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 Neverwinter Nights - Weapon Master Guide

 
   
 
 
Neverwinter Nights - Weapon Master Guide

WEAPON MASTER CHARACTER CREATION GUIDE
for NEVERWINTER NIGHTS + HORDES OF THE UNDERDARK
(c)2004 Barry Scott Will 
Author's Web site: 

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 
License. To view a copy of this license, visit
  http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
or send a letter to
  Creative Commons
  559 Nathan Abbott Way
  Stanford, California 94305, USA.


 ________________________________________________________________________
|                                                                        |
|                          TABLE OF CONTENTS                             |
|________________________________________________________________________|

 [1] Version History
 [2] Definitions
 [3] Weapon Master Class Description
     [3.1] Description
     [3.2] Stats
     [3.3] Bonus feats
           [3.3.1] Weapon of Choice (WM level 1)
           [3.3.2] Ki Damage (WM level 1)
           [3.3.3] Increased Multiplier (WM level 5)
           [3.3.4] Superior Weapon Focus (WM level 5)
           [3.3.5] Ki Critical (WM level 7)
 [4] Requirements
 [5] Class Combinations
     [5.1] Arcane Archer
     [5.2] Assassin
     [5.3] Barbarian
     [5.4] Bard
     [5.5] Blackguard
     [5.6] Champion of Torm
     [5.7] Cleric
     [5.8] Druid
     [5.9] Dwarven Defender
     [5.10] Fighter
     [5.11] Harper Scout
     [5.12] Monk
     [5.13] Paladin
     [5.14] Pale Master
     [5.15] Ranger
     [5.16] Red Dragon Disciple
     [5.17] Rogue
     [5.18] Shadowdancer
     [5.19] Shifter
     [5.20] Sorcerer
     [5.21] Wizard
 [6] Race Choices
     [6.1] Dwarf
     [6.2] Elf
     [6.3] Gnome
     [6.4] Half-elf
     [6.5] Half-orc
     [6.6] Halfling
     [6.7] Human
 [7] Ability Scores
 [8] Weapon Choices
 [9] Skills and Feats
     [9.1] Skills
           [9.1.1] Discipline
           [9.1.2] Heal
           [9.1.3] Intimidate
           [9.1.4] Listen
           [9.1.5] Lore
           [9.1.6] Spot
           [9.1.7] Cross-class skills
     [9.2] Feats
           [9.2.1] Improved Critical
           [9.2.2] Toughness
           [9.2.3] Weapon Proficiency: Exotic
           [9.2.4] Weapon Finesse
           [9.2.5] Ambidexterity, TWF, Improved TWF
           [9.2.6] Blind Fight
           [9.2.7] Power Attack/Improved Power Attack
           [9.2.8] Cleave/Great Cleave
           [9.2.9] Divine Might
           [9.2.10] Divine Shield
           [9.2.11] Combat Casting
           [9.2.12] Knockdown/Improved Knockdown
           [9.2.13] Armor Skin (epic feat)
           [9.2.14] Damage Reduction (epic feat)
           [9.2.15] Overwhelming Critical (epic feat)
           [9.2.16] Devastating Critical (epic feat)
[10] Sample Characters
[11] Credits


 ________________________________________________________________________
|                                                                        |
|                         [1] VERSION HISTORY                            |
|________________________________________________________________________|

1.00 (2004-08-06)
     - First Release


 ________________________________________________________________________
|                                                                        |
|                           [2] DEFINITIONS                              |
|________________________________________________________________________|

If you don't understand these terms, you should probably read the d20 core 
rules and/or the NWN/HotU manuals first; but, I'll try to cover some of the 
basics here.

[2.1] Weapon master or WM
-------------------------
A prestige class available in Neverwinter Nights (NWN) when the Hordes of 
the Underdark (HotU) expansion set is also installed.


[2.2] Prestige class
--------------------
A special class that cannot be selected until a player character has met 
certain requirements.


[2.3] Attack bonus or AB
------------------------
The amount added to an attacker's roll of a 20-sided die (d20) to determine 
if a hit is made.


[2.4] Base attack bonus or BAB
------------------------------
The attack bonus of a character when only class levels are considered 
without counting ability score bonuses or magic enhancements.


[2.4] Armor class or AC
-----------------------
A score that represents how hard it is to hit a character. An attacker must 
equal or exceed a defender's AC with the attack roll in order to score a 
hit.


[2.5] Critical hit or strike
----------------------------
A hit that does more damage than normal; also referred to as a "crit". In 
order to score a crit, a character must first "threaten" by rolling a 
natural roll on a 20-sided die (d20) that falls within the critical threat 
range of the weapon and is also a hit. A second roll is then made. If the 
second roll is a hit, a crit is scored and damage is multiplied by the 
weapon's critical multiplier. If the second roll is a miss, normal damage 
is still rolled.

Example: Barney is fighting Fred. Barney is using a dagger, which has a 
crit range of 19-20 and a multiplier of x2. Barney's AB is +5 and Fred's AC 
is 22. On his first attack, Barney rolls a natural 19. This is good enough 
for a hit (19 + 5 = 24, which is greater than Fred's AC of 22) and the roll 
falls within the dagger's threat range. Barney makes a second roll. If his 
second roll is 17 or higher, which would be good for a hit, Barney rolls 
twice for damage instead of once. If the second roll is 16 or lower, Barney 
rolls once for damage as normal.


[2.6] Critical threat range
---------------------------
The range in which a natural roll on a d20 must fall in order to threaten a 
critical hit. Expressed both as a range of numbers found on a d20 (such as 
20 or 19-20 or 15-20) or as a whole number representing how many chances 
out of 20 a character has of threatening. For example, a crit range of 19-
20 might be referred to as 2. A crit range of 12-20 might be referred to as 
9.


[2.7] Critical damage multiplier
--------------------------------
The number of times to roll for damage if a critical hit is scored. 
Normally, damage is only rolled once. A critical hit means damage is rolled 
two or more times. For example, Fred scores a critical hit against Barney 
using a spear (crit multiplier x3). Fred rolls an eight-sided die (d8) 
*three* times instead of once to determine how much damage is inflicted 
upon Barney.

