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Forbiddenwar
2011-01-07, 11:33 AM
I was under the impression given by others that playing an unarmed sword sage was better than playing a monk. So I finally have Tome of Battle and have read it thoroughly, and I can't understand how. Perhaps I'm missing something. I see the benefits with playing an sword wielding swordsage, but not an unarmed swordsage.

As far as I can tell, unarmed swordsages don't have improved unarmed strike, so they have to spend a feat in order to get it. And then they only do 1d3 damage a hit, compared to monks 1d6. Sword sages then have to wait until level 3 to get improved unarmed damage, and even then Monks do more damage than sword sages. And now swordsages have spent 2 feats to the monks zero, they can now get weapon finesse at level 6. Meanwhile the Monk has already high unarmed damage, improved unarmed strike, and gets several bonus feats, all in the first few levels.

What good is better BAB when you do 1 damage a hit? Why is unarmed swordsage better if you have to spend all your feats in order to get close to the dps of the monk? early game unarmed swordsage seems very weak compared to monk, and late game they seem equal.
I thought about cross classing monk and unarmed swordsage, but that combo still has problems with damage per hit. My DM has interpreted "If a monk takes this feat, he instead has a unarmed damge of 4 levels higher (of his monk levels)" So a level 1 Monk, level 3 sword sage after spending the feats has a 1d6 damage, while a level 4 monk not spending any feats has a 1d8.

Seems an unarmed sword sage is trading BAB for damage, and then struggles to add feats to get back to square, while a monk uses his feats and equipment to improve his BAB by adding his dex and his wisdom to the roll.

All in all, I think Monk/Rogue makes a better combo than monk/swordsage. you can stun and then sneak attack in 1 standard action, with the snapkick feat.

Edit: I know this is a hot topic, Please give me anything I can hang on, I don't want the purchase of ToB to have been in vain. After posting, I realized that monks don't have spells like sword sages do. Do the spells even out this problem? If so, which spells should I study?

Keld Denar
2011-01-07, 11:36 AM
Its not a normal swordsage who is just unarmed, its a special adaption. They give up armor proficiency for attacking unarmed as a monk, which is implied to grant the Improved Unarmed Strike feat. Reread the Adaption header on page 20, top of the lefthand column.

And you are missing out on manuevers. The joys of playing a martial adept is the manevuers. You have a lot of them, and they are good. They make things like single attacks MUCH stronger, allowing you more mobility because you aren't fixated on full attacking to do any damage.

Also, Swordsages are 3/4 BAB, just like Monks. Are you sure you are reading the right class?

Forbiddenwar
2011-01-07, 11:39 AM
Its not a normal swordsage who is just unarmed, its a special adaption. They give up armor proficiency for attacking unarmed as a monk, which is implied to grant the Improved Unarmed Strike feat.


What page is the special adaption on. I must have missed it. And I thought that having light armor was one of the pros for unarmed swordsage, now it seems I have to give up on that too?

I have to admit, I didn't look at the BAB, as I was told that swordsage had full BAB.

Keld Denar
2011-01-07, 11:41 AM
The name "swordsage" naturally implies a character who carries a sword or weapon of some kind. However, a swordsage works very well as a supernatural martial artist of almost any school or origin. To create a monklike character with a tremendous array of fantastic moves and strikes, give the swordsage the monk's unarmed strike progression and remove his light armor proficiency.<snip>

Yea, UA SS is considered to be slightly worse than a normal SS, but just barely. Its certainly considered to be MUCH better than a plain, non-homebrewed Monk.

EDIT: Nope, Swordsage is the only martial adept that doesn't have full BAB. SS is more of a skirmisher than an upfront combatant, as reflected in their maneuver school access. Desert Wind, Shadow Hand, and Setting Sun are all exclusive Swordsage schools, and all VERY mobility oriented.

EDIT EDIT: Manuevers REALLY make up a lot of the difference. In fact, they make up nearly all of the difference. I encourage you to read through the manevuers immediate, just to get an idea of how they impact the character. They really are good, allowing you to do a lot of different things like move and attack, gain bonuses to hit and/or damage when attacking, and inflict status effects while attacking. Its really what makes the class.

Stegyre
2011-01-07, 11:49 AM
UASS it not completely fleshed out in ToB, so it requires some additional interpretation. (Still, it's more detailed than Arcane SS!) While none of this is RAW (UASS, itself, is not "RAW"), it is generally accepted:

1. UASS get improved unarmed strike, just as monks impliedly have proficiency with unarmed strikes. Otherwise, maybe you should compare how a UASS would perform compared to a monk who has a -4 lack of proficiency penalty.

