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[PrC] Sword mage: a wizard with a sword

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Anonymous
June 29, 2005 3:50:41 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Is there a Ftr/Wiz type of class that would be the opposite of the
spellsword, in the sense that it's not a fighter with spells but a
wizard with a sword? Who doesn't use spellcasting to augment combat
prowess, but uses combat prowess to augment spellcasting? I don't think
so, so I made one.



At first glance, the sword mages of West Ielun might seem similar to the
elven Bladesingers or the heavily armoured Imperial Spellswords: all are
sword-wielding mages. However, unlike the Bladesingers and the
Spellswords, a sword mage is an arcanist first and foremost, then
warrior. Instead of using spells to enhance his swordsmanship, he uses
swordsmanship to enhance his spells, sending deadly magic down the
length of his blades at the moment the enemy is most vulnerable: the
moment the blade strikes him.

Most sword mages are wizards, but many sorcerers also follow the path.
Bards usually find that the sword mage training draws them away from
their bardic pursuits too much, but sword mages who started their
careers as bards are by no means unknown.



SWORD MAGE

Requirements:
Feats: Combat Expertise, Weapon Focus (longsword, bastard sword or
greatsword).
Skills: spellcraft 8+ ranks.
Spellcasting: Arcane caster level 5th.
Special: Must be train with a sword mage for one week.

HD: d6
BAB: medium
Fort: bad
Ref: bad
Will: good

Class Skills (2 + Int modifier per level): Concentration (Con), Craft
(Int), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (arcana) (Int), Knowledge (history)
(Int), Knowledge (nobility and royalty) (Int), Profession (Wis), and
Spellcraft (Int).

Lvl Special Spellcasting
1 Live by the sword, through the blade +1 -
2 +1 level of arcane class
3 Cleave +1 level of arcane class
4 Through the blade +2 +1 level of arcane class
5 +1 level of arcane class
6 Great Cleave +1 level of arcane class
7 Through the blade +3 +1 level of arcane class
8 +1 level of arcane class
9 Spell Cleave -
10 Die by the sword, through the blade +4 +1 level of arcane class

Live by the sword: A sword mage learns special techniques that meld
spellcasting with swordsmanship. All his class abilities that mention
the use of swords can only be used when he is wielding a sword in which
he has Weapon Focus in two hands. He doesn't need to have a hand free to
cast spells with somatic components as long as he's wielding a sword,
and the sword also replaces any material or focus components of
negligible cost. Finally, the sword mage can use Combat Expertise when
casting any spell that requires a melee attack or a melee touch attack,
including any spells cast using the Through the blade ability.

Through the blade (Su): As a standard action, a sword mage can cast a
spell at the same time he makes a normal melee attack with a sword. If
the attack hits, the target is affected by the spell and the sword mage
gains the listed bonus (+1 at 1st level, +2 at 4th, +3 at 7th, +4 at
10th) to the spell's saving throw DC and spell penetration checks. If
the attack misses, the spell is stored in the sword, but the sword mage
must take another standard action to discharge it (he discharge a spell
cast in the previous round as a part of a full attack). Only one spell
spell can be stored, and it remains for a number of rounds equal to the
sword mage's class level.

Cleave: At 3rd-level, the sword mage gains the Cleave feat. It also
applies if the sword mage drops an enemy with a spell cast using his
Through the blade ability.

Great Cleave: At 6th-level, the sword mage gains the Great Cleave feat.
It also applies if the sword mage drops an enemy with a spell cast using
the Through the blade ability.

Spell Cleave (Su): At 9th-level, if a sword mage drops an enemy using
his Through the blade ability, the spell remains long enough that it can
affect additional opponents hit by a Cleave attempt. However, if there
are not opponents within reach, the spell doesn't remain stored; it
dissipates at the end of the sword mage's turn.

Die by the sword (Sp): At 10th-level, a sword mage can make an
especially deadly sword attack once per day, which works similar to the
power word kill spell, but is an Evocation effect. The sword mage makes
a normal melee attack that deals double damage. If it hits, it instantly
kills the target if it has 100 hp or less (after taking damage from the
attack). If the attack misses, the use of the ability is wasted. SR
protects against this ability; the sword mage's modifier for the check
is his highest arcane caster level.


--
Jasin Zujovic
jzujovic@inet.hr
Anonymous
June 30, 2005 6:40:55 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Jasin Zujovic <jzujovic@inet.hr> wrote:
>
> SWORD MAGE
>
> Requirements:
> Feats: Combat Expertise, Weapon Focus (longsword, bastard sword or
> greatsword).
> Skills: spellcraft 8+ ranks.
> Spellcasting: Arcane caster level 5th.

This could be done as a human or elven Wizard or Sorcerer, or a Bard, by
fifth level. Sixth level for any other Wizard or Sorcerer.

1st: profiency and Combat Expertise
3rd: Weapon Focus

The 8 ranks in Spellcraft merely mean that the character is 5th level;
Spellcraft is a lousy prereq to use for magic-related prestige classes
(almost all serious spellcasters keep the ranks up in Spellcraft, so
it's like saying "must be alive").


Even though elves and bards can get longsword free at first level, in
this case they still won't be eligible for WF until 3rd level so still
have to take CE at first.


In order to encourage a mix of martial and arcane abilities, I'd lean
more toward:

Feats: proficiency with a sword, Combat Expertise, Weapon Focus ($sword)
Skills: Spellcraft 8+ ranks
Spellcasting: able to cast 2nd-level arcane spells

You could also add BAB +3 (not *really* required, but it encourages a
different build than without it).

