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    Default [4e] Samurai Class?

    Which martial class do you think best represents the samurai?

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    Default Re: [4e] Samurai Class?

    Depending on what you want, a fighter or warlord.

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    Default Re: [4e] Samurai Class?

    I have to second Fighter or Warlord; although if you wanted to go Niten Ryuu two-weapon ranger might work with iajutsu, single strike kills, and all that stuff. It really depends upon what type of samurai you want to play.
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    Default Re: [4e] Samurai Class?

    What about a ronin samurai?
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    Default Re: [4e] Samurai Class?

    Quote Originally Posted by Katana_Geldar View Post
    What about a ronin samurai?
    Well the difference between a samurai and a ronin was that the ronin didn't have a lord not so much a difference in skill. I'd probably say it would be a difference in paragon paths but also it matters what kind of ronin do you want to be. There's the yojimbo style man with no name heroic ronin, there's the mercenary out for revenge (Lone Wolf and Cub), and there's the treacherous bandit. For the first one I'd say Fighter, he could really take a beating with Skill Training in Bluff. For the main character of Lone Wolf and Cub I'd go with Ranger or a fighter-ranger hybrid from what I remember (he was a striker mostly). For the last I'd go with a fighter|rogue hybrid.
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    Default Re: [4e] Samurai Class?

    Quote Originally Posted by grimgrin View Post
    Which martial class do you think best represents the samurai?
    Any of them could work fine. Also the Avenger, Barbarian, swordmage and probably many others, if built right and depending on what you mean by Samurai.

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    Default Re: [4e] Samurai Class?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tiki Snakes View Post
    Any of them could work fine. Also the Avenger, Barbarian, swordmage and probably many others, if built right and depending on what you mean by Samurai.
    So maybe any "honorable" martial hero is a samurai and any "dishonorable" martial hero is a ronin.

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    Default Re: [4e] Samurai Class?

    Well, no, given that samurai explicitely are supposed to serve a lord and Ronin are not. You can be honourable or dishonourable as either, it's more (as I understand it) a matter of your employment status.

    Or something like that.

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    Default Re: [4e] Samurai Class?

    Quote Originally Posted by grimgrin View Post
    So maybe any "honorable" martial hero is a samurai and any "dishonorable" martial hero is a ronin.
    I wouldn't say it's that simple. There were plenty of "honorable" ronin, for example the 47 Ronin which are used as an example of how honorable samurai could be; they refused to commit honorable seppuku for 1 year after their lord died while they waited to avenge his death. Once they avenged him they were forced to commit seppuku for the act of murder. Another famous ronin would be Miyamoto Musashi, who spent most of his life without a lord, although he did later get put on somebody's retainer (he was when he wrote the Book of Five Rings living in a cave).

    Also many samurai, honorable or not, became ronin during the Edo period; the difference was whether they became bandits or not. Many didn't, married into the other castes and worked in lower positions, others did and gave ronin a bad name.

    I would say Rogue is not fitting for a samurai, but might be able to fit for a ronin (although the weapon limitations hurt there).

    Edit: swordsaged.

    EditEdit: The real thing is what character do you think of when you think "Samurai"? Personally I think of Toshiro Mifune's performance as Miyamoto Musashi, but other people will have different opinions. Musashi would probably be a Tempest build fighter of some sort wielding a Katana and a Wakizashi. Human with Dual Strike, Cleave, and Footwork Lure as at-wills, Distracting Strike as his encounter, and Bristling Defense as his daily. If I was making a samurai based on Kojiro I'd go with a two-handed weapon, and high Dex. Give him Reaping Strike, Sure Strike, and Footwork Lure as at-wills, Lunging Strike as an encounter, and Villain's Menace or Driving Assault as his daily.
    Last edited by Zaydos; 2010-09-22 at 01:00 AM.
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    Default Re: [4e] Samurai Class?

    The swordmage may be a good fit too actually, to some extent.
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    Default Re: [4e] Samurai Class?

    Quote Originally Posted by Katana_Geldar View Post
    The swordmage may be a good fit too actually, to some extent.
    The swordmage warding really is what a samurai needs as a light/no armor warrior. The one handed weapon is a little odd (katanas were usually either used 2 handed or dual-wielded), and the magic teleport happy nature rather steers away from the traditional samurai. Now in a fantasy world where magic is real swordmage would be a natural thing for samurai to become, especially as the important factors of samurai aren't the powers but the culture behind them.

    I'd go for Avenger before Swordmage for a samurai though (2-handed weapon, and less teleportation/overtly magical effects).

    Edit: Also Oda Nobunaga is a really popular samurai surprisingly enough. Especially as historically he was a daimyo not a samurai.
    Last edited by Zaydos; 2010-09-22 at 01:17 AM.
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    Default Re: [4e] Samurai Class?

    Swordmagi are like that in my groups campaign setting, and are usually elves or Eladrin to give it a bit of flavour.
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    Default Re: [4e] Samurai Class?

