Primal Warrior (3.5e Prestige Class)

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Primal Warrior
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Primal Warrior[edit]

I traveled once with a man who was set upon by a hidden crocodile. The man grasped the jaws and rolled with the beast, countering it and easily freeing himself. It amazed the whole party and quite obviously the crocodile, as well.
—Giede Laruote, human paladin, "Travels of the Dragon-Friend"

The humanoid races have striven constantly to be more deadly warriors since the dawn of civilization. New alloys, secret techniques, and warrior breeding make up for their basic weakness, though only if prepared. Thus, there are warriors who become animals in combat, using the lethal prowess of the most dangerous animals they've encountered or read about.

Becoming a Primal Warrior[edit]

Most primal warriors come from the ranks of fighters or monks (because they can more easily fight unarmed), but sometimes barbarians, rangers, and druids. They usually have had to combat animals in the past and want to use those fighting styles that so often confound humanoids.

Entry Requirements
Base Attack Bonus: +5.
Skills: Knowledge (Nature) 4, Survival 4.
Feats: Improved Unarmed Strike, Combat Expertise.
Special: Must have fought at least two types of animals unarmed.

Table: The Primal Warrior

Hit Die: d8

Level Base
Attack Bonus
Saving Throws Special
Fort Ref Will
1st +1 +2 +2 +0 Bestial aspect
2nd +2 +3 +3 +0 Wild step (10 ft.)
3rd +3 +3 +3 +1 Greater bestial aspect
4th +4 +4 +4 +1 Wild step (20 ft.)
5th +5 +4 +4 +1 Animal within

Class Skills (4 + Int modifier per level)
Balance (Dex), Climb (Str), Handle Animal (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge (Nature) (Int), Listen (Wis), Spot (Wis), Survival (Wis), and Swim (Str).

Class Features[edit]

All of the following are class features of the primal warrior.

Bestial Aspect (Su): Once per day, a primal warrior may select any aspect that he knows and use it for that day. He must meditate for one hour to select an aspect, which becomes his native aspect for the day. He may only know four aspects at any time, and must chose one to forget in order to learn another if he already knows four.

In order to learn an aspect, the primal warrior must have fought that animal type for at least five rounds of combat (chasing or escaping from an animal does not count). These rounds can be spread out across multiple individual animals, as long as they are all the same type (dire animals count as their base animal type). If he wishes to use an animal he has not fought sufficiently, he must make a Knowledge (nature) check, DC 12 + animal’s hit dice. If he fails this check, he may try again, but he must wait one week and spend at least 6 hours (not necessarily consecutive) in an environment that would permit knowledge of the animal to be gained (such as in a library or speaking with natives who hunt the animal). He gains a +2 cumulative bonus each for each 6 hours he spends learning. In addition, for every point his check exceeds the DC, he may use the animal as if it had an additional Hit Die, but these extra Hit Dice may not exceed the maximum allowed in the animal's Advancement section of its creature entry. In some cases this will provide no benefit to the primal warrior, but it will always provide one additional rank in a relevant skill (whichever the primal warrior is using for his aspect), and may provide a Base Attack Bonus increase. An increase in BAB will occur almost every HD increase; to determine the advanced animal's BAB, multiply its HD by 3/4 and round down. If the animal's HD passes a multiple of 4, increase its most important (for the primal warrior's purposes) ability score by 1; this may result in a beneficial change. If the primal warrior wishes to use the aspect of a more powerful version of an animal, and he's only fought normal ones, he must make a Knowledge (Nature) check, with the DC being 12 for one extra HD. Increase this DC by 1 for each extra HD.

Either way, if the primal warrior is able to acquire a bestial aspect, he must spend one day to gain it. First, he must focus on his knowledge of the animal and meditate for six hours. Then, he must practice the technique for four hours. During this time he must battle a real opponent (sparring a friend counts). Losing does not ruin the process, but the primal warrior must fight again until he wins or both combatants are satisfied. Upon waking the next morning, the primal warrior will know the bestial aspect permanently and already have it prepared for the day. The primal warrior must wait one week before attempting to learn another bestial aspect.

