View Full Version : [PrC] Hoplite Phalanx Bulwark

2007-07-23, 11:32 PM
Hey folks. I've been writing up fluff for my campaign world for a while now, and I think I'm ready to finally move into some of the mechanics that I've been staying away from, mostly to ensure that I'm not missing anything for when I finally do get around to GM'ing. In addition, I was inspired by the recent Dragon article with the Chess monsters, with the Pawns' ability of the Offensive Line being pretty much exactly what I was looking for in a phalanx mechanic, though I'm not exactly sure if it's balanced or not.

This post'll be focusing on a PrC based on the concept of the Greek Hoplite Phalanx warrior; a citizen of a Greek city-state (being the lazy history major I am, I'm just calling the whole area Hellas for now) who won his citizen rights by being able to fight for the polis/city. What distinguished an army from an unruly mob? Heavy armour, of course! Plus the whole "voting by pounding your spear against your shield" and so forth. The Phalanx Bulwark as presented here is meant to be the man in the front and center of the phalanx, sustaining the shield-wall when it would otherwise fall.

The fluff will obviously have to be re-written to be more in-theme, but that can wait for another day. Without further ado, the latest draft of the Phalanx Bulwark:

Proficiency: Proficiency with medium and heavy armour, proficiency with shields, proficiency with any spear.
Base Attack Bonus: +6
Feats: Combat Reflexes, Formation Expert, Phalanx Fighting, Weapon Focus (any spear).
Special: Must be able to provide one's own arms and armour, specifically the following panoply: a suit of medium or heavy armour, a heavy shield, and a spear of some sort.

Hit Die: d10

Class Skills: Climb (str), Craft (int), Handle Animal (cha), Intimidate (cha), Jump (str), Ride (dex), Swim (str).
[/b]SKill Points per level:[/b] 2 + Intelligence modifier.

{table=head]Level | BAB | Fort | Ref | Will | Special
1|+1|+2|+0|+0|From Neck to Foot
2|+2|+3|+0|+0|My Arm is Strong +1
4|+4|+4|+1|+1|My Arm is Strong +2
6|+6|+5|+2|+2|My Arm is Strong +3 (critical range)
8|+8|+6|+2|+2|My Arm is Strong +4 (critical modifier)
10|+10|+7|+3|+3| Carry the Day, My Arm is Strong +5 (two handed)

Weapon & Armour Proficiency: The Phalanx Bulwark gains no new weapon or armour proficiencies.

From Neck to Foot (Ex): The Phalanx Bulwark knows that for his state to survive and for his unit to emerge victorious, each member of the phalanx must protect the man to his left from neck to foot with his shield. The following occurs when the Bulwark utilizes the Lock Shields maneuver of Formation Fighting and/or is using Phalanx Fighting.
This grants each member in the line a +1 deflection bonus to AC and a +1 bonus on attack rolls and Reflex saves per the Bulwark’s class level. Additionally, the DC for enemies Tumbling through squares occupied by members of the phalanx increases by +2 per class level of the Bulwark.
The total number of people that may be affected by this ability in addition to the Bulwark himself is equal to the Bulwark’s class level + Charisma modifier. They must all be in line with the Phalanx Bulwark and must have a shield in hand. Characters cannot receive the benefits of From Neck to Foot from multiple Phalanx Bulwarks.

My Arm is Strong (Ex): Beginning at 2nd level, when wielding a spear for which you have Weapon Focus, the Bulwark may wield such a weapon one-handed without any penalties. In addition, he gains a +1 bonus to damage inflicted with a spear. At level 4, 6, 8, and 10, the bonus to damage increases by one.
At level 6, the critical threat range of any spear for which he has Weapon Focus the Bulwark wields is increased by 1 after all other modifiers. At level 8, the critical modifier of any such spear the Bulwark wields increases by 1 after all other modifiers. At level 10, even while wielding such a spear one-handed, he may apply his Strength bonus as though he were wielding it two-handed.

