Author Topic: Hive Master PRC  (Read 388 times)

Offline Versatility_Nut

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Hive Master PRC
« on: November 21, 2017, 03:29:51 PM »
The Hive Master


"A figure stood behind Yan. Her costume was barely recognizable—she wore a short cape of tattered black cloth over her body armor, a skintight black suit beneath that, and there were folds of black cloth draped around her legs like a dress or a robe. The entire fabric seemed to ripple and move. It took Sierra a second to realize it was crawling with a carpet of insects.

The disconcerting part was the girl's face, or lack thereof. Her expression was masked behind a shifting mass of bugs that moved in and out of her hairline. Sierra couldn't even tell where the bugs ended and the scalp began, as the small black bodies crawled into and onto the black curls. There was a hint of something like glass where Skitter's eyes were, but the bugs ventured far enough over her eyelids and around the frames that nothing was visible in the way of goggles, glasses, or skin."


-Worm, Interlude 14.


Entry Requirements:
Skills: Knowledge(Nature) 13 ranks, Survival 8 ranks, Diplomacy 4 ranks
Spellcasting/Manifesting/Other: Must have a spell, power or other ability able to create or control a swarm of Vermin, such as the Druid spell Insect Plague or using the Improved Familiar feat to have a Swarm of Spiders as a familiar.

Class Skills
The Hive Master's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are
Skills Points at Each Level: 4 + int

Hit Dice: d6

(click to show/hide)

Weapon and Armor Proficiencies: A Hive Master gains Light Armor Proficiency if they did not already have it, as well as proficiency with the quarterstaff and club if they do not already have it.

Class Features: The following are all class features of the Hive Master:

Ten Thousand Sparks of Life (Su): At first level, a Hive Master gains the ability to control a number of Vermin, defined by the total HD of the Swarm formed by them. They may control two and two-thirds Hit Dice worth of Vermin Swarm per Hive Master level without penalty. However, for every Hit Die beyond this, they take a -1 Insight penalty to their Will and Reflex saves and a -2 Insight penalty to Intelligence and Wisdom based skill checks. If the penalty to Will saves is larger than their base Will save bonus granted by class levels and other Hit Dice, or their penalty to Intelligence skills is larger than their ranks in Knowledge(Nature) plus their Intelligence modifier, they are overwhelmed by the psychic feedback and are rendered Unconscious for 1d4 hours. Even with this increased strain, they may not exceed six Hit Dice of controlled Vermin Swarms per Hive Master level.

Gaining control of a swarm of Vermin that already exists will require the swarm to fail a Will save with a DC of 10+Hive Master level+Charisma modifier. This control effect may be applied to spells, powers and other abilities that create Vermin swarms temporarily to double the duration, even if an effect like the Extend Spell feat has already been applied.

Ten Thousand Points of Sight (Su): At second level, a Hive Master grows more familiar with the feedback of their telepathic control, beginning to understand the senses of the diminutive creatures they command. As a result, they may use the combined Spot and Listen check bonuses of their Swarms instead of their own, so long as all the swarms used in this way can see and/or hear what the check attempts to notice. Additionally, the line of sight of their swarms counts as their own.

Ten Thousand Motes of Power (Su): At third level, a Hive Master begins to develop powers from their swarm itself, cultivating powers from the many minute specks the creatures they command have to generate useful energies to shape. For every four HD of Swarm they control, the Hive Master may select one option from the following list:
(click to show/hide)

These options must be selected at the start of each day to the maximum of what the Hive Master can control, and may not make their effective level for any given parameter exceed their character level.

Ten Thousand Touches of Thought (Su): Starting at 4th level, a Hive Master's connection with their swarms grows to such an extent they can think through their Swarm, gaining a +1 Insight bonus to Intelligence and Wisdom per two HD of Swarm they control. Additionally, the penalty to Reflex saves and skill checks from Ten Thousand Sparks of Life is reduced by one for every two HD of Swarm controlled that would normally bring penalties for control.

Ten Thousand Fragments of Skill (Su): Starting at 5th level, a Hive Master learns to house complex skills in their telepathic network, allowing their Swarms to perform actions normally taking extensive training and immense talent to do. They may select a feat they qualify for for every 3 HD of Swarms they control. The benefits of these feats are applied to all of the Swarms they control, rather than themselves, and the feats selected may be changed at the start of each day.

Offline Archon

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Re: Hive Master PRC
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2017, 05:55:17 AM »
A great class, I think, but a few concerns:

1. Class skills aren't listed
2. why 2+2/3 HD per level. Why not three, for easy maths.
3. It would be nice to have some way to improve at this beyond the 5 levels. Especially since
4. you have very few swarms under your control. It seems kinda hard to leverage them in actual combat, when a few fire-balls will take them all out.
5. how do you come by swarms? do you simply assemble them out of locally available vermin? or something else?

Offline Versatility_Nut

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Re: Hive Master PRC
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2017, 02:29:06 PM »
A great class, I think, but a few concerns:

1. Class skills aren't listed
...How I keep missing details like this, I will never know.

Quote
2. why 2+2/3 HD per level. Why not three, for easy maths.
It's because the casting progression is tied directly to the available Swarm hit dice at a ratio of four to one, and the six per level upper limit results in 1.5 caster levels per PRC level. So it's 2/3 casting progression by the lower limit, like a Bard, while the maximum is the opposite fraction of 3/2, making it accelerated progression if you tank the hit to Will saves.

