The Swordmaster

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Swordmaster

"Live by the sword, die by the sword."

CLASS TRAITS

Role: Striker. You dart in to attack, do massive damage, and then retreat to safety.
Power Source: Martial. Your talents depend on extensive
training and constant practice, innate skill, and natural
coordination.
Key Abilities: Dexterity, Charisma, Wisdom

Armor Training: Cloth
Weapon Proficiencies: Longword, shortsword, scimitar, katana, dagger and shuriken
Bonus to Defense: +2 Reflex

Hit Points at 1st Level: 12 + Constitution score
Hit Points per Level Gained: 5
Healing Surges: 6 + Constitution modifier

Trained Skills: 4
Class Skills: Acrobatics (Dex), Athletics (Str), Endurance (Con), Insight (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Perception (Wis), Stealth (Dex)

Build Options: Enlightened swordsman, ki swordsman
Class Features: Swordmaster Style, Blade Mastery, Deadly Strike

Swordmaster Class Features

Swordmaster Style
While all swordmasters are masters of the blade, some use their intense focus and concentration as a means of overcoming enemies while others rely on the force of their inner spirit to defeat foes.

Choose one of the following options.

Diamond Mind: While in cloth or no armor, and not wearing a shield, you gain a bonus to your AC equal to your Wisdom modifier against opportunity attacks. You also gain the Diamond Defense power.

Diamond Defense
Your perception and insight allow you to react to danger at the speed of thought.
At-will * martial
Minor action
Requirement: You must be in cloth or no armor and not wearing a shield.
Effect: You gain a bonus to your AC and Reflex defenses equal to your Wisdom modifier until the start of your next turn.
Special: This bonus does not stack with that of your Diamond Mind class feature.


Lightning Blade: While in cloth or no armor you may add your Charisma modifier as a bonus to your initiative rolls. You also gain the Fleet Footed power.

Fleet Footed
You can move at amazing speeds.
At-will * martial
Minor Action
Requirement: You must be in cloth or no armor and not wearing a shield.
Effect: Shift one square.

The choice you make also provides bonuses to certain swordmaster
powers. Individual powers detail the effects (if any) your Swordmaster Style selection has on them

Blade Mastery
You may treat the longsword, scimitar, and katana as light blades.

Deadly Strike
Once per round, you may have a melee hit with a light blade deal maximum weapon damage.

Swordmaster Powers
Your powers are daring exploits that draw on your personal
cunning, agility, and expertise. Some powers reward a high
Charisma and are well suited for the ki swordsman, and others
reward a high wisdom and appeal to the enlightened swordsman, but you
are free to choose any power you like.
Show

At-will Powers:
Show

Lunging Slash
Swordmaster Attack 1
A final lunge brings you into an advantageous position.
At-Will *Martial, Weapon
Standard Action Melee
Requirement: You must be wielding a light blade.
Target: One creature
Special: You can move 2 squares before the attack.
Attack: Dexterity vs. AC
Hit: 1[W] + Dexterity modifier damage.
Increase damage to 2[W] + Dexterity modifier at 21st level.

Insightful Strike
Swordmaster Attack 1
You study your opponent and spot a weak point in her armor. With a quick, decisive strike, you take advantage of this weakness with a devastating attack.
At-Will *Martial, Weapon
Standard Action Melee
Requirement: You must be wielding a light blade.
Target: One creature
Attack: Dexterity vs. AC
Hit: 1[W] + Dexterity modifier damage.
Increase damage to 2[W] + Dexterity modifier at 21st level.
Diamond Mind: You gain a bonus to the damage roll equal to your Wisdom modifier.
Lightning Blade: You gain a bonus to the attack roll equal to your Charisma modifier.

Darting Strike
Swordmaster Attack 1
You slink past your enemy’s guard to make your attack, or you make
your attack and then withdraw to a more advantageous position.
At-Will * Martial, Weapon
Standard Action melee
Requirement: You must be wielding a light blade.
Target: One creature
Special: Shift 1 square before or after you attack
Attack: Dexterity vs. AC
Hit: 1[W] + Dexterity modifier damage.
Increase damage to 2[W] + Dexterity modifier at 21st level.


Encounter Powers:
Show

One Strike Two cuts
Swordmaster Attack 1
Your blade flashes downward into your enemy leaving two cuts behind.
Encounter * Martial, Weapon
Standard Action Melee weapon
Requirement: You must be wielding a light blade.
Target: One creature
Attack: Dexterity vs. AC
Hit: 2[W] + Dexterity modifier damage.
Lightning Blade: You gain a bonus to the damage roll equal to your Charisma modifier.

Strike With No Thought
Swordmaster Attack 1
You strike your opponent without even thinking about it.
Encounter * Martial, Weapon
Immediate Reaction Melee weapon
Trigger: An enemy moves or shifts adjacent to you.
Requirement: You must be wielding a light blade.
Target: One creature
Attack: Dexterity vs. AC
Hit: [W] + Dexterity modifier damage.
Diamond Mind: You gain a bonus to the attack roll equal to your Wisdom modifier.

