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View Full Version : D&D 3.x Other [ToB] The Empty Stair School



Auroch
2019-01-12, 10:07 PM
Some say running is a coward's art. Some talk of "honorable combat", as if, after standing still and being killed, you would get consolation from having acted correctly. Some - even the great Reshar - think that any art not focused on cutting the enemy is useless, unworthy of study. They are wrong; the power to run is the power to control when and where the battle takes place, and in the hands of a master motion is the most deadly weapon there is.

The Empty Stair Discipline

The Empty Stair Discipline emphasizes mobility and surprise. The dagger, club, unarmed strike, quarterstaff, and scimitar are the associated weapons of the Empty Stair discipline, and its key skill is Climb.

Empty Stair maneuvers were not taught at Resharís school, not being deemed worthy due to its defensive nature. Martial adepts of any class may choose to learn Empty Stair in place of Stone Dragon.

(Meta note: This was inspired by reading this Sublime Monk variant (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?29762-Monk-of-the-Sublime-Way-New-Book-of-Nine-Swords-Class) and regretting the loss of abundant step. Therefore, here is a martial discipline inspired primarily by abundant step. I suspect it may be somewhat too powerful for a generically-available discipline, but I'm not sure.)



Absence of Body
Empty Stair (Counter)
Level: Any 1
Initiation Action: 1 immediate action
Range: Personal
Target: Self
Duration: 1 round

When you are the target of a melee attack, you may respond by taking evasive action. You get a +4 dodge bonus to AC until the end of your next turn, as if you had taken the total defense action. Until the end of that turn, you may not make attacks and may take no actions other than movement.
This dodge bonus does not stack with the bonus from total defense but can stack with the bonus from Combat Expertise or fighting defensively.


Mindís Step
Empty Stair (Stance)
Level: Any 1
Initiation Action: 1 swift action
Range: Personal
Target: Self
Duration: Stance

While in this stance, you may move along walls and other smooth vertical surfaces as long as you begin and end your turn on a horizontal surface. If you make an attack while on the wall or within 5 ft of movement from leaving the wall, roll Climb vs. your opponentís Spot; if you win, they are flat-footed against your first attack.
Treat the wall as a normal floor for the purpose of measuring your movement. Passing from floor to wall or wall to floor costs no movement; you can change surfaces freely. Opponents on the ground can make attacks of opportunity as you move up the wall.

Pierce the Air
Empty Stair (Strike)
Level: Any 1
Initiation Action: 1 standard action
Range: 20 ft
Target: One Creature

You strike with such force that the rush of air feet away carries the sting. Make a single melee attack as part of this maneuver against any target in range; your weapon is treated as having sufficient reach to attack that target.

Vault the Wind
Empty Stair (Rush)
Level: Any 1
Initiation Action: 1 move action
Range: Personal
Target: Self

The martial adept can find purchase on the air itself, vaulting themself higher. As part of a move action that includes a jump, make a Climb check. You count as having a running start equal to the result of the Climb check in feet (plus any running start you actually move). For every 5 by which you beat DC 20, gain +5ft move speed for this move and +1 to all attack rolls until the start of your next turn.

Mobile Coordination
Empty Stair (Rush)
Level: Any 1
Initiation Action: 1 move action
Range: Personal/30 ft
Target: You and one ally

You move, and bring an ally along with you. Call instructions to one ally within range and let them take advantage of an opening; you move up to your speed, and they move up to their speed as well. Their movement does not provoke attacks of opportunity.


Aggressive Maneuvers
Empty Stair (Rush)
Level: Any 2
Initiation Action: 1 full-round action
Range: Personal
Target: You

As part of this maneuver, make a Climb check and move up to double your speed. Each enemy you pass adjacent to whose AC is equal to your check result or lower takes a -2 penalty to attack rolls and AC until the end of your next turn.
This movement does not provoke attacks of opportunity and you may use your Climb check result as your Tumble roll to move through enemy squares.

