Endless Blue – Week 99 – The Vexillifer, Chronicler of the Tides   Leave a comment

Sociology

The Vexillifer — Chronicler of the Tides

The oceans of Elqua have run red with blood just as often as they flowed their welcoming blue.  From the unpredictable outbreak of the Shellback Wars, through the rise and fall of the Cetacean Hordes, to the world-shaking domination of the Kraken Occupation, conflict has left devastation in its wake.  No nation has been spared the catastrophic havoc of war.

The disruptive effect of warfare led to the creation of the Vexillifer.  Chaos in the heat of battle leaves even the most hardened veteran disoriented, and the aftermath of that combat definitely leaves those living in those places bewildered and traumatized.  War destroyed their homes, broke apart their families, and left them adrift…

Bringing order to that strife is the purpose of vexillifers.  Vexillifers are essentially witnesses for navies.  They have the responsibility to keep their company in cohesion, to chronicle the tides of battle, and to codify for posterity the consequences of war.  They are also burdened with the responsibility of notifying the next of kin of their fallen comrades.

Adventurers: The position of vexillifer is generally a military post, so any race can become a vexillifer.  Especially well organized adventuring parties can qualify as a company and benefit from the inclusion of a vexilliger in its ranks.

Alignment:  As militaristic bards, vexillifers posses similarities of both wizards and sorcerers.  They are gifted (or cursed) with unfocused arcane magic much like a sorcerer, but they release this power through the practiced ritual of inspiration.  Because of this, vexillifers are not prohibited from being lawful, and instead must be of any non-chaotic alignment.  Their role is to bring order to chaos, in the midst of battle and afterward.

Vexillifers in the Known World

The role of the Vexillifer was first created by the Chelon, as a method of keeping their numerous naval companies organized.  It was a successful invention, and is credited with repelling the early Cetacean barbarians from conquering the Chelon Seas.  The First Khan learned from this, and vexillifers became a lynch pin in the organization of the Eight Ordu.  The explosive growth of the Khanate demonstrated the advantage of a designated unit.  As the Orcans expanded into the territories of the other Fluid Nations, those militaries responded in turn by adopting the use of banner bearers into their own forces and reaped the benefits of both organization as well and information.

Today, the position is highly regarded, and just as coveted.  Only the most despotic of warlords would kill an enemy’s vexillifer: even the First Khan would never have thought to harm a vanquished banner bearer.  Vexillifers are usually spared the fate of their compatriots in order to carry the record of the conflict and the fallen back to their homesea.  There is a code of honor in this practice, as commanders would want their own vexillifer to be allowed to return home and bring succor to those whose loved ones are now lost.

As a result, Vexillifers are welcome most everywhere.  They are held in high regard among mercenary companies and commoners alike, for news spreads slowly to the masses on the currents.  A vexillifer, no matter what his ethnicity, is a welcome guest as long as he behaves, and ignores any penalties from Social Flaws he or the people he interacts with posses.  They bring news that would normally take months to years to eventually spread across Elqua.  That, and their duty to bring closure to the families of dead mariners gives them an automatic safe-guard in their travels.

GAME RULE INFORMATION

Vexillifers have the following game statistics.

Abilities:  Serving as the group’s morale supporter, vexillifers vitally need a high Charisma.  Through charm, stirring oratory, and rousing cadence calls, vexillifers bolster the troops serving with them.

Race:  Despite their origins in ancient Chelon and later Orcan navies, vexillifers can be of any race.  Vexillifers of the navies of the Known World tend to be the same race as their homesea, and occasionally you may find a Ceph serving as a vexillifer in a private force.

Alignment: Any non-chaotic.
Hit Dice: d8.
Starting Funds: 3d6x10 gp.

CLASS SKILLS
The vexillifer’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Bluff, Concentration, Craft (alchemy, armorsmithing, bonecarving, bowmaking, gemcutting, stoneworking, tools, trapmaking, weaponsmithing), Creature Lore, Decipher Script, Diplomacy, Gather Information, Handle Animal, Knowledge (any), Knowledge (arcana, architecture, dungeoneering), and Perform*.

