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In the popular imagination, the samurai is a ferocious and volatile warrior, thanks to an inscrutable code of honor that drives him to seemingly random acts of violence and fanaticism. In truth, however, he is a cultured soldier who strives to be courteous, brave, and unswervingly loyal to his overlord.

Originally Posted by geekmasterflash of the Wizards Community forums.

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Adventurers: The Samurai will often take up quests for their lord, no matter what the difficulty. Sometimes a Samurai will lose his master, if such were to occur the will travel the world in search of a new master. If for whatever reason they were directly responsible for the death of his master he then becomes a Ronin.

Characteristics: Samurai’s are very capable warriors, honing their skills whenever possible. They are allowed to use all simple weapons plus all weapons that are considered Oriental.

Alignment: Samurai’s can be of any lawful alignment. However most are of the Lawful Neutral alignment. Either way they are bound by honor no matter what alignment they are. The reason being that they must lead a life of Order.

Religion: The samurai often takes on the patron god of his lord. But as with every case there will be exceptions.

Background: Samurai learn their combat techniques and the principals of bushido in established, rigorously organized schools. Every family maintains at least one training dojo, if not more.

Races: Any race if available to become a Samurai, as long as they have the requirements and the spirit to serve a master unquestionably. Humans are the most prominent.

Other Classes: The samurai feels most at home with the other warrior-based classes. He feels he shares a common bond when traveling with them. He is especially curious of the paladins code of honor.


Samurai have the following game statistics.

Abilities: Strength is especially important for Samurai because it improves their melee attack and damage rolls. Constitution is important for giving samurai lots of hit points, which they will need in their many battles. Dexterity is important for Samurai who plan to be archers or are lightly armored.

Alignment: Any Lawful

Hit Die: d8

Skill Selection: (4 + Intelligence modifier) x 4

Skill Progression: 4 + Intelligence modifier

Starting Wealth: 6d4 x 10 gp

Class Skills

The Samurai’s Class Skills (and the Key Abilities for each skill) are as follows.

Battle (Wisdom), Climb (Strength), Craft (Intelligence), Diplomacy (Charisma), Handle Animal (Charisma), Iaijutsu Focus (Charisma), Intimidate (Charisma), Jump (Strength), Perform (Charisma), Profession (Wisdom), Ride (Dexterity), Sense Motive (Charisma), Swim (Strength), and Knowledge (history)(Intelligence) and , Knowledge (nobility and royalty)(Intelligence)

The Samurai
LevelBase Attack BonusFort SaveRef SaveWill SaveSpecial
1+1+2+2+0Honor’s Challenge
2+2+3+3+0Clan Feat
3+3+3+3+1Kiai Smite 1/day
4+4+4+4+1Honor’s Challenge: Test of Mettle
5+5+4+4+1Clan Feat
7+7/2+5+5+2Kiai Smite 2/day
8+8/3+6+6+2Clan Feat
9+9/4+6+6+3Honor’s Challenge: Call to Battle
11+11/6/1+7+7+3Clan Feat
12+12/7/2+8+8+4Kiai Smite 3/day
13+13/8/3+8+8+4Honor’s Challenge: Daunting Challenge
15+15/10/5+9+9+5Clan Feat
16+16/11/6/1+10+10+5Bond of Loyalty
17+17/12/7/2+10+10+5Kiai Smite 4/day
18+18/13/8/3+11+11+6Clan Feat
20+20/15/10/5+12+12+6Loyal Beyond Death


All of the following are class features of the Samurai.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Samurai are proficient with all simple and martial weapons and with light and medium armor. Samurai are not proficient with shields. Note that armor check penalties for armor heavier than leather apply to the skills Balance, Climb, Escape Artist, Hide, Jump, Move Silently, Pick Pocket, and Tumble. Also Swim checks suffer a -1 penalty for every 5 pounds of armor and equipment carried.

