The Bastard sword's description:

A bastard sword is too large to use in one hand without special training; thus, it is an exotic weapon. A character can use a bastard sword two-handed as a martial weapon.

Swordsage's Discipline Focus:

Weapon Focus: At 1st level, you gain the benefit of the Weapon Focus feat for weapons associated with the chosen discipline. See the discipline descriptions in Chapter 4.

If I'd choose Diamond Mind discipline, then I'd have Weapon Focus (katana). Katana is basically a masterwork bastard sword.

Prerequisites of Weapon Focus:

Proficiency with selected weapon, base attack bonus +1.

Does it mean that I gain Weapon Proficiency (Katana) along with Weapon Focus (Katana)?

Can a swordsage use a katana (masterwork bastard sword) as one handed weapon without penalites?


2 Answers 2


A swordsage does have bastard sword proficiency, but not the way you mean

As a swordsage, you are proficient with [...] martial melee weapons

A character can use a bastard sword two-handed as a martial weapon.

In effect, the swordsage has “Martial Weapon Proficiency (bastard sword),” but not “Exotic Weapon Proficiency (bastard sword).” This means that, technically, Weapon Focus’s prerequisite is fulfilled. Even without the discipline focus feature, a swordsage could take Weapon Focus (bastard sword) as a regular feat.

Note that

Your character must have the indicated [prerequisites] in order to [...] use that feat.

Technically, the requirement is only “proficiency with selected weapon,” not specifically “proficiency with selected weapon as it is being used,” so RAW you qualify and can use Weapon Focus even when you’re using the weapon in a way that results in a non-proficiency penalty. In that case, you would just take the −4 penalty on attack rolls for non-proficiency, and the +1 bonus for Weapon Focus. A DM may very well block the usage of the feat in this manner, though; I would ask before counting on it.

But a swordsage doesn’t have to worry about that if he’s using discipline focus for this because he gains only the benefit of the Weapon Focus feat, not its requirements. This wording is unusual, and actually quite awkward (does “qualifying for a feat or prestige class that requires Weapon Focus” count as one of the “benefits of” Weapon Focus?), but here at least it clearly means you do not have to worry about requirements for choosing or using the feature.

A swordsage does not have spiked chain proficiency—and this case is more what you meant

If you had asked about a spiked chain, instead of a bastard sword, and had cited Shadow Hand instead of Diamond Mind, then the answer would be a much clearer no.

Bonus feats may be obtained without meeting their requirements. When you do so, however, that just means you get them and can use them despite not meeting their requirements, not that you automatically gain those requirements.

For example, consider a wolf-totem barbarian’s Improved Trip:

A 2nd-level wolf-totem barbarian gains Improved Trip as a bonus feat, even if he doesn't meet the normal prerequisites.

Improved Trip [General]

Prerequisites Int 13, Combat Expertise.

The wolf totem feature that grants Improved Trip allows you the following benefits:

You do not provoke an attack of opportunity when you attempt to trip an opponent while you are unarmed. You also gain a +4 bonus on your Strength check to trip your opponent.

If you trip an opponent in melee combat, you immediately get a melee attack against that opponent as if you hadn’t used your attack for the trip attempt.

I.e. the benefits of Improved Trip. It does not suddenly give the barbarian 13 Intelligence, or the Combat Expertise feat.

In exactly the same way, a swordsage who chooses Shadow Hand gains the benefit of Weapon Focus (spiked chain), but this has nothing to do with the feat’s requirements: he doesn’t have to, nor does he automatically, meet its requirements. Which makes sense, since the feat not only requires proficiency in the spiked chain—which the swordsage hasn’t got—but also BAB +1, which a 1st-level swordsage would not have regardless of weapons chosen unless multiclassed.

The swordsage would be able to use the benefit of Weapon Focus (spiked chain) with Shadow Hand discipline focus even with a spiked chain he is non-proficient in, of course: −4 for non-proficiency, +1 for Weapon Focus.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, if you are profficient with bastard sword then you had some training with it, didn't you? It means, that you have went thorugh training with this weapon. "A bastard sword is too large to use in one hand without special training; thus, it is an exotic weapon." Also, "A character can use a bastard sword two-handed as a martial weapon." However it doesn't mean that "Bastard sword belong to martial weapons category". \$\endgroup\$ May 16, 2016 at 17:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Momonga-sama The bastard sword, and weapons like it, are extremely awkward for exactly that reason. I have elected to skip a lot of the nitty-gritty details and ambiguity, in order to present a clear, straight-forward, usable answer. You can argue that other weird things happen, but this interpretation results in the least weirdness and arguments, in my experience. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    May 16, 2016 at 17:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Isn't all of this kind of moot, since a katana is not a bastard sword and has its own proficiency requirement? \$\endgroup\$ May 16, 2016 at 18:32
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @LegendaryDude In 3.5, “katana” is just a particular design of “masterwork bastard sword.” See Complete Warrior for details. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    May 16, 2016 at 18:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Interesting. Is that one of those things that changed between 3.5 and PF? I always have trouble with that. \$\endgroup\$ May 16, 2016 at 18:34

A creature that gains a feat's benefit only gains the benefit

The swordsage's extraordinary ability discipline focus (weapon focus) says that a swordsage "gain[s] the benefit of the Weapon Focus feat for weapons associated with the chosen discipline" (Tome of Battle 16) (emphasis mine). The benefit of the feat Weapon Focus says, "You gain a +1 bonus on all attack rolls you make using the selected weapon" (PH 102). In this case, the selected weapon is all the weapons of the discipline Diamond Mind (rapier, shortspear, trident, and bastard sword). But the only effect the swordsage experiences from this special ability is that benefit: with those weapons the swordsage gains a +1 bonus on attack rolls.

Thus, a swordsage—that gains proficiency with all martial weapons as a level 1 swordsage—still suffers a −4 nonproficiency penalty with the bastard sword when using a bastard sword one-handed if the swordsage lacks Exotic Weapon Proficiency (bastard sword), but KRyan's correct that there's a gray area: ask the DM if a swordsage that picks discipline focus (Diamond Mind) suffers either a −4 penalty on attack rolls (because of complete nonproficiency with a one-handed bastard sword) or a −3 penalty on attack rolls (because of nonproficiency with a one-handed bastard sword but realizing the benefit of the feat Weapon Focus (bastard sword)—note that this is how this DM would rule).

  • \$\begingroup\$ @LegendaryDude A katana is "functionally a bastard sword" (DMG 144) and consistently put parenthetically without explanation after bastard sword on the list of Diamond Mind discipline weapons (ToB 28, 41, et al.). \$\endgroup\$ May 16, 2016 at 18:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yep. I got confused because in PF the katana got its own proficiency. See comments on KRyan's answer. \$\endgroup\$ May 17, 2016 at 12:27

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