This is a quick, un-playtested homebrew of material related to Tome of Battle, a "discipline" or "school" of martial maneuvers, and a new base class designed partially around it. It is unrelated to my Whiteleaf campaign setting, and in fact likely wouldn't be permitted in a Whiteleaf game, in large part because it conceptually resembles a "gunslinger" concept, which fits Whiteleaf even less well than it does a standard faux-medieval campaign world. (It'd probably fit right in with Pathfinder, but anyone wishing to use it so will have to do their own conversion, as I don't know that system's rules well enough to make even partial translation notes.)
As a footnote, TOB refers to one of the nine traditions of "blade magic" interchangeably as either a "school" or a "discipline", both of which terms are in use already for magic or psionics respectively. In my campaigns I therefore refer to these as the nine "strictures", but since that term is solely my own invention, I will avoid using it here for the purposes of this writing.
Though most users of "blade magic" believe in the tale of Reshar and the Temple of Nine Swords, there are other martial traditions which have emerged throughout the world over the years, their practitioners generally ignored by more orthodox adherents of the Sublime Way. One such tradition, which may be either the oldest or the youngest "initiator" practice, is the discipline of the Piercing Eye, a tradition built largely around archery (though it can also be used with several penetrating melee weapons, particularly those which can be thrown), which followers of the Reshar myth generally disdain due to its lack of compatibility with Swords such as those mentioned in the Nine Schools legendry. Though it is thought to have been adapted from a millennia-old elven practice for master-level archery, modern adherents of Piercing Eye combat regard hand-drawn bows as too unpredictable to be ideal for their purposes, preferring the precision of a finely-engineered crossbow whose operation is mechanically predictable, and does not depend on the vagaries of a length of twine held taut by the shooter's muscles. Those who disdain the crossbow instead use thrown or thrusted spears, which are easier to control perfectly by hand than a bowstring. At least one swordsage who has taken up the Piercing Eye school instead wields a siangham, which he keeps tied to the end of a length of silk rope and has learned how to hurl with excellent accuracy, but he is regarded as something of an eccentric. Most Piercing Eye practitioners stick with the crossbow, enjoying the advantage of greater range when combined with their techniques for unerring aim and the targeting of vital areas. Besides these specialties, Piercing Eye maneuvers and stances also assist in winning initiative, improving the surprise round, defeating concealment, and of course thwarting these same strategies when used by others.
The key skill for the Piercing Eye school is Spot, since the practice relies upon quickly and effectively sizing up a target's weaknesses and picking it out from its surroundings. The spear, javelin, siangham, and all crossbows (heavy, light, and hand) are favored weapons for Piercing Eye maneuvers. The discipline of Piercing Eye is available to members of the swordsage class, but it is incompatible with the Setting Sun school, since it is supremely proactive in a way that no other practice is, and thus defies the precepts of reactivity which are central to Setting Sun; no character may have maneuvers or stances from both of these martial paths. Most adherents of Piercing Eye are members of the Sharpshooter class, which revolves specifically around its practice and is devoted to enhancing its effectiveness.
List of Piercing Eye maneuvers and stances to be generated:
M 1. ? - negate range penalties with piercing missile or thrown weapon.
M 1. ?
S 1. High Noon - more predictable initiative results.
S 1. Anchor Aweigh - wield a light melee weapon tied onto a string as if it was a reach weapon, and perform trip maneuvers with it.
M 2. ?
M 2. ?
M 2. ?
M 3?. ? - guarantee a critical hit.
S 3?. ?
S 3?. ?
M 4?. ?
M 4?. ?
M 4?. ?
M 5?. ?
M 5?. ?
S 5?. ?
S 5?. ?
M 6?. ?
M 6?. ?
M 6?. ?
M 7?. ?
M 7?. ?
M 7?. ?
M 8?. ?
S 8?. ?
S 8?. ?
M 9?. ?
