The swashbuckler is a romantic fantasy staple, a warrior that relies on his agility and wits rather than heavy armor, shields and crushing weapons. The swashbuckling style is particularly suited to environments where heavy armor would be a liability, such as in deserts, tropical locales, and the high seas. Swashbucklers are also prevalent in advanced societies, where gunpowder or magic has made the wearing of armor less desirable.
Adventures: Swashbucklers have a reputation for seeking adventure. Some, especially noble swashbucklers, become duelists. Others take to the high seas as pirates or privateers. Some seek justice for the oppressed (or at least give it lip service), while others use their abilities against jealous lovers when pursuing adventures of a salacious sort. Many bandits are swashbucklers, as their training involves taking down opponents quickly and having the mobility to flee.
Characteristics: Swashbucklers are warriors, although like rangers they tend to be more dexterous and light on their feet than their armored fighter cousins. A swashbuckler also relies on his wits, as he often prefers to negotiate his way out of situations rather than fight. Don’t mistake parley for weakness, however. When pressed, the swashbuckler is a formidable opponent.
Alignment: Swashbucklers come from all walks of life. Freedom-loving swashbucklers tend to be chaotic, often traveling the wilderness or high seas to seek their fortunes. Lawful swashbucklers are often bodyguards or duelists, upholding the law and protecting the weak.
Background: Many swashbucklers come from civilized backgrounds, where technology has advanced to the point of making good light weapons and urban society frowns on carrying heavy weapons and armor. Such swashbucklers tend to be affluent, learning new techniques from fencing masters or even a swordsman school. Other swashbucklers learn their tricks for more practical reasons, such as serving aboard a naval or pirate ship. These swashbucklers tend to come from lower class or outlaw backgrounds.
Races: It is said that swashbuckling began as an elven fighting style. Swashbucklers are also common amongst half-elves and humans. Halflings also tend to be swashbucklers rather than fighters. Gnomish swashbucklers are almost unheard of and the class tends to be shunned by the dwarves. Half-orcs raised in human societies sometimes choose to be swashbucklers, especially on the high seas.
Role: Swashbucklers work well with bards and rogues, especially in pirate settings. Swashbucklers also make good leaders, as their social skills are often more developed than other martial characters in the group.
Hit Die: d10.
The swashbuckler’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Acrobatics (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Handle Animal (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), and Swim (Str).
Skill Ranks per Level: 4 + Int modifier.
All of the following are class features of the swashbuckler. Class features with an asterisk (*) cannot be used if the swashbuckler is carrying a medium load or greater or wearing any armor heavier than light armor.
A swashbuckler is a fluid combatant, relying on quickness rather than heavy armor to deflect blows. When wearing no or light armor, the swashbuckler adds his Evade bonus to his armor class. This is considered a dodge bonus and whenever the swashbuckler is denied his Dexterity bonus to armor class he also loses his Evade bonus.
While proficient in all martial weapons, dexterous swashbucklers are particularly effective with light weapons. The swashbuckler gets Weapon Finesse as a bonus feat.
At 2nd level, the swashbuckler learns how to exploit an opening, dealing extra damage. The swashbuckler may thrust whenever his opponent is denied her Dexterity bonus to her armor class (whether the target actually has a Dexterity bonus or not) or when he flanks his opponent. This extra damage is indicated on Table: Swashbuckler. Should the swashbuckler score a critical hit with a thrust, this extra damage is not multiplied.
At 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter, the swashbuckler gains a bonus feat from the following list:
Blind-Fight, Catch Off-Guard, Combat Expertise, Combat Reflexes, Dazzling Display, Deadly Stroke, Double Slice, Greater Two-Weapon Fighting, Greater Weapon Focus, Greater Weapon Specialization, Improved Disarm, Improved Critical, Improved Feint, Improved Initiative, Improved Trip, Improved Two-Weapon Fighting, Improved Vital Strike, Improvised Weapon Mastery, Intimidating Prowess, Lightning Stance, Mobility, Quick Draw, Spring Attack,Throw Anything, Two-Weapon Defense, Two-Weapon Fighting, Two-Weapon Rend, Vital Strike, Weapon Focus, Weapon Specialization, Whirlwind Attack, Wind Stance.
The swashbuckler must meet all prerequisites in order to select a bonus feat.
At 5th level the swashbuckler is adept at avoiding unusual attacks. If he makes a successful Reflex saving throw against an attack that normally deals half damage on a successful save, he instead takes no damage. Evasion can only be used if the swashbuckler is wearing light or no armor. A helpless swashbuckler does not gain the benefit of evasion.
At 7th level the swashbuckler’s uncanny ability to dodge is honed to the point where he can no longer be flanked.
At 8th level, the swashbuckler increases his threat range by one when using any melee weapon with which he has Weapon Finesse. A weapon that would threaten a critical on 20 would now do so on a 19 or 20, and one which threatens on a 19 or 20 would now do so on an 18 to 20. This ability works with other abilities which increase threat ranges.
At 10th level, the swashbuckler’s evasion improves. In addition to taking no damage on successful saves, the swashbuckler now takes only half damage on failed saves.
At 13th level, the swashbuckler may use any weapon covered under the Weapon Finesse feat to deflect ranged attacks. This ability functions exactly as the feat of the same name, except that the swashbuckler uses a weapon instead of his bare hands.
At 16th level, the swashbuckler becomes even more adept at finding marks. The threat range now improves by two when the swashbuckler uses his Find the Mark ability.
Instead of receiving an additional skill rank or hit point whenever they gain a level in a Favored Class, some races have the option of choosing from a number of other bonuses, depending upon their Favored Classes. The following options are available to the listed race who have swashbuckler as their Favored Class, and unless otherwise stated, the bonus applies each time you select the listed Favored Class reward.
When a character selects a class, he must choose to use the standard class features found or those listed in one of the archetypes presented here. Each alternate class feature replaces a specific class feature from its parent class. For example, the elemental fist class feature of the monk of the four winds replaces the stunning fist class feature of the monk. When an archetype includes multiple class features, a character must take all of them—often blocking the character from ever gaining certain familiar class features, but replacing them with equally powerful options. All of the other class features found in the core class and not mentioned among the alternate class features remain unchanged and are acquired normally when the character reaches the appropriate level (unless noted otherwise). A character who takes an alternate class feature does not count as having the class feature that was replaced when meeting any requirements or prerequisites.
A character can take more than one archetype and garner additional alternate class features, but none of the alternate class features can replace or alter the same class feature from the core class as another alternate class feature. For example, a paladin could not be both a hospitaler and an undead scourge since they both modify the smite evil class feature and both replace the aura of justice class feature. A paladin could, however, be both an undead scourge and a warrior of the holy light, since none of their new class features replace the same core class feature.
Archetypes are a quick and easy way to specialize characters of a given class, adding fun and flavorful new abilities to already established adventurers. Characters may take more than one archetype if they meet the requirements.