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I'm preparing for a 3.5e game, and I wanted to be a fighter or a marshal, but I also want to be able to use the maneuvers for martial classes. It does not say that one must be a swordsage, warblade, or crusader to use these actions, but it also does not say that one has to be that either. Please help!

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No, but you have to learn maneuvers to be able to use them.

The classes presented in Tome of Battle learn maneuvers automatically as they gain levels, but no other class does. The crusader, warblade, and swordsage are also the only classes who gain a mechanic for recharging their maneuvers during a fight.

Other classes can learn maneuvers by taking the Martial Study feat (ToB p31-32), which teaches you a new martial maneuver each time you take it. You can only take it three times, however, so without taking levels in swordsage, warblade, or crusader, you can only ever have 3 maneuvers known. In addition, these maneuvers will only have an initiator level of half your character level, and you'll have no way to recharge them during a fight. You can also take Martial Stance, which lets you learn any stance you meet the requirements for; there's no limit on how many times you can take it, but you won't meet the requirements for very many stances with just 3 maneuvers. Note that both Martial Study and Martial Stance can be selected with fighter bonus feats.

Generally speaking, if you want to use the maneuvers from Tome of Battle, you should make a character of one of the maneuver-using classes. A fighter who uses his bonus feats to pick up maneuvers is generally going to be weaker than a warblade (in many ways, the warblade is intended to replace the fighter, which is considerably weaker than the other PHB classes unless built just right).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I ran a cleric of Sarenrae that picked up a couple Desert Wind maneuvers in this way to spice up her scimitar combat... \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Jul 22, 2012 at 17:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ You can add a couple maneuvers to make another character a little more exciting, but if you really like maneuvers and want to be using a bunch of them, you pretty much have to take at least a couple levels in a ToB class, and it's best to take the first level in the ToB class at the same level you first take Martial Study or before then, because of how Martial Study maneuvers recharge. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage
    Jul 22, 2012 at 20:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Iirc, both the items and martial scripts also work for gaining access to maneuvers without actual initiator levels. \$\endgroup\$
    – godskook
    Aug 15, 2017 at 17:11

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