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View Full Version : [3.5] The Swashbuckler: a Rogue Archetype. Yes, it's not a retooled class...



T.G. Oskar
2012-01-18, 05:33 PM
Lords and dames, children of ages all!! Beings of unknown lineage and unfathomable understanding are welcome as well!!

As you may already know, I'm fond of taking a few classes that are usually below Tier 3 (and sometimes even at Tier 3) and boosting them off a bit. Eventually, my plan is to cover all of them and boosting them off around Tier 3, and to your satisfaction, most of them are already done!

Note the important point: most of them. You see, some classes, such as the Samurai, had a decent way to be fixed, what with adding ki and using combat styles to work that out. Whether it is a successful and satisfactory fix depends mostly on you, but I like to revise my work every now and then. For example, the Monk: I did that as my first retooling, and then I had to work it once again and from scratch to satisfy my urge of a properly made class.

Others, though...are, to my dismay, pretty much unfix-able. No matter how I tackle them, I find that it's particularly difficult to work with them unless I cheat, or unless I make a build out of them. Ironically, one of the Big Four, the Fighter, is one of them. So, right now, I'm telling ya: there's no chance I'll retool a Fighter, because attempting to do so is beyond my capabilities. I mean, I worked the Paladin and the Monk to subsist on their own despite the awesome Crusader and the silly unarmed variant of the Swordsage (I mean, why limit yourself to fists when you can fight with other weapons and just get IUS and SUS to duplicate the same effect, except with the other weapons around?), but I really can't make a proper Fighter without addressing what the Warblade did, which is nearly unparalleled. I believe I've mentioned this, in that the Paladin's archetype as a Divine Champion merits its existence at least as a PrC or even as a base class (and the idea of the base class is right there in Project Heretica, not to mention its PrC incarnation and even a Paladin-lite version) and the Monk could exist as an archetype distinctive from the more fame-hogging Wu-xia warrior that the Swordsage evokes.

Which leads, of course, to the Swashbuckler. I've seen pretty good attempts (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=174613), but when I compare them to the Rogue, it makes a bit more sense to diversify the Rogue a bit and make it part of the package. A "kit", for all the 2e veterans out there, or an "archetype" for those whom have switched to Pathfinder. Reason is, stuff like Daring Outlaw makes the Swashbuckler all the better, with the few things the Rogue could possibly grant given at 1st level, and what you want from the Swashbuckler (full BAB, Int to damage, better crits) blending pretty well with the Rogue.

However, my perception of "kit/archetype" is pretty different. Or maybe, not that much. Ideally, the "archetype" should be something that couldn't exist on its own as a class (a build-based class, much like what the CW Samurai IS, or even what the core Monk IS), AND that works better as something that alters an existing class because of the haunting similarities (same thing with Psychic Warrior and Soulknife, Warblade with Fighter, or Ranger with Scout), even if alterations to chassis and abilities have to be done. In essence, it works as Unearthed Arcana's variant character classes (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/classes/variantCharacterClasses.htm) to a fault, but with some of the liberties taken from Alternate Class Features (as per the Player's Handbook II) and the racial substitution levels (of the Races of X books). If a class exists as a mechanical construct with a chassis, the "archetype" as presented here exists as a heavily modded mechanical construct, akin to having a limo made out of a Hummer (uses most of the same stuff, but it's so heavily modded it works for something else entirely).

As a demonstration of my work, and since it's one of the few things that I have on various places but most importantly on Google Docs (which doesn't require anything else from my computer other than the Clipboard), I present to you...


ROGUE (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/classes/rogue.htm) VARIANT: SWASHBUCKLER
http://i237.photobucket.com/albums/ff312/Osky-kun/Tiefling_Swashbuckler_by_D_MAC.jpg

Tiefling Swashbuckler, by D-MAC. Original art here (http://d-mac.deviantart.com/art/Tiefling-Swashbuckler-108459406).

"Daredevil? I guess that comes with the heritage, my dear..."

The rogue is an individual with a gifted tongue, impressive infiltration abilities and a variety of talents. However, some rogues seek to enhance their fighting skills at the expense of their width of expertise in various areas, and their talent at exploiting flaws in defenses.

Hit Dice: Increase to d8
Base Attack Bonus: The swashbuckler uses the good base attack bonus progression (+1 BAB per class level)
Class Skills: Reduce skill points to 4 + Intelligence modifier (with 4 times that amount at 1st level). Remove Appraise, Decipher Script, Disable Device, Forgery and Use Magic Device.

