Prestige Classes


Many nations and many armies make the claim to have the finest cavalry or the most splendid horsemen. None, however, are born and raised in the saddle like the great nomadic cultures of the steppes. From a young age, children learn to ride and shoot, and many receive bows and arrows as gifts. By the time children become adults, they are skilled riders and excellent marksmen.

As adults, these warriors fight almost entirely from horseback, making extensive use of their riding tradition to attack their enemies from a distance. When their foes rush into battle, the nomadic warriors retreat, avoiding melee to shoot their enemies from a safe distance. Some consider them cowards, but this strategy minimizes their losses in a battle. The wandering tribes lead a harsh life, and consequently many place a low value on the lives of those outside their culture.

These mighty warriors live in vast, open steppes where a nomadic lifestyle is both common and necessary. Examples of such people include the Mongols under the great khans, the Valenar elves of Eberron, the Rovers of the Barrens and the Plains of Paynim's numerous tribes in Greyhawk, and the Tuigan hordes of the Forgotten Realms. Not all members of these horse-riding steppe dwellers become bowman chargers, but those who do rise to great esteem among their clans and tribes.

Bowman chargers wear the best light armor they can acquire. They almost exclusively use the composite shortbow, scimitar, and spear, although a few occasionally make use of other weapons. Depending on their particular culture, needs, or beliefs, some bowman chargers make use of falchions or kukris.

Fighters have the easiest time becoming bowman chargers, and indeed nearly every bowman charger has multiple fighter levels, but the majority of bowman chargers have at least one level of another class. Most who multiclass take levels in barbarian or ranger, although a fair number of fighter/paladins join the ranks of bowman chargers. Other classes gain little or no benefit from the class and most find its requirements difficult to meet.

Hit Die: d10.


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

Base Attack Bonus: +6.

Skills: Handle Animal 8 ranks, Ride 8 ranks.

Feats: Mounted Archery, Mounted Combat, Ride-by Attack, Weapon Focus (composite shortbow).

Class Skills

The bowman charger's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Craft (Int), Handle Animal (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Ride (Dex), Spot (Wis), and Survival (Wis).

Skill Points at Each Level: 2 + Int modifier.

Table: The Bowman Charger

Level Base
1st +1 +0 +2 +0 Burst of speed, two as one
2nd +2 +0 +3 +0 Two as one (riding mastery)
3rd +3 +1 +3 +1 Improved mounted archery
4th +4 +1 +4 +1 Two as one (speed of trust)
5th +5 +1 +4 +1 Weapon Specialization (composite shortbow)
6th +6 +2 +5 +2 Two as one (elusive)
7th +7 +2 +5 +2 Improved Critical (composite shortbow)
8th +8 +2 +6 +2 Two as one (riding dervish)
9th +9 +3 +6 +3 Greater Weapon Specialization (composite shortbow)
10th +10 +3 +7 +3 Two as one (horse sense), great khan
Class Features

All of the following are class features of the bowman charger prestige class.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Bowman chargers are proficient with all simple and martial weapons, and with light and medium armor and bucklers.

Burst of Speed (Ex): The bowman charger can urge her mount to greater than normal speeds. This ability doubles the distance of the mount's normal charge movement (the mount must charge to use this ability). The bowman charger can use this ability once per day without risk of injury to her mount. She can try to use this ability more than once per day by "pushing" her mount as per the Handle Animal skill. If the bowman charger succeeds at her skill check, the mount makes an additional charge using burst of speed, but it must then make a DC 20 Fortitude save after the conclusion of the charge. If it succeeds, the mount becomes fatigued; if it fails, it becomes fatigued and takes 2d6 points of damage.

Two as One (Ex): At 1st level, the bowman charger can attune herself to her mount by spending two weeks alone with it. She can bring no food or water for herself or her mount, and instead they both must eat and drink when and where they can. During those two weeks, the bowman charger must learn to eat and sleep in the saddle. At the end of those two weeks, she and the mount become attuned. The bowman charger gains a bonus on all future Handle Animal checks made to influence the attuned mount equal to her bowman charger level.