Iaijutsu Strike
Swordmaster Attack 1
You draw your blade and strike an enemy in a single lightning fast motion.
Encounter * Martial, Weapon
Standard Action Melee weapon
Requirement: You must use a sheathed light blade to make this attack.
Special: Draw your weapon as a free action. You have combat advantage for this attack.
Target: One creature
Attack: Dexterity vs. AC
Hit: 2[W] + Dexterity modifier damage.
Lightning Blade: You gain a bonus to the damage roll equal to your Charisma modifier.


Utility Powers:
Show

Tumble
Swordmaster Utility 2
You tumble out of harm’s way, dodging the opportunistic attacks of your
enemies.
Encounter * Martial
Move Action Personal
Prerequisite: You must be trained in Acrobatics.
Effect: You can shift a number of squares equal to one-half
your speed.

Intuitive Dodge
Swordmaster Utility 2
With your almost supernatural sixth sense about combat you are able to evade attacks easily.
Encounter * Martial
Immediate Action Interupt Personal
Trigger: You are the target of an attack or in the area of an area attack.
Effect: You may use your Insight or Perception skill modifier +10 in place of your Reflex or AC defense for the attack about to hit you.

Sidestep
Swordmaster Utility X
With your almost supernatural sixth sense about combat you are able to evade attacks easily.
Encounter * Martial
Immediate Action Interupt Personal
Trigger: You are the target of an attack or in the area of an area attack.
Effect: You may shift one square. If this moves you out of reach of a melee attack or out of the area of an area attack, the attack automatically misses you.


Daily Powers:
Show

Final Blow
Swordmaster Attack 1
With two lightning fast strikes you are able to get by your enemies defenses.
Daily * Martial, Weapon
Immediate reaction Melee weapon
Trigger: You miss with with a basic melee attack or at will power.
Requirement: You must be wielding a light blade.
Target: One creature
Attack: Dexterity vs. AC
Hit: 3[W] + Dexterity modifier damage.
Special: You gain a +2 bonus to this attack

Avalanche of Blades
Swordmaster Attack X
In a flashing blur of steel, you unleash a devastating volley of deadly attacks against your enemy, striking it again and again.
Daily * Martial, Weapon
Standard Action Melee weapon
Requirement: You must be wielding a light blade.
Target: One creature
Attack: Dexterity vs. AC
Hit: 2[W] + Dexterity modifier damage.
Special: Repeat (If an attack successfully hits, you may perform this attack again). Maximum of four attacks.


Note: This is a small fraction of powers. For other swordmaster powers use fighter, ranger, or rogue powers that seem appropriate and modify as needed. We must wait for the full release to determine what other powers would be fitting/balanced.

Swordmasters in the Media:
Himura Kenshin from Rurouni Kenshin
Jin from Samurai Champloo
Li Mu-Bai and Jen Yu from Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
Karel and Lyn from Fire Emblem Advanced
Samurai Jack from Samurai Jack
Neato! Very nice to see a swordsmaster class. I see you borrowed strongly from the rogue (appropriate), but also made this class distinct, a very good variant. I really look forward to seeing this class as you complete it! I am a huge fan of Fire Emblem's Myrmidon class, so naturally, I think this is great. In fact, since "Swordsmaster" is a bit cliche, and a bit strong sounding (enter "Warlords" argument), I would in fact suggest changing the class'es name to Myrmidon. However, as this is your creation, I fully respect your right to make your own decision, and support your decision either way.
Let your voice be heard! Tell WotC to Publish D&D 4e under the OGL!
He's supposed to use katana or longsword, right? But most of his powers require him to use a light blade. Now, we haven't seen the weapon rules yet, but I'm pretty sure that a Katana won't count as a light blade. I assume "light blade" will include dagger, short sword and rapier. You should change the rules to include the Katana for his powers.

a) remove the light
b) give him a class power to treat certain weapons as "light blades", i.e. the Katana
He's supposed to use katana or longsword, right?

Blade Mastery
You may treat the longsword and katana as light blades. You gain a +1 bonus to all attacks made with the katana, longsword, and shortsword.

One step ahead of you. :D
What no Wave Sword or Air Slash techniques?... I'm disillusioned.
Thanks for the support of the class Wizardmon. I agree swordmaster sounds cliche but Myrmidon could give people the wrong impression of the class when taken out of the Fire Emblem context. Maybe another name altogether and use swordmaster as a paragon path?

As for the lack of near mystical techniques, I vote we give those to the new Warblade. :D

Oh if anyone has any ideas for converting some fitting Diamond Mind manuevers or other fitting swordmaster features let me know.

Here are some extra ideas of mine:
The Diamond Mind stance that allowed an extra immediate action per round becomes a stance that allows two minor actions per round.

Iaijutsu Master Paragon Path?

