Spellblade class

Cropped image from Dark Classics

I was recently browsing the Pathfinder Ultimate Magic book. Inspired by the magus class, I decided to create a magic-user that primarily delivered spells through a weapon. The result is this class, which should be useable with OD&D, B/X, and various simulacra.

Spellblades use magic to enhance their attacks. In fact, they may only cast spells through their weapon during combat, which they use as a magical focus. Spells must be prepared beforehand, just as for a magic-user. This preparation involves complicated weapon forms that partake of arcane geometries.

Class details:

  • Attack as cleric
  • Hit dice as cleric
  • Armor competency: medium/chain
  • Weapons as fighter
  • Level advancement as fighter
  • Saving throws as fighter
  • Spell progression as elf or magic-user spells (to 5th spell level)
  • Missile attacks as zero level human
All “strike” spells may only be cast as part of an attack. Standard melee attack and casting are all part of one action for a spellblade. Single target strikes are not expended on a miss, but area-effect strikes are. If no save is specified, then effects occur on a hit. All “stance” spells last for the duration of one combat, and may be cast as part of any attack. Any area effects from stance spells are centered on the caster and move with her. No more than one stance may be active at a given time. In general, all spell durations last no longer than one exploration turn (for example, servitors raised by reanimating strike crumble to dust after combat). Spellblades must deliver their spells via melee weapons. There are legends of other traditions, such as spellarrows, but these are unsubstantiated. If true, spellarrows would certainly have a different set of spells.
First level spellblades begin with three spells, and gain one new spell per level. All such spells are determined randomly (re-roll duplicates). Spellblades cannot use scrolls or create magic items. As magics, rather than heroics, are the primary virtues of the spellblade, their weapons are not good candidates for enchantment. Additional spells may be learned only from other spellblades or found in ancient manuals during the course of adventure. Learning a new spell takes one week per spell level, and if taught rarely comes without cost (1000 GP per level of technique is a reasonable guideline).
The major limitation of the spellblade compared to the standard magic-user, other than the lack of utility spells, is the requirement to be in the thick of the battle, as spells are cast using melee attacks. Even ranged spells, such as lightning strike, require a proximate melee target. If such is not available, the spell energy will rebound to the spellblade, causing a backfire. Stances may be used outside of combat, but require the spellblade to go through an arcane weapon form to manifest the effect, which lasts no longer than 10 minutes.

Spells are as follows:

First level
  1. Burning fan strike (all within 15′ cone save or take 1d6 fire damage)
  2. Corrosive strike (+1d6 acid damage)
  3. Nod strike (target must save versus magic or fall into enchanted slumber)
  4. Arcane strike (+1d6 on attack roll, strike considered as a magic weapon)
  5. Abjuration stance (as protection from evil)
  6. Shielding stance (+4 AC, may terminate to absorb 1 offensive damage spell)
  7. Defensive stance (next 1d6+1 damage during current combat is cancelled)
  8. Obfuscating stance (raise an obscuring fog, 10′ radius per level)
Second level
  1. Paralytic strike (humanoid target paralyzed)
  2. Blinding strike (target is blinded for 10 minutes per level of spellblade)
  3. Vampiric strike (+1d6 damage vs. living, recover same HP, target weakened)
  4. Searing strike (+1d6 damage, set alight if flammable, save ends fire damage) 
  5. Ward stance (2d6 damage resistance versus specified element, roll per attack)
  6. Strengthening stance (+1 to melee damage from great strength)
  7. True seeing stance (see the true form of creatures, including those invisible)
  8. Mirror image stance (1d3 decoys, determine target of hits against caster randomly)
Third level
  1. Flaming strike (1d6 fire damage/level, max 10d6, 20′ radius, caster is epicenter)
  2. Lightning strike (1d6 lightning damage/level, max 10d6, 120′ straight line)
  3. Disenchanting strike (as dispel magic)
  4. Freezing strike (+1d6 cold damage per round, immobile encased in ice, save ends)
  5. Cloud stance (flight)
  6. Neptune stance (water breathing and free movement underwater)
  7. Whirlwind stance (normal missiles are flung away by swirling winds)
  8. Counter stance (save versus magic to counter any spell; this ends the stance)
Fourth level
  1. Terror strike (all within 15′ cone save or flee)
  2. Blizzard strike (1d6 cold damage/level, max 10d6, 30′ cone)
  3. Ethereal strike (+1d6 damage, avoids armor, hits insubstantial creatures)
  4. Wasting strike (1d6 damage first round, 2d6 second, 3d6 third, etc)
  5. Fire shield stance (attackers must save or take 1d6 fire damage)
  6. Greater abjuration stance (as protection from evil, 10′ radius)
  7. Repulsion stance (attacking caster in melee: save or be flung 1d6 * 10′ back)
  8. Morning stance (daylight 60′ radius, undead take 1d6 damage per round)
Fifth level
  1. Reanimating strike (if target dies, it will animate to serve caster, same HD zombie)
  2. Death strike (against the living, save or die)
  3. Dispelling strike (save versus magic or banish/destroy demon/undead)
  4. Mind-kill strike (save versus magic or consciousness destroyed)
  5. Anti-magic stance (magic does not function within 10′ of caster)
  6. Power of the heavens stance (as control weather)
  7. Reciprocal stance (attackers take similar damage when damaging the caster)
  8. Aspect of beyond stance (all within 30′ save or go insane)
Many spells were inspired by the d20 SRD spells by level reference. Some spell effects may need to be adjusted after play testing. Some effects should probably only work against humanoid enemies (use common sense; I wanted the spell descriptions to be concise).

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