Master Swordsman (3.5e Class)
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Master swordsmen are warriors who train with the sword from a young age in order to master a graceful and deadly form of combat.
|“||I am not here to teach you swordplay. Play is for children. Instead, I will teach you the art of the sword. It is rather similar to sculpting, save that you will substitute flesh for clay.||”|
|—Cortac Taersis, veteran instructor of Abeiril Martial Academy, giving the entirety of his welcoming speech to the new batch of cadets.|
Adventure: Master swordsmen venture forth for a variety of reasons. Some seek wealth, others seek fame, and still others quest for the sake of some guiding principle. However, they all have in common a desire to meet and do battle with worthy foes, testing their skills against equals or betters in order to learn their own limits.
Characteristics: Master swordsmen tend to be relaxed when not in battle, but are prone to speaking very little, seeking the quickest and most direct way to express their thoughts. The average master swordsman is extremely analytical and not very trusting, sizing up potential adversaries by reflex, and making sure he can reach his blade at all times. Master swordsmen value skill at arms, and usually show a great deal of respect to anyone able to match or best them in single combat.
Alignment: Master swordsmen can be of any alignment. The good ones take their skills across the lands, hunting evil to destroy or seeking towns to protect. Evil master swordsmen also seek strong opponents, and inevitably leave behind the corpses of those who do not measure up.
Religion: Master swordsmen prefer to rely on their own ability on the field of battle, rather than placing their faith in a deity, but the more religious tend to venerate deities whose portfolios include death, strength, or war.
Races: Humans, elves, and orcs (or any combination thereof) tend to make up the majority of master swordsmen, owing to their appreciation of a combat art that is simple and reliable. Elves favor the class for its emphasis on graceful, efficient movements, whereas orcs value the class for its dedication to effective killing and domination in combat.
Other Classes: Master swordsmen get along well with the more martial-minded classes. They admire the fighter's prowess and breadth of skill in the use of different weaponry, the ranger's hunting and tracking abilities, and the paladin's devotion to his cause. Many master swordsmen consider barbarians to be artless brutes, like giant infants throwing temper tantrums in the middle of a battle, but they recognize these tantrums as extremely effective and respect the power that comes from them. Master swordsmen also get along well with rogues and monks, admiring the versatility of the former and the devotion to discipline and combat in the latter. Master swordsmen recognize the spellcasting classes as necessary, but tend to doubt the courage of members of such classes until they see it proved.
Role: The master swordsman is well-suited to close-combat, able to kill enemies directly, or debilitate them to make them easier to deal with for the less able combatants that they fight alongside.
Game Rule Information
Master swordsmen have the following game statistics:
Abilities: Strength, Dexterity, and Intelligence are the primary ability scores needed for success as a master swordsman
Starting Age: Simple
Starting Gold: 5d4
|1st||+1||+0||+2||+0||Dexterous Defense, Blade Technique, Versatile Sword|
|3rd||+3||+1||+3||+1||Keen Mind, Blade Technique|
|4th||+4||+1||+4||+1||Deft Cut, Principle of Combat|
|6th||+6/+1||+2||+5||+2||Elegant Parry +1|
|7th||+7/+2||+2||+5||+2||Interposing Blade +1, Blade Technique|
|8th||+8/+3||+2||+6||+2||Eager +2, Principle of Combat|
|9th||+9/+4||+3||+6||+3||Improved Footwork, Blade Technique|
|10th||+10/+5||+3||+7||+3||Improved Evasion, Masterful Parry|
|12th||+12/+7/+2||+4||+8||+4||Elegant Parry +2, Principle of Combat|
|13th||+13/+8/+3||+4||+8||+4||Blade Technique, Die by the Sword|
|14th||+14/+9/+4||+4||+9||+4||Greater Footwork, Interposing Blade +2|
|15th||+15/+10/+5||+5||+9||+5||Blade Technique, Riposte|
|16th||+16/+11/+6/+1||+5||+10||+5||Eager +4, Principle of Combat|
|18th||+18/+13/+8/+3||+6||+11||+6||Elegant Parry +3|
|20th||+20/+15/+10/+5||+6||+12||+6||True Clarity, Principle of Combat|
Class Skills (2 + Int modifier per level; ×4 at 1st level)
All of the following are class features of the master swordsman:
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: A master swordsman is proficient with all simple and martial weapons and with light armor. Many of the abilities of the master swordsman require the user to be wielding a sword, which means either a short sword, long sword, or bastard sword.
Dexterous Defense (Ex): When a master swordsman is wearing light or no armor and wielding a sword in one hand and nothing in the other hand, he may add twice his dexterity modifier to AC as a dodge bonus. (Example: a character with a dexterity modifier of +2 would receive a +4 dodge bonus to his AC. This amounts to the character having a 16 AC without any armor) This bonus disappears if in any circumstance where the swordsman would be denied his Dexterity bonus to AC.
