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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Dwarf in the Playground

    Join Date
    Mar 2012

    Default Paradoxes of Fighting Defensively: A Swashbucklers' Handbook

    Paradoxes of Fighting Defensively,
    A Swashbucklers’ Handbook

    (A disclaimer: This was intended to be much more visually appealing, but my computer skills are Truenamer-like.)

    The swashbuckler is an iconic figure of literature, cinema, and stage. Like the Barbarian, the Ranger, the Knight, the Samurai, and other classes of warrior stock, the Swashbuckler’s abilities are intended to reflect a type of fighting-man image that has proven successful in storytelling mediums. However, as has been numerically proven time and again, the so-named core class falls woefully short of our cinematic expectations in 3.5th Edition.

    Why, then, even bother playing a Swashbuckler when one can play a swashbuckling (insert class here)? A little multiclassing, a feat or two, even spell and item selection can generate the same effects numerically, oft-times better. Consider a Wizard, the paragon of world-breakers. One +X skilled defending rapier of what-the-hell-was-that?, a set of buff spells, the Quicken Spell feat, and you’ve got a highly-educated master of the mystic arts with a propensity for toying with more muscle-bound melee malcontents. The Factotum is a man for all seasons, just what the Cleric ordered for the tunnels or the tower. The Bard, charming, martially proficient, and with his own buffs to whistle-up at a moment’s notice, is the very soul of the foppish, romantic rake. It even gives you leave to play a half-elf and be proud of it! The Warblade, who emphasizes intelligence and panache in combat, can easily be seen swinging from any chandelier that can support him and his plate mail. There are, in point of fact, many ways to go about swashing bucklers, from the mystic to the mundane. Aside from those suggested above, there are three non-magical suggestions that come to my mind as archetypes of the genre:

    Barbarian: (Whirling Frenzy/Ferocity, Pounce, Imp. Trip, Cityscape skill-swap) These Rage-options can give you the Devil-may-care, brash, fearless swordsman, the passionate free-spirit to which the fictional Cyrano de Bergerac aspired at all times, taking on any challenge or insurmountable odds:

    “I am going to be a storm-a flame-
    I need to fight whole armies alone;
    I have ten hearts; I have a hundred arms;
    Away with the dwarves-

    ― Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac

    Another option is the brooding, dark-eyed warrior. His fury boils inside him like a stoppered cauldron. He struggles to control it, to focus it upon those to whom hells of wrath should be visited. When he snaps, he is a hungry leopard given human form, a terrible beauty, but is always left literally sickened by his loss of control, and horrified at the destruction left in his wake!

    Fighter: (Hit& Run, Thug, Sneak Attack Fighter, Zhentarim Fighter; Dragon #310’s Bodyguard, Commander, Corsair, Exoticist, Fencer, Kensei, Targetteer) By simply letting go of the heavy metal shell that anchors him to a melee tank role, the Fighter can become a precision-duelist (with or without Weapon Finesse), a sharp-shooting musketeer, a gadgetty-weaponer, an ally-buffer, or a noble-hearted protector. Indeed, a swordsman can channel his intellect (Knowledge Devotion), his cunning (Sneak Attack Fighter, Hit & Run), and even his fighting spirit (iaijutsu focus) into deadly blows! Also, there is potential here to build a swashbuckler in the original sense, a nimble sword-and-buckler man (minding the difference between a real-world buckler and its D&D counterpart).

    Rogue: (Penetrating Strike) In 2nd Edition AD&D, there are 3 kits named “Swashbuckler.” The first is a universal kit from the Mystra setting, the second a Fighter kit who gets an AC bonus for wearing light-or-no armor, and the third is a Thief kit whose specialty is disarming his opponents & looking good while doing anything. This third option helped give rise to 3/3.5’s Rogue, shedding the trappings of the Thieves’ Guild for the rapier and the rose. The Rogue’s approach to swashbuckling is all finesse-fighting and social skills, rake and romance, eloquence and espionage. A lesser BAB is made up for by generally superior initiative, superior skills and skill points, and sneaky fighting, opening the way for deadly precision strikes:

    “…'tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a
    church-door; but 'tis enough, 'twill serve: ask for
    me to-morrow, and you shall find me a grave man.”

    (one Swashbuckler, upon being struck by another, III,1,1601)

    These are perhaps the simplest approaches to playing a classic swashbuckler, but others abound. The Knight and the Paladin (and its alignment-based variations) bring into mechanical game-play systems of honor akin to codes duello and other vows. Duskblades, Hexblades, and the like combine sword and sorcery to showy or manipulative effect. Beguilers and other Int-based casters, or Sorcerer and the Cha-based casters, are naturals in settings where power leads to intrigue and intrigues are power. Clerics, especially the Cloistered kind, enhance any build for a warrior of the faith. And let’s not forget the Binder, a rebel-mystic who draws power from sources that others dare not even study! Or the Truenamer, who … no, let’s forget the Truenamer; WotC did.

    Nor should one’s species dictate the adoption or abandonment of the swashbuckler moniker. Sure, a human, an elf, a hob- er, a halfling may easily fit the mold, but a dwarf? YES! Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis introduced the avatar of Reorx, DouganRedhammer, as a foppish compulsive-gambler who rolls the bones before he thinks, reminiscent of Dumas’ Porthos. It is easy to picture a dwarf as the type who takes pains to dress well, keep his beard well-groomed, and fight for honor at the drop of a broad-brimmed, overly-plumed hat, wielding a pair of basket-hilted hand axes, hooking, tripping, and hacking!

    Half-orc, you say? Think Cyrano de Berger-orc, accepted by few, determined to be better than all! What better fuel for role-playing?

    Consider the deadly drow swordsman, an assassin from a culture where intrigues are more prevalent than both air and stone, and every new blade is tested in the back of a friend.

    So what is the key element to playing a Swashbuckler? In a world where Knights of Holy Shielding clash with the hordes of Iuz, where holy vorpal spiked chains +5 of Aname-overkill rule the duel, how can a light-fighter who’s a little of everything and all of nothing even hope to survive?

    In a word, panache’.

    Rather than focusing on what he hasn’t, think of what is at a Swashbuckler’s disposal: full BAB, a talent for light and finessable weapons, an intellectual precision to his attacks, a warrior’s fortitude with which to deal with the rigors of brawling and carousing, and a highly specialized skill set. His reactions will be decent, though his willpower and judgment may be shaky. He may have no spells, no sneak attack, and is feat-starved despite the initial bonus feat (Weapon Finesse), but this needn’t soil his white plume.

    Cyrano de Bergerac notwithstanding, the Swashbuckler should be a team player in combat, assisting and flanking and taking cheap shots galore (think of the Three and then Four Musketeers; if you don’t have time to read the D’Artagnon Romances, watch the Richard Lester films from the mid-‘70’s, which you should watch anyway). Using finessable reach weapons like whips and chains can make the Swashbuckler a valued field-control ally (to say nothing of their uses in the boudoir). Tripping, two-weapon fighting, and attacks of opportunity are all viable focuses. Team-up with the Rogue, get friendly with the Wizard, whatever, but be a staunch and faithful comrade. One for all, and all for one!

    (It is also worth noting that one reason a Wizard is such a world-breaking Batman is, as has been admitted before, because he has at least three other team mates on whom he may rely. Stick that in your censer and smoke it, Raistlin!)

    Play the Swashbuckler with style and audacity. Know what your party members can do. Know how to help them shine and how they can help you shine.

    Be tactical, witty, and inventive. In a theatrical, desperate situation, have your character do what you’d like to see a well-cast cinematic adventurer do. Swing from a chandelier & use it to bull rush Mola Ram into the lava pit! And fear no reality! Physics never stopped Peter Jackson’s characters, so why should it stop yours? Humility and caution are for Paladins, not Swashbucklers! Fortune favors the bold, and a cool head never won fair lady!

