Fighter Moves – a Feat Hack

Found at Wikipedia

Anyone who regularly reads this blog knows that I like taking existing mechanics from the SRD and playing around with them. Today, while I was working on the NOD Companion (on the illusionist class renamed as the trickster) an idea for messing with combat feats popped into my head. The idea is based on the excellent maneuver concept in the Dragonfist RPG.

Basically, I took each of the combat feats and assigned it a level from 1 to 5 based on how many prerequisite feats it had. I then used the bard spells per day table as a guide for the number of fighter moves a fighter could perform each day of each level. I suppose other fighting classes could use this as well, perhaps as a fighter one level lower.

Fighters should begin the game knowing two moves, and then gain a new move at each level, choosing from any level of moves they have available to them based on their own level. One could also use the spell research rules to allow fighters to invent new moves.

The list of moves follows – note that it’s extremely spare at 4th and 5th levels – I suppose I could do some open content feat research and flesh it out, but for my purposes of exploring the idea and presenting it to folks who might want to use it, this will do.

The rules – well, on his turn, a fighter could perform a move in addition to attacking. Simple as that. If the move is an action – such as cleave – assume it is “instantaneous”. If the move involves a static bonus – such as weapon focus – then it lasts for a number of rounds equal to the fighter’s level. Simple and straight-forward, and thus there are probably all sorts of holes in it. Again, this is an exploration, not a full-blown system.


1st level
1. Blind-Fight
2. Combat Expertise
3. Combat Reflexes
4. Dodge
5. Improved Critical
6. Improved Initiative
7. Improved Shield Bash
8. Improved Unarmed Strike
9. Mounted Combat
10. Point Blank Shot
11. Power Shot
12. Quick Shot
13. Rapid Reload
14. Two-Weapon Fighting
15. Weapon Finesse
16. Weapon Focus

2nd level
1. Cleave
2. Deflect Arrows
3. Diehard
4. Far Shot
5. Greater Weapon Focus
6. Improved Bull Rush
7. Improved Disarm
8. Improved Feint
9. Improved Grapple
10. Improved Overrun
11. Improved Sunder
12. Improved Trip
13. Improved Two-Weapon Fighting
14. Mobility
15. Mounted Archery
16. Precise Shot
17. Rapid Shot
18. Ride-By Attack
19. Stunning Fist
20. Trample
21. Two-Weapon Defense
22. Weapon Specialization

3rd level
1. Great Cleave
2. Greater Two-Weapon Fighting
3. Greater Weapon Specialization
4. Improved Precise Shot
5. Manyshot
6. Snatch Arrows
7. Spirited Charge
8. Spring Attack

4th level
1. Shot on the Run

5th level
1. Whirlwind Attack

A Bevy of Bujin

As regular readers know, my Mu-Pan hexcrawl is based on Mike Davison’s excellent Ruins and Ronin ruleset (and by reading this sentence, you are now contractually obligated to go buy it – sorry, the law’s the law).

R-n-R is, in turn, based on Swords and Wizardry White Box, so it keeps things simple. There are four classes – Bujin (fighting-man), Sohei (cleric), Shugenja (magic-user) and Half-Ogre. In addition, Mike has released the Ninja, Kensai, Headhunter and Henyeyokai classes on his blog. The bujin is, essentially, a samurai that can make use of the heaviest armor in the game and any weapon.

Unfortunately, Mu-Pan is based as much on China as Japan, and that leaves a few gaps where fighting-men are concerned, primarily in the form of the shaolin monk. Of course, there’s a perfectly good monk in NOD 1 and S-n-W Complete, but I decided I wanted to minimize reliance on other rulebooks when writing Mu-Pan. Besides which, there are some important differences in terms of Hit Dice between White Box, Core and Complete. To that end, I came up with this little system for modifying the existing bujin to model different kinds of Asian warriors, from wandering swordsmen to fighting monks to members of dart bureaus.

Keep in mind, this is a rough draft. I’d love to hear comments on the concept.

The bujin as written is designed to be a heavily armored warrior, serving on the front lines of an adventuring band, his o-yoroi armor deflecting deadly blows while his flashing katanas cut down foe after foe. This is a fine archetype of Asian fighting prowess, but it stands at almost the opposite end of the spectrum from Asia’s other great fighting archetype – the unarmed martial artist. To model your bujin as something other than a samurai, this houserule permits you to reduce your allowable armor in return for a special ability. The less armor you are permitted (and thus the more damage you’re likely to take in combat), the more special abilities you can have.

