Spellblade, Sorcerer Variant (3.5e Class)
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This is a by-the-book(s) Sorcerer build that uses the Battle Sorcerer variant and some alternate class features in order to make the Sorcerer into a sword wielder while still allowing for the knowledge of all spell levels. The ACFs limit the Sorcerer's spells per day and spells known. As a tradeoff they give bonus HP and a better BAB, as well as proficiency with a couple (player's choice) weapons and light armor. Finally, a few options are provided as class abilities, depending on your playstyle.
Feel free to use this as a base for making gish characters. The purpose of this page is to save a player time from checking each separate ACF's class modifications each time they level up by putting the finished product together.
Instead of "Sorcerer Variant - Battle Sorcerer with Alternate Class Features", from now on I will simply use the term Spellblade to refer to the class.
Making a Spellblade
A Spellblade has decent survivability and limited spellcasting.
Abilities: A Spellblade is dependent on multiple ability scores (MAD). First and foremost, you will need a high Charisma score for your spells. Your low BAB means you will appreciate a high Strength score for hitting - you can use spells to boost your damage. Dexterity opens up Ray spells and offers a good AC on starting levels (before you have enough Spells Known to learn defensive spells). Finally, Constitution is always important but thankfully you have a great HP pool.
Races: Recommended Human or Strongheart Halfling for the extra Feat.
Starting Gold: 3d4x10 gp (avg. 75 gold pieces).
Starting Age: Complex
|Saving Throws||Special||Spells per Day|
|1st||+0||+0||+0||+2||Stalwart Sorcerer, Caster Style||4||2||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
Class Skills (2 + Int modifier per level, ×4 at 1st level)
The spellblade's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (arcana) (Int), Profession (Wis) and Spellcraft (Int).
All of the following are class features of the spellblade.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: At 1st level, a spellblade gains proficiency with any light or one-handed martial weapon of the character's choice. They are also proficient with light armor and can cast spells in it without the normal arcane spell failure chance. They are not proficient with any shields. Medium and Heavy armor types interfere with a spellblade’s movements, which can cause their spells with somatic components to fail.
Stalwart Sorcerer: The spellblade receives the Martial Weapon Proficiency and Weapon Focus feats for a melee weapon of their choice. Additionally, you gain extra hit points equal to two times your spellblade class level. Every time you advance a level, you gain another 2 extra hit points. (So, at 1st level you have 2 extra hit points, at 2nd level you have 4 extra hit points, and so on). Requires investing at least 1 rank in Knowledge (arcana) to qualify.
Spells: A spellblade casts arcane spells which are drawn primarily from the sorcerer/wizard spell list. They can cast any spell they know without preparing it ahead of time, the way a wizard or a cleric must (see below).
To learn or cast a spell, a spellblade must have a Charisma score equal to at least 10 + the spell level. The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against a spellblade's spell is 10 + the spell level + the spellblade's Charisma modifier.
Like other spellcasters, a spellblade can cast only a certain number of spells of each spell level per day. Their base daily spell allotment is given on Table: The Sorcerer. In addition, they receive bonus spells per day if they have a high Charisma score.
A spellblade's selection of spells is extremely limited. A spellblade begins play knowing three 0-level spells and one 1st-level spell of your choice. At each new spellblade level, they gain one or more new spells, as indicated on Table: Spellblade Spells Known. (Unlike spells per day, the number of spells a spellblade knows is not affected by their Charisma score; the numbers on Table: spellblade Spells Known are fixed.) These new spells can be common spells chosen from the sorcerer/wizard spell list, or they can be unusual spells that the spellblade has gained some understanding of by study. The spellblade can't use this method of spell acquisition to learn spells at a faster rate, however.
Upon reaching 4th level, and at every even-numbered spellblade level after that (6th, 8th, and so on), a spellblade can choose to learn a new spell in place of one they already know. In effect, the spellblade "loses" the old spell in exchange for the new one. The new spell's level must be the same as that of the spell being exchanged, and it must be at least two levels lower than the highest-level spellblade spell the spellblade can cast. A spellblade may swap only a single spell at any given level, and must choose whether or not to swap the spell at the same time that they gain new spells known for the level.
