Author Topic: Heron-Marked: The Art of Bladecraft  (Read 7471 times)

Offline sirpercival

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Heron-Marked: The Art of Bladecraft
« on: July 29, 2012, 03:22:43 PM »
Heron-Marked: The Art of Bladecraft
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"Never give a sword to a man who can't dance." - Confucius

Amateurs think that fighting is about passion, and strength. They roar defiance and charge into battle headlong, as if their enemies were grains of wheat waiting to be reaped. The farmer defending his land against goblins wields his father's rusty sword, and is a danger to himself as much as his opponent.

Veteran soldiers know that skill and cooler heads usually prevail. They see combat as a science, prescribing a set of rules by which one can cut down one's aggressors. They train new recruits and each other, and seek out battle less frequently - the bloodthirsty are usually the first to fall.

True masters of bladecraft understand that swordwork is an art, not a science. It is a dance, an ebb and flow, like sailing a ship through a razor-sharp reef on stormy seas. Each duel is different - a deadly game of feint and counterattack, parry and riposte. The interplay is as beautiful as it is (often) fatal.

The optional rules presented here give players and DMs a means of creating a master of the blade.

Table of Contents
Introduction, Mechanics, & Skills
Feats & Blade-bound Substitution Levels
Blade Styles & Techniques (Basic)
Blade Styles & Techniques (Moderate)
Blade Styles & Techniques (Advanced)
Blade Styles & Techniques (Expert)
Prestige Classes I
Prestige Classes II
Equipment & other materials


The Bladecraft Subsystem
Bladecraft is a subsystem for martial characters, designed to evoke the elaborate and complex dueling tactics used by famous swordsmen throughout history and literature. Examples from recent fiction include the Blademasters from Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series (which is the explicit inspiration for the thematics of Bladecraft), the swordsmen of Ironhall from Dave Duncan's King's Blades series, and the Ademre Ketan from Patrick Rothfuss's Kingkiller Chronicles trilogy.

The core D&D mechanics for melee combat are built around combat feats, which produce relatively repetitive combat rounds for melee characters with few meaningful options. The Tome of Battle supplement worked to alleviate this problem by introducing Initiator mechanics, a martial analogue to Spellcasting comprised of discrete maneuvers with extraordinary effects, based around a core of combat. While the material described in the Book of Nine Swords is an interesting and well-designed subsystem, and opens up a wealth of new options for martial characters, many players disliked the "blade magic"/"wuxia" feeling of the system. It echoed too strongly of "spellcasting-for-fighters", and did little to improve the poor options for core classes, opting instead for replacement.

The Bladecraft system presented here, in contrast, is a direct amplification of the core classes. While Initiators can learn blade techniques just like any other martial characters, they rarely do so, since maneuvers and blade techniques compete for the limited resources in the action economy. Instead, the lowly Fighter is the consummate student of Bladecraft, and can still complement the blade techniques with combat feats which were its original strength.

Bladecraft is an expansion, not a replacement. It is accessible to every class: any character who wishes to participate in melee combat can learn blade techniques by investing skill points in the Bladecraft skill (detailed below). The tag sustem also provides a unique set of mechanics and options, turning each combat encounter from an endless stream of full attacks into an organic and fluid interplay between attacker and defender.

Blade Techniques
The primary components of Bladecraft are known as "blade techniques". A blade technique is some useful bit of combat prowess, which can be used to attack, defend, or simply carry oneself in day-to-day life. Note that while the word "blade" is incorporated heavily into the description and mechanics of Bladecraft, it is not restricted to swords or other bladed weapons - with some exceptions (see the section on Tags, below) any melee weapon can be wielded when using blade techniques (though some weapons will be more effective for certain techniques than others).

While blade techniques bear some similarities to martial maneuvers and stances, the philosophical approach to battle between Initiators and masters of Bladecraft is quite different. An initiator sees each round of combat as a discrete unit, and has a number of specific actions that they can take in a given situation. While it is relatively easy to change between different sets of maneuvers, in a given encounter an initiator has access to only a small subset of the maneuvers they know.

In contrast, a student of bladecraft views combat as a continuous progression, flowing from one to the next in an unbroken chain. The blademaster has access to every blade technique they know at all times, but the available techniques in any given instant are determined by the techniques used earlier in the encounter.

While some techniques are particularly effective or ineffective against an opponent who is also using blade techniques, all are quite effective against "unskilled" opponents (i.e., those not trained in Bladecraft). Techniques come in three types:
  • Forms, passive techniques which lead into others;
  • Assaults, offensive techniques which involve attacking your opponent; and
  • Parries, defensive techniques which counter an opponent's attacks and/or blade techniques.
Bladecraft in its entirety is as useful for defense as for offense. The skilled practitioner of Bladecraft will use a variety of Forms, Assaults, and Parries in combat, for to be predictable is to have a very short career as a Blademaster.

