Battle Emcee (3.5e Prestige Class)
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|“||Smack the mic stand with my right hand when I'm excited / Leave you so far in the dust that you forced to bite it / On fire like properties lost to riots / Ain't no stopping us when we all united.||”|
|—Talib Kweli, Human Battle Emcee, Album: Train of Thought, Track: Too Late|
There are a select few for whom their bark is truly worse than their bite. The Battle Emcee is a master lyricist, using contextual observations and the power of the spoken word to ruthlessly demoralize opponents. Battle Emcees are typically not powerful damage-dealers, electing instead to dance on the fringe of battle, only occasionally diving in to the fray, while picking apart their opponents visual flaws and hazarding guesses as to the proclivity of their relatives and ancestors towards copulation with various farm animals.
Becoming a Battle Emcee
Many battle emcees are bards and wizards who decided their paths were not going to bring them the lifestyle they hoped for (e.g. rollin' on tweny-fos, poppin bottles and otherwise making it rain), but they tend to sell out like little bitches, and sign with major labels, chasing dead presidents. Sorcerers and monks will sometimes try their hand, as will rogues who’ve spent their lives hustlin’ and wana escape the game. Barbarians have a lot of stab wounds, which gives them street cred, but they’re almost always empty puppets shoved down the throats of the masses by the White Devil. Try’na hold the real talent down, cause they scrrd. No, the purest battle emcees tend to be those for whom life has been hard - the little guys who’ve never had things come with ease. They realize sticks and stones break bones but names they spray are diseased.
NPC battle emcees are highly confrontational. Many roam the lands, hopping from city to city, looking to hone their skills on the next poor chump who thinks he can step. They sometimes form groups with other emcees, choosing to sport similar garb and monikers. The most popular emcee of the groups can now and again reach degrees of substantial influence in their municipalities.
Having either high Charisma or Intelligence is critical for a battle emcee. A good Dexterity score can help the physically frail battle emcee more difficult to hit in a fight.
|Base Attack Bonus:||+3|
|Skills:||Concentration 5 ranks, Gather Information 5 ranks, Perform (freestyling) 7 ranks.|
|Spellcasting:||Ability to cast arcane spells.|
|Saving Throws||Special||Written Verses per Day|
|1st||+0||+1||+1||+2||Bustin’ Rhymes, Content of Your Character, Posturing||0||—||—||—|
|2nd||+1||+1||+1||+3||Insult to Injury, Truth Hurts||1||—||—||—|
|3rd||+1||+1||+1||+3||Beatbox 1/day, Flowin'||1||0||—||—|
|4th||+2||+2||+2||+4||Thick Skin, Yo Mama||1||1||—||—|
|5th||+2||+2||+2||+4||Up in Yo Grill||1||1||0||—|
|6th||+3||+2||+2||+5||Beatbox 2/day, OG||2||1||1||—|
|8th||+4||+3||+3||+6||Flip the Script, The Show Goes On||2||2||1||1|
|9th||+4||+3||+3||+6||Beatbox 3/day, Bling Bling||2||2||1||1|
|10th||+5||+4||+4||+7||Ignite the Crowd, Master Lyricist||3||2||2||1|
Class Skills (4 + Int modifier per level)
All of the following are class features of the battle emcee prestige class.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Battle emcees gain no proficiency with any weapon or armor.
Bustin’ Rhymes: Each round a battle emcee may attempt to a dis an opponent in a rap freestyle as a free action. They cannot also communicate verbally (to allies, etc.) in other ways that round. They roll a Perform (freestyle), matched against a targets concentration save or Will save (whichever is higher). Ties go to the opponent. If the performance is successful the battle emcee gains 1 Combo Point. Combo points can be accumulated and used in different amounts (see the Freestyle Combos and Written Verses section below). The battle emcee must be able to speak, and the target must be able to hear and understand the spoken language used. A dis is always made louder than a whisper.
Content of your Character: What matters more, what you say, or how you say it? Is it the cleverness of your rhymes or the flare with which they are delivered? Whether it’s your lyrical content or your magnetic character, both are such legitimate ways to be a successful battle emcee that you can use whatever is higher between your Intelligence and Charisma modifiers for all skills and saves that typically use the other modifier (except Knowledge and Search skills), including for the purpose of determining extra spells per day as from Table 1-1 of the Player’s Handbook.
