Prestige Classes


"It is said that the lich knows every stone in his infernal hold, and that any who dare to enter provoke his wrath. He can stroll through traps that would crush any other, and glide through the darkness while calling out doom. That dungeon is his domain, his home, and there is no way to defeat him in its halls."

-From the tale of Virdangast, dungeon lord

Some creatures become so familiar with their home that they can navigate it with their eyes closed and are attuned to the smallest change. Intruders tread on dangerous ground, facing a foe with a significant edge. When the home is a dungeon, the result is a dungeon lord. Undisputed masters of their environment; dungeon lords possess a supernatural awareness of their home and a fierce desire to crush those who dare to invade it.


Although the entry requirements for the dungeon lord prestige class are relatively simple, aspirants must have complete familiarity with one entire, specific dungeon environment. This requirement excludes most adventurers from the class and opens it up to creatures that actually live in the dungeon. Although the abilities of a dungeon lord do not add to a creature's spellcasting progression or other typical class features, they grant impressive powers in relation to dungeons, making this prestige class ideal for a number of monsters.


You are the master of your domain, and you know it. The dungeon is your sanctuary, your home, and those who dare to intrude upon it without your permission are despoilers, bent upon theft and murder. While within your dungeon, you are at the height of confidence, bordering on arrogance, for none can hope to defeat you. That does not mean, however, that you should underestimate intruders. They bring tools that are tailored to your destruction. When the time is right, you must act swiftly and decisively. Until such time, conceal your plans.

Outside your dungeon, you are nervous and uneasy. The external world is foreign to you and beyond your control. That makes you vulnerable, and you should strive to return to familiar territory as quickly as possible.


In combat, use your abilities and the tools around you wisely. Since you control the environment, use it to your advantage. Plan for a fight in nearly every chamber and develop a strategy for any possibility. Place traps, tools, and weapons where they will have the most effect. Take advantage of your mobility in darkness and through difficult terrain. If you have minions, make sure that their environment suits their abilities and minimizes their weaknesses. If you must make a final stand, do it in an area that has been customized to enhance your strengths.

Do not be afraid to retreat if a battle turns against you. Your opponents might score small victories, but you can outlast them. Perhaps you appear to cede ground to your enemies only to lure them into greater danger.

Always spy on your foes to determine their powers and abilities. Prey upon their confidence and use your knowledge about their tactics to your advantage. Nullify their strengths, and you will make quick work of them. At the height of your power, during a confrontation deep within the dungeon, focus your minions and animated objects on the opponent who poses the greatest threat. This ploy gives you ample time to deal with the remaining intruders.


The dungeon lord prestige class does little to advance your other abilities, so to increase your power, take levels in other classes. Most dungeon lords turn to spellcasting and take levels in the cleric, sorcerer, or wizard classes. They offer versatility and allow you to summon allies, conjure obstacles, and alter the landscape of the dungeon to confound intruders.

Other options include classes that enhance your combat abilities. These are useful for deterring intruders, but they put you in a considerable amount of danger. Instead, once you have the Leadership feat, add minions to your dungeon, along with a cohort to lead them and to orchestrate defense.


Expect no assistance of any kind from other dungeon lords. In fact, they might seek to harm your cause if they view you as a threat or covet your dungeon. The only resources you can count on are those in your dungeon. All the creatures, magic items, and traps in it are at your disposal.


"I'm telling you, we are being watched. The fiend seems to know our every move. He's ready for us at every turn."

-Regdar, dungeon intruder

Dungeon lords make excellent masters of nearly any subterranean redoubt. They know everything that transpires in their environment and can use that knowledge to great advantage. Gloating and overconfident, these masterminds are best used as recurring menaces. As the PCs descend from level to level, they might encounter a dungeon's lord now and again, but the final showdown should occur in the climactic battle, when the master has no other choice. And of course, the dungeon lord has prepared a special battlefield that plays to his many strengths.

Dungeon lords need not be of evil alignment. A gold dragon dungeon lord, for example, might use its power to protect its lair and would be happy to lend some of its knowledge to adventurers who help it drive out a threat.

