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    Default Spirit of Steel: The Crusader's Handbook [WIP]

    Spirit of Steel: The Crusaderís Handbook [WIP]
    This is currently under construction, and will be fleshed out more as I gain more information.
    If you want to toss in your two cents, feel free to shoot me a PM.




    Faith is not belief. Belief is passive. Faith is active.
    - Edith Hamilton

    Why Play a Crusader?

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    -You get a d10 hit die and full BAB. Not quite as good as a Warblade, but still great.

    -Maneuvers refresh automatically, so you always have a tool at hand to use.

    -The Crusader-only Devoted Spirit discipline is quite powerful.

    -Crusaders, unlike Fighters, have more than one way to use the action economy. Since maneuvers can be used as standard, swift, and immediate actions, you can pull many tricks out of your hat each round.


    Why Use Tome of Battle?

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    Blatanly stolen from Elfin. Credit goes to him
    Quote Originally Posted by Elfin View Post
    There are endless cycles of debate about Tome of Battle: why it sucks, why itís great, why the fluff is awful, whether itís balanced, etcetera. Naturally, opinions vary widely, but Iíve found that Tome of Battle greatly enriches the playing experience at my table, mainly for two reasons:

    - It makes melee fun to play. Some people enjoy endlessly repeating their full attack routine; many want something more. And Tome of Battle provides you with lots more options and tactics, which include the ability to make decisions more meaningful than how much youíll Power Attack for this turn.

    - It levels the playing field. Around here itís an oft-recited saying that Ďfighters scale linearly, wizards scale quadraticallyí. Tome of Battle by no means closes that gap, but it unquestionably narrows it.


    The following ranking system will be used:

    Red: Bad. Stay away from these.
    Green: Situational. Mostly bad, with notable exceptions.
    Black: Neutral. There are better options, but you could do worse.
    Blue: Good. This is where things start getting awesome. Almost always a solid option.
    Gold: Amazing. The best of the best. If you donít take this, you need a good reason.

    Change Log:

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    12/30/10: Handbook posted.
    12/31/10: Fixed some typos, and reevaluated some options based on feedback.
    1/16/11: Added all maneuvers and up to 3rd level stances.
    Last edited by Private-Prinny; 2011-01-16 at 02:18 PM.

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    Default Re: Spirit of Steel: The Crusader's Handbook

    Roles: Devotion to a Cause

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    Primary Melee: Your maneuvers and BAB give you some really powerful melee strength. Use this to your advantage.

    Tank: This is what you do. Your class features are built for this, your disciplines support this, and your build should reflect this.

    Battlefield Control: Really, your ability to do this is what makes you tank so well. Restriction of movement is the name of your game. You can effectively lock enemies in place, allowing you to absorb all of their blows.

    Ranged Combat: No. JustÖ no. Your maneuvers donít work at a range, and you canít tank very well from 80 ft. away. Keep a composite longbow just in case, but donít expect it to be any good.


    Class Features: Devotionís Power

    Fundamentals:

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    Full Base Attack Bonus: This is always good for a melee class. The fourth iterative attack and a higher chance to hit are always good to have.

    d10 Hit Die: Good, but not fantastic. As the tanking class, you could do with a bit more, but this will do.

    Good Fortitude Save: Every melee class gets this, but not every melee class gets Mettle. This is more useful than normal for you.

    Bad Reflex and Will Saves: This is where things get bad. Unlike a Warblade, you have almost no way to compensate for these low saves, so you should try to do what you can to help them.

    4 Skill Points/Level: Actually pretty good, seeing as not many skills need investment for a Crusader.


    Class Features:

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    Maneuvers: These are, quite simply, the main draw of the Crusader class. The disciplines available to you are Devoted Spirit, Stone Dragon, and White Raven. Devoted Spirit and White Raven are two of the best disciplines in the Tome of Battle (along with Diamond Mind and Iron Heart, IMO). These are your real class features.

    Stances: With such gems as Iron Guardís Glare, Thicket of Blades, and Aura of _____, you donít even need more than four. These are brilliant.

    Steely Resolve: At low levels, this can be good for squeezing out that one more turn of action before unconsciousness. At later levels, this can be used with Stone Power to act like DR 10/-. Useful, but it doesnít scale well enough for my taste.

    Furious Counterstrike: A small bonus never hurt, especially when it stacks with a magic weapon. It can help you fuel Stone Power or Power Attack, but it has similar scaling problems as Steely Resolve.

    Indomitable Soul: With this, you can safely dump Wisdom without completely tanking your Will save. The fact that you use Charisma for Smite and the save DC for a few maneuvers, as well as Diplomacy and Intimidate, makes this actually fairly useful. The later Mettle ability is icing on the cake.

    Zealous Surge: Save rerolls are few and far between, and at the very least you can negate a natural 1 once every day. Uses per day limitation is the only thing keeping this from being blue.

    Smite: This suffers from a massive use/day limitation. It has the same problem as the Paladinís Smite Evil, only more so. Not that great, but the extra damage can still be good when you get it.

    Die Hard: This feat is effectively an extra 10 HP, and you donít need Endurance to snag it. Not bad at all.

    Mettle: This is nice. This is very nice. You should be passing all of those Fortitude saves anyway, so this makes you effectively immune to a number of spells.


    Skills: When Violence is not the Answer

    Class Skills:

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    Balance: If you have the skill points to spare enough to get 5 ranks, do it immediately. Not being caught off guard by a Grease spell is fantastic. Also the discipline skill for Stone Dragon.

    Concentration: If you go into Eternal Blade, or otherwise gain access to Diamond Mind, this is a must. Otherwise, itís not that great.

    Craft: Leave crafting to the NPCs. You have few enough skill points as it is.

    Diplomacy: The discipline skill for White Raven is also one of the most broken skills in 3.5. If you have the points, they go in here.

    Intimidate: The discipline skill for Devoted Spirit, as well as one of the more useful skills in general. The Fearsome armor enhancement from Drow of the Underdark is of particular use here.

    Jump: Without access to Tiger Claw, this doesnít see enough use for a worthwhile investment.

    Knowledge (History): I canít recall the last time Iíve ever needed a Knowledge (History) check for anything. Still, if you have a story-heavy DM, you might want a few ranks.

    Knowledge (Religion): As one of the more common knowledges, this is worth a few points if you can spare them.

    Martial Lore: Not really one of the things you need to know unless youíre in an initiator-heavy campaign. You can pass on this without much consequence.

    Ride: Obviously, if youíre mounted, you need this, and if you arenít, you donít.


    Cross-Class Skills:

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    Spot, Listen, and Search are always worth a few points, if you have them.
    Last edited by Private-Prinny; 2010-12-30 at 10:06 PM.

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    Default Re: Spirit of Steel: The Crusader's Handbook

    Abilities: The Divine Spark

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    Strength: This is your melee stat. It affects attack rolls, damage rolls, and a few skill checks. You need this to be high.
    Recommended Score: 16-18 before adjustments

    Dexterity: You want a positive bonus, but you might not have the points to spare to make it too high. Mostly, you would want this to help your Reflex save and for attacks of opportunity. Not a high priority, but nice if you can spare it.
    Recommended Score: 10-12 before adjustments

    Constitution: You are a tank with a d10 hit die. You need all the HP you can get. In addition, your Fort save can never be high enough, especially once you get Mettle.
    Recommended Score: 14-16 before adjustments

    Intelligence: All this really helps you with is skill points, which you have about enough of for your purposes. Avoid a penalty, but you donít need it like a Warblade does.
    Recommended Score: 10-12 before adjustments

    Wisdom: Apart from a few cross-class skills, the only thing Wisdom does is help your Will save, which is boosted by your Charisma starting at level 2. You need a dump stat, and this is it.
    Recommended Score: 8-10 before adjustments

    Charisma: This stat helps with several skills, including the fabulous Diplomacy and Intimidate. It boosts your low Will save, thanks to Indomitable Soul. It determines the odd save DC for strikes. It gets added to your attack roll when you Smite. This is a good stat to keep around.
    Recommended Score: 12-14 before adjustments


    Sample Stat Arrays

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    Elite Array: 15 12 14 10 8 13
    25 Point Buy: 16 11 14 10 8 12
    28 Point Buy: 16 12 14 10 10 12
    32 Point Buy: 16 14 14 10 10 14
    40 Point Buy: 16 14 16 10 10 16
    60 Point Buy: 18 16 18 14 10 16


    Races: Chosen of the Cause

    Core:

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    Human: As usual, humans are among the top choices for a race. Needless to say, the extra skill points and feat are amazing.

