Duelist class (LONG, Mech in 2nd post) - Seek Critique




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  1. #1
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    Duelist class (LONG, Mech in 2nd post) - Seek Critique

    This is a melee warrior class that creates a western-flare version of a Samurai / Iajutsu Master for a campaign. They are professional swordsmen and killers, some with less ‘Honor’ than a Samurai but heavily specialized in one-on-one duels.

    This is an alternate base class inspired by the original Duelist from the May 1983 Dragon and using the Complete Warrior classes ‘Samurai’ and ‘Swashbuckler’ as core templates. This replaces the “Duelist” Prestige Class from the Dungeon Master’s Guide.

    I am seeking critique and comments. For those that don’t wish to read all the fluff, I have separated the Fluff and Mech into 2 different posts.

    EDITED: Version 5.24

    DUELIST

    A supple flick of the young duelist Diego's wrist sent his unfortunate opponent's sword skittering across the cobbled streets of the Magistrates’ Square. Fear in his eyes, the man staggered back, clutching his injured hand. Diego's lips parted in a thin smile as he backed his opponent (what was his name … not that it mattered) into a corner. He raised his weapon at the cowering nobleman.

    "You know the rules," Diego smirked. "A fight to the death means no quarter expected or given."

    He put the point of his ornate, yet deadly sword over the man’s heart, and listened to man’s pleas and bribes and utterly un-honorable babbling for a few seconds. Then, in a lightning fast motion, he ran him through, removed his sword, and passed it to Bron, his appointed “second.” The man cleaned the blade, granting the customary compliments on Diego’s fine performance, and giving condolences to the dead man’s second. Diego held the sword aloft to salute his victory to the man’s second before sheathing it, basking in the grudging applause from the small crowd that followed them to the square from the local tavern where the duel had been offered by the pompous nobleman. Many walked away in disgust at Diego's blatant egotism, yet they could not deny that he was easily one of the best Duelists in Waterdeep. At the sound of a few tentative boos from the back of the audience, Diego called out and began taunting.

    "It's easy for you pathetic slobs to heckle me from the safety of the crowd, but are any of you man enough to challenge me one on one?" He surveyed the now silent crowd. Nobody met his eye. He smirked. "I thought not," he snorted, and began to walk away.

    Then a quiet but deep voice spoke out. "I think I can take you down a notch or several. Arrogant children need humility occasionally." it said. Diego whirled round. His eyes, blazing with ire, almost immediately settling on a large, graying and greatly expanding man in a subtle and common doublet and hose under a common cloak. The stranger met his harsh gaze calmly.

    "Oh, do you now?" boasted Diego. "Then come into the circle and prove it, old man."

    "As you wish," the man replied, entering the designated dueling circle. Inwardly, Diego was surprised that the man had accepted his challenge, but was still supremely confident in his fighting ability.

    “Old men should stay at home – but maybe this is your way of deciding you’re too old and fat to continue life so you are committing suicide? So be it.” He then smiled smugly. His would-be opponent remained expressionless however. The Magistrate stepped between them addressing Diego.

    "Sir, it is not allowed for you to challenge an opponent without a charge," he stated.

    "He slandered me," Diego replied, not taking his eyes off the other man. The official frowned. "I didn't hear any slander." he began.

    The stranger spoke up. “He is a whore’s son, born of an Orc loving street wench. Will that suffice?” The magistrate began to protest but with a side-long glance from the old man, the magistrate sighed and said, “So be it, the Charge is Slander and a Duel is offered and accepted.”

    "What Terms?” the old man asked simply. “Enough guts to go to the death old man?" replied Diego. The man nodded almost imperceptibly, and shrugged off his cloak and doublet, revealing a tattered fencing vest underneath. Across his back hung a simple long sword, quite unlike Diego's elegant rapier. If drawn, the sword appeared as if the man’s beefy hands might engulf the entire pommel. Diego took up a fighting stance, laughing slightly.

    “A Duel to the death requires a tenday and a set date and time.” began the Magistrate but at another glance from the old man the magistrate hastily continued with “A Duel to the death declared and agreed upon by both parties. So it is said, so it is written.” reluctantly said the Magistrate.

    "Put on a little extra weight since last you fought old man? What name would you like them to put on your stone, my soon-to-be-dead friend?" he inquired.

    "They call me the Old-Wolf, that is all you need know," was the reply. Diego nodded, and glanced at the magistrate. "You may begin," he said.

