Hivemaster (3.5e Class)
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The buzzing of swarms of insects follows a hivemaster wherever she goes. She allows herself to be the host to colonies of bugs, culminating in an insidious collective of ferocious creatures.
Making a Hivemaster
The strengths of giant vermin are those of the hivemaster. While she starts exclusively using the bugs at her command for offense, she eventually develops some insectoid traits of her own, becoming a heaviliy armed and armored monster.
Abilities: Strength and Constitution are the most important abilities for a hivemaster. Strength allows her to fight as she gains natural weapons. Aside from the obvious, Constitution affect the DC's of all her abilities, decreasing her foes' survivability as well as increasing her own.
Races: Drow make the most infamous hivemasters; with a culture already obsessed with spiders, many drow of either gender find the path of the hivemaster attractive. The calling of the hivemaster usually only appeals to the perverse members of most other races, but anything's possible.
Starting Gold: 1d6×10 gp (25 gp).
Starting Age: Simple.
|1st||+0||+2||+0||+2||Swarm, Vermin Companion, Verminfriend|
|3rd||+2||+3||+1||+3||Aspect of the Vermin, Sudden Metamorphosis|
|4th||+3||+4||+1||+4||Paragon of Filth, Plague|
|7th||+5||+5||+2||+5||Aspect of the Vermin|
|11th||+8/+3||+7||+3||+7||Aspect of the Vermin|
|15th||+11/+6/+1||+9||+5||+9||Aspect of the Vermin|
|19th||+14/+9/+4||+11||+6||+11||Aspect of the Vermin|
|20th||+15/+10/+5||+12||+6||+12||Lord of the Flies|
Class Skills (4 + Int modifier per level, ×4 at 1st level)
All of the following are class features of the hivemaster.
Weapon & Armor Proficiency: A hivemaster is proficient with all simple weapons and light armor, but will usually neglect both as she gains levels.
Swarm (Ex): The insect colonies growing on the hivemaster's body create millons of bugs, and the hivemaster can create a swarm from these little parasites. As a standard action, the hivemaster can unleash a cloud of vermin that deals 1d6 damage per level to anyone in a five-foot square that she designates. The swarm may move up to a distance of 30 feet + 5 feet per hivemaster level, and once they have attacked they disperse and come immediately back to the hivemaster. The swarm strikes as a magical weapon for the purposes of overcoming damage reduction and is invulnerable to attack. The hivemaster takes no damage or negative effects from being in her own swarm. A hivemaster can only use this ability once per round, regardless of what other abilities she attains as she gains levels. Directing the swarm requires a standard action.
Verminfriend: A hivemaster gains Verminfriend as a bonus feat even if she does not meet the prerequisites.
Vermin Companion (Ex): A hivemaster gains a vermin companion at 1st level, either a monstrous centipede, spider, or scorpion. The vermin companion always has the same amount of HD as the hivemaster (equal to her character level), advancing in size when it reaches the next appropriate HD total. A monstrous centipede, for example, would increase to Large size at 3 Hit Dice, Huge size at 6 Hit Dice, and so on. Alternatively, a monstrous spider companion would increase to Medium size once it reaches 2 HD, Large size at 4 HD, etc.
The vermin companion gains bonuses to Strength with its increased size, and also shares the Constitution score of its master (including all bonuses from magical items or inherent bonuses, which are transferred through the bond made between the hivemaster and her vermin companion). For the purpose of convenience, the vermin companion can shrink to Tiny size. Doing so (or shifting back to it's full size) is a free action.
If the hivemaster ever loses her vermin companion, she may grow a new one inside her own body. Normally, this process takes 24 hours and does not harm the hivemaster, but if she wishes she may forcibly grow a new companion as a full-round action in which the new companion feasts on her flesh to grow at an unnatural pace, dealing 1d4 damage per character level to the hivemaster.
Exoskeleton (Ex): Like most of the bugs that grow on and around her body, the hivemaster develops a layer of extraordinarily tough chitin. Starting at second level, she gains a natural armor bonus to AC equal to one half her class level (round down). This bonus stacks with any other source of natural armor.
Aspect of the Vermin (Ex): The hivemaster takes on traits of bugs by taking a Hivemaster feat, which grants him additional benefits according to her hivemaster level. She gains her first Hivemaster feat at third level and another one every four levels thereafter. A hivemaster may also take a Hivemaster feat at any other level at which she gains a feat so long as she has acquired this class feature.
Sudden Metamorphosis (Ex): A hivemaster of 3rd level or higher has the ability to spontaneously grow a new piece of insectoid anatomy. This ability may be used once per hour, and grants the benefits of one [Hivemaster] feat for a number of rounds equal to the hivemaster's class level. Choosing what feat she wishes to replicate is a free action, but the changes take time and do not come into effect until the start of the hivemaster's next turn.
Paragon of Filth (Ex): The hivemaster is a host to numerous bugs and other assorted things that don't always play nice. Sometimes she is the victim of their hunger, and her body becomes warped by infections and venom that increase her resistance to later invaders and other nasty things. At 4th level, a hivemaster becomes immune to all poisons and diseases, even those of magical nature.
