Suar-Lanyr prior to 1246 N.C.

Background: Suar-Lanyr means "blade dancer" in the Telani tongue. It is the name of an order of warrior-mages that existed among the Gelvani since time immemorial. The origin of the Suar-Lanyr is probably unknown to the Gelvani. It is possible that some sage possesses this obscure bit of knowledge, but if so it has not been revealed to Kalthanan.

Prior to the rise of Kalthanan, the status of the Suar-Lanyr was rather vague. That they enjoyed a widespread and positive reputation among the Bloods of their people is obvious; even the Weylifin greeted Kalthanan with respect on the basis of his being a Suar-Lanyr. That they enjoyed status within the larger Gelvani society is also obvious; before the Valatha'Kahn, the temple of Kelamin in Shey-Tyshan was involved enough in their training that Kalthanan (among others) completed his apprenticeship there. It doesn't seem as if the Suar-Lanyr possessed specific rank and title within Gelvani society simply because they belonged to the order. It appears that the order was given deference and respect because they championed the Gelvani and their causes, but that is the extent of it.

So they weren't an official arm of the Gelvani royal courts… but they also weren't an adventuring guild, either. They were idealists, they were dedicated to the protection of the Gelvani, and they were aggressive in seeking out their peoples' enemies.

Mechanics: When we first started gaming, the genesis for the Suar-Lanyr were 2E Bladesingers. Like the Suar-Lanyr, Bladesingers worked hard to master a single weapon while incorporating arcane spellcasting in melee combat.

2E Bladesingers used the Bladesong Style, which was acquired via the expenditure of two Weapon Proficiencies (plus one to become proficient with their weapon of choice). In 3E, 3.5, and Pathfinder, this much can be duplicated via Feats. In fact, since 3.5, we have seen the rise of a category called Style Feats. These are unfortunately always the province of Monks and such, but you'll recall that one of my intentions was to introduce other Styles that reflect the fact that European schools of swordsmanship had their own tradition, which was rich, academic, and purpose-driven.

If we accept that Style Feats can be the province of other classes (and they should), then a 3E/3.5/Pathfinder Su'Lanyr Style could be as follows:
1. Feat #1 = a Dodge-based AC bonus versus melee or touch attacks
2. Feat #2 = a Competence-based bonus to hit when making melee or touch attacks
3. Feat #3 = a Free parry or a Riposte (as per the Feats of the same name)

Hindsight being perfect, we probably could have easily introduced (or some variation of it) that in 3E. Such is life. That only covers the Bladesong Style/Su'Lanyr, though. 3E rules did not allow for Kits. We opted to re-define what the Suar-Lanyr were, and ended up with a Prestige Class. The only problem with this is that the prestige class was based on one character, and was written up in a way where that one character would not have even qualified for it when he began his career.

Pathfinder Archetypes help rectify this. How would an Archetype help out in this case?

Each core and base class draws upon a central idea, a basic concept representing the commonly held understanding of what a character of a certain class should be, and is designed to be useful as a foundation to the widest possible array of characters. Beyond that basic concept, however, exists the potential for innumerable interpretations and refinements. A member of the bard class, for example, might be an incorrigible archaeologist, a dashing swashbuckler, or a dangerously graceful dervish dancer, each refined by a player's choice of background details, class options, and specific rules such as feats to better simulate the character she imagines and make that character more effective at pursuing her specific goals.

In this case, we know that the Bladesinger Kit largely focused on on that type of fighter-mage's specialization with a single weapon:
1. Bonus to hit and damage with one weapon.
2. Bonus to perform "special maneuvers" (such as disarming).
3. Bonus to AC while casting spells in melee combat.
4. Ability to cast spells one-handed (albeit with a slight penalty to casting speed).
5. Penalty to attacks when wearing heavy armor.

So a Suar-Lanyr of the "old school" (prior to Kalthanan's journey to Issantia) would be a fighter-mage with a Fighter Archetype that reflected the above abilities. What would this look like? The title of the Suar-Lanyr comes from their graceful, dance-like swordfighting style and its associated techniques. A Suar-Lanyr's movements in combat are elegant, conservative, and subtle. Through feints, misdirection, and anticipation, the blade dancer leaves his foe overcommitted and unbalanced. His abilities should reflect this.

Below is an example, which I came up with off the top of my head. I simply cherry-picked abilities from three different Archetypes in the Advanced Player's Guide that best fit the 2E Bladesinger. Simply think of it as a place-holder to show you that it can be done. Feel free to compare it to other Fighter Archetypes in the Advanced Player's Guide.

Elusiveness (Ex): At 2nd level, the character gains a +1 dodge bonus to AC from during a round in which he is casting a spell or using a magical item. This bonus increases by +1 for every four levels after 2nd. This bonus does not apply when wearing medium or heavy armor or carrying a medium or heavier load. This ability replaces bravery.

Sword Training (Ex): At 3rd level, the character gains a +1 bonus on attack and damage rolls with his chosen weapon. The bonus improves by +1 for every four levels beyond 3rd. The character is considered non-proficient with all other weapons, and does not receive a racial bonus for any other Gelvani weapons. This ability replaces armor training 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Sword Focus: At 5th level, the character gains a +1 bonus to CMD against disarm and trip attempts and a +1 bonus to CMB to disarm and trip opponents while wielding his chosen weapon. The bonus increases by +1 for every four levels beyond 5th. This ability replaces weapon training 1.

Mirror Move (Ex): At 9th level, the character gains his sword focus bonus as an insight bonus to AC when attacked by his chosen weapon. This ability replaces weapon training 2.

Avoidance (Ex): At 13th level, a suar-lanyr's elusiveness applies against ranged attacks. This ability replaces weapon training 3.

Penultimate Step (Ex): At 17th level, when the character confirms a critical against an opponent, he can make a disarm or sunder attempt (or trip, if his weapon can be used to trip) against that opponent as an immediate action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity. This ability replaces weapon training 4.

Retribution (Ex): At 19th level, when the character makes a full attack with his chosen weapon, every creature that hits him with a melee attack before the beginning of his next turn provokes an attack of opportunity from him. This ability replaces armor mastery.

Again, this is just an example. Its background text would make it clear that this Archetype is for Gelvani Fighters who multi-class as arcane spellcasters and belong to the order of the Suar-Lanyr.

Rules like this would be best shown in a sourcebook dedicated to the Gelvani. It would be a viable option for those wishing to play an older character, or for a GM to build an NPC from the years before the Valatha'Kahn. To older gamers (or, in Regan's case, since he's forever frozen in age, simply old-school), such as ourselves, they would be a nod to the older editions. Believe me, even this edition has home-made editions of Bladesingers, proving the fondness for the original concept has not died out.

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