(RFC) Bionoid Racial Class for low-level characters

A project to support the official Spelljammer conversion to 3rd edition rules.
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Who would win, a half-orc F11/bionoid 4, or Wooly Rupert?

That crazy bug guy, for sure!
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Are you nuts!? The Giant Space Hamster of Ill Omen!
Too close to call...
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(RFC) Bionoid Racial Class for low-level characters

Post by dialNforNinja » Wed Feb 15, 2012 9:34 am

(That's "Request For Comment" if the TLA is unfamiliar)

Bionoid racial class
adapted by ClassicDrogn aka dialNforNinja

To more gently ease a bionoid character into a low level campaign, the nature of the symbiote bonding process must be slowed a bit, to take place over a few levels. (A few more, minor changes were made for flavor as well.) This article is based on and includes significant text from the 3.0 system template conversion by Joel Jackson and Static of the 2e Spelljammer Monstrous Compendium appendix, which was itself an utter unattributed rip-off of the hero of the Guyver manga, anime, and movies. That template version may be found online at Beyond the Moons, a (the?) major Spelljammer setting fan site.

Since the Bionoid template can be accquired through contact with the sybiote egg, this is almost like a prestige class in that it can be accquired after first level, but like any other racial class it does not count with regards to multiclassing penalties. The character MUST take the first substitute level at the next opportunity, and should be considered as +1 ECL until they do so since they gain the benefits as soon as they awaken from the bonding cocoon. Unlike normal "monster" class levels, Bionoid levels can (and probably should, four levels is a long time to go without skill points or a HD increase in normal form) be alternated with class levels (or other monster levels in the case of particularly tough humanoids) with less racial levels simply signifying a less developed magical symbiote. It's entirely plausible that a character who is strongly dedicated to pursuing her original career might accept having a weaker combat form and forgo bionoid levels beyond the first entirely, but if more than one other class level is taken before another bionoid level, further development of the symbiont is impossible.

Example: Theramin is a 7th-level Halfling rogue who encounters a bionoid egg while exploring a ruined IEN base abandoned since the Unhuman Wars. She immediately gains the effects of having the first Bionoid racial level, and a +1 level adjustment. After dealing with a group of bandits who'd taken to using the base as a hideout, Theramin has gained enough experience to go up a level, so the +1 level adjustment is removed and she becomes a Rogue 7/Bionoid 1. After a few more adventures, she progresses to Rogue 8, then Bionoid 2, and Rogue 9. Not wanting to sacrifice the benefits of Small size to someone of her profession or delay attaining higher Rogue levels any further, the level after that she takes Rogue 10. Theramin retains all the benefits of the two levels of Bionoid that she has, but her symbiote has stopped developing and she can never take the remaining two levels - barring divine intervention, a Wish or Miracle, of course.

Bionoids are characters who have a symbiont form which shows itself during periods of possible physical stress - chitinous, bipedal humanoid insects with a glowing circular gem in the center of their forehead. Though their appearance strikes fear in those who view them, their demeanor belies their looks. Bionoids were originally tailored to be Imperial Elven shock troops in the Unhuman Wars, but were rapidly brushed aside as unsightly reminders of the war with the annihilation of the goblinoid fleets.

Hit Die: none (base form)/d8 (combat form)

Skill Points: 0+Int bonus. Yes, zero, you're focusing on getting used to a strange new body, not picking locks or riding a horse. Control Shape (Wis) (below) becomes a class skill and may be used untrained. Bionoids may choose to base their Intimidate skill on Strength, but do not innately gain it as a class skill.

Saves: As base creature, plus ability modifiers in combat form.

Ability modifier: CHA -2 in combat form applies as soon as the template is accquired. Does not apply to skill checks when dealing with insectoids who also have a CHA penalty such as Thri-kreen or Formians, and may (GM's option) actually be a bonus.

Special: The creature gains gains the (Shapechanger) subtype. Favored class becomes Fighter regardless of base race for inherited bionoids, those who join with an egg may keep their existing favored class or switch to Fighter. An inherited bionoid starting at level 1 should declare what class he will enter at second level and use that as his first hit die immediately, but gains no other benefits (BAB, saves, etc.) of the class. Starting at Level 2 so the character can have a class level as well as the first racial adjustment level is much more highly recommended, however.

Weapon/Armor proficiency: Proficiency with all Simple weapons and her natural weapons and armor is programmed into the Crystal Eye. While this technically also grants proficiency with light and medium armor and all but tower shields,
the fact that any item being worn when a bionoid assumes her (larger, sometimes greatly so) combat form is forcefully removed makes wearing any such armor little more than a way to spend spare gold repairing and replacing destroyed suits. Similarly, the utility of a carried shield becomes reduced by the increase in size of more developed bionoids - the increase to Large size makes shields effectively one step smaller (a Medium-size Tower shield becomes Heavy, a Heavy shield becomes Light, a Light shield becomes a Buckler, and a buckler is too small to provide any benefit.) Feats which require proficiency in Light or Medium armor can be qualified for, however, including those which reduce the arcane spell failure rate while wearing armor.

