Blade Magic (5e Sourcebook)
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- 1 Blade Magic
- 1.1 Readying Maneuvers
- 1.2 Initiating Maneuvers
- 1.3 Recovering Expended Maneuvers
- 1.4 Concentration
- 1.5 Discipline Paths
- 1.6 Multiclass Characters
- 1.7 Maneuver and Stance Descriptions
- 2 Martial Disciplines
A sourcebook for characters who want the battlemaster's maneuvers to make up most of their abilities. Martial powers fall into two broad categories: stances and maneuvers (which include boosts, counters, and strikes). A martial maneuver is a discrete effect that is temporarily expended after use. A stance is never expended and is always available to you.
You can use a particular stance or maneuver as many times as you like in a single day, but each time you use a maneuver, you temporarily expend it; you lose a little of your mental focus, you exhaust some small portion of your personal ki or energy, or you simply finish the move out of position and can’t immediately launch the same attack again without assuming the proper posture and mental state first. In other words, you can’t use an expended maneuver again until you rest for a brief time or perform a specific action in combat that allows you to recover one or more expended maneuvers. The type of action necessary depends on what type of martial adept you are; see below for details on each class’s maneuver recovery mechanism. As a result, you can normally use each of your readied maneuvers once per encounter, but sometimes you can recover one or more maneuvers you used earlier in the encounter and use them again. You never expend or use up your stances, so they are always available.
You do not need to ready your stances ahead of time. Every stance you know is always available to you. However, maneuvers require preparation in the form of exercise, prayer, meditation, or simple mental rehearsal. Therefore, you must choose a selection of readied maneuvers from all the maneuvers you know. Only your readied maneuvers are available for immediate use. To ready maneuvers, you require a brief period of practice, exercise, meditation, or prayer. The exact nature of the exercise or meditation depends on your martial adept class, but each class requires 5 minutes of preparation time.
Since each martial maneuver requires a precise combination of techniques for gathering inner energy, training muscle memory, speaking prayers or catechisms, and even focusing the mind on specific concepts or analogies, most martial adepts can’t keep every maneuver they know at the forefront of their minds. You do not need to be well rested to ready your maneuvers, but you do need to be able to stand and move without restraint. As long as you are not physically disturbed during your exercise and meditation, you can exchange your previously chosen set of readied maneuvers for a new set of readied maneuvers. Unlike a wizard preparing her spells, you cannot choose to leave a readied maneuver slot unfilled.
To initiate a maneuver or a stance, you must be able to move. You do not need to be able to speak. You initiate a maneuver by taking the specified initiation action. A maneuver might require a reaction, bonus action, or action, to initiate. The process of initiating a maneuver is similar to that of casting a spell, although there are some key differences (see below). You can only choose to initiate a maneuver that is currently readied and unexpended. In addition, if you are a crusader, the maneuver you choose must be granted to you; you can’t choose to initiate a maneuver that is currently withheld.
You initiate a stance as a bonus action. A stance remains in effect indefinitely and is not expended. You enjoy the benefit your stance confers until you change to another stance you know as a bonus action. You can remain in a stance outside of combat situations, and you can enjoy its benefit while exploring or traveling.
Recovering Expended Maneuvers
You begin each encounter with all your readied maneuvers unexpended. When you initiate a maneuver, it is expended; you cannot use it again until you recover it. You can recover expended maneuvers in two ways: through special actions or at the end of an encounter. You never expend a stance.
Most martial adepts can refresh some or all of their expended maneuvers in the course of a battle by taking a special action to do so. The type of special action required depends on a martial adept’s class (or feat) selection, as summarized below.
A crusader recovers expended maneuvers whenever no more withheld maneuvers can be granted to him (the round in which his last withheld maneuver is granted doesn’t count).
A swordsage can recover up to a number of his expended maneuvers equal to his proficiency modifier if he has not moved this round by reducing his speed to 0 feet and spending an action. If a swordsage initiates a maneuver or changes his stance during a round, he can’t recover his expended maneuvers on the same round, and cannot initiate a maneuver after recovering them until the start of his next turn.
A warblade can recover all of his expended maneuvers as a bonus action, followed by making a melee attack or using a standard action to do nothing else in the round. If he initiates a maneuver or changes his stance during a round, he can’t recover his expended maneuvers on the same round, and cannot initiate a maneuver after recovering them until the start of his next turn.
