Philosopher (3.5e Class)
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The nature of the universe is ever shifting. Mostly this nature passes by the people that live it, but there are certain individuals who devote their lives to this most exclusive of understanding. Through learning and experiences that may be religious, enlightening, ascetical or even purely for the self, the philosopher gains unfathomable understanding of the world. His findings may seem trivial to most, but the tiniest smidgeon of lore, the smallest hint of life or growth, and the most inconspicuous omen may contribute to the philosopher’s preternatural senses. Through a constant search for understanding and self-renewal, a philosopher learns to see with different eyes. The philosopher practices things such as history, lore, philosophy and oratory performance. An esteemed and humble traveler and teller, two old eccentrics seeking mutual understanding over a game of chess, the devout that travels to the outer realms to petition his deity in order to reach a higher plane of understanding; these can all be philosophers.
Making a Philosopher
Philosophers aren’t combatants, nor are they handymen. They are observers of the highest tier, seeking patterns in life and distilling their experiences to gain knowledge. They discern, detect and reveal, preferably without having to bash or render the entire area to flame. The philosopher seeks a strange form of balance between inward focus and interaction with the environment, since in both of these things can be found wisdom and understanding. Especially in areas rife with magical effects, a philosopher is invaluable; their many methods of observation help them to see things that other characters usually miss. Philosophers have a strange hardiness to effects of the mind and the body and their integral understanding of both arcane and divine magic through their spellcraft grants them a nearly unsurpassed resilience to such forces. A philosopher lets a place he travels to touch him, but he does not touch them. A philosopher pays respect without either strong adherence or compulsive obsession.
The philosopher is a class that encourages pure roleplaying, and that is campaign specific to an extent of the campaign’s immersive quality. Detailed campaigns where interaction, intrigue and mystery are the most important pivots, campaigns with a detailed background and well designed and full systems of society and pantheons, will benefit the most from this class, and will benefit this class the most in turn. Despite this, the philosopher is not helpless when it comes to combat situations, his insight and senses often alerting him to dangers before they strike.
In life, philosophers are often rugged thinkers and travelers, no amount of grime on their leather explorer outfit deterring them from the next insightful revelation on their lifetime journey. Their versatile skill sets and travelworn nature make them easily more capable than a wizard or a sorcerer when on the road, even though life's many peculiarities may more frequently halt their steps.
Abilities: Wisdom is very important for the philosopher, as it represents his ability to make sense of the inherent chaos of nature, or the order of civilization. Wisdom allows them to sieve the understanding from their quandary and apply it on the challenges they face, as well as increasing their perception as well as their spells. Charisma is important for the portion of a philosopher’s interaction with friend and foe alike. Furthermore, Intelligence is a boon for the knowledge that the philosopher requires in many different areas of his discipline.
Races: Amidst almost every sentient race of creatures, you will find those few individuals that devote a lifetime to understand. Whether it is their own civilization, the world or concepts such as life and death they wish to understand, such individuals may be philosophers. Hence, philosophers exist within any demographic of sentient creatures.
Alignment: Any neutral.
Starting Gold: 1d4×10 gp.
Starting Age: Complex
|Saving Throws||Special||Spells per Day|
|5th||+3||+1||+1||+4||Philosopher's Insight +1||3||3||2||1||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|10th||+7/+2||+3||+3||+7||Greater Planar Turning, Philosopher's Insight +2||4||4||3||3||2||2||—||—||—||—|
|12th||+9/+4||+4||+4||+8||Commune 1/day, Understanding (arcana)||4||4||4||3||3||2||2||—||—||—|
|13th||+9/+4||+4||+4||+8||Greater Planar Mastery||4||4||4||3||3||3||2||1||—||—|
|15th||+11/+6/+1||+5||+5||+9||Philosopher's Insight +3||5||4||4||4||3||3||3||2||1||—|
|18th||+13/+8/+3||+6||+6||+11||Greater True Sight, Understanding (dweomers)||5||5||4||4||4||4||3||3||2||2|
|19th||+14/+9/+4||+6||+6||+11||Supreme Planar Mastery||5||5||5||4||4||4||3||3||3||2|
|20th||+15/+10/+5||+6||+6||+12||Commune 3/day, Philosopher's Insight +4||5||5||5||4||4||4||4||3||3||3|
Class Skills (8 + Int modifier per level, ×4 at 1st level)
All of the following are class features of the philosopher.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Philosophers are proficient with all simple weapons, and with one martial or exotic weapon of their choice. If the chosen weapon is exotic, the philosopher gains Exotic Weapon Proficiency for that weapon for free at 1st level.
