I think two feat slots (only one if you're a Swashbuckler, since as Athaleon just pointed out, Swashbuckler already has finesse as a class feature from level 1) is a fair price to pay in order to make a single ability score determine the majority of your combat effectiveness numbers, as well as allowing you to have a decent AC without giving up movement speed or out-of-combat mobility in the levels before everyone can afford mithral armor.
If it's a feat, you can very nearly buy melee-SAD for two feat slots (not counting HP/CON, but everyone needs CON so that's not really a SAD/MAD issue). I'm 110% in favor of this because I absolutely LOVE finesse melee as a trope, but only at a price that actually makes it a somewhat difficult decision and retains its cool-ness and rarity.
Making this a feat introduces the possibility that it could be used by other single-class builds too. I think "Deadly Finesse" is a thematic trope the Swashbuckler shares with a lot of other character classes, such as graceful martial arts master Monks, many literary and media examples of Rogue characters, and many Magi, especially the elven "Graceful Battle-mage" variety.
So I ran my game last night, and my 15th level/Mythic Rank 1 PCs tangled with a CR "16 and change" encounter made up of angry Warforged. I had three in the encounter that used Path of War material - specifically, one Magus 7/Bladecaster 5 who used Martial Training I & II to qualify for Bladecaster, another Magus who picked up one level of Warder for a total of Magus 7/Warder 1/Bladecaster 4, and finally a 14th level leader who had Magus 7/Warder 1/Bladecaster 6.
This was in addition to a Warforged Crusader/Warblade/Fighter, an Alchemist, and a Wizard.
The Magi/Bladecasters had time to buff but couldn't surprise the party because the Wizard had to cast passwall in order to make it possible to attack. The two Magi who dipped Warder to get Bladecaster ruled the combat. Having access to a second discipline (Primal Fury in this case) and a larger selection of maneuvers known gave them significantly more power and more versatility than the Magus who just dipped into maneuvering with feats.
The Bladecasters outperformed the Crusader/Warblade by a good amount. The main assistance that he provided was giving free turns by leapfrogging delay actions and then using White Raven Tactics to basically grant extra turns to the Magi for the low, low cost of dropping by 2 initiative points each turn. His maneuvers and boosts did not stand up to the burst damage factor that the Magi/Warders were capable of.
The synergy between Magus and Scarlet Throne turned out to be everything that it promised to be, though it ended up being very heavy on burst damage. Both Magi/Warders managed to get a single round in which they performed a Hasted full-attack with Spell Combat & Spellstrike while using their swift action to boost with Noble Blade while delivering Intensified Shocking Grasps through their melee attacks. This took each unlucky recipient of such an attack from triple-digit HP all the way down to single-digit and they only survived because of immediate action abilities.
It was highly impressive, even more so because they could have kept blending Shocking Grasps into maneuver attacks for a few more rounds with the Bladecaster class abilities, but at that point the PCs were feeling like participants in a game of rocket tag so they started burning the nitro fuel to end the encounter ASAP.
Honestly, I personally wish it were possible to make Dex-to-damage a thing, but also make Strength more versatile somehow to compensate.
Like in True20, where the DC to hit you could be modified by Strength, which represented blocking/parrying and only worked against melee, or by traditional Dex-to-AC, which represented dodging and worked against everything.
But that existed in a system where armor did not make you harder to hit, so that's a wash. Strength-to-AC might make Strength too good and make Sword-and-Boarders in platemail untouchable (except by touch attacks). The game's math doesn't support that specific fix.
But adding in feats to add Dex to damage and add Strength to [i]something[i] it's not normally used for would make it so that you could go all-in on a stat if you wanted to, but going all-in on Strength or Dex was feat-taxed enough that it would only be optimal if your class and build supported it, like Dex fighters who would pay the tax because of the Dex synergy with their out-of-combat skill use.
I wonder if it's possible that both sides of the Dex-to-damage argument are correct?
That is to say, Dex-to-damage is too strong because it makes Dex do too many things and makes it OK to dump-stat Strength as a melee, but no Dex-to-damage makes finesse too weak, the desirable outcome being a middle point that can't be reached by using either of the physical attributes as the main damage stat by themselves.
