Hexblades in Castles & Crusades
By request! An adaptation of the Hexblade for C&C. This adaptation takes the original article whole cloth for some portions, but repositions the order as a C&C optional class.
The Order of the Hexblades
The concept of the hexblade is a master of witchcraft, who relies on a special relationship with his uniquely forged weapon to cast and focus magic through. Hexblades gain their power through dark pacts, and seek to learn power from spirits both malevolent and benign. Some hexblades are good natured and seek to help those around them with their unique gifts; others fall quickly to the potential corruption of the power they seek and walk a darker path.
Hexblades have a loose fraternity of association, for the easiest way to become one is through a practice of apprenticeship to a master. Much like shamans, hexblades rely on knowledge of the spirits and the planes to tease out their magical talents. Some civilized lands may have entire knighthoods or magical orders dedicated to the practice of the hexblades, but in most lands they are reclusive fellows who gather in large groups only on rare occasion.
The concept of the Hexblade started with a class which appeared in Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition first, and later as a warlock variant in 4th edition. Literary and game inspiration for this archetype can be found in the fiction of Adrzej Sapkowski’s “The Witcher,” and similar concepts of a man with a special blade can be found in Moorcock’s Elric novels. I also suggest the Kane stories by Karl Edward Wagner.
Prime Attribute: Dexterity
Hit Die: D8
Optional CKG Advantages: Hexblades advance as wizards, and can take any advantage designed for arcane casters.
Weapons: hexblades are martial warriors and can learn to fight with any weapon, but they must specifically choose a type of sword to serve as their hexblade unless the CK permits otherwise.
Armor: any, but see armored caster, below.
Abilities: spell casting from the Hexblade Spells, Hexblade Bond, Armored Caster, Dextrous Caster
Hexblade Spellcasting: Hexblades are arcane casters and have their own spell lists, from which they can draw their magic. Hexblades begin play with two 0 level and one 1st level spells from the list, and acquire 1 new spell at each level of advancement. Hexblades can otherwise learn new spells as a wizard. At the CK’s discretion a hexblade can attempt to learn a wizard spell not on the hexblade list. Such an attempt can be performed once per copy of the spell (either a scroll or book), requiring an INT check with a CL equal to the spell level + 10. If the hexblade makes the check then he can copy the spell into his own spell book and has learned it; unlike hexblade spells he can’t imbue these in his weapon. In this fashion hexblades are like amateur spell casters, but they never need to make this check on spells specifically on the hexblade list.
Hexblade Bond: An initiate hexblade must procure a unique weapon which he forges or finds on his own. At first level this weapon is a normal blade of his choice forged from cold iron. Later on the hexblade may try to forge a new weapon of more fantastical metals or enchantments. The weapon must be of no common origin, either being made of an exotic metal, being unique in some fashion (i.e. a king’s blade, or the weapon was used in the past to slay a powerful extraplanar opponent) or it must be forged by the initiate himself out of exotic metals and imbued with a sacrifice of 1D6 damage of his own blood during the forging process. If an exotic weapon material is needed, it defaults to cold iron.
Once a hexblade has this weapon, he undergoes an initiation ritual of bonding with the blade. This imbues himself and the weapon with a unique connection; he may now use the blade to channel his magic, and all spells he cast must use the blade as a material component (but he may now substitute his weapon for any normal material component a spell requires, and the blade is never “used up” like normal materials). The hexblade weapon grants a bonus spell slot in which can be memorized an additional spell. The hexblade loses access to those bonus spells so memorized if he loses his blade.
The hexblade also serves as a spell book of sorts; so long as the hexblade has his bonded weapon in hand, he has innate access to all of his learned hexblade spells. He must keep a normal spell book for any regular arcane magic he manages to learn while adventuring (see above).
Does a hexblade need to bond with a sword specifically of some sort? That’s the CK’s call, but the presumption is that the nature of the weapon is highly conducive to channeling magic, and other weapons are not. Alternatively, there could be branches of the order that specialize in hexed axes, pole arms or even hammers and maces.
A hexblade who loses his weapon permanently must restore it with an equally significant weapon. If he fails to do so after one year and one day, he is cast out of the order. For the time he is missing his hexblade he loses his bonus spell slot and is limited to the spells in his spell book. When a new hexblade is forged, however, all of the hexblade’s spells are restored; the idea is that they are still imbued within his own mind and soul, but a hexblade weapon is the key that unlocks them.
