Falconer (3.5e Prestige Class)
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Falconry is the art of using a bird of prey for hunting. Usually, only small game, vermin, and birds are taken, but more powerful birds can even take down deer and other large game. Taken to its logical conclusion, a bird of prey can even be used in combat. A falconer and her bird can prove a deadly combination.
Becoming a Falconer
Rangers are the most common base class for the falconer, combining the martial prowess and beast-taming ability to both train and fight alongside a magnificent bird of prey. A druid, possibly with a few levels of fighter or another martial class, can also qualify. Dexterity and Constitution are the most important abilities for a falconer, providing AC and hit points. Following that, Intelligence helps diversify the falconer's skills, while Strength can help damage if she uses throwing weapons. Charisma and Wisdom are of lower importance, mostly helping Handle Animal and Will saves, respectively.
|Base Attack Bonus:||+4|
|Skills:||Handle Animal 8 ranks, Survival 4 ranks.|
|Special:||Must have a Hawk, Eagle, or Owl animal companion.|
|1st||+1||+2||+2||+0||Animal Companion, Falconer Gear, Precise Shot|
|2nd||+2||+3||+3||+0||Harrying Strikes, Piercing Sight (Overhead Tracking)|
|3rd||+3||+3||+3||+1||Improved Share Spells, Evasive Flight|
|4th||+4||+4||+4||+1||Flyby Attack, Spotter|
|5th||+5||+4||+4||+1||Gouge, Tag Team Flanking|
|6th||+6||+5||+5||+2||Improved Multistrike, Piercing Sight (See Invisible)|
|7th||+7||+5||+5||+2||Aerial Acrobatics, Fending Shot|
|10th||+10||+7||+7||+3||Martial Companion, Piercing Sight (True Seeing)|
Class Skills (6 + Int modifier per level)
|11th||Harrying Strikes, Animal Companion|
All of the following are class features of the falconer.
Animal Companion (Ex): A falconer adds her falconer level to her effective druid level for her animal companion, so long as it is a hawk, eagle, or owl.
Falconer Gear: Falconers have some specialized gear to help them handle and protect their birds. They wear an oversized leather gauntlet over on arm for their companion to land on. Due to its rugged construction, it can also be used to block attacks. It provides an AC bonus as a buckler, except that it is made out of leather. The glove prevents the use of two handed melee weapons and bows, as well as one handed or light weapons in that hand, but does not impact the use or reloading of crossbows or slings. The glove can be enchanted as a shield and does not fill the glove item slot; other gloves may be worn underneath it. While wearing the falconry glove, the falconer may add her class level to Handle Animal checks regarding her bird.
Precise Shot: Falconers gain the Precise Shot feat at first level, allowing them to avoid the risk of shooting their animal companion when they attack the same target.
Harrying Strikes (Ex): The combination of ranged and melee attacks coming from two sources in perfect concert disorients oponents, who cannot focus on just one source. If a second level or higher falconer and her animal companion both hit an enemy with an attack in the same round, that enemy takes a penalty to AC, attack rolls, and Concentration checks equal to the number of attacks the falconer and animal companion landed put together during their turn. These penalties last until the end of the falconers next turn. In addition, the first time the falconer or her animal companion attacks a target each turn, the other member of the pair gains +1 to damage against the target until the next turn. At fifth level and every three levels thereafter (including epic levels), the damage bonus increases by one.
Piercing Sight (Ex): The hawk, eagle, or owl animal companion of a falconer second level or higher gains the Track feat, and may follow tracks while flying. The bird may use its Spot skill in place of Survival for all purposes, including tracking and providing food. When the falconer reaches sixth level, her companions incredible vision allows it to see through invisibility as though effected by a See Invisibility spell. At 10th level, its vision instead allows it to see as if effected by True Seeing.
Ex): A falconer of third level or higher and her animal companion may share spells cast upon them by an outside source, and may continue to share spells even if they are more than 5 feet apart.(
Evasive Flight (Ex): Once per round, a falconer third level of higher may direct her bird of prey to take evasive action when it would be hit by an attack. This acts the same as the Mounted Combat feats ability to negate an attack, except the falconer uses her Handle Animal skill instead of Ride, and does not need to be riding her companion. In addition, the falconer and her animal companion both gain evasion or improved evasion if either one of them have that ability.
Flyby Attack: The animal companion of a fourth level or higher falconer gains Flyby Attack as a bonus feat. The falconers animal companion also gains full BAB from its animal HD.
