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    Default [3.5] Swordsage Handbook: This one'll walk the whole Way {WIP, PEACH}

    The Swordsage's Handbook




    Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. The Basics (Class features and skills)
    3. Stances and Maneuvers
    4. Feats
    5. Skills
    6. Multiclassing and Prestige Classes

    Acknowledgments

    This is where I say who did what and why you should thank them (it's because they're awesome). Anyway, these people made significant contributions to this handbook, and it wouldn't be as complete as it is without them. If you feel that I missed you or someone else, PM me with the name of the person and their contribution, and I'll be sure to add them in here.

    Darrin - I've used much of his analysis of their stances here. I reworded some of it, and outright changed a few parts, but the thought process was largely his here. Additionally, he supplied me with analysis of a good number of racial variants and obscure races.
    Essence_of_War- Contributed analysis of all the psionic races you see presented.
    Aegis013- I've changed some of his ratings, but the entire Stone Dragon section is essentially his. Thank him.
    eggs- Provided a great analysis of feats for a tripping based swordsage.
    Adverb - For excellent suggestions, and a kick in the pants to finish this.

    Suggestions


    Feel free to make any suggestions that you feel the guide needs. I'm also looking for recommendations for things to add to the feats, races, class, and prestige class lists. All suggestions will be replied to, and I'll never just reject something. If we debate it for a long time, I'm likely to include a foot-note about whatever the subject is. Again, suggestions are very much appreciated.

    Introduction: Why You're Playing a Swordsage


    Tome of Battle is one of the most debated books that's been published for the wonderful mish-mash that is 3.5. Some people think it's great and enriches melee to no end, whereas others think that it makes melee a bunch of casters. This handbook will not debate one way or the other. This is a presentation of how to, if you choose to play a Swordsage, get the biggest bang for your buck and do what it is you want to do.

    Swordsages are, as a rule of thumb, the most versatile of the Tome of Battle classes. They have the most skill points and access to more schools than the other two classes.They also have access to three schools that neither of the other two classes have, all three of which have at least a moderate degree of utility.

    This leaves you with a class that can portray a great many character concepts. The class was clearly intended to replace the Monk, but it does a quite nice job with Rogue/Ninja, and can pull off Ranger, as well. Possible concepts will be discussed in more depth later on in the handbook, and I'll be marking things as particularly useful for one concept or another.

    Rankings for Stuff


    As a forewarning, these rankings are strictly mechanical. I'll say this here and I'll say it in other places: do not gimp a character concept because I said something is average or below average.

    Red - Don't do it. It's a trap, and you don't have Trapsense.
    Purple - Below average. Acceptable if you're building to a concept, but there's probably a better way.
    Black - Average.
    Blue - This is good. It comes recommended, and you should always at least consider it.
    Cyan- This is a very nice option. If you don't have an overwhelming reason to not take it, you should probably take it.
    Gold - Take it, and don't ask questions.
    Last edited by RFLS; 2013-11-30 at 01:26 AM.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Swordsage Handbook: This one'll walk the whole Way {WIP, PEACH}

    The Basics


    Abilities

    This is a discussion of the mechanical benefits of individual abilities. This should not be taken as advice on character concepts, in any case, ever, unless you are building strictly for optimization. Swordsage is a versatile class, and can be built accordingly.

    • Dexterity - Pump this through the roof. It boosts your AC, many of your primary skills and/or school skills, and will generally be boosting your attack rolls, as well.
    • Wisdom - You should almost always be getting a positive modifier in here. As long as you're in light armor, it's added straight to your AC. Additionally, many of your maneuvers that allow a save scale off of your wisdom.
    • Constitution - This shouldn't need explanation. You're on a d8 hit-die, and death is generally something to avoid. Also, Diamond Mind maneuvers make use of the Concentration skill, making a bonus here a good thing.
    • Intelligence - Your class sets you up to be a skill-monkey, and this is where you get those points from. Be sure you're not taking a hit here, but most of the time, you'll be fine without the bonus, too. If you're the group's skill monkey, this goes straight to gold.
    • Strength - This is black in name only. In reality, it's either purple or cyan. You should consider what your Swordsage is doing before you dump or pump this.
    • Charisma - This is what the warning at the start was for. There's no mechanical benefit to pumping Charisma, but you shouldn't automatically dump it every time.


    You may have noticed a slight anger management problem present in the class. That's right; it's super-MAD (For those of you who don't know, that's Multi-Ability-Dependent). HOWEVER. There is good news on this front- you generally get to ignore one or two of the blue scores, depending on what you're trying to do.

    Races


    Before I start the races section, it's worth noting a few things. First, these ratings are predicated on a Dex based build, but I have tried to note when a race would be better or worse than normal for a different build.

    A few of the presented races have LA, racial HD, or both. In these cases, I've generally marked the race as black. However, if you can't do something to negate that, they'll generally fall at least one rating. Be aware of this when you pick your race.

    • Buomman - (Planar Handbook) Wis +2, Cha -2. I'm not really fond of these things without Dragonborn of Bahumat to get rid of the speech impediment thing, but they are one of the few LA +0 races that gets a Wis bonus.
    • Changeling - This is a kinda boring race, to be honest. You don't gain much, but you don't lose anything.
    • Domovoi - (FB) LA+2; RHD 2; ECL +4; Fey hit dice aren't great, but they are small, and have huge bonuses to dex/wis/cha/int, bonus to con, and penalty to str. They also pick up some natural armor and very minor SLAs. Might make an excellent stealthy, infiltrator type swordsage. If you can buyoff the LA, these guys go up to blue.
    • Dragonborn - This is an odd template. Most of the time, it will be purple. However, on certain races that have a +4 Dex, it can go to blue or even cyan. For instance, a Setting Sun-based Dragonborn Goblin might be entertaining.
    • Dwarves - Oddly, they're not that bad. You get a bonus to Constitution and a penalty to your dump stat, along with some other nice bonuses. The only thing that keeps them from being blue is the lower speed.
    • Elves - The core race (+2 Dex, -2 Con) is good, but the hit to Con, as always, hurts. The more common racial variants are below. Some of them are better, some are worse.

      • Painted Elf - (Sandstorm) The only reason these aren't gold is the hit to Intelligence; if you're not focusing on skills, it does go to gold.
      • Snow Elves - (Frostburn) These are an excellent race. Bonus to your pump stat, penalty to dump? Sign me up.
      • Star Elves - Gross. Avoid these forever. Bonus to Charisma and penalty to Constitution is just awful for you.

    • Githzerai - Black in name only, they're purple if you're playing without LA buyoff and gold if you are. The built in psi-abilities is just gravy.
    • Githyanki - LA+2, get boosts to dex, and con and a wis penalty, but they keep the power resistance and have an even more interesting list of tasty psi-like abilities. These are generally purple, but if you can negate the LA, they go up to black or blue.
    • Gnomes - They don't really do anything for you one way or another, at least as a base race. Whisper Gnomes, however, are outstanding.
    • Goblin - Very nice bonus to Dexterity, and the penalty to Strength can be dealt with. Small size is nice for the various bonuses, and, of course, Darkvision and Stealth bonuses are nice. Air Goblins (Unearthed Arcana) are a very nice variant for you. Adding the Dragonborn template leaves you with a Dex bonus and no penalty to Constitution. Either way you go, though, very nice things.
    • Goliath - An odd choice for Swordsage, but bear with me - with Powerful Build and a +4 to Strength, they're already tripping at a +6 over other Swordsages. For Setting Sun, they've got a racial bonus to Sense Motive. Finally, they're always treated as running for a Jump check - which goes really well with Tiger Claw. A solid, if odd, choice.
    • Hadozee - (Stormwrack) Free feat, bonus to Dex, hit to Cha? These are great.
    • Half Elves - Just....the definition of meh right here.
    • Half Giants - Largely similar to Goliaths. 2 PP for use to boost Concentration checks makes them an excellent choice for Diamond Mind Swordsages.
    • Half Orcs - The penalty to Intelligence might hurt a little, but Darkvision makes up for that. Somebody at WotC really hated this race, though. For a Setting Sun based Swordsage, these guys go to blue
    • Halflings - These guys are pretty great. Small size, bonus to Dex, bonus to saving throws. The only thing that kept them from gold is the 20 foot landspeed. These go to black or worse for a Setting Sun swordsage. The more common racial variants are spoilered below.

      • Jungle Halfling - (Unearthed Arcana) Basically the same as a normal halfling, but poison use can be a fun toy.
      • Strongheart Halfling - (Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting) Bonus feat and Small size? AND a bonus to Dex? I'll take two, they're small. Anyway, they may go to cyan for a Setting Sun build.
      • Water Halfling - (Unearthed Arcana) They get a bonus to Con. What's not to like?

    • Humans - Feats are delicious. So are skills. A solid choice, as always.
    • Kenku - (MMIII) Bonus to Dex, hit to Str. They get claw attacks, which goes really well with Tiger Claw and Bloodclaw Master.
    • Kobold - Pretty decent non-ability buffs, but a net -4 to abilities really hurts. Desert Kobolds (Unearthed Arcana) are worth mentioning. They have the same problems as regular Kobolds, but the lack of a penalty to Con bumps them up.
    • Marrulurks - (SS) LA+1; RHD 3; ECL+4; These guys are quite powerful. They're small, they get monstrous humanoid HD big bonuses to dex/con/wis, bonuses to str/cha, natural armor, free 2d6 sneak attack, death attack, poison use, and a nauseating breath Su and some additional minor benefits from their marruspawn traits. Whoa. They do so much swordsage related work.
    • Orc - For an ordinary Swordsage, these guys go to purple. However, if you're playing a Setting Sun based Swordsage, they go to blue.
    • Shifter - These are, quite honestly, one of my favorite races, but they're very feat intensive to make work well for any build, and that doesn't play too well with Swordsage. However, they don't take any particular hits.
    • Thri-Kreen (non-psionic) - LA+1; RHD 2; ECL+3; Get tasty monstrous humanoid hit dice, increased movement, boosts to dex/wis/str and penalties to int/cha, natural armor and weapons, additional limbs (for MWF!) familiarity with a few interesting exotic weapons and a sick bonus to jump checks. These guys are begging to be Tiger Claw Jump/MWF focused swordsages.
    • Warforged - These guys are black. They get a boatload of nice traits, but the hit to Wisdom really hurts.
    • Xeph - These guys are right on the edge of black. A psionic warrior/swordsage multiclass might go quite nicely, though. If only soulknife had gotten nice things.....


    Class Features


    A simple listing of the toys and features of your class, color-coded for your convenience. The ratings are general-use; I'm sure some of these can be more powerful than how I've listed them.

    • d8 Hit Dice - Eh. Wish for more, be happy you got it.
    • Fort/Reflex/Will - Duh, duh, and duh. As a side-note, if you're following a normal Swordsage build, your good saves will have bonuses to them.
    • Skills - 6 + Int skill points is pretty nice. If you're new to the game, be aware that a Swordsage should probably not get (6 + Int) x 6 skill points at level 1. This is, however, a matter for the DM (literal bonus points if you talk him into it).
    • BAB - Average. You wish it could be good, but you get enough goodies without that.
    • Maneuvers - This is it. This is the reason you're here. Good luck, and enjoy.
    • Stances - They're sexy and they know it.
    • Quick to Act - Initiative is nice. This goes to gold if you're playing as someone with Sneak Attack or a similar ability. It's essentially a free feat at level 15.
    • Discipline Focus (Weapon Focus) - Hold your horses. This is blue because it means that, until level 5, you have the same BAB as a full BAB class. This is really kinda nice.
    • AC Bonus - This is pretty nice. It's free AC, and synergizes with the Discipline Focus stuff.
    • Discipline Focus (Insightful Strikes) - This is pretty cool beans. It's the other reason to pump Wisdom in this class, and, as a Swordsage, you should be making a great many strikes.
    • Sense Magic - This confuses me greatly. It doesn't make sense (to me) with the rest of the class. It's still free, though, so don't hate on it.
    • Discipline Focus (Defensive Stance) - This is, again, nice. It's a +2 to saving throws almost all the time if you pick the correct school. Pick the correct school.
    • Evasion and Improved Evasion - These come a little late, in my opinion, but they're still pretty nice. Reduced damage is reduced damage.
    • Dual Boost - This is a pretty sweet toy, but the limited number of uses per day kinda hurts, especially given the Swordsage's terrible recovery mechanic. This is one I generally make a point of talking to my DM about. YMMV.
    Last edited by RFLS; 2013-11-30 at 01:39 AM.
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    tongue Re: [3.5] Swordsage Handbook: This one'll walk the whole Way {WIP, PEACH}

    Stances and Maneuvers

    These are the bread and butter of the martial adept classes. This guide will be assuming a normally played Swordsage for the purposes of rating things, but I will do my best to note when a particular maneuver or stance changes rating under different builds. Most of these changes will be due to a Setting Sun/Stone Dragon focused Swordsage. Before I go into detail on individual maneuvers and stances, I will break down and explain the system. By doing this, I hope to make Tome of Battle slightly easier to understand for those new to the system. If you know this stuff backwards and forwards, skip this part.

