Musical Composer

To Medieval Classes


Portrait Ludwig van Beethoven when composing the Missa Solemnis Year 1820

Portrait Ludwig van Beethoven when composing the Missa Solemnis Year 1820

Ink & 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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Expressing profound thought and stirring emotion through sound rather than word, musical composers captivate all strata of society with their haunting melodies and inspiring overtures. Whether composing somber church music or rousing military ballads, wealthy patrons, royal courts and powerful clergymen handsomely compensate them for their musical compositions. In addition to their creative ability, all musical composers are accomplished musicians, masters of a specific Musical instrument or song.

Musical composers naturally congregate in society’s wealthier circles where cultured patrons eagerly seek their services. As a result, musical composers almost exclusively reside in large, cosmopolitan cities, royal courts or rural estates, rather than small towns and farms. Although some of their ranks subsist as freelance composers, the majority obtain permanent employment with a variety of patrons. Court composer clearly remains the most coveted position among all musicians, hotly contested by the kingdom’s most celebrated artists. Once secured, the court composer usually maintains her position for the remainder of the monarch’s reign, assuring her of a lucrative income as well as copious amounts of fame. Despite the apparent security, numerous intrigues hatched by scores of jealous rivals often threaten to strip her of her lofty title and sometimes, her life. In addition to her musical abilities, the court composer frequently utilizes her diplomatic abilities to stave off any potential challengers. Although far less prestigious, many settle into a safer role as commissioned employee, producing work for a single patron.

While generally similar, the types of music vary tremendously depending upon the benefactor’s specific needs or taste. For instance, a composer in the employ of a church specializes in religious hymns; short, relatively simple musical pieces exalting the deity’s dogmas or pleading for its mercy. On the other hand, the employee of a wealthy landowner experiments with different styles of music ranging from the lengthy and complex symphony to a brief, but chilling sonata.

In the most sophisticated societies, a growing number of elite musicians engage in a burgeoning musical form known as opera. Opera is essentially a musical play, where dialogue is sung rather than spoken by the actors. Because of its elaborate scenery and costumes, production costs prove exorbitantly expensive, restricting its appearance to only a few exceptionally wealthy and enlightened civilizations.

As a source of supplementary income, a large percentage of musical composers tutor as many as ten pupils per week. Instructing the children of noble families solidifies the bonds between the employee and his elite circle of admirers in addition to its monetary rewards. The average fee for a one-hour lesson is two silver pieces, however renowned instructors often command rates as high as five gold pieces per hour.

Bards dominate the ranks of musical composers followed by clerics, wizards and a handful of druids. Obviously, clerics produce religious hymns, while druids specialize in the use of woodland instruments such as the flute and pipes. Wizards gravitate toward the more intricate and complicated musical forms such as opera and concertos.

Hit Die: d6


To qualify to become a musical composer, a character must fulfill all of the following criteria.

Race: Any humanoid
Base Attack Bonus: +3
Concentration: 4 ranks
Knowledge (music): 4 ranks
Knowledge (nobility and royalty): 3 ranks
Listen: 2 ranks
Perform (any instrument or song): 6 ranks
Profession (musician): 5 ranks
Other: The character must be literate.

Class Skills

The musical composer’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Concentration (Constitution), Diplomacy (Charisma), Knowledge (any) (Intelligence), Listen (Wisdom), Perform (any) (Charisma), Profession (musician) (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 +0 +2 Draft Musical Composition, Masterpiece, Spells
2nd +1 +0 +0 +3 Sonic Resistance
3rd +2 +1 +1 +3 Soothe Emotions
4th +3 +1 +1 +4 Identify Musical instrument
5th +3 +1 +1 +4 Battle Hymn
6th +4 +2 +2 +5 Renown
7th +5 +2 +2 +5 Dirge
8th +6 +2 +2 +6 Royal Audience
9th +6 +3 +3 +6 Blare
10th +7 +3 +3 +7 Court Composer

Class Abilities

Draft Musical Composition (Ex): A composer may a variety of different musical forms in the following lengths of time.

Ballad, hymn, overture = one month
Concerto or symphony = three months
Opera = six months

The piece does not require her undivided attention; however, any absence greater than two weeks increases the time necessary to write the production by one month or the duration of the absence, whichever is longer. The GM should encourage the player to create a title and brief melody, rewarding the player with a generous circumstance bonus to her Profession (musician) check. When the work is finished, the player makes a Profession (musician) check. The musical piece generates income equal to the months spent composing the work multiplied by her musical composer level multiplied by her Charisma modifier multiplied again by the modified result of her Profession check. However, compositions with scribe a modified result less than twenty generate no income. For example, a 1st level musical composer with a Charisma of 16 writes her first symphony. Because the player created a unique title and catchy melody, the GM gives her a +4 circumstance bonus on her Profession (musician) check. She rolls a “12” adding the +4 circumstance bonus as well as her normal bonus of +8 yielding a net result of 24. She receives 216 gp for her finished product. [3 (the months spent writing the work) x 1 (her level) x 3 (her Charisma modifier) x 24 (the
modified result of her Profession (playwright) check) = 216]. The musical composer must retain a record of all her compositions including their titles and the modified Profession (musical composer) check result.

Masterpiece (Ex): If the character’s modified Profession (musician) 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 soothe emotion, battle hymn, dirge and blare checks. (The bonuses are described under the ability’s heading.) In addition, the composer receives a monetary bonus of 100 gp for every masterpiece.

