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mage1337
2009-08-25, 11:43 AM
Hey playgrounders,

I need help optimizing a 7th level swordsage for a "World's Largest Dungeon" campaign. I want to the build to be very "ninja-y", and hopefully to fight with a spiked chain. Stats were rolled and are: 17,14,14,12,10,8. Any source is allowed, and a house allows characters to start with 3 feats at 1st level instead of 1. Although I say 7th level swordsage, free to swap out one or two levels as necessary if there is a PrC that would substantially buff a "ninja" build.

My current thinking for the character's feats and powers are:
Feats: Bonus Stance, Extra Redied Manuever, Desert Fire, Desert Dodge, Blade Meditation, ???
Manuevers: (4) Firesnake, (3) Shadow Garrot, (3) Fan the Flames, (3) Insightful Strike, (2) Cloak of Deception, (2) Claw of the Moon, (2) Shadow Jaunt (1s) ???
Stances: (1) Flames Blessing, (1) Child of Shadows, (3) Dance of Spiders, (3) Assassin's Stance

A couple things I would really love for this character are a feat that lets a character use Wisdom instead of strength for melee attacks (not sure if this exists), and a feat that lets a character take more than one swift action in a round (so I could switch stances and use a boost manuever, for example).

I really suck at optimizing in general, and having never played a swordsage I'm really not sure if my initial thinking for maneuvers and powers is even sensible. As you can see I've gone for mainly Desert Wind and Shadow manuevers to try to capture a "ninja" feel. I have a real vision of my character starting a fight with ranged attacks (Fire Snake, Fan the Flames) while standing on the ceiling (Dance of Spiders), before dropping down and sneak attacking for big damage (Assassin's Stance, Cloak of Deception, Claw of Sun and Moon). As I said however, I'm really new to swordsages as a whole, so I really need the help. If this approach or these manuevers are mechanically weak, or there are other, popular "ninja-y" swordsage builds, please let me know.

Thanks in advance!

Mongoose87
2009-08-25, 11:45 AM
A couple things I would really love for this character are a feat that lets a character use Wisdom instead of strength for melee attacks (not sure if this exists), and a feat that lets a character take more than one swift action in a round (so I could switch stances and use a boost manuever, for example).

I
Thanks in advance!

There's a feat in BoED, Insightful Attack, or Strike or something like that that does the wisdom trick.

quick_comment
2009-08-25, 11:52 AM
Its called intuitive attack.

Take adaptive style instead of martial study stance. You can only have 1 stance at a time anyway.

woodenbandman
2009-08-25, 12:01 PM
intuitive attack is kinda nards, it doesn't let you use it for damage, only attacks. Since you seem rather Shadow-Hand focused, I'd go for a high-dex race, perhaps halfling, and use Shadow Blade, which works well with your spiked chain. Halfling Swordsage7 would have 16 dex, if you put a 14 into it, which combos extremely well with weapon finesse. You lose a bit of damage if you don't stay in a shadow hand stance, but you seem to like the thought of those.

I recommend Gloom Razor, which I think is the one that lets you go invisible. Also I recommend a splash of Rogue levels to get more sneak attack, always a plus.

Draz74
2009-08-25, 12:21 PM
Stick with straight Swordsage IMHO. Your #1 priority Feat is definitely Adaptive Style.

Gloom Razor is indeed the ultimate Ninja-friendly feat, but your BAB won't be high enough to take it until Level 8. Definitely get its prerequisite, though, which happens to be Shadow Blade. Which means you might as well get your DEX high and take mostly/only Shadow Hand stances, so that you can deal non-STR-based damage.

There is no feat that adds WIS to damage, but the closest thing is ... a Swordsage class feature that you picked up at Level 4 anyway. The way to maximize its use is to choose all of your strikes from one or two disciplines, and plan to use a Strike almost every round of combat (rather than full attacks).

There is no feat that gives you a second swift action per turn. It would be broken if it existed (without extremely high prerequisites). There are some manuevers that can help your swift action economy, though. Most prominent is Stance of Alacrity, which lets you use a Counter for free every round. (Still can't use a Boost and change a Stance in the same round.) Also, if you make it to Swordsage 20 you'll get a class feature that's the other closest thing to this imaginary Feat you want.

What skills are you planning to maximize? Diamond Mind is a great discipline if you can afford the skill points in Concentration. Baffling Defense is an amazing counter if you can afford the skill points in Sense Motive. (I'd do it, for this character; it's very very ninja-esque.)

Desert Wind isn't very Ninja-ish IMHO. Shadow Hand is. Setting Sun and Diamond Mind can be. Tiger Claw even can be, sometimes (mostly the Jump-related maneuvers).

quick_comment
2009-08-25, 12:24 PM
I would take a warblade dip to get white raven hammer at high levels. You might also want to look at shadow sun ninja. They are pretty cool, just make sure you have a way to ignore con damage.

