Desert Nomad (3.5e Class)
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Skilled fighters, the nomads claim the deserts of the world as their own kingdom. Few can stand one-on-one with a skilled nomad, for they practice strange forms of fighting, and can use a type of magical sand to further hamper their foes: blinding them, slowing them, even choking them.
Nomads travel the desert either alone or in large groups, making camps when they need rest. They also have trade posts in various deserts for travelers to buy goods from. Each nomad invariably carries a container - a hemp sack, a leather pouch, a hollowed-out gourd or the like - of sand with him. By the inherent powers of the nomad, this sand can become animate and achieve a variety of tasks.
Desert Nomads make good company with those they trust, and once you gain their trust they consider you "family", and will give their life without a second thought for someone they consider a friend. Nomads often have a boisterous, larger-than-life personality, both in good and in bad: they might indulge in the delights of food and drink, but on the other hand hold rivalries for life.
Making a Nomad
The nomad class is a limited one: since the skills of these warriors can only be learned by someone who comes from a desert region with close to no rainfall, has the innate magical power to animate the nomad's trademark sand, and is a natural fighter to boot, they are fairly rare, unlike fighters or rogues who can come from a variety of walks of life.
Nomads are nonetheless a wandering folk, which means they can be encountered all over the world, although the prefer arid wilderness over structured cities. Thanks to their incredible skills, nomads never have trouble finding employment: thanks to their relentless, larger-than-life nature, they are superb as ambassadors, diplomats and enforcers, and function well as spies, assassins and bodyguards.
Abilities: As a fighting class, a nomad needs Strength (or Dexterity, depending on the feats and weapons chosen) and Constitution, the former to increase their offensive qualities and the latter to increase their longevity. Charisma is also important, since many of the nomad's abilities derive their effectiveness from it. Furthermore, many of the nomad's skills are Charisma-based.
Races: Any folk who can stand the heat and chill of the desert and not lose heart in the solitude among the dunes can become a nomad. Humans and dwarves are by far the most common nomads, thanks to adaptable nature (in the case of humans) or stout, durable bodies (in the case of dwarves). Elves and half-elves rarely become nomads, since they loathe the discomforts of the wild life.
Alignment: No alignment is barred from nomads: the lifestyle of the individual or the nomadic tribe they are a part of decides what their alignment will be. Some nomads function as guardians and protectors of oases and are Good, while others pillage and maraud and are Evil. As free, independent folk, they tend to err on the Chaotic side of things.
Starting Gold: 6d4x10 gp (150 gp)
|1st||+0||+2||+2||+0||Blinding sand (ranged touch), Dodge||—|
|2nd||+1||+3||+3||+0||Favorable odds +1||1|
|5th||+3||+4||+4||+1||Favorable odds +2||2|
|8th||+6/+1||+6||+6||+2||Choking sand (standard action), favorable odds +3||4|
|10th||+7/+2||+7||+7||+3||Blinding sand (cone)||5|
|11th||+8/+3||+7||+7||+3||Favorable odds +4||5|
|13th||+9/+4||+8||+8||+4||Choking sand (move action)||6|
|14th||+10/+5||+9||+9||+4||Improved uncanny dodge, favorable odds +5||7|
|16th||+12/+7/+2||+10||+10||+5||Wall of sand 1/day||8|
|17th||+12/+7/+2||+10||+10||+5||Sandstorm (total concealment), favorable odds +6||8|
|20th||+15/+10/+5||+12||+12||+6||Favorable odds +7||10|
Class Skills (6 + Int modifier per level, ×4 at 1st level)
All of the following are class features of the Desert Nomad.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: A nomad is proficient with all simple and martial weapons, light armor, medium armor, and shields (except tower shields).
Blinding Sand (Su): As a move action, a nomad can attempt to throw his animate sand at any opponent within 30 feet to blind them. To throw the sand, make a ranged touch attack. If the attack is successful, the opponent is blinded for 1d4 rounds.
Blinded opponents can't see, take a –2 penalty to Armor Class, lose their Dexterity bonus to AC (if any), move at half speed, and take a –4 penalty on Search checks and on most Strength- and Dexterity-based skill checks. All checks and activities that rely on vision (such as reading and Spot checks) automatically fail. All opponents are considered to have total concealment (50% miss chance) to blinded characters.
