The war on chaos cannot be won in the streets alone, for beneath those streets, in hidden places, the lords of chaos lurk and plot the destruction of all that is lawful and good. The vigilante is a warrior against chaos who isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. He’s not a shining knight, like the paladin, or a beacon of hope like the cleric, but rather a rugged street warrior on par with the thief, but playing for the other side.
The vigilante really doesn’t belong in medieval European fantasy. He is a creature of the lurid penny dreadfuls, dime novels and pulp magazines of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Shadow is one of the more famous of these dark avengers, but he is not alone and the stock type survives to this day. Vigilantes are expected to be resourceful, cunning, handy with their fists (and whatever else they can find to bash in their opponent’s head) and sneaky. They employ many of the techniques and skills of their less exotic foes, thieves and assassins, and thus also dress and arm themselves much like these rogues.
ROLL D8 FOR HIT POINTS
Strength, Dexterity and Intelligence of 13+; Vigilantes must be Lawful (Good)
Padded armor, leather armor, studded leather armor, ring mail, mithral chainmail and bucklers
Crossbows (any) and all light melee weapons
Balance, climb walls, escape bonds, hide in shadows, jump, listen at doors, move silently, open lock, tracking, trickery
Vigilantes advance as paladins
Vigilantes must hide their true identity, lest their value as a crime fighter be negatively affected. While wearing their mask, the vigilante enjoys a +2 bonus to save vs. fear and other mind affects, including mind control. In addition, they can attempt to cause fear (per the spell) in humanoid creatures with no more than half the vigilante’s hit dice. Thus, a 1st level vigilante can cause fear in 0 hit dice creatures, while a 10th level vigilante can cause fear in creatures with 0 to 5 hit dice. If unmasked, the vigilante loses these bonuses and abilities.
Vigilantes have the same need to disable foes quickly that thieves and assassins have, but are often bound by their code of conduct not to kill their victims. A vigilante has the same skill at backstabs as thieves, but any time they would normally kill their target and are employing a bludgeoning weapon, they can instead choose to reduce their victim to 1 hit point and knock them unconscious for 1d6 turns. The victim can attempt a Fortitude saving throw to cut this time in half, but make sure the vigilante is unaware of whether this saving throw is successful or unsuccessful.
Vigilantes are known for their resourcefulness, often having just the piece of equipment they need to beat any situation. As long as a vigilante has at least ten pockets, pouches or sacks (or their equivalent) on their person, they can spend 50 gp to fill them with “miscellaneous gear”. When, during an adventure, a vigilante suddenly needs something that is not on their equipment list other than a weapon, armor, money or magic item, they can attempt a Will saving throw modified by Intelligence to find that item in one of their pouches. If the item costs less than 10 gold pieces, there is no modifier to this saving throw. For every 10 gp of value an item has, this roll is modified by -2. If the roll is successful, the contents of one pouch are now known (i.e. the vigilante can only do this as many times as they have pouches or sacks) and the item is added to the vigilante’s equipment list.
At 6th level, the vigilante can choose an arch-nemesis for themselves. If this is a unique creature (i.e. Gork, the Guildmaster of Assassins in the city of Yorok), the vigilante enjoys a +2 bonus to hit and damage them, a +2 bonus on task checks made to find or defeat them, and a +2 bonus to save vs. their special abilities (if any). Once this unique arch-nemesis is defeated, the vigilante may choose a new arch-nemesis.
The vigilante can, instead of choosing a unique arch-nemesis, choose an entire class of creatures as his arch-enemies. Sample arch-enemies could be goblins, thieves, chaotic magic-users, green dragons or devils. Against his arch-enemies, the vigilante enjoys a +1 bonus to hit and damage them, a +1 bonus on task checks made to find or defeat them, and a +1 bonus to save vs. their special abilities (if any).
A 9th level vigilante can establish a hideout to serve as his secret base of operations within a settlement or in the wilderness near a settlement. This signifies that the settlement is under the vigilante’s protection. The vigilante attracts a 3rd level vigilante to serve as his sidekick and apprentice, and earns one contacts per level within the city-state. Use the following table to determine the general occupation of these contacts.
Contacts are a source of information (and adventures) and have varying amounts of loyalty to the vigilante based on their alignment:
This loyalty is the percentage chance they will cooperate with the vigilante and do special (though not overtly dangerous favors) for the vigilante. Dangerous favors, or resisting torture to protect the vigilante, are made at half normal loyalty.
5 thoughts on “The Vigilante”
Not so much for the later vigilantes, but disguise was very important for The Shadow and some of his imitators, like Secret Agent X. Might have a variant class that adds something like that in place of resourcefulness.
Also, maybe a contact who is a carriage driver
My first response was going to be, “Disguising oneself could be covered under the trickery task”, but then I realized I didn't add trickery to the vigilante's skills, which I should have. So – trickery for disguise. I think “carriage driver” could certainly be covered under the “laborer” category.
Vigilantes can't use Rapiers, as Rapiers are medium weapons 😛
He used a feat to learn how to wield the rapier. 😉
Hey – I was having trouble finding a good image for the post – sue me.
Primarily, my inspiration is the Batman and Shadow types, so I wanted to keep the weapons small. I'm actually ridiculously excited to commission Kaufman to draw me a medieval masked vigilante – as well as a couple other new classes that are on their way to the blog and to the NOD Companion.
Nice write-up. Is there an ETA on the NOD Companion?
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