    Dwarf: Dwarves actually make really good Crusaders. The +2 bonus on saves against spells is always useful, the extra Constitution is great, and the 20 ft. speed is pretty much negated since heavy armor is common for Crusaders. The Charisma hit hurts slightly, but itís worth it for the other features.

    Elves: There are several Elven subraces, which all will be considered. On a special note, Elves qualify for the Eternal Blade prestige class.

    High Elf: Not a bad option, especially if your DM doesnít like subraces. The Constitution penalty hurts a lot, but the class features of an Eternal Blade more than make up for it. If youíre playing a lockdown build, the Dexterity boost can also be quite useful.
    Gray Elf: Strength and Constitution penalties. Run away. Run away fast.
    Wild Elf: Probably the strongest choice of Elves, mostly due to the fact that itís the only kind that doesnít have a Constitution penalty. If I was an Elven crusader, this would be my pick.
    Wood Elf: Strength and Dexterity boosts, Constitution and Intelligence penalties. Not the worst choice, but you really have to need the extra Strength to justify this.

    Gnome: Yeah, Gnomes are a bad choice. The Strength penalty takes your damage down and negates the bonus to attack rolls from small size. The 20 ft. speed makes you move really slowly when you don heavy armor, and Gnomes, unlike Dwarves, donít come with any way to work around this. Extra Constitution is nice, but itís not that nice.
    Draz74 pointed put that Gnomes can do mounted combat in small areas, a possibility that I neglected. If you're building a mounted combatant, these become a much stronger pick.

    Half-Elf: Theyíre basically slightly worse humans. Fortunately, they can qualify for Eternal Blade without any stat adjustments, so theyíre not a horrible choice.

    Half-Orc: The Strength bonus is not worth it. The mental stat penalties are bad for you. Not the worst *coughGrayElfcough*, but not fantastic either. Only if you need the extra Strength.

    Halfling: Strength penalty, the boost is to a non-priority stat, low speed in full plate, and all of the ways to get a character to run off of Dexterity are both feat intensive and not conducive to a Crusaderís fighting style. Skip these guys.


    Reserved for non-core races and combat styles.
    Last edited by Private-Prinny; 2010-12-31 at 02:05 PM.

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    Default Re: Spirit of Steel: The Crusader's Handbook

    Maneuvers: Divine Wrath

    Choosing Disciplines

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    Crusaders have access to three disciplines: Devoted Spirit, Stone Dragon, and White Raven. Access to only three different disciplines might seem like a handicap, but in reality, having access to three means that you can take maneuvers effectively from all of them, as opposed to cherry-picking maneuvers the way a Warblade might have to. Still, itís always best to pick a specialty.

    Devoted Spirit: This is a fantastic discipline. It is Crusader-only, barring prestige classes, but thatís obviously not a problem for you. The maneuvers center around tanking, from increasing your survivability to (wait for it) actually giving the enemy a reason to attack you! This is the holy grail of tanking, since it makes sure that the enemies actually have some incentive to not ignore you in favor of your less resilient allies. Always worth taking something from.

    Stone Dragon: The general consensus is that this is the worst discipline in the Tome of Battle. That does not, however, mean it is bad. Itís merely overshadowed by other, better choices. It does have gems, including the always great Mountain Hammer line. Except for a few good options, though, this is mostly subpar.

    White Raven: Another great discipline, White Raven focuses on working as part of a collective. As such, a good number of maneuvers depend on your allies for effectiveness. If you have a few beatsticks in the party, this is extremely powerful, but otherwise it loses its edge.

    First Level

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    First level has the typical first level options. Some of them are worth keeping around, but a good number can be traded away later. My personal favorites are Charging Minotaur, Leading the Attack, and Douse the Flames.

    Devoted Spirit:

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    Crusaderís Strike: At low levels, this maneuver can really boost your survivability, but a max of 1d6+5 ages fairly quickly. An awesome pick at low levels, but youíll want to trade up to the newer models eventually.
    Note: The opponentís alignment canít be a match to yours, or it wonít work. This doesnít really come up very often.

    Vanguard Strike: You hit an enemy, and your allies get a +4 on attacks against that enemy. This is really good. On something like attack rolls, a flat bonus never outlives its usefulness. Definitely worth picking up.

    Stone Dragon:

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    Charging Minotaur: I donít think I know of anything more fun than forcibly moving your opponents. Negating attacks of opportunity and the need to follow just make this maneuver sweeter. It ages eventually, but itís hilarious until then.

    Stone Bones: This is a great maneuver at level 1, but it becomes worse very quickly, and it interferes with Steely Resolve. You'll want to take it, but if you do, youíll want to trade it away at level 4.

    White Raven:

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    Douse the Flames: This strike never stops being useful. It can stop a lockdown build for a turn, help you bail out an ally, or just buy you some time to drink a potion or something. Always a nice choice.

    Leading the Attack: This maneuver is good for all of the same reasons that Vanguard Strike is good, with the same bonus for the same effect. This also has the added bonus of helping you fill White Raven prerequisites, so Vanguard Strike should slide by unnoticed unless you need both of them for some reason.

    Second Level:

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    There really arenít many bad choices for this level, except maybe Foehammer, which is never worth taking over Mountain Hammer unless youíre going to be flying. You get your first counter this level, which can help the squishier people you hang around with. My favorites are Mountain Hammer,

    Devoted Spirit:

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    Foehammer: While this is not a bad maneuver, it is made redundant by Mountain Hammer. Unless your campaign takes place underwater or in the air, you can give this one a miss.

    Shield Block: Ahh, the first counter available to a Crusader. Itís worth taking at this level simply because itís the only maneuver you can initiate as an immediate action. You wonít be getting swift action goodness for a couple of levels, so the action economy can be played efficiently. For dedicated shield bashers, shield-related techniques are even better, but if you donít have a shield, obviously itís completely useless.

    Stone Dragon:

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    Mountain Hammer: This is the good one. Overcomes DR, but the important one is Hardness. Ever wonder how martial artists break cinderblocks with their bare hands? This is how. Great out of combat utility, and the in combat usefulness sticks around for a while.

    Stone Vise: The save is easy to overcome eventually, but natural 1s exist, and any way to immobilize an enemy is worth adding to your repertoire. Lockdown is essential, and the more saves you force an enemy to make, the better.

    White Raven:

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    Battle Leaderís Charge: Not provoking attacks of opportunity while getting an enemy into your threat range is a good thing. If you somehow get Pounce (Barbarian dip, e.g.), then itís even better.

    Tactical Strike: If your ally needs a 5-ft. step to get into a flanking position, fine, but the usefulness is limited.

    Third Level:

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    Revitalizing Strike helps your tanking, and Defensive Rebuke makes enemies focus on you, but the real winner is White Raven Tactics. Take White Raven Tactics. Take it now.

    Devoted Spirit:

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    Defensive Rebuke: Enemies that you attack canít attack anyone else or they suffer an attack of opportunity. This gives them incentive to focus on you. This is especially nice if youíre using either Iron Guardís Glare or Thicket of Blades.

    Revitalizing Strike: Crusaderís Strikeís older brother, and it heals more. Iíd take this, since you want a way to heal yourself, but trade Crusaderís Strike in for it.

    Stone Dragon:

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    Bonecrusher: The extra damage is nice, but not fantastic, and the extra effect doesnít come into play without a wide crit range, and they get a save to resist it.

    Stone Dragonís Fury: Ironically, Mountain Hammerís Hardness bypass makes it better for busting objects apart. Combine that with lessened in-combat utility, and you have a strictly inferior, higher level maneuver.

    White Raven:

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    Lionís Roar: You have to be the one to strike the last blow against the first enemy, and your allies need to take advantage of the damage boost immediately. Itís not terrible by any means, but you need teamwork and a bunch of attacks to get this one to work.

    White Raven Tactics: This is a serious contender for the best maneuver in the Tome of Battle, and itís easy to see why. You change the initiative order, deciding who gets the next turn. In a rather shady CustServ ruling, you can use this on yourself. Take it as soon as you possibly can.

    Fourth Level:

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    Every discipline gets a winner this level. Pick and choose from anything you can take. My favorites are Covering Strike and Bonesplitting Strike.

