View Full Version : [3.5] Apex Disciple [PEACH] (with associated lore)

2011-06-26, 06:05 PM
I've been kicking around the idea of building Jack of All Trades class that would be a bit more streamlined to play and provide some interesting roleplay opportunities, while being durable and forgiving for newbies.
As a result the class foregoes many of the more specialized class features of other roles and builds a solid foundation of aptitude that can be helpful to the party in almost any situation.
I'd like some feedback on the actual adjustment of stats. Any mechanics advice on smoothing it out with mathammer or improving weaknesses is appreciated. It's (kind of obviously) just about improving base stats and leaving it up to the player to try new things with confidence in his abilities to do so, rather than to explore the game while trying to learn or exploit a build. I set this up for a less experienced player who picked it up pretty quick and managed to be solidly reliable in most situations.

The Apex Disciple

Background and Motivations
The Apex Disciple is a semi-ascetic follower of the deity Apex that roams the earth looking for anyone in need of help, and new challenges to strengthen their body, mind, and soul. His first priority is improving the lives of others because in doing so he takes on their hardship and gains power from the experience. His second priority is to improve himself so that he may be more successful in his endeavors and in assisting others. This can take many forms...
A disciple could be a charitable force for the greater good who assists anyone in need for the satisfaction of doing a good deed "No thanks necessary ma'am, I'm just glad the kitten is safe!" , a pragmatic traveler who would help others because it makes sense to do so "Meh, I just saved the inn so I could get a drink there next time", or even selfishly take all challenges for himself to gain power "Aha! I just lifted the cart off you! I'm getting so strong and everyone saw me do it! *strikes a pose that can break hearts from a mile away*."
While Apex calls on his disciples to perform good deeds, he is unique in that he cares little for the alignment of his followers, simply that they follow his vision of a better world and share his overall goals.
The Disciple has a rather odd perspective when it comes to defining success, and training to achieve it. Instead of using any training or task as a means of improving his ability to perform that task, he turns the training inward and uses it to build himself. When she swings a training sword she doesn't think about trying to achieve a lethal blow on the training dummy, just the refinement of her own motion. When he studies a book on arcana or history it isn't to learn the subject, but to increase his comprehension and improve his memory and cognitive abilities. When she dances in a royal ballroom it isn't to impress and gain influence, it's to improve her agility when running away from werewolves in old ruins or dodging an assassin's blade. When he sleeps he doesn't sleep for rest, but outside in the snow because true resilience never stops growing. A disciple sitting in the corner of the tavern flipping a coin, isn't doing so out of absent minded boredom, but is more likely to be focusing on his awareness of the coin as it moves, the ability to multi-task by watching the coin while maintaining awareness of his environment, and improving his hand-eye coordination by controlling it's exact number of rotations in air with every flip.

Practical Description and Stats
All theology, philosophy, and destiny aside, Apex Disciples simply apply efficient micromanagement to their daily activities to ensure that they are always improving themselves towards the goal of reaching their pinnacle of personal potential.

Alignment: Any
Hit Die: d10
Class Skills: Pick any 10, +1 perform, +1 craft, +1 profession, +3 knowledge skills. These are chosen when you take your first level in the class. The Perform, Craft, Profession, and Knowledge skills are mandatory, but you may choose what they are, and they do not count against your 10 custom choices.
Skill Points @ 1st level: (6 + INT) X 4
Skill Points per following level: 6 + INT

Class Features

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Simple and Martial Weapons. Light and Medium Armor. All Shields (except tower).

Well Traveled: You know twice the languages you otherwise would at level 1. After level 1, or when multi-classing, you can learn new languages at the cost of 1 skill point if you have access to the language. You can use it in the form you had access to. e.g. If you are simply trying to learn the language from a book, then you will not know how to speak it. If you learn the language from locals then you may be able to speak, but not read/write it unless they offer to take the time to do so.

Diverse Training: You take half the penalty you otherwise would when using a weapon. e.g. wielding multiple, exotic, or improvised weapons. You take half the penalty you otherwise would when making skill checks. e.g. armor check penalties, adverse conditions, hostile environment, etc.

Apex Training: At every odd level, including lvl 1, Physical attributes are increased by +1, up to and including lvl 9. At every even level, up to and including lvl 10, mental attributes are increased by 1. From levels 11-18 the pattern continues, but with the bonus increased to +2. At levels 19-20 the bonuses increase to +3.

Fast Movement: You maintain an active fitness regimen and don't sit in one place too long. +10 feet Fast Movement at level 1. Improves to + 20 feet at level 7, and +30 at level 14.

