The work contained on the following pages is the property and copyright of Danyel Woods (A.K.A. “Trace Coburn”) and is presented here with permission.
Temple Guardian of Eillistrae
By Danyel Woods (A.K.A. “Trace Coburn”)
Temple Guardian of Eilistraee (Substitution level)
Shrines to the Dark Maiden rarely enjoy peaceful histories: they are constantly beset by rival drow factions and outsiders of other races who mistake black skin for dark hearts. As such, these shrines need constant protection by vigilant soldiers. Being that many Eilistraeean communities lack access to a proper training Academy such as the renowned Mêlée-Magthere collegiums, the training of such soldiers often falls under the purview of the shrine’s clergy.
A number of Temple Guardians come to the Dark Maiden’s clergy as children (often being fostered to them or adoptees taken in after being orphaned by this or that misfortune) and are trained from an early age in what drow consider a fashion resembling that of the preparation of surface-world ‘holy knights’. Others are those ineligible for the clergy itself (usually by gender) who realise that combat-skills are vital to the survival of their small, vulnerable enclaves; still others wish to serve the church directly but lack the proper temperament to make good clerics. Nonetheless, all of those passing through these training programmes are taught not only the fighting arts of the drow clergy, but also something of their performing arts, as homage to the Goddess. Though the programme turns out skilled soldiers as an end in itself, it is also intended as preparation for its graduates to eventually return to the church as Divine Champions or, in a few (uncommon and much-celebrated) instances, as Sword Dancers, who are venerated as the highest expression of Eilistraee’s vision for the drow.
(Most females of elven/drow blood who enter this training programme actually emerge as clerics of the Dark Maiden rather than Temple Guardians, having heard the Call of the Goddess during this novitiate period; of course, there are exceptions to every rule.)
d8. The fighting arts into which the Temple Guardian is initiated favour skill over raw power, and mobility over resilience.
A Temple Guardian must be a follower of Eilistraee, about to take their first level of Fighter, and have lived in or near a drow shrine to the Dark Maiden for at least one year while constantly training with its clergy. The majority of Temple Guardians are elves or half-elves (predominantly of the drow sub-race), though occasionally a human will be taken in; generally speaking, other races are either lack the proper temperament or the necessary mental or physical agility.
Special limitation: ‘Temple Guardian’ status may be claimed only at the beginning of a character’s association with a formal church of Eilistraee. Characters who already have levels as clerics of Eilistraee cannot enter this substitution level, as they are presumed to have already gone through a similar training programme during their novitiate.
Temple Guardians have all the standard fighter class skills, plus Perform (Cha)*, Knowledge (religion) (Int), and Spot (Wis). They train beside the temple’s clerics in the fighting arts, usually participate in the clergy’s rituals and revels, and are encouraged to remain ever-watchful for those who come to the temple with fell intent (open or concealed). Given their constant dealing with divine casters and the ‘stick and weave’ fighting style they are taught, they often take ranks in Spellcraft and Tumble as well, though these are not class skills.
* The Temple Guardian’s performance skill(s) *must* come from the following list: Perform (dance), Perform (sing), or Perform (instrument); if the latter, they must choose to play one or more of the following list instruments, which are favoured by the Dark Maiden: harp, horn, longhorn (flute), or songhorn (recorder/fipple flute).
4 + Int bonus (or four times this many for starting character)
Special limitation: of these skill points, starting characters must put at least four total ranks into their Perform skill(s) (in any combination) and at least two into Knowledge (religion); characters transitioning into Temple Guardian training from another class must allocate at least two total ranks to the indicated Perform skill(s) and one to Knowledge (religion). This reflects their semi-monastic training environment and its strong artistic/expressive bent. This feature (increased skill points) replaces the normal fighter d10 Hit Dice.
Weapon and armour proficiencies:
The fighting arts of the Eilistraeean clergy are strongly based on those of (dark) elves, which emphasise manoeuvre rather than the ‘stand and slam’ tactics of many humans and dwarves. As such, unlike other fighters Temple Guardians gain only d8 Hit Dice, rather than d10, and they gain proficiency only with light and medium armour, shields other than tower shields, and simple and martial weapons.
However, the Temple Guardian’s training includes extensive work with the Dark Maiden’s weapon of preference, the bastard sword, allowing her to wield it one-handed.
This substitution feature (Exotic Weapon Proficiency (bastard sword)) replaces proficiency with tower shields.
Dance of the Moonsword (Ex):
The Eilistraeean clergy favours blades over other weapons, and swords above all. Accordingly, a Temple Guardian who takes (or possesses) the Weapon Focus feat with any sword (other than greatsword) at any point in their career may also treat the weapon as if he possesses the Weapon Finesse feat, even if the weapon is not normally subject to Weapon Finesse. As this Focus/Finesse combination represents the character’s presumptive weapon of preference during their training, this feature applies only to the first sword for which Weapon Focus is taken.
The combat style of the Dark Maiden’s followers emphasises alertness, fleetness of foot, and swiftness of reaction; indeed, one of the cardinal rules Temple Guardians and Eilistraeean clerics are taught in training is “Never. Stop. Moving!” A Temple Guardian who takes the Dodge Feat as their 1st-level fighter bonus Feat (or already possesses it from another class) gains the Uncanny Dodge special ability, gaining the extraordinary ability to react to danger before their senses would normally allow them to do so; they retain their Dexterity bonus to AC (if any) regardless of being caught flat-footed or struck by an invisible foe. (They still lose their Dexterity bonus if immobilised.)
If a character already has (or later gains) Uncanny Dodge from a second class, the character gains Improved Uncanny Dodge instead, and the levels from the class(es) granting Uncanny Dodge stack to determine the minimum rogue level required to flank the character.
This substitution feature (Weapon Finesse/Uncanny Dodge) replaces proficiency with heavy armour and pre-requires the Dodge feat.
Special limitations: a Temple Guardian only counts their first fighter level (the TG substitution level) for the purposes of determining vulnerability to rogue flank-attacks. This ability is rendered non-functional if the character is not wielding a sword as their primary weapon, or if they are wearing heavy armour (whether proficient in its use or not). Owing to the retraining necessary, any character gaining proficiency with heavy armour permanently forfeits the Uncanny Dodge ability.
Temple Guardian characters who later multi-class as clerics of Eilistraee may choose not to gain proficiency with heavy armour, but they do not gain a feat to replace that ‘lost’ proficiency. Characters who multi-class as clerics or paladins of any other deity gain heavy armour proficiency as normal, but permanently forfeit the “Dance of the Moonsword” special ability to do so and must atone for their apostasy before they can use any clerical/paladin powers from their new faith. (This includes a ritual of absolution from a senior cleric of their new faith – in game terms, an atonement spell; DMs are encouraged to assign suspected min/maxers quests to prove the depths of their ‘contrition’ before granting said spell and permitting access to the powers of their new class.)
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