Spotter (Ex): A falconer fourth level or higher takes no penalties for attacking targets with cover or concealment so long as her animal companion can see the target, her range increment penalties are halved, and she suffers no range increment penalties for attacks that are only one range increment away. In addition, both the falconer and her companion do not lose their dexterity bonus to AC against enemies they cannot see as long as one of them can see it. This counts as the Uncanny Dodge ability.
Gouge (Ex): If a fifth level or higher falconer's hawk, eagle, or owl confirms a critical strike with a talon or bite attack, the target is rendered blind for one round. If the bird lands multiple attacks on a single target during a round, the target will be blinded for a number of rounds equal to the number of attacks landed, as long as one of them is a confirmed critical hit.
Tag Team Flanking (Ex): If a fifth level or higher falconer and her bird companion both strike a target during a single round, that target is considered flanked for all attacks against it until the falconer's next turn.
Improved Multistrike (Ex): At sixth level, a falconers animal companions combat ability improves. A hawk or owl companion gains a second primary talon attack with the same bonuses as its normal one, and an eagle gains the Multiattack feat. In addition, the bird may make a full attack instead of taking a single standard action as part of a flyby attack. This replaces the multistrike class feature from the druid animal companion table.
Aerial Acrobatics (Ex): A seventh level falconer's eagle, hawk, or owl's manoeuvrability is increased by one stage.
Fending Shot (Ex): Attacking a seventh level or higher falconer's animal companion provokes a ranged attack of opportunity if the attacker is within one range increment of the falconer.
Talon Rend (Ex): If an eighth level or higher falconer's animal companion hits with two claw attacks in a single round, it rends its foe, dealing 1d8 + the companion's Dex modifier slashing damage. This increases the attack count for Gouge and Harrying Strikes by one.
Razor Talons (Ex): The talon attacks of a ninth level falconer's animal companion now critical hit on a 19 or 20. This is a change to the base critical threat range, and thus stacks with other effects that increase critical threat range, such as Keen or Improved Critical
Martial Companion (Ex): At tenth level, a falconer may use her Base Attack Bonus as her effective druid level for her animal companion, if it would be higher, so long as her companion is a hawk, eagle, or owl. As long as the falconer has more than ten levels in falconer, she may add her total epic level to her base attack bonus for the purpose of this class feature.
The epic falconer gains a bonus feat (selected from the list of epic falconer feats) every three levels after tenth level.
Epic Falconer Bonus Feat List:
None of a falconer's animal companion related bonuses work if she selects a new companion that is not a hawk, eagle, or owl.
Playing a Falconer
Combat: Falconers and their birds of prey serve as damage dealers and distractions, skirmishing on the sidelines and focusing on priority targets. Combining their attacks makes their foes less effective, turning a strong offense into defense. Staying at range is important, however, as the falconer gets little in the way of defensive abilities and her hawk can easily fall to concentrated attacks.
Advancement: Any multiclassing should be into other pet-related classes if the falconer does not have ten levels of falconer yet. Even afterward, a class that helps advance her pet as well as her is an advantage. Barring that, focusing on full-BAB combat classes to improve her own martial prowess, while Martial Companion keeps her bird up in levels.
Resources: There is no world-wide organization for falconers, but within an advanced enough nation, an informal network of various falconers and breeders could help acquire gear or birds of prey, possibly even exotic ones.
Falconers in the World
Falconers fill a similar role to the ranger. They are skilled in natural areas and capable combatants. A falconer might be a village's protector or one of their premier hunters. Due to falconry's popularity with nobility, the class is likely to be more popular among the upper crust, as well. A falconer might be a nobleman's retainer, or a particularly rough-and-ready noble might be one himself. A bird of preys scouting ability is not to be overlooked, either; the vanguard of a military force could easily have a falconer or two serving as scouts alongside their bird companions.
NPC Reactions: NPCs will generally have the same reaction to falconers as they would have to a ranger. Nobles may be one step more friendly toward falconers than to normal rangers.
Characters with ranks in Knowledge(Nature) can research falconers to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.
|11||Falconers train birds of prey to fight.|
|16||Falconers fight alongside their birds to tag team their opponents.|
|21||A falconers bird of prey can easily take your eyes if you don't watch out.|
|26||Information regarding specific master falconers in the game.|
Falconers in the Game
Adaptation: A falconer could be a retainer of a noble who is more dangerous than he first appears, or a hunter or woodsman. Hawks, eagles, and owls are not the only birds of prey used for falconry, they are merely the only ones available as animal companions. Feel free to expand the list of acceptable companions to include any relevant birds of prey. In a universe significantly different from our own, other non-magical avians like winged lizards or predatory bats could also be allowed.