Tuesday, June 16, 2009

3.75 Update: Samurai

Role: The Samurai is a warrior with a strict code of honor. Thus, he is classed as a Defender, making the safety of his allies a personal priority.
Abilities: The Samurai relies on Constitution so that he is fit to take the punishment he keeps others from suffering. Many of his abilities focus on his Wisdom score, and a high Strength score will help the Samurai in melee combat.
Alignment: Any Lawful. Samurai live by a rigid code of conduct that permits no deviation.
Hit Die: d10
Class Skills: Climb, Craft, Diplomacy, Handle Animal, Heal, Intimidate, Knowledge (History, Nobility, and Religion only), Linguistics, Perception, Profession, Ride, Sense Motive, Survival, Swim
Skill Points per Level: 4+INT
Base Attack Bonus: Full (as Fighter)
Good Saves: Fortitude, Will
Bad Save: Reflex
Weapons and Armor Proficiency: A Samurai is proficient with all simple and martial weapons and with all types of armor (light, medium, and heavy). He is not proficient with shields.
Class Features
1-Kiai Pool, Daisho Bond (Bonded Weapon), Way of the Warrior (Courage)
-Way of the Warrior (Su): Upon taking up the mantle of Samurai, a warrior swears himself to the code of Bushido. He pledges to respect legitimate authority, protect those who cannot protect themselves, and stand up against those who would rely on deception or trickery. His commitment grants him strength, but restricts his actions. Should the Samurai break his vows or cease to maintain a Lawful alignment, his Kiai pool empties and cannot refill until his alignment again becomes Lawful and he atones for his actions.
Courage: At level 1, a Warrior’s commitment to the ideals of Bushido grants him resolve. He adds his Wisdom modifier to all saves against Fear (minimum +1) as long as he has at least 1 point in his Kiai pool.
-Daisho Bond (Bonded Weapon) (Su):
A Samurai’s connection to his weapon goes beyond physical. At level one, a Samurai selects a simple, martial, or exotic melee weapon he has in his possession. He gains Weapon Focus (and proficiency, if applicable) with that weapon and becomes bonded to that specific weapon, investing a slowly increasing amount of his soul into the weapon. This investment manifests in increasing strength as the Samurai gains level.
Likewise, a Samurai may choose to bond to more than one weapon, provided he can wield them simultaneously. (For example, most humanoids can wield up to two weapons at once, but a Samurai with four arms could bond to one to four weapons). If he does so, he may distribute the bonuses he receives for his Daisho (including Weapon Focus) as he likes, but receives no additional bonuses.
A Samurai also gains the ability to cast Locate Object as a spell-like ability at will, targeting only his Daisho, using his Samurai level as his caster level. If his Daisho is lost, a Samurai must look for it for at least one hour each day until he finds it; failing to do so constitutes a break of his code of Bushido. If he gives up or if his Daisho is lost, he loses 500XP per Samurai level. One week after accepting this loss, he may bond himself to a new Daisho.
-Kiai Pool (Su): A Samurai fights not just with his body but also with his soul. This reserve of mystical energy is represented in game terms by a pool of Kiai points. A Samurai has an amount of Kiai in his pool equal to half his Samurai levels plus his Wisdom modifier (rounded down, minimum 1). A Samurai’s Kiai pool completely refills after 8 hours of rest.
2-Bonus Feat
-Bonus Feat:
At level 2 and every 5 levels thereafter (7, 12, and 17), a Samurai gains a bonus Combat Feat. He must meet all prerequisites for that feat, but may use his Samurai level as his Fighter level for the purpose of qualifying for these feats. If he selects a feat that applies to a specific weapon, he must choose his Daisho.
3- Kiai Smite
-Kiai Smite (Su): A Samurai exercises great control over his emotions, but does not repress them entirely; rather, he channels them to useful ends. Once per round, a Samurai can declare a Kiai Smite against a foe for 1 point of Kiai. A Kiai Smite is a free action made as part of a melee attack. When a Samurai uses his Kiai smite, he adds his Wisdom bonus to the attack roll. If the Samurai has witnessed the target hit an ally with an attack, spell, or similar aggressive action, he also adds his class level to damage. In either case, a Kiai smite counts as Lawful for the purposes of overcoming damage reduction and has no effect if the attack misses. A Kiai smite can only be attempted with a weapon that is included in the Samurai’s Daisho.
4-Daisho Bond (+1 Enhancement)
-Daisho Bond (+1 Enhancement) (Su): At level 4, a Samurai invests a portion of his soul into his Daisho. His chosen weapon receives a +1 Enhancement bonus. If he chooses enhance his weapon by other means, this bonus applies on top of what the weapon itself enjoys, up to a +5 flat bonus (for example, a level 4 Samurai with a +2 bonded longsword would treat it as a +3 longsword). If he has more than one bonded weapon, he may place the +1 bonus on any one of his bonded weapons, but this bonus cannot be changed later.
5-Way of the Warrior (Resolve)
-Resolve (Su):
By level 5, a Samurai’s devotion to his code has strengthened his mental fortitude against the deceptions of others. He adds his Wisdom modifier to all saves against Charm effects (minimum +1) as long as he has at least one point in his Kiai pool.
-Staredown (Su):
At level 6, a Samurai’s focus becomes intimidating. Whenever the Samurai witnesses an attempt to strike himself or an ally, he may make an Intimidate check against the attacker as an immediate action. Staredown is resolved before the aggressive action is completed, and may interfere with the action being attempted. A Samurai may initiate a Staredown against any clearly aggressive action, including spellcasting, within 60 feet of the Samurai. Using Staredown costs one point of Kiai.
In addition, as long as the Samurai has at least one point of Kiai in his pool, he adds his Wisdom modifier to Intimidate checks.
7-Bonus Feat
8-Daisho Bond (+1 Ability)
-Daisho Bond (+1 Ability) (Su):
At level 8, the Samurai invests a greater portion of his soul into his Daisho. He may choose any weapon modifier with a cost of “+1 bonus” and add to any one of his bonded weapons. This ability cannot be changed until level 16. When augmenting his weapon by conventional means, a Samurai does not count any bonuses supplied by Daisho Bond.
9-Mass Staredown
-Mass Staredown (Su):
At level 9, a Samurai’s fury increases, waiting for the moment it is unleashed. Whenever he uses his Staredown class feature, he may spend additional Kiai points to make the same Intimidate check against additional opponents on a one-for-one basis. All targets must be within 60 feet of the Samurai, and he rolls his Intimidate check once and compares it to each foe’s DC. A Samurai cannot target a number of foes greater than his Wisdom modifier in a single use of this ability.
10-Way of the Warrior (Perception)
-Perception (Su):
When a Samurai reaches level 10, he is deeply aware of his surroundings and has an intuitive grasp of when something is not right. If he perceives an Illusion, he is automatically entitled to make a saving throw against it, even if he does not interact with the Illusion.
In addition, the Samurai adds his Wisdom bonus to saves against Glamours and Figments (minimum +1) as long as he has one or point of Kiai in his pool.
11-Kiai Shield
-Kiai Shield (Su):
At level 11, a Samurai’s will becomes so great it can protect those around him from physical harm. As a standard action, a Samurai can spend three points of Kiai to let out a mighty shout. All allies within 60 feet gain an amount of damage reduction equal to the Samurai’s Wisdom modifier, overcome by Chaos (minimum DR 1/Chaos). This damage reduction lasts for 3 rounds.
If the Samurai or any of his allies within 60 feet are below half their maximum hit points, the Samurai may use Kiai Shield as a move action.
12-Bonus Feat, Daisho Bond (+2 Enhancement)
-Daisho Bond (+2 Enhancement) (Su):
At level 12, the Samurai may distribute another +1 hard bonus among his bonded weapons in any manner he chooses.
13-Kiai Vengeance
-Kiai Vengeance (Su):
At level 13, a Samurai’s wrath becomes truly frightful. If the Samurai has at least one point of Kiai left in his pool and strikes a foe who is currently Shaken, Frightened, or Panicked, he can increase the fear that resides in that foe. Any foe so struck must make a will save (DC=10+Half Samurai’s class level+Samurai’s Wisdom Modifier). Upon a failed save, Shaken foes become Frightened, Frightened foes become Panicked, and Panicked foes cower in terror. This ability is a mind-affecting Fear effect.
14-Kiai Armor
-Kiai Armor (Su):
By level 14, a Samurai’s will can not only lessen the harm to his allies, it has a change to negate it. As a standard action, he can spend 2 points of Kiai to let out a mighty shout. When he does so, the Samurai and all allies within 60 feet add the Samurai’s Wisdom bonus as a Circumstance bonus to Armor Class. This bonus lasts until the end of the Samurai’s next turn.
15-Way of the Warrior (Mettle)
-Mettle (Ex): An experienced Samurai can shake off unwelcome attempts to interfere with his mind or body. As long as he has at least one point of Kiai in his pool, whenever a Samurai makes a Fortitude or Will saving throw against an effect that would normally have a secondary effect upon a successful save, that effect is negated.
16-Daisho Bond (+2 Ability)
-Daisho Bond (+2 Ability):
At level 16, the Samurai’s bond with his weapon strengthens further. He may choose to apply any single ability with a price of “+1 bonus” to any only of his bonded weapons, or he may remove the +1 bonus he received at level 8 and place a single +2 bonus on any one bonded weapon. He may not remove his level 8 bonus and replace it with another +1 bonus or move his level 8 bonus to another weapon.
17-Bonus Feat
18-Kiai Vitality

