|Wander climbs a colossus in Shadow of the Colossus.|
My inspirations for this article stemmed from two sources. One was Dragon Magazine issue #306, which included an article called "Power Fantasy" by JD Wiker. In this article, Wiker presented rules for "cinematic combat" like swinging from a chandelier and throwing an opponent. These were elements I'd always wanted to include in a game, yet found the core rules of d20-based games lacking in representation of them. The second inspiration originated roughly around the same time; a video game published by Level-5 called Shadow of the Colossus (also known as Wander and the Colossus in Japan.) In Shadow of the Colossus, the hero was a boy and his horse who traveled together across a vast countryside in search of colossi to take down by climbing, running and vaulting all over them to strike at the vulnerable points in their stony armor.
Evoking the feeling of Shadow of the Colossus is easy in Pathfinder, thanks to the universal Combat Maneuver Defense rules. This simplification of the old opposed roll checks from 3.X D&D makes it a simple matter of making a single check to perform a list of combat maneuvers. Below I've outlined a new combat maneuver called a Combat Climb, allowing characters to spring into action and clamor up and around on gigantic opponents. With Bestiary 4 out now, introducing the titanic Kaiju creature subtype, this sort of cinematic combat is delivered right on time.
Feel free to share your own stories of characters successfully (or unsuccessfully) battling atop gigantic, moving beasts in the comments section below.
You may can climb on the back or other parts of a creature at least two size categories larger than you. You gain a +2 bonus on attack rolls against the creature being climbed and the creature is considered flat-footed against your attacks.
Initiating a Combat Climb
Initiating a climbing attack on a creature is a special full-round action. In order to perform this maneuver, a you enter a creature’s square (potentially provoking an attack of opportunity for the movement, unless the character makes a successful Acrobatics check against the target's CMD). Once the movement has been made, you then make a Climb check against the target's Combat Maneuver Defense. At the end of this full-round action you may make one melee or ranged attack at your highest attack bonus. Climbing requires at least one free hand used to maintain the climb.
Maintaining the Climbing Attack
Each round you remain on the creature, you must make an Acrobatics or Climb check (your choice) as a move action against the creature's CMD to remain climbing. A creature may spend a full-round action on its turn in an attempt to shake you off, forcing you to make an additional Acrobatics or Climb check as if you began the round on the creature. If you are knocked off, you fall prone in an adjacent square (use the grenade-like weapons table to determine the direction you fall in) and take falling damage accordingly.
The Bigger They Are (Combat)
Prerequisite Climb 5 or Acrobatics 5
Benefit The targets of your combat climb no do not get their size bonus to their combat maneuver defense. When performing a combat climb, you may maintain the maneuver as a swift action.
The Harder They Fall (Combat)
Prerequisite The Bigger They Are, Base Attack Bonus +12
Benefit When performing a combat climb on a creature, you automatically confirm any critical threats with attacks made against them while climbing. Furthermore, you gain a bonus on all Climb or Acrobatics checks made to climb a creature equal to their size modifier.
Open Content: The game mechanics of this game product are Open Game Content, as defined in the Open Gaming License version 1.0a Section 1(d).