Character Classes


A class inspired by the mythologies of Asian cultures, the shugenja is a divine spellcaster who casts spells by attuning himself to the primal energies around him and focusing such energy through his body to produce magical effects. Like the samurai (described in Complete Warrior), shugenjas are often members of the noble class, though they are not as bound by honor and the code of bushido as their martial counterparts.

Shugenjas often adventure to increase their magical knowledge and personal power. They are particularly drawn to investigate disturbances in the natural harmony of the four classical elements (earth, air, fire, and water). Some shugenjas dedicate their lives to keeping the world's magic in balance, while others simply crave the power that the unchecked elements offer. Still others are drawn to plumb the depths of magic for magic's own sake, hoping eventually to learn the mysteries of void, the "fifth element" that binds the others together.

Shugenjas are much more than spell slinging sorcerers. In a fantasy culture inspired by real-world Japan, they can be the foundation of religious life - priests who teach the rituals of piety, venerate the memory of long-departed ancestors, and even measure the passage of time. They study for years to learn even the fundamental elements of their magical practice, and are the most literate class in many quasi-Asian societies. A shugenja's spells are written on ofudas (nonmagical prayer scrolls) that the shugenja carries with him, serving as a divine focus for casting the spell.

While many shugenjas attempt to follow the standards of honor and loyalty, and thus adhere to a lawful alignment, not all shugenjas live up to those standards. Shugenjas have no alignment restrictions.

If you use shugenjas in your game, you should probably also develop an Asian culture with its own religious traditions to represent their home - even if the specifi c shugenjas in your campaign are thousands of miles away from it, hailing from a far-off land you don't plan to visit. Some shugenjas exiled in a traditional D&D setting express an affinity for Boccob, Obad-Hai, or Wee Jas, while others see a parallel between the code of bushido and the teachings of Heironeous.

Shugenjas are often members of the noble class. They learn the practice of magic in religious orders attached to each clan or region, like their samurai kin. You can easily invent your own shugenja orders, employing the same principles you'd use when inventing your own domain.

Traditionally, Asian-themed D&D games have dispensed with or replaced the nonhuman races, so shugenjas have been overwhelmingly human. You can invent your own Asian races, use those described in Oriental Adventures, or mix Asian culture with the elves, dwarves and other races of traditional fantasy. With such a mix, dwarves and gnomes would be slightly more likely to become shugenjas because they have an affinity for earth.

Like samurai, shugenjas are set apart by their noble station and tend to look down upon members of other classes. Despite the prevailing view of society, shugenjas do not believe that martial prowess is the ultimate expression of honor - in fact, they look down on the samurai who settle any disagreement or matter of honor with a duel to the death. Shugenjas have little respect for members of other classes; however, shugenjas, especially adventurers, wisely understand that different classes have specialized skills and abilities often needed for success.

Because they're the preeminent spellcasters in their culture, shugenjas' spell lists run the gamut from top-notch combat spells to powerful healing and versatile utility spells. But they're less durable in a fight than their cleric brethren, and like sorcerers, they have a limited set of spells to choose from.

Alignment: Any.

Hit Die: d6.

Class Skills

The shugenja's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Heal (Wis), Knowledge (all skills, taken individually) (Int), Profession (Wis), and Spellcraft (Int).

Skill Points at 1st Level: (4 + Int modifier) x 4.

Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 4 + Int modifier.

Table: The Shugenja

Level Base
Attack Bonus
Special Spells per Day
0 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
1st +0 +0 +0 +2 Element focus, sense elements 5 3
2nd +1 +0 +0 +3   6 4
3rd +1 +1 +1 +3   6 5
4th +2 +1 +1 +4   6 6 3
5th +2 +1 +1 +4   6 6 4
6th +3 +2 +2 +5   6 6 5 3
7th +3 +2 +2 +5   6 6 6 4
8th +4 +2 +2 +6   6 6 6 5 3
9th +4 +3 +3 +6   6 6 6 6 4
10th +5 +3 +3 +7   6 6 6 6 5 3
11th +5 +3 +3 +7   6 6 6 6 6 4
12th +6/+1 +4 +4 +8   6 6 6 6 6 5 3
13th +6/+1 +4 +4 +8   6 6 6 6 6 6 4
14th +7/+2 +4 +4 +9   6 6 6 6 6 6 5 3
15th +7/+2 +5 +5 +9   6 6 6 6 6 6 6 4
16th +8/+3 +5 +5 +10   6 6 6 6 6 6 6 5 3
17th +8/+3 +5 +5 +10   6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 4
18th +9/+4 +6 +6 +11   6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 5 3
19th +9/+4 +6 +6 +11   6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 4
20th +10/+5 +6 +6 +12
6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6

