Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords

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Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords
Tome of Battle, the Book of Nine Swords.jpg
Author Richard Baker, Matt Sernett, Frank Brunner
Genre Role-playing game
Publisher Wizards of the Coast
Publication date
August 2006
Media typePrint (Hardback)
ISBN 978-0-7869-3922-0
OCLC 70896662
LC Class GV1469.62.D84 D836 2000

Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords is an official supplement for the 3.5 edition of the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game, published by Wizards of the Coast in 2006. The book chronicles the rise and fall of the fictional Temple of Nine Swords within the D&D universe and introduces an entirely new "initiator" subsystem that gives greater flexibility.

<i>Dungeons & Dragons</i> Fantasy role-playing game

Dungeons & Dragons is a fantasy tabletop role-playing game (RPG) originally designed by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. It was first published in 1974 by Tactical Studies Rules, Inc. (TSR). The game has been published by Wizards of the Coast since 1997. It was derived from miniature wargames, with a variation of the 1971 game Chainmail serving as the initial rule system. D&D's publication is commonly recognized as the beginning of modern role-playing games and the role-playing game industry.

Wizards of the Coast American publisher of games

Wizards of the Coast LLC is an American publisher of games, primarily based on fantasy and science fiction themes, and formerly an operator of retail stores for games. Originally a basement-run role-playing game publisher, the company popularized the collectible card game genre with Magic: The Gathering in the mid-1990s, acquired the popular Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game by purchasing the failing company TSR, and further increased its success by publishing the licensed Pokémon Trading Card Game. The company's corporate headquarters are located in Renton, Washington in the United States.



Tome of Battle was written to give players a chance to play characters "[blending] the genres of Far East action games and the 'typical' D&D game world," in contrast to the standard "knights and castles and dragons" that most of Dungeons and Dragons 3.5e was focused on. [1] The book notes the success and acceptance of Eastern fantasy in the west - characterized by the acceptance of games like Final Fantasy and movies like Kill Bill - and attempts to capture this by incorporating elements of martial arts into a D&D campaign. The book summarized this concept as: "Tome of Battle isn't your parents' D&D - it's bigger, bolder, and more fantastic than ever before." [1]

Final Fantasy is a Japanese science fantasy media franchise created by Hironobu Sakaguchi, and developed and owned by Square Enix. The franchise centers on a series of fantasy and science fantasy role-playing video games (RPGs/JRPGs). The first game in the series was released in 1987, with 14 other main-numbered entries being released since then. The franchise has since branched into other video game genres such as tactical role-playing, action role-playing, massively multiplayer online role-playing, racing, third-person shooter, fighting, and rhythm, as well as branching into other media, including CGI films, anime, manga, and novels.

Mechanically, the purpose of the book is to increase the viability of melee combatants in the game to be comparable to magic user characters in high-level play. The book accomplishes this via three revised melee classes, each equipped with versatile combat maneuvers and stances that can be expended in the same way that magic users expend spells.


Tome of Battle has eight chapters and an introduction. The chapters are named "Disciples of the Sword", "Skills & Feats", "Blade Magic", "Maneuvers & Stances", "Prestige Classes", "The Nine Swords", "Magic Items", and "Monsters".

Martial Adepts

Martial Adepts are the base classes introduced in Tome of Battle. Two of the three classes parallel existing classes, but gain different class features, as well as access to the powerful techniques of the Sublime Way: Crusader, which parallels the religious strictures of the Paladin (but unlike the Paladin, the Crusader class can be used to make a character of any alignment), and Warblade, which parallels the pure martial prowess of the Fighter. The third, the Swordsage, is most like a Monk in nature, but has more customizable features. Swordsages are best compared to the philosopher-swordsmen of the Wuxia film genre.

The paladin is one of the standard playable character classes in most editions of the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game. The paladin is a holy knight, crusading in the name of good and order, and is a divine spellcaster. From 1st through 3rd edition, paladins were required to maintain the Lawful Good alignment.

The fighter is one of the standard playable character classes in the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game. A fighter is a versatile, weapons-oriented warrior who fights using skill, strategy and tactics.

The monk is a playable character class in most editions of the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game. A D&D monk is a fantasy martial artist, specializing in unarmed combat.

Temple of the Nine Swords

In the internal mythology of the book, the nine styles were once the properties of different races and wildly divergent philosophies. They were brought together in the person of a man named Reshar, who studied and mastered all nine styles in the astonishingly short period of just three years. After that, he built a temple, which brought all of the styles together under a single roof. This temple survived until after Reshar vanished without a trace, leaving each style an exemplar sword. After that, the masters of the Tiger Claw and Shadow Hand styles plotted against the others, and were cast out. The cast-out masters wandered, gathering pupils, before they returned and slaughtered the original temple, scattering the styles once again to the winds. Yet the scattered disciples of the Nine Schools remembered their period of lost unity, and strive continuously both to pass their arts on to new generations, and to restore the lost glory of the Temple.

