Class: Defender

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The Defender
Level Special Max Grit Max Grade Schools Known
1 Combat Control 2 Basic 1 4
2 Bastion 2 Basic 1 6
3   3 Lesser 1 7
4 Bastion 3 Lesser 1 8
5   4 Lesser 2 10
6 Bastion 4 Lesser 2 11
7   5 Lesser 2 12
8 Bastion 5 Expert 2 14
9   6 Expert 2 15
10 Defender Talent 6 Expert 2 16
11   7 Expert 3 18
12 Defender Talent 7 Expert 3 19
13   8 Greater 3 20
14 Defender Talent 8 Greater 3 22
15   9 Greater 3 23
16 Defender Talent 9 Greater 3 24
17   10 Greater 3 26
18 Defender Talent 10 Master 3 27
19   11 Master 3 28
20 Defender Talent 11 Master 3 30



Jarvis, iconic defender
"I am the rock. None shall pass."

Defenders believe that strong defense is the key to a potent offense. Rather than learn to apply the power of weapons in their own hands, defenders study the art of defense and zone control: through this, they can force their enemies to crash uselessly against their armor, while giving their allies protection from the same and time to use their own abilities against their foes. That said, however, defenders are not without their own offense, able to turn their defenses into offense when the moment calls for it.

While many of the defender's skills can be used when not under assault, the training of a defender is such that they are taught to use an assailant's momentum against them, or pin them with a shield. As such, defenders also learn how to encourage their enemies to attack them: after all, what use is a defender if ignored?

Game Rule Information

Defenders have the following game statistics.

Force Alignment: None.

Force Resistances: None.

Abilities: Constitution is the most important ability for defenders.

Hit Points at 1st Level: 20 + Con score.

Hit Points at Each Additional Level: 11 + Con modifier.

Healing Surges: 12 + Con modifier.

Defenses: Fort +4; Ref +0; Will +0; Det +4.

Starting Age: Simple.

Class Features

All of the following are class features of the defender.


Weapons: Any three melee, any one.

Armor: Heavy, light, shields.

Implements: None.


Defenders are warriors, and as such make use of maneuvers, specific attacks or other abilities attained through rigorous training.

To use maneuvers, defenders must make a guard check, as it is possible to misjudge an incoming attack or otherwise make a misstep in defending oneself. When defenders make successful armor checks or shield checks, they gain grit, which they can use to enhance their maneuvers and bypass the need for a guard check.


Defender Schools
School Primary Ability Description
Endurance Con This school focuses on the defender's own endurance, enabling him to survive almost anything.
Sentinel Brv You defend not only yourself, but also those around you.
Vengeance Str The most aggressive defender school, this path focuses on responding to violence with violence.


Maneuvers are almost universally completely physical in nature and have no Force components; they are expressions of the mortal body pushed to its limits. Maneuvers are divided into schools, which represent particular thoughts and approaches to combat, training, and martial abilities. The minimum primary ability needed to use a maneuver, and the guard check DC to use one, are indicated on the table to the right.

Maneuver Stats by Grade
Grade Minimum Primary Ability Guard Check DC
Basic 10 12
Lesser 12 14
Expert 14 16
Greater 16 18
Master 18 20

The defender has a maximum amount of grit, based upon his class level.

When you use a maneuver, you must make a guard check. This is a d20, and you gain a bonus for each maneuver of that school you know, equal to the highest grade of that maneuver you know (so +1 for each Basic, +2 for each Lesser, +3 for each Expert, and so on). If this check fails, you fail to use the maneuver, but suffer no other penalties.

When you use a maneuver, if you have grit, you can choose to spend some on the maneuver. The most grit you can spend on a maneuver is equal to one-half your class level, rounded down, to a minimum of 1. Most maneuvers have augmentations you can spend grit on to improve them in some fashion. In addition, if you spend at least 1 grit on a maneuver, you automatically succeed at the guard check to use the maneuver.

When you make an armor check, if you succeed, you gain 1 grit; if you get a critical, you instead gain 2 grit.

When you make a shield check, if you succeed, you gain 2 grit; if you get a critical, you instead gain 4 grit.