    Out of combat as in, be charming. Even if one’s Charisma is 3, he should at least act charming. If he fails miserably, over-play the swash and panache for an obviously social klutz, or the somehow endearing doofus. The key here is to avoid confusing charm or enthusiasm with a Charisma score.

    The Swashbuckler is tailor-made, if not efficiently, for playing a thinking, tactical combatant. The creativity needed from the player for this class to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Wizard and the Warblade makes playing one a fun challenge, and the access to social abilities make such a character a natural leader or party-face.

    In the end, there is the fun of playing a character that IS FUN despite being dismissed by others based solely on the numbers. Better numbers don’t always equal fun. For those familiar with the mathematics of faithful tithing, the idea of gaining benefits in the face of “That’s impossible!” logic makes perfect sense. Or, think about the great Errol Flynn. Never would he have stated in an interview, “Why, in my newest picture I play a Sneak-Attack Fighter with roots as a Cloistered Cleric and some Wizardly training.” Therefore, I submit that, yes, there are other ways to play the swashbuckler-type, but there is a certain amount of satisfaction to be found in playing a Swashbuckler!
    Last edited by Suteinu; 2015-02-18 at 04:49 PM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Dwarf in the Playground

    Join Date
    Mar 2012

    Default Re: Paradoxes of Fighting Defensively: A Swashbucklers' Handbook

    Instructions on My
    Paradoxes of Fighting Defensively

    The first installment of this handbook discussed the philosophy of the swashbuckler type and an argument for playing a Swashbuckler. Similar to George Silver’s famous treaties on English vs. Italian swordsmanship and the English style of personal combat, the first volume puts forth the argument of “why” and this second installment is the “how to” of the matter. An extra 1,000 XP to those who caught the reference in the title.

    How will we build our Swashbuckler? It seems by the class’ chassis that he is a Warrior with just enough hit points to die heroically and just enough combat ability to take some minions with him; this is hardly the stuff of legend. WotC’s lackluster special abilities and a feat-starved arrangement do, admittedly, make playing a Swashbuckler a formidable prospect.

    Being a Tier 5 class, your Swashbuckler will be specialized. If you try to diversify greatly, you’ll wind-up being no things to all men. If your Swashbuckler specializes in the wrong things, you’ll get a similarly dismal result (as a t-shirt once pointed out, “There’s just some things you SHOULDN’T DO with a Big Johnson.”) Find a specialty to which your Swashbuckler is suited, keep an eye on being a team player, and remember that role-playing is your character’s true shining point.

    But first, speaking of team-play, I have some thanksses to acknowledge, in no particular order:

    Alexander Dumas
    Richard Lester
    Cyrano de Bergerac
    William Shakespeare
    George Silver
    Christopher Lee
    Ewart Oakshott
    Dictum Mortuum
    Eno Remnant
    Alan Hutton
    Aethan& Wolfram
    Gary Gygax
    Tommy 2255

    Also wik:

    This is my first attempt at a true Handbook, so I’ll try to follow the classic guidelines more closely than I did in my Fighter’s Fightbook of Fighting. Also, I’ll try to stick to listing the more viable or interesting options for character building. Seems to me a better use of space to list what’s handy for a Tier 5 class without worrying about the vast sea of “don’t”’s, so I won’t be color-coding my entries; you’ll have to read and draw your own conclusions as to the best build for your Swashbuckler.
    Last edited by Suteinu; 2015-02-24 at 03:02 PM.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Dwarf in the Playground

    Join Date
    Mar 2012

    Default Re: Paradoxes of Fighting Defensively: A Swashbucklers' Handbook

    Forte et Foible
    (Strengths and Weaknesses)

    “You’re MAD!”
    “Thank goodness for that because if I wasn’t this’d probably never work.”
    (Swashbuckler’s observation prior to pulling-off
    a stunt involving a cannon, two ships, a hand-
    painted pewter figurine, and at least 50’ of rope)

    Strength: You’re a melee specialist. Whether damaging, tripping, or whatever, your strength should be decent. Not your most important physical ability, thanks to Weapon Finesse and Insightful Strike, and in some builds it can be all but dumped, but it is handy for chandelier-swinging, too …
    Dexterity: Light armor and Weapon Finesse. Hello, Manual of Quickness of Action!
    Constitution: Again, you will likely wind-up in melee, so the more you can add to your d10, the better. And then there’s the carousing to consider …
    Intelligence: This means more skill points and, for most opponents, more damage. It also helps you, as the player, feel wittier.
    Wisdom: Finally, a comfortably dumpable stat! Not that your Will Save couldn’t use the boost, not to mention your sense-related checks, but this a viable dump-stat when you compare it to the others. Duel at the drop of a hat or the bite of a thumb, and practice these words: “You’re MARRIED?”
    Charisma: Charm, social grace, seduction, manipulation. What about combat, you ask? It’s called Iaijutsu Focus. Practically speaking, though, this is also a dumpable stat.

    Tools and Weapons

    BAB: Full. “Hallo. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

    Saving Throws: Good Fortitude Saves. Again with the carousing. Also handy for hard, desperate riding to get your promiscuous queen’s jewelry back to her before her royal infidelity is exposed.

    Hit Dice: d10. “Hallo. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

    Weapon Proficiency: All simple and martial. Sure, you tend strongly toward light, ranged, and finessable weapons, especially those with broad crit ranges, but you can swing the vorpal great sword at vampires with the best of ‘em.

    Armor Proficiency: Light. Not even shields. The Swashbuckler is not proficient with shields. Nor a cloak, even. This is either a bad joke or a tremendous oversight on the part of the Wizards. In any event, be sure to get dibs on the Bracers of Armor + (the most). By the way, the bucklers for which these rakes were named historically really resembled, in function, a D&D steel light shield; held in one hand rather than strapped-on, and frequently used offensively (ever been punched in the face with a steel boss?). Now, in the game, this can easily be translated to a masterwork steel light shield, because the masterwork quality negates the Dex penalty, and the class’ Martial Weapon Proficiency allows for the “buckler’s” more aggressive applications as a light weapon.

    Skills: A base of 4 points with which to work, likely with a higher than average Intelligence. The class skills are a pretty decent selection. Of course, some of these can be replaced or buffed by a party spell-slinger, but the less the Wizard has to blow on you, the more willing he’ll be to give you a hand when you do need it.
    Balance- 5 rank minimum vs. Grease (the spell and the musical), more if you plan on dramatically dueling on the rainy rooftops of gothic cathedrals. Remember the words of a wise hob- er, halfling: “If you don’t keep your feet, there’s no telling where they’ll take you!”

    Bluff- Good social skill, enhances other social skills, and the foundation for the seduction DLA. Besides, have you ever gone in against a Sicilian when Death is on the line? Don’t let him make you give something away!

    Climb- For chandeliers, vines, rigging, balconies, and windmills at which you are not tilting. Alternately, watch The Musketteer; as D’Artagnon fights his way up the tower at La Rochelle, climb becomes a beautiful skill to have mastered. Romeo had a few ranks in this, didn’t he, that pansy?

    Craft- If you can spare the skill points, consider Writing. The historical Cyrano was as much a quill-cracking wit as his stage incarnation. Combine this with your Bluff, Diplomacy, Forgery, and Seduction attempts to make what amount to long-ranged enchantments! Besides, chicks dig poets, right?

    Diplomacy- Getting the point across without drawing your sword. Yes, you can be a diplomancer!

    Escape Artist- Make yourself harder to tackle and better at bondage BINDING! Binding! I said BINDING!!

    Jump- Plus Tumbling. Watch any swashbuckling film worth its salt.

