How Not to be Seen

Something like a ranger, but with a decidedly sinister frame of mind, the Huntsman is a warrior with many of a thief’s skills. Most of them are encountered as NPCs (non-player characters) for reasons that will become self-evident. While they can work well with a party, their outlook on life means that unless the group they have joined is exceptionally open-minded, the Huntsman will more than likely not be welcome once their part of the adventure is complete.

Huntsmen can be of any race except gnomes, standard elves (dark and shadow are allowed), halflings, and dwarves. It is an ideal class for goblinoid PCs (player characters) and other non-human characters, but for somebody just wanting to try something new, they will find a human Huntsman just as deadly as any other. Huntsmen can be of any non-good alignment, but only those that choose the path of evil have full access to all aspects of a Huntsman’s skillset. They follow the same level progression as do Rangers, and have the hit die, THAC0, and other attributes of a Warrior, except as noted. In order to be a Huntsman, a character must have a minimum strength of 16, dexterity of 15, and wisdom of 12. They are forbidden from using any metal armor, even if it is magically enchanted to allow free movement, but are permitted to use any and all weapons available to Warriors with the same hindrances that they must adhere to.

There are a number of bonuses that Huntsmen begin with immediately. First of all, they have the ability to brew poisons (if evil aligned, they can actually use them against their foes, otherwise they cannot). Secondly, they have both hunting and tracking as free non-weapon proficiencies, allowing them to expend their slots on other things. While they cannot utilize weapon specialization as can a regular Warrior, they more than make up for this with their ability to backstab. This skill functions the same as a Rogue, but with the added bonus of a 10% per level (cumulative) chance to kill the victim outright. In order for the backstab to be successful, it must meet all of the criteria for such an attack as laid out for Rogues in the Player’s Handbook.

Other Rogue skills allowed to a Huntsman are as follows to begin with, and first level Huntsmen can add an additional 40 points to these numbers in any fashion they choose (but no more than 20 in any one skill). Every time they go up a level, they get another 20 points to improve their skills (no more than 10 of which can be placed in any one skill):

Open Locks = 10%

Find/Remove Traps = 5%

Move Silently = 15%

Hide in Shadows = 15%

Climb Walls = 50%

Other bonuses of being a Huntsman are achieved as they level up, and result from the Huntsman’s close connection to shamanic power. At 5th level, they can “Speak With Animals” as per the 2nd level Priest spell (once per day at 5th level, then twice at 10th level, and three times at 15th level). At 7th level, they gain the ability to polymorph themselves, as per the 4th level Wizard spell (except that the Huntsman can keep their new form indefinitely unless forced to relinquish it), into any normal rodent, once per day.  At 10th level, they attract a 2nd level Huntsman who serves as a loyal follower (at the GM’s discretion). Note that Huntsmen do not attract other followers as do Warriors. At 11th level, the Huntsman can polymorph themselves into any normal canine, once per day (see previous notes for their 7th level ability). At 15th level, the Huntsman can polymorph themselves, as per the spell, into any normal bird, once per day (see previous notes for their 7th level ability).

Huntsmen can accumulate vast sums of gold and treasure with no restriction. They owe their allegiance to whomever they please, and since they are typically loners, they attract very few fans as their reputations grow. As much as the common man loves and adores a paladin, they will fear and avoid a Huntsman. It is the only character class in which a Jor is allowed to level up indefinitely, and everything about them is based on the description of a Jor as it was originally presented in “Dragon Magazine.”