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Origins of the PCs: Hellbred

Hellbred: they are a scattered few. Lone souls who have been rescued from the torments of the Nine Hells, they are given a chance at a new life in order to correct the mistakes that they had made in their previous one, but not without a terrible cost. Devils are a jealous lot and have marked the hellbred as one of their own, by twisting its flesh and soul into a form more suitable to their purposes. Now returned to life on the Material Plane, the hellbred seeks to prevent themselves further torture in the infernal realms or to solidify their damnation.

Introduced in the Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of the Nine Hells, hellbred are a race made up of the resurrected. Given a second chance to right the wrongs they committed in their previous life by the forces of good, they are hindered by a body made by the forces of evil. Although many are bastions of light and goodness, some fall a second time, becoming champions of evil and furthering the plans of Hell in the mortal realm.

Although not stated in the source material, all example hellbred characters given by official sources appear to be based on humans. As such, they should receive the following additional racial features:

  • Medium: As Medium-sized creatures, hellbred have no special bonuses or penalties due to their size.
  • Automatic Languages: Common, Infernal. Bonus Languages: Any.

Hellbred Strengths

  • Bonus to Intimidate checks
  • Able to use evil spells and magic items without penalty or altering alignment
  • Bonus Devil-Touched feat
  • Ability to freely multiclass with paladin

Body-Scourged Hellbred Strengths

  • Higher Constitution score
  • Bonus to saves against poison
  • More bonus Devil-Touched feats at later levels

Spirit-Scourged Hellbred Strengths

  • Higher Charisma score
  • Bonus to Sense Motive checks
  • Darkvision, which improves at later levels
  • Eventual ability to see in magical darkness
  • Eventual ability to use telepathy

Hellbred Weaknesses

  • When killed can only be restored to life with higher level spells

Body-Scourged Hellbred Weaknesses

  • Lower Intelligence score

Spirit-Scourged Hellbred Weaknesses

  • Lower Constitution score

Playing a Hellbred
Upon being freed from Hell by the forces of good, a hellbred character is subjected to the Scourging: a terrifyingly evil transformation that alters either their body or their spirit and provides the character with most of their racial abilities. Key in the creation of their character is the choice of whether the Scourging will target their body or their spirit. The result are two very similar branches of the same race, which can be played in dramatically different ways from one another.

Playing a Body-Scourged Hellbred
Body-scourged hellbred characters are tough. Their higher Constitution score makes them ideal front-line combatants. This higher resistance, coupled with a bonus to saves against poison makes them incredibly difficult to weaken with more subtle methods of attack.

In addition, they receive a total of three Devil-Touched feats throughout their progression, the first being devil's favor at 1st level. Since Devil-Touched feats are generally strengthened by the acquisition of other Devil-Touched feats, this is a very attractive option, as it means the feat choices made in earlier levels continue to be relevant at later levels as they get more powerful.

A lower Intelligence score means that they will likely shy away from more intellectual pursuits, making choices like rogue and wizard less attractive to them.

Playing a Spirit-Scourged Hellbred
Spirit-scourged hellbred characters aren't particularly tough in combat, but they make up for it with access to a small number of social and observational abilities. Their higher Charisma score means that they're more likely to take the roll of an arcane spellcaster or as a socially-minded skilled character.

Their darkvision abilities can allow them to sneak ahead of the group in dungeons or can be combined with darkness spells (especially when they learn to see in magical darkness at later levels) to turn them into competent assassins.

Finally, their ability to use telepathy at later levels makes them ideal as tacticians since they can help to direct their allies in battle while staying silent.

Their lower Constitution scores however mean that unless they're properly protected, they'll want to steer clear of attacks.

In either case, hellbred characters also benefit from a bonus to Intimidate checks, which can be combined with several class features or feats to make those more effective as well as the ability to use evil spells or magic items without penalty. This ability can allow a hellbred paladin to use an unholy weapon, or a cleric to use spells like unholy aura without risking damage or having their alignment shift towards evil. The only restriction is that these evil tools must be put to good purposes. For example, a hellbred fighter wielding an unholy weapon to defeat a tribe of lizardmen is perfectly fine, but the same fighter using an unholy weapon to kill unarmed villagers is most certainly performing an evil act.

All hellbred characters also suffer from one important drawback. If they are ever killed, they can only be brought back to life by a resurrection or a more powerful spell. That means that lower and mid-level hellbred characters should take care not to die, as it's expensive enough to resurrect them that it may very well be an impossibility.

Class Suggestions
All hellbred characters have paladin as their favored class, and with good reason. Having seen the depths of the Nine Hells
first-hand, many are utterly convinced of the differences between right and wrong and are willing to do whatever it takes to prevent themselves from returning. The straight-forward and righteous path of the paladin suits them well.

