Savage Progressions 11/14/2003

Fiendish Creature and Werebear Template Classes

In last month's installment, we converted the half-fiend and the wereboar templates to template classes. This month, we tackle the fiendish creature and the werebear -- a 2-level and a 3-level template class, respectively.

The Fiendish Creature

Fiendish creatures are evil versions of creatures from the Material Plane. Drawn to the world of mortals by magic, they do the bidding of their summoners for the most part, though some simply wreak havoc on their own until they are slain or banished to their native planes.

"Fiendish" is usually an inherited template, but it could be acquired through special magical rituals as well. Through powerful evil ceremonies or exposure to strange energies from the home planes of fiends, a nonfiendish character can acquire the fiendish template. Such beings can advance in the fiendish template class, just as natural-born fiendish creatures can if they wish to develop their powers more slowly. Since all fiendish creatures are evil, the DM is free to require that a good or neutral character who advances as a fiendish creature become fully evil by the time she has completed the class progression.

Because the fiendish template and the celestial template differ only in alignment focus, the fiendish template class can easily be used as a model to create a celestial template class. The book Anger of Angels (also by Sean K Reynolds) from Malhavoc Press presents the celestial template as a template class.

Table SP-9: The Fiendish Template Class
Class Level
CR Special
1st 1st-3rd +0 Darkvision 60 ft., extraplanar subtype, minimum Intelligence, resistances (cold 5, fire 5), smite good, type change
4th+ +1
2nd 1st+ +1 Spell resistance
4th-11th Damage reduction 5/magic
8th+ +2 Resistances (cold 10, fire 10)
12th+ Damage reduction 10/magic

Fiendish Template Class Features

All of the following are class features of the fiendish template class. Many of these features are gained only at certain minimum character levels. When the character gains a new level in any class, consult Table SP-9 to determine whether she gains any new benefits from the fiendish class.

Darkvision (Ex): At 1st level, the fiendish creature gains darkvision to a 60-foot range.

Minimum Intelligence (Ex): If the base character's Intelligence score was below 3, increase it to 3. Do not recalculate her racial skill points (if any), but skill points derived from future Hit Dice use the character's Intelligence score at the time the new levels or Hit Dice are gained, as normal.

Resistances (Ex): At 1st level, a fiendish creature gains resistance 5 to cold and fire. At 2nd level, each of these resistances increases to 10, provided that the fiendish creature has 8 or more HD. The resistances of a fiendish creature with 7 or fewer HD do not change.

Smite Good (Su): Once per day, a fiendish creature may attempt to smite a good creature with one normal melee attack. This attack deals extra damage equal to her character level (maximum +20) against a good foe. If she accidentally smites a creature that is not evil, the smite has no effect but is still used up for the day.

Extraplanar Subtype (Ex): At 1st level, a fiendish character gains the extraplanar subtype.

Type Change (Ex): If the base creature is an animal or vermin, its type changes to magical beast, but otherwise the type is unchanged. If the type does change, do not recalculate the character's Hit Dice, base attack bonus, base save bonuses, or skill points.

Spell Resistance (Su): At 2nd level, a fiendish character gains spell resistance equal to her character level +5 (maximum 25).

Damage Reduction (Su): A 2nd-level fiendish character has no damage reduction if her character level is 3rd or lower. She has damage reduction 5/magic if her character level is between 4th and 11th (inclusive), or damage reduction 10/magic if her character level is 12th or higher. A fiendish character with damage reduction treats her natural weapons as magic weapons for the purpose of bypassing the damage reduction of other creatures.

The Werebear

Werebears are reclusive creatures that prefer to avoid civilization and hunt down evil beings in the wilderness. Though they tend to be moody and easily agitated, werebears are the only good-aligned lycanthropes that are commonly known. Afflicted werebears are rarely created accidentally, since natural werebears are careful to slay their evil enemies outright and reluctant to fight good creatures. Sometimes an ailing or elder werebear arranges to pass on its gifts to a worthy and willing person to ensure that the power to fight evil in this unique way will continue after the original werebear has died.

A character who chooses to keep his lycanthropic curse can progress in the werebear template class to gain werebear abilities. This template class can also be used by natural werebears who wish to start play at lower levels and develop their powers, or for characters who somehow acquire this form of lycanthropy from another source.

This template class can be taken only by a lycanthrope who is aware of his condition, whether because he was born a werebear or because he realizes that he is afflicted with lycanthropy. Any ability noted as applying to all forms is available to the werebear in his natural, hybrid, and animal forms, but not forms acquired via polymorph or other means.

