View Full Version : The Swordmaster (PrC)

2007-02-10, 03:35 AM
This is my second class, the Swordmaster. As my first one was ridiculously overpowered, I decided I suck at measuring power of classes, and have weakened my previous plans for this slightly. Hopefully it comes out mostly balanced, I hope for feedback.

The Swordmaster

Swordmaster’s have the following game statistics:
Abilities: Swordmasters are, quite obviously, masters of sword-fighting. They need dexterity and strength for straight combat, as well as constitution.
Alignment: Any
Hit Dice: d8
Base Attack Bonus +6
Dexterity 15 or higher
Strength 15 or higher
Sleight of hand 5 or more ranks
Proficiency with at least 4 different kinds of sword.
Weapon Specialization (any sword)
Combat Expertise feat

Class Skills as fighter

The Swordmaster
{table=head]Level|Base AttackBonus|Fort Save|Ref Save|Will Save|Special

+0|Primary Stance

+0|Stance or Pattern

+1|Pattern (or a stance if you took Disorienting Pattern at 2nd level)







+3|Stance or Pattern[/table]

Class Features:

[B]Weapon and Armor Proficiencies: The swordmaster is proficient with the short sword, the longsword, the scimitar, the katana, and the rapier. The swordmaster is also proficient with light armor.

A Swordmaster either gains a new Stance or a new Pattern at every level. at 2nd, 10th, and possibly 3rd level, the Swordmaster can choose either one.

Stances: A swordmaster has many stances from which to fight. Different stances allow the swordmaster to fight in different ways. Certain patterns can only be used from certain stances. It is a move action to switch into or enter stances, although it doesn't take an action to cancel a stance. A swordmaster may only be in one stance at a time. If a Swordmaster is grappled or flat-footed, or wears armor heavier than light armor, he loses his stance. While in a stance, the Swordmaster cannot run, and can only move at 1/2 his normal speed. All stances have requirements except Primary Stance, which you get at first level.

Basic Stances

Primary Stance: The swordmaster’s first known stance, being in Primary stance gives +1 to hit, +1 to damage, and a +1 parry bonus to AC. These bonuses carry over into attacks made as part of patterns.

Defensive Stance: In defensive stance you have a smaller array of patterns available, although some defensive patterns can only be used in Defensive or Perfect Guard stance. When a swordmaster is in defensive stance, he gets a +3 parry bonus to AC, as well as a +2 bonus to reflex saves as well as a +2 bonus to grapple checks when an opponent attempts to initiate a grapple. Requirements: Primary Stance

Offensive Stance: When in Offensive Stance, the swordmaster has fewer patterns available; however there are some offensive patterns that can only be used in Offensive or Killing stance. When if Offensive Stance, the swordmaster gains +2 to hit, +2 to damage, and +1 to his critical strike range. These bonuses carry over into attacks made during patterns. Requirements: Primary Stance

Patterns: A swordmaster knows many patterns, which are advanced techniques of the sword that allow the swordmaster to do many useful things during combat, including parrying blows, disarming his opponent, and even attempting a rapid killing strike. Unless otherwise stated, when executing a pattern a swordmaster makes a sleight of hand check (d20 + sleight of hand modifier + swordmaster level) against his target’s sense motive check; however the target adds his dexterity bonus instead of his wisdom bonus to the check: d20 + sense motive modifier (using dex bonus). Once a swordmaster has used a pattern against a target that target gets his intelligence bonus added to his check against that pattern if the swordmaster attempts the same pattern again. The target’s int bonus is added again every time the pattern is attempted against him. This check bonus is reduced by 1 for every hour the target does not have to defend against that swordmaster’s pattern. All patterns are a full-round action, unless otherwise noted, until the swordmaster gains the Rapid Patterns ability at level 10, after which patterns are a standard action, unless otherwise noted. The swordmaster cannot use patterns if he is carrying anything more than a light load, or is wearing medium or heavier armor. All Patterns have requirements.

