Court Champion (3.5e Prestige Class)

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Court Champion[edit]

Not every knight just kills orcs on a battlefield.
—Harrison Clovet, Human Court Champion, Biography

Every kingdom has its foes, interior and exterior. Anyone with a sword can fight those who seek to conquer it from outside, but it takes a special type to be able to fight foes from within one's own kingdom. Many nobles and other politicians may have a favorable public persona, but behind locked doors plot to seize power for themselves. The court champion is willing to expose the machinations of anyone, no matter how popular, if they wish ill upon those he protects. The court champion knows that there are few he can trust, so has developed his own contacts and investigative skill, including the ability to detect and reveal magical effects attempting to conceal the truth. Many kingdoms give these same nobles the right to trial by combat, so the court champion is an expert duelist, able to bring almost any foe to his knees in one-on-one combat. Due to the rules of trial by combat, often banning the use of heavy armor, the court champion often eschews armor in favor of dodging attacks entirely.

Becoming a Court Champion[edit]

Those who become court champions feel a calling to ferret out those who would do harm to his kingdom from within. As such, many of them are multiclassed paladins, often with a few rogue or swashbuckler levels to make the skill requirements easier. Dexterity and Intelligence are needed to qualify for required feats, and high Wisdom or Charisma are useful for some of the court champion's abilities. Since this is a front line class, some Constitution is good. Strength is the least important ability score for those court champions that excel in Dexterity, favoring weapon finesse.

Entry Requirements
Alignment: Neutral Good, Lawful Good or Lawful Neutral. Most court champions are Lawful Good.
Base Attack Bonus: +5
Skills: Gather Information 4 ranks, Sense Motive 4 ranks, Search 2 ranks
Feats: Dodge, Combat Expertise, Investigator
Special: A swashbuckler's Dodge class feature counts as the Dodge feat for meeting the requirements of this class.

Table: The Court Champion

Hit Die: d8

Level Base
Attack Bonus
Saving Throws Special
Fort Ref Will
1st +1 +0 +2 +2 Expert Defense (+1), Poison Immunity, Inquisition's Insight
2nd +2 +0 +3 +3 Detect Subterfuge +2, Unnerving Focus
3rd +3 +1 +3 +3 Expert Defense (+2), Parry
4th +4 +1 +4 +4 Resist Falsehood, Detect Presence
5th +5 +1 +4 +4 Expert Defense (+3), Follow Through
6th +6/+1 +2 +5 +5 Riposte
7th +7/+2 +2 +5 +5 Expert Defense (+4)
8th +8/+3 +2 +6 +6 Reveal Falsehood
9th +9/+4 +3 +6 +6 Expert Defense (+5), Detect Subterfuge +4
10th +10/+5 +3 +7 +7 Frenzied Parry

Class Skills (4 + Int modifier per level)
Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Gather Information (Cha), Handle Animal (Cha), Heal (Wis), Knowledge (nobility and royalty) (Int), Knowledge (religion) (Int), Profession (Wis), Search (Int), Sense Motive (Wis).

Table: The Epic Court Champion
Level Special
11th Expert Defense (+6)
13th Expert Defense (+7), Bonus Feat
15th Expert Defense (+8)
16th Bonus Feat
17th Expert Defense (+9)
19th Expert Defense (+10), Bonus Feat

Class Features[edit]

All of the following are class features of the court champion.

Expert Defense (Ex): At 1st level a court champion gains a bonus to AC and saving throws against his Dodge target. The bonus AC starts off at +1 and increases by one every 2 levels. The maximum bonus that a court champion can gain from this is equal to the bonus from Dodge and Combat Expertise. For example, a court champion who is taking a -2 penalty with Combat Expertise could only gain a +3 to AC from Expert Defense (+2 AC from Combat Expertise, +1 AC from Dodge), even if he was 7th level or higher. The bonus to saving throws is half the AC bonus, rounded up. At epic levels the bonus is not limited, so long as the court champion is taking a -5 from Combat Expertise. In addition, the court champion no longer takes a penalty to attacks from Combat Expertise when making attacks when it is not his turn, such as with attacks of opportunity.

Poison Immunity (Ex): Court champions know very well what underhanded tactics those who wish to act from the shadows will use, and has trained to be able to resist the effects of poisons to the point where he is immune to their effects.

Inquisition's Insight (Ex): If a court champion succeeds on a Sense Motive check against an opposed Bluff check, he may gain additional information. If his Sense Motive check exceeds the opposed Bluff check by five or more, he may discern more specifically which parts of the statement are false, and which are true. If he exceeds by 10 or more, he may discern some of the truth being hidden. For example, if someone claims there are 10 guards to a mansion, and that they swap shifts at midnight, if the court champion exceeds the targets Bluff check by 5, he would know that the number of guards is a lie, but the shift change timing is true. If his Sense Motive beats the Bluff check by 10 or more, he would know approximately how many guards there actually are; either that there are actually only a couple of guards, or that there are around 50 guards.