It feels to me like the Swashbuckler tries to correct that by giving an extremely powerful buff to combat stats that can only be used by traditional "finesse" styles. But it can't obsolete the heavy-armor-and-falchion style, or else the battlefield will be ruled by fencers rather than knights and berserkers and this will be 7th Sea instead of Pathfinder. The problem is triangulating "good enough to compete with heavy-weapons melee, not good enough to obsolete heavy combat style".
Because if the Dex fighter can match Falchion Fred's DPR and also get 4 skill points a level and have better class skills, why play a "BSF" sort of character at all?
Meaning Swashbuckler needs to either lag behind Falchion Fred in DPR to make up for having better out-of-combat utility, or Swashbuckler's role in combat needs to be unique - Swashbuckler can do things Falchion Fred can't, and Falchion Fred can do things Swashbuckler can't.
If only there was a way to average Dex and Strength and apply that modifier to damage rolls.
Or use a mental stat, and have it add to damage rather than replace Strength, so that you're still incentivized to not dump Strength because a negative mod will penalize your damage, but you can safely be a Swashbuckler who doesn't work out at the gym or wear a Belt of Giant's Strength.
Had some down time at work today so I statted up a few Warforged Bladecaster builds for tomorrow night.
Magus wants Scarlet Throne style very badly - even before Bladecaster abilities kick in there's a lot of stance/boost synergy and Scarlet Throne plays nice with the one-hand-free style of Magus, but going into it from Warlord is pretty MAD (you can dump either Str or Dex but not any other stats) and going in from Warder requires being lawful and committing to a knight/samurai-esque code.
The loyalty code is just fine for my Warforged, who follow an ancient Warforged Wizard who led the others to freedom from the giants 25k years ago. They've all sworn loyalty to him, and the PCs just killed him over a Draconic-prophecy related argument and a threat on his part to send his army of double-digit level soldiers (what happens when you have 25k years in isolation to train for war) against the "soft and fleshy" races.
So they're pretty ticked off. Honor-bound to avenge their master, actually.
I made a Magus 7/Bladecaster 5 who got Scarlet Throne maneuvers from Martial Training I & II, and a Magus 7/Warder 1/Bladecaster 4 who is specialized in Scarlet Throne and Primal Fury maneuvers. Then I made a leader for their forces by adding two levels of Bladecaster onto the Warder build.
The two builds actually feel very, very different, which is pretty cool. The Magus/Bladecaster really focuses on the boosts and stances from Scarlet Throne to augment mainly Magus things, and the Warder build really likes to mix it up with significantly more maneuvers.
Eberron's one of my favorite pregen worlds, absolutely dripping with style, class, and things to do. I adore the whole "deepest, darkest Africa" vibe that Xen'drink gets, coupled with the ruins of the ancient giants... fantastic. I love your idea!
Total agreement here. I run all of my home games exclusively in Eberron or Planescape. Eberron has more hooks than a bait shop (did I really just say that?) and IMO does a very good job of justifying or simply cooperating with all of the mechanics and tropes of d20 that become head-scratchers or game-breakers in a lot of other settings.
That is to say, Wealth-by-level is justified by the existence of magic shops as a core component of the setting, and Xen'drik takes the idea that "murderhobo" is a day job for thousands and causes it to make perfect sense because the continent is packed to the brim with enough mystery and danger to last professional adventurers for centuries. PCs are demigods and game balance fails once levels are in the mid-teens? Okay, that's the new epic level. Your new opponents are Cthulhu's neighbors.
And then it's also a dark and gritty world of dungeon-noir where good and evil are no longer absolute. I couldn't be happier. I've run Eberron campaigns where people optimized their builds for politics or infiltration instead of combat because they knew how many layers of intrigue existed in the game world.
Eberron is half of why I didn't quit d20 and the ToB is the other half, so thank you for bringing more martial maneuver goodness to Pathfinder!
Huh, just noticed the throwing weapons bit in Precise Strike. Technically javelins are probably the better choice by one die step for 100% optimization, but I really like the support for the traditional ranged weapon of the Swashbucking hero - throwing knives!
Is it too meta of me to consider the possibility that the de-emphasis on strategic build options and the heavy emphasis on short-term, tactical choices is actually a deliberate decision based on the idea that most heroic Swashbucklers of film and literature would prefer to keep their options open and improvise rather than ponder and plan?
Edit: Designers, feel free to shoot this one down, and no accusation/insult/presumption intended towards anyone. Just a wacky conspiracy theorist thought that popped into my head, thought I'd share.
