THE BEREFT BLADE
(In a spoiler box for your reading convenience!)
"Come closer, I don’t bite"
- Beckett, a Bereft Blade
Many who choose to study the art of the blade learn to attack harshly, attacking those who would otherwise harm them. A bereft blade, however, instead chooses to follow a slyer style, blending shadow magic and the art of the blade in a unique style that allows him to destroy his enemies.
As warriors, bereft blades often choose to strengthen their body, as the energies from the shadow plane that flow through them are difficult to control. However, the power of the mysteries that they learn is based upon their strength of personality, so many bereft blades do not forget to strengthen their charisma.
The bereft blade functions on the ability to incapacitate his foes, either by drawing them into melee with him or by disabling him with his mysteries. As such, a bereft blade often functions as a damage taker or “tank” for a party.
Many Bereft blades find themselves studying their unique art as a result of meeting a shadowcaster or otherwise learning of the art. A few find that they can naturally tap into the powers of the plane of shadow after a traumatic experience, but these cases are few and far between.
Bereft blades are often solitary, with very few ever meeting other bereft blades. However, many sects of shadowcasters will eagerly accept a bereft blade into their midst, in order to learn about their talents.
Bereft blades are not predisposed to any alignment by nature. However, the natural thought that dark equals evil results in a comparatively small number of good bereft blades.
Races that have a natural connection to the plane of shadow such as Umbrals or Shadowswyfts are more likely to take up the mantle of the bereft blade, but a member of any race can learn the art.
Many bereft blades are atheistic, choosing to worship the pure power of shadow rather than any one god. Those who do often follow gods of knowledge, darkness, or death.
Bereft blades practice an art that very few can understand. The more academic classes may show a scholarly interest, while martial classes may find their ways odd. Paladins, rangers, duskblades, and other similar classes can often empathize with the difficulty of learning battle and spellcasting simultaneously, but only other bereft blades and shadowcasters can truly understand the shadow skills that a bereft blade knows.
In campaigns where the plane of shadow does not exist, bereft blades can draw their power from the areas between the planes, or any other source that the DM deems acceptable. In addition, any adaptation used for shadowcasters can be used for bereft blades, if a campaign includes both. DMs using the Tome of Battle might find it appropriate to substitute the shadowcasting abilities of the bereft blade for Shadow Hand stances or maneuvers, but this requires more work for the DM.
d10 – A bereft blade is strengthened by the shadow in him, as well as his martial training.
2d10 * 10 GP – Bereft Blades rarely start out wealthy, but are still able to afford basic armor and weaponry.
The Bereft Blade's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are: Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Decipher Script (Int), Hide (Dex), Jump (Str), Knowledge (all skills taken individually) (Int), Move Silently (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), Spellcraft (Int), Swim (Str), and Use Magic Device (Cha)
Skill Points at First Level:
(4 + Int mod)*4
Skill Points at Each Additional Level:
4 + Int mod
Weapon and Armor Proficiencies:
|Level||Base Attack Bonus||Fort Save||Ref Save||Will Save||Special||Mysteries Known|
|Apprentice Mysteries, Draw of the Void (15 ft.)||1|
|Armored Shadowcasting (Light Armor)||1|
|Draw of the Void (20 ft.)||2|
|Armored Shadowcasting (Medium Armor)||3|
|Draw of the Void (25 ft.)||4|
|Apprentice Mysteries (Spell-like), Initiate Mysteries||5|
|Draw of the Void (30 ft.)||5|
| Draw of the Void (35 ft.)||7|
| Draw of the Void (40 ft.)||8|
|Apprentice Mysteries (Supernatural), Initiate Mysteries (Spell-Like), Master Mysteries||9|
| Draw of the Void (45 ft.)||10|
A bereft blade is proficient with all simple weapons, martial weapons, light armor, and medium armor.
