The traditions of the Free Cities are fundamentally different from those of Westeros. Nowhere is this more clear than in the manners and skills of the Water Dancer. The term “water dancer” is used to describe the fluid motions and lightning reflexes of the great warriors of Braavos, the greatest of the nine Free Cities; the name derives from their seeming ability to walk on water. These particular bravos are warriors of consummate skill and grace, whose training is radically different from that of Westeros, focusing on speed and balance over strength and size.
In Braavos, the best of the bravos attempt the water dance, which derives its name from a public pool where such duels are fought. The water dance demands exquisite balance, quickness, and grace. It is an art as much as it is a form of combat. The fighters appear to “dance on water” as they glide across the Moon Pool. Only one bravo in a hundred is good enough to attempt the water dance, and those who master it are even fewer. The water dance is principally a study in balance, perception, and the dextrous use of the blade. To the Water Dancers, the blade is indistinct from the person wielding it. The goal of the Water Dancer is to become the sword, to be so certain of one’s movements, position, and balance that there is no hesitation.
The first task of an apprentice is to master all of the emotions that threaten to overwhelm in battle. A Water Dancer cannot be ruled by anger or fear, but must learn to calm him or herself and concentrate on the task at hand. Since their training focuses first on this aspect of the warrior’s craft, trained Water Dancers seldom make mistakes. It is rare indeed for a Water Dancer to defeat him or herself through error.
As a Water Dancer learns, he or she takes cues from the natural world. By embracing the traits of the wild, he or she beings to react instantly; the abilities become second nature to the Water Dancer. Although they are some of the deadliest fighters across the realm, their true talent is perception. If they use all their sense to see true, nothing can surprise them, and no enemy can take them off-guard.
Once a person has embraced learning the craft of the water dance, there are few in Westeros who could defeat them one-on-one. Their commitment often deepens, and many spend their entire lives devoted to the study of their chosen combat style. A master of the form is one of the most formidable opponents in the world, while their ability to strike with deadly accuracy makes them highly prized allies.
Example of a Water Dancer: Syrio Forel
To become a Water Dancer, a character must fulfill all the following criteria:
ABILITY SCORES: Dexterity 16
Note: Most Water Dancers are from the Free Cities, specifically Braavos. However, a Westerosi can learn the water dance if he or she can find an appropriate master.
Water Dancers gain 2 Hit Points + Constitution Modifier per Level
The Water Dancer’s Class Skills (and the key Ability for each Skill) are Balance (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Profession (Wis), Search (Int), Sense Motive (Wis), Spot (Wis) and Tumble (Dex).
At each Level, Water Dancers get 3 + Int Modifier; humans gain +1 bonus
At each Level, Water Dancers gain 4 + Cha Modifier.
Weapon and Armour Proficiency
Water Dancers are proficient with all simple and martial weapons, and one exotic weapon of the player’s choice (this is often the Braavosi blade), as well as light armour.
Fear Cuts Deeper than Swords
A Water Dancer learns first to steel his or her emotions when facing danger. Beginning at 1st Level, the Water Dancer may make a Will Save (DC 10) to focus his or her mind against the fear of failure. This can be done as a free action in any encounter where the character should be afraid, anxious, or unnerved.
This grants the Water Dancer a +1 bonus per Level to any one Skill check per day. This additionally grants the Water Dancer a +2 bonus to Save against Fear effects.
The Eyes See True
Persistent training hones the senses of a Water Dancer, so that he or she can seem to see with his or her ears, nose and even touch. At 1st Level a Water Dancer gains a +1 competence bonus to Listen, Search, and Spot checks as long as the character is wearing nothing heavier than light armour. This increases by +1 every 2 Levels.
Swift as a Deer
Water Dancers are thinking warriors, at all times aware of their surroundings. At 2nd Level, a Water Dancer can add his or her Int bonus to Initiative (minimum of +1). This stacks with any other Initiative bonuses. In addition, the Water Dancer’s base speed
Calm as Still Water
At 3rd Level, the Water Dancer gains a bonus Feat from the following list: Bravado; Canny; Finesse; or Tactics. It must be taken as a defensive option and can stack with any Feat on that list.
Quiet as a Shadow
At 4th Level, a Water Dancer gains a +2 bonus to Hide and Move Silently checks.
Strong as a Bear
At 4th Level, the Water Dancer gains a bonus Feat from the following list: Bravado; Brute; Canny; or Tactics. It must be taken as an attack option and can stack with any Feat on that list.
Fierce as a Wolverine
The precise strikes of a Water Dancer allows him or her to attack in a particularly effective manner. At 5th Level a Water Dancer may deliver maximum damage to an opponent. This can be decided after an attack is confirmed, but before damage is rolled.
Dancer may perform this deadly attack once a day; at 10th Level, the Water Dancer can do this twice a day.
Light as a Feather
The constant development of his or her agility lend a high degree of grace to a Water Dancer’s actions. At 6th Level a Water Dancer receives a +2 competence bonus to all Dexterity-based Skill checks. These bonuses only apply if the Water Dancer is wearing light or no armour.
Quick as a Snake
The finely tuned nerves of a Water Dancer soon allow him or her to react more quickly to any threat. Beginning at 6th Level, the Water Dancer gains a +2 bonus to all Initiative rolls, and retains his or her Dexterity and Defence Bonus even if caught flat-footed. These bonuses only apply if the Water Dancer is wearing light or no armour.
The Bravo’s Dance
Experienced Water Dancers learn to hold their actions until their opponent is most vulnerable. An 8th Level Water Dancer gains a +2 circumstance bonus to attack and damage rolls when attacking on a delayed action. This is a full-round action and only allows the Dancer one attack, and can only be done if the Water Dancer is wearing light or no armour.
The lithe muscles of a Water Dancer eventually allow the character to contort his or her body away from deadly strikes. At 9th Level a Water Dancer using the Full Defence action may add half his or her Class Level to Defence. This can only be done if the Water Dancer is wearing light or no armour.
The Water Runs Out
A master of the Water Dancer style is a deadly thing to confront. At 10th Level a Water Dancer may increase his or her critical hit multiplier by +1. He or she may do this 3 times per day, but this may be decided after a successful attack is achieved, but before damage is rolled.