Eldariel
2009-08-25, 12:30 PM
intuitive attack is kinda nards, it doesn't let you use it for damage, only attacks. Since you seem rather Shadow-Hand focused, I'd go for a high-dex race, perhaps halfling, and use Shadow Blade, which works well with your spiked chain. Halfling Swordsage7 would have 16 dex, if you put a 14 into it, which combos extremely well with weapon finesse. You lose a bit of damage if you don't stay in a shadow hand stance, but you seem to like the thought of those.

I recommend Gloom Razor, which I think is the one that lets you go invisible. Also I recommend a splash of Rogue levels to get more sneak attack, always a plus.

This is not really a problem; Swordsage should always be using Strikes anyways so Insightful Strikes class feature adds Wis to damage anyways. It's just a matter of picking the schools you'll use strikes primarily from (you get two).

FinalJustice
2009-08-25, 12:52 PM
Actually, I do recall using a lot of boosted full attacks when playing as a swordsage (I was a Unarmed Swordsage). I was not very optimal though, 3/4 BaB hurts.

Frosty
2009-08-25, 01:31 PM
How do you pick up White Raven Hammer? You need 15 Warblade or Crusader initiator levels to do it.

Fax Celestis
2009-08-25, 01:34 PM
How do you pick up White Raven Hammer? You need 15 Warblade or Crusader initiator levels to do it.

...no, you don't. You don't keep separate ILs for your different initiating classes. You have one, distinct, IL.

Eldariel
2009-08-25, 01:37 PM
Actually, I do recall using a lot of boosted full attacks when playing as a swordsage (I was a Unarmed Swordsage). I was not very optimal though, 3/4 BaB hurts.

If this is what you want, you can make use of Time Stands Still, Pouncing Charge and in general, strikes that involve a full attack. For such a character, I find the real Pounce invaluable though; enables using Bounding Assault as "Pouncing Charge++", and few other charges get supercharged too. Of course, for an armed Swordsage, it's less of a problem as you really have no incentive not to use a Strike anyways.


As for White Raven Hammer, with Martial Study you could pick it up as an SS maneuver, and if you got PrC that advances White Raven, you could also get it, as long as you get the prerequisite maneuvers. Probably more trouble than it's wroth to be honest; Stun is pretty easy to resist on higher levels in the end.

Frosty
2009-08-25, 01:37 PM
...no, you don't. You don't keep separate ILs for your different initiating classes. You have one, distinct, IL.

Are you SURE? I read the multiclassing rules and it doesn't look that way to me. I've always kept track of IL separately for each class.

Eldariel
2009-08-25, 01:41 PM
Are you SURE? I read the multiclassing rules and it doesn't look that way to me. I've always kept track of IL separately for each class.

This is correct. Learning White Raven Hammer as a Swordsage maneuver works just fine too. But yeah, IL is like CL; every class granting IL has its own that counts other classes granting different IL as non-associated classes ( progression).

Fax Celestis
2009-08-25, 01:41 PM
Are you SURE? I read the multiclassing rules and it doesn't look that way to me. I've always kept track of IL separately for each class.

I am ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN.

Your IL is 1:1 for maneuvering classes, and 1:2 for nonmaneuvering classes and/or HD.

Or: IL = ($Maneuvering_Class_Levels)+(.5*$Nonmaneuvering_Cl ass_Levels)

Never mind, I'm thinking about Incarnum again. Mmmm. Incarnum.

Draz74
2009-08-25, 01:53 PM
Learning White Raven Hammer as a Swordsage maneuver works just fine too.

Um. Other than Master of Nine ... how? :smallconfused:

Or are you just saying the Swordsage Initiator Level works for picking White Raven Hammer via Martial Study? (If so, sure, that works, although I haven't thought of it that way before. Hmm. The prerequisite is steep, but not impossible.)

Eldariel
2009-08-25, 02:02 PM
Um. Other than Master of Nine ... how? :smallconfused:

You don't really need more than one option for the clause to be correct, neh? That said, Eternal Blade is an option too, though suffers of SS's medium BAB. Still, it's doable to get in on 14 or so. Hell, Ruby Knight Vindicator can be entered with two feats and works.


Or are you just saying the Swordsage Initiator Level works for picking White Raven Hammer via Martial Study? (If so, sure, that works, although I haven't thought of it that way before. Hmm. The prerequisite is steep, but not impossible.)

And yeah, that's also an option. Also, the White Raven Cloak in the items section can function provided you qualify for it. So there are ways. Not practical ones (outside Mo9 anyways), but options anyways. I wouldn't suggest it to be honest though.

kestrel404
2009-08-25, 02:23 PM
Based purely on it being a WLD game, I recommend spending skill points on search. In fact, I would recommend it enough to say that splashing rogue or beguiler would not be a bad idea.

PinkysBrain
2009-08-25, 03:40 PM
Each martial adept class has it's own initiator level if you multiclass them ... but that is irrelevant to the martial study feat. There are two limits to what you can learn through the Martial Study feat, the explicitly mentioned prerequisites and the implicit initiator level limit from table 3-1 ... but the latter one is completely unqualified as far as class is concerned, so just use your highest one.

Darrin
2009-08-25, 04:27 PM
Or are you just saying the Swordsage Initiator Level works for picking White Raven Hammer via Martial Study? (If so, sure, that works, although I haven't thought of it that way before. Hmm. The prerequisite is steep, but not impossible.)