    Devoted Spirit:

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    Divine Surge: Extra damage is never a bad thing, but extra effects are usually better.

    Entangling Blade: You make it much harder for enemies to get away, and can stop slower enemies in their tracks. Moreover, there is no save against this speed reduction. This becomes more unimpressive as you level up, so you may want to trade this away later unless you see a lot of slow flyers.

    Stone Dragon:

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    Bonesplitting Strike: 2 Constitution damage may not seem like much, but in reality, it counts for a lot. They lose (# of HD) HP, take a -1 on their Fortitude save, it reduces the save DCs of many monster attacks, and if you repeat it enough, they instantly die. Constitution damage is nice.

    Boulder Roll: Whenís the last time you saw someone use an overrun attack? Moreover, you need the Improved Overrun feat first, or they can simply move out of your way.

    Overwhelming Mountain Strike: The allowed Fortitude save makes this, in my opinion, slightly worse than Entangling Blade, but the complete removal of a move action still makes this a good choice.

    White Raven:

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    Covering Strike: Douse the Flames was good, and this is even better. It lasts 3 times as long (which equates to most of the combat), and itís a boost, not a strike. With a full attack and attacks of opportunity, you can hit 3-4 enemies with this at the first level you get it. And thereís no save against this. Awesome.

    White Raven Strike: Good for setting up Sneak Attack/Sudden Strike, but not much else.

    Fifth Level:

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    For a Crusader, nothing really stands out, so you can take pretty much anything that appeals to you. As a side note, the Crusader gets some alignment-specific maneuvers this level, meaning some are mutually exclusive.

    Devoted Spirit:

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    Daunting Strike: Shaken might not be that debilitating by itself, but every small penalty adds up. The fact that damage scales much faster than saves means that the save DC is hard to pass, but many enemies start being immune to fear at mid levels.

    Doom Charge: DR 10/-, even if only for a round, can actually be quite good at this level. As a Crusader, your DM will probably give you opponents whose alignment is opposite yours, so the +6d6 to Good should come up more often than not. Works wonders with Stone Power.
    Note: You must be Evil.

    Law Bearer: Against Chaotic opponents, this is great. Everywhere else, not so much. Interestingly, if you take a -8 to-hit from Power Attack, this ends up being better for damage than Doom/Radiant Charge. And of course, +5 to saves is awesome, but the usefulness is limited by the 1 round time limit.
    Note: You must be Lawful.

    Radiant Charge: This is functionally identical to Doom Charge, but for the opposite alignment.
    Note: You must be Good.

    Tide of Chaos: This is, in my opinion, the best of the charging maneuvers this level. It has the same to-hit and damage bonus as Law Bearer, but you get total concealment instead. And as we all know, miss chance is much more powerful than armor class.
    Note: You must be Chaotic.

    Stone Dragon:

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    Elder Mountain Hammer: This has the same utility as Mountain Hammer, but carries more bonus damage. If you qualify, trade up for it in an instant.

    Mountain Avalanche: Trampling can actually be not terrible for you, especially if you pump your Strength. The only issue is the size category restriction. If you have a reliable way to boost your size, then this becomes very good.

    White Raven:

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    Flanking Maneuver: Extra attacks are always nice. If you have a sneak attacker, this is even better.

    Sixth Level:

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    This level, if it werenít for Iron Bones, there would be literally no bad choices. As long as you stay away from that one, all of your options are nice. My favorites are Rallying Strike and Order Forged from Chaos.

    Devoted Spirit:

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    Rallying Strike: Itís the same as Revitalizing Strike, but with a higher gap and works in a 30 ft. burst. This is a no-brainer for a trade in.

    Stone Dragon:

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    Crushing Vise: Unfortunately, compared to all of the other tanking measures you have, this just doesnít measure up. It only works against ground-bound enemies, who are often the ones who want to be in melee with you. In addition, your allies arenít made any safer by the enemy not moving if they are fighting him with you.

    Iron Bones: This maneuver is slightly better than Stone Bones. Five maneuver levels later we need better than slightly.

    Irresistible Mountain Strike: The effect is actually good enough to warrant the chance of them passing the save. Action economy is king, whether itís boosting yours or damaging the enemies. One thing to watch out for is the fact that the enemy can still take a full-round action, so a melee brute will still get to full attack you.

    White Raven:

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    Order Forged From Chaos: If there is one thing thatís been drilled in by my comments, itís that Action Economy wins D&D. This multiplies your move action among your allies. A marvelous choice.

    War Leaderís Charge: Similar to the Battle Leaderís Charge, but better. The damage output is, on average, strictly better than the alignment-based Devoted Spirit charges, and any Crusader can use this against an opponent of any alignment. Iíd suggest keeping, at most, this and one alignment-based charge.

    Seventh Level:

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    White Raven is the real winner this level, but the other two disciplines have something nice as well. There are some things better left untaken, but the options are still solid for this level. My favorites are Swarming Assault, Clarion Call, and Shield Counter.

    Devoted Spirit:

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    Castigating Strike: Maneuvers with Fortitude saves are generally easy to pass. Since this is Charisma-based, a secondary stat, this is even worse about it. You can expect most enemies to make this save pretty reliably. The only saving grace is that this is one of the only Area of Effect maneuvers that Crusaders get.

    Shield Counter: If you hit with a shield bash, your enemy misses. Do not pass Go, do not collect 200 gp. For once, attack rolls scaling faster than AC works in your favor. If you are a shield basher by nature, this is an obvious pick.

    Stone Dragon:

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    Ancient Mountain Hammer: It carries twice as much bonus damage as its younger brother, Elder Mountain Hammer, but to take this you need a much more significant investment in Stone Dragon. If you have the prerequisites, snag it without a thought, and if you donít, you canít take it anyway.

    Colossus Strike: This one is pretty mediocre, especially since the effect is against a save that will probably be made often. Also, am I the only one who finds it funny that if your Crusader is Small sized, a Medium creature gets the same save bonus as a Colossal creature? Now I have this mental image of a Gnome sending a Great Wyrm flying by punching it.

    White Raven:

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    Clarion Call: As usual, high level White Raven maneuvers are making action economy dance a nice jig for you. Just to humor me, count 12 squares away from you. Thatís the radius. All of your allies will probably get this, which just makes it even more potent.

    Swarming Assault: More action multiplication, and it is still oh so much fun. With one or two melee allies, this is good. With three or four, this is fantastic. Extra fun if you combine this with Defensive Rebuke, and maybe Thicket of Blades for good measure.

    Eighth Level:

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    White Raven and Devoted Spirit only get one maneuver each this level, but they are both lovely. Stone Dragon gets two, but they arenít quite up to par. So basically, itís business as usual here. White Raven Hammer is my personal favorite, and deserves special mention.

    Devoted Spirit:

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    Greater Divine Surge: Extra damage is nice. Taking Constitution damage is not so nice. Two levels later, when you have access to Strike of Righteous Vitality, this becomes a much better choice, since you can heal the ability damage the next turn.

    Stone Dragon:

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    Adamantine Bones: DR 20/Adamantine is great. Or, rather, it would have been a few levels ago. Combined with Steely Resolve and Stone Power, this still deserves mention. Thatís really the only problem with this line, is that the levels are too high. Maybe WotC had a typo.

    Earthstrike Quake: I have to pause every time I say the same of this one, since every part of me wants to say ďEarthquake Strike.Ē This is pretty bad for you, since your enemies will probably make the save, and it can hinder any nearby allies.

    White Raven:

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    White Raven Hammer: Holy no-save stunning, Batman! This maneuver is simply amazing, and is probably the best one this level.

    Ninth Level:

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    Letís face it, at this level, all of the maneuvers have to be pretty damn good. Fortunately, they are. You can take anything you qualify for and be set.
    Fun Fact: A single-classed Crusader can get all three of these.

    Devoted Spirit:

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    Strike of Righteous Vitality: Itís said that in-combat healing is subpar unless it is the Heal spell, and even then you would be better off dealing damage. This does all of the above. It refreshes you completely, making you ready for more punishment. Even more nice when you use it to help you nova with Greater Divine Surge.

    Stone Dragon:

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    Mountain Tombstone Strike: Remember how Bonesplitting Strike was great for 2 Constitution damage? This does 2d6. Now look at the prerequisites. There are none. You can take this even if you have never taken a single Stone Dragon maneuver before. Itís fantastic.

