View Full Version : Weapons Master [Base Class]

2007-08-15, 09:37 PM
Weapons Master

"There is a vast gulf between being proficient with a weapon and being good with a weapon"--Vaarsuvius, Elf Wizard.

The devastating power of the two-handed style. The blurring speed of paired weapons. The fluid form of the single blade. The powerful defenses of the weapon and shield. The safety and precision of the ranged weapon. The battlefield control of the reach weapon. The constant readiness of the unarmed strike.

There are many different styles of fighting, each with their own benefits and restrictions. Most warriors choose to specialize in a single form. They learn the arts best suited to their favorite weapon, sink massive amounts of gold into obtaining the mightiest of enchantments, and try to set the battle up to make optimal use of their capabilities.

But not all warriors are so limited. Some fighters, having achieved proficiency with all standard forms of weapons, do not find it difficult to develop true skill with a variety of armaments. Unlike many warriors, who train in a specific style of fighting, these weapons masters focus mainly on applying each style to a single weapon. They practice differently with each weapon they master, many spending a great deal of time learning a variety of weapons at the expense of other skills.

The result is a warrior whose versatility is its greatest weapon. Although a weapons master will never develop as complex a style as a fighter, it can wield numerous weapons with credit, adapting its style to meet the challenge at hand. When swarmed by weak foes, it equips its greatsword to cleave through their ranks, or readies a spiked chain to slay them with a devastating whirlwind attack. Beset by mages, it uses its longbow to attack from afar. Threatened by a single foe of power, it might meet the foeís charge with a spear, then laying into its opponent with a flurry of attacks from paired daggers.

Humans are common weapons masters; their ambition and adaptability are perfect matches for this class. Elves, with long lives to practice a myriad fighting styles, are also common candidates for the class. Military-minded gnomes have also been known to take advantage of this classís versatility to confound their opponents. Few members of the savage races become weapons masters, although some of the finest hobgoblin leaders were known for their adaptability in battle.

Strength and Constitution are as important to a weapons master as to any warrior, and some weapons masters who favor lighter armors benefit from high Dexterity scores. Intelligence is more important to a weapons master than many fighting classes, since it allows them to master more weapons.

HD: d10.
SP: 4.
Skills: Balance, Climb, Craft, Escape Artist, Intimidate, Jump, Listen, Move Silently, Profession, Ride, Sense Motive, Swim, Tumble.
Profs: Martial weapons, all armor, all shields.

Weapons Master

+0|Defensive Style, Master Weapons, Style Feat

+0|Style Feat

+1|Pure Skill (Focus), Quick Draw

+1|Deft Change, One With Weapon

+1|Style Feat

+2|Pure Skill (Specialization)

+2|Always Armed, Minimum Damage 1d6

+2|Style Feat

+3|Improvisation, Pure Skill (Criticals)

+3|Fluid Style

+3|Style Feat

+4|Pure Skill (Mastery)

+4|Minimum Damage 1d8

+4|Style Feat

+5|Pure Skill (Greater Focus)

+5|Perfect Form

+5|Style Feat

+6|Pure Skill (Greater Specialization)

+6|Minimum Damage 1d10

+6|Style Feat[/table]

Defensive Style (Ex): Being able to wield weapons is hardly useful if you canít survive a foeís attacks. Weapons masters train themselves to master a certain defensive style that improves their ability to use their armor (or lack thereof) to defend themselves. A weapons master may choose to master any one of the armor categories listed below to gain the given benefit.

None: A weapons master who masters unarmored combat is adept at dodging, parrying, and other tactics that allow it to avoid attacks by taking advantage of its unrestricted range of mobility. When not wearing armor, the weapons master doubles its Dexterity bonus for AC purposes. This AC bonus does not stack with armor bonuses (such as from a mage armor spell), armor enhancement bonuses (such as a magic vestment spell cast on the weapons masterís clothes) or with other abilities that add an ability modifier to AC (such as a monkís AC bonus or the canny defense ability). The weapons master may use a shield and still receive this bonus, and it will stack with a shield's enhancement bonus.

