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Origins of the PCs: Raptoran

In ancient times, the people that were eventually to become the raptoran made pacts with the great lords of the Elemental Plane of Air. In exchange for the assistance of their most powerful warriors in interplanar warfare, the raptoran were graced with abilities giving them dominion over the skies.

Introduced in Races of the Wild, raptorans are winged and feathered humanoids with strong affinity to the element of air. Making their homes on cliffs and above canyons, they hunt and gather from the surrounding areas to feed their flocks. Strongly driven by a sense of community, raptorans must leave their flocks and join the outside world, returning only when they learn to fly and sometimes becoming adventurers in the process.

Raptoran Strengths

  • Bonuses to Climb, Jump and Spot checks
  • Bonus to caster level while casting spells with the Air descriptor
  • Able to glide and eventually fly
  • Takes less damage from falling
  • Always able to discern which direction is north
  • Treats footbows as martial weapons, rather than exotic weapons

Raptoran Weaknesses

  • Flight progression requires several hit dice before being usable
  • Cannot fly with a medium or heavy load

Playing a Raptoran
If you're a raptoran, you have few weaknesses, racially speaking. The only downside is that you don't immediately receive the ability to fly and must achieve it after gaining several levels. That being said, all raptoran have the ability to glide (which is like falling, but somewhat slower). They are also restricted in the kind of armor they can wear while still being able to fly, but this can be remedied through feat selection, or by building a character based around lighter armor.

Since you're likely to be flying, you should take full advantage of that as it gives you a distinct advantage over other adventurers and some of the more terrestrial monsters. Of course, this does mean little in the tight confines of a dungeon.

Raptoran spellcasters also receive a bonus to caster level when casting any spell with the Air descriptor. This benefits several different classes and can be a boon, but probably won't define your character, unless of course they are a spellcaster.

Class Suggestions
Raptoran characters tend to be extremely well rounded and can be effective in just about every single class out there. There are however some classes that don't mesh well with the raptoran race, and in this case, it's easier to talk about these than what they are good about.

Since raptorans cannot fly with medium or heavy loads, they should generally avoid wearing heavy armor and classes that rely upon heavy armor should be avoided. That's not to say that raptorans should not become fighters, but if they do, they should select feats and armor to help them be effective in combat and still be able to take wing. See the feats section below for some ideas on how to remedy this issue.

Flight also means that terrestrial forms of travel are less attractive to raptorans. There are not a large number of classes that rely on mounted combat, mainly the paladin and the knight (Player's Handbook II), but raptoran characters will likely want to avoid both of these.

Because raptorans are better when they are less encumbered, they do well with classes that rely less on equipment. The monk is a somewhat rare choice for the usually chaotic raptoran, but provides them with bonuses for fighting both unarmed and unencumbered. For a psionic twist, consider the soulknife (Expanded Psionic Handbook), which provides the character with weapons formed from pure psychic energy. The ninja (Complete Adventurer) is also a good choice as it provides bonuses for fighting unarmored and gives the raptoran the ability to disappear, turning them into a literal spectre of death.

Raptorans do fairly well as spellcasters, especially as those focusing on elemental energy. Druids, sha'ir (Dragon Magazine #315), shugenja (Complete Divine), spirit shamans (Complete Divine) and warmages (Complete Arcane) are all excellent choices that take advantage of their spellcasting affinities.

Raptorans have the ability to receive substitution levels for three separate classes (all available in Races of the Wild). Raptoran clerics have defense against airborne creatures and extremely strong ties with air elementals. Raptoran fighters can fly while carrying a medium load, receive bonuses to attack by flying in from above their enemies and can fly faster than other raptorans. Raptoran sorcerers gain air elemental familiars, learn a number of air-related spells, can cast spells quickly while on the wing and they have access to learn different spells than most sorcerers.

Feat Suggestions
Despite having absolutely no racial feats, raptoran characters still have access to a huge number of feats due to their ability to fly. The following feats help improve the raptoran's natural ability to fly. Because raptoran don't learn to fly until 5th level, the Born Flyer feat (Races of the Wild) allows them to take feats that require a fly speed as a prerequisite much sooner.

If the raptoran will be taking part in combat while flying, they should begin taking feats to help improve their capabilities as soon as they can begin flying. Flyby Attack (Monster Manual) allows the raptoran to make hit and run attacks while flying and can be improved to allow for more attacks through the Great Flyby Attack and Improved Flyby Attack feats (both in Savage Species). For most raptoran, the Hover feat (Monster Manual) allows them to make a full attack while flying in place. Raptoran clerics under the effects of righteous might or wizards under the effect of enlarge person can also use this feat to create dust clouds.

