Grim (3.5e Class)
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|“||Your stay is unwelcome and soon to be ended. Speak your last words now while your voice still echoes.||”|
|—Brody, candothist grim, threatening a ghost.|
A grim wanders from town to town, passing amongst the varied peoples. The chill touch of death eternally separates the grim from common folk. He travels to find lost souls left trapped in homes, towns, graveyards and long forgotten crypts. He brings the wayward dead eternal rest, any way he can.
To most, the grim appears as a simple warrior, if an often sullen or gloomy one. However, it is the grim's duty to ferry the souls of the dead to their afterlife. He is a beacon of safe haven to the lost and wayward dead on the Material Plane who seek their final destination, but to those who grasp onto the living world beyond their welcome, he is a dreaded enemy. The grim is constantly reminded of his mortality and the horrific torment brought upon those who fail to cross over throughout his duties as well as serving as a reminder to others. It is this trait that earns him the name of "grim".
Harnessing divine power directly from the essence of the Ethereal Plane, the grim transforms into the bane of those who defy death. With precise control, he is a fearsome presence in combat.
Making a Grim
He who follows this path may be brought into the life of a grim by making a pact with powerful spirits, a deity of death, or perhaps some inborn connection or longstanding powerful trauma that has connected him to the agents of death or the Ethereal Plane.
Grims are capable frontline melee combatants. Often wearing light armor or medium armor, they rely on maneuverability and tactics. As they see fit, they call upon their Grim Transformation and tear through opponents. They cast their spells to allow them to manipulate situations and bypass traps and obstacles. For all their fearsome power, they lack the physical presence of a true martial character, such as a fighter or barbarian or the magical aptitude of a wizard or cleric. Despite their frequently reclusive habits, grims often rely on allies in troubling times.
Abilities: Dexterity is great for Armor Class as well as their ability to make touch attacks or specialize in finesse weapons. A high Wisdom increases the potency of grim spells. Strength is, of course, handy for melee combat, grappling and all that other burly stuff.
Races: Any race that respects the dead or holds a reverence for passing-on are likely to have a few grims among their populace. Humans, with their natural need to understand the world around them, take to becoming grims easily. Elves and half-elves often have a fair number of grims among their numbers. Dwarves are rarely grims, since they are so long-lived with little demand for the role. Halflings and gnomes occasionally take up the life of a grim, either as outcasts or eccentric but necessary public servants. Primitive cultures often have grims, who may additionally serve as spiritualists and preachers to their fellows.
Alignment: Grims have diverse reasons for following their path. Their personalities, motivations and passions drive them. Just as their backgrounds and reasons are diverse, so are their alignments, and a grim may be of any alignment without restriction to his class abilities.
Starting Gold: 5d4 × 10 gp (125 gp).
|Saving Throws||Special||Spells Known|
|1st||+0||+0||+0||+2||Ethereal Gate (Su), Aura of Unease (Su), Discount (Ex), Gate Protection (Su)||1||—||—||—|
|2nd||+1||+0||+0||+3||Transformation (Su) 1/day, Alteration, Transformation: Rending Touch||2||—||—||—|
|3rd||+2||+1||+1||+3||Grim Sight (Su) Dedication (Ex)||2||—||—||—|
|4th||+3||+1||+1||+4||Transformation 2/day, Alteration||2||1||—||—|
|5th||+3||+1||+1||+4||Grim Sight: See Invisibility (Su), Divine Suffusion 1st Level (Su)||2||1||—||—|
|7th||+5||+2||+2||+5||Transformation: Lucent Body, Grim Sight: See Ethereal (Su)||2||2||—||—|
|8th||+6/+1||+2||+2||+6||Transformation 3/day, Alteration, Returning Memories||3||2||—||—|
|9th||+6/+1||+3||+3||+6||Imbued Body (Ex), Divine Suffusion 2nd Level (Su)||3||2||—||—|
|10th||+7/+2||+3||+3||+7||Death's Contract, Alteration||3||2||1||—|
|11th||+8/+3||+3||+3||+7||Transformation: Ethereal Deviation||4||2||1||—|
|12th||+9/+4||+4||+4||+8||Transformation 4/day, Alteration||4||2||1||—|
|14th||+10/+5||+4||+4||+9||Alteration, Divine Suffusion 3rd Level (Su)||4||2||2||—|
|15th||+11/+6/+1||+5||+5||+9||Transformation: Rending Nullification Touch||4||2||2||1|
|16th||+12/+7/+2||+5||+5||+10||Transformation 5/day, Alteration||4||3||2||1|
|18th||+13/+8/+3||+6||+6||+11||Transformation 6/day, Alteration||4||3||3||1|
|19th||+14/+9/+4||+6||+6||+11||Divine Suffusion 4th Level (Su)||4||3||3||1|
|20th||+15/+10/+5||+6||+6||+12||Grim Nova (Su), Alteration||4||3||3||2|
Class Skills (4 + Int modifier per level, ×4 at 1st level)
Grims gain powers that augment their Transformation, ease their passage from life and death and back, augment their bodies, senses and essences as well as destructive touch attacks and resistances to undead.
