Like with the kengo, I tried to take what I felt was too narrow and equipment-dependant an idea (weapon mastery there, armor focus here) and make it more general. The stalwart isn't the "armored guy", he's the "tough guy".
But while the kengo was designed to make the wapanese in me happy, the stalwart is much more rooted in western ideals of knights in shining armor or strong, silent gunslingers: tough, driven, competent. Nothing too showy, but he gets it done. If the kengo fights like water then the stalwart is the rock- stable, direct and unyielding.
"One source of inspiration for the kengo was Clash of Blades, by Ian Watt. Similarly, a big inspiration for this class was Gareth in A Handful of Sand. Odds are the author is an armiger fan who will wish to choke me for this, but in my mind Tucker is definitely a stalwart. He isn't really fixated on his armor, and it isn't at the core of his fighting style; he's good with armor, yea, but he's mainly just a brave and persistant fighter. And that's enough.
That's the kind of guy the stalwart class is for.
The best offense is a good defense, says the stalwart. He is the wall which stops armies, the shield that shelters friends, the stone on which foes break their teeth. He is a warrior's warrior, a tower of strength and stability amid the tumult and chaos of combat, and there is no foe whom he dare not face in an honest fight.
A stalwart's approach to combat is simple- hit them head-on, show no weaknesses for your enemies to exploit, and you will
persevere. It would be a fatal error to mistake him for a common brute, however- his wooden tenacity, steely will and iron-clad courage carry him far past the
point where lesser men would have laid down and died.
Constitution is the backbone of the stalwart class. Even with a low con a stalwart is no pushover, but in order to truly excel he must not hesitate to put himself in harm's way. A stalwart's offense usually depends on strength (these fighters hold their ground rather than dancing and dodging about, and a high dexterity would avail them little). Some stalwart may find intelligence useful for its roll in tactics feats, though there are always those who get along just fine without it.
Hit die: 1d4+8/level
The stalwart gains access to the athletics skill group. Many also buy ranks in perception skills, which are as useful to a seasoned lieutenant as they are to a city watchman or professional bodyguard.
Skill Points at 1st Level: (4 + Intelligence modifier) X 4
Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 4 + Intelligence modifier
BASE ATTACK AND DEFENSE
Weapon and Armor Proficiencies:The stalwart is proficient with all simple and martial weapons, all armor and all shields.
The Long Haul:
Multiclass stalwart only apply this bonus to hp derived from stalwart levels (calculate what the character's hitpoints would be without any levels in other classes- but including those granted by feats or traits- and grant him bonus reserve points equal to half this sum).
At level 5 this bonus increases to +2.
Tough as Nails:
Add the negative of your level to your "disabled" and "dying" thresholds (so a level 2 stalwart is disabled at 0, -1, or -2 hitpoints, dying at -3, and must save vs. death at -12).
You gain Toughness as a bonus feat. If you already have this feat, you may choose any other feat with a mastery rating of 1 or less that you qualify for.
Strong as an Ox:
Add the stalwart's constitution bonus (if positive) to his strength score; treat this as his new strength score for purposes of resisting trip, grapple, overrun and bullrush attempts, as well as to determine how much gear he can carry and how easily. For instance, a stalwart with a Str of 15 and a Con of 16 would have an effective strength score of 18 (and thus a +4 bonus) for these purposes.
You gain Endurance as a bonus feat. If you already have this feat, you may choose any other feat with a mastery rating of 1 or less that you qualify for.
Stubborn as Hell:
Whenever you fail a will save (or another roll made in place of a will save) to diminish or negate any effect, you may make a new will save (and only a will save) at the beginning of your next turn. If successful, you either reduce or throw off the effect, as appropriate. Even if you fail, you may keep attempting new saves at the beginning of your turn (once per round per effect) for the rest of the fight.
Out of combat, you may attempt a new save every ten minutes for the first hour and (for long-term mental domination and the like) at least once per day thereafter, up to a number of days equal to your constitution bonus.
You gain Diehard as a bonus feat. If you already have this feat, you may choose any other feat with a mastery rating of 2 or less that you qualify for.
Armor Training: You treat all manufactured armor as one size category lighter. You also increase its max dex bonus by +1, and decrease its armor check penalty by 1 (minimum 0).
Bite the Bullet: Once per round, when an attack against you would have missed, you may allow it to hit you. After this attack is resolved, you may make an attack of opportunity against the attacker.
If you use this attack to make a disarm attempt you do not provoke an attack of opportunity in turn or risk being disarmed yourself.
Brace Yourself: As a standard action at the beginning of a fight, you may draw strength from deep within you, bracing yourself for the trial to come. You may spend up to 2 reserve points per Stalwart level, in order to gain 1 temporary hitpoint for every 2 reserve points spent.
Just a Flesh Wound: Stalwart soldier on in spite of wounds which look like they would drop a lesser mortal. Whenever an attack deals sneak-attack damage to you, scores a critical hit, or gains some other type of precision-based damage (at dm's discretion), you may make a fortitude save to reduce this damage (but not the attack's base damage) by half. Add your total DR roll as a bonus to this save. The difficulty class equals the enemy's attack roll (or the conformation roll for a crit).