Detect Subterfuge (Ex): At 2nd level a court champion gets a +2 bonus to Gather Information and Sense Motive checks. This bonus is doubled when dealing with nobles, aristocrats and politicians. This bonus increases by an additional +2 at 9th level. In addition, the court champion automatically attempts to save against illusion spells, without having to interact with them. Mere visual contact is enough to prompt a save.

Unnerving Focus (Ex): Beginning at 2nd level, a court champion gains an ability to unnerve those he focuses his glare on. His Dodge target takes a -1 penalty to attacks against targets other than the court champion, moves at half speed away from the court champion (the target is afraid to turn his back on him). The attack penalty increases by an additional -1 at each even numbered level. This is a mind-effecting ability. At 7th level, the target also takes a penalty on Concentration checks equal to the court champion's class level.

Parry (Ex): Once per round, after his dodge target has attacked him in melee, a court champion can make an opposed attack roll to negate the attack. He makes a normal attack roll, and compares this to the opponents attack roll, adding his Expert Defense bonus to the roll. If it is higher, the attack is negated. If not, it hits, whether it would have beat the court champion's AC or not. The court champion may choose whether or not to use this after the opponents attack has been rolled, but before damage.

Resist Falsehood (Su): A court champion gains a bonus to resist magical trickery at 4th level. A court champion adds his Charisma modifier to his saves and AC against illusions and enchantments.

Detect Presence (Ex): A 4th level court champion has developed a sixth sense when it comes to finding hiding places for would-be assassins in a room. He may make a single search check while inside a room to detect any hidden alcoves, such as open areas behind tapestries, and to detect secret passages, and adds his detect subterfuge bonus to the search check. This bypasses the usual "within ten feet" restriction on search checks, and requires a full round action. He also gets the ability to detect secret doors he passes within five feet of, similar to the Elf racial ability. A court champion adds his class level as a circumstance bonus to detect the presence of people in any hiding places he is aware of, and may use his Search skill instead of his Spot check to do so, if it is higher. In addition, he gains the Blind-Fight feat as a bonus feat. If he already has the Blindfight feat, or later gains the feat again, he gains Blindsight in a 5 ft radius.

Follow Through (Ex): The court champion excels at the back and forth of fencing. If the dodge target of a 5th level of higher court champion five foot steps away from him, he may expend an attack of opportunity to take a five foot step of his own. He may make this movement even if he has already taken his five foot step for the round. If he has the Riposte ability, and he succeeds his parry attempt against an attack from a target with reach, he may expend an attack of opportunity to five foot step closer to his target, regardless of whether this puts him in range to make his riposte attempt. He may only make one five foot step using this ability per round. The court champion also gains an additional attack of opportunity each round.

Riposte (Ex): If a court champion 6th level or higher successfully uses his Parry ability, he may make an attack of opportunity against the target who missed him. This ability does not grant an extra attack of opportunity. The court champion must threaten his dodge target in melee to use this ability. If it hits, the bonus the Court Champions is currently receiving Expert Defense bonus is added to the damage.

Reveal Falsehood (Su): Once per day as a standard action, a court champion of 8th level of higher can give everyone within 30 ft a new save against any enchantments or illusions effecting them (including any illusion they can detect), with his resist falsehood bonus added to their save. He also gains the ability to catch someone out in a lie. To do this, he must first succeed in detecting a lie with an opposed Sense Motive check. He may then counter the bluffer by pointing out a hole in his explanation, causing everyone else being bluffed to re-roll their sense motive check, with the court champion's resist falsehood bonus added on. If he gains extra information about the lie using his detect subterfuge ability, he can use this in his counterpoint in order to give an additional +2 (if he exceeds by 5 or more), or +4 (if he exceeds by 10 or more) to the Sense Motive roll.

Frenzied Parry (Ex): A court champion may now parry twice per round. However, the second attempt cannot be made on first attack after a successful parry, and the second attempt suffers a -5 penalty. The court champion may Riposte after both parries as well, if he has enough attacks of opportunity.

The epic court champion gains a bonus feat (selected from the list of epic court champion feats) every three levels after tenth.