Visions of Glory: If an Apex Disciple is reduced to negative hit points, without being destroyed outright, they are visited by visions of the hardship and endurance from Apex's oldest memories for 1d4 rounds, after which they can stand up with 1 hitpoint and new inspiration and determination. Also, disciples require only 4 hours of meditation to achieve the equivalent of a full nights rest, as their spirit contacts Apex's celestial realm and learns his teachings, or assists great artists, engineers, etc. in improving and expanding his realm-city.

Atrophy: Taking levels in another class will cause the character to start losing access to the benefits of being an Apex Disciple. While another class is the most current, the character loses access to Visions of Glory, and as many levels of attribute bonuses as levels taken in another class.
e.g. a 5th level disciple take 2 levels of cleric. when he takes the first level of Cleric he loses access to Visions of Glory and loses the +1 bonuses from Str, Con, and Dex that he received at 5th level. when he takes the 2nd level of cleric he loses the mental bonuses he acquired from his 4th level of Disciple. If he takes his 8th level in Disciple then he regains his original class features in addition to gaining the benefits of a 6th level disciple.

The Code of Apex: (this will eventually include a better list when I remember everything else, and get feedback on how people might want to play it.)
The Codes of Apex are guidelines, rules for life, and various pearls of wisdom that Disciples of Apex use to guide their actions in various situations. They may deviated from if necessary, but should be followed as closely as possible for good roleplaying because they make sense in promoting the kind of lifestyle that builds this class.

Travel Light.

Give at least a portion of your resources to those who have less, either through gift or action.

Don't rely too much on the possessions you carry with you as they may become lost.

Make a friend everywhere you go.

Do not waste time. Make every moment gainful through exercise or practice.

Do not become complacent or too comfortable. Live in the elements and let them build your resilience.

Do not fight without good reason.

If you compete with others remember that glory is meaningless, and try to promote meaningful improvement in yourself and others.

{table] Level | BAB | Fort | Ref | Will | Special
1st | +1 | 2 | 2 | 2 | +1 STR, +1 DEX, +1CON, Fast Movement +10, Well Traveled, Diverse Training, Visions of Glory
2nd | +2 | 3 | 3 | 3 | +1 INT, +1 WIS, +1 CHA
3rd | +3 | 3 | 3 | 3 | +1 STR, +1 DEX, +1CON
4th | +4 | 4 | 4 | 4 | +1 INT, +1 WIS, +1 CHA
5th | +5 | 4 | 4 | 4 | +1 STR, +1 DEX, +1CON
6th | +6/+1 | 5 | 5 | 5 | +1 INT, +1 WIS, +1 CHA
7th | +7/+2 | 5 | 5 | 5 | +1 STR, +1 DEX, +1 CON, Fast Movement +20
8th | +8/+3 | 6 | 6 | 6 | +1 INT, +1 WIS, +1 CHA
9th | +9/+4 | 6 | 6 | 6 | +1 STR, +1 DEX, +1 CON
10th |+10/+5 | 7 | 7 | 7 | +1 INT, +1 WIS, +1 CHA
11th | +11/+6/+1 | 7 | 7 | 7 | +2 STR, +2DEX, +2 CON
12th | +12/+7/+2 | 8 | 8 | 8 | +2 INT, +2 WIS, +2 CHA
13th | +13/+8/+3 | 8 | 8 | 8 | +2 STR, +2 DEX, +2 CON
14th | +14/+9/+4 | 9 | 9 | 9 | +2 INT, +2 WIS, +2 CHA, Fast Movement +30
15th | +15/+10/+5 | 9 | 9 | 9 | +2 STR, +2 DEX, +2 CON
16th | +16/+11/+6/+1 | 10 | 10 | 10 | +2 INT, +2 WIS, +2 CHA
17th | +17/+12/+7/+2 | 10 | 10 | 10 | +2 STR, +2 DEX, +2 CON
18th | +18/+13/+8/+3 | 11 | 11 | 11 | +2 INT, +2 WIS, +2 CHA
19th | +19/+14/+9/+4 | 11 | 11 | 11 | +3 STR, +3 DEX, +3 CON
20th | +20/+15/+10/+5 | 12 | 12 | 12 | +3 INT, +3 WIS, +3 CHA[/table]