The above could be done as a Ftr1/Sor4 (Ftr1=proficiency, WF), take CE
at 3rd level (or first, if human). Sor4 gets 2nd-level spells,
Ftr1/Sor4 can have 8 ranks in Spellcraft. A Ftr1/Wiz4 would also
qualify, of course. Or you could go straight Sor5 or Wiz5 (6 if +3 BAB
is also required). Or Brd5 -- while this class doesn't have much to do
with music and performance, it does fit the bard's abilities fairly
well. If you want to require better magic than combat, drop the +3 BAB
I suggested and replace it with 'able to cast 3rd-level arcane spells'.
That can be done by Wiz5, Sor6, or Brd7 (Brd8 if Cha < 16).


Another alternative -- that I think would be more interesting -- would
be:

Feats: proficiency with a sword, Combat Expertise, Craft Magic Arms and
Armor
Skills: Spellcraft 8+ ranks
Spellcasting: able to cast 3nd-level spells
Special: must craft own arcane blade (magic sword)

This encourages someone more wizardy coming in.

1 Wiz1: proficiency
3 Wiz3: Combat Expertise
5 Wiz5: Craft Magic Arms and Armor, 3rd-level arcane spells, make sword

1 Sor1: proficiency
3 Sor3: Combat Expertise
6 Sor6: CMAaA, 3rd-level arcane spells, make sword

1 Ftr1: prof, CE
3 Wiz2: CMAaA, make sword
6 Wiz5: 3rd-level arcane

1 Brd1: prof, CE
3 Brd3: CMAaA, make sword
7 Brd7: 3rd-level spells (if Cha 16+)
8 Brd8: 3rd-level spells (if Cha <16)

Most people who plan to be in combat (melee especially) take Weapon
Focus. WF isn't usually a great prereq unless it's with a suboptimal
weapon or not that great for the character. Swords are pretty good
weapons and this is a character being designed to be in melee -- odds
are good WF will be taken as soon as possible. Thus, I dropped it.

I also added CMAaA. It felt like there should be *some* magic feat
involved. I considered three:

CMAaA: he's casting magic through a weapon. This feat seems a decent
fit for modeling the interaction of arms and magic.

I also like the idea that a character like this has to have a
'special weapon' (and it acts as a slight limitation on the
ability); requiring that the weapon be created by the character for
this purpose seemed quite appropriate.

Eschew Materials: when trying to cast spells in melee, fumbling for
components has to be a bit of a bastard. Requiring that the
character not *need* to do so -- for at least some of his spells --
seems appropriate. This is often considered a suboptimal feat, in
that it rarely actually makes a difference. It can therefore be
considered a 'greater cost'.

Quicken Spell: you're effectively combining two actions (casting and
attacking). This seems a 'natural application' of Quicken Spell,
even if you don't actually quicken the spell. Also, at low level
this feat really isn't otherwise useful (you have to be a Wiz7 to
quicken a *cantrip*, woohoo!). The feat has an appropriate 'cost'.

In the end I went with CMAaA. I like how it fits the character better
than the others.


> Special: Must be train with a sword mage for one week.
>
> HD: d6
> BAB: medium

Roguish, another indicator that bard might be a decent path into this
class.

> Fort: bad
> Ref: bad
> Will: good

If you need to adjust things up a bit, consider giving good Ref. The
character will already have good Will from at least one class, and
possibly Fort. Good Reflex would round this out a bit.

You might even consider that in place of good Will.

> Class Skills (2 + Int modifier per level): Concentration (Con), Craft
> (Int), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (arcana) (Int), Knowledge (history)
> (Int), Knowledge (nobility and royalty) (Int), Profession (Wis), and
> Spellcraft (Int).

Why the Kno(His, Nob&Roy)? Background/campaign reasons?

> Lvl Special Spellcasting
> 1 Live by the sword, through the blade +1 -
> 2 +1 level of arcane class
> 3 Cleave +1 level of arcane class
> 4 Through the blade +2 +1 level of arcane class
> 5 +1 level of arcane class
> 6 Great Cleave +1 level of arcane class
> 7 Through the blade +3 +1 level of arcane class
> 8 +1 level of arcane class
> 9 Spell Cleave -
> 10 Die by the sword, through the blade +4 +1 level of arcane class
>
> Live by the sword: A sword mage learns special techniques that meld
> spellcasting with swordsmanship. All his class abilities that mention
> the use of swords can only be used when he is wielding a sword in which
> he has Weapon Focus in two hands. He doesn't need to have a hand free to
> cast spells with somatic components as long as he's wielding a sword,
> and the sword also replaces any material or focus components of
> negligible cost. Finally, the sword mage can use Combat Expertise when
> casting any spell that requires a melee attack or a melee touch attack,
> including any spells cast using the Through the blade ability.

Hmm... I'd probably phrase this as 'you gain the benefits of the Eschew
Materials feat when wielding your arcane blade'. Using the sword
replaces the somatic components (you still have to be able to move, I
presume, so it's not *actually* a Stilled spell), and the sword acts as
an uberfocus for all spells with negligible material costs.