Maximum Armor Bonus | Special Abilities
+0 | 4
+2 | 3
+4 | 2
+6 | 1

Special Abilities

Combat Sense – You are normally surprised on a roll of 1 on 1d8 and can make a saving throw to avoid back stabs from ninjas and thieves.

Deflect Missiles – Once per round, you can make a saving throw to avoid an otherwise successful missile attack.

Estimate Foe – For each round you do not attack your opponent, you gain a +1 bonus to hit, Armor Class and damage for the remainder of the combat against that opponent.

Headlong Charge – You run at an opponent or ride at an opponent and attempt a single attack at a +2 bonus to hit along the way. You must run at least 20 feet to use this ability, and you suffer a -2 penalty to your AC during any round in which you make a headlong charge.

Fists of Iron – Your unarmed attacks do 1d6-1 (1d4) points of damage.

Flurry of Blows – You can make one attack against a secondary opponent every other round.

Iron Hold – With a successful attack you wrap your opponent up using your arms and even legs; equivalent of a hold person spell until your opponent makes a successful saving throw (penalty equal to difference between your strength and their strength). If your attack fails, you suffer a 1 point penalty to Armor Class until your next turn.

Ki Shout – You harness all your power and put it into a single melee attack, gaining a +2 bonus to damage if you hit. You can unleash a ki shout only once per day.

Mighty Leap – You can make a 6 foot horizontal and 3 foot vertical leap if heavy encumbered, 8 foot / 4 foot leaps if lightly encumbered and 10 foot / 5 foot leaps if unencumbered.

Mounted Archery – You suffer no penalties to firing a bow from an unsteady platform, like a boat, horse, flying carpet, etc.

Parry Blows – You can trade an attack during a round for a +1 bonus to your AC or the AC of a creature or object no more than 3 feet away from you.

Parry Death Blow – Once per combat you can make a saving throw to retain 1 hp when a successful blow would otherwise have killed you.

Swift Motion – You roll a separate initiative from your group, and may take whichever initiative roll is better. Your movement rate is also increased by three.

Image by Wayne Reynolds via Paizo. I’m a WAR junkie, so when I saw this image pop up today on their blog, I had to appropriate it.

Monks and Swashbucklers

This post will finish my posting of the hybrid “fighting-man” classes I was using in my last game, and it involves the oft-maligned monk. Now, I grant you that the monks as presented by Gygax lo those many years ago do not fit into a medieval milieu. On the one hand, I want to say – who cares? I run my games for fun, not verisimilitude. On the other hands, lots of folks do want their games to make sense and stick to a sort of “reality”. For those folks, allow me to suggest that the monk is still a usable class. The trick is to ignore the name and the “fluff” and just look at the game stats. What you have is a non-armored combatant who is quick and generally hard to kill. In other words, a very acceptable way to emulate a swashbuckler or two-fisted pulp adventurer. Heck, I’ve even used the class to stat out Popeye (don’t ask). So, before you relegate the monk (or any other class) to the dustbin, think about how you can adapt the flavor to the mechanics.

The following content is Open Game Content.

The Monk Sub-Class
The monk is a sub-class of fighting-man. Monks train themselves in the unarmed martial arts, including wrestling. They develop lightning fast reflexes and iron wills. Most monks are trained in special monasteries, but some simply apprentice themselves to a fighting master. Different masters and monasteries use different techniques, and they (and their students) are often quite competitive.

  • Prime Attributes: Strength & Constitution, 13+ (+5% experience)
  • Hit Dice: 1d12/level (Gains 5 hp/level after 10th.)
  • Armor/Shield Permitted: None.
  • Weapons Permitted: Any.

A monk’s unarmed attack inflict 1d4 points of damage at level 1, 1d6 points of damage at level 2, 1d8 points of damage at level 5 and 1d10 points of damage at level 9.

At level 6, a monk can make a second unarmed strike each round. The secondary strike’s damage begins at 1d4 and improves to 1d6 at level 9.

Monks improve their unarmored AC by +1 at levels 2, 5, 8 and 12.

A monk’s movement improves by +1 at each level. A monk carrying a medium or heavy load loses this extra speed.

A level 1 monk can use a stunning attack once per round, and no more than once per level per day. The monk must declare its use before making an attack roll. A missed attack roll ruins the attempt, and counts towards the monk’s limitation. A foe successfully struck by the monk is forced to make a saving throw. Those struck by a stunning attack always take normal unarmed attack damage, but a failed saving throw results in the foe being stunned and unable to act for 1d4 combat rounds.