All of the following are class features of the grim.
Spells: A grim casts his spells at-will as spell-like abilities while Transformed. The grim cannot cast spells when not Transformed unless he has also gained the appropriate Divine Suffusion to cast a spell of that level. Wisdom determines the power of his spells.
A grim channels his spells through divine meditation in a one hour meditation ritual typically performed at dawn after awaking. The spells he learns are ingrained into his essence and he may use them at will while Transformed. However, if he wishes to change what spells he is able to cast, he must meditate uninterrupted for one hour. He may change any or all of his known spells. A grim may prepare and cast any spell on the grim spell list, provided that he can cast spells of that level, but he must choose which spells to prepare during his meditation.
To learn or cast a spell, a grim must have a Wisdom score equal to at least 10 + the spell level. The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against a grim’s spell is 10 + the spell level + the grim’s Wisdom modifier. Unlike most other spellcasters, a grim has a limitless supply of spells per day. In addition, he only gains access to lower level spells and is initially limited to casting spells only while Transformed.
A grim’s variety of spells is extremely limited. A grim is able to learn one 1st-level spell of his choice at 1st level. As he gains more grim levels, he gains more new spells, as indicated on Table: The Grim. (The number of spells a grim knows is not affected by his Wisdom score; the numbers on Table: The Grim are fixed.) These spells are chosen from the list below.
Upon reaching 4th, 10th and 15th levels, the grim gains access to each higher level of spells. He may choose to have a lower level spell occupy a higher level slot (though, the spell is still cast as though it were of its normal level).
Metamagic feats are a great boon to a grim's spellcasting, allowing him to cast a wider variety of spells that occupy his higher level spell-slots for greater effect. However, to use a metamagic feat, the spell must be prepared to occupy the higher slot to be used, like a wizard.
Like a wizard or a cleric, a grim prepares his spell slots in advance. He can cast any spell he meditated for at-will while Transformed. To cast a spell while not Transformed, a grim must have the corresponding Divine Suffusion to cast spells of that level.
Grims choose their spells from the following list:
1st— cause fear, comprehend languages, deathwatch, detect magic, detect secret doors, detect undead, disrupt undead, expeditious retreat, hide from undead, light, mage hand, message, obscuring mist, sleep, touch of fatigue
Ethereal Gate (Su): At 1st level, an ethereal gate of tiny slowly rotating rings appears on the grim's body, no bigger than the palm of his hand. This gate opens to allow willing souls passage to their final destinations. The gate is in a location of the grim's choice and is ethereal.
Aura of Unease (Ex): At 1st level, all animals that come within 10 feet of the grim must make a Will save DC 10 + ½ his grim levels + Charisma modifier or become shaken. The animal stays shaken as long as it stays within 10 feet of the grim and for 1d4 rounds afterwords. If the animal succeeds at its save, it is unaffected by the grim's Aura of Unease for 24 hours.
Discount (Ex): At 1st level, as compensation for the grim's duties, he gains a discount on being raised from the dead. The material component cost requirement drops by 5% for each grim level he possesses. At 20 grim levels, the material component cost to be raised from the dead no longer needs to be paid.
Gate Protection (Ex): The otherworldly power of the Ethereal Gate affords the grim protection against undead. Starting at 1st level, the grim gains a bonus on all saves to resist the supernatural, extraordinary, spell-like or psi-like attacks of undead creatures. This ability increases at a rate of 1 point of bonus per 4 additional grim levels, increasing to +2 at 5th, +3 at 9th, +4 at 13th, +5 at 17th and so on.
Grim Transformation (Su): A flow of strange ethereal waves flow into his body and weapons. He begins glowing as faintly as a candle, dimly illuminating his square. At 2nd level, he learns to harness the otherworldly power of his Ethereal Gate to transform his body. His transformation's appearance evolves as he gains levels (the exact form he takes varies from grim to grim. See "Choosing a Transformed Form below for ideas).
