Prestige Paths

Elite elven archers train in techniques that blend bow and spell in ways that other races cannot master. Folk across the worlds speak in whispers of the shadowdancers, who pledge their souls to fiends of darkness in exchange for powers of stealth and shadow. The chosen of the orcish gods bind themselves to spirit guides that grant them visions and mystical powers of rage.

A prestige path is a set of unique abilities that can be gained only through special circumstances, such as being taught by the masters at a particular monastery, undergoing a specific ritual, training with an elite military unit in a certain nation’s army, or something similar. In game terms, prestige paths are packages of character options (such as feats and skill tricks) that are united by a single theme, and have special requirements (such as race or group affiliation) for taking them.

The special prerequisites of prestige paths generally have implications, requirements, and consequences in the campaign world. These may include actions that a character must take, missions or quests that must be completed, obligations gained, or effects on a character’s reputation and on the way that various people and organizations deal with the character. (For these reasons, the special requirements of prestige paths will not be waived.) Prestige paths are typically associated with a specific group or class of individuals; thus, practitioners of prestige paths are often known, to people in the campaign world, as members of the group or affiliation in question.

Note: Creating a character who, at character creation, already has the benefits of a prestige path is not permitted, even if the character formally meets the requirements listed. Entry into a prestige path must always be earned in the course of play (which usually includes proving one’s worth to the relevant group or organization).

The feats, skill tricks, and other character options that make up each prestige path may be taken at any time and in any order, as long as the listed requirements are satisfied. They are gained in the same way as non-prestige versions of each kind of character option: prestige path feats can be chosen in place of any normal feat gained at every odd character level, etc. It is not necessary to take all the options in a prestige path; taking the first prestige path ability, or any other ones, does not commit the character to going any further down the path. (On the other hand, abandoning or ignoring one’s membership or affiliation with a particular group or organization may have consequences.) Some prestige paths may even have multiple (either totally separate or partially overlapping) “chains” of abilities, which represent different aspects or approaches to the prestige path, different specializations within the same group or discipline, etc.

A character can take abilities from more than one prestige path, although conflicting affiliations, mutually exclusive racial requirements, and similar considerations usually make that difficult or impossible.

There are many organizations that teach exclusive abilities to their members, and many groups of people that have access to unique sources of power, so other prestige paths exist in the worlds, besides the ones listed here. (The requirements of some prestige paths, or the consequences of taking them, may make them inaccessible to some or all player characters.)

Arcane Archer

Arcane archers make up elite units in the armies of elven nations across the worlds. They may also serve as snipers or "artillery" attached to main-line forces, or carry out assassinations of key targets. (Units that employ, or consist of, arcane archers are one of the prime reasons that the elves are so feared in battle.) Elven stories also speak of wandering warrior-heroes, some among whom have been arcane archers. Many arcane archers gain renown throughout entire kingdoms for their supernatural accuracy with a bow and their ability to imbue their arrows with magic.

Only elves and half-elves can become arcane archers; other races do not possess the innate talent for magic and bow required for this discipline. To become an arcane archer, a character must receive training with a special unit of an elven military. Such units are typically highly selective, and may have special requirements for entry. A newly trained arcane archer may have to complete a term of service with the unit, or may be required to go on special missions for the elven army.

The path of the arcane archer includes the following abilities.

Enhance Arrows [feat]

You can draw upon your arcane might to enhance your arrows in various ways.

Prerequisites: Elf or half-elf; ability to cast arcane spells; Arcane Strike, Elven Accuracy, Weapon Focus with bows; must have completed arcane archer training.

Benefit: When you use Arcane Strike to imbue your bow with power, instead of granting your bow a bonus to damage for one round, you may choose to enhance your bow with one of the following qualities. Each enhancement lasts for the rest of the day (as a long buff). (The enhanced ability to penetrate damage reduction still lasts for one round only.) Unless specified otherwise, you may have any number of the following enhancements active at the same time. You may dismiss any enhancement as a standard action.

Each of the enhancements listed below requires expending a particular kind of spell. Prepared spellcasters must expend a prepared spell of the specified sort, while spontaneous spellcasters must use a spell slot which they could have used to cast a spell of that sort. In any case, only arcane spells or spell slots may be used.

