Swordmaster (3.5e Class)
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One who gets up and close with a blade without being seen, strikes with pinpoint accuracy and deadly power. Their specialty is the ability to catch enemies flatfooted to get an easy critical with deadly power.
Making a Swordmaster
Abilities: A Swordmaster needs a high Dexterity to excel with his class skills and Weapon Finesse. Strength and Constitution boost his damage and health which are both important for a front line fighter. Intelligence can increase one's analytic capabilities in the midst of combat, which is particularly acute in a Swordmaster with this training. Charisma and Wisdom not needed as much.
Races: Swordmasters tend to be Humans, Elves, and Half Elves due to the extreme need of finesse and dexterity. Dwarves can be swordmasters though they are less common and tend to lean more toward fighters or other less dexterous classes. Other races and savage races are even fewer and almost unheard of.
Starting Gold: 4d4 X10 (100gp average)
Starting Age: Moderate.
|1st||+1||+0||+2||+0||Sword prowess +2, Combat Expert|
|2nd||+2||+0||+3||+0||Iaido, Dexterous Defense|
|3rd||+3||+1||+3||+1||Double Up, Swordmaster's Critical(Strong), Weapon Finesse|
|4th||+4||+1||+4||+1||Sword Prowess +4, Uncanny Dodge|
|5th||+5||+1||+4||+1||Evasion, Insightful Strike|
|6th||+6/1||+2||+5||+2||Fast Movement, Afterimage|
|7th||+7/2||+2||+5||+2||Enable Criticals (1st)|
|8th||+8/3||+3||+6||+3||Sword Prowess +6, Improved Weapon Finesse|
|9th||+9/4||+3||+6||+3||Swordmaster's Critical(Deadly), Improved Uncanny Dodge|
|10th||+10/5||+3||+7||+3||Deflect Arrows, Improved Evasion, Swordmaster's Combat +2|
|12th||+12/7/2||+4||+8||+4||Faster Movement, Sword Prowess +8|
|13th||+13/8/3||+4||+8||+4||Enable Criticals (2nd)|
|15th||+15/10/5||+5||+9||+5||Enable Criticals (3rd) , Swordmaster's Combat +4|
|16th||+16/11/6/1||+5||+10||+5||Sword Prowess +10, Swordmaster's Critical(Insane)|
|17th||+17/12/7/2||+5||+10||+5||Enable Criticals (4th)|
|18th||+18/13/8/3||+6||+11||+6||Unknown Movement, Fastest Movement|
|19th||+19/14/9/4||+6||+11||+6||Swordmaster's Critical(Boundless), Enable Criticals (5th)|
|20th||+20/15/10/5||+6||+12||+6||Sword Prowess+12, Swordmaster's Combat +6|
Class Skills (6 + Int modifier per level, ×4 at 1st level)
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Swordmasters are proficient with all one-handed simple and martial weapons, and are also proficient with any weapon with the descriptor "sword" in it (Rapiers, Katanas, Scimitars, and Falchions also count as "swords". Swordmasters are proficient with only light armor and no shields.
Sword Prowess: As a Swordmaster improves her swordsmanship, she gains a bonus to her attack when using swords. At 1st level a Swordmaster gains a bonus to her attack rolls and damage when using any weapon with the descriptor 'Sword' in it (This bonus is applicable to Rapiers, Katanas, Scimitars, and Falchions). Bonuses start with a +2 at 1st level, and continue up to a +12 at 20th level increasing by 2 at levels 4, 8, 12, and 16
Combat Expert: A Swordmaster is considered a Fighter of equal level when attempting to meet the prerequisites for feats such as Weapon Specialization.
Swordmaster Bonus Feat: Starting at first level, and every even level after (Ex. Level 1,2,4,6...) the Swordmaster gains a Bonus feat from the Fighter Bonus feat list. Some Dungeon Masters may consider this too powerful, in combination with the Swordmaster's other abilities. If your DM is not willing to accept this class, you could offer to drop these (Or to reduce Dexterous Defense, see below). You still keep your normal feat selections at 1, 3, 6, etc., and in most cases that should be enough. If you need more, then consider other options.
