The Self-Made Man
ďĎYou are what the gods made you?í They made me a fixer-upper.Ē
─ Rockson Nigel, Self-Made Man
Most people view the process of learning and training as a way of improving their body. The self-made man is somebody smart, impatient, and perhaps unstable enough to cut out the middlemen and take this mindset literally.
Making a Self-Made Man
A self-made man is a jack of all trades, function limited only by the hardware he chooses to install. He can be fast, sneaky, and attack enemies from out of sight. He can be a strong frontline combatant. He can be a tricky yet alluring vagabond. He will, once heís done, be more machine than man.
Abilities: It is up to the self-made man how to use his modules, but since his strength lies in his versatility, a successful self-made man will be moderately good at many tasks rather than focusing entirely on one ability. That said, most self-made men will concentrate on one role and look to fill it, even if they fill it using a variety of approaches and strategies day to day or encounter to encounter.
Races: Humans and gnomes are the most common races among self-made men, being the freest to experiment, with easy access to the necessary materials and training. The metallurgic prowess of dwarves can lead some down the path of the self-made man, although like elves, itís looked down on as a dishonoring of their heritage. Kender are the halflings most likely to try autotinkering, but few install more than two or three modules before going elsewhere with their lives.
Alignment: Anybody can become a self-made man. All thatís required is the discipline to learn how to build oneself and the flexibility to adapt to an everchanging form. If these two philosophies seem at odds, it may help explain why self-made men donít cluster close to any particular alignment.
Starting Gold: 5D4x10 (125 GP).
Hit Die: D10.
Starting Age: Complex (as Wizard).
Table: The Self-Made Man
Class Skills (4 + Int modifier per level, x4 at 1st level): Appraise, Bluff, Decipher Script, Forgery, Handle Animal, Listen, Move Silently, Profession, Speak Language, Spellcraft, Use Rope.
Level BAB Fort Ref Will Modules Special 1st +0 +0 +0 +0 2 2 Components 2nd +1 +0 +0 +0 3 Activate (5 minutes) 3rd +2 +1 +1 +1 4 3 Components 4th +3 +1 +1 +1 5 Activate (1 minute) 5th +3 +1 +1 +1 6 4 Components 6th +4 +2 +2 +2 7 Activate (5 rounds) 7th +5 +2 +2 +2 8 5 Components, 1 Hyperthreading 8th +6 +2 +2 +2 9 Activate (1 round) 9th +6 +3 +3 +3 10 2 Hyperthreading 10th +7 +3 +3 +3 11 Activate (Standard) 11th +8 +3 +3 +3 12 1 Parallel Processing 12th +9 +4 +4 +4 13 Activate (move) 13th +9 +4 +4 +4 14 2 Parallel Processing 14th +10 +4 +4 +4 15 Activate (2/move) 15th +11 +5 +5 +5 16 3 Parallel Processing 16th +12 +5 +5 +5 17 Activate (2/swift) 17th +12 +5 +5 +5 18 4 Parallel Processing 18th +13 +6 +6 +6 19 Activate (any number/swift) 19th +14 +6 +6 +6 20 5 Parallel Processing, Hard Reset 20th +15 +6 +6 +6 21 Quad-Core, Cybernetic Apotheosis
A self-made manís sole asset is himself. As he levels, he learns to modify his body in more and more ways, both subtle and obvious.
Components (Ex): As a self-made man levels, he learns to construct components that he can install into his body. Each component attaches to different point on his body. He gets two components of his choice at first level, then gains an additional component every other level until he has unlocked all of them, as seen on Table: The Self-Made Man. He may only use modules if he has unlocked the corresponding component and that component has no active modules.
Modules: Each component can have one or more modules installed in it. A self-made man installs two modules at first level and learns an additional module with every class level. Each module is bound to a specific component. When he installs a module in a component that has no active module, he may immediately activate it.
Any module that provides a bonus to a skill gives an augmentation bonus equal to 1/2 the self-made manís class level unless otherwise stated, and skills so boosted may be used untrained. Any module that provides a bonus to an ability gives a +2 augmentation bonus, with an additional +1 for every four class levels. Any module that grants a bonus to a save brings that save from poor to good for his self-made man class levels.
Activation: A second-level self-made man can activate and deactivate installed modules at will, in order to switch which module is active for each installed component. He may deactivate an active module with 5 minutes of concentration, and activating a module always takes the same amount of time as deactivating one.
