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Old Screeds


Spellspinner [9 Oct 05]

In my last screed, I moaned and groaned about the lack of prestige classes in Dungeons and Dragons that did not stack with existing spellcasting ability. Too often, prestige classes are simply ways to boost character power. On the other hand, there is a dearth of PrCs that are built around a theme for the sake of the theme.

Well, let me put my money where my mouth is. For the longest time I've been wanting to build a spell caster with a spider theme. Such a caster, built around a strong theme, should have a custom spell list. Here's my stab at a prestige class that fits the concept.

The Spellspinner

Most people who encounter monstrous spiders are glad -- if they survive -- to escape with an interesting story and no more. But in rare cases, those subjected to the fang are also bitten by the bug: they develop a passion for spider lore, and they seek to learn about creatures with eight legs. At length, their study and practice leads them to extraordinary skill and arcane lore ... as spellspinners. Even more rarely, the passion comes before the bite -- these would be spellspinners allow themselves to be bitten, either in combat or as part of an initiation ceremony.

Spellspinners come from every class, since there is no telling who will be inspired by a bite. But those who seek to learn about arachnids may take levels as rangers, bards, druids, or rogues, since those classes offer skills that fit the spider way.

As NPCs, spellspinners are often misunderstood or even hated. Too many people fail to appreciate the beauty of the web, the coordination of movement, the vital role in nature that spiders play. Some good-hearted spellspinners try to enlighten others, or feel forced to hide their passion. Others care little for society, and live off among their beloved friends. And those with dark intentions use their spider lore to terrorize and control others.

Hit die: d6

Requirements

  • Feats: Skill Focus (Weaving), Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Net)
  • Skills: Craft (Weaving) 8 ranks, Hide 4 ranks, Know Nature 4 ranks, Use Rope 4 ranks.
  • Special: Must have been bitten by a monsterous giant spider

Table 1: The Spellspinner

Lvl...Att....Fort...Refx...Will...Special Abilities
.1....+0......+2.....+2.....+0.....Friend
.2....+1......+3.....+3.....+0.....Weaver
.3....+2......+3.....+3.....+1.....Student
.4....+3......+4.....+4.....+1.....Poisoner
.5....+3......+4.....+4.....+1.....Rider
.6....+4......+5.....+5.....+2.....Trapper
.7....+5......+5.....+5.....+2.....Hunter
.8....+6......+6.....+6.....+2.....Crafter
.9....+6......+6.....+6.....+3.....Ruler
10....+7......+7.....+7.....+3.....Morpher

Table 2: Spellspinner Spell Progression

Lvl...0...1...2...3...4...5
.1....2...1...-...-...-...-
.2....3...1...-...-...-...-
.3....3...2...1...-...-...-
.4....4...2...2...-...-...-
.5....4...3...2...1...-...-
.6....5...3...3...1...-...-
.7....5...4...3...2...1...-
.8....6...4...4...2...2...-
.9....6...5...4...3...2...1
10....7...5...5...3...3...1

Class Features

Class Skills: Balance (Dex), Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Hide (Dex), Jump (Str), Knowledge (Nature) (Int), Move Silently (Dex), Ride (Dex), Spellcraft (Int), Spot (Wis), Survival (Wis), Use Rope (Cha).

Skill Points per level: 4 + Int modifier

Weapon & Armor Proficiencies: Spellspinners gain no new proficiency in the use of either weapons or armor.

Spells: Beginning at 1st level, a spellspinner gains the ability to cast a number of arcane spells. To cast a spell, a spellspinner must have a charisma score of at least 10 + the spellís level, so a spellspinner with a Charisma of 10 or lower cannot cast these spells. Spellspinner bonus spells are based on Charisma, and saving throws against these spells have a DC of 10 + spell level + the spellspinner's Charisma bonus. The spellspinner spell list appears below. Note: A spellspinner casts spells just as a bard does, except that the spellspinner knows all spells available as listed below, not a subset of them.

Note: Certain of the spellspinner's abilities and spells refer to "spiders and spiderkin." This is shorthand for all Monsterous Spiders, as well as for all Phase Spiders, Spider Swarms, Aranea, Driders, and Ettercaps. A DM may add monsters to this list as she sees fit.

Special Abilities

Friend: A first level spellspinner gains a medium monsterous spider friend. Treat this friend exactly as a druidic animal companion. At fourth level, the spellspinner can "trade up" for a large monsterous spider, exactly as a druid can trade up for a new animal companion. The spider friend differs from the druidic animal companion in two ways: (1) the spider can polymorph (like the spell) at will as a standard action, but only into a tiny monsterous spider, and (2) the Intelligence of the friend is equal to the spellspinner's class level. Note that this friend immediately replaces the character's familiar, animal companion, special mount, etc -- but all levels from classes that grant familiars, companions, and mounts stack in determining the spider friend's capabilities. A sorcerer3/druid3/spellspinner2 would have a spider friend that had the advantages of a 8th level druid's animal companion, plus the ability to polymorph to tiny size, and an Intelligence of 2.

