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Courier Prestige Class

17 March, 2010

This prestige class was designed to go with the Through the Lens of History article on mail and messengers but I broke it out to keep that post from being too long.  This prestige class is designed as a framework to be customized to each setting/campaign, hope that you find it useful:

Courier
Yes, I can get it there for you.”

There is always someone needed to deliver messages, whether it is the king, a merchants’ guild or someone in love.  The courier is an expert in such tasks, taking messages and goods to places near and far.  Her livelihood is based on her ability to get the messages through in a timely manner and her knowledge of the tricks of the trade are extensive.

Role: To travel quickly, either alone or with a small group.

Alignment: Couriers may be of any alignment, some are free spirits others are extremely dutiful and disciplined.

Hit Dice: d8

Requirements
To qualify to become  aCourier, a character must fulfill the following criteria.
Base Fortitude Save: +3
Skill: Knowledge (local) and Knowledge (geography), a total of 5 ranks between both skills, Diplomacy 2 ranks, Survival 2 ranks
Feat: City Messenger or Endurance or Rider’s Endurance
Special: Must have a reputation as a successful messenger.

Class Skills

The Courier’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are The Courier’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Acrobatics (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Fly (Dex), Handle Animal (Cha), Heal (Wis), Knowledge (geography) (Int), Knowledge (local) (Int), Knowledge (nature) (Int), Perception (Wis), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), Stealth (Dex), Swim (Str).

Skill Points at Each Level: 6 + Int modifier.

Class Level / Base Attack / Fort / Ref / Will / Special
1st / +0 / +1 / +1 / +0 / Courier Style, Smooth the Way, Token
2nd / +1 / +1 / +1 / +1 / Conceal Message, Mobility
3rd / +2 / +2 / +2 / +1 / Improved Courier Style, Sense Danger
4th / +3 / +2 / +2 / +1 / Reputation for Efficiency, Uncanny Dodge
5th / +3 / +3 / +3 / +2 / Courier Style Mastery

Class Features
All of the following are class features of the Courier prestige class.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: The courier gains no weapon or armor proficiencies.

Courier Style (Ex): The courier must choose to be either a foot or mounted courier.
Foot couriers gain a +5 ft bonus to their movement for calculating overland movement rates only. Mounted couriers confers upon their mount a +5 ft bonus to movement for calculating overland movement rates only.

Smooth the Way (Ex): The courier has become adept in dealing with petty officials and overcoming minor obstructions. The courier adds her Courier level to any check involving coping with bureaucracy and stable masters, bribing officials and other such tasks.

Token (Ex): Each courier has a token to mark both her identity and who, if anyone, she works for. The token will give a +2 circumstance bonus to Diplomacy checks when dealing with other messengers, gate guards, and other travelers and people involved in business.

Conceal Message (Ex): Some messages must not be found if they are to be delivered safely. The courier gains a bonus equal to twice her Courier level to any check involving hiding or concealing a message or package.  She also gains a bonus equal to her Courier class level to resist any attempt to gain information on the messages she carries by trickery or magic.

Mobility (Ex): The courier gains Mobility as a bonus feat, even if she does not meet the prerequisites for this feat.

Improved Courier Style (Ex): Foot couriers gain a +10 ft bonus to their movement for calculating overland movement rates only. A mounted courier confers upon her mount a +10 ft bonus to movement for calculating overland movement rates only.

The courier can now encourage others to pick up the pace, conferring a +5 ft bonus to the appropriate movements type (foot or mounted) for overland travel for a number of people or mounts up to twice her courier level.

Sense Danger (Ex): The courier gains a +2 bonus to Perception and Sense Motive checks to notice ambushes and anyone attempting to steal from them.

Reputation for Efficiency (Ex): The courier is well known as one of the best couriers in her area.  The bonuses she receives for her Token are increased to +3 and she gains a +2 to all Diplomacy check to gather information.

Uncanny Dodge
(Ex): At 4th level, a courier retains her Dexterity bonus to AC (if any) even if she is caught flat-footed or struck by an invisible attacker. However, she still loses her Dexterity bonus to AC if immobilized. If a courier already has uncanny dodge from a different class, she automatically gains improved uncanny dodge instead.

Courier Style Mastery (Ex): Foot couriers gain a +5 ft bonus to their base movement which stacks with the earlier Courier Style bonus for calculating overland movement rates (for a total of +15 ft to movement for overland travel). A mounted courier confers upon her mount a +5 ft bonus to base movement which stacks with the earlier Courier Style bonus for calculating overland movement rates (for a total of +15 ft to movement for overland travel).

When she uses the pick up the pace ability, she may effect either three times as many people or mounts (as appropriate) as her Courier level or add +10 ft for calculating overland movement to a number of people or mount up to her Courier level.

The courier also gains a +2 bonus to her initiative checks.

Notes: This is designed as a generic courier class, there is obvious room for customizing it for particular campaigns or settings. In fact, without such customization it is on the weak side for a prestige class.

Example additional abilities
:

Live off the Land (Ex): The Courier gains a bonus to Survival checks to find food equal to her Courier class level.  She also gains a +1 bonus to resist natural poisons and diseases.

Nimble Rider (Ex): While mounted, the courier gains a +1 circumstance bonus to her armor class as she uses her mount as a shield. If she has the Mounted Combat feat, she gains a +2 competence bonus to her Ride checks to negate a hit against her mount.

Nimble Runner (Ex): In any round the courier moves half or more of her base move she gains a +1 Dodge bonus to her armor class, she gains this even if performing a run action (which usually denies Dodge bonuses to AC).

Requisition Mount (Ex): A royal messenger has the right to demand the use of any mount while delivering a royal message. How willing the current owner will be to give over their mount is up to the DM.

As a design choice, the class as written has only extraordinary abilities (to simulate a ‘historical’ courier). However, for a high magic D&D campaign, there are several spell-like abilities that could easily be added to this class: cat’s grace, endure elements, expeditious retreat, locate object, longstrider, mount, pass without trace. An option would be to allow the courier to choose one for each level of the courier class, each cast once a day at the courier’s class level, with a mounted courier being able to cast expeditious retreat and longstrider on her mount.

2 comments

  1. Seems reasonable. I don’t know that I’d restrict them to foot or mounted. It seems that over any distance almost all couriers would use both.

    Sigurd


    • Historically, messengers were pretty much one or the other: riders or runners, as each requires specialized physical training. But for your campaign, do what works for you and the players.



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