Learning Techniques & Complexity
Each blade technique has a certain "complexity", which is a measure of how difficult it is to learn and execute. Technique complexity comes in four categories. Basic techniques are the easiest and simplest, and are the first techniques that any student of Bladecraft learns. Techniques of Moderate complexity are more difficult; learning a Moderate technique requires a Base Attack Bonus of +6, 9 ranks in Bladecraft, and knowlede of at least eight Basic techniques.

Advanced techniques are the product of hundreds of hours of effort and training, and are the mark of a Blademaster - casual students of Bladecraft almost never master even a single Advanced technique. Learning one require a Base Attack Bonus of +11, 14 ranks in Bladecraft, and knowledge of at least eight Moderate techniques.

The true pinnacles of Bladecraft spend years of dedication to their art, training against groups of lesser Blademasters, armies of students, and even horrifying beasts to develop and comprehend Expert techniques. Each Expert technique requires a Base Attack Bonus of +16 or higher, 19 ranks in Bladecraft, and knowledge of at least eight Advanced techniques to learn.

To learn blade techniques, a character must have proficiency in at least one martial weapon, and must have at least 1 rank in Bladecraft. A character who wishes to study Bladecraft can learn 4 blade techniques with Basic complexity when their Base Attack Bonus is at least +1, and may learn another technique at every level at which their Base Attack Bonus increases. Additional techniques may be acquired through feats, substitution levels, or by gaining levels in prestige classes; these means are all described in the relevant sections below.

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While anyone can become a student of Bladecraft regardless of age or experience, those who begin earlier in their career achieve greater heights than those who start later in life. A character who takes their first rank in Bladecraft when their Base Attack Bonus higher than +1 learns 4 Basic techniques, but does not retroactively learn techniques for previously-gained levels in which their Base Attack Bonus increased.

It is recommended that the first four techniques a student of Bladecraft learns include at least one Form, one Assault, and one Parry. However, the only absolute requirement is that one of the four must be a Form; otherwise, the student would not be able to use any other blade techniques, due to tag requirement(s) (see below for details).

Blade Styles
Blade techniques of a given complexity are grouped by theme and methodology into collections called Blade Styles. Initially developed as a learning tool, Blade Styles help shape a combatant's decision-making process during a battle, allowing a student to focus on a group of synergistic techniques. However, while these are somewhat similar in concept to Martial Disciplines, there are no restrictions other than complexity on the Blade Styles from which a character can learn techniques.

Blademasters can and usually do switch seamlessly between styles with little difficulty as combat evolves around them. While an outsider might expect each Blade Style to be a self-contained unit, this could not be further from the truth. Blade Styles are a grouping of convenience, and allow Bladecraft teachers to present related concepts as a coherent curriculum. However, each style is not meant to be learned in isolation, but rather to be part of an elegant whole. The ultimate Blademaster knows every blade technique, rather than mastering a particular style to the exclusion of all else. A Blademaster who is not versatile, who cannot change tactics on a moment's notice, soon becomes a dead Blademaster.

Bladecraft Tags
Every Blade technique (even a simple one) involves an intricate interplay of combat elements: the combatant's muscles, the weapon and how it is held, the direction and momentum of the body, limbs, and weapon, and how all of these relate to the same factors describing the opponent. Most of these interactions happen below the level of conscious thought, having been trained into a student's habits and instincts. Such training is the essence of Bladecraft: one must transform a slow decision-making process into a fast, evolving dance.

Most blade techniques can only be used when the combatant's combat elements satisfy certain conditions (for example, a powerful downward blow cannot be made when the tip of the combatant's sword is pointed at the opponent's ankle), and the process of using a technique changes the existing combat elements to some new configuration.

From a mechanics standpoint, these factors are encapsulated in a system called "tags". A tag is a description of some aspect of stance or action related to the use of a blade technique. Most techniques requires the user to have some number of tags ("required tags"), which are determined by the previous events in the encounter. Every technique also grants tags upon completion ("granted tags"), which reflect the type of actions (i.e., other techniques) that can follow organically, without disrupting the dance.

The only requirement for a known technique to be used is that the technique's required tags be currently granted to the combatant. Extra tags are never detrimental; however, some techniques have additional effects if the combatant has been granted specific tags beyond the required ones when using them. See the individual blade technique descriptions, below, for details. Note that tags are descriptive, not prescriptive - any specific requirements to use a technique, or specific mechanical effects of using a technique, are specified in the actual technique description.

