Ancient Bladesinger (3.5e Prestige Class)
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|by Jeremy Jarvis|
Ancient 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 ancient bladesingers in the world, they are in decline and are well aware that the twilight of their existence is upon them.
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 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 as the definitive martial weapon.
This was also designed for use in gestalt-modified games, and may need some adjustments for balance purposes in more traditional campaigns, and is a toned down version of the True Bladesinger. To help offset this somewhat, this class was intentionally created to be a bit MAD, requiring Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma to gain its full benefits.
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 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. Ancient 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 ancient bladesingers once grouped themselves into overlapping guilds and knighthoods as an institution, they now travel as nomadic knight-errants of the elven people, spreading the ways of the Tel'Quessir and defending the ways of elvenkind. They roam from one elven settlement to the next as troubleshooters, 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 traditional 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, ancient 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 an Ancient 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 bladesinger would return home to the academy that trained them, offering themselves as a master, and thus training multiple Tel'quessir to take over their mantle. Now in the twilight years of the dying artform, the few remaining bladesingers instead spend their last 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, Spellcraft 5 ranks.|
|Feats:||Weapon Finesse and Weapon Focus with your chosen weapon type. This must be a one-handed weapon.|
|Spellcasting:||Able to cast 2nd-level abjuration and evocation arcane spells.|
|Special:||You must spend at least 1,000gp in raw materials for a tattoo unique to your fighting style. See Way of the Blade below for more information.|
|1st||+1||+0||+2||+2||Balance of Steel and Spell, Bladesinging, Way of the Blade||+1 level in an existing arcane class|
|2nd||+2||+0||+3||+3||Bladeweaving, Poetry in Motion||+1 level in an existing arcane class|
|3rd||+3||+1||+3||+3||Uncanny Dodge||+1 level in an existing arcane class|
|4th||+4||+1||+4||+4||Elvish Grace||+1 level in an existing arcane class|
|5th||+5||+1||+4||+4||Blessing of the Seldarine||+1 level in an existing arcane class|
|6th||+6||+5||+2||+2||Harmony of the Blade||+1 level in an existing arcane class|
|7th||+7||+5||+2||+2||Improved Uncanny Dodge||+1 level in an existing arcane class|
|8th||+8||+6||+2||+2||Maven of Bladeweaving||+1 level in an existing arcane class|
|9th||+9||+6||+2||+2||+1 level in an existing arcane class|
|10th||+10||+7||+3||+3||Magic Unleashed, Purity of Steel and Spell||+1 level in an existing arcane class|
Class Skills (4 + Int modifier per level)
Weapon and Armor Proficiencies: An ancient bladesinger is proficient with all simple and martial one-handed weapons. They are also proficient with light armor, but not 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 an ancient bladesinger, you must decide to which class to add each level for the purpose of determining spells per day, caster level, and spells known.
Spellbook: If your spellcasting class relies on a spellbook or similar mechanic, you gain two spells of a level you can cast from the following schools: Abjuration or Evocation. You do not have to pay to scribe these spells into your spellbook, nor do you need to make a Spellcraft check to learn them. It is assumed you developed them during your downtime.
Balance of Steel and Spell (Ex): You are able to cast spells while wielding your weapon in combat at the same time. This functions much like Two-Weapon Fighting, except that when performing the bladesong, 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 abjuration or evocation spell 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 may also make a Perform (Dancing) check in place of any Concentration check you would make in order to avoid having a spell disrupted in combat. This check gains your base attack bonus as a circumstance bonus if you are performing the bladesong.
Bladesinging (Ex): You have learned to combine both your martial prowess and your spellcasting talents into an artistic whole, allowing you to use the bladesong as a replacement for your spellcasting components. In effect, your weapon takes the place of any inexpensive material components, your dancing and sway takes the place of somatic components, and the singing of your blade as it slices through the air replaces your verbal components. This makes it all but impossible for your enemies to deduce what spells you are casting, giving them a penalty on any attempts to do so equal to twice your class level. If you are not wielding a single one-handed weapon when casting your spell, you do not gain the benefits of this class feature.
Way of the Blade: Despite the name of this feature, you have mastered the use of a specific type of one-handed weapon (as determined by the Weapon Focus feat you used to qualify for this class) such as the longsword, dagger, rapier, or whip. This selection need not be a traditional elven weapon; many ancient bladesingers of yore chose to focus on wide range of weapons, such as Vaegos Winterlake of Myth Nantar who was renowned for his mastery with the trident. Regardless of your choice, you are treated as a Fighter of your caster level for the purposes of meeting feat prerequisites relating to your chosen weapon type, and you gain Weapon Specialization with your weapon type as a bonus feat.
You also gain a sacred tattoo representative of your weapon of choice, usually depicting some fantastical beast that personifies your style of combat. A longsword might be represented by a great cat such as a panther or displacer beast, a whip by a striking serpent or writhing octopus, or a shortspear by a cresting narwhal or charging rhinoceros.
