Swaggering Blade (3.5e Prestige Class)

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The swaggering blade is the epitome of the romantic swashbuckler; a boastful and dashing swordsman that relies on his agility, charm, and wits rather than heavy armor, shields and clumsy weapons. The swaggering blade is particularly suited to environments where armor would be a liability, such as in deserts, tropical locales, and the high seas. They are also becoming more and more prevalent in advanced societies, where gunpowder or magic has made the wearing of armor all but useless, or any setting where one's skill with a blade is the physical embodiment of their social prowess.

Design Note: This prestige class was inspired the Braavosi water dancers of A Song of Fire and Ice and the pirates of The Princess Bride. I was always frustrated by how lackluster the other options for swashbuckler-types were in the game, particularly the embarrassing Duelist class. So, with the target of making this class on par with a Ranger in overall power, I set out to create a balanced but interesting take on the concept. In a nutshell, it's intended to be an expansion of the Daring Outlaw feat, combining aspects of the Rogue and Swashbuckler base classes. Their poor hit points and lack of armor make them vulnerable in combat, but they make up for it with style and panache. I hope you find it fun.

Becoming a Swaggering Blade[edit]

Entry Requirements
BAB: +4
Skills: Balance 8 ranks, Bluff 8 ranks, Perform (Dance) 5 ranks, Tumble 8 ranks.
Feats: Combat Reflexes, Weapon Finesse
Special: Sneak Attack +2d6

Table: The Swaggering Blade

Hit Die: d8

Level Base
Attack Bonus
Saving Throws AC
Fort Ref Will
1st +1 +2 +2 +0 0 Daring Bravo, Flourish Blade, Goad Opponent
2nd +2 +3 +3 +0 0 Dancing Blade, Sidestep
3rd +3 +3 +3 +1 0 Combat Style
4th +4 +4 +4 +1 0 Deft Strike
5th +5 +4 +4 +1 1 Skill Mastery (Acrobatics)
6th +6/+1 +5 +5 +2 1 Combat Style
7th +7/+2 +5 +5 +2 1
8th +8/+3 +6 +6 +2 1 Swagger and Stride
9th +9/+4 +6 +6 +3 1 Combat Style
10th +10/+5 +7 +7 +3 2 Larger Than Life, Masterful Riposte, Twin Style

Class Skills (6 + Int modifier per level)
Balance (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Gather Information (Cha),
Hide (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge (Local) (Int), Knowledge (Nobility and Royalty) (Int), Listen (Wis), (Int), Move
Silently (Dex), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Search (Int), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Speak
Language (Int), Spot (Wis), Swim (Str), Tumble (Dex), and Use Rope (Dex)

Class Features[edit]

Weapon and Armor Proficiencies: You are proficient with the following weapons: dagger, foot spike, gauntlet, kukri, lightblade, punching dagger, quickrazor, rapier, spiked gauntlet, swordcatcher, thinblade, and any other finessable one-handed blade. You do not gain proficiency with any type of armor or shield.

Daring Bravo: If you have the Daring Outlaw feat, your class levels stack with rogue and swashbuckler levels for the purposes of that feat and uncanny dodge progression.

Flourish Blade (Ex): As a swaggering blade, you have learned to fight with panache. You take advantage of how others consider your swirling, flamboyant style as cheap theatrics, using that foolish belief to divert attention from the lesson they're about to learn. Beginning at 1st level, you gain a circumstance bonus equal to your Dexterity modifier when making Bluff checks to feint. At 3rd level, you gain the ability to feint as a move action. At 6th, you improve further still and may feint as a swift action. And by 9th level, you have mastered the technique and may feint as an interrupt action against a melee attacker once per encounter. As with most of your class abilities, you only gain these benefits when you are unarmored and not using a shield.

Goad Opponent (Ex): As a move action, you may goad an opponent that has line of sight to you and has an Intelligence of 3 or higher. When the goaded opponent starts its next turn, it must make a Will saving throw (DC 10 + ½ your character level + your Cha modifier; this is considered a mind-affecting effect). If the opponent fails its save, you are the only creature it can make attacks against during this turn.

Dancing Blade (Ex): At 2nd level, your dazzling spins and twists while engaging in swordplay allow you to add your Charisma modifier to AC, plus the listed AC bonus in the table above. This bonus applies even against touch attacks or when you are caught flat-footed.

