Ninja, 3rd Variant (3.5e Class)

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Ninja crouch.jpg


Why fight when I can just poison him while he's sleeping?.
—Sasori Kage, Mercenary

The functions of the Ninja included espionage, sabotage, infiltration, assassination, as well as open combat in certain situations. The underhanded tactics of the Ninja were contrasted with the Samurai, who were careful not to tarnish their reputable image.

Making a Ninja[edit]

Adventures: Ninjas approach adventures as if they were personal tests. While not prone to showing off, Ninjas are willing to try their skills against whatever obstacles confront them. Ninjas are not greedy for material wealth, but they eagerly seek that which can help them perfect their art.

Characteristics: Ninja are trained from birth as masters of infiltration and assassination. They are loyal to the person who hired them.

Abilities: Wisdom Powers a Ninjas special defensive powers as well as her abilities to notice changes in her surroundings. Dexterity provides the unarmored ninja with a better defense and with bonuses to some class skills. Strength is important to Ninjas who wish to use their training for fighting in melee combat.

Races: Humans are most likely to become a Ninja. However Elves, and Half-Elves are occasionally trained in the way of the Ninja.

Alignment: Any. Though they are most likely to be Non-Lawful. Because of the Ninjas beliefs, they are not required to be evil if they kill. All Ninja believe in the endless cycle of life and death. Thus, when a Ninja kills someone, they believe that they are simply giving something else the chance to be born.

Religion: Ninjas are most likely to worship Buddah and follow the beliefs of Buddhism.

Other Classes: Ninjas tend to keep to themselves. They work well with Monks because Ninja and Monks are always trying to perfect themselves in both mind and body. Ninja also work well with Rogues because Ninja can appreciate the amount of skill required to infiltrate. They also appreciate the precision that a Rogue needs to have in order to strike vital spots of their targets.

Combat: Ninjas avoid combat as much as possible and will generally only fight if forced to or if it's part of their mission.

Starting Gold: starting gold; 5d6×10 gp (100 gp).

Starting Age: Complex

Table: The Ninja

Hit Die: d8

Level Base
Attack Bonus
Saving Throws Special AC Bonus Unarmored Speed Bonus
Fort Ref Will
1st +1 +2 +2 +0 Monk-like AC Bonus, Trapfinding, Improved Unarmed Strike, Bonus Feat, Ninja Strike +1d6 +0 +0 ft.
2nd +2 +3 +3 +0 Two-Weapon Fighting, Evasion +0 +0ft.
3rd +3 +3 +3 +1 Trap Sense +1, Poison Use, Ninja Strike +2d6 Bonus feat +0 +10ft.
4th +4 +4 +4 +1 Slowfall 30ft., Uncanny Dodge +0 +10ft.
5th +5 +4 +4 +1 Bonus Feat, Ninja Strike +3d6 +1 +10ft.
6th +6/+1 +5 +5 +2 Improved Two-Weapon Fighting, Trapsense +2 +1 +20ft.
7th +7/+2 +5 +5 +2 Bonus Feat, Ninja Strike +4d6 +1 +20ft.
8th +8/+3 +6 +6 +2 Slowfall 40ft., Improved Uncanny Dodge +1 +20ft.
9th +9/+4 +6 +6 +3 Improved Evasion, Trapsense +3, Ninja Strike +5d6 +1 +30ft.
10th +10/+5 +7 +7 +3 Slowfall 50ft., Bonus Feat +2 +30ft.
11th +11/+6/+1 +7 +7 +3 Greater Two-Weapon Fighting, Ninja Strike +6d6 +2 +30ft.
12th +12/+7/+2 +8 +8 +4 Slowfall 60ft., Trapsense +4 +2 +40ft.
13th +13/+8/+3 +8 +8 +4 Bonus Feat, Ninja Strike +7d6 +2 +40ft.
14th +14/+9/+4 +9 +9 +4 Slowfall 70ft. +2 +40ft.
15th +15/+10/+5 +9 +9 +5 Bonus Feat, Trapsense +5, Ninja Strike +8d6 +3 +50ft.
16th +16/+11/+6/+1 +10 +10 +5 Slowfall 80ft. +3 +50ft.
17th +17/+12/+7/+2 +10 +10 +5 Bonus Feat, Ninja Strike +9d6 +3 +50ft.
18th +18/+13/+8/+3 +11 +11 +6 Slowfall 80ft,. Trapsense +6 +3 +60ft.
19th +19/+14/+9/+4 +11 +11 +6 Bonus Feat, Ninja Strike +10d6 +3 +60ft.
20th +20/+15/+10/+5 +12 +12 +6 Slowfall ∞, Bonus Feat +4 +60ft.

