Rune Shifter (3.5e Class)

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Rune Shifter
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Status: Work in Progress
Editing: Suggestions for improving balance and/or abilities is greatly appreciated

Rune Shifter[edit]

Rune Shifters create and morph symbols that swirl around on their bodies. They command their runes with almost frightening power. Rune Shifters are rare and use a secret art to harness the mysterious forces that surround us all. Rune Shifters are in constant search of new things they can create. By nature they are those who feel the need to create rather than destroy. They are those who welcome change and the new.

Making a Rune Shifter[edit]

Rune shifters make fairly strong spellcasters and melee combatants as well. Rune Shifters often help greatly in a tight situation, as they can always instantly make the right tool for the job. However, the Rune Shifter's life force is tied to his runes making it ever so important that he retains them.

Abilities: Intelligence is very important to a rune shifter because it determines how many runes he has covering his body. The more runes a rune shifter has, the more power he commands. Dexterity is important for many Rune Shifters to improve AC given that they can only wear armor created by their runes. Strength can also be important if a Rune Shifter takes a more close-combat oriented role.

Races: Humans and half-elves are usually well suited for the commitment to be Rune Shifters. Elves and gnomes, who usually have a good deal of knowledge about magic and also have somewhat of a predisposition for this profession, but their chaotic nature sometimes turns them away. Dwarves, who are commonly excellent craftsmen, sometimes find themselves on the path of the rune shifter. Rune Shifters from savage lands or among the brutal humanoids are unheard of.

Alignment: Since Rune Shifters uphold creation, change, the new, and the dicipline to learn the arts, they must always be neutral on the chaos/law axis.

Starting Gold: 5d4 × 10 gp (12 gp, 5 sp).

Starting Age: Complex

Table: The Rune Shifter[edit]

Hit Die: d8

Level Base
Attack Bonus
Saving Throws Special Runes Required to Cast Spells
Fort Ref Will 0 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th
1st +0 +0 +0 +2 Proficiencies +Int modifier, Sculpt
2nd +1 +0 +0 +3 +2 to proficiencies, Sculpt Magic Arms and Armor +1 2
3rd +2 +1 +1 +3 2 3
4th +3 +1 +1 +4 +2 to proficiencies, Sculpt Magic Arms and Armor +2 1 3
5th +3 +1 +1 +4 Sculpt Wondrous Item 1 2 4
6th +4 +2 +2 +5 +2 to proficiencies, Sculpt Magic Arms and Armor +3 1 2 4
7th +5 +2 +2 +5 1 2 3 5
8th +6/+1 +2 +2 +6 +2 to proficiencies, Sculpt Magic Arms and Armor +4 1 1 3 5
9th +6/+1 +3 +3 +6 1 1 3 4 6
10th +7/+2 +3 +3 +7 +2 to proficiencies, Sculpt Magic Arms and Armor +5 1 1 2 4 6
11th +8/+3 +3 +3 +7 1 1 2 4 5 7
12th +9/+4 +4 +4 +8 +2 to proficiencies, Sculpt Magic Arms and Armor +6 1 1 2 3 5 7
13th +9/+4 +4 +4 +8 1 1 2 3 5 6 8
14th +10/+5 +4 +4 +9 +2 to proficiencies, Sculpt Magic Arms and Armor +7 1 1 1 3 4 6 8
15th +11/+6/+1 +5 +5 +9 1 1 1 3 4 6 7 9
16th +12/+7/+2 +5 +5 +10 +2 to proficiencies, Sculpt Magic Arms and Armor +8 1 1 1 2 4 5 7 9
17th +12/+7/+2 +5 +5 +10 1 1 1 2 4 5 7 8
18th +13/+8/+3 +6 +6 +11 +2 to proficiencies, Sculpt Magic Arms and Armor +9 1 1 1 2 3 5 6 8
19th +14/+9/+4 +6 +6 +11 1 1 1 2 3 5 6 8
20th +15/+10/+5 +6 +6 +12 +2 to proficiencies, Sculpt Magic Arms and Armor +10 1 1 1 2 3 4 6 7

Class Skills (4 + Int modifier per level, ×4 at 1st level)

The Rune Shifter's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are: Appraise (Int), Bluff (Cha), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Disguise (Cha), Hide (Dex), Knowledge (Arcana) (Int), Move Silently (Dex), Profession (Wis), Spellcraft (Int), Use Magic Device (Cha).