As you can see, since we're using the Rogue chassis, there's no need for a pretty table. The switch should be easy: you use d8s for your Hit Dice, get 1 point of BAB per level, but you cut your skill points by half. Fortitude, Reflex and Will remain the same.

Of course, if you need to see the chassis, why not click on the link above?

Class Features
The following features replace those of the rogue class.
Weapon Proficiency: The swashbuckler gains proficiency with martial weapon alongside all weapons that the rogue can use. They also gain proficiency with whips.

Not so different from the CW Swashbuckler. While it may strike a bit odd (use of maces, axes, and even polearms?), part of being a martial character is the ability to use all martial weapons, and let's be honest, while not the proper archetype of the dashing dastard, there were schools of spear fencing, which taught how to fight with spears with the parrying and the thrusting, not unlike sword fencing.

Whips, of course, are added in case you wanna play Zorro.

One more thing: if you want to add a bit more flavor, if your campaing approves of firearms, allow the Swashbucklers to be proficient with them. At least with pistols and muskets. You know, if you wanna play a musketeer...

Weapon Finesse: A swashbuckler gains Weapon Finesse as a bonus feat at 1st level. He treats the longsword and the scimitar as weapons that can be used with this feat. (Replaces trapfinding (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/classes/rogue.htm#trapfinding))

The nifty thing about the hypertext version of the d20 SRD is that you can explicitly mark what you actually replace. In this case, since a swashbuckler is less of a jack of all trades and more of a finesse warrior, trapfinding (and hence Disable Device) is out of the question. They keep Open Lock since a swift jab with a rapier could often open locks (or even a shot from a gun, if you manage to give them one), but they aren't trap defusers.

On the other hand, you know for a fact that the Rogue SHOULD have had Weapon Finesse as a bonus feat at 1st level, if only because you have to wait three levels before using your Dex to attack rolls. Since most late Medieval/early Renaissance longswords (which aren't really longswords, because of the inconsistent terminology, but rather what D&D considers a longsword which is a simple sword right between the shortsword and the bastard/hand-and-a-half sword) were capable of both cutting and thrusting well, they are open to finesse, so they're added. Since the scimitar is the predecessor of the cavalry saber and thus many of the light curved blades, the scimitar is added too. Then again, the cavalry saber is closer to the falchion which was somewhat like the bastard sword in handling...

Alright, alright, I'll stop being a sword buff. Happy?

Precise Strike (Ex): At 1st level, a swashbuckler is capable of delivering attacks that deal considerable damage whenever he fights with flair. When fighting with a light weapon, or a weapon that can be used with the Weapon Finesse feat, and nothing on the other hand, a swashbuckler deals 1d8 points of damage with each attack. At 5th level, and every four levels afterwards the swashbuckler deals an extra 1d8 points of damage.

A swashbuckler may use this ability with a light weapon in each hand, but only when the enemy is flanked, flat-footed or otherwise denied their Dexterity modifier. Targets immune to critical hits or sneak attacks are immune to the swashbuckler's precise strike. A swashbuckler cannot use this ability when wearing medium or heavy armor or when carrying a medium or heavy load. (Replaces sneak attack (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/classes/rogue.htm#sneakAttack); counts as sneak attack for purposes of qualifying for feats, prestige classes and magic items, as well as for abilities that modify it.)

Quite the odd exchange, but a swashbuckler is excellent on one-handed combat (and nothing in the other hand), so Precise Strike exists to improve that fighting style. You get exactly half of what you would have gained via sneak attack, but with a twist; so as long as you fight with only one weapon (and no held item in the other hand), you always deal the damage. While it has the same troubles as sneak attack in regards to creatures immune to them (unless the swashbuckler has access to an ability that allows sneak attacking these creatures), the fact that you can make a full attack and deliver reliably more damage than a rogue with less effort is quite balancing.

However, going TWF with a swashbuckler (as it happened in their time, or else we wouldn't have the "Florentine" style of fencing) also allows this ability, but here you rely on wits and deceit.

The damage ratio is a compromise in order to make Precise Strike useful, but at the same time weaker, than Sneak Attack. If I retained the 1d6 damage dice, the exchange would have been pathetic, if only because you'd cut the damage essentially in half per every hit. 1d8 allows an extra point of damage on average per die, but since your dice are cut in half, you roughly lose a 25% of your total damage with SA instead of 50%. Note, however, that you can get extra hits and land them better with your improved BAB, and Insightful Strike comes a moment later to balance that huge loss in damage (again, on average).

