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codexgigas
2006-07-06, 08:18 PM
I know there's another samurai class being PEACHed right now, but I didn't feel right coopting that thread to get people's opinions on the class I came up with for the campaign I'm starting.

Samurai
Known for their matchless bravery and strict code of honor, the samurai were the noble warriors of feudal Japan. In a fantasy setting, the samurai brings that courage and honor to the service of a lord, general, or other leader. A samuraiís honorable actions in combat inspire his allies and bring the blessings of his ancestors and other spirits.
Characteristics: Samurai focus on the use of the daisho, a matched set of katana and wakizashi, and the longbow. They are fierce warriors, though they lack the versatility of a fighter. Samurai dedicate themselves to serving a feudal lord and upholding the code of bushido, and they are known as paragons of lawful behavior.
Alignment: Bushido, the code of the samurai, demands strict obedience to its standards of behavior and honor. Only lawful characters can adhere to this code and call themselves samurai.

Game Rule Information
Abilities: Samurai who focus on the use of their daisho find Strength to be the most important ability. Those who prefer archery benefit from a high Dexterity. The extra hit points granted by a high Constitution are important to samurai, who often find themselves on the front lines in battle. Many of the samuraiís class abilities are based upon his Wisdom, as upholding the code of bushido requires a calm and dedicated mind.
Alignment: Any Lawful
Hit Die: d10
Class Skills: The samuraiís class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge: History (Int), Knowledge: Nobility and Royalty (Int), Ride (Dex), and Sense Motive (Wis).
Skill Points: 2 + Int modifier
Attack Bonus: As Fighter
Good Save: Fortitude and Will

Class Features: All of the following are class features of the samurai.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: A samurai is proficient with all simple and martial weapons as well as al types of armor, but not with shields.

Daisho Proficiency (Ex): In combat, a samurai favors the katana (masterwork bastard sword) and wakizashi (masterwork short sword). Many samurai receive an heirloom set of these weapons, known as the daisho. Due to their familiarity with the katana, samurai receive Exotic Weapon Proficiency (bastard sword) as a bonus feat.

Smite Chaos (Su): Once per day, a samurai may attempt to smite chaos with one normal melee attack. He adds his Wisdom bonus (if positive) to his attack roll and deals one extra point of damage per samurai level. For example, a 13th-level samurai armed with a katana would deal 1d10+13 points of damage, plus any additional bonus for a high Strength or magical effects that would normally apply. If the samurai accidentally smites a creature that is not chaotic, the smite has no effect, but the ability is still used up for that day. At fifth level, and at every five levels thereafter, the samurai may smite chaos one additional time per day, to a maximum of five times per day at twentieth level.

Ancestral Favor (Su): The spirits of a samuraiís ancestors take an active interest in his preservation, as he brings great honor to his family. At second level, the samurai gains a bonus equal to his Wisdom modifier (if positive) on all saving throws.

Weapon Focus: At second level, the samurai gains Weapon Focus as a bonus feat. He may select only from the following three weapons: katana, wakizashi, or longbow.

Zen Archery: At third level, the samurai gains Zen Archery as a bonus feat.

Zen Insight (Ex): The samuraiís meditations upon the virtues of bushido have granted him an improved understanding of the world around him. Once per day, he may apply his Wisdom modifier as a circumstance bonus to any skill check for one of his class skills. He gains an additional use of this ability every five levels.

Iajutsu (Ex): Samurai train in the art of iajutsu, the ability to strike before oneís opponent. At fifth level, the samurai gains the ability to always make a move action and a single attack at his highest base attack bonus in the surprise round, even if he would be otherwise unable to act.

Bonus Feat: At sixth level and again at fourteenth level, the samurai may choose one feat from the fighterís list of bonus feats.

Axiomatic Weapon (Su): Any weapon wielded by a samurai of sixth level or higher is treated as lawfully-aligned for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.

