Faerûnian Prestige Class : Court Herald
The court herald prestige class presented here is a modified version of the loremaster prestige class.
After a character decides to become a court herald, the individual is visited (without warning) by two experienced heralds, who furnish the new herald with basic books of blazonry and lore, tomes about herb-lore and poisons and their antidotes, blank ledgers, and writing materials. The two will try to answer any questions the novice herald puts to them, and will provide a few names, locations, and means of contacting local heralds, sages, and Harpers. They will later return to observe the new herald (so, as to be able to report the new herald's deeds and demeanor to senior heralds), but might not always reveal their presence to the new herald when doing so.
To qualify to become a Court Herald, a character must fulfill all the following criteria:
- Skills: Bluff 4 ranks, Diplomacy 6 ranks, Gather Information 8 ranks, Knowledge (history) 10 ranks, Knowledge (nobility and royalty) 10 ranks, Sense Motive 4 ranks
- Feats: Skill Focus (Knowledge [any single knowledge skill]).
- Special: Must speak at least three languages.
The court herald's class skills are Bluff, Concentration, Decipher Script, Diplomacy, Forgery, Gather Information, Intimidate, Knowledge (any), Listen, Perform, Sense Motive, Speak Language, Spot, and Use Magic Device.
Skill Points at Each Level: 4 + Int modifier.
The class features of the court herald, by and large, are all about gaining and retaining knowledge. If information is power, then a highly experienced court herald is a formidable individual indeed.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: A court herald is proficient with all simple and martial weapons, and with light armor.
Spells: A court herald casts arcane spells from the court herald spell list. She casts these spells without needing to prepare them beforehand or keep a spellbook. Court heralds receive bonus spells for high Charisma. To cast a spell, a court herald must have a Charisma score of 10 + the level of the spell. The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against a court herald's spell is 10 + the spell's level + the court herald's Charisma modifier. A court herald's effective casting level is equal to her court herald class level.
Secret: In their studies, court heralds come across many secrets and snippets of relevant practical knowledge. Upon attaining a level at which a secret is gained, you choose a secret from Table 6-3. The same secret can't be chosen twice. A court herald's class level plus Intelligence modifier determines the total number of secrets she can choose.
Lore: In their studies, court heralds acquire knowledge and learn to retain and recall it. At 2nd level, you gain the ability to know legends or information pertaining to various topics. This knowledge is categorized as per bardic knowledge (see Bard). A court herald adds her class level and her Intelligence modifier to the lore check.
Mindsee: At 2nd level, you gain the ability to remember a single scene perfectly, in exhaustive detail, not forgetting it until she desires to. This is a "frozen moment," chosen by silent act of will, of something you see. It retains the focus, field of view, and lighting conditions of your viewing. For every additional court herald level attained, you gain the ability to memorize an additional scene (without relinquishing the first one). These scenes can be retained for years, vanishing only upon your death, the physical loss of your brain, or as the result of certain spell attacks. Court heralds typically use this power to remember a blazon perfectly for later copying or comparison, but can also use it to keep a perfect likeness of a being in mind, remember who was present at a particular meeting, or the presence and precise descriptions of particular items.
Bonus Language: As your studies progress, you acquire new language skills as you decipher older heraldic records from afar. Because many, of the most prized heraldic tomes (typically brought to a local herald by a Pursuivant and carried away again after some exhausting days of study) are enspelled to utter spoken tongue fragments as their written counterparts are touched, court heralds can learn entire new languages (written and spoken forms). Upon attaining a level at which a language is gained, you can select any known Faerûnian language (including dead ones).
Greater Lore (Ex): At 7th level, you gain the ability to understand unfamiliar magic items, as if employing an identify spell.
Bonus Feat: At 9th level, you can select a bonus feat from among those for which you meet the prerequisites.
Skill Mastery: At 10th level, you select a number of skills equal to 3 + your Int modifier. When making a check using one of these skills, you can take 10 even if stress and distractions would normally prevent you from doing so. You become so certain in those skills that you can use them reliably even under adverse conditions.
True Lore (Ex): At 11th level, you can use your knowledge to gain the effect of a legend lore spell or an analyze dweomer spell once per day.
Spell Resistance: At 12th level, you gain spell resistance equal to your character level.
Court Herald Spell List
- 0 Level - arcane mark, dancing lights, detect magic, detect poison, light, mage hand, mending, message, open close, read magic.
- 1st Level - alarm, comprehend languages, erase, feather fall, identify, mage armor, silence, silent image, unseen servant.
- 2nd Level - arcane lock, blur, darkness, darkvision, detect thoughts, eagle's splendor, invisibility, levitate, locate object, magic mouth, minor image, mirror image, misdirection, obscure object, owl's wisdom, see invisibility, spider climb, whispering wind.
- 3rd Level - arcane sight, clairaudience clairvoyance, daylight, detect scrying, dispel magic, explosive runes, illusory script, major image, nondetection, secret page, shrink item, suggestion, tongues, water breathing.
- 4th Level - arcane eye, bestow curse, confusion, detect scrying, dimension door, dimensional anchor, illusory wall, locate creature, minor creation, neutralize poison, rainbow pattern, remove curse, scrying.
- 5th Level - break enchantment, dominate person, dream, fabricate, false vision, feeblemind, major creation, nightmare, permanency, persistent image, prying eyes, seeming, symbol of pain, symbol of sleep, sending, telekinesis.
