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Pathfinder - Practical Guide to Martial Flexibility

Disclaimer

I will use content from the core rules, but will intentionally omit any content not published on the official Pathfinder SRD due to the unmanageable volume of non-SRD content, and the wildly varying quality of non-SRD content. If you would like me to write handbooks for specific content not published on the official SRD, please email me and I will consider it on a case-by-case basis. 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.

Temporary Note: Pathfinder Unchained and Occult Adventures were both recently added to the SRD. I'm excited to explore them, and I am actively working on adding their contents to my collection of handbooks. I appreciate your patience while I make these changes.

Introduction

Martial Flexibility was introduced in the Advanced Class Guide. It answers a long-standing problem for martial characters: If I've invested all of my feats in doing one cool trick, what am I supposed to do when my trick doesn't work? How does your charger function when they can't walk? How does your melee monster kill stuff when he can't reach your enemies? Martial Flexibility offers a potent answer to these questions: learn a different trick. Or learn several. I don't know, I'm not your boss.

Before we discuss build choices, let's examine the rules of Martial Flexibility. The text of the ability is functionally identical for each archetype with the ability, differing only in numerical terms and in minor text differences that don't actually change the rule sof the ability. The core rules of the ability are the same. I've duplicated the text below from the Brawler entry, as it seems the most iconic user of Martial Flexibility, and it spells things out a bit more explicitly than the archetypes which offer Martial Flexibility.

This effect lasts for 1 minute.

At first this is simple. You get one feat as a move action and you get to keep it for one minute. It gets a little bit complicated later.

The (whatever class you are) must meet all the feat's prerequisites.

Again, fairly simple. This means that some feats like Power Attack and Combat Expertise will be good options to take as permanent feats so that you can easily meet prerequisites for other feats.

The brawler can use this ability again before the duration expires to replace the previous combat feat with another choice.

This is where the duration starts to get a little bit complicated. When you take another action to choose feats, you're resetting the ability. If last round you used a Move Action to pick Power Attack, but this round you use a Move Action to pick Toughness, you now have Toughness and any remaining duration on Power Attack is gone. This gets slightly more complicated when you get the ability to select more than one feat at higher levels.

If a combat feat has a daily use limitation (such as with Stunning Fist), any uses of that combat feat while using this ability count toward that feat's daily limit.

This is fairly simple. You can't repeatedly select Stunning Fist to refresh daily uses. But you can do things like switch around between a bunch of feats with daily usage limitations like Amateur Swashbuckler and Stunning Fist.

At 6th level, a brawler can use this ability to gain the benefit of two combat feats at the same time. She may select one feat as a swift action or two feats as a move action. She may use one of these feats to meet a prerequisite of the second feat; doing so means that she cannot replace a feat currently fulfilling another's prerequisite without also replacing those feats that require it. Each individual feat selected counts toward her daily uses of this ability.

This is the last complicated chunk of text. You can now choose feats with different types of actions. Using a Swift Action to select one feat consumes one daily usage of the ability. Using a Move Action gets you two feats, but it also consumes two daily uses of the ability. And remember: any time you take an action to select feats you're resetting your choices and restarting the 1-minute timer. So you can't take swift actions in consecutive rounds to get two feats. If you want two feats, you need to take a Move Action. As you gain levels, you'll get to select additional feats. Most classes and archetypes will max out at 3 feats as a Move Action, but some like the Brawler and the Martial Master Fighter get the ability to select any number of feats as a Swift Action at 20th level.

Classes

Brawler: Brawlers did it first, and they do it best. Brawlers get the full version of Martial Flexibility, and the ability upgrades faster than any other Martial Flexibility user.

Fighter (Martial Master): Fighters are the king of feats, but they still fall into the "one trick pony" hole. Martial Master goes a long way to fix this, allowing fighters to partially adapt to challenges. However, because the class's big feature is feats, you're still going to have a mountain of permanent feats. Use these feats to define your go-to gimick, and rely on Martial Flexibility to pick up situational feats which complement your gimick. Martial Master Fighters get the full version of Martial Flexibility, but they get most of the abilities several levels behind Brawlers.

Oracle (Warsighted): Warsighted Oracles get the weakest version of Martial Mastery. They have the same cap on the ability that Sorcerers do, but they don't get extra feats added to the list of selectable options like the Sorcerer. However, they're also much better suited to martial combat than Sorcerers. With 2/3 BAB, d8 hit points, and medium armor, they're already equipped to be secondary melee characters, standing alongside their party's fighter-equivalent.

Sorcerer (Eldritch Scrapper): A class with d6 hit points rarely has a good use for combat feats, but thanks to polymorph spells and other options, it's not impossible to turn the sorcerer into a potent martial threat. Combine this with a bloodline like Draconic and some spells to support you in melee, and you might have a workable build. However, being limited to 1/2 BAB severely limits your feat options.

Feats

The possibilities of Martial Flexibility are massive. The only limitations are what you qualify for, and the breadth of your knowledge of the feats available. Unfortunately, that does mean that to truly master Martial Flexibility you will need at least a cursory knowledge of the available feats. Fortunately, Paizo's Feat Index allows you to bring up a list of every available combat feat with a few clicks.

"Foundational" Feats

"Foundational" Feats (a term which I'm coining for the purposes of this guide), are feats which are central to your build. These are feats that are almost always useful in some capacity, or at the very least are such a common prerequisite that selecting them with Martial Flexibility is frequently limiting your options.

Feats on the Fly

These are the feats you pick with Martial Flexibility. Ideally these aren't feats that you return to consistently. Instead, these are often the situational feats that are great when they apply but garbage when they don't.

I'll forego my usual attempts to rate options here. The nature of Martial Flexibility is that it allows to pick highly situational feats exactly when those feats are useful. My usual assessments are based on how useful something is and how often, but that measure doesn't make sense here. For example: normally Greater Blind Fight is a garbage feat, but if you're in a fight where everyone has total concealment against one another, it's the next best thing to blindsight.