Honor’s Challenge: Starting at 1st level, a samurai gains the power to call out a foe and gain various advantages in combat. The subject of the challenge must meet certain requirements as noted in the Knight class description.

As the samurai gains levels in the class, these advantages become more potent. The samurai can use this ability a number of times per day equal to half his samurai class level + his Charisma bonus (minimum once per day). Each of the effects described below consumes one daily use of the samurai’s challenge ability.

At 1st level, a samurai can issue a fighting challenge against a single foe as a swift action. The samurai gets a boost from the challenge and gains a +1 morale bonus on Will saves and a +1 morale bonus on attack and damage rolls against the challenged foe. If the foe defeats the samurai (by reducing his to 0 hit points or less), the samurai loses two uses of his Honor’s challenge ability because of the blow to his ego. The effect of a fighting challenge lasts for a number of rounds equal to 5 + your Charisma bonus (if any).

At 7th level, the bonus from this ability increases to +2. At 13th level, it rises to +3. At 19th level, it increases to +4.

Starting at 4th level, a samurai can issue a test of mettle. This is a general challenge to all foes within 100 feet. Affected creatures must make Will saves (DC 10 + 1/2 samurai level + the samurai’s Charisma modifier). Creatures that fail this save are forced to attack the samurai with their ranged or melee attacks (or spells or special attacks) in preference over other available targets. Using this power is a swift action.

If the samurai is reduced to 0 or fewer hit points by any opponent forced to attack his through this ability, he experiences a burst of confidence (from facing a slew of foes) and an additional use of his samurai’s challenge ability for the current day.

Starting at 9th level, a samurai can issue a call to battle, which makes his an inspiring figure to an ally. As a swift action, the samurai grants one ally an extra save against a fear effect (after failing the initial save against the effect). The ally gains a bonus on the extra save equal to the samurai’s Charisma bonus (if any). If the second save succeeds, the ally gains the benefits of a successful save against the fear effect.

Starting at 13th level, a samurai can issue a daunting challenge as a swift action. Like a test of mettle, this is a general challenge to all foes within 100 feet. Affected creatures must make Will saves (DC 10 + 1/2 samurai level + the samurai’s Charisma modifier). Creatures that fail this save are shaken.

Clan Feats
At second level the Samurai gets a clan feat. Every time the Samurai gains a Clan feat, he must choose a feat from the Clan Feat list.
BadgerArmor Proficiency (Heavy), Endurance, Great Fortitude, Power Attack, Cleave, Improved Bull Rush, Sunder, Great Cleave, Toughness, Weapon Focus (Ono, die tsuchi, katana)


Blind Fight, Dodge, Iron Will, Mobility, Quick Draw, Skill Focus (Spell craft), Exotic Weapon Proficiency (chijiriki, kusari-gama, kawanga, lajatang, manriki-gusari, parangu, shikomizue, tankoji), Weapon Focus (Kama, nunchuku, yari, nagamaki, chijiriki, kusari-gama, kawanga, lajatang, manriki-gusari, parangu, shikomizue, tankoji)