    Initiator Level


    Initiator level is one of the most well designed things in Tome of Battle. Your initiator level is as follows:

    Martial Adept level + Martial Adept PrC levels + 1/2 of any other class levels

    Every single maneuver or stance has an Initiator level prerequisite, and this is how you figure that out.

    Maneuver and Stance Level


    The second of the two confusing parts of this system is maneuver and stance level. The simplest way to explain this is as analogous to spell levels. You don't get 9th level spells at level 9; likewise, you don't get 9th level maneuvers at level 9. To figure out what level of maneuver or stance you qualify for, you divide your Initiator level by two and round up.

    Using Stances and Maneuvers


    Stances


    Stances are very, very easy to use. Here's how you do it:

    1. Check your "Stances Known" list.
    2. Pick the one you wish to gain the benefit of.
    3. Use your swift action for the round to activate the stance.
    4. Congratulations! You now gain the benefit of the stance.

    That being said, stances are well-known for having a goofy progression in relation to when you receive a new one compared to when new ones are available. I will discuss ways to fix or overcome this in the PrC and Multi-classing section.

    Maneuvers


    Swordsages are well known for having the worst recovery mechanic of the three Martial Adepts. However, they do have the most maneuvers known and readied, which (somewhat) balances things out. Be aware that, with their recovery mechanic, you will be all about proper use of maneuvers, hitting fast, and getting out while you can. Your recovery simply does not allow goofing around, and definitely does not allow for a sustained fight.

    You start combat with a number of maneuvers readied. These are the maneuvers you have access to without 5 minutes of meditation or a feat. When you use a maneuver, it's gone either until the combat ends or until you take a full round action to recover it. Yeah, that's right. You spend a full-round action to recover one maneuver. This recovery is red.

    There are 3 (okay, 4, if you count "untyped") kinds of maneuvers: Strikes, Boosts, and Counters. Strikes are how you'll be doing most of your damage, and will make for the majority of your maneuvers known, most of the time. Boosts are either a bonus to an attack or a skill check; these are few and far between. They're generally a nice thing to have, though. Counters are what they say on the tin; they're made in reaction to opponents, and generally eat your immediate (and therefore swift) action for the turn.

    List of Stances


    Spoiler
    Show

    Level 1 Stances


    • Flame's Blessing (DW): An undervalued stance. Yes, Desert Wind gets frequently picked on for only doing fire damage, which is the most common energy resistance/immunity you run into. Well, turnabout is fair play, and most of those things that are resistant or immune to fire *also* frequently do fire damage. Complete immunity to fire kicks in around ECL 16. Kinda useless if you're not taking any fire damage, but could be very useful to have around, depending on the campaign.
    • Stance of Clarity (DM): Might be useful for one-on-one battles (which happens how often?), but becomes a liability whenever there are two or more enemies on the battlefield. Most Swordsages already have an AC that's on the high end, so you don't really need this.
    • Step of the Wind(SS). Depends on how much your DM uses difficult terrain, and most of them don't bother to put it on the battlefield. May also depend on how your DM defines difficult terrain. For example, does this stance let you walk through grease and slippery ice as if it weren't there? Probably not. However, if either a) you have a way of making difficult terrain, or b) it lets you ignore slippery surfaces, this goes to blue.
    • Child of Shadows (SH): If you're focusing on Diamond Mind and other standard-action strikes, good for move + attack, and good for "just walking around" out-of-combat stuff. If you're of the TWF/sneak attack persuasion, it's not so good, since you probably prefer full-round attacks to move + standard attack.
    • Island of Blades (SH): This is only gold if you have a rogue in the party. Otherwise, it's pretty nice, but not quite there. If you're the only melee in the party, this goes to black.
    • Stonefoot Stance (SD): This is really just a meh stance for you. It inhibits mobility, and you're a generally mobile class. This would go straight to red if it weren't for the occasional utility.
    • Blood In The Water (TC): This really hurts me to write off as average, but I have to, despite my fondness for crit-fishers. Anyway. If you're not crit-fishing, skip it. If you are, this is the stance for you.
    • Hunter's Sense (TC): This is an odd one. It gives you scent, and you absolutely need to know the rules on scent to get the benefit you want from this. I'm more inclined to recommend bags of flour, but this can be a very useful stance to have on hand.


    Level 3 Stances

    • Holocaust Cloak (DW): This has the same problem that a lot of Desert Wind has, namely, energy resistance. Also, the stance specifies that they have to hit you, which is just a bad idea for Swordsages. Skip it, unless you want to be the Dread Pirate Roberts.
    • Pearl of Black Doubt (DM): This is an astounding stance. You should always have it in your repertoire, unless you have a really good reason not to. It makes you effectively immune to swarms of mooks, and gives other people a hard time in hitting you.
    • Giant Killing Style (SS): This might be a good stance for certain builds, but in general you're better off in another stance. The +4 untyped damage might be handy in a Confound the Big Folk/"I May Be Tiny But You're Dead" kind of build, works with Ubercharger multipliers, and has some possibilities with ranged attacks (yes, that bonus applies to ranged as well as melee), but ranged combat isn't exactly a strong suit for Swordsages or ToB in general.
    • Assassin's Stance (SH): #1 pick for most Shadow Hand Swordsages, and opens up feats like Craven and Staggering Strike (now if they only had feat slots available... hah). If you're doing anything with Shadow Blade, you'll probably spend 95% of the rest of your career in this stance. Arguably (as in, take it up with your DM) provides entrance to classes with Sneak Attack as a prerequisite.
    • Dance of the Spider (SH): At-will Spiderclimb, which is super-fun and super-useful unless you manage to get yourself a permanent fly speed. Requires a free hand to hold onto a wall, so may interfere with your combat style and may be only situationally useful in combat depending on the terrain available, but out-of-combat lets you walk around or over the most dangerous dungeon features.
    • Crushing Weight of the Mountain (SD): One of the few Stone Dragon stances that doesn't end when you move more than 5', and can be used anywhere (even flying). Also a fairly easy way to add Constrict damage to a grapple build. So, definitely a gold pick if you're a grappler, otherwise skip it.
    • Roots of the Mountain (SD): No. Just no. More seriously, you shouldn't be standing still, you should never be tripped, and DR 2/- is basically nothing.
    • Leaping Dragon Stance (TC): This is very, very nice for Tiger Claw based Swordsages, as it basically means you'll always hit those jump checks. If you're one of those guys, this is actually cyan.
    • Wolverine Stance (TC): How often are you ever in a grapple? Yeah, didn't think so. Skip it.


    Level 5 Stances

    • Hearing the Air (DM): At-will blindsense 30', which allows you to pinpoint invisible stuff. From a utility standpoint, one of the best level 5 stances.
    • Shifting Defense (SS): This is strange. It's not nearly as good if your DM rules that you move after the attack, but remains blue. However, if you get to move before the attack, it goes up to cyan, and if you're AoO focused, it goes to gold.
    • Step of the Dancing Moth (SH): Somewhat situationally useful, depending on how often DMs use difficult terrain or expect you to walk across lava. Generally not worth getting... usually Dance of the Spider works just as well, or at this ECL you generally have some sort of temporary flight available.
    • Giant's Stance (SD): Not worth it. For most weapons, going up one size category is only +1 average damage. Also, it only works on your turn, so you have to recalculate your damage on AoOs, which is kind a PITA. If you need this, buy Strongarm Bracers from the MIC for 6000 GP.


    Level 6 Stances

    • Fiery Assault (DW): Fail. Punishing Stance was doing this from 1st level, only this is fire damage, which a lot of creatures at this level will be resistant/immune.


    Level 7 Stances

    • Prey on the Weak (TC): This stance is useful if you somehow have a long reach. When you read the text, you need to realize that when a foe is dropped, you're granted and AoO. That's it. Not "when you drop a foe." That makes this really, really great for fighting swarms of mooks if you have good reach *coughspikedchaincough*


    Level 8 Stances

    • Rising Phoenix (DW): This is actually not a very good stance at all, since it may be closer to levitating than flying, and most PCs have been flying loop-the-loops around you for ages by the time you get this stance. But on the other hand, how many of those fliers can say they are flying on top of a superheated flamethrower of their own awesomeness? So that's got to be worth something, at least for the purposes of style. But also... Diving Charge/Battle Jump + Pounce = automatic fire damage to everything adjacent to you, so it may be a great way to take out a few armies.
    • Stance of Alacrity (DM): Counters eat up your swift actions, which at this level are extremely precious. Just to keep on top of the action economy, you'll probably spend the rest of your career in this stance.
    • Ghostly Defense (SS): Depends a great deal on whether your opponents have to roll for concealment/miss chance, and only works if there's another enemy nearby to take the hit. Also, you get punished for having a high AC, and lowering your AC to make this work seems counter-intuitive. Very difficult to get this to work reliably, so not really worth the bother.
    • Balance on the Sky (SH): At-will air walk, with the somewhat bizarre requirement that you keep one hand empty (...but why? This is never explained). Somewhat useless if you already have a permanent fly speed, but if not, then quite handy, because it's somewhat like a perfect fly speed and hovering all rolled into one.
    • Strength of Stone (SD): Meh. At this level, buying a buckler with heavy fortification or that gem of fortification from the Draconomicon is generally affordable.
    • Wolf Pack Tactics (TC): Might be interesting, but not nearly as useful as Stance of Alacrity. I'm quite tempted to switch this to blue, but can't quite justify it.


    List of Maneuvers


    Desert Wind
    Spoiler
    Show

    Level 1 Maneuvers

    • Blistering Flourish: This is kinda meh. Dazzled is not a big deal, and many things just don't care.
    • Burning Blade: It's not bad early on, when few things have fire resistance or outright immunity. Due to a lack of IL cap, this scales rather nicely.
    • Distracting Ember: Flanking is nice. Everyone likes flanking. Additionally, this can be used to check for traps, set things on fire, illumination, and basically anything creative you can think to do with a bit of fire.
    • Wind Stride: While a +10 foot speed boost is nice, you have a ton of swift action options available. Not your best choice for a boost.


    Level 2 Maneuvers

    • Burning Brand: Eh, 5-foot reach is nice, but, as always, fire damage is not incredibly desireable.
    • Fire Riposte: It's fire damage, you spend your swift action for the round, and you have to get hit. Less than ideal.
    • Flashing Sun: This is near black, but the -2 on attacks kinda sucks, especially since you're spending a strike on it.
    • Hatchling's Flame: Strictly meh. It's like Burning Hands, but you're spending a maneuver known on it.


    Level 3 Maneuvers

    • Death Mark: This is oddly nice, but it's very situational, and requires you to be in a less than ideal position to be used to maximum potential.
    • Fan the Flames: Like most direct fire damage, there's nothing special to see here. Move along.
    • Zephyr Dance: Somewhere between black and blue. On one hand, you shouldn't be getting hit, but on the other, it's nice to be able to just say "no" to an attack.


    Level 4 Maneuvers

    • Firesnake: Just...don't. You're spending a maneuver known to be able to cast Flaming Sphere.
    • Searing Blade: Eh. Bonus damage, but it's fire.
    • Searing Charge: This is really pushing blue, to be honest. However, charging will generally not be your thing.


    Level 5 Maneuvers

    • Dragon's Flame: See Hatchling's Flame.
    • Leaping Flame: This is blue because I'm intrigued, and it seems useful. However, I can't think of anything but the obvious situation where this is useful. The best I've got is going after casters who're throwing rays around. This will probably go to black.
    • Lingering Inferno: This is pointless and you don't want it.


    Level 6 Maneuvers

    • Desert Tempest: This is a very useful ability. Making lots of attacks is nice; if you use this with Wind Stride it gets better.
    • Ring of Fire: At first, this seems really good. On first sight, I was inclined to give it blue. However, it requires a closed shape, which is a lot less area than you'd think, and many things at this level have an outright "no" button to this ability.