*Perform works like the 3E skill, where each rank enables a new method of performing, and each method shares the same level of skill.  Vexillifers learn to meld their methods of performance into a tapestry of eloquent persuasion.

Skill Points at 1st level: (6 + Int modifier) x4
Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 6+ Int Modifier

CLASS FEATURES
All of the following are the vexillifer’s class features.

Vexillifer Class Abilities Chart

Level BAB Fort Ref Will Feats
1st +0 +0 +0 +2 Bardic cadence, company heraldry, healing, in-the-field education, inspire courage, vexillifer knowledge
2nd +1 +0 +0 +3
3rd +2 +1 +1 +3 Inspire competence
4th +3 +1 +1 +4
5th +4 +1 +1 +4 Inspire courage +2, metasonal magic
6th +5 +2 +2 +5 Suggestion
7th +6/+1 +2 +2 +5 Proxy leadership
8th +7/+2 +2 +2 +6
9th +8/+3 +3 +3 +6 Inspire greatness, idetic memory
10th +9/+4 +3 +3 +7 Inspire courage +3
11th +10/+5 +3 +3 +7
12th +11/+6/+1 +4 +4 +8 Song of freedom
13th +12/+7/+2 +4 +4 +8
14th +13/+8/+3 +4 +4 +9
15th +14/+9/+4 +5 +5 +9 Inspire heroics, Inspire courage +4
16th +15/+10/+5 +5 +5 +10
17th +16/+11/+6/+1 +5 +5 +10
18th +17/+12/+7/+2 +6 +6 +11 Mass suggestion
19th +18/+13/+8/+3 +6 +6 +11
20th +19/+14/+9/+4 +6 +6 +12 Inspire courage +5


Weapon and Armor Proficiency:
The vexillifer is proficient in all simple weapons, as well as the usage of light armor and shields.  Any armor with an Arcane Spell Failure Chance applies that same percentage to vexillifers performing bardic songs.

Bardic Cadence:  Vexillifers may perform special chants called cadences.  These cadances are similar to bardic music, and the vexillifer gains a bonus number of bardic music usages per day equal to their Cha modifier.

Vexillifers may employ a Listen check in the same manner a spellcaster uses Spellcraft, but only to determine the bardic songs of other vexillifers or magical spells and effects that depend on sonics (not just spells with vocal components).

To start a bardic song is a standard action, and uses up a number of daily uses of bardic song (dependent on the particular bardic song, usually 1 usage).  All bardic songs are immediate sonic effects unless otherwise stipulated.  Continuous bardic songs require a vexillifer to pass a Concentration check at DC 15 to make a standard action while singing, otherwise they can only make move actions and still maintain their bardic song.  A continuous bardic song can be ended as a free action.

Countersong: A vexillifer with 3 or more ranks in Perform can uses his voice to counter other vexillifer or magical effects that are based on sound (spells with verbal components are not enough to qualify for countering).  Each round of countersinging requires a Perform check on the part of the vexillifer, and a countersong can be maintained for 1 round per level of the vexillifer.

Anyone within 30 ft. of the countering vexillifer (including the vexillifer himself) that is targeted by a sonic or language-dependent attack (such as a sound burst or command spell) may use the vexillifer’s Perform check result in place of his saving throw if, after the saving throw is rolled, the Perform check proves to be higher.  Anyone in the area  already under the effects of  sonic or language-dependent attack gains another saving throw against the effect in each round it can hear the countersong, but must use the vexillifer’s Perform roll as the result for the save.  Countersong cannot be used against effects that do not allow a save.

Fascinate: A vexillifer with 3 or more ranks in his Perform skill can use this bardic song to cause one or more creatures to become fascinated with him.  This is an enchantment (compulsion), mind-affecting ability.  Each creature to be fascinated must be within 90 feet, able to see and hear the vexilifer, and be able to pay attention to him.  The vexillifer must conversely be able to see the victim, and unless the vexillifer passes a Concentration check the ability cannot be used in combat.  For every three levels beyond his first, the vexillifer may target another victim per usage of this spell.

