In the far east, there is a group of civilizations with a practice that was honed into an art over the centuries. Unlike the beautiful art of the Renaissance, or the musical art created by a bard, this art is martial. Its paint the color-filled bruises and blood cast by the melodic movements of the practitioner’s fists and feet. Years of training and discipline are the backbone to this art, and those who manage to master these traits ascend to the rank of black belt. Deadly even with nothing in her hands, a black belt shirks the cumbersome weight of a fighter’s heavy armor, forgoes the unreliable mysticism of the monk, focusing only on perfecting her many styles of brutal unarmed combat. Versatile, agile, and able to adapt, the black belt’s body is a powerful weapon, at home on any battlefield.
Role: Black belts are maneuverable, well-suited for the personal combat of the frontline. They excel at creating flanking situation, and grappling their enemies. With the ability to tap into their body’s own heightened endurance, they are able to maintain a threatening presence in the front line. Capable of enduring the hits of many foes, dealing substantial amounts of damage, and redirecting the flow of the battlefield when necessary; the black belt truly shines in her adaptability and versatility.
Hit Die: d10
Parent Classes: Fighter and Monk
Starting Wealth: 3d6 × 10 gil (average 105 gil.) In addition, each character begins play with an outfit worth 10 gil or less.
The black belt’s class skills are Acrobatics (Dex), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Escape Artist (Dex), Handle Animal (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (dungeoneering) (Int), Knowledge (local) (Int), Perception (Wis), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), and Swim (Str).
Skill Points Per Level: 4 + Int modifier
Table: Black Belt
The following are the class features of the black belt.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency
A black belt is proficient with any light or one-handed weapon with the “monk” special feature as well as weapons from the close fighter weapon group. She is also proficient with light armor and shields (except tower shields).
Limit Breaks (Su)
At 1st level, the black belt receives the Limit Breaks (Hundred Fists and Unstoppable).
Hundred Fists (Su): This Limit Break allows the black belt to unleash a secret martial technique. For a duration of 1 round + 1 round per four black belt levels after 1st, for every attack the black belt makes (including attacks made with weapons), she may make a separate unarmed attack at the same iterative attack bonus against the same target, provided they are valid targets for unarmed attacks. These additional attacks can be made any time a black belt rolls an attack roll that would result in direct damage. This includes attacks of opportunity or extra attacks from master’s flurry as well as haste effects that grant an additional attack. Attack rolls that would not directly result in damage, such as a touch attack to begin a grapple, do not allow for these extra attacks. This limit break requires only a swift action.
Unstoppable (Su): This Limit Break allows the black belt through sheer force of will to pull from a vast well of untapped energy, creating a nearly unstoppable force in battle. For a duration of 1 round + 1 round per four black belt levels after 1st, the black belt acts if under Freedom of Movement and becomes immune to all fear and charm effects as well as any spells or conditions which would limit the black belt’s actions, as defined by any state that limits her ability to take normal move, swift, and standard actions each round. If the black belt is already under an effect or spell which limits her movements or actions, those effects end as if they were immediately removed or expired. Ability score penalties and damage do not affect the black belt in this state, and movement penalties for difficult terrain are ignored. If a black belt drops to -1, she is considered to have the Diehard feat. If a black belt is dropped below negative hit points equal to her Constitution score during this duration, she may roll a Fortitude save equal to 10 + her negative hit point value to retain her ability to act normally. A new save is rolled each time damage is received using her new negative hit point value (IE: a black belt with a 10 Constitution is at -10 hit points must succeed on a DC 20 Fortitude save to remain standing, and if damaged again to -17 hit points, a DC 27 Fortitude save to stave off death once again). If Unstoppable ends with the black belt having negative hit points equal to her Constitution score, she immediately dies. This limit break requires only a swift action.
Martial Cunning (Ex)
If the black belt’s Intelligence score is less than 13, it counts as 13 for the purpose of meeting the prerequisites of combat feats.
