Systems and Use

The martial combat system introduced in Path of War uses a variety of new terms and rules. Detailed below is how the Path of War martial system works.

Martial Abilities

Martial abilities fall into two separate categories: stances and maneuvers (boosts, counters, and strikes). A martial maneuver is a subtle extraordinary or supernatural effect that is temporarily expended after use. A stance is never expended and is always available.

Stances and maneuvers are usable as many times as you like in a day. However, each time you use a maneuver, you temporarily expend it: you exhaust some small portion of your energy, you’ve finished the move and are now out of position and can’t immediately resume the necessary posture, or your mental focus must be regained. This means you cannot use an expended maneuver again until you have rested for a brief time or perform a particular action in combat that will allow you to recover one or more expended maneuvers. The type of action required depends on which type of martial disciple you are; see your class for it’s maneuver recovery mechanism. Because of this, you can usually employ each of your readied maneuvers once per encounter, unless they are recovered so you may use them again. Stances are never expended or used up and are always available to you.

Readying Maneuvers

It is not needful to ready your stances ahead of time. Each stance you know is always available. Conversely, maneuvers require preparation in the form of prayer, meditation, exercise, or any other similar rehearsal. Accordingly, you must choose your selection of readied maneuvers from all the ones you know. Only those you have readied are available for immediate use.

The number of maneuvers you can ready at once is dependent on your class and level. If you have no levels in a martial disciple class (for example, you learned maneuvers through the line of Martial Training feats), you can ready the allotted number of maneuvers as dictated by your Martial Training feats.

Some prestige classes can grant a character additional maneuvers readied. These extra maneuvers readied add to your maximum number of maneuvers readied, whether that number is determined by your class level, or by the number of times you have taken the Martial Training feats.

It is possible for a character to gain the Martial Training feat before entering a class that grants a progression for martial maneuvers readied. In this case, use the character’s current number of maneuvers readied. Add any modifiers from prestige classes to the class’s number of maneuvers readied.

A brief period of practice, meditation, exercise, or prayer is required to ready maneuvers. The particular nature of this preparation depends on your martial disciple class, but each one requires 10 minutes of preparation time. You do not need to be well rested to ready maneuvers, however, it is necessary for you to be able to stand move without restriction or restraint (stalkers however still require 8 hours of rest to refresh their ki pool). Each martial maneuver requires a precise combination of techniques, repetitive training of muscle memory, speaking aloud prayers or creeds, or honing the edge of the mind to focus in on a specific concept or goal; because of this, most martial disciples are unable to keep every maneuver they know at the front of their mind. As long as you are not physically disturbed during your 10 minutes of preparation, you can change out previously chosen maneuvers for new ones. You may not choose to leave any of your readied maneuver slots unfilled, unlike a cleric or wizard preparing their spells. You may not ready an individual maneuver more than once when readying your maneuvers (meaning you cannot ready any strike, boost, or counter more than a single time while you’re readying your maneuvers, you may only have a single application of each, i.e. you can only ready Scything Strike, Red Zephyr Strike, and Crushing Blow once each).

Initiating Stances and Maneuvers

First and foremost, to initiate a stance or maneuver, you must be able to move. Unlike some abilities, while initiating, you do not need to be able to speak, unless specifically mentioned in the maneuver’s description. You initiate a maneuver by taking the maneuver’s specified initiation action. It may require an immediate, swift, move, standard, or even a full- round action to initiate. Initiating a maneuver can be likened to that of a spell being cast or psionic power manifested. Only a maneuver that is currently readied and unexpended may be used.

Stances are initiated as a swift action. A stance remains in effect indefinitely and is never expended. The benefit of your chosen stance continues until you change to another stance you know as a swift action.


Concentration is not required to initiate a stance or maneuver, as with spells or psionic powers. Even if you are injured or affected by hostile maneuvers, powers, or spells while assuming a stance or initiating a maneuver, you do not lose it.