    Diego grinned suddenly, stepping forward while sweeping his rapier in a swift arc from its sheath. He intended to give his opponent a shallow but painful cut across the chest, however, the old man was no longer there. He had impossibly quickly, and smoothly, drawn his sword and stepped to his right, and begun swinging his blade at Diego's neck with alarming ease. It was all the young Duelist could do to avoid the blow and attempt to deflect it with his rapier. As it was, he suffered a painful wound to the shoulder. He jumped back, his confidence suddenly gone. The old man simply grinned a wolfish grin and stepped forward, and the duel began in earnest. Diego was staggered at how quickly the man moved and swung his cumbersome weight and weapon, after all the man was old and fat, and Diego was lean and young. The old man always seemed to second guess any strike, and was ready to counter. In desperation, Diego attempted a lunge forward. It proved a mistake. The old man stepped aside, at the same time raising his sword for a killing overhead strike. Diego began to swing his sword back to hold off the blow, while stepping back. The point of the old man's weapon fell past his face, and briefly he thought he had warded off the fatal wound. He was wrong. With incredible speed, the old man changed the direction of his strike, thrusting the sword forward as it reached Diego’s chest. Off balance and off guard, the young duelist was unable to prevent himself being run through. He slumped to the ground, staring at the old man in utter shock. His opponent quickly wiped his sword on Diego's silk shirt, shocking those watching by what they had just witnessed.

    The old man gently whispered into Diego’s ear “One thing you didn’t learn sonny boy… Old Duelists get to BE old because they are very good at what they do. You would be wise to remember that.”

    As he walked away, he called to the Magistrate “Call a Cleric and heal this fool with one of your healing potions before he bleeds to death – put the charge on my tab.”

    “As you command, Mirt.” was the Magistrates only reply as he went off to do as Mirt, also known as Mirt the Moneylender and Mirt the Old Wolf had bade him do.


    “No Quarter Asked, None Given.” – Archibald Cunningham (Rob Roy): The Iconic Duelist
    The Duel is considered by many to be a reasonable, appropriate and acceptable way for people of import to settle their differences. Duels, to some other people however, are seen as somewhat impractical and silly. After all, if someone has offended you to the point where, despite the law, you wish to kill them, it isn't exactly sensible to deliberately put yourself in a position where your opponent may have a fair chance of killing you instead. The key difference is honor. Duels are based around a belief that it is how you behaved in the face of challenge, slander and possible death that demonstrated your strength and courage.

    Duels are fought over anything and everything, from revenge for violent crimes against friends, family members or lovers, to philosophical or religious disagreements, to just plain insults or even perceived insults.

    Although often technically illegal and harshly punished if discovered, there are some locations where this form of disagreement can be settled legally in front of a designated agent of the government such as a Magistrate, and when legal, are restricted to specific “arenas”. Waterdeep is a good example of this. A Duel is offered, and the nearest Magistrate is found where the conditions of the Duel are set, and the Duel proceeds. Even in Lawful Waterdeep, if the challenger and recipient agree to and insist upon a Duel to the death, the appropriate papers will be drawn up but a 1 week stay is generally enforced on the Duel to make sure the participants are not just hot heads and not realizing the implications of their tempers (this can be handled differently depending on the clout carried by those participating). Duels also happen in the heat of the moment, Duels where someone draws a weapon and forces a fight, legal or illegal. In a city such as Waterdeep these are severely frowned upon and will earn at least a night in prison, though killing someone in self-defense is still a crime, it is only a minor punishment in comparison to outright murder.

    Duels, of course, don't always have to be to the death. A minor insult or small matter of disagreement may not require the lifeblood of the Duelers’ opponent to be satisfied. Duels can be fought to the first touch of the blade to your opponent, injuring or not, or to a number of touches or wounds, or to the first crippled limb, or to the yield of one opponent to the other, or to the satisfaction of the aggrieved party, or to one combatant’s physical inability to continue the fight, or to unconsciousness. Generally duels are to “first blood” (in game terms this means that all duels are Subdual Damage, and when 0HP is reached, the first real “blood” is drawn).

    The setting for Duels is also important. Since in most places they are illegal, they thus have to be conducted out of cities or at night or on the fly. Duels require Seconds (people who represent each duelist and check the weapons and opponents for magical charms, hidden weapons and poison on the blades). A Priest (or a Mortician) is also often standard attendee at a duel. If the Local Law Enforcement catches the combatants in the act, everyone will be arrested, perhaps excommunicated, and sometimes executed, depending on the law of the land. In some instances the Seconds of each duelist often got into duels of their own, turning them into a grand melee!

