Blacksnakes are masters of the whip, focusing on the possibilities inherent in using a length of leather or cord to accomplish things less flexible (but more easily mastered) weapons can’t. Their name comes from their appearance in combat—fast-moving, nimble combatants with long, twisting, and striking shapes that strike and recoil in the way a snake does.
Blacksnakes are most common among the lower castes and are usually found working as enforcers, assassins, thief-takers or thieves. In many cases, they operate in regions where carrying a greatsword or pike would draw attention, but little thought is given to someone with a rope belt or loop of tanned hide hanging from her belt. Of course, it takes more than a need for stealth to drive someone to train in the ways of the whip—daggers and saps can be concealed and mastered far more easily than going through the training required to become a blacksnake. Only a natural talent for the knacks required, and a fascination with the movement of a whip, can drive someone to put in the months of training it takes to go from mere proficiency with a whip to having the blacksnake’s ability to make her lash dance so precisely.
Blacksnakes are often perceived as thugs and bullies, and the archetype package is often taken by characters that are slavers and enforcers. But some adventurers and tomb delvers also favor the flexibility and reach of the whip, and have more interest in it as a tool than an instrument of cruelty. Of course, the difference between these two types of blacksnakes is solely in their attitudes, and so can be difficult to determine at a glance. Many good-hearted adventurers who become blacksnakes will find locals are mistrustful of anyone carrying a long braid of steel-tipped leather.
All blacksnakes are proficient with the whip. Additionally, a blacksnake’s natural comfort with the movement of her whip and the effort required to attack with it allows her to not provoke attacks of opportunity when making an attack with the whip.
The blacksnake’s specialty is her ability to make a whip crack in the chinks of a target’s armor to achieve maximum effect. While a more armored foe is still harder to hit, through extensive practice the blacksnake can hit exposed flesh or transmit shock through even hide and chain defenses. The blacksnake can deal lethal or nonlethal damage with a whip, as she prefers. She can also deal damage to targets with her whip even if they have an armor bonus of +1 or higher or a natural armor bonus of +3 or higher.
As a blacksnake gains experience, she learns a number of talents that grant her new ways to use a whip to aid herself and confound her enemies. At 2nd level, a blacksnake gains one lash talent. She gains an additional lash talent for every 2 levels attained after 2nd level. Unless otherwise specified, a blacksnake cannot select an individual talent more than once.
Churn (Ex): By keeping her whip constantly in motion, even when not attacking, the blacksnake makes it very difficult for foes to disarm or sunder her whip. She adds half her class level to her CMD against disarm and sunder maneuvers made against her whip.
Fine Control (Ex): As a full-round action, the blacksnake may use her whip to manipulate an unattended object up to 15 feet away as if she were adjacent to it. The blacksnake is limited to manipulations she could accomplish in a single move action using only one hand. For example, the blacksnake can pick the object up, bringing it to her space (and even grabbing it with a free hand, if she has one).
Flay (Ex): This talent allows the blacksnake to actually lift skin off her targets with well-struck attacks. When the blacksnake scores a critical hit on a target, it also suffers a bleed effect. This causes the target to take 1 additional point of damage each round for every 2 class levels of the blacksnake (for example, an 8th-level rogue that has taken the blacksnake archetype package causes 4 points of bleed).
Bleeding creatures take this damage every round at the start of their turns. The bleeding can be stopped by a DC 15 Heal check or the application or any effect that heals hit point damage. Bleeding damage from this ability does not stack with itself. Bleeding damage bypasses any damage reduction the creature might possess.
Snap (Ex): The blacksnake becomes increasingly familiar with the full reach and capabilities of her whip, becoming a more potent threat to those around her. When armed with a whip, the blacksnake threatens spaces within 5 feet of her. If she is 6th level or higher, when armed with a whip she threatens spaces with 10 feet of her. If 12th level or higher, when armed with a whip she threatens spaces within 15 feet of her.
Snatch (Ex): The blacksnake gains a bonus to disarm maneuvers made with a whip equal to 1/3 her level. Additionally, if she successfully disarms a foe with her whip, she can pull the disarmed object into her space. If she has a free hand she can grab the item, otherwise it falls at her feet.
