Housecarl (3.5e Class)

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Housecarl[edit]

A Housecarl is, in essence, a glorified bodyguard. They are paid, charged or required to protect another party from harm. For the purposes of this Page the terms Charge and Master will be used interchangeably but it should be noted that a master may charge a Housecarl to protect someone other than himself, in which case the master and charge are separate.

Wha? Oh, that'n? He's a noble, that'n is. See that bloke next'tim wi' that fancy sword? That's 'is 'ousecarl. Scary bastard ain't 'e?
—Dave, Bartender at the Mucky Duck Inn

Making a Housecarl[edit]

A Housecarl is a strong and powerful fighter who has trained in methods of fighting which are defensive and protective rather can aggressive and specialize in stunning and disabling before killing.

Abilities: As with most fighters, strength is important to their damage dealing abilities. Unlike most fighters, however, their primary attribute is Constitution. A high constitution score allows the Housecarl to make full use of his protective abilities and Con buffs.

Races: Most races are fit to become Housecarls. Humans, Dwarves and Half-orcs make the best Housecarls. Half-elves and Gnomes are not opposed to the idea but often choose not to take up the mantle of Housecarl. Elves and Halflings are fairly rare as Housecarls as their methods of protection are often to deal with a problem before it comes to blows.

Alignment: A Housecarl can be nearly any alignment with the exception of Neutral Evil and Chaotic Evil.

Starting Gold: 4d6×10 gp.

Starting Age: Moderate (As Fighter).

Table: The Housecarl

Hit Die: d10

Level Base
Attack Bonus
Saving Throws Special
Fort Ref Will
1st +1 +2 +0 +2 Intervention, Shield Wall (1), Indomnability
2nd +1 +3 +0 +3 Mounted Combat, Improved Shield Bash, Shield Combat Expertise
3rd +2 +3 +1 +3 Vehement Tenacity, Shield Focus
4th +3 +4 +1 +4 Armour Familiarity
5th +3 +4 +1 +4 Shield Wall (2), Damage Resistance 1/-
6th +4 +5 +2 +5 Bonus Fighter Feat
7th +5 +5 +2 +5 Improved Overrun
8th +6/+1 +6 +2 +6 Improved Intervention, Damage Resistance 2/-
9th +6/+1 +6 +3 +6 Shield Wall (3)
10th +7/+2 +7 +3 +7 Bonus Fighter Feat
11th +8/+3 +7 +3 +7 Shield Familiarity, Damage Resistance 3/-
12th +9/+4 +8 +4 +8 Improved Shield Focus
13th +9/+4 +8 +4 +8 Shield Wall (4)
14th +10/+5 +9 +4 +9 Bonus Fighter Feat, Damage Resistance 4/-
15th +11/+6/+1 +9 +5 +9 Deadly Shield Bash
16th +12/+7/+2 +10 +5 +10 Bonus Fighter Feat
17th +12/+7/+2 +10 +5 +10 Shield Wall (5), Damage Resistance 5/-
18th +13/+8/+3 +11 +6 +11 Fighting Fit
19th +14/+9/+4 +11 +6 +11 Bonus Fighter Feat
20th +15/+10/+5 +12 +6 +12 Shield Combat Master, Damage Resistance 6/-

Class Skills 2+ Int modifier per level, ×4 at 1st level)
Climb (Str), Handle Animal (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge (Int) (nobility and royalty), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis).

Class Features[edit]

All of the following are class features of the Housecarl.

Bonus Fighter Feat: A Housecarl may take any feat that a fighter may take as a bonus feat. He counts as a fighter for the purposes of gaining specializations and focuses

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Housecarls are proficient with all Simple weapons and a single martial weapon type of their choice from this list (Swords, Spears or Axes). They are also proficient with all forms of Armour and Shields (Including Tower Shields)

Indomnability: This feat is exclusive to Housecarls. When rolling for new HP, a Housecarl with Indomnability adds 1.5× (Rounding up) his constitution bonus to his HP. This feat is unavailable to characters who Multi-class into Housecarl. It is only available if a character begun as a Housecarl. Should the Housecarl Multi-class, any HP he rolls when not leveling up his Housecarl class may not add the Bonus Constitution.

Intervention: Provided he is currently wielding a shield that he has not taken an action already, a Housecarl may move to the adjacent to an ally within his walking movement radius and choose to take the attack on himself taking full damage. Should he wish to intervene in an attack against an ally he must roll to hit the attackers weapon with his shield. He substitutes his Housecarl level as attack bonus for this purpose. An enemy weapons AC is calculated by taking the Base AC of 10 + Enemy Attack Bonus + 2 (For intercepting a swing). He can make as many interceptions as he wishes but for each one after the first, he takes cumulative a -4 on roll to hit the attackers weapon.

