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Class Feature Variants




Class Feature Variants

Even if you’re satisfied playing one of the standard character classes, other options allow you to customize your character. Variant versions of several of the iconic class features common to the character classes are presented below. If you prefer the variant to the standard class feature, ask your game master if he approves of your swapping out your class feature for the variant version.

As with the variant character classes, these variant class features can exist side by side with the standard class features—some rangers might hunt goblinoids while their comrades favor woodland missions—or can completely replace the standard features. The balance between the standard class and the variant is up to the game master.

Favored Enemy Variant: Favored Environment

Instead of selecting a type of creature against which to apply a bonus on certain skills and damage rolls, the ranger selects a specific natural environment and gains bonuses when in that environment.

At 1st level, a ranger may select a natural environment from among those given on Table: Ranger Favored Environments. Due to the ranger’s experience in that environment, he gains a +2 bonus on Hide, Listen, Move Silently, Spot, and Survival checks when using these skills in that environment. He also gains the same bonus on Knowledge (nature) checks made in association with that environment (or on Knowledge (dungeoneering) checks made in association with underground environments, if the ranger has selected underground as a favored environment).

At 5th level and every five levels thereafter (at 10th, 15th, and 20th level), the ranger may select an additional favored environment from those given on the table and gains an identical bonus on the appropriate skill checks in that environment. In addition, at each such interval, the bonuses in any one favored environment (including the one just selected, if so desired) increase by 2. For example, a 5th-level ranger has two favored environments. In one he has a +4 bonus on the appropriate skill checks, and in the other he has a +2 bonus. At 10th level, he has three favored environments, and he gains an additional +2 bonus, which he can allocate to any of his three favored environments. Thus, his bonuses could be either +4, +4, and +2 or +6,+2, and +2.

If the ranger chooses desert or forest, he must also choose a climate type, as indicated on the table (either “cold” or “temperate or warm” for desert, or “cold or temperate” or “warm” for forest).

The game master may rule that a ranger can’t select an environment that he has never visited.

Table: Ranger Favored Environments
Environment Examples
Aquatic sea, ocean (on or under water)
Desert, cold tundra
Desert, temperate or warm badlands, sandy desert
Forest, cold or temperate forest
Forest warm jungle
Hills rugged terrain up to 2,000 feet elevation
Marsh bog, moor, swamp
Mountain rugged terrain above 2,000 feet elevation
Plains farmland, grassland, steppe, prairie
Underground dungeons, caverns

Rage Variant: Whirling Frenzy

A barbarian with this variant form of rage doesn’t gain the normal bonuses when he enters a rage. Instead, when a barbarian with whirling frenzy enters a rage, he temporarily gains a +4 bonus to Strength and a +2 dodge bonus to Armor Class and on Reflex saves. While in a whirling frenzy, the barbarian may make one extra attack in a round at his highest base attack bonus, but this attack takes a -2 penalty, as does each other attack made that round. This penalty applies for 1 round, so it also affects attacks of opportunity the barbarian might make before his next action.

Whirling frenzy is otherwise identical to the standard barbarian rage in all other ways. At 11th level (when a standard barbarian gains greater rage), the Strength bonus increases to +6, and the dodge bonus to Armor Class and on Reflex saves increases to +3. At 20th level (when a standard barbarian gains mighty rage), the Strength bonus increases to +8, and the dodge bonus to Armor Class and on Reflex saves increases to +4.

A barbarian using this variant doesn’t gain indomitable will at 14th level. Instead, he gains evasion, but only while in a whirling frenzy.

A character can’t use whirling frenzy at the same time that he uses any other form of rage (or similar ability).

Turning Undead Variant: Level Check

The standard rules for turning undead allow a cleric to affect a relatively narrow band of undead (up to 4 HD greater than his cleric level). This makes many undead creatures “off limits” for this iconic power of the cleric. This variant changes the cleric’s turning check into a battle of personality strength, representing it by a level check that also takes into account the opponents’ Charisma scores.

