Arcane Blade (3.5e Class)
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The arcane blade is a hybrid arcane-combat class that uses its mental power to enhance its damage output in combat. Primarily acting as a high damage fighter in combat, they can nevertheless fulfill many of the roles of a wizard outside of combat.
Making an Arcane Blade
While the arcane blade has spellcasting ability, they are not suited to the pure spellcasting role of a wizard or sorcerer, or even the support spellcasting of a bard. Instead, they use use their magic almost completely to enhance their ability to deal damage in melee combat, while maintaining a small selection of utility spells for use in and outside of combat. However, the lack the toughness of a dedicated frontline combatant like a fighter, paladin, or barbarian, and in combat fulfill a role more similar to a melee ranger or rogue. They can dish out large amounts of damage for a couple of rounds, but need to avoid being hit and have only a limited number of spell slots with which to deal extra damage. They have the hit points to take a moderate amount of damage, but if their concentration is broken their damage potential drops off. As such,they work best with other melee characters such as paladins and barbarians which can be in the center of the fight while the arcane blade focuses on dealing with priority targets. They can also benefit from the support and healing abilities of classes like clerics and bards.
Abilities: As a melee combatant, Strength and Constitution are both important, for their ability to deal damage and survivability, respectively. Intelligence is important as well, as it defines their spell-casting ability and is used for many class features. Dexterity can be useful as well, both defensively and if the Arcane Blade uses weapons which benefit from the Weapon Finesse feat.
Races: Humans commonly become arcane blades due to their propensity to their innate adaptability. Elves seeking some combat ability will also become an arcane blade, as it leverages their natural aptitude for magic directly into combat. A surprising but still small number of dwarves become arcane blades as it allows them to explore magic in a way more excepted by their people. Gnomes , halflings and half-orcs rarely become arcane blades, as they rarely go through the necessary martial schooling. Half elves would be well suited to become arcane blades, but as they generally are viewed with suspicion by their homeland they are often refused entry into state-funded academies.
Alignment: Any, though due to their frequent origin as members of armies, the majority are lawful, or were when they adopted this class.
Starting Gold: 5d4x10;125 gp
Starting Age: Moderate
|Saving Throws||Special||Spells per Day|
|1st||+1||+2||+0||+2||Armored Caster 10%, Arcane Strike||2||0||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|5th||+5||+4||+1||+4||Armored Caster 15%||4||2||1||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|6th||+6/+1||+5||+2||+5||Free Arcane Strike||4||3||1||0||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|9th||+9/+4||+6||+3||+6||Armored Caster 20%||4||3||3||1||0||—||—||—||—||—|
|13th||+13/+8/+3||+8||+4||+8||Armored Caster 25%||4||4||4||3||2||0||—||—||—||—|
|15th||+15/+10/+5||+9||+5||+9||Greater Blade Penetration||4||4||4||3||3||1||0||—||—||—|
|17th||+17/+12/+7/+2||+10||+5||+10||Armored Caster 30%||4||4||4||4||3||2||1||—||—||—|
|19th||+19/+14/+9/+4||+11||+6||+11||Spontaneous Metamagic Blade||4||4||4||4||4||3||2||0||—||—|
|20th||+20/+15/+10/+5||+12||+6||+12||Armored Caster 35%, Bonus Feat||4||4||4||4||4||3||2||1||—||—|
Class Skills (4 + Int Modifier per level (First Level: (4 + Int Modifier) X 4))
All of the following are class features of the arcane blade.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: An arcane blade is automatically proficient in all simple and martial weapons, as well as all type of armor (light, medium, and heavy) and all shileds (except tower shields). Despite this, armor of any type interferes with an arcane blades’s movements, which can cause her spells with somatic components to fail.
Spells: An arcane blade casts arcane spells, which are drawn from the sorcerer/wizard spell list. Intelligence determines the arcane blade’s spell DC, bonus spells, and how high level a spell they can cast (In order to cast a particular spell, the arcane blades’s Intelligence score must be at least 10 + the spell’s level).
Like other spellcasters, an arcane blade can cast only a certain number of spells of each spell level per day. Her base daily spell allotment is given on Table: The Arcane Blade. In addition, she receives bonus spells per day if she has a high Intelligence score. However, the arcane blade can only receive additional spells/day for spell levels for which she is allowed at least zero spells. For spell levels for which the chart shows a dash (-), she does not receive any bonus spells/day, even if her intelligence score would otherwise qualify her for bonus spells of this level. For example, an arcane blade with an intelligence score of 15 would receive a bonus 1st level spell/day at 1st level, but no bonus 2nd level spells/day.
Unlike a bard or sorcerer, an arcane blade may know any number of spells. She must choose and prepare her spells ahead of time by getting a good night’s sleep and spending 1 hour studying her spellbook. While studying, the arcane blade decides which spells to prepare.
