Desert Swordsage

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Desert Swordsage Substitution Levels

"They claim to follow the Way of Light, yet they use that name only to deceive. Though they claim to venerate the sun, they still consort with those who traverse in darkness and blaspheme Pelor's name by night. They call their powers 'magic,' yet in truth, their trickery and spells call upon the hellfire of fiends. Theirs is not a brotherhood, but a cult of the damned in disguise. We cannot allow their heresies and lies to continue." - Sir Avonius Kain, Knight Captain of the Holy Sun.

Within the dunes of the Great Desert, there once was a mystical temple called Isherihad, where dwelled the Brotherhood of the Nightborn Sun. It was a very secretive order, oft told in legends and myths, whose mystics called upon the powers of night and day to unleash deadly magics upon their foes. A hundred years ago, the Knights of the Holy Sun led a great crusader against this temple, destroying it and scattering its adepts and its knowledge to the winds. Now, these scattered adepts and their students wander the Great Desert, teaching their art to those they deem worth of the knowledge, waiting for the day that their temple would be reborn.

Hit Die: d8.


To take a desert swordsage substitution level, a character must be of a desert race (new races presented in Sandstorm also qualify) about to take her 1st, 4th, or 8th level of swordsage.

Class Skills

Desert swordsage substitution levels grant the same class skills as the standard swordsage class, minus Swim and Knowledge (Local), plus Spellcraft and Knowledge (Arcana).

Skill Points at Each Level: 6 + Int modifier (or six times this number as a beginning character).

Class Features


Desert Swordsage Substitution Levels
LevelBABFortRefWillSpecialManeuvers KnownManeuvers ReadiedStances Known
1st+0+0+2+2Quick to Act +1, Dichotomy of Day and Night, Arcane Focus641
4th+3+1+4+4Force of the Tranquil Storm952
8th+6/+1+2+6+6Stance of the Insatiable Wind1373

All the following are features of the desert swordsage's racial substitution levels:

Dichotomy of Day and Night: A swordsage taking his 1st level desert swordsage substitution level must choose between learning the Way of Light or the Way of Shadow. This choice is irrevocable, and sets the swordsage's path and the types of arcane maneuvers he may gain henceforth. Swordsages of the Nightborn Sun consider both paths to be equal means to the same ends, and individual swordsages are free to choose upon which path they would descend.

A desert swordsage of the Way of Light loses access to the Shadow Hand discipline, and replaces Desert Wind with its arcane equivalent, the Arcane Sun discipline. He may not select from Shadow Hand for swordsage maneuvers, though he may still gain maneuvers from that discipline via multiclassing, feats, and magic items. However, he may never select maneuvers from the default Desert Wind again, with the sole exceptions of the Martial Study/Stance feats and Martial Scripts. Any class or item that would grant maneuvers from the Desert Wind school to this swordsage grants an equal level maneuver from the Arcane Sun discipline instead.

A desert swordsage of the Way of Shadow loses access to the Desert Wind discipline, and replaces Shadow Hand with its arcane equivalent, the Blackened Moon discipline. He may not select from Desert Wind for swordsage maneuvers, though he may still gain maneuvers from that discipline via multiclassing, feats, and magic items. However, he may never select maneuvers from the default Shadow Hand again, with the sole exceptions of the Martial Study/Stance feats and Martial Scripts. Any class or item that would grant maneuvers from the Shadow Hand school to this swordsage grants an equal level maneuver from the Blackened Moon discipline instead.

The desert swordsage's caster level for arcane maneuvers is equal to his initiator level, and his key ability score for arcane maneuvers is Wisdom.

Arcane Focus (Ex): A swordsage who takes the 1st level desert swordsage substitution level gains the Weapon Focus feat for touch spells and ranged touch spells. This replaces the Weapon Focus standard swordsages get with discipline weapons.

Force of the Tranquil Storm (Su): A swordsage taking the 4th level desert swordsage substitution level gains the ability to apply his Wisdom bonus to caster level checks against spell resistance. This replaces the Insightful Strikes class feature. If a swordsage who has taken this variant would otherwise gain Insightful Strikes again for a second discipline, instead he adds his Wisdom bonus to his caster level to determine how hard his spells are to dispel and counterspell.