Spells: Musical composers cast a limited number of arcane spells. In order to cast spells, her Charisma score can be no less than 10 + the spell’s level. Her bonus spells are based on Charisma, and saving throws against these spells have a difficulty class of 10 + the spell’s level + the composer’s Charisma modifier. When she gains 0 spells of a given level, the composer receives only bonus spells, if she is entitled to any. The musical composer’s spell list appears below the chart for her daily allotment of spells. Musical composers cast spells as a bard, although she also knows all of the spells appearing on the spell list.

Musical Composer Spells

Musical composers choose their spells from the following list.

1st level-alarm, magic mouth, message, shatter

2nd level-clairaudience, suggestion, tongues

3rd level-lesser geas, Sculpt sound, shout

4th level-contact other plane, sending

Spells per Day
Composer Level 1 2 3 4
1st 0
2nd 1
3rd 1 0
4th 1 0
5th 1 1 0
6th 1 1 1
7th 2 1 1 0
8th 2 1 1 1
9th 2 2 1 1
10th 2 2 2 1

Sonic Resistance (Su): Musical composers receive a +1 resistance bonus against all sonic based attacks in addition to sonic resistance/5.

Soothe Emotion (Sp): As a full round action, the musical composer Performs a brief excerpt from her most recent musical work in an effort to soothe the hostility of a nearby living enemy. The target must see and hear the composer in order to be affected; yet the range between the two parties never exceeds 60 feet. The ability provokes attacks of opportunity, and successful attacks force the composer to make a Concentration check as if she were casting a spell. If she completes the excerpt, she immediately rolls a Perform check and divides the result by two. The composer can not soothe the emotions of a creature with more hit dice than this figure. Otherwise, the target must make a successful Will save, DC 10 + ½ her composer levels + her Charisma modifier. If the target fails the saving throw, all of the target’s attack, damage and saving throws against the musical composer receive a -2 morale penalty for a number of rounds equal to the Profession result for her most recent musical composition. If her last piece was a masterpiece, the saving throw’s difficulty class increases by one.

For example, Lucinda, a 5th level bard/4th level musical composer with a 17 Charisma attempts to soothe the emotions of a hostile 9th level fighter. Her most recent musical composition, a symphony, has a Profession (musician) result of 33. The fighter, standing 40 feet away from her, can both see and hear Lucinda; therefore he can be affected. Lucinda, an accomplished vocalist, sings an excerpt from her piece. She immediately makes a Perform check, rolling a 14 and adding her normal bonus of +8 to the die resulting in a modified result of 22. She divides this figure in half, 22/2 = 11. Lucinda’s ability affects a single target with 11 hit dice or less; therefore the 9th level fighter is affected. The fighter must roll a successful Will save DC 15 (10 + 2 (1/2 her musical composer level) + 3 (her Charisma modifier), or incur the morale penalty for the next 33 rounds [the Profession (musician)] result of her last composition. A composer may use this ability once per day for every three musical composer levels.

Identify Musical instrument (Su): Because of their exposure to countless Musical instruments, musical composers possess the ability to identify the general function of any magical Musical instrument. In order to ascertain the item’s abilities, the musical composer rolls a d20 adding her musical composer level and Charisma modifier. Any modified result exceeding 25 accurately determines its general function. This ability can be used a number of times per day equal to the musical composer’s level.

Battle Hymn (Sp): As a full round action prior to entering combat, the composer Performs an excerpt from her most recent musical composition in an effort to rouse the spirit of her allies. Her allies must be able to hear her performance in order to be affected. After completing the performance, the composer and her allies add a morale bonus to their next attack roll equal to the Profession (musician) result of her last composition divided evenly among the listeners. The bonus remains in effect until the next attack or one minute, whichever comes first. If her last musical composition was a masterpiece, she and her allies receive the morale bonus to damage as well. Regardless of the circumstances, no creature may receive a bonus greater than double the musical composer’s level. Using the statistics for Lucinda in the preceding example, if she and two allies heard her performance, they would each receive a +11 morale bonus to their next attack (33 divided by 3 = 11). However, the maximum bonus can not exceed twice the composer’s level, therefore the maximum bonus that Lucinda can confer is a +8. [4 (her level) x 2 = 8]. The musical composer may use this ability once per day.

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

Dirge (Sp): As a full round action, the composer performs a sorrowful excerpt from her most recent musical composition. Dirge provokes attacks of opportunity, and any successful attack against the composer necessitates a Concentration check. Dirge functions exactly like hideous laughter except that the target suffers fits of hysteria, crying uncontrollably instead of laughing. As with the spell, the target receives a Will saving throw to negate the effect. The difficulty class for the saving throw is 10 + ½ the composer’s level + her Charisma modifier. The composer can target a number of hit dice per day equal to the Profession (musician) result for her most recent musical composition. If her last work was a masterpiece, the saving throw’s difficulty class increases by one.

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

Blare (Sp): The musical composer violently flails her Musical instrument, creating a cacophony of piercing sound. Any creature within a 20-foot radius of the composer suffers sonic damage equal to ½ of the Profession (musician) result of her most recent musical composition. A successful Fortitude save halves the damage. The difficulty class for the saving throw is 10 + ½ her musical composer levels + her Charisma modifier. If her most recent work was a masterpiece, the saving throw’s difficulty class increases by one. Blare is a standard action that provokes attacks of opportunity. The ability is usable once per day.

Court Composer (Ex): The musical composer serves as the nation’s court composer, creating musical compositions at the direct behest of the government. Income generated by the composer’s musical compositions triples, and the highest level officials view the composer as a trusted associate, affording her all of the privileges commensurate with her lofty position.


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