Eclipse and the Book of Nine Swords

   The Book of Nine Swords introduced quite a lot of “combat maneuvers”.

   Many of them were basically magical effects roughly equivalent to spells. Some were pretty blatant about it, even over and above the level one to level nine structure, the selection of schools, and the matching minimum (caster) level requirements.

   For example, take “Inferno Blast”. It sends a wave of flame blasting out from you that does 100 points of damage to everything within sixty feet. It’s a supernatural ability – that’s better than a spell but still the same basic idea – and you have to be seventeenth level to use it, which matches. It’s above the average damage for a ninth-level spell, but the lack of range will often make it inconvenient to use in a group. All in all, it’s still comparable to a ninth-level spell – and a Swordsage can unleash it every other round.

   Is that overpowered?

   Going by the book, and restricting ourselves to “encounter” situations, probably not. Other seventeenth level characters can do similar amounts of damage to single targets, or somewhat lesser amounts in more usefully-shaped and ranged areas, and tweaked-out builds with careful fishing through the vast seas of official and unofficial sourcebooks (or through Eclipse) can make anything from the Book of Nine Swords – save, perhaps, White Raven Tactics (the ability to grant another character an extra turn as a swift action) – look feeble. More importantly, the actual lists of maneuvers are pretty much focused entirely on tactical combat. Your Wizard won’t be able to blow things up as often as the Swordsage, but he or she will have a lot more options outside of battle.

   Now if we don’t restrict ourselves to “encounter” situations, there are certain basic problems with “per encounter” powers – mostly revolving around what, within the reality of the game world, defines an “encounter”, the use of such abilities outside of combat, and the idea that, if powers like the maneuvers are available, I’d expect there to be quite a lot of practical, non-combat, disciplines floating around that will drastically change the setting. On the other hand, that sort of thing is only a problem for simulationist world-designers and for the players who like to figure things out. That’s admittedly a relatively narrow gaming subgroup.

   Semi-unlimited use abilities are potentially more troublesome in Eclipse, where you can create your own maneuvers and don’t necessarily have to stick with the ones from a particular list – and so could potentially use the same mechanics to take a bunch of useful, non-combat stuff – but any freeform design system has to deal with that kind of problem. That’s why I’ve specifically posted a few grotesque designs to illustrate the kinds of things that you shouldn’t let people do.

   So with that caution in mind, here’s how to build characters equivalent to the Crusader, Swordsage, and Warblade from Tome of Battle: the Book of Nine Swords.

   Basic Maneuvers:

   Like most unlimited-use abilities in Eclipse, “Maneuvers” are derived from the Path of the Dragon. From that ability sequence we’ll want:

   Shaping (6 CP), Pulse of the Dragon (L1 for 6 CP, L2 for 12 CP, and L3 for 24 CP), and Heart of the Dragon (L1 for 6 CP, L2 for 12 CP, and L3 for 24 CP). That’s 90 CP to complete the entire sequence – pretty expensive.

   Of course, as-is, that would allow the more or less limitless creation of any magical effect of third level or less and comes in three basic tiers; level one effects (18 CP), level two effects (42 CP), and level three effects (90 CP). Most of those can be further broken down, since combinations of Corrupted (1.5x effect) and Specialized (2x effect) can provide intermediate values.

   As for the limitations that make this Specialized and Corrupted, here they are:

  • All the effects must adhere to a narrow set of themes, and must build on previous abilities in the same theme.
  • All effects must be tactical-combat oriented.
  • The user can only create a limited number of effects, and must purchase those for 1 CP each – although he or she may trade out a limited number of them for other effects later on.
  • The user may only have one-half (rounded up) of those effects available at any one time, and must spend some time out of combat to change which ones are available.
  • The user must ready abilities from his or her available subset before they can be used and, once one has been used, must ready it again before it can be used again. This can be partially bypassed, allowing the character to ready a group of maneuvers at one time for +1 CP per additional maneuver which can be readied at a time. It can also be entirely bypassed for a given maneuver (these are usually known as “Stances”) by spending +2 CP on it, for a total of three.
  • Maneuvers can be readied by any one of many different processes – such as by taking a full round action to ready one again (typical of the Swordsage), by random selection during each round of combat (typical of the Crusader), or by whatever mechanism the game master decides is acceptable for a given character.
  • The user must meet the minimum level requirements to use any given effect. That’s a standard restriction, but it’s always worth noting.

