Disciple of the Bow (3.5e Prestige Class)

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Disciple of the Bow[edit]

I have but one life to give. If one of those Raksasha bastards goes with me when I die, then it was a Life well spent
—Brent, Gnomish Paladin

In ages past, the Dragons of Eberron waged a terrible war against the tyrannical Raksasha that ruled the world. The Raksasha, in their cities of iron, seemed indestructible until an entire race of dragons sacrificed themselves to banish the demon's home plane for all time. Unable to regroup, the demon were finally defeated and their stranglehold on the world was broken. However, not all of these demons were destroyed. Some went into hiding and slumbered through the eons, waiting for an opportunity to spread their evil once again. After their loss, the dragons decided to withdraw from the world and leave it for the lesser races, now free to create their own destiny. But first, to honor the sacrifice of their brethren, the dragons created a powerful weapon to combat the Rakshasa should any return. However, that weapon would need an equally powerful wielder in order to withstand the forces the bow would unleash. Knowing that only a dragon would have the ability to bring these powers to bear, they gave the Bow the power to infuse its wielder with the essence of a dragon. These Disciples of the Bow have popped up here and there through history, whenever one of the ancient Lords of Dust threatened to awaken, to aid the lesser races to turn the tide on these ancient demons.

Becoming a Disciple of the Bow[edit]

Character's do not so much pursue this class as the class chooses them. The Bow is not something that is found often and, once found, not something taken lightly. The bow demands a heavy price and not all chosen wielders will survive the Test of Acceptance. Once the character has completed the test, the path of transformation will open like a flower in the wielders head. The wielder may choose to follow this path and gain levels in the Disciple at any time he may otherwise gain a level.

Beyond that, the character just needs to be good with a longbow. Fighters and rangers are going to be the most logical choice as they will give the earliest access to the requisite and other supporting feats.

Entry Requirements
Alignment: Any non-evil.
Base Attack Bonus: +8
Feats: Martial Weapons Proficiency, Point Blank Shot.
Patron: Any LG deity of Sacrifice or honor.
Special: Disciple must spend an hour in prayer each morning to access his powers for the day, Disciple must complete the Test of Acceptance to gain levels in the class.
Table: The Disciple of the Bow

Hit Die: d12

Level Base
Attack Bonus
Saving Throws Special
Fort Ref Will
1st +1 +2 0 +2 Immune to sleep/paralysis, Darkvision 60ft, Natural Armor +2, Str +2, Con +2, Breath Weapon, Bow Attunement - Lesser
2nd +2 +3 0 +3 Natural Armor +2, Str +4, Dragon Transformation, Bow Attunment - Greater

Class Skills: Skill Points and Class Skills same as last class taken previously to any levels of Disciple of the Bow.

Class Features[edit]

All of the following are class features of the Disciple Of the Bow.

Abilities: At first level the Disciple of the Bow's ability increase by Str +2 and Con +2. At second level the Disciple's total Str bonus increases to +6.

Armor Class: At first level the Disciple of the Bow's Natural armor improves by +2. At second level this bonus increases to +4.

Bow Attunement - Lesser: At first level, when wielding the Bow of Dragon's Sorrow, the Disciple deals damage as if the Bow were a Large Composite Longbow. Additionally, the Disciple can summon the Bow from any point on the same Plane with a DC 13 Concentration check. The DC increases to 21 if the Disciple and the Bow are not on the same Plane. This check is a Full-Round Action that provokes an Attack of Opportunity.

Breath Weapon (Su): At first level the Disciple may produce a 40ft Line of Force, usable once per day. A Disciple's Breath Weapon deals 1d8 points of damage per 2 HD of the Disciple. A successful Reflex save (DC 10 + Disciple levels + Con modifier) reduces damage by half.

Special Qualities: A Disciple of the Bow gains darkvision out to 60 feet, as well as immunity to sleep and paralysis effects.

Bow Attunement - Greater: At second level, when wielding the Bow of Dragon's Sorrow, the Disciple deals damage as if the Bow were a Huge Composite Longbow. Additionally, all arrows fired from the Bow are treated as if made of pure Force.

Dragon Transformation: At second level the Disciple gains the ability to physically manifest the spirits of the Dragons locked within the Bow during times of need. Once per day, as a Full-Round Action, the Disciple may transform into a Large Dragon-like creature (Note: if the base creature is already Large or Larger, there is no increase in size). This transformation lasts for 3 + (the Disciples pre-transformation Con modifier) rounds. Str and Con both increase by +4 and the Disciple gains: Damage Reduction 10/Magic; an additional use of its Breath Weapon while transformed; and a Fly Speed of 120ft with an Average Maneuverability. Additionally, the Disciple gains a secondary Bite attack (1d6) or a Tailslap (1d4). The tail may additionally be used to trip adjacent opponents. This attempt is subject to the standard penalties and bonuses but the Disciple cannot be tripped on a failed attempt.

Test of Acceptance and The Sacrifice[edit]

In order to take the first level, a prospective Disciple must first complete a Test of Acceptance to prove he is capable of withstanding the forces his body and mind will encounter. This should be some sort of feat of extreme endurance and might, such a finding and slaying a White Pudding in the dead of winter single-handedly and without cold-resistance of any sort. The test may be arraigned by a temple or may be the subject of its own quest to determine what the test is.