Armor Proficiency (Heavy), Endurance, Power Attack, Cleave, Improved Bull Rush, Sunder, Great Cleave, Skill Focus (Craft: armor smiting), Weapon Focus (warhammer, mai chong, katana)
CentipedeAlertness, Combat Reflexes, Combat Expertise, Improved Disarm, Improved Trip, Whirlwind Attack, Weapon Focus (Katana)
CrabArmor Proficiency (Heavy), Dodge, Mobility, Spring Attack, Endurance, Power Attack, Cleave, Improved Bull Rush, Sunder,
Great Cleave, Run, Toughness, Weapon Focus (battle axe, Greatclub, katana, and warhammer)
CraneDodge, Mobility, Spring Attack, Combat Expertise, Improved Disarm, Improved Trip, Whirlwind Attack, Improved Initiative, Quick Draw, Skill Focus (Iaijutsu Focus), Toughness, Weapon Focus (Katana)
DragonImproved Grapple, Choke Hold, Improved Unarmed Strike, Defensive Throw, Deflect Arrows, Grappling Block, Great Throw, Stunning Fist, Two weapon fighting, Improved Two weapon fighting, Greater Improved Two weapon fighting, Weapon Focus (Katana, Wakizashi)
DragonflyIron Will, Point Blank Shot, Far shot, Precise Shot, Rapid Shot, Shot on the Run, Toughness, Void Use, Weapon Focus (katana, yumi)
FalconAlertness, Skill Focus (Knowledge (ghosts), Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Power Attack, Cleave, Improved Bull Rush, Sunder, Great Cleave, Weapon Focus (katana, tetsubo)
FoxAlertness, Dodge, Combat Expertise, Improved Disarm, Improved Trip, Whirlwind Attack , Mobility, Spring Attack, Run, Weapon Focus (katana)
HareBlindfighting, Dodge, Combat Expertise, Improved Disarm, Improved Trip, Whirlwind Attack , Mobility, Spring Attack, Run, Weapon Focus (Katana)
Imperial Families
Select Clan of choice.
LionEndurance, Combat Expertise, Improved Disarm, Improved Trip, Whirlwind Attack , Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Ki Shout, Great Ki Shout, Remain conscious, Skill Focus (Battle), Toughness, Weapon Focus (katana)


Two weapon fighting, Power Attack, Cleave, Improved Bull Rush, Sunder, Great Cleave, Exotic Weapon Proficiency (chijiriki, kusari-gama, kawanga, lajatang, manriki-gusari, parangu, shikomizue, tankoji), Improved Two Weapon fighting, Weapon Focus (chijiriki, kusari-gama, kawanga, lajatang, manriki-gusari, parangu, shikomizue, tankoji)
MonkeyAlertness, Blind-Fight, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Improved Initiative, Leadership, Mobility, Spring Attack, Weapon Focus (Katana)
OxImproved Initiative, Mounted Combat, Mounted Archery, Ride-by-attack, Spirited Charge, Trample, Quick Draw, Weapon Focus (katana)
OrioleEndurance, Power Attack, Cleave, Improved Bull Rush, Sunder, Great Cleave, Skill Focus (Craft: weapon smiting), Weapon
PhoenixAlertness, Blind-Fight, Combat Reflexes, Combat Expertise, Improved Disarm, Improved Trip, Whirlwind Attack ,
Great Fortitude, Improved Initiative, Iron Will, Quick Draw, Weapon Focus (Katana)


Blind-Fight, Dodge, Mobility, Spring Attack, Combat Expertise, Improved Disarm, Improved Trip, Whirlwind Attack, Improved Initiative, Prone Attack, Quick Draw, Weapon Focus (Katana)
SnakeBlind Fight, Dodge, Iron Will, Mobility, Quick Draw, Skill Focus (Spell craft), Weapon Focus (Katana)
SparrowDodge, Combat Expertise, Improved Disarm, Improved Trip, Whirlwind Attack , Mobility, Skill Focus (Iaijutsu Focus), Weapon Focus (Katana)
TortoiseExpertise, Improved Disarm, Improved Trip, Whirlwind Attack , Quick Draw, Prone Attack, Weapon Focus (Katana)
unicornAlertness, Mounted Combat, Mounted Archery, Trample, Ride-By Attack, Spirited Charge, Point Blank Shot, Far shot, Precise Shot, Rapid Shot, Shot on the Run, Weapon Focus (Spear, lance, Bow, Katana)

Ronin: Any fighter feats.

Kiai Smite: Starting at 3rd level, a samurai can shout once per day to improve his combat prowess. When he does so, he gains a bonus equal to his Charisma bonus (but always at least +1) on his attack and damage roll for one attack. At higher levels, he can use his kiai shout more often.

Bond of Loyalty: Starting at 16th level, a samurai gains a bond of loyalty. This allows the samurai to attempt a second saving throw if he fails a saving throw against any mind-affecting attack or effect. If the second save succeeds, the samurai gains the benefits of a successful save against the mind-affecting effect. Using this power is a free action.

