Psion Prestige Class : Subverted Psion
"We make up horrors to help us cope with the real ones." -- Stephen King
Subverted psions have been seduced by the power of taint. By embracing it, they find a way to the darker sides of their minds, and it leads them to discover abilities that make up nightmares. The power of taint has a price, and they pay for it with the sanity of their minds and the wholeness of their bodies.
Only those with considerable psionic ability who embrace taint can become subverted psions. Psions and wilders most often follow this path since they can meet the minimal requirements to enter with ease. Higher level psychic warriors can become subverted psions, though they are rare. Those few who do walk this path are formidable foes. Single class soulknives do not possess the psionic ability to enter this prestige class.
To qualify to become a Subverted Psion, a character must fulfill all the following criteria:
- Alignment: Any non-good
- Feats: Lunatic Insight (tainted feat),
- Manifesting: Ability to manifest any 4th-level power
- Taint: Mild depravity
Skill Points at Each Level: 2 + Int modifier.
Lust for Power: The power of taint is rich, heady, and difficult to ignore. Once you start on your dark path, it's hard to escape. If you wish to advance a level in another class after taking your first level as a subverted psion, you must succeed on a Will save (DC = 10 + your depravity score). If you fail, you must stay in this prestige class and advance another level in subverted psion instead. If you succeed, you can advance the level in another class, although you must still attempt the saving throw the next time you gain a level or default back to this prestige class.
Taint Immunity: You are immune to the further effects of taint except for those gained by this prestige class. Any previous symptoms gained before this prestige class are retained, though they can be removed through normal means. Your taint score is capped by the severe taint limit of your Constitution or Wisdom score as determined by Table 4-1: Taint Thresholds (see Heroes of Horror, page 63).
Tainted Power (Su): You gain additional power points per day equal to your taint score.
Mild Depravity: At 2nd level, you gain a random mild depravity effect from Table 4-3: Depravity Effects (see Heroes of Horror, page 65). This effect cannot be removed by normal means.
Create Minions: At 3rd level, you gain the ability to create and control tainted minions (see Heroes of Horror, page 153). The base creature's original Hit Dice or levels cannot exceed one half your total character level. The ritual to create a minion takes 10 minutes to perform and the transformation takes 24 hours to complete. Created minions advance normally, but if their Hit Dice ever exceeds half your total character level, they become free willed and attack you. Once you gain this ability, you can no longer have the Leadership feat. You lose the feat and any followers and cohorts. You can still have hirelings, though they will be of a seedy lot.
You gain an additional tainted minion at 6th level, another at 9th level, and a fourth at 12th level.
Mild Corruption: At 4th level, you gain a random mild corruption effect from Table 4-2: Corruption Effects (see Heroes of Horror, page 63). This effect cannot be removed by normal means.
Fearsome Shroud (Ps): At 5th level, you may pay 7 power points, as a standard action, to expend your psionic focus and envelop yourself in a cloak of glowing ectoplasm. The cloak is a shifting visage of the fears of yourself and those around you. The cloak provides a deflection bonus to Armor Class equal to one half of your subverted psion level (round down). In addition, those viewing it must make a Will save (DC 10 + subverted psion level + Cha modifier) or take a -4 penalty on attack rolls, saving throws, skill checks, and ability checks. This effect lasts for as long as the cloak is in existence. The cloak lasts for 1 round per subverted psion level.
Moderate Depravity: At 6th level, you gain a random moderate depravity effect from Table 4-3: Depravity Effects (see page 65 of Heroes of Horror). This effect cannot be removed by normal means.
Create Pthisic (Ps): At 7th level, you gain the ability to bring forth a pthisic (see Expanded Psionics Handbook, page 206) from your own twisted mind. The created pthisic is under your control and will last 1 round per subverted psion level before dissipating. Creating the pthisic takes 1 full round and can be performed 1 time per day for every 3 levels of subverted psion. You can control one pthisic at a time.
Moderate Corruption: At 8th level, you gain a random moderate corruption effect from Table 4-2: Corruption Effects (see page 63 of Heroes of Horror). This effect cannot be removed by normal means.