Table: Shugenja Spells Known

  Spells Known*
Level 0 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
1st o+2+2 o+1+1
2nd o+3+2 o+1+1
3rd o+3+2 o+2+1
4th o+3+3 o+2+1 o+1+0
5th o+4+3 o+2+2 o+1+1
6th o+4+3 o+2+2 o+1+1 o+1+0
7th o+4+4 o+3+2 o+2+1 o+1+1
8th o+4+4 o+3+2 o+2+1 o+1+1 o+1+0
9th o+5+4 o+3+2 o+2+2 o+2+1 o+1+1
10th o+5+4 o+3+2 o+2+2 o+2+1 o+1+1 o+1+0
11th o+5+4 o+3+2 o+3+2 o+2+2 o+2+1 o+1+1
12th o+5+4 o+3+2 o+3+2 o+2+2 o+2+1 o+1+1 o+1+0
13th o+5+4 o+3+2 o+3+2 o+2+2 o+2+2 o+2+1 o+1+1
14th o+5+4 o+3+2 o+3+2 o+2+2 o+2+2 o+2+1 o+1+1 o+1+0
15th o+5+4 o+3+2 o+3+2 o+2+2 o+2+2 o+2+2 o+2+1 o+1+1
16th o+5+4 o+3+2 o+3+2 o+2+2 o+2+2 o+2+2 o+2+1 o+1+1 o+1+0
17th o+5+4 o+3+2 o+3+2 o+2+2 o+2+2 o+2+2 o+2+1 o+2+1 o+1+1
18th o+5+4 o+3+2 o+3+2 o+2+2 o+2+2 o+2+2 o+2+1 o+2+1 o+1+1 o+1+0
19th o+5+4 o+3+2 o+3+2 o+2+2 o+2+2 o+2+2 o+2+1 o+2+1 o+2+1 o+1+1
20th o+5+4 o+3+2 o+3+2 o+2+2 o+2+2 o+2+2 o+2+1 o+2+1 o+2+1 o+2+1

* At each level, a shugenja gets an order spell for each spell level, starting at 1st. The "o" on this list represents that. The number in the middle is the number of spells of the shugenja's favored element, and the final number is the additional number of spells known of any element.

Class Features

All of the following are class features of the shugenja.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Shugenjas are proficient with all simple weapons and with the short sword (they often carry a masterwork short sword called a wakizashi). They are not proficient with any type of armor, nor with shields. In their home culture, it is considered inappropriate for a shugenja to wear armor, although shugenjas serving with the military or traveling in foreign lands sometimes take the time to learn how to wear armor properly. Armor check penalties for armor heavier than leather apply to the skills Balance, Climb, Escape Artist, Hide, Jump, Move Silently, Sleight of Hand, Swim, and Tumble. Armor does not interfere with his spellcasting.

Spells: A shugenja casts divine spells (the same type of spells available to clerics and druids), which are drawn from the shugenja spell list. He can cast any spell he knows without preparing it ahead of time, the way a wizard or a cleric must (see below).

To learn or cast a spell, a shugenja must have a Charisma score equal to at least 10 + the spell level (Cha 10 for 0-level spells, Cha 11 for 1st-level spells, and so forth). The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against a shugenja's spell is 10 + the spell level + the shugenja's Charisma modifier.

Like other spellcasters, a shugenja can cast only a certain number of spells of each spell level per day. His base daily spell allotment is given on Table: The Shugenja. In addition, he receives bonus spells per day if he has a high Charisma score.

