The Bone Dancer PrC


My second prestige class. I find myself liking doing these...

Bone Dancer

"The head bone's connected to the leg bone,
the leg bone's connected to the hip bone,
the hip bone's connected to the arm bone."
- Dem Bones

The sight of a bone dancer in battle is fearsome. Shimmering out of focus, dodging, weaving and ducking to avoid the blows of his foes, dancing away mockingly, and then darting back to deliver a precise strike to end the life of his adversary. The bone dancer is an agile warrior who weaves necromantic magic into her swordplay.
The vast majority of bone dancers start as bards, though a few rogue/wizards or sorcerer/wizards have also advanced in the class.
Hit Die: d8

To qualify to become a Bone Dancer, a character must fulfill the following criteria:
Alignment: Any evil
Base Attack Bonus: +4
Skills: Knowledge (arcana) 8 ranks, Perform (dance) 8 ranks, Tumble 8 ranks.
Feats: Dodge, Mobility, Weapon Finesse (any piercing or slashing weapon).
Spells: Must be able to cast 2nd-level arcane spells of the Necromancy school.

Class Skills:
The Bone Dancer's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Balance (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Decipher Script (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Hide (Dex), Jump (Str), Knowledge [all skills, taken individually] (Int), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Spellcraft (Int), and Tumble (Dex).
Skill Points at Each Level: 4 + Int modifier.
Level BAB Fort Ref Will 
  1   +0  +0   +2   +2    
  2   +1  +0   +3   +3
  3   +2  +1   +3   +3   
  4   +3  +1   +4   +4   
  5   +3  +1   +4   +4  
  6   +4  +2   +5   +5  
  7   +5  +2   +5   +5   
  8   +6  +2   +6   +6  
  9   +6  +3   +6   +6  
  10  +7  +3   +7   +7  
Level   Special Abilities             Spells
  1     Blackshimmer +1, blade dance  
  2     		                    +1 Spellcaster Level
  3     Blackshimmer +2 dance of blood
  4     Grave strike                  +1 Spellcaster Level
  5     Blackshimmer +3 deathweb dance
  6    		                    +1 Spellcaster Level 
  7     Blackshimmer +4, touch of undeath
  8     Soultheft dance               +1 Spellcaster Level                             
  9     Blackshimmer +5
  10    Danse macabre                 +1 Spellcaster Level [/color]

Class Features:
Weapon and Armor Proficiency:
The bone dancer gains no additional proficiency in any weapon or armor.

Spells: At every second level gained in the bone dancer class, the character gains new spells per day as if he had also gained a level in a spellcasting class she belonged to before adding the prestige class. He does not, however, gain any other benefit a character of that class would have gained (improved chance of controlling or rebuking undead, metamagic or item creation feats, hit points beyond those he receives from the prestige class, and so on), except for an increased effective level of spellcasting. If a character had more than one spellcasting class before becoming a bone dancer, he must decide to which class he adds the new level for determining spells per day.

Dances: The bone dancer learns a number of battle dances during her career. These are the blade dance, dance of blood, deathweb dance, soultheft dance, and danse macabre. The bone dancer gains the bonuses of a dance only when wielding a weapon she has Weapon Finesse with. Only one dance may be in effect at a time. No dance may be initiated while wielding two weapons. A dance may be initiated at will, but each dance can only be used once per day.
While dancing, a bone dancer cannot use any Charisma-, Dexterity-, or Intelligence-based skills (except for Balance, Escape Artist, Intimidate, and Ride), the Concentration skill, or any abilities that require patience or concentration, nor can he cast spells or activate magic items that require a command word, a spell trigger (such as a wand), or spell completion (such as a scroll) to function. He can use any feat she has except Combat Expertise, item creation feats, and metamagic feats.
A dance lasts for rounds equal to 3+the bone dancer's Con modifier. After that time, the bone dancer must do a Perform (dance) check to continue the dance for another 3+Con modifier rounds. For every check to continue the dance after that, the DC is raised by 5. The bone dancer may always end a dance at his own volition.

Blackshimmer (Su): A veil of dark negative energy shimmers around the bone dancer, making him more difficult to see and hit. He gains a +1 deflection Armor Class bonus. This increases by one every other level. Invoking the blackshimmer is a free action, and there is no limit to how many times per day it can be used, or for how long periods.

Blade Dance (Ex): DC 15. At 1st level, the bone dancer learns the blade dance, where his footwork quickens and her weapon darts around so fast it almost seems to be in two places at once. For the duration of the dance, the bone dancer is as hasted, as per the spell.

Dance of Blood (Ex): DC 17. At 3rd level, the bone dancer learns the dance of blood. Her weapon flashes towards her foes with quick, precise movements, targeted at major arteries. The ensuing wounds are what gives this dance its name. During the dance, the bone dancer's critical hit threat range is doubled, as per the feat Improved Critical. Dance of blood cannot be in effect at the same time with another of bone dancer's dances.

Grave Strike (Su): At 4th level, the bone dancer's skill with necromancy and swordplay have reached a point where she is able to sever an undead creature's connection to the Negative Energy Plane with her weapon. She is now able to score critical hits against undead. Note that this ability does not apply to other creatures that are normally immune to critical hits, like elementals or constructs.

Deathweb Dance (Su): DC 19. At 5th level, the bone dancer learns the deathweb dance, the skill of manipulating her veil of blackshimmer to produce lethal results. To initiate the deathweb dance, the bone dancer must have blackshimmer active. During the dance, every melee attack that hits her deals 1d6 points of negative energy damage to the attacker. The attack deals damage to the bone dancer as normal.

