Martial artists are an unusual type of warrior in that they approach warfare as an art and a discipline, not merely a job. Unlike a monk, who seeks enlightenment in life through his harsh training, a martial artist works hard for the sole purpose of being the best. This way of personal excellence stands between the monk’s spirituality and the fighter’s pragmatism, guiding the martial artist to hone his body and his mind,
then sharpen his skills and knowledge and, through such understanding, become the deadliest weapon in the land.

Commander Niriko Zarranz, master of the Swift Sunrise style

Adventures: Martial artists will often go into adventures in order to improve their fighting style and test their mettle against powerful opponents, or to unearth powerful and ancient fighting techniques. However, they have as many reasons to take the life on the road as anyone else, and they can be found guarding a caravan for coin, exploring an evil temple to rid the land of its dark influence or braving entire armies to rescue a loved one. Whatever task a martial artist undertakes, he puts all he has towards its completion.

Characteristics: A martial artist is a melee combatant, but his special training and orientation has led him to acquire unusual abilities and special fighting techniques that border on the supernatural. Martial artists learn to rely on their inner strength, the power they awaken by becoming one with the life energy that surrounds all thing and philosophers and monks call ki. Unlike spellcasters who channel ki into powerful and destructive spells or monks that develop mystical powers, martial artists take the power of ki onto themselves. Relying on agility and resourcefulness, martial artists soon develop their own style of combat depending on their preferences, throwing themselves into it to explore the innermost depths of their personal power.

Alignment: The majority of martial artists profess a lawful alignment due to the discipline involved in developing their ki manipulation abilities, but this is by no means exclusive. Those with less disciplined attitudes may just have natural talent or a special attunement for ki. In any case, most martial artists will hold a centered view on moral and ethical issues.

Religion: Martial artists may have faith in a religion, but they are not the most devout of worshippers, for they focus all of their trust and commitment to their personal betterment. Those who are religious attach themselves to a deity that represent their personal ideals, either a god of war or a goddess of mercy.

Background: One of the key elements of a martial artist is who or where he trained and learned the basics of his fighting style. Like monks, many martial artists learn their abilities at a monastery or a warrior order, but just as many are lucky to find a wandering master who initiates them in the way of their fighting style. Due to their single-minded drive to fulfill their potential, martial artists tend to be loners or outcasts from society, although some gain positions of importance in a government or military, especially if their training
hall was funded by a government and his masters were military officials themselves.

Races: Humans are the most common martial artists, for their race already possesses a drive to diversify and learn all there is to learn, making it easy for them to experiment with their combat techniques and even create their own fighting styles. Half-elves and half-orcs follow, for they find in martial arts a refuge from the prejudice they find amongst their parent races. Elves and gnomes do not seem very interested in martial arts as a whole, preferring to follow their own inclinations, although there is a rumor about an elven martial
art that combines dancing and mastery of the blades. Dwarves follow their own martial code and prefer the practical and reliable training of the fighter, but some experiment in channeling the power of the earth.

Other Classes: Martial artists adapt very well to the outlook of fighters, rogues and rangers, observing them and analyzing their techniques for later application or even countering. They hold a certain rivalry with monks, professing different approaches to martial arts and the use of ki. While they hold not much respect for the combat prowess of spellcasters of all kinds, they respect the dedication they devote to achieving the highest circles of the magical arts. They hold the least respect for barbarians and bards, who seem to cruise through life aimlessly and without purpose.

Game Rule Information (d20 system)

Martial artists have the following game statistics:

Abilities: Dexterity is the most important ability for a martial artist because he cannot wear much armor and he doesn’t have as many hit points as the fighter. Strength comes second as it will increase the damage the character does on each attack with any weapon he chooses to master. Also very important for their fighting style is Wisdom, as many of the abilities the martial artist learns are based on his awareness and attunement with his surroundings. Constitution adds to their survivability, and Intelligence helps them increase their more mundane skills.

Alignment: Any.

Hit Die: d8

Class Skills

The martial artist’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Bluff (Cha), Balance (Dex), Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Escape Artist (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge (arcana) (Int), Listen (Wis), Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Spellcraft (Int), Spot (Wis), Swim (Str), and Tumble (Dex).