Reading this class makes me want to play one. A lot.
The Monk synergies are melting my brain a little. MAD thought it may be, I can't help but think that there's room in the world for a few Monk1/Swashbuckler X's.
Specifically, a Maneuver Master who picks up Improved Dirty Trick, Disarm, or Trip, and then goes "all in" to Swashbuckler. Every full attack includes a bonus maneuver, which is very in-theme.
Or for the Swashbuckler who doesn't mind using Monk weapons, there's always the option of picking up one or two levels of Monk and then going all Swashbuckler, in order to flurry with a light piercing Monk weapon.
Chris Parker wrote:
So now a swashbuckler can use a javelin better than he can use most swords by default. Still, at least you can actually take a feat to let you use swords other than rapiers and short swords with this class (only counting core books). Parry is better, but until higher level it's still a waste of an attack of opportunity and a panache point - odds are your AC is high enough that you'll only rarely block an attack that wouldn't have missed anyway. Not to mention that most GM's roll while declaring the attack, leaving very little room to mention that you're parrying. I'd still suggest that for a panache point and an attack of opportunity, you should at least get to pick after knowing whether it'll hit you rather than before.
Avoiding the hit isn't the only bonus though. I can think of plenty of scenarios in which I would parry an attack that probably wouldn't hit me anyway, just to get the free Riposte.
Plus, it really punishes anyone who decides to try to send all of their iterative or TWF attacks at the Swashbuckler, which seems to me to be very theme-appropriate - some hulking Barbarian or Fighter sort tries to go toe-to-toe and full attack the Swashbuckler, they get one hit in, and then the Swash blocks the next attack and pokes them with Precise Strike.
Once you've got Combat Reflexes and Weapon Training, if you're using a high-crit weapon like Rapier or Scimitar, you could be generating a LOT of Panache - I can see mid or high-level Swashbucklers generating 1 Panache a round semi-consistently, which means that Parry/Riposte inches closer and closer to being an additional attack per round at your highest BAB with full Precise damage added in.
I like all of the new the Charisma synergy, though I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a "Disciplined Duelist" archetype or somesuch that changes all of the CHA-based abilities to INT or WIS.
Specifically, in TVTropes language, for the finesse duelists who favor "The Technician" over "The Performer".
I think I might create a couple different stat blocks for the Bladecaster NPCs in my game. It looks like this Prestige Class could work really well with Magus or full progression casters, but in completely different ways, which is interesting.
Looks like the earliest it's possible to take this class would be as the 8th character level with Wizard 5/Warlord or Warder 2, or Wizard or Sorc 6/Warlord or Warder 1, or Magus or Bard 7 with the Martial Training. Magus 7/Warlord or Warder 1 is the runner up and probably provides the most return in the long run because of the ability to Battlecaster's Strike and Spellstrike at the same time, which basically means being able to "Spell Combat" and Spellstrike with maneuvers and touch spells.
Still, I can see a few different optimal ways to take Battlecaster. There could be a buffer Magus build that cares more about stances and boosts and using Spell Combat from the Magus class, and then there could also be a burst-damage Magus who wants Battlecaster's strike in order to be able to Maneuver and Spellstrike in the same action. I want to try them all! ( : So I think I will with NPCs in the next session of my campaign. That's tomorrow night, I will post with my results. This looks exciting though.
The PCs in my game are about to face off against a bunch of angry, ancient Warforged battle-mages in Xen'drik (they killed the leader because he was plotting to declare war on non-constructs). After the last fight, they're expecting many of the Warforged to have the Magus class or be straight Wizards, but I think instead I will have them find an ancient tome called "The Path of War" detailing ancient martial styles which will foreshadow their encounter with a group of Bladecasters seeking revenge for the death of their master and using martial maneuvers long forgotten...
Can't wait to give it a shot!
I'm just hoping we have time to give good feedback on the revamped versions. They're pushing this out a mite late in the playtest.
I can't say for certain as I am not part of Paizo, but I imagine part of the motivation for a big revision is to get improved versions of the new classes into the hands of players who will be using these classes as their PFS characters or in their home games for the next several months until the full ACG comes out. I know if I have the chance to play any PFS this year, it's going to be with a Swashbuckler PC.
Well, that, and there's plenty of time to gather feedback informally once the playtest is over. I'm sure we'll all still be talking about the new classes on the boards.