    Level 7 Maneuvers

    • Inferno Blade; Same as before. Skip it.
    • Salamander Charge: Eh. It's a very strange ability. Not having to stay in a straight line on a charge is nice, though.


    Level 8 Maneuvers

    • Wyrm's Flame: Boring. Skip it.


    Level 9 Maneuvers

    • Inferno Blast: As put by my predecessors, the political power of being able to torch a small country every few rounds must be nice, but this is basically pointless against CR-appropriate challenges.



    Diamond Mind
    Spoiler
    Show

    Level 1 Maneuvers

    • Moment of Perfect Mind: You're melee and you love this.
    • Sapphire Nightmare Blade: This combos very well with Assassin's Stance or any Rogue levels you might have. Even if you don't have those, flat-footed attacks are easier to make.


    Level 2 Maneuvers

    • Action Before Thought: Never, ever get this. You should never fail a Reflex save.
    • Emerald Razor One of the best maneuvers. Making touch attacks is an incredibly valuable thing; cherish it.


    Level 3 Maneuvers

    • Insightful Strike: This is a nice source of bonus damage. I'm inclined to place this in black, but I can't quite convince myself.
    • Mind Over Body: Given your low Fort save, this is a nice thing to have.


    Level 4 Maneuvers

    • Bounding Assault: This lets you do many, many things that a charge specifically doesn't allow you to do, such as turning and going over rough terrain. Very nice to have.
    • Mind Strike: I am undecided on this; however, ability damage is always a good thing. The very worst is that you drop the critter's Will save.
    • Ruby Nightmare Blade: Double damage, you say? That sounds good. I'll take two.


    Level 5 Maneuvers

    • Disrupting Blow: This is an oddly written ability. However, "no" buttons are a nice thing to have around, and this is one of them.
    • Rapid Counter: It's basically an extra AoO. Go figure.


    Level 6 Maneuvers

    • Greater Insightful Strike: This can get very silly very fast.
    • Moment of Alacrity: Eh. You move up a little in turn. I suspect that there's a way to combine this with Time Stands still. If that's the case, then this goes to blue, because who doesn't love an absolutely stupid number of attacks per round?


    Level 7 Maneuvers

    • Avalanche of Blades: This is nice. It goes to somewhere past gold if you're using Lightning Mace cheese.
    • Quicksilver Motion: It's basically free Spring Attack or Pounce.


    Level 8 Maneuvers

    • Diamond Defense: Save bonuses are a very, very good thing to have lying around. The only reason this isn't gold is that it's an 8th level maneuver and therefore precious.
    • Diamond Nightmare Blade: Very nice damage; easily higher than the "you do 100 damage" 9th level maneuvers.


    Level 9 Maneuvers

    • Time Stands Still: I can't make this gold enough. This is astounding and you have absolutely no reason to ever not take it. Ever.



    Setting Sun
    Spoiler
    Show

    Level 1 Maneuvers

    • Counter Charge: It uses Dex or Str, which makes it pretty good for you. This is a good way to mess with, you guessed it, chargers.
    • Mighty Throw: This is a great repositioning strike, and prone is a good condition to inflict.


    Level 2 Maneuvers

    • Baffling Defense: This is by far one of my favorite counters; I always find the fluff amusing. Anyway, it's blue because pumping a skill is stupidly easy. However, if you're not building a martial artist type, this is black or purple.
    • Clever Positioning: Honestly, this is black because I don't really know what to do with it. It's only situationally useful, but it does exactly what it's intended to do. However, it does make flanking easier. It's worth noting that your enemy provokes an AoO if he leaves a threatened square.


    Level 3 Maneuvers

    • Devastating Throw: It's like Mighty Throw, but 2d6 points of damage. One of them is blue and the other is black; user's choice.
    • Feigned Opening: Situationally useful, but there are probably better uses of your immediate actions. That being said, this would combo well with an AoO build, and goes to blue in one.


    Level 4 Maneuvers

    • Comet Throw: This is a great maneuver. It's similar to the previous 2 throws, with the exception that you get to try to knock another opponent prone, too.
    • Strike of the Broken Shield Automatic extra damage, and a chance to flank the opponent for 1 round.


    Level 5 Maneuvers

    • Mirrored Pursuit: This is primarily used for lockdown builds. It allows you to stay on top of fleeing opponents.
    • Soaring Throw: This is eh. There are a bunch of throws you should already have, and this doesn't bring anything particularly new to the table.
    • Stalking Shadow: Unless I'm missing something, this is purple because it is, in every way, worse than Mirrored Pursuit.


    Level 6 Maneuvers

    • Ballista Throw: The immediate draw is the damage, but you need to be aware that there are oh-so-many ways you can abuse a 60 foot throw.
    • Scorpion Parry: Fun ability, nice fluff. The RAW is unclear as to whether you can cause him to hit himself; however, the Fool's Strike 2 levels up suggests that it is not meant to allow redirection to the attacker.


    Level 7 Maneuvers

    • Hydra Slaying Strike: If you're fighting stuff with a lot of attacks per round, this is a must have. This goes to purple if you're fighting mostly casters or single attack monsters.


    Level 8 Maneuvers

    • Fool's Strike; This is a nice trick, but not that much greater than Scorpion Parry. It's black for the same reason.


    Level 9 Maneuvers

    • Tornado Throw: Run around really fast and throw people? Yes please. This goes goes beyond gold if you're already a focused tripper build.



    Shadow Hand
    Spoiler
    Show

    Level 1 Maneuvers

    • Clinging Shadow Strike: This leans towards blue, but it's only 1 round in duration and has a low save to beat.
    • Shadow Blade Technique: Basically, doubles your chances to hit, and gives a little bonus damage if you hit with both.


    Level 2 Maneuvers

    • Cloak of Deception: This is a beautiful abilitiy. You should almost always have this in your repertoire.
    • Drain Vitality: It's okay. You won't be doing much HP damage through the Con damage at this level, though.
    • Shadow Jaunt: It's nice, and high utility, but it's less than awesome in combat because it's eating your standard action. It's an Ex ability, so enjoy teleports in anti-magic fields.


    Level 3 Maneuvers

    • Shadow Garrote: This is pretty good, especially if you have a rogue in the party.
    • Strength Draining Strike: Strength damage is nice, especially since it's guaranteed to do at least some. Good for irritating chargers and heavy melee.


    Level 4 Maneuvers

    • Hand of Death: This can go either way, really. The save is nothing special, but 1d3 rounds of paralysis is essentially a death sentence.
    • Obscuring Shadow Veil: Miss chance is nice, but you get this at level 7, when there are better status effects to be inflicting.


    Level 5 Maneuvers

    • Bloodletting Strike: This is pretty good to take if you're a melee fighter; towards higher levels, that's a lot of HP lost from the Con loss.
    • Shadow Stride: Most enjoyable. You can teleport right next to an opponent and use one of your standard action strikes. Again, high out of combat utility. It's an Ex ability, so enjoy teleports in anti-magic fields.


    Level 6 Maneuvers

    • Ghost Blade: Sapphire Nightmare Blade has been doing this since level 1.
    • Shadow Noose: Not too shabby. Be aware that it must be made against flat-footed opponents.
    • Stalker in the Night: This is...odd. I'm not quite sure what to make of it. However, if you've boosted your stealth skills, and you have Spring Attack, this goes to gold.


    Level 7 Maneuvers

    • Death in the Dark: This is nice. It's always extra damage. Nothing to write home about, though. It edges towards black.
    • Shadow Blink: Swift action teleport? Holy crap, this is great. Wait, it's not Su or Sp? You're crazy if you don't take this.


    Level 8 Maneuvers

    • Enervating Shadow Strike: Higher level than Enervation and offers a save. Still, negative levels are nice.
    • One With Shadow: This is leaning towards gold, but it's dependent on your ability to use your incorporeality to good effect.


    Level 9 Maneuvers

    • Five Shadow Creeping Ice Enervation Strike: This is really, really good. Take this. It hurts no mater what happens, as long as you hit on the attack.



    Stone Dragon
    Spoiler
    Show

    Level 1 Maneuvers

    • Charging Minotaur: It's a reasonably good maneuver. Moves you and deals pretty good damage as a bull rush to a foe. Blue if you have a good strength score, black otherwise.
    • Stone Bones: This really isn't for Swordsages. It can provide some reasonably increased survivability for a single round, but you can do better elsewhere.


    Level 2 Maneuvers

    • Mountain Hammer: As put my one of the previous guides, this is the Swiss Army Knife of dungeon redecorating. It lets you ignore DR and hardness, and deals bonus damage. It tends to be more of a utility maneuver for Swordsages than a combat one, though.
    • Stone Vice: Mediocre damage and save or be unable to move. Unfortunately it doesn't work against fliers. Not too bad.


    Level 3 Maneuvers

    • Bonecrusher : Pretty good bonus damage and Fort save versus +10 to confirm criticals. If you're a crit fisher, this can be a boon.
    • Stone Dragon's Fury: Same damage bonus as Bonecrusher, but only against constructs and objects. Doesn't ignore Hardness, so Mountain Hammer will sometimes be better, you can use this in conjunction with Sunder.


    Level 4 Maneuvers

    • Bonesplitting Strike Deal an extra 2 constitution damage. The best part? No Save. Constitution damage is nasty. This is a really good maneuver.
    • Boulder Roll: When's the last time someone you know used an overrun attack?
    • Overwhelming Mountain Strike: Just like Stone Vice, but at this point the damage has really failed to keep up. You could do better.


    Level 5 Maneuvers

    • Elder Mountain Hammer: Just like Mountain hammer but does 6d6 damage. Nice.
    • Mountain Avalache: Hey, a trampling attack. That's cool. Too bad the damage is pathetic at this level, even if you have a good strength.


    Level 6 Maneuvers

    • Crushing Vice: Just like Stone Vice. The damage component still isn't keeping up very well, but it's trying.
    • Iron Bones: A better version of Stone Bones, but still, you could do better. DR 10/adamantine for a round at the cost of your standard action is a steep price.
    • Irresistible Mountain Strike: Deals mediocre damage, but has a chance to deprive your foe of their standard action. If you have a good strength score to boost the DC, this is blue , otherwise it's black.


    Level 7 Maneuvers

    • Ancient Mountain Hammer: As Mountain Hammer, except 12d6 bonus damage. That's a fistful of d6's. Where does that phrase come from? The only other place I've seen it is the Rogue Handbook.
    • Colossus Strike: Deals 6d6 additional damage, with a chance to knock the opponent back and prone. If you have good strength, this goes to blue.


    Level 8 Maneuvers

    • Adamantine Bones: At this level, it's a terrible exchange. DR 20/adamantine is quite a lot, but the action cost is too steep.
    • Earthstrike Quake: This is good against swarms of mooks. If you can find a way to abuse that obstacles don't block line of effect it might be blue.


    Level 9 Maneuvers

    • Mountain Tombstone Strike: No prerequisites. Does 2d6 con damage? No Save? Amazing!



    Tiger Claw
    Spoiler
    Show

    Level 1 Maneuvers

    • Sudden Leap: This "isn't" Pounce *wink* *wink* In seriousness, this boost does wonders for your action economy, especially if you can be treated as running from a standstill for Jump checks.
    • Wolf Fang Strike: Blue in name only, this goes to cyan or possibly gold if you're TWFing. You see that boost right above this one? Do the math. At level 1, you can jump at your opponent, hit him twice, and then use your move action to get away. The only reason this isn't automatically gold for TWFers is that there's no way to apply iteratives.


    Level 2 Maneuvers

    • Claw at the Moon: It's bonus damage, but not the best thing in the world.
    • Rabid Wolf Strike: Eh. Mediocre damage. The penalty to AC at this level really hurts, too. I would generally pass.


    Level 3 Maneuvers

    • Flesh Ripper: Many melee opponents will be making this save without trying at this point. On the other hand, it inflicts some really fun penalties.
    • Soaring Raptor Strike: Nice damage, but too situational. This goes to blue or higher if you're a Small race, though.


    Level 4 Maneuvers

    • Death from Above: Again, bonus damage, but not the greatest thing. You should always be able to hit the DC at this point, though.
    • Fountain of Blood: Too specific, easily beaten DC, and many things are immune to fear effects. Skip it. The only redeeming quality is the disturbing mental image.


    Level 5 Maneuvers

    • Dancing Mongoose: Extra attacks are always nice. This goes to gold if you're TWFing.
    • Pouncing Charge: This is the only way other than Lion Totem Barbarian that I'm aware of to gain Pounce (outside weird races and Polymorph shenanigans). The only reason this isn't gold is that your chassis doesn't set you up to be a charger.