Regardless of the form your sacred tattoo takes, any elf (including those who only possess a hint of pure elven blood, such as drow or half-elves) who see the tattoo automatically know what it is they're seeing, increasing or decreasing their attitude towards the bladesinger by two steps as appropriate to the situation. In most cases the revelation of your sacred tatoo will have a positive influence, as bladesingers are held in exceptionally high esteem by the elven people; they know that the elf standing before them will risk life and limb to protect them and their way of life. Sometimes, however, it can be quite the drawback, especially when dealing with the dark elves of the Underdark. As such you may choose to conceal your tattoo with heavy clothing or other forms of disguise, gaining a competence bonus equal to your class level. If using magic to conceal your tattoo, this bonus doubles.
Bladeweaving: When casting an abjuration or evocation spell while bladesinging, you may lower the combined spell level adjustment of any metamagic feats you apply to the spell by 1 for every two class levels, to a minimum of 0. The spell level adjustment of Heighten Spell cannot be lowered in this fashion.
Note that this a reduction of the total spell level adjustment, not a lowering of each metamagic feat applied. Bladeweaving does not increase the casting time of abjuration or evocation spell, and the metamagic feats may be applied spontaneously even if you are a prepared spellcaster.
In addition, you gain a bonus metamagic feat of choice at 2nd, 5th, and 8th level.
Poetry in Motion: At 2nd level, you may use your Dexterity modifier in place of Charisma when making Perform (Dancing) checks. While bladesinging you may choose to make Perform (Dancing) checks in place of any Balance, Climb, Jump, or Tumble checks you make.
You also gain a natural affinity for the mithral armor synonymous with the elven warriors of old. While wearing mithral armor with which you are proficient, you ignore the Maximum Dexterity Modifier for that armor, its Arcane Spell Failure Chance drops by an additional 20%, and its Armor Check Penalty drops by an additional 1 point over the normal benefits that mithral brings. These additional perks only apply when you, yourself, are wearing the armor. For anyone else, the armor functions as a normal suit of mithral armor.
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.
Elvish Grace (Su): At 4th level, when bladesinging, you may use your Intelligence modifier in place of your Strength modifier when determining how much damage you deal with any melee weapon associated with your sacred tattoo. This applies to Power Attack and similar abilities as well.
Blessing of the Seldarine (Su): Your defense of the elven way of life has impressed the Seldarine so much that they now grant you an insight bonus to saving throws equal to your Charisma modifier.
Harmony of the Blade (Ex): By 6th level, your mastery of the ancient 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, whichever benefits you the most in any given situation. 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.
You also gain your Wisdom modifier as a bonus to initiative checks when wielding a one-handed weapon in your main hand and nothing in your off-hand.
Maven of Bladeweaving (Ex): At 8th level, your skill at bladeweaving increases. If you prepare spells, you may spontaneously convert any of your prepared spells into an abjuration or evocation spell that you know. This does not increase the casting time of the spell.
Any abjuration or evocation spell you cast while bladesinging has their attack roll or saving throw DC increased by the enhancement bonus of your weapon, if any. This stacks with similar abilities such as the Spell Focus and Greater Spell Focus feats.
If you possess the Energy Substitution or Energy Admixture feats, they are no longer bound to a single energy type and you may select what energy type to convert or admix your spells to each time you cast an abjuration or evocation spell.
Lastly, you gain a competence bonus equal to your one-half your class level on any caster level checks you make to overcome spell resistance whenever you cast an abjuration or evocation spell, on Spellcraft checks when learning or designing an abjuration or evocation spell, or on Spellcraft checks made to identify an abjuration or evocation spell. This competence bonus stacks with Spell Penetration and Greater Spell Penetration.
Magic 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, an ancient bladesinger with an effective caster level of 16 may cast a 3rd-level fireball spell that inflicts 16d6 damage instead of the normal maximum of 10d6. When casting dispel magic, the same bladesinger would gain a +16 bonus on his caster level check rather than the normal maximum of +10.
You gain Heighten Spell as a bonus feat if you do not already possess it.
Purity of Steel and Spell (Ex): At 10th level, your mastery of the bladesong is complete. Every time you make a melee attack as a standard action, you may also cast a single abjuration or evocation spell as per the balance of steel and spell class feature, though you no longer suffer a -2 penalty to your attack rolls during that action.
When using that class feature to perform a full-action attack, you gain one additional attack at your highest base attack bonus, and any iterative attacks you make no longer suffer a cumulative -5 penalty to the attack roll. If also casting a spell with your off-hand, you no longer suffer the -2 penalty to all of your attacks during that action.
Elvish Code of Conduct
Similar to a Paladin, an Ancient Bladesinger is restricted by a code of honor, you act as a paragon of elven virtue. If, for example, you willingly and knowingly refuse to aid an elf in need without just cause, your god can strip you of all class abilities until you atone for your error in judgement. Worse, an ancient bladesinger that breaks their vows can also expect to be hunted down and executed by the rest of their order should word of their disgrace reach their elongated ears.
The Oath of the Ancient Bladesinger
The following is translated from the auld elvish tongue.
I walk in the light but darkness surrounds me;
Mighty are the foes of my people;
I am their shield;
My blood for their blood,
My life for their life;
My weapon and I are one;
We will serve our people and the elven way.
I have sworn this oath upon my life;
This day and forever, I name myself bladesinger.