    White Raven:

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    War Masterís Charge: This one is nice if you are a charger. However, unlike its predecessors, this one lets your allies join in on the fun. If youíre in a melee-heavy party, this is the best thing since sliced bread.
    Last edited by Private-Prinny; 2011-04-05 at 09:48 PM.

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    Default Re: Spirit of Steel: The Crusader's Handbook

    Stances: Holding Your Position

    First Level

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    Crusaders donít have much to pick from this level, unfortunately. Since a single classed Crusader needs two of these, the gold medalists are Iron Guardís Glare and Leading the Charge. Both age very well, a useful quality for stances to have.

    Devoted Spirit:

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    Iron Guardís Glare: Most tanks wish they could do something like this. This gives an opponent no good options. They can attack you and do exactly what you want, attack a different threatened ally and take an attack penalty, or they can move to attack someone else and eat an attack of opportunity. This stance is pure gold. Take it and never look back.

    Martial Spirit: Only good if you can launch several attacks every round, and overshadowed by Aura of Triumph eventually. For a support Crusader, or in a low level game, this is much stronger, but if you aren't the type who needs the extra healing, you could do better.

    Stone Dragon:

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    Stonefoot Stance: The Stone Dragon stances are infamous for being horrible. Strength checks almost never show up in battle, except for bull rushes. Unfortunately, trying to bull rush someone ends the stance. Donít waste your time, effort, stance slots, or pencil lead.

    White Raven:

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    Bolstering Voice: The +4 against fear shouldnít come up too often, but a +2 to Will saves never hurt. You do, however, have better things to do with your time.

    Leading the Charge: Like a good chunk of the White Raven discipline, this is better with melee allies. However, a scaling flat bonus to charges is always nice. This stance really shines if you have a dedicated charger in the party, and Pelor help you if they have Pounce.

    Third Level:

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    The stances are actually pretty good at this level, but everything else suffers from being overshadowed by Thicket of Blades.

    Devoted Spirit:

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    Thicket of Blades: This is practically the Crusaderís trademark technique. Enemies canít get away without eating an attack of opportunity. Toss in Combat Reflexes, Stand Still, some reachÖ you can make entire builds surrounding this one stance.

    Stone Dragon:

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    Crushing Weight of the Mountain: I wonít be so quick to dismiss the possibility of a grappling Crusader, but I have never seen such a thing. If you are grappling, this is a prime pick, but otherwise itís completely worthless.
    Fun Fact: This is the only Stone Dragon stance that lets you move.

    Roots of the Mountain: This is slightly better for Crusaders than anyone else, since moving is not as huge a priority as making sure your opponent canít. This stance would be great if you could move while maintaining it, but we canít have everything.

    White Raven:

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    Wolf Pack Tactics: Flankers deal half your Initiator Level in extra damage. It happens more often than you might think, especially with the maneuvers that White Raven gives you to work with. Even nicer if you have a buddy with the Island of Blades stance.

    Fifth Level:

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    At the level that a single-classed Crusader would be able to take one of these stances, they have the 6th-level Devoted Spirit stances to compete with. Keep that in mind.

    Stone Dragon:

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    Giantís Stance: Like most other Stone Dragon stances, you canít move more than 5 feet with this on. Other flaws include capping at Large size, and the existence of (Greater) Mighty Wallop, Strongarm Bracers, and actual size increases. This is a terrible pick.

    White Raven:

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    Press the Advantage: You get a second 5-foot step. It may not sound like much, but it drastically increases your maneuverability, especially when wielding something with a large threat range. Competes well with the alignment stances.

    Sixth Level:

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    Only Devoted Spirit this level, but you get access to these at the same time as the 5th level stances if youíre single classed. The Crusaderís alignment restriction means you always have access to at least one of these.

    Note: Please argue these at the slightest inclination if you feel Iíve overlooked something. I admittedly donít have much experience with these particular stances.

    Devoted Spirit:

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    Aura of Chaos: Obviously, Iím discounting cheese like the 1d2 Crusader here. This stance can have quite a kick to it if used with a larger number of smaller dice (3d4 v. 1d12, e.g.), and can vary based on how blessed you are by the dice gods.
    Note: You must be Chaotic.

    Aura of Perfect Order: This is, in my opinion, the most useful of the alignment stances. The ability to ďTake 11Ē on one roll/round is more powerful than it sounds. You can make skill checks while under stress without worrying, stop worrying about failed saves, and basically reduce random chance as applied to anything.
    Note: You must be Lawful.

    Aura of Triumph: This stance can be good or bad depending on what enemies your DM is throwing at you. It basically quadruples the return of Martial Spirit, and lets your ally trigger the healing as well, but it only functions when you hurt someone Evil. Funnily enough, it doesnít carry the ďimmediate and credible threatĒ clause of the Crusaderís Strike line, meaning you could beat up on the token Evil teammate for fun and profit. Like I said, though, this comes down to the campaign type. If youíre up against evil outsiders, this is awesome, but against neutral enemies you will never use it.
    Note: You must be Good.

    Aura of Tyranny: This is the worst of the alignment stances, by far. You always have to drain 2 health per ally, making this a slow drip at best, the allies have to be within 10 feet of you (one ally within 10 feet is nice, all of them is terrible), and they donít even have the courtesy to make the HP transfer a zero-sum. Someone please tell me Iím overlooking an awesome combo with this.
    Note: You must be Evil.

    Eighth Level:

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    Unfortunately, a Crusader wonít be able to get either of these without multiclassing or taking the Martial Stance feat. Since both of these are obviously possible, Iíll just put these here for completenessís sake.

    Devoted Spirit:

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    Immortal Fortitude: You get 3 chances to stay alive before you need to reactivate this stance. With a high Con and good Fortitude save progression, you should be able to make relatively high DCs without too much trouble. The only reason this is Blue and not Gold is how common death effects and massive damage are in the upper levels.

    Stone Dragon:

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    Strength of Stone: In case you couldnít tell by now, I really hate Stone Dragon stances. You still canít move, and the real kicker is that you can buy Heavy Fortification (granted, itís a tad expensive). Pass.

    White Raven:

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    Swarm Tactics: This is nice to have, and is fantastic when youíre about to use War Masterís Charge, but this has Immortal Fortitude to compete with, and reach weapons, those things that are fantastic for lockdown builds, donít trigger this.
    Last edited by Private-Prinny; 2011-04-05 at 09:52 PM.

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    Default Re: Spirit of Steel: The Crusader's Handbook

    Feats: Devotionís Techniques

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    Only feats relevant to the Crusader will be listed.

    Playerís Handbook

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    Skill Feats (Negotiator, Alertness, etc.): Never, ever, ever, ever, ever take one of these. Ever.

    Archery Feats (Point Blank Shot, etc.): You donít do archery. Stay away.

    Blind-Fight: Re-rolling miss chance is good, but a Crusader is generally feat-starved as it is.

    Combat Expertise: Not really that great, especially since you need to get your Intelligence up in order to take it. If you want to be a tripper, though, itís required.

    Improved Disarm and Improved Feint are not worth it, especially since no one really uses those techniques anyway.

    Whirlwind Attack: Waaaaaay too feat intensive. And theyíre all bad, too.

    Combat Reflexes: A good option, especially if youíre using a lockdown build, where it is a must have.

    Dodge: ITíS A TRAP! This is one of the worst feats in 3.5, and even worse in the hands of a Crusader.

    Mobility: This is already bad, and you need Dodge to take it. Avoid.

    Spring Attack: Even if you didnít need those prerequisites, this would still be a bad choice. As it is, itís terrible for you.

    Endurance: The only use for Endurance is as a gateway to Diehard and Steadfast Determination. The former is a bonus feat, and the latter should be taken as soon as possible if you have the room for the feats.

    Exotic Weapon Proficiency: Unlike a Warblade, this feat locks you into a single weapon. The only one thatís typically worth taking is a Spiked Chain, and you can just use a Guisarme for all your tripping needs.

    Improved Critical: Just get a keen weapon instead.

    Improved Initiative: This is one of those feats thatís always good. Take it if you have room.

    Improved Unarmed Strike: You are not an Unarmed Swordsage, and you probably wonít qualify for Master of Nine anyway. Skip this and all of its offshoots.

    Mounted Combat: With White Raven maneuvers, your mounted combat can actually be pretty effective. If you get this, snag Ride-By Attack and Spirited Charge, but avoid Mounted Archery and Trample

    Power Attack: Take it. It scales, it gives bonus damage, and it is fantabulous. Take it now.