Quote
3. It would be nice to have some way to improve at this beyond the 5 levels. Especially since
4. you have very few swarms under your control. It seems kinda hard to leverage them in actual combat, when a few fire-balls will take them all out.
You can progress it further by standard PRC methods, like the fact that Epic levels can always be used to advance any class, including PRCs, as well as stuff like Legacy Champion. The Clerical option lets you use Personal range spells on controlled Vermin(really should have made that a general Spell Share like Familiars and Animal Companions), while a Psionic character doing it is using them as remote power projection. Basically, if the Swarms are eating Fireballs and actually are dying off completely, you're doing it wrong, if only because you should be able to provide sufficient energy resistance and healing to keep them around.

Quote
5. how do you come by swarms? do you simply assemble them out of locally available vermin? or something else?
I planned on making a build-a-swarm setup with the intent to use it as a replacement of the existing Hive Mind setup, as well as being a convenient method for this to just build up Swarms. As-is, you locate existing Swarms of Vermin and take control of them with what's basically at-will permanent Supernatural Dominate Monster for Vermin Swarms, or use various swarm-summoning spells. The Druid casting progression option lets you stack Animal Companion on top of a Swarm to get the bonus hit dice as more to the control cap without needing to find more Swarms/split them between Swarms.

It's on the Swarms to be independently effective, much like Animal Companions, the class just has the character get some nice toys for controlling them and makes control of a large number viable. If you find Swarms with a CR higher than their hit dice, you've got yourself a great tool, but the class doesn't make standard Spider Swarms all that effective for what the Swarm is doing.

Offline Archon

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Re: Hive Master PRC
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2017, 10:08:18 PM »
Why not make casting increase at 1/6HD, give 4HD/level, and have the hard cap at 9HD/level. That has the same numbers, but is easier to math. (I would maybe half the penalties to will etc with these numbers).

If you did this, you should reduce the numbers for the other features.

5 level prestige classes explicitly do not have epic progressions, and if they did, you still couldn't take them until 21st level.
Using Legacy Champion etc is kinda a hack - I would rather have real support (a feat for increasing capacity, maybe?).

If you don't have a way to perma-generate swarms, then you are heavily restricted by what the DM lets you have/what encounters they send to you. Also, aren't vermin swarms mindless (this shouldn't matter, but is a little weird).

Offline Versatility_Nut

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Re: Hive Master PRC
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2017, 06:51:16 AM »
Why not make casting increase at 1/6HD, give 4HD/level, and have the hard cap at 9HD/level. That has the same numbers, but is easier to math. (I would maybe half the penalties to will etc with these numbers).

If you did this, you should reduce the numbers for the other features.

5 level prestige classes explicitly do not have epic progressions, and if they did, you still couldn't take them until 21st level.
Using Legacy Champion etc is kinda a hack - I would rather have real support (a feat for increasing capacity, maybe?).

If you don't have a way to perma-generate swarms, then you are heavily restricted by what the DM lets you have/what encounters they send to you. Also, aren't vermin swarms mindless (this shouldn't matter, but is a little weird).

The big problem is that there's abilities making it problematic. Having 45 maximum hit dice causes issues with huge numbers of feats, 15 of the bloody things chosen daily before Epic hits. Due to stuff like Martial Study and Shape Soulmeld, a high number of hit dice causes the capstone to become problematic.

...And I kinda forgot that Epic progressions actually do have clauses excluding some things from them. Should probably make a 6-10 Epic progression, then. Probably throwing in less in the form of gaining benefits yourself (because you'll be able to give your Swarms Epic Spellcasting pretty easily) and more about improving the Swarms to be effective in their own right, probably by way of bonus hit dice in partial duplication of what Artificers do with their Homunculus improvement.

Offline Archon

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Re: Hive Master PRC
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2017, 06:56:49 AM »
Yes, so reduce the two other things which increase based on swarm HD as well - drop the feats to 1/6hd, and the int/wis bonus to 1/4hd.

and extra hit dice? I would have though you want to give your swarms anything but.

Offline Versatility_Nut

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Re: Hive Master PRC
« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2017, 04:57:00 PM »
Yes, so reduce the two other things which increase based on swarm HD as well - drop the feats to 1/6hd, and the int/wis bonus to 1/4hd.

and extra hit dice? I would have though you want to give your swarms anything but.
More hit dice per Swarm helps keep them relevant, survival wise, and the automatic damage of Swarms is based on hit dice. And attaching bonuses based on extra hit dice given to them, like Artificers do with Homunculi, makes it keep up decently well and kinda establishes a minimum power per hit die that's much better than the setup the existing Swarms have. All the Vermin Swarms have Constitution penalties and nothing that scales with hit dice, with their CR generally hovering around half their HD. Which is absolutely nothing for Epic.

And a big problem with decreasing the scaling to account for more Swarm hit dice is that you end up needing huge numbers of the things to get anywhere. Like, Locust Swarms eat a 5th level spell slot to summon one per three CL and are CR 3 with 6 HD. The Swarms are abysmal in their independent power. So the Epic progression letting you stack bonus HD onto the Swarms, contributing to your control cap, can boost the power quite significantly and makes the CR 1 Swarm of Spiders actually worth bringing to a fight.

Offline Archon

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Re: Hive Master PRC
« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2017, 11:16:59 PM »
I really didn't think this class was going to be stocking it's pool with summon spells, unless they have a much longer duration (not just doubled - like day/level or something).

If I was playing this class, I would probably ask the DM if I could take up cricket breeding or buy those catapult stones with spider swarms in them or something like that.

And you want huge swarms to get anywhere - that's the aesthetic.

My main concern with improving your swarms with extra HD is that it will fuck with your stat blocks and control cap. If those problems are worked around, I have no issue.