The Disciples of the Sanguine Way
The phrase conjures up mental images of cultists making humanoid sacrifices to a dark god or spilling their own blood to power their tainted spells. However, despite the fact that blood magic, called maho in Rokugan, has vile connotations, blood isn't inherently evil; one can spill one's own or another's blood for good, such as bloodletting to remove poison if there is no shugenja close enough to cure it or becoming blood brothers with a trusted fellow samurai. The Disciples of the Sanguine Way follows this interpretation, teaching its adherents that blood is simply a source of powerful ki, as icky or dark as it might seem, and its use for good or evil is the choice of the one through whose veins it flows.
Mystic of the Pulsing Veins (Shugenja)
Air, earth, fire, and water are the most commonly-known elements, but in truth they are simply four of the many elements to which a shugenja might devote himself. Why not metal, or wood...or blood? Orders practicing the mystical arts of wood and metal are few and far between, but the Disciples of the Sanguine Way are happy to teach the mysteries of the Order of the Pulsing Veins to any shugenja who seeks that knowledge.
To take a Pulsing Veins substitution level, a character must be a member of the Disciples of the Sanguine Way or find a shugenja trained by them to teach him, must possess blood, and must be about to take his 1st, 4th, or 8th level of shugenja.
Pulsing Veins substitution levels have the class skills of the standard shugenja class plus Autohypnosis.
Skill Points at Each Level
: 4 + Int modifier (or four times this number as a beginning character).
All the following are class features of the Pulsing Veins substitution levels.
Shugenjas of the Order of the Pulsing Veins learn water and fire magic primarily, drawing upon the healing powers of the literal liquid flowing through their veins and the fiery passion of figurative boiling blood to work their magic. At 1st level, a shugenja of this Order focuses on both water and fire magic, becoming able to choose either water or fire spells for their order spells known despite the two elements normally being opposed but losing access to both air and earth spells in return
In addition, he must choose the Order of the Pulsing Veins to be his elemental order:
Order of the Pulsing Veins spells
1blade of bloodPHB2
7extract blood elementalSpC
(as extract water elementalSpC
, but 1 blood elemental
is extracted per size category above Small and it lasts for 1 round/level)
This substitution feature augments the standard shugenja's Element Focus class feature.
Sense Blood (Sp):
Where most shugenjas gain the ability to listen to the elements of the world around them, shugenjas of the Order of the Pulsing Veins have ears only for the rhythm of pulsing veins. This focused perception is less useful, but also less strenuous, relative to sensing the elements: the shugenja may now choose to sense blood in addition to the four elements, but sensing blood may be done at will rather than consuming a daily use of sense elements
. In addition, the shugenja gains a +4 bonus on Listen checks against creatures with blood.
The shugenja's magical powers fuel these mystical senses. He permanently decreases his number of 2nd level spells per day by 1 and loses the 1 non-order 2nd level spell gained at 4th level. This substitution feature augments the standard shugenja's sense elements
class feature and replaces the spell known and spell per day as described above.
A shugenja must substitute a drop of blood for a spells material component or focus, if any. He may use his own blood or someone else's, at his option. If he uses his own, the minor knife cut to draw the requisite blood is a free action that becomes a normal part of casting the spell. The shugenja does not need to make a Concentration check to complete the spell, despite the wound. Using this ability deals the shugenja 1 point of damage; this damage may not be prevented through DR or any other means. Substituting blood for a costly material component requires drawing a greater amount of blood, according to the table below. When using blood to replace a costly component, the shugenja must make a Concentration check (DC 10 + damage taken + spell level) to successfully cast the spell.
|Component Cost (gp)||Damage Dealt|
The shugenja's magical powers infuse his blood to grant him this ability. He permanently decreases his number of 4th level spells per day by 1 and loses the 1 non-order 4th level spell gained at 8th level. This substitution feature replaces only the spell known and spell per day as described above.
