Blade Magic Overview

The uncanny power of the Sublime Way springs from a blend of physical skill, mental self-discipline, and adherence to distinct martial philosophies. Many of the maneuvers of the various martial disciplines aren’t magic at all—they are simply demonstrations of near-superhuman skill and training. Although many of the maneuvers and methods taught by the Sublime Way are mundane in execution and effect, their results can sometimes rival spells. The warriors who study the nine schools are capable of battlefield feats beyond those that a traditionally schooled and trained warrior can hope to accomplish. The typical fighter might display great skill in a weapon’s basic cuts, thrusts, and parries, but a student of the Sublime Way believes that mastering a weapon requires self-discipline and spiritual austerity in addition to learning the correct physical postures and movements.


Martial powers fall into two broad categories: stances and maneuvers (which include boosts, counters, and strikes). A martial maneuver is a discrete extraordinary or supernatural effect that is temporarily expended after use. A stance is never expended and is always available to you.

You can use a particular stance or maneuver as many times as you like in a single day, but each time you use a maneuver, you temporarily expend it—you lose a little of your mental focus, you exhaust some small portion of your personal ki or energy, or you simply finish the move out of position and can’t immediately launch the same attack again without assuming the proper posture and mental state first. In other words, you can’t use an expended maneuver again until you rest for a brief time or perform a specific action in combat that allows you to recover one or more expended maneuvers. The type of action necessary depends on what type of martial adept you are; see Chapter 1 for details on each class’s maneuver recovery mechanism. As a result, you can normally use each of your readied maneuvers once per encounter, but sometimes you can recover one or more maneuvers you used earlier in the encounter and use them again. You never expend or use up your stances, so they are always available.


You do not need to ready your stances ahead of time. Every stance you know is always available to you. However, maneuvers require preparation in the form of exercise, prayer, meditation, or simple mental rehearsal. Therefore, you must choose a selection of readied maneuvers from all the maneuvers you know. Only your readied maneuvers are available for immediate use.

The number of maneuvers you can ready at one time depends on your class and level. If you do not have any levels in a martial adept class (for example, you learned a maneuver by means of the Martial Study feat), you can ready each maneuver you know. For example, if you have chosen the Martial Study feat two times and know two martial maneuvers, you automatically ready both those maneuvers, and you can use each of those maneuvers once per encounter. You can take the Martial Study feat a maximum of three times. If you are a martial adept and you have the Martial Study feat, you do not gain any bonus to your ability to ready maneuvers—the maneuver you learned with the feat is just one more maneuver known from which you can select your readied maneuvers.

If you advance in a prestige class that grants you additional maneuvers, that class details how many additional maneuvers you can ready. These extra maneuvers readied add to your maximum number of maneuvers readied, whether you determine that number due to your class level in crusader, swordsage, or warblade, or by the number of times you have taken the Martial Study feat.

It is possible for a character to gain the Martial Study feat before entering a class that grants a progression for powers readied. In this case, use the class’s number of maneuvers readied. Add any modifiers from prestige classes to the class’s number of maneuvers readied.

To ready maneuvers, you require a brief period of practice, exercise, meditation, or prayer. The exact nature of the exercise or meditation depends on your martial adept class, but each class requires 5 minutes of preparation time. Since each martial maneuver requires a precise combination of techniques for gathering inner energy, training muscle memory, speaking prayers or catechisms, and even focusing the mind on specific concepts or analogies, most martial adepts can’t keep every maneuver they know at the forefront of their minds. You do not need to be well rested to ready your maneuvers, but you do need to be able to stand and move without restraint. As long as you are not physically disturbed during your exercise and meditation, you can exchange your previously chosen set of readied maneuvers for a new set of readied maneuvers. Unlike a wizard preparing her spells, you cannot choose to leave a readied maneuver slot unfilled.


To initiate a maneuver or a stance, you must be able to move. You do not need to be able to speak. You initiate a maneuver by taking the specified initiation action. A maneuver might require an immediate, swift, move, standard, or full-round action to initiate. The process of initiating a maneuver is similar to that of casting a spell or manifesting a psionic power, although there are some key differences (see below). You can only choose to initiate a maneuver that is currently readied and unexpended. In addition, if you are a crusader, the maneuver you choose must be granted to you—you can’t choose to initiate a maneuver that is currently withheld.

