Dotted across the landscape are monasteries--small, walled cloisters inhabited by martial artists who pursue personal perfection through physical and mental training. Training themselves to be able warriors even when unarmed and dressed in peasants' clothes, martial artists may often walk unnoticed around a town's populace, serving as protectors of the farmers and other people residing near their training halls. Benign masters often train the residents of their monasteries to hold life dear and to ensure the safety of those around them. Other masters train their students so they can be the best and gain fame from the tournament victories their prodigies earn, while some monasteries serve as training grounds for elite forces of assassins, thieves, or spies.
In any case, martial artists train to perfect their own skills and power, not being dependent on specific equipment and always ready for when combat is necessary. As such, martial artists rarely care overmuch for material wealth, but will go to great lengths to further their skills and refine their respective arts.
Adventures - A martial artist often approaches an adventure as if it were a personal test. While not prone to showing off, this type of martial artist is willing to try her skills against whatever obstacles confront her in order to perfect her art. Others travel the countryside, defeating any opponent foolish enough to accept her challenge in order to prove herself as the greatest warrior around. Still others are employed as mercenaries or special forces by governments and organizations tied to their monasteries and are assigned specific missions to infiltrate, steal, spy, or assassinate.
Characteristics - The key feature of the martial artist is her ability to fight unarmed and unarmored. Thanks to her rigorous training, she can strike as hard as if she were armed and strike faster than a warrior with a sword. The extent and variations of this ability is largely dependent on the art that individual martial artists learn at their monasteries, whose fighting styles vary widely depending on the intended uses of the art.
A martial artist's training also includes refinement of perception and mobility, and martial artistsgain an instinctive awareness of opposition that she is not consciously aware of, and the ability to avoid attacks with frustrating regularity. While some martial artists attribute these abilities to an inner force, known as ki, others say that it is all a matter of physical training. In any case, martial artists are capable of feats that no other warriors have a chance of achieving.
Background - A martial artist typically trains in a monastery. Most martial artists were children when they joined the monastery, as many masters take in orphaned children or accept them from families that can't afford to feed or care for them. Life in a monastery is so focused that by the time a martial artist sets off on her own, she seldom feels any connection to her former family or village.
In larger cities, master martial artists have set up martial art schools to teach the interested and worthy. At times, there may be rival schools within a city that compete for the interest of prospective students through highly publicized bouts and tournaments.
A martial artist may feel a deep connection to her monastery or school, to the master who taught her, to the clan whose art she practices, or all of these. Some martial artists, however, claim none of these ties and simply follow their own path of personal development.
Martial artists often recognize each other as separate from the rest of the populace and can hold a deep respect for each other regardless of which art they practice. Others, however, hold contempt for the martial arts of others and fight to prove their art superior to all others at every turn.
Other Classes - Martial artists sometimes seem distant because they often have neither motivation nor skills in common with members of other classes, or because they have been accustomed to the strict training of their monasteries and are unused to being among people that do not share that singular passion.
Role - The best role for a martial artist depends largely on her style, which can vary from constantly mobile opportunistic attackers as is common with the Cobra Strike discipline, to rock-solid counter-attackers from the Denying Stance. In any case, martial artists are often glass cannons that must gauge the amount of punishment they take very carefully.
Abilities - Wisdom powers the martial artist's AC bonus and save DCs for offensive techniques. Dexterity is a vital ability for most martial artists in order to balance the lack of armor and give bonuses to useful skills. Strength is a necessity for offense-oriented martial artists that wish to deal significant damage. Constitution helps to balance out the relatively low hit die that martial artists have as a warrior class.
Hit Die - d8
The martial artist's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Balance (Dex), Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Hide (Dex), Jump (Str), Knowledge (religion) (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Spot (Wis), Swim (Str), and Tumble (Dex).
Skill points at 1st Level: (4 + Intelligence modifier) x 4.
Skill points at Each Additional Level: 4 + Intelligence modifier.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Martial artists are proficient with the club, crossbow (light or heavy), dagger, eskrima, javelin, quarterstaff, shuriken, sling, and any style weapons (see Style Training, below). Martial artists are not proficient with any armor or shields. When wearing armor, using a shield, or carrying a medium or heavy load, a martial artist loses her AC bonus, as well as her Enhanced Strike ability and possibly some style abilities.