As you'll see, Precise Strike is not the only thing that replaces those lost levels of sneak attack: every level you lack a sneak attack damage dice, you get actual class abilities, which are meant to make it up for the loss in raw damage.

Canny Defense (Ex): At 3rd level, whenever a swashbuckler is wearing light or no armor and wields a light weapon (or a weapon that can be used with the Weapon Finesse feat) in one hand (and nothing in the other), he adds his Intelligence modifier as a bonus to his Armor Class. A swashbuckler may use this ability while wearing two light weapons in each hand if he has the Two-Weapon Defense feat.

And here is one of the stuff I mentioned. Int to AC is a classic swashbuckler class ability, one that's inconspicuously missing from the actual swashbuckler class. The Duelist, on the other hand, has it, as well as the Invisible Blade and a few other such classes. The Rogue will have, in essence, one or two extra points of damage on average, but you'll have better defense than the base class (and make Int pretty important right from the get-go).

Again, to make it harder for TWF Swashbucklers to take advantage of class features meant to reinforce the one-handed warrior stereotype, you need a feat that's rarely taken in order to take advantage of this feature. Two-Weapon Defense makes a lot of sense, since that means you're going into proper Florentine fencing, which is quite defensive in nature (using your other hand to protect yourself from blows), whereas going TWF alone makes it geared towards offensive.

Insightful Strike (Ex): At 7th level, when a swashbuckler fights with a light weapon (or weapon that can be used with Weapon Finesse) in one hand (and nothing in the other), he may add his Intelligence modifier to his damage rolls.

Perhaps the best ability of the CW Swashbuckler, Insightful Strike helps to balance the loss of damage you get from the switch from Sneak Attack to Precise Strike. With Int to AC and damage aside from skill points, and as an addition rather than a replacement, the Swashbuckler relies a lot more on Intelligence than the typical Rogue.

Unlike Precise Strike and Canny Defense, you'll notice that this ability only applies to one-handed fencers. TWF Swashbucklers are pretty well geared towards offensive, so adding even more damage to them would seem a bit insulting.

Lucky (Ex): At 11th level, once per day a swashbuckler may reroll a failed attack roll, saving throw, skill check or ability check. The swashbuckler must take the result of the reroll, even if it's worse than the original roll. The swashbuckler gains an extra use of this ability at 14th level and every three levels afterwards.

I'll make a short story out of this.

Can you believe that, if I were to play Star Wars: Core Roleplaying Edition (the version published by WotC before switching to SW Saga), I would rather play a Scoundrel than a Jedi? I profess myself of being a fan of Paladins, but there was only ONE ability that made me choose a Scoundrel over the more Paladin-like flavors of Jedi.

That, of course, was the Lucky ability. It was once per day, sure, but you could rely on pure luck to save your sorry skin. The best part, though, was that you gained this ability pretty early, and as you progressed, you gained more uses out of it.

Thus, when I saw it on the Swashbuckler, I knew I had to transport it into this archetype. However, I decided to be a bit more generous, and give extra uses per day. You end up with 4 uses of it, starting from 11th level, but with luck rerolls you could exploit these daily uses into something else.

Now, note how they are organized.

Precise Strike grants damage dice at 1st, 5th, 9th, 13th and 17th level. Thus, that leaves 3rd, 7th, 11th, 15th and 19th level without class features. Of these, 3rd level is covered with Canny Defense, 7th level is covered with Insightful Strike, 15th level progresses Trap Sense (which the Swashbuckler retains), and 19th level is covered with a special ability. Hence, a Swashbuckler has only 11th, 14th and 20th level as dead levels.

By going into a 1 use/3 levels progression starting from the first dead level, I could in essence cover the last three dead levels of the Rogue with a special ability, thus making the Rogue have no dead levels whatsoever! Well...in the classical sense.

As you can see, 15th level and 20th level still have a "dead" level, in that what they only get is a progression of an earlier ability. An extra luck reroll is a pretty strong ability, so 20th is quite "heavy" in terms of class abilities, but 15th level's progression of Trap Sense may seem a bit lackluster (likewise 12th and 18th level). So, the Swashbuckler still has weak levels, but it has no properly dead levels in any sense of the word (levels where you gain nothing whatsoever).

New Rogue Special Abilities (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/classes/rogue.htm#specialAbilities)
The following abilities are added to the rogue's special ability list.
Critical Finesse: When using a light weapon (or a weapon that uses the Weapon Finesse feat), the critical threat range increases by 1. This increase in critical threat applies after abilities that increase critical threat ranges are applied (thus, a weapon that has a 19-20 threat range and has this special ability and the Improved Critical feat for the indicated weapon gains a threat range of 16-20)

Lethal Critical: When using a light weapon (or a weapon enhanced by the Weapon Finesse feat), the critical multiplier increases by 1.

