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Protective and disciplined warriors, warders are fighting men and women who use their knowledge of warfare, tactics, and strategy combined with superior combat training to accomplish their goals in defending others. Their intellect guides them through battle, and their skill at arms achieves their success.

Adventures: Warders adventure to further their employer’s missions, to serve on battlefields as protectors and champions, or to protect those that they care about. Some warders adventure to forge kingdoms of their own, battle tyranny, fight others of their kind for honor, or to live simply and by their own code.

Characteristics: Warders are always protective of people they deem in their care, be it a superior, their friends, or fellow soldiers of fortune. Many warders are proud, intelligent individuals who study tactics and maps as well while training daily with their associates to better suit their style towards their defense.

Alignment: Any, but most are lawful; the moral portion of their alignment is either up to them or their inclusion in their sect.

Religion: Many warders are religious, often following gods of war, chivalry, and sacrifice. Some follow gods of tyranny or justice, and others follow gods that stand for the good of their race.

Background: Warders find their place in their society based upon their line of adventuring. Some warders are regarded with great respect as leaders and guardians while others are feared and hated for their tyrannical ways. Many are respected and treated well in the hopes that if trouble comes, the warder will come to help those who showed them kindness.

Races: Nearly all humanoid races have warders amongst them. Dwarves, half-orcs, and humans make up the larger majority of warders in more civilized society, but there are a minority of halflings and gnomes that guard their kind from harm. While elves possess the tactical prowess to make great warders, their fragile bodies are often not enough for the physical rigors of the profession. While some warders are restrictive to whom they’ll share their secrets, it’s largely agreed that the more monstrous races tend to be excluded. Hobgoblins, of the monstrous races, are by far the largest exception to that stereotype.

Other Classes: Warders get on well with those of a more orderly and martial bent, naturally befriending paladins, monks, and fighters. Rogues and warders don’t exactly see eye to eye, while rangers and sorcerers might find a warder’s presence restrictive. Wizards and warders appreciate many of their shared facets in learning, and warders widely recognize the importance of clerics in both martial and spiritual matters.

Role: Defender. Warders are natural guardians and protectors of the weaker members of the party, and are the ones who can take the most damage on the front line. They also double as being coordinators on the battlefield, helping their teammates and providing support for them both defensively and offensively.

Abilities: Strength and Constitution are prime attributes for warders, ruling over the majority of their combat prowess. Intelligence also plays a big role in their day to day life, as it is both their primary initiation attribute and aids in their more mundane skills.

Starting Wealth and Age: As paladin.

Hit Die: d12

Class Skills

The warder’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are: Acrobatics (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Handle Animal (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (history) (Int), Knowledge (martial) (Int), Knowledge (nobility) (Int), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Survival (Wis), and Swim (Str).

Skill Ranks per Level: 4 + Int modifier

Table: The Warder
LevelBase Attack BonusFort SaveRef SaveWill SaveSpecialManeuvers KnownManeuvers ReadiedStances
1st+1+2+0+2Defensive focus, aegis +1 (10 ft.)531
2nd+2+3+0+3Armiger’s mark642
3rd+3+3+1+3Bonus feat742
4th+4+4+1+4Tactical acumen742
5th+5+4+1+4Extended defense 1/day, aegis +2853
6th+6/+1+5+2+5Clad in steel, aegis (20 ft.)853
7th+7/+2+5+2+5Adaptive tactics953
8th+8/+3+6+2+6Extended defense 2/day, bonus feat963
9th+9/+4+6+3+6Improved armiger’s mark, aegis +31064
10th+10/+5+7+3+7Improved defensive focus1064
11th+11/+6/+1+7+3+7Extended defense 3/day1175
12th+12/+7/+2+8+4+8Stalwart, aegis (30 ft.)1175
13th+13/+8/+3+8+4+8Bonus feat, aegis +41275
14th+14/+9/+4+9+4+9Extended defense 4/day1285
15th+15/+10/+5+9+5+9Steel defense1386
16th+16/+11/+6/+1+10+5+10Greater armiger’s mark1386
17th+17/+12/+7/+2+10+5+10Extended defense 5/day, aegis +51496
18th+18/+13/+8/+3+11+6+11Bonus feat1497
19th+19/+14/+9/+4+11+6+11Born of steel1597
20th+20/+15/+10/+5+12+6+12Deathless defenses16107