Hellbred characters also have the unique ability to freely multiclass their paladin levels, which for most other characters would require the selection of a feat like knight training (Eberron CS), ascetic knight, devoted inquisitor, devoted performer or devoted tracker (all from Complete Adventurer). This provides the hellbred with a wonderful opportunity to meet some prestige class requirements with less effort than normally expected.

Body-Scourged Hellbred Class Suggestions
Body-scourged hellbred will want to focus on classes that allow them to make the most of their innate toughness. The obvious choice is a front-line melee combatant. With their fairly generic abilities, they do well in pretty much every class that provides a high base attack bonus. Just about the only exceptions to these are melee combatants who rely on intelligence such as swashbuckler (Complete Warrior) or duskblade (Player's Handbook II).

With such a wide variety of classes that they can excel in, it's more important to focus on the small number of classes they can truly work well with. One example is the samurai from Complete Warrior. The hellbred's intimidate bonus works extremely well with the samurai's staredown abilities, while the high number of hit points that the class affords means that a hellbred samurai will be extremely difficult to kill.

The highly alignment-based soulborn (Magic of Incarnum) is likewise an excellent choice. The reliance on Constitution for meldshaping means that the hellbred soulborn will be potent in that regard as well.

The crusader (Tome of Battle) possesses counterattack capabilities that require the character to take damage in order to activate them. The bonus feats and higher Constitution afforded by the body-scourging ritual help keep a hellbred crusader alive long enough to use these abilities effectively.

Hellbred barbarians are fairly effective and can rage for longer than the average human. The downside is that most hellbred are lawful in alignment, and they cannot multiclass with paladin. Instead, consider the sohei from Oriental Adventures or even the monk class.

Hellbred knights (Player's Handbook II) are also an interesting combination. The class's focus on defense works well with the race, while the more social aspects of the knight's challenge abilities can create an extremely effective controller character when combined with a high number of ranks in Intimidate and some minor feat selections.

Also consider multiclassing between any of these ideas and paladin, which can be done without penalty by a hellbred character. A knight's mounted combat abilities can be combined with a paladin's companion and smite attacks to make a very effective character.

Spirit-Scourged Hellbred Class Suggestions
Spirit-scourged hellbred characters will want to focus on classes that benefit from their higher Charisma scores. That means that they will want to become either spontaneous spellcasters or skilled characters.

While spirit-scourged hellbred might seem like they would make good sorcerers, this class should probably be avoided. Their lower Constitution combined with the sorcerer's low hit die means that they are the epitome of the 'glass cannon', meaning that while they are certainly capable to dealing quite a lot of damage, they themselves cannot generally take much punishment in return. Combine that with the race's inability to be resurrected by lower level spells and you've got a recipe for disaster.

The social-skills and Charisma-based spellcasting of the bard work much better with the spirit-scourged hellbred. Bonuses to both Intimidate and Sense Motive are always useful and the bard's ability to wear light armor and their slightly higher than sorcerer hit die makes them an overall better class choice. As an added bonus, this character can easily multiclass with paladin and with the aid of the devoted performer (Complete Adventurer) and the battle caster (Complete Arcane) feats become a leaner, meaner and more protected support character.

The favored soul (Complete Divine) is one of the better divine casting options for the spirit-scourged hellbred. They use Charisma as their spellcasting ability score, and have a moderately-high hit die. In addition, favored souls can take armor proficiency (heavy) to become protected from all manner of harm. In addition, all three of their base saving throws are high, meaning that they are more resistant to harmful effects. Splashing in enough paladin levels to gain the divine grace class feature can make them that much more difficult to destroy with traps, spells and poisons.

For a tactical-minded character, consider the marshal class (Miniatures Handbook). The social skill bonuses the hellbred receives work well with the class's skills and the auras that they learn can be made that much more powerful with a higher Charisma score. At later levels, the hellbred becomes able to communicate telepathically, allowing them to use their aura abilities in silence, which could be an added boon in a tight situation.

If you absolutely, positively, need to play a damage-dealing arcane spellcaster, consider the warlock class (Complete Arcane). Although the hellbred's higher Charisma won't help him much beyond saving throws, the class is a little more defense-minded than the sorcerer, and with invocation selection and the battle caster feat, they can become even more protected from harm. For added roleplaying ideas, a hellbred warlock who takes levels in the acolyte of the skin prestige class (Complete Arcane) can easily be played up as a character who is losing their grip on morality, while levels of enlightened spirit (Complete Mage) can just as easily represent one that is ascending into goodness.