    Why do people go off to a fight a duel they may very well die in, when the worst they would suffer for it by refusing is social ostracism? That is in fact, the answer. If a person will not defend their honor, then what is their word worth? They obviously don't value their own principles, for they will not defend them! In a society where a person's word is taken as a commitment as binding as any court-order, demonstrating that your word is valueless is effectively social death. On the other hand, if roused to the point of utter disgrace in public, if a Duel is not challenged, the ostracism can be even worse, as the person is marked as a coward. Even those who fight duels and lose are more honorable and worthy than the lowly dog who cowers from confrontation! Also, if you disagree with someone over a truly important topic, it is your responsibility to your own word, and your opponent's to theirs, to bring it to a duel, because only when facing death against live steel is your commitment truly tested. If you are in the right, and they in the wrong, divine justice will guide your blade!

    Of course, this is how many people in the period dispose of enemies. By hiring an experienced swordsman to find an excuse to challenge or be challenged (depending on the laws of the land) by an unwanted opponent, thus Dueling becoming a means for socially legitimized character assassination or outright legalized public assassination. This is the art of the professional Duelist, the elite Sword-for-Hire. Most professional Duelists rarely have to fight to the death, and if they do, they pick and choose carefully which fights they will take on. Obviously, the fee is far larger to fight to the death than it is to fight to first blood.

    Adventures: Many Duelists travel from place to place seeking fortune, fame, and new opponents to test their skills against. Most live on the open road fighting for a share of prize purses, or even championing a cause, while others fight as pure mercenaries or even fight duels to humiliate or even slay foes in a “legal” death matches. Some Duelists who relish in the idea of working with companions instead of a solo artist, are drawn to the life of the adventurer as a ever ongoing source of entertainment to keep them honed in their skills, not to mention for the wealth and notoriety.

    Characteristics: The duelist is a rare class of warrior who specializes and delights in personal combat. They are artists and masters of the fighting trade, and travel about, fighting for glory, money, or for lack of a better calling in life. Duelists have little use for law as an ethical principle or as political basis. This does not mean that they have no honor - just the contrary. The Duelist is a concept as much as a profession, and they will always act and fight with honor.

    The Code of the Duelist is: “Professional pride is a more important consideration than ‘fair play’." A duelist, like a Knight, does not take undo advantage of an opponent, but a where Knight does this to be fair out of a lawful base of ethics, the Duelist does it to keep his reputation from being soiled.

    Alignment: A Duelist’s training requires a high level of discipline and unwavering dedication. However, as stated earlier, they have no love of the law nor do they have a specific need to follow a strict ethical compass, but they do tend to be honorable. Thus duelists may be of any Non-Chaotic alignment.

    Religion: Like most fighting art classes Duelists are not very devout though this is on a case by case basis. Many Duelists worship or at least pay homage to deities of Battle, Protection, Honor, Vengeance, Justice, and even Murder.

    Background: Duelists above all else are still fighters. They interact with world in roughly the same way in which Fighters do although many follow the path of hired killer making them move in the darker circles of the Rogue and Assassin. Duelists come to their profession in many different ways. Some seeking their training specifically – enrolling in fighting sows or seeking out sword masters to learn the trade. Others have their training find them, such as learning to fight from a mentor specifically out of the drive for revenge against someone: “Hello my name is Enigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die.” However, no Duelists are ever “untrained”. Some Duelists see themselves as part of a brotherhood but many do not and are freelance fighters, bringing their skills to whomever needs them, and will just as quickly fight another Duelist as anon-Duelist, though a bit more care.

    Races: Duelists are found more among humans than others, though many other races have members who go in search of the training to become Duelist, especially if they can find a way to excel in the human dominated cultures where Duelists thrive.

    Other Classes: Duelists are feared, admired, shunned, and bragged about as companions all at the same time. They are both hero and villain. The Duelist plays many parts, from hired sword, to professional athlete, to combat instructor, to assassin or bounty hunter, to hero of the oppressed, as well as many other roles.
    Last edited by Khaalis; Monday, 24th May, 2004 at 11:24 AM.