Class Skills 6+ Int modifier per level, ×4 at 1st level)
Craft any (Int), Balance (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Disable Device (Int), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Gather Information (Cha), Hide(Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Jump(Str), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Open Lock (Int), Search (Int), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Spot (Wis), Survival (Wis), Swim (Str), Tumble (Dex), Use Rope (Dex)

Class Features[edit]

All of the following are class features of the Ninja.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Ninjas are proficient with all Simple weapons as well as the Kama, Katana, Kusari-Gama, Ninja-to, Nekoda, Nunchaku, Sai, Shortbow, Shuriken, and Tonfa. Ninjas are not proficient with any armor or shields.

When wearing armor, using a shield, or carrying a medium or heavy load, a Ninja loses her AC bonus, as well as her fast movement.

AC Bonus (Ex): When unarmored and unencumbered, the Ninja adds her Wisdom bonus (if any) to her AC. In addition, a Ninja gains a +1 bonus to AC at 5th level. This bonus increases by 1 for every five Ninja levels thereafter (+2 at 10th, +3 at 15th, and +4 at 20th level).

These bonuses to AC apply even against touch attacks or when the Ninja is flat-footed. She loses these bonuses when she is immobilized or helpless, when she wears any armor, when she carries a shield, or when she carries a medium or heavy load.

Trapfinding: Ninjas can use the Search skill to locate traps when the task has a Difficulty Class higher than 20.

Finding a nonmagical traps has a DC of at least 20, or higher if it is well hidden. Finding a magic traps has a DC of 25 + the level of the spell used to create it.

Ninjas can use the Disable Device skill to disarm magic traps. A magic traps generally has a DC of 25 + the level of the spell used to create it.

A Ninja who beats a trap’s DC by 10 or more with a Disable Device check can study a trap, figure out how it works, and bypass it (with her party) without disarming it.

Improved Unarmed Strike: You are considered to be armed even when unarmed—that is, you do not provoke attacks or opportunity from armed opponents when you attack them while unarmed. However, you still get an attack of opportunity against any opponent who makes an unarmed attack on you.

In addition, your unarmed strikes can deal lethal or nonlethal damage, at your option.

Ninja Strike: If a ninja can catch an opponent when he is unable to defend himself effectively from her attack, she can strike a vital spot for extra damage.

The ninja’s attack deals extra damage any time her target would be denied a Dexterity bonus to AC (whether the target actually has a Dexterity bonus or not), or when the ninja flanks her target. This extra damage is 1d6 at 1st level, and it increases by 1d6 every two ninja levels thereafter. Should the ninja score a critical hit with a sneak attack, this extra damage is not multiplied.

Two-Weapon Fighting: Your penalties on attack rolls for fighting with two weapons are reduced. The penalty for your primary hand lessens by 2 and the one for your off hand lessens by 6.

Evasion (Ex): At 2nd level or higher if a Ninja makes a successful Reflex saving throw against an attack that normally deals half damage on a successful save, she instead takes no damage. Evasion can be used only if a Ninja is wearing light armor or no armor. A helpless Ninja does not gain the benefit of evasion.

Trap Sense (Ex): At 3rd level, a Ninja gains an intuitive sense that alerts her to danger from traps, giving her a +1 bonus on Reflex saves made to avoid traps and a +1 dodge bonus to AC against attacks made by traps. These bonuses rise to +2 when the Ninja reaches 6th level, to +3 when she reaches 9th level, to +4 when she reaches 12th level, to +5 at 15th, and to +6 at 18th level.

Trap sense bonuses gained from multiple classes stack.

Poison Use: At 3rd level, Ninjas are trained in the use of poison and never risk accidentally poisoning themselves when applying poison to a blade.

Slow Fall (Ex): At 4th level or higher, a Ninja within arm’s reach of a wall can use it to slow her descent. When first using this ability, she takes damage as if the fall were 20 feet shorter than it actually is. The Ninja's ability to slow her fall (that is, to reduce the effective distance of the fall when next to a wall) improves with her Ninja level until at 20th level she can use a nearby wall to slow her descent and fall any distance without harm.

Uncanny Dodge (Ex): Starting at 4th level, a Ninja can react to danger before her senses would normally allow her to do so. She retains her Dexterity bonus to AC (if any) even if she is caught flat-footed or struck by an invisible attacker. However, she still loses her Dexterity bonus to AC if immobilized.

If a Ninja already has uncanny dodge from a different class she automatically gains improved uncanny dodge (see below) instead.