    Cleave: Actually pretty good, since the extra attack means an extra hit. Hereís a hint: It still counts even if you use a strike.

    Great Cleave: Unless you have to kill low CR mobs, this is less useful.

    Improved Bull Rush and Improved Sunder: Only really useful as prerequisites for Shock Trooper and Combat Brute respectively.

    Improved Overrun: YeahÖ noÖ

    Improved Shield Bash: If you want to shield bash, then pick this up. Nothingís stopping you if you have the space.

    Toughness: ÖÖ I donít have words for how bad this isÖ

    Two-Weapon Fighting: You donít have Tiger Claw. Avoid this entire line.

    Weapon Focus: This locks you into a single weapon, but most people wouldnít mind that anyway. On another note, a small boost to your attack roll counts for more when all you have to depend on is one large strike. Not the greatest option, but not terrible.

    Tome of Battle:

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    Adaptive Style: For those times that you really need an unreadied maneuver, this is great. However, you can ready half of the maneuvers you know at any given time, so you're rarely starved for options.

    Avenging Strike: Oh boy! A few times a day, you can do slightly more damage to an extremely restricted subset of enemies! Awesome!

    Blade Meditation: It's a worse version of Weapon Specialization. And Weapon Specialization is bad enough already.

    Devoted Bulwark: +1 AC for a feat, that only activates after someone has already hit you. Pass.

    Evasive Reflexes: Most Crusaders with Dex high enough to take this will be lockdown builds. Those builds rely on actually attacking your opponent.

    Extra Granted Maneuver: This feat is unspeakably amazing. You start with more moves, keep more moves open, and get your moves back faster. This is practically mandatory.

    Martial Stance: Crusader stances as a whole are rather good, and another one to have access to never hurt. This is also the only way to get Immortal Fortitude on a single-classed Crusader.

    Martial Study: You can't trade away whatever maneuver you happen to get from this, and you get enough maneuvers to be worth your time anyway. This is really only good for picking up disciplines that you normally lack access to.

    Rapid Assault: +1d6 generally isn't that impressive, and it only works for one round.

    Song of the White Raven: Obviously, only Bard/Crusaders will be taking this. It's very good for what it does, with the only issue being that it can't be used in the same round as Inspirational Boost.

    Snap Kick: This is really for Unarmed Swordsages only. Your Unarmed damage just isn't up to snuff unless you take Superior Unarmed Strike, and sinking 3 feats into this isn't worth it compared to other options.

    Stone Power: Combined with your delayed damage pool, you can effectively negate up to 10 damage per round. As an added bonus, if you go the Two-Handed Fighting route, you can use the very nice Shards of Granite feat.

    Sudden Recovery: It only works once per day, uses your swift action for the round, and you might not even have to wait that long anyway.

    Superior Unarmed Strike: Upping your unarmed damage isn't worth it compared to weapon enhancements.

    Vital Recovery: Your maneuvers refresh automatically, so this activates right before your fourth turn. This would be great if it worked every time maneuvers were refreshed, but as it stands, it's mediocre.

    White Raven Defense: Spending a feat for a small bonus to AC is not a good idea.

    Divine Spirit: If you have Turn Undead as a Crusader, you're probably going for Ruby Knight Vindicator, in which case you have better things to spend it on than piddling amounts of HP.

    Scribe Martial Script: I've always found Martial Scripts to be rather underwhelming, and if you need one that badly you can just buy it.

    Clarion Commander: Perpetual Flank is the best ability here, but the draw is counteracted by having to take White Raven Defense first.

    Faith Unswerving: Keep Up the Pressure is OK, but not enough to justify Devoted Bulwark.

    Shards of Granite: The prerequisite feat is a good one, and all three tactical options are viable. This is nice if you have the room.
    Last edited by Private-Prinny; 2011-04-18 at 09:04 PM.

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    Default Re: Spirit of Steel: The Crusader's Handbook

    Multiclassing: Avoiding Complete Devotion

    Courtesy of Essence_of_War

    I'll organize the sections below into what neat stuff you can get from a dip, some useful dip sizes, and then thoughts on the usefulness/efficiency of said dip. It won't be exhaustive, but it will be ones that I think are useful to note. I'll organize the classes into Base Class Core, Base Non-Core, and Prestige. I'll probably only mention good/useful saves when they're in areas the Crusader is weak or could use improvements in.

    A few general thoughts first, keep in mind the magic number "6". If you take more than 6 levels outside of Crusader that don't directly boost your Crusader IL, you won't be able to get 9th level maneuvers. Also keep in mind the magic ratio "1/2", you get 1 point boost to your IL for MOST non-crusader classes. As a result, even numbererd dips are often preferable to odd numbered. Finally, because of the funkiness of the Crusader's stances known, it is a really good idea to take a sufficient dip that IL=5 lines up with a stance known. Even straight crusaders don't get Thicket of Blades until level 8, a good way to do this is to extract maximum value from a 6 level dip (IL=3) then take 2 Crusader levels (IL=5) so that the 2nd stance known at Crusader 2 can be used for Thicket of Blades. Alternatively, RKV gets a stance known at first level and Cleric2/Crusader3/RKV1 is IL 5

    Base Classes, Core:
    • Barbarian
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      You're here either for pounce, Rage, or for ACFs with full BAB layered on top.

      1 - Gets you Rage and Fast Movement OR Pounce with CChampion ACF OR Blind-Fight w/ SRD Dragon Totem.

      2 - Gets you Uncanny Dodge OR Improved Trip w/ SRD Wolf Totem

      The 1-level CChampion is good if you need pounce, but the Crusader usually isn't built as a charger. The dragon totem ACF is fine if you're planning on taking Pierce Magical Concealment and you need help getting the pre-reqs.

      The 2-level dip is EXCELLENT if you're planning on building a tripper. Normally, the trip line is Combat Expertise->Imp Trip->Knockdown, but the wolf totem gets you Imp Trip as a bonus feat, Knockdown only requires Imp. Trip, so the two level dip is effectively 2 bonus feats that allow you to trip without the requisite int13+ for Combat Expertise!

    • Cleric
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      You're here for turn attempts, casting, and good saves.

      1 - Cleric is front loaded, this gets you all of the above. If you don't like the domain spells, you have the option for taking devotion feats instead. This can be extremely useful.

      2 - Low marginal value, does get you an extra point of BAB and saves.

      Cleric is an excellent choice even if you don't plan on going into the RKV (dicussed below). If you aren't going that route, sell your domain casting for devotion feats.

    • Fighter
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      You're here for bonus feats or Dungeon Crasher ACF w/ full BAB.

      1 - Gets you a bonus feat.

      2 - Bonus feat OR DungeonCrasher 1

      6 - Bonus feat OR DungeonCrasher 2

      A large or powerful build Crusader can take the Knockback feat to make bullrushes very effective. If you're going this route, staying for all 6 levels might be a good choice. If not, 1 or 2 levels gets you exactly what you need, and marginal benefit from higher level dips is very low.

    • Monk
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      You're here for bonus feats, excellent saves, and access to evasion.

      1 - 2 bonus feats (imp Unarmed and either Imp. Grapple or Stunning Fist) + save boost!

      2 - Combat Reflex OR Deflect Arrows, Evasion, better saves!

      Monk can be good if you need evasion quickly for some reason, or if you really want to be an unarmed/grappling crusader. Fighter or Wolf-totem barbarian is much better if you're not already committed to being unarmed. There is one other corner case, a Crusader (Dragonborn, Goliath or Half-Giant perhaps?) with a low dex can get combat reflexes without having to meet the pre-reqs and then boost their dex with spells/magic items later to extract benefit from the feat. It's good to know about.

    • Paladin
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      You're here for Divine Grace, turning and partial casting wrapped up with full BAB.

      2 - gets you divine grace as well as a handful of other potentially useful abilities

      4 - gets you turning, casting, as well as Aura of Courage and Divine Health

      I'd only go for 4 if you're using this as an entry for RKV, the 2-level dip is fine if you have a high cha, but be aware that it doesn't stack with your Crusader class feature. Good to know about, not always an ideal choice, but alignment options in SRD at least make it somewhat flexible.

    • Ranger
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      You're here for combat style, and favored enemy along with good F/R saves, full BAB, and a boatload of skill points.