Style Training: At 1st level, a martial artist chooses a martial art or style to follow, gaining a +2 competence bonus on a skill associated with her chosen style, as well as adding it to her class skill list. The martial artist’s style also determines other factors, such as damage done by her Enhanced Strike ability, weapon proficiencies (to an extent), and which bonus feats the martial artist receives at first, second, and sixth levels. If a martial artist already has a bonus feat provided by her style training, she may instead gain any other feat for which she qualifies in its place.
Styles are broken down into light, balanced and heavy styles in terms of Enhanced Strike damage. Further, the benefits granted by each style depend on what type of styles they are. Style types stack if any abilities grant similar bonuses.
Also, most martial artists apply their Wisdom as a bonus to armor class. Specific styles, however, may apply Intelligence or Charisma modifiers instead, reflecting an analytical or impulsive approach to fighting, respectively. Intelligence-based styles are labeled Rational, while Charisma-based styles are labeled Vagrant.
Enhanced Strike (Ex): At 1st level, a martial artist gains Improved Unarmed Strike as a bonus feat. A martial artist’s attacks may be with either fist interchangeably or even from elbows, knees, and feet. This means that a martial artist may even make unarmed strikes with her hands full. There is no such thing as an off-hand attack for a martial artist striking unarmed. A martial artist may thus apply her full Strength bonus on damage rolls for all her unarmed strikes.
Usually a martial artist’s unarmed strikes deal lethal damage, but she can choose to deal nonlethal damage instead with no penalty on her attack roll. She has the same choice to deal lethal or nonlethal damage while grappling.
A martial artist’s unarmed strike is treated both as a manufactured weapon and a natural weapon for the purpose of feats and effects that enhance or improve either manufactured weapons or natural weapons (though not crafting bonuses, of course).
A martial artist also deals more damage with her unarmed strikes than a normal person would, though the damage of individual strikes depends largely on her fighting style.
Unarmored AC Bonus: When unarmored and unencumbered, the martial artist adds her Wisdom bonus (if any) to her AC.
Still Mind (Ex): A martial artist of 3rd level or higher gains a +4 bonus on saving throws against fear or mind-affecting effects.
Purity of Body (Ex): At 5th level, a martial artist gains a +4 to saving throws against disease.
Uncanny Dodge (Ex): Beginning at 7th level, a martial artist studying an style retains his Dexterity bonus to AC even when flat-footed.
If a martial artist already has uncanny dodge from a second class, the character automatically gains improved uncanny dodge instead.
Diamond Body (Ex): At 11th level, a martial artist gains a +4 bonus on saving throws against poisons of all kinds.
Improved Uncanny Dodge (Ex): Beginning at 14th level, a martial artist can no longer be flanked.
Enhanced Strike Damage
Mobile Style Abilities
Mobile styles are those which put an emphasis on movement and using it to your advantage, maneuvering around your opponent, staying out of range, and charging suddenly into the fray before an opponent can prepare a countermeasure.
Unarmored Speed Bonus (Ex) : At 3rd level, a martial artist studying an mobile style gains an enhancement bonus to her speed, as shown on the table above. A martial artist in armor or carrying a medium or heavy load loses this extra speed.
Evasive Style Abilities
Evasive styles focus on avoiding attacks and damage, forcing the opponent to engage and frustrating him with your superior reflexes, opening him up for a counterattack.
Dodge Bonus - A martial artist of an evasive style gains a +1 Dodge bonus to AC at 4th level. This bonus increases by 1 for every four martial artist levels thereafter (+2 at 8th, +3 at 12th, +4 at 16th, and +5 at 20th level). This stacks with the martial artist's normal AC bonus. A martial artist wearing any armor or carrying a medium or heavy load does not gain the benefits of this ability.
Evasion (Ex) - At 2nd level or higher if a martial artist studying an evasive style makes a successful Reflex saving throw against an attack that normally deals half damage on a successful save, she instead takes no damage. Evasion can be used only if a martial artist is wearing light armor or no armor. A helpless martial artist does not gain the benefit of this ability.
Improved Evasion (Ex): At 9th level, the evasion ability of a martial artist studying an evasive style improves. She still takes no damage on a successful Reflex saving throw against attacks, but henceforth she takes only half damage on a failed save. A helpless martial artist does not gain the benefit of improved evasion.
Hard Style Abilities
Hard styles emphasize powerful strikes in melee, pounding the enemy with powerful single strikes and making it too costly for an opponent to engage in melee combat. Hard styles also tend to train by breaking hard objects, such as wooden boards and bricks.