Improved Two-Weapon Fighting:In addition to the standard single extra attack you get with an off-hand weapon, you get a second attack with it, albeit at a –5 penalty.

Improved Uncanny Dodge (Ex): A Ninja of 8th level or higher can no longer be flanked.

This defense denies another rogue the ability to sneak attack the character by flanking her, unless the attacker has at least four more rogue levels than the target does.

If a character already has uncanny dodge (see above) from a second class, the character automatically gains improved uncanny dodge instead, and the levels from the classes that grant uncanny dodge stack to determine the minimum rogue level required to flank the character.

Improved Evasion (Ex): At 9th level, a Ninja's evasion ability improves. She still takes no damage on a successful Reflex saving throw against attacks, but henceforth she takes only half damage on a failed save. A helpless ninja does not gain the benefit of improved evasion.

Greater Two-Weapon Fighting: You get a third attack with your off-hand weapon, albeit at a –10 penalty.


Like a member of any other class, a Ninja may be a multiclass character, but multiclass Ninjas face a special restriction. A Ninjas who gains a new class or (if already multiclass) raises another class by a level may never again raise her Ninja level, though she retains all her Ninja abilities. Fighters, Rogues, Rangers, Scouts however, have enough poise to be an "okay" classes, even though some ninjas may frown upon such a multi-class.

Campaign Information[edit]

Playing a Ninja[edit]

Religion and Class Structure: Ninja are a secretive people, so it is uncertain just what gods they worship. Rumors from centuries ago whispered of a goddess who actually gave birth to the first shadow. Another told of a cloaked figure who wore an outfit that was dyed in the blood of his enemies. Whether this is true or not is anyone’s guess, as no one has seen a ninja in decades, let alone a ninja worship.

Most ninja operate in clans, but there have been historical instances of lone ninja, trained by elders and retired shadow warriors, being part of ninja legend. Such ninja are uncommon, but not overly rare. Such ninja do not have knowledge to the ninja’s alleged secret gods, but lone ninja, if they do have a patron deity, tend to worship Olidammara.

Other Classes: Being secretive, ninjas have difficulty dealing with other classes, seeing as how they need to keep their secrets secret. However, lone or unaffiliated ninja tend to form minor relations with monks and clerics, and sometimes rangers and rogues. They tend to avoid paladins because of their contrasting natures, and they try staying away from barbarians, viewing them as fools who think two steps behind.

Combat: The ninja's role in the party varies from situation to situation. In combat, they function primarily as mystical strikers, using their amazing powers of stealth and subtlety to make an opportune strike against a foe. Their hefty skill points also allow them to fulfill the rogue's role as a skill-monkey very effectively, even though the ninja has a slightly smaller skill list. The ninja can also function as a mysterious wild card if the occassion calls for it.

Advancement: Most ninja have families that have lived as part of a clan for several generations. Some of these ninja will often feel a strong sense of duty, believing the precepts of the clan override any personal objective. Of course, not every ninja was born into a clan. Some in fact, were born in poverty, finding a clan through fate, though some may say sheer coincidence. Others still were taught by those who fled their clan, earning the eternal ire of anyone these missing ninja have trained.

Ninjas in the World[edit]

If you want family, find your parents. If you want love, get married and have children. If you want friendship, find a bum lying in the street and confide in him. If you want forgiveness, find a priest and confess your sins. If you want warmth and comfort, grab a blanket and sit by the fire. We cannot offer you such things. However, if you need a reason, a way, then follow us, and we will show you one.
—Unknown Ninja

The ninja is a class that can fit in many worlds. Their eastern origins and exotic flavor make them appealing to anyone who likes the mysteries of the Orient. In fact, it is possible to apply the ninja to the many medieval realms via the use of cultural diffusion. Remember: Nothing is impossible, especially for a ninja.

Daily Life: The life of a ninja can be quite diverse. Though most are devoted to their clan, they are not with their fellow clansman very often. Usually, they will roam the shadows, blending into the environments of the areas they must become a part of. Their missions force them to adapt, improvise, and blend. Any time a ninja is not off on a mission, they likely spend their time in meditation or training, using the time to strengthen their minds and bodies. Ninja who are not affiliated with a clan sometimes work as hidden mercenaries or bodyguards, becoming a valuable asset for a noble fearing for his life. For them, having their own knife in the dark means the other blades will quickly drop.

Notables: One of the most famous ninja was a rat-man originally born with no name. Born in Telflamm without a name to call his own, the rat-man slept in the streets, abandoned by the parents he would never know.