Basic Patterns

Disorienting Pattern: Disorienting Patten allows the swordmaster to
maneuver in a way so as to throw his opponent off balance, allowing him to strike more easily. When a swordmaster uses Disorienting Pattern, he makes a sleight of hand check against his target’s modified sense motive check. If the swordmaster wins the check, the target becomes flatfooted until the beginning of the swordmaster’s next round. The swordmaster also makes a normal attack against the target, who will have lost his dex bonus to AC. If the swordmaster fails his check, his target does not become flat-footed, and no attack is made. Disorienting Pattern can be used in any stance. Requirements: Primary Stance

Deflecting Pattern: When a swordmaster uses the deflecting pattern, he spins his sword in a flurry that allows him to block attacks as well as hit his opponent. The swordmaster makes a sleight of hand check against his target’s modified sense motive check. If the swordmaster wins the check, he makes a normal attack and gets an additional +3 parry bonus to AC against that opponent next round. If the swordmaster loses the check, the attack is blocked and the swordmaster gets no bonuses. Deflecting Pattern can only be used from Primary, Defensive, or Perfect Guard stance. Requirements: Defensive Stance

Guard-Breaker Pattern: When performing the Guard-Breaker Pattern, the swordmaster weaves his sword in a way so as to avoid his opponent’s defenses. The swordmaster makes his sleight of hand check against the target’s modified sense motive check. If the swordmaster wins the check, he makes an attack against his target, removing any shield or parry bonuses from the target’s AC. If the target wins the check, no attack is made. Guard-Breaker Pattern can be used in Offensive or Killing stance. Requirements: Offensive Stance

Disarming Pattern: Using the Disarming Pattern, a swordmaster can knock his opponent’s weapon from his hands. The swordmaster makes the normal opposed checks. If he is successful, he knocks his opponent’s weapon from his hands, which flies 10 feet in a direction of the swordmaster’s choosing. If the opponent wins the check, he is not disarmed. Disarming Pattern can only be used in Defensive Stance or Perfect Guard Stance. Requirements: Defensive Stance

Advanced Patterns

Retreat Pattern: A Swordmaster can return from an offensive or neutral position into a defensive one. when executing a Retreat Pattern, the Swordmaster moves from Primary, Improved Primary, Offensive, or Killing Stance into Defensive or Perfect Guard Stance. This is a move action, therefore the Swordmaster may attack from his attacking position and then switch into a defensive position before his foe can strike back. Requirements: Deflecting Pattern

Wild Thrust: A swordmaster can abandon his defensive position to make a wild and powerful sword thrust at his target. This ability can only be used from Defensive Stance or Perfect Guard Stance. The swordmaster makes an attack that gains +2 to hit, +5 to damage, a doubled critical range, and ignores the targets parry bonuses to AC. After this attack is made the swordmaster becomes flatfooted and stance-less. At the beginning of the swordmaster’s next round, he is forced to enter offensive stance as a move action. Wild thrust is a full-round action that qualifies as a pattern. Requirements: Guard-Breaker Pattern

Master Stances

Improved Primary Stance: The Swordmaster learns to improve his basic stance. When in Primary Stance, the swordmaster gets +2 to hit, +1 to damage, and +2 to AC, instead of the previous +1/+1/+1. Requirements: Offensive Stance, Defensive Stance.

Perfect Guard Stance: When a swordmaster gains Perfect Guard Stance, he learns to hold himself in a way to deflect or avoid many enemy blows. He gains a +3 parry bonus to AC, a +2 dodge bonus to AC, as well as a +3 bonus to reflex saves as well as a +3 bonus to grapple checks when an opponent attempts to initiate a grapple. Requirements: Retreat Pattern, Disarming Pattern

Killing Stance: Killing Stance is learned only by powerful Swordmasters focusing on combat, allowing them to tear through their enemies with rapid speed and skill. While in Killing Stance, a Swordmaster gains +2 to hit and +3 to damage, as well as increasing his critical range by 2. Requirements: Wild Thrust

Master Patterns

Wall of Steel: A Swordmaster using this pattern may parry enemy blows so efficiently there appears to be a wall of steel flashing in front of him. When a swordmaster is in Perfect Guard Stance, he may begin a Wall of Steel at the beginning of his round. When executing a Wall of Steel a swordmaster loses the dodge bonus from Perfect Guard Stance, as well as the reflex and grapple bonuses. However, he gains an additional +5 parry bonus to AC, and may make attacks of opportunity at -2 to hit against anyone within his threatened range during the Wall of Steel. The Wall of Steel lasts until the beginning of the Swordmasters next round, at which point he becomes flat-footed and cannot act that round. Requirements: Perfect Guard Stance

Killing Strike: When in Killing Stance, the Swordmaster may attempt to strike at a vital point on the body of the target. To attempt a killing strike the Swordmaster makes his normal check for attempting a pattern. If the Swordmaster loses the roll, he makes no killing attack. If the Swordmaster wins the check by less than 5, the victim takes the damage from a Swordmaster’s normal attack x1.5. If the swordmaster wins the check by 5 or more, but less than 10, the target takes critical damage from the weapon. If the Swordmaster beats the check by 10 or more, the target must make a fortitude save (DC 10 + amount by which the Swordmaster won the roll) or be killed. After attempting a Killing Strike, the Swordmaster automatically enters Primary Stance. Killing Strike is a full round action, and cannot be attempted on enemies that have no discernable anatomy or are immune to critical hits, such as undead, oozes, and constructs. Requirements: Killing Stance

