Mouser (Swashbuckler Archetype)
A small blade in the hands of someone exceptionally brave can be just as effective as a mighty weapon of war, even against massive foes.
Not only is this an statement in relation to how daring can save the day, but also a matter of fact that larger foes are typically poorly defended on their undersides, or at least have difficulty retaliating at foes that get underneath them. It’s the same reason a turtle tries its best to stay rightside up, and why massive heard animals try to keep smaller predators from approaching.
Mousers are those that take advantage of those weaknesses, learning to boldly move close and under a larger foe in order to undermine them from below. As such, most such swashbucklers tend to crop up among the smaller races, as they have more reason than most to have to fight larger targets by virtue of being smaller than most potential foes. However, in realms where many massive monsters exist, even human-sized races can find need to train in this way.
Taking advantage of a missed swing, these dashing warriors can move uncomfortably close to a larger foe, slipping under them, making it difficult for them to focus on any foe but the mouser, leaving them open to other foes .
Larger foes also tend to not notice when small items go missing, and mousers can take advantage of the pain of an attack to sneakily steal items in their possession.
The key to bringing down large foes often means undermining them to negate the advantage of size, and so these swashbucklers learn every dirty trick in the book to bring them down to earth.
Finally, these warriors recognize the need to avoid being pinned down, and so they learn to launch high-speed charging attacks on the fly, always running past after their attacks to avoid reprisal.
If you’re planning on playing a small swashbuckler, or else one in a campaign filled with large, mighty foes, this archetype may be perfect for a build that focuses on undermining such massive foes. I recommend a mobility, hit-and run build, possibly with vital strike as well, to get the most out of single attacks.
There is little to differentiate the plethora of possible personalities of this archetype when compared to the vanilla swashbuckler, other than perhaps their quips and taunts being more focused on the size and clumsiness of their larger foes. They might see larger foes as brutes and bullies using their size to torment the small, which makes them perfect for freedom fighter backstories.
Given how dangerous the fey realms can be, gnomes and gathlain alike learn early on how to turn their small size to their advantage in combat, a lesson they took with them to the mortal world. Stories abound of trolls being tricked into burning themselves alive, and hill giants brought low by a hundred narrow cuts.
The Coalition of Titans, a massive army of giants, has plagued the region for decades now, their remote strongholds making them hard to counterassault even when driven back. Even races normally unwilling to provide aid are putting in their effort to fight back, such as squadrons of gnoll giant-catchers, whom work in teams to bring down larger foes, capturing them for interrogation.
Though normally limited in their scope, a new choker threat has begun to work its way up from the world below. These specially-trained aberrations not only strangle foes, but are unafraid to get up close and personal with foes, overwhelming them with their many tentacle limbs. This has strained the dwarven defenders of Yunok, but the question of who is training these shock troops remains unanswered.