Ok, that does sound cool. I'll take a look at the playtest version and see if I can work it into my game. Looking forward to the "official" version too, of course. This subscription is already worth the asking price and I haven't even read all of the disciplines yet. My group is full of ToB fans and the opportunity to more than double the size of my PF game's primary crunch for "martials" is the best new PF item I could have hoped for.
My 3.5/PF game just had its first session after a multi-year hiatus a few nights ago so time's not on my side for this one. :p
However, I and my most system-competent player are both looking over the two completed classes from PoW with the intent of blending them into the campaign world, which already includes ToB, as "recently re-discovered ancient martial disciplines from the ruins of Xen'drik" (its an Eberron game). The PCs are already established, so the most I think I'm going to be dealing with on the PC side of things is a player with a ToB class asking to incorporate a single new style.
I'm going to create some antagonists that use the new styles and classes and see how it goes, and then try blending them as the newly discovered ancient arts get incorporated into society, and see gradually if doing so causes OP PCs or NPCs.
I just discovered yesterday that DSP was publishing this and bought a subscription on the spot.
The original ToB is a lot of the reason that my group still plays d20 3.5/PF at all. Back in the waning days of 3.5, I (the GM) and my group's most optimized player were rather dismayed about the vast melee/caster gap and the brain-crunching difficulty of making any melee work aside from "Falchion Fred" the strength THF warrior until we found the ToB. It definitely narrows the gap in the commonly played level brackets. I'm really happy to see that there's enough ToB love to support new ToB-compatible material. I'm already incorporating the Path of War into my 3.5/PF hybrid home game.
Has anybody had any luck blending the original 3.5 Martial Discipline material with Path of War? I love all of the new classes and styles, but they definitely do not just substitute for original ToB material on a 1-for-1 basis - everything I've read so far out of Stalker and Warlord seems to be blazing completely new trails with the maneuver system, so to me the only thing that seems more exciting than having a maneuver system in Pathfinder is blending the two and having five or six maneuver classes choosing from almost twenty styles. I'm thinking about allowing ToB classes in my game to learn appropriately-themed Path of War styles and vice versa, and allowing the Martial Training feat chain to apply to a ToB style if desired by the player.
Also, Deadly Agility makes all of my dreams come true! : D
Maybe some of these concepts can be better built mechanically via multi-classing, but not everybody wants to plan out a complex multi-class using early entry SLAs and retraining Feat swaps. Some people just want something that gets angry and casts spells and works out of the box.
IMO, the importance of this cannot be understated. It's going to be way easier to get new or intermediate RPGers interested in the game if they can come to the table and have a one-stop shop for their specific character concept, as opposed to being told that they need to research five sourcebooks and/or copy a very narrow, optimized build from the boards/guides/etc just to be able to make a street fighter or duelist or battle cleric that won't get looked down upon for having non-optimal DPR or something like that.
I do want my roleplaying games to have a "game" component, and reward system mastery with additional character effectiveness, but I'm against requiring system mastery just to make your character concept survivable and playable. I've seen people get turned off to the game because they realized that their character concept was not supported by the "optimal" versions of the core 11 classes and they would have to attain system mastery just to be able to make their concept as effective as the typical or pregen builds of the core 11 character classes when yhey were built to match the stereotype (Fighters/Barbs using STR and Two-Handed Weapons, Clerics buffing up and wading into combat, etc)
And some ideas didn't even really work with multiclassing. I think there's a place for a "Cleric-Rogue" in the fantasy narrative of PF and other game worlds I have used the PFRPG to explore (Eberron and Planescape in my own home games) but multiclassing Cleric and Rogue was going to lead to some serious disappointment. I applauded the introduction of the Inquisitor in the APG for that reason - Cleric-Rogue was not only a rules-supported idea now, but it had a strong in-world justification and concept. As a GM, I went back and revised old NPCs with that class because it was *perfect* to their concept, which was previously more flavor then mechanics. I'm going to do the same thing with Swashbuckler and Slayer, because there are Rogues, Rangers, Fighters, and others in my home campaign that will be expressed with mechanics that more closely match the flavor of those NPCs in my mind.
The classes add to the total complexity of the game, but they don't create more complexity per player - there aren't any more decisions during chargen than there already were. They just give more granular choices to one specific decision point so that, much like the Magus, if you have a very specific idea of what you want your character to be, you can be that exact idea from first level onward.
