The Dragonlance Nexus

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D&D 3e (3.0/3.5) Rules

by Milo & Ogre Bane

Somewhere between the fancy swordplay of the duelist and the protective, if not sloth-like actions of the prototypical fighter, there is space for a few brave men... the instigators. Once believed simply insane, they have come to represent the pure bloodlust for a good fight - right now. Their thoughts on combat are simple:

  • Strike first,
  • Strike often,
  • Finish the fight

Known for their ability to react first, move in, and draw first blood, the instigator relies on his skill with a blade to offset his lack of armor. Some have been known to stand toe-to-toe with their enemies, while others keep moving with devastating slashing attacks. Either way, they are as fierce and determined to drop their foe as any warrior on the field of battle. They always use their weapons with both hands. This allows them more force, damage, and a unique style of shielding themselves from their foes, as well as using the large weapons to trip opponents. After all, it is much easier to hit a downed opponent than one standing in front of you. They will never wear any armor heavier than that classified as light, and cannot use a shield or buckler.

Don't confuse their "strike first" mentality with stupidity. At times, and in the face of a huge disadvantage, an instigator will have to retreat, but will only do so once all others are on their way to safety. Their immediate action in the face of an overwhelming enemy has many times resulted in the safe escape of the instigator's allies. Sadly, the instigator himself does not escape as often.

Instigators are most often fighters, but some stout rangers and atypical paladins have been known to subscribe to their school of thought on fighting. Most are human, but some dwarves and half-ogres have been counted among the instigator's ranks.

Instigators work well with all fighter-types; however, some casters consider them a distinct liability. You see, the instigator is normally in the area of effect before the caster's spell is finished. Thieves can be frustrated by the lack of planning, but normally keep their complaints to a low rumble.
Hit Die: d8.


To qualify to become an instigator, a character must fulfill all the following criteria.

Alignment: Any chaotic.
Base Attack Bonus: +5.
Skills: Jump 5 ranks, Spot 5 ranks, Tumble 5 ranks.
Feats: Dodge, Improved Initiative, Mobility, Weapon Focus (any two-handed melee weapon), and Weapon Specialization (any two-handed melee weapon).

Class Skills:

The instigator's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Balance (Dex), Climb (Str), Jump (Str), Listen (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Spot (Wis), and Tumble (Dex). See Chapter 4: Skills in the Player's Handbook for skill descriptions.

Skill Points at Each Level: 2 + Int modifier.

Class Features

All of the following are class features of the instigator prestige class.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Instigators are proficient with all simple and martial weapons, and with light armor. Instigators lose any proficiency with medium armor, heavy armor, and shields (see below).

Improved Mobility: Using his greater ability to wield a two-handed weapon more defensively, the instigator gains a +4 dodge bonus to his Armor Class whenever he would incur an attack of opportunity from moving in combat. This ability stacks with the Mobility feat. If the instigator is denied his Dexterity bonus to AC (such as being caught flat-footed), this dodge bonus does not apply. He must be wielding a two-handed melee weapon to gain this ability.

Two-Handed Weapon Familiarity: Due to a greater focus using two-handed melee weapons, the instigator gains a greater ability to wield these types of weapons in combat. Starting at 1st level, the instigator receives a bonus (as shown in Table 1-1) to attack rolls and damage rolls when wielding a two-handed melee weapon. This bonus starts at +1, and rises to +2 at 5th level and +3 at 9th level. This ability stacks with Weapon Focus and Weapon Specialization, as well as the improved versions of those feats.

However, due to the instigator's extensive focus on two-handed weapons, the Instigator receives a penalty to wield one-handed weapons. This penalty is also shown in Table 1-1. It starts as a -2 to all attack rolls at 1st level, -4 at 5th level, and finally -6 at 9th level. This penalty applies when wielding any one-handed melee weapon (such as a short sword or hand axe). However, if the weapon is large enough to use in two hands (such as a bastard sword or battle axe), and the instigator wields the weapon with two hands, this penalty does not apply.

