General Prestige Class : Tainted Scholar
"Cost? Gold is a cost. Servitude is a cost. My soul is not a cost - or it's one I don't mind paying." -Thavik of Donegan, a tainted scholar
Great secrets await those minds skilled enough to unearth them, and great secrets unlock great power. let others speak in fearful whispers of secrets humanity was not meant to know. No secret is barred from a tainted scholar's grasp, and if such forbidden knowledge comes at the cost of his soul, he's willing to pay that price.
Any arcane spellcasting class provides relatively easy access to the path of the tainted scholar. Because they are more inclined toward scholarship than many other arcane spellcasters, dread necromancers and wizards (particularly specialist necromancers) are the most common tainted scholars, but sorcerers, wu jen, warmages, and even warlocks find their way into the class. The most significant requirement is having a moderate or greater amount of depravity, which the character might experience as a drawback until he acquires enough depravity to enter this class (at which point it helps rather than hinders him).
To qualify to become a Tainted Scholar, a character must fulfill all the following criteria:
- Skills: Concentration 8 ranks, Knowledge (arcana) 4 ranks
- Spellcasting: Ability to cast 1st-level arcane spells or use least invocations (warlock)
- Taint: Moderate or greater depravity
Skill Points at Each Level: 2 + Int modifier.
Like the loremaster class, your class features are built around uncovering secrets. Your secrets, however, relate to magical practices that many consider abhorrent - and indeed, your use of blood in your spellcasting is an abomination to most.
Spellcasting: At each level, you gain new spells per day and an increase in caster level (and spells known, if applicable) as if you had also gained a level in an arcane spellcasting class to which you belonged before adding the prestige class level. You do not, however, gain any other benefit a character of that class would have gained. If you belonged to more than one arcane spellcasting class before becoming a tainted scholar, you must choose to which class to add each level for the purpose of determining spells per day, caster level, and spells known.
Blood Component (Su): You can substitute a drop of your own blood for a spell's material component (if any), and in so doing increase the spell's power. The pinprick or minor knife cut to draw the requisite blood is a free action (just like using a material component) that becomes a normal part of casting the spell. Using this ability deals 1 point of damage to the tainted scholar but raises the spell's caster level by 1. Damage reduction, if you have any, doesn't apply to this damage.
If a spell has a costly material component (greater than 1 gp), you must still provide it but can use this ability to enhance the spell if you desire. You can similarly enhance a spell that has no material component.
Level Advancement: The power of taint is seductive. Once you have tasted its attractions, it is hard to resist. If you wish to advance a level in another class after taking your first level as a tainted scholar, 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 tainted scholar 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.
Once you reach 10th level as a tainted scholar, you can freely advance in other classes.
Tainted Spellcasting (Su): Rather than using a key ability score for spellcasting, you use your corruption and depravity scores. To cast a spell, you must have a depravity score at least equal to the spell's level. Your bonus spells are based on a number equal to your depravity score + to, and saving throws against your spells have a DC of 10 + spell level + 1/2 your corruption score. For example, a tainted scholar with a depravity score of 3 would gain bonus spells as a wizard with an Intelligence score of 13 or a sorcerer with a Charisma score of 13. You accumulate taint for casting your spells. Each time you cast an arcane spell, you must make a Will save (DC 10 + spell level) or increase your depravity score by 1. All arcane spells you cast are evil spells.
Taint Suppression: You are likely to accumulate high corruption and depravity scores, but this taint is not immediately obvious to onlookers. Your depravity manifests in the normal range of mental symptoms, but you can replace any physical symptom of corruption with the internal corruption symptom. If you enter a tainted area, your corruption immediately manifests externally again, and you regain the physical symptoms you exchanged for internal corruption, if any. These physical symptoms disappear again 1d4 days after you leave a tainted area. Otherwise, it is impossible to tell from external appearance that you carry corruption.
Secret: In your studies, you unearth all sorts of useful forbidden knowledge.
At 2nd level, and again at 4th, 6th, 8th, and 10th level, choose a secret from the table below. Your class level plus your depravity score determines which secrets you can choose: The table shows the minimum requirement for each secret. You can't choose the same secret twice. The details of each secret are given after the table.
|Tainted Scholar Secrets|
|Min. Level + Depravity||Secret|
|4||Clarity of true madness|
|7||Thicker than water|
|10||Greater forbidden arcana|
Blooded Metamagic: This secret allows you to apply a metamagic feat you know to a spell you cast by paying an additional cost in blood. By draining your own blood, you can enhance your spells without using a higher-level spell slot. The cost is a number of points of Constitution damage equal to the spell slot adjustment of the metamagic feat. Thus, casting an empowered vampiric touch spell costs you 2 points of Constitution damage, because an empowered spell uses up a spell slot two levels higher than normal. You cannot enhance a spell to a level higher than you can cast. For example, you must be at least a 9th-level caster to cast an empowered vampiric touch spell (or at least 10th-level, if you are casting as a sorcerer), since the empowered spell would require a 5th-level spell slot.
If you do not have a Constitution score, you cannot use this ability.
Stanch (Ex): This secret allows you to become stable automatically when your hit points drop below 0. You still die if you reach -10 hit points or below.
Death Knell (Sp): This secret grants you the ability to use death knell once per day as a spell-like ability.
