Puppeteer, 2nd Variant (3.5e Class)
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The puppeteer is never alone, with or without her trusty marionettes she never faces combat alone
Making a Puppeteer
The Puppeteer relies on his puppet for combat, and focuses on dexterity for the complex movements needed to move the marionette.
Abilities: Dexterity allows the Puppeteer to control their puppet to the best of their ability, and high intelligence helps craft and repair it
Races: Humans, elves, and halflings are all most suited to the merriment associated with playful puppets, but any race could master their combat utility
Alignment: Most Puppeteers are chaotic to mimic the erratic gestures, but some find other ways to control with smoother movements
Starting Gold: 6d4 × 10 (150 gp).
Starting Age: Moderate
|1st||+0||+0||+2||+2||Puppet Style, Puppetry, Patch up|
|3rd||+2||+1||+3||+3||Puppet Fray, Strings +20|
|5th||+3||+1||+4||+4||Entangle, Shadowy Puppeteer|
|6th||+4||+2||+5||+5||Rotate, Strings +50|
|13th||+9/+4||+4||+8||+8||Puppet Mastery +1|
|15th||+11/+6/+1||+5||+9||+9||Strings +150, Awakening +1|
|20th||+15/+10/+5||+6||+12||+12||Strings +200, Awakening +2, String Mastery|
Class Skills (6 + Int modifier per level, ×4 at 1st level)
Puppeteers do not focus on combat for themselves. They are ultimately controllers of many, and their features reflect as such. All of the following are class features of the Puppeteer.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: The Puppeteer is proficient with all simple weapons and light armor.
Lumbering Grants Puppet a d10 Hit Die and a size one category larger then the user.
Stretched Grants higher BAB and a secondary attack, base attack bonus +1 at first, +2 at 5th, +3 at 10th, +4 at 15th, +5 at 20th.
Heroic Allows the puppet to wield one, one handed martial weapon, and a light wooden shield.
Puppetry: The Puppeteer herself will rarely attack, instead she relies on her puppets to do the work for her. Deploying the puppet is a swift action, in which the puppet must be deployed 10ft in any direction of the puppeteer. The Puppeteer may not move closer then 10 ft to her puppet at any time, and whenever she moves the puppet moves in tandem, being allowed to rotate as a move action (Use a portion of available movement on the puppet). The Puppeteer cannot attack directly while the puppet is deployed, and may instead use her standard actions to attack using the puppet. Puppets do damage based on size, Small - 1d6 Medium - 1d8 Large - 1d10, and so on. The puppets use the Puppeteer's BAB and DEX to calculate their BAB (With exceptions on Stretched puppets). When puppets reach 0 HP their strings are severed and thus rendered inanimate.
Strings The Puppeteer begins with specialized strings for her puppet, at level 1 they are 10 ft, increase to 20 ft at 3rd, 50 ft at 6th, 80 ft at 9th, 110 ft at 12th, 150 ft at 15th, and 200 ft at 20th. The length of the string determines how far away the Puppeteer can be away from her puppet, but no matter how long the strings grow a puppet may not get closer then 10 ft from it's Puppeteer.
Patch up At level 1, the Puppeteer may freely spend one half hour at any time to restore their puppet's HP 1d6 at a time. If a puppet reaches 0 HP it will take an uninterrupted five hours of work to repair it to half health.
Whirlwind At level 2, the Puppeteer has learned how to better move with her puppet, and may now choose to rapid spin herself or her puppet around the other party in the radius allowed by available string, and return to their original placement. If the puppet is moved any creature in the radius will take one step lower a die of damage then usual (1d6 to 1d4, etc) with a reflex save (DC 10+DEX+BAB) to half the damage. If the Puppeteer is moved she will deal no damage but gain a +2 to AC for the remainder of the round, as her erratic movement has thrown enemies off.
Puppet Fray At level 3, Your puppet may now move in a much more erratic manner, manifested by spastic movement, jumping at a target, or violent shaking while attacking. This attack will roll damage normally as nonlethal damage, and cause creatures with less HD then the puppet to be frightened for 1 round for every 2 levels, up to 10.
Puppet Blur At level 4, the Puppeteer has grown to be so fast when maneuvering her puppet that she gains 20% concealment while the puppet is active.
Entangle When using the Whirlwind attack at level 5 and up, when the Puppeteer spins, enemies make a Reflex (DC10+DEX+BAB) save any creature caught in the radius and failed their reflex save becomes entangled in strings. a DC 10 escape artist will free them, or a DC 30 Strength check, which will also stun the Puppeteer for 1 round.
Shadow Puppeteer At level 5, the Puppeteer is beginning to learn how to use misdirection via her puppet, and her own body in order to keep herself out of harms way. She is counted as invisible if she is within 30ft of her puppet. unless spotted by a DC 20 Spot check.
Rotate At level 6, the puppet may now freely rotate around the Puppeteer, the distance away from her the puppet is, is the radius it must remain as it moves to any point in a circle around her in a move action.
Strangle At level 7, any enemy caught by entangle is now unable to breath and takes 1d4 bleed damage per round. If they do not escape within the first round, they are unable to speak for each round they spent under the effects. The escape artist DC is now 10 + Puppeteer's BAB + DEX.
