Lighthouse for the Blind
“I’ve bandaged your wounds and stopped the bleeding, but what should I do with the rest? You know, just the six arrows, one javelin, a jar’s worth of alchemist’s fire, twenty caltrops, and more poisoned thorns than I care to count… HOW ARE YOU EVEN ALIVE?”
― Vivisectionist of the Veil Alliance tending to an escaped slave
Life in Athas is harsh. Few would choose to live under its dark sun or within its bleak wastes willingly, but most simply have no choice. Whether they’re slaves, nomads, rebels, or just plain lucky, everyone’s a survivor by virtue of being alive. Yet some are more. Some do not survive to preserve their own life, but rather to spit in the very face of nature and all those who succumbed to the elements. Some endure the onslaught of great monsters, horrible storms, and the whip of a thousand masters – just to prove they can. Some forsake all material possessions to traverse the world alone and show their resolve in the face of adversity. All these precious few are the true survivors.
Making a Survivor
Survivors have earned their namesake. As some of the most tireless laborers and tenacious defenders of the tablelands, their usefulness has not gone unnoticed by the Sorcerer-Kings. Most survivors are slaves, forced into the yoke of bondage under the iron heel of their overlords, but not all survivors lack freedom. Some take up this path because they are already impoverished, and lack the means to become skilled in any other way. Others strike out into the wastes willingly, forsaking material possessions to live an ascetic life. A rare breed feels the millennia of defilement and magical abuse personally, and seeks to abolish all magic from the tablelands with their bare hands. Whatever their circumstances, all survivors are unified by their common resiliency, and a lack of dependence on material wealth.
Abilities: Constitution is always important to a survivor. Strength is important to day-laborers and warriors, while domestic workers can benefit from a high Intelligence and Charisma. Dexterity and Wisdom can also be vital to survivors, since these ability scores improve their already considerable resilience against attacks and magical influence.
Races: Most survivors are human – the adaptability of the race makes them more fit for certain tasks or environs than other races. The elves and thranger are notorious nomads who wander the wastes with a seemingly unnatural grace, and many are indeed survivors. Muls, half-elves, and goliaths are also common slaves, although in different capacities: whether in the arena, a noble’s house, or the marches of war. Halflings and sauren cherish freedom and are not especially known for their fortitude, so few members of these races are survivors. A dwarf’s decision on whether to become a survivor depends greatly upon his focus, but most abolishers are dwarves. The strict caste structure of the Qin means that many of their workers are survivors, although they are seldom seen outside of that race’s secretive society.
Alignment: Any. Survivors have no strong tendency toward one world-view or another. If freed, they often take on the alignment of their rescuers.
Starting Ceramic: 100 Cp.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Survivors are proficient in simple weapons only. They are not proficient in any form of armor or shields.
Poverty: Survivors, whether by choice or decree, do not own any possessions. They may own and/or carry on their person only those things which are necessary for their immediate survival and trade, such as ordinary clothing, non-masterwork tools or weapons, food and water for day, a backpack, and other such mundane items. In any case, their total wealth may not exceed 100 Ceramic Pieces, and they may not take up or use – even temporarily – other material possessions for risk of losing their status as a true survivor (see ex-survivors below). In some life-or-death situations, or other circumstances agreed to by the Game Master, this limitation may be waived, but generally their other class features make up the difference for their lack of equipment, be it magical or mundane.
Resolve (Su): A 1st-level survivor receives a +4 morale bonus to his AC. This bonus increases to +5 at 3rd level, and thereafter increases by +1 every third level. The survivor has resolved himself to his fate and decided to meet it head-on, and this absolute assuredness enforces itself on reality. This bonus does not stack with armor and does not count toward touch attacks, but it does apply toward incorporeal attacks.
Improvised Items (Ex): A first level survivor can use nearly anything at hand to complete his task or even to attack his foes. Anything from a bone to a rock is a weapon with this ability. He takes no penalty for using improvised tools when making a skill check, nor does he take a penalty for using improvised weapons to make attacks (treat him as proficient with all such weapons). Regardless of the exact item, the weapon does 1d6 points of damage at your highest attack bonus (or less for iterative attacks). Most items do bludgeoning damage, although a sharp piece of rock or obsidian would do slashing or piercing depending on the shape of the item. Long items (such as ladders) have reach according to their length, and items with many protrusions (such as a chair) give a survivor a +2 bonus on Disarm attempts. Finally, large items with broad, flat surfaces (such as tables) can be upended to become improvised tower shields (although survivors are not proficient with tower shields, and this ability does not grant this proficiency). Thrown items have a range increment of 10 feet.
Bonus Survival Feat: The survivor gains a bonus feat that helps with survival in harsh terrains at every even level. This feat is chosen from the following list.
