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Shigure

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The Charlatan Handbook: or Pretending to be a God
« on: December 02, 2009, 11:31:58 PM »
The Charlatan Handbook


Index
- Entry Requirements
- Class Features/Abilities
- Attributes/Races
- Classes
- Feats/Skill Tricks
- Equipment
- Misc/Builds


With the "death" of 3/3.5 I have begun to wander further afield in my quest for interesting classes, prcs, feats, and spells to liven up my 3.5 games. Everything from Dragon Magazine to third party source books have been poured over...anything that's been printed by a semi-legitimate group pretty much...and i've happened upon some rather interesting finds. One of which is the Charlatan.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Prc it can be found in Dragon Magazine #335 on page 62.


About the Charlatan Prestige Class

As a Charlatan you are the ultimate con-man. It's difficult to impersonate a mage of any sort normally. Sure you can wave your hands about and mutter a bit of arcane mumbo-jumbo but if you don't have something solid to back up your little performance you won't get far...especially when confronted by an actual mage. Enter the Charlatan. With this class, and some clever role playing, you can impersonate an archmage and get away with it. Its all possible thanks to the use of everyone's favorite skill...Bluff.

A warning to you. This is a social class...not a combat class. It is ideal for a campaign that relies heavily on role play and downplays combat. Eberron, and Sharn in particular, are great settings for a Charlatan.

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Shigure

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Re: The Charlatan Handbook: or Pretending to be a God
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2009, 11:32:20 PM »

Entry Requirements

Skills:

Bluff 8 ranks
Knowledge (arcane) or (religion) 2 ranks
Perform (act) 4 ranks
Spellcraft 2 ranks

Feats:

Skill Focus (Bluff)

Relatively easy to get into wouldn't you say?


Charlatan Features

[spoiler]
  • Moderate BAB
  • Good Will Saves
  • 6+(Int mod) Skill Points
  • No proficiencies with weapons or armors
  • Full of EX abilities that emulate spells


Average to poor for a skill oriented Prc.[/spoiler]


Class Abilities

False Reputation(ex): Basically you start spreading a load of Bull about your prowess as a mage. Knowledge, Gather Info, and Bardic Knowledge pick up on these lies and, unless they score 10 or more above the appropriate DCs, they'll believe it.

Pretender(ex): A class level circumstance bonus to Disguise checks to impersonate a mage(arcane or divine).

Tricks of the Trade(ex): Through the use of some handy dandy alchemical items, such as Flash Paper and Smoke Powder, you can emmulate Burning Hands and Flare at 1st level and Glitterdust, Obscuring Mist, and Pyrotechnics at 3rd level. These are NOT actual spells so they bypass SR and work just fine in Anti-magic fields and such. Saves are still required however and considering your caster level is your Charlatan level they won't be extremely high. You can use them 1+(Charlatan level)+(Cha mod) per day. Still its kinda fun to watch the BBEG stare in shock as you appear to bypass his AMF trap.

(All this and you're only now moving on to level two.)

Feigned Casting(ex): You can pretend to cast any spell that doesn't contain a visual manifestation (no Fireballs but something like Mind Blank is ok) via a Bluff check opposed by Sense Motive or Spellcraft. Opponents get bonuses if they can't see or hear you. The "spell" doesn't actually affect anyone but with a few helpful "volunteers" you can pull off a pretty decent bluff.

Fortune Teller's Eye(ex): With a minute of study and a Sense Motive you can figure out something about the target. Half its alignment, basic class abilities, even power level(based on class or cr). These tid bits can be used to "divine" something about the target. Could be used as a crowd pleaser at cocktail parties I guess.

Steal the Credit(ex): "Feel that earthquake last night? Yeah that was me." or "My friend the fighter was under my control when he took down that arch-fiend the other day." are some samples of what one might proclaim when you've got this ability. Add a +4 circumstance bonus to bluff when you try to take credit for something you didn't have any part in. Make sure you read up on the daily happenings around town so your bluffs seem even more impressive.

