Gnome Ettin-Rider (3.5e Prestige Class)

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Gnome Ettin Rider[edit]

"BlugKrug, move forward to engage the one in plate mail. Blug, swing at his knees. Krug, smash his head when he dodges. I'll make that archer ours: Dominate Person." ~ Fidan Smoke Eyes, Gnome Ettin Rider

While most adventurous young gnomes are given the opportunity to ride borrowed ettins within gnomish enclaves, only gnomes with demonstrated commitment to the Federation and who have excellent mental and physical control are permitted to become bonded Ettin-Riders. It would be a sign of an exploitable weakness of the Federation – not to mention embarrassing – if its riders were seen to occasionally fall off, lose control of their mounts, or fizzle a spell while charging into battle, so specially trained ettins are only given over to gnomes in whom the Federation has complete confidence. Each ettin is ritually bound to a single gnome, though a gnome is welcome to acquire a new mount should its previous one cease to be functional (at the cost of a second ritual casting).

Becoming a Gnome Ettin Rider[edit]

Most Ettin Riders begin their careers as Wizards or Beguilers who specialize in deception and compulsion. They must be able to convince each ettin head that the voice they hear is the giant's other head.

Entry Requirements
Race: Gnome.
Skills: Concentration 10 ranks, Spellcraft 10 ranks, Ride 5 ranks.
Feats: Combat casting, Mobile Spellcaster, and Skill Focus (Ride).
Spellcasting: Ability to cast Charm Monster; ability to cast Major Image.
Special: Approval of the Gnomish Federation for use of a trained ettin. The permanent sacrifice a spell slot at the level that can cast Charm Monster and a spell slot at the level that cast Major Image in a ritual that binds ettin to the character’s will. The ettin afterward sees what the rider wishes it to see and treats the rider as a trusted ally. Ettins may be replaced, but additional spell slots must be sacrificed to perform the ritual a second time.

Table: The Gnome Ettin Rider

Hit Die: d4

Level Base
Attack Bonus
Saving Throws Special Spellcasting
Fort Ref Will
1st +1 +0 +0 +2 Ettin, Saddle, Cover +1 Spellcaster Level
2nd +1 +0 +0 +3 - +1 Spellcaster Level
3rd +2 +1 +1 +3 Training Regimen, Empathic Link -
4th +2 +1 +1 +4 - +1 Spellcaster Level
5th +3 +1 +1 +4 Training Regimen, Share Spell -
6th +3 +2 +2 +5 Automatic Concentration +1 Spellcaster Level
7th +4 +2 +2 +5 Training Regimen, Improved Speed -
8th +4 +2 +2 +6 - +1 Spellcaster Level
9th +5 +3 +3 +6 Training Regimen, Immunities -
10th +5 +3 +3 +7 Training Regimen, Spell Resistance +1 Spellcaster Level

Class Skills (3 + Int modifier per level)
The Gnome Ettin-Riders class skills (and the key ability for each) are: Appraise (Int), Bluff (Cha), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Decipher Script (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Forgery (Int), Gather Information (Cha), Knowledge (all skills, taken individually) (Int), Ride (Dex), Perform (Cha), Spellcraft (Int)


Class Features[edit]

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Gnome Ettin Riders gain no proficiency with any armor and any weapon.

Ettin: In a ritual binding the giant, you gain a two-headed ettin that obeys you as if under a permanent Charm Monster spell. The ritual does not allow you to control the charmed giant as if it were an automaton, but it perceives your words and actions in the most favorable way. In fact, it thinks you are its other head, and hence half of itself. The ettin never obeys suicidal or obviously harmful orders, but it might be convinced that something very dangerous is worth doing. Any act by you or your apparent allies that harms the ettin requires you to spend a full round action to redirect its anger and make it pliable again. As a move action, you may alter what the ettin sees, hears, smells, and the temperatures and textures it feels as if using Major Image. This makes convincing the ettin to do as you wish fairly trivial in most cases, at least for riders who think through the consequences of their illusions. If someone other than you attempts to use illusion or charm to manipulate your ettin, you may make an opposing caster level check to override the spell as a free action, and you gain a +2 to this check due to your bond. You may retry this check on your subsequent turns, though regaining control of your mount becomes a move action if your initial counter failed, and you may gain an additional +4 on the check if you use a full round action. Riding ettins are much like their wild forebearers (See Monster Manual 1 for statistics), though they have been specially trained from birth to speak gnomish. Also due to their lifelong training, ettins gain the Coordinated Attack feat: each ettin head may attack at full base attack bonus with the arm it controls, meaning that it has four total attacks in a full round attack.

Saddle: The Gnomish Federation provides custom fitted military saddles, which provides the gnome +2 to ride checks and an additional +2 on ride checks to stay in the saddle. The saddle is compatible with any armor worn by the ettin, though you must purchase this armor yourself. Armor for non-humanoid large creatures costs four times as much as standard medium armor and is twice as heavy. Such armor is readily available for sale throughout the Gnomish Federation, and could be custom ordered elsewhere. Also, ettins are not proficient in armor until trained by their riders to be so (see Training Regimen below).

