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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Sword Sage school help needed

    I'm making a sword sage at level 20 i'll have the ability to know 25 maneuvers but I really like 5 different schools.

    Tiger Claw
    Diamond mind
    Shadow hand
    Setting Sun
    Desert wind

    So in other words it looks like I have a 5 maneuvers from each school. But there are so many cool moves! I feel like I'll be spreading each school thin by having so many so I need to focus in on maybe two or three.

    So what are your opinions on these schools? If you could only pick 3 which would you pick? I need to keep shadow hand because I'm a sneaky sort of guy. I plan to use unarmed, dagger, and light crossbow attacks.

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    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: Sword Sage school help needed

    Generally, I view it as Diamond Mind = Shadow Hand = Tiger Claw > Setting Sun >> Desert Wind, but if you want to be sneaky you might want to go with Diamond Mind, Shadow Hand, and Setting Sun. Tiger Claw benefits from TWF, and it's harder to be sneaky and mobile with that style than with DM's or SH's one-good-hit style; Desert Wind isn't very effective near 20th because so many things are resistant or immune to fire.
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    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: Sword Sage school help needed

    Quote Originally Posted by PairO'Dice Lost View Post
    Generally, I view it as Diamond Mind = Shadow Hand = Tiger Claw > Setting Sun >> Desert Wind, but if you want to be sneaky you might want to go with Diamond Mind, Shadow Hand, and Setting Sun. Tiger Claw benefits from TWF, and it's harder to be sneaky and mobile with that style than with DM's or SH's one-good-hit style; Desert Wind isn't very effective near 20th because so many things are resistant or immune to fire.
    Huh didn't know that about fire damage. In that case desert wind is out. Tiger Claw seems very TWF, are you considered dual wielding if you are using a dagger in primary and unarmed in the other if you attack with both? Aren't some of the other moves like prey on the weak that don't really need it? There are a lot of leap moves that seem good. Tiger seems to be rather explicitly weapon focused too like Wolverine Stance. It's tough but I think your right about Tiger Claw as well it looked so good but your right. So that brings it down to the three you mentioned.

    Anyone have any rebuttal to Pair'o'dice? I think he's right. (thank you btw)

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    Default Re: Sword Sage school help needed

    Tiger Claw works just fine with Unarmed Strikes, especially if you take Superior Unarmed Strike or use the Unarmed Swordsage adaptation. It gets the TWF rep because of things like Wolf Fang Strike and because you get more mileage from the Mongoose boosts and Girallon Windmill if you have more weapons, but there are also "screw it, I'll just rip your head off" strikes and some excellent mobility options as well. Desert Wind is mostly bad when you're looking at the strikes that imitate blasting spells; its boosts and stances are pretty good (at level 20, Burning Blade is d6+20 damage to all your hits. Even if you're dealing with resistance 10-15 that's worth the Swift action to use it before a full attack, and if you get something immune.. don't use it. It's not that much of a problem, it just means you don't want to make Desert Wind fire moves your only means of attack.)

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    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: Sword Sage school help needed

    Quote Originally Posted by tyckspoon View Post
    Tiger Claw works just fine with Unarmed Strikes, especially if you take Superior Unarmed Strike or use the Unarmed Swordsage adaptation. It gets the TWF rep because of things like Wolf Fang Strike and because you get more mileage from the Mongoose boosts and Girallon Windmill if you have more weapons, but there are also "screw it, I'll just rip your head off" strikes and some excellent mobility options as well. Desert Wind is mostly bad when you're looking at the strikes that imitate blasting spells; its boosts and stances are pretty good (at level 20, Burning Blade is d6+20 damage to all your hits. Even if you're dealing with resistance 10-15 that's worth the Swift action to use it before a full attack, and if you get something immune.. don't use it. It's not that much of a problem, it just means you don't want to make Desert Wind fire moves your only means of attack.)
    Hmm well speaking of the adaptation does it get improved unarmed strike? I didn't see anything about it but there might be some errata does anyone know where I can find it?

