Character Classes


Mariners live their lives at sea, waking to the smell of salt air and falling asleep at night to the sound of the waves. Some mariners are hardworking, simple sailors who love life at sea. Others are ruthless buccaneers, bent on gaining personal wealth through force and skill. Mariners may do quite well for themselves on land, but they always long for the freedom of the ocean.

Many individuals become mariners in order to see the wide world, while others set sail in search of treasure or to avenge themselves on an enemy. Since situations can change rapidly on board ship, the mariner must be prepared to face a variety of dangers, from hurricanes to fire, starvation to mutiny. The mariner learns to adapt quickly to changing circumstances in order to survive.

Mariners are most comfortable when in view of the sea, and often become dispirited when they venture too far inland. They are quick to react to danger and sudden threats. They are not ruled by emotion, but think through any situation, then act accordingly. Those who live at sea are accustomed to the hard life and adopt a pragmatic outlook in order to survive. To the landlubber, such an attitude can seem callous or even ruthless.

Mariners are often of neutral alignment, learning to accept difficult situations they cannot change. They are rarely chaotic, since life aboard ship requires structure and discipline.

Mariners are not generally deeply religious, though most are superstitious. Mariners, even those of non-evil alignment, honor Zeboim, in the belief that their offerings and prayers will placate the capricious Sea Queen. Mariners of good alignment may also revere Habbakuk, the Fisher King, while those of neutral alignment may pay homage to Chislev, whose command over nature extends to the ocean.

Mariners generally come from coastaldwelling families, who have a long-standing tradition of serving aboard ship. Mariners may also hire onto a ship in order to escape problems on land, either running from the law or trying to conceal dangerous secrets. Many mariners are professional sailors, forming part of a navy, in which case they may come from a noble family with a history of naval officer service.

Some mariners come into their careers by being pressed into service against their will. A captain who is short his full complement of crewmen will send out his officers with gangs of sailors to "press" men into service. A man may be drinking in a tavern one night, only to wake up the next morning with a cracked skull on board a ship already many leagues out at sea. Others mariners are sent to sea as punishment for crimes or may be forced to serve in ships as slaves.

Minotaurs are the most respected and feared mariners in Ansalon. All minotaurs are expected to serve on board ship at some point in their lives. Ogres, too, have held maritime endeavors in the past; half-ogres especially are common around the Blood Sea.

The humans of Northern Ergoth and Saifhum are known for their seamanship, with entire families serving on board sailing ships. Other human cultures produce mariners, also. Those nations whose cities have active ports engaged in the sea trade are the most likely to do so. Palanthas and Sanction are good examples, as was once fabled Tarsis, until the Cataclysm robbed it of its harbor.

Elves rarely become mariners, since they feel most at home in their beloved woodlands and because there is a superstition among mariners that elves aboard ship are bad luck. Even so, the Silvanesti have long had a House Mariner whose role in elven society is to build and sail graceful coastal ships, but it is a minor house with only a handful of families. Sea elves, despite their aquatic environment, rarely produce mariners because they would rather be swimming in the ocean, not sailing upon it. Half-elves, especially those whose elven parent was a sea elf, are much more likely to become mariners.

Gnomes of appropriate guilds sometimes become mariners, designing new and impressive ships and experimental submersibles. Dwarves never become mariners, and think anyone who chooses the life of a sailor must be crazy. Kender are more likely to be found at sea as passengers and stowaways, not sailors, but are known.

While at sea, most mariners work well with other classes. Rogues and bards generally acquire their sea legs quickly and possess a broad range of skills that mariners admire. Mariners also appreciate the strong sword arms of fighters, rangers, and barbarians. Clerics and arcane spellcasters are not generally found aboard ships, but their magic is appreciated and utilized when available. Paladins and Knights of Solamnia rarely associate with mariners, for the paladin's righteous code and the knight's adherence to the Oath and the Measure often conflict with the mariner's more pragmatic view of life.

Like the bard, the mariner brings a variety of skills and abilities to an adventuring group, while not specializing in anything. A mariner's abilities work best in support positions to other characters, although like the ranger they can step up to combat when needed. While the mariner's class features are useful to adventurers on land, they are unparalleled while out at sea.

Alignment: Any.

Hit Die: d8.

Class Skills

The mariner's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Balance (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Escape Artist (Dex), Gather Information (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge(local) (Int), Knowledge(nature) (Int), Profession (Wis), Speak Language (none), Spot (Wis), Survival (Wis), Swim (Str), Tumble (Dex), and Use Rope (Dex).

Skill Points at 1st Level: (6 + Int modifier) x 4.

Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 6 + Int modifier.

