The Weapon Master

The weapon master is one of the big three classes generating the most flak among IH gamers (the others being the arcanist and armiger), so it's a natural candidate to hack. The objectives of this revision are:


Class Statistics

Hit Die: 1d4+6/level.

Skill Groups: Athletics.

Skill Points/Level: 4 + Int modifier (x4 at 1st level).

Level

Favoured Base Attack Bonus

Base Attack Bonus

Favored Base Defense Bonus

Base Defense Bonus

Special

Primary Feat Mastery

Secondary Feat Mastery

Other Feat Mastery

1

+1

+1

+1

+1

Favored weapon, initiate's eye

2

1

2

+2

+2

+2

+2

Weapon style

2

1

3

+3

+3

+3

+3

 

3

2

4

+5

+4

+4

+4

Weapon style

3

2

5

+6

+5

+5

+5

Bonus feat

4

3

1

6

+7

+6

+6

+5

 

4

3

1

7

+8

+7

+7

+6

Weapon style

5

4

2

8

+10

+8

+8

+7

Exemplar of the blade

5

4

2

9

+11

+9

+9

+8

Weapon expertise

6

5

3

10

+12

+10

+10

+9

Master's assessment

6

5

3

11

+13

+11

+11

+10

Bonus feat

7

6

4

12

+15

+12

+12

+10

 

7

6

4

13

+16

+13

+13

+11

Weapon expertise

8

7

5

14

+17

+14

+14

+12

Master's accuracy

8

7

5

15

+18

+15

+15

+13

Weapon expertise

9

8

6

16

+20

+16

+16

+14

Bonus feat

9

8

6

17

+21

+17

+17

+15

Weapon supremacy

10

9

7

18

+22

+18

+18

+15

 

10

9

7

19

+23

+19

+19

+16

Weapon supremacy

10

9

7

20

+25

+20

+20

+17

Weapon supremacy

10

9

7

Feats

Weapon masters gain unparalleled access to weapon feats, but their mastery of other areas is much more limited. As a weapon master, you can choose two of the following feat categories as your primary and secondary areas of study: Armor, Defense, Finesse, or Power. You advance in these two categories as per the table above. You advance in all other areas less quickly.

Class Features

Weapon and Armor Proficiency

Weapon masters are proficient with all simple and martial weapons, light and medium armor, and shields.

Favored Weapon

You must select one type of melee weapon ("longsword", "spear", "double axe", and so on) to become your weapon of choice. You must be proficient with this weapon. When fighting with this type of weapon, you use your favored base attack bonus and favored base defense bonus progressions. With all other weapons, you use the lower base attack and defense progressions given on the table. Your weapon style, weapon expertise and weapon supremacy abilities only function if you are wielding your weapon of choice.

Special: When using your favored weapon, your weapon master levels do not count as a class with an average base defense progression for the purpose of figuring a multiclassed character's defense bonus (see IH p.72).

Initiate's Eye

Your familiarity with your weapon allows you to gauge the skill of your rivals with alacrity. Against opponents who are armed with the same weapon as your weapon of choice, you can use combat sense with a base attack check instead of a Sense Motive check (see IH p.104) and you gain a +2 bonus on your roll. You always use your favored base attack progression for this purpose.

Weapon Style

Weapon masters are unparalleled experts with their favored weapon. You learn techniques and maneuvers that nobody else can even attempt. By combining these special techniques with your basic training, you can achieve stunning feats of combat skill. At 2nd, 4th and 7th levels you gain a weapon style.

At the start of your turn, before taking any actions, you can choose a weapon style to use for the round. You can only use one weapon style per round, but you can combine a weapon style with a weapon expertise ability (see below) in the same round. The benefits from weapon style last until the start of your next turn.

Critical Strike: To use this ability, you must have the Weapon Focus feat with your weapon of choice. If you score a critical threat, you gain a +4 bonus on the confirmation roll. You gain this benefit on each critical threat that you score in the round.

Expert Strike: To use this ability, you must have the Weapon Finesse feat and your weapon of choice must be usable with Weapon Finesse. You can sense and take advantage of opportunities to strike for best effect. You deal an additional +1d6 points of sneak attack damage.

Mighty Blow: To use this ability, you must have the Power Attack feat and your weapon of choice must be one that is usable with Power Attack. If you take at least a -1 attack penalty to increase your damage, you deal an additional 2 points of damage per hit, stacking with the increased damage from Power Attack.

Steady Aim: To use this ability, you must have the Weapon Focus feat with your weapon of choice. Once in a round, you can reroll your damage after a successful hit. You must take the result of the reroll, even if it's worse than the original roll. You must reroll all your dice, including any representing bonus damage such as from sneak attack.