And then there are actual rules holes that needed to be filled, like a Dex-based fighter that didn't rely on twinking specific, non-core game elements (Dervish Dance or Lore Warden). Even though I've been playing PF since the day the core released and study CharOp boards/guides more obsessively than I probably should, the very fact that I can make a playable, even if not 100.00% optimized, Rapier Fighter is something I'm extremely exited about. I've been waiting for that since the days of 3.5.
It helps me as a GM, too, since when I'm writing a session for my home game, working out builds that can challenge my PCs (many of whom are at least moderately optimized because players like it when their characters win and there's nothing wrong with that) takes a long time. I remember spending hours writing an early PF game just because one of the NPCs was a Brawler in concept, but there was no easy way for the system to support it, so I played with builds for a couple of hours before I settled on something that still didn't stand up to a typical martial PC build. If I, as a GM, can make NPC characters by just deciding upon a level and a single class that encompasses everything that character is supposed to do, my prep time is going to drop by a lot.
If I have to choose between preserving the depth of multiclassing or having extra classes in order to give a greater range of "out-of-the-box" options, I'm personally going to choose the out-of-the-box options. Multiclassing is important to the complete-ness of the rules and 3.5 compatibility, but IME it's a feel-bad experience more often than it isn't.
While I would personally love to keep Precise Strike because it allows a one-hand, one-weapon fighting style to keep DPR pace with dual-weapon and two-handed weapon styles, a possible idea for Dex to damage that is not dippable could be capping it in the same way canny defense works for the Duelist/Kensai, where the maximum bonus than could be added is equal to the class level, so that you have to have the majority of your levels be Swashbuckler to get the maximum benefit.
I'm among those that really want to see a one-handed or one-handed plus buckler finesse style pass the "Is this character good when measured against quadratic casters and Falchion Fred?" test. Generally in 3.5 and PF up to this point, that character is only possible with a lot of CharOp/Theorycrafting/wacky builds, such as Dervish Magus and similarly narrow builds.
I agree that archetypes would be a good way to enable different styles with the Swashbuckler, possibly nerfing or changing the numeric effects of the most powerful of the class's abilities in return for enabling them to be used with combat styles that the game's rules already have better support for?
But I think picking on Agile weapons is a bit much - sacrificing an entire +1 bonus on a weapon and the late acquisition in most campaigns, including PFS, balances it out - AFAIK the DPR math really takes a beating from losing +1 to hit and to damage that you give up when you drop +1 of the enhancement bonus to a weapon. It's still a net positive when an Agile weapon is wielded by a character that maxed out Dex, but I don't think it breaks the game because it comes at a serious cost and requires surviving 5-7 levels before you can have it, and by that time, Dex-based Swashbucklers probably need some sort of damage boost to not sit out of any combat involving crit-immune monsters.
Dervish is easier to access earlier *if* the Swashbuckler gains actual Weapon Finesse as a feat, or if the wording on the current ability is changed to include "The Swashbuckler is counter as having the Weapon Finesse feats for the purpose of qualifying for feats and prestige classes that require it."
Otherwise, if Swashbuckler Finesse can't be subbed in for the actual Weapon Finesse feat, the feat tax on having to take Weapon Finesse when you already have it as a class ability seems like it's painful enough that Dervish doesn't need to be punished any more than that.
a masked hero/Zorro guy
An archetype that added Disguise as a class skill and/or gave some sort of Disguise bonus as an alternate class feature would be really cool.
Not my favorite kind of Swashbuckler, but definitely an abslutely necessary literary figure to be emulated by this class.
Especially if there were supporting alternate Deeds. Possibly use Panache to aid in Disguise checks, or maybe the Archetype can regain Panache by succeeding at Disguise checks by a certain margin or under specific conditions?
Sword and pistol pirate
A Pirate archetype that splashed Cavalier abilities to emulate dashing leadership of a Pirate crew would be cool. I don't know how practical or desirable that is (considering that it would just be a rearrangement of existing class features), but a charming Pirate leader, maybe a "Dashing Captain" archetype (maybe it wouldn't even have to be Sea-locked, but just a Dashing Captain of anything, since Profession is already a class skill) would cover some well-known literary/media Swashbucklers.
How about making the precise strike damage be in lieu of strength. This weakens the strength build because it does not stack with the strength to damage and it also shuts down dervish dance and agile as well which replace strength.