Generally, the primal warrior adds the aspect animal’s primary natural weapon to his own attacks. If he chooses, he may use this as his primary attack. In a Full Attack, he performs all his allowed attacks plus his aspect animal’s primary attack, which is made at his highest attack bonus. The damage is determined with the primal warrior's Strength or the animal's, whichever is higher. If the aspect animal has any special attack or special qualities (or sometimes even feats) that are iconic to the animal, the primal warrior may instead choose this. For instance, he could not choose a cheetah’s scent ability, because this is a very common animal ability and it is not what makes a cheetah so dangerous. Choosing a crocodile, however, allows Improved Grab, Hold Breath, and Skill Focus (Hide), because those all lend to a crocodile’s unique deadliness. Finally, he may also choose to gain any natural armor the creature has, but may not choose any other AC-changing stat.

Any time a primal warrior’s adrenaline is flowing (in combat, usually, but also intense situations such as controlling a ship in a storm), his native aspect becomes active. He may suppress it as a swift action as long as he wishes. While active, an aspect may slightly change his appearance in the direction of the animal. When the granted power is actually used, the body part(s) involved drastically change (about 75% animal) for as long as the power is used. Activating an aspect outside of a threatening situation requires a Constitution check every five rounds (DC 12 + animal’s HD). Failing deactivates the aspect, and the primal warrior may not attempt again until after he enters another threatening situation. These rules even apply to powers such as Skill Focus (Hide), although threatening situations are more lenient for these (such as setting an ambush). Using a known aspect that is not currently native to the primal warrior can be done in combat with no difficulty. The first time it is attempted each day, roll a Survival check, with the result being the number of rounds that can be spent in any non-native aspect. Changing aspects is a move action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity and can be combined with movement up to half the primal warrior’s speed. Non-native rounds can be spent all consecutively or as split up as the primal warrior desires and may use as many non-native aspects as are known. The DC to use a non-native aspect outside of a threatening situation is 12 + twice the animal’s HD and the change takes a full round.

A primal warrior gains a +2 insight bonus to AC against or to checks made to resist offensive actions made by animals if its type is currently one of his aspect animals, even if it is not native that day.

Wearing armor heavier than light armor bars use of any bestial aspect until the primal warrior removes it, and for ten minutes afterward. Weapons may be used in a full attack that makes use of an aspect animal's attack only if the body part that makes the animal attack (usually mouth or one hand) is free and unobstructed.

At 3rd level, a primal warrior can add an additional feature of his aspect animals to his own powers. This feature must follow the same rules as before. For example, a primal warrior who has chosen a badger's claw attack may keep that at level 3 and then additionally gain its Rage. Each bestial aspect the primal warrior knows is able to gain an additional feature. In addition, the primal warrior may now have one aspect animal that is a magical beast, but the DC to learn this aspect is 12 + twice the magical beast's HD.

Wild Step (Ex): The primal warrior gains a movement speed of 10 ft. in any method (except flying) that any of his aspect animals have. If two animals have the same movement type, they do not stack. Thus, if a primal warrior has ape and lizard as aspect animals, he only gains a 10 ft. climb speed, but if he also has snake as an aspect animal, he gains a 10 ft. swim speed, as well.

At 4th level, this speed increases to 20 ft.

Animal Within (Ex): At 5th level, a primal warrior reverts back to his bestial ancestors in form, while keeping his humanity. He immediately gains one effective hit die of Animal. This grants him a d8 (plus Constitution modifier) of hit points, +2 to his base Fortitude and Reflex saves, and low-light vision. If he already has low-light vision, increase its range by one increment (he can see three times as far as normal eyes in dim light).

Campaign Information[edit]

Playing a Primal Warrior[edit]

Combat: The primal warrior is almost always at the front lines. Most of his abilities are offensive, but he can choose to increase his natural armor and become a better tank, especially when combined with his additional hit die at 5th level.