Oh one last thing, anyone have a good quote for the class?
Neato! Very nice to see a swordsmaster class. I see you borrowed strongly from the rogue (appropriate), but also made this class distinct, a very good variant. I really look forward to seeing this class as you complete it! I am a huge fan of Fire Emblem's Myrmidon class, so naturally, I think this is great. In fact, since "Swordsmaster" is a bit cliche, and a bit strong sounding (enter "Warlords" argument), I would in fact suggest changing the class'es name to Myrmidon. However, as this is your creation, I fully respect your right to make your own decision, and support your decision either way.

Except for what a Myrmidon actually is is someone from a specific greek city states. They were supposed to be incredible soldiers, with the very notable Achilles among them, however spears and such were used.
Except for what a Myrmidon actually is is someone from a specific greek city states. They were supposed to be incredible soldiers, with the very notable Achilles among them, however spears and such were used.

Western concepts never get as much respect as Asian ones. For whatever reason, people insist on using various Asian concepts whole, complete, and inviolate, however violated the actual historical concepts might've been before they reached the player. Western concepts are free to be mixed, mashed, mangled, or reduced to base elements and incorporated into classes, on its own or with several superficially similar classes.

On a related note, the Swordmaster concept already exists, as a Fighter Paragon Path.
De nomine: I'd say, "Screw it, let's call it a 'samurai' ", and just make extra clear that I mean



and not



which, let's face it, are fighters.
which, let's face it, are fighters.

And this is a rogue! From what is made so far, and what I have seen of the preview material, this "class" is little more than a Rogue with an homebrewed first level feature and a couple powers involving reactionary defense.

I'm not saying the concept is a bad one, but I fail to see how this class is any farther from a rogue than the more classically defenderish Samurai types are from fighters.

Oh, Lunging Slash and Nimble Strike seem extremely similar, and in fact if you had both you would never use Nimble Slash for movement beforehand when Lunging Slash is entirely superior, but I'm sure everyone's homebrew powers will get a working over once the books actually arrive anyway.
And this is a rogue! From what is made so far, and what I have seen of the preview material, this "class" is little more than a Rogue with an homebrewed first level feature and a couple powers involving reactionary defense.

I'm not saying the concept is a bad one, but I fail to see how this class is any farther from a rogue than the more classically defenderish Samurai types are from fighters.

This is not the best execution of the guy-in-bathrobe-with-katana archetype, but that archetype does exist. I'd probably roll it together with the related guy-in-bathrobe-with-bare-hands archetype to create a more generalized class that fights with crazy ki powers and ludicrous speed rather than being sneaky or tricky like a rogue. I think that's a sufficient distinction, though the jury's still out on whether WotC agrees with me, given the state of limbo the monk seems to be in.

On the other hand, more "realistic" samurai, with armor, defender tendencies, and a minimum of magical abilities, are definitely fighters. The ARMA types on these boards could no doubt go on and on about the differences in the fighting styles between Japanese, Indian, Middle Eastern, and European warriors, but really, for the purposes of this game, we shouldn't need different classes to represent every culture's heavily-armored martial "defender", unless they did something really far out. Attempts at a distinct "samurai" class either result in fighter-clones like in Oriental Adventures, or wimpy railroadings like in Complete Warrior.
but really, for the purposes of this game, we shouldn't need different classes to represent every culture's heavily-armored martial "defender", unless they did something really far out. Attempts at a distinct "samurai" class either result in fighter-clones like in Oriental Adventures, or wimpy railroadings like in Complete Warrior.

You're absolutely right. What we very much don't need in 4E is a situation like in 3.5, where nearly every conceivable variation on any given concept was covered in its own distinct class, power level varying wildly from one to the next. Even if power level isn't a concern with better design in 4E, I think it'd be detrimental to every class if they created several classes that are very similar to each other, and then tried to make each one conceptually and mechanically distinct from the others.

This is not the best execution of the guy-in-bathrobe-with-katana archetype, but that archetype does exist. I'd probably roll it together with the related guy-in-bathrobe-with-bare-hands archetype to create a more generalized class that fights with crazy ki powers and ludicrous speed rather than being sneaky or tricky like a rogue. I think that's a sufficient distinction, though the jury's still out on whether WotC agrees with me, given the state of limbo the monk seems to be in.

Hmm. On consideration, you're right here, too. Sort of. The Rogue seems sort of off for the task, but the melee Ranger needs to use two weapons. But I can definitely think of a few issues with this thinking.

1. Such characters are generally solo super-characters. They are protagonists in their stories, and they don't need anybody's help dicing their way through the opposition. Putting them in a setting constructed along D&D premises, battling alongside, say, a Paladin, a Warlord, and a Wizard, seems very, very odd to me.
2. See my response to the quote-block above this one. The concept is half-way between Rogue and Ranger, and making a new class that splits the difference makes me uncomfortable.
3. Crazy ki powers appear to come standard with the Martial power source. I've said that for a while now, and the Paragon Paths excerpt seems to confirm it. With that in mind, the Monk and this concept don't seem much closer together than, say, Rogue and Ranger.
Great Class! It's like a rouge fighter mix, and its pretty good.
I've personally always loved characters like this. However several of previous posters are right in that as it stands now this character is for all intents and purposes a rogue and it might be easier to instead make a couple feats that give some of the class abilities and add the powers to the rogue list, maybe even make a paragon path to expand it further.