Stance and Pattern Requirements
Primary Stance: none
Defensive Stance: primary stance
Offensive Stance: primary stance

Disorienting Pattern: Primary Stance
Deflecting Pattern: Defensive Stance
Guard-Breaker Pattern: Offensive Stance
Disarming Pattern: Defensive Stance

Wild Thrust: Guard-Breaker Pattern
Retreat Pattern: Deflecting Pattern

Improved Primary Stance: Offensive Stance, Defensive Stance
Perfect Guard Stance: Retreat Pattern, Disarming Pattern
Killing Stance: Wild Thrust

Wall of Steel: Perfect Guard Stance
Killing Strike: Killing Stance

There it is, with new modifications thanks to magic8BALL. Anyone else have feedback for the now improved Swordmaster?

2007-02-10, 06:45 AM
Well... I'm gonna pull this apart and have a good look...

A 15 level PrC... with BAB +8... this assumes your DM is willing to go epic... espicially with the sleight of hand prereq... level 25 at least - probly more - before you see the last level of this... seems too much.

The ability score prereqs should be odd numbers, and it's not worth metioning any number less than 13.

Ouch... a d6 hit die for a melee prestige class?

What, is the greatsword not a sword all of a sudden?

...and why do they gain these proficiencies... I would imagine they need them to become a swordmaster... weapon specialisation, or even just weapon focus in a sword would seem to be a must for a PrC called sword master.

And having a look at all the work you've put into the patterns and stances and such, it seems a shame to point out that they seem a bit over powered, particulaly the primary stance and defensive stance, but not too overpowered, it's a PrC after all.


- BAB +6
- Dex 15
- Str 15 (becouse anyone with any sword fighting should)
- Slight of hand 5 ranks
- proficiency with at least 4 types of sword
- Combat Expertise
- Weapon Specialisation (any sword)
(I've left lightning reflexes out becouse that does nothing for the class.)

Hit Die: d8

The class itself:
10 levels, at each one you get a choice of a stance or pattern. You pick them like they were feats. Like feats, they have prereqs, so to take Improved Primary stance, you need to have Primary Stance. To take Killing Strike, a swordmaster must have Killing Stance, and to have Killing Stance he must have Improved Primary Stance. To take X stance/pattern, he must have all stances and/or patterns A to F on wich X relies. You get it..? Sort of like a big version of exotic weapon master.

I hope this is helpful... becouse it took a while to type out! :) It's not too far away from what you were trying to do, was it?

2007-02-10, 06:39 PM
Nice, thanks for all the suggestions. You are definitely right on these, and I didn't really realize there weren't 15 level PrCs until I was posting it, but oh well.

The reason I didn't make greatsword qualify for patterns is you can't really whip around a greatsword to outmatch other people in terms of skill, they are more like battering the enemy into submission weapons.

I like the idea of making the patterns into selections instead of just gains, maybe even with a limited enough number of choices that you can't get both Perfect Guard and Killing stance.

I think the stances are ok in power, after looking at some other PrCs, like Dragon Disciple, where by tenth level you have +8 str, +2 con +2 int, +2 cha, and +4 natural AC, and those are just the passive bonuses. Although I'm not sure about Perfect Guard and Killing Stance, they may be a little too much.

Your new prereqs are definitely way better than mine. I'll fix them and everything else.

2007-02-11, 06:31 PM
I'm sure there are a number of people, perhaps on this board, who could do it. PC-statted characters who hack apart iron golems certainly could.

I havn't read it, but is this like the nine swords book that's out? they've got combat maneuvers there, and BAB isn't as high as for fighters.

are the maneuvers more powerful for this prc than feats are for a fighter?

2007-02-11, 07:21 PM
I think so, they are supposed to be. The advanced and master patterns certainly are, and basic patterns are a bit better, I think. It is a PrC with pretty strict reqs, and they aren't too much better, so I think they are ok.
I'm not sure what you mean by "there are a number of people who could do it". What exactly do you mean there?

2007-02-17, 03:40 AM
C'mon, doesn't anyone else have any suggestions?

I looked over the class and the abilities, and it is possible to get both Killing Stance and Perfect Guard Stance, but then you would have neither of the Master Patterns. So what do people think? Is it over/underpowered?