Bonding At level 7, you and your puppet have bonded to close friends. It will begin to show a semblance of life at times granting a +2 to all CHA and DEX based checks. Your puppet may now come within 10ft of you while active, and while occupying the same space it will take any attack meant for you.
Puppet Swap At level 8, you and your puppet may now switch locations as a move action unless a creature is directly in between the two. May also be readied as a standard action to activate upon an incoming attack.
Phantom Marionette At level 10, your puppet gains the ability to temporarily detach itself from your strings and act as it's own unit. This is activated as a swift action, after which both parties can move and attack separately, and gain a +6 flanking bonus if they both attack the same target. Duration: 1 round/3 levels of Puppeteer.
Advanced Control At level 11, you've mastered the art of puppetry, your puppet gains all of your feats, Dexterity, and may be used for teamwork feats.
Puppet Mastery At level 13, Now that you've mastered one puppet, you are able to build a second one of any style. The second puppet will lack any of the specialty skills developed with the original until you've bonded. The second puppet however does get to move with the same move and standard actions as the first, as in they may both move to their maximum distance, same string length, and may both attack at the same time (Providing normal bonuses).
Advanced Whirlwind At level 14, now with two puppets under your control you have much more variety to your whirlwind attack. You can choose to have one or both puppet rotate around you, dealing the normal one die lower damage each, with a Reflex save of 15+DEX+BAB for half damage. Or you could rotate yourself, dealing damage of your size and dazing creatures caught in the radius with no ill effects to yourself.
Awakening At level 15, your first puppet has grown sentient and can now act freely on it's own set of actions. It is treated as a separate unit, may do any action another player character would, provides a +6 flanking bonus to the Puppeteer, +4 to the second puppet. Mental stats will be rolled for the puppet, rerolling anything below 8. The puppet however is still attached via strings to the Puppeteer, and thus gives the benefits.
Second bonding Same as previous bonding, applied to your second puppet at level 16.
Wild Strings At level 17, you may now use strings as a weapon. This attack is a full round action targeted at a single target that will entangle them with a escape artist DC 20 check or Strength DC 35 to escape, dealing 10d6 damage, bringing both puppets within 20 ft of the target, suffocating the target, and leaving a 1d8 bleed for 1d12 rounds if kept for more then three rounds. While entangled the puppets cannot move more then 20ft away, and the puppeteer is unable to perform any actions.
Mind Marionette At level 18 you can attempt to directly control any creature as a puppet, the target must succeed a DC 25 Will save. If they fail, the target will be under total control of the puppeteer for up to 10 minutes. While controlling the creature the unawakened puppet may not act, the puppeteer is considered helpless, and the awakened puppet is tethered to 5 ft around the puppeteer.
String Speed At level 19, all three parties may now move to the limit of the strings as a swift action.
Second Awakening At level 20, your second puppet is now awakened, same bonuses as the first.
String Mastery At level 20, you've mastered weaponizing your strings, now your puppets may both make two standard actions in a turn, and you may teleport within any area the strings would allow as a swift action.
If they forgo their companions they lose the connections with their strings and the puppets become mundane
Puppeteers are perfectly fitting for any high magic game where entertainers would be common place. Although these magical ones tend to be a bit psychotic so you wouldn't want to place them in a children's theatre
Playing a Puppeteer
Religion: Any religion
Other Classes: RP wise they would have good fun with jesters and bards, but their silly often spastic or erratic movements might disturb the more serious folk
Combat: Hide and let the puppets do the work, restrain the big bad guy, if the puppet dies; RUN
Advancement: Don't multiclass, those little puppets are pals for life.
Puppeteers in the World
Puppeteers are commonly seen alongside circus folk or other entertainers. Their art is unique but not in high demand, making them occupy a niche of the entertainment industry. They have some reputation for being able to use their powers like that of other controllers, like golemancers and necromancers. The power to command many is one that is taken seriously, even if they tend to be found in less serious settings.
Daily Life: Puppeteers spend a lot of time perfecting their craft and their little friends. They spend a lot of their mornings and nights maintaining and polishing their dearest dolls and treating them almost like prize pets.
Notables: Puppeteers can be found as sort of lower-society people. Few rise to extreme prominence, though they might be heads of a traveling circus or such. Some are more shady, occupying seemingly harmless puppet-play stands whilst watching society with scorn.
Organizations: There is no big organization of puppeteers. They are scattered around the world most of the time due to other controlling arts being more popular on average.
NPC Reactions: Many find puppeteers strange, but no more strange than maybe a ventriloquist. Seeing them playing with puppets may make some scoff or laugh at their profession.
Characters with ranks in Gather Information, Profession, Performance and Spellcraft can research puppeteers to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.
Puppeteers in the Game
You can have puppeteers as informants or comic relief if they are NPCs. Some are more belligerent, particularly those who are devoted to a darker side of controlling dolls.
Adaptation: puppeteer spy, puppeteer ringman
Sample Encounter: You encounter a smiling man sitting before the gates of the coliseum. He seems content, playing with the strings attached to two marionettes. When you look at their movement, it seems almost as if the man needn't move them, and they click and clack their mouths of their own volition. You can almost swear one of them winked at you.