Prestige Classes


"Tiger Claw. Shadow Hand. White Raven. All of these are not paths in and of themselves. They are simply steps along the True Path, the Path of which I am master."

-Ninefold Sage of Crimson

Some savants of the Nine Disciplines believe that none of the paths are complete, true disciplines in and of themselves. They believe that the nine disciplines are perhaps more appropriately termed the Nine Steps, each a single portion of a true, whole Way. These few masters strive to learn the secrets of each path, and in so doing become the masters of nine, using a martial style that combines all of the techniques of the Temple of Nine Swords. Such martial sages are fluid and unpredictable martial artists, capable of switching between styles and techniques to suit each situation.


A master of nine typically begins his career as a warblade or swordsage, as those paths provide the broadest access to martial disciplines. Occasionally, a crusader might become a master of nine after selecting the Martial Study feat multiple times.


To you, each of the individual styles is incomplete. Each discipline is like a single petal of a flower - beautiful, elegant and finely formed, perhaps, but each grants only a partial understanding of the whole. Masters of nine often speak of the Nine-Petal Blossom, the symbolic representation of this concept. You are driven, intent on learning the secrets of the Ninefold Way. You tend to show some small amount of pity for those who don't see the whole picture and focus only on their one style, but you aren't arrogant; you once stood in their place. You simply can't wait for their vision to broaden. Perhaps you can help them.

As a group, masters of nine have no overarching objectives or plans. They are simply a group of martial adepts who have come to understand that as powerful as a single discipline is, when unified, they become something full of power, grace, and beauty. Your standing among other masters is determined by two things: your own progress in mastering the Ninefold Way, and how many others you have instructed in the ways of the Nine-Petal Blossom, teaching them its secrets and setting them on the path. Those who not only have the wisdom to see the Blossom but also to show it to others are well regarded among the masters.


In battle, you are unpredictable and graceful. You prefer to single out those among your foes who obviously have some knowledge of the techniques of the Sublime Way, so that you can best them. You want to dazzle your foe with a display of martial mastery, for who knows? Perhaps the enemy you battle today shall come to you for the wisdom of the Ninefold Way tomorrow. You also prefer the pure and personal nature of hand-to-hand combat.


Your vision was always wide as a martial adept. Perhaps you saw connections between martial styles that seemed to share little in common with one another. You might have even had multiple masters, trying desperately to learn what each of them had to teach without neglecting your advancement with any one of them (you might have even succeeded, drawing the attention of a master of nine). Regardless of the precise details of the past, the masters saw you as someone with the potential to behold the Nine-Petal Blossom, and one of them took you under his wing.

Now, you are one of them. The insights that came with your training were unlike any you had experienced before, though you suspected all along that something like this path must exist somewhere in the world. Now, you are responsible for only two things: your own advancing mastery of the Ninefold Way, and helping to open the eyes of others to its potential.

From this point, you must maintain your edge. Keep advancing in the key skills of the nine disciplines as much as possible. Your feat choices should reflect your amazing mastery of the Nine Ways. Many of the feats in this book might help you, and feats such as Martial Study allow you to further expand your maneuver selection.


Though the masters of the nine sometimes gather to train together and share their insights, they value self-sufficiency. As such, it is rare that they help one another in anything but the most dire of circumstances. As puissant adepts of martial discipline beyond the skill of most folk, they are happy to aid those who don't share their level of enlightenment however they can, but masters of nine believe that their peers should be capable of handling most situations without aid. Only a threat to the masters as a whole, such as someone systematically hunting down or otherwise persecuting the masters of nine, is likely to cause them to band together.


"The techniques of the masters of nine are elegant and powerful - and greatly to be feared. Beware their wrath, lest you find yourself battling your own strengths."

-Master Kosukan, archivist-monk of the Thousand-Petal Orchid Temple

Masters of nine are, in many ways, archetypal martial artists. They really seek only one goal: the perfection of their style. The best means of doing this is through adventuring. Masters of nine are fond of dueling other martial artists and demonstrating their superiority (or, in some cases, discovering where their own abilities are lacking).


The masters of nine, though a network made up of masters and former apprentices, are a loose society of peers. None of them maintain any kind of authority over the others, except the informal authority given to those who have walked the Ninefold Path for some time and discovered many of its secrets. Masters of nine do not train one another - once a master succeeds at setting the feet of a martial adept onto the path, the student must walk it for himself. Each master understands the Ninefold Path a little differently and practices it in his own way. Masters enjoy the opportunity to spar with one another. Such battles are quite a sight to behold, full of breathtaking feats of martial mastery and athleticism.

NPC Reactions

Most people who encounter a master of nine don't really know enough about such folk to treat them any differently than they would any other dedicated martial adept. Other martial adepts, however, and those who are knowledgeable in the lore of their kind, believe that the masters of nine are simply dilettantes without the discipline to truly master a single style. Others feel that the masters are sages who have unlocked a mystery of the martial disciplines. All adepts understand that any master of nine they encounter is powerful and skilled, and certainly not to be trif led with. Generally speaking, martial adepts give masters a friendly reception, unless they are staunch single-style enthusiasts, in which case the reaction might be a bit more confrontational.


Characters with ranks in Martial Lore can research masters of nine to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including the information from lower DCs.