2. UASS get the monk's damage progression. I think about the only way to interpret that is that a UASS unarmed strike does the same damage as that of a monk of the same level. So a 1st level UASS does 1d6, not 1d3.

3. At 2nd level, UASS may wear light armor and get wis to AC. Sure, they lack light armor proficiency, like the monk does, but you can get light armor without any sort of penalty, so lack of proficiency is a non-issue, while the monk loses his wis-to-AC benefit if wearing any armor.

Beyond that, SS are better than monks because SS get maneuvers: at 1st level, they can give all attackers a 20% miss chance, as long as the SS moves at least 10', and he can move and still get two attacks in a round (a monk can only flurry as part of a full attack); at 3rd level, an SS can have a greater invisibility effect for 1 round, or he can ignore DR and hardness on an attack, or he can short-range teleport as a standard action; at 5th level, an SS can substitute concentration for his fort. save (his only save weaker than a monk's), since a good fort. save at this level is only 4, while concentration may be (and for SS, will be) up to 8, this actually puts the SS well ahead of the monk on saving throws.

As others have indicated, there's really no contest, and the monk does not come off better.

Forbiddenwar
2011-01-07, 11:56 AM
Thank-you for all this clarification, I was really confused. Now for Character Reasons (not build reasons) I wish to take the Vow of Poverty at first level. Is the vow of poverty stronger on a monk character or a UASS?

Coidzor
2011-01-07, 12:00 PM
^: Vow of Poverty hurts the Monk character more in the long run, I believe, as maneuvers can compensate for some of the lost magical item utility and combat use.
I was under the impression given by others that playing an unarmed sword sage was better than playing a monk. So I finally have Tome of Battle and have read it thoroughly, and I can't understand how. Perhaps I'm missing something. I see the benefits with playing an sword wielding swordsage, but not an unarmed swordsage.

Why swordsage is Tier 3. (http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?topic=4890.0)
Well, they would be the maneuvers! They let you be everything a fighter fails at, by allowing you more options, all the better to tackle the various challenges thrown your way by the DM.


Why monk is Tier 5. (http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?topic=4869.0)
Lack of synergy and multi-attribute dependency pretty much screw Monks up. Oh, and the good class features being limited to Very Few Uses Per Day. Seriously, if Monks had the ability to use Flurry whenever making an attack, if they got like Wis x uses of their now-daily abilities and the ability to use Dex for combat maneuvers, and Wis/Dex for damage, they'd be just fine.


Seems an unarmed sword sage is trading BAB for damage, and then struggles to add feats to get back to square, while a monk uses his feats and equipment to improve his BAB by adding his dex and his wisdom to the roll.

To go off on a pedantic tangent, Base Attack Bonus isn't improved by Dexterity or Strength, BAB is a constant function of Hit Dice unless it's altered by effects that specifically alter BAB, such as Divine Power. (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/divinepower.htm)


All in all, I think Monk/Rogue makes a better combo than monk/swordsage. you can stun and then sneak attack in 1 standard action, with the snapkick feat.

And Monk/Psychic Warrior + Tashalatora is better than swordsage, possibly. While Monk/Ardent + Tashalatora is definitely better than swordsage.


After posting, I realized that monks don't have spells like sword sages do. Do the spells even out this problem? If so, which spells should I study?

If you managed to forget that swordsages have maneuvers, you should probably read through your book some more until you're more familiar with the material you bought. :smallconfused:

Yes, the maneuvers swordsages get form the basis of their power. Which ones you get depend upon what you want to do.

Draz74
2011-01-07, 12:02 PM
Vow of Poverty is always weaker than well-selected magic items that match Wealth By Level. Except maybe at Level 1.

However, Unarmed Swordsage is indeed one of the few classes that can take Vow of Poverty and still be pretty playable. (The others are Druid, incarnum classes, and psionic classes.)

Make sure to get enough Shadow Hand maneuvers that you can pick up the high-level Balance on the Sky stance, which will let you sort of fly. That's an important thing for Vow of Poverty characters. (Or play a Raptoran.)

Also, make sure to take Touch of Golden Ice and Intuitive Attack as some of your bonus [Exalted] feats.

mootoall
2011-01-07, 12:08 PM
I'd tentatively say yes, but it's not worth it really. I mean, your WBL goes to a lot more than magic weapons and (especially for UASS) armor, it goes into all the nifty magic items that make your better at *everything*, and VoP doesn't do that. However, with the power boosts from maneuvers, yeah, UASS will fare better. Edit: swordsage'd ... so ... hard ... (no pun intended)

Gullintanni
2011-01-07, 12:12 PM
Vow of Poverty is always weaker than well-selected magic items that match Wealth By Level. Except maybe at Level 1.

