Prestige Classes


“Welcome to my realm. You’ll find naught for you here but privation, fear, and death—oh, and my blade.”

—Gaelimor Zyrshaen, drow cavestalker

The Underdark’s most dangerous predators are not its horrific monstrosities, crawling and festering in the darkest of grottoes. Rather, they are the deadly cavestalkers, moving effortlessly through a jungle of living rock—and none are as much at home in these caverns as the drow.

Just as a surface ranger feels at peace in the heart of a virgin forest, so too is a cavestalker is at home in the wilds of the Underdark. Yet even in his most familiar environment, he is aware of the ever-present danger that surrounds him. It is in the task of surviving this endless peril that he finds peace away from so-called “civilized folk.”


Rangers and druids are natural candidates for the cavestalker class. Underdark races that choose the path of the druid or ranger find little use for the abilities of those classes that are attuned to the wilderness of the surface. The cavestalker class augments and hones those abilities, making them more suitable for use in the endless night and providing a true advantage for those that live away from the light.

Rogues occasionally become cavestalkers, since their high skill point allotment allows them to achieve the requirements more easily than other classes. Other classes might enjoy the benefits of becoming a cavestalker, but would likely find meeting the requirements to be prohibitive. Regardless of class, only individuals who have natural darkvision can achieve the affinity with the lightless depths necessary to become a cavestalker.


As a cavestalker, you nurture a close, almost mystical connection to the deadly terrain of the Underdark. To you, the lightless tunnels are not friends, exactly, but perhaps well-respected adversaries. Danger is always present, yet you understand it and even find a certain succor in living alongside it.


Although you are a formidable warrior, you usually prefer not to stand against the sheer might of the world’s fighters and barbarians. Your greatest ally is your own native environment. None dare face your blades when they are trapped in a cramped tunnel, and your exhaustive knowledge of the Underdark allows you to draw enemies into untenable positions where you have the advantage—and where you might even be able to dispatch them without having to fight at all.

With your excellent mobility, you might consider taking a few levels of rogue, adding a deadly sneak attack to your repertoire. And if things get too hot, it’s easy for you to disappear into a realm of extreme peril where few dare to follow.


The call of the wild is a very different thing in the Underdark from what it is on the surface, but its allure is no less enticing. Whereas on the surface a character might enter the remote reaches of nature to find solitude or peace, in the Underdark he typically does it for survival. Perhaps the most dangerous location in the Underdark is on the “civilized” streets of a drow city: an environment rife with political intrigue, betrayal, and assassination. To escape these noxious environs, you sought refuge in the surrounding tunnels where even the foulest elements of drow society fear to tread. By gaining an intimate knowledge of this hazardous realm, you buy some breathing room and security from the knives of your kin without abandoning all the advantages that drow society has to offer.

As your cavestalker abilities increase, you find the Underdark a more and more inviting place (if a place of such constant peril can be called inviting). You use your skills to establish safe havens for yourself or to gain employment opportunities—perhaps guiding the rich and the powerful to distant, dangerous locations. You also find that continuing to advance as a ranger or druid augments your already impressive abilities in the Underdark’s deepest caverns.


“Lolth’s priestesses rule the cities with unquestioned dominance, but the tunnels—the tunnels belong to the cavestalkers.”

—Pharug Lurimil, drow merchant of the Crescent Clan

For the drow who pursues the life of a ranger or druid—normally impractical classes for members of a subterranean race—the existence of the cavestalkers is validation for his unconventional choice. With the abilities of a cavestalker, that drow can exert his mastery of nature in a more accessible environment, one that lies just beyond the far outposts of a drow city.


There is no special organization for cavestalkers. You are more likely to be a loner—or at best the leader of a group of fringe brigands or renegades—than you are to gather with other cavestalkers.

Sometimes priestesses or noble houses hire cavestalkers as spies, and merchant clans are eager to employ you as a guide along the most perilous trade routes. Cavestalkers can find membership in one of the drow fighting societies or house garrisons, serving as scouts or leaders for the far patrols that guard the fringes of a drow city’s sphere of influence. Additionally, you might be called on to lead an expeditionary force to attack some distant target or settlement.

NPC Reactions

Within a drow city proper, you find that you are either ignored or regarded with some small amount of curiosity. A certain mystique surrounds the reputation of the cavestalkers, but it seems distant and irrelevant to the drow cutthroat or noble who makes his living preying upon the denizens of the streets. It is only when a drow finds himself outside the secure boundaries of his city that he truly appreciates you. Indeed, he holds you almost in awe, knowing that you are all that stands between him and a horrible death in a hostile environment.