Iaido: A Swordmaster draws their weapon with a powerful swing catching the enemy off guard. A Swordmaster of 2nd level may use this technique as part of a single attack and requires that the Swordmaster draw her weapon as part of the attack. The opponent is flat-footed against this attack. If the attack hit the enemy, it deals an extra 1d6 points of damage / Swordmaster level (critical hits made as part of this technique have their critical multiplier increased by one). This technique is usable only when the Swordmaster's weapon is sheathed. When the character uses this ability, they are treated as if having the Quick Draw feat.Also all damage made by this move stacks with the base damage and is multiplied as so when doing a critical.
Dexterous Defense (Ex): A Swordmaster at 2nd level is a natural at dodging and parrying attacks. A Swordmaster must be wearing light or no armor and only wielding a "sword" in one hand. She may not have anything in her off hand. When she uses this ability,she may add twice her dexterity modifier to AC as a dodge bonus. (Example: a character with a dexterity modifier of +2 would receive a +4 dodge bonus to her AC and on reflex saves.) A Swordmaster loses this bonus disappears if in any circumstance she would be denied her Dexterity bonus on her AC and reflex saves.
Double Up: A swordmaster at 3rd level becomes fully proficient with her non-dominate arm.(She must have weapon in her off hand) This ability grants double damage,adding strength mod and dex, doubled.(Ex:2(Damage*2+dex*2+str*2)). Upon activating she loses -4 AC until nect turn. This ability can only be used once per turn.
Weapon Finesse: A Swordmaster is naturally agile with specific weapons. At 3rd level the Swordmaster gains the weapon finesse ability with any light weapon, rapiers, whips, spiked chains, and one-handed swords. Weapon finesse allows a Swordmaster to use her Dexterity modifier instead of her Strength modifier on attack rolls.
Swordmaster Critical (Ex): Being experts of swordsmanship, a Swordmaster has a extensive knowledge of weak spots on enemies. A Swordmaster only gains these bonuses in Light or No Armor.
At 3rd level, a Swordmaster gains "Strong Critical", making the critical damage multiplier increase by 1x (Ex. 2x->3x) and increasing the chance of a critical by 1 (20 -> 19-20, etc).
At 9th level, a Swordmaster gains "Deadly Critical", further increasing the bonus by another 1x (Ex. 3x->4x) and by increasing the chance of a critical by 1 (20 -> 18-20, etc). Also at 9th level, this increased chance of a critical stacks with the feat Improved Critical.
At 16th level, a Swordmaster gains "Insane Critical", again increasing the multiplier by 1x (Ex. 4x->5x) and by increasing the chance of a critical by 1(20->17-20).
At 19th level, a Swordmaster gains "Boundless Critical", increasing the multiplier of the critical by x2 (Ex. 5x-7x) and the chance of a critical by 2(20-> 15-20, etc). At this point a Swordmaster's critical is truly boundless.
Uncanny Dodge: Starting at 4th level a Swordmaster 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 Swordmaster already has Uncanny Dodge from a different class she automatically gains Improved Uncanny Dodge instead.
Evasion (Ex): At 5th level, a Swordmaster gains evasion as the monk class feature, except that it still functions when she wears light armor.
Insightful Strike (Ex): A Swordmaster's knowledge of combat is so great, she can perform complex combat maneuvers that increase her damage. At 5th level a Swordmaster may add her Intelligence Modifier X2 as an Insight bonus to any damage dealt with a light weapon, or with any weapon to which the Weapon Finesse feat has been applied. This bonus does not take effect against creatures that are immune to Critical hits and can only be performed when wearing light or no armor and carrying a light load.
Fast Movement: Starting at 6th level, a Sword master's land movement speed increases by 10ft. (Ex 30->40). At 12th Level the movement speed bonus becomes faster and is increased additional 20ft. (40->60). At 18th level, the Swordmaster's speed rivals that of a monk and increased by 30ft. (60->90).
