Martial Cognoscente (3.5e Prestige Class)

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Martial Cognoscente[edit]

The Martial Cognoscente is a mentally focused warrior who's mind is in tune with the battle around him/her and makes calculated tactical decisions to control the field. The hightened focus needed to master the cognoscente's art comes from years of experience with a variety of fighting styles and thus almost all members of this class start their career as fighters.

Abilities: Intelligence is important for Martial Cognoscenti as many of their special abilities are based off of this ability. As front-line fighters, both strength and constitution are important. To meet the entry requirements, a Martial Cognoscente will need at least 13 dexterity.

Background: Most martial cognoscenti have had extensive experience in both rank-and-file soldiering and tactical study. Soldiers, especially enlisted commanders and lower-ranking officers, make up the majority of Martial Cognoscenti. Educated nobles with an inclination for martial studies are often good candidates.

Alignment: A significant level of physical and mental discipline is required to become a Cognoscente and the class is usually unsuitable for those of chaotic alignment. Like for fighters, there is no particular inherent inclination toward good or evil among those of this class.


To qualify to become a martial cognoscente, a character must fulfill all of the following criteria.

  • Base Attack: +5
  • Skills: Concentration 4 ranks, Knowledge (any 2) 4 ranks (One of these knowledge requirements can be substituted by 4 ranks in Martial Lore if Tome of Battle is being used)
  • Feats: Combat Expertise, Quick Draw, Dodge, Combat Reflexes
  • Alignment: Any non-chaotic

Table: The Martial Cognoscente
Hit Die: d8
Level Base
Attack Bonus
1st +1 +0 +0 +2 Calculating Opportunist, Vigilant Stance
2nd +2 +0 +0 +3 Bonus Feat
3rd +3 +1 +1 +3 Rational Mind, Canny Resilience
4th +4 +1 +1 +4 Brace for Action
5th +5 +1 +1 +4 Quick Sheath, Canny Opposition
6th +6 +2 +2 +5 Bonus Feat
7th +7 +2 +2 +5 Urgent Adjustment
8th +8 +2 +2 +6 Level Playing Field
9th +9 +3 +3 +6 Urgent Expertise
10th +10 +3 +3 +7 Bonus Feat, Greater Combat Expertise

Class Skills (4 + Int modifier per level)
Balance, Climb, Concentration Craft, Jump, Intimidate, Knowledge (all skills, taken individually), Profession, Sense Motive, Spot, Swim, Tumble.

Class Features:[edit]

All of the following are Class Features of the Martial Cognoscente prestige class.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Martial cognoscenti gain proficiency with Nets and Bolas.

Calculating Opportunist(Ex): A martial cognoscente will analyze the field and the positioning of his or her enemies in an attempt to better exploit any lapse in his or her foes defenses. At 1st level, a martial cognoscente may use his/her intelligence modifier in place of his/her dexterity modifier to determine how many bonus attacks of opportunity he/she receives from the combat reflexes feat.

Vigilant Stance(Ex): By keeping note of every movement their enemies make, martial cognoscenti confound attempts to avoid an opportunistic strike. Whenever an opponent attempts to use the tumble skill to move through squares threatened by a martial cognoscente without provoking attacks of opportunity or attempts to cast defensively, the cognoscente may choose to make a concentration check. If this check exceeds 15 then the difficulty class of the tumble check or concentration check to cast defensively is increased by the concentration check - 15.

Bonus Feat: At 2nd, 6th, and 10th level, the martial cognoscente selects a bonus feat from the fighter bonus feat list.

Rational Mind(Ex): Cognoscenti often develop mnemonics to help focus their mind to the task at hand. A martial cognoscente of 3rd level or higher adds his/her intelligence bonus to all concentration checks he/she makes.

Canny resilience(Ex): The discipline of their training allows martial cognoscenti to hedge out distractions and temptations, evade danger and even endure physical hardship to a limited extent. A martial cognoscente of 3rd level or higher adds a +1 bonus on all saving throws for every two levels of Martial Cognoscente up to his/her intelligence modifier.

Brace for Action(Ex): When Rolling initiative, a martial cognoscente of 4th level or higher may roll a concentration check in addition to initiative. The cognoscente may use this roll as his/her initiative to determine whether or not he/she is flat-footed. In addition, if caught flat-footed in a surprise round, the martial cognoscente may elect to roll an opposed initiative check against the opponent that is attacking him/her, using his/her normal initiative modifier only. If the cognoscente wins this check he/she is not considered flat-footed.

Quick Sheath(Ex): A martial cognoscente of 5th level or higher may sheath a weapon as a free action once per round. This action does not provoke an attack of opportunity.