You initiate a stance as a swift action. A stance remains in effect indefinitely and is not expended. You enjoy the benefit your stance confers until you change to another stance you know as a swift action. You can remain in a stance outside of combat situations, and you can enjoy its benefit while exploring or traveling.


Unlike with spells or psionic powers, you need not concentrate to initiate a maneuver or stance. Furthermore, if you are injured or affected by hostile spells, powers, or maneuvers while initiating a maneuver or assuming a stance, you don’t lose the maneuver or stance.

Enemy interference might make certain maneuvers impossible to complete. For example, if an enemy who readied an action to trip you when you started your turn knocks you prone, you would not be able to use a maneuver that required you to charge. Similarly, if you begin your turn grappled or pinned, you might find that most of the maneuvers available to you simply won’t be of any use until you get free.

If you initiate a maneuver and subsequently can’t use it during your turn, the maneuver is still considered expended. You are considered to have used its initiation action for the purpose of determining what actions remain available to you on your turn.

You do not provoke attacks of opportunity when you initiate a maneuver or stance unless its description explicitly says otherwise. Some maneuvers allow you to move, charge, and take other actions that could provoke attacks of opportunity. Unless the maneuver description specifically says that such actions do not provoke attacks of opportunity, they do. For example, if you use a maneuver to charge a foe, and during that charge you move in a way that provokes attacks of opportunity, you provoke them as normal unless the maneuver description explicitly says otherwise.


Some maneuvers and stances have variable effects (such as duration) that depend on initiator level. However, maneuvers are not impacted as strongly by a user’s level as spells are. This difference in effect is primarily a balance and game play issue. Since you can use maneuvers repeatedly, they tend to scale poorly. As you attain higher levels, you usually use your low-level maneuvers less often (if you haven’t already traded them out for higher-level stances, as described in the martial adept class descriptions in Chapter 1). Many stances, boosts, and counters, however, remain useful across all levels.

If you are a single-class character, your initiator level equals your level in the class that provides access to martial maneuvers (crusader, swordsage, or warblade). If you lack any martial adept levels, your initiator level is equal to 1/2 your character level.


Even when you gain levels in a class that does not grant martial maneuvers, your understanding of the martial disciplines still increases. A highly skilled fighter has the basic combat training and experience needed to master advanced maneuvers. If you are a multiclass martial adept, and you learn a new maneuver by attaining a new level in a martial adept class, determine your initiator level by adding together your level in that class + 1/2 your levels in all other classes. Look up the result on the table below to determine the highest-level maneuvers you can take. You still have to meet a maneuver’s prerequisite to learn it.

For example, a 7th-level crusader/5th-level swordsage has an initiator level of 9th for determining the highestlevel maneuvers he can take as a crusader. As a result, he can take 5th-level crusader maneuvers. As a swordsage, his initiator level is 8th, allowing him to take 4th-level swordsage maneuvers.

This process applies to all of a character’s levels, whether they are in martial adept classes or other classes.

Prestige classes work a little differently. In most cases, you add the full prestige class level to your martial adept level to determine your initiator level. See the prestige class descriptions in Chapter 5 for details.


Much like spells, martial maneuvers are organized by level. Higher-level maneuvers are more powerful than lowerlevel ones. As you gain levels, you have the option to select higher-level maneuvers. Your level in a martial adept class determines the highest-level maneuvers you can select. For example, a 5th-level warblade can select maneuvers of 3rd level or lower.

Highest-Level Maneuvers Known
Initiator Level Maneuver Level
1st–2nd 1st
3rd–4th 2nd
5th–6th 3rd
7th–8th 4th
9th–10th 5th
11th–12th 6th
13th–14th 7th
15th–16th 8th
17th+ 9th


Once you have chosen a maneuver to initiate, you must resolve its effects.

Attack Rolls: Many maneuvers include an attack of some kind. All offensive combat actions, even those that don’t damage opponents (such as disarm and bull rush), are considered attacks. All maneuvers that opponents can resist with saving throws, that deal damage, or that otherwise harm or hamper subjects are considered attacks.