Weapon Agility: To use this ability, you must have the Combat Expertise feat and your weapon of choice must be usable with Combat Expertise. If you take at least a -1 attack penalty to increase your defense with Combat Expertise, you gain a +4 bonus to opposed rolls to defend against disarm and sunder attempts, and you can ignore the attack penalty from Combat Expertise on the opposed roll to avoid your weapon being disarmed or sundered. You do not gain these benefits if you attempt to disarm or sunder an opponent's weapon.

Biting Lance: To use this ability, you must have the Hafted Weapon Mastery feat and your weapon of choice must be usable with Hafted Weapon Mastery. Ready an attack against an opponent who moves into your threatened area. If you hit and do damage, your target must make a Fortitude save (DC 10 + 1/2 your weapon master level + your Strength or Dexterity modifier, whichever is higher) or end their movement in their current square.

Defensive Affinity: To use this ability, you must have the Dodge feat. If you use the fight defensively or improved fight defensively attack challenge, you gain a +1 active bonus to defense and a +2 bonus to Reflex saves for 1 round. The defense bonus stacks with that from the attack challenge.

Furious Onslaught: To use this ability, you must have the Power Attack feat and your weapon of choice must be usable with Power Attack. Select a target for your attacks. If you take at least a -1 attack penalty to increase your damage with Power Attack and succeed in dealing at least 10 points of damage, your target takes a -1 penalty to their attacks in the next round. All your regular attacks for the round must be made against the same target your attention is focused on them.

Lightning Assault: To use this ability, you must have the Combat Expertise feat and your weapon of choice must be usable with Combat Expertise. You make a powerful lunge when your foe least expects it, trading defense for offense. You take a -4 penalty to your defense, and in return you gain a +2 bonus to your attack rolls for one round. You cannot use this ability in the same round as Power Attack.

Mighty Cleaving: To use this ability, you must have the Cleave feat. You have exceptional ability to deal with lesser foes who seek to overwhelm you by force of numbers. You gain one extra cleave attack for the round. You must still meet the requirements to make a cleave attack.

Paired Weapon Style: To use this ability, you must have the Two-Weapon Fighting feat and your weapon of choice must be a one-handed weapon. When fighting with a weapon of choice in each hand, you can treat your off-hand weapon as light for the purpose of figuring attack and damage bonuses.

Single Weapon Style: To use this ability, you must have the Weapon Focus feat with your light or one-handed weapon of choice, and your off-hand must be free (not even wielding a buckler). Unhindered by the bulk of a shield or a large weapon, you evade your enemies' attacks and strike back with precisely-placed blows. You gain a +1 active bonus to defense and a +1 bonus to damage rolls for the round.

Unerring Strike: To use this ability, you must have the Weapon Finesse feat and your weapon of choice must be usable with Weapon Finesse. Your attacks are swift and unhesitating, trading power for speed and accuracy. By taking a -2 penalty on your damage rolls, you gain a +2 bonus to your attack rolls for one round. You cannot use this ability in the same round as Power Attack.

Bonus Feats

At 6th, 11th and 16th level, you gain a bonus feat. The feat must come from either your primary or secondary category. You must still meet the usual prerequisites for the feat, and you must be using your weapon of choice to gain its benefit.

Exemplar of the Blade

You gain this ability at 8th level. You gain a +2 bonus to your roll when making or responding to battlefield challenge checks against opponents using the same weapon as your weapon of choice. If your foe (or their chosen ally) refuses to fight you, they take a -4 morale penalty to attacks and damage instead of -2.

Weapon Expertise

As your experience grows, you learn the subtler, deadlier techniques of your combat style. At 9th, 13th and 15th level, you gain a weapon expertise ability. You can use one weapon expertise ability per round. You must choose which ability to use at the start of your turn, before you take any actions, and the benefits last until the start of your next turn. You can combine a weapon expertise and a weapon style ability in the same round, but you cannot use weapon expertise in the same round as a weapon supremacy ability.

Devastating Riposte: To use this ability, you must have the Combat Expertise feat and your weapon of choice must be usable with Combat Expertise. If you take at least a -1 attack penalty to increase your defense with Combat Expertise, and miss on all your attacks for the round, you gain a +2 bonus to attacks and a +2 active bonus to defense in the following round. These bonuses take effect at start of your next turn, and last for one round. You must make at least one attack against an opponent in your current round to gain this benefit.

Flurry of Strikes: To use this ability, you must have the Weapon Focus feat with your weapon of choice. You gain an additional attack with a standard attack or full attack action. Your additional attack is made at your highest base attack bonus, but all your attacks for the round take a -4 penalty.

