Excerpts 10/07/2005


Heroes of Horror Excerpt
By James Wyatt, Ari Marmell, C.A. Suleiman



Add a frisson of fear to your game with Heroes of Horror. This supplement goes over the techniques of terror within D&D and can become a valuable resource to both DMs and players who prefer a more chilling side to their adventures. Heroes of Horror provides everything players and Dungeon Masters need to play and run a horror-oriented campaign or integrate elements of creepiness and tension into their existing campaigns. Players can develop heroes or antiheroes using new feats, new spells, new base classes and prestige classes, and new magic items. The book presents new mechanics for different types of horror, including rules for dread and tainted characters, as well as plenty of new horrific monsters and adventure seeds. Different types and genres of horror are discussed in detail. Our sneak peek gives you a look at villains, the archivist class, deformity feats, summon undead spells, and the cadaver golem.

Archivist

Anselmo Durod, archivist

"You can either sell me the cursed stele, or you can wait for its original owner to come for it. The choice is yours."

-- Anselmo Durod, proctor abbot of the Hallowed Doctrine

An archivist is a wielder of divine magic, similar to a cleric only in the type and nature of the magic at his command. Indeed, the archivist has more in common with the wizard than he does with the standard servant of the divine, due to the scholarly way in which he collects and maintains his spell selection. Archivists seek out esoteric sources of divine lore, wherever those sources might be, securing those secrets for themselves and their fellow scholars.

Making an Archivist

The archivist is a more academic profession than the cleric or paladin but hardier and more worldly than the average cloistered wizard. Due to the exploratory and often dangerous nature of their work, archivists develop techniques for safeguarding themselves and their allies from the foul taint that so often surrounds and accompanies the lost or forbidden lore they seek. Archivists are thus exceptional support characters, bolstering the efforts of those who aid them in their scholarly pursuits.

Abilities: The most important characteristic for an archivist is a keen Intelligence. That intellect must also be tempered with a high degree of Wisdom, due to the fine line the archivist must walk in studying evil without being corrupted by it. A strong Constitution is also highly prized for dealing with the rigors of the archivist's missions.

Races: Elves tend to make the best archivists, due both to their longevity and to their natural proclivity for magic. Humans and gnomes can be drawn to the class as well, often becoming the most ambitious of seekers. Dwarves make fine archivists but tend to view the entire profession as a little too morally gray for their liking. Halflings and half-orcs rarely take up the mantle of the archivist.

Alignment: Characters of any alignment can become archivists, but the class does require some measure of academic detachment. As a result, archivists of an ethically lawful bent are quite common.

Class Features

The archivist's class features all serve to further his overall purpose, which is to seek out mystical, divine lore from strange and forbidden sources, and to gain both understanding and mastery thereof.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Archivists are proficient with all simple weapons and with light and medium armor, but not with shields.

Spellcasting: An archivist casts divine spells, drawn primarily from the cleric spell list although he can eventually uncover, learn, and prepare noncleric divine spells spells. Unlike clerics, archivists prepare spells from a prayerbook, a collection of copied divine spells. To learn, prepare, or cast a spell, an archivist must have an Intelligence score equal to at least 10 + the spell level. The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against an archivist's spell is 10 + the spell level + the archivist's Int modifier.

Table 5-1: The Archivist Hit Die: d6

Class
Level
Base
Attack
Bonus
Fort
Save
Ref
Save
Will
Save
Special --Spellcasting--
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
1st +0 +2 +0 +2 Dark knowledge (tactics) 3/day, Scribe Scroll 3 2
2nd +1 +3 +0 +3 Lore mastery 4 3
3rd +1 +3 +1 +3 Dark knowledge 4/day 4 3 2
4th +2 +4 +1 +4 Still mind 4 4 3
5th +2 +4 +1 +4 Dark knowledge (puissance) 4 4 3 2
6th +3 +5 +2 +5 Dark knowledge 5/day 4 4 4 3
7th +3 +5 +2 +5 Lore mastery 4 5 4 3 2
8th +4 +6 +2 +6 Dark knowledge (foe) 4 5 4 4 3
9th +4 +6 +3 +6 Dark knowledge 6/day 4 5 5 4 3 2
10th +5 +7 +3 +7 Bonus feat 4 5 5 4 4 3
11th +5 +7 +3 +7 Dark knowledge (dread secret) 4 5 5 5 4 3 2
12th +6/+1 +8 +4 +8 Dark knowledge 7/day 4 5 5 5 4 4 3
13th +6/+1 +8 +4 +8 Lore mastery 4 5 5 5 5 4 3 2
14th +7/+2 +9 +4 +9 Dark knowledge (foreknowledge) 4 5 5 5 5 4 4 3
15th +7/+2 +9 +5 +9 Dark knowledge 8/day 4 5 5 5 5 5 4 3 2
16th +8/+3 +10 +5 +10 -- 4 5 5 5 5 5 4 4 3
17th +8/+3 +10 +5 +10 Lore mastery 4 5 5 5 5 5 5 4 3 2
18th +9/+4 +11 +6 +11 Dark knowledge 9/day 4 5 5 5 5 5 5 4 4 3
19th +9/+4 +11 +6 +11 -- 4 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 4 4
20th +10/+5 +12 +6 +12 Bonus feat 4 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5