 

  • #2
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    Part 2 - The Mech

    EDITED: Version 5.24

    DUELIST

    GAME RULE INFORMATION
    Duelists have the following game statistics.
    Abilities: Dexterity, Wisdom, Charisma and Intelligence are the most important ability scores for the duelist. Duelists rely on speed, accuracy, precision, perception and sharp whit over brawn to master their style of fighting. A common maxim among duelist masters is: “Defeating an opponent through knowledge of that opponent is more effective even than your skill with a blade.”
    Alignment: Any Non-Chaotic
    Hit Die: d10
    Starting Gold: 5d4X10gp

    CLASS SKILLS
    The class skills of the duelist are: Balance, Bluff, Craft, Diplomacy, Dueling*, Gather Information, Intimidate, Jump, Knowledge (Local), Perform, Profession, Sense Motive, Spot, Tumble and Use Rope.
    Skill Points for 1st Level: (4+INT modifier) x4
    Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 4+INT modifier

    NEW CLASS SKILL
    DUELING (Charisma): The duelist uses this skill to gather their focus and concentration in combat, and especially in a Formal Duel.
    Check: If the duelist attacks a flat-footed opponent immediately after drawing any weapon for which they may use the Duelist’s Grace ability, they may deal extra damage based on the result of their Dueling skill check (as follows).
    Code:
    Check Result	Extra Damage	Check Result	Extra Damage
    11-15		+1d6		36-40		+6d6
    16-20		+2d6		41-45		+7d6
    21-25		+3d6		46-50		+8d6
    26-30		+4d6		51+		+9d6 (max)
    31-35		+5d6
    In addition, if the duelist and opponent agree to a Formal Duel, the duelist’s Dueling skill modifier (not including Charisma modifier) is added as a bonus to the initiative check for the ensuing duel (See “Formal Duels”).
    Special: In a Formal Duel, the duelist and their opponent make apposed Dueling checks, and the winner (if they have ranks in Dueling) accumulates extra damage dice according to the table above (See “Formal Duels”).

    Code:
    	Base
    Class	Attack		SAVES
    Level	Bonus	Fort	Ref	Will	Special
    1	+1	+0	+2	+0	Duelist’s Grace
    2	+2	+0	+3	+0	Swift Reflexes
    3	+3	+1	+3	+1	Precision Strike
    4	+4	+1	+4	+1	-----
    5	+5	+1	+4	+1	Defense Bonus +1
    6	+6	+2	+5	+2	Denigrating Banter
    7	+7	+2	+5	+2	Jibing Insult 1/day
    8	+8	+2	+6	+2	Swift Strike
    9	+9	+3	+6	+3	-----
    10	+10	+3	+7	+3	Defense Bonus +2
    11	+11	+3	+7	+3	Improved Denigrating Banter
    12	+12	+4	+8	+4	Jibing Insult 2/day
    13	+13	+4	+8	+4	-----
    14	+14	+4	+9	+4	Weakening Strike
    15	+15	+5	+9	+5	Defense Bonus +3
    16	+16	+5	+10	+5	-----
    17	+17	+5	+10	+5	Jibing Insult 3/day
    18	+18	+6	+11	+6	Intimidating Presence
    19	+19	+6	+11	+6	Wounding Strike
    20	+20	+6	+12	+6	Defense Bonus +4
    CLASS FEATURES
    All of the following are class features for the Duelist.

    Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Duelists gains proficiency with the following Weapon Groups (as per Unearthed Arcana weapon group feats) and are proficient in light armor but not with shield.
    Weapon Group (Light Blades): Dagger, Punching Dagger, Rapier, and Short Sword.
    Weapon Group (Duelist Blades): Cutlass, Khopesh, Main Gauche, Long Sword, Saber, Scimitar (including Daphan Scimitar), Singing Sword, Smallsword, Soldano Blade, Sword Cane, Torres Blade, and the specialized rapiers: Aldana Blade, Dietrich Sword, Gallegos Blade and Zepeda Blade.
    (See “3E Weapons & Armor.doc” for descriptions of new items. Note – many of these are from Forgotten Realms or Swashbuckling Adventures.)


    Duelist’s Grace (Ex): With any weapon from the Light Blade or Duelist Blade weapon groups or any other weapon normally allowed to be finessed, the duelist gains the benefit of the Weapon Finesse feat, even if they or their weapon would normally not qualify for the feat.

    Swift Reflexes (Ex): At 2nd level the duelist has learned to anticipate when an encounter will lead to drawn steel and has thus trained to be the first drawn. They gain the benefits of the Quick Draw feat, drawing any Light Blade or Duelist Blade as a free action, even if it was concealed. This ability does not work for weapons not of these two weapon groups.

