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The Book of the Cathshee
By Tyson Bell
Greetings, it's the lonely storyteller Tyson Bell here. It seems that I have finally befriended that aged gold elf Jeiroth today. I mean he actually came to my door this afternoon and asked me to copy what he was about to tell me. He said that the following information he was about to give me would be the closest thing that any human had ever come to knowledge of the bladesinging fighting art. Reaching into his cloak Jeiroth produced a small beaten up leather-bound book. It looked very inconspicuous and rather rag- tag. But a few magical words whispered by the elf caused the book to change appearance. The book became a large beautiful Mithril Plated libram. Slowly opening the tome, Jeiroth began to read.
The Book of the Cathshee is a tome that was written in the early days of Aryvandaar. It describes the history of the cathshee bladesong, the code of the cathshee bladesingers, and the art of bladesinging. Finally, it describes the powers of the bladesong. The last item is only accessible (will only open the page too) those which have adhered to the code and have gained the experience necessary to learn its power. Jeiroth also states that hidden within the book is another power, which can be learned if discovered. This hidden power is only accessible by singing a song, which was learned by studying the engraved inside covers (make a wisdom and intelligence check at -4, a check is allowed once per year). This last power allows the elf to learn the secrets of combining his bladesong with that of spellsinging (as per elven bards)!
THEORY IN GAMEPLAY
The information contained herein can seem to make elves considerably more powerful than they already are. However, let us examine the point of view taken by one DM. Elves are truly magical and wondrous beings. They have been "civilized" for many thousands of years before humans had even learned of fire. Thus elves have developed a culture which is both different and more refined than humans could possibly imagine. Even young elves are barely aware of the depth and level of the elven being. Elven magic, fighting and bladesinging are also different than humans. This reflects the fact that elves advance considerably slower in their classes once they reach a certain level. It is not that elves are not as skilled as humans, or lack the ambition. Rather it is the elven way of doing things that cause elves to slow their advancement. Cathshee bladesingers are a perfect example of the "elven way" of warcraft. Take for example two 1st level warriors, the elven bladesinger Carrinth and the human warrior Rag. Rag, being a human, quickly rises in levels as the two adventure. Carrinth, being a novice, also rises in level at a steady pace (although being a dual classes character causes him to rise a little slower). In order to catch up, Carrinth does some adventuring on his own. Now, a few years later, both Rag and Carrinth are seasoned 12th level warriors. At this point Rag will progress as he has normally done. Carrinth though, having gained a better sense of elvendom through his experiences, will require almost triple the experience than Rag does to further advance in level. That is the elven way. But is he slacking no, is he adventuring less than Rag not at all. He is still running around saving maidens and kingdoms, but instead of just focusing on gaining levels, he is also focusing on gaining new powers that his bladesinging gives him. In game terms the character feels a sense of patience; he realizes that he has centuries to gain levels, so he should learn every skill possible at that level. That is true power for elves, not just attaining high levels. Therefore, while Rag could easily attain 20th level and beyond as a warrior, it is unlikely that Carrinth will progress much in the same amount of time in his dual classes (although given a few decades, he might catch up to his old and senile friend). However, match the two in a fight and the elven Carrinth is likely to fight Rag to a standstill. Why? Because of the special powers that the bladesinger will learn while stuck in his level. This method fits in well with the advancement table found in TSR's Cormanthor: Empire of Elves as that advancement table also requires a certain age for increasing levels. It can be concluded that by the time an elf has reached an age and experience level were he can advance, he has taken the time to learn everything he can learn in that level. That is the elven way at least in the eyes of a particular DM.
The history of bladesinging is long and varied. There are many different accounts of how the mythical fighting art came into being. This is an abbreviated version from the tome.
