This column aims to provide players with tips on creating effective and interesting characters of various types. Whether you're a beginning player creating your very first character or an experienced gamer looking to put some punch into an old standby, this column is for you.
The first Suel arcanamach (Complete Arcane 63) were skilled assassins and guards in the Suel Imperium, an ancient empire of unimaginable might. While the empire is now long dead -- destroyed by the Rain of Colorless Fire -- the teachings of the Suel arcanamach live on.
Suel Arcanamach have many useful abilities. Here are a few things to consider when building such a character.
- Average Hit Dice: Suel arcanamachs use eight-sided hit dice, making them more robust than rogues and wizards but less hardy than fighters.
- Average Base Attack Bonus: A Suel arcanamach's base attack bonus progresses as that of a cleric.
- Good Reflex Saves: A Suel arcanamanch has a good Reflex saving throw (PHB 22).
- Good Will Save: A Suel arcanamanch has a good Will saving throw (PHB 22).
- Spellcasting Progression: With every level of Suel arcanamach attained, a character gains the ability to cast a small number of sorcerer/wizard spells from the abjuration, divination, illusion, and transmutation schools.
- Special Abilities: Along with his spellcasting abilities, a Suel arcanamach gains a number of special abilities.
- Ignore Arcane Spell Failure: At 1st level, a Suel arcanamach begins to learn how to offset the arcane spell failure chance of armor. This ability increases by 5% every three levels (10% at 4th level, 15% at 7th level, and 20% at 10th level).
- Tenacious Spells: It is particularly hard to dispel a Suel arcanamach's class spells. Casters trying to negate them add 6 to the DC required to dispel such spells.
- Dispelling Strike: At 2nd level, a Suel arcanamach can use dispelling strike once per day. If he hits an opponent with a melee attack, he can target that individual with a targeted greater dispel magic. (His dispel check is equal to 1d20+class level+6). At 6th level, he can use this ability twice a day, and at 10th level, he can use it three times a day.
- Extended Spellstrength: Beginning at 3rd level, a Suel arcanamach learns to double the duration of spells he casts upon himself as if he had applied the Extend Spell feat to the spell (but this does not increase the spell's effective level or casting time).
- Skill Points: Suel arcanamach gain four skill points a level to spend on a wide range of class skills.
The Suel arcanamach's advantages come at a price. Here are a few things to consider when thinking about such a character:
- Poor Fortitude Saves: A Suel arcanamach has a poor Fortitude saving throw (PHB 22).
- Restricted Qualification: Qualifying to become a Suel arcanamach is difficult. A prospective member needs a base attack bonus of +6, four ranks in Concentration, Jump, and Tumble, five ranks in Spellcraft, the Combat Casting and Iron Will feats, proficiency with four martial or exotic weapons, and must speak Ancient Suloise. Additionally, the character must have read the Grimoire Arcanamacha or studied with a willing instructor who has done so.
Suel Arcanamach and Greyhawk
In the World of Greyhawk, the overwhelming majority of Suel arcanamach serve the Scarlet Brotherhood, a secretive, racist organization dedicated to rekindling the glories of the Suel Imperium and to raising the Suel people above all others.
Some Suel arcanamanch, however, do not serve this evil group, having learned their skills from copies of the Grimoire Arcanamacha recovered from the few accessible ruins in the easternmost portions of the Sea of Dust. Such individuals are mercilessly hunted down by the Scarlet Brotherhood, which views them as a taint upon the pure and virtuous bloodline of the Suel.
Perhaps the most infamous Suel arcanamach of all is Tyrum (detailed below), a member of the Scarlet Brotherhood. A devoted follower of The Blazing Killer (Pyremius, NE lesser Suel god of Fire, Poison, and Murder) and once the Foster Uncle of Faith, he is credited with (among many other things) the assassination of Graf Reydrich of Ahlissa in 586 CY.
Playing a Suel Arcanamach
Equally skilled with blade and spell, Suel arcanamachs are normally spies, assassins, or elite guards. Many (like the sample Suel arcanamach detailed below) are mage-slayers well able to defeat a wizard's arcane defenses. Many of their abilities -- tenacious spells and dispelling strike, in particular -- make them well suited to taking down spellcasters.
Because of the prerequisites for the prestige class, many Suel arcanamanchs are multiclassed. Most have levels of ranger or fighter complemented by levels of rogue or a spellcasting class such as cleric or wizard.
Mobility and intelligence are central to a Suel arcanamach's ability to quickly disable and kill his foes. Balance, Climb, Jump, and Tumble allow him to move about the battlefield, while Spellcraft lets a Suel arcanamach know exactly what spell his opponent is casting. (If possible, a Suel Arcanamach should take five ranks in Knowledge [arcane] to gain the synergy bonus on Spellcraft).
Suel arcanamachs should focus on feats that increase their abilities to defeat a spellcaster. Great Fortitude, Iron will, and Lightning Reflexes all help a character resist enemy spellcasting, while Improved Initiative improves the chances of a Suel Arcanamach striking before his opponent. Mage Slayer and Pierce Magical Protection (both from Complete Arcane) provide potent attack options against spellcasters but reduce a Suel arcanamanch's caster level. Characters taking these feats should also select Practiced Spellcaster to offset this as much as possible. Additionally, Battlecaster Defense and Battlecaster Offense (both Complete Mage) provide useful offensive and defensive tactical options when mixing melee and spellcasting.
To a certain extent, a Suel arcanamach's exact class mix defines his role within an adventuring party. Such characters should be crystal clear, however, on their role. Because they probably had to multiclass to qualify for the prestige class, they are unlikely to be the best fighter, scout, or spellcaster in the group. Rather, they are generalists with a wide range of skills. One thing they are not normally good at, however, is ranged combat. Dispelling strike, one of a Suel arcanamach's main offensive abilities against spellcasters, only works with melee attacks.
