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This variant is a simple rule system that allows the abilities of weapons to improve along with those of their wielders. A character wielding a legendary weapon—whether that weapon is a sword, axe, bow, or even a magic staff—is eligible for one of the scion prestige classes presented below. As long as the wielder does not adopt the prestige class, the legendary weapon is simply a magic item with a small enhancement bonus (usually +1 or +2, or sometimes as high as +3 for truly powerful legendary weapons). But by taking levels in the prestige class, a character can unlock and utilize the weapon’s more advanced powers. Commonly, the wielder gains access to a suite of weapon-appropriate feats, special abilities tied to the weapon’s purpose, or even magical enhancements to the character’s own skills and abilities.
In every case, the scion prestige class associated with a particular weapon defines which of its abilities the wielder is eligible to benefit from. The descriptions of sample legendary weapons later in this section detail the specific abilities of each weapon. Thus, every scion is different, even with only four variations of the prestige class to choose from.
Scions come in as many varieties as there are legendary items, but each one falls into one of four distinct groupings based on the intended wielder of the item. Each sample weapon described in this section is tied to one of the following prestige classes (and the weapon description immediately follows the prestige class description).
Swift Scion: This class is for those who wield legendary weapons that make use of or improve the wielder’s stealth, speed, or dexterity (in the general sense). Rogues are excellent candidates for this class, as are bards, rangers, and the occasional monk.
Rules and Restrictions
None of the scion prestige classes grant a character any new weapon or armor proficiencies. Thus, it is entirely possible for a scion to be not proficient with his legendary weapon unless he independently takes the necessary weapon proficiency feat.
In addition to meeting the prerequisites for the appropriate prestige class (which are dictated by the weapons themselves), a character wishing to adopt a scion class must also abide by certain other rules and restrictions.
Weapon Specialization: A scion who does not meet the fighter level prerequisite for the Weapon Specialization feat may still select that feat, but only for the type of weapon (such as martial or exotic) that his legendary weapon is.
A scion who qualifies for the appropriate Weapon Specialization feat normally (that is, who has all the normal prerequisites for the feat) may select and apply the feat to any type of weapon.
Losing a Legendary Weapon: Legendary weapons should never become permanently lost, for fate has a way of bringing them back to their rightful wielders. On a more practical level, the loss of a legendary weapon means that the character who has invested levels in the associated prestige class is denied most of the class’s special abilities until the weapon is regained, because the abilities are specifically tied to the weapon. Thus, as the GM, you must try to ensure that the weapon and its wielder do not stay separated for long—unless, of course, the purpose of the adventure is to recover the weapon. In most cases, the weapon should turn up at the end of an encounter, or should be near enough at hand that the wielder need only make a reasonable effort to reclaim it.
Destroying a Legendary Weapon: Each legendary weapon has its own hardness and hit points. Treat the item as if it had a greater hardness and more hit points based on its maximum possible enhancement bonus, even if the wielder has not yet qualified to benefit from that high a bonus.
That said, under ordinary circumstances, legendary weapons do not break: Any attempt to sunder such an item automatically fails, and the weapon is treated as having immunity to all effects that could otherwise destroy it (such as a disintegrate spell, a dragon’s breath weapon, and so on).
If an attacker is foolish enough to attempt to sunder a legendary weapon, the combatants should still make the opposed attack rolls, however. If the scion wins, the scion may immediately deal damage to the attacker’s weapon as though the scion had initiated the attack.
The only exception to this rule is if the person attacking the legendary weapon is herself wielding a legendary weapon. In this case, the attacker may deal damage to the defender’s weapon if she wins the opposed attack roll. However, the defender also immediately makes his own sunder attempt against the attacker’s legendary weapon. If the defender wins this second opposed roll, he may deal damage to the attacker’s weapon—even if his own weapon was damaged or destroyed by the attacker.
Repairing a broken legendary weapon should never be easy. It should be the result of an epic quest, perhaps involving aid from other planes, arduous rituals, and perilous voyages.
Gaining Additional Legendary Weapons: If the wielder of a legendary weapon somehow gains another legendary weapon linked to the same scion prestige class, she may only use the weapon as would a character with no levels in the weapon’s associated prestige class, and she may not transfer the benefits of her scion levels to the new weapon. If she were to acquire a weapon linked to a different scion prestige class, she could begin advancing levels in the scion prestige class for that weapon, assuming that she meets the requirements.
The level of commitment that a legendary weapon demands from its wielder does not allow her to split her attention between two or more such weapons simultaneously. Thus, the owner of two legendary weapons must choose which commitment she wishes to focus on with each new character level, by virtue of her prestige class selection.
Ex-Scions: A wielder who no longer meets the prerequisites of his scion prestige class loses the ability to access the special abilities of his legendary weapon (as noted in the sample weapons below) that correspond to actual scion levels. He retains the basic features of the prestige class as given in its description (base attack bonus, base save bonuses, and even spellcaster levels, when appropriate), but the weapon supplies only the magical abilities it would grant to any wielder. Likewise, a scion who no longer possesses his legendary weapon (because of loss, destruction, theft, or some other reason) loses all the benefits that the weapon granted (though he still retains the basic features of the class). An ex-scion may not progress in the prestige class until he corrects the problem, either by once again meeting the requirements of the class or by regaining the weapon.
This restriction does not prevent a scion from taking levels in another class, or from using the abilities already gained as a scion while he does so. Unless the new class in some way violates the scion prerequisites (such as by requiring a different alignment), or the weapon’s description specifies penalties for advancing in another class, then the only drawback to pursuing a different class is that the scion is not gaining new powers from the weapon.