Weapon Specialization: At seventh level, the samurai gains Weapon Specialization in the weapon in which he selected Weapon Focus.

Greater Weapon Focus: At eleventh level, the samurai gains Greater Weapon Focus as a bonus feat in the weapon in which he selected Weapon Focus.

Kamiís Grace (Su): As the samurai progresses down the path of virtue, the kami take a special interest in him. At twelfth level, the kami grant the samurai the ability to add his Wisdom modifier to either his Strength, Dexterity, or Consitution score. Activating this ability is a free action. This ability may be used once per day. Its effect lasts for one minute per class level.

Inspire Greatness (Su): A samuraiís noble devotion to the code of bushido is an inspiration to all those around him. Beginning at thirteenth level, a samurai may use a standard action to inspire greatness in one of his allies once per day, enabling that ally to perform deeds of heroic virtue. To inspire greatness, the samurai must speak, and the ally must be able to hear him. The ally gains two temporary hit dies (d10s), a +2 competence bonus on attack rolls, and a +1 competence bonus on Fortitude saves. These bonuses remain in effect as long as the ally and the samurai are both participating in the same battle. For every three samurai levels after thirteenth, the samurai can inspire greatness in one additional ally (i.e. a 19th-level samurai may inspire greatness in three allies). All allies must be inspired at the same time.

Greater Weapon Specialization: At fifteenth level, the samurai gains Greater Weapon Specialization in the weapon in which he selected Weapon Focus.

Ex-Samurai: A samurai who ceases to be lawful or who commits a grave act of dishonor loses all of his class features and may no longer progress in the samurai class. He regains his class features and the ability to progress as a samurai if he atones for his violations (see the atonement spell, page 201 of the Playerís Handbook), assuming that his lord allows him to atone. Some lords believe that only ritual suicide can cleanse a disgraced samurai of his dishonor.

Like a member of any other class, a samurai may be a multiclass character, but multiclass samurai face a special restriction. A samurai who gains a level in any other class may never again advance as a samurai, although he retains all of his current samurai abilities. The way of the samurai demands constant adherence to the code of bushido.

Herbert_West
2006-07-06, 08:27 PM
Nice job, man.
I like the abilites, and how their alignment fits in with the class. Maybe I can tape this over the one in CW......

TheOOB
2006-07-06, 08:44 PM
The class looks great, I would change all the supernatural abilities to extraordinary however, samurai arn't known for magical skill, plus you want your class to be able to function inside an antimagic field.

Umbral_Arcanist
2006-07-06, 08:54 PM
Well, these things are getting popular,

Yours is pretty good, the smite chaos seems a little odd to me.

Also, you have katana and longbow stuff but not polearm or mounted stuff and from my knowledge of samurai, they used all four quite a bit

I do like your use of wisdom for class abilties.

My main complaint is that it may be a wee bit overpowered (i'm not sure) and that the flavor is more of a paladin of law (instead of good) than samurai

My personal favorite samurai class is linked below, you may want to check out the honor system there and consider adapting it



http://www.giantitp.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl?board=gaming;action=display ;num=1146730940;start=43#43

TheThan
2006-07-06, 09:01 PM
Most of the samurai classes Iíve seen on the forums (and elsewhere) all seem to be based off the complete warrior samurai, which stinks. What I like about this one is that itís a bit different than most of the ones Iíve seen.
With that in mind hereís my critique.

First off I suggest granting them a good will save. Since they are usually strong willed people.

Secondly change the weapon proficiency to katana not bastard sword. The two are not the same and shouldnít be used interchangeably. Itís more of a pet peeve of mine than anything else.

Thirdly, I donít like the smite chaos ability because it too closely resembles the paladinís smite evil ability. The two classes are not the same and shouldnít have similar abilities. It makes it feel like a paladin variant to me. So I suggest removing it in favor of something else, maybe a bonus feat or some other ability. If I think of anything Iíll let you know.

