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Drow Vanguard

Drow Vanguard

Drow warriors rank among some of the most feared opponents in Faerun. While the majority of the drow only gain basic instruction by their houses’ weapon masters or during their shifts among the city guards, some of those who show more ability are send to academies or fighters’ guilds to hone their skills. This PrC presents one option for a trained drow fighter to become a dangerous opponent to any adventurer.

The Vanguards focus on the infamous two-weapon fighting style of the drow, as well as their ability to fight in confined spaces, such as the tunnels of the Underdark. Needless to say, the education also serves a drow well if he has to fight within buildings and as such Vanguards can be found in any fighting role from house guards to scouts, and as often as not they’re spearheading direct assaults. As drow are not well-versed in fighting with unwieldy bows - and the class focuses on melee rather than ranged fighting - Vanguards also practice the use of the hand crossbow to near perfection. They will revert to melee at the first opportunity, but can fire a quick volley of crossbow bolts from short distances as well.

Most Vanguards are fighters, monks and rangers, but any martially oriented cleric, wizard, or sorcerer may take this class once he or she meets the requirements. Rogues may utilise this training as well and can use some of the features of this class to their advantage, yet their numbers are usually small.

Within the Realms, the prestige class will certainly appeal to the clergy of Selvetarm in particular.


Hit Dice: d10.



To qualify to become a Drow Vanguard, a character must fulfil all of the following criteria:

Alignment: Any evil.

Race: Drow.

Base Attack Bonus: +6.

Feats: Combat Expertise, Dodge, Mobility, Two-Weapon Fighting.

Special: Must have been taught by a drow house's weapon master, in a fighter's academy or a similar drow institution.



The Vanguard's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are: Balance (Dex), Climb (Str), Hide (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Search (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Spot (Wis), and Tumble (Dex).

Skill points at each level: 2 + Int modifier.

Level BAB Fort Ref Will Special
1 +1 +2 +0 +0 Combat Reload<
2 +2 +3 +0 +0 Combat Style I
3 +3 +3 +1 +1  
4 +4 +4 +1 +1 Sneak attack 1d6
5 +5 +4 +1 +1 Underdark Combat
6 +6 +5 +2 +2 Combat Style II
7 +7 +5 +2 +2  
8 +8 +6 +2 +2 Sneak attack 2d6
9 +9 +6 +3 +3 Hard mind
10 +10 +7 +3 +3 Twisting Blades


All the following are class features of the vanguard prestige class.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Drow vanguards are proficient with all simple and martial weapons, plus hand crossbow (racial feature). They are proficient with light and medium armor, and with shields (except tower shields).

Combat Reload (Ex):

Having been trained in only a limited number of fighting styles, this drow fighter has become enormously quick in the use of one of the most common drow weapons. He may reload a hand crossbow as a free action and is thus allowed a full attack action during the round. Furthermore, the reloading of a hand crossbow will no longer provoke an attack of opportunity.

Combat Style I (Ex):

The Vanguard counts the fruits of his expertise in his preferred fighting style. He gains Improved Two-Weapon Fighting as a bonus feat, even if he does not meet the requirements for it, but only when he wears light or no armor. If the character already has this feat, he may choose one other fighter bonus feat instead.

Sneak Attack (Ex):

Drow Vanguards are trained to hit vital spots in melee combat as well as teaming up with others to get opponents into awkward situations. If a Vanguard can catch an opponent unable to defend himself effectively from his attack, he can strike a vital spot for extra damage. The Vanguard’s attack deals extra damage any time his target would be denied a Dexterity bonus to AC (whether the target actually has a Dexterity bonus or not), or when the Vanguard flanks his target. This extra damage is 1d6 at 4th level, and it increases to 2d6 at 8th level. Should the vanguard score a critical hit with a sneak attack, this extra damage is not multiplied. Drow Vanguards are not trained in using ranged weapons for sneak attacks, though they may get this ability from other classes. In this case, the Vanguard's sneak attack bonus does not stack with any other ranged sneak attack bonus. A Vanguard can sneak attack only living creatures with discernible anatomies - undead, constructs, oozes, plants, and incorporeal creatures lack vital areas to attack. Any creature that is immune to critical hits is not vulnerable to sneak attacks. The Vanguard must be able to see the target well enough to pick out a vital spot and must be able to reach such a spot. A Vanguard cannot sneak attack while striking a creature with concealment or striking the limbs of a creature whose vitals are beyond reach.

Underdark Combat (Ex):

Drow Vanguards are used to fight even in the most limited spaces in the tunnels of Har'oloth while always staying alert to its dangers. When wielding two one-handed or light weapons, or one such weapon and a buckler (but not a double weapon), a Vanguard may designate one opponent (or an empty target square) that he may approach or withdraw from without provoking attacks of opportunity from moving. This only applies if the Vanguard can reach the target by taking two move actions at most, and if he takes the shortest possible path to the target. The shortest path is determined exactly like in a charge, except that this ability is a normal move action, and limitations to movement do not prevent using it. If retreating rather than approaching, the Vanguard may simply designate an empty target square instead of an opponent. This combat maneuver can be combined with a charge, in which case all the rules of a charge apply normally.

Combat Style II (Ex):

The vanguard excels in his fighting style. He gains Greater Two-Weapon Fighting as a bonus feat, even if he does not meet the requirements for it, but only when he wears light or no armor. If the character already has this feat, he may choose one other fighter bonus feat instead.

Combat Focus (Ex):

Living in constant danger, a Vanguard has developed an ability to shrug off some magical effects aimed to weaken his mind. At 9th level, once a Vanguard engages an enemy in a fight, he becomes so focused that he gains a +2 resistance bonus to all saves against mind-affecting spells during that encounter.

Twisting Blades (Ex):

Drow Vanguards have now learned to use their preferred weapons with great expertise. If they score a critical hit with any of their two preferred melee weapons, the multiplier for critical damage increases by 1. For example, a short sword would have a critical range of 19-20/x3 rather than 19-20/x2. To take advantage of this ability, a Vanguard may only chose two of the weapons he has used most often in the two-weapon style, since it reflects his expertise with these weapons. The critical modifier does also increase if the Vanguard uses just one of those weapons, either in normal melee or in combination with another weapon.


© P. Basedau & Timo Tyrmi