Blademaster (3.5e Class)
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Think master swordsman crossed with master librarian. Think "The Librarian", but with all of Excalibur's experience at swordplay. A character with all of a Ranger's skill wilderness and survival skills, a swordmaster's bladework skills, and the knowledge of a loremaster. Sound interesting?
The essence of a blademaster is her skills. Her bladework, of course, is important, but she is not, primarily, a fighter. A blademaster is a protector, a guide, and a shield. As a combatant, she is the melee fighter who stays behind, the one who protects the healers, mages, and noncombatants while the tanks, scouts, and rogues take the fight to the enemy. Outside of battle, the blademaster functions much like a ranger/scout or bard, depending on the situation and her level. One thing a blademaster cannot do, however, is cast spells of any kind.
Making a Blademaster
Blademasters tend to be loners, although they do not avoid company. As independent arbiters of law and justice, they are seldom sought as companions. A blademaster's idea of "right" and "wrong" is not always that of, say, a paladin, and this can cause conflict within an adventuring party. Blademasters are not united in their beliefs or morality, however, and while one may overlook certain roguish behaviors, another may be highly offended. Be careful when trying to integrate a blademaster into a party - personality, motivation, and basic alignment must be well established for each character before a DM can really judge the fit.
Abilities: In order from most important to least: Dex (for speed and reflexes), Wis (for ranger/scout abilities and skills), Int (for knowledge and skill points), Str (for fighting ability), Con (can't protect if you're dead!)
Races: Any race, really, has the potential, but the most common are Humans and some half-elves (especially one variant I designed specifically to go with this class)
Alignment: Any non-evil. Blademasters tend toward 'lawful good' as a group, but any society's definition of 'lawful good' does not necessarily correspond to the same definition used by the blademaster who happens to be passing through - a universally accepted morality still hasn't permeated the world I created the the class for. Another typical alignment for blademasters is chaotic, tending toward good.
Starting Gold: 6d12x10 (420gp).
Starting Age: Complex
|1st||+1||+1||+2||+1||Track, Two-Weapon Fighting, Smatterings|
|2nd||+2||+2||+3||+1||Uncanny Dodge, Weapon Choice|
|4th||+4||+2||+4||+2||Trackless Step, Endurance|
|6th||+6/+1||+ 3||+5||+3||Hear the Unseen|
|7th||+7/+2||+3||+ 5||+4||Flawless Stride|
|8th||+8/+3||+4||+6||+4||Swift Tracker, Evasion|
|10th||+10/+5||+4||+7||+5||Lore, Improved Two-Weapon Fighting|
|11th||+11/+6/+1||+5||+7||+6||Terrain Mastery, Secret|
|15th||+15/+10/+5||+6||+9||+8||Secret, Greater Two-Weapon Fighting|
|20th||+20/+15/+10/+5||+8||+12||+10||(Planar) Terrain Mastery, Secret|
Class Skills (6 + Int modifier per level, ×6 at 1st level)
All of the following are class features of the blademaster.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: A blademaster is proficient with all simple and martial weapons, and with light armor.
Smatterings: At first level, a blademaster gains Smatterings as a bonus feat.
Track: A blademaster gains Track as a bonus feat.
Two-Weapon Fighting: At 1st level, a blademaster gains Two-Weapon Fighting as a bonus feat, even if he does not have the normal prerequisites for that feat. The benefits of this ability apply only when he wears light or no armor. He loses all benefits of his combat style when wearing medium or heavy armor.
Uncanny Dodge (Ex): Starting at 2nd level, a blademaster can react to danger before her senses would normally allow her to do so. She retains her Dexterity bonus to AC (if any) even if she is caught flat-footed or struck by an invisible attacker. However, she still loses her Dexterity bonus to AC if immobilized. If a blademaster already has uncanny dodge from a different class she automatically gains improved uncanny dodge instead.
Weapon Choice: At 2nd level, a blademaster gains either Exotic Weapon Proficiency (bastard sword) or Exotic Weapon Proficiency (two-bladed sword) as a bonus feat.
Trackless Step (Ex): Starting at 4th level, a blademaster leaves no trail in natural surroundings and cannot be tracked. She may choose to leave a trail if so desired.
Endurance: A blademaster gains Endurance as a bonus feat at 4th level.
Hear the Unseen: At 6th level, a blademaster gains Hear the Unseen as a bonus feat.
Flawless Stride (Ex): Starting at 7th level, a blademaster may move through any sort of undergrowth (such as natural thorns, briars, overgrown areas, and similar terrain) at his normal speed and without taking damage or suffering any other impairment. However, thorns, briars, and overgrown areas that are enchanted or magically manipulated to impede motion still affect him.