Light: A weapons master who masters light armor is trained in using a combination of armor and agility to deflect and avoid poorly aimed blows. When wearing light armor, the weapons master gains a bonus to AC equal to the total of any penalties the opponent is taking on its attack roll due to its style of attack (such as two weapon fighting, power attacking, fighting defensively, and so on) or circumstances, conditions, and effects that directly penalize attack rolls (such as cover, the shaken or sickened conditions, a bane spell, etc). This does not apply to the reduction in BAB that comes about as a result of iterative attacks, nor does it apply to effects that result in a lower total attack bonus (such as strength damage or an increase in size).

Medium: A weapons master who masters medium armor trains in moving effectively without sacrificing the armorís protection. The weapons master doubles the maximum Dexterity bonus, ignores the penalty to speed, and halves the armor check penalty of any medium armor it wears.

Heavy: A weapons master who masters heavy armor is trained in using the armor to deflect and absorb some of the power of blows. The weapons master gains DR 1/- while wearing heavy armor. This DR increases by 1 per three weapons master levels.

Shields: A weapons master who masters shields increases its shield bonus to AC by 1/3 its base attack bonus (minimum 1). This only applies when the weapons master is actively using its shield. For example, it wouldnít apply if it were shield bashing (unless it has the Improved Shield Bash feat) or when using an animated shield.

Master Weapons/Style Feats (Ex): To a weapons master, knowing how to use a weapon is hardly a measure of proficiency. A warrior who specializes in the use of a spear, its combination of offensive power and quick reflexes, can hardly be called proficient with a short sword. Weapons masters train themselves to wield a variety of weapons with skill.

A weapons master can master a weapon by spending skill points. Mastering a simple weapon costs one skill point, a martial weapon costs two, and an exotic weapon costs three (mastering an exotic weapon results in proficiency with that weapon). Once a weapon is mastered, the weapons master can obtain style feats with the weapon.

A weapons master can spend twice as many skill points mastering a weapon to gain the ability to select fighter-specific feats as style feats with that weapon. It uses its class level Ė 2 as its effective fighter level for this purpose.

Style feats are much akin to bonus feats. They are drawn from the fighter list of bonus feats. However, a weapons master does not simply select style feats that it uses freely; it selects style feats individually for each weapon mastered. The weapons master must fulfill all prerequisites for style feats.

A weapons master has one style feat at 1st level. It gains a second at 2nd level, and an additional one every three levels thereafter. The weapons master may also exchange a normal feat for a style feat (if desired, a weapons master can sacrifice a style feat to select a normal feat for which it meets the prerequisites). In any case, a weapons master may trade no more than half its feats to obtain additional style feats, and it may only trade normal feats in this way, not bonus feats.

Each style feat allows the weapons master to select a feat for each weapon it has mastered. As such, weapons masters have access to a tremendous number of feats, allowing them to build distinct styles with each mastered weapon. A weapons master might select Power Attack, Cleave, and Great Cleave as style feats for its greatsword, for example, and Dodge, Mobility, and Spring Attack as style feats for its rapier.

Style feats can only be used while wielding the selected weapon. They do not count for purposes of fulfilling prerequisites, except to fulfill prerequisites for other style feats for that weapon. For example, a weapons master who takes Power Attack as a style feat for its greatsword would not qualify for Cleave, unless Cleave were taken as a style feat for its greatsword. It also would not qualify for any prestige classes that required Power Attack.

If the weapons master wields multiple weapons, it may only draw from style feats for one of them at a time. If it ceases to wield the weapon for which it is using style feats, it loses access to its style feats until the start of its next turn, even if it changes weapons.

The weapons master may master the same weapon multiple times. In this case, it has a separate selection of style feats for each mastery of the weapon. It may change the style it uses at the start of each turn in which it wields that weapon. The weapons master must have at least four other weapons of equivalent difficulty mastered for each additional mastery of a given weapon. For example, to master the long sword three times, the weapons master must master at least eight weapons other than the long sword.

