Gray One (3.5e Prestige Class)

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Gray One[edit]

Existence is the bedrock of anguish, in fact I'm annoyed by your interference.

Let me relieve you of the anguish.

—Beshtuil the Forlorn, human gray one


The gray ones are dreadful manipulators of negative emotions, deriving their mystic powers from the sadness they bring onto others. In battle these warlocks interfere with enemies causing extreme sadness, anguish and despair, allowing their allies to end with the sword or magic those miserables, now wretched shell of their previous selfs. This gloomy scholars spend their time contemplating the poverty of existence and plan to teach this knowledge to others, at least when someone bothers their solitude. They don't like companionship and they often go on adventures alone or with few and silent partners. Anyway adventure is better then life in a community and they think themselves above doing common works to survive. Because of this they prefer to live isolated, in towers and far caverns, studying arcane texts to delve further in their understanding of life and of their abilities, or to go around the world, abandoning themselves to existential pain. They do everything to make people go and stay away from them but for that they are regarded as lunatics and dangerous people.

More warlock prestige classes here.

Becoming a Gray One[edit]

Only warlocks pursue this class, especially the ones who understands the futility of life, the sadness in reality. Usually they are full warlocks, as the class doesn't benefit from other classes' features. Charisma is their primary stat to increase the DC of invocations, Constitution and Dexterity are also important, Intelligence is more for roleplaying purposes.

Entry Requirements
Alignment: Any non-good
Skills: Bluff 5 ranks, Intimidate 5 ranks, Sense Motive 8 ranks
Invocations: Invocation: Curse of despair

Table: The Gray One

Hit Die: d6

Level Base
Attack Bonus
Saving Throws Special Invoking
Fort Ref Will
1st +0 +0 +0 +2 Aura of sadness, There's nothing to fear +1 level of existing invocation-using class
2nd +1 +0 +0 +3 Eldritch blast +1d6, New lesser invocation: Fog of distress, Misty sight +1 level of existing invocation-using class
3rd +1 +1 +1 +3 Mask of tears +1 level of existing invocation-using class
4th +2 +1 +1 +4 Eldritch blast +1d6, Gazing the Abyss +1 level of existing invocation-using class
5th +2 +1 +1 +4 New greater invocation: Painful wail +1 level of existing invocation-using class
6th +3 +2 +2 +5 Eldritch blast +1d6, Accumulation of affliction +1 level of existing invocation-using class
7th +3 +2 +2 +5 New greater invocation: Oppressive hound +1 level of existing invocation-using class
8th +4 +2 +2 +6 Eldritch blast +1d6, Abyss' gaze +1 level of existing invocation-using class
9th +4 +3 +3 +6 Aura of depression +1 level of existing invocation-using class
10th +5 +3 +3 +7 Eldritch blast +1d6, Weeping mourner (3xday) +1 level of existing invocation-using class

Class Skills (2 + Int modifier per level)

Bluff (Cha), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Decipher Script (Int), Disguise (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge(arcana) (Int), Knowledge(religion) (Int), Knowledge(the planes) (Int),  Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Spellcraft (Int), Use Magic Device (Cha).

Class Features[edit]

All of the following are class features of the gray one.

Weapons and Armors proficiency: A gray one gains no proficiency with weapons or armors.

Invocations: At each level, you gain new invocations and an increase in caster level as if you had also gained a level in a invoking 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.

Aura of sadness (Su): The gray one emits an aura of anguish in 10 feet (3 meters) around himself. The aura imposes a -2 penalty on attack rolls, saving throws and skill checks, while the subject remains in the area. It is always active unless it wills to suppress it with a swift action, restoring it the same way. This is a mind-affecting ability.

Subjects to the aura feel a surge of sorrow fill their bodies, as painful memories come to mind. They become less active and less ready to react. Sometimes they experience shadows in the corner of their eyes.

There's nothing to fear (Ex): The gray one is immune to any kind of fear and fear effect.

The gray one cannot suffer from demoralization from scary thoughts because it has delved in the most frightening idea and there's nothing worst to fear.

Eldritch blast (Sp): As the class feature of the same name of the warlock. It increases by +1d6 at 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th and 10th level.

This feature is diminished in power as the gray one doesn't rely so much on killing his adversaries.

Misty sight (Ex): The gray one sees perfectly even in fog, ashes, sandstorms and any weather condition that impedes vision.