   Now, as it stands, these are supernatural abilities, although a lot of them will be built as Swift or Immediate Actions – reducing their effects against those of spells of equal level. On the other hand, quite a lot of the less-spectacular maneuvers are supposed to be extraordinary abilities – and thus not subject to antimagic.

   To get that, we’ll want Immunity to Antimagic (Common, Minor, Epic, 18 CP base), Specialized and Corrupted/only protects Path of the Dragon abilities, and only those which can reasonably be interpreted as skill-based effects (6 CP).

   Ergo, our basic Maneuver and Stance package has a total cost of 96 CP, even before considering the costs of buying individual maneuvers and stances. Of course, at level one, it starts off with a cost of a mere 6 CP. That 96 CP cost is spread over twenty levels.

   The Crusader:

   Given that Crusaders are a class from near the end of the 3.5 rules cycle, they can be presumed to use both Fast Learner (albeit possibly not a specialized version) and Adept, saving them a total of 46 SP and 14 CP over the course of twenty levels – or a 60 CP bonus. Given that Crusaders are religious knights, we can also expect them to have Duties, for +40 CP. That gives us a grand tot al of 604 CP to work with.

  • Crusader Basics: d10 Hit Dice (120 CP), Saves +24 (72 CP), +20 BAB (120 CP), Skills 92 (92 CP), 14 Maneuvers and 4 Stances (26 CP).
  • Proficient with all Simple and Martial weapons (9 CP), Light Medium and Heavy Armor (15 CP), and Shields, Corrupted/not Tower Shields (2 CP).
  • Maneuver and Stance Basics (96 CP).
  • The Crusader can delay the effects of a modest amount of hit point damage until the end of his or her next turn. There are several ways to build that – but the simplest is Advanced Augmented Bonus/Adds Wis Mod to Con Mod when determining hit points, Specialized and Corrupted/the bonus hit points only exist as a one-round buffer (6 CP).
  • While the Crusader has some damage in his or her buffer, he or she gains a +1 to hit and damage for every five full points of damage so stored up to a maximum of +6 each. That’s Augment Attack, +6 Damage (6 CP base) and +6 to Hit (18 CP base) when there’s damage being stored in the “buffer”, Corrupted/only available at +1 per 5 full points of damage (16 CP Total).
  • Advanced Augmented Bonus/Adds (Cha Mod) to will saves, Corrupted/only while remaining true to his or her faith (8 CP). The book doesn’t actually say that – but it notes that their bonus does not stack with a Paladins, ergo it seems to fit the fluff text.
  • Luck, Specialized in Saving throws, Corrupted/only for Rerolls (2 CP)
  • Smite, with +1 Bonus Use (8 CP).
  • Stoic (6 CP).
  • Fortune for Fortitude and Will saves, Specialized/does not work while unconscious or if the user fails to remain true to his or her faith (6 CP).

   Total: 604 CP out of 604 CP available. Well, it’s nice when things come out properly.

   The Swordsage:

   Again, given that Swordsages are a class from near the end of the 3.5 rules cycle, they can be presumed to use both Fast Learner (Specialized in Skills, for Double Effect) and Adept, saving them a total of 46 SP and 34 CP over the course of twenty levels – or an 80 CP bonus. That gives us a grand total of 584 CP to work with.

  • Swordsage Basics: d8 Hit Dice (80 CP), Saves +30 (90 CP), +15 BAB (90 CP), Skills 138 (138 CP), 25 Maneuvers and 6 Stances (43 CP).
  • Proficient with Simple Weapons (3 CP), Martial Weapons, Specialized in Melee Weapons Only (3 CP), and Light Armor (3 C).
  • Maneuver and Stance Basics (96 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus: May add (Wis Mod) to his or her AC, Specialized/only while unencumbered, using no shield, using light or no armor, and free to move (3 CP).
  • Improved Initiative +4 (6 CP).
  • Occult Sense/Identify Magic Items, Specialized and Corrupted/only works on weapons and armor and requires ten minutes (2 CP).
  • Fortune/Improved Evasion variant, Corrupted/only works if wearing light or no armor (8 CP).
  • Reflex Training/Extra actions Variant, Specialized in Boosting Maneuvers Only, allowing the user to use two at once three times per day (3 CP).
  • Warcraft: +1 BAB, Specialized/melee weapons only, Corrupted/only applies to a limited group linked with a particular style (2 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus/adds (Wis Mod) to damage when using a magically augmented strike from either of two chosen disciplines (6 CP).
  • Resist/+2 bonus on all three saves, Corrupted/only usable while using a combat stance from one of two themes (12 CP).
  • +2 on Martial Lore skill checks. (2 CP).

