Mercenary (3.5e Class)

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Whether it be a thug, a bounty hunter, or an honorable swordsman, they'll do whatever you pay them for.

Making a Mercenary[edit]

A strong and adaptive front line combatant. While more fragile than the fighter and barbarian, the mercenary's abilities allow for a more flexible style of fighting.

Abilities: As a primarily melee based class, strength, dexterity, and constitution are important. Intelligence also powers some of the mercenary's abilities in addition to supplementing skill points..

Races: Almost every common race has warriors who fight for money.

Alignment: Often neutral on the Good-Evil axis, but a mercenary can be any except for Lawful Good and Chaotic Evil. The nature of a mercenary often conflicts with or breaks the code of someone who's lawful good and people typically don't trust chaotic evil characters enough to offer them a paying job.

Starting Gold: 4d6×10 gp (140 gp).

Starting Age: Moderate

Table: The Mercenary

Hit Die: d8

Level Base
Attack Bonus
Saving Throws Special
Fort Ref Will
1st +1 +2 +2 +0 Weapon of Choice, Veteran's Instincts, Ear to the Streets, Time is Money, The Code
2nd +2 +3 +3 +0 Urban Tracking
3rd +3 +3 +3 +1 Bonus Feat
4th +4 +4 +4 +1 Sneak Attack +1d6
5th +5 +4 +4 +1 Jury Rig
6th +6/+1 +5 +5 +2 Bonus Feat
7th +7/+2 +5 +5 +2 Field Medic
8th +8/+3 +6 +6 +2 Improved Weapon of Choice
9th +9/+4 +6 +6 +3 Bonus Feat
10th +10/+5 +7 +7 +3 Sneak Attack +2d6, Acquired Talent
11th +11/+6/+1 +7 +7 +3 War Stories
12th +12/+7/+2 +8 +8 +4 Bonus Feat
13th +13/+8/+3 +8 +8 +4 Making an Example
14th +14/+9/+4 +9 +9 +4 Enhanced Weapon of Choice
15th +15/+10/+5 +9 +9 +5 Bonus Feat, Acquired Talent
16th +16/+11/+6/+1 +10 +10 +5 Sneak Attack +3d6
17th +17/+12/+7/+2 +10 +10 +5
18th +18/+13/+8/+3 +11 +11 +6 Bonus Feat
19th +19/+14/+9/+4 +11 +11 +6
20th +20/+15/+10/+5 +12 +12 +6 Acquired Talent

Class Skills (4 + Int modifier per level, ×4 at 1st level)
Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disguise (Cha), Gather Information (Cha), Heal (Wis), Hide (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (local) (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Search (Int), Spot (Wis).

Class Features[edit]

A strong front line combatant as well as a valuable party member in exploration. All of the following are class features of the Mercenary.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: A typical mercenary is proficient with all simple weapons, martial weapons, light armor, and shields.

Weapon of Choice: At 1st level, a mercenary selects his weapon of choice. This can be any weapon he can wield, even an exotic weapon. He gains proficiency with that weapon and a competence bonus to attack and damage rolls equal to his Int/2 (rounded down).

Improved Weapon of Choice: At 8th level the competence bonus increases to equal the mercenary's Intelligence modifier.

Enhanced Weapon of Choice: At 14th level the competence bonus increases to equal 1-1/2 mercenary's Intelligence modifier.

Ear to the Streets (Ex): A mercenary gains a variant of bardic knowledge that applies exclusively to Knowledge (local) and (history). In addition, he gets a +4 bonus to Gather Information and Diplomacy checks when looking for a job.

Time is Money: A mercenary's whole purpose revolves around money. He takes a -1 morale penalty on attack rolls, skill checks, and saves whenever he is working towards something for which he isn't getting paid. As long as there's a high probability of either a payday or loot at the end of the job, this penalty does not come into effect.