Carry the Day (Ex): The Bulwark truly is the heart and soul of the phalanx, leading them to victory against all odds and holding the line at all costs. When the Bulwark is forming a shield wall from Phalanx Fighting or using Lock Shields from Formation Fighting, the Phalanx Bulwark gains a +4 bonus to his Strength and Constitution scores.
In addition, allies affected by From Neck to Foot will fight to the very end; they will remain conscious and be able to act normally even when they have –1 to –9 hit points. The allies still die at -10 hit points, and if the ally leaves the shield line, the incapacitated condition begins to affect them normally.

Well, that's the Phalanx Bulwark as I have it right now. I'm wondering whether to dump the Phalanx Fighting feat as a prerequisite in the first place, as the only thing that really caught my eye about it was its name; I feel that Formation Expert more adequately represents what fighting in the hoplite phalanx may have required. If Phalanx Fighting is dumped, what would you recommend replacing its place as a prerequisite? I know that actual phalanx fighting included shield-smashing, grappling/pankration, a little bit of sword use and the like, but I'd like to keep things simple right now: a heavily armoured, shield-bearing spearman fighting in a phalanx.

I'm a bit worried about dead levels, and am contemplating inserting Bonus Feat slots, drawing on the list of Fighter bonus feats. Does it count as a Dead Level if you're increasing a previously learned class ability, i.e. From Neck to Foot?

Really worried about Carry the Day, as that +4 to Strength and Constitution is always a strong ability, though it's limited to when the Bulwark is in a phalanx formation (though a phalanx might last long beyond, say, a barbarian's rage or the like, and core doesn't seem to have rules regarding fatigue for fighting in heavy armour and the like, so bleh).

Comments, questions, suggestions, ripping it a new one, and so forth always welcome!

2007-07-24, 03:14 PM
I would definitely throw in some fighter bonus feats. Make weapon specialization available to them. I might also consider giving a phalanx with a bulwark a fear aura that extends to fifteen feet or so. Also an ability that allows a formation with a bulwark to charge without provoking an attack of opportunity. Toss in an improved shield bash somewhere.
That might fill out the class a little.
Also, consider the fact that a lot of PCs aren't going to want to play a class dependent on having an allow with the same training present to allow most of their abilities to function. (Admittedly it would be awesome to have two bulwark brothers as PCs or something like that) I don't know how many players would go for playing the same class as one of their compatriots.

2007-07-24, 04:31 PM
You know, I don't see a big advantage over just taking ten levels of fighter. Maybe what you ought to consider instead are a few new feats, and players who want a phalanx warrior should take the Leadership feat so that they have a phalanx of warriors to fight when needed.

2007-07-24, 04:46 PM
Something about a Prc (a specialist with rare high level abilities) based around a form massed infantry fails to make sense to me.

Where's the prestige in this Prestige class? I think you should make it more obviously an officer Prc. The 'my arm is strong ability' feels wrong since everyone in the Phalanx will be using a shortsword or spear at the same time as their shields. This should be a general house rule about spears, though the Prc giving bonuses would still be acceptable. I would put some more ally boosting powers in the middle rather than putting them all at the beginning and end. Maybe an Aura of courage or Improved Aid another style ability.

2007-07-31, 06:57 PM
I have to agree that a Prestige Class needs to be more in the 'heroic' vein.

The Rank and File of a D&D Greek Hoplite Phalanx should probably be made up of Warriors and Aristocrats or some combination thereof. The Elite members of the Phalanx would be Fighters. I recommend using a Variant on Weapon Proficiency Groups, such as Weapon Proficiency Group (Hoplite Weapons) and four new pieces of equipment:

Hoplite Shield (Heavy Shield)
Hoplite Spear (One Handed Martial Long Spear)
Hoplite Sword (Long Sword or Short Sword)
Hoplite Armour (Breast Plate Armour)

Typical Feats:

Weapon Focus (Hoplite Weapons)
Shield Specialisation (Hoplite Shield) [Player's Handbook II]

Additional Feats:

Weapon Specialisation (Hoplite Weapons)
Block Arrow [Heroes of Battle]
Shield Wall [Heroes of Battle]

If you are willing to go along with that, you can use it as a basis on which to build this Prestige Class, such as Hoplite Champion. My recommendation would be to give it a Base Attack Bonus Prerequisite of +5 and make sure he gets something resaonable at every level, something to do with Charging, Power Attack, Cleave and Shock Trooper would typically be a good idea.