Prestige Classes


“Scream. Scream like you made me scream.”

—Peck, the Swan Street Slicer

In the broken hearts and shattered dreams of the tragically wronged, seeds of vengeance take root. Avenging executioners are victims pushed past the limits of endurance who hunt sentient creatures out of a need for justice. Relentless and inventive, these stalkers wield psychology as deftly as their weapons. The fear they inspire can be even more deadly then their rusted blades.


Hatred so intense as to be obsession inspires an avenging executioner to take up his bloody path. Rangers who have suffered mind-shattering tragedies might be compelled to choose fellow humanoids as their favored enemies. Rogues who turn to the path of vengeance use their lethal precision to dreadful effect. Druids who have seen their lands despoiled and sorcerers or wizards who have been victims of witch hunts might turn their spells toward revenge. Any individual so driven can excel as an avenging executioner, regardless of class.


You are a warrior of dark passions and an agent of your own brand of justice. Your path is not one of wanton bloodletting, but a search for righteousness where none exists, a measure of punishment no court would dare impose, and a way to finally silence screams that long have gone unanswered. By your blade you are judge and executioner in a world where innocence is yours alone to decide and forgiveness is weakness. And for your prey there can never be restitution.

As an avenging executioner, you are driven by a thirst for revenge, whether against a person, a group, or even a whole race. You seek to share your fear and suffering with those you perceive as responsible. You are often alone in your quest—few understand your obsession. Occasionally you find others as impassioned as you and together strive for vengeance against a common enemy, but such kindred spirits are rare.

Your past is gone, and many fear you. You operate on the fringes of society. In darkened alleys, dank sewers, and lonely moors, you build your reputation and grow in strength.


The aspects of fear—surprise, intimidation, and hopelessness—are vital weapons in your arsenal. Given the opportunity, you should always attack unexpectedly to cripple your prey with terror. Those who stand their ground must face your blade and the dread you wield along with it. Retreat and strike again from hiding against more powerful opponents or those unaffected by fear. When your prey flees, hunt it down and ambush it repeatedly, inspiring ever greater dread and panic with which to slowly tear it apart.


Tragedy led you to your current life. The loss of a friend to a savage raid, betrayal by a church that promised sanctuary, abandonment by friends who swore their support—any such great wrong might have caused you to break from those you once trusted. Your hunger for revenge is insatiable. You are constantly on the move, pursuing quarry gone to ground or members of the group that wronged you, or striving to wipe out every last one of a hated people.

Stealth and intimidation are your favored tools, so improving related skills is key to both your hunt and your survival. Choose feats such as Combat Reflexes and Mobility, or movement skill tricks such as Twisted Charge or Dismount Attack, that allow you to get past obstacles to reach even the best-guarded target.


Most of what you have you took, whether out of necessity or as possessions “reclaimed” from defeated prey. The laws of the world no longer serve you, so you take what you see as yours by right. You don’t seek to harm innocents, but the ignorant and complacent cannot be allowed to impede your mighty work.


“If she didn’t wake up screaming, she wouldn’t wake up at all.”

—Lieutenant Nanci Tomason, discussing an avenging executioner

Avenging executioners fall into a gray (perhaps dark gray) area between heroes and villains. One might slaughter priests of St. Cuthbert because he believes the deity forsook him at a vital moment, while another remorselessly hunts yuan-ti to exact vengeance from the creatures who slaughtered his children. The former could be a fearsome enemy, but the latter might share the same goals as the party and be a formidable ally—at least until he has taken his revenge.


The life of an avenging executioner is often lonely. His single-minded determination sets him on a path few can follow, and he distances himself from those he might care for, realizing that any who share his life also risk sharing his death. Having lost so much, an avenging executioner grows accustomed to the bitter freedom of an outcast.

Loneliness is not the way of all avenging executioners, however. Those who did not face their tragedies alone take up arms with their fellow victims. The survivors of a tribe wiped out by gnolls or of a mercenary party betrayed by its cold-hearted employer might band together for retribution. The most intelligent and cool-headed avenging executioners master their hatred and control their thirst for justice. These individuals see the need for and benefits of companionship just as others do, although they have a more calculating perspective that takes into account who might aid them in their bloody work. Such a mastermind might create an entire organization, turning a thieves’ guild into an army of assassins, a band of barbarians into a berserker horde, or an adventuring company into a lethal strike force.

NPC Reactions

Fear not only empowers an avenging executioner, but also shackles him like a chain. Reports of murders move swiftly through an area as the corpses pile up. Avenging executioners earn frightening appellations, such as Jack-inIrons, the Lantern Man, or the Swan Street Slicer, inspired by their methods or hunting grounds. As the body count increases, so do the rumors grow from murmured warnings to fearsome legends. Few stop to consider whether an avenging executioner might have an agenda beyond wanton slaughter. Fear is never rational, and terrorized bystanders are quick to imagine themselves in the place of the hunted, even if the killer’s victims are related in a way that does not apply to them (such as belonging to a powerful thieves’ guild).

However, exceptions do exist. Those wronged who cannot or will not take matters into their own hands might adopt an avenging executioner as their personal champion. Some in power see avenging executioners as useful vigilantes and might step outside the bounds of their offices to support—or, far less ethically, create—such desperate hunters.


