Viking Campaign House Rules (draft)

Daz

Mongoose
Draft of rules overhaul for use in my upcoming Viking campaign. This will take place in a fantasy version of the real world (Norway 930 AD) instead of in Hyboria so I've done a lot of mucking around with the rules in order to change the flavor, make all classes dependent on more ability scores, rebalance some things and encourage more Vikingish fighting styles (light armor, heavy use of shields, lots of spear-chucking and lots of shield sundering).

Probably a lot of this isn't appropriate for a Conan game since the Conan stories have very different flavor than the Norse sagas, but I wanted to check here if any of the changes below would unbalance the game in some way that I'm not forseeing.

Race:

In the Conan RPG different cultural groups get different abilities.
Half-troll: As Hyperborian or Nordheimer (your choice) except favored classes are Barbarian or Scholar for both.
Default Norse: As Hyborian except +1 to defensive value when using a shield instead of weapon familiarity with greatswords.
Default Human: As Hyborian except free knowledge of one extra language or writing system instead of weapon familiarity with greatswords.
People from other cultures: Pick a race that fits your culture or just use default human.

Ability Score Remapping (done to keep non-casters from dumping their mental stats hard)
-Intelligence represents the ability to reason, Wisdom represents instinctual knowledge (for intelligence and wisdom think Jack London’s portrayal of civilized and savage ways of thinking respectively) and Charisma represents force of personality.
-Wisdom modifier affects initiative, not dex.
-Charisma modifier affects will saves, not wis.
-Dodge Value = Base dodge (from your class) + Dex modifier + Wisdom modifier – 2
-Parry Value = Base parry (from your class) + Str modifier + Int modifier – Dex penalty (if applicable) – 2

Miscellaneous:
-I’m rolling the Faith and Code of Honor system into a very simple Code of Conduct set-up. If you character has a strict Code of Conduct that comes from any source (their faith, their honor, the voices in their head) they get +2 to will saves as long as they follow that Code of Conduct and an xp penalty if they break it. Code of Conducts are completely optional but should limit player behavior in some way and not be “The Code of What I Was Going to do Anyway.”
-I’m not using the Reputation system or the High Living rules. Instead things that are “worthy of song” from a Viking point of view (such as giving away gold to your friends/family) will give you extra experience.
-To make the skills system easier, anything that is a class skill for any of your classes is always a class skill.
-I’ll be more flexible with Fate Point use and let you use them to get an automatic 20 at just about anything.
-Don’t roll for HPs instead d10 classes always get you 6 HPs, d8 classes always give you 5 HPs, and d6 classes always give you 4 HPs.

Combat System Tweaks
-Scrap max dexterity bonus values for armor. Instead armor gives you a penalty to your Parry Value of Total Armor Check Penalty/3 and to your Dodge Value of Total Armor Check Penalty/2 (round down)
-Having lots of armor makes it hard to move around and attack effectively. Take a -1 penalty to hit (including magical attack rolls) for every three points of non-shield armor check penalty (round down).
-No sorcery failure for casting in armor that you’re proficient in using, but you need at least one hand free to cast spells with a Somatic component.
-Damage reduction can’t reduce damage to less than one. Getting hit always hurts even if you have good armor.
-As written the Ranged Finesse feat is worthless. Now it works just like a regular finesse attack except you can only use it within 30 feet of the target (or 45 feet if you have the Farshot feat).
-Shields can always be used to up your Dodge Value in melee, not just against ranged weapons.
-Don’t loose shield bonus to AC even when flatfooted/feinted
-Power attack gives 1.5 bonus to two-handed weapons and .5 bonus to light weapons.
-To the hilt combat maneuver works against things with a DR if you make a finesse attack.
- -2 penalty to dodge value if there’s people or inanimate objects on four sides of you, -4 if none of those things are your allies.
- -4 penalty to your parry value if you have no weapon, -2 to your parry value if you have no weapon but have Improved Unarmed Attack feat, a broken weapon or some non-weapon hard object that you’re trying to block with (like a chair).
-Massive damage saves now require you to make a fort save with a DC of ½ of the damage dealt if the damage dealt is 20 HP or higher to avoid instant death. This tones them down a bit.
- -4 To rolls to avoid a sunder with shields (its not exactly easy to move a shield out of the way when someone’s trying to break it).
-If a sword gets sundered, unless its damaged by double its HP it gets bent instead of broken. Straightening out a bend sword takes a move action and provokes AoOs.

