Bladeling

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The very first artwork of a bladeling, as seen in the Planes of Law monster appendix.

Bladelings are a playable race in Dungeons and Dragons and resemble what you might look like if you had the idea to cross yourself with a hedgehog. Rumored to have either originated from somewhere else than their native home of Acheron or to have once been Tieflings, they are a distinct race onto themselves. While humanoid they are have little resemblance to humans, being six feet tall, have eyes like cold ice, skin that pushes out as hard surfaces and blades, and blood that looks like oil.

They are always up for a good fight. They don't need weapons as their bodies alone are good enough. Being Lawful evil (neutral) they are known to be xenophobic and harsh to those that approach their lands although courteous enough to travellers they meet on the road. It is best not to pry too deeply into a Bladeling's business though as they discourage such attention in harsh ways.

In Planescape they live in the city of Zoronor which located on Ocanthus, the bottom layer of Acheron. This is one of the most inhospitable places in the Multiverse, the razor-sharp shards of metal flying around are capable of tearing an unprotected person to shreds in a matter of seconds. As such, once they settled on Ocanthus they founded a great city surrounded a thick layer of wood they dubbed the Blood Forest. This layer stops most shards the layer throws at them: the big ones who do get through tend to get lodged in the Blood Forest and reinforce it. The Bladelings worship the layer as a god, naming it Hriste, the Gray Whisper. They believe that Hriste creates new Bladelings and in return give the forest living sacrifices.

In 3.5e they featured in Monster Manual 2 and were a terrible enemy to use because of it lowering its AC when using its most powerful attack. The Planar Handbook for the same setting introduced a race called the Spikers, who were supposedly relatives of the bladelings - in reality, these were mostly a poorly-named, watered-down playable version of the race.

In 4th Edition[edit]

With the loss of Acheron in 4th edition, Bladelings underwent a drastic revamp. They first appeared in the 4th edition Manual of the Planes, where their former home city of Zoronor had migrated to Bane's domain in the Astral Sea as the closest thing in Chernoggar to a port city. The bladelings themselves appeared in the monsters section of the book, where they received a PC writeup - a D&D first! - and tantalizing new lore. Minimalistic, as tended to be the case in 4e, it stated that bladelings were former servitors of Bane, who had been transformed in order to make them into superior soldiers. However, something had happened that had led to the vast majority of the race abandoning their former god.

This would be followed up, at long last, in issue #419 of Dragon Magazine. Here, it was explained that bladelings were descendants of the very first worshippers of Achra, Bane's original name, in the early days of the Dawn War. Revering his teachings of the need for order and discipline, they founded some of the world's first city-states, impressing Achra so much that he took them into his armies. These proto-bladelings - most believe they were humans, but some argue they were actually of the same lost proto-race that gave rise to the gith - were there with him through every campaign of the Dawn War, from when he slew the Queen of Bronze and gave the gods their first victory, to when the Primordials were sealed away and Bane found himself thwarted in his plans to become the king of the gods.

Even then, they remained loyal. And so, when Bane assaulted Chernoggar to murder his brother Tuern and steal it for himself, he rewarded them by merging their bodies and souls with the blades they so deftly wielded, giving them the "strength of a greatsword", the "agility of a flashing dagger", and the willpower, insight and determination to best serve his cause. With their aid, Bane committed fratricide and stole Chernoggar for himself, and they were ready to continue fighting. Even when Gruumsh smashed his own domain of Nishrek into Chernoggar and began his eternal war against Bane, the bladelings stood strong and loyal to their divine master.

So, what happened? Why did they decide to tell Bane to go fuck himself? To put it simply, it's because Bane betrayed them first. One day, Bane left his domain on an expedition; once he was gone, Gruumsh attacked in overwhelming force. The bladelings refused to back down, instead holding the line at all costs and ultimately driving the orcs back after suffering tremendous casualties. Their pride at this achievement turned to bitter ashes when Bane returned; as a result of successfully proselytizing amongst the hobgoblins of the mortal world, Bane had felt the time was right to beat Maglubiyet into submission and, through him, claim dominion over all goblinoids. In effect, he had replaced his loyal troops who had been with him since the beginning with the teeming legions of goblinoids.

Needless to say, most of the bladelings felt this was a huge betrayal. Soured on all gods in general, they stormed out of Chernoggar and became wanderers of the planes, a lifestyle they maintain to this day.