Plague (Ex): The hivemaster's swarm now delivers a distraction effect at 4th level. Any living creature caught in the swarm must succeed at a Fortitude save (DC 10 + 1/2 hivemaster level + Constitution modifier) or be Sickened for 1 round.
Multiattack: As she gains an arsenal of natural weapons, the hivemaster improves her ability to use them in together. She gains Multiattack as a bonus feat at 5th level, and Improved Multiattack at 9th level.
Swarm Armor (Ex): The hivemaster is constantly covered by a swarm of creeping, crawling critters that shield her from harm. These bugs die off as they take hits, but are replenished daily by the colonies growing on the hivemaster's body. The hivemaster's swarm armor negates up to 10 points of damage from any source, but can only nullify a maximum amount of damage per day equal to five points per hivemaster level. Swarm armor in ineffective if the hivemaster is wearing armor.
Spew Vermin (Ex): The hivemaster can now release her swarm attack in a cone as she releases them from her mouth. This ability is still a standard action and counts as the use of the hivemaster's swarm attack. The cone has a distance of 5 feet per two hivemaster levels.
Swollen Swarm (Ex): At 8th level, the hivemaster gains greater command over the swarm of vermin she controls. Her swarm attack now covers up to a 10-foot square and can be unleashed as a move-equivalent action instead of a standard action.
In addition, the hivemaster is now able to allow part of her swarm to remain for 1 round per two class levels, becoming a separate entity that takes up the normal 10-foot square and has a speed of 20 feet. A hivemaster can only have one such swarm in existence at a time and cannot dismiss any previously existing swarm to summon a new one. This swarm deals half of the hivemaster's normal swarm damage and carries the effect of her distraction ability. The swarm is under her mental control and can be commanded as a free action, but if she is unable to control it remains in its current position and continues to do damage to other creatures in the squares in occupies. Even if the hivemaster uses spew vermin, the size of the swarm created is a 10-foot square.
The swarm created by a hivemaster or it's vermin companion (see below) can never gain an Intelligence score or join a hive mind that requires it to have one. It may still, however, partake in the hive mind created by the hivemaster's collective consciousness class feature.
Collective Consciousness (Su): All friendly vermin within a radius of 20 feet per class level around the hivemaster become part of a collective consciousness that she creates upon reaching 12th level. Her swarms, vermin companion, and the companion’s summoned swarms can all be included in this group.
Any participant in the collective consciousness is in constant communication with the whole. If one is aware of a particular danger, they all are. Unless all are flanked or caught flat-footed, none are. As the hive’s leader, the hivemaster reaps the full benefits of the hive mind, gaining a +1 insight bonus to her Armor Class per two other creatures in the hive mind (note that each 5-foot section of a swarm counts as one creature for the purposes of this ability). The maximum bonus the hivemaster can gain from this ability is equal to one +1 bonus per two class levels she possesses.
Appendage Control (Ex): At 13th level, the hivemaster is perfectly in synch with her vermin limbs. She gains an extra attack for each pair of identical natural weapons (claws or pincers) that she possesses.
Scourge (Ex): The hivemaster's swarm is now even harder to resist. A foe subject to the distraction effect of the swarm is now Sickened for 1d4+1 rounds on a failed save, and increase the save DC for the effect by +2.
Super Swarm (Ex): By 16th level, the hivemaster has attained complete control over the swarms of insects around her. Her swarm attack now covers up to a 20-foot square, and can be released as a swift action. If the hivemaster has already used her swift action for her current turn, the swarm may still be used as a move-equivalent action as before. The hivemaster is still limited to one swarm attack per round.
When the hivemaster chooses to allow her swarm to remain, it now deals her normal swarm damage as well as the distraction effect and moves at a speed of 40 feet.
Monstrosity (Ex): At 17th level, the hivemaster's claws and jaws are all sharpened to a razor's edge. All of her natural attacks gained as a result of Hivemaster feats deal damage as if they were one size category larger than normal. This ability stacks with any previous or future size increases these natural weapons possess.
Swarming Shield (Ex): At 18th level, the hivemaster's swarm armor is dramatically strengthened. She can now block up to 20 points of damage from an individual attack, and an amount of damage per day equal to 10 points per hivemaster level. The constantly moving creatures also make it difficult to target her; there is a 50% chance that any ray fired at the hivemaster will be deflected.
Lord of the Flies (Ex): By level 20, the hivemaster is more vermin than anything else, and this has led to increased empathy and recognition from other vermin. It is now impossible for a vermin of any kind to attack the hivemaster; if directed to do so, it simply will not act. The speed and clarity of communication between the hivemaster and her collective are also greatly increased, allowing for more effective offense and defense. Her swarm attack now uses d8's for its damage dice, and the insight bonus to AC is now a +1 bonus for each creature within the hive (following the same rules as before).