Non-Scholar Class Changes
-Barbarians don’t get the track feat for free.
-Borderers and Nomads get 5 skill points per level. Borderers get camouflage (same as D&D rangers) at level 13.
-Soldiers get 3 skill points per level.
-Nobles get 6 skill points per level.
-The Soldier’s Formation Combat ability now gives the +1 bonus to everyone within the range described in the ability who is using the same fighting style as him (heavy cavalry, light cavalry, heavy infantry or skirmisher) whether they have the formation ability or not. I’ll also let people come up with new Formation Combat abilities like archery or wild charge if they want something along those lines.
-Noble Special Regional Features for Vikings +1 bonus to attack roll with broadswords and one other weapon used by Norse nobility of the player’s choice, +1 to fort saves, +1 to either Knowledge: Geography, Genealogy, Law and Government, Local, Religion, or Sagas. For non-Viking nobles pick an appropriate set of Special Regional features for your cultural background from the table.
-A lot of the Noble social abilities don’t really fit Vikings. If you want you can have new ones that give you things like Athing legal loophole master, an ability to recognize who strangers and what their reputation is or something like that.

Magic/Sorcerers:
-No requirement to spend a certain number of skill points on knowledge skills.
-Whenever Scholars get “New Sorcery Style” they can instead choose an advanced spell in a style that they already know.
-Sorcerers can take Steely Gaze, Menacing Aura, and Poison Use as bonus feats as well as the ones listed and can take any bonus feat instead of Iron Will at 5th level.
-No rule of defense/defensive blast. Instead people who witness a horrifying act of Sorcery make a Terror of Unknown will saves with a DC of 10 + ½ of the Sorcerer’s scholar level or become frightened (-2 to the will save if below half HPs). Once a character passes a will save against a sorcerer they never have to make a terror save vs. spells cast by the sorcerer again. Note: this can trigger the Barbarian’s Crimson Mist ability.
-No rule of obsession.
-No rule of success.
-Energy drain works against other sorcerers only.
-You don’t need a master to gain new spells, but you have to learn them from SOMEWHERE! I’ll be nice about providing sources for you to learn spells from.
-I’ll give situational bonuses/penalties to PP gain to sacrificing things on the fly. For example you’ll gain more PP if you sacrifice a virgin princess than a tavern wench, bonuses for sacrificing a matching black animals to Odin by hanging them, waiting until the stars are right etc. etc. etc. Killing random horses won’t get you much of anything PP-wise.

Viking magic sorcerous styles (kinds of magic you’ll run into, many include new spells added by me):
Curses: Pretty self-explanatory, viewed negatively.
Galdr: Magic that’s based on ritual chanting and is good for reversing the power of other magic or protecting people against hostile magic. It is viewed positively by Vikings, especially if the practitioner is a female.
Hamfarir: Shape changing and animal related magic, viewed with distrust.
Runes: Runic magic that has a wide variety of effects but usually have very lost casting times. It is generally viewed positively by Vikings, especially if the practitioner is male.
Seithr: Witchcraft and various forms of mind-control, illusion and miscellaneous witchery. It is viewed very negatively, especially if the practitioner is male.
Spa: Prophesy and dream-related magic, which is viewed positively, especially if the practitioner is female.
Weather witching: Viewed positively.

Other forms of magic exist but are not generally used by Norse sorcerers.

Knowledge skills categories available to Viking characters: Arcana, Geography, Genealogy, Law and Government, Local, Religion, Sagas
Note: In my game /there’s no knowledge: nature (just take survival) or knowledge: dungeoneering (not many Viking dungeons).

Language System: You speak your native language for free, everything else costs skill points (Viking youths did not start off speaking four languages, no matter how smart they were). Right now you can find Norse speakers from Ireland to Russia so you don’t need that many other languages. Learning another language that’s in a different language family from any you already know costs 2 skill points, learning a language that is in the same language family as one you already know costs 1 skill point, learning to speak a specific dialect of a language that you already know without any accent costs 1 skill point, learning how to read one writing system (Latin alphabet, Runic alphabet, Arabic alphabet etc.) costs 2 skill points with every subsequent writing system you learn costing only 1 skill point. People with the scholar class start off literate in one writing system, everyone else is illiterate unless they pay the skill points for it (this is the Dark Ages after all).
Useful language: Proto-Norse for reading old inscriptions.