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    Default Re: Sword Sage school help needed

    It gets "Unarmed Strike as a monk", which includes Improved Unarmed Strike as a bonus feat.

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    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Re: Sword Sage school help needed

    Quote Originally Posted by tyckspoon View Post
    Tiger Claw works just fine with Unarmed Strikes, especially if you take Superior Unarmed Strike or use the Unarmed Swordsage adaptation. It gets the TWF rep because of things like Wolf Fang Strike and because you get more mileage from the Mongoose boosts and Girallon Windmill if you have more weapons, but there are also "screw it, I'll just rip your head off" strikes and some excellent mobility options as well. Desert Wind is mostly bad when you're looking at the strikes that imitate blasting spells; its boosts and stances are pretty good (at level 20, Burning Blade is d6+20 damage to all your hits. Even if you're dealing with resistance 10-15 that's worth the Swift action to use it before a full attack, and if you get something immune.. don't use it. It's not that much of a problem, it just means you don't want to make Desert Wind fire moves your only means of attack.)
    I suppose I should have specified that while these two schools are good, you won't gain full use of them without the TWF and/or fire maneuvers, and so focusing on the other three would be better for a greater breadth of options.
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    Default Re: Sword Sage school help needed

    After going over things for awhile I noticed that a lot of the maneuvers which look awesome sauce in reality aren't all that great and that in all honesty it's best to only nab the best maneuvers from each interested discipline and use the upgrading of past maneuvers to full advantage. Now with this said, it's still best to concentrate on just a few disciplines. The 9th level stuff requires you to often have 4 maneuvers known, so "spreading" yourself over 5 classes isn't necessarily bad but it definitely takes very inventive and time consuming work to pull off.

    So if you're looking at using 5 schools all the way then just pay really careful attention to which high level awesome maneuvers require few pre-reqs. So lets say you only have sunk 2 maneuvers, including stances, into setting sun, but you can still knab the nifty 8th level Ballista throw. On the other hand you can't do this with Ghost Blade, a 6th level Shadow Hand that requires 3 maneuvers known.

    And on Desert Wind, it is primarily only iffy in usefulness. However being able to use the 1st level stance Flame's Blessing to become invulnerable to fire and the 5th level maneuver Leaping flame? Both are definitely awesome sauce.

    And oh yeah, forgot to mention a few things. Be wary of the shadow hand strikes as they call for fort saves, something most other melee classers should be able to make without too much effort unless your wisdom is through the stratosphere. Also, the chance to bypass DR for one strike with the Mountain Hammer line of things from Stone Dragon shouldn't be ignored either.

    And for more goodness, here's a thread I started on a 12th level swordsage a ways back that might help. I've changed a number of things since then, but still the basic principles are the same.
    Last edited by ghashxx; 2009-12-04 at 09:47 PM.
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    Default Re: Sword Sage school help needed

    Interestingly, depending on what you want to do, I wouldn't ignore Setting Sun. It's got some great counters, and the throw maneuvers can give you a nice amount of battlefield control.

    Actually, I consider Desert Wind and Shadow Hand the weakest swordsage schools. Shadow Hand would be a lot stronger if it did not rely on Fort. saves as much. That said, Shadow Hand can mess up casters if you can land a blow on them. However, as has been said, Desert Wind has some great boosts, and Shadow Hand can up your mobility and defensive options substantially. It's good to have some variety.

    I'd say the best schools for swordsage are Diamond Mind and Tiger Claw, as has been mentioned. You can cherry pick some of the gems from Stone Dragon, such as Mountain Hammer, or even Mountain Tombstone Strike as one of your 9th level maneuvers (no prereqs, and 2d6 Con damage is going to hurt.)
    Last edited by CockroachTeaParty; 2009-12-04 at 10:48 PM.

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    Default Re: Sword Sage school help needed

    From a recent online D&D session, where a player of mine was being tested by a Master of Nine for some specialized training.


    "Desert Wind is the path of movement and of fire. Its master is a dancing flame that does not stay in one place, always unpredictable in his movements. Child, show me your movement, show me how you would roll to your left to avoid an attack or gain an advantage."


