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.

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.

.nobrtable br { display: none }

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
.nobrtable br { display: none }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 Squire
2 2,500 2 +0 15 Scutifer
3 5,000 3 +1 14 Banneret
4 10,000 4 +2 13 Gallant
5 20,000 5 +2 12 Companion
6 40,000 6 +3 11 Knight
7 80,000 7 +4 10 Paragon
8 160,000 8 +5 9 Peer
9 320,000 9 +6 8 Paladin
10 440,000 +3 hp
+7 7 Paladin
11 560,000 +6 hp
+7 6 Paladin
12 680,000 +9 hp
+8 5 Paladin

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.

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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

On Barbarians and Bards

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

The Barbarian Sub-Class
The barbarian is a sub-class of fighting-man. Where fighting-men rely on training and skill to win the day, the barbarian uses ferocity and instinct. Most barbarians are members of uncivilized tribes of humans, demi-humans or humanoids. “Civilized” barbarians can represent men and women with hair-trigger tempers and a zest for violence.

  • Prime Attributes: Strength & Constitution, 13+ (+5% experience)
  • Hit Dice: 1d12/level (Gains 5 hp/level after 10th.)
  • Armor/Shield Permitted: Leather, padded, ring and shields.
  • Weapons Permitted: Any.

Attacks from the flank receive no bonus to hit a barbarian. Bonuses for attacks against a barbarian’s back are halved.

Barbarians mistrust the doings of magic-users and illusionists. When presented with displays of such magic they must succeed at a saving throw or be stunned with fear for 1 round.

At third level, the barbarian can go berserk in combat, gaining a +2 bonus to hit and damage, but suffering a -2 penalty to her armor class. The barbarian’s berserk fury lasts for a number of rounds equal to 1 + the barbarian’s level. While in her rage, the barbarian focuses on her foes until they are dead. If her rage continues after her foes are gone, she will attack her nearest ally unless she makes a successful saving throw. This ability can be used whenever the barbarian engages in combat.

At fifth level, a barbarian can continue to fight after losing all of her hit points if she is in a berserk fury. When the berserk fury ends, the barbarian succumbs to death.

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Level Experience Hit Dice Attack Save Title
1 0 1 +0 17 Tribesman
2 2,100 2 +1 16 Savage
3 4,700 3 +2 15 Plunderer
4 9,400 4 +3 14 Raider
5 20,000 5 +4 13 Reaver
6 40,000 6 +5 12 Shield-Biter
7 80,000 7 +6 11 Berserker
8 160,000 8 +7 10 Conqueror
9 320,000 9 +8 9 Barbarian Prince
10 600,000 10 +9 8 Barbarian Prince
11 800,000 +5 hp
+10 7 Barbarian Prince
12 1,000,000 +10 hp
+11 6 Barbarian Prince

S&W Format
.nobrtable br { display: none }Hit Dice: 1d6+3 per level, +3 hit points per level after level 9
Armor Permitted: Leather, ring and shields

Level Experience Hit Dice Attack Save Title
1 0 1 +0 15 Tribesman
2 2,500 2 +0 14 Savage
3 5,000 3 +1 13 Plunderer
4 10,000 4 +2 12 Raider
5 20,000 5 +2 11 Reaver
6 40,000 6 +3 10 Shield-Biter
7 80,000 7 +4 9 Berserker
8 160,000 8 +5 8 Conqueror
9 320,000 9 +6 7 Barbarian Prince
10 440,000 +3 hp
+7 6 Barbarian Prince
11 560,000 +6 hp
+7 5 Barbarian Prince
12 680,000 +9 hp
+8 4 Barbarian Prince

The Bard Sub-Class
The bard is a sub-class of fighting-man, a warrior-poet whose music works magic. Bards are usually charismatic rogues, stealing hearts as readily as they cross steel. They are walking repositories of legends and stories. Their music is capable of stiffening the resolve of comrades, lulling guards into a daze, or charming lads and lasses.