Tags are divided into four types, based on what combat element they describe. A technique can require a maximum of one tag of each type; however, the number of total tags required or granted by the technique is determined by its complexity. Basic techniques require or grant a single tag, while Moderate, Advanced, and Expert techniques require or grant two, three, or four tags, respectively, at the same time. (Form techniques sometimes grant more or fewer tags; see the description of Forms below, and the individual technique descriptions, for details.)

Gesture tags ([Bash], [Slash], and [Thrust]) describe the type of action that a technique will involve.
  • Techniques which require or grant the [Bash] tag involve slamming the edge or flat of your weapon against your opponent with as much force as possible, to knock aside a shield or blast through a parry.
  • Techniques which require or grant the [Slash] tag swing the weapon in a wide arc, knocking aside a parry and often using the edge or point to cut deep gashes in an opponent.
  • Techniques which require or grant the [Thrust] tag use the point of the weapon to focus power in a small area, relying on control and precision to find the weak points in the opponent's defense.
Hand tags ([Cleave], [Rend], and [Sheath]) refer to the way the combatant grips the weapon.
  • Techniques which require or grant the [Cleave] tag are performed when wielding the weapon with two or more hands, for maximum power. A buckler can be used on the off-hand, subject to the normal rules for bucklers when wielding a weapon in two hands.
  • Techniques which require or grant the [Rend] tag are performed when wielding two weapons, a double weapon, or a weapon and shield. Bucklers are too small to be used effectively with this tag.
  • Techniques which require or grant the [Sheath] tag are performed by either drawing (if required) or sheathing (if granted) the weapon.
Motion tags ([Circle], [Spin], and [Stand]) designate how the combatant moves their entire body as part of the technique.
  • Techniques which require or grant the [Circle] tag usually attack a single opponent from multiple directions, forcing the target to follow the combatant's movement and confounding their attempts to dodge and defend.
  • Techniques which require or grant the [Spin] tag are used primarily against more than one opponent, allowing the combatant to attack or defend against enemies in multiple directions.
  • Techniques which require or grant the [Stand] tag keep the combatant's feet planted, for maximum balance and power through their entire body.
Finally, Position tags ([High], [Low], and[ Middle]) indicate the starting (for required tags) or ending (for granted tags) position of the weapon, with respect to the wielder, the target, or both.
  • Techniques which require or grant the [High] tag tend to focus on attacking with or defending against overhand blows, or strikes against the shoulder, head, face, or neck.
  • Techniques which require or grant the [Middle] tag initiate or defend against attacks to the chest, abdomen, arms, wrists, or hands.
  • Techniques which require or grant the [Low] tag attack or defend the waist, groin, legs, or feet, or originate from a crouching or kneeling position.
Using Blade Techniques in Combat
For a student or master of Bladecraft, combat is a far more complex beast than a common soldier. Attack, defense, stance, and movement all flow from one to the next, reacting to circumstance and optimizing advantage. While this can be complicated for someone new to Bladecraft to track and utilize, the graduated nature of technique complexity is designed to acclimate a combatant to the system slowly. Note: it is recommended that players new to Bladecraft begin at relatively low level, with Basic techniques, to get used to the system.

Unless otherwise specified, blade techniques are extraordinary abilities, which do not require particular concentration or patience to use (e.g., a barbarian can use blade techniques while raging). However, techniques cannot be used while a combatant is helpless or unconscious.

A student of Bladecraft generally enters a Form at the beginning of the day. Whenever you enter a Form (as a swift action), you remain in that Form until you choose to leave it (even once the encounter ends), or change to a new Form. Changing Forms requires a swift action, and you can change into any Form you know at any time. Each Form grants some benefit, as well as one or more tags. The granted tags determine which of the techniques you know are available to you at any given moment, by identifying Assaults and Parries with the required tags that you have been granted. Whenever you enter a new Form, you lose all previously granted tags and benefits in favor of those granted by the new Form.

When you use an Assault or Parry, all tags you had been granted by your current Form, or the previous techniques you had used, are replaced by a new set of tags granted by that technique, possibly with some overlap from the previous set. These new tags determine the techniques you can use after, and so forth. However, you retain the benefits of your most recent Form until changing to a new Form (or until you no longer qualify for that Form, as detailed in the individual Form descriptions below). If you haven't used any techniques since the end of your last turn, you return to your most recent Form at the end of your turn, replacing any existing tags with the tags granted by that Form.