Pure Skill (Ex): A weapons master favors skill over magical enhancements. As long as the weapon it is wielding is not under the influence of magical improvements (be they permanent, temporary, or natural through a special ability) a weapons master of at least third level counts as having weapon focus with the weapon wielded. This ability bestows weapon specialization at 6th level, improved critical at 9th, weapon mastery (melee and ranged) at 12th, greater weapon focus at 15th, and greater weapon specialization at 18th. Most weapons masters rely on their skill rather than spending vast amounts of money purchasing a variety of enchanted weapons. Some have been known to keep one heavily enchanted weapon on hand, but most avoid this situation as it tends to restrict them to one fighting style to maintain optimal effectiveness. However, most mid-to-high-level weapons masters keep at least one enchanted weapon available for dealing with foes that cannot be harmed by normal weapons.

Quick Draw: A weapons master is all about versatility, and is able to change its weapons in an instant. At 3rd level the weapons master gains Quick Draw as a bonus feat.

Deft Change (Ex): Weapons masters excel in confounding foes with abrupt changes of style. Beginning at 4th level, if the weapons master takes a full attack action in a given round, all opponents it threatened while doing so are subject to a deft change. If the weapons master changes weapons on its next turn, it gets a +2 bonus on attack rolls against foes subject to the change. If the weapons master instead takes the total defense action after changing weapons, it gets an extra +2 bonus to its AC against foes subject to the change. These bonuses last only for that round.

One With Weapon (Ex): A weapons master is notoriously difficult to deprive of its weapons. Beginning at 4th level, the weapons master adds its class level as a bonus on checks to resist disarm and sunder attempts and as a bonus on any saving throw made by wielded weapons.

Always Armed (Ex): Starting at 7th level, the weapons masterís skill with weapons allows it to ignore many of the penalties for wielding certain types of weapons. This results in the following benefits:

--The weapons master gains proficiency with all improvised weapons.
--The weapons master functions as if it had the Improved Unarmed Strike feat.
--The weapons master may freely choose whether to deal lethal or nonlethal damage with all weapons.
--When wielding a reach weapon, the weapons master threatens adjacent squares.
--The weapons master does not provoke attacks of opportunity when making ranged attacks.
--When using a whip, the weapons master deals damage to armored foes normally and threatens its normal area.
--The weapons master does not take an attack penalty for throwing melee weapons, and can throw light or one-handed weapons as an attack. The weapons master can throw a two-handed weapon as a standard action.
--The weapons master may power attack with light weapons (at the same ratio as for one-handed weapons).

Additionally, the weapons master gains Improved Disarm as a bonus feat.

Minimum Damage (Ex): A weapons master is adept at dealing credible harm with even the most innocuous of objects. Beginning at 7th level, the weapons masterís minimum damage die with any weapon (including improvised weapons) is 1d6. This increases to 1d8 at 13th level and 1d10 at 19th. The weapons master uses either this minimum or the weaponís actual damage die, whichever is better. This ability only applies to weapons that are logically capable of dealing damage, and the effects do not apply against creatures immune to critical hits.

Improvisation (Ex): Although weapons masters are trained in using certain weapons in certain ways, just because they arenít wielding a given weapon doesnít mean they lose their skills. Once per day per point of the weapons masterís Intelligence bonus (minimum 1/day), a weapons master of at least 9th level can choose to improvise with a weapon. While improvising, the weapons master replaces the style feats with the chosen weapon with the style feats of any other weapon. A use of improvisation lasts for one round per two class levels. If using a non-mastered weapon, the weapons master simply uses the chosen set of style feats.

Fluid Style (Ex): A 10th level weapons master is skilled at switching its fighting style mid-battle. If wielding a weapon with which it knows multiple styles, it can switch the style used as a free action. If it changes weapons during its turn, it automatically begins using the new weaponís style feats. If the weapons master wields multiple weapons, it must choose which style feats to use.

Perfect Form (Ex): A 16th level weapons master is not prone to hazards of luck. It no longer automatically misses on a natural attack roll of 1, nor is it automatically hit on a natural roll of 20.

Paragon Badger
2007-08-16, 12:23 AM
Minimum Damage (Ex): A weapons master is adept at dealing credible harm with even the most innocuous of objects. Beginning at 7th level, the weapons masterís minimum damage die with any weapon (including improvised weapons) is 1d6. This increases to 1d8 at 13th level and 1d10 at 19th. The weapons master uses either this minimum or the weaponís actual damage die, whichever is better. This ability only applies to weapons that are logically capable of dealing damage, and the effects do not apply against creatures immune to critical hits.

