Adventures: Most nobles lead or hire groups of adventurers. Few will accept anything less than the position of party leader and front man. They are, however, eminently well suited for this role and unless a group contains an especially charismatic sorcerer, the noble will usually lead it. Hyborian nobles are born into rank and privilege in the most civilised countries, yet they are political animals and political schemes will often lead them into adventure. Some nobles become adventurers simply because they have nothing better to do. They are usually not sufficiently skilled to earn a living doing a regular trade or craft and their training and relatively wealthy background can make them both well-equipped and ready to face a life of adventure. Other nobles quest for specific reasons, such as to seek revenge on an old family enemy or retrieve a lost hereditary artefact. Some nobles are exiles from their rightful estates, left to wander the world and avoid assassins’ daggers. Some are usurpers and position themselves to gain enough money and influence to make a strike at power.
Characteristics: Nobles are the most courtly of characters and are often accompanied by a retinue. They frequently favour brains over brawn and will use others to achieve goals. They dislike being disobeyed. The nobles of each nation have slightly different characteristics to reflect the particular expectations that each nation has for its leaders. In addition, nobles may select a number of different social abilities during their careers to help differentiate themselves from other nobles. Noble characters can represent everything from pampered courtiers to battle-hardened border lords, with characteristics to match. What they do have in common is their powerful leadership qualities and the ability to command a certain degree of respect.
Religion: Nobles almost invariably follow the state religion or other main religion from their land of origin, at least in public. A few may have private religious practices that are far less mainstream. Indeed, many a noble from a supposedly civilised land turns to demonworship when matters do not go entirely his way. Most nobles are not particularly pious; priests are often their political rivals.
Background: Nobles can be_ bona fide_ titled aristocrats or other upper-class characters such as poets or courtiers, though this is less common. All nobles begin their careers with the potential to be highly influential both locally and in their home country as a whole, though most do not achieve that potential for some time. Typically, a noble is the younger son of a landed aristocrat rather than his heir.
Game Rule Information
Abilities: As born leaders, nobles usually rely on Charisma above all other attributes. For those nobles wishing to concentrate on political intrigues, high Wisdom and Intelligence scores are also vital, whereas for more martial nobles Dexterity, Strength and Constitution can all be very useful indeed.
Hit Die: d8
The noble’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Appraise (Int), Bluff (Cha), Diplomacy (Cha), Streetwise (Cha), Handle Animal (Cha), Stealth (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (history) (Int), Knowledge (local) (Int), Knowledge (nobility) (Int), Knowledge (religion) (Int), Streetwise (Cha), Knowledge (warfare) (Int), Perform (Cha), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), Perception (Wis) and Survival (Wis).
Skill Points at 1st Level: (4 + Int modifier) × 4
Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 4+ Int modifier
|Level||Base Attack Bonus||Base Dodge Bonus||Base Parry Bonus||Magic Attack Bonus||Fort Save||Ref Save||Will Save||Special|
|1||+0||+0||+0||+0||+0||+0||+2||Title, Rank Hath Its Privileges, Wealth|
|2||+1||+0||+1||+0||+0||+0||+3||Special Regional Feature +1|
|5||+3||+1||+2||+1||+1||+1||+4||Lead By Example +2|
|7||+5||+2||+3||+1||+2||+2||+5||Special Regional Feature +2|
||+3||+5||+2||+3||+3||+7||Lead By Example +4|
||+4||+5||+2||+3||+3||+7||Do You Know Who I Am?|
||+4||+6||+3||+4||+4||+8||Special Regional Feature +3|
||+5||+7||+3||+5||+5||+9||Lead By Example +6|
||+6||+8||+4||+5||+5||+10||Special Regional Feature +4|
||+7||+10||+5||+6||+6||+12||Absolute Power, Lead By Example +8|
All of the following are class features of the noble:
Weapon and Armour Proficiency: A noble is proficient with all simple and martial weapons, with light, medium and heavy armour and with shields. Note that armour check penalties for wearing medium or heavy armour apply to the Acrobatics, Climb, Escape Artist, Sleight-of-Hand and Stealth skills.Also, Swim checks suffer a –1 penalty for every five pounds of armour and equipment a noble carries.