The Sacrifice is needed to advance to the final level. This is something of substantial importance to the character and represents his willingness to sacrifice for the quest, as the Dragons of old did, up to and including his life. This may be some sort of item or treasure worth a certain amount of gold if the DM is feeling lazy, but really should represent a substantial and permanent loss to the character that cannot in anyway be restored. Good examples could be:

  • his left ear - bestowing him with a listening penalty.
  • an eye - interferes with aim though character could take some sort of blind-sense feat.
  • lame - leg becomes weak/useless, cut speed in half or trade strong reflex for weak, etc
  • frailty of body - trade a strong fort save for a weak save.
  • permanent loss of a class or racially given ability

Keep in mind that the Sacrifice cannot be restored, even by spells or items that mimic the lost ability, or all abilities granted by the Disciple class are lost until the character receives an Atonment spell. It should also be noted that the Bow is tied to a positive force and is unlikely to require the sacrifice of a characters first-born son or anything... not even a goat or small furry animals.


The Bow, though not possessed of its own innate intelligence, is guided by an unseen hand. It has come back into the world to accomplish a singular task, and when that task is finished, it must again become hidden to the annals of history. To this end, when the task is complete, the Bow will revoke its powers and the Disciple looses access to the Bow Attunement, Dragon Transformation, and breath weapon, although all other bonuses and powers remain intact. The Bow then reverts to its basic form. At this time most Disciples will generally lay down the Bow, either in a local temple or in a suitable resting place to wait until the next time it is needed. A few will choose to carry the Bow with them until death when it is laid to rest with the wielder or passed on to heirs who are charged with its safekeeping.

However, the favor of the Bow is not guaranteed. The Bow may revoke its choice at any time if the chosen warrior should ever fail to live up to its standards. Typically this means that the warriors alignment has changed to evil although other actions or circumstances may warrant the same punishment. Also, once chosen, a warrior may choose to renounce the Bow and forsake the quest appointed to him. In either case, the Bow chooses a new wielder and the old wielder looses two permanent levels as well as access to all bonuses, powers, and abilities granted by the Disciple of the Bow class. Additionally, the wielder is forever surrounded by an aura of shame. He suffers a -4 penalty to all social situations and all NPC's and animal's initial attitudes start one category closer to hostile. Nothing can remove this level loss or aura short of direct divine intervention by a God of Self-Sacrifice or something similar.

Campaign Information[edit]

Playing a Disciple of the Bow[edit]

A Disciple, first and foremost, has a mission. It may not be the primary focus at all times but it is the driving force in a Dsiciples life and all effort must be made to complete it. Playing a Disciple can be challenging and should not be undertaken lightly, however, it also has the potential for rich, story driven play.

Combat: In most combats, the Disciple will take the customary artillery support role that most archers occupy... albeit with a little more oomph. However, against any sort of outside the Disciple will likely become the primary damage dealing force as the true power of the Bow comes to bear.

Advancement: There are currently only 2 levels of Disciple so advancement is somewhat limited. However, any class that capitalizes on the powers granted by Disciple levels is a good choice. One advancement strategy could be to focus on more bow related feats and abilities so ranger and fighter make good choices.

Resources: Assistance depends on the campaign more than anything else. If the Disciple is associated with a particular church or temple, he can expect members of that organization the world wide to bend over backwards to aid his quest. However, if the Disciple is alone or in a small group, and no one else in the world is aware of the danger... he can probably expect little to no help.

Disciples of the Bow in the World[edit]

Disciples generally have a sorry lot in the world. They alone stand between ancient demons of immense power and the rest of the world. Kinda sucks I know, but you get to turn into a dragon right?

NPC Reactions: Unless the NPC is some sort of scholar or loremaster (or a bard), most NPC's are likely to have never heard of a Disciple of the Bow... let alone a Lord of Dust, ancient dragon sacrifices, or even Raksasha for that matter. The will probably be very impressed with the powers granted by the class, but that will probably be the extent of it.

Disciple of the Bow Lore[edit]

Characters with ranks in Knowledge: Arcana or Knowledge:Religion can research a Dsiciple of the Bow to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.

Knowledge: Arcana or Knowledge:Religion
DC Result
11 Folk tales sometimes feature heros of old who wield a bow against some evil menace.
16 This hero can channel the rage of dead dragons to fight against beings not of this plane.
21 A long time ago, many dragons gave their lives to contain an ancient evil. When this evil resurfaces, a champion of good with a magic bow and the spirit of a dragon appears to fight the threat.
26 Powerful Raksasha demons known as the Lords of Dust were long ago defeated but not destroyed by the sacrifice of an entire race of dragons. The dragons created a bow that would help to destroy any demons who found a way out by imbuing a warrior with the spirit of a Force Dragon.

Disciples of the Bow in the Game[edit]

Adaptation: If you have chosen to include this artifact in your game then you have obviously chosen to feature evil outsiders as your main villains and very little adaptation is needed. Keep in mind that the Bow and the Disciple work together to wreak holy hell apon and such evil outsider so you will likely have to bump up the CR of the encounter.

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