    Precision Strike (Ex): At 3rd level, a duelist becomes able to place precise strikes in an opponent’s weak spots, dealing greater damage with any weapon with which they may use Weapon Finesse. They apply their Intelligence modifier (if any) as a bonus to damage in addition to any bonus gained from their Strength modifier. Targets immune to critical hits are also immune to Precision Strike. The duelist may not use this ability when wearing medium or heavy armor, or when carrying a medium or heavy load.

    Defense Bonus (Ex): Duelists are specialists at fighting solitary opponents and thus beginning at 5th level, they learn to better defend themselves when concentrating on a single foe. During their action, the duelist may designate a single opponent and receive a +1 dodge bonus to AC against melee attacks from that opponent. They can select a new opponent on any action. This bonus increases by +1 for every five levels of duelist attained after 5th. This defense bonus is lost if the duelist wears medium or heavy armor or carries a medium or heavy load. If the duelist also has the Dodge feat, the duelist must designate the same target for the defense bonus as for the Dodge feat, but all bonuses stack.

    Denigrating Banter (Ex): Duelists become experts at sizing up their opponents and assaulting the opponent’s self-confidence and pride with taunts and jibes. At 6th level their skill with this tactic reaches a fine-tuning that allows them to truly demoralize their opponents with naught but words. The duelist gains a +4 bonus to Intimidate checks and can demoralize an opponent (as a standard action as described in the Intimidate skill description in the Player’s Handbook).

    Jibing Insult (Ex): Once per day, a duelist of 7th level may use these skills of taunting their enemies in such a way that their banter and jibbing insults can be as effective as a weapon. When the duelist uses this extra-special jibing insult (a free action), their next attack gains a bonus on the attack and damage rolls equal to their Charisma bonus (minimum +1). As the duelist gains levels, they may make a jibing insult twice per day at 12th level, and thrice per day at 17th level. “Your wife was much sweeter forced than many are willing.” -- Archibald Cunningham (Rob Roy)

    Swift Strike (Ex): At 8th level, the duelist becomes a master of reacting first to the inevitability of impending need to act, and thus gain the Improved Initiative feat.

    Improved Denigrating Banter (Ex): A duelist’s practice at this technique improves to the point that they can size-up their opponents and assault them with denigrating banter, taunts and jibes with just a quick inspection. At 11th level their skill with this tactic reaches its pinnacle allowing the duelist to demoralize an opponent as a move action rather than as a standard action.

    Weakening Strike (Ex): At 14th level, a duelist that scores a critical hit against an opponent that is not immune to critical hits, also deals an additional 2 points of Strength damage to that creature.

    Intimidating Presence (Ex): At 18th level, the duelist’s reputation for death, their prowess, and their swift tongue have become legend. When the duelist draws any weapon with which they can use the Weapon Finesse feat, opponents within 30’ must succeed a Will save (DC 20 + duelist’s Charisma modifier) or become panicked for 4d6 rounds (if they have 4 or fewer Hit Dice) or shaken for 4d6 rounds (if they have between 5 and 19 Hit Dice). Creatures with 20 or more Hit Dice are unaffected. Any foe that succeeds the Will save cannot be affected again by the same duelist’s intimidating presence for 24 hours.

    Wounding Strike (Ex): At 19th level, a duelist that scores a critical hit against an opponent that is not immune to critical hits, also deals an additional 2 points of Constitution damage to that creature. This is in addition to the Strength damage dealt by the Weakening Strike ability.


    FORMAL DUELS
    “Mr. Cunningham and I have matters outstanding.” – Robert MacGregor (Rob Roy)
    Duelists feel that their greatest honor and the truest test of their training is their expertise in a Formal Duel. The most key skill to a duelist is to end a duel before it really starts, as duelists are not trained for long and drawn out frays. The process of conducting a Formal Duel is highly formalized. Since dueling is often fatal to one or even both opponents, duelists never allow minor insults or passing arguments to enter them into a Formal Duel with another duelist. However, when wronged, or when paid to incite a duel, challenges are issued.

    Once the process has been followed, the duel occurs. A Formal Duel has 3 Phases: ‘Stance’, ‘En Guard’, and ‘Strike’. During the ‘Stance’ phase the duelists face one another and study the stance of the other, exchange banter, insults, or witty repartee. During the ‘En Guard’ phase the duelists prepare for the actual combat. During the ‘Strike’ phase, combat begins. In a case of a duelist against a non-duelist, the non-duelist generally draws their weapon and takes a defensive stance during the ‘En Guard’ phase.

