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Minrothad Merchant-Prince

by Troy Terrell from Threshold Magazine issue 3

a 3.5 prestige class

by Troy Terrell (CmdrCorsiken)

[Image: Robert Rich (1587–1658), Second Earl of Warwick]

“Flamboyant fellows they are, all puffed up with themselves. So they can conjure elementals. So can any Glantri lord worth the name! But Minrothaddans regard them as nobility for their spell casting as much as their money. Hmm…. Perhaps they’re learning something from us after all.” --Vinciento de Belcadiz, Glantri Ambassador to Minrothad.1

In the island nation of Minrothad, there is a long tradition of magic used aboard ship to aid in seafaring. Since most elvish captains knew a little sea or weather magic, the combination of merchant skill and spell casting became identified as one in the person of the Merchant-Prince of Minrothad. This combination of magic and skill make him a cunning businessman, a skilled seaman, as well as an effective leader. He is capable of successfully leading his crew through the many dangers of weather and commerce, with a tidy profit at the end.

Rogues and rangers with experience in professions and crafts associated with seafaring and trade make the best merchant-princes. Bards, druids, and wizards can also attain the necessary skills, but usually focus on their own spellcasting development and are more often employed in support roles or as companions to established merchant-princes. The same can be said for clerics of ocean deities.

NPC merchant-princes are often the most elite of experts in fields associated with seafaring and trading, master navigators and master craftsmen. Only a few are admitted to the exclusive academy which trains its students in the arts of sea and air magic.

Alignment: Any.

Hit Die: d6

Requirements

To qualify to become a Minrothad merchant-prince, a character must fulfill all the following criteria.

Skills: Appraise 3 ranks, Bluff or Diplomacy 3 ranks, Profession (sailor) 6 ranks, Craft (any) or Profession (any) 3 ranks.

Feats: Negotiator

Special: The character must either hail from one of the islands of Minrothad or must have worked aboard a Minrothad merchant vessel for at least two years. The character must also apply to and be admitted to the prestigious Minrothad Merchant Academy.

Class Skills: Appraise, Balance, Bluff, Climb, Concentration, Craft, Diplomacy, Gather Information, Jump, Knowledge (arcana), Knowledge (geography), Knowledge (nature), Listen, Profession, Sense Motive, Speak Language, Spellcraft, Spot, Survival, Swim, Use Rope.

Skill Points at Each Level: 4 + Int modifier.

Class Features

All of the following are class features of the Minrothad Merchant Prince.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Minrothad Merchant-Princes gain no additional weapon or armor proficiencies.

Spells per day: A Minrothad Merchant-Prince prepares and casts arcane spells according to Table 1. To cast a spell, he must have a Charisma score of at least 10 + the spell’s level. Bonus spells are based on Charisma, and saves against these spells have a DC of 10 + spell level + the merchant-prince’s Charisma modifier. When he gets 0 spells of a given level, he gets only bonus spells. A merchant-prince has access to any spell on the list (below) and can freely choose which to prepare.

Water Focus: At 1st level and higher, he casts all spells with the ‘water’ descriptor, including those modified to be such, at +1 caster level. At 6th level and higher, he casts them at +2 caster levels. Any save DCs increase by the same amount, +1 at first level, +2 at sixth.

Leadership: At 1st level, a Minrothad merchant-prince gains the Leadership feat without having to meet the normal prerequisites.

Air Focus: The other vital aspect of a Minrothad merchant-prince’s is air magic. At 2nd level and higher, he casts all spells with the ‘air’ descriptor, including those modified to be such, at +1 caster level. At 7th level and higher, he casts them at +2 caster levels. Any save DCs increase by the same amount, +1 at second, +2 at seventh.

Weather Sense: At 2nd level a Minrothad merchant-prince’s connection to the forces of air and water provide additional insight into weather patterns. When on the ocean or within eight miles of an ocean or large lake (at least 50 square miles in area), he gains a +1 bonus to all Survival and Knowledge (nature) checks involving weather prediction or phenomena. This bonus increases by +1 each even level attained.

Resourceful Trader: At 3rd level, a Minrothad merchant-prince’s growing list of business contacts and specialized dealers allow him to treat any community as one size larger for purposes of the maximum price item that can be bought or sold.

Wind at your back: At 5th level, any ship commanded by a Minrothad prince moves at one mile per hour faster than normal.

Bonus feat: At 5th and 9th level, a Minrothad prince may select a feat from the following list: Acrobatic, Athletic, Charlatan, Diligent, Great Fortitude, Iron Will, Lightning Reflexes, Persuasive, Sea Legs, Ship’s Mage, Trustworthy, any Metamagic. He must still meet all requirements for whatever feat he selects.

