I ended up putting a Pathfinder Society credit on my brawler, Marcellus, this weekend after I ran PFS 9-10: Signs in Senghor. While I was skimming through potential feats for him to see if anything new came up since I wrote his build last yeah, I stumbled upon a neat little feat that I wrote for Weapon Master’s Handbook called Difficult Swings. Intrigued by my own design, I decided to sit down and try to make a battlefield control fighter around that feat. Today’s Iconic Design is a quick look at what I came up with.
Any information important to understanding the build or its roots goes here.
- Classes: fighter 12
- Feats: Combat Reflexes (Bonus), Weapon Finesse (1st), Step Up (Bonus), Power Attack (3rd), Following Step (Bonus), Difficult Swings (5th), Step Up and Strike (Bonus), Run (Bonus), Step Up and Strike (7th), Furious Focus (Bonus), Weapon Focus: elven curve blade (9th), Stand Still (Bonus), Pin Down (11th), Dazing Assault (Bonus)
- Class Features: armor training 1 (heavy armor), bravery, weapon training (heavy blades +2)
- Armor Training: armored sprint (7th)
- Weapon Training: trained finesse (9th); trained initiative (Bonus)
- Magic Items: cracked opalescent white pyramid (elven curve blade)
The point of this build is movement control against the enemy, something this build is pretty darn good at. (The only things that are going to be rough for you are teleporters, which a fighter sadly can’t do much about.) The basic idea for this build is to get up into your enemy’s face and stay there while simultaneously not letting them leave. The basic lynchpins of this build are Difficult Swings weapon mastery feat and the Pin Down combat feat. Together, these two feats give you surprising control of the battle field, preventing foes with hittable CMDs from moving away from or escaping you. Fighting a foe that can take 5-foot steps into difficult terrain? No worries—you have the Step Up and Strike feat chain, so when an enemy tries to 5-foot step away from you, simply follow them up to 5 feet and thwack them on the head for trying!
Now, using Step Up and Strike is an immediate action, and Pin Down is an attack of opportunity. Naturally we’re going to want to be able to make a bunch of attacks of opportunity. That means a Dex-based build, so while we’re at it we might as well grab Weapon Finesse and make a Dex build out of it. For this build, putting pressure on stuff you’re following around is key, so I grabbed a cracked opalescent white pyramid ioun stone for this build. This highly underrated ioun stone lets you pick one exotic weapon and make it a martial weapon for you, and I choose you, elven curve blade! The cracked ioun stone is super cheap at a mere 1,500 gp, so it’s totally worth having for this purpose. Since I’m using a two-handed finesse weapon, I figured that grabbing the trained finesse advanced weapon training option would be useful, as would Power Attack and Furious Focus. To round out this build, I decided to nab Dazing Assault at 11th Level—that way I can get in close, not let enemies leave my side, and then trap them in place with the Dazed condition. What’s even more fun is that once you’ve turned Dazing Assault on, it stays on until the start of your next turn. So you can beat on someone with a full attack and make them attempt a saving throw per attack. Even if they fail, if they try to escape you get to Step Up and try to hold them in place. Nifty, right? Just for good measure, taking Stand Still lets you try to stop anyone who tries to move through your threatened area in their tracks, meaning that the mere act of approaching you is enough to trap your enemies in place!
This is a REALLY mean build that shows just how well martials can play battlefield control—sorcerers and wizards might be able to impair a bunch of people at the same time, but martials can lock down single targets with a build like this all while putting the hurting on them.
So, what do you think? Is this a build you would play or use on your players? How would you adapt it to your style? Leave your questions and comments below, and I’ll see you soon for another installment of Iconic Design! Take care!
Alexander “Alex” Augunas has been playing roleplaying games since 2007, which isn’t nearly as long as 90% of his colleagues. Alexander is an active freelancer for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and is best known as the author of the Pact Magic Unbound series by Radiance House. Alex is the owner of Everyman Gaming, LLC and is often stylized as the Everyman Gamer in honor of Guidance’s original home. Alex also cohosts the Private Sanctuary Podcast, along with fellow blogger Anthony Li, and you can follow their exploits on Facebook in the 3.5 Private Sanctuary Group, or on Alex’s Twitter, @AlJAug.