View Full Version : The Planar Contractor [3.5] (Early concept. Input regarding mechanics appreciated)

2011-07-07, 11:29 PM
I have some core design ideas for this. I decided to develop a class that was based on a Richard Branson'esque stereotype of jet-setters who use the income of their fortunes to fund all kinds of zany adventures and thrillseeking.
So I'm asking myself, how do you interpret that into the kind of character that would fit into a standard dungeons and dragons setting, and then provide plothooks for the roleplayer, and lots of crazy combat abilities for the manic dice thrower. So I present my early concept for the Planar Contractor.
Planar Contractors are characters who are independently wealthy, but keep most of their fortune secured in reliable investments that provide them with a comfortable stipend that can be spent, traded, bartered, etc. to build their class features.
Planar Contractor is a general term for individuals who make use of the Planar Contract System and its associated market. They buy and sell demi-planes, influence, souls, and any number of obscure and unnatural items in the way that others would buy land, items, and servants on the material plane.
They also barter services as well as goods and are known to supply services and buy them in equal measure. In these cases they make use of the Planar Contract System, which is a more neutral and transparent version of the ancient magics used in faustian pacts, where conditions and exchanged goods are laid out in simple detail and automatically exchanged when the conditions are met, instantly, and with no limits. If you make a contract to retrieve someone's ancestral wedding ring in exchange for their youth, muscular physique, musical talent, etc. then the second you fulfill your obligation to the contract then the reward is transferred to you.
Planar Contractors come in many forms. They might be venture capitalists expanding their holdings by any means necessary, trust fund dilettantes riding their fortunes through the best years of their lives, soul moguls in the business of life after death, or even operatives for powerful factions making nation-building deals in the dark alleyways of the multiverse.
In any case, they accrue power in a very flexible form of capital and then manage it to make their power more adaptable. Where a fighter trains to be more powerful with a sword swing, the Contractor might use his economic power to bribe someone to make his sword more powerful, or even to do the dirty work for him.

The Planar Contractor

(super fancy table to come soon)
HD: d8
BAB: Medium
Saves: All High

Skill Points: (6+INT)*4 @ 1st level, and (6+INT) per level after.

Class Skills: Appraise, Concentration, Craft(), Diplomacy, Gather Information, Knowledge (The Planes), Knowledge (Arcana),
Knowledge (Religion), Knowledge (Economy), Listen, Profession, Search, Sense Motive, Spellcraft, Spot, Use Magic Device.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Simple Weapons, plus 1 Exotic melee and 1 Exotic Ranged.
Light and Medium Armor. Shields (Except Tower).

Astral Currency: [Flavor text for the power source]
Planar Contractors are a large group of traders, merchants, investors, diplomats, independent contractors and other affluent individuals who practice business and political economics outside the bounds of the material plane.
They have developed an entire market around the exchange of uncommon goods, services, and valuables between a diverse array of entities.
This includes an advanced system of regulated banking and contract management which uses an internal currency (Ak for short) for its trading system. As a result the Planar Contractor has accumulated many sizable investments through venture capitalism and business deals with outsiders.
After attaining a reliable network of wealth production many of these contractors use their connections and resources to fund a life of adventure and experience all the universe has to offer. Any capital that isn't immediately re-invested into their portfolio is used to acquire the otherworldly goods and services of the market for recreational use. Some of this profit comes in the form of small daily infusions of Ak that are used for utilitarian expenses of the day (e.g. rented spells, buffs, etc.), and are automatically reinvested at the end of the day if not spent. Other rarer forms of profit provide much larger amounts of Ak when the contractor cashes in on an investment, and are kept as fluid savings or spent as mad money.

Planar Market:
Wizards and Fighters may be stuck with whatever items a store may have on hand, but you know how to access extraterestrial markets, and negotiate with angels, devils, and other strange forces.
You have the ability to buy things that are much stranger and otherwise inaccessable to others.
You can shop for anything from an amazing new mustache to a better physique, angel wings, regeneration, a better hit die, a feat, extraordinary/spell-like abilities, or anything as long as you can afford it.

Daily Dividend: [Hereafter referred to as "DD". Basic Power Source. Used for attack, defense, and on-demand utility. This is what you use when you want to make non-mundane actions. Wizards have spellbooks, warrior types have various maneuvers and attacks, and you have a pool of resources that can be spent to achieve similar results with the exception being that you don't have to be married to a spell selection or an expensive feat chain. Abilities purchased with the DD are generally instantaneous effects, attacks, and spells or spell-like effects that have a duration ranging from 1 round to 1 day.]
You have masterfully structured your investments to provide you with a reliable source of income. This is managed by your Akstar banking account and is designed to maintain a certain level of Ak that can be spent on market goods everyday, with any unused Ak reinvested in the market at the end of the day. Your Daily Dividend is used to pay for temporary services required throughout the day, such as paying a divine representative to bless you with Protection from Evil, renting Haste from a great wizard, or hiring an outsider to assist you for the day. These service contracts are terminated at the end of the day when your Daily Dividend resets with the option of reactivating them for the next day. As you expand your fortune your Daily Dividend will increase allowing you to use more powerful effects in a given day. This is increased by leveling, but may be increased by other means as well. A contract may be terminated for a fee, with part of the cost being refunded (an appraise check determines the percentage refunded).
[Placeholder value for DD stats] 100 Ak per day at level 1 with this amount doubling each class level afterwards.
There will be a specific attack ability here that will allow a certain amount of Ak to be expended to do damage with an Appraise check modifying the damage dealt as you barter for the amount of damage dealt (more fluff to come on this, but essentially you are paying powerful forces to deal direct damage to a target instead of actively attacking them yourself).