Loyal Beyond Death: Starting at 20th level, a samurai becomes loyal beyond death. As a free action, he can act for one round even when reduced to -10 hit points or less, provided that his body remains more or less intact.

Character Concepts

The Quintessential Samurai

Author Sam Witt

Publisher Mongoose Publishing

Publish date 2002

OGL Section 15 qsam

Netbook can be found on the following website

The Grand OGL Wiki

The material below is designated as Open Game Content

Character concepts are a core idea for the Collector’s Series of sourcebooks from Mongoose Publishing and provide a range of templates for each character class that will allow a player to quickly and easily provide a ready background for every new character he generates. As well as providing both a small bonus and penalty to his character’s capabilities, each character concept gives a ready base for role-playing, thus greatly shortening the time taken during character creation, as well as granting that oft-needed inspiration so important for a player to feel ‘at home’ with his new character.

Any one character concept may be applied to a character as it is being created. The listed bonuses and penalties are applied, any role-playing description modified and adjusted to take into account the template and then the character is ready to play! From this point forth, both the player and the Games Master should be aware of the character concept chosen and take steps to ensure the character is played accordingly. It must be stressed, character concepts are a role-playing tool, not simply a method to gain lots of new abilities!

Ancestral Honour

Depiction of Nasu no Yoichi, archery legend of the Battle of Yashima 1184. From a hanging scroll, Watanabe Museum, Tottori Prefecture, Japan. Scanned from Turnbull, Stephen (1998). ‘The Samurai Sourcebook’. London: Cassell & Co. (cover)

The samurai take their families very seriously and believe a samurai’s true potential can only be measured by a careful study of his ancestors. Some noble families have such exalted histories it is believed that any samurai who comes from their ranks must surely become one of the greatest warriors of all time. Such projections of ancestral honour may, ultimately, prove to be untrue, however, and a samurai who fails himself and his honourable family in this way may never live down his disgrace. Children who rise from such lines find their every victory lavishly praised, but their failures are loudly and universally condemned as horrible personal shortcomings. This leads many samurai into cycles of elation and depression as their families alternately praise or condemn their actions.

Adventuring: Samurai with families rich in honourable traditions must strive to prove themselves again and again. While other samurai are content to perform the occasional heroic deed or submit an honourable service to their daimyo, those with this character concept are in a race against time to accomplish more than the previous generation. This can lead to a dangerous tendency to overestimate the capabilities of an adventuring party and following a samurai from this type of family can be extremely hazardous.

Role-playing: Desperate to prove themselves to a demanding family, samurai with this character concept are hell bent on proving their worth to themselves and their ancestors. Ready to accept difficult challenges without pause, this samurai appears brave and confident to everyone. Inside, however, there is always the fear of not measuring up, of falling short of what is expected by his family and himself. Where others fall behind and reconsider their options, this samurai presses on, battling his own fears for the chance to become worthy of his own name.

Bonuses: The first time each level that a character with this concept gains honour, he gains an additional 1 point of honour.

Penalties: The first time each level that a character with this concept loses honour, he loses an additional 1 point of honour.


Kanadehon Chu-shingura by Toyokuni Utagawa

In times of war, lords must often rely on less-than-ideal warriors, arming their peasants as best they can in the hope of protecting their territory or assaulting the nearby Domains of their enemies. Known as ashigaru, these peasants are poorly trained and horribly equipped, often operating without armour and using only the crudest of weapons. Still, those who survive long as an ashigaru are able to distinguish themselves amongst their peers, standing out as capable combatants. A few of these survivors come to the attention of their lord and, if they act honourably, become samurai. Hardened by the worst battle conditions and well aware of the contempt with which samurai and the nobles they serve view their social inferiors, ashigaru are often tough, cynical men able to do whatever their lord asks of them.

