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Author Topic: Tome of Battle for Dummies  (Read 59925 times)
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DaveTheMagicWeasel
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« on: May 24, 2008, 09:50:59 AM »

Tome of Battle for Dummies
Crusaders, Swordsages and Warblades ... oh my!

What follows is a first attempt at a preliminary handbook for Tome of Battle.  I have however avoided calling it a handbook because an effort to make a guide so comprehensive as to deserve the name is likely a futile endeavour.  Instead this is intended as a general introduction to the book for someone just picking it up for the first time.

Right now this is a work in progress, some sections (PRCs especially) are very sparse at the moment, I'm just posting it now to get things started and start getting feedback/contributions (this job is too big for one person!).

So, what I'm looking for is any thoughts on good feats or other worthwhile options for the various classes, as well as sample builds for the various classes.  I'm quite happy with the Crusader section, but Swordsage and Warblade are harder to pin down to definable roles.  If anyone has more experience with them then any thoughts would be appreciated.  And if anyone has an iconic Swordsage 20 or Warblade 20 build with sample maneuver progressions to show people a suggested baseline from which to start working (I'll do em myself when I get chance, but if someone wants to do it great).  Also, any help on the Swordsage, Bloodstorm Blade, Deepstone Sentinel, JPM and Shadow Sun Ninja would be appreciated as they are the classes I am least familiar with.

Contents:
Generally useful links:
« Last Edit: May 24, 2008, 12:59:17 PM by DaveTheMagicWeasel » Logged

DaveTheMagicWeasel
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« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2008, 09:51:30 AM »

[SIZE="5"]
Multiclassing: A Dipper's Guide to Tome of Battle[/SIZE]

Tome of Battle is probably the single most dip-friendly supplement that WotC has ever produced.  This is because of the simple and elegant mechanic whereby 1/2 your HD in non-Martial Adept classes (or Racial HD) are added to your Initiator Level.

This allows almost any character that can be created to gain significant and worthwhile benefits with even just a single level of a ToB class (in the vast majority of cases using a level in a class is a better option than the Martial Study and Martial Stance feats, as doing so grants you more maneuvers as well as a recovery method for them).

This also allows you to delay entering a Martial Adept class so that the large number of maneuvers gained at 1st level do not have to be 1st level maneuvers.  This can be particularly appealing for builds that intend to enter a Prestige Class and will therefore not gain access to the ability to swap maneuvers - making low-level choices especially important.

When multiclassing with a Martial Adept Tleilaxu_Ghola's "leap frogging" is a good model to use.  This level progression pattern can apply equally well to combining a Martial Adept with a non-initiating class whilst maintaining an optimal maneuver progression.

As a simple rule, 3rd level maneuvers are a good level to aim for when dipping.  This includes a number of choice maneuvers whilst still giving you freedom to qualify for the maneuvers of your choice.  If you have your eye on maneuvers of a higher level then it is likely you need to be looking at a heavier investment in Martial Adept levels rather than a small dip.

Combining Martial Adepts: The utility of combining multiple Initiating classes bears mentioning.  This allows you to more easily meet the prerequisites for high level maneuvers by using the dipped class to choose maneuvers in a shared discipline.  Normally this means combining Warblade with one of the other two classes, since Crusader and Swordsage enjoy very little discipline overlap.  For example, a primarily Warblade character focused on Iron Heart and White Raven can use a single level in Swordsage to take low-level Diamond Mind and Tiger Claw maneuvers, allowing him to choose higher level Diamond Mind and Tiger Claw maneuvers that he would otherwise not qualify for with his later Warblade levels.

Dipping for Stances: An easily missed clause within Tome of Battle is that the stance granted at level 1 of each of the base classes has to be a 1st level stance (a restriction that does not apply to other maneuver choices).  This means dipping for higher level stances generally requires an investment of at least 2 levels.

[SIZE="4"]Crusader[/SIZE][/U]

The Crusader possesses the best recovery mechanic of any of the Martial Adepts because you recover maneuvers without ever having to spend an action to do so, giving you unparallelled stamina.  The Cha to will saves at 2nd level and ability to reroll saves at 3rd level are also very good class abilities to increase your defences.

[sblock=Analysis by Discipline]
  • Devoted Spirit: The main maneuver to dip for here is the 3rd level stance Thicket of Blades, a staple choice for battlefield control builds based around reach.  Other Class(es) 6 / Crusader 2 grants you this stance at the same level a straight Crusader acquires it, while Other Class(es) 8 / Crusader 2 delays its acquisition by a level in order to gain 3rd level maneuvers at the first Crusader level.  Foehammer, or one of Martial Spirit and Iron Guard's Glare are the usual choices in order to qualify for Thicket of Blades, whilst Defensive Rebuke is a good choice for tank builds that want to force opponents to attack them rather than your squishier party members.
  • Stone Dragon: Easy prerequisits make this a very dippable discipline.  The Mountain Hammer chain in particular scale well with their DR ignoring ability useful even at very high levels.  Stone Dragon strikes also tend to do more damage compared to maneuvers of the same level from other disciplines.
  • White Raven: The most interesting maneuver here is the 3rd level boost White Raven Tactics, which grants a fellow party member an additional round of actions.  This is one of the most powerful maneuvers in the game (note that CustServ actually ruled you can use this maneuver on yourself, in which case it becomes downright broken, and that the Sage subsequently reversed the CustServ ruling.  I strongly advise that you ignore CustServ on this one).
[/sblock]
Recommended Dips:

Other Class(es) 6 / Crusader 3
Maneuvers:
  • 1st level (5): Battle Leader's Charge, Charging Minotaur, Foehammer, Mountain Hammer, Tactical Strike + Bolstering Voice/Leading the Charge
  • 2nd level: Thicket of Blades
  • 3rd level: White Raven Tactics
Other Class(es) 8 / Crusader 2
Maneuvers:
  • 1st level (5): Battle Leader's Charge, Defensive Rebuke, Foehammer, Mountain Hammer, White Raven Tactics + Bolstering Voice/Leading the Charge
  • 2nd level: Thicket of Blades
Archerpwr's Lockdown 2.0 is an example of a primarily warblade build that dips Crusader 2 for Thicket of Blades and then builds around the stance.

[SIZE="4"]Swordsage[/SIZE][/U]

In terms of maneuvers known Swordsage is the most front-loaded of the Martial Adepts, and gives access to the largest number of schools and a free Weapon Focus feat, good Ref and Will saves and 6+Int skill points.  The down side is the loss of a point of BAB and the Swordsage's poor recovery mechanic, but if you're okay with that then a Swordsage dip is a superb choice.

Swordsage is also commonly dipped to provide access to the Shadow Blade feat, normally used in conjunction with Assasin's Stance, and the Gloom Razor tactical feat (very useful for sneak attackers).

If you don't want Assassin's Stance then Swordsage is unusual amongst the Martial Adepts in that its lower level maneuvers are more dippable than either Warblade or Crusader (both of which I'd advise holding off on until 3rd level maneuvers).  Maneuvers such as Counter Charge, the Diamond Mind save counters, Sudden Leap and Shadow Jaunt can all remain useful throughout the levels.

[sblock=Analysis by Discipline]
  • Desert Wind: Burning Brand for the ability to grant yourself reach is the most notable maneuver here.  But in generral this is one of the weaker disciplines.
  • Diamond Mind: The three save replacing counters - Moment of Perfect Mind (Will), Action Before Thought (Ref) and Mind Over Body (Fort) - are the obvious choices here.  Picking counters that cover any weak saves is a good choice, but also notable is the fact that when using these counters you no longer automatically fail your save on a natural '1', which can be a lifesaver against save-or-die and save-or-suck spells and effects.  The Pearl of Black Doubt stance is also a very potent defensive option.
  • Setting Sun: My personal favourite here is Counter Charge as a method of avoiding attacks from charging opponents.  Feigned Opening can also be useful for Attack of Opportunity builds by giving you an extra way to generate an AoO.
  • Shadow Hand: Shadow Jaunt is your first pick here - with no prerequisites for a standard action teleport this is a great way to increase your characters maneuverability.  Otherwise, this is the discipline for sneak attackers - Assasin's Stance is a common choice for triggering Shadow Blade, as are Child of Shadows and Island of Blades.  Child of Shadows also combines well with the Gloom Razor feat to avoid attacks and then let you activate an invisibility effect in response (activating sneak attack).  Cloak of Deception is also useful as a sneak attack activator.
  • Stone Dragon: Easy prerequisites make this a very dippable discipline.  The Mountain Hammer chain in particular scale well with their DR ignoring ability useful even at very high levels.  Stone Dragon strikes also tend to do more damage compared to maneuvers of the same level from other disciplines.  Swordsages gain particular benefit from this discipline as they lack access to other disciplines with highly damaging standard action strikes.
  • Tiger Claw: A lack of worthwhile zero prerequisite maneuvers make this a dificult discipline to get into, if you do take either Wolf Fang Strike or Claw at the Moon and then simply ready other maneuvers.  Sudden Leap is a useful source of maneuverability (and allows for movement + full attack), Blood in the Water combines very well with a dual kukri wielding character and can amass very impressive bonuses, and Hunter's Sense is a useful choice for a party tracker.
[/sblock]
Recommended Dips:

Other Class(es) 8 / Swordsage 2 (able to take Shadow Blade at 9th level)
Maneuvers:
    1st level: Cloak of Deception, Counter Charge, Feigned Opening, Mind Over Body, Moment of Perfect Mind, Shadow Jaunt, + Island of Blades (Child of Shadows if taking Gloom Razor)
  • 2nd level: Burning Brand + Assassin's Stance
Other Class(es) 4 / Swordsage 1
Maneuvers:
  • 1st Level: Action Before Thought, Counter Charge, Moment of Perfect Mind, Shadow Jaunt, Sudden Leap, Wolf Fang Strike + Stance of choice

[SIZE="4"]Warblade[/SIZE][/U][/U]

Warblade is the only base class with access to the powerful Iron Heart discipline, which then allows you to qualify for the Stormguard Warrior tactical feat.  In addition to a good shell and some useful, if unspectacular, class abilities at low level this makes for a good dip.  The only downside is that a Warblade's second stance does not come until 4th level, meaning that a dip for a particular stance is more likely a job for Crusader or Swordsage.

[sblock=Analysis by Discipline]
  • Diamond Mind: The three save replacing counters - Moment of Perfect Mind (Will), Action Before Thought (Ref) and Mind Over Body (Fort) - are the obvious choices here.  Picking counters that cover any weak saves is a good choice, but also notable is the fact that when using these counters you no longer automatically fail your save on a natural '1', which can be a lifesaver against save-or-die and save-or-suck spells and effects.  The Pearl of Black Doubt stance is also a very potent defensive option.
  • Iron Heart: The choice maneuver here is the incredibly versatile Iron Heart Surge, which allows you to remove adverse conditions (the Q&A thread contains a clarification on what this actually means).  In order to qualify for this you will need another Iron Heart maneuver - Punishing Stance is a good choice as it will also allow you to qualify for the Ironheart Aura feat and latterly Stormguard Warrior, but Wall of Blades is also a very useful counter, especially if your AC is substantially less than your own roll to hit (characters using the Shock Trooper tactical feat from Complete Warrior are the best example of this).
  • Stone Dragon: Easy prerequisits make this a very dippable discipline.  The Mountain Hammer chain in particular scale well with their DR ignoring ability useful even at very high levels.  Stone Dragon strikes also tend to do more damage compared to maneuvers of the same level from other disciplines.
  • Tiger Claw: A lack of worthwhile zero prerequisite maneuvers make this a dificult discipline to get into, if you do take either Wolf Fang Strike or Claw at the Moon and then simply ready other maneuvers.  Sudden Leap is a useful source of maneuverability (and allows for movement + full attack), Blood in the Water combines very well with a dual kukri wielding character and can amass very impressive bonuses, and Hunter's Sense is a useful choice for a party tracker.
  • White Raven: The most interesting maneuver here is the 3rd level boost White Raven Tactics, which grants a fellow party member an additional round of actions.  This is one of the most powerful maneuvers in the game (note that CustServ actually ruled you can use this maneuver on yourself, in which case it becomes downright broken, and that the Sage subsequently reversed the CustServ ruling.  I strongly advise that you ignore CustServ on this one).
[/sblock]
Recommended Dips:

Other Class(es) 8 / Warblade 1
Maneuvers:
  • Stormguard Warrior qualification version: Iron Heart Surge, Moment of Perfect Mind, Wall of Blades, + Punishing Stance
  • White Raven Tactics qualification version: Iron Heart Surge, Wall of Blades, White Raven Tactics + Bolstering Voice/Leading the Charge
  • Stormguard Warrior and White Raven Tactics qualification: Iron Heart Surge, Leading the Attack, White Raven Tactics + Punishing Stance
« Last Edit: May 24, 2008, 09:53:33 AM by DaveTheMagicWeasel » Logged

DaveTheMagicWeasel
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« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2008, 09:51:38 AM »

[SIZE="5"]Crusader[/SIZE][/B]

Overview[/U]

More so than any other class the Crusader is a tank right out of the box - this is what the Paladin and the Knight should have been all along.  The average Crusader can absorb an enormous amount of damage thanks to his Steely Resolve ability and healing from Devoted Spirit (and the Stone Power feat if you so choose), control the battlefield using reach weapon and attack of opportunity tactics, and buff and heal their fellow party members thanks to Devoted Spirit and White Raven maneuvers.  While not the biggest damage dealer on the block you can dish out your fair share with Furious Counterstrike and your offensive maneuvers, and the enormous stamina that your survivability and constantly refreshing maneuvers give you make you a formidable opponent.

Your correct position is stood directly in front of the biggest melee threat ranged against you, blocking the path to your party members as best you can.  Don't be afraid forgo full attacks in order to move around to adopt the best position (using Standard Action strikes to maintain your threat level), and don't hold back on using your maneuvers - its use them or lose them (and they'll be back in a round or two anyway).

Common Crusader tactics fall into two areas - 'Lockdown' and 'Crackdown' - the latter normally being an evolution of the former.  Lockdown refers to pinning your opponents in place so that they cannot attack weaker party members and instead have to face you, the ultra resilient tank (i.e. the classic fighter protecting the casters archetype).  Crackdown, meanwhile, refers to what you do your opponent next - having forced them to stand next to you you proceed to beat them to a bloody pulp.  While the Crusader excels at the Lockdown aspect of this strategy, Warblade excels at Crackdown by virtue of Diamond Mind strikes and Stormguard Warrior for damage.  See the second 'Stormguard Crusader' build for an example of this (and a Warblade dipping Crusader is also entirely viable).