His armor, coursing with otherworldly power, no longer restricts his movement. His armor's armor check penalty, maximum dexterity bonus and Arcane Spell Failure are negated while he remains Transformed. He regains his unencumbered speed if he wears medium or heavy armor and is otherwise unencumbered.
He glides roughly 4 inches over the ground without touching it. He can pass over non-solid or unstable ground without suffering penalties to movement, such as water or lava. He leaves no tracks behind.
He may Transform at will as a free action on his turn. His Transformation lasts for a number of rounds per day equal to 3 + the character’s Constitution modifier (minimum of 1 round). A grim may prematurely end his Transformation. As a grim gains levels, he will also gain new Transformation Properties during his Transformation as well as have his choice of other Alterations to modify his Transformation with.
At 2nd level he can use his Transformation ability once per day. At 4th level and every four levels thereafter, he can use it one additional time per day (to a maximum of six times per day at 20th level). Transforming takes no time itself, but a grim can do it only during his action, not in response to someone else’s action.
Rending Touch (Su): At 2nd level, he learns to channel otherworldly energy as a raw magical force to perform a touch attack as a standard action against his opponents. He deals 1d6 damage per two grim levels as magical energies tear through and inundate the target (2d6 at 4th level, 3d6 at 6th level and so on). While Transformed, he deals damage equal to 1d6 per grim level. In the event he grapples his opponent, and is not pinned, he automatically succeeds his touch attack against his opponent.
Rending Touch is a touch attack that affects a single target, allowing no saving throw. A Rending Touch deals 1d6 points of damage at 2nd level and increases in power as the grim rises in level. For the purposes of spell resistance and other effects calculated by spell level, Rending Touch is the equivalent of a spell whose level is equal to one-half the grim’s class level (round down), with a minimum spell level of 1st and a maximum of 9th when a grim reaches 18th level or higher. A Rending Touch is subject to spell resistance, however, the Spell Penetration feat and other effects that improve caster level checks to overcome spell resistance also apply to Rending Touch. A Rending Touch deals half damage to objects until he gains Rending Nullification Touch. However, the feat Ability Focus (Rending Touch) increases the DC for all saving throws (if any) associated with a grim’s Rending Touch by 2.
|Creature||1d6 damage per 2 grim levels||1d6 damage per grim level|
|Object1||1d6 damage per 2 grim levels/2||1d6 damage per grim level/2|
|Object2||1 cubic foot per 2 grim levels||1 cubic foot per grim level|
Lucent Body (Su): At 7th level, when he transforms, a glowing radiance flares from his body and weapons. His entire body glows like a light spell (in a color of his choice, and is always the same). He gains a +2 deflection bonus to his Armor Class against all attacks from corporeal sources, except force effects or weapons with the ghost touch enhancement. He can move through solid objects at half his movement speed. He gains a +10 circumstance bonus to Move Silently skill checks.
Ethereal Deviation (Su): At 11th level, his otherworldly power allows him to immerse himself into the Ethereal Plane at-will while Transformed. Ethereal Deviation Transformation works similarly to the spell ethereal jaunt, except that he can dive into or emerge from the Ethereal Plane once per round. His appearance grows hazy and indistinct, his glow fades as he does, disappearing onto the Ethereal Plane. He can pass through any solid object, at half speed, but not through forces (which extend onto the Ethereal Plane).
If he ends his Ethereal Deviation and becomes material while inside a material object (such as a solid wall), he is shunted off to the nearest open space and take 1d6 points of damage per 5 feet that he so travels.
Rending Nullification Touch (Su): At 15th level, the power of his Rending Touch grows to affect objects and force effects, such as a wall of force. Any creature reduced to 0 or fewer hit points by this attack is entirely disintegrated, leaving behind trace dust and any equipment it carried. A Fortitude save prevents disintegration but leaves the body a mangled wreak. Against an object, the touch disintegrates 1 cubic ft/2 grim levels. Against force effects, he must make a caster check (d20 + spell slot's level + Wisdom modifier) against the DC of the force effect. If he succeeds, the force effect is destroyed.
Alteration (Su): Starting at 2nd level, each time he gains an even-numbered level, he gains another Alteration ability. He may choose these abilities in any order, so long as he meets any prerequisites. Alterations only function while he is Transformed.
Divine Suffusion (Su): The divine energies that power the grim's spells suffuses itself into the grim's soul, allowing him to cast spells of the given level when not Transformed. At 5th level, the grim may cast his 1st level spells when not Transformed. At 9th level, the grim may cast his 2nd level spells when not Transformed. At 14th level, the grim may cast his 3rd level spells when not Transformed. At 19th level, the grim may cast his 4th level spells when not Transformed.
