Hello, and welcome to Villain Week here at Necromancers of the Northwest. As is our wont in the middle of the month, we have released a new book, and will be using this week’s articles to get you excited about it and everything it can do for your game. The book in question, Insidious Intentions: The Book of Villainy, Volume I, is a collection of archetypes and alternate class features for a variety of character classes (this particular volume focuses on the alchemist, barbarian, rogue, summoner, and witch), all of which have a decidedly evil and villainous bent.
Whether you’re looking to finally play that evil campaign that your group has always been talking about but never gotten around to doing, or if you just want to have a few extra tricks up your sleeve for your next BBEG, this book has you covered. But don’t take my word for it. Why don’t I show you a couple of my favorite archetypes from the book’s ample list?
New Rogue Archetype
These shady figures specialize in a highly specific sort of larceny, where they burgle not goods, but people. In addition to being highly competent kidnappers, abduction artists are well practiced in the art of getting what they want out of their prizes. Many abduction artists are slavers, specializing in the exotic and difficult to acquire, while others sate their greed by ransoming their targets back to worried families—the worst of the lot do both: extorting money from loved ones while secretly preparing to sell their victims into slavery or worse. A very few abduction artists work for local governments to capture criminals, but even these tend to work for unscrupulous masters, and are more concerned with filling their torture chambers than they are with keeping the peace.
Bond Specialist (Ex): An abduction artist is exceptional at creating bindings and locks meant to hold humanoid creatures, which are nearly impossible to escape. Beginning at 1st level, she adds 1/2 her rogue level (minimum +1) to the DC to escape any bindings she creates using rope, as well as to the DCs to escape or disable any manacles or locks she crafts. Additionally, an abduction artist treats her base attack bonus as being equal to her rogue level for the purpose of determining her CMB for the purposes of beginning and maintaining a grapple, as well as for the purposes of the DC for Escape Artist checks made to escape any bindings she makes.
This ability replaces the trapfinding class feature.
Interrogation (Ex): An abduction artist often requires a great deal of information from her victims, and is adept at socially manipulating those in her clutches. Beginning at 3rd level, she gains a +1 competence bonus on all Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate, and Sense Motive skill checks made against a helpless, bound creature. At 6th level, and every 3 levels thereafter, this bonus increases by an additional +1, to a maximum of +6 at 18th level.
This ability replaces the trap sense class feature.
Applied Coercion (Ex): Experienced abduction artists often find that it doesn’t matter whether you catch more flies with honey than vinegar if the fly is already in your clutches, and that torture is an excellent means of convincing a victim to do what she asks. Beginning at 4th level, an abduction artist can torture a victim for 1 hour or more in an attempt to force him to perform a specific task for her. The victim must be helpless for the duration of the torture, and suffers 2d4 points of damage per hour of torture. When the torture is complete, the abduction artist makes a special Intimidate check, with a bonus on the check equal to the number of consecutive hours of torture performed (to a maximum bonus of +5). If the result of the check is greater than 10 + the victim’s Hit Dice + the victim’s Wisdom modifier, then the abduction artist can force the victim to perform a simple request for her.
The request in question must be no more than 50 words, but can otherwise include any actions that are not obviously suicidal. If the request is particularly dangerous, or something that the victim would not normally be willing to do, or has moral qualms about (such as asking a shy person to address a crowd or publicly embarrass himself, or asking a paladin to perform an evil act), the DC of the Intimidate check increases by +10. If the check is successful, the victim will faithfully attempt to follow the instructions for 1 hour, including returning to the abduction artist, if that is specified. After 1 hour, whether or not the task has been completed, the effects of the torture wear off, and the victim is free to act as he pleases.
If the abduction artist fails the Intimidate check, the victim can attempt to use Bluff to make her believe that he is willing to comply (she gains a +5 bonus on her opposed Sense Motive check). The abduction artist can attempt to retry the torture and make the same request again, but the DC for her Intimidate check increases by +2 for each previous consecutive failure on that victim (even if the attempts are for different requests). If the abduction artist fails the check on any given victim 5 consecutive times, that victim is forever immune to any attempt by that specific abduction artist to use this ability on him.
This ability replaces the uncanny dodge class feature.
Conditioning (Ex): Beginning at 8th level, an abduction artist often finds it in her best interests to undertake a long-term program of torture, deprivation, and positive reinforcement in order to force her victims to act in certain ways. This process takes several weeks, and the target must be helpless or imprisoned for the entire duration of the conditioning. Further, the abduction artist must spend at least 1 hour each day speaking with him, torturing him, or otherwise directly interacting with him.
