Bearer of the Ancestral Weapon
What do you think, Grandfather?
Hmmm...the left flank is well-guarded, my child, but at the expense of the right. If we strike swiftly from that grove of trees, we will be victorious.
I concur. Do think the tribe's witch doctor will be a threat?
Nay. When he makes himself known, I shall strike him with magical silence.
Fair enough. What about-
"HEY!" interrupted Rokor the Barbarian. "Are you just aboot dun starin' at yer bow, ya loony?"
Elhoin looked at his companion with a cold glare. Turning back to the intricate carvings on his ancient elven weapon, he mentally apologized to his ancestor: Do not mind him, Grandfather. He does not understand.
Yes, I see, responded the bow telepathically. He is young, child, but so are you. Only with my aid will you defeat this foe today.
Of course, honored ancestor. Now, shall we discuss possible...
The barbarian sat down on a rock and sighed. All the time, just looking at his bow.
Elves. Go figure.
To many champions, the greatest honor is to follow in the footsteps of one of their ancestors, particularly one that was him- or herself a great hero. They often choose to wield a weapon of power that their progenitor used in one or more historic battles. Some might even choose to turn their magical skills to the task of using the weapon as a power focus, improving their combat power by honoring their ancestor's blade.
Those that bear an Ancestral Weapon also use it as a mystical connection to the spirit of their dead ancestor. As they master the magic of crafting magical weapons, they slowly increase the power and clarity of the channeling, until the ancestor's soul inhabits the weapon permanently. The voice of the ancestor can thus dispense advice and aid to his descendant, strengthening the family legacy.
Bearers of Ancestral Weapons often put more stock in the voice from their weapon than that of their comrades. They are often loners, relying solely on their weapon for backup, but those whose ancestors are particularly personable might find both of them are accepted into an adventuring party as equals.
Bearer of the Ancestral Weapon
To qualify to become a bearer of the Ancestral Weapon, a character must fulfill all of the following criteria:
Craft (weaponsmithing): 8 ranks
Feats: Craft Magical Arms and Armor, Weapon Focus (selected weapon; see below).
Spellcasting: Ability to cast greater magic weapon.
Proficiency: Proficient in selected weapon.
Special: In order to pursue the path of the Ancestral Weapon, you must acquire a masterwork weapon that was used regularly by at least one of your deceased ancestors; all feat prerequisites must match the selected weapon.
The bearer of the Ancestral Weapon's class skills (and the key ability score for each) are Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Knowledge (arcana) (Int), Knowledge (history) (Int), Knowledge (religion) (Int), Listen (Wis), Profession (Wis), Spellcraft (Int), Spot (Wis), Use Magic Device (Cha).
Skill Points per Level: 2 + Intelligence bonus.
Hit Dice: d8
Weapon and Armor Proficiencies: The bearer of the Ancestral Weapon gains no additional weapon or armor proficiencies.
Spellcasting: At 1st level and at every even-numbered level, the bearer of the Ancestral Weapon increases in spellcasting ability as if she had gained a level in a spellcasting class to which she had already belonged. She gains no other benefits of an increased level in that class, such as bonus metamagic feats. If she belonged to more than one spellcasting class, she must choose one at 1st level to which she must apply all spellcasting increases granted by this class.
Ancestral Weapon (Su): Starting at 1st level, the bearer learns to use her heirloom weapon as a channel for the spirit of her dead ancestor, granting the object increasing magical power as the bearer advances and achieves deeper levels of meditation. The maximum power of the enchantment is equal to her class level, so that at 1st level, she can grant her weapon a +1 enhancement bonus, while at 10th level, she could enchant it with powers up to the cost equivalent of +10 (such as a +5 holy keen flaming burst longsword). The bearer must still fulfill any prerequisites for enchanting the weapon with a specific power, such as alignment or the casting of a specific spell, but she need spend no gold or XP to complete the crafting. The process takes the same amount of time as normal, however. The bearer of the Ancestral Weapon may repeatedly enchant her weapon as she advances in level, improving the weapon as one would add enhancements to an already magical weapon. Once the bearer has spent the required time meditating on the weapon, it is permanently magical, even if it leaves the bearer's hands.
If the weapon used to fulfill the "Special" prerequisite for this class is already magical, the bearer may not further enhance the weapon's power until her class level exceeds its current total "plusses". The bearer may only have one Ancestral Weapon at a time; if it is destroyed, she must locate another heirloom that belonged to one or more of her ancestors and begin the process anew. If the new weapon belonged to a different ancestor, the DM is free to have a different spirit possess it, thus altering the lesser and greater powers gained via the spirit (below) to fit the new spirit.
Unity of Purpose (Su): The magic of the Ancestral Weapon is such that the weapon wants to remain whole and in its descendant's hand. Add the bearer's class level to opposed attack rolls to resist attempts to disarm the weapon from her. The weapon cannot be sundered while it is wielded by the bearer, though it can be damaged or even destroyed while unattended or in the hands of another.
