Vow of Poverty

( Book of Exalted Deeds, p. 48)


You have taken a sacred vow to forswear material possessions.


Sacred Vow (BE) ,


You gain bonuses to your Armor Class, ability scores, and saving throws, as well as bonus exalted feats, all depending on your character level. See Voluntary Poverty in Chapter 2 for details.


To fulfill your vow, you must not own or use any material possessions, with the following exceptions: You may carry and use ordinary (neither magic nor masterwork) simple weapons, usually just a quarterstaff that serves as a walking stick. You may wear simple clothes (usually just a homespun robe, possibly also including a hat and sandals) with no magical properties. You may carry enough food to sustain you for one day in a simple (nonmagic) sack or bag. You may carry and use a spell component pouch. You may not use any magic item of any sort, though you can benefit from magic items used on your behalf—you can drink a potion of cure serious wounds a friend gives you, receive a spell cast from a wand, scroll, or staff, or ride on your companion's ebony fly. You may not, however, "borrow" a cloak of resistance or any other magic item from a companion for even a single round, nor may you yourself cast a spell from a scroll, wand, or staff. If you break your vow, you immediately and irrevocably lose the benefit of this feat. You may not take another feat to replace it.

Vow of Poverty

AC Bonus (Su): A 1st-level ascetic receives a +4 exalted bonus to his Armor Class. The bonus increases to +5 at 3rd level, and thereafter increases by +1 for each 3 character levels. This bonus does not apply to touch attacks and does not hinder incorporeal touch attacks. Brilliant energy weapons, however, do not ignore this bonus. This does not stack with an armor bonus.

Bonus Exalted Feats: At 1st level, an ascetic gets a bonus exalted feat, and another bonus feat at 2nd level and every 2 levels thereafter. Unlike the other benefits of a vow of poverty, a character does not gain these bonus feats retroactively when he takes the Vow of Poverty feat; he only gains those bonus feats that apply for the levels he gains after swearing his vow. Thus, the bonus feat gained at 1st level is available only to humans who take both Sacred Vow and Vow of Poverty at 1st level.

Endure Elements (Ex): A 3rd-level ascetic is immune to the effects of being in a hot or cold environment. He can exist comfortably in conditions between -50 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit without having to make Fortitude saves (as described in the Dungeon Master's Guide).

Exalted Strike (Su): At 4th level, an ascetic gains a +1 enhancement bonus on all his attack and damage rolls. In effect, any weapon the character wields becomes a +1 magic weapon, and can overcome the damage reduction of a creature as though it were a magic weapon. This enhancement bonus rises to +2 at 10th level, to +3 at 14th level, to +4 at 17th level, and to +5 at 20th level. At 10th level, any weapon damage the character deals is also considered to be good-aligned, so that it can bypass the damage reductions of some evil outsiders.

Sustenance (Ex): At 5th-level ascetic doesn't need to eat or drink.

Deflection (Su): A 6th-level ascetic receives a +1 deflection bonus to his Armor Class. This bonus increases to +2 at 12th level, and to +3 at 18th level.

Resistance (Ex): At 7th level, an ascetic gains a +1 resistance bonus on all saving throws. This bonus increases to +2 at 13th level, and to +3 at 17th level.

Ability Score Enhancement (Ex): At 7th level, an ascetic gains a +2 enhancement bonus to one ability score. At 11th level, he gains an extra +2 bonus to that score, and a +2 bonus to another ability score. At 15th level, he gains an extra +2 bonus to those two scores, and a +2 bonus to a third ability score. At 19th level, he gains an extra +2 bonus to those three scores, and a +2 bonus to a fourth ability score.

Natural Armor (Ex): At 8th level, an ascetic gains a +1 natural armor bonus, or his existing natural armor bonus increases by +1. It increases an extra +1 at 16th level.

Mind Shielding (Ex): Also at 8th level, an ascetic character becomes immune to detect thoughts, discern lies, and any attempt to discern his alignment.

Damage Reduction (Su): An ascetic gains damage reduction 5/magic at 10th level. At 15th level, this improves to 5/evil, and at 19th level to 10/evil.

Greater Sustenance (Ex): Once he attains 12th level, an ascetic character doesn't need to breathe.

Energy Resistance (Ex): At 13th level, an ascetic gains resistance 5 to acid, cold, electricity, fire, and sonic energy. At 20th level, this increases to resistance 15.

Freedom of Movement (Ex): At 14th level, an ascetic can act as if continually under the effect of a freedom of movement spell.

Regeneration (Ex): At 17th level, an ascetic heals 1 point of damage per level per hour rather than every day. (This ability cannot be aided by the Heal skill.) Nonlethal damage heals at a rate of 1 point of damage per level every 5 minutes.

True Seeing (Su): At 18th level, an ascetic gains a continuous true seeing ability, as the spell.

Other Ramifications of Poverty

A character who has forsaken material possessions may find himself at a marked disadvantage when it comes to certain necessary expenses, such as expensive material components. One option is for ascetic characters to beg components from other party members, who are probably gaining as much benefit from having the spell cast as the caster is. Alternatively, an ascetic spellcaster can sacrifice experience points in place of expensive components, with 1 XP equivalent to 5 gp value of components.

Having a character in the party who has taken a vow of poverty should not necessarily mean that the other party members get bigger shares of treasure! An ascetic character must be as extreme in works of charity as she is in self-denial. The majority of her share of party treasure (or the profits from the sale thereof) should be donated to the needy, either directly (equipping rescued captives with gear taken from their fallen captors) or indirectly (making a large donation to a temple noted for its work among the poor). While taking upon herself the burden of poverty voluntarily, an ascetic recognizes that many people do not have the freedom to choose poverty, but instead have it forced upon them, and seeks to better those unfortunates as much as possible.

Character Level Benefits
1st AC bonus +4
2nd Bonus exalted feat
3rd AC bonus +5, endure elements
4th Exalted strike +1 (magic), bonus exalted feat
5th Sustenance
6th AC bonus +6, deflection +1, bonus exalted feat
7th Resistance +1, ability score enhancement +2
8th Natural armor +1, mind shielding, bonus exalted feat
9th AC bonus +7
10th Exalted strike +2 (good), damage reduction 5/magic, bonus exalted feat
11th Ability score enhancement +4/+2
12th AC bonus +8, deflection +2, greater sustenance, bonus exalted feat
13th Resistance +2, energy resistance 5
14th Exalted strike +3, freedom of movement, bonus exalted feat
15th AC bonus +9, ability score enhancement +6/+4/+2, damage reduction 5/evil
16th Natural armor +2, bonus exalted feat
17th Exalted strike +4, resistance +3, regeneration
18th AC bonus +10, deflection +3, true seeing, bonus exalted feat
19th Ability score enhancement +8/+6/+4/+2, damage reduction 10/evil
20th Exalted strike +5, energy resistance 15, bonus exalted feat