Returning Memories (Ex): A day after returning from the dead, an epiphany of memories strikes the grim, and he regains his lost power. At 8th level, if the grim dies and is brought back to life with a means that would cause him to lose a level, he instead only suffers temporary level drain as if he had been energy drained. The negative level is automatically restored after 24 hours and never becomes permanent level loss.
Imbued Body (Ex): At 9th level, the grim may choose an Alteration he has learned to become a permanent aspect of his body and soul. The Alteration continues to function even when he is not Transformed.
He gains another Imbued Body from another Alteration at 13th level and at 17th level.
Death's Contract (Ex): At 10th level, the grim is granted immunity to all effects from spells with the death descriptor, magical death effects, energy drain, and negative energy effects (such as those from inflict spells or chill touch). This ability does not remove previously gained negative levels or effect the saving throw necessary 24 hours after gaining a negative level. This ability doesn't protect against other sorts of attacks, such as hit point loss, poison, or petrification, even if those attacks might be lethal. This ability does not negate the temporary negative level gained when using the Returning Memories ability.
Grim Nova (Su): A flaring nova erupts from the grim and destroys everything around him. At 20th level, the grim may choose to burn a daily use of his Grim Transformation as a standard action to create a nova of energy that strikes all targets within range as though he had attacked each with a Rending Touch. He makes his attack rolls against each target in the area separately. The nova extends 5 feet plus 5 feet for every round his Grim Transformation would have otherwise lasted. For example, a Grim Nova created from a use of Grim Transformation that has a duration of 7 rounds has a radius of 40 feet (35 feet for the 7 rounds and 5 feet for the initial nova burst). All unattended objects within the radius are disintegrated as though struck with disintegrate (including the ground beneath the grim). If the damage dealt by the nova reduces a creature or object to 0 or fewer hit points, it is entirely disintegrated. The nova burns out quickly, lasting only until the end of his action.
If at anytime a grim becomes an intelligent undead, he loses access to his Transformation, Spells, Imbued Body and Gate Protection. Additionally, if a grim becomes an intelligent incorporeal undead, he must make a Will save against his own Ethereal Gate as if he attacked himself with Manifest Gate, regardless if he had the feat or not. He must save against this ability every 24 hours or be destroyed and sent into the afterlife.
A grim may voluntarily give up his powers to lead a normal life. Doing so requires an hour of uninterrupted meditation, after which, he is no longer a Soul Ferrier. His Ethereal Gate vanishes and his Aura of Unease dissipates. He no longer gains the benefit of any of the following class abilities, including: Grim Transformation, Discount, Gate Protection, Grim Sight, Returning Memories, Imbued Body, Death's Contract and Grim Nova.
A grim who voluntarily gave up his powers cannot level in the grim class. He can regain his class abilities (and allow him to take grim levels) once again by meditating for eight hours uninterrupted in an atonement ritual.
|24th||Transformation 7/day, Alteration, Bonus Feat|
|26th||Alteration, Imbued Body|
|28th||Transformation 8/day, Alteration, Bonus Feat|
2 + Int modifier skill points per level.
Spells: The grim’s caster level is equal to his class level. The grim’s number of spells per day does not increase after 20th level.
Grim Transformation: The epic grim gains an additional Transformation per day every four levels after 20th.
Alteration: Every even numbered epic level, an epic grim gains access to even more abilities during his Transformation, building upon abilities he has already learned, focusing his power to an even greater degree.
Rending Nullification Touch: The damage and mass effected by his Rending Nullification Touch continues to grow with each level he gains.
Bonus Feats: The epic grim gains a bonus feat (selected from the list of epic grim bonus feats) every 4 levels after 20th. These feats are in addition to the feats regularly attained every 3 levels by a character.
Epic Grim Bonus Feat List1: Armor Skin, Damage Reduction, Energy Resistance, Epic Fortitude, Epic Prowess, Epic Reflexes, Epic Skill Focus, Epic Speed, Epic Toughness, Epic Weapon Focus, Epic Will, Extended Life Span, Fast Healing, Great Charisma, Great Constitution, Great Dexterity, Great Intelligence, Great Strength, Great Wisdom, Improved Darkvision, Improved Low-Light Vision, Legendary Climber, Legendary Leaper, Legendary Wrestler, Penetrate Damage Reduction, Perfect Health, Spectral Strike2, Spell Stowaway, Superior Initiative.
- 1. A grim may select any grim feat as an epic grim bonus feat.