In ancient Aryvandaar there lived a young gold elf warrior-mage by the name of Yagni. Yagni was part of a minor noble family but was himself considered a well-liked and good-natured elf. He was a devout follower of Corellon Larethian, the elven god. Yagni also had another love besides that towards his deity. He loved the elven priestess Gossamir. They both shared a deep longing for one another but one stood in their path. The mage Pheltyoss belonged to a large and influential gold elf noble family. He too had his eyes on the priestess, and he never took no for an answer. Thus he had Gossamir kidnapped and sent to a tower. When Yagni finally found the tower he encountered Pheltyoss, but was also forced to fight the powerful Ilythirri warrior Xormanth. Xormanth was a personal friend of the Pheltyoss's family, and he relished the idea of bloody physical combat. Together, they were too powerful for Yagni, and he was forced to flee. For years Yagni prayed to Corellon for a way to defeat the powerful noble. One day, while adventuring, Yagni traveled to a valley far to the North of elven lands. In the valley Yagni found an injured cathshee, or elven cat. It had been badly mauled in a fight with a giant winter wolf. Yagni nursed the elven cat back to health and even helped raise its brood, which had been born the day before its fight. One day the elven cat began to speak to the elf. It began to teach the elf how to sing and dance. While Yagni found this odd, even humorous, his doubts soon faded when he soon learned to incorporate the singing and dancing into his fighting. The three seemed to flow so smoothly. He spent several years with the cathshee but eventually set out to find Pheltyoss. Before he left the cathshee told Yagni that the gift he had bestowed Yagni was a reward, but that the reward carried with it a stipulation. This stipulation was the code he would have to follow. Yagni swore an oath to Corellon that the code shall never be broken. At that a bright flash rained upon the valley as a lightning bolt struck the area just beyond Yagni's feet. Yagni found that a large mithril book floating directly in front of him. The book was empty; he would have to teach others the secret that Corellon himself had bestowed upon the warrior-mage.
Disguised as a bard, he entered the gold elf mage's manor and began to sing for the mage. Neither Pheltyoss nor Xormanth had any idea of the magic forming in Yagni's song until it destroyed the mage. In one single heartbreaking note, Yagni's spell sucked the very life out of Pheltyoss's body. Xormanth immediately assaulted Yagni, but the gold elf warrior drew his blade and met the Ilythiir head on. The bladesinger fought Xormanth, and killed the warrior. He then used his spells to escape the fray with his love, Gossamir. While Pheltyoss's family sued for Yagni's head, the Coronal of Aryvandaar was instead curious about Yagni's newfound power. Soon the bladesinger was busy teaching some of the best and truly noble warriors in all of the realm, and the Cathshee Bladesingers were born. Since then the Cathshee Bladesingers have spread, participating in every major event. The Crown Wars, The Weeping Wars, The Battle of Bones these are just a few which have involved the bladesingers. They are one of the most ancient and respected of the schools, and every school would love to learn from the book. Currently Jeiroth is the last of the Cathshee Bladesingers. He is however currently training four elves in the song and art, and they have almost completed their rigorous training. All four are Ulondarr nobles who live in Deepingdale.
The appearance of Cathshee bladesingers is not much different than the appearance of other elven warriors. Cathshee bladesingers favor elven chain, or magical bracers. In elven communities they will sometimes wear their armor exposed; while in human or other hostile lands, the bladesingers will wear clothes and/or cloaks over the armor to conceal their nature. Their swords are all immaculately polished, and all strive to attain magical weapons. Large many pocketed sashes and belts are also commonly worn to carry spell components. Soft leather boots are worn, as are pliable leather or slightly baggy cloth britches. All move with catlike grace, even when not in combat. Rings, earrings, circlets, and bracers are occasionally worn, with a preference towards simple gold or platinum bands. The most telltale sign of a Cathshee Bladesinger is the large tattoo of the elven cat on their upper arms. Each tattoo is unique and superbly worked. It will take several days just to finish a tattoo. The choice of left or right arm depends on the elf's preference. Cathshee Bladesingers also wield magic wands and/or Belluth in battle. Most will have at least one hidden dagger in their person at all times.
Tili Ar'Corellon Pax Au' Jenuvae Ar'Kerym Amorel Tel'Quessir
Serving Corellon through Education, Combat, and Love of The People.
