Character: Thu’fir

 By Shamus Sep 10, 2005 45 comments
Name: Thu’fir
Race: Human
Class: Fighter (Special: Blade Lord)
Played By: Eric

Backstory:
Thu’fir is a Blade Lord, a special character class Eric and I came up with. He uses a special gigantic sword (think Final Fantasy) that is magical and gains power – by leveling up – through use. His sword is named Fai.

Special Characteristics of a Blade Lord:

  • The Blade Lord training is kept within a familty -outsiders are never trained.
  • As part of their training, students must learn to sprint, jump, and swim with their sword. The result is that the weight of the sword does not count against the character for encumbrance, jump, swim, or other movement rolls. In essence, the weight of the sword is “free”, or counted as part of the character’s own weight and not their gear.
  • The sword is difficult to use. Anyone who is not trained in its use takes a -10 penalty to hit.
  • A Blade Lord has forgone the usual fighter training in favor of the “Big Sword” (I still need a cool name for this sword type). The upshot is that a Blade Lord gets none of the normal fighter bonuese when using standard weapons. The big sword obviously can’t deal non-lethal damage, which makes knocking someone out problematic.
  • The sword levels up through kills. During combat, anyone struck by the sword is added to the sword’s kill total at the end of the battle (assuming they die), even if the sword did not deliver the killing blow. When enough kills are attained, the sword grows in power and its owner may select a new property from the list.

Magical properties of the sword (select one each time the sword levels up):
0 Rustproof: Immune to the effects of rust and rust monsters.
0 Will of the Master: If anyone (except Thufir or his decendants) attempts to swing the blade, they must make a DC 15 reflex save or be struck themselves.
0 Silver Edge: The edge of the blade is touched with silver.
0 Enchanted Grip: The weapon cannot be dropped or pulled unwillingly from the owner’s grasp.
0 Glowing Blade: When held, the blade glows as a standard torch.
0 Unbreakable: The blade cannot be broken by any mortal creature.
0 Razor Blade: +1 damage bonus. (Sword Level 4 required)
0 Guided Blade: The blade aids the user, giving a +1 attack bonus. (Sword Level 4 required)
0 Vorpal: Criticals will behead the enemy, which is usually instantly fatal. The enemy must have a head and it must be within reach for this to work. (Sword Level 5 required)
0 Flamebrand: The blade does an additional 1d4 fire damage. (Sword Level 5 required)
0 Sparkstrike: The blade does an additional 1d4 lightning damage. (Sword Level 5 required)
0 Improved Criticals: The critical threat of the weapon is 19-20. (Sword Level 6 required)
0 Guardian Blade: The blade will move to intercept incoming attacks, granting +1 AC. (Sword Level 8 required)
0 Stun Blade: Foes struck with this blade must make a DC 15 fotitude save or lose 1 standard action on their next turn. (Sword Level 10 required)
0 Mindbreak: Sword does 1 point of INT damage on striking. (Sword Level 13 required)

Sword Level Chart

LevelKillsLevelKills
210 9210
32510260
43511315
56012375
69013440
712514510
816515585

20205Feeling chatty? There are 45 comments.


  1. Mezz says:

    Not a bad concept, but it needs a bit more boundary. You could potentially have a low level character carting around an essentially epic weapon, simply by wandering around killing a few hundred things. Becoming a demigod by killing deer and squirrls is not a good thing, lol.

  2. Telas says:

    If it works, more power to you. Personally, I can’t stand most things Anime…

  3. Tirgaya says:

    I like the concept. I don’t care for the anime description of the blade, but whatever entertains. I do like the notion that the weapon should be very distinctive.

    The concept kind of fits in with the Weapons of Legacy book, but gives players a gradual founding rather than a single epic event. We could look to the Kensai or Weapon Master for balance cues as well.

    Kills is a fuzzy concept, and as pointed out rather abusable. How about replacing it with a crunchier one… worthy foes. Use the CR and ECL systems to determine if an opponent is a worthy foe. In single combat, an opponent with an ECL equal or exceeding that of the Blade Lord would meet the criteria. In party combat a foe with a CR equal to the party average is a worthy foe.

    Now there are some gray areas of these “rules.” In an encounter with several creatures you could have a CR that exceeds the party level by 3 or more readily yet have most of the opponents be “unworthy” challenges. In any such circumstances the ECL of any given opponent over rides the CR rule.

