It's Mountain Week here at Necromancers of the Northwest, a week devoted to the awe-inspiring peaks that have captured man’s imagination since humanity’s inception. These storied mounts inspire us to challenge ourselves, reaffirm our belief in the might of nature, and give us something to clamor up on the rare weekend that we’re not occupied by something else. With all their merits, it should come as no surprise that mountains feature so heavily in ancient myths as well as modern fantasy; whether it’s Mount Olympus or Mount Doom, these natural wonders are a potent reminder that those who aspire to greatness must overcome great obstacles.
What kind of character lends itself to these high peaks, these overwhelming challenges? After some debate, I settled on the skald, a heroic character who symbolizes an appreciation for the incredible strength and fortitude the mountain possesses. And after throwing out the idea of the battle yodeler, I settled on this week’s new archetype, a skald who is most at home in nature’s greatest challenge.
New Skald Archetype
Voice of the Mountain
Only those skalds who journey away from the comforts of civilization and embrace the primal might and beautiful isolation of the highest peaks can call themselves a voice of the mountain. These chosen few shun a life of revelry and personal glory, instead embracing the wonder and danger of mountain living and thriving in harshly beautiful environments. They learn special skills through their bond with mountain and know how to service its dangers. They also learn to harness its power and authority, weaving song and poetry worthy of their mountain homes in order to inspire others to utilize the power of the great mountains. The most powerful of these skalds can use their voices to cause the very mountains to come to their aid, shaking with their pent-up fury and striking the unworthy from their majestic sides.
Mountain Lore (Ex): A voice of the mountain is as one with his home, and though he knows less of the lore of civilized peoples, he is an expert in the lore of the land. He adds half his level to all Perception and Survival checks. This bonus is doubled while in a mountain or hill environment.
This ability replaces the bardic knowledge class feature.
Mountaineering (Ex): At 2nd level, a voice of the mountain learns how to apply his lore to the practical skills of navigation and combat while in his mountain home. The voice of the mountain is not slowed by natural difficult terrain, gains a bonus on all Climb checks equal to 1/2 his level, and gains an additional +1 bonus to attack rolls he makes from higher ground (in addition to the normal +1 bonus gained from attacking from higher ground).
This ability replaces the versatile performance class feature.
Yodeling (Ex): At 2nd level, the voice of the mountain learns special techniques for using echoes to strengthen the effects of his raging songs and allow them to last longer. The voice of the mountain gains a number of bonus rounds of raging song per day equal to his level; these rounds of raging song can only be used while in a mountainous environment.
This ability replaces the well-versed class feature.
Mountain Song (Su): At 6th level, the voice of the mountain learns a special chant that he can sing to fill those that hear it with respect for the land and knowledge of its power. At 6th level, the voice of the mountain can use his raging song to grant all creatures who can hear it (including the voice of the mountain) a +2 natural armor bonus to AC and a +2 bonus on melee damage rolls when you have higher ground. At 12th level, and again at 18th level, these bonuses increase by a further +1. Additionally, creatures who hear this song gain the benefits of the voice of the mountain’s mountaineering class feature. This ability can only be used while in a mountainous environment.
This ability replaces the song of strength raging song.
Mountain Man (Ex): At 7th level, the voice of the mountain's mountain craft has reached a legendary level, allowing him to easily get along in areas where even seasoned explores struggle. The voice of the mountain can use Survival to follow tracks and forage for food while at full movement speed. While in a mountainous environment, the voice of the mountain can take 10 on all Survival and Perception checks.
This ability replaces the lore master class feature.
Shake the Mountain (Su): At 20th level, the voice of the mountain can use his very words to cause the mountains to unleash their primal fury on his enemies. He can use his raging song while in a mountainous environment in order to cause the ground to shake and rumble, dealing 10d6 points of damage to any number of creatures within a 100-foot-radius spread, centered on the voice of the mountain. Creatures that suffer damage must also succeed on a Reflex save or be knocked prone.
This ability replaces the master skald class feature.