General Prestige Class : Duelist

In a world with heavily armored knights on huge, galloping chargers and powerful mages wielding mind-churning spells, there's no place for the daring swashbuckler who relies on his wits and reflexes to survive, right? Wrong. The duelist proves that precision and skill are viable alternatives to massive weapons and agility is a viable alternative to heavy armor.

The duelist is a nimble, intelligent fighter trained in making precise attacks with light weapons, such as the rapier. Also known as the swashbuckler, the duelist always takes full advantage of his quick reflexes and wits in a fight. Rather than wearing bulky armor, duelists feel the best way to protect themselves is to not get hit at all.

Duelists are most often fighters or rangers, but almost as often are rogues or bards. Wizards, sorcerers and monks make surprisingly good duelists due to the lack of the class's reliance on armor. They benefit greatly from the weapon skill the duelist offers. Paladins and barbarians who deviate a good deal from their archetypes become duelists. Elves are more likely to become duelists than dwarves, and halfling and gnome duelists are not uncommon. Half-orc duelists are very rare.

NPC duelists are usually loners looking for adventure or a get-rich-quick scheme. Occasionally they work in very small, tight-knit groups, fighting with team-based tactics.


To qualify to become a Duelist, a character must fulfill all the following criteria:

Class Skills

The duelist's class skills are Balance, Bluff, Escape Artist, Jump, Listen, Perform, Sense Motive, Spot, and Tumble.

Skill Points at Each Level: 4 + Int modifier.

Class Features

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: The duelist is proficient with all simple and martial weapons, but no type of armor. The only shield they are proficient with is the buckler.

Canny Defense: When not wearing armor, duelists add their Intelligence bonus (if any) to their Dexterity bonus to modify Armor Class while wielding a melee weapon. If the duelist is caught flat-footed or otherwise denied his Dexterity bonus, he also loses this bonus.

Precise Strike: At 2nd level, the duelist gains the extraordinary ability to strike precisely with a one-handed piercing weapon, gaining a bonus 1d6 damage added to her normal damage roll. When making a precise strike, the duelist cannot attack with a weapon in her other hand, although she can defend with it (or, if she has the proficiency, a buckler). A duelist's precise strike only works against living creatures with discernible anatomies. Any creature that is immune to critical hits (including undead, constructs, oozes, plants, and incorporeal creatures) is not vulnerable to a precise strike, and any item or ability that protects a creature from critical hits (such as armor with fortification) also protects a creature from a precise strike. Every four duelist levels gained thereafter, she increases the extra damage by +1d6.

Enhanced Mobility: When unarmored, the duelist gains an additional +4 bonus to AC against attacks of opportunity caused when he moves out of or within a threatened area.

Grace: At 4th level, the duelist gains an additional +2 competence bonus to all Reflex saving throws. This ability functions for the duelist only when wearing no armor.

Acrobatic Attack: At 5th level, if the duelist attacks by jumping at least 5 feet toward his opponent, jumping down at least 5 feet onto his opponent or swinging on a rope or similar object into his opponent, he gains a +2 to attack and damage rolls. Make a Jump check; if the result is less than 5 feet, you cannot use this ability on this attack. If the distance is greater than that between the duelist and the opponent, the duelist can limit the distance to that of the opponent as a free action. This is an extraordinary ability.

Elaborate Parry: At 7th level, if the duelist chooses to fight defensively or use all-out defense in melee combat, she gains an additional +1 dodge bonus to her AC for each class level of duelist she has advanced. This is an extraordinary ability.

Improved Reaction: At 8th level, the duelist gains a +2 to initiative rolls. This ability stacks with Improved Initiative.

Deflect Arrows: The duelist gains the Deflect Arrows feat only when he uses his one-handed piercing weapon.

DuelistHit Die: d10
1st+1+0+2+0Canny defense
2nd+2+0+3+0Precise strike +1d6
3rd+3+1+3+1Enhanced mobility
5th+5+1+4+1Acrobatic attack
6th+6+2+5+2Precise strike +2d6
7th+7+2+5+2Elaborate parry
8th+8+2+6+2Improved reflexes
9th+9+3+6+3Deflect Arrows
10th+10+3+7+3Precise strike +3d6

Source: Dungeon Master's Guide v.3.5
Sword and Fist

General Prestige Classes