Shadow hand sword school.
L1: parrying weapons (knife (can throw), katar (pen 3), main gauche (+1k0 parry)) and the ready action. With the ready action the maneuver bonuses are applied to the standard (non-maneuver) attack that gets triggered.
L2: -2 restriction - the attack can only be used on someone unaware of you or helpless.
+1 advantage - delay the effects of the attack up to one minute later, the target is unaware of the attack until that time. Right, this is obviously the assassination sword school.
L3: -1 restriction - stealth check as part of the attack roll.
+1 advantage (stacking) - increase the range of the attack by 5m. Another 'thrown fist' type thing, probably intended for really long range knife throws.
L4: +3 advantage - the attack gains the flexible property. That's the weapon property that flails have, it makes the attack unable to be parried.
Bonus - attacks with a weapon you drew this turn are at +2k1 to hit. Quick draw feat to the rescue!
L5: +3 advantage - toxic. Constitution save dc15 or take an additional wound. Weak. Pathetic. Sad.
So is it just me or is there a distinct theme of under performing level 5 abilities here?
Well, it's very much a 'knife in the dark' kind of sword school. Not terrible, more average-ish. Just don't insult me by making a 550xp buy (L5 & +3 of abilities) something that I can do by smearing goo on the weapon.
I wonder how far we can push that thrown knife thing. Let's see. Base 5m range... ya know lets use the custom weapon design stuff from book 2 to get a good quality (+1k0 to hit) thrown (10m) penetrating (+2 pen) 1k2 rending damage knife. Level 5 (you sad puppy you, or maybe you're level 5 in a different sword school), once per scene (-2), unaware target & stealth roll (-3), weapon quality plus drawn this round gets us +3k1 to attack, half action... Nah, they're unaware, full action aim before the attack for another +2k0, so that's inaccurate x5 + over extended & non-penetrating (-8). 5 + (5+8) = 18 which gives... A 100m knife throw at an unaware target that's basically at your normal to-hit and damage for a knife. Impressive, although it will run you 900xp to buy the move. Personally... I think I'd just buy a missile launcher and some krak missiles, even if I do lose points on style.
Stone dragon sword school.
L1: two handed weapons (the category, not just weapons that require two hands to use) and bull rush actions... Ok, those don't get used too much and I had to look them up. Half action melee move, opposed strength tests and the aggressor can push 2m plus 2m per raise. No damage, no attack roll either. Aaannnndddd..... It doesn't say how that should work with the maneuver system.
L2: -2 restriction - gain a level of fatigue when using the attack. Ick. Usually. Situationally I could see doing it. Very very situational.
+3 advantage - attack becomes snaring. Have to look that one up, and... dexterity vs. the attack roll or be immobilized, no actions except a half action strength or dexterity check to escape, dc based on weapon quality (normal 15), failure loses your second half action. Now I remember why I don't use it much. My players are almost all dexterity whores and/or took Conjuration 1 (Blink).
L3: -1 restriction - intimidate check as part of the attack roll.
+1 advantage (stacking) - gain 1 armour until the start of your next turn. A bit low there I think.
L4: +6 advantage - "Felling Giants Blow", This had better be worth it. Target's resilience is treated as two lower to a minimum of 1. Ok, worth it.
Bonus - +1 to your resilience if your feet are "firmly planted" on solid earth or rock.
L5: +1 advantage (stacking) - the attack gains blast #, where # is the double number of times you take the advantage.
Who gets stone dragon? This is a good sword school. Ah, the barbarian and paladin classes.
Felling giants. On a resilience 4 target that's double damage, +50% on a resilience 6 target, and still +33% bonus damage on a resilience 8 target. All after armour is subtracted of course.
Weirdly the blast thing would work pretty well with bull rushing. You'd just make opposed strength rolls against everything in the area (including yourself) and everyone gets pushed back. Although you do at least need a target in melee to rush against.
Yeah, good sword school.
Tiger claw sword school.
L1: chain weapons and all out attacks. Great, the chainsaw sword school.
L2: -2 restriction - if you miss or get parried you fall prone. Oh, the chainsaw & prat fall sword school.
+2 advantage - if you hit by +10 double that armour penetration of the attack. Good.
L3: -1 restriction - acrobatic check as part of the attack.
+2 advantage - roll a d10. On a 1 you do half damage, on a 10 you do double damage.
L4: +5 advantage - spend a hero point when using the attack, then "ignore any effects (such as armour) that would reduce damage from it and halve the target's size, rounding up, for the purpose of determining Hit Points lost from the attack's damage." On size 2 targets they lose 1 resilience, size 3 targets lose no resilience, sizes 4 to 6 lose 2 resilience. Weird. But it ignores armour... and goes right through hard cover too. Annoying re-calculations in combat though.
Bonus - after all out attacks you can still use reactions, although at -2k2.
L5: +4 advantage - damage dice explode on 9 & 10. That's about a +5 damage boost at the 50% mark, although the high number tail gets a lot longer on the probabilities (checked with 6k3).
The L4 advantage is generally better then the stone dragon L4 advantage, depending on armour and size. But it suffers from the complexity of the resilience calculation and has that weird thing with the round up at size 3... No, that will reduce a size 3 resilience by 1 on even levels. I initially only checked at levels 1 and 5. Well, it's balanced around spending the hero point any ways. But it would be really too similar to the stone dragon one if it were a flat -2.
The L5 advantage, I checked using 6k3 (chain axe & 4 strength). While the 50% average was a +5 bonus the 90% (the '90% of all rolls are less than this, 10% are equal or higher' measurement) went from 38 to 47 with the end of the tail moving from 102 to 133. So that one-in-a-million damage roll got a +30 boost. On average you'll get the same +5 effect (at 6k3) as adding another kept die of damage. Same difference between 8k4, 8k4x9, and 8k5. If your base damage is 10k5 then doing 10k5x9 is, statistically and slightly (1 to 3 points), better than 10k6. Strangely (and powerfully) synergistic with devoted spirit level 3 and the ability to reroll 1s on damage dice (tiefling, possibly some other way too).
Nice school although I'm calling it the lol-random damage chainsaw prat fall sword school.
White raven sword school.
L1: cavalry weapons (spears really, although lances exist) and charge actions.
L2: -2 restriction - can't use the maneuver unless the target moved (as in walked around or something) since your last turn.
+2 advantage (stacking) - allies get +1k0 (that stacks) to attack your target until the start of your next turn.
L3: -1 restriction - command check as part of the attack roll.
+2 advantage - movement as part of the attack or after it doesn't provoke opportunity attacks.
L4: +3 advantage - targets hit by this attack can't parry or dodge until the start of their next turn. Harsh. Run up, poke, let the next guy unleash the strong damage attack.
Bonus - anyone in melee range of you takes -1k0 to attack your allies.
L5: +5 advantage - targets hit by the attack provoke opportunity attacks. Has potential.
Nice solid teamwork sword school. Available to the fighter track classes and the paladin track classes. Combos well with the devoted spirit sword school.
Well. That's a chapter full of how to become a complete and total melee combat monster.
There's no intermission fluff piece between this chapter and the next one; Backgrounds. Although I'm wondering if I should chuck the book 2 gun kata in here as well. They're thematically linked and mechanically near identical. Plus there are fewer of them.