Advancement: This class only has 5 levels and is relatively easy to enter if planned for, so most warrior-types would take this early and then continue with their regular class's advancement.

Resources: Primal warriors usually recognize each other easily, and they are quick to defend each other. Most are solitary, but there are occasional guilds of fighters who take this prestige class. These are small, but will train new recruits and sometimes grow to be a formidable organization.

Primal Warriors in the World[edit]

I've looked into the eyes of a grizzly bear, and it looked into mine. We both knew we were evenly matched, and we separated.
—Grakagush, orc primal warrior

Primal warriors are guides through the habitat of the jungle cat. They are the strongest soldiers, who shed their armor and drop their swords that they may overcome all their foes. They are the infiltrators with the quickness of a monkey. Primal warriors excel in all physical activity with enough study. They can maul a man bare-handed and fend off a charging bull, but they are only as strong as the animals they understand. Thus, they spend much of their time either studying bestiaries or actually encountering animals.

NPC Reactions: NPC reactions are diverse. Soldiers and other fighting people are often impressed and friendly, but some are contemptuous. Most commoners are impressed, but usually wary, and nobles are almost always disgusted with primal warriors.

Primal Warrior Lore[edit]

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

Knowledge (Geography)
DC Result
11 Primal warriors physically transform to attack like animals, and they don't wear armor heavier than light armor.
16 Most primal warriors emulate animals that live in their home region and live alone.
21 Primal warriors can move like animals and usually become somewhat feral in mind.
26 Primal warriors inevitably settle into one bestial aspect which becomes permanently native and requires no preparation. This takes many years and results in the loss of some of his humanity.

Primal Warriors in the Game[edit]

Primal Warriors are likely to be a party's wilderness guide because, while they aren't as proficient in survival as rangers and druids, they know the local animals and can fend them off with ease. They are rarely found in urban settings and more often than not are adventurers of some sort.

Adaptation: Primal warriors can be put in any environment where a multitude of animals thrive. For flavor, it is best if a primal warrior (PC or NPC) chooses an aspect animal that is more specific than the SRD monster. For example, a desert primal warrior would use a rattlesnake's venomous bite instead of a Tiny viper's, though it could be mechanically identical.

Sample Encounter: Grakagush is the chieftain of a small town of civilized orcs on the frontier. His town has withstood countless attacks coming down from the mountains, and he has trained to become one of the most formidable unarmed warriors in the region. He furthered his training with intense study of animal combat, and is now able to protect his townspeople from starving mountain lions and hobgoblins alike with unmatched ferocity, but has fallen to paranoia and almost complete distrust of outsiders.

EL 10:

Grakagush Stormfist

CR 10

Male orc fighter 5/primal warrior 5
LN Medium humanoid
Init/Senses +6/Listen +11, Spot +7; darkvision
AC 24, touch 13, flat-footed 21
hp 100 (5d10+10 plus 5d8+10 HD)
Fort/Ref/Will +10/+8/+3
Speed 30 ft., climb 20 ft., swim 20 ft.
Melee grizzly bear claw +15 melee (1d8+8) or
Melee Unarmed Strike +15 melee (1d3+5), Unarmed Strike +10 melee (1d3+2), and grizzly bear claw +10 melee (1d8+8)
Base Atk/Grp +10/+5/+19
Atk Options Stunning Fist
Special Actions switch bestial aspect (move action) to Large viper snake (bite attack (1d4 plus poison) and 3 natural armor)
Combat Gear Amulet of Natural Armor +1, Gloves of Dexterity +2
Abilities Str 20, Dex 16, Con 15, Int 10, Wis 13, Cha 11
SQ grizzly bear's natural armor (+5)
Feats Improved Grapple, Improved Initiative, Dodge, Deflect Arrows
Skills Intimidate +6, Knowledge (Nature) +4 Listen +11, Spot +7, Survival +6.
Possessions combat gear plus furnished home worth 1,800 gp.

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