Swashbuckler Playtest for Fantasy AGE

The Adventure Game Engine is a wonderfully elegant system and Fantasy AGE made excellent refinements to that system. However, coming from Pathfinder, there are limitations to fleshing out certain archetypes and letting you play them from level 1 onward. This is especially the case for character concepts that fall between classes, in particular the swashbuckler.

This is in large part why Pathfinder eventually made a class dedicated to the concept and why I tried my hand at making one in Fantasy AGE. It has been a very educational experience, as one of the players at my table has been playtesting one. I decided on only focusing on the first 10 levels, since most mechanical class powers come in to play between 1-10 and most campaigns do not reach high levels.


Primary Abilities: Accuracy, Communication, Constitution, and Dexterity

Secondary Abilities: Fighting, Intelligence, Perception, Strength, and Willpower

Starting Health: 30 + Constitution + 1d6

Weapon Groups: Brawling, Light Blades, Staves, and either Curved Blades or Dueling weapons.

Curved Blades Group (Accuracy)

Weapon Damage Min. Str. Cost
Cutlass 1d6+2 15 sp
Scimitar 2d6 0 18 sp
Falchion* 2d6+2 2 21 sp

*Falchions are two-handed weapons.

Since pirates are what most people think about when ‘swashbuckler’ comes to mind, it seemed like a good excuse to introduce more weapons, namely the cutlass.


Class Cross-Training: You are also treated as a Rogue and Warrior for taking talents.

This was a very clear decision, as I did not want to build a whole new set of talents just for the class and represents melding both classes.


Unfettered Defense: While unarmored and using a light shield or no shield, you receive +1 bonus to your Defense.

You probably noticed that the swashbuckler starts out with no armor. This was intentional, to represent the amateur adventurer beginning his or her career and you often do not see sailor-types wearing armor.  The build being used for the playtest had 16 Defense (10 + Dex 4, +1 light shield, +1 from UD), which made him very difficult to hit. This is still the case, but the advantage is quickly losing its effectiveness, as the player characters are now level 4 and enemies do a lot more damage.

Plus, since the swashbuckler can take warrior talents, he or she can invest in armor without losing too much.

Weapon Finesse: While wielding a melee weapon based on Accuracy, you add your Dexterity instead of Strength to the damage roll.

We encountered a problem with this during the playtest. During one in encounter where the party was faced with a boarding party led by a half-orc in heavy plate, the swashbuckler was nearly completely hamstrung as he could not do enough damage to overcome the Armor Rating of heavy plate. 

This may have been a fluke, but I can see a similar situation arising in the future. This will definitely need to be re-worked before we play again.

Starting Talents: You become a Novice in one of the following talents: Dual Weapon Style, Single Weapon Style, or Weapon and Shield Style.

This is where the warrior part of the class comes into play and gives the players a way of differentiating from other swashbucklers.


New Ability Focus: You now gain one of the following ability focuses: Communication (Etiquette), Dexterity (Riding), or Strength (Jumping).

Another call back to the warrior and accentuates the fact that swashbucklers are not just pirates. They can be highwaymen and blend in to high society like masked avengers such as Zorro, too.


New Talent: You become a Novice in a new talent or gain a degree in a talent you already have.


New Specialization: You may choose one specialization for your class. You gain the Novice degree of its specialization talent.


New Talent: You become a Novice in a new talent or gain a degree in a talent you already have.

Daring Charge: When you take the Charge action, you gain a +2 on the attack roll instead of the normal +1.

DC is a minor bonus, one to mimic the bonus rogues get at this level, albeit in a different way.


New Specialization Talent: You gain the Journeyman degree in the specialization talent you gained at level 4.

Stunt Bonus: You are quick to act to gain an advantage over your foes. You can perform the Seize the Initiative stunt for 3 stunt points instead of the usual 4.


New Talent: You become a Novice in a new talent or gain a degree in a talent you already have.

Feint: You can throw your opponent off, leaving him or her vulnerable to your next attack. You must first use a minor action to make an opposed test of your Communication (Deception) vs. your opponent’s Perception (Seeing). If you win, you have off-balanced your opponent and you gain a +2 attack bonus on your next attack against that opponent and inflict +1d6 extra damage if you hit.

I have not had a chance to try this out, but this is more or less taken from the DA rogue.


New Specialization Talent: You gain the Master degree in the specialization talent you gained at level 4.


New Talent: You become a Novice in a new talent or gain a degree in a talent you already have.


Cunning Riposte: Once per enemy per combat encounter, you can turn a hit from a melee attack into an opposed test vs. your Dexterity (Acrobatics). If you win, the attack misses instead and you can make an attack against that opponent as a free action.

Rogues and warriors get a very hefty combat power at level 10. Again, I have not had a chance to try this out. It may be too powerful, but I think that stipulating its two limitations will keep it from being overused and more of an exciting “I turn the tables” kind of moment.



Requirements: You must have Communication 2 or higher and the Accuracy (Curved Blades) or (Dueling) focus.

Novice: You and your weapon are never parted. You cannot be disarmed; stunt points spent trying to part you from your weapon are wasted.

Journeyman: You can easily relieve your opponent of his or her weapon. You can perform the Disarm stunt for 1 SP instead of the usual 2.

Master: Your blade is an extension of your wit. You can add your Communication to your damage when making attacks.

Admittedly, this seems a little too strong. However, I have not had a chance to playtest it.


Requirements: You must have Dexterity 2 or higher and the Dexterity (Acrobatics) focus.

Novice: Nothing gets in your way. If you fail a Dexterity (Acrobatics) test, you can re-roll it, but must keep the results of the second roll.

This is the current specialization being playtested. The novice talent is directly from the swashbuckler rogue specialization and it is kind of ridiculous. So many spells and effects rely on Acrobatics that being able to get a re-roll of essentially a saving throw is so good.

Journeyman: You can kip-up back onto your feet. You can move your full speed after standing, instead of normally moving half your speed.

Master: You can quickly dash in and out of danger. You can move up to your total speed when you use the Charge action, rather than only half as is normal, or you can make the attack at any point during your movement.


Requirements: You must have Accuracy 2 and Perception 2 or higher.

Novice: You learn the Black Powder Weapon Group if you don’t know it already. If your campaign does not include black powder weapons, this may not be an appropriate specialization.

Journeyman: You can easily switch between weapons. Swapping your current weapon for a sheathed or stowed weapon is a free action, rather than a minor action as per normal.

Master: You are a storm of steel and thundering gunpowder. If you make a melee attack with your primary weapon and you are not charging, you can make a ranged attack with your secondary black powder weapon as a minor action. The second attack cannot generate stunt points, and you only add half of your Perception (rounded down) to damage.


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