Improved Enhance Arrows [feat]

You can grant additional weapon qualities to your bow.

Prerequisites: Enhance Arrows (and all prerequisites thereof).

Benefit: You learn to grant more powers to your bow. When you take this feat, select two of the enhancements listed below, which are now added to the list of weapon qualities you can bestow using Enhance Arrows.

(list to be decided)

Special: You can take this feat multiple times. Each time you take it, you select two other weapon enhancements from the list. You can only select each power once.

Imbue Arrow [feat]

You can imbue an area spell into an arrow.

Prerequisites: Enhance Arrows (and all prerequisites thereof).

Benefit: You gain the ability to place an area spell upon an arrow. When the arrow is fired, the spell’s area is centered where the arrow lands, even if the spell could normally be centered only on the caster. This ability allows you to use the bow’s range rather than the spell’s range. You can also (terrain and conditions permitting) fire in an arc in order to place the spell’s area beyond obstructions or similar; use the indirect-fire rules for siege weapons in that case.

A spell cast in this way uses its standard casting time and you can fire the arrow as part of the casting. The arrow must be fired during the round that the casting is completed or the spell is wasted.

Improved Imbue Arrow [feat]

You can imbue more kinds of spells into an arrow.

Prerequisites: Enhance Arrows (and all prerequisites thereof), Imbue Arrow.

Benefit: You can imbue any spell that has a single target, or has a range of touch, or requires an attack roll, into an arrow. If the arrow hits, the spell takes effect as though the creature or object struck by the arrow was the target of the spell (or was hit by the spell, in the case of spells that require attack rolls). All other limitations and rules described in the Imbue Arrow feat still apply.

Seeker Arrow [feat]

Your arrows can find their target without the benefit of line of sight.

Prerequisites: Enhance Arrows (and all prerequisites thereof).

Benefit: You can launch an arrow at a target known to you within range, and the arrow travels to the target, even around corners. Only an unavoidable obstacle or the limit of the arrow’s range prevents the arrow’s flight. This ability negates cover and concealment modifiers, but otherwise the attack is rolled normally. Using this ability is a standard action (and shooting the arrow is part of the action).

You must expend a divination spell of 3rd level or higher as part of using this ability, or you must have viewed or perceived the target with a divination power within a minute prior to firing the arrow. Wards or circumstances that protect against divination (such as mind blank) also prevent a target from being acquired by a seeker arrow.

Phase Arrow [feat]

You can launch an arrow that passes through obstructions.

Prerequisites: Enhance Arrows (and all prerequisites thereof), Imbue Arrow, Seeker Arrow.

Benefit: You can launch an arrow at a target known to you within range, and the arrow travels to the target in a straight path, passing through any physical barrier or wall in its way. (A wall of force or similar barrier stops the arrow.) This ability negates cover, concealment, armor, and shield modifiers, but otherwise the attack is rolled normally. Using this ability is a standard action (and shooting the arrow is part of the action).

You must expend a divination spell of 3rd level or higher as part of using this ability, or you must have viewed or perceived the target with a divination power within a minute prior to firing the arrow. Wards or circumstances that protect against divination (such as mind blank) also prevent a target from being acquired by a seeker arrow. You must also expend one of the following spells: blink, phase door, passwall, ethereal jaunt, etherealness, or any similar spell.

Arrow of Death [feat]

You can create an arrow that slays its target instantly.

Prerequisites: Enhance Arrows (and all prerequisites thereof), Imbue Arrow, Improved Imbue Arrow.

Benefit: You can create a special type of slaying arrow that forces the target, if damaged by the arrow’s attack, to make a Fortitude save or be slain immediately. Even succeeding at the saving throw leaves the target with two permanent negative levels, which are as difficult to remove as a curse; the caster level for this effect is equal to your character level.

It takes 1 day to make a slaying arrow, and the arrow only functions for you. The slaying arrow lasts no longer than 1 year, and you can only have one such arrow in existence at a time. The process of creating the arrow requires you to cast a death spell of 5th level or higher; the spell does not have its normal effects, but is instead imbued into the arrow.

