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This was long thought to be the only portrait of William Shakespeare that had any claim to have been painted from life.Date 1610, This was long thought to be the only portrait of William Shakespeare that had any claim to have been painted from life.Date 1610,

Ink and Quill

Author Thomas Knauss
Series Dragonwing Games/Bastion Press
Publisher DWBP
Publish date 2002
Pages 65
ISBN none
OGL Section 15 i-q
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Weavers of wondrous tales, the playwrights’ works celebrate her mastery of dialogue and verse. Often courted by nobility, they serve a vital role within the community not only entertaining the citizens, but also teaching the audience poignant lessons about the meaning of life.

Playwrights move about a number of social circles, mingling just as easily with the commoners as with members of the aristocracy. A renowned playwright may find herself in the presence of a king in the morning, but end the evening slumped over a filthy table at the local tavern. A rakish quality surrounds most of them, sometimes captivating their admirers or attracting the anger of envious onlookers. Despite their seemingly uneducated attitude, many possess an extensive knowledge of history and a mastery of their craft only acquired through countless hours of study and schooling. Many playwrights end up accomplished actors as well as writers, because it’s far cheaper to hire yourself to Perform in your plays than it is to hire an actor.

Most playwrights use actual events and people as the basis for their plays. All plays fall into two broad categories, comedies and dramas. Although comedies enjoy popular appeal, dramas are more prevalent. Dramas include sub-categories such as histories, tragedies and morality plays. Kings and noblemen often commission them to write historical plays chronicling the deeds of their ancestors, or in some instances their own accomplishments. While usually historically accurate, authors often embellish the historical facts in favor of their liege or the work’s commissioner, while slighting his enemies. On the other hand, tragedies and morality plays share several similarities. Their purpose is twofold, to instruct and to entertain. The tragedy’s central figure possesses what playwrights refer to as hubris, an excessive form of pride that leads to their inevitable downfall. Despite his fatal flaw, the tragic hero’s inherent humanity evokes the audience’s pity, inspiring them to achieve a state known as catharsis, a profound purging of emotions triggered by the tragic hero’s demise. In contrast, the subject of the morality play does not evoke the same emotional response as the tragic hero. Usually serving a religious purpose, the morality play preaches the perils of a particular vice or belief resulting in the central character’s destruction. Unlike the tragedy, his tragic flaw is an object of loathing rather than sympathy.

The primary character’s flaw also appears in most comedies; however, it serves as a source of ridicule and comic relief. Deluded by his excessive pride, the comic hero fails to realize that he is the butt of the other characters’ jokes and insults. Although he too experiences his comeuppance, it is well deserved and seldom fatal. Still others author scathing satires, lampooning local figures through the use of a literary device called allegory. In an allegory, fictional characters are used to represent something or someone else. Despite their precautions, satirical authors frequently draw the vengeful wrath of the play’s actual subjects, making the Profession a very dangerous one indeed.

bards and rogues comprise the largest percentage of the playwright Profession, while clerics occupy their own small niche. Specializing exclusively in morality plays, clerics present their productions within their temples, espousing their deity’s dogma through entertainment.

Hit Die: d6.


In order to become a playwright, a character must fulfill all of the following criteria.

Race: Any humanoid
Concentration : 4 ranks
Knowledge (history): 4 ranks
Knowledge (literature): 4 ranks
Perform (acting): 4 ranks
Profession (playwright): 7 ranks.
Feats: Quick Draw.
Other: The character must be literate. Although no racial restrictions exist, most playwrights are human.
Class Skills

A playwright’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are: Bluff (Charisma), Concentration (Constitution), Diplomacy (Charisma), Disguise (Charisma), Forgery (Intelligence), Knowledge (history) (Intelligence), Perform (acting) (Charisma), Perform (poetry) (Charisma), Profession (playwright) (Wisdom), Sense Motive (Wisdom), and Spot (Wisdom).

Skill points at each level: 4 + Intelligence modifier.

