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Corrupt Avenger

"I don't care what it does to me, I only care what I can do to them."

-- Shovan the Marked, a corrupt avenger

Shovan the Marked, Corrupt Avenger

Born to the sword, the corrupt avenger has experienced firsthand the devastation that violence can cause. He survived, but someone close to him was not so lucky. As a result, he has sworn vengeance against whoever or whatever caused his loss, whether it's a specific individual or every representative of a specific kind of monster. He accepts any cost to have his vengeance, even to the forfeit of his very soul. What does not kill him makes him stronger.

Read more about this prestige class.

Becoming a Corrupt Avenger

There are few requirements to becoming a corrupt avenger. The class presumes a martial background, but even a high-level wizard or sorcerer can qualify. The most significant requirement is a considerable degree of corruption -- enough that the character has already experienced the downward slide of moral and physical decay. By swearing an oath of vengeance and pursuing the course of the corrupt avenger, the character can begin turning this flaw to his advantage.

Entry Requirements

Alignment: Non-evil
Base attack bonus: +6
Taint: Moderate corruption

Table 5-3: The Corrupt Avenger Hit Die: d12

Level Base
Attack
Bonus
Fort
Save
Ref
Save
Will
Save
Special --Spellcasting--
1st 2nd 3rd 4th
1st +1 +2 +0 +0 Armored casting, detect sworn foe, sworn foe +2, taint suppression 0 -- -- --
2nd +2 +3 +0 +0 Tainted strike 1/day 1 -- -- --
3rd +3 +3 +1 +1 Grim resolve 1 0 -- --
4th +4 +4 +1 +1 Sworn foe +4 1 1 -- --
5th +5 +4 +1 +1 Frightful fury 1 1 0 --
6th +6 +5 +2 +2 Tainted strike 2/day 1 1 1 --
7th +7 +5 +2 +2 Sworn foe +6 2 1 1 0
8th +8 +6 +2 +2 -- 2 1 1 1
9th +9 +6 +3 +3 Unnerving fury 2 2 1 1
10th +10 +7 +3 +3 Sworn foe +8, tainted strike 3/day 2 2 2 1

Class Skills (2 + Int modifier per level): Bluff, Climb, Concentration, Diplomacy, Intimidate, Jump, Knowledge (local), Listen, Ride, Sense Motive, Spot, and Survival.

Class Features

Your thirst for vengeance drives you. Combined with your willing embrace of the taint you acquire in pursuit of your goal, it also powers your abilities, from the fury that fills you when you battle your foes to the spells you cast.

Spellcasting: You have the ability to cast a small number of arcane spells. To cast a corrupt avenger spell, you must have a corruption score equal to or greater than the spell's level. Bonus spells are based on a number equal to 10 + your corruption score, and saving throws against these spells have a DC of 10 + spell level + your Charisma modifier. When you get 0 spells per day of a given level, you gain only any bonus spells you would be entitled to based on your corruption score. You prepare and cast spells just as a wizard does; your spell list appears below. You can also prepare and cast corrupt spells (see page 125).

You record your corrupt avenger spells in a spellbook, just as a wizard does. At 1st level, your spellbook contains two 1st-level spells of your choice, selected from the corrupt avenger spell list on page 90. At each new corrupt avenger level, you gain two new spells of any spell level or levels that you can cast (based on your new corrupt avenger level) for your spellbook. At any time, you can also add spells found in other corrupt avengers' spellbooks to your own, and you can also add spells from another character's spellbook (such as a wizard's or a wu jen's book) to your own as long as those spells appear on your class spell list.

Armored Casting: Because the somatic components required for corrupt avenger spells are simple, you can cast corrupt avenger spells while wearing light armor without incurring the normal arcane spell failure chance. However, wearing medium or heavy armor, or using a shield, imposes the normal chance of spell failure if the spell in question has a somatic component (most do). Wearing even light armor still imposes the normal arcane spell failure chance for arcane spells derived from other classes.

