- Martial Abilities
- Readying Maneuvers
- Initiating Stances and Maneuvers
- Initiator Level
- Selecting Martial Maneuvers
- Resolving a Stance or Maneuver
- Recovering Expended Maneuvers
- Martial Abilities and Magic
- Stance and Maneuver Description
- Attacks and Path of War
- Additional Special Rules
- Learning Stances and Maneuvers
- Adding Stances and Maneuvers
- Discipline Exchanges and You
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 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.
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.
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.
|Initiator Level||Maneuver Level|
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Some of the more powerful maneuvers require you to learn one or more other maneuvers in the same discipline before they can be selected.
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.