In Brandon Sanderson's Way of Kings/Words of Radiance, there are a group of warriors known as shardbearers. They wield swords that they can summon and cut through metal/ instant kill. They wear what is essentially power armor. They're awesome.

I have a player who read the Stormlight Archives (the aforementioned books) and would like to put together a character in that vein. Obviously, all of it at once is out of reach, but I was hoping I could find something close.

My first thought was soulknife - Summonable blade, check; potential 'extra powers' from psionics; check. Problems - They only wear light armor and from everything I've read, it sounds like soulknife is an underwhelming class as far as power level goes.

So, is there a class that would better allow my player to make a shardbearer? Criteria:

Summonable weapons with an obviously magical/mystical feel Heavy/power armor - Enhances strength/abilities Extra powers - Anything that they can do in the Supernatural or magic department that would make them feel more like the main characters in Words of Radiance (flight, illusions, etc)

Bonus Criteria (Spoiler for those who haven't read the books)

Since the shardblades/ plate are spren, it would be awesome if the class borrowed their power from some sort of spirit. This could, of course, be re-fluffed as necessary.

Thank you!

  • \$\begingroup\$ Would your player benefit from more elaboration on the cleric/incarnate build detailed below? If so, starting level and expected length of campaign are desirable information. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 20, 2014 at 0:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ We started at level 5 and through the first session, the player is quite happy with the 'shardbearer.' Thank you very much. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 21, 2014 at 4:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd be interested to see a workup of the specific build chosen with reasons why as an answer. Specific experience is always useful. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 21, 2014 at 4:39

3 Answers 3


Take a look at Incarnate. (Make very sure you read the handbook though, as the book itself is horribly written.)

Before I go into incarnate though, there is a literal way, with a shaper, of making power armor. It's certainly cute, and if it fits your desired power level, use it and don't look back.

On the other hand, there's Incarnate:

  • Shapes soul-stuff into blue-glowing armor and weapons.
  • The summoned armor and weapons can be remarkably awesome
  • Excellent, with the right build, at being a tank.
  • Has the capability of shaping flight soul-melds.
  • It's all about enhancing capabilities rather than casting spells.
  • Incarnate Avatar is a literal body-outside-body power armor.

While there are some excellent multiclassing capabilities, it sounds like your player is relatively new to the game, and Incarnum is hard enough to handle as it is.

On the other hand, as an intellectual exercise, let's see how literal we can get with these requirements. The wiki says:

Shardbearer is a term used to refer to a person who holds a Shardblade or Shardplate. A full Shardbearer is a person wielding both Shardblade and Shardplate.

... A Shardblade is a powerful weapon capable of slicing rock and severing souls. ... Shardblades cut easily through most inanimate matter, so long as the blade is kept in motion. They do not cut living flesh; instead the metal fuzzes as it passes through, killing without leaving a mark or spilling blood. It was said that Shardblades sever the soul itself, the only indication of death being that the victim's eyes burned. ... Honorblades are believed to grant some power over the paired Surges (i.e.: Jezrien's Blade grants Adhesion and Gravity; Nale's Blade grants Gravity and Division, etc.).

The armor simply is super-strong buffing armor.

The first option to look for is if we can emulate the soul-slicing element of the blade. While our fall-back plan is to just presume that that's flavour, ability damage or level drain may do the trick. Our best bet here is the game-breaking (we're talking instant-kill lightsabres here after all) shivering touch. The way we're going to do this is divine casting + 3 levels of ordained champion.

Alignment: LN.

Worships Hextor or Heironeous.

The cleric components of this build are a very good thing. Not only does it give us access to shivering touch, but it gives us access to divine power, or "I don't care about my 'real' BAB, thanks." It also completely solves the "caster-like" abilities part of the requirements by... being a caster.

Beyond that, we'll be spending the bulk of our time in the Sapphire Hierarch because of this:

That said, you can do wonders with your spells if you just buff yourself even a little bit. A simple Divine Power+Righteous Might+Holy Sword on your Incarnate Weapon with the Spellward Shirt and Incarnate Avatar active= Demigod-level Attack rolls. It's actually possible for you to sink half of your BAB into Power Attack and still hit with a 10. The sheer number of buffs you have access to is absurd, even by Cleric standards.

Race: Azurin.


