Prestige Classes


“Don’t worry. I’ll see that the package is delivered unharmed. Well . . . mostly unharmed.”

—Geddrik the Whip

In the fantasy world as well as the real world, the reach of the law sometimes isn’t enough. When a criminal is on the loose, or a prisoner has escaped, professional bounty hunters offer their services to bring in the fugitive. Additionally, in some urban fantasy settings, the slave trade is just an accepted fact of life. And just as a rancher sends herders after stray cattle, so too must a slaver hire specialists to track down and recover lost or escaped slaves.

Whether they are independent crime-fighters assisting the law or grim mercenaries who hunt living property, such trained specialists are called crimson scourges. These fearsome trackers are known not only for their efficiency, but for their zealous commitment to the task at hand. Crimson scourges are dedicated—at least to the handsome sums they earn.


The crimson scourge is a tough and efficient tracker who specializes in dealing painful but ultimately nonlethal wounds. Scourges hail almost exclusively from the ranks of barbarians, fighters, and rangers, though the occasional dedicated warrior might join their ranks as well. Druids can qualify almost as quickly, but most find a scourge’s work distasteful or unfulfilling. All other classes either cannot meet the alignment and/or skill requirements, or must reach higher levels before qualifying to become a crimson scourge.


You are an unusual creature: someone capable of being stealthy and subtle, but who rarely needs to be. People like you aren’t called “crimson scourges” for nothing. Your very existence serves as a deterrent against escape. If you are neutral-aligned, you likely don’t deserve much of what’s said about you, but it’s against your financial interests to set the record straight. If you’re evil, it’s probably all true.

Your relationship with your employer is the most important thing for you. Whether or not your loyalty is genuine, without the safety of your patron, your numerous enemies would not hesitate to pounce. You prefer to work alone, but sometimes scourges are hired in pairs—nominally for their safety, but mainly to keep tabs on a suspect hunter.


Crimson scourges never shy away from combat, and more often than not they will instigate a fight just to prove a point. Most of your skills revolve around tracking and disarming (and often humiliating) a single individual. You’re not terribly effective in fights involving multiple foes, so bravado is a large part of your combat ability: If you can intimidate your opponent into backing down, you’ve won without striking a single blow. If melee is inevitable, focus on making the most of your abilities. Strike at unarmed assailants first, to try to take them out of combat quickly, and then move to disarming those who carry weapons so you can do the same to them.


Unless you are in business for yourself, your advancement potential relies heavily upon a slavers guild or patron organization. The more successful you are at what you do, the more rapidly you’ll advance. Sometimes an employer or guild sends scourges out in pairs—one junior tracker and one veteran. Although true friendship between them rarely blooms, the elder usually ends up taking on the role of mentor.

You were already a competent tracker before becoming a true scourge, but you should continue to make hunting skills a priority when the time for skill point allotment arrives. Before a single blow is landed, your strongest advantages in combat are your reputation and your perceived ability to back up that reputation. Make sure that Intimidate is as high a priority as Gather Information. Focus your feat selection on developing tricks of the trade, such as Improved Disarm, Improved Grapple, Improved Initiative, Improved Overrun, Im proved Trip, and Improved Sunder.


Depending on its size and public persona, a slavers guild usually funds its scourges’ retrieval efforts . . . provided it has concrete information on where a target has gone, and it has a good idea of what the operation will cost. If you’re a member of the guild and possess the Favored feat, then you’re entitled to such aid should you ask for it. If you are in the employ of a wealthy patron, you can receive some compensation for your expenses, especially if you have performed satisfactory work for that employer before.

Your work often takes you into areas with no guild presence or where slavers are reviled (if you are a hunter of slaves), or into the underworld (if you pursue criminals). In those environments, you’re on your own. For this reason, be sure to fix the terms of employment before venturing out after a quarry.


“They provide a necessary service, of course. But I do wish they could be a bit more . . . discreet.”