Bonus Types: Some maneuvers and stances grant bonuses to ability scores or Armor Class, on attacks or damage, on saves, or on a number of other variables. Each bonus has a type that indicates why or how it is granted. With the exception of dodge bonuses, two bonuses of the same type generally don’t stack.

If a maneuver or stance does not identify the type of bonus conferred, its effects stack with all other effects modifying the same characteristic or attribute. Untyped bonuses always stack.

Actions during a Maneuver: The Initiation Action line of a maneuver description provides the action required to use that maneuver. For example, the initiation action of the radiant charge maneuver is 1 full-round action. Thus, as part of your full-round action, you bring about the effect in the maneuver description. In this case, the maneuver allows you to make a charge attack with a number of additional benefits.


You begin each encounter with all your readied maneuvers unexpended. When you initiate a maneuver, it is expended—you cannot use it again until you recover it. You can recover expended maneuvers in two ways: through special actions or at the end of an encounter. You never expend a stance.

Special Action: Most martial adepts can refresh some or all of their expended maneuvers in the course of a battle by taking a special action to do so. The type of special action required depends on a martial adept’s class (or feat) selection, as summarized below.

Crusader: A crusader recovers expended maneuvers whenever no more withheld maneuvers can be granted to him (the round in which his last withheld maneuver is granted doesn’t count).

Swordsage: A swordsage can recover one expended maneuver of his choice as a full-round action.

Warblade: A warblade can recover all of his expended maneuvers as a swift action, followed by making a melee attack or using a standard action to do nothing else in the round. If he initiates a maneuver or changes his stance during a round, he can’t recover his expended maneuvers.

Multiclass Martial Adept: A character with two or more martial adept classes keeps track of his readied maneuvers, expended maneuvers, and recovery of expended maneuvers separately for each class.

Character with the Martial Study feat: A character who knows one or more martial maneuvers through the Martial Study feat but does not otherwise have a level in a martial adept class cannot recover expended maneuvers through any sort of special action. He can only recover expended maneuvers at the end of an encounter (see below).

End of the Encounter: When an encounter ends, a martial adept automatically recovers all expended maneuvers. Even a few moments out of combat is sufficient to refresh all maneuvers expended in the previous battle. In the case of a long, drawn-out series of fights, or if an adept is out of combat entirely, assume that if a character makes no attacks of any kind, initiates no new maneuvers, and is not targeted by any enemy attacks for 1 full minute, he can recover all expended maneuvers. If a character can’t avoid attacking or being attacked for 1 minute, he can’t automatically recover his maneuvers and must use special actions to do so instead.


In general, martial maneuvers and stances that create supernatural effects are transparent to magic or psionics. However, martial maneuvers rarely interact with spells or powers. Once a maneuver is initiated, the effect lasts only for your turn unless otherwise noted, giving an opponent little opportunity to counter it.

Extraordinary or Supernatural Abilities: Martial maneuvers and stances are never spells or spell-like abilities. Unless the description of the specific maneuver or stance says otherwise, treat it as an extraordinary ability. Thus, these abilities work just fine in an antimagic field or a dead magic zone. A maneuver or stance can’t be dispelled or counterspelled, and initiating one does not provoke attacks of opportunity.

If a maneuver is overtly magical or otherwise uses a supernatural power source, it is noted as a supernatural ability in its description. In this case, the maneuver obeys all the standard rules for supernatural abilities.

Detecting Martial Maneuvers: Most maneuvers don’t create persistent or long-lasting effects, and the results are obvious to any observer. However, identifying a specific maneuver, stance, or discipline requires the Martial Lore skill.

Multiple Effects: Martial maneuvers and stances usually work as described in Chapter 4, no matter how many other powers, spells, or magical effects happen to be operating in the same area or on the same subject. Whenever a maneuver or stance has a specific effect on other maneuvers, powers, or spells, its description explains the effect. Most martial adepts can use only one stance at a time, but some high-level adepts might be able to use two stances at once.

Stacking Effects: Maneuvers or stances that provide bonuses or penalties on attack rolls, damage rolls, saving throws, and other attributes do not stack with each other unless specifically noted within their descriptions.