    Profession- Sailing is the most common one thought of in D&D. I find that a steady income between adventures can be handy, though far from necessary, unless your character is based upon a particular profession. Other suggestions are Gunner or Siege Engineer (watch the Russian film, 1612), Soldier (like a certain three or four French musketeers), Brewer/Distiller (like the immortal Cpt. Toomey Starks), and Surgeon (like Cpt. Peter Blood, though you'll want some ranks in Heal as well, lest you more closely resemble Blood's “thick-fingered” rivals in Jamaica).

    Sense Motive- Remember Bluff? You’re not alone; others have this skill, too. It takes one to know one.

    Swim- Historically less common among sailors than you’d think. It’s handy to have, though, even if you’re just exploring the sewers of Paris.

    Tumble- Helps you to get there and back again without drawing attacks of opportunity.

    Use Rope- Seafaring necessity and bondage BINDING!!

    Cross-Class Skills
    Heal- Probably only if you go for the Profession: Surgeon skill (see above).

    Iaijutsu Focus- If you play a focused swordsman who is intent on becoming as at one with his blade as possible, use this skill to hit ’em with your personality, your spirit, your ki, or your unquenchable thirst for the perfect strike! For this approach, Charisma should be pumped, not dumped. Might even be worth a Skill Focus feat …

    Intimidation- Whether it’s your reputation, the world-weary look in your eye, the scars you bear from facing insurmountable odds, your puff-and-bluster, or the careless smile you bring forth before a duel, this is a good skill for stopping a fight before it starts. And Imperious Command.

    Knowledge- Knowing a little of everything is handier than you’d think, especially w/ the Knowledge Devotion feat. In Randall Wallace’s “Man in the Iron Mask,” Aramis cunningly cures Porthos’ depression and saves his life by tricking him into hanging himself, even as he plans a bloodless revolution and deals with Athos’ own debilitating melancholy (Kn: history, local, nobility/royalty were all handy). Unfortunately for the barn, he is, “… a genius, not an engineer (Kn: architecture/engineering).”

    Ride- Zorro.

    Sleight of Hand- ‘Cause sometimes it pays to be slick. Pocket the jailhouse key, dose a soon-to-be kidnapping victim, insinuate a dagger into the conversation, lift a vital magic item- I mean, magical device …

    Speak Languages- You never know when something will need to be deciphered or concealed, and pulling-off a cool quote in its native language is tres cool.

    Use Magical Device- If you have skill points to spare and your Charisma is, again, pumped instead of dumped, invest here for a swordsman with enough arcane education to be useful. This is a feasible way to diversify. Just remember that diversity can be risky with the Swashbuckler’s limited resources, so plan carefully. For myself, I’d just as soon forgo this skill and buy the spellcasters’ drinks on my tab!

    Weapon Finesse (1): “Hallo! My name is Inigo Montoya! You killed my father! Prepare to die!”

    Grace (2): An all but useless minor bonus, considering that your Dexterity should already be descent, especially if you go the Daring Outlaw route. Useless, that is, you trade it in for innate spell-like abilities.

    Insightful Strike (3):
    Diestro- “Does this Science show us how to kill our foe?”
    Master- “Yes, if he wants to be killed.”

    Ah, yes, the capstone ability for which other players will dip their Oreo ™ cookie characters into the nourishing milk of the Swashbuckler class. Running your opponent through with your intellect is a great ability, if you’re smart enough. This gets even more fun with Knowledge Devotion. That is a feat and skill point intensive approach, to be sure, but put things in perspective; if you want to take that approach, for what else are you going to use them?

    Dodge (5): Minor AC bonus against 1 opponent per round. Stacks with, but doesn’t replace as a requirement, the Dodge feat. Technically. Some GM’s might judge otherwise, making it a more viable ability. If not, well, that’s what ACF’s are for.

    Acrobatic Charge (7): Okay, at this level, it isn’t as sexy as it should be. And, sure, a pscionicist could do this at 1st level, but not with full BAB!
    Improved Flanking (8): Means more with Daring Outlaw, but this tidy little bonus to hit does emphasize teamwork (see the aforementioned Paradoxes).

    Lucky (11): Re-roll a save: good. Once a day at 11th level: not as good as it could be.

    Acrobatic Skill Mastery (13): You may now take 10 on Climb & Jump checks. Items could do this instead, sure, but now you can put that money toward a better rapier.

    Weakening Critical (14): A critical hit, in addition to the usual effects, does 2 pts of Strength damage. Now, that is pretty cool … before level 14. Besides, as has been pointed out so often before, doing critical damage at this level is tricky because of all the immune-to-critical enemies you’ll have. Magic items have been doing this for several levels by now, so this is a +2 to those effects.

    Slippery Mind (17): Way late, but it matters little. If you cherry pick from one or two classes during your ascent to 20th level, you probably won’t get this, anyhow.

    Wounding Critical (19): Same as Weakening Critical, except it does Constitution damage. Again, too little, too late, and probably supplanted by cherry picking.

    So there we have it, the basic structure. Now to riff on with them a bit, with …

    Alternate Class Features

    Arcane Stunt (2, Grace, CM): You may use your choice of spell-like abilities as a swift or immediate action. This is a really descent trade, unless your GM says you have to keep Grace in order to qualify for Daring Outlaw and Daring Warrior. Pick from blur, expeditious retreat, feather fall, jump, and spider climb. Yes, despite the many times you got birched by Maester Murlynd for not paying attention in spellcraft class, it seems that something (besides hickory splinters) stuck!

    Shield of Blades (5, Dodge, PHB II): Attacking with a pair of light weapons nets you a +2 (and higher) bonus to AC. Remember what I said about "bucklers" a while ago? Pair one with a shortsword or broadbladed shortsword and we’re talking classic! A reasonable GM will let this extend to any weapons that can use the Weapon Finesse feat with which you are proficient, because, as written, it only allows for use with light weapons, but even that should give you a nice range of choices. Remember, friend, you are playing the Swashbuckler! Be creative!

    Swift and Deadly (7, Acrobatic Charge, DotU): Another incentive to go the 2-Weapon Fighting route, this time granting you a bonus 5’ step (swift action). You don’t even have to be a dark elf, any more than you have to be English to fight like George Silver, or Spanish to learn Destreza (let the heated, patriotic argument begin)!

    And, just in case it’s not enough (because, number-wise, it probably isn’t) …

    Dead Level Ability

    Seduction (4): Use the Bluff skill to use your charm to learn secrets. This has obvious one-night-stand connotations, but charm needn’t necessarily include that. Watch how Antonio Banderas, after a few easy lessons from Anthony Hopkins, gets into the upper-crust inner circle of Californian dons in The Mask of Zorro. For when you do go the pick-up line route, remember what Cinderella’s prince said in Into the Woods about using Bluff to get what you want: “I was raised to be charming, not sincere.“This is especially good for games that are heavy on intrigue. Such things are usually handled more by role-playing, but having a mechanical back-up is a handy idea.
    Last edited by Suteinu; 2015-02-18 at 04:55 PM.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Dwarf in the Playground

    Join Date
    Mar 2012

    Default Re: Paradoxes of Fighting Defensively: A Swashbucklers' Handbook

    Against All Flags!

