Wednesday, September 16, 2020

ACKS Class: Warrior-Poet

 Each word led me on | to another word, 

 Each deed to another deed. 

- Odin, the Hovamol, Stanza 142 

I was thinking the other day about how Inspire Courage is a great ability, and that despite that bard just doesn't see that much play, probably in part because the bard just has a long-running frivolous reputation.  It occurred to me to give Inspire Courage the Varangian treatment - stealing it and putting it on top of a fighter with d6 HD.  Working in the Varangian vein, I originally was going to call it Skald.  But I was reminded of Morrowind and its Buoyant Armigers, and figured maybe I would generalize it a bit.


Prime requisites: Strength and Charisma

HD: d6

Maximum level: 14

Warrior-poets cut their enemies with both word and sword.  They are able fighters, advancing in attack throws and saves at a rate of 2 points per 3 levels.  They gain a +1 bonus to damage at 1st level, and every third level.  They save as fighters of their level and may use magic items usable by fighters.

Warrior-poets train broadly with weapons and armor, but their training is not as complete as that of fighters.  Warrior-poets may use all weapons and armor, and fight with a weapon in both hands, a weapon in each hand, or a shield, except as restricted by their chosen style / cultural background:

  • Skald: Not trained with armor heavier than chain.
  • Zen Swordsman: Not trained with shields.
  • Minstrel-Knight: Not trained with bows and crossbows.
Regardless of culture, warrior-poets are able composers and reciters of poetry (as the Performance proficiency), and often practice other arts as well.  They are well-versed in protocol and courtesy (as the Diplomacy proficiency), and their exhortations can Inspire Courage in their companions and followers (as the bard ability).  Finally, as allegory and allusion are their stock in trade, each warrior-poet accumulates an armory of legends and lore (as the Loremastery proficiency), to which he can refer on a throw of 18+, improving by 1 point per level after 1st.

By 5th level, the warrior-poet's presence and prowess inspire his followers without needing to speak.  Troops and henchmen whom he personally leads gain a +1 bonus to morale throws.

By 9th level, the warrior-poet's hospitality and courtly manners are widely known.  Should he construct or otherwise come into possession of a fortress, mead hall, monastery, or other property, 1d4+1 x 10 0th-level mercenaries and 1d6 warrior-poets of 1st-3rd level will soon arrive seeking to enter his service.

XPLevelHit DiceTHAC0Damage bonus

Sorry, generating level titles that made sense across all three of Skald, Zen Swordsman, and Mistrel-Knight didn't seem reasonable.

Class proficiencies (28):
  1. Alertness
  2. Art
  3. Bargaining
  4. Berserkergang
  5. Blind Fighting
  6. Combat Reflexes
  7. Combat Trickery
  8. Command
  9. Disguise
  10. Dungeon Bashing
  11. Endurance
  12. Fighting Style
  13. Gambling
  14. Healing
  15. Intimidation
  16. Leadership
  17. Manual of Arms
  18. Military Strategy
  19. Performance
  20. Precise Shooting
  21. Prophecy
  22. Riding
  23. Running
  24. Seduction
  25. Skirmishing
  26. Swashbuckling
  27. Weapon Finesse
  28. Weapon Focus
Notes: This class makes me feel sort of bad about Fighting 2 / HD 1 / Thief 1 class builds.  For an extra 450 XP to 2nd level over bard, it gets better saves, better THAC0, fighting damage bonus, and almost full weapon and armor proficiencies.  And if it didn't have Performance (which is sort of a dead-weight proficiency), it wouldn't have to make a fighting value tradeoff, and then it would only be at 300XP over bard to 2nd.  Meanwhile it gets two of the bard's main abilities (though it loses out in the mid-levels, but by that point the save and damage bonuses are bigger).

I considered differentiating skald, zen swordsman, and minstrel-knight further, adding a second restriction to each and having them provide a second proficiency (probably berserkergang or fighting style: shield, alertness or combat reflexes, and riding), but couldn't figure out what else to remove from each.  That would've put the XP up to 2k to 2nd anyway, which didn't seem worth it.


  1. i will totally use this in my next acks campaing. well, to be honest my players know me, and so the already consider all your houserules as oficial until proven otherwise.

  2. Fair warning: unplaytested! Let me know if you do end up using it though, I'm curious to hear how it does.