The DC of the save against the arrow is equal to 20 + your spellcasting ability modifier for the spellcasting progression from which the death spell you cast came, plus any other modifiers that would apply to the spell. Spell resistance is not effective against the arrow's effects, nor are protections such as death ward or a scarab of protection.

Assassin

Secret orders of assassins, death cults, and similar shadowy groups that elevate quiet murder to an unholy art inspire terror in the hearts of common folk across the worlds. No simple killers for hire, assassins usually treat their methods and their actions as having religious significance and purpose.

While many kingdoms and cities have guilds of “assassins” (which may be more or less tolerated, or even legally sanctioned, depending on the society), the professional “hit men” employed by such businesses may use any number of techniques, from martial prowess to magic to poison, to carry out their contracts. This prestige path, on the other hand, represents the much less common sort of organization that teaches specific, mystical assassination techniques to practitioners of the art. Such groups may adhere to a particular faith or dogma, and may have a specific agenda or goals that are dictated by their beliefs. Such orders or cults may accept only those who believe as they do, and usually require those whom they induct into their ranks to pledge their devotion to the group and its beliefs. The assassins’ training may also include religious indoctrination and study.

The path of the assassin includes the following abilities.

Assassin rogue talents

Death Attack (Ex) [rogue talent]

You can slay or paralyze your victim with a single, well-prepared strike.

Prerequisites: Sudden strike class feature; Stealth? 5 ranks; trained by experienced assassin.

Benefit: If you study your victim for 3 rounds and then make a sudden strike attack that successfully deals damage, the attack is more effective, either dealing greater damage or paralyzing the target (your choice). Studying the victim is a standard action.

If you choose to do greater damage with the death attack, the sudden strike damage multiplier is increased by 1.

If you choose to paralyze your target, the victim must make a Fortitude save (DC 10 + 12 your rogue (class group) level + your Int modifier). If the saving throw fails, the victim is rendered helpless and unable to act for a number of rounds equal to 1d6 plus the sudden strike’s damage multiplier. If the victim’s saving throw succeeds, the attack simply deals damage as normal.

In either case, once you have completed the 3 rounds of study, you must make the death attack within the next 3 rounds.

After attempting a death attack (regardless of whether it is successful), or if you do not launch the attack within 3 rounds of completing the study, 3 new rounds of study are required before you can attempt another death attack.

True Death (Su) [rogue talent]

Opponents slain by your death attack are harder to resurrect.

Prerequisites: Death attack (and all prerequisites thereof).

Benefit: Anyone slain by an assassin’s death attack becomes more difficult to bring back from the dead. Spellcasters attempting to bring a creature back from the dead using raise dead? or similar magic take a −10 penalty on their resurrection check (as if the victim was slain by death magic). A scarab of protection, worn by the victim at the time the death attack is made, negates this effect, as do magical effects such as death ward?.

Quiet Death (Ex); [rogue talent]

You can kill your target without anyone seeing you.

Prerequisites: Death attack (and all prerequisites thereof).

Benefit: Whenever an assassin kills a creature using his death attack during a surprise round, he can also make a Stealth? check, opposed by Spot checks of those in the vicinity, to prevent them from identifying him as the assailant. If successful, those nearby might not even notice that the target is dead for a few moments, allowing the assassin to avoid detection.

Angel of Death (Su) [rogue talent]

Your death attack utterly destroys your victim’s body.

Prerequisites: Death attack (and all prerequisites thereof), true death, rogue (class group) level 10th.

Benefit: The assassin becomes a master of death. Once per day, when the assassin makes a successful death attack that kills his target, he can cause the target’s body to crumble to dust. This prevents the use of raise dead? and resurrection?. True resurrection? works as normal, although even then, the spellcaster attempting to bring back the victim takes twice the normal penalty on his resurrection check (a total "state of the body" modifier of −20). A scarab of protection, death ward?, or a similar effect halves this penalty.

The assassin must declare the use of this ability before the attack is made. If the attack misses or fails to kill the victim for any reason, this ability is wasted with no effect.

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Prestige Paths