The time required to activate and deactivate modules decreases as he levels. It decreases to 1 minute (10 rounds) at level 4, 5 rounds at level 6, 1 round at level 8, a standard action at level 10, and a move action at level 12. At level 14 he can deactivate one module and activate another within the same move action. At level 16, he can do this as a swift action. And finally, at level 18, he can deactivate any number of modules and activate any number of others as a swift action.
Hyperthreading: A seventh-level self-made man can activate two modules within the same component, so long as one of those components is passive and the other is active. He may parallel process one component at seventh level and two at ninth level.
Parallel Processing: Starting at eleventh level, a self-made man can activate two modules within the same component, with no restriction. This initially applies to only one component (meaning that an eleventh level self-made man can hyperthread two components, parallel process a third, and have the remaining components behave normally). He gains the ability to parallel process an additional component every other level, until he can parallel process four at nineteenth level.
Hard Reset: A nineteenth level self-made man may reset all modules of one of his components as a full-round action. Doing so deactivates all of those modules. It also clears each module's cache, enabling him to select options without regard to what was previously selected, doing something like gaining a full bonus to a new skill with his Skill Chip or selecting a new set of skill tricks with with his Dancin' Feet.
Quad-Core: A twentieth level self-made man may have four modules in one component active at one time.
Cybernetic Apotheosis (Ex): A twentieth level self-made man is a perfect blending of machine and man. He may be treated as a construct instead of a creature of his previous type whenever it is beneficial to do so.
In addition, he gains the ability to alter his size. He may enable or disable this ability as a full-round action. Every time he enables it, he may alter his size by up to 2 size categories in either direction.
Component Module Skill Functionality A/P Arms Fists of Fury Disable Device Unarmed attacks are powerful, magic. A Arms Motor Control Craft Manipulation skill tricks, trapfinding, skill mastery P Arms Pneumatic Pistons Climb Strength bonus, base attack bonus. P Arms Retractable Claws Open Lock Magical claws, climb speed. A Arms Rocket Punch Perform Grab items or attack at range. A Face Bionic Eye Spot Decrease range penalties, see magic. P Face Cybersnout Gather Information Gain Track, Scent, Blindsense, Blindsight. P Face Food Processor Survival Magical bite, eat anything A Face Laser Eyes Intimidate Fire eye beam 1/round as attack. A Face X-Ray Specs Search Darkvision, sight canít be prevented. P Legs Adrenal Implant Escape Artist Extra movement and actions. A Legs Danciní Feet Balance Dexterity and reflex bonus, Movement skill tricks. P Legs Lightning Greaves Tumble Speed Increase. P Legs Parachute Pants Jump No fall damage, fly speed. A Legs Rain Boots Swim Pass without trace, emit fogs. A Mind Artificial Soul Autohypnosis Immunity to sleep and mental attacks. P Mind Battle Chip Ride Fighter feats. A Mind Empathy Chip Sense Motive Interaction skill tricks, wild empathy, detect thoughts. P Mind Neck Bolts Heal Energy resistance, heal from electricity. P Mind Overclocking Knowledge (All) Intelligence bonus, add Int to health, some attacks. A Mind Skill Chip Any Mental skill tricks, eidetic memory. A Torso 8Bit Heart Concentration Immunity to some physical attacks. P Torso Battery Upgrade Use Magic Device Boost the effect of other modules. A Torso Chrome-Plated Abs Diplomacy Charisma bonus, fast healing. P Torso Dermal Implants Disguise Fortitude save, natural armor bonus. P Torso Inside Pocket Sleight of Hand Secret storage space, extra carry capacity. A Torso Thermo-Optic Camo Hide Concealment and invisibility. A
Modules by component
Arms: Upper-extremity modules alter the userís strength and attacks.
Fists of Fury (Active)
Skill: Disable Device
These hand-shaped, artisanal gloves protect and reinforce the squishy flesh beneath. The self-made man gains improved unarmed strike and the unarmed strike damage of a monk his level. His unarmed attacks are magical attacks with an enhancement bonus of +1 for every four class levels, and bypass damage reduction as cold iron.
Motor Control (Passive)
Skill: Craft (any)
This module connects to the base of each finger, coordinating their movement. The self-made man gains a manipulation skill trick for which he meets the prerequisites, plus an additional such trick for every five class levels, although his selected skill tricks can change by only 1 skill trick per day. In addition, he gains trapfinding as a rogue his level, and skill mastery of a single skill of his choice that uses either strength or dexterity. He may change what skill is granted mastery once per day.
Pneumatic Pistons (Passive)
These implants allow the user to strike with great force. The self-made man gains a bonus to strength, and his base attack bonus for his class levels rises to full.
