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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    SamuraiGuy

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    Default Tome of Battle: Which Class?

    So, basically, I'm looking at rolling a new character at some point in the future. I'm toying with Tome of Battle, since my DM is open to it, and it's highly touted here in the playground.

    Now, our party is low-op, as far as I can figure. So the question becomes one of two flavors:

    What roles do each initiator play in a party, and which is the most useful, per se?

    Secondly, though this will be opinion based, which can be considered the most FUN, and why?

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    Default Re: Tome of Battle: Which Class?

    In my humble opinion:

    Crusader: This is the one I enjoy the most. It's the tank, the "paladin" the dauntless weapon of a vengeful god. The basic principle of the class is: Hit me, I hit you back but harder. Hit my friend, you pay the consequences (attack penalties, provoked AoOs, etc). Run away and I'll hit you. Stand there and I'll hit you. Most of the Crusader's maneuvers relate to giving bonuses to your allies, penalties to your enemies, healing while smacking things, or just flat out sticking your sword right up inside someone's guts.

    Swordsage: The monk/rogue-esque class....I've never actually played one, so I won't comment much.

    Warblade: The Fighter/Barbarian type. A walking weapon who uses intelligence to gain an advantage over his foe. More versitile than the Crusader by a hair, with access to more disciplines, but less than a Swordsage. Most warblade maneuvers make me think of an anime swordsman, doing things like deflecting a lich's disintegration ray with his sword or pulling off a quick DBZ-style power-up and smash by using his Concentration Check to deal damage.

    Pretty watered down and overly simplistic explainations for the most part. I'm a full BAB kinda guy, so for me it usually boils down to playing a Crusader who refuses to die or a Warblade who refuses to let something live.


    EDIT: In regards to working ToB into your table, my personal advice is to go with a Crusader. The others can come off (without even trying) as a bit much at some tables and down-right unbelievable at others. With a Crusader you'll be keeping your party alive without stepping too hard any any toes (maybe on your healer's a bit, but only at early levels or in light encounters). If you focus on the maneuvers and stances (at first) that enhance your party members (giving them attack bonuses or making your enemies incable of taking AoOs) it should ease the introduction.
    Last edited by Medic!; 2012-10-29 at 01:43 AM.
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    Default Re: Tome of Battle: Which Class?

    Shameless self plug.

    But seriously, it depends on your playstyle.
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    Default Re: Tome of Battle: Which Class?

    My 1st ToB character at our table was a Crusader, and everyone was like "Oh wow that's pretty cool!" when I was giving foes penalties to attack against everyone but me, and healing 'em for a dozen to 2 dozen damage.


    First time I busted out Divine Surge some eyes popped out of their heads when I said "Hey...pass me your d8s....and yours too....AND yours...ok need a couple more d8s, gotta roll damage."
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    Default Re: Tome of Battle: Which Class?

    For the roles:

    Warblade: Fighter/Barbarian
    Crusader: Paladin
    Swordsage: Monk/rogue combination depends mostly on maneuver choice

    So two are primarily melee while the other can also do some more magical things and is actually a good guy to play as a skill monkey when the trapfinder part is allready taken.

    My preferred class is the swordsage, but it needs some feats to really kick it in. Crusader is a good second and while I enjoy the warblade, it's a third place.

    I really enjoy a small sowrdsage, with a shadowhand weapon and shadow hand stance, than combine it with shadow blade, adaptive style and you have a semi melee beast. Especially since his armor is quite good if you focus on dex and wis
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    Default Re: Tome of Battle: Which Class?

    Swordsage is probably the most appropriate in a low-op group. Not because it's weak, but because Crusader and Warblade tend to be overwhelming in those environments for hitting hard and just not going down. Swordsage is at least a little subtler in what it does.

    As far as the roles they play, they all fall into the conceptual space that the Fighter or paladin were supposed to. Crusader and Warblade are most direct - melee tanks that can defend themselves against genuinely threatening effects like spells and that can get around adverse conditions like mobile opponents or battlefield control. Swordsage waters that down slightly in favor of some scouting abilities, but it doesn't have many of the special abilities normally associated with that role (traps, tracking, etc.).

    Regarding which is the most fun, I enjoy the Warblade most. It gives the most control over what maneuvers to use when, as opposed to Crusader's random draw or Swordsage's 1/encounter (its recovery mechanic makes prepping additional uses per combat largely undesirable, even with Adaptive Style).
    Last edited by eggs; 2012-10-29 at 01:55 AM.

