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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Planetar

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    Default PrCs for "civilians" and noncombatants

    I'm working on a Tippyverse (D&D 3.5) sort of setting, where multiple cosmopolitan high fantasy megacities exist. While most NPCs are level 2-5, there are so many level 7-15 NPCs that many of them are barely ever involved in proper high-level training or combat. Therefore many of them do NOT have PC-like builds, aren't optimized, and keep on living mostly normal lives despite their unusually potent skills and abilities. I was going to run them as high-leveled single-classed people with builds optimized for everyday needs and Skills, but then I realized that this could be an excellent opportunity to showcase some weirder PrCs that never see play!

    Which PrCs are mostly good out of combat? Which PrCs are mechanically suboptimal, yet are interesting or having unique abilities that could be monetized somehow by someone looking for a niche that a similarly leveled Wizard couldn't fill better?

    In this setting, people with actual combat training or responsibilities generally get training, and therefore have "good" builds and sensible gear louadouts. Weird PrCs are the province of isolated wilderness-people, of significant merchant conglomerates (or similar) with specific and unusual goals in mind, of people who are experimenting and are hoping to discover the "next big thing" in magical warfare once they reach their capstone, and of "civilians" who mostly level through noncombat encounters and who don't need to tailor their abilities towards combat or survival.

    tl;dr : I'm looking for weird and interesting PrCs that could get featured among high-level civilians, or PrCs that a merchant or artisan would have reason to take.

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    Most people cannot ever bypass level 5, and most of the fraction which can are capped at level 10. The lucky few who can reach level 11-15 generally don't ever truly die outside of times of inter-city war (they can afford to pay for a Rezz, and if they save up they can even afford to pay for a means of negating ageing), so while there are level 11-15 civilians they'll mostly be really old.
    In this sort of setting, PCs are important after level 11 (they have more potential than most, and cities keep track of their citizens over level 11 because they will be conscripted and retrained in times of war) and truly exceptional after level 15. Before that they are powerful, but no more so than a law enforcement SWAT team, and therefore their adventures have to be thought out to suit that.

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    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: PrCs for "civilians" and noncombatants

    Originally Posted by TalonOfAnathrax
    I'm working on a Tippyverse (D&D 3.5) sort of setting, where multiple cosmopolitan high fantasy megacities exist.
    I’d be very interested in seeing more details on your setting, if you don’t mind sharing.

    Originally Posted by TalonOfAnathrax
    Which PrCs are mechanically suboptimal, yet are interesting or having unique abilities that could be monetized somehow by someone looking for a niche that a similarly leveled Wizard couldn't fill better?
    From the Book of Exalted Deeds, the Apostle of Peace and the Celestial Mystic may have features that fit what you’re looking for.

    An Apostle of Peace would be great for riot control and other situations where quelling a mob nonlethally is required. The Celestial Mystic has a number of odd little features, including improved Knowledge checks, and the Blessing of the Illuminated Heaven, which could have applications for live performances.

    Like I said, somewhat odd, but worth a look.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: PrCs for "civilians" and noncombatants

    I've always had a soft spot for the 'watch detective' prc from masters of the wild. It's basically exactly what it says on the tin, a class that makes you a very good investigator. I'm not certain if they'd be better than a wizard of the same level that was purposefully built as a detective, but they get a lot of the same tools spell-wise, and deductive augury is actually a pretty nice tool that's fairly hard to replicate.
    Jasnah avatar by Zea Mays

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    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: PrCs for "civilians" and noncombatants

    Originally Posted by DeTess
    I've always had a soft spot for the 'watch detective' prc from masters of the wild.
    Seconded. I love just about anything from that book.

    And from that same book, I’d also recommend the Bloodhound, which seems to fit the OP’s interest in having abilities useful out of combat. Apart from the tracking focus, the Shatter and Fracture abilities could have all manner of interesting applications, from simple bank heists to clearing barricades to siegecraft against castles and walled cities. A band of Bloodhounds using their Fracture ability against a defensive wall could have the same effect as a cannon, and their ability to Ignore Magical Barriers would make them all the more difficult to counter.

    Originally Posted by DeTess
    I'm not certain if they'd be better than a wizard of the same level that was purposefully built as a detective….
    This is the real catch in the OP’s request, because with enough effort a wizard can probably be built to outperform just about anything else on the market.

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    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: PrCs for "civilians" and noncombatants

    Merchant Prince has some interesting features and is, as the name suggests, focused around business. Goldeye also has some interesting money themed stuff.

    Jordain Vizier is almost entirely defensive/utility, but could be fairly useful in social situations.

    Master Inquisitive is another detective sort of class, though not as distinctive as watch detective.
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    Titan in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: PrCs for "civilians" and noncombatants

    High Handcrafter (from Shackled City) is an interesting one.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: PrCs for "civilians" and noncombatants

    i know it's not exactly what you asked, since it's homebrew and it's a base class, but maybe the "specialized expert" npc class linked in my signature could interest you
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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: PrCs for "civilians" and noncombatants

    There's a prestige class in Magic of Faerun that can put 9th-level spells into potions.