    Level 6 Maneuvers

    • Rabid Bear Strike: The bonus to-hit and damage is nice, but the penalty to AC really makes this hurt.
    • Wolf Climbs the Mountain: This needs double checking, but it looks like you get nothing but good from this maneuver. The only reason I'm unsure about the rating is I'm not entirely clear on the rules about sharing a square.


    Level 7 Maneuvers

    • Hamstring Attack: Guaranteed slowing and Dex damage on a hit? This is pretty great.
    • Swooping Dragon Strike: This goes to gold if you're maxing Jump. You can very quickly put the save DC outside anything possible to make, and stunned is a very powerful condition.


    Level 8 Maneuvers

    • Girallon Windmill Flesh Rip: This is black in name only. In reality, it goes straight to gold for TWFers and straight to red for everyone else.
    • Raging Mongoose: Two extra attacks at full attack for Two Weapon Fighters.


    Level 9 Maneuvers

    • Feral Death Blow: I'm torn on this. There are too many chances at failure in my opinion, but, on the other hand, if you beat the Jump DC and their flat-footed AC, it's really nice. You should always be beating the Jump DC, and flat-footed makes things easier on you. However, many monsters have a high Fort save. Anyway, end result is either instant death or ~70 damage. You'll never touch a tank with it, though.

    Last edited by RFLS; 2013-11-30 at 01:14 AM.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Swordsage Handbook: This one'll walk the whole Way {WIP, PEACH}

    Feats


    Feats are where a lot of a character's definition comes into play. Do I grapple? Do I trip? Do I hide? Do I flail madly at everything in sight and stop only when it's all dead? Swordsages get all of those options and a ton more. For this reason, I will be dividing feats into (spoilered) groups based on what sort of character they go on. Some feats will appear on more than one list. If a feat appears on three or more lists, it will instead be at the start of this list in the general area. You should always read the general area before going anywhere else. Finally, it's worth noting that this is by no means an exhaustive list of feats - it's just a good starting place for the most common Swordsage types out there.

    General Purpose
    • Adaptive Style: This isn't so much a feat you can take as a class feature that eats a feat slot. You should always, always have this in your build. I cannot stress that enough.
    • Weapon Finesse: Gold for Dex based Swordsages only (so, most of them). However, a more Setting Sun/Stone Dragon focused Swordsage can completely ignore this feat.
    • Shadow Blade: For a Dex based Swordsage, this is a nice source of bonus damage. Keep in mind that it stacks with your Strength modifier and that it's only for Shadow Hand stances.
    • Combat Reflexes: Generally, you should at least consider it, but it's not a must have most of the time. The exception, of course, is AoO builds.
    • Dodge, Mobility, and Spring Attack: Spring Attack is nice, but the prereqs are just awful. Only consider this for getting into Prestige Classes, and even then, think hard before you do.
    • Combat Expertise: For a skill monkey type Swordsage, this is a good feat to have. Otherwise, you can probably skip it.
    • Knowledge Devotion: Same as above, really. You'll appreciate the bonuses if you do take it, though.
    • Superior Unarmed Strike: Black in name only, this is red if you're using a weapon and cyan if you're using the unarmed variant.
    • Snap Kick: Black in name only, this is red if you're using a weapon and cyan if you're using the unarmed variant. Hm. That sounds familiar.
    • Steady Concentration: Take 10 on my saves? Yes, please and thank you, I'll come again.
    • Stone Power: I'm not entirely sure what to make of this. It's more of a tank feat, and you really, really shouldn't be tanking. In general, skip it.
    • Shards of Granite: This is a pretty good feat, but it seems to encourage standing around and taking a beating. I don't generally recommend it, but if that's the path you're taking, this is a good one to have around.
    • Sudden Recovery: Swordsages are the Adept most often put in the "Oh crap I need that NOW" boat for maneuvers. This is an excellent feat for you, as it largely solves that problem.
    • Desert Wind Dodge: By far better than Dodge. If you're going for Spring Attack, you need to use this.
    • Staggering Strike: This is a good option for Swordsages using Sneak Attack. Not much else to say.
    • Three Mountains: Not really your cup of tea.
    • Travel Devotion: As always, this is a great option. You should consider it if you have room in your build.


    Tripper
    • Improved Trip: This is pretty much necessary for trippers. +4 and a free attack is a big deal.
    • Knock-Down: Free trip attempt whenever you deal a tiny amount of damage? This is a no-brainer. Debatably procs Improved Trip.
    • Jotunbrud: The wording is strange, and it's only available to first level humans. Be aware that it allows you to treat yourself as Large, not as one size larger.
    • EWP: Spiked Chain: The only reason this isn't orange is because I'd feel guilty recommending borderline cheese. Be sure it fits at your table's optimization level before taking it. Although...if you have a full caster at the table, go right ahead.
    • Defensive Throw: Free trips when someone misses? Sign me up. Combos well with Pearl of Black Doubt.
    • Great Throw: This is fun, but the prereqs and restriction to unarmed strikes make it less appealing. Still, it should be mentioned. It's found here, for anyone having trouble finding it.


    Sneaker
    • Gloom Razor: This is a beautiful feat for Sneak Attackers, especially given that the three options are synergistic with each other.
    • Craven: Free damage independent of your SA dice. Take it at some point if you're setting up for Sneak Attacking.
    • Darkstalker: This finally lets you avoid the various senses higher-level critters have - you're not out of look when you fight a dragon anymore. You'd think this would be built right into the Stealth skills, but nooooo.... Anyway, if you're intent on sneaking, you absolutely must have this feat.


    Skill Monkey

    Really, this section is more of a generic "How-To." I would highly recommend dipping Rogue or Factotum with such a character. Additionally, the feat Able Learner is excellent for UMD after a rogue dip. Finally, the Chameleon PrC should be looked at for a solid skill monkey cap.

    Flurry of Death
    • Lightning Maces: This is part of a silly, silly feat chain I'll explain in greater detail in a bit. It does require Aptitude <Your Weapon of Choice Here>
    • Improved Critical: This goes up if you have a level of Warblade to retrain it for use with different weapons.
    • Two Weapon Fighting Chain Only blue because you need them. These feats kinda bite without bonus damage of some sort.


    The above feat combos generate about 5.5 attacks per round with BAB 6. When combined with the feat Snap Kick and a pair of Adaptive weapons, this can generate an infinite amount of attacks. Don't take this all the way for anything but a high-OP table. The Lightning Maces + Aptitude Weapon is pushing it by itself.
    Last edited by RFLS; 2013-11-30 at 01:35 AM.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Swordsage Handbook: This one'll walk the whole Way {WIP, PEACH}

    Skills


    • Balance: You should put at least 10 ranks in this. Orange because Grease is a thing.
    • Climb: Definitely nice to have ranks in, but not mandatory.
    • Concentration: Generally black. If you're focusing on Diamond Mind maneuvers or gishing into JPM, this goes to cyan or even gold.
    • Craft: Boring, pointless. Take ranks as a prereq or for flavor reasons. Otherwise, skip it.
    • Heal: If you have leftover points, put one or two in here, I suppose. Stabilizing is better than dead, but honestly, just get a healer of some sort.
    • Hide: Variable. Generally cyan, but if you're focusing on Shadow Hand, it goes to gold. If you're tripping, it goes to blue or black.
    • Intimidate: You have no particular use for it, but it can be useful at times.
    • Jump: This is just a good skill to put points into. If you're focusing on Tiger Claw, this goes straight to and past gold.
    • Knowledges: Can be good, can be bad. Very DM dependent.
    • Listen: It's always confused me that Swordsages didn't get Spot on their list. Anyway, it's good to have ranks in Listen, because being surpised always sucks.
    • Martial Lore: Just no.
    • Move Silently: Variable. Generally cyan, but if you're focusing on Shadow Hand, it goes to gold. If you're tripping, it goes to blue or black.
    • Profession: It's a trap. Run away.
    • Ride: There's no real reason to ever take this.
    • Sense Motive: Nice skill to have, but not exactly a game-changer. It would be better if Setting Sun used it more.
    • Swim: This doesn't come up often, but when it does, you'll be happy if you put points into it.
    • Tumble: Great skill. Always max it. Getting hit is no fun.
    Last edited by RFLS; 2013-11-30 at 01:17 AM.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Swordsage Handbook: This one'll walk the whole Way {WIP, PEACH}

    Classes


    Given the incredibly large number of roles that a Swordsage can fill, and the number of multiclass and prestige class possibilities, I will be assessing each class and prestige class as though the Swordsage was building to a role similar to the other class or prestige class. For instance, when considering Cleric/Swordsage, I would assume that the player was going for a self-buffing gish build, and possibly aiming for Ruby Knight Windicator. I would NOT assume that he was going to do something completely out of left field, like archery.

    Multiclass Possibilities


    Spoiler
    Show
    Barbarian: Barbarian, as always, is a good 1 level dip for a melee build (Say it with me- "Lion Totem") Honestly, though, I wouldn't take it past 1 level, unless you're a tripping focused Swordsage (Wolf Totem + more Rages)

    Cleric: As a 1 level dip, Cleric is a pretty astounding choice. You can pick up to domains or domain feats, and you've got Wisdom synergy. Travel domain would be especially recommended, as it lets you simulate Spring Attack. Cleric is also, of course, a prime entry method for the Ruby Knight Windicator.

    Crusader: The two classes don't particularly synergize, but it can be a useful dip to qualify for certain PrCs. The extra maneuvers and Furious Counterstrike make it worthwhile, though.

    Druid: Eh. Won't really synergize that well with you.

    Factotum: This class is really great if you're trying to fill in the skill monkey roll. If you take it a few levels in, you pick up Sneak Attack.

    Fighter: 2 level dip here. Nothing to see, move along.

    Monk: This is generally a two level dip, as well. You get advanced damage die for your improved unarmed strikes, fast movement, flurry, and two bonus feats. It tends to vary from build to build whether a dip here is a good idea, so think before you dip in this one.

    Rogue: 1 or 3 levels of rogue can't hurt for a sneaker build. Not the best, as rogue isn't the best, but not bad. This definitely qualifies you for the classes and feats that have it as a prereq, as opposed to Assassin's Stance, which is debatable.

    Warblade: A little more synergistic than the Crusader, but not much. They're blue because you can load a level or two of them up with strikes you'll be using a lot, and then you'll be able to spam those strikes, while focusing on utility on the Swordsage side.



    Prestige Classes

    Spoiler
    Show

    It's worth noting that due to the specific wording in ToB, all Prestige Classes are worth a full initiator level instead of the normal half, even if they don't advance maneuvers or stances. Many DMs will houserule this away, but, per RAW, PrCs all grant +1 IL per level.

    Bloodclaw Master: This is most likely to see use (read as "only") in a Tiger Claw focused Swordsage. The Shifting is nice, as is Superior Two Weapon Fighting. However, keep in mind that you have to use Tiger Claw maneuvers and stances to use some of the class features, making this a rather poor choice for you if you want to retain those maneuvers for use later.

    Chameleon: This class is great for Swordsages - it opens up a lot of versatility, and that floating feat? Yeah - you can use that for Martial Training. Great prestige class all around.

    Eternal Blade: You won't get into this class for all 10 levels, meaning you don't get the goodness that is Island in Time. I'd recommend skipping it, to be honest.

    Exemplar: This PrC is really solid as a 1 level dip for any skill-monkey Swordsage. The ability to take 10 on certain skills is invaluable (UMD and Tumble both come to mind.

    Jade Phoenix Mage: This is a really solid PrC for the gish-sages. There's not much to say about it after that, but I do have two things to point out. The first is that this comboes really, really well with Desert Wind thematically. The second is that fluff is mutable; if you don't like Phoenixes, talk to your DM about being a "Marble Dragon Mage" or something. Don't pass on this class if you're gishing it up.

    Master of Nine: This class almost requires dipping around, especially into Monk and Warblade. You can get in with only Swordsage levels, but I don't recommend it, as most of the prereq feats are trash. That being said, every level after the first gives you a pretty cool new toy, and you get the benefit of learning more maneuvers than ANYONE. I've only rated it blue because it tends to take a lot of effort to make it work.

    Ruby Knight Vindicator: This requires either two feats for a Devoted Spirit maneuver and stance, or a 1 level dip into Crusader. However, it can make for a very interesting divine gish. It oddly has no spellcasting prereq, so you can enter with one level of, say, Cloistered Cleric. The ability to generate extra swift actions is killer. Other than that, you gain the ability to learn maneuvers from White Raven (Tactics!) and the ability to spend turn attempts to recover maneuvers (lifesaver for a Swordsage). Overall a very solid PrC for you, if you're willing to dip for it.

