One of the Arcana Unearthed’s (and its sequence Arcana Evolved) greatest ideas was splitting the core D&D Fighter into two generic, but more specific fighting archetypes: the light-armored warrior (the Unfettered) and the heavy-armor and heavy-weapon fighter (the Warmain). I always missed mechanic options for a light-armored Fighter or duelist.
I like occasionally to play with pirates, duelists, musketeers and swashbucklers – particularly in urban and sea campaigns. The duelist prestige class was always one of my favorites (together with Green Ronin’s Freeport pirate, still one of the best takes on a pirate for D&D/Pathfinder). While its undeniable that the rogue became D&D’s official light-armored warrior – at least since 3rd Edition with its devastating Sneak Attack mechanic – it still very hard (or simply impossible) for a lone rogue to survive close combat with a melee-based class. Unfortunately, the Complete Warrior’s swashbuckler was too bland (and mechanically weird) for my tastes; the APG’s Swashbuckler’s archetype was also “not enough”.
With those thoughts on mind, a friend of mine recently suggested using the Gunslinger (from the Ultimate Combat Playtest Round 2) to built a more interesting and viable Swashbuckler character from level 1. The result is below. I hope you liked it.
Swashbuckler (Gunslinger Archetype)
Abiding by the principles and fighting style reminiscent of gunslingers, swashbucklers are renowned for their prowess with fencing and light weapons, and for their cunning and resourcefulness in facing opponents better armed and armored. Although similar, swashbucklers are their own breed. Where a gunslinger triumphs by sheer grit and toughness, a swashbuckler seems to succeed by fortune and an almost foolhardy composure.
A swashbuckler loses Craft as a class skill, but gains Diplomacy and Performance.
Armor and Weapon
A swashbuckler isn’t proficient with medium armors, but knows how to use a buckler.
A swashbuckler is renowned either for his charismatic disposition or witty improvisation while fighting. Many swashbucklers believe that luck is all that separate them from the more common man-at-arms, while some firmly attest that their prowess is derived from years of dedication to a scientific and meticulous fencing style (as well as a strict code of conduct). The true lies probably between. In game terms, this mixture of fortune and precision is represented by panache. Panache is a fluctuating measure of the swashbuckler’s ability to perform amazing actions in combat, both offensive and defensive.
At the start of each day, a swashbuckler gains her Charisma modifier (minimum 1) in panache points. Panache goes up or down throughout the day, but usually cannot go higher than the swashbuckler’s Charisma modifier (minimum 1), though some feats and magic items may affect this maximum. A swashbuckler spends panache to accomplish deeds (see below) and regain panache in the following ways:
Critical Hit with a One-Handed or Light Weapon: Each time a swashbuckler confirms a critical hit with a one-handed or light weapon, she regains 1 panache point. Such critical hit must be confirmed in the heat of combat. Confirming a critical hit on a helpless or unaware creature, or a creature that has fewer Hit Dice than half the swashbuckler’s character level does not regain panache.
Successful Combat Maneuver with a One-Handed or Light Weapon: The first time a swashbuckler executes a successful combat maneuver (like disarm) with a one-handed or light weapon during the course of a day, she regains 1 panache point. Such maneuver must occur in the heat of combat. Executing a combat maneuver on a helpless or unaware creature, or a creature that has fewer Hit Dice than half the swashbuckler’s character level does not regain panache.
A natural 20 on a Reflexes Saving Throw: The first time a swashbuckler rolls a natural 20 on a Reflex Saving Throw during the course of a day, she regains 1 panache point. Such success must occur during a combat encounter.
Daring Act: Each time a swashbuckler performs a daring act, she regains 1 panache point. As a general guideline, a daring act should have around or less than a 50% chance of success. Leaping a large chasm, rushing forward and avoiding attacks of opportunity in order to grab a crucial item or confront a dangerous foe, or sliding down a banister in order to save the prince are all possible daring acts. The GM is the final arbiter of what is considered a daring act. This ability replaces the Grit class feature.
Swashbucklers spend panache points to accomplish deeds. Most deeds grant the swashbuckler some momentary bonus or effect, but there are some that provide longer lasting effects. Some deeds stay in effect as long as a swashbuckler has at least 1 grit point. The following is the list of base swashbuckler deeds. A swashbuckler can only perform deeds of her level or lower. Unless otherwise noted, a deed can be performed multiple successive times, as long as any appropriate panache is spent to perform the deed. A swashbuckler can’t choose deeds that require Grit (from the Gunslinger class) unless she takes the Amateur Grit feat.