    Having decided to play a Swashbuckler, there’s one more big decision to make before all the nitpicking begins: race. The general guide is to maximize Intelligence, Dexterity, and Constitution, although Charisma bonuses are a thing at which one should not sneer. Also, depending on your game and setting, take into consideration nationality (or lack thereof), as the local culture can help define your character’s outlook, enemies, prejudices, preferred weapons, accent, regional feats, etc. That said, here we go …

    Azurin - Essentia-l for a couple of very swashbucklery feats which take other feats and special moves and make you do them better than anyone else. Basically, Humans +. (MoI)

    Anthropomorphic Cat – … in Boots. (Savage Sp)

    Diabolus – One figure springs to mind: Kurt Wagner, the incredible Nightcrawler! A little timely multiclassing between Swashbuckler and Swordsage should do nicely … (DC)

    Lupin – Monstrous humanoids with a reputation, among their more civilized members, as swashbucklers, ever since 2nd Edition. Natives of the Mystra setting, they tend to have French-like names and a talent for hunting lycanthropes. (Drgn #325)

    Dwarf – As noted before with mention of Dougan Redhammer, the dwarvish character need not stretch too far to enjoy the life of a Swashbuckler, and his Constitution bonus will only enhance his ability to out-drink the spy in the tavern. Mobility, you say? Improved Trip and Swift and Deadly, say I! If one cannot trip his opponent with the beard of an axe then I miss my guess. (PHB)

    Elf – The image of the swift, knowledgeable warrior … with a hit to Constitution. Gray elves get a bonus to Int and Dex each, and drow are similar, though with LA and a couple of handy spell-like abilities. Fire elves and snow elves seem to be worthy, but, frankly, they’re all pretty disappointing alongside the elves from Middle Earth and the Hellboy movies. (PHB)

    Gnome – Gnomes are tough but crafty fellows with size bonuses that are handy in a scrap. There are several from which to choose, but the most popular ones among min-maxers seem to appear only when you whisper (Races of Stone)… As a side note, the gnomes of Krynn (DL), the tinker gnomes, get +2 to Dex and Int, -2 to Str & Wis, +2 to Will saves, and may choose their own favored class (if your DM bothers with that). ‘Course, you’ve got to figure out how they got to Grehawk … and what their lifequests are … (PHB)

    Half-elf – Sub-par when compared to elves, let alone humans, unless you dip into Bard. Then you get, from Races of Destiny, a level one substitution level ability called Soothing Voice. In a word, “Diplomancer.” (PHB)

    Half-orc – Stat-wise, he is a typically lousy choice, unless you can slap a good variant on him. As we’ve discovered, though, story can make up for it. Overcoming flaws and obstacles makes for great play (and, thus, possibly more XP) … (PHB)

    Halfling – Dexterity over Strength, size bonuses, bonuses to saves and move-skills, furry feet (?), and a tendency toward attacks that “sting;” these are great ones for adopting the Swashbuckler class. In particular, the Strongheart culture is close to humans in their habit of nurturing personal talent (read: bonus feat). PHB)

    Human – As usual, the human’s bonus skill points and feat are always useful, of course, but humans also tend to be the most plentiful of peoples. This aids in the social aspects of the game, an important aspect for any swashbuckler type. (PHB)

    Kender – Small, fearless, and big-mouthed. I can see having one in the group, maybe, and having one as a Swashbuckler wouldn’t be bad at all, but not all three musketeers. (This coming from a guy who enjoyed playing a kenderish Ranger lost on Athas.) Some folks consider them charming, even … (DL)
    Last edited by Suteinu; 2015-02-20 at 04:18 PM.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Dwarf in the Playground

    Join Date
    Mar 2012

    Default Re: Paradoxes of Fighting Defensively: A Swashbucklers' Handbook

    Feats of Heroism

    Active Shield Defense – Alright, you’ll need Shield Proficiency (PHB), Shield Specialization (PHB II), and this feat, but you’ll be able to ignore the -4 to attacks when making attacks of opportunity while fighting defensively, and be able to make those same attacks with a -4 while using total defense. Similar to Defensive Strike (below), but you don’t have to wait for a swing-and-a-miss by your opponent, so it’s less situational. Use a light steel shield, of course, to be hysterically accurate. Now, if we could just get rid of that silly Shield Specialization prereq … (PHB II)

    Agile Athlete – If you are going to use Climb and Jump a lot, and if there is a discrepancy of +2 or greater between your Strength bonus and your Dexterity bonus, I’d get it. If not, find something else to emphasize your swordplay. ( )

    Ancestral Relic“When the six-fingered man appeared and requested a special sword, my father took the job. He slaved a year before it was done.” (hands over a magnificent rapier)
    “I’ve never seen its equal.”
    (two Swashbucklers before an iconic duel)

    While this doesn’t necessarily have to be a weapon, such a thing is handy, especially since you can customize your weapon as you advance. That helps you to counter some of the damage points you’d lose to non-crittable opponents. More importantly, it’s pretty darned cool to have such an artifact, whether it be a lucky charm, a holy musical instrument, or a blade with no equal. (BoED)

    Circle Student and Circle MasterDodge is a prereq, and 2-4 ranks in a cross-class skill, in exchange for small Att/AC bonus, and an AC penalty vs. other opponents. Flavor is great for a single-sword duelist, especially when combined with Deadly Defense and Einhander (see below), but otherwise you’ll probably pass this by, or give it to an apprentice via the Leadership feat. (DC)

    Cobalt Expertise - Look back at what I said before about the Azurin race. You don't need that race to use this, but it helps if you're going this rout.

    Combat Cloak Expert – Not the best tactical feat, but flashy and cool. Cross-reference with the cloak-fighting information from Dragons 301 & 335 and have fun. This is a particularly attractive for those who like some of the 7th Sea sword styles. (PHBII)

    Combat Expertise – Available because you are good enough, you’re smart enough, and, doggonit, people are trying to kill you! It leads to other handy feats like Improved Trip, Improved Disarm, Improved Feint, and the like. Generally, this feat tree is frowned upon because the abilities offered are also offered by magic items, relieving the burden of spending your precious feats, but some of them are necessary for other feats and prestige classes, and are thus of value, especially if you find yourself doing these things in combat frequently. (PHB)

    Combat Panache – Is your Charisma pumped (clap) up? This is as much for you as is Imperious Command! Good for playing a slick duelist who enjoys showing-off. (PHBII)

    Combat Reflexes - Remember The Princess Bride? Of course, you do, or you wouldn’t be reading this! As the climax of the film approaches, the six fingered man stalls the inevitable by sic-ing four of his lackeys onto our heroes. Inigo Montoya, whose father had been killed, awaits the charge of the attackers and meets them each in turn with an effortless flurry of death.
    That’s Combat Reflexes. (PHB)

    Daring Outlaw – Combine Swashbuckler and Rogue levels for calculating Grace and Sneak Attack bonuses. Theoretically, this can be done with the Assassin’s Stance, though you may then have to keep track from round-to-round as to whether you are in said stance and whether you thusly have access to all the accompanying bonuses. Also, if it’s OK with your DM, Arcane Stunt miiiiiiight replace Grace. That’d be more useful. (CS)

    Daring Warrior – The other option from that above; that is, combining Swashbuckler levels with Fighter levels in order to qualify for specifically Fighter-type feats. The best of these are Weapon Specialization, because it is prerequisite and a +2 to damage, and Melee Weapon Mastery, because it grants an additional +2 for attack and damage. Throw in Weapon Finesse and your Intelligence bonus, and the points are really starting to stack up, even without Knowledge Devotion and Sneak Attack. (CS)

    Deadly Defense – Fighting Defensively nets a +1d6 damage. This is Destreza condensed into a single feat. Also works with Combat Expertise w/ a modifier of at least 2. One of my favorites for one-handed attack feats: tight, neat, easy to use. (CS)

    Deceptive Dodge – Costs two prerequisite feats, Dodge and Combat Expertise, so it’s an unlikely investment for most min-maxers, but if you’ve got these feats as part of your build, this is a very cool option, very musketeerish! One of your opponents misses you, because you’re clever enough to be fighting defensively, and winds up striking his partner instead! Unlike most extra attacks, you take no extra penalties and it doesn’t cost you an Attack of Opportunity. (DC)

    Defensive Strike – Using total defense becomes a good offense! You may attack an opponent with a +4 bonus to hit if they miss you. Also requires Dodge and Combat Expertise. (CW)