Title: The noble bears a title of nobility within his native country, giving him a Social Standing of +5. He comes from noble birth and family and can expect to ascend to his father’s title if he is in the direct line of succession. If he is not in the direct line, he can still better his title by performing notable martial or diplomatic deeds of note. Sample titles suitable for a character include:
Lord (direct heir or child of a landed noble)
It is not recommended that a beginning Player Character be a landed noble, such as a Patrician, Baron, Count or Duke. A landed noble has little time for adventuring, being more concerned with his position in court and his lands. A relative of a landed noble, however, has far more freedom and mobility and makes an excellent adventurer, albeit one who is likely to look down on less than salubrious inns and taverns.
Rank Hath Its Privileges: The character is a noble within his native land. As such he possesses all benefits and privileges bestowed on one of noble birth and title. Depending on his country, such benefits might include the right to bear arms, the right to have armed and liveried retainers, the right of hospitality in another noble’s domain, the right to attend the king’s court and the right of trial by his peers. Along with these benefits, however, comes the responsibility to uphold them. The character is expected to uphold the nobility of the land and support the king (or Queen, Khan, Prince or Duke as may be appropriate). As such he is expected to behave in a manner befitting his station, to remain free of the suspicion of treason and to appear, in all ways, to be a peer of the realm. Should the character fail to uphold his status he will at best become a social outcast and at worst be executed for treason.
Wealth: The noble starts with amazing wealth for a first level character. In addition to his normal starting money and equipment, the noble receives 200 sp + 200 sp for every point of Charisma modifier he possesses (as long as the value is positive). Some or all of this initial bonus money can be added to the noble’s starting equipment budget if desired. This money is a stipend from the noble’s family and is provided to ensure the noble does not drag the family’s name into the mud by appearing unkempt. The noble receives the same allowance each year. If he publicly squanders this money, however, he forfeits his allowance.
Special Regional Feature: At 2nd level, the noble gains a special regional feature that represents additional training or other bonuses he gains by virtue of his regional origin. As nobles are expected to be exemplars of their nation and race, this is usually tied in to the racial bonuses the character may have or to the weapons preferred by the nobility in that region. See the Noble Regional Features table overleaf for full information.
At 7th level and every five levels thereafter, all the bonuses associated with the special regional feature increase by +1.
|Region||Special Regional Feature|
|Hyboria||+1 bonus to attack rolls with broadsword, hunting bow, heavy lance and war spear.|
|Hyrkania||+1 bonus to attack rolls with Hyrkanian longbow, scimitar and tulwar.|
|+1 bonus to all Intimidate and Ride checks.|
|Khitai||+1 bonus to all magic attack rolls.|
|+1 bonus to all Knowledge checks.|
|Kush||+1 bonus to attack rolls with war spear and hunting bow.|
|+1 bonus to all Perform (ritual) and Craft (alchemy) checks.|
|Shem||+1 bonus to attack rolls with Shemite longbow and scimitar.|
|+1 bonus to all Bluff and Sense Motive checks.|
|+1 bonus to all Fortitude saving throws.|
|Stygia||+1 bonus to attack rolls with Stygian longbow.|
|+1 bonus to all magic attack rolls.|
|+1 bonus to all Handle Animal and Knowledge (arcana) checks.|
|Vendhya||+1 bonus to attack rolls with light lance and scimitar.|
|+1 bonus to all Diplomacy, Knowledge (nobility), Streetwise and Sense Motive checks.|
|Zamora||+1 bonus to attack rolls with dagger, short sword and poniard.|
|+1 bonus to all Reflex saving throws.|
|Zingara||+1 bonus to attack rolls with broadsword and arming sword.|
|+1 bonus to Parry Defence.|
Social Ability: The noble receives a social ability from the list below at levels 4, 9, 14 and 19. All gained abilities must be supported by roleplay and cannot be chosen without the approval of the Games Master. At the Games Master’s discretion, a noble may declare that he is spending his time off hunting instead of socialising, in which case he may choose a bonus feat from the following list instead of a social ability: Alertness or Skill Focus (Handle Animal, Ride or Survival).
