General Prestige Class : Branch Dancer
by Michael Means, Dragon #310
Elves, fey creatures, and others who spend a great deal of time in the verdant depths of ancient forests develop a kinship with the forests main resident: trees. They learn to listen to trees, befriend them, and fight alongside them in their defense. These supple arboreal warriors are known as branch dancers, and they fight allied with trees as much as they fight to defend them.
Elves pioneered this discipline, but they are not stingy with its secrets. Anyone who qualifies for the class, and acts in a forests defense can learn to be a branch dancer. Rangers' commonly become branch dancers, and rogues make excellent branch dancers with appropriate multiclassing, as do druids and bards. Monks sometimes walk this path, as the solitude in the forest suits their discipline. Other classes do not fare as well.
Branch dancers dress for stealth and comfort, adorning their clothes with bark and twigs from their home forests. NPC branch dancers are usually committed to the protection of a particular forest or grove. They live their lives in the canopy layer, and some have not touched the ground in years. Given their ability to duck behind trees and even disappear within them, branch dancers are often mistaken for fey creatures.
Those who serve under leaders are sometimes sent to serve as tokens of esteem or honor guards to other forests throughout the world. Their service is "gifted" for a period of time: elven branch dancers are usually sent with a seed, and remain until the tree reaches maturity. Races with shorter life spans are typically given shorter service periods. Branch dancers are also occasionally sent to counter specific threats to a forest, and they remain until the threat is removed.
To qualify to become a Branch Dancer, a character must fulfill all the following criteria:
- Alignment: any non-evil
- Skills: Balance 5 ranks, Climb 5 ranks, Knowledge (nature) 5 ranks
- Feats: Track,
- Special: Must receive the blessing of a treant for heroism in defense of a forest; must receive 3 months training under another branch dancer.
Skill Points at Each Level: 4 + Int modifier.
All the following are class features of the branch dancer prestige class.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Branch dancers gain proficiency with simple weapons and all bows. They gain proficiency with light armor, but not shields.
Skill Mastery (Ex): After months of intense training among the trees, the branch dancer becomes so assured of the use of certain skills that she can use them reliably even under adverse conditions. When making a Climb, Balance, Jump, Move Silently, or Survival check even if stress and distractions would normally prevent her from doing so.
Branch Fighting (Ex): At 1st level, the branch dancer can fight using the branches and trunk of a tree. The character essentially gains "tree" as an exotic weapon proficiency. As long as she is within 5 feet of some part of a living tree, she may use its branches as a bludgeoning weapon that deals 1d8 points of damage. The branch dancer may also use the tree as a double weapon that deals 1d8 points of damage with both ends. Additionally, the branch dancer may use the tree as cover.
Speak to Trees (Sp): Twice per day a branch dancer can use speak with plants as a spell-like ability to speak with trees. This ability has a duration 1 minute and allows the user to speak only with trees, no other plants.
Instant Fletching (Sp): At 2nd level, as part of the branch dancers heightened affinity for trees, she may draw arrows directly from a tree's surface. The arrows have wooden arrowheads, but they act as arrows for all purposes when used by a branch dancer. Each 20 arrows drawn from a tree reduces its age by one year. Trees generally do not mind this, but the ability can kill a sapling or weaken a young tree with repeated use, so it is generally reserved for mature trees (usually of Huge size or larger). Drawing an arrow from a tree is a free action.
At 4th level, any arrows created this way act as +1 arrows.
Moss Foot (Sp): Twice per day, the branch dancer may stick to wooden surface as if under the effects of a spider climb spell cast by a 10th-level sorcerer. The branch dancer may move at full speed when using this ability. No matter how thin or fragile the wood, the branch dancer can walk on it safely, and the tree will not shake or tremble because of her movement. In addition, a branch dancer gains a +5 circumstance bonus to Move Silently checks when moving on a tree.
Although this ability is mainly used to maintain footing on tree, its power may be used on any object made from trees, such as a ship's masts, a ceiling beam, or the side of wooden buildings.
Improved Branch Fighting (Ex): At 4th level, because of her practice using trees as weapons and cover, a branch dancer's damage with a tree increases to 1d10 points of damage that may be either bludgeoning or piercing damage. In addition, she may strike with it as if it were a +1 weapon.
Tree Stride (Sp): Twice per day, a branch dancer can enter trees and move from inside one tree to inside another tree as per the tree stride spell cast by a druid of 9th level.
|Branch Dancer||Hit Die: d8|
|2nd||+2||+0||+3||+0||Speak to trees, instant fletching|
|3rd||+3||+1||+3||+1||Moss Foot, skill mastery|
|4th||+4||+1||+4||+1||Improved branch fighting, instant fletching (+1 arrows)|
Source: Dragon #310