Psion Prestige Class : Planar Vanguard
By Scott Brocius and Mark A. Jindra
The planar vanguard is a psionic scholar and expert in planar travel, and through arcane research she develops not only the ability to travel to other planes, but also the ability to create her own demiplane. (Being around long enough to use it is another matter.)
Psions steeped in psionic knowledge make the best planar vanguards, and having visited an Inner or Outer Plane is required to join their numbers. They usually seek out organizations of planeshifters (see Manual of the Planes) to share their knowledge. These organizations are more like fraternal organizations than guilds or power groups, and they appear (and disappear) with great frequency. Despite this, one group of planar vanguards known as the Eternal Mind has appeared from time to time.
NPC planar vanguards are rarely in the same place for long. They're always going to see some new planar sight or phenomenon. They sometimes hire adventurers as bodyguards, assistants, or troubleshooters.
To qualify to become a Planar Vanguard, a character must fulfill all the following criteria:
- Skills: Concentration 8 ranks, Knowledge (the planes) 4 ranks, Psicraft 8 ranks.
- Feats: Transdimensional Power.
- Manifesting: Able to manifest a 4th-level power.
- Special: The character must have spent some time on one or more Transitive Planes before taking this prestige class. The total time is up to the DM. (At least one month is recommended.)
Skill Points at Each Level: 4 + Int modifier.
All of the following are class features of the planar vanguard prestige class.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Planar vanguards gain no proficiency in any weapons or armor, but they retain any previous knowledge they may have had.
Power Points*: With the exception of 1st level, planar vanguards gain power points per day as though they gained a level of psion. These power points are added to the character's previous total. Planar vanguards gain bonus power points based on the key ability score for their primary ability. If the character previously could not gain bonus power points for high ability scores (as is the case for psychic warriors), she now chooses a primary discipline and can gain bonus power points based on the related ability score.
Powers Discovered: A planar vanguard's effective manifester level equals her manifester level for her other psionic classes, plus her planar vanguard level -1.
Psionic Combat: Psionic attack and defense modes are discovered as though the character were a psychic warrior of the same level as the prestige class. (Characters do not forget previously discovered attack and defense modes.)
0-Level Powers: A planar vanguard counts her levels in planar vanguard -1 and applies the total toward the level of the psionic character for determining the number of free manifestations per day of her 0-level powers.
Psicrystals: A planar vanguard counts her levels in planar vanguard -1 and applies the total toward the level of the psionic character for determining psicrystal Intelligence and special abilities. Characters whose previous class did not offer access to a psicrystal (such as psychic warrior) gain the ability to create one as a psion can.
Plane Shift (Sp): Starting at 1st level, the planar vanguard gains the ability to plane shift herself (as the power) for free once per day. The number of times per day she may use this ability increases by one every other level of planar vanguard (3rd, 5th, 7th, and 9th). Starting at 5th level, the planar vanguard gains the ability to affect other creatures with the plane shift ability. Using this ability is treated as if the planar vanguard manifested the plane shift power on the target or targets in question.
Control Planar Flux (Su): At 2nd level, a planar vanguard gains an intuitive understanding of how creatures interact with the planes they are on, and she can exploit small changes in the barriers between planes. The planar vanguard's manifester level is considered one higher when manifesting the dimensional anchor and dismissal powers. The level bonus further increases by one at 4th, 6th, 8th and 10th levels.
Planar Survival (Ex): A planar vanguard of 3rd level or higher becomes attuned to the nature of the planes she visits and personally immune to natural planar effects that arise from certain planar trait, as shown below:
|Earth dominant||Won't suffocate while on the plane|
|Fire dominant||No damage from the fire trait|
|Negative dominant||Doesn't take damage or negative levels from the negative trait.|
|Positive dominant||Not blinded by the positive trait, stops temporary hit points when they equal her normal hit point total|
|Water dominant||Can breathe water while on the plane|
In addition, some effects specific to a plane are negated. These effects include extremes in temperature, lack of air, poisonous fumes, emanations of positive or negative energy, or other attributes of the plane itself that might not be associated with a planar trait. In the D&D cosmology, this ability negates the deafening effect of Pandemonium and the cold damage on the Cania layer of the Nine Hells. Your DM can add additional protections for a cosmology he creates. If an Elemental Plane of Cold is in his cosmology, for example, this ability protects against the base cold damage suffered by the planar vanguard while on that plane.
The effects of gravity traits, alignment traits, and magic traits aren't negated by this ability, and neither is the special entrapping trait that some planes have (Elysium and Hades in the D&D cosmology).
This ability does not provide protection against creatures, native or otherwise, and it does not protect against spells, special abilities, or extreme and nonnatural formations within a plane. This ability allows a planar vanguard to survive on the Elemental Plane of Earth, but it won't protect her if she walks into a pool of magma on that same plane.
Morphic Stability (Ex): At 5th level, a planar vanguard gains the ability to impose her will on her surroundings to a limited extent. On planes with the highly morphic trait (such as Limbo in the D&D cosmology) or the magically morphic trait (such as the Plane of Shadow), the terrain stabilizes around the planar vanguard. The planar vanguard automatically calms the terrain within a radius of 30 feet per planar vanguard level. This area moves with the planar vanguard and is centered on her. Permanent structures within the plane are unaffected, and the terrain can still be changed through normal activity.
Grant Planar Survival (Su): A planar vanguard of 7th level or higher can extend the planar survival ability by touch to a number of others equal to her planar vanguard level. Once granted, the survival ability lasts for 24 hours. Should the planar vanguard's companions wind up on a different plane than the planar vanguard, their protection fades immediately.