Blade Technique (Ex): At 1st level and every odd-numbered level, a master swordsman learns a blade technique chosen from the list below. Once a blade technique is chosen, it may not be changed later. Blade techniques can only be used by swordsmen wielding a sword in one hand and nothing in the other and wearing light or no armor. The list of blade techniques is listed below, along with how often they may be used and what kind of action they require to be used. A blade technique that is used as part of an attack may be used in conjunction with a full-attack, but its benefits will only be applied to the first attack. Multiple blade techniques may not be used as part of the same action. A use of a blade technique that involves an attack or full-attack is expended regardless of the success of the attack roll.
Blade Lock: This technique is usable as a swift action after making a full-attack on an opponent wielding a melee weapon. You lock weapons with your opponent, defending yourself more with brute strength than agility. This allows you to add your Strength modifier to AC, but you may only add half your Dexterity bonus to AC for as long as this technique persists. This technique’s benefits are cancelled if you and your opponent separate by a distance of more than 5 feet for more than one round. This technique is usable 3 times per day.
Sweeping Cut: This technique is usable as part of a single attack and allows you to attack any two opponents that are adjacent to your target and within your reach, but all of these attacks add half the normal Strength bonus to damage. This technique is usable 3 times per day
Atom Edge: This technique is usable as part of a single attack and allows you to ignore a number of points of damage reduction or hardness equal to one-half your level plus your Intelligence bonus. This technique may be used a number of times per day equal to your Intelligence bonus.
Crush Slash: This technique is usable as part of a single attack and allows you to make a bull-rush attempt after your attack strikes. If you succeed on your opposed Strength check, you need not move with your target, he is instead forced back by the force of your strike. This technique may be used a number of times per day equal to your Strength modifier.
Cleaving Throw: This technique is usable as part of a single attack that brings a foe to negative hit points (it is declared to be used after dealing the needed damage) and allows you to hurl your dying opponent 15 feet outwards in a line. If your dying opponent strikes anyone, the struck target must make a Reflex save (DC=10+half your class level + your Str bonus) or be knocked prone. If it succeeds, the movement of the body is arrested and the target is not knocked prone. This technique is usable a number of times per day equal to your Strength modifier.
Iaido: This technique is usable as part of a single attack and requires that you draw your weapon as part of the attack. The opponent is flat-footed against this attack, and if it lands, it deals an extra 2d10 points of damage (critical hits made as part of this technique have their critical multiplier increased by one). This technique is usable 3 times per day.
Cage of Blades: This technique is usable as part of a full-attack. After the full-attack is done, the target must make a Reflex save (DC=10+half your class level + your Int bonus) or be immobilized for one round. This technique is usable a number of times per day equal to your Intelligence modifier.
Parry: This technique is usable as an immediate action upon being attacked in melee. Instead of making your AC, your opponent is forced to make an opposed attack roll with you. If his roll is higher, he hits, but if his roll is lower, he misses. This technique can be used 3 times per day.
Momentum Slash: This technique is usable as part of a full-attack and allows you to deal 2 points of extra damage per successive hit in the full-attack. This technique is usable a number of times per day equal to your Constitution bonus.
Power Break: This technique is useable as part of a single attack and allows you to force your opponent to make a Fortitude save (DC=10+half your class level + your Str bonus) in addition to taking damage. If the target fails this saving throw, it has a -4 penalty imposed on its Strength score for 5 rounds. Multiple uses of this ability do not stack. This technique is usable a number of times per day equal to your Intelligence modifier.
Speed Break: This technique is useable as part of a single attack and allows you to force your opponent to make a Fortitude save (DC=10+half your class level + your Str bonus) in addition to taking damage. If the target fails this saving throw, it has its movement speeds cut in half for 5 rounds and cannot charge or run for the duration of the effect. Multiple uses of this ability do not stack. This technique is usable a number of times per day equal to your Intelligence modifier.
Armor Break: This technique is usable as part of a single attack and allows you to force your opponent to make a Reflex save (DC=10+half your class level + your Str bonus) in addition to taking damage. If the target fails the saving throw, he only adds half of his armor bonus to his AC for the rest of the encounter (this includes enhancement bonus). This technique is usable twice per day.
Mind Break: This technique is usable as part of a single attack and allows you to force your opponent to make a Will save (DC=10+half your class level + your Str bonus) in addition to taking damage. If the target fails the saving throw, he is dazed for one round and shaken for the next 4 rounds. This technique is usable a number of times per day equal to your Intelligence modifier.
Violent Disarm: This technique is usable as part of a disarm attempt and allows you to throw the successfully disarmed weapon 30 feet with a ranged attack, dealing the weapon’s normal damage plus your Strength bonus. This technique is usable a number of times per day equal to your Intelligence modifier.
Ruthless Cut: This technique is usable as part of a single attack and allows you to resolve a single melee attack as a melee touch attack. This technique can be used once per day.
Weapon Bind: This feat is useable as part of a single attack and forces the enemy to make an opposed Strength check with you in order to move away from you or make attacks of opportunity.