Adventuring: Former peasants can be an embarrassment to keep around the lord’s court. As a result, many samurai elevated from the ranks of the ashigaru find themselves assigned to the hinterlands of their lord’s estates. While all samurai are regarded as more valuable than a simple peasant, the samurai lifted up from such common stock may be seen as just a bit less vital to a lord than his noble-born peers. Because of this, these samurai are often given the most dangerous tasks and assigned missions that take them far from home. It is only natural then, that they fall in with common adventurers while pursuing other goals.

Role-playing: The ashigaru know exactly where they stand in the universe – somewhere just above dung beetles but far below the elite samurai and godlike nobility. When given the coveted position of samurai, former peasants often have difficulty relating to their former superiors and feel more comfortable around their old friends. Naturally, this association with other peasants does little to improve the standing of the new samurai amongst the courtiers of his lord, leading to a nasty cycle in which the peasant samurai doubts his position and other samurai look down upon him for his choice in companions. This can lead to a former ashigaru severing all ties with his family and old friends as he struggles to become a member of the elite samurai cadre.

Bonuses: The samurai who rise from the ranks of the ashigaru are given a great deal more latitude in their actions than noble-born or more respectable samurai. Their assignments tend to be of longer duration and have less focus than other samurai, giving them the freedom to pursue their own goals and adventures. A samurai who comes from the ranks of the ashigaru need only render 3 services each year, rather than the more typical 6 required of other samurai.

Penalties: Coming from peasant stock, this samurai suffers a social stigma, which often leaves him excluded from the upper tiers of samurai society. The first time each level this samurai gains honour, he gains one point less than he would normally, to a minimum of zero honour gained.

Dragon Family

Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861) This print illustrates the Minamoto warrior Kajiwara Genda Kagesue fighting near the forest of Ikuda.

Amongst the samurai, dragons are sacred creatures. They represent the fierce warrior spirit, the indomitable samurai will and the Wisdom that comes only with true enlightenment. In legends, the greatest of samurai are said to descend from the dragons themselves. Characters with this background come from families which, right or wrong, are believed to have draconic ancestry many generations in the past. Destined for noble fates and blessed with the powerful spirit of the dragons, these samurai are impressive figures.

Adventuring: Seeking a connection to their past, samurai from dragon families are often given leave to seek out the secrets of their ancestry. While the daimyo may not be entirely comfortable with allowing his samurai to leave for extended periods of time, the chance to gain an ally from the dragon families is a tempting lure.

Adventuring bands find the company of a dragon family member quite pleasant as well – his noble standing and commanding aura can often handle problems with local authorities quickly and efficiently. Of course, outside of his own lands, the samurai may not be so ready to expose his true allegiances 

Role-playing: The dragon families believe strongly in their mystical heritage and do their best to make sure others believe as well. For the dragon family, the past is a glorious bridge to a future of honour and prestige and it is crucial to maintain contact with their heritage. Most members of the dragon families have a superiority complex, believing in their own grand destiny and the power of their ancestral spirits. While this may not always be a wise belief, it gives the samurai a sense of self-assurance few can equal.

Bonuses: Samurai from dragon families carry a near-mythical aura of honour and prestige with them wherever they go. During social challenges, the samurai’s honour is treated as if it were 1 point higher than it actually is. This bonus does not translate in areas where honour is unimportant or is simply measured differently.

Penalties: With such mighty boots to fill, the samurai hailing from a dragon family is judged much more harshly than others when it comes to matters of honour. Whenever a dragon family samurai loses honour, he loses one point more than normal. When the samurai is travelling through areas which do not consider honour important, or which judge honour differently, this penalty does not apply.

First Born

Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861) this print depicts the strong man Matano Goro Kagehisa wrestling with Sanada Yoichi Yoshitada. He attempts to avert the murder of his comander.