While spells are prepared like a wizards, an arcane blade receives far fewer spells slots, and many may be consumed by an arcane blade's other class features.
An arcane blade's caster level is equal to one half their arcane blade level, rounding up.
Familiar: Beginning at 4th level, an arcane blade can obtain a familiar (see below). Doing so takes 24 hours and uses up magical materials that cost 100 gp. A familiar is a magical beast that resembles a small animal and is unusually tough and intelligent. The creature serves as a companion and servant.
The arcane blade chooses the kind of familiar he gets. As the arcane blade advances in level, his familiar also increases in power. Treat the arcane blade as a wizard of 3 levels lower for the purpose of determining the familiar's powers and abilities.
If the familiar dies or is dismissed by the arcane blade, the arcane blade must attempt a DC 15 Fortitude saving throw. Failure means he loses 200 experience points per wizard level; success reduces the loss to one-half that amount. However, an arcane blade’s experience point total can never go below 0 as the result of a familiar’s demise or dismissal. A slain or dismissed familiar cannot be replaced for a year and day. A slain familiar can be raised from the dead just as a character can be, and it does not lose a level or a Constitution point when this happy event occurs.
Spellbooks: An arcane blade must study her spellbook each day to prepare her spells. She cannot prepare any spell not recorded in her spellbook, except for read magic, which all wizards can prepare from memory. However, if an arcane blade fails to prepare spells per day, each spell slot available to them still resets to counting as an unused spell for the purpose of their class features. For example, if a 1st level arcane blade fails to prepare any spells per day they still may expend 2 [plus any bonus spells/day gained due to a high intelligence score] 0th level spells for their arcane strike class feature.
A wizard begins play with a spellbook containing all 0-level wizard spells (except those from her prohibited school or schools, if any; see School Specialization, below). For every two points of Intelligence bonus the arcane blade has, the spellbook holds one additional 1st-level spell of your choice. At each new wizard level, she gains one new spell of any spell level or levels that she can cast (based on her new wizard level) for her spellbook. At any time, a wizard can also add spells found in other wizards’ spellbooks to her own.
Armored Caster(Ex):Normally, armor of any type interferes with an arcane spellcaster’s gestures, which can cause his spells to fail (if those spells have somatic components). An arcane blades’s unique training, however, allows him to reduce this penalty. At 1st level the arcane blade reduces the total arcane spell failure chance of all armor worn by 10%. At 5th level this reduction increases to 15%, which increases again to 20% at 9th level, and 25% at 13th level, 30% at 17th level, and finally 35% at 20th level. This ability does not apply to spells gained from a different spellcasting class.
Arcane Strike(Sp): As a move action an arcane blade may enhance any melee weapon they are proficient with and holding with their own arcane energies. To do this they may spend any one spell slot in order to enhance their weapon with a bonus equal to the level of the slot expended, up to their intelligence bonus, similar to a druid's spontaneous casting. Any weapon may be only effected by one instance of this ability at a time. They may alternatively grant it any combination of melee weapon special abilities, up to the same total enhancement bonus, and this may be combined freely between enhancement bonuses and special abilities (so by expending a 3rd level spell it is possible for the arcane blade to make their weapon a +2 keen weapon for the duration of the ability). This enhancement bonus remains as long as the arcane blade remains concentrated. While the enhancment remains, the weapon counts as a magic weapon.
This ability is a spell like ability, and can be dispelled (though the arcane blade can immediately repeat the effect at the cost of another spell slot), and is affected my anti-magic zones and similar effects like a spell. Concentration checks at DC 5 are required for each hour that the enhancement is maintained, whenever the arcane blade misses an attack with the enhanced weapon, or whenever the arcane blade takes damage (as well as any other situation at the DM's discretion). When a concentration check is required in response to damage being taken , the DC is equal to 5 plus the amount of damage taken. The DC for time based checks increases by 5 each time it is taken (so after 3 hours the 3rd check would have a DC of 15). The arcane blade must be holding the weapon in order to maintain this ability. This ability stacks with enhancement bonuses applied to the weapon through other means. Any failed concentration check while maintaining this ability will end the ability.
The arcane blade may end this ability at any time as a free action.
A arcane blade may apply Arcane Strike to multiple weapons, in which case the difficulty of all concentration checks taken to maintain the ability are increased by 10. The two ends of double weapons count as the same weapon for the purpose of Arcane Strike.
At 6th level Arcane strike can be activated as a free action.
It is possible for a weapon to be made such that any spell slot expended by the arcane blade while using it counts as a spell slot of 1 level higher. For example, a 0th level spell slot could be expended to provide a +1 enhancement when using an appropriate weapon, while otherwise a 1st level spell would need to be expended to provide this enhancement. Creating a weapon that functions this way has the same requirements as creating a +1 weapon of the same type. In addition, to create such a weapon the specialized knowledge of arcane blades and the manufacture of these weapons is needed (DC 25 knowledge check, or gaining this knowledge another way). Arcane blades do not inherently have this knowledge.
