This column aims to provide players with tips on creating effective and interesting characters of various types. Whether you're a beginning player creating your very first character or an experienced gamer looking to put some punch into an old standby, this column is for you.
Tireless travelers, horizon walkers (DMG 189) are always on the move, seeking out adventure and danger wherever they may be found.
The horizon walker has many useful abilities. Here are a few things to consider when building a horizon walker.
- Good Base Attack Bonus: A horizon walker's base attack bonus increases like that of a fighter, which is the best in the game.
- Good Fortitude Saves: Horizon walkers have good Fortitude saving throws (PH 22). Levels of ranger augment this further.
- Good Skill Points: Horizon walkers gain four skill points at every level, allowing them to increase a range of useful class skills including Hide, Listen, Move Silently, Spot, and Survival.
- Terrain Mastery: At 1st- through 5th-level, horizon walkers gain terrain mastery. At each level, they choose an additional type of terrain (forest, hills, mountain, and so on) to master. Normally, this grants a +4 competence bonus to one type of skill check and a +1 insight bonus on attack and damage rolls to creatures from that terrain type. A notable exception to this is underground terrain mastery, which grants darkvision (or extends existing darkvision to 120 ft.) as well as granting the normal attack and damage bonuses.
- Planar Terrain Master: Skilled horizon walkers (6th-level or higher) get access to planar terrain master with every class level. Essentially, this is an improved version of terrain mastery that allows them to draw from a mystical connection they develop with the relevant plane. These abilities often grant a range of powers as well as (normally) an insight bonus on attack and damage rolls against creatures native to the chosen plane.
The horizon walker's advantages come at a price. Here are a few things to consider when thinking about such a character.
- Poor Reflex Saves: Horizon walkers have poor Reflex saving throws (PH 22). Levels of bard, ranger, or scout (Complete Adventurer) offset this to a certain degree.
- Poor Will Saves: Horizon walkers have poor Will saving throws (PH 22). Levels of bard offset this to a certain degree.
Playing a Horizon Walker
People who play efficient horizon walkers should keep the following in mind.
Advancement and Build
Rangers, bards, and wizards can all qualify for this prestige class easily because they are the only classes from the Player's Handbook with Knowledge (geography) as a class skill. (Rangers have a significant advantage when qualifying for this class because they gain Endurance as a bonus feat at 3rd level). The scout (Complete Adventurer) also has Knowledge (geography) as a class skill, and so can easily qualify for horizon walker. Characters with Knowledge (geography) as a cross-class skill must wait until 13th level to qualify for this prestige class, making such individuals rare. It is for this reason that most horizon walkers have levels in bard, ranger, or scout. While wizards can qualify for this class, they rarely do so -- the lack of augmented spellcasting abilities seriously hinders their development.
Halflings often become horizon walkers because their nomadic lifestyle fits perfectly with the horizon walker's ethos. In the World of Greyhawk, many horizon walkers worship Fharlanghn, god of horizons, distance, travel, and roads.
Horizon walker has 10 class levels. Given that it is possible for a 5th-level ranger to qualify for this prestige class, prospective horizon walkers must give some thought regarding what additional class levels to take. Scout and fighter are good choices, as are arcane archer, darkwood sniper (Complete Warrior), bloodhound, and highland stalker (both Complete Adventurer).
Feats, Skills, and Combat
The classes he took levels in to qualify for this prestige class defines a horizon walker's role in combat. He is rarely, however, a front-line combatant. Almost all horizon walkers have a good Dexterity score, because it is uniformly an important statistic for abilities granted by their previous class(es). Combined with an average or low hit point score and light armor, this means they normally prefer ranged combat over melee. Horizon walkers with levels in bard and scout are better suited to a supporting role in combat, while horizon walker/rangers often specialize in the archery combat style. (As archers, they should consider taking Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Far Shot, Shot on the Run, and so on.) Horizon walkers intent on entering melee should seriously consider wielding a rapier or light weapon and taking Weapon Finesse.
It is likely that a horizon walker will have one or more poor saving throws. (The exception to this is ranger/bards, who have good saving throws in all categories). He should cover such weaknesses by taking the relevant feats -- Great Fortitude, Iron Will, or Lightning Reflexes. Stealthy is a good choice for those expecting to fill a scouting role, while Dodge and Mobility allow an archer specialist to disengage from combat without getting injured so often.
