Drow Widowmaker (3.5e Prestige Class)

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Your motto is 'One shot, one kill, no exceptions.' Well, that's fancy and all, but I bet ye' can't pick the wings of a stirge at a hundred paces. I'd bet good coin that no one's that good a shot!
—Lagg Bragbottom, Dwarven Gambler, Moments before loosing a bet to a nearby Widowmaker

To some, the pursuit of archery is a good tool of beginning a fight or signaling a charge, but never a substitute to good steel; to the Widowmakers, the pursuit of archery is the pinnacle of martial combat. How can your opponent draw his sword when he is preoccupied with the arrow in his throat? Sometimes called the Right Hand of Lolth (or would that be hands?), the Drow that have earned the right to call themselves Widowmakers are the stuff of legends when it comes to accuracy with a bow. From the paladin returning triumphantly to his men from a field of battle, only to be dropped by a single shot weaved flawlessly through his armor, to the cumulative roar of a barbarian horde on the charge silenced as a hail of deadly arrow fire reins down upon them; Widowmakers are rarely seen more than once in a combat. Although they possess no magical means of stealth or invisibility, they are accustomed to waiting until the time is right to strike, and making sure that each shot counts. They regularly carve elaborate patterns into their arrows, giving each a nickname. This process makes the Widowmaker understand the value of each shot, ensuring that when the time is right, she will not falter and her aim will fly true.

Becoming a Widowmaker[edit]

On paper, the only requirements to becoming a Widowmaker are the appropriate level of skill with a bow, however this is not the case. All prospective Widowmakers must complete a trial of spirit, conducted in secret by the veteran members. Initiates are taken away in the black of night and blindfolded, left alone in the wild with nothing but a bow, three arrows, and a piece of parchment. The parchment reads "survive." Most initiates either flee or die on the spot, their heavy footsteps and wails for parental and pious protection attracting the local residents. Unseen, unknown, uncompromised. These are the three lessons of the Widowmaker. The first is easy enough for most, and a test of stealth is quickly either passed or failed in the forest. The second test requires initiates to abandon their name and sever all ties to their previous life. They are now a new weapon of Lolth, and are given a new name accordingly. They do not have friends, they do not become attached to anyone -- they are tools of war. The third test is the most important of the three. It requires the initiate to follow a kill order from scouting, preparation, placement, and execution. Successful elimination of their target results in immediate acceptance into the order. Being spotted by anyone, or leaving any clues of who took the shot results in a lifetime ban from the Widowmakers -- and immediate execution.

The sleepless hours spent in wait, hanging from a branch or lying beneath brush require a calm and collected mind. Only a Drow whose hands are steady and whose breathing controlled can make the cut and be called true Widowmakers. Those that let emotions guide their path are best suited to a life elsewhere, preferably some place far away or underneath a head of stone.

Entry Requirements
Alignment: Any non-chaotic.
Base Attack Bonus: +5

Human, Elven, Half Elf|-

Skills: Hide 4 ranks, Move Silently 4 ranks, Spot 4 ranks.
Feats: Far Shot, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Weapon Focus (any bow, crossbows excluded).
Special: Trialists must survive the three tests, outlined above. These tests are up to the DM's discretion but should emphasize: Unseen, unknown, uncompromised.

Table: The Widowmaker

Hit Die: d6

Level Base
Attack Bonus
Saving Throws Special
Fort Ref Will
1st +1 +0 +2 +0 Keen Arrows, Take Aim, Range +5 ft/level
2nd +2 +0 +3 +0 Safe Poison Use
3rd +3 +1 +3 +1 Close Combat Shot
4th +4 +1 +4 +1 Impairing Shot, Light as a Feather (-1)
5th +5 +1 +4 +1 Improved Take Aim
6th +6 +2 +5 +2 Meld With Shadows
7th +7 +2 +5 +2 Returning the Favor
8th +8 +2 +6 +2 Light as a Feather (-2)
9th +9 +3 +6 +3 Pushing It Past the Limit
10th +10 +3 +7 +3 Perfect Aim

Class Skills (4 + Int modifier per level)
Balance (Dex), Climb (Str), Craft (bowmaking) (Int), Hide (Dex), Jump (Str), Knowledge (Nature), Knowledge (Tactics), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Ride (Dex), Search (Int), Spot (Wis), Survival (Wis), Tumble (Dex), and Use Rope (Dex).