—Lord Beaumond Richhierre, second-tier magistrate

Crimson scourges are suitable for almost any city. They can appear in areas with little to no slave trade, focusing entirely on escaped criminals, or be in the employ of slavers guilds but hunting in areas where escaped slaves have fled. On occasion, a slavers guild sends a pair of scourges into a town where the trade hasn’t yet blossomed. The scourges quietly investigate factors such as the rich–poor divide, the socioeconomic dynamic, and the attitude of the ruling class toward indentured servitude, evaluating the potential for a new market.


Crimson scourges have little organization unto themselves. Aside from the mentor–student relationship that develops between pairs, they neither want nor need additional complication in their lives. The only structure that the scourges recognize is an informal system of rank, based upon a combination of achievement and reputation. The more successful the scourge, and the more fearsome his reputation, the more respect he gains from his peers. Nonevil scourges also depend on successful retrievals but value independence far more than ferocity; A scourge who can dictate his own terms earns more respect in the eyes of his peers than one known only for intimidating his quarry.

Daily life for the average scourge consists of countless hours of training and waiting, interspersed with frenetic bouts of activity. Scourges have to keep themselves sharp, but unless they’re on active assignment, they have little to do but wait. For this reason, crimson scourges often take assignments as bodyguards or enforcers, serving either the guild or independent parties. In some cases, a scourge is retained permanently, which provides him or her a steady stream of work. Non-evil scourges tend to refuse exclusivity arrangements. Only by committing to a job and then leaving immediately upon success can such scourges maintain their objectivity and independence.

NPC Reactions

By their very nature, scourges elicit fear and unfriendly suspicion from those they meet. Other people might still be helpful to a scourge, but out of fear rather than admiration or respect. Only slavers react to them more favorably than unfriendly, and even they are usually indifferent.


Characters with ranks in Knowledge (local) or bardic knowledge can research crimson scourges to learn more about them. When a character makes a successful skill check, the following lore is revealed, including the information from lower DCs.

DC 10: Slavers guilds and city watches sometimes use fearsome trackers to hunt down fugitive criminals and escaped slaves.

DC 15: These so-called crimson scourges are highly skilled not only in hunting their quarry but in causing pain without dealing lethal injury. They are known for their callousness.

DC 20: Crimson scourges have a talent for dealing massive amounts of pain to unarmed opponents, and for disarming opponents who might otherwise provide a threat. The best of them feel no pain at all.


The crimson scourge fills a specific enough niche that a DM can easily work the class into a campaign under the assumption that the PCs have simply never heard of the scourges before (especially if none of the PCs have ever been in an area with a slavers guild).

Players who enjoy search-and-recover adventures, as well as those who embrace the challenge of a morally complex character, might be drawn to the crimson scourge class. As an NPC, a scourge makes an excellent adversary, whether encountered on the trail of a PC who is an escaped slave, or as a threat to an acquaintance or relative of a party member.


The crimson scourge is suitable for just about any urban campaign setting. Even if your setting features no slavers guild, slaves probably exist somewhere. And as long as there are fugitives, whether criminals on the run or missing property, there will always be crimson scourges to bring them in. In a setting without slaves, the class might be associated with a variant organization, such as a thieves or assassins guild. Scourges might even form the retrieval arm of a cult that endorses slavery, in which case every scourge would be a member of the cult.

Hit Die: d10.


To qualify to become a crimson scourge, a character must fulfill all of the following criteria.

Alignment: Any nongood.

Base Attack Bonus: +4.

Base Fort Save: +3.

Skills: Gather Information 4 ranks, Handle Animal 8 ranks, Heal 1 rank, Intimidate 3 ranks.

Feats: Urban Tracking (see page 64).

Class Skills

The crimson scourge's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Balance (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (trapmaking) (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disable Device (Int), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Gather Information (Cha), Handle Animal (Cha), Hide (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge (local) (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Ride (Dex), Search (Int), Sense Motive (Wis), Spot (Wis), Survival (Wis), Swim (Str), Use Rope (Dex).