Table: Pulsing Veins Substitution Levels
|1st||+0||+0||+0||+2||Blood Focus, sense elements||Same as shugenja|
|4th||+2||+1||+1||+4||sense blood||Same as shugenja|
|8th||+4||+2||+2||+6||Maho Component||Same as shugenja|
Shinobi of the Thousand Cuts (Ninja)
Ninjas are renowned for their quick, silent assassinations and high-jumping athletic ability, but the Disciples of the Sanguine Way teach the more martially-inclined among them that dozens of minor bleeding wounds can be more effective than a single solid thrust and that all the mystery and acrobatics in the world won't make up for a bit of arsenic in a glass of wine. Thus, ninjas trained under the Disciples focus less on sneaking themselves into enemy territory and extracting themselves safely and more on sneaking poison into enemy bloodstreams and extracting blood painfully.
To take a Thousand Cuts substitution level, a character must be a member of the Disciples of the Sanguine Way or find a ninja trained by them to teach him, must possess blood, and must be about to take his 1st, 4th, or 7th level of ninja.
Thousand Cuts substitution levels have the class skills of the standard ninja class, with the exception that Climb and Jump are replaced by Autohypnosis and Heal.
Skill Points at Each Level
: 6 + Int modifier (or four times this number as a beginning character).
All the following are class features of the Thousand Cuts substitution levels.
Bloodletting Strike (Ex):
The first time in a given round the ninja executes a successful sudden strike with a light slashing or piercing weapon, he may reduce his number of sudden strike damage dice by 1 to inflict a bleeding wound. His target loses 3 hit points at the start of its turn on the next round and every round thereafter until the bleeding is stopped by a Heal check (DC 10 + ninja's Dex modifier) or the application of magical healing. Multiple bleeding wounds are cumulative, with each additional wound increasing the Heal check DC by +4 or requiring a separate healing spell to stop each one. At 6th, 12th, and 18th level, the number of successful sudden strikes to which the ability may apply each round increases by one, and at 3rd level and above the ninja may trade out multiple dice of sudden strike damage for extra bleeding damage on a 1d6-for-3 basis (so for instance a 13th level ninja who trades out all of his sudden strike dice for bleeding damage inflicts a bleeding strike with the first three successful sudden strikes he makes in a round and each bleeds for 21 damage per round). This ability does not affect a creature that does not possess blood.
This substitution feature augments the standard ninja's sudden strike class feature and replaces the trapfinding and Acrobatics class features.
Poison in the Blood (Ex):
Blood calls to blood, and as a Sanguine Way ninja's poison, more often than not, is the ninja's own blood refined by his ki
into one of many lethal concoctions, the poisoned tip of a ninja's blade finds the slightest purchase in a creature's hide where another's would be turned aside. As a swift action, a ninja may spend 1 ki
point and deal himself 3 damage to draw blood from a small wound, turn it to poison, and apply it to a light piercing or slashing weapon. The poison chosen may be any contact or injury poison with a DC less than or equal to 10 + ninja level or with a market price of 100gp per ninja level, whichever is lower. In addition, if the ninja misses a creature's AC by an amount less than or equal to its armor, shield, and natural armor bonuses to AC or his damage is reduced to 0 by DR, any contact or injury poison on his weapon is inflicted on his target in spite of that. Finally, as long as he has at least one daily use remaining in his ki
pool, the ninja is immune to any poison he could draw from his blood with this ability.
This substitution feature replaces the standard ninja's Great Leap class feature.
Flowing Ki (Su):
The ninja's ki
flows constantly through his veins; should he ever exhaust his mystical strength, a prick of the skin will bring more ki
bubbling to the surface from the wellspring of his soul. Whenever a ninja's ki
pool is empty, he may take 2 Con damage as a standard action to replenish his pool by an amount equal to one-half his class level plus his (newly-reduced) Constitution modifier. If the ninja is immune to Constitution damage or is otherwise prevented from taking the Constitution damage, this ability has no effect. After having replenished his ki
pool via this feature, for the rest of the day he gains a +2 bonus on Fortitude saves as well as Will saves for having at least one daily use in his ki
This substitution feature augments the standard ninja's Ki Power class feature and replaces the Speed Climb feature.