      1 - gets you favored enemy which can turn into arcanists from CMage, and the save boost.

      2 - gets you combat style and another save boost.

      If you want to be a TWF crusader, this is a dip. Even non-TWF can benefit from the CMage ACF and the skill point boost!

    • Sorcerer
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      You're here for casting to get into JPM. Since Crusader extracts some benefit from Cha, this is often a stronger choice than Wizard.

      1 - Spellcasting + will save boost

      4 - 2nd level spells necessary for JPM

      If your DM allows precocious apprentice, you only need 1-level here to get into JPM, if not, you'll be here for 4 long levels early on. If you're not going into JPM or Abjurant Champion, this really isn't an optimal place for you.


    Base Non-Core:
    • Favored Soul
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      You're here for Cha based casting and saves.

      1 - Casting + nice save boost

      2 - marginal benefit is small, but you get the BAB + save boost here.

      The FS is another potential entry point into RKV. Unfortunately, you need some way to get Turn Undead before you can get into RKV and the Sacred Exorcist route is not an option until 8th level! As a result, Paladin 4 is usually a more efficient RKV entry for Cha based casting, but if you're willing to burn a cleric 1 dip also, this could work out well.

    • OA/Rokugani Samurai
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      You're here for Ancestral Daisho, bonus feat and saves w/ full BAB

      1 - Ancestral Daisho + save boost.

      2 - bonus feat + marginal save boost.

      Ancestral Daisho, if you can convince your DM to giving it to you with a weapon of your choice is easily worth a feat (see Ancestral Relic, BoED). The bonus feat and the improved saves are fine as well for the two level dip.

    • Hexblade
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      You're here for Mettle, Arcane Resistance, possibly casting as well w/ good will saves and full BAB.

      2 - gets you arcane resistance, a will save boost and Hexblade's Curse

      3 - nets you Mettle, (I think this is the fastest way to do so)

      4 - you gain a familiar and cha based arcane casting.

      All of these dips are plausible. 2/3 make for an excellent double dip with something like a paladin as Divine Grace/Arcane Resistance stack and Mettle is excellent. If you stay to 4, you get the casting which can make a viable entrance into JPM.

    • Knight
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      You're here for test of mettle, and Bulwark of Defense combined with will saves in a full BAB package.

      3 - You pick up Bulwark of Defense, some improved Will saves and a number of potentially useful class features.

      4 - Test of Mettle.

      Bulwark of Defense is great for helping to control the battlefield if you don't already have something like Earth Devotion. Test of Mettle doesn't scale very well unless you're taking knight levels, but is excellent early on. This is a fine dip for either 3 or 4 levels.

    • Marshal
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      You're here for the auras, and save boost.

      1 - gets you the minor aura, skill focus, and save boost

      2 - nets you a small save bonus as well as a major aura.

      If you're a tripper, getting Cha to Str checks from the minor aura is a great deal! There are reasons why you might want a major aura, but I don't find them very compelling.

    • Warblade
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      You're here for maneuvers and potentially the uncanny dodge lines w/ full BAB.

      Since your Crusader IL feeds your Warblade IL and vice-versa, it is a little harder to point out strict level limits. The Warblade has access to some of the best counters and strikes in the game. The save counters are from Diamond Mind, and allow you to replace a save with a concentration check, the Crusader has Concentration on his class list so even if you only take a level or 2 of Warblade to get the Will/Reflex save counter and maybe Sudden Leap, you're looking at a significant improvement! Also, since between the Warblade and Crusader they know 6 distincy disciplines, this is a viable Master of 9 entry!

    • Swordsage
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      You're here for maneuvers, skill points, and saves.

      Much of the same advice as the Warblade applies here. The save-replacment counters are still great. This is also a potential Master of 9 entry. Note that you won't get any benefit from the Swordsage's AC bonus at 2nd level unless you're wearing light armor.


    Prestige:

    • Ruby Knight V(W)indicator
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      Fantastic prestige class that advances casting and maneuvers with the hotly debated Divine Impetus class feature. The class would be solid even if Divine Impetus didn't exist, but much stronger with that as an option. Depending on your entry point, you have several options with your last 5 levels. If came in via Paladin, you'll likely want to end with more Crusader levels to get 9th level maneuvers, if you entered via Cleric, it is possible to get to either 9th level spells or 9th level maneuvers but not both. You'll want to choose wisely depending on your game/party comp/optimization level.

      There are at least 3 obvious methods of entry here. There is the paladin access, the maneuver focused, or the spell focused route. In that order:
      • 1) Paladin 4/Crusader 1
      • 2) Cleric 2/Crusader 3
      • 3) Cleric 4/Crusader 1

      Paladin access has the advantage of cha synergy with Divine Grace, while Cleric has the advantage of accessing higher level spells. Since the RKV gets a stance at it's first level, the Cleric2/Crusader3 entry gets Thicket of Blades at 6th level, which is the fastest possible path to Thicket of Blades. Paladin entry has the tempting option of Battle Blessing which allows you to quicken all of your std action paladin spells for free! This has fantastic syngergy with the RKV's Divine Impetus class feature. The Cleric entry has, of course, all of the usual DMM and full caster options.

    • Jade Phoenix Mage
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      This is an excellent Gish class, and the Crusader is probably the best martial adept entry point because of its access to Devoted Spirit maneuvers. There are a number of different entry options, sorcerer access cannot get 9th level spells, Wizard access will barely net 9th level spells at 20th ECL. It's 1st level class features are great primarily because you get an Arcane Strike equivalent
      • 1) Crusader1/Wizard5
      • 2) Crusader2/Sorcerer4
      • 3) Crusader4/Sorcerer2
      • 4) Hexblade4/Crusader1/AbjurantChampion5

      The first two entry methods are obviously best for those trying to get the highest level spells, the 2nd and 3rd are potential sorcerer entry without/with access to Precocious Apprentice. I include it as an option because option 3 is probably the "worst" in terms of sorcerer/wizard spell progression and is actually a less "powerful" entry method.

      More interesting is option 4. Hexblade gets arcane casting, allows you to cast in light armor, Arcane Resistance and Mettle! Moreover, because both Crusader and Hexblade have full BAB, you qualify for Abj. Champion at 6, which if you take to 5 gives you CL = HD with the Hexblade, and advances your Hexblade casting sufficiently to qualify for JPM! If you want a fun melee character with a flair of magic that probably won't break your game, this could be a great choice.

    • Master of 9
      To follow shortly.
    • Eternal Blade
      To follow shortly
    • Deepstone Sentinel
      To follow shortly
    Last edited by Private-Prinny; 2011-06-19 at 03:51 PM.

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    Default Re: Spirit of Steel: The Crusader's Handbook

    One last reserve for equipment, neat tricks, useful links and sample builds.

    Now that thatís done, I need feedback. Corrections, suggestions, second opinions, I want it all, as long as itís civil. This is a work in progress, and Iíd like the ďprogressĒ part to go as smoothly as possible.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Moron View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Optimystik View Post
    'Adding up numbers' is completely independent of roleplay. What you're saying makes as much sense as "peeling a banana is not a good way to drive."


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    Default Re: Spirit of Steel: The Crusader's Handbook

    Looking forward to seeing the Swordsage.
    Avatar by Araveugnitsuga

    Fourthland: A Game of Abstraction
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daverin View Post
    Welknair, you are like... some living avatar of win. Who's made of win. And wields win as if it were but a toy. Win.
    Quote Originally Posted by Virdish
    Welknair you are a god among men. Thank you for creating a playground for the completely insane.
    Quote Originally Posted by Morph Bark
    There have also been times where I was jealous of your ingenuity and skills.

    Extended Homebrewer's Signature

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    Default Re: Spirit of Steel: The Crusader's Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Private-Prinny View Post
    Ranged Combat: No. JustÖ no. Your maneuvers donít work at a range, and you canít tank very well from 80 ft. away. Keep a hand crossbow just in case, but donít expect it to be any good.
    Hand crossbow, when you're the only martial adept with proficiencies in ranged martial weapons?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Claudius Maximus View Post
    Also fixed the money issue by sacrificing a goat.
    Quote Originally Posted by subject42 View Post
    This board needs a "you're technically right but I still want to crawl into the fetal position and cry" emoticon.
    Quote Originally Posted by Yukitsu View Post
    I define [optimization] as "the process by which one attains a build meeting all mechanical and characterization goals set out by the creator prior to its creation."
    Praise for avatar may be directed to Derjuin.