    As an example, an evil cleric (10th level) and his henchman (a 6th level blackguard) lead their company of 20 2nd level warriors against our 6th level party. This may be a very challenging encounter… but there are only two worthy foes represented.

    This means that you’d have to adjust the kills per weapon level a bit. If you want the class portable beyond your world, you’d have to cap its abilities at +10 equivalent, and you’ d probably want to stretch that over 15-20 character levels. I’d aim higher since it seems you are keeping all the class features of the fighter along with this extra power.

    I’d also throw in a disdain for other weapons, plus you may want to require additional feats or skills, such as Perform(Weapon Drill), that don’t really add to combat abilities but do add to the classes flavor.

    Its an interesting twist that can add character to a good concept. Now you have a fighter that rushes in to battle the most powerful enemies first… and disdains attacking weak opponents. “The wizard can use his fireball on the troops, their master is MINE!”

  4. Shamus says:

    Actually, I do use CR as a guide when determining kills. Anything less than a “normal” encounter is worthless – not a kill. Any single creature, even if it out-classes him many times, is still only worth 1 kill.

    This eliminates the “go buy and kill 100 chickens” abuse.

  5. Greywolf says:

    There’s the obvious balance on the Guardian blade: If you’re fighting someone with the Blade and someone behind you has a crossbow bolt with your name on it, what’s the sword gonna attempt? The deflection of the blow in front of you or the bolt rushing your back?

  6. Secret Stars says:

    out of curiosity, what damage does the sword do?
    and is it a double or triple crit?

  7. Shamus says:

    Sword is a “great axe” in terms of weight, damage, and crit threat. (I don’t have those numbers here, but I know it does d12 damage.)

    • Maldeus says:

      Why not a great sword? In fact, wouldn’t a great sword theoretically be one of those Final Fantasy-sized weapons? A longsword, after all, is something like four feet long. A great sword would have to be even bigger, so I’m guessing something like six feet, which is about Buster Blade sized.

  8. Lorangriel says:

    vorpal after 60 kills? seems a little overpowered. Perhaps if you attach it to the character’s level instead of the sword’s? Is the sweord intelligent? empathic? does it have it’s own wants and needs?

  9. gedece says:

    There’s serious potential here to install a series of “schools”, some real schools, other families like in this case. They could favor different big weapons or all specialize in different bonusses for their big swords.

    There could be a sort of Highlander concept, and some of the trickier skills, would require that you actually face a member of other school in single combat (the kind of things sorcerors are said to do) and defeat them.

    One thing to note is that although the weapon gains great skills, is sort of a bonding process, so actually loosing the sword would not only mean startinga different sword from zero (and finding one, which is a quest in itself as is a unique type of weapon), it could also leave the character devastated.

  10. Rizzo says:

    My DM did the same thing with my bastard sword when I was playing a Cleric/DC of Helm. The sword had been forged from a piece of Helms sword that fell to earth while fighting Bane during the God Wars.

    Don’t remember the exact benefits of it, but it talked(and annoyed the hell out of us) from the beginning, and was super sweet by the time we finished(level 25 or so). The leveling up was accomplished by my character giving it xp out of his own xp pool, so it wasn’t overpowered. Also, I never knew how much xp would level it up, or what the next power would be.

    It was a damn cool idea, that’s for sure.

  11. Blindeye says:

    There actualy is a system for characters who level up and unlock the potential of a magical weapon in Unearthed Arcana, known as Scions. Check it out.

    Also, I think a cool name for a generic ‘big sword’ might be ‘Highblade’, ‘Lord’s Edge’ (based off the class name) or perhaps ‘Gigaklave’ (pronounced ‘gai-gah’).

    What do you think?

  12. Vortor says:

    I think they called them Buster swords in 7, and the swords in 8 were called Gunblades… Yeah.

    Lets see.. How is it harder to beat someone over the head with a giant sword than it is with a normal sized one? It still has a pummel on it, does it not? And it certainly has a flat of a blade, a very wide flat of a blade, infact… Don’t see any reason for it to be unable to deal non-lethal damage… Unless it has a Bloodthirsty quality, which converts all damage done to lethal damage, or some such.

  13. CyberGorth says:

    Vortor, the blade still has a flat and a pommel, but the sword is MEANT to be used to deal lethal damage. Most all swordsmanship training focuses on using it to deal lethal damage. Thus, in d20 rules, if you try to use a sword or any other lethal weapon to do subdual damage you get slapped with a -4 penalty to hit becuase, essentially, you’re trying to wield it in a way that you aren’t profficient in.