Weapons and armor easily available in Viking lands:
Notes on high quality weapons and armor:
Akbitanan weapons are basically heirloom-quality weapons for the purposes of this game. Up costs by 50% across the board while in Viking lands.
High quality armor and shields have -1 armor check penalty and cost double (that’s it).
Dagger
Hatchet
Knife
Club
Mace
Spear, Hunting: Change armor piercing to 2, change damage to 1d10, change range increment to 20 feet. Can be thrown while using a shield.
Spear, war: Change damage to 1d12, change armor piercing to 3, change range increment to 10 feet. Can’t be thrown while using a shield.
Staff
Bow, Hunting: Change armor piercing to 2
Javelin: Change to one-handed weapon. Can use used while wearing a shield.
Sling
Axe
Pommel
Sword, Short
Battleaxe
Broadsword
Warhammer (1d6 damage seems weak until you run into an opponent with the Iron Can’t Bite rune, no change)
Bardiche (cut damage to 2d8)
Bill (cut damage to 2d6)
Club, War
Pollaxe
Sword, War
Greatsword (cut damage to 2d8)
Longbows do not yet exist.
Composite bow count as Hyrkanian bows and are not available in Viking lands but do exist. Other forms of bows do not exist.
Scimitars etc. are available to foreigners but not in Viking lands.
Leather Jerkin
Mail Shirt (change cost to 600 SP, were rare in Viking lands)
Quilted Jerkin
Scale Corselet (made of bone or horn plates)
Mail Hauberk (change cost to 1200 SP, were rare in Viking lands).
Mail Hauberk and Scale Corselet (change cost to 1300 SP, were rare in Viking lands)
Scale Hauberk (made of bone or horn plates)
Steel Cap
Bucklers are only available to foreigners, Vikings didn’t use small metal shield
Shield, Large
Targe (fits description of smaller Viking shields)
 

Spectator

Mongoose
Dam I love it, tell me more about 'half trolls'
Also have you thought about giving certain racial differences between the different scandinavians? For example norwegians might be better mtn climbers, swedes =better woodsmen, danes = better farmers; you get the point, just a thought.

In any case I love it!!!
 

Daz

Mongoose
Half-trolls are people with a touch of troll ancestry. Tend to be big, bad-tempered and skilled with magic.

I'm not sure if seperating out Norwegians/Swedes/Danes would be appropriate because strong national identities are still centuries away in 930 AD.
 

Trodax

Mongoose
Spectator said:
Also have you thought about giving certain racial differences between the different scandinavians? For example norwegians might be better mtn climbers, swedes =better woodsmen, danes = better farmers; you get the point, just a thought.
Clearly Swedes are superior in regards to pretty much everything. I would probably have Swedes start out at two levels higher than everyone else and with maxed-out Charisma. :wink:

Daz said:
I'm not sure if seperating out Norwegians/Swedes/Danes would be appropriate because strong national identities are still centuries away in 930 AD.
On a more serious note, I do agree with this.
 

Etepete

Mongoose
A very nice set of changes that seem to be very well researched. There should indeed be no great difference between nordic nationalities, except of course between the Norse and the Sami and Finnish.

One thing I think you might reconsider though is giving non-Norse an extra language or writing system. It was not a particulary litterate age, and actually knowing to write should be an expetion or a sign of social status. (At a later stage, high medieval norse where actually more literate than those on the continent and british isles, since runes had by then travelled down the social ladder. Runic writing MIGHT have been this widespread during the viking age as well, but as always we lack findings.)

Anyway, literate dark age peasants, doesn't really seem to fit the bill.

Nice one on the half trolls. I like the focus on the magical aspect of trolls.
 

Daz

Mongoose
One thing I think you might reconsider though is giving non-Norse an extra language or writing system. It was not a particulary litterate age, and actually knowing to write should be an expetion or a sign of social status.
Good point. I'll change it to free language only. The reasoning there is that a non-Viking in Viking lands is probably well travelled and/or able to speak Norse.
 

Yogah of Yag

Mongoose
Wisdom modifier affects initiative, not dex.

What's the rationale behind this? And, consequently, wouldn't you have to add the base Will Save instead of base Reflex Save?

And troll means "magic" or somesuch. (Trollkarl=wizard, IIRC.)

Man, that's a lot of tweaking! :shock: :?


Skoal! :D
 

Daz

Mongoose
What's the rationale behind this?
Flavor: wisdom = instinct which helps with initiative
Gamey: An attempt to make the mental stats play a bigger role in combat and to have there be no obvious dump stats for any character which would promote more varied characters.

wouldn't you have to add the base Will Save instead of base Reflex Save
Nah.

