View Full Version : Pathfinder [PF] [PEACH] The Swordsage (Refluffing the Magus)

2014-05-27, 11:37 AM
Here's my first real attempt at overhauling the class. I like the Magus, but I wanted to do something different with it. Rather than trying to make it inherently a Fighter/Wizard hybrid, I wanted to evoke something more like the Combat Sorcerer from 3.5e. As such, I've gone over the class in an attempt to make it lean a bit closer to being a caster. I also hope that in doing so, it brings it slightly higher, from a high Tier 4 class, to a mid-to-high Tier 3 class, which to me is the ideal placement for all classes.

The Swordsage
There are those who spend their lives poring over ancient tomes and texts, unlocking the power of magic, and there are those who spend their time perfecting the use of individual weapons, becoming masters without equal. The Swordsage is at once a student of both philosophies, blending magical ability and martial prowess into something entirely unique, a discipline in which both spell and steel are used to devastating effect. As he grows in power, the Swordsage unlocks powerful forms of arcana that allow him to merge his talents further, and at the pinnacle of his art, the Swordsage becomes a blur of steel and magic; a force that few foes would dare to stand against. Swordsages spend much of their time traveling the world, learning whatever martial or arcane secrets they can find. They might spend months learning a new sword-fighting style from a master warrior, while simultaneously moonlighting in the local library, poring through tomes of ancient lore. Most who take this path dabble in all sorts of lore, picking up anything that might aid them in their search for perfection. Swordsages often defy expectations. Many are mistaken for rogues and swashbucklers dabbling in minor magic, often to their opponents’ detriment. Clerics, oracles and wizards often view these spellcasters with a degree of mistrust, as they seldom understand the nature or — more importantly — the source of Swordsage’s arcane power. To more formulaic or hierarchal spellcasting traditions, such powers can only mean meddling from beings beyond mortal understanding. Monks and sorcerers are often more accepting of Swordsages, as they know that life energy and magic are more powerful than formulae and devotion would dictate, and see Swordsages as fellow travelers on the road toward power, if not wisdom. Because of the Swordsages’s flexibility, it is rare to find two who practice their arcane arts in exactly the same way, giving rise to many different organizations, disciplines, and tactics.



Alignment: Any.
Hit Die: d8.
Starting Wealth: 4d6 × 10 gp, minus 10 gp (average 140 gp).
Class skills: The Swordsage’s class skills are Climb, Craft, Fly, Intimidate, Knowledge (All), Linguistics, Profession, Ride, Spellcraft, Swim, and Use Magic Device.
Skill Ranks per Level: 4 + Int modifier.

Class Features

Weapon and Armor Proficiency (Ex)
A Swordsage is proficient with all simple and martial weapons. A Swordsage is proficient with light armor, but not with any shields.

Spells (Sp)
A Swordsage casts arcane spells drawn from the Swordsage spell list. A Swordsage can cast any spell he knows without preparing it ahead of time. To learn, prepare, or cast a spell, the Swordsage must have an Intelligence score equal to at least 10 + the spell level. The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against a Swordsage’s spell is 10 + the spell level + the Swordsage’s Intelligence modifier. A Swordsage can cast only a certain number of spells of each spell level per day. His base daily spell allotment is given on Table: The Swordsage. In addition, he receives bonus spells per day if he has a high Intelligence score. A Swordsage's selection of spells is extremely limited. A Swordsage begins play knowing four 0th-level spells and two 1st-level spells, as indicated on Table: Swordsage Spells Known. Unlike Spells per day, the number of spells a Swordsage knows is not affected by his Intelligence score.

Arcane Pool (Su)
At 1st level, the Swordsage gains a reservoir of mystical arcane energy that he can draw upon to fuel his powers and enhance his weapon. This Arcane Pool has a number of points equal to 1/2 his Swordsage level (minimum 1) + his Intelligence modifier. The pool refreshes once per day when the Swordsage wakes up. A Swordsage can expend 1 point from his arcane pool as a swift action to grant any weapon he is holding a +1 enhancement bonus for 1 minute. At level four and every four levels thereafter, the weapon gains another +1 enhancement bonus, to a maximum of +5 at 16th level. These bonuses can be added to the weapon, stacking with existing weapon enhancement to a maximum of +5. Multiple uses of this ability do not stack with themselves. At 5th level, these bonuses can be used to add any of the following weapon properties: dancing, flaming, flaming burst, frost, icy burst, keen, shock, shocking burst, speed, or vorpal. Adding these properties consumes an amount of bonus equal to the property’s base price modifier. These properties are added to any the weapon already has, but duplicates do not stack. These bonuses and properties are decided when the arcane pool point is spent and cannot be changed until the next time the Swordsage uses this ability. These bonuses do not function if the weapon is wielded by anyone other than the Swordsage. A Swordsage can only enhance one weapon in this way at one time. If he uses this ability again, the first use immediately ends.