Mysteries and Paths: Short Version:
Long (but more complete) Version:
Draw of the Void (Su):
You do not cast spells as other classes do, but instead invoke mystical secrets called mysteries (see Tome of Magic, pages 139–153). You know one mystery at 1st level and gain one additional mystery every other class level. Up to 9th level, you can learn only apprentice mysteries. At 9th level, you gain access to initiate mysteries, and at 18th level you become able to use master mysteries. You can choose your new mystery from any category you have access to. For instance, at 8th level, you could select an apprentice mystery or an initiate mystery. Unlike shadowcasters, bereft blades learn fundamentals as apprentice mysteries, with the normal uses per day associated with apprentice mysteries.
Shadow magic progresses in very specific stages. You may not “jump ahead” in a path, although you need not complete a path if you do not wish to. Within a category (apprentice, initiate, master), you can only learn mysteries of a new level if you have learned at least two mysteries of a previous level, and you must know all previous mysteries within a path to select a mystery from that path. For example, you cannot learn congress of shadows (the second mystery of the Ebon Whispers path) until you know at least two 1st-level mysteries, one of which must be voice of shadow (the first mystery of that path).
However, you can always select the first mystery in a path of a category you have access to, even if you didn’t complete the lower category paths. For example, you could learn the [i]shadow vision[i/] mystery, the first one (4th level) in the Initiate Veil of Shadows path, even if you know no 3rd level mysteries (all of which are in the Apprentice category).
Mysteries represent thought patterns and formulae so alien that other spells seem simple in comparison. As you progress, however, your connection to the Plane of Shadow grows stronger, and your mysteries become more ingrained in your essence. When you are capable of casting only apprentice mysteries, you cast them as though they were arcane spells. They all have somatic components, armor-based spell failure chance, and are subject to interruption (but they do not require material components, foci, or verbal components).
Whenever you cast a mystery as an arcane spell, observers can make a DC 15 Spot check to note that your shadow is making different gestures from the ones you make when you cast the mystery (see Detecting Mysteries, Tome of Magic page 138).
At 9th level, when you become capable of casting initiate mysteries (whether or not you choose to learn any), your apprentice mysteries become so much a part of you that they now function as spell-like abilities, and they no longer require somatic components. Your new initiate mysteries (when you learn them) function as arcane spells and follow the rules described above.
When you reach 18th level and become capable of casting master mysteries, another change occurs. Your master mysteries now function as arcane spells, and your initiate mysteries function as spell-like abilities. Your apprentice mysteries become supernatural abilities. (See Tome of Magic page 139 for rules governing supernatural abilities.) You can learn a mystery more than once. Each time you relearn a mystery, you gain another set of uses of that mystery per day.
You can use each mystery you know a certain number of times per day depending on whether it is cast as a spell (once), a spell-like ability (two times), or a supernatural ability (three times). The allotments per level are given on Tome of Magic Table 2–2, but only apply if you are able to cast mysteries of the level indicated. For example, if you choose breadth over depth and know no 4th-level mysteries as a 9th-level bereft blade, you cannot take advantage of the one use per mystery per day detailed in the table. Unlike spellcasters, you don’t get bonus mysteries for a high ability score. Although you do not prepare spells, you must rest for 8 hours and meditate for 15 minutes each day to regain your use of mysteries just as a sorcerer or bard must rest and meditate to regain use of spell slots.
In order to cast a mystery, you must have a Constitution score of at least 10 + the mystery’s level. The save DC for your mysteries equals 10 + mystery level + your Charisma modifier. Even though as a bereft blade you do not “cast spells” in the traditional sense, your levels in this class count for the purpose of determining your overall caster level.
As a move action, a bereft blade may tap into the power of the Plane of Shadow and pull his opponents towards him as the emptiness of the plane draws them closer. Every foe within 100 ft. of the bereft blade must make a will save of DC 10 + ˝ the bereft blade’s class level + the bereft blade’s Charisma Modifier. If they fail their save, they must move towards the bereft blade, as a free action, 15 feet or as far as possible if they are closer than that amount. Every 3 levels, this distance increases by 5 feet. If doing so would put the foe in an obviously harmful situation other than proximity to the Bereft Blade (For instance, if there is a pool of acid between him and the bereft blade) the foe gains a +5 bonus to his save.