   That’s a total of 590 CP – meaning we’ve overspent by 6 CP, or one Feat. Not a bad match, although I would – of course – prefer perfection. Of course, the Book of Nine Swords didn’t come out until well after Eclipse did.

   The Warblade:

   Again, given that Warblades are a class from near the end of the 3.5 rules cycle, they can be presumed to use both Fast Learner and Adept, saving them a total of 46 SP and 34 CP over the course of twenty levels – or an 80 CP bonus. From the flavor text, it looks like the Warblade has a version of Duties as well – constant training, which will soak up much of his or her free time (+40 CP). That gives us a grand total of 624 CP to work with.

  • Warblade Basics: d12 Hit Dice (160 CP), Saves +24 (72 CP), +20 BAB (120 CP), Skills 92 (92 CP), 13 Maneuvers (13 CP) with +6 Fast Recovery (6 CP) and 4 Stances (12 CP).
  • Proficient with Simple Weapons (3 CP) and Martial Weapons, Specialized in Melee Weapons Only (3 CP), Light and Medium Armor (9 CP), and Shields (3 CP).
  • Maneuver Basics (96 CP).
  • Advanced Augmented Bonus/May add their (Int Mod) to their reflex saves, Specialized/only works if not surprised, the maximum bonus is equal to their level, and the bonus has the “Insight” type, and so will not stack with some other bonuses (6 CP).
  • They may adjust abilities that specify a particular weapon to suit a weapon of their choice each day. This we don’t actually have to buy in Eclipse: abilities in Eclipse are already cheaper if you limit them to particular situations or weapons.
  • Awareness with the Flankless modifier (12 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus/may add their (Int Mod) to rolls to confirm critical hits (6 CP).
  • Four bonus feats (24 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus/may add their (Int Mod) to their (Str Mod) in melee combat, Specialized/only for damage, Corrupted/only works against flat-footed or flanked opponents (2 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus/may add their (Int Mod) to any check made against an attackers bull rush, disarm. feint, overrun, sunder, or trip attempt (6 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus/may add their (Int Mod) to their (Str Mod) in melee combat, Specialized/only when making an Attack of Opportunity (3 CP).
  • Immunity/stacking bonus limitations on using two “Stance” maneuvers (Common, Minor, Major, 6 CP).

   Now, unless I’ve dropped a number somewhere, that comes to 654 CP – meaning that the Warblade has overspent by 30 CP, the equivalent of five full feats. That is a bit awkward. There are a variety of ways in Eclipse to reduce that cost of course.

   You could pare back to d10 hit dice, and save 40 CP at an average cost of 21 HP (two for level one, one each on the average for the other nineteen levels). To make up for that, buy +2 Con only for the purposes of determining hit points (12 CP), and you’ll wind up a mere 2 CP over – go ahead and drop a couple of skill points – and an average of 1 HP down.

   There are other routes to the same average result of course, but I’d recommend taking that one. It’s simplest.

   Now, that pretty well covers 120 pages – the classes, the maneuvers, the prestige classes (since, in Eclipse, you just purchased the abilities and specialties you want), out of the 160 in the Book of Nine Swords. As always for Eclipse it does put a good deal more work on the player though, since he or she will have to come up with his or her own list of maneuvers and stances. On the other hand, that’s the attraction of Eclipse to begin with; you can build what you want for your character and aren’t bound by someone else’s list of abilities.

   These builds also mean that Eclipse characters styled after older classes – which mostly haven’t been built using Adept and Fast Learner – are free to take those abilities and upgrade themselves a bit so as to remain competitive.