    "Devoted spirit is the path of spiritual focus, of unwavering faith in one’s self and one’s cause. Its master is a valiant champion and a stalwart defender of what he believes in. Child, show me your faith, look at me as you would look upon your enemies."


    "Diamond Mind is the path of thought and of action. Its master is utterly controlled, utterly precise, and acts in the breath between moments. He is a master of his own mind, and through that becomes a master of his enemy. Child, show me your focus, quiet your heart and your mind until stillness envelops you."


    "Iron Heart is the path of pure skill at arms. Its master is a true warrior, at one with his sword and with the space around him. Child, show me your strike, attack the air as you would attack an enemy."


    "Setting Sun is the path of fluidity, of efficiency, of turning weakness into strength. Its master can predict his enemy’s movements, and use his their own strength to defeat him. Child, catch these three weights that I will now throw."


    "Shadow Hand is the path of stealth, of deceit. Its master is one with the shadow, never alerting the enemy to his presence, and knows the ancient killing technique. He can wound even if his blade never cuts flesh. Child, still your body. Show me how you would avoid notice, were you in darkness."


    "Tiger Claw is the path of anger, of instinct. Its master has the power and ferocity of a wild animal. He can leap great heights, and thus attack his enemies from above. Child, show me your leap. Jump as if you mean to fly."


    "Stone Dragon is the path of discipline, of endurance. Its master can overwhelm all defenses and resist terrible blows himself. Child, show me your strength. Strike the ground with your fist. Try to make it tremble beneath you."


    "White Raven is the path of leadership, of inspiration. Its master is a true general, leading others into battle beside him. He can make his allies reach new heights of valour and of skill, and be a force to be reckoned with himself. Child, let me hear your battle cry. See your allies around you, and call them into battle."
    Last edited by sonofzeal; 2009-12-04 at 10:51 PM.
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  11. - Top - End - #11
    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default Re: Sword Sage school help needed

    Quote Originally Posted by CockroachTeaParty View Post
    Interestingly, depending on what you want to do, I wouldn't ignore Setting Sun. It's got some great counters, and the throw maneuvers can give you a nice amount of battlefield control.

    Actually, I consider Desert Wind and Shadow Hand the weakest swordsage schools. Shadow Hand would be a lot stronger if it did not rely on Fort. saves as much. That said, Shadow Hand can mess up casters if you can land a blow on them. However, as has been said, Desert Wind has some great boosts, and Shadow Hand can up your mobility and defensive options substantially. It's good to have some variety.

    I'd say the best schools for swordsage are Diamond Mind and Tiger Claw, as has been mentioned. You can cherry pick some of the gems from Stone Dragon, such as Mountain Hammer, or even Mountain Tombstone Strike as one of your 9th level maneuvers (no prereqs, and 2d6 Con damage is going to hurt.)
    Wow I'm such a noob I didn't know stone dragon was a option for sword sages. I get it confused with iron heart.

  12. - Top - End - #12

    Default Re: Sword Sage school help needed

    If you fight unarmed, you should make room for Giant's Stance as well.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Surgebinder in the Playground Moderator
     
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    Default Re: Sword Sage school help needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Rev.Scarecrow View Post
    Wow I'm such a noob I didn't know stone dragon was a option for sword sages. I get it confused with iron heart.
    You weren't missing much anyway. Stone Dragon is weak. It's available to all three base classes and it was apparently designed to be weak because of that. It can't be used when you're not on the ground, and the individual maneuvers are generally weak for their level. Also, the 9th level strike has no prerequisites. Nab Mountain Tombstone Strike and ignore almost everything else in the discipline.