Note that, any magic enhancements, ability score bonuses and other damage 
bonuses are added to each extra roll. So, in the preceding example, if 
Fred's Strength modifier is +2 he would score 3d8 + 9 (STR modifier x 1.5 
for using two-handed weapon x 3) damage against Barney. If the spear also 
had a 1d4 fire damage bonus, the final tally would be 3d8 + 3d4 + 6. You 
can see how critical hits stack up to big damage very quickly.

Also note the game engine handles all these calculations for you. You can 
see a log of what is happening in the feedback window in the lower left of 
your screen; however, all you really need to concern yourself with is an 
understanding how crits work--you don't have to actually execute all these 
rolls.


[2.8] Improved Critical
-----------------------
A feat that doubles the base critical threat range of the chosen weapon. A 
longsword normally has a crit range of 2 (19-20). In the hands of a 
character with Imp Crit: Longsword, the threat range would be 4 (17-20).


[2.9] Keen
----------
A magic property added to a weapon that doubles the base critical threat 
range of the weapon. A longsword normally has a crit range of 2 (19-20). A 
Keen longsword has a crit range of 4 (17-20).

Note that Imp Crit and Keen can work together, but they do not double each 
other. A Keen longsword in the hands of a character with Imp Crit: 
Longsword would have a crit range of 6 (15-20)--not 8. Imp Crit doubles the 
base 2 and adds it to make the crit range 4. Keen doubles the base 2 and 
adds it to the 4 range to give the final range of 6. Or, another way of 
calculating the enhanced range is to know that Imp Crit and Keen together 
triple the base crit range.


[2.10] Weapon Finesse
---------------------
Normally, all melee attacks use the Strength bonus as a modifier for 
attack. With Weapon Finesse, a character can apply his Dexterity bonus 
instead (if it is higher). In order to do this, the weapon must qualify as 
"light". See the NWN manual description of this feat for a list of weapons 
that qualify. In general, if the weapon is one size smaller than the 
character (i.e. a small weapon in the hand of a medium character), it will 
work with Weapon Finesse. 


[2.11] Fighter-class
--------------------
Any of the melee-oriented core classes: barbarian, fighter, monk, paladin 
and ranger.


[2.12] Tank
-----------
Generic term for a character that is a high-AC, high-damage melee fighter.


 ________________________________________________________________________
|                                                                        |
|                 [3] WEAPON MASTER CLASS DESCRIPTION                    |
|________________________________________________________________________|

[3.1] Description
-----------------
The weapon master is one of the prestige classes introduced in the 
Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark (HotU) expansion set. The 
manual describes the class:

"For a weapon master, perfection is found in the mastery of a single melee 
weapon. A weapon master seeks to unite this weapon of choice with the body, 
to make them one and to use the weapon as naturally and without thought as 
any other limb."

In practice, in the game, taking levels as a weapon master gives you some 
attack and damage (mostly damage) bonuses with a single melee weapon. (I.e. 
you can't be a weapon master with a longbow or throwing axe.) Weapon 
masters are really all about critical hits and critical damage. They have 
extremely stringent requirements, and limited usefulness past seven levels.

Creating a weapon master requires planning from the start, even though you 
might be 16th level before you can take your first level of WM. If you 
don't plan your WM character from the beginning, you're likely to never be 
able to qualify.


[3.2] Stats
-----------
Hit die: d10
Skill points: 2 + Intelligence modifier/level
Class skills: Discipline, Heal, Intimidate, Listen, Lore, Spot
Base Attack Bonus: uses Fighter table
Saving throws: Reflex high, Fortitude and Will low
Additional proficiencies: None


[3.3] Bonus feats
-----------------

[3.3.1] Weapon of Choice (WM level 1)
This feat defines your WoC for all the other WM feats. Only melee weapons 
qualify; i.e. no ranged or throwing weapons. Also, unarmed attack is not 
considered a melee weapon for this choice.

[3.3.2] Ki Damage (WM level 1)
Once per day, you may make an attack with your WoC that, if it hits, does 
maximum damage. This feat is most useful for a high-Strength, two-handed 
weapon fighter.

[3.3.3] Increased Multiplier (WM level 5)
When using your WoC, the critical damage is increased by one multiplier. 
E.g. if your weapon's critical damage is x2, it will be x3 once you have 5 
levels of WM.

[3.3.4] Superior Weapon Focus (WM level 5)
This feat adds +1 to your attack bonus when using your WoC. It increases by 
+1 every five weapon master levels.

[3.3.5] Ki Critical (WM level 7)
This feat increases the critical threat range of your WoC by +2. E.g. if 
your WoC is a longsword, your normal critical threat range is 19-20. At WM 
level 7, your critical threat range will be 17-20. If your WoC is a 
greataxe, your normal crit range is 20; after you obtain this feat it will 
be 18-20. Note how this is a hard +2 to the threat range and not a 
multiplier of the threat range (as the Improved Critical feat and Keen 
magic property are).

As you can see from this list, weapon masters offer little benefit beyond 
level seven. However, that seventh level feat (Ki Critical) is very 
important to a weapon master as shown in the Weapons section below.


 ________________________________________________________________________
|                                                                        |
|                          [4] REQUIREMENTS                              |
|________________________________________________________________________|

The requirements for becoming a weapon master are:

[4.1] Dexterity 13+, Intelligence 13+
-------------------------------------
While not listed with the official requirements, the feats you must take to 
become a weapon master require these minimum ability scores. The 
stereotypical stupid or clumsy fighter cannot become a weapon master. Note 
that these must be your actual, base ability scores. Magic enhancements 
don't count.


[4.2] Base attack bonus +5
--------------------------
You don't even need to worry about this one. No matter how you start, by 
the time you get all the necessary feats, you'll have a high enough BAB.


[4.3] Dodge feat
----------------
This will probably be the first feat you take; it grants a +1 armor class 
(AC) bonus against most attacks. It requires a Dexterity of 13 or higher.


[4.4] Weapon Focus in a melee weapon
------------------------------------
Unless you start as a fighter-type character, you won't be able to take 
this feat at character creation, since it requires a BAB of +1. Weapon 
selection is "critical" to building a WM, and is covered in section [8]. 
Also note that even though unarmed attack is considered melee, it is not a 
melee *weapon*; so, you cannot use Weapon Focus: Unarmed Attack as a pre-
requisite for WM. (You also cannot choose Unarmed Attack as your Weapon of 
Choice.)