Descend the Stair
Empty Stair (Counter)
Level:*Any 2
Initiation Action: 1 immediate action
Range:*Personal
Target:*Self
Duration:*1 round/initiator level

You may initiate this maneuver when you are falling 10 feet or more and you have a wall, dense brances, or other objects within reach of your fall. You control your descent, reducing the total falling damage to 1d6 nonlethal. Optionally, you may reduce the speed at which you fall from 1000 ft/round (normal terminal velocity) to as little as 20 ft/round. Each round you fall, you may make a 5 ft step horizontally as long as this doesnít take you out of reach of the surface or obstacles you are using to control your fall.

If you wish, at any time you may aim your descent to hit a creature or object. This is a ranged touch attack, at a -5 penalty for every 5 ft of horizontal distance traveled. If you hit, they take half the normal falling damage for a fall from your height (specifically, your height as you decide to aim), and you take a quarter of the normal falling damage as nonlethal damage.

Hit and Run
Empty Stair (Strike)
Level: Any 2
Prerequisite: One Empty Stair maneuver
Initiation Action: 1 standard action
Range: Melee attack
Target: One creature

Make a melee attack against an enemy. If you hit, you deal +1d6 damage and move 10 ft after the attack is resolved. If you miss, you move 5 ft. This movement does not provoke attacks of opportunity in either case.

Scale the Weapon
Empty Stair (Counter)
Level: Any 2
Initiation Action: 1 immediate action
Range: Personal
Target: Self

When you would be hit by a melee attack, you may initiate this maneuver and make a Climb check. If your check result exceeds the attack roll, you climb onto the attacker and use the momentum of the attack to reposition yourself; immediately move half your speed. If you are still within reach, the attacker may reroll their attack against your normal AC and resolve the attack normally.



Abrupt Departure
Empty Stair (Strike)
Level: Any 3
Prerequisite: One Empty Stair maneuver
Initiation Action: 1 standard action
Range: Personal
Target: You

As part of this maneuver, make a Climb check against the targetís AC. If the check succeeds, deal normal weapon damage +2d6 and knock the enemy back 10 ft.

First Empty Step
Empty Stair (Rush)
Level: Any 3
Prerequisite: One Empty Stair maneuver
Initiation Action: 1 movement action
Range: See text.
Target: Self

Teleport to a location, as shadow stride except that the range is equal to your speed rather than 50 ft.
This maneuver is a supernatural ability.

Mobile Command
Empty Stair (Boost)
Level: Any 3
Initiation Action: 1 swift action
Range: 30 ft
Target: One ally

Your mastery of mobility can be shared; call instructions to one ally within range and let them take advantage of an opening. That ally may move up to their speed, without provoking attacks of opportunity.

Windís Watch
Empty Stair (Stance)
Level: Any 3
Prerequisite: One Empty Stair maneuver
Initiation Action: 1 swift action
Range: Personal
Target: Self
Duration: Stance

While in this stance, you get +10 ft base move speed. While you are 10 ft or more away from where you started your turn, you receive +1AC and attacks made during your turn deal +1d6 damage. This is precision damage and does not apply against foes immune to sneak attacks or critical hits, and cannot be used on ranged attacks more than 30ft away.
This stacks with the scoutís Skirmish class feature and similar abilities, and the damage stacks with sneak attack and other forms of precision damage.



Half-Real Step
Empty Stair (Rush)
Level: Any 4
Prerequisite: One Empty Stair maneuver
Initiation Action: 1 swift action
Range: Personal
Target: You

By walking half in reality and half on the empty stair, you cover ground in an instant. Move up to your speed.

Recoil
Empty Stair (Counter)
Level: Any 4
Prerequisite: N Empty Stair maneuver(s)
Initiation Action: 1 immediate action
Range: Melee
Target: One attacking creature

Initiate this maneuver when an enemy has attacked you and missed. Make a touch attack; if you hit, move the attacker up to your speed in a straight line. They make a Reflex save against your normal DC; if they fail, they land prone and their turn ends.