Race
  • Human: Because of the feat intensive nature of battlefield control tactics Human is, as usual, the most optimal choice for a Crusader.
  • Dwarf: The Con boost is nice, and if you can be a Gold Dwarf to avoid the Charisma penalty then this can be a good choice.  This also allows you to qualify for the Deepstone Sentinel PrC.
  • Elf or Half-elf: The Con penalty will severely hurt a Crusader, but a sub race that avoids that (e.g. Wood Elf) can be a good choice.  This also allows your to qualify for the powerful Eternal Blade PrC, for which Half-elf can sometimes be a good choice if your group enforces multiclassing penalties.
  • Aasimar: The LA is too much of a cost for what this gives you, but if you can buy back the LA and plan to head for Ruby Knight Vindicator then the stat boosts will serve you well.
  • Draconic (Draconomicon/Races of the Dragon): Stat boosts your three important stats (Str, Con and Cha), and you can put this template on a human to keep your bonus feat.  If playing with LA buy off then in the long run this will be a good choice, but you will be a level behind at low-mid levels.
  • Goliath (Races of Stone): Again, the LA hurts, but the physical stat boosts, access to Goliath Barbarian for Mountain Rage and the ability to qualify for the Knockback feat open up interesting possibilities.
Feats
  • Extra Granted Maneuver (ToB): This feat means that your maneuvers will now refresh themselves every 3 rounds instead of every 4, allowing you more uses of your most powerful maneuvers.  This is always a good choice for a Crusader and if you can fit it in then you should.
  • Stone Power (ToB): The main use of this feat is to tailor the hit points it provides so as to soak up the damage stored in your delayed damage pool from the previous round.  At low levels this can make a Crusader phenomenally hard to kill, but, while still useful, its utility fades away as you level up as 10 hp becomes rather trivial.  If retraining (PHB2) is allowed then this is a good choice for low levels before swapping out later.
  • Combat Reflexes: As a Crusader you will almost certainly want to wield a reach weapon.  Furthermore, this feat allows you to take Robilar's Gambit (see below).
  • Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Spiked Chain): The classic weapon of the tripper is actually not the best choice for a Crusader.  Either a Guisarme (if tripping) or a Glaive (if using Stand Still) can both give you reach without having to spend a precious feat, while armour spikes and the 5-foot step should be sufficient for adjacent opponents.
  • Stand Still (XPH/SRD): Despite being in the XPH this is a non-psionic feat.  When combined with the Thicket of Blades stance this allows you to force an opponent to stay where it is, meaning that its attacks will have to be directed against you rather than squishier party members.  A superb tool in the tank's armoury this also has the advantage over Improved Trip in that in can be used on normally untrippable foes (Oozes and the like).
  • Combat Expertise + Improved Trip: If you're pressed for feats then Stand Still is the better choice due to its greater versatility, but against foes that you can trip this is the superior option since the free attack and AoO for standing from prone allow you to cause damage simultaneous to controlling the opponent's position.
  • Robilar's Gambit (PHB2): By granting your opponent bonuses to hit and damage this grants you an AoO after an opponent attacks you (whether they hit or miss).  This is useful on its own since you can likely absorb the hits better than your opponent (it can be a good idea to turn the feat off when you're low on hp though), but also combines very well with Stormguard Warrior's Channel the Storm ability if you work a way to qualify for it into your build.
  • Karmic Strike (Complete Warrior): Similar to Robilar's Gambit, but harder to qualify and only triggers if your opponent actaully hits you.  Frankly, Robilar's Gambit is better unless you make use of the fact that the Karmic Strike AoO takes place before the opponent's attack roll is made, allowing you to disrupt your opponent's attacks (e.g. by tripping them).  Its a bit cheesy, but also very effective.  Whether its right for your game/DM is up to you.
  • Mage Slayer (Complete Arcane): Combined with Thicket of Blades and Stand Still this can make for a very effective way to shut opposing casters down.  Sadly, casters being casters, quite often they'll have a trick up their sleeve to counter it so try and hit them with something to deny them actions as well, e.g. White Raven Hammer.
  • Defensive Sweep (PHB2): Opponents you threaten who do not attack you in their turn provoke an AoO from you - this has good synergy with the usual lockdown tactics employed by Crusaders and further reinforces the lose-lose situation you're aiming to put your opponent into.
  • Overwhelming Assault (PHB 2): Gain a +4 bonus on attacks against adjacent opponents who do not attack you.  Further reinforcement to the lose-lose situation.
  • Earth Devotion (CC): Creates difficult terrain as an immediate action - very useful for stopping people from making 5 ft. steps for Lockdown purposes.  Obviously better with Cleric levels (and hence RKV), and also useful as it can replace Thicket of Blades if you want to use a different stance.
Level 1 Optimization

There are two common choices here, both of which presume human.  The first is to take Extra Granted Maneuver and Stone Power while wielding a glaive/guisarme + armour spikes and functioning as a potent meatshield (adding more battlefield control as you level up).  The other option is to start as a battlefield controller, again with glaive/guisarme + armour spikes and take Combat Reflexes and Stand Still as your feats.  I would recommend this second option as it will level better (consider Extra Granted Maneuver at 3rd level).

If flaws are in play I would take all 4 of Combat Reflexes, Extra Granted Maneuver, Stand Still and Stone Power, which will make for a superb tank.

For 1st level stances the two stand out candidates are both from Devoted Spirit - Martial Spirit and Iron Guard's Glare.  Martial Spirit is very useful for healing both yourself and the party and is normally the best to take at level 1, with IGG at level 2 (this is combined with a reach weapon to give a de facto +4 AC to all nearby allies, so is a good stance to start a combat in before switching to Martial Spirit once you or your allies have taken some damage).

Tleilaxu_Ghola's Report from the Trenches on a low level Crusader in a real game environment is also useful reading for the aspiring Crusader.

Break Points

As a general rule, an even number of levels is a good guide - that maximizes the 1/2 IL from other classes (since an odd number will lead to rounding down of half an IL).  Some particular points to consider for a Crusader:
  • 2: You've acquired 2 stances, likely Thicket of Blades if you're a dipper and good for a Charisma heavy dipper.
  • 3: The ability to reroll '1's on saves is incredibly useful when you start facing save-or-dies and save-or-sucks
  • 8: A 3rd stance (either Thicket of Blades or with multiclassing you can push this to one of the 6th level Devoted Spirit stances), and your Steely Resolve has just increased to 15.
  • 14: The previous level you acquired Mettle and now you've just picked up the last stance Crusader has to offer.  Be sure to take that 14th level at the end of the build though - with 6 levels in any other class your IL is now 17 and you can grab a 9th level maneuver (Strike of Righteous Vitality is a popular choice).
After that, Crusader gets a little underwhelming.  A Crusader 20 will certainly be a solid choice (and epic ready), but have a look round for something else to fill those levels up.

Builds

There is an enormous amount of scope for multiclassing with a Crusader, but for now we shall limit ourselves to a straight Crusader 20 build as an example of typical tactics and to provide a baseline of maneuver choices.

Basic Crusader

Build Stub: Human Crusader 20

Feats:
Human: Combat Reflexes
1: Stand Still
3: Extra Granted Maneuver
6: Combat Expertise
9: Improved Trip
12: Robilar’s Gambit
15: Defensive Sweep (PHB2)
18: Overwhelming Assault (PHB2)

[sblock=Maneuvers]watch this space...
[/sblock]
What makes it good?

This build combines almost all of the usual reach and AoO optimization tricks and spends most of its time in the Thicket of Blades stance, with Stand Still and Improved trip to force an opponent to stand and face you.

The build then focuses on making this a lose-lose situation for your opponent.  If they choose to attack you they trigger Robilar's Gambit to grant you AoOs and charge up your Furious Counterstrike ability.  If they don't attack you then they trigger your Defensive Rebuke boost, and Defensive Sweep and Overwhelming Assault feats to grant you AoOs and bonuses on your attacks.

So, your opponent is punished if they (a) try and move away from you, (b) stand and attack you, and (c) stand and don't attack you.  There aren't many good options left for them really.

Stomguard Crusader
Build Stub: Human Crusader 16 / Warblade 4 (Crusader 8 / Warblade 1 / Crusader +2 / Warblade +1 / Crusader +2 / Warblade +1 / Crusader +2 / Warblade +1 / Crusader +2)

Feats:
Human: Combat Reflexes
1: Stand Still
3: Extra Granted Maneuver
6: Stone Power
9: Ironheart Aura
12: Stormguard Warrior
15: Robilar's Gambit
18: Defensive Sweep (PHB2)

[sblock=Maneuvers]Maneuvers in Italics are later swapped out.

Crusader 1: Charging Minotaur (SD 1), Crusader's Strike (DS 1), Douse the Flames (WR 1), Leading the Attack (WR 1), Stone Bones (SD 1) + Martial Spirit (DS 1, Stance)
Crusader 2: Iron Guard's Glare (DS 1, Stance)
Crusader 3: Foehammer (DS 2)
Crusader 4: Swap Leading the Attack -> Battle Leader's Charge (WR 2)
Crusader 5: White Raven Tactics (WR 3)
Crusader 6: Swap Stone Bones -> Defensive Rebuke or Revitalising Strike (DS 3)
Crusader 7: Divine Surge (DS 4)
Crusader 8: Swap Charging Minotaur -> White Raven Strike (WR 4) + Thicket of Blades (DS 3. Stance)
Warblade 1: Iron Heart Surge (IH 3), Moment of Perfect Mind (DM 1), Wall of Blades (IH 2) + Punishing Stance (IH 1, Stance)
Crusader 9: Radiant Charge (DS 5)
Crusader 10: Swap Crusader's Strike -> Flanking Maneuver (WR 5)
Warblade 2: Lightning Recovery (IH 4)
Crusader 11: Order Forged From Chaos (WR 6)
Crusader 12: Swap Douse the Flames -> Rallying Strike (DS 6)
Warblade 3: Iron Heart Focus (IH 5)
Crusader 13: Clarion Call (WR 7)
Crusader 14: Swap Foehammer -> White Raven Hammer (WR 8) + Immortal Fortitude (DS 8, Stance)
Warblade 4: Dancing Blade Form (IH 5, Stance)
Crusader 15: Strike of Righteous Vitality (DS 9)
Crusader 16: Swap Battle Leader's Charge -> War Master's Charge (WR 9)
[/sblock]
What makes it good?

This build is a good example of a leap-frogging pattern, acquiring Thicket of Blades as fast as possible before alternating between 2 Crusader levels and additional Warblade levels to allow for cherry picking of maneuvers.

It sacrifices the Improved Trip of the pure Crusader build and a slightly slowed maneuver progression so as to add in a smattering of useful warblade maneuvers and the powerful Stormguard Warrior feat.  This feat is added on the existing Crusader strategy of pinning down your opponent and then creating a lose-lose situation for them - any attacks they provoke from Robilar's Gambit can now be sacrificed for bonuses to attacks and damage with Channel the Storm.  Furthermore, you can spend a round charging up Combat Rhythm and then use Stand Still to prevent an opponent moving away from you - virtually guaranteeing that they will be on the receiving end of the hefty bonuses you're accumulated.

Put simply, compared to the straight Crusader build it trades a small amount of battlefield control capability for a significant increase in damage dealing ability.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2008, 09:54:26 AM by DaveTheMagicWeasel » Logged

DaveTheMagicWeasel
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« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2008, 09:51:44 AM »

[SIZE="5"]Swordsage[/SIZE][/B]

Overview

The Swordsage has two main sources for optimization - hit and run tactics using its maneuverability and strikes, and Two-Weapon Fighting making use primarily of the Shadow Blade feat, as well as its wide selection of boosts.  These two fighting styles can actually be combined thanks to a number of swift action maneuvers allowing the Swordsage to move and full attack all in the same round (notably Sudden Leap, Shadow Blink, Pouncing Charge, Leaping Flame and Quicksilver Motion).  Further, the Swordsage has access to a wide variety of counters for defensive purposes.

However, the Swordsage is an incredibly versatile class and there are a great many fighting styles it can capably employ.  For example, Setting Sun throw maneuvers can be used to make a battlefield controller.

The classes main weakness is its awful recovery method (1 maneuver per full-round action).

Race
  • Human: Usual deal, feats are good.
  • Strongheart Halfling: Gets a bonus feat like a human as well as the Dex boost of the Halfling
  • Whisper Gnome (Races of Stone): Very good stealth abilities and ability bonuses - arguably this race deserves to be LA+1.
  • Xeph (XPH/SRD): A bonus to Dex for Weapon Finesse/Shadow Blade synergy, a power point reserve for feat and PrC qualification and the ability to take 15 on Cocentration checks (for Diamond Mind), and a boost to speed which can help with the jump checks for Tiger Claw and the effects of Tornado Throw.  Also of note is the Xeph Burst, Extra feat in Complete Psionic.  Overall, this is a superb choice.

Feats

  • Adaptive Style (ToB): In and of itself this is a staple feat for Swordsage builds, since the Swordsage recovery method is incredibly slow.  It also allows you to rapidly tailor your maneuver selection when not adjacent to an opponent (i.e. changing to more appropriate maneuvers once you see your opponent is the Swordsage equivalent of casting a buff spell).  This is also an especially useful feat for a multiclassed Warblade/Swordsage who gains the ability to refresh both lists of maneuvers in a single round.  Furthermore, you can initiate a maneuver on the same round you use this - e.g. spend a swift action to use a maneuver, then spend a full-round to refresh maneuvers including refreshing the maneuver you just used).  Where this gets really good is when combined with the Moment of Alacrity maneuver (Diamond Mind 6), which allows you to move your next turn up in the initiative order - almost certainly to the front of the queue - so a Swordsage with Moment of Alacrity and Adaptive Style effectively has all his maneuvers ready at all times.
  • Extra Readied Maneuver (ToB): Not essential, but having more maneuvers available is intrinsically a good thing.
  • Shadow Blade (ToB): This allows you to add your Dex to damage when wielding Shadow Hand weapons in a Shadow Hand stance.  This makes for a good Dex based two-weapon fighting build, normally revolving around Assasin's Stance and dual wielding daggers, before entering Bloodclaw Master for 2 levels to remove the attack roll penalties.
  • Weapon Finesse: Combines with Shadow Blade for Dex based combatants.  Sadly you can't qualify for it at 1st level.
  • Gloom Razor (ToB): Requiring Shadow Blade to qualify, this is a good choice for rogues and other sneak attackers dipping into Swordsage because it allows you to become invisible if an opponent misses you due to a miss chance (such as provided by the Child of Shadows stance), and to render opponents flat-footed.
Level 1 Optimization

The main choices of feats at 1st level as a Swordsage are 2 from Two-Weapon Fighting, Shadow Blade and Adaptive Style.  Ideally use flaws for all 3, but if not I would likely sacrifice Adaptive Style.

For maneuvers I would suggest Wolf Fang Strike and Sudden Leap to allow for mobile full attacks, Child of Shadows as a stance to grant concealment whilst doing so, Counter Charge to deflect any attempts to get to grips with you and Burning Blade as a generic damage boost (primarily to combine with Wolf Fang Strike).  The final two (unreadied) maneuvers are very open, but Diamond Mind or Shadow Hand maneuvers to help meet later prerequisites would be my choices.