Fourthly, I think the Zen Archery idea is nice but you should replace it with a core archery feat. Seeing as with this you are forced to use Complete Warrior. But some people donít have it and some donít like using splat books.
But I have hit upon a better idea. Instead of granted an archery feat, give the samurai a choice between fighting styles like the ranger has. I suggest the feat trees for archery, pole arms, and mounted combat. Seeing as you already have a feat progression for the katana (weapon focus)

Fifthly, I kind of like the Iajutsu ability. Unfortunately this special ability forces all samurai to have this ability. I would replace it with a bonus toe the Iajutsu focus ability (found in Orental Adventures), or just remove it all together.

Sixthly, Iíd remove the Axiomatic Weapon ability. Because well otherwise it still seems like just a lawful paladin variant.

I like the rest of the abilities you have listed.

Umbral_Arcanist
2006-07-06, 10:05 PM
Yeesh, TheThan you really do hate that whole katana+masterwork bastard sword thing.......


I am curious how do you/would you, in your campaigns, change the katana to make it not just a bastard sword?

RoboticSheeple
2006-07-06, 10:28 PM
Why would someone want to take this class any higher than lvl 13?

Caelestion
2006-07-07, 08:12 AM
A table showing powers by level graphically is always useful. While a katana is mechanically identical to a masterwork bastard sword, do try to keep with the theme. If talking about samurai, use katana :)

Mr Croup
2006-07-07, 09:06 AM
Also, you have katana and longbow stuff but not polearm or mounted stuff and from my knowledge of samurai, they used all four quite a bit


The use of naginata or other "pole" weapons was fairly uncommon actually, as they were seen as inferior weapons. Yari, or spears, were sometimes used, but were more prevalent in the ranks of the common foot soldier.

That being said, I think this is an interesting take, focusing on a supernatural element with the strong tie to Law. I think in a lot of ways it is an interesting alternative to the paladin in an Eastern setting, but I'd rather see the samurai represented by a less mystical option, personally.

My biggest pet peeve with just about every samurai class I've seen is the focus on fighting with two weapons. It was rare, and a rather late development, but since it is a large part of the popular notion of the samurai, I understand why it's so widespread. I'd just prefer to not have it be a part of the core idea of the class.

The White Knight
2006-07-07, 12:44 PM
This is the first Samurai class build I've ever seen in 3.x that I've actually liked. I would certainly reccommend the addition of some higher level class features as opposed to the only benefit being the improvement of earlier ones (correct me if I'm wrong, but levels 16-20 only grant an extra +5 smite damage, an extra smite attempt, and increased duration for Kami's Grace). We don't want to end up with the paladin effect* here, do we?

*Almost every time I've played a 3.x paladin, I've felt compelled to leave the class after 5 levels or so in favor of prestige/multi classing. With the only benefit from later levels being the very gradual improvement of earlier class features, things get boring.

Other than a need to make the higher levels shinier, this looks fantastic. It's not redundant at all, and the mechanics have good flavor. Good work.

codexgigas
2006-07-07, 03:11 PM
Thanks for all the advice everyone. I've gone ahead and added a good Will save, which was something I was considering, but wasn't sure if it would make the class too unbalanced. The campaign setting I'm using is a modified version of OA's Rokugan, using the updated Taint mechanics from Heroes of Horror, so Smite Chaos is probably going to become Smite Tainted, which I think reflects the samurai idea a bit more. As far as the supernatural abilities go, Ancestral Favor and Kami's Grace need to be supernatural, as they represent otherworldly intervention on behalf of the samurai. And smite attacks and Inspire Greatness are supernatural abilities, based on core. It seemed unbalanced to alter them. I'm aware of the katana/masterwork bastard sword debate, but giving that explanation gives a core rules reference to stat the bastard sword.

I'm unsure of other abilities to add at higher levels. Perhaps something like the higher level monk abilities?