However, Unarmed Swordsage is indeed one of the few classes that can take Vow of Poverty and still be pretty playable. (The others are Druid, incarnum classes, and psionic classes.)

Make sure to get enough Shadow Hand maneuvers that you can pick up the high-level Balance on the Sky stance, which will let you sort of fly. That's an important thing for Vow of Poverty characters. (Or play a Raptoran.)

Also, make sure to take Touch of Golden Ice and Intuitive Attack as some of your bonus [Exalted] feats.

Where would you put a Vow of Poverty Druid on the Tier list? Still Tier 1?

Draz74
2011-01-07, 12:16 PM
Where would you put a Vow of Poverty Druid on the Tier list? Still Tier 1?

Absolutely. It's still a better fighter than the Fighter, even before you take its full casting into account. :smallsigh:

Godskook
2011-01-07, 04:15 PM
Thank-you for all this clarification, I was really confused. Now for Character Reasons (not build reasons) I wish to take the Vow of Poverty at first level. Is the vow of poverty stronger on a monk character or a UASS?

A VoP Monk < VoP UASS

And in neither case is it better than actually having WBL.


Where would you put a Vow of Poverty Druid on the Tier list? Still Tier 1?

Generally speaking, VoP doesn't change one's tier unless said class is overly dependent on items, like Wizards, Artificers, and maybe 1-2 others.

Bang!
2011-01-07, 04:19 PM
Generally speaking, VoP doesn't change one's tier unless said class is overly dependent on items, like Wizards, Artificers, and maybe 1-2 others.
And even then, do we have to assume the character maintains the vow?

Mark Hall
2011-01-07, 04:51 PM
And even then, do we have to assume the character maintains the vow?

If they don't maintain the vow, then they are an X with two less feats, instead of an X.

Draz74
2011-01-07, 04:58 PM
If they don't maintain the vow, then they are an X with two less feats, instead of an X.

Unless they do some Dark Chaos Shuffle cheese after they break the vow, in which case they are an X with a lot more feats ... :smalleek:

Loren
2011-01-07, 05:14 PM
Be sure to read the descriptions of the disciplines (p41-42). I know unarmed is a favoured weapon of Shadow Hand, which means that an UASS could use the Shadow Blade feat to add dex to damage if you're in a Shadow stance and if you pick shadow as a your school at lvl 1 you get weapon focus in unarmed (along with other weapons).

Making TOB characters are a bit more challenging than PHB martial types, but it pays of in more adaptibilty, more synergy, and more action in combat (which for many people translates into fun).

If I was going for a VoP character I'd be very tempted to do it as a SS. You can still have a monks apearance with a more dynamic character in combat. I'd also recommend going Shadow Hand and focusing on dex as you can easily use it to drive attack, AC, and damage (a little feat heavy up front admitedly) followed by wis (AC and riders on some moves). As noted Touch of Golden Ice is great for unarmed combatants, but it does have a Con requirement. Nymph's Kiss has some nice affects, particularly as you'll likely be dumping Cha and/or int (skill points and some moves are based off skills). Humans are good for VoP as they can get in at first level, netting an extra exalted feat at lvl2. As noted, VoP characters typically lack the abilty to fly, which can be rather important when you need to be next to something to hit it, but that can be over come by Shadow Hand. Depending on your starting level (over 6) I'd consider keeping st at an average level (you don't need it to carry things, hit, or do more than small bonuses to damage).

Gnaeus
2011-01-07, 05:24 PM
Making TOB characters are a bit more challenging than PHB martial types, but it pays of in more adaptibilty, more synergy, and more action in combat (which for many people translates into fun).

Disagree. The vast majority of maneuvers are good, with just a few standouts that are awesome or bad. You kinda have to intentionally frack up a ToB character. Making a fighter or monk, OTOH, has lots of pitfalls for the unwary or inexperienced.

You could pick maneuvers at random and still have a good Warblade or Crusader. Try doing that with bonus feats.

plllizzz
2011-01-07, 06:33 PM
Where would you put a Vow of Poverty Druid on the Tier list? Still Tier 1?

you can trasform into a bear riding a bear calling other bears to fight... and now you don't even need equipment

that's Tier 0 for me

Coidzor
2011-01-07, 06:42 PM
you can trasform into a bear riding a bear calling other bears to fight... and now you don't even need equipment

that's Tier 0 for me

I don't think you quite grasp how gear helps increase the power of the druid.

Flickerdart
2011-01-07, 07:09 PM
I don't think you quite grasp how gear helps increase the power of the druid.
Not really. Their casting doesn't need it, their fighting doesn't need it, their pet doesn't need it. Between Wild Shape, no age penalties and VoP, you don't need stat boosters either. Pretty much all you lose is wildling clasps.