Versatile Sword(Ex): A master swordsman may use long swords, short swords, and bastard swords to deal either piercing or slashing damage at his option.
Footwork (Ex): A swordsman of 2nd level knows the importance of good footwork and trains tirelessly to keep himself at his peak. This ability allows a swordsman to add half of his class level to all Balance, Jump, and Tumble checks.
Evasion (Ex): At 2nd level, a swordsman gains evasion as the monk class feature, except that it still functions when the swordsman wears light armor.
Keen Mind (Ex): A swordsman of 3rd level has trained his perceptions to see through illusions and attempts at mind-control, allowing him to add his Intelligence modifier to saves made against illusion and enchantment effects.
Deft Cut (Ex): A swordsman of 4th level has honed his skill and accuracy with a blade so much that he adds his Dex modifier to damage (in addition to Strength) when attacking with a single slashing one-handed or light weapon.
Principle of Combat (Ex): At 4th level, a swordsman may select a single principle of combat to focus on, gaining passive abilities associated with that principle. Every 4 levels after 4th, he may select a new principle (or the advanced version of a principle he has already selected), but once a principle is selected, it can never be changed. The principles and their effects are listed below, but they can only be used with the same constraints as canny defense.
Defense: This principle lets the swordsman sacrifice combat potency for increased defense, granting him Combat Expertise as a bonus feat. The advanced form of this principle allows a swordsman to add double his duelist’s grace bonus to AC when fighting defensively or using the total defense action.
Speed: This principle allows the swordsman to react quickly, granting him Combat Reflexes as a bonus feat. The advanced form of this principle allows a swordsman to make a single extra attack at his highest base attack bonus when making a full-attack, but all the attacks that he makes in a round that he does this suffer a -2 penalty to their attack roll.
Power: This principle allows a swordsman to make the most of his own strength, granting him the Power Attack feat as a bonus feat. The advanced form of this feat allows the swordsman to trade his accuracy more efficiently when wielding a one-handed weapon in one hand and nothing in the other, granting him a +3 bonus to damage rolls for every -2 penalty on the attack roll.
Tactics: This principle teaches the importance of using different tactics in battle, granting a swordsman Improved Bull-Rush, Improved Trip, or Improved Disarm as a bonus feat. The advanced form of this principle lets the swordsman select another one of these feats as a bonus feat.
Resilience: This principle grants a swordsman Great Fortitude as a bonus feat. The advanced form of this principle grants a swordsman a +4 bonus to resist being tripped, bull-rushed, or grappled.
Elegant Parry (Ex): At 6th level, a master swordsman can designate a single opponent and gain a +1 shield bonus against that creature. He may change the subject of his elegant parry once per round as a free action. At 12th level and every 6 levels after, the shield bonus provided by this ability increases by one.
Interposing Blade (Ex): A swordsman of level 7 continuously moves his blade in fast arcs, careful to avoid striking his comrades, and sometimes intercepting a blow meant for them with his blade. This grants any ally that is adjacent to a swordsman wielding a sword in one hand and nothing in the other a +1 shield bonus against all attacks made by opponents that also threaten the swordsman. This shield bonus increases to +2 at 14th level.
Eager (Ex): At 8th level, a swordsman’s ceaseless training to be ready for battle at any time begins to pay off, granting him a +2 bonus on Initiative checks and damage rolls made in the first round of combat. At 16th level, this bonus improves to +4.
Improved Footwork (Ex): At 9th level, the focus with which the swordsman has studied footwork pays off again, granting him the ability to make all Jump checks as if he had a running start and granting him a +10 increase in land speed.
Masterful Parry (Ex): At 10th level, whenever a melee attack would make the swordsman’s regular AC but is negated because of the bonus provided by the elegant parry class feature, the attacker takes a -2 penalty to all attack rolls until the start of his next turn, as he is knocked slightly off balance by the sweeping nature of the swordsman’s blade movements.
Improved Evasion (Ex): At 10th level, a swordsman gains improved evasion as the monk class feature, except that it still functions when the swordsman wears light armor.
Die by the Sword (Ex): A master swordsman of 13th level has learned to focus his disdain for magical combat in such a way that, twice per day, he may add his class level to any saving throw made to resist an effect that would instantly kill him (though not an attack that would kill him because of hit point loss from minimum damage).
Greater Footwork (Ex): At 14th level, a master swordsman refines his control of footwork again, granting him the ability to take 10 on all Balance checks. He also gains the ability to cut the DC of a high Jump check in half a number of times per day equal to his Constitution bonus.
Riposte (Ex): Whenever a swordsman of 15th level has his masterful parry class feature activated by the attack of an enemy, he may immediately make an attack of opportunity against that opponent. This does not count against his normal limit of attacks of opportunity per round.
True Clarity (Sp): At 20th level, once per day a master swordsman may, as a swift action, add a +10 competence bonus to his AC, attack and damage rolls, skill and ability checks, and saving throws for one round.