Class Features[edit]

All of the following are class features of the Widowmaker.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Widowmakers do not gain any weapon or armor proficiency, however, none of a Widowmaker's class abilities can be used if he is wearing medium or heavy armor.

Keen Arrows (Ex): At 1st level, any bow wielded by the Widowmaker is considered 'Keen' in addition to any other properties they might have. This effect does not stack with any other keen effect (or the Improved Critical feat).

Take Aim (Ex): At 1st level, a Widowmaker is able to make a single, deadly attack as a full attack action. For each additional attack not taken in this way, the Widowmaker adds +2 bonus on her attack roll and +2 damage. Thus, a level 5 Fighter, 7 Widowmaker (BAB +12/+7/+2) would be able to make a single attack as a full attack action using Take Aim at a +16(+ any additional modifiers) and deal an additional +4 damage (and be able to make a 5 foot step movement as usual). At level 5 this ability increases to a +3 bonus on attack roll and damage.

Improved Range Increment (Ex): Starting at level 1, with each level the Widowmaker gains, the range increments of her projectile weapons (bows only) increase by +5 feet (added after all multipliers). Thus, a 10th-level Widowmaker who has the Far Shot feat would have a range increment of 200 feet with a longbow (100 feet x 1.5 + 50 feet).

Safe Poison Use (Ex): At 2nd level, a Widowmaker can use poison without any chance of poisoning herself (see Perils of Using Poison in Chapter 3 of the Dungeon Master's Guide).

Close Combat Shot (Ex): At 3rd level, facing an opponent in sword range is never ideal, but the situation sometimes occurs. All Widowmakers can attack with a ranged weapon while in a threatened square without provoking an attack of opportunity.

Impairing Shot (Ex): At 4th level, 1 day/Intelligence modifier (minimum 1) when you use the Take Aim class ability, you may choose to also use an Impairing Shot. You must also declare which vital spot you are aiming for: Hand, Foot, or Throat, and makes an attack roll as normal. If the attack hits, the arrow deals half damage and is lodged in a vital location on your foe who must make a Fortitude Save DC = 10 + 1/2 class lvl + Dex modifier or suffer the consequences. The impairments cause by this ability end after 24 hours have passed or a successful DC 15 Heal check or the application of any cure spell or other magical healing is made. A failed save for an Impairing Shot:

  • Hand: the target suffers a -4 on all attack rolls involving that hand and also results in opposed disarm checks (enemy's attack roll versus widowmaker's initial attack roll).
  • Foot: the target's base speed is reduced by half.
  • Throat: the target is silenced. The target cannot speak. They can attempt to cast spells with verbal components if they make a Concentration Check DC 15 + Widowmaker level + spell level.

Living creatures without discernible anatomies are immune, such as undead, constructs, oozes, plants, and incorporeal creatures lacking such vital areas to attack. Any creature immune to critical hits are also immune to Impairing Shot. A Widowmaker must be able to see the target well enough to pick out a vital spot and be able to target such a spot. This ability cannot be used on an opponent who has concealment or who's vital region is out of reach.

Light as a Feather (Ex): At 4th level, Widowmakers learn how to move silently in even clunky, restrictive armor. Any armor a Widowmaker is proficient with and is wearing has its Armor Check penalty reduced by 1 (to a minimum of 0) and increases its Dexterity Bonus by 1. At level 8, the Armor Check penalty reduced by by an additional 1 (to a minimum of 0) and increases its Dexterity Bonus by an additional 1.

Meld With Shadows (Su): At 6th level, Widowmaker's are treated as having the Hide in Plain Sight ability of the Shadowdancer prestige class (Dungeon Master's Guide). This ability only functions when the Widowmaker is within 10 feet of a shadow (as with the Shadowdancer) and inside a non urban environment.

Returning the Favor (Ex): At 7th level, the Widowmaker's reflexes allow her to respond to enemy archers. When successfully struck in combat by a ranged projectile, the Widowmaker gets an Attack of Opportunity against the foe who shot her if she can see the target. She can make a spot check (DC DM appropriate) if necessary. A Widowmaker may use this ability a number of times per day equal to Intelligence modifier (minimum once per day). This attack counts as an attack of opportunity, so only one may be made a round (unless the character possess Combat Reflexes).