Horizon walkers are attracted to items that improve their survivability as well as their scouting and reconnaissance skills. Thus, they find cloaks of elvenkind, boots of elvenkind, gauntlets of dexterity, eyes of the eagle, and so on particularly attractive.
They likely wear light armor so as not to restrict class abilities and skills gained from previous classes. Many wear (at the least) masterwork studded leather armor because of its lack of an armor check penalty, while those that can afford it buy a mithral shirt or suit of elven chain. Horizon walkers/archer specialists use a buckler, but others should invest in a shield. Once their armor is enchanted, the shadow and silent moves special abilities aid stealthy scouting while the arrow deflection ability added to their buckler or shield offers additional protection from ranged attacks.
Because horizon walkers spend most of their time traveling, they often purchase items that ease their travels and improve their mobility. Good examples of these include bags of holding, quivers of Ehlonna, slippers of spider climbing, decanters of endless water, and the various Quaal's feather tokens. From the Magic Item Compendium, horizon walkers often purchase such seemingly minor (but jolly useful) items as everfull mugs, everlasting feedbags, everlasting rations, field provisions boxes, and Daern's instant tent.
Sample Horizon Walker: Caellion Na' Elsar
Clad in a gray cloak and carrying a black-hued longbow, this tall and graceful elf has black hair and green eyes.
Caellion Na' Elsar (CR 14)
Male elf ranger 6/fighter 5/horizon walker 3
CG Medium humanoid (elf)
Init +4; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Listen +18, Spot +14
Languages Common, Elf
AC 24, touch 15, flat-footed 20; Dodge
(+4 Dex, +7 armor, +2 shield, +1 deflection)
hp 99 (14 HD)
Fort +14, Ref +11, Will +7; +2 against enchantments
Speed 40 ft. in chain shirt (8 squares), base speed 30 ft.
Ranged+1 flaming orc bane longbow +20/+15/+10 (1d8+4/x3 plus 1d6 fire) or
+1 flaming orc bane longbow +14/+14/+14 (1d8+4/x3 plus 1d6 fire) with Manyshot or
+1 longbow +18/+18/+13/+8 (1d8+4/x3 plus 1d6 fire) with Rapid Shot
Melee+1 longsword +17 (1d8+3/19-20)
Base Atk +14; Grp +16
Atk Options Improved Precise Shot, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, favored enemy orcs +4, favored enemy goblins +2, terrain mastery (forest, hill, underground)
Combat Gearpotion of cure serious wounds
Ranger Spells Prepared (CL 2nd):
1st -- longstrider (already cast), pass without trace
Abilities Str 14, Dex 19, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8
SQ animal companion (wolf), elf traits, forest mastery, hill mastery, underground mastery, link with companion, share spells, wild empathy +13 (+9 magical beasts)
Feats Dodge, Endurance(B), Improved Precise Shot, Iron Will, Manyshot(B), Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Rapid Shot(B), Track(B), Weapon Focus (longbow), Weapon Specialization (longbow)
Skills Balance +7, Climb +4, Hide +20, Jump +5, Knowledge (geography) +8, Listen +18, Move Silently +16, Search +2, Spot +14, Survival +13, Swim -1, Tumble +5
Possessions combat gear plus +2 elven chain, +1 darkwood buckler, +1 longsword, +1 flaming orc bane composite longbow (+2 Str), quiver of Ehlonna with 20 arrows, 10 adamantine arrows, 10 silver arrows, and 10 cold iron arrows, cloak of elvenkind, boots of elvenkind, ring of protection +1, amulet of health +2
Terrain Mastery (Ex) Caellion Na' Elsar gains a +1 insight bonus on attack and damage rolls against forest, hill, and underground creatures.
Caellion Na' Elsar had the following ability scores before racial adjustments, Hit Die ability score increases, and stat boosting items:
Str 13, Dex 15, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8
Had a chance to try out the bladesinger prestige class? Let us know your thoughts on how it played or what changes you would make to it.
About the Author
Creighton Broadhurst is a member of Living Greyhawk's Circle of Six and a mad-keen World of Greyhawk fan. He has two young sons (whom he nicknames "Ghengis" and "Khan"). His house is an oasis of tranquility, tidiness, and order. In his spare time, he tries to survive the Savage Tide.