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    Default Re: Spirit of Steel: The Crusader's Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Welknair View Post
    Looking forward to seeing the Swordsage.
    You and me both, but I don't think I have the patience to crank that one out.

    The real question is whether or not Armed and Unarmed Swordsages share the same handbook or get different ones...

    Quote Originally Posted by Greenish View Post
    Hand crossbow, when you're the only martial adept with proficiencies in ranged martial weapons?
    Would you believe that completely slipped my mind? I'll go change that now.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Moron View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Optimystik View Post
    'Adding up numbers' is completely independent of roleplay. What you're saying makes as much sense as "peeling a banana is not a good way to drive."


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    Default Re: Spirit of Steel: The Crusader's Handbook

    How about a word or two on mounted combat? Depending on how the DM rules charge-based maneuvers to work on mounted, it can be a strong option for a crusader. With lance, stuff like Leading the Charge and Battle Leader's Charge which add flat bonuses get doubled (tripled if you go for spirited charge).

    Your mount uses it's own actions, so it can move next to an enemy, then you can use a standard action strike (or a full round one, unless it has full attack), then the mount moves away. Wham bam, you do what Spring Attack can only hope for without burning a single feat (or you could burn one for Wild Cohort).

    Being mounted also increases the area you threaten, which is pretty handy.

    After all, crusaders are also the only initiator with Ride as a class skill.
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    Default Re: Spirit of Steel: The Crusader's Handbook

    I plan on adding detailed accounts of mounted combat, lockdown, and THF in post #3. Eventually. Right now, all that was really concerning me was getting a chassis down. But you're right, White Raven boosted mounted combat is amazingly effective.

    Also, just to be pedantic, Swordsages have Ride too.
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    Default Re: Spirit of Steel: The Crusader's Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Private-Prinny View Post
    Also, just to be pedantic, Swordsages have Ride too.
    Blimey, I never noticed. It's only the poor warblades lacking it then.
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    Default Re: Spirit of Steel: The Crusader's Handbook

    Nice to see a Crusader handbook! :)

    In terms of feedback, I'd quibble with the classification of Martial Spirit as completely useless. I would rather describe it as situationally useful for allies depending on your houserules.

    Consider the scenario when the weedy mage goes ahead of you in initiative and gets knocked to 0 or even -1, and the cleric's a distance away down the initiative count and in distance? Martial Spirit gives you a quick shot of ranged healing to apply to him which at least keeps the mage on his feet long enough to cast or do something to help himself.

    The particular houserule where this stance remains useful is if you've got a DM that rules you don't have to work your way back from negative numbers if healing is applied to you after you're below 0 hp - in my campaigns we ruled that healing applied to you pumps you out of the negatives before the actual healing occurs. I can honestly say in my PbP campaign this prevented two arcane casters' deaths in separate encounters.

    EDIT: Also, consider RAW abuse potential for out-of-combat situations: if Martial Spirit triggers on sucessful attacks, all the crusader has to do to fully heal up the party is stand next to a tree for (lost hitpoints/2) rounds and keep attacking it. Remember, it's successful attacks, not successful attacks on enemies. Saves your cleric for more important stuff like buffing everyone else. Infinite healing is now at your command. (Perhaps this explains why dwarves actually carry axes around with them?)

    But even if you don't go with RAW abuse, it's still a very handy feat for a cleric focused on healing to take via Martial Study. It might be worth it just for that alone.

    EDIT THE SECOND: ...aaaand I just realised this should've gone by PM, not by general broadcast. Apologies for that.

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    Default Re: Spirit of Steel: The Crusader's Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Saintheart View Post
    Nice to see a Crusader handbook! :)

    In terms of feedback, I'd quibble with the classification of Martial Spirit as completely useless. I would rather describe it as situationally useful for allies depending on your houserules.

    Consider the scenario when the weedy mage goes ahead of you in initiative and gets knocked to 0 or even -1, and the cleric's a distance away down the initiative count and in distance? Martial Spirit gives you a quick shot of ranged healing to apply to him which at least keeps the mage on his feet long enough to cast or do something to help himself.

    The particular houserule where this stance remains useful is if you've got a DM that rules you don't have to work your way back from negative numbers if healing is applied to you after you're below 0 hp - in my campaigns we ruled that healing applied to you pumps you out of the negatives before the actual healing occurs. I can honestly say in my PbP campaign this prevented two arcane casters' deaths in separate encounters.

    EDIT: Also, consider RAW abuse potential for out-of-combat situations: if Martial Spirit triggers on sucessful attacks, all the crusader has to do to fully heal up the party is stand next to a tree for (lost hitpoints/2) rounds and keep attacking it. Remember, it's successful attacks, not successful attacks on enemies. Saves your cleric for more important stuff like buffing everyone else. Infinite healing is now at your command. (Perhaps this explains why dwarves actually carry axes around with them?)

    But even if you don't go with RAW abuse, it's still a very handy feat for a cleric focused on healing to take via Martial Study. It might be worth it just for that alone.
    Actually, Martial Spirit works for a lot of things. It's just that Crusaders have a HUGE competition when dealing with stances. I mean, have you seen ALL of Devoted Spirit's Stances? I could claim none of the stances of Devoted Spirit are bad at all.

    Martial Spirit works, however, if you have a lot of attacks at your disposal. Having full BAB helps: that'd be about 8 points if you succeed at all attacks, and that's a bit meh. However, add Combat Reflexes to that: all of a sudden, you have one or two more attacks you can add to the repertoire, making it 12 HP per round. Haste adds one more attack, so that's 2 more HP. Using Crusader's Strike, Rousing Strike or Revitalizing Strike means you heal 2 hit points on top of what you'd normally heal. And so on. In resume; it's useful if you get a plethora of attacks, and you have White Raven. Eternal Blade adds Diamond Mind; that alone should be worrisome. So while it's not gold material, it should be at least black material (at LEAST), because it works off every turn. It's only worse if you have Aura of Triumph because that is insane.

    Speaking of that: Aura of Triumph is obscene. You might ask: 4 HP per attack to yourself and one ally within 10 feet whenever that ally or you makes an attack? Meh, bad idea. BUT, and this is a big but, if you have two allies, you heal yourself almost to full if that other guy has lots of attacks as well. For example...imagine a wizard polymorphed into a 10-headed hydra. All of a sudden, those 10 heads (if they hit, and heck, the wizard will probably hit all of them) will heal you and the wizard for 40 HP. But, polymorph is a spell with a range of touch, so it gives good reasons why YOU should be the hydra: Combat Reflexes means you hit with all 10 heads, kill an enemy using range, and heal 40 HP to one friend and yourself while at it. Martial Spirit? Weak compared to that, but if you're not good, that's basically the same as the fast healing. Notice how both work at tandem?

    But of course, Devoted Spirit isn't known for Iron Guard's Glare or Martial Spirit. It is known for Thicket of Blades (aka "you shall not pass or else you'll eat spiked chain and trip") and Immortal Fortitude (emphasis on "immortal"). Even the other alignment aura-stances are just sick; Aura of Chaos is what made the 1d2 Crusader that deals nigh-infinite damage and Aura of Perfect Order is a "take 11" for just about anything...and a stance that works outside of battle. Heck, getting that stance makes you take 11 on things that shouldn't have a take 10, so it's almost far too useful. The only one that sucks is Aura of Tyranny (you deal 2 points to allies to heal 1 point of damage), but what are the chances of being Evil? Then again, that might be the worst stance of Devoted Spirit and it's still moderately better than Stone Dragon stances (which would have been cool if they didn't had the "you can't move or else you lose the bonus") thing.

    Also: trips and disarms are opposed Strength checks. Most of the wolf-based monsters (including the actual wolf) have free trip attempts if you get hit. Improved Grab on most creatures causes a grapple, so essentially you also get a Strength check on that one. And...you might figure you get a +2 on damage rolls done with melee weapons since those are Strength checks too :P But yeah, otherwise it's silly, and most of the Stone Dragon stances are silly because of that. And Stone Vise is good too, as well as Crushing Vise, since it halts creatures in place for at least 1 round; with a reach weapon, you don't need to be close in order to halt them in place, and you get some extra damage to boot. But again, you get the "has to be on the ground" which baffles an otherwise nice maneuver group.

