“Everything can be controlled. Even a person’s own spirit.”
Ceremony and ritual provide order in a chaotic world. They make sense of randomness and haphazard circumstance. They provide choice and power where otherwise powerlessness would reign. Ceremony and ritual tame the world. Using focused rites to accompany their combat training, ritual warriors function as deadly warriors capable of performing near-supernatural actions. They use concentration and inner strength to manifest physical results.
To a ritual warrior, every sword stroke is an act of reverence, every parry or flourish a carefully planned sacrament. Combat is ritual—it is sacred. Combat is not something for the untrained or unpracticed. They do not understand the art of it. While fighting, ritual warriors attain an altered state of consciousness. Their precise moves are as practiced as the motions of a celebrant conducting a hallowed ceremony.
Some ritual warriors wear heavy armor and carry large weapons, making them appear to be warmains—until they get into battle. Others favor the maneuverability of light armors and quick weapons. The ritual warrior’s combat rites complement either style, or anything in between.
Ritual warriors appreciate quiet contemplation and concentration as they practice their combat styles (which resemble careful, ritualistic arts) and their ceremonies (which resemble martial exercises). They spend much of their day in meditation and even more time practicing each combat move and countermove with the reverence it deserves.
Adventurers: Ritual warriors strive toward physical and spiritual perfection. The challenges faced while exploring dangerous wilderlands or monster-filled ruins put their training to the test and allow them to hone their skills continually.
Background: Ritual warriors undergo vigorous training, both in body and in spirit. It is a difficult path, with many tests and trials. Though they come from any walk of life, they tend either to be upper class (and thus possess the free time to devote to the study and practice required), or they are commoners who have devoted their lives full time to studying in a monastery or other school under a high-level ritual warrior. Sometimes, to pay a debt, a commoner will trade his young son or daughter to such a school so the child can be raised in the art of combat ritual and eventually be hired out as a skilled bodyguard, mercenary, or military advisor.
Races: Giants developed the ritual warrior class and were the first ritual warriors. Though they brought the secrets of the ritual warriors with them when they arrived hundreds of years ago, only very recently has the teaching and training involved in its secrets spread to other races. All races seem to have taken to the idea well.
Other Classes: Ritual warriors get along well with warriors of any stripe: unfettered, warmains, and totem warriors. In particular, they can appreciate the dedication of champions and oathsworn. They see eye to eye with mage blades as well, for members of both classes appreciate the blending of physical training and skill with something more—whether spiritual or magical. In the view of a ritual warrior, magisters, greenbonds, runethanes, and witches can grow tiresome at times, for few of them appreciate the need for exercise, physical training, or even meditation (some nonspellcasters don’t understand the latter, either, which can be irritating). Mostly, though, the ritual warrior finds all other people fascinating and worthy of greater understanding.
NPCs: The learned master teaching young disciples in a monastery is a ritual warrior. The quiet mercenary captain who is far more sophisticated than he first seems might be a ritual warrior. The priest of the war god Mowren is a ritual warrior. The evil noble who thinks of nothing but combat and spends all of his spare time training in the martial arts may be a ritual warrior.
Hit Die: d10
Ritual Warrior Archetypes
- Combat Devotee: The art of combat is holy—it is the ultimate culmination of the fusion of mind and body. You seek to glorify combat itself in your actions, your attitude, and your highly focused training. To revere that which is sacred is to crush your enemies utterly. Only by becoming the greatest fighter in the world can you rest, knowing that you have attained the highest glory possible.
- Contemplative Knight: Clad in shining armor, a gleaming sword at your side, you are no boorish crusader. You understand that there are greater meanings to your actions, and you always think before you strike. There is a right and wrong to all things, and only through meditation and contemplation can one ascertain the right path.
- Enlightenment Seeker: In seeking the ultimate truths, you have found that one can reach them only by attaining the physical, spiritual, and mental purity gained by facing the greatest challenges. You strive for an inner peace even as you train for war. People look up to you for your prowess as well as your wisdom. Rather than finding irony in that, you marry the two concepts together in perfect harmony.
Skill Points at 1st Level: (4+ Intelligence bonus) × 4.
Skill Points at Higher Levels: 4 + Intelligence bonus. Class Skills: The ritual warrior’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Craft (any) (Int), Heal (Wis), Jump (Str), Knowledge (ceremony) (Int), Listen (Wis), Ride (Dex), Spot (Wis), and Swim (Str).