Your current amount of grit cannot exceed your max. After a short rest or long rest, your grit is reset to 0.

The defender begins with four "maneuvers known" slots. A maneuver known has two possible uses: he can gain knowledge of a new maneuver of any school he can access, as a basic maneuver; or, he can improve his understanding of a maneuver he already knows, and improve its grade by one (from basic, to lesser, to expert, to greater, to master); however, he cannot improve his knowledge of a maneuver beyond the max grade, per the class table. He gains knowledge of additional maneuvers each level, as per the class table, above. At fourth level and every four levels after, he can trade out up to two basic maneuvers he knows (or reduce the grade of a maneuver he knows) for either new maneuvers, or to improve the grade of maneuvers he already knows.

If you would gain access to a school, you can choose to instead gain a bonus feat, which must be a feat for which you qualify. If you would gain access to a school and already have access to three schools, you gain a bonus feat instead.

The defender's key ability for his physical attacks is dependent upon the weapon he wields; when using a maneuver, if his primary ability score for the maneuver's school is greater than the ability score he would use for his weapon, he can use that instead.

Combat Control

Maneuver List

The following is the defender maneuver list. Please refer to the maneuvers page for more details.


1st-Level Defender Maneuvers
Maneuver Name Action Effect
Combat Magnet Reaction Creature must resolve its attacks against you this turn.
Draining Defense Reaction Attacker becomes fatigued.
Elemental Ward Swift Gain energy resistance against a chosen energy type.
Iron Shell Reaction Make an active defense against an attack to negate; if still hit, gain +5 DR against that attack.
Shield Brace Swift Improve your shield bonus to AC.
Taunting Strike Standard Melee attack causes creature to suffer -4 penalty to attacks against creatures other than you.
Watchful Eye Swift Make attacks of opportunity against creatures that attack adjacent allies and not you.


2nd-Level Defender Maneuvers
Maneuver Name Action Effect
Adamant Resolve Reaction End a mind-affecting or fear effect.
Aegis Ward Swift Gain bonuses to your touch AC and Reflex saves equal to your shield bonus.
Armor Savvy Reaction Use your normal AC against an attack while flatfooted.
Challenge Swift Call out an enemy to attack you if they fail a Will save.
Enraging Strike Standard Attack deals +1d6 damage, chance to enrage creature.
Interposing Shield Reaction Provide a +4 shield bonus to an adjacent creature's AC.
Sentinel's Fortitude Swift Make another saving throw against a status effect.
Steel Constitution Swift Gain light fortification.


3rd-Level Defender Maneuvers
Maneuver Name Action Effect
Defensive Shell Swift Reduce your movement speed to improve your AC (has no effect while in a defensive stance).
Mirror Shell Reaction Make active defense against Force-user's Force-user level to negate a spell targeting you.
Ring the Bell Standard Make a shield bash attack, potentially stunning a creature.
Shell Wall Reaction Provide allies with cover and grant evasion.
Soak Reaction Gain 2/level temporary hit points until the start of your next turn.
Staunch Bastion Reaction Make a shield bash and bull rush attempt against a creature that charges you or an adjacent ally.
Untouchable Reaction A "natural 20" on an attack roll against you does not result in an automatic hit.


4th-Level Defender Maneuvers
Maneuver Name Action Effect
Adamant Redoubt Reaction When an enemy hits you, force them to reroll the attack with a -6 penalty.
Aggrieving Strike Swift Successful attacks cause target to suffer -4 penalty to attack creatures other than you.
Mettle Reaction Gain the mettle ability against one attack or effect.
Steel Crush Standard Shield bash that catches an opponent flat-footed, inflicts normal damage +2d6 damage, chance to daze.
Steel Shell Reaction Make active defense against attack to negate; if still hit, gain +10 DR against that attack.
Wall of Iron Swift Gain concealment.


5th-Level Defender Maneuvers
Maneuver Name Action Effect
Cover Reaction When an ally is attacked, make an active defense against it. If you fail, provide DR 10/- against the attack.
Dam the River Reaction Create an area in an area-of-effect that ignores the effect, or split a line effect in two.
Hamstring Standard Attack deals +3d6 damage, halves movement speed.
Mithril Constitution Swift Gain moderate fortification.
Resilient Defense Reaction Apply half your DR against an attack that ignores DR.
Shell Shock Standard Shield bash with +3d6 damage, knock opponent prone and 20 ft. away.