Martial Flexibility (Ex)
A black belt can take a move action to gain the benefit of a combat feat she doesn’t possess. This effect lasts for 1 minute. The black belt must meet all the feat’s prerequisites. She may use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + 1/2 her black belt level (minimum 1). The black belt can use this ability again before the duration expires in order to replace the previous combat feat with another choice. If a combat feat has a daily use limitation (such as Stunning Fist), any uses of that combat feat while using this ability count toward that feat’s daily limit.
At 6th level, a black belt 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.
At 10th level, a black belt can use this ability to gain the benefit of three combat feats at the same time. She may select one feat as a free action, two feats as a swift action, or three feats as a move action. She may use one of the feats to meet a prerequisite of the second and third feats, and use the second feat to meet a prerequisite of the third feat. Each individual feat selected counts toward her daily uses of this ability.
At 12th level, a black belt can use this ability to gain the benefit of one combat feat as an immediate action or three combat feats as a swift action. Each individual feat selected counts toward her daily uses of this ability.
At 20th level, a black belt can use this ability to gain the benefit of any number of combat feats as a swift action. Each feat selected counts toward her daily uses of this ability.
Martial Training (Ex)
At 1st level, a black belt counts her total black belt levels as both fighter levels and monk levels for the purpose of qualifying for feats. She also counts as both a fighter and a monk for feats and magic items that have different effects based on whether the character has levels in those classes (such as Stunning Fist and a monk’s robe). This ability does not automatically grant feats normally granted to fighters and monks based on class level, namely Stunning Fist.
Tough Skin (Ex)
At 1st level, the black belt gains DR 2/- against nonlethal damage. This damage resistance increases by 2 at 4th level and every three black belt levels thereafter.
Unarmed Strike (Ex)
At 1st level, a black belt gains Improved Unarmed Strike as a bonus feat. A black belt may attack with fists, elbows, knees, and feet. This means that a black belt may make unarmed strikes with her hands full. A black belt applies her full Strength modifier (not half) on damage rolls for all her unarmed strikes. Usually, a black belt’s unarmed strikes deal lethal damage, but she can choose to deal nonlethal damage instead with no penalty on her attack roll. She has the same choice to deal lethal or nonlethal damage while grappling. A black belt’s unarmed strike is treated as both a manufactured weapon and a natural weapon for the purpose of spells and effects that modify either manufactured weapons or natural weapons. A black belt also deals more damage with her unarmed strikes than others, as shown on the table below. The unarmed damage values listed on that table are for Medium black belts. A Small black belt deals less damage than the amount given there with her unarmed attacks, while a Large black belt deals more damage; see the following table.
Table: Small, Medium, or Large Black Belt Unarmed Damage
|Level||Damage (Small)||Damage (Medium)||Damage (Large)|
|1st – 3rd||1d4||1d6||1d8|
|4th – 7th||1d6||1d8||2d6|
|8th – 11th||1d8||1d10||2d8|
|12th – 15th||1d10||2d6||3d6|
|16th – 19th||2d6||2d8||3d8|
Shrug It Off (Ex)
At 2nd level, a black belt’s body are regularly subjected to punishment and stress from various and diverse sources. This training leads to the point where she can convert part of the damage she receives into nonlethal damage, no matter the source. The amount of lethal damage she can convert to non-lethal at once is equal to her black belt level plus her Constitution modifier. The amount of damage that can be converted increases by 5 at 5th level and an additional 5 at 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th, and 20th levels. Additionally, the black belt treats non-lethal damage as lethal damage when determining if he can activate Limit Breaks.
Starting at 2nd level, the black belt can gain aggression points when certain conditions are met. At the start of each day, the black belt can select active aggression or passive aggression; this choice affects how she can gain aggression points that day.
Active Aggression: The black belt gains 1 aggression point whenever she confirms a critical hit or reduce a foe’s hit points to 0 with an unarmed strike, any “monk” weapon or weapon from the close fighter weapon group. She cannot gain aggression points this way if the foe is helpless or possesses less than half as many hit dice as the black belt possesses character levels.