Blade Bond (Su)
At 1st level, the Swordsage forms a powerful bond with a weapon of his choice, imbuing it with some of his magical prowess, and granting it a form of sentience. Despite the name, the bonded weapon doesn't need to be a bladed-type item. To form a Blade Bond, the Swordsage must undergo a ritual which lasts 24 hours and costs 10gp in materials, plus the cost of a weapon to be used. Upon completion, the Swordsage forms an everlasting link to his weapon. The bonding is much like that of a Wizard and his familiar, though in more of a partnership than a master-servant relationship. If not previously proficient in the chosen weapon, the Swordsage gains proficiency with the weapon, but only specifically when wielding his bonded weapon. As the Swordsage grows in power and experience, so too does his chosen weapon, as seen on Table: Blade Bond, and all of which is described below.


Intelligence: This is the intelligence score of the black blade. The weapon begins knowing one language also known by its Swordsage and has one rank in Knowledge (Arcana). Each time the weapon gains in Intelligence, it gains another rank in Knowledge (Arcana). Upon reaching an Intelligence of 12 and each time it gains a bonus to Intelligence thereafter, the weapon gains a bonus language of the Swordsage's choice, and also gains 1 additional skill point to be spent freely in addition to its rank in Knowledge (Arcana). This extra skill rank may, of course, by also added to Knowledge (Arcana).
Wisdom and Charisma: These are the Charisma and Wisdom scores for the bonded weapon. These scores are used for any relevant Skill Checks or Saves.
Ego: As the weapon grows in power, its force of personality also becomes more manifested. In cases where a bonded weapon and its anyone wielding it come into conflict, the weapon can attempt to exert its dominance (see Intelligent Items).
Hardness: This represents the bonded weapon's ability to resist damage. When an object is struck or sundered, it subtracts its Hardness rating from the damage.
Hit Points: A bonded weapon that take damage equal to half of their Hit Points or more gain the Broken Condition. When a bonded weapon's Hit Points reach zero, it is destroyed. If broken, the weapon is rendered unconscious and powerless until repaired. a damaged weapon can be repaired with the Craft skill and a number of spells like Mending or Make Whole. If destroyed, the bonded weapon can be reforged 1 week later through a special ritual that costs 200 gp per Swordsage level. The ritual takes 24 hours to complete.
Senses: A bonded weapon is aware of everything around it like a creature that can see and hear. It can be blinded and deafened as if it were a creature.
Saves: A bonded weapon uses the base saving throws and modifiers of its Swordsage, even if the Swordsage is not currently wielding the black blade. As a creature lacking a Constitution modifier, it is immune to all effects that require a Fortitude saving throw. As a creature without Dexterity, however, it automatically fails any effects that require a Reflex saving throw.
Special Abilities: All of the following are abilities granted to the Swordsage's bonded weapon, based on level:

Alertness (Ex): While a Swordsage is wielding his black blade, he gains the Alertness feat.
Arcane Blade (Sp): As a free action, the Swordsage can spend a point from his arcane pool to grant his weapon a +1 bonus on damage rolls for 1 minute. For every four levels beyond 1st, this ability gives the black blade another +1 on damage rolls. This bonus is untyped, and stacks with other bonuses.
Telepathy (Su): While a Swordsage is within 10 feet of his bonded weapon, he can communicate telepathically with it in a language that the Swordsage and the weapon share.
Energy Attunement (Su): As a free action, a Swordsage can spend 1 point of his arcane pool to have it deal one of the following types of damage instead of its normal weapon damage: cold, electricity, or fire. He can spend 2 points instead to deal sonic or force damage instead of its normal weapon damage. This effect lasts 1 minute or until the Swordsage attunes the weapon again.
Teleport Blade (Sp): As a move action, a Swordsage can expend 1 point from his arcane pool and can call his bonded weapon from as far as 1 mile away, causing it to instantaneously teleport to his hand.
Unbreakable (Ex): As long as the Swordsage has at least 1 point in his arcane pool, his bonded weapon is immune to the broken condition, even if brought to less than 1/2 of its Hit Points. Likewise, it cannot be destroyed, nor can it drop below 1 Hit Point.
Spell Defense (Sp): A Swordsage can expend 1 point from his arcane pool as a free action; he then gains Spell Resistance equal to his weapon’s ego until the start of his next turn.
Life Drinker (Su): Each time the Swordsage kills a living creature with his weapon, he restores 2 points to his arcane pool and gains a number of temporary hit points equal to the weapon’s ego. These temporary hit points last until spent or 1 minute, whichever is shorter. The creature killed must have a number of Hit Dice equal to half the Swordsage’s character level for this to occur.