Detect Sworn Foe (Sp): You have the spell-like ability to detect the presence of your sworn foe. This ability is similar to the detect evil spell (see page 218 of the Player's Handbook) in range, area, and duration. In the first round of concentration, you can ascertain the presence of a sworn foe within the area. In the second round, you can determine the number of foes in the area and the power of the strongest one (as per the detect evil spell). In the third round, you can determine the strength and location of each foe.

Sworn Foe (Ex): At 1st level, you must choose a specific kind of monster or an organization as your sworn foe. This cannot be a broad category such as aberrations but must be a single creature type, like bugbears. You gain a +2 bonus on Bluff, Listen, Sense Motive, Spot, and Survival checks relating to your sworn foe. This bonus increases to +4 at 4th level, to +6 at 7th level, and to +8 at 10th level. Unlike a ranger's attack against a favored enemy, you do not gain a bonus on damage rolls against your sworn foe.

Instead, whenever you face your sworn foe in combat, you enter a ragelike fury. You gain a +2 bonus to your Strength and Constitution scores. This fury lasts for a number of rounds equal to your corruption score, or until none of your sworn foes remain within sight (or within 60 feet if they are invisible or otherwise hidden from your sight). At the conclusion of your fury, you must make a Fortitude save with a DC equal to 15 + 1 per round that you were in your frenzy. If you fail this save, your corruption score increases by 1.

Taint Suppression: While you are likely to accumulate high corruption and depravity scores over the course of your career, this taint is not immediately obvious to onlookers. Your depravity manifests in the normal range of mental symptoms, but you can replace any physical symptom of corruption with the internal corruption symptom. If you enter a tainted area, your corruption immediately manifests externally, and you regain the physical symptoms you exchanged for internal corruption. These physical symptoms disappear 1d4 days after you leave a tainted area. It is otherwise impossible to tell, based on your external appearance, that you carry corruption.

Tainted Strike (Ex): Beginning at 2nd level, you can infuse a melee attack with the power of your taint, adding 1/2 your class level to the damage you deal with the attack. If you strike a creature immune to the effects of taint (such as an undead creature or a creature with the evil subtype), the tainted strike has no effect.

You can use this ability once per day at 2nd level, twice per day at 6th level, and three times per day at 10th level.

Grim Resolve (Ex): Starting at 3rd level, you gain a bonus equal to your Charisma bonus (if any) on all saving throws. This benefit does not stack with other effects that allow you to add your Charisma bonus to saves (such as divine grace).

Frightful Fury (Ex): Beginning at 5th level, when you face your sworn foe and enter your fury, all opponents within 30 feet of you must succeed on a Will save (DC 10 + your corrupt avenger level + your Cha modifier) or become shaken, taking a -2 penalty on attack rolls, saving throws, skill checks, and ability checks.

Unnerving Fury (Ex): When you reach 9th level, your fury becomes even more fearsome. Opponents within 30 feet of you who fail a Will save (DC 10 + your corrupt avenger level + your Cha modifier) become unnerved, taking a -4 penalty on attack rolls, saving throws, skill checks, and ability checks.

Fallen Paladins

All too often in a horror campaign, paladins become so obsessed with their crusade against a particular evil foe that they lose their good alignment. Perhaps fortunately for them, they can retain some of their powers or replace them with similar abilities by becoming corrupt avengers. A fallen paladin who becomes a corrupt avenger gains all the following abilities that apply, according to the number of paladin levels the character has.

1-2: Tainted strike 1/day. (This use is in addition to, and stacks with, the ability granted to all corrupt avengers at 2nd level.)

3-4: Lay on hands. Once per day, you can use this supernatural ability to cure yourself of damage equal to one-half your corruption score + your combined corrupt avenger and paladin levels.

5-6: You gain an additional bonus use of tainted strike. In addition, your sworn foe bonus increases by +2. These bonuses stack with bonuses bestowed by corrupt avenger class levels.

