Character Classes


The swashbuckler embodies the concepts of daring and panache. Favoring agility and wit over brute force, the swashbuckler excels both in combat situations and social interactions, making her a versatile character indeed.

Swashbucklers adventure for a variety of motivations, based on their alignment and background. Some seek to right injustices, while others seek only fame and fortune. All swashbucklers, however, share a tendency to leap into action when the call comes, regardless of their personal views.

The swashbuckler combines skill and finesse with sheer combat prowess. Though swashbucklers can't dish out quite as much damage as a typical fighter or barbarian, they tend to be more agile and mobile than most melee combatants. When she can pick her battles carefully, a swashbuckler becomes a very deadly opponent (not to mention hard to pin down). Swashbucklers also hold their own in social situations, unlike most fighters.

Like rogues, swashbucklers tend to be diverse in their outlooks, and thus in their alignments. Those who chafe under societal restrictions tend to be chaotic, while those who uphold honorable traditions may well be lawful.

Most swashbucklers pay at least some small amount of homage to Olidammara (deity of thieves), since that deity is renowned as being lucky. Lawful or chivalrous swashbucklers may revere Heironeous (deity of valor) or even St. Cuthbert (deity of retribution). Swashbucklers who choose the open road over a fixed residence often worship Fharlanghn (deity of roads).

Many swashbucklers come from affluent backgrounds, but anyone valuing finesse over force can become a swashbuckler, regardless of background. A com mon shared element among swashbucklers' backgrounds is life in an urban environment, whether the back alleys of a slum or the cultured halls of royalty. Swashbucklers tend to see other swashbucklers as rivals rather than allies, even when sharing similar goals. The swashbuckler's need for attention often outweighs her better judgment, leading either to friendly competition or even outright distrust and antipathy.

Swashbucklers are most often humans, elves, or half-elves. Humans and half-elves tend to have the daring nature required of a swashbuckler, and the natural grace of elves makes them well suited for the class. Halflings and gnomes often have the temperament to become a swashbuckler, though their slower speed works against them. Dwarves tend to prefer fighting in heavy armor with big weapons, and thus rarely become swashbucklers. Among the savage human oids, swashbucklers are virtually unknown.

Swashbucklers prefer to work with other quick, lightly armored characters. They get along best with rogues and bards, and appreciate the agility and combat talents of the monk (though chaotic swashbucklers may chafe at the monk's ascetic nature). Lawful good swashbucklers often share the paladin's honorable nature, but otherwise the classes tend to clash in their approach to life. Swashbucklers have no particular distaste for spellcasters, and they appreciate the utility of a cleverly chosen, well-timed spell. They don't interact with barbarians, druids, or rangers very often, since these characters tend to prefer natural settings to the typical urban environment of the swashbuckler.

The swashbuckler is an able melee combatant, particularly when paired with a fighter or rogue. She can also make a fine party leader or spokesperson, thanks to her access to Charisma-based skills.

Alignment: Any.

Hit Die: d10.

Class Skills

The swashbuckler's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Balance (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Jump (Str), Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Swim (Str), Tumble (Dex), and Use Rope (Dex).

Skill Points at 1st Level: (4 + Int modifier) x 4.

Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 4 + Int modifier.

Table: The Swashbuckler

Level Base
Attack Bonus
1st +1 +2 +0 +0 Weapon Finesse
2nd +2 +3 +0 +0 Grace +1
3rd +3 +3 +1 +1 Insightful strike
4th +4 +4 +1 +1
5th +5 +4 +1 +1 Dodge bonus +1
6th +6/+1 +5 +2 +2
7th +7/+2 +5 +2 +2 Acrobatic charge
8th +8/+3 +6 +2 +2 Improved flanking
9th +9/+4 +6 +3 +3
10th +10/+5 +7 +3 +3 Dodge bonus +2
11th +11/+6/+1 +7 +3 +3 Grace +2, lucky
12th +12/+7/+2 +8 +4 +4
13th +13/+8/+3 +8 +4 +4 Acrobatic skill mastery
14th +14/+9/+4 +9 +4 +4 Weakening critical
15th +15/+10/+5 +9 +5 +5 Dodge bonus +3
16th +16/+11/+6/+1 +10 +5 +5
17th +17/+12/+7/+2 +10 +5 +5 Slippery mind
18th +18/+13/+8/+3 +11 +6 +6
19th +19/+14/+9/+4 +11 +6 +6 Wounding critical
20th +20/+15/+10/+5 +12 +6 +6 Dodge bonus +4, grace +3
Class Features

All of the following are class features of the swashbuckler.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Swashbucklers are proficient with all simple and martial weapons, and with light armor. Some of the swashbuckler's class features, as noted below, rely on her being no more than lightly armored and unencumbered.