  14. Althanis says:

    Not proficient does not in any way, shape, or form imply “not able”. It is silly to think that something the size of a Final Fantasy blade could not be used “on the flat” to deal non-lethal damage. I really like the idea Rizzo mentioned of making the player give up XP to level up the sword. That makes it far less likely to be abused (as every abuser of the rules I’ve ever met would pull off their toenails with pliers before the do anything that will slow down their own leveling).

    • Korub1 says:

      I agree with you that it is totally possible to make that sword non-lethal, after all a sword that large has to be hard to handle, especially if it’s double-edged, ergo the sword must be single-edged. That means if you consider the sword a 1d12 weapon. You turn the sword around, and suddenly you have a 1d8 blunt weapon that could be used to deal non-lethal damage

  15. Nemo says:

    I would think the problem is the size itself. Sure, it has the width, but since this is a Final Fantasy sized sword, just the weight of it crashing down on your head would probably just crush your skull.

    • Korub1 says:

      you could strike for the non-lethal areas such as the legs so that you immobilize them versus killing them, and if you aimed for the shoulder they would be down for a few minutes unless they are trained to ignore pain.

  16. Porphyrogenitus says:

    -10 to other characters using the sword isn’t really a class limitation. Note most fighters concentrate on one type of weapon too so the “drawbacks” of the class aren’t as limiting as they might seem to be. “A Big-Ass Sword” is actually a common trope among high-strength fighters (that +1 1/2 STR bonus to damage being a big draw). The leveling is too easy and gives too many bonuses compared to the “Weapons of Legacy” concept (which I actually don’t like, personally, because I think the drawbacks are *too* high – but this goes the other way, all gain and no pain. A happy medium would be good).

    “Blade lord training is kept within the family” – good drawback for a Prestige Class, perhaps, but not for a regular class, since it’s not really a drawback (one just creates a character with that background). Heck, even for a Prestige Class it’s, at best, a minor drawback (one just creates a character with the BL class in mind) – it would matter if it required a Specific Feat (“Blade Lord Background – character is decended from a clan of Blade Lords, and is allowed to take the Blade Lorde Prestige Class. Feat can only be taken during Character creation”) – that’s a real limitation because it costs a Feat slot.

    “Big Sword” reminds me of “Dave” from KoDT with his Hackmaster +12. :P

  17. Ghede says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but is the character’s name taken from Dune?

  18. jlmdragon says:

    what a cool class concept, i’ll have to add a similar idea some my next campaine, not just with swords though, and even somthing for magic classes

  19. Rune says:

    I’m using something like this idea in one of my campaigns. First off it’s an indvidual weapon, so not exactly the same thing were talkin about here, BUT…

    The concept is simple: the sword must kill a worthy aponent. Kill, as in drop below -10. The sword then sucks the soul into the blade and forces it to help the barer. Thus the sword gains a power, usualy something the creature killed had in life. If the sword deams the oponent unworthy the soul is released into the afterlife,usualy if the creature was of higher CR than the character had levels, OR if the fight was unchalenging. The power gained is arbitrated by the DM. Yea it’s more work on the DM’s part, but it garantees game balence.

    On the plus side the abilities it can gain are truely unlimited, and under the complete controll of the DM. Also theres always fun with relatives coming wanting to release a soul from the blade or with the fact that the Blade also tends to take on the characteristics of those it kills. Sure you killed the great Ogre, but now he’s taunting you for the rest of the game.

    As for not leting other people weild it: The souls in the blade will only be weilded by the person who bested them, thus anyone but the bearer must make an ego check vs (10 + the largest cr +1 for each other soul in the blade)to wield the blade

    I like the “Highlander” concept with oposing schools… maby theres oposing weapons… ooooooh!

  20. I like the idea! If someone would try to abuse it you could just take the sword away! You don’t let newbies go around playing with veteran house rules!

  21. Didub says:

    I think it should level up based on how much HD of creatures it defeats. Then lvling up via squirrels won’t happen often ;)

  22. Hal says:

    Bah, Shamus I have to agree with the guy who declared that the Vorpal quality is too powerful for its level.

    I threw in an NPC with my guys who took this class, and his “Celestial Blade” has the vorpal quality, among others. I let my guys run the NPCs during combat, and in our last game session, two of the major encounters were cut short when they just critted with the vorpal and cut the encounters heads off.