6th-Level Defender Maneuvers
Maneuver Name Action Effect
Gauntlet of Steel Reaction Make an attack after taking damage.
Impervious Reaction Gain 6/level temporary hit points that last until the start of your next turn.
Jarring Block Reaction Block an attack, and potentially disarm.
Mithril Shell Reaction Make active defense against attack to negate; if still hit, gain +20 DR against that attack.
None Shall Pass Standard Enemies near you are immobilized, creatures coming near you also become immobilized, so long as you are armed.
Vigilance Swift Put an ally under your watchful eye.


7th-Level Defender Maneuvers
Maneuver Name Action Effect
Armored Trap Reaction Trap an enemy with your armor, preventing them from taking further actions.
Bastion Swift Provide your allies with cover.
Cyclonic Shell Crush Standard Make a shield bash attack against all adjacent enemies which inflicts an additional +4d6 points of damage and has the chance of dazing.
Iron Riposte Reaction Make active defense against attack. If successful, attack is negated, and make immediate attack against that creature with shield with +4d6 damage.
Protective Aegis Reaction When an ally is attacked, make an active defense against it. If you fail, provide DR 30/- against the attack.
Unlimited Aggression Swift Force all enemies within 60 ft. to attack you if they fail a Will save.


8th-Level Defender Maneuvers
Maneuver Name Action Effect
Adamantine Constitution Swift You gain heavy fortification.
Adamantine Shell Reaction Make active defense against attack to negate; if still hit, gain +40 DR against that attack.
Glorious Shell Shock Standard Powerful shield bash that inflicts an additional +4d6 points of damage to up to three adjacent enemies and sends them hurtling 20 ft away.
Grand Aegis Reaction Make an active defense against an attack. If you succeed, make a shield bash attack that deals triple damage.
Indestructible Reaction Gain 10/level temporary hit points until the start of your next turn.
Steadfast Mettle Reaction Gain the improved mettle ability against one effect.
Wall of Steel Swift Gain total concealment.


9th-Level Defender Maneuvers
Maneuver Name Action Effect
Immortal Reaction Become immune to death.
Invincibility Swift You cannot be hit.
Invulnerability Reaction Negate any and all damage, Force abilities, or harmful effects that would affect you and adjacent allies.



The following are a selection of feats that are relevant to defenders.


You are more talented than your experience would otherwise suggest.
Prerequisites: Character level 21st+.
Benefit: You gain a talent from the talent list of one of your classes.


Design Notes

The defender class is not an original concept. The basic idea was taken from the armiger class presented in Iron Heroes; however, I felt that adding the class as it was to Trinity was not appropriate, and ad hoc shoehorned it into the system without writing down anything I had done to do so.

Since, I have found a modification of the class, which I find appropriate. However, the usage of the armor tokens in that example proved difficult - ergo, I borrowed the rules found here (specifically Harry Pratt's armiger modifications), which made armor tokens much more manageable.

Having solved the vast majority of the problems in converting the armiger from IH to regular d20, I then added my own modifications to the class, resulting in what follows.

More recently (Dec '10), I have decided that the defender's armor abilities are a clunky mechanic. With the idea of streamlining the martial classes into a relatively unified whole - by which I mean, using a relatively similar system for the primary martial classes - I have modified the defender to use a maneuver system similar to the Einhander. Most of the maneuvers on the list were taken from the old armor abilities as well as this homebrew Tome of Battle discipline.

As of Dec '12, all dead levels have been removed. Also, the maneuver list has been expanded considerably, and defender talents are now in play. Many abilities have been introduced or improved to reflect the einhander's increase in damage - the defender should now be adequately able to handle vast quantities of damage with little to no effect. The defender has also gained a small amount of battlefield control ability, as well as defensive abilities that can be extended to others near him and otherwise encourage enemies to attack him instead of others.

Feb 24, 2017: Update to t20 v4. Per my notes on the revised defender, the mechanics here should vaguely resemble psionics... that'll be interesting.

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