When turning undead using this variant, the cleric makes a turning check against the closest creature first, followed by a separate check against the next closest, and so on. When two or more creatures are equally close, the creature with the lowest number of Hit Dice is affected first (if it’s still a tie, the character chooses which is affected first). Creatures more than 60 feet away cannot be turned.

A turning check is a level check to which the character also adds his Charisma modifier. (Use the character’s effective turning level, which is equal to class level for a cleric or class level -3 for a paladin.) The DC is 10 + the creature’s Hit Dice + its turn resistance (if any) + its Charisma modifier. (To speed play, the game master can add a “Turn DC” score to the statistics block of each undead creature.)

If you use this variant, some creatures’ turn resistance should be increased to keep them from being too easy to turn. Any creature with turn resistance of +4 or higher should gain an additional +2 to its turn resistance. Creatures with turn resistance of +3 or lower need no change.

If the check fails, the creature is unaffected. Its Hit Dice do not count against the total number of creatures the character can turn (see below).

If the character succeeds on the check, the affected creature stands frozen in place for 1 round, just as if it were paralyzed (though this affects even creatures with immunity to paralysis). On each succeeding turn, the character may take a standard action to concentrate on the effect, prolonging the effective paralysis for an additional round. (This doesn’t count as a turn attempt, and affects all undead creatures that the character has “paralyzed” in this manner.) The character may concentrate on this effect for a maximum of 10 consecutive rounds, after which the undead creature can act normally. If a creature affected in this way is attacked or takes damage, the effect is broken and the creature may act normally beginning on its next turn. (The character’s proximity to the creature has no effect.) This effect is the same whether the character channels positive or negative energy.

If the character’s check beats the DC by 5 or more, he may instead turn the creature (if he channels positive energy) or rebuke it (if he channels negative energy).

If the creature has Hit Dice equal to one-half the character’s effective cleric level or less, the turning attempt automatically succeeds, and he does not have to make a check (the creature’s Hit Dice still count against the maximum). Furthermore, such undead are automatically destroyed (if the character channels positive energy) or commanded (if he channels negative energy).

The character makes checks against each eligible creature until he has affected the maximum Hit Dice worth of creatures, or there are no more eligible creatures. He can affect a number of Hit Dice of creatures equal to three × his effective cleric level on any one turning attempt. For example, a 4th-level cleric (or 7th-level paladin) can affect up to 12 HD worth of creatures, which could mean two creatures with 6 HD each, four creatures with 3 HD each, or any other combination that adds up to 12 HD.

An evil cleric can instead channel negative energy to bolster undead or to dispel a turning effect. In either case, the cleric makes a normal turning check (if attempting to dispel a turning effect, add the turning cleric’s Charisma modifier to the DC of the evil cleric’s turning check. if the cleric successfully rebukes the undead, the undead gain turn resistance +2 (if he was attempting to bolster them) or are no longer turned (if he was attempting to dispel the turning effect).

For example, a 3rd-level cleric, faces three ghouls and a ghast. The cleric can turn up to 9 HD of creatures. Two of the ghouls are 10 feet and 15 feet away, respectively. The third ghoul and the ghast are both 20 feet away. His turning attempts affect the closest ghouls first, then the farthest ghoul, and then the ghast. The cleric makes the first turning check. A ghoul has 2 HD, but it also has +2 turn resistance, so it is treated as a 4 HD creature. After adding the ghoul’s +1 Charisma modifier, the turning check DC is 15. The cleric rolls a 12, which, with his three cleric levels and +1 Charisma modifier, gives him a result of 16, so the nearest ghoul is halted in place. (If the cleric wants to maintain the effect, he’ll have to continue to concentrate on it in later rounds.) He has successfully turned 4 HD worth of creatures, leaving him with 5 HD. This is enough to affect another ghoul, so he makes another turning check against the next closest ghoul. the cleric rolls a 6 against the second ghoul, for a result of 10, so the ghoul is unaffected. Against the third ghoul, his roll is 16 for a result of 20, which beats the DC by at least 5, so the cleric can turn the ghoul if he wishes to do so. Since he knows he can’t affect the ghast on this turning attempt—it has 4 HD and 2 turn resistance, and the cleric has only 1 HD of turning left—he chooses to paralyze the third ghoul rather than sending it scurrying back into its burrow where it can gather more allies. (Even if the cleric had failed to affect the third ghoul, he would only have 5 HD left—not enough to affect the ghast thanks to its +2 turn resistance.) On his next turn, the cleric can choose to continue holding the ghouls in place or, if his allies have already destroyed the three ghouls, use another turning attempt against the ghast (which requires a DC 19 turning check).