Maneuvers and Stances

The martial arts system presented in the book bears a passing resemblance to the magic system of D&D. Martial arts maneuvers are readied (instead of being memorized); unlike spells in the magic system, only one maneuver can be readied at a time. Once maneuvers are expended, each class has a method of recovering them. Classes which are not martial adept classes can only recover maneuvers (which have been learned through the Martial Study feat) at the end of an encounter.

Maneuvers differ from magic spells in that they renew much more quickly (at the end of a fight or by performing some action to restore them), and can be "unlearned" in order to learn new maneuvers at a later level. Although maneuvers have levels, they ignore the "spells by level" mechanic familiar to spellcasters, and any maneuver known can be used as long as it is available, regardless of how many maneuvers of the same level were used previously.

Styles or Schools of the Sublime Way

The nine schools presented in the book each take a different philosophy of martial action, and enhance the warrior in different ways. Each school has a range of maneuvers and stances from first to ninth level, like magic spells, as well as a Legendary weapon whose powers mirror the style it represents.

Scimitar backsword or sabre with a curved blade

A scimitar is a backsword or sabre with a curved blade, originating in the Middle East.

Falchion one-handed, single-edged sword

A falchion is a one-handed, single-edged sword of European origin, whose design is reminiscent of the Chinese dadao, and modern machete. Falchions are found in different forms from around the 13th century up to and including the 16th century. In some versions the falchion looks rather like the seax and later the sabre, and in other versions the form is irregular or like a machete with a crossguard.

Rapier slender, sharply pointed sword

Rapier, or espada ropera, also known as estoque, is a loose term for a type of large, slender, sharply pointed sword. With such design features, the rapier is optimized to be a thrusting weapon, but cutting or slashing attacks were also recorded in some historical treatises like Capo Ferro's Gran Simulacro in 1610. This weapon was mainly used in Early Modern Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Without expending a feat, the Desert Wind, Setting Sun and Shadow Hand schools are exclusive to Swordsage characters, Iron Heart to Warblades and Devoted Spirit to Crusaders. Diamond Mind and Tiger Claw are Swordsage/Warblade schools, while White Raven is Crusader/Warblade. Only Stone Dragon is available to all three Martial Adept classes.

Prestige Classes

Tome of Battle adds eight martial adept prestige classes, in the same expanded format as the base classes earlier in the book, and rules for using other prestige classes with the martial adept base classes. Martial adepts continue to advance in their martial skills while multiclassing (either with other base classes or with prestige classes), but more slowly, except when multiclassing with other martial adept classes.

The Prestige Classes from Tome of Battle are listed in the article List of prestige classes.

Martial Monsters

The last section of the book is devoted to monsters one might find and ally with or fight in a martial-centered campaign. It covers four creatures that can be allies or enemies to students of the Sublime Way, including a rakshasa variant; the Reth Dekala, remnants of a once-proud warrior race turned into restless spirits; and the valkyrie.

Rakshasa Humanoid beings from Hindu mythology

A Rakshasa is a mythological being in Hindu mythology. As this mythology influenced other religions, the rakshasa was later incorporated into Buddhism. Rakshasas are also called "Maneaters". A female rakshasa is known as a Rakshasi. A female Rakshasa in human form is a Rakshesha. The terms Asura and Rakshasa are sometimes used interchangeably.

Publication history

The Tome of Battle was written by Richard Baker, Matthew Sernett, and Frank Brunner, and was published in August 2006. Cover art was by Eric Polak, with interior art by Kalman Andrasofszky, Steve Ellis, Wayne England, Emily Fiegenschuh, Howard Lyon, Jeff Nentrup, Torstein Nordstrand, Michael Phillippi, Arnie Swekel, and Beth Trott.

Shannon Appelcline commented that Tome of Battle was explicitly derived from fourth-edition Dungeons & Dragons development, as between design phases "Mike Mearls spliced the encounter-power mechanics of 4e into this book, then into process. As such, it offers a fascinating view of fourth edition in mid-design. Though the fighters of Nine Swords have encounter powers much like they would in the next edition, their abilities had unique recharge requirements, allowing them to refill in the middle of an encounter if certain conditions were met. Before the release of 4e, Heinsoo would decide this detail was too complex and remove it." [2] :298


A system similar to martial maneuvers is used for force powers in the Star Wars Roleplaying Game Saga Edition.

Elements of the Tome of Battle were incorporated into the 4th edition of Dungeons and Dragons; specifically the combat maneuvers. In addition, spellcasters get an upgrade in this regard too, gaining at will, encounter and daily spells that they can utilize so that a spellcaster will never be forced to pick up a weapon because he ran out of spells. [3]

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  1. 1 2 Baker, Richard. Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords. Wizards of the Coast. p. 6.
  2. Shannon Appelcline (2011). Designers & Dragons. Mongoose Publishing. ISBN   978-1-907702-58-7.
  3. EN World - Morrus' D&D / 4th Edition / d20 News - Unofficial D&D 4th Edition News Page