I'm not sure if it becomes necessary to crack down on Agile. It takes quite a while to acquire using standard wealth-by-level and even assuming that magic item purchases are allowed, and requires sacrificing another +1 equivalent weapon ability or a flat +1 on attacks and damage.
I agree that those other full BAB classes have their own ways of engaging with the story non-combatively. Those characters interact with the environment from different angles than the Swashbuckler does and often in different subject areas. The archetypal Swashbuckler does not generally engage with animals, the wilderness, holy or unholy forces, or magic in general. However, I think all of those classes are inferior to the Swashbuckler in their ability to engage socially with other intelligent beings. The fact that it is possible to build a Sawshbuckler who can keep pace, in the social skill arena, with Rogues and Bards (except those specifically optimized for social interaction, who have probably given up combat abilities to do so, such as by taking the Master Spy prestige class or some of the social-boosting archetypes) while also having potentially Fighter-grade DPR and AC should not be underestimated. True, they aren't class abilities that change in scope or do anything other than get another +1 every level, but the scope of Diplomacy, Intimidate, Sense Motive, and Bluff increases by the nature of those skills, because every few plusses you get to that skill group is another whole class of people that you can now interact with in *any* social context and come out ahead.
Especially since the descriptions of most of the social skills make it clear that if you can hit high DCs consistently, you can get away with some truly stunning social victories. At some point, you get enough bonus, to say, Bluff, that you gain the ability to tell the king a giant whopper of a lie and get away with it, or use Bluff to sell ice cubes in the frozen north, or use Diplomacy to convince the man who's brother you killed that you're not such a bad guy or gal.
In an interaction/RP heavy campaign, I would rather be a Swashbuckler than most of the other full BAB classes, because as compared to most of the full BAB classes, the Swashbuckler wins at talking.
The Ranger gets more skill points and a lot of outdoorsy skills, but lacks the social skills as class skills and lacks CharOp/Combat reasons to max out Charisma, so the Ranger is not going to be doing much talking.
Even the Paladin, which is supposed to be a more "social" full BAB class, does not get all of the social interaction skills as class skills, and then there are also the stringent conduct requirements. I'm pretty sure just using the Bluff skill to do anything other than feint is probably a breach of a typical Paladin's vows.
Other than the Cavalier, I don't see any other full BAB classes that have the skills to let them open their mouth in *any* given social situation without ever risking placing their foot in it.
In most "Swashbuckler" media that I am aware of, the Swashbuckler types of character generally do solve all of their problems by fighting them, climbing them, jumping over them, or talking to them, and with all of the social skills, the Swashbuckler is capable of engaging socially with other creatures in every possible way.
Plus, they have Perception and Sleight of Hand as class skills, which open up a lot of doors as far as ways to use their wits and trickery to overcome problems.
All of the Swashbuckler's class features, aside from the 4 skill points, are related to combat. This leaves this class with very little narrative power and ability to engage in the story in a meaningful fashion outside of the "kills things" scope. The class is a hammer and every problem is going to look like a nail.
That's not terribly different from the predicament that several full BAB progression classes find themselves in, especially the Fighter.
To me the Swashbuckler seems ahead of several of the full BAB classes in engaging with the story because of the 4 skill points and some very story-relevant class skills, which include all of the big 4 social interaction skills (Bluff, Intimidate, Diplomacy, Sense Motive), which means we have a full BAB class that, because of the skill points, class skills, and synergy with the Charisma stat, is probably *almost* as capable as Rogues and Bards at solving problems with mundane talking, and has a Fighter/Barbarian-grade damage output to fall back on if negotiations fail.
I think "successful" as a term for the Lore Warden is subjective. It has been commented that perhaps the Lore Warden is TOO good, and therefore, I would not consider it an absolute success.
I think I missed this part. I tried to break Lore Warden but maybe I gave up too early. Are there any threads or build guides where this was discussed?
1) I like the idea of having Swashbuckler have Charisma as their main mental stat. Swashbucklers who really want the Int option already have Duelist (I'd be very interested to see how a Swashbuckler entry into Duelist works out). And in the ACG we already have the Slayer, the Int-focused melee class.
I'm not sure where the Int focus of the Slayer is coming from. I haven't seen a class ability that makes the Slayer's combat math depend as heavily on Int as the Swashbuckler does on Cha.