Sting (Ex): With this talent a blacksnake can use her whip to cause painful welts that distract her foes. As a standard action the blacksnake may attempt to sting a single target within range of her whip. She must make a melee touch attack against the target. If the attack is successful, the target must make a Fortitude save (DC 10 + the blacksnake’s Dexterity modifier + 1/2 the Blacksnake’s level + any enhancement bonus to attack of the whip). The target may add his armor or natural armor bonus (whichever is higher) as a bonus to this Fortitude save. On a failed save, the target drops any object he is holding, and provokes attacks of opportunity from anyone threatening him (including the blacksnake, if she threatens him with a weapon other than a whip).
Swing Line (Ex): The blacksnake has mastered the art of using her whip as a swing line, allowing her to cross chasms and rapidly climb the length of her whip. As a standard action, the blacksnake can lash the end of her whip to any appropriate anchor point within range. As part of a move action, she can then move up to fifteen feet from her starting point as part of her normal movement without requiring Acrobatics or Climb checks that might normally be needed, moving at her full speed even up a wall, over a chasm, or across difficult terrain. She can even attach the whip to a point next to her, wrap the remaining length around herself, and jump down, unrolling the whip from her body as she goes. The blacksnake can detach the whip from its anchor point as a free action.
Whip Mastery: The blacksnake gains one of the following feats: Agile Maneuvers, Combat Expertise, Combat Reflexes, Dazzling Display, Greater Disarm, Greater Feint, Greater Trip, Improved Disarm, Improved Feint, Improved Trip, Intimidating Prowess, Shatter Defenses, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus (whip), or Whirlwind Attack. The blacksnake may select this talent multiple times. Each time it is selected, a different feat is gained. The blacksnake must meet all prerequisites to select a whip mastery feat.
The blacksnake must meet the prerequisites to select a whip mastery feat.
The Genius Guide to: Martial Archetypes – Special Notes
Archetype packages are sets of class abilities characters may select in place of some of the normal abilities gained from a class.
This book was written with the assumption that every class has at least one archetype package built into it which represents a standard set of powers all members of that class receive (see below for details). It is designed with the premise that one can remove some of the standard abilities of a class and replace them with new options that, while different from what the core rulebook says, have no detrimental effect on the class’s mechanical balance or ability to contribute to an adventuring team.
An obvious example of an existing archetype package can be seen in the cleric, who gets to pick two domains. These are in addition to the cleric’s core abilities (and clerics have a broad range of options even without domains). Even if a player neglected to ever select those domains, the character would be able to perform the cleric’s core function and maintain the same role in a well?built team. However, over 20 levels these domains give the cleric access to nine spell slots, eighteen spells known, four special abilities, and in some cases up to two additional class skills or bonus feats.
In the context of this product, the cleric’s two domains represent a single archetype package—the Domain Servant. That package becomes just one option a cleric can take, with the new archetypes in this volume representing some alternative options. A player who wants to play a cleric that also has an increased level of battle expertise (perhaps as a priest serving a deity of war) gives up the Domain Servant archetype package and selects one of the new martial archetypes described in the following pages.
To gain a new archetype, a character must forgo one of the archetypes normally granted to his class. While most classes have only one archetype, a few (alchemist, bard, cavalier, inquisitor, paladin, and ranger) have two. Classes with multiple archetypes only need to give up one in order to take a new archetype package.
The alchemist has two archetype packages: Grenadier and Mad Chymist.
Grenadier: The grenadier package includes all the alchemist’s bomb abilities, throw anything, and the advancement of bomb damage. It also includes the discoveries normally gained at 8th and 14th levels. Without this archetype package, an alchemist never gains or advances the bomb ability.
Mad Chymist: The mad chymist package includes the mutagen and persistent mutagen abilities, and the discoveries normally gained at 2nd, 6th, 10th, and 18th levels. Without this archetype package, an alchemist never gains or advances the mutagen ability, and is treated as not being an alchemist if a mutagen is consumed.
The barbarian has one archetype package: Berserker.
Berserker: The berserker archetype includes a barbarian’s rage class ability and all rage powers, including greater rage, indomitable will, tireless rage, and mighty rage. A barbarian that gives up this package never receives any of these abilities.
The bard has two archetype packages: Performer and Spellsinger.
Performer: The performer archetype grants a bard all the bardic performance class abilities plus the versatile performance and well-versed class abilities. A bard that gives up this package never receives any of these abilities.
Spellsinger: The spellsinger archetype grants a bard all his spellcasting ability. A bard that gives up this package gains no caster level, has no spells known or spells/ day, and has no access to the bardic spell list.
The cavalier has two archetype packages: Knight and Horseman.
