Monday, February 14, 2011

Street Fighter prestige class

In the exciting world of medieval fantasy role playing games, players can choose to be such heroic characters as dragon slaying cavaliers, wizards that bend the very fabric of the universe, priests who literally commune with their deities, and common street thugs. Hmmm…the thug does not sound so appealing in comparison to the others, which is the part that has always thrown me off about the Street Fighter prestige class. Not to be confused with Ryu or Zangief, the Street Fighter specializes in nothing in particular. But he is always spoiling for a good fight! Preferably in the street.

I like characters that are not really powerful, that’s not the issue. As long as the whole party is on board with it, it’s fun to be a group of rogues looking to run a criminal cartel. Not every party is striving to seal off extra-dimensional portals to prevent the hordes of the netherworld from overrunning a village of orphans and widows. Some people would rather extort money from those same orphans and widows. What I’m saying is that there is a place for the street fighter, I’m just not sure that they need to be a Street Fighter.

The Street Fighter is essentially a Fighter/Rogue hybrid, with the emphasis being on the martial aspect of the two. D8 hit die, 4 skill points a level, full base attack and a good fortitude save. And it goes for five levels. Nothing special, but not bad either. The requirements are also pretty straightforward and allow for several types of characters. To get into this prestigious class one must have a BAB of +5, Combat Expertise, Improved Feint and five ranks of Bluff, Intimidate, and Knowledge (Local). I think that the best approach to this is some sort of Rogue and Swashbuckler combo. The Swashbuckler has those loaded early levels which make it ideal to switch out of and this class screams out to be lightly armored. I just can’t picture the thug on the corner wearing platemail. It seems a bit out of place. Swashbuckler 3/Rogue 3? That seems to work pretty well.

If the class has a signature ability I suppose that it is Always Ready, because this guys is well, always ready. For mediocre combat I guess, but at least he is ready for it. Always Ready is an initiative bonus (starts at +1, goes up every other level) which certainly works well with any sneak attack, but it’s pretty weak for a key class feature. There aren’t many initiative boosting abilities so it has rarity on it’s side, and combined with a high Dex and Improved Initiative the Street Fighter can get the drop on opponents pretty regularly. At 2nd level they get Streetwise, which is nothing other than one of those feats that gives +2 to two skills. In this case Gather Information and Knowledge (Local). It is what it is.

Stand Tough is one of those class features that sounds real good when you first read it, but then you think about it a little and it gets worse and worse. It’s supposed to make the character a little more resilient and street tough, and it sort of does. But not really. For starters, the name is real lame. When the Street Fighter takes physical damage they can attempt to take half the amount of non-lethal damage by making a fort save against the total damage. So, let’s see. It is usable once a day (twice a day at fourth level) so it’s the sort of thing you want to save for when you really need it. Maybe. At 8th level (around when they first get it) it’s very feasible to be dealt 30 points of damage (actually, that’s on the low end). With a base fort save of, say, +11 that still means you need to roll a 19 or higher. That’s not too good. It’s probably better used for some low damage when it will actually have a better chance of succeeding.

The best thing that this class gets may actually be the +1d6 sneak attack at 4th level. Sneak attack is a great ability, but once in five levels is pretty weak. It does mesh nicely with the required Improved Feint. Uncanny Dodge at 5th level is a nice little reward for sticking it out until the end of the class.

An ability that would work really well for this class is the improvised weapons skills possessed by the Drunken Master prestige class.  It's more cool that powerful, so it is certainly not game breaking by any means.  And what says street fighter more than swinging a bench as a club or gutting an adversary with a mead bottle?  Of course, I never really understood what kind of adventurer doesn't have a weapon, but maybe they ran into one of those awful sunder based builds.

The Street Fighter is not altogether useless, but it falls into the category of something that is easily replicated by a base class. Want to be a tough, street level character? Rogue with a little Fighter works great for that. The full base attack is nice for this character, it certainly makes him a little more lethal than his rogue brethren, but this guy is going to live and die by getting the drop on his adversaries not by out slugging them. I could see some uses as opponents to a party. If they can successfully Stand Tough against a PC they could at least scare them for a moment, unless the non lethal damage knocks them out anyway. Which would be very funny.

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