Skill Points at First Level: (4 + Int modifier) x 4.

Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 4 + Int modifier.

Table: The Martial Artist Class (d20 system)

Level Base Attack Bonus Fort Ref Wis Special
1 +1 +2 +2 +0 Ki channeling, ki excellence, combat style,
weapon training
2 +2 +3 +3 +0 Bonus feat
3 +3 +3 +3 +1 Uncanny dodge
4 +4 +4 +4 +1 Advanced weapon training
5 +5 +4 +4 +1 Bonus feat
6 +6/+1 +5 +5 +2 Ki mastery, improved combat style
7 +7/+2 +5 +5 +2 Improved uncanny dodge
8 +8/+3 +6 +6 +2 Bonus feat
9 +9/+4 +6 +6 +3 Skill mastery
10 +10/+5 +7 +7 +3 Advanced weapon training, excellent ki channeling
11 +11/+6/+1 +7 +7 +3 Combat style mastery
12 +12/+7/+2 +8 +8 +4 Bonus feat
13 +13/+8/+3 +8 +8 +4
14 +14/+9/+4 +9 +9 +4 Bonus feat
15 +15/+10/+5 +9 +9 +5
16 +16/+11/+6/+1 +10 +10 +5 Bonus feat
17 +17/+12/+7/+2 +10 +10 +5
18 +18/+13/+8/+3 +11 +11 +6 Bonus feat
19 +19/+14/+9/+4 +11 +11 +6
20 +20/+15/+10/+5 +12 +12 +6 Bonus feat

Class Features

All of the following are class features of the martial artist.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Martial artists are proficient with all simple weapons, with all one-handed swords and maces, as well as with martial bows. Martial artists are proficient with light
armor, as well as with shields. Note that armor check penalties for armor heavier than leather apply to the skills Balance, Climb, Escape Artist, Hide, Jump, Move Silently, Pick Pocket, and Tumble. Also, Swim
checks suffer a -1 penalty for every 5 pounds of armor and equipment carried.

Weapon Training: Martial artists train with different weapons depending on their preferences and where they received their training, becoming proficient with additional weapons. The character becomes proficient with four martial weapons in addition to his normal proficiency. As an option, he can replace two martial proficiencies with one exotic weapon proficiency, so he could become proficient with two martial weapons and one exotic, or with two exotic weapons.

Ki Channeling (Ex): A 1st level martial artist gains the Ki Channeling feat for free. This counts towards the number of Ki feats the character knows.

Ki Excellence (Su): The most basic ability of martial artists is their ability to focus ki, the life energy that surrounds everything, taking it into themselves through careful and controlled breathing and storing it for later use. As a master of ki manipulation, the martial artist can use ki abilities once per day per martial artist level, in addition to the number of uses he gains for learning Ki feats (see the Feats chapter), so a 5th-level martial artist who has learned 3 Ki feats has 8 uses of ki per day.

Combat Style (Ex): At 1st level, a martial artist must select a combat style from the following list: archery, double combat, one-hand combat, two-handed combat, unarmed combat or mystical combat. This choice affects the character’s class features but does not restrict his selection of feats or special abilities in any way. The martial artist gains the benefits of a different feat depending on his combat style, even if he does not have the normal prerequisites for that feat:

  • Archery: The martial artist is treated as having the Rapid Shot feat.
  • Double Combat: The martial artist is treated as having the Two-Weapon Fighting feat, this can apply both to fighting with double weapons or with two weapons.
  • One-hand Combat: The martial artist is treated as having the Weapon Finesse feat, but this works with any one-handed weapon the character is proficient with, even if the weapon is not normally finesseable.
  • Two-handed Combat: The martial artist is treated as having the Power Attack feat, but this only works when the character uses both hands to hold the weapon.
  • Unarmed Combat: The martial artist is treated as having the Improved Unarmed Strike feat; in addition, his unarmed damage increases by one die as if the character was one size category larger.
  • Mystic Combat: The martial artist is treated as having the Weapon Focus feat for ranged attack spells or spell-like abilities (those that require the character to make a ranged attack roll).

The benefits of the martial artist’s chosen style apply only when he wears light or no armor. He loses all benefits of his combat style when wearing medium or heavy armor.