Turning Undead Variant: Planar Banishment

Instead of channeling energy to turn or rebuke undead, with this variant a cleric can channel energy to banish outsiders.

Make a turning check as normal. The result indicates the most powerful outsider affected (treat an outsider as having Hit Dice equal to its Hit Dice + its Cha modifier, if any). if the roll is high enough to let the cleric affect at least some outsiders within 60 feet, roll 2d6 + cleric’s class level cleric’s Cha modifier for turning damage. That’s how many total Hit Dice of outsiders the cleric affects.

Any outsider affected by the turning attempt is banished back to its home plane. (If it is already on its home plane, there is no effect.) Even if it has the ability to travel between planes, it cannot do so for 10 rounds (1 minute). If the cleric has twice as many levels (or more) as the outsider has effective Hit Dice, he destroys any outsiders that he would normally banish.

If the cleric would normally turn or destroy undead, he has the ability to banish or destroy evil outsiders (that is, outsiders with the evil subtype). Characters who would normally rebuke or command undead instead gain the ability to banish or destroy good outsiders. As an additional option, the game master might allow clerics worshiping a lawful deity to banish or destroy chaotic outsiders, while clerics worshiping a chaotic deity could banish or destroy lawful outsiders. This ability would replace the ability to banish or destroy good or evil outsiders.

If you use this variant, consider allowing clerics who can turn or rebuke elementals (that is, clerics with access to the Air, Earth, Fire, or Water domains) to instead banish elementals of the same element and banish or destroy elementals of the opposing element.

This variant is otherwise identical to turning undead, including limits of daily uses and feats that enhance a cleric’s turning ability.

Wild Shape Variant: Aspect Of Nature

Instead of taking animal form, a druid with this variant form of wild shape takes on one or more aspects of nature when she uses her wild shape ability.

At 5th level, a druid may take on one aspect from those described below. At 8th level, the druid can take on up to two aspects simultaneously. At 11th level, she can take up on to three aspects simultaneously, and at 15th level the limit increases to its maximum of four simultaneous aspects. (Some aspects can only be combined with certain other aspects, as indicated in their descriptions.) Each aspect taken on counts as one daily use of the druid’s wild shape ability. Multiple versions of the same aspect don’t stack. Taking on one or more aspects is a standard action (which does not provoke attacks of opportunity), and the effect lasts for 1 minute per druid level.

Some aspects, as noted in their descriptions, have a minimum druid level as a prerequisite.

A druid may take on one aspect per day for every daily use of wild shape she is entitled to. For instance, a 5th-level druid could normally use wild shape once per day, so she could assume an aspect once per day. A 10th-level druid could take on four aspects per day and can choose to take on two aspects simultaneously (which would use up two of the druid’s daily uses).

Unless otherwise noted in an aspect’s description, a druid who assumes an aspect of nature retains her own type and subtype(s), keeps her extraordinary, supernatural, or spell-like abilities, and retains her ability to communicate and cast spells. She is considered proficient with any natural attacks granted by the aspect.

Agility

The druid gains a +8 bonus to Dexterity but takes a -4 penalty to Strength. Prerequisite: Druid level 8th.

Aquatic

The druid grows gills, enabling her to breathe underwater (while retaining her ability to breathe air). Webbing between her fingers and her toes grants her a swim speed of 40 feet (or 30 feet if wearing medium or heavy armor or carrying a medium or heavy load) and a +8 bonus on her Swim checks.

Elemental Air

The druids body becomes gaseous (as the gaseous form spell, except that she can fly at a speed of 100 feet with perfect maneuverability and doesn’t lose her supernatural abilities while in this form). While in this form, the druid has immunity to poison, sleep, paralysis, and stunning, as well as any other immunities provided by the gaseous form spell. The druid cannot cast spells while this aspect is in effect. She can’t combine this aspect with any other aspect except for agility and endurance. Prerequisite: Druid level 16th.