One of the things that has me really excited about 4e though is that supposedly the class creation guidelines will mean that all custom classes will fall generally within the same ballpark as far as power is concerned, if the rules are followed correctly anyway. So although that at the moment this class would be better served as say a rogue build option, doesn't mean that it should necessarily be left as that. I think he just needs to find a way to increase the damage without relying on the rogues catching you unawares or targeting vital points trick. Perhaps instead it could be that the extra damage comes from the swordmaster's perfection of strike. His intense training, focus and concentration allow him to get more out of each hit that other warriors because the angle, follow through, ect. is just right.

Thinking of a mostly Diamond mind swordsage with a few setting sun and tiger claw maneuvers is the way to go for this class. You might also want to look at some of the lightsaber forms from star wars to give you a few more ideas about build options and fighting styles. For example Kenshin certainly has a form 4: Atura and tiger claw feel with all his acrobatics and jump attacks.
Just to give an example of what I meant. Instead of stacking up extra dice of damage from combat advantage like the rogue we could have it come directly from his weapon. The two best ways I can see to handle that are:

1) Have the Swordmaster's weapon deal damage as if it was one size category larger. So the longsword would go from a d8 to 2d6.

2) Allow the Swordmaster to add both his dex and str mod to damage done with his sword.
Ok, added a few changes. This class is similar to the rogue primarily due to limited knowledge of how to make another martial striker. It will be easier to differentiate the class from the rogue more with the addition of new powers when the complete rules arrive.

To move the class away from its rogueish inspiration I changed how it gains bonus damage by giving it deadly strike in place of sudden strike. I also gave it proficiency with the scimitar. I want to try and avoid MAD so I'm not sure if I will have strength adding to damage. I want damage to come from skill with the blade and felt dexterity would be appropriate to this end. As for increasing damage in other ways maybe in a paragon path the weapons damage die can increase (I'm fond of rolling 2d6 for damage but sadly 1d8 goes to 1d10 in 4e) or all attacks with swords gain the high crit property.

p.s.

Deadly Strike
Once per round, you may treat a melee hit with a light blade as a critical hit.
Deadly Strike
Once per round, you may treat a melee hit with a light blade as a critical hit.

Hi Lawolf,

This is WAAAAY too strong and totally blows away the bonus damage features of other striker classes.

A 1st level Rogue wielding a short sword who gains combat advantage can dish out 10.5 + ability mod damage on average, with a +3 bonus to hit. If he has taken the Backstabber feat, this jumps to 12.5 + ability mod damage. The Rogue must be flanking or otherwise gain combat advantage to deal this damage.

A 1st level Swordmaster wielding a 1d8 high-crit sword (which I'm sure both rapiers and scimitars are) can dish out 12.5 + ability mod damage on average, with up to a +4 bonus to hit (as with a rapier). If he is wielding a d10 high-crit sword (possibly the katana?), this jumps to 15.5 + ability mod damage.

Unlike the Rogue, he does not need combat advantage to use this ability (so it is effectively at-will) and, unlike the Ranger or Warlock, the ability does not cost a minor action to use. The only way for the Rogue to catch up with the Swordmaster is if the Rogue is using a rapier, has taken the Backstabber feat, and has taken the brutal scoundrel tactic (in other words, a DPR-optimized Rogue is equivalent to a non-optimized Swordmaster). It would cost the Rogue two feats just to catch up and the Swordmaster will still have a +1 bonus to hit over him.

Furthermore, a diamond mind Swordmaster has a higher AC than such a Rogue (although an artful dodger Rogue has more AC vs opportunity attacks but trails far behind in DPR), can shift as a minor action, and can move 1 more square than a Rogue of the same race.

I'm sorry, but I do not see this class as balanced against other strikers at all.

Laterz.
1. Such characters are generally solo super-characters. They are protagonists in their stories, and they don't need anybody's help dicing their way through the opposition. Putting them in a setting constructed along D&D premises, battling alongside, say, a Paladin, a Warlord, and a Wizard, seems very, very odd to me.

I don't think it would be any odder than any other class. Honestly, most of the iconic examples of D&D classes in film and literature are solo super-characters. Beowulf, Lancelot, Merlin... D&D takes these heroic archetypes and transforms them into a team game (no doubt in imitation of that great exception to the "solo hero" rule, The Lord of the Rings).

2. See my response to the quote-block above this one. The concept is half-way between Rogue and Ranger, and making a new class that splits the difference makes me uncomfortable.

I really don't see Samurai Jack as either roguish or rangerish. Haven't seen much of the ranger, though, so judgment may be premature.

3. Crazy ki powers appear to come standard with the Martial power source. I've said that for a while now, and the Paragon Paths excerpt seems to confirm it. With that in mind, the Monk and this concept don't seem much closer together than, say, Rogue and Ranger.