Weapon Finesse (Ex): A swashbuckler gains Weapon Finesse as a bonus feat at 1st level even if she does not qualify for the feat.

Grace (Ex): A swashbuckler gains a +1 competence bonus on Reflex saves at 2nd level. This bonus increases to +2 at 11th level and to +3 at 20th level. A swashbuckler loses this bonus when wearing medium or heavy armor or when carrying a medium or heavy load.

Insightful Strike (Ex): At 3rd level, a swashbuckler becomes able to place her finesse attacks where they deal greater damage. She applies her Intelligence bonus (if any) as a bonus on damage rolls (in addition to any Strength bonus she may have) with any light weapon, as well as any other weapon that can be used with Weapon Finesse, such as a rapier, whip, or spiked chain. Targets immune to sneak attacks or critical hits are immune to the swashbuckler's insightful strike. A swashbuckler cannot use this ability when wearing medium or heavy armor or when carrying a medium or heavy load.

Dodge Bonus (Ex): A swashbuckler is trained at focusing her defenses on a single opponent in melee. During her action, she may designate an opponent and receive a +1 dodge bonus to Armor Class against melee attacks from that opponent. She can select a new opponent on any action. This bonus increases by +1 at every five levels after 5th (+2 at 10th level, +3 at 15th, and +4 at 20th). A swashbuckler loses this bonus when wearing medium or heavy armor or when carrying a medium or heavy load.

If the swashbuckler also has the Dodge feat, she need not designate the same target for this ability as for the Dodge feat. (If she designates the same target, the bonuses stack.)

Acrobatic Charge (Ex): A swashbuckler of 7th level or higher can charge in situations where others cannot. She may charge over difficult terrain that normally slows movement or allies blocking her path. This ability enables her to run down steep stairs, leap down from a balcony, or to tumble over tables to get to her target. Depending on the circumstance, she may still need to make appropriate checks (Jump or Tumble checks, in particular) to successfully move over the terrain.

Improved Flanking (Ex): A swashbuckler of 8th level or higher who is flanking an opponent gains a +4 bonus on attacks instead of a +2 bonus on attacks. (Other characters flanking with the swashbuckler don't gain this increased bonus.)

Lucky (Ex): Many swashbucklers live by the credo "Better lucky than good." Once per day, a swashbuckler of 11th level or higher may reroll any failed attack roll, skill check, ability check, or saving throw. The character must take the result of the reroll, even if it's worse than the original roll.

Acrobatic Skill Mastery (Ex): At 13th level, a swashbuckler becomes so certain in the use of her acrobatic skills that she can use them reliably even under adverse conditions. When making a Jump or Tumble check, a swashbuckler may take 10 even if stress and distractions would normally prevent her from doing so.

Weakening Critical (Ex): A swashbuckler of 14th level or higher who scores a critical hit against a creature also deals 2 points of Strength damage to the creature. Creatures immune to critical hits are immune to this effect.

Slippery Mind (Ex): When a swashbuckler reaches 17th level, her mind becomes more difficult to control. If the swashbuckler fails her save against an enchantment spell or effect, she can attempt the save again 1 round later at the same DC (assuming she is still alive). She gets only this one extra chance to succeed at a certain saving throw.

Wounding Critical (Ex): A swashbuckler of 19th level or higher who scores a critical hit against a creature also deals 2 points of Constitution damage to the creature. (This damage is in addition to the Strength damage dealt by the swashbuckler's weakening critical class feature.) Creatures immune to critical hits are immune to this effect.


Variant Classes
Alternative Class Features
Arcane Stunt
Dead Levels
Drow Swashbuckler
Shield of Blades
Substitution Levels

Arcane Stunt

Every swashbuckler relies on her agility and quick wit to get her out of scrapes. Some take this a step farther, learning magical tricks that boost their mobility or defense.

Class: Swashbuckler.

Level: 1st.

Special Requirement: Knowledge (arcana) 1 rank.

Replaces: You lose the grace class feature and all later improvements to that ability.

Benefit: Choose one of the following spells: blur, expeditious retreat, feather fall, jump, or spider climb. You can use that spell-like ability as a swift action (or, in the case of feather fall, as an immediate action); the duration of the spell is reduced to 1 round. Your caster level is equal to your swashbuckler level.

