Serpents and Sewers: Arts of War

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Arts of War

Arts of War are selectable class abilities of martial classes. They represent additional combat maneuvers, techniques and tricks a designated hero can learn. They are more exclusive than feats and often work best in combination with certain feats, but mostly they are meant as a collection of potential class features for very different martial characters.

The more focused a character class is on heroic swordplay and melee, the more Arts of War the class gains. The term 'fighter' used in the description of the different arts does not mean the (within Serpents and Sewers) obsolete class but any character who is qualified to take the Art of War. More about the use of Arts of War can be found in the Combat Rules chapter.

Simple Arts of War

  • Overcome Difficulty: Weapon Size (Ex) – the Fighter learns to make the most of powerful swings, regardless of the weapon or weapons he is wielding. When using the Power Attack feat, the fighter may add one and a half times the number subtracted from his attack rolls (rounded down) to the damage of a one-handed weapon and one-half times the number subtracted from his attack rolls (rounded down) to the damage of a light weapon.
  • Fléche (Ex) – when charging, the Fighter does not provoke any attacks of opportunity.
  • Overcome Limitation: Size (Ex)– the Fighter may receive or increase size bonuses (but not penalties), except those to physical attributes, or reduce size penalties (without affecting bonuses), as though he was one size category smaller or larger than he is, at will; he may switch from one to the other as an immediate action. This Art does not permit him to use weapons sized for creatures of a size category different from his own without penalty.
  • Expert Flanker (Ex): if the Fighter and an ally are both threatening a creature, they are considered to be flanking it. The fighter may provide flanking to more than one ally in this way, but he only receives the normal +2 flanking bonus, regardless.
  • Overcome Obstacle: Terrain (Ex) – the Fighter may treat difficult terrain as though it was regular terrain, thus being subject to none of the limitations of or penalties applied to creatures in difficult terrain.
  • Disciplined Will (Ex) – the Fighter battles mental influences fiercely; when he fails a saving throw against a mind-affecting spell or effect, the effect is delayed by a round—it does not apply until the same point during the following round. This does not count against the effect’s duration.
  • Battle Learning: Magic (Ex) – the Fighter studies spellcasting enemies, allies, or both, learning to identify their spells so that he can better deal with them. He adds half his class levels, rounded up, as a competence bonus on Spellcraft and Knowledge: Arcana checks, but only in regards to spells being cast.
  • Battle Learning: Alertness (Ex) – the Fighter trains to hear and notice things others might overlook, the better to see his enemy coming to stand guard over his sleeping companions. He adds half his class levels, rounded up, as a competence bonus on Spot and Listen checks.
  • Battle Learning: Acrobatics (Ex) – the Fighter trains to perform feats of acrobatics and mobility in battle and other situations while armored. His armor check penalty does not apply to his Jump, Balance, Tumble, and Climb skills.
  • Bodyguard (Ex): As a swift action, if the fighter is within 5 ft. of any ally who takes damage from an attack, he can take all the damage and all associated effects instead. In addition, he gains DR 2/- against only this damage.
  • Weapon Aptitude (Ex) – the Fighter has the flexibility to adjust his weapon training. He can spend 8 hours in weapon practice to change the designated weapon for any feat he has that applies only to a single weapon (such as Weapon Focus). He must have the newly designated weapon available during his practice session to make this change. For example, if he wishes to change the designated weapon for his Weapon Focus feat from greatsword to longsword, he must have a longsword available to practice with during his practice session. He can adjust any number of his feats in this way, and he doesn't have to adjust them all in the same way. However, he can't change the weapon choices in such a way that he no longer meets the prerequisite for some other feat he possesses. For instance, if he has both Weapon Focus (longsword) and Weapon Specialization (longsword), he can't change the designated weapon for Weapon Focus unless he also changes the weapon for Weapon Specialization in the same way.
  • Overcome Obstacle: Divided Grasp (Ex) - When the Fighter is fighting with a separate object (either a weapon or shield) in each hand, he applies a +1 bonus to hit with all attacks made with those objects, and +1 to the Defense bonus from any shield wielded.
  • Improve Resistance: (Ex) - The Fighter who takes this Art gains a +1 bonus to all his saving throws. This art can be taken more than once.
  • Overcome Obstacle: Distance (Ex) - The Fighters primary move ability improves by ten feet. His Swim speed (if possible) also improves by 5 feet.
  • Overcome Obstacle: Breaking (Ex) - The Fighter gains a +3 bonus to all rolls to break objects. Any roll made against a Break DC gains the above bonus, which stacks with all other bonuses.
  • Strong Back (ex): The fighter is used to carry heavy loads that would reduce others to exhausted wracks. The fighter can add his Constitution modifier to his strength score to determine how much equipment he can carry.


