The Iron Hand

Introduction

The famed academy of the Iron Hand school is a monastery located deep in the mountainous wilderness. Many centuries ago, a great warrior came here to meditate, and found that the monks were beset by bandits, wild beasts and other perils. To help them defend themselves, the warrior devised a series of exercises and combat drills that he taught to the monks. Because the monks had no easy access to forges and weaponsmiths, these drills focused on unarmed attacks and fighting with improvised weapons. The monks took this knowledge to heart and combined it with their expertise in the ways of ki, and the result was the Iron Hand school.

In the years following the establishment of the school, the Iron Hand monks became famous not just for their combat prowess, but also for their championing the cause of the poor against the excesses of unjust rulers. This has seen the monastery come under attack many times throughout its history, from those who sought to remove this thorn in their side. Thus far, the monksí fighting abilities have seen them in good stead, although some of the grand masters wonder how long this can last.

Iron Hand Mastery

Prerequisites: Non-chaotic alignment, Iron Will, Enhanced Unarmed Strike (2 levels), Stunning Fist, Acrobatics class ability, 9 ranks in Balance, 9 ranks in Tumble. Must gain admission to the monastery of the Iron Hand.

Training benefit: You gain one bonus use of your Stunning Fist ability per day.

Social benefit: Monks of the Iron Hand are well-regarded as advocates and defenders of the common people. You gain a +2 circumstance bonus on Diplomacy skill checks when dealing with anyone not of the upper classes, but also a Ė4 penalty on the same when dealing with evil nobles. If your long-term behaviour doesnít match this reputation (DMís call), you lose the bonus, but not the penalty.

Iron Hand mastery is a prerequisite for taking the Master of the Iron Hand prestige class.


Master of the Iron Hand

Prerequisites

Alignment: Lawful good or lawful neutral.

Special: Must have achieved mastery of the Iron Hand style (see above).

Class Statistics

Hit Die: d8.

Class Skills: Balance (Dex), Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Heal (Wis), Hide (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge (religion), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Spot (Wis), Tumble (Dex).

Skill Points/Level: 4 + Int modifier.

Level

Base Attack Bonus

Fort
Save

Ref
Save

Will
Save


Special

1

+0

+2

+2

+2

Flurry of blows, Fast Stride, AC bonus

2

+1

+3

+3

+3

Evasion, Ki strike (magic)

3

+2

+3

+3

+3

Diamond body

4

+3

+4

+4

+4

Fast Stride, Ki strike (lawful)

5

+3

+4

+4

+4

Enhanced Unarmed Strike

6

+4

+5

+5

+5

Abundant step

7

+5

+5

+5

+5

Fast Stride, Ki strike (adamantine)

8

+6

+6

+6

+6

Diamond soul

9

+6

+6

+6

+6

Improved evasion

10

+7

+7

+7

+7

Enhanced Unarmed Strike, Fast Stride, Quivering palm

Special Abilities

Weapon and armor proficiency: In addition to his existing proficiencies, the master of the Iron Hand gains proficiency with the kama, nunchaku, quarterstaff, sai and siangham. He can use these weapons with his Flurry of Blows ability (see below).

AC bonus: The master of the Iron Hand can stack his prestige class levels with his martial artist levels for the purpose of determining his level-based dodge bonus to AC.

Flurry of Blows (Ex): At 1st level, the master of the Iron Hand gains the use of the Rapid Strike feat. He may use this feat only with unarmed strikes, or with a kama, nunchaku, quarterstaff, sai or siangham. He may attack with unarmed strikes or with these weapons interchangeably as desired.

Fast Stride (Ex/Su): At 1st level, the master of the Iron Hand gains this as a bonus feat. He gains this feat again at 4th, 7th and 10th level. The first time this feat is gained it counts as an extraordinary ability; the subsequent times it is gained, it counts as a supernatural ability.

Ki Strike (Su): Starting at 2nd level, the unarmed strikes of the master of the Iron Hand are empowered with ki. His unarmed attacks are treated as magic weapons for the purpose of bypassing damage reduction. If the master also has the Imbued Strike feat, the enhancement bonus to attacks and damage for his unarmed strikes increases by +1.

Ki strike improves with the master's class level. At 4th level, his unarmed attacks are treated as lawful weapons for the purpose of bypassing damage reduction. At 7th level, his unarmed attacks are treated as adamantine weapons for the purpose of bypassing damage reduction and hardness.

Evasion (Ex): At 2nd level, the master of the Iron Hand gains evasion. If exposed to any effect that allows a Reflex saving throw for half damage, he takes no damage on a successful save. Evasion can only be used if the character is wearing light or no armour.

Enhanced Unarmed Strike (Ex): At 5th level, the master of the Iron Hand gains this feat for free, stacking with any previous times he may have taken the feat. He gains this feat again at 10th level.

Diamond Body (Su): At 3rd level, the master of the Iron Hand is in such control of his metabolism that he gains immunity to poisons of all kinds.

Abundant Step (Sp): At 6th level, the master of the Iron Hand can slip magically between spaces, as per the spell dimension door, once per day. This is a spell-like ability.

Diamond Soul (Su): At 8th level, the master of the Iron Hand gains spell resistance equal to 20 plus his levels in this prestige class.

Improved Evasion (Ex): At 9th level, the master of the Iron Handís evasion ability improves. He still takes no damage on a successful Reflex save, but now he only takes half damage on a failed save.

Quivering Palm (Su): At 10th level, the master of the Iron Hand gains the ability to slay opponents by lethally disrupting the flow of ki within their bodies. Using this ability uses up all the masterís stunning attacks for the day, and he must have at least one stunning attack left with which to deliver the quivering palm.

The master must declare his intention to use the quivering palm before the attack is made. If the attack hits and deals damage, instead of attempting to stun the target, the master can try to slay the target at any time within the next ten days. He merely wills the target to die (a free action), at which point they must make a Fortitude save (DC 10 + 1/2 the masterís character level + his Wisdom modifier) or be slain immediately. If the save is successful, the target is no longer in danger from that particular quivering palm attack (but may be affected by another one at a later time).

Ex-Masters

A master of the Iron Hand who violates the alignment prerequisites for this prestige class, but remains non-chaotic, retains his special abilities. A master who becomes chaotic loses all his special abilities, including his mastery ability. In both cases, he may not advance further in this prestige class.


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