    Shadow Sun Ninja: Strange abilities, but excellent flavor. The PrC is mechanically solid, so I don't have much to add here. If you want to be a ninja, use this class. Friends don't let friends play Complete Adventurer Ninjas.



    This section is under construction. I will be perusing splatbooks and other handbooks, as well as taking suggestions for specific feats and general builds. Advice is much appreciated. 10-30-12
    Last edited by RFLS; 2013-11-30 at 01:01 PM.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Swordsage Handbook: This one'll walk the whole Way {WIP, PEACH}

    Swordsage Variants


    Arcane Swordsage


    The Arcane Swordsage is a variant that is very briefly mentioned in the Tome of Battle. There is no official material on it, so I will briefly present a few possible ways to do it. Be aware that this is entirely up to the DM for use at his table.

    1. Allow the Swordsage to learn spells in place of maneuvers on a 1:1 exchange for maneuver to spell level. Consider Abjuration spells to be Stone Dragon, Evocation to be Desert Wind, Illusion to be Shadow Hand, and Transmutation to be Tiger Claw for the purposes of class features referencing the school of a maneuver. I'll say this now: This could get very broken very quickly.
    2. Give the Swordsage a Bard spell progression, and access to Abjuration, Evocation, Illusion, and Transmutation spells from the wizard and sorcerer spell list. Remove access to maneuvers. This is probably much closer to balanced than the previous suggestion, but it takes a little more work.
    3. Search for a homebrew version that's not one of these. There are at least half a dozen floating around; I'll try to post some links to the better ones at some point.


    Unarmed Swordsage


    This swordsage variant is a little better detailed, and that means it'll be easier to explain.

    What it gains:
    • A monk's unarmed strike progression. This is the table next to the Monk class that lists how much damage its unarmed strikes do.


    What it loses:
    • Light armor proficiency.


    Per RAW, Swordsages don't get their Wisdom bonus to AC while unarmored. I generally recommend ignoring this anyway, but in this case, it becomes necessary. For this variant to work, the Swordsage MUST get Wisdom to AC while unarmored. The variant also fails to detail that the Swordsage receives Improved Unarmed Strike as a bonus feat. Give it to them. It's dumb not to.

    Homebrew Disciplines


    In general, I would recommend being very careful with allowing these. They only fit certain characters, and some of them are more than a little unbalanced. I'll present a few of my personal favorites, and welcome recommendations for others based on balance or flavor.

    1. Dancing Leaf: It makes you that jackass that no one can ever hit.
    2. Falling Star: The one by Fax Celestis, specifically. Very solid archery-based discipline.


    Adapting Tome Of Battle to Pathfinder


    Many people play Pathfinder instead of 3.5 by now, but want all (well, most) of the goodies 3.5 brought to the table. Much of it is very easy to port straight over, but Tome of Battle is a little more difficult, mostly because of the changes to skills that Pathfinder included. That being said, here is an excellent guide to porting it over. I'll link that again, just to make sure.
    Last edited by RFLS; 2013-04-02 at 12:49 PM.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Swordsage Handbook: This one'll walk the whole Way {WIP, PEACH}

    Post 8: Reserved for even MORE stuff that I forgot to account for.

    Changelog

    Spoiler
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    I'll be writing down what I change as opposed to what I add here.
    10-30-12: Big update to the Races section. Also added the dual boost capstone.
    10-30-12: Edited the Abilities, Races, and Class Features section to include the Cyan rating, as well as incorporating input.
    10-29-12: Changed the Holocaust Cloak to its proper rating. I maintain that it is gold =P
    10-29-12: Added a Cyan rating
    1-29-13: It's been a while, huh? Added some multiclass ratings and resumed general work on the handbook.
    4-3-13: Reformatted the race section to hopefully be a little more readable. I've also added the prestige class and variant sections.
    11-30-13: Updated and reformatted skills, feats, and maneuvers. Rated prestige classes. Made minor spelling edits. Added a picture to the OP.


    This section is under construction. I will be perusing splatbooks and other handbooks, as well as taking suggestions for specific feats and general builds. Advice is much appreciated. 10-30-12
    Last edited by RFLS; 2013-11-30 at 01:07 AM.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Swordsage Handbook: This one'll walk the whole Way {WIP, PEACH}

    Here's the old handbook, forever under construction.

    I'm looking forward to seeing yours!

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    Default Re: [3.5] Swordsage Handbook: This one'll walk the whole Way {WIP, PEACH}

    Yellow is really hard to read on some monitors. Try Dark Orange for Gold instead.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Swordsage Handbook: This one'll walk the whole Way {WIP, PEACH}

    You're welcome to use anything I've posted in the previous thread (or Talya's stances thread). No sense in reinventing the wheel.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Swordsage Handbook: This one'll walk the whole Way {WIP, PEACH}

    Quote Originally Posted by Aegis013 View Post
    Here's the old handbook, forever under construction.

    I'm looking forward to seeing yours!
    Yeah, me too xD and thanks for the link.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lateral View Post
    Yellow is really hard to read on some monitors. Try Dark Orange for Gold instead.
    Noted and fixed; thank you for the reminder. Good catch.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darrin View Post
    You're welcome to use anything I've posted in the previous thread (or Talya's stances thread). No sense in reinventing the wheel.
    Awesome, thank you very much. If and when I do that, I will be sure to cite you (and anyone else I borrow from).
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    Default Re: [3.5] Swordsage Handbook: This one'll walk the whole Way {WIP, PEACH}

    I would probably downgrade Intelligence to black since it isn't absolutely necessary for a Swordsage character. As long as they have 10 intelligence (or 13 to get Combat Expertise if they're going for that feat line), then they'll be fine.

    Strength could use a half-blue/half-purple designation since it can be dropped for a character who uses their feats to become highly Dex SAD. Once again, a character who goes for Dex SAD really only needs 8 or 10 strength. Strength that's too low will harm the character, but 8 is fine if you have Weapon Finesse, Shadow Blade, and a method for turning a few Str based skills to use Dex instead (like Boots of Agile Leaping from the MiC).

    It's also worth noting that Wisdom is worth slightly more to a Swordsage than Int is to Warblades and Cha is to Crusaders. Swordsages have more maneuvers that have DCs in them. A number of those DCs are actually absed on Wisdom, instead of strength or dexterity, which makes the stat increase in importance if you're going after those.

    Full clarity is probably something worth attempting for stat analysis, but isn't absolutely necessary since there are lots of odd Swordsage builds.

    ~

    Good luck on this! The world needs a good Swordsage handbook.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Swordsage Handbook: This one'll walk the whole Way {WIP, PEACH}

    Hmmm....I'm inclined to agree with you about Strength; it's very much a hit-or-miss ability for Swordsages. I'm not so inclined to agree about Intelligence, though. It's something that every Swordsage should at least consider, and it puts you in good stead if you have a positive modifier. I will definitely keep this in mind, though. I'm aware I have a bit of a...predilection for smart characters.

    As for Wisdom, I am in full agreement that it's important (moreso than the other adepts) for a Swordsage, but I couldn't quite justify gold to myself and I can't be damned to make a more granular rating system.

    The criticism is much appreciated, though, even if it seems like I'm rejecting it. I'll be replying to all advice I get on the handbook, and will do my best to take everything into consideration. If I disagree, I'll do my best to explain my reasoning, and I'm never, ever going to reject an argument out of hand.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Swordsage Handbook: This one'll walk the whole Way {WIP, PEACH}

    The current all-blue stat breakdown doesn't seem especially useful. It's very clear that Charisma should be dumped and Dex should be raised, but the details aren't clear. (The confusion makes sense, because a Swordsage can be built to fill one of a fair number of roles, but it doesn't help much in character-building.)

    It might be more useful to divide the early stages of stats and feats according to specific concepts or build-goals, like the PF Bard guide, and to address the stats more concretely that way.

    For instance, it might be a bit more manageable if the sections went (the contents aren't supposed to be advice, I'm just putting concrete things in here to illustrate format):
    Spoiler
    Show
    The Blender

    The Blender is all about making a lot of attacks and making them hurt. This fighting style is centered around Two-weapon fighting for maximum sneak attack damage, using boosts and counters to supplement the attack routine and to keep the character alive.

    Attributes:
    Strength: It doesn't hurt, but it's at best secondary in combat abilities
    Dexterity: This is everything to you. It's initiative, attack, damage and most feat qualifications all wrapped up in one.
    Constitution: You're a melee character. Stay alive.
    Intelligence: Doesn't factor into your combat routine, does f
    Wisdom: Keep your AC up, as well as Will and scouting skills.
    Charisma: Charisma isn't helping you at all.

    Feats:
    Adaptive Style - A necessary patch for the swordsage's recovery mechanic.
    Shadow Blade - Required to consolidate the Swordsage's combat abilities onto Dexterity.
    Staggering Strike - For use with Assassin's stance. Even more rider effects on a Swordsage's attacks just get hilarious.
    TWF - Multiple attacks. [Brief nod at the ways to make full attacks reliably and the ways Swordsage boosts/stances improve it]
    Improved TWF? - [Mention of Gloves of the Balanced hand, plus a call one way or another.]
    Craven? - [Mention of its legality with Assassin's stance, reference at least in the context of a Rogue dip.]
    Weapon Finesse? - [Mention of Feycraft weapons and a call one way or the other.]
    Lightning Maces? - [Cautious mention of Aptitude shenanigans.]

    [little blurb about favoring Tiger Claw and Shadow Hand boosts, Diamond Mind counters and maybe a splash of Desert Wind, mention of Rogue levels for Craven if Assassin's stance doesn't qualify]

    The Controller

    The Controller is about hitting hard and throwing your enemies where you want them. It uses a reach weapon and makes heavy use of Trip feats and power attack damage.

    Str>Con/Int>Dex/Wis>Cha
    Attributes:
    Strength: Primary combat stat
    Dexterity: Primarily for Combat Reflexes, but added bonuses for AC and Init don't hurt at all.
    Constitution: Frontliners need con
    Intelligence: Trip feats tend to need it
    Wisdom: Not using strikes for the damage boost, using counters and AoOs to patch defense. Not high priority, but more is always better.
    Charisma: Not needed, not helpful.

    Feats:
    Adaptive Style: blurb
    Improved Trip: blurb
    Knockdown: blurb
    Combat Reflexes: blurb
    Mage Slayer: blurb
    Pierce Magical Concealment: blurb
    Robilar's Gambit: blurb
    Three Mountains: blurb
    Shared Expertise: blurb

    [Little blurb about favoring Setting Sun maneuvers, mentioning a dip out for Barbarian or Crusader goodies]

    The Skirmisher

    ...

    [Then going into the holistic maneuver breakdown]

    EDIT: Looks like this was addressed while I was posting.
    Last edited by eggs; 2012-10-28 at 10:50 PM.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Swordsage Handbook: This one'll walk the whole Way {WIP, PEACH}

    Quote Originally Posted by eggs View Post
    The current all-blue stat breakdown doesn't seem especially useful. It's very clear that Charisma should be dumped and Dex should be raised, but the details aren't clear. (The confusion makes sense, because a Swordsage can be built to fill one of a fair number of roles, but it doesn't help much in character-building.)

    EDIT: Looks like this was addressed while I was posting.
    I will definitely be editing the abilities section to reflect which stats are useful for which roles. If I'm really motivated, I'll make a different section for each role. But uhm...yeah, they'll definitely be getting brushed up to make things more apparent.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Swordsage Handbook: This one'll walk the whole Way {WIP, PEACH}

    Always happy to see a new handbook. Handbooking is hard work, so kudos for starting, and I hope to see you finish.

    If you're looking for more things to add (because you wanted to create MORE work for yourself, right?), you might add a section on useful items for specific builds. Swordsages are so broad that it'll be hard to nail down items that work for all of them, but I'm sure you can make it work.
    In the Beginning Was the Word, and the Word Was Suck: A Guide to Truenamers ALL HAIL KING TORG!

    Quote Originally Posted by Doc Roc View Post
    Gentlefolk, learn from Zaq's example, and his suffering. Remember, seven out of eleven players who use truenamer lose their ability to taste ice cream.
    Do you play 4e? I wrote a guide to Truenamers in 4e as well!
    Here's something I homebrewed. (It's not Truenamer-related, honest.) PEACH!