Posturing: The battle emcee can be charismatic but isn't charming. They are aggressive, belligerent, brash and brazen, not cautious or deliberate. Battle emcees receive a +3 to intimidate, bluff, and gather information checks but a -2 to diplomacy, hide and move silently checks.
Insult to Injury: If you deal damage in the same round to a target you’ve successfully dissed, you gain a combo point. This is in addition to the one granted by successfully bustin’ a rhyme (I.e. if your Perform (freestyle) > opponents Concentration or Will check).
Truth Hurts: Each round you may roll a gather information check against a designated opponent’s bluff check. Typically this would be done before the single Perform (freestlyle) attempt allowed each round. If successful you learn something about your opponent that can be used to make your next freestyle line more effective.
If the result of your gather information roll is higher than your targets opposing bluff check you garner a surface insult [related to their appearance, whiny voice, etc.] which adds a +1 modifier on your next perform check. If your result is 5 or higher than theirs you fashion a personal insult [related to their family or significant other, etc.] for a +2 bonus to your next Perform (freestyle) check. If your gather information attempt is 10 or higher than their resulting bluff check you glean a deep insult [related to a phobia or embarrassing childhood experience] which is a +3 bonus on your next Perform (freestyle) check. You may only make one gather information attempt per round but bonuses from successive gather information attempts stack until a Perform (freestyle) is attempted.
The battle emcee must be able to currently see the target. Any penalties that would typically be applied for a spot check with impaired vision would be applied to this gather information check.
Beatbox: Most of the time the battle emcee performs his rhymes a cappella. Starting at the 3rd level, as a full–round action, he can choose a specific point at which to conjure a background beat. Thereafter a magical voice emanates from the designated position and stays there. It does not travel even if initially directed at a moveable item, continuing to emanate from the chosen spot even once the object is taken away. The sound is loud enough to hear over most battles and should be considered accordingly in terms of alerting enemies within proximity.
As long as the battle emcee can hear the beat all combo points accumulated are doubled. In extreme circumstances where a very loud noise interrupts battle it may be necessary to succeed at a listen check before the Perform (freestyle) roll for that round (DC is GMs discretion but 15 to 20 range is recommended). If he fails the listen check he cannot try again until his next turn and does not receive the doubling effect for his combo points until he succeeds at a listen check in subsequent rounds (though the DC to hear may drop unless the extreme sound persists).
The magical beatbox functions as a continuous spell with a Verbal (V) component and as such can be dispelled or silenced as per the silence spell, even those cast by him.
It lasts for 1 minute/level of battle emcee, though it can be cancelled as a free action by him at any time. Restarting requires another daily use and full-round casting.
Flowin': Sometimes a battle emcee can get into such a rhythm that talking smack becomes extra demoralizing. After three consecutive rounds of successful dissing he is flowin' and gains 1 additional combo point. After 6 consecutive rounds he gains an additional 2 combo points. A maximum of +3 additional combo points are granted after 9 rounds and all bonus rounds thereafter (i.e. they will gain combo points in 12th and 15th consecutive rounds and so on, but the bonus remains +3). These are added immediately after the regular combo point from a successful dis attempt within that particular round.
However, when a battle emcee is flowin’ he is vulnerable. He hates when something ruins his flow. He must keep the beat or he fumbles and has to start everything over.
When Flowin’ a battle emcee must make a concentration check any time he would become distracted (see the concentration skill, page 69 of the Player’s Handbook), but may add his Int or Cha modifier (whichever is higher) to concentration checks specifically for this purpose. If he fails the concentration check while Flowin’ he loses all accumulated combo points.
A battle emcee may strategically decide to stop Flowin’ by electing to not attempt a dis during his turn (he may still use his Truth Hurts attempt). This will not lose him his accumulated combo points and does not have to make a concentration check to keep them if distracted, but he must start over and build up three consecutive rounds of disses before he is Flowin’ again.
Thick skin: Once a battle emcee has reached the 4th level he has gotten so used to not just dishing it out, but also taking it, that he gains +2 dodge bonus to AC and +2 to Will saves.
Yo Mama: A certain number of times per day (levels of battle emcee, divided by 3, rounded down) you may deliver a generic Yo Mama line at an opponent instead of a custom insult. If your Perform (freestyle) is successful against your targets concentration check you gain 3 combo points instead of the normal 1. This takes the spot of a regular dis attempt allowed once per round, and can also benefit from bonuses granted by the Truth Hurts ability as normal.