Man, that's a lot of tweaking!
Indeed. Most of them don't have any real effect on day to day play and/or are limited to the magic system which needed some good heavy Vikingizing.
 

Etepete

Mongoose
Yogah of Yag said:
And troll means "magic" or somesuch. (Trollkarl=wizard, IIRC.)

I wrote a long post on this matter, but then I found a better abstract in wikipedia:

"The meaning of the word troll is uncertain. It might have had the originally meaning of supernatural or magical with an overlay of malignant and perilous. Another likely suggestion is that it means "someone who behaves violently". In old Swedish law, trolleri was a particular kind of magic intended to do harm. It should be noted that North Germanic terms such as trolldom (witchcraft) and trolla/trylle (perform magic tricks) in modern Scandinavian languages does not imply any connection with the mythical beings. Moreover, in the sources for Norse mythology, troll can signify any uncanny being, including but not restricted to the Norse giants (jötnar)."

As the swedish folklore scholar Ebbe Schön notes, trolls as big lumbering ogres is, if not a late invention at least historically not necessarily the image. Rather, it's a sense of otherness, and doing things backwards that is the defining point.

A lot of leeway could be given for different forms of Trolls, giants, Thurs and Rimthurs in a viking style game.
 

Trodax

Mongoose
Daz, I like the look of your game, many of the changes you're making I think are nice. A couple of points:

Daz said:
Ability Score Remapping (done to keep non-casters from dumping their mental stats hard)
-Intelligence represents the ability to reason, Wisdom represents instinctual knowledge (for intelligence and wisdom think Jack London’s portrayal of civilized and savage ways of thinking respectively) and Charisma represents force of personality.
-Wisdom modifier affects initiative, not dex.
-Charisma modifier affects will saves, not wis.
-Dodge Value = Base dodge (from your class) + Dex modifier + Wisdom modifier – 2
-Parry Value = Base parry (from your class) + Str modifier + Int modifier – Dex penalty (if applicable) – 2
I kind of like the Wisdom for Initiative and Charisma for Will save. That change I think you could do without affecting stuff too much.

The changes to Dodge and Parry I'm a little more hesitant to. From this change alone it's seems that the Parry-happy classes would benefit the most as I consider Str and Int to already be very useful abilities (Str for damage in combat, Int for the free-to-spend-anywhere skill points). OTOH, you're giving shield bonuses to Dodge as well as Parry so I don't know. You're making so many small changes that it's actually very hard to judge if it will be balanced without playtesting!

The penalty to the defences (-2) depends on how high abilities characters will have in you're game (PC and NPC). A lowly farmer with 10 in all stats could end up with pretty low defenses, but OTOH if you have characters with many high scores they might end up quite high. Just something to think about (I'm sure you have already).

-Scrap max dexterity bonus values for armor. Instead armor gives you a penalty to your Parry Value of Total Armor Check Penalty/3 and to your Dodge Value of Total Armor Check Penalty/2 (round down)
-Having lots of armor makes it hard to move around and attack effectively. Take a -1 penalty to hit (including magical attack rolls) for every three points of non-shield armor check penalty (round down).
The penalty to hit will probably mean that donning heavier armor is a pretty bad idea. I think that's what you want, though.

One thing I don't like from a game-design point of view is that you're dividing the armor check penalty (and then rounding down). This means that players will probably be going for certain armors mostly (armors with armor check penalty -2 will be vastly better than those with -3, for example).

If I were doing this, I would probably just stat up armor from scratch with the penalties and DR you want them to have, rather than trying to shoehorn in the existing ones.

-Massive damage saves now require you to make a fort save with a DC of ½ of the damage dealt if the damage dealt is 20 HP or higher to avoid instant death. This tones them down a bit.
Nice, although for my taste this will make it a little too easy (especially with the lowered damage for big weapons). Some alternatives could be (½ damage + 5) or (damage - 10). Just some variants to think about.
 

ottarrus

Cosmic Mongoose
This is outstanding work, Daz. It's well researched, clearly presented, and easily accessable for the average player.

I did alot of research into Dark Age (what was so dark about it?) cultures while I was in the SCA (a medieval re-creation group), as I thought they were under-represented outside of the Celtic/Norse spheres, and I have just two IMHO's... :lol:

Firstly, I agree with the poster that thought that the average peasant would not be literate. The times certainly didn't encourage a standard literacy base, as survival was more important than conceptual thinking. A man who could read runes was useful in the long run, but a jarl could sacrifice to the gods as much as a godi might (and in fact, there is saga evidence to say that a considerable minority of jarls were godi). A man who was furrow-wise was more immediately valued, however, as he directly enabled the steadfolk to survive in the long winter.