Phantasmal Shroud (Ps): This cloak has all the effects of the fearsome shroud and is created by paying 11 power points, as a standard action. In addition, the visages within the cloak can make a touch attack each round with a reach of 10 feet and using the subverted psion's attack bonus. Anyone struck by this attack must make a Will save (DC 10 + subverted psion level + Cha modifier) or take 3d6 points of damage.
Severe Depravity: You gain a random severe depravity effect from Table 4-3: Depravity Effects (see Heroes of Horror, page 65). This effect cannot be removed by normal means.
Create Caller in Darkness: You gain the ability to create and control a Caller in Darkness (see Expanded Psionics Handbook, page 191). You need a minimum of twelve humanoids to die in a state of fear and horror, preferably by your hand. You can control but a single caller, and if it ever advances in Hit Dice beyond yours, it will become free-willed and attack you. Creating a caller in darkness takes a full 8 hours of uninterrupted focus to complete.
Severe Corruption: You gain a random severe corruption effect from Table 4-2: Corruption Effects (see Heroes of Horror, page 63). This effect cannot be removed by normal means.
Phantasmal Form (Su): By paying 17 power points, as a standard action, you shapechange into a horrific visage from your own mind. Those viewing this change must make a DC 30 Will save or be stunned for 1 round. In addition, they take a -4 penalty on attack rolls, saving throws, skill checks, and ability checks while in your presence. This form lasts for 1 round per subverted psion level and grants a +6 deflection bonus to Armor Class and 30 temporary hit points.
Playing a Subverted Psion
You are afraid, but this fear is your strength. Your fear does not debilitate you -- it simply remains in the back of your mind as a constant sense of apprehension. Those things you do not know cause you to be tense, whether it's a dungeon you are about to enter or the barman of the new inn into which you just forced yourself. Once you know and understand something, it's okay, but until then, you act slightly irrationally. This behavior can manifest itself in a wide range, be it cowardice, mild paranoia, or bravado. Most people won't even realize this behavior is abnormal. The desire to overcome these fears is what drives you, though this too can be with gusto or sullen acceptance. Either way, you will act.
Combat generally involves manifesting your best shroud, directing your minions if you have any, and manifesting powers against your enemies. Minions can harass enemy casters, provide flanking bonuses for fighter and rogues, or serve as protection for yourself or other casters in your group. Your best offense is still your psychic powers. If you are the rare psychic warrior that enters this prestige class, you will still likely use your minions the same way and manifest your best shroud. You simply prefer your weapon use instead of your powers.
In most cases, becoming a subverted psion is an accident. You don't really intend to embrace taint; you are just trying to combat your personal fears. Taint has a way of sneaking into your mind. And while the average psion's mind will do its best to reject it, yours finds it soothing. It grabs the dark parts of your psyche and you begin to feed upon it as it feeds upon you.
Once you become a subverted psion, you seek out areas of taint to increase your taint score. This not only helps you fight your fears but also increases the bonus power points gained per day. Skill points are best spent on the prestige class skills, but normally you concentrate on either Bluff or Intimidate while eschewing the other depending on how you overreact to new NPC's. Feat choices will be fewer now, and they are generally best used to overcome the taint effects or to increase your manifesting abilities.
As a subverted psion, you don't expect too much help from the outside world. Few people are willing to help one with as much taint as you gather. They also tend to frown on undead servants. The best you can hope for is to encounter another subverted psion. You understand each other and may convince her to help if needed.