Each lycanthrope template class has three levels, but only natural lycanthropes can take all the levels it offers. An afflicted lycanthrope can take only 1st and 2nd levels in the class, since his level adjustment is +2 instead of +3.

Lycanthrope template classes also follow special rules relating to the benefits such characters acquire from their animal natures. The template allows for a level adjustment of +3 (or +2 for afflicted lycanthropes), but that value does not include the Hit Dice from the lycanthrope's animal form. So while a 1st-level human natural werebear warrior (as presented in the Monster Manual) has a level adjustment of +3, his ECL is actually 10 -- 1 from his warrior Hit Die, +3 from the template, +6 for his bear Hit Dice.

Thus, in addition to the levels offered via the appropriate lycanthrope template class, each kind of lycanthrope also has a separate (optional) class progression for his animal abilities. Essentially, a character progressing as a lycanthrope multiclasses into the template class and can also multiclass into the appropriate animal class if desired.

The animal class is entirely optional. No would-be lycanthrope is required to take it, but doing so is an advantage, since a character without it is weaker than other lycanthropes of the same type. Taking levels in the appropriate animal template class gives the character the animal's Hit Dice and hit points (in all forms), saving throw bonuses (in all forms), skill points (in all forms), racial skill bonuses (in all forms), conditional skill modifiers (in animal form), ability score modifiers (in hybrid or animal form), natural armor bonus, and special attacks (such as the bear's improved grab). Levels in the animal class may be taken at any point after the character takes one level in the lycanthrope template class. He is also free to take levels in other classes between levels of the template class and the animal class, as desired. The animal class, like the template class, does not count when determining whether a character takes an XP penalty for multiclassing.

An afflicted werebear that is cured of lycanthropy (as described in the Monster Manual on page 178) immediately loses all werebear template class levels and brown bear class levels (if any). These levels cannot be restored with restoration or similar magic; they are simply gone. Most lycanthropes that do not wish to lose their lycanthropy in this way deliberately fail their saving throws against the spell in order to prevent this traumatic change.

Table SP-10: The Werebear Template Class
Level CR Special
1st +1 Wis +2, natural armor +2, alternate form (brown bear), low-light vision, shapechanger subtype, werebear feat (Run)
2nd +1 Alternate form (hybrid), bear empathy, damage reduction (5/silver), werebear feats (Iron Will, Endurance)
3rd +2 Curse of lycanthropy, damage reduction (10/silver)

Werebear Template Class Features

All of the following are class features of the werebear template class.

Ability Score Changes: The indicated ability score increases or decreases by the amount noted. These changes are cumulative.

Natural Armor Improvements: At 1st level, the werebear's natural armor bonus increases by +2. A character that does not normally have a natural armor bonus (such as a human) is considered to have an initial natural armor bonus of +0 for the purpose of this ability. Thus, a human's natural armor bonus would increase to +2 at 1st level. These changes are cumulative. The werebear also gains additional natural armor increases in hybrid or animal form from the animal class.

Alternate Form (Su): At 1st level, the werebear can take the form of a brown bear, and he undergoes this change involuntarily on the nights of the full moon or in times of stress, as described in the Monster Manual. Unless the werebear is a natural lycanthrope, he does not automatically have control over this ability and must attempt a Control Shape check to intentionally change form or to resist an involuntary change. For an afflicted lycanthrope, Control Shape is a class skill for all classes as well as racial Hit Dice, if any. Natural lycanthropes have full control over when they change shape and do not need to take ranks in this skill. Changing form is a standard action that can be attempted once per round.

A werebear character who is aware of his condition retains his identity and does not lose control of his actions when he changes. Each time he involuntarily changes to his animal form, however, he must make a Will save (DC 15 + number of times he has been in animal form) or permanently assume the alignment of his lycanthrope kind (lawful good for werebears) in all forms. Any voluntary change to bear or hybrid form immediately and permanently changes the character's alignment to lawful good.

Until the character has taken one or more levels in the optional bear animal class (see Bear Abilities, below), changing shape to bear form does not give him the abilities of a bear -- he simply is able to take that creature's shape, as if he had a perfect disguise. Since this ability is of limited use, most characters taking levels in the werebear template class choose to take levels of the brown bear class as well in order to gain the full abilities of their animal forms.

At 2nd level, the werebear can assume a hybrid form -- a shape between his humanoid and his bear forms. As with the bear form, this change is purely cosmetic unless the character has taken the brown bear class to gain the appropriate abilities.

