Swordsage (5e Class)

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Author: Ghostwheel (talk)
Date Created: January 21 2020
Status: Complete
Editing: Clarity edits only please
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One With The Blade[edit]

Those who earn the title of swordsage spend many formative years in training to hone their abilities. It is rare for a swordsage to be a person who started with no talent whatsoever; many consider such warriors to be loved by the blade from the moment they begin training with one. A swordsage's training forms a bond, not with a single sword, but with the practice of swordsmanship itself. Their weapons are an extension of their limbs, their techniques as personal as a monk's bare-handed strikes, and their control as perfect as any somatic function can be.

The Ancient Lineage[edit]

Many of the same monasteries and garrisons that produce the kensei, a monk who have trained to wield weapons, also stumble upon those worthy of becoming a swordsage. A kensei is a monk first, but a swordsage must belong to their weapon before their fists. Both schools employ advanced martial arts and awareness of oneself, but the modified teachings manifest in different ways for each. Ultimately, it seems, the source of a certain choice is the difference between them: did you choose the sword... Or did the sword choose you?

Creating a Swordsage[edit]

When creating a swordsage, think about what sort of life you had before taking up the blade. Were you young, full of potential, a perfect blank slate upon which the way of the sword might be inscribed? Did you waste away your life, unsatisfied, until you were one day forced to pick up a fallen warrior's sword to save your own life, only to find that it seemed to leap to your defense? Had you been trained in other forms of combat, and only now realized how some quick training seemed to put you leagues ahead of others with the same investment? However you found it, from the moment you held a sword in hand, you have been destined for greatness. Your training will carve the sword into your very soul.

Quick Build[edit]

You can make a swordsage easily by following these suggestions. First, Dexterity or Wisdom should be your highest ability score, followed by Constitution. Second, choose the hermit background.

Class Features[edit]

As a Swordsage, you gain the following class features.

Hit Points[edit]

Hit Dice: 1d8 per Swordsage level
Hit Points at 1st Level: d8 + your Constitution modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d8


Armor: Light armor
Weapons: Simple weapons, martial weapons
Tools: None
Saving Throws: Strength, Dexterity
Skills: Choose two from Acrobatics, Athletics, History, Insight, Perception, Stealth.


You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:

  • (a) a rapier or (b) a shortsword
  • (a) a shortsword or (b) a light crossbow and a quiver of 20 bolts
  • (a) leather armor or (b) two daggers
  • (a) a dungeoneer's pack or (b) an explorer's pack

The Swordsage

Level Proficiency
Features Maneuvers
1st +2 Martial Initiate, Unarmored Defense 6 4
2nd +2 Unarmored Movement 7 4 2 +10 ft.
3rd +2 Martial Enlightenment, Spiritual Training 8 5 2 +10 ft.
4th +2 Ability Score Improvement 9 5 2 +10 ft.
5th +3 Martial Prowess 10 6 3 +10 ft.
6th +3 Martial Enlightenment class feature 11 6 3 +15 ft.
7th +3 Evasion 12 7 3 +15 ft.
8th +3 Ability Score Improvement 13 7 3 +15 ft.
9th +4 Martial Enlightenment class feature 14 8 3 +15 ft.
10th +4 Unarmored Movement improvement 15 8 3 +20 ft.
11th +4 16 9 4 +20 ft.
12th +4 Ability Score Improvement 17 9 4 +20 ft.
13th +5 Martial Enlightenment class feature 18 10 4 +20 ft.
14th +5 Ambidextrous 19 10 4 +25 ft.
15th +5 Martial Enlightenment class feature 20 11 4 +25 ft.
16th +5 Ability Score Improvement 21 11 4 +25 ft.
17th +6 22 12 5 +25 ft.
18th +6 Unarmored Movement improvement 23 12 5 +30 ft.
19th +6 Ability Score Improvement 24 13 5 +30 ft.
20th +6 Dual Boost 25 13 5 +30 ft.