When they first appeared in the MotP, Bladelings looked like this:

Ability Scores: +2 Dexterity, +2 Wisdom
Size: Medium
Speed: 6 squares
Vision: Normal
Skill Bonuses: +2 Intimidate
Acid Resistance 5 + 1/ your level
Razor Storm: Racial Encounter Attack Power. As a minor action, all creatures in a Close Burst 1 are attacked with a +2 per tier bonus vs. their Reflex defense. On a hit, they take 1d6 per tier damage, + Dexterity modifier damage. At character creation, choose whether this attack uses Strength, Constitution, or Dexterity as its attacking stat.

They also had a racial feat, Improved Razor Storm, that caused Razor Storm to use D8s for damage and to inflict 5 per tier ongoing damage when it hit somebody.

In Dragon #419, the profile was tweaked. The ability score modifiers became +2 Wisdom with a flexible +2 bonus to either Dexterity or Strength, they gained a skill bonus to Arcana as well as Intimidate, and they gained the Barbed Body racial trait (inflict 2+1/2 your level damage on a creature when either you escape from its grapple or it escapes from your grapple) in addition to Acid Resistance and Razor Storm. Improved Razor Storm was also changed; now it caused the bladeling's Razor Storm to hit a Close Burst 2 and to do ongoing 5 damage on a critical hit.

Dragon complimented the profile tweak with three new feats in the form of Bladed Fists (your unarmed strikes do 1d6 damage, +2 proficiency bonus to unarmed strikes), Bladed Stalker (your unarmed strikes are High Crit weapons), and Brutal Blades (your unarmed strikes have the Offhand Weapon property, your Razor Storm uses D8s instead of D6s), as well as five racial utility powers: Rending Spines (enter a stance that slows you and drops your defenses in exchange for inflicting damage on all melee attackers), Gouging Blade (until encounter's end, do +1d6 damage with melee attacks to adjacent enemies), Improvised Portal (turn a door into a portal that links another spot up to 20 squares away), Planar Jaunt (at the end of an extended rest, you can trade 3 healing surges to teleport yourself and all allies within Close Burst 5 to teleport to a teleportation circle of your choice), and Bred for Battle (enter a stance that boosts AC, makes you immune to being marked, grants you +2d6 damage with melee attacks, and lets you spend healing surges to recharge Razor Storm instead of healing). With the exception of Improvised Portal, which is an Encounter power, all of these are Daily powers.

Gallery[edit]

Bladelings have undergone a lot of different looks over the editions, going from elfin humanoids who just happened to be bristling with spikes in the Planes of Law boxed set, to an armor-plated, chitinous-looking creature in the 3rd volume of the Monstrous Compendium Appendix Annual, to a demented spiky purple goblinoid in 3e's Monster Manual II, to what has since become their definitive design in 3e of a purple-skined humanoid who just happens to be covered in spikes.

Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition Races
Player's Handbook 1: Dragonborn - Dwarf - Eladrin - Elf
Half-Elf - Halfling - Human - Tiefling
Player's Handbook 2: Deva - Gnome - Goliath - Half-Orc - Shifter
Player's Handbook 3: Githzerai - Minotaur - Shardmind - Wilden
Monster Manual 1: Bugbear - Doppelganger - Githyanki
Goblin - Hobgoblin - Kobold - Orc
Monster Manual 2: Bullywug - Duergar - Kenku
Dragon Magazine: Gnoll - Shadar-kai
Heroes of Shadow: Revenant - Shade - Vryloka
Heroes of the Feywild Hamadryad - Pixie - Satyr
Eberron's Player's Guide: Changeling - Kalashtar - Warforged
The Manual of the Planes: Bladeling
Dark Sun Campaign Setting: Mul - Thri-kreen
Forgotten Realms Player's Guide: Drow - Genasi
The inhabitants of the Planes of Planescape
Upper Planes: Aasimon - Angels - Animal Lords - Archons - Asuras - Eladrin - Guardinals - Lillend
Middle Planes: Formians - Githzerai - Inevitables - Marut - Modrons - Rilmani - Slaadi
Lower Planes: Alu-Fiends - Baatezu - Bladelings - Cambions - Demodands - Erinyes - Hags
Hordlings - Imps - Kytons - Marilith - Obyrith - Succubi - Tanar'ri - Yugoloth
Transitive Planes: Astral Dreadnought - Githyanki
Inner Planes: Azers - Elementals - Genies - Grues - Mephit - Salamanders - Sylphs
Sigil: Dabus - Cranium Rats
High-ups: Archangels - Archdevils - Archfey - Archomentals - Demon Princes