    Dodge – Agreed upon to be lame, but prerequisite to things that aren’t and easily replaced by better versions: Desert Wind Dodge (ToB), Expeditious Dodge ( ), and Midnight Dodge (MoI) are the most popular. Of course, a reasonable DM will strongly consider the Swashbuckler’s not-so-special ability of the same name to be equivalent in terms of prerequisites, and perhaps even its likely replacement Shield of Blades. Unfortunately, we must stick to the book, for now. (PHB)

    Einhander – Apparently, there ways to abuse this feat into pumping your AC through the roof. Also, goes well with smallsword-style dueling and those who like pouring and consuming their own drinks during a fight. But the most important application here is in uttering the revelation: “I am not left-handed.” (PHBII)

    Elusive Target – Probably the all-round best tactical feat for light-fighters. Learn to counter Power Attacks (that’s you, Bane), make your opponents Three-Stooges each other, and trip people. And, of course, look good while doing it all! (CW)

    Exotic Weapon Proficiency – Spiked chain, whip (PHB), firearms, manriki gusari (DMG), bolas, crescent knife, dwarvish buckler-axe, elvish thinblade, gnomish tortoise blade (Drgn 275), daishalar, dueling cloak (Drgn 301), broadblade shortsword (CA), elvish courtblade (RotW). Many of these are as theme-based as they are functional. (PHB)

    Imperious Command – All of the Fighter’s feats, all of the Wizard’s spells, all of the Cleric’s faith is for naught if they’re too scared to fight you. (DotU)

    Improved Initiative – Go first. (PHB)

    Improved Unarmed Strike – I like getting this one for my characters, just in case. Couple it with Snap Kick (ToB) to deliver head butts, knee- and elbow-strikes. Look on youtube at practitioners of Western martial arts, and you’ll see how indelicate their fighting can be. Don’t bother studying Olympic sport-fencing footage for this; Ewart Oakshott (RIP) learned early on that the difference between sport and combat fencing is, as Mark Twain observed, the same as the difference between lightning and the lightning-bug.

    Item Familiar – Remember Ancestral Relic? This is even more so. Your connection with the item in question is such that you become a truly exceptional being while it is in your possession, enhancing combat ability and skills to a tremendous degree! It can give assistance, advice, and the occasional, “Heads up!” Lose it, though, and you’re scrambling to get back the (knick-) knack for which you’ve no doubt become famous … (UA)

    Knowledge Devotion – For the swordsman of icy intellect. You also know more than anyone else … because you’re Batman!

    Sorry, got a little excited, there …

    Leadership – Go from being a private musketeer to a captaincy, set up a network of spies, found a school of students who brawl in the streets to prove that your sword style is the best … or go ahead and do as the Barbarian does: summon a horde and get a cute Bard to sing your praises and relieve your stress … (PHB/DMG)

    Leap Attack – Now we’re swinging from the chandelier! ( )

    Martial Study – Botta segretta. This is the “secret thrust” your father taught you before sending you out into the wide world with his old sword, a few coins, and a yellow horse. Dipping into a ToB class is a good way to get a few of these instead of one, but if your build doesn’t allow for that kind of multi-classing, it is a worthy feat to pick up. Just find which one you want and mark when to get it. (ToB)

    Martial Stance – Yes, it is out of alphabetical order. Would you care to step outside over the matter?
    Didn’t think so.
    Most light-fighters seem to prefer the Assassin’s Stance, which gets you +2d6 Sneak Attack damage. This may help you qualify for Daring Outlaw, besides being just plain handy. (ToB)

    Mobility – If you are the kind of flamboyant fighter who is fond of taking chances, then a +4 to AC against attacks of opportunity is something you’ll appreciate. Also, it comes up as a prerequisite for some nice feats and some Prestige Classes. (PHB)

    Power Attack – Or, Ram Your Rapier Into Him to the Hilt! Better with a two-handed weapon like the spiked chain, the dalishalar, etc., and is a prerequisite for Leap Attack. (PHB)

    Throw Anything“Only Porthos could invent a new way of disarming himself!”
    - Aramis, ridiculing Porthos’ quick-draw sword throwing;
    later, Porthos, after using the same technique
    to save Aramis’ life from a distance

    Truebond – Make a bonding ritual count for more, and use locate object to find said item if it’s lost or stolen. This is a good addition to Ancestral Relic or Item Familiar, if your DM says it’s OK to combine them. (DMG II)

    Two-Weapon Fighting – Following the whole tree is cumbersome, but the single feat on which it is based is a solid way to go, especially if you go for the Shield of Blades ACF. There are precious few two-handed, finessable weapons, so attacking with two weapons is a good way to increase your damage output. And don’t underestimate the inherent coolness of using a pair of weapons en concert. Anyone who has practiced sword-and-dagger, sword-and-cloak, or sword-and-buckler can relate the handiness and reliability of such combinations in a fight. (PHB)

    Weapon Finesse – Bonus feat. Revel in it. (PHB)

    Weapon Style Feats – Very flavor oriented. The combat-styles of these drow houses resemble old-fashioned fencing schools with closely guarded secrets and school-vs.-school rivalries. While there are no technical reasons that non-drow and non-House members can’t learn them, there are plenty of story reasons that the only practitioners of each style are of the appropriate backgrounds. They include:

    Inlindl School: Offensive, aggressive sword and shield technique. If the drow call ‘em “Swashbucklers,” this is why.

    Shi’quos School: Learn to use the high-ground while pouncing or flirting-and-darting.

    Steal and Strike: Disarm-and-counter attack technique using rapier and kukri. Oddly, this one has no House name tied to it. It is also one of the more feat-hungry of these forms. Kukri seems a clumsy choice, but hey, drow; what’re ya gonna do?

    Tormtor School: This school fosters mastery of the little-considered javelin. You’ll consider it after facing these buggers.

    Vae School: Masters of trapping and tripping, whips and chains become lethal, almost living things in the hands of the Vae.

    Xaniqos School: Fast-moving crossbowmen. (DotU)

    Well-Read – If you can afford this Greyhawk background feat, this is good to couple with Knowledge Devotion. Dipping into another class, a Paragon class for instance, might be less expensive; it all depends on your vision for your Swashbuckler! (Drgn 315)

    Also ...

    Complete Scoundrel presents us with Skill Tricks, another use for skill points that allow one to, one per encounter, perform a variety of feat-like maneuvers. Some are golden, some are not, but they each allow you to fine-tune your character's talents a bit, put a bit of a curl in his mustache, if you will.
    Last edited by Suteinu; 2015-02-22 at 03:27 PM.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Dwarf in the Playground

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    Default Re: Paradoxes of Fighting Defensively: A Swashbucklers' Handbook

    “The Fault Lies Not in the Stars …”

    Flaws (UA) are magic! You can take up to two of them, netting you two more feats at 1st level! Aces!

    Alright, alright, your Swashbuckler will also have to deal with these flaws numerically as well as story-wise, but I rather enjoy that aspect. It really is similar to the Paladin’s code, mechanically; your hero’s fatal flaws are what make him an interesting figure anyway, so why not get a little edge for playing in character?

    Some noteworthy ones are:

    Inattentive – Don’t leave him on guard duty.

    Meager Fortitude – A sure sign that carousing has left your Swashbuckler somewhat the worse for wear. He doesn’t have the fortitude of real-life swashbucklers, like Jerry Lee Lewis, Kieth Richards, and “Nature Boy” Ric Flair.

    Murky-Eyed – This is another possible side-effect of one’s nightlife.

    Noncombatant – A pretty poor selection for a melee combatant. Obviously, it takes a certain buildvision to employ this flaw. Perhaps he’s working up-hill against a lack of talent, or is simply the laziest blade in his school, his sword master’s worst student.

    Poor Reflexes – The clumsy hero is a mainstay of allies, sidekicks, and heavies. Think Porthos in his most comic representation.