Retractable Claws (Active)
Skill: Open Lock
These claws rest inside the user's hand, and grow from between the knuckles when called on, emulating the world's fiercest predator, the badger. The self-made man may extend or retract the claws as a swift action. While out, he gains two primary claw attacks that deal 1D6 damage for a medium self-made man. These attacks count as magical weapons with a bonus of +1 for every four class levels and bypass damage reduction as adamantine. While using them, he has a +2 to disarm checks and cannot be disarmed in return if his disarm check fails.He also gains a climb speed equal to 5 feet for every two class levels.
Rocket Punch (Active)
A slight seam about the wrists is all that the casual onlooker will notice about this module. The self-made man can fire his hands at his enemies, using his unarmed strike, or melee weapons held in one hand, as ranged weapons with a range increment of 5 feet plus 5 feet for every two levels. These attacks use his normal melee attack bonus. Any limbs (and the items they hold) fired off in such a way return to him just before the start of his next action, and cannot be used in the meantime. However, these limbs are manipulable in this time, and can grab things or even make sleight of hand checks (although the sound may be a giveaway).
Legs: Lower-body modules generally boost the userís ability to move and react.
Adrenal Implant (Active)
Skill: Escape Artist
This module keeps the user on his feet and active at all times. The self-made man gains the ability to take a 5-foot step every round that he acts, regardless of what movement of actions he took during that round (including another 5-foot step). At fifth level, he may instead gain a swift action. At tenth level, he may instead gain a move action. At fifteenth level, he may instead gain a standard action.
Skill: Dancin' Feet (Passive)
These feet do the heavy lifting for the user when it comes to agility. The self-made man gains a bonus to dexterity and reflex saves. He also gains a movement skill trick for which he meets the prerequisites, plus an additional such trick for every five class levels, although his selected skill tricks can change by only 1 skill trick per day.
Lightning Greaves (Passive)
These powered leg sheathes give their users preternatural speed. The self-made manís base land speed increases by 5 feet, plus 5 feet for every three class levels.
Parachute Pants (Active)
These jet-assisted lower body enhancements guarantee a smooth landing, no matter the height. The self-made man no longer takes fall damage. At third level, he gains a fly speed equal to his land speed, up to a maximum of 5 feet per class level. His maneuverability is clumsy, but rises to poor at 5th level, average at 10th level, good at 15th level, and perfect at 20th level.
Rain Boots (Active)
This complex mechanical base emits sprays and mists to help its user move around the world unnoticed. When active, the self-made man can hide tracks and signs of himself plus one other party member per level when moving through the environment, similar to the spell Pass Without a Trace. He must walk through or next to the path of any party member whose presence is hidden this way, so that his boots can spray their tracks with the appropriate chemicals. At fifth level, he gains the ability to emit fog. As a standard action, his space fills with fog, granting concealment. If he then uses another standard action while while within this fog, it grows to a 10 foot radius, and if used again from within that, grows to a 15 foot radius. Further uses serve only to refresh the fog's duration. Line of sight within this fog is limited to 5 feet. At tenth level, he may emit a solid fog that is identical to the previous fog, but reduces all movement speeds by three quarters, to a minimum of 5 feet. At fifteenth level, he may add a poisonous mixture to his solid fog that deals each person within it 1D4 constitution damage for every round spent inside of the cloud (fortitude save DC 10 + 1/2 his class level + his constitution modifier negates). These fogs dissipate 5 rounds after he last spent an action to create them.
Face: Facial modules boost the userís ability to interact with the outside world.
Bionic Eye (Passive)
An insignificant corneal implant allows for much finer detail as well as a heads-up overlay. The self-made man gains a bonus to wisdom. In addition, he can stare at an object or direction for a full round. If he does so, halve the range penalties on the next roll he makes towards that spot (such as an active spot check to examine it or a ranged attack roll at a creature there), and he gains a bonus equal to his class level to confirm such an attack as a critical hit. This does not allow him to attack something outside of a weapon's maximum range. At fifth level, he can see the number and strength of magical auras within a range of 5 feet per class level, examining one such cone per round in this way as a free action, or able to see spell schools as a move action. He may also examine an item in his possession for a full minute to learn its properties, as the spell Identify.
Skill: Gather Information
This module has room for all of the sophisticated sniffing hardware its user could ask for. The self-made man gains track as a bonus feat. At fifth level, he gains scent. At tenth level, he gains blindsense at a range of 5 feet for every two class levels. At fifteenth level, his blindsense becomes blindsight.