Stance of the Insatiable Wind (Su): While in a discipline's stance, a swordsage who takes the 8th level desert swordsage substitution level may ignore energy resistance equal to twice his initiator level for the purposes of maneuvers and stances from that discipline that would deal energy damage. This replaces the Defensive Stance class feature. If a swordsage with this substitution level would otherwise gain Defensive Stance again for a second discipline, he is able to completely ignore all energy resistances and immunities with his maneuvers and stances from that discipline instead.

Arcane Disciplines

Arcane disciplines are martial disciplines which have spells in place of martial maneuvers. All arcane disciplines are mirrors of standard disciplines, but are more powerful, representing a higher grasp of those disciplines than standard adepts can achieve. All of the maneuvers in these disciplines are arcane maneuvers, which have far more similarities with spells than martial maneuvers. They are learned and readied like standard maneuvers, and can be readied alongside them. "Casting" them acts the same as initiating them, though they still require verbal and/or somatic components if the base spell required them (however, material components, XP components, foci, and divine foci are not required). They can be initiated as usual for maneuvers, and they can be restored after expending the same way that other maneuvers are refreshed. Arcane spell failure do not apply to them.

Arcane maneuvers are considered arcane spells, and allow spell resistance if the spell itself does. The caster level for these spells is equal to initiator level, and with the save DC being 10 + maneuver level + primary attribute (Wis for desert swordsage). Initiating an arcane maneuver does not provoke attacks of opportunity, may not be interrupted, and does not require Concentration checks in stressful situations. They can still be dispelled and countered just like spells, and they do not function in antimagic fields. Arcane initiator classes do not gain the equivalent of bonus spell slots for high attributes.

Arcane maneuvers may not be gained via the Martial Study/Stance feats, selected for class maneuvers known (besides specific arcane adept classes), nor gained from items, unless the adept already possesses a maneuver from the school. An arcane discipline is considered the same discipline as its base discipline, and share the same discipline skill and weapons as the base. For the purposes of requirements arcane maneuvers count as maneuvers of the original discipline and vice versa (a requirement of "three Desert Wind maneuvers" may take any combination of three Desert Wind and/or Arcane Sun maneuvers).

Like regular maneuvers, arcane maneuvers are divided into strikes, boosts, counters, and stances. Unless otherwise stated here, an arcane maneuver works just like the spell it is based on. All arcane maneuvers function according to their type, like so:

An arcane maneuver has maneuver level equal to the level given in the lists below, regardless of the original spell level of the spell.
Initiation Action
All arcane maneuvers have initiation action listed besides them, replacing the spells' original casting times. Strikes always require either standard or full-round actions to initiate. Boosts and stances require swift actions, while counters require immediate actions.
If the original spell has a range of "close," the maneuver has a range of 30 ft. If the spell's range is "medium," the maneuver's range is 60 ft. If the spell's range is "long," the maneuver's range is 120 ft. Otherwise, the maneuver's range is the same as the spell's range. Stances always have personal range.
If a boost or counter has a single target, the target must be the caster. If a boost or counter has multiple targets, one of the targets must be the caster, and the remaining targets must be willing allies. Stances only target the caster.
Arcane maneuvers that are counters or boosts have a duration of only 1 round, with both ending at the beginning of your next turn. Stances last for as long as you remain in the stance. Strikes have the same duration as the original spells. An adept may not hold the charge of a touch spell maneuver for more than one round.

Arcane maneuvers have prerequisites based on their maneuver level, as listed.

