Ebon Bowman (3.5e Prestige Class)
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|“||It was horrible - all of our torches went out for just a moment, and when they came back on, Tallus was dead, a single, black arrow sticking out of his chest.||”|
|—Jessop Thornfinger, a halfling rogue, recounting the demise of his party's paladin|
Among the greatest of elven realms, a group of powerful mages learned long ago how to blend their natural skill with a bow with the terrible fury of arcane magic. These mages, known simply as arcane archers, protected the elves from many threats that simple wizards or warriors could not,and they were often in the front line in the epic battles that raged among the elven empires of old.
Among the ranks of these mages were a number of the fell dark elves, worshipers of demons and other dark creatures. When the dark elves were cast into the Underdark for their sins, those of them who practiced the great bow-magic also followed, teaching many of their kind their ways. But the great bows favored by their surface-dwelling cousins were often useless in the Realm Below, and as time wore on, the drow began to favor melee weapons or small, one-handed crossbows, meaning that there were less and less of the great mages to carry on their way; and soon, the great bow-mages were all but unheard of among the dark elves. One of these remaining mages, a male named Jlithin Al'tos, sought to form a college of sorts, hidden away from the eyes of even his dark brethren. Jlithin led the remaining mages who would follow him to one of the deepest parts of the Underdark, to a great cavern he dubbed "Sur'th'sur'this" (which literally means "Dark Hole" in a local dialect of Undercommon), where they established a school of magic of the same name.
As more and more centuries passed, Jlithin's school began to hemorrhage members, mostly because they either left to pursue careers in more civilized areas, or they were killed off by the many hazards that infested the Underdark. In an act of desperation, Jlithin gather his remaining members together, and worked an great and terrible act of magic which cost the lives of over a hundred slaves,and transported the entire school into the Plane of Shadow. Jlithin was never seen again on the Prime Material Plane, but his students have slowly begun to trickle back, wielding alien magics that drew their power from the shadow around and within them.
Becoming an Ebon Bowman
The way of the sniper comes to many characters, particularly those with some connection to darkness, so it comes as no surprise that a handful of shadowcasters should embrace this path. While applicants always possess a few levels of shadowcaster, most also take a few levels of fighter or ranger, to gain some additional training in their weapons of choice. While the ranks of the ebon bowman only accepted drow once, many of those bowman who return to the Material Plane may take apprentices of any race, often even orcs or hobgoblins.
|Base Attack Bonus:||+5|
|Skills:||Concentration 8 ranks, Spot 8 ranks|
|Feats:||Far Shot, Point Blank Shot, Rapid Shot, Weapon Focus (any longbow or shortbow)|
|Shadowcasting:||Able to cast 2nd level mysteries.|
|1st||+0||+0||+2||+0||Shadow Bow Technique||+1 level of existing mystery-using class|
|2nd||+1||+0||+3||+0||Shot from the Dark, Far-Reaching Shadows (+10 ft.)||+1 level of existing mystery-using class|
|3rd||+2||+1||+3||+1||Darken Arrows, Ranged Sudden Strike +1d6||+1 level of existing mystery-using class|
|4th||+3||+1||+4||+1||-||+1 level of existing mystery-using class|
|5th||+3||+1||+4||+1||Ranged Sudden Strike +2d6||+1 level of existing mystery-using class|
|6th||+4||+2||+5||+2||Far-Reaching Shadows (+20 ft.)||+1 level of existing mystery-using class|
|7th||+5||+2||+5||+2||Ranged Sudden Strike +3d6||+1 level of existing mystery-using class|
|8th||+6||+2||+6||+2||Piercing Shot||+1 level of existing mystery-using class|
|9th||+6||+3||+6||+3||Ranged Sudden Strike +4d6||+1 level of existing mystery-using class|
|10th||+7||+3||+7||+3||Greater Shot from the Dark, Far-Reaching Shadows (+30 ft.)||+1 level of existing mystery-using class|
All of the following are class features of the ebon bowman.
Mysteries: At every level, you gain new mysteries and an increase in caster level as if you had also attained a level in a shadowcasting class to which you belonged before adding the prestige class level. You do not, however, gain any other benefit a character of that class would have gained.
Shadow Bow Technique (Ex): The ebon bowman's skill with using the cover of darkness is such that they have learned to use the very shadows themselves to draw attention away from them, letting them use their bows in combat, without seeming to leave themselves open. At 1st level, if the ebon bowman is in at least shadowy illumination, he does not provoke attacks of opportunity when firing a bow while in a threatened square.
Shot from the Dark (Ex): Once the shadow has it's tendrils in someone, it is difficult, if not impossible to dislodge them. The ebon bowman has learned to use this to his advantage, relying on the shadow to keep him safe after taking a shot. At 2nd level, the ebon bowman only takes a -10 penalty on Hide checks made to return to hiding after making a ranged attack.
Far-Reaching Shadows (Su): An ebon bowman's shots often aren't merely just fired from the shadow, they are part of the shadow. He learns to wrap his shots with darkness, allowing him to keep his arrows steady over long distances. At 2nd level, any bow fired by the ebon bowman has it's range increased by 10 feet. This increases to 20 feet at 6th level, and 30 feet at 10th.
Darken Arrows (Ex): One of the most frightening abilities of the ebon bowman is their ability to lace their shots with terrible shadow magic, making each one potentially devastating. At 3rd level, an ebon bowman may use his bow to deliver mysteries with a range of touch with a ranged attack. Mysteries cast as spells that are used in this way don't require somatic components, as the act of drawing back his bow is the only movement he needs to make. Mysteries that have continuous effects, such as Umbral Touch are treated as if cast on his bow, rather than his hand.
Ranged Sudden Strike (Ex): At 3rd level, if an ebon bowman can catch an opponent when they are unable to defend themselves effectively from his ranged attack, he can strike a vital spot for extra damage. Whenever an ebon bowman’s target is denied a Dexterity bonus to Armor Class (whether the target actually has a Dexterity bonus or not), the ebon bowman deals an extra 1d6 points of damage with her ranged attack. This extra damage increases by 1d6 points for every odd level past 3rd. This damage applies only to ranged attacks against targets up to 30 feet away, although this range is increased by the ebon bowman's far-reaching shadows ability. Creatures with concealment, creatures without discernible anatomies, and creatures immune to extra damage from critical hits are all immune to sudden strikes. The extra damage from the sudden strike ability stacks with the extra damage from sneak attack whenever both would apply to the same target.
Piercing Shot (Su): An ebon bowman's arrows are each tipped with a small amount of shadow, which cuts straight through even the most resilient of hides. At 8th level, any bow the ebon bowman wields is treated as having the shadow striking ability from Tome of Magic.
Playing an Ebon Bowman
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Ebon Bowmen in the World
|“||It's not the dark you should fear; it's those who lurk inside it.||”|
|—Dalton Morgana, a halfling Ebon Bowman.|
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Ebon Bowman Lore
Characters with ranks in Knowledge(arcana) can research Ebon Bowmen to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.
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Ebon Bowmen in the Game
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