Class Skills (4 + Int modifier per level):
Concentration, Craft, Decipher Script, Diplomacy, Gather Information, Heal, Knowledge (all skills, taken individually), Profession, Search, and Spellcraft.

Like other spellcasters, an archivist can cast only a certain number of spells of each level per day. His base daily allotment is given in Table 5-1: The Archivist. In addition, he receives bonus spells per day if he has a high Wisdom score (see Table 1-1 on page 8 of the Player's Handbook). He must choose and prepare his spells ahead of time by getting a good night's sleep and then spending 1 hour studying his prayerbook. The archivist decides which spells to prepare while studying.

Prayerbook: Unlike a cleric, an archivist does not receive his daily spell complement from whatever deity or cosmic force he worships. Rather, he must seek out and collect new spells much as a wizard does, but from such esoteric sources as holy tablets, ancient steles, or other magical scriptures. He cannot prepare any spell not recorded in his prayerbook except for read magic, which archivists can prepare from memory.

An archivist begins play with a prayerbook containing all 0-level cleric spells plus three 1st-level cleric spells of the player's choice. For each point of Intelligence bonus the archivist has, the prayerbook has an additional 1st-level cleric spell. At each new class level, the archivist gains two new cleric spells for his prayerbook; these can be of any spell level or levels that he can cast (based on his new archivist level). At any time, an archivist can also add spells found on scrolls containing divine spells to his prayerbook, but he must make any rolls and spend the time required (see Adding Spells to a Wizard's Spellbook on page 178 of the Player's Handbook). The archivist can learn and thus prepare nonclerical divine spells in this fashion but the two free spells he gains for advancing in class level must be selected from the cleric spell list.

Dark Knowledge: Three times per day, an archivist can draw upon his expansive knowledge of monsters, granting his allies benefits against the creatures they face. Doing this counts as a move action. The secrets of dark knowledge pertain only to aberrations, elementals, magical beasts, outsiders, or undead.

An archivist unlocks new dark knowledge abilities as his level increases and can also call upon his dark knowledge more often, gaining one additional daily use for every three archivist levels (4/day at 3rd level, 5/day at 6th level, and so forth).

Using dark knowledge requires a Knowledge check of a type appropriate to the creature faced. A Knowledge (arcana) check reveals secrets of magical beasts, Knowledge (dungeoneering) pertains to aberrations, Knowledge (religion) covers undead, and Knowledge (the planes) applies to outsiders and elementals. The DC of the check is 15. Most of the archivist's dark knowledge abilities increase in effectiveness if he succeeds on his Knowledge check by 10 or more. Dark knowledge can only be used once against any given creature.

The archivist's dark knowledge can affect a single creature or all creatures of the same race, depending on the effect used. A target creature must be within 60 feet, and the archivist must be aware of the creature's presence, although he need not have a line of sight to it. The effects of dark knowledge last for 1 minute, unless stated otherwise.

Tactics: The archivist knows the general combat behaviors of creatures of that race, granting his allies a +1 bonus on attack rolls made against them. For example, an archivist confronted by corruption eaters* who succeeded on his Knowledge (dungeoneering) check would grant his allies the attack bonus against all the corruption eaters they fought in that encounter. If the archivist succeeds on his Knowledge check by 10 or more, then this bonus increases to +2. If the archivist succeeds on his Knowledge check by 20 or more, then this bonus increases to +3.

*New monster described on page 144.

Puissance: Starting at 5th level, the archivist can use his dark knowledge to help his allies fight off the corrupting influence of other creatures. Allies within 60 feet of the archivist gain a +1 bonus on saving throws against the affected creature's abilities. If the archivist succeeds on his Knowledge check by 10 or more, this bonus increases to +2. If the archivist succeeds on his Knowledge check by 20 or more, this bonus increases to +3.

Foe: Starting at 8th level, an archivist can direct his allies to attack vital spots of his enemies. On a successful Knowledge check, he grants them a bonus to weapon damage rolls made against the target creatures equal to 1d6 points of damage. If the archivist succeeds on his Knowledge check by 10 or more, then this bonus increases to 2d6. If the archivist succeeds on his Knowledge check by 20 or more, then this bonus increases to 3d6.

