Happy New Year, and Happy 2020! I’ve been honored to have some fantastic publishing opportunities in 2019, which kept me away from this site for quite some time. I’m happy to say that I’ll be returning a bit more regularly to make posts and share more insights. But let’s talk about the release of Forged in Battle: Book of Nine Blades, inspired by my love of the D&D 3.5 supplement –Tome of Battle: Book of Nine Swords which featured combat maneuvers, new classes called marital adepts, and represented the twilight of 3rd Edition’s era before the transition to 4th Edition. As a namesake, I wanted to “forge” a new direction from the concept while still holding true to the roots of the inspiration with some personal flair. When 5th Edition released the Player’s Handbook, I saw and noticed right away the Battle Master Fighter archetype with explicit callbacks to the early concepts from Tome of Battle that were later adopted into several martial classes in 4th Edition D&D. But there were some differences from the older designs and mechanics, the introduction of Combat Superiority dice to act as tangible currency for the Fighter’s player while granting a substantial bonus to damage (and sometimes attack) rolls. The concept of Combat Superiority dice was playtested further in later Unearthed Arcana articles (which didn’t turn out great but were then redesigned in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything).
A little while later, the release of Xanathar’s Guide to Everything brought us the College of Swords Bard subclass and implemented bardic inspiration as the fuel for these combat tricks. While each of the Blade Flourishes offered three methods of use, they still felt underwhelming compared to the broader assortment of Battle Master Fighter options for maneuvers. For the record, there are 16 combat maneuvers available for the Battle Master Fighter or to anyone who takes the Martial Adept feat (if you allow feats in your games). When it came time to write and create Forged in Battle, I knew that I did not want to simply expand on the original canon and materials, I tried to approach it from a new direction and offer some fresh insights for combat maneuvers for 5th Edition.
This meant challenging the notions and limitations of the Combat Superiority dice along with the expanding on what made combat maneuvers unique but still reasonably balanced. For example, I incorporated a character level restriction to essentially act as a stop-gap for power levels, which allowed for the maneuver design to be much more ambitious than the offerings presented in the Player’s Handbook. As a callback to Tome of Battle, nine new martial disciplines with lore were crafted either as adaptations of previous disciplines or were brand new schools of martial prowess. After some readings on Fantasy Flight Games’ Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying Game, I was reinvigorated to tap back into an idea about Honor as an ability score BUT as a currency during duel encounters. I expand quite a bit more in the supplement about how the values of Honor can be implemented into existing and new campaigns, the meaning of the scores, and how its used in situations where duels take place.
You can purchase a copy of Forged in Battle: Mastery of Nine Blades on the DMsGuild here.
What can you expect to find in Forged in Battle?
Seven new subclasses utilize Superiority die and the new martial disciplines.
- Path of the Ravager – A barbarian path that hones their rage and martial prowess to perform death-defying stunts.
- Stalwart – A revised Battle Master Fighter archetype that presents additional utility and enhanced abilities. Become a standout.
- Way of the Artist – A monk tradition that admires and appreciates the inner beauty of combat maneuvers as an art form.
- Oath of the Crusade – A paladin oath that is passed down the generations as a tradition against adversity and pursuing one’s cause.
- Wildheart – A ranger archetype that blends nature’s ferocity with martial traditions.
- Shadow Blade – A rogue archetype that utilizes the element of surprise to perform crippling maneuvers.
- The Ancestral Spirit – A mighty warrior spirit becomes the warlock’s patron and uses them as a vessel until they meld to become a single entity.
There is the new Bladesage base class, a warrior who studies the Nine Disciplines to ascertain a facet of universal truth and become enlightened. The bladesage features two subclass options: the Path of the Sublime and the Path of Nobile Truth. A bladesage that embarks on the path of the sublime understands that the Nine Disciplines each possess a unique perspective of truth, and to unlock their mysteries, one must seek to understand them all. A bladesage that follows the path of the noble truth follows the path of only one discipline, seeing the world through the lens of one school’s philosophy.
There are also two new backgrounds: the Exile and the Disciple.
Most importantly, Forged in Battle features 75 combat maneuvers from nine martial disciplines with new origins, philosophies, and mechanics.
- Charnel Miasma – A discipline that embodies decay, poisons, and the inevitable ruin of all things.
- Emerald Hammer – A discipline that harnesses the destructive fury of lightning.
- Frost Veil – A discipline that channels ice to form illusions and glamours.
- Lion’s Roar – A discipline that expresses leadership and provides combat tactics.
- Mirror’s Edge – An enigmatic discipline that utilizes a foe’s attack back against them.
- Onyx Arrow – A discipline that focuses on ranged combat to perform the ideal kill shot.
- Serpent Flash – A discipline that uses elemental fire and grants mobility on the battlefield.
- Swan Song – A discipline that harnesses the opportunity from a foe’s death.
- Tempest Steel – A discipline that wields the wind and traverses into soaring heights.
As I stated previously, there are alternative rules for implementing an Honor ability score and using it as a metacurrency for Duels, plus magic weapon stats for each of the nine blades that embody the disciplines featured.
Forged in Battle is available in a digital PDF format and a hardcover print copy, you save 50% off the PDF if you purchase both.
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