IME, the main option for an Int-based melee warrior is Magus, which, barring Dervish Dance shenanigans or waiting until you can buy an Agile weapon, is more of a "Str > Int > all else" class. An argument could be made for Dex being necessary for a well-rounded Magus that doesn't have a depressingly bad AC, but unless you have some CharOp/Theorycrafter experience, the Magus is not going to jump out as the class to play in order to finally play all of one's 7th Sea character ideas in PF.
The Swashbuckler looks like it's poised to be *the* go-to, ready-out-of-the-box Dex based melee fighter, but it wouldn't hurt to give the Swashbuckler the option of being "Dex > Int > else" rather than "Dex > Cha > else", especially since the Gunslinger got an archetype to move the Grit ability score from Wis to Cha.
Having an Int-based archetype for the Swashbuckler would still fill a rules need, though, as well as appear in a "Core"/setting-neutral product line.
Would it be OP to add the following to "Menacing Swordplay"?
"If the target of an Intimidate check enabled by Menacing Swordplay is already shaken, a Swashbuckler who possesses the Improved Dirty Trick, Improved Disarm, or Improved Trip feats may instead attempt the combat maneuver for which he or she has that feat as a Swift Action."
Not perfect, but it might work to emulate the Swashbuckler trope of fighting with tricks and using the environment against the opponent. Maybe a sidebar explaining that Swashbucklers who can work use of the environment into their combat maneuvers (dropping chandeliers on people, pulling the rug out from under their feet, etc) should at the GM's discretion have a circumstance or morale bonus on the CMB roll?
Alternately, might succeeding on a combat maneuver against an opponent be a source of Panache? Maybe only Swashbuckler appropriate maneuvers count, such as reposition, dirty trick, disarm, etc?
"Shame your foe: A Swashbuckler who succeeds on a disarm, reposition, dirty trick, or trip combat maneuver check against an opponent with 3 or greater Intelligence regains a point of Panache as that opponent is embarrassed at how deftly the Swashbuckler has one-upped them".
Another idea, just brainstorming
"Impressive Display: A Swashbuckler fighting in the presence of at least one NPC who has a 'Very Friendly' attitude toward the Swashbuckler may, as an immediate action once per combat, regain a point of Panache."
That would cover the sorts of "morale boosts" literary and movie Swashbucklers get when they're trying to defend or impress lovers, potential lovers, patrons, younger siblings, old friends from finishing school, crewmates, etc
A Swashbuckler archetype, named something like "Warrior-Scholar", "Calculating Fencer", "Learned Duelist" or something, that uses Int to determine Panache Pool rather than Charisma. Maybe swaps out a couple of the class skills for Knowledge skills, in order to emulate the refined-and-disiplined upper-class fencer/duelist sort of character.
I can't help but look at this class and be excited, because outside of Dervish Dance shenanigans, it looks to me like the closest there has been to a Dex-based melee class that can keep pace with the 2-handed weapon juggernauts that have dominated melee in PF thus far.
I know this has been mentioned several times already, but the limitations on Precise Strike seem a little overboard. "affects only enemies vulnerable to critical hits" would feel a lot less feast-or-famine to me.
I do like the Panache pool mechanic, especially since most archetypal Swashbucklers fight with high crit weapons like the Rapier and benefit from Improved Crit at 5th level, making combat a dynamic experience for Swashbucklers, though it would be fun to see an archetype that uses Int instead of Cha, since many fantasy & literature fencers fall into the "brains and discipline over brawn" camp.
I have to say that while Parry/Riposte do seem a bit expensive when used together, the ability to use AoOs as a currency in duels and other combats where there's not a lot of moving around and provoking AoOs seems pretty appealing.
The Swashbuckler seems like a pretty defensive melee class, between Parry/Riposte, Recovery, and Menacing Swordplay all making it continually harder and harder to hit the Swashbuckler. I suppose, playing one, I would be concerned that in many adventures I would go from awesome to near-useless if, for example, the party was fighting a lot of a common enemy type such as undead, making the main source of damage (Precise Strike) and an awesome debuff/defense ability (Menacing Swordplay) both unusable in the same fight.
On the other hand, it seems exciting that Swashbuckler Level = Fighter level for Combat Feats, meaning that Weapon Specialization and all of the really high-octane critical boosts that require you to be a high level Fighter (like the ones that allow you to get a free combat maneuver out of a crit) are available at no additional charge, which seems like it could be very, very good since many Swashbucklers are going to be getting in a lot of crits.
