Ruins of Adventure
- Races: Any
- Sub-Classes: Any Rogue
- Ability Requirements: Balance 13, Reason 13, Appearance 13
- Alignments: Non-Lawful
- Starting Cash: By class
- Weapon Slots: By class
- Bonus Weapon Proficiencies: none
- Required Weapon Proficiencies: Longsword or Shortsword
- Allowed Weapons: By class
- Allowed Armors: By class
- Non-weapon Slots: By class
- Available Categories: By class
- Bonus Non-weapon Proficiencies: Crowd Working, Disguise, Fast-Talking, Gaming
- Required Proficiencies: none
- Recommended Proficiencies: Acting, Alertness, Appraising, Artistic Ability, Chicanery, Dancing, Enamor, Escape, Etiquette, Feign Sleep, Forgery, Fortune Telling, Herbalism, Local History, Modern Languages, Singing, Street Sense, Ventriloquism.
- Forbidden Proficiencies: none
Overview: This is the master of deception; while burglars and pickpockets profit through stealth, and bandits and thugs garner their earnings through force, the Swindler relies on his wits. Other thieves take their booty; the Swindler cons his victim into giving it freely.
The swindler is a clever thief who entertains his or her victims even as he or she steals from them-and, as often as not, the target of the crime doesn’t even realize he or she has been robbed until the swindler has traveled on to the next town. Swindlers are exceptionally larcenous, although it is only fair to point out that the swindler tends to regard his or her activities as a grand game, and the profits thereof as a just fee for the entertainment he or she has provided.
Swindler constantly bilk others out of their money using the most incredible scams imaginable, even creating fake religious cults to gather donations. Swindlers are likeable and friendly, and their confidence schemes are colorful and entertaining. Still, as each sting plays out and collapses, the swindler must stay on the move or face the wrath of his victims. Some swindlers specialize in pulling scams on other criminals, which is an especially dangerous profession.
Description: Swindlers vary widely in appearance, depending on the particular scam each is preparing to pull. Any disguise is possible, from wealthy merchant to traveling mystic to sole survivor of an oceanic shipwreck. Disguises are carefully researched for days or weeks before a scam is pulled, and they are often precise down to the last detail. A smart swindler, however, always wears footwear allowing for a rapid escape if attacked.
Role-Playing: There are numerous names for the Swindler—confidence artist, con man, mountebank, quack, bilker, matchstick man, etc.—and the scams he employs are even greater in number. Each con artist is unique, and develops his own mode of operation. One will specialize in selling bogus items, like medicines; while another may prepare long, elaborate scams to net the wealth of the affluent. Sometimes these are even legitimate transactions in which the swindler has somehow gotten involved and out of which he or she has engineered a percentage of the profits-perhaps from each party!-in return for his or her services. On other occasions, the transaction might be an out-and-out fraud, where the purchasers acquire something that has been counterfeited. Such complex schemes can involve property deeds, rare objects of art, bogus treasure maps, or beautiful and valuable jewelry that will be recognized as stolen the first time the unwary buyer wears it in public.
Swindlers must either operate in a large city, where there are many potential victims (and even then they usually target visitors to the city, especially foreigners); or they must be wanderers, ready to move on to a new place when they’ve made too many enemies or too much of the local populous has gotten wise to their devices. Obviously, a fine sense of timing is important for any swindler who does not wish to end his or her career at the hands of an angry mob. Ever optimistic, he or she often tells friends about a wonderful opportunity that has just arisen to sample the life in some far distant locale—immediately before decamping with the goods!
The swindler is a curious fellow-undeniably a scoundrel, scallywag, and all-around rascal, yet also a thoroughly likeable person whose powers of persuasion can make him or her a valuable asset to any adventuring party. Many a swindler has used his or her silver tongue to get friends out of a sticky situation, only to cheat them out of their pocket money the next night.
As a rule, swindlers are charismatic and personable but have a hidden agenda to make themselves rich by deception. They rob others by spinning webs of half-truths, outright lies, and forgery, getting others to hand over their money freely and willingly. This life is not for anyone with a soft heart and troubled conscience. Still, there are swindlerss who donate some of their “earnings” to charity or special causes. The majority of their money is used for their own comfort, of course, or in whatever schemes they have hatched to better their lots in life.