However, enemy interference still could make certain maneuvers impossible to complete. For example, if an enemy readies an action and disarms you when you start your turn, you are no longer able to use a maneuver that requires you to be wielding that weapon. Also, if are pinned or grappled, most of your maneuvers simply will not work until you are able to move freely.

If you initiate a maneuver and thereafter can’t use it during your turn, the maneuver is still considered expended. You are still considered to have spent its initiation action.

You do not provoke attacks of opportunity when you initiate a stance or maneuver unless otherwise stated in its description. However, some maneuvers allow for movement, the ability to charge, or take other actions that can provoke attacks of opportunity. These actions provoke attacks of opportunity as normal unless specifically stated otherwise in the maneuver’s description.

Initiator Level

Some stances and maneuvers have variables (such as duration) that depend on your initiator level.

If you are a single-class character, your initiator level equals your level in the class that provides access to martial maneuvers. If you lack any martial disciple levels, your initiator level is equal to 1/2 your character level.

When you gain levels in a class that does not grant martial maneuvers, your understanding of the Path of War still increases. A well-trained, highly skilled fighter has the basic combat training needed to master martial maneuvers. If you are a multiclass martial disciple, and you learn a new maneuver by attaining a new level in a martial disciple class, determine your initiator level by adding together your level in that class + 1/2 your levels in all other classes (treating racial Hit Dice as class levels for these purposes). Your initiator level for a class cannot be higher than your character level. Look up the result on the table below to determine the highest-level maneuvers you can take. You still must meet all of a maneuver’s prerequisites to learn it.

For example, a 7th-level stalker/5th-level warlord has an initiator level of 9th for determining the highest- level maneuvers he can take as a stalker. Subsequently, he can take 5th level stalker maneuvers. As a warlord, his initiator level would be 8th, allowing for 4th-level warlord maneuvers. These maneuvers are readied and performed separately. Multiclassing does not allow an initiator to have any individual stance or maneuver known or readied more than once.

This process applies whether a class is a martial disciple class or not (for example, a 4th-level wizard/1st-level warder would be a 3rd level initiator). Martial prestige classes add the full prestige class level to your martial disciple level to determine your initiator level. See the martial disciple’s prestige class descriptions for more information.

Selecting Martial Maneuvers

Martial maneuvers are organized by level, much like spells. Generally, higher-level maneuvers are more powerful than lower-level ones. As you gain levels, you can choose higher-level maneuvers. Your level in a martial disciple class determines the highest- level maneuvers you can choose. For example, a 10th level warlord can choose maneuvers of 5th level or lower.

Table: Highest Level Maneuvers Known
Initiator Level Maneuver Level
1st-2nd 1st
3rd-4th 2nd
5th-6th 3rd
7th-8th 4th
9th-10th 5th
11th-12th 6th
13th-14th 7th
15th-16th 8th
17th+ 9th

Resolving a Stance or Maneuver

Once you have chosen to initiate a maneuver, you must resolve its effects.

Attack Rolls: Many maneuvers include an attack of some kind. All offensive combat actions, even those that do not deal damage directly (such as bull rush or trip), are still considered attacks. All maneuvers that opponents can resist with saving throws, that deal damage, or that otherwise harm or hamper subjects are considered attacks.

Bonus Types: Some stances and maneuvers grant bonuses to armor class or ability scores, on attacks or damage, on saves, or any number of other variables. Each bonus has a type that indicates how or why it is granted. With the exception of dodge bonuses, two bonuses of the same type generally do not stack.

If a stance or maneuver does not identify the type of bonus granted, its effects stack with all other effects modifying the same characteristic or attribute. Untyped bonuses always stack.

Actions during a Maneuver: The Initiation Action line of a maneuver description provides the action required to use that maneuver. For example, the initiation action of the Dragon Assault maneuver is 1 full-round action. Thus, as part of your full-round action, you bring about the effect in the maneuver description. In this case, the maneuver allows you to make a full-round attack with additional benefits.