Food Processor (Active)
A minor tweaking of the mouth and associated digestive areas enables this powerful metal module. The self-made man can eat literally any matter that his mouth can pulverize to gain this sustenance, although this module doesnít change the amount he must eat. He gains a bite attack that can be used as a primary natural attack and deals 1D6 points of damage for a medium self-made man. This bite attack counts as a magical weapon with +1 enhancement bonus for every four levels and bypasses damage reduction as alchemical silver.
Laser Eyes (Active)
Focusing lenses enable even a tiny power source to heat things up at range. Once per round, the self-made man can attack at range using his eyes. These count as a ray attack with a range of 10 feet per class level and deal 1D6 fire damage per class level.
X-Ray Specs (Passive)
This fits over the user's existing eyes with minimal fastening, enabling them to process expanded wavelengths of energy. The self-made man gains darkvision to a range of 60 feet or increases existing darkvision by this distance. He also ignores all penalties to vision due to concealment within 60 feet. At fifth level, he ignores enemy concealment entirely within this range. At tenth level, he ignores enemy cover in this range all cases except for his attack rolls, as he must still attack around it. The range of his darkvision, as well as his X-ray specs, increases to 120 feet. At fifteenth level he can distinguish reality from illusion by comparing all wavelengths of light, an effect identical to true seeing when detecting illusions, although it does not see through actual changes of matter such as polymorphing. As a move action, he can focus on the ethereal wavelengths to perceive that realm within 120 feet.
Mind: Brain-boosting modules can boost the userís understanding, memory, and recall. These modules can be installed anywhere on the body, but all connect to the same component, a mechanical bridge between the brain and the soul.
Artificial Soul (Passive)
Think like a construct. What does someone really need that much frontal lobe for, anyway? The self-made man gains immunity to sleep, paralysis, and stunning. If this module is active for at least 24 hours, he also has no need for sleep. At fifth level, he also gains immunity to massive damage, fatigue, and exhaustion. At tenth level, he gains immunity to mind-affecting effects. At fifteenth level, he also gains immunity to death effects and necromancy.
Battle Chip (Active)
Miniaturized and encoded data is rendered in a form the brain can digest and installed through an out-of-the-way head port. The self-made man gains a fighter feat for which he meets the prerequisites. For every five class levels, he gains another such feat, and he may use some of these feats to qualify for others. However, he may only switch 1 fighter feat gained from this module per day, even if the module is activated and deactivated multiple times in that span. For instance, a 10th level self-made man installs this module and activates it, gaining Point-Blank Shot, Rapid Shot, and Manyshot. The next day he uses the module again, and may gain Point-Blank Shot, Rapid Shot, and Power Attack. He does not use the module for multiple days, then reactivates it, gaining Power Attack, Cleave, and Great Cleave.
Empathy Chip (Passive)
Skill: Sense Motive
This module charges the brain's superior temporal sulcus, enhancing processing and analysis of facial expressions, voices, and other forms of conscious and unconscious communication. The self-made man gains an interaction skill trick for which he meets the prerequisites, plus an additional such trick for every five class levels, although his selected skill tricks can change by only 1 skill trick per day. In addition, he also gains wild empathy, as a druid of his class level. At fifth level, he gains the ability to detect the thoughts of living intelligent beings within 5 feet per class level by reading their microexpressions and analyzing their vital signs, as the spell, although this ability is extraordinary (DC 10 + 1/2 his class level + his charisma modifier).
Neck Bolts (Passive)
These fashionable and affordable metal screws rest in the neck, rerouting excess energy from the skin into more beneficial areas. The self-made man gains energy resistance equal to half his class level. At fifth level, he gains immunity to electricity. At tenth level, whenever he would take electricity damage, he instead heals one quarter of that damage, up to his maximum hit points. At fifteenth level, he heals half of the electricity damage dealt to him and also gains immunity to cold.
Skill: Knowledge (All)
This module doesnít change how its user thinks, beyond altering its efficacy (for the better). The self-made man gains a bonus to intelligence. At fifth level, he increases his current and maximum hit points by his intelligence bonus for as long as this module is active. At tenth level, he adds his intelligence bonus to his hit points a second time and, once per encounter, may decide to add intelligence to all attack and damage rolls for one attack. At fifteenth level, he adds his intelligence bonus to his hit points a third level and instead of his previous ability, may once per encounter add his intelligence bonus to all attacks, saves, checks, and damage rolls for one full round.
Skill Chip (Active)
Skill: Any (Augmentation bonuses do not stack)
This module replaces pieces of the Parietal lobe dedicated towards sensory and memory analysis. The self-made man gains a mental skill trick for which he meets the prerequisites, plus an additional such trick for every five class levels, although his selected skill tricks can change by only 1 skill trick per day. In addition, while this module is active, he gains perfect recall of all events he's experienced while the skill chip was active, even if it's been disabled in the meantime. He may select any skill for this module's skill bonus when activating it, but the bonus granted cannot exceed +2 for every day since he's had another skill selected.
