Martial Artist

Martial artists, like monks, are practitioners of demanding meditative arts and advanced fighting techniques. Martial artists typically come from monasteries or fighting academies, although some learn their arts from family mentors or private tutors. Rather than focusing on esoteric powers and spiritual attainment, the martial artist seeks perfection through rigorous training and constant challenge. Although martial artists may be peaceful artists or vicious bandits, depending on their personal inclination, virtually any martial artist will be eager for the opportunity to test their abilities against opponents, especially other martial artists, monks, and weapon masters.

Role: The martial artist depends on mobility and powerful attacks to quickly take down foes. Although not as well armored as the fighter, they are tough opponents with fairly strong defenses. Depending on their chosen combat style, martial artists may be unarmed strikers, experts of the blade, or masters of the humble staff.

Alignment: Any.

Hit Die: d10

Class Skills

The martial artist’s class skills are Acrobatics (Dex), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Escape Artist (Dex), Heal (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (history) (Int), Knowledge (nobility), Knowledge (religion) (Int), Perception (Wis), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), Stealth (Dex), and Swim (Str).

Skill Ranks per Level: 2* + Int modifier


In the source material the number of skill ranks per level is missing. RJGrady confirmed the correct number per level should be 2. This errata has been applied.

Table: Martial Artist

Level Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Special
1st +1 +2 +2 +0 Improved unarmed strike, chosen weapon, dodge, agile defense
2nd +2 +3 +3 +0 Bonus feat, uncanny dodge, intimidating stare
3rd +3 +3 +3 +1 Immunity to fear, increased initiative +1, fast movement
4th +4 +4 +4 +1 Bonus feat, improved uncanny dodge
5th +5 +4 +4 +1 Ki pool (magic), excellent weapon strike +1
6th +6/+1 +5 +5 +2 Bonus feat
7th +7/+2 +5 +5 +2 Increased initiative +2, evasion
8th +8/+3 +6 +6 +2 Bonus feat
9th +9/+4 +6 +6 +3 Excellent weapon strike +2
10th +10/+5 +7 +7 +3 Bonus feat, ki pool (cold iron or silver)
11th +11/+6/+1 +7 +7 +3 Increased initiative +3, high jump
12th +12/+7/+2 +8 +8 +4 Bonus feat
13th +13/+8/+3 +8 +8 +4 Excellent weapon strike +3, improved evasion
14th +14/+9/+4 +9 +9 +4 Bonus feat
15th +15/+10/+5 +9 +9 +5 Ki pool (adamantine), increased initiative +4
16th +16/+11/+6/+1 +10 +10 +5 Bonus feat
17th +17/+12/+7/+2 +10 +10 +5 Excellent weapon strike +4, devastating ki
18th +18/+13/+8/+3 +11 +11 +6 Bonus feat
19th +19/+14/+9/+4 +11 +11 +6 Increased initiative +5, skill mastery
20th +20/+15/+10/+5 +12 +12 +6 Bonus feat, chosen weapon mastery

Class Features

The following are class features of the martial artist class.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency

Martial artists are proficient with all simple and martial weapons, plus the kama, nunchaku, sai, shuriken, and siangham. Martial artists are not proficient with any armor or shields.

Improved Unarmed Strike

Martial artists receive Improved Unarmed Strike as a bonus feat.

Chosen Weapon (Ex)

The martial artist selects one type of weapon or unarmed strikes as his chosen weapon. When striking with his chosen weapon, he gains a bonus to damage equal to half his level (minimum 1).


Martial artists receive Dodge as a bonus feat.

Agile Defense

Martial artists receive Agile Defense as a bonus feat.

Uncanny Dodge (Ex)

Starting at 2nd level, a martial artist can react to danger before his senses would normally allow him to do so. He cannot be caught flat-footed, even if the attacker is invisible. He still loses his Dexterity bonus to AC if immobilized. A martial artist with this ability can still lose his Dexterity bonus to AC if an opponent successfully uses the feint action against him.

Intimidating Stare (Ex)

At 2th level, the martial artist gains a +2 bonus on Intimidate checks.

Bonus Feat

At 2nd level and at every even numbered level thereafter (4th, 6th, 8th etc.), the martial artist gains a bonus combat feat (a feat marked Combat.)