Recovering Expended Maneuvers

Per Encounter Abilities

An encounter is a period of time from when initiative begins (starting with the surprise round, if any) to the last initiative has ended and after a total time amount of one minute has elapsed without combat resuming. This means that martial disciples have had time to recover all expended maneuvers and abilities that are used and depleted within the span of an encounter.

At the beginning of each encounter, you have all of your readied maneuvers available and unexpended. When you initiate a maneuver, it is expended; it cannot be used again until it is recovered. Expended maneuvers can be recovered in two ways: through special actions or at the end of an encounter. Stances are never expended.

Special Action: Most martial disciples are able to refresh some of their expended maneuvers in the course of a battle by taking a special action to do so. The type of special action required depends on a martial disciple’s class (or feat) selection.

End of Encounter: A martial disciple automatically recovers all expended maneuvers when an encounter ends. Even a few moments out of combat is sufficient to refresh all maneuvers expended in the previous battle. In the case of a long, drawn-out series of fights, or if a disciple is out of combat entirely, assume that if a character makes no attacks of any kind, initiates no new maneuvers, and is not targeted by any enemy attacks for 1 full minute, he can recover all expended maneuvers. If a character can’t avoid being attacked for 1 minute, he can’t automatically recover his maneuvers and must use special actions to do so instead.

Martial Abilities and Magic

New Damage Types

Two new damage types are introduced in this book, profane and sacred.

Profane damage comes from attacks that are heavily infused with the power of sheer evil and carry this unholy power over as a form of harmful energy to good-aligned beings. Profane damage deals full damage to incorporeal targets and deals damage as if the weapon were evil-aligned. As it is not a weapon damage type, it automatically bypasses all damage reduction.

Sacred damage comes from attacks that are heavily infused with the power of sheer good and carry this holy power over as a form of harmful energy to evil-aligned beings. Sacred damage deals full damage to incorporeal targets, and deals damage as if the weapon were good-aligned. As it is not a weapon damage type, it automatically bypasses all damage reduction.

Most martial stances and maneuvers that create supernatural effects are transparent to magic or psionics. However, martial maneuvers rarely interact with spells or powers. Once the maneuver is initiated, the effect lasts only for your turn, unless otherwise detailed in the description, giving an opponent little chance to counter it.

Extraordinary or Supernatural Abilities: Martial stances and maneuvers are never spells or spell-like abilities. Unless the description of the specific stance or maneuver in question says otherwise, treat it as an extraordinary ability. Thus, the abilities of a martial disciple function in an antimagic field or a dead magic zone. A stance or maneuver can’t be dispelled or counterspelled, and initiating one does not provoke attacks of opportunity.

If a maneuver is overtly magical or otherwise uses a supernatural power source, it will be noted as a supernatural ability in its description. In this case, the maneuver obeys all the standard rules for supernatural abilities.

Detecting Martial Maneuvers: Many maneuvers don’t create persistent or long-lasting effects, and the results are obvious to any observer. However, identifying the specific stance, maneuver, or discipline requires the Knowledge (martial) skill.

Multiple Effects: Martial stances and maneuvers generally work as described, no matter how many other powers, spells, or magical effects happen to be operating in the same area or on the same subject. Whenever a stance or maneuver does have a specific effect on other maneuvers, powers, or spells, its description will explain the effect.

Stacking Effects: Most martial disciples can use only one stance at a time, although some higher- level disciples may be able to use two stances at once. Stances or maneuvers that provide penalties or bonuses on attack rolls, damage rolls, saving throws, and other attributes do not stack with each other if they are of the same type, unless otherwise noted within their bonus type descriptions (such as dodge bonuses and circumstance bonuses always stack, but morale bonuses do not).

Stance and Maneuver Description

The description of each power follows a standard format which is explained below.


This entry is the name by which the maneuver is generally known.

Martial Disciplines

Every maneuver belongs one of the martial disciplines: Black Seraph, Broken Blade, Cursed Razor, Elemental Flux, Eternal Guardian, Golden Lion, Iron Tortoise, Mithral Current, Piercing Thunder, Primal Fury, Riven Hourglass, Scarlet Throne, Shattered Mirror, Silver Crane, Sleeping Goddess, Solar Wind, Steel Serpent, Tempest Gale, Thrashing Dragon, and Veiled Moon.

