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Note: This archetype uses rules available in Path of War by Dreamscarred Press.

The fear that keeps many warriors awake at night is knowing that out there somewhere, someone is carrying the blade or arrow that has your name on it—the weapon that kills the otherwise brave warrior. Some dreads know that this most terrifying fear is one they lurks in the front of every warrior’s mind in battle, and by capturing that fear, they can appear to those night-fearing soldiers as that one terrifying warrior. The nightmare that has just been carrying that weapon, waiting to meet them.


A nightmare begins his career with knowledge of three martial maneuvers. The disciplines available to him are Black Seraph, Sleeping Goddess, and Veiled Moon.

Once the nightmare knows a maneuver, he must ready it before he can use it (see Maneuvers Readied, below). A maneuver usable by nightmares is considered an extraordinary ability unless otherwise noted in it or its discipline’s description. A nightmare’s maneuvers are not affected by spell resistance, and he does not provoke attacks of opportunity when he initiates one.

The nightmare learns additional maneuvers at higher levels, as indicated on Table: Archetype Maneuver Progression. The maximum level of maneuvers gained through nightmare levels is limited by those listed in that table as well, although this restriction does not apply to maneuvers added to his maneuvers known through other methods, such as prestige classes or the Advanced Study feat. A nightmare must meet a maneuver’s prerequisite to learn it. See Systems and Use for more details on how maneuvers are used.

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

Maneuvers Readied

A nightmare can ready all three of his maneuvers known at 1st level, and as he advances in level and learns more maneuvers, he is able to ready more, but must still choose which maneuvers to ready. A nightmare must always ready his maximum number of maneuvers readied. He readies his maneuvers by practicing weapon drills or meditating on the nature of fear for ten minutes. The maneuvers he chooses remain readied until he decides to practice again and change them. The nightmare does not need to sleep or rest for any long period of time in order to ready his maneuvers; any time he spends ten minutes meditating, he can change his readied maneuvers.

A nightmare begins an encounter with all his readied maneuvers unexpended, regardless of how many times he might have already used them since he chose them. When he initiates a maneuver, he expends it for the current encounter, so each of his readied maneuvers can be used once per encounter (unless he recovers them, as described below).

In order for the nightmare to recover maneuvers, he must draw on the fear of his enemies by activating his frightful claim class feature; the nightmare recovers a single expended maneuver whenever he Claims a creature, and he recovers a number of expended maneuvers equal to his nightmare initiation modifier (minimum 2) whenever a creature he has Claimed is reduced to 0 or less hit points. Alternately, the nightmare may concentrate on his deepest fears and draw strength from them to recover a single maneuver as a standard action.


A nightmare begins his career with knowledge of one stance from any discipline open to nightmares. At 4th, 7th, 11th, and 13th levels, he can select an additional stance to learn. The maximum level of stances gained through nightmare levels is limited by those listed in Table: Archetype Maneuver Progression. Unlike maneuvers, stances are not expended and the nightmare does not have to ready them. All the stances he knows are available to his at all times, and he can change the stance he is currently maintaining as a swift action. A stance is an extraordinary ability unless otherwise stated in the stance or discipline description.

Unlike with maneuvers, a nightmare cannot learn a new stance at higher levels in place of one he already knows.

This ability replaces shadow twin and the nightmare’s new powers known at 2nd, 8th, and 14th levels.

Frightful Claim (Su)

Starting at 1st level, a nightmare gains the ability to channel his mind-breaking psionic abilities, marking a foe as his prey and driving them to absolute terror in the process. As a swift action, the nightmare may Claim an opponent that he can see (including with special senses such as blindsense or tremorsense) within close range (25 feet + 5 feet per 2 nightmare levels) for a number of rounds equal to 1/2 his class level (minimum 1 round). A nightmare can have a maximum number of creatures Claimed equal to his nightmare initiation modifier (minimum 1), and may not Claim a creature he has already Claimed until or unless the Claim expires. Claimed creatures take a –2 penalty on saving throws against fear effects. This penalty increases by –1 at 6th level and every six levels thereafter, and stacks with the nightmare’s aura of fear class feature.

In addition, the nightmare automatically knows the position of creatures he has Claimed. Any opponent the nightmare cannot see still has total concealment (50% miss chance) against him, and the nightmare still suffers the normal miss chance when attacking creatures that have concealment. The nightmare is still denied his Dexterity bonus to his AC against attacks from Claimed creatures he cannot see.

Martial Terror (Su)

At 2nd level, the nightmare gains the ability to channel a terror through his strikes. Once per round as a free action, the nightmare can channel a terror through his weapon when initiating a strike or using his devastating touch class feature against a creature he has Claimed.

This ability replaces channel terror.

Master of Fear (EX)

Starting at 5th level, the nightmare’s control over his fearsome melee might increases. Once per round when the nightmare manifests a psionic power, he can enter a new stance as a free action. In addition, once per round when he initiates a boost, he can activate a single terror as a free action. If the nightmare possess the Terror Mastery feat, he can instead activate two terrors as a free action when using this ability.

This ability replaces the bonus feat gained at 5th level.

Bonus Feats

At 9th level and every four levels thereafter, the nightmare gains Advanced Study, Discipline Focus, Discipline Mastery, or any feat that requires the ability to Claim an opponent as a bonus feat. He must meet the prerequisites for these feats as normal.

This ability replaces the bonus feats gained at 9th, 13th, and 17th levels.

Torturous Fear (Su)

At 11th level, the nightmare gains the ability to initiate strikes with an initiation action of 1 standard action while using his devastating touch class feature. He makes a melee touch attack as normal, and affects the target with both the strike and the devastating touch. If the nightmare has the ability to use his devastating touch as a ranged attack, he can only initiate strikes that can be used with ranged attacks with it.

This ability replaces twin fear.

Improved Aura of Fear (Su)

At 15th level, the nightmare’s aura of fear radius increases from 10 feet to 20 feet. Creatures who are immune to fear effects must still be within 10 feet of the nightmare to lose this immunity.

Martial Nightmare (Su)

At 19th level, the nightmare’s Claim causes his foes to be wracked with fear to their cores. Creatures Claimed by the nightmare’s frightful claim class feature ability lose any immunities to fear effects and mind-affecting effects they possess for as long as they are Claimed, and take a –2 penalty on saving throws against the nightmare’s maneuvers and psionic powers.

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