When he was in his teens, he met Ulysses Farlon, who trained the young rat-man in guerilla warfare. In time, he served under Ulysses as a military scout. When his officer was killed, the nameless rat-man was discharged. He eventually took a ship to the eastern realms of Kara-Tur, hoping to make a new life.

In time, the nameless rat-man caught the attention of the Kuroyaiba ninja clan, a small clan devoted to the destruction of the Nine Golden Swords. Viewing a potential ally against the evil yakuza, the clan took in the rat-man. Training him in the ways of mystical silence, the nameless one became a strong ninja in his own right. Combined with his tactical abilities from his scouting days, the rat-man ninja became a bane of the Golden Swords, destroying shipments, slaying family members, and sabotaging the yakuza's various operations. During his days with the clan, the rat-man was taught the value of life, being taught never to kill unless necessary. In time, he was finally given a name: Nezumi Tatsujin, meaning "rat master".

After ten years of service to the clan, a rugged and hardened Nezumi learned of the Nine Golden Swords' operation to extend their influence in Faerun. Seeing Telflamm as the easiest place to strike from, Nezumi departed the clan with their blessing. Returning to the city he grew up, he saw the eastern influences of Kara-Tur had blended into many areas of Telflamm. Setting up a small base of operations, Nezumi took up a secret crusade to destroy the Golden Swords from within. However, the actual exploits of Nezumi are unknown as various guilds and groups have taken credit for many anti-yakuza attacks.

Organizations: The Kuroyaiba and Akaryu ninja clans have been sworn enemies for over 200 years, but the Kuroyaiba are the younger (and smaller) clan.

It all began when the Kuroyaiba, originally a band of courageous samurai, were defeated by the yakuza. After learning the location of their secret locations, the samurai, disguised as Akaryu ninja, infiltrated the Akaryu clan's temple in the mountains of Kozakura and stole the clan's Scroll of Secrets. Within the Scroll contained the skills and mystical powers the Akaryu obtained over several generations. Using the scroll as a baseline, the samurai eventually instilled in their children the power of surprise and subtlety. Eventually, the Kuroyaiba became like the Akaryu in all ways but one: Where the Akaryu served the Nine Golden Swords and killed all who got in their way, the Kuroyaiba clan opposed them and killed those who would slay the innocent.

Now, the clans still wage their secret war in Kozakura. Since few in the region are willing to stand against the Nine Golden Swords, the Kuroyaiba clan has far fewer members than the Akaryu. Nevertheless, the Kuroyaiba continues to fight to see the end of the yakuza, and 200 years of combat has not wavered their courage or convictions.

NPC Reactions: The perceptions people have of the ninja have normally come from storytellers, soldiers, and scholars, and these perceptions are often less than educated. These people usually view the ninja as silent cutthroats, willing to kill for money and power. In reality, the ninja are far more complicated.

Though some of them have this attitude, many ninja are also scouts and bodyguards. Some others work as thieves and saboteurs for military organizations. Others still will protect the innocent. Unfortunately, these truths do not ease the tension and hesitation people have about the ninja, so most will approach them with caution.

Ninja Lore[edit]

Characters with ranks in Knowledge (history) can research the ninja to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.

Knowledge (history)
DC Result
10 The ninja are a silent lot, believed to be ruthless assassins and thieves.
15 The ninja are a group of exotic origin, said to have mysterious powers of stealth.
20 Ninja harness the power of their inner spirits, becoming able to disappear completely.
30 Any PC who succeeds on this check can learn info about a specific ninja clan.

Ninja in the Game[edit]

The ninja can fulfill the role of a rogue well, but they do it differently. While the rogue uses extraordinary skill, the ninja use supernatural abilities to fight their enemy. Nevertheless, the ninja still fight in much the same way as the rogue, waiting for the best moment to strike down an enemy. Despite a shorter list of skills, the ninja are still a versatile and flexible group with a variety of useful abilities.

Adaptation: The easiest substitute for the ninja is, of course, the rogue. Since their sneak attack does more damage overall than the ninja's stealthy strike, so they can do the ninja's job well. Taking out the rogue special abilities and putting in the path I walk abilites that don't rely on ki power can make a good substitute to the ninja. Additionally, a beguiler with a medium base attack bonus works fairly well, too.

Sample Encounter: Even though they are not the hardiest combatants one would meet, the ninja are still a group that requires caution. Their knack for causing confusion and disruption, combined with their mystical abilities, make them formidible enemies. The element of surprise is a powerful weapon, one the ninja can use with deadly effect, whether it be to kill a target, steal a valuable diamond, or guard a just lord from the blackness of the dark.

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