Closet_Skeleton
2006-07-07, 09:51 PM
Daisho Proficiency (Ex): In combat, a samurai favors the katana (masterwork bastard sword) and wakizashi (masterwork short sword). Many samurai receive an heirloom set of these weapons, known as the daisho. Due to their familiarity with the katana, samurai receive Exotic Weapon Proficiency (bastard sword) as a bonus feat.

NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO

Is that a sufficient attempt at conveying my frustration at every Samurai wannabe class that has an ability like this.

Samurai NEVER used Katan and Wakizashi at the same time. A Samurai can use a Katana two handed with no penalty with just martial weapon proficiency, he doesn't need Exotic Weapon Proficiency. There is no point in a Samurai using a Katana one handed as the only shield available in Japan was a metal fan. This feature stinks of this being a fix for Complete Warrior Samurai rather than the deserved tearing out of that page of them from that book. I don't remember you actually tearing a page out of a book since it would probably damage some useful text on the otherside. The flavour text you've written isn't that bad as it only implies that they use both Katana and Wakizashi and doesn't mention both happening at the same time but I don't know how close this is to the abominable Complete Warrior text. Why does becoming an Ex-Samurai lose him his Weapon Focus based class features, I understand why he wouldn't be able to wield an Axiomatic weapon but losing skill based abilities makes no sense.

What was wrong with the Oriental Adventures Samurai? It had the flavour of being a Samurai but admitted there wasn't much differance between a Samurai and a fighter. It also had prestige classes for you to customise your Samurai into an unarmoured fighter or a dual-wield fighter.

Why does it need shineyness at high levels? It is a base class, as in either basic (not complecated) or base (you build ontop of it).

Kevlimin_Soulaxe
2006-07-07, 11:11 PM
...as the only shield available in Japan was a metal fan. This feature stinks...

Japan? What is this Japan? There is no Japan in my campaign...Why are you telling me how my campaign works? Well, my "Japan" has shieds because I SAY SO.

Please don't try to tell someone else that your illusion of Japan absoulutely MUST apply to their freakin' base class.

Ahh. The inherent racistness of even having a Samurai or seperate stats for a Katana.

Thray
2006-07-07, 11:15 PM
Japan? What is this Japan? There is no Japan in my campaign...Why are you telling me how my campaign works? Well, my "Japan" has shieds because I SAY SO.

Please don't try to tell someone else that your illusion of Japan absoulutely MUST apply to their freakin' base class.

Ahh. The inherent racistness of even having a Samurai or seperate stats for a Katana.

Heh. "racistness".

codexgigas
2006-07-07, 11:18 PM
Samurai NEVER used Katan and Wakizashi at the same time.

Actually, there was a fighting technique called "niten'ichi" that developed late in the feudal era that used both of the daisho at once. The wakizashi was used for defense. By giving the samurai exotic weapon proficiency as a bonus feat, it frees players up to take this path, if they want to.

Personally, I dislike the OA samurai. It's definitely better than the CW samurai, though. I think that the OA samurai's Ancestral Daisho ability is a bit too powerful; it basically allows a player access to the benefits of the Craft Magic Arms and Armor feat without a lot of the costs (no caster levels, XP costs, don't have to take the feat). Even switching the ability's cost from gold to XP doesn't seem like it fixes the balance problem. I'm allowing the Kensai prestige class in my campaign, which has a similar ability and is better balanced (due to the lower base attack).

As far as higher level abilities go, I was thinking about adding a capstone ability of sorts at 20th level. Maybe a once/day haste effect which lasts for a number of rounds equal to the samurai's Wisdom modifier?

Closet_Skeleton
2006-07-08, 08:14 AM
In theory the Oriental Adventures ability gives no advantage because a DM should be giving out the right ammount of wealth by level of equipment so them spending money to improve their weapon should just mean that they continue to use their ancestral weapon whilst other characters replace theirs with one as powerful as what the Samurai is upgrading his to. The Samurai's only advantage is choice over what his weapon does.