> Through the blade (Su): As a standard action, a sword mage can cast a
> spell at the same time he makes a normal melee attack with a sword. If
> the attack hits, the target is affected by the spell and the sword
> mage gains the listed bonus (+1 at 1st level, +2 at 4th, +3 at 7th, +4
> at 10th) to the spell's saving throw DC and spell penetration checks.
> If the attack misses, the spell is stored in the sword, but the sword
> mage must take another standard action to discharge it (he discharge a
> spell cast in the previous round as a part of a full attack). Only one
> spell spell can be stored, and it remains for a number of rounds equal
> to the sword mage's class level.

Through the Blade is a really, *really* nice ability. Consider: he
combines two actions (spellcasting and attack) as a standard action
(i.e. gains an action) and gains a bonus to save DC and spell
penetration -- eventually a substantial one. If he *misses*, the spell
is not lost and he can try again.

By 10th level he gains the equivalent of Spell Penetration, Greater
Spell Penetration. He also gains the equivalent of Spell Focus and
Greater Spell Focus, for all schools, *doubled*. Granted he *does* have
to make a successful melee attack first (putting himself in danger,
etc., and there's a chance he may miss... but the ability to hold the
charge on a miss.

In exchange, he loses two caster levels and two metamagic or item
creation feats. That's a damn fine trade if you're going to be in
melee.

Spellsword (which is a more fighter-oriented class) gets the ability to
channel spells through his weapon at SS4, and then only three times per
day, as move equivalent actions. Granted, they last much longer (up to
8 hours or until used), but I suspect that's rarely a significant
difference (if you use the ability, you probably expend the spell pretty
early). OTOH, Spellswords get hammered on caster level (only ever other
level, though they also get reduced arcane spell failure as well).

Overall, this ability is pretty powerful. I would probably make the
following changes:

.. treat this ability as a metamagic ability, worth probably +3, maybe +2
(it's not quite as good as Quicken because it has to go through the
sword, but you can hold the charge for a few rounds, which is nice if
you miss). As a swift action you can put the spell into your weapon,
then on a successful attack it discharges. Thus, you could do
*channel*, *charge*, *attack* *zap*.

Yeah, +3 feels about right. It also limits how many times you can do
it per day. Since SM has a 'third-level spell' prereq, that means you
can start doing it at first class level (with 0-level spells, or
higher if you don't get in until fourth).

It does screw Sorcerers, in that Quicken doesn't really work for them.
Personally I'd drop the 'full-round metamagic fee' for sorcerers *for
Quicken only*. Since this is effectively an application of Quicken,
it would follow the same rule.

> Cleave: At 3rd-level, the sword mage gains the Cleave feat. It also
> applies if the sword mage drops an enemy with a spell cast using his
> Through the blade ability.
>
> Great Cleave: At 6th-level, the sword mage gains the Great Cleave
> feat. It also applies if the sword mage drops an enemy with a spell
> cast using the Through the blade ability.

Oh, and he gets Cleave *and* Great Cleave *also*

> Spell Cleave (Su): At 9th-level, if a sword mage drops an enemy using
> his Through the blade ability, the spell remains long enough that it
> can affect additional opponents hit by a Cleave attempt. However, if
> there are not opponents within reach, the spell doesn't remain stored;
> it dissipates at the end of the sword mage's turn.

Now *this* is a nifty ability. It'd make a damn fine feat. It'd
require Cleave, maybe Great Cleave (probably not), the ability to cast
a spell through a weapon, probably medium-high BAB and ability to cast a
medium-high spell.
>
> Die by the sword (Sp): At 10th-level, a sword mage can make an
> especially deadly sword attack once per day, which works similar to the
> power word kill spell, but is an Evocation effect. The sword mage makes
> a normal melee attack that deals double damage. If it hits, it instantly
> kills the target if it has 100 hp or less (after taking damage from the
> attack). If the attack misses, the use of the ability is wasted. SR
> protects against this ability; the sword mage's modifier for the check
> is his highest arcane caster level.

Automatically does double damage on a successful hit (predeclared use,
once per day), if successful the poor bugger dies with no save. Nasty
bad. Note that it's possible to gain this ability before being able to
cast PW(Kill) *anyway* (achievable by 15-16th level depending on class
prereqs.


Overall, I think this class is probably too powerful. I'd approach it
as a series of feats. I'll post in a [kjd-imc] shortly.


Keith
--
Keith Davies "Trying to sway him from his current kook-
keith.davies@kjdavies.org rant with facts is like trying to create
keith.davies@gmail.com a vacuum in a room by pushing the air
http://www.kjdavies.org/ out with your hands." -- Matt Frisch
Anonymous
July 1, 2005 5:16:21 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

In article <slrndc6mtm.c6.keith.davies@kjdavies.org>,
keith.davies@kjdavies.org says...

> > SWORD MAGE
> >
> > Requirements:
> > Feats: Combat Expertise, Weapon Focus (longsword, bastard sword or
> > greatsword).
> > Skills: spellcraft 8+ ranks.
> > Spellcasting: Arcane caster level 5th.
>
> This could be done as a human or elven Wizard or Sorcerer, or a Bard, by
> fifth level. Sixth level for any other Wizard or Sorcerer.

Combat Expertise wasn't a prerequisite originally, so any wizard or
sorcerer could have the prerequisites by 5th. Then I noticed you also
need proficiency, so only humans and elves will be able to enter after
5th, but I left it that way since it fit the background that most sword
mages would be human.

> 1st: profiency and Combat Expertise
> 3rd: Weapon Focus
>
> The 8 ranks in Spellcraft merely mean that the character is 5th level;
> Spellcraft is a lousy prereq to use for magic-related prestige classes
> (almost all serious spellcasters keep the ranks up in Spellcraft, so
> it's like saying "must be alive").