Walk With Precision
Empty Stair (Strike)
Level: Any 4
Prerequisite: Two Empty Stair maneuvers
Initiation Action: 1 full-round action
Range: Personal
Target: You

As part of this maneuver, move up to twice your speed. At two points in your movement, make a melee attack and deal +2d6 damage if it is successful. You must move at least 5 ft before your first attack, at least 5 ft between the two attacks, and at least 5 ft after the second attack. Declare the two (or fewer) targets of your attacks before you begin your movement; this movement does not provoke attacks of opportunity from those targets.


Empty Anchor
Empty Stair (Strike)
Level: Any 5
Prerequisite: Two Empty Stair maneuvers
Initiation Action: 1 standard action
Range: Melee
Target: One creature

As part of this maneuver, make a melee attack. If you hit, deal normal weapon damage and the targetís speed is reduced to 0 until the end of your next turn. (DC 15 + Str modifier Reflex save partial; a successful save means their speed is reduced to half.)

Evasive Maneuvers
Empty Stair (Counter)
Level: Any 5
Prerequisite: Two Empty Stair maneuvers
Initiation Action: 1 immediate action
Range: Personal
Target: Self

You may initiate this maneuver when an area of effect spell is cast which would include you in its area. You immediately move up to half your speed directly toward the closest point which is outside the spellís area of effect. If this does not take you out of the area of effect, you get +4 on your save to avoid the spellís effect.

Shifting Steps
Empty Stair (Stance)
Level: Any 5
Prerequisite: Two Empty Stair maneuvers
Initiation Action: 1 swift action
Range: Personal
Target: You
Duration: Stance

While in this stance, you shift around on the battlefield, as if climbing on steps no one else can see. Use (5 + Climb bonus + Dex modifier) in place of your armor class, except against attacks made during the attackerís turn which are the first attack they have made that turn.


Empty World Run
Empty Stair (Rush)
Level: Any 6
Prerequisite: Two Empty Stair maneuver(s)
Initiation Action: 1 move action
Range: Personal
Target: Self

Move up to three times your speed. For the duration of this movement and the remainder of your turn, you act as though under the effect of freedom of movement, as the spell.

Half-Present Charge
Empty Stair (Strike)
Level: Any X
Prerequisite: Two Empty Stair maneuvers
Initiation Action: 1 full-round action
Range: Personal
Target: One creature

As part of this maneuver, make a charge attack, ignoring difficult terrain and optionall making one turn of up to 90™ at any point in the charge. Your attack at the end of the charge deals +3d6 damage. Until the start of your next turn, attacks targeting you have a 50% miss chance, as blink.
This maneuver is a supernatural ability.

Opponent-Ascending Style
Empty Stair (Rush)
Level: Any 6
Prerequisite: Two Empty Stair maneuvers
Initiation Action: 1 move action
Range: Melee
Target: One creature
Duration: One round

This maneuver can only be initiated within 10 ft of a wall or other climbable vertical surface. Make a Climb check against your enemyís AC. If you succeed, stun that enemy for 1 round and climb up to your base move speed directly upward along the nearest wall.


Destructive Maneuvers
Empty Stair (Rush)
Level: Any 7
Initiation Action: 1 full-round action
Range: Personal
Target: You

As part of this maneuver, make a Climb check and move up to triple your speed. Each enemy you pass adjacent to whose AC is less than or equal to double your check result takes 3d6 slashing damage and takes a -4 penalty to attack rolls and AC until the end of your next turn.
This movement does not provoke attacks of opportunity and you may use your Climb check result as your Tumble roll to move through enemy squares.

Move Like Wind
Empty Stair (Counter)
Level: Any 7
Prerequisite: Three Empty Stair maneuvers
Initiation Action: 1 immediate action
Range: Personal
Target: You

Whenever an enemy attacks you, before they make the attack roll, you may initiate this maneuver. You move your speed, which does not provoke attacks of opportunity from that enemy.



Elusive Tempest
Empty Stair (Strike)
Level: Any 9
Prerequisite: Four Empty Stair maneuvers
Initiation Action: 1 full-round action
Range: Personal
Target: You

You speed through the battlefield with the speed and devastation of a hurricane. Make a full attack as part of this maneuver, dealing 4d6 damage on every hit in addition to your normal weapon damage. Before your first attack and after each attack, you may move up to your speed. None of this movement provokes attacks of opportunity.