Long, tear-stained nights have hardened the gray one's eyes against all matter of particles, thus it never suffer any material impediment to its sight.

New lesser invocation: Fog of distress (Sp): The gray one learns the invocation fog of distress. It creates a fog that lasts for 1 round per Charisma modifier and it extends in a radius of 30 feet (9 meters) with a range equal to the range of the eldritch blast. Everyone caught or entering the fog must make a Will save or suffer fear becoming shaken until inside or 1 round after exiting the fog. This is a mind-affecting ability. Counts as a 4th level spell.

This deep gray fog is said to be inhabited by spectres of the past, reminding us of the caducity of life.

Mask of tears (Su): The gray one gains a competence bonus equal to its class level to Bluff and Intimidate. The DC for its invocations that impose penalties increases by 2, as well for any spell-like ability it has.

The face of the gray one has become a symbol of anguish itself making its abilities more effective and its expressions more convincing.

Gazing the Abyss (Ex): It gets a bonus of +4 to saving throws against mind-affecting effects, but it must roll even for effects that give bonuses (e.g. the spell heroism or the class feature Inspire courage) with the same bonus. If it succeeds, it negates the effect.

To contemplate futility means understanding that joy and hope are just smoke images that distracts from the harsh, but bearable, reality.

New greater invocation: Painful wail (Sp): This invocation replicates the spell wail of doom, using the level in gray one and warlock as caster level, but a failed save renders the target cowering, not panicked. The cowering effect lasts for 1 round per Charisma modifier of the gray one. This is not a fear effect, except for the shaken condition. Counts as a 6th level spell.

A sobbing cry fills the air as a catatonic state fills the hearts of those who hear it. The pain is so strong that it becomes physical.

Accumulation of affliction (Ex): The penalties from the invocations and class features that are mind-affecting abilities of the gray one are now cumulative.

As a bitter honey, anguish stacks with itself making the unlucky shake in misery.

New greater invocation: Oppressive hound (Sp): A spectral and horrible wolf or dog is summoned for 1 round per class level. The creature follows the target constantly, remaing adjacent. The target suffers the effect of aura of sadness. The hound cannot be attacked but it can be dispelled. It can flank enemies. As a standard action the summoner can change the target or with a free action if the previous target dies or becomes unconscious. If the target becomes shaken, frightened or panicked the hound bites it: if it's successful it inflicts 1d8+Charisma modifier of the gray one and imposes a Will save. If it fails a shaken target becomes frightned, a frightened or cowering one becomes panicked and if the target is already panicked the bite threatens a critical hit. Counts as a 7th level spell.

This dread ghost or ghoul appears canine in form and, with a howl, charge the target, slowly circling it, never averting its gaze. The victim feels cold and fright at the presence. The hound appears incorporeal and usually horrifying in appearence. Its bite is burning and vitriolic, casting the victim in a deeper state of fear, as it knows that this is what feels like Hell.

Abyss' gaze (Ex): The gray one cannot benefit from mind-affecting effects bonuses but it reverses the penalties from mind-affecting effects in bonuses, or doesn't suffer the penalties if there's nothing to reverse.

Woe and solitude take voice and begin to speak. Their words cannot be unheard but the gray one finds a strange comfort in it.

Aura of depression (Su): The penalties from aura of sadness become -4 and the radius increases to 20 feet (6 meters). The aura force also a Will save to prevent becoming fatigued. If failed the penalties stack with that of aura of depression.

As an iron mantle, a special kind of sadness takes over and the body feels empty, the mind numb, the air cold. Those who don't resist it hardly find a reason to continue as little demons start dragging them down.

Weeping mourner (Sp): The gray one can use the spell wail of the banshee as a spell-like ability 3 times per day but the saving throw is a Will save. The effect is mind-affecting ability, not a death effect.

The final cry of suffering, a scream towards Death to come gather even you. Those who succumb to it sometimes suffer a heart-attack, sometimes kill themselves on the spot. More crying usually follows.

Ex-Gray Ones[edit]

A gray one that becomes good cannot progress in the class and it loses its class abilities except the eldritch blast and the normal invocations it gains. If it returns neutral or evil everthing goes back to normal. Being good means at least having a bit of hope in something: this is impossible for a gray one.