Return On Investment: [This will produce most of the class features, with the DD being more what you do, and the bonuses here focusing on longer term strategies of how you do it. The DD abilities are the micromanagement of your play-style, and the ROI provides the macro-management and broad direction of your class. The ROI will allow you to go through certain time intervals with a customized "flavor" of game-play as opposed to simply determining the specific play itself]
At level 1, and every level of Contractor after 1st, you receive a sizeable amount of Ak. This is never automatically lost to reinvestment.
This is spent on permanent effects that are not lost with contract expiration, such as growing angel/dragon wings, increasing an attribute/hitpoint/save, buying extraordinary abilities, etc. These can be resold at cost so your total combined value of saved Ak and purchased features will always be based on your level. If you run out of Daily Dividend, you may spend some of the value from your ROI savings on temporary contracts, but the cost will not be refunded at the end of the day and your total savings value will be permanently reduced below what it would be for your level. Voluntary Reinvestment of a portion (max 1/4 of Ak Received) of the Ak (when you receive it) in your savings will increase the value of the ROI by double the reinvested amount and increase the value of the Daily Dividend by 10% (rounded down).
[Placeholder values for ROI stats] 1000 Ak at level 1 with this amount doubling each class level afterwards.

Additional notes:

I started the idea off trying to think of a way to make an entertaining merchant class that was effective outside of straight roleplaying and wouldn't just be a dull guy who buys property and abuses Leadership to make people work for him, and came up with the idea of a character that has effectively monetized power to the point that he can use it recreationally, who's only real limits are what flavors of power happen to be for sale.

I really wasn't sure what to call the currency as I'd like to have something more flavorful than just generic power points, and something less confusing and misleading than using gold. I just called it Ak (as in Clock) because it was short for Astral Currency and wouldn't be confused with AC. I'm definitely not tied to it and I welcome any more aesthetically pleasing suggestions you may have.

I still have to make the basic "shop" tables for the abilities, so bear with me on that. The general idea for power costs is that equivalents of low level spells or similar abilities may cost under 10 Ak, but higher level abilities like the ability to summon greater outsiders or lease a feat for a day could cost thousands of Ak. This could be done a few ways, like using a formula to derive Ak costs so any spell or ability could be selected, building a simple list that represents the diversity of commodities traded by outsiders but doesn't overwhelm the player with too many choices each level, or even developing a system that randomly generates what goods and services are available on the market from day to day. There will be separate tables for the temporary goods usable through Daily Dividends, and the more permanent modifications purchasable through the Return on Investment funds.

I have a general direction I'm going to take this in, but would still love to hear any inspirations you have as far as supporting features or reinterpretations of the basic concepts that I'm trying to describe. So I'm leaving this a bit open ended for now to see if hindsight brings new insights.

You can always communicate with your personal astral broker/secretary to make changes to your account.

2011-07-08, 10:19 AM
From your premise, this should be a prestige class and not a base class at all. First, you need a definable amount of gold to even enter the class. It's hard to be jet-setter on starting gold. Second, no class should have all good saves.


2011-07-08, 05:39 PM
I'm intending to set it up as a base class that scales the full 20 levels, so most of my concepts are based around that. If I'm going to make a custom playing experience I generally think about it as a self contained system that doesn't require multiclassing and plays to it's core design for as long as required. As such I am trying to make this concept functional from level 1 up. The reason the contractor doesn't require a class entry with a large amount of gold is that his class features are based on a separate and entirely alien economy, independent from mainstream trade on the material plane, and with very exclusive access. In his early years of doing business he may not have even traded in gold or similar forms of currency at all, by brokering deals, treaties, etc. between otherwordly factions in exchange for exotic training, mutational gifts, or divine blessings.
The market is simply a way of assigning a level scaling value to his acquisitions and granting access to almost any ability that can be balanced to a points cost. I should probably add a bit more fluff about trade regulations, but just because he has this extraplanar economic potential does not mean that he can transfer it to material markets and just spend it on more of the same things everyone else can buy.
Likewise, a wizard is not a PRC, even though it would realistically require a significant amount of time and material invested just to begin training in the art of casting cantrips, but it still allows spell casting at level 1.
Really though, a lot of the actual fluff of the class would depend on your character and the game you're playing in. Your level 1 character could have spent years acquiring fortunes in foreign planes before being able to afford the rewards of the market, maybe you've only just started investing and are reaping the rewards of your early success (think Dot-Com'er), or maybe you've only managed to gain small returns and the perks just happen to be more affordable in your reality so you still have the same access exotic resources as any other contractor of the same level in a different game setting.

As far as the saves go, I just set them to "All Good" for now because I tend to default to higher values unless I'm adding in a specific weakness, and I really haven't come up with a reason to lean the defenses in a specific direction. It's not written in stone though. I actually considered going with medium saves across the board by setting the value of each to be one-half HD to fit with the medium d8 die and the medium BAB, but I can't say I've seen that used before and I thought it would be a point of confusion in a class that is already functioning with mechanics that might seem a little involved at first glance.
Also, while not common, some classes do have all good saves. Monk and Favored Soul off the top of my head.

I hope that doesn't come across as rude, or ungrateful for the helpful feedback. I'm just trying to share more of my perspective on the idea (which I'm notably bad at). I like to throw the raw shreds of muse out there and see what ideas it sparks for others. :smallsmile: