Fantasy and science fiction are full of characters with one weird arm that has some unique or special abilities. There are several types of grafts that allow you to play a character like that in D&D 3.5, but they tend to be rather expensive for what they give. So this template is an alternative to the grafts: instead of purchasing a graft with your wealth, you can have a weird, special arm for LA +1.
This template can be added to any creature that has arms. The creature retains all of its normal statistics and special abilities except as noted here.
When you select this template, you choose one of the aberrant arms described in the spoilers below, and that arm replaces one of the character's existing arms. The character gains all abilities described in the chosen spoiler (in addition to the general abilities listed here). In most cases, an aberrant arm cannot wear a ring or a hand-slot item (exceptions will be noted): a character with an aberrant arm therefore must sacrifice one ring slot, but he can still benefit from hand-slot or ring-slot items worn on his other hand(s). Even items that must normally be worn in pairs (e.g., gloves of Dexterity) can function properly when an aberrant-arm character wears only one of the pair. This does not reduce the cost of the item.
Additionally, NPCs tend to react negatively to aberrant arms, so a DM may choose to impose penalties on social checks if the character makes no effort to hide his aberrant arm. Some types of aberrant arm are easier to hide than others.
The character's natural armor bonus to AC increases by 1.
Ability Scores: +2 Str, +2 Con
As the base creature +1.
Each application of this template grants the abilities listed in one (and only one) of the spoilers below. Many of these arms are quite generic, and can be flavored in a variety of different ways using the same game mechanics. This is to allow maximum customizability around a simple, unified set of mechanics. Players are allowed to rename and reflavor these arms as they see fit.
You may apply this template more than once, and you may select any type of arm each time you apply it. You may even select the same type of arm multiple times, in which case, the untyped benefits and penalties are cumulative. The character must have an unmodified arm in order to take this template, so no character can have more iterations of this template than he has arms.
Spoiler: Clawed Arm
This is the simplest of aberrant arms that can be grafted onto a creature. It is simply an arm with claws at the tips of the fingers. The exact nature and appearance of the arm is left up to the player and/or DM to decide. It may be the arm of a beast, a skeletal arm, or just a normal-looking arm with elongated nails or artificial claws.
The claws do not interfere with the normal use of the hand, so the grafted character can use a clawed hand normally, and she does not suffer any penalties to skill checks or ability checks. Unilke other aberrant arms, this arm can still wear a ring or hand-slot item, and such items do not interfere with the claw attack. This aberrant arm is relatively easy to conceal with a glove or a pocket or simple discretion on the character's part. Depending on the chosen appearance, it may or may not evoke negative reactions from humanoid NPCs.
This arm grants a single natural claw attack that deals 1d6 piercing and slashing damage (for a Medium creature).
A character with a clawed arm can make a full attack at the end of a charge, as long as at least one attack is made with her claw.
This arm does not interfere with skill usage. In fact, the claws grant a +2 bonus on Climb checks
Spoiler: Fiery Arm
This aberrant arm is taken from a fire elemental or other similar creature of flame. The exact appearance of the arm may vary: it may appear mostly normal, or have an unusual color, or it may even be comprised of cracked lava or semisolid flame. Regardless of its appearance, it is always very hot to the touch.
A fiery arm can be used to wield weapons and manipulate objects for 2 rounds (provided the objects are not flammable), but any item held longer will automatically take the character's Burn damage (see below) each round thereafter. This aberrant arm is moderately easy to conceal with some discretion, though it will tend to burn through a glove or other covering that isn't properly protected. It tends to evoke negative reactions from humanoid NPCs.
This arm grants a single natural slam attack that deals 1d6 bludgeoning damage.
As a free action, a character with a fiery arm can ignite the arm with roaring flames that do not harm her or her gear. When the arm is ignited, it casts light as a torch. Additionally, a slam attack or unarmed strike made with the ignited arm deals an additional 1d6 points of fire damage on a successful hit.
Alternately, while the arm is ignited, the character can make a melee touch attack against an opponent as an attack action. If this attack hits, the opponent does not take Burn damage, but must make a Ref save or catch fire. The fire burns for 1d4 rounds. The saving throw is Con-based.
A character with a fiery arm gains Resistance to fire 10.
Although the fiery arm can be used to wield weapons or manipulate objects, the character must be cautious to avoid burning or melting things he touches. This gives him a -2 penalty on all skill checks that require fine motor skills.
Spoiler: Incorporeal Arm
This aberrant arm is taken from or copied from an incorporeal creature, such as a ghost or wraith. It is completely incorporeal, so it cannot wield a corporeal weapon or shield, and it cannot manipulate corporeal objects. However, it can do anything that an incorporeal appendage could be expected to do, such as pass through walls and objects unimpeded, and touch objects without setting off traps or spells that are triggered by touch.