(Starting to see where one could go with this? It only gets better now that you're moving on to level three.)

Fearsome Reputation(ex): "Do you know who I am?" You can draw on your reputation to scare opponents. As a full round action you can Bluff to make any who hear you shaken for 1d4 rounds. Save? What save? Its a Sense Motive to beat this little gem. If they manage to see through your Bluff they're immune for a week and the ability doesn't stack with itself but still...seriously...Do you KNOW who I am?!? Use in combination with Lesser Mind Trick or its Greater version.

Lesser Mind Trick(ex): Bluff casting one of these following spells on someone and, if they don't make the sense motive, it actually works! The list is short but sweet...Charm Person, Command, Scare(one creature only), or Tasha's Hideous Laughter. They're mind affecting and language dependant so that limits the targets. The spells themselves also tend to limit the kinds and power of targets available. If they make the check they're immune for a week. You get to use this ability a number of times per day as with Tricks of the Trade. Your caster level is your Charlatan level and any spell that would last more than one hour fizzles at the end of an hour.

(That was pretty cool huh? On to level four.)

Master of Lies(ex): You're so deeply sunk in your own Bull that divination spells only pick up on the Bull and get nothing on your real identity. There is some debate about whether this is a permanent effect or whether it can be turned on and off. I'm prone to believe it can be turned on and off. If it can't be playing a Changeling just got a little less interesting.

Fake Healing(ex): "By the power of Olidammara I command you sickeness...BEGONE!" Fake an Atonement, Remove Curse, or Remove Disease a number of times per day and with an ECL as stated above. They beleive they've been healed if they don't beat your bluff check for 1d4 hours. They still suffer all the effects but you've covered them in so much Bull that they can't tell the difference. "The heir of a major shipping company is on death's bed? Sure I can help...for a small fee. By the way when does the next ship out of town depart?"

Distracting Dispel(ex): You pull out all the stops on this one to fake a counterspell. You prep a counterspell action (only without the actual spell) and Bluff the caster (opposed by their Concentration check). If you beat them they lose the spell as if it had actually been counterspelled. You've got to be seen and heard by the caster for this to work and it only works once against a particular caster...but still. You can also disrupt and dispell an ongoing spell by bluffing (vs concentration).

(But wait...there's more!)

Greater Mind Trick(ex): As with Lesser Mind Trick only you get even better spells. Bestow Curse(non-physical feature effects), Crushing Dispair(one creature only), Fear(one creature only), and Suggestion. Number of times per day, ECL, and length as Lesser Mind Trick.

Puppet Master(ex): As a full day's work you can pile on the Bull to change a whole cities feelings about someone. Spread rumors, form mobs, give speaches, etc. For each day's work you can shift a cities feelings one step up or down. The target can attempt to counter and make your check harder if they desire. The DC is also based on the population center's size. 15+5 per community size based on the DMG's list on page 137 so DC 20 for a thorp and 55 for a metropolis.

« Last Edit: December 03, 2009, 12:30:02 AM by Shigure »
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Shigure

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Re: The Charlatan Handbook: or Pretending to be a God
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2009, 11:32:36 PM »

Attributes

  • Strength: You're not supposed to be in combat...you're a "mage" and party face for peets sake. This is a dump stat.
  • Dexterity: If you plan on using Distracting Dispel or using any of your other class features to defuse the situation before combat can get started you'd better at least have a positive stat here. Fair to moderate importance.
  • Constitution: Like anyone you enjoy a positive Con mod. Since you've probably been a d4 or d6 all your life prior to this class you'll appreciate it even more.
  • Intelligence: Your second most important attribute. You're a skill monkey so Int is obvious. You're also a conniving SoB which also requires intelligence. You try pulling this off without a decent Int with me as your DM and you'll be laughed out of the building.
  • Wisdom: You've already got a decent Will save. I wouldn't call this a dump stat but you certainly don't want it low.
  • Charisma: Your #1 Stat. Max this sucker out.


Suggested Races

You're looking for a race with good Charisma and Intelligence obviously...or at least something that doesn't take a hit to either of those stats. CO people tend to like small creatures too.