Martial Initiate[edit]

Maneuvers Known[edit]

You begin your journey with knowledge of six martial maneuvers. The paths available to you are from the Desert Wind, Diamond Mind, Setting Sun, Shadow Hand, Stone Dragon, and Tiger Claw disciplines. Once you know a maneuver, you must ready it before you can use it (see Maneuvers Readied, below). You learn additional maneuvers at higher levels, as shown on the Maneuvers Known column of the Swordsage table.

See the maneuvers description for more information on maneuvers, which rank of maneuvers you are able to take, and the prerequisites for specific maneuvers. At 4th, 10th, 16th, and 20th levels, you may choose to replace up to a number of maneuvers equal to your proficiency bonus, losing access to chosen maneuvers or stances and instead learning others. You must be able to fulfill any prerequisites for maneuvers and stances you know after replacing, including previous maneuvers in a specific path, and so on.

Maneuvers Readied[edit]

You can ready four of the maneuvers you know at 1st level, and as you advance in level and learn more maneuvers. You ready your maneuvers by meditating and exercising for 5 minutes. The maneuvers you choose remain readied until you decide to meditate again and change them. You need not sleep or rest for any long period of time to ready your maneuvers; any time you spend 5 minutes in meditation, you can change your readied maneuvers.

You begin an encounter with all your readied maneuvers unexpended, regardless of how many times you might have already used them since you chose them. When you initiate a maneuver, you expend it for the current encounter, so each of your readied maneuvers can be used once per encounter (unless you recover them, as described below).

If you haven't moved on your turn, you can recover expended maneuvers by spending an action to take the Dodge action, upon which you refresh up to a number of expended maneuvers equal to your proficiency modifier and you cannot move from your current space until the end of your current turn. You cannot initiate a maneuver or change your stance on the same turn as which you regain your expended maneuvers, or until the start of your next turn. You may ready additional maneuvers at higher levels, as shown on the Maneuvers Readied column of the Swordsage table.

Stances Known[edit]

At 2nd level you begin play with knowledge of two stances from any discipline open to swordsages for which you meet the prerequisites. You learn additional stances as shown on the Stances Known column of the Swordsage table. Unlike maneuvers, stances are not expended, and you do not have to ready them. All the stances you know are available to you at all times, and you can change the stance you are currently using as a bonus action. You are unable to concentrate on a spell while you are in a stance and are unable to maintain a stance while raging.

Saving Throws[edit]

Some of your martial maneuvers require your target to make a saving throw to resist the maneuver's effects. The saving throw DC is calculated as follows:

Martial Maneuver save DC = 8 + your proficiency modifier + your Dexterity or Wisdom modifier (your choice)

Unarmored Defense[edit]

Beginning at 1st level, while you are wearing no armor and not wielding a shield, your AC equals 10 + your Dexterity modifier + your Wisdom modifier.

Unarmored Movement[edit]

Upon reaching 2nd level, your speed increases by 10 feet while you are not wearing armor or wielding a shield. This bonus increases when you reach certain swordsage levels, as shown on the Swordsage table.

When you reach 10th level, you gain the ability to move along vertical surfaces and across liquids on your turn without falling during the move.

When you reach 18th level, you have a flying speed equal to your current walking speed. This benefit works only in short bursts; you fall if you end your turn in the air and nothing else is holding you aloft.

Martial Enlightenment[edit]

At 3rd level, you choose which path you follow towards enlightenment and towards perfection of both your body and mind. Choose the Enlightenment of the Jade Phoenix, or the Enlightenment of the Shadowed Sun, detailed at the end of the class description. Your choice grants you features at 3rd level and again at 5th, 9th, 13th, and 15th level.

Ability Score Improvement[edit]

When you reach 4th level, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, you can't increase an ability score above 20 using this feature.

Martial Prowess[edit]

Beginning at 5th level, whenever you hit with a strike that deals additional damage on a successful hit, you deal 2d6 additional damage.

This feature does not stack with itself, even if gained from multiple sources.


At 7th level, your instinctive agility lets you dodge out of the way of certain area effects, such as a blue dragon's lightning breath or a fireball spell. When you are subjected to an effect that allows you to make a Dexterity saving throw to take only half damage, you instead take no damage if you succeed on the saving throw, and only half damage if you fail.