You can soften the prereqs a bit with a novice Crown of the White Ravens (3000 GP). This lets you pick up White Raven Tactics at ECL 6 with Martial Study, Press the Advantage at ECL 9 with Martial Stance, and White Raven Hammer at ECL 15 with Martial Study again. Remember, unlike feats you don't lose access to a maneuver if you lose the prereqs later. You can only take Martial Study three times, but there is no limit on Martial Stance (other than the number of stances).

lsfreak
2009-08-25, 04:33 PM
You can soften the prereqs a bit with a novice Crown of the White Ravens (3000 GP). This lets you pick up White Raven Tactics at ECL 6 with Martial Study, Press the Advantage at ECL 9 with Martial Stance, and White Raven Hammer at ECL 15 with Martial Study again. Remember, unlike feats you don't lose access to a maneuver if you lose the prereqs later. You can only take Martial Study three times, but there is no limit on Martial Stance (other than the number of stances).

Another option is to just take a single-level dip in Crusader at level 11+. Nets you a few really good maneuvers (say White Raven Tactics, Covering Strike, and Revitalizing Strike) plus another stance (Thicket of Blades, Martial Spirit). Then take White Raven Hammer as your 15th level feat. Warblade is possible as well, but strictly mechanics-wise I think Crusader is better.

Draz74
2009-08-25, 04:35 PM
You can soften the prereqs a bit with a novice Crown of the White Ravens (3000 GP). This lets you pick up White Raven Tactics at ECL 6 with Martial Study, Press the Advantage at ECL 9 with Martial Stance, and White Raven Hammer at ECL 15 with Martial Study again. Remember, unlike feats you don't lose access to a maneuver if you lose the prereqs later. You can only take Martial Study three times, but there is no limit on Martial Stance (other than the number of stances).

Yep, that's all true. But spending 3 feats and a (cheap) magic item on the process of getting White Raven Hammer still qualifies as "steep." (Of course, the other maneuvers and stances you get along the way are pretty sweet too. Still, I wouldn't use this tactic on a Swordsage, myself.)

Sstoopidtallkid
2009-08-25, 05:20 PM
If you're going to dip something else, doing so for 2 levels at 12th-13th level is generally good, since you can delay your 14th level stance until you hit IL 15 for the nice 8th level ones.

quick_comment
2009-08-25, 05:24 PM
The way you get white raven hammer is by multiclassing. You take a level of warblade, use that to snag a bunch of white raven maneuvers, then use martial study to get white raven hammer as a swordsage maneuver.

Frosty
2009-08-26, 12:16 AM
The way you get white raven hammer is by multiclassing. You take a level of warblade, use that to snag a bunch of white raven maneuvers, then use martial study to get white raven hammer as a swordsage maneuver.

Yeah, I'm going to errata that in my games. Martial Study will require that you actually have enough initiator levels in the class that the maneuver is from. So if you want WRH, you better have 15 IL for Warblade or Crusader.

Draz74
2009-08-26, 12:30 AM
Yeah, I'm going to errata that in my games. Martial Study will require that you actually have enough initiator levels in the class that the maneuver is from. So if you want WRH, you better have 15 IL for Warblade or Crusader.

I'd call that a houserule, not an errata. I don't think it's RAI. I think Martial Study was intended to let you jump Discipline boundaries fairly easily.

And most of the time, it's very harmless to do so. White Raven Hammer is one of the 5 most powerful maneuvers in the whole book. Maybe you should nerf it rather than the feat.

Sstoopidtallkid
2009-08-26, 12:33 AM
I'd call that a houserule, not an errata. I don't think it's RAI. I think Martial Study was intended to let you jump Discipline boundaries fairly easily.

And most of the time, it's very harmless to do so. White Raven Hammer is one of the 5 most powerful maneuvers in the whole book. Maybe you should nerf it rather than the feat.Of the 9 9th level maneuvers(by definition the most powerful in the book), White Raven Hammer is in the top 5? I wouldn't view that as nerf-worthy.

sofawall
2009-08-26, 12:35 AM
I interpreted it as requiring IL in the class it is from. Never thought about as just IL, period.

Frosty
2009-08-26, 12:41 AM
Of the 9 9th level maneuvers(by definition the most powerful in the book), White Raven Hammer is in the top 5? I wouldn't view that as nerf-worthy.

WRH is a level 8 maneuver. It outclasses some level 9 maneuvers I gather.

lsfreak
2009-08-26, 01:15 AM
WRH is a level 8 maneuver. It outclasses some level 9 maneuvers I gather.

Firstly, several 9th level maneuvers are pretty bad anywho (Iron Heart's is horrible). And White Raven Hammer's stun doesn't even effect a good portion of the population of monsters (all constructs, elementals, oozes, plants, and undead).

Talionis
2011-01-17, 11:11 PM
Master of Nine has the Counter Stance ability that lets you change your stance whenever you use a counter. Combine that with Stance of Alacrity and you can use two boosts in a turn either can change your stance.