Armored Shadowcasting (Ex):
As the bereft blade practices his skills with manipulating shadow, he learns to summon its power despite the burden of armor. A bereft blade of level 2 or higher may ignore the Spell Failure Chance from any light armor. This does not allow him to ignore the ASF from shields. At level 5, this benefit extends to medium armor.
Pulling Strike (Ex):
A bereft blade of level 3 or above chooses to train himself in attacking enemies as they are pulled toward him by his Draw of the Void ability, to make further use of this unique talent. Any foes pulled by the bereft blade’s Draw of the Void ability provoke an attack of opportunity from the bereft blade as they enter
a square that he threatens. This does not allow the bereft blade any extra attacks of opportunity over the normal amount that he would be allowed.
Bereft Terrain (Su):
By tapping into the plane of shadow, a bereft blade of at least level 6 can phase some terrain partially out of existence, making it harder for characters to travel in it. As a standard action that provokes attacks of opportunity, the bereft blade may spend a use of any mystery he knows to select a number of 5 by 5 foot squares equal to his class level. These squares become difficult terrain for 1 minute or until the bereft blade dispels the effect.
Accelerated Mysteries (Ex):
As a bereft blade uses the mysteries he knows more and more often, he learns to more easily incorporate them into his combat style, gaining the ability to cast them faster. A bereft blade of level 8 or above gains the ability to cast or use his mysteries as a move action rather than a standard action.
Voided Terrain (Su):
At level 11, a bereft blade can take an area of terrain and shunt it completely to the plane of shadow, removing it from the reality of the material plane altogether. When a bereft blade uses his bereft terrain ability, he may choose a number of unoccupied 5 by 5 foot squares equal to the normal amount. There squares are ripped from reality itself – they become impassable terrain that blocks line of effect and line of sight, in addition to providing total cover. It is impossible to fly over these squares or burrow under them – the entire area is temporarily removed from the very fabric of reality itself. This effect lasts for 1 minute or until dispelled by the bereft blade.
Trapping Strike (Ex):
A bereft blade of level 12 has practiced with the use of shadow enough to be able to trap opponents close to him by warping the shadows around them. Whenever a bereft blade successfully strikes an opponent within 5 ft. of him, he may choose to trap that opponent. Any opponents so trapped cannot move more than 5 feet away from the bereft blade. This ability is in effect for 1 minute unless they succeed on a Will save of DC 10 + ˝ the bereft blade’s class level + the bereft blade’s Charisma Modifier when the bereft blade strikes the target. If an effect would force the opponent away, that effect fails. A bereft blade can only trap one enemy at a time.
Void Blade (Su):
At level 14, a bereft blade gains the ability to wrap his weapon in shadow, turning it into a void similar to a Sphere of Annihilation
. Any weapon wielded by the bereft blade is automatically filled with the power of shadow. Any such weapon ignores an amount of DR equal to the bereft blade’s class level and deals untyped damage.
Quickened Mysteries (Ex):
As a bereft blade continues to use his mysteries, he may blend it with his swordplay at a level impossible for many spellcasters, further refining his ability to cast mysteries. Whenever a bereft blade of level 15 or greater attacks, he may cast a mystery as a free action.
Void Self (Su):
A bereft blade of level 17 or greater has gained an ability that few others can comprehend - by shifting himself to the plane of shadow for a split second, he may avoid attacks against him. Whenever an opponent tries to attack a bereft blade, that bereft blade may spend a use of a mystery to negate all effects of that attack, including damage, any tripping attempts, and so on. This is a free action, and must be declared before the blade is aware of the results of the attack.
Void Sphere (Su):
At level 20, a bereft blade has gained mastery over his link to the plane of shadow, and can call upon the very manifestation of the void itself. A bereft blade automatically gains control of any Spheres of Annihilation
within 100 feet of him. In addition, Once per day, a bereft blade can spend a full round action to summon a Sphere of Annihilation
anywhere within 10 ft. This sphere is automatically under the blade’s control, and vanishes after one minute or until dismissed by the blade.