Xauphinellean Elegant Bereaver Prestige Class

Xauphinelle, the ancient Aelven Empire. High in the Shards, the storied homeland of the Aelvenkind stretches into time immemorial. Old beyond any human concept of the word, this land was once the greatest of all the Shards, rich in all things that matter and unmatched in all things they wished to be unmatched in. Through conquest and mercilessness they forged an Empire upon the backs of the younger races; only the reptilian Drakken withstood their tyranny. For 900 long years the Ageless Empire spanned, seemingly eternal to the shorter lived races until tragedy struck.

The Second Rising of the Beneath brought great suffering, blotting out almost all the Shards; refugees were forced to flee ever upwards in terror and desperation driving their Aelven overlords before them. When the Beneath was finally driven back the Emperor lay dead and Aelvenkind were without a leader; to make things worse the succession was in doubt. Their numbers were reduced, their reign broken. While the younger races pushed out again and forged new nations, making alliances and warring upon themselves in a new struggle for dominance, the eyes of the Aelven were focused inward. For in this time an ugly and bitter civil war was waged between the supporters of the two children of the departed Emperor. Finally, Imperial Prince Tallisindar was victorious, driving his sister and her final supporters out of the remnants of the once great Empire.

Several centuries passed as the new Emperor shored up his position, crushed opposition, and took up the reigns of power of his much reduced Empire. In this time the younger races had cemented their own power. Soon bolder folk began to encroach upon lands formally held by Xauphinelle. Infuriated, Tallisindar vowed not one more inch of Aelven land would be transgressed by outsiders. He called for taxes to increase the size of Imperial forces, and military expansion began immediately. Aelven warrior-poets and battle mages alike have taken up the warbrand and stand ready for their Emperor’s call to battle. Ancient martial orders found their rosters swollen with new applicants and old alumni eager to renew their vows.

Among the martinets eager for battle is the membership of a very old and infamous dueling house known formally as the House of Xaerophranu, and colloquially as the Elegant Bereavers. Founded a millennia ago by a lesser fitz-prince, a bastard who was eventually recognized as a scion of the royal house but not in line for inheritance, who compensated for his illegitimacy by pursuing the art of the duel. Rivals and enemies weren’t so quick to slight him after he notched his hilt with sufficient victories.

After achieving recognition from his father and gaining a fair measure of status and protection from this, Xaerophranu needed a source of income. It was logical that he would teach the very style that won him his many duels and was in large part responsible for his ascending to semi-legitimacy and status. Thus the House of Xaerophranu was formed and exists to this day. Xaerophranu was a bit of a dandy, and was current with courtly styles up to the second lest detractors find some easy hook for insults or discrimination; his students tended to emulate this behavior. Thus, the students soon developed a reputation as a nappish lot eager to demonstrate their new skills at the merest excuse. Wealthy sons of nobles and notables these students suffered few repercussions for slaying those of lesser station, particularly the upper crust of the subjugated ‘lesser’ races in such duels, and often delighted in toying with their opponents before killing them. Students of the school soon came to be called many names, none of them kind. The core clique of the group in those days latched on to the most genteel epithet of the lot, namely ‘the Elegant Bereavers’, and began to use it to refer to themselves. This name has stuck to this day.

During the war for succession, the House sided with Tallisindar. The Bereavers went into overdrive, challenging supporters of rival claimants at every opportunity. In the times of trouble that followed Tallisindar crushed any opposition to his rule, which often equated to his whim, and many ‘political dissenters’ met their end at the tip of a Bereavers blade. Ever since it has often been whispered that Tallisindar uses the House as a form of public assassination; those resistant to the Emperor’s will often soon find themselves staring at a glove thrown by a cold-eyed duelist, dandily dressed in keeping with the latest court fad, challenging a duel over some imagined slight. Such duels are usually fatal. True or not, the House proved themselves strong supporters of the Imperial Prince turned Emperor through these actions and have his royal favor.

When Xaerophranu developed his style in the crucible of necessity, his foes were most often peers of the realm, elves of stature, or their champions. It was politically unacceptable to simply slay them out of hand, where as they suffered from no such restrictions before he finally won his recognition. Therefore Xaerophranu developed a very reactive style that focused on countering maneuvers with yet another maneuver. Unaware of the styles history, some have been fooled by this into thinking the style merely a courtly technique ill suited to lethal situations and true swordfights. Many such fools met their end thereafter, for once an opponent has been countered and rendered prone or weaponless the practitioner of this style is able to drive home killing strikes relatively uncontested. The bar has been raised over the centuries, and it is currently very difficult to win admission to the House; only very skilled applicants are accepted. The House has a certain reputation to maintain and do not lack for applicants; therefore they screen would-be students thoroughly.