That name inspired something in me...

A 1d8 weapon is worse than a 2d4 weapon, because they both have a maximum damage of 8, but the latter has a minimum damage of 2 while the first has only a minumum damage of 1. So say this...

The weapon master becomes more and more consistent with his weapon, increasing the minimum damage for that weapon. If a damage roll ever goes below minimum damage, raise it to minimum damage.

Minimum damage is equal to half the weapon master's levels.

Minimum damage cannot excede maximum damage.

Therefore, a level 20 Weapon Master is capable of dealing a Ki strike all the time with any 1d10 damage weapon, and automatically deals anywhere between 10 to 12 damage with a 1d12 or 2d6 greataxe type weapon.

That looks a wee bit powerful, though... (So perhaps make it advance by every 3 levels?)

So the minimum damage is 6 at level 20? 6-12 damage with a greataxe isn't bad... but not making all the 'Ki Strike' type characters less useful...

I just think that the luck of the die should be less consequential when you have skill, from a fluff perspective.

Although the style feats thingies sound like they would be hard to keep track of...

The improvised weapons proficiency... Heh. Jackie Chan class.

2007-08-16, 12:38 AM
Weapon master is allready a class name, it would help to come up with a unique name.

2007-08-16, 05:03 AM
I think it would work better as a PrC, as the PrC of same name. But I like some of these ideas. Specially the Armor one. I'm using something similar in a fighter variant.

2007-08-16, 12:35 PM
My first draft for this was a PrC, as it happens...I just like building base classes more. More places to put abilities, I suppose.

2007-08-16, 12:44 PM
Weapon master is allready a class name, it would help to come up with a unique name.

I think this one is more suited, but your right.

Really cool, i like the fluff, maybe a this could be called something like "Master of Many Styles" or something to that effect

2007-08-16, 01:23 PM
Can someone summarize what the Master Weapons/Style Feats ability does? The wall of text is simply too high for me to scale. Otherwise good work.

2007-08-16, 01:41 PM
Mastery of heavy armor is too powerful, at least at lower levels.

DR shouldn't be given lightly; barbarians only have five points of it by twentieth level, but by this rule, a weapon master could be tanking with DR 4 at a far lower level using plate mail. By the time he/she can afford +5 armor, DR 9. Combined with the shield ability, (ye gods, +6 by level 20), this is a tank beyond tanks.

On the unarmored path, you're talking about the same bonus to AC as the shield. This probably isn't inherently bad, but a high AC without armor needs to have drawbacks, lest it make armor obsolete.

You've given more skill points per level to a class at least as skilled at fighting as the fighter.

This isn't necessarily unbalanced, but I wonder why light armor would allow evasion where unarmored would not. Flavor-wise, I would think any armor-based path should make use of a feature of armor (DR was a good example, if not perfectly executed).

What are the disadvantages of this class? I mean, outside of, it's not a brokenly powerful spellcaster? You have plenty of good ideas, but I wonder if maybe you added a few too many.

2007-08-16, 03:20 PM
@geez3r: Weapons Master/Style Feats basically is, you spend skill points to master weapons (1 for simple, 2 for martial, 3 for exotic), and for each weapon mastered, you gain bonus feats that only apply when wielding that weapon.

@GNUsNotUnix: From what I've seen on the boards, ToB characters seem to be a fairly ideal level of power to aim for with regards to balance, so this class is intended to be closer to them than the core melee classes. I can see your point regarding the DR to an extent, but mechanically it is not, I feel, as powerful as its rarity indicates. Against foes who rely on lots of low-damage attacks (or overwhelming numbers), DR is powerful, just as evasion is powerful against foes who rely on area attacks, and a high AC is powerful against foes who rely on two-hander power attacking. I may as well also note that a weapons master can only master one of the listed armor types; it cannot get both the shield's high AC and the heavy armor's DR.

The unarmored AC bonus is meant to be about par with a monk's. It gets +1/3 levels rather than +1/5 and can be used with a shield, and uses Dex rather than Wis for less MAD, but it can't be boosted by Mage Armor or Bracers of Armor.

Extra skill points for martial characters are seeming to become the norm (as ToB suggests), and weapons masters need them anyway, since they spend SP mastering weapons.