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    Default Re: [3.5] Swordsage Handbook: This one'll walk the whole Way {WIP, PEACH}

    Reread Leaping Dragon stance- it's not a +10 bonus, it's a +10-foot bonus. That's effectively a +40 bonus if you're trying to make a high jump.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Swordsage Handbook: This one'll walk the whole Way {WIP, PEACH}

    Quote Originally Posted by Lateral View Post
    Reread Leaping Dragon stance- it's not a +10 bonus, it's a +10-foot bonus. That's effectively a +40 bonus if you're trying to make a high jump.
    That's a good point, and I will edit the post to reflect that. However, I don't think that it's worth taking, and, on reflection, I realized that the Wind Stride stance boost from level 1 seems to be better in every aspect. I may have to downgrade this to purple unless someone has a reason not to (I suspect I'm missing something).

    EDIT: I posted this and immediately realized that the Wind Stride stance is, in fact, a boost.
    Last edited by RFLS; 2012-10-29 at 01:04 AM.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Swordsage Handbook: This one'll walk the whole Way {WIP, PEACH}

    I'm reposting this from an older thread, which was originally reposted from an even older thread.

    Here's some excerpts from a "ranged ToB" project I was working on and haven't quite finished yet:

    Maneuvers that can be used with Ranged Attacks

    Spoiler
    Show

    Desert Wind:
    Blistering Flourish 1 (dazzles 30' burst)
    Distracting Ember 1 (flank ally)
    Flame's Blessing 1 [stance] (fire resistance)
    Wind Stride 1 (+10' speed)
    Fire Riposte 2 (counter)
    Hatchling's Flame 2 (30' cone of fire)
    Fan the Flames 3 (ranged touch attack)
    Holocaust Cloak 3 [stance]
    Zephyr Dance 3 (counter)
    Firesnake 4
    Dragon's Flame 5 (30' cone of fire)
    Leaping Flame 5 (counter)
    Ring of Fire 6 (area effect)
    Rising Phoenix 8 [stance]
    Wyrm's Flame 8 (30' cone of fire)
    Inferno Blast 9 (60' burst)

    Devoted Spirit:
    Shield Block 2 (counter)
    Defensive Rebuke 3 (boost, attack you or provoke AoO)
    Aura of Chaos 6 [stance]
    Aura of Perfect Order 6 [stance]
    Shield Counter 7 (counter)

    Diamond Mind:
    Moment of Perfect Mind 1 (counter, Will save)
    Stance of Clarity 1 [stance]
    Action Before Thought 2 (counter, Ref save)
    Mind Over Body 3 (counter, Fort save)
    Pearl of Black Doubt 3 [stance]
    Hearing the Air 5 [stance]
    Moment of Alacrity 6 (boost, +20 init)
    Quicksilver Motion 7 (boost)
    Diamond Defense 8 (counter, any save)
    Stance of Alacrity 8 [stance]
    Time Stands Still 9

    Iron Heart:
    Absolute Steel 3 [stance] (+10' speed)
    Iron Heart Surge 3
    Iron Heart Focus 5 (counter)
    Iron Heart Endurance 6 (boost)
    Lightning Throw 8 (30' line)

    Setting Sun:
    Counter Charge 1 (counter)
    Step of the Wind 1 [stance]
    Baffling Defense 2 (counter)
    Feigned Opening 3 (counter)
    Giant Killing Style 3 [stance] (+2 attack, +4 damage vs larger foes)
    Shifting Defense 5 [stance]
    Scorpion Parry 6 (counter)
    Ghostly Defense 8 [stance]

    Shadow Hand:
    Child of Shadow 1 [stance] (concealment)
    Cloak of Deception 2 (invisibility)
    Shadow Jaunt 2
    Assassin's Stance 3 [stance]
    Dance of the Spider 3 [stance]
    Shadow Garrote 3 (ranged touch attack)
    Shadow Stride 5
    Step of the Dancing Moth 5 [stance]
    Shadow Noose 6 (ranged touch attack)
    Shadow Blink 7
    Balance on the Sky 8 [stance] (air walk)
    One With Shadow 8 (boost, incorporeal)

    Stone Dragon:
    Stonefoot Stance 1 [stance]
    Roots of the Mountain 3 [stance] (+10 vs bull rush, DR 2/-)
    Giant's Stance 5 [stance] (weapon one size larger)
    Earthquake Strike 8 (20' burst)

    Tiger Claw:
    Blood in the Water 1 [stance]
    Hunter's Sense 1 [stance]
    Sudden Leap 1 (boost)
    Fountain of Blood 4 (counter)
    Dancing Mongoose 5 (boost)
    Raging Mongoose 8 (boost)

    White Raven:
    Bolstering Voice 1 [stance]
    Leading the Charge 1 [stance]
    Lion's Roar 3 (boost)
    Tactics of the Wolf 3 [stance]
    White Raven Tactics 3
    Press the Advantage 5 [stance]
    Order Forged From Chaos 6 (move action)
    Swarm Tactics 8 [stance]


    Here's a sample maneuver progression for a ranged-based Swordsage 20:

    Spoiler
    Show

    Swordsage 1: Blistering Flourish, Distracting Ember, Wind Stride, Moment of Perfect Mind, Counter Charge, Hunter's Sense [stance], Sudden Leap
    Swordsage 2: Flame's Blessing [stance], Mighty Throw
    Swordsage 3: Cloak of Deception
    Swordsage 4: Shadow Jaunt, Baffling Defense (replacing Mighty Throw)
    Swordsage 5: Shadow Garrote, Giant Killing Style [stance]
    Swordsage 6: Fan the Flames, Mind Over Body (replacing Blistering Flourish)
    Swordsage 7: Fountain of Blood
    Swordsage 8: Firesnake, Zephyr Dance (replacing Distracting Ember)
    Swordsage 9: Dancing Mongoose, Shifting Defense [stance]
    Swordsage 10: Dragon's Flame, Shadow Stride (replacing Shadow Jaunt)
    Swordsage 11: Shadow Noose
    Swordsage 12: Scorpion Parry, Moment of Alacrity (replacing Dragon's Flame)
    Swordsage 13: Quicksilver Motion
    Swordsage 14: Shadow Blink, Hearing the Air [stance], Ring of Fire (replacing Firesnake),
    Swordsage 15: Raging Mongoose, Martial Stance: Stance of Alacrity
    Swordsage 16: One With Shadow, Diamond Defense (replacing Ring of Fire)
    Swordsage 17: Time Stands Still
    Swordsage 18: Inferno Blast, Fool's Strike (replacing Wind Stride)
    Swordsage 19: Mountain Tombstone Strike
    Swordsage 20: Feral Death Blow, Balance on the Sky [stance], Tornado Throw (replacing Counter Charge)


    Ruby Knight Windicator build
    Spoiler
    Show

    1) Cloistered Cleric 1. IL 0.5. Feat: PB Shot, Human: Travel Devotion, Knowledge Devotion
    2) Swordsage 1. IL 1.5.
    3) Swordsage 2. IL 2.5. Feat: Rapid Shot.
    4) Swordsage 3. IL 3.5.
    5) Crusader 1. IL 3.0.
    6) RKV1. IL 5.0. Feat: Extra Turning.
    7) RKV2. IL 6.0.
    8) RKV3. IL 7.0.
    9) RKV4. IL 8.0. Feat: Manyshot.
    10) RKV5. IL 9.0.
    11) Swordsage 4. IL 10.0. Maneuver: Dancing Mongoose
    12) RKV6. IL 11.0. Feat: Greater Manyshot. Stance: Aura of Chaos.
    13) RKV7. IL 12.0.
    14) RKV8. IL 13.0. Caster Level 7, Divine Power.
    15) RKV9. IL 14.0. Feat: Imp. Rapid Shot. Stance: Stance of Alacrity.
    16) RKV10. IL15.0. Caster Level 9.
    17) Swordsage 5. IL 16.0. Raging Mongoose, Stance: ???
    18) Swordsage 6. IL 17.0. Time Stands Still. Martial Stance: Immortal Fortitude.
    19) Swordsage 7. IL 18.0.
    20) Swordsage 8. IL 19.0.


    Races for Ranged Swordsages:
    Spoiler
    Show

    Aasimar (MM, FRCS/PGtF, Savage Progression article). Better suited to Crusader or Paladin/RKV builds, but as outsiders they are proficient with all martial weapons, including ranged. The Wis bonus is also nice. Level Adjustment is a little more forgiving in melee builds than for spellcasters, but there are two options to play an Aasimar with no Level Adjustment. First, the Player's Guide to Faerun has a Lesser Planetouched version with the same ability score adjustments (+2 Wis, +2 Cha) but changes the Outsider type to Humanoid with an Extraplanar subtype. This means the non-outsider Aasimar loses its proficiency with all martial weapons, but you can get that back along with the Outsider type by taking the Otherworldly feat at 1st level.

    The second option is a Savage Progression article on Level-Adjusted Races that breaks the Aasimar down into a weaker version and one racial class level that can be taken later to restore the Aasimar's full racial abilities. This option still retains the Outsider type, +2 Cha, and is still proficient with all martial weapons (including ranged). You can take the racial class level sometime later or never take it at all, but if you wanted to, you'd get the rest of your racial abilities (+2 Wis, but no BAB, hit points, skill points, or better saves for that level).

    Air Goblin (Unearthed Arcana). No ranged proficiencies and small size, but great Dex bonus with no Level Adjustment (+4 Dex, -2 Str, -2 Con). You can shift the Con penalty to Cha with the Arctic racial template (Dragon #306, +2 Con, -2 Cha). Also, this is one of the few LA +0 Dragonborn of Bahumat options (flying + ranged attacks = Death From Above) that still leaves you with a Dex bonus, although you lose the Breathless (Ex) racial ability.

    Azurin (Magic of Incarnum). Close enough to human that it gets a bonus feat, but instead of extra skill points it starts with 1 point of essentia. Incarnum can be tough to fit into a ToB build because there isn't a lot of room to multiclass without losing 9th level maneuvers, and with ranged builds there aren't any feats to spare on Shape Soulmeld. However, there are a few soulmelds that work well for ranged attacks: Incarnate Avatar (Chaos, +1/essentia insight bonus on ranged attacks), Lucky Dice (+1 luck bonus on attacks and damage), and Sighting Gloves (+1 insight bonus on damage, +1/essentia). There are also a few soulmelds that offer ranged attacks (Dissolving Spittle, Frost Helm, Manticore Belt, Yrthak Mask). If you can squeeze in a dip into Incarnate or a Shape Soulmeld feat, then Azurin gives you an extra point of essentia. However, you may run into multiclass problems, since Azurin's favored class is Soulborn (*ugh*).

    Elf (various). Like Skittles, you've got a rainbow of flavors here, but this is another way to get proficiency with bows for a Swordsage. The Dex bonus is of course great for ranged builds, but the Con penalty can be troubling if you plan on using a lot of Concentration checks for Diamond Mind maneuvers. The best subrace for Swordsages is Snow Elf (Frostburn, +2 Dex, -2 Cha). Wood Elf (+2 Str, +2 Dex, -2 Con, -2 Int) is also nice if you need to dip Ranger and want to avoid XP penalties for multiclassing. You can also shift the Con penalty to Cha with the Arctic racial template (Dragon #306, +2 Con, -2 Cha). If you're dipping into Cloistered Cleric for the Knowledge devotion, there are also two elven deities with the Elf domain (Point Blank Shot) and the War domain (Martial Weapon Proficiency/Weapon Focus: Longbow): Solonor Thelandira (generic elf pantheon) and Shevarash (FR-specific). If you're looking for Elf Domain + Travel Devotion, then Sehanine Moonbow is also a good pick.

    Drow (MM, PGtF, Savage Progression article). The +2 LA isn't worth it, but the Lesser version in the Player's Guide to Faerun is very similar to the standard elf (+2 Dex, -2 Con) if you want the whole "I am all angst and emo!" flavor. They are proficient with the hand crossbow instead of all bows, but that's at least something to start with. This also works very nicely with the Hand Crossbow Focus feat (Drow of the Underdark p. 50, which is a nice two-for-one deal: Rapid Reload and Weapon Focus (Hand Crossbow). The Savage Progression article breaks down the Drow into some basic racial abilities and two racial class levels (basically nerfing their Spell Resistance and more powerful SLAs). However, they start with +2 Dex, +2 Int, and -2 Con. They are also still proficient with the hand crossbow. And, uh... yeah... I'm sure there's sections of the Underdark in the Arctic... (Dragon #306, +2 Con, -2 Cha).