    I have a Swordsage heading for Master of Nine that I'm playing in a long campaign right now, and I've carefully planned out his maneuver progression to get significantly useful stuff from every discipline. When he reaches level 20 he will truly be a Master of Nine. He won't have all the 9th level maneuvers, but he will have most of them and some powerful slightly lower level stuff from the other disciplines as well. Here's the list of what he's going to end up with at level 20. If you don't want to spend the feats to take Martial Study three times and qualify for Master of Nine, just ignore the Devoted Spirit, Iron Heart, and White Raven sections of the list:

    Desert Wind:
    Flame's Blessing
    Flashing Sun
    Zephyr Dance
    Searing Charge
    Searing Blade
    Inferno Blast

    Devoted Spirit:
    Foehammer
    Divine Surge
    Aura of Perfect Order
    Strike of Righteous Vitality

    Diamond Mind:
    Mind Over Body
    Pearl of Black Doubt
    Hearing the Air
    Stance of Alacrity
    Time Stands Still

    Iron Heart:
    Wall of Blades
    Iron Heart Surge
    Lightning Recovery
    Iron Heart Focus
    Strike of Perfect Clarity

    Setting Sun:
    Counter Charge
    Baffling Defense
    Scorpion Parry
    Fool's Strike
    Ghostly Defense
    Tornado Throw

    Shadow Hand:
    Shadow Blink
    Shadow Stride

    Stone Dragon:
    Mountain Tombstone Strike

    Tiger Claw:
    Blood in the Water
    Pouncing Charge
    Dancing Mongoose
    Raging Mongoose

    White Raven:
    Leading the Attack
    White Raven Tactics
    Order Forged From Chaos
    White Raven Hammer
    War Master's Charge

    There are a number of additional maneuvers I wish I could take too, but this seemed the best list I could fit into my available choices. Note that I am playing with a house rule that martial adept PrCs allow maneuver swapping just like the base classes do.
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    Colossus in the Playground
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    Default Re: Sword Sage school help needed

    The damage maneuvers from Desert Wind aren't entirely without merit; if you have Insightful Strikes, Knowledge Devotion and the like, you can add a bit into the damage (something that's usually hard with such abilities), and sometimes you might face opponents with too high defenses to be easily damaged through other means.

    It may pay to have one of them available to Adaptive Style into when it becomes useful; they aren't as good as blasty spells (which themselves are pretty bad), but when you e.g. run into some pesky regenerating swarms, having access to X's Flame or the Circle of Fire or similars is very useful.


    As for Stone Dragon, it has two things I really like:
    - Roots of the Mountain-stance
    - Mountain Hammer

    Roots of the Mountain is very key against variety of large monsters whose natural tactic is Grappling/Tripping/Bull Rushing. It's also useful against specialist Fighters. +10 is nothing to sneeze at.

    And Mountain Hammer is your can opener; no matter what you run into, you can pretty much open it with that. This includes walls, doors, bodies, floors, etc. DMG states DMs are within their rights to say that "X weapon can't damage Y no matter what", but beyond that, nothing will last very long.


    And I second Setting Sun; at least pick up Counter Charge. There're wonderful maneuvers higher up the path like Fool's Strike, but the throws are only really good if you have some kind of a focus in them. Counter Charge has no prerequisites and is useful beyond words vs. many archetypes.

    I suggest it especially for Dex-based builds; picking Dex-check means you can beat most everyone since practically all charger creatures and characters are heavily Strength-focused.


    @douglas: I really, really love Greater Divine Surge; is there a reason you're picking e.g. Strike of Perfect Clarity over it?
    Last edited by Eldariel; 2009-12-05 at 03:25 AM.
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    Surgebinder in the Playground Moderator
     
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    Default Re: Sword Sage school help needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldariel View Post
    @douglas: I really, really love Greater Divine Surge; is there a reason you're picking e.g. Strike of Perfect Clarity over it?
    A) Full round action
    B) Make yourself flat-footed
    C) You have to inflict large amounts of constitution damage on yourself to make the benefits worth an 8th level maneuver
    D) I expect to usually be facing multiple opponents

    Just matching the extra damage of Strike of Perfect Clarity would require taking about 8 points of constitution damage. Sure, I get an attack bonus too, but the drawbacks of this maneuver are so huge that if your single blow doesn't take out everything attacking you that's a significant threat, you are in big trouble. At the level you get this maneuver, a point of constitution is about equal to 2d8 hit point damage except it's harder to heal. So, you're spending a full round action to reduce your target's hp and your own hp by about the same amount (not counting base weapon damage and the free 6d8), and making yourself vulnerable to sneak attacks and reducing your AC at the same time. If I have a full round action available to attack at that level, I will generally have MUCH better things to use it with. Raging Mongoose + Flashing Sun, for example.

