Ghostwalk Prestige Class : Arboreal Guardian
Within the Spirit Wood are the Arboreal Guardians, men and women dedicated to protecting and ministering the living repositories of elf and half-elf spirits. The Guardians are the wood's first line of defense against outsiders and act as the hands and eyes of the spirit trees, vowing to protect a particular tree with a mystical pledge called a Green Bond. Mystically linked with a chosen tree, an Arboreal Guardian sees the recipient of her Green Bond as the closest member of her family, someone worth dying for. This bond extends to a lesser extent to any other spirit tree. Most Arboreal Guardians are druids or rangers. A few clerics of Galaedros become Guardians, as does the occasional multiclassed barbarian, bur only those with close ties to nature consider taking the Green Bond.
Arboreal Guardians are a well-known but little-understood secret society in the Ghostwalk campaign. While they guide people through the Spirit Wood to the city of Manifest, they are completely ruthless when it comes to dealing with violators of the forest. They may bicker among themselves over the proper way to nurture and preserve the Spirit Wood, but they are united in their oath to preserve it at all cost.
To qualify to become an Arboreal Guardian, a character must fulfill all the following criteria:
- Race: Elf or half-elf. A creature of another race who does a great service for the Arboreal Guardians or the spirit trees may be allowed to join this elite society of protectors.
- Skills: Knowledge (nature) 8 ranks, Spot 5 ranks, Survival 8 ranks.
- Feats: Great Fortitude, Green Bond, Point Blank Shot.
- Spells: Able to cast entangle.
- Patron Deity: Any but Nessek or Orcus.
Skill Points at Each Level: 4 + Int modifier.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Arboreal Guardians gain proficiency with shortbows (but not composite shortbows). A druid who becomes an Arboreal Guardian can use a shortbow without violating her spiritual oaths. Arboreal Guardians gain no proficiency with any armor or shields.
Spellcasting: An Arboreal Guardian continues training in magic. Thus, at every other Arboreal Guardian level starting at 2nd, the character gains new spells known and spells per day as if she had also gained a level in a divine spellcasting class she belonged to before she added the prestige class. She does not, however, gain any other benefit a character of that class would have gained (improved chance of controlling or rebuking undead, additional uses of wild shape, and so on). This essentially means that she adds the level of Arboreal Guardian to the level of some other divine spell-casting class she has, then determines spells per day and caster level accordingly.
Bond's Call (Su): An Arboreal Guardian may make an Survival(intuit direction) check (DC 15) to determine the direction to her spirit tree. This can be done once per round.
Forestwalk (Su): When an Arboreal Guardian is within the Spirit Wood, her land speed increases by 10 feet. This benefit stacks with any other bonuses to speed the character may have.
Nature's Water (Ex): An Arboreal Guardian of 2nd level or higher can acquire potions from her bonded spirit tree if she provides the necessary herbs and ingredients. Essentially this means she can purchase potions from her tree for the cost to create instead of the market price.
Natural Armor (Ex): At 2nd level, an Arboreal Guardian gains an enhancement bonus to her existing natural armor bonus. When this bonus improves to +3 (at 6th level), her skin gains the coloration of her spirit tree, although this does not provide any additional benefit.
Unhindered Charge (Ex): When making a charge or taking the run action, an Arboreal Guardian of 3rd level or higher can pass unhindered through normal inanimate living plants, similar to a druid's woodland stride ability. Unlike woodland stride, she can also pass unhindered through larger plants such as trees, including her own spirit tree, when using this ability.
Wood Speech (Su): An Arboreal Guardian of 3rd level or higher can telepathically communicate with her spirit tree or with any of its other Arboreal Guardians at a range of 1 mile. This allows the Guardian to initiate the telepathic contact (previously she could be contacted by her spirit tree, but could not initiate this contact),
Hunter's Mercy (Su): Once per day as a standard action, a Guardian of 5th level or higher can focus her concentration so her first successful attack with a bow the next round is automatically a critical hit. This works like the hunter's mercy spell, except that activating this ability does not provoke an attack of opportunity.
Blindsight (Su): Like her bonded spirit tree, a Guardian of 5th level or higher can sense creatures without using her eyes, giving her the blindsight ability with a range of 30 feet. She can activate this ability once per day as a free action, lasting a number of rounds equal to her class level.
Nature's Defender (Ex): A Guardian of 7th level or higher gains a +1 morale bonus on attack rolls, weapon damage, checks, and saving throws when within 500 feet of her bonded tree.
Quench (Sp): A Guardian of 7th level or higher can use the quench ability (as the spell) once per day.
Tree Stride (Sp): A Guardian of 9th level or higher can use the tree stride ability (as the spell) once per day.
