Excerpt from
Sword and Fist
Drunken Master
by David Noonan

Martial arts students face a bewildering array of martial arts schools, each with its own adherents and detractors. But few schools are as unusual -- or as controversial -- as Drunken Boxing. By weaving and staggering about as if inebriated, drunken boxers avoid many blows. Likewise, their stumbling, lurching attacks catch their opponents off guard. Moreover, when they actually imbibe alcohol, drunken masters can perform truly prodigious feats of strength and bravery.

None of this garners them much respect among other martial arts schools, because drunken boxing exacts a toll on its users. Drunken masters remain intoxicated for hours after a fight, and they are often found half-asleep in taverns, mumbling incoherently. This flies in the face of other schools' ascetic principles. But rival schools must be wary -- they never know when the tipsy lout at the bar is just a harmless thug, and when it is a nigh-unstoppable drunken master.

Monks form the backbone of the drunken boxing school. They lose some face with their original school or monastery for becoming a drunken master, but a brilliant display of drunken fighting can sometimes silence critics in one's former school. Members of other character classes are chosen as drunken boxers only rarely, although students often tell the tale of a barbarian from the north who became a phenomenal drunken master.

Prospective students are studied at a distance by drunken masters, then treated to a display of drunken boxing's power. If the student expresses enthusiasm for learning the new techniques, a group of drunken masters take him or her from tavern to tavern, getting rip-roaring drunk, causing trouble, and passing along the first secrets of the technique. Those who survive the revelry are new drunken masters.

NPC drunken masters are often found in taverns and bars. They rarely pick fights there, but are quick to come to the aid of someone overmatched in a tavern brawl. Most keep a low profile, although some are famous -- or infamous -- for the deeds they have performed while under the influence.

Hit Die: d8

Requirements

To qualify to become a drunken master, a character must fulfill all the following criteria.

  • Base Attack Bonus: +4.
  • Base Unarmed Attack Bonus: +4.
  • Feats: Great Fortitude, Dodge.
  • Tumble: 6 ranks.
  • Other: Evasion ability, must be chosen by existing drunken masters and survive night of revelry among them without being incarcerated, poisoned, or extraordinarily embarrassed.

Class Skills

The drunken master's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Balance (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Escape Artist (Dex), Hide (Dex), Jump (Str), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Swim (Str), and Tumble (Dex). See Chapter 4: Skills in the Player's Handbook for skill descriptions.

Skill Points at Each Level: 4 + Int modifier.

Table 2–3: The Drunken Master

Class
Level

Base
Attack
Bonus

Fort
Save


Ref
Save

Will
Save

Special

Special

1st

1

2

2

0

Speed 50 ft., drink like a demon, bottle proficiency, unarmed damage 1d8

Harm's way
Defensive strike

2nd

2

3

3

0

Stagger

Deflect attack +1

3rd

3

3

3

1

Speed 60 ft., swaying waist

Defensive strike +1

4th

4

4

4

1

AC bonus +1, improvised weapons

Deflect attack +2

5th

5

4

4

1

Drunken rage, unarmed damage 1d10

Defensive strike +2

6th

6

5

5

2

Speed 70 ft., lurch

Deflect attack +3

7th

7

5

5

2

Drunken embrace

Defensive strike +3

8th

8

6

6

2

For medicinal purposes

Deflect attack +4

9th

9

6

6

3

AC bonus +2, speed 80 ft., corkscrew rush, unarmed damage 1d12

Defensive strike +4

10th

10

7

7

3

Breath of flame

Base Attack Bonus: Note that, like a monk, a drunken master makes unarmed iterative attacks at a –3 penalty, not the usual –5 penalty.