The maneuvers in a discipline are usually linked by common effects, philosophies, or functions. The various martial maneuvers available to practitioners of the Path of War are described in The Art of the Blade.


Most martial abilities fall into one of four categories: boosts, counters, stances, or strikes. Very few maneuvers don’t fall into any of these categories, and they are exceptions to the rule. The maneuver categories below refer to swift and immediate actions. If you are unfamiliar with this, see the Initiation Action section below.


This category covers maneuvers that allow a warrior to bring himself into focus, summon his ki energy or other source of power, and unleash it through melee attacks, or other attacks. A character who shouts an invocation to his cause or god and then unleashes a mighty attack is using a boost.

A boost is a maneuver that grants a bonus, most commonly to attack or damage rolls, for the duration of your turn. A boost always requires a swift action, frequently allowing you to initiate it before unleashing a standard action or full-attack. Some boosts apply additional conditions such as fatigue or stunning to your attacks, while others provide some additional effect imposed on an enemy you have just successfully struck in battle. If a boost applies to your attacks, it applies to all those attacks within the round in which it was initiated, but its effect ends at the end of your turn, unless otherwise specified. A boost’s effect applies for its duration, no matter which weapon you might wield in that round. Should you switch weapons during your turn, the effect of the boost still applies. Each maneuver’s description gives you the details of each boost’s effect.

A boost doesn’t always modify an attack; it could provide a bonus on a skill check, to your character’s speed, or draw the attention of an attacking opponent.


Critical Hit vs. Counter

As this is bound to come up at the gaming table at least once in a while, a player or the GM will roll a natural 20 against a creature or player and the decision to use a counter will arise. Relax, here’s the answer. Counters may be used against a critical hit except if the threatening attack roll was a natural 20. Critical hits from weapons with increased threat ranges (such as rapiers) can be countered if the threatening attack roll was not a 20.

A counter is a fast, usually defensive maneuver that is used to prevent or respond to your opponent’s actions. A martial disciple who dodges just beyond an ogre’s reach is using a counter.

The Iron Tortoise discipline features many counters, because it focuses on teaching students to trust in their shield as their best weapon and defense. Counters are immediate actions that you attempt during an enemy’s turn. Usually, your foe must make a specific action, such as an attack against you, for you to use a counter.

If a counter is compared to an attack roll, then it is initiated after the attack roll is made and the result is revealed but before damage is rolled. A counter that replaces a saving throw or other roll is used before the roll in question, and cannot be used retroactively. Other counters may have specific triggers (or not have triggers at all), as noted in their descriptions.


A strike is a maneuver that allows a special attack. A martial disciple who slays a wyvern in a single blow is using a strike. A strike imparts some bonus or advantage over a standard attack, such as extra damage, or an additional effect such as blinding a foe.

Strikes almost always require a standard or full- round action. Most involve a melee or ranged attack as part of completing the maneuver. If the attack hits, your opponent takes normal melee or ranged damage, as well as suffering the effect of the strike. When making a strike, you use your base attack bonus, all attack and damage modifiers, weapon damage, and so forth, as normal. You can make a critical hit with a strike, but you do not multiply extra damage from a strike when calculating the critical hit damage. It is treated just as extra damage from another special ability would be (like deadly strike damage or damage from a flaming weapon).

Because strikes require a specific form of attack, you cannot benefit from spells or effects that grant extra attacks when making a strike (such as the haste spell or a speed weapon). You are not taking a full attack action when you initiate a strike whose initiation action is 1 full round, unless otherwise specified in the description. Also, you cannot combine special attacks such as disarm or sunder with strikes, unless stated otherwise in the maneuver’s description.


A stance is a type of fighting method that you maintain from round to round. So long as you stay in a stance, you gain some benefit from it. A martial disciple who performs a kata and assumes a specific posture as he prepares to fight is using a stance.