Martial adepts initiate martial maneuvers and stances. These maneuvers are manifestations of supreme martial skill, focus, and clarity. They also tap into a sublime universal energy or ki; by performing a maneuver to perfection, a martial adept can achieve amazing feats of martial and athletic prowess.

Martial adepts do not have “spellbooks,” but they do ready a selection of their maneuvers ahead of time. Unlike characters who prepare spells, martial adepts can quickly choose a new selection of readied maneuvers with a brief pause to exercise, meditate, or pray. Martial adepts do not have to ready their stances; all stances known are available at all times.


Martial adepts usually learn new maneuvers and stances when they attain a new level. Not every discipline is available to every character.

Maneuvers and Stances Gained at a New Level: Martial adepts train, meditate, and practice between adventures and while resting. When a martial adept learns a new maneuver or stance because she gained a level, you can assume that this new knowledge represents the effects of practice and study over the course of days, weeks, or even months.

Independent Study: A martial adept can attempt to devise a new maneuver or stance independently, adding to an existing discipline. A DM decides if it’s possible for a character to develop a new maneuver.

If a DM permits the creation of a new maneuver, observe the following guidelines.

First, the martial adept requires a safe place to meditate and practice. This effort will take a number of days equal to 3 × the maneuver’s level, so if the adept is devising a 7th-level maneuver, the research will require 21 days. The adept pays 50 XP per day of study, which represents an intense regimen of meditation, fasting, and practice designed to focus the mind and spirit on the task at hand.

A martial adept can’t create a new maneuver of a higher level than the adept is capable of learning.

At the end of the requisite time for study and practice, the martial adept attempts a Martial Lore check (DC 25 + (2 × the maneuver’s level).

If the check succeeds, the character learns the maneuver the next time she has an opportunity to learn a new maneuver through level advancement or feat selection. If the check fails, the new maneuver is not yet perfected, and she must go through the study and practice time again if she wants to keep trying (although she regains the XP she has spent thus far).

A DM should work with the player before the attempt to develop a new maneuver begins, and give her guidance on the parameters under which a new maneuver or discipline might be acceptable (see Creating New Spells, DMG 35).


Some creatures are naturally gifted in the Sublime Way and can make use of martial maneuvers without having levels in a martial adept class. These inborn abilities function much like spell-like abilities or psi-like abilities. Characters using martial scripts (see page 147) can also make use of martial maneuvers.

Initiating a maneuver through an innate ability, or by using a magic item, works just like initiating a maneuver normally does. You do not provoke attacks of opportunity, and your maneuvers are not subject to spell resistance.


The various martial maneuvers available to practitioners of the Sublime Way are described in Chapter 4: Maneuvers and Stances. The description of each power follows a standard format, which is explained below.


This entry is the name by which the maneuver is generally known. However, it’s fairly common for various schools or traditions of the Sublime Way to bestow their own names on maneuvers. For example, the swooping dragon strike maneuver might be known as the dragon’s pounce, the gentle reminder, or something as esoteric as Liam falling down the mountain.


Each maneuver belongs to one of nine martial disciplines. The maneuvers in a discipline are loosely linked by common effects, philosophies, or functions. The second line of a maneuver or stance description provides the name of the relevant discipline, along with its type (see below).

Just like maneuver names, the names of martial disciplines vary widely from one locale to another. In fact, the term discipline is not universally used. Disciplines might be known as schools, traditions, philosophies, regimens, teachings, paths, or styles. For example, the Desert Wind discipline might be known in some areas as the Green Naga style or the Wakeful Dreamer philosophy.

Each discipline is tied to a skill that might be used in the execution of some of its maneuvers. In addition, various weapons lend themselves to the philosophy or maneuvers of different disciplines.

The nine disciplines include the following.


Speed and mobility are the hallmarks of the Desert Wind discipline. Desert Wind maneuvers often involve blinding fiurries of blows, quick charges, and agile footwork. Some maneuvers from this school, however, draw power from the supernatural essence of the desert and allow an adept practitioner to scour his foes with fire.

The key skill for Desert Wind maneuvers is Tumble. Weapons associated with Desert Wind include the scimitar, light mace, light pick, falchion, and spear.