IME, only wizards take it. Bards occasinaly take 5 ranks for the UMD
synergy. Clerics and sorcerers usually prioritize concentration, then
some like diplomacy, heal, bluff, then *perhaps* spellcraft (and it's
not uncommon for a sorc or a cleric to lack that third skill point
entirely).

> In order to encourage a mix of martial and arcane abilities,

I'd actually prefer to encourage a straight caster over a Ftr/Wiz type.

> Another alternative -- that I think would be more interesting -- would
> be:
>
> Feats: proficiency with a sword, Combat Expertise, Craft Magic Arms and
> Armor
> Skills: Spellcraft 8+ ranks
> Spellcasting: able to cast 3nd-level spells
> Special: must craft own arcane blade (magic sword)
>
> This encourages someone more wizardy coming in.

I like this one.

> > Special: Must be train with a sword mage for one week.
> >
> > HD: d6
> > BAB: medium
>
> Roguish, another indicator that bard might be a decent path into this
> class.

I only change BAB to medium right before I posted. As I've said, I'd
want this to be a PrC focused more on magic, less on melee.

> > Class Skills (2 + Int modifier per level): Concentration (Con), Craft
> > (Int), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (arcana) (Int), Knowledge (history)
> > (Int), Knowledge (nobility and royalty) (Int), Profession (Wis), and
> > Spellcraft (Int).
>
> Why the Kno(His, Nob&Roy)? Background/campaign reasons?

Right.

> > Through the blade (Su): As a standard action, a sword mage can cast a
> > spell at the same time he makes a normal melee attack with a sword. If
> > the attack hits, the target is affected by the spell and the sword
> > mage gains the listed bonus (+1 at 1st level, +2 at 4th, +3 at 7th, +4
> > at 10th) to the spell's saving throw DC and spell penetration checks.
> > If the attack misses, the spell is stored in the sword, but the sword
> > mage must take another standard action to discharge it (he discharge a
> > spell cast in the previous round as a part of a full attack). Only one
> > spell spell can be stored, and it remains for a number of rounds equal
> > to the sword mage's class level.
>
> Through the Blade is a really, *really* nice ability. Consider: he
> combines two actions (spellcasting and attack) as a standard action
> (i.e. gains an action) and gains a bonus to save DC and spell
> penetration -- eventually a substantial one. If he *misses*, the spell
> is not lost and he can try again.

Compare him to a wizard: the action he gains is a melee attack, and if
he hits he won't be doing fighter (or even monk) amounts of damage;
he'll only be slightly better at it than a straight wizard.

So instead of hitting for [spell effect] as a touch attack (or better,
since many spells don't even require that much) he hits for [spell
effect + weapon damage] as a normal attack. I'd argue it's underpowered
if it weren't for the DC/spell penetration bonuses.

> By 10th level he gains the equivalent of Spell Penetration, Greater
> Spell Penetration. He also gains the equivalent of Spell Focus and
> Greater Spell Focus, for all schools, *doubled*. Granted he *does* have
> to make a successful melee attack first (putting himself in danger,
> etc., and there's a chance he may miss... but the ability to hold the
> charge on a miss.
>
> In exchange, he loses two caster levels and two metamagic or item
> creation feats. That's a damn fine trade if you're going to be in
> melee.

Loss of two caster levels means that even with the Through the Blade
accounted for, you're casting at +3 DC and +2 vs. SR, and casting weaker
spells (since higher level spells tend to be better, in ways beyond just
+1 to DC). But perhaps it would be better to halve the DC bonuses...

> Overall, this ability is pretty powerful. I would probably make the
> following changes:
>
> . treat this ability as a metamagic ability, worth probably +3, maybe +2
> (it's not quite as good as Quicken because it has to go through the
> sword, but you can hold the charge for a few rounds, which is nice if
> you miss). As a swift action you can put the spell into your weapon,
> then on a successful attack it discharges. Thus, you could do
> *channel*, *charge*, *attack* *zap*.

I think it's too weak, even as +2. For example, I don't think you can
really count holding the charge if you miss as an advantage for Through
the blade, compared to Quicken, since with Quicken, you won't miss.

> It does screw Sorcerers, in that Quicken doesn't really work for them.
> Personally I'd drop the 'full-round metamagic fee' for sorcerers *for
> Quicken only*. Since this is effectively an application of Quicken,
> it would follow the same rule.

Agreed.

> > Die by the sword (Sp): At 10th-level, a sword mage can make an
> > especially deadly sword attack once per day, which works similar to the
> > power word kill spell, but is an Evocation effect. The sword mage makes
> > a normal melee attack that deals double damage. If it hits, it instantly
> > kills the target if it has 100 hp or less (after taking damage from the
> > attack). If the attack misses, the use of the ability is wasted. SR
> > protects against this ability; the sword mage's modifier for the check
> > is his highest arcane caster level.
>
> Automatically does double damage on a successful hit (predeclared use,
> once per day), if successful the poor bugger dies with no save. Nasty
> bad. Note that it's possible to gain this ability before being able to
> cast PW(Kill) *anyway* (achievable by 15-16th level depending on class
> prereqs.

I wanted it to do something even if it didn't kill the target outright,
but perhaps double damage was a bit too much...

> Overall, I think this class is probably too powerful.

