Only the noble heart, the heart that follows bushido, is fit to be called a true warrior.
- Tasuke Shimada, samurai
A samurai is a warrior of the nobility; a master of weapons and words. The martial training of a samurai focuses on one style of combat, and the samurai carries this intense focus with him into combat. A samurai is a master of his weapon of choice, capable of accomplishing feats few others can match.
Outside of the battlefield, the samurai is also expected to be a man of culture and refinement, capable of speaking and writing elegantly and creating works of art. Unfortunately, many samurai neglect this area of their training in order to focus on their fighting style.
MAKING A SAMURAI
Quick generalization of what you should focus on when making the class.
Most samurai are melee warriors, wading into the thick of the battle as bushido
demands. Such samurai must be physically strong in order to wield their weapons and wear their armor effectively. Other samurai focus on using great bows, or dai-kyu, as long as a man is tall. One must have Strength to draw such a bow effectively, but Dexterity becomes more important, because all the power in the world means nothing if one cannot hit one's target. Samurai who choose to wield the daisho (katana and wakizashi in unison) must also have a high Dexterity score in order to do so effectively. An iai (fast-draw; drawing a weapon and attacking in the same motion to catch the enemy off-guard) master must have Dexterity and Intelligence to succeed; these are much more important than Strength for a samurai following this path.
Regardless of the path he chooses to follow, the samurai values Constitution highly. Toughness is a prime attribute to a warrior, and any warrior, samurai or not, who survives more than a few battles is likely tough as nails. In addition, samurai are expected to be skilled in either diplomacy or the arts, meaning that a moderate to high Charisma is desirable for their out-of-battle endeavors.
Most samurai are humans; the caste system and culture which created them are both human in origin. Half-elves born and raised by nobility may also be samurai; their talents in social interaction and the grace inherited from their ancestors help them greatly in the social and political games that the nobility of any culture are prone to play. The code of bushido
often appeals to the dwarves, and some dwarven cultures have adopted a samurai caste, as well. Gnomes and halflings rarely become samurai, disparaging front-line combat for a place in the middle or back ranks. Half-orcs are rarely taught the ways of the samurai, but those few that are often become excellent warriors, though their stunted intellectual and social development prevent them from becoming particularly effective in the cultural aspects of the samurai's life; many secretly hire advisors to assist them in political arenas.
The credo of the samurai caste is that of bushido
, the way of the warrior, which teaches aspects of honor and loyalty that sit best in the lawful mind. There are very few chaotic samurai. The tenets of bushido
are as easily applied to good as evil, so samurai show no predisposition towards either.
Weapon and Armor Proficiencies:
Table: The Samurai Hit Die: d10.
Level Base Attack Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Special
1 +1 +2 +0 +0 Bonus feat, weapon path
2 +2 +3 +0 +0 Combat style
3 +3 +3 +1 +1 Kiai smite 1/encounter
4 +4 +4 +1 +1 Bonus Feat
5 +5 +4 +1 +1 Staredown
6 +6/+1 +5 +2 +2 Improved combat style
7 +7/+2 +5 +2 +2 Bonus Feat
8 +8/+3 +6 +2 +2 Improved staredown
9 +9/+4 +6 +3 +3 Kiai smite 2/encounter
10 +10/+5 +7 +3 +3 Bonus Feat
11 +11/+6/+1 +7 +3 +3 Intimidating glance
12 +12/+7/+2 +8 +4 +4 Greater combat style
13 +13/+8/+3 +8 +4 +4 Bonus Feat
14 +14/+9/+4 +9 +4 +4 Intimidating stance
15 +15/+10/+5 +9 +5 +5 Greater staredown
16 +16/+11/+6/+1 +10 +5 +5 Bonus Feat
17 +17/+12/+7/+2 +10 +5 +5 Kiai smite 3/encounter
18 +18/+13/+8/+3 +11 +6 +6 Mass staredown
19 +19/+14/+9/+4 +11 +6 +6 Bonus Feat
20 +20/+15/+10/+5 +12 +6 +6 Combat style mastery
Class Skills (4 + Int modifier, x4 at 1st level): Bluff, Concentration, Craft*, Diplomacy, Gather Information, Handle Animal, Iaijutsu Focus**, Intimidate, Knowledge (history), Knowledge (nobility and royalty), Perform*, Profession (artist), Ride, Sense Motive.