Destiny, Lore, and Epic/Endgame Plothooks Wall of text and unfinished/unformatted. Kinda corny, but some backstory/lore is better than none I hope. :)
Apex has seen his share of millennia, but is still relatively young and seen as something of a new oddity by "old-guard" pantheons. His origin lies in an ancient and massive civilization long since lost to history where he began his life as a common slave in an oppressed population of millions that was forced to build the monuments, infrastructure, and engines of war for the emperor's inter-planar expansions and conquests. He experienced many hardships, but resisted the urge to hold any enmity for his captors, and worked tirelessly to pick up the slack for those who couldn't keep pace with labor demands. As he matured he still despised the living conditions and oppression of his people, but he learned to make blessings out of curses, and started teaching others that they did not need to revolt and overthrow this civilization to achieve freedom. He showed them that their will was still their own, and that they could choose to be free, even if serving others. He taught them to see their oppressors, not as objects of hate, but as a challenge to overcome. Underground routes used to smuggle anyone who wouldn't be missed out of the palaces were re-purposed to smuggle slaves in at night to copy entire archives of learning out from under their captors noses. As they built the city higher they also built in down and created massive catacombs with running water and redirected sunlight to grow healthy food and create centers of learning. They petitioned their captors for nothing. If they were starving they developed new ways to find food. If disease or injury became common they learned to heal it. They learned to gain more power from giving their efforts to this empire than it could hope to take by conquest given the same time. Monuments ceased to be reminders of their oppression and became a symbol of what they could achieve. Elaborate temples weren't centers of worship for the emperor, but schools of engineering and science for the slaves who found ways to improve them. Statues were crafted with such mastery that guests of the capital never considered the conquering generals depicted, but obsessed over acquiring the talent for their own palaces. Apex created a forge out of a furnace. He made a mindset and environment that turned from burning away firewood and coal, to melting the impurities out of gold and teaching the gold to mold itself in the heat. As the increasingly skilled workers became more prevalent they were shipped off to other lands where they spread Apex's teachings and found ways to form connections with their families and culture in the capital, creating an entirely new sub-civilization. Over the years Apex's civilization became more public and was a visible part of the empire that soon eclipsed even in economic trade. As the empire spread through flames of war the disciples followed in the wake of the armies, healing the wounds of war, replanting crops, building infrastructure, and doing what they could to protect newly conquered territories from the whims of the emperor's occupying forces. As the emperor's throne was lifted higher, it was Apex and his followers that gained the strength of lifting it. They started to surpass the empire, temples, markets and infrastructure appeared nearly overnight and without commission, with a quality that increased at rate alarming to the capital's elite. While his civilization grew, Apex avoided the limelight of leadership, but spoke passionately with messages of wisdom, compassion, and encouragement when asked to make appearances before fading back into the city. His followers grew more bold and started seeking new challenges by asking for the chance to compete with the city's gladiators, entertainers, and debaters. Any one of Apex's followers was able to best the empire's veteran soldiers in tests of might, the most renowned scholars in tests of the mind, and the most talented artists in feats of skill on any given day. As his followers achieved renown, jealousy crept through the higher castes with every new competition from Apex's Disciples.
Their spies filtered through the undercity like an unnoticed plague, collecting information on the spread of the movement and tracking the elusive figure who was catalyzing the people's change of heart. After a few months of searching they identified Apex and formed a line of communication with him.
While he had managed to achieve feats of leadership and ingenuity not thought humanly possible, he had still never managed to petition the emperor or nobility with his requests to stop spreading violence and free his people, so when the nobles sent him a summons to explain his actions to them in person he saw it as the opportunity of a lifetime.
He gathered a small group made up of the greatest paragons of Apex's new civilization, masters of trade, strength, science, culture, and industry, and asked them to join him in this opportunity to petition the emperors councilors and present a case for the empire to make peace with its enemies, and free their people. Knowing that they would likely only be given one chance, and knowing that even though Apex was inclined to trust them and see opportunities for diplomacy, the nobles were corrupt and most likely meant them harm. They swore that they wouldn't leave his side until they convinced the emperor himself to change the course of the empire for the better. They ascended into the heart of the city and arrived at a plateau that was a city in and of itself. Palaces dotted the smooth stone landscape with enough room for the armies of several empires to parade around a raised, pyramidal dais in the center after a great conquest. They were ushered into one of the palaces where they spent several days trying to convince the nobles to change policies of trade, foreign relations, etc. and presented as many cases as they could for convincing the emperor to grant them freedom so they could peacefully expand the prosperity of the empire. The nobles expressed more and more interest in the paragon's suggestions as they saw where shown new benefits and opportunities that were there for the making. Eventually they came to an agreement that some of the policies could be put into place (as long as the nobles benefited from them), and offered an audience with the king himself, which Apex joyfully accepted. They were confined to the same palace for yet another day while the nobles set about seeing to the preparations. Word returned that they were to proceed to the kings throne immediately. Leaving the building, they were blinded by the evening sun and as their eyes adjusted they realized they were being led through the largest gathering of people they had ever seen. A few of the higher ranking nobles escorted them on the long walk to the center of the crowd, explaining along the way that the emperor saw great potential in propositions and that he was considering releasing them all on the condition that they would expand the empire faster than his armies could. They explained that the majority of the city's non-essential slaves (about 500,000) had been brought to witness the event so that the incredible celebration of their release would win over the attending dignitaries of several nations the emperor was seeking to annex. Massive cheers rolled through the crowd as Apex, the paragons, and nobles approached the throne. The emperor's reserve army, used for ceremony and crowd control, stood 20 men deep on every side and still barely contained the pressing crowd. The dais was surrounded by elite guards that stepped aside just long enough for the small group to start climbing the steps. When they reached the top they stood on a platform that was low enough to provide a clear view of the throne, but high enough to see the surrounding mob in it's entirety and even past them, over the sides of the plateau to the surrounding plains. It was a view that induced natural vertigo and made everything feel small before the throne. On it sat the emperor, a large, well-armored man with a red eagle emblazoned on his chest, a crown of golden feathers, and pauldrons with the grasping claws of a great raptor, silently surveying them. "Kneel before your emperor" one of the lords whispered before wheeling around with the rest of the nobility to stand by the emperors guards. The group knelt before the throne. The entire crowd went silent. The emperor didn't say a word. He rose from his position and walked forward with the loud stomps of a powerful man in even powerful armor. The lord who had been most vocal in convincing the other lords of the validity of their ideals cautiously walked up behind him. cont'd