7-8: Bonus tainted feat. Choose any tainted feat from the Feats section starting on page 119. You must meet the prerequisites for this feat.

9-10: Death knell. Whenever you use a coup de grace to kill a living creature, you gain the benefit of the death knell spell (see page 217 of the Player's Handbook). In addition, you gain an additional bonus use of tainted strike per day.

Corrupt Avenger Spell List

The corrupt avenger's spell list appears below.

1st Level: Cause fear, detect magic, detect poison, detect taint*, detect undead, doom, endure elements, magic weapon, read magic, resistance

2nd Level:Bear's endurance, bull's strength, darkness, death knell, false life, resist energy, scare, shatter, summon swarm, undetectable alignment, vampiric touch

3rd Level:Bestow curse, deeper darkness, discern lies, dispel magic, fear, greater magic weapon, haste, protection from energy, remove curse, slow, speak with dead

4th Level:Cloak of hate*, crushing despair, death ward, enervation, Evard's black tentacles, freedom of movement, phantasmal killer, pronouncement of fate* *New spell (see Dread Magic, starting page 125)

Playing a Corrupt Avenger

A single-minded dedication to exterminating your sworn foe defines your actions and reactions, consumes your thoughts, and haunts your restless sleep. Most corrupt avengers are grim and dour, but a few manage to keep up a facade of joviality, laughing and drinking in apparent merriment as their calculating eyes remain ever watchful for signs of their enemies.

Combat

Particularly when facing your sworn foe, in melee is where you want to be, fighting in a state of fury and making tainted strikes. Your superior (d12) Hit Dice, as well as the Constitution bonus you gain in your fury, help to make up for the relatively low AC you have when limiting yourself to light armor.

Against opponents other than your sworn foes, or when the situation calls for some discretion, you prefer to hang back and soften up your enemies with spells, at least at first. Fear-related spells (cause fear, doom, scare, and so on) can help disperse large groups of opponents, while personal improvement spells (bull's strength, bear's endurance, false life, haste, and others) can be worth the investment in time to improve your performance when you enter melee.

By the time you reach the highest levels of the class, your spells can sometimes kill opponents safely from a distance (phantasmal killer), you can perform multiple tainted strikes, and you can seriously hinder your sworn foes merely by entering melee, thanks to your unnerving fury.

Advancement

Becoming a corrupt avenger is a fairly straightforward process, with few requirements that involve any decisions on your part. If you have a high enough base attack bonus, the key requirement is simply allowing your corruption to build up to the moderate level without taking steps to remove it. Think of this process as letting the anger and grief you feel fester within you, taking a physical toll on your body as it drives you to acts of greater and greater desperation.

As you advance in levels, your grief and rage continue to burn, but you have found a way to channel them into the external world, so that your corruption no longer warps and deforms your body. Instead, it smites your enemies, manifests itself in debilitating magic, and strikes terror into the hearts of those around you.

Choosing your sworn foe should ideally be a story-driven concern, based on events in your past -- either your previous adventures or your background before you began play. That said, it's important to choose a sworn foe that you are likely to continue fighting over the course of ten levels in this class and beyond. Don't be afraid to discuss this point with your DM beforehand. Choosing black puddings might make a great deal of sense from a character perspective, but unless your DM is running a very unusual campaign, black puddings are unlikely to be a worthwhile sworn foe over the long term of your character's development. Monsters that commonly advance by character class are often a good choice, because they are more likely to make appearances over a long period of time and remain important challenges over the entirety of your career.

Resources

You provide for yourself. You don't need help from anyone, and wouldn't accept it if they offered it -- which they won't. You always seem to find what you need, or take it if you have to. Other corrupt avengers don't feel any responsibility to you, nor you to them. You're on your own.

The entry continues, providing information about corrupt avengers in the world (Organizations & NPC reactions), corrupt avenger lore, corrupt avengers in the game (advice for incorporating them in your game, adapting the prestige class to your campaign, and sample encounters). The information on corrupt avengers concludes with not one, but two NPCs built and ready to go.

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