Tainted Berserker

The lure of forbidden knowledge is strong. While arcanists are the most likely to succumb to temptation, none are immune. When great fighters, knights or barbarians stray to the path of darkness, they may become tainted berserkers.

A tainted berserker is a warrior who has chosen to exploit such secret knowledge in his quest for power. He gains much, but this invariably entails carrying out a terrible quest, whereby innocent victims are sacrificed to meet his goal. He may rationalise this as being "for the greater good", or he may simply decide he is beyond such trivial concerns. Either way, only the most ruthless, evil or insane characters take this class.

NPC tainted berserkers often serve as bodyguards and lieutenants to mighty necromancers and liches. Some become dreaded champions of evil in their own right, more terrifying and fearsome than any spellcaster.

Requirements

Base attack bonus: +6.

Skills: Intimidate 9 ranks.

Feats: Weapon Proficiency (all martial weapons).

Alignment: Any nongood.

Special: The character must locate and use ancient scrolls detailing the rites and rituals necessary to take this class.

Class Statistics

Hit Die: d12.

Class Skills: Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), Swim (Str).

Skill Points/Level: 2 + Int modifier.

Level

Base Attack Bonus

Fort
Save

Ref
Save

Will
Save

Special

1

+1

+2

+0

+0

Accursed, unholy strike (evil), whirling frenzy 2/day

2

+2

+3

+0

+0

Damage reduction 1/good

3

+3

+3

+1

+1

Strike of corruption 1/day

4

+4

+4

+1

+1

Damage reduction 2/good

5

+5

+4

+1

+1

Whirling frenzy 3/day, aura of fear

6

+6

+5

+2

+2

Damage reduction 3/good

7

+7

+5

+2

+2

Strike of corruption 2/day

8

+8

+6

+2

+2

Damage reduction 4/good, greater frenzy

9

+9

+6

+3

+3

Whirling frenzy 4/day

10

+10

+7

+3

+3

Damage reduction 5/good, strike of corruption 3/day

Special Abilities

All the following are class abilities for the tainted berserker.

Weapon and armour proficiency: The tainted berserker is proficient with all simple and martial weapons, shields and all types of armour.

Accursed (Ex): The tainted berserker's association with foul magic leaves its mark on his soul. He is treated as evil-aligned for the purposes of spells and effects, regardless of his actual alignment. For example, he detects as evil with a detect evil spell, he takes extra damage when struck by a weapon with the holy enchantment, and so on.

Unholy Strike (Su): The tainted berserker's melee and ranged weapon attacks are treated as evil-aligned, and bypass the corresponding damage reduction.

Whirling Frenzy (Ex): The tainted berserker can enter into a state of frenzied bloodlust, gaining terrifying strength and speed. In a whirling frenzy, he temporarily gains a +4 bonus to Strength and a +2 dodge bonus to Armor Class and on Reflex saves. While in a whirling frenzy, he may make one extra attack in a round at his highest base attack bonus, but this attack takes a –2 penalty, as does each other attack made that round. This penalty applies for 1 round, so it also affects attacks of opportunity the tainted berserker might make before his next action.

While in a frenzy, the tainted berserker cannot use any Charisma-, Dexterity-, or Intelligence-based skills (except for Balance, Escape Artist, Intimidate, and Ride), the Concentration skill, or any abilities that require patience or concentration, nor can he cast spells or activate magic items that require a command word, a spell trigger (such as a wand), or spell completion (such as a scroll) to function. He can use any feat he has except Combat Expertise, item creation feats, and metamagic feats. A whirling frenzy lasts for a number of rounds equal to 3 + the character's Constitution modifier. The tainted berserker may prematurely end his frenzy. At the end of the frenzy, he loses the modifiers and restrictions and becomes fatigued (–2 penalty to Strength, –2 penalty to Dexterity, can't charge or run) for the duration of the current encounter.

At 8th level, the tainted berserker's Strength bonus in a frenzy increases to +6, and the dodge bonus to Armor Class and on Reflex saves increases to +3.

The tainted berserker can enter a frenzy only once per encounter. At 1st level he can use his rage ability twice per day. At 5th level he can use it twice per day, and at 9th level, three times per day. Entering a frenzy takes no time in itself, but the tainted berserker can do it only during his action, not in response to someone else’s action. Whirling frenzy does not stack with rage, if the tainted berserker has that ability.

Damage Reduction (Su): At 2nd level, the tainted berserker gains damage reduction. He subtracts 1 point from the damage he takes each time he is dealt damage from a weapon or natural attack, unless it is from a good-aligned weapon. The tainted warrior's DR increases by 1 point at 4th level, and every 2 levels hereafter.

Aura of Fear (Su): From 5th level, the tainted berserker radiates a malign aura that can terrify his enemies and cause them to flee from the battlefield. The aura is activated when he enters a whirling frenzy, and potentially affects all creatures within 15 feet who have less than 5 HD and have hostile intent towards him. Such creatures must succeed at a Will save (DC 10 + the tainted berserker's class level + his Charisma modifier) or be frightened for 2d4 rounds.

A frightened creature suffers a –2 morale penalty on attack and damage rolls and saving throws, and flees from the tainted berserker as well as it can. If unable to flee, the creature may fight. Creatures that make their save are immune to the tainted berserker's aura of fear for one day. This is a mind-affecting, compulsion, fear-based effect.