A stance is initiated as a swift action. When you enter a stance, you immediately gain its benefit. You continue to gain the benefit of a typical stance as long as you remain in it. Some stances give you a benefit only when you meet certain conditions. A stance might grant a bonus when you move, or stand still, or if you attack a flat-footed opponent. You cannot enter a stance you are already in.

You can use a single swift action to end one stance and begin another, or you can choose to simply end your current stance without entering another. You continue to gain a stance’s benefits until you switch to a new stance or end your current one. At the start of your turn, you might be in a stance that grants you a bonus on attack rolls. You could make your attacks gaining the stance’s bonus then use a swift action to switch to a stance that gives you a bonus to AC.

Your stance ends if you are rendered helpless for any reason. If you later recover, a swift action must be used to initiate your stance once again. Stances are considered maneuvers for the purpose of fulfilling prerequisites for learning higher-level maneuvers or qualifying for prestige classes or feats.


Some maneuvers have descriptors that further define them. These descriptors appear on the same line as the discipline of the maneuver.

Some descriptors that can apply to maneuvers are cold, electricity, evil, fear, fire, force, good, mind- affecting, teleportation, or sonic. Most of these descriptors have no game effect by themselves, but they do govern how a maneuver may interact with other maneuvers, spells, powers, or abilities.


This entry shows the level of the maneuver for the purposes of qualification to learn that maneuver. The character’s initiator level must meet the minimum prerequisite or exceed it to be able to learn this martial ability (see table: Highest Level Maneuvers Known).

You can learn any maneuvers you like by choosing the Martial Training feat if your class is not a martial disciple, or the Advanced Study feat if you are. However, you must always meet the prerequisites of the maneuver before selecting it.


In addition to meeting the class and level requirements before learning a new maneuver, you must meet a certain set of requirements to be able to choose that maneuver. Stances are considered maneuvers for the purpose of meeting a prerequisite to learn a new maneuver.

A maneuver counts towards its own prerequisites; for example, if a character learned a Golden Lion maneuver with a prerequisite of “1 Golden Lion maneuver,” they would still retain that maneuver even if they exchanged all their other Golden Lion maneuvers for maneuvers of other disciplines.

Maneuvers Known

Some of the more powerful maneuvers require you to learn one or more other maneuvers in the same discipline before they can be selected.

Initiation Action

Vital Strikes, Charging, and Maneuvers

The question will invariably come up as to whether or not you can use Vital Strike and its subsequent feat chain with martial strikes or on a charge. In short, the answer is “no”, and here is why. A vital strike requires the expenditure of a standard action to perform the attack; quite simply, a vital strike operates very much like a martial maneuver. Many maneuvers are standard actions as well, and detail that the character makes an attack with it, not unlike with Vital Strike. They’re mutually exclusive to one another. If a character had a way to get a second standard action that turn, then they could use both but not on the same attack. The same holds true for charging attacks. When you attempt a charge, it is a full round action so there are no actions left at the end to use with a maneuver (unless you possess the Martial Charge feat.) Keep in mind, this does not disqualify the use of boosts with a charge or a vital strike, nor does it disqualify the benefits of a martial stance.

This entry describes the type of action you must spend to active a martial maneuver.


A maneuver’s range indicates how far from you it can reach.

Standard ranges include (but are not limited to) the following:

Personal: The maneuver affects only you (but may give you an unusual power or ability that affects others for the rest of your turn).

Touch: You must touch a creature or object to be able to affect it. A touch maneuver that deals damage can score a critical hit just as a weapon can, although you do not multiply the extra damage from a maneuver on a successful critical hit.

Melee Attack: The maneuver affects any creature you make a successful melee attack against.

Adjacent: The maneuver affects creatures within 1 square of you. Some maneuvers only affect adjacent creatures at the beginning of your turn or at the end of your turn, but others affect any creature you move adjacent to during the course of your turn. See the specific maneuver descriptions for details.

Range Expressed in Feet: Some maneuvers have no standard range category, just a range expressed in feet.