Passive Aggression: The black belt gains 1 aggression point whenever an enemy threatens a critical hit against her or whenever she fails a Fortitude-based saving throw. She cannot gain aggression points this way if the critical threat or saving throw was not the result of an enemy’s hostile actions.
The black belt cannot possess a number of aggression points greater than half her Constitution modifier (minimum 1). Temporary increases to Constitution (such as from a dwarf’s endurance) do not increase this limit. At the end of each full minute during which the black belt does not gain an aggression point, she loses 1 aggression point. For as long as she possesses at least 1 aggression point, the black belt receives a bonus on attacks rolls equal to the number of aggression points she possesses for attacks made with unarmed strikes, any “monk” weapons, or weapons from the close fighter weapon group.
Master’s Flurry (Ex)
Starting at 2nd level, a black belt can make a master’s flurry as a full-attack action. When doing so, a black belt has the Two-Weapon Fighting feat when attacking with any combination of unarmed strikes or one-handed weapons with the “monk” special feature. She does not need to use two different weapons to use this ability. A black belt applies her full Strength modifier to her damage rolls for all attacks made with master’s flurry, whether the attacks are made with an off-hand weapon or a weapon wielded in both hands. A black belt can substitute disarm, sunder, and trip combat maneuvers for unarmed attacks as part of master’s flurry. A black belt with natural weapons can’t use such weapons as part of master’s flurry, nor can she make natural weapon attacks in addition to her master’s flurry attacks.
At 8th level, the black belt gains use of the Improved Two-Weapon Fighting feat when using master’s flurry. At 15th level, she gains use of the Greater Two-Weapon Fighting feat when using master’s flurry.
Martial Art Talents
As a black belt gains experience, she learns a number of talents that aid her and confound her foes. Starting at 2nd level, the black belt gains one martial art talent. She gains an additional martial art talent for every 2 levels of black belt attained after 2nd level. Unless specified otherwise, a black belt cannot select an individual talent more than once.
- A complete list of martial art talents can be found here: Martial Art Talents
Maneuver Training (Ex)
At 3rd level, a black belt can select one combat maneuver to receive additional training. She gains a +1 bonus on combat maneuver checks when performing that combat maneuver and a +1 bonus to her CMD when defending against that maneuver.
At 7th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the black belt becomes further trained in another combat maneuver, gaining the above +1 bonus combat maneuver checks and to CMD. In addition, the bonuses granted by all previous maneuver training increase by 1 each. (For example, if a black belt chooses grapple at 3rd level and sunder at 7th level, her bonuses to grapple are +2 and bonuses to sunder are +1. If she then chooses bull rush upon reaching 11th level, her bonuses to grapple are +3, to sunder are +2, and to bull rush are +1.)
AC Bonus (Ex)
Also at 3rd level, when a black belt wears light or no armor, she gains a +1 dodge bonus to AC and CMD. This bonus increases by 1 at 7th, 11th, 15th, and 19th levels. These bonuses to AC apply against touch attacks. She loses these bonuses while immobilized or helpless, wearing medium or heavy armor, or carrying a medium or heavy load.
At 4th level, once per day, a black belt can unleash a devastating attack that can instantly knock a target unconscious. She must announce this intent before making her attack roll. If the black belt hits and the target takes damage from the blow, the target must succeed at a Fortitude saving throw (DC 10 + half of the black belt’s level + her Strength or Dexterity modifier) or fall unconscious for 1d6 rounds. Each round on its turn, the unconscious target may attempt a new saving throw to end the effect as a full-round action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity. Creatures immune to critical hits or nonlethal damage are immune to this ability. At 10th level, the black belt may use this ability twice per day; at 16th level, she may use it three times per day.
Master’s Strike (Ex)
At 5th level, a black belt’s unarmed strikes are treated as magic weapons for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction. At 9th level, her unarmed attacks are also treated as cold iron and silver for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction. At 12th level, she chooses one alignment component: chaotic, evil, good, or lawful; her unarmed strikes also count as this alignment for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction. (This alignment component cannot be the opposite of the black belt’s actual alignment, such as a good black belt choosing evil strikes.) At 17th level, her unarmed attacks are also treated as adamantine weapons for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction and bypassing hardness.