Weakening Critical: When using a light weapon (or a weapon enhanced by the Weapon Finesse feat), the creature also takes 1 point of Strength damage. Creatures immune to critical hits are immune to this effect.

Wounding Critical: When using a light weapon (or a weapon that uses the Weapon Finesse feat), the creature also takes 1 point of Constitution damage. Creatures immune to critical hits are immune to this effect.

The following special abilities are removed from the list when playing a swashbuckler: crippling strike.

As you can see, part of what made a Swashbuckler pretty awesome was the ability to enhance its critical hits with ability damage. Of course, you gained those abilities pretty late, so they weren't much of a saving grace by the time you reached 11th level, when a Wizard already could replace you with something better.

By making them Rogue special abilities, the Swashbuckler can now choose which of the abilities is more important, while still having "competing" options to choose from. Should I go enhancing my crits, improve my evasion, or perhaps gain the ability to survive a deadly blow? With only four choices, having these options expanded makes the choice of special abilities something a bit more important.

Of course, some losses had to appear. If Crippling Strike remained around, there was no need for Weakening Critical because the former would happen more than the latter. Recall that Precise Strike counts as a sneak attack for purposes of abilities that improve them, and Crippling Strike is an ability that rides with SA, so it would have ridden as well with Precise Strike. A full attack with haste from a one-handed fencer dealing 10 points of Strength damage isn't funny, and worse if you somehow gave reach to a finessable weapon in one hand (Enlarge Person, for example), because then you could use an Attack of Opportunity that dealt 2 points of Strength damage. Why, then, bother on taking Weakening Critical, except for making this ability even MORE broken than it already is (aside from those creatures immune to ability damage, such as anyone with Death Ward)? Thus, it had to go, and it goes this way. Worry not, since most finessable weapons have a threat range of 18-20 or 19-20, so landing crits with them won't be much of a hassle, but you won't get the crippling penalties you had before. I was thinking about Opportunist, but considering that Opportunist + Enlarge Person + Improved Trip would make for a pretty odd lockdown build (ally hits, you trip them, then your ally gets the benefit of keeping them down if they also have Imp. Trip), so it makes a lot of sense to keep as-is.

--

So...questions? Comments? Clever way to handle a build-based class? Cheapskate, you could have done a proper class instead of cheaping out on "kits and archetypes"!?

As for the few ACFs that the class has: Shield of Blades is effectively "subsumed" into Canny Defense, whereas the best ACF the Swashbucklers got (Arcane Stunt) can be easily placed as one of the Rogue/Swashbuckler special options (count a Rogue special option as if you had gained the Grace feature at that moment). That should cover it all, or at least most of it.

ChumpLump
2012-01-18, 06:47 PM
I love the idea, and it seems very well executed, but I have two little thoughts.

1) Insightful strike is gained at L.7. This feels a bit late. Perhaps it is just me, but I would rather trade Strength for Intelligence earlier than wait and add them together. Just a thought.

2) While this isn't a Fix/Retool/Whathaveyou you may still toss the Swashbuckler a small little treat at L.20. Blank 20 is quite unfortunate.

nonsi
2012-01-19, 05:47 AM
Table . . . ?

Gnorman
2012-01-19, 06:20 AM
Looks like a solid adaptation. Well done.

Cieyrin
2012-01-19, 07:25 PM
Weakening and Wounding Critical don't do what they originally did and are, in fact, practically identical. They don't go off on crits and Wounding should be doing Con damage, shouldn't it?

T.G. Oskar
2012-01-19, 08:23 PM
Table . . . ?

>.< I know that tables are pretty, but the formatting, the formatting!

...Basically, since I'm using the Rogue chassis, making a table just to indicate the changes seems a bit redundant. Making a table suggests a new class, which isn't the intention. Hence, no table this time.


I love the idea, and it seems very well executed, but I have two little thoughts.

1) Insightful strike is gained at L.7. This feels a bit late. Perhaps it is just me, but I would rather trade Strength for Intelligence earlier than wait and add them together. Just a thought.