The Hivemaster’s Vermin Companion
|1st–2nd||+0 ft.||+0||Empathic Link, Share Saving Throws|
|3rd–5th||+0 ft.||+0||Virulence, Evasion|
|6th–8th||+10 ft.||+2||Summon Swarm|
|12th–14th||+20 ft.||+6||Battle Vermin|
|15th–17th||+20 ft.||+8||Improved Evasion|
|18th–20th||+30 ft.||+10||Insect Plague|
Natural Armor Adj.: The number noted here is an improvement to the vermin companion’s existing natural armor bonus.
Empathic Link: The hivemaster can detect the presence of her vermin companion out to a distance of 1 mile. This bond also allows the hivemaster and the vermin companion to share Constitution scores.
: The hivemaster and her vermin companion both use whichever of their individual saves are superior.
Virulence: The vermin companion gains Ability Focus with whatever poison it possesses.
Evasion (Ex): The vermin companion takes no damage on a successful Reflex save.
Summon Swarm (Ex): At 6th level, the hivemaster's vermin is recognized as a powerful vermin, and other vermin will respond accordingly. It may now use summon swarm as an extraordinary ability once per encounter.
Multiattack: The vermin companion gains Multiattack as a bonus feat.
Battle Vermin (Ex): At 12th level, the vermin companion gains Improved Natural Attack as a bonus feat with its primary natural weapon. In addition, the hivemaster may now ride the vermin as a mount without any penalties for the vermin being untrained or for not having a saddle.
Improved Evasion (Ex): The vermin companion only takes half damage even on a failed Reflex save.
Insect Plague (Ex): At 18th level, the hivemaster's vermin can now replicate the effects of insect plague (with a caster level equal to the hivemaster's level) once per encounter. This ability replaces the previous summon swarm ability; although the lesser effect may be used, it still counts as the one use of this ability per encounter.
|22nd||Aspect of the Vermin|
|25th||Aspect of the Vermin|
|28th||Aspect of the Vermin|
4 + Int modifier skill points per level.
Swarm: The hivemaster's swarm attack damage continues to increase with every level.
Exoskeleton: The hivemaster's natural armor bonus continues to increase at every even-numbered level.
Aspect of the Vermin: The epic hivemaster continues to gain Hivemaster feats at 22nd, 25th and 28th level.
Bonus Feats: The epic hivemaster gains a bonus feat (selected from the list of epic hivemaster bonus feats) every three levels after 20th.
Epic Hivemaster Bonus Feat List: Armor Skin, Damage Reduction, Energy Resistance, Epic Endurance, Epic Prowess, Epic Toughness, Fast Healing, Great Constitution, Great Strength, Perfect Health, Superior Initiative.
Human Hivemaster Starting Package
Skill Selection: Pick a number of skills equal to 4 + Int modifier.
Feat: Improved Initiative.
Bonus Feats: Power Attack.
Gear: Studded leather armor, Mundane equipment.
Gold: 30 gp.
Playing a Hivemaster
Religion: The few good-aligned hivemasters that exist usually revere gods of nature (the vermin have to come from somewhere). Most are not so pleasant, preferring to worship evil deities that use vermin as their symbols. Lolth is the most common of these, leading to the aforementioned large number of drow hivemasters.
Other Classes: Hivemasters associate well with other classes that revere vermin, but such a fanatical love for bugs is an acquired taste. As a result, the hivemaster is a peculiar and eccentric individual who keeps few friends.
Combat: The hivemaster begins as an intermediate support fighter who uses her swarm ability to devastate opponents at range. As she gains levels, she becomes a formidable foe in melee and at a distance as she acquires a plethora of natural weapons and attack options.
Advancement: Hivemasters that multiclass as spellcasters often take levels in vermin lord, maintaining the same theme while at the same time gaining the spellcasting abilities acquired as a result of the hivemind, which can be created using the hivemaster's swarms of assorted creatures. Others advance as arachnomancers, preferring the complete transformation into their favored form rather than the humanoid beast that being a hivemaster inevitably spawns.
Hivemasters in the World
Hivemasters frequent the dregs of most societies; it is rare to see someone with more insect than humanoid features get very far.
Daily Life: Vermin (and a love of such things) guide every aspect of a hivemaster's life. Her preferred surroundings very much resemble a colony of insects or similar creatures. In the company of her bugs, she often becomes a recluse unless part of a society that shares her values.
Organizations: Hivemasters have no organization to call their own, but they have effectively assimilated into many others. The clergy of vermin deities are the types to most frequently welcome hivemasters into their ranks.
NPC Reactions: People react to hivemasters in much the same way as most people react to vermin: with disgust. Imagine a proboscis that wouldn't look out of place on a giant fly come out of a person's mouth. That's nasty.
Characters with ranks in Knowledge (nature) can research hivemasters to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.
|5||A hivemaster plays host to millions of vicious bugs.|
|10||Hivemasters eventually take on traits of the vermin they carry.|
|15||The hivemaster's natural weapons are particularly lethal and numerous.|
|20||A hivemaster is able to form a collective consciousness with other vermin; where one can be found, expect a swarm of critters to follow.|