Dogged Adversary: At any point during a fight you may select a foe. You gain a +2 bonus to attacks of opportunity against that opponent, and any time you threaten them they take a -2 penalty to attacks against anyone but you.
If that foe tries to escape you you gain a +2 moral bonus to any rolls made to pursue them (climb or swim checks to follow, strength checks to kick down doors, overrun checks to trample bodyguards, etc).
Grit: Displaying a steely will and exceptional ability to compensate for adversity in combat, you reduce by half any and all penalties to attacks, damage rolls, saves or checks which an enemy attack or ability might impose, magical or otherwise. This bonus also extends to environmental effects (such as sticky tar dumped on you by a kobold trap), but never to penalties which result from your own feats, abilities or equipment (such as the penalty imposed by the Power Attack feat).
Human Fortress: Any ally of yours may (if you desire) enter your square as a standard action. For the rest of the round they may use your defense in place of their own if it is higher, and you may automatically take the damage from any attack directed against them, provided that the attack does not exceed your defense by 10 or more. Likewise, if you are both subjected to an area effect with a reflex save for half damage, you may fail your save voluntarily to cover for them: if either of your save results are high enough they take half, and if both saves succeed they take no damage rather than half (as if they had the evasion class feature or stood behind improved cover).
You suffer a -2 penalty to attack rolls while covering for an ally in this way, and they must spend a standard action every turn in order to continue ducking and dodging behind you.
Unless his body is physically destroyed (by dealing another 50 points of damage to it), the deceased stalwart may take one more partial action at any point in the next five rounds, like the severed head of a snake which can still sting the unwary hand.
At 14th level this improves to 2/- (or a +2 bonus to DR rolls), at 18th level to 3/- (or +3), and at 20th to 4/- (or +4).
Why Won't He Die:
The tenacity of some heroes transcends the frailty of the flesh.
A 20th level stalwart who would be killed in combat continues to act as if alive (albet disabled) until 2d4 rounds have elapsed or until he has taken an additional 75 points of damage. During this time he gains a +10 bonus to all attacks, saves and checks, and all his attacks deal maximum damage.
PLAYING A STALWART
Though military academies can easily produce stalwart, this also seems like one of the classes most likely to arise without any formal training: their abilities have less to do with what they know and more to do with the stuff they're made of. They might be the sons of kings or the sons of slaves- anywhere one might find a stout heart and a sword or hammer, one might find a stalwart. But it is rarely a comfortable life which forges a man or woman such as this; when a warrior seems untroubled by suffering it is often because he has known little else.
Often, the stalwart's mental (and physical) strength is the result of years of rigid discipline and conditioning, and this military or religious grooming shines through in their fine-chiseled manners. Others are just crotchety old bastards from birth, rough-edged and hard as hickory, and make no more apologies for their words than for the blows they land in combat; others still have no love for words at all, letting their eyes (or their blades) do the talking.
In Shining Armor: In a world where battlescars serve as badge of ranks and where dying in an honest fight is better
than winning by trickery, the stalwart becomes the standard by which all others are judged. These warriors wear the most expensive armor, ride the finest of
steeds, and join battle for lord, faith, friendship or country without hesitation or regret. Their valor becomes the stuff of song, and their iron-clad
devotion burns as a shining example to those under them.
Street Toughs: In this model, the virtues of the common warrior are held in low esteem- they are regarded as naught but thugs, sloppy and unrefined, who wear pounds of metal to stop the attacks that they're too dim to dodge. Flashy fencers and dance-fighters are held in high regard by the decadent nobility, performing scenarios far-removed from the tumult of a real fight, while simpler combatants are relegated to the rolls of bodyguards or leg-breakers. Few among them covet the glory of their lessors, however; they grow streetwise and hardy amid the rats and the assassins, and those who survive year after year become men and women to be reckoned with.
Get into the thick of things and stay there. You are the team's anvil- if enemies are attacking you, that means they aren't attacking your more-fragile friends, which leaves them free to employ their own unique talents without fear. Even (or especially) in seemingly-insignificant battles this is important- if the harrier or the executioner get to enter the final confrontation with full (rather than half) hitpoints, they can afford to stand all the bolder at your side. If you aren't being attacked or harassed by enemies, you're doing something wrong.
Due to their hitpoints as well as their several resistances, stalwart can afford to take risks that others can't. For example, a stalwart with Stubborn as Hell is very hard to pin down with mental effects- if anyone is going to try charging through the curtain of shifting, howling shadows which the barron's witch casts about herself, it should probably be you.
STALWART CLASS FEATURES BY LEVEL:
1.....The Long Haul, Guts +1
2.....Tough as Nails
3.....Strong as an Ox
4.....Stubborn as Hell
20....DR 4, Why Won't He Die
This kind of goes without saying around here, but just to reitterate, ANY sort of feedback is appreciated. I have pretty thick skin; you won't always change my mind but you're not going to offend me either.