To use this bardic song, the vexillifer must make a Perform check.  The result is the DC for the Will save of each affected creature.  If the victim passes his save, the vexillifer cannot try to fascinate him again until after 24 hours later.  If the victims fails his Will save, the creature ceases all actions and listens quietly to the vexillifer’s bardic song.  The vexillifer may continue this bardic song for 1 round per vexillifer level so long as he continues to pass his Concentration checks.

While fascinated, a victim suffers a -4 penalty to skill checks made as reactions, such as Listen or Spot checks.  Any potential threat, such as an ally of the vexillifers approaching the victim, requires the vexillifer to make a new Perform check and allows the victim a fresh Will save at the new Perform result.  Any obvious threat automatically breaks the fascination effect.

Inspire Courage: A vexillifer with 3 or more ranks in a Perform skill can use his bardic song to inspire courage in his allies (including himself), bolstering them against fear and improving their combat abilities. To be affected, an ally need only be able to hear the vexillifer sing.  The effect lasts for as long as the ally hears the bardic song and for 5 rounds thereafter (assuming the vexillifer can continue to pass any required Concentration checks).  An affected ally receives a +1 morale bonus on saving throws against charm and fear effects and a +1 morale bonus on attack and weapon damage rolls.  At 5th level, and every five vexillifer levels thereafter, this bonus increases by 1 (+2 at 5th, +3 at 10th, +4 at 15th, and +5 at 20th). Inspire courage is a mind-affecting ability.

Intimidate: A vexillifer with at least 3 ranks in perform and 1 rank in Intimidate may perform this song.  This over-zealous cadence undermines the confidence of enemies within earshot and fills them with dread of the vexillifer and his compatriots.  To be affected, the enemy must be able to hear the song for a full round, and causes a -2 morale penalty to saving throws against charm and fear effects, a -1 morale penalty to attack and damage rolls, and negates any standing inspire courage effect.  The effect lasts as long as the vexillifer sings and for 5 rounds thereafter, and maintaining the song while still performing other standard actions requires a concentration check at DC 15.

Inspire Competence: A vexillifer with 6 or more ranks in his Perform skill can use his bardic song to help an ally succeed in a task.  The ally must be within 30 feet of the vexillifer and be able to see and hear him, as the vexillifer must also be able to see the ally.  The vexillifer can give the ally a +2 competence bonus on skill checks with a particular skill as long as the vexillifer continues passing his Concentration checks while maintaining the bardic song, up to two minutes.  This is a mind-affecting ability.

Terrifying Cadence: A vexillifer with at least 8 ranks of Perform and 8 ranks in Intimidate may lead their company in a terrifying cadence, striking fear into the hearts of his enemies.  All opponents within 30 ft. must make a Will save (DC 10 +½ vexillifer’s level + vexillifer’s Con mod) or become frightened for 2d6 rounds.  The vexillifer can affect creatures equal to his HD +1 HD per four members of the company performing the cadence. The ability is equal to the frightful presence ability.

Suggestion: A vexillifer of 6th level or higher with 9 or more ranks in his Perform skill can make a suggestion (as the spell) to a creature that he has already fascinated.  Using this ability does not break the vexillifer’s concentration on the fascinate effect, nor does it allow a second saving throw against the fascinate effect

Making a suggestion does not count against a vexillifer’s daily limit on bardic songs. A Will saving throw (DC 10 + ½ vexillifer’s level + vexillifer’s Charisma modifier) negates the effect.  This ability affects only a single creature. Suggestion is an enchantment (compulsion), mind-affecting, language dependent ability.

Inspire Greatness: A vexillifer of 9th level or higher with 12 or more ranks in a Perform skill can use bardic song to inspire greatness in himself or a single willing ally within 30 feet, granting him or her extra fighting capability.  For every three levels a vexillifer attains beyond 9th, he can target one additional ally with a single use of this ability (two at 12th level, three at 15th, four at 18th).  To inspire greatness, a vexillifer must sing and an ally must hear him sing.  The effect lasts for as long as the ally hears the bard sing and for 5 rounds thereafter, contingent on the vexillifer passing all required Concentration checks.

