Hello, and welcome to Music Week. That’s right, we’ve devoted an entire week to music, whether that be the obvious songs (and dances, and tales, and comedy, and…) performed by bards, or whether it’s fun and exciting new magical instruments (similar to the horn of Valhalla, or the pipes of the sewers, from the core rules), or perhaps even the epics performed in honor of your PCs’ own actions.
Now, with all that being the theme of the week, there’s little wonder what today’s content is going to be. After all, Best in Class is all about new class features, archetypes, and the like, and there’s really only one class associated with music, so it’s kind of a given that today’s article is going to focus on bards, right?
Wrong! And you can put your rulebooks away, you’re not going to find the “other” class with a musical bent (as far as I know, there aren’t any). But just because it’s Music Week doesn’t mean we need to stick to bards. Why not try to spread the joy of music to some other classes, as well? Besides, bards are so last week.
New Samurai Archetype
Uruwashii (or Warrior-Poet)
While most samurai hold a special reverence for poetry, zen gardens, and other marks of culture and learning, the uruwashii consider themselves poets as much as warriors, and see their fighting skills more as an art to be perfected, and a thing of beauty, than as a base means of defeating their opponents (though this does not prevent them from using it to slay their opponents, if pressed). To an uruwashii, something not done perfectly and beautifully is not worth doing at all.
Haiku (Ex): As a move action, an uruwashii can recite a haiku, either one he creates spontaneously, or one that he already knew. Such haikus are typically declarations of the speaker’s prowess, or his intentions, or else a denouncement of his foe’s impotence. In either case, for one minute after speaking his haiku, the uruwashii can choose to reroll any one attack roll, ability check, combat maneuver check, saving throw, or skill check. The uruwashii can choose to use this ability after the result of the original roll is determined. He uses the better of the two results, even if that was the first roll. If the uruwashii doesn’t use this ability before one minute has passed, it is wasted. The uruwashii can use this ability once per day at 1st level, and gains an additional daily use of this ability for every two samurai levels beyond first. This ability replaces resolve.
Declaration of Victory (Ex): Beginning at 9th level, an uruwashii can spend a full round action and use two of his daily uses of his haiku class feature to declare his victory over his opponent, in haiku or some other form of poetry. Until the end of the next round, the uruwashii gains a +4 morale bonus on attack rolls made against the target of his challenge class feature. Further, he automatically confirms any critical threats made against the target of his challenge before the end of his next turn, and the critical multiplier of his weapon is increased by one for any such critical hit. This ability replaces greater resolve.
Death Poem (Ex): Beginning at 17th level, an uruwashii can recite a death poem, resigning himself to an honorable death in battle. This requires a full-round action, but does not provoke attacks of opportunity. Afterwards, the uruwashii gains a +4 competence bonus to attack rolls, armor class, damage rolls, and saving throws, but takes 1d10 points of damage at the beginning of each round. This damage is not subject to damage reduction and cannot be prevented. An uruwashii can end this effect as a move action, but if he does so while still in combat, he loses all remaining uses of his haiku class feature for the day, and cannot use the death poem class feature until 1 week has passed. This ability replaces true resolve.
What’s that? Poetry isn’t music? That’s not necessarily true! What are you saying, now? There’s no point in having a theme week if you’re just going to do whatever the hell you want? I hardly think that that’s fair…Okay, okay, tell you what, how about I give you something else? Something a little more…lyrical?
New Oracle Curse
You are incapable of speaking normally, and no matter what you intend to say, your curse causes it to come out as a rhyme, or a cryptic metaphor, or a riddle whose meaning is not easy to decipher. In general, everything you say comes out the same (that is, it’s either all rhyming, or all metaphor, and doesn’t change each time you say something), though this is not necessarily the case. Any time you speak to an NPC, that NPC must succeed on a DC 7 Intelligence or Wisdom check (whichever one the NPC has a higher bonus for) in order to be able to understand what you are saying. This check should be made in secret. A failure may indicate that the NPC simply doesn’t understand, or may indicate that they get the wrong meaning, as determined by the GM.
You gain one additional spell per day of the highest-level spell you are able to cast.
A Couple of Notes About Mysterious Speech:
Like so many oracle curses, in order for mysterious speech to really be fun and engaging, it needs to be roleplayed, and unfortunately the curse tries to tie the game’s mechanics into the game’s fluff in ways that just aren’t very feasible. While this can also be said for curses like haunted, tongues, and, most of the time probably deaf, blind, and wasting, too, I’d still like to offer a little bit of advice to players interested in this curse, and GMs with players interested in it.
While it’s certainly cool in theory for a player to come up with clever rhymes and riddles for his oracle to speak in, and might be really fun, it’s going to depend a lot on the player, and it may become really hard as time goes on. If worst comes to worst, the player should just be able to say “my character tries to say X,” or what have you. Similarly, while it could be fun to have your other players try and puzzle out what the oracle’s player is saying, and if your oracle’s player isn’t speaking “in character” with interesting rhymes and riddles it might be okay to apply the Intelligence/Wisdom check to them too, it’s important to realize that the reason it isn’t set up that way is because if the player is coming up with cool riddles or things to say at the table, then telling everyone else that they can’t understand what he’s saying unless they succeed on a check is going to frustrate everyone. If the player is actually speaking in riddles, let the players figure it out. If he’s not, it’s up to you, really. Just be on the lookout for oracles who just play telephone, saying something to a PC who says it on their behalf all the time with no fun roleplaying involved.
Finally, if your player really does go the extra mile and come up with interesting things to say, reward him for it by giving him more benefit from his curse. Give him extra spell-slots at lower spell levels, too, based on how much effort he’s putting into it. Not something that sticks around every day, but just, you know, “wow, you’ve really been in character a lot today and have been saying everything in rhyme for a while, now, so you get an extra spell slot at levels X and Y, too, today,” or “that was a really cool riddle you came up with for ‘the archbishop is invisible and is killing the congregation! Quick, cast invisibility purge,” so you get an extra spell slot at Xth level for today.”
Okay, so I guess that one was actually even less musical. Darn. Maybe bards really are the only musical class. Anyway, that’s it for today. Look forward to some actual musical content later in the week.