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    Orc in the Playground
     
    MindFlayer

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    Default Swordsage builds

    Hello playground, I've been asked to join a campaign starting at 7th level, and I 'd like to play a swordsage (armed or unarmed) in a tier 3 campaign

    I was wondering what are some good swordsage builds that focus in a discipline (meaning build based off using those manuevers/stances, maunevers from other disciplines are fine and welcome, just not the focus)

    I know its a pretty open ended question, but i'm just looking for fun, flavorful swordsage builds at the end of the day

    -Thanks

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    playswithfire's Avatar

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    Default Re: Swordsage builds

    Personally, I like something like Barb* 2/Unarmed Swordsage X going into Fist of the Forest and/or Bloodclaw Master focusing on Tiger Claw with a smattering of Stone Dragon and Setting Sun for a wild man living on his own in the wilderness and surviving due primarily to his primal combat style.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    FMArthur's Avatar

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    Default Re: Swordsage builds

    For straight swordsage I actually like Setting Sun the most. It's very specialized and there isn't much outside of Setting Sun that uses the fighting style, so you pretty much never get to put it to use if you only take short stints in the class to support a different build. It gets neglected because most of it (but not all) requires that it be your primary fighting style and the other good disciplines easily support external styles.

    The thing is, it's not actually bad. It's phenominal at being an effective defense and icapacitation melee style, which normally has a ridiculously narrow portrayal in D&D. You stop charges dead in their tracks, make foes hit themselves and their allies, and defeat attempts to strike you effortlessly (particularly at your 9th level when the Shifting Defense stance basically makes you immune to melee). The offensive strikes are just a barrel of laughs; you throw people around and knock them prone (removing the ability of some to even act against you) while dealing a handful of d6s in the process. The 4th level one you'll have at 7th level (Comet Throw) lets you throw one enemy at another, deal damage to both and knock both prone. The fact that throwing maneuvers can throw people into any open space gives you the option to put your battle environments to incredibly deadly use.

    Setting Sun optimization is pretty much just Improved Trip and size alteration if you want. If you're willing to devote resources to putting your trip-throw maneuvers into autosucceed territory, getting Strongarm Bracers (MIC, 6000gp) will improve your virtual size category for it, Wolf Totem Barbarian 2 can get you Improved Trip without an Int requirement, Rage and any one of Fast Movement, Pounce or Improved Grab (last two are Complete Champion Spiritual Totems, which are compatible with Wolf Totem). I can think of reasons to take any one of those last three over each other on a Setting Sun user since Pounce isn't universally better for martial adepts.
    Last edited by FMArthur; 2012-03-05 at 09:30 PM.
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    Orc in the Playground
     
    MindFlayer

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    Default Re: Swordsage builds

    Quote Originally Posted by FMArthur View Post
    For straight swordsage I actually like Setting Sun the most. It's very specialized and there isn't much outside of Setting Sun that uses the fighting style, so you pretty much never get to put it to use if you only take short stints in the class to support a different build. It gets neglected because most of it (but not all) requires that it be your primary fighting style and the other good disciplines easily support external styles.

    The thing is, it's not actually bad. It's phenominal at being an effective defense and icapacitation melee style, which normally has a ridiculously narrow portrayal in D&D. You stop charges dead in their tracks, make foes hit themselves and their allies, and defeat attempts to strike you effortlessly (particularly at your 9th level when the Shifting Defense stance basically makes you immune to melee). The offensive strikes are just a barrel of laughs; you throw people around and knock them prone (removing the ability of some to even act against you) while dealing a handful of d6s in the process. The 4th level one you'll have at 7th level (Comet Throw) lets you throw one enemy at another, deal damage to both and knock both prone. The fact that throwing maneuvers can throw people into any open space gives you the option to put your battle environments to incredibly deadly use.

    Setting Sun optimization is pretty much just Improved Trip and size alteration if you want. If you're willing to devote resources to putting your trip-throw maneuvers into autosucceed territory, getting Strongarm Bracers (MIC, 6000gp) will improve your virtual size category for it, Wolf Totem Barbarian 2 can get you Improved Trip without an Int requirement, Rage and any one of Fast Movement, Pounce or Improved Grab (last two are Complete Champion Spiritual Totems, which are compatible with Wolf Totem). I can think of reasons to take any one of those last three over each other on a Setting Sun user since Pounce isn't universally better for martial adepts.
    I very much like the feel of setting sun, should I go unarmed then, or should I stick to a weapon? and what feats should I take? And I would prefer Swordsage as opposed to dipping, since I'm relativly new to ToB.

    And should I add in some secondary shadow hand focus using shadowblade and assassins stance?

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    Default Re: Swordsage builds

    I'm quite fond of "well-rounded" Swordsages who cherry-pick from all six available Disciplines. Fight with a reach weapon of some sort (don't overlook the Ranseur at low levels!), plus armor spikes (or unarmed strike); focus on WIS, followed by DEX (STR shouldn't be terrible, but it doesn't have to be good -- you'll let your maneuvers do the heavy lifting when it comes to dealing lots of damage); take Adaptive Style, TWF (or Snap Kick), and Weapon Finesse, but not Shadow Blade.

    Defensive Stance 1 comes online just before you get Shifting Defense, which will be your stance of choice 95% of the time from Levels 9 to 14. So select Setting Sun for Defensive Stance 1.

    Defensive Stance 2 comes online just after you get Stance of Alacrity, which is the awesomest stance in the book. So select Diamond Mind for Defensive Stance 2.

