Thunder Knight – Hunter Archetype

This archetype is based on a campaign set in the first world.

Thunder Knights are the elite forces of the Thunder nation. To enter the imperial academy, students must be dedicated, driven, skilled, and above all – well connected. Entry into the Thunder Knights is the best path that mortals of the Thunder nation have into the justicars and eventually nobility and immortality.

The Thunder Knights are composed mostly of gnomes and ratfolk (the main residents of the Thunder nation) who ride flying mounts such as herons, rocs, or eagles. Many of them take the Thunder Knight hunter archetype

Thunder Knight

Mount (Ex): The Thunder knight must choose a flying creature as his animal companion. The creature must be one that either can carry her into battle or one that will attain that size by level 7. The Thunder Knight’s mount gains light armor proficiency as a bonus feat.

A Thunder knight not take an armor check penalty on Ride checks while riding her mount. The mount is always considered combat trained and begins play with Light Armor Proficiency as a bonus feat.

A Thunder Knight’s mount does not gain the ability to select hunter’s tricks from the skirmisher ranger archetype.

This alters the hunter’s animal companion class feature but otherwise functions in the same way.

Mounted Combat (Ex): Thunder Knights Gain Mounted Combat as a bonus feat.

Woodland Stride (Ex): This ability functions as the regular hunter’s ability but it also allows the Thunder Knight and her mount to fly through foliage without penalty.

Slipstream (Su): As the Thunder Knight grows in skill, her mount takes on some of her fey nature. At 7th level and every 6 levels thereafter, a Thunder Knight’s mount’s fly speed increases by 5 ft.

This replaces the bonus tricks her mount would normally gain at these levels.


Path of War NPCs: DMs want maneuvers too!

The Path of War classes are tons of fun, and they work fine for important NPCs. However if I want to create a bunch of mooks that can use maneuvers, I don’t want to keep track of ki pools, gambits or auras. So here is an NPC class that gives maneuvers and little else.

A note of challenge rating (CR): In the monster advancement rules in step 3, the rules say that when adding NPC classes to a monster the monster’s CR increases by 1 per 2 NPC levels. However, the gamemastering section (also step 3) tells us that NPC classes have a CR equal to their level -2. It seems to me that treating an NPC’s CR as being equal to half their level makes more sense and more correctly follows the monster creation chart. I will be using this assumption for my NPCs.


Class Skills

The warrior’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Handle Animal (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (martial) (Int), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), and Swim (Str).

The man-at-arms also gains the associated skills of the disciplines he knows as class skills.

Skill Ranks per Level: 2 + Int modifier.
Base Attack Bonus: 3/4
Hit die: d8
Good saves: Fortitude
Bad Saves: Will, Reflex

The man-at-arms is proficient with all martial weapons.

Maneuvers: The man-at-arms may choose 2 disciplines to learn maneuvers from. Though the man-at-arms learns maneuvers he only counts half his levels as initiator levels. See the following table for how many maneuvers he knows and can ready. At level 9 and every 4 levels thereafter the man-at-arms may learn a new maneuver in place of one he already knows.

The man-at-arms uses his wisdom as his initiating modifier.

The man-at-arms may recover maneuvers in one of two ways. He may recover 1 maneuver by spending a standard action. Once per encounter, when half of his allies are killed or knocked unconscious, the man-at-arms automatically recovers a number of maneuvers equal to his initiation modifier (minimum 2). Continue reading “Path of War NPCs: DMs want maneuvers too!”

Stand behind me! I shall not fall!

I’ve seen the Aid-Another build posted in a number of places. This is my take on it.

The goal of the build is to be a tank by making it futile to attack your allies. The core of the build is based around using the bodyguard feat in conjunction with the helpful trait to give your allies +4 or more AC when they are beside you. The best part of the build is that it is extraordinary flexible and can be stacked on top of many different chassis.

For my sample, I will use the Eldritch Guardian fighter archetype to cover this build’s main weakness: its own AC.

Tanky Thomas, Level 1 Human Eldritch Guardian
(20 point buy)
Strength          17 (+2 racial)
Dexterity         15
Constitution  14
Intelligence    13
Wisdom           12
Charisma          7

Traits: Adopted -> Helpful
Kin Guardian

Feats: Combat Reflexes, Bodyguard
Familiar: Andy the Armadillo (+1 AC) with Protector Archetype

With Scale mail and a heavy shield Thomas has a 20 AC, which is respectable. With his familiar protecting him, he has 22 ac. Three times per round, Thomas can attempt to deflect an attack against an ally by aiding another and granting them +4AC (+6 AC for people who are “like family”). Most importantly, this does not take any of Thomas’s actions for the round, so he can happily attack with his longsword for 1d8+3, or use aid another to give a beefier ally +4 to hit.

At the beginning of his adventure with new comrades he probably does not get a benefit from his kin guardian trait, but after he saves the lives of his party members a few times they will become like family.

A quick note: if you read bodyguard strictly according to the written text, you need to be able to reach the attacker and be adjacent to your ally. However, the creator of the feat has said that you should not need to threaten the attacker. If your GM agrees with this interpretation, take a mauler familiar instead, as at level 2, you will share your combat reflexes and bodyguard feat and your familiar will be able to guard you just like a protector, but will have the ability to mix it up in combat eventually.

As he levels, Thomas becomes even more versatile:

1 – Fighter 1 – Combat Reflexes, Bodyguard, Familiar
2 – Fighter 2 – Share Training
3 – Beast-Bonded Witch 1 – (Additional Traits)

Level three is where the trickery happens. We take a level of Beast-Bonded witch and use the Transfer Feats ability to teach our familiar the Helpful and Kin-Guardian traits. This means that our little armadillo can add +6 AC to Thomas or a close ally while aiding another. The circle is now closed and everyone in your party has +6 AC. But wait! There is more! You get a hex too! You can take Fortune, so that you can buff allies when attacking is inconvenient. The best part, is that if you took a mauler familiar or a small familiar, you can now have it aid allies on attacks and grant them a +4 to hit.

4 – Fighter 3 – Armor Training 1
5 – Fighter 4 – Combat Expertise, Intercept Charge
6- Fighter 5 – Weapon Training 1
7 – Honor-Guard Cavalier 1 – Tactician (Harrying Partners), Practiced Tactician

At this point, enemy attack rolls are getting high, and they are making many attacks, maybe your attacks of opportunity cant keep up? Enter Harrying Partners! Now you can spend one attack of opportunity to grant allies AC for a whole turn. But how much AC are we granting? At this point, Thomas can afford to buy +2 Benevolent Armor. Ideally, his familiar would also wear the same type of armor. This makes Thomas’ aid-another add +8 AC.

Two more levels of honor-guard cavalier will net you another +1 to your aid another bonus and let you retrain your level 1 bodyguard feat into something else. For your next feat, you could take Swift Aid if you don’t mind figuring out how it interacts with your huge aid-another bonus. A strict reading would give you the full bonus, as helpful specifically sets your bonus. If I were GMing i would just say that swift aid lets you apply half your bonus.

This is the core of my aid build. To build on it, you should also look into some of the cheaper aid-another magic items. The true-love locket will give you another +1 to the AC and attack bonus you grant. At higher levels, a ring of tactical precision will let an ally buy harrying partner or intercept charge for 11,000gp. An alternative interpretation of the build might use Covering Fire to aid another with a bow. That way, you could stand safely behind your allies and aid from there.