I really couldn't find anything too good for light armor mastery. My theory was that a weapons master lacks the pure agility training to avoid a fireball, but if trained in light armor, it can avoid most of it while its armor absorbs the rest. It's kinda thin, but I don't really know what else to give them for it.

The disadvantage of this class in comparison with ToB is that it can't use any of the versatile, scaling-in-power maneuvers that they have. It is limited to lots and lots of feats, more efficient use of weapons, and a few basic special abilities. There is also the key disadvantage that magic weapons don't interact well with the class; since they favor wielding a variety of weapons, they don't really benefit from using magic weapons. They get the weapon focus feat tree in response, though progression is slower than that of a fighter, and when they do wield a magic weapon, they don't get its benefits. In general, a weapons master will be less powerful wielding any given weapon than a fighter of equal level who specialized in that weapon, but the weapons master has way more options.

2007-08-16, 04:17 PM
Well, the ToB argument works, but I'd really rather see the spellcasters nerfed than the other classes upgraded (or, worse, made obsolete by replacements).

My mistake, I somehow read "Shields" as outside of "Master Armor." Maybe it should be called "Master Defense" (but less cheesy). It doesn't really make sense for "unarmored" to be part of "Master Armor," anyway.

I still feel that DR shouldn't be front-loaded. I'd just dip into this class for the DR and go nuts elsewhere, since the DR is item-dependent, not level-dependent. Maybe you could start it a few levels later, or make it increase in effectiveness based on level.

The unarmored AC suffers from the same front-loading; a dip grants double Dex AC. Give a monk-like AC and evasion to unarmored, and leave light armor with something more middling, like a feat tree (dodge, mobility, whirlwind attack?).

If the point of SP is for the weapon master abilities, I'd cut the class skill list some. Handle Animal seems inappropriate thematically, and Move Silently falls useless for the Heavy Armor types.

Bottom line, cut the front-loading, though.

2007-08-16, 04:53 PM
He he, I have the complete opposite view. "If everyone's equally unbeatable, then the game is perfectly fair!...'xcept for the monsters."

More seriously, though, different ability name sounds appropriate. Maybe defensive style or some such. Will think on that. Changing DR effectiveness to level based sounds like a viable plan as well, I'll incorporate that. Probably DR 1/- for mastering the armor, increasing by 1 per three levels; much less at the front, slightly less at the end.

With the unarmored, I'm going to differ that frontloading is bad. In this case, you have to frontload to make up for the AC lost from your armor, which other warriors are getting at 1st level as is. However, the shield availability and greater synergy does seem to keep it competitive, so I'm going to remove the scaling bonus. That'll also contrast it more with the shield mastery.

The feat tree idea is cool, but I think it suffers from the same fallacy as evasion; anything that is based on mobility will always be more logical for no armor than light. I'm thinking maybe a light armor master should be adept in using its light armor to more effectively deflect poorly aimed attacks. Meaning, it doubles any penalties that the opponent takes on its attack rolls. A two weapon fighter would wind up having a -4 penalty on attacks, a power attacker would take -2 per damage increment, and so on.

I added move silently because whenever I read about a skilled fighter, there's always a mention of "warrior's grace" and so on. Handle animal...meh, yeah, no need for that, really.

Thanks for the suggestions. I'll go implement them.

2007-08-16, 05:43 PM
Well, that about fixes front-loading, but I'd warn against your wording for unarmored. "Parrying" sounds like the Weapon Master has to have a weapon in hand for this to work; I don't know if that's what you want, but it's a little ambiguous.

Also on the subject of wording, "double the penalties" is a bit iffy. Doubling penalties makes it sound like the Weapon Master's very presence throws off the attacker's style; maybe just call it "adds a bonus to AC equal to opponent's penalty" or something. Also, there's a bit of a grey area with things like circumstance penalties and what really "counts" as something a weapon master could take advantage of. I'm not saying it's a bad fix, but there's got to be a more concrete way to rule it.

You're welcome; this class is definitely shaping up to be playable.

2007-08-16, 06:14 PM
Good points both; went back and clarified those.

2007-08-21, 03:03 AM
Good class and features but the name sounds too generic
How about Weapons Savant?
Guru or Sage could work