True Bladesinger (3.5e Prestige Class)
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True bladesingers are practitioners of the original elven martial art known as the "Bladesong". Once upon a time, they were a proud and noble caste of warrior-mages who traveled the countryside in order to defend the elven way of life. Sadly in this more modern age, they are a dying breed. They are little more than living myths and legends of a bygone era, having slowly been usurped by a simpler and profoundly less elegant "art" of sword magic. While there are still a handful of true bladesingers in the world, they are without doubt in the twilight of their existence.
A Personal Note
This prestige class was designed to reflect the original bladesinger from the 2nd edition Complete Book of Elves. Some artistic license was taken, adding a chasm between the original interpretation of the kit and its more modern 3rd and 4th edition prestige classes. It was of my humble opinion that most of the genuine flavor and style of the bladesinger kit was lost in the translation, and this class is an attempt to bring it back to life in all its wonder. What's more, it was also an exercise to create a functional and competitive practitioner of evocation magic which is commonly held to be the "weakest" form of magic in the game, as well as to bring back the glory days of the longsword and sword-and-board styles of combat. This was also designed for use in gestalt-modified games, and may need some adjustments for balance purposes in more traditional campaigns.
The Bladesong -- the true bladesong, not that foul atrocity of sword magic that has usurped the name -- is an extremely demanding martial art, the epitome of Tel'Quessir mastery of the sword, and one that is never taught to those lacking pure Tel'Quessir blood. Unlike the martial arts of other races, this elven fighting style emphasizes beauty and economy of movement over sheer destructive power. However, the elven bladesong is deceptively dangerous, for all its seeming gentleness and apparent grace. It is a primarily defensive style of combat, with devastating strikes considered less important than a superior guard position. From this superior defensive posture, magical attacks and spells may be used without fear of successful counter-attack when performed by a Tel'Quessir fully proficient in the style. In addition to the violent purpose inherent to all martial arts, the bladesong is uniquely Tel'Quessir in the fact that the aesthetic components of the style are as important as it's martial efficacy, with its dance-like movements and the haunting whistling sounds produced by the sword blade cutting through the air being the source of the name bladesong.
Those who practice the true bladesong appear as if they are dancing when they fight. Their movements seem misleadingly slow and elegant, deflecting opponents' blades while lazily drifting back to score hits themselves. True bladesingers do not believe in smashing blows or strong and crushing offense, but rather in guiding their opponents to anticipate a different attack entirely, thus overbalancing the foe and making him seem clumsy.
Organization and Society
While the true bladesingers group themselves into overlapping guilds and knighthoods as an institution, they normally do not travel together in groups, but instead wander separately to better spread the ways of the Tel'Quessir and defend the ways of elvenkind, roving from one elven settlement to the next as troubleshooters, and dealing with whatever problems they come across, honor-bound to come to the aid of any elf in distress they come across. In their travels they are treated with the utmost respect and admiration by the elves they meet, being treated as heroes in the communities they enter, much as a human Paladin would be in a human village. They are the champions of the Tel'Quessir, the Knights of The People and defenders of the elven way of life, practicing an ancient and honored elven art and giving their lives if necessary to defend elven society, and they are accorded status of heroes and the respect such due such a station whenever they are encountered.
On rare occasions, true bladesingers have been known to forgo their wandering ways and settle down in a large elven community. There they offer themselves to a powerful and well-respect elven house, serving as a bodyguard and staunch defender of the elven way of life.
Becoming a True Bladesinger
|“||One does not choose to become a bladesinger; one is chosen to become a bladesinger!||”|
In a bygone age when bladesingers were more common, a true bladesinger would return home to the academy that trained them, offering themselves as a master, and thus training entire classes of Tel'quessir to take their mantle. Now in the twilight years of a dying artform, the few remaining bladesingers instead spend their final years questing for a suitable apprentice to follow in their footsteps. Once found, they test them in subtle ways, judging them on whether or not they are upstanding examples of the elven way of life, and whether or not they have the gods-granted talent to hear the bladesong within.
|Race:||Elf (any subrace except drow).|
|Skills:||Perform (Dance) 8 ranks, Tumble 8 ranks.|
|Feats:||Combat Reflexes, Weapon Specialization.|
|Spellcasting:||Able to cast 2nd-level evocation and abjuration arcane spells.|
|Special:||Must have received training by another master of the true bladesong.|
|1st||+0||+0||+2||+2|| Balance of Steel and Spell, Sidestep,
|+1 level in an existing arcane spellcaster class|
|2nd||+1||+0||+3||+3||Grace of the Seldarine, Uncanny Dodge||+1 level in an existing arcane spellcaster class|
|3rd||+2||+1||+3||+3||Harmony of the Blade, Mettle||+1 level in an existing arcane spellcaster class|
|4th||+3||+1||+4||+4||Legerdemain, Whirling Dervish||+1 level in an existing arcane spellcaster class|
|5th||+3||+1||+4||+4||The True Bladesong, Wizardry Unleashed||+1 level in an existing arcane spellcaster class|
Class Skills (6 + Int modifier per level)
Weapon and Armor Proficiencies: A true bladesinger is proficient in all simple and martial weapons, as well as light and medium armor, and all types of shields except tower shields.
Spellcasting: At each level, you gain new spells per day and an increase in caster level (and spells known, if applicable) as if you had also gained a level in an arcane spellcasting 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. If you had more than one arcane spellcasting class before becoming a true bladesinger, you must decide to which class to add each level for the purpose of determining spells per day, caster level, and spells known.
Balance of Steel and Spell: Your first lesson as a bladesinger is on how to become one with both your martial prowess and your spellcasting artistry. You begin by gaining Weapon Finesse as a bonus feat.