Quote from: An Example Combat
While traveling, Durendal has been in Cat Crossing the Courtyard (a Basic Form from Wax style), carrying a shield on his arm. When his party is ambushed by an ogre, he begins the encounter in that Form, and so is granted the [Sheath] tag. His party is surprised, but during the surprise round, Durendal uses Unfolding the Fan (a Basic Assault from Wax style) to attack the ogre, and loses the [Sheath] tag, replaced by the granted tag of Unfolding the Fan, [Thrust]. When the ogre tries to attack him, Durendal uses The Falcon Stoops (a Basic Parry from Wood style) to damage the ogre, and replaces the [Thrust] tag with [Rend].

On Durendal's turn during the first full round, he has the [Rend] tag, and so uses The Serpent Strikes (a Basic Assault from Wood style), keeping the [Rend] tag and knocking the ogre out. The threat seems to be past, but he is wary, and switches to The Bear Sleeps in Winter (a Basic Form from Cloud style), losing [Rend] and gaining [Stand].

When the ogre's companions, a pair of wolves enraged by the loss of their protector, leap from the trees and surprise the party, Durendal uses Skipping Stones on the Shore (a Basic Parry from Cloud style) to raise his AC against the wolf that attacks him. He exchanges [Stand] for [Slash], and when it's his turn again, he uses Parting the Silk (a Basic Assault from Wax style) against his aggressor, losing [Slash] and gaining [Low]. If the combat continues, he could use Low Wind Rising to change his Form; or, if the wolves seemed likely to flee, he could make a Bladecraft check when using Parting the Silk to retain the [Slash] tag, so that he could use Twisting Weasel against the retreating animal.

The Bladecraft Skill

Bladecraft is a skill, as well as a subsystem. Many blade techniques grant bonus Bladecraft dice to attack rolls, damage rolls, or other situations; the size of a "Bladecraft die" (which may be more than one physical die) is determined by your ranks in the Bladecraft skill.

Bladecraft (Int; Trained Only)
You can learn blade techniques, and can use this skill to identify blade techniques as they are being used.

Whenever the effect of a blade technique you use depends on Bladecraft dice, the number of ranks you have in Bladecraft determine the type of dice you roll, as shown on the following table. Bladecraft dice gained as a bonus to damage are not multiplied on a critical hit. The progression of Bladecraft dice continues in the same way beyond 36 ranks. Multiple sources of Bladecraft dice on the same roll stack.
Ranks
Bladecraft Dice
1-4
1d4
5-8
1d6
9-12
1d8
13-16
1d4+1d6
17-20
1d6+1d6
21-24
1d8+1d6
25-28
1d4+2d6
29-32
1d6+2d6
33-36
1d8+2d6

Check: You can identify combat styles and sword techniques used by a combatant. Identifying a blade technique used by someone you can see requires no action, and the DC is equal to 10 + 1/2 the user's base attack bonus (rounded down, minimum +0). Identifying the current form someone is in requires no action, and the DC is equal to 20 + 1/2 the user's base attack bonus (rounded down, minimum +0).

You can also make a Bladecraft check when using a technique to retain a previously granted tag. If the technique would have granted a tag of the same type as the tag you are retaining, the retained tag replaces the tag you would have been granted. If the technique does not grant a tag of the same type, you retain the tag in addition to the new tags granted by the technique. The base DC for retaining a tag is 15, +3 for each tag the technique normally grants, -2 if the technique would have granted a tag of the same type. Note that, as this use of the Bladecraft skill is always in combat, you may not take 10 when attempting to retain a granted tag.

Action: None
Try Again: Yes
Special: You gain a +2 bonus on Bladecraft checks to identify a technique or form that you know.
Special: Any character with at least 1 rank in Bladecraft has the ability to learn blade techniques.
Synergy: You gain a +2 synergy bonus to Bladecraft checks for each of the following skills in which you have at least 5 ranks: Autohypnosis, Knowledge (History), or Martial Lore. If you have 5 or more ranks in Bladecraft, you gain a +2 synergy bonus to Concentration, Knowledge (History), and Martial Lore checks.
Note: Bladecraft is a class skill for any class which has full Base Attack Bonus progression.

Skill Tricks
The following skill tricks can be learned and used in the usual way; see Complete Scoundrel for in-depth rules on skill tricks.

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Bladecraft Resources
What follows is a variety of material which can be used to incorporate the Bladecraft subsystem into your D&D world. The next post contains a set of feats for students of Bladecraft, as well as substitution levels for many published classes which integrate Bladecraft into their existing mechanics.