Decisive Strike - When unarmored, a martial artist studying a hard style may deliver a single powerful blow as a standard action or by making a full attack, in which case each decisive strike counts as two attacks (if the martial artist has attacks left over, these may be done as normal strikes; decisive strikes are in bold on the class table). When doing so, her attack roll is made with a -2 penalty, as does each other attack made that round. The resulting modified base attack bonuses are shown in the Decisive Strike column on the above table. When a martial artist reaches 5th level, the penalty lessens to -1, and at 9th level it disappears. At 11th level, a martial artist gains a +1 bonus on the attack roll of a decisive strike. A martial artist must use an attack action to perform a decisive strike. If the attack hits, it deals double damage.
When using a decisive strike, a martial artist may attack only with unarmed strikes or with style weapons. The martial artist can’t use any weapon other than a style weapon for a decisive strike. Also, when using a decisive strike in a full attack, attacks may be done in any order, and not only as shown on the martial artist's class table. For example, a martial artist with a Base Attack Bonus of 14 may make a normal unarmed strike at a +14 modifier, then a decisive strike at a +9 modifier if she wishes. A martial artist may not use a decisive strike as part of a flurry of blows.
If a decisive strike is used to deliver a stunning attack, the save DC to resist the ability is increased by 2.
Quick Style Abilities
Quick styles focus on getting within melee range of an opponent and keeping him there, overwhelming him with a series of blows that make it extremely difficult to defend.
Flurry of Blows - When unarmored, a martial artist studying a quick style may strike with a rapid series of blows at the expense of accuracy. When doing so, she may make one extra attack in a round at her highest base attack bonus, but this attack takes a -2 penalty, as does each other attack made that round. The resulting modified base attack bonuses are shown in the Flurry of Blows column on the above table. This penalty applies for 1 round, so it also affects attacks of opportunity the martial artist might make before her next action. When a martial artist reaches 5th level, the penalty lessens to -1, and at 9th level it disappears. When a martial artist reaches 11th level, her flurry of blows ability improves. In addition to the standard single extra attack she gets from flurry of blows, she gets a second extra attack at her second-best base attack bonus. A martial artist must use a full attack action to strike with a flurry of blows.
When using flurry of blows, a martial artist may attack only with unarmed strikes or with style weapons. She may attack with unarmed strikes and style weapons interchangeably as desired. When using weapons as part of a flurry of blows, a martial artist applies her Strength bonus (not Str bonus × 1½ or ×½) to her damage rolls for all successful attacks, whether she wields a weapon in one or both hands. The martial artist can’t use any weapon other than a style weapon as part of a flurry of blows.
In the case of the quarterstaff, each end counts as a separate weapon for the purpose of using the flurry of blows ability. Even though the quarterstaff requires two hands to use, a martial artist may still intersperse unarmed strikes with quarterstaff strikes, assuming that she has enough attacks in her flurry of blows routine to do so.
Resilient Style Abilities
Resilient styles don't bother overmuch with defending against an opponents' they rather focus on bearing pain and increasing their own resistance to damage, allowing them to shrug off attacks and deal the damage back in kind.
Damage Reduction - At level 4 martial artistof a resilient style gains Damage Reduction 1/-. This bonus increases by 1 for every four martial artist levels thereafter (2/- at 8th, 3/- at 12th, 4/- at 16th, and 5/- at 20th level).
Cobra Strike (Mobile, Evasive, Quick, Rational Style)
Martial artists of the Cobra Strike School specialize in agility and defense. By making herself hard to pin down, the Cobra Strike martial artist forces the enemy to fight on her terms.
Style Weapons: dagger, javelin, kama, kukri, sai, shuriken, siangham
Skill Bonus: Escape Artist
1st Level Bonus Feat: Dodge
2nd Level Bonus Feat: Mobility
At 4th level, the dodge bonus to your Armor Class granted by your Dodge feat increases to +1/4 martial artist levels and may applies to one additional target for every 4 martial artist levels you have.
6th Level Bonus Feat: Spring Attack
At 8th level, you gain a +2 competence bonus on Climb, Jump, and Tumble checks. This bonus increases to +4 at level 16.
At 10th level, you gain Mobile Mastery as a bonus feat, even if you don’t meet the prerequisites
12th Level Bonus Feat: Bounding Assault
18th Level Bonus Feat: Rapid Blitz
At 20th level, you may make a full attack (including Flurry of Blows) with your Rapid Blitz feat, though you may still only use up to three attacks on a single opponent.
Denying Stance (Hard, Quick, Resilient Style)
The Denying Stance martial artist seeks to neutralize the opponent's maneuvers, thwarting him at every turn until he becomes so frustrated that he makes a crucial error.