Armor and shields intended for use in combat form must also, as noted below, be specially constructed to account for the exoskeleton's spikes and sharp edges. While this does not cause a significant increase in cost, it does mean having to wait while they are custom made rather than buy one from inventory or using one captured from an enemy or found in a hoard - and of course, hauling around a set of Large armor is awkward, can cause unwanted questions to be asked if the bionoid is trying to hide her nature, and takes time to put on every time she needs to transform for combat. The only bright side is that while still dropped to the ground, items being worn are not damaged on detransforming since the bionoid's size decreases.

Combat Form bonus progression

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level	speed	AC	BAB 	STR 	DEX/CON	CR	skills
1       +20		+2	+1		+2	+1		+1	+1
2       +40		+4	+2		+4	+2		+1	+2
3       +70		+6	+2		+6	+3		+2	+3
4       +90		+8	+3		+8	+4		+3	+4
AC progression does not include Dex bonus, but the size penalty is accounted for.
BAB and skill progression do not include Str bonus
The skills which recieve a racial bonus in combat form are Jump, Search, and Spot.

Special Ability progression

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1  All-around Vision, Crystal Eye, Energy Discharge 1/day
2  +1 AC in base form, Crush 1d8+Str
3  +2 AC in base form, +1 size category (increases reach)
4  +3 AC in base form, Augmented Criticals, Crush 2d8+Str
Energy Discharge damage and recoil (damage to self)

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Level	range		damage	recoil
1		15ft cone	2d6		1d3
2		20ft cone	3d6		1d4
3		25ft cone	5d6		1d6
4		30ft cone	6d6		2d4
Natural Weapon Attacks: (Combat form only): Claw 1d6+Str and Forearm Blade 1d6+1/2 Str (secondary). At second level she can attack with a second claw as a secondary attack and two forearm blade strikes as secondary attacks at the normal -5 to hit, and after attaining Large size at third level gains two Stomps as secondary attacks for 1d8+1/2 Str. A bionoid character can also use any weapon with which she has proficiency as normal. The head blade of a bionoid is more for protecting the crystal eye than making attacks, but can be used to deal slashing damage instead of subdual with a headbutt; however on a fumble or the opponent's successful attack of opportunity the impact jars the bionoid's main Crystal Eye and leaves her Staggered for one round.

Augmented Criticals (Ex): The forearm blades of a Bionoid are very sharp. A bionoid threatens a critical hit on a natural attack roll of 19-20, doing double damage on a successful critical hit. This bonus stacks with the Improved Critical feat (bringing the threat range up to 17-20), but not with magic used to achieve improved criticals.

Crush (Ex): If a bionoid makes a successful attack with both claws, she can grab her target and make a free grapple check that does not provoke an attack of opportunity. If the bionoid wins the grapple check, she crushes her victim, dealing damage each round until the victim breaks the hold or the bionoid lets go. If the bionoid attempts a grab, she can't use any of her remaining attacks (forearm blades or heel spikes) during that round, and cannot make any other attacks while crushing.

Energy Discharge (Su): The bionoid's most powerful attack is a spell-like effect similar to a Fireball. The bionoid can open up twin dorsal plates on her chest, exposing two highly charged membranes. This takes a standard action, and causes recoil damage to the bionoid. These membranes release a cone-shaped discharge of bio-energy, which causes damage (and possibly nose bleeds in a less serious game, depending on Charisma, sexual orientation, and whether they know what the bionoid looks like in native form) to all within range. A Reflex save against this attack (DC 10 + 1/2 the bionoids' hit dice + bionoid's Con modifier) reduces this damage to half. Those immune to either fire or electricity take half damage, and can save for none (those immune to both energy forms are immune to this attack). Fire and electricity resistances are only half as effective in terms of damage negation (i.e. fire resistance 10 only reduces damage from this attack by 5). The damage to the bionoid means this attack is a last resort. 1/day

All-around Vision (Ex): Bionoids' symmetrically placed auxilliary eyes allow them to look in any direction, bestowing a racial bonus to Spot and Search checks. Bionoids cannot be flanked.