Clarity of True Madness (Su): Once per day, this secret allows you to add your depravity score as a bonus on one Wisdom-based skill check or Will save. You must choose to use this benefit before the check or save is rolled.
Wholesome Corruption (Su): Once per day, this secret allows you to add your corruption score as a bonus on one Concentration check or Fortitude save. You must choose to use this benefit before the check or save is rolled.
Bloodseeking Spell (Su): This secret grants you the ability to imbue your spells with the ability to draw blood from their targets. To use this ability, you must inflict a minor wound on yourself; this is a free action that deals 3 points of damage to you and becomes a normal part of casting the spell. Damage reduction, if you have any, doesn't apply to this damage.
A bloodseeking spell deals an extra 1d6 points of damage to each target that takes damage from the spell. You can't apply this ability to any spell that doesn't deal damage. This extra damage applies only to spells that deal hit point damage, not to spells that deal ability damage, ability drain, or other kinds of damage. Constructs, elementals, oozes, plants, undead, and any creatures without blood or a similar substance within their bodies are immune.
Thicker Than Water (Su): This secret grants you partial conscious control over your own vital fluids. When you are injured, your blood withdraws from the wound, preventing some damage. This effect gives you damage reduction 1/piercing and slashing.
Tainted Knowledge: This secret grants you a bonus tainted feat, chosen from the list of tainted feats.
Forbidden Arcana: This secret grants you the ability to use one additional 1st-level spell per day, as if gained through having a high ability or depravity score.
Greater Forbidden Arcana: This secret grants you the ability to use one additional 2nd-level spell per day, as if gained through having a high ability or depravity score.
Lore: Tainted scholars gather knowledge. At 3rd level, you gain the ability to know legends or information regarding various topics, just as a bard can with bardic knowledge. You add your tainted scholar class level and your Intelligence modifier to this lore check. You can add your depravity score instead of your Intelligence modifier to any lore check dealing with supernatural, horrific, tainted, or otherwise forbidden subjects, at the DM's discretion.
Outré Lore (Sp): Beginning at 5th level, your knowledge of lore beyond the realm of common experience is broadened and magically augmented. Once per day, you can use contact other plane as a spell-like ability. If your Intelligence and Charisma temporarily decrease as a result of using this ability, you must make a Will save or have your depravity score increased by 1. The DC for this Will save equals the DC of the Intelligence check to avoid the ability score decrease +10. Thus, if you contact an Elemental Plane (spell DC 7), the DC is 17; if you contact a greater deity on an Outer Plane (spell DC 16), the DC is 26.
Aberrant Lore: At 7th level, you gain an innate understanding of objects, places, and creatures that carry the taint of evil. By concentrating as a full-round action and focusing your attention on a creature, object, or specific site within 60 feet of you, you can determine if it carries or transmits taint.
In the case of a creature, you can determine the strength of its higher taint score (corruption or depravity): mild, moderate, or severe. In the case of an object, by spending a full hour examining it you can determine its magic properties as if you had cast an identify spell on it.
In the case of a location, you can determine its magical properties, if it has any, in the same way as with an object. If it has no magical properties but is tainted by some horrific event in the past, you receive a vision of the event. Examining a location requires you to spend 1 hour in the location.
Heretical Lore: Beginning at 9th level, you gain contacts among the evil creatures of the planes. These beings can rescue you from extreme situations or otherwise grant your wishes. As often as once per day, you can call upon these entities to grant you a limited wish, with no XP cost attached. However, using this ability increases your corruption and depravity scores by 1d3 points each, and results in the imposition of a geas/quest that requires you to perform some evil act in repayment for the favor.
|Tainted Scholar||Hit Die: d6|
|1st||+0||+0||+0||+2||Blood component, level advancement, tainted spellcasting, taint suppression||+1 level of existing arcane spellcasting class|
|2nd||+1||+0||+0||+3||Secret||+1 level of existing arcane spellcasting class|
|3rd||+1||+1||+1||+3||Lore||+1 level of existing arcane spellcasting class|
|4th||+2||+1||+1||+4||Secret||+1 level of existing arcane spellcasting class|
|5th||+2||+1||+1||+4||Outré lore||+1 level of existing arcane spellcasting class|
|6th||+3||+2||+2||+5||Secret||+1 level of existing arcane spellcasting class|
|7th||+3||+2||+2||+5||Aberrant lore||+1 level of existing arcane spellcasting class|
|8th||+4||+2||+2||+6||Secret||+1 level of existing arcane spellcasting class|
|9th||+4||+3||+3||+6||Heretical lore||+1 level of existing arcane spellcasting class|
|10th||+5||+3||+3||+7||Secret||+1 level of existing arcane spellcasting class|
Tainted Scholar Lore
Characters with Knowledge (arcana) can research tainted scholars to learn more about them.
- DC 10: Some wizards and other spellcasters are obsessed with uncovering secrets that mortal minds were not meant to know-to their ultimate ruin.
- DC 15: Tainted scholars practice an ancient and evil form of magic that uses blood as a component. In their obsessive drive to uncover secrets and mysteries of magic, they destroy their own souls to gain greater power.
- DC 20: These scholars embrace the taint of evil and use it to power their spells. They learn secrets that improve their spellcasting, toughen their bodies, and grant them unearthly knowledge.
- DC 30: A success at this DC grants information about the activities of a local cabal of tainted scholars or a prominent individual scholar.
Source: Heroes of Horror