The following four posts detail the 16 standard Blade Styles and their associated techniques. Several prestige classes for practitioners of Bladecraft take up the two successive posts, and the final post includes some equipment, magic items, and other materials which any student of Bladecraft may find useful.
« Last Edit: November 28, 2016, 01:03:39 PM by sirpercival »
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Re: Heron-Marked: The Art of Bladecraft
« Reply #1 on: July 29, 2012, 03:22:55 PM »
Feats & Blade-bound Substitution Levels

"When the sword is once drawn, the passions of men observe no bounds of moderation." - Alexander Hamilton

Bladecraft Feats
A fighter may select [Bladecraft] feats with their Fighter bonus feats; you must still meet the prerequisites of any feat you select.

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Stay tuned for Blade-bound substitution levels!
« Last Edit: November 28, 2016, 12:43:04 PM by sirpercival »
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Sword Techniques I
« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2012, 03:23:09 PM »
Blade Styles and Techniques (Basic)
The four Blade Styles described here are all of Basic complexity. Techniques from these styles can be learned by any character who can learn Bladecraft techniques. Required or granted tags are presented in the following order: Gesture, Hand, Motion, Position.

Cloud Style
The Cloud style has Basic complexity. Similar in philosophy to a number of training regimes developed for light infantry, Cloud style is often the first taste of Bladecraft to which veteran soldiers are introduced. Many of the techniques can be used with a spear as easily as a sword, and involve standing with feet planted, thrusting the weapon at an approaching opponent's vulnerable areas around the face and neck. Cloud style is especially useful when setting an ambush.

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Leaf Style
The Leaf style has Basic complexity. Leaf style is a relatively simple defensive style to be used against multiple enemies, especially when one has been ambushed. The combatant spins like a leaf on the wind, never attacking or defending in the same direction twice. Many students who specialize in Leaf style eventually develop the complex attack strategies of Wind style.

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Wax Style
The Wax style has Basic complexity. The beginning student of Bladecraft must be molded by their teacher, sculpted to establish the fundamental skills. Wax style is the most versatile of the Basic styles, containing techniques to be used in a variety of situations, including those which require a sheathed weapon.

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Wood Style
The Wood style has Basic complexity. Wood style is modeled after the traditional training techniques of dwarves and elves, and is used to introduce the principles of Bladecraft to students who have some experience wielding a weapon or shield in their off-hand.

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« Last Edit: November 28, 2016, 12:43:26 PM by sirpercival »
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Re: Heron-Marked: The Art of Bladecraft
« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2012, 03:23:21 PM »
Blade Styles and Techniques (Moderate)
The four Blade Styles described here are all of Moderate complexity. Techniques from these styles can be learned by any character who has at least 9 ranks in Bladecraft, a Base Attack Bonus of +6 or higher, and who knows at least 8 Basic techniques. Required or granted tags are presented in the following order: Gesture, Hand, Motion, Position.

Bone Style
The Bone style has Moderate complexity. Practitioners of Bone style often begin their training by learning Wood style; however, Bone style is far more aggressive, and favors punishing attacks, relying on the advantage of armor, a shield, or a second blade for defense rather than care. You slam through your opponent's defense, crushing their joints, and leaving them scattered for the vultures and the bleaching sun. However, a skilled enemy, especially one with their own second blade, can bypass the rudimentary defense of Bone style and cause major damage to a practitioner as well.

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Flame Style
The Flame style has Moderate complexity. The aggressive blade techniques in this style focus on a constant barrage of attacks with few parries, keeping the opponent on the defensive. You aim to consume your opponent's stamina like the flame consumes the branch. However, practitioners of Flame style often wield their weapon one-handed, and are therefore somewhat more vulnerable to being disarmed.

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Iron Style
The Iron style has Moderate complexity. This balanced style emphasizes single strong downward blows, wielding a weapon in a two-handed grip for added power. You fall upon your opponent like the hammer upon the anvil, shaping them to your will and battering aside defenses. However, practitioners of Iron style must keep their feet planted for balance and strength, and are susceptible to dodging.

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Vine Style
The Vine style has Moderate complexity. This defensive style emphasizes footwork and technique, tiring out the opponent before striking with an unexpected lunge. You lie in wait like the forest in winter, before exploding into the sudden growth of a new sapling. This style can be used against multiple unskilled enemies, redirecting their attacks against each other. However, a skilled opponent with an offensive style can cause serious damage to a practitioner of Vine style who makes even a single mistake.

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« Last Edit: November 28, 2016, 12:43:51 PM by sirpercival »
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Re: Heron-Marked: The Art of Bladecraft
« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2012, 03:23:37 PM »
Blade Styles and Techniques (Advanced)
The four Blade Styles described here are all of Advanced complexity. Techniques from these styles can be learned by any character who has at least 14 ranks in Bladecraft, a Base Attack Bonus of +11 or higher, and who knows at least 8 Moderate techniques. Required or granted tags are presented in the following order: Gesture, Hand, Motion, Position.