Afterimage: At 6th level, the Swordmaster gains afterimage. After moving at least 15ft, opponents within 25ft must pass a will save of DC15+ the swordmaster's level, or be caught flat-footed. Enemies that fail the save also do not get an attack of opportunity against the swordmaster. At 12th level, the range is increased to 50ft.
Enable Criticals: Through extensive knowledge and training, a Swordmaster has learned of weak spots in creatures thought to have none. At 7th, 13th, 15th, 17th, and 19th levels, a Swordmaster must choose one type of creature that is normally immune to critical hits (construct, elemental, ooze, plant, undead). The Swordmaster becomes so proficient with dealing with that creature she can pinpoint weak spots and score critical hits against that type of creature.
Improved Weapon Finesse: At 8th Level, a Swordmaster may add her Dex mod score along with her Str mod to her attack rolls. A Swordmaster may also apply Weapon Finesse to Longswords, Falchions, Greatswords, and her current Swordmastery weapon. Under Dungeon Master's discretion, other weapons may be added to this list. A Swordmaster must still be wearing Light or No armor to have access to this class feature.
Improved Uncanny Dodge: A swordmaster of 9th level or higher can no longer be flanked. This defense denies rogues the ability to sneak attack the character by flanking her, unless the attacker has at least four more rogue levels than the target does. If a character already has improved uncanny dodge from a second class, the character's levels from the classes that grant uncanny dodge stack to determine the minimum rogue level required to flank the character.
Deflect Projectiles: Because the swordmaster has devoted her life to melee sword combat at 10th level, a Swordmaster gains the benefit of the Deflect Projectiles feat even while wielding 2 swords.
Improved Evasion (Ex): At 10th level, a Swordmaster gains improved evasion as the monk class feature, except that it still functions when she wears light armor.
Swordmaster's Combat: After training and fighting for so long a Swordmaster's body has become more honed to the challenges and trials of combat.
At 10th the Swordmaster gains a +2 permanent increase to Str and Con or Dex and Int.
At lvl 15 She can either choose to increase that permanent increase to +4 or she can allocate +2 to the other 2 stats.
At level 20 if she choose to increase from +2 to +4 at lvl 15 she must increase that stat to +6 otherwise she may choose which set of stats she wants to increase.
Deft Cut (Ex): A Swordsmaster of 14th level has honed her skill and accuracy with a blade so much that she adds her dexterity modifier x2 when attacking with any kind of swordlike weapon.
Unknown movement (Ex): At level 18, a Swordmaster is practically undetectable in her steps. A Swordmaster can't be detected by blindsense, darksense, low-lightvision unless by a successful spot check DC 20+ Swordmaster's Level + Swordmaster's Dex modifier. A Swordmaster leaves no tracks.
Invisible After Image (Ex): The movement of a Swordmaster is undetectable under any circumstances when moving, when she moves all attacks on enemies are consider touch attacks. She gets +10 on all attack rolls directly after moving and all attacks directly after moving are criticals.
Note: If the swordmaster has the Spring Attack feat, the bonuses and criticals apply to any attacks during movement also.
Human Swordmaster Starting Package
Armor: Studded Leather (+3 AC, Armor check penalty -1, speed 30ft, 20lb)
Weapons: Longsword (1d8, crit 19-20/x2, 4lb, one-handed, slashing).
Skill Selection: Pick a number of skills equal to 4 + Int modifier.
Feat: Dexterous Dodge, Improved Initiative (Human Bonus Feat)
Bonus Feats: If Dex is 14 or above, Combat Reflexes. If Dex is 13 or below, Power-Attack
Gear: Backpack with Waterskin, one day's trail rations, bedroll, sack, flint and steel, Gladiator's pass to local Gladiatorial Arena.
