In many cultures and belief systems, the height of purity is embodied in an ascetic lifestyle that involves forswearing all material possessions. Such a life is hard for most D&D characters even to imagine, since their possessions—particularly their magic items—are such an important part of their capabilities. A character who swears a vow of poverty and takes the appropriate feats, Sacred Vow and Vow of Poverty, cannot own magic items, but he gains certain spiritual benefits that can help outweigh the lack of those items. These benefits depend on his character level. The level at which the character swears the vow (and takes the appropriate feats) is irrelevant; if he gives up his possessions at 10th level he gains all the benefits of a 10th-level ascetic character, with the exception of bonus exalted feats.

Table 2–3: Voluntary PovertyEdit

Character Level Benefit
1st AC bonus +4, Bonus exalted feat
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

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 reduction of some evil outsiders.
Sustenance (Ex): A 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 every 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 continusous true seeing ability, as the spell.

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