Blood Style
The Blood style has Advanced complexity. Almost every advanced student learns techniques from Blood style, the pulsing heart of superior Bladecraft. As the techniques a practitioner learns become more and more complex, it becomes similarly complicated to chain them together into a smooth, continuous dance. Blood style emphasizes control and fluidity, allowing the combatant to adapt to an evolving battle. While few of its techniques are particularly deadly in isolation, it should be noted that every sequence of blows exchanged by the best Blademasters includes at least one technique from the Blood style.

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Smoke Style
The Smoke style has Advanced complexity. This style is characterized by blades in constant motion, with the wielder melting away from attacks, twisting, and returning again to thrust steel into flesh. Most Smoke techniques involve the use of two weapons. While Smoke style is extremely effective against undisciplined, even bestial opponents, a well-trained cadre of soldiers wielding spears and shields can trap and skewer a practitioner as easily as any other combatant.

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Stone Style
The Stone style has Advanced complexity. Intended for heavily armored, shield-bearing combatants, practitioners of Stone style are boulders upon which the tide of battle breaks and shatters. You will be immobile as a mountain, withstanding anything your opponent throws against you, and crush your opponent beneath your powerful, cross-body swings. However, just as mountains can be ground to sand with time, a tireless and very fluid opponent can erode a Stone practitioner's stamina bit by bit.

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Wind Style
The Wind style has Advanced complexity. This primarily two-handed offensive style emphasizes broad slashes and constant rotation, tearing apart your opponents like a tornado through a wheat field. Wind style is ideal for facing multiple enemies, but is somewhat weak defensively, being very poor at parrying.

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« Last Edit: November 28, 2016, 12:44:47 PM by sirpercival »
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Re: Heron-Marked: The Art of Bladecraft
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2012, 03:23:59 PM »
Blade Styles and Techniques (Expert)
The four Blade Styles described here are all of Expert complexity. Techniques from these styles can be learned by any character who has at least 19 ranks in Bladecraft, a Base Attack Bonus of +16 or higher, and who knows at least 8 Advanced techniques. Required or granted tags are presented in the following order: Gesture, Hand, Motion, Position.

Clay Style
The Clay style has Expert complexity. Clay yields to the sculptor's touch, then becomes hard as stone, but brittle, in the fire. This form emphasizes misdirection, risk, and reward; it is usually referred to as the most difficult style to master. A practitioner of Clay style might make minimal movements, possibly taking small (or large) wounds, to maneuver the enemy into position, then execute the overconfident opponent with stunning precision; or, the blademaster might end a fight quickly and decisively with an unexpected gamble, coming a hairsbreadth from death in the process.

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Glass Style
The Glass style has Expert complexity. Often used by wizened, arthritic blademasters to teach their young prodigies humility, Glass style is the ultimate defensive style. Practitioners of Glass style understand the fragility of the body, the brevity and mortality of the soldier's plight, and seek to avoid deadly contact at nearly any cost.

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Sun Style
The Sun style has Expert complexity. Flashy and exciting, practitioners of Sun style are often master duelists or gladiators - warriors who know how to work a crowd, or leave a potential patron in awe. The techniques of Sun style are not substantially more complicated or difficult than those of other Expert styles, but they are as fancy as they are effective, and can sometimes cause a Blademaster to be over- or underestimated by their opponent.

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Water Style
The Water style has Expert complexity. Water style is the most versatile of all styles, granting its practitioners a means of adapting to their opponents' strengths and weaknesses. As water flows, it courses around obstacles and through barriers, cutting a channel through mountains, or flooding a rolling plain. Water style is perhaps the most utilized style by blademasters of sufficient skill and experience, as it is balanced for every situation, and attempts to turn weakness into strength.

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« Last Edit: November 28, 2016, 12:45:07 PM by sirpercival »
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Re: Heron-Marked: The Art of Bladecraft
« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2012, 03:24:15 PM »
Reserved for Sword Forms V
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Re: Heron-Marked: The Art of Bladecraft
« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2012, 03:24:25 PM »
and one more...
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Offline sirpercival

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Re: Heron-Marked: The Art of Bladecraft
« Reply #8 on: July 29, 2012, 03:24:45 PM »
Bladecraft Extras
Every student of Bladecraft needs weapons, armor, and shields with which to fight. Even then, they cannot function alone, and need allies to support and protect. Presented here are magic items, spells, and other supplemental materials to make a practitioner of Bladecraft into a well-rounded, complementary member of any party.