Not every martial adept wields a sword; the Sharpshooter is a character who specializes in attacking his opponents from afar, and even when forced into close combat, he typically prefers to keep his foes at a distance by wielding reach weapons. More than staying out of harm's way, however, the sharpshooter believes in precision, and even before that in perception; a typical truism is that "one does not kill with the hand, but with the eye", and a sharpshooter disdains the wastefulness of destroying anything that need not be attacked, or of using more than the minimum necessary force when doing so. Only a fool fires two quarrels when one will suffice, many a Sharpshooter has said; to sacrifice accuracy for volume is the height of reprehensible sloppiness in their eyes.
The Sharpshooter class has access to the martial disciplines of Devoted Spirit, Diamond Mind, Shadow Hand, and Piercing Eye. Typically loners, they seldom make use of White Raven maneuvers even through Martial Study, and they also take a dim view of the sloppiness of Tiger Claw and Stone Dragon. Though they have access to the Devoted Spirit discipline favored by Crusaders, they do not get along well with members of that class, seeing the randomness of their combat style as anathema to their own studious practice. They believe in using cleverness to improve their combat abilities (performing feints and the like), for although they have a strong sense of their own brand of honor, this does not require them to throw away their own lives by taking the kind of foolish risks one expects of a Paladin, Knight, Samurai or the like. Though many of them have a gambling streak, they do not believe there is anything noble about dying for a cause, and thus refuse to make pointless personal sacrifices when there is nothing to be gained by it. They are also past masters of the cold-eyed staredown, and take great delight in their ability to settle a dispute with a simple duel of wits, rather than being forced to resort to bloodshed.
Every Sharpshooter starts play knowing four maneuvers. Unlike other martial adept classes, the Sharpshooter relies heavily on patience and forethought; he begins with only two of his maneuvers readied, and may change this selection with five minutes of planning and contemplation. Believing strongly that success trumps all other considerations, the Sharpshooter recovers one expended maneuver (other than the one he just used) whenever he succeeds in hitting his target (even if no damage was dealt due to Damage Reduction or the like); a first-level Sharpshooter therefore typically alternates between using the same two maneuvers throughout the battle (a practice inexplicably referred to as "both barrels" by several notables). As he advances in levels, the Sharpshooter gains the ability to ready more maneuvers at a reasonable rate, but he still runs a risk of being unable to recover his expended maneuvers if his accuracy fails him. For this reason, few sharpshooters make use of the Expertise and Power Attack feats, when they engage in melee combat at all.
Alternative system - Users of the repeating crossbow have promoted a form of Sharpshooting which allows them to use multiple maneuvers even when unable to guarantee accuracy. In this case, recovering up to five expended maneuvers is a full-round action which provokes attacks of opportunity.
Sharpshooters have full BAB, good Will saves, a d6 hit die, and x6 skill points. Many take the Lightning Reflexes feat, while others use the Diamond Mind maneuver of Action Before Thought to replace their Reflex save with a Concentration check. The class skills for the Sharpshooter are Appraise, Autohypnosis, Bluff, Climb, Concentration, Gather Information, Handle Animal, Hide, Intimidate, Knowledge (geography), Knowledge (local), Knowledge (nobility), Martial Lore, Profession, Ride, Sense Motive, Spot, and Use Rope. Common cross-class investments include Diplomacy, Disguise, Escape Artist, Listen, and Perform, but most especially Sleight of Hand and Survival, which frequently receive the Skill Focus feats to make up for a lack of innate proficiency (as the use of concealed weapons is a favored, albeit high-investment, strategy for many Sharpshooters, and a plurality of them wander from town to town for weeks at a time, rather than relying entirely on civilization to support their lifestyle). Sharpshooters lack the interest in History knowledge common to all other martial adepts, since the Reshar myth-cycle which most other initiators believe in makes no allowance for the existence of this "tenth path", and thus its followers have little respect for tales of the past. Only a handful of exceptions to this tendency exist, although at least one such scholar likely needed to delve into the records of ancient elven kingdoms in order to discover the fundaments of this unusual ranged-combat style.
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