However some DMs including me don't like giving out large ammounts of treasure and want to be careful about what magic items their party has hold of.

Niten'ichi is one rare style that was developed incredibly late and doesn't represent the typical Samurai. If they want Niten'ichi they can take Exotic Weapon Proficiency as a feat. A base class shouldn't have an ability that is useless unless you choose a specific style. That is the sort of focus you get from a prestige class not a base class. The problem I has with the Complete Warrior Samurai was that if you didn't use two weapons you were wasting class features. 3.0 Ranger had the same problem so I was confused that Wizards would release a 3.5 class that had the same problem as 3.0 ranger. Giving this class Zen Archery is another problem since if you happen to have a character with highier dexterity than you've just wasted another class feature.

Giving this class a choice of abilities would fix this.

You might say that the fantasy world isn't Japan, but if you made a class called Ritter I'd probably get annoyed if it didn't in any way represent a German Knight. If you're calling a class Samurai then you're basing it off a Samurai and trying to give it Samurai like abilities. I only mentioned the shields because this class already said it didn't have proficiency with them so it gained no benifit from Exotic Weapon Proficiency unless it dual-wielded. If you weren't trying to make it like a Samurai he would name it after some westurn analogue like Knight or Huskarl. On your same point, why does this class have Zen abilities, Zen is Chinese Buddhism, what if that doesn't exist in my campaign?

Tengu
2006-07-08, 11:04 AM
So there is a problem with the duelist PrC because, if I take it and have int 10 or less, I lose one of the class features?

Samurai (in this variant) is proficient with heavy armor and has many class features based on wisdom. Most of the samurai will have their wisdom higher then dexterity. Zen archery makes sense.

I also do not see what's the big problem with the "wakizashi" part. It's just one line of fluff, they do not receive any two-weapon feats or anything.

Closet_Skeleton
2006-07-08, 12:48 PM
So there is a problem with the duelist PrC because, if I take it and have int 10 or less, I lose one of the class features?

Sort of, I don't really like that class either, I'd rather play a normal fighter or take levels in Duelist.

There isn't a problem with the Wakizashi, just with expecting all Samurai to use a particular style that isn't even a common one. It would be like expecting all medieval knights to use warhammers when despite that weapons effectiveness against other knights a lance and sword would be more common.

Tengu
2006-07-08, 03:00 PM
Both the duelist PrC and the base class (though one of them is called swashbuckler, I just forgot which one) benefit from high int, so both of them have "problems" - just and the base class also receives weapon finesse at first level, which is a wasted class feature if I want it to base on str instead of dex (which has the same amount of sense as giving the Alternate Samurai high dex but low wis).

It annoys me too that all samurai-style classes are fighting with their wakizashi, but the Alternate Samurai is not one of them.

Closet_Skeleton
2006-07-08, 03:17 PM
Yes, but the duelist Prc is a Prc, by entering into it you're volunteering to be a more dexterity based fighter. If you have a bad dexterity you don't become a duelist. Samurai however is a social caste and therefore has nothing to do with being agile or wise, if you get born into a Samurai family as an un-wise man then you become a bad combatant because you'll be taught how to fight with the wisdom you don't have.

codexgigas
2006-07-08, 04:21 PM
I really didn't think that the class would cause this much discussion. The problem with trying to build a samurai class is that it's hard to represent the historical samurai in D&D terms. Honestly, the best way to go is to use the fighter class and select bonus feats that represent a samurai fighting style. However, for my campaign, I'm using the OA base classes. I don't like the OA samurai, and I wanted to make sure that my players had the same amount of options as they would have in a campaign using the PH classes. Therefore I needed to create a samurai class, even though I knew that I wouldn't be able to be completely historically accurate.