Bladecraft Items
In campaigns where Bladecraft is relatively common, these items should be available anywhere standard magic items are sold. For a limited time only! Get them while they last!

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New Spells & Powers
These new spells and powers are for the arcane, divine, or psionic student of Bladecraft.

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« Last Edit: November 28, 2016, 12:46:29 PM by sirpercival »
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Offline Garryl

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Re: Heron-Marked: The Art of Bladecraft
« Reply #9 on: July 29, 2012, 09:28:38 PM »
Characters who wait until high BaB and then dump a whole lot of ranks into Bladecraft can scoop up a lot of high level sword forms at once, skipping the lower level ones.

I'd go with any class that grants martial weapon proficiency with all weapons having it as a class skill, rather than making it by the individual character. Plus, that way you don't have to worry about what counts as a sword and what doesn't.

If you don't want Bladecraft to interact with ToB, better use different names. Otherwise, you need to know the source of an ability to determine its context and thus which it affects (unless you want them to be interchangeable, of course).
Instead of Stance, how about Posture?
Instead of Strike, how about Assault?

Offline sirpercival

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Re: Heron-Marked: The Art of Bladecraft
« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2012, 09:35:37 PM »
Characters who wait until high BaB and then dump a whole lot of ranks into Bladecraft can scoop up a lot of high level sword forms at once, skipping the lower level ones.
Humm.  Yes.  Any suggested fixes for this?  Or is it really a problem?  It's kinda like waiting till high level to take your martial adept levels to get high-level maneuvers.  Anyway, the easy way is to put in blanket prereqs, like have "to learn a moderate form you must have X basic forms" or something.

Quote
I'd go with any class that grants martial weapon proficiency with all weapons having it as a class skill, rather than making it by the individual character. Plus, that way you don't have to worry about what counts as a sword and what doesn't.
Yeah, that's a good idea for simplicity.

Quote
If you don't want Bladecraft to interact with ToB, better use different names. Otherwise, you need to know the source of an ability to determine its context and thus which it affects (unless you want them to be interchangeable, of course).
Instead of Stance, how about Posture?
Instead of Strike, how about Assault?
Yay!  I couldn't think of alternate names.  Assault is good; I'm not convinced about Posture, it doesn't mean quite the same thing.  What about Guardant (as in en garde)?  Or I could call it a Form and then change the name of Forms to Techniques.

I'd like some more feats, if you can think of any.  I'd like these to turn a fighter into a real class, and having it be better for fighters than for barbs, rangers, or paladins means that feats should play a big role.
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Offline FireInTheSky

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Re: Heron-Marked: The Art of Bladecraft
« Reply #11 on: July 29, 2012, 09:46:42 PM »
How about a feat that lets you get to a different set of forms than the one you're currently in would typically dictate?  "Double Jointed" or something like that? (Quintuple-Jointed if you're a Thri-kreen  :D)


Also, how about a feat that lets people use something other than a sword?  Obviously, the class is primarily for sword-wielders, but if someone studied enough, they could potentially adapt these forms to other weapons (axes? Ashandarei? spears?).
« Last Edit: July 29, 2012, 09:50:25 PM by FireInTheSky »

Offline veekie

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Re: Heron-Marked: The Art of Bladecraft
« Reply #12 on: July 29, 2012, 11:14:05 PM »
Well if you want to open it up I can see forms appropriate to a wide variety of close combat weapons. Ranged weapons are a bit trickier.

Basic archetypes I can see are:
-Large blade forms for bladed weapons in two hands.
-Axe forms for chopping weapons
-Fencing forms for one handed bladed weapons.
-Twin forms for paired light weapons(though Slash/Pierce light weapons share similar styles, bludgeoning light weapons would follow different strokes)
-Hammer forms for solid impact weapons
-Staff forms for anything with a long stick, ranging from spears to staves to polearms and scythes
-Spear forms for bladed polearms
-Chain forms for either fully-chain weapons or weapons incorporating chains like flails.
-Shield forms
-Unarmed forms

Quite a lot of possible scope creep though. I'd say pick a few of them and finish them off first rather than spread yourself thin like that.
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Offline Garryl

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Re: Heron-Marked: The Art of Bladecraft
« Reply #13 on: July 29, 2012, 11:21:35 PM »
You may wish to make this a flat-out variant that grants benefits based on BaB, rather than something always available at the cost of skill ranks. If the abilities are as useful as I think they're going to be, taking ranks in this skill will be a no-brainer and/or essentially required.

