I don't know about the rest of you, but I really love the old swashbuckling movies, from Errol Flynn to The Princess Bride to even movies such as Cutthroat Island. The theme and smart, witty action presented by these heroes (and villians) is something that just resonates with me to this day. In Greyhawk, there are many cultures (Holds of the Sea Princes, the coastal lands of the Great Kingdom, among others) where such lightly armored characters might hail from. The Holds in particular can be home to a fantasy version of Pirates of the Caribbean without too much effort on the part of the DM.
But the Swashbucker we see in Complete Warrior is sadly ill-equipped for such a series of adventures. With all of the new class updates in Pathfinder, I thought that it would be an excellent time to make a revision of the Swashbuckler.
Some people may not like this version. I have had some reaction where comments about the lack of chain shirt, or ability to wear medium armor, or use a buckler are listed. In my own humble opinion, these things are not what make a swashbuckler. How many movies in this genre have you ever seen a character wear mail? How many use a buckler (and yes, I know that swashbuckler is derived from a sword-and-buckler fighter).
But putting that aside, I think this class can stand on its own. Despite the lack of armor, the class possesses unique features that allows it to hold its own in the game. I hope that you enjoy it.
The Pathfinder Swashbuckler
For some, it is not enough to fight well. For these few, the fight must be conducted with style and panache; with wit and charm; and more than a bit of luck to boot. Forsaking the heavy armor and powerful weapons wielded by fighters and paladins and barbarians and rangers, the swashbuckler depends upon his dexterous grace to avoid blows and his stunning agility to move across a crowded battlefield without suffering harm. He relies upon light weapons that become truly lethal in his skilled hands; and yet, he knows that sometimes the outcome of battle rests not on skill with a weapon, but with a word whispered in the right ear.
Role: Swashbuckler’s are not your typical front-line warrior. Although able to go toe-to-toe with many more traditional swordsmen, the swashbuckler brings a host of skills and abilities to the table along with his acrobatics and his flashing blade.
Hit Die: d10.
Good Saves: Fort; Ref
Class Skills: Acrobatics (Dex); Bluff (Cha); Climb (Str); Craft (Int); Diplomacy (Cha); Disguise (Cha); Escape Artist (Dex); Intimidate (Cha); Perception (Wis); Profession (Wis); Ride (Dex); Sense Motive (Wis); Stealth (Dex); and Swim (Str).
Skill Ranks per Level: 6 + Intelligence modifier.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Swashbucklers are proficient with the following weapons: Dagger, Dart, Gauntlet, Heavy Crossbow, Javelin, Kukri, Light Crossbow, Light Mace, Main-gauche (see below), Punching Dagger, Quarterstaff, Rapier; Sap; Scimitar; Shortspear, Short Sword; Spear; Sword Cane, Unarmed Strike, and Whip. Swashbucklers are proficient with padded armor, leather armor, and studded leather armor, but not with chain shirts, medium or heavy armor, or with any type of shield.
Bonus Feat: At 1st level, 2nd level, and every four levels gained thereafter, a swashbuckler gains one of the following feats as a bonus feat: Catch Off-Guard, Improved Disarm, Lunge, Nimble Moves, Quickdraw, Skill Focus (any class skill), Throw Anything, Two-Weapon Defense, and Two-Weapon Fighting.
At 6th level, the swashbuckler adds the following feats to his bonus feat list: Acrobatic Steps, Deflect Arrows, Greater Disarm, Improved Two-Weapon Fighting, Improvised Weapon Mastery, and Stunning Fist.
At 10th level, the swashbuckler adds the following feats to his bonus feat list: Greater Two-Weapon Fighting, Greater Weapon Focus, Penetrating Strike, and Weapon Specialization.
A swashbuckler must meet all of the listed prerequisites for a feat that he selects. For the purpose of these bonus feats only, a swashbuckler is considered to have an effective fighter level equal to his swashbuckler level -6.
Weapon Finesse (Ex): All swashbucklers gain weapon finesse as a bonus feat at 1st level. Unlike the normal version of weapon finesse available as a bonus feat, the swashbuckler may use this ability with any of the weapons with which the class is proficient—even if such weapons are not normally able to be used with weapon finesse.
Grace (Ex): At 2nd level, a swashbuckler gains a +1 bonus on all Acrobatics, Climb, Ride, and Swim checks that he makes. At 6th level, and every four levels gained thereafter, this bonus increases by +1 to a maximum of +5 at 18th level. The swashbuckler gains this bonus only when he is wearing no armor, padded armor, leather armor, or studded leather armor.
Dodge (Ex): At 3rd level, a swashbuckler gains a +1 Dodge bonus to his Armor Class, provided that he is carrying no more than a light load and is wearing no armor, padded armor, leather armor, or studded leather armor. At 7th level, and four levels gained thereafter, this bonus increases to +1 to a maximum of +5 at 19th level. All Dodge bonuses to Armor Class stack with each other.
Deadly with a Blade (Ex): At 4th level, a swashbuckler gains a +1 bonus on all damage rolls with any light or one-handed melee weapon, or any thrown weapon, with which he is proficient. At 8th level, and every four levels gained thereafter, this bonus increases by +1 to a maximum of +5 at 20th level. The swashbuckler gains this bonus only when he is wearing no armor, padded armor, leather armor, or studded leather armor.
A Rapier Wit (Ex): At 5th level, a swashbuckler gains a +1 bonus on all Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate, and Sense Motive checks that he makes. At 9th level, and every four levels gained thereafter, this bonus increases by +1 to maximum of +4 at 17th level.