LA +0
  • Human: An obvious choice.
  • Gnome: This class is right up the Gnome's ally. Your SLAs will come in handy if you need to back up your claims with some actual magic. Gnomes also give you a free Con boost while taking a hit in a dump stat. Small too.
  • Half Elf: Some minor skill boosts but nothing really worth noting unless you choose to use the Half Elf Bard substitution levels. Even then its not amazing.
  • Gray Elf: Better than its PHB cousin but the Con hit still hurts.
  • Changeling: Simply Amazing. If you take the Rogue substitution levels it gets even better. Always take a 10 on Bluffs? Hells yes! My choice for best non LA adjusted race.
  • Lesser Drow: Not bad. Not bad. Politics in the Underdark.
  • Lesser Feytouched: Again not bad...but not ideal.
  • More Later...

LA +1
  • Death Touched: From Dragon 313. A +4 Cha and +2 Wis with a -2 to Con. Sure i'd take it even with the Con hit.
  • Chaos Gnome: Could be fun.
  • More Later...



« Last Edit: December 03, 2009, 12:30:27 AM by Shigure »
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Shigure

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Re: The Charlatan Handbook: or Pretending to be a God
« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2009, 11:32:55 PM »

Classes

With its easy to meet entry requirements the Charlatan Prc can be picked up by just about anyone with access to the Bluff skill. Whether a class/character should or not is really the question here.

Bard - Bards are the one core class that can enter Charlatan without purchasing cross class skills or without taking advantage of any substitution levels or alternate class features. Bard is also the only core class, aside from Sorcerer, whos primary stat is charisma. Add in some very useful social class features and spells and you've got a strong option. Glibness makes for a tempting target but that forces you to wait till eighth level minimum before getting into Charlatan and by then there are better options out there for Bards...especially since you'd be giving up caster levels...and we all know how socially acceptable that is on these boards. The spellcasting can help you get into other Prcs though...so its something to consider.

Sorcerer - Some cross class skill purchasing here but it's still Charisma based which is a plus. The spellcasting can help you get into other Prcs before or after Charlatan. The spells would also help support your lies but again you're losing caster levels so this is suboptimal.

Rogue - A tiny bit of cross class skill purchasing here as well...unless you take the changeling sub levels(and why wouldn't you?). Rogues fit the role the best of all the core classes. They're not typically charisma based, as they lean more often towards intellegence and dexterity, but it's easy enough to make a social rogue by degrading the dexterity reliance and choosing predominantly social skills. This is where the changeling sub levels from RoE shine. 10+(Int mod) skills, one free Knowledge of your choice(arcane), faster Gather Infos and Sense Motives, and taking tens on Bluff, Diplomacy, Gather Info, Intimidate, and Sense Motive. All this added on to the Changelings already stellar social abilities. The inclusion of Sneak Attack gives you some ability to defend yourself if needs be and it makes killing the noble you've cozied up to a tad bit easier as well. All in all a superb choice.

Wizard - Normally going Wizard wouldn't be too hot an idea. You're losing casting with Charlatan. That should be enough to put you off your game right there. However...the Social Proficiency Enchanter option from UA makes me, at least, sit up and take notice. And again the casting ability could help get you into another Prc.

Factotum - Without the Changeling Rogue levels Factotums make Rogues cry. Heck even with the Changeling levels Factotums can make Rogues cry. Int is your second most important stat and Factotums make heavy use of said stat. All skills as class skills means no cross class buying for you. Inspiration means your Int mod or your Factotum level to just about everything under the sun, cleric like abilities with some minor turn undead and healing, Wiz/Sorc spells as SLAs, etc. The class even provides you with a helpful cut off point just where you need it. The SLAs and the holy abilities are a real steal here as they make you more believeable. And in this case they're not your primary class feature so jumping into Charlatan isn't loosing you as much as it would with, say, Sorcerer or Wizard.