If I understand you right, I must again disagree. Jack is basically a D&D monk with a sword. Or are you saying that the monk is now obsolete?
The concept is nice but I feel it is still very rough. I think you are looking at strikers as high-damage dealers, when, IMO, that's not what they are about at all. To me, and I think this is the intention of WotC, strikers are about mobility. There is a reason that the ranger and warlock that we have seen both get +3 to AC when they move at least 3 squares in a round (sorry if those numbers are off). So I like the shift as a minor action, though I'm not sure how balanced that is. I THINK that it's probably balanced, but we'll see on June 6th. However, I think that Deadly Strike is terribly overpowered. I could see it as an encounter feature, but at will critical seems like it would steal thunder from every other character in the party and spoil the thrill of critical hits for that character. I don't know if it would work at a per/encounter level, but I think it would be much more balanced that way. As for key abilities I feel like Strength should be a secondary. I feel like Primary Dex with Secondary Str + (mental ability) would fit better, but that's mostly opinion and speculation on the ranger.

I like the idea a lot, I just want to see it adapted after the books come out and we can get a better feel as to whether or not it is sub-par/overpowered/etc.
Hi Lawolf,

This is WAAAAY too strong and totally blows away the bonus damage features of other striker classes.

I realize this power has the potential to make for some wonky damage rolls, and doesn't require combat advantage, but I made a chart to determine the damage output for both a rogue and this class. A brutal scoundrel rogue (16 strength) with the backstabber feat gets an average of 12 bonus damage each round. Assuming that the swordmasters weapons all do 1d8 (I doubt katana will do 1d10 but who knows), the swordmaster has a non high crit weapon they get 3.5 bonus damage per round, this jumps up to 8 if they have a high crit weapon. Now the sword master gets better bonus to damage when using 2x and 3x weapon damage abilities, 11.5 and 14 respectively. They are still lacking on bonus damage with their at will attacks though. This pattern is pretty consistent at all levels. At level 21 the brutal scoundrel rogue gets 24.5 bonus damage. The swordmasters 2[W] high crit at wills do 20.5 bonus damage. The 3[W] high crit attacks do 24 bonus damage.

Now I know the base damage of a swordmaster's attacks will be higher do to using a d8 weapon vs a d4 or d6 one, but he loses out on AC except when diamond mind), ranged attacks, and some skill training.

Although the swordmaster doesn't need combat advantage, the rogue has many ways of gaining this on an opponent. There is a feat for paragon tier that gives you combat advantage on all enemies with a lower initiative for example. Also, as I pointed out earlier, the damage optimized swordmasters at will attacks will still do less damage than a damage optimized rogue.

Edit: This is not to say I am not still looking for other methods of increasing damage, modifying this ability, or otherwise changing it. Also, if 4[W] or even 5[W] damage abilities come out, then balance issues will surely need to be addressed. Perhaps not allowing the high crit property to work with deadly strike unless the swordmaster takes a feat or requiring combat advantage unless you take a feat.

Swordmaster Damage bonus (1d8 weapon)<br /> Attack 1-10 11-20 21-30<br /> 1[W] +3.5 +3.5 +3.5<br /> 1[W]HC +8 +12.5 +17<br /> 2[W] +7 +7 +7<br /> 2[W]HC +11.5 +16 +20.5<br /> 3[W] +10.5 +10.5 +10.5<br /> 3[W]HC +14 +19.5 +24<br /> <br /> Brutal Scoundrel Rogue Damage Bonus (16 str)<br /> 1-10 11-20 21-30<br /> No feat +10 +13.5 +20.5<br /> Feat +12 +16.5 +25.5

I feel like your math here is too theoretical. You are talking about the average roll of variable dice vs a static number. I definitely think that actual damage is a better statistic to look at here. A swordmaster with a katana (assuming the following is correct), that does 1d10 with high crit, and a dex of 18 would do 24 damage. Garuanteed. A rogue with a shortsword, with sneak attack and an 18 dex, would do an average of 14.5 damage. Even with max rolls the rogue still only does 22. The problem is this creates a situation that is easily taken advatage of. I think a more balanced Deadly Strike would be if they could add +d4 to any successful melee attack with a light blade, or even a static bonus of +2 damage with lightblades. I feel like this would be more balanced because you can't abuse high crit with it, and it's small enough that it's frequency (which would be dramatically higher than the sneak attack) would not make it overpowered. Also, this would allow it to be used multiple times during a round. If the Swordmaster had some sort of passing attack it would come up twice, and it would also apply to basic attacks for Opportunity attacks or Warlord inspired attacks. Maybe it's just my take on your idea, but I feel like a swordmaster should be more about precision attack and less about precision damage. Increasing hit frequency can have a similar effect towards damage output that increasing damage has. This might also give it a more distinct Swordmaster feel and less of a "I'm a rogue with a Longsword" feel that it sounds like it might be giving off.

On a side note I think they should also have proficiency with greatswords (and bastard swords?), but not be able to treat them as light blades (at least not until paragon level).




