Pathfinder - Swashbuckler Deeds Breakdown
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I will use the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks. Also note that many colored items are also links to the Paizo SRD.
- Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational.
- Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances
- Green: Good options.
- Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character.
Deeds are a defining feature of the Swashbuckler, and are fueled by Panache.
Derring-Do (Ex): Too expensive for what you get.
Dodging Panache (Ex): To understand this ability it's important to remember that creatures can take their 5-foot step between the attacks of a Full Attack. Therefore, if your attacker has not already moved the primary benefit of Dodging Panache essentially just moves the fight 5 feet. To make best use of this ability, you need to take a 5-foot step away from your attacker before their turn and hope that they don't decide to ignore you and go attack your allies.
Opportune Parry and Riposte (Ex): This is a great way to defend yourself and get free attacks, but it will also burn through your Panache very quickly if you depend on it too much. Save this for particularly scary single attacks, or pick up Signature Deed.
Kip-Up (Ex): Situational, but nice to have.
Menacing Swordplay (Ex): You don't need to spend Panache to use this, and you don't have a lot of uses for a Swift Action, so you should be intimidating enemies at every opportunity.
Precise Strike (Ex): This is a ton of extra damage, though you only get to use it if you don't use Two-Weapon Fighting. Remember that it's precision damage, so it won't get multiplied on all of those critical hits that you should be getting. You can spend Panache to double the damage bonus on one attack, but that's a very bad way to waste Panache.
Swashbuckler Initiative (Ex): Initiative bonuses are great, but Improved Initiative provides double the bonus. Very few people both to take Quick Draw.
Swashbuckler's Grace (Ex): Hugely improves the Swashbuckler's mobility.
Superior Feint (Ex): Situational.
Targeted Strike (Ex): This adds some nice versatility, and provides some options to replace the Disarm and Trip combat maneuvers.
- Arms: Good, and nice to have because Improved Disarm is rarely a worthwhile feat.
- Head: Confused is garbage.
- Legs: Good, but Improved Trip won't cost you Panache.
- Torso or Wings: Staggering a creature is a great way to prevent it from running away or making a Full Attack.
Bleeding Wound (Ex): Assuming that the bleed damage is ongoing, 2 panache points for ongoing constitution bleed is a fantastic option for major enemies.
Evasive (Ex): Evasion is good on any character, and Swashbucklers have fantastic Reflex saves. You also get Uncanny Dodge, which means you get your Nimble AC bonus while flat-footed.
Subtle Blade (Ex): Situational.
Dizzying Defense (Ex): Many Swashbucklers will have Combat Expertise, which will provide a better bonus to AC by this level, but you can use both at once. It's not clear if using Fight Defensively as a swift action allows you to make an attack, but I assume that it does, which means you get a free attack as a Swift Action for a Panache point. The bonuses and penalties for fighting defensively are also greatly improved, and 5 ranks in Acrobatics will give you an extra +1 to AC.
Perfect Thrust (Ex): This is a cool option, but your attack bonus should be good enough to hit anything which you're fighting, and you should be able to bypass the DR of most enemies with a bit of forethought.
Swashbuckler's Edge (Ex): Acrobatics is probably the only one on the list which you will need regularly, but being able to take 10 for free means that you can probably stop putting skill ranks into Acrobatics at this point.
Cheat Death (Ex): This will absolutely save your life.
Deadly Stab (Ex): Save or die, and its dependent on your ridiculous Dexterity modifier.
Stunning Stab (Ex): Stunning a creature is devastating, and you don't need to crit to do it.