Lastly, I thought to fly an idea past you. What about d20 3.5 ed Dwarves as svartalfari? Change the racial personalities and impose a more avaricious, solitary culture on them, and change the descriptive texts and you'd have a working npc race to torment your players with. :)

Again, thanks for the great work!
 

Daz

Mongoose
For the combat stuff here's the basic rationales for my tweaks:
-Wanted to increase the relative power of sword and board fighting slightly since that's a very Viking form of fighting that almost nobody uses in d20 games. I did this by giving ethnic Vikings a bonus to shield defense, let people dodge with shields and by reducing the power of two-handed weapons slightly. To bring down the power of dodge a bit I gave it nastier situational modifiers.
-I wanted shield sundering to be a valid tactic since there's so much of it in the Sagas. I did this by making it a bit easier to hit a shield when you're trying to sunder it and by making shields more useful and worth sundering in the first place.
-I wanted to encourage (but not force) people to tend to wear lighter armor. I did this by putting in penalties to heavy armor use that are painful without being crippling. Armor is still good to have, but not a no-brainer.
-I wanted to up the survivability of characters slightly to compensate for the low DRs that they'll probably have. That's why there's Int and Wis to Parry and Dodge and easier massive damage saves.
-I wanted to make the mental stats more useful in combat since its annoying to me when there's characters who're gods of melee but useless at anything else and characters who can do all kinds of non-combat fun stuff but are useless in combat. By making the mental stats more useful outside of combat, I hope to get a more balanced bunch of characters who can always contribute.

New feat (might already be something like this in the sourcebooks that I don't have): armored grace: reduces armor check penalties by 2.
 

Daz

Mongoose
Thanks for the feedback everyone!

I kind of like the Wisdom for Initiative and Charisma for Will save. That change I think you could do without affecting stuff too much.
And it makes Wisdom and Charisma both useful in combat, which is good. I was a little tired of Charisma being the perennial dump stat.

The changes to Dodge and Parry I'm a little more hesitant to...You're making so many small changes that it's actually very hard to judge if it will be balanced without playtesting!
Indeed, but instead of looking at it from a changes perspective, look at it from a perspective of what's the differences after the changes:
-Dodge is useful against ranged weapons.
-Dodge has nastier situational modifiers.
-They're based on different stats.

I think that's about balanced, with maybe parry having a slight edge due to str/int being slightly better stats than dex/wis but then the classes that get better parry than dodge progressions (soldiers and nobles) aren't exactly powerhouses (especially with me piling on penalties on armor) tha I don't think that will be a problem, but I could be wrong.

The penalty to the defences (-2) depends on how high abilities characters will have in you're game (PC and NPC). A lowly farmer with 10 in all stats could end up with pretty low defenses, but OTOH if you have characters with many high scores they might end up quite high. Just something to think about (I'm sure you have already).
Yeah, I'm worried about that myself. Can you think of a more elegant system in which wis and int would impact parry and dodge. I was thinking of doing average your str and int bonuses and add one to get your parry bonus but I think that would complicate things too much.

This means that players will probably be going for certain armors mostly (armors with armor check penalty -2 will be vastly better than those with -3, for example).
Right but then I'll be able to throw high quality armor into the mix and the Armored Grace feat. Also there isn't any armor that gives you -2 armor check penalties except for how I'm going to handle high quality chain shirts. Which means that high quality chain shirts will be a VERY sought-after form of armor which is fine by me since they're going to be damn expensive and there WERE very sought after historically.

Nice, although for my taste this will make it a little too easy (especially with the lowered damage for big weapons). Some alternatives could be (½ damage + 5) or (damage - 10). Just some variants to think about.
Right, I want to make massive damage saves easier to pass but I'm not sure how how much....

Lastly, I thought to fly an idea past you. What about d20 3.5 ed Dwarves as svartalfari? Change the racial personalities and impose a more avaricious, solitary culture on them, and change the descriptive texts and you'd have a working npc race to torment your players with.
Well in D&D game based on the real world that's exactly what I did:
-Dwarves = svartalfar
-Halflings = basque
-Gnomes = Jews
-Elves = Black Irish
-Half-elves = Celts
-Orcs = Huns/Avars/Mongols/etc.
-Goblins = lumpenproletariat

Was fairly interesting :)
 

Etepete

Mongoose
I think that stat-wise the closest bet for Dwarfs/Svartalfer would be Gnomes. Maybe with increased strength. Both Dwarfs, Gnomes and Goblins could be used for various version of these devious creatures.