Class Features

All of the following are class features of the warder.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency

Warders are proficient with all simple and martial melee weapons, with all armor, and with shields (including tower shields).


A warder begins her career with knowledge of five martial maneuvers. The disciplines available to her are Broken Blade, Golden Lion, Iron Tortoise, Primal Fury, and either Eternal Guardian or Piercing Thunder to her list of available disciplines. If she does not have that discipline’s associated skill as a class skill, she gains it as a class skill. Once she knows a maneuver, she must ready it before she can use it (see Maneuvers Readied, below). A maneuver usable by warders is considered an extraordinary ability unless otherwise noted in its description. Her maneuvers are not affected by spell resistance, and she does not provoke attacks of opportunity when she initiates one. She learns additional maneuvers at higher levels, as shown on Table: The Warder. The warder must meet a maneuver’s prerequisites to learn it. See the Systems and Use chapter.

Upon reaching initiator level 4th, and at every even numbered initiator level thereafter (6th, 8th, 10th, and so on), the warder can choose to learn a new maneuver in place of one she already knows. In effect, the warder loses the old maneuver in exchange for the new one. The warder need not replace the old maneuver with a maneuver of the same level. She can choose a new maneuver of any level she likes, as long as she observes her restriction on the highest-level maneuvers she knows. The warder can swap only a single maneuver at any given level. A warder’s initiation modifier is Intelligence.

Maneuvers Readied

A warder can ready three of her five starting maneuvers, but as she advances in level and learns more maneuvers, she must choose which maneuvers to ready. She readies her maneuvers by going over battle tactics, through weapon drills, or spending time meditating in prayer for 10 minutes. The maneuvers she chooses remain readied until she decides to repeat this again and change them. Any given maneuver may only be readied once. Warders do not need to sleep or be well rested to ready their maneuvers; any time they spend 10 minutes in practice or meditation, they can change their readied maneuvers. She begins an encounter with all readied maneuvers unexpended, regardless of how many times she may have already used them since she chose them. When the warder initiates a maneuver, she expends it for the current encounter, so each of her readied maneuver can be used once per encounter (until they are recovered, see below).

For a warder to recover expended maneuvers, she must take stock of her situation to plan for her next movement. By focusing entirely on a defensive position to prepare her next move, she is able to regain maneuvers expended to assist her to victory. By taking a full round action to plan her next move (activating her defensive focus class feature, see below), she recovers a number of expended maneuvers equal to her warder initiation modifier (minimum of 2). Alternately, she may take a brief pause in battle and recover a single maneuver of her choosing by spending a standard action on her turn.

Stances Known

Warders begin play with knowledge of one stance from any discipline open to warders. At the indicated levels (see class table), the warder selects an additional new stance. Unlike maneuvers, stances are not expended, and she does not have to ready them. All the stances she knows are available to her at all times, and she can change the stance she is currently using as a swift action. A stance is an extraordinary ability unless otherwise stated in the stance description. Unlike with maneuvers, the warder cannot learn a new stance at higher levels in place of one she already knows.

Defensive Focus (Ex)

At 1st level, the defensive prowess of the warder is second to none, allowing her to focus her actions purely on defending himself and her allies in ways that cannot be replicated. The warder gains the Combat Reflexes feat as a bonus feat, using her warder initiation modifier in place of her Dexterity modifier to determine the number of additional attacks of opportunity she may make each round.

