The gladiator is a professional duelist. Many are born slaves and reared in gladiatorial schools, until such time as they earn their freedom in battle, escape, or rebel. Some join dueling academies voluntarily, seeking fame or fortune in prize fights and honor matches. Some gladiators began as warriors from faroff lands, captured in battle and forced to fight to the death, while others are condemned criminals, paying their debt to society by participating in ritual combat for the public. Whatever their station or background, the gladiator has been hardened by combat and has learned to anticipate a wily foe. While gladiatorial matches often follow a prescribed, even ritual format, the gladiator must always be ready for the possibility that the event editor will prescribe unusual weapons, conditions, or opponents. Some arena fighters specialize in fighting exotic animals and monsters.

Role: Much like the fighter, the gladiator excels at pitched combat. The gladiator, though, does not depend on heavy armor and headstrong assaults but on agility, timing, and expertise in a subset of weaponry. Gladiators fight lightly armored, allowing them a great degree of mobility. Many depend on the classic sword and shield, but others specialize in the use of the net or other unusual weapons.

Alignment: Any.

Hit Die: d12

Class Skills: The gladiator’s class skills are Acrobatics (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Escape Artist (Dex), Handle Animal (Cha), Heal (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Perform (act) (Cha), Ride (Dex), and Swim (Str).

Skill Ranks per level: 2 + Int modifier (minimum 1).

Table: Gladiator
Level Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Special
1st +1 +2 +0 +0 Combat expertise, exotic armor proficiency (partial), gladiator style, gladiator training
2nd +2 +3 +0 +0 Uncanny dodge, physical development, bravery +1, improved gladiator style
3rd +3 +3 +1 +1 Gladiator defense, shake it off
4th +4 +4 +1 +1 Bonus feat
5th +5 +4 +1 +1 Improved uncanny dodge, careful stance, melee smash +1
6th +6/+1 +5 +2 +2 Bravery +2
7th +7/+2 +5 +2 +2 Damage reduction 1/-
8th +8/+3 +6 +2 +2 Bonus feat
9th +9/+4 +6 +3 +3 Fleet
10th +10/+5 +7 +3 +3 Bravery +3, damage reduction 2/-, melee smash +2
11th +11/+6/+1 +7 +3 +3 Bleeding critical
12th +12/+7/+2 +8 +4 +4 Bonus feat
13th +13/+8/+3 +8 +4 +4 Damage reduction 3/-
14th +14/+9/+4 +9 +4 +4 Bravery +4
15th +15/+10/+5 +9 +5 +5 Defensive roll, melee smash +3
16th +16/+11/+6/+1 +10 +5 +5 Bonus feat, damage reduction 4/-
17th +17/+12/+7/+2 +10 +5 +5 Fleet
18th +18/+13/+8/+3 +11 +6 +6 Bravery +5
19th +19/+14/9/+4 +11 +6 +6 Damage reduction 5/-
20th +20/+15/10/+5 +12 +6 +6 Bonus feat, melee smash +4, arena king/queen

Class Features

The following are class features of the gladiator.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency

Gladiators are proficient with all simple weapons, plus all martial melee and thrown weapons. They are proficient with light armor and medium armor and shields, including tower shields.

Gladiator Training

The gladiator receives Combat Expertise as a bonus feat. He may ignore Combat Expertise and ability score requirements when selecting combat feats (those that are allowed as bonus feats of the fighter class). Additionally, a gladiator counts as a fighter of his level -2 for the purpose of qualifying for combat feats.

Exotic Armor Proficiency (partial)

The gladiator receives Exotic Armor Proficiency (partial) as a bonus feat.

Gladiator Style

The gladiator selects one of the following styles, representing his formal style.

Uncanny Dodge (Ex)

Starting at 2nd level, a gladiator can react to danger before his senses would normally allow him to do so. He cannot be caught flatfooted, even if the attacker is invisible. He still loses his Dexterity bonus to AC if immobilized. A gladiator with this ability can still lose his Dexterity bonus to AC if an opponent successfully uses the feint action against him. If a gladiator already has uncanny dodge from a different class, he automatically gains improved uncanny dodge (see below) instead.

Physical Development

At 2nd level, the gladiator receives one of the following feats as a bonus feat: Acrobatic, Agile Maneuvers, Endurance, Fleet, Improved Unarmed Strike, Intimidating Prowess, or Weapon Finesse.

Bravery (Ex)

Starting at 2nd level, a gladiator gains a +1 bonus on Will saves against fear. This bonus increases by +1 every four levels beyond 2nd.

Gladiator Defense

At 3rd level, the gladiator gains, as a bonus feat, Alertness, Dodge, Perfect Parry, Two-Weapon Defense, Shield Focus, or Toughness.

Shake it Off

A gladiator of at least 3rd level gains a +2 bonus to save versus any condition transmitted by an attack. This ability has no effect on afflictions, spell-like abilities, or supernatural abilities.

Bonus Feat

At 4th level and every four levels, thereafter, the gladiator gains a bonus combat feat. He must meet the usual prerequisites, except as exempted because of gladiator training.

Melee Smash (Ex)

A gladiator gains +1 to damage with melee attacks at 4th level. This bonus increases by +1 every five levels, to a maximum of +4 at 19 level.

Improved Uncanny Dodge (Ex)

At 5th level and higher, a gladiator can no longer be flanked.

This defense denies a rogue the ability to sneak attack the gladiator by flanking him, unless the attacker has at least four more rogue levels than the target has gladiator levels. If a character already has uncanny dodge (see above) from another class, the levels from the classes that grant uncanny dodge stack to determine the minimum rogue level required to flank the character.

Improved Gladiator Style

At 6th level, the gladiator gains an additional ability, based on his style. The gladiator may ignore prerequisites when selecting a bonus feat from his style, whether through this ability, bonus feats as a gladiator, or general feat selection.

Damage Reduction (Ex)

At 7th level, a gladiator gains damage reduction. Subtract 1 from the damage the gladiator takes each time he is dealt damage from a weapon or natural attack. At 10th level, and every three gladiator levels thereafter, this damage reduction rises by 1 point.


At 9th and 17th level, the gladiator gains Fleet as a bonus feat.

Bleeding Critical

At 11th level, a gladiator gains Bleeding Critical as a bonus feat. If he already has this feat, he can select another feat for which he qualifies.

Tiring Critical

At 13th level, a gladiator gains Tiring Critical as a bonus feat. If he already has this feat, he can select another feat for which he qualifies.

Defensive Roll (Ex)

A gladiator of at least 15th level can roll with a potentially lethal blow to take less damage from it than he otherwise would. Once per day, when he would be reduced to 0 or fewer hit points by damage in combat (from a weapon or other blow, not a spell or special ability), the gladiator can attempt to roll with the damage. To use this ability, the gladiator must attempt a Reflex saving throw (DC = damage dealt). If the save succeeds, he takes only half damage from the blow; if it fails, he takes full damage. He must be aware of the attack and able to react to it in order to execute his defensive roll —if he is denied his Dexterity bonus to AC, he can’t use this ability. Since this effect would not normally allow a character to make a Reflex save for half damage, the evasion ability does not apply to the defensive roll.

Arena King/Queen (Ex)

At 20th level, the gladiator becomes a champion of death and glory. Any time he is affected by a morale bonus of any kind, he gains +4 luck bonus on Will saves. Whenever he threatens an opponent with a melee weapon, he gains a +4 dodge bonus to AC.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

Adventuring Classes: A Fistful of Denarii. Copyright 2009, Robert J. Grady. All rights reserved.

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