|Subverted Psion||Hit Die: d4|
|1st||+0||+0||+0||+2||Lust for power, taint immunity, tainted power||+1 level of existing manifesting class|
|2nd||+1||+0||+0||+3||Mild depravity||+1 level of existing manifesting class|
|3rd||+1||+1||+1||+3||Create minions||+1 level of existing manifesting class|
|4th||+2||+1||+1||+4||Mild corruption||+1 level of existing manifesting class|
|5th||+2||+1||+1||+4||Fearsome shroud||+1 level of existing manifesting class|
|6th||+3||+2||+2||+5||Moderate depravity||+1 level of existing manifesting class|
|7th||+3||+2||+2||+5||Create pthisic||+1 level of existing manifesting class|
|8th||+4||+2||+2||+6||Moderate corruption||+1 level of existing manifesting class|
|9th||+4||+3||+3||+6||Phantasmal shroud||+1 level of existing manifesting class|
|10th||+5||+3||+3||+7||Severe depravity||+1 level of existing manifesting class|
|11th||+5||+3||+3||+7||Create caller in darkness||+1 level of existing manifesting class|
|12th||+6||+4||+4||+8||Severe corruption||+1 level of existing manifesting class|
|13th||+6||+4||+4||+8||Phantasmal form||+1 level of existing manifesting class|
Subverted Psions in the World
"Sad creatures, subverted psions. While they seek out and battle the evil as we do, more often than not they become the monster we must destroy."
-- Letha Evaronnas, Warmind of the Heliotrope Order
Subverted psions are fairly rare and can make for an excellent encounter in a horror campaign. They can quickly become a villain as they have a bad reputation and undead servants. Alternatively, a subverted psion can be a source of information because their pursuit of taint will have taken them to the places where the characters need to go.
Subverted psions have no organization to speak of; they usually travel alone. The only time they ever meet with one another is the odd encounter here or there. About the only connection they do have with each other is that they can instantly recognize one another as a subverted psion upon sight. It is extremely rare for one subverted psion to attack another. If two have a disagreement, they have a minion duel to determine the outcome.
Due to the horror campaign's darker nature, most people who encounter a subverted psion will be indifferent. Unless the subverted psion is being openly threatening, people find that they have much more dangerous things to worry about. Most elves, good-aligned clerics, and paladins are unfriendly due to the subverted psion's dealings with undead. Only those followers of undead-hating deities are initially hostile.
Subverted Psion Lore
Characters with ranks in Knowledge (psionics) or Knowledge (taint) can research subverted psions to learn more about them. Due to the rarity of subverted psions, information about them is hard to gather. Those characters with ranks in both skills gain a +2 synergy bonus on the check. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including the information from lower DCs.
- DC 15: Subverted psions have given into the evil they pursue.
- DC 20: Subverted psions almost always have undead bodyguards and can protect themselves with fearsome images.
- DC 25: The strongest of them have incorporeal undead in their command, and they themselves can transform into the most frightening things imaginable.
Subverted Psions in the Game
Due to their rarity, subverted psions can be added to your horror campaign easily. Most people in the world simply do not know about them or, alternatively, parents tell their children stories about them to help keep them on their best behavior. If the PCs do encounter them and confront a superior or ally that should have known about them, the superior passes it off as trivial information the character really didn't need as it was believed they would never meet one.
If a PC decides to follow this class, DMs should emphasize that the prestige class explores a dark path. Given the nature of a horror campaign, this choice should fit in smoothly.
This prestige class assumes you are using both a horror campaign and psionics campaign.
If you are not going to use a horror campaign, you will have to make adjustments for the lack of the taint mechanic. The feat requirement for entry will have to be changed. Either select a different feat or possibly add a skill requirement, such as a particular Knowledge skill. You will also have to develop a new mechanic for the bonus power points. The simplest solution would be a set bonus amount per subverted psion level. Use this total for the DC check for Lust for Power.
If you don't want to use psionics, this can switch to a magic-based prestige class with a little work. Probably the hardest part will be converting taint points to bonus spells. A possible solution would be to allow the player to trade taint points for spell slots using the standard psionic power point conversion (in other words, 1st-level costs 1 point, 2nd-level costs 3 points, up to a 9th-level cost of 17 points). Limit the player to no more than three bonus spells per level and they can select up to their maximum castable level. Once the taint points have been converted to bonus spells, they cannot go back and switch them around. The shrouds will use an appropriate spell slot to cast. The two psionic monsters will have to be replaced as well. An 8-HD shadow and a dread wraith are possible candidates.