  1. Azurin Cleric/1
    • Domains: Law, War. Worship Heironeous for the Longsword favoured weapon because a shardflail sounds funny. We're not going to go for early entry shenanigans, because we're preparing for divine metamagic.
    • Feats: Extend Spell, Shape Soulmeld (Airstep Sandals). Weapon Focus (Longsword) (free)
      • These first feats are completely worthless until later. If this build needs to be viable from Level 1, you may want to juggle domains and feats slightly. Still, airstep sandals are neat, and flight is always awesome, especially this early.
    • Spells. Looking here, we have Command and Lesser Vigor.
    • Equipment. Masterwork Longsword, bag of adventuring supplies, the best heavy armour you can afford.
    • Stats. You want a high Str and a good Wis and Con. You'll want a very good charisma depending on how your DM rules nightstick stacking.
  2. Incarnate/1
    • Soulbind: Incarnate Weapon (because that's iconic for the build and... pretty good, actually)
    • Incarnate Avatar. +1 insight bonus to melee attacks is great especially on top of a +1 longsword of pure law. Having all of these bonuses is a good thing because of the severe MAD you're facing. (a decent strength, a decent wisdom, and a very good constitution.). Still, this is a very neat level.
  3. Cleric 2.
    • Feat: Persist Spell. (It's kind of pointless now, so you may want to go for law devotion instead and retrain later)
  4. Cleric 3.
    • You get access to second level spells here. Divine insight is your friend, as can be Bewildering Substitution.
  5. Sapphire Hierarch/1
  6. Ordained Champion/1
    • Feat: Divine Metamagic. This is the point where the power level of this character starts taking off. And he'll be placing bulk orders for nightsticks. Supply to whatever level the character needs a buff due to playstyles.
    • Free domain: Essentia. (Gained instead of the war domain). The other domains are nice, but if you're planning to go into high levels, there are some nice domain-only spells here.
  7. Ordained Champion/2
  8. Ordained Champion/3 This is a big level. We've mostly been ignoring our meldshaping (despite walking around as a large golden god) to try to power to here as soon as possible. We've lost two caster levels, so this level, we get both channel spell and third level spells (shivering touch.) Ergo, now, you can stab someone and cause 3d6 points of dexterity damage, which is the best "I'm damaging your soul" map the game has. 9..17 Continue with sapphire hierarch. Feats should be chosen according to the various handbooks.

All told, the early levels are extremely fiddly to work around stats and feat wise, but the combination of ordained champion + shivering touch + incarnum weapon + incarnate avatar fits the requirements to a T.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Can folks check my work on the progression? It's been a long while since I've done proper 3.5 builds and I might have missed a bit. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 12, 2014 at 8:30

Psion / Psychic Warrior

My recommendation would be a Gish Psion build or a Psychic Warrior. Since there isn't a penalty for manifesting powers while in heavy armor, you can pull out some heavy armor and stomp around slicing things up pretty well.

Psion's Generally have really crappy Base attack bonuses, however there are PrC's such as Slayer that have perfect BAB progressions with manifester levels thrown in. If you combine these with base levels of Psion or Psychic warrior you can have a swordsman with tons of cool powers that can also wear heavy armor.

The psychic warrior power Call weapon allows you to instantly summon a weapon into your hands of any type. Scythe, sword, axe, you name it. That would fulfill the first criteria.

There are multiple powers in the psion classes that increase your ability scores, the one that immediately springs to mind is Strength of my Enemy. This fulfills the second criteria.

Any psion powers that you don't have access to that you want to customize your character with can be gained via the feat Expanded Knowledge. This will give you access to powers such as flight, teleportation, illusions, ( such as the ability to disappear from the enemy's view such as "Cloud Mind" ) etc.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The soulbound warrior variant of the psychic warrior seems particularly appropriate. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Oct 11, 2014 at 13:41

Create Legacy Items

Details are in Chapter 4 of the Weapons of Legacy book. It is not OGL so I can't explain the process in detail. Essentially, every so many levels the item would get a new ability. I would literally ignore paying a permanent cost as that is the main bad taste that this book leaves in people's mouths. A snippet is below:

Summary: Founding Legacy Items

Base the Shardblade off of this spell:

Black Blade of Disaster

(Spell Compendium, p. 29)

Conjuration (Creation)
Level: Sorcerer 9, Wizard 9
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Effect: Sword-shaped planar rift
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 round/level
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: Yes

As you cast the spell, a large black tear in the universe appears in the form of a crackling ebony sword made of the material of the planes. The blade flies off at your mental command to destroy your foes. You create a black blade-shaped planar rift about 3 feet long. The blade strikes at any creature within its range, as you desire, starting the round you cast the spell. The blade makes a melee touch attack against its designated target once each round. Its attack bonus is equal to your base attack bonus + your Intelligence bonus or your Charisma bonus (for wizards and sorcerers, respectively).

Anything hit by the blade is disintegrated if it fails a Fortitude save, taking 2d6 points of damage per caster level (maximum 40d6), or 5d6 points of damage if the saving throw is successful. The blade can pass through any magical barrier equal to or less than its spell level, but cannot penetrate dead magic areas or an anti-magic field. It can harm ethereal and incorporeal creatures as if it were a force effect.

The blade always strikes from your direction. It does not get a flanking bonus or help a combatant get one. If the blade exceeds its range or goes out of your line of sight, the spell ends. You can direct the blade to attack another target as a standard action.

A gate spell can be used to counter-spell a black blade of disaster. A dimensional anchor spell cast at the blade dispels it automatically. The blade cannot be harmed by physical attacks, but dispel magic, a sphere of annihilation, or a rod of cancellation can affect it. Its touch attack AC is 13.

Base the Shardarmor off of this spell:

Luminous Armor, Greater

(Book of Exalted Deeds, p. 102)

Level: Sanctified 4
Components: Sacrifice
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Touch
Target: One good creature touched
Duration: 1 hour/level (D)
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: Yes (harmless)

This spell functions like luminous armor, except that it imparts the benefits of full plate (+8 armor bonus to AC).

Sacrifice: 1d3 points of Strength damage.


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