Samurai, Variant (3.5e Class)

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This page details a Samurai class meant to be a balanced version of the Tome Samurai. You may be looking for the Samurai found in the Complete Warrior.

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Table: The The Samurai

Hit Die: d10 |- ! rowspan="2" | Level ! rowspan="2" | [[BAB|B |type=Combat Focused - Striker/DPS |desc=A version of the Samurai which is playable, and representative of the historical Samurai. }}


The samurai (or bushi) were the warriors of premodern Japan. They later made up the ruling military class that eventually became the highest ranking social caste of the Edo Period (1603-1867). Samurai employed a range of weapons such as bows and arrows, spears and guns, but their main weapon and symbol was the katana, the curved longsword unique to Japan.

Samurai were supposed to lead their lives according to the ethic code of Bushido ("the way of the warrior"). Strongly Confucian in nature, Bushido stressed concepts such as loyalty to one's master, self discipline and respectful, ethical behavior. Many samurai were also drawn to the teachings and practices of Zen Buddhism.

Making a Samurai[edit]

The Samurai is more then a simple foot soldier, they are the knights of the eastern world. They have no fear, fight according to a code of honor, and honor the authority of their lord to the point of walking into a fire if asked. The Samurai is the person who blocks the passageway katana raised as his companions flee from the oncoming hoard of orcs. The Samurai is the one who cuts his way through the legion of zombies to take on the necromancer controlling them personally. The Samurai is the member of the party who defends his comrades, whether by standing with them and shielding the mage as she cooks goblins a la fireball, or by charging the enemies lines to fell their mages and commanding officers.

The Samurai works very well with mages as their high damage output allows them to quickly kill enemies with their sights on the mage. They work incredibly well with clerics, many Samurai seeing Clerics as a Samurai who chose to serve a god rather then a lord, and a good casting of bull's strength never hurt a melee fighter. A Samurai works poorly with barbarians, finding them to be uncultured, crude, and well barbaric. They are seen by fighters as being arrogant, as a Samurai looks at the common fighter as a superior, seeing themselves as the masters and the fighters as students.

Abilities: Strength and Constitution are the main attributes for the Samurai. A Samurai also benefits from Dexterity to make up for the lack of armor proficiency for anything heavier than Splint mail.

Races: A skilled Samurai can be of any race. One should not that in the eyes of the Samurai a "True Samurai" is simply the next generation of Samurai in a long unbroken line of warriors. Any one else using the Samurai skills is considered a "Rōnin" or a swordsman by other Samurai. The difference is entirely social however as whether ones parents also followed the way of the blade, or you are the first of your line to do so is of no real importance.

Alignment: Any Lawful. A Samurai follows a strict Code of Honor, like a Paladin they must behave along these lines. Even if the law of the land is different a Samurai still follows their code and the orders of their Lord. This makes it impossible for a Samurai to be of any non-lawful alignment.

Starting Gold: 3d4x10 (Average 70 gold.) plus one masterwork Katana, and one set of Splint mail . A Samurai starts with a great weapon, and their armor is usually given to him by their lord.

Starting Age: As Fighter.

Class Skills (4 + Int modifier per level, ×4 at 1st level)
Balance (Dex), Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Hide (Dex), Jump (Str), Knowledge (all skills individually) (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Swim (Str), and Tumble (Dex).
Saving Throws Special
Fort Ref Will
1st +1 +0 +0 +2 Bushido +1, Code of Honor, Fast Movement
2nd +2 +0 +0 +3 Improved Initiative, Uncanny Dodge
3rd +3 +1 +1 +3 Deflect Arrows,Side Step
4th +4 +1 +1 +4 Vital Strike
5th +5 +1 +1 +4 Bushido +2, Improved Bull Rush
6th +6/+1 +2 +2 +5 Weapon Expertise,Kiai Shout
7th +7/+2 +2 +2 +5 Improved Side Step
8th +8/+3 +2 +2 +6 Lightning Reflexes
9th +9/+4 +3 +3 +6 Improved Vital Strike
10th +10/+5 +3 +3 +7 Bushido +3, Frightful Presence
11th +11/+6/+1 +3 +3 +7 Step Up
12th +12/+7/+2 +4 +4 +8 #Spring Attack
13th +13/+8/+3 +4 +4 +8 Wind Stance
14th +14/+9/+4 +4 +4 +9 Greater Vital Strike
15th +15/+10/+5 +5 +5 +9 Bushido +4
16th +16/+11/+6/+1 +5 +5 +10 Lightning Stance
17th +17/+12/+7/+2 +5 +5 +10 Fearless, Acrobatic Steps
18th +18/+13/+8/+3 +6 +6 +11 Bleeding Critical
19th +19/+14/+9/+4 +6 +6 +11 Greater Combat Expertise
20th +20/+15/+10/+5 +6 +6 +12 Bushido +5, Last Stand