-Kiai Vitality (Su): At level 18, a Samurai’s soul is so powerful that he can rejuvenate the body of himself and his allies. As a standard action, the Samurai can spend 3 Kiai points to let out a mighty shout. All allies within 60 feet are healed for 1d6 for every two class levels the Samurai has, plus an amount equal to the Samurai’s Wisdom modifier. This is a positive energy, [Healing] effect, but stems from the Samurai’s protective will and thus cannot be used to harm undead. If an ally is brought up to his normal maximum, he can gain up to the Samurai’s class level in temporary hit points. Temporary hit points gained from this ability do not stack.
If a Samurai witnesses an ally within 60 feet drop without dying, he can use this ability as an immediate action.
19-Frightful Presence
-Frightful Presence (Su): At level 19, a Samurai’s grim demeanor radiates outward from him in all directions. He gains Frightful Presence out to 30 feet (Will save DC=Samurai Class Level+Samurai’s Wisdom modifier). A Samurai’s Frightful Presence cannot affect any creature with more hit dice than him. Once a creature successfully saves against a Samurai's Frightful Presence, that creature is immune to that Samurai's Frightful Presence for 24 hours. Frightful Presence can be activated and deactivated as a free action.
20-Daisho Bond (+3 Enhancement), Way of the Warrior (Invulnerability)
-Daisho Bond (+3 Enhancement) (Su):
At level 20, the Samurai may distribute another +1 hard bonus among his bonded weapons in any manner he chooses.
-Invulnerability: As a full-round action, a Samurai may spend 4 points of Kiai to create a Globe of Invulnerability (as the spell) at his location, using his Samurai level as his caster level.

