Fight! Fight!
A Sword and Fist Web Enhancement
By Angel Leigh McCoy

Murderous Weapon Master (EL Variable)

A cloaked figure steps into the path ahead and assumes a challenging stance with his guisarme at attention. Face and body hidden within folds of midnight cloth, the menace presents a mysterious bearing likely to put anyone immediately on edge.

You don't see him move, but suddenly, the cloak falls away, rippling downward to pool at his feet. He wears black, studded leather, second-skin breeches, and a thick vest over a loosely woven cassock that flows close to his skin --- all sleekly designed for silence and grace. He has trim muscles like those of a cat. White-blond hair caps his head, cut short in angry spikes. His winter gaze pins you in place with a confident directness that tells you he means business.

The challenger points at you with one gloved hand. You notice a subtle flick of his wrist and the barest flash of movement at the corner of your eye. An obsidian-handled dagger thunks near you. It seems you've been challenged.

As the DM, you may pause between reading each of the above paragraphs to allow PCs a chance to converse with their challenger.

The weapon master could have any reason for challenging the party, and the PCs may manage to avoid the conflict altogether through careful conversation. Define the scene according to the weapon master's alignment. You could make this a scene of intensive roleplaying, weave it into a mystery your players are trying to solve, or turn it into a one-on-one combat challenge for a single PC. For a richer story, give the weapon master a distinct motive for his attack. He is, after all, risking his life. See Encounter Ideas, below, for some suggestions on how to build a story around the weapon master. This weapon master has a minimum Challenge Rating of 7.

Tactics

The weapon master designed for this particular encounter began his training as a fighter. He relies strongly on both his agility and his strength, however, to overcome his opponents. Fancy moves, diversions and feints all play an important role in this weapon master's tactics. Standard fighters tend to step into battle and hack away on one opponent until it's dead. This weapon master prefers to move around more, spread his attacks among various opponents (if he has more than one), and make his enemy follow his movements. Because his Armor Class never gets very high, he tries to avoid being in his opponent's range. The Mobility feat gives him added protection against attacks of opportunity, while the Spring Attack feat, combined with his reach weapon, allows him to step forward, attack, then retreat again. Due to the nature of his weapon, and his strategy, he makes every effort to keep the combat in an open area. He prefers to choose the time and place of his combat and has no qualms about fleeing so he can live to fight another day.

Treasure

Determine the weapon master's treasure according to your campaign's needs. He has the items listed below in his statistics, but otherwise, he could have anything on him that wouldn't encumber him.

Encounter Ideas

Good-aligned characters can take antagonistic roles just as effectively as evil-aligned NPCs, sometimes more effectively because fighting them can present a moral dilemma to your PCs. It all depends on the tale you're telling with your players.

Why a Good Weapon Master Might Attack the PCs

  • The PCs purposefully or inadvertently did something that offended the weapon master, such as tarnishing the honor of his sister or speaking out against his lord.
  • Someone has spread a false rumor that the PCs committed an offensive act.
  • The PCs are hired to protect a noblewoman traveling to speak with her brother, a friend of the weapon master. The brother has inherited some land. Unfortunately, the family's enemies have determined a way to eliminate both siblings: The apricot brandy she brings to celebrate with her brother is poisoned. The weapon master believes the PCs are responsible for their deaths/near-deaths.
  • The PCs need another fighter (NPC) in the group for a particular mission. Before the weapon master will agree to adventure with them, they must prove they're skilled by fighting him to his satisfaction.
  • The PCs come upon a fight in progress and kill this weapon master's opponent. Now he must teach them a lesson for humiliating him. He may or may not feel the need to kill them.
  • A parent or sibling of one PC once killed or condemned a family member of the weapon master. The weapon master wants to clear the family name by killing the offender's relative, the PC.

Top Ten Reasons an Evil Weapon Master Would Attack the PCs

10. Wrong place, wrong time.

9. Territorial issues.

8. The PCs killed, injured, maimed, humiliated, insulted, splashed, bumped, touched, talked about, looked at, or ignored one of the weapon master's allies or relatives.

7. The PCs killed, injured, maimed, humiliated, insulted, splashed, bumped, touched, talked about, looked at, or ignored the weapon master.

6. The weapon master doesn't like ?the looks of 'em.?

5. The weapon master hasn't had his coffee.

4. The PCs breathe too loudly.

3. They're the PCs.

2. You've got a whole hour until Buffy comes on.

1. The DM said so.

Sample NPCs

Feel free to alter these statistics to suit your own campaign. The first block shows complete statistics for a human 6th-level fighter/1st-level weapon master. You can make a 5th-level fighter/1st-level weapon master, but then the character loses the extra attack and that important extra feat that comes at 6th level. The other blocks show additions to the statistics that result from the evolution of the NPC.

Weapon Master, Ftr6/Weapon master 1: CR 7; Medium-size human; hp 57; Init +6 (Improved Initiative); Spd 30 ft.; AC 15 (+1 shadow studded leather); Atk +10/+5 melee (2d4+2/x3 crit, guisarme), +7/+2 ranged (1d4+2/19-20/x2 crit, throwing dagger); SV Fort +7, Ref +6, Will +3; Str 14, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 13, Wis 12, Cha 7.

Skills and Feats: Climb (+5), Craft (weaponsmith) (+3), Hide (+11 when in shadow armor), Jump (+5), Knowledge (weaponry) (+4), Listen (+4), Sense Motive (+4), Spot (+4), Swim (+3); Dodge, Improved Initiative, Mobility, Combat Reflexes, Expertise, Weapon Focus (guisarme), Spring Attack, Whirlwind Attack.

Alignment: Any.

Special Attacks:Ki Damage (1/day/level).

Possessions:+1 guisarme, 10 masterwork throwing daggers, +1 shadow studded leather, potion of cure moderate wounds, potion of endurance, 2 tanglefoot bags.

Weapon Master, Ftr6/Weapon master 2 (changes and additions to above): CR 8; hp 64; Init +7; AC 16; Atk +12/+7 melee (2d4+3/x3 crit, guisarme), +9/+4 ranged; SV Ref +8; Dex 14.

Skills and Feats: Listen (+5), Sense Motive (+5), Spot (+5)

Special Attacks: Increased Multiplier (1/day) (guisarme)

Possessions: One additional potion of cure moderate wounds (total 2), +2 guisarme, one additional tanglefoot bag (total 3), 3 +1 throwing daggers.

Weapon Master, Ftr6/Weapon master 3 (changes and additions to above): CR 9; hp 72; AC 17; Atk +14/+9 melee, +10/+5 ranged; SV Fort +8, Ref +10, Will +4.

Skills and Feats: Intimidate (+1); Lightning Reflexes.

Special Attacks: Superior Weapon Focus (guisarme).

Possessions: One additional potion of cure moderate wounds (total 3), one additional tanglefoot bag (total 4), boots of striding and springing, ring of protection +1.

Weapon Master, Ftr6/Weapon master 4 (changes and additions to above): CR 10; hp 79; AC 18 (when wearing gloves of dexterity); Atk +15/+10 melee, +11/+6 ranged; SV Ref +12 (with gloves of dexterity), Dex 16 (with gloves of dexterity).

Skills and Feats: Intimidate (+4).

Special Attacks: Increased Multiplier (now 2/day) (guisarme).

Possessions: One additional tanglefoot bag (total 5), gloves of dexterity (+2), 2 potions of invisibility, ring of feather falling.

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