Style Weapons: dagger, eskrima, kama, quarterstaff, sai
Skill Bonus: Tumble
1st Level Bonus Feat: Combat Expertise
2nd Level Bonus Feat: Combat Reflexes
Denying Stance: Beginning at 3rd level, a martial artist of the denying stance can forgo any number of attacks she wishes in a full attack and ‘save’ them for use as immediate actions during the rest of the round. You may only use these attacks against opponents that attack you in melee before you next turn and the attacks are made directly after the opponent’s attack. In the case of a full attack, you may trade blow for blow, executing an attack after each of her opponent’s attacks. The number of attacks you can ‘save’ and their base attack bonuses is determined by your Flurry of Blows full attack.
6th Level Bonus Feat: Parry Defense
At 8th level, when fighting defensively or using the Combat Expertise feat, you gain a +2 bonus on grapple checks (including to initiate a grapple), trip attempts and disarm attempts. This bonus increases to +4 at level 14.
12th Level Bonus Feat: Defensive Strike
18th Level Bonus Feat: Improved Combat Expertise
At 20th level, your reflexes and defensive capabilities are such that attacks you execute while using your denying stance technique land before those of your opponent.
Hand and Foot
The hand and foot style emphasizes combinations interchanging speed and accuracy with the hands and powerful finishing strikes with the feet, confounding opponents' defenses by attacking from four limbs all at once.
Style Weapons: dagger, kama, nunchaku, quarterstaff, three-section staff
Skill Bonus: Balance, Bluff
1st Level Bonus Feat: Stunning Fist
2nd Level Bonus Feat: Deflect Arrows
At 4th level, a martial artist of the hand and foot learns the founding principle of her art: the differing roles and capabilities of her hands and feet. Whenever making an unarmed strike, you must also specify if you are using your hands or feet (or other body parts, such as elbows and knees, as appropriate). Any unarmed strikes you make with your hands from this point on gain a +1 to attack rolls, plus another +1/four martial artist levels, and any strikes made with your feet gain a +1 to damage, +1/four martial artist levels. Unarmed Strikes made with the feet also count as two-handed weapons for the purpose of the Power Attack feat.
6th Level Bonus Feat: Improved Trip
At 7th Level, You gain a +2 bonus on attacks of opportunity made against an opponent attempting to bull rush or trip you, and a +4 bonus on Dexterity or Strength checks to avoid being tripped or bull rushed
At 8th level, you gain one of the hand and foot techniques detailed below.
At 10th level, you gain one of the hand and foot techniques detailed below.
12th Level Bonus Feat: Flying Kick
At 13th level, you gain one of the hand and foot techniques detailed below.
At 16th level, you gain one of the hand and foot techniques detailed below.
18th Level Bonus Feat: Combat Expertise
At 19th level, you gain one of the hand and foot techniques detailed below.
At 20th level, a martial artist of the hand and foot gains a +2 on all attack rolls, trip, bull rush, or bluff attempts used in her hand and foot techniques. In addition, whenever you make a full attack or flurry of blows, you gain a cumulative +1 to attack and damage rolls on unarmed strikes and attacks with style weapons for every previous successful hit in the full attack.
Hand and Foot Techniques
- Double Roundhouse Kick – As a standard action or part of a charge, a martial artist of the hand and foot may make two attacks at her highest base attack bonus instead of one. However, if either of these attacks fails to hit, you are considered flat-footed until you are hit with a melee attack or until your next turn.
- Feint Jab - A martial artist of the hand and foot expands upon the principle of speed over power that dominates the use of her hands. During a full attack, you may make feint jabs as attack actions with your hands (this does not provoke attacks of opportunity), resolving it as a normal feint. However, your opponent is only considered flat-footed against the next attack you use during the same turn as the feint (unlike a normal feint, which can be followed up on your next turn).
- Palm Strike – Whenever you make a decisive strike with your hands, you may also make a bull rush attempt against your opponent at a -2 penalty (This does not provoke an attack of opportunity, as you are not moving into your opponent’s square) as part of the attack, resolving it as normal. However, you do not have the option to move with your opponent, and it after the initial five feet your opponent is pushed back, your roll must be 10 points higher than your opponent’s in order to push him back an additional 5 feet (rather than 5 points higher, as normal). Stunning attacks made with palm strikes gain an additional +2 to their save DCs.