Philosophers are proficient with light and medium armor, but not with shields.
Spells: A philosopher casts spells that are divine in nature. Philosophers specialize in divination, although they can also cast some spells from other schools (mostly universal spells and spells from the abjuration school). See the philosopher spell list for what spells are available to the philosopher.
To prepare or cast a spell, a philosopher must have a Wisdom score equal to at least 10 + the spell level. The DC for a saving throw against a philosopher’s spell is 10 + the spell level + the philosopher's Wisdom modifier.
Like other spellcasters, a philosopher can cast only a certain number of spells of each spell level per day. His base daily spell allotment is given on Table: The Philosopher. In addition, he receives bonus spells per day if he has a high Wisdom score. A high score however doesn't allow him to learn spells of a higher level than that he knows.
Philosophers choose their spells from the following list:
1st—comprehend languages, deathwatch, detect animals or plants, detect chaos/evil/good/law, detect secret doors, detect snares and pits, detect undead, endure elements, hide from undead, identify, protection from chaos/evil/good/law, sanctuary.
3rd—arcane sight, clairaudience/clairvoyance, dispel magic, magic circle against chaos/evil/good/law, nondetection, protection from energy, remove curse, remove disease, speak with dead, speak with plants, tongues.
Planar Turning (Su): A philosopher is able to turn and rebuke elementals and outsiders in the same manner in which clerics turn or rebuke undead. The philosopher chooses one particular alignment in relation to which he turns outsiders (chaotic, evil, good or lawful). Outsiders of opposed alignment are rebuked. The philosopher must choose an alignment that he has himself, unless he is neutral, in which case he may choose from all four. Elementals have a similar restriction; the philosopher chooses one of four constituent elemental subtypes (Air, Earth, Fire or Water) in relation to which he turns elementals, and rebukes elementals of directly opposed nature. For this purpose, Earth is opposed to Air, and Water to Fire.
For the purpose of calculating their susceptibility to turning, outsiders have an effective turn resistance equal to half their spell resistance, rounded down. Both planar turning check and planar turning damage use Wisdom instead of Charisma. Elementals and outsiders that are 'destroyed' are banished to their home plane instead. Native outsiders cannot be affected by planar turning. When using planar turning, philosophers get a bonus to their effective philosopher level equal to their philosopher's insight bonus if applicable. A philosopher may use planar turning a number of times per day equal to 3 + his Wisdom modifier.
Understanding (Su): A philosopher's perception extends beyond normal senses. He may use this perception borne from his supernatural comprehension of the cosmos a number of minutes per day equal to his class level. Usage of this ability may be spread over multiple usages, round down to 1 minute periods. When active, the philosopher gains an additional bonus to Listen, Search and Spot checks equal to half his philosopher level. In addition to that, the following effects become available to the philosopher while his philosopher perception is active. All saving throw DCs tied to this ability are Wisdom based.
- When the philosopher gets 5 ranks in Craft (alchemy) and 5 ranks in Heal, his Understanding includes a detect poison effect. When the philosopher gets 5 ranks in Knowledge (nature) and 5 ranks in Survival, he gains a detect animals or plants effect as well.
- At 3rd level, the philosopher gains the ability to detect auras belonging to alignment types (good, evil, law and chaos). This functions as detect good, evil, law or chaos, depending on his opposed alignment for the purpose of planar turning.
- At 6th level, the philosopher gains the ability to discern lies. This functions as the discern lies spell. This effect allows a Will saving throw to be resisted.
- At 9th level, the philosopher gains the ability to skim surface thoughts of sentient beings. This functions as the detect thoughts spell. This effect allows a Will saving throw to be resisted.
- At 12th level, the philosopher gains arcane sight.
- At 18th level, the philosopher learns to discern all magical effects that act upon any item that he sees, as per the analyze dweomer spell.
Banishing Strike (Su): As a standard action, a philosopher of 4th level or higher can force an extraplanar creature back to its home plane with a successful melee touch attack, unless the creature succeeds on a Will saving throw with a DC of 10 + ½ philosopher's level + philosopher's Wis modifier. A philosopher may attempt a banishing strike a number of times per day equal to half his class level.