Armored Caster: Hexblades learn to cast their spells with armor, and as such are not restricted like wizards in what to wear when they cast spells. However, hexblades who are wearing armor can only use their specific hexblade spells while so encumbered; they are unable to properly evoke any arcane non-hexblade magic while wearing armor.
Dexterous Caster: Whenever a hexblade utilizes a spell which requires INT as a modifier or for an effect, he may substitute DEX if it would give him a better modifier or chance of success. This reflects the fact that hexblades, much more so than wizards, require form, grace and motion to cast their spells.
Hexblade Advancement Charts:
Note: While 200,000 XP/level after 12 may seem generous, this is set lower than the fighter or wizard to reflect the fact that hexblades don't receive many more perks after level 12; they gain level 5 spells at 16th level and level 6 spells at 20th level, so the overall spell casting ability of hexblades has all but plateaued at level 12. Likewise, although hexblades are proficient fighters, they are not nearly as adept at combat as a dedicated warrior, relying instead on their hexblade spells.
Hexblade Spell List:
New spells are in italics.
Arcane Mark, Dancing Lights, Detect Magic, Endure Elements, Light, Mage Hand, Mending, Minor Imbuement
Arcane Imbuement, Identify, Imbued Alignment, Jump, Read Magic, Shield, Sound Burst, Spider Climb, True Strike
Elemental Blade, Enhance Attribute, Hexblade’s Defense, Mirror Image, Protection from Arrows, Scare, Shatter
Bane Weapon, Blink, Dispel Magic, Fly, Haste, Hexblade's Luck, Nondetection, Paralyzing Strike
Dimension Door, Dragon’s Scales, Fear, Fire Shield, Freedom of Movement, Locate Creature, Minor Globe of Invulnerability, Shout, Blood Drinker
Faithful Hound, Holy/Unholy Blade, Passwall, Telekinesis, Teleport, Wounding Blade
Antimagic Shell, Blade Barrier, Guards and Wards, Globe of Invulnerability, Iron Body, Mage’s Sword, Phase Door
A hexblade initiate who reaches 4th level is eligible to attain the rank of apprentice. He must have demonstrated an act of servitude to the credo of his specific order or mentor (which can vary; an evil order may require that he have slain an honest man; a benevolent branch may require that he saved an innocent under threat of harm). Hexblades who eschew titles are considered a form of ronin.
After 8th level a hexblade apprentice may elect to become an adept. Adepts may take on apprentices but are not required to do so.
Hexblades who reach level 12 may graduate from adept rank to master rank. A Hexblade master must have earned a reputation for himself; if his name is known and either feared or respected by a noted ruler or leader of the land, such that the other senior masters of the order feel his reputation is engrained, then he may be entertained for membership at his highest rank. He must then commit one truly great deed, worthy of the skalds to sing about, such as slaying a hydra or dragon, liberating an oppressed kingdom, slaying a corrupt king, or even conquering his own domain. The task may depend on the ethical skew of the hexblade himself. At this level, however, it is his demonstrable proficiency and efficiency, not his ethical leanings, that are most important.
Should the hexblade attain the rank of master, he is required to take on a new apprentice to teach his skills to if he has not done so already.
Hexblade ronin who reach level 12 are unofficially called “silent masters” by other ordered hexblades. Some hexblades seek out these silent masters as they are often known to have spells and secrets unknown to the regular hexblade orders.
Tome of the Fey Courts
Although the Tome of the Hexblade is the grimoire of study for the order, there are rumors of an older tome, written in the lost history of the Fey Court by the elven prince Aritroskis, which contains even more potent secrets. Such a tome is a coveted prize for a dedicated Hexblade, for it contains the secrets of teleportation. This tome include the teleport spell, which any hexblade can learn from studying this tome. It also contains Teleport Without Error and Vanish. The wielder of this tome can cast any combination of these three spells once per day by using the tome.
A weapon crafted of adamantine is impervious to harm, or so it is said. Furthermore, it is said to weigh less and be more nimble in one’s hands. Details on adamantine can be found on page 89 of M&T.
The Hand of Zoromast
There are rumors of this infernal talisman, a mummified hand capped in a gold clasp and chain from the first and most legendary hexblade of a lost era. Rumor has it that a hexblade who wears the Hand of Zoromast around his neck will gain even more impressive fighting talent and a closer bond with his blade. The stories also suggest that Zoromast’s spirit will attempt to possess the wielder, but that a sufficiently strong-willed hexblade can defeat the spirit and tame it to his use.
