Hello, and welcome to Best in Class. Today marks the beginning of Sword Week, the week devoted to the most iconic and popular of all fantasy weapons: the sword. Whether it’s the trusty longsword, the elegant rapier, the exotic scimitar, or the powerful greatsword (or any of a number of other excellent swords), swords are a cornerstone of fantasy. In fact, for some subgenres (such as Sword and Sorcery), it’s right there in the name, with top billing.
So, naturally, today I’ll be doing my best to give you some more sword-related options for your game. While fighter seems like the obvious choice here, they got their fair share of attention back in Abjuration week, so instead I’m going to focus on another class well-suited to the blade: paladins.
New Paladin Archetype:
Holy swordsmen are the ultimate in divine warriors. Honed and focused on the singular purpose of hunting down and destroying evil, they understand their place in the world: while others might serve as guardians or healers, it is their place to find evil and destroy it. They tend to live lives of constant questing, attempting to rid the world of evil one monster at a time.
Sword Training (Ex): At 2nd-level, a holy swordsman gains Weapon Focus as a bonus feat. The weapon she chooses to gain the bonus with must be from the following list: bastard sword, greatsword, falchion, longsword, rapier, scimitar, short sword, or zanbato (the zanbato can be found in Into the Armory, a free .pdf available for download on this site).
At 6th level, the holy swordsman’s training improves, and she gains Weapon Specialization as a bonus feat, even if she doesn’t meet the prerequisites. She must choose the same weapon for Weapon Specialization as she chose for Weapon Focus.
This ability replaces the divine grace class feature.
Blade of Justice (Su): At 3rd level, the holy swordsman learns to channel her divine fury through her weapon. This power can manifest in a number of ways, and the holy swordsman must choose which version of the ability to use when she uses it. At 3rd level, she knows one of the following uses of the blade of justice ability. At 6th level, and every three levels thereafter, the holy swordsman gains access to another of these abilities. A holy swordsman can use her blade of justice ability a total number of times per day equal to 1/2 her paladin level plus her Charisma modifier.
This ability replaces the lay on hands and mercy class features.
Banishing Strike: The holy swordsman’s blade pushes her foe back to the depths from which it came. As a standard action, the holy swordsman makes a single melee attack against an evil or chaotic creature with the extraplanar subtype. If the attack hits, the target must succeed on a Will save (DC 10 + the damage dealt + the holy swordsman’s Charisma modifier) or be banished to its plane of origin, as the spell banishment. Additionally, if the holy swordsman’s level is greater than the target’s CR, the target cannot leave its home plane until one month has passed. A holy swordsman must be at least 6th level to select this ability.
Blinding Blade: The holy swordsman points her sword at her foe and it flashes with a brilliant light, blinding him. As a standard action, the holy swordsman can force a single evil creature within 60 feet succeed on a Fortitude save (DC 10 + 1/2 the holy swordsman’s level + the holy swordsman’s Charisma modifier) or be blinded for 1d4 rounds. Non-evil creatures are not affected.
Deathstroke: The holy swordsman’s sword is wreathed in pure divine fury, delivering death to those wicked creatures who would evade it. As a standard action, the holy swordsman makes a single melee attack. If it hits, and the target has regeneration or fast healing, that ability ceases to function for the next 1d4 rounds.
Dispelling Strike: The holy swordsman uses her blade to not only slice through her foe, but to sever a magical curse created by that foe. As a standard action, the holy swordsman makes a single melee attack. If that attack hits, the holy swordsman deals damage as normal, and the target must succeed on a Will save (DC 10 + 1/2 the holy swordsman’s level + the holy swordsman’s Charisma modifier). If the target fails the save, then any creatures within 60 feet of the creature that are currently suffering from a curse or from a compulsion effect that were caused by a spell, spell-like ability, or supernatural ability of the target, are immediately freed of that effect. A holy swordsman must be at least 9th level to select this ability.
Guided Strike: The holy swordsman allows her faith to guide her hand, knowing that her blow will land true. As a full round action, the holy swordsman makes a single melee attack. She gains a bonus on the attack roll equal to her paladin level, and a bonus on the damage roll equal to her Charisma modifier.
Hold at Bay: The holy swordsman presents her blade as a warning to those who would oppose her, and its holy radiance drives them back. As a standard action, the holy swordsman prominently holds her weapon aloft. All hostile evil creatures within 30 feet must succeed on a Will save (DC 10 + 1/2 the holy swordsman’s level + the holy swordsman’s Charisma modifier) or else retreat to at least 30 feet away. Undead creatures suffer a -4 penalty on this saving throw. If the creatures have ranged attacks, they can still attack the holy swordsman, but they suffer a -2 penalty on any attack rolls made against the holy swordsman. This effect lasts for as long as the holy swordsman continues to display the sword (a standard action each round), and for 1d4 rounds thereafter.
Holy Strike: The holy swordsman’s blade is transformed into pure white holy energy, which plunges into the foe. As a standard action, the holy swordsman makes a single melee attack. If the attack hits, all damage it deals is holy damage, bypassing any damage reduction the target might possess. This ability requires two daily uses of the holy swordsman’s sword of justice ability, and a holy swordsman must be at least 9th level to select this ability.
Pierce Defenses: The holy swordsman’s blade cleaves through the magical defenses of her foe, its holy power shattering them. As a standard action, the holy swordsman makes a single melee attack. If the attack hits, the target loses any deflection or profane bonuses to its AC for 1d4 rounds. Additionally, if the target is evil, and has spell resistance, that spell resistance is halved for the same amount of time. A holy swordsman must be at least 6th level to select this ability.
Shatter Unholy Artifact: The holy swordsman channels all of her holy power into a single blow, designed to shatter objects of evil. As a standard action, the holy swordsman makes a special sunder attempt. She does not provoke attacks of opportunity for this attempt, even if she does not possess the Improved Sunder feat. Additionally, if the object being sundered is evil (for example, if it has an evil aura, or is enchanted by a spell with the evil descriptor, etc.), the holy swordsman ignores its hardness, and deals an additional 2 points of damage per paladin level.
Sword Bond: At 5th level, when the holy swordsman chooses her type of divine bond, she must choose the option that allows her to enhance her weapon.