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The Pugilist Swashbuckler

A Pathfinder RPG Character Concept

By Neal LitherlandPublished about a year ago Updated about a year ago 5 min read

The sounds of a clanking chain, and the meaty thuds of impacts filled the training room. Lyris stood at the heavy bag, one fist, then the other, slamming into it. The bag wheezed and jumped, swinging this way and that before it was struck again, and again, dancing to her pace. Sweat rolled down her limbs, and her breathing grew harder, but she didn't stop until the leather gave way, and her fist tore into the bag. Grunting, she pulled her hand out, flexing her fingers.

"You're going to have to actually get a new bag one of these days," a voice said from the other side of the sparring court.

Artis stood there watching her. He was her opposite in every way; tall where she was petite, dark where she was light, old where she was young. There was a similarity to them that one could feel, though; an air of a storm ready to be let out of its box.

"It's your bag, I'm just borrowing it," Lyris said, panting as she smiled at her trainer. "You're up early."

"Couldn't be helped," he said, crossing the room toward her. "It's time to work."

"A new match?" Lyris asked, though there wasn't much hope in her voice.

"I'm afraid not," Artis said.

Lyris turned, and gave the bag one more, hard punch. This one was filled with all of her frustration. Then she took a deep breath, and wiped the dripping sweat from her face.

"Let me clean up," she said.

"Sure," Artis said, putting a hand on her shoulder. "You take your time. They won't be ready till mid-day."

Artis left her there. Lyris looked over at the far wall, and at the armor rack that stood there. The chain links gleamed in the light, and the helmet atop the stand was smooth and artful, polished until it gleamed. The gauntlets that hung from its sides, though, were ugly things. Dark, enameled metal with sharp spikes and raking claws, there was no denying their purpose. In the hands of an amateur, they would have been dangerous. With her hands inside them, they were lethal.

The Sweet (And Deadly) Science

When we think of a swashbuckler we tend to picture a graceful and dexterous duelist in the mold of one of the 3 Musketeers. Ironically that's the opposite of what the word originally meant, as I pointed out in What It Really Means To Be a Swashbuckler, getting into the history of these brash and brutish brawlers.

The swashbuckler class, however, requires only that we use piercing weapons, lighter armor, and bucklers. And an unexpected way to make that happen is to rely on spiked gauntlets for your damage-dealing needs.

For those who really want to hammer home the effectiveness of using spiked gauntlets for your swashbuckler (since they do have a rather pathetic damage die), I would recommend investing in the Shield Gauntlet Style feat tree. These feats allow you to treat your off-hand gauntlet as a buckler, qualify you for Deflect Arrows and Snatch Arrows, let you use a warpriest's Sacred Weapon damage die for your gauntlets (albeit at your BAB -4), grant you an extra attack of opportunity per round, and as a cap it lets you add any magical enhancement to your off-hand gauntlet as a shield bonus. It's a heavy investment, no disagreeing on that, but it is one that pays dividends. Especially if you combine this with feats like Piranha Strike for bonus damage, and Combat Reflexes to ensure you get all kinds of opportunities to parry incoming strikes.

And for those who want to hit all of the proficiency requirements, consider the Regional Recluse trait, which gives you proficiency with light shields, in addition to a bonus on Perception checks made at night. Assuming you're not dipping levels into any other martial classes that would take care of this for you!

As to which weapons would work best with this, most of the pre-made enchanted gauntlets lack spikes, and thus won't be useful (or at least as useful) for a swashbuckler (though if you find a good one, consider using it as your off-hand gauntlet to keep its effects going, and to gain corresponding bonuses from Shield Gauntlet Style). Increasing the crafting cost to add spikes to weapons like the Skullcrusher Gauntlets out of the Advanced Class Guide just might be worth the extra cost, though.

NOTE: Organized play often has restrictions on crafting your own items, which enchantments are allowed, and whether items can be modified for legal, table use. Always check to be sure the gauntlet options you want for your pugilist are allowed under the organization you're bringing them to, if you're participating in that kind of game.

Like, Follow, and Stay in Touch!

That's all for this week's Unusual Character Concepts post!

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About the Creator

Neal Litherland

Neal Litherland is an author, freelance blogger, and RPG designer. A regular on the Chicago convention circuit, he works in a variety of genres.



Blog: Improved Initiative and The Literary Mercenary

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