Advanced Arts of War

  • Armored Mobility (Ex): A fighter who takes this Art treats any heavy armor he wears as medium and medium armor as light for purposes of determining his speed and running capabilities. This does not stack with the abilities of mithral armor or any other similar effects.
  • Charging Pounce (Ex) – the Fighter may make a full attack on a charge. If he has the ability to transfer the to-hit penalty from Power Attack to his AC, he may not use it with Charging Pounce.
  • Overcome Influence – Wind (Ex) – the Fighter has learned to compensate for the wind when he shoots a bow; he may treat wind force as two categories lower (i.e. Severe instead of Hurricane) when determining how they affect his ranged attacks, and may fire arrows or bolts through a Wind Wall spell or equivalent effect as though they were any other normal ranged weapon.
  • Overcome Limitation: Reach (Ex) – the Fighter trains to attack while positioning, lunge, and fight in close quarters. As a swift action, the Fighter may increase his reach by 5 feet for one round. A Fighter wielding a reach weapon may also take an immediate action to decrease his reach, allowing him to threaten as though he were not wielding a reach weapon. While his reach is increased or decreased, the Fighter takes a –2 penalty to AC. The fighter may restore his reach to normal as an immediate action.
  • Overcome Obstacle: Distance (Ex) – the Fighter may charge greater distances, moving up to three times his speed on a charge rather than up to two.
  • Strike: Arm Strike (Ex): Targeting on the opponent’s weapon arm, this strike is meant to disable the opponent instead of killing him. The attack roll suffers from a –4 penalty, but if it hits the victim must make a Fortitude save (DC = the attack’s damage) or suffer from 1d2 points of Strength damage and an additional –1 penalty to all attack rolls with this arm. Spellcasters suffer additionally from a –1 penalty to all casting rolls for spells with somatic components. The effects of several Arm Strikes stack.
  • Strike: Leg Strike (Ex): The fighter targets his opponent’s legs for his next attack, suffering from a –4 penalty to the attack roll. If the attack still succeeds, the victim must make a Fortitude save (DC = the attack’s damage) or suffer from 1d2 points of Dexterity damage and a -5 feet penalty to their base speed until the ability damage is healed. The effects of several Leg Strikes stack.
  • Strike: On the short rips (Ex): The fighter learns to target his opponent’s ribcage to press the air out of his lungs. This strike requires an attack roll with a –4 penalty. If the attack hits, the target must make a Fortitude save (DC = the attack’s damage) or become fatigued until the damage is cured.
  • Strike: Shove them out of Balance (Ex): The fighter has learned to hit his opponent in a way that sends them stumbling around, long enough for a deadly opening in his opponent’s defense. This strike requires an attack roll with a –4 penalty. If the attack hits, the target must make a Reflex save (DC = the attack’s damage) or become flat-footed until the end of the next turn.
  • Strike: Wounding Attack (Ex): This attack is targeted to the victim’s torso and leads to nasty wounds or can even injure the victim’s vital organs. This attack requires a –4 penalty to the attack roll. If the attack hits, the victim must make a Fortitude save (DC = the attack’s damage). If the Save fails, the victim suffers from 1d3 points of Constitution damage. Wounding Attack only works against living targets; undeads and constructs are unaffected by the strike (they still take the normal damage, though).