Knight: The Knight archetype package includes 1 use/day of the challenge ability gained at 1st level, 1 use/day gained at 16th level, and the cavalier’s order. A cavalier without this archetype package gains the challenge ability at 4th level, but has 1 fewer uses/day (and beginning at 16th level, 2 fewer uses/day).
The cleric has one archetype package: Domain Servant.
Domain Servant: The domain servant archetype grants a cleric two domains, and one spell slot/level for domain spells. A cleric that gives up this package does not receive one additional spell slot per spell level for domain spells, and gives up all domain granted powers and domain spells.
The druid has one archetype package: Beastlord.
Beastlord: The beastlord archetype grants the druid the spontaneous casting, wild empathy, and wildshape class abilities (including all improvements to wildshape). A druid that gives up this archetype never receives any of these abilities.
The fighter has one archetype package: Battle Master.
Battle Master: The battle master archetype grants a fighter the bonus feats gained at 1st, 6th, 12th, and 18th levels, bravery, and weapon training. Additionally, without this archetype package the character cannot take feats whose prerequisites include levels in the fighter class (such as Weapon Specialization).
The inquisitor has two archetype packages: Executioner and Magister.
Magister: The magister archetype package includes the spells and orisons abilities. An inquisitor without this archetype is not a spellcaster. The inquisitor retains the domain ability, and if a caster level is required for a class ability it is considered to be equal to the inquisitor’s level.
The monk has one archetype package: Ki Master.
Ki Master: The ki master archetype grants a monk the flurry of blows, bonus feat gained at 2nd level, ki pool, wholeness of body, abundant step, and empty body class abilities. A monk that gives up this package never receives any of these abilities, has no ki pool, and cannot spend ki points as part of the high jump ability.
The oracle has one archetype package: Mystic.
Mystic: The mystic archetype package includes the oracle’s mystery plus all the class skills, bonus spells, and revelations it includes. An oracle without this archetype package may choose to have an oracle’s curse or not, as the player prefers. This decision is made at first level, and once made it cannot be changed.
The paladin has two archetype packages: Avenger and Divine Guardian.
Avenger: The Avenger archetype grants a paladin the smite evil, lay on hands, mercy, channel positive energy, and divine bond class abilities. A paladin that gives up this package never receives any of these abilities.
Divine Guardian: The divine guardian archetype grants a paladin the detect evil and aura of courage class abilities, plus all of the paladin’s spellcasting ability. A paladin that gives up this package never receives any of those abilities, gains no caster level, has no spells/day, and has no access to the paladin spell list.
The ranger has two archetype packages: Scout and Woodland Spellcaster.
Scout: The Scout archetype grants a ranger the favored enemy, combat style feat, favored terrain, and hunter’s bond class abilities. A ranger that gives up this package never receives any of these abilities.
Woodland Spellcaster: The woodlander spellcaster archetype grants a ranger Spellcraft as a class skill, 2 of the ranger’s 6 skill points per level, the ranger’s wild empathy ability, and all the ranger’s spellcasting ability. A ranger that gives up this package never receives any of those abilities, gets only 4 skill points (plus Int bonus) per level, gains no caster level, has no spells/day, and has no access to the ranger spell list.
The rogue has one archetype package: Sneak.
Sneak: The sneak archetype grants a rogue the sneak attack dice gained at 1st, 5th, 9th, 13th, and 17th levels, as well as the trap sense class ability. A rogue that gives up this package still receives sneak attack dice at 3rd, 7th, 11th, 15th and 19th levels, but never receives the trap sense abilities.
The sorcerer has one archetype package: Heritage.
Heritage: The heritage archetype grants a sorcerer one bloodline—including the bloodline class skill, bonus spells, bonus feats, bloodline arcana, and bloodline powers. A sorcerer that gives up this package never receives any of these abilities or bonus items.
The summoner has one archetype template: Augmenter.
Augmenter: The augmenter template includes the summoner’s 1st-level and higher spells (but not his access to cantrips or his special summon monster spell-like ability). A summoner that gives up this package never gains spells of 1st-level and above.
The witch has one archetype package: Hexen.
The wizard has one archetype package: Arcane Master
Arcane Master: The arcane master archetype grants a wizard the arcane bond and arcane school class abilities. The wizard does not choose a school (not even the universalist school) to specialize in, and never gains any of the abilities granted for specializing in a school. The wizard also does not need to choose two opposing schools.