Unlike a wizard or a cleric, a spellblade need not prepare his spells in advance. He can cast any spell they know at any time, assuming they have not yet used up their spells per day for that spell level. They do not have to decide ahead of time which spells they'll cast.
At 1st level the spellblade has already developed their peculiar style. You may choose one of the following class abilities: Beleaguered Spellcaster, Familiar, Focus Caster, Impromptu Metamagic, Spell Shield. Tips and information about each one in the end.
Beleaguered Spellcaster: Whenever you take an amount of damage equal to 3 times your spellcaster level from one attack, the next spell you cast is automatically maximized or extended (your choice) without increasing the spell level or casting time. You may use this ability a number of times per day equal to 1 + your charisma modifier.
Familiar: A spellblade can obtain a familiar. Doing so takes 24 hours and uses up magical materials that cost 100 gp. A familiar is a magical beast that resembles a small animal and is unusually tough and intelligent. The creature serves as a companion and servant.
The spellblade chooses the kind of familiar they get. As the spellblade advances in level, their familiar also increases in power.
If the familiar dies or is dismissed by the spellblade, the spellblade must attempt a DC 15 Fortitude saving throw. Failure means theylose 200 experience points per spellblade level; success reduces the loss to one-half that amount. However, a spellblade's experience point total can never go below 0 as the result of a familiar's demise or dismissal. A slain or dismissed familiar cannot be replaced for a year and day. A slain familiar can be raised from the dead just as a character can be, and it does not lose a level or a Constitution point when this happy event occurs.
A character with more than one class that grants a familiar may have only one familiar at a time.
Focus Caster: You bind yourself to a masterwork item that acts as a focus for all your spells and that enhances the power of spells of one school. Once you have a masterwork item to bind to, you must perform a ritual that requires 24 hours and reagents costing 100 gp, much as if you were summoning a familiar.
When casting any spell, you must hold, wield, or wear this item (as appropriate), in addition to providing the normal components of the spell (even other foci). Your focus item is used in addition to the spell's normal components, not instead of. You are automatically considered proficient with your focus item, but you do not gain proficiency with any other item (weapon or armor) of the same type. For example, if your focus item is a longsword, you are proficient with your focus longsword but not with any other longsword, unless of course another feat or class feature grants you proficiency. When you cast a spell from the school to which your focus belongs, that spell is enhanced. At 7th and 15th levels, your focus grants additional abilities.
You may have only one focus item at a time. Bonuses gained from a focus item stack with similar bonuses gained from feats such as Spell Focus or Spell Penetration.
Your focus item grows tougher as you advance in level. The hardness of your focus item increases by one-half your caster level, up to double its normal hardness. In addition, your focus item gains additional hit points equal to your caster level, up to double its normal number of hit points. These bonuses are in addition to any increase in hardness or hit points the item gains for being made into a magic item.
If your focus item can be enhanced with magic, it costs you less XP to do so. When determining your XP cost for making your focus item into a magic item (or for upgrading it later), reduce the base cost by 10%. This reduction stacks with any other reduction you might gain, such as from the Legendary Artisan feat. Another character enhancing your focus item does not gain this reduction in XP cost.
If your focus item is destroyed, you must bind yourself to another masterwork item. You cannot bind to an item that is already a magic item. You can only bind to masterwork items. The item can be made of special materials (such as adamantine, cold iron, or darkwood).
The following items are typical foci for each of the standard schools.
Abjuration: Usually a set of bracers, a buckler, or a small shield (wooden or steel), your focus grants any nonpersonal abjuration spell you cast with one or more targets one additional target. The additional target is affected by the spell for half the normal duration. At 7th level, the additional targets of your spells receive them for the full duration. At 15th level, you may cast any personal abjuration spell as a touch spell.
Conjuration: Usually a gnarled and twisted quarterstaff or other polearm, your focus increases the duration of any conjuration spell you cast by 1 round (including spells that require concentration). Spells that require concentration also continue for 1 extra round after you stop concentrating. At 7th level, the duration bonuses each increase by 2 rounds. At 15th level, the duration bonuses each increase by 3 rounds.
