I am a huge fan of RPGs. Like actual Role Playing Games, though now typically referred to as Tabletop RPGs or Pen and Paper RPGs. I haven’t been playing for too long, being introduced with the release of the fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons or D&D 5e, but it has thoroughly taken over my life. Being an aspiring game developer, I can’t help but come up with my own ideas for how certain mechanics should work or new ideas on less fleshed out mechanics. Dungeons and Dragons, while having a rule set, greatly encourages this type of behavior and a community of “homebrewing” has formed. This time we take on the popular Samurai Class.
I grew up watching a lot of Eastern Asian movies and martial arts masterpieces. Ever since then I’ve been obsessed with Samurai and their devotion to their honor and duty. So naturally when I started creating my own characters many of those values made their way into my creation’s personalities. Reading the Dungeon Master’s Guide(DMG) one day I noticed they had variants on the weapons of D&D. Substituting the European influences for Eastern European versions. And that got me thinkin’, “Yo, I could make a Samurai.” My goal is for the Samurai to really emphasize the whole weapon master aspect of the fighter class whilst keeping the theme intact. To make this happen I had to simplify some concepts(specifically using Kendo for all weapons. Eesh..) but I think it came out rather clean. It ends up being a hybrid between Fighter and monk
I’ll try my best to explain the reasoning behind these changes. Edits will be done in this red text. If you’d like to read the original draft without all the edits click here.
Samurai: (Second Draft)
Samurai Class Table
|1st||+2||—||Fighting Style, Martial Arts|
|3rd||+2||1||Way of the Samurai, Ki|
|4th||+2||2||Ability Score Improvement|
|6th||+3||3||Transition Strike, Stances(Third Stance)|
|7th||+3||3||Way of the Samurai Feature|
|8th||+3||4||Ability Score Improvement|
|9th||+4||4||Stance Mastery, Stances(Fourth Stance)|
|10th||+4||5||Way of the Samurai Feature|
|12th||+4||6||Ability Score Improvement|
|13th||+5||6||Action Surge,(one use) Stances(Final Stance)|
|14th||+5||7||Ability Score Improvement|
|15th||+5||7||Way of the Samurai Feature|
|16th||+5||8||Ability Score Improvement|
|17th||+6||8||Stance Mastery(second stance), Action Surge(two uses)|
|18th||+6||9||Way of the Samurai Feature|
|19th||+6||9||Ability Score Improvement|
|20th||+6||10||Extra Attack (3)|
Hit Dice: 1d8 per samurai level
Hit Points at 1st Level: 8 + your Constitution modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d8(or 5) + your Constitution modifier per fighter level after 1st
Armor: Light and Medium Armor
Weapons: Simple weapons, martial weapons
Saving Throws: Dexterity, Wisdom
Skills: Choose two skills from Acrobatics, Animal Handling, Athletics, History, Insight, Intimidation, Perception, and Survival.
- (a) Breastplate or (b) leather, Daikyu(longbow), and 20 arrows
- two martial weapons
- (a) Yari(Spear), or two Kama(sickles)
- (a) an explorer’s pack or (b) a scholar’s pack
+2 to attack rolls with ranged weapon
While you are wearing armor, you gain a +1 bonus to AC.
When you are wielding a melee weapon in one hand and no other weapons, you gain a +2 to damage rolls with that weapon.
Great Weapon Fighting:
When you roll a 1 or 2 on a damage die for an attack you make with a melee weapon that you are wielding with two hands, you can reroll the die and must use the new roll, even if the new roll is a 1 or a 2.
When you engage in two-weapon fighting you can add your ability modifier to the damage of the second attack.
At 1st level, your practice of martial arts gives you mastery of combat styles that use unarmed strikes and martial weapons.
You gain the following benefits while you are unarmed or wielding a single one-handed only weapon.
- You can use Dexterity instead of Strength for the attack and damage rolls of your unarmed strikes.
- You can roll a d4 in place of the normal damage of your unarmed strike.
- When you use the Attack action with an unarmed strike or a one-handed weapon, you can make one unarmed strike as a bonus action. For example, if you take the Attack action and attack with a quarterstaff, you can also make an unarmed strike as a bonus action, assuming you haven’t already taken a bonus action this turn.
As a Samurai you are prepared for any combat situation. As you grow you will master stances to help you in more specific situations.
There are universal effects to stances:
- While you’re in a stance you move at half speed.