In terms of pure mechanics, the class needed something to separate it from a lawfully-aligned fighter, otherwise there would be no reason to adopt it. I knew that I didn't want spell-casting samurai, so I decided to create a class that worked off Wisdom, representing the strength of will required to follow bushido. It made sense to grant the class special abilities that took advantage of that. Zen Buddhism was popular in Japan, especially among the noble caste, so giving the class a "Zen" ability gave it a nice flavor and fit in with Japanese history.

The bottom line is that my samurai class is designed for a fantasy setting which isn't feudal Japan. The class and the setting aren't Japanese, although they take Japanese history, religion, and culture into account. I don't think you can really critique D&D for historical accuracy; after all, when in European history were wizards actually slinging fireballs around? Any player who takes this class will make sure that his character has the Wisdom to use the special abilities and will write a history explaining how his character comes from a samurai family. That's how D&D works; it's not real life, after all.

Finally, if I just gave the class bonus feats, I'd have a fighter. If I'd wanted to do that, I wouldn't have bothered to make the class in the first place.

Tengu
2006-07-08, 05:14 PM
Samurai however is a social caste and therefore has nothing to do with being agile or wise, if you get born into a Samurai family as an un-wise man then you become a bad combatant because you'll be taught how to fight with the wisdom you don't have.

But wisdom in DND represents willpower and the ability to concentrate on a specific task, and (at least in popular image) samurai were taught to develop those skills.

Speaking of which, I think that giving this class a good will progression was not the best idea - since they add wisdom to all saving throws, they add DOUBLE wisdom to will saves - and that is enough to represent their strong spirit, because even with low will save progression they will have this saving throw at huge numbers already - and really broken at higher levels if they have it high. Why not give them the iron will feat instead, to tone it down a little?

But apart from that (and the thing that the class lacks a bit in terms of additional options at higher levels), I like this class very much and it's a much better representation of the samurai then the uber-underpowered CW one, the almost-fighter from OA, or the completely silly one from 3.0 Sword & Fist. Good job.

And no, despite the name, I'm not a huge Japan fanboy.

Umbral_Arcanist
2006-07-08, 06:14 PM
Yes, but the duelist Prc is a Prc, by entering into it you're volunteering to be a more dexterity based fighter. If you have a bad dexterity you don't become a duelist. Samurai however is a social caste and therefore has nothing to do with being agile or wise, if you get born into a Samurai family as an un-wise man then you become a bad combatant because you'll be taught how to fight with the wisdom you don't have.

Sounds like you feel Samurai should be a Prc

Which, inncidently, i think is often not looked at enough as an option when people make a homebrew samurai class

Skyserpent
2006-07-08, 06:23 PM
Isn't Zen Predominantly Chinese?

storybookknight
2006-07-08, 06:32 PM
Buddhism is chinese in origin.

Zen Buddhism is japanese, and among other things, adapted the otherwise peaceful religion of buddhism to things such as swordsmanship and archery.

Closet_Skeleton
2006-07-08, 06:32 PM
Sounds like you feel Samurai should be a Prc

Which, inncidently, i think is often not looked at enough as an option when people make a homebrew samurai class

No, I think Samurai should be a role play thing. A prestige class would be more like "Samurai General" or "Kensei", or "Iaijutsu Master" or "Niten Master" and most of those already exist so you don't have to make one.

Zen isn't predominantly Chinese, its the Chinese flavour of Buddhism but it has been exported enough that it isn't in any way completly focused in China.

This class is okay really, I just don't see why it's needed. If you're using modified Rokugan then you'd probably want to make it Smite Dishonourable since in Rokugan only Crab Samurai spend most of their time fighting taint.

WildBill
2006-07-08, 10:42 PM
Storybookknight: Buddhism is Indian in origin, not Chinese. Zen originated in China.

Kevlimin_Soulaxe
2006-07-13, 02:10 PM
...The bottom line is that my samurai class is designed for a fantasy setting which isn't feudal Japan. The class and the setting aren't Japanese...

How do you like them apples?

Matthew
2006-07-24, 08:16 PM
Why call it a Samurai at all, then?