Ringer (3.5e Prestige Class)
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|“||So he says to me, "Hey Jeb, tell this rat-scraper about that time I shot myself in the foot with that crossbow of your'n, will ya?"||”|
|—Unknown bar patron|
Ringers exist just about everywhere in some form or another. Usually, it's not an occupation so much as an opportunity. A merchant, sure of his skill with the quarterstaff, challenges a local yokel to a fight. He wins. The next peasant, who appears to be having trouble figuring out where his thumbs go, kicks the ever-loving snot out of him.
Now, that second peasant might just be a yokel with a large amount of luck and a little natural talent. The true Ringer does the same thing, but succeeds every time--or near enough that friends expect it every time. He/she has discovered that there are uses for appearing less skilled than one actually is.
Becoming a Ringer
Ringers typically have moderate skill in combat. They have learned how to use at least one weapon better than most, but don't want everyone in creation knowing it. They tend to keep a low profile, at least on first glance; their time to shine comes when they convince people they aren't worth that second look.
|Alignment:||Any except Lawful Good. (Very rarely will a Ringer be any Lawful alignment, but LN/LE are possible.)|
|Base Attack Bonus:||+3.|
|Skills:||Bluff 5 ranks]|
|Feats:||Weapon Focus in any weapon.|
|Special:||Must have convinced someone that his/her skill with the above weapon (or any weapon for which Weapon Focus has been acquired) is lower than it is in order to goad that someone into a contest using that weapon.|
|2nd||+2||+0||+3||+3||Fat Fingers; Taking a Dive|
|3rd||+3||+1||+3||+3||Deadlier Than Advertised; Let Me Show You How To Use That|
Ringers appear incompetent with their chosen weapon(s) to deceive and confuse their enemies.
All bluff attempts mentioned in Ringer abilities must involve a weapon the Ringer has Weapon Focus in.
Forced Fumbling: I really need a better name for this. At 1st level, a Ringer can handle his/her chosen weapon in such a way that it seems unfamiliar. Gain +2 per Ringer level to any Bluff checks involving this weapon out of combat, and +1 per Ringer level in combat.
Fat Fingers: At 2nd level, as a move action, a Ringer can drop any weapon (s)he has Weapon Focus in, using the Bluff skill to cause one of the following effects in observers. Out-of-combat: observers assume the Ringer is not proficient with the weapon. Out-of-combat: observers laugh, thinking the Ringer is putting on a show. A successful Sense Motive negates these effects as normal; if the Sense Motive succeeds by +10 or more, an observer will become suspicious. In-combat: enemies will be unsure what the Ringer is planning, and hesitate to take offensive action against the Ringer or any ally within 10 feet for 1 round.
Taking a Dive: At 2nd level, a Ringer can make a tumble check to grab any weapon (s)he is proficient with if it is unsecured (e.g. on the ground or a weapon rack) and within 10 feet. The attempt to secure the weapon automatically succeeds. If the tumble check succeeds, this is a move action that provokes no attacks of opportunity, and the Ringer can choose to end the action standing or kneeling. If the tumble check fails, attacks of opportunity may be provoked, and the Ringer is prone and can take no further action that round (except for a free action that doesn't involve movement, like shouting).
Deadlier Than Advertised: At 3rd level, a Ringer deals +1d6 extra damage against any enemy successfully bluffed during combat. This is not a sneak attack bonus, so it affects all enemies that can be bluffed, and it stacks with sneak attack damage. This damage applies on the next attack made against the creature, assuming it is made during the same round the enemy was bluffed or the round after. If an enemy is already under the effects of a Ringer's bluff when combat begins, the enemy gains a -4 penalty to initative and the Ringer gains the same +1d6 bonus damage to all attacks made against that enemy for the first three rounds of combat.
Let Me Show You How To Use That: At 3rd level, an unarmed Ringer may attempt a grapple attack to wrest a weapon of any type (s)he is proficient in from an enemy within 10 feet. Use standard rules for initating a grapple with the following changes. Roll the touch attack first. If it succeeds by +5 or more, no attack of opportunity occurs. If the opposed grapple check fails, immediately roll a grapple check to wrest the weapon away. If this attempt succeeds, the Ringer moves back to his/her original position holding the target weapon, and no attacks of opportunity are provoked. If the second grapple check fails, the Ringer and the target are left grappling specifically over the weapon. If the Ringer lets go of the weapon, an attack of opportunity is immediately provoked and (s)he must move out of the target's square. This ability may also be used to initiate combat, in which case the touch attack automatically succeeds by the required +5, and initiative is rolled after the grapple is resolved. If the Ringer has Weapon Focus in the specified weapon, (s)he gains a +3 competence bonus to all rolls while using this ability.
I've never heard of an Ex-Ringer. I don't suppose anyone else has, either. But if a Ringer were to suffer a crisis of conscience and become highly Lawful, I don't think continued deception would be a particularly good idea, now would it?
If a Ringer becomes highly Lawful, no penalty is incurred. However, any use of a highly Lawful Ringer's special abilities will cause a shift toward Chaos. And repeated alignment shifts can have consequences even for those who try to avoid entanglement with the arcane and the divine...
(To clarify: This should only have an effect if a Ringer becomes extremely Lawful AFTER picking up the Ringer class.)
Playing a Ringer
Combat: The Ringer is typically a physical combatant with a few extra tactical options.
Advancement: While Ringers can advance as any class, their abilities are best used by a combat-capable character.
Resources: A Ringer might get some goodwill in a tavern, arena, or the like by taking a boaster down a notch, but there's hardly a Ringer Guild. Much more likely is that someone with a sore tooth will tell stories (true or otherwise) to the local authorities.
NPC Ringers may have unofficial backing from specific wealthy or powerful citizens, particularly if they're involved in a gambling ring.
Characters with ranks in Knowledge: Local can research Ringers to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.
|11||Some people are more skilled than they pretend.|
|16||People called "Ringers" often trounce others in contests of martial prowess.|
|21||The best Ringers can throw even observant opponents off-balance. They're much more dangerous than they appear. Watch out if you ever have the misfortune to fight one. Specific venue in which a Ringer is known to operate.|
|26||A Ringer can take your sword, stab you with it, and leave you wondering how you managed to slide it into your own gut. Don't mess with a Ringer without an exit plan. Name/identity of one or more local Ringers.|