Improvisor (3.5e Prestige Class)

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Author's Note: This is a 'flavor' prestige class that I came up with. It's not something to take very seriously.

They are the mad scientists and the gnome tinkerers. They are the adventurers who are as adept with a beer mug as they are with a sword and the heroes who out-think as well as outfight their foes. These are people who amaze the people around them by fixing items, creating wondrous things, escaping pursuit or merely escaping a barroom brawl by using items around them in unusual ways. They are improvisors.

Any class can become an improvisor, but the bard, the rogue and the ranger have a slight advantage due to their copious skill points. Monks, rogues, and rangers excel, given sufficient Intelligence scores, since those classes generally focus on Dexterity based skills, although monks would have to give up the lawful alignment. Paladins make the worst improvisors, given that paladins must be lawful good, whereas an improvisor might not be above stealing the handle of a peasant;s well if it means cobbling together an improvised spear trap. Paladins can become improvisors if they choose, but they lose their special abilities if they choose to take things from other people, just as monks do.

Making an Improvisor[edit]


To become an improvisor, a character must fulfill all of the following criteria.

Table: The Improvisor
Hit Die: d6

Level Base
Attack Bonus
1st +0 +0 +2 +0 Trapmaking
2nd +1 +0 +3 +0 Fabricate 1/day
3rd +1 +1 +3 +1 Improvised Weapon -3, Lockpick
4th +2 +1 +4 +1 Mechanic
5th +2 +1 +4 +1 Improved Trapmaking, Fabricate 2/day
6th +3 +2 +5 +2 Improved Lockpick
7th +3 +2 +5 +2 Improvised Weapon -2
8th +4 +2 +6 +2 Improved Mechanic, Fabricate 3/day
9th +4 +3 +6 +3 Master Lockpick
10th +5 +3 +7 +3 Master Trapmaker
Class Skills (6 + Int modifier per level)
Appraise, Bluff, Craft (any), Diplomacy, Disable Device, Forgery, Knowledge (architecture & engineering), Knowledge (local), Open Lock, Search, Sleight of Hand, Spot, Survival, Use Magic Device, Use Rope

Class Features[edit]

As they increase in level, improvisors gain abilities in using objects that are close at hand to accomplish tasks.

All the following are class features of the improvisor.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency[edit]

The improvisor gains no proficiency with any weapons or armor, except improvised weapons.

Trapmaking (Ex)[edit]

Using rope, pieces of wood and whatever other items are handy, the improvisor can create a simple improvised trap (no higher than CR 4). The CR of this trap is one-half the CR of the regular trap (rounded up). For example, an improvised burning hands trap (CR 3) using a trip wire, a torch and a bottle of alcohol, would be a CR 2 trap (3/2 = 1.5, rounded up to 2). At 5th level, the improvisor can create traps up to CR 5. At 10th level, CR 9 traps can be improvised and the CR for all improvised traps is 1/2 normal (rounded up) +1. The Search and Disable Device DC, as well as the saving throw for the trap (if necessary), and the attack bonus for an improvised trap are equal to the DC for the original trap -2.

Fabricate (Sp)[edit]

At 2nd level, the improvisor gains the use of the fabricate spell as a spell-like ability once per day. This increases to 2 times per day at 5th level and 3 times per day at 8th level.

Improvised Weapons (Ex)[edit]

At 3rd level, an improvisor has gained insight in the use of mundane objects for tasks other than those they were designed for. Because of this, the improvisor takes only a -3 penalty to use an improvised weapon. This penalty drops to -2 at 7th level.

Lockpick (Ex)[edit]

Also at 3rd level, the improvisor gains the ability to use improvised tools to pick locks with only a -1 penalty. At 6th level, the penalty for improvised tools drops to 0. Furthermore, the improvisor adds 1/2 of his Intelligence bonus to all Open Lock checks. Upon reaching 9th level, the improvisor adds his full Intelligence bonus to the roll to all Open Lock checks.

