC)
It's not quite summoning a spectral horde (I still like that idea)... but it's definitely a more modest and appropriate solution to giving a prestige class cool has-ancestors-fight-for-them powers! Thanks!
14th-Apr-2008 12:40 am (UTC)
Not like this. Ghosts are ridiculously powerful.
14th-Apr-2008 12:38 am (UTC)
I would say:
--When you say "dwarven dead especially," give that flavor text some mechanical meaning or drop it entirely. I see no "extra 1d6 versus dwarven skeletons."
--You need some real specific rules with regards to "possession." Look in the Book of Exalted Deeds for an example. Also, include the requirement that the ally needs to be chosen and statted out when the level-up occurs--no "Oh, we're at a locked door so I'll just whip up a 9th-level dwarf rogue ancestor" crap. (Or have you taken care of that already? "May belong to any class or any combination of classes" sounds really squishy to me. Rephrase, maybe?)
--Craft of the Ancients does NOT sound like metamagic to me, it sounds like item creation. Change the name of the feature or change the feat type.
--Call the Spirits should be mechanically similar to Summon Monster Whatever. 1 high-level dude, 1d3 medium-level dudes, or 1d6 low-level dudes. Stuff like that. A flat number is a little strange in D&D. Also, "unturnable/unrebukable" is a bit broken, it seems to me.

Your last caveat definitely needs teeth. Right now it's a little weak.

I like the flavor of this class! It just needs a little mechanical refining.
14th-Apr-2008 12:42 am (UTC)
Oh, also I like the idea of increasing the requirements so the PC has to be Level 5 instead of Level 3 before taking it. PrCs tend to be startable no earlier than 6th level, and I expect this is for a reason (though I don't know what that reason is). I wasn't a playtester.
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