Break Points

As a general rule, an even number of levels is a good guide - that maximizes the 1/2 IL from other classes (since an odd number will lead to rounding down of half an IL). Some particular points to consider for a Swordsage:
  • 2: Wis to AC, 2 stances (common to use multiclassing to make the second Assasin's Stance), boosts to Reflex and Will saves and a free Weapon focus to offset the BAB loss.
  • 4: Still only 1 BAB loss, but now you've got more maneuvers and added Wis to damage with one school of strikes (especially useful for a Swordsage focusing heavily on one discipline).
  • 9: 3 lost BAB hurts, but 4 stances and Evasion lessens the pain.
  • 14: all set for a 9th level maneuver is you delay level 14 till the end, and you also pick up yet another stance at this level.
  • 20: Epic ready, the powerful Dual boost ability and yet another new stance.

Builds

Swordsage 20 (TWFing mobility build - Shadow Blade + Gloom Razor)
Feats
Human: Two-Weapon Fighting
1: Shadow Blade
3: Weapon Finesse
6: Adaptive Style
9: Improved Two-Weapon Fighting
12: Gloom Razor
15: Open
18: Open

Setting Sun focused battlefield controller/tank

Links:
- Beshadowed Blade v.2
- Daring Swordsage
« Last Edit: May 24, 2008, 09:54:47 AM by DaveTheMagicWeasel » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2008, 09:51:57 AM »

[SIZE="5"]Warblade[/SIZE][/B]
[/URL]
Overview

Of the three base classes presented in Tome of Battle the Warblade is the hardest to pin down to a particular role within the party.  Whether its damage dealing, tanking, mobility or party buffing/aiding the Warblade has access to the tools to do the job.  Take advantage of this fact and make your Warblade as versatile as possible, able to respond to any situation and fill any gap in your party.  While the Crusader excels as the tank and the Swordsage excels on the move the one area where the Warblade can really shine is as a damage dealer - either through Stormguard Warrior or charging feats (or quite likely, both).  Amongst the traditional classes the Barbarian or the Paladin are probably the closest parallels, although the average Warblade should have rather more tricks up his/her sleeve.

Race

  • Human: Feats are good.
  • Elf: The Con penalty hurts, but entrance to Eternal Blade can be worth it.  A Wood Elf to avoid the Con penalty is a good choice.
Feats

  • Adaptive Style (ToB): In and of itself this is a useful feat, since it allows you to rapidly tailor your maneuver selection when out of combat (i.e. changing to more appropriate maneuvers once you see your opponent is the Warblade equivalent of casting a buff spell).  This is also an especially  useful feat for a multiclassed Warblade/Swordsage who gains the ability to refresh both lists of maneuvers in a single round.  Furthermore, unlike the normal Warblade recovery method you can initiate a maneuver on the same round you use this - e.g. spend a swift action to use a maneuver such as White Raven Tactics, then spend a full-round to refresh maneuvers including refreshing the maneuver you just used).  Where this gets really good is when combined with the Moment of Alacrity maneuver (Diamond Mind 6), which allows you to move your next turn up in the initiative order - almost certainly to the front of the queue - so a Warblade with Moment of Alacrity and Adaptive Style effectively has all his maneuvers ready at all times.  And as for Greater Celerity abusing warblade/JPMs ... I don't even want to think about it.
  • Stormguard Warrior (ToB): This is the staple of a great many damage dealing builds.  Combat Rhythm combines well with anything that increases number of attacks (e.g. two-wepon fighting, flurry of blows, haste, Avalanche of Blows, Dancing/Raging Mongoose, Time Stands Still, etc).  Channel the Storm combines well with anything that generates Attacks of Opportunity (Robilar's Gambit, Karmic Strike, reach weapon, Hold the Line, Thicket of Blades, Defensive Rebuke, etc).  Note that a more in-depth section on Stormguard Warrior is in teh Discipline Focus section under Iron Heart.
  • Robilar's Gambit (PHB 2): Useful in combination with Stormguard Warrior as an AoO generation method to fuel Channel the Storm.
  • Shock Trooper (Complete Warrior): The Heedless Charge ability lets you take a penalty to AC instead of your attack roll to fuel Power Attack when charging, which can lead to enormous amounts of damage.  Combine this with maneuvers used on the charge such as Pouncing Charge, and with Wall of Blades to allow you to replace your substantially reduced AC with an attack roll to minimize your vulnerability.
  • Combat Brute (Complete Warrior): This feat synergizes very well with Shock Trooper.  Its best to have both, but if you have to pick one then pick Shock Trooper.
  • Leap Attack (Complete Adventurer): Increase your Power Attack multiplier on the charge.  This is to stack on top of Shock Trooper.
Warblade Bonus Feats: Upon first sight the list of Warblade bonus feats looks like a poor one, but although it is a limited selection many of the feats presented can be put to good use in qualifying for other more powerful feats and prestige classes (and if all else fails Improved Initiative never did anyone any harm).
  • Blind Fight -> Master of Nine (ToB), Pierce Magicsl Concealment (CArc)
  • Combat Reflexes -> Robilar's Gambit (PHB 2)
  • Endurance -> Steadfast Determination (PHB 2)
  • Improved Initiative -> Master of Nine (ToB), Nightsong Enforcer (CAdv)
  • Ironheart Aura -> Stormguard Warrior (ToB)
  • Stone Power -> Shards of Granite (ToB)

Level 1 Optimization

Punishing Stance provides a good source of low level damage, Steel Wind and Wolf Fang Strike allow for multiple attacks to be made whilst on the move, with Sudden Leap for maneuverability.

Break Points

As a general rule, an even number of levels is a good guide - that maximizes the 1/2 IL from other classes (since an odd number will lead to rounding down of half an IL).  The Warblade actually possesses one of the smoothest progressions of any class with almost every level offering some sort of ability, nevertheless, some particular points to consider for a Warblade:
  • 1: Short and sweet, this is normally used to grab an Iron Heart stance for Stormguard Warrior qualification and a couple of other maneuvers of choice.
  • 4: Here you get your second stance.  One notable option is to take three Warblade levels and then multiclassing for two levels before returning to Warblade so as to bump up this stance to a 3rd level one
  • 7: Int to damage against flanked ot flat-footed opponents.  This is the first of the Battle X abilities that is especially interesting and synergizes very well with Rogue and/or Swashbuckler builds.
  • 10: A 3rd stance and you're set up to finish a 10 level PrC if so desired (Eternal Blade for instance).
  • 20: Stance mastery is a very tempting capstone ability.  A Warblade 20 is a perfectly viable character.

Builds

CantripN's Factotum of War (Warblade 20)

Tleilaxu_Ghola 's Feral Dreadlord (Warblade heavy ToB Sneak Attack optimization)

CantripN's Phoenix the Fierce (Crackdown build)
« Last Edit: May 24, 2008, 09:55:11 AM by DaveTheMagicWeasel » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2008, 09:52:14 AM »

[SIZE="5"]Prestige Classes[/SIZE][/B]

The main trade off to be made when entering an Initiator Level progressing Prestige Class is that you will lose the ability to swap out lower level maneuvers as you level up.  This means that you may have less high level maneuvers (Master of Nine with its large number of maneuvers known is the exsception to this), and also means that your choices of low level maneuvers becomes more important.

You can, however, attempt to get the best of both worlds by returning to your base class after finishing your Prestige Class and thereby gain the benefits of a couple of maneuver swaps.

Prestige Classes and IL Progression:
- thanks to DavidWL for writing this section
If a prestige classes progress IL then it does so for all the relevant classes.  Example:  Warblade 1/Swordsage 1/Crusader 3/Shadow Sun Ninja 10/Master of Nine 5

Has:
Warblade IL = 18
Swordsage IL = 18
Crusader IL = 19

This is most of note if you take a dip much later, for example: Swordsage 1/Cleric 1/Monk 1/Crusader 2/Ruby Knight Vindicator 9/Master of Nine 5/Warblade 1.  Amusingly enough, when you take the warblade level at 20th level, you have an IL of 17 for the Warblade.

Crusaders and Prestige Classes:
- thanks to DavidWL for writing this section
One wonderful thing about the way prestige classes effect the crusader is that, as stated on page 96 under the "Maneuvers Known" section, "If you choose to add the maneuver readied to a martial maneuver progression derived from crusader class levels, you also gain one additional maneuver granted at the beginning of the encounter for each additional maneuver you can ready."

This is the awesomeness behind a Crusader/Master of Nine build such as Reshar, by LogicNinja: http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=846133.

[SIZE="4"]
Bloodclaw Master
[/SIZE]
- great 2 level dip for TWFers, 3rd is nice for the extra REadied Maneuver, but the last two grant diminishing returns - stop at either 2 or 3 and either return to your base class or pick up another PrC.
- As pointed out by X-Codes, the 'pounce' ability is technically not a strike, which means a Warblade can use it on the same turn that he recovers maneuvers (otherwise its uninspiring, and the readied TC strike you lose will often be better than the ability itself)

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Bloodstorm Blade
[/SIZE]
- Link to Dungeoncrasher Bloodstorm Blade build (JJ - http://forums.gleemax.com/wotc_archive/index.php/t-792530)

[SIZE="4"]
Deepstone Sentinel
[/SIZE]
- Deepstone Sentinel / Dwarven Defender synergy (they basically have the same restrictions).
- Ranged Option = Balthanon's Soulbow Sentinel

CantripN's Battlesmith / Deepstone Sentinel Build

Quote
[SIZE="4"]
Eternal Blade
[/SIZE]
The Eternal Blade is one of the most powerful ToB Prestige Classes - one of only three that grant full BAB, and the only one that doesn't require multiclassing to enter (so maintaining full IL if so desired) - and is therefore a popular choice.  However, a common misconception when optimizing an Eternal Blade is to focus on the abilities that add Intelligence to many things.  These are secondary, the real power comes from using Eternal Training for free action refreshing of your most powerful maneuvers, with the capstone Island in Time ability a superb option either as a tactical response or for nova tactics.