DC 10: Some powerful martial adepts study all nine known disciplines. They are sometimes known as masters of nine, masters of the Nine-Petal Blossom, or other such fanciful names.

DC 15: The master of nine can quickly adapt his style to exploit any weakness a foe possesses. He knows more maneuvers than any other martial adept.

DC 20: A master of nine is a worthy opponent, or a valued ally. Few possess the breadth of abilities available to a master of nine, and few have the patience or ability to walk the Ninefold Path.

DC 30: Characters who achieve this level of success can learn important details about a specific notable master of nine, the areas where he operates, and the kinds of activities he undertakes.

Setting up a meeting with a master of nine can be difficult, since the masters maintain no chapterhouses or colleges. Instead, the easiest way to find one involves going to any place with a strong focus on the martial disciplines, for the masters often seek out new pupils in such places. At the very least, an experienced martial adept is likely to have some idea where a master of nine can be found.


A master of nine is often the proverbial Old Man of the Mountain, an ascetic who seeks to test his body and technique to master both. If your setting includes martial adepts already, it is simple enough to extrapolate the existence of masters of nine. If your setting does not, however, a visiting master of nine is an excellent way of introducing the class into the campaign without dramatically altering the setting assumptions. Masters are not limited to kindly sages, however, and can easily fill the role of adversary, displaying such skill in defeating the party that the PCs realize that they, too, must discover and follow the Ninefold Path to defeat this new foe.

Players focused on and interested in the martial adept classes and abilities will find enjoyment in this class, which makes generalization a specialty. The master of nine is likely to have the greatest access to a variety of fighting styles, allowing a broad exploration of the various discipline techniques.


A master of nine can fill the role of the ultimate weapon master in your campaign. An order of elite knights, a secretive cabal of mystic warriors, or a group of hidden masters sequestered in a distant monastery fit this class. You could also make the masters of nine into an elite group of imperial servants, tasked with hunting down the enemies of the realm - whether good or evil.

Sample Encounter

A master of nine is likely to walk the world in search of new fighting styles, tactics, and methods to incorporate into his studies. If the PCs are famous, particularly if they are known for any distinctive tactics or fighting talents, a master is likely to seek them out simply for the purpose of trying his strength against the most skillful warrior or adept in the party.

EL 10: Vaunred the Walker (NG male human swordsage 7/master of nine 3) has long sought to push his martial talents beyond their limits. He looks to apprentice himself to a barbarian, ranger, or paladin to study his new master's techniques and abilities. He makes an excellent cohort or ally.

Hit Die: d8.


To qualify to become a master of nine, a character must fulfill all of the following criteria.

Skills: 10 ranks in four key discipline skills.

Feats: Adaptive Style, Dodge, Blind-Fight, Improved Initiative, Improved Unarmed Strike.

Martial Maneuvers: Must know at least one maneuver from six different disciplines.

Class Skills

The master of nine's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Balance (Dex), Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Hide (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge (history) (Int), Knowledge (local) (Int), Martial Lore (Int), Sense Motive (Wis), Swim (Str), and Tumble (Dex).

Skill Points at Each Level: 6 + Int modifier.

Table: The Master of Nine

Level Base
1st +0 +0 +0 +2 2 1 0
2nd +1 +0 +0 +3 1 1 1 Dual stance
3rd +2 +1 +1 +3 2 1 0 Perfect form
4th +3 +1 +1 +4 1 1 1 Counter stance
5th +3 +1 +1 +4 2 1 0 Mastery of nine
Class Features

The master of nine expands his knowledge of martial maneuvers to include all nine martial disciplines. As he advances, he learns ways of combining maneuvers from different disciplines to great effect. Finally, his mastery of all nine disciplines grants him a greater understanding of the path of the martial adept.

All of the following are class features of the master of nine prestige class.

Maneuvers: At each odd-numbered level, you gain two new maneuvers known from any of the nine disciplines. At each even-numbered level, you gain one new maneuver known from any of the nine disciplines. You must meet a maneuver's prerequisite to learn it. You add your full master of nine levels to your initiator level to determine your total initiator level and your highest-level maneuvers known. At each level, you gain an additional maneuver readied per day.

Stances Known: At 2nd level and again at 4th level, you learn a new martial stance from any discipline. You must meet a stance's prerequisite to learn it.

Dual Stance (Ex): Starting at 2nd level, you can choose to not lose your current stance when you enter a different stance from another discipline. The amount of time you can spend in two stances is limited. You can use this ability to gain the benefits of two stances for a maximum of 2 rounds per class level each day, split up as you desire among multiple uses and multiple stance pairs.

Perfect Form (Ex): Beginning at 3rd level, you initiate your maneuvers with greater fluidity and grace. The save DC (if any) of any maneuver you initiate increases by 1.

Counter Stance (Ex): From 4th level on, whenever you initiate a counter maneuver, you can change your stance as part of the counter's action, even if it is not your turn.

Mastery of Nine (Ex): At 5th level, you have attained mastery of all nine disciplines. You gain a +2 bonus on attack rolls made when initiating any strike maneuver, and your strikes deal extra damage equal to the number of disciplines you readied maneuvers from at the beginning of the day. For example, if you ready maneuvers from six different disciplines, you gain a +6 bonus on damage rolls when you initiate your strikes.