Beguiler - You're already a liar and a cheat...Charlatan just allows you to lie in new and more interesting ways. I'd take Beguiler over Sorcerer every time if I was playing a Charlatan.

Spellthief - Less optimal than a Changeling Rogue. You can borrow a few spells or SLAs from a friend to make yourself more believeable and cast a few of your own...the casting's even Charisma based...but still not as good imo.

Warlock - An interesting choice. Some cross class skill buying obviously but not much. Detect Magic at will, 10s on UMD, a Least Invocation that boosts your social skills, other Invocations that mimic spells, and a small but useful combat blast in case you get into trouble. I enjoy Warlocks despite their less than optimal status in the tier rankings. You're not even giving up as much by crossing over to Charlatan as you would if you were a normal caster. A solid choice in my book.

JesterDragComp1 - Similar to Bards in most cases. I like the class, and it fits well with the style and theme of the Charlatan, but its just not that good. It doesn't even have access to Glibness.

MountebankDragComp1 - Like a more social Warlock this has Charlatan written all over it. If it weren't for the fact that Beguiling Stare, like most of the rest of its class abilities, was based on half your Mountebank level i'd jump on this a lot more often. As it is its themeatically strong but weak design wise. Still...kinda fun.

NobleDragonlance - Another interesting choice. Charisma based, all the right skills, and abilities that are quite useful in a social setting. Not amazing but a fun choice if you like playing someone of a higher social class than the average adventurer. Basically a PC version of the NPC Aristocrat class.


Additional Prestige Classes

Mountebank(prc)CS - Adding your Int mod to your Bluff checks helps Mountebank make the list. It requires a fairly useless feat however which sours it for a lot of people. Less useful for changelings since they've already got a much more useful version of Alter Self. The Sneak Attack progression is nice, slippery mind is decent, and the tenth level ability allows you to escape if you find youself in a jam. Not an ideal Prc but appropriate for a Charlatan.

Master of MasksCS - Also useful and very appropriate for a Charlatan. The Archmage and High Priest masks are especially tempting as they offer you some SLAs to wow people with. Also offers 4/10 casting progression for any casting levels you may or may not have.

ExemplarCV - You should be able to waltz right into this Prc once you've completed Charlatan(this is assuming you entered after five levels of a base class or some such). It offers a few interesting bonuses but what you want is at first level. +4 bonus to bluff and the ability to take a ten on a small number of skills. Nice if you haven't taken the Changeling Rogue sub levels.

SpymasterCV - Not too hard to get into but many of its abilities are either copies/similar to something you've already got...only so so.

ChameleonRoD - Paydirt. A favorite of the CO community the Chameleon is an awesome choice for a Charlatan. Allows you to make your act all the more convincing. And if you get found out you can do something like this..."*sigh* No that would be my brother you're seeking. Yes he's an accomplished mage. No i'm a humble (insert class here) and I can prove it." Works best as a changeling but also excellent as a human.

Cabinet TricksterRoE - Another fun choice for a Changeling. Not as cool as a Chameleon imo but a great choice if you're going spy.

MindbenderCA - If you chose to take a starting class that had arcane casting with access to Charm Person this Prc is a fun one level dip for the 100 foot telepathy. Take it at sixth level and grab the Mindsight feat before jumping into Charlatan. If it weren't for the requirement for Arcane caster level five you might even be able to get into this class via Charlatan itself.

More to come...
« Last Edit: December 03, 2009, 12:28:31 AM by Shigure »
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Shigure

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Re: The Charlatan Handbook: or Pretending to be a God
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2009, 11:33:12 PM »
Class Skills

