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Main / SwashbucklerTC

Chapter 1 - Class - Character Kits - Thief Kits

Swashbuckler

Note: This kit is taken from the Complete Thief's Handbook.

Another Swashbuckler kit is available from the Complete Fighter's Handbook.
Another Swashbuckler kit is available from the book Skills and Powers.

Part acrobat, part swordsman, part wit, and entirely roguish —this is theSwashbuckler. He is a sophisticated city-dweller, the epitome of charm and grace.

Both the warrior and thief classes have Swashbucklers (see the Complete Fighter's Handbook for details on the warrior Swashbuckler), but they have certain differences. These differences serve, among other purposes, as an example of how the Dungeon Master may modify appropriate kits from one class and apply them to another.

To be a Swashbuckler, a thief must have minimum scores of 13 in Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence and Charisma.

Role: This is a happy-go-lucky thief, with ready wit and flashing rapier. His home is the city, where he can shine amidst the squalor. He is generally less interested than his warrior counterpart in poking people with his rapier, and is more involved and concerned with his wild theatrics and amazing displays of acrobatic skills. More often than not he also finds himself, justly or not, on the wrong side of the law.

The Swashbuckler is almost never aligned with thieves' guilds; he prefers to be "freelance." Swashbucklers who journey outside the cities may align themselves with bandits or pirates, however, and with their charisma and skill, they frequently assume leadership. Such responsibility ill suits the Swashbuckler, however; the details of organizing and leading a large group will invariably set him packing in short order.

Most Swashbucklers come from a wealthy or aristocratic background. Their skills of stealth and acrobatics came not from survival needs, but whim. This motivation typically remains the driving force behind the Swashbuckler's career. Most of these young rakes retire when they get older and must assume responsibilities in the communities (family, noble title, business, and so forth). Many a Swashbuckler has kept up his activities, however, in secret; his moonlighting may even be developed (usually purposely) to a point of distinguishable alter-egos. The daytime character may be a foppish dandy, gruff businessman, or airhead noblewoman. At night the Swashbuckler emerges: a cunning, dashing, adventurous character.

What are the goals of the Swashbuckler? For the young ones, it is usually just thrills: a chance to break into the impenetrable castle, to replace the Queen's necklace with a fake, to outwit the guildmaster of thieves . . . A few have more serious goals (and these are the ones who tend to keep up their habit). A Swashbuckler may be a vigilante, charming and witty, but driven by an obsession for justice. His enemies may be criminals or, in an unjust society (where the aristocratic Swashbuckler's alter-ego may be an unwilling part of the apparatus of oppression), the authorities themselves.

Secondary Skills: Most often (80% of the time, say) a Swashbuckler has no secondary skills, since he usually is from a rich, foppish background. Perhaps he has the skills of gambler or groom (aristocratic animals, of course), or hunter (again, aristocratic hunting, not survival; a Swashbuckler may know a great deal about fox hunting, for instance, but not how to catch a rabbit, let alone skin one). Scribe would also be possible as a secondary skill—to indicate literacy and some general education, not a profession.

Weapon Proficiencies: The Swashbuckler receives an extra weapon proficiency slot which must be devoted to a weapon among the following: stiletto, main-gauche, rapier, and sabre. (These new weapons are described in the equipment chapter.) With this, the Swashbuckler's "weapon of choice," the thief is able to fight with the THACO of a fighter of his experience level. Throughout his career, he must devote half of his weapon proficiencies to these weapons, until he has mastered the use of (i.e., gained proficiency in) every one.

Nonweapon Proficiencies: Required: Etiquette, Tumbling.
Recommended: Alertness, Blind-fighting, Disguise, Fast-talking, Intimidation, Jumping, Navigation (if seaborne; costs 2 slots), Riding, Tightrope walking, Trailing.

Skill Progression: Swashbucklers would tend to have fairly balanced thief skills. This includes pickpocketing, though that talent is more often utilized in the form of sleight of hand.

Equipment: The Swashbuckler must buy his weapon of choice, but other than that may spend his gold however he pleases.

Special Benefits: The Swashbuckler is permitted a special combat maneuver when using his weapon of choice: disarmament. To disarm an opponent, the Swashbuckler must declare his intention to do so before initiative is rolled. He then suffers a +1 penalty to his initiative roll, and a -4 penalty on his roll to hit.

If the Swashbuckler's attack is successful, he will (normally) cause his enemy's weapon to go flying out of his hand. Roll 2d6. The number rolled is the number of feet away the weapon landed. Another roll of 1d6 determines the direction the weapon goes, relative to the disarmed character:
1—Straight ahead
2—Ahead, right
3—Behind, right
4—Straight behind
5—Behind, left
6—Behind, right

Besides weapons, disarmament can be attempted against magic wands or other such devices held in one hand. Items worn (like jewelry) or held in two hands (including two-handed weapons) may not be affected by a thief Swashbuckler with the disarm maneuver.

Finally, being such a romantic figure, the Swashbuckler gains, as an additional special benefit, a +2 reaction adjustment with members of the opposite sex.

Special Hindrances: Trouble seeks out the Swashbuckler. This is something that the DM will have to play very carefully if the Swashbuckler is to be balanced with the other thief kits. When there's another Swashbuckler around—thief or warrior—intent on proving that he is the finest swordsman in the world, it's the PC Swashbuckler he seeks out and challenges (often in the middle of some illicit activities). When there is a lovely lady (or handsome young man, as appropriate) in distress, she or he will naturally cross the Swashbuckler's path, and pull him into the tangle. When the thief is practicing burglary on his uncle's mansion, the old man decides to return early from his journey. Life conspires to make things difficult for the Swashbuckler, and the DM should always throw just a little more good-natured bad luck at this thief type than at any other.

Races: Any demihuman who'd look elegant in foppish dress, wielding a narrow blade, will work fine as a Swashbuckler, especially elves, half-elves and halflings (halfelves most of all). Dwarves and gnomes are not entirely inappropriate, but are likely to have to defend their honor (with duels) in the face of numerous jokes about their curious looks