Characters with ranks in Knowledge (local) can research avenging executioners to learn more about them. When a character succeeds on a skill check, the following lore is revealed, including the information from lower DCs.

DC 10: Avenging executioners are serial killers who haunt the alleys and lonely places beneath the surface of society.

DC 15: Avenging executioners make deft use of fear to incapacitate and control those they hunt. They are remorseless and single-minded in their pursuit of prey.

DC 20: While often unhinged, avenging executioners are not random murderers. A great wrong or tragedy leads them to hunt down those they hold responsible. Only those who guard an avenging executioner’s prey or who hinder his pursuit need fear his blade.

DC 30: Characters who achieve this level of success can learn important details about specific avenging executioners in your campaign, including notable individuals currently operating in specific areas, possible reasons for their actions, and theories about their targets.

Avenging executioners are notoriously difficult to find. Some set up trophy-laden hideouts, while others range abroad to track down their prey and might be encountered nearly anywhere. The most likely way to encounter an avenging executioner is to determine the location of his next target and wait there. Even then, attempting conversation might have to wait until after he completes his grisly work, lest the PCs become mere obstacles to be dealt with.


Whether an avenging executioner becomes your campaign’s next villain or a somber addition to the party depends on the targets of his hatred. If the prime antagonist is a nation of cannibal gnolls, a cult of the devil lord Levistus, or a similar evil entity, an avenging executioner could be a PC traumatized by such a group. This driven loner is little different from most druids, rangers, warlocks, or other characters who commonly operate outside society. Thus, integrating a heroic avenging executioner requires only that both he and the party fight the same enemy.

As an antagonist, an avenging executioner can be an ongoing dark legend. His career begins with a single murder, then another, and another, each with the same hallmarks. Perhaps a witness gets a glimpse of the killer. Such a chain of events should interest PCs in the slayings, leading them to learn what connected the victims and figure out who might be next. Their investigations lead them to confront the avenging executioner, either to end the killings or, depending on the nature of his targets, aid in his fearsome hunt.


An avenging executioner can fit into any campaign setting. In worlds where a specific nation or race faces prejudice, some members of that people might fight back as avenging executioners. Campaigns that take place far from the intrigues of the city might see avenging executioners as dark woodland hunters, radical allies of druids and rangers and punishers of those who despoil nature. Another option might have avenging executioners of terrible ability but dull wit adopted by a government or church as secret police, deadly hounds set loose upon the group’s enemies.

Hit Die: d8.


To qualify to become a avenging executioner, a character must fulfill all of the following criteria.

Alignment: Any nongood.

Base Attack Bonus: +5.

Skills: Hide 4 ranks, Intimidate 6 ranks, Move Silently 4 ranks.

Special: Must have been tragically wronged in some manner.

Class Skills

The avenging executioner's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Balance (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Hide (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Open Lock (Dex), Profession (Wis), Spot (Wis), Use Rope (Dex).

Skill Points at Each Level: 6 + Int modifier.

Table: The Avenging Executioner

Level Base
Attack Bonus
1st +0 +0 +2 +2 Bloody blade, sudden strike +1d6
2nd +1 +0 +3 +3 Rapid intimidation
3rd +2 +1 +3 +3 Sudden strike +2d6
4th +3 +1 +4 +4 Dread blade
5th +3 +1 +4 +4 Bloody murder, sudden strike +3d6
Class Features

All of the following are class features of the avenging executioner prestige class.

Hardened and tenacious, you use surprise and dread to weaken the subjects of your hatred.

Bloody Blade (Ex): The fury of your attack is terrifying to see. Whenever you deal sudden strike damage (see below) with a melee weapon, the target of the sudden strike and all opponents within 30 feet of you who can see the target are shaken for a number of rounds equal to your avenging executioner level. A successful Will save (DC 10 + your avenging executioner level + your Cha modifier) negates this effect. Creatures whose HD exceed your character level are not affected. Bloody blade is a mind-affecting fear ability.

Sudden Strike (Ex): If you can catch an opponent when he is unable to defend himself effectively from your attack, you can strike a vital spot for extra damage. See the ninja’s sudden strike class feature in the sidebar below.

Rapid Intimidation (Ex): Beginning at 2nd level, you can attempt to demoralize an opponent as a move action instead of a standard action. See the Intimidate skill (PH 77) for details.

If you have the favored enemy class feature, you can add your favored enemy bonus to Intimidate checks made to demoralize foes of the chosen type (and subtype, if applicable).

Dread Blade (Ex): Starting at 4th level, you can exploit the terror you inspire to further brutalize your target. You treat shaken, frightened, or panicked creatures as flat-footed for the purpose of dealing sudden strike damage.

Bloody Murder (Ex): Starting at 5th level, if you deal enough damage with a melee attack to drop a creature (typically by reducing it to below 0 hit points or killing it), all enemies within 30 feet of you who can see the target become frightened for 1 round. A successful Will save (DC 10 + your avenging executioner level + your Cha modifier) lessens the effect to shaken. Creatures whose HD exceed your character level are not affected. Bloody murder is a mind-affecting fear ability.