At 10th level, a nomad can deliver his blinding sand in a 30-foot cone with a standard action if he so wishes. All opponents caught in the cone must succeed on a Reflex save (DC 10 + ½ nomad's character level + nomad's Cha modifier) or be blinded for 1d4 rounds.
Dodge: A nomad gains Dodge as a bonus feat, even if he doesn't meet the normal prerequisites.
Favorable Odds (Ex): Nomads are skilled fighters, but they can't challenge all opponents in raw power. Thus, they learn to use their opponent's status to their gain. At 2nd level, a nomad gains a +1 competence bonus to attack and damage rolls any time his target would be denied a Dexterity bonus to AC (whether the target actually has a Dexterity bonus or not), or when the nomad flanks his target. This bonus increases by 1 for every three nomad levels thereafter (+2 at 5th, +3 at 8th, +4 at 11th, +5 at 14th, +6 at 17th, and +7 at 20th level).
Resistance: The scorching heat of desert days and the freezing cold of its nights has left the nomad unnaturally resistant to temperature extremes. At 2nd level, a nomad gains resistance to cold and fire, as shown on Table: The Nomad.
Mobility: A nomad gains Mobility as a bonus feat at 3rd level, even if he doesn't meet the normal prerequisites.
Sinking Sand (Su): Starting at 4th level, as a standard action, a nomad can cast a handful of sand anywhere on the ground within 30 feet of himself. The sand animates and attempts to grasp creatures in the area, replicating the effects of an entangle spell (DC 10 + ½ nomad's character level + nomad's Cha modifier), except the effect lasts for 1 minute. A nomad can use sinking sand a number of times per day equal to 3 + his Charisma modifier.
Spring Attack: A nomad gains Spring Attack as a bonus feat at 6th level, even if he doesn't meet the normal prerequisites.
Uncanny Dodge (Ex): Starting at 7th level, a nomad can react to danger before his senses would normally allow him to do so. He retains his Dexterity bonus to AC (if any) even if he is caught flat-footed or struck by an invisible attacker. However, he still loses his Dexterity bonus to AC if immobilized.
If a nomad already has uncanny dodge from a different class he automatically gains improved uncanny dodge instead.
Choking Sand (Su): Starting at 8th level, once per round as a standard action, a nomad can animate a massive hand or other appendage of sand to choke an adjacent opponent. The hand attempts to grapple the opponent (attack bonus to make contact equal to nomad's class level + nomad's Cha modifier and grapple bonus is this same figure). The sand gets one grapple attack per round and deals 1d6+6 points of lethal damage on each successful grapple check against the opponent. If the sand fails to grapple the opponent or the opponent escapes the grapple, the sand instantly unanimates.
Starting at 16th level, a nomad can use choking sand as a move action. He can still use the ability only once per turn.
Whirlwind Attack: A nomad gains Whirlwind Attack as a bonus feat at 9th level, even if he doesn't meet the normal prerequisites.
Sandstorm (Su): Starting at 12th level, a nomad can envelop his form in a swirling plume of sand that provides concealment (20% miss chance) for up to a number of rounds each day equal to the nomad's class level. The duration of the effect need not be consecutive rounds. A nomad can commence or seize the sandstorm once per turn as a free action.
Starting at 17th level, the plume of sand surrounding the nomad thickens, giving him total concealment (50% miss chance) when sandstorm is active, although since the sand cloud is localized, all adjacent opponents know which square the nomad is in.
Improved Uncanny Dodge (Ex): At 14th level and higher, a nomad can no longer be flanked. This defense denies a rogue the ability to sneak attack the nomad by flanking him, unless the attacker has at least four more rogue levels than the target has nomad levels. If a character already has uncanny dodge from a second class, the character automatically gains improved uncanny dodge instead, and the levels from the classes that grant uncanny dodge stack to determine the minimum level a rogue must be to flank the character.
Wall of Sand (Su): Once per day, a nomad of 16th level can create a massive wall of hardened sand from a mere handful, replicating the effects of a wall of stone spell (caster level equal to one-half nomad's class level), except each 5-foot square of the wall has 10 hit points per inch of thickness and hardness 5.
