Fencer (3.5e Class)
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"A classical fencer is supposed to be one who observes a fine position, whose attacks are fully developed, whose hits are marvelously accurate, his parries firm and his ripostes executed with precision. One must not forget that this regularity is not possible unless the adversary is a party to it. It is a conventional bout, which consists of parries, attacks, and returns, all rhyming together."
Making a Fencer
The fencer excels in melee combat, a good frontline fighter who can easily avoid damage with his Parry and Deflect class features. The fencer's downside is that he foregoes damage for defense and is lacking power, and is on the defensive more than often because of this.
Abilities: A fencer is heavily reliant upon his Dexterity. Constitution is also important as this class relies heavily upon melee confrontation in order to deal damage and take advantage of their Parry class feature. Wisdom is merely an augmentation score but for that extra edge on your enemy it is advisable to not make this ability your dump score.
Races: Fencers are comprised mainly of the 'noble' races, these include Humans and Elves but specialist schools which deal in such have been known to be in existence - though attendance is known to be quite expensive. If you have the discipline, the time and the money, then the profession of the fencer might just be right for you.
Alignment: Any. Most fencers will tend to use their skills for lawful purposes due to their backgrounds in the nobility. Some fencers tend towards neutrality as their main goal is their aptitude with arms over the pursuit of justice.
Starting Gold: 5d4×10 gp (125 gp).
Starting Age: Moderate
|1st||+1||+2||+2||+0||Bonus Feat, Parry, Deflect|
|2nd||+2||+3||+3||+0||Ballestra, You’re Open!|
|4th||+4||+4||+4||+1||Disengage, Uncanny Dodge|
|8th||+8/+3||+6||+6||+2||Improved Disarm, Improved Uncanny Dodge, Press|
|9th||+9/+4||+6||+6||+3||Prise De Fer|
|11th||+11/+6/+1||+7||+7||+3||Improved Evasion, Indirect Strike|
Class Skills (4 + Int modifier per level, ×4 at 1st level)
All of the following are class features of the Fencer.
Parry (Ex): At 1st level a fencer may take an immediate action a number of times equal to half his level, rounded down per round (minimum of 1) to deflect a single melee attack that would otherwise harm him. By making an attack roll with the DC equal to the attack roll of the melee attack against the fencer he may instead take no damage from the attack. If the attack relies upon touching the fencer such as a touch spell requiring an unarmed strike, the attack is counted as missing the player. The winner of the parry roll may then make an attack of opportunity on the loser.
Deflect (Ex): At 1st level a fencer may take an immediate action a number of times equal to half his level, rounded down (minimum of 1) per round to deflect a Ranged attack that would otherwise harm him. By making an attack roll with the DC equal to the attack roll of the Ranged attack against the fencer he may instead take no damage from the attack. If the attack relies upon touching the fencer such as a touch spell, the attack is counted as missing the player.
Ballestra (Ex): By making a small jumping action instead of stepping towards his opponent, the fencer gains a small advantage by taking his enemies off guard. A fencer may now add his wisdom modifier to his initiative checks so long as he is not flatfooted or otherwise incapable of movement. This bonus stacks with the Improved Initiative feat.
You're Open! (Ex): At 2nd level, the fencer may take advantage of his opponents exposure from either catching them off guard or with assistance from allies. When catching an opponent flat footed, a fencer adds half his class levels to the critical confirmation check. In addition the bonuses to attack bonus granted by flanking is increased from +2 to +3. A fencer may overrule an opponent’s improved uncanny dodge ability to avoid his flanking bonus if he has at least four or more levels in fencer than the opponent has the respective class.
Evasion (Ex): At 3rd level and higher, a fencer can avoid even magical and unusual attacks with great agility. If he makes a successful Reflex saving throw against an attack that normally deals half damage on a successful save, he instead takes no damage. A helpless fencer does not gain the benefit of evasion.
Disengage (Ex): At 4th level, a fencer may rend his opponent flatfooted until the beginning of his next turn as a result of a successful parry attempt, but can not make an attack of opportunity, if an opponent has the uncanny dodge class feature then he may only render the attacker flatfooted if he has four or more levels in fencer than the opponent has the relevant class levels granting him the said ability.
Lunge (Ex): At 5th level, a fencer can now lunge across the battlefield at an unprepared enemy ignoring all defenses. A fencer may as a move action may attack a flatfooted enemy dealing double damage and stunning the enemy.