Characters who have ranks in Knowledge (Underdark local) or Knowledge (dungeoneering), or who have the bardic knowledge ability, can research cavestalkers to learn more about them. When a character makes a successful skill check or bardic knowledge check, the following lore is revealed, including the information from lower DCs.

DC 10: Only those assisted by a cavestalker can hope to survive in the wilds of the Underdark for long.

DC 15: Cavestalkers move with ease through tunnels and terrain that others find dangerous or impassable. They make use of this aptitude to set traps and ambushes for those who dare chase them.

DC 20: As a cavestalker advances in knowledge and skill, he grows more and more connected to tunnels in which he lives. It is said that at death, a cavestalker becomes one with the caverns.

In a drow city, a cavestalker can be found by inquiring with the various garrisons, fighting societies, or at locations frequented by merchant clans (Gather Information DC 10). Having a ranger or druid in the party reduces the check DC by 5.


As a player character, you can put your levels in ranger or druid to good use for adventuring in the Underdark, when you would otherwise find the abilities provided by those classes somewhat unproductive. You can serve as a guide for a party, helping it to avoid the Underdark’s hidden dangers and using your talents to outmaneuver or outwit those foes that can’t be avoided.

An NPC cavestalker might be the leader of a drow patrol or the head of a band of outlaws living outside drow society and preying on those foolish enough to venture beyond its boundaries. He could also be a spy sent to observe some other community and report its weaknesses to his masters.


Although cavestalkers are most frequently found among the drow, they are certainly not limited to the race of the dark elves. A svirfneblin hermit might live as a cavestalker, quietly protecting the fringes of his community from the incursion of subterranean beasts. Alternately, a duergar or dwarf cavestalker could be a prospector seeking new veins of ore for his clan. The barbaric quaggoths and grimlocks rarely become cavestalkers, but a truly exceptional individual from one of these races might choose this class—perhaps one born into slavery and later raised to leadership of his tribe.

A character from a surface-dwelling race can also become a cavestalker, though he would need to have extensive exposure to an underground environment. He could dwell near an extensive natural cave system, for example, or in a community with close ties to a gnome or dwarf clanhold. In this case, the character might start out as a ranger or druid and become more and more acclimated to a subterranean environment as his adventures take him deeper into the nearby caverns. Finally, a member of a surface race adopted by some underground-dwelling people might find his way to the cavestalker class, pushed toward solitude by the awkward sense of never quite fitting in.

Hit Die: d8.


To qualify to become a cavestalker, a character must fulfill all of the following criteria.

Skills: Knowledge (dungeoneering) 4 ranks, Survival 8 ranks.

Feats: Track.

Base Attack Bonus: +2.

Special: The candidate must have natural darkvision to allow successful navigation of Underdark tunnels.

Class Skills

The cavestalker's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Balance (Dex), Climb (Str), Heal (Wis), Hide (Dex), Jump (Str), Knowledge (dungeoneering) (Int), Knowledge (geography) (Int), Knowledge (Underdark local) (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Profession (Wis), Search (Int), Sense Motive (Wis), Spot (Wis), Survival (Wis), Swim (Str), Use Rope (Dex).

Skill Points at Each Level: 4 + Int modifier.

Table: The Cavestalker

Level Base
Attack Bonus
1st +1 +2 +2 +0 Advanced spelunker
2nd +2 +3 +3 +0 Underdark affinity, hide of stone +1
3rd +3 +3 +3 +1 Lesser cavesense
4th +4 +4 +4 +1 Exotic combat style
5th +5 +4 +4 +1 Expert spelunker
6th +6 +5 +5 +2 Gaseous form, hide of stone +2
7th +7 +5 +5 +2 Improved exotic combat style
8th +8 +6 +6 +2 Greater cavesense
9th +9 +6 +6 +3 Void in space
10th +10 +7 +7 +3 Master spelunker, hide of stone +3
Class Features

All of the following are class features of the cave stalker prestige class.

As they advance in the class, cavestalkers become more familiar with the Underdark’s natural elements. In addition, any abilities they have from the ranger or druid classes become attuned to their subterranean environment.

Advanced Spelunker (Ex):

As a cavestalker, your familiarity with the environs of the Underdark allows you to move through it easily, even in the most difficult conditions. As a result, you gain a +2 circumstance bonus on Balance, Climb, Escape Artist, and Jump checks in natural subterranean surroundings.

Underdark Affinity (Ex): At 2nd level, your adaptation to the Underdark allows you to use your nature-themed class abilities in natural subterranean surroundings as well. These include the druid and ranger abilities of camouflage, hide in plain sight, trackless step, and woodland stride. If you already have wild empathy, you can now use it to affect vermin. If you have the wild shape ability, add vermin to the types of creatures you can become (subject to all the size and frequency limitations provided by that ability). If you do not already have these underlying abilities, Underdark affinity does not grant them to you; it only augments those you already have.