- 2. Epic grims can gain this feat regardless of not being able to turn or rebuke undead.
|Profession (Soul Ferrier)||4||Wis||—|
Feat: Improved Initiative.
Bonus Feats: Improved Unarmed Strike.
Gold: 45 gp.
Playing a Grim
Religion: While grims may not be a very religious bunch, they are known to pray to deities with the Death domain or other deities that include the passage of souls into the afterlife in their portfolios. With their wisdom and understanding of the passing of souls, religion rarely provides comfort. Though, belonging to a religion does not have a bearing on how much a grim may worship, revere or pay homage to a deity.
Other Classes: Grims work well with most classes, even if they do have personal differences off the battlefield. Mages increase a grim's power with buffing spells, while the grim avoids any dangerous spells that get tossed into the fray. Rangers can support grims from afar with arrow fire, or flank opponents with him. Rogues sneak in while grims have the enemy occupied. Barbarians and fighters fight alongside grims without getting in each other's way. Clerics heal and turn undead if a grim finds himself overwhelmed. Paladins and grims often compete with each other, as paladins constantly need to prove themselves, and grims simply need to get the job done. Paladins tend to be at odds with grims, who don't trust a grim's power and where it comes from. Monks get along with grims about as much as they do with mages. The monk's viewpoint to use wisdom to attain a higher form of being does come at odds with the grim, and a monk may see a grim to be an untrue path to power and be leery that the grim harnesses such supernatural abilities.
Out of combat, support classes, such as bard and rogue enjoy the company of grims, who often need to avoid conspicuity. Mages typically let grims do their own thing and just give them the space they need to do what they do. Grims gladly reciprocate the feeling. Necromancers have no place around grims. Grims see the art of animating the dead as monstrous, regardless of intention or alignment.
Combat: A grim takes point, holding off opponents as long as he can, reducing his enemy's capacity to attack, and providing protection for his teammates. He needs to get in close to be able to do his job effectively. With several communication spells, he can coordinate attacks across the battlefield easily, using his hampering spells from afar, buffing up with invisibility or blur to throw off his opponent and then going in, Transformed, deftly swinging a weapon or preparing for a damaging Rending Touch.
Advancement: Grims typically prefer to stick with their class, but some occasionally find dabbling in other martial classes, such as fighter, ranger, and barbarian satisfying. Occasionally, a grim will multiclass into rogue to gain skills and even sneak attack, making them effective against a wide variety of opponents and situations. In the case of a multiclassed grim with an animal companion (such as one granted by druid or ranger), such a character may use Handle Animal (DC 20) to teach the animal a trick to allow it to recognize the character without fear from his Aura of Unease.
Bookkeeping: Grims are complicated, and as such, there are a few extra things that the player has to have written down to keep the game flowing smoothly (about as much as a PC with a cohort, animal companion or familiar). The player may want to keep a second character sheet to record the differences in his character while Transformed. It is vital to track his remaining uses of Grim Transformation, the bonuses he gains from his class abilities through leveling (such as Discount and Gate Protection) and the damage and DC of his Rending Touch and his chosen spells. Be sure to check the example NPC below.
Choosing a Transformed Form
Detailed here are some ideas to help players choose what a grim looks like when he Transforms. A Transformed grim is no longer limited in appearance by his race, but rather the limitations of his basic form, the Alterations the grim has gained and the imagination of the player.
- The Gentle Face: The grim's appearance becomes smoothed out, calm and serene as if his face was a mask.
- The Horrid Visage: The grim's face distorts into a horrific visage. Perhaps his skull shows through or his face takes on the qualities of a fiend.
- The Outsider: The grim's whole appearance changes to resemble that of an outsider of the player's choice. Depending on his alignment, the grim may appear fiendish or celestial, or something else altogether.
- The Idealized Persona: The grim becomes more attractive, tougher, taller, prouder, better built or all around more grandiose.
- The Lord of the Dead: The grim's flesh appears to melt away leaving a glowing ghostly monster pulsing with waves of energy and ethereal power.
- The Beast: The grim's appearance becomes more animalistic or feral.
- The Machine: The grim's appearance becomes more rigid, as if made from metal, stone, crystal or other minerals.
- The Avatar: The grim's appearance becomes closer to that of a deity of the player's choice.
- The Monster: The grim's appearance changes so much, that he is no longer recognizable as the same person, changing into something that looks like its from the Outer Planes.
- The Split Personality: The grim's appearance takes on that of someone else. He may even act differently. A Transformed grim isn't limited in changes to form. His personality, mannerisms, outlook and identifying characteristics may change as well.