Merchant-Prince Spell List

Minrothad merchant-princes choose their spells from the following list:

0 level – Create Water, Daze, Detect Sea Life*, Light, Mending, Purify Food and Drink, Read Magic

1st level – Endure Elements, Entangle, Faerie Fire, Obscuring Mist, Produce Flame, Speak with Sea Creatures*, Summon Sea Creature I*, Wave Blessing (SW)

2nd level – Call Lightning, Fog Cloud, Make Whole, Resist Energy, Stormrunner’s Ward (SW), Summon Sea Creature II*, Swim (SW), Warp Wood, Whispering Wind

3rd level – Detect Ship (SW), Favorable Wind (SW), Fire Ball, Lightning Bolt, Protection from Energy, Quench, Summon Sea Creature III*, Water Breathing, Water Walk

4th level – Air Walk, Control Currents (SW), Control Water, Disguise Ship (SW), Freedom of Movement, Sending, Summon Sea Creature IV*, Tongues, Wake Trailing (SW)

5th level – Call Lightning Storm, Control Winds, Find Port*, Summon Sea Creature V*, True Seeing

6th level – Acid Fog, Chain Lightning, Control Weather, Summon Air/Water Elemental*

(SW) = spells from Stormwrack2

*Specialized Spells

Detect Sea Life: as Detect Animals or Plants, but only animals and plants of the sea.

Find Port: as Find the Path, but only toward a known port.

Speak with Sea Creatures: as Speak with Animals, but only with creatures native to the sea.

Summon Air/Water Elemental: as Summon Nature’s Ally VII, but only for air or water elemental.

Summon Sea Creature: as Summon Nature’s Ally, but only brings creatures native to the sea.

Design Notes

In adapting the Minrothad Merchant-Prince class from Gazetteer 9 Minrothad Guilds, I initially considered developing a full base class progression. However, with the significant differences in how classes in the BECMI rules and the 3.5 rules progress, a prestige class seemed the best way to bring the Minrothad Merchant-Price into the 3.5 ruleset.

Still, since the original class could be taken by a 1st-level character, it was necessary to make entry into the prestige class possible at a rather early character level. Thus, it is possible to enter this prestige class as early as 4th level, which is two to four levels sooner than most 3.5 prestige classes. The in-world, setting-specific circumstances included in the requirements allow the DM to control access.

As spellcasting is fundamental to the Minrothad Merchant-Prince, a workable spell progression was needed. Given the emphasis on magic inherent to the original class, a fairly focused but relatively aggressive progression was in order; thus, a tightly limited spell list with seven total spell levels available.

Water and air magic in particular are key aspects of a Minrothad Merchant-Prince’s seafaring magical abilities. A scaling bonus to the casting variables of those types of spells was a simple way to represent this.

Similarly, a scaling bonus on skill checks related to weather, along with an increase in the speed of his vessel, fills the need for advancing seafaring prowess.

Making business deals is another aspect of the Minrothad Merchant-Prince’s abilities. While much of this is covered by normal skill advancement, an additional special ability to make more lucrative deals provides an interesting twist.

Recruiting a loyal crew is also important to a Minrothad Merchant-Prince, so granting the Leadership feat early was an easy choice.

Finally, a couple of bonus feats allows for some extra customization from one merchant-prince character to another.



Table 1: The Minrothad Merchant-Prince

------------- Spells per Day -----------














Level

Base Attack

Fort Save

Ref Save

Will Save

Special

0

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

5th

6th

1st

+0

+0

+2

+2

Water focus +1, leadership

2

1

0

--

--

--

--

2nd

+1

+0

+3

+3

Air focus +1, weather sense +1

2

2

1

0

--

--

--

3rd

+2

+1

+3

+3

Resourceful trader

3

2

2

0

--

--

--

4th

+3

+1

+4

+4

Weather sense +2

3

3

2

1

0

--

--

5th

+3

+1

+4

+4

Wind at your back, bonus feat

4

3

3

2

0

--

--

6th

+4

+2

+5

+5

Water focus +2, weather sense +3

4

4

3

3

1

0

--

7th

+5

+2

+5

+5

Air focus +2

5

4

4

3

2

0

--

8th

+6

+2

+6

+6

Weather sense +4

5

5

4

4

2

1

0

9th

+6

+3

+6

+6

Bonus feat

6

5

5

4

3

2

1

10th

+7

+3

+7

+7

Weather sense +5

6

6

5

5

3

2

2





1 GAZ9: The Minrothad Guilds Dungeon Master's Booklet page 16

2 © 2005 Wizards of the Coast