|Art by Wayne Reynolds|
However, after reading the playtest version of the class and dissecting it thoroughly, I found it really lacking. Not wanting to give up on the concept, I decided to toy around with a few different methods for creating this kind of character.
This archetype is one of those attempts. It is an amalgamation of a handful of abilities from the Duelist prestige class, some from the Free Hand Fighter archetype, and a couple others thrown in for good measure. Feel free to use it in your own games. This is still the alpha version of the archetype and I'd love to get some feedback on it.
The duelist is an archetype for the fighter class. Unlike other fighters who utilize heavy armor and brute force, the duelist relies more on skill and speed to take down her enemies.
Class Skills: Duelists receive Acrobatics (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Perform (Cha), and Sleight of Hand (Dex) as class skills. Furthermore, they also receive 4 skill points + their Intelligence modifier each level instead of the fighter's 2 skill points + Intelligence modifier each level.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Duelists are not proficient with medium armor, heavy armor, or shields (except the buckler).
Duelist Manuevers (Ex): At 2nd level, a duelist gains a +1 bonus to all disarm and trip checks. This bonus increases by +1 for every four levels after 2nd. This ability replaces a standard fighter's bravery.
Duelist's Grace (Ex): At 3rd level, a duelist gains a +1 dodge bonus to AC and CMD. This bonus increases by +1 for every four levels after 3rd. Whenever a duelist is flat-footed or would otherwise lose her Dexterity bonus to AC, she would lose this bonus as well. She also loses this bonus when wearing medium or heavy armor and carrying a medium or heavy load. This ability replaces a standard fighter's armor training 1, 2, 3, and 4.
Finesse Training (Ex): At 5th level, a duelist gains a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls when wielding a weapon belonging to the "light blade" weapon group (click here). This bonus increases by 1 for every six levels after 5th. This ability replaces a standard fighter's weapon training 1 and 4.
Enhanced Mobility (Ex): At 9th level, a duelist gains an additional +4 bonus to AC against attacks of opportunity caused when she moves out of a threatened square. This ability replaces a standard fighter's weapon training 2.
Acrobatic Charge (Ex): At 13th level, a duelist gains the ability to charge in situations where others cannot. She may charge over difficult terrain that normally slows movement. Depending on the circumstance, she may still need to make appropriate checks to successfully move over the terrain. This ability replaces a standard fighter's weapon training 3.
Reversal (Ex): At 19th level, a duelist can make a disarm combat maneuver against a creature she threatens as an immediate action when she is the target of a melee attack from another creature. If successful, the attack changes to target the target of the duelist's maneuver instead of the duelist herself. This ability replaces the standard fighter's armor mastery.
Crippling Critical (Ex): At 20th level, when a duelist confirms a critical hit using a weapon from the "light blades" weapon group, she can apply one of the following penalties in addition to the damage dealt: reduce all of the target's speeds by 10 feet (minimum 5 feet), 1d4 points of Strength or Dexterity damage, -4 penalty on all saving throws, -4 penalty to AC, or 2d6 points of bleed damage. These penalties last for 1 minute, except for ability damage, which must be healed normally, and bleed damage, which continues until the target receives magic healing or a DC 15 Heal skill check. This ability replaces the standard fighter's weapon mastery.