Heralds of Death and Ferrying Souls
The information presented here may vary in a given campaign setting. Players, be sure to ask your DM for specifics and details that differ.
The heralds of death may be any powerful trustworthy outsider working for a deity of the Death domain, though most are solars, tasked with upholding, recording and directing the souls of the dead to their final resting places. Heralds of death collect diamonds, though the reason for this is unclear. As such, diamonds have long been necessary in bribing the heralds of death, as a spell component, to return souls from their resting places and place them safely within their bodies once more.
A grim is able to use a casting of contact other plane to contact the heralds of death to learn of who is dead and alive by identifying them provided that the grim unambiguously identify the the individual in some fashion (reciting the individual’s time and place of birth or death is the most common method). Contacting the heralds of death in this manner is treated as contacting a greater deity.
Profession (soul ferrier) (Wis) (Su): At 1st level, he may begin work at his profession, capturing wandering and wayward souls and guiding them into the afterlife. He gets paid as he would for any other profession. It is his duty to perform last rites over a corpse to ensure its soul reaches the afterlife safely. Doing so takes one round. Ignoring this duty or blatantly violating it incurs the wrath of the heralds of death. Wayward souls are drawn to the gate on his body. He reaches out to touch them and grant them passage to the afterlife. The money he earns, typically 2 coins of varying value per soul, appear near or on his person with or without his knowledge. When a grim does an exemplary performance in his duties (settling the souls of powerful undead to rest or those who have gone wandering for many ages), he may be paid in diamonds instead of coins.
This skill can be used in place of Knowledge (religion) skill checks made to identify religious rites and rituals concerning proper cultural treatment of the dead as well as Knowledge (architecture) skill checks made where the dead are buried (such as graveyards, crypts and tombs).
As with any Profession, a grim may make a Profession (soul ferrier) skill check to perform his duties and make a decent living, earning about half his Profession check result in gold pieces per week of dedicated work. A grim knows how to use the tools of his trade (various ceremonial implements that vary from culture to culture, respectable dress to observe religious rites and his trusty gear at his side), how to perform the profession’s daily tasks, how to supervise helpers, and how to handle common problems.
If a grim incurs the wrath of a herald of death, he must atone for his misdeeds. Until the grim has atoned, he cannot use the Profession (soul ferrier) skill to earn payments. A DM may choose any means of atonement he sees fit to enact as punishment, depending on the severity of the grim's misdeed, but the most common atonement is having the grim guide back a certain number of souls without getting paid for his services (typically 10 × the grim's level in souls).
Grims in the World
|“||Have you ever seen a dead man walking restless through the realm who's body died a millennia ago?||”|
|—Brody, candothist grim|
Grims are a component of the natural order of mortal life, and to a lesser extent, outsider agents in control of judging who is fit to live and die. Since grims are such a varied group, they may even take to thinning out their own numbers to ensure that the flock of living souls is not culled without cause. Mainly, grims serve as guides for wayward souls trapped on the material plane. Grims send these unfortunate souls onward to their final resting place, or back into the karmic cycle to be reborn again.
Daily Life: Grims travel about, going from town to town, searching for lost souls in graveyards, old temple crypts and cellars. In the wilds, they explore long forgotten ruins and tombs. Its their job to search out souls, and wayward souls are typically those who never received a proper burial, dying horrible deaths, or just have unfinished business and refuse to leave until it is set straight. Since grims get paid for doing this service, it makes the prospect of visiting these places filled with danger a little easier to justify.
Notables: Brody, a wise-ass candothist, travels from town to town offering to exorcize ghosts and troublesome undead from local graveyards and spooky places, for a price of course. Though his methods appear unprofessional and his personal hygiene is lax, he always manages to get the job done, with a smile, regardless of how useless an un-haunted cemetery is for anyone, at least the spirits are happy.
Omnijaku Broktoon, a wild brute of a grim, has been known to hang around dangerous areas of fame, waiting for traveling adventurers to come wandering by. If they prove useful, he will aid them in their quest, removing spirits of previous adventurers as they travel. If his companions fail, then its an easy two bits of gold for him. It is said that he has an extensive collection of diamonds, which he has been known to sell to travelers seeking to bribe the gatekeepers of the dead to allow souls to return to their bodies and live again.
Organizations: Most grims go about their duty, never knowing or happening upon other grims. Though, occasionally they will somehow stumble upon others of their kind, as if guided by fate, and form temporary groups to take on greater menaces that they could not handle without the aid of other grims. High level grims may receive summons from clerics of death deities (especially if a grim worships the same diety). Churches of death deities are often in need of grims to perform special tasks for them.