At the end of each week of conditioning, the target must succeed on a Will save (DC 10 + 1 per previous week + the higher of the abduction artist’s Intelligence or Charisma modifiers), or succumb to the conditioning. For each hour of torture that the abduction artist inflicts during the week, the target suffers 2d4 points of damage, and must succeed on a Fortitude save (DC 10 + 1/2 the abduction artist’s rogue level + the higher of the abduction artist’s Intelligence or Charisma modifiers) or suffer a cumulative -1 penalty on the Will save made to resist the conditioning at the end of the week (to a maximum penalty of -5). If the target succeeds on the Fortitude save to resist the torture, he gains a +1 bonus, instead (again, to a maximum bonus of +5). If the victim succeeds on the Will save to resist conditioning for 10 consecutive weeks, he becomes permanently immune to conditioning attempts from this particular abduction artist.
If the conditioning is successful, it has a number of effects. The abduction artist can change the target’s alignment by up to 1 step on each alignment axis (changing a lawful good character to lawful neutral, neutral good, or true neutral, for example). Further, the abduction artist can cause the victim to be treated as though by a charm person spell, causing him to view her in the most favorable possible way. While this functions identically to the spell, it is not a magical effect, and cannot be dispelled or suppressed (although it can be overwritten or cured by magic that is powerful enough to do so). If desired, the abduction artist can also condition the victim to obey another specific individual, in which case the charm person effect is treated as though the caster were that person, instead of the abduction artist. In order to accomplish this, the other individual to be involved must be present for at least 2 days of the week-long conditioning session. At the GM’s discretion, this conditioning may be used to accomplish other things, such as changing the victim’s attitude towards certain races or organizations, forcing him to change deities, etc.
A character can be conditioned multiple times for greater effect (such as changing alignments more drastically). Doing so requires at least 1 week pass after the first set of conditioning before beginning the next. Characters that have already been successfully conditioned once suffer a -4 penalty on Will saves made to resist further conditioning.
This ability replaces the improved uncanny dodge class feature.
Not your style? Hoping for another sort of villainy? Fair enough. Why don’t I show you some of what the book has to offer for witches, then?
New Witch Archetype
An altar-bound witch does not have a traditional familiar, but rather communes with her patron through sacrificial rites. Though an altar-bound witch has less innate magical talent than her traditional counterparts, she makes up for it by committing sacrifices of blood to her patron, from which she derives significant power.
Spell-Stunted: An altar-bound witch does not automatically gain new spells known at each additional level. She begins the game with the normal number of spells at 1st level, but after that can only learn additional spells through her altarbond class feature.
Altarbond (Su): Beginning at 1st level, an altar-bound witch gains the ability to consecrate a table, rock, or similar solid, relatively flat surface to use as a special altar. This requires a short ritual that takes 10 minutes to perform, and allows the object to function as a special focus for a number of the altar-bound witch’s class features for 24 hours. An altar-bound witch must commune with her patron at an altar that she has prepared in this way each day in order to prepare her spells. The altar effectively serves as her familiar, and stores spells in the same fashion, although any altar that she consecrates in this way has access to all of the spells she has ever stored in any altar.
Additionally, she can use her altar to learn new spells. In order to learn a new spell, she may either burn a scroll upon her altar and pray to her patron to learn the spell’s secrets (a process that takes 1 minute), or she may make a sacrifice of a living sentient humanoid to her patron in order to unlock new magical knowledge. To perform such a sacrifice, she must use the coup de grace action on a living helpless humanoid that has been laid upon her altar. If the creature dies, the altar-bound witch may immediately learn a single spell of her choice from the witch spell list whose spell level is 1 or lower. For every additional 3 Hit Dice that the sacrificed creature possessed, the maximum spell level of the spell that she learns increases by 1 (2nd-level spells for a 4 Hit Dice creature, 3rd-level spells for a 7 Hit Dice creature, etc.). If the sacrificed creature is capable of casting spells, then the witch instead immediately learns all spells that the sacrificed creature knew that appear on the witch spell list at a spell level that the altar-bound witch is currently capable of casting, instead.
Regardless of the method of adding spells, the witch can only learn spells that appear on the witch spell list at a spell level that the altar-bound witch is capable of casting at the time the spell would be gained.
This ability replaces the familiar class feature.
