The Commander

Note: The following is one chapter (the only one inspired by Erfworld) in a new free 30,000-word prestige class splat book I just released in a beta version. Please go here to download this PDF ebook treasury of twelve Pathfinder RPG prestige classes and one playable race. Note that I'm looking for playtesters for feedback (and credit in the last chapter).

 

 

Commander Decision

In the fantastic land of Erf, commanders lead stacks of units across a hex-grid terrain into battle at the whims of rulers, nobles, and titans. Observed by some amused Dungeons and Dragons deity, the Erfish mode of war proved intriguing. Perhaps to try a new style of battle leadership, or perhaps just for laughs, that god taught a version of the strategy and tactics of Erf to mortal nobles, heroes, and adventurers of the D&D ilk.

 

Role: As the leader of a group of powerful characters, the commander inspires others to amazing heights of achievement. They benefit from strange magical traditions unknown elsewhere. Nobles and aristocrats believe they make natural and ideal commanders – indeed, although some of common birth disagree, most aristocrats say they have a divine mandate to command.

 

Alignment: Since respect for following and giving orders is a fundamental characteristic of the commander prestige class, a commander cannot be chaotic in alignment. Moreover, commanders follow a strict code of duty and loyalty: duty to obey those to whom they owe fealty, and loyalty to their side and their comrades in arms.

 

Hit die: d10

 

Requirements

  • Feats: Leadership or at least one level of the Aristocrat NPC class
  • Base Attack Bonus: +5
  • Skills: Profession (Soldier) 6 ranks, Perception 3 ranks, Sense Motive 3 ranks, Know (Nobility) 3 ranks
  • Alignment: Non-chaotic

 

Table: The Commander

Lvl..Att...Will..Refx..Fort...Special Abilities
.1...+1.....+0....+1....+1.....Leadership Bonus, Purse
.2...+2.....+1....+1....+1.....Natural Signamancy
.3...+3.....+1....+2....+2.....Regent
.4...+4.....+1....+2....+2.....Natural Thinkamancy
.5...+5.....+2....+3....+3.....Screening
.6...+6.....+2....+3....+3.....Natural Dollamancy
.7...+7.....+2....+4....+4.....Fighting Retreat
.8...+8.....+3....+4....+4.....Natural Rhyme-o-mancy
.9...+9.....+3....+5....+5.....Improved Screening
10..+10.....+3....+5....+5.....Chief Warlord, Natural Healomancy

 

Class Features

 

Class Skills: Diplomacy (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (Engineering) (Int), Knowledge (Geography) (Int), Knowledge (Local) (Int), Knowledge (Nobility) (Int), Perception (Wis), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis).

Skill Points Per Level: 4 + Int modifier

Weapon and Armor Proficiencies: You gain proficiency all simple and martial weapons and all armor except tower shields.

Spellcasting: Commander levels do not advance any spellcasting at all. Moreover, a caster's leadership bonus is +0, not half commander level. A few casters can apply a leadership bonus to select unit types and no others. These casters actually double the usual leadership bonus when stacked with the following: clerics with outsiders of the same alignment; druids with animals; summoners and conjurer wizards with creatures they have summoned; necromancer wizards with undead they have created; and any caster with golems and constructs they have created. These caster commanders only benefit from their own leadership when stacked with units who benefit from it as well.

Ethos: Duty compels commanders to use their own initiative in the service of those above them in the chain of command. It also makes them reluctant to withhold information from allies or to conspire against them. They accept that they may be executed if they fail to do their duty.

 

Special Abilities

 

Leadership Bonus (Ex): At first level, you can designate up to eight willing creatures ("units") to serve under your personal command. These eight plus yourself (nine in all) form a "stack" and are "stacked units." They must be in medium range of you (100 ft. plus 10 ft. per commander level). Units can leave your stack by moving out of range or at will as a free action. Each round, as a swift action, you declare your stack and share your leadership bonus with stacked units. Your bonus applies to attack rolls, damage rolls, saving throws, or armor class, as you decide. You can give orders to units in your stack, and if they disobey, you can choose to revoke your leadership bonus. Your bonus is equal to half your commander level (round down, minimum +1). If you are an aristocrat, your leadership bonus is half your combined commander and aristocrat levels. Your bonus applies to yourself as well as your units, if you are stacked with at least one other unit.