NPC Reactions: Some NPCs are suspicious, if not outright wary of grims. NPCs who are used to dealing with odd adventurers are more likely to be just as cautious around them as they would anyone else. Some folk however, will welcome grims, for they serve the duty of removing undead, a valuable service for common folk who have enough to worry about in such a dangerous world.
Characters with ranks in Knowledge (religion) can research grims to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.
The DC to learn about a specific class feature of the grim is 10 + the level the ability is gained.
|5||There are those who walk among the mortals of the world who act as gateways to the world beyond.|
|10||Grims are mortals who take the duty to ferry the souls of the restless dead into the afterlife.|
|15||Grims can transform at will into terrifying forms capable of casting magical spells with a thought and fly through walls.|
|20||Wandering from town to town, grims seek out monstrous undead and destroy them so that the souls of those who were tainted may rest in eternal peace or once again join the cycle of life and death. Grims are agents who work for the forces that balance life and death in the world.|
Grims in the Game
Dealing with the afterlife varies from campaign settings, so, be sure to find out what plane is considered the afterlife for determining the effects of some of the grim's abilities. The afterlife may vary for certain creatures, or even vary among followers of a faith or alignment. The default afterlife for the core rules is alignment-based, being Hell, the Abyss, Celestia and Mechanus.
Grims often stick to the back of the party, keeping quiet during traveling and while doing business among townsfolk, but in the dark hours of night, gathered around a campfire, a grim tells stories and keeps a vigilant lookout for predators who stalk his party in the darkness beyond the fire light's reach. When in dungeons, grims might lead (though someone close at hand may simply be telling them to go certain ways) keeping a keen eye out for undead and hidden secrets. A grim can often spare a few rounds of his Transformation to help bypass deadly traps. When in combat, he leads the way, keeping undead and other dangerous monsters away from his companions who are lesser suited to deal with such beasts at close range.
While taking breaks between adventures, bartering with traders and stocking up on supplies, reclusive grims tend to keep conversation with NPCs short, lest they have their unusual powers revealed. Grim powers are strange and fearsome to commoners who don't understand how a grim controls such mysterious abilities (as is the case with most mages in general). Grims are rarely the face of the party, often to the point that NPCs may forget about them altogether.
Unfortunately, a reclusive grim is occasionally found out, much to his trouble (which is why they usually like to keep quiet about it), and NPCs fear what they don't understand. If the grim can manage to explain himself in a favorable light, he may change their minds, but most often, they will still be wary of him, especially since no horse or dog will voluntarily go near him without getting spooked.
When traveling, grims usually hitch a ride in the back of the cart or walk.
Grims aren't particularly adept at conversation, though they are wise enough to know when to stay in the back and keep quiet.
Grims who wish to keep their powers kept secret may take on the archetypal appearance of scoundrels, shamans, thugs or adventurers in order to gain acceptance.
Grims who are open about their abilities may travel from town to town advertising their powers as Exorcists. This role makes them much less feared by NPCs, except some people will still show doubt of their skill until it is proven, and often, a grim is loathe to waste precious Transformation time on demonstrations.
Adaptation: Grims, rather than being a bunch of unorganized individuals, recruited haphazardly throughout the land by forces unknown and unseen, may be part of a strong organization of clerics who worship a God of death as well as high level grims who operate in secret to ensure the extermination of undead and unnatural immortals who go against the cycle of life and death. A church of a God of Death would be just as likely to have squads of grims patrolling the lands as it would clerics, or even groups of the two out on crusade.
Alternately, grims may work with or support undead, having powerful undead as masters. Such grims would almost definitely be evil, scouring the lands, killing those who oppose them while their undead masters raise an army of undead to kill the world.
Sample Encounter: Ian Jackdaw, the wandering supernatural mercenary, has begun questing to seek out a recently discovered tomb, which he has no intentions of letting others despoil. Any would-be grave robbing adventurers would do well to steer clear of him, lest they find themselves on the receiving end of his punishment. The location of the tomb is a secret, if only to those who don't have the gold to spare to pay those with the knowledge of its location. However, upon first meeting Ian Jackdaw in town, overhearing their attempt to gather information, or even warned by locals, the PCs can learn that Ian wants no part in others attempting to plunder the tomb, defiling graves and looting the place of its ancient treasures. Ian intends to check the tomb for wayward spirits and undead and then seal it once again.