At level 2, monks gain the ability to deflect arrows and other non-magical missiles. The monk must have at least one hand empty to use this ability. When a character would normally be hit by a ranged weapon, the character may make a saving throw. If the saving throw succeeds, the monk deflects the weapon and suffers no damage. This can be done once a round at levels 2-6, and twice at levels 7-11 and three times at 12th level. The monk must be aware of the attack to use this ability. An attempt to deflect a weapon counts as the monk’s primary unarmed attack. If a monk is high enough level to have a secondary unarmed attack, the monk may still make the secondary attack. This ability cannot be used against siege weapon ammunition.

At level 3, a monk’s unarmed attack can deal damage to creatures only harmed by +1 magic weapons. A level 5 monk can damage creatures only harmed by +2 or better magic weapons. A level 8 monk can damage creatures only harmed by +3 or better magic weapons, and level 12 monks can damage creatures only harmed by +4 or better magic weapons.

At level 4, a falling monk takes damage as if a fall were 20 feet shorter than it actually is, but must be within 10 feet of a vertical surface that he or she can use to slow the decent.

At level 6, a monk can feign death for a number of turns equal to the character’s level.

At level 7, a monk’s naturally healing increases to 2 hp per day.

At level 12, the monk gains the fabled quivering palm attack. The monk can use this attack once per week. The attack must be announced before an attack roll is made. The monk must be of higher level than the target. If the monk strikes successfully and the target takes damage from the monk’s unarmed attack, the quivering palm succeeds. Thereafter, the monk can choose to try to slay the victim at any later time within 1 round per level of the monk. The monk merely wills the target to die, and the victim makes a constitution saving throw to avoid this fate.

This attack has no effect on undead or creatures that can only be struck by magical weapons, unless the monk is able to inflict damage on such a creature.

The Swashbuckler: If you don’t think that a kung-fu-style monk fits into your campaign, you can rebrand the class as a swashbuckler. In this case, the monk’s “unarmed attacks” are instead made with long sword (rapier) and dagger, and only with these two weapons. The stunning attack can represent a dizzying flourish of arms or a pommel guard to the head. The quivering palm can be renamed “the lunge”, representing that moment when the swashbuckler stabs his foe, who then staggers about for a moment before expiring with a look of disbelief in his eyes.

Level Experience Hit Dice Attack Save Title
1 0 1 +0 16 Postulant
2 1,750 2 +1 15 Novice
3 4,000 3 +2 14 Brother
4 8,500 4 +3 13 Cenobite
5 20,000 5 +4 12 Mendicant
6 40,000 6 +5 11 Monk
7 80,000 7 +6 10 Canon
8 160,000 8 +7 9 Prior
9 325,000 9 +8 8 Abbott
10 550,000 10 +9 7 Abbott
11 750,000 +5 hp
+10 6 Abbott
12 1,250,000 +10 hp
+11 5 Abbott

S&W Format

Hit Dice: 1d6+3 per level, +3 hit points per level after level 9

Level Experience Hit Dice Attack Save Title
1 0 1 +0 14 Postulate
2 2,900 2 +0 13 Novice
3 5,800 3 +1 12 Brother
4 11,600 4 +2 11 Cenobite
5 23,200 5 +2 10 Mendicant
6 45,000 6 +3 9 Monk
7 90,000 7 +4 8 Canon
8 180,000 8 +5 7 Prior
9 360,000 9 +6 6 Abbot
10 480,000 +3 hp
+7 5 Abbot
11 600,000 +6 hp
+7 4 Abbot
12 720,000 +9 hp
+8 3 Abbot

Art by Alison Acton

On Doughty Woodsmen and Knights in Shining Armor

This post continues the look at the hybrid character classes I used in my last campaign, featuring the ranger and paladin. What follows is open game content.

The Paladin Sub-Class
The paladin is a sub-class of fighting-man. Paladins are chivalrous champions of Law and Goodness. They might resemble the “knights in shining armor” of fairy tales or perhaps the rigid, honorable samurai of Japan. The point of paladins is purity. They do their best to remain mentally, spiritually and physically pure. From this dedication and the iron will required to maintain it, they derive a number of blessings to aid them in their struggle against Chaos and Evil.

  • Prime Attributes: Strength & Charisma, 13+ (+5% experience)
  • Hit Dice: 1d10/level (Gains 4 hp/level after 10th.)
  • Armor/Shield Permitted: Any.
  • Weapons Permitted: Any.

Paladins can detect evil (as the cleric spell) by concentrating. They emanate a permanent aura that protects them as per the spell protection from evil.