The Green Bond
Each of the Arboreal Guardians is linked to a particular spirit tree, and through this tree to a handful of other Arboreal Guardians. Each of these groups acts like a family; Guardians of the same tree generally get along well and can call upon each other in times of need. Likewise, the Guardians love and protect their chosen tree (and the elf and half-elf spirits within it) like a respected senior member of the family. The Green Bond is a very strong emotional link to another being, stronger than the link to a twin. A Guardian is expected to be loyal to his tree (and its other Arboreal Guardians) first and all others second. Those who ignore the needs of the tree in order to travel the world or adventure are likely to be ostracized by the other Guardians and may (if this behavior is not curtailed) eventually break their bond and lose all abilities of this prestige class. Fortunately, each spirit tree has several Arboreal Guardians, so each tends to get a reasonable amount of free time to devote to personal matters.
Characters who have a Green Bond but are not Arboreal Guardians are called bondfellows and are like extended members of the spirit tree's family. They are on friendly terms with the Arboreal Guardians but do not have the same requirements of devotion that the Guardians do, although if their spirit tree is in danger, they are expected to come to its aid.
Having a Green Bond is a mixed blessing in terms of cohorts and followers. Bondfellows of the same spirit tree (and druids and rangers unassociated with other spirit trees) treat the bonded character as if she had a special power (Leadership modifier +1). All other characters treat the bonded character as if she had a familiar, a paladin's warhorse, or an animal companion (Leadership modifier -2). Thus, it is easier for a bonded character to recruit cohorts and followers who are themselves bonded or at least respect the bond with nature, but it is harder to recruit those who have little or no interest in nature or are prejudiced against those who devote themselves to plants over civilized beings.
|Arboreal Guardian||Hit Die: d8|
|1||+0||+0||+2||+0||Bond's call, forestwalk||-|
|2||+1||+0||+3||+0||Nature's water, +1 natural armor||+1 level of existing divine spellcasting class|
|3||+2||+1||+3||+1||Unhindered charge, wood speech||-|
|4||+3||+1||+4||+1||+2 natural armor||+1 level of existing divine spellcasting class|
|5||+3||+1||+4||+1||Hunter's mercy, blindsight||-|
|6||+4||+2||+5||+2||+3 natural armor||+1 level of existing divine spellcasting class|
|7||+5||+2||+5||+2||Nature's defender, quench 1 /day||-|
|8||+6||+2||+6||+2||+4 natural armor||+1 level of existing divine spellcasting class|
|9||+6||+3||+6||+3||Tree stride 1/day||-|
|10||+7||+3||+7||+3||+5 natural armor||+1 level of existing divine spellcasting class|
Epic Arboreal Guardian
By Andy Collins (web)
The epic arboreal guardian is one of the most powerful protectors of the Spirit Wood, holding the line against all those who would endanger the trees of that forest.
Most epic arboreal guardians combine combat prowess with spellcasting, so choosing a mix of feats from those categories -- such as Swarm of Arrows, Improved Metamagic, and Combat Archery -- is a pretty good idea. The arboreal guardian's Wisdom score is usually her most important, though combat-oriented guardians may look to Strength or Constitution instead.
Other Options: Thanks to her ever-increasing natural armor, the epic arboreal guardian usually doesn't have to worry about defense, but even so, feats such as Energy Resistance or Fast Healing can come in awfully handy. If your spellcasting powers meet the prerequisites, consider Epic Spellcasting.
Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 4 + Int modifier.
Spells: The epic arboreal guardian's divine caster level increases by 1 per even-numbered level gained above 10th. In addition, at every even-numbered level the epic arboreal guardian gains new spells per day as if she had also gained a level in whatever divine spellcasting class she belonged to before she added the prestige class, up to the number of spells per day possessed by a 20th-level character of that class.
Natural Armor (Ex): The epic arboreal guardian's natural armor bonus improves by +1 at every even-numbered level above 10th (+6 at 12th, +7 at 14th, and so on).
Bonus Feats: The epic arboreal guardian gains a bonus feat (selected from the list of epic arboreal guardian feats) every 5 levels after 10th.
Epic Arboreal Guardian Bonus Feat List: Beast Companion, Combat Archery, Distant Shot, Energy Resistance, Enhance Spell, Epic Spell Penetration, Fast Healing, Improved Combat Casting, Improved Low-Light Vision, Improved Manyshot, Improved Metamagic, Perfect Health, Permanent Emanation, Plant Wild Shape, Spell Opportunity, Spell Stowaway, Swarm of Arrows, Tenacious Magic.
|Epic Arboreal Guardian||Hit Die: d8|
|12||+6 natural armor|
|14||+7 natural armor|
|16||+8 natural armor|
|18||+9 natural armor|
|20||+10 natural armor, bonus feat|
Older Prestige class adapted to 3.5