Faith, piety, and purity of body and mind are the wellsprings of a warrior’s true power. Devoted Spirit maneuvers harness a practitioner’s spiritual strength and her zealous devotion to a cause. This discipline includes energies baneful to a creature opposed to the Devoted Spirit student’s cause, abilities that can keep an adept fighting long after a more mundane warrior would fall to his enemies, and strikes infused with vengeful, fanatical power.

Intimidate is the key skill for Devoted Spirit. Devoted Spirit associated weapons include the falchion, greatclub, longsword, and maul.


True quickness lies in the mind, not the body. A student of the Diamond Mind discipline seeks to hone his perceptions and discipline his thoughts so that he can act in slivers of time so narrow that others cannot even perceive them. A corollary of this speed of thought and action is the concept of the mind as the battleground. An enemy defeated in his mind must inevitably be defeated in the realm of the physical as well.

Concentration is the key skill for Diamond Mind. The rapier, shortspear, bastard sword (katana), and trident are the associated weapons for Diamond Mind.


Absolute mastery of the sword is the goal of the Iron Heart discipline. Through unending practice and study, the Iron Heart adept achieves superhuman skill with her weapons. Iron Heart maneuvers are demonstrations of uncanny martial skill—weaving patterns of steel that dizzy, confuse, and ultimately kill with no recourse.

The key skill for Iron Heart is Balance, since a perfect understanding of motion is essential to maneuvers in this discipline. The bastard sword, dwarven waraxe, longsword, and two-bladed sword are the associated weapons for Iron Heart.


Strength is an illusion. Adherents of the Setting Sun philosophy understand that no warrior can hope to be stronger, quicker, and more skillful than every one of her enemies. Therefore, this discipline includes maneuvers that use an adversary’s power and speed against him. Setting Sun maneuvers include throws and imitative strikes. The highest forms of the Setting Sun require an adept to empty herself of preconception and impulse to become a hollow vessel unhindered by want.

Sense Motive is the key skill for the Setting Sun discipline. The associated weapons for Setting Sun are the short sword, quarterstaff, nunchaku, and unarmed strike.


Never show an adversary what he expects to see. The Shadow Hand discipline emphasizes deception, misdirection, and surprise. The most effective blow is one struck against an enemy who does not even know he is in danger. Because the study of deceit as a philosophy often leads into darker practices, some Shadow Hand maneuvers employ the supernatural cold and darkness of pure shadow.

The key skill for the Shadow Hand discipline is Hide. Shadow Hand associated weapons include the dagger, short sword, sai, siangham, unarmed strike, and spiked chain.


The strength and endurance of the mountains epitomize the Stone Dragon discipline. The methodical and relentless application of force allows a student of this philosophy to defeat any foe. Strikes of superhuman power and manifestations of perfect, idealized force make up the Stone Dragon maneuvers.

Balance is the key skill for the Stone Dragon discipline. The associated weapons for Stone Dragon are greatsword, greataxe, heavy mace, and unarmed strike.


Consciousness is the enemy of instinct. The Tiger Claw discipline teaches that martial superiority can be achieved by discarding the veneer of civilization, along with the higher thoughts that fetter a warrior’s actions. Tiger Claw maneuvers emulate the strikes, leaps, and pounces of animals. When infused with ki power, some Tiger Claw maneuvers also allow a martial adept to take on animalistic characteristics, speed, and bloodlust.

Tiger Claw emphasizes strength and speed, so Jump is the key skill for this discipline. The kukri, kama, claw, handaxe, greataxe, and unarmed strike are the associated weapons for Tiger Claw.


No warrior fights in isolation. Cooperation, teamwork, and leadership can give two warriors the strength of five, and five warriors the strength of twenty. The student of the White Raven masters maneuvers that combine the strengths of two or more allies against a common foe. Shouts and battlecries infused with ki are the signature maneuvers of the White Raven discipline.

Diplomacy is the key skill for White Raven. This discipline’s associated weapons are the longsword, battleaxe, warhammer, greatsword, and halberd.


