"Dragonslayers? Pah, any fool can call himself a dragonslayer. Most get themselves killed within a few days, which is probably for the best. No, the real skill isn't in walking into the dragon's cave and challenging it to a duel -- it's in tracking it across a hundred miles of wilderness, sneaking up close and killing it before it even knows you're there."
-- Deirdre Firewalker, dragonstalker
The dragonstalker prefers a much more subtle approach than the dragonslayer. She uses stealth and guile to track her prey, striking with skill and uncanny accuracy when the time is right.
Rangers and rogues are the most common dragonstalkers, since the two classes share a predilection for the subtlety and patience the prestige class requires. Barbarians, particularly those from dragon-terrorized areas, often take up this class. Bards also make reasonable dragonstalkers -- certainly, the profession makes for many great tales told around the fire. Most other classes are better off pursuing the path of the dragonslayer.
NPC dragonstalkers are loners, since they rarely trust others to hold their own in a hunt. When tracking a particularly formidable foe, a dragonstalker might recruit other stealthy characters, such as rangers or rogues, for assistance. Once or twice in a generation, a hunt of great significance may arise that brings together a team of dragonstalkers from various backgrounds. In such a case, the dragon has little chance of escaping.
Hit Die: d8.
To qualify to become a dragonstalker, a character must fulfill all the following criteria.
Base Attack Bonus: +5.
Feats: Blind-fight, Track.
Skills: Gather Information 4 ranks, Hide 6 ranks, Knowledge (arcana) 4 ranks, Move Silently 6 ranks, Search 6 ranks.
The dragonstalker's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Wis), Diplomacy (Cha), Disguise (Cha), Gather Information (Cha), Hide (Dex), Jump (Str), Knowledge (arcana) (Int), Knowledge (local) (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Search (Int), Spot (Wis), and Survival (Wis). See Chapter 4: Skills in the Player's Handbook for skill descriptions.
Skill Points at Each Level: 4 + Int modifier.
All of the following are class features of the dragonstalker prestige class.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: A dragonstalker gains proficiency with the longbow, longspear, net, shortbow, and all simple weapons. Dragonstalkers are proficient with light armor and with shields.
Hunting Bonus (Ex): Starting at 1st level, a dragonstalker gains a bonus equal to her class level on Bluff, Listen, Search, Sense Motive, and Spot checks when using these skills against dragons.
Sneak Attack (Dragon): Beginning at 2nd level, if a dragonstalker catches a dragon when it is unable to defend itself effectively from her attack, she can strike a vital spot for extra damage. Basically, any time the dragonstalker's target would be denied its Dexterity bonus to AC (whether it actually has a Dexterity bonus or not), the dragonstalker's attack deals an extra 2d6 points of damage. This extra damage increases by 2d6 points every other level (4d6 at 4th level, 6d6 at 6th level, and so on). Should the dragonstalker score a critical hit with a sneak attack, this extra damage is not multiplied.
It takes precision and penetration to hit a vital spot, so ranged attacks can only count as sneak attacks if the dragon is 30 feet away or less.
With a sap or an unarmed strike, a dragonstalker can make a sneak attack that deals nonlethal damage instead of lethal damage. She cannot use a weapon that deals lethal damage to deal nonlethal damage in a sneak attack, not even with the usual -4 penalty, because she must make optimal use of her weapon to execute the sneak attack.
A dragonstalker can only sneak attack living dragons with discernible anatomies. Any dragon immune to critical hits is similarly immune to sneak attacks. Also, the dragonstalker must be able to see the target well enough to pick out a vital spot and must be able to reach a vital spot. A dragonstalker cannot sneak attack while striking at a dragon with concealment or by striking the limbs of a dragon whose vitals are beyond reach.
If a dragonstalker gets a sneak attack bonus from another source (such as rogue levels), the bonuses to damage stack when the ability is used against dragons.
Ignore Natural Armor (Ex): Once per day, a dragonstalker of 3rd level or higher can ignore a target's natural armor bonus (including any enhancement to that natural armor) for one attack (melee or ranged). You must declare that you are using this ability before you make the attack roll. At 7th level, a dragonstalker can use this ability twice per day.
Hide Scent (Ex): At 5th level, a dragonstalker can use the Disguise skill to hide her (or someone else's) scent. This requires a Disguise check (with a -10 penalty) opposed by a Wisdom check made by any creature attempting to use the scent ability to discover the dragonstalker's presence. Hiding one's scent requires twice as long as a typical Disguise check (1d3x20 minutes), and the effect lasts for 1 hour per class level. Magic that alters your form doesn't affect this Disguise check.
Foil Blindsense (Su): Once per day, a 9th-level dragonstalker can render herself completely imperceptible to blindsense. This requires a standard action, and the effect lasts for 10 minutes. This ability has no effect on other forms of vision (whether mundane or magical). For instance, it doesn't keep someone from spotting or hearing the dragonstalker with normal senses, or from noticing an invisible dragonstalker by means of a true seeing spell.
Dragonstrike (Su): At 10th level, the effective enhancement bonus of any weapon wielded by a dragonstalker against a dragon is +2 better than normal, and the weapon deals an extra 2d6 points of damage against dragons. This benefit stacks with the enhancement bonus increase and bonus damage dice from a weapon with the bane (dragons) special ability.