Low-Light Vision (Ex): A 1st-level werebear gains low-light vision.

Shapechanger Subtype (Ex): At 1st level, the werebear gains the shapechanger subtype.

Werebear Bonus Feats: At 1st and 2nd level, the werebear gains the feats indicated on Table SP-10 as bonus feats, assuming that he doesn't already have them. If the werebear doesn't meet the prerequisites (if any) for a bonus feat, he gains the feat but cannot use it until he does meet the prerequisites.

Bear Empathy (Ex): Starting at 2nd level, a werebear in any form can communicate and empathize with normal or dire bears. This ability gives him a +4 racial bonus on checks made to influence the attitude of such creatures. It also allows the communication of simple concepts and (if the animal is friendly) commands, such as "friend," "foe," "flee," and "attack."

Damage Reduction (Ex): At 2nd level, the werebear gains damage reduction 5/silver. At 3rd level, a natural lycanthrope gains damage reduction 10/silver. An afflicted lycanthrope's damage reduction does not improve beyond 5/silver.

Curse of Lycanthropy (Su): At 3rd level, a natural werebear can infect other creatures with lycanthropy. Any humanoid or giant hit by the bite attack of a werebear in animal or hybrid form must succeed on a DC 15 Fortitude save or contract lycanthropy. Afflicted lycanthropes do not transmit lycanthropy.

Table SP-11: The Brown Bear (Lycanthrope) Class
1st 1d8 +0 +2 +2 +0 2 + Int mod. Str +2, Dex +2, natural armor +2, bear abilities, bite
2nd 2d8 +1 +3 +3 +0 2 + Int mod. Str +2, Con +2, scent
3rd 3d8 +2 +3 +3 +1 2 + Int mod. Str +2, Con +2, natural armor +2, 2 claws
4th 4d8 +3 +4 +4 +1 2 + Int mod. Str +2, Con +2, improved grab, Track
5th 5d8 +3 +4 +4 +1 2 + Int mod. Str +4, Con +2, natural armor +1
6th 6d8 +4 +5 +5 +2 2 + Int mod. Str +4, Large

Brown Bear Animal Class Features

All of the following are class features of the brown bear class.

Ability Score Changes: The indicated ability score increases or decreases by the amount noted. These changes are cumulative.

Natural Armor Improvements: At 1st level, the character's natural armor bonus increases by +2. A character that does not normally have a natural armor bonus (such as a human) is considered to have an initial natural armor bonus of +0 for the purpose of this ability. Thus, a human's natural armor bonus would increase to +2 at 1st level. These changes are cumulative.

Bear Abilities (Ex): Upon taking a level in the brown bear animal class, the character gains the animal's Hit Dice (in all forms), base attack bonus (in all forms), base saving throw bonuses (in all forms), ability score modifiers (in hybrid and animal forms), skill points (in all forms), and natural armor bonus (in hybrid and animal forms), as well as the special abilities indicated on Table SP-11.

In brown bear form, the werebear's speed changes to 40 feet, and he gains a +4 racial bonus on Swim checks in brown bear form. Class skills for the brown bear racial Hit Dice are Control Shape, Listen, Spot, and Swim.

Bite: The brown bear animal class gives the werebear a bite attack in his animal and hybrid forms. The bite is a natural weapon that deals 1d8 points of damage.

Scent (Ex): As a 1st-level brown bear, a werebear in any form gains the scent ability.

Claws: Upon reaching 3rd level in the brown bear class, a werebear gains two claw attacks in his animal and hybrid forms. His claws are natural weapons, each dealing 1d6 points of damage.

Improved Grab (Ex): At 4th level in the brown bear class, the werebear gains the improved grab ability. To use it, he must hit a creature at least one size category smaller than himself with a claw attack. He can then attempt to start a grapple as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity.

Track: At 4th level in brown bear class, the werebear gains Track as a bonus feat.

Large (Ex): When a werebear reaches 6th level in the brown bear class, his animal and hybrid forms become Large size. In either of those forms, he takes a -1 penalty to AC and attack rolls because of his size, and his Space/Reach changes to 10 ft./10 ft. His bite damage increases to 2d6 points, and his claw damage increases to 1d8 points. His ability scores change as indicated on Table SP-11.

About the Author

Sean K Reynolds spends a remarkable amount of time on trains, where he defeats bandits, solves complex mathematical equations, and shushes noisy children. Then he wakes up. Check out his website.

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