    If you're looking at the damage, Greater Divine Surge just is not worth it. There are vastly superior ways to boost damage on a full round attack than that. It is only useful if you absolutely need an immensely higher attack bonus than normal for one particular target or you have a huge amount of constitution to burn, and even then it's a big gamble that you'll actually survive afterwards.

    In an arena match, Greater Divine Surge is often a superb one hit kill maneuver. In a campaign, it is far more often practically committing suicide unless you spend so little constitution on it that it's not even close to worth being an 8th level maneuver.
    Last edited by Douglas; 2009-12-05 at 10:23 AM.
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    Default Re: Sword Sage school help needed

    I've found it invaluable as the last "OH ****!"-button when you realize you just can't hit the bad guy no matter what and need something to at least make a dent at it, or try to frighten 'em away or some such. Not one I'd prepare most of the time, but with Adaptive Style, when it's needed, it's available. It's only Con-damage so healing it isn't that big a hurdle anyways.

    But yeah, I like keeping it around for when one needs to hit something way beyond one's abilities; True Strike from True Strike Gauntlets + Touch Attack from Heartseeking Amulet + Greater Divine Surge for max has a very decent chance of connecting vs. just about anything.
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    Surgebinder in the Playground Moderator
     
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    Default Re: Sword Sage school help needed

    "Only con-damage"? Con damage can kill you. Fast. Even if it doesn't drop your constitution to 0, it drops your hit points faster than just about anything else. If you're in a situation where you realize you need on "OH ****" button you're probably already too hurt to use it without killing yourself. Even if you don't kill yourself, you will bring yourself so low that the bad guys can finish you off with no trouble.

    Unless you are a) facing only a single opponent who is even capable of hurting you significantly, b) unable to hit him any other way, and c) able to take him out in one hit with GDS, then using that maneuver is almost literally suicide. How often does that combination really come up in an actual campaign?
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    Default Re: Sword Sage school help needed

    (Hijakcing this TOB thread)
    I've been thinking of Stone Dragon for a while now....

    How strong would you consider a feat that allows a Stone Dragon manoeuver to function on a liquid which then can be upgraded to work in the air

    Stone Dragon Improvement
    Pre-Req: BAB 6+(12+)

    Whenever using a Stone Dragon maneuver, you may treat liquid surfaces as if you were on a solid surface

    If you're BAB is 12+, Stone Dragon manoeuvers work ANYWHERE

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    Default Re: Sword Sage school help needed

    Quote Originally Posted by douglas View Post
    "Only con-damage"? Con damage can kill you. Fast. Even if it doesn't drop your constitution to 0, it drops your hit points faster than just about anything else. If you're in a situation where you realize you need on "OH ****" button you're probably already too hurt to use it without killing yourself. Even if you don't kill yourself, you will bring yourself so low that the bad guys can finish you off with no trouble.
    "Only" in the sense that it's curable via. e.g. Heal. If it were Ability Drain, it'd be truly problematic, but one Heal later, you're good as new.

    Quote Originally Posted by douglas View Post
    Unless you are a) facing only a single opponent who is even capable of hurting you significantly, b) unable to hit him any other way, and c) able to take him out in one hit with GDS, then using that maneuver is almost literally suicide. How often does that combination really come up in an actual campaign?
    Eh, I think you're being overtly specific; "single hard-to-hit opponent" is enough; even if you can't drop 'em, doing something is better than doing nothing - maybe your party can finish the job or buy you time to land another one. At that point, GDS can become worthwhile. If you're the only target around, it obviously becomes worse obviously; at that point, without a Heal immediately after you do risk death. Note that other, weaker opponents are actually a boon, since they give you easy targets for Strike of Righteous Vitality. If you face heavily AC-buffed opponents every now and then, it can be exceedingly useful.