The Code: When a mercenary accepts a job, he agrees to complete it regardless of his personal feelings. Mercenaries often have other clauses in their personal codes but a mercenary must act professionally above all else. This can lead to moral conflicts which is why many mercenaries are some form of neutral in alignment. Because of this code, a mercenary may not multiclass as another class that has a contradicting code of conduct (Paladins, Druids, and some Clerics depending on the patron deity).

Veteran's Instincts (Ex): A dead man doesn't get paid, a mercenary adds his Intelligence modifier (if positive) to his Reflex saves and Initiative as well as half his Intelligence modifier to his AC

Urban Tracking: An expert at finding people who don't want to be found, a mercenary gains the Urban Tracking feat at 2nd level.

Bonus Feat: At 3rd level, and every three levels after, a mercenary gains a bonus feat from either the list of general feats or fighter feats.

Sneak Attack (Ex): At 4th level a Mercenary gains a sneak attack. If a mercenary can catch an opponent when he is unable to defend himself effectively from his attack, he can strike a vital spot for extra damage.

The mercenary's attack deals extra damage 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 rogue flanks her target. This extra damage is 1d6 at 4th level, and it increases by 1d6 every six mercenary levels thereafter. Should the mercenary score a critical hit with a sneak attack, this extra damage is not multiplied. For purposes of multiclassing, a level in rogue counts as two additional mercenary levels (For example a rogue 1/mercenary 8 would have a sneak attack bonus of +2d6 from his mercenary levels and +1d6 from his rogue level for a total of +3d6).

Ranged attacks can count as sneak attacks only if the target is within 30 feet.

With a sap (blackjack) or an unarmed strike, a mercenary can make a sneak attack that deals nonlethal damage instead of lethal damage. He cannot use a weapon that deals lethal damage to deal nonlethal damage in a sneak attack, not even with the usual –4 penalty.

A mercenary can sneak attack only living creatures with discernible anatomies—undead, constructs, oozes, plants, and incorporeal creatures lack vital areas to attack. Any creature that is immune to critical hits is not vulnerable to sneak attacks. The mercenary must be able to see the target well enough to pick out a vital spot and must be able to reach such a spot. A mercenary cannot sneak attack while striking a creature with concealment or striking the limbs of a creature whose vitals are beyond reach.

Jury Rig: A mercenary is an expert at fixing or modifying his own gear when money is tight. At 5th level he gains a +6 competency bonus to Craft checks that involve repairing, improving, or modifying gear that he's used for at least one full job.

Field Medic: At 7th level, a mercenary has been injured enough times to treat his or others' wounds with surprising effectiveness. He may heal himself or another by 1d4/2 levels each day. These points can be spread out among as many uses as the mercenary wishes. This can only be used if the mercenary has access to a Healer's Kit or some similar source of medical supplies or medicinal herbs. This ability also cannot be used in combat.

Acquired Talent (Su): After seeing countless attacks, tricks, and styles of battle, a mercenary learns how to imitate some of what he's seen during his experiences. At 10th level and every five levels after, a mercenary may select one level zero spell from the Sorcerer/Wizard spell list to be used at will, one stance from the Tome of Battle. or one standard or (Extraordinary ability from another class. A character learn a talent that another class obtains at a level more than his mercenary level/3 (For example, a rogue obtains Uncanny Dodge at level four, thus a mercenary must be at least level 12 to learn this ability). His initiator level equal his 1/2 mercenary level, and his spell DCs are equal to 10+1/2 caster level+Int. When acquiring a talent which progresses (such as trap sense) he only receives the first level of talent.

War Stories: A mercenary has seen and fought some things you probably wouldn't believe. At 11th level, a mercenary gains Perform (Oratory) as a class skill and a bonus in Perform (Oratory) equal to 1/2HD.

Making an Example (Ex): At 13th level, any time a mercenary deal enough damage with a melee attack to drop a creature (typically by dropping it to less than 0 hit points or killing it), all foes within 30 feet with line of sight must succeed on a Will save (DC 15 + Cha) or cower until the start of their next turn. If the blow that dropped the creature was a critical hit, add +4 to the save DC. This is a mind-affecting fear effect.