Bonus Feat: At 2nd, 8th, 14th, and 20th level an arcane blade gains a bonus feat. This feat may be selected from the same list a fighter may choose bonus feats from.
Elemental Strike(Sp): From 3rd level onward, whenever the arcane blade hits with a weapon that is enhanced by arcane strike, the arcane blade may expend an additional spell as a swift action. If this spell was capable of dealing damage, the arcane blade deals additional damage equal to their Int modifier + 1d6 per level of the spell expended, of a damage type the same as one that the expended spell was capable of dealing. If the attack that triggered this ability was a crit, this additional damage is also increased. After the damage is resolved, the arcane blade must take a concentration check with a DC equal to the amount of bonus damage generated by this ability. Failure of this concentration check ends the current instance of Arcane Strike as normal.
The same attack may not be used to trigger both Elemental Strike and SpellBlade.
SpellBlade(Sp): From 7th level onward, whenever the arcane blade hits with a weapon that is enhanced by arcane strike, the arcane blade may, as a swift action, cast any spell they have prepared, as if casting it normally. To use this ability, the arcane blade must pass a concentration check with a DC equal to 10 + the spell's level. They must target whomever or whatever they hit with the weapon used to trigger this ability, and for AOE spells the effect must be centered on this target as much as possible. Spells cast this way do not require their usual somatic components, and any material components worth less than 100gp. While the normal somatic component is removed, it is replaced with a specialized somatic component, and all spells cast this way suffer from arcane spell failure chance due to armor, reduced by Armored Caster and other similar effects as normal. For spells cast this way the arcane blade uses their arcane blade level for their caster level, rather than the usual one half of their arcane blade level. This ability cannot be used to cast spells with a normal casting time of longer than 1 round.
Until 12th level, an arcane blade who uses this feature is unable to attack again until the beginning of their next turn (and so looses any additional attack or attacks of opportunity). As they focus on channeling the spell thought the blade and then recovering. After 12th level, the arcane blade looses only their attacks until the end of the round. In effect they loose any additional attacks granted by a high level. However, if they gain access to an additional full attack by any means that can be used as normal.
The same attack may not be used to trigger both Elemental Strike and SpellBlade.
Blade Penetration: From 12th level onward, spells cast using the SpellBlade ability resolve as if the arcane blade had the Spell Penetration feat, even if they do not otherwise qualify for the feat.
Greater Blade Penetration: From 15th level onward, spells cast using the SpellBlade ability resolve as if the arcane blade had the Greater Spell Penetration feat, even if they do not otherwise qualify for the feat.
Metamagic Blade(Su): At 11th level, the arcane blade may take any metamagic feat as a bonus feat. They may take it even if they are not qualified, but may not use it until they meet the prerequisites. This feat also comes with an additional limitation. While the metamagic feat is used normally during the preparation of spells, any spell prepared by the arcane blade using this metamagic feat gains the additional requirement that it be activated using the SpellBlade class feature. This limitation only applied to metamagic feats gained through the Metamagic Blade class feature, and not through other means.
At 16th level another metamagic feat is gained in the same way, and with the same limitations.
Spontaneous Metamagic Blade(Su): From 19th level, as a free action, the arcane blade my freely improve one prepared spell with a metamagic feat, provided that the spell has not already had a metamagic feat applied to it. This may not take the spell to a higher level than the highest level spell the arcane blade knows, but it may be done even if there is no spell slot available at the higher level. This ability may only be activated immediately before the activation of the Spellblade feature, after the hit used to trigger Spellblade has occurred, and the upgraded spell must be immediately cast using the Spellblade feature. The arcane blade may use Spontaneous Metamagic Blade a number of times per day equal to their inteligence bonus.
Epic Arcane Blade
|25th||Armored Caster 40%|
|29th||Armored Caster 45%|
4 + Int modifier skill points per level.
Armored Caster: The epic arcane blade increases the reduction gained to arcane spell failure chance from Armored Caster to a total of 40% at 25th level, and again to 45% at 29th level.
Metamagic Blade: The epic arcane blade gains additional metamagic feats subject to the advantages and disadvantages of the Metamagic Blade class feature at 22nd and 26th level.
Elf Arcane Blade Starting Package
Armor: Leather Armor
Skill Selection: Pick a number of skills equal to 4 + Int modifier.
Feat: Weapon Focus (Greatsword).
Spellbook: All 0-level spells; plus one of these spells of your choice per two points of Intelligence bonus (if any): color spray, cause fear, charm person, magic missile, summon monster I, sleep, silent image.
Gear: Backpack with waterskin, one day’s trail rations, bedroll, sack, and flint and steel. Ten candles, map case, three pages of parchment, ink, inkpen. Spell component pouch, spellbook. Case with 10 crossbow bolts.