[SIZE="3"]Race[/SIZE]
  • Elf: You've got to be an elf to qualify, so you have little choice here.
  • Sun Elf (FRCS): Loses the Dex bonus and instead gains an Int bonus.  If you're not using Weapon Finesse this is a good trade off.
  • Grey Elf: At first sight this may seem attractive for the +2 Int, but appearances can be deceiving and the loss of Strength will rarely be worth it (Swashbuckler entries are the exception).
  • Wild Elf: An elf without the Con penalty, although it comes at the price of -2 Int.
  • [COLOR="Blue"]Half Elf:[/COLOR] My group(s) haven't played for multiclassing penalties for years (the fact that they make a Half-Elf a better Eternal Blade than a normal elf is a perfect example of why we abandoned them), so if your group is the same ignore the following advice and pick an elf subrace that matches your ability score priorities.  If your DM does enforce xp penalties then they will cripple a lot of Eternal Blade builds, since no elf has a ToB class as a favored class, in which case Half-Elf becomes the best choice allowing for a more optimal division of class levels.
[SIZE="3"]Entry Classes[/SIZE]
  • [COLOR="RoyalBlue"]Crusader:[/COLOR] Access to Devoted Spirit and White Raven (two of the Eternal Blade's disciplines), as well as non-action recovery make this a good choice - the combination of Crusader recovery with Eternal Training allows you to initiate an endless stream of powerful maneuvers.  Furthermore, the comparative lack of swift/immediate action maneuvers available to the Crusader means they will be more likely to take advantage of the Eternal Blade's swift action class abilities, and the healing provided by Devoted Spirit can offset the Con penalty suffered by the elf.  simply ignore Indomitable Soul (use Diamond Mind  counters to cover your will save instead) and this doesn't even add any MAD to the build.  Crusader is especially good when multiclassed with Warblade so as to gain Diamond Mind and Iron Heart maneuvers to allow for later qualification.  The Crusader heavy option would probably be Crusader 8 / Warblade 2, to grant Thicket of Blades and then employ standard Lockdown tactics, with Guided Strike to help you with Crackdown by ensuring that every attack counts.
  • [COLOR="Blue"]Warblade:[/COLOR] The Int focus of the Eternal Blade, and Warblade's access to Diamond Mind, Iron Heart and White Raven seemingly make this the default entry class, but for the reasons cited above I'm actually of the opinion Crusader is the superior choice.  Warblade 7 is a good break point for Int synergy purposes (although Battle Cunning doesn't actually stack with Eternal Training since both provide Insight bonuses), although Warblade 10 also offers a second bonus feat and a 5th level stance.  Multiclassing with Crusader for Devoted Spirit maneuvers is also a good option - either Warblade 7 / Crusader 3 or Warblade 9 / Crusader 1.
  • Swordsage: At first sight you might think this a good choice, with its access to Diamond Mind maneuvers and free Weapon Focus for the prerequisite.  However, Swordsage offers no overlap with the Eternal Blade's other disciplines, possibly adds Wisdom to your build (normally a dump stat) and the lost point of BAB delays your entry - meaning you cannot get Island in Time before epic levels.
  • Swashbuckler (CWar): 3 levels for Intelligence to damage and Weapon Finesse (either to dual wield short swords or with an elven courtblade) make this a good choice for a Grey Elf, Swashbuckler 3 / Warblade 7 grants Int to damage twice before even starting Eternal Blade and still ensures you pick up a 9th level maneuver at EB 9.
  • [COLOR="Red"]Factotum (Dungeonscape):[/COLOR] The 3rd level ability to add Int to Str and Dex checks/skills has potential as part of a tripping build, the downside is the lost point of BAB, slower entry to Eternal Blade and lost Initiator Level - not worth it if you ask me.
[SIZE="3"]Class Features[/SIZE]
  • [COLOR="RoyalBlue"]Eternal Training:[/COLOR] Int to attacks and damage you say?  Its a trap say I!  The real power of this ability is using it to refresh a powerful maneuver to use again in an encounter, or to pick up a maneuver you don't have access to on your list.  An extra Time Stands Still or Strike of Righteous Vitality are better than Int to attacks and damage.  Also, "you can use this ability only once per encounter", and since if you were to use it for Int bonus it would obviously be best to use it at the start of an encounter, to maximize the benefit, I strongly suggest saving it for the maneuver at a pivotal point in the encounter.
  • [COLOR="RoyalBlue"]Guided Strike:[/COLOR] Uses your swift action for the round, but can be used an unlimited number of times per day, making this an excellent ability - even after you've expended all your maneuvers you can use this to maintain a very respectable damage output.  A 2-level dip for this ability is certainly justifiable, any more than that and you may as well go the whole way.
  • Armored Uncanny Dodge: Someone wasn't paying attention when they wrote this - you can use uncanny dodge while wearing armor normally.  Still, with a Warblade 2 entry this boosts you up to Improved Uncanny Dodge to thwart sneak attackers, and even without Uncanny Dodge never did anyone any harm
  • Eternal Knowledge: In and of itself this ability is handy without being amazing (with all 10 levels it amounts to 50 free skill points).  An interesting trick is to take the Knowledge Devotion feat (see below).
  • [COLOR="Blue"]Defensive Insight:[/COLOR] There is nothing intrinsically wrong with this ability, but where it falls down is that its competing for your swift action with Guided Strike, Warblade maneuver recovery and any swift/immediate actions boosts and counters you have, meaning it will often be a sub par choice.  That said, if you have nothing to use your swift action on Int to AC is better than a kick in the teeth, and if you opt for a Crusader-dominant entry you won't have as many swift action maneuvers competing with the ability.
  • [COLOR="Blue"]Tactical Insight:[/COLOR] Like Defensive Insight, the problem with this is what its competing with for your actions.  Useful if you have a hard-hitting ally (e.g. a Power Attacking Frenzied Berzerker).  Where these two abilities are good is in that they provide you with excellent staying power even if you run out of maneuvers, so use these abilities on weak mooks and unleash the maneuvers on the BBEG.
  • [COLOR="RoyalBlue"]Island in Time:[/COLOR] Once per encounter you get an extra turn.  This is well worth sticking through to the end of the class for, and there are two main uses for this ability:
         Nova: You can use your normal turn to make 2 full attacks using Time Stands Still, then use Island in Time to act immediately after your turn, use Eternal Training to regain Time Stands Still and make another 2 full attacks.  This can be used for both normal full attacks, or as a way of immediately gaining the benefits of Stormguard Warrior's Combat Rhythm, Shards of Granite's Unstoppable Onslaught before your opponent has a chance to react and nullify your bonuses, or just for normal full attacks.  There's very little that can take this kind of a beating (Time Stands Still is just one example of a powerful combo, there are lots).
         Interruption/Interception: The fact that this ability is an immediate action allows you to use it to block your enemies offensive moves.  Enemy caster casting a spell?  Act quickly and smash his face in to force a nice high Concentration check.  Enemy bruiser charging your party's squishy wizard?  Act quickly and stand before the brute.  A superb tactical advantage.
[SIZE="3"]Feats[/SIZE]
This is just a list of feats of specific use to the Eternal Blade, I suggest you consult the Crusader/Swordsage/Warblade sections for more ideas depending on what your entry to the class is.
  • [COLOR="Blue"]Knowledge Devotion (Complete Champion):[/COLOR] Use your Eternal Knowledge ability to make the checks and with a decent Int you should be able to get a reliable +3 bonus to attacks and damage without having to expend any actions or even skill points.  The relevant knowledge areas to choose for this purpose are: Arcana (constructs, dragons, magical beasts), Dungeoneering (aberrations, oozes), Local (humanoids), Nature (animals, fey, giants, monstrous humanoids, plants, vermin), Religion (undead) and Planes (elementals, outsiders), the exact choice you make will depend on the nature of your campaign - you know what your DM likes better than me.
[SIZE="3"]Maneuvers[/SIZE]
Generally speaking the same maneuvers listed in the Discipline Focus section continue to hold true.  A word of warning though - take counters with your normal maneuver picks, taking them with Eternal Training will likely amount to bolting the stable door once the horse has bolted.  Specific to the Eternal Blade; it's a good idea to fit in a few maneuvers from both the Devoted Spirit and Diamond mind disciplines, that way you can qualify for a wider selection of choices when using your Eternal Training ability.  This is part of why I personally prefer a Warblade/Crusader entry.
  • Devoted Spirit: Foehammer makes for a good 0-prerequisite entry point to this discipline, while stances reliant on number of attacks made (e.g. Martial Spirit, Auras of Triumph) gain increased benefit when using Island in Time.  Healing strikes and stances can also go some way towards compensating for low hit points if you've opted for an elven subrace with a Con penalty.
  • Diamond Mind: If you do go for a counter heavy list of maneuvers try and fit in Stance of Alacrity (possibly via a feat at 18th level) - this will reduce the already intense competition for your swift actions that Eternal Blades face.
  • Iron Heart: The usual good choices apply.
  • White Raven: The usual good choices apply.
[SIZE="3"]Build Stubs[/SIZE]
As ever, the timing of your levels is important since it determines the level of maneuver known - many of these would best be played using a "leapfrog" pattern between the Martial Adept classes, and by taking levels in non-MArtial Adept classes first.
    • Half-elf Crusader 8 / Warblade 1 / Fighter 1 / Eternal Balde 10 - Lockdown version
    • Half-elf Warblade 9 / Crusader 1 / Eternal Blade 10 - Crackdown version[/B]
    • Basic Elf Warblade 10 / Eternal Blade 10 - 10 is a good break point for a Warblade, with 2 bonus feats, Int to flanking damage and a 5th level stance
    • Basic Wild Elf Crusader 10 / Eternal Blade 10 - with no Con penalty and a Crusader base this makes for a very survivable build, especially for an elf
    • Half Elf Warblade 7 / Crusader 3 / Eternal Blade 10 - a good tank version of an Eternal Blade
    • Half Elf Swashbuckler 3 / Warblade 7 / Eternal Balde 10 - probably the strongest Int synergy possible
    • Grey Elf Swashbuckler 3 / Warblade 4 / Crusader 3 / Eternal Blade 10 - need to avoid multiclassing xp penalties ruins the Grey Elf version tbh
    • JanusJones' Revenant Blade Handbook - includes two builds, one with the full 10 levels of Eternal Blade and one Warblade predominant with a 2 level dip
    • (Half Elf Crusader 4 / Cleric 1 OR Elf Crusader 3 / Cleric 2) / Ruby Knight Vindicator 7 / Eternal Blade 8 - late blooming, but extra swift actions and divine buff spells can combine very well with the Eternal Blade

    [SIZE="4"]
    Jade Phoenix Mage
    [/SIZE]
    - Recommend Crusader entry in order to qualify for higher level Devoted Spirit maneuvers, as well as for its no-action recovery method.
    - Wizard 5 / Crusader 1 / JPM 4 / Abj Cha 4 / JPM +6 (9th level spells, 8th level maneuvers)
    - Sorc 4 / Crusader 2 / JPM 4 / Abj Cha 4 / JPM +6 (Charisma synergy, 8th level spells, 8th level maneuvers)
    - Bard 4 / Crusader 2 / JPM 4 / Sublime Chord 2 / Abj Cha or Sacred Exorcist 2 / JPM +6 (Cha synergy, 9th level spells + 8th level maneuvers)

    [SIZE="4"]
    Master of Nine
    [/SIZE]
    List of sources of sources of prereq feats as bonus feats
    • Cleric 1 - Darkness domain (Blind-Fight), Time domain (Improved Initiative)
    • Cobra Strike Monk 1 (UA/SRD) - Dodge and Improved Unarmed Strike
    • Monk 1 - Improved Unarmed Strike
    • Swordsage (Unarmed variant) - Improved Unarmed Strike
    • Warblade bonus feats - Blind-Fight, Improved Initiative
    • Kobold Fighter 1 sub level - swaps heavy armour proficiency for the Dodge feat (good for a Swordsage entry, since you'll likely be in light armour for the Wis to AC anyway).

    - Hypothetical builds on the boards tend to time this class for late in the build so as to acquire high level maneuvers.  But if you're not starting at a high level then entering early has its benefits (e.g. I'm a big fan of Dual Stance so would want it asap), and it gives you full progression of your likely ultiple Martial Adept classes ready to re-enter them for some higher level maneuver swaps.  In practice I would compromise, take 2/3 MoN levels as early as I could manage and then leave the rest for high level maneuver acquisition and a high level stance of choice (nb: 8th level maneuvers are often better than the 9th level ones imho).
    - Counter Stance + Stance of Alacrity combo
    - Mastery of Nine: ready at start of day from as many disciplines as possible to maximize bonus, then spend 5 minutes changing them as desired.
    - Becoming Reshar: True Mastery of the Nine Swords by Gideon_Gideonson – access to all 9 9th level maneuvers

    DavidWL's Swordsage 1/Cleric 1/Monk 1/Crusader 2/Ruby Knight Vindicator 10/Master of Nine 5
    - Darkness and Time domains + Cobra Strike Monk mean 4/5 of the MoN prereq feats are bonus feats, also gets the RKV extra swift action (for swift action recovery, swift action spells - possibly with DMM (Quicken) - and swift action maneuvers).  While slow to start this gets very powerful.

    [SIZE="4"]
    Ruby Knight Vindicator
    [/SIZE]
    - spells heavy Cleric 4 / Crusader 1 entry version
    - maneuvers heavy Crusader 4 / Cleric 1 entry version
    - Ordained Vindicator: Cleric 4 / Ordained Champion 5 / Crusader 1 / Ruby Knight Vindicator 10 (requires adaptation of fluff - consult your DM - since Ordained Champion and RKV are devoted to different deities by the book)
    - Ur-Vindicator: Swordsage 2 / Crusader 3 / Ur Priest 2 / Ruby Knight Vindicator 10 / X 3 (requires adaptation of fluff to allow an Ur Priest to qualify for the deity worshipping RKV)

    Furthermore, the ability to get extra swift actions is generally awesome, and its potential for optimization huge.  I hold to what I regard as the only sane interpretation limiting it to only one extra swift action per round, but even with that caveat this class is very powerful.

    - Metus Somnambulus (Dread Sleepwalker) by AllistairAldred - combining Ruby Knight Vindicator with Telflammar Shadowlord

    [SIZE="4"]
    Shadow Sun Ninja
    [/SIZE]
    - Necropolitan template (or any undead really, but Necropolitan is cheapest one) means you can ignore level drain from the 10th level ability.
    - "Flash Bang Ninja" build based around conmstant sneak attacking - does anyone have a link to this?
    - prototype00's SSN/MoN build = http://forums.gleemax.com/showpost.php?p=9810563#post9810563
    « Last Edit: May 24, 2008, 09:55:39 AM by DaveTheMagicWeasel » Logged

    DaveTheMagicWeasel
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    « Reply #6 on: May 24, 2008, 09:52:22 AM »

    [SIZE="5"]Discipline Focus[/SIZE][/B]

    Quote
    [SIZE="3"]Desert Wind[/SIZE]

    The oft-commented upon disadvantage of this discipline is its reliance on fire damage, which is the most commonly resisted form of elemental damage. For this reason it is a discipline best dabbled in rather than strongly focused on, providing as it does bonus damage and mobility.

    Choice Maneuvers:
    • Burning/Searing/Inferno Blade (Boost 1/4/7): Easy to qualify for boosts to your full attack damage.  Unlike most chains of maneuvers there is no cap on the +IL to damage, meaning that these maneuvers remain useful into high levels.
    • Burning Brand (Boost 2): Grant yourself +5 ft. reach, dealing fire damage while you do.  Good for battlefield control builds.
    • Flashing Sun (Strike 2): Grants you flurry for a single round, and extra attacks are always useful.  As usual with extra attacks, bonus damage is the optimal choice - a good low-level combo is to use Burning Blade as a boost and then full attack with this maneuver.
    • Firesnake (Strike 4): A situational choice, but if your DM likes to employ large numbers of mooks you can get some good use out of this.
    • Searing Charge (Strike 4): The ability to fly is a valuable tactical advantage, and if you have a Ring of Feather Fall you can use it to leap into the air and attack flying opponents.
    • Leaping Flame (Counter 5): An incredibly useful anti-archer tactic, allowing you to respond with a full-attack of your own.  Can also be used to leap adjacent to an opponent attacking you with superior reach.
    • Ring of Fire (Boost 6): If your speed is maximized (e.g. you're planning on optimizing Tornado Throw) then you can surround a very large area with this.  Just be careful where your allies are stood.
    • Salamander Charge (strike 7): The ability to charge in a non-straight line is useful enough for charger builds, leaving a trail of destruction in your wake as you tumble through the legs of minions is a stylish extra touch.

    Tactical Feat: Scorching Sirocco

    Quote
    [SIZE="3"]Devoted Spirit[/SIZE]

    Based around healing abilities, battlefield control and applying penalties to your opponents.  This is one of the strongest disciplines and will likely be central to any Crusader build.  It does lack counters and maneuverability, both of which can be added to a Crusader with a Swordsage/Warblade dip if desired.

    A number of the maneuvers are dependent on your target being a different alignment to you, the usefulness of these maneuvers consequently depends in part on your DMs style and preferred opponents.  But to be honest, the alignment based ones aren't the best ones anyway so its a minor point.

    Choice Maneuvers:
      Crusader's Strike (Strike 1): A good source of low-level healing, which you can use every third round if you take Extra Granted Maneuver.  As you level up the healing becomes trivial and the sacrifice of iterative attacks/better strikes make this something to be swapped out later.
    • Iron Guard's Glare (Stance 1): Combined with a reach weapon this can grant most of your party a de facto +4 AC.  Especially useful in tight spaces (i.e. your stereotypical dungeon corridor).
    • Martial Spirit (Stance 1): Normally your first choice of stance, provides aconstant flow of healing.  Anything that grants extra attacks is useful here - reach and Combat Reflexes are the usual method.
    • Foehammer (Strike 2): No prerequisites and punches through DR.  This levels well and unlike its Stone Dragon counterparts has no requirement to stand on the earth.
    • Thicket of Blades (Stance 3): The basic building block of most battlefield control Crusader builds.  This is likely a big part of why you took the class to begin with and should be your default stance.
    • Revitalizing Strike (Strike 3): A good option to swap Crusader's Strike out for, although the alignment requirement may prove annoying at times.
    • Divine Surge (Strike 4): A good damage bonus for its level.
    • Aura of Chaos (Stance 6): Useful in general, but in particular in combination with strikes that add damage dice (e.g. Divine Surge or Stone Dragon Strikes), or for a Jade Phoenix Mage using Arcane Strike (lots of dice to roll high).
    • Aura of Perfect Order (Stance 6): Allows you to avoid auto-failing your saves, guarantee a reasonable roll on important attacks, or take 11 on Concentration checks or Jump checks for Diamond Mind/Tiger Claw maneuvers.
    • Rallying Strike (Strike 6): Burst healing for your allies.  especially useful to a large party with cohorts, animal companions and summons in tight formation.
    • Greater Divine Surge (Strike 8): This can be incredibly powerful with a way to quickly heal the Con damage, or make it trivial.  A Belt of Battle so as to follow this strike with a Strike of Righteous Vitality is a good option, the Immortal Fortitude stance a less advisable course of action (your lowered Fort save means you may fail, and you are still vulnerable to ability damage).  There is also the Body Ward spell in Complete Champion (for RKV builds, or just if you have a Cleric ally), which lasts 1 min per level and allows you to ignore 5 points of Constitution damage, so use this as a pre-combat buff and you can quite happily trade in 5 points of Con damage for an extra +5 to hit and +10d8 damage without lowering your Con.
    • Strike of Righteous Vitality (Strike 9): Heal is enormously useful both for party healing and giving you an incredible amount of endurance.  And with Extra Granted Maneuver you can do it every third round.