Class Features

Drink Like a Demon: Your body handles alcohol differently from other people's. You can drink a large tankard of ale, a bottle of wine, or a corresponding amount of stronger alcohol as a move-equivalent action. Every bottle or tankard of alcohol you consume during combat reduces your Dexterity, Wisdom, and Intelligence by 1 point each, but increases your Strength or Constitution (your choice) by 1 point. However, your Reflex save bonus, Dexterity bonus to Tumble, and AC bonus remain at their original levels regardless of your new Dexterity modifier. Your body metabolizes one drink per hour, reducing both the penalties and the bonus accordingly. You only gain the Strength and Constitution bonuses for alcohol drunk during a fight, and the bonuses only last until the end of the combat. (The penalties disappear more gradually.) What quantity of alcohol constitutes a "drink" is deliberately left undefined.

Bottle Proficiency: You can use bottles and large tankards as weapons using your unarmed base attack bonus, including your more favorable number of attacks per round. Bottles do 1d6 points of bludgeoning damage with their first blow, then 1d4 points of slashing damage thereafter. Tankards do 1d6 points of bludgeoning damage. Furthermore, you can make these attacks without spilling most of the liquid inside.

Stagger: By tripping, stumbling, and staggering, you can make a charge attack that surprises your opponents. This has two beneficial aspects: First, your charges need not be in straight lines, and you still move up to twice your speed. Second, make a Tumble check (DC 15) when you begin your charge. If you succeed, your movement through threatened squares provokes no attacks of opportunity.

Swaying Waist: You weave and bob about as you attack. You gain a +2 dodge bonus to AC against any one opponent you choose during your turn. This supersedes the Dodge feat, but functions like it in all other ways.

Improvised Weapons: You can use furniture, farm implements, or nearly anything else at hand to attack your foes. Anything from a ladder to a haunch of meat to a barstool is a weapon once you imbue it with your ki using this ability. Regardless of the exact item, the weapon does 1d6 points of damage at your more advantageous number of attacks per round. Most items do bludgeoning damage, although shish-kabob skewers, for example, would do piercing damage. Long items (such as ladders) have reach according to their length, and items with many protrusions (such as chairs) give you a +2 bonus on Disarm attempts. Finally, large items with broad, flat surfaces (such as tables) can be upended to become improvised tower shields.

Drunken Rage: You can rage just as a barbarian does, with a duration equal to your (new) Constitution modifier plus the number of drinks you have consumed. You gain +4 to Strength, +4 to Constitution, a +2 morale bonus on Will saves, and a –2 penalty to AC. This ability supersedes the Strength and Constitution bonuses from drink like a demon.

Lurch: Your lurching movements let you make one feinting in combat Bluff check (opposed by Sense Motive) per round as a move-equivalent action. You gain a +4 competence bonus to Bluff checks made for this purpose.

Drunken Embrace: You can grapple an opponent without provoking an attack of opportunity, and you gain a +4 competence bonus on all opposed grapple checks.

For Medicinal Purposes: By combining your ki power with alcohol, you can convert an alcoholic drink to a potion of cure moderate wounds up to three times per day. The alcohol activates the ki in your body, so the cure only works on you. Alcohol drunk in this way neither impairs nor improves your ability scores.

Corkscrew Rush: You leap forward, twisting your body in midair as you head-butt an opponent. This is a charge attack that, in addition to dealing normal damage, automatically initiates a bull rush attack (without provoking an attack of opportunity). Furthermore, you are considered to have the Power Attack feat for the purposes of a corkscrew rush, and if you hit your opponent, you stun your foe unless she makes a Will save (DC 17 + the drunken master's Wisdom modifier). However, if your attack misses, you land prone in front of your opponent.

Breath of Flame: You can use your ki to ignite the alcohol within you and spew it forth from your mouth in a breath of flame. Breath of flame deals 3d12 points of fire damage to all within the 20-foot cone (Reflex save DC 18 for half). Each time you use breath of flame, it consumes one drink's worth of alcohol within you, reducing both penalties and bonuses to your ability scores.

For background on other new Sword and Fist prestige classes, such as the master of chains and the ninja of the crescent moon, check out this month's Personality Spotlight interview with the design team!


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