Table: Thousand Cuts Substitution Levels
|1st||+0||+0||+2||+0||Ki power, sudden strike +1d6, Bloodletting Strike|
|4th||+3||+1||+4||+1||Poison in the Blood|
Warrior of the Bloodstained Daisho (Samurai)
The study of iaijutsu is common among samurai, allowing them to defeat their foes within instants of their swords leaving their sheathes with a minimum of bloodshed; such duels are a matter of honor, and one should respect one's opponent enough to not unduly mutilate their body. The samurai of the Sanguine Way, however, follow a different path. Reveling in the carnage of battle and living for the fear and awe of their lessers, they elevate their talents of kiai projection to an art form to inspire fear in their fellow beings on and off the battlefield. Such samurai skirt the line between control and fury, between honor and dishonor. Though it is whispered that they have been tainted and are unfit to serve, they do not dishonor those to whom they swear allegiance, nor do they fall victim to the power of the Shadowlands, but their cruelty and bloodthirst make every day a struggle against their inner demons, the reason many of them turn to the learned Disciples to be trained to control their impulses while still indulging them. Few believe their inner conflict to be the manifestation of anything more than conflicting desires--but if they have been tainted, what of it? If you turn to blood magic in the service of your lord and the greater good, these Disciples reason, why not take advantage of blood magic's dark reputation to scare off opponents and even the odds?
To take a Bloodstained Daisho substitution level, a character must be a member of the Disciples of the Sanguine Way or find a samurai trained by them to teach him, must possess blood, and must be about to take his 3rd, 9th, or 15th level of samurai.
Bloodstained Daisho substitution levels have the class skills of the standard samurai class plus Autohypnosis and Heal.
Skill Points at Each Level
: 4 + Int modifier
All the following are class features of the Bloodstained Daisho substitution levels.
Bloodcurdling Smite (Ex):
Once per day, a samurai of 3rd level or higher can give a fearsome cry during combat that strikes fear into his enemies' hearts and makes them easy targets. As a standard action, the samurai may give a ki
-powered shout and make a single melee attack, which gains a bonus on the attack roll equal to his Charisma bonus (minimum +1) and a bonus on the damage roll equal to his ranks in Intimidate. Additionally, his voice is so forceful that he can actually burst his opponents' blood vessels with his shout: creatures adjacent to the samurai when he uses this ability must make a Fortitude save (DC 10 + ฝ samurai level + Cha modifier) or become permanently blinded or deafened (equal chance for either) as their eyeballs rupture or their eardrums blow out from the extreme pressure. As a samurai gains levels, he can make a bloodcurdling smite more often according to the normal samurai Kiai Smite progression.
This substitution feature augments the standard samurai's Kiai Smite class feature.
Shogun of Fear (Ex):
By 9th level, the samurai has become a master of his fearsome fighting technique, to the point that his dreadful visage leering over his slashing blades can paralyze his enemies with terror. He gains Freezing the Lifeblood as a bonus feat, treating his samurai level as his monk level to determine uses per day and usable only with his katana or wakizashi rather than unarmed strikes.
This substitution feature does not replace any standard samurai class feature.
No Disciple of the Sanguine Way completes his training without spilling a little blood along the way, and by adapting the ritual of seppuku to battlefield conditions Sanguine Way samurai learn how to spill quite a bit of blood when they need to. Once per day per four class levels, as a full-round action the samurai may make a single attack with his katana or wakizashi which, if it hits, forces his target to make a Fortitude save against DC 10 + damage dealt or die instantly from the trauma and massive blood loss. Performing this attack provokes attacks of opportunity, and it does not affect creatures immune to critical hits.
This substitution feature does not replace any standard samurai class feature.