Temptation should be a constant theme for a hellbred character, and a good way to represent this constant pull for their spirit is the binder class (Tome of Magic). Not only to they call upon nearly deceased spirits (not unlike themselves), but they can wield some terrifying and evil abilities at the same time. Their higher Charisma will help them to make pacts and the pact augmentation class feature can provide them with added protection in a number of ways. As an added bonus, a number of truly evil vestiges such as Astaroth, Cabiri and Ansitif (Dragon Magazine #357) can be used without forcing the character to become evil (as long as they are put to non-evil purposes).

Feat Suggestions
Hellbred do not have any racial feats. Instead, consider the devil-touched feats from the Fiendish Codex II. Hellbred receive devil's favor as a bonus feat during character creation and body-scourged hellbred receive two more as bonus feats at later levels. Since these feats essentially power each other up by becoming stronger as the character takes more of them, there's no reason not to take as many of them as possible.

Intimidating strike (Player's Handbook II) is an excellent feat for a melee warrior, preferably body-scourged. The feat allows the hellbred to make special attacks that allow them to make opponents shaken. Extremely useful on its own, but combined with the samurai class to create a front-line warrior who can easily control the ebb and flow of combat through demoralizing opponents.

If you want to quickly and easily cow your opponents, consider the frightful presence feat (Draconomicon). When in the hands of any hellbred, but especially a spirit-scourged one, this allows the character to affect large groups of weaker opponents at once with a frightful presence ability not unlike what a true dragon would possess.

A spirit-scourged hellbred paladin or marshal might want to consider the Combat Intuition feat (Complete Adventurer). This not only helps them to strategize in the midst of battle, but it helps them to dispatch anybody who dares get to close to them.

Prestige Class Suggestions
The ease at which a hellbred character can multiclass with paladin means that they can meet the prerequisites for several prestige classes much more easily than other characters. Take for instance, the shadowbane inquisitor and the shadowbane stalker (Complete Adventurer). Both classes emphasize battling evil while using less than straightforward measures, which compliments the overall flavor of the hellbred race. Both can be met by multiclassing rogue and paladin levels, which thanks to hellbred's racial abilities can be done without needing to take a feat to allow them to multiclass freely and can be done without causing the player any particular grief through creative leveling.

Hellbred paladins and favored souls may want to consider the warpriest (Complete Divine). Along with receiving powerful spellcasting, a bonus domain and several spell-like abilities, they also advance with a high base attack bonus, a high hit die and some aura-like abilities that can help allies or hinder opponents.

Hellbred warriors devoted to either Hextor or Heironeous (or their equivalents in your setting) are extremely potent as ordained champions (Complete Champion). The ability to drop spells or turn undead attempts to power their abilities can be a boon in any situation.

For a less than ethical, but still utterly devoted champion of good, consider the gray guard from Complete Scoundrel. The class works well with the hellbred's ability to use evil weapons and magic for the forces of good by lessening the code of contact normally bound to a paladin. This less than good, but still holy approach is just a good match for a hellbred paladin.

As primarily divine warriors, also consider the many divine-based prestige classes available in the Forgotten Realms Campaign setting such as divine champion or divine disciple (Player's Guide to Faerûn).

New Material

Non-Human Hellbred
As stated above, all example hellbred characters given in the Fiendish Codex II are human based and as such are Medium-size and possess Common as an automatic language. The book itself however isn't specific about what races can become hellbred.

For non-human based hellbred characters, consider a transformation similar to the mechanics of rebirth used by the dragonborn race (Races of the Dragon). In many respects, the transformation of a character into a hellbred is a much more drastic change than that of a character into a dragonborn. The very forces of Hell rip and tear and the body and soul of a hellborn character, turning them into a product of the Lower Planes, with only a small vestige of their former selves remaining.

When creating a non-human hellbred, only the size and languages available to the character should be altered. The size of the hellbred should remain the same as the size of the original race, while the languages should remain the same as the base race, with the addition of Infernal as an automatic language.

Special abilities related to size such as the goliath's powerful build racial ability should be lost during the transformation as the character's body is twisted by the foul magic of their former hellish masters. In addition, after the Scourging, the character is no longer a member of his former race. They are forever after a hellbred.

Here are some examples of non-human hellbred derived from the races in the Player's Handbook.

Size: Medium
Automatic Languages: Common, Dwarven and Infernal.
Bonus Languages: Giant, Gnome, Goblin, Orc, Terran and Undercommon.

Size: Medium
Automatic Languages: Common, Elven and Infernal.
Bonus Languages: Draconic, Gnoll, Gnome, Goblin, Orc and Sylvan.

Size: Small
Automatic Languages: Common, Gnome and Infernal.
Bonus Languages: Draconic, Dwarven, Elven, Giant, Goblin and Orc.

Size: Medium
Automatic Languages: Common, Elven and Infernal.
Bonus Languages: Any.

