Gladiator, Pansaer (3.5e Class)
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The clash of steel on steel is a nuanced kind of music, one enjoyed by the noble warrior and the violent thug alike. Gladiators are the masters of the art of combat: they are gifted warriors and can take on a single powerful opponent or a horde of weaker ones, but they are showmen as well. Through their mastery of oratory arts and body language, a gladiator can intimidate foes effectively, and few can look in the eyes of a gladiator in the throes of frenzy.
The name gladiator brings to mind marble stadiums filled with half-naked men struggling for dominance, but the moniker is misleading. A gladiator can be a pit fighter, a tribal chieftain, even a streetwise thug; the only requirements are a keen mind, a sharp tongue and a strong hand.
Making a Gladiator
Gladiators are big, imposing figures, and work perfectly both as the main fighter or the supporting fighter of a group. Their knowledge of combat tricks and ability to tie down an opponent allows them to protect their companions while still contributing to a fight. However, even though a gladiator is perfectly at ease with one-on-one combat with even powerful foes, they can't overcome large numbers of enemies without backup.
Abilities: Since gladiators are first and foremost close-combat fighters, they benefit from high Strength and Constitution. Dexterity is also important, since gladiators often don't wear the heaviest armor, and many enjoy ranged weaponry as well. A gladiator who chooses expertise as their combat style will benefit from Dexterity the most. Many of the gladiator class features have Charisma as their key ability, so invest a few points if you intend to make good use of these abilities.
Races: Gladiators come from all races, since bloodlust knows no racial bounds. It doesn't matter if the race itself is frail: an elven gladiator, for example, will make up of their lack of stamina with speed and skill.
Alignment: The alignment of a gladiator depends on what culture they hail from. While an eye-gouging, backstabbing pit fighter will likely be Chaotic and tend towards Evil, the ritual warrior of an ancient, benevolent society is almost certainly Lawful and tends towards Good.
Starting Gold: 6d4x10 gp (150 gp)
|1st||+1||+2||+0||+0||Master of maneuvers|
|3rd||+3||+3||+1||+1||Improvisation, skilled combatant +1|
|5th||+5||+4||+1||+1||Combat style feat|
|6th||+6/+1||+5||+2||+2||Demoralize opponent (move action)|
|7th||+7/+2||+5||+2||+2||Superior contest, skilled combatant +2|
|8th||+8/+3||+6||+2||+2||Combat style feat|
|9th||+9/+4||+6||+3||+3||Demoralize opponent (longer duration)|
|11th||+11/+6/+1||+7||+3||+3||Combat style feat, skilled combatant +3|
|12th||+12/+7/+2||+8||+4||+4||Demoralize opponent (free action)|
|14th||+14/+9/+4||+9||+4||+4||Scorn the consequences 1/day|
|15th||+15/+10/+5||+9||+5||+5||Demoralize opponent (frightened), skilled combatant +4|
|18th||+18/+13/+8/+3||+11||+6||+6||Demoralize opponent (multiple)|
|19th||+19/+14/+9/+4||+11||+6||+6||Skilled combatant +5|
|20th||+20/+15/+10/+5||+12||+6||+6||Scorn the consequences 2/day|
Class Skills (4 + Int modifier per level, ×4 at 1st level)
All of the following are class features of the gladiator.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Gladiators are proficient with all simple and martial weapons, plus the bolas, net, spiked chain, and whip. Gladiators are proficient with light and medium armor, but not with shields.
Master of Maneuvers (Ex): When a gladiator successfully bull rushes, disarms, feints, overruns, sunders or trips an opponent, he can immediately make an attack of opportunity against that opponent. This attack counts as one of the gladiator's attacks of opportunity for that round.
Combat Style (Ex): At 2nd level, a gladiator must select one of two combat styles to pursue: expertize or power. This choice affects the character’s class features but does not restrict his selection of feats or special abilities in any way.
If the gladiator selects expertize, he is treated as having the Combat Expertise feat, even if he does not have the normal prerequisites for that feat.
If the gladiator selects power, he is treated as having the Power Attack feat, even if he does not have the normal prerequisites for that feat.
The benefits of the gladiator's chosen style apply only when he wears no armor, light armor or medium armor. He loses all benefits of his combat style when wearing heavy armor.
Improvisation (Ex): A gladiator of 3rd level is proficient with improvised weapons and thus doesn't take a -4 penalty to attack rolls made with such weapons. Furthermore, a gladiator can choose improvised weapons when taking feats like Weapon Focus.
Skilled Combatant (Ex): Starting at 3rd level, a gladiator gains a competence bonus on checks to bull rush, disarm, feint, overrun, sunder or trip an opponent. This bonus is +1 at 3rd level and increases by 1 for every four gladiator levels thereafter (+2 at 7th, +3 at 11th, +4 at 15th, and +5 at 19th).