Divination: Usually a large crystal (loose or mounted on a rod or staff) or ornate holy symbol, your focus increases the caster level of any divination spell you cast by +1. At 7th level, the duration of any divination spell you cast doubles. At 15th level, you gain a bonus to resist divinations equal to 1 + your Intelligence modifier (minimum +1).
Enchantment: Usually an ornate and typically nonfunctional piece of clothing, such as a sash or a hair ribbon, your focus increases the duration of any enchantment spell you cast by 1 round (including spells that require concentration). Spells that require concentration also continue for 1 extra round after you stop concentrating. At 7th level, the duration bonuses each increase by 2 rounds. At 15th level, the DC of your enchantment spells increases by +2.
Evocation: Usually a bladed weapon, such as a longsword or dagger, your focus grants +1 point of damage to any evocation spell you cast. Non-area effect spells that allow multiple targets (such as magic missile) only deal the bonus damage to a single target of your choice. For example, a fireball spell cast by a 6th-level sorcerer with this focus deals 6d6+1 points of damage to all creatures caught within it, while a magic missile spell cast by the same sorcerer creates three missiles: two that deal 1d4+1 points of damage and one that deals 1d4+2 points of damage. At 7th level, evocation spells you cast ignore the first 5 points of any energy or elemental resistances that a creature may have. Immunities are not affected. At 15th level, you may, once per day, ignore a creature's immunity when you cast an evocation spell that affects it.
Illusion: Usually a mask, shroud, cloak, or similar concealing piece of clothing, your focus increases the caster level of illusion spells you cast by +1. At 7th level, for every illusion spell you cast you gain a bonus on caster level checks made to defeat spell resistance equal to half your caster level. At 15th level, you may cast any personal illusion spell as a touch spell.
Necromancy Usually a flail, kama, sickle, scythe, or other weapon derived from harvesting crops, your focus increases the range of any necromancy spell you cast by +25%. At 7th level, any necromancy spell you cast that deals ability damage, ability drain, or directly assigns a penally to an ability score deals +1 point of ability damage or ability drain or increases the penalty by an additional -1. For example, a 12th-level necromancer who casts ray of enfeeblement bestows a Strength penalty of 1d6+6 instead of the normal 1d6+5. At 15th level, any living creature affected by a necromancy spell you cast and fails the Fortitude save against it also becomes fatigued.
Transmutation: Usually a piece of equipment or set of tools used to create something (such as thieves' tools, a musical instrument, or artisan's tools), your focus grants any nonpersonal transmutation spell you cast with one or more targets one additional target. The additional target is affected by the spell for half the normal duration. At 7th level, the additional targets of your spells receive them for the full duration. At 15th level, once per day, a transmutation spell you cast that grants a bonus to ability scores doubles the bonus. For example, a bull's strength spell grants a +8 bonus to Strength instead of the normal +4.
Impromptu Metamagic: Each day, you may choose a metamagic feat you have. You can cast spells affected by that feat without increasing the spell level or casting time of the spells. You may not use any other metamagic feats that day. You may use this ability a number of times per day equal to 5 minus the level adjustment of the metamagic feat. (Thus, you may use Quicken Spell in this way once per day, while you could use Silent Spell four times per day.)
You may apply the metamagic feat spontaneously, as you cast the spell.
Even though this ability does not increase the spell's level, you must be able to cast spells of the level the spell would be if you applied the metamagic feat normally. For example, a quickened magic missile would normally require a 5th-level spell slot. With this ability you may cast a quickened magic missile as a 1st-level spell, but you must still be able to cast 5th-level spells.
Spell Shield (Sp): By achieving oneness with the magical energy from which you draw your power, you make it part of your life force. As an immediate action when you take damage from any source, you can attempt to sacrifice spell energy instead of losing hit points. Expend a spell slot as if you had cast a spell of that level. Then, make a Concentration check with a DC equal to 15 + the level of the sacrificed spell. If you succeed, you ignore an amount of damage equal to five times the level of the spell slot you gave up. If you fail, you still lose the spell, but the magical energy fails to negate any of the damage.