Targeting a Maneuver

The initiator must choose whom his maneuver is going to affect or where it will originate. This entry describes the maneuver’s target or targets, its effect, or its area, as appropriate.

Target or Targets: Most maneuvers affect a specific creature or object (or more than one creature or object) that you designate as your target or targets. You must be able to see or touch the target, and you must specifically choose the target or targets.

Some maneuvers can be initiated only on willing targets. You can declare yourself a willing target at any time (even if you’re flat-footed or it isn’t your turn). Unconscious characters are always considered willing, but a character who is conscious but immobilized or helpless is not automatically willing.

Some maneuvers target you (but they might confer an unusual ability to affect other creatures for the rest of your turn). If the target of a maneuver is “You,” you do not receive a saving throw- you receive the benefit of the maneuver automatically as long as you meet any other requirements for initiating it successfully.

Other maneuvers affect a creature or creatures that you successfully hit with a melee or ranged attack, and some affect a creature you successfully hit with a melee or ranged touch attack.

Area: Some maneuvers can affect an area. You may be able to choose the point where the maneuver’s effect originates, but otherwise, you usually don’t control which creatures or object an area maneuver affects.

Burst: A burst affects whatever it catches in its area, including creatures you can’t see. It can’t affect creatures that have total cover from its point of origin. The default shape for a burst is a sphere.

Emanation: An emanation functions like a burst, except that the effect continues to radiate from the point of origin (often you) for the duration of the maneuver.

Spread: A spread effect spreads out like a burst, but can turn corners. You select the point of origin, and the effect spreads out in all directions to a given distance.

Effect: Some maneuvers create something rather than affect things that are already present. You must designate the location where these things are to appear, either by seeing it or defining it. Range determines how far away an effect can appear.

Line of Effect: Maneuvers that affect a target other than you require line of effect. A line of effect is a straight, unblocked path that indicates what an effect can affect. A solid barrier cancels a line of effect, but line of effect is not blocked by fog, darkness, or any other factors that would limit normal sight.

You must have a clear line of effect to any target that you initiate a maneuver against, or to any space in which you wish to create an effect at range (if your maneuver allows). A burst or emanation affects only an area, creature, or any objects to which it has a line of effect from its origin. An otherwise solid barrier with a hole of at least 1 square foot through it does not block a maneuver’s line of effect.


A maneuver’s duration tells you how long its effect lasts.

End of Turn: The maneuver’s effect lasts until the end of your turn, then ceases to function.

Instant: The effect of the maneuver comes and goes the instant the maneuver is initiated.

One-Round Durations: Some durations are measured as 1 round. You gain the capability to perform whatever special effect or attack the maneuver permits on your turn. Immediately before the beginning of your next turn, its effect comes to an end.

Stance: This duration indicates that the ability is a stance, and therefore ends only when you will it to end, when you become helpless, or when you fulfill a specific condition described in the stance’s description.

Timed Durations: Some maneuvers last some number of rounds or minutes. When the time is up, the energy sustaining the effect fades, and the maneuver’s effect ends.

No Duration: The effect of a maneuver without a duration lasts only as long as it takes you to initiate the maneuver. Some maneuvers “last” less than a full round. Such is often the case for maneuvers that deal extra damage on top of your normal melee or ranged damage. For example, a strike with an initiation action of 1 standard action would effectively have a duration of 1 standard action; the effect of the strike is tied to the action of making the attack. When this is the case, no duration entry is given.

Saving Throw

Sometimes, a maneuver with a special effect or supernatural augmentation that targets an enemy allows the creature or object to make a saving throw to avoid some or all of the effect. The saving throw line in a maneuver description defines which type of saving throw a maneuver allows. Maneuvers performed with a favored weapon for the martial abilities’ discipline gain a +2 competence bonus to the DC of the maneuver initiated (if applicable).

Negates: The maneuver has no additional effect on a subject that makes a successful saving throw.