However, not outright gaining the Weapon Finesse or Improved Crit feats hurts. I don't want to pay double feat slots just to be able to build on my 15-20 crit range.
D'oh. You're right. I forgot about that. Not quite as awesome as I had hoped, though I can see some corner cases where you could use terrain or formation to make it harder to take that 5-foot step.
One thing I haven't seen anyone bring up yet (and please forgive me if someone did mention it and I just missed it) is the 1st level Deed Recovery. The way I read it, it's possible for the Swashbuckler to use Recovery to 5-foot step away from an enemy during the first attack of their full attack sequence, and after getting +2 against their first attack, deny them the rest of their full attack if the Swashbuckler has moved outside of their reach.
If that is the correct way to read that ability, it seems pretty powerful, not to mention matching the flavor of the Flynn-style Swashbuckler - "Full Attack, will you?! Your DPR and flurry of attacks means nothing to me, brute, I've dodged the first and it seems you canont reach me now! Ha ha!" or somesuch.
In my personal experience, the game is most playable between levels 3 and 12. Those are the levels where I plan to start and end my campaigns. In my most recent home game, the day the PCs hit 13 was the day the game broke in half. IMO, there's just a critical mass of ways that PCs can go too far off the rails. I have managed to keep the game interesting after 13, but it's quite a job. I would never want to do so at a convention, especially with a pre-written mod.
Captain Sir Hexen Ineptus wrote:
The problem with scaling DCs is that it gets harder, over time, to make the same jump over a ten foot pit. With static DCs, the ten foot pit gets easier, but in a few more levels, you can easily jump a 10 foot pit, but the 15 foot pit is still a challenge.
I don't see Paizo killing off any of the truly sacred cows because one of the the publicly and commercially stated purposes of the Pathfinder RPG is to remain compatible with d20 products from the 3.5 era. Devs have gone on record saying that they prefer to add to the system rather than subtract, so the most I can see happening is that in a new sourcebook or printing of the core, more gets added to the class ability or feats lists to shore up the deficient classes or character types. I'd be sacred cows like the xmas tree don't get removed, though it would be nice to see a definitive way to run low-magic games by replacing the math that is currently handled by magic items with other plotline boons, like blessings or morale bonuses.
I'm an idiot. Sorry, you did suggest this earlier and Alchemist is on my to-do list. I just don't know the Alchemist class as well as some of the others on this list, so I am doing a little more homework before adding to the guide.
Good idea. I'll look into that. I've yet to fully investigate the options regarding Dex-boosting classes (Urban Barbarian and Alchemist specifically) but it looks promising. Will add to the build and class sections soon.
Also, just bought the Advanced Race Guide PDF, so I will probably be spending most of today looking through it to see if there are any new Finesse-boosting options.
Seconding Blind Guardian. They write songs about just about every popular fantasy series there is. Lord of the Rings, Song of Fire and Ice, Wheel of Time, Elric, etc., but they have actually directly referenced Dungeons and Dragons once in the song "The Soulforged" from the album "Night at the Opera" which is about Raistlin from Dragonlance.
Special mention of Battlelore. Every song on every album is a Middle Earth reference. Every. Song.
Kamelot doesn't skimp on the fantasy lyrics.
Dragonforce should be a no-brainer.
Hammerfall also likes Song of Fire and Ice, as well as making up their own fantasy stuff.
Bal-Sagoth reminds me of Lovecraft and Warhammer 40k.
Symphony X is more into mythology and religion, but there's plenty of fantasy themes to go around in those subjects.
Michael Brock wrote:
Will normal death rules apply? That is, assuming that I'm dead and not disintegrated, will I be able to spend Prestige and cash on hand to have my body retrieved and raised if I'm one of the casualties?
Daryl MacLeod wrote:
Shadowcat's interpretation of the rule is the one I am going with. There's been some debate about this, and the general consensus is to go with the more conservative version of the rules.
I do mention Piranha Strike in the guide, or I will. It's not very good because dump-statting Strength is not a good idea IMO. Power Attack is not that hard to qualify for and you can PA with light weapons.
My apologies. I intended to add the Dervish builds you suggested, but must have misread - I didn't link of AoMF with those builds. Sorry, my bad. Will correct.