Mechanic (Ex)[edit]

Beginning at 4th level, the improvisor gains the ability to repair simple devices using unsuitable tools, such as a wagon axle with a quarterstaff. These makeshift repairs do not hold up as long as the original, having only 1/2 the lifespan of the original creation. At 8th level, more complex devices can be repaired (DM's discretion), as well as increasing the time of usefulness of the item to 3/4 of the original.

Campaign Information[edit]

Playing an Improvisor[edit]

An improvisor can have many faces, from the inventor trying to make a better butter churn to the pickpocket using his street born skills and smarts to stay one step ahead of the law. The improvisor uses her high Intelligence score in bursts of creativity. The greater the pressure, the better the improvisor thinks.

Improvisors generally carry a bag or wear a vest with many pockets, holding various odds and ends such as screws, nails, a small hammer, glue, string, wire and any other little things they might use to put something together.

Every improvisor is referred to with the nickname 'Angus.' This is not a derogatory term in any way it's just how normal folks refer to them. Similar to 'Butcher Talan' or 'Brucian the Smith.' 'Daalcor the Angus' is the local improvisor of note. The name comes down through a murky history, so murky in fact, that improvisors don't even know why they are called that, they just are. For some improvisors, it is a badge of honor to achieve the name Angus.

Improvisors work well alone or with groups, depending on the individual improvisor. A street thug good at escaping the king's guards may not necessarily want to team up with a group of high profile adventurers.


The improvisor can be strong in combat or prefer to stay on the sidelines, based on how the improvisor is played and from previous class levels. An improvisor who has a background in a martial class is more likely to be combat oriented. A rogue with a high Intelligence score could be working as a bouncer in a pub. He would be in the forefront, using chairs and table legs -- and maybe even tables -- as weapons. A mage with high enough Dexterity would cast his spells into combat but look for an escape route should things go against the party.


Improvisors never pass on their abilities to others because the skills are almost impossible to teach. Improvisors make astounding leaps of judgment and intuition that you cannot share with another person. When an improvisor tries to answer the question 'How did you do that?' they usually get a befuddled look on their face when they try to give a coherent answer. Any earnings that an improvisor gets usually go toward tools and supplies of higher quality than what they normally carry.


Anything, and everything, is a resource to an improvisor. The improvisor rule of thumb is: 'If I can use it and it's not nailed down, I take it. And if it can be pried loose, it isn't nailed down.' Most improvisors learn quickly not to take items from their fellow party members without asking. Improvisors never steal from other people with profit in mind. They only take what they need in order to repair something or to prolong their freedom.

Improvisors in the World[edit]

An improvisor can be found anywhere that things need fixed or new items are made. Some improvisors are capable of creating minor magic items if they have sufficient wizard/sorcerer levels or are on good terms with such people.


Improvisors almost never form any sort of organization, as there are no secrets or techniques to be taught or handed down. The exception to this is a group of rogue/improvisors who might form a gang for somewhere to lie low from the law.

NPC Reaction[edit]

Improvisors usually don't inspire much reaction until they spring into action and have improvised a device to escape a situation. The reaction depends on who is reacting and which side of the device he was on. An improvisor who makes a name for herself usually works for the government trying to create a better way of life for the subjects. Or they could be Robin Hood-type rogues who also try to make things better, but from the other side of the law. Occasionally, an improvisor will try something spectacular that goes very, very wrong. In those cases, the infamy of the attempt can stay with the improvisor for some time. Improvisors respond to approaching characters according to alignment, race or possibly class.

Improvisor Lore[edit]

Characters may attempt a Knowledge (local) check to research improvisors. When a character makes a Knowledge (local) skill check, read or paraphrase the information below:

  • DC 10: Improvisors use common items in unusual ways.
  • DC 15: Improvisors often take things from other people in order to complete their piece-meal inventions, but they don’t consider it stealing.
  • DC 20: Using the fabricate ability, improvisors can almost always create what they need if they can't find it.
  • DC 30: Characters who achieve this level of success can learn important information about specific improvisors, such as who they work for, where they live and what kind of abilities (level-wise) the improvisor has.

