Dragon Defender

Although dragons are considered the most powerful of all creatures, they are not indestructible, though some may argue otherwise. Most dragons spend their centuries of life engaged in such pursuits as gaining great knowledge, wealth, or magic. This they often do alone without anyone to share their journey, which tends to be to their liking. However, there are those from among the true dragons of the world who purposefully seek out a champion to aid, defend, and accompany them through their lifelong endeavors. It is these champions of the draconic blood, typically chosen from among the humanoid races that heed the summons and are given the honored title of dragon defender. 

Dragon defenders are a secretive group of warriors, spellcasters, and knaves from every land who belong to a loosely structured organization called The Secret Order of Dragon Defenders. Very few outside this Order know of its existence, save those who are close and trusted friends of the dragon defender, or a sworn enemy. Due to the special bond between a dragon and its defender, dragon defenders experience a truly symbiotic relationship with their dragon companions, often sharing their inner most thoughts and dreams. This unique bond provides the defender with a truly remarkable opportunity–to serve as a dragon’s protector and companion, and glean the knowledge of the dragon race that has been kept hidden from the world for ages now past. 

Role: Clad in special armor with the appearance of dragon scales, dragon defenders are often mistaken for their most hated enemy– the dragonslayer. However, this is where their similarities end. A dragon defender is sworn to protect his bonded dragon to the death, while the dragon is likewise sworn to protect its defender. Dragon defenders are also, compelled to aid any dragon in need that is of the same type as his dragon companion, whether it be red, silver, or gold. A dragon defender may also be required to perform tasks for his dragon companion, or embark on special missions for the Grand Council or the Council of Dragons (see these entries below). Regardless of the defender’s disposition, he is left to his own endeavors, as long they do not endanger the life of his dragon or the secrecy of their order’s existence.

Alignment: Dragon defenders must have an alignment within one step of that of their bonded dragon, either on the lawful-chaotic axis or good-evil axis. Thus, a dragon defender with a lawful good dragon companion must be either lawful good, neutral good or lawful neutral.

Hit Die: d12


Requirements
To qualify to become a dragon defender, a character must fulfill all the following criteria.

Class: Any
Base Attack Bonus: +6
Skills: Knowledge (arcana) 6 ranks, Ride 6 ranks
Feats: Martial Weapon Proficiency (any), Mounted Combat
Special: To become a dragon defender, the character must gain the approval and confidence of a dragon of similar alignment for the soul purpose of becoming its defender. A petition to undertake the process of becoming a defender must then be sent to the Grand Council; and the applicant to pass the mandatory tests known as the Time of Proving, which are set by the Grand Council. Once this has been completed, the character becomes a dragon defender.


Class Skills
The dragon defender’s class skills (and the key abilities for each skill) are Acrobatics (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Handle Animal (Cha), Heal (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (arcana), Knowledge (geography) (Int), Knowledge (religion) (Int), Perception (Wis), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), Spellcraft (Int), Survival(Wis), and Swim (Str).

Skill Ranks per Level: 4 + Int modifier.


Class Features
All of the following are class features of the dragon defender prestige class.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Dragon defenders gain no proficiency with any weapon or armor.

Spells per Day/Class Feature: At the indicated levels, a dragon defender may choose one of the following two benefits.

First, the defender can choose to gain new spells per day as if he had also gained a level in a spellcasting class he belonged to before adding the prestige class. He does not, however, gain other benefits a character of that class would have gained, except for additional spells per day, spells known (if he is a spontaneous spellcaster), and an increased effective level of spellcasting. If a character had more than one spellcasting class before becoming a dragon defender, he must decide to which class he adds the new level for purposes of determining spells per day.

Conversely, the dragon defender can choose to gain a class feature in a class he belonged to before adding the prestige class. He gains all the benefits of the feature that he would have gained had he continued advancement in that class. The defender adds his defender class levels to those of his previous class if the feature’s effect is level-based. Thus, noncaster and half caster classes can continue to improve in certain aspects of a previous class.

Darkvision (Ex): At 1st level, a dragon defender gains darkvision out to 60 feet.

Defender’s Armor (Su): Upon becoming a dragon defender, the individual is presented with a suit of +1 armor of their choice or +2 bracers, as most suitable to their class, and forms a bond with it. Dragon defender armor (or bracers) is crafted from either dragon hide (leather or hide) or a special metal alloy called dragonsteel (metal armor), the forging process of which is a highly guarded secret known only to the most skilled of dragonsmiths. In any case, the armor or bracers is always masterwork quality and the same hue as the defender’s dragon companion.