Campaign Information[edit]

Playing a Gray One[edit]

Combat: The gray one is fundamentally a debuffer, possibily leaving other spellcasters free to use other types of magic, especially taking advantage of the penalties to saves the gray one inflicts. Obviously even melee and ranged combatants benefit if the enemy has reduced AC and attack rolls and action restrictions.

Advancement: Being a full invoking class it is probably best to complete all ten levels, but every warlock liking this playstyle benefits from even a few levels. Multiclassing is as good as it is for a warlock. Probably it could pick some other prestige class if it helps with its role, or it could be good for someone who multiclass in warlock only for some levels.

Resources: None. Being alone is the point. No one is going to help you.

Gray Ones in the World[edit]

Leave me alone!
—Name unknown, dwarf gray one

Gray ones aren't particularly difficult to insert in a campagnain: they fit the niche of the dark and solitary arcanist. Having no formal organization makes them flexible when introduced in the world: are they neutral characters or NPCs that simply thinks that life is pain and devoid of meaning? Are they existentialists or simply pessimists? Are they evil and inclined to share their pain with others to relieve themselves or are they so disillusioned with life that they simply don't care if others suffer? Are they instead people pleased from other's suffering or are they the way they are to protect themselves from harma? Where do their powers come from? Heritage (maybe from a yugoloth), sadness itself or contemplation of despair? From a personal experience? Or a curse, a side-effect of their studies or of abilities they already have? They could be scholars, researchers, antiquarians, leaders or tyrants, mad men and women


NPC Reactions: A question often asked about gray ones is: "Why do you want to go to the tower of the strange half-elf that stays by herself, muttering alone in the dark and that has made very clear she doesn't want anyone near her?". Common folk look at gray ones with a mix of discomfort and disgust, often appearing to them as strange homeless people, travelling alone. This changes if the gray one presents itself better or if it is discovered or already known that they are some kind of spellcasters: in this case they are regarded the way magic users are in the land with the added trait that they exude a strange feeling of gloom and uneasyness. When they are correctly identified as warlocks and gray ones they are either left alone or hunted down or opposed anyway, depending on the opinion people and authority have about them.

In commercial establishments, such as taverns or shops, they are usually sent away before they make the customers leave because of the sudden change of mood they obviously carry. Churches and clerics often confront philosophically with them or violently antagonize them for their ideals.

Gray One Lore[edit]

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

Knowledge(local)
DC Result
11 They are weird, brooding guys that usually prefer to spend time alone. Better not to approach them.
16 Those warlocks use strange powers that makes you feel empty and sluggish. Better have someone to cheer you up.
21 They are powerful scholars, very dangerous if someone gets on their bad side. Luckily they don't associate with each other, or with anyone else for what matters.
26 Sometimes you hear rumors about an organization of gray ones with the intent to destroy the universe by re-awakening an ancient god.

This is often dismissed as false by experts and anyway uncharacteristic of them, given their solitary nature and lack of passion. Still, the rumors hold on.

Gray Ones in the Game[edit]

Gray ones are as good as full warlocks in traditional fantasy campaigns, narratively speaking. Mechanically they are debuffers, while roleplay-wise they can be group faces, leaders (tough a strange kind), knowledgeable ones and so on. They can be extremely edgy or well-thought characters if done right, playing them as outcasts or philosophers. They fit well in a more neutral/gray aligned campaign, in which good guys aren't so good. Otherwise they can be used even as evil NPCs: they would realistically live in an unescapable dungeon/tower/fortress of solitude, filled with impossible traps, magic hazards and other amenities. Very good for a simple campaign.

Adaptation: They are very generic, so they should be good for anything. Maybe even good ones could reasonably exist.

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

EL whatever: <-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->


Table: The Epic <-class name->
Level Special
11th <-any improvements to class features gained at this level, including any bonus feats->
12th <-any improvements to class features gained at this level, including any bonus feats->
13th <-any improvements to class features gained at this level, including any bonus feats->
14th <-any improvements to class features gained at this level, including any bonus feats->
15th <-any improvements to class features gained at this level, including any bonus feats->
16th <-any improvements to class features gained at this level, including any bonus feats->
17th <-any improvements to class features gained at this level, including any bonus feats->
18th <-any improvements to class features gained at this level, including any bonus feats->
19th <-any improvements to class features gained at this level, including any bonus feats->
20th <-any improvements to class features gained at this level, including any bonus feats->

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