Philosopher's Insight (Ex): With experience comes insight. At 5th level, the philosopher gains a +1 insight bonus to Armor Class, Reflex saves and Wisdom based class skills. The philosopher insight bonus furthermore applies to planar turning and the philosopher gets double his philosopher insight bonus to all Concentration checks. This insight bonus increases with another +1 every 5 levels thereafter (+2 at 10th level, +3 at 15th, and so forth).
Planar Mastery (Su): At 7th level a philosopher can transport himself from one location to another on the same plane, as per the spell teleport once per day. Caster level is equal to the philosopher's class level. Also, the philosopher gets a spell resistance of 5 + his class level to resist the effects of dimensional anchors, dimensional locks and other such effects that impede his magical travels, including the philosopher's own planar barring ability.
Reach Out (Su): At 8th level, the philosopher gains the ability to forge and maintain a telepathic bond with one willing creature per 4 philosopher levels as long as no two of these allies are more than 1 mile apart. The philosopher may create and break his own telepathic bonds at will, with no Concentration requirement.
Commune (Su): At 12th level, the philosopher can commune with certain special and unique spirits and creatures once per day. When a philosopher is at a certain location, such as a dungeon, crypt, grove, mausoleum, cemetery, or any other place associated to the physical or spiritual remains of certain individuals, he can invoke these spirits or creatures in order to gain information. This ability functions as a combination of a speak with dead and a refuge spell, except that the commune may be centered upon either an object or a location. When used, the ability attempts to transfer the possessor of an item, the keeper of a place, or someone to whom the item or place holds great significance, to you. Usually, but not necessarily, this particular creature is the ghostly spirit of a unique creature.
Once the spirit appears, the philosopher may ask it up to 1 question per 2 philosopher levels. Only questions relevant to the target of the commune (item or location) will be answered, but unrelated questions still count towards the maximum and are wasted. On a result of 1-95 on a d%, the spirit called will know the answer to a question without fail, but the spirit possesses free will and may choose not to divulge the answer or lie. Like with contact other plane, the philosopher rolls another d% to see whether he receives a true answer or a lie. In the event that the spirit knows, a result of 1–90 means truth and a result of 91–100 means lie.
The number of times that the philosopher may use commune increases to 2 at 16th level and to 3 at 20th level.
Greater Planar Mastery (Su): At 13th level a philosopher can transport himself from one location to another on the same plane as per the spell greater teleport, once per day. He may also travel between planes as per the spell plane shift once per day, except he arrives exactly where he wants to on the intended plane. The spell resistance to travel-impeding spells granted by planar mastery increases to 10 + the philosopher's class level. This ability supercedes and replaces planar mastery.
Planar Barring (Sp): At 14th level, the philosopher can readily influence the convolution of the planes in his close proximity. He can emanate a dimensional lock effect with a radius of 100 ft. centered on himself, barring all extradimensional travel into and out of his close surroundings. Within this area of effect, only the philosopher himself is unimpeded. The philosopher may turn this emanation field on or off at will, but only during his turn. If two planar barring fields touch, their effects overlap. This ability functions is the equivalent of a spell with a level equal to the highest level spell a philosopher can cast
Timeless Communion (Su): At 17th level, the philosopher gains even further ability to reach out to spirits or creatures that might reward his efforts with valuable information. Timeless communion functions as Commune, except that the philosopher may channel his mind through time itself. The philosopher’s mind may journey into the past up to a number of years ago equal to the philosopher's level plus his Knowledge (history) modifier. The philosopher cannot look into the future. A timeless communion requires 10 minutes to establish, and the philosopher may take up to one of his willing allies along into the communion.
Looking into the past with this ability functions as follows. As he enters the communion, he leaves his body behind in the real world. The mind enters a visual and mental representation of the location he is in or of the location of the item he is focusing on. This representation contains all items, spaces, objects and people that were there at that moment in time. Any sentient creatures present in the Timeless Communion may be asked questions. Unlike Commune or Reach Out, the Timeless Communion, once started, lasts a number of minutes equal to 5 + the philosopher’s Intelligence modifier. Within this time, the philosopher may inquire with any creature or examine any objects present in the Timeless Communion. Inside the communion, the philosopher may stray no more than 10 ft. per philosopher level from the location where he initiated the communion. Doing so will terminate the communion. It is impossible to take any items found within the communion back to the real world.
