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Samurai base class
War, while tragic, can be a great many things. For some, it is an ocean of madness and violence. For others, it is a place to test one’s mettle and skill in combat. For the samurai, it is a way of life. Known also as bushi, the samurai is a fearsome warrior who practices swordplay and uses strength of both arm and soul in battle, carving a path of honor and glory through the ranks of their enemies.

Role: The primary function of the samurai is to engage in combat, defeating enemies left and right. Though they primarily make use of their swords, samurai also employ supernatural abilities developed through mastery of their spirit; to assume they merely fight with swords is a mistake that will only be made once.

Alignment: Any non-chaotic. The strict code of bushido and the discipline needed to gain use of their abilities leaves little room for such spontaneity and disorderliness.

Hit Die: d10.

Starting Wealth: 5d6 x 10 gil (average 175 gil). In addition, each character begins play with an outfit worth 10 gil or less.

Class Skills: The samurai’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Acrobatics (Dex), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Handle Animal (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (history) (Int), Knowledge (nobility) (Int), Perception (Wis), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), and Swim (Str).
Skill Points Per Level: 4 + Int modifier.

Class Features: All of the following are class features of the samurai.

Weapon and Armor Proficiencies: Samurai are proficient with all simple and martial weapons, the katana, and the wakizashi, and with all armor (light, medium, and heavy), but not with shields.

Limit Breaks (Su): At 1st level, the samurai receives Limit Breaks (Soul of the Sword and Way of the Warrior.)

Soul of the Sword (Su): This Limit Break allows the samurai to harness the power within his soul and channel it into his blade. For a duration of 1 round + 1 round for every four samurai levels after 1st, he gains a +1 bonus to all attack rolls that increases by 1 every four levels after. All of his attacks deal extra non-elemental damage equal to his Wis modifier + 1 for every four levels (minimum 1); this damage is not multiplied on critical hits. Finally, all of his attacks ignore incorporeality and AC bonuses granted by spells or items (such as the shell spell or a suit of armor’s enhancement bonus). This limit break requires only a swift action to activate.

Way of the Warrior (Su): This Limit Break allows the samurai to briefly attain a state of martial perfection. For 1 round + 1 round for every four samurai levels after 1st, he may automatically negate a single attack made against him per round as an immediate action. He may also make only one attack per round, but each attack is an automatic success, although none of the attacks are critical hits. This limit break requires only a swift action to activate.

Bushido (Su): Though the strict code for which the samurai is known may seem restrictive, it in fact frees the samurai’s spirit and enables him to incorporate it into his fighting. Bushido is a way of life, not a mere code of honor, and consists of eight virtues that the samurai is to live by. While the code is followed by all samurai, some aspects are followed more closely by others, varying from warrior to warrior. At 1st level, and every four levels afterward, the samurai selects one virtue, each one unlocking different abilities.

Benevolence: Through hard work and training does a samurai become quick and strong. They develop a power beyond that of the mundane folk, and are to use this power for the good of their people. This compassion is to be used to help their fellows at every opportunity, going out of their way to find an opportunity, should one not arise on its own. This aspect of bushido takes on a supernatural quality, and the kindness in the samurai’s heart empowers his allies. As a swift action, the samurai can grant all allies within 30 ft. a number of temporary hit points equal to his class level, which last for one minute or until depleted, and do not stack with any other temporary hit points. This ability may by used a number of times per day equal to his Wis modifier (minimum 1).

Courage: To hide like a turtle in a shell is to not live; a true warrior must display a heroic courage, infallible and unwavering. To be courageous is to live completely, fully, and wonderfully. This courage is not arrogant foolhardiness, but is intelligent and strong. The samurai becomes immune to non-magical fear effects, and gains a bonus against any other fear effects equal to his Wis modifier. As a swift action, he may grant this bonus to a single ally within 60 ft. for a number of rounds equal to his Wis modifier.

Honor: Warriors have only one true judge of character, and that is themselves. Every last decision they make and how the decision is made are a reflection of their inner selves, and they cannot hide from themselves. This sense of honor extends to all walks of life, including battle, and just as every step taken in their walk is to be judged, so is every single enemy. Whenever the samurai hits a creature with an attack, he gains a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls against that enemy, increasing by 1 for every four levels beyond 1st. This bonus is not cumulative, and disappears if he does not attack for one round. The bonus is negated when the samurai makes an attack against another enemy, applying to the new target only after having made a successful attack against them.