For example, Hennet finds himself in the way of a black dragon's breath. Although he succeeded on his saving throw, he is still going to take 22 points of acid damage. As a 7th-level sorcerer, Hennet can sacrifice a spell of up to 3rd level. He chooses a 3rd-level spell, so the DC of his Concentration check is 18. Hennet gets a result of 22 and magically negates 15 points of the acid damage, taking only 7 points.
You can attempt to deflect damage as often as you wish, but you can make only one attempt per round. If an attack's damage has multiple sources (such as that of a flaming sword, which deals both weapon damage and fire damage), you must choose which source to negate. If an attack must deal damage to have a secondary effect (such as poison from a snake's bite), negating all the damage also prevents the secondary effect.
As a spellblade, there are some things you should be aware of when starting off.
First off, you should invest in being able to cast in combat. Light armor means you will receive many hits. Invest in Concentration and pick the feat Combat Casting for an extra +4 on your concentration checks while Casting Defensively.
Second, you will find yourself very lacking in the spellcasting department. You learn your first 2nd-level spell when you reach class level 7. Make sure to pick your spells carefully depending on your playstyle. Good options include boosting your AC (e.g. Shield), improving mobility (e.g. Expeditious Retreat) picking strong damage spells (e.g. Shocking Grasp, Magic Missile) or spells that assist with weapon hits (e.g. True Strike, Blade of Blood[PHB2]). Do your own research depending on the material you have available and your character's feel.
Finally, you should be aware of the benefits and drawbacks of each Caster Style (which are essentially different ACFs that each take up the Familiar class ability slot).
Beleaguered Spellcaster offers an extremely strong offensive tool to use in combat. It stacks well with your high HP pool and a high Constitution score. When combined with high-potential damage spells (e.g. Combust[SC], 1d8/level damage as a touch attack), it can devastate an opponent. Combined with a healer, you can use this spell for insane damage output (e.g. Blade of Blood[PHB2] at starting levels).
Familiar grants you a partner in battle, as well as a couple nifty tricks (depending on your available material). Your familiar's HP pool is equal to half of yours. This means that, with your high HP pool, your familiar will not be easy to take down. Combined with Improved Evasion and high-mobility familiars like a Hawk, you will have a good battle companion. You can also ask any blacksmith to fashion armor for your familiar at an increased cost. Dealing damage with a familiar is practically impossible at lower levels, with one exception. The Deliver touch spells ability that your familiar gets at level 3 allows you to use them offensively. The catch is, you still need to cast the spell. You will still find times when this is a great option. Finally, there are many other tricks you can use. One example is the Bonded Familiar[PHB2] feat. It increases your and your familiar's chances of survival by a whole lot. Remember, losing a familiar can be punishing so keep an eye out.
Focus Caster is the generalist's option, granting you many small potential benefits. It is always a good option, albeit its power is limited because your spell list is limited. Regardless, you will find most of the benefits useful. Finally, it can help with shielding your weapon against sunder attempts.
Impromptu Metamagic is the late game option. It's a way to do Quickened spells as a Sorcerer, which are essential since you will find yourself in melee most of the time. You may also find Still spells useful as they will unlock two weapon fighting. Only choose this if you have specific plans for its use.
Spell Shield is a very strong defensive option even though its usefulness is reduced by the spellblade's reduced spell slots. Make sure to pump your Concentration at low levels. If you take this, it is recommended to drop Stalwart Sorcerer (Spell Shield is simply a better Stalwart Sorcerer. If you do this, be very careful to receive the correct spells known. It can be confusing). This, combined with good saves and AC, can make for a very hard-to-kill character.
Your survival abilities can be astonishing and your damage output can be made to decimate. But, you will find that you do not have an answer to every threat and obstacle. You need teammates to pull you out of bad situations and open up opportunities for you. Remember to stick to your guns and you will surely shine.
Battle Sorcerer - Unearthed Arcana, page 56
Beleaguered Spellcaster - Dragon Magazine #357
Focus Caster - Dragon Magazine #348
Impromptu Metamagic - Dragon Magazine #357
Spell Shield - Dungeonscape, page 13
Stalwart Sorcerer - Complete Mage, page 36