Cutting Edge Classes

November 26th, 2012

Joshua Zaback

Best in Class Archive

            Hello everyone, and welcome to Best in Class, where we provide the greatest in new class features, archetypes, and prestige classes each and every week. It’s Dagger Week here at Necromancers of the Northwest—a weeklong salute to small but deadly blades. I started thinking about the classes that actually use daggers, and quickly arrived at the conclusion that nobody really uses daggers.

            Rogues, who seem like the dagger’s most likely champion, have better options when it comes to light weapons they can use with Weapon Finesse, with access to short swords and rapiers (and darts, if you think that throwing your dagger is a good plan). I seem to recall reading somewhere that fighters often picked up daggers as serviceable side arms (something I’ve never seen a practical reason for), but even if your fighter, or for that matter, warrior class of any bent, was looking for a side arm, they have access to the much more desirable kukri. While mages of various sorts are often depicted as wielding daggers, frankly your mage should probably never actually use his dagger in combat, and I have a feeling that the stereotype exists only to trick witches and wizards into spending a large portion of their treasure on a magical dagger which at the end of the day will allow them to attack at a whopping +9 for 1d4+3 damage.

            Faced with a severe lack of interest in daggers from all the classes I expected to want to use one, I’ve decided to create some archetypes for each of these three supposed dagger users that might actually make them want to fight with one.



New Rogue Archetype
Silent Knife


            While many rogues appreciate small and concealable weapons such as daggers, few truly take the time to master such a weapon. Those rogues who do invest the effort to become experts in dagger combat are true artists with the tiny blade, capable of delivering precise, assassin-like strikes which make the dagger as deadly as a battleaxe.

            Precision Strike (Ex): When a silent knife has the edge on her opponent, she can effortlessly slip a dagger between her target’s defenses to reach his vitals. Beginning at 3rd level, whenever the silent knife makes a melee attack to which she could apply sneak attack damage, if that attack was made with a dagger, she gains a +1 bonus to attack and weapon damage rolls (even if the target would ordinarily be immune to the sneak attack damage). At 6th level, and every 3 levels thereafter, these bonuses improve by +1.

            This ability replaces the trap sense class feature.

            Sudden Draw (Ex): A silent knife can produce concealed daggers with lightning speed. Starting at 4th level, a silent knife can draw a dagger concealed upon her person as a swift action which does not provoke attacks of opportunity. If the silent knife possesses the Quick Draw feat, she can draw concealed daggers as a free action.

            This ability replaces the uncanny dodge class feature.

            Surprise Draw (Ex): A silent knife can draw concealed daggers with preternatural speed, shocking her foes. Starting at 8th level, whenever a silent knife attacks with a dagger that was concealed at the beginning of the round, the target is denied his dexterity bonus to AC for the purposes of attacks made with that dagger. Attacks made with other weapons the silent knife is wielding are unaffected. If the target was aware of the concealed dagger, he retains his Dexterity bonus to AC.

            This ability replaces the improved uncanny dodge class feature.



New Fighter Archetype


            Named for a popular parrying dagger, the main-gauche are masters of two-weapon fighting, incorporating a dagger along with a one-handed weapon to maximize defensive potential and assist in expert strokes. Unlike many two-weapon masters, the main-gauche scorn the use of larger offhand weapons such as short swords and handaxes due to their clumsy size and the difficulty inherent in wielding such a weapon.

            Two-Weapon Mastery (Ex): Main-gauche are experts in the two-weapon combat style, allowing them increased proficiency with such weapons. At 1st level, the main-gauche gains Two-Weapon Fighting as a bonus feat, even if he doesn’t meet the prerequisites.

            This ability replaces the bonus feat gained at 1st level.

            Off-hand Defense (Ex): The main-gauche can use his off-hand dagger as a potent defensive tool, eventually offering even more defense than a heavy shield. Starting at 3rd level, the main-gauche gains a +1 shield bonus to AC and CMD when wielding a dagger in his off hand. For every 4 levels beyond 3rd (7th, 11th, and so on), these bonus increase by +1. These bonuses stack with those granted by the Two-Weapon Defense feat. This ability replaces armor training.

            Dagger Mastery (Ex): The main-gauche emphasizes skill with a dagger as much as or more than skill with other weapons. Starting at 5th level, when the main-gauche gains the weapon training class feature, he treats the dagger as belonging to every class of weapons for the purpose of this class feature. This ability modifies the weapon training class feature.



New Arcane Bond


            At 1st level, when a wizard selects his arcane bond, he may choose to select athame instead of a bonded item or familiar.

            Similar to a bonded item, an athame is a dagger which can be used to focus magical energies. An athame must be an item of personal significance to the wizard who wields it and must bear an inscription with his name somewhere upon it. At 1st level, the athame counts as a focus for any spell requiring a focus of 200 gp or less. At 2nd level, and every subsequent level thereafter, this amount increases by an additional 200 gp, to a total of 4,000 gp at 20th level. Additionally, once per day the wizard may choose to temporarily expend the magical power of his athame in order to cast a spell with costly material components costing less than the athame’s value as a focus without expending any material components. If he does, the athame becomes an ordinary dagger for 24 hours.