Power Dive (Savage Species) allows the raptoran to make an extra slam attack during a dive attack. Diving Charge (Races of the Wild) gives a bonus to damage when diving, based on the character's flying speed.

Aerial Superiority (Races of the Wild) gives raptoran characters a bonus to Armor Class when flying, allowing them to be slightly more protected, especially since they are most likely to be lightly armored, if at all.

Raptoran that focus upon ranged combat, especially scouts, rangers and the like, can benefit from the Plunging Shot (Races of the Wild) which gives characters a bonus to damage with ranged weapons when they are high above their opponents.

The Winged Warrior tactical feat (Races of the Wild) gives raptoran characters a small dust cloud ability (smaller than that provided to Large-sized creatures by the Hover feat), bonuses to several feats when moving faster than their base land speed and a special feint attack using their wings.

With the Greatest of Ease
The Wingover feat (Monster Manual) can allow raptorans to quickly change direction while flying in order to keep close to combat or avoid dangers. Improved Flight (Complete Adventurer and Races of the Wild) improves the character's maneuverability by one step.

Aerial Reflexes (Races of the Wild) provides a bonus to Reflex saves based on the raptoran's flying maneuverability.

Flying Juggernaut
Although raptoran generally can't fly in heavier armor or while carrying heavy loads, there are some ways go get around the problem. The Reinforced Wings feat allows them to take advantage of medium armor, while the Heavyweight Wings feat does the same for heavy armor. Both of these can be found in Races of the Dragon.

Prestige Class Suggestions
As with classes, raptoran are so adaptable that they can do extremely well when taking levels in a great number of prestige classes. There are however some classes that take advantage of the raptoran's natural abilities or otherwise augment them in ways that they generally don't for land-bound races.

Aerial Avenger (Dragon #319) - This is an excellent choice for just about any raptoran character that wants to improve their ability to fly. As they level, they learn to fly faster and better and gain a number of abilities that assist them in fighting while in flight, including a terrifying scream that can weaken the wills of those that would oppose them.

Elemental Archon (Faiths and Pantheons) - Due to their affinity for air-elemental magic and their race's ancient pacts, raptorans that follow the path of the elemental archon will likely focus on air. In doing so, they receive combat bonuses against creatures with the earth subtype, resistance to electricity, caster level bonuses to air spells (which stack with their racial bonus), bonuses to fight airborne creatures while flying and a mephit companion. This all leads to the raptoran becoming an air elemental, and all while improving their spellcasting abilities.

Skypledged (Races of the Wild) - The skypledged are raptoran warriors pledged to aid the air elementals in their wars should they be called upon. In exchange for this pact, and forgoing casting spells with the fire, earth and water descriptors they gain access to a spellpool that they can use to receive a measure of spontaneity and flexibility in their spellcasting in exchange for a debt that must later be repaid. In addition they gain the ability to calm or increase winds in ever-growing power, summon air elementals and call upon winds to create a cyclone or simply prevent an ally from falling to their deaths.

Stormlord (Complete Divine) - Stormlords are the undisputed masters of thunder and lightning. Their main ability is that to enchant javelins and spears that they can throw from above their enemies to come crashing down like lightning bolts. In addition, they gain resistance to electricity, walk and eventually fly through powerful storms unhindered and finally call upon a storm of elemental fury.

Stormtalon (Races of the Wild) - An excellent choice for a raptoran warrior that wants to remain airborne, the stormtalon class allows the raptoran to turn their talons into weapons, provide them with an increase to flight speed, and gives them a number of feats to improve their flying abilities.