  • Tactical Awareness (Ex) – the Fighter learns to be aware of the precise details of the battlefield positions of those around him, gaining the ability to pinpoint the unseen. He gains Blindsense 30’ when in combat, which becomes Blindsight 50’ at level 15; however, any creature that has taken no actions on its last round can not be detected by this Blindsense or Blindsight. While the Fighter’s sight or hearing is impaired, such as if he is Blinded, Deafened, in the area of effect of a Darkness spell, he loses his Blindsense; at level 15, his Blindsight is reduced to Blindsense, instead.
  • Heart of Battle (Ex) – the Fighter is hardened against the horror and din of battle and the debilitating effects of spells. He becomes Sickened instead of Nauseated, Shaken instead of Frightened, Frightened instead of Panicked, Stunned instead of Paralyzed, Dazed instead of Stunned or Cowering, Staggered instead of Dazed, Fatigued instead of Exhausted, Ability Damaged instead of Ability Drained, and Fascinated instead of Confused. If something would normally inflict the Shaken, Fatigued, or Sickened conditions on him, the Fighter remains unaffected. All such conditions retain their normal durations, and the fighter may only mitigate or negate a number of conditions equal to 3+his Constitution bonus, if any, at a time.
  • Spell-Shattering Strike (Su) – the Fighter has fought wizards and learned the power of their spells—and how to combat it. He may forego the damage on any attack he makes to strip away a spell currently in effect on the target; if he succeeds on an opposed caster level check, substituting his base attack bonus for his caster level (normally 0), he may dispel a single spell currently in effect on his target. If the fighter is wielding a weapon made of Cold Iron, he receives a +5 circumstance bonus on this check. At level 15, he may also make a single attack as a full-round action, and if it hits, he may attempt to dispel all spells currently on the target instead of doing damage; to do this, he must succeed on a check of 1d20+class level+5 opposed by a caster level check from the caster of the spell for each spell in effect on his target.
  • Willful Resistance (Ex) – the Fighter is a disciplined warrior who can use that discipline to batter through spells or effects that might harm them. As an immediate action, the Fighter can replace a single saving throw with a concentration check.
  • Basic Mastery: the Fighter may select three Arts of War from the Simple Arts of War list.
  • Overcome Obstacle: Disjoined Grips (Ex) - When the Fighter is fighting with a separate object (either a weapon or shield) in each hand, he applies a +1 bonus to hit with all attacks made with those objects, and +1 to the Defense Bonus from any shield wielded.
  • Improve Self: Mightiness (Ex) - The Fighter who takes this Art adds one point of Strength. A character may gain this Art multiple times. Its effects stack.
  • Improve Self: Fleetness (Ex) - The Fighter who takes this Art adds one point of Dexterity. A character may gain this Art multiple times. Its effects stack.
  • Improve Self: Solidity (Ex) - The Fighter who takes this Art adds one point of Constitution. A character may gain this Art multiple times. Its effects stack.
  • Overcome Obstacle: Breadth (Ex) – The Fighters primary move ability improves by twenty feet. His Swim speed (if possible) also improves by 10 feet. While this Art has no prerequisite, it's benefits do stack with the Simple Art: Overcome Obstacle: Distance for a total bonus of thirty feet of primary move and fifteen feet of Swim speed if both are taken.
  • Overcome Obstacle: Smashing (Ex) - The Fighter gains a +5 bonus to all rolls to break objects. Any roll made against a Break DC gains the above bonus, which stacks with all other bonuses.


