by Matthew Hedges

High up in the peaks and valleys of mighty mountain ranges, the mountaineer can be found.  He climbs across terrain that even the hardiest ranger would find all but impossible to cross, exposing himself to cold that even the toughest frost barbarian would find bone chilling. The Mountaineer lives for the mountains and his skill at scaling the 'unscalable' cliffs and peaks of the mountain ranges is the stuff of legend.

Mountaineers are generally of human stock - the other races are physically at a disadvantage when trying to scale rugged mountains. A few half-orcs or half-elves might be found in their number, possibly some dwarves (certainly sturdy enough - but lacking the advantage of height).  

Rangers often find they have a calling for this prestige class, since their skills go hand in hand with the Mountaineers. Fighters, barbarians and even druids are also found amongst their number. A handful of rogues (often bandits) have the ability and desire to qualify for this prestige class.  Monks belonging to a local mountain monastery could well find this class suitable for them. Bards wondering the mountainous regions of the Flanaess would also find the climbing skills invaluable. Sorcerers and Wizards are unknown amongst their number, and Paladins very rarely take up this role, usually considering it 'beneath them'.

To learn the skills of a Mountaineer, a character must find one willing to teach him.  After spending some time learning from a Mountaineer, characters can go out on their own for a time, returning at various times to pick up new skills.

Hit Die: d10

Race:  Not Elf, Halfling or Gnome
Feats:  Endurance, Great Fortitude
Climb:  8 ranks
Use Rope:  5 ranks
Balance:  2 ranks
Jump:  2 ranks
Other:  Must own a climber's kit.

Class skills
The class skills of a Mountaineer are very similar to those of Rangers, with whom they share a common method of operation. 

The Mountaineer's class skills (and key ability for each skill) are Balance (Dex), Climb (Str), Hide (Dex), Intuit Direction (Wis), Jump (Str), Knowledge (nature) (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Spot (Wis), Swim (Str), Tumble (Dex), Use Rope (Dex), Wilderness Lore (Wis).

Skill points at each level: 4 + Int modifier

Class Features

Weapon and Armour Proficiency:  Mountaineers are proficient with all simple and martial weapons, light and medium armours but not shields. Note that armour check penalties for armour heavier than leather apply to the skills Balance, Climb, Escape Artist, Hide, Jump, Move Silently, Pick Pocket and Tumble.
[Mountaineers shun heavy armour as being to cumbersome for their mobility needs. They have no use for shields as they require both hands and will usually select a light armour and wear cloaks to protect themselves from the cold air.] 

Defensive Climb:  While climbing the Mountaineer can add a +1 dodge bonus to his AC. This offsets the fact the characters lose their dexterity bonus (to AC) while climbing.
[Master Mountaineers have great experience climbing while under attack or threat, and have learned to adapt their climbing style for it.]

Inner Warmth: Mountaineers can add +2 to their Fortitude saving throws related to the effects of cold (see Cold Dangers pg. 86 of the DMG), including spells and spell like effects (note this doesn't apply to Reflex saving throws - such as avoiding a cone of cold spell).

Mountain Foe: At 1st level Mountaineers must select one species found in their native mountain range as their mountain foe. Thereafter they gain +1 on damage rolls and appropriate skill checks against that foe - exactly as defined for a ranger's favoured enemy (pg. 45 PHB). If they choose the same foe as their favoured enemy (if a Ranger) the results stack. At 5th level Mountaineers get a second mountain foe, so they must choose another foe, for which they get +1 bonus on damage and skill checks. The Foe that they selected at first level goes up to a bonus of +2.

Climber's Strength:  A Mountaineer's muscles are so attuned to surges of extra-strength that they can be called upon to perform above normal for very short periods. Once per day the Mountaineer receives a +2 bonus to his Strength ability score. This last 3 whole rounds plus one round for each Mountaineer level the character has.

Mountain Lore: Mountaineers can add a +2 circumstance bonus to any wilderness lore checks made while in a mountain range (including those made for tracking).

Negate Higher Ground: When being attacked from above, a mountaineer's opponent only gains +1 to hit rather than the usual +2.  Master Mountaineers have practiced the fighting styles that help negate the advantage of higher ground.

Soft Landing:  Mountaineers have had much practice at falling. They can train their bodies to maneuver while falling so that the impact is not as great. If the Mountaineer falls (accidentally) they still get to take the first 10 feet as subdual damage rather than lethal (normally a character gets this only if the intentionally jumped). Additionally the Mountaineer gains a +2 circumstance bonus to any Jump skill checks made for lessening the impact of a fall (see pg. 112 DMG).

Cold Resistance: Mountaineers do not feel the cold like lowlanders do.  They receive damage reduction of 3/0 for damage inflicted by cold-based attacks (including frost and ice).

Fast Climb:  When a Mountaineer tries accelerated climbing (moving at normal speed - see pg. 65 PHB) he only suffers a -3 penalty instead of a -5 penalty to his Climb skill check.

Reflex Snag:  The Mountaineer receives a +3 circumstance bonus when trying to catch themselves on a wall, branch or outcropping when falling (on a slope or a straight fall).

Mountain Stride:  Mountaineers can climb over mountains and walk along mountain passes without leaving a discernable trail, similar to the Druid's ability woodland stride.

Table 1: Mountaineer
Level	Base Attack	Fort	Reflex	Will	Special
Bonus		Save	Save	Save	
1	+1		+2	+0	+0	Defensive Climb, Inner Warmth, Mountain Foe 1
2	+2		+3	+0	+0	Climber's Strength, Mountain Lore
3	+3		+3	+1	+1	Negate Higher Ground, Soft Landing
4	+4		+4	+1	+1	Cold Resistance, Fast Climb, Reflex Snag
5	+5		+4	+1	+1	Mountain Stride, Mountain Foe 2