Weapon Mastery (Ex)
At 5th level, a black belt’s damage with her weapons increases. When wielding a one-handed weapon she is proficient in, she uses the unarmed strike damage of a black belt four levels lower instead of the base damage for that weapon (for example, a 5th-level Medium black belt wielding a punching dagger deals 1d6 points of damage instead of the weapon’s normal 1d4). If the weapon normally deals more damage than this, its damage is unchanged. This ability does not affect any other aspect of the weapon. The black belt can decide to use the weapon’s base damage instead of her adjusted unarmed strike damage—this must be declared before the attack roll is made.
Aggressive Assault (Ex)
At 6th level, when performing an attack or a full-attack action, the black belt can expend one aggression point to allow one attack made as part of that action to ignore an amount of the target’s damage resistance or hardness equal to half her black belt level. If the target possesses both damage resistance and hardness, this ability causes the attack to ignore damage resistance only.
At 7th level, a black belt can clear her mind of all distractions to gain focus on the battle in front of her. Any time a black belt uses the Total Defense action in combat and is able to perceive at least one foe, she also gains the Focus status. This grants her a +5 insight bonus to her next attack roll. In addition to this bonus, the black belt’s next melee attack also deals double damage. This insight bonus stacks with itself and each application of Focus increases the damage multiplier by 1 (thus a black belt that uses focus two times before attacking will have a +10 insight bonus to her next attack roll and deal three times normal damage if it is a melee attack). This damage bonus is additive with all other damage multipliers as normal, such as from critical hits. Focus cannot stack with itself more than three times. The status remains until the black belt makes her next attack roll or combat ends. The Focus state is always expended on the black belt’s next attack, even if it misses or is interrupted.
Exploit Weakness (Ex)
At 7th level, as a swift action, a black belt can observe a creature or object to find its weak point by succeeding at a Wisdom check, adding her black belt level against a DC of 10 + the object’s hardness or the target’s CR. If it succeeds, the black belt gains a +2 bonus on attack rolls until the end of her turn, and any attacks she makes until the end of her turn ignore the creature or object’s DR or hardness.
A black belt can instead use this ability as a swift action to analyze the movements and expressions of one creature within 30 feet, granting a bonus on Sense Motive checks and Reflex saving throws, as well as a dodge bonus to AC against that opponent equal to half her black belt level until the start of her next turn.
Burst of Aggression (Su)
At 9th level, by expending one aggression point as a move action, the black belt can select one martial arts talent she does not possess, and gain its benefits for as long as she possesses at least 1 aggression point. She can only select one martial arts talent to benefit from at a time in this way; if she selects a new one, she immediately lose the benefits of the one previously chosen.
At 11th level, once per round, the black belt can make an attack of opportunity against an opponent who has just been struck for damage in melee by another character. This attack counts as an attack of opportunity for that round. She cannot use this ability more than once per round, even if she has the Combat Reflexes feat or a similar ability. At 19th level, she can use this ability twice per round.
Advanced Martial Art Talents
At 12th level, and every two levels thereafter, a black belt can choose one of the following advanced martial art talents in place of a martial art talent.
- A complete list of advanced martial art talents can be found here: Advanced Martial Art Talents
Awesome Blow (Ex)
At 13th level, the black belt can as a standard action perform an awesome blow combat maneuver against a corporeal creature of her size or smaller. If the combat maneuver check succeeds, the opponent takes damage as if the black belt hit it with the close weapon she is wielding or an unarmed strike, it is knocked flying 10 feet in a direction of the black belt’s choice, and it falls prone. The black belt can only push the opponent in a straight line, and the opponent can’t move closer to the black belt than the square it started in. If an obstacle prevents the completion of the opponent’s move, the opponent and the obstacle each take 1d6 points of damage, and the opponent is knocked prone in the space adjacent to the obstacle. (Unlike the Awesome Blow monster feat, the black belt can be of any size to use this ability.)