Complex Arts of War

  • Overcome Difficulty: Weakness (Su) – the Fighter knows that his place is on his front line, and he pushes his body beyond its normal capabilities to stay there, come hells or high water. The Fighter automatically reduces any penalty (whether environment-based, magical, or other) applied to his attack rolls, ability scores, and saving throws while in combat by 3+his Constitution bonus, if any. He may only reduce a number of penalties equal to his Constitution bonus or 1, whichever is greater, at a time; however, he selects which penalties to apply the reduction to.
  • Tactical Reflexes (Ex) – the Fighter knows when to strike, lightning-fast, at a sudden opening; as an immediate action, he may take an attack action, even when it is not his turn.
  • Seize the Initiative (Ex) – even if initially surprised, the Fighter can react faster than almost anyone else. As a swift action, the fighter gains a competence bonus to initiative equal to his class level.
  • Overcome Limitation: Size Difference (Ex) – the Fighter has learned complex techniques that allow him to match strengths with or topple even enormous beasts. Any creature making an opposed check against the Fighter does not get to add size bonuses to its check. Additionally, the fighter may attempt to grapple creatures up to three size categories larger, instead of just one.
  • Overcome Obstacle: Bindings (Su) – the Fighter is capable of focusing his will and brushing aside anything holding him back. As a standard action, the Fighter may grant himself a Freedom of Movement (as per the spell) effect that lasts for a number of rounds equal to the fighter’s dexterity score.
  • Strike: Armbreaker (Ex) - This attack is targeted at the joints of the enemy’s arms, and renders the limb useless when it hits. The attack roll of an Armbreaker has a –6 penalty. If the attack hits, the Target must make a Fortitude Save (DC = the attack’s damage) or suffer from 1d6 points of Strength damage and an additional –2 penalty to attack rolls with this arm. Spellcasters suffer additionally from a –2 penalty to all casting rolls for spells with somatic components If the Save succeeds, the victim still suffers from one point of strength damage. If the fighter has the improved disarm feat, the fighter can combine the Armbreaker with a Disarm attempt. In this case, the attack penalty is reduced to –4.
  • Strike: Bleeding Cut (Ex) - When the fighter wields a slashing or piercing weapon, he can try to make flat and long cuts, which are not likely to kill his opponent immediately but will lead to significant blood loss. To make a bleeding cut, the attacker suffers from a –2 penalty to the attack roll and deals 2 points less of damage, when the attack hits. But the continuous bleeding, the victim loses one hitpoint per turn for 2d6 turns. Bleeding Cut only works against living targets; undeads and constructs are unaffected by the strike (they still take the normal damage, though).
  • Strike: Disemboweling Strike (Ex) - This strike is meant to kill and is specifically targeted on the vital organs of the victim to let it die from massive trauma or intern bleeding. The attack roll suffers from a –6 penalty, but if it hits, the victim must make a Fortitude save (DC = the attack’s damage) or suffer from 1d8 points of Constitution damage and is dazed for one turn. Even if the save succeeds, the victim still suffers from 1d3 points of Constitution damage. Disemboweling Strike only works against living targets; undeads and constructs are unaffected by the strike (they still take the normal damage, though).
  • Strike: Ear Pop (Ex) - The fighter strikes simultaneously on both ears of the victim, which builds up pressure within the ears that can lead to permanent damage and a concussion. The attack suffers from a –6 penalty to the attack roll, but if it succeeds, the victim must make a Fortitude save (DC = the attack’s damage) or becomes deaf until the damage is healed and dazed for one round. If the save succeeds, the victims is only deafened for one turn.
  • Strike: Eye Rake (Ex) - This Attack is targeted at the victim’s eyes and forhead and is meant to temporarily blind it through blood from an open face wound and trauma to the eyes themselves. The attack roll of an eye rake has a –8 penalty, but if the attack succeeds, the victim must make a Fortitude Save (DC = the attack’s damage) or becomes blinded for 1d6+1 turns. If the save succeeds, the cictim is dazzled for one turn.
