Rifleman (3.5e Class)

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Riflemen are masters of close combat with ranged weaponry. With a lack of melee weapon abilities, they rely on other party members and their own powerful attacks to avoid taking dangerous amounts of damage.

Making a Rifleman[edit]

Riflemen work best when there's someone on the front lines, holding their opponents at bay. Their powerful ranged attacks work wonders for their parties, and they are able of taking advantage of things that normally only melee attackers could. They cannot defend themselves well, though, and rely on a tank in the party to protect them.

Abilities: Dexterity is by far the most important attribute for a Rifleman, improving his accuracy and defenses. Intelligence increases the rate at which he can improve his vital skills. Wisdom allows him to notice things that other party members might miss.

Races: Any race can take up arms and fight as a rifleman, though races with a natural affinity for ranged combat tend to it most often.

Alignment: Any.

Starting Gold: 5d4×10 gp (125 gp).

Starting Age: As rogue (Simple).

Table: The Rifleman

Hit Die: d6

Level Base
Attack Bonus
Saving Throws Special
Fort Ref Will
1st +0 +0 +2 +0 Ranged Supremacy, Flanking Fire, Deadeye Shot +1d6
2nd +1 +0 +3 +0 Fake-Out
3rd +2 +1 +3 +1 Deadeye Shot +2d6
4th +3 +1 +3 +1 Flash of Insight
5th +3 +1 +4 +1 Headshot 1/day, Deadeye Shot +3d6
6th +4 +1 +4 +1 Ranged Combat Style
7th +5 +2 +5 +2 Deadeye Shot +4d6
8th +6/+1 +2 +5 +2 Uncanny Dodge
9th +6/+1 +2 +6 +2 Deadeye Shot +5d6
10th +7/+2 +3 +6 +3 Rapid Feint, Headshot 2/day
11th +8/+3 +3 +7 +3 Deadeye Shot +6d6
12th +9/+4 +4 +8 +4 Ranged Combat Style
13th +9/+4 +4 +8 +4 Deadeye Shot +7d6
14th +10/+5 +4 +9 +4 Covering Fire
15th +11/+6/+1 +5 +9 +5 Headshot 3/day, Deadeye Shot +8d6
16th +12/+7/+2 +5 +10 +5
17th +12/+7/+2 +5 +10 +5 Deadeye Shot +9d6
18th +13/+8/+3 +6 +11 +6 Shootout
19th +14/+9/+4 +6 +11 +6 Deadeye Shot +10d6
20th +15/+10/+5 +6 +12 +6 Headshot 4/day, Unpredictable

Class Skills (6 + Int modifier per level, ×4 at 1st level)
Balance (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge (local and history) (Int), Listen (Wis), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Search (Int), Sense Motive (Wis), Spot (Wis), Swim (Str), Tumble (Dex), Use Magic Device (Cha), Use Rope (Dex).

Class Features[edit]

All of the following are class features of the Rifleman.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Riflemen are proficient with all simple weapons, all crossbows, all firearms, all bows, the sap, the cutlass, the truncheon, the short sword, the trench knife, and light armor (but not shields).

Ranged Supremacy (Ex): The Rifleman's training gives him a more advanced degree of familiarity and skill with ranged weaponry. Rifleman class levels can replace Fighter levels for feats that usually require a minimum number of Fighter levels, such as Weapon Specialization, but only with ranged weapons. These levels stack with actual Fighter levels. For example, a Rifleman 4, a Fighter 4, and Rifleman 2/Fighter 2 would all qualify for Weapon Specialization (musket), but only the Fighter 4 could take Weapon Specialization (short sword).

Flanking Fire (Ex): Riflemen are able to maneuver to their foes' sides and backs, and take advantage of the way this exposes these foes to attack. A Rifleman's ranged attacks count as melee attacks for the purposes of determining and awarding flanking bonuses.

Deadeye Shot (Ex): Riflemen are trained to be able to strike their enemies from unexpected angles even in the chaos of a melee. Deadeye Shot acts like Sneak Attack, but only works with ranged weapons. A Rifleman can only use Deadeye Shot at ranges up to 60 ft, while either the target is denied a Dexterity bonus to AC or the Rifleman is considered to be flanking his target. Feats that apply to Sneak Attack apply to Deadeye Shot similarly. Deadeye Shot can be used to qualify for classes that require Sneak Attack, and any improvements to Sneak Attack that this class would gain are instead granted to Deadeye Shot. A Rifleman with levels as a Rogue may apply damage from both Sneak Attack and Deadeye Shot. As with a Sneak Attack, the extra damage dealt by Deadeye Shot is not multiplied on a critical hit.

Fake-Out (Ex): Starting at 2nd level, Riflemen are able to take advantage of a successful feint with their ranged attacks. Perform this feint as normal, making a Bluff check against the target's Sense Motive check.

Flash of Insight (Ps): A Rifleman's natural gift at locating targets improves his ability to notice other things as well. Starting at 4th level, he adds 1/2 his class level to Spot, Search, and Listen checks. As a psi-like ability, this is negated by effects that dispel or nullify psionics, but is always active, and never provokes attacks of opportunity.

Headshot (Ex): Starting at 5th level, Riflemen become able to aim their ranged attacks at their enemies' weak points. Once a day, he may expend his use of this ability as a swift action to make his next attack, if successful, an automatic critical hit. If this attack misses, the use of the ability is expended without effect. The Rifleman gains an additional use of this ability every 5 levels afterward. This ability cannot be used in conjunction with a Sneak Attack, Deadeye Shot, or similar ability.