Beginning at 14th level, if you would make an attack with a weapon using Two-Weapon Fighting, you may instead make two attacks with that weapon.

Dual Boost[edit]

Upon reaching 20th level, you are so fast that you can activate two boosts with a bonus action. You may use this class feature a number of times equal to your Wisdom modifier (minimum 1) and regain uses at the end of a long rest.

Martial Enlightenment[edit]

As you've trained in the ways of sages past, the marriage of your blade and spirit will manifest strange and awesome powers. Choose between the Jade Phoenix, the path of a sword-soul touched by magic, or the Shadowed Sun, which struggles to balance the destructive potential of a blade in war with the gentle touch of a ray of sunlight.

Enlightenment of the Jade Phoenix[edit]

When you discover the Enlightenment of the Jade Phoenix, your sword and soul form a powerful bond that allows you to tap into the arcane potential of both. You draw new strength from your sword and become as the legendary raptor of fire; an investiture of flame and rebirth.


When you reach 3rd level, you augment your martial prowess with the ability to cast spells.

Cantrips. You learn two cantrips of your choice from the wizard spell list. You learn an additional wizard cantrip of your choice at 10th level.

Spell Slots. The Enlightenment of the Jade Phoenix Spellcasting table shows how many spell slots you have to cast your wizard spells of 1st level and higher. To cast one of these spells, you must expend a slot of the spell's level or higher. You regain all expended spell slots when you finish a long rest. For example, if you know the 1st-level spell shield and have a 1st-level and a 2nd-level spell slot available, you can cast shield using either slot.

When you cast a spell gained from Enlightenment of the Jade Phoenix that requires concentration, you may automatically end the stance to concentrate on the spell.

Spells Known of 1st-Level and Higher. You know three 1st-level wizard spells of your choice, two of which you must choose from the abjuration and evocation spells on the wizard spell list.

The Spells Known column of the Enlightenment of the Jade Phoenix Spellcasting table shows when you learn more wizard spells of 1st level or higher. Each of these spells must be an abjuration or evocation spell of your choice, and must be of a level for which you have spell slots. For instance, when you reach 7th level in this class, you can learn one new spell of 1st or 2nd level.

The spells you learn at 8th, 14th, and 20th level can come from any school of magic.

Whenever you gain a level in this class, you can replace one of the wizard spells you know with another spell of your choice from the wizard spell list. The new spell must be of a level for which you have spell slots, and it must be an abjuration or evocation spell, unless you're replacing the spell you gained at 3rd, 8th, 14th, or 20th level from any school of magic.

Spellcasting Ability. Wisdom is your spellcasting ability for your wizard spells, since you learn your spells through meditation and insight. You use your Wisdom whenever a spell refers to your spellcasting ability. In addition, you use your Wisdom modifier when setting the saving throw DC for a wizard spell you cast and when making an attack roll with one.

Spell save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier
Spell attack modifier = your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier

Enlightenment of the Jade Phoenix Spellcasting

Spell Slots per Spell Level
1st 2nd 3rd 4th
3rd 2 3 2
4th 2 4 3
5th 2 4 3
6th 2 4 3
7th 2 5 4 2
8th 2 6 4 2
9th 2 6 4 2
10th 3 7 4 3
11th 3 8 4 3
12th 3 8 4 3
13th 3 9 4 3 2
14th 3 10 4 3 2
15th 3 10 4 3 2
16th 3 11 4 3 3
17th 3 11 4 3 3
18th 3 11 4 3 3
19th 3 12 4 3 3 1
20th 3 13 4 3 3 1

Mystic Phoenix Stance[edit]

Upon reaching 6th level, you unlock the first mystery of the jade phoenix, the mystic phoenix stance. While you are in a stance from any swordsage discipline you know, you can forgo its normal benefit as a bonus action to gain the effect of mystic phoenix stance. This ability lasts as long as you would maintain the stance. You can also stop using mystic phoenix stance and resume gaining the normal benefit of the stance as a bonus action.

While you maintain this stance, you are able to maintain concentration on a spell granted to you by this subclass and you have advantage on Constitution saving throws to maintain concentration on spells. In addition, when you first activate this ability, you can choose to expend a spell slot. If you do, any time you take damage from an attack, reduce the damage dealt to you by an amount equal to the level of the spell slot expended.