Yo Mama can be used in conjunction with a Magic Mouth spell. DC is 10+ your levels of battle emcee against targets concentration or will check. This uses one of the daily allotments.
Up In Yo Grill: Occasionally it just becomes time to f**kin step. Sometimes nobodies be like “Naw. Pshaw.” And you gotta be like “UHN! WHAT!? Chump.” Ya know what I’m sayin? If you occupy a square within melee reach of an opponent you may choose to get up in their grill which grants a +3 to attack but you suffer a -2 to AC. You cannot also be fighting defensively while up in someone’s grill. This effect only lasts as long as you are in front of your opponent (occupying one of the grid squares adjacent to them and also not behind them). If your opponent moves or faces another direction during their turn, as long as you move to a newly appropriate square during your next turn, you remain up in their grill.
OG: By 5th level you're a veteran of the scene. You can take ten (10) on any Perform (freestyle) check versus your opponents concentration check but this must be declared before the opponent rolls.
Quick Wits: If the battle emcee is Flowin’ (successful disses in 3 rounds or more) any successful attack of opportunity he makes against an enemy that scores at least one point of damage grants an additional combo point.
Flip the script: A battle emcee can use the riposte feat as described in The Netbook of Feats except that their attack must fall short of your AC by 5 or more. If your resulting attack of opportunity hits, you gain a combo point. This point cannot count towards consecutive rounds of dissing in regards to your Flowin' ability.
The Show Goes On: Grinding it out for so long and having taken his lumps, a battle emcee no longer gets down about losing his flow. From now on whenever he fails a concentration check while Flowin’ he loses only half his accumulated combo points, rounded down, and remains Flowin’. He still fumbles his flow if he unsuccessfully disses an opponent (e.g. his Perform (freestyle) check is less than or equal to his targets concentration check).
Bling Bling: At 9th level a Battle Emcee may wear one extra magic ring or neck item without it interfering with other magic items worn.
Ignite the Crowd: Any time the battle emcee Spits a Verse or more (12 point combo or higher) he may also choose one ally to grant a +1 dodge bonus to Armor Class, +1 to attack, +1 damage, or +2 to any saving throw. The ally must be able to hear and comprehend the verse (i.e. the ally and the target of the verse must both speak the language the battle emcee uses to deliver his rap). He may do this multiple times but each time he must spit a verse or higher and choose a different ally. This does not remove the bonus granted to his previous ally but he may not retroactively change a bonus. He must spit another verse or higher and reapply the newly desired advantage. This bonus lasts until the end of the encounter unless the battle emcee is knocked unconscious, killed or leaves the encounter. A member of the battle emcee’s Crew cannot be the recipient of any such bonus granted by Ignite the Crowd.
Master Lyricist: At the 10th level a Battle Emcee adds half their Intimidation skill (rounded down) to their Perform (freestyle) checks.
A battle emcee composes contextual freestyle disses during battle. As they devise their content (gain combo points) they can wait to unleash them in increasingly longer more effective freestyles.
All combos are the same as their spell of the same name found in the Player’s Handbook except that they are treated as supernatural abilities and cast time is always a standard action. For all spell descriptions using “/level” use levels of battle emcee, not character level. The battle emcee must be able to speak, and the target, when applicable, must be able to hear and understand the spoken language used for the freestyle combo. A combo is always made at least slightly louder than a normal speaking voice.
Certain combos are not available until character attains higher levels of battle emcee. For example, he cannot Spit a Verse until he has at least 4 levels of the battle emcee prestige class.
A combo can be used any number of times per day, unless otherwise noted, provided the battle emcee currently has enough combo points to complete the freestyle. Higher combos can only be performed a few number of times per day. For example a battle emcee can Lay Down a Track whenever he has enough combo points (18) to do so, but he may only perform the Mind Fog freestyle combo a maximum of twice per day. If he performs another 18 point freestyle he must choose a different combo.
Only one combo can be performed per round but are independent of gather information and dis attempts also made in that round.