  • Prime Attributes: Intelligence & Charisma, 13+ (+5% experience)
  • Hit Dice: 1d10/level (Gains 4 hp/level after 10th.)
  • Armor/Shield Permitted: Leather, padded, ring, shield.
  • Weapons Permitted: Bows, club, dagger, dart, hand axe, mace, war hammer, javelin, long sword, short sword, sling, spear, and staff.

Bards can decipher and interpret legends and secret writings by making an saving throw modified by their intelligence bonus/penalty. This includes unfamiliar languages, codes and incomplete messages. Bards can also use this ability to decipher and then cast spells from arcane scrolls, though the intelligence saving throw to do so is made at a penalty equal to the level of the spell being cast.

By playing music, singing or reciting heroic verse, bards can inspire listeners to surpass their normal level of performance, granting allies a +1 bonus to all saving throws for a number of rounds equal to the bard’s level. A bard can do this a number of times per day equal to their level. The bonus imparted increases with the bard’s level, to +2 at sixth level and +3 at twelfth level.

With a successful saving throw, a bard acquires or remembers some information pertaining to local notables, a legendary item, a noteworthy place or any other relevant bit of information. Acquiring the information may involve speaking to the locals or doing research in a library. It can also lead to a partial or complete understanding of a local or secret language, including the thieves’ cant, the secret language of druids or the trail signs of rangers. This ability cannot reveal the exact powers of a magic item, but may give a hint to its history, general function or activation. The Referee may make the saving throw harder based on the obscurity of the knowledge.

At fourth level, a bard gains the ability to place a single creature into a trance with a performance. The bard can use this ability three times per day, and can maintain the effect for a number of rounds equal to the character’s level.

When attempting to fascinate, the target makes a saving throw to resist. If the saving throw fails, the creature sits quietly and listens to the bard for the duration of the effect. While fascinated, the creature is considered prone and suffers a -4 penalty to saving throws and armor class. If the creature’s saving throw succeeds, the bard cannot attempt to fascinate that creature again for 24 hours. Any obvious threat to the fascinated creature, such as the casting of a spell, drawing a sword, or aiming of a weapon, automatically breaks the effect.

At fifth level, the bard may attempt to charm (as the spell charm person) a fascinated creature. At eighth level, the bard may attempt to implant a suggestion (as the spell) in a fascinated creature. At twelfth level, a bard may attempt to instill antipathy/sympathy (as the spell) on a fascinated creature. In each case, the creature receives an additional saving throw to resist the additional effect.

The number of creatures the bard can fascinate at once is equal to two less than the level of the bard. Thus, a fourth level bard can fascinate two creatures, a sixth level bard can fascinate 4 creatures and a twelfth level bard can fascinate 10 creatures.

At ninth level, a bard can inspire heroism in one other creature. For every two levels the bard attains beyond ninth level, the bard can inspire heroism in one additional creature. To inspire heroism, the bard must use song, poetry or some sort of oration. A creature inspired gains a +2 bonus to attacks and saving throws and +2 hit points per level for one minute.

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Level Experience Hit Dice Attack Save Title
1 0 1 +0 18 Dilettante
2 1,500 2 +1 17 Raconteur
3 3,250 3 +2 16 Jongleur
4 7,500 4 +3 15 Versifer
5 15,000 5 +4 14 Goliard
6 30,000 6 +5 13 Poet
7 60,000 7 +6 12 Minstral
8 120,000 8 +7 11 Troubadour
9 240,000 9 +8 10 Meistersinger
10 450,000 10 +9 9 Meistersinger
11 625,000 +4 hp
+10 8 Meistersinger
12 800,000 +8 hp
+11 7 Meistersinger

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 Dilettante
2 1,700 2 +0 15 Raconteur
3 3,400 3 +1 14 Jongleur
4 6,800 4 +2 13 Versifer
5 13,600 5 +2 12 Goliard
6 25,000 6 +3 11 Poet
7 50,000 7 +4 10 Minstral
8 100,000 8 +5 9 Troubadour
9 200,000 9 +6 8 Meistersinger
10 320,000 +3 hp
+7 7 Meistersinger
11 440,000 +6 hp
+7 6 Meistersinger
12 560,000 +9 hp
+8 5 Meistersinger

On 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.

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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.

.nobrtable br { display: none }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