In the new Neverwinter Campaign Setting, we are introduced to a brand new playable character class – The Bladesinger. The Bladesinger is a class that mixes both mage and fighter abilities somewhat similar to the Elven Fighter/Mage we had back in Second Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. Now some of you might think, “But we already have a Swordmage from the Forgotten Realms campaign setting that already fills that void.” In a way that is true. In fact, if we look at just the traits for both classes we can see they are very similar. Let’s do that right now, shall we? The Bladesinger is first and the older Swordmage class is right below it.
As you can see, both have a lot in common. The both get +2 to their Will saves, they both have Arcana as their first trained skill and most of the other possible trained skills are the same for both. Both also use arcane magic to enhance their melee attacks. Each class is meant to fight one handed with a bladed weapon. So what are the differences?
Well, Swordmages start with more hit points and continue to get more per each level. Swordmages also have more healing surges per day. Swordmages can also be of any race while a Bladesinger can only be Elven or Eladrin. Swordmages and Bladesingers both use flashy magic attacks, but where a Swordmage emphasizes Strength, Bladesingers are more attuned to their Dexterity statistic. The biggest difference is that Swordmages have features, skills and powers that all revolve primarily around their weapon, while a Bladesinger has that aspect, but it is coupled with arcane spells that Mages/Wizards have available as well. Basically a Swordmage revolves around his weapon but the Bladesinger is basically an AD&D Fighter/Mage, right down to the cantrips and daily spell list. Indeed, there are a lot of things that help to make the Bladesinger stand out as a very powerful class that mixes damage, magic and grace into a very attractive package for any gamer looking to try something new.
Let’s take a look at all the starting Features and Powers for the Bladesinger. Instinctive Attack lets a Bladesinger use Intelligence instead of Strength for their attack and damage rolls. This is an automatic Feature for the class, while the Swordmage has something similar, but it is an optional Feat. Guarded Flourish gives the Bladesinger a +2 AC bonus when it is wearing light or no armour and only hold a one-handed melee weapon. Both of these are great starting first level Features. After all anything that makes it easier for you to hit AND harder for your opponents to do the same often spells the difference between life and death at early levels. Blade Magic is similar to the Swordmage’s personal connection to a specific sword. Here the Bladesinger has a single chosen bladed weapon that acts as an implement for them. When acting as an implement, the Bladesinger gets neither the proficiency bonus nor its non-magical properties. Instead it simply works as an implement. Now if the blade is magical in nature, you can also use its enhancement bonus, its critical hit effect, the properties and the powers. Note that the Bladesinger can also use the blade as both a weapon and an implement and switch between the two on a dime. Finally there is Bladesong. This minor action, gives you +2 to attack and defense rolls, along with a +5 to damage rolls from when you cast it until the end of your next turn. That’s pretty powerful for a Level 1 starting ability.
Then there is the Bladesinger’s Spellbook and where the class starts to get both interesting and complicated if 4th Edition if your first foray into Dungeons and Dragons. First up are the Bladespells. These spells, unique to Bladesingers, have varied effects. These spells trigger when you hit an enemy with a melee attack and, as they are at will, really give your character an enormous advantage. A Bladesinger picks three at will Bladespells from a list of six. They are: Dancing Fire (fire damage) Dazzling Sunray (radiant damage), Frost Bite (cold damage), Lightning Ring (lightning damage), Shadow Sever (necrotic damage) and Unseen Hand (force damage). Personally, I would take Dazzling Sunray, Dancing Fire and Unseen Hand, but you can mix and match them however you want.
Besides Bladespells, Bladesingers also get to pick two Daily Powers from a list of three. The Bladesinger can only have one prepared a day at Level 1, but that increases with time. Your Level 1 Daily Powers are: Burning Hands (fire damage), Chill Strike (cold damage), and Ray of Enfeeblement (necrotic). Chill Strike has the highest damage potential of the three and it causes daze. RoE does the second most damage and causes weakness. Burning Hands is just fire damage but it has a burst 5 spread.
Bladesingers also have Cantrips, which are actually pretty helpful and the only non attack based abilities the class gets at Level 1. There are four Level 1 Cantrips, and you get to have three of them as at-will Powers, bringing you up to SIX at-will Powers at Level 1.The Cantrips are: Ghost Sound, Light, Mage Hand and Prestigitation. The latter is the most useful as you can have three different effects going at once and all the options are extremely helpful. Light is another must have for obvious reasons.
Finally, the Bladesinger gets a SEVENTH at-will Power at Level 1 and it’s Magic Missile. I have to admit, seven at-will Powers, four of which have a specific damage type makes this class exceptionally appealing. The Cantrips help make the Bladesinger to be useful outside of combat as well and it only gets better as you level it up. As you rise through the Heroic Tier, the Bladesinger continually adds new spells to its spellbook and will get extra Daily Powers per day. You’ll get things like Feather Fall, Invisibility, Dimension Door and other spells. You’ll also get the usual ability score increases and special features for the Class like Arcane Strike at Level 3, which lets you get an extra melee attack in as a minor action when you use any Daily Power. The Bladesinger is definitely a VERY combat oriented character and its usefulness as a frontline attack increases exponentially as it levels up.
The Neverwinter Campaign Setting gives full rules for the Bladesinger from Level 1 all the way up to Level 30. From Level 14 on, the class stops standing out from a general Wizard/Mage class and begins to just get spells like any other arcane class. The actual sword and sorcery combo begins to fall apart except for token Features at Level 16 and Level 23. Other than that, it’s just standard magic. This is a bit disappointing, but the class is still very interesting and powerful one. To learn more about the Bladesinger class, you’ll want to purchase the Neverwinter Campaign Setting. You can read our comprehensive review of it here.
If you have the Neverwinter Campaign Setting, by all means, let us know how you designed yours. What Powers you chose, how you set up the stats and more.
Tags: Dungeons & Dragons