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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground
    Mephibosheth's Avatar

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    Jul 2005
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    Default Snake Charmer: Wild Shape for Bards! [3.5, PrC]

    Snake Charmer

    The serpent is a powerful symbol. They are calculating, swift, deadly, and powerful. Most people fear their poison, their sharp fangs, and their crushing coils. There are some, however, who use the power of music to tame these dangerous creatures. Through the sound and movement of a flute or pipe, snake charmers can make snakes dance and sway.

    For most snake charmers, this practice is merely a performance trick; a way to earn money from an enraptured audience that is ignorant of their methods. There are some, however, for whom snake charming is a magical art. These rare individuals can actually alter the behavior of serpents through music. As they grow more powerful, they grow closer to their scaly servants, eventually taking on the shape of powerful snakes themselves.

    Snake charmers of all stripes lead itinerant lives, wandering from town to town providing entertainment, charming snakes from houses, and selling magic charms and herbal remedies. They are members of a large brotherhood, a single social group of street performers and magicians. They often claim common heritage, members of a single large extended family.

    Becoming a Snake Charmer
    All snake charmers must have levels in the bard class in order to gain access to the bardic music that fuels the class’ signature ability. Those who have levels in classes other than bard often train as sorcerers, where their high charisma helps power their magic. Rogues and other skillful classes also make good choices for the multiclass snake charmer, as their skill points can be invested in improvements to the social and mobility skills necessary to life on the road.

    Hit Dice: d6
    Skills: Perform (wind instruments) 8 ranks, Profession (street performer) 2 ranks, Sleight of Hand 2 ranks
    Spellcasting: Ability to cast 2nd level arcane spells
    Special: Bardic music
    Special: Must have survived a bite by a creature who delivers poison with its bite attack.
    Class Skills:
    The snake charmer’s class skills are: Appraise (Int), Balance (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Decipher Script (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Gather Information (Cha), Handle Animal (Cha), Hide (Dex), Jump (Str), Knowledge (all skills, taken individually) (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Speak Language (n/a), Spellcraft (Int), Survival (Wis), Swim (Str), Tumble (Dex), and Use Magic Device (Cha).
    Skill Points at Each Level: 6 + int modifier

    Table 1: Snake Charmer
    1|+0|+0|+2|+2|Bardic music, wild empathy, venom resistance +2|--
    2|+1|+0|+3|+3|Snake song (snakes)|+1 level of bardic spellcasting class
    3|+2|+1|+3|+3|Serpent companion, venom resistance +4|+1 level of bardic spellcasting class
    4|+3|+1|+3|+4|Serpent shape (medium)|--
    5|+3|+1|+4|+4|Venom resistance +6, nest of vipers|+1 level of bardic spellcasting class
    6|+4|+2|+5|+5|Snake song (animals)|+1 level of bardic spellcasting class
    7|+5|+2|+5|+5|Serpent shape (large), venom resistance +8|--
    8|+6|+2|+6|+6|Bite of the serpent|+1 level of bardic spellcasting class
    9|+6|+3|+6|+6|Venom resistance (immune)|+1 level of bardic spellcasting class
    10|+7|+3|+7|+7|Snake song (any), serpent shape (huge)|--[/table]

    Class Features

    Note: Several snake charmer class features have effects that are limited to "snakes or serpents." For all purposes related to snake charmer class features, "snakes or serpents" is defined as any creature of the animal or magical beast type with the word "snake" or "serpent" in its name. DMs may choose to expand this list to other creatures whose physiology is substantially similar.

    Bardic Music: Snake charmer levels stack with bard levels for the purpose of determining the your daily uses of your bardic music abilities, the value of the bonus granted by your inspire courage ability, and the level-dependent variables of your fascinate, suggestion, and mass suggestion bardic music abilities.

    Wild Empathy (Ex): You can improve the attitude of an animal. You use your Perform (wind instruments) modifier to determine the check result, but this ability functions in all other ways like the ranger ability of the same name.

    Venom Resistance (Ex): You have been bitten by poisonous snakes more times than you’d care to remember, and your body has developed a tolerance to venom. You gain a +2 bonus on Fortitude saves to resist the effects of poisons. This bonus increases by an additional +2 at 3rd, 5th, and 7th levels. Beginning at 9th level, you are immune to poison.

    Spellcasting: At levels 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, and 9, you gain new spells per day and spells known as if you had had also gained a level in a spellcasting class you belonged to before adding the prestige class, as shown on Table 1. You do not, however, gain any other benefit a character of that class would have gained. If you had more than one spellcasting class before becoming a snake charmer, you must decide to which class you add the new level for purposes of determining spells per day.

    Snake Song: As a snake charmer, your iconic ability is your musical influence over snakes. Beginning at 2nd level, you can use any of your bardic music abilities to affect snakes and serpents, even if they are normally language dependent or would not otherwise affect snakes. At 6th level, you can affect any animal with your bardic music. At 10th level, you can affect any creature, regardless of type, with your bardic music.

    Serpent Companion (Ex): At 3rd level, you gain a loyal serpent companion. Treat your serpent companion as a druid’s animal companion, with your bardic spellcasting level counting for all purposes as your druid level.

