Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Bloodstorm Blade

For those of you whom distrust the Tome of Battle, turn back now, for there is nothing here to assuage your skepticism.

The book was written to give more options to the sword-swinging mundanes of the D&D world, and with them a bit of a power boost. Some of the abilities on offer tread dangerously over the line between "powerful martial techniques" and "reality-bending nonsense that even magic would have trouble pulling off." While a lot of the most abusive combos in the system aren't exactly obvious and require a lot of book-diving to pull off, sometimes you get a real doozy that was somehow designed that way. Enter the bloodstorm blade, a prestige class based around throwing weapons. Not throwing "throwing weapons," mind you, but throwing melee weapons. I won't bore you with all the details, but if you read the following ability and don't immediately cackle at the possibilities, you ought to re-read it until you do.

Thunderous Throw (Ex): Beginning at 2nd level, you build up incredible tension as you ready yourself to throw your weapon, which becomes visible around you like heat waves. When you release your weapon, that power rushes out with your weapon. As a swift action, you can choose to treat your ranged attack rolls with thrown weapons as melee attacks for the rest of your turn. You use your melee attack bonus, including Strength bonus, feats, and so forth, to determine your attack bonus for each attack as normal, but you apply the standard modifiers for range penalties. Attacking into melee, through cover, and so forth incurs the standard penalties. In addition, you can apply 1-1/2 your Strength bonus to damage if you wield the thrown weapon with two hands, and you can use Power Attack with your thrown weapon attacks (adding two times the number subtracted from attack rolls as a bonus on damage rolls when throwing a two-handed weapon).

Putting aside the tryhard fluff for a moment, this lets you do anything with a thrown weapon that you can do with a melee weapon. Do note that the first level of bloodstorm blade gives you Throw Anything as a bonus feat, meaning you are able to huck axes and polearms to take advantage of this fact. Among your options available for thrown weapons, this can allow you to do any of the following:

  • Power Attack - it really should be easier to get this effect at range, but this is one of the few ways to do so.
  • Trip - throwing a glaive, spiked chain or other tripping weapon can consistently keep a foe from closing in on you. Presumably you don't provoke an attack of opportunity if you aren't within reach.
  • Disarm - as usual, not the best combat action around, but it's definitely stylish this way.
  • Sunder - sundering is usually inadvisable, but again, it's stylish and it makes good on that adamantine dagger you've got for hacking apart locked doors, chests and bars.
  • Spring Attack - only allows one attack, but being able to step out from behind cover, attack, then step back behind is much more abusable with ranged attacks.
  • Charge - I guess you add the momentum of your charge to the throw... nevermind that it still works if you charge away from a foe then throw backwards at them. This also opens up the door for Shock Trooper and other charge-contingent strategies.
  • Knockback - you can't bull rush a foe with a thrown weapon, normally, but the Knockback feat (which requires you to be large) gives you a free bull rush attempt whenever you Power Attack. Tack on Shock Trooper and some levels of fighter for Dungeoncrasher, and you can deal some pretty severe damage while you're at it. Get a form of flight and you can bull rush enemies from above, bouncing them off the ground like basketballs.
  • Use maneuvers - this will be a big sell for any martial adept who is only dipping Bloodstorm Blade. There are no ranged maneuvers, so being able to perform them from throwing distance can be a real boon for any initiators who don't want to close in.
  • Use a spell storing weapon - this one is particularly exciting to me. A spellcaster can't make a touch spell ranged without adding two levels to it via Reach Spell or giving up spell slots as an archmage. You can cast touch spells at range just by hurling your sword!
  • Grapple - wait, what? No joke, if you throw a mancatcher, pincer staff or sharktooth staff, you can start a grapple from a distance. The 1st level spell guided shot lets you ignore range increment penalties for one round, meaning you can make a perfect 50' pincer staff throw to grapple some unfortunate.
Now I'm all for securing more options for those poor melee classes, but this is a little ridiculous. Well... logistically, anyway. Functionally, it's about on par with a lot of level 1 debuffs, which might make things a little less exciting. Before you get too crestfallen, however, the Bloodstorm Blade is prepared to take things one very large step further:

Blade Storm (Ex): At 10th level, you can hurl your weapon as a full-round action to make it seem as if you are attacking a dozen foes at once. You become the center of a storm of steel as your thrown weapon flies out to strike a foe, returns to ricochet harmlessly off you, then flies out to attack another foe. You can make a ranged attack with a thrown weapon at your highest attack bonus against as many targets as you wish. You can attack each target just once with this attack, calculating range and cover penalties from your position on the battlefield.

Whoa. Suddenly that adamantine dagger can be used to destroy every book in a library, all in six seconds. You can "charge" eight different foes, each in a different direction, all in one turn. With just a single mancatcher... you can grapple every living thing within 50' at once. I'm having a hell of a time picturing that. Blade Storm gets extra messy if you combine it with the Knockback feat, sending entire legions of enemies skidding across the battlefield (and into each other, tripping both. Include Improved Trip and you can repeat the process!) The master thrower prestige class provides extra goodies for an aspiring bloodstorm blade, with such abilities as doubling your number of thrown weapons and making thrown weapon attacks into touch attacks. Work this all together and you'll have the best battlefield control a fightin'-man type could ever dream of, especially one that doesn't rely on attacks of opportunity.

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