Outside of the tomb, deep in a dense forest (or other difficult to access area), away from civilization, Ian goes about his business. If the PCs happen upon him, they must convince him that they have no intention of defiling the place (a highly unlikely prospect, as they traveled all the way to the tomb) or be met with hostile reactions. If they do not heed his warnings about the dangers, he will let them enter the tomb (so long as he is not acted upon with hostility), though once inside, he will enter in behind and attack in the narrow corridors. He casts spells upon himself first before going in, and may use other spells to confuse and frighten the PCs. Once in melee, he transforms, increasing in power and danger. If he gets wounded right away, he may back off, blocking the PCs from following in order to recover.
If he is unsuccessful in his sneak attack and fear and confusion, he will retreat and try again at another opportunity, hounding the PCs until he kills them or they kill him, so long as the PCs actually defile the tomb.
|male human grim 8|
|CN Medium Humanoid (Human)|
|Init/Senses||+6/Listen +3, Spot +3|
|AC||17, touch 12, flat-footed 15|
(+5 armor (+1 chain shirt of light fortification), +2 Dexterity)
|Miss Chance||25% chance for normal damage on special attacks due to light fortification.|
|hp||39 (8 HD)|
|Fort/Ref/Will||+3/+3/+9; +2 on all saves to resist the supernatural, extraordinary, spell-like or psionic attacks of undead creatures.|
|Speed||30 ft. (6 squares) in chain shirt, base speed 30 ft.|
|Melee||+1 scimitar +9/+4 (1d6+3/18–20) or|
|Melee||sickle +8/+3 (1d6+2)|
|Ranged||light crossbow +8/+3 (1d8/19-20)|
|Special Actions||Rending Touch 4d6 damage (8d6 damage while Transformed).|
|Grim Spells Prepared||(CL 8th):|
|Abilities||Str 14, Dex 14, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 8|
|SQ||Ethereal Gate (Su), Aura of Unease (Ex), Discount (Ex), Gate Protection (Su), Ethereal Sight (Su), Returning Memories (Ex)|
|Feats||Armor Proficiency (Light), Simple Weapon Proficiency, Martial Weapon Proficiency (Scimitar), Improved Initiative, Improved Unarmed Strike, Endurance, Diehard|
|Skills||+14 Concentration (Con), +11 Knowledge(religion) (Int), +14 Listen (Wis), +14 Profession (soul ferrier) (Wis), +14 Spot (Wis)|
|Possessions||ring of sustenance, backpack, flint & steel, sunrod ×2, 64 gp|
|Ethereal Gate (Su)||An ethereal gate to the afterlife appears on Ian's body, 5 inches in diameter on the center of his chest. To those that can see this gate, they appear as rings of stone that slowly rotate, only opening to allow passing souls to their final destinations.|
|Aura of Unease (Ex)||All animals that come within 10 feet of him must make a Will save DC 13 or become shaken. The target stays shaken as long as it stays within 10 feet of him and up to 1d4 rounds afterwords. If the target succeeds at its save, it is unaffected by Ian's Aura of Unease for 24 hours.|
|Discount (Ex)||He gains a discount on being raised from the dead. The material component cost requirement drops by 40%.|
|Gate Protection (Ex)||He gains a +2 bonus on all saves to resist the supernatural, extraordinary, spell-like or psionic attacks of undead creatures.|
|Grim Sight (Su)||He gains a +5 bonus on spot check to notice things within 30 feet. He can also see invisible creatures and ethereal creatures within 30 feet.|
|Returning Memories (Ex)||A day after returning from the dead, an epiphany strikes him, and he regains his lost power. At 8th level, if he dies and is brought back to life with a means that would cause him to loose a level, he instead only suffers temporary level drain as if he had been energy drained. The negative level is automatically restored after 24 hours and never becomes permanent level loss.|
|Grim Transformation (Su)||A flow of strange ethereal waves flow into his body and weapons. His hair, skin and eyes turn pale. He begins glowing as brightly as a light spell. His type changes to Outsider. His armor's armor check penalty, maximum dexterity bonus, Arcane Spell Failure are negated. He can touch any incorporeal creature as though it were solid, dealing damage normally and ignoring an incorporeal creature's 50% miss chance. He glides roughly 4 inches over the ground without touching it. He can pass over non-solid or unstable ground without suffering penalties to movement, such as water or lava. He leaves no tracks behind. He may Transform at will as a free action on his turn. Ian Jackdaw can transform 3 times a day for 4 rounds per Transformation with the following properties: Rending Touch and Lucent Body.
|Transformation Abilities (Su)||Ian Jackdaw gains the following 4 Alterations:|
|Divine Suffusion 1st Level (Su)||Ian may cast his 1st level spells when not Transformed at will.|