Vengeful Sand (Su): The sand a nomad keeps at his person begins protecting the nomad of its own volition, as long as the nomad's subconscious mind is awake. Whenever a nomad of 19th level or higher takes damage from a melee attack, the sand lashes out with a ranged touch attack (attack bonus equal to nomad's). If the attack is successful, the opponent is blinded for 1d4 rounds. This ability seizes functioning if the nomad is unconscious or dead.
|22nd||Choking sand (free action)||11|
|23rd||Favorable odds +8||11|
|25th||Wall of sand 2/day||12|
|26th||Favorable odds +9||13|
|28th||Wall of sand 2/day, bonus feat||14|
|29th||Favorable odds +10||14|
|30th||Wall of sand 3/day||15|
6 + Int modifier skill points per level.
Resistance: The epic nomad's resistance to cold and fire continues to increase by 1 every two levels (11 at 22nd, 12 at 24th, 13 and 26th, 14 at 28th, and 15 at 30th level).
Choking Sand (Su): Starting at 22nd level, the epic nomad can use choking sand as a free action. He can still use the ability only once per turn.
Favorable Odds (Ex): The epic nomad's competence bonus to attack and damage rolls continues to increase by 1 for every three nomad levels after 20th (+8 at 23rd, +9 at 26th, and +10 at 29th level).
Wall of Sand (Su): The epic nomad gains one use of wall of sand per day every five levels after 20th.
Bonus Feats: The epic nomad gains a bonus feat (selected from the list of epic nomad feats) every four levels after 20th.
Human Nomad Starting Package
Skill Selection: Pick a number of skills equal to 6 + Int modifier.
Feat: Combat Reflexes
Bonus Feat (human): Weapon Focus (any)
Gear: Scale mail, backpack, waterskin, bedroll, tent, sand satchel
Gold: 6d4 gp
Playing a Desert Nomad
Religion: Nomads venerate a variety of gods and goddesses, often concentrating their worship on gods of sun and of water, the two things nomad life in the desert is centered around. Most nomads consider themselves followers of Pelor, Ehlonna or Obad-Hai, although Olidammara has a great following as well.
Other Classes: Nomads come along well with most classes, since their training and abilities are so varied: their fighting abilities make them understand fighters, their skills enable them to relate with rogues and rangers, and their supernatural abilities associate themselves with spellcasters. A nomad is best complimented by either a direct melee fighter (to hide behind and flank with) or a supportive spellcaster (to buff up).
Combat: A nomad is at his best when supporting a fight from the sidelines or taking out single targets, much like a rogue. However, his abilities give him an amount of battlefield control, which makes him better for a support role than a pure frontline combatant. They can also become formidable ranged warriors with the right choice of feats.
Advancement: Many prestige classes, such as duelist, can improve the nomad's already formidable capabilities in combat, although since many of the classes abilities scale with level, it might be wise to stick to it for at least around 10-15 levels. Multiclassing also opens up interesting possibilities for a nomad: a 10th-level Nomad/10th-level Rogue can be a monster in melee.
Nomads in the World
|“||I've walked the scorching dunes, my feet burnt black by their heat. I've endured the cold of desert nights, my hair grayed by their chill. There is nothing you can do to intimidate me.||”|
|—Ramon, dwarf nomad|
The wandering lifestyle of a nomad lends itself well to the life of an adventurer. Since nomads are practical, adaptable folk, they tend to function well with people from all walks of life and are often the spokesperson of an adventuring group - or at least believe themselves to be.
Daily Life: Each nomad lives an individual life, unique to that person, but since they know the folly of not preparing for the hardships ahead, are often ones to maintain living quarters, hunt or forage for food, and entertain others with stories or jokes. What time they have left after these tasks they use on practicing their sand manipulation abilities and fighting prowess.
Organizations: Nomads, as they name implies, are often nomadic and move in tightly-knit tribes, although an adventuring group or similar setting is often a close-enough metaphor for one. There are no nomad organizations per se, but since each nomad tribe has its own customs, specifics and fighting styles, they (for most intents and purposes) count.
NPC Reactions: The pleasantly intrusive character that's so common to nomads usually makes them either adored or loathed by people - nomads rarely take the middle path of things. People who live near deserts and other arid regions are more likely to know of the nomads and of their strange powers.