Greater Unity (Su):By 7th level, whenever the weapon is separated from the bearer, she can sense its direction by concentrating for a full round. She cannot sense the weapon if it lies on another plane.
Spirit of the Ancestor (Su): As the bearer learns to channel her ancestor, the previous owner's spirit comes to reside in the weapon itself. Starting at 2nd level, the Ancestral Wow becomes an intelligent magical item; the bearer does not need to spend any time, money, or XP for this metamorphosis to occur. The ancestor has difficulty manifesting its will at first, but as the bearer continues her meditations and follows the path of the weapon, the spirit gains in power. Eventually, the weapon takes on the full personality and memories of the ancestor. The bearer presumably attempts to contact an ancestor of similar tendencies as her own; the spirit's alignment is thus always within one step of that of the bearer herself. However, the ancestor may have its own ideas on how to solve problems, and might even attempt to take control of the bearer if their views differ sharply on an issue. The weapon's Ego score is equal to that of a weapon with the sum of its accumulated powers. The DM should fully detail the ancestor's history and personality as he or she would any NPC, and play them appropriately.
The spirit of the ancestor gains the following powers:
- Empathy (Su): Starting at 2nd level, the weapon can communicate via empathy, pulsing or throbbing to indicate approval or dissent while the bearer wields it.
- Speech (Su): By 4th level, the spirit learns to speak aloud, learning one language per point of Intelligence bonus (and gaining an additional language whenever the spirit's Intelligence raises).
- Telepathy (Su): At 8th level, the Ancestral Weapon has mastered telepathy, and can communicate with its bearer silently while within 30 feet. Either the bearer or the sword can initiate telepathic communication as a free action on their turn.
- Score Increase (Ex): The spirit of the weapon begins at 2nd level with two mental ability scores of 12 and one of 10; the DM allocates these between Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma as he sees fit. Whenever the bearer reaches a level where a score increase is indicated, the DM increases any two of these ability scores by +1, permanently.
- Senses (Ex): As the spirit becomes more adept at channeling itself through the heirloom, its ability to perceive the world increases. Its vision and hearing ranges increase, and it gains first darkvision, then blindsense, both of which continue to improve as well.
- Skill Points (Ex): The weapon gains skill points equal its Intelligence bonus whenever the bearer raises her class level. The DM may spend these skill points on the following skills: Intimidate, Decipher Script, Knowledge (any), Search, Spot, Listen, Spellcraft, Sense Motive, Bluff, and Diplomacy. The weapon has maximum ranks equal to three more than the bearer's class level.
- Lesser Power (Sp): Whenever the spirit gains a lesser power, the DM chooses any one 1st or 2nd level spell; the Ancestral Weapon may now activate that spell as a spell-like ability, three times per day. The power should reflect the personality and nature of the ancestor inhabiting the weapon; the tables for random determination of an intelligent item's lesser powers may be used instead. The spirit uses its highest ability score to determine the saving throw DC, if necessary, and the caster level is equal to the bearer's class level.
- Greater Power (Sp): Whenever the spirit gains a greater power, the DM chooses any one 3rd or 4th level spell; the Ancestral Weapon may now activate that spell as a spell-like ability, three times per day. Alternately, the DM may choose a 1st or 2nd level spell that can be used as a spell-like ability at will. The power should reflect the personality and nature of the ancestor inhabiting the weapon; the tables for random determination of an intelligent item's greater powers may be used instead. The spirit uses its highest ability score to determine the saving throw DC, if necessary, and the caster level is equal to the bearer's class level.
Weapon Crafter: At 5th level, the bearer's experience enchanting her Ancestral Weapon grants her a greater understanding of all magical weapons. She may enchant all weapons of the same type as her Ancestral Weapon for 50% of the normal cost in gold and XP, and all other weapons for 75% of the normal cost. If her Ancestral Weapon is a projectile weapon, she may also enchant matching ammunition for 50% cost. The time required for any such enchantments is not reduced from its original level. In addition, she may also craft magical weapons as if her caster level was equal to her total character level; she must still fulfill any spell prerequisites as normal.
Hit Dice: d8
Skill Points: 2 + Int modifier
Ancestral Weapon: The bearer of the Ancestral Weapon may continue to enchant her weapon to greater power without spending gold or XP. Starting at 11th level, the maximum "plusses" the sword can possess is equal 10 + one-half of her class levels over 10, rounded down (for example, a 14th level bearer of the Ancestral Weapon could have a +12 weapon, maximum). The bearer may also increase the enhancement bonus on her weapon beyond +5, and select powers with a cost equivalent of +6 or greater, though the standard jump in time spent crafting epic weapons applies.
Spellcasting: At every even-numbered level, the bearer of the Ancestral Weapon advances in spellcasting power, as described above.