Integrity: When a warrior says he will do something, the deed is as good as done. Nothing will bar them from doing what they say they will; they do not ‘give their word’, they do not ‘promise’, for speaking and doing are one in the same to them. This honesty lets the samurai see through falsehoods as easily as glass, and can discern lies told with ease. The samurai adds half of his class level as a competence bonus to all Sense Motive checks. When speaking with someone or otherwise observing a conversation, he may select any creature within earshot, and make a Sense Motive check on those he wishes (DC 15 + creature’s HD); success means he automatically knows whether the creature is deliberately and knowingly lying, though it does not reveal the truth, nor does it register as a lie if the inaccuracies are unintentional. 

Loyalty: Responsibility for everything they have done and said is placed upon the shoulders of the warrior, as are any and all of the consequences. To those in their care and those they are responsible for, they remain fiercely true. The devotion a samurai has towards those under his watchful eye gives him a superhuman, instinctual awareness of when they are in danger. As a standard action, the samurai may select one ally he is aware of and know their general state of health and relative position, revealing any status effects the ally is suffering from and whether they are dead, fragile (alive with 3 or less hit points), wounded (alive with 4 or more hit points), healthy, undead, or neither alive nor dead (such as a construct), seeing through any spell or ability that allows them to feign death. This effect lasts for a number of hours equal to their class level, and functions so long as the samurai and ally are on the same plane of existence. He may use this ability a number of times per day equal to his Wis modifier (minimum 1).

Respect: A true warrior has no need for cruelty, nor does he need to prove his strength. A samurai is not only to be respected for their battle prowess, but also by their dealings with others. His respect for life extends to the way he helps his allies, knowing that they too support his strength. Whenever he uses the aid another action, he instead adds his Wis modifier (minimum +2) instead of the normal bonus granted to his allies.

Righteousness: All who follow the way of the warrior are to be acutely honest throughout their dealings with all people. Belief in justice is imperative, not only from others, but also from themselves. To be a true warrior, all perspectives are to receive utmost consideration in matters regarding honesty, justice, and integrity, and the warrior’s commitment to their word is absolute. The dedication a samurai has to their sense of justice allows them to detect the moral and ethical nature of those around them. They gain use of the sense evil ability of the holy knight, except it may be applied to good, evil, law, or chaos, selecting one alignment at a time for each attempt to discern the creature’s or object’s alignment.

Self-Control: The samurai is nothing if not controlled. Each and every action they make is to be deliberate, intent, and purposeful. To act without reason is to betray their teachings to the fullest extent, and so true warriors strengthen their minds with the same fervor with which they train their sword arms. A number of times per day equal to their Wis modifier, a samurai may reroll any failed Will save as an immediate action, with a +2 bonus on mind-affecting effects.

Iaido (Ex): At 1st level, a samurai gains use of the Quick Draw feat, and does not provoke attacks of opportunity when sheathing his weapon (normally a move action). At 6th level, sheathing his weapon is a free action. In addition, he is considered to be threatening all adjacent squares, even if his weapon is sheathed, and may draw it when making any attack, including attacks of opportunity.

Sharp as a Sword (Ex): At 2nd level, the samurai has begun to apply insight to his attacks, taking advantage of even the slightest opening. He is considered to have the Combat Reflexes feat, using his Wisdom modifier instead of Dexterity. Whenever the samurai makes an attack of opportunity, he adds his Wis modifier to the attack roll. If their weapon is drawn as part of the attack, then he adds his Wis modifier to the damage roll as well.

Iaijutsu (Su): When a smith makes a weapon, he is to place a little bit of his soul into every blade, for a weapon without soul is no weapon at all. A practised samurai can harness this spirit, hiding inside of every blade, and use it to power fantastic, semi-magical abilities. At 3rd level, the samurai selects one iaijutsu, and one more every four levels thereafter. To use an iaijutsu, he must start with his weapon sheathed, and draw it as a standard action. A samurai can use iaijutsus up to 3 + Wis modifier times per day.

Binding Darkness: Using this ability unleashes a wave of howling dark energy. All enemies in a 30-foot cone are dealt 1d6 points of shadow damage for every two samurai levels. A successful Reflex save (DC 10 + ½ class level + Wis modifier) halves this damage.