    Stance: In the first round of a Formal Duel, the two combatants stand a few steps or paces apart appraising the opponent. A Sense Motive skill check is allowed to sum up an opponent’s skills, and many duels end here with a concession due to one combatant realizing they are outmatched. The results are always gauged as follows: weak, lesser, equal, greater, or overwhelming.
    Code:
    Check Result	Information Gained
    15+		Opponent’s Level
    20+		Opponent’s Rank in Dueling
    25+		Opponent’s skill with held weapon (Att./Dam.)
    En Guard: Both combatants make a Dueling skill check. If a combatant does not have the Dueling skill, they can attempt to use the skill untrained by making a Charisma check or they may substitute their normal initiative roll if it is better (but only for determining Initiative, losing the Dueling damage bonus). For non-duelists, standard initiative might be the saving grace that prevents a duelist from catching them flat-footed on the initial strike.

    Strike: After initiative is determined through Dueling check or standard Initiative, combat begins. The first round of combat in a Formal Duel is the most essential, and is effectively a surprise round: Each combatant can take one partial action, usually a single attack, in addition to drawing their weapon if they have Quick Draw, or drawing their weapon if they do not have Quick Draw. With a successful hit, a Duelist deals the bonus damage achieved through their Dueling check in addition to normal (or critical) weapon damage. The initiative winner strikes first, naturally. The initiative loser, if they survive, must attack (or draw their weapon if they do not have quick draw). Note that since the loser is not attacking a Flat-Footed foe, they do not gain the opportunity to strike with the bonus Dueling damage dice from their Dueling check. If the initiative check is a tie, the attacks are simultaneous and both combatants are considered Flat-Footed.

    After the initial round of the Duel, if both survive, the combat proceeds as normal combat. They no longer receive bonus damage dice from the Dueling skill unless the opponent becomes Flat-Footed due to some other reason such as re-sheathing a weapon and utilizing the “Flick of the Wrist” feat.


    Example: Diego faces Mirt in a Formal Duel. Both Duelists assume their stance and size each other up. Diego rolls an 18 for Sense Motive enough to discern that Mirt is an equal. Without more information, Diego is not able to withdraw honorably. Mirt rolls a 33, and notes the equal character level as well as that Diego is less skilled at Dueling and weaker with his weapon. Weighing this information, Mirt is confidant that he will get the first strike.

    The duel begins, and each roll their Dueling checks. Mirt gets a check result of 28 (thus a +4d6 damage bonus), while Diego gets a 24 (a +3d6 damage bonus). Mirt’s initiative wins with a 28 and thus he strikes first, but Mirt holds his action to 24 when Diego goes, striking as soon as Diego draws his blade (while still flat footed because the held initiative is still resolved first). Mirt strikes with a modified 25 (against an AC 16), while Diego misses with a modified 19 (against an AC 20). Mirt deals his 1d8+4+4d6 (plus any other additional damage from Precision Strike or other class abilities), potentially doing nearly 50% of Diego’s hit points in damage. If this is a duel to first blood, the duel is over and Mirt wins, if it is to a sever wound, the damage assessed was subdual in nature and the combat continues until someone is at 0hp from subdual damage. If the battle is to the death, damage is still normal and the fight continues until one combatant is dead.
    Diego: Duelist 12, HP 70, AC 24 (Flat-Footed 20) ATK +16 (1d6+4/18-20), Dueling +16, Sense Motive +8
    Mirt: Duelist 12, HP 70, AC 20 (Flat-Footed 16) ATK +20 (1d8+4/19-20), Dueling +19, Sense Motive +14
    Last edited by Khaalis; Monday, 24th May, 2004 at 11:26 AM.

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    No comments at all? Does it suck that much or is it just not interesting?
    Thanks in advance.

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    I like it. I like the flavour text, and I like the class. At first glance, it looks well balanced, and I think it'd fit well in appropriate games. I likely won't use the class - though only because I'm running an AU game, and the unfettered fit in fine - but I think I will appropriate the dueling rules. I like those!
    - Terraism

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    From Knight Errant: (via direct email)

    Part One: The Fluff

    Alignment: A Duelist's training requires a high level of discipline and unwavering dedication. However, as stated earlier, they have no love of the law, but tend to be honorable. Duelists may be of any alignment however.

    This does not make much sense to me. Most of what you have said of the class up until this point would indicate to me that they are lawful by nature. I have a difficult time envisioning a CN duelist. Actually, I have a hard time believing that anyone of chaotic alignment could be considered a "duelist" by this classes' definition. Let me see if I can illustrate why I think this way effectively.