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    Default Re: Tome of Battle: Which Class?

    Okay, so:

    Warblades are sort of this odd cross between DPS, Tank, and Bard. They access both Diamond Mind (very high damage) and White Raven (group tactics and buffs) as well as having a lot of utility from Tiger Claw and Iron Heart. Though Warblades have no inherent method of encouraging enemies to attack them (well, outside of White Raven) they can make up for weak saves and armor class with Diamond Mind and Iron Heart. Play a Warblade if you're looking to emulate a barbarian archetype, a cunning warrior, a skilled swordmaster or a battlefield commander.

    Swordsages use the most supernatural maneuvers of any class and are very close in nature to Rogues. They know the most maneuvers and can learn from the most schools. Swordsages also get the most utility maneuvers; they can walk on walls, on water, on air, do silly things with Setting Sun, flank people without having to flank them, gain Sneak Attack and more. Swordsages are great for setting up single, devastating strikes as opposed to complex attack routines and have better personal defenses than a Warblade. If you ever wanted to play a monk, a ninja, a chi-master or supernatural serial killer, play a Swordsage.

    Crusaders take a lickin' and keep on tickin'. Their special school, Devoted Spirit, lets them heal themselves and others, smite those of other alignments and alter reality with their faith. They get a delayed-damage pool that also increases their attack and damage and have some of the only honest-to-god-tanking mechanics in the game. Crusaders are unique in that their maneuvers refresh automatically, needing no action on your part. Play a Crusader to be a paladin, a holy warrior, a tough-as-nails veteran or a demigod learning the trade.


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    Default Re: Tome of Battle: Which Class?

    How low-op are we talking about? What are the other character's classes? I love ToB, but one of the few times ToB is a bad idea is in low-op groups.

    Also, Warblade is the easiest and simplest of the three. Assuming your group can use a melee damager / meat shield, I'd go with that. You can also compare it to those low-op characters and see if its too strong or not.


    *edit*

    P.S.
    Remember to read the entire Blade Magic chapter carefully. It shouldn't be skipped. People make lots of rookie mistakes after not reading it properly. For instance: ToB characters get access to their levels of maneuvers at the same rate that wizards get access to spell levels. You don't get access to 2nd level maneuvers until level 3 and you don't get access to 3rd level maneuvers until level 5. Stances count as maneuvers for pre-reqs, etc.
    Last edited by HunterOfJello; 2012-10-29 at 03:37 AM.

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    Default Re: Tome of Battle: Which Class?

    Since what needs to be said already has been, I'll just say that my favorite is a tossup between warblade and swordsage. I usually blend the two and I'm rather fond of the Master of Nine PrC to boot, but if I absolutely had to choose one or the other I'd choose swordsage. I like the flavor and the versatility.

    For a low-op group though, a warblade or crusader focused on White Raven maneuvers is probably your best bet.
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    Default Re: Tome of Battle: Which Class?

    Homebrewiness!
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    Default Re: Tome of Battle: Which Class?

    My personal order of preference is: Warblade > Crusader > Swordsage

    But that's not to say the Swordsage was bad or anything, it's just that I prefer Full BAB on non-casters. Apart from that, SS has one of the coolest discipline of all (Shadow Hand), imho it's the one with the most useful Stances especially at low level. You get a great number of maneuvers, but the worst refresh mechanism (with Adaptive Style it's decent).
    Role: basically the SS is the Ninja done right. That's why you'll ofted read "swordsaged" below posts in this forum to denote what's a ninja edit in the rest of the internet. You can develop it more Monk-ish or more Rogue-ish or even more magicky.
    However, it can't fully replace the Rogue because it doesn't have Trapfinding, Open Lock or Disable Device. So if you want that you'll need a bit of multiclassing.

    The Crusader is pretty much the only real Tank in the entire _game_, because he can kinda "draw aggro", i.e. make enemies attack him or suck, and when they attack him they just do what he wants and make him stronger. Very cool. It doesn't have a proper capstone ability, so you don't need to feel bad if you take a few multiclass or PrC levels.
    Slight drawback is that its maneuver selection is a bit monotonous; you only have access to three disciplines and one of those is not so hot... so basically most Crusaders will look very similar.
    Replaces the Paladin and certain Fighter builds.

    Warblade, now, is simply the best melee class ever. Their only drawbacks are a lack of Heavy Armour (which you might want at low levels) and lack of ranged weapon proficiency. They have access to excellent maneuvers, allowing them to develop various effective shticks, a good refresh mechanism, and some extra candy. Also an excellent capstone that makes going Warblade 20 very viable.
    Role: Bruiser, or if you want Commander or even Battlefield Control. Not really a tank.
    Replaces the Barbarian and certain Fighter builds.

