Excerpts 11/06/2006


Dragonmarked Excerpt
By Keith Baker, Michelle Lyons and C.A. Suleiman



Learn more about dragonmarks and those marked by them in Dragonmarked, an accessory for the Eberron campaign setting. Within this book you'll find prestige classes, feats, items, and further information detailing the various houses, among other useful topics. To get a taste of what's in store for you, take a look at these excerpts, which include information about House Cannith, the silver key prestige class, new feats, and several items. If you're curious about the topics covered in this book, please peruse the Table of Contents we provided earlier!

Silver Key

Batwigg the Vole, a silver key

" 'Impenetrable,' eh? If I had me a fistful of silver for every time I heard that before . . . "
-- Batwigg the Vole, silver key

House Kundarak is known across Khorvaire for its command of the Mark of Warding. Merchants and nobles gladly pay large sums for Kundarak security, but few ever meet the quiet experts behind that security. This elite house branch is called the Keyguard, and its members are the silver keys. As well as designing defenses, a silver key's primary job is to test them -- intentionally trying to bypass guards, wards, and locks (House Kundarak's or otherwise) at the request of those whose valuables are secured behind them.

BECOMING A SILVER KEY

A silver key is a master of stealth and security, and an expert at getting into and out of tight places. Only a dwarf with support from the house can ever become a silver key, and though the path is best suited to rogues, any dedicated character who meets the requirements can receive the needed training.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

Race: Dwarf.

Skills: Disable Device 4 ranks, Hide 4 ranks, Knowledge (architecture and engineering) 4 ranks, Open Lock 4 ranks.

Feats: Dodge.

Special: Must be a member of House Kundarak.

Special: Trap sense +1.

THE SILVER KEY HIT DIE: d6

Level Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Special
1st +0 +0 +2 +2 Armored abjuration, heir's mark, trap master +1, warder's keys, wardsense
2nd +1 +0 +3 +3 Crafty hands
3rd +2 +1 +3 +3 Invisibility
4th +3 +1 +4 +4 Trap master +2
5th +3 +1 +4 +4 Sly soul
6th +4 +2 +5 +5 Cunning body
7th +5 +2 +5 +5 Trap master +3
8th +6 +2 +6 +6 Slippery mind
9th +6 +3 +7 +6 Veiled spirit
10th +7 +3 +7 +7 Master of doors, trap master +4

Class Skills (6 + Int modifier per level): Balance, Bluff, Climb, Concentration, Craft (trapmaking), Decipher Script, Disable Device, Disguise, Escape Artist, Forgery, Gather Information, Hide, Knowledge (arcana), Knowledge (architecture and engineering), Listen, Move Silently, Open Lock, Search, Sense Motive, Sleight of Hand, Spellcraft, Spot, Tumble, and Use Magic Device.

CLASS FEATURES

Silver keys gain class abilities focused on stealth, self-sufficiency, and the ability to foil the best security money can buy. A silver key is not trained in the use of spells and needs no dragonmark to perform his duties. However, he is familiar with how magic is used in security protocols, and is able to eventually overcome its effects.

Armored Abjuration: Silver keys who are also arcane spellcasters can cast spells of the abjuration school while wearing light armor without incurring the normal chance for arcane spell failure. Like other arcane spellcasters, however, a silver key wearing medium or heavy armor or using a shield incurs a chance of arcane spell failure if the spell in question has a somatic component.

Heir's Mark: Levels in the silver key prestige class count as levels in the dragonmark heir prestige class when determining the caster level for the spell-like abilities of your dragonmark (if any). You can have a maximum of five effective levels in dragonmark heir for the purpose of determining the caster level of your dragonmark.

Trap Master (Ex): You gain a +1 insight bonus on Disable Device, Search, and Spellcraft checks, but only when pertaining specifically to traps, wards, and other security measures. This bonus rises by +1 every three levels thereafter (so +2 at 4th, +3 at 7th, and +4 at 10th).

Warder's Keys: As you take your first steps along the silver key path, you receive a special set of tools known as warder's keys. This masterwork set of picks, pry bars, hand hammers, hooks, saws, and skeleton keys is fashioned of a silver alloy refined so as to maintain its purity and hardness. The tools are held in a special lead-lined pouch designed to be strapped to the body beneath a tunic or cloak. Your warder's keys are thus almost impossible to either detect or remove. A set of warder's keys provides a +2 circumstance bonus on Craft (trapmaking), Disable Device, and Open Lock checks, and on Search checks made to find traps. Warder's keys also provide a +2 competence bonus on Open Lock checks and Disable Device checks (which stacks with the +2 circumstance bonus).

