Sword Elf (3.5e Race)
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Sword elves are not truly a unique subrace so much as they are an elf who has been trained his entire life in the art of war — above and beyond what any class represents. Taken at a young age to the fabled Monastery of the Snow-Kissed Petals, they undergo a lifetime of extensive training in the use of swords and armor in order to defend and protect their people from the many dangers that loom in the darkness. Some of the world's most legendary elven bladesingers, knights, and cavalrymen were sword elves, even though they rarely if ever are identified as such.
Note: I deliberated long and hard over whether or not to make this a race or a template. In the end I chose race due to the unique way in which the sword elf's abilities override any abilities they may have once possessed though it functions the same as a template. Even drow who are chosen to become sword elves lose all of their racial abilities, such as their spell resistance and spell-like abilities.
Like any individual, sword elves vary in personality from elf to elf. They do tend to be more stoic and honorable than their cousins, but these trends have a tendency to fade after they return from their monastic training.
Sword elves retain the physical characteristics of their parents, though an unusual number of dark-eyed elves tend to possess the heartiness and natural instincts that the sword masters of the Monastery of the Snow-Kissed Petals look for in new recruits.
To reflect their specialization, all sword elves possess an elaborate and beautiful tattoo of a beast that reflects the philosophy behind their chosen sword. Masters of the longsword, for example, often have the tattoo of a serpent coiled around one of their arms, while masters of the greatsword tend to have an ancient wyrm painted across their back or chest.
Many sword elves used to take a vow of chastity, but this has been going out of vogue for many centuries now. With the dwindling numbers of elves around the world, they cannot afford to be as chaste as tradition demands. That said, sword elves do tend to dedicate themselves to a single mate, for once they give their word of honor, they stick by it til the end.
Sword elves are almost universally of a good alignment. But like most individuals, they are not immune to the many temptations that can lead a soul down a darker path, and neutral or even evil sword elves are not unheard of. They do tend to be of a more lawful alignment due to decades of martial discipline and training, but that too often fades soon after leaving the monastery when they are reintroduced to their more careful brethren.
Faith and religion is not often focused upon during a sword elf's training, aside from those blessed with divine might. The understated artwork of Corellon Larethian and the rest of the Seldarine can be found throughout the temple, but the gods themselves are merely paid lip service by most. Instead, sword elves are encouraged to believe in themselves and the virtues of the elven way of life in order to guide them through their many trials and tribulations.
Sword elves are stripped of their original name once they have been accepted at the monastery. For the duration of their training, they are instead given a poetic designation. Golden Morning Radiance, Falling Snow, and Dances Beneath the Stars are but a few examples. Upon graduation, they are once again allowed to use their given name, though a great many prefer to retain their monastic honorific instead.
- +2 Dexterity.+2 Constitution Sword elves retain their natural elegance in battle, but they have undergone many ordeals that have bolstered their resilience.
- Humanoid (Elf).
- A sword elf's base land speed is 30 feet.
- Low-light vision.
- +1 racial bonus on all saving throws. Sword elves are trained to resist hostile magics, traps, and other dangers of battle, but they have lost their inherent resistance to sleep spells and enchantment effects as a result.
- Weapon Proficiency (Ex): Sword elves are proficient with all simple and martial swords.
- Sword Mastery (Ex): Sword elves are highly trained in the use of a favored type of sword. They gain the Weapon Focus and Weapon Specialization feats with one weapon they are proficient with, even if they do not normally meet the prerequisites, and Combat Reflexes as an additional bonus feat to reflect their extensive martial training.
- Armor Familiarity (Ex): Sword elves are trained from a young age in the art of wearing armor, and they maintain their normal speed even when wearing medium or heavy armor (but not when carrying a medium or heavy load) and no longer have a maximum dexterity bonus. They also reduce armor check penalties by their Constitution modifier, and those trained in the arcane arts reduce their chance for arcane spell failure by 35%. (Ed. note: This allows sword elves to wear the fabled chainmail of the elves without penalty.)
- Tireless: A sword elf never suffers half the normal penalties from being fatigued.
- Combat Training (Ex): +2 racial bonus on Bluff, Intimidate, and Sense Motive checks.
- Automatic Languages: Common, Elven. Bonus Languages: Draconic, Orc, Sylvan, or any local or regional languages appropriate to their background.
- Favored Class: Fighter.
- Level Adjustment: +2.
Sword elves use the same aging effects and random height/weight tables as their parents, though due to their lifestyle they rarely live to see old age.