I only critique because I love.
A large longsword will only deal 1d10 damage in 4e? eh oh well, just up it's die type by two then, so d8 becomes d12. If that's a problem then you could always fall back to the dex +str mod on weapon damage. I know you said you wanted to fight mad, but really it's not affecting it to much. I mean so he buys a 14 sstr instead of a 12 or a 10. Not really a big deal to me.

Both mobility and damage are important parts of a striker. With the reaction avoid powers the class gets and the fact that it is not weighed down by heavy armor means that it does have decent mobility, a few more mobility powers wouldn't hurt though. You may even want to consider giving the swordmaster a bonus to speed, nothing to high maybe just a single square. You don't want to give it to much or else you'll have crazy fast Eladrin swordmasters charging across the battle field in a single round.

Granting auto crits for every successful attack is not the way to go, perhaps granting bonuses to crits and/or having every blade the swordmaster wields treated as a high crit weapon might be a decent way to handle that. A stright damage bonus to lightblades might be good too, although you may want to give it more than +2. that's basically the power of a racial feat not a class ability.
I don't think it would be any odder than any other class. Honestly, most of the iconic examples of D&D classes in film and literature are solo super-characters. Beowulf, Lancelot, Merlin... D&D takes these heroic archetypes and transforms them into a team game (no doubt in imitation of that great exception to the "solo hero" rule, The Lord of the Rings).

Those characters did accomplish a lot of great things on their own, yes. But there are many examples of such characters in literature working together with their peers. Samurai Jack and his ilk never existed as an archetype until extremely recently, when popular entertainment took ideas from Japanese duelist techniques and applied them to bigger conflicts, despite how it really doesn't work that well, and had a single swordsman slashing through scores of enemies. They almost never work in teams. That is the point, as the Law of Inverse Ninja Effectiveness applies to them.

I really don't see Samurai Jack as either roguish or rangerish. Haven't seen much of the ranger, though, so judgment may be premature.

It's similar to the Ranger's melee component, as it is definitely more of a stand-and-fight style combatant than the Rogue seems to be, but with more of a precision style than the Ranger's two-weapon ferocity.

If I understand you right, I must again disagree. Jack is basically a D&D monk with a sword. Or are you saying that the monk is now obsolete?

Jack isn't exactly the sole or best representative of the archetype. You'd definitely have to trim off the Paragon Path and Epic Destiny before you started looking at basing a class of Jack.
You may even want to consider giving the swordmaster a bonus to speed, nothing to high maybe just a single square.

Already done:
Fleet Footed
While in cloth or no armor increase your speed by 1 and you may shift as a minor action.

Both things granted by this ability help mobility, but as someone mentioned, shifting as a minor action may be a little too powerful. We will have to wait until the full rules to know for sure.

It's similar to the Ranger's melee component, as it is definitely more of a stand-and-fight style combatant than the Rogue seems to be.

Actually we haven't seen much of the ranger's melee abilities but from what we have seen it possesses quite a bit of mobility. Look at the daily from the ranger's paragon path. However, while I feel that some rogue and ranger powers may be fitting, the armor, skills, and many other abilities these classes will possess do not fit the concept of the cloth armored oriental fighter.

Now a lot of people feel that deadly strike, with its free critical hit once per round is overpowered. I can see where you are all coming from, it does sound powerful. I was skeptical at first too. But number wise, a rogue will still be dishing out more damage than the swordmaster. (Unless a katana deals 1d10, is and is a high crit weapon, which seems excessive) *Note, from my experiences playing the rogue, I had no trouble getting combat advantage every round by shifting, moving, and using my at will power that allows me to move 2. Also the fact that any immobilized, or dazed enemy grants me combat advantage helps a bit too.

Anyway, to a possible fix to the critical problem is this:
Deadly Strike
Once per round you may have a melee hit with a light blade deal max weapon damage.

Improved Deadly Strike Feat
You deal an extra 1d4 damage with a successful deadly strike. This damage increases to 2d4 at level 11 and 3d4 at level 21.

Superior Deadly Strike Feat
You deal an extra 1d8 damage with a successful deadly strike. This damage increases to 2d8 at level 11 and 3d8 at level 21.

*To see how a rogue deals more damage look at table a number of posts above.
I do agree that there is a gap for that type of concept however
I think that a fix AC, free shift and spike damage with combat adventage is too much.
Especially since it function very much alike a rogue and that would make him definitely superior to a rogue of a same level.
speartly it is not too bad but together that is almost worth an exter feat/power.

phil
Edit: Gutted the class a bit to tone down power. Its easier to improve abilities that need improvement this way. As it stands now it shares a similar role to the rogue, but deals less damage, has less ac, has less skills, but has more mobility.

Edit2: New Idea for deadly strike; Once per round you may deal +[W] damage on a successful melee attack with a light blade. This damage increases to 2[W] at 11th level and 3[W] at 21st level.