At 11th level, you can choose a second spell-like ability from the list above, and the benefit gained from both of these spell-like abilities lasts for 2 rounds. At 20th level, you can choose a third spell-like ability, and the benefit of each one lasts for 3 rounds.

You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 1 + your Int modifier (minimum 1/day). Regardless of the number of arcane stunts you possess, the same total daily limit applies to their use - that is, each day, an 11th-level swashbuckler with an Intelligence of 14 could use one of his spell-like abilities three times or one ability twice and the other once.

Dead Levels

The swashbuckler has six dead levels, the first of which occurs at 4th level. Their grace and dodge bonus both follow a logical progression (one every nine and five levels) with no spell-like or supernatural abilities to shore up their martial skills. In keeping with their grandiose approach to combat, the following dead level ability is intended to reflect their larger-than-life celebrity as adventurers.

Seduction (Ex): At 4th level, a swashbuckler has a lascivious way of acquiring knowledge through less than diplomatic channels. A swashbuckler gains an additional use of the Bluff skill called seduce to learn secret. The swashbuckler can use charm, flirtation, or seduction to learn a coveted secret that is known by a nonplayer character. In order for this iteration of the Bluff skill to work, the nonplayer character must find the swashbuckler physically attractive and be in a position to actually know the secret in question. There are five kinds of secrets that can be learned with a seduce to learn secret check . The fewer people that know a secret, the greater their loyalty to keep that secret.

Secret DC* Example
Common 10 Password told to the city guard, known by 16 or more people
Uncommon 20 Identity of thieves' guild leader, known by 9 to 16 people
Valuable 30 A merchant ship hauling exotic goods, known by 5 to 8 people
Deadly 40 Plans to invade a foreign land, known by 3 to 4 people
Unutterable 50 The mental disability of a king, known by 3 or less people
* The DC assumes that the nonplayer character is indifferent. The Bluff check is modified by -20 if the NPC is hostile, -10 if the NPC is unfriendly, +5 if the NPC is friendly, and +10 if the NPC is helpful.

A typical seduce to learn secret check takes 1d4+1 hours and requires seduction. If the check succeeded by 10 or more, the attempt takes 1d4+1 × 10 minutes and only requires flirtation. If the check succeeded by 20 or more, the attempt takes 1d4+1 minutes and merely requires charm. Retries are not possible as the target becomes too suspicious.

At 9th level, a swashbuckler gains a +1 bonus on seduce to learn secret checks. This bonus increases by +1 at 13th, 15th, 18th, and 19th level.

Drow Swashbuckler

The drow swashbuckler fills an interesting niche in dark elf society. Their culture of treachery and betrayal offers opportunities for those with wit and skill to rise far. For drow, the swashbuckler class is usually a male pursuit, and well-born sons of the great houses are the most likely to cultivate the abilities this class offers. A rare few drow swashbucklers are renegades: outcasts from drow society, bucking the traditions and loyalties to the matriarchs to seek their own fortunes.

Drow swashbucklers give up some of their mobility across difficult terrain to gain a more tactical understanding of movement.

Swift and Deadly

A drow swashbuckler who wields two weapons gains the ability to better maneuver around his opponents.

Level: 7th.

Replaces: If you select this class feature, you do not gain Acrobatic Charge at 7th level.

Benefit: When wielding two weapons, if you hit at least once with each weapon in the same round, you can take a 5-foot step as a swift action.

This doesn't count against your normal limit of one 5-foot step per round, and you can use this ability even if you've already moved in the round.

Shield of Blades

The typical swashbuckler is best suited to fighting a single foe. Some, however, practice using a pair of light weapons to fend off attacks from all around them. The shield of blades alternative class feature is designed for swashbucklers who fight with two weapons. Though it requires a full attack action to use the ability, the AC bonus applies against all attackers (even invisible ones), unlike the dodge bonus gained by the traditional swashbuckling style.

Level: 5th.

Replaces: If you select this class feature, you do not gain the dodge bonus class feature (or its improvements at 10th, 15th, and 20th level).

Benefit: Beginning at 5th level, you become adept at defending yourself when wielding a pair of light weapons. You gain a +2 shield bonus to your AC whenever you attack with at least two light weapons during your turn. (Despite the name of this class feature, you can use any light weapon to gain the benefit, even unarmed strikes or natural weapons.) This AC bonus lasts until the start of your next turn. This is an extraordinary ability.

This bonus increases by 1 for every five levels beyond 5th (+3 at 10th level, +4 at 15th level, and +5 at 20th level). You lose this bonus when wearing medium or heavy armor or when carrying a medium or heavy load.