* This skill is actually a category encompassing many separate but related skills, such as Craft (weaponsmith) or Perform (oratory). Each skill must be taken separately.
** This skill is detailed in the 3.0 supplement Oriental Adventures, and is (unofficially) updated to 3.5 below.
A samurai is proficient with all simple and martial weapons, and with all armors, but not with shields or tower shields. Samurai wear heavy armor and are trained with a variety of weapons, but they typically either wield two-handed weapons or two weapons, and thus do not typically carry shields.
At 1st level, and every three levels thereafter (4th, 7th, 10th, 13th, etc.), a samurai gains a bonus feat from the following list:
Blind-Fight, Cleave, Exotic Weapon Proficiency, Great Cleave, Improved Initiative, Improved Unarmed Strike, Mounted Archery, Mounted Combat, Power Attack, Quick Draw, Ride-By Attack, Shield Proficiency, Skill Focus, Spirited Charge, Tower Shield Proficiency, Trample, Weapon Finesse, and Weapon Focus. In addition, the weapon that the samurai chooses for his weapon path ability (below) affects this list.
At 1st level, a samurai chooses one of the following weapons, and an associated path to follow for the rest of his samurai career. This choice not only affects what combat style he eventually gains (see below), it also affects his list of bonus feats.
The choices for the samurai's weapon path are as follows:
- Daisho (Katana) - The samurai gains the ability to take Two-Weapon Fighting and any feats which list it as a prerequisite with his samurai bonus feats.
- Dai-Kyu (Longbow) - The samurai gains the ability to take Point Blank Shot and any feats which list it as a prerequisite with his samurai bonus feats. In addition, Improved Mounted Archery (CWar pg. 101) is added to his list of samurai bonus feats.
- Iaijustu (Katana) - The samurai adds Improved Critical and Power Critical (CWar pg. 103) to his list of samurai bonus feats.
- Naginata (Glaive) - The samurai adds Combat Reflexes, Combat Expertise, Improved Disarm, Improved Trip, and Short Haft (PHB2 pg. 82.) to his list of samurai bonus feats.
The samurai may treat his samurai levels as fighter levels for the purposes of acquiring feats such as Weapon Specialization, which require a certain minimum fighter level, but the only weapon (or damage type, for feats such as Melee Weapon Mastery) he may select for those feats is the weapon indicated in his weapon path.
Combat Style (Ex):
At 2nd level, the samurai's prowess with his chosen path increases. He gains an ability based upon the weapon he chose for his weapon path ability.
Kiai Smite (Ex):
- Daisho - Two Swords as One (Ex): A daisho samurai may apply the benefits of any weapon-specific feats (Weapon Focus, Weapon Specialization, etc.) he selects for his katana to his wakizashi as well whenever he is wielding both at the same time.
- Dai-Kyu - Mighty Pull (Ex): The samurai may treat a longbow or composite longbow he is using as if it had the Mighty ability, allowing a samurai with Strength 12 or higher to add a +1 bonus to damage rolls using the bow. If the composite longbow the samurai is wielding is already Mighty, the samurai adds an additional +1 to the amount of Strength bonus the bow adds to damage.
This ability does not actually increase the Mighty rating of the bow; a samurai wielding a Mighty composite longbow already suited to his full Strength does not suffer the -2 attack penalty for wielding one more powerful than he can handle.
- Iaijutsu - Iaijutsu Strike (Ex): Once per encounter, the samurai may draw and attack with his katana in one fluid motion, catching his opponent off-guard. As a standard action, the samurai makes a single attack, which catches the target flat-footed.
- Naginata - Spear Wall (Ex): A naginata samurai may set his weapon against a charge as if it were a spear or longspear.
Once per encounter as a swift action, a 3rd-level samurai may concentrate his attack to strike with great force. After using this ability, his next attack deals double normal damage. Extra damage, such as the extra fire damage from a flaming weapon or additional sneak attack damage, is not multiplied.
The samurai gains another use of this ability at 9th level, and every six levels thereafter.
A 5th-level samurai gains Skill Focus (Intimidate) as a bonus feat, and may attempt to demoralize a foe as a move action.