The code of the Cathshee Bladesingers has many translations and interpretations. However, the general meaning has not changed. The bladesingers are still expected to protect, educate, and serve the elves. Cathshee Bladesingers protect the elves in many different ways. Some seek to constantly train while remaining at home. They often join the local elven militia, or serve as a special scout of sorts. Others feel that a good offense is better than just waiting for an attack. These elves often venture out into the world to actively promote and defend the elven way. These elves also become adventurers, seeking past elven artifacts and treasures, to "reclaim" them into elven hands. Educating the elves is as varied as it sounds. It can be educating elves in magic, song, or just about anything. However many of the traveling bladesingers perform an important service by teaching elves about their experiences in other lands, especially the lands of humans. Finally, in serving the elves bladesingers find fulfillment in their profession. Their service to the elves can include many things, from rescuing an elven cat from a tree to blasting through a horde of orcs to rescue a distressed elf.
Note that most bladesingers are Good, and generally do the right thing, even if not in the company of elves. However, this is not to be confused with the human concept of honor. Elves were around long before honor was invented, and with exception of a few elven knights (who adopted the concept from human knights) honor is not part of an elves code. Therefore, even in bladesinging, honor is a concept not enforced. It is a personal choice, neither frowned upon nor really praised for in elven dealings. An elven cathshee bladesinger will not have any retribution in blasting the life right out of an orcish hold women and children inclusive if it means that the orcs will not threaten the elves of that region again. Such an action was necessary to insure the survival of the elves. If the bladesinger catches an enemy unarmed, unprepared and summarily slays him, then the fool should've armed himself. The path of least resistance is the smartest path to take, and most elves certainly do just that.
Penalties for failing to come to the aid of an elf should depend on circumstances. After all, bladesingers don't just throw away their lives. However, if a bladesinger willingly ignores a plead from an elf in trouble for its own selfish purposes, then Corellon has been known to strip the warrior/mage of his bladesinging powers until the offender has sufficiently repented and paid for his actions. This act helps keep bladesingers from becoming overly powerful selfish self-styled tyrants. It also gives bladesingers a sense of purpose.
Hit Die: for simplicity sake, all Cathshee Bladesingers receive 1D8 hit points every level they attain. This means that a 1/1 level Cathshee Bladesinger has 1D8 hit points plus constitution based extras, if any. A 2/2 level bladesinger has 2D8 +constitution-based bonus. When a bladesinger's classes differ in level from one another, such as a 5fighter/4mage, then the character must wait until the other class catches up to gain new hit points. So the aforementioned warrior-mage must wait until he attains 5fighter/5mage before he earns another 1D8 for a total of 5D8 + constitution bonus. Always use the lowest class to determine hit dice/hit points for Cathshee Bladesinger characters.
Saving Throws: always take the best saving throw, whether it is from the warrior or wizard class, and apply it to the Cathshee Bladesinger. That also goes for THACO, # attacks etc. Cathshee bladesingers have all of the bonuses and restrictions for bladesingers mentioned in TSR's Complete Book of Elves. They always specialize in a weapon and expend the extra proficiency slot for the +2 bonus (instead of +1) in the bladesinging form.
Learning: to become a bladesinger, the elf must petition an experienced bladesinger of at least 7th level. The elf must have the prerequisites for the bladesinger class. Then, the elf must train with the bladesinger for at least 20 uninterrupted years. After that, the novice bladesinger is considered a first level bladesinger (1fighter/1mage). He must then accumulate enough experience to proceed on, but still relies on the veteran elf for training. Once the bladesinger reaches 7th level, he/she is ready to move on and can teach themselves the new skills by reading it in the book, or in a copy of the book, and practicing the maneuvers in battle. At 7th level they can also train others in the art (although they are giving up twenty years to do so).
Cathshee bladesingers earn only a few special powers in their early stages of training (levels 1-10). It is only when their progress begins to slow (levels 12+) that more powers become available. Here then is a list of the Mythical Cathshee bladesingers powers. The powers do not require the character to expend any proficiency slots to attain them, they are automatically taught. A character must reach the mentioned level in both classes in order to learn the power.