Swift Tracker (Ex): Beginning at 8th level, a blademaster can move at his normal speed while following tracks without taking the normal –5 penalty. He takes only a –10 penalty (instead of the normal –20) when moving at up to twice normal speed while tracking.
Evasion (Ex): At 8th level, a blademaster can avoid even magical and unusual attacks with great agility. If he makes a successful Reflex saving throw against an attack that normally deals half damage on a successful save, he instead takes no damage. Evasion can be used only if the blademaster is wearing light armor or no armor. A helpless blademaster does not gain the benefit of evasion.
Camouflage (Ex): A blademaster of 9th level or higher can use the Hide skill in any sort of natural terrain, even if the terrain doesn’t grant cover or concealment.
Lore: At 10th level, a blademaster gains the ability to know legends or information regarding various topics, just as a bard can with bardic knowledge. The blademaster adds her level and her Intelligence modifier to the lore check, which functions otherwise exactly like a bardic knowledge check.
Improved Two-Weapon Fighting (Ex): At 10th level, the blademaster is treated as having the Improved Two-Weapon Fighting feat, even if he does not have the normal prerequisites for that feat. As before, the benefits of the blademaster’s chosen style apply only when he wears light or no armor. He loses all benefits of his combat style when wearing medium or heavy armor.
Terrain Mastery: At 11th, 14th, 17th, and 20th levels, a blademaster adds a new terrain environment to their repertoire from those given below. Terrain mastery gives a blademaster a bonus on checks involving a skill useful in that terrain, or some other appropriate benefit. A blademaster also knows how to fight dangerous creatures typically found in that terrain, gaining a +1 insight bonus on attack rolls and damage rolls against creatures with that terrain mentioned in the Environment entry of their descriptions. The blademaster only gains the bonus if the creature description specifically lists the terrain type. Blademasters take their terrain mastery with them wherever they go. They retain their terrain mastery bonuses on skill checks, attack rolls, and damage rolls whether they’re actually in the relevant terrain or not.
Secret: At 11th, 15th, 18th, and 20th levels, the blademaster chooses one secret from the table below. Her level plus Intelligence modifier determines the total number of secrets she can choose. She can’t choose the same secret twice.
|Level + Int Modifier||Secret||Effect|
|11||Instant mastery||4 ranks of a skill in which the character has no ranks|
|12||Secret health||+3 hit points|
|13||Secrets of inner strength||+2 bonus on Will saves|
|14||The lore of true stamina||+2 bonus on Fortitude saves|
|15||Secret knowledge of avoidance||+2 bonus on Reflex saves|
|16||Weapon trick||+1 bonus on attack rolls|
|17||Dodge trick||+1 dodge bonus to AC|
|18||Applicable knowledge||Any one feat|
Bonus Languages: A blademaster can choose any new language at 13th and 19th level.
Greater Two-Weapon Fighting: At 15th level, a blademaster’s aptitude in two-weapon combat improves again. She is treated as having the Greater Two-Weapon Fighting feat, even if she does not have the normal prerequisites for that feat. As before, the benefits of the blademaster’s style apply only when she wears light or no armor. He loses all benefits of his combat style when wearing medium or heavy armor.
Planar Terrain Mastery: At level 20, a blademaster may choose a planar terrain rather than a fourth non-planar terrain, at the DM’s discretion. Planar terrain mastery functions just like terrain mastery, except that the blademaster can choose one of the planar categories.
Terrain Mastery Benefits
Desert: You resist effects that tire you. You are immune to fatigue, and anything that would cause you to become exhausted makes you fatigued instead. You gain a +1 insight bonus on attack and damage rolls against desert creatures.
Forest: You have a +4 competence bonus on Hide checks. You gain a +1 insight bonus on attack and damage rolls against forest creatures.
Hills: You gain a +4 competence bonus on Listen checks. You gain a +1 insight bonus on attack and damage rolls against hills creatures.
Marsh: You have a +4 competence bonus on Move Silently checks. You gain a +1 insight bonus on attack and damage rolls against marsh creatures.
Mountains: You gain a +4 competence bonus on Climb checks, or a +10- foot bonus to your climb speed if you have one. You gain a +1 insight bonus on attack and damage rolls against mountain creatures.
Plains: You have a +4 competence bonus on Spot checks. You gain a +1 insight bonus on attack and damage rolls against plains creatures.