Uncanny Dodge (Ex): Starting at 4th level, a fencer can react to danger before his senses would normally allow him to do so. He retains his Dexterity bonus to AC (if any) even if he is caught flat-footed or struck by an invisible attacker. However, he still loses his Dexterity bonus to AC if immobilized.
Recovery (Ex): A fencer may quickly recover from a lunge at an enemy, bringing him swiftly back to a defendable en garde position. The fencer does not suffer the usual -2 penalty to AC following a charge.
Redoublement (Ex): A fencer uses his quick wit and swordsmanship to make a quick secondary attack after the initial attack whilst their opponent is still on the back foot. By taking a -4 to his initial attack roll, the fencer may make two attacks as a standard action, each with separate attack rolls at his highest BAB. He may use this ability at the end of a charge and still gain the usual +2 to attack to each separate strike. These attacks must be made against the same target.
Flèche (Ex): By using skilled footwork, a fencer may sweep past his opponent in one swift movement, coming from the French ‘arrow’. A fencer may as a move action (meaning all of his movement speed) to move from one side of his opponent to the opposite border without provoking an attack of opportunity. He may not do so if all tiles either side of the enemy is blocked by either terrain or other creatures – friend or foe.
Sidestep (Ex): At 7th level a fencer may avoid his opponent’s advances as well as move with them given the opportunity to strike by completing a rapid cross-over action with his footwork should he need to retreat or press his advantage. Whenever an enemy who is within the fencer’s threatened range chooses to make a 5-foot step, the fencer may make a 5-foot step as an immediate action even if during his own turn he had already taken a 5-foot step. A fencer may also make this movement if he makes a successful parry even if he chooses not to make an attack of opportunity against his opponent. This action may only be taken once per round per each of these instances.
Improved Uncanny Dodge (Ex): A fencer of 8th level or higher can no longer be flanked. This defense denies a rogue the ability to sneak attack the character by flanking him, unless the attacker has at least four more rogue levels than the target does. If a character already has uncanny dodge (see above) from a second class, the character automatically gains improved uncanny dodge instead, and the levels from the classes that grant uncanny dodge stack to determine the minimum rogue level required to flank the character.
Press (Ex): A fencer may use his own blade to make a sudden strike against the middle or tip of an opponent’s weapon, momentarily breaking its line and making them far easier to disarm with a simple extension towards the hand. By making a successful melee attack roll against the opponent, he may forgo damage to instead grant himself his class levels as a bonus to his disarm attempt so long as he makes the said attempt before the start of the target’s next turn, allowing them to recover their composure. He may sacrifice any attack in a full-attack or even one of his extra attacks granted by the redoublement class feature. The player may state that he is using a press after a successful attack roll.
Prise De Fer (Ex): At 9th level a fencer may make his own weapon align with his opponent’s and whilst engaging, hold it in place, denying them the ability to strike without leaving themselves open to attack. By making a successful melee attack roll against the opponent, he may forgo damage to make the next attack provoke an attack of opportunity from the fencer unless they themselves choose not to take their next attack (being their first attack at their highest BAB) but may make all subsequent attacks without provoking the said attack of opportunity from the fencer. The player may state that he is using a prise de fer after a successful attack roll.
Improved Evasion (Ex): This ability works like evasion, except that while the fencer still takes no damage on a successful Reflex saving throw against attacks henceforth he takes only half damage on a failed save. A helpless fencer does not gain the benefit of improved evasion.
Indirect Strike (Ex): At 11th level the fencer may draw his blade after striking and align it in a different position in order to strike either at a different angle or deceive his opponent whilst continuing with the same type of attack. A fencer may now make a third attack during his Redoublement, but all these attacks are made at a -6 penalty for each strike (at his highest BAB for each strike) He may still elect to make only two strikes at -4 to each respective attack. In addition the fencer may now make each separate attack granted by the Redoublement class feature at a different target.
Expert Grip (Ex): A fencer has learned to make more use of his ‘manipulators’ – the index finger and thumb – in order to allow him to make small but effective strikes. The fencer may finesse any sword – that is, use his dexterity modifier in place of his strength modifier for the purpose of determining his attack bonus – with which he is proficient. This is a separate ability if the fencer has acquired the weapons finesse feat, this simply overlaps the range of weapons with which he may finesse.