In battle, Suel arcanamachs need to engage their primary foe -- spellcasters -- as quickly as possible. They should use their skills such as Jump and Tumble to get over or around the foe's bodyguards or companions, leaving the arcanamach's companions to deal with them. Alternatively, particularly aggressive or strong Suel arcanamachs could use Improved Overrun to reach their target.
Equipment and Magic Items
When equipping themselves, a Suel arcanamach should purchase items that boost saving throws (they are undoubtedly going to have to resist many spells during their careers) and touch armor class (to avoid ray and touch spells). Thus, even more so than other characters, Suel arcanamachs want to invest in rings of protection and cloaks of resistance as well as gloves of dexterity. Potions of blur and cat's grace or a cloak of displacement (at higher level) are good purchases. Potions of lesser restoration are also useful to help shake off the effects of rays and such that do strike home.
Finally, if a Suel arcanamach is going after a specific wizard, he should take time to learn about his target's spellcasting proclivities. If he's going to be facing an evoker, he should buy lots of healing potions, while if he is going to fight a necromancer, more potions of lesser restoration would be in order. Those fighting a conjurer should look to equip their companions with scrolls of fireball or other area-affect spells so that the enemy's many summoned minions can be quickly slain.
Sample Suel Arcanamach: Tyrum
This charismatic, lean, and fair-skinned man is completely bald. His mien is cruel, and his deep blue eyes regard you emotionlessly. He wears several earrings in each ear and carries a wickedly sharp rapier.
Tyrum, CR 19
Male human cleric 3/rogue 6/Suel arcanamach* 10
(*Complete Arcane, pg. 63)
NE Medium humanoid (human)
Init +11; Senses Listen +15, Spot +15
Languages Ancient Suloise, Common
AC 27, touch 19, flat-footed 27; +2 against traps, uncanny dodge
(+7 Dex, +8 armor, +2 deflection)
hp 109 (19 HD)
Fort +13, Ref +25 (+27 against traps), Will +20
Speed 30 ft. (6 squares)
Melee +3 keen rapier +23/+18/+13 (1d6+3/15-20)
Base Atk +13; Grp +13
Atk Options Mage Slayer, dispelling strike 3/day, smite (+4 attack, +3 damage), sneak attack +3d6
Special Actions extended spellstrength, rebuke undead 5/day (+4, 2d6+5, 3rd), tenacious spells
Cleric Spells Prepared (CL 3rd, evil 4th; +20 ranged touch, +20 melee touch)
2nd -- bull's strength, shatter(D)
1st -- cure light wounds x2, obscuring mist, protection from good(D)
0 -- detect magic, detect poison, light, read magic
(D) Domain Spell. Deity: Pyremius. Domains: Destruction, Evil
Suel Arcanamach Spells Known (CL 10th)
5th (2/day) -- passwall, telekinesis
4th (3/day) -- greater invisibility, polymorph, stoneskin
3rd (3/day) -- blink, clairvoyance/clairaudience, fly
2nd (5/day) -- mirror image, protection from arrows, resist energy, see invisibility
1st (5/day) -- disguise self, expeditious retreat, shield, true strike
Combat Gear potion of barkskin (+5), 2 potions of cure serious wounds, wand of greater invisibility (10 charges), numerous other potions and scrolls
Abilities Str 10, Dex 24, Con 12, Int 12, Wis 13, Cha 15
Feats Improved Initiative, Improved Toughness, Iron Will, Combat Casting, Mage Slayer, Practiced Spellcaster (cleric), Practiced Spellcaster (Suel arcanamach),Weapon Finesse
SQ ignore spell failure 20%, trapfinding
Skills Balance +14, Climb +6, Concentration +15 (+19 casting defensively), Disable Device +18, Hide +21, Jump +7, Knowledge (arcana) +6, Knowledge (religion) +6, Listen +15, Move Silently +21, Open Locks +18, Search +15, Spellcraft +17, Spot +15, Tumble +28
Possessions combat gear plus +5 improved shadow studded leather, +3 keen rapier, gloves of dexterity +5, cloak of resistance +5, ring of protection +2, ring of counterspells (dispel magic), bag of holding (type III), amulet of health +4, masterwork thieves tools
Mage Slayer Spellcasters threatened by Tyrun automatically fail their Concentration checks to cast defensively, but they are aware that they cannot cast defensively while threatened by Tyrun.
Dispelling Strike Three times per day, Tyrun can attempt a dispelling strike with one normal melee attack. If he hits, he deals normal damage and the victim is subject to a targeted greater dispel magic. Tyrun's dispel check is 1d20+16.
Extended Spellstrength The duration of any of Tyrun's spells that he targets on himself is doubled, as if affected by the Extend Spell feat (without any adjustment to the spell's effective level or casting time). Spells that target multiple targets are affected by this ability, but only Tyrun gains the extended duration. Spells that do not have a Target entry are unaffected by this ability even if Tyrun is the only one affected.
Tenacious Spells Add 6 to the DC required to dispel Tyrun's Suel arcanamach spells.
Tyrum had the following ability scores before applying Hit Die ability score increases and stat boosting items: Str 10, Dex 15, Con 8, Int 12, Wis 13, Cha 14.
Any additional advice you would include for this prestige class? Let us know your thoughts on how it played or what changes you would make to it.
About the Author
Creighton Broadhurst is a member of Living Greyhawk's Circle of Six and a mad-keen World of Greyhawk fan. He has two young sons (whom he nicknames "Ghengis" and "Khan"). His house (when it is not falling down) is an oasis of tranquility, tidiness, and order. His upcoming design credits include Monster Manual V and Exemplars of Evil.