Purse (Su): You have a purse that cannot be taken from you. At first level, you can store up to 1,000 gp per commander level in your purse, which cannot be taken against your will. Your purse and its contents do not count against your encumbrance. You can choose to deduct gold from your purse at dawn to "buy" a day’s worth of food and drink (at standard rates) for you and your stacked units – such rations pop into existence from thin air.

Natural Signamancy (Su): You look like a leader! You appear formidable, competent, and fit. At second level, you gain a +2 racial bonus on Diplomacy and Intimidate checks, and on your Leadership score if you have the Leadership feat. If you are an aristocrat, your racial bonus is equal to double your aristocrat levels +2.

Regent (Ex): You can manage an enterprise, fort, trading post, village, port, or town. At third level, when you spend time as a regent, performing no other duties, you lower costs for city improvement and production of equipment and food, you increase tax revenue, and you reduce the cost of upkeep of units under your management. The mechanical details of these bonuses are left to the game referee to determine.

Natural Thinkamancy (Su): At fourth level, you know the race, class, level, special abilities, maximum hit points, and current hit points of any unit in your stack. You can telepathically send orders to any unit in your stack. You can give one of your stacked units the "scout" special ability as a move action. Your scout can travel up to one mile away from you and send you reports telepathically, remaining stacked (but losing your leadership bonus outside medium range).

Screening (Ex): At fifth level, as a swift action, pick one stacked unit. For each attack launched against that unit until your next turn, roll d100. On a result of 1-50, the attack instead affects an adjacent stacked unit, chosen randomly from among adjacent units. On a 51-100, the attack is resolved normally.

Natural Dollamancy (Su): At sixth level, you can create a sigil / coat of arms for yourself. Armor, shields, and clothing worn by you or those stacked with you magically take on the look of a uniform with your sigil. Each day at dawn, all your gear and that of your stacked units is magically cleaned and all damage (including hit point damage to weapons and armor) to that equipment is mended. If you have aristocrat levels, units wearing your sigil (including you) gain a morale bonus vs fear attacks equal to your aristocrat levels.

Fighting Retreat (Su): At seventh level, when you use the withdraw action, you can order your entire stack to also use the withdraw action. Until your next turn, no stacked unit using the withdraw action provokes attacks of opportunity by moving out of threatened squares. Moreover, any damage taken by withdrawing units before their next turn is divided among all stacked units as you designate. However, withdrawing units must end their move closer to you, and farther from enemies, than they were when the move started.

Natural Rhyme-o-mancy (Sp): At eighth level, you can sing marching tunes, taunt enemies, tell stories, and give speeches that raise the morale of your allies and demoralize your foes. As a standard spell-like action, you can cast Bane and Bless at will. The saving throw DC for the Bane is 10 + your commander level + your Charisma bonus. Your commander level is the caster level. If you have levels in aristocrat and/or bard, they stack with commander levels to set caster level and DC.

Improved Screening (Ex): At ninth level, as a swift action, pick one stacked unit. For each attack launched against that unit until your next turn, roll d100. On a result of 1-90, the attack instead affects an adjacent stacked unit, chosen randomly from among units within ten feet. On a 91-100, the attack is resolved normally.

Natural Healomancy (Su): At tenth level, each day at dawn, all your hit point and ability score damage is cured.

Chief Warlord (Ex): At tenth level, your leadership bonus applies to two of the following, not one: attack rolls, damage rolls, saving throws, armor class. Moreover, one half of your bonus (round down) applies outside your stack to all allies within line of sight. Your Regent abilities double, and can be applied to cities, provinces, and small kingdoms.

 

Design Notes

In terms of party role, the commander serves as both a buffer and a combat specialist. Most of the non-D&D terms and magical qualities emulate Erfworld mechanics, of course.

I like the idea of taking sub-optimal choices and making them viable. With the commander, I have given decent bonuses and stacking to a character who takes levels in the aristocrat NPC class, which is a very underpowered choice, usually. The idea is to give characters reasons to explore more of the game space.

Also note that the aristocrat stacking plays into a central theme in Erfworld, that of noble rulers vs non-royal sides. Some observers speculate that Erfworld royals make more natural commanders than non-royals, leveling faster and gaining better stats. I tried to echo that idea by giving aristocrat/commanders some extra perks.