    So, the question is, what are the other characters in your party? If you already have a Rogue, rolling a Swordsage may be a bit rude. Likewise the other classes and their counterparts.
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    Default Re: Tome of Battle: Which Class?

    If you ask me, Swordsage is by far the most entertaining. Warblade and Crusader only dabble in maneuvers in comparison, and Swordsage gets access to a lot of the most interesting and diverse ones.

    In addition, I agree with some of the others, that Swordsage is probably the best one to choose in a low-op group. Warblade and Crusader are likely to just be seen as a fighter or paladin but... better. Swordsage is a bit more distinct, and their power comes less from being able to tear things apart and do crazy powerful stuff, and more from having a range of interesting options.

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    Default Re: Tome of Battle: Which Class?

    On the matter of playing ToB in a low-op group, I would just like to state that I do not think this should be a problem at all. The best way to do this is to use your maneuvers to gain a wide variety of abilities, instead of focusing on any one narrow theme. There are so many good but highly situation-dependent maneuvers and stances that you can take, that is easy to spread yourself out so that you shine a little in a lot of encounters, but aren't over-the-top in any.

    Another great way to reduce the potency of a ToB build is to multi-class a bit more in non-initiator classes. This reduces your overall initiator level (each non-initiator level counting as only 1/2 initiator level) and keeps some of the most powerful maneuvers out of reach until later levels. ToB classes are in fact very dip-friendly if you want to just introduce them that way at first.
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    Default Re: Tome of Battle: Which Class?

    Swordsage is probably the most appropriate for lower OP.
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    Default Re: Tome of Battle: Which Class?

    Warblade: Fighter, but better overall

    Swordsage: Rogue and Monk's Combat philosophy done well.

    Crusader: A Paladin, without anything that actually makes Paladins useful other then their healing. People rave about them, and just say play this, despite the fact that paladins are better in almost all situations.
    Last edited by toapat; 2012-10-29 at 09:41 AM.


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    Default Re: Tome of Battle: Which Class?

    Quote Originally Posted by toapat View Post
    Crusader: A Paladin, without anything that actually makes Paladins useful other then their healing. People rave about them, and just say play this, despite the fact that paladins are better in almost all situations.
    I disagree with Toapat's analysis.

    Paladin is alright, the only thing is has that the Crusader is a few immunities (monk style!), special mount (not always very useful, shoud be stronger imo), and spells (At a terrible CL with out OP, and not very many are useful, AND it's the worst supported list from the PhB)

    The crusader, on the other hand, is capable of making armies out of peasants. Additionally, dips are considerably more viable, it is incredibly tough, it's the only effective option for simultaneously taking the healing and melee roles.
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    Default Re: Tome of Battle: Which Class?

    Quote Originally Posted by Snowbluff View Post
    I disagree with Toapat's analysis.

    Paladin is alright, the only thing is has that the Crusader is a few immunities (monk style!), special mount (not always very useful, shoud be stronger imo), and spells (At a terrible CL with out OP, and not very many are useful, AND it's the worst supported list from the PhB)

    The crusader, on the other hand, is capable of making armies out of peasants. Additionally, dips are considerably more viable, it is incredibly tough, it's the only effective option for simultaneously taking the healing and melee roles.
    the Crusader has a higher starting floor for optimization.

    their optimization ceiling is only T4 (the standard test is in so many ways wrong about the Innitators)

    that doesnt change the fact that there are many ways to actually improve paladin well beyond where they are (High tier 5 as a result of bad attribute requirements).


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    Default Re: Tome of Battle: Which Class?

    Dark Grey Elf Factotum 3 (or 4)/Swordsage 17 (or 16) is one of my preferred assassin/scout builds. It's quite fun but the power much be a bit much if you are going really low op.
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    Default Re: Tome of Battle: Which Class?

    Paladins being better than Crusaders? Srsly? o You must have found out something that all the rest of the internet missed.

    Pallies suffer from enormous MAD, and need high Point Buys / Rolls to be even functional, let alone good. Their spellcasting may be a wee bit better than the Ranger's, but it's still a book titled "Too little, too late". Their Smite ability is limited to a handful of rolls _per day_ for an amount of extra damage any Crusader can shake up at levels 3-5 as often as he freaking wants to. Divine Might / Shield used to be awesome in 3.0, but have been nerfed to oblivion in 3.5.