Fisticuffs (Ex): At 6th level, a swashbuckler using an Unarmed Strike is always considered armed and can choose to deal lethal damage instead of nonlethal damage at no modifier to his attack roll. In addition, the swashbuckler deals more damage than normal with an unarmed strike, and the damage that he inflicts increases as he continues to advance in level: at 6th level a swashbucklers unarmed strike deals 1d6 points of damage; at 12th level this increases to 1d8 points of damage, and at 18th level it increases again to 1d10 points of damage.
Stunning Fist (Ex): At 7th level, a swashbuckler gains the Stunning Fist feat.
Musketeer (Ex): At 8th level, a swashbuckler gains proficiency with black powder firearms (if such weapons exist in your campaign world).
It’s All About The Hat (Ex): A 9th level swashbuckler gains a +1 inherent bonus to his Charisma score. At 13th level, and again at 17th level, this inherent bonus increases by +1, to a maximum bonus of +3 at 17th level.
Better Lucky Than Good (Ex): At 10th level, a swashbuckler may reroll any failed attack roll, skill check, ability check, or saving throw once per day. The character must take the result of the reroll, even if it is worse than the original roll. At 15th level, and again at 20th level, a swashbuckler gains one additional daily use of this ability.
Us Against Them (Ex): When flanking an opponent with an ally, a swashbuckler of 11th level gains a +4 bonus on attack rolls rather than a +2 bonus.
Acrobatic Skill Mastery (Ex): At 12th level, a swashbuckler can choose to Take 10 on any Acrobatics, Climb, Ride, or Swim checks that he makes, even in combat or other dangerous or distracting situations where the character could not normally Take 10.
Distracting Hat (Ex): At 14th level, a swashbuckler can wield an object—such as his hat, if he is wearing one—in his off-hand to distract and fluster his opponent. The swashbuckler makes an attack roll with the distracting object as if using Two-Weapon Fighting; if the attack roll is successful, no damage is inflicted by the hat, but the opponent receives a -2 penalty on attack and damage rolls until the start of the swashbuckler’s next turn.
Hard to Hold (Ex): At 15th level, a swashbuckler can automatically slip any non-magical manacles, chains, or other restraints he is wearing without an Escape Artist check. Instead of slipping a restraint, the swashbuckler can instead automatically escape from a grapple or pin. He may use this ability only once per day, regardless of whichever use he makes of it.
Slippery Mind (Ex): At 16th level, a swashbuckler can sometimes break free of charms and compulsions after failing his original saving throw. One round after the swashbuckler fails a saving throw against any charm or compulsion effect, he gains a new saving throw at the original DC to regain his senses. If this second saving throw is successful, the effect immediately ends.
Bleeding Critical (Ex): At 18th level, a swashbuckler gains Bleeding Critical as a bonus feat.
Exceptional Parry (Ex): At 19th level, a swashbuckler may deflect a melee made against him. Once per round, the swashbuckler may—as a free action—declare that he is using this ability against an attack that has beaten his armor class, but damage has not yet been rolled. Regardless of the attack roll, this attack is then deflected. To use this ability, the swashbuckler must be wearing no armor, padded armor, leather armor, or studded leather armor and he must be wielding a light or one-handed weapon. The swashbuckler does not need to have a free hand to use this ability.
Master Swashbuckler (Ex): The swashbuckler reaches the pinnacle of his class at 20th level. He gains the ability to move between his melee attacks without provoking attacks of opportunity.
The swashbuckler may take a free 5-foot step after making a successful melee attack. Like all 5-foot steps, this movement does not provoke an attack of opportunity. The swashbuckler is limited moving no more than his standard movement in this fashion, even if the number of successful attack rolls that makes would allow him to exceed this amount. These free 5-foot steps do not subtract from the swashbuckler’s normal movement and can be used even if the character has already taken his 5-foot step for the round. This ability can only be used if the swashbuckler is wearing no armor, padded armor, leather armor, or studded leather armor, and if he is not carrying a medium or heavy load.
Light Exotic Weapon
Cost: 15 gold
Damage (S): 1d3
Damage (M): 1d4
Weight: 1 lb.
Special: Disarm and see text
Description: Also known as a parrying dagger, the main-gauche has a long, thin blade and is normally crafted with a basket hilt. When this weapon is wielded as the second weapon in two-weapon fighting, the wielder gains a +1 shield bonus to his armor class (that stacks with the bonus granted by the feat Two Weapon Defense). The weapon's light weight makes it very suitable for counter-attacks against foes that leave themselves open to attack. If the wielder is using two-weapon fighting and wields the main-gauche in his off-hand, he gains one bonus attack of opportunity per round. This bonus attack of opportunity must be taken with the main-gauche and follows the rules for using two weapons in combat (including applying only one-half of the wielder's Strength bonus on rolls for damage).
This weapon makes conducting disarm attacks easier (as the disarm special weapon quality) and also grants the wielder a +2 bonus to his CMD against disarm attempts made against the main-gauche itself. The main-gauche is not designed to be thrown, but a character with the Throw Anything feat can do so, using the listed damage and critical range of the main-gauche, rather than that of an improvised weapon.
While any character may pick up and use the main-gauche without spending a feat on proficiency (at a -4 penalty to hit), the shield bonus conferred by this weapon, the bonus on CMD versus disarm attacks conferred by this weapon, and the counter-attack bonus attack of opportunity conferred by this weapon require actual training in the proper use of the main-gauche. As such, these properties can only be used by a wielder who has selected the Exotic Weapon Feat for the main-gauche.
Interesting take on the swashbuckler great references as well. I made my own alternate class for 3.5 rules so this has some nice alternatives that I did not use for my version. I really think these can make for some interesting articles.
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