As the legitimate offspring of a noble father, you stand to inherit all the titles, property and responsibilities granted to your family by the local lord. On the other hand, you may find yourself at the centre of a plot to remove you from the running, especially if you have younger siblings or more distant relatives with an eye on your birthright. Still, there is something to be said for your position and your line of descent. Places closed to others open when your family’s name is mentioned and even the most exclusive of martial schools are ready to accept you into their ranks in exchange for the favour provided by your family.

Adventuring: First born are rarely allowed to adventure openly. Those who do seek out such base pursuits must be careful never to reveal their true identity lest word of their exploits get back to their parents or guardians, who will surely do their utmost to rein in the rebellious nature of youth. Thus, many first born samurai travel incognito, disguising themselves as lowborn warriors or even pretending they are not samurai at all.

Role-playing: You are destined to rule over a small chunk of land, on which you will have absolute power. Sadly, it is still some time before you inherit what is rightfully yours and, as such, you spend most of your time wondering what it will be like to rule and contemplating clever ways to remove your father from his post before he is quite ready to turn over the reins of power. These thoughts lead you to more carefully scrutinise those close to you, however, as you contemplate the dangers inherent in your position.

Bonuses: You are able to move in even the highest of social structures and any martial school to which you apply (and have the necessary requirements to enter) will automatically accept you as a student.

Penalties: The duties of your family impose two additional obligations on you each year. In addition, if your true identity is revealed to the public at large while you are adventuring (such as if you announce your presence in an inn or otherwise attempt to use your name to gain advantage or recognition), you will suffer an additional obligation every six months for the next two years.


This print illustrates Ino Hayata Hironao who rid the country of many perilous monsters is grappling with the monstruos nue.

There are some who are born with an aura of doom hanging around their shoulders. Every action they take is shadowed by the spectre of failure and their eventual demise looms large on the horizon. Yet, despite the certainty of their own failure and the knowledge that fate has decreed for them an untimely end, the ill-fated are able to commit acts of greatness, bringing to their lives a type of immortality. While they may spend their days grousing about ruined meals and stained clothing, the ill-fated are aware of the currents of destiny around them. When the time is right, they use this knowledge to their benefit.

Adventuring: With misfortune and bad luck slinking around their heels, the ill-fated are often given farranging, dangerous assignments. Most lords admire the honour of their unfortunate samurai but are wise enough to want the curse of bad luck far from their own courts. The ill-fated are often more than happy to take on dangerous missions for their daimyo, hoping to commit some glorious deed which will secure them a place in the legendary circles of the samurai. Though they do their best to hide their bad luck from any adventuring companions who take them in, it eventually
becomes apparent that the samurai is carrying more than his fair share of misfortune. Still, the ability of the ill-fated to perform spectacularly in the clutch makes them a valuable, if often misunderstood, commodity.

Role-playing: To say an ill-fated samurai was pessimistic would be an understatement. Like all samurai, the ill fated know they are destined to die, but they believe their death could occur at any moment. They’re also certain any plan they have any part of is doomed to failure, though they’ll still give their best effort. Because they believe they are doomed, ill-fated samurai tend to take dangerous assignments and accept extreme risks, hoping to at least end their lives in a blaze of honour and glory. When push comes to shove, though, the ill-fated samurai is able to pull out all the stops and give his all in pursuit of his goal.

Bonuses: Twice per day, the ill-fated samurai may add +4 to any single roll. This ability may only be used for the commission of an honourable action.

Penalties: When an ill-fated samurai uses his bonus ability (see above), the scales of the universe tip away from his favour. For the next day, the samurai suffers a -1 circumstance penalty to all saving throws or ability checks.


Some samurai are born into their position, members of a noble family with a tradition rich in the pursuit of elite combat skills and spiritual perfection. Others are elevated to the position for exemplary service, surpassing their position in life to walk among the powerful and gifted. Still others, however, buy their way into the ranks of the samurai, purchasing the title and the training from a daimyo in dire need of a cash infusion. These lowborn samurai typically come from merchant families, though a few have less savoury origins – more than one bandit tribe
has purchased legitimacy for its members using their ill-gotten gains. Because of this, the lowborn samurai is often regarded as a lesser sort of warrior, someone who stumbled into the warrior life rather than earning the position by deeds or
fortunate birth.