Dread Secret: By speaking aloud a dread secret of the target creature, an archivist of 11th level or higher can dazzle a target creature for 1 round. Unlike other dark knowledge, this ability can be used only against a single creature. If the archivist succeeds on his Knowledge check by 10 or more, then the target is dazed for 1 round. If the archivist succeeds on his Knowledge check by 20 or more, then the target is stunned for 1 round (if the target is immune to being stunned but not immune to being dazed, such as most undead, then the archivist can choose to daze the target instead of stunning it).

Foreknowledge: Starting at 14th level, an archivist can better prepare his allies for the attacks of the affected creature, making it harder for the creature to land blows and successfully deal damage. Allies within 30 feet of the archivist gain a +1 insight bonus to Armor Class that applies to attacks by the affected creature only. If the archivist succeeds on his Knowledge check by 10 or more, this bonus increases to +2. If the archivist succeeds on his Knowledge check by 20 or more, this bonus increases to +3.

Scribe Scroll: Archivists gain Scribe Scroll as a bonus feat.

Lore Mastery: Upon reaching 2nd level, an archivist gains a +2 bonus on all Decipher Script checks and on all checks of any one Knowledge skill of his choice. Once this choice is made, it cannot be changed. At 7th, 13th, and 17th level, the archivist can choose an additional Knowledge skill on which to gain the +2 bonus.

Still Mind (Ex): Starting at 4th level, an archivist gains a +2 bonus on saving throws against spells and effects from the school of enchantment, due to his rigorous focus and intense mental discipline.

Bonus Feat: When an archivist reaches 10th level, and again at 20th level, he can select a free feat from the following list: Skill Focus (any Knowledge skill), Spell Focus, any metamagic feat, or any item creation feat.

Playing an Archivist

As an archivist, you travel in search of new and unusual magic of a divine nature. Since your understanding of magic revolves around the written word, you prize magical writings of any kind and will travel far to investigate a newly uncovered (or yet-to-be-discovered) holy scripture or mystical recitation. Generally speaking, you aren't quite as stuffy as the average wizard, given your breadth of experience and high Wisdom score, but neither are you a chest-thumping champion of the gods. The secrets you uncover are their own reward, and your confidence in yourself and in the job you do is more rewarding than the empty gratitude of some group or hierarchy.

Religion

While most archivists are religious, it is fundamentally their way to put more stock in the power of the divine than in the divine itself. Archivists exist for virtually every known deity. Some hunt down the secrets of ages past to exalt the greater glory of their deity, while others seek only to safeguard sacred lore from falling into the wrong hands. Still others see very little connection between their personal devotion and the work they do, aside from perceiving their continued success as evidence of their god's favor.

Other Classes

Archivists tend to fare well in the company of wizards, who appreciate the scholarly approach they take to magical study. By the same token, however, they have a mercurial relationship with standard clerics. Some priesthoods view archivists as an essential arm of their god's following, while others see them as little more than shameless thieves who seek to despoil or abuse sacred texts. Many druids look askance at their spells' being cast by those who do not follow druidic teachings. Archivists often travel in the company of bards or rogues (another mark against them in the eyes of some narrow-minded priests), who share their interest in old lore and the recovery of long-lost treasure.

Combat

Archivists are not especially potent front-line fighters and will often hang back with the wizards when combat arises. They are sturdier and usually better armored than their arcane counterparts, however, and boldly stride into combat when necessary (for example, when it means defending one who is weaker or easier to hit).

Archivists are especially effective in parties that contain other divine casters or bards. Given preparation time, an archivist can use his magic to bolster party members, including the clerics, so that when combat begins, the clerics can wade into battle with the fighters, leaving the archivists free to heal.

If PCs are likely to face foes who have secret weaknesses, there can be an enormous benefit in recruiting an archivist. An archivist can often provide information about a foe's weaknesses that spells the difference between failure and success against that adversary.

Advancement

It is often said that archivists are born, not made. Many who embrace this class do so out of a genuine thirst for learning, often accompanied by a reverence or admiration for divine power. Some people who end up walking the path of the archivist began as apprentice wizards or junior clerics but soon felt the call to seek hidden knowledge.

Many archivists are archivists for life; the more hidden lore they uncover, the more they feel they still have to learn. Others multiclass to complement their abilities, sometimes validating their pursuits in the eyes of a church hierarchy by taking levels in cleric or even paladin. Less frequently, an archivist's hunger for lore causes him to branch out into the arcane arts, splitting his studies between divine exploration and wizardry. The archivist is also an exceptionally versatile class for the purposes of prerequisites, acting as a natural gateway class for many prestige classes.

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