Playing a Swordmaster
Religion: Swordmasters generally worship the god of war, believing that they owe their speed to him/her. Others worship the gods of travel or adventuring, while some worship gods of law, chaos, good, or evil. They are varied in their beliefs and often pay homage to other gods besides their patron.
Other Classes: Swordmasters choose one of two ways. One, the way of the loner. Traveling and adventuring by herself, and, if it is absolutely needed, becomes the silent companion to an adventuring group; quiet and aloof in the background while traveling, but up front and personal in a fight. Two, the constant battle enthusiast. Always looking for a good fight to test her skills, this Swordmaster welcomes all who join her in her "quest to best the best." Other classes rarely differentiate the Swordmaster from a common fighter until they "speed things up", in which case they may garner a new found respect, or perhaps jealousy, fear, and/or hatred. Then again, in a land so full of magic, some may just think them a sword wielding wizard with a good haste spell at the ready.
Combat: The swordmaster is an up front fighter/support fighter. Not so much as someone who sits there and takes the damage, but as one who comes up quickly and drops the enemy before any real damage is taken. The excel at surprising the enemy from the shadows, or using their speed to really put the enemy off gaurd.
Advancement: Swordmasters often multiclass as rogues, adding the rogues sneak attack to their ability to catch their foes flat footed so often with their speed and stealth. Fighter is also a good multiclass route, adding extra specialization to their already specialized fighting style. Epic Swordmasters, should they just not want to continue on up in the same class, may look into the unstoppable power of the Legendary Dreadnaught.
Swordmasters in the World
<-Where characters of this class fit in a d20 world.->
Daily Life:(Coming Soon! I swear it!)
Notables: Karel the Sword-Saint/Sword-Demon. To date, he has been known as the only Swordmaster to have mastered his swordmanship to such a state, that he can blend in with his surroundings as he strikes; being nigh invisible to even some of the most trained eyes. Rumor has it, that in his youth he was a rampant Swordmaster who lived to kill, and that he had killed a whole army by himself. During this phase of his life, he was referred to as Karel the "Sword-Demon" Later on in life, he had realized the mistakes of his youth and had set out to atone for what he had done. Through travel through the lands and helping people, instead of hurting them, he slowly built up a reputation as a "Quickbladed Savior"; someone who always seemed to appear in the right place, at the right time in order to ward of the bandits that had staked themselves around down or kill the trolls that had kidnapped the children. Slowly, and over time, his reputation grew into legend and he became renowned around the world as Karel the Swordsaint; Thee one, true Swordmaster that all Swordmasters try to surpass. Too this day, it is said that, because he walked both the path of sinner and savior, his spirit did not move onto the next plane when he died; but, he ascended and became a minor deity of the wind, thus completing his Sainthood.
NPC Reactions: Most NPCs have a hard time telling the difference between a Swordmaster and a Fighter at first glance. Because of this, the common reaction tends to be to treat them the same or fairly similar. However, if an NPC happens to witness a Swordmaster fight, the reaction can be anywhere from fear and awe, to respect and admiration; do to how quickly the Swordmaster moves and his ability to leave afterimages that confuse the opponent.
Characters with ranks in Knowledge: Local can research Swordmasters to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.
<-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 whatever: <-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.->.
((DM Notes: Dextrous Defense: An alternative to this would be to simply add Dex as a Dodge bonus, instead of 2xDex. It is quite possible to start with 20 Dex, and that ends up with a minimum AC of 25 at level 2, when this is received. Even this ability reduced as such would be a strong feature of the class when saves aren't commonly made. It may be taken out entirely, if the DM requires that it be so - though, that may not be fitting for the character idea. The most important thing to remember is that the DM makes the final decision.
Bonus Feats: They're not listed on the table because it was cluttered, but they're still an active feature. Some Dungeon Masters may consider this too powerful, in combination with the Swordmaster's other abilities. If your DM is not willing to accept this class, you could offer to drop these (Or to reduce Dexterous Defense, see below). You still keep your normal feat selections at 1, 3, 6, etc., and in most cases that should be enough. If you need more, then consider other options.