    Agh! It is quite disappointing when you spend so many hours preparing encounters and they blow through them in 5 minutes.

  23. Kufeas says:

    The Bladelord reminds me quite a bit of a special class I found once, called Soulsword, unlike most classes, this class was taken by a special weapon, the weapon, when first held, appears as a small black stone, about the size of a sling bullet (though it cannot be fired from a sling).

    The sword (the class is Soulsword, but it could be anything, scythe, bow, crossbow, kukri, longsword, katana, whatever).

    Anyway, the sword recieves half of the character’s XP (the character gains full xp, the sword just gains half of it, the sword does not count toward the group’s xp), and as it levels up, you look at the DM’s guide and it gains enhancement bonuses, like a +1 to hit/dmg or having holy avenger. The sword and you speak to one another telepathically, and the sword should be considered an NPC, but one who serves the PC quite willingly and gives advice if the player is stuck.

    I unfortunatelly, was stuck DM’ing someone who had this sword (I stuck him in encounters that would be much too strong for someone his level (at lvl 10 he took on the tarrasque, though instead of having to cast a wish, i gave the bastard the diehard feat and told him to bring it to -50hp), because at those levels, the sword really does get THAT powerful if advanced right (he made it into a scythe, gave it keen, and too improved critical with it and also gave it a crit bonus (twice), so crit of 20×6 crit, 20% chance of crit threat in other words.

    So naturally he was often left alone without the aid of a healer, healing potions, and up against seemingly impossible odds, and with a railroading dm like myself who enjoyed using disarm against him (i let the Tarasque disarm him, he got very angry when he had to give up a move action to pick up his sword, after that fight the first thing he did was get a locked gauntlet).

    Just saying, thought I’d put it out there, incase anyone reads this. You actually have all the stats for the class now, +1 enhancement level per level, 1/2 xp, and thats it.

  24. mingus says:

    This sword reminds me of Stormbringer. It would be interesting to try this with a sword that had to be fed kills with a certain frequency to prevent it from turning on the Blade Lord as its next victim. As the Blade Lord rose in levels, worthy opponents would be harder to find, and the sword would become more and more a liability and potential enemy.

  25. Hmott says:

    I think an entire campaign world with these guys would be cool, using Rizzo’s and Kufeas’s modifications. Of course, you’d have to adapt it so that spellcasters would get Staffs or something instead of swords.

  26. goatofplastic says:

    That character reminds me of an old fantasy series published in Dragon in which one of the character had a sword (called a godsword) would prevent him from dying except in honorable combat.

    Since it’s a specific sword grants particulars powers to a precise character, why not call it a totemsword? Since every Blade Lord have only one, each sword is pretty much like a personal totem….

  27. Russell Eldrin says:

    This is an awesome concept, mind If I use it? Also, some names, thiers Flameburges (Same size of weapon really) Zanpakto’s (Weapons from the anime bleach, same idea about swords getting stronger over time) or just add a name to the front of the weapon for each clan, the warden clan has Wardblades, the Duleg clan uses Duleg blades etc.

  28. henrebotha says:

    Thufir Hawat is a badass.

    Just saying.

  29. Pyroclasm says:

    Cool idea, reminds me of a similar class called ‘Bladebound’ we once came up with a few friends back when we played D&D. Bladebound was essentially a southern bodyguard, who had two weapons, be they swords, sickles, axes or whatever, bound into his forearms by chains through dark sorceries, a bit like Kratos’ swords in God of War. The Bladebound’s weapons would gain experience on their own, something similar to your system (a high level Bladebound’s weapons could, for example, shriek loudly, deafening foes they struck, or burst in flames at will, finally gaining a sort of symbiotic consciousness with the bearer).

  30. Esa says:

    It should be noted that oversized weapons make much more sense in a world where a fighter can be expected to fight larger (huge, gargantuan, colossal) foes, instead of just humans.

    As for kills, a simple fix would be to make kills of CR less than 1/2 not count for this purpose. 20 CR 1/2 kills equals 6000 XP, or 1500 XP on a 4 person party. Basically, as long as you kill anything with appreciable CR, and since the player has to be the one making the killing blow – I don’t see how this can really be abused.