At 5th level, you may add your Charisma modifier to Balance checks, Tumble checks, and Reflex saving throws, and you may add your Dexterity modifer to Perform (Dance) checks, reflecting how you are now the very personification of poetry in motion.

Finally, at 8th level, your deceiving bobs and weaves allow you bypass some of your enemy's defenses, adding your Charisma modifier to damage rolls in addition to your Strength modifier, and you gain the Improved Disarm feat as a bonus feat even if you do not meet the prerequisites. If you already possess Improved Disarm or select it at a later date, you instead gain a +2 competence bonus when initiating a disarm check.

All of these abilities are only retained while you are unarmored and not using a shield.

Sidestep (Ex): You can avoid danger with great agility. If you make a successful Reflex saving throw against an attack that normally deals half damage on a save, you instead take no damage. You may use this ability only if you are unarmored and not using a shield. If you are helpless, you likewise do not gain the benefit of sidestepping.

If you already possess a similar ability from a different source, such as a rogue's Evasion or a divine oracle's Prescient Sense ability, you take only half damage even on a failed Reflex save, as long as you meet the prerequisites for both abilities.

Combat Style: At 3rd level, choose a specific style of swordsmanship that you will focus on as a swaggering blade. You gain a bonus feat associated with that style even if you do not normally qualify for it. At 6th and again at 9th level, you gain the follow-up feats as listed below.

Avalanche Style: You enjoy toying with your opponents, drawing out a duel so as to give you more time to shine, only to move in for the kill at the last minute. Combat Expertise (3rd), Improved Combat Expertise (6th), and Karmic Strike (9th).
Crescent Moon Style: You are skilled in the art of fighting with two weapons. Two-Weapon Fighting (3rd), Improved Two-Weapon Fighting (6th), and Greater Two-Weapon Fighting (9th).
Dervish Style: You are a spinning, whirling dancer of death. Cleave (3rd), Great Cleave (6th), and Whirlwind Attack (9th).
Jester Style: While most swaggering blades are quick on their feet, you take it to a whole new level. Dodge (3rd), Mobility (6th), and Spring Attack (9th).
Rakshasa Style: You have had many encounters with willworkers and know how to slip past many of their tricks of the trade. Blind-Fight (3rd), Mage Slayer (6th), and Pierce Magical Concealment (9th).
Serpent Style: Your attacks are as deadly as they are precise. Shadow Blade (3rd), and Improved Critical (6th), and Master of Poisons (9th).

Deft Strike (Ex): As a standard action, you can attempt to find a weak point in a visible target’s armor. This requires a Spot check against a DC equal to your target’s Armor Class. If you succeed, your next attack against that target (which must be made no later than your next turn) ignores the target’s armor bonus and natural armor bonus to AC (including any enhancement bonuses to armor or natural armor). Other AC bonuses still apply normally

Skill Mastery: You are so coordinated in your moves that you may take 10 when making Balance, Climb, Escape Artist, Jump, and Tumble checks even in stressful situations, but only if you are unarmored and not using a shield.

Swagger and Stride (Ex): If you move at least ten feet during a round, you may inflict precision damage in melee combat as if your opponent(s) were flat-footed and flanked. You gain no other benefits derived from those conditions, however, unless they are actually flat-footed and/or flanked.

In addition, when performing a five-foot step you may choose to instead move up to one-half your base land speed upon making a successful Tumble check. The DC for this check is increased by 5 over the normal DC for maneuvering in battle (for a DC of 20, or 30 if attempting to move through an occupied square). You do not provoke an attack of opportunity while moving in this manner. Failure indicates that you have not moved and are prone until the start of your next turn. You may only attempt this maneuver when you are unarmored and not using a shield.

Larger Than Life (Ex): You are treated as if you were one size category larger and wielding a two-handed weapon when initiating or defending against combat maneuvers such as disarm and trip. What's more, when wielding a weapon that benefits from the Weapon Finesse feat, you gain a +10 circumstance bonus to avoid being disarmed.

Masterful Riposte (Ex): At 10th level, you are a lethal combatant with few equals; you find yourself in very few situations that you cannot turn to your advantage. Once per round whenever someone attacks you and misses, you gain an attack of opportunity against your would-be attacker. Furthermore, the attacker does not gain their Dexterity bonus to AC against your attack, and you may opt to perform a disarm attack in lieu of a standard attack of opportunity. This ability is only available when you are unarmored and not using a shield.

Twin Style: Select a second style of swordplay from the combat style list above. You gain the associated feats for that style.

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