Weaver: The spellspinner can use Strengthened Silk (see spells, below) to weave rope, nets, and armor:

  • Rope: Spend 10 minutes and make a Craft (Weaving) check. On a 9 or less, all Strenghtened Silk from that casting is ruined. DC10 creates a 50 ft rope that can hold 200 lbs and offers a +1 bonus on Use Rope checks. DC20 creates 100 ft of rope that holds 400 lbs and offers a +2 bonus. DC30 creates 150 ft of rope that holds 600 lbs and offers a +3 bonus. DC40 creates 200 ft of rope that holds 800 lbs and offers a +4 bonus. DC 50 or better creates 250 ft of rope that holds 1,000 lbs and offers a +5 bonus.
  • Nets: Spend 30 minutes and make a Craft (Weaving) check. On a 9 or less, all Strenghtened Silk from that casting is ruined. DC10 creates a standard net. DC20 creates a masterwork net that the spellspinner can refold as a full round action. DC30 creates a masterwork net with a 15-foot line that the spellspinner can refold as a full standard action. DC40 creates a masterwork net with a 20-foot line that the spellspinner can refold as a move action. DC 50 creates a masterwork net with a 25-foot line that the spellspinner can refold as a free action. The range increment on a net is Strengthened Silk net is 10 feet. Only the spellspinner can use the net, since it is sticky.
  • Armor: Spend one hour and make a Craft (Weaving) check. On a 9 or less, all Strenghtened Silk from that casting is ruined. DC10 creates a silk outfit that offers a +1 armor bonus but has no max Dex, no armor check penalty, and no arcane spell failure. DC20 creates an identical outfit with a +2 armor bonus. DC 30 creates an outfit with a +3 armor bonus. DC 40, +4 armor bonus. DC 50 or better, +5 AC bonus. Creating an outfit for your spider friend has the same DCs; for all others, double the DC.

Student: When making Know Nature checks related to spiders and spiderkin, the spellspinner gains a bonus equal to his spellspinner level minus two. If the spellspinner has favored enemy (vermin) bonuses, they stack with Know Nature checks vs. spiders. Also, the spellspinner can use Know Nature checks with spiders and spiderkin exactly like a druid or ranger uses Wild Empathy checks with animals.

Poisoner: The spellspinner is immune to all spider and spiderkin poison and can milk his spider friend's poison for use on his own slashing and piercing weapons. The friend can contribute one application per spellspinner level per day, and the poison remains effective for one day.

Rider: The spellspinner can use Know Nature checks with spiders just like Handle Animal checks with animals. He gains a +4 competence bonus on Ride checks when mounted on spiders. He can order a spider mount to hold a net line; he can even dismount and move away, and the mount will maintain tension on the line.

Trapper: The spellspinner can use Strengthened Silk (see spells, below) to create invisible sheet webs. These sheets can snare flying creatures as well as walkers who stumble into them. Approaching creatures must succeed on a DC 15+spellspinner level Spot check to notice a web; otherwise they stumble into it and become entangled. The break and escape artist DCs for the web are also DC 15+spellspinner level. Attempts to escape or burst the webbing gain a +5 bonus if the trapped creature has something to walk on or grab while pulling free. A sheet web can cover up to 400 square feet; it takes one full round action to spin each 25-square-foot section. Each 25-square-foot section has hit points equal to the spllspinner's level, and sheet webs have damage reduction 5/ó.

Hunter: The spellspinner gains a +1 circumstance bonus when attacking when he has concealment, and a +4 circumstance bonus when attacking from the concealment of webs.

Crafter: The spellspinner gains a bonus feat, chosen from: Brew Potion, Craft Wand, Craft Staff, Scribe Scroll.

Ruler: All saves that spiders and spiderkin make against the spellspinners' spells suffer a penalty equal to the spellspinner's class levels.

Morpher: The spellspinner can cast spellspinner spells freely while polymorphed or shapeshifted into a spider or spiderkin. He can also throw nets freely in spider shape as well.