Adventuring: Lowborn samurai are free-spirited and ready to test their Strength of arms and tactical abilities against anyone foolish enough to accept their challenges. Brash and headstrong, these samurai are prone to engaging in undisciplined actions, including exploring dungeons, looting ancient tombs and battling fell beasts on the borderlands. In addition to his formidable skill at arms, the lowborn samurai also has the benefit of a wealthy family and noble connections to assist himself and his companions on whatever adventures they undertake.

Role-playing: Most lowborn samurai comprehend just how far outside their culture they stand. Though they act as honourably as other samurai, it is almost impossible for them to ever be accepted within the close-knit ranks of the noble families and their warriors. Some see this as a challenge and attempt to increase their social standing through noble actions and honourable achievements. Others, however, accept their standing and use it to their advantage, enjoying the benefits of an elevated social stature and avoiding many of the responsibilities through judicious application of their wealth and familial ties. This latter type tend to be a jovial, though cynical, bunch who take every opportunity to poke fun at the established nobility
and their rigid caste structure. After all, if the lowborn samurai could buy his way into their ranks, who’s to say their ancestors didn’t do the same?

Bonuses: Unlike other samurai, the lowborn may buy off his obligations to his daimyo at a cost of 1,000 gp per level per obligation paid off in this way during the current year. Thus, a 5th level samurai who has already bought off 2 obligations would owe his daimyo 7,000 gp (1,000 for each of the samurai’s levels plus 1,000 gp for each of the previous obligations already paid off).

Penalties: The lowborn samurai has a difficult time rising in the eyes of his supposed peers. The lowborn samurai’s maximum honour is equal to his current level +2, rather than his current level +3.


(Utagawa Kuniyoshi, 1798 – 1861)

The 14th century was a time of civil war in Japan.

Orphans are common in samurai society. With the number of battles and wars fought in the name of honour or for political reasons, entire families are wiped out regularly, leaving behind only those too young or too infirm to effectively fight. When a family is not of noble birth, these orphans and elderly are taken to monasteries where they can receive care and education, allowing them to continue their lives as best they can. Scions of noble families, of course, are most often put to the sword, killed mercifully to end their line before it can fall into shame.

As a gesture of goodwill to the monks of the land, daimyos occasionally take one of these orphans into their home, raising them as a member of their own noble house. This helps to cement ties to the monastery and the nobility, without the messy entanglements involving the child’s parents and their own political or material aspirations. Known as the nameless, many of these children grow up to become samurai, leading a life in the pursuit of honour. Few, however, ever gain true acceptance amongst their adopted families and are often used as pawns in political or military manoeuvres.

Adventuring: Nameless samurai are an asset to any adventuring company. They have the benefit of belonging to a noble house and are seen, in the eyes of the people, as rightful leaders and rules. Their ability to get assistance or advice on short notice is also quite useful and their connection to the local monasteries gives them access to the services of members of an established church. Uncertain of their own heritage, the nameless often wander, travelling far and wide in a secretive quest to discover the truth of their heritage.

Role-playing: Though raised as a member of the daimyo’s household, the nameless cannot help but feel as if he might not belong. Still, samurai with this background do their best to accept their new role in life and fulfil their obligations as best they can. In the back of his mind, there may always be that niggling feeling that perhaps his relatives still live, leading to lengthy explorations for such survivors. The internal conflict of the nameless is great, however. If he finds his true parents and discovers they are lowly peasants, his own position in society will be in jeopardy but if he never seeks, can he ever truly find peace and the Inner Void?

Bonuses: Due to his connection to local monasteries, the nameless samurai absorbed many of their teachings in his early life. Because of this, the nameless may freely multiclass as a monk and may even return to that class after taking levels of the samurai class (though not the samurai prestige classes which require even more specialised training).