Improved Combat Style (Ex):
At 6th level, a samurai's understanding of his chosen fighting style expands further, granting him access to feats few others could duplicate. The samurai gains one of the abilities listed below, depending on his combat style.
Improved Staredown (Ex):
- Daisho: Improved Two Swords As One (Ex): The daisho-wielding samurai's synergy with his two weapons increases. He no longer suffers the -2 penalty to attacks when wielding his katana in his main hand and his wakizashi in his off hand.
- Dai-Kyu: Penetrating Shot (Ex): A samurai with this fighting style learns to "kill two birds with one arrow." When wielding a longbow (composite or normal), the samurai may designate one attack per round as a free action to be a "bank shot". This allows the samurai to make a secondary attack against a target adjacent to the primary target; both attacks suffer a -5 penalty. If successful, both targets suffer the effects of the attack as normal.
- Iaijutsu: Return to the Center (Ex): An iaijutsu master samurai learns how to refocus himself and his energies to strike with supreme speed and catch his opponents off-guard more than once. As a move action, the samurai re-sheathes his sword, adjusts his stance, and quiets his mind, allowing him to use his iaijutsu strike ability again. The iaijutsu master may use this ability at will.
- Naginata: Defensive Spear (Ex): Once per encounter as an immediate action, a naginata specialist may take an attack against an opponent who charges him. If successful, the attack deals double damage, as if the samurai had readied an action against the charge.
At 8th level, the samurai becomes even more intimidating. Opponents he successfully demoralizes with the Intimidate skill are shaken for an additional number of rounds equal to the samurai's Charisma modifier.
Intimidating Glance (Ex):
An 11th-level samurai can intimidate a foe with merely a glance. Using the Intimidate skill to attempt to demoralize an opponent is now a swift action for him.
Greater Combat Style (Ex):
By 12th level, a samurai has become a master of his combat style. He gains another ability dependent upon his combat style.
Intimidating Stance (Ex):
- Daisho: Strength Of Two (Ex): If the samurai is wielding his katana in his main hand and his wakizashi in his off-hand, he may apply his full Strength bonus to damage on both weapons when he attacks.
- Dai-Kyu: Guarded Shot (Ex): A samurai with the dai-kyu combat style no longer provokes attacks of opportunity when firing a longbow while threatened by enemies.
- Iaijutsu: Improved Iaijutsu Strike (Ex):A samurai with the iaijutsu combat style deals double normal weapon damage with a successful iaijutsu strike. Extra damage, such as from the Iaijutsu Focus skill or a flaming weapon, is not doubled.
- Naginata: Defensive Rebuke (Ex): If an opponent is damaged by an attack from the naginata samurai while moving (either because the target provoked an attack of opportunity from the samurai or because of a readied action), the target's move ends. If the target has actions remaining, he may attempt to move again.
A samurai of 14th level or higher may attempt an Intimidate check to demoralize all opponents he threatens in combat.
Greater Staredown (Ex):
A 15th-level samurai gains an additional +2 competence bonus to Intimidate checks.
Mass Staredown (Ex):
At 18th level, the samurai gains the ability to attempt an Intimidate check to demoralize all opponents within 30 feet of him who can see him.
Combat Style Mastery (Ex):
A samurai of 20th level is a grandmaster of his fighting style, and has achieved the pinnacle of power with his chosen weapon.
Things to do (suggestions welcome):
- Daisho: Lightning Pounce (Ex): A daisho-wielding samurai gains the ability to make a full attack after a charge while wielding his katana in his main hand and his wakizashi in his off-hand.
- Dai-Kyu: Arrow Spray (Ex): Once per encounter as a standard action, a dai-kyu style samurai may fire arrows in a 30-foot cone. The samurai makes an attack roll against every enemy in the cone, dealing normal damage to each creature hit.
- Iaijutsu: The First of Many (Ex): An iaijutsu master samurai may declare the first attack of his full attack action to be an iaijutsu strike, if he has one available.
- Naginata: Invulnerable Defense (Ex): The naginata samurai is now considered to have an action readied against any opponent charging him.
- Add more bonus feats to the naginata combat style and especially the iaijutsu combat style.
- Rename most of the naginata style abilities, and the greater dai-kyu combat style ability (Guarded shot).