"Special Maneuvers" Class Ability.

Inspired by the recent Axioms post, I'm putting together a Gladiator custom class and am looking for a class ability that promotes Special Maneuvers.

Do you think that the following is balanced and/or useful?

Special Manuevers: Gladiators are trained to impress their audience through the skilled execution of special manuevers in combat. A Gladiator receives a +2 bonus on all attack throws when attempting special manuevers, and targets have a -2 penalty to their saving throw to resist the effect.


Looks a lot like the Combat Trickery proficiency x7 to have it for all special maneuvers.

I’m in favor of rolling the combat trickery proficiencies together. I recall that someone analyzed the combat maneuvers system and found that the odds of succeeding with it, even for a mid-level fighter against an untrained peasant, were quite bad. We’ve never actually had anyone use them.

we've had discussions about the combat maneuvers before, both on the forums and elsewhere.  My general impression is that most people agree they effect is slightly more powerful than just doing damage, but that the rate of success is so low that it's rarely worth it.

Variants I've suggested are allowing you to decide after you roll (and can see if you hit AC by more than 4) if you want to attempt a maneuver.

However, in the time since then I've played Dungeon Crawl Classics, and based on their fighter I'm inclined to say you could probably go farther.  In DCC, the fighter adds an extra die to their attack and damage rolls, d3 at level 1, then d4, d5, d6, d7, etc. (DCC loves weird dice sizes). in addition, EVERY ROUND, the fighter gets to attempt a "heroic deed" which is essentially a combat maneuver - tripping, blinding, disarming, etc. - where appropriate.  These deeds succeed on any result of 3+, so 1/3rd of the time at level 1, 1/2 at level 2, etc.  Moreover, there are tables provided for the established maneuvers (blind, disarm, etc.) with increasingly powerful effects the higher the result of the die, with the implication that any made up maneuvers should likewise be more devastating the higher the deed die is.

Now, granted, that's JUST for the fighter, but in general I think it's fair to assume that fighters are usually the best suited for combat maneuvers due to their attack bonus and frequency of proficiencies.

Anyways, all this rambling is to say, I think the proposed house rule proficiency is acceptable, predominantly because the core combat maneuvers are a bit underpowered relative to other combat focused proficiencies like weapon focus, fighting style, or of course swashbuckling if it's available.

Yeah; I was reading over the old forum posts. The only time I've seen Special Maneuvers in my game has been when the the PCs need to capture someone alive. I kind of like the idea of some weapons improving the odds for Special Maneuvers too.

The "Special Maneuvers" ability above is actually a proposed class ability, not a replacement for the Combat Trickery proficiency. I can see it being useful for gladiators in nonlethal bouts, and would hopefully sweeten the odds enough for a character to use it outside the arena. I'll post my proposed custom class in the next day or two.

Tangentially related, from elsewhere on the forum:


Are there any further specifics on nets? Since the Auran Empire is similar to the Roman Empire, I was making a few gladiator classes and got to the retiarius, the guys that fight with nets and tridents.

For the entangle duration my guess would be until the creature makes a Paralysis save.

Alex: The “entanglement” is handled as a Wrestling special maneuver. Therefore "The held opponent may make another saving throw versus Paralysis each round to attempt to escape the hold.”

Though a net shouldn’t be a problem for a creature larger than a humanoid.

Alex: I would offer a saving throw of +4 for larger-than-man sized creatures (horses, ogres), and then additional +4 for each size category larger.

I get the +2 on wrestling throws, but the way a retiarius fought is by entangling his foes in the net, and then proceeding to stab at them with their tridents.

Alex: The retiarius would attack with the net using a Wrestling special maneuver. This attempt calls for an attack throw at -4 (Wrestling special maneuver) +2 (because it’s a net), for a total penalty of -2. If the attack throw is successful, the retiarius’s target must save versus Paralyzation. If the save fails, the target is now entangled by the net. At this time “other combatants are at +4 on attack throws against the held opponent”. Since it’s the net that is doing the entangling (and not an actual wrestling hold by the wrestler), the retiarius who originally used the net would count as an “other combatant”. (That this MUST be the case can be seen by imagining the outcome of a net-trap or thrown net). Therefore the retiarius would get +4 to hit with his trident on targets he has entangled. It should simulate Roman retiarii tactics quite well!

Also using the net to disarm his opponents.

Alex: If you feel the historical case for a +2 bonus to disarm is justified, please feel free to do so! Special maneuvers are underutilized in the game.

CharlesDM: I suggest that a net is not especially well-suited to a Disarm special maneuver, except via the “entanglement” (Wrestling special maneuver) first. “A combatant who has grabbed an opponent may perform a brawl, force back, disarm, or knock down action each round without having to make an attack throw so long as the hold continues (the opponent still receives a saving throw).” ACKS p. 110

A fighter with a net and Combat Trickery(wrestling) could be very interesting …