Size: Medium
Automatic Languages: Common, Infernal and Orc.
Bonus Languages: Abyssal, Draconic, Giant, Gnoll and Goblin.

Size: Small
Automatic Languages: Common, Halfling and Infernal.
Bonus Languages: Dwarven, Elven, Gnome, Goblin and Orc.

Hellbred Paragon

Although many hellbred turn to the righteous path of the paladin, a small number turn to their new and in many cases, unfamiliar bodies. Those unholy husks that they inhabit contain many secrets that can be gleaned through self-reflection and training. After all, to create a tool to combat evil is one thing, but to turn a tool of evil against itself is quite different, and much more potent. Hellbred paragons travel the world calling upon their sometimes dark powers to bring peace and goodness to those around them.
    Adventures: Hellbred paragons adventure because they have a very strong need to do good in the world. For many, the memories of their brief time in Hell haunt them, and drive them to perform noble deeds in an attempt at avoiding this fate once they die. To call them driven in their quests would be an understatement. They can be utterly obsessed with their duties, for to lapse may mean an eternity of torment.
    Characteristics: Hellbred paragons are brooding, dark, stoic and somber. Many are also morose and quiet. They are haunted, and unwilling to discuss much about themselves. Those who earn their confidence may hear the rare piece of conversation, usually about the mission at hand. While they may seem aloof, they are not. They are the products of pain and misery, and to share that with others would only certainly drive them away from the hellbred paragon.
    Alignment: Most hellbred paragons are utterly devoted to the concept of an orderly and good society, afterall, it was a celestial that gave them a second chance. As such, they are usually lawful good. The one may slip into neutrality or chaos. Only in very rare instances do they fall from the path of grace and back into their former lives of evil. Those that do become willing servants of the darkness that will claim them at the end of their lives.
    Religion: Most hellbred paragons are religious. It's a part of who they are. They have seen the darkness of Hell and have been rescued by celestial creatures. Many are devoted servants of the gods of good. Deities who exemplify order, redemption or the destruction of evil are the most popular.
    Background: All hellbred paragons are created the same way. Once living, they died and were cast into the Nine Hells. After some time, they were rescued by a celestial who had managed to infiltrate the plane. As a result, they are given a second chance at life, but their bodies and souls are twisted by their former infernal masters into a corrupt form. Given the opportunity to live again, they struggle to keep from returning to their place of eternal torture.
    Races: Hellbred paragons get along equally well with members of all races, even monstrous ones. They are proof of the concept that evil can be redeemed and as such, they are willing to give all and equal chance to prove themselves. Woe be to the companion who strays to evil, as the hellbred paragon will likely waste no time in trying to return their ally to a less dark path or destroy them in the attempt.
    Other Classes: All tools can be put to good use against the forces of evil. Hellbred paragons know this fact, and are happy to turn any class's abilities towards their noble causes. While they may not agree with the tactics that a rogue might take, they understand the purpose and try to steer it in a positive direction. Hellbred paragons get along best with paladins and other divine classes such as clerics and favored souls as they are the most alike in outlook.

Game Rule Information
Hellbred paragons have the following game statistics.
    Abilities: Constitution is important to hellbred paragons because if they are killed, they face a very real possibility of returning to the torments of Hell. Strength is important for combat, while Wisdom is useful in many of their skills.
    Alignment: Any, although they are predominantly lawful good.
    Hit Die: d8.

Class Skills
The hellbred paragon's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge (Religion) (Int), Knowledge (the Planes) (Int), Listen (Wis), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), Spot (Wis) and Swim (Str). See Chapter 4: Skills in the Player's Handbook for skill descriptions.
    Skill Points at Each Level: 4 + Int modifier.

Class Features
All of the following are class features of the hellbred paragon.
    Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Hellbred paragons are proficient with all simple and martial weapons and with light and medium armor.
    Fiendish Mien (Ex): A hellbred paragon may add his class level as a racial bonus on all Intimidate checks.
    Infernal Resistance (Ex): A hellbred paragon learns to resist the pull and influence that evil has on their bodies. They receive a +2 racial bonus on saves made against spells and effects with the evil descriptor.
    Devil-touched: At 2nd level, a hellbred paragon gains a bonus devil-touched feat. The character must meet the prerequisites for the bonus feat normally.
    Ability Boost (Ex): At 3rd level, a hellbred paragon's Constitution score increases by 2 points if they have the body infernal aspect. If they have the spirit infernal aspect, their Charisma score increases by 2.

Table 1-01: The Hellbred Paragon
Level Base Attack
1st +1
Fiendish mien, infernal resistance
2nd +2
3rd +3
Ability boost (Con +2 or Cha +2)

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