  31. It remembers me of a class I created once. It was called Blade Dancer and every level granted the PC with a Dance Step, which was researched by the character or learned from another Dancer (works like wizards learning spells). The PC only received the abilities if it was using his/her special weapons, which are intelligent and bonded to the character (it gets part of the character’s soul, so it’s the same stats, wishes, etc). These weapons receive special supernatural abilities based on PC’s Blade Dancer level. As it evolves, the PC could talk telepathically to the weapon, turn it into immaterial form (and move it mentally while “smoke”, as we called), determine the weapons’ direction and distance, and call it instantly to the PC’s hand (in immaterial form) if the weapon is within a 3 meters radius. Finally, the weapon becomes “Unbreakable”.
    Well, the player that first played this Blade Dancer took some levels at the Kensai prestige class and then it became a killing machine (as the two Blade Dancer’s weapons count as a single one and the Kensai receives bonus powers in his “signature sword”). Luckily, the player knew how to moderate his power.

  32. Trae says:

    I have to admit that I like most of these ideas about special weapons. I have a like of large swords such as these with their own names and powers. I’ve even joined a forum game based around the Weapons of Legacy.

  33. Jack says:

    I once made a character that carried a ridiculously sized sword using just 3.5 rules somewhat accidentally. He started as a rogue/fighter with a great sword. I got the feat Money Grip to have a free hand (for the feat defensive stance later). Then the party killed some large creature (ogre or something maybe?) and we get a Large +3 Keen Great Sword! A medium creature can use a large weapon two-handed if it would be a one-handed medium.

    So, medium character wielding a large two-handed weapon with monkey grip. Pretty close to final fantasy. But to make things worse, i had gotten the DM to let me take weapon finesse with the great sword (because i was a rogue at first level). And i also became a thief acrobat so all of the running, jumping, climbing, swimming stuff came into play too. throw in a hewerdy’s handy haversack and a bag of holding, and he was never more then lightly loaded.

  34. Jordan says:

    Buster blade. That’s what The “big sword” cloud uses in Final Fantasy. If someone else posted something around this line already, i just didn’t have time to read all the comments right now. what do you think?

    On a side note, I’m thinking about playing D&D, but can never find anyone who would play, or even thinks it can be fun. Anyone got any suggestions for finding a group?

  35. dunereader says:

    Is he named after the Dune Character Thufir Hawat? I once had a thief in Harnmaster who was just named Hawat, small world

  36. Doradan says:

    I was looking through the old 3.0 equiptment guide, and I found a sword called a fullblade. Its essentially a bastard sword made for a large character – you need proficiency to just pick it up.

  37. GORTOG, SUPREME NIGHT MANAGER OF THE UNDERWORLD says:

    I like it. Can I use it? I’d personally make it so that you can only level up the sword from kills that net you XP, and that its level can’t be higher than the owner’s level, just as failsafes. Maybe also that its passive abilities are always in effect, but it requires some sort of cost to use its ‘active’ capabilities, like maybe it needs to recharge once spent, or it has an XP cost, or a spell slot- type system.
    Rustproof- passive
    will of the master- passive
    silver edge- passive
    enchanted grip- active
    glowing blade- active
    unbreakable- passive
    razor blade- passive
    guided blade- active
    vorpal- active?(don’t know the mechanics of vorpal swords, but it seems like an active ability to me)
    flamebrand- active
    sparkstrike-active
    improved crit- active? (depends on whether through enchantments or better blade)
    Guardian blade- active
    Stun Blade- active
    Mindbreak- active

  38. Venalitor says:

    when I think big blade I think of Gattsu’s sword from “Berserk”, Dragon Slayer (this is the one he gets after the animated series) I think it was called.

  39. RCN says:

    Wow, this will be ancient, but here goes nothing:

    Except for the VORPAL power, I don’t really have anything against the powers of the blade. Even the VORPAL one could easily be fixed by turning it into the 15th level power.

    The limitations are on the lower side. I’d say limit armor, but limiting armor is a bogus setback. The popularity of Barbarians are a clear testament to that.

    If I were to implement this class in my group of Pathfinder, I’d at least impose some sort of limit to the use of the sword in battle in the same manner as the Barbarian Rage and the Bardic Performance, as per Pathfinder Rules.

  40. Lilly says:

    A big sword would, actually, make it easier to inflict non-lethal damage, due to the size and wait allowing you to smash people with the flat of the blade. Also, you could balance the levelling by making it not level if you kill critters or monsters more than 3 levels below you.

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