    And...I don't see why this has to be sent through PM, since it's a good way to explain to others why one stance doesn't deserve the rating it has. Besides, it's a clear and valid argument, so I don't see why it would be uncivilized to have it done generally.
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    Default Re: Spirit of Steel: The Crusader's Handbook

    Glad to see a Crusader Handbook. May I recommend/request a small section dealing with the Idiot Crusader style of Crusader building?
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    Default Re: Spirit of Steel: The Crusader's Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by T.G. Oskar View Post
    And...I don't see why this has to be sent through PM, since it's a good way to explain to others why one stance doesn't deserve the rating it has. Besides, it's a clear and valid argument, so I don't see why it would be uncivilized to have it done generally.
    Just thought I saw in the header post that the request was for feedback via PM; just me trying to be polite.

    I think we're more or less in agreement: Martial Spirit is one of those stances that probably gets less useful although never totally redundant as the levels go by. But even then, as described, its main problem is that it's a good stance competing with even better stances.

    I think it's also more useful for Crusaders who are overtly going for a more support-oriented role (i.e. White Raven focused). So possibly Martial Spirit can be situational for melee-oriented Crusaders but well worth a look for support oriented Crusaders at low levels or in tandem with other stances.

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    Default Re: Spirit of Steel: The Crusader's Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Private-Prinny View Post
    Dodge: ITíS A TRAP! This is one of the worst feats in 3.5, and even worse in the hands of a Crusader.
    I think its required for a decent amount of things that making it red might not be appropriate.

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    Default Re: Spirit of Steel: The Crusader's Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Lans View Post
    I think its required for a decent amount of things that making it red might not be appropriate.
    It can be replaced by several other feats as a prerequisite, and most of the things it's a prerequisite for either aren't good in general, or aren't good for crusaders.
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    Default Re: Spirit of Steel: The Crusader's Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Greenish View Post
    It can be replaced by several other feats as a prerequisite, and most of the things it's a prerequisite for either aren't good in general, or aren't good for crusaders.
    Mostly true I suppose. I think karmic strike is the important one, but that gets replaced by R.Gambit later.

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    Default Re: Spirit of Steel: The Crusader's Handbook

    In the "Races" section, you have "Wood Elf" listed twice. I think the first one was supposed to be "Wild Elf."

    I'm not sure Half-Orc is a terrible option, as it's pretty easy to make a Crusader with basically no dependence on mental stats. Also, Gnome has one thing going for them: they can do mounted combat in 5'-hallways. (Halfling too, but ... meh. Dex boost.) I'd make a Half-Orc Crusader or Gnome Crusader long before a Grey Elf Crusader.

    Note that a first-level Crusader automatically gets all but one available maneuver. Personally, I'd pick Stone Bones, even though it ages quickly, rather than getting Vanguard Strike and Leading the Attack, since they're identical. Also, when I'm choosing between them, I'd actually choose Leading the Attack almost every time. The typed bonus doesn't come up very often at low levels. But while a Crusader is never going to have trouble taking enough Devoted Spirit maneuvers and stances to meet any prerequisite he wants, White Raven prerequisites can actually be pretty tough to meet. That's why I'd pick Leading the Attack.

    I'm surprised at your dismissal of Steadfast Determination, even though you advocate dumping Wisdom, make Constitution "gold," and mention the need to be concerned about Will saves. I think this might well be worth two feats. (But then, I tend to find Crusaders one of the less feat-starved classes around. Weird.)

    Improved Critical really isn't made obsolete by Keen, because there are plenty of other crit-based powers that don't stack with Keen. However, I can't really think of any nifty combos for crit-fishing Crusaders, so I would only upgrade Improved Critical to green color.

    On the other hand, I would advocate demoting Great Cleave to green or red status.

    While black is probably the right color for Improved Shield Bash, I hope this handbook will go in-depth into some of the Crusader's amazing potential to actually make sword-and-board a worthwhile style (hint: Shield Block Counter) and will therefore give good treatment to the PHB2 shield-based feats, including Agile Shield Fighter (which has Improved Shield Bash as a prereq). Crusaders with reach weapons doing battlefield control are awesome, but they're not the only viable style!
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    Default Re: Spirit of Steel: The Crusader's Handbook

    Great to see my favorite ToB class get a handbook.

    I'm going to jump on the bandwagon with T.G. Oskar and argue that Martial Spirit is at least worth consideration as a Stance you take early and retrain later. At low levels, it can help all of your teammates if you're not in an early version of Rocket Tag D&D, and it pairs with Stone Power and the Delayed Damage Pool to make you really difficult to take out via HP damage in situations where you're needing to Tank seriously.
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    Default Re: Spirit of Steel: The Crusader's Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Amphetryon View Post
    I'm going to jump on the bandwagon with T.G. Oskar and argue that Martial Spirit is at least worth consideration as a Stance you take early and retrain later.
    I've been wholeheartedly convinced that Martial Spirit isn't as bad as I thought it was, but the main problem with it lies with the bolded text. You can't retrain stances. Aura of Triumph completely overshadows it at later levels, meaning that beyond a certain point, you effectively waste the stance. Great in low level games, nice for the Crusader of an evil god, but stagnant if you go outside of that.

    I am, however, going to change it to Black.

    Quote Originally Posted by T.G. Oskar View Post
    And...I don't see why this has to be sent through PM, since it's a good way to explain to others why one stance doesn't deserve the rating it has. Besides, it's a clear and valid argument, so I don't see why it would be uncivilized to have it done generally.
    There's a fine line between a well-reasoned argument and "Your handbook is bad and you should feel bad, here's a list of things that suck" that I'd rather not see crossed (don't worry, I'm not saying anyone crossed it). That said, PMs should probably be reserved for only the most pedantic things like typos and formatting errors, which don't really constitute much of a debate.

    Information on Multiclassing and sample builds should also be sent by PM only, since credit will be given and massive posts that have a duplicate on the first page do nothing but take up space. Now that that's cleared up, I need to get back to my books so I can add hopefully the rest of the maneuvers and stances by tomorrow.
    Last edited by Private-Prinny; 2010-12-31 at 05:14 PM.
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    Default Re: Spirit of Steel: The Crusader's Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Greenish View Post
    It can be replaced by several other feats as a prerequisite, and most of the things it's a prerequisite for either aren't good in general, or aren't good for crusaders.
    Master of Nine being a notable exception. +5 maneuvers granted over 5 levels? Please, sir, I'd like some more!
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    Default Re: Spirit of Steel: The Crusader's Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Godskook View Post
    Master of Nine being a notable exception. +5 maneuvers granted over 5 levels? Please, sir, I'd like some more!
    But for a Crusader, that class is nothing if not hard to qualify for. Unless your DM lets you use items (Crown of the White Raven offshoots) for the "Maneuvers from 6 disciplines" thing. Of course, even then it's still pretty feat intensive.
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    Default Re: Spirit of Steel: The Crusader's Handbook [WIP]

    And now each ToB class has a handbook underway. Excellent!

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    Default Re: Spirit of Steel: The Crusader's Handbook [WIP]

    Fair point, I was unclear on my point by using the 'retraining' term. I should have said, most folks will be in their Thicket Of Blades stance by the time Martial Stance becomes all but useless - or another higher level stance, if their focus has moved away from Devoted Spirit.
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    Default Re: Spirit of Steel: The Crusader's Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Private-Prinny View Post
    But for a Crusader, that class is nothing if not hard to qualify for. Unless your DM lets you use items (Crown of the White Raven offshoots) for the "Maneuvers from 6 disciplines" thing. Of course, even then it's still pretty feat intensive.
    Or multiclassing. Human Unarmed Swordsage 1 / Fighter 1 / Crusader 13 / Master of Nine 5 is a perfectly viable build. But yeah, at that point we're talking about material that would be more appropriate for a Master of Nine Handbook. (Hmmm, there's an idea ...)
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    Default Re: Spirit of Steel: The Crusader's Handbook

    Quote Originally Posted by Private-Prinny View Post
    But for a Crusader, that class is nothing if not hard to qualify for. Unless your DM lets you use items (Crown of the White Raven offshoots) for the "Maneuvers from 6 disciplines" thing. Of course, even then it's still pretty feat intensive.
    As Draz points out, swordsage 1/fighter 1 gets you two of the feats(Unarmed swordsage ftw!) and all the maneuver requirements with only 1 lost initiator level. With that, you qualify as a human(or with flaws) at minimum level, but its more desirable to cap a build with it, so that you can get as much goodies as possible.
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