The Complete Bard's Handbook was one of the most popular class option books for AD&D 2nd Edition. I found the demihuman options particularly compelling at a time when I didn't really like to play anything other than humans. So, I'm going to harken back to those days with my next two columns, bringing back a couple of my favorite bard kits and converting them into prestige classes for the latest edition of the game.
I'd love to get some feedback on these updates, as well as suggestions for kits, classes, and prestige classes from earlier editions of the game that you'd like to see me take on for an update. So head on over to the forums, or just shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'll see if I can get your requests taken care of!
A halfling whistler is a special member of his community, devoted to his faith as well as his people. It is said that Yondalla herself visits a chosen halfling and asks him to take on this important role. The whistler is an advisor to the community, acting as an arbitrator for minor disputes and an agricultural expert for the community's farms.
Although they act as caretakers for their communities, whistlers are often compelled to leave them for a time to gain experience and satisfy their natural curiosity. This is seen as a natural part of a halfling's development, and is not looked upon negatively by the community or by Yondalla, as long as the halfling remains faithful and connected to his people.
Becoming a Halfling Whistler
Entry Requirements: halfling; Handle Animal 4 ranks, Knowledge (nature) 8 ranks, Perform 4 ranks (whistling), Survival 4 ranks; the character must have a trained animal that chatters, such as a ferret, songbird, or squirrel (this need not be an animal companion, but can be); must worship Yondalla.
Hit Die: d6.
Class Skills (6 + Int modifier per level): Balance, Climb, Concentration, Craft, Diplomacy, Escape Artist, Handle Animal, Hide, Jump, Knowledge (geography), Knowledge (local), Knowledge (nature), Listen, Move Silently, Perform, Profession, Sense Motive, Speak Language, Spellcraft, and Survival.
As they advance in level, halfling whistlers grow closer to the natural world, and their control over its forces becomes the stuff of legend.
Spellcasting: At each level, a whistler gains new spells per day and spells known (if applicable) as if he had also gained a level in a spellcasting class to which he belonged before adding the prestige class level. He does not, however, gain any other benefit a character of that class would have gained. If he had more than one spellcasting class before becoming a whistler, he must decide which class to add each level for the purpose of determining spells per day and spells known.
Chattering (Ex): At 1st level, the whistler gains the ability to "chatter." This allows him to communicate with other chattering animals such as ferrets, songbirds, and squirrels. Other whistlers can also understand and respond to this chattering. Chattering cannot be used to communicate complex, subtle, or specific information. For instance, a whistler could ask a squirrel if any large creatures had been through here recently, but could not find out if it was a specific band of giants.
Stormwhistle (Sp): The phrase "whistling up a storm" is thought to have originated when an adventurer came across a halfling standing in the middle of a dry field. Curiously, the halfling was strolling about the field with his hands in his pockets while whistling an unfamiliar tune. After watching for several minutes, the adventurer felt drops of rain fall on his cheek, where before the sky had been clear. Soon a light rainstorm was pelting the field, and the halfling moved down the road with a smile upon his face.
Whistlers learn to "help along" their village's crops with their cheery tunes, and the most powerful can also call down the full fury of nature onto their enemies. A whistler can use the listed spell-like abilities once per day when they reach the appropriate level. Caster level is equal to the whistler's character level.
Tree Fighter (Ex): Whistlers learn to live and fight in the trees as a way to mitigate their small size. They gain a +2 bonus on Climb checks and suffer no penalties for fighting while climbing or in trees.
Whistling Messenger (Sp): At 2nd level, the whistler is able to whistle a message upon the wind. This functions exactly like a message spell, but it can only be used outdoors.
Speak With Plants (Sp): At 4th level, the whistler may speak with plants as the druid spell.
Eyes of the Eagle (Su): At 4th level, the whistler gains the ability to see through the eyes of a single animal that he has trained with his Handle Animal skill. He may do this three times per day; each use lasts 10 minutes per point of the whistler's Wisdom bonus (min. 1).
Counter Whistle (Su): At 6th level, the whistler gains the ability to "attack" existing spells. By simply whistling a tune, the whistler can temporarily suspend magical effects. This works exactly as if the character was casting dispel magic, except that it does not actually dispel the effects on a successful level check, it merely suspends them for as long as he continues to whistle. The whistler can only attempt this once per magical effect, and a number of times per day equal to his Intelligence modifier (min. 1). Note that it is a standard action to continue the counter whistle each round.
Ride the Wind (Sp): At 8th level, the whistler gains the ability to travel on the wind as the air walk spell. This ability only functions in areas of at least light wind.
A Friend in Need (Su): At 10th level, once per week the whistler can summon celestial allies to aid him in a task. It is a full-round action to summon these creatures, and he can summon a number of creatures equal to 10 + his Charisma modifier. The whistler can set each animal to one task, which it will perform until completion. It then disappears. Any number of tasks may be given, but only one per animal, and a task can last a maximum number of days equal to the whistler's Wisdom modifier (min. 1), after which time they disappear regardless of their tasks' status.
The whistler can summon any of the following creatures, which will be Huge and celestial: badger, eagle, falcon, ferret, fox, or squirrel.
For example, the whistler could summon twelve celestial giant eagles to aid his beleaguered allies. Six eagles could be instructed to carry his friends back to their castle while the other six covered their retreat by engaging their enemies. The six eagles who were fighting would disappear when they or the enemies were driven off or killed, but the other six would not disappear until the whistler and his friends were safely back home.
Had a chance to try out this prestige class? Let us know your thoughts, on how it played – or what changes you would make to it, at email@example.com.
About the Author
Wil Upchurch is co-author of the acclaimed Midnight campaign setting, and a contributor to the Forgotten Realms and Dungeons & Dragons. There's pretty much nothing he won't write for money, and pretty much nobody who will pay him to do so. So, he spends most of his free time playing Dreamblade and evangelizing Nickel Creek.
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