[4.5] Mobility feat
-------------------
This feat grants a +4 AC bonus against attacks of opportunity; requires 
Dodge be taken first.


[4.6] Spring Attack feat
------------------------
Nullifies attacks of opportunity as long as you keep moving during combat. 
Requires Dodge and Mobility be taken first.


[4.7] Expertise feat
--------------------
When used, you gain +5 to AC at the expense of -5 to attack. Requires an 
Intelligence of 13 or higher.


[4.8] Whirlwind Attack feat
---------------------------
Allows you to make one attack against every enemy within five feet. 
Requires Dodge, Mobility, Spring Attack and Expertise be taken first.


[4.9] Intimidate skill: 4 ranks
-------------------------------
You must have 4 base points (i.e. purchased at level-up) in Intimidate. 
Bonuses from Charisma or magic are not counted. This is actually one of the 
harder requirements, since most classes do not have Intimidate as a class 
skill; thus, you will most likely find yourself spending eight skill points 
to get your 4 ranks in Intimidate.


 ________________________________________________________________________
|                                                                        |
|                       [5] CLASS COMBINATIONS                           |
|________________________________________________________________________|

Since weapon master is a prestige class, you will have to have at least one 
other class. Any class, or two-class combination, that emphasizes melee 
combat can gain additional usefulness from weapon master levels. Here I 
present an alphabetical list of all 21 other classes in the game, and how 
weapon master levels might fit with that class. Multiclass combinations are 
covered where appropriate.

[5.1] Arcane Archer
-------------------
The only way to make this combination would be to take all your pre-AA 
levels in an arcane class. I suppose a bard/AA/WM would be viable; but, it 
really doesn't make any sense. The AA is the "weapon master" class for 
ranged fighters; so, why combine it with the melee-oriented WM?


[5.2] Assassin
--------------
Like the rogue and blackguard, the assassin gets bonus damage from sneak 
attacks (although they are "death attacks" for an assassin). This damage is 
actually superior to the extra damage from WM levels. Seven levels of WM 
(to fully take advantage of the bonus feats) will cost you 4d6 of bonus 
death attack damage. That is more than the bonuses you can get from being a 
weapon master. I say take the death attack damage and don't mix WM with 
assassin.


[5.3] Barbarian
---------------
Like the weapon master, the barbarian's special abilities are designed to 
dispense devastation. Weapon master and barbarian make an excellent match. 
It will take some time to start getting WM levels, since barbarians have no 
bonus feat slots like the fighter. You'll want to build a high-STR 
character and use a large weapon to take full advantage of both the 
barbarian and WM special abilities.


[5.4] Bard
----------
Bards are arcane spellcasters; yet, they are more suited to melee combat 
than sorcerers and wizards. Weapon master levels can be a great benefit to 
a melee-oriented bard, especially if you combine your bard/WM with fighter 
or red dragon disciple levels.


[5.5] Blackguard
----------------
While the blackguard has sneak attack damage, it is not as great as a rogue 
or assassin. Taking seven levels of WM instead of blackguard will only cost 
you 2d6 sneak attack damage. The bonuses from WM will more than compensate; 
you will have a much better chance of landing crits than sneak attacks.


[5.6] Champion of Torm
----------------------
This is an excellent match. Not only does CoT receive bonus feats like the 
fighter--making it easier to meet the requirements of WM--there are special 
abilities that are designed to increase damage. Combine paladin, champion 
of Torm and weapon master and you can dish out unbelievable amounts of 
damage.


[5.7] Cleric
------------
Cleric and weapon master match up in much the same way as bard and weapon 
master. Clerics are more melee-oriented than bards; and they have the 
ability to cast spells in full armor. WM levels added to a cleric will 
start bringing them up to the level of a fighter-class in combat; but, it 
won't make them a substitute for a pure tank. The big problem with 
combining cleric and weapon master is the cleric's requirement for high 
wisdom. Combine that with the DEX and INT requirement for WM and the need 
for decent STR and CON to be an effective melee fighter (not to mention 
clerics need at least a positive CHA to turn undead effectively) and you've 
got a character that has to be above normal in all *six* ability scores. 
Not an easy task.

One possibility is to use only a few levels of cleric for the buffing 
spells and take the remaining levels in Champion of Torm and weapon master. 
You will need ten levels in cleric to qualify for CoT, and you will have up 
to fifth level spells. Give your cleric the Strength (Divine Strength, 
Divine Power, Stoneskin) domain to emphasize the combat-oriented nature of 
your character.


[5.8] Druid
-----------
Druids have a very limited default weapon selection, and only the scimitar 
is decent for weapon masters. (See the Weapons section below.) There's not 
a lot of point in taking WM levels; you would be better served by taking 
ranger, fighter or barbarian levels if you want more melee ability.


[5.9] Dwarven Defender
----------------------
Combine the defensive abilities of a DD with the offensive abilities of a 
WM and you have created an extremely scary character. Like CoT, this is a 
great combo. You will probably want to use fighter as your base class due 
to the large number of feats you will need to qualify for both prestige 
classes.


[5.10] Fighter
--------------
The fighter is the basic tank. He gets plenty of bonus feats; but, there's 
nothing special to make him stand out. Give him some levels in WM and give 
him a little personality. With all the bonus feats, fighters can get the WM 
bonuses earlier than any other class; a fighter/WM combo will be very 
deadly in the early teens while other combinations will have to wait until 
epic levels before achieving true weapon mastery.


[5.11] Harper Scout
-------------------
The Harper Scout is a pure role-playing class. There's certainly nothing to 
prevent you adding HS to a WM build. There's no particular advantage in 
doing so either.


[5.12] Monk
-----------
You might have a WM build in which you take a few levels of monk for some 
of their early special abilities (Evasion, for example); however, since you 
cannot be a weapon master of unarmed strikes and monks are all about 
unarmed strikes, this is not a good combination if monk is the primary 
class. You could make a kama-using monk/WM, but kamas are very weak.


[5.13] Paladin
--------------
A paladin/WM combination is much like a fighter/WM, though it will take 
much longer to get the requirements for WM. The one big difference is 
Divine Might. Being able to add your Charisma bonus to damage on top of the 
improved damage meted by a weapon master is a deadly combination. Combine 
this with Champion of Torm to get Divine Wrath and also get some bonus 
feats for filling out that req list. A great multiclass character.


