Book of Nine Swords Special Rules

Book of Nine Swords Rules

This is a list of rules from Book of Nine Swords that are in play in the game. These are listed using OGL licensing for the purpose of having them on hand without going for a book when these things crop up. They do not elaborate upon the rules of the Book of Nine Swords except when implicitly stated.

Skills and Feats

Martial Lore is a skill that is normally available to characters that take the optional classes in Book of Nine Swords. However, in Five Fists of the Middle Kingdom, all characters have access to Martial Lore, Iaijutsu Focus (Oriental Adventures), and Autohypnosis (Expanded Psionics Handbook) as class skills regardless of class.

  • Martial Lore can be used to notice details about a fighting style, or notice where someone might be from or where they have trained based on an informed judgment call due to their dress and the way they fight/handle themselves. This also includes history of martial styles. This is an expanded aspect of the skill as stated in Book of Nine Swords.
  • Martial Lore can also be used to identify specific martial arts styles that are described to the character either in text or vocally.
  • All other aspects of Martial Lore are used in the rules as written.
  • Iaijutsu Focus is used as written in Oriental Adventures.
  • Autohypnosis is used as a form of meditation and can be used without a character having access to psionic abilities.

All characters have access to the Martial Study Feat, which gives them access to a maneuver. This can be taken up to three times. A character with Martial Study does not have the ability to learn new maneuvers without taking the Feat again, or by taking levels of a Martial Adept class (Swordsage, Crusader, Warblade).

Key Skill

A Key Skill is a skill that is specific to a type of Martial Discipline. The key skills for each Discipline are as follows:

  • Desert Wind: Tumble
  • Devoted Spirit: Intimidate
  • Diamond Mind: Concentration
  • Iron Heart: Balance
  • Setting Sun: Sense Motive
  • Shadow Hand: Hide
  • Stone Dragon: Balance
  • Tiger Claw: Jump
  • White Raven: Diplomacy

Key skills can modify certain Maneuvers, or be modified by specific Martial Feats listed in the Book of Nine Swords. A Key Skill receives no additional bonuses, but is considered the primary skill for that particular Discipline. If a Discipline Maneuver references a key skill, see the list above.

Recovering Expended Maneuvers

Maneuvers can be recovered in one of two ways, either through a special action within an encounter, or at the end of an encounter.

Encounter: All characters with Martial Maneuvers recover all of their expended maneuvers at the end of an encounter.

Special Action: Characters who have the optional classes listed in Book of Nine Swords can recover maneuvers during combat by taking a specific action. Crusaders recover their maneuvers whenever no more withheld maneuvers can be granted to him. A Swordsage can recover one maneuver of his choice by spending a full round action. A Warblade can recover all spent maneuvers as a swift action followed by a melee attack or using a standard action to do nothing else in that round (light a torch, draw a weapon, etc.). If a Warblade initiates a maneuver or changes stance in a round, she cannot recover her maneuvers.

Characters can use a special action to recover maneuvers multiple times in an encounter.

Characters with the Martial Study Feat who have maneuvers without taking a level in a Martial Adept class cannot recover maneuvers during combat. They recover any spent maneuvers at the end of an encounter.


Martial Maneuvers are not spells or spell-like abilities and cannot be counters or dispelled (such as by any Dispel psionic abilities). Any specifically “magical” maneuver is considered a supernatural ability. All maneuvers work in a dead magic zone, such as within an antimagic field.

Attacks of Opportunity

Initiating a martial maneuver does not provoke an attack of opportunity.

Gaining Maneuvers

All Martial Adept classes gain maneuvers at the same rate.

Class 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


Maneuvers sometimes provide bonuses to skills, abilities, or armor class. These bonuses do not stack with bonuses of a similar type with the exception of dodge bonuses, as per normal rules. If a bonus is unnamed in the description of the maneuver, it is considered an untyped bonus and does stack.

Initiate Maneuvers

Each maneuver indicates what type of action is used when it is initiated. A Stance is always initiated with a Swift action.

Multiple Disciplines

A Martial Adept is not hampered by a specific Discipline. He or she may take maneuvers or stances from any discipline he or she wants as indicated by the class’ allowed Disciplines (see below). However, each time a Martial Adept receives the Discipline Focus class ability as a Swordsage, she must select one Discipline for each time she receives the class ability; even if a different Discipline is selected at a higher level, the Discipline selected for prior Discipline Focus special abilities does not change. For example, if a Swordsage selects Setting Sun for her Discipline Focus at level 1, then selects Shadow Hand for her Discipline Focus at level 4, her 1st level selection does not change.

Here are a list of Disciplines available by class:

Class Disciplines
Crusader Devoted Spirit, Stone Dragon, White Raven
Swordsage Desert Wind, Diamond Mind, Setting Sun, Shadow Hand, Stone Dragon, Tiger Claw
Warblade Diamond Mind, Iron Heart, Stone Dragon, Tiger Claw, White Raven

A character cannot take Martial Study to take a maneuver from a Discipline prohibited by her class.

Discipline Weapons

A Discipline’s maneuvers can be used with any weapons, however a character will gain specific bonuses listed in maneuvers, class abilities, and Feats if she uses a weapon associated with a discipline. For example, the first level of the Discipline Focus class ability of the Swordsage grants the Weapon Focus feat with all weapons of an associated Discipline. The Disciplines and their associated weapons are listed below.

Discipline Associated Weapons
Desert Wind scimitar, light mace, light pick, falchion, spear
Devoted Spirit falchion, greatclub, longsword, maul
Diamond Mind rapier, shortspear, bastard sword (katana), trident
Iron Heart bastard sword, dwarven waraxe, longsword, two-bladed sword
Setting Sun short sword, quarterstaff, nunchaku, unarmed strike
Shadow Hand dagger, short sword, sai, siangham, unarmed strike, spiked chain
Stone Dragon greatsword, greataxe, heavy mace, unarmed strike
Tiger Claw kukri, kama, claw, handaxe, greataxe, unarmed strike
White Raven longsword, battleaxe, warhammer, greatsword, halberd

Book of Nine Swords Special Rules

Five Fists of the Middle Kingdom somasatori