End of the Encounter
When an encounter ends, a martial adept automatically recovers all expended maneuvers. Even a few moments out of combat is sufficient to refresh all maneuvers expended in the previous battle. In the case of a long, drawn-out series of fights, or if an adept is out of combat entirely, assume that if a character makes no attacks of any kind, initiates no new maneuvers, and is not targeted by any enemy attacks for 1 full minute, he can recover all expended maneuvers. If a character can’t avoid attacking or being attacked for 1 minute, he can’t automatically recover his maneuvers and must use special actions to do so instead.
Unlike with spells, you need not concentrate to initiate a maneuver or stance, though stances require a modicum of concentration to maintain, making it impossible to maintain a stance while concentrating on a spell or raging.
Enemy interference might make certain maneuvers impossible to complete. For example, if an enemy has grappled you, you would not be able to use a maneuver that required you to move. If you initiate a maneuver and can’t use it, the maneuver is still considered expended. You are considered to have used its initiation action for the purpose of determining what actions remain available to you on your turn.
You do not provoke opportunity attacks when you initiate a maneuver or stance unless its description explicitly says otherwise. Some maneuvers allow you to move and take other actions that could provoke opportunity attacks. Unless the maneuver description specifically says that such actions do not provoke attacks of opportunity, they do. For example, if you use a maneuver to move past a foe, and during that movement you move in a way that provokes opportunity attacks, you provoke them as normal unless the maneuver description explicitly says otherwise.
Each martial discipline is split into various paths detailed in each discipline. Paths contain various maneuvers that are split into the following tiers: novice, initiate, adept, and master. A character must know at least one maneuver of the previous tier before being able to take a maneuver in a higher tier, as well as be of the required level to take them.
A character must know at least one maneuver of a certain tier in any path of a discipline before being able to take a stance of the corresponding tier in that discipline. If a character is unable to take any stance from their available disciplines due to not having the prerequisite tier unlocked, they delay taking a stance until they would be able to take a stance upon which they must learn the available stance.
Your capacity to learn martial maneuvers depends partly on your combined levels in all your martial initiation classes and partly on your individual levels in those classes. Once you have the Martial Initiate feature from more than one class, use the rules below. If you multiclass but have the Martial Initiate feature from only one class, you follow the rules as described in that class.
Maneuvers Known and Readied
When you take a level in a class with the Martial Initiate class feature, you may take any maneuver you qualify for from the list of disciplines the class has access to, though you may not take a maneuver that you have already learned. A character with two or more martial adept classes keeps track of his readied maneuvers, expended maneuvers, and recovery of expended maneuvers separately for each class.
You determine what stances you know as if you were a single-classed members of a class that grants the Martial Initiate class feature, and may use the maneuvers learned from other classes to determine which maneuvers you would be able to take. However, you ready maneuvers separately for each class you possess that grants the Martial Initiate class feature according to which class allowed you to learn the maneuver, and you may not ready the same maneuver twice.
Each maneuver you know and prepare is associated with one of your classes, and you use the martial initiate ability of that class for any saving throws associated when you initiate the maneuver.
Maneuver and Stance Descriptions
This entry is the name by which the maneuver is generally known. However, it’s fairly common for various schools or traditions of the Sublime Way to bestow their own names on maneuvers. For example, the swooping dragon strike maneuver might be known as the dragon’s pounce, the gentle reminder, or something as esoteric as Cain falling down the mountain.
This entry refers to the tier at which a maneuver is placed; see the table above for the minimum level required in a class that has the Martial Initiate feature in order to learn the maneuver. A maneuver of a given tier within a specific cannot be learned unless at least one maneuver of a lower tier of that path has been learned.
Most martial powers fall into one of four categories: boost, counter, stance, or strike. Some maneuvers don’t fall into any of these categories, but these are exceptions to the rule.
This category covers maneuvers that allow a warrior to focus himself, summon his ki energy or other source of power, and unleash it through his melee attacks. A crusader who draws a deep breath, shouts an invocation to his god or cause, and then unleashes a mighty attack is using a boost.