An ordinary man wearing the Hand will feel nothing, though the spirit may seek to possess him. A hexblade immediately notices that he treats his caster level as 1 higher as a result of wearing the hand. In addition, he discovers that he now innately knows Arcane Imbuement and may cast it once per day for free through the talisman. If he removes the Hand, knowledge of the spell also evaporates.
While worn, the Hand’s spirit will try to possess the bearer. Zoromast’s spirit is equivalent to a malevolent ancestral spirit, a spectre (HP 104, M&T page 75) with one special property: the spectral spirit can seek to possess a target instead of energy draining it; each possession attempt works in place of energy drain, and if it hits the spirit deals 1D6 INT damage. When the target reaches 0 INT the spectre can immediately enter his or her body and take possession. At this point the INT of the character is restored to normal, and the victim is otherwise back to normal, albeit with a permanent +1 attack and damage bonus when wielding any sword, and a keen knowledge of ancient history (any INT check may add level to recall historical events). However, while possessed the bearer develops a very evil and self-serving disposition, and tends to call himself Zoromast a lot.
The artifact will be destroyed should Zoromast’s spirit ever be exorcised or destroyed.
New Hexblade Spells
ARCANE IMBUEMENT, Hexblade 1
CT 1, R touch, D 1 hour/2 levels, SV no, SR no, Comp V, S, M
The hexblade imbues his chosen weapon with magical force, making it a +1 magical weapon for the duration of the spell. This weapon gains an additional +1 magical imbuement for every four levels thereafter, so it is a +2 weapon at level 5, +3 at level 9, +4 at level 13, and +5 at level 17.
BANE WEAPON, Hexblade 3
CT 1, R touch, D 1 turn/level, SV no, SR no, Comp V, S, M
The hexblade imbues his weapon with potent energy against one type of target. Choose one enemy type for the duration of the effect (i.e. orcs, humans, elves, dragons). For the duration of the spell the weapon acts as a Bane weapon of +1 against that target, dealing a base of +1 to attack and damage against all foes and an additional 2D6 damage against the chosen bane type. The weapon improves with every three additional levels of the hexblade; at level 11 it is a +2 weapon; at level 14 it is +3, at level 17 it is +4 and at level 20 it is +5.
BLOOD DRINKER, Hexblade 4
CT 1, R self, D special, SV yes CON, SR yes, Comp V, S, M
Your weapon is imbued with vampiric qualities. Your next weapon attack deals its usual damage plus 1D4 damage per three hexblade levels. You heal yourself for damage equal to the total damage dealt to your target. If you miss your target you do not lose this spell, and it remains in effect until you make a successful strike. This spell fails against nonliving or animated targets.
ELEMENTAL BLADE, Hexblade 2
CT 1, R touch to weapon, D 1 minute/level, SV no, SR yes, Comp V, S, M
This spell imbues a weapon with elemental force (choose one of fire, cold, acid, electricity) and deals an additional 1D6 damage on a strike of that damage type. For every five additional hexblade levels the damage increases by 1D6 (so at level 9 it deals 2D6, at level 14 3D6, and at level 19 4D6).
HEXBLADE’S DEFENSE, Hexblade 2
CT 1, R personal hexblade, D 1 hour/3 levels, SV no, SR no, Comp V, S, M
The hexblade imbues his weapon with the power of arcane defense. The weapon gains the properties of the Sword of Defending, becoming a +1 magical weapon at 2nd level, and gaining 1 level for every four additional hexblade levels thereafter (so +2 at level 6, +3 at level 10, +4 at level 14 and +5 at level 18). As a defending weapon the hexblade then chooses to apply some or all of the magical bonus to attack and damage or armor class each round it is in use.
HEXBLADE’S LUCK, Hexblade 3
CT 1, R personal hexblade, D 10 minutes/level, SV no, SR no, Comp V, S, M
The hexblade imparts a bit of luck into his blade. For the duration of the spell the hexblade may add the weapon’s magical bonus (even one which is imbued by another enhancement spell) to any saving throws he makes.
HOLY/UNHOLY BLADE, Hexblade 5
CT 1, R personal hexblade, D 1 minute/level, SV no, SR yes, Comp V, S, M
This spell imbues the hexblade’s weapon with holy (good) or unholy (evil) force according to the alignment of the caster. The weapon will now deals double damage against foes of opposite alignment for the duration of the effect, and imbues the hexblade with spell resistance of 5+hexblade level against incoming magic (this effect is lost if the hexblade drops the weapon).