Due to their nature, subverted psions are typically encountered alone, though they almost always have undead bodyguards. And for the most part, chance encountered subverted psions will not be interested in the party. If the encounter is forced, the reaction of the subverted psion will vary depending on how her mind has been twisted by taint.
EL15: Megan the Demented wanders the woods and hills around the village the party is currently calling home. While she leaves the village alone, it's rumored she knows how to enter the ruins the party is seeking to explore. They will need to track her down and find some way to trade for the information if she does indeed have it. Megan roams around at night and frequents the village graveyard. She sleeps during the day in a rough camouflaged hut guarded by Butler, her tainted minion.
Megan the Demented CR 14
Female human psion (telepath) 7/ subverted psion 7
NE Medium humanoid
Init +4; Senses Listen +1, Spot +1
Languages Common, Goblin
AC 13, touch 10, flat-footed 13
hp 56 (14 HD)
Fort +5, Ref +4, Will +11
Speed 30 ft.), 40 ft. [Speed of Thought]
Melee +1 quarterstaff +7 (1d6+1)
Base Atk +6; Grp +6
Power Points/Day: 233; Powers Known (ML 14th):
7th -- crisis of life (DC 23), energy wave (DC 22), mind blank (personal)
6th -- cloud mind (mass), mind switch (DC 22), temporal acceleration
5th -- adapt body, mind probe (DC 21), power resistance, true seeing (psionic)
4th -- aura sight, dimension door (psionic), dominate (psionic) (DC 20), freedom of movement (psionic)
3rd -- body adjustment, crisis of breath (DC 19), energy wave (DC 18), ubiquitous vision
2nd -- aversion (DC 18), knock (psionic), read thoughts (DC 18), swarm of crystals
1st -- charm (psionic) (DC 17), energy ray (DC 16), inertial armor, mindlink, vigor
Abilities Str 8, Dex 10, Con 12, Int 20, Wis 13, Cha 18, Corruption 5 (mild), Depravity 23 (moderate)
SQ corruption symptoms (dead eye), depravity symptoms (disoriented, jittery, mildly phobic, neglectful), lust for power, *taint immunity, tainted power, create minions, fearsome shroud, create pthisic
Feats Combat Manifestation, Empower Power[B], Extend Power[B], Improved Initiative, Lunatic Insight, Power Penetration, Psionic Meditation, Speed of Thought[B]
Skills Bluff +14 (+12), Concentration +16, Diplomacy +12 (+10), Gather Information 20 (+18), Psicraft +20, Sense Motive 18 (+16), Knowledge (religion) +15
Possessions combat gear plus bracers of armor +3, cloak of charisma +2, headband of intellect +4, psionitrix of telepathy
Megan believes she is an aristocrat and is quite a snob. She would be pretty if she could remember to clean up and get some new clothes. Her current finery has been subject to her travels for the past couple of years and it shows. While she will speak pleasantly with PCs, anything said to Butler is done with an angry scream.
Butler CR 7
Male goblin tainted minion fighter 6
NE Small undead (augmented goblinoid)
Init +6; Senses Listen -1, Spot -1
Aura fear (30 ft., DC 13)
AC 16, touch 12, flat-footed 14
Hp 39 (6 HD); fast healing 3; DR 10/magic
Fort +5, Ref +4, Will +1
Speed 30 ft. (6 squares)
2 claws +13 (1d3-1 plus poison)
Melee 2 claws +11 (1d3+5)
Base Atk +6; Grp +5
Atk Options Spring Attack
Abilities Str 16, Dex 15, Con --, Int 10, Wis 9, Cha 10
SQ undead traits, natural armor +4
Feats Alertness, Dodge, Improved Initiative, Mobility, Spring Attack, Weapon Focus (claws), Weapon Specialization (claws)
Skills Climb +10, Jump +10
Change Shape (Su) Butler can assume the form of any humanoid creature.
Butler obeys Megan, but only because he must. He waits for the day he can break her bond and kill her while she sleeps. Unless left alone, he constantly mutters obscenities under his breath.
Older Prestige class adapted to 3.5