Dunno what to say about it, given that the ability as-is works pretty well. 1d8+Int to damage is pretty strong at 3rd level, so I could argue it's pretty early: you deal in average only 2-3 points less than what a 2-hander with PA does, but you don't sacrifice attack bonus for damage and you have a better chance of pulling a crit. At 7th level the 2-hander pushes ahead, so applying two stats instead of one sorta balances the damage ratio out (and since you'd have Str and Int counting as static damage, both are improved through critical), and requires a larger investment in terms of levels in the class. A 3-level dip on a Swashbuckler rogue for Int to damage, 1d8 points of damage with a weapon in one hand or going TWF and evasion would be a very nice dip (then again, having Int to AC at 3rd level makes for a slightly equally good dip). Both options have equal weight IMO, so I can't really accept or deny a change in the future without a piece of evidence that shifts the weight to one side or another.


2) While this isn't a Fix/Retool/Whathaveyou you may still toss the Swashbuckler a small little treat at L.20. Blank 20 is quite unfortunate.

Technicallly there's no blank at 20th level (they get an extra use of the Lucky ability), but I was thinking of duplicating the uses of Lucky at 20th as the treat. That, or an extra Rogue special option, but I would suggest that for the Rogue itself, not just the fix.

Cieyrin
2012-01-19, 08:56 PM
Dunno what to say about it, given that the ability as-is works pretty well. 1d8+Int to damage is pretty strong at 3rd level, so I could argue it's pretty early: you deal in average only 2-3 points less than what a 2-hander with PA does, but you don't sacrifice attack bonus for damage and you have a better chance of pulling a crit. At 7th level the 2-hander pushes ahead, so applying two stats instead of one sorta balances the damage ratio out (and since you'd have Str and Int counting as static damage, both are improved through critical), and requires a larger investment in terms of levels in the class. A 3-level dip on a Swashbuckler rogue for Int to damage, 1d8 points of damage with a weapon in one hand or going TWF and evasion would be a very nice dip (then again, having Int to AC at 3rd level makes for a slightly equally good dip). Both options have equal weight IMO, so I can't really accept or deny a change in the future without a piece of evidence that shifts the weight to one side or another.

Actually, the original Swashbuckler added Int to damage, not replaced. That's why you saw for a while around the release of Races of the Wild Swashbuckler/Champions of Correllon Larethian with Elven Courtblades, as they added Str, Dex and Int to damage. MAD as hell but rather interesting nonetheless.

Greenish
2012-01-20, 11:24 AM
the silly unarmed variant of the Swordsage (I mean, why limit yourself to fists when you can fight with other weapons and just get IUS and SUS to duplicate the same effect, except with the other weapons around?)Why would you ever take swordsage with IUS and SUS instead of unarmed swordsage with Armour Proficiency: Light? :smallconfused:


When fighting with a light weapon, or a weapon that can be used with the Weapon Finesse feat, and nothing on the other hand, a swashbuckler deals 1d8 points of damage with each attack.You mean, I hope, "an extra 1d8 points of damage" there. :smalltongue:


worse if you somehow gave reach to a finessable weapon in one handLike Kusari-gama (DMG) or Spinning Sword (SoS)? :smallamused:

T.G. Oskar
2012-01-31, 02:11 PM
Why would you ever take swordsage with IUS and SUS instead of unarmed swordsage with Armour Proficiency: Light? :smallconfused:

I tend to forget that the unarmed Swordsage only trades its light armor proficiency, not its weapons proficiencies. I wouldn't say a silly oversight, though, because the trade is near-insignificant, but it's really what I wanted to say.

However, it's still close to the point: once you get the better fist damage with the maneuvers, there's little reason why to wield any of the other weapons, or otherwise you wouldn't have taken the variant in the first place. If anything, this makes it sillier, because there's nothing limiting you from taking Armor Proficiency [Light] as a feat tax and just play the normal Swordsage. The feel is still different, though, and you can blame Wuxia on that.


You mean, I hope, "an extra 1d8 points of damage" there. :smalltongue:

Yes, yes; you hope well. It's a replacement to sneak attack where you deal slightly less damage for the chance to land it with nearly every hit.


Like Kusari-gama (DMG) or Spinning Sword (SoS)? :smallamused:

*Facepalm*

I guess I should be thankful for being proven wrong. Though both are exotic weapons, but that doesn't matter in any case (spiked chains and whips are also exotic weapons, but one's 2-handed and the other is treated as a ranged weapon...). That the kusari-gama is treated as a spiked chain for many things works pretty well for an impromptu lockdown build with extra damage on top.

Also, Critical Finesse + Spinning Sword = yum!

Loki_42
2012-02-01, 01:36 PM
Wounding Critical and Weakening Critical have the exact same text.