Ranged Combat Style (Ex): At 6th level, a Rifleman can select a bonus feat from the Ranger's 2nd level archery combat style list. At 12th level, a Rifleman can select a bonus feat from the Ranger's 6th level archery combat style list.

Uncanny Dodge (Ex): At 8th level, the Rifleman's ability to avoid damage improves. As long as he's wearing light or no armor, he retains his Dexterity bonus to AC, even while flat-footed or against invisible attackers. He still loses his Dexterity bonus to AC if immobilized. If the Rifleman already has Uncanny Dodge from another class, he gains Improved Uncanny Dodge instead.

Rapid Feint (Ex): At 10th level, a Rifleman's advanced training and years of experience allow him to feint more rapidly than ever. He is from here on able to make a Bluff check to feint in combat as a move action. If he could do so already, he becomes able to make this Bluff check to feint as a swift action. If he can do this already as well, he becomes able to make this bluff check as a free action.

Covering Fire (Ex): Starting from 12th level, Riflemen can expend a move action to do nothing. Upon doing so, and until their next turn, they threaten attacks of opportunity with their ranged weapon out to 30 ft.

Shootout (Ex): A Rifleman's reflexes and skill increase his ability to fight effectively with his ranged weapon even at close quarters. Starting at 18th level, he no longer provokes attacks of opportunity for using ranged weapons in melee.

Unpredictable (Ex): At 20th level, the Rifleman becomes able to switch targets on the fly. Making a Bluff check to feint becomes a swift action. If he could do this already, he becomes able to make a Bluff check to feint as a free action.

Epic Rifleman[edit]

Table: The Epic Rifleman

Hit Die: d6

Level Special
21st Deadeye Shot +11d6
23rd Deadeye Shot +12d6
24th Bonus Feat
25th Headshot 5/day, Deadeye Shot +13d6
27th Deadeye Shot +14d6
28th Bonus Feat
29th Deadeye Shot +15d6
30th Headshot 6/day

6 + Int modifier skill points per level.

Deadeye Shot: The Rifleman's Deadeye Shot continues to improve, gaining a die every other level starting at 21st.

Headshot: The Rifleman gains an additional use of his Headshot ability every 5 levels after 20th.

Bonus Feats: The epic Rifleman gains a bonus feat (selected from the list of epic Rifleman bonus feats) every 4 levels after 20th.

Epic Rifleman Bonus Feat List: Blinding Speed, Combat Archery, Dexterous Fortitude, Dexterous Will, Epic Dodge, Epic Reputation, Epic Skill Focus, Epic Speed, Improved Combat Reflexes, Improved Sneak Attack, Legendary Climber, Lingering Damage, Self-Concealment, Sneak Attack of Opportunity, Spellcasting Harrier, Superior Initiative, Uncanny Accuracy.

Campaign Information[edit]

Playing a Rifleman[edit]

Riflemen tend to fill the role of support in a party. While they lack the non-combat verstility of a Rogue, they make up for that by being able to perform vastly better in a battle, along with the other party members.

Religion: Riflemen are as varied as the world, and any two could be from wildly different backgrounds. It is most likely that a Rifleman will worship a deity popular to his race, but gods and goddesses of battle, pleasure, and drinking aren't too uncommon either.

Other Classes: Riflemen tend to fill the role of support. As such, other support classes, like Bards and Rogues, are most likely to either get along or get offended. Melee characters like the Barbarian and Fighter tend to appreciate the way a Rifleman can open up opponents to attack. Arcane spellcasters like the Wizard and Sorceror tend to overlook the Rifleman as a less-versatile encroacher on their territory. Other classes would either lack an opinion either way, or judge on past experiences.

Combat: The Rifleman exists to pour damage on a specific, powerful enemy while his fellows open up opportunities for him and each other.

Advancement: Classes and feats that apply to ranged weapons are natural extensions of a Rifleman's abilities. Spells would expand his versatility. Melee improvements would likely go unused.

Riflemen in the World[edit]

Riflemen are rampant wherever there are rifles for them. Their weapons make them able to support or work in any sort of group, or even alone if needed.

Organizations: Riflemen, because of the versatility of their weapons, can be found in virtually any organization, from spy rings that need enforcers, to fighting companies that need archers.

NPC Reactions: Riflemen are so common that the sight of one would be nothing special. If anything would be odd, it would be one with an uncommon weapon, such as a firearm in a medieval setting. More common would be one wielding a bow or crosssbow.

Rifleman Lore[edit]

Characters with ranks in Knowledge (Local) can research Riflemen to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.

Knowledge (Local)
DC Result
5 Riflemen use bows, crossbows, and firearms to lethal effect at short ranges.
10 It's said that Riflemen can even take advantage of an opponent's exposed back and sides with their weapons.
15 The best Riflemen are capable of almost effortlessly tricking their targets into leaving an opening in their defenses.
20 A Rifleman's mastery of ranged weapons in close quarters doesn't extend to long ranges, however.

Riflemen in the Game[edit]

A Rifleman can be found in any position where a ranged attacker would be expected or required to work in a group, or up close and personal.

Adaptation: In campaigns and settings without firearms, the name can be changed to Archer, Sharpshooter, Bowman, or the like, and played as is.

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