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I want to create a powerful NPC, who is a fighter/swordsage/master of nine who would specialise in Diamond Mind discipline.

I want him to perform anime-like iai cuts, when he suddenly disappears, shows up again standing a dozen or so feet behind the enemy, sheathing the weapon that has just been drawn and cut within a blink of the eye.

I came up with nearly everything, using Quick Draw in the very beginning, then Quicksilver Motion and Diamond Nightmare Blade to perform blink-cut, then tumble to get out of range and simply move forward as the opponent realises what has happened.

The only problem was to quickly sheathe the katana after performing the iai-cut. I couldn't find anything, that could do it.

If the answer would be a class it won't be an acceptable answer, unless such feature would be gained at its first level.

As the character is already created, there is no way to change its race. I am aware of reincarnation, but it is not the solution.

Materials from Dragon, Dungeon and published third party are fine.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "then 5-foot step to get out of range and simply move forward as the opponent realises what has happened" You cannot 5-foot step ánd move in the same. It is possible to draw a weapon while moving with a BAB of +1. This could be used to sheathe it while walking away. \$\endgroup\$ – Me_Maikey Nov 10 '16 at 14:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ RE: "It is possible to draw a weapon while moving with a BAB of +1. This could be used to sheathe it while walking away." Can you cite an official source for the second sentence, or is that a house rule? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Nov 10 '16 at 14:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ What about initiation tattoo (hard-to-loot magical item) of his clan giving him enough move juice to pull that off? It may work in a way similar to Celerity, forcing a character to drop lines of profound philosophy after the cut - actually just stalling while his thing recharges. Very anime-like. \$\endgroup\$ – Daerdemandt Nov 11 '16 at 10:54
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Officially, this is one of the handful of things the game says that a lone typical creature just can't do with a typical weapon…

As per this excellent answer, in official material there are ways for the typical creature to sort of take a free action to sheathe a weapon, but these are largely workarounds for an option never officially never provided beyond the gnome quickrazor (Races of Stone 154, 155) (45 gp; 1 lb.).

(I've always assumed that the inability to sheathe a weapon as a free action was to prevent overuse of the skill Iaijutsu Focus (Oriental Adventures 58-9, 81-2), which says that an "attack [against] a flat-footed opponent immediately after drawing a melee weapon… can deal [up to +9d6 (or, at epic levels, even more)] extra damage, based on the result of an Iaijutsu Focus check" (81), therefore requiring a newly unsheathed weapon to be sheathed again before the skill can be used a second time with that same weapon. Shockingly, a warrior doesn't usually want to drop her weapon after making that one attack (or, as some argue, her whole round's attacks) and use a different weapon; she'd rather find a way to sheathe and redraw the same weapon. The game knows this, and, even at the bitter end, sheathing a weapon as a free action remained one of the few officially-almost-impossible D&D 3.5 tasks.)

...But third party says, "Meh. Whatever."

With third party material available, this becomes much easier. For example, Paradigm's Arcanis Player's Guide (2004) includes this Open-Gaming-Content feat:

Quick Sheathe [Fighter, General]

You have learned to put items away or snatch them up off the ground in the blink of an eye.

Prerequisites: Dex 13, Quick Draw or Quick Hands.

Benefit: Once per round on your turn, you can sheathe or holster your weapon, or put away a held item, as a free action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity.

Once per round on your turn, you may attempt a Reflex save (DC 15) to retrieve a weapon or item from the ground without provoking an attack of opportunity, as long as the item to be retrieved is in your square. If you fail the save, you still retrieve the item, but you suffer attacks of opportunity as normal. Picking an object up still requires a move action.

Normal: Putting away a weapon or object is normally a move-equivalent action and provokes attacks of opportunity. (187

(The Arcanis Player's Guide also describes the feat Quick Hands (186), but the feat Quick Draw (Player's Handbook 98) is typically a better choice for meeting this feat's prerequisite.)

I am certain other third party texts provide similar options, but this is the first I happened upon.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ When I find them, I'll update this answer with other published third-party feats having a similar benefit. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Nov 10 '16 at 17:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ I really, really doubt that Iaijutsu Focus was a significant consideration for the game’s designers. I mean, +1 anyway since it’s just an aside, but still. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Nov 10 '16 at 17:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Seriously--no, no, really seriously--please provide me a better reason! I can't figure out why the game makes this so hard otherwise. What other reason is there? I mean, was one of the line managers a DM who wanted PCs tossing their weapons aside rather than sheathing them? Who is that dude? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Nov 10 '16 at 17:41
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No.

This seems to be a fairly common question for which there is no good solution. There is simply no rule that allows you to sheathe a Katana for less than a Move action.

There are some alternatives however, although they do not fit strictly fit the brief of the question:

1. Gloves of Storing / Gloves of the Master Strategist

Both these items do the same thing, although the latter is much cheaper (3,600gp instead of 10,000gp) and allows the character to True Strike 1/day.