    Shaky – A penalty to ranged combat. Not bad, unless you are a musketeer.

    Unreactive – A penalty to initiative? Be careful!

    Vulnerable - -1 AC for 1 additional feat. Since much of a Swashbuckler’s efforts go toward ramping-up his AC, this seems counter intuitive, but it may be the hallmark of the reckless swordsman.

    Weak Will – Few Swashbucklers can withstand another blow to Willpower. Be careful with this one, but enjoy it if you get it!

    Dragon Magazine offers some great flaws, some general, some class based, some racially based, some to counter one’s own special abilities. Issues 324, 326, 328, 329, and 330 offer options that limit weapon choices, reflect Chivalry, cause one’s reckless temper to get in the way, etc. Most of them are from the Class Acts articles in the back of the issues, but issue 328 offers a whole article on flaws.

    Traits (UA)are similar, and can be used in conjunction with your feats and flaws. Rather than gaining additional feats, though, you get a little bonus here, a little penalty there. These are small bonuses, to be sure, but usually better than spending a feat on Skill Focus.

    Abrasive – Good for intimidation, bad for a general Face-type.

    Absent Minded – For the bookish man of letters. Not bad, though, if you intend to make use of Knowledge Devotion.

    Aggressive – Brash and reckless; he’s the first to dive into a fight, and tends to go in with his guard down.

    Cautious – Just the opposite of being Aggressive. This fellow is excellent when it comes to defense … though he’s unlikely to lead the charge or stand up to the Thing-with-the-Fear-Aura.

    Detached – For the Swashbuckler with staid restraint.

    Dishonest – You’re a liar.

    Distinctive – Your reputation precedes you … no matter what you do.

    Easygoing – The team information broker; just don’t let him get drunk.

    Focused – A good pick if you have any Diamond Mind maneuvers under your belt.

    Hardy – A hard-living, Devil-may-care characteristic.

    Honesty – You’re not a liar.

    Illiterate “This handwriting is abominably indistinct! Here, could you …”
    - a swashbuckler, trying
    to hide his illiteracy

    Inattentive – ADD. Your swashbuckler is good at doing here-and-now tasks, but when it comes to long term … term … hmmm, someone should do a handbook on the Jester class from Dragon Compendium! Wouldn’t that be cool?

    Musclebound“Porthos! Exert yourself!”
    - Aramis, as the Musketteers attempt to
    push La Rochelle onto the heads
    of the rebels hold-up therein

    Passionate – Your lust for life tends to outweigh your good sense.

    Plucky – Conversely, this Swashbuckler is better able to balance the strengths of his body and his mind.

    Polite – Just that. Maybe a little too much for his own good, but if this is the party Diplomancer, not a bad trade.

    Quick - -1 hp per HD for an additional 10’ to your base land speed. With a d10 and an above average Constitution, I’d call it a fair trade, but it depends on your build and intentions.

    Reckless – This is the swordsman who sacrifices precision for a powerful strike. A taste of Power Attack with every melee stroke.

    Relentless – Your apparently boundless energy carries you through most anything, but when you do crash, you crash hard.

    Saddleborn – For the civilized horseman.

    Specialized – Great at one particular skill … one.

    Stout“It’s not my fault, being the biggest and strongest. I don’t even exercise.”
    - a great big fellow from a very
    popular swashbuckler film

    Suspicious – Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean there aren’t after you.

    Torpid – Insightful and methodical, if a bit lazy.
    Last edited by Suteinu; 2015-02-18 at 04:38 PM.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Dwarf in the Playground

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    Default Re: Paradoxes of Fighting Defensively: A Swashbucklers' Handbook

    Broadening Your Horizons

    As discussed before, many folks will dip into Swashbuckler in order to give their character a bit of panache and keen-eyed intellectual danger. Here, we’ll look at how the Swashbuckler can profit by dipping into other classes to refine just what swashbuckler he is. Some of these are good post-1st level dips, some are good as the first level.

    Barbarian: In the first volume of Paradoxes, the Barbarian class is revealed to be a great source of inspiration for the swordsman who is driven by Passion, Rage, Love, or Vengeance! This side-track gives your character access to rage/ ferocity/ whirling frenzy, d12 for HD, pounce, and other worthy techniques which you may add to his repertoire.

    Bard: For the Charisma-pumping sort, and excellent for socially-focused Swashbucklers. Also, as mentioned earlier, a good reason for playing, yes, a half-elf.

    Cleric: This class is a tasty dip for the right kind of character. Two domains, a selection of handy little spells, fuel for Devotion feats, and, with the Cloistered Cleric variant, more skill points. This makes a good foundation for the Knowledge Devotion feat.

    Factotum: Yorrin suggests a worthy three- or eight-level investment in this class, fueled b the Able Learner and Font of Inspiration feats and skills like Iaijutsu Focus. Makes for a real “How did she do that?!” kind of Swashbuckler.

    Fighter: Here we have a selection of bonus feats, ACF’s, and full BAB, as well as access to the Daring Warrior feat, a feat that holds the whole room together like a good rug.

    Marshal: This gets you auras that make your allies value you all the more in a fight (remember, “Teamwork?”), as well as boosting your status as a Diplomancer. Athos likely had a bit of this under his belt.

    Master: This class is from the Dragonlance supplement, War of the Lance. It offers a neat foundation for a common man who takes-up the rapier. There are four variants of this class (built right into the class, no UA necessary), and each has value to certain kinds of swashbucklers. Flavorful and skill-loaded.

    Paladin: I just want to make one quick reference here to Dragon #306. In “Paladins of Greyhawk,” we are introduced to the Firebrands of Murlynd. Musketeers marching into the lands of Iuz.

    Paragon Classes: Especially the Human Paragon, but certainly including each of these little classes. Something about being a paragon of one’s culture seems more than right for the Swashbuckler, and your natural abilities are duly enhanced for your investment.

    Ranger: Urban or wild, this gives the Swashbuckler skills, bonus feats, a Favored Enemy, and an Animal Companion that can, if you’d like, be exchanged for a familiar.

    Rogue: Sneak Attack, Precise Attack, skills, and the Daring Outlaw feat. A three- or four-level investment can, as SPoilaaja points out, nets the Swashbuckler quite a lot for the sacrifice of a mere +1 BAB. Also look at the Rogues’ guide, A Fist Full of d6; there is mentioned a build or two for a swash-burglar.

    Scout: Urbanize the skills, exchange Skirmish for Riposte (Cityscape web enhancement), flavor to taste. Good foundation for a spy, assassin, or saboteur.

    Swordsage: SPoilaaja’s other suggestion is a single level dipped at CL 9 to gain Assassin’s Stance, Daring Outlaw, and a few rather theatrical maneuvers. Too bad the AC bonus is, like the Monk’’s bonus, based on Wisdom.

    Warblade: A warrior class with Intelligence-based abilities, maneuvers and stances, an opening for the Daring Warrior feat, and d12 for hit points. Many claim this is a fine replacement on its own for the Swashbuckler class …
    Last edited by Suteinu; 2015-02-20 at 04:37 PM.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Dwarf in the Playground

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    Default Re: Paradoxes of Fighting Defensively: A Swashbucklers' Handbook

    (eeew ...)

    I. 3.5, Additional Notes
    A. Unearthed Arcana gives us an interesting offer in the form of class level-based AC bonuses. These are particularly useful to characters in a lightly-armored campaign, and even more so if you can talk your DM into using my house rule: have the rate of defense bonus increase based on your BAB, rather than your class’ Armor Proficiency. To my mind, this offers a better representation of how well a trained and dedicated martialist can defend himself.

    B. In the web enhancement of Cityscape, the Scout is given the option of relinquishing his skirmish ability for the more civilized riposte special ability. This would be a flavorful and, I think, fair addition to the Swashbuckler class without overhauling the whole derned class.