Class Features[edit]

All of the following are class features of the Rune Shifter.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Rune Shifters are proficient with all simple weapons and light armor. However, Rune Shifters do not follow the norm for being proficient with weapons. Being fast learners, Rune Shifters begin at first level with additional weapons, armor, and shields they are proficient with equal to their Intelligence modifier. Every even numbered level after 1st (2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th, etc.), the Rune Shifter gains proficiency with two new weapons, armor, or shields. Also, for the purpose of multi-classing or obtaining feats, the Rune Shifter is considered proficient with all Simple, Martial, and Exotic weapons, as well as all armor and shields.

Runes: A Rune Shifter has (class level + Intelligence modifier) × 5 runes per day for creating items and casting spells.

Spells: A Rune Shifter casts arcane spells. A Rune Shifter must choose and prepare his spells ahead of time.

To learn, memorize, or cast a spell, the Rune Shifter must have an Intelligence score equal to at least 10 + the spell level. The difficulty class for a saving throw against a Rune Shifter's spell is 10 + the spell level + the Rune Shifter's Intelligence modifier.

Like other spellcasters, a Rune Shifter can cast only a certain number of spells per day. This amount is different from other spellcasters because a Rune Shifter casts spells by using his runes. The amount of runes he has per day dictates how many, and what kind of spells he can cast. The Rune Shifter has a number of runes equal to it's (class level + Intelligence modifier) × 5.

Like a Sorcerer, a Rune Shifter only knows a certain amount of spells at any one time. However, a Rune Shifter may at any time, change out his spell slots for a new spell. All he has to do is spend 1 hour per spell level of uninterrupted time memorizing that spell (0-level spells take 1/2 hour).

Rune Shifters choose their spells from the following list:

0— Amanuensis, Create Water, Erase, Mage Hand, Mending, Message, Open/Close, Read Magic, Detect Magic, Dancing Lights

1st— Animate Rope, Back Biter, Comprehend Languages, Disguise Self, Dispel Ward, Enlarge Person, Expeditious Retreat, Feather Fall, Grease, Identify, Jump, Mage Armor, Mage Hand Greater, Magic Weapon, Minor Image, Mount, Obscuring Mist, Reduce Person, Repair Light Damage, Secret Page, Shield, Summon Monster I, Unseen Servant, Weapon Shift, Whirling Blades

2nd— Alter Self, Bear's Endurance, Blur, Bull's Strength, Create Food and Water, Darkvision, Eagle's Splendor, Fog Cloud, Fox's Cunning, Glitter Dust, Glyph of Warding, Hideous Laughter, Hold Person, Invisibility, Knock, Levitate, Leomund's Trap, Obscure Object, Owl's Wisdom, Pyrotechnics, Repair Moderate Damage, Rope Trick, Spectral Hand, Spider Climb, Summon Monster II, Summon Swarm, Web, Whispering Wind

3rd— Blink, Bands of Steel, Daylight, Dispel Magic, Explosive Runes, Fly, Freedom of Movement, Gaseous Form, Haste, Keen Edge, Illusory Script, Leomund's Tiny Hut, Mage Armor Greater, Mage Armor Mass, Magic Weapon Greater, Minor Creation, Phantom Steed, Repair Serious Damage, Sepia Snake Sigil, Shrink Item, Sign of Sealing, Sleet Storm, Slow, Steel Dance, Stinking Cloud, Summon Monster III, Suppress Glyph, Tongues, Water Breathing, Wind Wall