A creature inspired with greatness gains 2 bonus Hit Dice (d10s), the commensurate number of temporary hit points (apply the target’s Constitution modifier, if any, to these bonus Hit Dice), a +2 competence bonus on attack rolls, and a +1 competence bonus on Fortitude saves.  The bonus Hit Dice count as regular Hit Dice for determining the effect of spells that are Hit Dice dependent.  Inspire greatness is a mind-affecting ability.

Greater Intimidate: A vexillifer of at least 12th level and with at least 15 ranks in Perform and 12 ranks in Intimidate can release an even more powerful version of intimidate song.  It is identical to the intimidate song except that the penalties are -6 and -3 respectively.  Using this ability takes 2 daily bardic song uses.

Song of Freedom: A vexillifer of 12th level or higher with 15 or more ranks in their Perform skill can use a bardic song to create an effect equivalent to the break enchantment spell (caster level equals the character’s vexillifer level).  Using this ability requires 1 minute of uninterrupted concentration and singing, and it functions on a single target within 30 feet.  A vexillifer cannot use song of freedom on himself.

Inspire Heroics: A vexillifer of 15th level or higher with 18 or more ranks in a Perform skill can use a bardic song to inspire tremendous heroism in himself or a single willing ally within 30 feet.  For every three vexillifer levels the character attains beyond 15th, he can inspire heroics in one additional creature.  To inspire heroics, a vexillifer must sing and an ally must hear the bard sing for a full round.  A creature so inspired gains a +4 morale bonus on saving throws and a +4 dodge bonus to AC.  The effect lasts for as long as the ally hears the bardic song and for up to 5 rounds thereafter, and the vexillifer successfully passes all required Concentration checks. Inspire heroics is a mind-affecting ability.

Mass Suggestion:  This ability functions like suggestion, above, except that a vexillifer of 18th level or higher with 21 or more ranks in his Perform skill can make the suggestion simultaneously to any number of creatures that he has already fascinated. Mass suggestion is an enchantment (compulsion), mind-affecting, language-dependent ability.

Company Heraldry: A vexillifer may create a semi-magical item in the form of a Company Banner.  This item consists of a harness strapped to back of the vexillifer that extends a pole upward, from which the second half of the item is connected: the banner proper.

Through this item, the vexillifer may grant several bonuses to the company he is attached.  The item itself cannot grant the bonuses — the power must come through a vexillifer wielding it.

The company banner gives the vexillifer an extra +5 ft. per two class levels extension in rage for all his bardic music abilities.  It is said that so long as a soldier can see his company’s banner, his vexillifer can inspire him.

A company banner allows a vexillifer to grant the following bonuses up to the level of the banner’s creator once per day:

Banner Rank Vexillifer Level Ability
1st 1st Message
2nd 3rd Alarm
3rd 5th Calm Emotions
4th 8th Clairaudience/Clairvoyance
5th 11th Zone of Silence
6th 14th Dream
7th 17th Find the Path
8th 20th Heroes Feast

To activate the ability, the vexillifer channels a number of bardic musics equal to the level of the spell effect (1-6 uses), except for Message, which can be used for free once per round as per the spell.

Further, a company banner grants a +1 morale bonus to saves vs. fear and other morale effects, increasing by +1 for every 5 levels of the banner’s equivalent creator level.  Should a company banner be captured by an enemy, this becomes a morale penalty and any members of the demoralized company suffer an equivalent penalty to any Spell Resistance they may have.

A vexillifer may “improve” an already created company banner (indeed, it is common practice to maintain a company banner from generation to generation), but only when his level is higher to that of the item’s original creator or the last vexillifer to improve it.

An organization may only have one Company Banner at a time, though it may have other mundane banners (such as battalion, navy, and so on).

Cost:  rank^2 days, 2,000 gp/rank, and 1,000 XP/rank.  Gold piece cost is often spread across the entire company, with each member chipping into the banner fund.  A company commander is not only expected to pay for part of the banner, but share in at least half the experience points cost as well.