    Other than that, Exemplar comes to mind.

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    Default Re: PrCs for "civilians" and noncombatants

    I was gonna say Exemplar too -- bland, but effective. Lots of Complete Adventurer could qualify, really. Ollam, Beastmaster, Dread Pirate, both Shadowbanes and both Nightsongs, Virtuoso ...

    Quote Originally Posted by TalonOfAnathrax View Post
    Weird PrCs are the province of isolated wilderness-people
    Tack on Animal Lord too, then.

    Here's another from Masters of the Wild: the Oozemaster. Having those touch damage effects at will would make a major difference in many professions, from quarrying to thievery to waste control.

    Tattooed Monk has some interesting and helpful abilities.
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    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: PrCs for "civilians" and noncombatants

    Originally Posted by DarkSoul
    Other than that, Exemplar comes to mind.
    I've been trying to remember the name of that PrC ever since I first opened this thread. I kept thinking it was "master" something, which led me in the wrong direction.

    But yes, seconding Exemplar as a strong candidate here.

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    Default Re: PrCs for "civilians" and noncombatants

    Dungeon Lord from Dungeonscape gives you bonuses while within a specific location, making it pretty great for librarians, butlers, etc. Lv1 lets you automatically notice when something has been moved or disturbed, plus move at full speed in the dark or through difficult terrain, and open/close even concealed doors as a free action. Lv2 lets you dimension door a few times per day. Lv3 gives you at-will alarm and clairaudience/clairvoyance, and lets you share the lv1 movement bonuses with your allies. Lv4 lets you animate objects, and lv5 gives you Leadership + immunity to fear.

    Eberron has a good deal of stuff for this, like the Dragonmark Heir PrC.

    EDIT: Bane of InfidelsMotW can create a permanent zone of truth, and has the ability to detect traitors with no saving throw.
    Last edited by Prime32; 2020-03-29 at 10:54 AM.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    ElfPirate

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    Default Re: PrCs for "civilians" and noncombatants

    Dread Pirate (Complete Adventurer) already got mentioned up-thread, but I'll second it. In addition to giving you some solid bonuses to Profession (sailor), it gives your entire crew half that bonus. Legendary Captain (Stormwrack) may be even better; it doesn't help your crew the same way DP does, but with an already competent crew it lets your ship do things that would be literally impossible for other captains, from sailing faster to dodging fireballs.

    There've been a lot of suggestions for detectives, but Witchborn Binders (Magic of Incarnum) would make for interesting police officers, especially in a setting with a lot of magic users.
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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: PrCs for "civilians" and noncombatants

    Do NPCs know what the upper limit of their potential is? Or are people who hit level 6 typically surprised? People who never thought they were going to reach high enough levels to take PrCs probably didn't go out of their way to meet the prerequisites for anything.

    I'd be inclined to make many of the NPCs Artificers. I assume there are lots of magic items running around your setting, so it would add verisimilitude. And that's a career with job security. Everyone always wants more magic items, but not everyone is willing to go through all the training needed to learn how to make them. I could see fantasy governments launching initiatives to get more people interested in artificing the way real governments try to get people interested in STEM fields.

    There's gotta be at least one Geometer around, making ultra-compact spellbooks for the wealthiest of Wizards.

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    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: PrCs for "civilians" and noncombatants

    Originally Posted by Maat Mons
    People who never thought they were going to reach high enough levels to take PrCs probably didn't go out of their way to meet the prerequisites for anything.
    This seems like a weird sort of in-universe metagaming. I doubt if most people in a fantasy world would think about “PrCs” or “prerequisites,” since those aren’t typically in-world concepts. More likely people follow their interests when they can, double down on the essentials when they have to, and make do every day with whatever they’ve got.

    Or, as John Lennon is frequently misquoted: “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans.”

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: PrCs for "civilians" and noncombatants

    Survivor PrC (Savage Species)
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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: PrCs for "civilians" and noncombatants

    We're talking about a universe in which most people abruptly cease to be able to learn new things long before they die. They may not know what levels are, or that theirs are capped, but they darn well will notice that everyone, no mater how long they live, has a finite capacity for knowledge. And they'll notice that filling their heads up with one thing means that there's no room for something else. And then things will get meta-game-y AF.