    Quote Originally Posted by Katana_Geldar View Post
    Swordmagi are like that in my groups campaign setting, and are usually elves or Eladrin to give it a bit of flavour.
    I can definitely see swordmages as eladrin samurai and it is awesome.
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    Default Re: [4e] Samurai Class?

    [QUOTE=Zaydos;9402190]The swordmage warding really is what a samurai needs as a light/no armor warrior. [/QUOTE

    Samurai? Light/no armor?



    These guys?

    Though to be fair, perhaps I don't have as clear an image of what "light" armor means as I should.
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    Default Re: [4e] Samurai Class?

    [QUOTE=0Megabyte;9402234]
    Quote Originally Posted by Zaydos View Post
    The swordmage warding really is what a samurai needs as a light/no armor warrior. [/QUOTE

    Samurai? Light/no armor?



    These guys?

    Though to be fair, perhaps I don't have as clear an image of what "light" armor means as I should.
    The pics didn't show up. I traditionally think of Edo period and later samurai when I hear samurai (look at Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai, and Yojimbo, or the movie trilogy based on the Miyamoto Musashi book series by Eiji Yoshikawa), that's not to say they are the only samurai (the demon mask, full armor wearing samurai came before them, although after Oda Nobunaga revolutionized warfare in Japan with heavy use of guns they became rarer).

    Edit: although it was Hideyoshi who formalized the caste system of Japan so the samurai caste didn't exist until after the days of the heavily armored samurai were already giving way; before that it was possible to become a samurai instead of being born a samurai. And I will stop ranting about samurai and get some sleep now.
    Last edited by Zaydos; 2010-09-22 at 01:38 AM.
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    Default Re: [4e] Samurai Class?

    Quote Originally Posted by Katana_Geldar View Post
    Swordmagi are like that in my groups campaign setting, and are usually elves or Eladrin to give it a bit of flavour.
    Yeah, I can totally imagine Swordmagi being like Eladrin Samurai.

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    Default Re: [4e] Samurai Class?

    A more realistic samurai would be a fighter (scale armor even is the closest there is in 4e to a samurai armor) or a warlord. If you want a more mystic flavour but still heavy armor, a paladin would work well. A lightly-armored swordmaster like Samurai Jack or Kenshin would be a swordmage or avenger.

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    Default Re: [4e] Samurai Class?

    This thread made me apply to a 4e game with a fighter|ranger who uses Hybrid Talent to get Tempest Technique. He's based on Musashi (is currently named Shinmen Takezo) although he settled for a Short Sword + Parrying Dagger instead of taking the much more samurai-like (and feat intensive) combination of Bastard Sword + Parrying Dagger; he also wears hide armor as opposed to the cloth that would be associated with the Edo period samurai-duelists. Also I gave him 8 Charisma as he is based on a young Musashi who was known for being rather abrasive.

    Edit: Also realistically for 260 years (the Tokugawan Shogunate) samurai rarely wore armor. Before that armor was common but the code Bushido wasn't even developed yet, and neither was the caste system.
    Last edited by Zaydos; 2010-09-22 at 11:26 PM.
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    Default Re: [4e] Samurai Class?

    By the way, the Katana was more accurately the Japanese equivalent to the western Arming sword, often the Longsword in D&D. Earlier editions statted a Katana similarly to a Bastard Sword mostly because the Katana was useable in one or two hands, where as most D&D Longswords were generally one-handed weapons.

    A Katana's length is quite similar to an average Arming Sword, and the curve might make it more similar to a Scimitar, such in particular, the Talwar's main difference from a Katana is it's grip.
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    Default Re: [4e] Samurai Class?

    It also depends upon which era's katana you are talking about because modern katanas tend to be longer than those of historical Japan (with the exception of near the end of the warring states period and possibly those of one period much earlier... I forget which period though). As another note Musashi was noted as preferring the "old style" katanas to modern ones, this was in the early 17th century when the old style katanas were actually the longest katanas had ever been and they had recently gotten drastically shorter.
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    Default Re: [4e] Samurai Class?

    Quote Originally Posted by Zaydos View Post
    Edit: Also realistically for 260 years (the Tokugawan Shogunate) samurai rarely wore armor. Before that armor was common but the code Bushido wasn't even developed yet, and neither was the caste system.
    Bushido wasn't formalised as it was in later times of peace, but the concepts certainly existed in the Sengoku Period, in the same way that our concepts of honour and chivalry existed long before being formalised and idealised.

    Likewise, the ranks and castes of society most certainly did pre-date the Tokugawa period. Japan's class system had been going strong for 500 years by that point. The only real change was that social mobility was prevented. Essentially; the first thing that the peasant-become-daiymio did was to stop anyone else achieving the same thing.

    Katana length varied a lot. Whereas Sengoku period katanas were short blades with long grips for use as weapons of war, later duelling blades were longer, and in times of peace grips were shorter, with less leverage.

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    Default Re: [4e] Samurai Class?

    The Seven Samurai isn't set in the Edo period, but during the Azuchi-Momoyama period, which is to say during Hideyoshi's tenure as chief strongman of Japan. I believe in the 1590s to be exact. Kikuchiyo's stolen family tree gives the exact year, but i can't remember it.