    The first point I will elaborate on is the nature of duels and formal dueling. There are rather extensive guidelines or rules you have detailed here. The duel is a structured event; regardless of its own legality (as that would be based on location; not something set forth within the class description) there is a pattern that must be adhered to. For instance:

    The Duel is considered by many to be a reasonable, appropriate and acceptable way for people of import to settle their differences?The key difference is honor. Duels are based around a belief that it is how you behaved in the face of challenge, slander and possible death that demonstrated your strength and courage.

    In the opening paragraph there is mention of a structured system (i.e. the duel itself), and honor. Both of which are associated with law in the sense that law pertains to rules or guidelines. After all, it wouldn't be a duel if everyone just drew weapons and jumped into the fray. That is, by definition, a melee; hardly a structured event.

    The setting for Duels is also important. Since in most places they are illegal, they thus have to be conducted out of cities or at night or on the fly. Duels require Seconds (people who represent each duelist and check the weapons and opponents for magical charms, hidden weapons and poison on the blades). A Priest (or a Mortician) is also often standard attendee at a duel.

    Here again is an interesting point: the duel itself maybe considered illegal by the locality. However, the procedure for which it is conducted is highly organized, and therefore it falls into the lawful category, due to its codification. If this were arrainged in a chaotic manner, there would be no set rules for any duel; each one would have different procedures (if any) based on the whims of the duelist at the time. Furthermore, you would not really have need of any procedure because a chaotic individual can change the rules as he pleases.

    The fact that there are witnesses required of any recognized duel indicates the presence of law by its most basic definition. Consider for a moment how any law works; generally, witnesses are required for any act to be considered lawful or unlawful.

    If a person will not defend their honor, then what is their word worth? They obviously don't value their own principles, for they will not defend them! In a society where a person's word is taken as a commitment as binding as any court-order, demonstrating that your word is valueless is effectively social death. On the other hand, if roused to the point of utter disgrace in public, if a Duel is not challenged, the ostracism can be even worse, as the person is marked as a coward.

    Here the words principles, commitment, and word (e.g. of honor) are used. Again, these concepts run contrary to the nature of chaos. While it can be said that a chaotic person could (and in many cases do) have principles, show commitment, and value the worth of the spoken promise, they are not required to adhere to any of them should they chose not to.

    This would then invalidate their status as a duelist. Afterall, if my word given is compared to a court order, I fail to see how that is open to interpretation. I have promised something and I will carry that promise out. A chaotic person can do this, but they are not required to do so; they may change the rules as they see fit when they so choose.

    Duelists have little use for law as an ethical principle or as political basis. This does not mean that they have no honor - just the contrary. The Duelist is a concept as much as a profession, and they will always act and fight with honor.

    Actually, they do have "use for law as an ethical principle," according to the description. What is a duelist without his word? Nothing; he is merely a skilled fighter. He is not a duelist. This distinction is very similar to a knight in that respect. His honor is what separates him from an ordinary fighter. This does not mean that a fighter cannot fight with honor. It simply means that the duelist (and knight) must fight with honor. Honor, as it pertains to the duelist, requires that he follow the guidelines for a duel and that he defend his reputation by conducting himself in an honorable manner.


    I realize that the point of this paragraph is to emphasize that duelists are not goody-two-shoes altar boys. I think we all recognize that. In fact, I could make a pretty good case for them not being able to choose "good" as part of their alignment... but that is another debate.

    If I interpreted this correctly, I think you meant it as the reason why the duelist need not be a specific alignment or set of alignments. If I am wrong, please correct me.

    Running off of that assumption, I can make a very good case for duelists choosing any non chaotic alignment. I feel that there are simply too many requirements, procedures (e.g. etiquette), and matters of honor for them to be able to choose ?any? alignment.


    The Code of the Duelist is: "Professional pride is a more important consideration than 'fair play'." A duelist, like a Knight, does not take undo advantage of an opponent, but a where Knight does this to be fair out of a lawful base of ethics, the Duelist does it to keep his reputation from being soiled.

    Here is where I think you painted yourself into a corner. If I understand what you are saying here, a duelist is not concerned with fairness in the just sense of the word. He is, however, most concerned with his conduct in a duel, as it pertains to ?keep[ing] his reputation from being soiled.?

    That being said, why would a chaotic individual care what anyone else thought about his conduct? They rarely do.