Also, should it have more diversity in patterns and stances available? A third tree, other than offensive and defensive? If so, any ideas for it?

2007-02-17, 11:25 AM
PrCs generally don't have ability score prerequisites. It syayts so somewhere in the DMs guide.

2007-02-18, 03:22 AM
I dunno, I just read through the creating classes section of the DM guide and couldn't find anything like that. But anyways, this class really requires you to be fast and strong, to be able to handle a sword so deftly, someone without 15 in str and dex wouldn't really be able to do these things.

2007-03-04, 10:59 PM
Fluff would be nice. To difference them from fighters, swashbucklers or SwordSages.

2007-03-04, 11:33 PM
Just a note, since Tome of Battle allready uses their own form of stances, you might want to change the name of that ability.

2007-03-05, 07:29 AM
The thing about ability scores is in Dungeon Master's Guide II, and it says that ability scores prereqs are too much a matter of luck. And I agree. 15 is pretty hefty sum, and don't forget they need an Intelligence of 13 to get the Combat Expertise feat. Combined, it's a bit much. If you really want them to have an above average strength and dex, just put Power Attack (str 13 req) and Dodge (dex 13 req) on the prerequisite list.

Also, the ability to use 4 different swords is a bit useless as prerequisite, since you need to be a fighter for the PrC (Weapon Specialization), and a fighter learns all Martial Weapon Proficiencies anyway.

Good idea for the rest, but yeah, you made rename stance. Pose maybe?

Ever Phasm
2007-03-05, 07:23 PM
very good overall but make the base stances incorporate a penalty as well. E.G.

Defensive stance: +2 AC, +2 Reflex Saves, +2 Grapple, -2 attack.
Offensive Stance: +2 attack, +2 Damage, +1 crit threat range, -2 AC.

That sort of thing. Obviously the more advanced Stances don't need a disadvantage.

Also, this PrC has given me ideas for Axe Masters, Spear Masters, etc.

2007-03-05, 08:02 PM
2^ flawed.perfection, thanks for the feedback, and the feats is a good idea. And it is possible for a non-fighter class to get thoes feats, it'd just take longer. I think. As to renaming stances because they are already used....I dunno, I think the word stance fits, but if something else uses it I guess I'd have to.

^Ever Phasm, I dunno about giving minuses to the stances, it is a PrC, and some are pretty powerful. I'm not really sure if it is overpowered however, and I don't get many opportunities to playtest my PrCs, so it is possible it needs minuses as well. If I get opportunities to try it out, I may change things, and if you do, I could definitely use any comments on how it does.

Ever Phasm
2007-03-06, 11:47 AM
The reason it needs minuses is mainly logic.

"I can focus on my enemies every move, countering with dazzling precision, this focus occupies my entire mind. I have no room in my mind for offensive thought. I am to be busy protecting my self." Hank Li, A Swordmaster talking about the defensive stance.

That is the way total defense and rage work, they take up a lot of concentration and you get good benefits as long as you focus entirely on one thing.

The same thing goes for offensive stance.

Oh, make it so you have to move half speed while in a stance.

With those and the changes this is one awesome PrC, still.

2007-03-06, 09:57 PM
I definitely like the halving move speed, that's an excellent idea. Can't run either.

I dunno still, I think the point of those stances is just that they are just better than the average adventurer (aka, not PrCs) with a sword, so they can focus a little more on defense or offense without giving up the other. Thats why primary stance is just a small bonus to all. It's more like giving up the +1 AC from primary to get offensive bonuses.

If I did rework it to be plus and minus, I think I'd also increase the bonus very slightly. Although I am still a little worried about whether it is slightly overpowered, I'm not really sure.

2007-03-18, 10:36 AM
How do you play this PrC you didn't right any backround or even a few senteences about the PrC that tells the players what it is.
Mechanical is not everything

2007-03-18, 10:39 AM
How do you play this PrC you didn't right any backround or even a few senteences about the PrC that tells the players what it is.
Mechanical is not everything

Yes, some fluff please. Apart from abilties, were does it differe from a fighter, swordsage, or whatever other figher classes there are out there?

2007-03-20, 05:00 PM
The swordmaster class isn't really about the background, they have no special goals, no special order, or anything like that. I could add some I guess, but the Swordmaster is really primarily someone really good with swords, who could have any goal or background.

2007-07-19, 08:01 PM
You really shouldn't put ability scores as a prereq. (It's recommended that way in the DMG). That leaves it to luck instead of player choices. (Of course, you could require a feat that requires a certain ability score because they chose the feat.)