Cloudsea Curse: Using this ability brings forth a vaguely humanoid body of mist that bursts into a brief, pale fog. All enemies in a 10 ft. radius must make a Will save (DC 10 + ½ class level + Wis modifier) or be afflicted with the Slow status effect. This ability has a range of 60 ft.

Doomed Aspirations: Using this ability utilizes the hostile will inside their weapon to peel away their enemy’s very soul. This attack deals 1d4 points of non-elemental damage plus an additional 1d4 for every three samurai levels. The target must make a Will save (DC 10 + ½ class level + Wis modifier) or be afflicted with the Confused and Doom status effects. The Doom effect does not kill the target, merely reducing them to 0 hit points. This attack can only be used against targets within melee range.

Ethereal Embrace: Using this ability causes an alternating green and red light to flash around a single ally, granting them Haste and fast healing 1, which increases by 1 point for every three samurai levels, for a number of rounds equal to the samurai’s Wis modifier.

Purifying Breeze: Using this ability washes over the samurai and all allies within a 30 ft. radius with green light, bestowing upon them DR 5/adamantine and magic and a resistance bonus to saving throws equal to the samurai’s Wis modifier for a number of rounds equal to the samurai’s level.

Raging Inferno: Using this ability wreaks havoc on those near the samurai with blue spiritfire that arcs between them. All enemies within a 30 ft. radius of the samurai take 1d6 non-elemental damage plus 1d6 non-elemental damage for every two samurai levels, and are knocked prone. A successful Fortitude save (DC 10 + ½ class level + Wis modifier) halves the damage and prevents being knocked prone.

Rain of Wisdom: Using this ability forms illusory raindrops of red light that fall upon all allies within a 20 ft. radius, healing them 2d6 plus 1d6 for every two samurai levels.

Sanguine Blossom: Using this ability launches a streak of red and gold energy, cutting through all in its path. This attack deals 1d8 non-elemental damage to any creature in a 60 ft. line, plus an additional 1d8 per two samurai levels. A Reflex save (DC 10 + ½ class level + Wis modifier) halves this damage.

Spirit Blade: Using this ability causes an invisible sword to slash through an enemy. The target takes 1d6 non-elemental damage plus 1d6 for every three samurai levels, and takes 1d6 + ½ class level bleed damage per round for a number of rounds equal to the samurai’s level. A successful Fortitude save (DC 10 + ½ class level + Wis modifier) halves the damage and negates the bleed effect.

Verse of Oblivion: Using this ability brings forth a cloud of prismatic butterflies made of light to swirl around the area. All enemies within a 30 ft. radius of the samurai take 1d4 MP damage plus 1d4 for every two samurai levels. Creatures with pools of supernatural energy lose 1 point plus one point for every three samurai levels of their pool. A Will save (DC 10 + ½ class level + Wis modifier) halves the effect.

Zen (Ex): An aspect of a samurai’s training is the concept of zen, finding an inner calm to attain spiritual enlightenment and strengthen oneself in battle, done primarily through deep meditation. 
At 3rd level, the samurai may spend a full-round action that provokes attacks of opportunity to enter a state of mind that aids them in their pursuit of a fight’s conclusion.

At 3rd level and every four levels thereafter, the samurai chooses one zen aspect. Upon meditating, he selects one of his available options to apply, which lasts until another aspect is chosen or the samurai is asleep, rendered unconscious, dying, or dead.

Foresight: You add your Wis modifier to your initiative, and gain a +1 dodge bonus to your AC. The dodge bonus increases to +2 at 9th level, and +3 at 15th.

No-mindedness: You gain a +1 bonus to Will saves, which increases to +2 at 8th, +3 at 13th, and +4 at 18th.

Painlessness: You gain DR 1/-, which increases to DR 2/- at 9th level, and DR 3/- at 15th.

Precision: You gain a +2 bonus on critical hit confirmation rolls, and your weapon’s threat range increases by 1, after all other modifiers have been applied. At 13th, you instead gain a +4 bonus when confirming a critical hit, and your weapon’s threat range further increases by 1.

Reaction: You are never caught flat-footed, and gain use of the evasion ability. At 13th level, you are immune to flanking and gain use of the improved evasion ability.