- Push Kick – A martial artist of the hand and foot learns to use her superior leg strength in ways other than direct damage to her opponent. As an attack action, you may make a bull rush attempt against your opponent at a -2 penalty (This does not provoke an attack of opportunity, as you are not moving into your opponent’s square), resolving it as normal. However, you do not have the option to move with your opponent, and it after the initial five feet your opponent is pushed back, your roll must be 10 points higher than your opponent’s in order to push him back an additional 5 feet (rather than 5 points higher, as normal). If a push kick is made as part of a charge, it deals normal unarmed strike damage as well as initiating a bull rush.
- Sweep Kick – Whenever you successfully hit with a hand technique and then a foot technique during a full attack, you immediately gain a free trip attempt against your opponent.
Overwhelming Attack (Hard, Quick, Resilient Style)
The overwhelming attack fighting style works under the theory that an opponent that cannot get up cannot hurt you. As such, the style has little in the way of defensive power, but seeks to pound enemies into submission before they become a threat.
Style Weapons: dagger, naginata, quarterstaff, siangham
Skill Bonus: Intimidate
1st Level Bonus Feat: Power Attack
2nd Level Bonus Feat: Improved Bull Rush
At 3rd level, you learn the basis for your art: an aggressive stance. You may switch in or out of an aggressive stance as a free action, though you cannot switch out of an aggressive stance on the same turn as you go into it. When in the aggressive stance, you lose your Wisdom bonus to AC and instead gain your Wisdom modifier to attack rolls.
At 5th level, you gain the ability to make a reckless assault when in your aggressive stance. When making a reckless assault, you may reduce your armor class by an amount up to your total dodge bonus and apply that same amount to your attack rolls for the rest of the turn. This bonus to attack my not surpass your base attack bonus.
6th Level Bonus Feat: Improved Overrun
At 8th level, you may make a move action alongside a full attack on any turn that you begin in the aggressive stance.
At 10th level, you gain half the amount sacrificed as part of a reckless assault as a damage bonus to all attacks that round.
12th Level Bonus Feat: Shock Trooper
18th Level Bonus Feat: Leap Attack
Passive Way (Evasive Style)
The Passive Way focuses on making your opponent overreach himself or underestimate your skill.
Style Weapons: dagger, eskrima, kusari-gama, quarterstaff, sai
Skill Bonus: Bluff
1st Level Bonus Feat: Combat Expertise.
2nd Level Bonus Feat: Improved Trip
At 3rd level, you learn the basis for your art: the passive stance. Whenever an opponent attacks and misses you in melee and misses by 5 or more while you are using Combat Expertise to increase your armor class, you automatically gain a trip, grapple, or disarm attempt against him, at your choice. This counts as an attack of opportunity, and you must be aware of your opponent before he makes an attack in order to use any attack from the passive stance.
At 5th level, you gain an additional ability to use with your passive stance, known as flowing. If your opponent attacks and misses you in melee, you may use his own momentum against him. Initially you make a touch attack, as for a grapple attempt. If it is successful, you and your opponent make opposed Strength or Dexterity checks (whichever is higher for each individual). If your check is greater, then you may shove your opponent 5 feet in any direction you wish, plus another 5 for every 2 points by which you won the opposed check (you may lessen the distance, if you wish). If an opponent is charging your or doing a bull rush attempt, you gain a +5 on your check. You must be able to execute an unarmed strike to do this technique.
6th Level Bonus Feat: Improved Feint.
At 8th level, you gain a +4 bonus on all checks made as part of a technique from the passive stance (Strength checks for trip attempts, touch attacks for grapples, Dexterity checks to flow your opponent, etc.), as well as an additional +4 to any of these checks if your opponent is flat-footed. In addition you gain additional attacks of opportunity per round equal to your Wisdom modifier. This stacks with Combat Reflexes or any other source of attacks of opportunity.
At 10th level, you may execute an attack with a light weapon or unarmed strike as an immediate action against an opponent as you execute a flow on him. This does not require an additional attack of opportunity other than the initial one.
12th Level Bonus Feat: Defensive Strike
At 14th level, you may combine a flow attempt with any other special attack you can do in the passive stance. For example, you could trip your opponent, in which case he would fall face-first five feet away from you (or further, as appropriate). In the case of a grapple, you flow with your opponent, beginning the grapple in the square where he ends.
18th Level Bonus Feat: Improved Combat Expertise
At 20th level, you learn how to use your ability to flow offensively against opponents. As an attack action, you may make a touch attack against an opponent. If it is successful, you may flow your opponent as usual, including any bonuses or additional abilities you’ve gained with it.