Try comparing it to a wizard, instead of a spellsword or fighter, and I
think it looks much more acceptable (which I guess says things about
wizard vs. spellsword balance, but eh...).

The wizard gives up two metamagic/item feats. He gets 10 hp, +2 BAB. He
loses two caster levels, but gains +4 to DCs and spell penetration for
his single target spells, netting +3 to DCs and +2 spell penetration.
But to gain those bonuses he has to be in melee and has to actually
manage to hit stuff (neiter of which are trivial, with half weak/half
medium BAB and half d4/half d6 HD, so he'll have to sink money and/or
spells into melee offense/defense, further diluting his raw arcane power
compared to a straight wizard).

> I'd approach it as a series of feats.

Well, you would, wouldn't you? :) 

> I'll post in a [kjd-imc] shortly.

I see you did. I'll check it out later.


--
Jasin Zujovic
jzujovic@inet.hr
Related resources
Anonymous
July 1, 2005 5:43:14 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Jasin Zujovic <jzujovic@inet.hr> wrote:
> In article <slrndc6mtm.c6.keith.davies@kjdavies.org>,
> keith.davies@kjdavies.org says...
>
>> > SWORD MAGE
>> >
>> > Requirements:
>> > Feats: Combat Expertise, Weapon Focus (longsword, bastard sword or
>> > greatsword).
>> > Skills: spellcraft 8+ ranks.
>> > Spellcasting: Arcane caster level 5th.
>>
>> This could be done as a human or elven Wizard or Sorcerer, or a Bard, by
>> fifth level. Sixth level for any other Wizard or Sorcerer.
>
> Combat Expertise wasn't a prerequisite originally, so any wizard or
> sorcerer could have the prerequisites by 5th. Then I noticed you also
> need proficiency, so only humans and elves will be able to enter after
> 5th, but I left it that way since it fit the background that most sword
> mages would be human.
>
>> 1st: profiency and Combat Expertise
>> 3rd: Weapon Focus
>>
>> The 8 ranks in Spellcraft merely mean that the character is 5th level;
>> Spellcraft is a lousy prereq to use for magic-related prestige classes
>> (almost all serious spellcasters keep the ranks up in Spellcraft, so
>> it's like saying "must be alive").
>
> IME, only wizards take it. Bards occasinaly take 5 ranks for the UMD
> synergy. Clerics and sorcerers usually prioritize concentration, then
> some like diplomacy, heal, bluff, then *perhaps* spellcraft (and it's
> not uncommon for a sorc or a cleric to lack that third skill point
> entirely).

Different game. As I said, I found that any serious spellcaster will
try to keep Spellcraft maxed. OTOH, bards are arguably not 'serious
spellcasters', and clerics may well have more important things to do
with their relatively limited skill points (2+mInt like wizards, but
clerically typically have less Int than wizards).

>> In order to encourage a mix of martial and arcane abilities,
>
> I'd actually prefer to encourage a straight caster over a Ftr/Wiz type.

I wasn't sure. Having a little bit of fighter still makes sense. For
many characters (not human or elven wizard or sorcerer, IOW) sixth level
is the earliest they can get in *anyway*, so taking a level in fighter
isn't unreasonable. It doesn't slow them down, and since they're going
to be in melee a little bit of buffing helps anyway.

>> Another alternative -- that I think would be more interesting -- would
>> be:
>>
>> Feats: proficiency with a sword, Combat Expertise, Craft Magic Arms and
>> Armor
>> Skills: Spellcraft 8+ ranks
>> Spellcasting: able to cast 3nd-level spells
>> Special: must craft own arcane blade (magic sword)
>>
>> This encourages someone more wizardy coming in.
>
> I like this one.
>
>> > Special: Must be train with a sword mage for one week.
>> >
>> > HD: d6
>> > BAB: medium
>>
>> Roguish, another indicator that bard might be a decent path into this
>> class.
>
> I only change BAB to medium right before I posted. As I've said, I'd
> want this to be a PrC focused more on magic, less on melee.

I'd consider reducing the BAB, then. Give him a little more toughness
(bigger HD) without putting him on par with rogues and clerics (both of
which can do decently in combat).

>> > Class Skills (2 + Int modifier per level): Concentration (Con), Craft
>> > (Int), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (arcana) (Int), Knowledge (history)
>> > (Int), Knowledge (nobility and royalty) (Int), Profession (Wis), and
>> > Spellcraft (Int).
>>
>> Why the Kno(His, Nob&Roy)? Background/campaign reasons?
>
> Right.

Okay.

>> > Through the blade (Su): As a standard action, a sword mage can cast a
>> > spell at the same time he makes a normal melee attack with a sword. If
>> > the attack hits, the target is affected by the spell and the sword
>> > mage gains the listed bonus (+1 at 1st level, +2 at 4th, +3 at 7th, +4
>> > at 10th) to the spell's saving throw DC and spell penetration checks.
>> > If the attack misses, the spell is stored in the sword, but the sword
>> > mage must take another standard action to discharge it (he discharge a
>> > spell cast in the previous round as a part of a full attack). Only one
>> > spell spell can be stored, and it remains for a number of rounds equal
>> > to the sword mage's class level.
>>
>> Through the Blade is a really, *really* nice ability. Consider: he
>> combines two actions (spellcasting and attack) as a standard action
>> (i.e. gains an action) and gains a bonus to save DC and spell
>> penetration -- eventually a substantial one. If he *misses*, the spell
>> is not lost and he can try again.
>
> Compare him to a wizard: the action he gains is a melee attack, and if
> he hits he won't be doing fighter (or even monk) amounts of damage;
> he'll only be slightly better at it than a straight wizard.
>
> So instead of hitting for [spell effect] as a touch attack (or better,
> since many spells don't even require that much) he hits for [spell
> effect + weapon damage] as a normal attack. I'd argue it's underpowered
> if it weren't for the DC/spell penetration bonuses.