Immunity to Fear (Ex)

At 3rd level a martial artist becomes immune to fear, magical or otherwise.

Increased Initiative (Ex)

At 3rd level, a martial artist receives a +1 bonus to initiative checks. This bonus increases by +1 every four levels thereafter.

Fast Movement

At 3rd level, a martial artist’s land speed becomes faster than the norm for his race by +10 feet. This benefit applies only when he is wearing no armor, light armor, or medium armor, and not carrying a heavy load. Apply this bonus before modifying the martial artist’s speed because of any load carried or armor worn. This bonus stacks with any other bonuses to the martial artist’s land speed. However, it does not stack with the identical barbarian ability.

Improved Uncanny Dodge (Ex)

At 4th level and higher, a martial artist can no longer be flanked. This defense denies a rogue the ability to sneak attack the martial artist by flanking him, unless the attacker has at least four more rogue levels than the target has martial artist 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.

Ki Pool (Su)

At 5th level, a martial artist gains a pool of ki points, supernatural energy he can use to accomplish amazing feats. The number of points in a martial artist’s ki pool is equal to ½ his martial artist level + his Wisdom modifier. As long as he has at least 1 point in his ki pool, he can make a ki strike. At 5th level, ki strike allows strikes with his chosen weapon to be treated as magic weapons for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction. At 10th level, attacks with his chosen weapon are also treated as cold iron or silver weapons for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction. At 15th level, his strikes are treated as adamantine weapons for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction and bypassing hardness.

By spending 1 point from his ki pool, a martial artist can make one additional attack at his highest attack bonus when making a full attack with his chosen weapon. In addition, he can spend 1 point to increase his speed by 20 feet for 1 round. Finally, a martial artist can spend 1 point from his ki pool to give himself a +4 dodge bonus to AC for 1 round. Each of these powers is activated as a swift action. The ki pool is replenished each morning after 8 hours of rest or meditation; these hours need not be consecutive.

Excellent Weapon Strike (Ex)

A martial artist of at least 5th level gains a +1 on attack rolls with his chosen weapon. This bonus increases by +1 every four levels to a maximum of +4 at 17th level.

Evasion (Ex)

At 7th level and higher, a martial artist can avoid damage from many area-effect attacks. If a martial artist makes a Reflex saving throw against an attack that normally does half damage on a successful save, he instead takes no damage. Evasion can only be used if a martial artist is wearing light armor or no armor. A helpless martial artist does not gain the benefit of evasion.

High Jump (Ex)

At 11th level, a martial artist adds his level to all Acrobatics checks to make a jump, both for vertical jumps and horizontal jumps. In addition, he always counts as having a running start when making jump checks using Acrobatics. By spending 1 point from his ki pool, as a swift action, the martial artist gains a +20 bonus on Acrobatics checks made to jump for 1 round.

Improved Evasion (Ex)

At 13th level, a martial artist’s evasion ability improves. He still takes no damage on a successful Reflex saving throw against attacks, but henceforth he takes only half damage damage on a failed save. A helpless martial artist does not gain the benefit of improved evasion.

Devastating Ki (Su)

At 17th level, when attacking with his chosen weapon, the martial artist can spend 1 ki point as a swift action to add his weapon’s base damage dice to his next attack. If he misses, the use is wasted. This damage is not multiplied on a critical hit.

Skill Mastery (Ex)

The martial artist’s calm and precision extend to non-combat activities. Choose a number of skills equal to 3 + the martial artist’s Int modifier. When making a skill check with one of these skills, he may take 10 even if stress and distractions would normally prevent him from doing so.

Chosen Weapon Mastery (Ex)

At 20th level, a martial artist achieves mastery of his chosen weapon. Any attacks made with that weapon automatically confirm all critical threats and have their damage multiplier increased by 1 (×2 becomes ×3, for example). In addition, his chosen weapon cannot be disarmed. If his chosen weapon is an unarmed strike, he can ignore the abilities of opponents that affect those who attack them with an unarmed strike or natural weapon (but gains no special protection when grappling or against effects that affect armed opponents).

Section 15: Copyright Notice – Adventuring Classes: A Fistful of Denarii

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

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