- You cannot receive the bonuses with ranged weapons.
You have advantage on opportunity attacks.
- You add your Wisdom Modifier to your Attack Bonus on opportunity attacks.
/*I made this change to better incentivize a samurai having a high wisdom score. Advantage can come from many places and since stacking advantage has no benefit in Vanilla 5E it can be a bit of a bummer sometimes. Also a warrior using wisdom as a means to better read your opponent seems perfectly reasonable if my understanding of the stat is correct.
It’s a completely positive change in my opinion. *\
It costs an action or a bonus action to activate a stance. Leaving a stance is a free action. You start by picking two stances to learn and gain additional stances at levels 6, 9, and 13.
The most basic stance: You stand with you weapon out in front of you ready to react.
Point your weapon towards the ground baiting your opponent into thinking your guard is down.
+1AC + 1 ATK
The aggressive stance. You hold your weapon over your head and strike down hard. Leave yourself open.
+1 ATK, +2 DAM, -1 AC
You hold your weapon straight upwards. Able to react your opponents movements and still strike hard.
+1 AC +2 DAM
Hide the weapon behind you to confuse you opponent on your weapons length. Harder to react to an aggressive opponent.
+2 ATK, -1 AC
Way of the Samurai:
At 3rd level you are experienced enough to choose your own path in life. You can choose between the Way of the Warrior, and the Way of the Ronin. Your choice grants you feature at 3rd level and again at 7th, 10th, 15th and 18th levels.
Starting at 3rd level, your training allows you to harness the mystic energy of ki. Your access to this energy is represented by a number of ki points. Your wisdom score and monk level determines the number of points you have.
You add your Wisdom Modifier to the number of in the “Ki Points” collumn to determine your Ki point total. For example if you have a 16(+3) in wisdom, you would have 8 Ki Points to spend at 10th level. Ki points recover after a short or long rest.
You can spend these points to fuel your various techniques.
Ki Save DC = 8+ your proficiency bonus + your Wisdom modifier
Flurry of Blows:
Immediately after you take the Attack action on your turn, you can spend 1 ki point to make two unarmed strikes as a bonus action.
You can spend 1 ki point to take the Dodge action as a bonus action on your turn.
Step of the Wind:
You can spend 1 ki point to take the Disengage or Dash action as a bonus action on your turn.
/* I ended up adding Ki to the Samurai class because I wasn’t satisfied with how I gated Transition Strike behind Wisdom before. It didn’t really make sense at all, I was just trying to have Wisdom benefit the Samurai in a meaningful way. And now, by having wisdom result in more Ki points it makes it more satisfying for those who want to play the role of the “Wise Warrior.”
It also allows me to grant the class some pretty powerful abilities and gate them behind a resource.
At 5th level, you can attack twice instead of once when you take the Attack action on your turn. The number of attacks increases to three when you reach 11th level and to four when you reach 20th level.
At 6th level, when you are in a Stance you can choose to…
forgo one of your attacks use a Transition Strike. Transition Strikes are effectively the same as a normal attack but it switches you from one stance into another. You can do this once per turn and up to a total number of uses equal to your Wisdom Modifier.(minimum of 1) You regain expended uses upon finishing a short or long rest.
… expend some Ki and transform your first attack into a Transition Strike. Transition Strike effectively works like a normal attack but you deftly transition into another stance afterwards effecting the rest of your attacks that turn. Transition Strike benefits from the stance you are transitioning to. (For example if you transition from Waki to Chudan you would lose your +2 to Attack)
It costs 2 Ki points to perform a Transition Strike and can only alter your first attack meaning it can only be used once a turn.
Transition Strike’s effect varies based on the stance you are transitioning TO
Disarming Attack: When you transition into Chudan and hit a creature it must make a strength saving throw. On a failed save, it drops an object you choose. The object lands at its feet.
Goading Attack: When you transition into Gedan and hit a creature it must make a wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, the target has disadvantage on all attack rolls against targets other than you until the end of your next turn.
Menacing Attack: When you use Transition Strike into Jodan and hit a large or smaller creature, the creature must make a wisdom saving throw vs or be frightened of you until the end of your next turn.
Knock Down: When you use Transition Strike into Hassou and hit a large or smaller creature, the creature must make a Strength saving throw vs or be knocked prone.