When recovering warder maneuvers as a full round action, the warder sets up a defensive perimeter around herself to defend her allies, increasing her threatened area by 5 feet + 5 feet for every five initiator levels she possesses. Until the beginning of her next turn, she may make attacks of opportunity against any opponent in this threatened area that provokes attacks of opportunity. She may move as part of these attacks of opportunity, provided her total movement before her next turn does not exceed her speed (his movement provokes attacks of opportunity as normal). Additionally, while using defensive focus, the warder adds her warder initiation modifier plus her class level to her CMD for the purposes of defending against enemies trying to use the Acrobatics skill to prevent her from getting attacks of opportunity against them.

At 10th level, her defensive focus improves further. While her reach is increased by this ability, opponents treat her threatened area as difficult terrain. If a foe tries to move through a space within her reach, the movement through those squares costs double (x2). Additionally, while using her defensive focus to make an attack of opportunity, her movement does not provoke attacks of opportunity.

Aegis (Ex)

At 1st level, the warder’s defensive prowess extends to those who choose to stay near to him. Allies who are within 10 ft. of the warder’s position gain a +1 morale bonus to Armor Class and to Will saves under the warder’s defensive aegis, her presence bolstering and shepherding the defenses of her allies. This bonus improves to +2 at 5th level (+3 at 9th level, +4 at 13th level, and +5 at 17th level). The warder does not receive this bonus, but may receive the benefits of this ability from another warder. If the ally cannot see or hear the warder, then the ally does not gain the benefits of this ability (such as if the warder is concealed or invisible).

At 6th level, her aegis’ range increases its effective area, growing to a 20 ft. radius. At 12th level, this increases again to 30 ft..

Armiger’s Mark (Ex)

At 2nd level, a warder is trained in how best to control her enemies and how they behave in battle, urging them to throw their all against the warder’s indomitable armor and unyielding shield. With a sharp blade, a clever taunt, or something that otherwise attracts her foe, the warder can direct the attention of enemies towards himself. Whenever the warder attacks a foe in combat and inflict at least 1 point of damage, as a free action she may mark them as her foe (he may even mark a foe during an attack of opportunity and may make the free action to do so, even though it is not her turn) and attempt to continue to force them to engage the warder only. The target is aware of being marked, and the mark remains for a number of rounds equal to her warder initiation modifier (minimum of 1). Marked targets suffer a -4 penalty to attack rolls against foes that are not the warder, and arcane spellcasters suffer an increase in arcane spell failure of 10% + 1% per two warder levels until the mark expires. The warder may only maintain a number of marks equal to 3 + her warder initiation modifier at a time, and she may make a number of marks per day equal to 1/2 warder level + warder initiation modifier. At 8th level, this penalty increases to -6, and it increases again to -8 at 16th level. This ability functions on creatures with an Intelligence score of 1 or more, allowing her to mark animals and other beasts as well as sentient beings, but not mindless creatures such as skeletons. Multiple armiger’s marks overlap (do not stack).

At 9th level, the warder may expend two uses of her armiger’s mark to make a grand challenge to all enemies within a 30 ft. radius and mark them with her words alone. Creatures affected must make a Will save (DC 10 + 1/2 warder level + warder initiation modifier) against the warder’s mark ability or suffer the penalties of being marked for a number of rounds equal to her warder initiation modifier. This does not count against her normal marking limit. This is a language-dependent ability and does not effect creatures of less than 1 Intelligence.

At 16th level, the armiger’s mark improves to allow her to recover an expended maneuver whenever she reduces a marked opponent’s hit points to 0 or less (this can only trigger once per marked opponent).

Bonus Feat

At 3rd level and every 5th level thereafter, a warder receives a bonus combat or teamwork feat. She must meet all prerequisites for these feats.