Leap for Cover (Ex): At 1st level, when a creature makes a ranged attack against the swashbuckler, she can drop prone as an immediate action, gaining the +4 bonus to AC. She applies the bonus retroactively to the triggering attack.
Needle Strike (Ex): At 1st level, a swashbuckler can ignore any armor bonus possessed by the target if attacking with a one-handed or light weapon. Performing this deed costs 1 panache point if the opponent is wearing light or medium armor, and 2 panache points if he’s wearing heavy armor.
Lighting Draw (Ex): At 1st level, as a standard action, a swashbuckler can draw a one-handed or light weapon with such speed that she can attempt a feint as a swift action. This deed costs 1 panache point to perform.
Close Stab (Ex): At 3rd level, a grappled swashbuckler can attack without penalty his grappler, using a one-handed or light weapon. This deed costs 1 panache point to perform.
Swashbuckler Impetus (Ex): At 3rd level, as long as a swashbuckler has at least 1 panache point, she gains a +2 bonus on initiative checks.
Encircling Strike (Ex): At 7th level, as an immediate reaction, when a swashbuckler misses an attack with a one-handed or light weapon, she can spend 1 panache point to pin down the target of that missed attack. The pinned-down target can’t execute attacks of opportunity for 1 round. A swashbuckler cannot choose to purposely miss a target to gain this effect.
Precise Wound (Ex): At 7th level, as a swift action, a swashbuckler can execute very precise strikes. On the next attack with a one-handed or light weapon she makes before the end of her turn, she can choose part of the body to target, and gain the following effects depending on the part of the body targeted. If a creature does not have one of the listed body locations, that body location cannot be targeted. This deed costs 1 panache point to perform no matter the part of the creature you target. Creatures that are immune to sneak attack are immune to these effects.
• Head: On a hit, the target is damaged normally, and is also confused for 1 round. This is a mind-affecting effect.
• Torso: Targeting the torso doubles the critical range of the affected attack.
• Arms: On a hit, the target takes no damage from the hit and drops one carried item of your choice, even if the item is wielded with two hands. Items held in a locked gauntlet are not dropped on a hit.
• Legs or Wings: On a hit, the target is damaged normally and knocked prone. A f lying creature falls. A creature that is immune to trip attacks is immune to this effect.
Roguish Strike (Ex): At 11th level, a swashbuckler can spend 2 panache points to gain the sneak attack class feature, as a rogue of 5th level (+3d6 damage). Roguish strike only works if the swashbuckler is using a one-handed or light weapon.
Bleeding Wound (Ex): At 11th level, when a swashbuckler hits a living creature with a one-handed or light weapon, she can spend 1 panache point as a free action to have that attack deal extra bleed damage. The amount of bleed damage is equal to the swashbuckler’s Dexterity modifier. Alternatively, the swashbuckler can spend 2 panache points to deal 1 point of Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution bleed damage (swashbuckler’s choice) instead. Creatures that are immune to sneak attacks are also immune to either type of bleed damage.
Stunt Strike (Ex): 11th level, a swashbuckler can spend panache to use one of the following stunts. All of the following uses of stunt strike cost 1 panache point.
• Sharp Key: A swashbuckler makes an attack roll against a lock, either in his reach or within throwing range. She can only use sharp key with a one-handed or light weapon. A diminutive lock usually has AC 7, and larger locks have higher ACs. The lock gains a bonus to its AC against this attack based on its quality. A simple lock has +10 bonus to AC, an average lock has a +15 bonus to AC, a good lock has a +20 bonus to AC, and a superior lock has a +30 bonus to AC. Arcane lock grants a +10 bonus on the AC of a lock against this attack. On a hit, the swashbuckler can pick a lock and open the door or compartment. She can also choose to lock an unlocked door or comportment with this stunt. In either situation she substitutes her attack roll for the Disable Device skill check. This use of sharp key costs 2 panache points if the door or compartment is locked.
• Scoot Unattended Object: The swashbuckler makes an attack roll against a Tiny or smaller unattended object, either in his reach or within throwing range. She can only use this stunt strike with a one-handed or light weapon. Diminutive unattended object has AC 7, and a Fine-sized unattended object has AC 11. On a hit, you do not damage the object but can move it up to 15 feet farther away from its origin.
• Enemy’s Courtesy (Ex): The swashbuckler can spend 1 panache point to make a CMB roll as a free action. If successful, she draws any unattended or sheathed weapon in his reach. If one of her hands is free, she you may automatically pick up the weapon.
Repartee (Ex): At 15th level, whenever a swashbuckler misses a creature with a one-handed or light weapon, she can pay 1 panache point to execute a combat maneuver with a free action. A swashbuckler cannot purposely choose to miss a target in order to gain this effect.
