Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Catamaran: Scroll-Bearer Prestige Class

Through some oddities in my Catamaran campaign the players got their hands on artifact called the All Scroll that contains all knowledge in the world within it's endless length.  It's a hugely powerful artifact, but it's like having access to the internet without a search engine; everything you want to know is in there somewhere, but good luck finding it!  The party rogue, who is using my gadgeteer Scientist subclass to be a gun toting, bomb chunking agent of reason, has decided to take up the artifact despite being warned it may change him.  Not wanting to make it just another piece of equipment, I've written up a prestige class he can take to represent the powers gained from taking on the roll of the Bearer of the All Scroll.  I realize prestige classes in 5E are still a bit of an oddity, and I don't want to get back to the prestige class glut of 5E, but I think this is pretty much the story focused sort of stuff that prestige classes could do really well.  

Artifact Prestige Class: Scroll-Bearer
Artifacts in the Sea of Keruna are not simply powerful magical items that you can bind to and use at your leisure; they are immensely powerful items that change their bearer over time to become the best match to the artifacts power. One does not wield an artifact; one uses it and tries not to be too changed by the price that must be paid. Or if the price is already something the bearer of the artifact is willing to pay, then the partnership may just work out for all involved, but such is rarely the case.

The Scroll of All is such an artifact. Technically there are two Scrolls of All, but one is kept in the Land of the Dead so it may remain organized. Each Scroll of All contains all information in the world somewhere in its infinite length, but finding the right information when you want it is a major undertaking. As the bearer gets more adept at using the Scroll of All they can find information faster and even manipulate the scroll itself.
  • Intelligence: 13
  • Level: 5+
  • Skills: Trained in 4 skills

Infinite Search, Applied Knowledge
Comprehend Text, Ritual of the Scroll
Moving Words, Applied Knowledge, Innate Knowledge
Expand Your Mind, Nondetection
Scroll Walk, Applied Knowledge

Class Features
As an scroll bearer, you gain the following class features.
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d8 (or 5) + your Constitution modifier per scroll bearer level
Tools: Calligrapher’s tools
Saving Throws: None
Skills: None

Infinite Search
If you can take a short rest to research the subject of a skill check in the scroll, such as looking an historical incident as part of a History check, you have advantage on any skill checks involving the related skill. You may only do this for one skill check per short rest. If you choose to use this ability outside of a rest, it requires one hour to use. This can only be used for finding knowledge, not performing an action relating to a skill. 
Applied Knowledge
At 1st, 3rd, and 5th level you may select one of the following upgrades to your existing abilities:
  • Add one spellcasting level as if you had gained a level as a multiclass spellcaster. 
  • Add one superiority, cunning, bardic inspiration, or other special die to your existing die pool.
  • Train in one skill or tool. 
  • Gain expertise, doubling your proficiency bonus, with one skill or tool you are already proficient in. 
Ritual of the Scroll
At 2nd level, you gain the ability to cast the following spells as if you had the Ritual Casting feat: Clairvoyance, Darkvision, Detect Magic, Detect Evil and Good, Detect Poison and Disease, Detect Thoughts, Identify, Locate Animals or Plants, Locate Object, See Invisibility, Tongues.

At 4th level, you gain the ability to cast the following spells as if you had the Ritual Casting feat: Divination, Find the Path, Legend Lore, Locate Creature, Scrying, True Seeing.

Comprehend Text
Beginning at 2nd level, you can read any language and have advantage on any skill or ability checks to decode written puzzles, riddles, etc. 
Innate Knowledge
At 3rd level, you may cast any of the spells you can cast through Ritual of the Scroll as normal spells. You may do so a total of 1+ your Intelligence bonus times, and this resets each long rest. 
Moving Words
Beginning at 3rd level, you can manipulate the physical form of the scroll, allowing you to scan through it without touching it, levitate it, and even move other items with it. You can effectively cast Mage Hand and Levitate at will, but must use the scroll to do any lifting or manipulation involved. These spells originate from the scroll, so to levitate yourself you must hold onto the scroll, but they may be cast from up to 30 feet away from the scroll. 
Expand Your Mind
At 4th level, the scroll has reordered your brain sufficiently that it operates much more efficiently now. You gain a +2 to your Intelligence. 
Beginning at 4th level, you can modify information around you to make it impossible to track you through magic. You can cast Nondetection a number of times per day equal to your 1+ your Intelligence bonus. While this spell is active, others suffer disadvantage on Perception checks to find you. 
Scroll Walk
Beginning at 5th level, you can set the scroll on the ground, kick it to get it rolling, and cause it to leap up into the sky, creating a path you can move along. This effectively gives you a fly speed equal to your normal movement rate. Activating this power requires a action. It may be ended at any time, though if you end it while not on the ground you will take falling damage. If you are rendered helpless while using this power you do not fall to the ground as the scroll will continue to float under your body.

Design Commentary
It's supposed to represent having access to massive amounts of information, but not always being able to find what you need.  At the same time, I didn't want to completely stymie advancement in your core character class, thus Applied Knowledge.  I worry that Applied Knowledge is too good.  It can grant a three dice within five levels, and it can open up the door for non-rogues to get expertise, but everything else this class does is gather information (or do some weird stuff with your scroll).  Having some more active elements I think is necessary.  

Expand Your Mind is meant to be a replacement for an ability score increase, only you don't get to choose where it goes, thus backing up the fiction that joining with the scroll changes you.  I worry I don't have enough fiction backing that element up, but not sure how to do so and have it be fun.  I may add some more find information type abilities, but have the player have to pay in exhaustion to use them.  

The 4th level upgrade of Ritual of the Scroll may be too good as it lets you theoretically cast some higher level spells at 9th level.  None of them are battle winners, but they are adventure derailers.

Moving Words and Scroll Walk are the result of some weird descriptions of the NPC they met in the land of the dead who had the other scroll.  She used it for transport, as a shield, etc.  The shield part did not make it into this writeup.  

The All-Scroll
The All-Scroll is a massive parchment scroll two feet in length and about a foot thick.   The wood is sandalwood and the parchment is uniform and neat.  The writing in the All-Scroll is always understood by whoever looks at it and includes diagrams, maps, and symbols as needed.  The text is always neat, compact, and legible.  Once you begin unrolling the scroll it can be unrolled infinitely with new text and information appearing on each section as you unroll it.  If you are not bound to it, you must unroll the scroll continually until you find the information you are looking for, a process that may take years if you are successful at all as the scroll contains all knowledge in the world (specifically everything known now or every by a mortal; it does not hold information about scientific principles not yet discovered, the secrets only known by gods, etc).  If you are bound to it, you can move the information around by touching the scroll and even call up that information you need.  Even with this, it is very difficult to use.

The All-Scroll is immune to damage.  It will automatically roll up if it loses contact with its current user.

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