Crystal Eye (Ex): The bionoid's one weakness is the eye. The eye is hidden inside the skull of the character until "called", at which time it emerges from the center of the bionoid's forehead. If crushed, irrevocable death for the eye and the bionoid ensues. The eye is a Fine object, has a hardness of 10, 30 hit points and a break DC of 30. Resolve attacks on the eye as attempts to strike an object that is worn (see Sundering a Carried or Worn Object under Combat) which provokes an attack of opportunity. A successful attack of opportunity thwarts the attack on the eye. The eye has an AC of 18 (for size) plus the appropriate bonuses, and has the same immunities as an object. The two auxilliary eyes on the rear sides of the head have the same statistics, but have no special effects if removed or destroyed. All of the eyes will heal if damaged, but at 1/2 the normal Natural Healing rate. Healing magic can also be used on the Crystal Eye or the auxilliary eyes. Repair spells intended for constructs, Mending, and Make Whole have only half effect, as the symbiote is more alive than construct.

(Sundering a held object is found on p158 of the 3.5 PHB, but that's not OGC so it needs a reference to the SRD file instead)

Bionoids are symbiotic creatures, one being a magical, organic essence, called the Crystal Eye, the other being a host, generally an elf, half-elf, or human (the eye can only bond to a humanoid being, but can never bond to goblinoids (the allied forces, not the MM subtype - orcs, ogres, gnolls, goblins, bugbears, kobolds, trolls, and hobgoblins.) As a rule of thumb, if the type is anything but "Humanoid" or possibly "Monstrous Humanoid" or "Giant" no way, and if there is a subtype look carefully before allowing it. In combat form they are 10 ft. tall muscular creatures with iridescent light brown or grey exoskeletons, and hard claw-like blades protruding backwards from both forearms and the head. Their fingers and toes are clawed and slighty elongated. In humanoid form, most bionoids are thin but well-muscled, and fairly tall. They are generally calm and contemplative. Although these creatures were instilled with an instinctive urge for combat without quarter, they are essentially good beings who constantly strive to control the powers of their implanted nature.

In battle, the bionoids' true nature becomes apparent. Such intense environtments cause the eye to emerge (a free action), which brings about a physical change in the host's body. This new form is the bionoid proper, an engineered weapon of deadly ability. Due to their high speed, bionoids combine a run with a leaping attack that brings them into close range with their opponent.

While in close combat they can strike at multiple foes, using a fluid, dance-like pattern of attack that comes naturally. They first attack with two clawed fists, quickly followed by the razor sharp blades along each forearm. Each foot has sharp claws and heel spurs, which are used with surprising agility. Bionoids who reach Large size in their combat form can make use of specially crafted weapons, traditionally a large, ornate halberd. A bionoid gets a +6 bonus to their attack roll. Multiple attacks are determined as normal. Bionoids haven't been in the service of the Imperial Elven Navy since the end of the Unhuman Wars centuries ago, so most of the existing versions of these weapons are either heirlooms or were custom made. Craft checks to make these weapons should impose a +5 to the DC because of the complexity involved, and they cost and weigh more due to being one size category larger than the base creature.

Suggested feats: Multiattack (MM1 303)/Improved Multiattack (SavSpec 36) (Is this OGC?), Dodge (PHB xx) or Dexterous Dodge (UltFeat xx)/Mobility (PHB xx)/Spring Attack (PHB xx), Martial Weapon Proficiency: Bionoid Halberd, Power Attack(PHB 99)/Cleave (PHB 93)/Great cleave (PHB 95)/Cleaving Charge (Mongoose Ultimate Feats 33)/Trail of Blood (Ultimate Feats 75)

(again, SRD doc references, not PHB page numbers need to go here for a final version)

Bionoids as Characters

The Bionoid is a template monster that can be added to any non-goblinoid humanoid. The creation of a bionoid is invasive. The magically created organism, or eye, is disc-shaped, and has a single crystalline trigger within its center. When touched by any humanoid, the being's essence marks the eye, and it rapidly expands as a multitude of small, sinewy filaments and engulfs the host, all within the space of approximatly one-half of a second (considered a free action). The host remains cocooned, protected from all physical harm (damage reduction 10/+1) for two rounds, after which the filaments retreat back to the eye, which has been reformed within the hosts' skull. (If the host was damaged during this process, the eye triggers the transformation to a bionoid immediately upon completion, with the usual catastrophic effects on clothing and armor.)