Loyal Weapon (Ex): At 15th level, whenever a swashbuckler would be disarmed or her weapons would gain the broken condition, she can spend 1 panache point, as an immediate action, to negate either effect. Loyal weapon only applies to one-handed or light weapons.
Stunning Shot (Ex): 19th level, when a swashbuckler scores a critical hit with a one-handed or light weapon, she can spend 1 panache point to deal normal damage and stun the creature for 1 round. Creatures that are immune to critical hits are also immune to this effect. Performing this deed does not allow the swashbuckler to regain panache from confirming a critical hit.
Deadly Strike (Ex): At 19th level, when a swashbuckler confirms a critical hit with a one-handed or light weapon against a living creature, she can spend 1 panache point to choose to deal normal damage, and the target must succeed at a Fortitude saving throw with a DC equal to 10 + 1/2 the gunslinger’s level + the swashbuckler’s Dexterity modifier. On a failed saving throw, the target dies. This is a death effect. Performing this deed does not allow her to regain panache from confirming a critical hit.
The swashbuckler gains Weapon Finesse as a bonus feat 1st level. This ability replaces the Gunsmith class feature.
At 2nd level, when unencumbered, wearing light armor or no armor and not using a shield (except a buckler), a duelist adds 1 point of Charisma bonus (if any) per swashbuckler class level to her Dexterity bonus to modify Armor Class and Combat Maneuver Defense while wielding a one-handed or light weapon. If a swashbuckler is caught flat-footed or otherwise denied her Dexterity bonus, she also loses this bonus.
At 4th level, and every four levels thereafter, a swashbuckler gains a bonus feat in addition to those gained by normal advancement. These bonus feats must be combat or panache feats.
A swashbuckler gains Evasion at 5th level. At 13th level, swashbuckler gains Improved Evasion. This ability replaces Gun Training.
At 20th level a swashbuckler picks two deeds that she has access to and that she must spend panache to perform. She can perform these deeds for 1 less panache point (minimum 0). If the number of panache points to perform the deed is reduced to 0, the swashbuckler can perform this deed as long as she has at least 1 panache point.
Using the grit feats of the gunslinger is possible to extrapolate equivalent panache feats for the swashbuckler. Panache feats interact with the panache class ability in some way, usually by increasing the set of deeds a swashbuckler or other panache user has. Any panache feats can be taken as bonus feats by a swashbuckler.
Amateur swashbuckler (Combat)
Although you are not a swashbuckler, you both have and can use panache.
Prerequisite: You have no levels in a class that has the panache or grit class feature.
Benefit: You gain a small amount of panache, and the ability to perform a single 1st-level deed from the swashbuckler class feature of the same name. At the start of the day, you gain 1 panache point, though throughout the day you can gain panache points up to a maximum of your Charisma modifier (minimum 1). You can regain panache using the rules for the panache of the swashbuckler class feature. You can spend this panache to perform the 1st-level deed you chose and any other deed you gain through feats or magic items.
Special: If you gain levels in a class that grants the panache or grit class feature, you can immediately trade this feat for the Extra Grit or Panache feat.
Adroitness and Flamboyance (Panache)
You have more panache than the ordinary swashbuckler.
Prerequisite: Panache class feature or the Amateur Swashbuckler feat.
Benefit: You gain 2 extra panache points at the start of each day and your maximum panache increases by 2.
Normal: If you are a swashbuckler, you gain your Charisma modifier in grit points at the start of each day, which is also your maximum grit. If you have the Amateur Swashbuckler feat, you gain 1 panache at the start of each day, and you have a maximum panache equal to your Charisma modifier.
Special: If you possess levels in the swashbuckler class, you can take this feat multiple times.
Chandelier Swinging (Panache)
You leap through the air, blade flashing.
Prerequisites: Dex 13, Panache class feature or Amateur Swashbuckler feat, Dodge, Mobility, Spring Attack, base attack bonus +6.
Benefit: As a full-round action, you can move up to your speed and execute your melee attacks normally with a one-handed or light weapon. You can make these attacks at any point during your movement and you can make the attacks at different points of the movement. This deed costs 1 panache point to perform.
Signature Deed (Panache)
You’re dashingly adept at performing a specific deed.
Prerequisites: Panache class feature, swashbuckler level 11th.
Benefit: Pick a deed that you have access to and that you must spend panache to perform. You can perform this deed for 1 fewer panache point (minimum 0). If the amount of panache needed to perform the deed is reduced to 0, you can perform this deed for the normal action cost as long as you have 1 panache point.