The daily life of a dungeon lord is as varied as those who take up the class. For most, the day (or specified period, as there are few clocks underground) begins with a tour of the dungeon to ensure that no one has disturbed any careful preparations or set off any traps. Especially paranoid dungeon lords might perform this check several times a day. The tour is followed by time spent increasing defenses or modifying chambers to better suit their needs. Otherwise, most dungeon lords keep busy honing their skills, such as crafting magic items, researching new spells, and training (or creating) minions.

Some dungeon lords, especially undead, spend long periods of time motionless, sitting on an ancient throne or sleeping in a sarcophagus. These eternal guardians mimic the rest that they are forever denied. But they can remain inactive only if the entire dungeon is sealed and there is little other work to be done.


No formal organization of dungeon lords exists. The only exception occurs when several dungeon lords band together to control a particularly large multilevel dungeon. These individual leaders often pay homage to a master who controls the largest, grandest, or deepest layer of the dungeon. Together, they form a council, meeting only when the need is greatest. Distrusting one another but unable to leave the dungeon, they are forced to cooperate to some small degree.

NPC Reactions

All residents of a dungeon treat the dungeon lord with the utmost respect and reverence. Those who fail to do so quickly find themselves expelled or worse. Servants show their respect through groveling, strict obedience, and a zealous work ethic. This deference extends to those in the dungeon lord's favor. Angering the master's lieutenant can carry as dire a consequence as angering the lord himself.

Few outside the dungeon lord's realm know of his existence, and in most cases, that is how he likes it. To the majority of townsfolk, the dungeon lord is just a tale told to make children eat their vegetables.


Characters who have the bardic knowledge ability or ranks in Knowledge (dungeoneering) can research dungeon lords to learn more about them. When a character succeeds on a skill check, the following lore is revealed, including the information from lower DCs. Lore about a specific dungeon lord can be learned only with a Knowledge check appropriate to that type of creature (such as Knowledge [the planes] for an outsider).

DC 10: Some creatures dwell in a dungeon for so long that they become intimately familiar with all its details. These creatures are known as dungeon lords.

DC 15: Dungeon lords are masters of their environment. Their strong connection to their dungeons allows them to know when anything is out of place.

DC 20: Powerful dungeon lords can sense intruders and turn the dungeon to attack them. Outside the dungeon, though, their abilities are greatly diminished.

DC 25: A dungeon lord can move about its lair at will and spy on intruders. Reckless explorers should prepare to face a mighty foe who knows everything about them and can strike at any time.


You can bring a dungeon lord into your game as part of the standard dungeon design process. Because the prestige class is well suited to NPCs, it gives you a great deal of flexibility when running an encounter with an evil mastermind who works behind the scenes to thwart the characters.

However, a dungeon lord is not a skilled combatant or spellcaster, so any creature that takes this prestige class should already have considerable powers. Much of a dungeon lord's strength comes from its preparation and planning. For example, a vampire wizard might spy on the PCs and learn that the rogue can evade area-effect spells. As a result, the cunning master prepares a hold person spell for that particular threat.


Although the focus of this prestige class is the dungeon environment, it could be adapted to any other contained lair or outpost, which need not be evil in nature. A king's captain who has levels in this class can watch the castle (his environment) carefully for intruders to protect the monarch. A silver dragon might treat sacred ruins as its dungeon, using its power to watch over the dead and guard an ancient weapon that might one day be needed again.

Sample Encounter

While exploring a dungeon, the PCs should become aware of the terror waiting for them through encounters with its cruel minions and clever traps. They might even confront the dungeon lord once or twice as it tests their strength and taunts them before retreating. But the final encounter with the dungeon lord should be the culmination of the adventure, a last, desperate battle to root out the evil that infests the subterranean fortress.

EL 10: The mind flayer dungeon lord Ixxiata (LE mind flayer dungeon lord 3) resides deep within a lair of his own design that is riddled with cunning traps and powerful minions. From far below the city streets, the mind flayer uses dominated minions to stay apprised of events in the surface world and to manipulate them in his favor. Those who enter his dungeon face a host of dominated grimlock thralls, a pack of trained gricks, a variety of deadly traps, and, of course, a furious mind flayer.

Ixxiata has the Leadership feat and an effective leadership score of 15 (16 base, +2 for stronghold, -1 for aloof, -2 for cruelty). He has recently attracted the services of Shimmer, a particularly devious displacer beast. All his followers are grimlock thralls that maintain and protect his lair.