    Tactical Feat: Faith Unswering

    Quote
    [SIZE="3"]Diamond Mind[/SIZE]

    This is potentially one of the most powerful disciplines, but the dependence upon Concentration checks makes it a case of (nearly) all-or-nothing.  Characterized by a good mix of counters and strikes, as well as mobility and initiative manipulating maneuvers.

    This discipline synergizes well with Psionics, both in terms of a common reliance on Concentration checks and in thematic terms.  JanusJones' Meditant is an example of a build that utilizes this synergy.

    Concentration check optimization:
    • Steady Concentration (Races of Stone): Take 10 on Concentration checks.  While Psionic Focus gives a better check, you can use this multiple times in a round (e.g. on a strike and a counter) and without needing to spend actions recovering your focus.
    • Psionic Focus (XPH): expend to take 15 on concentration check, but need to refocus makes this less useful than Steady Concentration imo.  If you do take it then I recommend picking up Psionic Meditation and Hustle if possible.
    • Psychic Warrior 2/4: Use to pick up the ability to psionically focus and some bonus feats.  The Psionic Meditation feats (focus as move action) and the hustle power (take move action as swift action) is a good combo to pick up.
    • Instant Clarity (ToB): 3/day regain psionic focus as a swift action after initiating a strike.  So, blow your focus on a Diamond Mind Strike and get it right back again for the next one!
    • Tunic of Steady Spellcasting (MIC, p. 144): +5 competence bonus to Concentration checks.
    • Third Eye Concentrate (MIC. p. 141): item for +10 competence bonus to Concentration checks.
    • Aura of Perfect Order (Devoted Spirit Stance 6): take 11 on one dice roll per round (e.g. take 11 on Concentration checks).
    Choice Maneuvers:
    • Moment of Perfect Mind/Action Before Thought/Mind Over Body (Counter 1/2/3): Replace your saves with Concentration checks.  Not only is this a good way to cover up a weak save but it also means you no longer automatical;y fail on a '1'.
    • Emerald Razor (Strike 2): Touch attacks combined with Power Attack make for good damage.
    • (Greater) Insightful Strike (Strike 3/6): Use either your Concentration check, or double your check, to determine damage.  If you're maxed out Concentration (see above) then this makes for good damage.  If you haven't maxed out your Concentration check then I have to ask why you're reading the Diamond Mind section?
    • Pearl of Black Doubt (Stance 3): Extra AC is always nice, and against multiple attacks the bonus can stack up pretty nicely.  It's good but not quite amazing, you see the problem is that the bonus is at it's highest against your opponent's weakest iterative attacks, and at it's lowest against the most potent attacks.  Using a counter against the first attack is one option to start the bonuses flowing, and against creatures with multiple natural attacks (hydras being a classic example) it's excellent.  Also synergizes well with Robilar's Gambit.
    • Bounding Assault (Strike 4): Lets you charge without having to move in a straight line, a massive boon for charger builds.
    • Ruby/Diamond Nightmare Blade (Strike 4/8): x2 or x4 damage makes for very potent strikes, especially when combined with Power Attack and a way to fuel the penalties (e.g. Deep Impact from the XPH).
    • Hearing the Air (Stance 5): A good choice to give you an anti-invisible/incorporeal tactic, the bonus to Listen checks also makes this a good stance to stay in when out of combat.
    • Rapid Counter (Counter 5): Grants an extra AoO, good when combined with Robilar's Gambit or battlefield control builds (take a second shot at that missed AoO).
    • Moment of Alacrity (Boost 6): Celerity-lite, can basically give you 2 turns in a row, which comes in very handy with Stormguard Warrior.
    • Avalanche of Blades (Strike 7): Good for warming-up Stormguard Warrior, otherwise you're often better off with a normal full-attack.
    • Quicksilver Motion (Boost 7): Take a move action as a swift action.  Great for maneuverability (move and full attack, move into position and then charge, etc) but also good for any psionic Martial Adepts using Psionic Meditation, or to allow you to use a move action maneuver (e.g. Order Forged From Chaos) in the same round as a full-attack or charge of your own.
    • Stance of Alacrity (Stance 8): Grants you an extra immediate action each round, allowing you to use counters with impunity and still use swift action boosts in the following round.  The Master of Nine's Counter Stance ability is a nice combo with this stance.
    • Time Stands Still (Strike 9): One of the strongest 9th level maneuvers.  Combines well with Stormguard Warrior, Girallon Windmill Flesh Rip, or virtually any boost in the game, but even on its own getting double the usual number of attacks is a very powerful option.

    Tactical Feat: Perfect Clarity of Mind and Body

    Quote
    [SIZE="3"]Iron Heart[/SIZE]

    Choice Maneuvers:
    • Punishing Stance (Stance 1): This is a good low level damage boost, with a Greatsword and this stance you can be reliably one-shotting low-CR opponents.
    • Steel Wind (Strike 1): A good low-level mook killer, especially if you're in Punishing Stance while you use it.
    • Wall of Blades (Counter 2): If your attack roll is significantly better than your AC (and as a low level Warblade, it probably is) then this is a useful counter.  At low levels this is useful to cover your back when in Punishing Stance, but when its combined with the Heedless Charge ability of the Shock Trooper feat this becomes an essential choice.  This is also a very good defence against touch attacks - from incorporeal undead, ray spells, etc.
    • Iron Heart Surge (Boost 3): Removing adverse conditions can be an absolute life-saver.  The need to be able to move and in control of your actions rules out some conditions but this is an excellent choice that will be useful at any level.  Add in the Mad Foam Rager feat (PHB 2) and it gets even better.
    • Lightning Recovery (Counter 4): The stage is set, the chips are down and so you swing your sword in a graceful arc as you bring your most powerful strike to bear upon the beast's head, and as you roll your dice you mutter a quick prayer "anything but a 1".  Well, with this maneuver thats no longer a problem.  Its also useful to maintain an Avalanche of Blades when warming-up for Stormguard Warrior.
    • Iron Heart Focus (Counter 5): Re-roll a failed save.  A good defence against nasty save-or-dies, domination effects, etc
    • Iron Heart Endurance (Boost 6): Swift action healing.  Not the best maneuver out there, but in combat healing is a nice ability.
    • Supreme Blade Parry (Stance 8): DR 5/- is very nice, and is useful in absolutely any situation (unlike a number of rather more situational 8th level stances).
    Tactical Feat: Stormguard Warrior (with a nod towards CantripN)
    Stormguard Warrior has 3 tactical options:
    Channel the Storm - +4 Attack & Damage for every AOO you refrain from taking. This part has no limit on use per round, unlike AOOs, and provides you with a major boost to attack and damage (esp. with Power Attack thrown in) during your turn - much better than a few attacks that may or may not hit and wouldn't deal any substantial damage. It helps if you have a method for reliably generating AOOs like Robilar's Gambit (PHb2), Karmic Strike (CWar), Thicket of Blades, Defensive Rebuke or some such... (also less reliable options worth tacking on top of one of these - such as Defensive Sweep (PHB2), Hold the Line (CWar), etc)
    Combat Rhythm - This one boosts your damage alone on the next round by making Touch Attacks during your turn. This has 2 main uses: 1 - When you have a lot of attacks for some reason (Natural Weapons, Raging Mongoose, Time Stands Still, Avalanche of Blades), you can get a very impressive damage for the next round, assuring swift death. 2 - Iterative attacks. Those aren't usually likely to hit, so if you get the impression that your chance to hit with your 2nd, 3rd or 4th iterative is slim to none, make a Touch Attack to get a damage boost for next round at no real loss.
    Fight the Horde - Nothing too impressive, but it makes Fighting Defensively better, and with Combat Expertise it makes it REALLY good.

    note on methods to follow an opponent who flees from round 2 of combat rhythm - sudden leap, shadow blink, quicksilver motion, pounce/pouncing charge, shadow pounce, mirrored pursuit.

    Quote
    [SIZE="3"]Setting Sun[/SIZE]

    Setting Sun is an excellent battlefield control discipline, with a good number of tactically useful counters.  This discipline is particularly useful to Dex-heavy builds by allowing you to use Dex instead of Str when making your trip checks with its throws.  A Swordsage focused on this discipline can make for a very effective, if unconventional, tank.

    Choice Maneuvers:
    • Counter Charge (Counter 1): A good defense for hit-and-run builds that remains useful even into high levels.
    • Mighty Throw (Strike 1): Allows you to use Dex for your trip check if so desired and to toss them away from you (so even if they can stand as a free action they still can't full-attack anyone).  A debuff that allows you to control your opponent's position.
    • Step of the Wind (Stance 1): How useful this is depends on how much attention your DM pays to difficult terrain in your encounters - if he/she sticks you in flat 20 x 20 rooms all the time this will be a waste.  One good trick is to take 3 levels of Knight so as to always get the stance's benefit against your opponents.
    • Feigned Opening (Counter 3): A useful way to draw an opponent's AoO to protect a weaker ally, and generally useful if your attack is stronger than your opponents.
    • Comet Throw (Strike 4): Throw your opponent into their friend to leave both of them prone, damaged and removed from your position.  Excellent battlefield control.
    • Mirrored Pursuit (Counter 5): Keep an opponent inside your threatened area and be sure to get a full-attack in the next round.
    • Shifting Defense (Stance 5): Use to move away from a full-attacking opponent so they can't get you with their iterative attacks.
    • Hydra Slaying Strike (Strike 7): Denies your opponent a full-attack, and doesn't allow a save.  Just don't use it on casters - they don't care.
    • Fool's Strike (Counter 8): A non-situational version of Scorpion Parry.  You avoid attacks while your opponent takes the hit allowing you to stand toe-to-toe with more powerful opponents.
    • Ghostly Defence (Stance 8): If you can find a reliable way to gain concealment this stance is incredible.  A Master of Nine using this stance, Child of Shadow, and the Gloom Razor feat all at the same time makes for a very potent defense.
    • Tornado Throw (Strike 9): Maximize your speed and the trip check on this can get obscene.  If possible, toss around a few mooks as you approach the BBEG.

    Tactical Feat: Distant Horizon

    Quote
    [SIZE="3"]Shadow Hand[/SIZE]

    This discipline focuses on stealth, maneuverability and strikes that debuff your opponents, with many maneuvers requiring you to strike a flat-footed opponent.  Fortunately it also provides the Gloom Razor tactical feat as an excellent way to make your targets flat-footed.  Synergizes well with sneak attacking and if you build around it this is one of the best disciplines.

    Choice Maneuvers:
    • Child of Shadow (Stance 1): Since Swordsages are often on the move this is an excellent low-level stance, and synergizes with both Shadow Blade and Gloom Razor.
    • Island of Blades (Stance 1): For a sneak attacker (such as a rogue multiclassing into Swordsage) this is an excellent choice.  Without sneak attack dice Child of Shadow is probably the better choice.
    • Clinging Shadow Strike/Obscuring Shadow Veil (Strike 1/4): Good debuffing strikes with Gloom Razor synergy.
    • Shadow Blade Technique (Strike 1): As a general rule forget about the cold damage - it's a trap - instead choose the higher of the dice rolls and increase your chance of hitting.
    • Shadow Jaunt/Stride/Blink (2/5/7): Requiring no prerequisites these are excellent choices for anyone able to access Shadow Hand maneuvers adding a very useful maneuverability.  Shadow Stride combined with a strike of choice, or Shadow Blink followed by a full-attack are excellent combos.
    • Assasin's Stance (Stance 3): The default stance for Shadow Blade builds, also allows you to qualify for the Craven feat (Champions of Ruin) for some extra damage.
    • Dance of the Spider (Stance 3): If you already have a default combat stance then this adds a good amount of maneuverability and out of combat utility.
    • Hand of Death (Strike 4): Your target has to be flat-footed and gets a Fort save, but if you can get this through then it can finish an encounter in a single round.
    • Stalker in the Night (Strike 6): Spring Attack without having to spend 3 feats on it, and you get to Hide at the end of it.  Awesome.
    • One With Shadow (Counter 8): A good all-purpose counter, especially against creatures without magical weapons.
    • Five Shadow Creeping Enervation Strike (Strike 9): While it is somewhat unreliable the combination of a fistful of damage dice and ability damage is a potent attack.

    Tactical Feat: Gloom Razor
    - sneak attack synergy

    Quote
    [SIZE="3"]Stone Dragon[/SIZE]
    The first point to make about this discipline is the easily missed requirement on page 81 (in that little bit of text at the start, you know, the one you assumed was fluff and skipped over?) that "Stone Dragon maneuvers can be initiated only if you are in contact with the ground."

    Generally speaking this discipline is characterized by its large number of standard action strikes (which do good damage for their level) and by the small number of prerequisites required to take its maneuvers.  A good standard action is missing from many melee characters, making this a good discipline to cherry pick maneuvers from.

    Choice Maneuvers:
    • Stone Bones (Strike 1): Very useful at low levels as almost no opponent will have an adamantine weapon making tis virtual immunity to damage for a single round.  At later levels this becomes rather trivial so is a prime candidate to be swapped out.
    • Stonefoot Stance (Srance 1): Look in the Monster Manual at how many of the critters are large, ir even bigger.  How would you like a flat +2 AC against all of them?  The bonus on Strength checks is also nice - makes this a good choice for Tripping builds.
    • (Elder/Ancient) Mountain Hammer (Strike 2/5/7): Combine an impressive damage boost (useful against any target) with the ability to ignore Damage Reduction.  The harder your opponent is to hurt the better these strikes are.
    • Roots of the Mountain (Stance 3): A bonus to resist combat maneuvers (useful as an anti-grapple measure - and no-one likes being swallowed whole), a small amount of DR and increased difficulty to tumble through your threatened area (useful with a reach weapon).  A good default stance that will be useful in any situation.
    • Crushing Vise (Strike 6): Stops your opponent from moving, made good by the fact that it doesn't allow a save.
    • Irresistible Mountain Strike (Strike 6): forces your opponent to save or lose his standard action - meaning he can't full-attack you, cast a standard action spell, or make a standard action attack.  A very nice debuff.
    • Mountain Tombstone Strike (Strike 9): the only 9th level maneuver that has no prerequisite requirements, making this a useful choice to fill in a gap.  Best used against opponents with lots of hit dice (Giants, Tarrasque, etc) who will lose more hit points due to the Con damage.  Also useful if your party Wizard uses a lot fo Fort save spells as a way of weakening them against a save-or-die.
    Tactical Feat: Shards of Granite
    - ability to ignore DR, combo with Stormguard (can afford to take -5 penalty on touch attacks, then ignore DR on second round of carnage, also takes the edge off Robilar's Gambit is using in-between rounds to fuel Channel the Storm)

    Quote
    [SIZE="3"]Tiger Claw[/SIZE]

    The Tiger Claw school is characterized by its 'feral' character.  In mechanical terms this translates into a focus on damaging strikes and boosts, often centred around large numbers of attacks or the use of the jump skill.  If you invest in increasing your jump skill then its worth making a heavy investment in this discipline, otherwise it is more likely something to be dipped into selectively.