    However, what is more important is that Edo period samurai aren't really a good fit for what a samurai was. Despite their title as warriors they were mostly bureaucrats in a largely peaceful country, simply because of the fact that outside a period of high-level warfare you don't need to keep a standing army of 6% of the population. Especially not with pre-industrial technology and the need to maintain large workforces in agriculture as well as all other social needs.

    Also from what i recall from classes on Japanese history and a pretty thorough tour through the Tokyo National Museum two months ago, the four classes wasn't an ancient aspect of Japanese society but instead instituted by the Tokugawa shoguns. Wikipedia mostly seems to agree, but it is silent about social stratifications during the Kamakura and Muromachi periods and i'm kind of too lazy to go into indepth research over this. What is worth mentioning is that this already began under Toyotomi Hideyoshi, with the prohibition of commoners owning swords as the most famous example.

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    Default Re: [4e] Samurai Class?

    Bushido in the Sengoku period was very different from the code we call Bushido today; just how different we do not know since most of what we do know about it is from later authors trying to promote it by saying it was old. There's also a major difference between the ideas of honor at the beginning of the Tokugawan shogunate and what we think of Bushido as.

    Hideyoshi also instituted the idea that you had to be born a samurai and could not rise from peasant to samurai (something Hideyoshi had done).

    @Terraoblivion:
    Sorry I got the time of the Seven Samurai wrong, I remembered it was soon after the warring states period but haven't seen it in years. I always thought it was early 1600s since there are several movies with the theme of bandits following Sekigahara, it's nice to know it was before Sekigahara.

    I didn't see the Tokyo National Museum, but did get to see the Edo Museum and the Katana Museum; they were pretty neat.

    Also yeah you can tell how little late Tokugawan samurai fought by looking at how short the swords got. Early Hideyoshi's reign and early Edo period gives us most of our samurai movies (there are exceptions such as Kagemushi and Ran, but those focus on Daimyo and not samurai) and the classic image of samurai (which is more of a duelist than a real warrior).
    Last edited by Zaydos; 2010-09-23 at 09:39 AM.
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    Default Re: [4e] Samurai Class?

    When is Kagemusha and Ran set anyway? Sengoku seems the most reasonable for the latter given that the war seems more complete and long-lasting than any of the wars during the Kamakura and Muromachi. I haven't seen Kagemusha even though i own it. Kurosawa's historical movies cover a rather broad spectrum chronologically however. Rashomon and Hidden Fortress both takes place during the Heian period, Ran most likely in Sengoku, The Seven Samurai in Azuchi Momoyama and at least Yojimbo in the late Edo period, Sanjuro is more ambiguous in when it takes place and whether it is the same Sanjuro as in Yojimbo. So he has basically covered all of Japanese history and since he also made many movies that took place in his own period he has basically covered all of recorded Japanese history except for the time since the bubble burst, more or less.

    And if you go to Tokyo again at some point i can recommend visiting the Tokyo National Museum. It has some rather remarkable collections, though it is by no means as impressive as, say, British Museum is.

    As for Bushido as i understand it you can really divide it into three periods. Early chivalric ideals that the samurai class used to define itself apart from both commoners and nobles is the origin. It didn't truly get codified until the Edo period, though, in which case it was used as a tool to enforce the social distinctions between the four castes introduced by Tokugawa. The version most recognizable in the modern day, however, is as recent as the 1890s where it was part in the construction of a Japanese nationalism, largely patterned after the German model, including a large mystical and historical element. Earlier versions weren't quite as rigid and obsessed with purity and loyalty. Like most warrior codes ever, it is quite likely that skill and courage in battle held the supreme position before the Edo period where the whole aspect of the samurai as warriors was deemphasized compared to their peacetime roles.

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    Default Re: [4e] Samurai Class?

    I think Kagemusha is set in the Warring States period as I think both Oda Nobunaga and Ieyasu Tokugawa are mentioned as adversaries, but at least Tokugawa was mentioned as an adversary and implied not to be the highest in his alliance. Kagemusha is a really good movie, although Yojimbo is my favorite Kurosawa film.
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    Default Re: [4e] Samurai Class?

    Quote Originally Posted by Terraoblivion View Post
    the four classes wasn't an ancient aspect of Japanese society but instead instituted by the Tokugawa shoguns.
    shinōkōshō was a Confucian ideology, stolen wholesale from China. It pre-dates the Edo period by a couple of thousand years, as I recall. The roots of it were - I believe - well in place prior to formal codification and enforcement.

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    Default Re: [4e] Samurai Class?

    Well if you replace "scholars" with "warriors" and "vague philosophical ideal" with "ideological reality", then yes.

    Also, they were not legally mandated before nor were they treated as being all that big a deal by either the court nobles in Heian or the samurai themselves. For comparison it is similar to the idea of "those who preach, those who fight and those who work" in the middle ages compared to the three estates of absolutism. The first was something mentioned in writing by scholars but which had little real impact on legislation or how society was run, the second was the very basis of legal stratification.

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