New Material

Raptoran Paragon

Quick and deadly, the raptoran paragon is a capable warrior ready to be pressed into service in extraplanar wars as part of their pact with the powerful lords of the Elemental Plane of Air. Raptoran paragons are extremely alert and ever dangerous to their foes, but to their flocks, they are revered protectors and champions. When great evils encroach upon a raptoran community, it is their paragons that answer the call for help, swooping down from the skies to mete out retribution upon their foes.
    Adventures: Most raptoran paragons are those that have already returned from the Walk of Four Winds, and few are strangers to adventuring. They are far from foolish though, and very rarely rush headlong into battle. Instead they prefer to observe and gather information first, and then strike once they are sure of victory. While they are naturally curious, they generally adventure for the sake of their flock rather than for personal gain or glory. They may also find themselves conscripted by the elder lords of the Elemental Plane of Air, acting as their agents in the Material Plane.
    Characteristics: Their speed, cunning and most importantly their ability to fly mean that raptoran paragons are first and foremost observers. Naturally, they prefer stealth and skill to brute strength, but are not afraid to perform violence should the need arise. Although they are in essence foot soldiers for a race of nature worshippers, their allegiance is to the powerful elemental patrons of their race. Their physical skill is augmented by their spiritual connection to these beings.
    Alignment: The majority of raptoran paragons are chaotic good. They enjoy life within their small flocks and the freedom this provides them in expressing themselves. At the same time, they extol their peoples' good nature and are willing to assist those in need, even if it's just in an indirect fashion.
    Religion: Raptoran paragons generally worship the deities of their people. Failing that, they have been known to follow the teachings of various sky deities or even to directly pledge themselves to extremely powerful air elemental lords. Occasional raptoran paragons possess some of the teachings of druidic tradition. Most however have more formal clerical training and multiclass as clerics.
    Background: Every raptoran paragon tells a different story, but most have a strong connection to their flocks and to their people. While on the Walk of Four Winds, they reflect constantly on their separation from their families and rejoice upon returning home. It is this connection to the raptoran race that makes them strive to help more, and in doing so become powerful warriors, not unlike the fabled Skypledged.
    Races: Raptoran paragons, like all raptorans are fairly insular when within their flocks. When adventuring, they tend to follow their peoples' own preferences for the 'land-bound' races. They tend to get along extremely well with elves, and reasonably so with gnomes and halflings. They find dwarves to be extremely bizarre, as the idea of living a life underground is completely foreign to them.
    They are generally cautious with humans, with whom their race has never had the best relations with. If a human is treats them with respect, they react much better and usually come around in time. They regard half-elves and half-orcs much as they do humans, and some see no distinction between those races.
    Other Classes: Raptoran paragons come from a background of strong cooperation and generally get along well with most other classes. Their somewhat improvisational style of adventuring can make them butt heads with more structured classes such as monks or paladins. They find themselves perplexed by those that choose to tether themselves to the ground by riding creatures like horses. They have great respect for other soldiers and get along famously with those that share that kind of mentality.

Game Rule Information
Raptoran paragons have the following game statistics.
    Abilities: As they rely heavily upon their senses and their ability to commune with the divine, raptoran paragons find Wisdom to be very important to them. Dexterity, Constitution and Strength (in that order) are also very important for keeping them hale and hearty within battle.
    Alignment: Any.
    Hit Die: d8.

Class Skills
The raptoran paragon's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Jump (Str), Knowledge(nature) (Int), Knowledge(religion) (Int), Move Silently (Dex), Profession (Wis), Search (Int), Spot (Wis) and Survival (Wis). See Chapter 4: Skills in the Player's Handbook for skill descriptions.
    Skill Points at Each Level: 2 + Int modifier.

Class Features
All of the following are class features of the raptoran paragon prestige class.
    Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Raptoran paragons are proficient with all simple and martial weapons and with light armor. They are also proficient with the foot spike.
    Spells per Day: At 2nd and 3rd level, a raptoran paragon gains new spells per day as if she had also gained a level in cleric. She does not, however, gain any other benefit a character of that class would have gained. This essentially means that she adds the level of raptoran paragon to her level in cleric, then determins spells per day and caster level accordingly.
    If a raptoran paragon has no levels in cleric, this class feature has no effect.
    Eagle Eyes (Ex): A raptoran paragon has extremely sharp eyes. Her racial bonus on Spot checks increases to +2. In addition, a raptoran paragon's low-light vision increases in range, allowing her to see three times as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight and similar conditions of poor illumination.
    Steely Grip (Ex): A raptoran paragon's racial bonus to Climb checks increases to +4. In addition, they receive a +2 racial bonus to attack rolls to resist being disarmed.
    Air Mastery (Su): At 2nd level, a raptoran paragon casts spells with the air discriptor at +1 caster level. This bonus stacks with the Pact of the Wind Lords racial trait and similar abilities.
    Ability Boost (Ex): At 3rd level, a raptoran paragon's Wisdom score increases by 2 points.

Table 1-01: The Raptoran Paragon
Level Base Attack
Special Spells per Day
1st +0
Eagle eyes, steely grip -
2nd +1
Air mastery +1 level of cleric
3rd +2
Ability boost (Wis +2) +1 level of cleric

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