Blade Arcana (Su)
As he gains levels, a Swordsage learns arcane secrets tailored to his specific way of blending martial prowess and magical skill. Starting at 2nd level, a Swordsage gains one Blade Arcana. He gains an additional Blade Arcana every other level of Swordsage attained after 2nd level. Unless specifically noted in a Blade Arcana’s description, a Swordsage cannot select a particular Blade Arcana more than once. Blade Arcana that affect spells can only be used to modify spells from the Swordsage spell list, unless otherwise noted. A complete list of Arcana can be found here: Blade Arcana.
[Note: I intend simply to leave Magus Arcana as is, save that those Arcana which have a level prerequisite of 9 or 15 will be changed to level 8 or 14, respectively.]

Spellslice (Su)
At 3rd level, a Swordsage learns to wield his weapon as a focus for his spells. This allows him to cast a spell through his weapon at the moment it strikes his foe. To use this ability, the Swordsage must have one hand free (even if the spell being cast does not have somatic components), while wielding a light or one-handed melee weapon in the other hand. As a standard action, the swordsage selects one spell he knows with a cast time of 1 standard action or 1 swift action, and with a range of touch. The swordsage's weapon is designated as the 'toucher' for the purposes of any relevant effects. He makes a single melee attack at his highest Base Attack Bonus, but with a -2 penalty. If this attack hits his foe, the target is struck with both the spell and the weapon's damage. If the Swordsage is able to make more than one melee attack, he can perform a Spellslice as a Full-Round action in order to make all of his normal attacks as well as an additional free attack for the spell attack. This free attack is made at the Swordsage's highest Base Attack Bonus, but it and all other attacks take the -2 penalty, as normal. Additionally, a Swordsage can choose to make his spell attack or his normal melee attacks first, but he cannot cast the spell in-between normal attacks if he has more than one. If a spell attack misses, it is not expended. Casting a spell in this manner does not provoke an Attack of Opportunity.

Sage Defense (Ex)
Starting at 5th level, when wearing light or no armor, not using a shield, and wielding a melee weapon, a Swordsage adds his Intelligence bonus (if any) as a dodge bonus to his Armor Class. If a Swordsage is caught flat-footed or otherwise denied his Dexterity bonus, he also loses this bonus. Additionally, a Swordsage no longer suffers an Arcane Spell Failure Penalty while wearing Light Armor.
At 11th level, this ability improves, and he learns how to cast in heavier armor. He gains Medium Armor Proficiency and Shield Proficiency. He also gains the benefits of the Sage Defense ability while wearing Medium Armor or while wielding a shield, except for Tower Shields.
At 17th Level, a Swordsage learns how to fire off spells in the heaviest of armor. He gains Heavy Armor Proficiency and Tower Shield Proficiency. He also gains the benefits of Sage Defense even while wearing Heavy Armor or using a Tower Shield. Furthermore, ignores the somatic componets of all spells he knows, learning to cast them without any chance of spell failure, regardless of effects in play.

Spell Recall (Su)
At 5th level, the Swordsage learns to use his arcane pool to refresh his remaining spells for the day. With a swift action he can regain access to any single Swordsage spell slot that has been used up today by expending a number of points from his arcane pool equal to the spell slot's level (minimum 1).

Knowledge Pool (Su)
Beginning at 7th level, A Swordsage can spend 1 minute to temporarily learn a number of spells (up to his Intelligence modifier) from the Swordsage spell list that he does not already know, that last until his next extended rest. This consumes 1 point of Arcane Pool per spell learned.

Brutal Strike (Su)
Starting at 9th Level, when a Swordsage hits with a melee attack, he can spend 1 point from his arcane pool in order to maximize his weapon's damage. Don’t roll for damage — the weapon deals maximum damage. This affects only the weapon’s base damage dice, not additional damage from sneak attack, magical weapon properties, Spellslice, or critical hits. If the Swordsage confirms a critical hit, he can spend an additional 2 points from his arcane pool to increase his weapon’s critical multiplier by 1.

Superior Recall (Su)
At 10th level, the Swordsage’s ability to refresh his remaining spells per day using his arcane pool becomes more efficient. Whenever he uses Spell Recall, he only expends a number of points from his arcane pool equal to 1/2 the spell’s level (minimum 1). Furthermore, the Swordsage can now raise his number of spells remaining above his normal maximum.

Precision Strike (Ex)
At 13th level, the Swordsage gains the ability to strike precisely with any weapon he wields, adding his level to the weapon's damage roll. Precise strike only works against living creatures with discernible anatomies. Any creature that is immune to critical hits is also immune to a precise strike, and any item or ability that protects a creature from critical hits also protects a creature from a precise strike.

Soul Strike (Su)
At 15th level, when using the Spellslice ability, a Swordsage can spend 1 point from his arcane pool to bypass his enemy's armor. Until the start of his next turn, all melee attacks the Swordsage makes are treated as Touch Attacks for the purpose of bypassing armor.