Paladins are immune to all diseases, including mummy rot and lycanthropy. Their touch can cure disease (as the cleric spell) once per week at level 1, twice per week at level 6 and three times per week at level 12.

A paladin can cure 2 hp per level by laying on of hands. This can be used on the paladin or on others, and the healing can be divided among recipients as the paladin chooses.

At level 3, a paladin gains the ability to banish undead as a cleric two levels lower.

At level 4, the paladin gains the service of a divine warhorse (or other mount) if he successfully completes a quest to locate the animal. The divine mount is unusually strong, loyal, and ready to serve the paladin in her crusade against evil. Should the paladin’s mount die, a year and a day must pass before another can be called. When riding their divine mount, a paladin gains the mounted combat ability (see Boons).

  • Divine Warhorse: HD 5; AC 6 [13]; Atk 1 bite (1d3), 2 hooves (1d4); Move 18; Save 12; Special: None.

Upon reaching level 6, a paladin becomes immune to fear, natural or supernatural. Allies within 10 feet of the paladin gain a +2 bonus on saving throws against fear effects.

Once per day, a paladin of level 9 or higher may attempt to smite evil with one normal melee attack. Smite evil gives the paladin a +2 bonus to hit, and a bonus to damage equal to the paladin’s level. This ability can only be used on supernatural creature of darkness an evil, such as anti-paladins, demons or the undead. The paladin can attempt to smite evil once per day.

At level 12, a paladin’s touch is capable of removing all ailments from a creature, including disease, poison, ability score damage, level drain, hit point damage, confusion, curses and insanity. The paladin can apply this healing touch but once per day.

Level Experience Hit Dice Attack Save Title
1 0 1 +0 18 Squire
2 2,700 2 +1 17 Scutifer
3 5,500 3 +2 16 Banneret
4 12,000 4 +3 15 Gallant
5 24,000 5 +4 14 Companion
6 48,000 6 +5 13 Knight
7 95,000 7 +6 12 Paragon
8 180,000 8 +7 11 Peer
9 360,000 9 +8 10 Paladin
10 700,000 10 +9 9 Paladin
11 1,000,000 +4 hp
+10 8 Paladin
12 1,300,000 +8 hp
+11 7 Paladin

S&W Format

Hit Dice: 1d6+2 per level, +3 hit points per level after level 9

The Ranger Sub-Class
The ranger is a sub-class of fighting-man. Rangers are warriors trained to operate in the wilderness. They are self-sufficient, cunning and well trained at fighting the barbarian tribes (human, humanoid and otherwise) that lurk on the fringes of civilization.

  • Prime Attributes: Strength & Wisdom, 13+ (+5% experience)
  • Hit Dice: 1d10/level (Gains 4 hp/level after 10th.)
  • Armor/Shield Permitted: Chainmail, leather, padded, ring and shield.
  • Weapons Permitted: Any.

Rangers have a +1 bonus to surprise (i.e. surprise on a roll of 1-2 on 1d6) and a +1 bonus to avoid being surprised (i.e. surprised on a roll of 1 on 1d8).

When fighting tribal humanoids (bugbears, gnolls, goblins, hobgoblins, kobolds, orcs, and the like) or giants (giants, ogres, and the like), a ranger inflicts extra damage equal to their level.

With a successful saving throw, a ranger can find and follow a creature’s trail for 5 hours. When tracking humanoids or giants, the ranger does so at a +2 bonus. The ranger can also determine the approximate number of creatures and their type. Rangers can also use this ability to hide tracks.

Rangers have a 2 in 6 chance to notice traps and concealed openings in a natural surrounding merely by passing within 30 feet of them. They are also capable of disarming and building simple snares and pit traps (1d4 damage).

A ranger’s training includes learning how to survive in the wild, climb cliffs and trees, conceal themselves in natural environments, move silently in natural environments and concoct and counteract natural poisons. When a ranger’s success with one of these skills is in doubt, the player should roll a saving throw to avoid failure.

At level 6, a ranger chooses one specific type of creature (i.e. goblin, gnoll, or hill giant) as his favored enemy. The ranger gets a +2 bonus to hit his favored enemy and a +2 AC when fighting his favored enemy. Further, when tracking his favored enemy, a ranger receives a +2 bonus to the tracking save. The ranger is always able to neutralize poisons of the favored enemy, whether manufactured or natural.