Hit Die: d8.


To qualify to become a dungeon lord, a character must fulfill all of the following criteria.

Base Attack Bonus: +5.

Special: Intelligence 10 or higher.

Special: Ability to cast spells, or any spell-like or supernatural ability.

Special: Complete familiarity with the chosen dungeon environment and knowledge of the contents of every chamber (including other inhabitants, doors, traps, hidden objects, and all magical and mechanical effects).

Special: Must be an aberration, dragon, fey, magical beast, monstrous humanoid, outsider, or undead. Alternatively, humanoids of the goblinoid and kobold subtype can enter this class.

Class Skills

The dungeon lord's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Disable Device (Int), Hide (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge (architecture and engineering) (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Open Lock (Dex), Search (Int), Spot (Wis), Swim (Str), and Use Rope (Dex).

Skill Points at Each Level: 2 + Int modifier.

Table: The Dungeon Lord

Level Base
1st +0 +0 +2 +2 Dungeon mastery, horde lord +1
2nd +1 +0 +3 +3 Dungeon step
3rd +2 +1 +3 +3 Complete awareness, dungeon minions
4th +3 +1 +4 +4 Animate objects
5th +3 +1 +4 +4 Dungeon defender, horde lord +2, Leadership
Class Features

A dungeon lord's abilities depend on the specific dungeon environment, which must have a clearly defined area (such as an entire dungeon complex or one particularly large level). You can be familiar with only one dungeon at a time. If you are forced to leave your dungeon, none of the class abilities provided by this prestige class will function. Should you be driven out of your dungeon permanently, you can designate another. Typically, the level of familiarity needed requires at least two months of study and exploration, but it can take much longer, at the DM's discretion.

All of the following are class features of the dungeon lord prestige class.

Dungeon Mastery (Ex): Your familiarity with the dungeon is so complete that you know its entire layout by memory. While inside your dungeon, you can move at normal speed when unable to see and when crossing difficult terrain. You can move through any trap in the dungeon without triggering it, unless you choose to set it off. You automatically notice any difference to any chamber in your dungeon (such as a chair that is out of place, a bookshelf that has been reorganized, or an area of dust that has been disturbed). You also receive a +8 bonus on Survival checks made to track creatures in your dungeon.

In addition, you can open or close any door or secret door in your dungeon as a free action.

Horde Lord (Ex): You share your knowledge of the dungeon with the minions you command. Your allies gain a +1 bonus on attack rolls and damage rolls while you live and they are within the dungeon. When you attain 5th level, the bonus increases to +2.

Dungeon Step (Su): At 2nd level, you gain the ability to use dimension door to travel to any location in your dungeon. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to your Intelligence modifier (minimum 1). You cannot take others with you when you use this ability. Your caster level for this effect is equal to your Hit Dice.

Complete Awareness (Su): At 3rd level, you gain complete awareness of your dungeon. You can use clairvoyance/clairaudience at will to view any chamber in the dungeon. In addition, you receive a mental alarm, as the alarm spell, whenever anyone enters the dungeon. This alarm tells you the location at which the intruder entered, but it gives no other details. Your caster level for these effects is equal to your Hit Dice.

Dungeon Minions (Ex): At 3rd level, you share your mastery of the dungeon with your allies. They can open and close doors and secret doors in the dungeon as free actions. They ignore difficult terrain within the dungeon that is caused by persistent, enduring features, such as rubble, cracks in the floor, and so forth. A newly introduced obstacle, such as an overturned cartload of apples, does not fall into this category.

Animate Objects (Sp): Beginning at 4th level, you can cause the dungeon itself to rise up against intruders. Once per day, you can cast animate objects on any object in the dungeon. Your caster level for this effect is equal to your Hit Dice.

Dungeon Defender (Ex): At 5th level, you become the unquestioned master of your dungeon. You defend it with the righteous fury of one whose cherished home is threatened. When you face intruders within your dungeon, you gain immunity to fear effects, and you gain a +2 morale bonus on attack rolls, damage rolls, saving throws, and checks. In addition, the DC of the save against any spell, spell-like ability, or supernatural ability you use increases by 1.

Leadership: At 5th level, you gain Leadership as a bonus feat. If you already have the feat, you gain a +4 bonus to your Leadership score.