Class Base Attack Bonus Fort. Ref. Will Special
1st 0 0 +2 +2 Disguise bonus, draft play, masterpiece
2nd +1 0 +3 +3 Staged fight
3rd +2 +1 +3 +3 Skill Focus
4th +3 +1 +4 +4 Find trap doors
5th +3 +1 +4 +4 Recite speech
6th +4 +2 +5 +5 Heroic swing
7th +5 +2 +5 +5 Renown
8th +6 +2 +6 +6 Royal audience
9th +6 +3 +6 +6 Legendary performance
10th +7 +3 +7 +7 Majestic death

Class Features

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Playwrights are proficient with all simple weapons and light armor. They are not proficient with shields.

Disguise Bonus (Ex): Because of his familiarity with theater properties, the playwright receives a +2 competence bonus to all Disguise checks as well as a Disguise kit at 1st level.

Draft Play (Ex): A playwright may create one play every four months. The play does not require her undivided attention; however, any absence greater than two weeks increases the time necessary to write the play by one month or the duration of the absence, whichever is longer. The GM should encourage the player to create a brief story and characters, rewarding the player with a generous circumstance bonus to her Profession (playwright) check. When the play is finished, the player makes a Profession (playwright) check. The play generates income equal to the character’s playwright level multiplied by her Charisma modifier multiplied again by the modified result of her Profession check.

For example, a 1st level playwright with a Charisma of 16 writes her first play. Because the player created a unique plot, the GM gives her a +4 circumstance bonus on her Profession (playwright) check. She rolls a “12” adding the +4 circumstance bonus as well as her normal bonus of +12 yielding a net result of 28. She receives 84 gp for her finished product. [1 (her level) x 3 (her Charisma modifier) x 28 (the modified result of her Profession (playwright) check) = 84].

The playwright must retain a record of all her plays including their titles and the modified Profession (playwright) check result.

Masterpiece (Ex): If the character’s modified Profession (playwright) check equals or exceeds 40, the character has written a masterpiece. Because of the public’s familiarity with the work, she adds an additional bonus to all recite speech, heroic swing, legendary performance and majestic death checks. (The bonuses are described under the ability’s heading.) In addition, the playwright receives a monetary bonus of 100 gp for every masterpiece.

Staged Fight (Ex): Her expertise at staging fights enables her to inflict subdual damage on a melee opponent with a normal weapon without penalty.

Skill Focus (Ex): At 3rd level, the playwright receives the Skill Focus feat at no additional cost. The chosen skill must be one of the playwright’s class skills.

Recite Speech (Su): Once per day, the playwright may recite passages from her most recent play in order to inspire her allies. Activating the ability is a full round action, and it remains in effect for a number of rounds equal to the play’s modified Profession (playwright) check divided by five. She must continue to recite lines for the ability’s duration, hence another action requiring verbal components ends the effect, including casting spells, activating magical items with a command word, and shouting orders. While in effect, the playwright and any allies able to hear her receive a +1 morale bonus to attack and damage rolls as well as a +1 resistance bonus to saving throws. If her most recent play is a masterpiece, all bonuses from this ability are increased to +2.

Heroic Swing (Su): At 6th level, the playwright may add an insight bonus equal to her ranks in Profession (playwright) to her next attack roll. Using this ability is a standard action requiring her to recite a famous line from one of her plays. If her last play was a masterpiece, she adds her playwright levels to the damage. This ability may be used a number of times per day equal to her Charisma modifier.

Renown (Ex): The playwright’s fame precedes her, giving her a +2 competence bonus to all skill checks with Charisma as the key modifier.

Royal Audience (Ex): At 8th level, the playwright receives invitations to all royal functions in the kingdom where she resides. Furthermore, the nobility commissions all of her future plays, doubling all income generated from the sale of her works.

Legendary Performance (Su): As a free action, the playwright assumes the role of the hero or heroine from her last play. Her Strength, Wisdom and Charisma improve by +4 for a number of rounds equal to her modified Profession result for her last play divided by five. If her last play was a masterpiece, her attribute scores increase by +6, instead of +4. The ability may be used once per day.

Majestic Death (Su): Prior to dying in combat, the playwright recites the lines from her most famous death scene. Moved by the tragedy, any allies in earshot of the fallen playwright receive a +2 morale bonus to all attack and damage rolls as well as gaining a +4 morale bonus to all saving throws against fear. If her last play was a masterpiece, their morale bonus increases from +2 to +3. The ability remains in effect for the duration of the combat.


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