Alternate Class - Despot

by James Jacobs, Dragon #313

The despot can be a local thug who demands protection money from struggling businesses, or she can be the tyrannical ruler of an oppressed nation. In both cases, she profits and thrives from the oppression of those under her net of cruelty and domination. Yet for all her inability to empathize with the hurts and distress of those she stands upon for her own personal empowerment, the despot is not without a rigid form of law and warped honor. She and her minions protect those she rules from other forces. Indeed, in a region besieged with armies of goblinoids, rampaging giants, or ravenous hordes of undead, the local inhabitants might find the rule of a despot preferable.

The despot is always lawful evil, and strives to build an organization of thugs and police to enforce her laws and ideals. Deities of tyranny and oppression often have enforcer followers. Although rare, it is not unheard of for enforcers to serve despots as police, especially in regions where the despot's rule is less destructive than the threats to her domain. More often, despots are served by lower level despots who strive to serve their master as best they can until they find a chance or method to depose and replace their ruler.

Class Skills

The despot's class skills are Bluff, Concentration, Craft, Diplomacy, Intimidate, Knowledge (nobility and royalty), Knowledge (religion), Profession, Search, and Sense Motive.

Skill Points at 1st Level: (2 + Int modifier) x 4.

Skill Points at each additional level: 2 + Int modifier.

Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 2 + Int modifier.

Class Features

All of the following are class features of the despot:

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: All unholy warriors are proficient with all simple and martial weapons, with all types of armor (heavy, medium, and light), and with shields (except tower shields).

At 5th level, and at every five levels thereafter, the unholy warrior may smite one additional time per day, to a maximum of five times per day at 20th level.

Divine Grace (Su): At 2nd level, the unholy warrior gains a bonus equal to her Charisma bonus (if any) on all saving throws.

Aura of Fear (Su): Beginning at 3rd level, an unholy warrior exudes an almost palpable aura of menace and evil. Each enemy within 10 feet of her suffers a -4 morale penalty on saving throws against fear effects. The unholy warrior herself is deadened to the emotion of fear, and is immune to all fear effects. This ability functions while the unholy warrior is conscious, but not if she is unconscious or dead. An unholy warrior can suppress or activate this aura as a free action.

Spells: All unholy warriors gain the ability to cast divine spells as early as 4th level (if their Wisdom score is high enough to grant bonus 1st level spells). Each unholy warrior has a unique spell list, and members of these classes must choose and prepare their spells in advance. Unholy warriors gain spells at the same rate as paladins.

Aura of Law: The power of a despot's aura of law (see the detect law spell) is equal to her despot level.

Detect Chaos (Sp): At will, a despot can use detect chaos, as the spell.

Smite Chaos (Su): A despot's smite targets creatures with a chaotic alignment. All unholy warriors can smite a certain type of enemy a number of times per day. Smiting a target requires a normal melee attack. The unholy warrior adds her Charisma bonus (if any) to her attack roll and deals 1 extra point of damage per unholy warrior level. If the unholy warrior accidentally smites a target that is inappropriate, the smite attack has no effect, but the ability is still used up for that day.

At 5th level, and at every five levels thereafter, the unholy warrior may smite one additional time per day, to a maximum of five times per day at 20th level.

Slippery Mind (Ex): The despot has a powerful sense of self and free will, and her mind fights much harder against magical control than most other minds. If a despot is affected by an enchantment spell or effect and fails her saving throw, she can attempt the saving throw again round later to break free of the effect. Failing this second saving throw does not grant the despot further saving throws against the enchantment.

Indomitable Will (Su): At 3rd level, the despot's mind has become an unassailable fortress of ego. She is now completely immune to all spells of the charm subschool.

Oppression (Su): When a despot reaches 4th level, she gains the supernatural ability to oppress other living creatures by speaking to them and channeling negative energy into the power of her voice. This is a language-dependant, mind-affecting ability.

When a despot tries to oppress, she makes a turning check (1d20 + her Charisma modifier) as if she were a cleric of three levels lower turning undead. The result of the check indicates how many targets within 60 feet (who must be able to understand the despot's words) are potentially affected, and the turning damage indicates the total Hit Dice of targets affected. Creatures with chaotic alignments are affected first, and creatures with lawful alignments are affected last. Within the alignment spectrum, closer creatures are affected first.

A target that is oppressed becomes sickened with guilt and depression (-2 penalty on all attack rolls, weapon damage rolls, saving throws, skill checks, and ability checks) for minute.

If the despot has twice as many levels (or more) than any creature that is oppressed, that creature is instead nauseated (can only take a single move action each turn) for 1 minute.

A despot can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + her Charisma modifier.

Leadership (Ex): Upon reaching 5th level, a despot gains the Leadership feat as a bonus feat. Despots gain a +1 bonus to their Leadership score.

Mark of Justice (Sp): At 7th level, a despot can cast mark of justice, as the spell, once per week. She can use this ability one additional time per week for every four levels after 7th, to a maximum of 4 times a week at 19th level.

Code of Conduct: A despot must be of lawful evil alignment and loses all class abilities if she ever willingly commits a chaotic act (such as breaking a vow or contract or betraying an ally). She must at all times work to expand and grow her domain, either by virtue of the Leadership feat or by strong-arming those less fortunate and powerful than herself. She is allowed to abuse her sovereignty in any way she sees fit to further her own personal strength and glory, but she must protect and defend her subjects and allies from harm from other forces. Likewise, she must not overburden her subjects so that they cannot support her.

Associates: A despot adventures only with characters of a non-chaotic alignment and remains suspicious and wary of those who are not lawful. She will never knowingly associate with chaotic characters, nor will she continue an association with someone who consistently offends her moral code. This includes remaining in a group in which she is not equal or superior to the highest-level member. A despot can adventure or associate with those of equal level, although doing so makes her more uncomfortable and irritable than normal. A despot may only accept henchmen, followers, or cohorts who are lawful evil.

DespotHit Die: d10
CLBABFortRefWillSpecialSpells per Day
1st+1+0+0+2Aura of law, detect chaos, smite chaos 1/day----
2nd+2+0+0+3Divine grace, slippery mind----
3rd+3+1+1+3Aura of fear, indomitable will----
5th+5+1+1+4Leadership, smite chaos 2/day0---
7th+7/+2+2+2+5Mark of Justice 1/week1---
10th+10/+5+3+3+7Smite chaos 3/day11--
11th+11/+6/+1+3+3+7Mark of Justice 2/week110-
15th+15/+10/+5+5+5+9Mark of justice 3/week, smite chaos 4/day2111
19th+19/+14/+9/+4+6+6+11Mark of justice 4/week3332
20th+20/+15/+10/+5+6+6+12Smite chaos 5/day3333

Despot Spell List

Source: Dragon #313

Alternate Character Classes
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