Very long Shot (Ex): At 9th level, her maximum range increments on ranged weapons are doubled. For example, the same Widowmaker as before with a range increment of 200 feet on a longbow would normally be able to fire at up to 2000 feet away (incurring a -20 penalty for distance) can now instead fire accurately up to 4000 feet away (2000x2). Although impressive, it would likely miss, as it would incur a -40 penalty for being 15 range increments away. When firing this way, the Widowmaker may use her Take Aim when taking a full attack action, but only if she can clearly see the target (for example: along a flat plain and with a successful spot check, and of course a DM's ruling).

Perfect Aim (Ex): At 10th level, the Widowmaker is able to take a shot that improbable shots and still strike true. A number of times per day equal to her Intelligence modifier (minimum once per day), when the Widowmaker takes a single shot (e.g. Take Aim), she ignores all range increment penalties. In addition, she ignores any redirect, deflect or intercept that might influence the final target of her shot (Shield of Arrow Snatching, Wind Wall, a Knight's Shield Ally ability, etc). Finally, for each full round she spends focusing on her target, her aim becomes sharper and her arrow hits harder. For each full round spent doing nothing but aiming at her target, she gets +10 to the attack roll, deals an additional die of damage, deals additional Take Aim damage (if it would be applied), and increases the critical range, up to a maximum of three rounds. Three full rounds of aiming, followed by a fourth of attacking, would net the following: +30 to hit, +3 die of damage, +(3x Take Aim bonus damage), +3 critical range).

For example, Vaiska (who has a BAB of +17/+12/+7/+2) is taking a fleeting shot at her lifelong rival, Grixx, who is cowardly retreating from the battlefield. As he rides away, she spends two rounds aiming, using Take Aim and arching her bow up slowly to gauge the correct distance. At the start of the third round, she fires. The attack roll would be as follows 1d20+9(Take Aim)+20(Perfect Aim)+(Vaiska's personal modifiers). The shot would threaten on a critical of 17-20/x3, because she aimed for two rounds and increased the threat range from 19-20 to 17-20. When she rolls damage, it would be: 3d8+27(3 dice + 3x Take Aim)+(11)Vaiska's personal modifiers. Vaiska scores a hit but does not critical, her dice do not favor her today, and she only deals 41 damage; Grixx escaping to torment her another day.


"What is the point of having all this potential if I don't use it for myself? I use it for our Queen, I use it for our King, but never for myself. Well enough is enough, I am taking what's rightfully mine!"

Although Ex-Widowmakers are not unheard-of, they are quite rare. This has only occurred a handful of times, when initiates have escaped a botched test unharmed. However in these cases, they are quickly hunted down. If a Widowmaker openly assaults the order or acts un-accordingly (GM's discretion), they are prohibited from progressing further in the class although they retain all of their previously granted abilities.

Campaign Information[edit]

Playing a Widowmaker[edit]

Combat: The best Widowmakers are played like the best rogues, out of sight until they are ready to be seen. However, unlike rogues, the best place for a Widowmaker is as far from the action as possible. Likely out ranging most other characters (with the exception of spellcasters), you have to play a tricky game between being at a safe distance so that you are out of range of enemy attacks but still within range of team mates in case you are attacked from behind. As you work with your party, try to find which distance best suits your needs, adjusting to the situation as required. Outside of combat, you serve as an excellent scout and forward informant, relaying information back to your group. Use your stealth and range as much as possible, fighting up close only as a last resort and never alone.

Advancement: Many Widowmakers stay in the prestige class until completion, after level 10, however, many find it hard to find a suitable next step. I suggest looking into the scout, ranger, or fighter, as any of them supplement your ability set quite well.

Adventuring: Adventuring Widowmakers tend to stick to intelligent, combat oriented groups where their knowledge of warfare and abilities will be best put to work. Many will travel with a party for months, or even years, leaving without a parting word and returning some time later, as if nothing strange has occurred. Occasionally, adventuring Widowmakers will be called back to fight in their original regiment in times of war, although usually finding them in the first place serves to be more than a challenge.

Widowmaker's in the World[edit]

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Widowmakers in the Game[edit]

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