Maximum Combo Points (CP) allowed at once: 40
- Fire a Line (1st level) - 3 CP
- Throw Down a Rhyme (2nd level) - 5 CP
- Spit a Verse (4th level) - 8 CP
- Break Off a Piece (6th level) - 12 CP
- Lay Down a Track (8th level) - 15 CP
- Drop an LP (10th level) - 25 CP
A battle emcee must often focus on a particular target to build his combo points but may use his freestyle combos on any ally of his target. Whether certain creatures are allies must be at the DMs discretion but a general rule would be assuming all the Player Characters died in the encounter, if any of the remaining creatures would immediately turn and fight each other they are of separate groups. If an ally of the battle emcees target(s) enter the encounter after it has started they must take two turns before they can be affected by any freestyle combos (unless they are persistent area of effect spells like Mind Fog, in which case they would be affected by it as under normal circumstances). As such combo points to not carry over between encounters. It is the DMs discretion if other creatures enter an encounter after all other have been defeated but is considered the same encounter.
A certain number of times per day a battle emcee can recite a written verse, treated as a casted spell with only a Verbal (V) component. He must spend an hour each morning studying and memorizing his written versus just like a wizard. He also has a notebook (same as a wizard’s spellbook) granting access to all verses that he must keep on him and without which he cannot recite (cast). He gains additional verses per day for high Intelligence or Charisma scores (whichever is higher) based on table 1-1 in the Player’s Handbook. These verses exist completely independent of other spell casting abilities (both in terms of spells known and per-day).
- 1ST~LEVEL WRITTEN VERSES
Magic Mouth: As normal except it can be used to deliver a Yo Mama, as described above.
Ventriloquism: As normal.
Ghost Sound: As normal.
Light: As normal.
- 2ND~LEVEL WRITTEN VERSES
Frontin’: As disguise self spell, except instead of any changes in your appearance you seem to grow one size category larger than is your normal, and instead of +10 to Disguise checks you receive +10 to Intimidate.
Silver Tongue: As the tongues spell except that it can be cast on himself only. When Bustin’ Rhymes this only allows the battle emcee to dis any creature regardless of type, provided they can hear him and have an Intelligence score above 3.
Detect Thoughts: As the detect thoughts spell except it is directed at a single target instead of a cone-shaped emanation and functions immediately as though it were the 2nd round of study. In addition the battle emcee also receives +5 to his next Truth Hurts check.
Daylight: As normal.
- 3RD~LEVEL WRITTEN VERSES
Rollin Wit Yo Crew: You call your Crew. This functions as Summon Monster IV spell except you may not summon the single creature from the 4th-level list and instead increase the number of creatures summoned from lower lists by 1 (e.g. 1d3+1 and 1d4+2) respectively.
Dispel Magic: As normal.
Snatch the Mic: This free-action written verse functions as a counterspell except the emcee does not need to ready himself. Once used he can then attempt to identify a spell being cast using his gather information check instead of spell Craft (DC 20 + spell level), and this is also as a free action. If he fails to identify the spell it is still considered a casting of Snatch the Mic and provided he can still cast it another time that day, cannot until the next round at the earliest. If he successfully identifies the spell he and the opposing caster roll competing Will saves (ties go to the caster) except the battle emcee may add his Int or Cha modifier (whichever is higher) as well as his Will save to his roll. If the battle emcee wins the roll he instantly counters any spell of 6th level or lower. Higher level spells are unaffected.
- 4TH~LEVEL WRITTEN VERSES
Sticks and Stones: This spell functions as a breath weapon of one of the two below types. The battle emcee may choose at the moment of casting which type to use. Damage dealt is 1d8 per two levels of battle emcee. It can only be used once per day. Use all the rules for dragon breath weapons (see page 69 of the Monster Manual) except as specified here. The DC of the breath weapon is 10 + class level + Int or Cha modifier (whichever is higher).
Spit Hot Fire: Cone of fire. A cone-shaped breath weapon is 30 feet long.
Spew Pure Venom: Line of acid. A line-shaped breath weapon is 5 feet high, 5 feet wide and 60 feet long.
Pump’m: Up: As the Heroism, Greater spell except that it can also be administered as a ranged touch attack from up to 30 feet and they must be able to hear and comprehend you. Assuming it is on an ally who doesn’t try to dodge or deflect their AC is effected by their size modifier only.
Tracking Combo Points: It is recommended that the player in charge of the battle emcee keep an extra d4 (for the tens-place) and d10 (for the ones-place) on hand and separate, as a counter. For example if you have 19 combo points, use the d4 with the 1 face-up and the d10 with a 9 face-up. If you then gain 2 more combo points you place the d4 on 2 (twenty) and switch the d10 to 1 (one) to total 21.
Playing a Battle Emcee
Battle Emcees in the World
Battle Emcee Lore
Characters with ranks in can research to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.
Battle Emcee in the Game