  • Appraise - You won't need this.
  • Bluff - Your number one skill. Max it out.
  • Concentration - If you took a class with spell casting this would probably be good to keep high.
  • Craft(any) - Poison crafting could be useful...Alchemy too...if you've got the casting required.
  • Diplomacy - If Bluffing should fail this may be necessary. And as you're a party face for all intents and purposes you should have this.
  • Disguise - You're a con man. Of course you have this.
  • Forgery - You're a con man. You should probably have this too.
  • Gather Information - Decent. Especially in a social setting.
  • Hide - If all else fails hiding may be what saves your life from the mobs.
  • Intimidate - You can bluff them into submission. Still its a decent skill to have.
  • Knowledge(Arcana) - As good as always.
  • Knowledge(Local) - Not as hot as the other two knowledges you have access to.
  • Knowledge(Religion) - As good as always.
  • Listen - If you need to sneak this is a good skill to have.
  • Move Silently - As above.
  • Perform - You're required to have 4 ranks in Acting but the class features don't use it. Still a canny DM might require its use for some of your more fantastic capers.
  • Profession - You're a con man. You don't need to make an honest living.
  • Search - Leave it to the trap finder. If you're the trap finder then...well yeah.
  • Sense Motive - You're a con man and a face. Necessary in social settings.
  • Sleight of Hand - Good if you need to pull alchemical items out without someone seeing you do it.
  • Speak Language - Tongues kills this skill but I still enjoy it.
  • Spellcraft - Useful if you're a former spellcaster.
  • Spot - Not bad to have.
  • Use Magic Device - Excellent choice. It helps you back up your claims to fame AND is just dead useful to begin with.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2009, 01:06:10 AM by Shigure »
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Shigure

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Re: The Charlatan Handbook: or Pretending to be a God
« Reply #5 on: December 02, 2009, 11:33:43 PM »
Reserved...
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Re: The Charlatan Handbook: or Pretending to be a God
« Reply #6 on: December 02, 2009, 11:41:46 PM »
 :eh
Oh I definitely want to contribute to this one ... lemme see if I have that issue.
 :D

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Re: The Charlatan Handbook: or Pretending to be a God
« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2009, 12:55:29 AM »
Looks good so far and my mom has a winter coat that matches the head [img]; really she does.

Shigure

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Re: The Charlatan Handbook: or Pretending to be a God
« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2009, 01:08:36 AM »
Looks good so far and my mom has a winter coat that matches the head [img]; really she does.

Shudder... -_-'

Still working on this obviously and always looking for new input.
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Re: The Charlatan Handbook: or Pretending to be a God
« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2009, 01:42:48 AM »
Man, that picture totally brings me back to 2E style Dragon magazine art.  Cool idea for a handbook, btw :)

Let's see...here's some suggestions and additions - most anything that makes a diplomancer good will work for the Charlatan as well:

Classes:
-Binder: Bind Naberius and you can take 10 on bluff and diplomacy, get command every 5 rounds, and do diplomacy as a standard action with no penalty (when you actually want to ask for help instead of bluff).  Really, 1 level is all you need for Binder.
-Marshal: Boost your Cha with your Cha aura!  Also, Skill Focus (Diplomacy) for free.

Skill tricks (Complete scoundrel):
-Any of the social interaction ones are good.  Social recovery, false theurgy, second impression, conceal spellcasting, and timely misdirection are all solid.

Feats:
-Fade into violence (PHB II): Bluff vs. opponent's Sense Motive: if you succeed, the opponent hits your ally instead of you.  Especially good if you have an ally who wants to be hit, like a Crusader.
-Master Manipulator (PHB II): More of a diplomacy one, but you can give opponents -4 to their sense motive checks.
-Wanderer's Diplomacy (PHB II): Some new uses for diplomacy, sense motive, and bluff.  The diplomacy is something you could already sorta do though, the sense motive is of limited use, and social agility is only good if you dumped Diplomacy.  So overall not great, but it's a social feat nonetheless.
-Combat Panache (PHB II): Some very good bluff-based abilities - redirect a foe's attack to his ally, and play dead to gain sneak attack, as well as an intimidate maneuver.

Shigure

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Re: The Charlatan Handbook: or Pretending to be a God
« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2009, 08:45:41 AM »
Not as familiar with the ToM classes as I should be so Binder didn't occur to me. Marshal, however, i'm familiar with. Sad that I forgot. I'll add both once I've read up on Binder a bit.

Still compiling feats and skill tricks. Will add those to the list.