Precise Strike: To use this ability, you must have the Weapon Finesse feat and your weapon of choice must be usable with Weapon Finesse. You deal an additional +1d6 points of damage on all successful hits for the round. Unlike sneak attack damage, you do not need to flank your opponent or deny them their active defense bonus to gain this benefit. However, any feats or abilities that protect against sneak attack damage also protect against precise strike damage.

Penetrating Attack: To use this ability, you must have the Weapon Finesse feat and your weapon of choice must be usable with Weapon Finesse. Select a target. You take a -2 penalty to your attack rolls, and in return you can bypass 5 points of your chosen target's damage reduction per hit.

Bladed Defense: To use this ability, you must have the Combat Expertise feat, and your weapon of choice must be usable with Combat Expertise. If you take at least a -1 attack penalty to increase your defense with Combat Expertise, you can use battle sense with a base attack check instead of a Listen check to defend against flanking. If you also have the Champion of Battle expanded mastery 6 feat, you can use combat sense as a free action instead of a move action without taking a penalty to your opposed roll.

Deadly Lance: To use this ability, you must have the Hafted Weapon Mastery feat and your weapon of choice must be usable with Hafted Weapon Mastery. Your first attack for the round bypasses your opponent's damage reduction.

Greater Critical Strike: To use this ability, you must have the Improved Critical feat with your weapon of choice. If you score a critical hit, your foe must make a Fortitude save (DC 10 + 1/2 your weapon master level + your Strength or Dexterity modifier, whichever is higher) or be dazed for 1 round. If you score multiple critical hits, your foe must make a save for each; failing any means that they are dazed for 1 round.

Greater Razor Fiend: To use this ability, you must have the Razor Fiend feat and your weapon of choice must be usable with Razor Fiend. By taking a -1 penalty to your attacks, you gain your full Strength bonus to damage on each hit.

Greater Whirlwind Attack: To use this ability, you must have the Whirlwind Attack feat. You deal an additional +2d6 points of damage per attack that you make as part of a whirlwind attack.

Power Blow: To use this ability, you must have the Power Attack feat and your weapon of choice must be usable with Power Attack. Make a melee attack as a full attack action, with at least a -3 attack penalty to increase your damage from Power Attack. If you hit, you deal double damage.

Sledgehammer Strike: To use this ability, you must have the Power Attack expanded mastery 5 feat and your weapon of choice must be usable with Power Attack. If you use the Power Attack expanded mastery 5 feat and take at least a -5 attack penalty to increase your damage from Power Attack, you do not have to forego the extra damage to trip your opponent.

Master's Assessment

You gain this ability at 10th level. Your extensive training with your weapon of choice grants you the ability to identify and assess styles of fighting similar to your own. You gain the benefits of Initiate's Eye against opponents wielding a weapon with the same identifying descriptor as your weapon of choice. For example, if your weapon of choice is a greatsword (a weapon with the "sword" identifying descriptor), you gain the benefits of Initiate's Eye against opponents using bastard swords, longswords, two-bladed swords and so on.

Furthermore, when you use combat sense against an opponent who is armed with the same weapon as your weapon of choice, you gain a +2 bonus on your roll, stacking with the bonus from Initiate's Eye. In addition, you can gain additional information on a successful check. You can choose to learn two of the following: your opponent's hit dice/levels; attack bonus with their primary weapon; total defense bonus; or one combat-related feat or special ability that they have. You can use this ability once per target per encounter.

Master's Accuracy

You gain this ability at 14th level. A true master does not buckle in the face of pressure. Once per encounter, while wielding your weapon of choice, you can reroll an attack roll or base attack check. You must take the result of the reroll even if it's worse than the original roll.

Weapon Supremacy

Your prowess with your weapon of choice is all-surpassing. At 17th, 19th and 20th level, you gain a weapon supremacy ability.

You can use one weapon supremacy ability per round, which you choose at the start of your turn, before taking any actions. The benefits of the ability last until the start of your next turn. However, these demonstrations of transcendent skill are time-consuming to setup, and to recover from. There are a number of steps involved in using weapon supremacy:

Masterful Attack: To use this ability, you must have the Mobility feat and your speed must not have been reduced by armour or encumbrance. You can make a full attack at the end of a charge. You take a -4 penalty on all your attacks instead of the normal +2 from a charge. Similarly, you take a -4 penalty to defense until your next turn, instead of the normal -2.

Mobile Attack: To use this ability, you must have the Mobility expanded mastery 3 feat, and you must move at least 2 squares (10 feet) before attacking. If you use a full attack action to move and attack as given in that feat's description, you can make two attacks instead of one. Both your attacks must be on the same target. You take a -2 penalty to all your attacks for the round.

Telling Blow: To use this ability, you must have the Improved Disarm feat, and your weapon of choice must be usable with Improved Disarm. If you successfully disarm your foe, you gain an immediate melee attack on them at the same attack bonus.