    C. Dragon #306: OK, in this issue we’ve got racial variants (deep-varriants get +2 Int, -2 Str, for the Swashbuckler born of generations of enslaved or fugitive stock, serving or evading the drow), my very favorite installment of Zogonia, Paladins of Greyhawk (Murlynd’s paladins, the Firebrands, get to play with things that make you go ‘BOOM’), and traps, traps, traps, but the best part for your Swashbuckler starts on page 44: Action Movie Stunts in D&D! A ready guide for using your environment and … SWINGING FROM CHANDELIERS!!

    D. Other elements, such as Honor, Reputation, and Sanity, can bog the pace down if they are left to the DM, but if the players are in agreement about using them and can keep track of them individually, they are appropriately swashbuckling story-telling enhancements.

    E. Dragon #316: This issue focuses on espionage, a mainstay of the swashbuckling genre. Even if you don’t adopt any of the gear or mechanics prevented, it is a good read and inspirational.

    F. Sorry, I can’t find my documentation for this one; it is from one of my Thanked individuals above:
    “Interesting note on the Barbarian stuff: the Wolf totem grants an ability identical to the Swashbuckler’s Improved Flanking. In theory, that means you could swap out Improved Flanking for Fast Movement, and then Fast movement for Pounce. That could be awesome for certain TWF builds, and had WotC considered that, Swashbuckler may have had a much better reputation.”

    G. Shield Proficiency. Just sayin'. While we're at it, maybe a bonus Exotic WP for light or finessable melee weapons a ranged weapon. You can use this to cover an unusual signature weapon, something sneaky, or firearms (at your setting's own risk, of course).

    II. 3rd Party Publishing

    A reminder: Remember that these must be agreed upon by you, the GM, and your fellow players. Some of these items are 3.0 as well, so take that into consideration.

    A. Green Ronin’s fantastical-historical (historical-pastoral, pastoral-comical, etc; brush-up your Shakespeare) set pirate game, Skull & Bones, offers some great options for the Swashbuckler. Besides classes and feats, it also offers three prestige classes that nicely emulate real-world schools of swordsmanship. The Diestro puts gaming stats to the famed Spanish school of swordsmanship without falling victim to erroneous assumptions that some think are fact, while keeping game-balance. The Master of Fence gives RPG life to traditional English personal combat (as well as stage combat use by gladiators and actors), based on George Silver’s Instructions on the Paradoxes of Defense. The third such class, Master of Scrimia, allows for the crafting of other schools of swordsmanship; it is modular, allowing a player to select a different special ability at each level. Even the name of the class may change with the style selected!

    B. The 7th Sea d20 version, Swashbuckling Adventure, is worthy of note for those trying to build a Swashbuckler. It has its own Swashbuckler class, not much better numbers-wise, but it does give your swordsman an AC bonus equal to his Intelligence or Wisdom bonus. The prestige classes, from 3 to 5 levels, offer d20 versions of Thea’s swordsmen, faithful to the setting’s styles (if not their real-world inspirations). There are also a set of feats focused on Unarmored Defense Proficiency, three of them to match three levels of mastery (mirroring light, medium, and heavy armor proficiencies). Most interesting, though, is the feat called Wicked Strike. This allows, on a damage roll that comes up with its maximum number, the weapon to be treated as though it had the wounding magical device ability. This stacks with the same magical ability if the weapon in question has it. This is also activated if a die from an additional form of damage, say, Sneak Attack, does the same. Thusly the dagger (a 1 out of 4 chance for the initial die of damage) becomes much deadlier, and the 1d3 damage of a light shield (a buckler) turns into a truly telling blow! Of course, there’s the prerequisites: Strength 13 … wait, that’s it? A 13 Strength and one feat slot? Not even a minimum BAB?! You mean to tell me that I can basically start at 1st level with an ability that I’d have to otherwise wait 14 levels for without multi-classing!?!? Well, ain’t THAT a kick in the codpiece …
    Last edited by Suteinu; 2015-02-20 at 04:41 PM.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Dwarf in the Playground

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    Default Re: Paradoxes of Fighting Defensively: A Swashbucklers' Handbook

    A Final Reflection …

    This has been an on-and-off project of two years’ labor for me. It has been accidentally erased twice, researched and re-researched, and fretted over so at times that I nearly chucked the whole thing. Why all the fuss over a tier 5 class from an edition-and-a-half ago? After all, it’s only a game.

    There is a special place in my heart for the swashbuckler tradition, cinematically, literarily, and martially. I am, as I admitted in my Fighters’ Fightbook of Fighting, not the mathemagician that you Giants are, and am thus not truly qualified to instruct others in the fine art of min-maxing, not when compared to the likes of Eldariel, Snowbluff, and the others from whom I have gleaned guidance. My deficiencies, however, have, I think, become my strengths in this project.

    The idea of playing a Swashbuckler is for the fun of it. It’s that simple. The Tier System for Classes states that its ranking system, “… is NOT intended to state which class is ‘best’ or ‘sucks.’ It is only a measure of the power and versatility of classes for balance purposes.” I think we all duly pay lip service to this maxim, at least, and many of us truly believe it, but let’s be honest: it does color our thinking from time to time. All my suggestions are geared toward helping you make a Swashbuckler who is fun to play and reflects your notion of what a swashbuckler should be. Not everybody wants to be a world-breaker. Being able to do more with less is more heroic than going in with all the advantages, and let’s face it: knight or knave, popular or hunted, graceful or graceless, the swashbuckler is all about heroism.

    I don’t expect this document to be added to the Brilliant Gameologist’s index of handbooks (wink) or anything, but I hope it helps other gamers out there who, like me, want better for the Swashbuckler than the careless sneer given it by the Wizards, simply because we’d rather play Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., than Doogie Howser, MD.

    I thank you all for your time, for the resources offered here, for your general support. I also thank you in advance for your further guidance and commentary as this handbook grows with your comments. Hope you all enjoy what I’ve put together.

    “One for all, and all for one!”
    Last edited by Suteinu; 2015-02-18 at 04:47 PM.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Firbolg in the Playground
    danzibr's Avatar

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    Mar 2010
    Back forty.

    Default Re: Paradoxes of Fighting Defensively: A Swashbucklers' Handbook

    Huh, so... it's a guide of how to be a swashbuckler, not a guide for Swashbuckler.

    I love flavor things. That's cool.
    My one and only handbook: My Totemist Handbook
    My one and only homebrew: Book of Flux
    A comment on tiers, by Prime32
    Quote Originally Posted by KillianHawkeye View Post
    As a DM, I deal with character death by cheering and giving a fist pump, or maybe a V-for-victory sign. I would also pat myself on the back, but I can't really reach around like that.
    ゙(゚、 。 7
     l、゙ ~ヽ
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  11. - Top - End - #11
    Ogre in the Playground

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    Default Re: Paradoxes of Fighting Defensively: A Swashbucklers' Handbook

    Here is a previous Swashbuckler Handbook you may want to reference.
    Here is a link to a neat handbook on how to exploit Defensive Fighting/Combat Expertise: A Short Guide to Defensive Fighting

    Here is a build I came up with awhile ago for an Einhander Swashbuckler/Duelist build.