Thanks for the input.
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Re: The Charlatan Handbook: or Pretending to be a God
« Reply #11 on: December 07, 2009, 01:32:03 AM »
How about an advantages section, comparing you to a real Wizard?  Because that's what I see as the classes biggest weakness is that your just some weird Pseudo caster.  Although a Factotum/Chameleon/Charlatan would be rather strange on spellcasting it doesn't seam like it even touches the wizard.
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Re: The Charlatan Handbook: or Pretending to be a God
« Reply #12 on: December 07, 2009, 02:46:49 AM »
How about an advantages section, comparing you to a real Wizard?  Because that's what I see as the classes biggest weakness is that your just some weird Pseudo caster.  Although a Factotum/Chameleon/Charlatan would be rather strange on spellcasting it doesn't seam like it even touches the wizard.

It's obviously intended for aristocrats.
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Hitoshura

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Re: The Charlatan Handbook: or Pretending to be a God
« Reply #13 on: December 07, 2009, 05:10:50 AM »
Quote
ChameleonRoD - Paydirt. A favorite of the CO community the Chameleon is an awesome choice for a Charlatan. Allows you to make your act all the more convincing. And if you get found out you can do something like this..."*sigh* No that would be my brother you're seeking. Yes he's an accomplished mage. No i'm a humble (insert class here) and I can prove it." Works best as a changeling but also excellent as a human.

Isn't Chameleon for Humans and Doppelgangers only? How can a Changeling qualify?
I didn't know Charlatan, seems plenty fun, gonna try soon...

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Re: The Charlatan Handbook: or Pretending to be a God
« Reply #14 on: December 07, 2009, 05:41:07 AM »
iirc, there's a mention that in eberron changeligs qualify as well.
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Aliment

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Re: The Charlatan Handbook: or Pretending to be a God
« Reply #15 on: December 13, 2009, 09:39:31 PM »
How about an advantages section, comparing you to a real Wizard?  Because that's what I see as the classes biggest weakness is that your just some weird Pseudo caster.  Although a Factotum/Chameleon/Charlatan would be rather strange on spellcasting it doesn't seam like it even touches the wizard.

It's obviously intended for aristocrats.
NPC Prestige Classes?  Now that's a new one.
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Re: The Charlatan Handbook: or Pretending to be a God
« Reply #16 on: December 13, 2009, 09:43:42 PM »
How about an advantages section, comparing you to a real Wizard?  Because that's what I see as the classes biggest weakness is that your just some weird Pseudo caster.  Although a Factotum/Chameleon/Charlatan would be rather strange on spellcasting it doesn't seam like it even touches the wizard.

It's obviously intended for aristocrats.
NPC Prestige Classes?  Now that's a new one.
Yeah, like Hexer or Survivor.
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Re: The Charlatan Handbook: or Pretending to be a God
« Reply #17 on: December 13, 2009, 10:09:49 PM »
iirc, there's a mention that in eberron changeligs qualify as well.

Said note is actually within the preview (or was it an excerpt?) with the class.

Shigure

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Re: The Charlatan Handbook: or Pretending to be a God
« Reply #18 on: December 13, 2009, 11:32:50 PM »
Still working on this.

I will grant it doesn't have many advantages over a standard caster...if any at all. What it does have is style, fun mechanics, and a way to expand on Bluff artists in new and exciting ways. I'll do a write up on various specialties and advantages once i've gotten the basics down.
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Re: The Charlatan Handbook: or Pretending to be a God
« Reply #19 on: December 14, 2009, 12:31:06 AM »
How about an advantages section, comparing you to a real Wizard?  Because that's what I see as the classes biggest weakness is that your just some weird Pseudo caster.  Although a Factotum/Chameleon/Charlatan would be rather strange on spellcasting it doesn't seam like it even touches the wizard.

It's obviously intended for aristocrats.
NPC Prestige Classes?  Now that's a new one.
Yeah, like Hexer or Survivor.

I've heard of Survivor (Commoner gets in because it requires "class level greater than all saves" or something), Hexer?