Strike of Corruption (Su): At 3rd level, the tainted berserker can imbue a melee or ranged weapon attack with foul, life-destroying energy. He deals 2d6 points of temporary Constitution damage if he hits, in addition to any damage normally inflicted. A Fortitude save (DC 10 + the tainted berserker's class level + his Charisma modifier) halves the Constitution damage taken. He can use this ability once per day.

Starting at 7th level, the tainted warrior can use his tainted strike twice per day, and at 10th level, three times per day. He can only use this ability once per encounter, no matter how many times he can use it per day.


Sample Tainted Berserker

Aranius was a famed warrior who swore an oath to destroy a cult of evil necromancers. For many years he hunted them, making it his overriding mission in life to eradicate their foul presence. Finally, he tracked down the last of the necromancers to a dungeon beneath a ruined tower. Without hesitation, he entered the dungeon, ready to fulfil his oath.

When Aranius emerged, not only had he abandoned his mission, but he had sworn a new oath to act as companion and bodyguard to the mage he had intended to kill. Since then, his name has become accursed, as he aids his master in carving out a dominion of death and misery. There are theories as to why Aranius turned to evil, but to this day, nobody is entirely certain what transpired in the depths — or what it was that stole the man's soul.

Aranius the Damned: human male ftr6/tainted warrior 7; CR 13; Medium Humanoid (human); HD 6d10+7d12+65 (160 hp); Init +6; Spd 20 ft (30 ft base); AC 25 (touch 14, flat-footed 23); BAB +13; Grap +19; Atk +23/+18/+13 melee (1d12+14/x3 plus 1 Con, +2 wounding greataxe); SA Whirling frenzy, unholy strike, strike of corruption 2/day; SQ Accursed, DR 3/good, aura of fear; AL LE; SV Fort +19, Ref +10, Will +12 (+15 vs mind-influencing effects); Str 22, Dex 14, Con 20, Int 9, Wis 14, Cha 15.

Skills and Feats: Intimidate +18, Jump +16, Sense Motive +8, Cleave, Great Cleave, Improved Initiative, Indomitable, Iron Will, Power Attack, Soul of Battle, Still Mind, Weapon Focus (greataxe), Weapon Specialisation (greataxe).

Accursed (Ex): Aranius' association with foul magic has left its mark on his soul. He is treated as evil-aligned for the purposes of spells and effects, regardless of his actual alignment. For example, he would detect as evil with a detect evil spell, he would suffer extra damage when struck by a weapon with the holy enchantment, and so on.

Unholy Strike (Su): Aranius' melee and ranged weapon attacks are treated as evil-aligned, and bypass the corresponding damage reduction.

Whirling Frenzy (Ex): Aranius can enter into a state of frenzied bloodlust, gaining terrifying strength and speed. In a whirling frenzy, he temporarily gains a +4 bonus to Strength and a +2 dodge bonus to Armor Class and on Reflex saves. While in a whirling frenzy, he may make one extra attack in a round at his highest base attack bonus, but this attack takes a –2 penalty, as does each other attack made that round. This penalty applies for 1 round, so it also affects attacks of opportunity the tainted berserker might make before his next action.

While in a frenzy, Aranius cannot use any Charisma-, Dexterity-, or Intelligence-based skills (except for Balance, Escape Artist, Intimidate, and Ride), the Concentration skill, or any abilities that require patience or concentration, nor can he cast spells or activate magic items that require a command word, a spell trigger (such as a wand), or spell completion (such as a scroll) to function. He can use any feat he has except Combat Expertise, item creation feats, and metamagic feats. A whirling frenzy lasts for a number of rounds equal to 3 + his Constitution modifier. He may prematurely end his frenzy. At the end of the frenzy, he loses the modifiers and restrictions and becomes fatigued (–2 penalty to Strength, –2 penalty to Dexterity, can't charge or run) for the duration of the current encounter.

Aranius can enter a whirling frenzy twice per day. Entering a frenzy takes no time in itself, but he can do it only during his action, not in response to someone else’s action.

Damage Reduction (Su): Aranius subtracts 3 points from the damage he takes each time he is dealt damage from a weapon or natural attack, unless it is from a good-aligned weapon.

Aura of Fear (Su): Aranius radiates a malign aura that can terrify his enemies and cause them to flee from the battlefield. The aura is activated when he enters a whirling frenzy, and potentially affects all creatures within 15 feet who have less than 5 HD and have hostile intent towards him. Such creatures must succeed at a DC 19 Will save or be frightened for 2d4 rounds.

A frightened creature suffers a –2 morale penalty on attack and damage rolls and saving throws, and flees from the tainted berserker as well as it can. If unable to flee, the creature may fight. Creatures that make their save are immune to the tainted berserker's aura of fear for one day. This is a mind-affecting, compulsion, fear-based effect.

Strike of Corruption (Su): Aranius can imbue a melee or ranged weapon attack with foul, life-destroying energy. He deals 2d6 points of temporary Constitution damage if he hits, in addition to any damage normally inflicted. A DC 19 Fortitude save halves the Constitution damage taken. He can use this ability twice per day, but no more than once per encounter.

Equipment: +2 wounding greataxe; +2 mithral full plate; ring of protection +2; gauntlets of Strength +4; bracers of Dexterity +2; belt of Constitution +2; cloak of resistance +3; boots of speed.


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