As a standard action, a dragon defender can enhance his defender armor by drawing upon the power that binds him with his dragon companion. This enhancement lasts for 1 minute per character level. When activated, this causes the armor to shed light like a torch. It also grants the armor an additional +1 enhancement bonus (+2 bonus for bracers) for every four character levels he possesses, to a maximum of +6 (+12 for bracers) at 20th level. These bonuses can be added to the armor, stacking with existing armor bonuses to a maximum of +3 (+6 for bracers), or they can be used to add any of the following armor properties: champion, heavy fortification, invulnerability, light fortification, moderate fortification, spell resistance (13, 15, 17, or 19).

Adding these properties consumes an amount of bonus equal to the property’s cost. In addition, the bonuses can be consumed at the listed amount to add any of the following armor properties: energy resistance for +3 bonus, improved energy resistance for +5 bonus, righteous for +4 bonus, or unrighteous for +4 bonus. These bonuses are added to any properties the armor already has, but duplicate abilities do not stack. If the armor is not magical, at least a +1 enhancement bonus must be added before any other properties can be added. The bonus and properties granted are determined when the ability power is activated and cannot be changed until the ability is activated again. The ability imparts no bonuses if the armor is worn by anyone other than the dragon defender, but it resumes giving bonuses if the dragon defender dons the armor again. A dragon defender can use this ability once per day, plus one additional time per day with for every four character levels beyond 5th, to a total of four times per day.

A suit of defender armor (or bracers) is always enchanted with an enhanced mending spell that allows the armor to repair itself at the rate of 1 hit point per minute until it is fully restored to its original condition. Unlike a standard mending spell, this ability will restore the armor’s magical abilities. If the defender’s armor (or bracers) is destroyed, the dragon defender loses the use of this ability for 30 days, or until he gains a level, whichever comes first. During this 30-day period, the dragon defender takes a –1 penalty on attack and weapon damage rolls.

If the defender is proficient with shields, he may also obtain a matching +1 mending shield of his choice. However, the enhancement bonus of this shield does not improve as the defender gains experience, nor does it gain any special shield abilities. A dragon defender’s armor (including bracers or shield) may be enhanced further at the defender’s own cost through the normal item creation process.

Detect Slayer (Su): At will, a dragon defender can detect the presence of a dragon slayer. A dragon defender can, as a move action, concentrate on an area in 60-foot cone emanation to determine the presence of any dragons slayer’s, the number of dragon slayer’s, and the strength of each dragon slayer. If a dragon slayer is outside his line of sight, then he discerns its direction but not its exact location. The strength of a dragon slayer is determined by the HD of the creature, as given on the table below.

HD
Strength
1 or lower
Faint
2-4
Moderate
5-10
Strong
11 or higher
Overwhelming

The ability can penetrate barriers, but 1 foot of stone, 1 inch of common metal, a thin sheet of lead, or 3 feet of wood or dirt blocks it.

Dragon Bond (Ex): Upon becoming a dragon defender, a powerful bond is formed between the defender and his dragon companion (either chromatic, gem, imperial, metallic, planar or primal; see below) who are oath–sworn to protect each other, even sacrificing one’s own life to ensure the survival of the other. Once this bond is formed, it can only be broken through the death of the defender or his dragon. Both the defender and his dragon serve each other to their mutual benefit; the dragon as a benefactor and loyal steed to battle alongside, and the defender as a companion and partner in his dragon’s search of greater knowledge, ancient magic, or long forgotten treasures. A bonded dragon is always of the Young age category when first bonded to its defender, regardless of type, and uses the Dragon Companion Base Statistics table to determine its advancement abilities. Although a bonded dragon functions much like a cohort, it is a free willed creature with its own passions and desires, and is always considered combat trained.

Once per day, as a full-round action, a dragon defender may magically summon his dragon to his side, if it is not already in his company. This ability is equivalent to the word of recall spell with the defender designated as the destination, and the dragon immediately appearing adjacent to the defender. The defender can use this ability once per day at 1st level, and one additional time per day for every 4 levels thereafter, to a total of three times per day at 9th level. Subsequently, the dragon may also summon its defender and any allies to its side, using its Hit Dice as its caster level. Each such use by the dragon also counts against the defender’s daily uses of this ability.

A defender’s bond with his dragon is strong, with the pair learning to anticipate each other’s moves and dispositions. Should the defender’s dragon die, the defender is sworn to avenge its death. Until such time, the defender ceases to advance in his prestige class, and cannot qualify to become another dragon’s defender (see the Death of a Defender or his Dragon section of this entry). Once the dragon has been avenged, the defender may seek out a new dragon companion after 1 week of mourning. If accepted, this new dragon does not gain the link, evasion, or shared healing special abilities until the next time the defender gains a level.