Class Features Weapon and Armor Proficiency: The ritual warrior is proficient with all simple and martial weapons; light, medium, and heavy armors; and shields.
Combat Rites: Starting at 1st level, the ritual warrior gains access to combat rites, special abilities that stem from the ritualization of combat. Similar to the way in which a spellcaster casts spells, a ritual warrior can activate a certain number of combat rites of a given rank per day, based on his level. The ritual warrior can use any combat rite, as long as he can use rites of that rank. To use a combat rite, the ritual warrior must have a Wisdom score of at least 10 + the rite’s rank. Combat rites do not require components, do not have a failure chance based on armor worn, and cannot be dispelled or suppressed. They are not magical.
The ritual warrior gains bonus combat rites based on his Wisdom score.
Bonus Feats: At 1st level, the ritual warrior gets a bonus feat. The ritual warrior gains an additional bonus feat at 4th level, 8th, 12th, 16th, 20th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 24th, and 25th as well. These are in addition to the feats a character gets every third level. Draw these bonus feats from the following list: Bloody Strike, Combat Reflexes, Defensive Move (Mobility), Exotic Armor Proficiency, Exotic Weapon Proficiency*, Expertise (Defensive Move, Defensive Stance, Improved Disarm, Improved Trip, Whirlwind Attack), Improved Critical*, Improved Initiative, Point Blank Shot (Far Shot, Precise Shot, Shot on the Run), Power Attack (Cleave, Improved Bull Rush, Sunder), Quick Draw, Stunning Blow, Sturdy, Tough Hide, Two-Weapon Fighting, Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus*, Weapon Specialization*.
Some of these feats are ceremonial feats. The character need not go through the ceremony (or pay for it) to get a bonus ceremonial feat; even an Unbound character can choose a ceremonial feat in this way. The ritual warrior cannot acquire some of these bonus feats until he has gained one or more prerequisite feats; these feats appear parenthetically after the prerequisite feat. A ritual warrior can select feats marked with an asterisk (*) more than once, but it must be for a different weapon each time. The character still must meet all prerequisites for a bonus feat, including ability score and base attack bonus minimums (but not truenames).
Ability Score Bonus: At 2nd level, and at 9th, 17th, and 25th level thereafter, the ritual warrior can perform a special ceremony that increases one ability score by +1. This increase is identical to—but in addition to—the ability score increase that all characters gain every four levels.
Concentration Save: At 5th level and above, when the ritual warrior must make a saving throw, he can choose to call upon his inner energies and make a Concentration check instead. He must choose to make a check rather than a standard save before any dice are rolled. Standard bonuses that normally apply to saves (such as a resistance spell) do not apply, although magic that affects checks (like canny effort) can apply. He can use this option once per day for every five levels.
Dodge Bonus to AC (Ex): At 20th level and at every level beyond, the ritual warrior gains a +1 dodge bonus to Armor Class. Thus, at 20th level, his dodge bonus is +1, at 21st level it is +2, at 22nd it is +3, and so on until 25th level, when the bonus is +6.
|Class Level||BAB||Fort Save||Ref Save||Will Save||Special||Combat Rites Per Day|
|2||+1||+1||+1||+3||Ability score bonus +1||4||1||—||—|
|9||+6/+1||+4||+4||+6||Ability score bonus +1||7||5||3||—|
|17||+12/+7/+2||+7||+7||+10||Ability score bonus +1||*||9||7||3|
|20||+15/+10/+5||+9||+9||+12||Bonus feat, dodge bonus to AC||*||10||8||5|
|21||+15/+10/+5||+9||+9||+12||Bonus feat, dodge bonus to AC||*||*||9||5|
|22||+16/+11/+6/+1||+10||+10||+13||Bonus feat, dodge bonus to AC||*||*||9||6|
|23||+17/+12/+7/+2||+10||+10||+13||Bonus feat, dodge bonus to AC||*||*||10||6|
|24||+18/+13/+8/+3||+11||+11||+14||Bonus feat, dodge bonus to AC||*||*||10||7|
|25||+18/+13/+8/+3||+11||+11||+14||Ability score bonus +1, bonus feat, dodge bonus to AC||*||*||*||7|