Arcane Sun

Counterpart: Desert Wind

1st Level
(No prerequisites)
Accelerated Movement [SpC] - Stance, swift
Blades of Fire [SpC] - Boost, swift
Burning Hands - Strike, standard
Expeditious Retreat - Boost, swift
Kelgore's Fire Bolt [PHB2] - Strike, standard
2nd Level
(No prerequisites)
Bladeweave [SpC] - Boost, swift
Fireburst [SpC] - Strike, full-round
Fly - Boost, swift
Heatstroke [SpC] - Strike, standard
Longstrider - Stance, swift
3rd Level
(Requires 1 Arcane Sun maneuver)
Balor Nimbus [SpC] - Stance, swift
Combust [SpC] - Strike, standard
Downdraft [SpC] - Strike, full-round
Gust of Wind - Counter, immediate
Haste - Boost, swift
4th Level
(Requires 1 Arcane Sun maneuver)
Blast of Flame [SpC] - Strike, full-round
Fire Wings [SpC] - Stance, swift - (Special: You may not initiate maneuvers while flying via this stance.)
Flashburst [SpC] - Strike, standard
Freedom of Movement - Counter, immediate
Searing Light - Strike, standard
5th Level
(Requires 2 Arcane Sun maneuvers)
Flame Whips [SpC] - Boost, swift
Firestride Exhalation [DM] - Strike, full-round
Inferno [SpC] - Strike, standard
Wind Wall - Counter, immediate
Wreath of Flames [DM] - Stance, swift
6th Level
(Requires 2 Arcane Sun maneuvers)
Fire Shield - Stance, swift - (Special: Fire damage version only)
Haze of Smoldering Stone [DM] - Strike, full-round - (Special: Does not grant fire resistance for knowing the maneuver)
Lucent Lance [SpC] - Strike, standard
Wall of Fire - Counter, immediate
7th Level
(Requires 3 Arcane Sun maneuvers)
Cyclonic Blast [SpC] - Strike, full-round
Fire Storm - Strike, full-round
Haste - Stance, swift
Ray of Light [SpC] - Strike, standard
8th Level
(Requires 3 Arcane Sun maneuvers)
Delayed Blast Fireball - Strike, standard
Radiant Assault [SpC] - Strike, standard
Sunburst - Strike, full-round
Wind Walk - Stance, swift - (Special: You may have any number of willing allies within 30 ft share the effects of this stance)
9th Level
(Requires 4 Arcane Sun maneuvers)
Detonate [PHB2] - Strike, standard
Meteor Swarm - Strike, full-round

Blackened Moon

Counterpart: Shadow Hand

1st Level
(No prerequisites)
Chill of the Grave [SpC] - Strike, standard
Ebon Eyes [SpC] - Stance, swift
Ice Dagger [SpC] - Strike, standard
Invisibility - Boost, swift
Nightshield [SpC] - Counter, immediate
2nd Level
(No prerequisites)
Claws of Darkness [SpC] - Boost, swift
Creeping Cold [SpC] - Strike, standard
Death Armor [SpC] - Counter, immediate
Ice Knife [SpC] - Strike, standard
Spider Climb - Stance, swift
3rd Level
(Requires 1 Blackened Moon maneuver)
Belker Claws [SpC] - Strike, standard
Cloud of Knives [PHB2] - Stance, swift
Darkfire [SpC] - Boost, swift
Greater Invisibility - Boost, swift
Shadow Spray [SpC] - Strike, standard
4th Level
(Requires 1 Blackened Moon maneuver)
Armor of Darkness [SpC] - Counter, immediate
Greater Blink [SpC] - Counter, immediate
Icelance [SpC] - Strike, standard
Shadow Form [SpC] - Boost, swift
Zone of Silence - Stance, swift
5th Level
(Requires 2 Blackened Moon maneuvers)
Corona of Cold [SpC] - Stance, swift
Mislead - Boost, swift
Ray of Dizziness [SpC] - Strike, standard
Shadowy Grappler [SpC] - Strike, standard
Superior Invisibility [SpC] - Boost, swift
6th Level
(Requires 2 Blackened Moon maneuvers)
Dragon Breath [SpC] - Boost, swift - (Special: White, Brass, Copper, or Silver only)
Fire Shield - Stance, swift - (Special: Cold damage version only)
Mirror Image - Counter, immediate
Night's Caress [SpC] - Strike, standard
7th Level
(Requires 3 Blackened Moon maneuvers)
As the Frost [PHB2] - Boost, swift
Fleshshiver [SpC] - Strike, standard
Shadow Phase [SpC] - Stance, swift
Slay Living - Strike, standard
8th Level
(Requires 3 Blackened Moon maneuvers)
Avasculate [SpC] - Strike, standard
Ghostform [SpC] - Counter, immediate
Heat Drain [SpC] - Strike, full-round
Shadow Walk - Stance, swift - (Special: You may have any number of willing allies within 30 ft share the effects of this stance)
9th Level
(Requires 4 Blackened Moon maneuvers)
Energy Drain [SpC] - Strike, standard
Field of Icy Razors [SpC] - Strike, full-round - (Special: Range is long instead of medium)

Arcane Maneuvers and Requirements

Knowledge of arcane maneuvers do satisfy requirements based on spellcasting ability (such as "able to cast 5th level spells"). Adepts that can initiate arcane maneuvers do have a caster level, and can satisfy specific spell requirements as long as they have an arcane maneuver that duplicates the spell, but they do not have spells known or spell slots.