Vicious Riposte: To use this ability, you must have the Combat Expertise feat and your weapon of choice must be usable with Combat Expertise. If you take at least a -1 attack penalty to increase your defense, you gain an attack of opportunity against a foe who hits you in melee. You gain a +4 bonus to the attack roll on the attack of opportunity. You can use this ability multiple times in the round, but you only get one attack of opportunity per hit.

Hypnotic Blade: To use this ability, you must have the Improved Feint expanded mastery 5 feat and your weapon of choice must be usable with Improved Feint. By taking a -5 penalty to your roll when you use a negate defense challenge, you can deny your foe their active bonus to defense against all your attacks for a round. You can use this ability once per encounter.

Master's Insight: To use this ability, you must have the Weapon Focus feat with your weapon of choice. You reach out with your senses to gain a heightened awareness of the battlefield, confounding the efforts of your enemies to deceive you. You gain a +2 bonus to attack rolls, a +2 active bonus to defense, and a +4 bonus to saving throws and skill and base attack checks that you make as a reaction to an opponent's action. You do not gain the latter bonus on skill or base attack checks resulting from an action that you initiate. For example, you would gain a bonus to a Sense Motive or base attack check to defend against an attempted feint, but not to a Bluff check to feint your opponent.

Supreme Power Attack: To use this ability, you must have the Power Attack expanded mastery 4 feat and your weapon of choice must be usable with Power Attack. Your attacks look wild and uncontrollable, but there is a grace and fluency to them that eludes your opponents' notice until it's too late. If you take at least a -5 attack penalty to increase your damage with Power Attack, your Power Attack multiplier increases by 0.5. If you normally gain bonus damage equal to your attack penalty, it becomes 1.5 times your attack penalty; if you normally gain bonus damage equal to 1.5 times your attack penalty, it becomes 2 times your attack penalty; and so on.

Supreme Weapon Finesse: To use this ability, you must have the Weapon Finesse feat and your weapon of choice must be usable with Weapon Finesse. Even the smallest weakness in your foe's defenses is a gaping hole, enough for you to deliver a lethal strike. You deal an additional +10d6 points of sneak attack damage on your first attack for the round.

Supreme Weapon Focus: To use this ability, you must have the Weapon Focus feat with your weapon of choice. You clear your mind of all distractions, focus your thoughts, and make a single attack that lays your opponent low. Make a melee attack as a standard action, at your highest base attack bonus. You gain a +20 insight bonus to your attack roll, and your attack ignores any miss chance due to concealment or total concealment.

Sweeping Attack: To use this ability, you must have the Improved Trip feat. You gain a +2 bonus on the opposed roll to trip an opponent. Attempts to kip up with a Jump check within your threatened area are opposed by your base attack check, rather than being a flat DC 20. You gain an attack of opportunity against any attempt to stand from prone within your threatened area, unless your opponent manages to kip up.

Weapon Master Strategy

This weapon master doesn't have a token pool, unlike the standard class. However, that doesn't mean that there is any less strategy in playing it.

Naturally, as a weapon master, you should focus your chosen feats around your favored weapon as much as possible. Beyond that, your weapon abilities all have feat prerequisites, so you should take care in deciding which feats to have. In particular, you should have at least a couple of base mastery feats, so that you don't run out of choices. Weapon Focus opens the door to a number of abilities that are useful in nearly all situations. The abilities based on Combat Expertise will help you improve your defenses significantly, while those based on Power Attack and Weapon Finesse increase your damage output.

You should also examine what actions in combat are required to gain the benefits of each ability, and avoid taking abilities that can't be used together. An example of this might be Paired Weapon Style and Power Blow: the former gives a benefit to any off-hand attacks you make, but using the latter means making only one attack in the round, which rules out making off-hand attacks. Conversely, some abilities can form useful combos, and they should be the ones to consider taking. For example, Paired Weapon Style works well with Sledgehammer Strike, since the bonus to your off-hand attacks will help offset the penalty for using Power Attack. Critical Strike and Greater Critical Strike, in conjunction with a weapon with a large threat range, give you a good chance of dazing your opponent each round; while Devastating Riposte is a good ability to use on the round before any action that requires you to take an attack or defense penalty.

In many ways, your weapon supremacy abilities will be like a signature of yours at high level. While such powers may look very tempting, you shouldn't use them too often, since they leave you unable to use your other weapon abilities on the following round. Instead, consider treating them as finishing moves. First, soften up your opponent over a few rounds with weapon style and weapon expertise abilities; then when they're suitably damaged, use weapon supremacy to take them down with a spectacular and devastating strike. Not only does this mean the use limitations are avoided, but it's a memorable way to achieve victory.


Last updated: 09 Jun 2006

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