Torso: Body-central modules boost the userís defense and stability.
8bit Heart (Passive)
The same size, but ten times more efficient. The self-made man no longer needs to breathe, becoming immune to suffocation as well as all inhaled substances. At fifth level, he gains immunity to poison and disease. At tenth level, he gains immunity to critical hits and nonlethal damage. At fifteenth level, he gains immunity to ability damage, ability drain, negative levels and energy drain.
Battery Upgrade (Active)
Skill: Use Magic Device
A battery pack inserted into the small of the back pumps juice to other modules. The self-made man may treat any other active module as though his level were 1 higher. For every five class levels, he gains an additional 1 level boost. He may stack these onto one module or spread them out in any fashion. For instance, a 10th level self-made man may give one module +2 and another +1. He my not reallocate this bonus, even if a boosted module is deactivated, except by deactivating and reactivating this module.
Chrome-Plated Abs (Passive)
These aren't an essential part of the human condition, which is what makes them so valuable. The self-made man gains a bonus to charisma. At fifth level, he gains fast healing equal to his class level divided by 5.
Dermal Implants (Passive)
Small platelets resting on and under the skin subtly indicate the presence of this module. The self-made man gains a bonus to fortitude saves. He also gains a natural armor bonus or a bonus to his existing natural armor equal to 1 plus 1 for every four class levels.
Inside Pocket (Active)
Skill: Sleight of Hand
Let's be honest, there's a lot of space in here that's just not used efficiently. The self-made man gains storage space that can only be accessed by himself; even noticing the seams requires a search check with a DC of 20 + his class level, or a spot check of 25 + his class level. He may store 1/2 of a cubic foot of matter per class level inside this pocket, and can store or retrieve an item as a move action that doesnít provoke an attack of opportunity. Any items stored within his chest are easier to carry, due to weight balancing and internal shocks, effectively taking one tenth of their normal weight.
Thermo-Optic Camo (Active)
This electrostatic netting knits into the skin, and upon activation, changes its appearance and distinction. The self-made man can make hide checks even while being observed, although he takes a -4 penalty when doing so, and creatures with blindsense, blindsight, and tremorsense do not automatically detect his location when he is hidden. At fifth level, he gains concealment, which among other benefits enables him to make hide checks at any time at no penalty. At tenth level, he no longer emits any scent, and cannot automatically be detected by touchsight, mindsight, or other unusual senses. He may spend a full-round action to become invisible for 5 rounds. If he is not wearing armor or significant clothing, this invisibility is an extraordinary ability, and thus cannot be defeated by See Invisibility or similar effects. At fifteenth level, he may spend a swift action to become invisible for 1 round. If he spends a swift action this way in consecutive rounds, he does not blink visible between uses.
The self-made man canít be used out of the box in every campaign.
The classís lighter tone and cheeky take on body modification doesnít always fit the mood, while its sci-fi posthuman leanings leave it particularly out of place when it comes to certain lower-fantasy settings. Itís a specialty class, requiring some amount of consideration from the DM to slot into an existing world.
But consider the following story.
Rockson Nigel was orphaned at a young age, and given to a monastery of Pelor to be raised. He attached himself to the monastic wing within a handful of years, and dedicated his life to their teachings. Unfortunately, he never could get into the exact mindset required to step onto their path of enlightenment. Was it his childish, impulsive streak? His need for progress that kept him from settling on a single mindset and honing it to perfection?
Then, one night, young Rockson got it. He jumped out of bed to show the initiate on duty right away. But, to his horror, he had not mastered the form of the empty palm. His meditation had done something different entirely, by making his hands as hard as metal.
Although his powers were not theirs, the monks continued to train him. He would spar, and sometimes win, and gradually made other breakthroughs. While the monks in his class mastered Wall of the Spider, Rockson found that by concentrating he could float to earth from any height, not needing a wall to help him down. While the monastery taught Unbreakable Mind, he was able to resist their Stunning Fists, and stay up all night besides.
Rockson is, of course, a self-made man. And to replace the Monkís unarmed strike, slow fall, and still mind, he learned Fists of Fury, Parachute Pants and Artificial Soul. He would discover that he had many more abilities that the monks of the order could never even dream of.
This spiritual warrior is an example of how the self-made man can be reflavored to fit another setting. Both interpretations of the class are equally valid, as is any other. They will all be as balanced as the unchanging, underlying mechanics.