Firebird Stance[edit]

When you reach 9th level, you unlock the second mystery of the jade phoenix, the firebird stance. While you are in a stance from any swordsage discipline you know, you can forgo its normal benefit as a bonus action to gain the effect of mystic phoenix stance. This ability lasts as long as you would maintain the stance. You can also stop using firebird stance and resume gaining the normal benefit of the stance as a bonus action.

While you maintain this stance, you are able to maintain concentration on a spell granted to you by this subclass and you have resistance to fire damage. In addition, when you first activate this ability, you can choose to expend a spell slot. If you do, a fiery aura covers you, and when a creature enters an area within 10 feet of you for the first time on a turn or starts its turn there, it must make a Dexterity saving throw. On a failed save, the creature takes 1d8 fire damage per spell level of the expended spell, but to a maximum of 4d8. On a successful save, the creature takes half as much damage.

War Magic[edit]

Beginning at 13th level, when you use your action to initiate a strike, you can cast a cantrip as a bonus action on a successful hit.

Emerald Immolation[edit]

At 15th level, you can perform the awesome emerald immolation. You explode in a searing blast of green fire that forces all creatures within 20 feet of you to make a Dexterity saving throw or take 12d6 fire damage. Creatures that save take half as much damage. Extraplanar creatures that fail their saves must immediately succeed on a Wisdom save against your Martial Initiate DC or be dismissed to their native planes as though they had been hit by the Dismissal effect of the dispel evil and good spell. This blast utterly destroys you, but 1d6 rounds later, you re-form in the exact spot where you were when you employed this ability. You are stunned for 1 round after you reappear, but you are healed of all damage, as well as the blinded, charmed, deafened, frightened, poisoned, and restrained conditions. Any equipment you were wearing or objects you were holding or carrying when you used this ability re-form with you, exactly as they were. After using this feature, you can't use it again for 7 days.

Enlightenment of the Nine[edit]

While others focus on specialization, you instead prefer breadth over depth. The Enlightenment of the Nine gives you access to all of the martial disciplines, granting you powers from a variety of schools and versatility that few can dream of.

Unbound Disciple[edit]

Beginning at 3rd level your training allows you to grasp secrets unknown to most people. You learn a maneuver of Novice tier of your choice from any discipline.

You learn an additional maneuver of Initiate tier at 5th, 7th, and 9th levels from any discipline, an additional maneuver of Adept tier at 11th, 13th, and 15th levels from any discipline, and an additional maneuver of Master tier at 17th and 19th levels from any discipline.

Finally, you may learn an additional stance of Initiate tier at 7th and 9th levels from any discipline, an additional stance of Adept tier at 13th and 15th levels from any discipline, and an additional stance of Master tier at 17th levels from any discipline,

Discipline Focus[edit]

Though your knowledge crosses all disciplines, some are closer to heart than others. At 6th level, choose a discipline; when you initiate a maneuver from this discipline, you may add your Wisdom modifier to damage on melee weapon attacks made that turn. You cannot add your Wisdom modifier to damage more than once through the use of this feature.

At 9th, 13th, and 15th level, choose an additional discipline that this feature applies to.

Counter Stance[edit]

When you reach 13th level, as part of initiating a counter you may choose a stance which you know. You enter that stance for the next minute, and the stance does not count against the number of stances you may maintain. You regain the use of this feature at the end of a long rest.

Perfect Form[edit]

At 15th level, your movements become impossible to stop. Your movement is unaffected by difficult terrain, and spells and magical effects can't reduce your speed or cause you to be paralyzed or restrained. You can spend 5 feet of movement to automatically escape from non-magical restraints or the grappled condition. Additionally, being underwater imposes no penalties on your movement or attacks.

Enlightenment of the Shadowed Sun[edit]

With the Enlightenment of the Shadowed Sun, you begin to walk a tightrope between the greatest opposites to exist. The tension between your sword's potential for harm and your own potential for good threatens to tear you asunder; only your own training and inner strength allow you to manifest both without obliterating everything you are.