    Human or Strongheart Halfling
    1. Swashbuckler - Deadly Defense (CS), Combat Expertise, B: Weapon Finesse
    2. Cobra Strike (UA) Decisive Strike (PHBII) Monk - B: Dodge
    3. Cobra Strike (UA) Monk - Carmendine Monk (CoV), B: Mobility
    4. Swashbuckler
    5. Swashbuckler
    6. Thief Acrobat - Combat Reflexes
    7. Thief Acrobat
    8. Thief Acrobat
    9. Thief Acrobat - Einhander (PHBII)
    10. Thief Acrobat or Warblade
    11. Warblade or Duelist
    12. Warblade or Duelist - Ironheart Aura (ToB)
    13. Duelist
    14. Duelist
    15. Duelist - Robilar's Gambit (PHBII)
    16. Duelist
    17. Duelist
    18. Duelist - Stormgaurd Warrior (ToB)
    19. Duelist
    20. Duelist

    Levels 10 through 12 can be rearranged depending on your needs. The current setup gives you Improved Evasion and Uncanny Dodge at these levels. However if you don't need Improved Evasion take one less level of Thief Acrobat and move the first level of Warblade to level 10. If you don't need Uncanny Dodge don't take the 2nd level of Warblade and instead go into Duelist a level early. If you don't need either abilities take Warblade at level 10 and enter Duelist at level 11.

    If flaws are available pick up EWP: Broadblade Shortsword (CAdv, pre-errata version if possible) or Versatile Unarmed Strike (PHBII) and Snap Kick (ToB) (may need to rearrange later feats). If traits are available pick up Cautious (UA).

    Vest of Defense (MIC)
    Bracers of Blocking (Dragon 322)
    Broadblade Shortsword (CAdv) (pre-errata version if possible) or Rapier with the Defensive Surge (MIC) enhancement.

    P.S. I fence in the SCA and am currently studying Thibault.

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Dwarf in the Playground

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    Default Re: Paradoxes of Fighting Defensively: A Swashbucklers' Handbook

    P.S. I fence in the SCA and am currently studying Thibault.
    Thanks, gorfnab. Hope you found it an enjoyable read.
    Have you been able to try out that character? I'd be interested to know how it went.

    I train with SCA, too. Light-fighting mostly, and I'm trying out side-sword right now, George Silver (technique, not politics).
    Last edited by Suteinu; 2015-02-18 at 06:25 PM.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Colossus in the Playground
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    Default Re: Paradoxes of Fighting Defensively: A Swashbucklers' Handbook

    No Azurin + Cobalt Expertise? It's a must-have for any cunning duelist.
    Quote Originally Posted by Inevitability View Post
    \ˈgrā-tər \
    comparative adjective
    1. Describing basically the exact same monster but with twice the RHD.
    Quote Originally Posted by Artanis View Post
    I'm going to be honest, "the Welsh became a Great Power and conquered Germany" is almost exactly the opposite of the explanation I was expecting

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Barbarian in the Playground

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    Default Re: Paradoxes of Fighting Defensively: A Swashbucklers' Handbook

    You mentioned psionic dodge in your list of dodge alternatives. Doesn't psionic dodge have normal dodge as a prereq?

  15. - Top - End - #15
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Paradoxes of Fighting Defensively: A Swashbucklers' Handbook

    The feat Deadly Defense can be found in Complete Scoundrel.

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    Default Re: Paradoxes of Fighting Defensively: A Swashbucklers' Handbook

    I need to say that i had several pretty good laughs while reading this and it has made me want to make a Half Orc Swashbuckler, probably with a sprinkling of Hit and Run Sneak Attack Fighter. No lost BaB and i can still take Daring Outlaw, and i can probably swing that Arcane Stunt will qualify. Diving charges off the ceiling anyone?
    Quote Originally Posted by Guigarci View Post
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    My Post Apocalyptic Alternate Timeline setting: Amerhikan Wasteland

    My Historical Stuff channel

  17. - Top - End - #17
    Ettin in the Playground

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    Default Re: Paradoxes of Fighting Defensively: A Swashbucklers' Handbook

    This quite awesome! Reminds me of Complete Scoundrel, but more entertaining likely due to more pop-culture references. (seriously, Ric Flair as a swashbuckler makes sense)

    By the way, Warblades aren't proficient with Heavy Armors and Tower Shields
    Quote Originally Posted by MERC_1 View Post
    I find it very amusing that a very theoretical discussion of how to Optimize Bardic Music, turns into a discussion on how much worms you can eat in 7 minutes.

  18. - Top - End - #18
    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: Paradoxes of Fighting Defensively: A Swashbucklers' Handbook

    Yeah, a Warblade without heavy armour is like an Astronaut without an accordion.

  19. - Top - End - #19
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    Default Re: Paradoxes of Fighting Defensively: A Swashbucklers' Handbook

    Phenomenal job! This would be the perfect type of guidebook to have a metric crap-ton of sample builds.

  20. - Top - End - #20
    Dwarf in the Playground

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    Default Re: Paradoxes of Fighting Defensively: A Swashbucklers' Handbook

    "No Azurin + Cobalt Expertise? It's a must-have for any cunning duelist."

    Thanks for pointing those out. I'm still not very familiar with MoI, so if anything else there needs mention, lemme know.

    "You mentioned psionic dodge in your list of dodge alternatives. Doesn't psionic dodge have normal dodge as a prereq?"

    Yes, it does. Sharp eye!

    "The feat Deadly Defense can be found in Complete Scoundrel."

    Got it. Thanks. "DC" was for Dragon Compendium, but the original source is better. `Least, that's what I was taught waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back when I was in school ...

    "Diving charges off the ceiling anyone?"

    From the balcony!! What-ho, huzzah, and all that rot! All for one, and three for a dollar!

    "(seriously, Ric Flair as a swashbuckler makes sense)"

    Nice to see y'all haven't forgotten your up-bringing! WHOOOOOOOOOO!

    "By the way, Warblades aren't proficient with Heavy Armors and Tower Shields."

    Correct you are, and now I'm correct, too.

    Glad y'all are enjoying this to the point of inspiration. I've also made an addition to the end of appendix I. And I have a theory question: Deadly Defense says "no shield" but doesn't, if I remember correctly, say that your off-hand must be empty. If a second weapon in that hand isn't prohibited, then what about a shield that is being used for attack rather than as a shield? That situation usually forces you to relinquish the shield bonus you'd usually get, so ...

    What do you think?

  21. - Top - End - #21
    Dwarf in the Playground

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    Default Re: Paradoxes of Fighting Defensively: A Swashbucklers' Handbook

    Elven Courtblade is a two-handed sword, damage equivalent to Greatsword, 18-20 crit range, and can be used with Weapon Finesse similar to a rapier. It's from Races of the Wild. It means that you can use Power Attack effectively in a dex build. This is an excellent choice for Swashbucklers.

  22. - Top - End - #22
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Paradoxes of Fighting Defensively: A Swashbucklers' Handbook

    You can actually wield a rapier with both hands to gain two points of bonus damage for each point of penalty you take with Power Attack. You just wouldn't gain the 1-1/2 Strength bonus modifier to damage.

  23. - Top - End - #23
    Dwarf in the Playground

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    Default Re: Paradoxes of Fighting Defensively: A Swashbucklers' Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by DeltaEmil View Post
    You can actually wield a rapier with both hands to gain two points of bonus damage for each point of penalty you take with Power Attack. You just wouldn't gain the 1-1/2 Strength bonus modifier to damage.
    That's also true, although you miss out on crit fishing (which includes Insightful Strike damage) and larger damage die at 0 cost if you're playing an Elf. But the point is that Power Attack can be a viable source of damage output for a dex build just as easily as for a str build, and I think that should be included in the handbook.

  24. - Top - End - #24
    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: Paradoxes of Fighting Defensively: A Swashbucklers' Handbook

    Out of interest, if you want to express reservations about the "Warblade can be a better swashbuckler than the actual Swashbuckler theory"; then you should probably mention the Warblade's lack of archetypical skills like Bluff and Sense Motive.

    They can pick up Sense Motive via the Martial Study (Setting Sun) feat, but ToB classes aren't great Bluffers.

  25. - Top - End - #25
    Ogre in the Playground

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    Default Re: Paradoxes of Fighting Defensively: A Swashbucklers' Handbook

    Many of the skill tricks (CS) are made for a swashbuckler, whether with a capital S or not.

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