10 Responses

  1. […] The Crusader, Swordsage, and Warblade from the Book of Nine Swords. […]

  2. […] Create Relic (Specialized and Corrupted for increased effect: Only for special abilties related to “Basic Maneuvers”, only with points from Enthusiast) 6 CP. This results in a 24 CP cost for our Level 1 Tatzlpony and […]

  3. I love this article! Found it some months ago and forgot about it, now discovered it again. But one thing bugs me. The heart of dragon for level 3 spells cost 48 CP, not 24 CP (cause its 6 CP for level 0 spells, 12 CP for 1, 24 CP for 2 and 48 CP for 3). This makes the whole calculations collapse. Sorry for commenting on such an old post

    • You’re quite right; somewhere, looking at this I apparently accidentally skipped level zero effects; it should be L0 for 6 CP, L1 for 12 CP, L2 for 24 CP, and L3 for 48 CP – throwing off all the calculations by those 48 CP.

      Fortunately, over the years, it’s become obvious that hit points were and are very overrated – so it’s fair enough to take Advanced Improved Augmented Bonus (Add a second attribute bonus to the user’s Constitution Modifier for hit points per level, 18 CP) and take 3-4 CP per level – 60-80 CP in total – off of a melee combatant builds hit die cost.

      That gives us a net expense of 48 CP for the third-level effect base plus 18 CP for adding a second attribute modifier to hit points, for a net cost of 66 CP and a net savings of 60-80 CP – a range from 6 to (-14) CP – pretty much a wash.

      That does give the basic maneuver sequence four levels before specialization and corruption – L0 Effects (18 CP), L1 Effects (42 CP), L2 Effects (90 CP), and L3 Effects (138 CP) – although Specialization and Corruption give us L0 (6 CP), L1 (12 CP), L2 (28 CP), L3 (42 CP), L4 (60 CP), L5-6 (90 CP, although most GM’s will probably let you spend 75 for L5 and 90 for L6), and L7-9 (138 CP, although most GM’s will probably let you subdivide that at 106 CP for L7, 122 CP for L8, and 138 CP for L9).

      And there’s no worries about old posts: thank you for pointing out the math error so I could supply a correction!

  4. As written, this would let you take manuevers from any of the nine disciplines (or make up your own) right? Also, the corruption and specialization being packaged like that makes it difficult to see how you could create variants. Also, the fact that the Pulse of the Dragon can generate more spell levels than 3 per round seems to contradict ‘This is the limit of the process; beyond this point
    the magic begins to discharge at random.’ which is in the description of the ability. What is different here?

    • It will indeed let you make up your own maneuvers – although that also allows the game master to easily say “No!” to some of the official ones which are either badly written or broken (and we all know that there are always a few).

      The equivalent of the schools comes from the restriction to a narrow set of themes – and while that carefully doesn’t say how many, the requirement of building on prior maneuvers will generally keep character builders from going overboard on the number of themes they want to use.

      They are indeed all using the same power package to generate their effects – but that allows for several variants:

      1) Create the equivalent of a partial caster by changing either the Specialization or Corruption aspect (or both) to Reduced Cost. That will get you access to lower-end maneuvers, but not the highest-end ones. This works better for mystic warriors in low-magic campaigns.

      2) Eliminate some restrictions. This will cut down on the upper-end power, but provides a lot of freedom to use lower-end stuff.

      2) Substitute restrictions. After all, this build, like all the others, is just an example. It’s just intended as a way to build the stuff from the Book of Nine Swords.

      Finally, the trick with the Pulse of the Dragon is simply that – like pretty much everything else – it can be Specialized and/or Corrupted for Increased Effect – which includes boosting the three-spell-level limit.

      And I hope that helps!

      • Oh, I forgot – if you want more martial options, there’s another approach to building Stances over HERE.

      • What I meant was that you didn’t create a ‘this bit makes it specialized’, ‘this bit makes it corrupted’ thing, which means that there is a bit of a rougher ride creating new restrictions to fit.
        In the past, you once corrupted ‘create any spell’ power to the wizard/sorcerer list, so I would assume that the rest (aside from the ‘limited set of themes’ creates the specialization?

      • And the reply to this got much too long – and too general – for a comment, so now it is an article over HERE.

  5. […] original question was focused on the various class builds for the Book Of Nine Swords. Those include a very general power suite, bound by a long list of limitations that Specialized and […]

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