Tactical Acumen (Ex)

At 4th level, the combat training that the warder has received hones her reflexes. Through her knowledge of tactics, training manuals, and lessons in the histories of war, her wits aid her when her agility may be impaired by her heavy armor. The warder may add her warder initiation modifier to her Reflex saves and to her initiative in place of her Dexterity modifier (using the higher of the two bonuses).

Extended Defense (Ex)

Upon reaching 5th level, the warder becomes ever more skilled at adapting to the flow of combat. Once per day, the warder may activate Extended Defense as an immediate action. When she does, the character chooses a counter she has readied; she may initiate that counter as a free action (even on another’s turn) at will until the beginning of her next turn. At the beginning of her next turn, the chosen counter is expended. Every three levels beyond this (8th, 11th, 14th, and 17th levels), she may use this ability an additional time per day. This ability can only be used with counters that negate attacks or allow the warder to use another roll in place of a saving throw.

Clad in Steel (Ex)

Having improved her skill with her armor, the warder is a more capable combatant in it when protecting her allies or cause. The warder may subtract her aegis bonus from her total armor check penalty and increase the maximum Dexterity bonus on her armor by 1 at 6th level, and by 2 at 12th level.

Adaptive Tactics (Ex)

A warrior can attempt to plan for everything, but no plan stands against the heat of battle if there is no room for adaptation. At 7th level, the warder can expend one use of her armiger’s mark ability as a full-round action to expend up to her warder initiation modifier in readied maneuvers, then instantly ready an equal amount of maneuvers. The warder may not replace expended maneuvers using this ability; any maneuver she is re-preparing with this ability must be unexpended to be exchanged. She may choose from any of her known maneuvers.

Stalwart (Ex)

At 12th level, a warder can use mental and physical resiliency to avoid certain attacks. If she makes a successful Fortitude or Will saving throw against an attack that has a reduced effect on a successful save, she instead avoids the effect entirely. A helpless warder does not gain the benefit of the stalwart ability.

Steel Defense (Ex)

At 15th level, the warder is capable of turning an otherwise lethal blow and continue the fight. When an attack that inflicts hit point damage from a natural attack, melee weapon, or ranged weapon would reduce the warder to 0 or fewer hit points, she can make a Fortitude save (DC the attacker’s attack roll) to deflect the attack to her armor or shield (light, heavy, or tower shields only), causing it to suffer the damage in her place (apply item hardness as normal). If this would break the character’s armor, it gains the broken condition until it is repaired. The warder cannot use this ability with broken armor or a broken shield. The warder must be wearing armor or a shield to use this ability.

Born of Steel (Ex)

At 19th level, the warder is so at home in her armor that it is like a second skin, protecting her with its familiar embrace. When wearing medium or heavy armor, the warder is more resistant to critical hits. When a critical threat is rolled against him, the warder may add her warder initiation modifier to her AC against the critical confirmation roll.

Deathless Defenses (Ex)

At 20th level, the warder can indefinitely hold a position to protect her allies, even if it may cost her her life. The warder must expend two uses of her armiger’s mark ability as an immediate action to activate her deathless defenses. While this ability is active, the warder is capable of maintaining her defensive focus as a move action (but recovers no maneuvers unless she spends a full round to recover) but gains the full bonuses of her defensive focus. Additionally, she receives the benefits of her aegis ability as well. She is unable to die from hit point damage while this effect is in use. She may maintain the use of this ability each round at the cost of one use of her armiger’s mark ability, or she may end it as a free action. Abilities or effects that don’t inflict hit point damage, such as energy drain or ability damage, can still kill the warder. While this effect is in use, she is immune to mind-affecting abilities, as her focus prevents any from tampering with her mind. Once this ability ends, either voluntarily or if the character runs out uses of armiger’s mark (assuming she is not dead), the warder is exhausted and must rest a full 8 hours to recover.

Favored Class Bonuses

Instead of receiving an additional skill rank or hit point whenever they gain a level in a Favored Class, some races have the option of choosing from a number of other bonuses, depending upon their Favored Classes. The following options are available to the listed race who have Warder as their Favored Class, and unless otherwise stated, the bonus applies each time you select the listed Favored Class reward.