Penalties: The nameless lives in a state of uncertainty because he does not understand his heritage. When expending ki to fuel sword school techniques, the samurai’s honour is considered two points lower than normal for purposes of determining when he begins suffering Wisdom damage each round.

Spirit Touched

Iwasa Katsushige (1578-1650) Drei tanzende Samurai

There are many creatures that roam the world, not all of which hold the best interests of mortals at heart. Legends speak of strange spirits who mingle their bloodlines with those of humans, producing offspring who are different from both parents, caught between the worlds of flesh and spirit. Though there is no overt stigma against children formed by such unnatural unions, they are often regarded with suspicion and possible fear.

Adventuring: Like all loyal samurai, the spirit touched adventure for the chance to better their lord’s standing or to seek glory and honour for themselves. Their study into the nature of spirits and other strange creatures stands them in good stead amongst adventurers and the chance to study these beings up close (though often at swords’ point) is an irresistible lure.

Role-playing: Spirit touched characters know they are different but are unable to put their finger on just what it is that sets them apart from others. Their quest to discover the truth of their own being leads many to join monasteries or to seek out the disciplined training and spiritual refinement of samurai service in the hopes of discovering and understanding their ‘otherness’. Despite their pre-occupation with their progenitors, the spirit touched are often down-to-earth and focused in their daily lives. When presented with an opportunity to learn more about themselves
or spiritual creatures, however, the spirit touched can become obsessive and reckless
in their pursuit of knowledge.

Bonuses: The spirit touched treat Knowledge (religion) and Knowledge (the planes) as class skills, regardless of the character’s current class.

Penalties: Mundane teachings simply hold little interest for the spirit touched samurai. As a result, the samurai may not learn any other Knowledge skills other than those listed above.


There are tasks the noble samurai never stoop to perform and ways of life which the nobility find offensive in the extreme. From shoveling manure to handling dead bodies, these jobs are regarded as defiling to the body and spirit and those who perform them are seen as little more than animals and are regarded as untouchable. Despite this attitude amongst the upper classes, members of the untouchable are often able to work their way up through society, exchanging their Shovel or butcher’s knife for a merchant’s stall and, if favour smiles, for a purchased title somewhere far from their original home. Though their ancestry is forever a source of shame, these untouchables are now able to start a new life and many even find their way into the ranks of the samurai.

Adventuring: To these characters, the world has just been opened for exploration. Given the slightest chance, samurai from an untouchable background will chase after any myth or legend that strikes their fancy. Eager to solidify their new social position, they are also ready to go on any reasonable mission to improve their social standing or increase their honour. The untouchable knows the world is not fair and uses adventuring as another way to build up a buffer against any possible decline in status. If you’ve got a basement full of gold, what others think of you isn’t nearly as important. Likewise, a samurai from an untouchable background may, over time, find himself respected despite this, if only for his skill in battle.

Role-playing: As someone who knows just how cruel the upper classes can be, samurai with the untouchable character concept are more concerned with the feelings and treatment of those below their station. They are also more concerned with managing their finances and are eager to find new ways to both create and sustain wealth for themselves. While noble samurai are willing to spend fantastic sums on furnishings for their home without a second thought, an untouchable is much more concerned with keeping his money than spending it. Their desire for new experiences, however, is one sure way to relieve them of their money – a former untouchable is certain to pay whatever it costs to see the world, one of the few luxuries he will indulge in.

Bonuses: Untouchables have worldly experience not normally found amongst the samurai. At 1st level, the untouchable samurai treats all Profession and Craft skills as class skills. If the samurai purchases any ranks in these skills at 1st level, the skills in which ranks were purchased are treated as class skills for the duration of the untouchable samurai’s career.

Penalties: If an untouchable’s past is ever revealed, the untouchable immediately loses 5 points of honour. In addition, untouchables must make a Will save (DC 15) to ever spend more than 1/10th of their current wealth on any single purchase. Their fear of returning to the lifestyle of their past is an ever-present spectre in their daily activities.

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