This aberrant arm is moderately easy to conceal with baggy clothing, but it can be tricky. It tends to evoke negative reactions from humanoid NPCs.
A character with an incorporeal arm does not gain the +1 natural armor bonus this template normally grants. Instead, he gains a +1 deflection bonus to his Armor Class.
This arm grants a single incorporeal touch attack that deals either 1d6 untyped damage, or 1d4 Str damage. The player may choose which effect his incorporeal touch has with each attack he makes. Additionally, the character can qualify for feats and other options that can improve an incorporeal touch attack as if he were incorporeal (e.g. he qualifies for some Ghost feats from Ghostwalk (Path of the Corrupter), and the Improved Ability Damage feat from Libris Mortis).
A character with an incorporeal arm does not gain the +2 Str bonus this template normally grants.
Due to the inability of the arm to interact with most physical objects, the character is slightly handicapped when it comes to manual tasks. The character takes a -2 penalty on all skill checks that require fine motor skills.
Spoiler: Morphing Arm
This aberrant arm is made from a semi-fluid substance or other shapeable material that can be molded into various simple shapes by mental action, allowing it to be used as a utility item for a wide range of different purposes (see the "Shaping" special quality below).
Anybody who sees the hand up close can tell that it is not a normal, natural hand, but it likely only evokes minor negative reactions from humanoid NPCs. However, an NPC who witnesses the arm changing shape is likely to respond negatively, potentially strongly so. The arm is quite easy to hide with a glove or a pocket, so care on the part of the character can ease these problems.
A morphing arm can be shifted into a simple structure suitable for use in combat as a natural weapon. In weaponized form, the arm deals 1d6 points of damage (for a Medium character), it threatens a critical hit on a natural roll of 20, and it deals double damage on a successful critical hit. It is treated as a natural attack, and as a mastework weapon. It cannot be shaped to mimic the properties or abilities of a specific weapon (such as a scimitar or a spiked chain), and cannot mimic the properties of any special material; but it can be shaped to deal either bludgeoning, piercing or slashing damage (only one at a time, chosen independently each time the arm is shaped). The exact shape is not important, and the player may choose any shape appropriate to the damage type selected each time the arm is weaponized. However, the arm cannot increase the character's reach, function as a ranged weapon of any kind, or be wielded as a two-handed weapon.
A character with this arm can take a weapon-specific feat, such as Weapon Focus, with its morphing arm, and the benefit will apply to the arm in any weaponized shape, regardless of which type of damage it is dealing. Similarly, the weapon can be enchanted as any other weapon, and the enhancements and magical properties apply regardless of the current shape of the arm (though some properties, such as keen, will only work for certain shapes the arm has taken).
In its standard form, a morphing arm is similar in shape to a normal arm for the character's race, and it can perform any task a normal hand for the character's race could perform with no difficulties. It can even wear magic items as normal for a creature of the character's race.
However, this arm can be mentally commanded to take on different shapes. Altering the arm's shape takes the same kind of action as drawing a weapon, and the arm remains in the chosen shape until the character chooses to change it again. In any form other than its standard from, the arm can no longer accommodate any wearable items, and any items worn on the hand or arm fall off.
If the character dies or is knocked unconscious, or the arm is severed from the body, the arm reverts to its standard form. This is not a magical effect, so the arm always looks like its current form under the effect of true seeing or similar magic.
Morphic Tools (Ex)
A morphing arm can also be molded into various shapes that allow it to function as a masterwork tool for any of the following skills: Balance, Climb, Craft, Disable Device, Escape Artist, Forgery, Open Lock, Sleight of Hand, Swim or Use Rope. When used this way, it takes a shape appropriate for the task, such as a walking stick for a Balance check, a lock pick for an Open Lock check, etc. While the arm is in the shape of a tool for a particular skill, the character takes a -2 penalty on all other checks that require fine-motor skills except checks related to the particular skill, which gain the usual +2 circumstance bonus granted by a masterwork tool.
The arm can also be molded into various other simple shapes, which may allow it to be useful for other minor purposes. For example, it could potentially be shaped to function as a crowbar, a hammer or even an inkpen; or could be formed into an eyelet through which a rope could be fed, or a bowl or cup shape to hold a small amount (perhaps a few handfuls) of liquid or douse a lantern, etc. But it cannot provide any kind of skill or check bonus other than for the specific skills listed above. It cannot take shapes with moving parts, flexible shapes (such as a rope or chain), shapes with specific material properties (such as a magnifying glass) or shapes that extend beyond the character's normal reach, and no portion of the arm can be detached from the character's body unless forcefully removed (in which case, it cannot be reattached without a regenerate spell or specialized surgery).
Spoiler: Pincer Arm
This aberrant arm is a large, powerful pincer, like that of a crab or scorpion. It is too large and ungainly to wield a weapon or shield, or to manipulate objects., but it has a strong grip.