[5.14] Pale Master
------------------
Pale master is an enhancement for arcane spellcasters; but not a melee-
oriented one. There's little sense in adding WM to a pale master character.


[5.15] Ranger
-------------
Ranger/weapon master is just like fighter/weapon master except it will take 
longer to get there (no bonus feats). The advantage to using ranger as your 
base class is the free dual-wield feat. If you are planning on dual-
wielding, you save three feat slots you would have to spend with any other 
class (on Ambidexterity, Two-Weapon Fighting and Improved Two-Weapon 
Fighting).


[5.16] Red Dragon Disciple
--------------------------
Red dragon disciple is a melee-enhancement for sorcerers and bards; as 
such, it is a good candidate for WM levels. A bard/RDD/WM combo can be a 
fearsome fighter. The permanent STR increases of an RDD can be devastating 
when combined with a WM's increased chances of a critical and increased 
damage from every crit.


[5.17] Rogue
------------
Taking seven levels of WM instead of seven levels of rogue costs you 4d6 in 
sneak attack damage. Is the trade-off worth it? Maybe, but I doubt it.


[5.18] Shadowdancer
-------------------
Adding WM to a shadowdancer build really depends on your core class. A 
fighter/shadowdancer could probably benefit from WM bonuses. A 
rogue/shadowdancer is depending on sneak attacks and would do better to 
take seven more levels of rogue than seven levels of WM.


[5.19] Shifter
--------------
The shifter is all about changing form (and weapon) as needed. The weapon 
master is all about focusing on a single form/weapon. No point to it and no 
usefulness from such a combo.


[5.20] Sorcerer
---------------
Unless you're building a sorcerer/red dragon disciple or sorcerer is just a 
few levels added on to a fighting-class, don't bother with WM.


[5.21] Wizard
-------------
See [5.20] Sorcerer above, but you can't make a wizard/RDD.


 ________________________________________________________________________
|                                                                        |
|                          [6] RACE CHOICES                              |
|________________________________________________________________________|

There really isn't a race that won't benefit from additional melee 
abilities.

[6.1] Dwarf
-----------
There's nothing bad here. Dwarves excel at fighting and their special 
prestige class--the dwarven defender--is a great match for weapon master. 
Their Constitution bonus (+2) is good for a melee fighter, and their 
Charisma penalty (-2) is a non-issue as far as the weapon master class is 
concerned.


[6.2] Elf
---------
If you intend to make a finesse (high-Dexterity) fighter, elf is a pretty 
good race. The Dexterity bonus (+2) is helpful to push your attack and AC 
up in the early levels. The Constitution penalty (-2) hurts a bit for a 
melee fighter, unless you can get your AC so high nothing can hit you.


[6.3] Gnome
-----------
The gnome suffers from two setbacks: small stature prevents the use of 
large weapons and medium weapons have to be wielded two-handed; and, they 
begin with a -2 penalty to Strength. Both can be overcome, but you're going 
to work for it. The Constitution bonus (+2) is almost a non-issue as you 
will quickly spend the ability buy points you save on Strength.


[6.4] Half-elf
--------------
There are no racial ability adjustments for the half-elf, and the special 
abilities are not particularly useful for a melee combatant. Overall, the 
half-elf is just a slightly weaker human (no bonus feat, no bonus skill 
points).


[6.5] Half-orc
--------------
The Intelligence penalty (-2) hurts, because you have to get that score up 
to 13 to qualify for weapon master levels. However, you can leave your 
Charisma low (also -2 penalty) and concentrate on maximizing your Strength 
bonus (+2) and start with STR of 18 and still have enough buy points to 
push INT to 12 (buy another point at fourth level) and get DEX to 13 and 
CON to 14. Forget about WIS and CHA.


[6.6] Halfling
--------------
The halfling is actually a bit better as a small-race weapon master than 
the gnome. The STR penalty (-2) is still hurtful; but, you can utilize the 
DEX bonus (+2) to build a finesse fighter for whom STR is not such an 
issue. You'll still want to get STR to at least 10 to avoid any penalties 
on damage.


[6.7] Human
-----------
Considering the human-centric nature of D&D, it is no surprise human is the 
best race for building a weapon master. The bonus feat at first level will 
help you fill your WM req list faster. The bonus skill point every level 
will help you buy those Intimidate ranks while not neglecting other 
important skills (such as Discipline and Heal). There are no racial bonuses 
or penalties, allowing more flexibility in building the character.

In order of preference, I would list the races like so:
1) Human
2) Dwarf
3) Half-elf
4) Half-orc
5) Elf
6) Halfling
7) Gnome


 ________________________________________________________________________
|                                                                        |
|                         [7] ABILITY SCORES                             |
|________________________________________________________________________|

For a pure melee specialist that is designed to do as much damage as 
possible, I recommend concentrating on Strength and Constitution. You'll 
also need the required 13 or higher in both Dexterity and Intelligence. If 
you are going to dual-wield and you aren't using ranger as one of your 
classes, you'll need a Dexterity of *15* to qualify for Ambidexterity (a 
very important feat for dual-wielders). That doesn't leave much for Wisdom 
or Charisma at character creation, making certain class combinations 
difficult. Still, you can go "average" (all scores in about the 13 to 14 
range) and work on increasing key stats with magic.

Here are some sample initial ability scores based on certain class and race 
combinations. All these builds are designed to eventually add weapon master 
levels:


[7.1] Human fighter
-------------------
STR 16, DEX 13, CON 16, INT 13, WIS 8, CHA 8
High-STR, high-CON (for hit points) fighter. Wisdom and Charisma have been 
left alone (as they are not important) and DEX and INT are upped only to 
the minimums needed for WM. Level-up ability points can be thrown into STR 
for a monster-damage dealing tank. If you want to dual-wield, start with a 
CON of 14 and DEX of 15.


[7.2] Human paladin
-------------------
STR 14, DEX 13, CON 12, INT 13, WIS 12, CHA 14
This character will take a lot of champion of Torm levels as well as weapon 
master levels, so WIS is left at 12 (for 2nd-level paladin spells). If 
third or fourth-level spells are needed, use level-up ability points to 
increase WIS. STR and CON are lower than the pure fighter in order to boost 
both WIS and CHA; however, paladin and CoT abilities allow the CHA bonus to 
be used for damage (covering up for the lower STR) and AC (preventing more 
hits and thus negating the need for a high CON).