Most martial powers fall into one of four categories: boost, counter, stance, or strike. Some maneuvers don’t fall into any of these categories, but these are exceptions to the rule. The maneuver categories below refer to swift and immediate actions, a concept presented in earlier books such as Expanded Psionics Handbook and Complete Adventurer. If you are unfamiliar with them, see the Initiation Action section below.

Boost: This category covers maneuvers that allow a warrior to focus himself, summon his ki energy or other source of power, and unleash it through his melee attacks. A crusader who draws a deep breath, shouts an invocation to his god or cause, and then unleashes a mighty attack is using a boost.

A boost is a maneuver that grants a bonus, often on attack rolls or damage rolls, for the duration of your turn. A boost always requires a swift action, usually allowing you to initiate it before unleashing a standard action or a full attack. Some boosts impart additional effects, such as stun or fatigue, to your attacks, and others provide some additional effect on an enemy you have just successfully struck in battle. If a boost affects your attacks, it applies to all of your attacks for the round in which it was initiated, but its effect ends at the end of your turn. A boost’s effect applies for its duration, no matter which weapon you might wield in that round. Even if you switch weapons in the middle of your turn, the effect of the boost applies to your new weapon as readily as the previous weapon. Each maneuver’s description gives you the details of each boost’s effect.

A boost doesn’t have to modify a melee attack. It could provide a bonus on a skill check, to your speed, and so on, but such maneuvers are relatively rare.

Counter: A counter is a fast, usually defensive maneuver that you use to foil your opponent’s actions. A swordsage who dodges to just beyond a rampaging minotaur’s reach is using a counter.

The Setting Sun school features many counters, because it focuses on teaching students to turn an opponent’s strength against him. Counters are immediate actions that you attempt during a foe’s turn. Usually, your opponent must make a specific action, such as an attack against you, for you to use a counter.

Strike: A strike is a maneuver that allows a special attack. A warblade who delivers a single blow that slays an ogre is using a strike. A strike imparts some advantage or bonus over a standard attack, such as extra damage, an additional effect such as blinding a foe, and so forth.

Strikes almost always require a standard or full-round action to complete. Most of them involve a melee attack as part of completing the maneuver. If the attack hits, your opponent typically takes normal melee damage, as well as suffering the effect of the strike. When making a strike, you use your base attack bonus, all attack and damage modifiers, weapon damage, and so forth, as normal. You can make a critical hit with a strike, and in a few cases, a critical hit grants you additional benefits. You do not multiply extra damage from a strike with a successful critical hit. You treat it just as you would extra damage from another special ability, such as sneak attack.

Because strikes allow for a specific form of attack, you cannot benefit from spells or effects that grant you extra attacks when making a strike (such as the haste spell or a speed weapon). You are not taking a full attack action when you initiate a strike, even if its initiation action is 1 full-round action. In addition, you cannot combine special attacks such as sunder or bull rush with strikes, even if you have feats that make such special attacks more potent. However, some strikes enable you to make special attacks as part of their initiation; see the specific maneuver descriptions in Chapter 4 for details.

Stance: A stance is not a maneuver, but a specific fighting method that you maintain from round to round. So long as you maintain a stance, you gain some benefit from it. A swordsage initiate of the Shadow Hand school who creates a concealing shroud of shadow energy while he moves is using a stance.

You can initiate a stance as a swift action. When you enter a stance, you immediately gain its benefit. You continue to gain the benefit of a typical stance as long as you remain in it. Some stances give you a benefit only when you meet certain conditions. For example, a stance might grant a bonus when you move, when you remain in the same spot, or if you attack a stunned or fiat-footed opponent.

You can use a single swift action to end one stance and begin another, or you can choose to simply end your current stance without entering a different one. You continue to gain a stance’s benefits until you switch to a new stance or end your current one. At the start of your turn, you might be in a stance that grants you a bonus on attack rolls. You could make your attacks—gaining the stance’s bonus—then use a swift action to switch to a stance that gives you a bonus to AC.

Your stance ends if you are rendered helpless for any reason. If you later recover, you must use another swift action to initiate your stance once again.

Stances are considered maneuvers for the purpose of fulfilling prerequisites for learning higher-level maneuvers, or qualifying for prestige classes or feats. For example, if a Stone Dragon maneuver requires you to know one Stone Dragon maneuver, and you know the stonefoot stance (a 1st-level Stone Dragon stance), you qualify to take the higher-level maneuver.