Giving a bonus to attack sounds good but I am not sure if it would make for a viable striker for 2 reasons. One, the 4e designers want to keep characters relatively equal in terms of attack and defense bonuses, and two attack and damage scale differently.
I like this a lot better, but Deadly Strike still bother's me a little. It just doesn't sit right with me for some reason. Most likely it's just a difference of opinion.

I would make Deadly Strike more of a spike like certain other strikers, but an attack roll spike instead of a damage spike. Something like "Once per round when you have combat advantage you may add a +5 precision bonus to your attack roll" or maybe even something like Mobile Strike "In any turn in which you move at least 3 squares you get a +3 to attack rolls."

Heck, you could even give the swordmaster a Fighter type feature, like whenever someone adjacent to you makes an attack that does not include you as a target you get a free basic attack against them. Or whatever...

I just feel that a swordmaster who does a lot of damage but doesn't necessarily hit that often doesn't feel as "Masterful" as a swordmaster that hits all the time (or at least, more often than not).


I don't know... I'm mostly just throwing out suggestions of stuff that I think would be cool. Doesn't necessarily means that it fits your idea of what a swordmaster is.
Or instead of giving a bonus to attack or a bonus to damage you allow the swordmaster to make a basic melee attack against an opponent he has combat advantage against as a minor action once per turn. So he gets spikey damage from power+basic attack, but doesn't have the precision damage bonus of a rogue.
I kinda like that idea Wolfvyn, the trick is making it scale well. With a feat the rogue is doing 2d8 => 3d8 => 5d8 extra damage, with a few points extra if they are a brutal scoundrel rogue.
I kinda like that idea Wolfvyn, the trick is making it scale well. With a feat the rogue is doing 2d8 => 3d8 => 5d8 extra damage, with a few points extra if they are a brutal scoundrel rogue.

yes that is the difficult bit. Especially if you would like it to be portable.
I think there is only 2 options

Either we use +1W, +2W +3W (or +nD4, D6 with a feat)
That works fine up to d8 weapons so it is not really portable.
For 1W 2d8 vs 3d6;
For 2W 3d8 vs 4d6
For 3W 4d8 vs 5d6

Or we say that type of attack, you rely much more on precision (slice/thrust half-swording) So the damage of the weapons is D6 then it works like the rogue)

or use a damage bonus of the form 1d6. 2d6, 3d6

The thing as well is that i would not be surprise to see 2w being relatively common for regular two handed fighters.
And 2W at a d12/2d6….

Phil
Ps have a look at http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=1030428
This is just to have an idea of what it look like when we tie it up to the way the rogue is working and not really an alternative to Lawolf swordmaster.
Well let's go with the katana or a bastard sword as a 1d10 weapon as the base. so the damage on the basic attack for the swordmaster will be 1d10+dex mod. Let's say he has at least an 18. So his normal damage with a basic melee attack would be 1d10+4.

So the sword master is going to be doing an extra 5-14 damage ( not including 1/2 level bonus to damage) a round. I think we should balance the extra damage against the standard rogue without that feat, feats are basically extra power if you want to compete with a rogue with that feat then you should make a feat to bring him up to that level not make him that powerful as standard.

So a rogue without that feat will be doing an extra 2-12=>3-18=>5-30 points of damage a round. The swordmaster keeps up pretty well until epic. So at epic why not make it so that the swordmaster can make an extra melee attack as a minor action twice per round against an opponent he has combat advantage over?
A few key points here.

1. The katana: I'm pretty sure the designers are moving away from the katana = bastard sword mechanic of 3.x. Also, the consensus on the 3.x forums was that the katana was a 1d8/18-20 weapon with the feat to use 1 handed mechanic. As such I imagine the katana will most likely be 1d8, versatile, and either prof +3 or high crit (deal 1d8 more damage on a crit not 8 more damage). I could be wrong about this and we will have to actually see the weapon stats to know for sure, but It would make sense, especially if Bastard sword is 1d10, prof 2, versatile. This means that at most the swordmaster will be using d8 for its damage die.

2. Comparing to the rogue: For the majority of my statements I compare this class to a rogue built for damage. While I know not all rogues are built to optimize damage, I feel a damage optimized rogue is the closest comparison to this class. This class gives up utility the rogue has for extra damage essentially. The rogue can wear heavier armor, has ranged attack powers, has more skills from a broader list, and will most likely have utility powers to help deal with traps (this is only speculative on my part). So a damage optimized rogue with 14 str 14 cha and 18 dex can deal 1d6(shortsword)+2d8(sneak attack)+4(dex)+2(brutal scoundrel)+2(sly flourish) damage per round. thats 20.5 average damage.
The swordmaster can't come close right now. 1d8+4+1versatile +2 or3 from at will power= about 11-12 damage. This means 8 extra damage is needed to pull up even with the rogue.