Immobilizing Altar (Su): Beginning at 2nd level, whenever an altar-bound witch lays a creature on an altar she has consecrated with her altarbond class feature, that creature is magically bound to the altar as though with invisible chains. The target is treated as though bound with rope to the altar. The DC for Escape Artist checks made to escape is equal to 20 + the altar-bound witch’s witch level + the altar-bound witch’s Intelligence modifier. The DC for a Strength check made to burst the bonds is equal to 20 + the altar-bound witch’s Intelligence modifier. If the target is bound to the altar separately with mundane restraints, he must escape from both restraints separately, and the DC for both checks is increased by +2.
This ability replaces the hex gained at 2nd level.
Stone Table Initiate: At 6th level, the altar-bound witch gains the stone table sacrifice hex. Additionally, she can use this hex to cast spells that do not appear on the witch spell list, in addition to those that do. For the purpose of spells that do not appear on the witch spell list, the witch is treated as being able to cast 1st-level spells, and can only cast higher-level spells if the victim’s Hit Dice are sufficient (for example, while a 17th-level alter-bound witch could cast any with spell of 9th level or lower, in order to cast a non-witch spell of 2nd level, she would need to sacrifice a victim with at least 3 Hit Dice).
This ability replaces the hex gained at 6th level.
Improved Coup de Grace (Ex): Beginning at 8th level, an altar-bound witch is an expert at performing ritual sacrifices, and knows just how to kill a victim with one fell blow. Whenever the altar-bound witch uses the coup de grace action with a light or one-handed melee weapon, the saving throw DC to resist dying is equal to 10 + the altar-bound witch’s witch level + the altar-bound witch’s Intelligence modifier, or 10 + the damage dealt, whichever is higher.
This ability replaces the hex gained at 8th level.
Black Magic Initiate: At 10th level, the altar-bound witch gains the black magic sacrifice hex. Additionally, whenever she casts a spell using that hex, she uses the higher of her caster level or her victim’s caster level, and the spell’s saving throw DCs are calculated using the higher of either her primary spellcasting ability score modifier or her victim’s.
This ability replaces the hex gained at 10th level.
I suppose now you want to know what the stone table sacrifice and black magic sacrifice hexes are, too? Fair enough, fair enough. Feast your eyes.
Stone Table Sacrifice (Su): A witch with this hex can use a helpless victim to power her magic spells. In order to use this ability, the witch must lay a helpless, good-aligned humanoid upon an altar or table made from stone and use the coup de grace action on him. If the target dies as a result of the coup de grace, the witch may immediately cast any spell that appears on the witch spell list that she is capable of casting. Casting a spell in this way does not expend any of the witch’s spell slots, and she need not have prepared the spell in advance, or even know the spell. If the victim possessed 3 or more Hit Dice, then for every 3 Hit Dice that the victim possessed, the spell that the witch casts in this way can be one spell level higher than the witch is currently capable of casting (for example, if a 4th-level witch sacrificed a 6th-level fighter, she could cast a 4th-level witch spell, instead of a 2nd-level witch spell). Additionally, for every two Hit Dice that the victim possessed, the witch’s caster level is treated as 1 higher for the purposes of this spell.
Spells cast in this way require any normal material components and focuses, and have the same casting time as normal. If the spell has a casting time of 1 round or less, the witch can cast it as a free action made as part of performing the sacrifice. Otherwise, the sacrifice counts as the first round of casting the spell. Spells gained in this way cannot be “held” or “stored” for later use: if the spell is not cast immediately, it is wasted.
The witch can use this ability once per day. At 5th level, and every four levels thereafter, she can use this ability one additional time per day.
Black Magic Sacrifice (Su): A witch with this hex can bind a living victim who is capable of casting spells to an altar, and use him to power her spells. In order to use this hex, the witch must bind a helpless, living creature that is capable of casting spells to a stone altar or table, and then perform an hour-long ritual that allows her to draw upon the helpless victim’s magic. As long as the victim remains bound to the altar, the witch can cast witch spells that she knows without expending spell slots to do so. Whenever she casts a spell in this way, the victim suffers an amount of Constitution drain equal to the spell level of the spell that the witch cast. This Constitution drain cannot be healed by any means until a number of days equal to the witch’s Intelligence modifier have passed, after which it can be healed as normal for Constitution drain. Any effect that prevents the victim from suffering Constitution drain interferes with this effect, and causes the spell to fail. If the witch attempts to cast a spell in this way whose spell level is higher than the victim’s remaining Constitution score, the spell fails.
Hungry for more? Of course you are! You can never get enough villainy. But I’m afraid I have nothing else to preview today, so if you want to see what sorts of goodies we saved for the alchemist, barbarian, and summoner, not to mention all the other great options for rogues and witches, you’ll need to pick up a copy of the book for yourself, which you can do here.