Multiclass note: a paladin with levels in court champion can continue to advance as a paladin. If he has swashbuckler levels, he may continue to advance as a paladin, and may even take additional swashbuckler levels

Epic Court Champion Bonus Feat List: Blinding Speed, Great Charisma, Great Dexterity, Great Intelligence, Dexterous Fortitude, Dexterous Will, Epic Dodge, Epic Prowess, Epic Speed, Epic Weapon Focus, Improved Combat Reflexes, Overwhelming Critical, Devastating Critical, Penetrate Damage Reduction, Superior Initiative

Campaign Information[edit]

Playing a Court Champion[edit]

Combat: a court champion specializes in one on one combat. His class features give him bonuses, but only against a single opponent. In a large encounter, a court champion will generally target the most dangerous opponent with dodge, and focus on him, using the normal AC bonus from Combat Expertise to avoid attacks from other enemies. Parry and Riposte give a court champion more ability to defend and counterattack.

Advancement: Duelist levels can make a court champion even more proficient in the art of dueling, and the feats required for Duelist include some required by this class. More paladin or swashbuckler levels help as well.

Resources: There is no organization for court champions, because each one would serve a different kingdom. However, a court champion can generally expect support from his government.

Court Champions in the World[edit]

I don't care who you are, or who your friends are. I shall cut you down like the traitor you are, and damn the consequences.

Court champions are similar to paladins in most social situations. They can be the face of the party, so long as the party has little to hide. A court champion is generally a devoted retainer to someone in a position of power, though how close they can be to their lord may vary; outing a popular noble or politician for plotting or corruption may put the champion on the outs with high society, causing them to leave town until the hubbub dies down. On the other hand, after successfully thwarting a plot, a court champion may be put into a direct bodyguard position, rarely away from his charges side.

NPC Reactions: Same as a fighter, paladin, or other retainer of the organization he serves to those outside the organization the court champion serves. Loyal members start one step closer to friendly, any subversive faction within the organization starts one step closer to hostile. Those who know more about court champions may be more friendly (if they are both loyal) or more hostile if the NPC has a reason to fear the court champion's scrutiny.

Court Champion Lore[edit]

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

Knowledge (nobility and royalty)
DC Result
11 Court champions defend their kingdoms from those who wish to rule in the place of the proper rulers.
16 Court champions are expert duelists.
21 Court champions have investigative skills far exceeding what would be expected of them.
26 Information on specific court champions in the game, and possibly information about their specific abilities (feats and classes).

Court Champions in the Game[edit]

Most NPC court champions are in service of good kingdoms. One could assist the PCs in an investigation in his home country, or oppose them if he thinks they have something to hide (whether they do or not). A PC court champion could be in a state of exile, self imposed or not, due to an earlier event that lead to him uncovering a plot, and creating a scandal by revealing it.

Adaptation: This class should be able to fit in with little or no modification. A paladin serving as a close retainer of the king could instead be a court champion. The class has no truly groundbreaking abilities, so modifying a NPC to be a court champion should not cause any alarm.

Sample Encounter: Harrison Clovet is a court champion on the outs with high society. He's found stirrings indicating a plot against the king, but he can't prove anything. Worse yet, his initial reports have been laughed off. This means he's not welcome in court right now, and worse yet, he suspects that his report was buried because one of his superiors is complicit in the plot.

EL 11: The PCs encounter Harrison Clovet at a bar. He's looking for some assistance from people he can be sure are trustworthy, or at least that he can be sure aren't already in the employ of the plotters. New faces in town are likely not a part of the plot, and depending on the party he might actually decide to truly trust them. He'll need help investigating, and maybe someone to gather information from inside the palace, visiting court without Harrison showing his face.

CR 15

Male Human Paladin 2/ Swashbuckler 3/ Court Champion 6
Lawful Good Medium humanoid (human)
Init/Senses +4/Listen +0, Spot +0
Languages Common
AC 25, touch 16, flat-footed 21
(+6 armor, +2 deflection bonus, +4 Dex, +3 shield)
hp 60 (11 HD)
Fort/Ref/Will +12/+13/+9
Speed 30 ft. (6 squares)
Melee +2 Flaming Rapier +17/+12/+7 (1d6+4 15-20/×2) +1d6
Base Atk/Grp +11/+11
Atk Options Dodge, Combat Reflexes, Combat Expertise
Special Actions Expert Defense, Parry, Riposte
Abilities Str 10, Dex 18, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 10, Cha 16
Feats Dodge, Combat Reflexes, Weapon Finesse, Combat Expertise, Investigator, Improved Critical (Rapier)
Skills Gather Information (Cha) +21, Sense Motive (Wis) +18, Search (Int) +20, Jump (Str) +6, Tumble (Dex) +10,
Possessions +2 Flaming rapier, +2 chain shirt, cloak of charisma +2, gloves of dexterity +2, +2 buckler, ring of protection +2.

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