No Cumbersome Armor and Shields: Instigators shun shields and armor that weigh them down during combat. Beginning at 1st level, the instigator loses all shield proficiencies (normal and tower) as well as any medium or heavy armor proficiencies. Even if these feats were gained from multiple classes, he is no longer proficient with shields, medium armor, nor heavy armor. He may not take these feats later on, as they are forbidden to the instigator code.

Two-Handed Defense: The instigator has started to become a master of his two-handed weapon and can use it more defensively to block attacks from enemies. Beginning at 2nd level, the instigator gains a dodge bonus to Armor Class when he wields a two-handed weapon. This bonus is +1 at 2nd level, and increases at every other level (+2 at 4th, +3 at 6th, +4 at 8th, and +5 at 10th). If the instigator is denied his Dexterity bonus to AC (such as being caught flat-footed), this bonus to AC does not apply.

First Strike: One of the main tactics of instigators is to attack first and attack hard. Using this "strategy", the instigator can cause additional wounds to enemies if he is allowed to attack first. Beginning at 3rd level, when the instigator attacks someone during a surprise round or during the first round of combat, he may attack an area that will cause extra damage to an enemy. This attack, if during the first round of combat and not during the surprise round, must be before the target acts in the round. This abiliity inflicts +1d6 points of damage at 3rd level, +2d6 damage at 6th level, and +3d6 damage at 9th level. Creatures normally immune to critical hits are immune to this attack.

Improved Trip: The instigator uses trip attacks with his two-handed melee weapon to his advantage. He gains the Improved Trip feat for free at 4th level, even if he does not meet the prerequisites. He may also use his two-handed melee weapon to make the trip attack, adding all relevant bonuses (such as Weapon Focus and weapon enchantments).

Initial Charge: Using the "act first" strategy during combat, the instigator can act more quickly than his opponents. Beginning at 5th level, the instigator gains a +2 bonus to initiative checks. This bonus increases to +4 at 10th level, and stacks with the Improved Initiative feat.

Greater Improved Trip: Focusing on his ability to attack after tripping opponents, the instigator grows even more proficient using this attack method. Beginning at 7th level, the instigator gains a +2 bonus to trip attacks, both on the attack roll and the opposed roll. He must be using a two-handed melee weapon to gain this ability.

Superior Trip: The instigator has become a master of making trip attacks quickly and effectively. At 10th level, each time he makes a successful trip attack against an opponent, he may make two attacks on the downed opponent instead of just one. However, giving up speed for accuracy, both attacks are made with a -5 penalty to the attack roll. He must be wielding a two-handed melee weapon to gain this ability.

Instigator Code: The instigator loses the following abilities if he uses a weapon that is not two-handed: Improved Mobility, Two-Handed Weapon Familiarity, Two-Handed Defense, Improved Trip (bonus feat), Greater Improved Trip, Superior Trip.

The instigator's ability with two-handed weapons does not apply to ranged weapons. Instigators prefer to rush into melee combat, and shun ranged weapons unless they absolutely have to use them (against a flying opponent, for example). The instigator does not suffer a penalty when using two-handed ranged weapons, but would suffer the "familiarity" penalty with one-handed ranged weapons such as hand crossbows or slings.

The Instigator
Level Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Special
1 +1 +2 +2 +0 Improved mobility, two-handed weapon familiarity +1/-2, no cumbersome armor and shields
2 +2 +3 +3 +0 Two-handed defense +1
3 +3 +3 +3 +1 First strike +1d6
4 +4 +4 +4 +1 Two-handed defense +2, Improved Trip
5 +5 +4 +4 +1 Initial charge +2, two-handed weapon familiarity +2/-4
6 +6 +5 +5 +2 Two-handed defense +3, first strike +2d6
7 +7 +5 +5 +2 Greater Improved Trip
8 +8 +6 +6 +2 Two-handed defense +4
9 +9 +6 +6 +3 First strike +3d6, two-handed weapon familiarity +3/-6
10 +10 +7 +7 +3 Two-handed defense +5, initial charge +4, superior trip

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