    Jump Check Optimization:
    • Base speed increases: probably the best 3.5 option would be a Xeph (XPH) with Extra Xeph Burst (Complete Psionic).  This also gives you access to psionic feats and classes which have potential use (notably War Mind and Deep Impact).
    • Run: only worth mentioning because it’s a Warblade feat.
    • Leap of the Heavens (PHB2): No penalty for standing jumps and a competence bonus on running jumps.
    • Leaping Dragon Stance (TC 3): +10 foot enhancement bonus on Jump checks and all jumps are running jumps.  The fact that this increases the distance you jump is very unusual, but taking the book at its word means that if you are in this stance and make any kind of vertical jump then you will jump high enough to trigger Battle Jump against a medium opponent, and it lowers the DC against larger opponents substantially (becomes a DC 20 Jump check for a large opponent, DC 40 for Huge, etc).  But unless you are taking Battle Jump this is a poor stance (compared to other 3rd level stances anyway).  So, take Lion Totem Barbarian (Complete Champion) for pounce and the Battle Jump feat, and then use Sudden Leap whilst in this stance and you can full attack, dealing double damage, as a swift action in addition to your usual full-attack routine.
    • Boots of Striding and Springing (DMG): competence bonus to jump checks in addition to the +4 for the speed increase – very nice.
    • Ring of Jumping (DMG): competence bonus on jump checks.  At low levels I’d prefer the boots, and at high levels there are better things for a ring slot.
    • Blade Dancer (Oriental Adventures): large bonuses on Jump checks (not just the +30 competence, the enormous base speed increase as well), but at the expense of 3 feats and the los of Initiator Levels.  For a Battle Jump build the bonuses could be worth it but otherwise maintaining your IL is probably the better choice.
    • Leap Attack (Complete Adventurer): hard to actually combine with maneuvers (Pouncing Charge is the best choice), but if you’re optimizing Jump checks anyway you may as well pick this up as well.
    • Battle Jump (Unapproachable East): Potentially awesome.  This feat means that anytime you drop from at least 5 feet above your opponent it triggers a charge dealing double damage.  So, with a good enough jump check you can leap up as part of a Tiger Claw maneuver, go above the opponent and trigger Battle Jump.  After that it becomes a matter of adding as much charge synergy to your build as possible - pounce (Lion Totem Barbarian 1 is teh ideal dip), Shock Trooper (Heedless Charge), Leap Attack and the like (and if you charged in the previous round then Combat Brute (Momentum Swing) will also be triggered by this).  Note that in order to be able to do this you need to be able to hit a jump DC of 40 (reliably!) in order to jump to 10 feet in height and thereby trigger Battle Jump against a medium opponent, whilst a DC 60 jump check is required against a large opponent.  The Leap of the Heavens feat to allow you to accomplish this from standing jumps, a high base speed and as many jump check boosting items as you can afford will be required - this is an all or nothing trick.
    Choice Maneuvers:
    • Blood in the Water (Stance 1): The bonuses from this are uncapped, so this stance is best if you intend to stay in it for an extended period of time, making it a good choice for a dipper.  Dual wielding kukris is the common approach, perhaps with some Bloodclaw Master, and Improved Critical/Keen weapons as soon as you are abe.
    • Hunter's Sense (Stance 1): Handy as an out of combat stance to help avoid being surprised, and in a pinch can help against invisible foes.  Particularly good for a Swordsage / Ranger where the tracking abilities and Wisdom synergy really kick in.
    • Sudden Leap (Boost 1): The main use here is as a pseudo-pounce, allowing you to move and full-attack in the same round.  Combined with Battle Jump you can end up with an extra full-attack as a swift action.
    • Wolverine Stance (Stance 3): While it won't be first on your wish list this is a good stance to have in reserve - there are a lot of monsters with enormous grapple modifiers, so having something up your sleeve for dealing with them is never a bad idea.
    • Dancing/Raging Mongoose (Boost 5/8): Extra attacks can be put to good use by almost any character.  The maxim that bonus damage requires extra attacks requires in reverse here - extra attacks mean you should look for bonus damage.
    • Pouncing Charge (Strike 5): For a charge-focused build I'd suggest a dip into Lion Totem Barbarian instead, but for a build that just wants a quick charge option added to the mix this is a good choice.
    • Rabid Bear Strike (Strike 6): A potent standard action strike that provides a good damage boost for its level, albeit with an AC penalty.
    • Swooping Dragon Strike (Strike 7): A good damage boost and a stunning effect.  The stun DC is dependent on your jump check, and the maneuver requires that you jump over your opponent, so if you optimize that jump check and pick up Battle Jump this is a devastating maneuver.  Of course, if you can't jump your way out of a paper bag this is a complete waste of time.
    • Girallon Windmill Flesh Rip (Boost 8): A good damage boost, best used if you have a large number of attacks.  Using it during the warm-up round for Stormguard Warrior is one option since your touch attacks should almost all hit, but even more potent is to use it with Time Stands Still (Diamond Mind 9) on a Two-Weapon Fighting build.

    Tactical Feat: Reaping Talons

    Quote
    [SIZE="3"]White Raven[/SIZE]

    This discipline is all about teamwork and assisting your allies.  This includes a number of maneuvers that grant your allies extra actions - and actions are the most valuable currency in D&D.  The worth of many of its maneuvers are dependent upon having the right party members to take advantage.  Play it clever, tell your teammates what situations you need setting up and you'll get good results.

    If you've ever looked at the Marshal and thought the concept was cool then this is the discipline for you.

    Choice Maneuvers:
    • Leading the Charge (Stance 1): A good source of damage boost that scales throughout the levels (dependent on having charge oriented melee-ers in your party).
    • White Raven Tactics (Boost 3): One of the best maneuvers in the game.  Its power is equal to whatever your most powerful party member is capable of doing in a round and this gets better and better as you level.
    • White Raven Strike (Strike 4): Makes your opponent flat-footed, which is great if there's a rogue in the party, otherwise not such a big deal.
    • Flanking Maneuver (Strike 5): If you're flanking with a friendly damage dealer then this strike can deal very impressive damage.
    • Order Forged From Chaos (Boost 6): Reset your party's formation in response to an unexpected threat, protect weak members of the team and seize strategically important ground.
    • Clarion Call (Boost 7): Tactical repositioning, change formation or capitalize on the gap left by the recently slain opponent.
    • White Raven Hammer (Strike 8): The no-save stun effect on this one is superb.
    • War Master's Charge (Strike 9): This one takes some setting up, but its worth it because if you get it right it gives a good damage boost, no save stunning and free actions to your allies.  Even if your party isn't set up to take advantage of it, a few summoned monsters can fit the bill nicely.

    Tactical Feat: Clarion Commander
    - Feral Dreadlord build
    « Last Edit: May 24, 2008, 09:56:38 AM by DaveTheMagicWeasel » Logged

    DaveTheMagicWeasel
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    « Reply #7 on: May 24, 2008, 09:52:32 AM »

    [SIZE="5"]Choosing Maneuvers[/SIZE]

    Bloodlines (UA/SRD) and Initiator Level: Section coming soon...

    Choosing maneuvers can be an arduous process.  I recommend that you draw up a rough list of desirable maneuvers on scrap paper in advance, then construct a table with Initiator level down one column, a column for each initiating class in the build, and then denote where new maneuvers are gained (e.g. I place "+1", "+2", "Swap", "Stance", etc in the various squares).  Then I work to slot the various maneuvers I want into the appropriate slots, before going back through and latering levels to change Initiator Level progression if needed and fit in prerequisite maneuvers that are needed.

    While doing this I always have the following table open in front of me on my screen in order to quickly check the number of prerequisites for each maneuver (far better list than the one in the book).  In fact, its so useful that I'm copying and pasting it wholesale from the Tricks/Combos/Library Thread:

    Maneuvers Organized by # of Pre-Reqs, Alphabetized, School, & Level
    [/size]
    [sblock][sblock=Desert Wind]Level 1
    Blistering Flourish (Strike, 0)
    Burning Blade (Boost, 0)
    Distracting Ember (Boost, 0)
    Flame’s Blessing (Stance, 0)
    Wind Stride (Boost, 0)
    Level 2
    Burning Brand (Boost, 0)
    Fire Riposte (Counter, 1)
    Flashing Sun (Strike, 1)
    Hatchling’s Flame (Strike, 1)
    Level 3
    Death Mark (Strike, 0)
    Fan the Flames (Strike, 1)
    Holocaust Cloak (Stance, 1)
    Zephyr Dance (Counter, 1)
    Level 4
    Firesnake (Strike, 2)
    Searing Blade (Boost, 2)
    Searing Charge (Strike, 1)
    Level 5
    Dragon’s Flame (Strike, 2)
    Leaping Flame (Counter, 2)
    Lingering Inferno (Strike, 2)
    Level 6
    Desert Tempest (Strike, 2)
    Fiery Assault (Stance, 2)
    Ring of Fire (Strike, 2)
    Level 7
    Inferno Blade (Boost, 0)
    Salamander Charge (Strike, 3)
    Level 8
    Rising Phoenix (Stance, 3)
    Wyrm’s Flame (Strike, 3)
    Level 9
    Inferno Blast (Strike, 5)[/sblock][sblock=Devoted Spirit]Level 1
    Crusader’s Strike (Strike, 0)
    Iron Guard’s Glare (Stance, 0)
    Martial Spirit (Stance, 0)
    Vanguard Strike (Strike, 0)
    Level 2
    Foehammer (Strike, 0)
    Shield Block (Counter, 0)
    Level 3
    Defensive Rebuke (Boost, 1)
    Revitalizing Strike (Strike, 1)
    Thicket of Blades (Stance, 1)
    Level 4
    Divine Surge (Strike, 1)
    Entangling Blade (Strike, 1)
    Level 5
    Daunting Strike (Strike, 1)
    Doom Charge (Strike, 1)
    Law Bearer (Strike, 1)
    Radiant Charge (Strike, 1)
    Tide of Chaose (Strike, 1)
    Level 6
    Aura of Chaos (Stance, 2)
    Aura of Perfect Order (Stance, 2)
    Aura of Triumph (Stance, 2)
    Aura of Tyranny (Stance, 2)
    Rallying Strike (Strike, 2)
    Level 7
    Castigating Strike (Strike, 2)
    Shield Counter (Counter, 2)
    Level 8
    Divine Surge, Greater (Strike, 2)
    Immortal Fortitude (Stance, 3)
    Level 9
    Strike of Righteous Vitality (Strike, 3)[/sblock][sblock=Diamond Mind]Level 1
    Moment of Perfect Mind (Counter, 0)
    Sapphire Nightmare Blade (Strike, 0)
    Stance of Clarity (Stance, 0)
    Level 2
    Action Before Thought (Counter, 0)
    Emerald Razor (Strike, 1)
    Level 3
    Insightful Strike (Strike, 0)
    Mind Over Body (Counter, 0)
    Pearl of Black Doubt (Stance, 1)
    Level 4
    Bounding Assault (Strike, 2)
    Mind Strike (Strike, 2)
    Ruby Nightmare Blade (Strike, 2)
    Level 5
    Disrupting Blow (Strike, 2)
    Hearing the Air (Stance, 2)
    Rapid Counter (Counter, 0)
    Level 6
    Insightful Strike, Greater (Strike, 2)
    Moment of Alacrity (Boost, 2)
    Level 7
    Avalance of Blades (Strike, 3)
    Quicksilver Motion (Boost, 3)
    Level 8
    Diamond Defense (Counter, 0)
    Diamond Nightmare Blade (Strike, 3)
    Stance of Alacrity (Stance, 3)
    Level 9
    Time Stands Still (Strike, 4)[/sblock][sblock=Iron Heart]Level 1
    Punishing Stance (Stance, 0)
    Steel Wind (Strike, 0)
    Steely Strike (Strike, 0)
    Level 2
    Disarming Strike (Strike, 0)
    Wall of Blades (Counter, 0)
    Level 3
    Absolute Steel Stance (Stance, 1)
    Exorcism of Steel (Strike, 1)
    Iron Heart Surge (Other, 1)
    Level 4
    Lightning Recovery (Counter, 2)
    Mithral Tornado (Strike, 2)
    Level 5
    Dancing Blade Form (Stance, 2)
    Dazing Strike (Strike, 2)
    Iron Heart Focus (Counter, 2)
    Level 6
    Iron Heart Endurance (Boost, 2)
    Manticore Parry (Counter, 2)
    Level 7
    Finishing Move (Strike, 3)
    Scything Blade (Boost, 3)
    Level 8
    Adamantine Hurricane (Strike, 3)
    Lightning Throw (Strike, 2)
    Supreme Blade Parry (Stance, 3)
    Level 9
    Strike of Perfect Clarity (Strike, 4)[/sblock][sblock=Setting Sun]Level 1
    Counter Charge (Counter, 0)
    Mighty Throw (Strike, 0)
    Step of the Wind (Stance, 0)
    Level 2
    Baffling Defense (Counter, 1)
    Clever Positioning (Strike, 0)
    Level 3
    Devastating Throw (Strike, 1)
    Feigned Opening (Counter, 1)
    Giant Killing Style (Stance, 1)
    Level 4
    Comet Throw (Strike, 1)
    Strike of the Broken Shield (Strike, 2)
    Level 5
    Mirrored Pursuit (Counter, 2)
    Shifting Defense (Stance, 2)
    Soaring Throw (Strike, 2)
    Stalking Shadow (Counter, 2)
    Level 6
    Ballista Throw (Strike, 2)
    Scorpion Parry (Counter, 2)
    Level 7
    Hydra Slaying Strike (Strike, 3)
    Level 8
    Fool’s Strike (Counter, 3)
    Ghostly Defense (Stance, 3)
    Level 9
    Tornado Throw (Strike, 5)[/sblock][sblock=Shadow Hand]Level 1
    Child of Shadow (Stance, 0)
    Clinging Shadow Strike (Strike, 0)
    Island of Blades (Stance, 0)
    Shadow Blade Technique (Strike, 0)
    Level 2
    Cloak of Deception (Boost, 0)
    Drain Vitality (Strike, 1)
    Shadow Jaunt (Other, 0)
    Level 3
    Assassin’s Stance (Stance, 1)
    Dance of the Spider (Stance, 0)
    Shadow Garrote (Strike, 0)
    Strength Draining Strike (Strike, 1)
    Level 4
    Hand of Death (Strike, 0)
    Obscuring Shadow Veil (Strike, 2)
    Level 5
    Bloodletting Strike (Strike, 2)
    Shadow Strike (Other, 0)
    Step of the Dancing Moth (Stance, 2)
    Level 6
    Ghost Blade (Strike, 3)
    Shadow Noose (Strike, 0)
    Stalker in the Night (Strike, 0)
    Level 7
    Death in the Dark (Strike, 0)
    Shadow Blink (Other, 0)
    Level 8
    Balance on the Sky (Stance, 3)
    Enervating Shadow Strike (Strike, 3)
    One With Shadow (Counter, 3)
    Level 9
    Five-Shadow Creeping Ice Enervation Strike (Strike, 5)[/sblock][sblock=Stone Dragon]Level 1
    Charging Minotaur (Strike, 0)
    Stone Bones (Strike, 0)
    Stonefoot Stance (Stance, 0)
    Level 2
    Mountain Hammer (Strike, 0)
    Stone Vise (Strike, 0)
    Level 3
    Bonecrusher (Strike, 3)
    Crushing Weight of the Mountain (Stance, 1)
    Roots of the Mountain (Stance, 0)
    Stone Dragon’s Fury (Strike, 1)
    Level 4
    Bonesplitting Strike (Strike, 2)
    Boulder Roll (Boost, 4)
    Overwhelming Mountain Strike (Strike, 0)
    Level 5
    Elder Mountain Hammer (Strike, 2)
    Giant’s Stance (Stance, 2)
    Mountain Avalance (Strike, 2)
    Level 6
    Crushing Vice (Strike, 0)
    Iron Bones (Strike, 2)
    Irresistable Mountain Strike (Strike, 0)
    Level 7
    Ancient Mountain Hammer (Strike, 3)
    Colossus Strike (Strike, 2)
    Level 8
    Adamantine Bones (Strike, 3)
    Earthstrike Quake (Strike, 2)
    Strength of Stone (Stance, 3)
    Level 9
    Mountain Tombstone Strike (Strike, 0)[/sblock][sblock=Tiger Claw]Level 1
    Blood in the Water (Stance, 1)
    Hunter's Sense (Stance, 1)
    Sudden Leap (Boost, 1)
    Wolf Fang Strike (Strike, 0)
    Level 2
    Claw at the Moon (Strike, 0)
    Rabid Wolf Strike (Strike, 0)
    Level 3
    Flesh Ripper (Strike, 2)
    Leaping Dragon Stance (Stance 1)
    Soaring Raptor Strike (Strike, 1)
    Wolverine Stance (Stance, 1)
    Level 4
    Death From Above (Strike, 1)
    Fountain of Blood (Boost, 2)
    Level 5
    Dancing Mongoose (Boost, 2)
    Pouncing Charge (Strike, 2)
    Level 6
    Rabid Bear Strike (Strike, 2)
    Wolf Climbs the Mountain (Strike, 2)
    Level 7
    Hamstring Attack (Strike, 3)
    Prey on the Weak (Stance, 2)
    Swooping Dragon Strike (Strike, 3)
    Level 8
    Girallon Windmill Flesh Rip (Boost, 3)
    Raging Mongoose (Boost, 3)
    Wolf Pack Tactics (Stance, 2)
    Level 9
    Feral Death Blow (Strike, 4)[/sblock][sblock=White Raven]Level 1
    Bolstering Voice (Stance, 0)
    Douse the Flames (Strike, 0)
    Leading the Attack (Strike, 0)
    Leading the Charge (Stance, 0)
    Level 2
    Battle Leader’s Charge (Strike, 1)
    Tactical Strike (Strike, 1)
    Level 3
    Lion’s Roar (Boost, 1)
    Tactics of the Wolf (Stance, 1)
    White Raven Tactics (Boost, 1)
    Level 4
    Covering Strike (Boost, 1)
    White Raven Strike (Strike, 1)
    Level 5
    Flanking Maneuver (Strike, 2)
    Press the Advantage (Stance, 2)
    Level 6
    Order Forged From Chaos (Other, 2)
    War Leader’s Charge (Strike, 2)
    Level 7
    Clarion Call (Boost, 3)
    Swarming Assault (Strike, 3)
    Level 8
    Swarm Tactics (Stance, 1)
    White Raven Hammer (Strike, 3)
    Level 9
    War Master’s Charge (Strike, 4)[/sblock][/sblock]
    Thank wingedcoyote for contributing this useful organizational scheme