Partial: The maneuver causes an effect on its subject, such as death. A successful saving throw means that some lesser effect occurs (such as being dealt damage rather than being killed.)

Half: The maneuver deals damage, and a successful saving throw halves the damage taken (round down). None: In a case where no saving throw is allowed, the saving throw line is omitted.

Saving Throw Difficulty Class: The formula for determining a saving throw DC against a maneuver’s special effect is 10 + maneuver level + initiator modifier.

Spell Resistance

Unlike spell descriptions or power descriptions, martial maneuvers never allow spell resistance or power resistance. Since maneuvers are extraordinary or supernatural abilities.

Descriptive Text

This part of the maneuver description explains what the maneuver does and how it works. If one of the previous lines in the maneuver description included “see text” or “see description,” an explanation will be included in the descriptive text.

Attacks and Path of War

For the purposes of maneuvers, stances, and other abilities in Path of War and related Dreamscarred Press products, an attack is a combat action that requires an attack roll. Unless otherwise noted, attacks made as part of maneuvers must be made with a weapon that can properly fulfill the maneuver’s targeting restrictions. Stances and maneuvers that grant bonus damage or effects on attacks only do so on attacks that require an attack roll; they do not do so on all offensive actions.

Additional Special Rules

Some maneuvers allow the initiator to perform actions that they may not be able to, or interact differently with the basic rules for combat.

Acrobatic Movement: Whenever a maneuver calls for an Acrobatics check to jump or otherwise move, the initiator can move the distance indicated by their roll as part of the action of the maneuver, regardless of how far they have moved this turn.

Area Weapons: In order to initiate a strike, the initiator must have the ability to choose the proper target with their weapon (as listed in the individual maneuver descriptions). Thus, weapons that affect an area rather than making attacks against specific creatures cannot be used with most martial strikes. Splash weapons and similar weapons that choose a primary target and also affect other creatures only apply the additional effects of the strike to the primary target; for example, if an initiator is wielding a flask of acid, they could throw it directly at a creature as part of a strike. The strike would function as normal, and creatures around the primary target would be affected by the splash weapon’s effect as normal (but not the strike’s effect).

Critical Hits: Regardless of whether or not it is expressed as a bonus or as dice, extra damage from maneuvers and stances is never multiplied by critical hits or other effects that multiply an attack’s damage (though vulnerability functions as normal, as it is not a multiplication effect and increases the damage taken, rather than the damage dealt).

Flying Initiators: If an initiator gains a fly speed from a stance or maneuver, he may treat his ranks in Fly as being equal to his initiator level, and may add his initiation modifier to his Fly check.

Lethal and Nonlethal Damage: Unless otherwise noted, when a character uses a weapon to deal nonlethal damage while initiating or benefiting from a maneuver or stance, any additional damage dealt by their maneuver or stance is nonlethal damage (including energy damage). Likewise, using a weapon to deal lethal damage will cause any additional damage to be lethal. A weapon that does not deal damage (such as a lasso) cannot deal the additional damage (including ability damage) granted by a maneuver or stance, though the attack still gains any other benefits or effects that would apply.

Maneuvers and Mounted Combat: When a character initiates a martial strike or boost during a mounted charge attack, the initiation of the maneuver overrides any damage bonuses that would be gained while performing this action (such as by the Spirited Charge feat or while wielding a lance), and the initiator deals damage as if they were not charging (the effects of the strike or boost are applied to the attack as normal). If a mounted character initiates a strike that includes a charge attack, their mount forgoes its normal actions this round and takes a full-round action to move up to twice its speed in a straight line, taking the normal penalty to its AC for charging. Martial counters and stances are unaffected by being mounted, and a character can gain their effects as normal.

Retraining: Initiators can retrain their known maneuvers and stances; this retraining takes 2 days per level of the new maneuver and requires a trainer who can initiate the desired maneuver or enter the desired stance. The new maneuver or stance must be part of the initiator’s available disciplines for the class, and must be of an equal or lower level to the maneuver or stance it replaces. Note that this is unrelated to the ability of initiators to swap maneuvers for higher-level ones at certain initiator levels; that swap represents the initiator’s evolving style of combat, does not require a trainer, cannot replace stances, and can happen only once at a given level.