- Ally: You have a close relationship with an influential individual who will go out of his way to aid you. Your ally holds some position of power, whether a noble title, position of influence within a temple or guild or some other rank that gives him influence over others. To gain the ally’s aid you must address him personally or get word to him of your need for assistance. Bear in mind that if you are adventuring in a distant land, this may be timeconsuming or even impossible.
The Games Master makes an Ally check based on 1d20 + your Charisma modifier + any applicable circumstance modifiers. Circumstance modifiers might include whether you have recently assisted your ally (4) or whether you have personally saved your ally’s life (+6 or higher).
The DC for the check depends upon the type of assistance requested. If it is a simple request, such as for an invitation to a social function, the loan of a small amount of money or the like, the DC is 10. Asking your ally to introduce you to someone of equal status to him might have a DC of 15. A request for physical assistance, such as asking for soldiers who are loyal to your ally to come to your aid, might be DC 25 or higher.
You may request aid from your ally once per month. However, for each request made in successive months, the DC rises by two.
The ally social feature may be selected more than once. Its benefits do not stack. Each new ally social feature represents a different ally.
- Comeliness: You take a pride in your appearance and are naturally well dressed and groomed. You receive a +2 circumstance bonus to all Charisma-based skill checks in situations where your appearance might be important.
- Entertainer: You are highly regarded at court as much for your skills as a poet, singer or other entertainer as for your noble blood. You gain a +2 competence bonus to all Perform checks. Furthermore, you may use a performance of one of your works, such as a poem or play, to make a political point. Creating and performing such a work takes one week and requires a Perform check. By doing so, you may achieve one of the following effects:
- Attempt to alter the attitude of one or more people using your Perform check result as though it were a Diplomacy check result.
- Ruin another’s Reputation: The DC for this is (10 + ¼ of target’s Reputation). If successful, the target immediately loses 50% of his base Reputation (round up) until he can clear his name. This ability can also be used to restore a damaged Reputation.
- Increase the Reputation bonus from a particular deed by +1, to a maximum of +5. The DC is (10 + (the current Reputation bonus of the deed × 3)).
- Etiquette: You may attempt to smooth over bad feelings from a social faux pas or vulgar breach of etiquette committed either by you, your companions or someone you take pity upon. You cannot undo the mistake but you can erase the social stigma from whoever committed the error.
For example, if Lord Stefano accidentally insults Baroness Demarque by mistaking her for the serving wench, you can step in to keep tempers from rising or tarnished pride from causing an over-hasty response by delivering a discourse on the merits of rational thought and forgiveness. If someone is intentionally trying to cause a social incident, make opposed Diplomacy checks with all relevant modifiers. Characters with the Etiquette ability gain a +2 bonus to this check.
You can use your Etiquette ability a number of times per day equal to 1 + your Charisma modifier (minimum one).
- Family Ties: You have strong ties to your blood kin, such that they would delay important tasks to come to your aid. Of course, this cuts both ways; if someone kills your brother, you will have to hunt the murderer to the furthest reaches of the realm and beyond. To gain your family’s aid, you must address a family member personally or get a message to him. As with the ally social ability this may prove difficult or impossible if you are adventuring thousands of miles away from your home country. The Games Master makes a family ties check based on 1d20 + your Charisma modifier + any applicable circumstance modifiers. If you have recently done a favour for your family, you might get a +2 circumstance bonus to the check. If you have recently risked your life for them, you might get a +4 or +6 bonus to the check, at the Games Master’s discretion.