    Sure, the Pally has _some_ stuff that is cooler than what Crusaders get. But not very much. In terms of staying power, damage output and party buffing, the Crusie is just superior. Add to that the whole tanking business.

    But well, you can have both, after all -- take Crusie, add 3 or 4 levels of Pally, let rise, and maybe add a nice frosting of Ruby Knight Win-dicator whenever you feel like it.
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    Default Re: Tome of Battle: Which Class?

    Quote Originally Posted by toapat View Post
    the Crusader has a higher starting floor for optimization.

    their optimization ceiling is only T4 (the standard test is in so many ways wrong about the Innitators)

    that doesnt change the fact that there are many ways to actually improve paladin well beyond where they are (High tier 5 as a result of bad attribute requirements).
    Well, they aren't only good at one thing, is the thing. Also keep in mind things like the d2 Crusader, Eternal Blades, and Idiot Crusaders representing the ceiling for Crusaders, while the best Paladin gets is 4th level spells from the Wizard's list.
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    Default Re: Tome of Battle: Which Class?

    Quote Originally Posted by Snowbluff View Post
    Well, they aren't only good at one thing.
    Combat is one thing, its a large group, but it is still only one thing. breaking barriers is still combat. Paladins do healing better because they can heal people while not beating face inside out.

    d2 crusader doesnt work (the wording of Imbued healing isnt specific enough for it)
    Idiot Crusader is really Master of the Swords. it uses all the inniators except for RKV

    the Ubercharger is a paladin build that yields a 99D12 HD dragon mount.

    Quote Originally Posted by Firechanter View Post
    Paladins being better than Crusaders? Srsly? o You must have found out something that all the rest of the internet missed.
    using Officially published material, you can run paladin off of wisdom (a Charisma version of Serenity would be way better though)

    A crusader only has white raven outside of combat (Mountain hammering Walls is still combat), paladins have healing and buffs in their spells.

    Being good at only combat is within the definition of T4. not T3. T3 is good at combat, and useful when its not time to pound face, or good no matter what.
    Last edited by toapat; 2012-10-29 at 11:15 AM.


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    Default Re: Tome of Battle: Which Class?

    Quote Originally Posted by toapat View Post
    People rave about them, and just say play this, despite the fact that paladins are better in almost all situations.
    To a certain degree, that's true about all of them. Fighter feat combos can wrack up higher damage, comparable defenses and work around AC more effectively than Warblades. Rogue/Monks can rack up silly size-stacked sneak attack damage, lay out status effects, do the usual out-of-combat lurking around and negate most attacks made against them at least as well as Swordsages. Paladins can get downright abusive with shapeshifting and spell sharing, plus rolling around in the occasional ACF upgrade.

    But on the same note, in almost every case, those optimized non-ToB classes would do little but gain by dipping into ToB - a couple Warblade levels to round out the Fighter's defenses, some Swordsage to push the Rogue/Monk's SA higher and give it even more immediate defenses, some Crusader/RKV to crank up the Paladin's endurance and support powers and to really exploit Battle Blessing to its fullest.

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    Default Re: Tome of Battle: Which Class?

    Quote Originally Posted by toapat View Post
    d2 crusader doesnt work (the wording of Imbued healing isnt specific enough for it)
    Here I agree with you. The d2 crusader doesn't work on so many levels, I find it a miracle that it's still seriously referenced. Imbued Healing or not, the Chaos Aura it's supposed to use _specifically_ says that the die has to actually, physically _show_ the max result to trigger, not "be treated as the max result".

    using Officially published material, you can run paladin off of wisdom (a Charisma version of Serenity would be way better though)
    Where can I find that? I looked up my Consolidated Lists for a Serenity feat but nothing showing.
    Personally I think the Pathfinder Paladin is a pretty good fix, getting rid of the Wis requirement and greatly improving Smite -- one of the few things that PF is doing better than 3.5.

    A crusader only has white raven outside of combat (Mountain hammering Walls is still combat), paladins have healing and buffs in their spells.

    Being good at only combat is within the definition of T4. not T3. T3 is good at combat, and useful when its not time to pound face, or good no matter what.
    And here I disagree. First off, applying Mountain Hammer outside of combat doesn't suddenly make it combat. It can just as well be puzzle-solving or dungeoneering. "A hammer is just a really heavy set of lockpicks".