Now, regarding other "races", I wouldn't worry about stats for Elves or Fylgior or any other half-deities, they should rather be viewed as protector deities. There might be a thought to reintroduce a Cleric class which would be a Godi type of person who calls on the powers of the Light Elves and the Fylgior of his family to work magic.
 

Trodax

Mongoose
Daz said:
Can you think of a more elegant system in which wis and int would impact parry and dodge. I was thinking of doing average your str and int bonuses and add one to get your parry bonus but I think that would complicate things too much.
A couple of ideas (I'll use Parry as the example, but the same could go for Dodge of course):

* Use the lowest of Str and Int to modify Parry.
(This will encourage well-rounded characters without extreme scores, if you like that thing.)

* Str modifies Parry, but you take a -1 penalty if your Int mod is lower than your Str mod, or a +1 bonus if your Int mod is higher than your Str mod.
(This makes Str more important than Int. Unfortunately, for a high-Str character, you might as well dump a really low score into Int as you'll be taking the -1 penalty regardless. That's what you want to avoid, right?)

* Str modifies Parry, but you take a -1 penalty if you have a negative Int mod, or a +1 bonus if you have a positive Int modifier.
(As above, Str is more important. It will at least strongly encourage warriors to be decently intelligent (Int 12)).

I don't know, none of these is perfect I think. Perhaps your idea of taking the average of Str and Int is better.
 

Krushnak

Mongoose
instead of making mental stats have such a huge and direct influence on physical combat, which i think they really shouldnt have that much of an influence but still some is use a new feat.

Instinctual fighting:
prerequisites: wis 13, spot and listen 5 ranks, alertness.
benefit: you may add your wisdom to your dv(both dodge and parry)

it is afterall more likely to have wise fighters more often than not than intellectual fighters when the majority are illiterate and that kind of combat isnt really encourage by the culture.

i really dont like the penalties you are giving to heavy armour. i dont see any need to change the game mechanics there just severely limit its availability and include armour decay if the character doesnt take care of the precious item.
 

Daz

Mongoose
Krushnak said:
Instinctual fighting:
prerequisites: wis 13, spot and listen 5 ranks, alertness.
benefit: you may add your wisdom to your dv(both dodge and parry)

it is afterall more likely to have wise fighters more often than not than intellectual fighters when the majority are illiterate and that kind of combat isnt really encourage by the culture.

I like, I like. I'm going to modify it a bit but the idea's great and very elegant. I like the basic idea a lot more than Combat Master/Analyist since it doesn't require any additional bookkeeping or checks that'd slow down combat.

As far as armor goes, the flavor of Norse Sagas would make it somewhat harder to make it hard to keep good armor hard to get long term. The Saga heros aren't penniless wanderers like Conan usually was, they're people who usually end up getting relatively rich and own large farms and boats. A whole bunch of Saga plots that I have in mind wouldn't work unless the players end up owning a large chunk of land (inheiritance disputes, unruly neighbors, etc.) eventually and if they own a large farm with a dozen or two farmhands it would get harder to justify them not being able to get their hands on decent armor.

So instead I think I'll keep the armor penalties and give people a short feat tree that reduces the penalties.
 

Daz

Mongoose
I think I'll use these feats:

A Mind Sharper than Steel
Prerequisites: Int 15, Blind fighting
Benefit: +2 to all (non-magic) attack roles

A Mind Sharper than Steel, Improved
Prerequisites: Int 19, A Mind Sharper than Steel
Benefit: an additional +2 to all (non-magic) attack roles

Armored Grace
Prerequisites: Str 13, Dex 13
Benefits: -2 to armor check penalties

Armored Grace, Improved
Prerequisites: Str 17, Dex 17, Armored Grace, BaB 5+
Benefits: An additional -2 to armor check penalties

Instinctual Fighting
Prerequisites: Wis 15, Alertness
Benefit: +2 to Defensive Value even when feinted or flat-footed

Instinctual Fighting, Improved
Prerequisites: A Mind Sharper than Steel, Wis 19
Benefit: An additional +2 to Defensive Value even when feinted or flat-footed
 
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