Spell Access
At 19th level, the Swordsage gains access to an expanded spell list. He learns 20 spells from the wizard’s spell list. He can choose any spells he wishes, as long as they are level 6 or lower. He adds these spells to his list of Spells Known as Swordsage spells with the same Spell Level as their wizard spell level.

Blade Mastery
At 20th level, any attacks a Swordsage maked with his bonded weapon automatically confirm all critical threats and have their damage multiplier increased by 1 (×2 becomes ×3, for example). In addition, he cannot be disarmed while wielding his bonded weapon.

Breakdown of changes and reasoning
Spells: Clearly the biggest shift is swapping from prepared to spontaneous caster. This was somewhat for personal reasons, and it seemed to affect fewer other abilities than i'd thought, but it seemed like it might be more of a neat idea to make a caster that had a limited number of spells if we're going to make them fill their brains with fight-knowledge. Also, I completely opted to buck trends and still make it INT-based casting, despite being a spontaneous caster; I really don't know why all spontaneous casters have to be CHA-based, all arcane casters INT-based, and all divine casters WIS-based.

Blade Bond: I feel partner characters are a bit under-utilized both as a game mechanic and as theming. So I took the Blade Bound Archetype apart and inserted it in as a basic class feature. I opted to still only have the swordsage have an arcana pool to keep things simple, and i gave the blade itself a more linear progression in terms stats and abilities. minor tweaking, but somewhat similar in power and scope as the original archetype.

Blade Arcana: refluffed Magus Arcana. I wanted to bring this in line with other class's talents. Rage Powers, Ninja Tricks, Alchemical Discoveries, et al. seem to occur on even-numbered levels. I changed the magus to reflect the same, and dumped the Bonus Feats in order to make up for the difference.

Spellslice: clearly the combination of Spell Combat and Spellstrike was poorly written, given the vast amount of errata and FAQ necessary to clarify it. Given a solid weapon-based-combat that Blade Bond gives us, I more or less wanted to drop Spell Combat. Even spellstrike I tried my best to simplify, making so that swordsages still get to make the extra spell-as-attack, but without the complex mechanics of needing to step into and out of range to avoid concentration checks, or determining if they are making a touch attack or a normal melee attack, and so on. This also led me to entirely ditch improved and greater spell combat too, as the concentration complication is no longer warranted.

Sage Defense: Probably the only thing I wanted as an outright improvement. Essentially this is combining the Cast-in-armor abilities of the magus with Canny Defense from Duelist. To make up for the increase in power, I delayed it all by several levels, giving it a 5/11/17 progression instead of a 1/7/13 progression.

Spell Recall / Superior Recall: the initial is slightly delayed, while the latter brought up. Neither of these has really changed, just moved for a more even pacing.

Spell Knowledge: I didn't actually change anything here, but undoubtedly this is now a much more powerful ability, given the nature of spontaneous casters. I wound up throwing out a bunch of other class abilities just to make up for it.

Brutal Strike: refluffed version of Perfect Strike from the Kensai archetype. Really this is nothing more than a free blade arcana from a unique source, but one that would likely benefit any kind of magus or swordsage. moderately powerful, but not as overwhelmingly broken as some would claim, since it only maximizes the base weapon damage.

Precision strike: yet another item from Kensai, and another free arcana. Admittedly I was on the fence about adding this, but it was unique and I couldn't really think of anything inherently better or more fitting to add this late in the class's progression

Soul Strike: Somewhat the same as precision strike, though being able to get Touch Attack somewhat recalls the feel of Spell Combat's initial purpose. And not really that broken since it's coming in at 15.

As a backup, a copy of the class can be found here (http://excordia.pbworks.com/w/page/80880311/Swordsage): http://excordia.pbworks.com/w/page/80880311/Swordsage

2014-05-28, 09:09 AM
A magus is at least a tier 3 character.
1. They have a spell book which means at some point in the game they have access to all of their spells and can shore up their slots with items. They still have access to many of the renowned wizard spells.
2. The magus's spell combat is a major boon towards action economy especially when they can spell-strike once while still having a full round's worth of actions.

As for your archetype it will have some better numbers in the fighting department but I can't help but think this isn't what a Pathfinder Battle Sorcerer variant would look like at all. What you have is the Kensai and Bladebound variants in one package with a couple of other strict combat abilities with spontaneous casting. If the original wasn't a prepared caster I would actually say it did a far better job than you.

I really think you need to start from scratch and put the spell combat back in. A Battle Sorcerer in the pathfinder sense should optimize the use of metamagic since it is a action economy drag as a spontaneous caster. I would also sprinkle in some bloodline goodness(add bloodline feats to the bonus feat list, spells, powers..etc). Personally I would take out the weapon enhancement abilities with the metamagic and the knowledge pools and counterstrike with the bloodline related stuff.