  • Strike: Hamstring (Ex) - This Attack works similar but is more effective than the simple leg strike. The attack suffers from a–6 penalty to the attack roll. If the attack still hits, the victim must make a Fortitude save (DC = the attack’s damage) or suffers from 1d6 points of damage and a –10’ penalty to the base speed. If the Save succeeds, the victim still suffers from one point of dexterity damage. Hamstring can be combined with a trip attempt if the fighter has the Improved trip feat. In this case, the attack penalty is reduced to –4.
  • Strike: Painful Leash: (Ex) - This attack is meant to be as painful as possible and to let the fighter’s opponent suffer or even pass out from the pain. The fighter who wants to attack with a Painful Leash strike suffers from a –6 penalty to the attack roll, but if the attack hits the victim, it must make a Fortitude save (DC = the attack’s damage) or become sickened until the damage is healed. Painful Leash only works against living targets; undeads and constructs are unaffected by the strike (they still take the normal damage, though).
  • Strike: Ripbreaker (Ex) - This attack to the opponent’s breast is meant to shatter his rips and injure the lung to leave the victim breathless. The attack roll of an Ripbreaker has a –6 penalty, but if the attack hits, the Target must make a Fortitude Save (DC = the attack’s damage) or becomes exhausted until the damage is healed. If the Save succeeds, the target is only fatigued for 1d4 rounds.
  • Strike: Shattering Blow (Ex) – by focusing and making a single strike rather than several, the Fighter may inflict a devastating blow. As a full-round action, he may make a single attack that ignores the DR and hardness of its target and deals +10d6 damage, +1d6 for every two Fighter levels above 10th.
  • Strike: Templepunch (Ex) - This strike must be made with a bludgeoning weapon and is targeted on the enemy’s head. If it hits, it leads to significant bleeding and concussion. The fighter who wants to attack with a Templepunch strike suffers from a –6 penalty to the attack roll, but if the attack hits the target, the victim must make a Fortitude save (DC = the attack’s damage). If the save fails, the target is dazed for 1d4 rounds.
  • Mind of Battle (Ex) – the Fighter is an excellent judge of his own skill, and capable of continuously excellent performance. As an immediate action, the Fighter may “take 10” on any one attack roll, opposed check, or saving throw while in combat.
  • Tactical Positioning (Ex) – the Fighter has learned how to position himself while fighting; with each successful attack he makes, he may take a free five-foot step that does not count against his limit of one five-foot step per round. This ability applies once per successful attack roll made—if an ability allows the Fighter to make multiple attacks with a single attack roll (for example, the Manyshot feat), the Fighter receives a single five-foot step if the attack roll succeeds. The fighter may not move further than his current move speed with these five-foot steps.
  • Spell-Parrying Steel (Su) – the Fighter has dealt with enough spellcasters to learn to react to their spells—and send them hurtling back. When the fighter is the target of a ranged touch attack with a spell or spell-like ability and is wielding a magic weapon, he may, as an immediate action, make an attack roll (with a +5 circumstance bonus if the weapon he is parrying with is made of Cold Iron) versus a DC of 10+the spell’s caster level + the spellcaster’s casting ability modifier. If he succeeds, the spell is deflected and dissipates harmlessly as it rebounds off of the Fighter’s weapon.
  • Advanced Mastery – the Fighter may select two Arts of War from the Advanced Arts of War list.
  • Overcome Obstacle: Grasp Asunder (Ex) - When the Fighter is fighting with a separate object (either a weapon or shield) in each hand, he applies a +1 bonus to hit with all attacks made with those objects, and +1 to Armor Class from any shield wielded.
  • Overcome Obstacle: Shattering (Ex) - The Fighter gains a +7 bonus to all rolls to break objects. Any roll made against a Break DC gains the above bonus, which stacks with all other bonuses.