4th— Backlash, Darkvision Mass, Dimension Door, Enlarge Person Mass, Floating Disk Greater, Hold Monster, Invisibility Greater, Leomund's Secure Shelter, Lesser Planar Binding, Major Creation, Polymorph, Rary's Mnemonic Enhancer, Reduce Person Mass, Repair Critical Damage, Solid Fog, Summon Monster IV, Stone Shape, Stoneskin, Translocation Trick, Wall of Fire, Wall of Ice, Wall of Sand, Wall of Water, Wings of Air Greater

5th— Animal Growth, Baleful Polymorph, Fabricate, Brilliant Blade, Cloudkill, Fly Mass, Glyph of Warding Greater, Hardening, Heroes' Feast, Leomund's Secret Chest, Mordenkainen's Faithful Hound, Nightstalker's Transformation, Overland Flight, Passwall, Summon Monster V, Symbol of Spell Loss, Telekenisis, Teleport, Transmute Rock to Mud, Transmute Mud to Rock, Wall of Stone

6th— Circle of Death, Control Water, Disintegrate, Flesh to Stone, Guards and Wards, Drawmij's Instant Summons, Mordenkainen's Lucubration, Move Earth, Permanency, Permanent Image, Planar Binding, Sign of Sealing Greater, Summon Monster VI, Stone Body, Stone to Flesh, Symbol of Fear, Symbol of Weakness, Tenser's Transformation, Transcribe Symbol, Wall of Iron,

7th— Banishment, Control Weather, Ethereal Jaunt, Finger of Death, Forcecage, Iron Body, Limited Wish, Maze, Mordenkainen's Magnificent Mansion, Phase Door, Polymorph Any Object, Plane Shift, Reverse Gravity,Spell Matrix, Spell Turning, Statue, Stone Shape Greater, Summon Monster VII, Symbol of Death, Symbol of Insanity, Symbol of Stunning,Synostodweomer, Trap the Soul, Teleport Greater, Teleport Object, True Creation

Table: Rune Shifter Spells Known
Level Spells Known
0 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th
2nd 2
3rd 3 0
4th 4 1
5th 4 2 0
6th 4 2 1
7th 4 3 1 0
8th 4 3 2 1
9th 4 3 2 1 0
10th 4 3 2 2 1
11th 4 3 3 2 1 0
12th 4 3 3 2 2 1
13th 4 3 3 3 2 1 0
14th 4 3 3 3 2 2 1
15th 4 3 3 3 3 2 1 0
16th 4 3 3 3 3 2 2 1
17th 4 3 3 3 3 3 2 1
18th 4 3 3 3 3 3 2 2
19th 4 3 3 3 3 3 2 2
20th 4 3 3 3 3 3 2 2

Table: Ability Modifiers and Bonus Spells[edit]

Score Modifier Bonus Spells known (by Spell Level)
0 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th
1 –5 Can’t cast spells tied to this ability
2–3 –4
4–5 –3
6–7 –2
8–9 –1
10–11 0
12–13 +1 1
14–15 +2 1 1
16–17 +3 1 1 1
18–19 +4 1 1 1 1
20–21 +5 2 1 1 1 1
22–23 +6 2 2 1 1 1 1
24–25 +7 2 2 2 1 1 1 1
26–27 +8 2 2 2 2 1 1 1
28–29 +9 3 2 2 2 2 1 1
30–31 +10 3 3 2 2 2 2 1
32–33 +11 3 3 3 2 2 2 2
34–35 +12 3 3 3 3 2 2 2
36–37 +13 4 3 3 3 3 2 2
38–39 +14 4 4 3 3 3 3 2
40–41 +15 4 4 4 3 3 3 3
42–43 +16 4 4 4 4 3 3 3
44–45 +17 5 4 4 4 4 3 3
etc. . .

Sculpt (Ex): Forging matter out of pure arcane energy, the rune shifter may create any non-magical item, including weapons or armor. The Rune Shifter can use his runes to create many items, which are identical to their mundane counterparts except for it has subtle splashes of color dancing it's surfaces.