Feinting Attack: When you Transition Strike into Waki and hit a creature your next attack against that same creature has advantage.
When you reach 9th level, you’ve grown accustomed to one of your stances and now are able to get a bit extra while using it. You are able to pick another stance to master at level 17.
Parry: While in this stance, if another creature damages you with a melee attack, you can use your reaction to reduce the damage by 1d6+DEX+WIS.
Riposte: While in this stance, if a creature misses you with a melee attack, you can use your reaction to make a melee attack against the creature.
Momentum: When you land a critical hit while in Jodan you get to make a Transition Strike as a bonus action for 0 Ki.
Harry: When you land an attack of opportunity the target’s speed is immediately set to 0 until the end of their current turn.
Iaido: While you are in this stance,
you can add your Wisdom modifier(minimum of 1) to your attack and damage rolls if you had used the “Ready” action.
if you use the Ready action to store an Attack action the attack will automatically crit if the attack lands.
At 13th level, you can push yourself beyond your normal limits for a moment. On your turn, you can spend 3 Ki points to make one additional action on top of your regular action and a possible bonus action. This also makes it so you are able to use an additional Transition Attack within the same turn.
Path of the Samurai:
The ultimate goal of samurai is to live a life full of honor and glory. Though their goals are the same some take different paths.
Way of the Warrior:
Starting when you choose this path at 3rd level, you gain proficiency in History and Calligrapher’s Tools. If you already have proficiency you gain double proficiency in these skills.
You also gain proficiency in Intelligence saving throws.
At 7th level, you can use a bonus action use a bonus action to regain hit points equal to 1d8+ your samurai level.
Once you use this feature, you must finish a short or long rest before you can use it again.
At 7th level, your ability to focus on multiple objectives increases improving your ability to react. You can now use up to two reactions per turn. In order to access the second reaction you must spend 1 Ki point.
/* Part of me is worried to give such a powerful ability at this low of a level in case there’s some multiclass abuse potential here. But I doubt most games rarely get to the level were I suspect this could be a problem and if so..
At 10th level, you get to choose an extra option from the Stance Mastery class feature.
At 15th level, your willpower and focus increase to higher levels. You gain the following benefits:
– You can’t be surprised while you are conscious
– You can add your wisdom modifier to your Initiative.
– You have advantage vs being frightened.
At 18th level, you can re-roll a saving throw that you fail. If you do so, you must use the new roll. You can use this feature twice between long rests.
At 18th level, when taking an attack of opportunity you can spend 1 ki point to use a full Attack action versus the target.
/* I decided to make the Warrior Samurai focus on attacks of opportunity(AOO) to sell the theme of them being guardians. By increasing the potency of their AOOs they are better able to protect the squishier members of their team or more thematically their lord.*\
Way of the Ronin:
Starting when you choose this path at 3rd level, you gain proficiency in
Perception Medicine and Survival, If you already have proficiency you gain double proficiency in these skills.
Also, Your speed increases by 10ft.
/*I switched perception to medicine because double proficiency perception is hilarously busted and there’s a good chance someone would multi-class as rogue to never get hit by a trap again. Honestly don’t know how I didn’t catch that the first time.
Also being able to patch yourself up is definitely a useful skill if you’re on the run.
As for the speed I wanted to sell that this path was lighter on his feet than the other. They need it since they’re always on the run.*\
At 7th level, you learn how to think on your feet and get creative while fighting making you harder to predict. You gain proficiency with improvised weapons and your Martial Arts Die increases to a d6.
Light on your Feet:
At 10th level, opportunity attacks against you have disadvantage.
You can also use Transition Strike for 1 Ki point instead of 2.
Free as the Wind:
At 15th level, your free spirit is reflected in your fighting style,
you gain additional uses of Transition Strike equal to you wisdom modifier. (minimum of 1)
you gain access to Uncanny Dodge and Evasion.
Uncanny Dodge: When an attacker that you can see hits you with an attack, you can use your reaction to halve the attack’s damage against you.
Evasion: When you are subjected to an effect that requires you to make a Dexterity saving throw to take only half damage, you instead take no damage if you succeed on a saving throw, and only half damage if you fail.
At 18th level, you become comfortable with the stress action surge leaves on your body granting you extra perks while using it:
- Action Surge costs 2 ki points instead of 3
- When you use Action Surge’s action to use the Attack action you can make one additional weapon attack as a free action.
Cover Image by Lubliner