Canny Opposition(Ex): The potential for cunning tricks on the field is never greater then when performing unorthodox and sometimes unexpected maneuvers. A martial cognoscente of 5th level adds his/her intelligence modifier to all trip, disarm, grapple, bull rush, overrun, and sunder checks.

Urgent Adjustment(Ex): As cognoscenti advance, the advantage of being able to improvise tactical repositioning becomes more and more obvious. A martial cognoscente of 7th level or higher may make a concentration check as an immediate action vs. DC 25. If successful, he/she may move as if taking a move action. During the martial cognoscente's next turn, he/she may take only a partial action (standard OR move action) regardless of the success or failure of the concentration check.

Level Playing Field(Ex): By studying his or her opponent a cognoscente can counter the advantages of a greater size. There are weaknesses in almost any physiology that may be exploited by those with the right vantage point. When attempting an opposed combat maneuver where a size bonus is given for being larger than medium (such as trip or bull rush), against an opponent one or more size categories larger that him/her, a martial cognoscente of 8th Level or higher may make a knowledge check of a type appropriate to the type of opponent he/she is facing (arcana for a dragon, local for a humanoid, etc.). If he/she beats a DC of 25, he/she is treated as one size category larger for the purpose of determining an appropriate size modifier to the check, plus one additional size category for every 10 points higher the check result is over 25. If this ability would cause the martial cognoscente to have a higher size modifier to this check than his/her opponent, it only raises that modifier to be equal to his/her opponent's. This ability cannot be used against oozes, basic elementals and any other creature with a amorphous or indeterminate form.

Urgent Expertise(Ex): A martial cognoscente of 9th level or higher may use an immediate action to transfer an amount of attack bonus to AC via the Combat Expertise and Improved Combat Expertise feats, even when he/she is not attacking. The Bonus lasts until the start of his/her next action, but the penalty does not end until the end of that action. During that next action, the martial cognoscente must take a standard or full-round attack or take only a move action.

Greater Combat Expertise(Ex): When using Combat Expertise or Improved Combat Expertise to transfer attack bonus to AC, a martial cognoscente of 10th level may take a penalty up to his/her intelligence modifier and gain twice that number as a bonus to AC. This number can not grant more than +6 AC if the martial cognoscente does not have Improved Combat Expertise, nor can it grant a bonus to AC greater than the character's Base Attack Bonus. A character may attempt to gain more AC than the limit determined by his/her intelligence bonus, but any further use of Combat Expertise uses the standard one to one ratio and the standard limit of 5 or base attack bonus applies to the total AC bonus, rather than the Attack penalty.

Example NPC[edit]

Grarosak Aaronson

CR 11

Male Human Fighter 2/Knight 3/Martial Cognoscente 6
LN Medium humanoid (human)
Init/Senses +1 (+21)/Listen -1, Spot +10
Languages Common, Dwarven, Goblin, Orcish
AC 23, touch 12, flat-footed 22; Dodge
(+1 Dex, +10 armor, +1 deflection +1 natural)
hp 84 (11 HD)
Fort/Ref/Will +13/+9/+18
Speed 20 ft. (4 squares) (heavy armor)
Melee +1 Guisarme +15/+10/+5 (2d4+5/×3), reach, trip +12 or
Melee +1 Heavy Flail +15/+10/+5 (1d10+5/×3), trip +12, disarm (attack +7)
Ranged +1 Composite Longbow +14/+9/+4 (1d8+4/×3), 110' range increment
Base Atk/Grp +11/+19
Special Actions Knight's challenge 1/day (Fighting Challenge +1), Brace for Action, Quick Sheath, Canny Opposition
Abilities Str 16, Dex 13, Con 15, Int 20, Wis 8, Cha 10
SQ Knight's code, Shield Block+1, Bulwark of Defense, Calculating Opportunist, Vigilant Stance, Rational Mind, Canny Resilience (+3), Skill trick: Collector of Stories
Feats Keen Intellect, combat reflexes, combat expertise, quick draw, dodge, mounted combat, improved combat expertise, knowledge devotion, close-quarters fighting, improved trip
Skills Balance +3, concentration +21, Jump +5, Knowledge (arcana +12, Architecture and engineering +6, Dungeoneering +12, Geography +6, History +9, Local +13, Nature +12, Nobility and royalty +9, Religion +12, The Planes +12), Sense Motive +10, Spot +10, Tumble +3
Possessions +1 Composite Longbow with 50 masterwork arrows, +1 Guisarme, +1 Heavy Flail, +2 Full plate, +1 Ring of Protection, +1 Amulet of Natural Armor, +2 Gauntlets of Ogre Might, +2 Vest of Health, +2 headband of Intellect, +2 Cloak of Resistance

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