Move Back or Forth in time: Within limits, the philosopher may shift his communion back and forth in time through mental focus. Attempting to stretch the timeless communion beyond its established limits will end the communion. Moving the communion back and forth in time requires a Concentration check with DC of 30 plus the number of years of the shift. Any shift smaller than half a year requires a DC 30 Concentration check, but for larger periods, the DC is rounded up to a whole number of years.
Lifepath: When the communion is initiated while focusing upon the remains of a creature, the philosopher may follow part of the path taken by that creature in life. In this special application, the timeless communion displays the experiences of the person in question, allowing the philosopher to track his movements across time within the usual limits of the timeless communion. If the Timeless Communion ability is used in this manner, the philosopher may only observe and is unable to interact with the environment or ask questions.
Through the timeless communion, the philosopher may learn many things. The significance of a location, the fate befallen by a certain unique individual, the lore of lost kingdoms and bloodlines and legacies of former rulers, the possible location of certain unique magic items, the answers to a mystery, the knowledge as to who committed certain unsolved crimes, etcetera.
Timeless communion counts towards the philosopher's daily usages of commune.
Supreme Planar Mastery (Su): At 19th level a philosopher can transport himself from one location to another on the same plane as per the spell greater teleport, once per hour. Furthermore, he can travel in a multitude of ways. He may cast one of the following spells of his choice - astral projection, etherealness, gate or teleportation circle - a total of three times per day, with a minimum of one hour between successive castings. The spell resistance to travel-impeding spells granted by greater planar mastery increases to 15 + the philosopher's class level. This ability supercedes and replaces greater planar mastery.
A philosopher that voluntarily leaves the path of the philosophers behind him or abandons his philosophy by swaying to extreme alignments may no longer take any levels in the philosopher class. He however retains all abilities he gained from his class. If he so wishes, he may atone (as in the atonement spell) to be able to continue as a philosopher.
|25th||Philosopher's Insight +5|
|30th||Philosopher's Insight +6|
8 + Int modifier skill points per level.
Spells: The philosopher’s caster level is equal to his class level. The philosopher’s number of spells does not increase after 20th level.
Commune: The philosopher gains additional usages of his Commune ability every 3 levels after 20 (5/day at 23rd, 6/day at 26th, etc.).
Philosopher's Insight: This ability continues to increase normally after 20th level, by 1 every five levels. (+5 at 25th, +6 at 30th, etc)
Bonus Feats: The epic philosopher gains a bonus feat (selected from the list of epic philosopher bonus feats) every 4 levels after 20th.
Epic Philosopher Bonus Feat List: Armor Skin, Automatic Quicken Spell, Craft Epic Magic Arms and Armor, Craft Epic Rod, Craft Epic Staff, Craft Epic Wondrous Item, Damage Reduction, Energy Resistance, Epic Prowess, Epic Skill Focus, Extended Life Span, Fast Healing, Forge Epic Ring, Improved Combat Casting, Multispell, Permanent Emanation, Polyglot, Spell Stowaway
Human Philosopher Starting Package
Armor: None (speed 30 ft.)
Skill Selection: Pick a number of skills equal to 9 + Int modifier.
|Knowledge (the planes)||4||Int||—|
Gear: Backpack with waterskin, one day's trail rations, bedroll, sack and flint and steel. Case with 10 crossbow bolts. Wooden holy symbol (sun disc of pelor). Three torches.
Gold: 25 gp
Playing a Philosopher
Religion: Although religion itself is not important to the philosopher, he does believe - and believe profoundly - in the existence and significance of greater beings such as gods. They might revere them, but mostly they respect them and research them in order to gain more understanding about the cosmos. Why do deities what they do, and what is the effect upon the world that we live in? That is one of the questions that a philosopher is likely to pursue, and for that, worshipping a deity might help light that path.
Other Classes: The philosopher exercises a strong communion not only with the world itself, but with the people in it. They bond easily, and their friendship often extends to wise words and advice. Because philosophers are neither great fighters nor offensive spellcasters, they tend to work best when other people in the party fulfill those needs, enabling the philosopher to focus on observation and study.
Combat: Philosophers are support characters, and their greatest hours come and pass outside of the confines of combat. Their great perception allows them to identify threats before other characters, whilst their ability to do planar turning can drastically thin out any battlefield.
