The swashbuckler embodies daring, wits, and panache. Favoring agility and intelligence over brute force, the swashbuckler excels in both combat and social situations, making her a versatile character. Swashbucklers devote equal time between combat skills and social interactions, giving them a unique position within any group of adventurers. Part fighter, part rogue, and part bard; the swashbuckler can be a formidable character.
Swashbucklers adventure for a variety of motivations, based on their alignment and background. Some seek to right injustices, while others seek only fame and fortune. All swashbucklers, however, share a tendency to leap into action when the call comes, regardless of their personal views.
The Swashbuckler combines skill and finesse with sheer combat prowess. Though Swashbucklers can’t dish out quite as much damage as a typical fighter or barbarian, they tend to be more agile and mobile than most melee combatants. When she can pick her battles carefully, a Swashbuckler becomes a very deadly opponent (not to mention hard to pin down). Swashbucklers also tend hold their own in social situations, unlike most fighters.
The Swashbuckler is an able melee combatant, particularly when paired with a fighter or barbarian. She can also make a fine party leader or spokesperson, thanks to her access to Charisma-based skills.
You can make a swashbuckler quickly by following these suggestions. First, Dexterity should be your highest ability score. Intelligence should be you next highest score if you wish to excel in combat. Choose Charisma instead if you plan on excelling at social situations and interactions.
Second, choose the Entertainer background.
HIT DICE: 1d8 per Swashbuckler level
HIT POINTS AT 1ST LEVEL: 8 + your Constitution modifier
HIT POINTS AT HIGHER LEVELS: 1D8 (or 5) + your Constitution modifier per Swashbuckler level after 1st.
ARMOR: Light Armor
WEAPONS: Simple weapons, all weapons with the “light” or “finesse” property.
TOOLS: Pick any 1 gaming set or any 1 musical instrument.
SAVING THROWS: Intelligence, Charisma
SKILLS: Choose 3 from Acrobatics, Deception, History, Insight, Intimidation, Investigation, Perception, Performance, or Persuasion.
CHOOSE: (A) Leather Armor, Rapier, or Shortsword
(B) Dagger, or 10 Darts
© Diplomat’s Pack, Entertainer’s Pack, or Explorer’s Pack
(D) Any 1 Gaming Set, or any 1 Musical Instrument
Expertise: Similar to a Bard or Rogue, beginning at 1st level, you may add double your proficiency bonus to any 2 of your skills with which you have proficiency. However, you must choose among skills which are Charisma-based.
At 7th level, you can choose 2 more of your proficiencies (in skills, gaming sets, or musical instruments) to gain this benefit. Additionally, these 2 choices do not necessarily have to be Charisma-based.
Action Surge: Starting at second level, you can push yourself your normal limits for a moment. On your turn, you can take one additional action on top of your regular action and a possible bonus action.
Martial Archetype: At 3rd level, you choose an archetype that you will strive to emulate in your combat style and techniques. Choose either Offensive Swashbuckler or Defensive Swashbuckler; all detailed later in the class description. The archetype you grants you features at various levels. At 20th level, you will have achieved the ability to gain both archtypes, with access to both archetype’s features.
Ability Score Improvement: When you reach 4th level, and again at 8th, 10th, 12th, 16th and 19th, level; you can increase one ability score by 2, or you can increase 2 different abilities (of our choise) by 1 each. As normal, you can’t increase an ability score above 20 using this feature.
Extra Attack: Beginning at 6th level, you can attack twice, instead of once, whenever you take the attack action on your turn. The number of attacks increases to 3 when you reach 13th level, and to 4 when you reach 20th level.
Acrobatic Charge: As Swashbucklers tend to rush into combat, difficult terrain could slow them down. At 9th level, upon a successful Dexterity save, a Swashbuckler may move through difficult terrain with no penalty to movement. This allows the Swashbuckler to run down steep stairs, leap down from a balcony, swing on a chandalier or to tumble over tables to get to her target.