Touch of Undeath (Su): At 7th level, the bone dancer's studies of necromancy have reached a point where the corpses of those she has slain become mindless zombies under her control. This ability works as per the spell animate dead, with some exceptions. The bone dancer does not need to use material, verbal, or somatic components for the spell. She may only control 2 HD worth of undead creatures per level with this ability. The ability may only be used on creatures killed by the bone dancer, with a weapon she has Weapon Finesse in. Using the touch of undeath is a free action. The creature rises as a zombie a round after its death.

Soultheft Dance (Su): DC 21. At 8th level, the bone dancer's swordplay and magic fuse into yet another vile form, as she learns the soultheft dance. The bone dancer's strikes may steal the life force of her foes, as per the spell vampiric touch for the duration of the dance. The damage dealt and hit points received is the weapon's damage. The ability may not be used while dual wielding.

Danse Macabre (Su): DC 25. At 10th level, the bone dancer's abilities have reached a peak, and she has learned the danse macabre, a terrible display of fearsome swordwork and dark magic that seems like straight from a nightmare. During the danse macabre, she emanates a fear effect, forcing all foes within a 30-foot radius to make a Will save (DC determined by the bone dancer's previous spellcasting class.) or become panicked, as per the spell. All her melee attacks with her Finessed weapon delivers an enervation effect, as per the spell.
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First Post
Nice concept, but is it balanced?

When a bonedancer reaches the end of a dance and must make a Perform check, what happens when it succeeds? Does it extend the dance by the same time period? Allow it to continue indefinitely?

The dance checks do not seem particularly high. Assume the bone dancer started as a 6th level bard, with 9 ranks in Perform(dancing). It wouldn't be unreasonable for the character to have at least a Charisma of 14, giving another +2, so the dancer's bonus to dancing is +11. A DC 15 (Blade Dance) would only fail on a roll of 3 or less! And Blade Dance seems pretty damn powerful, to my somewhat inexperienced eyes.

So long as the character continues to put points into Perform(dancing), the DCs are not going to be challenging. The lesser dances will have no chance of failure, and new ones will have a similarly low rate of failure. (DC 25 for a 16th level character would be pretty easy.)

PS If this is useful feedback, could I beg you to take a look at my recent post in this board? Thanks. :)


Yeah, well, there isn't really a point in making the main class feature very difficult to use.

As for blade dance's balance... No, I don't think it is powerful. The class itself does not really have a high BAB, nor will the classes who are taking it. The bone dancer's ability to deal out damage is balanced by his inability to take it. He'll have less hit points and do less damage, on average, than a fighter of his level.

I'll clarify the dance duration stuff. Thanks for noting that.


First Post
I actually like the idea of the class quite a bit.

But I'm a sucker for any melee Bard prestige class. :)
It reminds me somewhat of 'my' (War) Fan Dancer class/PrC.

I'd suggest removing the BAB requirement, since that pumps up the requireement to Bard6, doesn't it? And the Bard is rather weak to dedicate 6 classes before getting into this PrC. Also remove the Dodge and Mobility feat prereqs - too many feats to dedicate.

Most PrC's I've seen don't have that may prereqs.

However, the Blade Dance is overpowering if it doubles damage -
that's just too much.
Similarly, the Soultheft and Danse Macabre are overpowering.
They shouldn't get ALL the damage they do back in healing - probably not even half (compare to Enemies & Allies Wrathful Healing ability: half damage back, a +3 enchantment). And an Enervation effect is too strong with each strike (Compare to DotF Energy Draining armor - well, actually that's not that bad, I guess). If used with TWF, it could get ugly fast.


*Cough* So, essentially what you're saying is that the prerequisites are too high, and the class abilities are overpowered. However, for a 7th- or 8th-level character, the abilities aren't all that overpowered.

The blade dance, by the way, does not double damage, but attacks. The difference between wrathful healing and the soultheft dance is that wrathful healing works all the time, while soultheft dance can last, in essence, only one combat encounter.

Oh, bother... let's slap him the limitations of a barbarian rage, too... I always had in mind to add them, but then didn't, for some reason.

Also, the dances cannot be used while dual wielding, now.
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First Post
damn. lost my post.

umm.... I like the addition of the limitations to Bone Dances.
I think you should add in that he's winded after Dancing (especially if he can extend the Dance with a Perform check).

The blade dance is too powerful, if it doubles attacks - I know of no mechanic in D&D that doubles attacks (unless maybe the Blessed of Gruumsh PrC). I'd substitute it (especially since it's the first Dance he gets) with something like a bonus to damage - maybe a bleeding effect, or decaying effect - something that matches the flavor of the class.

Other than those 2, it looks like a pretty good class.
The half-spellcasting is a big price to pay. That and the 3/4 BAB make it so you can give it some pretty nice PrC abilities.


First Post
reapersaurus said:

Other than those 2, it looks like a pretty good class.
The half-spellcasting is a big price to pay. That and the 3/4 BAB make it so you can give it some pretty nice PrC abilities.

I agree whole-heartedly with the others about toning down the requirements and blade dance. It's still pretty tough for the higher levels too. I would keep all the spell abilities, or else I would never take this PrC.

Excellent concept, and I like the style that it can add to a campaign. Good job with everything else too, it really works and looks good for a bard-type PrC.


First Post
The blade dance description sounds like haste why not just make it that it is haste I'd raise the perform dc tho.

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