Skill Points at Each Level: 6 + Int modifier.

Table: The Crimson Scourge

Level Base
Attack Bonus
1st +1 +2 +2 +0 Kid gloves, special dispensation
2nd +2 +3 +3 +0 Swift tracker
3rd +3 +3 +3 +1 Painful strike +1d6
4th +4 +4 +4 +1 Immovable heart
5th +5 +4 +4 +1 Improved disarm
6th +6 +5 +5 +2 Painful strike +2d6
7th +7 +5 +5 +2 Threaten
8th +8 +6 +6 +2 Deadened hide
9th +9 +6 +6 +3 Painful strike +3d6
10th +10 +7 +7 +3 Smell of blood
Class Features

All of the following are class features of the crimson scourge prestige class.

A crimson scourge gains abilities that help him track down and subdue sentient beings. He develops these abilities as he gains levels in his class, and in the process grows increasingly difficult to dissuade from his objectives. While a crimson scourge is capable of using deceit to recover his quarry—and is trained in disguising his appearance should the need arise—he prefers instead to trade on his fearsome reputation, “encouraging” locals to cooperate with him. By the time a scourge masters his class, he has become a coldly efficient tracker of human prey.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: You are proficient with all simple and martial weapons, light and medium armor, and shields (but not tower shields). In addition, you can select one of the following as a free weapon proficiency: bolas, net, or whip.

Kid Gloves (Ex): Crimson scourges excel at manipulating the wounds they inflict, causing more or less harm as the situation demands. If you choose, you can deal nonlethal damage with weapons that normally deal lethal damage, or lethal damage with weapons that normally deal nonlethal damage—both without taking the usual –4 penalty on the attack roll.

Special Dispensation: Crimson scourges do not operate in secrecy unless they have to, so their patrons provide them the freedom to perform their duties. While operating in any area where bounty hunting is acceptable, a slavers guild has any presence, or you enjoy the patronage of an influential figure, you gain the benefit of the Special Dispensation feat (see page 63), even if you do not meet the prerequisites.

Swift Tracker (Ex): Starting at 2nd level, you can make a Gather Information check when using Urban Tracking every half-hour without taking the usual –5 penalty.

Painful Strike (Ex): At 3rd level, you gain the ability to deal an extra 1d6 points of nonlethal damage when making a melee attack that deals nonlethal damage against an unarmed opponent. This ability does not function if the opponent has a weapon of any sort in either hand, or if your attack deals lethal damage. Unarmed foes with the Improved Unarmed Strike feat are still considered unarmed. This ability never applies to ranged attacks, regardless of the target’s proximity to you. If you score a critical hit with the melee attack, the extra damage from this ability is not multiplied. This extra damage increases to 2d6 points at 6th level, and to 3d6 at 9th level. Creatures not subject to nonlethal damage, as well as constructs, oozes, plants, and incorporeal creatures, are not affected by this ability.

Immovable Heart (Ex): Your grim profession hardens your emotions. Beginning at 4th level, you gain a +2 competence bonus to resist enchantment spells and fear effects.

Improved Disarm: At 5th level, you gain Improved Disarm as a bonus feat, even if you do not meet the prerequisites.

Threaten (Ex): Crimson scourges of at least 7th level are masters at shaking the confidence of their foes. This ability grants three advantages when you use the Intimidate skill to demoralize an opponent (PH 76). First, you can attempt to demoralize an opponent as a move action, rather than a standard action. Second, a successful attempt causes the target to be shaken for a number of rounds equal to your unmodified Strength modifier (minimum 1 round). Finally, you gain a +2 bonus on any Intimidate check to demoralize an opponent.

Deadened Hide (Ex): Upon reaching 8th level, you become immune to nonlethal damage and to spells or effects that inflict or manipulate pain (DM’s discretion).

Smell of Blood (Ex): At the apex of your advancement, you acquire an almost animalistic awareness of the world around you. You gain the scent ability (MM 314) and a +3 insight bonus on initiative checks.