Table: Bloodstained Daisho Substitution Levels
|3rd||+3||+3||+1||+1||Bloodcurdling Smite 1/day|
|9th||+9/+4||+6||+3||+3||Shogun of Fear|
Grandmaster of the Crimson Path (Monk)
Monks of the Sanguine Way, like the shugenja Disciples, don't detour too far off the path of study of the uninitiated monk. They still learn to reinforce their bodies with ki
, run and strike fast, and do other monk-like things, they just give it a blood-flavored twist...and in the case of their more advanced techniques, there's usually some twisting of other creatures' blood going on as well.
To take a Crimson Path substitution level, a character must be a member of the Disciples of the Sanguine Way or find a monk trained by them to teach her, must possess blood, and must be about to take her 7th, 12th, or 15th level of monk.
Crimson Path substitution levels have the class skills of the standard monk class plus Autohypnosis and Heal.
Skill Points at Each Level
: 4 + Int modifier
All the following are class features of the Crimson Path substitution levels.
Still the Beating Heart (Ex):
The monk's ki
constantly nourishes her body and grants her conscious control over her blood. She gains fast healing 1, is immune to bleeding damage or blood draining attacks, and automatically stabilizes when reaching negative hit points. In addition, she can feign death flawlessly: as a full-round action, the monk may enter a trance during which she appears dead for all intents and purposes, even to magical means of sensing life or unlife. The only way to tell that the monk is actually alive is to succeed on a Spot or Heal check against her (DC 15 + monk level + monk's Wis modifier). The monk may stay in this trance for up to 1 day plus 1 day per point of Constitution bonus, after which she must spend an equal amount of continuous time resting before being able to do so again, and while in this trance she doesn't need to eat, drink, or breathe. She isn't conscious of her surroundings, but she may set a trigger condition that will bring her out of the trance early.
This substitution feature replaces the standard monk's Wholeness of Body class feature.
Ride the Crimson River (Su):
The monk eventually learns to manipulate others' blood in addition to her own, and so gains the ability to transport herself via the blood of living creatures. As a move action, she can make a melee touch attack to enter another living creature of her size category or larger that possesses blood and instantaneously pass up to 100 feet per monk level to another living creature within line of sight that possesses blood. When exiting a creature, she chooses an adjacent space in which to appear; the entry and destination creatures are flat-footed against her attacks until the end of the monk's next turn, and the monk may make a flurry of blows against the destination creatures after exiting it, representing the violent force exiting its body.
If the monk knows a creature's name and recites it when using this ability, she may use that creature as her destination even if she lacks line of sight or line of effect to that target. If she possesses the Mingle the Lifeblood ability described below, she may use any linked creature as a destination creature regardless of distance as long as they are both on the same plane.
This substitution feature replaces the standard monk's Abundant Step class feature.
Mingle the Lifeblood (Su):
Combining one's blood with that of one's opponent also mixes the ki
flowing in it, and thereby creates a mystical connection that the monk can exploit. Once per day, the monk may inflict up to 2 points of damage per monk level on herself (minimum 2 damage) to use this ability upon making a successful unarmed attack against a creature that possesses blood. Should the target fail a Fortitude save (DC 10 + ฝ monk level + Wis modifier), it takes an equal amount of damage as well, and for up to one week thereafter, the monk and the target are linked. She can sense the target's direction relative to her at all times as well as its distance to an accuracy of the nearest mile and is aware of its general condition as per the status
spell. As long as this link lasts, the monk ignores any miss chances or cover bonuses to AC the target possesses and may make unarmed attacks against the target at a distance up to 30 feet, warping its blood and damaging it from the inside without requiring physical contact or even line of sight within that range.
This substitution feature replaces the standard monk's Quivering Palm class feature.
Table: Crimson Path Substitution Levels
|7th||+5||+5||+5||+5||Still the Beating Heart|
|12th||+9/+4||+8||+8||+8||Ride the Crimson River|
|15th||+11/+6/+1||+9||+9||+9||Mingle the Lifeblood|