Gold: 3d6; 10gp
Playing an Arcane Blade
Religion: Arcane blades are not inherently drawn to religion, any more than a fighter is. The majority are soldiers in standing armies which maintain a corp of arcane blades, and as such their mentality is more similar to the soldier classes than the magic classes, though when they do worship a god it is often (though not always) a magic god such as Wee Jas.
Other Classes: While the arcane blade respects and understands the scholarly pursuits of wizards more than most classes, they are more at home with other soldiers, especially the more militant paladins and rangers, who they see as fulfilling similar elite roles, though chaotic or evil arcane blades fail to understand the value of a paladin's strict code of conduct. In a similar way, lawful arcane blades have great respect for monks, in many ways the most similar class. They have less respect for the more wild classes such as sorcerers or barbarians, as even the most chaotic arcane blade spend thousands of hours perfecting their craft, which requires a great deal of self discipline. They are neutral about most of the other classes, though the more lawful arcane blades take issue with rogues and sometimes bards. Wizards have been known to look down on arcane blades due to their limited grasp of the arcane abilities, similar to how they react to some sorcerers, but they are given more leeway due to their greater similarity and clear usefulness.
Combat: Typically an arcane blade should focus on striking down the priority targets quickly, as they are capable of dealing huge amounts of damage to single targets, but have limited resources with which to do so. If left to focus on large numbers of weaker enemies they will dispatch them with ease, so long as their concentration remains unbroken and the don't run out of spell slots. While they can take spells which are meant to be case normally, it is most efficient to take a few support or utility spells, and otherwise take damaging single target spells to get the most value from their Spellblade ability. By taking mind affecting spells, they can also serve well controlling the opponent, but in this case they should focus on taking feats that assist their mobility in combat so that they can apply these debuffs to multiple opponents.
Advancement: Arcane blades seeking to flesh out their mundane combat ability may take levels in fighter, while those seeking to enhance their casting ability may take levels in wizard. Their pursuits do not suit the other classes, though particularly adventurous arcane blades may take levels in rogue for the utility. They may advance into eldritch knights or similar hybrid prestige classes if they wish to be become combat casters as opposed to enhanced fighters, and their time as an arcane blade prepares them well for this role, but characters seeking to go down this route would be better served by multiclassing as a wizard/fighter. Other prestige classes are unusual and usually require levels in another base class to meet the requirements.
Arcane Blades in the World
|“||Even you sorry lot should be able to carve through armies after a few years training with me.||”|
|—Sergeant K'Talin, Elven Arcane Blade|
Daily Life: Similar to a wizard, an arcane blade spends much of their time studying the magical side of their discipline, but they spend almost an equal amount of time training with their weapons. Before becoming adventurers, most are soldiers, and some take this lifestyle into the world with them, even if they left on less than favorable terms with whatever organization they originally defended.
Organizations: Many nations or organizations, especially elven ones, maintain a force of arcane blade as their elite shock troops. Occasionally retired arcane blades will mentor a few individuals outside of these institutions, or open a small school, but this is far from the norm, as most pupils seeking magical ability will instead seek training as a wizard. While they are common in national or organizational armies (such as a particularly important wizard's school) they are much less common among mercenaries.
NPC Reactions: Depending on the context, and NPC will react to the PC like an equivalent wizard or fighter. If the NPC belongs to a group that frequently wars against factions employing arcane blades they may react with hostility, while elves generally show respect for arcane blades.
Arcane Blade Lore
Characters with ranks in Knowledge(arcana) or Knowledge(warfare) (or any knowledge skill that encompasses an area or group where armies often include arcane blades) can research arcane blades to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.
|5||Arcane Blades are shock troops of many eleven nations.|
|10||Arcane Blades use their arcane power to enhance their combat ability.|
|15||They project their power through their weapons, and often have specially built weapons to assist them in this respect.|
|25||No further information on their abilities, but this level of knowledge is required to create weapons that enhance an arcane blade's abilities. This knowledge is rare even among arcane blades.|
Arcane Blades in the Game
As NPCs, the majority of arcane blades are the elite shock troops of standing armies. They are occasionally found in other roles, but almost all began in this position, and when they take other positions it is often a military or political promotion, for example to general or ambassador. For those few that leave the army, they fulfill roles similar to fighters, but with a grasp on the basic principles of arcane magic. PCs often come from this set, as either retired soldiers or rare independently trained arcane blade. They can adopt the adventuring lifestyle for a variety of reasons, but many do so to perfect their skills, or in an attempt to better serve the interest that caused them to originally join an army.
Adaptation: Make a more defensive version. Currently by using the defensive special ability it is possible to make this type of character quite tanky, but it could make sense to have a variant that can directly channel energy into armor, instead of a defensive sword.