Characters with ranks in Knowledge (local) or Knowledge (nature) can research nomads to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.
|10||Nomads are the powerful guardians of deserts and oases.|
|15||The combat training of monks includes not only physical fighting, but the animation and use of magical sand to hamper and blind foes.|
|20||The greatest nomads can envelop themselves in a mirage-like cover of sand that makes striking them nigh-impossible, and can strike from their cover with mobile hands of the same material, which choke their foes.|
Nomads in the Game
As outlined above, nomads fit into almost any adventuring party roleplay-wise, but their abilities also make them a good mechanical fit for most parties. They work well as a specialist class, filling whatever role the more one-trick-pony-classes have not yet filled: a nomad can be a spokesperson, a combat specialist, a battlefield controller or a roleplaying goldmine, depending on how he is played.
Sample Encounter: Abdul bin Asmalifon, the son of the leader of a marauding nomad tribe, has a habit of traveling farther from the group, sometimes entirely out of sight. He enjoys solitude and the quiet whispers of the dunes, and when he runs across a lonely traveler, enjoys butchering him or her himself, instead of letting others join the fight.
EL 12: Thanks to his distance to the main group of nomads, Abdul is often the first person a group of players will meet. He makes small talk and behaves kindly and courteously, all the while sizing up opposition. If the odds look good for him, he attacks suddenly and viciously.
|Male human nomad 9|
|NE Medium Humanoid (Human)|
|Init/Senses||+4/Listen +12, Spot +12|
|AC|| 22, touch 13, flat-footed 22; +1 dodge from Dodge|
(+3 Dex, +1 shield, +8 armor)
|hp||58 (9 HD)|
|Speed||20 ft. in breastplate (4 squares), base speed 30 ft.|
|Melee||Two +1 keen short swords +10/+5 (1d6+3/17-20) and +10/+5 (1d6+2/17-20)|
|Ranged||+1 composite longbow (+2 Str) +11/+6 (1d8+3)|
|Special Actions||Blinding sand (ranged touch), favorable odds +3, sinking sand, choking sand (standard action)|
|Abilities||Str 14, Dex 18, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 16|
|SQ||Resistance to cold and fire 4, uncanny dodge|
|Feats||Dodge, Improved Two-Weapon Fighting, Mobility, Spring Attack, Two-Weapon Defense, Two-Weapon Fighting, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus (short sword), Whirlwind Attack|
|Skills||Bluff +15, Diplomacy +15, Intimidate +15, Jump +14 (+11 with armor), Listen +12, Spot +12, Survival +12|
|Possessions||Two +1 keen short swords, +3 breastplate, gloves of dexterity +2, cloak of charisma +2|
|Blinding Sand (Su)||As a move action, Abdul can attempt to throw his animate sand at any opponent within 30 feet to blind them. To throw the sand, make a ranged touch attack. If the attack is successful, the opponent is blinded for 1d4 rounds.|
|Favorable Odds (Ex)||Abdul gains a +3 competence bonus to attack and damage rolls any time his target would be denied a Dexterity bonus to AC (whether the target actually has a Dexterity bonus or not), or when he flanks his target.|
|Sinking Sand (Su)||As a standard action, Abdul can cast a handful of sand anywhere on the ground within 30 feet of himself. The sand animates and attempts to grasp creatures in the area, replicating the effects of an entangle spell (DC 17), except the effect lasts for 1 minute. Abdul can use sinking sand 6 times per day. The save DC is Charisma-based.|
|Choking Sand (Su)||Once per round as a standard action, Abdul can animate a massive hand or other appendage of sand to choke an adjacent opponent. The hand attempts to grapple the opponent (attack bonus to make contact +12 and grapple bonus is this same figure). The sand gets one grapple attack per round and deals 1d6+6 points of lethal damage on each successful grapple check against the opponent. If the sand fails to grapple the opponent or the opponent escapes the grapple, the sand instantly unanimates.|
|Uncanny Dodge (Ex)||Abdul retains his Dexterity bonus to AC (if any) even if he is caught flat-footed or struck by an invisible attacker. However, he still loses his Dexterity bonus to AC if immobilized.|
Abdul is a wily combatant, using his high AC to wade in and out of melee, to quickly change places on the battlefield to throw massed attacks at single targets. His pride and bloodlust mean he doesn't fight with his fellow nomads, which makes him less effective, but the clever use of blinding sand and subsequent favorable odds means he is nonetheless a dangerous combatant.