The attuned mount and bowman charger gain specific benefits, depending on the character's level in bowman charger, as shown on the table below. The bowman charger only gains these benefits when riding her attuned mount, and her mount only gains these benefits when its attuned bowman charger rides it. A bowman charger can't be attuned to multiple mounts at the same time, but should a mount die or should the bowman charger wish to attune to a new mount, she must spend two weeks with it as previously described.

2nd Riding mastery
4th Speed of trust
6th Elusive
8th Riding dervish
10th Horse sense

Riding Mastery (Ex): The bowman charger gains a bonus on her Ride checks equal to her bowman charger level.

Speed of Trust (Ex): The bowman charger gains a bonus on her initiative checks equal to half her bowman charger level when she begins combat on her attuned mount. In addition, her mount gains the use of the Dodge feat as long as the bowman charger is riding it. Her mount can choose to dodge a different foe than the bowman charger.

Elusive (Ex): Once per round, when her mount is affected by an effect that allows a Reflex save, the bowman charger may make a Reflex save (using her bonus) instead. The result of her save becomes the result of her mount's save. The bowman charger must declare that she is going to use this ability before she makes the roll.

Riding Dervish (Ex): The bowman charger may utilize Ride-By Attack to make a powerful assault through the ranks of her foes. While riding in a straight line and using a full-round action, the bowman charger can move up to her mounts speed, making a melee attack against any foe within reach on her path. For each foe attacked beyond the first, each attack suffers a -1 penalty, so the bowman charger must declare how many foes she attacks before she starts (minimum two). The bowman charger gives up her regular attacks to take this action. This is an extraordinary ability that draws no attacks of opportunity, even if the bowman charger passes through threatened areas on her way through the assault. In addition, her mount gains the use of the Mobility feat as long as she is riding it.

Horse Sense (Su): Once per round, when her mount is affected by an effect that allows a Will save, the bowman charger may make a Will save (using her bonus) instead. The result of her save becomes the result of her mount's save. The bowman charger must declare that she is going to use this ability before she makes the roll.

Improved Mounted Archery (Ex): At 3rd level, a bowman charger suffers no penalty when using a ranged weapon from horseback while her mount is making a double move, and a -2 penalty while her mount is running.

Weapon Specialization (Ex): At 5th level, the bowman charger gains Weapon Specialization (composite shortbow) as a bonus feat.

Improved Critical (Ex): At 7th level, the bowman charger gains Improved Critical (composite shortbow) as a bonus feat.

Greater Weapon Specialization (Ex): At 9th level, the bowman charger gains Greater Weapon Specialization (composite shortbow) as a bonus feat.

Great Khan (Ex): At 10th level, a bowman charger evinces confidence. She gains Leadership as a bonus feat, and gains a +2 bonus on her leadership score.

On the battlefield, all cohorts, followers, and allies within 60 feet of a mounted bowman charger gain a +1 morale bonus on their attack rolls while mounted.

Different Bowman Chargers

Bowman chargers need not be horsemen of the steppes. The concept of powerful mounted archers can work with nearly any D&D culture or race. Consider these alternative ideas for the origins of bowman chargers.

Halfling Warhound Corps: Riding armored dogs into battle, the Halfling Warhound Corps accepts only the most experienced halfling riders. Those who manage to join the prestigious fighting force enter a rigorous training program that focuses not only upon riding and archery, but also upon taking up the pack mentality that allows the Halfling Warhound Corps to function almost entirely by instinct as a unit on the battlefield.

Goblin Wolflords: Feared throughout the lands that border the misty forest they claim as home, these goblins are known for their unusual tactic of dismounting and firing their bows from behind the cover of their prone mounts. When a foe comes too close, a goblin's wolf knows to stand and trip the foe, allowing the goblin to attack their prone enemy with a melee weapon.

Elven Windriders: The Elven Windriders divide their members into two forces: the pegasi riders who patrol elven lands during the day and the giant-owl-riding night patrol. Although people more often see the pegasi riders, the mysterious night patrol is the more famous of the two. Accustomed to quietly flying through the close confines of the forest, members of the night patrol even venture into caves and dungeons when threats arise from such places.