An undamaged set of warder's keys is worth 1,000 gp, but silver keys are forbidden from selling them and losing a set is cause for disgrace. House Kundarak makes operatives purchase their second and subsequent sets of warder's keys at a cost of 1,200 gp. A silver key working within the house who chooses to go without a set of warder's keys can expect to receive precious few assignments.

Wardsense (Ex): You can use the Search skill to locate traps with a DC higher than 20, and you can use Disable Device to bypass a trap or disarm magic traps. (See the trapfinding rogue class feature, PH 50.) If you already have the trapfinding ability, you instead gain a +2 bonus on Disable Device, Search, and Spellcraft checks involving traps.

Your wardsense also allows you to use the Spellcraft skill to identify magic traps and wards within 60 feet as if you had cast detect magic or read magic. The DC of the Spellcraft check is increased by 2 over what it would be when using the appropriate spell.

For example, you can use Spellcraft to identify a glyph of warding or symbol without first casting read magic, but at DCs of 15 and 21 instead of 13 and 19, respectively. You can also discern the school of magic in a magic trap or ward without first casting detect magic, at a DC of 17 + spell level.

Wardsense does not grant you the ability to automatically detect magic traps or wards. You cannot use this ability for any purpose other than identifying magic traps and wards.

Crafty Hands (Su): At 2nd level, you develop the ability to manipulate mechanical devices with your mind, allowing you to make Open Lock and Disable Device checks at a distance of up to 60 feet. Activating this ability is a move action, after which you make the appropriate check as normal. You can move and manipulate objects weighing up to 5 pounds (including your warder's keys), allowing you to use any bonuses that such objects add to your checks. However, you cannot manipulate those objects in any other way (such as hurling them at a foe).

If you are distracted while making an Open Lock or Disable Device check at a distance, you must make a Concentration check as normal. On a failed check, you must use another move action to reactivate this ability.

Invisibility (Sp): At 3rd level, you learn how to turn invisible as the invisibility spell; once/day; caster level equals character level.

If you possess a Mark of Warding, you can expend one use of any of your dragonmark powers to gain an additional use of this ability.

Sly Soul (Ex): Upon reaching 5th level, a permanent strengthening of your spirit grants you spell resistance 15 + silver key level.

Cunning Body (Su): By 6th level, a silver key's form has developed the ability to adapt to a number of dangerous environments:

  • If submerged in liquid, you automatically activate a water breathing effect.
  • If you fall more than 5 feet, you automatically activate a feather fall effect.
  • If you are paralyzed, you automatically activate a remove paralysis effect.

You cannot extend the benefit of this ability to any other creature, nor can you voluntarily activate these effects except under the stated conditions. Each effect can be invoked once per day. Your caster level for these effects is equal to your silver key level.

If you possess a lesser or greater Mark of Warding, you gain one additional use of any of these effects by expending one use of a lesser or greater dragonmark power as an immediate action.

Slippery Mind (Ex): Upon reaching 8th level, if you fail a save against a mind-affecting effect, you can attempt the save again 1 round later at the same DC. If this second save also fails and you possess a greater Mark of Warding, you can make a third saving throw 1 round later by expending one use of a greater dragonmark power.

Veiled Spirit (Su): At 9th level, you gain a +2 bonus on all Hide checks, and become highly resistant to attempts to espy you or divine your location through scrying or other magical means. You gain a +4 bonus on Will saves made to resist divination effects.

Master of Doors (Su): At 10th level, you have reached the pinnacle of a silver key's prowess, this potent ability allows you to make use of any magic door or portal you come across as though you had the specific ability to do so. In particular, you can bypass arcane lock spells as though you yourself had cast them, ignore glyphs of warding as though you knew the password (even glyphs that have no password), and bypass the magic of a hold portal as though you could cast knock at will.

Your power even extends to portals created or maintained by magic. You can follow another character through a phase door, and can enter a Mordenkainen's magnificent mansion, a dragonmark demesne (see page 149), and similar structures regardless of whether the caster designated you as one of the creatures able to enter. This ability does not confer any advantage when dealing with mundane locks or doors.