Appel (Ex): By stamping his foot on the ground as a distraction to draw a reaction, the fencer can effectively make the small area around him a difficult place to keep one’s focus. At 13th level all squares threatened by the fencer are counted as difficult terrain for the movement purposes of enemies, but not allies.
Retreat (Ex): By making conservative, cautious withdrawals the fencer can avoid leading his movements to render him unguarded. At 13th level, whenever the fencer takes the option to make a withdrawal action, he does not provoke an attack of opportunity from anyone regardless of threatened squares.
Engagement (Ex): When engaged in battle, a fencer does not give his opponents the time to produce an adequate defense, lest they gain further advantage. Opposing casters and those with spell-like abilities are unable to cast defensively whilst within the fencer’s threatened range. This means that any and all spells casts will provoke an attack of opportunity from the fencer.
Point-In-Line (Ex): By studying his opponent continuously whilst they fight, the fencer may gain insight into their style and weaknesses in technique, allowing them to further exploit them. At 14th level the fencer may select an opponent that he is attacking and designate that he is ‘studying’ his opponent’s style, even if they are not attacking the fencer himself. Designating a target is a free action. At the beginning of the fencer’s next turn, he gains a +1 insight bonus to both attack and damage rolls against his designated target so long as all attacks during that turn are against that same target. This bonus stacks every round the fencer is engaged with his target up to a maximum amount equal to his Wisdom modifier. The bonus will reset if the fencer chooses attack another target as his focus is broken on his original opponent.
Thrust (Ex): By thrusting the blade of the sword parallel to its length, the fencer may gain extra reach by overextending the arm towards his target. At 15th level, a fencer adds an additional 5’ to his threatened squares when in use of a sword with which he is proficient.
Corps-A-Corps (Ex): When locking blades with the enemy, the fencer may make a body check against the enemy should he gain enough leverage to overpower them by punching, head butting or otherwise breaking contact forcefully. At 16th level, any time the fencer’s opposed check to a special combat option like a bull rush, overrun, grapple or trip attempt, the opponent will become dazed for 1 round.
Remise (Ex): Without further withdrawing the arm to strike again, the fencer may again use his weapon to make further swift strikes at their opponent. The penalty for further attacks granted by the redoublement class feature is reduced by 2 (for example two attacks may be made as a standard action at -2 instead of -4 and three attacks at -4 instead of -6). In addition, a fourth attack may be made at a -6 penalty to all attack rolls that round.
Displacement (Ex): A fencer makes use of complex footwork in order to carry him and his blade smoothly and swiftly, making more ground than others in the same amount of time. At 17th level a fencer may travel 10 feet instead of the regular 5 feet during the aptly named 5 foot step – not provoking an attack of opportunity for the duration of the move. A fencer may move in any direction for the second part of his 10 foot movement so long as he does not return to the square which he started the turn in.
Broken Time (Ex): By changing the tempo at which the fencer strikes his opponent, he may catch them off guard by drawing out a mistimed attack or an inappropriate response to his strikes. All attacks of opportunity granted by the parry class feature are now counted as touch attacks, negating both armor and shield bonuses to AC.
4 + Int modifier skill points per level.
Human Fencer Starting Package
Skill Selection: Pick a number of skills equal to 5 + Int modifier.
Feat: Combat Expertise.
Gear: Studded Leather Armor, .
Playing a Fencer
Other Classes: Fencers get along well with fighters, rangers, and rogues, as they work well with them and adapt to roles that they don't fit, better putting their skills to use. They fit together well with any of the other classes, though, as they have no predisposition that makes them come into conflict.
Combat: Fencers are Defensive strikers who focus less on attacking, and more on counter-attacking enemies and stopping them from getting successful attacks in.
Fencers in the World
Notables: Many nobles take up fencing, as it is seen as elegant and civilized. There have even been famous fencers outside the d20 world, like Zorro.
Organizations: Fencers can be found in many organizations, like fighter clans and thieves' guilds. There are many schools for fencing, where masters teach further generations the arts of fencing.
NPC Reactions: Most NPCs see fencers as they see fighters, letting their reputation and appearance dictate their reaction. Some might think them more civilized than a normal fighter, or might think that they are a rogue and shun them.
Characters with ranks in <-the appropriate skills-> can research <-pluralized class name-> to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.