Acrobatic, Agile, Alertness, Animal Affinity, Athletic, Blind-Fight, Communicator (CA), Dash (CW), Endurance, Eschew Materials, Faster Healing (CW), Great Fortitude, Improved Initiative, Improved Toughness (CW), Insightful (CA), Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, Necropolis Born (CA), Night Haunt (CA), Prone Fighting, Run, Skill Focus, Soul of the North (CA), Spell Hand (CA), Stealthy, Toughness, Track.
Harsh Reality (Ex): A 2nd-level survivor has learned from their time in the wastes. Choose an element, and add one-half your level (rounded down) as a bonus to checks with the corresponding skills: Earth (survival and climb), Water (heal and swim), Air (escape artist and fly), or Fire (handle animal and acrobatics). Once chosen, the element and corresponding bonuses cannot be changed.
Deflection (Su): A 2nd-level survivor gains a +2 deflection bonus to AC. This bonus increases to +3 at 6th level, and by an additional +1 every 6 levels thereafter. Survivors become adept at deflecting criticism that comes in the form of whip lashes.
Uncanny Dodge (Ex): A 2nd-level survivor gains the ability to react to danger before her senses would normally allow her to do so. She retains her Dexterity bonus to Armor Class (if any) regardless of being caught flat-footed or struck by an invisible attacker (she still loses her Dexterity bonus to Armor Class if immobilized).
At 4th level, the survivor can no longer be flanked; she can react to opponents on opposite sides of her as easily as he can react to a single attacker. This defense denies rogues the ability to use flank attacks to sneak attack the survivor. The exception to this defense is that a rogue at least four levels higher than the survivor can flank her (and thus sneak attack her).
… more to come
Playing a Survivor
Hit Die: d12
Table 2–3: The Survivor
|Level||Base||Attack Bonus||Fort Save||Ref Save||Will Save||Special|
|1st||+0||+2||+2||+2||Resolve +4, Improvised Items, Poverty|
|2nd||+1||+3||+3||+3||Deflection +2, Bonus survival feat, Uncanny Dodge (Dex Bonus to AC), Harsh Reality|
|3rd||+1||+3||+3||+3||Resolve +5, Natural Armor +2, Endure Elements, Evasion|
|4th||+2||+4||+4||+4||Fight for Survival +1(magic), Ability Score Enhancement +2, Resistance +1, Bonus survival feat, Uncanny Dodge (Can’t be Flanked)|
|5th||+2||+4||+4||+4||Sustenance, Fast Healing 1, Improved Evasion|
|6th||+3||+5||+5||+5||Resolve +6, Deflection +3, Flight (Base Land Speed, Average Maneuverability), Bonus Survival Feat, Damage Reduction 5/-|
|7th||+3||+5||+5||+5||Fight for Survival (Special Ability), Fortification (25%)|
|8th||+4||+6||+6||+6||Fight for Survival 2, Resistance +2, Mind Shielding, Bonus Survival Feat|
|9th||+4||+6||+6||+6||Resolve +7, Natural Armor +4, Wilderness Stride, Fast Healing 2|
|10th||+5||+7||+7||+7||Fight for Survival (Alignment or Cold Iron), Damage Reduction (5/magic), Energy Resistance 5, Bonus Survival Feat|
|11th||+5||+7||+7||+7||Fight for Survival (Special Ability), Fortification (50%), Spell Resistance|
|12th||+6 / +1||+8||+8||+8||Resolve 4/+2, Resistance +3, Flight (Double Speed, good maneuverability), Greater Sustenance, Bonus Survival Feat|
|13th||+6 / +1||+8||+8||+8||Fast Healing 3, Mettle|
|14th||+7 / +2||+9||+9||+9||Freedom of Movement, Bonus Survival Feat|
|15th||+7 / +2||+9||+9||+9||Resolve +9, Fight for Survival (Special Ability), Fortification (75%), Damage Reduction (5/varies), Energy Resistance (10)|
|16th||+8 / +3||+10||+10||+10||Fight for Survival 6/2, Resistance +4, Bonus Survival Feat|
|17th||+8 / +3||+10||+10||+10||Fast Healing 4, Regeneration, Improved Mettle|
|18th||+9 / +4||+11||+11||+11||Resolve +10, Deflection +5, Flight (Triple Speed, Perfect Maneuverability), True Seeing, Bonus Survival Feat|
|19th||+9 / +4||+11||+11||+11||Fight for Survival (Special Ability), Fortification (100%)|
|20th||+10 / +5||+12||+12||+12||Fight for Survival 8/4/+2, Resistance +5, Damage Reduction (10/varies), Energy Resistance (15), Perfection, Bonus Survival Feat|
Class Skills (2 + Int modifier per level): Acrobatics, Appraise, Climb, Craft (all), Escape Artist, Fly, Handle Animal, Heal, Knowledge (local), Knowledge (nature), Knowledge (engineering), Perception, Perform (all), Profession (all), Survival, Swim.
Survivors on Athas
Characters with ranks in Knowledge (local) can research Survivors to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including the information from lower DCs.