Class Features[edit]

All of the following are class features of the Samurai.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Samurai are proficient with all simple and martial weapons, as well as a single exotic weapon appropriate to the Samurai's tradition (Usually this is a Katana). Samurai are proficient with light and medium Armor, and with Splint mail, but not with any other types of heavy armor or shields of any kind.

Bushido: The Samurai is a warrior and a scholar. The art of Bushido improves them on and off the battle field. Starting at first level, and every fifth level after that a Samurai gains a +1 to Attack, a +1 Dodge Bonus to AC, and +1 miscellaneous bonus to 5 Class skills of the Samurai's choice.

Code of Honor: The Samurai's Code of Honor is paramount to their life. The Samurai swear themselves to this code, which emphasizes duty, honor, loyalty, and obedience. This code extends not only to the samurai's lord and master, but also to his comrades and family. The Code of Honor is as follows: The samurai must protect the life and lands of his lord with his life. He must be truthful and courageous, respectful to his elders and his masters, and loyal to his friends and liege. He must conduct himself with honor and dignity. The Samurai must uphold Justice, and show mercy to those who have earned it.

Fast Movement: A Samurai's land speed is faster than the norm for his or her race by +10 feet. This benefit applies only when not carrying a heavy load. Apply this bonus before modifying the Samurai's speed because of any load carried. This bonus stacks with any other bonuses to the Samurai's land speed.

Improved Initiative: At second level, a Samurai receives Improved Initiative as a bonus feat.

Uncanny Dodge: Starting at second level, the Samurai gains the ability to react to danger before their senses would normally allow them to do so. They cannot be caught flat-footed, even if the attacker is invisible. They still lose their Dexterity bonus to AC if immobilized. A Samurai with this ability can still lose his or her Dexterity bonus to AC if an opponent successfully uses the feint action against them.

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

Deflect Arrows: Starting at third level a Samurai can knock arrows and other projectiles off course, preventing them from hitting the Samurai. The Samurai must be wielding a sword or pole-arm to use this ability. Once per round when you would normally be hit with an attack from a ranged weapon, you may deflect it so that you take no damage from it. You must be aware of the attack and not flat-footed. Attempting to deflect a ranged attack doesn't count as an action. Unusually massive ranged weapons (such as boulders or ballista bolts) and ranged attacks generated by natural attacks or spell effects can't be deflected.

Side Step: Starting at third level a Samurai gains the ability to step out of the way of an attack. As an immediate action when an attack misses the Samurai, he or she may take a five-foot step in any direction which is not directly into the path of the attack. For every five foot step taken, the Samurai looses 5 feet of movement speed on their next round. A Samurai may use this ability a number of times per round equal to his or her Dexterity modifier.

Vital Strike: Starting at fourth level a Samurai has learned a few techniques which improve the amount of damage he or she can do with a chosen weapon. The Samurai must pick one type of weapon with which to preform a Vital Strike. This choice of weapon is permanent and represents the time dedicated to perfecting the use of the Samurai's chosen weapon. As a full round action, The Samurai can make one attack at his or her highest base attack bonus that deals additional damage. Roll the weapon's damage dice for the attack twice and add the results together before adding bonuses from Strength, weapon abilities (such as flaming), precision based damage, and other damage bonuses. These extra weapon damage dice are not multiplied on a critical hit, but are added to the total.

Improved Bull Rush: At fifth level a Samurai gains Improved Bull Rush as a bonus feat.

Kiai Shout: At fifth level a Samurai gains the ability a shout, that strikes terror into your enemies. Opponents who hear the samurai and are within 30 feet may become shaken for 1d6 rounds. The Kiai Shout affects only opponents with fewer Hit Dice or levels than you have. An opponent in the affected area can resist the effect with a successful Will save (DC 10 + 1/2 your character level + your Cha modifier). You can use the benefit of this feat three times per day.