Reality Maelstrom (Sp): At 9th level, a planar vanguard gains the ability to force a hole in reality itself that sucks all material and most nearby creatures into it, sending them to a random plane (see Random Planar Destinations). Everything sucked into this reality maelstrom goes to the same place. The maximum range of this ability is 100 ft. + 10 ft. per planar vanguard level. The maelstrom lasts for a number of rounds equal to 1/2 her manifester level. This ability may be used up to 3 times per day.
This ability has a primary and a secondary area. The primary area is the hole itself: a sphere of no less than 5 feet and no greater than a 5-foot radius per planar vanguard level. Within that area, all unattended objects weighing 100 pounds or less are sucked into the reality maelstrom, as are all individuals who fail a Will saving throw (DC 17 + Dexterity modifier).
The secondary area is a windstorm of air rushing into the tear. All unattended objects weighing 50 pounds or less within an area twice the radius of the primary effect are drawn into the primary area of the reality maelstrom. Individuals in the secondary area must make a Reflex saving throw (DC 17 + Dexterity modifier). Those who fail are sucked into the primary area and must make a Will saving throw to avoid being drawn into the maelstrom.
Individuals who make either saving throw can move and attack as normal but must make additional saving throws every round they remain within the primary or secondary areas. A reality maelstrom is a one-way portal, so nothing ever emerges from the hole created by this ability.
|Random Planar Destinations|
|36-40||The Nine Hells|
|90-91||Elemental Plane of Fire|
|92-93||Elemental Plane of Earth|
|94-95||Elemental Plane of Water|
|96-97||Elemental Plane of Air|
|98||Positive Energy Plane|
|99||Negative Energy Plane|
|100||Demiplane (DM's Choice)|
Genesis Stone (Sp): At 10th level, a planar vanguard gains the ability to turn her psicrystal into a small pocket dimension. This pocket dimension is often used as a base of operation. A planar vanguard can craft a new psicrystal to replace the one used for this purpose. The original crystal is destroyed in the process, but the planar vanguard does not suffer the standard effects of losing a psicrystal. A planar vanguard can own only one demiplane at a time and cannot construct a new one unless all portals to the old one are destroyed. The planar vanguard must meditate 8 hours a day for one week to awaken the demiplane in her psicrystal.
Upon awakening the ability in the psicrystal, the crystal shatters and a miniscule spherical demiplane that is 1 foot in radius is created. It grows quickly, gaining 1 foot in radius per day up to a maximum radius of 100 feet. After reaching that size, the demiplane continues to grow at a rate of 2 feet of radius per year. If its creator perishes, the demiplane stops growing.
The planar vanguard's demiplane has the following planar traits: normal time, alterable, and normal magic and psionics. At creation the planar vanguard can set whatever gravity trait, elemental traits, and alignment traits she likes, and she can choose whether the plane is finite or self-contained. While the demiplane isn't morphic, the planar vanguard has total control over the landscape at the moment of creation, so she can decide whether it will be foreboding, mountainous wasteland, or bucolic forest. The terrain set at creation extends itself as the demiplane grows. While it is not possible to fit jagged peaks into a 1-foot sphere, cliffs and summits appear as the demiplane grows.
The demiplane retains the personality of the psicrystal that is used in its creation. When on the demiplane, the planar vanguard is granted the effects of the special ability of the original psicrystal. The demiplane retains the intelligence of the psicrystal used in its creation as well as the sighted, speak with other creatures, and sight link special abilities. Ranges for these abilities are disregarded, and sight link ends if the planar vanguard leaves the demiplane.
The demiplane is unfurnished, so the planar vanguard must provide what construction is necessary. It has a single portal entry, which the planar vanguard can control for access. Those who know of the demiplane's existence can plane shift to the plane, though if the demiplane isn't large enough to hold the visitor (or the planar vanguard, for that matter), entry is denied. Demiplanes are often used as hiding places, research labs, and prisons for particular beasts.
|Planar Vanguard||Hit Die: d4|
|1st||+0||+0||+2||+0||*see text||Plane shift 1/day, psicrystal|
|2nd||+1||+0||+3||+0||+1 psion||Control planar flux +1|
|3rd||+1||+1||+3||+1||+1 psion||Planar survival|
|4th||+2||+1||+4||+1||+1 psion||Control planar flux +2|
|5th||+2||+1||+4||+1||+1 psion||Morphic stability, plane shift others|
|6th||+3||+2||+5||+2||+1 psion||Control planar flux +3|
|7th||+3||+2||+5||+2||+1 psion||Grant planar survival|
|8th||+4||+2||+6||+2||+1 psion||Control planar flux +4|
|9th||+4||+3||+6||+3||+1 psion||Reality maelstrom|
|10th||+5||+3||+7||+3||+1 psion||Control planar flux +5, genesis stone|
About the Authors
Mark A. Jindra has been a fan of Dungeons & Dragons for the past 25 years and has organized RPGA Network events for many conventions and game days, including Origins and Winter Fantasy. In 1998 he landed his dream job as a web developer for Wizards of the Coast and is currently (2003) the developer of the D&D website. Mark has authored or coauthored various tournaments for the RPGA Network, and he also coauthors the monthly Mind's Eye feature on the Wizards of the Coast website.
Scott Brocius has been "kicking around" with the D&D game since being introduced to it 1980. He has been an RPGA member for several years and has helped organize and run RPGA events for several conventions, including Origins. The new edition of D&D has renewed his love for and interest in the game. Scott also coauthors the monthly Mind's Eye feature on the Wizards of the Coast website.