    Hadozee (Stormwrack). On the upside, +2 Dex, -2 Cha, and gets a bonus feat like humans... on the downside, you're stuck with the much-reviled Dodge, although this is one of the prereq feats for Master of Nine if you're going that route later.

    Halfling, Strongheart (FRCS). Like humans, the bonus feat is invaluable. The Dex bonus, +1 size bonus, and +1 thrown weapon bonus ("He's got a pebble! Run!") are all nice perks, but the smaller size means your damage goes down a step, which for a ranged build can be a significant disadvantage. However, a small-sized Martial Adept can take advantage of several stances that work against larger opponents, such as Stonefoot Stance (Stone Dragon 1), Giant Killing Style (Setting Sun 3), and Giant's Stance (Stone Dragon 5).

    Human (PHB). You're going to be starved for feats, so every feat you can get your hands on is going to be invaluable. Human is also your best pick for multiclassing, since there aren't any races with Martial Adept classes as their favored class. Silverbrow Humans (Dragon Magic p. 6) get a bonus feat and the dragonblood subtype, but I can't recall if that would be all that useful for a Swordsage.

    Neraph (Planar Handbook). If you want to play an outsider without Level Adjustment but don't have access to Lesser Planetouched races or the Savage Progression articles, then go with a Neraph. As a native Outsider, neraphim gain proficiency with all martial weapons, including ranged. The +2 natural armor bonus, +5 racial bonus on jump checks, and Neraph Camouflage/Charge (target loses Dex bonus on first thrown attack or charge) are also nice perks for a Swordsage build.

    Raptoran (Races of the Wild). Actually a pretty poor choice for a Swordsage, but the Raptoran eventually does get flight (a game-changing ability for any ranged build), and treats the footbow as a martial weapon... which stinks for a Swordsage, since they aren't proficient with ranged martial weapons. To pick up all ranged martial weapons, you'll need to dip something like Fighter, Ranger, or Crusader. A footbow isn't that much different from a composite longbow, except if you draw with both hands you can get 1.5 times your Strength bonus on damage.

    Tiefling (MM, FRCS/PGtF, Savage Progression article). Decent pick for a Swordsage if you can live without the Human/Azurin/Strongheart bonus feat (the Int bonus makes this a more ideal pick for Warblades). Like the Aasimar, there are two options for playing a Tiefling with no Level Adjustment. First, the Player's Guide to Faerun has a Lesser Tiefling version with the same ability score adjustments (+2 Dex, +2 Int, -2 Cha) but changes the Outsider type to Humanoid with an Extraplanar subtype. You also lose proficiency with all martial weapons, but you can regain this along with the Outsider type by taking the Otherworldly feat at first level.

    Also like the Aasimar, the Savage Progression article on Level-Adjusted Races keeps the Outsider type but breaks down the Tiefling into a weaker version (+2 Dex, -2 Cha) with one racial class level. You can take the racial class level sometime later or never take it at all, but if you wanted to, you'd get the rest of your racial abilities (+2 Int, but no BAB, hit points, skill points, or better saves for that level).


    Weapons/Magic Items/Enhancements for ranged combat:
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    Bone Bow (250 GP, Frostburn). Mechanically this functions the same as a Composite Greatbow, but it accommodates any Strength bonus without having to pay for each +1. If you use a lot of spells/powers/effects that changes your Strength score (bull's strength, rage, enlarge person, expansion, etc.), then this could be well worth spending a feat on Exotic Weapon Proficiency. It also offers the option to treat it as a martial weapon, but treating it as a non-proficient exotic weapon is actually better: you still take a -4 penalty, but you're not limited to one attack as a full-round action.

    Elvencraft Bow (+300 GP, Races of the Wild). There are a variety of combination bow/melee weapons out there, but this is the simplest and cheapest. 300 GP and you can treat your bow as a club or quarterstaff even if you're still using it as a bow. If you're looking for something fancier, the MIC features three types of Swordbows (free action to switch), a Bowstaff (swift action to switch), and a Bladed Crossbow (no action to switch).

    Footbow (150 GP + 100 GP/Str bonus, Races of the Wild). Pretty much identical to a non-exotic composite longbow. However, if you can fly and can draw it back with both hands, you can get 1.5 times your Strength bonus on damage. If you're a raptoran crusader, you'll want to pick up one of these, otherwise stick with a composite longbow.

    Greatbow, Composite (200 GP + 200 GP/Str bonus, Complete Warrior). I think the Bone Bow is a better choice (cheaper, auto-adjusts to your Str bonus), but CWar is a more popular sourcebook. The 1 point of damage increase over a regular composite longbow may not seem like it would be worth a feat, but for a ranged build, you need as much extra damage as you can get your hands on.

    Hank's Energy Bow (22600 GP, Animated Series Handbook or available online). One of the few ways you can get something similar to Power Attack on a ranged weapon (but unfortunately does not offer the same damage multipliers). On top of that, it's an extremely versatile weapon that does not require any ammo, does an impressive 2d6 force damage, can use regular arrows, and can accommodate any Strength bonus.

    Precise Shot (+1 enhancement, MIC p. 40). No need to take Precise Shot as a feat.

    Horizon Goggles (8000 GP, Complete Mage p. 133) or Helm of the Hunter (9000 GP, MIC p. 194). Provides the Far Shot feat.

    Splitting (+3 enhancement, Champions of Ruin p. 42). I can haz moar arrowz.

    Ranged shield (+1 enhancement, MIC p. 13). Say it with me: "Freedom Prevails!"

    Pitspawned template (+1000 GP, DMGII). +2 untyped bonus to confirm criticals.

    Glove of Taarnahm the Vigilant (10000 GP, PGtF p. 123). Any held melee weapon gains the Throwing and Returning property.

    Strongarm Bracers (6000 GP, MIC p. 139). Increase your weapon damage up one size category without mucking around with Powerful Build or Monkey Grip.

    Bracers of Lightning (11000 GP, MIC p. 206). Adds the shock property to all your attacks, including ranged. Although somewhat expensive, in most cases it's probably cheaper to buy these bracers than trying to add another +1 property to an existing magic weapon. The biggest drawback is it takes a swift action to activate, and most ToB builds are going to need their swift actions for something else.

    Crystal of Energy Assault, Lesser (3000 GP, MIC p. 64). Another great way to add +1d6 energy damage to your ranged attacks without spending a lot of gold. I recommend the Acid Assault, since fire, cold, and sonic damage can be added with spells, and electricity can be added with Bracers of Lightning.

    Quiver of Energy (15000 GP, MIC p. 172). Adds 1d6 acid/cold/electricity/fire damage to 20 arrows.


    Spells to add more energy damage to ranged attacks:
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    Burning Sword (Spell Compendium p. 41, Sor/Wis 2). Flaming burst weapon 1 min/level.

    Frost Weapon (Frostburn p. 95, Clr/Dru/Sor/Wiz 2). +1d6 frost damage 1 round/level.

    Sonic Weapon (Spell Compendium p. 195, Brd/Sor/Wiz 2). +1d6 sonic damage 1 min/level.

    Energy Surge, Lesser (PHBII p. 112, Sor/Wiz 2). Swift action (Wand Chamber! +100 GP, Dungeonscape p. 34), add +1d6 energy damage (acid, cold, fire, electricity, or sonic) for 1 round.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Swordsage Handbook: This one'll walk the whole Way {WIP, PEACH}

    Hm...I will definitely add a section on ranged Swordsages, I suppose. I didn't even know that that was a thing.... Anyway, thank you for the recommendation. While you're at it, do you have any ranged homebrew disciplines that you find particularly well done?
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    Default Re: [3.5] Swordsage Handbook: This one'll walk the whole Way {WIP, PEACH}

    Feats like Battle Jump, or Leap attack can turn leaping dragon stance in the goldest of stances. Still it is one of the best stances for tiger claw (the 10 feet bonus on the jump + all jumps as running jumps is awesome).

    If you don't have a running start (of at least 20 feet) the DCs for the jumps are doubled, and most abilities of the tiger claw rely on succeeding on a jump check, leaping dragon takes care of that.

    Edit: Consider to bold and color the comments that you make, for example, if crushing weight of the mountain is gold for grapplers and you mention that, color it so it will catch the eye. (and maybe give someone the grappler idea)
    Last edited by God Imperror; 2012-10-29 at 06:29 AM.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Swordsage Handbook: This one'll walk the whole Way {WIP, PEACH}

    Quote Originally Posted by RFLS View Post
    Races


    Elves - Bonus to Dexterity, along with Low-light vision and their immunities makes these guys Blue. The only reason they're not gold is the penalty to Constitution.
    Snow Elf (Frostburn, Dex +2, Cha -2) and Painted Elf (Sandstorm, Dex +2, Int -2) should be gold. Their UA equivalents, Arctic Elf and Desert Elf, also get rid of the Con penalty: Dex +2, Str -2. In Core, Wild Elf is nice: Dex +2, Int -2.

    Quote Originally Posted by RFLS View Post
    Goblin - Very nice bonus to Dexterity, and the penalty to Strength can be dealt with. Small size is nice for the various bonuses, and, of course, Darkvision and Stealth bonuses are nice. These are in consideration for gold.
    Air Goblin (Unearthed Arcana) would probably be gold: Dex +4, Str -2, Con -2. You can also add Dragonborn of Bahumat to them and still have a Dex bonus.

    Quote Originally Posted by RFLS View Post
    Halflings - These guys are pretty great. Small size, bonus to Dex, bonus to saving throws. The only thing that kept them from gold is the 20 foot landspeed. Someone can probably justify them being gold to me, though. Additionally, I would like a judgement on Strongheart halflings, as I don't own that book.
    They trade their +1 to all saves for a bonus feat, like humans. Thus, they are solid gold.

    Jungle Halflings (Unearthed Arcana) make for some interesting swordsages: poison use, if you want to do the whole assassin thing, and they gain martial proficiency with the throwing axe, handaxe, and shortbow.

    Water Halflings (Unearthed Arcana) are even better: Dex +2, Con +2, Str -2.

    Quote Originally Posted by RFLS View Post
    Kobold - Pretty decent non-ability buffs, but a net -4 to abilities really hurts. There are probably some variants out there that buff this to blue or gold, though.
    Desert Kobold (Unearthed Arcana) is gold: no Con penalty. If you're using the RotD Web Enhancement, an Unarmed Swordsage Kobold is *nasty*. Four attacks: unarmed strike/bite/claw/claw. Add Dragon Tail for a fifth attack. This is at *level 1*, mind you. Add TWF + Shadow Blade and they are quisinarts of mayhem and death.

    Quote Originally Posted by RFLS View Post
    Orc - This is not the race you're looking for.
    As usual, Water Orcs (Unearthed Arcana) are better. They get a Con bonus, which helps with Concentration checks. With 6 skill points per level, Int is almost a dump stat, so the only real worry is that Wis penalty.

    Quote Originally Posted by RFLS View Post
    Warforged - These guys are black. They get a boatload of nice traits, but the hit to Wisdom really hurts.
    ...but that Slam attack makes TWF/Shadow Blade oh so juicy...

    Other races to consider:

    Hadozee (Stormwrack). You are Sun Wu-Effing-Kong. Dex +2, Cha -2. Also, Dodge as a bonus feat (one of the prereqs for Master of Nine).

    Kenku (MMIII). Medium size, Dex +2, Str -2, two claw attacks, and a +4 flanking bonus.

    Buomman (Planar Handbook). Wis +2, Cha -2. I'm not really fond of these things without Dragonborn of Bahumat to get rid of the speech impediment thing, but they are one of the few LA +0 races that gets a Wis bonus.

    Neraph (Planar Handbook). Proficiency with all martial weapons (including ranged), +5 racial jump bonus, +2 natural armor, darkvision 60', and that whole Neraph Camouflage thing goes along so well with Assassin's Stance.

    Teifling. Blue, maybe? There are two versions you can play without LA: Lesser Planetouched from Players Guide to Faerun, or the Savage Progression version.

    Tibbit (Dragon Compendium). Turn into a housecat, and then tear people apart limb from limb. How can that not be gold?