Shield Wall: At any point during a fight, as a Move Action and sacrificing their Shield Bash for the first round, the Housecarl can enter a stance which causes him to gain a bonus to his shield AC at the cost of taking a minus to his attack bonus specified on the level of feat he is using. Any non-offensive action (such as using a potion or moving) with the exception of a 5-foot step taken during this stance causes it to break. To perform this action he must be wielding a shield that is not a buckler and select a 90 degree direction his back is facing which he will lose his Shield AC. At each level, as indicated by the number in brackets after the feat name, this bonus increases by +1.

(1): +1 Shield AC / -2 to attacks

(2): +2 Shield AC / -2 to attacks

(3): +3 Shield AC / -4 to attacks

(4): +4 Shield AC / -4 to attacks

(5): +5 Shield AC / -6 to attacks

Shield Combat Expert: At 2'nd level, the Housecarl has become much better at performing offensive actions with a shield. He gains the ability to Shield Bash with a Tower Shield, dealing 1d10 plus Strength bonus as damage.

Vehement Tenacity: Starting 3'rd level, any enemy who moves through squares that are threatened by the Housecarl treats them as difficult terrain.

Shield Focus: The Housecarl gains a +1 to his Shield AC permanently. If Shield Wall is used, this bonus is applied after the bonus AC from Shield Wall is applied.

Armour Familiarity: At 4'th level, a Housecarl has become familiar enough with his preferred type of armour to negate some of the negative effects of wearing it. All armour check penalties in the chosen armour type are reduced by 2 and the armour's effective weight is cut by one third. On top of this, his movement speed in his selected armour (Provided it is Medium or Heavy) increases by 5 ft, meaning that the penalty to movement in Med or Hvy armour is only -5ft. and not -10ft. The Housecarl must have worn the armour before. He does not have to use this feat immediately and can wait until he acquires his preferred type of armour should he not already have it.

Improved Intervention: With Improved Intervention, the Housecarl may use an Overrun move up to his Hustle movement distance to a square adjacent to an ally to take the attack for them, in addition, the first intervention in a round is an automatic intervention. He substitutes his Housecarl level as attack bonus for the purposes of this attack. An enemy weapons AC is calculated by taking the Base AC of 10 + Enemy Attack Bonus + Enemy Dex Bonus + Size Modifier of weapon + 2 (For intercepting a swing). He can make as many interceptions as he wishes but for each one after the first, he takes cumulative a -2 on roll to hit the attackers weapon.

Shield Familiarity: As with Armour familiarity, the Housecarl has become familiar enough with his preferred type of shield to negate some of the negative effects of wearing it. All armour check penalties of the chosen shield are reduced by 2 (Or negated completely if that is the case). The Housecarl must have used the shield before. He may save this feat until he acquires his preferred type of shield should he not already have it.

Improved Shield Focus: The Housecarl gains another +1 to his Shield AC for a total of +2. If Shield Wall is used, this bonus is applied after the bonus AC from Shield Wall is applied.

Deadly Shield Bash: The Housecarl adds twice his strength bonus to his damage when shield bashing.

Fighting Fit: The Housecarl understands the need to keep himself fighting fit every day. At the end of each day, provided he has not been taken damage the previous day, he gains double his Constitution bonus in in HP.

Shield Combat Master: The Housecarl may make two shield Bash attacks per round, one of which can be used to initiate Shield Wall.

Epic Housecarl[edit]

An epic Housecarl is a walking powerhouse of armour and shield. They are nigh untouchable in combat and learn how to use their shield as effectively, if not more effectively, as a weapon.

Table: The Epic Housecarl

Hit Die: d10

Level Special
21st Shield Wall (6)
22nd Turtle Fighter, Greater Shield Bonus
23rd Shield Wall (7), Damage Reduction 7/-
24th Greater Intervention
25th Armour Bonus
26th Shield Wall (8), Damage Reduction 8/-
27th Master Shield Bonus
28th Master Intervention
29th Shield Wall (9), Damage Reduction 9/-
30th Shield Wall (10), Damage Reduction 10/-

2 + Int modifier skill points per level.

Shield Wall: At any point during a fight, as a Move Action and sacrificing their Shield Bash for the first round, the Housecarl can enter a stance which causes him to gain a bonus to his shield AC at the cost of taking a minus to his attack bonus specified on the level of feat he is using. Any non-offensive action (such as using a potion or moving) with the exception of a 5-foot step taken during this stance causes it to break. To perform this action he must be wielding a shield that is not a buckler and select a 90 degree direction his back is facing which he will lose his Shield AC. At Epic levels the Shield Wall costs less minus to attack and gives a greater bonus

(6): +6 Shield AC / -6 to attacks

(7): +7 Shield AC / -5 to attacks

(8): +8 Shield AC / -4 to attacks

(9): +9 Shield AC / -3 to attacks

(10): +10 Shield AC / -2 to attacks

Turtle Fighter: The Housecarl has learned to fight from behind a shield. The housecarl can wield and use a pole-arm in one hand. Additionally, while using Shield Wall; the Housecarl can attack enemies adjacent to them.