Aggressive Onslaught (Ex)
At 13th level, when performing a full-attack action, the black belt can expend one aggression point to allow all attacks made as part of that action to ignore an amount of the targets’ damage resistance or hardness equal to half her black belt level. If the targets possess both damage resistance and hardness, this ability causes the attacks to ignore damage resistance only.
Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique (Ex)
At 18th level, studying the anatomy and spiritual flow of living creatures to so much of an extent allows a black belt to kill opponents with a single, deadly blow, also known as the fabled dim mak. Once per day, as a full-round action, a black belt may use the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique. The black belt makes a touch attack against her victim, and if successful, the target must make a Fortitude save (DC 10 + half of the black belt’s level + his Strength or Dexterity modifier). If a black belt is in the Focus state, the DC to save against this effect increases by 2. If the victim fails this save, its heart will explode once the victim willingly moves at least 25 feet, killing it instantly. This technique is considered a death effect and protection against such will negate it. Constructs, oozes, plants, undead, creatures without hearts, and creatures immune to critical hits cannot be affected. Forced movement does not trigger this and the movement does not have to be all at once or in the same direction, but instead is a cumulative total since the creature became afflicted. A creature suffering from this technique that has not yet died is in a state of extreme physical duress. This results in being exhausted as well as receiving one point of Constitution damage at the start of each turn (if a creature’s Constitution score reaches zero its heart is considered to have exploded). A black belt can remove another black belt’s Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique by expending her daily ability to reverse it as a standard action. A restored creature recovers any Constitution damage suffered because of the technique at a rate of one point per hour. There is no other known cure aside from magical protection against death effects, and there is no other way to remove this status once it is obtained. A black belt is incapable of using this technique on herself, either for harm or to reverse another black belt’s attempt. Anyone that sees the black belt perform this ability may use a Knowledge (History) check (DC 20) to recollect this mythical ability or a Heal check (DC 25) to spot and recognize the consequences of it.
Improved Awesome Blow (Ex)
At 20th level, the black belt can use her awesome blow ability as an attack rather than as a standard action. She may use it on creatures of any size. If the maneuver roll is a natural 20, the black belt can immediately attempt to confirm the critical by rolling another combat maneuver check with all the same modifiers as the one just rolled; if the confirmation roll is successful, the attack deals double damage, and the damage from hitting an obstacle (if any) is also doubled.
Favored Class Bonuses
Instead of receiving an additional skill rank or hit point whenever they gain a level in a favored class, some races have the option of choosing from a number of other bonuses, depending upon their favored classes. The following options are available to the listed race who have black belt as their favored class, and unless otherwise stated, the bonus applies each time you select the listed favored class reward.
- Bangaa: Add +1/6 to gain a new martial art talent.
- Dwarf: Reduce the hardness of any object made from clay, stone, or metal by 1 whenever the object is struck by the black belt’s unarmed strike (minimum 0).
- Elvaan: Add 1 foot to the black belt’s base speed. In combat, this has an effect only for every five increases in the black belt’s base speed.
- Galka: Add 1/4 to the black belt’s effective level to determine her unarmed strike damage.
- Half-Breed: Add 1 to the black belt’s CMD when he’s resisting a trip or overrun combat maneuver.
- Hume: Gain a +1 bonus to the black belt’s CMD when resisting two combat maneuvers of the black belt’s choice.
- Kojin: Add +1/6 to gain a new martial art talent.
- Mithra: Add +1 to the black belt’s CMD when she’s resisting a trip or overrun combat maneuver.
- Moogle: Gain a +1 bonus to the black belt’s CMD when resisting a grapple or overrun combat maneuver.
- Orc: Add +1 to the black belt’s CMD when she’s resisting a trip or overrun combat maneuver.
- Roegadyn: Add 1/4 to the black belt’s effective level to determine unarmed strike damage.
- Tarutaru: Increase the number of times per day the black belt can use martial flexibility by 1/4.
- Vanu Vanu: Increase the number of times per day the black belt can use martial flexibility by 1/4.
- A complete list of black belt archetypes can be found here: Black Belt Archetypes