If a prestige class would advance arcane spellcasting, it may be used to advance an arcane adept's maneuvers. In such a case, levels in which a prestige class would advance an adept's casting are added fully to the adept's class level to determine initiator level and maneuvers known, readied, and stances, though he may only select maneuvers and stances known from arcane disciplines during those levels (levels in which a PrC does not advance casting only adds 1/2 to initiator level, as normal).

An arcane adept may supply the spell necessary for crafting an item if he knows a maneuver that acts as the spell required. Finally, spell trigger and spell completion items treat him as having the spell on his class spell list if the spell contained within the item is part of an arcane discipline that the adept knows a maneuver of.

Arcane Maneuvers and Metamagic Feats

Directly after readying maneuvers, you can choose to exchange any number of those maneuvers for unreadied arcane maneuvers you know with metamagic feats applied, simultaneously unreadying the current maneuvers and readying the metamagic'd arcane maneuvers. The total level of the arcane maneuver level + metamagic level adjustment must be less than or equal to level of the maneuver that you swapped out. This happens immediately after readying and requires no additional actions. You cannot have a maneuver along with a metamagic adjusted version of that maneuver readied at the same time, and you must have the metamagic feats that you apply to your maneuvers. Treat a metamagic adjusted maneuver as a maneuver of its original level without metamagic feats for purposes such as save DCs and Globe of Invulnerability (unless the metamagic applied is Heighten Spell, which does increase effective maneuver level). Metamagic feats may not be used on stances.

Example: A 5th level desert swordsage has 10 maneuvers known (one 3rd level manuever, three 2nd level maneuvers, and the rest 1st level) and may ready 6 of them. He possess the feats Extend Spell and Empower Spell. When readying maneuvers, he readies Insightful Strike (3rd), Claw at the Moon (2nd), and Mountain Hammer (2nd), plus several other maneuvers, leaving Burning Hands, Expeditious Retreat, and Blades of Fire unreadied. Immediately after readying those, he swaps Insightful Strike for Empowered Burning Hands, Claw at the Moon for Extended Expeditious Retreat, and Mountain Hammer for Extended Blades of Fire. The three maneuvers he swapped out must remain unreadied until he reselects his readied maneuvers yet again.

The following metamagic feats may be used with arcane maneuvers:

Metamagic FeatSourceSpecial
Chain SpellCArcMay only be applied to strikes
Consecrate SpellBoEDNone
Corrupt SpellBoVDNone
Enlarge SpellPHBNone
Empower SpellPHBNone
Energy AdmixtureCArcNone
Energy SubstitutionCArcNone
Explosive SpellCArcNone
Extend SpellPHBMay only be applied to boosts and counters
Fiery SpellSandNone
Fortify SpellCArcNone
Heighten SpellPHBNone
Lord of the UttercoldCArcNone
Maximize SpellPHBNone
Nonlethal SubstitutionBoEDNone
Piercing ColdFrostNone
Purify SpellBoEDNone
Quicken SpellPHBChanges standard action initiation to swift action
Rapid SpellCDivChanges full-round initiation to standard action
Reach SpellCDivNone
Sculpt SpellCArcNone
Searing SpellSandNone
Silent SpellPHBNone
Split RayCArcNone
Still SpellPHBNone
Transdimensional SpellCArcNone
Twin SpellCArcNone
Violate SpellBoVDNone
Widen SpellPHBNone

Sudden Metamagic feats may likewise be applied to arcane maneuvers. Those may each be used once per day without being readied beforehand when you initiate an arcane maneuver, causing that maneuver to act as if readied with the metamagic feat for the rest of the encounter (even if you regain the maneuver and use it again).

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