[7.3] Elf ranger
----------------
STR 10, DEX 17 (15 + 2 race bonus), CON 10 (12 - 2 race penalty), INT 13, 
WIS 14, CHA 10
Classic dual-wielder using Weapon Finesse, which you will want to take 
early to offset the low STR. You'll be relying exclusively on crits and the 
extra attacks from dual wielding. Add some of your level-up points to STR 
to help beef up your damage a bit.


[7.4] Dwarf fighter
-------------------
STR 16, DEX 13, CON 18 (16 + 2 race bonus), INT 13, WIS 8, CHA 6 (8 - 2 
race penalty)
This is the same as the human fighter, but you'll get more hit points from 
the dwarf racial bonus. This character can multiclass to a dwarven defender 
in addition to weapon master.


[7.5] Half-orc barbarian
------------------------
STR 18 (16 + 2 race bonus), DEX 15, CON 14, INT 12 (14 - 2 race penalty), 
WIS 8, CHA 6 (8 - 2 race penalty)
I've set this up to allow for dual-wielding (DEX of 15 is required for the 
Ambidexterity feat). If you're not interested in dual-wielding, take DEX 
down to 13 and start with another point in STR (19 total). You'll need to 
spend a level-up ability point on INT before you can take Expertise, one of 
the requirements for WM.


[7.6] Halfling bard
-------------------
STR 10 (12 - 2 race penalty), DEX 18 (16 + 2 race bonus), CON 10, INT 14, 
WIS 10, CHA 14
This character is meant to eventually multiclass to red dragon disciple, 
which will make up for the starting low STR and CON. I've spent an extra 
point on INT at the start as bards have a lot of useful skills and that 
will get you one extra skill point per level. You don't necessarily need to 
raise CHA--bard spells only go to 6th level and you'll get +2 CHA at 10th 
RDD level, which will qualify you for the higher level bard spells.


 ________________________________________________________________________
|                                                                        |
|                         [8] WEAPON CHOICES                             |
|________________________________________________________________________|

The weapon master is all about visiting maximum carnage upon her enemies. 
For that reason, weapon selection is very important. Let's compare weapons 
by average damage, taking into account the possibility of and increased 
damage from criticals.

The following table lists all the base melee weapons in NWN and uses some 
rough calculations to compare them. I apologize for any difficulty reading 
the table, I wanted to squeeze each row into a single line. The list is 
sorted by the last column (Dmg w all 3).

|-----------------------------------------------------------------------|
| Weapon-Size     |     |Crit |      |Dmg w |Dmg w |Dmg w |Dmg w |Dmg w |
| L-large, M-Med, |     |Range| Avg  |KC    |IC or |IC &  |KC &  |all   |
| S-small, T-Tiny | Dmg |&Mult| Dmg  |      |Keen  |Keen  |IC/K  | 3    |
|-----------------------------------------------------------------------|
|Greatsword-L     | 2d6 | 2| 3| 9.1  |11.2  |11.2  |13.3  |13.3  |15.4  |
|Greataxe-L       | 1d12| 1| 4| 7.8  |10.4  | 9.1  |10.4  |11.7  |13.0  |
|Bastard sword-M  | 1d10| 2| 3| 7.15 | 8.8  | 8.8  |10.45 |10.45 |12.1  |
|Heavy flail-M    | 1d10| 2| 3| 7.15 | 8.8  | 8.8  |10.45 |10.45 |12.1  |
|Katana-M         | 1d10| 2| 3| 7.15 | 8.8  | 8.8  |10.45 |10.45 |12.1  |
|Scythe-L         | 2d4 | 1| 5| 6.25 | 8.75 | 7.5  | 8.75 |10.0  |11.25 |
|Dwarven waraxe-M | 1d10| 1| 4| 6.6  | 8.8  | 7.7  | 8.8  | 9.9  |11.0  |
|Halberd-L        | 1d10| 1| 4| 6.6  | 8.8  | 7.7  | 8.8  | 9.9  |11.0  |
|Longsword-M      | 1d8 | 2| 3| 5.85 | 7.2  | 7.2  | 8.55 | 8.55 | 9.9  |
|2-bladed sword-L | 1d8 | 2| 3| 5.85 | 7.2  | 7.2  | 8.55 | 8.55 | 9.9  |
|Rapier-M         | 1d6 | 3| 3| 5.075| 6.125| 6.65 | 8.225| 7.7  | 9.275|
|Scimitar-M       | 1d6 | 3| 3| 5.075| 6.125| 6.65 | 8.225| 7.7  | 9.275|
|Battleaxe-M      | 1d8 | 1| 4| 5.4  | 7.2  | 6.3  | 7.2  | 8.1  | 9.0  |
|Double axe-L     | 1d8 | 1| 4| 5.4  | 7.2  | 6.3  | 7.2  | 8.1  | 9.0  |
|Spear-L          | 1d8 | 1| 4| 5.4  | 7.2  | 6.3  | 7.2  | 8.1  | 9.0  |
|Warhammer-M      | 1d8 | 1| 4| 5.4  | 7.2  | 6.3  | 7.2  | 8.1  | 9.0  |
|Dire mace-L      | 1d8 | 1| 3| 5.175| 6.525| 5.85 | 6.525| 7.2  | 7.875|
|Light flail-M    | 1d8 | 1| 3| 5.175| 6.525| 5.85 | 6.525| 7.2  | 7.875|
|Morningstar-M    | 1d8 | 1| 3| 5.175| 6.525| 5.85 | 6.525| 7.2  | 7.875|
|Short sword-S    | 1d6 | 2| 3| 4.55 | 5.6  | 5.6  | 6.65 | 6.65 | 7.7  |
|Hand axe-S       | 1d6 | 1| 4| 4.2  | 5.6  | 4.9  | 5.6  | 6.3  | 7.0  |
|Kukri-T          | 1d4 | 3| 3| 3.625| 4.375| 4.75 | 5.875| 5.5  | 6.625|
|Club-M           | 1d6 | 1| 3| 4.025| 5.075| 4.55 | 5.075| 5.6  | 6.125|
|Kama-S           | 1d6 | 1| 3| 4.025| 5.075| 4.55 | 5.075| 5.6  | 6.125|
|Mace-S           | 1d6 | 1| 3| 4.025| 5.075| 4.55 | 5.075| 5.6  | 6.125|
|Quarterstaff-L   | 1d6 | 1| 3| 4.025| 5.075| 4.55 | 5.075| 5.6  | 6.125|
|Sickle-S         | 1d6 | 1| 3| 4.025| 5.075| 4.55 | 5.075| 5.6  | 6.125|
|Dagger-T         | 1d4 | 2| 3| 3.25 | 4.0  | 4.0  | 4.75 | 4.75 | 5.5  |
|Light hammer-S   | 1d4 | 1| 3| 2.875| 3.625| 3.25 | 3.625| 4.0  | 4.375|
|Whip-S           | 1d2 | 1| 3| 1.725| 2.175| 1.95 | 2.175| 2.4  | 2.625|
|-----------------------------------------------------------------------|

COLUMNS
-------
Weapon-Size: This is self-explanatory. Each base melee weapon type is 
listed, along with its size. L for large, M for medium, S for small and T 
for tiny.