Base Attack Bonus: +8
Feats: Combat Reflexes, Exotic Weapon Proficiency: Elven Thinblade, Expertise, Improved Critical: Elven Thinblade, Improved Disarm, Improved Trip
Skills: Diplomacy: 3 Ranks, Knowledge: Local: 3 Ranks, Knowledge: Nobility & Royalty: 3 Ranks
Abilities: Int 13+, Str 13+
Race: Pure-bred Xauphenellean Elves only
Alignment: Non-Good

Level    Attack Bonus    Fortitude    Reflex    Will    Abilities
1    +1    +0    +2    +0    Engage and Guide
2    +2    +0    +3    +0    Trip Ward
3    +3    +1    +3    +1    Disengage and Disarm
4    +4    +1    +4    +1    Corps-a-corps
5    +5    +1    +4    +1    Stop-Thrust

Hit Die: D8
Skill Points: Int Bonus + 4 / level
Skill List: Balance, Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate, Jump, Knowledge: Local, Knowledge: Nobility & Royalty, Sense Motive, Tumble

Class Abilities
Weapon and Armor Proficiencies: No weapon or armor proficiencies are granted by this prestige class.

Elegant Bereaver Style: The House weapon of choice is the Elven Thinblade (Dragon 275: Medium weapon,100gp {SRP}, 1d8 damage, 18-20/x2, 3lb, Piercing, Usable with Weapon Finesse, requires Exotic Weapon Proficiency) and an applicant must prove their ability with this weapon. However, though they are deadliest with the Thinblade without a doubt, duelists don’t always get to choose their weapons. Therefore, the Elegant Reavers train to use their fighting style with any of the following weapons if need be as long as they are proficient with the weapon: Cutlass, Dagger, Falchion, Great Sword, Long Sword, Rapier, Saber, Scimitar, Short Sword, Thinblade.

Engage and Guide: At 1st level the Xauphinellean Elegant Bereaver has begun to learn the basics of engaging a melee opponents weapon and then using incremental adjustments to guide that weapon out of line. Whenever using Expertise vs. a melee opponent, the practitioner gains a Deflection bonus to AC equal to their class level in addition to the Dodge bonus granted by Expertise.

Trip Ward: At 2nd level the Xauphinellean Elegant Bereaver has learned to read an opponents intention to trip him and bring his blade into a position to ward off the trip. The practitioner may use Counter-Trip (listed below) as a virtual feat.

New feat by Ed Hastings aka Killer Shrike
Counter-Trip [General]
You are difficult to trip.
Prerequisite: Combat Reflexes, Expertise, Improved Trip
Benefit: When a melee opponent makes a Trip attack against you, you gain a +4 Dodge bonus to AC vs the opponents melee touch attack to Trip you. You may not use this ability when denied your Dexterity bonus to AC. Dodge bonuses stack.

Disengage and Disarm: At 3rd level the Xauphinellean Elegant Bereaver has learned a reactive maneuver to combat those fond of sundering. The practitioner may use Counter-Sunder (listed below) as a virtual feat.

New feat by Ed Hastings aka Killer Shrike
Counter-Sunder [General]
You may attempt to disarm an opponent who has failed to strike your weapon.
Prerequisite: Combat Reflexes, Expertise, Improved Disarm
Benefit: When a melee opponent attempts to strike your weapon, including by use of the Sunder feat, if you win the opposed attack roll you may choose to make a disarm attempt as per the Improved Disarm feat versus that opponent without as a free attack of opportunity. Note that under no circumstances can you make more than one attack of opportunity versus the same opponent in the same round.

Corps-a-corps: At 4th level the Xauphinellean Elegant Bereaver has learned a reactive maneuver to combat those fond of disarming. The practitioner may use Counter-Disarm (listed below) as a virtual feat.

New feat by Ed Hastings aka Killer Shrike
Counter-Disarm [General]
You may attempt to trip an opponent if they fail to disarm you.
Prerequisite: Combat Reflexes, Expertise, Improved Trip
Benefit: When a melee opponent attempts to disarm you, including by use of the Improved Disarm feat, if you win the opposed attack roll you may choose to make a trip attack as per the Improved Trip feat versus that opponent as a free attack of opportunity. Note that under no circumstances can you make more than one attack of opportunity versus the same opponent in the same round.

Stop-Thrust: At 5th level the Xauphinellean Elegant Bereaver has honed his reflexes to a razor edge and is capable of deflecting a surely fatal blow at the last second to minimize the damage. If an opponent scores a critical threat, the practitioner gains a +4 Dodge bonus to AC for purposes of confirming the critical. Thus if an opponent hit with an attack that was also a critical threat versus a practitioner with an AC of 24, the opponent must hit AC 28 or better to confirm the critical. Dodge bonuses stack.