A boost is a maneuver that grants a bonus, often on attack rolls or damage rolls, for the duration of your turn. A boost always requires a bonus action, usually allowing you to initiate it before unleashing the attack action or initiating a martial strike. Some boosts impart additional effects, such as stun or fatigue, to your attacks, and others provide some additional effect on an enemy you have just successfully struck in battle. If a boost affects your attacks, it applies to all of your attacks for the round in which it was initiated, but its effect ends at the end of your turn. A boost’s effect applies for its duration, no matter which weapon you might wield in that round. Even if you switch weapons in the middle of your turn, the effect of the boost applies to your new weapon as readily as the previous weapon. Each maneuver’s description gives you the details of each boost’s effect.
A boost doesn’t have to modify a melee attack. It could provide a bonus on a skill check, to your speed, and so on, but such maneuvers are relatively rare.
A counter is a fast, usually defensive maneuver that you use to foil your opponent’s actions. A swordsage who dodges to just beyond a rampaging minotaur’s reach is using a counter.
The Setting Sun school features many counters, because it focuses on teaching students to turn an opponent’s strength against him. Counters are reactions that you attempt during a foe’s turn. Usually, your opponent must make a specific action, such as an attack against you, for you to use a counter.
A strike is a maneuver that allows a special attack. A warblade who delivers a single blow that slays an ogre is using a strike. A strike imparts some advantage or bonus over an attack, such as extra damage, an additional effect such as blinding a foe, and so forth.
Strikes almost always require an action to complete, and count as having taken the attack action. Most of them involve a melee attack as part of completing the maneuver. If the attack hits, your opponent typically takes normal melee damage, as well as suffering the effect of the strike. When making a strike you use your normal attack bonus, all attack and damage modifiers, weapon damage, and so forth, as normal.
You can make a critical hit with a strike, and in a few cases, a critical hit grants you additional benefits, with any extra dice of damage being doubled as normal. Because strikes allow for a specific form of attack, you cannot initiate a strike using a benefit from spells or effects that would grant you an additional action, such as the haste spell. In addition, you cannot combine special attacks such as shove or grapple with strikes. However, some strikes enable you to make special attacks as part of their initiation; see the specific maneuver descriptions for details.
A technique is a maneuver that creates a special effect without making an attack as part of the maneuver. A swordsage who manifests a blast of fire that sears his foe uses a technique.
A technique will almost always require an action to complete, and will detail its specific effects in the maneuver description.
Some maneuvers are the basic building blocks that make up the discipline. Flourishes can be boosts, counters, strikes, or techniques, but unlike most of these maneuvers, they are not expended upon being initiated. A crusader who unceasingly makes the same martial strike turn after turn would be using a flourish.
Flourishes do not belong to any specific path, and may be taken as though they were normal maneuvers using a martial initiate's learned maneuvers. In addition, they are always available and unexpended if readied (though not necessarily granted, in the case of the crusader). In order to take a given flourish, you must have learned at least one other maneuver from that discipline.
A stance is not a maneuver, but a specific fighting method that you maintain from round to round. So long as you maintain a stance, you gain some benefit from it. A swordsage initiate of the Shadow Hand school who creates a concealing shroud of shadow energy while he moves is using a stance.
You can initiate a stance as a bonus action. When you enter a stance, you immediately gain its benefit. You continue to gain the benefit of a typical stance as long as you remain in it. Some stances give you a benefit only when you meet certain conditions. For example, a stance might grant a bonus when you move, when you remain in the same spot, or if you attack a stunned or flat-footed opponent.
Stances require a small amount of concentration to maintain, and you are unable to concentrate on a spell while maintaining a stance. Furthermore, you are unable to maintain a stance while raging, as the chaotic movements of the rage are antithetical to the precise ones required for a stance.
You can use a bonus action to end one stance and begin another, or you can choose to simply end your current stance without entering a different one. You continue to gain a stance’s benefits until you switch to a new stance or end your current one. At the start of your turn, you might be in a stance that grants you a bonus on attack rolls. You could make your attacks—gaining the stance’s bonus—then use a bonus action to switch to a stance that gives you a bonus to AC. Your stance ends if you are incapacitated. If you later recover, you must use another bonus action to initiate your stance once again.
Unlike other maneuvers except for flourishes, stances do not belong to any specific path, but to a discipline as a whole. In order to take a stance from a discipline, you must know at least one maneuver from the same tier in a path in that discipline. If a character is unable to take any stance from their available disciplines due to not having the prerequisite tier unlocked, they delay taking a stance until they would be able to take a stance upon which they must learn the available stance.