    And finally, here is CustServ's rather counter-intuitive ruling on order of swapping and qualifying maneuvers:
    [sblock]Oddly enough, according to CustServ, you can qualify for maneuvers and stances according to the maneuvers you have when beginning, but also when finishing.

    Ex:
    Level 3: Wolf Fang Strike
    Level 4: Wolf Fang Strike => Wall of Blades

    Assuming you have no other Tiger Claw nor Iron Heart maneuvers, you can still take either Punishing Stance (Iron) or Blood in the Water (Tiger) as your 4th level stance, even though you lose Wolf Fang Strike (Tiger) and gain Wall of Blades (Iron).

    This is an instance of you choosing the order as benefits you most.[/sblock]
    « Last Edit: May 24, 2008, 09:57:05 AM by DaveTheMagicWeasel » Logged

    DaveTheMagicWeasel
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    « Reply #8 on: May 24, 2008, 09:52:41 AM »

    [SIZE="5"]Magic Items For Martial Adepts[/SIZE]
    [/U][/B]

    Belt of Battle (Magic Item Compendium): Expend charges for extra actions.  This is great for any class, but arguably more so for a Martial Adept who has more uses for their various actions, and who standard (strikes) and swift (boosts actions are often more powerful than normal melee characters.

    Crown of the White Raven and associates (ToB: Very useful way to gain extra maneuvers known, with the novice version being particularly cheap (don't want to choose between Iron Heart Surge and White Raven Tactics for that first 3rd level maneuver?  Well, for 3,000 gp you don't have to choose!).  Also a good way to meet prerequisites for higher level maneuvers.

    Discipline Weapons (ToB): These are strictly better than a simple +1 bonus, and stacking several onto one weapon can amass some very impressive bonuses.

    [SIZE="3"]Magic Items for Crusaders[/SIZE]

    [SIZE="3"]Magic Items for Swordsages[/SIZE]

    Feycraft Weapons (DMG 2): Allows you to use your Dex modifier on to hit rolls without spending a feat on Weapon Finesse at the cost of a trivial loss of damage.  Synergizes very well with Shadow Blade, but its value is in part dependent on how much control over your equipment you have - so if crafters and magic item shops are plentiful its a good choice, with less control over your equipment I'd just take Weapon Finesse.

    [SIZE="3"]Magic Items for Warblades[/SIZE]
    « Last Edit: May 24, 2008, 09:57:30 AM by DaveTheMagicWeasel » Logged

    DaveTheMagicWeasel
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    « Reply #9 on: May 24, 2008, 09:52:53 AM »

    Acknowledgements: basically the whole board for the combined wisdom I've leeched off of for this.  But special mentions for T_G (whose various threads are a big basis of what I've put together here) as well as CantripN and DavidWL (whose posts have been cannibalized for certain sections).
    « Last Edit: May 24, 2008, 09:57:40 AM by DaveTheMagicWeasel » Logged

    DaveTheMagicWeasel
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    If you optimize it, they will come


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    « Reply #10 on: May 24, 2008, 09:53:42 AM »

    Okay, so the formatting differences have caused a lot of damage to this.  I might fix it if I find time, but tbh if I find time to do some work on it I'm more inclined to flesh out the Prestige Class sections.

    Even so, if G0 suddenly deletes 339 I'll be very glad I backed it up.
    « Last Edit: May 24, 2008, 10:02:39 AM by DaveTheMagicWeasel » Logged

    RobbyPants
    Organ Grinder
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    « Reply #11 on: May 29, 2008, 01:02:06 PM »

    Okay, so the formatting differences have caused a lot of damage to this.  I might fix it if I find time, but tbh if I find time to do some work on it I'm more inclined to flesh out the Prestige Class sections.

    Even so, if G0 suddenly deletes 339 I'll be very glad I backed it up.
    Yeah.  Still, i'm glad this is here. A few pointers for the new formatting that I've figured out (with the help of others):

    • [ spoiler ] tags replace [ sblocks ].  Also, note that if you try to put a [ code ] tag inside, it gets very small, and you have to scroll through the content.
    • 8 followed by ) makes a sunglasses smiley 8)
    • [ table ] tags replace [ code ] tags for making tables.  To make things more complicated you need to use row and column tags ([ tr ] and [ td ] respectively) to get things to match up nice.
    • When setting font size, put in the point size (12pt) instead of an arbitrary size number.

    I hope that helps. :wink  Again, thanks for bringing this over.
    Logged

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    « Reply #12 on: September 03, 2009, 12:12:00 AM »

    [SIZE="4"]
    Master of Nine
    [/SIZE]
    - Mastery of Nine: ready at start of day from as many disciplines as possible to maximize bonus, then spend 5 minutes changing them as desired.
    - Becoming Reshar: True Mastery of the Nine Swords by Gideon_Gideonson – access to all 9 9th level maneuvers
    Link is dead now that the forums got cleaned out. I grabbed what I could from the Google cache:

    Quote
    Gideon_Gideonson
    07-31-07, 06:59 PM
    With a little bit of clever multiclassing, you can indeed get every 9th level maneuver.

    To begin:

    Essentials
    Human
    Good-aligned
    Unarmed Swordsage variant

    Stats:
    There are no required stats for this build...rather, it depends on your style of adept. Still, like all melee characters, it benefits from Str, Con, and Dex. Int is also recommended due to the MotN's requirement of 4 discipline skills.

    A decent 28 point buy would be as follows:

    Str: 14
    Dex: 14
    Con: 14
    Int: 14
    Wis: 12
    Cha: 8

    Essential Items:
    1 of all the novice maneuver granting items (2 of Diamond mind, which, as its a ring, is possible). This effectively removes a prerequisite maneuver. Big Grin

    That means that the qualifications for 9th level maneuvers are as follows:

    4 Desert Wind
    2 Devoted Spirit
    2 Diamond Mind
    3 Iron Heart
    4 Setting Sun
    4 Shadow Hand
    0 Stone Dragon
    3 Tiger Claw
    3 White Raven

    Feats
    1: Improved Initiative
    1: Adaptive Style
    3: Blind-Fight
    6: Martial Stance (Iron Heart)
    9: Martial Study (Iron Heart)
    15: Martial Study (Iron Heart)
    18: Martial Stude (Iron Heart)

    The Build:
    Swordsage 5/Shadow Sun Ninja 9/MotN 5/Crusader 1

    Combat-wise you're a bit short, with a +12 Base Attack Bonus, but that's okay, as you can make up the loss of attacks with powerful maneuvers. It's also offset a bit by the free Weapon Focus from your Swordsage levels, the +2 bonus to strike attack rolls you get from MotN, and the +4 to hit you get against foes blinded by your Darkness within Light ability. Still, consider investing heavily in stat-enhancing items and anything that allows you to hit as a touch attack.

    Save-wise you're much better off, with a base save set-up of +10/+11/+14

    How it works:

    1: Swordsage 1: 2 Desert Wind, 2 Diamond Mind, 3 Tiger Claw (any can be the stance)
    2: Swordsage 2: Shadow Hand
    3: Swordsage 3: Shadow Hand
    4: Swordsage 4: Setting Sun
    5: Swordsage 5: Anything you want
    5-14: Shadow Sun Ninja (1-9): Anything, so long as you meet the required number of Shadow Hand and Setting Sun by the end of it.

    This means that before entering MotN, you have

    2 of 4 Desert Wind
    0 of 2 Devoted Spirit
    2 of 2 Diamond Mind
    2 of 3 Iron Heart (through feats)
    4 of 4 Setting Sun
    4 of 4 Shadow Hand
    0 of 0 Stone Dragon
    3 of 3 Tiger Claw
    0 of 3 White Raven

    15: MotN 1: Desert Wind, Iron Heart (through feat)
    16: MotN 2: Desert Wind and Devoted Spirit Stance

    You now have the following:

    4 of 4 Desert Wind
    1 of 2 Devoted Spirit
    2 of 2 Diamond Mind
    3 of 3 Iron Heart (through feats)
    4 of 4 Setting Sun
    4 of 4 Shadow Hand
    0 of 0 Stone Dragon
    3 of 3 Tiger Claw
    0 of 3 White Raven


    17: MotN 3: 9th level Desert Wind, 9th level Diamond Mind
    18: MotN 4: 9th level Shadow Hand, Devoted Spirit Stance, 9th level Iron Heart through Feat
    19: MotN 5: 9th Level Tiger Claw, 9th level Setting Sun

    You now have the following (bold designates having the 9th level maneuver):

    4 of 4 Desert Wind
    2 of 2 Devoted Spirit
    2 of 2 Diamond Mind
    3 of 3 Iron Heart (through feats)
    4 of 4 Setting Sun
    4 of 4 Shadow Hand
    0 of 0 Stone Dragon
    3 of 3 Tiger Claw
    0 of 3 White Raven

    Now the odd part. Take, as your 20th level, a single level of Crusader. You gain 5 maneuvers and a stance. Take the following:

    20: Crusader 1 (Initiator level 17--2 from Swordsage, 14 from Shadow Sun and MotN, and 1 from this level): 2 White Raven, White Raven Stance, 9th level Devoted Spirit, Stone Dragon, and White Raven

    That leaves us with (bold designates having the 9th level maneuver):

    4 of 4 Desert Wind
    2 of 2 Devoted Spirit
    2 of 2 Diamond Mind
    3 of 3 Iron Heart (through feats)
    4 of 4 Setting Sun
    4 of 4 Shadow Hand
    0 of 0 Stone Dragon
    3 of 3 Tiger Claw
    3 of 3 White Raven

    That's right. ALL NINE.

    Congratulation, Reshar. Now go out and kick some ass. Big Grin
    Logged
    Basselope
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    « Reply #13 on: January 04, 2010, 02:13:45 PM »

    Archon of Nine

    This build acquires all nine of the 9th level maneuvers by ECL 20. It does so without:

    1) flaws (my previous Heaven of Nine build)
    2) magic items that grant maneuvers (Gideon_gideonson/Djinn_In_Tonic's Becoming Reshar, above)
    3) heroics spell (Kirech's Peerless Master of the Sublime Way)
    4) retraining, psychic reformation, or Dark Chaos Shuffle
    5) bloodline levels

    The only real "trick" is it uses Legacy Champion to inflate its Initiator Level, similar to using bloodline levels, but is more
    mechanically sound from a RAW standpoint (the optional rules for bloodline levels are... shall we say, somewhat unclear and wonky). Due to Legacy Champion, it does require a legacy item and unlocking the Least Legacy feat, so if you lose that item you lose most of your class abilities from ECL 11-20. But once you pick up the Least Legacy feat, you can toss the legacy item into your haversack and ignore the rest of the Weapons of Legacy rules.