    Keep in mind that the knight does not necessarily fight fairly because he feels that ?it?s the right thing to do,? it is part of his code of conduct. Should he fail to fight in a fair and honorable manner, his reputation is soiled and he will not be respected by his peers. Additionally, he may not be granted that same sense of ?fairness? should he find himself in combat with another knight. As you know, many knightly codes are written so that the knight is required to grant a fair fight to only those of equal or lesser ability; many have no such requirement for those well beyond the knights capabilities.

    The opposite would seem to be true to a duelist. I can see where they (as in your example) might toy with someone they felt was beneath their skill level; yet would fight as honorably as possible against a more powerful foe. The main reasoning being that there are witnesses to every duel. Many knights fight in situations where only they will know if they fought honorably.

    Some final points to consider:

    Alignment: A Duelist's training requires a high level of discipline and unwavering dedication.

    This pretty much requires they be non-chaotic in nature. How many core classes that can be chaotic require[s] a high level of discipline and unwavering dedication?? Not many that I can think of off hand.

    Could someone who is chaotic become a duelist?

    Perhaps.

    Could they become the duelist you have detailed here? I don?t believe so. There are simply too many guidelines, procedures, and rules they have to adhere to.

    I think the confusion comes in when considering the duelist as a person. You are correct in stating that they do not have to be lawful in the "ethical" sense. They may care nothing about the laws of the land, the church, or some other entity. What is clear, however, is that they care a great deal about the rules which govern their trade.

    Rules that govern the methods of a class usually indicate the presence of lawful alignments. While the duelist does not have a set of rules he has to live by in his day to day life, he does have rules he has to obey when he performs the most basic function of his class, and therefore, should be mainly lawful or neutral in alignment.

    Conclusion: Overall, I like it a lot. My bone of contention is the alignment issue. Change that to ?any lawful or neutral,? and I think you have a solid foundation.
    After reading your points I agree. I will change this to:

    Alignment: A Duelist’s training requires a high level of discipline and unwavering dedication. However, as stated earlier, they have no love of the law nor do they have a specific need to follow a strict ethical compass, but they do tend to be honorable. Thus duelists may be of any Non-Chaotic alignment.
    Last edited by Khaalis; Monday, 24th May, 2004 at 03:50 PM.

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    Uh... Khaalis? I've gotta ask, 'cause I'm curious as anything. Where'd the post you quoted come from? I can't find the thing anywhere.
    - Terraism

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    You arent crazy!

    It came to me via direct email. It was posted with the author's permission.
    Last edited by Khaalis; Monday, 24th May, 2004 at 03:54 PM.

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    Any other comments?

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    Interesting take on the character archtype. Certainly better than the Swashbuckler.

    However, it suffers from the same flaw that the Swashbuckler does: no real defensive ability. In order to survive, especially at higher levels, without access to heavy armor (which the DnD mechanics are built around the assumption all fighters will get heavier and heavier armor) these characters simply won't survive at higher levels in the role of a fighter, IMHO. I think the Unfettered's Parry bonus and dodge class ability are necessary for finesse style characters.

    Otherwise, looks pretty good.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tywyll
    Interesting take on the character archtype. Certainly better than the Swashbuckler.

    However, it suffers from the same flaw that the Swashbuckler does: no real defensive ability. In order to survive, especially at higher levels, without access to heavy armor (which the DnD mechanics are built around the assumption all fighters will get heavier and heavier armor) these characters simply won't survive at higher levels in the role of a fighter, IMHO. I think the Unfettered's Parry bonus and dodge class ability are necessary for finesse style characters.

    Otherwise, looks pretty good.
    Thanks for the reply and comments.

    In the core classes, the armor restriction can be a hinderance but it is offset by their offensive capabilities which are more specialized than the fighter. Fighters are bland because they are more well rounded between offense and defense. Also keep in mind that the swashbuckler (and duelist) really arent meant to be front line fighters. They excell in one-on-one combat, duels. They can also wear magical armor and protective devices such as bracers of armor, amulates of natural armor etc. They "Can" strap on heavier armor in dire need, just as can rangers, it just isnt in their normal repetoir.

    However, with that said, the duelist does get the Defense Bonus against their designated opponent. It isnt much but it is something. Do you really think this should be increased? What are the specifics on the Unfettered's defenses again?

    I also use as an House Optional Rule: "Duelists may choose to forgo proficiency in light armor to instead train in the Unarmored Defense Proficiency (Beginner)* feat."
    * Swashbuckling Adventures

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