A Prestige Class is a class that one can take when advancing in level, but is not available to starting characters as they require a greater degree of training or esoteric knowledge that they could possibly possess as lowly hedge wizards or mercenary thugs. For more information check out this Unearthed Arcana from WotC themselves, but let me add that I firmly believe that a Prestige Class should only be issued as an option or opportunity by the DM or GM, as they make for a reward on-par with magic items or greater boons.
The following Prestige Class is designed for Dungeons & Dragons 5e, and being heavily detailed may be harder to adjust to other systems and editions than other Dungeon Situational articles. I’d also like to say that this material is not playtested, not even a little bit! The balance of this character option is based upon my familiarity with the system as a whole, but has not been checked against such complications as feats and mixing them with multiple classes. So if you use this material let me know how it goes.
The Blade Dancer
“Oh sure, it’s a lovely stage performance. I’ve seen those same skills in combat, there’s the art, my friend, a painting entirely in red! War is supposed to be gruesome, I’ve seen a man’s skull opened up by a hammer, it’s stomach churning, but a trained blade dancer? You can’t take your eyes away, and that’s the problem…”
An art honed and maintained by those elven warlords who set greater store by the blade than the weft and ways of magic. Those disciplined in the blade dance spend years learning all forms of dance, learn to forge their own blades to perfect balance, and can ultimately perform feats of combat that defy the capacity of the mortal body.
Level 5: You must have obtained 5 levels in the classes listed in the class prerequisite list below.
Dexterity 15: The spiralling and flowing movements of the blade dancer demand supreme physical control, so a high dexterity is essential.
Class: The blade dancer must belong to the fighter, monk, ranger, or rogue classes.
Equipment: In order to benefit from the prestige class features the blade dancer must be wearing medium, light, or no armour, and must not carry a shield. They must also be wielding a dagger, short sword, rapier, or scimitar, these are considered blade dancer weapons when referenced in the class features. You may not wield any weapon in two hands, but may wield a weapon in each hand.
Hit Dice: 1d8 per blade dancer level.
Hit Points per level: 1d8 (or 5) + constitution modifier.
Skill Proficiencies: Gain proficiency in the performance and acrobatics skills. If you are already proficient in either skill, add half your proficiency modifier (rounded up) to that skill again (i.e. if you are proficient in acrobatics and have a proficiency bonus of +3, you now have a +5 bonus in addition to your ability score modifier).
|4||Grand Jete, Honed Edge||3|
Graceful Edge: Starting at level 1 your familiarity with edged weaponry greatly improves your positioning and lethality. Once per turn when you hit a creature with an attack using a blade dancer weapon with the finesse property you may add 1d4 to the damage dealt by the attack.
Combat Forms: Starting at second level you can spend a bonus action to assume a combat form chosen from the list below, you know two forms at second level, and gain more as you level up according to the class features table. The combat form ends when you choose to end it, or if you choose to alter which form you are using as a bonus action. A combat form is maintained in the same way as a spell that requires concentration, if the concentration is broken by failing a concentration saving throw, you gain a level of exhaustion.
Grand Jete: Starting at 4th level, your ruthless training leave you capable of acrobatic displays that astound those fools who ought to be watching your sword. Once per turn you may expend 5 ft. of movement to jump. The distance of the jump does not count towards your movement distance, and if you end the jump next to one or more creatures you have advantage on the next attack roll you make against each of them before the end of your turn.
Honed Edge: You may add the 1d4 damage granted by your graceful edge class feature to a number of successful attacks equal to your dexterity modifier. You can do this only once per attack.
Aerial Display: You vault through the chaotic battlefield over the heads of witless combatants. When you take a move action you do not provoke opportunity attacks. You may make an attack against any number of creatures during your movement provided they are within reach at any point during that movement. If you hit, the damage dealt by the attack is equal to your dexterity modifier, and is of the same type as the weapon you are wielding.
Crescendo: (Can be used by fighters only) Every blow drives your ferocity, while never compromising your elegance. For each creature you hit with an attack this turn you gain a +1 bonus to both your AC and damage rolls and add an additional 5 ft. to your movement speed. You can stack a number of these bonuses equal to your dexterity modifier (ie. if your dexterity modifier, the bonuses to AC and damage rolls cannot exceed +3, and you cannot gain more than 15 ft. of additional movement). These bonuses last until the start of your next turn.
Dancing Partner: Even the uninitiated know, “it takes two”. As a bonus action, or as part of the same bonus action as assuming this combat form, you may designate a creature within 30 ft. of you as your dancing partner. Until you end the form or choose a new dancing partner you have advantage on attack rolls against that creature, and you may make an opportunity attack against that creature any time it would attempt an action other than attacking you. If your dancing partner attacks you, you may spend your reaction to impose disadvantage on the attack roll, if the triggering attack hits you only take half the damage.
Frantic Pace: Your tempo escalates wildly, your footfalls are a drum roll. On each of your turns you have a number of bonus actions equal to your dexterity modifier. You can only use the first bonus action to change combat form, if you do you lose any unused bonus actions.
Lethal Coda: (Can be used by rogues only) Dance is an art form, open to “creative expression”. While you are in this form you replace the 1d4 gained by your graceful edge or honed edge feature with your sneak attack dice. Doing so expends the use of your sneak attack.
Measured Timbre: You fall into pace with the combat, your opponents become part of your orchestra. In each round of combat while in this form you have a number of reactions equal to your dexterity modifier, but you may only use one per turn. You may use a reaction to move up to 10 ft. and if you end this movement next to a creature during its turn you may make an attack against it.
Shadow Dancer: (Can be used by rangers only) Whom else can you trust to match you step for step than your own shadow? When you assume this combat form expend a spell slot of 2nd level or higher. You cast spiritual weapon at a level equal to the spell level you expended. You may apply the bonus damage granted by your graceful edge or honed edge feature to damage dealt by the spiritual weapon.
Spiral of Blossoms: With a grand flourish you weave through the crowd, leaving shallow slashes in each as they stand dumbfounded. As an action you may make a melee weapon attack with advantage against each creature you choose within 10 ft. of you. If you hit the damage dealt is equal to your dexterity modifier + proficiency modifier and is the same type of damage dealt by the weapon you are wielding. You may end this action in any space not occupied by another creature within 10 ft. of where you began.
Viper’s Tongue: (Can be used by monks only) The tip of your sword darts back and forth like the head of a serpent. While you are in this form you replace the 1d4 gained by your graceful edge or honed edge feature with your martial arts dice. When you expend a Ki point to use your Flurry of Blows feature, you can replace one of the unarmed attacks with a melee weapon attack which cannot benefit from your graceful edge or honed edge feature.
If you playtest the Blade Dancer I am deeply curious to know how it goes. In particular I’d be looking for feedback on integration with the various class builds such as Rogue Archetypes, functionality with multiclassing, and feats. Still, as a creative exercise I’d gladly try this again, but not next week.
For this week’s selection, a short high-level dungeon that could serve as an exciting step in a campaign, or an interesting diversion; a tavern, complete with history, secrets, staff and regulars, a place where your players can tragically call home; and a villain… a personal speciality.