When sculpting an item, the Rune Shifters uses his "tattoos" and can create any item he is proficient with or has spent the required time to study and memorize the shape and construction of that object. The required time to do this is equal to the amount of time it takes others to physically construct it. While studying, the rune shifter makes an appropriate craft check for that item (DC 1/2 of the craft check to create), which determines the quality of the rune item that you will create. Succeeding on this check allows the rune shifter to identically reproduce the item. Succeeding by 5 or more, allows the rune shifter to create that item, but with masterwork quality. Likewise, failing by less than 10 allows the rune shifter to still reproduce the item, but it of in poor quality and has 1/2 hit points, and hardness. If the rune shifter fails the craft check by 10 or more, he cannot reproduce that item (and must take the time to study it again).

The amount of runes and the time required to form an object is dependent on its size. Anything smaller than a tiny object requires only one rune to create. Small objects take 2 runes, medium objects take 4, large objects take 8, and so on. Ammunition (bolts, arrows, or sling bullets) takes 2 runes to create 50. Any object smaller than a medium item takes one full round action to form, and for every size category larger than medium it takes one additional round. The complexity of the item also factors into the creation time. For every DC 5 increment (round up) above DC 10 to craft an item, it increases the amount of time to form the item by 1 round. likewise, for every DC 5 increment down (round down), it decreases the time to form the object by 1 round (to a minimum of 1 round). See the table below for Difficulty Classes of crafting common objects.

Item Craft Skill Craft DC
Acid Alchemy1 15
Alchemist’s fire, smokestick, or tindertwig Alchemy1 20
Antitoxin, sunrod, tanglefoot bag, or thunderstone Alchemy1 25
Armor or shield Armorsmithing 10 + AC bonus
Longbow or shortbow Bowmaking 12
Composite longbow or composite shortbow Bowmaking 15
Composite longbow or composite shortbow with high strength rating Bowmaking 15 + (2 × rating)
Crossbow (heavy or light) Weaponsmithing 15
Simple melee or thrown weapon Weaponsmithing 12
Martial melee or thrown weapon Weaponsmithing 15
Exotic melee or thrown weapon Weaponsmithing 18
Mechanical trap Trapmaking Varies2
Very simple item (wooden spoon) Varies 5
Typical item (iron pot) Varies 10
High-quality item (bell) Varies 15
Complex or superior item (lock) Varies 20
  1. You must be a spellcaster to craft any of these items.
  2. Traps have their own rules for construction.

If the Item is ever broken or destroyed, it disintegrates, and the runes used to create it return to you the next day. Items of unique or rare materials (such as gold, adamantium, or mithril) cannot be created from the runes. Objects created from the runes also have no market value. A potential buyer may make an opposed sense motive check or an appropriate lore check (Knowledge: Arcana DC 5) to determine that this item is created by a Rune Shifter, and is not worth anything.

Even if a rune shifter takes the time to memorize an object and sculpt it, that does not make him automatically proficient with that item.

A rune shifter may at any time change his created items back into runes as a full-round action. Furthermore, all items that the rune shifter creates automatically morph back into runes at the end of each day unless the player decides otherwise. If the player decides to keep the item so he doesn't have to create it again, those runes stay within the creation.

Sculpt Magic Arms and Armor (Ex): This ability functions identically to "Sculpt" except the rune shifter may create magic armor and weapons. Starting at 2nd level, the rune shifter may create weapons with a maximum of a +1 enchantment bonus. Forming +1 weapons, armor, or shields requires the rune shifter to effectively "create" the item out of runes. First you need the runes to create the actual item, and the runes for the enhancement bonus (enhancement bonus costs in runes are on the table below). Note that in order to sculpt a magic weapon, you must be able to reproduce that item with masterwork quality (see "Sculpt" class feature). At every 2 levels after 2nd, the maximum enhancement bonus for creating magic weapons increases by 1 every two levels (max +2 at 4th level, max +3 at 6th level, etc.). Items made with (or completely out of) rare or valuable materials need to be created with 5 extra runes. Creating items out of rare or valuable materials does not make the sculpted item valuable, it only changes the properties. for example a sculpted alchemical silver sword does not have marked value, but does overcome the damage resistance of a lycanthrope.