Offline sirpercival

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Re: Heron-Marked: The Art of Bladecraft
« Reply #14 on: July 30, 2012, 07:55:45 AM »
You may wish to make this a flat-out variant that grants benefits based on BaB, rather than something always available at the cost of skill ranks. If the abilities are as useful as I think they're going to be, taking ranks in this skill will be a no-brainer and/or essentially required.
Well, my thought had been that it's possible to fight things at least somewhat effectively without using sword forms.  Everyone who wasn't trained by a blademaster in the books did so, you know?  So I wanted to have there be a method of allowing varied investment in the mechanic.  As for it being required... I'm hoping it will make a Fighter more viable, in which sense it would be required because a normal Fighter is not.



How about a feat that lets you get to a different set of forms than the one you're currently in would typically dictate?  "Double Jointed" or something like that? (Quintuple-Jointed if you're a Thri-kreen  :D)
Well... you can already kind of do that with Favored Form.

Quote
Also, how about a feat that lets people use something other than a sword?  Obviously, the class is primarily for sword-wielders, but if someone studied enough, they could potentially adapt these forms to other weapons (axes? Ashandarei? spears?).
This would be more a factor of having other categories for forms, since many moves you make with a sword just don't make sense for weapons with other shapes.



Quite a lot of possible scope creep though. I'd say pick a few of them and finish them off first rather than spread yourself thin like that.

Yes, I am certainly worried about scope creep.  It's already moved way beyond what I expected originally, lol.  So I figured to start with the single-handed form since that seems to be most of what's in the books.


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Offline Garryl

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Re: Heron-Marked: The Art of Bladecraft
« Reply #15 on: July 30, 2012, 09:38:42 AM »
You may wish to make this a flat-out variant that grants benefits based on BaB, rather than something always available at the cost of skill ranks. If the abilities are as useful as I think they're going to be, taking ranks in this skill will be a no-brainer and/or essentially required.
Well, my thought had been that it's possible to fight things at least somewhat effectively without using sword forms.  Everyone who wasn't trained by a blademaster in the books did so, you know?  So I wanted to have there be a method of allowing varied investment in the mechanic.  As for it being required... I'm hoping it will make a Fighter more viable, in which sense it would be required because a normal Fighter is not.

It's more like the fact that a sword form will always be more valuable than any other skill rank to a martial combatant. Either that, or the effects will be too small and situational to be worth keeping track of. Possibly even both.

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Re: Heron-Marked: The Art of Bladecraft
« Reply #16 on: July 30, 2012, 09:49:07 AM »
You may wish to make this a flat-out variant that grants benefits based on BaB, rather than something always available at the cost of skill ranks. If the abilities are as useful as I think they're going to be, taking ranks in this skill will be a no-brainer and/or essentially required.
Well, my thought had been that it's possible to fight things at least somewhat effectively without using sword forms.  Everyone who wasn't trained by a blademaster in the books did so, you know?  So I wanted to have there be a method of allowing varied investment in the mechanic.  As for it being required... I'm hoping it will make a Fighter more viable, in which sense it would be required because a normal Fighter is not.

It's more like the fact that a sword form will always be more valuable than any other skill rank to a martial combatant. Either that, or the effects will be too small and situational to be worth keeping track of. Possibly even both.
Sounds like a series of [Combat] feats from the Tomes. I like those. :D

Tracking both BAB and a skill sounds like a combination of a Combat feat and a Skill feat from the Tomes.
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Offline sirpercival

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Re: Heron-Marked: The Art of Bladecraft
« Reply #17 on: July 30, 2012, 09:49:30 AM »
Yeah... okay, how do I allow variable investment?

I guess I could make it based on BAB, like you get 1 per 2 BAB, and then you learn the rest through feats & Blademaster.  Does that sound workable?
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Offline veekie

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Re: Heron-Marked: The Art of Bladecraft
« Reply #18 on: July 30, 2012, 11:27:08 AM »
Quote
Yes, I am certainly worried about scope creep.  It's already moved way beyond what I expected originally, lol.  So I figured to start with the single-handed form since that seems to be most of what's in the books.
Most of the offensive forms are 2H, but the iconic Westlands blademaster sword is a katana/bastard sword hybrid thats intended to be used that way anyway.

EDIT: BAB + Fighter Feat + Blademaster expansions seems about right.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2012, 11:35:26 AM by veekie »
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Offline sirpercival

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Re: Heron-Marked: The Art of Bladecraft
« Reply #19 on: July 30, 2012, 12:57:08 PM »
OK, I changed the rules writeup so that you learn techniques via BAB, feats, and blademaster (and not skill points).  Bladecraft is still a skill, though, like Spellcraft.  It'll be important for the Blademaster.

Oh yeah, and I did some name changes.  Sword forms --> Sword techniques; Stances --> Forms; Strikes --> Assaults.
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