Weapon Expertise: At sixth level a Samurai gains an unparalleled expertise with his chosen weapons. The Samurai selects two of the weapons he or she is proficient with. The Samurai can draw the selected weapons as a free action as if he or she had the Quick Draw feat. In addition, whenever a critical hit is threatened with the selected weapons, he or she gains a +2 bonus on the confirmation roll. Also, the Samurai levels of Samurai count as fighter levels for the purposes of meeting the prerequisites for feats that specifically select his chosen weapons, such as Weapon Specialization.

Improved Side Step: At seventh level a Samurai no longer looses movement on their next round from side stepping an attack. In addition, they may side step an additional 2 times per round.

Lightning Reflexes: At eighth level, the Samurai get a +2 bonus on all Reflex saving throws.

Improved Vital Strike: At ninth level a Samurai's Vital Strike improves and the weapon's damage dice are now rolled three times rather then two and is now he or she may use Vital Strike as an attack action, rather then a full round action.

Frightful Presence: At tenth level a Samurai when it pulls the sword all opponents within 10 feet who have fewer levels than you must make a Will saving throw (DC 10 + 1/2 your level + your Charisma modifier). An opponent who fails his save is shaken, taking a –2 penalty on attack rolls, saves, and skill checks for a number of rounds equal to 1d6 + your Charisma modifier. A successful save indicates that the opponent is immune to your use of this feat for 24 hours. This feat cannot affect creatures with an Intelligence of 3 or lower. If you have the Renown feat, the Will save’s DC increases by 5.

Step Up: At eleventh level, when an opponent makes any movement away from a Samurai the Samurai may, as an immediate action, move up to the edge of the square the opponent has fled to provided the square is a distance away the Samurai could reach in one move action. In addition, retreating from the Samurai provokes an attack of opportunity even if the action normally would not.

Spring Attack: At twelfth level, a Samurai gains Spring Attack as a bonus feat.

Wind Stance: Starting at thirteenth level opponents attacking a Samurai gain a 20% miss chance on their next round if the Samurai moves at least 5 feet during that round. Five foot steps made using the Side Step ability count for this movement, but normal five foot steps do not.

Greater Vital Strike: At fourteenth the damage dealt by their chosen weapon is increased to four times the normal weapon damage.

Lightning Stance: At sixteenth level opponents attacking a Samurai gain a 50% miss chance on their next round if during the current round the Samurai: used two move actions, charged, bull rushed, or Side Stepped.

Fearless: Starting at seventeenth level a Samurai is immune to all fear based effects, and cannot be made to flee from battle or loose actions by any means. Gods, powerful Daemons and Devils, and other such outsiders can still effect the Samurai at the GM's discretion, but the Samurai's save DC is half what it normally would be.

Acrobatic Steps: At seventeenth level, a Samurai ignores the first 20 feet of difficult terrain he or she moves into, crosses, or exists per round.

Bleeding Critical: Starting at eighteenth level, a Samurai adds 2d6 ongoing bleed damage to every critical hit he or she lands. The bleed damage inflicted on a target from this class feature stacks with itself, but no other bleed effects will effect the target while it is bleeding from the Samurai's bleed effect. To stop bleeding the target must make a fortitude save with a DC equal to 10 + 1/2 the Samurai's level + his Strength modifier.

Greater Combat Expertise: Starting at 19th level, a Samurai can choose to take a –1 penalty on melee attack rolls and combat maneuver checks to gain a +2 dodge bonus to your Armor Class. For every +4 BAB the Samurai's possesses, the penalty increases by –1 and the dodge bonus increases by +2. Note that the BAB used to calculate the attack penalty and defense bonus is taken from the Samurai's total BAB from all class levels, and not just from BAB gained from Samurai class levels. A Samurai can only choose to use this feat when he or she is making an attack or a full-attack action with a melee weapon. The effects of this feat last until the Samurai's next turn.