The adept godling has one archetype package: Blood of Magic
Blood of Magic: The Blood of Magic archetype grants an adept godling the lineage domain and divine trait class abilities. An adept godling that gives up this package never receives any of these abilities.
The archon has one archetype package: Riven Lord
The armiger has one archetype package: Rampart
Rampart: An armiger without this archetype package grants only partial soft cover to adjacent allies with the bulwark class ability. He also does not gain an armiger talent at 2nd level, or an advanced armiger talent at 20th level. Without this package the armiger does not gain armored DR at 4th level, and his armored DR is reduced by 1 at all other levels.
The clever godling has one archetype package: Like My Father
Like My Father: The Like My Father archetype grants a clever godling the lineage domain and scion talent class abilities. A clever godling that gives up this package never receives any of these abilities.
The death mage has one archetype package: Death Master
The dragonrider has one archetype package: Dragon Kith
Dragon Kith: The Dragon Kith archetype grants a dragonrider low-light vision, spells, and darkvision. A dragonrider without the Dragon Kith base archetype package has only two good saving throw advancements, chosen when the package is selected. The other saving throw advances at the same rate as a barbarian’s Reflex save. A dragonrider that gives up this package never receives any of these abilities.
The eldritch godling has one archetype package: Blood of Magic
Blood of Magic: The Blood of Magic archetype grants an eldritch godling the lineage domain and divine trait class abilities. An eldritch godling that gives up this package never receives any of these abilities.
The magister has one archetype package: Master of Mysticism
Master of Mysticism: The Master of Mysticism archetype grants a magister the mystic bond, mystic talents, and advanced mystic talents class abilities. A magister that gives up this package never receives any of these abilities.
The mighty godling has one archetype package: Like My Father
Like My Father: The Like My Father archetype grants a mighty godling the lineage domain and scion talent class abilities. A mighty godling that gives up this package never receives any of these abilities.
The shadow assassin has one archetype package: Shadow Cunning
Shadow Cunning: The Shadow Cunning archetype grants a shadow assassin the shadow style class ability. A shadow assassin built without this archetype package has only 4 skill points/ level and must choose 4 of the shadow assassin’s normal class skills to not be class skills for the character. A shadow assassin that gives up this package never receives any of these abilities.
The shaman has one archetype package: Spirit Talker
Spirit Talker: The Spirit Talker archetype grants a shaman the spirit companion class ability. A shaman built without this archetype package has only 2 skill points/level and does not have Craft (focus) on its class skill list. A shaman that gives up this package never receives any of these abilities.
The time thief has one archetype package: Temporal Rogue
Temporal Rogue: The Temporal Rogue archetype grants a time thief the temporal talents class ability. A time thief without this package receives half as many motes after all calculations have been made (rounding any fractions down). A time thief that gives up this package never receives any of these abilities.
The vanguard has one archetype package: Battle Mage
Battle Mage: The Battle Mage archetype grants a vanguard the arcane strike, combat casting, bonus feats granted at 4th, 16th, and 19th level, spell block, spell sunder, and spell grapple class abilities. A vanguard that gives up this package never receives any of these abilities.
The war master has one archetype package: Student of Battle
Student of Battle: The Student of Battle archetype grants a war master the war master talents and advanced talents class abilities. A war master built without this archetype package has only 2 skill points/level. A war master that gives up this package never receives any of these abilities.
The witch hunter has one archetype package: Devoted
Now that we know what an archetype package is and how to get one (and at what cost), we can present new archetype options for characters. While the archetypes were often designed with a specific class or set of classes in mind, they are all designed to be as generic as possible. Though only specific types of characters benefit from taking most of these martial archetypes, none are forbidden from doing so. A few archetype packages even have abilities that aid in spellcasting. It is worth noting that the Spellhammer is only of use to characters with at least a modicum of spellcasting ability.
While some of these archetype packages work quite well with characters that primarily use ranged weapons, there is a slight bias in favor of melee weapons in these packages. Players looking for packages designed to cater specifically to characters using bows or other ranged options would do well to look at The Genius Guide to Archer Archetypes, which has 5 ranged-weapon-specific archetype packages. Players looking for packages designed to provide more spellcasting options would do well to look at The Genius Guide to Arcane Archetypes or The Genius Guide to Divine Archetypes.
The Genius Guide To: Martial Archetypes. Copyright 2010, Super Genius Games. Author: Owen K.C. Stephens