Acrobatic Skill Mastery: At 15th level, a Swashbuckler becomes so certain in the use of her Acrobatics skill that she can use them reliably even under adverse conditions. When making an Acrobatics check, a Swashbuckler may treat any roll of 9 or less as a 10, even if stress and distractions would normally prevent her from doing so.
Dueling: A hallmark of the offensive-minded Swashbuckler, at 3rd level, when you are wielding a weapon (with the light or finesse property) in one hand no other weapons, you gain a +2 bonus to damage rolls with that weapon.
Improved Critical: Swashbucklers tend to try to end their opponents quickly, so at 5th level, when you are wielding a weapon (with the light or finesse property) in one hand no other weapons, your weapon attacks score a critical hit on a roll of 19 or 20.
Insightful Strike: Swashbucklers are usually brighter than your average warrior, so at 7th level, when you are wielding a weapon (with the light or finesse property) in one hand no other weapons, you may add your Intelligence modifier (minimum of +1) to attack and damage rolls. You may use this ability a number of times equal to your Intelligence modifier (minimum of once) before needing to complete a long rest.
Superior Critical: Keeping with the idea of ending their opponents quickly, Swashbucklers become even deadlier, so at 13th level, your weapon attacks now score a critical on a roll of 18 – 20.
Wounding Critical: Becoming the epitome of ending battles quickly, at 17th level a critical hit from a Swashbuckler, in addition to doing extra damage, now also does 2 points of Strength and 2 points of Constitution damage. Multiple critcal hits do extra Wounding Critical hit damage, meaning that penalties do stack. Additionally, the critical hit also confers the “Restrained” condition, which lasts until the end of the Swashbuckler’s next turn (no save required to end the condition, and the opponent isn’t actually restrained, but has the disadvantages of said condition).
Defense: As a defensive-minded Swashbuckler, your aim is to not get hit while in combat. So, at 3rd level, while you are wearing light or no armor, you gain a +2 bonus to your AC.
Quickness: Swashbucklers who try not to get hit, usually are also fleet of foot. At 5th level, while you are wearing light or no armor, your movement speed increases by 5 feet. This bonus increases to 10 feet at 10th level, to 15 feet at 15th level, and to 20 feet at 20th level. This extra speed allows the Swashbuckler to stay one step ahead of their opponents.
Insightful Defense: Defensive-minded Swashbucklers are ones who think about the consequences of battle. As such, they are always aware of what will hurt if they were to get hit. So, at 7th level, they may add their Intelligence modifier (minimum of +1) as a bonus to their Armor Class, for a period of turns equal to their Intellingence modifier (minimum of 1 turn). (Example: with an Intelligence modifier of +3, she could improver her Armor Class by 3 for a period of 3 turns.) This bonus to Armor Class begins when the Swashbuckler announces she is using this ability, and ends on the beginning of her next turn. The turns need not be consecutive. You regain this ability after a long rest.
Preternatural Defense: At this level, Swashbucklers are so aware of what is around them, that their sense can detect incoming ranged attacks. At 17th level, a Swashbuckler may deflect missiles when targeted by a ranged attack. Whenever a Swashbuckler is hit with a ranged attack, make Dexterity check (DC is the enemies’ attack roll); if successful, reduce the damage by 2d10 + you Intelligence modifier. This feature also allows the Swashbuckler to deflect spells. Any spell that is not an auto-hit (Ex: Magic Missile) nor an area-effect (Ex: Fireball) may be deflected. Keep in mind that this does not protect the weapon used to deflect said incoming spells.
So, a recap of class features looks like this:
2) Action Surge
3) Martial Archetype Feature
4) Ability Score Improvement
5) Martial Archetype Feature
6) Extra Attack
7) Martial Archetype Feature
8) Ability Score Improvement
9) Acrobatic Charge
10) Ability Score Improvement
12) Ability Score Improvement
13) Extra Attack (2), Martial Archetype Feature
15) Acrobatic Skill Mastery
16) Ability Score Improvement
17) Martial Archetype Feature
19) Ability Score Improvement
20) Extra Attack (3), Martial Archetype Feature