For players who prefer Third Edition D&D to Pathfinder, note that this particular PrC is very easy to convert. Just use the saving throws for a ranger of equivalent level and bump the required ranks in skills by +4. 

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Written by Cayzle of Cayzle's Wemic Site

http://cayzle.com
cayzle@cayzle.com
T
witter: @cayzle

 

(NOTE: user received 25 Shmuckers for this submission. - Rob)

Comments

  • Cayzle

    When I submitted this, I was hoping Rob would use it here on the site ... and fearful he would not like me stealing Erf ideas for my splat book! I'm guessing he does not mind after all. Thanks, Rob!

    For the full splat book, go to cayzle.com/splat.

    SO ... any D&Ders out there interested in giving this a try?

  • ScottishMongol

    This is great, and very interesting. I'd love to try this out!

  • Cayzle

    Scottish, thanks! If I can get four to 12 players here I'll run a playtest in the Erforums. I'm looking for iron-steady posters running five posts a week, one combat round per post, weekdays, for 2-3 months. If I can't get enough people here, I'll let you know when I launch on another forum ... likely RPG Crossing. Email me and I'll add you to my playtester list? cayzle@cayzle.com

  • Cayzle

    Oh, and my playtest will have a competitive element to it (not exactly PvP, more like a race). And if we get enough interest here, I'll give a shmuckers award for the winner. I got these shmuckers burning a hole in my pocket, so what the heck! If I get at least 4 players, the reward will be at least 100 shmuckers, and if I get 8 or 12, maybe 200 or 300.

  • s-dub

    A few thoughts: I think that declaring a stack each round means you'd never have a swift action available for the other abilities.  Maybe stack could stay until changed?

    A level 10 aristocrat/level 10 commander could give his party +10 to attack and dmg, or +10 to AC and saves, which seems fairly game breaking.  Maybe cap this at 5?

    Fighting retreat also seems a little overpowered if you're using a stack of archers.  Line up the stack and have everyone withdraw after firing. Only a few units can be reached by enemies, and the damage can be spread out over the entire stack.

    I think that Natural Rhyme-o-mancy could be a bit stronger.

    Love Natural Signamancy!

     

  • ScottishMongol

    Well, the thing about using a stack of all archers is that's pretty imbalanced as far as adventuring parties go. These aren't NPCs (I assume) that you're commanding, it's your fellow party members, so you'll have melee as well as casters mixed in there.

     

    As far as Level 10 Aristocrat/Level 10 Commander being OP...you'll be Level 20 by that point. Everyone's OP at Level 20. Heck, on a good day my Level 9 Bard is giving everyone +6 to attack and damage.

  • Cayzle

    See, this is exactly why I need to do some playtesting. Sure, an Aristo10/Commander10 has a supersweet leadership bonus, but he also has 10 levels of ARISTOCRAT! :-) Does that balance out? I gotta get some playtesting in so that we can see.

    But even a close read is super helpful, thanks! I totally meant for a stack to remain stacked from round to round; you only need a swift action to change it. I should add a sentence ...

    "Each round, as a swift action, you declare your stack and share your leadership bonus with stacked units. Your designation of a stack lasts until you use a swift action to change it; you only need to use a swift action if you want to change its membership."

    In a game where your party is your stack, odds are you never have to change it. Unless maybe to include a summoned monster, say.

    S-Dub, any chance you might want to join in a play-by-post paytest? Not just of the Commander, but of my entire splat book.

  • Interjection Games

    Hey there, Cayzle! I'd like to help out, but please bear in mind I do this sort of stuff for a living, so I might (almost certainly will) come off as really nitpicky.

    1: Leadership Bonus

    • The bonus needs to have a defined type or types. Ignoring the magnitude of the benefit compared to other classes, making it stack with the bard makes this terrifying, particularly if your commander is also a bard. That may very well be game.
    • The quantities that can be affected by Leadership Bonus are of varying value. Damage is cheap and easy to boost, but attack/AC/saves are particularly harder to boost. If you want more easy boostables, consider temporary hit points that pop every round and bonuses to one chosen skill.
    • With your current system, you most definitely need a cap at +5 or so, though you can still give the aristocrat an edge by breaking things up.
    • Breaking things up: Try segregating your high-value boosts and your low-value boosts. Each round, you could cook up a custom bonus across the spectrum with high-value boosts costing more to give. Say damage or temporary hit points are 1 "leadership point" each, and attack/saves/AC are 2 "leadership points" each, max +5 to any single bonus. This way, the aristocrat still has more to throw around.