The DC for the check is based on the type of aid asked for. Asking to stay at a relative’s house while you and your companions recover from an adventure might be a 10 or 15, depending on how well you know the relative. Requesting a cousin to meet you with armed retainers for a midnight raid on a bandit camp might be a 15 or 20, depending on whether your cousin has been personally affected by the bandits. Asking a relative to help you kidnap a baron and hold him for ransom would be a 35 to 40 and might get you and your relative disowned and attainted if you fail.
Your family might not have the high status or power that the ally feat provides but they are more loyal and persistent than an ally.
- Improved Standing: You may increase your Social Standing by +2, to a maximum of +9. This also increases your Reputation.
- Refuge: You have some hidden place where you will always be welcomed and can feel safe. Your refuge might be the home of another noble, a travelling merchant caravan or just a cave outfitted for your comfort. Whatever the case, it is almost always open to you, unless of course someone else gets there first.
- Savoir-Faire: You have a certain flair, dashing style, élan or bravura that marks you as someone special. Everything you do is done with style, whether it be entering a room and turning heads, carving your initials into a tapestry with your rapier or even savouring a meal at a banquet to impress your host.
You can intentionally attempt to impress others with your style in any task. You may make any required checks normally but if your result is five or more levels higher than the required DC to succeed at the task, you have performed the deed with stunning flair. The Games Master is free to dictate any rules he wishes but some possible outcomes include gaining an initiative bonus on successive actions or a bonus to your Charisma-based skills to further impress those who witnessed your deed.
It is very hard to embarrass you, for you can turn even a fall into an elegant dance. Anytime you fail badly at something you can make a Bluff skill check as a free action to mitigate the failure and make it look intentional. The DC depends on the nature of what you have done wrong but it is usually 15 or 20. The higher your result, the better your reaction to failure appears.
As a free action, you may make a Diplomacy check to oppose anyone trying to embarrass you, even if you are unaware of what is going on. The Games Master can make the roll for you.
- Smear Others: You can attempt to ruin another’s good name or instil hostility toward him in certain people. It usually takes at least one night of socialising with the targeted audience, similar to a Streetwise check, in order to change their minds concerning the object of your smear campaign. Characters normally make Diplomacy checks to alter someone’s attitude for the better. You can alter it for the worse with your own Diplomacy check. Whenever the object of your smear campaign arrives, people’s initial attitudes toward him reflect your influence. The audience does not need to personally know the person; reputation and name are enough. Note: Add +5 to the DC if people in the crowd know the individual personally.
|Initial Attitude||New Attitude|
- Secrets: You have information about some other famous or influential character. You can gain a +4 circumstance bonus to Diplomacy or Intimidate checks against that character once per session. Alternatively, you can reveal this secret, which is invariably damaging to the character’s reputation, standing, wealth or position in society. This social feature may be selected more than once. Its benefits do not stack. Each new secrets social feature represents a new victim of your blackmailing ways.
Lead By Example: At 5th level the noble may lead by example. When carrying out the aid another action, the noble performs particularly well. If the noble’s attack roll is successful, the noble’s ally receives a +4 bonus to his attack roll or a +4 bonus to his defence (noble’s choice). At 10th level, this bonus increases to +6 to attack or defence, at 15th level it increases to +8 and at 20th level it increases to +10.
Enhanced Leadership: The noble receives the Leadership feat for free. However, given his natural status as a leader of men and peer of the realm, the noble gains a +1 bonus to his Leadership score for every full three noble class levels he has attained; that is, +2 at 6th to 8th levels, +3 at 9th to 11th levels, +4 at 12th to 14th levels, +5 at 15th to 17th levels and +6 at 18th level or higher.