Invisible Path
Empty Stair (Stance)
Level: Any 8
Prerequisite: Three Empty Stair maneuvers
Initiation Action: 1 swift action
Range: Personal
Target: You
Duration: Stance

You may move without passing through intervening space. Whenever you move while in this stance, you may teleport that distance instead. 5 ft of vertical travel counts for 10 ft of your move. This still provokes attacks of opportunity from enemies threatening the space you begin your movement in. Additionally, you get +15ft base movement speed while in this stance.
This maneuver is a supernatural ability.

Last Empty Step
Empty Stair (Rush)
Level: Any 8
Prerequisite: Three Empty Stair maneuvers
Initiation Action: 1 movement action
Range: See text.
Target: Self

Teleport to a location, as shadow stride except that the range is equal to twice your speed rather than 50 ft. Until the end of your turn, you are invisible and incorporeal, your attacks deal +2d6 damage, and all opponents are flat-footed against you.
This maneuver is a supernatural ability.

Auroch
2019-01-13, 01:21 PM
Feats

Empty Stair Riposte
Prerequisites: One Empty Stair rush
Benefit: In any round you have moved 10 ft or more and initiated an Empty Stair maneuver, when any opponent misses you with a melee attack, deal 1d6 slashing damage to them +1d6 for every 5 initiator levels you have.

Empty Stair Speed
Prerequisites: One Empty Stair maneuver
Benefit: While taking the run action or initiating an Empty Stair maneuver, you ignore difficult terrain, and your speed is not reduced by encumbrance or armor. While running, you retain your Dexterity bonus to AC and move four times your speed regardless of your armor and load.
Normal: You move four times your speed while running (if wearing medium, light, or no armor and carrying no more than a medium load) or three times your speed (if wearing heavy armor or carrying a heavy load), and you lose your Dexterity bonus to AC.
Special: This feat can be used in place of Run to qualify for a feat, prestige class, or other special ability.

Auroch
2019-01-14, 12:17 PM
Shameless bump in hopes anyone will comment.

lightningcat
2019-01-14, 12:48 PM
Looks cool, but as I haven't done anything with ToB for a couple of years I don't have the automatic criticing of old. But I do have a few thoughts.
Abrupt Departure feels like it should have something about different size categories. Either not being able to use it against smaller targets or bonuses against larger ones. Or maybe the opposite. Opponent Assending Style has the same issue.
First Empty Step feels out of place. Maybe because Half-Real Step is only 1 level later?
Empty Anchor feels like it should have upgraded versions.

Some of the wording is a bit clunky, but it gets the point across. All in all, this makes me think of the chase scene in the beginning of Aladdin.

Auroch
2019-01-15, 01:07 AM
I could definitely add text for making size categories matter, but as you say they're clunky as it is. Forum posts seem like a poor medium for discussing editing for clunkiness (high latency), but any suggestions you have I'll take a look at.

First Empty Step and Half-Real Step serve fairly different roles; crossing gaps that couldn't be crossed with normal movement (but moving no faster than your speed) vs. moving faster and further (using a swift action). But I could give FES this text to differentiate it more:


Teleport to a location, as shadow stride except that the range is equal to your speed rather than 50 ft. Enemies are flat-footed against any attacks you make this turn.
This maneuver is a supernatural ability.

I'm not sure what I'd do for an upgraded Empty Anchor. Stun? Longer movement speed loss?


All in all, this makes me think of the chase scene in the beginning of Aladdin.

I rewatched that scene and you are absolutely right; I like that enough to have some traditions in-world call it the "Elusive Urchin" discipline.

lightningcat
2019-01-15, 09:37 PM
I'm not sure what I'd do for an upgraded Empty Anchor. Stun? Longer movement speed loss?


7th level strike
Whirlwind attack as a standard action with the same immobilization effect.
Best I could come up with.