Characters can also attempt a Knowledge (architecture and engineering) check to recognize the work of an improvisor.

Improvisors in the Game[edit]

Improvisors can be inventors and scientists or scoundrels and cads. Because of this versatility, you can easily add the improvisor to your ongoing campaign.

This prestige class appeals to players who enjoy being creative and thinking their way out of a situation before drawing swords and rolling initiative.

An improvisor can be a lawman that uses weird gizmos and gadgets to solve a crime.

An improvisor can be a burglar who doesn’t worry about carrying his illicit tools.

Either way, it will be entertaining for you and your party to watch as you put together a contraption to get out of trouble.


Improvisors are a fairly generic class and should fit into any campaign with little or no customization.


It is up to you on how to present the improvisor. She can be portrayed as a hooligan who uses her abilities to escape judgment or she can be a scientist working on a new machine to help in the wheat fields. There is even the possibility of an improvisor using his skills to aid the local law enforcement in order to catch another improvisor.

Example NPC[edit]

EL 8[edit]

Mos Redendo is a local pickpocket and low-level (standing-wise) member of the local thieves guild. He has just cut the purse strings of a visiting dignitary and dashes around a corner into an alley. As he vaults the high fence as the end, soldiers in pursuit, he looks around and finds himself in someone's back yard. He quickly scavenges a clothesline to set up an improvised tripping chain trap. With the extra rope, he also turns the tripping chain into an improvised fusillade of darts trap by tying the loose end to a bucket of rocks and debris and setting it on the roof of the house. After losing Redendo, the local constable comes to the characters asking for help in catching the burglar...for a reward, of course.

Mos Redendo

CR 8

Male human rogue 5/improvisor 3
CN Medium humanoid (human)
Init/Senses +3/Listen +5, Spot +5
Languages Common, Dwarf, Gnome
AC 18, touch 15, flat-footed 18; uncanny dodge
(+3 Dex, +2 deflection, +3 armor)
hp 35 (8 HD)
Resist evasion
Fort/Ref/Will +3/+10/+1
Speed 30 ft. (6 squares); Run
Melee short sword +4 (1d6/19–20) or
Melee dagger +4 (1d4/19–20)
Ranged light crossbow +7 (1d8/19–20) or
Ranged dagger +7 (1d4/19–20)
Base Atk/Grp +4/+4
Atk Options sneak attack +3d6
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 3rd):
Abilities Str 10, Dex 17, Con 12, Int 16, Wis 8, Cha 10
SQ improvised weapon, trapfinding, trap sense +1, lockpick, trapmaking
Feats Deft Hands, Nimble Fingers, RunB, Scrounging
Skills Appraise +7 (+9 with carpentry crafted objects), Balance +7, Bluff +4, Climb +4, Craft (carpentry) +11, Decipher Script +3, Diplomacy +4, Disable Device +10, Disguise +2, Escape Artist +7, Forgery +9, Gather Information +3, Hide +10, Intimidate +0, Jump +5 (+9 with running start), Knowledge (architecture and engineering) +6, Knowledge (local) +8, Listen +5, Move Silently +10, Open Lock +9, Search +6, Sense Motive +3, Sleight of Hand +7, Spot +5, Survival +3, Swim +1, Tumble +3, Use Magic Device +3, Use Rope +7 (+9 binding a creature)
Possessions ring of protection +2, studded leather armor, short sword, dagger, light crossbow, 2 cases of 10 bolts, backpack, 60 gp, 60 gp worth of mundane gear and jewelry
Improvised Weapon (Ex) Mos only suffers a −3 to attack with improvised weapons
Lockpick (Ex) Mos suffers only a −1 penalty to Open Lock checks when using improvised tools. Additionally, he adds 1/2 of his Intelligence bonus to all Open Lock checks.
Trapmaking (Ex) Using rope, pieces of wood, and whatever other items are handy, Mos can create a simple improvised trap with a CR of up to 4. The DC of this trap is one-half the DC of the regular trap (rounded up).

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