On its own it isn't particularly overpowering, no.

>> By 10th level he gains the equivalent of Spell Penetration, Greater
>> Spell Penetration. He also gains the equivalent of Spell Focus and
>> Greater Spell Focus, for all schools, *doubled*. Granted he *does* have
>> to make a successful melee attack first (putting himself in danger,
>> etc., and there's a chance he may miss... but the ability to hold the
>> charge on a miss.
>>
>> In exchange, he loses two caster levels and two metamagic or item
>> creation feats. That's a damn fine trade if you're going to be in
>> melee.
>
> Loss of two caster levels means that even with the Through the Blade
> accounted for, you're casting at +3 DC and +2 vs. SR, and casting weaker
> spells (since higher level spells tend to be better, in ways beyond just
> +1 to DC). But perhaps it would be better to halve the DC bonuses...

The change to save DC only happens if he would otherwise cast his
highest-level spell, though. I don't know if he *would*; most of the
spells he has available, after all, are lower level than his most
powerful. Add to that that for *most of his career in this class* he's
only at -1 caster level.

IOW, he doesn't often suffer a penalty. At first level in the class he
breaks even *at worst*, by the time he maxes out he's still netting a +3
or +4 to save DC and +2 to spell penetration to *potentially all spells
attacks*.

Even though I overlooked the 'lower spell level decreases save DC'
point, the bonuses are still awfully nice.

OTOH, if you chopped them in half, it might be okay.

>> Overall, this ability is pretty powerful. I would probably make the
>> following changes:
>>
>> . treat this ability as a metamagic ability, worth probably +3, maybe +2
>> (it's not quite as good as Quicken because it has to go through the
>> sword, but you can hold the charge for a few rounds, which is nice if
>> you miss). As a swift action you can put the spell into your weapon,
>> then on a successful attack it discharges. Thus, you could do
>> *channel*, *charge*, *attack* *zap*.
>
> I think it's too weak, even as +2. For example, I don't think you can
> really count holding the charge if you miss as an advantage for Through
> the blade, compared to Quicken, since with Quicken, you won't miss.

Which is why it's worth less. I think it's worth about +3. You *might*
talk me into +2. You *won't* convince me +1 is right.

>> > Die by the sword (Sp): At 10th-level, a sword mage can make an
>> > especially deadly sword attack once per day, which works similar to the
>> > power word kill spell, but is an Evocation effect. The sword mage makes
>> > a normal melee attack that deals double damage. If it hits, it instantly
>> > kills the target if it has 100 hp or less (after taking damage from the
>> > attack). If the attack misses, the use of the ability is wasted. SR
>> > protects against this ability; the sword mage's modifier for the check
>> > is his highest arcane caster level.
>>
>> Automatically does double damage on a successful hit (predeclared use,
>> once per day), if successful the poor bugger dies with no save. Nasty
>> bad. Note that it's possible to gain this ability before being able to
>> cast PW(Kill) *anyway* (achievable by 15-16th level depending on class
>> prereqs.
>
> I wanted it to do something even if it didn't kill the target outright,
> but perhaps double damage was a bit too much...

Free PWK at 15th/16th level is nice to have, even without double damage
from the weapon (said double damage also making it easier for PWK to
work).

>> Overall, I think this class is probably too powerful.
>
> Try comparing it to a wizard, instead of a spellsword or fighter, and I
> think it looks much more acceptable (which I guess says things about
> wizard vs. spellsword balance, but eh...).
>
> The wizard gives up two metamagic/item feats. He gets 10 hp, +2 BAB. He
> loses two caster levels, but gains +4 to DCs and spell penetration for
> his single target spells, netting +3 to DCs and +2 spell penetration.
> But to gain those bonuses he has to be in melee and has to actually
> manage to hit stuff (neiter of which are trivial, with half weak/half
> medium BAB and half d4/half d6 HD, so he'll have to sink money and/or
> spells into melee offense/defense, further diluting his raw arcane power
> compared to a straight wizard).

Lose: two metamagic/item creation feats and two caster levels. Gains:
+2 BAB, 10hp, net +3 or +4 to save DC, +2 to spell penetration (when in
melee -- which could potentially be 'always'), Cleave, Great Cleave,
free PWK 1/day.

I may have overreacted, it maybe isn't *as* powerful as I'd thought.

>> I'd approach it as a series of feats.
>
> Well, you would, wouldn't you? :) 

Yep. I often do.

Actually, it came to me as I was writing up the feats that perhaps a
prestige class based on those feats would be a better idea. A five or
ten level prestige class centered on the Through the Blade tree.

This would allow someone *not* of the prestige class to learn the
ability (which is a bonus to me), but still leave an opening for a
prestige class to take further advantage of the abilities and expand on
them.