Martial Arts[edit]

As one who follows the enlightenment of the shadowed sun, your very body becomes a lethal weapon. Beginning at 3rd level, your unarmed strike count as a finesse weapon, you can roll a d4 in place of the normal damage of your unarmed strike, increasing to 1d6 at 5th level, 1d8 at 11th level, and 1d10 at 17th level.

Touch of the Shadow Sun[edit]

Despite the fact that you know that you are inherently a force for good, you also realize that there is evil in the hearts of all things. In an attempt to gain balance, you wield the energy of both the dark and light aspects of your being. At 6th level, on any turn in which you have successfully hit a creature, you may spend a bonus action to deal 1d6 necrotic damage to your target. In the round after you use this ability, you can touch a creature as an action and heal an amount of damage equal to the damage you dealt with your negative energy touch on the previous round . If the target of this healing touch makes no effort to prevent you from touching him, you can touch the creature as a bonus action. You cannot use both aspects of this ability on the same round, nor can you use the negative energy touch again in a round after you have already successfully used it.

Increase the damage dealt by this feature increases to 2d6 at 9th level, 3d6 at 13th level, and 4d6 at 15th level.

In addition, your unarmed strikes count as magical for the purpose of overcoming resistance and immunity to nonmagical attacks and damage.

Darkness within Light[edit]

Beginning at 9th level, your inner light cannot willingly be suppressed, and any attempt to do so causes it to roil and explode. On the round following a Hide action, if you successfully hit with a melee weapon attack, you can cause light to burst in all directions as a bonus action. All creatures within 30 feet from whom you were hidden must make a Constitution saving Throw. On a failed saving throw, they have disadvantage on attack rolls until the start of your next turn. Creatures who were aware of you are unaffected by this ability.

Void of the Shadow Sun[edit]

By 13th level, you learn to cloak yourself in light, and to release the coldness of the void left when that light is snuffed out. As a bonus action, you may grant yourself a +2 bonus to AC until the start of your next turn. If you are hit despite this bonus, it disappears immediately, and on the following round you may spend an action to cause all creatures within 30 feet to make a Constitution saving throw. Creatures that fail the save take 8d6 cold damage, or half as much on a successful saving throw. You are immune to the damage from this feature.

Balance of Light and Dark[edit]

At 15th level, you understand that while this enlightenment grants great power, it also carries great risk, and you tiptoe the line between light and dark. As a bonus action, you may turn into a being of pure shadow. In this form, you ignore all penalties from exhaustion, have advantage on attack rolls, have resistance to all damage except force and radiant, and can move through other creatures and objects as though they were difficult terrain, taking 5 force damage if you end your turn inside an object. You remain in this form for 1 minute, and ends early if you dismiss it as a bonus action, become incapacitated, or die. At the end of this duration, you immediately take a number of levels of exhaustion equal to half the rounds you were in this form (rounded up).

If this exhaustion would cause you to die, your body dissipates into an inky cloud. Unless you are restored to life by the true resurrection spell, you rise in 1d4 days as a vampire. Your alignment becomes evil, though your alignment on the law/chaos axis remains the same. You are now a dedicated champion of evil and an NPC. You retain access to all your features and lack a normal vampire's vulnerability to sunlight. Your vampiric body forms in the spot where your mortal form perished. Legend holds that the souls of Shadowed Sun ninjas who are corrupted in this manner are imprisoned within the Iron City of Dis, Dispater's capital within the depths of Hell. A successful quest to free the soul from its prison cell destroys the vampire and restores the Shadowed Sun ninja to life. Legend holds that several mighty Shadowed Sun heroes languish within Dispater's prison, waiting to be freed.

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Ghostwheel's Homebrew (392 Articles)
Facts about "Swordsage (5e Class)"
AuthorGhostwheel +
Hit Die1dd8 +
Identifier5e Class +
Length20 +
RatingUndiscussed +
SaveStrength + and Dexterity +
SkillAcrobatics +, Athletics +, History +, Insight +, Perception + and Stealth +
SummaryA combination of martial arts and mysticism makes this martial adept a fearsome foe. +
TitleSwordsage +