Dragon's Tail Strike: This martial art move is the simplest of the powers taught to the Cathshee bladesingers. By foregoing an attack, the bladesinger can utilize a spinning sweep kick to knock an opponent off his feet. The kick is such that it is included in the bladesong dance so as to allow quick recovery. Therefore, a character does not suffer any penalties and recovers without wasting any attacks except the one used up by trying to perform this maneuver. However, once the move has been utilized on a foe during the melee, whether or not it works, that foe will automatically recognize the move and avoid it. A subsequent battle several hours from the first should allow the bladesinger to reuse this move on the same opponent. For this power to work a bladesinger has to score a hit with the maneuver, then his opponent has to roll a d20 versus their dexterity. If they roll below their Dex, then they retain their balance and suffer no ill effect. If they roll above their Dex, then they are knocked off of their feet. Consequently, opponents knocked off of their feet must spend one round to get up. They also lose their dexterity bonus for armor class, if any. Meanwhile, the bladesinger gets free reign during that round to attack, cast a spell etc. Note that this maneuver causes no damage, even if it knocks a person off their feet.
Blade Barrier: Not to be confused with the priest spell blade barrier, this power is actually a dance taught to bladesingers. By weaving his sword in a complex pattern, a bladesinger creates a sword-barrier against missiles. This barrier provides a -1 to the character AC against missiles for every three levels a character has. Meanwhile, the character can attack and parry as normally. He is seen as a constantly dancing and weaving his sword through the air while still striking, counterstriking, and parrying. However, the barrier is only effective against attackers that the bladesinger knows of (he should know the approx. location of the attack). It takes one round for the dance bonuses' to take effect, and the dance lasts for as long as the bladesinger can fight. However, the bladesinger cannot cast spells, use wands, or take any other action besides melee combat. Stopping to do anything else cancels the bonus. The Kerym Emarindaal can be used 1 a day for every three levels the character has. However, at 12th level, that bladesinger can use this power as many time as he/she wishes.
Karrios's Swiftstrike: Named after the famous swashbuckling bladesinger of the Sword Coast, this complex dance has several prerequisites just to learn it. The bladesinger must attain 10th level and have a dexterity of at least 17. This power is achieved through a bladesinger mentally focusing his attacks so that he strikes more often. He focuses on speed and quickness. After one round of concentration (the bladesinger can attack normally during that round, but cannot cast spells) the effects of this focus adds an extra attack every round to the bladesinger. Therefore a bladesinger that normally attacks 2/1 rounds now attacks 3/1. However, a -1 penalty to Armor Class applies when employing this maneuver. The penalty is due to the bladesingers lack of concentration on defense (he is more focused on adding attacks than about defending himself). This power can be used once every five levels a character has. It lasts as long as the bladesinger desires, but uses for more than three rounds at a time cuts overall fighting endurance by ¼, so a bladesinger tires quicker. A bladesinger cannot cast spells or perform any other actions other than attack*.
*Note: at 15th level the bladesinger can cast spells and/or attack while under the Karrios Vul'kalar.
Spelldance: This allows the bladesinger to forego casting one spell of the bladesinger's choice*. This one spell is instead cast through a complex blade-dance, requiring no spell components or somatic phrases. To invoke this power, the cathshee bladesinger must spend one round beginning this dance, then continue the dance until the spell is cast. Duration of the dance depends on spell length, but is generally 50% greater than a spell cast normally. A bladesinger can be struck for damage during this dance and not lose the spell. However, there is a cumulative percentage based on damage taken rolled at the end of each round that the spell will fail. Example: an elf casting a prismatic spray by this method while fighting a group of trolls sustains 7hp damage the first round, so he has a 7% chance of spell failure, rolled for at the end of that round. The next round the same elf suffers 13hp damage; this time, he has a 20% chance of spell failure.
The bladesinger can chose from any of his already memorized spells to "cast" in this way. Once cast by using the Julafein Art'Amnath, the spell is wiped from the elf's memory as if normally cast.
*At 16th level, the bladesinger can choose two spells to be cast in this manner.
Cathshee Magic: this power invokes the magic of the Cathshee, or elven cat. This Cathshee Bladesinger specific spell allow the bladesinger to focus on the image of their tattoo and shapechange into the form of a cathshee "elven-cat". The bladesinger can chose the size, whether it is the size of a normal house cat up to that of a cougar. This requires two rounds of concentration and meditation, wherein no other activity can be performed. Character suffering damage of any kind during the two rounds of focusing fail to change shape (although they can try it again later). The shape change lasts for 1 hr per every 5 levels the character possesses. While in cathshee shape, the bladesinger can speak, but cannot cast spells or use wands/rods and weapons (however, any rings somehow worn could be activated). He also cannot use any of the Cathshee's innate magical powers. It can, however make use of all of the physical attacks, leaping ability and camouflage skills that the cathshee naturally has. This power can only be used once a day.