    2: Regent

    • Have you thumbed through Ultimate Campaign? You can easily define this ability with the kingdom building and downtime rules.

    3: Natural Signamancy

    • The racial bonus here seems a poor choice. You're going for stacking, so why not luck?

    4: Screening

    • Pathfinder loves to set up equivalencies with spells, even for supernatural abilities. It cleans up rulings by ensuring that all errata and FAQ answers immediately apply to your fancier work. As such, set up an equivalency with displacement, with exceptions to make it work like what you want.

    5: Fighting Retreat

    • Mass grace with a bunch of limitations. I really like this, though the positioning caveat is a bit choppy.

    6: Rhyme-o-mancy

    • Once you type up your leadership bonus, this becomes fairly obsolete. I'd bump this up to a 3/day prayer that is guaranteed to affect all stack members no matter where they are, or something similar.

    7: General Nitpickery

    • Class abilities are always listed in the third-person "At 3rd level, the commander", not "At 3rd level, you"
    • Level values have the number printed, not the whole word. "3rd", not "third"
  • Interjection Games

    Mmm, and I apologize for how difficult that post is to read. Bulletpoints are bugged on this site.

  • Cayzle

    Thanks, Interjection, for really really great feedback! I can see I'll have to release a 0.91 edition asap.

    I agree about most of your other points, which are obviously needed fixes. Like changing unnamed bonuses to named ones, and then cascading other changes logically.

    I'm not convinced that some bonuses are more valuable than others. I may let the playtest prove that one. In an earlier version of the Commander, the Leadership bonus could be distributed each round among saves, attacks, damage, and AC, all on a 1:1 basis.

    You say, Class abilities are always listed in the third-person "At 3rd level, the commander", not "At 3rd level, you. Any reason you say that other than house style? Is that Interjection house style or Paizo house style? Does Paizo have a house style sheet for third party publishers to use?

    I prefer second person to free me from troublesome third person gendered pronouns. And to save space/words.

    Interested in playtesting? Or making similar comments on the other PrCs in my splatbook?! Not that I'm bogarting your professional expertise or anything! :-)

  • Interjection Games

    Third person is Paizo house style, and Paizo gets around the gender issue by using the gender of the iconic character for that class in all documentation for that class. Sorcerer? She. Bard? He.

    As for different bonuses being of differing value to the user, that is indeed something you'll need to prove to yourself, though I can make a bit of a case for damage (and, by extension, healing or temporary hit points) being cheaper than attack (and, by extension, AC) by pointing you to various weapon special abilities. Look up flaming, frost, psychokinetic, collision, and others. The damage gained in each case is greater than the attack/damage lost, meaning those abilities exist to trade attack for a greater amount of damage. Also Power Attack. Damage is cheap.

    As for playtesting, no, sir. I'm avoiding doing editing on 350 pages of book, which is why I'm here. I'm sure I'll be almost impossible to drag away from my own work once the fiddly bits are done and I'm back into design.

  • Veryfuzzylogic

    I'd like to try it out.  I haven't gotten to play any tabletop games in a couple years and I miss it a lot.  I will probably need some help brushing up on the rules though since it's been so long.  Can anyone point me in the direction of a good resource?

  • Draken09

    I am interested in doing the play-by-post. I'm not active on the forums (yet), but I check this website multiple times a day, and I do have some experience and as a previous player/gamemaster of forum-based roleplay so I can really appreciate having an upfront schedule.

  • Interjection Games

    www.d20pfsrd.com

    Oh, and Cayzle? If it's something less involved, like your aforementioned play by post, I can swing the time, I think.

  • Cayzle

    EXCELLENT! This is shaping up nicely! Draken, Interjection, Fuzzy, and Scottish are in, plus maybe one or two others who have emailed me. 