Next, you learn how to use the bladesong itself to take the place of your somatic and material components in combat. You may treat all of your abjuration and evocation spells, plus one other school of spells of your choice, as if they were prepared with the Eschew Materials and Still Spell feats. At 3rd level, this ability expands to include Silent Spell as well. These features only apply as long as you are actively performing the bladesong, and thus are only available if you have a one-handed weapon in your main hand and either a free hand or a shield in your off-hand.
Finally, you are now able to cast spells and wield your weapon at the same time. This functions much like two-weapon fighting, except that your off-hand weapon is actually a spell rather than a second weapon. To use this ability, you must be performing the bladesong as described above. Then as a full-attack action, you can make all of your normal attacks with your main hand at a -2 penalty, but you may also cast any spell that has been prepared with the Still Spell feat as long as it has a casting time of 1 standard action or less. You may choose to cast the spell first and then make your weapon attacks or vice-versa, but you may not cast the spell between attacks. You are treated as if you have the Two-Weapon Fighting feat for purposes of meeting prerequisites. Any abilities derived from this pseudo-feat are restricted in the same way as this class feature.
Sidestep (Ex): You can avoid danger with great agility. If you make a successfull Reflex saving throw against an attack that normally deals half damage on a save, you instead take no damage. You may use this ability only if wearing armor in which you take an armor check penalty of -2 or less. If you are helpless, you likewise do not gain the benefit of sidestepping.
The Bladesong: You have made your first foray into learning the steps of the true bladesong and may now use your Perform (Dance) skill in place of any Balance, Concentration, Jump, or Tumble checks. You are also treated as if you possess the Spring Attack chain of feats for purposes of meeting prerequisites.
Grace of the Seldarine (Su): At 2nd level, you gain a bonus equal to your Dexterity modifier on all saving throws, reflecting the heavenly grace and fluidity that the Seldarine have blessed upon you. By 4th level, you have impressed the elven gods so much that they now grant you spell resistance equal to 15 + your effective character level. At the DM's discretion, these benefits only apply as long as you act as a paragon of elven virtue. If, for example, you willingly and knowingly refuse to aid a good elf in need without just cause, the DM is fully within his rights to strip you of these two benefits until you find some way to atone for your error in judgement.
Additionally, you are now able to spontaneously convert any of your prepared spells into a known abjuration or evocation spell, plus spells one other school of choice, just as a cleric can spontaneously cast cure spells.
Uncanny Dodge (Ex): Having practiced the bladesong for some time now, you have gained a sixth sense of sorts regarding potential dangers. You retain your Dexterity bonus to AC (if any) even if you are caught flat-footed or when struck by an invisible attacker. If you already possess a similar ability from another source, you automatically gain improved uncanny dodge instead.
Harmony of the Blade (Ex): By 3rd level, your mastery of the true bladesong grows greater still. While wielding a one-handed weapon in your main hand, you may treat it as a light weapon or a two-handed weapon for purposes of any secondary benefits, whichever benefits you the most. Examples include whether or not you can wield the weapon with Weapon Finesse, determining your Strength bonus to damage, and opposed checks you made when performing or defending against disarming or sundering attacks.
In combat, you are also treated as if possess both Spell Focus (Evocation) and Greater Spell Focus (Evocation) if your off-hand is free, or Two-Weapon Fighting and Improved Shield Bash if you are wielding a shield. If wielding a shield as a weapon, you must choose whether or not to attack with it or cast a spell using your balance of steel and spell class feature; you cannot perform both in the same full attack action.
Mettle (Ex): You can resist magical and other unusual attacks with great willpower or fortitude. If you make a successful Will or Fortitude save against an attack that normally would have a lesser effect on a successful save (such as any spell with a saving throw entry of Will half or Fortitude partial), you instead completely negate the effect. If you are unconscious, you do not gain the benefit of mettle.
Legerdemain: At 4th level, you gain Energy Substitution as a bonus feat with which you may spontaneously convert any of your evocation spells without increasing the casting time. Each morning you may change which energy subtype this feat uses in much the same way a wizard prepares his spells.
You also gain a competence bonus equal to your Dexterity modifier for caster level checks made to overcome spell resistance, but only when casting spells affected by your Balance of Steel and Spell class ability.
Whirling Dervish: Your grace in battle has advanced to the point to where you fully gain the Spring Attack chain of feats as well as Combat Expertise, even if you do not normally qualify for it, but only as long as you are performing the bladesong. You lose these feats if you are wielding a two-handed weapon or anything other than a shield in your off-hand.
The True Bladesong: At 5th level, your mastery of the true bladesong is complete. You are treated as if you have both the Improved Two-Weapon Fighting and Greater Two-Weapon Fighting feats for purposes of your balance of steel and spell class feature. You may also choose to cast any spell you know while performing the bladesong, but without benefit of the Still Spell pseudo-feat (and thus must have a free hand available, as appropriate). Finally, you are treated as if you possess the Quicken Spell feat for purposes of meeting prerequisites.
Wizardry Unleashed: The strength of your abjuration and evocation spells are no longer bound by their original spell level. When casting such a spell, ignore any restrictions due to the spell's level, such as a limit on the number of damage dice rolled or bonuses to a caster check. For example, a bladesinger with an effective caster level of 12 may cast a 3rd-level fireball spell that inflicts 12d6 damage instead of the normal maximum of 10d6. When casting dispel magic, the same bladesinger would gain a +12 bonus on his caster level check rather than the normal maximum of +10.
In addition, you gain a competence bonus on the saving throw DCs of any spells affected by your balance of steel and spell class feature equal to your Dexterity modifier. This reflects the natural grace and eloquence in which you have learned to unleash your spells in battle.