Dmg: This is the base die (or dice) used to determine damage when a 
character hits with this weapon.

Crit Range & Mult: This is the critical threat range of the weapon and the 
critical damage multiplier using the Increased Critical feat granted weapon 
masters at fifth level. I.e. +1 more than normal for the weapon.

Avg Dmg: This is the average amount of damage done by this weapon per hit. 
No Strength bonuses or other enhancements (such as Weapon Specialization) 
are taken into account. The percentage chance of scoring a critical and the 
extra damage of a crit is part of this figure. This assumes a fifth or 
sixth level WM (no Ki Critical feat yet) without a Keen weapon and without 
the Improved Critical feat.

Dmg w KC: This is the average damage once the WM reaches seventh level and 
receives the Ki Critical feat.

Dmg w IC or Keen: This is the average damage of a fifth or sixth level WM 
with either the Improved Critical feat or a Keen weapon.

Dmg w IC & Keen: This is the average damage of a fifth or sixth level WM 
with both the Improved Critical feat and a Keen weapon.

Dmg w KC & IC/K: This is the average damage of a seventh or higher level WM 
(one with the Ki Critical feat) who has either the Improved Critical feat 
or a Keen weapon.

Dmg w all 3: This is the average damage of a seventh or higher level WM 
(one with the Ki Critical feat) who has both the Improved Critical feat and 
a Keen weapon.

**************************************************************************
PLEASE NOTE
The "average damage" numbers in these columns are just methods of 
comparison. I make no claim that these are actual average damages you will 
inflict during the course of an encounter. These are just numbers that help 
represent the differences between weapons.
**************************************************************************

So, what does all this mean?

First, it does not mean every WM has to use a greatsword or a greataxe. 
Yes, those are the "big guns", but there are a number of other weapons that 
are close enough to put some serious hurt on the bad guys.

Second, if we re-run these numbers for a non-weapon master, we find that a 
seventh or higher level WM is able to average roughly 35% more damage per 
hit than a non-weapon master. The Ki Critical feat is "critical" to a 
weapon master; particularly with any of the weapons that have a high 
multiplier.

For example, a WM using a scythe and without the Ki Critical feat, averages 
a measly 4% more damage than a non-WM (6.25 vs 6.0). With Ki Critical, the 
difference is *45%* (8.75 vs 6.0)! If we allow both characters a Keen 
scythe and Improved Critical with a scythe, the WM still scores 40% more 
damage than the non-WM (11.25 vs 8.0). All weapon masters should take at 
least seven levels to get the Ki Critical feat.

Third, unless you're playing a halfling or gnome (the small races), you 
probably don't want to work with any weapon on the list below the 
warhammer; there's just too much of a drop-off in maximum average damage.

Fourth, a high crit range is better than a high crit mulitplier. The 
bastard sword and dwarven waraxe have the same base damage (1-10); the 
bastard sword beats the waraxe for maximum average damage, even though the 
waraxe has the higher multiplier because the bastard sword will crit more 
often. This means the rapier--which can be used as a Finesse weapon--is a 
legitimate threat in the hands of a WM, outperforming rivals such as the 
battleaxe and warhammer, and coming close to the longsword in terms of 
damage potential.

What, then, should you look for in deciding on your Weapon of Choice?

First, decide whether you are going to focus on increasing Strength or 
Dexterity. High-STR fighters will do much better with one of the large 
weapons (excluding the double weapons, see below) as you will get 50% more 
damage from your STR bonus. E.g. a fighter with a STR of 20 receives a 
damage bonus of 5 when using a katana; but, receives a bonus of 7 (5 x 1.5 
rounded down) when using a halberd. That may not seem like much; but, those 
extra points add up. With a STR of 20, the katana's max average damage is 
18, while the halberd's max average damage is 22.25, a 23% difference.

Second, decide if you want maximum damage or higher armor class. Using a 
large weapon is great for dishing out destruction, but you lose a lot of 
points in AC by not using a shield. While the bastard sword may not measure 
up to the greatsword in terms of raw damage, the bastard sword user will 
have a higher AC from using a shield (probably a large or tower shield with 
magic enhancements).

Third, decide if you want to dual wield. Dual-wielding is fun, but you have 
to do it right. While dual-wielding longswords seems "cool", there are 
penalties associated with using a medium weapon in the off hand. (NOTE: 
These penalties apply to rapiers; even though rapiers count as a Finesse 
weapon, they don't count as small when used in the off hand.) Since you 
only get one Weapon of Choice, and your off hand weapon needs to be small 
or tiny for maximum effectiveness, you're much more limited in your 
selection.

For medium races, the two-bladed sword and double axe are great choices. 
They count as dual-wielding with a small weapon in the off hand, but they 
have much higher damage output than any of the small or tiny weapons. Small 
races--halflings and gnomes--who choose to dual-wield will want to use the 
kukri.

Fourth, determine if you want to spend an extra feat on your weapon. Some 
weapons (such as the scythe, katana and two-bladed sword) require the 
Weapon Proficiency (Exotic) feat, which is not given any class by default. 
Other classes, such as clerics, don't even start with martial weapon 
proficiency. You can always multiclass into something (such as fighter) 
that grants all weapon proficiencies (except exotic), but that might mess 
up your ideal class combos.

Ultimately, your Weapon of Choice is a matter of role-playing your 
character; however, you will want to play to the strengths of the weapon 
master prestige class. That means role-playing your way to selection of a 
high-damage weapon that will emphasize the strengths of your character.