3. An extra attack: I like this in theory but it runs into a number of problems. Its too much rolling for one thing. 4e is designed around simplifying 3.x and getting rid of unnecessary rolling, an extra attack and extra damage roll if it hits is just muddling things up. It also doesn't scale well. A basic attack for the swormaster won't do much as basic attacks are based on strength (unless there is a finesse feat we haven't seen yet ) and strength is not as important for the swordmaster (Kenshin anyone?). If you let them make an extra at will power the damage goes more in line with what is needed, but as the weapon improves (+5 weapon lets say) and other feats are taken to improve damage, the extra attack becomes too powerful. I feel a bonus to damage would thus be a better way to bring the swordmaster's damage up.

Unfortunately I do not have the complete rules, so I cannot determine what feats and powers the rogue, ranger, and fighter will have. As such we will need to wait for the complete rules to fully balance this class. Until then, the more comments, concerns, and criticism I can get the better. This class has undergone quite a few changes since first being posted, most for the better so keep it up.

Thanks everyone.
No offense meant, but consensus on the 3e forums about what the katana should have been doesn't really mean squat. You may be right, but I don't think it's as likely as you seem to believe. Anyway I don't really see the problem with giving them a extra attacks. It's not really to much rolling at all, it's just another d20 each round by the same player.

Given how he may be shifting a lot or using the reaction evasion powers, his minor actions are going to be premium. Meaning that he may not get the chance to use it to make a second attack every round. Plus it'll add much less rolling than the fighters AoOs and gaining a basic attack against anyone who shifts class power. But if the damage doesn't spike enough for you then perhaps we can add one of my two earlier suggestions on top of this. Either allow them to add dex and str mod to all melee damage rolls or have them deal damage as if their weapon was x size categories larger.

Comparing to the rogue is good, but only as a guide line. You are not making a rouge, you are making a third martial striker and one that is a bit more defenderish than the other two. He may not have the armor or the HP, but his evasion techs will make him a decent "off tank" to use an MMO term.
Maximizing hit die each round seems a little strong... but maybe not because it sorta replaces crit.. but still

anyway isnt the ac for this guy going to be horribly feeble?
Maybe another name altogether and use swordmaster as a paragon path?

Er... "Swordmaster" is an existing paragon path (Fighter, PHB). Sorry.

@fooligan: Striker. Low AC is pretty much given (unless DEX is a secondary stat).

Response to "SMs in the Media": There is no Advance in Fire Emblem.
Sigh why do people keep insisting on making an Japanese styled martial classes. Its all how you fluff, flavor and style existing classes.

For the most part a samurai, ninja and bushi would easily fall in to the fallowing classes.

Avenger, use a feudal lord or daimyo in place of a god.

Fighter, a samurai and other bushi would easily be a tempest or great weapon fighters. One of their paragon paths is named Kensei literally from Japanese as Sword Saint.

Warlord, think of the character Kambei in the movie the Seven Samuria.

Barbarian, think of the character Kikuchiyo (Toshirō Mifune) in the movie the Seven Samurai.

Ranger, keep in mind that the earliest weapon used by samurai was not swords but bows, and the two weapon build works just as much. Rangers would also make great ninjas too.

Paladin, again use a feudal lord or daimyo in place of a god.

Rogue, would be excellent ninjas.

For weapons

Great Sword = Ōtachi or Nodachi
Falchion = Ōtachi or Nodachi
Bastard Sword = Katana or Tachi
Long Sword = Chisakatana
Short Sword = Wakizashi
Dagger = Tanto
Spiked Chain = Kursaigama, Kusari-fundo, Kyoketsu shoge
Glaive = Naginata
Spear = Yari
Mace/club/morning star/ great club = Tetsubo or Kanabo
Fail = Nunchaku
Parring Dagger = Sai or Jutte
Battle Axe = Ono
Great Axe = Masakari
Spiked Gauntlet = Tekkō or Tekagi-shuko
Bow = Yumi
Halbred = Bishamon yari
Scythe = Tsuki Nari yari
Mordenkrad = Ōtsuchi
Sickle = Kama
Er... "Swordmaster" is an existing paragon path (Fighter, PHB). Sorry.

@fooligan: Striker. Low AC is pretty much given (unless DEX is a secondary stat).

Response to "SMs in the Media": There is no Advance in Fire Emblem.

Umm well, I can see the ac being... passable to good with the diamond defense power constantly being activated... But 14-15 ac is just entirely too low and I can't see the charisma version getting any higher then that.
Now its true that Striker Ac isnt the best thing in the world but for the love of mike look at the field. Most Strikers ac is somewhere between 16 and 18 at level one. The lower end being occupied by ranged strikers and being an option for barbarians who might value con benefits above higher AC, but they can still achieve an AC of 18. These guys can't even help themselves without killing class features, please add something in to compensate a little more. Or at least make their other defense really good or something.

I quite like the class other then that, but you can't rationalize that sort of AC on a melee guy. Especially while a lot of striker AC is comparable to defender AC In a lot of cases.
I'll start coming up with ideas to get the ball rolling.

-Also whats with the 2 wisdom class features not stacking? They essentially do the same thing. Doesn't seem right. I would expect You'd probably be using Diamond Defense every turn anyway.