Level Experience Hit Dice Attack Save Title
1 0 1 +0 18 Woodsman
2 2,250 2 +1 17 Scout
3 4,500 3 +2 16 Guide
4 9,000 4 +3 15 Wanderer
5 18,000 5 +4 14 Voyager
6 40,000 6 +5 13 Pathfinder
7 75,000 7 +6 12 Warden
8 150,000 8 +7 11 Hawkeye
9 250,000 9 +8 10 Ranger
10 500,000 10 +9 9 Ranger
11 725,000 +4 hp
+10 8 Ranger
12 950,000 +8 hp
+11 7 Ranger

S&W Format

Hit Dice: 1d6+2 per level, +3 hit points per level after level 9
Armor Permitted: Chainmail, leather, ring and shield.
Spellcasting: If you do not use a druid class, replace druid spells with cleric spells.

Level Experience Hit Dice Attack Save Title
1 0 1 +0 16 Woodsman
2 2,500 2 +0 15 Scout
3 5,000 3 +1 14 Guide
4 10,000 4 +2 13 Wanderer
5 20,000 5 +2 12 Voyager
6 40,000 6 +3 11 Pathfinder
7 80,000 7 +4 10 Warden
8 160,000 8 +5 9 Hawkeye
9 320,000 9 +6 8 Ranger
10 440,000 +3 hp
+7 7 Ranger
11 560,000 +6 hp
+7 6 Ranger
12 680,000 +9 hp
+8 5 Ranger

Art by N. C. Wyeth via Golden Age Comic Book Stories

The Fighting-Men of Nod

What follows is the fighting-man class I used for my last campaign. Nothing ground-breaking here, but I do include some original level titles that I’m pretty happy with. The following content is declared open game content.

You are a warrior, trained in battle and in the use of armor and weapons. Whatever type of fighting-man you choose to play, you will probably end up on the front lines of your adventuring party, going toe-to-toe with dragons, goblins, and evil cultists, hacking your way through them and taking the brunt of their attacks. The fighting-man character is best equipped of all the character classes to dish out damage and absorb it, too. Clerics heal, and magic-users cast spells, but the down-and-dirty hack and slash work is up to you. You’re going to serve as the party’s sword and shield, protecting the weaker party members and taking down the enemies before you. Perhaps one day they will tell legends of your battle prowess, and followers will flock to your castle stronghold where you revel in your fame, riches, and newly earned nobility. Fail, of course, and you’ll die, just another forgotten warrior in a dangerous world.

  • Prime Requisite: Strength, 13+ (+5% experience)
  • Hit Dice: 1d10/level (Gains 4 hp/level after 10th.)
  • Armor/Shield Permitted: Any.
  • Weapons Permitted: Any.

Against creatures with one hit dice, a fighting-man makes one attack per level each round.

Fighting-men may choose one weapon with which to specialize. Once a specialized weapon is chosen, it cannot be changed. For fighters between 1st and 6th level, this specialization imparts a +1 bonus to hit and a +1 bonus to damage using that weapon. At 7th level the bonuses increase to +2 to hit and +2 to damage.

At 10th level, a fighting-man can make two attacks per combat round against creatures with 2 or more Hit Dice.

Level Experience Hit Dice Attack Save Title
1 0 1 +1 18 Yeoman
2 2,000 2 +2 17 Warrior
3 4,000 3 +3 16 Champion
4 8,500 4 +4 15 Duelist
5 17,000 5 +5 14 Swashbuckler
6 34,000 6 +6 13 Grognard
7 68,000 7 +7 12 Freelance
8 136,000 8 +8 11 Hero
9 272,000 9 +9 10 Warlord
10 500,000 10 +10 9 Warlord
11 750,000 +4 hp
+11 8 Warlord
12 1,000,000 +8 hp
+12 7 Warlord

Note on Saving Throws: I should explain that in my hybrid game saving throws were modified by ability score bonuses/penalties. Thus, I would tell a player to make a “strength saving throw”, requiring them to modify their roll with their character’s strength bonus or penalty.

S&W Format
Hit Dice: 1d6+2 per level, +3 hit points per level after level 9

Level Experience Hit Dice Attack Save Title
1 0 1 +0 16 Yeoman
2 2,000 2 +0 15 Warrior
3 4,000 3 +1 14 Champion
4 8,000 4 +2 13 Duelist
5 16,000 5 +2 12 Swashbuckler
6 30,000 6 +3 11 Grognard
7 60,000 7 +4 10 Freelance
8 120,000 8 +5 9 Hero
9 240,000 9 +6 8 Warlord
10 360,000 +3 hp
+7 7 Warlord
11 480,000 +6 hp
+7 6 Warlord
12 600,000 +9 hp
+8 5 Warlord