Though the stories clearly paint the realm of Hades as not meant for living beings, Hadean Striders dare to cross the Styx and walk among the dead all the same.
Relics & Rituals: Olympus
© 2004 White Wolf Publishing, Inc. Distributed for Sword and Sorcery Studios by White Wolf Publishing, Inc.
By W. Jason Peck, Aaron Rosenberg, Christina Stiles and Relics & Rituals: Olympus team
Most never repeat the experience, even if they manage to find their way back to the sunlit lands in the first place. But a few, driven perhaps by lost love or faint nihilism, return to the Underworld again and again. Those who learn the secrets of the journey and spend enough time in Hades’ bleak kingdom become… altered by the experience, not as alive as they once were, but not yet dead either. These are the Hadean striders, those who walk between life and death.
The Hadean striders are not an organization; they do not seek each other out for mutual company or to share their lore. Becoming a Hadean strider is a solitary path, which entails walking the dark paths of the Underworld until such time as the spectral energies begin to change both body and soul. Some who become Hadean striders do so out of love or filial piety. Unwilling to say farewell to a lost loved one, they return to the Underworld again and again with sacrifices of sheep’s blood, spending time with the beloved ghost in the only way that Hades will permit. Others learn the paths as a means to seeking power, although they gain a different power than perhaps they expected. Still others descend to the Underworld for reasons they cannot explain – they come and linger because they must, because life has nothing comparable to offer. In the course of their travels to the gloomy realm of Hades, these men and women learn much from the tortured shades of those who offended the gods, from the guardians of the Underworld, and even from simply observing the ‘natural’ laws of the realm.
Characters from any class may take levels of Hadean strider; the tragic desire to fly in the face of the life cycle is not limited to any one group of people. That said, the Hadean strider is most appropriate for multiclassed characters – surviving a trip to Hades is a difficult task that requires a well-rounded set of skills.
As NPCs, Hadean striders are reclusive and rare, almost never congregating in the same place. Some serve as guides to the Underworld, although they must usually be convinced that the need is dire – daring to slip past Cerberus is not a venture to be undertaken lightly.
Hit Die: d8.
To qualify to become a Hadean strider, a character must fulfill all the following criteria.
Skills: Knowledge (mythology) 7 ranks, Concentration 7 ranks, Move Silently 5 ranks.
Base Willpower Save: +3
Special: The character must possess a suitable reason to travel to Hades, and must make a successful attempt.
|Level||Base Attack Bonus||Fort Save||Ref Save||Will Save||Special|
|1st||+0||+2||+0||+2||Darkvision, lore of the dead, shadewalker|
|3rd||+2||+3||+1||+3||Lore of Acheron|
|4th||+3||+4||+1||+4||Lore of Tantalus|
|5th||+3||+4||+1||+4||Lore of Sisyphus|
|6th||+4||+5||+2||+5||Lore of Phlegethon|
|7th||+5||+5||+2||+5||Lore of Cerberus|
|8th||+6||+6||+2||+6||Lore of Ixion|
|9th||+6||+6||+3||+6||Lore of Cocytus|
|10th||+7||+7||+3||+7||Lore of Lethe|
The Hadean strider class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Climb (Strength), Hide (Dexterity), Intimidate (Charisma), Move Silently (Dexterity), Survival (Wisdom), Swim (Strength) plus any two (see lore of the dead, below)
Skill Points at Each Level: 4 + Intelligence modifier.
All of the following are features of the Hadean strider prestige class.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: The Hadean strider is proficient with simple and martial weapons.
Shadewalker (Ex): Repeated exposure to the spirits of the dead grants the Hadean strider a greater knowledge of how to deal with the dead, or how to avoid their notice. A Hadean strider receives a +2 circumstance bonus to all Bluff, Diplomacy, Hide, Move Silently, and Sense Motive checks used against undead.
Lore of the Dead: By speaking with the souls of those who have passed, the strider is able to learn secrets of the living. When he takes his first level in Hadean strider, the character may select any two skills and make them class skills for the Hadean strider class.
Darkvision (Ex): The perpetual gloom of the Underworld affects the vision of the Hadean strider. The character is able to see in utter darkness out to a distance of 120 feet. Darkvision is black and white only, but otherwise just like normal sight. However, as a side effect of this alteration, the Hadean strider becomes unable to distinguish color (save as various grays of differing brightness and hue) even under normal lighting conditions; the gloom of Hades has leeched the color from his vision. The Hadean strider’s irises become colorless as well, usually black or some shade of gray, but sometimes a pale white.
Fear Immunity (Ex): At 2nd level, the Hadean strider becomes immune to all fear effects. The sights of the Underworld have inured him to whatever terrors the living world has to offer.
Lore of Acheron (Su): Acheron, the river of woe, is the domain of Charon, the ferryman of the dead. Beginning at 3rd level, the Hadean strider gains SR equal to 10 + his class level against necromancy spells.
Lore of Tantalus (Ex): At 4th level, the Hadean strider no longer has any need of food or drink; he cannot die of thirst or starvation. The perpetual torture of the shade of Tantalus has taught him how to subsist without nourishment.
Lore of Sisyphus (Su): At 5th level, the Hadean strider may perform a feat of Strength as a free action. The character gains an enhancement bonus to Strength equal to twice his class level; this bonus lasts for one round. The Hadean strider may use this ability a number of times per day equal to 1 + his Charisma modifier. The strider has learned much from observing the futile struggle of the shade of Sisyphus.
Lore of Phlegethon (Sp): At 6th level, the Hadean strider may immolate one of his weapons, as if he had dipped it in the burning waters of the river Phlegethon. This requires
a move action; the weapon gains the flaming burst quality for one round per class level. The Hadean strider may use this power a number of times per day equal to 1 + his Charisma modifier.
Lore of Cerberus (Ex): At 7th level, the Hadean strider has learned a measure of extra vigilance from the watchdog of Hades. The Hadean strider can no longer be flanked under any circumstances. This prevents rogues from being able to sneak attack the Hadean strider via flanking, even if their levels outstrip the character’s class level by four or more. In addition, the Hadean strider gains a +4 insight bonus on Spot and Listen checks.
Lore of Ixion (Su): At 8th level, the Hadean strider gains fire resistance 30. He has learned to endure fires as hot as that of the burning wheel that tortures the shade of Ixion.
Lore of Cocytus (Ex): Cocytus, the river of lamentation, is the river along whose banks the unburied dead wander. The Hadean strider learns much of the hungry dead, and how to resist their powers, from walking the banks of the Cocytus. At 9th level, the Hadean strider has a 25% chance to ignore any negative levels inflicted on him; this chance is rolled per negative level, not per attack. In addition, the Hadean strider gains a +4 insight bonus to any saving throws made to resist ability damage from necromantic or undead sources, or to shrug off negative energy levels inflicted by a necromancy spell or undead creature.
Lore of Lethe (Su): At 10th level, the Hadean strider can draw on the power of the river of forgetfulness to wash away not only an opponent’s memories, but her very self. Once per day, the Hadean strider may make a melee touch attack as a standard action. If successful, the target must make a Will save against a DC of 18 + the Hadean strider’s Charisma modifier, or be affected as if by a feeblemind spell.