PLAYING A SILVER KEY

You might know a few martial tricks from before you joined the keys, but the majority of your learning since then has centered on how to avoid danger, not tackle it head on. You are largely self-sufficient (at least while carrying out a job). When you do surround yourself with allies, you appreciate the help they offer but can easily grow weary of their inability to keep up with you. Before the end of the Last War, most silver keys stayed in the service of House Kundarak their whole lives. With the advent of the new age of exploration, many keys take their leave of the house to embark on adventuring careers, and whether you remain a Kundarak agent or go independent, you know the house will respect your choice. In the end, new recruits for the keys can always be found, and rumors of a group of elite break-and-enter specialists spreading across Khorvaire makes an effective selling tool for Kundarak security.

Combat

Your strengths are stealth and security expertise, and using those strengths to avoid potentially lethal situations is your specialty. When melee becomes inescapable, you rely on your cunning and your good saving throws. If all else fails, do not hesitate to use your skills to abandon the fight entirely. After all, a clean getaway always promises another chance to test yourself.

Advancement

Only loyal dwarves of House Kundarak are ever inducted into the ranks of the silver keys, but deep involvement in house affairs is optional. Any house heir who has proven himself capable and loyal stands a good chance of being accepted. Much of the business the house receives goes out to the keys, since even magical warding operations are typically undertaken after a key has done the preliminary mechanical work.

As a silver key, you undergo permanent supernatural alterations to your mind, spirit, and body. As such, the path is neither quick nor easy. When you gain levels, try to focus on the primary tools of your trade: Craft (trapmaking), Disable Device, Hide, Knowledge (architecture and engineering), Open Lock, Search, and Spellcraft. Focus your feat selections in ways that increase either your Armor Class or mobility, or that improve your class skills even further.

Resources

All silver keys have the resources of House Kundarak at their disposal as described on page 42, but the house prefers to see keys operating with some measure of self-sufficiency. As such, the house frowns upon being asked for assistance once a job is assigned.

In the rare cases when Kundarak sends a key on a specifically illegal mission, the house has a policy of publicly disavowing all knowledge of his activities if he is caught. Since all keys know this, they are always prepared to be cut loose at the worst possible moment. This tends to make keys even more determined to excel at what they do.

SILVER KEYS IN THE WORLD

"The locks and wards are still intact, lord. The sentries were in place and heard no sound, but the scriptorium has been breached all the same."

-- Eladria d'Thuranni, ex-chamberlain of the Thuranni enclave in Regalport

Integrating the silver keys into a campaign is easily done. House Kundarak has operations, allies, or both in almost every civilized part of Khorvaire, and expands further with each passing year. Nearly any member of House Kundarak could be a key. Some keys possess dragonmarks, but many do not. Typically, the keys go where the action is, and all Khorvaire's urban centers feature a smoothly running network whereby the house can accept jobs and have keys out in the field as quickly as the next day. The more active an area, the more keys can work it, and places such as Sharn and Wroat are goldmines for keys who are good at what they do.

Organization

The silver keys exist apart from House Kundarak hierarchy, but ultimately mirror it. Given the nature of their work, keys who bear the Mark of Warding hold special status. As a result, high-profile assignments are often handed out to those with dragonmarks, though these are not necessarily the most lucrative jobs.

Within the keys, this status quo is accepted with grace. Silver keys without dragonmarks enjoy greater respect within the house than other unmarked heirs, and in many cases are happy to avoid the Kundarak politics that often ensnare the dragonmarked. In general, silver keys do not compete against one another, and there is always more demand for their services than can be met.

NPC Reactions

Political and financial allies of House Kundarak greet silver keys warmly, starting with a friendly attitude. Enemies and house rivals are initially unfriendly. Since few others know of the silver keys or what they do, individual keys receive the same reaction as any other Kundarak heir of the same level and status.

SILVER KEY LORE

Characters with ranks in Knowledge (architecture and engineering) or Knowledge (nobility and royalty) can research the silver keys to learn more about them. When a character succeeds on a skill check, the following lore is revealed, including the information from lower DCs.

DC 10: House Kundarak's security experts design and build wards, traps, and vaults, but claim the house sells no protection that it doesn't also know how to defeat.