Swindlers do not often go adventuring (in the traditional sense), but their social graces and abilities at deception and disguise make them helpful in certain endeavors. Any group that a swindler travels with, however, would do well to monitor his or her activities at all times, and be wary of any group plans the swindler hatches.
- A swindler who takes a minimum of one month to plan out a scheme, then makes a successful Reason check, gains a +1 bonus to any Disguise checks for his primary disguise in the scheme.
- A swindler is so skilled at lying that he adds a +1 bonus to his saving throw for every four levels of experience he has, when confronted with a detect lie spell.
- Corrupting games of chance is the mountebank’s forte. A swindler gains a +1 bonus to his Gaming proficiency score every four levels when making Gaming checks but also reduces his chances to be caught by one step every four levels. Thus, a 9th-level swindler who cheats gains a +3 bonus to his ability score, and he is caught only on a roll of 20. From 13th level onward, a swindler who rolls a 20 while cheating at a game still avoids being caught if he can make a Reason check on 4d6.
- A swindler excels at smoothtalking his way out of trouble. If confronted by hostile opponents and battle has not yet been joined, the swindler can step forward and talk to the angry people before him in an attempt to defuse the situation. All hostile beings within 30 feet of the swindler are subject to smoothtalking, but the swindler must speak to them in a language they can hear and understand. A group Willpower check is rolled on 1d20, based on the highest Willpower score among those confronting the swindler. The check is made at a penalty equal to the swindler’s reaction adjustment (based on his Appearance score), plus his level. If the Willpower check is failed, the hostile mob is calmed, but only for 4d4 rounds. Anyone with the swindler must say and do nothing during the time he is smoothtalking, or the effect is lost. The swindler and his associates can use this time to leave. (They should run out of sight of their opponents, who return to their initial reaction the moment the smoothtalking wears off.) The second time this power is used on any being, the Willpower check is left unmodified. This power does not work a third time on the same being.
- Because swindlers are so skilled at faking their personalities, lying, and concealing their feelings and reactions, they can see right through false personae and verbal trickery when others attempt them. As the old saying goes, “You can’t con a con man.” Any time a swindler player requests it, he can try to determine if someone is lying, operating under false pretenses, or swindling him. A Reason check is rolled. Success means the swindler realizes the deception.
Furthermore, a Reason check with a -10 penalty enables the swindler to determine a person’s alignment. This requires that the swindler speak with and observe the individual for 1d10 rounds.
- Masquerade: The ability of masquerading requires much study, time, and effort on the part of the swindler. This enables a swindler to appear to have a specific skill. This is not a disguise, rather, it is the ability to appear proficient at the chosen skill. The character picks up the language (‘buzz words’), professional mannerisms, and general techniques to help him in his endeavor. A swindler can use his masquerade ability to fake any non-weapon proficiency. Furthermore, if the swindler rolls a successful Reason check with a -10 penalty, he actually functions as if he really knows the proficiency (for this one check only). Thus, a swindler can actually succeed just enough to keep skeptics satisfied.
- The swindler is a fun character to have around, but he or she usually leaves bad tempers behind when he or she departs. His or her opportunistic behavior makes it difficult for the swindler to make longterm friendships or keep allies, eventually leaving the character to face the woes of his or her own making alone. Apply a -3 modifier to all reaction rolls from NPCs who know the swindler’s true nature but have not themselves been cheated by him, the swindler’s victims automatically start as hostile.
The longer a swindler plies his or her trade, the more numerous his or her former victims become, making it almost inevitable that one day, when the swindler least expects it, his or her path will cross that of an “old friend.” Often, the previous victim is very glad to find the swindler who made him or her feel like a fool and walked off with a goodly amount of his or her money. The swindler, naturally, might not be so delighted with the reunion.
- A swindler never gains followers or henchmen of any sort; as no one trusts him for very long. He may have short-term hirelings, but these are just as likely to fall victim to his schemes as anyone else.
- A swindler prefers to cheat people, rather than murdering them. Regardless of class, the swindler never gains the Backstab ability.
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