Cover: Being behind a giant wall of flesh provides you with +4 cover from both melee and ranged attacks coming from in front of the ettin. You are still exposed from behind and the side, though you are high enough up that small creatures on the ground would have to jump to hit you. If the attack aimed at you misses you because of cover, then the attack is treated as if it were directed at the ettin instead and is resolved using the ettin's Armor Class against the original attack.

Spellcasting: At even numbered levels, you gain new spells per day and an increase in caster level (and spells known, if applicable) as if you had also gained a level in a spellcasting class to which you belonged before adding the prestige class level. You do not, however, gain any other benefit a character of that class would have gained. If you had more than one spellcasting class before becoming an Ettin Rider, you must decide which class to add to each level for the purpose of determining spells per day, caster level, and spells known.

Empathic Link (Ex): You gain an empathic link with your ettin out to a distance of up to 1 mile. You cannot see through the ettin's eyes, but you can communicate empathically. Because of the limited nature of the link, only general emotional content can be communicated. Because of this empathic link, you have the same connection to an item or place that your ettin does.

Training Regimen (Ex): A skilled rider can push his or her ettin to complete regimented daily training exercises that increase the giant’s strength, dexterity, and skills beyond what any ettin would naturally attain. At third, fifth, seventh, ninth, and tenth level, the rider's ettin adds 1 to EITHER Strength OR Dexterity (rider's choice). At those same levels, the ettin gains a level of Warrior. These levels include Hit Dice, skills, feats, increase in base attack bonus, increases in ability scores every four levels, armor proficiency, class skills, etc. just as if taken by a player character. The rider may take feats Barbarian Mount, Fighter Mount, Ranger Mount, or Scout Mount to train their mount in one of those classes instead of Warrior. The appropriate feat must be taken before the ettin gains its level in that class, and the feats do NOT retroactively change warrior training. Riders with more than one of the preceding feats may choose which class their mount levels into each time it gains Training Regimen, and the ettin may freely multiclass in this case.

Share Spell (Ex): You may have any spell(but not any spell-like ability) you casts on yourself also affect your mount. The mount must be within 5 feet at the time of casting to receive the benefit. If the spell or effect has a duration other than instantaneous, it stops affecting the mount if it moves farther than 5 feet away and will not affect the mount again even if it returns to you before the duration expires. Additionally, you may cast a spell with a target of “You” on your mount (as a touch range spell) instead of on yourself. You and your mount can share spells even if the spells normally do not affect ettins.

Automatic Concentration (Ex): You are now familiar enough with mounted casting that you no longer need to make concentration checks to cast from the back of your ettin, even while it is running at full speed or engaged in melee. You must still make concentration checks provoked from other causes.

Improved Speed (Ex): Your mount's move speed increases by +10. This ability stacks with the ability granted by the scout or barbarian class if applicable.

Immunities (Ex): Your mount is immune to hold, paralysis, sleep, charms, and compulsions originating from anyone except yourself.

Spell Resistance (Ex): The mount gains spell resistance equal to the rider's combined character levels + 5.

Ex-Ettin Riders[edit]

The Ettin Riders serve the Gnomish Federation, sometimes directly and sometimes by doing great deeds to strike fear into the Federations enemies. If an Ettin rider dishonors or, worse, opposes the Federation, it will likely hunt down the rider and ettin alike as examples. It is rumored that the binding ritual has a built in trigger phrase that will make the ettin immune to its rider's spells, making the eradication of wayward riders that much easier. Whether this rumor is true or not, it has proved useful in motivating the riders to maintain their loyalty.

If the rider's bonded ettin dies, it may be raised from the dead. It loses a class level if it had any, or a hit die if not. If the rider wishes to replace the ettin, he or she may request a new mount from the Gnomish Federation. If the Federation still believes the rider to be worthy, he or she is granted a second bonding ritual. This ritual has the same cost in spell slots as the first one. The new ettin does not begin with any Training Regimen improvements. You retain your Automatic Concentration skill or still gain it at sixth level. However, your other abilities must be gained at the same rate with the new ettin as they did with the old.

Regardless of what you do upon the death of your ettin, you retain all spell casting levels, base attack bonus increases, and saving throw increases you gained from your levels.

Campaign Information[edit]

Gnome Ettin Riders in the World[edit]

They're monsters and we should do the world a favor and slay them all. We should kill the ettins too, while we're at it.


NPC Reactions: Dwarves fear and despise Ettin-Riders as the face of their generations of oppression. Most others in the world consider them a symbol of Gnomish expansionist and militaristic tendencies, and are wary at the least. Other gnomes will show respect and deference.

Gnome Ettin Rider Lore[edit]

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

Knowledge (Arcana) or Knowledge (History)
DC Result
11 The gnomes have a breeding and training program to create maleable ettins to control with their spells.
16 Ettin riders originated when ettins were sent by a small band of dwarfs to slay the gnomish settlements. The gnomes gained control of the dwarfs' ettin breeding grounds and used the ettins to wage successful war on all of the dwarven kingdoms, turning them into vassal states.
21 Ettin Riders bind their ettins to their will with a magic ritual. They control what the ettin experiences, and even pretend to each of the giants' heads that they are the other head.
26 The ritual binding the ettin to rider contains a built in trigger phrase that breaks the bond and causes the ettin to go beserk. Only the gnome archmage who cast the binding knows the command phrase, and will not use it unless the rider goes rogue.



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