Corellon's soul sphere: This is the last known and most powerful power in the book given to me by Jeiroth (though he warns there could be others). The bladesinger invokes the power of Corellon himself to power his soul. Three rounds of silent prayer are required to activate this power. Once activated, the power manifests itself as a small glowing sphere, the sessrindarr, which attaches itself to a weapon. The globe can be carried around for 24hrs after which it dissipates. In this stage, the power is dormant and does not affect the weapon. The globe is indestructible and irremovable, but the bladesinger can cancel it anytime. The sessrindarr can be activated by silent will and in doing so the sphere erupts into a blinding white-hot fire that erupts around the bladesinger. Elves call this fire starfyre, and it does not harm the bladesinger in any way. Its powers are varied:
1. It creates a 60ft non-dispellable light globe equal to daylight around
the elf; darkness spells cast at it are simply swallowed by the starfyre
2. Undead suffer triple damage if struck by the bladesinger and/or his weapon; furthermore any undead within a 10ft radius suffer 1d8 points of damage per round from the intense starfyre
3. Non-elven creatures other than undead struck by the bladesinger must save vs. death magic, failure indicates being stunned for 1d4 rounds; successful savers incur no penalty, however, if the bladesinger successfully strikes the creature the next round, then another save for that round is necessary etc.
4. The bladesinger does not check morale, is immune to fear spells and powers (even dragon awe).
5. The elf is struck only by +1 or better magic weapons and missiles
Corellon's sphere is a powerful power and should be called on only when battling against grievous odds and/or opponents. Failure to adhere to this usually results in a visit by one of the god's servants, which warns the elf about calling on the deity when help is not needed. If the bladesinger is so foolish as to repeat the offense, a loss in all bladesinging abilities will occur (see section entitled Code for info on loss of powers). This then governs the ability to invoke the Sessrindarr. While empowered by starfyre, the elf can move freely, casting spells, engaging in melee, or anything. The power cannot be dispelled except by the bladesinger by any means short of a wish. In any case, the Sessrindarr cannot be used more than once a day unless the being is somehow on a mission that been both sanctioned and blessed by Corellon himself (good luck!). As for duration, the sphere lasts for 1 round for every level the character possesses. It can be extended even longer if required, but it will cost the elf life force in the form of 1d10 hit points for every round the Sessrindarr is kept operational. This damage can only be healed by time and rest! Ancient tales tell of elven hero bladesingers fighting amongst hundreds of enemies for hours until the light of the Sessrindarr fades, upon which the warrior also fades and disappears, only to be sped on to Arvanaith.
For many a millennia, elven bladesingers have fought the enemies of "The People". They have overcome insurmountable odds and form the front line of defense against elven foes. The Cathshee Bladesingers exemplify this characteristic to the fullest. Let us hope that the Cathshee Bladesingers continue on in their traditions for the next millennia.
The mithril-bound book closes with a soft click. The gold elf Jeiroth Ulondarr Irithyl stares off out the window and into the world. His leaf green eyes seem to shine with bright memories of the past. Slowly standing, Jeiroth turns and acknowledges his friend, the human Tyson. His friend from another world. A slight look of disappointment crosses the human's face. Jeiroth smiles.
"I'm afraid I must retire so that I can accomplish other duties."
Tyson answers "Woow! There is so much that I would like to ask, so much that I would like to see."
"I will be back young scribe, just be patient" the elf exclaims.
"Patience is not exactly a virtue shared by the human race" Tyson replies.
A soft chuckle escaped the elf's lips "Though some elf maids might find your perseverance intoxicating, know that I am not so easily wooed."
A quick laugh was had by both. Then the elf turned and walked out of the room, making no sound as he left.
"When will you be back?" Tyson asked.
"When I've got something else interesting to tell you Tu Tel'Quess" was the last phrase he heard.
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