Hide of Stone (Ex): As you gain levels in the cavestalker class, your body embraces the rigors of the Underdark and takes on something of its hue and toughness. Your skin hardens and becomes flinty, granting you a natural armor bonus in addition to a circumstance bonus on Hide checks when in natural subterranean surroundings. These bonuses increase as you progress through the cavestalker class, at 6th level and again at 10th level.

Lesser Cavesense (Ex): At 3rd level, you are gifted with a mystical connection to the Underdark, giving you darkvision out to 120 feet. If you already have darkvision out to 120 feet, your darkvision extends an additional 60 feet. Due to your familiarity with the acoustic qualities of the Underdark, you also gain a +4 competence bonus on Listen checks made in subterranean surroundings.

Exotic Combat Style (Ex): At 4th level, you gain mastery of a specific exotic combat style, either the spiked chain style or the hand crossbow style.

If you are not a ranger or have not already selected a ranger combat style, choose one of these two styles. You gain proficiency in that exotic weapon—either the spiked chain or the hand crossbow—if you do not already have it.

If you already have selected two-weapon combat as a ranger combat style, then the exotic combat style provides you with the Exotic Weapon Proficiency (spiked chain) feat and permits the use of a spiked chain as a one-handed weapon.

If you already have selected archery as a ranger combat style, then the exotic combat style provides you with the Exotic Weapon Proficiency (hand crossbow) feat and grants you the Rapid Reload feat, even if you do not have the normal prerequisites for the feat.

If you acquire a ranger combat style after gaining an exotic combat style, then the two styles must correspond in a similar fashion: You must select two-weapon combat after choosing the spiked chain style, or archery after choosing the hand crossbow style.

The benefits of your chosen exotic combat style apply only when you wear light or no armor. You lose all benefits of your exotic combat style when wearing medium or heavy armor.

Expert Spelunker (Ex): Upon reaching 5th level, your familiarity with the tight confines of the Underdark allows you to retain your Dexterity bonus even when climbing or when in a cramped space. Furthermore, you’re better able to negotiate cramped spaces, lowering Escape Artist DCs, move penalties, and attack penalties by one category. See Table 6–1: Cramped Spaces on page 159.

Gaseous Form (Sp): At 6th level, you gain the ability to traverse the treacherous and confined terrain of the Underdark by assuming gaseous form once per day (caster level 12th).

Improved Exotic Combat Style (Ex): Your aptitude for your chosen exotic combat style increases at 7th level. If you do not already have a combat style from the ranger class, then the improved exotic combat style grants you one of those ranger combat styles. If you already have the hand crossbow exotic combat style, you must select archery; if you already have the spiked chain exotic combat style, you must choose two-weapon combat.

If you select archery, then you are treated as having the Rapid Shot feat, even if you do not have the normal prerequisites for that feat.

If you select two-weapon combat, then you are treated as having the Two-Weapon Fighting feat, even if you do not have the normal prerequisites for that feat.

If you already have the ranger two-weapon combat style and the spiked chain exotic combat style, then the improved exotic combat style allows you to treat a spiked chain as one size category smaller for the purpose of use in a cramped space (see Expert Spelunker, above).

If you already have the ranger archery combat style and the hand crossbow exotic combat style, then you are treated as having the Manyshot feat even if you do not have the normal prerequisites for that feat. You are able to use this feat in conjunction with a hand crossbow.

As before, the benefits of your chosen style apply only when you wear light or no armor. You lose the benefit of your exotic combat style when wearing medium or heavy armor.

Greater Cavesense (Ex): When you reach 8th level, your mystical connection to the Underdark increases, granting you tremorsense out to 30 feet.

Void in Space (Su): When you reach 9th level, your attunement to the particular atmosphere of the Underdark allows you to warp the sounds, scents, and vibrations you give off, making you invisible to creatures that rely on senses other than sight to detect others. This effectively makes you undetectable to blindsense, blindsight, and tremorsense. You still make noises and vibrations (though a successful Move Silently check can mask the sounds), but creatures that cannot see are incapable of determining your true location and believe that you are 30 feet in a random direction from where you are actually located.

In addition, this ability nullifies the effect of the Blind-Fight feat against you.

Master Spelunker (Su): By the time you reach 10th level, your affinity for the terrain of the Underdark has become so great that you can negotiate it without difficulty and even merge with it at times. This grants you the ability to use spider climb (as the spell) on any natural stone surface at will. In addition, you can use meld into stone (as the spell) with any surface of unworked stone three times per day.