Gnaeus
2011-01-07, 07:37 PM
Not really. Their casting doesn't need it, their fighting doesn't need it, their pet doesn't need it. Between Wild Shape, no age penalties and VoP, you don't need stat boosters either. Pretty much all you lose is wildling clasps.

Ring of the beast is like 9000 gp and by itself is more useful to the druid than VoP. Then there are wands, metamagic rods, Raiment of the StormWalker, etc. No, they don't NEED it, but they are vastly better with items than with VOP.

Saint GoH
2011-01-07, 07:42 PM
VoP is situational at best.

If you play with the group who I used to play with, it was incredibly over-powered. This was because over the course of 10 levels I received a total of 100 gold and NO magic items.

If your DM gives two coppers about the WBL chart, then VoP quickly loses its panache.

Coidzor
2011-01-07, 07:53 PM
^: Well, if you're buck naked anyway, VOP definitely loses its downside. Though it's somewhat questionable of the DM's design philosophy if he oks that but starves others of the magical effects the game assumes they'll possess. As unless he either gives it to everyone or feat taxes everyone into taking it, that'd be rather disruptive, I'd think.


Not really. Their casting doesn't need it, their fighting doesn't need it, their pet doesn't need it. Between Wild Shape, no age penalties and VoP, you don't need stat boosters either. Pretty much all you lose is wildling clasps.

Increases power and "X needs Y" are not the same thing. Simply because druids are not prevented from doing their thing by VOP does not mean that gear does not increase their power. (as, hey, Stat boosters + being venerable without penalty beat just being venerable without penalty, and the stat boosters give as good or better benefits than aging anyway except for the lowest tier compared to the highest age category.)

And I was replying to someone saying that a VOP Druid is "Tier 0," which as far as I can recall, means that they would break the system more than a Wizard. Which is just patently false anyway. VOP does not increase the power of a druid over that of gear, and it certainly does not put the druid over the wizard. What he said basically boiled down to the idea that gear to a druid actually holds them back in power.

And unless one starts the campaign venerable at a level after losing aging penalties or the campaign features a lot of time skips, aging penalties (because taking a hit to CON matters to everyone but the undead and the PAO'D) are either going to go right along with the stat bonuses (without dragonwrought kobolding it up which is entirely separate from what druid brings to the table in regards to aging) or aging isn't going to figure at all. So stat boosters are still a valid discrepancy in their caster power with a non-VOP Druid.

In addition, wands and scrolls of useful spells that don't need to be prepared every day but have some urgent demand when they are needed and can't be well predicted when one will need them expands the power of the druid and the party more than some not very well scaling benefits.

And the only thing being lost being wildling clasps is false. You're losing the versatile use of equipment between forms that wilding clasps give, in addition to every other form of magical equipment. Deflection bonuses, miss chances, those sorts of things can be made up for via spells, but that's a spell slot one has to devote every day or several a day for combats and contingencies rather than a constant effect.

Gear lets casters spend their personal spell slots with a bit more freedom. VOP has casters have to make up for the lack of simple utility gear with their personal spell slots or passing the buck to a non-VOP caster or UMDer.

plllizzz
2011-01-07, 08:25 PM
And I was replying to someone saying that a VOP Druid is "Tier 0,"

someone's sense of humor didn't tingle

by overBEORd* opinion on Druids should've make the joke fairly obvious

* - explaining pun to avoid another situation like this: Beorn from Hobbit could shapeshift into a bear too

Bang!
2011-01-07, 09:28 PM
See, it's funny because he said the word 'bear.'

Elfin
2011-01-07, 09:32 PM
Three words:
Maneuvers.
Maneuvers.
Maneuvers.
Stances.

Well, four.

The Glyphstone
2011-01-07, 09:33 PM
And we bearly made it into discussing a druid before the punstorms began.

Elfin
2011-01-07, 09:44 PM
Oh, the druid puns. I never know how I'm able to bear them...

Coidzor
2011-01-07, 10:21 PM
Kung Fu Pandas are better, after all.

true_shinken
2011-01-07, 10:55 PM
UASS it not completely fleshed out in ToB, so it requires some additional interpretation. (Still, it's more detailed than Arcane SS!) While none of this is RAW (UASS, itself, is not "RAW"), it is generally accepted

Someone who understands. :smallcool:
You, sir, are awesome. Have a cookie. Have an internet. You rock.

Stegyre
2011-01-08, 02:26 AM
Have a cookie.
Coconut macaroon, please, not dipped in chocolate.