Keith
--
Keith Davies "Trying to sway him from his current kook-
keith.davies@kjdavies.org rant with facts is like trying to create
keith.davies@gmail.com a vacuum in a room by pushing the air
http://www.kjdavies.org/ out with your hands." -- Matt Frisch
Anonymous
July 9, 2005 6:24:48 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Jasin Zujovic wrote:
> Is there a Ftr/Wiz type of class that would be the opposite of the
> spellsword, in the sense that it's not a fighter with spells but a
> wizard with a sword? Who doesn't use spellcasting to augment combat
> prowess, but uses combat prowess to augment spellcasting? I don't think
> so, so I made one.
>
>
>
> At first glance, the sword mages of West Ielun might seem similar to the
> elven Bladesingers or the heavily armoured Imperial Spellswords: all are
> sword-wielding mages. However, unlike the Bladesingers and the
> Spellswords, a sword mage is an arcanist first and foremost, then
> warrior. Instead of using spells to enhance his swordsmanship, he uses
> swordsmanship to enhance his spells, sending deadly magic down the
> length of his blades at the moment the enemy is most vulnerable: the
> moment the blade strikes him.
>
> Most sword mages are wizards, but many sorcerers also follow the path.
> Bards usually find that the sword mage training draws them away from
> their bardic pursuits too much, but sword mages who started their
> careers as bards are by no means unknown.
>
>
>
> SWORD MAGE
>
> Requirements:
> Feats: Combat Expertise, Weapon Focus (longsword, bastard sword or
> greatsword).
> Skills: spellcraft 8+ ranks.
> Spellcasting: Arcane caster level 5th.
> Special: Must be train with a sword mage for one week.

One week seems a bit short, go with an apprenticing under a master for a
year or something.




> Die by the sword (Sp): At 10th-level, a sword mage can make an
> especially deadly sword attack once per day, which works similar to the
> power word kill spell, but is an Evocation effect. The sword mage makes
> a normal melee attack that deals double damage. If it hits, it instantly
> kills the target if it has 100 hp or less (after taking damage from the
> attack). If the attack misses, the use of the ability is wasted. SR
> protects against this ability; the sword mage's modifier for the check
> is his highest arcane caster level.
>
>
There ought to be a save for no effect.
Anonymous
July 9, 2005 11:48:44 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

In article <slrndd01j1.kkg.keith.davies@kjdavies.org>,
keith.davies@kjdavies.org says...

> > Looking at it as a simple metamagic, without the other class
> > abilities, and comparing to a wizard (i.e. default action in a round:
> > cast a spell): what you're getting out of this metamagic is a single
> > extra melee attack, while drawbacks include having to be in melee and
> > having a much more higher chance of missing with a spell and having to
> > discharge it next round (so you end up doing two melee attack and one
> > spell in two rounds).
>
> Well, you aren't required to do it in the very next round (it lasts for
> spellcaster rounds, does it not?)
>
> Not missing with Quicken applies if it's an area effect spell; any spell
> that is targeted, you could miss with and it's gone.

There are many, many targeted spells you can't miss with: for example
hold person.

> I'm willing to
> consider "have to hit to discharge, but don't lose the spell if you
> miss" as more or less breakeven in the general case.
>
> Note too that technically it isn't gaining just a single extra melee
> attack; you could gain a full attack.

As I recall (the old posts are gone from my computer by now), you wrote
it so that you could only cast + attack, not cast + full attack. But
I'll take your word that I'm misremembering. It's a little better, then.

> So: he's *not* gaining just a single melee attack. He's gaining a
> spell, plus anything else he wants to do that round (there's nothing
> saying his *has* to make a melee attack -- he just can't cast another
> spell until the current one is discharged somehow).

"Just"?

I think it's stacking the deck heavily against the wizard to say that a
wizard who gets to squeeze a spell into a melee full-attack is getting
the spell. He'd vey likely be casting the spell without the ability, so
what he's getting out of it is the attack.

> >> >> > Die by the sword (Sp): At 10th-level, a sword mage can make an
> >> >> > especially deadly sword attack once per day, which works similar
> >> >> > to the power word kill spell, but is an Evocation effect. The
> >> >> > sword mage makes a normal melee attack that deals double damage.
> >> >> > If it hits, it instantly kills the target if it has 100 hp or
> >> >> > less (after taking damage from the attack). If the attack
> >> >> > misses, the use of the ability is wasted. SR protects against
> >> >> > this ability; the sword mage's modifier for the check is his
> >> >> > highest arcane caster level.
> >> >>
> >> >> Automatically does double damage on a successful hit (predeclared
> >> >> use, once per day), if successful the poor bugger dies with no
> >> >> save. Nasty bad. Note that it's possible to gain this ability
> >> >> before being able to cast PW(Kill) *anyway* (achievable by 15-16th
> >> >> level depending on class prereqs.
> >> >
> >> > I wanted it to do something even if it didn't kill the target
> >> > outright, but perhaps double damage was a bit too much...
> >>
> >> Free PWK at 15th/16th level is nice to have, even without double
> >> damage from the weapon (said double damage also making it easier for
> >> PWK to work).
> >
> > What would you say if it worked like the Death domain power instead of
> > PWK, tied to character level?
> >
> > So: predeclared use, once per day, if the attack hits deal
> > (double...?) damage then roll (character level) x d6, if the target
> > has less or equal hp it dies.
>
> So pretty close to a half-strength PWK (you can do this by 16th level;
> 16*3.5 = 54).
>
> You might consider instead /finger of death/ rather than PWK. It's save
> or die; on a successful save, target still takes 3d6+casterlevel damage.
> This seems much closer to what you're trying to do, without giving use
> of a 9th-level spell before he would normally be able to cast it.