This aberrant arm is difficult to conceal, due to its bulk. It tends to evoke strongly negative reactions from humanoid NPCs.
The pincer arm can be used much like a shield, granting a +1 shield bonus to AC. The character does not lose this bonus when using her arm to make a pincer attack.
This arm grants a single natural pincer attack that deals 1d6 bludgeoning damage (for a Medium creature).
If the character hits with her pincer attack, she can immediately attempt a Grapple check as a free action. This Grapple check does not provoke an attack of opportunity. If the character successfully establishes a hold, she deals automatic pincer damage with every successful grapple check until the opponent escapes. The character gains a +2 racial bonus on Grapple checks made using the pincer.
In each round in which the character maintains a Grapple with its pincer, she deals automatic pincer damage each time she grapples to deal damage. This is in addition to the damage she deals from her Improved Grab ability.
Due to the size and rigidity of the pincer arm, the character takes a -2 penalty on all skill checks that require fine motor skills.
Spoiler: Serpent Arm
This aberrant arm is actually the anterior portion of a viper, with the snake's head and mouth instead of a hand. This arm is flexible and dexterous, but cannot be used to wield a weapon or shield, or to manipulate objects.
This aberrant arm is somewhat difficult to conceal, but can be readily concealed with baggy clothing. It tends to evoke strong negative reactions from humanoid NPCs.
This arm grants a +1 bonus on all Initiative checks, due to the increased alertness and rapid-striking ability of the serpent head.
This arm grants a single natural bite attack that deals 1d4 piercing damage (for a Medium creature) and delivers a necrotizing venom.
Initial and secondary damage is 1d6 Con, and the Fort save DC is Con-based, with a +2 racial bonus.
The character gains a +2 bonus on all Escape Artist checks, due to the flexibility and dexterity of the serpent arm. She also gains a +2 bonus on all Spot checks, due to the extra pair of eyes on her serpent arm. However, since the arm lacks a hand capable of fine manipulation, the character takes a -2 penalty on all skill checks that require fine motor skills.
Spoiler: Spinneret Arm
This aberrant arm is mostly normal, except that the forearm is swollen in an odd (and sometimes grotesque) fashion to accommodate the silk gland of a monstrous spider, along with a valve to propel the silk out at the speed of a crossbow bolt.
This arm is somewhat difficult to conceal, but can be partially concealed with baggy clothing. It tends to evoke negative or even strongly negative reactions from humanoid NPCs.
A number of times per day equal to 2 + its Con modifier, a creature with this aberrant arm can throw a web like a monstrous spider. This is similar to an attack with a net but has a range increment of 10 feet (maximum 5 increments), and is effective against targets of up to one size larger than the creature with the spinneret. The web anchors the target in place, allowing no movement.
An entangled creature can escape with a DC 13 Escape Artist check or burst the web with a DC 17 Strength check. The check DCs are Constitution-based, and the Strength check DC includes a +4 racial bonus. The web has 6 hit points, hardness 0, and takes double damage from fire.
Spoiler: Strong Arm
This aberrant arm is massive and heavy. The exact nature and appearance of the arm is left up to the player and/or DM to decide. It may be a massive appendage made of stone or wood, or just an overly large mutant arm. This arm is not dexterous, and cannot be used to wield a weapon or shield, or to manipulate objects.
This aberrant arm is difficult to conceal, though it can be partially concealed with baggy clothing. It may evoke negative reactions (or even strongly negative reactions) from NPCs, especially if it has a grotesque appearance.
The strong arm can be used much like a shield, granting a +1 shield bonus to AC. The character does not lose this bonus when using his arm to make a slam attack.
This arm grants a single natural slam attack that deals 1d10 bludgeoning damage (for a Medium creature).
A character with a strong arm counts as one size category larger on opposed Str checks (including Bull Rush, Grapple, Overrun, Sunder and Trip attempts).
Ability Scores: +4 Str, -2 Dex (in addition to the ability score modifiers from the base template)
Due to the size and rigidity of the strong arm, the character takes a -2 penalty on all skill checks that require fine motor skills.
This aberrant arm is a long, highly flexible appendage with a powerful grip, like a tentacle or a vine. The tentacle cannot be used to wield weapons, but it is dexterous enough that the character does not take a penalty to skill checks involving manual dexterity. In addition, the tentacle can be used to help load (but not shoot) a ranged weapon, so the character can load crossbows and slings as if he had two proper hands.
This aberrant arm is difficult to conceal, and it tends to evoke strongly negative reactions from humanoid NPCs.
This arm grants a single natural tentacle attack that deals 1d4 bludgeoning damage (for a Medium creature). The tentacle has a natural reach 5 ft longer than the base creature's usual reach.