Peerless Arts of War

  • Peerless Reactions (Ex), prerequisites: Willful Resistance, Tactical Reflexes – the Fighter has a mental focus greater than any opponent, allowing him to react much faster than others. He gains a second swift or immediate action, now able to take two in a round rather than the one he could normally.
  • Peerless Awareness (Ex), prerequisites: Seize the Initiative and Tactical Awareness – the Fighter has developed an awareness of the so perfect it borders on the supernatural. The Fighter now always adds a competence bonus equal to his one-half class level to his initiative checks, and the Blindsense or Blindsight granted by Tactical Awareness increase to 60’. Additionally, he cannot be surprised.
  • Soul of Battle (Ex), prerequisites: Heart of Battle and Mind of Battle – the Fighter is a master of battle, his force of will making his body far tougher than it seems. He automatically suceeds on saves vs. massive damage, ignores all injury and pain penalties, does not fail saving throws on a natural 1, is immune to critical hits, [Death] spells and negative levels, and may reroll one attack roll per round.
  • Spell-Destroying Steel (Su), prerequisites: Spell-Shattering Strike and Spell-Parrying Steel – the Fighter has trained long and hard to be able to combat mages; when using Spell-Parrying Steel, he may also parry spells that target him (but not area-of-effect spells such as Fireball) even if they don’t involve a ranged touch attack. Additionally, he may, as an immediate action, cause any spell or spell-like ability producing a force effect in any square the fighter threatens to fail, unless the caster succeeds on a caster level check, DC 10+the fighter's level (+5 more if the fighter is wielding a weapon made of cold iron).
  • Peerless Tactics (Ex), prerequisites: Tactical Reflexes, Lightning Reactions – the Fighter can influence the course of an entire battle, gaining a tactical advantage; as a result, he can spend an immediate action to make a full attack once per encounter.
  • Overcome Obstacle: Dichotomous Perfection (Ex), prerequisites: Disjoined Grips and Grasp Asunder - When the Fighter is fighting with a separate object (either a weapon or shield) in each hand, all such objects are treated as if they were one size smaller than they really were. Examples include Two Weapon Fighting with two Bastard Swords, which with an Exotic Weapon Proficiency, are considered light weapons. A greatsword in the primary hand (considered one-handed) and a longsword in the offhand (considered light) is also possible. Conversely, it is possible to wield a greatsword in the primary hand and a Tower Shield (which protects as a Tower shield, but encumbers as a heavy shield) in the other hand. This Art does not allow the fighter to use weapons larger than the size of the wielder, unless additional feats or abilities are applied. Note that all feats, damages, and item effects are applied to the weapon or shield borne as if they were their adjusted size, but abilities consider the weapons their normal size. Thus, Power Attack is applied to a greatsword wielded in one hand as if it were a one-handed weapon, but Strength bonuses are applied as if it were a normal Two-handed weapon.
  • Strike: Crimson Fountain Strike (Ex): Prerequisites: Bleeding Cut - This Strike is targeted at one of the enemy’s arteries and will lead to death from bleeding. The attack can only be made with a slashing or piercing weapon and suffers from a –6 penalty to the attack roll. If the tack still succeeds, the victim suffers from 1d4 points of damage every turn until the original wound is healed. Crimson Fountain Strike only works against living targets; undeads and constructs are unaffected by the strike (they still take the normal damage, though).
  • Strike: Cripple Arm (Ex): Prerequisites: Armbreaker - This strike is a vicious attack to an opponent’s limbs, meant to render them useless with a single hit. This attack roll suffers from a –8 penalty, but if it hits, the victim must make a Fortitude Save (DC = Damage of the Attack) or it suffers from 1d10 points of Strength damage and can not use this arm until the damage is healed. All Items hold with the arm are dropped. Spellcasters suffer from a –5 penalty to all casting rolls for spells with somatic components. If the save succeeds, the victim only suffers from 1d3 points of strength ability damage.
  • Strike: Cripple Leg (Ex): Prerequisites: Hamstring - This attack is targeted on the joints of the opponent’s legs to destroy it and render the victim helpless. A hamstring is an attack with a –8 penalty. If the attack hits, the victim must make a Fortitude Save (DC = Damage of the Attack). If the save fails, the victim suffers 1d10 points of dexterity damage and is knocked prone. It can not stand up without help. Even if the save succeeds, the victim still suffers from 1d3 points of Dexterity ability damage.
  • Strike: Shatterskull (Ex): Prerequisites: Templepunch - This strike uses a bludgeoning weapon to crack the skull of the fighter’s victim open like an egg. Or at least knock it unconscious. The shatterskull attack roll must be made with a –8 penalty. If the attack hits, the victim must make a Fortitude Save (DC = Damage of the Attack) or is rendered unconscious. If the save succeeds, it is only dazed for 1d3 turns.
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