Some maneuvers have descriptors that further define them. These descriptors appear on the same line as the discipline of the maneuver.

The descriptors that can apply to maneuvers are cold, electricity, evil, fear, fire, force, good, mind-affecting, teleport, and sonic. Most of these descriptors have no game effect by themselves, but they govern how a maneuver interacts with other maneuvers, powers, spells, or abilities.


This entry gives the martial adept class or classes that have access to this maneuver: crusader, swordsage, or warblade. The line also gives the maneuver’s level within that class.

You can learn any maneuver you like by choosing the Martial Study feat, regardless of class. However, you must still meet the prerequisite of the maneuver.


In addition to meeting the class and level requirements before you can learn a maneuver, you must meet a certain set of requirements to be able to choose that maneuver as one you know. Stances are considered maneuvers for the purpose of meeting a prerequisite to learn a new maneuver.

You can’t learn a maneuver unless you gain a level in a martial adept class, a level in a prestige class that grants maneuvers known, or you take the Martial Study feat.

Maneuvers Known: Some of the more powerful maneuvers require you to learn one or more other maneuvers in the same discipline before they can be selected.


This entry describes the type of action you must expend to activate a martial maneuver. In some cases, you initiate a maneuver, and its effect lasts for the rest of your turn (or beyond). In other cases, maneuvers last only as long as the action required to initiate them (1 swift action, 1 immediate action, 1 move action, 1 standard action, or 1 full-round action).

Swift Action: A swift action consumes a very small amount of time, but represents a larger expenditure of effort and energy than a free action. You can perform one swift action per turn without affecting your ability to perform other actions. In that regard, a swift action is like a free action. However, you can perform only a single swift action per turn, regardless of what other actions you take. You can take a swift action any time you would normally be allowed to take a free action.

Casting a quickened spell or manifesting a quickened power is a swift action, so you can’t initiate a maneuver with an initiation action of 1 swift action in the same round that you cast a quickened spell or use a quickened power.

Immediate Action: Much like a swift action, an immediate action consumes a very small amount of time, but represents a larger expenditure of effort than a free action. However, unlike a swift action, an immediate action can be performed at any time—even if it’s not your turn. Using an immediate action on your turn is the same as using a swift action, and counts as your swift action for the turn. You cannot use another immediate action or a swift action until after your next turn if you have used an immediate action when it is not currently your turn (effectively, using an immediate action before your turn is equivalent to using your swift action for the coming turn).

You cannot use an immediate action if you are currently fiat-footed.


A maneuver’s range indicates how far from you it can reach. Many maneuvers are treated as Personal-range effects, because you initiate the maneuver to give yourself a special bonus or capability for the round.

Standard ranges include (but are not limited to) the following:

Personal: The maneuver affects only you (but might give you an unusual power or ability that affects others for the rest of your turn).

Touch: You must touch a creature or object to affect it. A touch maneuver that deals damage can score a critical hit just as a weapon can, although you do not multiply the extra damage from a maneuver on a successful critical hit.

Melee Attack: The maneuver affects any creature you make a successful melee attack against.

Adjacent: The maneuver affects creatures within 1 square of you. Sometimes you only affect adjacent creatures at the beginning of your turn or at the end of your turn, but other maneuvers might affect any creature you move adjacent to during the course of your turn. See the specific maneuver descriptions for details.

Range Expressed in Feet: Some maneuvers have no standard range category, just a range expressed in feet.


You might have to make some choice about whom your maneuver is to affect or where it will originate. This entry describes the maneuver’s target or targets, its effect, or its area, as appropriate.

Target or Targets: Most maneuvers affect a specific creature or object (or more than one creature or object) that you designate as your target or targets. You must be able to see or touch the target, and you must specifically choose that target.

Some maneuvers can be initiated only on willing targets. You can declare yourself a willing target at any time (even if you’re fiat-footed or it isn’t your turn). Unconscious characters are always considered willing, but a character who is conscious but immobilized or helpless is not automatically willing.