If the character hits with his tentacle attack, he can immediately attempt a Grapple check as a free action. This Grapple check does not provoke an attack of opportunity. If the character successfully establishes a hold, he deals automatic tentacle damage with every successful grapple check until the opponent escapes.
A character with a grafted tentacle gains a +4 bonus on Escape Artist checks, due to the extremely flexible nature of the tentacle.
Spoiler: Weapon Graft
This aberrant arm is a mostly normal, except that the hand has been replaced by a single manufactured weapon. Because the character lacks a hand on this arm, he cannot use this arm to wield other weapons or manipulate objects.
This aberrant arm is difficult to conceal. It may evoke negative reactions (or possibly even strongly negative reactions) from humanoid NPCs.
The grafted weapon can be any light or one-handed weapon of the player's choice. The player may also select a hand crossbow or a shield (but not a tower shield), if he wishes. If he selects a hand crossbow, he does not need a free hand to reload it, and he can reload it as a free action. If he selects a shield, it grants its usual shield bonus, and he does not incur an armor check penalty.
The character must purchase the weapon and any ammunition, but the weapon is automatically considered masterwork, with no need to pay the masterwork price. If the player chooses a shield, it counts as a masterwork weapon for bashing, and he retains his shield bonus when using the shield to bash; but it does not count as a masterwork shield for defense: the character must pay the cost of masterwork for the shield separately. The weapon can be magically enhanced as any other manufactured weapon.
A character with a grafted weapon is intimately familiar with his weapon, because it is as much a part of his body as his own hand. He may treat the weapon as a manufactured weapon or as a natural weapon, interchangeably, as he sees fit (though he cannot give himself additional attacks by choosing both in the same round). His grafted weapon counts as a light weapon whenever it would be beneficial for him, such as when fighting with two weapons or using the Weapon Finesse feat, but he can never wield it with two hands. The grafted weapon cannot be disarmed.
Lacking a hand on one of his arms, the character takes a -2 penalty on all skill checks that require fine motor skills.
A character with a weapon graft is automatically proficient with his grafted weapon. Additionally, he gains Weapon Focus and Weapon Specialization with his grafted weapon as bonus feats, even if he does not meet the prerequisites.
Variant: Modular Weapon Graft
A character with this variant can attach or detach his grafted weapon with 1 minute of work. This allows him to switch out his grafted weapon, so he may keep multiple different weapon grafts, and he can easily hide his aberrant arm when no weapon is attached. However, each weapon graft must be modified to attach to his arm nub, which costs an extra 300 gp. Such weapons cannot only be wielded as weapons when attached to his arm nub. The Weapon Focus and Weapon Specialization features he gained from this template apply to whichever weapon he has attached at the time.
Spoiler: Webbed Hand
This aberrant arm is relatively normal, though it bears large webbing between the fingers. Although the webbing does hinder the mobility of the fingers, the fingers are still capable of operating mostly normally. A character with a webbed hand can wear hand-slot items normally, but must still sacrifice a ring slot.
This arm grants a single slam attack that deals 1d4 bludgeoning damage (for a Medium creature).
Slippery Touch (Ex)
A creature with this arm can choose to coat its webbed hand with a slippery, mucousy substance. Any creature struck by a webbed hand has one arm (or other appendage) covered in grease (as the grease spell). The creature with the webbed hand must declare which arm will be struck prior to making the attack roll. It can also deliver this attack as a touch attack, targeting a creature's arm or a specific item carried by another creature. If the attack succeeds, the targeted arm or item becomes slippery, and the target creature must succeed on a Ref save (DC = 10 + HD/2 + Con modifier) or drop the greased item or any item held in the greased hand.
Aquatic Action (Ex)
This arm functions efficiently underwater. Whenever the creature performs an action with this arm that would be hindered underwater, it may ignore the hindrance as if it were under a continuous freedom of movement effect.
A webbed hand does not interfere with a creature's fine-motor activities. Due to the smooth and slick nature of the scales on the arm, the creature gains a +2 bonus on all Escape Artist checks.
Additionally, the arm is an effective swimming aid, granting the creature a +4 bonus on all Swim checks, and allowing the creature to Swim at its full speed instead of half speed.
Multiple Webbed Hands
A creature can choose to make both hands into webbed hands. This gives her added benefits, but also some added drawbacks. She forfeits both ring sloths, and takes a -2 penalty on all fine motor tasks. In exchange, she gains a racial Swim speed equal to her base land speed, a +8 racial bonus on all Swim checks, and can take 10 on any Swim check, even when rushed or threatened. And, it can use the run action while swimming. She also gains a +2 bonus to her Con score (in addition to the +2 Con granted by the base template).
Spoiler: Designer Commentary
I thought it would be nice to have a template that supports this classic concept, but the template itself seems pretty weak and bland overall, mechanically speaking.