This device is a simple leather glove. On command, one item held in the hand wearing the glove disappears. The item can weigh no more than 20 pounds and must be able to be held in one hand. While stored, the item has negligible weight. With a snap of the fingers wearing the glove, the item reappears. A glove can only store one item at a time. Storing or retrieving the item is a free action. The item is held in stasis and shrunk down so small within the palm of the glove that it cannot be seen. Spell durations are not suppressed, but continue to expire. If an effect is suppressed or dispelled, the stored item appears

This isn't sheathing the weapon, but you can make it appear and disappear easily, which may be sufficient: Can a Longbow be stored in a Glove of Holding?

2. The Gnomish Quickrazor

The gnome quickrazor is a wrist-mounded blade used in a quick, circular slashing motion that snaps it out to strike, and then puts it back into its rest in one smooth motion. This means that drawing and stowing the quickrazor are both free actions, done as part of the attack, though you are not considered armed with it in between your attacks, during other creatures' actions.

This exotic weapon has the properties you need, but doesn't have the flavour. You could possibly just use the stats, but call it a Katana.

3. Have some help

A slightly tongue in cheek approach that I came across whilst searching for a solution:

  1. Take leadership.
  2. Have your cohort lie prone in your square.
  3. At the end of you turn, drop your katana.
  4. Have you cohort spend his whole turn picking up you katana and putting it back in the sheath.

There's also a slightly less silly version using an Unseen Servant or a Spare Hand.

4. House Rule

If you really want to make it happen, just let players and NPCs with Quick Draw sheathe weapons for free. It probably won't break the game.

5. Sleight of Hand

Okay, this one is a stretch. If you are happy using a Variant Katana or a Paragon Katana (which might be homebrew?) or are willing to consider a normal Katana to be a 'small' object then you can effectively make it disappear using Sleight of Hand regardless of whether you pass your roll or not.

When you use this skill under close observation, your skill check is opposed by the observer’s Spot check. The observer’s success doesn’t prevent you from performing the action, just from doing it unnoticed.

You can hide a small object (including a light weapon or an easily concealed ranged weapon, such as a dart, sling, or hand crossbow) on your body.

... you may perform a Sleight of Hand check as a free action by taking a -20 penalty on the check.

6. Additional Move Actions Having an extra Move action to sheathe your weapon might be sufficient. The Belt of Battle (Magic Item Compendium), spells such as Lesser Celerity on a custom magic item and the Greaves of Aundair (Forge of War) are all potential ways to get a (limited) supply of extra Actions. These all require a Swift or Immediate action to be available however.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Only first paragraph actually answer this question, yet you could hold a bastard sword with one hand, but not in one hand. Gnomish quickrazor is not a katana(masterwork bastard sword). 3 doesn't answer this question, 4 & 5 are are not acceptable as this question doesn't use the homebrew neither houserule tags. \$\endgroup\$ – Momonga-sama Nov 10 '16 at 14:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Momonga-sama Hi, yes, I acknowledged that these were alternatives that you might find interesting. Apologies if they were not useful to you and I've updated the answer to make it clearer. \$\endgroup\$ – Phlyk Nov 10 '16 at 14:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Momonga-sama RE: "[Y]ou could hold a bastard sword with one hand, but not in one hand." That's a really subtle distinction, and one I'm not sure the game makes. If the DM mandates that an item in either glove must be, for instance, covered by fingers if the item is to be transported to the extradimensional space, I'd ask the DM how the example of a lit torch (presumably of typical size) meets that very specific reading! \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Nov 10 '16 at 14:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ Re (4): Actually, combined with Iaijutsu Focus, free-sheathing becomes a very powerful option. Which is why the Gnome Quickrazor is often used in conjunction with it. \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. Nov 11 '16 at 10:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Momonga-sama Answer that says "No, it's impossible" and provides a whole bunch of workarounds to get the same effect is way more useful that simple "No, it's impossible". \$\endgroup\$ – Daerdemandt Nov 11 '16 at 10:39
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Drawing a weapon so that you can use it in combat, or putting it away so that you have a free hand, requires a move action.

In the actions you're attempting to simulate, when you draw the weapon so it can be used in combat, you may still be holding the sheathed katana after having technically drawn it. Reskinning the draw a weapon action this way makes putting the blade back into its sheath not a proper sheathing action but just flavor.

That is, the actual draw action involves yanking the still-in-its-sheath katana from its typical place on your belt or on your back and into your hands, the blade still within the sheath but ready to be whipped out, used, and stored in one fluid motion. This makes the actual sheathe action, instead, placing your already-in-its-sheath katana onto your belt or on your back or wherever.

This would not be a house rule or alternative reading, because you'd still treat it like a RAW katana. You're just reskinning katana to be a katana+sheath.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site. Take the tour. I've edited your answer so that it's a little clearer to me; if I've misunderstood, please, roll it back or edit it further. Also, could this answer be edited so that it include how using this house rule/alternative reading has affected your own games? Thank you for participating and have fun. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Nov 10 '16 at 18:23

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