At this time the host is allowed a Will save, DC 15, to break off the symbiosis and destroy the eye. Failure means the host is from then on, a bionoid. Symbiosis with the egg gives the host's alignment a pronounced tendency to Good, and a non-Good host will immediately move one step closer to Good unless a will save is made (DC 25) but the Eye will not allow transformation in an Evil host and will contest control like an intelligent weapon (Ego 25) anytime one tries to perform a blatantly evil act, with failiure indicating they are unable to force themselves to carry through. If a goblinoid touches the egg, it explodes in the same fashion as above, causing 2d12 points of constriction damage every round (DC of 25 to break out). An egg which explodes in ths way is usually destroyed, but will reform 1d4+1 rounds later if it saves vs. DC 17. This is technically a FORT save but eggs have no stats and hence no bonuses - though a spellcaster might target one with helpful magic, as they can be affected by spells targeting creatures as well as constructs. Activated bionoids cannot be targeted as constructs, with the specific exception of repair spells to the main and auxilliary crystal eyes as noted above.

Dwarves and Half-orcs (and half-goblins/-ogres/etc., anything is possible with amoral raiders and mad wizards running around) are cocooned as a non-goblinoid, but failure on the initial Will save means they suffer constriction damage as one. Bionoid eggs are rare, being found only in the possession of the Imperial Elven Navy (but see below.)

After bonding, the host will feel a "presence" in the back of his or her consciousness, and can eventually learn to willfully call it forth or keep it subdued. Until then, any threat to the host will cause the bionoid to emerge, changing the hosts' body in the twinkling of an eye (a free action). Because of the instantaneous nature of the change, anything worn is destroyed. Magical items survive the change if they succeed at a Fortitude save (DC 18). Hosts of a Bionoid can take Control Shape (Wis) (see Monster Manual page 218) as a class skill, and can thereby learn to control the transformation. The skill is adapted as follows:

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Task                                  DC
Resist involuntary change             25
Return to normal form:
  Host faces immediate physical       25
      harm (example: combat)
  Host faces possible physical        15
      harm (example: intimidation)
Voluntary change for combat           10
Voluntary change not for combat       15
A bionoid may always return to normal form if there is no perceptible threat in the area.

A bionoid will never transform in an area too small for its combat form, but will do so in areas that require "Squeezing Through" rule (PHB 150, DMG 30) if in immediate physical danger.

If reduced to -10hp or if the eye is removed, the host's body immediately decomposes. The eye, however, traps the essence of its host, awaiting a new body. If a "marked" eye is presented with a living body, the eye reduces and restructures that body in favor of its stored master using a similar cocooning process as initial infection, resulting in the death of the previous body and a revival of the original master. (Bionoid characters are never "killed" unless the eye is destroyed, much like a lich and their phylactery. Being revived in the above manner does not result in the loss of experience or Constitution because the character never truly died. Likewise, spells such as Gentle Repose, Speak With Dead, Create Undead, Raise Dead, or Reincarnation will fail if cast on the character, because they are not dead.)

Bionoids cannot use armor unless specifically crafted and/or enchanted to fit their size and spiny exoskeleton. Any items of the base form surviving a transformation fall to the ground and are useless to the creature unless an action is taken to retrieve them. Hosts are considered to be wearing chain armor in regards to spell failure (i.e. 30%) when in Bionoid form, but have no armor check penalty and may use class abilities that require being unarmored.

The offspring of a bionoid mating will be bionoids as long as the other parent is non-goblinkin and the offspring is Humanoid, or possibly Monstrous Humanoid or Giant.

DM's Option if you want more bionoids in your game: A bionoid will be capable of creating 1d4-1 (yes, one in four are unable) eggs after reaching full maturity (all four racial levels) and 6HD in base form (10 HD in combat form.) To do so, she must make (or have someone else make) a copper and ceramic "shell" of 50gp value, then perform a magical ritual using ingredients worth 25,000gp, and sacrifice 1,000xp plus 1d4 points each of temporary Wisdom and Constitution damage as her Crystal Eye divides into two and the "newborn" unbonded eye and its sinewy cocooning filaments are placed into the prepared shell. The Eye must then heal or be magically healed/repaired normally.

Knowledge of how to perform the procedure is encoded into the Crystal Eye, along with the basic Craft skills to perform all the stages herself (no skill bonus, but even a barbaric tribesman with no knowledge of pottery or metalworking would be able to recognize good clay and copper-bearing ore when she saw it, and know how to fire it and add the metal fittings, what magical supplies were needed and how to use them, instinctively.)

Once completed the egg goes into stasis until a non-bionoid comes in contact with its Crystal Eye 'trigger,' as described above. Bionoids do not typically create such eggs without a clear need and a recipient already in mind, however, both because of the personal hardship involved and because doing so is tantamount to giving away one's own child - not something most Good aligned characters would want to do casually.

Players, even if your DM allows this rule, don't be suprized to simply be told your symbiote is one of the one in four who can't produce eggs.

(Non OGC:) Eberron note: Warforged can not bond with a bionoid symbiote unless they have completed the Reforged prestige class - otherwise the egg does not recognise them as living beings.

- dNN

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