Elemental Earth

The druid’s body becomes stony and rocklike. While in this form, the druid has immunity to poison, sleep, paralysis, and stunning. She gains a slam attack that deals bludgeoning damage equal to a morningstar of the druid’s size (1d8 for Medium druids, 1d6 for Small druids). Her natural armor bonus becomes +8 (replacing any other natural armor bonus the druid has, though enhancement bonuses to natural armor still apply normally). She also gains damage reduction 10/magic. The druid cannot cast spells while this aspect is in effect. She can’t combine this aspect with any other aspect except for endurance and vigor. Prerequisite: Druid level 16th.

Elemental Fire

The druid’s body bursts into flame. While in this form, the druid has immunity to fire, poison, sleep, paralysis, and stunning. In addition, any creature struck by the druid in melee (whether with a weapon, unarmed attack, or natural weapon) takes an extra 1d6 points of fire damage and must succeed on a Reflex save or catch fire for 1d4 rounds. The save DC is 10 + 1/2 druid level + druid’s Con modifier. Creatures hitting the druid with natural weapons or unarmed attacks while this aspect is in effect take 1d6 points of fire damage and also catch fire unless they succeed on the Reflex save noted above. The druid also gains damage reduction 10/magic. The druid cannot cast spells while this aspect is in effect. She can’t combine this aspect with any other aspect except for agility and endurance. Prerequisite: Druid level 16th.

Elemental Water

The druid’s body becomes semifluid. While in this form, the druid gains a +10 bonus on Escape Artist checks, resistance to fire 10, and immunity to poison, steep, paralysis, and stunning. She gains a swim speed of 90 feet and a +8 bonus on her Swim checks. Her touch puts out torches, campfires, exposed lanterns, and other open flames of nonmagical origin if these are Large or smaller. The druid can dispel magical fire she touches as if she had cast greater dispel magic on it. She also gains damage reduction 10/magic. The druid cannot cast spells while this aspect is in effect. She can’t combine this aspect with any other aspect except for endurance and vigor. Prerequisite: Druid level 16th.

Endurance

The druid gains a +4 bonus to Constitution. Prerequisite: Druid level 8th.

Flight

The druid grows wings (feathery or batlike, at her option) that enable her to fly at a speed of 40 feet with average maneuverability (or 30 feet if wearing medium or heavy armor or carrying a medium or heavy load).

Plant

The druid’s body becomes plantlike. While in this form, the druid gains a +10 bonus on Hide checks made in areas of forest, overgrowth, or similar terrain. She gains immunity to poison, sleep, paralysis, and stunning. She gains a slam attack that deals bludgeoning damage equal to a light mace of the druid’s size (1d6 for Medium druids, 1d4 for Small druids). Her natural armor bonus becomes 4 (replacing any other natural armor bonus the druid has, though enhancement bonuses to natural armor still apply normally). She can’t combine this aspect with any other aspect except for vigor. Prerequisite: Druid level 12th.

Poison

The druid gains a bite attack that deals bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage equal to a dagger of the druid’s size (1d4 for a Medium druid, or 1d3 for a Small druid). In addition, the bite delivers a toxic venom (Fortitude save DC 10 + 1/2 druid’s level + druid’s Con modifier; initial and secondary damage 1d6 Con).

Scent

The druid gains the scent ability.

Speed

The druid gains a +30-foot enhancement bonus to her base land speed.

Tooth and Claw

The druid gains a primary bite attack (at her full base attack bonus) and two secondary claw attacks (at her base attack bonus -5 and adding only half her Strength bonus on damage rolls). The bite attack deals bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage equal to a short sword of the druid’s size (1d6 for a Medium druid, or 1d4 for a Small druid), while the claws deal piercing and slashing damage equal to a dagger of the druid’s size (1d4 for a Medium druid, or 1d3 for a Small druid).

Vigor

The druid gains a +8 bonus to Strength but takes a -4 penalty to Dexterity. Prerequisite: Druid level 8th.