Jordan's Page of Useless Babble

Step 18: Making Prestige Classes
Classes and races are for the most part generic and are designed to be that way. They are made so they can be used in pretty much every campaign or adventure without causing any serious problems. Prestige classes though are different. Although they can be generic, and many are, they have the luxury of being very campaign-specific if needed.

But what is the point of a prestige class? Why do we even bother with them?

Classes are, as stated earlier not meant to really stand out. Sure, they're more powerful than the classes used by most NPCs, but there's no distinction to them. It's that flavor that makes prestige classes stand out and apart. You're not Sir Kevin the 8th level fighter, you're Sir Kevin: Knight of the Brandobaris. It's called a prestige class, because there's supposed to be some prestige to it.

Most, if not all prestige classes that are available to your players (excepting those that use alternate rules or flavor that you are not utilizing) should be available to them in your campaign. If you're not allowing a specific class, such as warlock, then warlock-specific prestige classes will for the most part become unavailable to them as well, so there's little need to outline which is and is not available to them, except maybe on a case-by-case basis.

So, it's time to make some prestige classes for your campaign. This is, of course, an optional step, but any DMs who are looking for a quick way to bring some extra flavor to their game should consider taking it.

Picking a Theme: Generic prestige classes: ones that can be dumped into any game should be avoided. You can make those at any time. You should focus on making prestige classes that fit your specific campaign. Organizations (Step 15), deities (Step 12) and races that you've created specifically for your campaign (Step 5) are all perfect choices for building a prestige class around.

Picking the Number of Levels: This is where a lot of DMs get themselves frustrated. They tend to either stick religiously to a 10-level structure for their prestige class and find themselves having trouble making the class's progression work smoothly, or they go the other way and work with a strange number of levels and causing problems for their players later down the line. Prestige classes should consist of either 3, 5 or 10 levels. There are some exceptions to that, but 99% of the prestige classes you make should fit one of those three numbers.

Stick to Established Progressions: There are three progressions for base attack bonuses (high, mid and low) and two progressions for saving throws (high and low). These should be followed. Not only are the progressions predictable for your players (and thus they will feel comfortable using them), but mathematically, they help you as the creator in that if you need to tweak your class to make it slightly stronger or weaker, you can by adjusting one of those figures. You can also opt for no progression of the base attack bonus or saving throws, but this is very advanced and should be planned and tested extensively.

Other than those three guidelines, prestige classes should be built the exact same way that base classes are. Also remember that you'll need to test your creations to make sure that they aren't too powerful. Prestige classes should not be more powerful than base classes. They should be at the same power level.

Step 19: Adding New Skills
Most DMs will want to skip this section. The skills listed in the Player's Handbook cover just about everything that a player would want to do in any game. The only reason that you would add a skill is if your campaign utilizes some special kind of variant rules that make creating a new skill a necessity.

For example, if you had an urban campaign setting where it was extremely common to have people curry favors from one another, you might want to create a special skill called: Curry Favor which would be used for the exclusive purpose of getting other people to feed you information or assistance (this could also possibly be used in conjunction with Planar Ally spells for other effects).

Generally speaking though, this is an exception to what you would normally be doing. If you do need to add a new skill, first ask yourself if what the skill represents can be duplicated by a Craft, Profession or Knowledge skill to see if you really need to add the new skill. If you absolutely do need to add a new skill, use the Player's Handbook for ideas on what kind of effect your characters should receive for a range of different skill checks.

Step 20: Adding New Feats
Like skills, feats can often be passed by when making a new campaign setting. Things like racial feats can also be created to help provide support for new races that you've introduced into your campaign. If you're using alternate rules in your campaign, then you should definitely consider adding a feat or two to help support them.

For example: if you have a campaign where evil taints monsters and players have a chance to become infected by it through direct contact, then you may want to have a feat that allows players to resist becoming tainted, and maybe one that provides players who have become tainted with a new ability.

You'll find that most feats that you'd want to have, are already written though, so you shouldn't need to work too long with these.

Step 21: Creating New Spells
Like almost everything else in this installment, spells can also be glossed over by DMs. If however you've created a brand new spellcasting class for your campaign, you might want to consider adding in a couple of 'themed' spells to help distinguish them from others. If you're using a variant rule, you may also find that adding in a couple of spells that help support that rule might be in order.

For example: if you were running a campaign setting where everybody's personal worth was measured by an intangible force called 'chivalry', you could have a spell that dealt progressively higher damage to enemies with lower chivalry, a spell that detected chivalry or another spell that allowed the caster to appear as if they had higher chivalry.


  1. Create at least one prestige class for your campaign (Step 18). Make it campaign-relevant by basing it around a race, organization or deity that you've created earlier.
  2. Think of ideas for feats that you can add (Step 20). Feats that focus on cultures or races exclusive to your campaign are best.
  3. Come up with at least one spell for your campaign (Step 21). Make it fit with the overall theme of the setting.


  1. Prestige classes are quite large in size. There is no example for this part of the homework, but prestige classes will be provided in the final campaign guide.

  2. Here are two sample feats for the Penumbra setting:

    Artifact Aptitude [Racial]
    Your study of artifacts from alien crash sites has given you a knack at activating unknown magical items.
    Prerequisites: Githspawn, Use Magic Device 1 rank or Use Psionic Device 1 rank.
    Benefit: You gain a +4 racial bonus to Use Magic Device and Use Psionic Device checks when using the activate blindly option.

    Gloomsight [Racial]
    You have gained the ability to see in the absolute absence of light.
    Prerequisites: Shadow Genasi or Shadowswyft, ability to cast darkness.
    Benefit: You gain the ability to see within perfect darkness (such as that created by the darkness or deeper darkness spells) at a range of 30 ft.

  3. Carbonate
    Level: Brd 0, Sor/Wiz 0
    Components: V, S
    Casting Time: 1 standard action
    Range: Touch
    Target: 1 cu. ft./level of liquid
    Duration: 1 minute
    Saving Throw: Will negates (object)
    Spell Resistance: Yes (object)

    This spell imbues liquid with tiny bubbles of air that float quickly to the surface. This spell can be cast on a tankard of flat ale to rejuvenate it, or to provide carbonation for other beverages as well.
        When cast on a large body of liquid, creatures swimming within the area of carbonation receive a -2 penalty to Listen and Spot checks while they remain.

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