    When you gain this ability, you can choose from the following list: displacer serpent (Mini), flame snake (minor) (FF), sailsnake (MM4), sea snake (Huge or smaller) (Storm), snake (constrictor), and snake (Huge or smaller viper). When your effective druid level reaches 10 or higher, you can choose from the following additional serpent companions: dire snake (MM2), snake (giant constrictor). When your effective druid level reaches 13 or higher, you can choose a fire snake (lesser) (FF) as a serpent companion.

    Serpent Shape (Su): At 4th level, you gain the ability to take on a serpent form. This ability functions exactly like a druid’s wild shape ability, except you can only change into snake or serpent forms. Your bardic spellcasting level counts as your druid level for the purposes of this ability. At 4th level, you can change into any medium or smaller snake. You can change into larger snake forms at higher levels, as shown on Table 1. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to half your class level. If you have wild shape or any similar ability from another source, you cannot use serpent shape uses to fuel that ability.

    Nest of Vipers (Su): At 5th level, you add Summon Monster I-V, Summon Nature's Ally I-V, and Summon Swarm to your list of spells known. However, you can only use these spells to summon snakes or serpents. When you cast Summon Swarm, you summon a viper swarm (see below).

    Viper Swarm

    {table]Size/Type:|Tiny Animal (Swarm)
    Hit Dice:|4d8 (18 hp)
    Speed:|15 ft. (3 squares), climb 15 ft., swim 15 ft.
    Armor Class:|17 (+2 size, +3 Dex, +2 natural), touch 15, flat-footed 115
    Base Attack/Grapple:|+3/--
    Attack:|Swarm (1d6 plus poison)
    Full Attack:|Swarm (1d6 plus poison)
    Space/Reach:|10 ft./0 ft.
    Special Attacks:|Distraction, poison
    Special Qualities:|Scent
    Saves:|Fort +4, Ref +7, Will +2
    Abilities:|Str 4, Dex 17, Con 11, Int 1, Wis 12, Cha 2
    Skills:|Climb +11, Hide +7, Listen+7, Spot +7, Swim +11
    Feats:|Improved Initiative, Weapon Finesse (b), Ability Focus (poison)
    Environment:|Warm forests
    Organization:|Solitary, tangle (2-4 swarms), or nest (7-12 swarms)
    Challenge Rating:|2
    Alignment:|Always neutral
    Level Adjustment:|--[/table]

    Distraction (Ex): Any living creature that begins its turn with a viper swarm in its space must succeed on a DC 12 Fortitude save or be nauseated for 1 round. The save DC is Constitution-based.

    Poison (Ex): Injury, Fortitude DC 14, initial and secondary damage 1d6 Con. The save DC is Constitution-based.

    Skills: A viper swarm has a +8 racial bonus on Climb and Swim checks and can take 10 on these checks even if distracted or endangered. They use their Dexterity modifier for these checks instead of their Strength modifier. The swarm also has a +4 racial bonus on Hide, Listen, and Spot checks.
    Bite of the Serpent (Su): At 8th level, your affinity for serpents has become so close that you take on some of their characteristics, namely the pointed fangs and venomous bite of some of the deadliest snakes. You gain a bit attack that you can use as a secondary natural attack. This attack deals 1d3 points of piercing damage for a Medium creature. In addition, once per encounter it can inject a dose of viper poison on a successful hit. The save DC for this poison is equal to 10 + your class level + your Cha bonus. Finally, you also use this save DC for the poison special attack you gain whenever you use your serpent shape ability.

    Sidebar: Snake Charming for Performers
    Levels in this class need not be required for characters who simply want to charm snakes on the street for profit. In this case, DMs should allow the character to make a Perform (wind instruments) check and roll a Will save for the snake. If the snake’s Will save exceeds the Perform check, the snake has avoided being charmed and can act as normal. If the character’s Perform check exceeds the snake’s Will save, the snake has been charmed and will remain in one place and sway back and forth. Treat the snake as Fascinated as long as the character continues to play. A character who has charmed a snake and continues to do so for an extended duration in a public space should receive money as dictated by her Perform check result.
    Last edited by Mephibosheth; 2013-03-19 at 11:38 AM.
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  2. - Top - End - #2
    Ogre in the Playground
    FreakyCheeseMan's Avatar

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    Jul 2009

    Default Re: Snake Charmer: Wild Shape for Bards! [3.5, PrC]

    Love it for flavor. I've never played a bard, so I can't speak to it mechanically.

    You might consider adding some more summoning abilities into the mix... I can imagine one of these guys doing a pied piper sort of deal, but with snakes instead of rats... maybe even some ability that lets them summon a swarm of very small snakes.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Bugbear in the Playground
    Mephibosheth's Avatar

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    Default Re: Snake Charmer: Wild Shape for Bards! [3.5, PrC]

    Good idea! Done and done. Maybe my Google fu is weak today, but I couldn't find any snake swarms with a quick search so I just homebrewed my own and included it above. Thanks for the comments!
    Last edited by Mephibosheth; 2013-02-05 at 08:52 PM.
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