edit: Typos ahoy!

2011-06-26, 07:16 PM
The skills list thing took me a bit to get... interesting method. You should specify that you must make all selections when you take the first level of this class.

You need to put all the class abilities in the "Special" section, mostly at first level. Also, while "Fitness Regimen" is more evocative, just keeping it as "Fast Movement" is more standard to the PHB. Do as you like, but make sure you standardize it between the table and the text.

Ability score bonuses are... unusual for a non-racial class, but I think I like it.

How does "Well Traveled" work if you multi-class into this class? Maybe you should rephrase it as something like:

You gain an additional number of bonus languages known equal to your intelligence modifier, selected from your races list of available bonus languages, if you end up having all languages on that list you may select the remaining ones (if any) freely as if you were a human.

This certainly is forgiving of newbies. Not the most powerful class I don't think (this is generally considered a good thing). Powergamers using it will design premade characters with dips in other classes freely, since all you have to do is take one level of this (for the skill points), mix and match how you like, and then finish with a level of this and you are all good. Skills would be Tumble(reasonable), Iajatsu Focus(cheesy), and Autohypnosis... Of course, it has very little synergy with spell-casting classes. +10 to all ability scores by 20th level is very nice... but it needs to be since that is really one of the nicest things they get and they don't have any class features that run off ability scores.

2011-06-26, 09:18 PM
Thank you very much for the honest feedback. I've made changes accordingly. :)

Skill list has been clarified.
Descriptions for fast movement have been standardized for easy reading.
Tweaked the language mechanics a bit to allow for multi-classing.

The general idea is that the character should have the defenses and resources to hold his own, should be able to contribute or assist in some meaningful way in almost any situation, and should be able to change his roll on the fly without being committed to multi-level plans of weapon progression or spellbooks. This hopefully works as a class where character feats can be a fun addition instead of a necessary choice to fill the role your class shoehorned you into. The Disciple's "Job" is Yes. Is he the best at whatever Yes happens to be at the time? No, but he's pretty darn good at it. He's the best at being himself.

I'd like to add some better "nice things" so they can be a bit more heroic and stand out, but the core concept is keeping it simple so book keeping isn't a concern.

Maybe I could add a rule that if they can attempt something that accelerates their training then they can earn a temporary positive level and some enhancements from it. Such as breaking the local polar bear club skinny-dip record, and feeling amazing for a few days, or challenging a great master of strategem to a game of skill and getting your tactical juices flowing from the victory.

Any ideas for other features that could key off the scores without breaking the game or making players keep track of a lot of stuff?

I'm considering adding option to invest skillpoints or something other mechanic to stave off atrophy in order to make multi-classing more user friendly. Alternatively, does atrophy seem too harsh? It makes sense from a roleplay perspective, but I guess it could be a bit of a turn-off to a new player, or others in general.

2011-06-26, 09:32 PM
Rerolls of any d20 are always nice... you do have to keep track of how many you have left for the day, but that is pretty straightforward...

Similarly, Skill Mastery can be good... but maybe a limited number of times per day at first, since you would allow it to apply to all skills they have ranks in, then all skills on their individualized skill list, then all skills they can roll in the first place... and at 20th level make it At Will.

EDIT: Actually, if you REALLY want to make this a newbie class, give them the ability to use a full-round action in combat to gain +twice class level to all damage rolls the next turn, and +5 to all their d20 rolls that turn. In my experience, one of the most repeatedly terrifying moments for a less-than-confident player is when the GM turns to them during a heated battle and says "what do you do now?". The ability to say "I just sorta stand there and do nothing right now..." and have it be a HALFWAY VIABLE option might even be enough to break the brain-lock so they wouldn't need to use it nearly as often!