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So my local lodge was running the infamously deadly Dalsine Affair today. I decided to turn a blob of GM credit into a playtest Swashbuckler and put it through its paces. It did not survive.
First, the character build:
Rakshasa-Spawn Tiefling Swashbuckler 3
NG Medium outsider (native)
Init +7; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Perception +5
AC 20, touch 14, flat-footed 16 (+4 armor, +1 shield, +3 Dex, +1 natural, +1 dodge)
hp 28 (3d10+6)
Fort +3, Ref +6, Will +0 (+1 vs. fear)
Defensive Abilities bravery +1; Resist fire 5
Speed 30 ft.
Melee masterwork rapier +8 (1d6+1/18-20/×2+3 Precise Strike)
Special Attacks deed: menacing swordplay, deed: opportune parry, deed: precise strike, deed: riposte, panache
. . 1/day—detect thoughts (DC 15)
Str 13, Dex 17, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 8, Cha 16
Base Atk +3; CMB +4; CMD 18 (18 vs. disarm, 18 vs. steal, 18 vs. sunder)
Feats Power Attack, Weapon Focus (rapier)
Traits empyreal cultist (magnimar), reactionary
Skills Acrobatics +9, Diplomacy +9, Disguise +5, Intimidate +9, Knowledge (local) +6, Perception +5, Sense Motive +1; Racial Modifiers deed: derring-do
Languages Celestial, Common, Infernal
SQ deed: recovery, deed: swashbuckler initiative, prehensile tail, swashbuckler finesse
Other Gear Mithral Chain shirt, Masterwork Buckler, Masterwork Rapier, 150 GP
Bravery +1 (Ex) +1 to Will save vs. Fear
Damage Resistance, Fire (5) You have the specified Damage Resistance against Fire attacks.
Darkvision (60 feet) You can see in the dark (black and white vision only).
Deed: Derring-Do (Ex) Spend 1 panache to add 1d6 when making Escape Artist, Fly, Ride, or Swim check.
Deed: Menacing Swordplay (Ex) While have 1 panache, demoralize struck opponent as swift action.
Deed: Opportune Parry (Ex) Spend 1 panache and 1 AoO to attempt to parry a melee attack.
Deed: Precise Strike +3 (Ex) While have 1 panache, bonus to ak/dmg w/ light/one-hand piercing weaps.
Deed: Recovery (Ex) When attacked, spend 1 panache to step 5 ft. and gain +2 AC vs attack.
Deed: Riposte (Ex) When parrying, spend 1 panache and AoO to atttack your attacker.
Deed: Swashbuckler Initiative (Ex) While have Panache, can use a free hand to draw a light or one-handed piercing weapon as part of the initiative check.
Empyreal Cultist (Magnimar) +1 on Diplomacy checks against good-aligned humanoids.
Panache (Ex) Gain a pool of points that are spent to fuel deeds, regained on light/piercing crit/killing blow.
Power Attack -1/+2 You can subtract from your attack roll to add to your damage.
Prehensile Tail Your tail can retrieve small objects on your person as a swift action.
Swashbuckler Finesse At 2nd level, a swashbuckler gains the benefits of the Weapon Finesse feat with light or one-handed piercing melee weapons, as well as gains a +4 bonus to her CMD on disarm, steal, and sunder attempts made against these weapons.
We get the illegal cultists smuggled away. With no ranks in bluff I'm not very good at delaying the guards. The eidolon takes the forefront here, tripping their captain and staying behind until dismissed to hold the line against them.
Giant spider. I win initiative and do rather weak damage to it. It then counters and due to poor fort I fail my poison save and take Con damage. The remaining party members kill it while i am stagger from the poison.
Faceless stalker. I do weakish damage, and in the process have to block the eidolon's charge lane. I do some weak damage, the ranger then kills it.
Dogs. Nothing much to say. I do weakish damage again, then the ranger and eidolon finish everything off.
Big bad evil magus. The ranger goes first and attacks the illusion. He then takes the spell combat attack but keeps ticking. I move in and can't hit his high AC, but do give the ranger a flank. The eidolon can't hit it either. The only party members dealing damage here are the ranger with humans as favored enemy and the sorcerer who's hitting his touch AC.
After spending a turn attack the eidolon the BBEG turns to attack the ranger who's toe only one injuring him and kills him outright with an empowered shocking grasp. I still can't hit him, especially with my flanking buddy dead.
Fourth round. I'm wearing metal armor, so I get the shocking grasp spellstrike, dropping me to -4. The cleric channels me up to 3 and I try to stand up and grapple the BBEG. He crits on his AOO, dropping me to -18. Dead.
Final round. The eidolon finally gets in a hit, then the sorcerer's acid arrows finish him off. Ranger has enough prestige to get a raise dead. I have no such luxury.
Overall, I was unimpressed by the class. I was seriously outclassed in damage by the halfling ranger power attacking with his greatsword, ad of course, the eidolon. My AC was well below the eidolon's even before it got buffed, and slightly less than the ranger's.
With 3 Panache, I spent one to parry a hit, botching the parry roll. I wasted the second to improve my precise strike damage only to miss on the attack roll. I have to keep the third in reserve to use precise strike. I never finished off an enemy or even threatened a crit to regain Panache.
The class in general fails at its design goal of making an effective Dex-based melee combatant. Maybe it would have evened out with the tho-handed fighter at higher levels, but it has to somehow survive to reach them while the two-handed fighter can do its job starting at level 1.
In short: felt useless, died ignobly.
Swasbuckler is completely OP atm. It outclass the fighter by large. Try an dervish dancer build(with scimitar) and you will have stupid high damage by level 3+, scaling every level, sometimes 3 points per level(when power attack increase and weapon training increases).
It has everything a fighter has, but more.