Contest (Ex): At 4th level, a gladiator gains the ability to challenge an opponent to one-on-one combat as a swift action. The target of a contest must have a language of some sort and an Intelligence score of 3 or higher. Both the gladiator and the opponent he contests gain a +2 bonus on attack and damage rolls against each other and a -4 penalty on attack and damage rolls against other targets. The contest lasts for the duration of the current encounter, and a gladiator can only contest one opponent at a time. If the contested opponent dies, the gladiator can contest a new opponent. He may use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + his Charisma modifier.
Combat Style Feat (Ex): At 5th, 8th and 11th level, a gladiator's aptitude in his chosen combat style (expertize or power) improves. If he selected expertize at 2nd level, choose Improved Disarm, Improved Feint or Improved Trip. He is treated as having that feat, even if he does not have the normal prerequisites for that feat.
If the gladiator selected power at 2nd level, choose Improved Bull Rush, Improved Overrun or Improved Sunder. He is treated as having that feat, even if he does not have the normal prerequisites for that feat.
As before, the benefits of the gladiator's chosen style apply only when he wears no armor, light armor or medium armor. He loses all benefits of his combat style when wearing heavy armor.
Demoralize Opponent (Ex): Gladiators are skilled at jeering and bullying foes in such a way as to reduce their effectiveness in combat. Starting at 6th level, a gladiator can use the demoralize opponent function of the Intimidate skill as a move action. At 9th level, an opponent demoralized by a gladiator is shaken for 1d4 rounds instead of 1 round. Ay 12th level, a gladiator can demoralize an opponent as a free action once per turn. At 15th level, a gladiator can further terrorize a shaken opponent, in spite of what caused that opponent to become shaken. When a gladiator manages to demoralize an opponent that's already shaken, that opponent becomes frightened for 1d4 rounds. At 18th level, a gladiator can attempt to demoralize each opponent he threatens when demoralizing opponents.
Superior Contest (Ex): Starting at 7th level, a gladiator and his target gain a +4 bonus on attack and damage rolls against each other and a -8 penalty on attack and damage against other targets instead of the normal benefits and penalties when contesting.
Unfair Contest (Ex): At 10th level, the target of a gladiator's contest no longer gains a bonus on attack and damage rolls, although they still take the penalty as normal.
Scorn the Consequences (Ex): At 14th level, a gladiator can use sheer determination to ignore the negative effects of a harmful effect. Once per day when the gladiator fails a Fortitude, Reflex or Will save, he can instead choose to succeed on that save by expending an use of scorn the consequences.
At 20th level, the gladiator can scorn the consequences one additional time per day.
Hideous Strength (Ex): Starting at 16th level, a gladiator adds 2 times his Strength bonus to the damage result when wielding a weapon two-handed (unless the weapon is light) and adds his Strength modifier to the damage result when wielding a weapon in his off hand.
|21st||Demoralize opponent (panicked)|
|23rd||Skilled combatant +6|
|26th||Scorn the consequences 3/day|
|27th||Skilled combatant +7|
4 + Int modifier skill points per level.
Demoralize Opponent (Ex): A gladiator can further terrorize a frightened opponent, in spite of what caused that opponent to become frightened. When a gladiator manages to demoralize an opponent that's already frightened, that opponent becomes panicked for 1d4 rounds.
Skilled Combatant (Ex): The epic gladiator's competence bonus to bull rush, disarm, feint, overrun, sunder or trip an opponent continues to increase by 1 for every four gladiator levels after 19th (+6 at 23rd, and +7 at 27th level).
Scorn the Consequences (Ex): The epic gladiator gains one use of scorn the consequences per day every six levels after 20th.
Bonus Feats: The epic gladiator gains a bonus feat (selected from the list of epic gladiator bonus feats) every five levels after 20th.
Human Gladiator Starting Package
Skill Selection: Pick a number of skills equal to 4 + Int modifier.
Feat: Weapon Focus (spiked chain).
Bonus Feat (human): Improved Initiative.
Gear: Hide armor, 20 arrows, backpack, waterskin, bedroll, tent.
Gold: 4d4 gp
Playing a Gladiator
Religion: Gladiators are generally a warmongering bunch, and so are the gods they venerate. A gladiator is likely to have little time for organized religion and rituals, although exceptions exist, especially in theocratic cultures. Common targets of worship are Erythnul, Heironeous, Hextor and Kord. Elven gladiators often worship Corellon Larethian, while orc and half-orc gladiators bow to Gruumsh.
Other Classes: A gladiator can replace a barbarian or fighter as the main melee combatant of the party, or support one in stead of a ranger or rogue thanks to their ability to tie down and harass foes. Gladiators enjoy the support of spellcasters, especially clerics, since they can be a bit vulnerable if not buffed and healed appropriately.
Combat: Gladiators are best at melee combat, although with a few feats and choice of weaponry they can serve as respectable ranged combatants as well. A gladiator is living to his potential only if he's using the many special actions he has in combat: a gladiator disarming and tripping foes left and right is a happy gladiator.
Advancement: A gladiator can multiclass fairly freely, since even though their abilities improve with levels, they can use most of them even at low levels. Multiclassing into a more durable class, like barbarian, can increase the gladiator's life expectancy, and a few levels in a specialist class like the rogue can give a gladiator some variety.