Shifting (Planar): You instinctively anticipate shifts in the reality of the plane that bring you closer to your destination, giving you the spell-like ability to use dimension door (as the spell cast at your character level) once every 1d4 rounds. You gain a +1 insight bonus on attack and damage rolls against outsiders and elementals native to a shifting plane.
|21st||<-any improvements to class features gained at this level, including any bonus feats->|
|22nd||<-any improvements to class features gained at this level, including any bonus feats->|
|23rd||<-any improvements to class features gained at this level, including any bonus feats->|
|24th||<-any improvements to class features gained at this level, including any bonus feats->|
|25th||<-any improvements to class features gained at this level, including any bonus feats->|
|26th||<-any improvements to class features gained at this level, including any bonus feats->|
|27th||<-any improvements to class features gained at this level, including any bonus feats->|
|28th||<-any improvements to class features gained at this level, including any bonus feats->|
|29th||<-any improvements to class features gained at this level, including any bonus feats->|
|30th||<-any improvements to class features gained at this level, including any bonus feats->|
<-number of skill points-> + Int modifier skill points per level.
<-existing class feature->: <-how this class feature increases or accumulates at epic levels->
<-another existing class feature->: <-how this class feature increases or accumulates at epic levels->
Bonus Feats: The epic blademaster gains a bonus feat (selected from the list of epic blademaster bonus feats) every <-number of feats per level-> levels after 20th.
Epic Blademaster Bonus Feat List: <-list of bonus epic feats->.
Half-Elf Blademaster Starting Package
Weapons: <-Weapon selection for starting at 1st level with this class.->.
Skill Selection: Pick a number of skills equal to 6 + Int modifier.
|<-Skill name->||<-4 for class skills and 2 for cross-class skills->||<-Abbreviated key ability->||<-armor check penalty based on starting armor. If inapplicable put "—"->|
|<-Skill name->||<-4 for class skills and 2 for cross-class skills->||<-Abbreviated key ability->|| <-armor check penalty based on starting armor. If inapplicable put "—"->
<-copy and paste the rows as necessary.->
Feat: <-1st-level feat selection->.
Bonus Feats: <-1st-level feat bonus feats due to class or sample race. remove this section if this sample doesn't get any bonus feats at 1st level. ->.
Gear: <-Starting armor and other equipment outside of weapons.->.
Gold: <-Starting gold using this package.->.
Playing a Blademaster
Religion: As a group, blademasters don't practice any one religion more than any other. Many are nature-worshipers or agnostic. Individually, a blademaster can follow any religion she chooses, or none at all.
Other Classes: Often seen as vigilantes by law enforcement, blademasters can coexist fairly easily with any non-evil class. Generally open-minded about others' ways of living, it is most often a party member's personal quirks and habits that cause problems for a blademaster, rather than any class-based generalization. Blademasters can be very focused on their own task, but never to the exclusion of current events - if she sees or hears of an injustice, she will move heaven and earth to correct it, even at the expense of everything else. It is what she has trained for.
Combat: A blademaster is neither a 'tank', like a paladin or barbarian, nor a general meleeist, like a fighter, nor is she an opportunist like a rogue or scout. She is best used as a reserve fighter, waiting behind with the healer and mages. When opponents get past the other melee fighters, however, a blademaster is ready to defend both herself and those, like spellcasters, who are more fragile and easier to kill.
Advancement: My original character concept didn't include additional classes, so I haven't really thought about it. Someone should really play-test what I have first, before thinking about things like multiclassing and epic levels.
Blademasters in the World
|“||<-Some quote from a character of this class->||”|
|—<-NPC name->, <-race-> <-class->|
<-Where characters of this class fit in a d20 world.->
Daily Life: <-day in the life of a character of this class->.
Notables: None. Whenever one starts to become well-known, she finds a way to fade from public view. Blademasters work hard to maintain their individual anonymity, although they are recognized everywhere by their profession.
Organizations: <-info on what, where, when, and how characters of this class congregate and assemble->.
NPC Reactions: <-How NPCs react to PCs of this class->.
Characters with ranks in <-the appropriate skills-> can research <-pluralized class name-> to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.
|10||<-not so common knowledge->.|
|20||<-very rare information->.|
Blademasters in the Game
<-How characters of this class fit in the game (PC and NPC) and what roles they play.->
Adaptation: <-Possible variant conceptions of this class.->.
Sample Encounter: <-DM placement for NPCs of this class.->.
EL : <-Encounter scenario and character info on sample NPC including stat block. The CR of the NPC is typically the same as the EL for the encounter.->.