DC 15: The silver keys are masters at getting into and out of even the most secure facilities. Kundarak uses them to test house security and the security they sell to others, improving it by determining how it can be broken.

DC 20: Silver keys are not strictly tied to the house hierarchy, so many silver keys become independent at some point. Their skills at passing doors and traps are impressive, and they are said to be invisible to magical scrutiny as well.

DC 30: Characters who achieve this level of success can learn important details about specific silver keys in your campaign, including the areas where they operate and the kinds of activities they undertake.

SILVER KEYS IN THE GAME

The silver keys can be easily worked into an ongoing campaign, typically by revealing that an existing Kundarak NPC has secret ties to the Keyguard of the house. Alternatively, PCs could be introduced to the silver keys when developing ties with House Kundarak for the first time.

A player who enjoys stealthy characters or skill-heavy builds might be drawn to play a silver key. Although their default purpose is to help test and improve security protocols, independent keys have become spies, scouts, and diplomats. On the other hand, an excoriate silver key could be the head of a thieves' guild, training new keys to undermine House Kundarak's security business.

Adaptation

Though the silver keys are a branch of House Kundarak, associating them with a different mercantile organization, a thieves' guild, or even a law enforcement agency makes it possible to use the class in almost any game. Alternatively, the keys might be associated with a cult or religious sect that reveres a god of stealth or rogues. In this case, tailor the flavor of the class's abilities to reflect characters' growing bonds with their patron deity.

Because this class has no dragonmark prerequisite, it can easily be modified to admit characters of other races. On the other hand, adding a dragonmark prerequisite makes it more exclusive, and ties the class's abilities to the powers of the Mark of Warding.

Sample Encounter

Often, characters who meet a silver key never realize it. PCs who encounter a key in the course of his duties might have been hired as security for a facility or stronghold the key is "testing." Alternatively, the PCs might meet a silver key in a social setting, perhaps a function hosted by House Kundarak.

EL 9: Though many keys are genuine Kundarak nobility, trained for years by the house, the dwarf known as "The Vole" is an exception. Batwigg's talents as a thief were on the verge of earning him a one-way trip to the prison of the Citadel in Sharn when the house quietly snatched him up, setting him on the path to becoming a silver key. The PCs can encounter him in any location where his presence is unexpected, at which point he attempts to flee. If cornered, the Vole reverts to his street instincts and defends himself with almost animal savagery.

BATWIGG THE VOLE CR 9
Male dwarf rogue 6/silver key 3
N Medium humanoid
Init +7; Senses darkvision 60 ft., Listen +2, Spot +2
Languages Common, Dwarven, Undercommon

AC 18, touch 13, flat-footed 15; Dodge, uncanny dodge, +2 against traps, +4 against giants
(+3 Dex, +5 armor)
hp 52 (9 HD)
Resist evasion, stability (+4 against bull rush and trip)
Fort +5 (+7 against poison), Ref +11 (+13 against traps), Will +7; +2 on saves against spells and spell-like effects
Speed 20 ft. (4 squares)

Melee +1 dagger +10/+5 (1d4+1/19-20)
Ranged light crossbow +9/+4 (1d8/19-20)
Base Atk +6; Grp +6
Atk Options sneak attack +3d6, +1 on attacks against orcs and goblinoids
Spell-Like Abilities:
1/day -- invisibility (CL 9th), misdirection (DC 11, CL 4th)

Abilities Str 10, Dex 17, Con 14, Int 13, Wis 14, Cha 8
SQ crafty hands, stonecunning (PH 15), trapfinding, wardsense
Feats Dodge, Improved Initiative, Least Dragonmark (Mark of Warding), Weapon Finesse
Skills Appraise +1 (+3 metal or stone), Balance +15, Climb +12, Craft (trapmaking) +13 (+15 metal or stone), Disable Device +13 (+16 traps), Escape Artist +11, Hide +7, Knowledge (architecture and engineering) +13, Listen +2, Open Lock +15, Search +15 (+17 secret doors, +18 traps), Spellcraft +7 (+10 traps), Spot +2, Use Rope +3 (+5 involving bindings)
Possessions +2 studded leather, light crossbow with 20 bolts, +1 dagger, gloves of Dexterity +2, Heward's handy haversack, warder's keys

Hook Batwigg rarely speaks, and his nose twitches noticeably when others actively observe him.

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