    Later today I'll launch a thread for the PBP playtest game in the forums. Meanwhile, here is some preliminary info

    I'll be using the standard Pathfinder point buy method to generate ability scores, with characters having 22 points to spend. Your characters will be 12th level, in order to give you a decent chance to try the prestige classes. 

    We'll be playing one post per day, one round per post, every weekday, for about 2-3 months I'm guessing. Nonstop action! I'll make some allowance for vacations and emergencies, but if you cannot commit to posting every weekday through the end of June, please do not join! There will be no players fighting players, but there is a competition component, a kind of a race. So you have to compete with each other AND work together to survive.

    Every character has to have one prestige class from my book, and not just a 1-2 level dip. I'd prefer each player to pick a different prestige class ... so only one person can be a commander!

    I'm going to allow all Core Rules and the Advanced Players Guide freely, except no Alchemist. No prestige classes other than the ones in my splat book. Advanced Players Guide archtypes are fine, but only those. No base classes except those in the Core Rules and the Advanced Players Guide -- no gunslingers, no psionics, etc. Characters will have , but with limits on charged items, scrolls, potions, and how much you can spend on a single item.

    There are a couple good places online to get the rules, but I find this one is easiest for those who need a refresher: http://paizo.com/pathfinderRPG/prd/gettingStarted.html. Bookmark it! Click through the links in the upper left column!

    And of course, my splat book is here: http://cayzle.com/splat. I've already found (or been alerted to) a few easy-fix typos and problems, which I'll fix in a 0.91 release before we start.

    Thanks very much to you all for your interest and enthusiasm!

  • Cayzle

    Anyone wishing to try out my prestige class ideas in a playtest is invited to click here to join the game.

  • Interjection Games

    I'd also recommend that your "Hank Scorpio" prestige class go 3/4 BAB and get rid of the infinite situational healing at 3rd level. If anything, the power split and rate of ability acquisition suggests you adore designs like the old assassin.

  • Cayzle

    It is a really great question, Interjection. Is it viable for a "defense monster" PrC like the Summerkin to have the worst BAB advancement plus incredible situational healing? My thinking was that the character would be at risk in most battles -- those indoors, underground, at night, when it was cloudy -- and could well die, of course, but between battles, would seek out the sun for the curing. Is it unbalanced? I'm hoping playtesting will give an answer.

    Note that the Summerkin has some funky restrictions to balance out its power. No hats, headbands, or goggles, for one; no use of iron or steel items, for another.

    I DO adore the old 3E assassin's design, if you mean having its own spell list and nifty powers. But the old assassin was top heavy, encouraging a dip only. I'm hoping my version gives more reason to tale more levels in the PrC.

    Thanks for reading it!

  • Interjection Games

    My most common solution for a class design is the point pool. I've got a serious fetish for them because people understand pools instinctively. You have X points and spend them as the day goes on, can have a bunch of auras whose costs add up to X points active at one time, can apply X points of stuff to a robot design (which you then deploy), build a mana bar out of it, and so on and so forth.

    If I were going with a design like this, I'd toss the class a sun battery, refuse to tie in anything that can grant the party bonus resources (like health, recharged spell slots, etc.), and have the recharge turn off if there's anything on the head. Mechanics and flavor married, mate.

  • Interjection Games

    If you'd like some examples, just ask. I have stuff I can share.

  • Cayzle

    Hey, Interjection, Draken, and Scottish, if you want to play, I need you to please go check out this thread and to post or email me your preference list. Actually, please email me either way, since I want to have another way to shout out to you.

    http://forums.erfworld.com/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=7296&p=130508

    There are still spots left in the game, so any one else interested is also most welcome! Thanks!

    Cayzle

    cayzle@cayzle.com

  • Interjection Games

    I'll be passing, chief. I'm of the opinion your book needs a few rounds of refinement before you throw living people at it :)

  • Cayzle

    Fair enough! Thanks very much for your comments earlier. They are already making it better!

  • Cayzle

    Just a note to anyone actually wanting to use these rules: I have already fixed a bug or two and revised one power in this, after reader feedback. Check out the latest version at http://cayzle.com/splat.

  • Thecommander236

    Interesting... a class that gives you access to an entire city worth of NPC's that work directly for you. That would be very useful.