Some maneuvers target you (but they might confer an unusual ability to affect other creatures for the rest of your turn). If the target of a maneuver is “You,” you do not receive a saving throw—you receive the benefit of the maneuver automatically as long as you meet any other requirements for initiating it successfully.

Other maneuvers affect a creature or creatures that you successfully hit with a melee attack, and some affect a creature you successfully hit with a melee or ranged touch attack.

Area: Some maneuvers can affect an area. You might be able to choose the point where the maneuver’s effect originates, but otherwise you usually don’t control which creatures or objects an area maneuver affects.

Burst: A burst affects whatever it catches in its area, including creatures you can’t see. It can’t affect creatures that have total cover from its point of origin. The default shape for a burst is a sphere.

Emanation: An emanation functions like a burst, except that the effect continues to radiate from the point of origin (often you) for the duration of the maneuver.

Spread: A spread effect spreads out like a burst, but can turn corners. You select the point of origin, and the effect spreads out a given distance in all directions.

Effect: Some maneuvers create something rather than affecting things that are already present. You must designate the location where these things are to appear, either by seeing it or defining it. Range determines how far away an effect can appear.

Line of Effect: Maneuvers that affect a target other than you require line of effect. A line of effect is a straight, unblocked path that indicates what an effect can affect. A solid barrier cancels a line of effect, but line of effect is not blocked by fog, darkness, and other factors that limit normal sight.

You must have a clear line of effect to any target that you initiate a maneuver against, or to any space in which you wish to create an effect at range (if your maneuver allows that). A burst or emanation affects only an area, creature, or objects to which it has a line of effect from its origin.

An otherwise solid barrier with a hole of at least 1 square foot through it does not block a maneuver’s line of effect.


A maneuver’s duration tells you how long its effect lasts.

End of Turn: The maneuver’s effect lasts until the end of your turn, then ceases to function.

Instantaneous: The effect of the maneuver comes and goes the instant the maneuver is initiated, though the consequences might be long-lasting. For example, the moment of alacrity boost takes only a swift action to initiate, but it improves your initiative count for the duration of the combat.

One-Round Durations: Some durations are measured as 1 round. You gain the capability to perform whatever special effect or attack the maneuver permits on your turn. Immediately before your action in the round after you initiated the maneuver, its effect comes to an end.

Stance: This duration indicates that the ability is a stance, and therefore ends only when you will it to end, when you become helpless, or when you fulfill a specific condition described in the stance’s description.

Timed Durations: Many maneuvers last some number of rounds or minutes. When the time is up, the energy sustaining the effect fades, and the maneuver’s effect ends.

No Duration: The effect of a maneuver without a duration lasts only as long as it takes you to initiate the maneuver. Some maneuvers “last” less than a full round. Such is often the case for maneuvers that deal extra damage on top of your normal melee damage. For example, a strike with an initiation action of 1 standard action would effectively have a duration of 1 standard action; the effect of the strike is tied to the action of making the attack. When this is the case, no duration entry is given.


Sometimes, a maneuver with a special effect or supernatural augmentation that targets an enemy allows the creature or object to make a saving throw to avoid some or all of the effect. The saving throw line in a maneuver description defines which type of saving throw a maneuver allows.

Negates: The maneuver has no additional effect on a subject that makes a successful saving throw.

Partial: The maneuver causes an effect on its subject, such as death. A successful saving throw means that some lesser effect occurs (such as being dealt damage rather than being killed).

Half: The maneuver deals damage, and a successful saving throw halves the damage taken (round down).

None: In a case where no saving throw is allowed, the saving throw line is omitted.

Saving Throw Difficulty Class: The formula for determining a saving throw DC against a maneuver’s special effect is provided in the maneuver’s description.


Unlike spell descriptions or power descriptions, martial maneuvers don’t have a spell resistance or power resistance entry. Since maneuvers are extraordinary or supernatural abilities, not spells or spell-like abilities, spell resistance does not affect a maneuver.


This portion of the maneuver description explains what the maneuver does and how it works. It begins with a sentence or two of italicized “read-aloud” text that gives players an image of how the maneuver does what it does. If one of the previous lines in the maneuver description included “see text,” this section is where you find the explanation.