A rubato (plural rubati) is a bard who taps into the Primal Song and channels it in both life and war. Theories abound about the Primal Song, though most accept that it is an echo, a shard, of something even more ancient and fundamental, but its power fuels these war singers and propels them to acts of incredible valor.
Once the rubato knows a maneuver, he must ready it before he can use it (see Maneuvers Readied, below). A maneuver usable by rubati is considered an extraordinary ability unless otherwise noted in it or its discipline’s description. A rubato’s maneuvers are not affected by spell resistance, and he does not provoke attacks of opportunity when he initiates one.
The rubato learns additional maneuvers at higher levels, as indicated on Table: Archetype Maneuver Progression. The maximum level of maneuvers gained through rubato 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 rubato 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 rubato 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 rubato 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 rubato’s initiation modifier is Charisma, and each rubato level is counted as a full initiator level.
A rubato 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 rubato must always ready his maximum number of maneuvers readied. He readies his maneuvers by practicing weapon drills or communing with the primal rhythm for ten minutes. The maneuvers he chooses remain readied until he decides to practice again and change them. The rubato 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 practicing, he can change his readied maneuvers.
A rubato 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 rubato to recover maneuvers, he must expend tempo. A rubato can recover a single expended maneuver as a swift action by spending 2 points of tempo, or as a free action by spending 3 points of tempo. A rubato may not recover a maneuver by spending tempo in the same round that he initiated it, though he might be able to recover it in another way.
A rubato begins his career with knowledge of one stance from any discipline open to rubati. At 4th, 7th, 11th, and 13th levels, he can select an additional stance to learn. The maximum level of stances gained through rubato levels is limited by those listed in Table: Archetype Maneuver Progression. Unlike maneuvers, stances are not expended and the rubato 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 rubato cannot learn a new stance at higher levels in place of one he already knows.
This ability replaces spells.
As the rubato fights and draws on the Primal Song, he builds a supernatural energy known as tempo. Outside combat, a rubato has no tempo to spend. When a rubato enters combat, he gains a tempo pool equal to 1/2 his class level (minimum 1) + his rubato initiation modifier at the start of his first turn, and adds one point of tempo to his tempo pool at the start of each of his turns thereafter. His tempo pool persists for one minute after the last enemy combatant is defeated or the encounter otherwise ends. The rubato may not gain tempo out of combat, even if another ability would normally permit him to. A rubato can spend tempo as if it were animus when augmenting maneuvers or using feats such as Animus Healing.
This ability replaces cantrips.
Like all bards, the rubato can use his performances to create magical effects on those around his. Once per round as a free action, a rubato can expend one round of his bardic performance to add 2 points of tempo to his tempo pool. Alternatively, he can spend 2 points of tempo to regain one round of his bardic performance. He may only use one of these abilities in a given round. In addition, a rubato can start a bardic performance in the same action as initiating a strike by spending one additional round of his bardic performance ability.
Rubati learn different performances than most bards. A rubato still learns inspire courage, inspire competence, and soothing performance, but otherwise learns performances from the list below. A rubato’s performances may all use either audible or visual components, even if they would otherwise only use one or the other.
Counterpoint (Ex): At 1st level, a rubato learns how to lead his allies in a defensive rhythm. An ally must be able to perceive the rubato’s performance to be affected. Affected allies gain a bonus equal to 1/2 the rubato’s class level (minimum one) on all non-damage rolls made as part of initiating counters. This ability replaces countersong.
Metronome (Su): At 1st level, a rubato learns how to create a stronger, faster connection to the Primal Song. While maintaining this performance, he adds one point of tempo to his tempo pool at the beginning of each of his turns. At 5th level and every five levels thereafter, the amount of tempo gained by this ability increases by 1. This ability replaces distraction.