Skill Checks: Unlike other Intimidate checks, Intimidate checks made as part of maneuvers are only fear effects if the maneuver has the fear descriptor, or would apply a fear condition.

Two-Weapon Fighting: Some maneuvers allow the initiator to attack with multiple weapons. Unless otherwise noted, the initiator does not take the normal penalties for fighting with two weapons (as they are not gaining additional attacks during a full attack), and does not gain any benefits they might have normally gained when fighting with two weapons. Any maneuver that specifically imposes penalties for fighting with two weapons does gain such benefits, however.

Learning Stances and Maneuvers

Martial disciples initiate martial stances and maneuvers. These maneuvers are manifestations of supreme martial prowess, focus, and clarity. They also tap into a subconscious universal energy or ki; by performing a maneuver to perfection, a martial disciple can achieve amazing feats of martial and athletic skill.

Martial disciples do not have “spellbooks,” but they do ready a selection of their maneuvers ahead of time. Unlike characters who prepare spells, martial disciples can quickly choose a new selection of readied maneuvers with a brief pause to exercise, meditate, pray, and so forth. Martial disciples do not have to ready their stances; all stances known are available at all times.

Adding Stances and Maneuvers

Martial disciples usually learn new stances and maneuvers when they attain a new level. Not every discipline is available to every character.

Stances and Maneuvers Gained at a New Level: Martial disciples train, meditate, and practice between adventures and while resting. When a martial disciple learns a new stance or maneuver because she gained a level, you can assume that this new knowledge represents the effects of practice and study over the course of days, weeks, or even months.

Independent Study: A martial disciple can attempt to devise a new stance or maneuver independently, adding to an existing discipline. The GM decides if it’s possible for a character to develop a new maneuver. If a GM permits the creation of a new maneuver, observe the following guidelines.

First, the martial disciple needs a safe place to meditate and practice. This effort requires a number of days equal to 3 x the maneuver’s level, so if the disciple is devising a 4th level maneuver, the research will require 12 days. The GM should also decide a fair cost for the disciple to pay (500gp/level is the default cost for this, but may vary at the GM’s discretion), representing the intense regiment of meditation, fasting or other dietary needs, and practice designed to focus the mind and spirit on the task at hand.

A martial disciple cannot create a new maneuver of a higher level than that disciple is capable of learning. At the end of the requisite time for study and practice, the martial disciple attempts a Knowledge (martial) check (DC 20 + (2 x the maneuver’s level). If the check succeeds, the character learns the maneuver the next time she has an opportunity to learn a new maneuver through level advancement or feat selection. If the check fails, the new maneuver is not yet perfected, and he must go through the study and practice time again if he wants to keep trying (although she retains the cost, if any, determined by the GM thus far).

A GM should work closely with the player before the attempt to develop a new maneuver begins and give them guidance on the parameters under which a new maneuver or discipline might be acceptable.

Discipline Exchanges and You

When joining a martial tradition, you are opening yourself to a whole new world of martial training. When taking the Unorthodox Method trait, you also show that your character has a divergent method from the normal means that a martial character would go.

Archetypes: When selecting an archetype that trades an available discipline for another, you also gain the new discipline (or disciplines’) associated skills as class skills. Unless otherwise noted, you do not lose the traded disciplines’ associated skills, and an archetype that allows a character to choose from more options when gaining a new class feature (such as the brutal slayer stalker’s additional stalker arts or the bushi’s bushidos) is not incompatible with other archetypes that add similar options.

Martial Traditions: When you join a tradition and opt to trade an available discipline for the tradition’s, you also gain that discipline’s associated skill as a class skill. You do not lose the traded discipline’s associated skill.

Traits: Traits that would modify your available disciplines add any new disciplines’ associated skills as class skills, and do not cause you to lose any class skills.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

Path of War, © 2014, Dreamscarred Press.

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

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