Bonus Feat: At 2nd level, a martial artist gets a bonus martial arts-oriented feat. The martial artist gains an additional bonus feat at 5th, 8th, 11th. 14th, 16th, 18th and 20th level. These bonus feats must be drawn from the feats noted as fighter bonus feats or Ki feats. A martial artist must still meet all prerequisites for a bonus feat, including ability score and base attack bonus minimums.

Uncanny Dodge (Ex): At 3rd level, a martial artist retains his Dexterity bonus to AC (if any) even if he is caught flat-footed or struck by an invisible attacker. However, he still loses his Dexterity bonus to AC if immobilized. If a martial artist already has uncanny dodge from a different class, he automatically gains improved uncanny dodge (see below) instead.

Advanced Weapon Training (Ex): At levels 4th and 10th, the martial artist can choose two weapons he is proficient with. He is considered to have the Weapon Technique feat with them. If you are not using the weapon technique rules, the character instead gains a +1 bonus to damage rolls on the weapons chosen.

Ki Mastery (Su): At 6th level, the martial artist deepens his understanding of ki and improves the way he channels it through his actions. The number of ki uses he can spend in a single round increase to 3+Wis. In addition, if he confirms a critical hit with an attack that is using a ki ability, he regains one ki use (even
if the ability required the expenditure of more than one ki use, he only gets back one).

Improved Combat Style (Ex): At 6th level, a martial artist’s aptitude in his chosen combat style improves depending on his original choice; he can only choose the feat from the same combat
style he chose at 1st level. All of the conditions of the original benefits still apply for their improved versions.

  • Archery: The martial artist is treated as having the Manyshot feat.
  • Double Combat: The martial artist is treated as having the Improved Two-Weapon Fighting feat.
  • One-hand Combat: The martial artist is treated as having the Improved Initiative feat, but only when wielding a one-handed weapon.
  • Two-handed Combat: The martial artist is treated as having the Cleave feat, but this only works when the character uses both hands to hold the weapon.
  • Unarmed Combat: The martial artist is treated as having the Incapacitating Ki Strike feat (choose which effect), but only when attempting it with an unarmed attack. This feat can be replaced with the Stunning Fist feat if you’re not using Ki feats in your game.
  • Mystic Combat: The martial artist is treated as having the Ki Metamagic feat, this only works with ranged attack spells or spell-like abilities.

As before, the benefits of the martial artist’s chosen style apply only when he wears light or no armor. He loses all benefits of his combat style when wearing medium or heavy armor.

Improved Uncanny Dodge (Ex): At 5th 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 a second class, the character automatically gains improved uncanny dodge instead, and the levels from the classes that grant uncanny dodge stack to determine the minimum level a rogue must be to flank the character.

Skill Mastery (Ex): The martial artist reaches a level of excellence in his everyday tasks as well as his combat abilities. Upon gaining this ability, he selects a number of skills equal to 3 + his Wisdom 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. He can spend 1 ki use to gain a +5 bonus on these results as per the Ki excellence ability.

Excellent Ki Channeling (Ex): At 10th level, a martial artist gains the Excellent Ki Channeling feat for free, even if he does not fulfill its prerequisites. This counts towards the number of Ki feats the character knows.

Combat Style Mastery (Ex): At 11th level, a martial artist’s aptitude in his chosen combat style improves again. He can only choose the feat from the same combat style he chose at 1st and 6th level. All of the conditions of the original benefits still apply for their improved versions.

  • Archery: The martial artist is treated as having the Improved Precise Shot feat.
  • Double Combat: The martial artist is treated as having the Greater Two-Weapon Fighting feat.
  • One-hand Combat: The martial artist is treated as having the Quick Draw feat, but only when sheathing and unsheathing a one-handed weapon.
  • Two-handed Combat: The martial artist is treated as having the Great Cleave feat, but this only works when the character uses both hands to hold the weapon.
  • Unarmed Combat: The martial artist’s unarmed damage increases one more die category.
  • Mystic Combat: The martial artist is treated as having the Empower Spell feat, this only works with ranged attack spells, but also works on ranged attack spell-like abilities.

As before, the benefits of the martial artist’s chosen style apply only when he wears light or no armor. He loses all benefits of his combat style when wearing medium or heavy armor.

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