Table: Creating Magic Rune Weapons and Armor

Enhancement Bonus Cost in Runes
+1 18
+2 25
+3 32
+4 39
+5 46
+6 53
+7 60
+8 67
+9 74
+10 81

Sculpt Wonderous Item (Ex): This ability functions the exact same way as "Sculpt", however, the rune shifter must meet all the requirements for creating the magic item (i.e. high enough caster level, alignment, spells required etc.). The rune shifter creates a magic item by: first forming the actual item with runes, cast any spells necessary to give the item it's abilities, and finally pay the XP cost in runes (500 XP per Rune). When the creator returns the runes to their original form his lost experience is returned.

Dwarven Rune Shifter Starting Package[edit]

Weapon and Armor Proficiencies: ...

Weapons: Quarterstaff (1d6 x2, 4 lb., 2 handed, bludgeoning). Light Crossbow (1d8, 19-20x2, range inc. 80 ft, 4 lb., piercing).

Skill Selection: Pick a number of skills equal to 4 + Int modifier.

Skill Ranks Ability Armor
Appraise 4 Int -
Bluff 4 Cha -
Concentration 4 Con -
Craft 4 Int -
Hide 4 Dex 0
Knowledge (Arcana) 4 Int -
Knowledge (The Planes) 2 Int -
Move Silently 4 Dex 0
Spellcraft 4 Int -
Use Magic Device 4 Cha -

Feat: Arcane Mastery.

Bonus Feats: Extend Spell.

Gear: Backpack, Bedroll, Quiver with 20 bolts, Alchemical Fire.

Gold: 4d6.

Campaign Information[edit]

Playing a Rune Shifter[edit]

Religion: Some Rune Shifters favor Boccob (god of magic), while others are followers of Wee Jas (goddess of death and magic). Some evil Rune Shifters prefer Vecna (god of secrets) due to their little known art that many Rune Shifters consider secret. Since many Rune Shifters are taught by mentors, their religion is usually passed on to the pupil. Some rune shifters, however, are those who stumble upon the secrets in their studies or find an old tome in their adventures. Therefore they are self taught and may have any religion or none at all.

Other Classes: Due to their generally charismatic appearance, and neutral aspects, Rune Shifters work well with many other classes. Although that is true, rune shifters commonly don't get along well with barbarians. This is because they view them as reckless and destructive while rune shifters themselves are creators.

Combat: Rune Shifters excel in pre-combat preparations. They can craft tools necessary to turn the tide of any battle. During actual combat they exist as supporting spell casters, but can typically hold their own in direct combat.

Advancement: Rune Shifter's powers expand while they level. As their power grows, the Rune Shifter becomes a walking armory; supplying specialized equipment for the party. Since expanding into prestige classes doesn't supply the Rune Shifter with extra runes, such advancement is rare, and if taken, it is done so at late levels.

Rune Shifters in the World[edit]

I make the world as I see fit. You don't fit in my world.
—<-NPC name->, <-race-> <-class->

<-Where characters of this class fit in a d20 world.->

Daily Life: <-day in the life of a character of this class->.

Notables: <-notable NPCs of this class->.

Organizations: <-info on what, where, when, and how characters of this class congregate and assemble->.

NPC Reactions: <-How NPCs react to PCs of this class->.

Rune Shifter Lore[edit]

Characters with ranks in <-the appropriate skills-> can research <-pluralized class name-> to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.

<-the appropriate skills->
DC Result
5 <-common knowledge->.
10 <-not so common knowledge->.
15 <-rare information->.
20 <-very rare information->.

Rune Shifters in the Game[edit]

<-How characters of this class fit in the game (PC and NPC) and what roles they play.->

Adaptation: <-Possible variant conceptions of this class.->.

Sample Encounter: <-DM placement for NPCs of this class.->.

EL : <-Encounter scenario and character info on sample NPC including stat block. The CR of the NPC is typically the same as the EL for the encounter.->.

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