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    Orc in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: PrCs for "civilians" and noncombatants

    Yes, people are somewhat aware of metagame concerns. Optimized builds are passed down by teachers, and people are aware that not all souls have the same capacity for growth (XP is soul-stuff). Spells like Magic Jar allowed for experimentation and sensing HD, and educated people know that some people are capped at certain "sizes".
    Most people are indeed surprised to hit level 6, shocked if they ever hit level 11 (although most people who can hit level 11 never level that far in the first place), and flabbergasted if they're one of the lucky few to hit 16.
    However when someone hits 6, they will often retrain a feat to qualify for a PrC. I'm running with the following idea : complicated or gimmicky qualification builds require specific training (provided by elite schools, specific guilds or noble families, governments, etc). However basic PrCs are often attained accidentally, with the retraining happening as part of the learning and practicing process. And of course some PrCs are widely available. Exemplar is a PrC which is surprisingly easy to find training for, for example - as long as you have the money you'll doubtlessly find a teacher in any large city.
    Furthermore, generally signing up with a government job will give access to specific training. The megacities are in a sort of Cold War (MAD and all) so they will often provide retraining into a decent build as long as you join the civil defense or reserve forces. This is a responsibility which can occasionally be dangerous, so not everyone does it, but everyone who hopes that a crisis won't break out generally takes the deal.

    I saw Panalan's question about the setting, and I'll write something up tomorrow.

    Thanks a lot for the responses, everyone! I appreciate it, and will obviously keep checking this thread in case any more ideas pop up.
    All I had come up with was Ardent Dilettante (for idle nobility), Mole or Earth Dreamer (as something that would "naturally" arise among proles who live beneath the city), and Stoneface (used by criminals dealing with a high-magic police force). Your suggestions are great, and will definitely help me add some build variety to a setting in which people explicitly go looking for it!

    One of my players really cares about this stuff, and often has a character motivation that goes "find out more about the path to power that these people are using". It's really just a variation on the "my wizard wants to learn all the spells" or "my monk wants to spar with practitioners of every martial art form in the world", but it makes it difficult for me as GM to simply slap a quirky ability on an NPC and call it a day - if it's interesting, he'll try to investigate! On the other hand, I think that if I start using weirder PrCs it'll definitely be appreciated and investigated, so thanks a lot to everyone who posted in this thread!

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    Default Re: PrCs for "civilians" and noncombatants

    Semi-related: Masters of the Wild has an lv1 druid spell called power sight which can be cast on a creature to instantly learn its HD total, with no saving throw or spell resistance allowed. It makes a good candidate for wands and rods, particularly for necromancers who want to judge the raw material of their skeletons and zombies.

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    Default Re: PrCs for "civilians" and noncombatants

    If you use the d20 Rokugan Campaign Setting book, there are a couple of PrCs that are more socially focused and less focused on combat.

    Mastermind PrC is about boosting your Leadership score and Cohort, as well as gaining Favors. Using a Favor is a Charisma check and can either be a service rendered or of monetary value.
    Artisan PrC is an artisan-type without having to dip into Bard first. It gets some special performance abilities, and some of those resemble spells, some bonuses to social skills, and lastly gets to upgrade the type of dice rolled when determining the amount of money they make from a performance.
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    Default Re: PrCs for "civilians" and noncombatants

    Psi-Hunter (Dragon #281) generates a continuous catapsi aura, is immune to detection by any psionic ability, can create a permanent null psionics field, and has 5 levels of useful spells including antimagic field, dispel magic, globe of invulnerability, spell immunity and true seeing. It can explicitly use these spells against psionics even when the "Psionics is Different" variant is in play. In theory you could take Don Mantle (Magic) to hide from all magical detection as well.

    Windsinger (Dragon #294) gets forms of bardic music that can be used continuously for hours at a time (or indefinitely if you're immune to nonlethal damage). Most of them are related to controlling wind and weather conditions, but there's also an option which prevents listeners (other than the windsinger) from receiving fatigue, exhaustion, or nonlethal damage from over-exertion.
    Last edited by Prime32; 2020-03-30 at 03:40 PM.

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    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: PrCs for "civilians" and noncombatants

    Originally Posted by TalonOfAnthrax
    Yes, people are somewhat aware of metagame concerns.

    …Most people are indeed surprised to hit level 6, shocked if they ever hit level 11 (although most people who can hit level 11 never level that far in the first place), and flabbergasted if they're one of the lucky few to hit 16
    .
    Fair enough, although I think it’s safe to say this is well outside the usual approach to most game worlds.

    Originally Posted by Maat Mons
    We're talking about a universe in which most people abruptly cease to be able to learn new things long before they die.
    This in particular seems like an extremely peculiar extrapolation of game rules to in-world effects.

    For me there’s a clear difference between the ability to continue learning on the one hand, and the results of that learning having a quantifiable effect on performance on the other.

    Originally Posted by Maat Mons
    …that everyone, no mater how long they live, has a finite capacity for knowledge. And they'll notice that filling their heads up with one thing means that there's no room for something else.
    Again, it seems a much-too-literal extrapolation of game rules. It places constraints on learning and behavior which simply don’t exist in the real world, and to which there is no reason to adhere in a game world, other than as an extension of rules which are only convenient approximations, and which were never intended to be applied so literally.

    I’m sure a narrowly argued case can be built for it, but it’s not a game world I’d want to play in, much less live in. If the OP’s players enjoy it, then fair enough.

    Originally Posted by TalonOfAnthrax
    I saw [Palanan’s] question about the setting, and I'll write something up tomorrow.
    Thanks, I’ll be looking forward to it.

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