Gladiators in the World
|“||I've killed men for gold coins and for silver coins, and in dire times I've killed men for a few scant coppers. Hell, I've killed men for cheers. What makes you think I won't kill you?||”|
|—Gruller of Broken Bones, half-orc gladiator|
Gladiators tend to be city-folk, since that's where most of their work opportunities arise. Those gladiators who choose the adventuring lifestyle will travel far and wide, but will often return to or at least yearn for the glory of the fighting pit and the cheers of the crowd.
Daily Life: Some gladiators devote themselves fully to their fighting art: they live at their arena or other such location, train there and fight when ordered. Others still travel far and wide, seeking ever-greater challenges in the world. Gladiators tend to concentrate on their work, and thus expect others (or hire them) to take care of day-to-day business: maintaining camp, buying necessities and so on.
Organizations: A gladiator often belongs to a gladiator school or some other similar organization, which trains or has trained him and provides for him. The exception to this rule are free gladiators, either those who've escaped from an enslaving arena or those who choose to hone their craft abroad.
NPC Reactions: How people react to a gladiator depends on their culture. Warlike cultures whose members are used to displays of violence usually treat gladiators with respect, adoration and even fear, while more peaceful cultures and societies tend to shun or even hunt them.
Characters with ranks in Knowledge (local) or Knowledge (history) can research gladiators to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.
|5||Gladiators are fierce combatants who excel at defeating foes in one-on-one combat.|
|10||The greatest weapon the gladiator has at his disposal is his skill and persona: a gladiator can devastate a foe mentally with threats and insults and physically through superior combat skills.|
|15||Hold on to your weapon and your position when fighting a gladiator: they are masters at bull rushing, disarming, feinting, overrunning, sundering and tripping opponents.|
|20||The greatest of gladiators can withstand even the worst of attacks, shrugging them off like they were nothing.|
Gladiators in the Game
Gladiators allow for more varied combat: instead of simply plowing through foes with attacks, a gladiator can devastate foes with their special actions as well. They have a fair number of skill points, allowing them to contribute in that department as well, and are great roleplaying opportunities.
Sample Encounter: The Pit in Calimport is a hive of gladiators and pit fighters, some seeking to prove their worth, others to sate their bloodlust, and all to earn a few bloody coins. One of them is Zhalom bin Noi, a centaur from the east, who gave up a life of luxury to challenge and test himself.
EL 7: Zhalom has no need of fighting outside the Pit, and indeed never does, but he does take up challenges from worthy opponents. This means he will usually be faced by one among the party, meaning he is at a fantastic position to make use of his abilities.
|Male centaur gladiator 4|
|CN Large Monstrous Humanoid|
|Init/Senses||+3/Listen +8, Spot +8|
|AC||19, touch 12, flat-footed 16|
(-1 size, +3 Dex, +4 armor, +3 natural)
|hp||56 (8 HD)|
|Speed||50 ft. (10 squares)|
|Melee||+1 guisarme +13/+8 (2d4+7/×3) and 2 hooves +6 (1d6+2)|
|Ranged||masterwork bolas +11 (1d4+4 nonlethal)|
|Abilities||Str 18, Dex 16, Con 15, Int 10, Wis 13, Cha 14|
|SQ||darkvision 60 ft., master of maneuvers, combat style (expertise), improvisation|
|Feats||Combat ExpertiseCOMBAT STYLE, Dodge, Short HaftPHB2, Weapon Focus (guisarme)|
|Skills||Intimidate +13, Listen +8, Sense Motive +6, Spot +8|
|Possessions||+1 guisarme, three masterwork bolas, masterwork breastplate|
|Master of Maneuvers (Ex)||When Zhalom successfully bull rushes, disarms, feints, overruns, sunders or trips an opponent, he can immediately make an attack of opportunity against that opponent. This attack counts as one of his attacks of opportunity for that round.|
|Skilled Combatant (Ex)||Zhalom gains a +1 competence bonus on checks to bull rush, disarm, feint, overrun, sunder or trip an opponent.|
|Contest (Ex)||Zhalom has the ability to challenge an opponent to one-on-one combat as a swift action. The target of a contest must have a language of some sort and an Intelligence score of 3 or higher. Both Zhalom and the opponent he contests gain a +2 bonus on attack and damage rolls against each other and a -4 penalty on attack and damage rolls against other targets. The contest lasts for the duration of the current encounter, and Zhalom can only contest one opponent at a time. If the contested opponent dies, Zhalom can contest a new opponent. He may use this ability 5 times per day.|
Zhalom is the undefeated master of the Pit. His ability to use the guisarme is amazing: he'll start by tripping a foe, then seeks to disarm if he succeeds. This is followed by a barrage of attacks, as well as repeated trips and disarms if the opponent is resisting them. Zhalom uses contest on his turn, making sure he's the first to receive the benefit, and will avoid using the ability if he believes it'll benefit his foe more than him. Zhalom take 5-foot steps to always benefit from his reach, although Short Haft means he isn't in trouble if forced against a wall. If the enemy attempts to keep their distance, Zhalom employs his bolas to trip foes, then charges into melee.