A dragon defender does not take an armor check penalty on Ride checks while riding his dragon.

Aura of Courage (Su): At 1st level, a dragon defender is immune to fear (magical or otherwise). Each ally within 10 feet of him gains a +4 morale bonus on saving throws against fear effects. This ability functions only while the dragon defender is conscious, not if he is unconscious or dead.

Ability Boost (Ex): As a dragon defender gains levels in this prestige class, his ability scores increase at the indicated levels. The defender may increase any one ability scores he desires, and will typically select those most utilized in a previous class, such as Dexterity for a Monk or Rogue, Charisma for a Paladin or Sorcerer, and so on. These increases stack and are gained as if through level advancement.

Blindsense (Ex): At 4th level, the dragon defender gains blindsense with a range of 30 feet. Using nonvisual senses the dragon defender notices things he cannot see. He usually does not need to make Perception checks to notice and pinpoint the location of creatures within range of his blindsense ability, provided that he has line of effect (see page 215 of the Core Rulebook) to that creature. Any opponent the dragon defender cannot see still has total concealment against him, and the dragon defender still has the normal miss chance when attacking foes that have concealment. Visibility still affects the movement of a creature with blindsense. A creature with blindsense is still denied its Dexterity bonus to Armor Class against attacks from creatures it cannot see. At 8th level, the range of this ability increases to 60 feet.

Defender’s Bulwark (Ex): At 5th level, whenever the dragon defender is adjacent to his dragon, he can make an attack of opportunity against a foe that moves into any square threatened by the defender of his dragon, regardless of whether or not that movement would normally provoke an attack of opportunity. This power can only be used once per encounter. In addition, once a round as an immediate action, when a melee or ranged weapon would successfully strike his adjacent dragon, the defender can choose to have the weapon strike him instead of the intended target. The attack automatically hits the defender, regardless of AC or any miss chance in effect, and he suffers the normal consequences of the attack.

Aura of Fear (Su): At 7th level, a dragon defender can emit an aura of fear. Activating this ability is a free action that is usually part of a defender’s attack or charge. Opponents within range who witness the action may become frightened or shaken. Similar to a dragon’s frightful presence, this aura has a radius of 5 feet plus an additional 5 feet per level thereafter to a maximum of 20 feet at 10th level. This ability affects only opponents with fewer Hit Dice or levels than the defender has. An affected opponent can resist the effects with a successful Will save (DC 10 + the defender’s class levels + the defender’s Cha modifier. On a failed save, the opponent is shaken, or panicked if 4 Hit Dice or fewer. An opponent that succeeds on the saving throw is immune to that defender’s aura of fear for 24 hours. A defender’s aura of fear has a duration equal to his defender level + his Charisma modifier. These rounds do not need to be consecutive. The defender’s aura of fear is a mind-affecting fear effect.

Dragon Genesis (Ex): At 10th level, a dragon defender takes on a more draconic appearance. His ears become somewhat pointed, while his eyes and skin take on the same hue of his dragon’s scales. In addition, the defender grows claws that provide him with a claw attack. This is a primary natural attack that deals 1d4 points of damage (1d3 if Small, 1d6 if Large), plus 1–1/2 times the dragon defender’s Strength modifier. In addition, a dragon defender no longer takes penalties to his ability scores for aging and cannot be magically aged. Any such penalties that he has already taken, however, remain in place. Age bonuses still accrue, and the dragon defender still dies of old age when his time is up.


Table: Dragon Defender
Class
Base
Fort
Ref
Will


Level
Attack Bonus 
Save
Save
Save
Special
Spells per Day/Class Feature
1st
+1
+1
+0
+1
Darkvision 60 ft., defender's armor, 
detect slayer, dragon bond

2nd
+2
+1
+1
+1
Aura of courage
+1 level of existing spellcasting class/class
3rd
+3
+2
+1
+2
Ability boost (+2)
+1 level of existing spellcasting class/class
4th
+4
+2
+1
+2
Blindsense 30 ft.
+1 level of existing spellcasting class/class
5th
+5
+3
+2
+3
Defender's bulwark

6th
+6
+3
+2
+3
Ability boost (+2)
+1 level of existing spellcasting class/class
7th
+7
+4
+2
+4
Aura of fear
+1 level of existing spellcasting class/class
8th
+8
+4
+3
+4
Blindsense 60 ft.
+1 level of existing spellcasting class/class
9th
+9
+5
+3
+5
Ability boost (+2)

10th
+10
+5
+3
+5
Dragon genesis
+1 level of existing spellcasting class/class