- 6th Level - analyze dweomer, antimagic field, contingency, guards and wards, legend lore, mass eagle's splendor, mass suggestion, mislead, permanent image, programmed image, symbol of fear, symbol of persuasion, true seeing.
|Court Herald||Hit Dice: d4|
|Court Herald Spells Known|
|*Provided the herald has sufficient Charisma to have a bonus spell of this level.|
|Court Herald Secrets|
|Level + Int Mod||Secret||Effect|
|1||Instant mastery||4 ranks of a skill in which the character has no ranks|
|2||Secret health||+3 hit points|
|3||Secrets of inner strength||+2 bonus on Will saves|
|4||The lore of true stamina||+2 bonus on Fortitude saves|
|5||Secret knowledge of avoidance||+2 bonus on Reflex saves|
|6||Deeper understanding||6 ranks in any single Knowledge skill|
|7||Dodge trick||+1 bonus to AC|
|8||Applicable knowledge||Any one feat|
|9||Newfound arcana||1 bonus 1st-level spell*|
|10||Deeper arcana||1 bonus spell of any level*|
|*As if gained through having a high ability score.|
Playing a Court Herald
If you're a herald adventuring in a band, you're very likely a court herald undertaking particularly dangerous missions for your ruler (during which your fellow adventurers serve as bodyguards, vigilants, and "cover" to conceal your real activities), or a court herald in disgrace or whose successes brought unwanted public prominence, now lying low for a time in wilderland areas and keeping busy by undertaking dangerous missions for the crown (such as "explore those old ruins or caves we keep hearing about - all these reports of strange monsters or spells going off"). Playing the Tabard herald Gauntlet, tracking down adventuring bands everywhere, would also make for a fascinating campaign.
Local court heralds sometimes join adventuring bands temporarily or repeatedly, if this is the only way to survive "going in and getting out" of dangerous territory to carry out their duties. If a brigand has given himself a title and unlawful blazon, how else to reach him and correct things alive? (And what better way for a ruler to send along a few secret messages or instructions to be conveyed to others in the area during the journey?)
Information gathering (spying) is almost always the chief duty of any adventuring court herald, who won't be in this situation in the first place if they don't work for a fairly trusting, tolerant ruler who expects them to "make a little on the side" through adventuring, to support themselves, and doesn't mind if the adventuring band they're part of "stirs things up" wherever they're adventuring. Rulers tend to regard adventuring bands as the best way to promote their influence in areas too remote, dangerous, or sparsely settled to be worth maintaining a garrison in - and having one of "their" heralds as part of the band is the best means available (short of scrying and mind-controlling spells and a wizard they can trust - a rarity in itself - to use them to control the adventurers precisely as the ruler desires) to keep such bands under control. Rulers can make use of the lawless tendencies of adventuring bands, because they can do things uniformed troops shouldn't (break laws or run roughshod over nobles' rights).
Heralds sometimes ask Harpers in the area to track and watch over court heralds who've gone adventuring, both to keep them safe and to check on their continued loyalty, but see such activities as both useful information-gathering and a personal "let off steam" need for some court heralds; folk of action can find the life of a herald frustrating, boring, and requiring iron self-control and diplomacy, and chances to "cut loose" as occasionally necessary.
Nor is the lore gathered by adventuring heralds just a convenient excuse. Old tombs, cellars, and dwarf-delves are vital sources for establishing ancient heraldry in an area, and therefore what is right or traditional locally.
Court Heralds in the Game
Being a court herald or local herald in a frontier or restive area can be a bit like being a marshal or police force, but with far more freedom to interpret matters, undertake ploys and "side business," and have real adventures. Using various heraldry-related duties as cover, the herald must often rush here and there to deliver messages or pick up information from informants or race to uncover as much as possible about possible uprisings or planned rebel attacks or brigand-gang murders and thefts. Sooner or later folk will realize what you're doing or just see you as an easy "part of the hated government" target, so capable adventuring companions are a must.
Heralds of all sorts can be even more interesting in an urban campaign, mixing in daily business intrigues or at the revels of nobles and would-be nobles to learn who's loyal to whom and who's plotting what. In Waterdeep, over a dozen heralds at once are active full-time in such work; in Athkatla, Calimport, and the Sembian ports, three times as many keep busy gathering information for the Heralds, the Harpers, and local rulers (carefully editing what they share with each of those three sources).
Of course, being "in the know" gives a herald many opportunities for personal enrichment. Only a fool would stoop to blackmail and expect to live for long, but most urban heralds employ kin or friends in small businesses that can profit from acting on secrets or advance information without spreading it. If a ruler plans new or increased taxes or import duties on outland wine or lamp oil, and your business quietly buys up a lot of it, it can be resold for a swift and tidy profit once the taxes "come in" and the product price rises accordingly. If you know whom a king mistrusts or is planning to punish, you can withhold investments with the disfavored one, and withdraw socially from him, to avoid being harmed when he "goes down." A good herald knows who might soon be marrying whom, the likes and dislikes of the families (They would love exotic Calishite dancers and musicians at the wedding feast? Well, you just happen to be able to get some, swiftly and with no fuss, so it'll be the stunning social surprise they're hoping for), and, the attitudes on any matter of trade, society, or legal policy of the ruler and all powerful courtiers or nobles. So long as overt greed is avoided, money can be made steadily, from every twist and turn of court life.
Some heralds seduce their way to intimacy with powerful persons, while others promote reputations for giving good advice. However, a reputation can harm as well as help its owner. Heralds who are forced to flee a realm or city are sacrificing their careers but often remaining personally recognizable to traveling merchants who can spot them (and spread word of it) halfway across Faerûn, so that escaping angry husbands, vengeful noble families, or agents of would-be traitors the herald exposed can be very difficult.
The access and special status of heralds makes them great targets for blackmailers and others who seek to use them as agents. Even upstanding heralds have to worry about being kidnapped and slain or imprisoned by doppelgangers or other shapeshifters seeking to impersonate them (monsters such as doppelgangers don't care about any legal penalties for being an impostor, or for the consequences of the damage they could do).
Source: Power of Faerûn