My personal recommendation: Stick with any weapon on that list from the 
halberd on up, unless you are dual-wielding. Weapon masters are supposed to 
be masters of mayhem, and those weapons have a lot of mayhem inside. Even 
small races can use some of the high-damage medium weapons--and since they 
wield them two-handed, they get the extra Strength bonus. For dual-
wielding, use either the two-bladed sword or double axe (or kukri for small 
races).


 ________________________________________________________________________
|                                                                        |
|                        [9] SKILLS AND FEATS                            |
|________________________________________________________________________|

============
[9.1] Skills
============

[9.1.1] Discipline
------------------
The most important skill for a weapon master is Discipline. This skill 
helps resist combat feats such as Knockdown, Disarm and Called Shot. Since, 
as a WM, you will frequently find yourself in the midst of a fracas, you 
definitely need this skill.

[9.1.2] Heal
------------
Heal is also a good skill, as it increases the effectiveness of healing 
kits. If the world in which you are playing has a generous supply of these 
handy items, you should definitely take some ranks in Heal. If you are 
playing on a low magic world with a dearth (or complete absence) of healing 
kits, ignore this skill.

[9.1.3] Intimidate
------------------
Intimidate is an iffy skill. You need at least four ranks just to become a 
WM; but, whether or not you continue taking ranks in that skill is 
dependent on the world designer. Intimidate is really only useful if 
conversation options have been built around it (like Persuade). I would 
suggest getting the four ranks you need, and then waiting to see if it 
shows as an option in dialogue before taking any more ranks.

[9.1.4] Listen
--------------
Listen is another skill that depends largely on the author of the adventure 
you are playing. If the hostile NPCs in the adventure have been modified to 
make use of stealth skills (Hide and Move Silently), then the counter 
skills (Spot and Listen, respectively) are very useful. They are also 
useful on PvP (player vs. player) servers. Take ranks in this only if you 
know you are going to need it to detect stealthy creatures.

[9.1.5] Lore
------------
Lore can save you money getting items identified, and allow you to use 
newfound items immediately (a big boon on a low magic world). In a high 
magic world or world where money is readily available, you may not want to 
put much into this skill.

[9.1.6] Spot
------------
See [9.1.4] Listen above.

[9.1.7] Cross-class skills
--------------------------
Whether you take any of the other skills available depends on your other 
classes and the design of your player. There are no other skills that 
specifically help a WM. A ranger/WM or rogue/WM might want Hide, Move 
Silently and Set Trap skills. A paladin/WM might want some ranks in 
Persuade.


===========
[9.2] Feats
===========
Six of your feat slots are already taken, just filling the requirements for 
weapon master. In the first twenty levels, a player character receives only 
seven feat slots. That does not allow for a lot of other choices. Of 
course, you can augment that by playing human (bonus feat at character 
creation) or taking levels in fighter or Champion of Torm (bonus combat 
feat every even-numbered level). So, what else should you be looking for to 
augment your WM abilities?

[9.2.1] Improved Critical
-------------------------
If you haven't seen the need for this by examining the weapons table above, 
go back and look at it again. The WM depends on getting lots of criticals, 
and doubling the range of your weapon is a big help. This feat is 
especially useful on low magic worlds where you may never be able to obtain 
a Keen weapon.

[9.2.2] Toughness
-----------------
One extra hit point per level is nothing to sneeze at for any character 
that makes her living in hand-to-hand combat.

[9.2.3] Weapon Proficiency: Exotic
----------------------------------
Some of the nicer weapons are only useable by a character with this feat. 
None of the character classes grant this feat automatically, so you will 
have to spend a feat slot on it if you want to wield a scythe, katana, 
double axe, two-bladed sword or kukri.

[9.2.4] Weapon Finesse
----------------------
When using a dagger, handaxe, kama, kukri, light hammer, mace, rapier, 
short sword, sickle or unarmed strike, the character's DEX bonus, if higher 
than the STR bonus, is applied to the attack roll. (The STR bonus is still 
used for damage.) High-DEX fighters should take this feat and use one of 
the melee weapons listed here.

[9.2.5] Ambidexterity, TWF, Improved TWF
------------------------------------------------------------------------
The necessary group of three feats for any character that wants to dual-
wield (including using a double weapon). You can take one level of ranger 
and wear no or only light armor (padded, leather, studded leather or hide) 
to get the Dual-Wield feat, which duplicates Ambidexterity and Two-Weapon 
Fighting, free. Take nine levels of ranger and wear no or only light armor 
to get Improved TWF free.

[9.2.6] Blind Fight
-------------------
Very useful to any character that has to melee in the same area as casters. 
After getting blinded several times in the original NWN campaign, I make 
sure to always take this feat for my tanks (if I can afford it).

[9.2.7] Power Attack/Improved Power Attack
------------------------------------------
In-and-of itself, PA is not that useful. It can be handy for overcoming the 
damage reduction of doors, etc.; but, generally speaking, the -5 penalty to 
your attack rolls far outweighs the benefit of +5 damage. However, PA is a 
requisite for Cleave, which is a good feat. There is no reason in the world 
to take Imp PA on top of all the other feats you must have.

[9.2.8] Cleave/Great Cleave
---------------------------
If you've got the necessary feat slot available, take Cleave (remember, it 
requires Power Attack). Great Cleave is not quite as handy unless you will 
be fighting hordes of low-level enemies; however, it is a prerequisite for 
Overwhelming Critical, which you might want to get.

[9.2.9] Divine Might
--------------------
Requires Power Attack and the ability to Turn Undead. This feat is only 
available to paladins of third level or higher or clerics. Since this 
represents two feat slots (one for PA and one for DM) on top of the six 
needed for WM, you will probably want to throw in some Champion of Torm or 
fighter levels for the bonus feat slots. If you do build a paladin or 
cleric/CoT/WM combo, this is a must-have feat as it adds your CHA bonus to 
attack damage.

[9.2.10] Divine Shield
---------------------
Like Divine Might, above, DS requires Power Attack and the ability to turn 
Undead. It adds your CHA bonus to armor class, which is very nice but not 
quite as useful as Divine Might. If you're building a paladin or 
cleric/CoT/WM that specializes in a two-handed weapon, get this to make up 
for the lack of a shield.