    Diamond Mind has the best damage-dealing Strikes for Swordsages, but unfortunately its best (the Insightful Strikes) don't benefit from the Insightful Strike class features, since these maneuvers don't involve making a "damage roll." So I'd choose Tiger Claw for the Insightful Strike 1 Class Feature. Tiger Claw actually has a LOT of good strikes. For Insightful Strike 2 ... I dunno, Diamond Mind again? You might end up using the {Gem} Nightmare strikes (although they're better for Warblades), and if nothing else there's always Time Stands Still.

    Shadow Hand is not a heavy focus, but don't miss out on the teleports or Cloak of Deception. You might fit in a stance or two, as well. Stone Dragon is not a heavy focus, but don't miss out on Mountain Hammer at the very least. Desert Wind is not a heavy focus, but ... eh, actually, it's not a focus at all. Except maybe Zephyr Dance, which is awesome if your DM announces monsters' attack roll results when they try to attack you. (Then, if the number beats your AC by 0-3 points, use Zephyr to turn it into a miss.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Master Thrower View Post
    And should I add in some secondary shadow hand focus using shadowblade and assassins stance?
    Shadow Blade is really only worth it if you specialize in it completely. I.e. you only use Shadow Hand stances, you focus on having a really high Dexterity and applying it to everything, and you don't care about non-Shadow Hand weapons.

    Unarmed Swordsage is a mess, because it's written so briefly and sloppily. Does it really have no downside other than losing armor proficiency, which you can get back by dipping any other martial class? Then take it. Does it make you lose your WIS to AC when wearing light armor (a common houserule)? Then skip it unless you're really planning to focus on fighting unarmed. Either way, you're better off using weapons rather than using your unarmed strike in most cases. (So "Unarmed" Swordsage is a misnomer.)
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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    PirateCaptain

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    Default Re: Swordsage builds

    Unarmed Swordsage 4 / *Blank 1* / Crinti Shadow Marauder 5 / Shadow Sun Ninja 10 is an awesome Shadow Hand-based build. That fifth level should be anything you want that has the necessary class skills. Ranger would be good.

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    DruidGuy

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    Default Re: Swordsage builds

    Quote Originally Posted by Draz74 View Post
    Unarmed Swordsage is a mess, because it's written so briefly and sloppily. Does it really have no downside other than losing armor proficiency, which you can get back by dipping any other martial class? Then take it. Does it make you lose your WIS to AC when wearing light armor (a common houserule)? Then skip it unless you're really planning to focus on fighting unarmed. Either way, you're better off using weapons rather than using your unarmed strike in most cases. (So "Unarmed" Swordsage is a misnomer.)
    Its an 'Adaptation,' Ie suggestion for a houserule, but this is the way I usually resolve it:
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    Unarmed Swordsage adaptation(Tome of Battle): As Swordsage, but lose light armor proficiency, gain the Monk Unarmed Strike class feature(Improved Unarmed Strike, unarmed strike as manufactured & natural weapon, monk damage progression) For WIS to AC either change/read as to allow unarmored, or get a set of light armor with 0 ACP(Padded/Leather/etc)

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    Default Re: Swordsage builds

    Quote Originally Posted by Master Thrower View Post
    I very much like the feel of setting sun, should I go unarmed then, or should I stick to a weapon? and what feats should I take? And I would prefer Swordsage as opposed to dipping, since I'm relativly new to ToB.

    And should I add in some secondary shadow hand focus using shadowblade and assassins stance?
    Improved Trip and Combat Reflexes are both excellent feats to aim for on a Setting Sun user. Improved Trip helps your throws and Combat Reflexes makes you nearly immune to melee when you get the Shifting Defense stance. Since you can use either Strength or Dexterity for the throwing maneuvers and they weren't around when Improved Trip was written, it would pay to ask your DM if he or she will allow Improved Trip work on a Dexterity-based trip attempt. If the answer is "yes", you can dump Strength and take Weapon Finesse to reduce your dependency on several stats. So would 2-level-dipping Monk or Barbarian to acquire Improved Trip without 13 intelligence, but that's not what you want and would delay your better maneuvers.

    I would take the unarmed variant. The only thing you lose is armor proficiency, and through various means the use of armor will go redundant soon anyway; mostly it will be bypassed either by enemies making touch attacks or your use of Baffling Defense and Shifting Defense. Later on your fists will scale to let you deal more damage than other melee weapons when it's necessary, so you can throw someone down at your feet for Xd6 and then your free punch from Improved Trip brings hits them harder from Monk damage and Improved Natural Attack.


    Magic items to consider:
    • Strongarm Bracers (MIC, 6000gp): Wield weapons and make opposed checks as if one size category larger (ie +4 to trip and trip).
    • Two for unarmed if you take it:
      • Fanged Ring (Dragon Magic, 10000gp): Grants the Improved Unarmed Strike and Improved Natural Attack (unarmed strike) feats to bump up your punching damage by a size category.
      • Necklace of Natural Attacks (Savage Species, 600+enhancement bonus): Lets you put normal weapon enhancements and special abilities on your unarmed strike.
    Last edited by FMArthur; 2012-03-06 at 11:50 AM.
    • Chameleon Base Class [3.5]/[PF]: A versatile, morphic class that mimics one basic party role (warrior, caster, sneak, etc) at a time. If you find yourself getting bored of any class you play too long, the Chameleon is for you!
    • Warlock Power Sources [3.5]: Making Hellfire Warlock part of the base class and providing other similar options for Warlocks whose powers don't come from devils.

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