Table: The Mariner

Level Base
Attack Bonus
1st +1 +2 +2 +0 Bonus feat, sailor lore, seamanship +1
2nd +2 +3 +3 +0 Dirty strike +1d4
3rd +3 +3 +3 +1
4th +4 +4 +4 +1 Back-to-back +1
5th +5 +4 +4 +1 Bonus feat, seamanship +2
6th +6/+1 +5 +5 +2 Dirty strike +2d4
7th +7/+2 +5 +5 +2
8th +8/+3 +6 +6 +2 Back-to-back +2
9th +9/+4 +6 +6 +3 Seamanship +3
10th +10/+5 +7 +7 +3 Bonus feat, dirty strike +3d4
11th +11/+6/+1 +7 +7 +3
12th +12/+7/+2 +8 +8 +4 Back-to-back +3
13th +13/+8/+3 +8 +8 +4 Seamanship +4
14th +14/+9/+4 +9 +9 +4 Dirty strike +4d4
15th +15/+10/+5 +9 +9 +5 Bonus feat
16th +16/+11/+6/+1 +10 +10 +5 Back-to-back +4
17th +17/+12/+7/+2 +10 +10 +5 Seamanship +5
18th +18/+13/+8/+3 +11 +11 +6 Dirty strike +5d4
19th +19/+14/+9/+4 +11 +11 +6  
20th +20/+15/+10/+5 +12 +12 +6 Back-to-back +5, Bonus feat
Class Features

All of the following are class features of the mariner.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: A mariner is proficient with all simple weapons, plus the cutlass, net, scimitar, and trident. A mariner is proficient with light armor and buckler shields.

Bonus Feat: At 1st level, 5th, 10th, 15th and 20th levels, a mariner gains a bonus feat. These feats must be chosen from the list below. A mariner must still meet all prerequisites for a bonus feat, including ability score and base attack bonus minimums.

Bonus Feat List: Alertness, Combat Expertise, Improved Disarm, Improved Feint, Improved Trip, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Mobility, Exotic Weapon Proficiency, Improved Initiative, Lucky, Point Blank Shot, Far Shot, Precise Shot, Rapid Shot, Power Attack, Cleave, Great Cleave, Improved Bull Rush, Improved Overrun, Improved Sunder, Quick Draw, Quick-Thinking, Toughness, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus.

Sailor Lore (Ex): A mariner picks up a lot of knowledge by listening to local gossip in various ports of call or from the sea stories of shipmates. A mariner may make a special sailor lore check with a bonus equal to his mariner level + his Intelligence modifier to see whether he knows some relevant information about local people or history, far away places, or strange superstitions. This check will not necessarily reveal true information, as much of the time the mariner heard it from someone who heard it from a friend, who heard it from a guy, etc. The mariner may not take 10 or 20 on this check; this sort of knowledge is essentially random. The DM will determine the DC of the check by referring to the accompanying table.

Table: Sailor Lore

DC Type of Knowledge Example
10 Commonly known, something that most people have heard and gossip about. The Knights of Neraka have blockaded Ak-Khurman; Saifhum is a den of pirates and buccaneers.
20 Known by select groups of individuals, not widely known by the general populace. A port official in Gulfport is rumored to have a weakness for dwarven ale; a stretch of coast in Khur which the Knights of Neraka do not patrol.
25 Known only by few individuals, spoken of only in whispers and secrecy. A Solamnic Knight whose family fortunes were built upon piracy back in the time of Istar; legends of a ghost ship that haunts the dry sea of Tarsis.
30 Unknown to the vast majority of people, long since forgotten by most. A safe way of traversing the Maelstrom of the Blood Sea; the location of the sunken ship of an infamous pirate.

Seamanship (Ex): A mariner gains the listed bonus as a competence bonus to all Balance, Climb, and Profession (sailor) checks.

Dirty Strike (Ex): A mariner is adept at maneuvers such as hitting below the belt, head butts, sucker punches, and other opportunistic tricks. Starting at 2nd level, a mariner may choose to make a single melee attack on his turn as a full round action that deals an additional +1d4 points of damage. This bonus increases to +2d4 at 6th level, +3d4 at 10th level, +4d4 at 14th level, and +5d4 at 18th level. The additional damage caused by a dirty strike is the same kind of damage as the weapon used in the attack; a 2nd-level mariner that uses a club to make a dirty strike deals an additional +1d4 bludgeoning damage, for example, and if the damage dealt by the attack is nonlethal damage, the additional damage is also nonlethal. This ability has no effect on creatures without a discernable anatomy or that are immune to critical hits, such as constructs, oozes, plants, or undead. Additional damage from a dirty strike is not multiplied if the mariner scores a successful critical hit.

Back-to-Back (Ex): A mariner is trained in fighting alongside his shipmates in cramped and crowded conditions, especially against superior numbers. Starting at 4th level, whenever a mariner is adjacent to an ally and using the fighting defensively or total defense combat options or the Combat Expertise feat, he gains a +1 dodge bonus to his AC. This bonus increases to +2 at 8th level, +3 at 12th level, +4 at 16th level, and +5 at 20th level. He loses this bonus if he is denied his Dexterity bonus to AC or if he or his ally moves more than 5 ft. away.