    Maybe it's just my fondness of "Oh ****"-buttons though; I always want to be able to exceed the character's normal numeric limits if necessary and Greater Divine Surge is one of the few maneuvers that does that.
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    Default Re: Sword Sage school help needed

    Yes, Heal or Strike of Righteous Vitality can fix it all in an instant, but you have to survive long enough to get that Heal first. Unless you have an ally ready to cast Heal on you before any enemy goes, it's just about the riskiest possible move you could ever make. It doesn't matter whether you're the only target around, using this maneuver instantly makes you an obvious better target than everyone else and any intelligent enemy will immediately focus on you.

    You have one round. Every enemy in range WILL attack you if the DM isn't going easy on you. Unless you can get that Heal before that happens, you are almost certainly dead. Unless all three criteria I listed are met or you will be Healed before any powerful enemy acts, using this maneuver is risking death.
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    Default Re: Sword Sage school help needed

    Well, you can use something like Moment of Alacrity, White Raven Tactics or similar to get an expedite Heal if it comes down to that. But yeah, it's risky. Of course.
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  22. - Top - End - #22
    Surgebinder in the Playground Moderator
     
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    Default Re: Sword Sage school help needed

    The fact that other maneuvers are good does not mean this one isn't bad. Oh, and since you're arbitrarily using up the cleric's turn too, your attack had better be worth as much as whatever he would have done instead in addition to your own next best option.

    I'll grant that there are situations where GDS is the best option, but those situations are far too rare in my opinion to be worth taking as a Master of Nine. As a Crusader with a mere three disciplines to choose from, and one of them being the weak Stone Dragon, it may be a good choice. When every maneuver in the book is open to you, though, I think it's too situational to be worth taking.
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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Sword Sage school help needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldariel View Post
    The damage maneuvers from Desert Wind aren't entirely without merit; if you have Insightful Strikes, Knowledge Devotion and the like, you can add a bit into the damage (something that's usually hard with such abilities), and sometimes you might face opponents with too high defenses to be easily damaged through other means.
    I like Death Mark (if you can work out with your DM where the point of origin is) for area effect damage and clearing out low-level mookage. You might also be able to use Gauntlets of Energy Transformation on a couple of the fire-based standard-action strikes to change it to a different energy type, like Death Mark and Lingering Inferno. Unfortunately, the Gauntlets require a swift action to activate, and most of the good fire stuff in Desert Wind are boosts.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldariel View Post
    As for Stone Dragon, it has two things I really like:
    - Roots of the Mountain-stance
    - Mountain Hammer
    Another good one my Swordsage player found recently: Bonesplitting Strike, 2 Con damage no save.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldariel View Post
    Roots of the Mountain is very key against variety of large monsters whose natural tactic is Grappling/Tripping/Bull Rushing. It's also useful against specialist Fighters. +10 is nothing to sneeze at.
    I've been fiddling around with some grapple-based builds, and I noticedA few that the Crushing Weight of the Mountain stance is awesomesauce for grapplers, and you can still use it when you're moving or not on the ground.

    A few other things my Swordsage player has opened my eyes about:

    Shadow Hand does have two good strikes that still do damage even on a failed save: Shadow Garrotte and Shadow Noose. They're two of the only three ranged touch attacks in the book. Yes, they both have Fort saves, but Shadow Garrotte renders the target flat-footed (meh), and while Noose is a Wis-based Fort save or stun, the 8d6 damage is nothing to sneeze at.

    Of the three Shadow Jump maneuvers, Shadow Stride will get the most use because extra move actions are easier to come by than extra swift actions. You're going to need your swift actions for counters/boosts/feats/magic items/etc.

  24. - Top - End - #24
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Sword Sage school help needed

    Desert Wind's Searing charge (4th level) is almost too much fun, and of course the diamond mind's night blade progression. The shadow hand obscuring shadow veil is wonderful if you can pull off the fort save, and even if you can't the 5d6 is still a nice bonus. And soaring throw is pretty nifty (setting sun level 5) since it allows you to use dex to trip.
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