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    Default Re: [3.5] Swordsage Handbook: This one'll walk the whole Way {WIP, PEACH}

    On Swordsages and Strength:

    If you're going for full attacks, even with the Shadow Blade feat, you do not really want to dump strength. I wouldn't prioritize it high, but it's worth noting with Shadow Blade that it adds your dexterity modifier in addition to your strength modifier. That means that on your main hand attacks, 14 str. and 14 dex gives you +4 damage, just like 18 dexterity and 10 strength does, except it costs you only 12 points on the buy instead of 18. (That doesn't factor in the to-hit bonus, just making a point here.) Furthermore, if you're using a spiked chain (the only 2h weapon on the shadow blade list), your strength modifier is multiplied by 1.5, while your dexterity modifier is not. (Conversely, for a two weapon fighter, you have the opposite advantage...strength modifier for your off-hand is multiplied by 0.5, whereas dex gives you the full bonus.) You certainly don't want strength as low as 8, no matter what you do, because that's -1 to damage on both hands that does apply even if using Shadow Blade.

    I'd hesitate to ever put strength above 14, but there are reasons to not to dump it completely. Of course, if you're relying heavily on strikes, you really don't need a damage bonus at all.
    Last edited by Talya; 2012-10-29 at 07:48 AM.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Swordsage Handbook: This one'll walk the whole Way {WIP, PEACH}

    Quote Originally Posted by RFLS View Post
    That's a good point, and I will edit the post to reflect that. However, I don't think that it's worth taking, and, on reflection, I realized that the Wind Stride stance boost from level 1 seems to be better in every aspect. I may have to downgrade this to purple unless someone has a reason not to (I suspect I'm missing something).

    EDIT: I posted this and immediately realized that the Wind Stride stance is, in fact, a boost.
    Wind stride gives you a bonus to your land speed. That's equivalent to a +4 Jump bonus. Leaping Dragon gives you a ten-foot bonus to your Jump distances. That's equivalent to a +10 bonus on long jumps, and a +40 bonus on high jumps. The whole 'doesn't need a running start' thing is nice too.
    Last edited by Lateral; 2012-10-29 at 08:50 AM.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Swordsage Handbook: This one'll walk the whole Way {WIP, PEACH}

    Re: 4th level maneuver, Diamond Mind, Bounding Assault.

    Its a double move specifically, meaning you can do all the things you normally could with a double move such as jumping, turning corners and (arguably) tumbling and climbing and things, many of which you cant do in a charge without having some form of erratic charge ability, most of which are mid to high on otherwise worthless classes such as Duelist (DMG).

    I still don't think its that useful for a pure classed Swordsage, but it has a great deal of use with a charging focused character because it removes one of the chargers greatest problems (not being able to charge due to terrain). Id probbably list it as purple, maybe black moving up to gold if on a charger chassis.

    Hope this helps
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    Default Re: [3.5] Swordsage Handbook: This one'll walk the whole Way {WIP, PEACH}

    Gnomes are probably black. Con bonus and small size will both enhance survivability, but the strength penalty is annoying.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darrin View Post
    Tibbit (Dragon Compendium). Turn into a housecat, and then tear people apart limb from limb. How can that not be gold?
    With that -8 Strength penalty and pitiful weaponry in housecat form, you basically have to use the Diamond Mind strikes to do any damage, and then there's the part about Tiny size and reach. So you basically need to hoodwink your DM into thinking Shadow Blade replaces your strength score and that Fabulous Cats! was intended for PCs.

    If your group will let you be Chaotic Evil, a 2-level dip in Soulborn removes the Strength penalty without hurting your BAB or survivability. But you'll probably need to chant exactly 108 Hail Diamond Minds as you write it on your sheet in ashes.

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    Default Re: [3.5] Swordsage Handbook: This one'll walk the whole Way {WIP, PEACH}

    Quote Originally Posted by God Imperror View Post
    Feats like Battle Jump, or Leap attack can turn leaping dragon stance in the goldest of stances. Still it is one of the best stances for tiger claw (the 10 feet bonus on the jump + all jumps as running jumps is awesome).

    If you don't have a running start (of at least 20 feet) the DCs for the jumps are doubled, and most abilities of the tiger claw rely on succeeding on a jump check, leaping dragon takes care of that.

    Edit: Consider to bold and color the comments that you make, for example, if crushing weight of the mountain is gold for grapplers and you mention that, color it so it will catch the eye. (and maybe give someone the grappler idea)
    I've added those two feats to the list of feats to talk about, and I will edit the text for Leaping Dragon to reflect what you've said. Between you and Lateral, Leaping Dragon will probably be bumped up a place or two to where it belongs.

    Quote Originally Posted by Darrin View Post
    Snow Elf (Frostburn, Dex +2, Cha -2) and Painted Elf (Sandstorm, Dex +2, Int -2) should be gold. Their UA equivalents, Arctic Elf and Desert Elf, also get rid of the Con penalty: Dex +2, Str -2. In Core, Wild Elf is nice: Dex +2, Int -2.

    Air Goblin (Unearthed Arcana) would probably be gold: Dex +4, Str -2, Con -2. You can also add Dragonborn of Bahumat to them and still have a Dex bonus.

    They trade their +1 to all saves for a bonus feat, like humans. Thus, they are solid gold.

    Jungle Halflings (Unearthed Arcana) make for some interesting swordsages: poison use, if you want to do the whole assassin thing, and they gain martial proficiency with the throwing axe, handaxe, and shortbow.

    Water Halflings (Unearthed Arcana) are even better: Dex +2, Con +2, Str -2.

    Desert Kobold (Unearthed Arcana) is gold: no Con penalty. If you're using the RotD Web Enhancement, an Unarmed Swordsage Kobold is *nasty*. Four attacks: unarmed strike/bite/claw/claw. Add Dragon Tail for a fifth attack. This is at *level 1*, mind you. Add TWF + Shadow Blade and they are quisinarts of mayhem and death.

    As usual, Water Orcs (Unearthed Arcana) are better. They get a Con bonus, which helps with Concentration checks. With 6 skill points per level, Int is almost a dump stat, so the only real worry is that Wis penalty.

    ...but that Slam attack makes TWF/Shadow Blade oh so juicy...

    Other races to consider:

    Hadozee (Stormwrack). You are Sun Wu-Effing-Kong. Dex +2, Cha -2. Also, Dodge as a bonus feat (one of the prereqs for Master of Nine).

    Kenku (MMIII). Medium size, Dex +2, Str -2, two claw attacks, and a +4 flanking bonus.

    Buomman (Planar Handbook). Wis +2, Cha -2. I'm not really fond of these things without Dragonborn of Bahumat to get rid of the speech impediment thing, but they are one of the few LA +0 races that gets a Wis bonus.

    Neraph (Planar Handbook). Proficiency with all martial weapons (including ranged), +5 racial jump bonus, +2 natural armor, darkvision 60', and that whole Neraph Camouflage thing goes along so well with Assassin's Stance.

    Teifling. Blue, maybe? There are two versions you can play without LA: Lesser Planetouched from Players Guide to Faerun, or the Savage Progression version.

    Tibbit (Dragon Compendium). Turn into a housecat, and then tear people apart limb from limb. How can that not be gold?
    I will make these additions and modifications to the races list; each of the main races (elves and halflings for now) will receive their own subsection devoted to subraces. I'll also mention that Dragonborn can be applied in certain areas for nice results.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talya View Post
    On Swordsages and Strength:

    If you're going for full attacks, even with the Shadow Blade feat, you do not really want to dump strength. I wouldn't prioritize it high, but it's worth noting with Shadow Blade that it adds your dexterity modifier in addition to your strength modifier. That means that on your main hand attacks, 14 str. and 14 dex gives you +4 damage, just like 18 dexterity and 10 strength does, except it costs you only 12 points on the buy instead of 18. (That doesn't factor in the to-hit bonus, just making a point here.) Furthermore, if you're using a spiked chain (the only 2h weapon on the shadow blade list), your strength modifier is multiplied by 1.5, while your dexterity modifier is not. (Conversely, for a two weapon fighter, you have the opposite advantage...strength modifier for your off-hand is multiplied by 0.5, whereas dex gives you the full bonus.) You certainly don't want strength as low as 8, no matter what you do, because that's -1 to damage on both hands that does apply even if using Shadow Blade.

    I'd hesitate to ever put strength above 14, but there are reasons to not to dump it completely. Of course, if you're relying heavily on strikes, you really don't need a damage bonus at all.
    I will be editing the Strength entry to reflect both this and the reliance Stone Dragon and Setting Sun place upon it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lateral View Post
    Wind stride gives you a bonus to your land speed. That's equivalent to a +4 Jump bonus. Leaping Dragon gives you a ten-foot bonus to your Jump distances. That's equivalent to a +10 bonus on long jumps, and a +40 bonus on high jumps. The whole 'doesn't need a running start' thing is nice too.
    Gotcha, I see it now. Thank you for being patient with me, I get obtuse when I'm tired =P Like I said earlier in this post, I'll be editing Leaping Dragon later today to reflect what you've said. You've made a very good case for its utility.

    Quote Originally Posted by Azimov View Post
    Re: 4th level maneuver, Diamond Mind, Bounding Assault.

    Its a double move specifically, meaning you can do all the things you normally could with a double move such as jumping, turning corners and (arguably) tumbling and climbing and things, many of which you cant do in a charge without having some form of erratic charge ability, most of which are mid to high on otherwise worthless classes such as Duelist (DMG).

    I still don't think its that useful for a pure classed Swordsage, but it has a great deal of use with a charging focused character because it removes one of the chargers greatest problems (not being able to charge due to terrain). Id probbably list it as purple, maybe black moving up to gold if on a charger chassis.

    Hope this helps
    Ah, I see it now. I'll be bumping that up to black to reflect that utility; double move without weird constraints is definitely nice.



    Thanks to everyone who posted their help/criticism/clarifications! I'll be doing my best to keep on top of this for the next few weeks, but I do have school. I'll be sure to respond to anything that's posted in the thread so that if I get behind, I can go look at what I've said at a later date. I don't want anything to get lost in the pile. Like I've said before, any contribution or criticism is more than welcome.
    Last edited by RFLS; 2012-10-29 at 09:37 AM.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Swordsage Handbook: This one'll walk the whole Way {WIP, PEACH}

    Quote Originally Posted by Kazyan View Post
    Gnomes are probably black. Con bonus and small size will both enhance survivability, but the strength penalty is annoying.
    Aight. I'll be leaving that entry alone for now, but I agree that they're looking like they're just average.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kazyan View Post
    With that -8 Strength penalty and pitiful weaponry in housecat form, you basically have to use the Diamond Mind strikes to do any damage, and then there's the part about Tiny size and reach. So you basically need to hoodwink your DM into thinking Shadow Blade replaces your strength score and that Fabulous Cats! was intended for PCs.

    If your group will let you be Chaotic Evil, a 2-level dip in Soulborn removes the Strength penalty without hurting your BAB or survivability. But you'll probably need to chant exactly 108 Hail Diamond Minds as you write it on your sheet in ashes.
    What book are Tibbits in? It looks like I need to go read their racial entry before I include something one way or another.
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    Default Re: [3.5] Swordsage Handbook: This one'll walk the whole Way {WIP, PEACH}

    Quote Originally Posted by Kazyan View Post
    With that -8 Strength penalty and pitiful weaponry in housecat form, you basically have to use the Diamond Mind strikes to do any damage, and then there's the part about Tiny size and reach.
    This is a good example where the image in my mind completely overrules anything about the actual rules implications.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kazyan View Post
    So you basically need to hoodwink your DM into thinking Shadow Blade replaces your strength score and that Fabulous Cats! was intended for PCs.
    You are perhaps aware that article is the cornerstone to how I equip pretty much all of my PCs?

    Quote Originally Posted by RFLS View Post
    I've added those two feats to the list of feats to talk about, and I will edit the text for Leaping Dragon to reflect what you've said. Between you and Lateral, Leaping Dragon will probably be bumped up a place or two to where it belongs.
    Just be aware that Battle Jump is very poorly worded... it turns any fall of 10' or more into a charge attack. If you have Pounce, then that becomes a full attack. This lets you turn any kind of movement that might result in a fall (short-range teleports, such as the Shadow Jaunt/Step/Blink line) into a full attack. And, well... there's a reason the thread where I first encountered this idea was called 4500 lbs of stupid.

    Quote Originally Posted by RFLS View Post
    Ah, I see it now. I'll be bumping that up to black to reflect that utility; double move without weird constraints is definitely nice.
    Black?!?! I'd say Blue, and if you have Pounce, that is definitely GOLD. (I've been trying to wait on commenting on the maneuvers section until you've finished putting them all in.)

    Quote Originally Posted by RFLS View Post
    What book are Tibbits in? It looks like I need to go read their racial entry before I include something one way or another.
    Dragon Compendium, which I mentioned in parentheses in the original post.

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