June 29, 2015

Swordsage

Monastic Tradition
Comments from the Finger: Admittedly, I'm a bit conflicted about how this class turned out. The Swordsage was one of a trio of classes which used the popular maneuver subsystem which was introduced and really only supported in Tome of Battle: Book of the Nine Swords. These three classes, Crusader, Swordsage, and Warblade were intended to be fixes for three of the martial classes in 3.5 (paladin, monk, and fighter, respectively) which were lacking mechanically behind casters. The 5e legacy of this much beloved subsystem is the Battle Master class, which brings the familiar subsystem to the new edition.
     On one hand, I've created an (I think) fairly well balanced maneuver-based monk (be careful to note that you actually expend maneuvers and must recover them later, as in the 3.5 version.) On the other, it fails to accomplish many of the mystical abilities that swordsages had at their disposal via their maneuvers, and thus feels martial and militaristic rather than mysterious and magical.
     However, I know that many people have created additional maneuvers for 5e and some of those people even might be our readers. So, if you know of or have written maneuvers which you think we should allow our swordsage class to be able to learn, send us an email at middlefingerofvecna@gmail.com or leave a comment below.

Way of the Swordsage

A master of martial maneuvers, the Swordsage is a physical adept — a blade wizard whose knowledge of the Sublime Way lets her unlock blinding speed and spiritual transcendence. Unlike other monks, the Swordsage trains with his weapon as well as his martial arts, practicing relentless discipline to hone her skills and perfect her combat maneuvers. The Masters of the Sublime way are a blur of deadly strikes on the battlefield, evidence of years of intensive training and meditation.

Bonus Proficiencies
When you choose this path at 3rd level, you gain proficiency in martial weapons that do not have the Heavy property. Martial weapons are also treated as monk weapons for the purposes of monk class features.

Combat Discipline
Beginning at 3rd level, your training and discipline have taught you to channel your Ki into deadly combat maneuvers.
     Maneuvers. You can prepare five maneuvers of your choice, which are detailed under “Maneuvers” in the Fighter class description. You may reselect these maneuvers each time you complete a long rest. You learn to prepare two additional maneuvers of your choice at 6th, 11th, and 17th level.
Many maneuvers enhance an attack in some way. You can use only one maneuver per attack. Once you have used a prepared maneuver it becomes unprepared and you may not use it again until you complete short or long rest. You may, however, use your action to meditate on a single maneuver to prepare it again.
     Superiority Dice. Your superiority dice begin as d4s, and change as shown in the Martial Arts column of the Monk table. When you elect to use a maneuver, you may use a superiority die by expending 1 Ki point.
     Saving Throws. When one of your maneuvers requires your target to make a saving throw to resist the maneuver’s effects, use your Ki save DC.

Quick to Act
By 6th level, you are exceptionally quick to act, and have advantage on initiative rolls.

Mystic Jaunt
At 11th level, you can strike an enemy within the span of a moment. As a bonus action, you can spend 2 Ki points to teleport up to 60 feet to a space that you can see adjacent to an enemy. You then have advantage on the first attack you make before the end of your turn.

Sublime Way
By 17th level, you have mastered the Sublime Way and can strike with perfect form. You may now use two different maneuvers on a single attack, expending Ki points separately for each.


Changelog: 6/30/15: Removed light armor proficiency
7/13/15: No longer has proficiency with martial weapons that have the heavy property.
Now gains advantage on initiative, rather than a flat +5.

20 comments:

  1. While I don't know how it compares to the 3.5 swordsage, this seems like a really cool tradition for a weapon based monk, using a combination of ki and maneuvers to enhance combat. The Jaunt seems like an ability that would be really fun to use. My current character is a mask bard, but I think I want to try this monk subclass for my next one. Thanks for putting out all of these great supplements for 5e to make character creation such a fun process.

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    1. Making these is our pleasure! Any feedback on how the college of masks plays in your group? Overpowered? Underpowered?

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    2. One of my players is playing a College of Masks bard. He is level 4, and is mostly using the dragon mask at the moment. It is definitely a very strong nuke that can be used over and over, though it doesn't necessarily feel OP. Since it doesn't scale, he will soon have to switch to something else, and he's aiming for the Archmage mask at level 6.
      Mechanically, I have no problem with the archetype so far, and he seems to be enjoying playing it, though he reminds me every session of how unfair it is that he has to pay 200+gp just to play his class (gold is very valuable in our campaign, and 100gp for the mask is a lot).
      But in a normal 5th ed campaign, 100gp is pretty much a drop in the ocean even for a level 3 character.

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  2. I'm not really sure what benefit light armor proficiency has for the swordsage. Since the save DC against maneuvers uses wisdom, and martial weapons can use dex instead of strength, since they count as monk weapons, the swordsage's AC should be higher while unarmoured than while wearing armor. I love the idea of this class though.

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    1. You're totally right about the armor being useless. I might cut it from the class, but it really isn't hurting anything either.

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  3. I don't suppose you've got a PDF of everything you've made, do you?

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    1. At the moment, we do not. When we complete a release of a subclass for each class in core (which is a milestone coming up again next week), we will release a Class Pack, which is a collection of 12 subclasses. Sometimes we do themed updates, which are collections of 4 each. After 3 updates, we'll release a class pack as well.

      Would there be any interest in a Middle Finger of Vecna Compendium? When we start releasing some more diverse content, we can totally work on that, if there's interest.

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    2. A Middle Finger of Vecna Compendium is an idea this reader can at least get behind. As well as a couple of players in my group.

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  4. Ok. I can wait a week.

    And YES! Totally!

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  6. Swordsage was one of my favorite classes with my favorite path being that of the Shadow Hand. I am actually going to try brewing a series of feats based on the nine paths that of course would be accessible to nonswordsages, but in a less powerful version (much like martial study from ToB). If you'd like I could email you a sample for your own tinkering pleasure.

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    1. I would be very interested in that! The Thumb wrote a series of Swordsage maneuvers converted from 3.5 that we haven't released (mostly because I haven't sat down and tinkered with them.) If you have something you'd like us to take a look at (any maybe even make a PDF for and post) send us an email at middlefingerofvecna@gmail.com.

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  7. Hey thanks for making this awesome class - definitely going to play this in my next campaign!

    Was just wondering what the incentive is to actually use a weapon in this, especially at higher levels, when your unarmed strikes are so powerful, because of martial arts, ki-empowered strikes etc?

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    1. For starters, a lot of maneuvers specify they only work with weapons. Also, you can use magic weapons.

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    2. Plus, the bonus proficiencies mean you can use a d12 lance, which is better than your 20th lvl unarmed strike (and a little weird to use with dex.).

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    1. Nevermind, I just realized that having 20 superiority dice is a wee bit OP...

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  9. What happens on a multiclass with Battle Master?

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    1. They don't multiclass very well, as it were. They both use the same maneuvers (much like a warlock and a wizard use the same spells) but they have completely different resources powering them. If you do want to multiclass, track your ki points, prepared maneuvers, and superiority dice separately.

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