IMBUED ALIGNMENT, Cleric 2, Hexblade 2
CT 1, R touch, D 1 turn/level, SV no, SR no, Comp V, S, M
This spell imbues the weapon with the lawful or chaotic alignment of its user. Once aligned, it deals an additional 1D6 damage per strike to targets of opposite alignment. If the weapon is dropped by the user and then grabbed by another character, if that weilder’s alignment is opposite the imbuement then the weapon will deal 1D6 damage to the user per combat round of use until the spell wears off.
IRON BODY, Hexblade 6
CT 1, R personal, D 1 minute/level, SV no, SR no, Comp V, S, M
This spell transforms your body into living iron, which grants you several powerful resistances and abilities.
You gain damage reduction 15 except against adamantine weapons. You are immune to blindness, critical hits, ability score damage, deafness, disease, drowning, electricity, poison, stunning, and all spells or attacks that affect your physiology or respiration, because you have no physiology or respiration while this spell is in effect. You take only half damage from acid and fire of all kinds. However, you also become vulnerable to all special attacks that affect iron golems.
You gain a +6 modifier to STR-based saves and checks, but you take a -6 penalty to DEX as well, and your speed is reduced to half normal. Any efforts as spell cating while in this form have a 50% chance of failure, and abilities to swim and climb are impaired just as if you were clad in full plate armor. You cannot drink (and thus can’t use potions) or play wind instruments.
Your unarmed attacks deal damage equal to a club sized for you (1d4 for Small characters or 1d6 for Medium characters), and you are considered armed when making unarmed attacks.
Your weight increases by a factor of ten, causing you to sink in water like a stone. However, you could survive the crushing pressure and lack of air at the bottom of the ocean—at least until the spell duration expires.
MAGE’S SWORD, Level 6 Hexblade, Level 7 wizard
CT 1, R close 50 ft, D 1 minute/level, SV no, SR special, Comp V, S, M
This spell brings into being a shimmering, swordlike plane of force. The sword strikes at any opponent within its range, as you desire, starting in the round that you cast the spell. The sword attacks its designated target once each round on your turn. Its attack bonus is equal to your caster level + your Int bonus or your Dex bonus (for wizards or hexblades accordingly) with an additional +3 enhancement bonus. As a force effect, it can strike ethereal and incorporeal creatures. It deals 4d6+3 points of force damage.
The sword always strikes from your direction. It does not get a bonus for flanking or help a combatant get one. If the sword goes beyond the spell range from you, if it goes out of your sight, or if you are not directing it, the sword returns to you and hovers.
Each round after the first, you can choose to switch the sword to a new target. If you do not, the sword continues to attack the previous round’s target.
The sword cannot be attacked or harmed by physical attacks, but dispel magic, disintegrate, a sphere of annihilation, or a rod of cancellation affects it. The sword’s AC is 13.
If an attacked creature has spell resistance, the resistance is checked the first time Mage’s sword strikes it. If the sword is successfully resisted, the spell is dispelled. If not, the sword has its normal full effect on that creature for the duration of the spell.
MINOR IMBUEMENT, Hexblade 0
CT 1, R weapon wielded, D see below, SV no, SR no, Comp V, M
You gain a +1 bonus to either damage or attack rolls with your next melee or ranged attack.
PARALYZING STRIKE, Hexblade 3
CT 1, R weapon wielded, D 1 round/level, SV yes, SR yes, Comp V, S, M
The hexblade imbues his weapon with paralyzing force. The next successful strike against a target imparts paralysis for one round per level of the hexblade.
TRUE STRIKE, Hexblade 1
CT 1, R weapon wielded, D see below, SV no, SR no, Comp V, M
You gain temporary, intuitive insight into the immediate future during your next attack. Your next single attack roll (if it is made before the end of the next round) gains a +20 attack bonus. Additionally, cover drops by two grades when attacking (so full equals ½ cover and ½ cover offers no AC bonus against true strike).
WOUNDING BLADE, Hexblade 5
CT 1, R personal hexblade, D 1 minute/level, SV yes, SR yes, Comp V, S, M
For the duration of this spell, the hexblade imbues his weapon with the power to cause unstoppable bleeding in his foes’ wounds. A wounded foe hit with this weapon takes 1D4 CON damage in addition to the usual damage of the weapon. If this reduces the foe’s CON enough to affect its CON modifier to hit points, then hit points will drop accordingly. CON damage is cumulative.
Mage’s Sword, True Strike and Iron Body adapted from the D20 SRD at: http://www.d20srd.org/indexes/spells.htm