Greater Shield Focus: The Housecarl gains an additional +1 to his Shield AC to a total of +3. If Shield Wall is used, this bonus is applied after the bonus AC from Shield Wall is applied.

Greater Intervention: With Greater Intervention, the Housecarl may use an Overrun move up to his Hustle movement distance to a square adjacent to an ally to take the attack for them, in addition, the first intervention in a round is an automatic intervention. He substitutes his Housecarl level as attack bonus for the purposes of this attack. An enemy weapons AC is calculated by taking the Base AC of 10 + Enemy Attack Bonus + Enemy Dex Bonus + Size Modifier of weapon + 2 (For intercepting a swing). He can make as many interceptions as he wishes and he no longer takes a cumulative minus for each one after the first. In addition, the housecarl now only takes half damage from an intercepted attack.

Armour Bonus: After many battles, the Housecarl has perfected the art of getting his armour between a sword and his skin. He gains additional AC and an extraordinary ability based on what type of armour he is wearing.

Light: +1 Bonus AC, 10 Energy Resistance (To all energy types).

Medium: +2 Bonus AC, 10% critical negation chance.

Heavy: +4 Bonus AC, Immune to Trip, Overrun and Bull Rush attacks.

Master Shield Bonus: The Housecarl gains another +1 to his Shield AC to a total of +4. If Shield Wall is used, this bonus is applied after the bonus AC from Shield Wall is applied.

Master Intervention: With Master Intervention, the Housecarl may use an Overrun move up to his Hustle movement distance to a square adjacent to an ally to take the attack for them, in addition, the first intervention in a round is an automatic intervention He no longer provokes attacks of opportunity for moving past enemies with this ability. To intercept an attack he rolls an attack roll against the attackers weapon. He substitutes his Housecarl level as attack bonus for the purposes of this attack. An enemy weapons AC is calculated by taking the Base AC of 10 + Enemy Attack Bonus + Enemy Dex Bonus + Size Modifier of weapon. He can make as many interceptions as he wishes and he no longer takes a cumulative minus for each one after the first. Furthermore, the Housecarl no longer takes damage from the intercepted attack.


Ex-Housecarls[edit]

There are many ways in which a Housecarl can be released from his duties. Each way has separate consequences:

Master releases Housecarl: The reasons for being dismissed by their master are many and varied. They can be for political reasons or that the charge no longer feels as though he needs a Housecarl. What shame the Housecarl feels is entirely up to them.

Master dies of natural causes: Should a Housecarl's master die of old age or some other natural illness, the Housecarl is released from their charge and what they do then is up to them.

Master dies in battle: If a Housecarl is specifically ordered not to intervene in a battle, a duel for example, then he has been effectively been released from his charge just as if his master had died of old age. Should his master die because the Housecarl failed to protect them there follows a period of shame in which a Housecarl's Morale is lowered. (To represent this, they take a -3 to all saves, Skill checks, AC and Attack Bonuses.) This period of time will last for as little as a month to as long as the rest of the Housecarl's life. Some Housecarls even ritualistically scar their Shield arms so that the pain reminds them of their failure.

Human Housecarl Starting Package[edit]

Weapons: Longsword (1d8+Srt Bonus).

Skill Selection: Pick a number of skills equal to 2 + Int modifier.

Feat: Power Attack.

Gear: Scale Mail, Longsword, Heavy Wooden Shield, Backpack, Waterskin, One day's trail rations, Bedroll, Sack, Flint and Steel.

Gold: 4d6×10.

Playing a Housecarl[edit]

Religion: Housecarl's can be follow any religion, including no region at all.

Other Classes: This class is best used in combination with Wizards and Sorcerers as they are often unable to protect themselves.

Combat: The roll of a Housecarl is to defend a charge.

Aye, the Gods protect, the King protects... But nothing protects quite like a thick sheet of steel.
—Tarig, Human Housecarl

Housecarl Lore[edit]

Characters with ranks in Knowledge Nobility or Knowledge History can research Housecarls to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.

<-the appropriate skills->
DC Result
10 Housecarls are primarily focused on stalwart protection.
20 Housecarls are often given a charge by the head of a noble family. They are chosen for their determination and the head is safe in the knowledge that the Housecarl would die before renouncing their charge.
25 A Housecarl, on top of their determination, they're known for their discretion. They are often chosen because they can keep the secrets of their masters and charges.
30 A housecarl's bond with their charge has known to be so strong that it crosses the Ethereal Plane, once preventing even the gods from separating them from their charge.



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