Last Stand: At twentieth level a Samurai can make a last stand once per day. While the Last Stand is in effect, all melee and ranged weapons deal the minimum amount of damage to the Samurai, unless the attack scored is a critical hit. In addition, the Samurai remains conscious and is not staggered while he is below 0 hit points. Ranged attacks made by opponents deal no damage when samurai has 0 or fewer hit points. This ability has no effect on spells, environmental effects, supernatural abilities, or any other source of damage other than melee and ranged weapons. Such sources of damage affect the Samurai normally and can kill him or her (although they do not cause him to fall unconscious or to become staggered if they reduce his hit points below 0). This effect lasts for a number of rounds equal to the Samurai's total constitution score.


If a Samauri breaks his or her Code of Honor under any circumstances, or becomes a non-lawful alignment by any means, the Samurai looses all benefits of his or her Bushido ability, cannot make a Last Stand, and may be hunted down by his or her lord/an offended party. In addition the Samurai cannot level in the Samurai class until he has preformed an Atonement ritual (see the spell Atonement) and formally apologized to any individual he or she directly offended in the actions which led to the Samurai loosing his or her abilities.

Epic Samauri[edit]

Samurai's who progress beyond the 20th level receive a +1 to their Bushido Ability every 3 levels. In addition they also gain a bonus feat every even level which may be any Combat or Skill related feat.

Samurai Starting Package[edit]

Weapons: +1 Katana (Masterwork).

Gear: +1 Splint mail (Masterwork).

Gold: 28 GP.

Campaign Information[edit]

Playing a Samurai[edit]

Religion: Most Samurai follow the god or gods their lord worships, adding to their loyalty by converting religiously to their side. Samurai who do not worship as their lord does typically worship a god of Battle, Tactics, or Justice.

Other Classes: Samurai get along well with Mages, Clerics, and Paladins, all of which the Samurai hold respect for as disciplined masters of their crafts. Samurai are often seen looking down on fighters, who they consider to be beginners and will frequently offer advice in "Becoming a better warrior." which makes fighters see them as arrogant people. Samurai look at Barbarians with absolute distaste, for the mindless way the Barbarian fights and the crude and vulgar ways they act off the battle field make them the Samurai's antithesis.

Combat: In combat the Samurai is best suited to defending casters and striking at enemy tanks and casters. The Samurai is built for dishing out large amounts of damage on a single target while ignoring punishment from other opponents which surround them. In the event of the latter combat role the Samurai is often cut off from the rest of the party, meaning it would be a good idea to find an item or spell with which to allow the party's healer to heal the Samurai from a distance.

Advancement: The Samurai would benefit greatly from some levels of Cleric or Paladin as the ability to heal or buff him or herself fills a large hole in the Samurai's armor up nicely. Arcane classes are not even to be considered for the reasons of spell failing and lowering AC is a bad idea for a Samurai. The best prestige class for a Samurai is the Weapon Master

Samauri in the World[edit]

"You took my sister from me. You claim to be death itself. I do not fear you, let's see if death can die!"
—Stonyas the Warrior, Elven Samurai

Daily Life: A Samurai's life is spent in service to their lord. That which they are commanded to do, they do, offering advice but never questioning an order's wisdom or refusing to obey. Whether they are to guard their lord's home, march to war, patrol the town, or carry a message, a Samurai is always doing as his lord wishes.

Organizations: Samurai divide themselves into clans, composed of many families all of whom serve the same lord. Each Clan has its own traditions, festivals, and other such cultural elements. Lordless Samurai even have a few small "unofficial" clans which have the same features, ambitions, and designs as other clans, but usually lack the manpower and/or funds to do much of anything.

NPC Reactions: People will usually react to a Samurai the same way they would any warrior, unless the person is from an area where the Samurai are a prevalent force, in which case they will offer the Samurai all the perks of their station as members of the ruling class.

Samurai Lore[edit]

Characters with ranks in Knowledge History, Nobility, and Bard can research Samurai to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.

Knowledge History/Nobility/Bard
DC Result
5 Samurai are warriors with rich traditions dating back many generations.
10 The Samurai are said to be some of the best swordsmen around, and serve a lord with nearly religious devotion as bodyguards, servants, and advisers.
15 Samauri of sufficient skill are fearless and will not run from a fight, chasing their opponents until they catch up to and kill them. Unless the foe surrenders that is. The Samurai abide by a strict code of honor much like paladins.
20 A master Samurai is more then a match for most forces anyone could muster against him. He won't even die until his body is completely unable to move, and will swat arrows aside, dodging attacks with ease to run up and finish even the most skilled of enemies in one single blow.

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