Although in most cases the noble’s followers and cohort will be something like hereditary retainers, loyal subjects or a division of his nation’s army placed under his command, this need not always be the case. For example, Bêlit, known as Queen of the Black Coast, was a Pelishtim noblewoman who rose to become leader of a fleet of Southern Island pirates through a combination of force of personality, noble bearing and charisma that would have put a goddess to shame.
If the noble already has the Leadership feat by the time he reaches 6th level (through multiclassing), he instead gains Skill Focus (Diplomacy) as a bonus feat. He still gains the bonuses to his leadership for Enhanced Leadership and may indeed gain said bonuses earlier – if he already has the Leadership feat as a 3rd level noble, he will gain a +1 bonus to his Leadership score for Enhanced Leadership, since the bonus is +1 for every three class levels. For single-classed characters these bonuses are not counted until 6th level, as characters cannot take Leadership before 6th class level.
Rally: As a full round action, the noble can rally his allies. Allies within a 30-foot radius gain a +2 morale bonus to all attack rolls and saving throws. Furthermore, if they are already affected by Terror, they may make new saving throws at their original DCs to attempt to shake off the terror. This ability lasts for one round per class level. If the noble is attacked while using this ability he must make a Concentration check (DC 10 + damage received) or the rally is ineffective.
Do You Know Who I Am?: The noble receives this ability at 11th level. As a full-round action, the noble character may loudly declare his name, titles and heritage to all who listen. Following this declaration any who wish to attack the noble, whether physically or verbally, must make a Will saving throw at DC 10 + the noble’s class level + the noble’s charisma modifier + the noble’s bonus to skill checks from Reputation. Should the potential attackers fail this Will saving throw, they are unable to assault the noble. Even if they pass, those who are five or more levels lower than the noble are shaken, suffering a –2 penalty to all attack rolls, saving throws and skill checks for the duration of the combat. Potential attackers must be able to see and hear the noble for this ability to take effect. Furthermore, those affected must have some reason to be afraid of the power of the noble. Bandits, ruffians and the like should all have some fear for the rule of law within the noble’s native land and rightfully be concerned about the consequences of assaulting him. This effect lasts until the victims have had a chance to go away and organise their thoughts, after which it may not be used on the same people again.
However, confirmed traitors to the throne, agents of a foreign power or wandering barbarians might well have little to fear, or at least little more to fear about adding the death of the noble to their list of crimes. Those who are of equal Social Standing to the noble and those at negative Social Standing relative to the noble are immune to this effect. The Games Master decides whether a listener is immune to this power through a lack of fear. In most cases, Player Characters should be unaffected, although the Games Master should feel free to at least remind them of the likely consequences if they do attack the noble.
Absolute Power: The noble is now in such a position of power as to be all but inviolate. The noble receives the benefits of the 11th level ability Do You Know Who I Am? without having to spend the full-round action to declare his name and heritage.
Although there is no particular restriction on characters starting the game as nobles other than the usual prohibited class restrictions for certain character races, it is not possible for a non-noble to gain a level in the noble class once play has begun, except by special permission of the Games Master. This can happen if the character somehow becomes ennobled by game play, such as by seizing power (as Conan did) or by being knighted for valiant service to a local lord.
Ex-nobles retain all class features and special abilities and may use them without penalty, except as follows: At the Games Master’s discretion, a noble who is publicly exiled from the land from which his titles stem may lose some or all benefits of the class. Likewise, if a noble must flee the land in disgrace to avoid a worse fate, he may lose some or all of the noble class benefits. These matters should always be resolved on a case-by-case basis; for example, a noble with a code of honour who is exiled by a dishonourable king may find that the majority of his retainers (as represented by his Leadership score) voluntarily go with him into exile, while his family and allies may be more willing than ever to help him if it is perceived that his cause is just, though the nature of their help may need to be a good deal more subtle. Indeed, if the exiled noble uses his influence to mobilise support against the king, perhaps even starting a revolution, he may find himself with still more benefits from the noble class than he started off with – especially if he deposes the old regime and installs himself on the throne!