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The cities of Zakhara include all circles of society, but among the lowest are those who have no home and hearth, no natural family or clan, and no money for food and drink. These are the ragged, tattered beggars. Some have been forced into poverty by circumstance, some have been born to it, and others have chosen this lifestyle in rebellion against the moneyed classes.
Beggars survive on the kindness of others, on the gleaning of the harvested fields, and on the remains of market day. Because of the enlightened tennets of charity, this can be a better life than one would suppose. There is no shame in being a beggar in Zakhara.
A regular feature of Zakharan myth is the king or sultan who masquerades as a tatterdemalion among his own people, to discover what they are truly saying about his rule. Beggars keep such legends alive; at a minimum, it helps make merchants think twice before kicking them out of a market stall.
Theives' guilds are not tolerated in Zakhara; thives that are caught are punished swiftly and mercilessly. The closest thing to a thieves' guild that exists is the beggars' court, an informal gathering of the beggars of the city where rumors and tips are swapped. Much can be learned at such a beggars' court.
Role: The legends speak regularly of those who have risen from the lowliest of origins to become leaders and potentates. Such tales and the hope they generate are a driving force to beggars who aspire to greatness. Many are sure that once they attain great wealth and power, they will aid the poor and downtrodden, ruling with wisdom and understanding. On a more immediate circle, however, beggars must focus on day-to-day survival. Cash-poor, ill bred, and half-starved, they must strive to fill their own basic needs before campaigning for the needs of others. Gnawing hunger and intense desire lead beggars to take risks that others would not.
Unlike sa'luks, most beggars are generally respectful of authority - if only until that authority has its back turned. Members of this discipline treat those who have money and power well, even while they strive to share or remove their riches.
The greatest ability of beggar is what some call their greatest flaw: the cities are full of others who look just like them. A beggar can disappear in a crowd or trail another person unnoticed. This is possible only in areas with a large number of beggars; deserted oasis and the sultan's palace are not locations in which these abilities are useful.
Many beggars, once they have attained some circle of wealth, leave their origins behind, cobbling together a different past in another city. The class recognizes and allows this. Magic and special abilities such as the wise woman's eye may reveal the truth - that the "king" was once a beggar, for example.
Equipment: Beggars (even wealthy ones) have relatively little in the way of equipment. A simple bowl and perhaps a musical instrument are about the limits of splendor that a beggar can afford (or afford to reveal). Even modest clothing reduces the opportunities for begging. Any form of fancy dress negates the chance of begging entirely.
Restrictions: All non-genie races have beggars. The more fortunate members of a nonhuman race are just as likely to ignore their less fortunate cousins as humans are, at least in the cities and settlements. Zakharan halflings are an exception. They consider all other halflings their brothers. Halflings who are "down on their luck" are to be adopted, cleaned, fed, and trained to do productive work. After that, a job is to be found for them. As a result, there are very few panhandling halflings; those who seek to improve themselves get the opportunity, while those who choose to retain their beggarly status spend most of their time hiding from wealthier halflings.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Beggars are proficient with simple melee weapons, but not with missile weapons, armor or shields.
Local Gossip: Beggars quickly learn all the local rumors by practicing their craft. A beggar that has spent at least some time in the streets or by the holy places, begging, gets to add his level to the Knowledge (local) skill.
Disappear in crowds: The beggar gets a circumstance bonus on his Hide skill to disappear in crowds. This is as much as +10 on a crowded city street full of beggars, and never lower than +5 while in the city. This assumes he is dressed and equipped as a typical beggar.
Sneak Attack: This is the same as the rogue's sneak attack, PH p. 47.
Evasion: This is the same as the rogue's evasion, PH p. 47. If the beggar also has some other class that gives evasion skills (rogue, monk), add his beggar levels to his levels in that class to see what evasion abilities he may use.
Uncanny dodge: This is the same as the rogue's uncanny dodge, PH p. 47. Beggars never learn the uncanny dodge abilities of thieves of level 11 or higher. If the beggar also has some other class that gives uncanny dodge (rogue, barbarian), add his beggar levels to his levels in that class to see what abilities he may use. Multiclass beggars can progress to the highest levels of uncanny dodge this way.
Special Ability: These are the same as the special abilities of the rogue, described on p. 48 of the PH. Beggars gain more special abilities than ordinary rogues, because they lack the rogue's proficiency with traps.
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