Dreamscarred Press
AasimarAdd 1/4 of a maneuver known from the Golden Lion or Silver Crane disciplines.POW:E
DromiteAdd +1/2 to the number of uses per day of the warder’s armiger’s mark ability.POW:E
DwarvesAdd +1/4 to the bonus to AC granted by the warder’s aegis.POW:E
ElanAdd +1/4 to the bonus to AC granted by the warder’s aegis.POW:E
ElvesIncrease the maximum dexterity bonus of worn armor by +1/4.POW:E
ForgebornAdd +1/4 to the bonus to AC granted by the warder’s aegis.POW:E
GnomeIncrease the maximum dexterity bonus of worn armor by +1/4.POW:E
Half-elfAdd +1/4 to the number of additional extra attacks of opportunity when using Defensive Focus.POW:E
Half-giantAdd +1/5 to the number of uses per day of the warder’s extended defense ability.POW:E
HalflingAdd +1/5 to the bonus on Will saves granted by the warder’s aegis.POW:E
Half-orcAdd +1/4 of a maneuver known from the Broken Blade or Primal Fury disciplines.POW:E
HumanAdd +1/2 to the number of uses per day of the warder’s armiger’s mark ability.POW:E
MaenadGain a +1/4 bonus on damage rolls when making attacks of opportunity while using the warder’s defensive focus.POW:E
TieflingGain a +1/4 bonus on damage rolls when making attacks of opportunity while using the warder’s defensive focus.POW:E

Archetypes & Alternate Class Features

When a character selects a class, he must choose to use the standard class features found or those listed in one of the archetypes presented here. Each alternate class feature replaces a specific class feature from its parent class. For example, the elemental fist class feature of the monk of the four winds replaces the stunning fist class feature of the monk. When an archetype includes multiple class features, a character must take all of them—often blocking the character from ever gaining certain familiar class features, but replacing them with equally powerful options. All of the other class features found in the core class and not mentioned among the alternate class features remain unchanged and are acquired normally when the character reaches the appropriate level (unless noted otherwise). A character who takes an alternate class feature does not count as having the class feature that was replaced when meeting any requirements or prerequisites.

A character can take more than one archetype and garner additional alternate class features, but none of the alternate class features can replace or alter the same class feature from the core class as another alternate class feature. For example, a paladin could not be both a hospitaler and an undead scourge since they both modify the smite evil class feature and both replace the aura of justice class feature. A paladin could, however, be both an undead scourge and a warrior of the holy light, since none of their new class features replace the same core class feature.

Presented below are several warder archetypes and alternate class features to help you in building your character.

Table: Warder Archetypes / Alternate Class Features
Archetype / Alternate Class FeatureClass Features Changed or Replaced
Class SkillsWeapon & ArmorManeuversManeuvers ReadiedDefensive FocusAegisArmiger’s MarkBonus FeatsTactical AcumenExtended DefenseClad in SteelAegis (20 ft)Adaptive TacticsImproved Armiger’s MarkImproved Defensive FocusStalwartAegis (30 ft)Steel DefenseGreater Armiger’s MarkBorn of SteelDeathless Defenses
Dreamscarred Press
Bushi CCC    XX         X      X  X 
Dervish Defender XC        X     X      X X 
Fiendish Marauder  C  XC    XXXXXXXX    X    
Hawkguard XC C       XXXXX  X X      
HussarCCCC   XXXX      X      X X 
Ordained DefenderC C    X X                  
Sworn Protector     X X          X    X    
Zweihander Sentinel CC               X    X    
X=replaced, (X)=optional replacement, C=changed
Section 15: Copyright Notice

Path of War, © 2014, Dreamscarred Press.

Path of War – Expanded, © 2016, Dreamscarred Press.