Swordsmanship: You ignore 1 point of any damage reduction, save DR/-. At 7th level, you ignore 2 points of damage reduction, 3 at 11th, 4 at 15th, and 5 at 19th.

Vim: You gain 5 temporary hit points that refresh every hour, and do not stack with other sources of temporary hit points. At 13th level, you instead gain 10 temporary hit points.

Aikido (Ex): Despite the reputation the samurai has as an efficient, skillful slayer of foes, there is a martial principle known as aiki, which emphasizes matching with one’s opponent to defeat them, and is epitomized by harmonizing with those they fight against physically and mentally, specifically to avoid a direct clash of force. At 4th level, the samurai adds his Wis modifier to his armor class as an insight bonus so long as he has a weapon on his person, even if it is not drawn. If an enemy makes an attack roll and fails to hit the samurai, the samurai may make a free disarm attempt that does not provoke attacks of opportunity if the attacker is within melee range. This ability does not apply if the samurai is immobile or otherwise helpless.

Bonus Feat: At 4th level, a samurai may choose any single combat feat as a bonus feat, and has a fighter level equal to his class level -3 when determining feat qualifications. He gains another bonus combat feat at 8th, 12th, 16th, and 20th level. All prerequisites must be met for these feats.

Draw Flash (Su): By focusing his spirit and letting his ki flow through his arms, a samurai may make a single powerful attack by drawing his weapon and making enemies who are not even within the weapon’s reach feel its bite. At 6th level, as a full-round action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity, the samurai may draw a sheathed weapon and make a melee attack upon any creature within close range (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels), the swing making a trailing wave that shears through the air. It deals normal damage as though the samurai had hit his enemy directly with his weapon, and deals additional damage as indicated on the table. At 12th level, this ability may be used as a standard action. At 18th level, up to three times per day, the attack may target the enemy’s touch AC.

Shirahadori (Ex): At 8th level, the samurai has learned to thwart his foe’s efforts with his bare hands. So long as the samurai’s hands are unoccupied and he is not bound, helpless, or otherwise unable to use his arms, he may attempt to negate a single melee or ranged attack or melee touch attack per round with a Sense Motive check, using the enemy’s attack roll as the DC. If the check meets or surpasses the attack roll, then the attack is negated, and the samurai may apply his aikido ability to disarm his opponent if he so wishes. This ability may be used a number of times per encounter equal to his Wis modifier.

Bonecrusher (Ex): Though the samurai is to always have control over his behavior, there are times when desperation strikes and retaliation must be swift and merciless. At 15th level, whenever the samurai is attacked while at 25% health or lower, he may respond with an attack of opportunity, whether the enemy’s attack is successful or not. If the attack is successful, it is considered an automatically confirmed critical hit. This ability may be used once per encounter.

Spiritual Perfection (Ex): At 20th level, a samurai has finally reached the pinnacle of his capabilities, having attained absolute harmony between body, mind, and soul. The DC of all iaijutsu abilities increases by 2, he may have two zen abilities active at once, and shirahadori may be applied to ranged touch attacks. When using the draw flash ability, the samurai may treat it as a line effect instead of an attack. In addition, all critical threats he makes are automatically confirmed, should the attack hit in the first place.

This is an attempt on my part to offer an alternative to the Samurai archetype of the Fighter class, by making it a class all its own. Much of Final Fantasy d20 has at least some inspiration from Final Fantasy Tactics, and I was disappointed when I saw that the archetype didn't have things like the Iaido/Draw Out abilities from its Tactics incarnation. Because of that, I decided to have a go at incorporating those abilities into a class, and the result is something like a cross between a Fighter and a Holy/Dark Knight. I have a few archetypes in mind, such as one that focuses on two-weapon fighting with their daisho, specializing in polearms, or something similar to the Azure Dragoon's pinching of some Sword Saint abilities. However, that is all going to have to wait for awhile before anything is officiated, since Viladin wants to see what the XIV Samurai (which has less than two months before its release) has to offer that he can nick some ideas from.

As with anything else I make, opinions are welcomed. Here's the document, for those who are interested (and also because I can't put the tables here anyway).

Signing of Manly Man ~A Man~
Like I said before, I really like the Bushido and Zen abilities. Shirahadori is also awesome, definitely adds a unique way to stay alive to the class, and Bonecrusher is way cool as a way of keeping their damage output consistent.

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