What’s Gone:

The Samurai had precious few class abilities to begin with.

What’s Changed:
Daisho Proficiency, Two Swords as One (and Improvements), Staredown (and Improvements), Kiai Smite, Frightful Presence, Iaijutsu Master, Improved Initiative

So I changed pretty much everything. Most people will agree that this was not a bad idea, considering the state of the 3.5 Samurai. Daisho Focus allows Samurai to be different from one another, rather than all being two weapon fighters with a bastard sword in one hand and short sword in the other. I also borrowed a little from the Oriental Adventures Samurai, which most people seemed to like, but kept the weapon bonuses below what the OA Samurai has since that was the OA Samurai’s big mechanic while it’s just a means to an end on this Samurai (he’s also not paying experience the way the OA Samurai was. I came to this decision based on item creation no longer requiring the spending of experience).
Two Swords as One, Iaijutsu Master, and Improved Initiative have been rolled into generic Combat feats. If people want to go Two-Weapon Fighting and take Improved Initiative and Quick Draw, they still can, or they can do something else that suits them.
Staredown was the only neat mechanic the 3.5 Samurai got, but it took forever to get good and needed some outside help to be really effective. Making it an interrupt gives it more of a Defender feel, whereas the original version feels more like a Controller. The stuff that made it good in 3.5 still makes it good, but now it’s somewhat useful on its own.
Frightful Presence has been moved down to level 19 to avoid 20 being overstuffed and 19 being a dead level.
Kiai Smite was a somewhat weak mechanic that I felt was a good basis for a mechanic but wasn’t enough to stand on its own. I made it function more like a normal smite, but decided the friend/foe differentiation was a nice twist to the normal alignment requirement. This also tied it in with the class’ “Defender” identity.

What’s New
Way of the Warrior, Kiai Pool, Kiai Abilities

The biggest change in this version of the class is the switch to a Kiai pool, Ninja/Monk style. The idea was to create a series of abilities that not only felt connected but would balance each other by pulling from a common resource; the pool can increase incrementally while gaining new abilities without getting out of control. Making most of the Samurai’s abilities require at least 1 point in the pool effectively decreased the pool by one, but also made for some neat “desperation” scenarios, as well as making alignment breaches easier to punish without completely shutting the character down.
Way of the Warrior was an attempt to make the “Code of Conduct” more than just a thematic class feature. I like the idea that the Samurai believes in his vows so strongly that they give him mental strength.

If Samurai was not the worst base class in 3.5, it was in the bottom three. He had two major flaws: He had a very unclear purpose as a character, and almost everything he did could be done better by a Fighter (a class that was itself often criticized as being too weak). The goal here was to give the class a direction, and then let it pursue that goal in a unique way, which I think I’ve accomplished. He uses Wisdom instead of Charisma for two reasons. First, there’s about a dozen classes that have full base attack and prioritize Charisma and (as far as I can recall) none that prioritize Wisdom. Secondly, most Samurai tend to be wise and stoic rather than fiery and emotional—if any full base attack class was going to want Wisdom over Charisma, the Samurai would be it.

Obviously, this class is written as a Far East class, but there’s really nothing that marks it as such in game terms, not even the guaranteed katana proficiency of the 3.5 version. The rules presented here could represent any dedicated individual who puts the safety of others before that of himself. The addition of the bonus feats also means that a Samurai can gain shield proficiency for free, leaving the Oriental image even further behind.

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