The key difference is that it's no more difficult to kill someone with
200 hp with a finger of death than it is to kill someone with 1 hp.

PWK and the Death granted power encourage you to deal some damage using
more conventional means, before finishing off with the killing blow,
which suits me better than just opening up with a death effect to bypass
hp entirely.

In fact, I think it might be interesting if all/most death effects were
reworked to work like PWK/Death, but that's another story...

> >> Lose: two metamagic/item creation feats and two caster levels. Gains:
> >> +2 BAB, 10hp, net +3 or +4 to save DC, +2 to spell penetration (when in
> >> melee -- which could potentially be 'always'),
> >
> > I think a very important point is: while a sword mage could always be
> > in melee if he wants, as someone who has half weak/half medium BAB he
> > has a very real chance of missing with a melee attack. So while he can
> > get the bonuses to pretty much every spell he casts, he won't be
> > casting as many spells as a wizard, since he'll be spending some of
> > his rounds discharging spells left over after a melee miss in the
> > previous round.
>
> Bear in mind that (as I wrote it, at least) a touch attack suffices.
> That gets to ignore armor; it'll be a tank spanker.

Well, the way I wrote it (or at least, inteded it) is that if you cast
Through the blade, you don't get to use touch; You need to hit with a
normal melee attack. In return, you get all the bonuses to save DCs and
penetration...

> Assuming the tank doesn't get you first with the +16 Power Attack
> greatsword attack, of course.

That, too.

> For that matter, it comes to me that, rather than making it a prestige
> class, you might consider a base class that can *only* cast spells
> through weapons. This might avoid the spell level increase for casting
> Through the Blade because *only* being able to cast Through the Blade
> can be a significant limitation.

That is an intriguing idea. Perhaps with the battle sorcerer variant
from UA as a starting point...

BTW, I've just learned that there's a class that's very close in concept
to my sword mage in the Miniature's Handbook: the havoc mage.

Five levels of medium BAB, d8 (IIRC?), good Fort and Will, 3/5
spellcasting and the ability to cast 2nd, then 4th, then 8th level
spells while making a melee attack as a full round action.

Mixing it with a battle sorcerer, you get 20 levels of medium BAB, d8,
middling Fort, good Will, 18th-level sorcerer spellcasting (with one
less spell per day and known at each level) and the ability to make a
melee attack while you cast anything but 9th-level spells.


--
Jasin Zujovic
jzujovic@inet.hr
Anonymous
July 10, 2005 1:54:32 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

In article <_DUze.9945$is5.1024433@news20.bellglobal.com>,
shawn_roske@sympatico.ca says...

> > SWORD MAGE
> >
> > Requirements:
> > Feats: Combat Expertise, Weapon Focus (longsword, bastard sword or
> > greatsword).
> > Skills: spellcraft 8+ ranks.
> > Spellcasting: Arcane caster level 5th.
> > Special: Must be train with a sword mage for one week.
>
> One week seems a bit short, go with an apprenticing under a master for a
> year or something.

I'm trying to keep it workable in the context of D&D. What is the player
going to do while his character trains for a year? Go away and come back
for the next campaign?

> > Die by the sword (Sp): At 10th-level, a sword mage can make an
> > especially deadly sword attack once per day, which works similar to the
> > power word kill spell, but is an Evocation effect. The sword mage makes
> > a normal melee attack that deals double damage. If it hits, it instantly
> > kills the target if it has 100 hp or less (after taking damage from the
> > attack). If the attack misses, the use of the ability is wasted. SR
> > protects against this ability; the sword mage's modifier for the check
> > is his highest arcane caster level.
>
> There ought to be a save for no effect.

There isn't one for power word kill.


--
Jasin Zujovic
jzujovic@inet.hr
Anonymous
July 10, 2005 4:13:25 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Jasin Zujovic wrote:
> In article <_DUze.9945$is5.1024433@news20.bellglobal.com>,
> shawn_roske@sympatico.ca says...
>
>
>>>SWORD MAGE
>>>
>>>Requirements:
>>>Feats: Combat Expertise, Weapon Focus (longsword, bastard sword or
>>>greatsword).
>>>Skills: spellcraft 8+ ranks.
>>>Spellcasting: Arcane caster level 5th.
>>>Special: Must be train with a sword mage for one week.
>>
>>One week seems a bit short, go with an apprenticing under a master for a
>>year or something.
>
>
> I'm trying to keep it workable in the context of D&D. What is the player
> going to do while his character trains for a year? Go away and come back
> for the next campaign?
>

I suppose, but who says the master has to babysit the student all the time?

He could study by correspondence, or meet once a week or something,
perhaps a minimun number of hours for apprenticeship. Your week would
then be 168 hours.

>
>>>Die by the sword (Sp): At 10th-level, a sword mage can make an
>>>especially deadly sword attack once per day, which works similar to the
>>>power word kill spell, but is an Evocation effect. The sword mage makes
>>>a normal melee attack that deals double damage. If it hits, it instantly
>>>kills the target if it has 100 hp or less (after taking damage from the
>>>attack). If the attack misses, the use of the ability is wasted. SR
>>>protects against this ability; the sword mage's modifier for the check
>>>is his highest arcane caster level.
>>
>>There ought to be a save for no effect.
>
>
> There isn't one for power word kill.
>

Is power word kill available to a character at the minimum level
possible to be reached through this progression?
!