Spells

Level Zero

  • Daze Spiderkin (E) -- as Daze Monster*
  • Improved Spider Climb (T) -- as Spider Climb, but also allows climbing through webs freely.
  • Jump (T)
  • Locate Spiderkin (D) -- as Locate Creature*
  • Strong Silk (C) -- see below
  • Summon Spider 0 (C) -- as Summon Nature's Ally I (SNA) but summons 1 small monsterous spider or 1d3 tiny spiders
Level One
  • Exoskin (T) -- as Barkskin
  • Magic Fang (T)
  • Speak with Spiderkin (D) -- as Speak with Animals*
  • Spider Swarm (C) -- as Summon Swarm*
  • Summon Spider 1 (C) -- as SNA but summons 1 medium monsterous spider or 1d3 small spiders or 1d4+1 tiny spiders
  • Web (C)
Level Two
  • Charm Spiderkin (E) -- as Charm Monster*
  • Phase, Lesser (T) -- as Blink
  • Poison (N)
  • Spider's Might (T) -- see below
  • Spidermorph (T) -- as Polymorph*
  • Summon Spider 2 (C) -- as SNA but summons 1 large monsterous spider or 1d3 medium spiders or 1d4+1 small spiders
Level Three
  • Acid Web (C) -- see below
  • Baleful Spidermorph (T) -- as Baleful Polymorph, but the target is changed into a tiny monsterous spider
  • Giant Spiders (T) -- as Giant Vermin*
  • Magic Fang, Greater (T)
  • Spider Scout (D) -- see below
  • Summon Spider 3 (C) -- as SNA but summons 1 huge monsterous spider or 1d3 large spiders or 1d4+1 medium spiders
Level Four
  • Dominate Spiderkin (E) -- as Dominate Monster*
  • Paralytic Poison (N) -- as Poison, but initial damage is unconsciousness and secondary damage is death.
  • Spider's Might, Mass (T) -- see below
  • Spider Shapes (T) -- as Animal Shapes*
  • Summon Spider 4 (C) -- as SNA but summons 1 gargantuan monsterous spider or 1d3 huge spiders or 1d4+1 large spiders
  • Tremorsense (T) -- as Darkvision, but Tremorsense is gained instead
Level Five
  • Phase, Greater (T) -- as Ethereal Jaunt
  • Poison Web (C) -- see below
  • Spiderchange (T) -- as Shapechange*
  • Spider Doom (C) -- as Creeping Doom, but with spider swarms, not centipede swarms.
  • Spider Sense (D) -- as Foresight
  • Summon Spider 5 (C) -- as SNA but summons 1 colossal monsterous spider or 1d3 gargantuan spiders or 1d4+1 huge spiders

Note: Spells marked with an asterisk (*) can only affect spiders and spiderkin, or only allow the spellspinner to assume a spider or spiderkin form.

Spell Descriptions

  • Acid Web (C) (Spellspinner 3)
    Components: V, S, M; Casting Time: 1 standard action; Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level); Effect: Webs in a 20-ft.-radius spread; Duration: 10 min./level (D); Saving Throw: Reflex negates; Spell Resistance: No
    This spell is exactly like Web, except that the strands of the Acid Web are coated with acid. In addition to the usual effects, each round on the spellspinner's turn, starting when the spell is cast, the web deals 2d6 points of acid damage to each creature and object within it. Due to the acid, the web is not especially vulnerable to fire; it can be breached by slow work with edged weapons. Chopping away at the web creates a safe passage 1 foot deep for every full round of work. Normal fire cannot harm the web, but magical fire burns it away in 1 minute.
  • Poison Web (C) (Spellspinner 5)
    Components: V, S, M; Casting Time: 1 standard action; Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level); Effect: Webs in a 20-ft.-radius spread; Duration: 10 min./level (D); Saving Throw: Reflex negates, see below for Fort saves; Spell Resistance: No
    This spell is exactly like Web, except that the strands of the Poison Web are coated with poison. In addition to the usual effects, the poison coating the web will automatically kill any living creature with 3 or fewer HD (no save). A living creature with 4 to 6 HD is slain unless it succeeds on a Fortitude save (in which case it takes 1d4 points of Constitution damage on your turn each round while in the cloud). A living creature with 6 or more HD takes 1d4 points of Constitution damage on the spellspinner's turn each round while in the web (a successful Fortitude save halves this damage). Creatures immune to poison are unaffected by the poison. Due to the poison, the web is not especially vulnerable to fire; it can be breached by slow work with edged weapons. Chopping away at the web creates a safe passage 1 foot deep for every full round of work. Normal fire cannot harm the web, but magical fire burns it away in 1 minute.
  • Spider's Might (T) -- (Spellspinner 2)
    Components: V, S; Casting Time: 1 standard action; Range: Touch; Target: Creature touched; Duration: 1 min./level; Saving Throw: Will negates (harmless); Spell Resistance: Yes
    The subject becomes quicker and stronger. The spell grants a +4 enhancement bonus to both Dexterity and Strength, adding the usual benefits to melee attacks, armor class, and other uses of the Dexterity and Strength modifiers.
  • Spider's Might, Mass (T) (Spellspinner 4)
    This spell functions like Spider's Might, except that it affects one creature/level, no two of which can be more than 30 ft. apart, within close range (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels) of the caster.
  • Spider Scout (D) (Spellspinner 3)
    Components: V, S; Casting Time: 1 standard action; Range: Touch; Effect: one willing spider; Duration: 10 min./level (D); Saving Throw: none; Spell Resistance: Yes
    This spell lets the spellspinner see through the eyes of a friendly spider -- one who is charmed, summoned, befriended with the Student ability, or the spellspinner's own spider friend. As a free action, the caster can see what the spider sees. As a move action, the caster can compel the spider to move and look as the caster desires.
  • Strong Silk (C) (Spellspinner 0)
    Components: V, S; Casting Time: 1 full round action; Range: Touch; Effect: a strand of silk; Duration: 1 day/level; Saving Throw: none; Spell Resistance: none
    With this spell, the caster creates a strand of strengthened silk. By itself, the silk can be gobbed up into a one-foot diameter mass and used to stick things open or shut (much like glue or a spike), and a Str check vs DC15 will unstick it. More importantly, this silk can be woven using the Weaver and Trapper abilities (see above).


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