Dissonance (Ex): At 1st level, a rubato learns how to create a subtly hypnotic, discordant performance that jars his enemies and disturbs their patterns. Enemies within 30 feet that can perceive the rubato’s performance must succeed at a Will save (DC 10 + 1/2 the rubato’s class level + his rubato initiation modifier) or take a –1 penalty on all non-damage rolls made as part of their attacks or strikes while the rubato maintains this performance. A creature that successfully saves cannot be affected by the same rubato’s dissonance performance until the end of the encounter. This penalty increases by –1 at 5th level and every five levels thereafter. This ability replaces fascinate.
Fortissimo (Su): At 6th level, a rubato learns to empower his maneuvers with tempo. Unlike other bardic performances, he may activate this performance while maintaining another performance. When the rubato initiates a strike with an initiation action of 1 standard action, he can expend 3 rounds of bardic performance and 2 points of tempo to increase the damage (including ability damage, if appropriate) dealt by that strike by 50%. He can activate this performance after rolling his attack roll and determining if it hit or missed, but must activate it before damage is rolled. The rubato must wait 3 rounds after performing a fortissimo before he may perform it again. This ability replaces suggestion.
Canon (Su): At 8th level, a rubato learns to lead his allies in a martial rhythm. An ally must be able to perceive the rubato’s performance to be affected. Whenever an affected ally initiates a maneuver, they can recover an expended maneuver of different type (for example, an ally that initiates a strike may recover a boost or a counter). Each affected ally may only recover up to one maneuver per round in this fashion. This ability replaces dirge of doom.
Accelerando (Su): At 9th level, a rubato learns to charge his allies with his tempo, infusing them with the Primal Song. An ally must be able to perceive the rubato’s performance to be affected. Affected allies gain the benefits of the haste spell. Starting and maintaining this performance costs two performance rounds for each round the rubato performs, rather than one. This ability replaces inspire greatness.
Crescendo (Su): At 14th level, a rubato can maximize his strikes with tempo, smiting his enemies with the triumphant rise of the Primal Song. Unlike other bardic performances, he may activate this performance while maintaining another performance. When the rubato initiates a strike with an initiation action of 1 standard action, he can expend 4 rounds of bardic performance and 4 points of tempo to maximize the damage (including ability damage, if appropriate) dealt by that strike. Treat all damage dice rolled as part of the strike as though they had achieved the maximum result. This does not affect any other part of the strike, such as attack rolls or rolls to determine the duration of its effects. This ability replaces frightening tune.
Harmonize (Su): At 15th level, a rubato learns to harmonize his allies’ movements with the rhythm of the Primal Song. Unlike other bardic performances, this performance costs 2 tempo per round to maintain rather than costing bardic performance rounds. An ally must be able to perceive the rubato’s performance to be affected. Affected allies gain an insight bonus equal to the rubato’s initiation modifier to their AC, on saving throws, and on skill checks made as part of initiating maneuvers. This bonus increases by +2 during any round in which the rubato recovers one or more maneuvers. This ability replaces inspire heroics.
Con Moto (Su): At 18th level, a rubato gains the ability to enhance the maneuvers of his allies with his tempo. An ally must be able to perceive the rubato’s performance to be affected. Whenever an affected ally initiates a maneuver, the rubato can spend 2 tempo as a free action, even if it isn’t his turn. If he does, that ally may move up to 15 feet as part of the maneuver (resolve this movement either immediately before, or immediately after initiating the maneuver) or if the maneuver already involves movement, they may increase the distance moved by 15 feet. This movement provokes attacks of opportunity as normal, unless another ability would prevent such attacks. In addition, the save DC of that ally’s maneuver (if any) increases by 2. This ability replaces mass suggestion.
Fugue (Ex): At 20th level, the rubato learns to maintain two bardic performances at the same time. He can activate two bardic performances with the same action, paying any associated costs for each separately. Performances noted as being able to be used while maintaining other performances (such as fortissimo) do not count against this limit. This ability replaces deadly performance.
This ability alters bardic performance.
Starting at 2nd level, a rubato can make Perform checks in place of checks with his disciplines’ associated skills. He may only substitute Perform checks for skills associated with disciplines he has access to from his rubato levels (including disciplines acquired through traits or martial traditions).
This ability replaces versatile performance.
Path of War – Expanded, © 2016, Dreamscarred Press.