    If we use Legacy Champion to advance Swordsage (including Initiator Level, maneuvers, and stances), we wind up with an effective Swordsage level of 12. The first level of Master of Nine adds another +1 IL. Our Warblade, Crusader, and Legacy Champion levels count as 1/2 IL, so 12 + 1 + (8 / 2) = 17 at ECL 16. Essentially, Legacy Champion levels 2-6 count as 1.5 ILs. When we take our 6th level of Legacy Champion, we pick up maneuvers as a 12th level Swordsage, so we get one new 9th level maneuver and replace an existing maneuver with a second 9th level maneuver. We need a total of 43 maneuvers or stances to get all of them. Actually, only 42, since we're replacing one of our prereqs with a 9th level maneuver.

    Taking a look at the 9th level prereqs:
    DW Inferno Blast 5
    DS Strike of Righteous Vitality 3
    DM Time Stands Still 4
    IH Strike of Perfect Clarity 4
    SS Tornado Throw 5
    SH Five-Shadow Creeping Ice Enervation Strike 5
    SD Mountain Tombstone Strike 0
    TC Feral Death Blow 4
    WR War Master's Charge 4
    Total Prereqs: 34
    34 (Prereqs) + 9 (9th level maneuvers) = 43

    Here's how we get there:

    Swordsage 12, 17 maneuvers + 4 stances
    Warblade 1, 3 manuevers + 1 stance
    Crusader 1, 5 maneuvers + 1 stance
    Master of Nine, 8 manuvers + 2 stances
    Total: 33 maneuvers + 8 stances + 1 (Martial Study) + 1 (replace maneuver) = 43

    Feats:
    We get 7 feats plus 1 bonus feat (human). We need one of those for Martial Study, and five of those for the Master of Nine prereqs (Adaptive Style, Blind-fight, Dodge, Improved Initiative, Improved Unarmed Strike). The only other feat we need is Least Legacy, which can be purchased for 1500-2500 GP by acquiring a legacy weapon and performing the Least Legacy ritual (Eventide's Edge is one of the cheapest, but Kamate's is probably the least annoying). There's two open feats at ECL 12 and 15, and we can also free up another one by using the Unarmed Swordsage variant to pick up Improved Unarmed Strike for free.

    Suggested Feats: Snap Kick + Improved Critical, or Mage Slayer + Pierce Magical Concealment.

    Race: Human, Azurin, Strongheart Halfling, or Hadozee
    Stats: Str, Dex/Wis, Con, Int, Cha. Both Dex and Wis will add to your AC, but there aren't enough free feats to make use of TWF or Shadow Blade. There aren't enough levels of Warblade to make Int worthwhile, and while you need a lot of skill points for Master of Nine, Swordsage gets enough that you can probably get away with a small penalty there. And there aren't enough Crusader levels to make Charisma anything other than its usual fate as everybody's favorite dump stat.

    1) Swordsage 1. IL = 1.0. Feat: Improved Unarmed Strike. Bonus: Blindfight.
    2) Swordsage 2. IL = 2.0.
    3) Swordsage 3. IL = 3.0. Feat: Adaptive Style.
    4) Swordsage 4. IL = 4.0.
    5) Swordsage 5. IL = 5.0. (Note: pay ritual cost for Least Legacy, if available)
    6) Swordsage 6. IL = 6.0. Feat: Improved Initiative.
    7) Swordsage 7. IL = 7.0.
    8) Warblade 1. IL = 4.5.
    9) Crusader 1. IL = 5.0. Feat: Dodge/Desert Wind Dodge/Expeditious Dodge.
    10) Master of Nine 1. IL = 9.0.
    11) Legacy Champion 1. IL = 9.5.
    12) Legacy Champion 2. IL = 11.0. Feat: {Open}.
    13) Legacy Champion 3. IL = 12.5.
    14) Legacy Champion 4. IL = 14.0.
    15) Legacy Champion 5. IL = 15.5. Feat: {Open}.
    16) Legacy Champion 6. IL = 17.0.
    17) Master of Nine 2. IL = 18.0.
    18) Master of Nine 3. IL = 19.0. Feat: Martial Study
    19) Master of Nine 4. IL = 20.0.
    20) Master of Nine 5. IL = 21.0.

    Maneuver Progression:
    This is not very optimal, mostly because you can't get into Legacy Champion until ECL 11. Otherwise you'd want to take your Warblade and Crusader levels as late as possible to pick up the best maneuvers available. The high number of prereqs you need for some disciplines also forces you to take maneuvers in discipline's you might normally ignore (Desert Wind, Setting Sun, etc.), and the limited number of maneuvers you can swap (Swordsage 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12) tend to fall on inconvenient levels. Many of the great signature maneuvers just can't be picked up, most notably in Devoted Spirit, Iron Heart, and White Raven. For these, you can rely on martial scripts and the various Crown of the White Raven novice/scholar/master items.


    Swordsage 1: Burning Blade, Flame's Blessing (stance), Wind Stride, Moment of Perfect Mind, Counter Charge, Shadow Blade Technique, Wolf Fang Strike.
    Swordsage 2: Sapphire Nightmare Blade, Island of Blades (stance).
    Swordsage 3: Cloak of Deception
    Swordsage 4: Shadow Jaunt, Fire Riposte (replacing Wind Stride).
    Swordsage 5: Death Mark, Assassin's Stance (stance).
    Swordsage 6: Zephyr Dance, Insightful Strike (replacing Sapphire Nightmare Blade)
    Swordsage 7: Comet Throw.
    Warblade 1: Steel Wind, Wall of Blades, Punishing Stance (stance), Sudden Leap
    Crusader 1: Crusader's Strike, Foehammer, Revitalizing Strike, Leading the Charge (stance), Lion's Roar, White Raven Tactics.
    Master of Nine 1: Pouncing Charge, Iron Heart Surge.
    Swordsage 8: Scorpion Parry, Death From Above (replacing Wolf Fang Strike).
    Swordsage 9: Greater Insightful Strike, Shifting Defense (stance).
    Swordsage 10: Raging Mongoose, Shadow Stride (replacing Shadow Jaunt).
    Swordsage 11: Fool's Strike.
    Swordsage 12: Strike of Righteous Vitality, Tornado Throw (replacing Counter Charge).
    Master of Nine 2: Stance of Alacrity (stance), Time Stands Still.
    Master of Nine 3: Inferno Blast, Strike of Perfect Clarity, Mountain Tombstone Strike (Martial Study).
    Master of Nine 4: Press the Advantage (stance), War Master's Charge.
    Master of Nine 5: Five-Shadow Creeping Ice Enervation Strike, Feral Death Blow.

    Reshar's Build?
    If the original Reshar had a non-epic progression, I'm not sure if it would look like this. It may be safe to assume he had levels of Legacy Champion, given that ToB includes support for Weapons of Legacy and Reshar collected the legacy weapons for all nine disciplines at one point. The only other facts we know about Reshar is he was human, started studying with the hobgoblins as a Warblade, went into Swordsage next, and sometime after that mastered all nine disciplines. The first nine levels can be taken in any order, so if you want a build that more closely matches Reshar's fluff, take Warblade 1 first, followed by Swordsage 7, then Crusader 1. If so, then some adjustments need to be made to the first two levels of maneuvers:

    Warblade 1: Moment of Perfect Mind, Steel Wind, Steely Strike, Punishing Stance (stance).
    Swordsage 1: Burning Blade, Flame's Blessing (stance), Wind Stride, Counter Charge, Shadow Blade Technique, Wolf Fang Strike, Sudden Leap.

    Variation: Unarmed Swordsage, early Master of Nine
    If we use the Unarmed Swordsage variant to get Improved Unarmed Strike, we can get into Master of Nine before we take our Warblade and Crusader levels. This gives us two more 4th level maneuvers, and increases our IL so we can take both Iron Heart Surge and White Raven Tactics with our Warblade and Crusader levels.

    1) Swordsage 1. IL = 1.0. Feat: Improved Initiative. Bonus: Blindfight. Bonus: Improved Unarmed Strike.
    2) Swordsage 2. IL = 2.0.
    3) Swordsage 3. IL = 3.0. Feat: Adaptive Style.
    4) Swordsage 4. IL = 4.0.
    5) Swordsage 5. IL = 5.0. (Note: pay ritual cost for Least Legacy, if available)
    6) Swordsage 6. IL = 6.0. Feat: Dodge/Desert Wind Dodge/Expeditious Dodge.
    7) Swordsage 7. IL = 7.0.
    8) Master of Nine 1. IL = 8.0.
    9) Warblade 1. IL = 5.5. Feat: {Open}.
    10) Crusader 1. IL = 6.0.
    11) Legacy Champion 1. IL = 9.5.
    12) Legacy Champion 2. IL = 11.0. Feat: {Open}.
    13) Legacy Champion 3. IL = 12.5.
    14) Legacy Champion 4. IL = 14.0.
    15) Legacy Champion 5. IL = 15.5. Feat: {Open}.
    16) Legacy Champion 6. IL = 17.0.
    17) Master of Nine 2. IL = 18.0.
    18) Master of Nine 3. IL = 19.0. Feat: Martial Study
    19) Master of Nine 4. IL = 20.0.
    20) Master of Nine 5. IL = 21.0.

    Feats:
    9) Snap Kick or Staggering Strike
    12) Mage Slayer or Improved Critical
    15) Pierce Magical Concealment or Undo Resistance

    Maneuver Progression:
    Swordsage 1: Burning Blade, Flame's Blessing (stance), Wind Stride, Moment of Perfect Mind, Counter Charge, Shadow Blade Technique, Wolf Fang Strike.
    Swordsage 2: Island of Blades (stance), Mountain Hammer.
    Swordsage 3: Cloak of Deception
    Swordsage 4: Shadow Jaunt, Sudden Leap (replacing Wolf Fang Strike).
    Swordsage 5: Death Mark, Assassin's Stance (stance).
    Swordsage 6: Insightful Strike, Fire Riposte (replacing Wind Stride)
    Swordsage 7: Comet Throw.
    Master of Nine 1: Searing Blade, Death From Above.
    Warblade 1: Steel Wind, Wall of Blades, Iron Heart Surge, Punishing Stance (stance).
    Crusader 1: Crusader's Strike, Foehammer, Revitalizing Strike, Leading the Charge (stance), Lion's Roar, White Raven Tactics.
    Swordsage 8: Scorpion Parry, Shadow Stride (replacing Shadow Jaunt).
    Swordsage 9: Pouncing Charge, Shifting Defense (stance).
    Swordsage 10: Raging Mongoose, Greater Insightful Strike (replacing Mountain Hammer).
    Swordsage 11: Fool's Strike.
    Swordsage 12: Strike of Righteous Vitality, Tornado Throw (replacing Counter Charge).
    Master of Nine 2: Stance of Alacrity (stance), Time Stands Still.
    Master of Nine 3: Inferno Blast, Strike of Perfect Clarity, Mountain Tombstone Strike (Martial Study).
    Master of Nine 4: Press the Advantage (stance), War Master's Charge.
    Master of Nine 5: Five-Shadow Creeping Ice Enervation Strike, Feral Death Blow.
    « Last Edit: January 04, 2010, 02:31:35 PM by Basselope » Logged
    Hallack
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    « Reply #14 on: April 07, 2011, 10:22:53 AM »

    Current Link for CantripN's Warblade 20
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    InnaBinder
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    « Reply #15 on: April 07, 2011, 11:23:08 AM »

    Dread Necromancer 8/Crusader 1/Jade Phoenix Mage 10/Crusader +1 is worth consideration.
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    Jopustopin
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    « Reply #16 on: April 07, 2011, 08:33:00 PM »

    (Crusader 10/Eternal Blade 10)
    Here is a build I'm playing in my game.  It's simple DM friendly and powerful.  However it can be made more powerful quite easily. 

    Race: Elf (I picked elf because if the game goes epic I plan on grabbing Heir of Siberys and in this hypothetical situation I'd have to be a true elf and not an elf subrace.  Obviously wood elf would be a better race for this build.)
    Class: Crusader (I picked crusader for survivability reasons.  Having a +2 level adjustment means that my ability to survive is handicapped. The Crusader's tank abilities increases survivability at low levels  plain at simple. A warblade charging build would be superior some of the time but, if the battle lasts a long time you'll be thankful for the crusader's recovery mechanic, being able to grab strike of righteous vitality via Eternal Blade, and having robilar's gambit fuel your furious counterstrike.)

    Note: Pretty much my DM poo-poo's on dipping (no pounce variant barbarian for me), multi-classing (XP penalties!), and flaws. So I give you this very strong build that I started playing at ECL 1 and am currently ECL 4.  It can be improved by quite a bit depending on what your DM allows, so consider this a starting point. 


    Phrenic Elf Eternal Blade
    Feats:
    1: Power Attack
    3: Improved Bull Rush
    6: Shock Trooper
    9: Weapon Focus (Glaive)
    12: Combat Reflexes
    15: Robilar's Gambit
    18: Martial Study (Mountain Tombstone Strike)

    Maneuver Progression
    Levels 1 - 10 (Crusader)
    1st: Vanguard Strike, Crusader's Strike, Stone Bones, Douse the Flames, Leading the Attack, Martial Spirit
    2nd: Leading the Charge
    3rd: Battle Leader's Charge
    4th: Foe Hammer (Stone Bones)
    5th: White Raven Tactics
    6th: Revitalizing Strike (Crusader's Strike)
    7th: Entangling Blade
    8th: Thicket of Blades, Covering Strike (Douse the Flames)
    9th: Radiant Charge
    10th: Flanking Maneuver (Leading the Attack)

    Levels 11-20 (Eternal Blade)
    11th: Moment of Perfect Mind
    12th: -
    13th: Rapid Counter
    14th: -
    15th: Moment of Alacrity, Stance of Alacrity
    16th: -
    17th: War Master's Charge
    18th: Mountain Tombstone Strike
    19th: Time Stands Still
    20th: -


    Roles: This is not a tank build.  At low levels you have Phrenic so you're two levels behind everyone else. Being two levels behind everyone makes tanking hard. In fact you are not much more than a support character at this point.  Hope that all the other roles are taken care of.  At high levels you deviate too far away from Crusader to really shine as a tank, which is fine because you'll own the action economy.  This build is simple and effective at what it does (which should be obvious).

    You enter the stance Leading the Charge and Robilar's Gambit and charge; power attacking for full and dumping it into a penalty to your AC.  When you get hit back they provoke.  You now become even more accurate due to Furious Counterstrike and still have your full power attack to add to damage.  You should beat things to a pulp. 

    At higher levels you can use War Master's Charge + Leading the Charge + Shock trooper + Power attack to dish out an incredible amount of damage.  (Assuming you were already in Leading the Charge Stance) Then you use a swift action to put your initiative count @ +20.  Then it's your turn again.  You initiate a powerful maneuver (mountain tombstone strike) then move back into charging position.  Then you take your turn again as an immediate action and use leading the charge + shock trooper + power attack + Robilar's Gambit to dish out more wonderful damage.  Then finally the monster gets to go... does he dare attack you?

    I recommend grabbing some maneuver granting items to make up for those you don't get from levels 11 - 17 (since you'll be ramping up for Time Stand's Still).
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