Bonus Feats: The bearer of the Ancestral Weapon gains a bonus epic feat (selected from the list of epic bearer of the ancestral weapon feats) at 13th level and every 3 levels thereafter.
Epic Bearer of the Ancestral Weapon Bonus Feat List: Craft Epic Magic Arms and Armor, Craft Epic Wondrous Item, Efficient Item Creation, Energy Resistance, Epic Ancestral Weapon, Epic Prowess, Epic Spell Focus, Epic Spell Penetration, Epic Weapon Focus, Ignore Material Components, Improved Ancestral Weapon, Improved Metamagic, Improved Spell Capacity, Penetrate Damage Reduction, Spell Opportunity, Spell Stowaway, Spontaneous Spell.
New Epic Feats:
Improved Ancestral Weapon [Epic]
Your Ancestral Weapon is the stuff of legends.
Prerequisites: Ancestral Weapon with at least 2 Greater Powers.
Benefit: The spirit of your ancestor increases all of its ability scores by two. The weapon also gains the use of a Superior Power; the DM chooses any one 5th or 6th level spell; the Ancestral Weapon may now activate that spell as a spell-like ability, three times per day. Alternately, the DM may choose a 3rd or 4th level spell that can be used as a spell-like ability at will, or two 1st or 2nd level spells that can be used as a free action at will. The power should reflect the personality and nature of the ancestor inhabiting the weapon; the tables for random determination of an intelligent item's greater powers may be used instead. The spirit uses its highest ability score to determine the saving throw DC, if necessary, and the caster level is equal to the bearer's class level.
Special: You may take this feat up to three times.
Epic Ancestral Weapon [Epic]
Your Ancestral Weapon has reached the peak of its power.
Prerequisites: Ancestral Weapon with at least 3 Superior Powers.
Benefit: The spirit of your ancestor increases all of its ability scores by two. The weapon also gains the use of an Supreme Power; the DM chooses any one 7th or 8th level spell; the Ancestral Weapon may now activate that spell as a spell-like ability, three times per day. Alternately, the DM may choose a 5th or 6th level spell that can be used as a spell-like ability at will, or two 3rd or 4th level spells that can be used as a free action at will. The power should reflect the personality and nature of the ancestor inhabiting the weapon; the tables for random determination of an intelligent item's greater powers may be used instead. The spirit uses its highest ability score to determine the saving throw DC, if necessary, and the caster level is equal to the bearer's class level.
Special: You may take this feat up to three times.
Design Notes: The purpose of this class is pretty obvious; to simulate literary characters who bear weapons whose power dwarves their own. It also allows characters, like a samurai or witch doctor, which engage in regular discussion with their dead ancestors. The idea is that the real power arises from the fact that the weapon created by the Spirit of Ancestor ability can take actions on its own, thus giving the bearer the equivalent of a quickened action each round. The weapon also eventually gets superior sense abilities; the bearer may not get the ability to see concealed creatures, but the weapon can, and can telepathically transmit that information to the bearer. These powers are balanced, however, by the fact that the weapon's spells are chosen by the DM, allowing him greater control. The class also is a decent secondary spellcaster, and can continue to improve the party's magical weapons without a second caster needing to select that crafting feat.
This was the only prestige class from the website that a player actually chose in a campaign I was running. The character in question was a ranger/wizard who thought the Eldritch Knight class was too dull and wanted some unique powers instead of just straight spellcasting progression. Since he was an archer, he considered the Arcane Archer as well, but didn't want to abandon spellcasting entirely. In the end, he chose this class, entering as a 2nd-level ranger/5th-level wizard and staying with the class for eight levels (at which time the campaign ended, though he told me he had planned on finishing it out by that point).
Generally, the class seemed to work well as written, especially since the character's bow became a crucial member of the party as time went on. With both the main character and the bow having high Spot and Listen checks (along with blindsight at higher levels), the character became the party's indispensable scout, effectively getting two chances to sense danger. The only real problem I found was on days when there were several encounters without resting; on such days, the bow ran out of its spell-like abilities early and had no means of contributing as a separate member of the party. If I were to use this class again, I might allow the player to increase the number of uses of any of the weapon's spell-like abilities by one use per day at 4th, 6th, and 8th levels. Not only would this shore up the bow's ability to contribute all day, but it would give the player additional customization of the weapon's magic abilities beyond what the DM decides.
Also, I found this class is more or less useful depending on the availability of magic items. If you're running a campaign where players can buy or sell magic items in any town or city with no problem, then this class is a little weaker than if running one where players must find or craft most of their gear. It effectively reduces the ability to enchant the weapon with the bonuses the player wants to being merely a pool of bonus cash that you can spend only on your weapon. On the other end of the spectrum, if you're playing a game where magic items are rare or even unknown, this class may be too good. You may want to consider simply not allowing it in that case.