Private Sanctuary 258 – Class Features: Swashbuckler

Its time to join the Private Sanctuary Podcast for another Class Feature’s segment! Today, Anthony and Alex pull off the kids’ gloves and throw them into the ring with one of the new classes from the Advanced Class Guide: the swashbuckler. Is this class too advanced for our heroes? Will they butcher the word “panache” dozens of times on-air? Find out for yourselves!

Listen Here!

  • Intro to the Class
    • What’s a Swashbuckler?
  • The Fluff
  • Why Play a Swashbuckler?
  • The Crunch
  • Favorite Builds
    • Anthony’s
    • Alex’s
  • Comments
  • Outro
  • Public Service Announcement
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  1. I don’t really agree with a lot of Alex’s complaints about the Swashbuckler.

    1. The mobility of a swashbuckler: Dodge and Mobility are feats very much in character for Lightly armored melee like the Swashbuckler and Rogue. Swashbuckler’s Grace makes things even nicer. It makes the Swashbuckler one of the better classes for pairing with a rogue.

    2. Saves: Every class has weak saves. You can and should plan for this if you do not want to be hindered by this weakness: a good Constitution, the Great Fortitude feat, the Resilient trait, and a Plague Rat’s Belt can all help.
    You argue that “being a front line fighter” Swashbucklers should have good Fort saves. I’d argue that a full BAB does not define a character as a front rank fighter. The Swashbuckler is a light armor class, which really fills the role of melee support, rather than tank. Anthony nailed it calling them glass hammers. Traditionally, these are always the characters wizards target with spells requiring Fort saves.

    3. Parent Classes: There is Fighter in Swashbuckler. It is just that extra feats are boring and easily overlooked — but very powerful. Swashbucklers gain bonus combat feats every four levels. This is definitely a big contribution from Fighter. One that makes them far more effective in combat.
    I also feel that they do have unique abilities:
    • They really do accomplish the goal of making a DEX based melee character effective in one on one combat.
    • Parry and Riposte is a unique and envied class ability.
    • They gain the benefit of multiple ways to do extra damage: STR to damage (or DEX with the Grace Feats), Power Attack (or Piranha’s Stike for DEX builds), and level to damage (which no other class gains).
    An 11th level Swashbuckler with a 24 Dex can easily be dishing out 1d6+24 with a non-magical rapier. This may be slightly lower than a comparable rogue with sneak attack, however it doesn’t require an enemy to be flat footed, is not precision damage, and will do considerably more than that rogue with a crit.

    • Is not all Precision Damage. The 11 points from Precise Strike are.

    • Anthony Li Reply to Anthony

      I think that a lot of Alex’s feelings in this podcast came from a recent frustrating experience he had in a PFS scenario. I don’t remember if we went into in the episode, but I’ll let him tell the story if he wants. He had a lot of STRONG opinions compared to my relatively mild feelings on the class so I let him take the lead on this episode.

      I mostly agree with you, Will. I really like the Swashbuckler as is. Sure, the Saves could be better. And sure, Charmed Life could’ve been as good as the Paladin’s Divine Grace. But I don’t think either NEEDS to be that way.

      Swashbucklers fill a very interesting niche between Fighters and Rogues. I think of it being sort of like the combat role’s Short-Stop, to use a sportsball analogy. It’s definitely a class I’m considering playing in the future. And I’m sure we’ll revisit the class in one way or another in the future.

    • Alex Augunas Reply to Alex

      Some counterpoints:

      1) Dodge isn’t a mobility ability. Mobility is arguably a mobility ability. Neither is a class feature of the swashbuckler, so bringing them up doesn’t affect the fact that the swashbuckler has no real mobility-based deeds or abilities save for swashbuckler’s grace, which is a passive penalty reduction rather than an active, cinematic, movement ability.

      2) The problem with your logic regarding Fortitude saves is that EVERY other full base attack bonus class has it. Even the gunslinger, meaning that both of this hybrid class’s parent classes have good Fortitude. If the gunslinger, a class that by design TRULY doesn’t need good Fortitude, gets good Fortitude, so should the swashbuckler.

      3) Swashbucklers have a worse feat progression than the brawler (also a fighter hybrid) and the warpriest (also a fighter hybrid). To reiterate, a class with six levels of spell progression also has more bonus feats than the swashbuckler. I haven’t decided if that says more about the warpriest’s power level or the swashbuckler’s, however.

      3a) Opportune parry and riposte is not a unique ability; its the duelist’s parry class feature that requires the expenditure of a resource. Furthermore, there are at least two archetypes (daring champion and kata master) and a feat (Amateur Swashbuckler) that allow non-swashbucklers to get opportune parry and riposte. Even if no one else got opportune parry and riposte, that one deed does define the swashbuckler as a class the way that sacred weapon defines the warpriest, martial flexibility defines the brawler, or inspiration defines the investigator. Even classes that have old abilities with a fresh coat of paint (bloodrager bloodlines, studied target, shaman spirits) have more uniqueness because they do something truly different that defines the class’s playstyle. Take it from someone who plays a swashbuckler, opportune parry and riposte does not define the swashbuckler playstyle. (In fact, it misses more often than not.)

      3b) Power Attack is honestly difficult for the swashbuckler to gain without suffering elsewhere because of the Strength prerequisite. Adding your ability modifier to damage is not unique to the swashbuckler, and Dex to damage isn’t part of the swashbuckler class; Slashing Grace is good, but it requires you to take Weapon Focus with a weapon that you technically can’t even wield for a few levels because you can’t finesse it. I.e. If I want Slashing Grace (cutlass) I have to take Weapon Focus: cutlass first, and until I get Slashing Grace (cutlass) at my next feat opportunity, that Weapon Focus: cutlass feat does nothing for me. And until an errata comes out, you can’t pick a light weapon with Slashing Grace; only a weapon that is classified as being in the one-handed category. Adding level to damage isn’t new; paladins and cavaliers have it in smite evil. Having a constant level to damage effect is great, but it comes at the cost of never being able to A) use natural attacks, B) use two-handed weapons, or C) fight with a weapon in each hand. Also, precise strike is precision damage, so it doesn’t multiply on a critical hit, so a 2H guy with a nodachi is always going to out-damage you, regardless of having this deed.

      Like I said, I love this class but it is lacking. It follows the mold of the gunslinger almost to a tee, but unlike the gunslinger, which has the distinction of not only being the only character that can craft and use firearms at Level 1, but has a number of deeds that actually make them really good at using firearms; better than anyone else, even. The swashbuckler doesn’t have that, and I’m a little on-edge with the Unchained Rogue coming out. I have a feeling that the swashbuckler is going to fall to be the new bottom-of-the-barrel class, just because it doesn’t have anything cool and unique, with the exception of swashbuckler weapon training.

  2. Jason Ankrapp Reply to Jason

    I really enjoyed your take on the classical swashbuckler. I, myself, just made a Halfling swashbuckler[Inspired blade] for our RotRL home game. I absolutely love it! It is so much fun to play. With being able to double your swashbuckler level damage, you can routinely full speed acrobatics around the field, doing good damage, while being extremely mobile. “Hey caster guy, how about a haste!”.
    Looking forward to bloodrager from you guys. I have an 1/2 orc [steelblood/invulnerable rager] 6 atm…!

  3. Scott Melville Reply to Scott

    New listener! Loved the episode and I look forward to more.

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