    Secondly, "Combat" is not a single category in itself, but consists of several categories such as Tanking, Bruising, Controlling, Buffing("Leading"). Most Melee classes have to focus on one of these tasks to be any good at them. The Crusader (and the Warblade) can easily be great at several of them and decent in the others, _in a single build_.
    So you know, university Physics D&D 3.5 Optimization is essentially three seven years of this discussion among like-minded enthusiasts. Done with supercomputers, access to the textsplatbook collections of five continents and thirty languages with thousands of classes, prestige classes, feats and spells.
    On four hours sleep a night.
    With no sex.
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    Default Re: Tome of Battle: Which Class?

    Not to mention that Crusaders do, in point of fact, have access to a fairly sexy skill list that helps in all manner of non-combat situations.


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    Default Re: Tome of Battle: Which Class?

    If you do go the Swordsage route, make sure to take Adaptive Style as your level 1 feat. There is no other choice. Their recovery mechanic is absolutely terrible, an Adaptive Style makes it much better.
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    Default Re: Tome of Battle: Which Class?

    Quote Originally Posted by Firechanter View Post
    Where can I find that? I looked up my Consolidated Lists for a Serenity feat but nothing showing.
    Personally I think the Pathfinder Paladin is a pretty good fix, getting rid of the Wis requirement and greatly improving Smite -- one of the few things that PF is doing better than 3.5.

    And here I disagree. First off, applying Mountain Hammer outside of combat doesn't suddenly make it combat. It can just as well be puzzle-solving or dungeoneering. "A hammer is just a really heavy set of lockpicks".

    Secondly, "Combat" is not a single category in itself, but consists of several categories such as Tanking, Bruising, Controlling, Buffing("Leading"). Most Melee classes have to focus on one of these tasks to be any good at them. The Crusader (and the Warblade) can easily be great at several of them and decent in the others, _in a single build_.
    Dragon 306/Dragon Compendium (Compendium is preferable because it has no diety Prerequisites) for Serenity

    No, its not in combat, but the mechanics for busting down walls are combat mechanics.

    Combat has Subcategories, and paladin can be good at all of them (A-Game Paladin is an example of this), its just that being good at multiple in combat roles is not being useful outside of combat, which is the significant problem with saying Crusader/Warblade are Tier 3.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord_Gareth View Post
    Not to mention that Crusaders do, in point of fact, have access to a fairly sexy skill list that helps in all manner of non-combat situations.
    the Tier lists pretty often state that Skills dont matter for tiering, stupid as that may be.
    Last edited by toapat; 2012-10-29 at 11:56 AM.


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    Default Re: Tome of Battle: Which Class?

    Quote Originally Posted by toapat View Post
    Dragon 306/Dragon Compendium (Compendium is preferable because it has no diety Prerequisites) for Serenity

    No, its not in combat, but the mechanics for busting down walls are combat mechanics.

    Combat has Subcategories, and paladin can be good at all of them (A-Game Paladin is an example of this), its just that being good at multiple in combat roles is not being useful outside of combat, which is the significant problem with saying Crusader/Warblade are Tier 3.

    Well, except Paladin does 2 things. Break stuff and heal. Crusader does the same 2 things, but effectively, and then does more.
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    Default Re: Tome of Battle: Which Class?

    Quote Originally Posted by Snowbluff View Post
    Well, except Paladin does 2 things. Break stuff and heal. Crusader does the same 2 things, but effectively, and then does more.
    except that the crusader heals cant be used without pounding someone's face in. Paladins have crap healing as a base class, but it can be used outside of brutally mauling people


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    Default Re: Tome of Battle: Which Class?

    Quote Originally Posted by toapat View Post
    the Tier lists pretty often state that Skills dont matter for tiering, stupid as that may be.
    Where? Also weren't you called out on this in another thread?

    I mean admittedly, spells are better in out of combat situation, obviously cause spells are better at everything, but skills are not ignored, which is a large part of why Factotum gets placed in Tier 3 as well.

    And there is a difference between combat rules applying and in combat. If you can break down a door to escape a dangerous gas that is an out of combat situation even if using in combat mechanics. Now I don't have a good memory on all that a Crusader can do, but I bet someone else here can give out an out of combat trick or two.

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    Default Re: Tome of Battle: Which Class?

    I'm repeating what others said, but it's true. In simple terms:

    Crusader = Paladin
    Warblade = Fighter and/or Barbarian depending on build
    Swordsage = Monk with a dash of Rogue

    There is more to it than that, but you have a basis of familiarity to work with in terms of combat style.

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