Advancement: Rogues with levels in philosopher or vice versa have huge amounts of different skills, able to reap the benefits of both classes fully without the need of spreading skillpoints too far. The same goes for neutral bards
Although the philosopher may not be very compatible to many interesting prestige classes, it does not come without its own chance for advancement. Their divination focused spellcasting and dependency on many types of knowledge make the philosopher the perfect candidate for the loremaster prestige class. Philosophers also make for good horizon walkers. Other prestige classes that hinge primarily on skill based prerequisites are more readily available to a well customized philosopher.
Philosophers in the World
|“||Dimmald is an old man. When you see him, he's oft lost in his thoughts, aimlessly wandering the street. His own instincts guide him through every day and every step, and no one knows in which corner of Waterdeep he will end up as the sun disappears.||”|
|—Jozic Frigh, Half-Orc Innkeeper|
The philosopher walks the world and lets the world touch him without touching it. He generally goes wherever his desire for enlightenment and understanding takes him. Where one seeks the duplicity of city life, the other seeks isolation on the highest mountain peak. The locales and environs in which the philosophers roam are as varied as the philosophers themselves. Some experience their unique brand of understanding through song and music, whereas others enjoy the silence and the spray of the sea. They are everywhere, and yet they are most often hardly heard of.
Daily Life: You will not often see the philosopher keep a log of where he went and what he did one day. Cataloguing such mundane experiences did not bring a feasible reward. They have their own rhythm, and yet that rhythm is quite often broken. They find comfort in change, as change is nature. A day in the life of a philosopher is however quite gentle and slow. They sit back to stare at life's conundrums, and drink a good glass of wine as they mull it over. They contemplate their thoughts and findings over slow paced games. And, when the day has gone, the philosopher usually goes back to bed with the smile of a contented hermit on his face.
Notables: Fame is not something a philosopher desires. The old hermit atop the mountain, the young man that observes the stars for days on end. Few philosophers make names for themselves, as fame detracts from the pursuit of enlightenment.
Organizations: Philosophers make no organizations; they wish to see the diversity of the material plane for themselves, unfettered by unnecessary bonds of organization and rather focusing upon their bonds with the living things that surround them. If any form of conglomeration of wizened old sages coming together is to be called an organization, then perhaps the philosophers of hidden circles may be the closest thing to some form of organizations that philosophers come to.
NPC Reactions: They may find them strange, or think them preoccupied. When others look at the philosopher, it is often with a look that signifies a lack of understanding. Despite this, the wizened philosophers of the world are hardly prone to being disliked or ostracized. Their aims are honorable, and they take their philosophical journeys without forcing them on others.
As numerous as philosophers are, though rare in character and their great mental acumen, their lore is as diverse as their set of skills. Unsurprisingly, they have a lot of it.
Characters with ranks in Knowledge (local) can research philosophers to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.
|5||Philosophers are retainers of old philosophies, and oft share them over joined contemplation|
|10||Philosophers seek understanding in nature, and learn to emanate such natural forces to protect and bolster themselves and their companions greatly.|
|15||A philosopher's perception is very advanced and stems from comprehension of the world aronud them; they stare with many different eyes, and their perception allows them to detect many things, from poisons to magic, to the very moral and ethical intents of a person.|
|20||A philosopher's divination is so profound that he may stretch out his mind through time itself, to reclaim lost knowledge.|
Philosophers in the Game
Tellers, travelers, wanderers, ascetics, pacifists, chroniclers, loremasters, seekers and doers. The philosopher is it all, using their profound perceptive qualities in order to help their comrades. A philosopher sees many things that other people can't, and uses his innate emanations in order to strengthen or defend. Philosophers are the outsider's bane; their profound understanding of the cosmos allows them to whisk away disagreeable elementals and outsiders to their native planes. The player of a philosopher befalls the task of roleplaying out this singular playstyled class the way he or she wants.
Sample Encounter: In order for the PCs to procure the knowledge they need in order to find a forlorn treasure within a desolate and abandoned land wracked by constant storms, or the far-hidden lair of a blue dragon tyrant within the flotsam of a largely frozen ocean, the party seeks out a well-known oracle. Living detached from worldly cares, this spirited old man inhabits a peculiar hovel at the far edge of civilization, where he holds audiences to curious loreseekers and searches the threads of fate for an answer to their concerns in return for a fee either in gold or in cultural paraphernalia.