Faerûnian Prestige Class : Zhentarim Spy

The Zhentarim is among the most famed and feared "secret" organizations in Faerûn. Its members have their hands in nearly every illicit business imaginable, from assassination to drug trafficking to slavery. Though there are many diverse character types within its ranks, the Zhentarim spy is probably the one Faerûnians encounter most often - even if they never realize it.

Most Zhentarim spies were previously rogues or bards, but a small number of monks, sorcerers, and wizards also find the job to their liking. Fighters, barbarians, and rangers are usually too unsubtle for the tasks of a spy, while the types of clerics and druids the Zhentarim attract tend to have religious habits that make it difficult for them to blend in with others.


To qualify to become a Zhentarim Spy, a character must fulfill all the following criteria:

Class Skills

The Zhentarim spy's class skills are Appraise, Balance, Bluff, Climb, Decipher Script, Diplomacy, Disable Device, Disguise, Escape Artist, Forgery, Gather Information, Hide, Intimidate, Jump, Listen, Move Silently, Open Lock, Search, Sense Motive, Sleight of Hand, Speak Language, Spot, Tumble, Use Magic Device, and Use Rope.

Skill Points at Each Level: 6 + Int modifier.

Class Features

All the following are Class Features of the Zhentarim spy prestige class.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Zhentarim spies are proficient with all simple weapons, with light and medium armor, and with shields. Armor check penalties for armor heavier than leather apply to the skills Balance, Climb, Escape Artist, Hide, Jump, Move Silently, Sleight of Hand, and Tumble, and double the normal armor check penalty applies to Swim checks.

Cover Identity (Ex): A Zhentarim spy is rigorously trained to establish nearly flawless cover identities. For every distinct Craft or Profession skill in which she has at least 2 ranks, she may have one cover identity. Each cover identity must be a specific person (such as "Jolan Turnbuckle, bread-baker for the town of Shadowdale"), not a generic description (such as "baker"). She may at any time end an existing cover identity and establish a new one in its place.

While operating under any of her cover identities, she gains a +4 circumstance bonus on Disguise checks and a +2 bonus on Bluff and Gather Information checks. For each additional 2 ranks (beyond the minimum 2) that the Zhentarim spy possesses in a cover identity's associated Craft or Profession skill, each of these bonuses increases by 1. At the DM's discretion, these bonuses may be reduced or eliminated in regions where the cover identity would seem out of place (bakers from Shadowdale, for example, would attract suspicion in the ruins of Myth Drannor).

Establishing a new cover identity or replacing an old one means the Zhentarim spy must acquire documentation and personal effects, establish a place of business, and otherwise set up a believable second life. This process takes 1d4 tendays, during which she may do nothing else, and costs 6d10 gp. The Zhentarim spy does not need to set up a cover identity immediately for every Craft or Profession skill in which she has 2 ranks; she may wait until a good opportunity presents itself if desired. For example, she might wish to hold a cover identity option in reserve to take advantage of the unlikely cover class ability (see below).

The cover identity ability does not provide any additional skills that might be necessary to make a cover identity believable, such as knowledge of the proper homeland, the ability to speak a foreign language, spellcasting ability, or the like. Thus, Zhentarim spies generally pick cover identities that complement their existing skills.

Sneak Attack (Ex): This ability functions like the rogue ability of the same name. The extra damage dealt increases by 1d6 points at 2nd level, and by another 1d6 points at 4th level. If a Zhentarim spy gets a sneak attack bonus from another source (such as rogue levels), the bonuses on damage stack. Furthermore, Zhentarim spy levels stack with any other appropriate class levels (such as rogue or assassin) for the purpose of overcoming improved uncanny dodge.

Undetectable Alignment (Ex): At 2nd level, the Zhentarim spy's rigorous mental training enables her to cloud even divination spells. This ability functions like the undetectable alignment spell, except that it is always active and, as an extraordinary ability, is subject to neither dispelling nor suppression by dead magic zones and the like.

Poison Use (Ex): At 3rd level, a Zhentarim spy receives training in the use of poison and never risks accidentally poisoning herself when applying poison to a blade.

Unlikely Cover (Ex): At 3rd level; the Zhentarim spy may designate a number of cover identities equal to her Charisma bonus (minimum one) as "unlikely covers." In such a cover identity, she is disguised as someone drastically different from herself - a member of the opposite sex or a different race, or someone with a very different body shape. She may need to spend the time to establish new cover identities if she does not have any appropriate identities available. While she operates in an unlikely cover, her normal bonuses on Disguise, Bluff, and Gather Information checks for a cover identity are doubled (to +8 on Disguise checks, +4 on Bluff and Gather InTormation checks, and +2 per 2 extra ranks on checks made with the cover identity's Craft or Profession skill). Furthermore, the DC for Spot checks made to penetrate her disguise increases by 4.

Slippery Mind (Ex): At 4th level, the Zhentarim spy gains the slippery mind special ability (see the rogue class description) if she did not already have it.

Deep Cover (Ex): At 5th level, the Zhentarim spy may choose a number of new cover identities equal to her Intelligence bonus (minimum one). These may be the same cover identities selected for the unlikely cover ability, or they may be different ones, or they may be a mixture of both. Unlike her unlikely cover identities, however, the identities she selects for deep cover need not be new.

When the Zhentarim spy is operating within one of her deep cover identities, her mind is so thoroughly trained and conditioned to think like the person she pretends to be that any magical scrying or mind reading at a power level short of deific reveals nothing about her true nature. Only the thoughts, alignment, and emotions of the fictitious persona can be detected.

Zhentarim SpyHit Die: d6
1st+0+0+2+2Cover identity
2nd+1+0+3+3Sneak attack +1d6, undetectable alignment
3rd+2+1+3+3Poison use, unlikely cover
4th+3+1+4+4Slippery mind, sneak attack +2d6
5th+3+1+4+4Deep cover

Source: Player's Guide to Faerûn

Realms Prestige Classes