Healing — Healing magic cast by vexillifers alleviates damage instead of curing it.  Alleviate spells convert hit point damage into non-lethal subdual damage.

In-the-Field Education:  At each level, vexillifers may put an additional skill point in one of the following:  Creature Lore, Knowledge, Profession, or Perform.  He is still limited by the maximum number of skill ranks according to his level.  Further, a vexillifer ignores the adjustment to the DC for learning the first rank of a new skill he has no ranks in.

Vexillifer Knowledge is a specialized version of the bardic knowledge feat, just limited to aspects of the military life, activity, and history.  For example, the vexillifer might know about a soldier’s past, religious affiliation, or political bent, but would be clueless of the same when asked about a local mayor or famous artisan.  The vexillifer might have insight to a famous battleground such as Kopian Fields, but lack any knowledge of the notable black mangrove forest.  Legendary items are similarly recalled: any vexillifer knows the fame of Khantusk, but few could tell you much about the Tantalum Mask.

A bard may make a special bardic knowledge check with a bonus equal to his bard level + his Intelligence modifier to see whether he knows some relevant information about local notable people, legendary items, or noteworthy places. (If the bard has 5 or more ranks in Knowledge (history), he gains a +2 bonus on this check.)

A successful bardic knowledge check will not reveal the powers of a magic item but may give a hint as to its general function. A bard may not take 10 or take 20 on this check; this sort of knowledge is essentially random.

MetaSonal Magic — At 5th level, warbard may spontaneously apply the following metamagic feats to any spell he cast by sacrificing a number of uses of his bardic music equaling the increase in level: Enlarge (1), Extend (1), and Heighten (1),  At 10th he gains Empower (2), and at 15th he gains Widen (3).  While this ability does not take up a higher spell slot, it does require the warbard to be able to cast spells of that level.  This ability can only be used on spells granted by the warbard class.  To use, the warbard must make a Perform check (DC 10+spell’s level).  The warbard must still take and qualify for the metamagic feats as normal.  These spells gain the Sonic descriptor, and can be countered with the countersong bardic music ability.

Proxy Leadership:  At 7th level, vexillifers gain the ability Proxy Leadership.  It acts much like the Leadership feat, but grants the ability to the company the vexillifer represents.  In essence, the vexillifer possesses the feat, but the company gains the benefits.

The cohort granted by this feat would serve as an apprentice to the vexillifer (in case something ill should befall him in the course of his duties) and the followers would serve as support staff (cooks, groomers, etc., but not serious combatants).  Should the vexillifer ever retire or be slain, any cohort and followers of a company gained by this feat are free to act on their own, staying or leaving as they like — they are under no compunction to follow the vexillifer from company to company.

A vexillifer cannot be the apprentice of another vexillifer once he has gained this ability, nor should the apprentice gain the Leadership feat himself while still apprenticing.

Idetic Memory: Vexillifers can recall information with amazing clarity but at undependable frequency.  At 9th level, they gain a “photographic memory”.  By spending one use of bardic music, the vexillifer may attempt to recall something that occurred near him that did not immediately capture his attention.  The character may re-roll a Spot check at the old DC +2 per month of time passed to subconsciously notice what he consciously missed.

Only things clearly visible but gone unnoticed at the moment maybe recalled: the title of a book on a shelf, the color of a dress on a passer-by, and the like. This ability is crucial for vexillifers — it is how they can keep track of fellow soldiers in the heat of battle, and what allows them to bring news of their final fates home to their surviving kin.

At 17th level, the vexillifer’s idetic memory sharpens, enabling him to recite, verbatim, any snippet of conversation which he was in the vicinity of when it occurred.  By spending two uses of bardic music, the vexillifer may re-roll a Listen check a the old DC +3 per month of time passed to subconsciously notice what he consciously missed.  This check can only be made once per week, and cannot be used to recall a failed Idetic Memory check, only the original event.

“There is no glamour in telling a parent their fry died bravely,
only the burden to give their hearts succor as hope beyond hope dies…”
— The Chronicles of Kobalt Company, Araki Imari, company vexillifer.

 

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