[9.2.11] Combat Casting
-----------------------
If one of your classes is a spellcaster *and* you feel you might find 
yourself casting spells while in combat, this can be a useful feat. 
However, spellcaster/WM combinations should probably concentrate on buffing 
spells used before battle and stick to straight hand-to-hand once the enemy 
is engaged.

[9.2.12] Knockdown/Improved Knockdown
-------------------------------------
If you've got the available feat slots, these two feats are especially 
useful against spellcasters. They can't unload on you when they're flat on 
their back.

[9.2.13] Armor Skin (epic feat)
-------------------------------
This feat adds +2 to your natural AC. Very useful to any melee fighter, 
especially if you use a two-handed weapon.

[9.2.14] Damage Reduction (epic feat)
-------------------------------------
This feat gives the character the ability to ignore the first three points 
of damage taken (3/- damage reduction). It can be taken multiple times, 
increasing the damage ignored by three each time to 6/- and then 9/-. The 
more you get hit (i.e. the lower your AC), the more you need something to 
ameliorate the damage.

[9.2.15] Overwhelming Critical (epic feat)
------------------------------------------
This feat adds an additional 1d6 damage to critical hits by weapons with an 
x2 critical multiplier. The extra damage is 2d6 for x3 weapons and 3d6 for 
x4 weapons. A great feat for weapon masters--if you can afford all the 
prerequisites.

[9.2.16] Devastating Critical (epic feat)
-----------------------------------------
If you score a critical hit against a foe, the foe must make a saving throw 
or die instantly. This feat may not be quite as useful as it seems, 
especially considering the prerequisites. Basically, if you score a crit 
against any creature that is likely to fail the saving throw, the creature 
is probably dead anyway from the massive damage you've just done. Higher-
level creatures are either immune to crits (thus, immune to Dev Crit) or 
can easily make the saving throw.


If you've been able to acquire all the feats needed for weapon master and 
gone through the above list and you *still* have unused feat slots...Knock 
yourself out. Get whatever feats tickle your fancy. Just avoid those feats 
that do you no good: such as Point Blank Shot, Rapid Shot, Improved Unarmed 
Strike, Zen Archery, etc.


 ________________________________________________________________________
|                                                                        |
|                        [10] SAMPLE CHARACTERS                          |
|________________________________________________________________________|

==================
[10.1] Grim Reaper
==================

Grim is an implacable sort of guy. He began his adult life in service to a 
just deity; but...Well, you know, sometimes justice can be taken too far. 
Now well into middle age, Grim has forgotten about things such as mercy and 
compassion. He stalks the land, seeking out any who break the law and 
dispensing quick "justice" with his massive scythe.

[10.1.1] Classes
----------------
Lawful neutral human cleric (12)/champion of Torm (21)/weapon master (7)

[10.1.2] Ability Scores
-----------------------
First level: STR 14, DEX 13, CON 10, INT 13, WIS 15, CHA 12
Fortieth level: STR 24, DEX 13, CON 10, INT 13, WIS 16, CHA 12

[10.1.3] Build Chart
--------------------
|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| Character |        |                    | Ability |                     |
| Level(s)  | Class  |       Feats        | Scores  |        Skills       |
|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|           |cleric  | Dodge, Mobility    |         |                     |
|           |domains | Weap Prof (exotic) |         | Intimidate +4       |
|           |Strength| Weap Focus (scythe)|         | Heal, Lore          |
| 1 - 10    |Death   | Expertise          | STR +2  | Save points for CoT |
|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|           |        | Spring Attack      |         |                     |
|           |        | Whirlwind Attack   |         | Heal, Lore          |
| 11 - 14   | CoT    | Power Attack       | WIS +1  | Max Discipline      |
|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 15        | cleric | Divine Might       |         | Heal, Lore          |
|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|           |        |                    |         | Heal, Lore          |
| 16, 17    | CoT    | Cleave             | STR +1  | Discipline          |
|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
| 18        | cleric | Divine Shield      |         | Heal, Lore          |
|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|           |        | Weap of Choice     |         |                     |
|           |        | Imp Crit (scythe)  |         |                     |
|           |        | Epic Weap Focus    |         | Intimidate          |
|           |        | Epic Prowess       |         | Heal, Lore          |
| 19 - 25   | WM     | Great Cleave       | STR +2  | Discipline          |
|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|
|           |        | Great Strength I   |         |                     |
|           |        | Overwhelming Crit  |         | Heal, Lore          |
| 26 - 40   | CoT    | Toughness*         | STR +4  | Discipline          |
|-------------------------------------------------------------------------|

*Plus whatever else floats your boat.

[10.1.4] Notes
--------------
Grim is a combat specialist who also happens to know a few spells. Since 
he's a divine spellcaster, he can cast in full armor and should wear heavy 
armor and whatever other protective equipment he can find. He'll need CHA-
boosting items, as well as the second-level cleric spell Eagle's Splendor, 
to get the most use from Divine Might, Divine Shield and Divine Wrath. I've 
emphasized STR in this build in order to get the Overwhelming Critical feat 
(requires STR 23+). You'll have up to sixth level cleric spells, choose the 
kind that offer buffs or defensive capabilities: Bull's Strength, 
Stoneskin, etc.; and, can be cast before combat as you won't be much for 
casting while in the fray.

[10.1.5] Alternatives
---------------------
For a spellcaster who happens to be OK in combat, give up ten levels of CoT 
for ten levels of cleric. You'll have to boost your WIS to 19 to get full 
access to your spell list; which means you won't be able to get STR to 23 
and get Overwhelming Critical. In fact, you'll get a lot less feats 
overall. You'll also need to buy ranks in Concentration and probably take 
the Combat Casting feat.


===================================
[10.2] Additional Sample Characters
===================================
Bioware, the developers of Neverwinter Nights, have posted a number of epic 
characters on their Web site at:



At least four of these epic characters (as of this writing) rely on weapon 
master levels, including:
- Versatile Kensai
- Kukri Master
- Damage Adept
- Whirling Death


 ________________________________________________________________________
|                                                                        |
|                            [11] CREDITS                                |
|________________________________________________________________________|

Written and (c)2004 by Barry Scott Will

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 
License. To view a copy of this license, visit
  http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
or send a letter to
  Creative Commons
  559 Nathan Abbott Way
  Stanford, California 94305, USA
 

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