Most mercenaries either die young or survive long enough to amass a respectable amount of wealth and retire. If a mercenary changes to a forbidden alignment, he loses access to the abilities: Veteran Instincts, Ear to the Streets, Time is Money, and Making an Example, and his Weapon of Choice level is decreased by one step (For example a Paladin 1/Mercenary 14 would only have access to Improved Weapon of Choice instead of Enhanced Weapon of Choice).

Epic Mercenary[edit]

Table: The Epic Mercenary

Hit Die: d8

Level Special
21st Bonus Feat
22nd Sneak Attack +4d6
24th Bonus Feat
25th Acquired Talent
27th Bonus Feat
28th Sneak Attack +5d6
30th Bonus Feat, Acquired Talent

4 + Int modifier skill points per level.

Sneak Attack: The epic mercenary's sneak attack damage continues to increase by +1d6 every six levels.

Acquired Talent (Su): The epic mercenary continues to acquire a new talent every five levels after the 20th.

Bonus Feats: The epic mercenary gains a bonus feat (selected from the list of epic mercenary bonus feats) every three levels after 21st.

Epic Fighter Bonus Feat List: Armor Skin, Combat Archery, Damage Reduction, Devastating Critical, Dire Charge, Distant Shot, Energy Resistance, Epic Endurance, Epic Leadership, Epic Prowess, Epic Toughness, Epic Weapon Focus, Epic Weapon Specialization, Exceptional Deflection, Improved Combat Reflexes, Improved Manyshot, Improved Stunning Fist, Improved Whirlwind Attack, Infinite Deflection, Instant Reload, Legendary Commander, Legendary Rider, Legendary Wrestler, Overwhelming Critical, Penetrate Damage Reduction, Perfect Two-Weapon Fighting, Reflect Arrows, Spellcasting Harrier, Storm of Throws, Superior Initiative, Swarm of Arrows, Two-Weapon Rend, Uncanny Accuracy. In addition to the feats on this list, the fighter may treat any feat designated as a Fighter Bonus Feat, but not listed here, as being on his or her bonus feat list.

Campaign Information[edit]

Playing a Mercenary[edit]

Religion: Due to the nature of their work, mercenaries, if religious at all, tend to worship gods of luck, wealth, and battle.

Other Classes: Most mercenaries have seen enough of the world to get along fairly well with most classes. They may not understand the altruism of the paladin of the self control of the monk, but he harbors them no ill will based purely on their lifestyles.

Combat: A mercenary is a front line combatant. He can only wear light armor but his veteran instincts helps mitigate that. His Weapon of Choice ability helps him keep up with characters like fighters and barbarians and his Field Medic ability helps support allies out of combat.

Advancement: The mercenary's code prevents him from multiclassing as classes with other codes, but some prestige as sorcerers and wizards or rogues. The good base attack and feat progression of the mercenary also sets him up well for prestige classes.

Mercenaries in the World[edit]

Sure I'll to that highly morally questionable thing you're asking, but it's going to cost you.
—Lenroc Tal, Half-Elf Mercenary

Mercenaries are universal to any world where people need jobs done that they'd rather not do themselves.

Daily Life: Wake up, do job, get paid, go to sleep.

Organizations: While there are no official, worldwide mercenary groups. They often band together to take on large scale, high paying jobs.

NPC Reactions: Reactions depend entirely on how the location treat strangers (if the mercenary is unknown) or his reputation (if he is known).

Mercenary Lore[edit]

Characters with ranks in Knowledge (local) can research mercenaries to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.

Knowledge (local)
DC Result
5 Mercenaries are wandering warriors who will do most jobs if you pay well enough
10 Most mercenaries specialize in one weapon that they're quite fond of.
15 While they'll occasionally do jobs for free, if they're not paid, mercenaries rarely put their full effort forward unless there's something to gain.
20 Some skill mercenaries possess startling skills that are thought unique to other types of adventurers.

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