A shugenja's selection of spells is extremely limited. A shugenja begins play knowing four 0-level spells and two 1st-level spells of his choice, plus one 0-level spell and one 1st-level spell determined by his shugenja order. At each new shugenja level, he gains one or more new spells as indicated on Table: Shugenja Spells Known. (Unlike spells per day, the number of spells a shugenja knows is not affected by his Charisma score; the numbers on Table: Shugenja Spells Known are fixed.) One spell of every level is determined by the shugenja's order; sometimes these spells are normal spells on the shugenja spell list, but often they are additions to the spell list. These spells are listed with the shugenja spell list below. Half of the spells a shugenja knows must be of his chosen element, as indicated on Table: Shugenja Spells Known.

A shugenja may use a higher-level slot to cast a lower-level spell if he so chooses. For example, if an 8th-level shugenja has used up all his 3rd-level spell slots for the day but wants to cast another one, he could use a 4th-level slot to do so. The spell is still treated as its actual level, not the level of the slot used to cast it.

Upon reaching 4th level, and at every even-numbered shugenja level after that (6th, 8th, and so on), a shugenja can choose to learn a new spell in place of one he already knows. In effect, the shugenja "loses" the old spell in exchange for the new one. The new spell's level must be at least two levels lower than the highest-level shugenja spell the shugenja can cast. For instance, upon reaching 4th level, a shugenja could trade in a single 0-level spell (two spell levels below the highest-level shugenja spell he can cast, which is 2nd) for a different 0-level spell. At 6th level, he could trade in a single 0-level or 1st-level spell (since he now can cast 3rd-level shugenja spells) for a different spell of the same level. A shugenja may swap only a single spell at any given level, and must choose whether or not to swap the spell at the same time that he gains new spells known for the level. A shugenja still must honor his elemental focus.

Shugenjas do not have spellbooks, though they write their spells on ofudas. These ofudas serve as divine focus items and must be read as part of the spellcasting process. Shugenjas can use the Scribe Scroll feat to create magic scrolls that work the same as a wizard or cleric's scrolls.

When casting metamagic spells, remember that the shugenja has not prepared the spell in advance, and is doing so on the spot. The shugenja, therefore, must take more time to cast a metamagic spell than a regular spell. If its normal casting time is 1 standard action, casting a metamagic spell is a full-round action for a shugenja. For spells with a longer casting time, it takes an extra full-round action to cast the spell. Shugenjas cannot use the Quicken Spell metamagic feat.

Element Focus: All shugenjas have a favored element: air, earth, fire, or water. A shugenja's choice of specialized element is sometimes determined by the shugenja order in which he studies. At least half the spells a shugenja knows at each spell level must belong to his favored element, and the spell dictated by his order often belongs to that element as well. This is reflected on Table: Shugenja Spells Known, which indicates how many spells of each level must be spells of the shugenja's favored element. At 1st level, for example, the shugenja Kitsu Mari must know at least three 0-level water spells - one water spell determined by his order and two additional water spells, plus two other 0-level spells of any element. He also knows one 1st-level water spell from his order, one additional 1st-level water spell, and one 1st-level spell of any element. Shugenjas automatically gain the benefits of the Spell Focus feat (+1 to spell DCs) for spells from their favored element, regardless of its school.

As the cost of specializing in one element, a shugenja is prohibited from learning spells associated with a different element. The prohibited element is dictated by the favored element, as described below.

Air: Air spells are subtle, involving travel, intuition, influence, divination, and illusion. Earth is the prohibited element for air shugenjas. The Order of the All-Seeing Eye and the Order of the Spring Zephyr specialize in air magic.

Earth: Earth spells involve resilience and resolve, health and growth, and the strength of its body. Air is the prohibited element for earth shugenjas. The Order of the Impenetrable Crucible and the Order of the Perfect Sculpture specialize in earth magic.

Fire: Fire spells are destructive and blatant, though they also deal with intelligence, inspiration, and creativity. Water is the prohibited element for fire shugenjas. The Order of the Consuming Flame specializes in fire magic.

Water: Water spells involve transformation, cleansing, healing, and friendship. Fire is the prohibited element for water shugenjas. The Order of the Forbidding Wasteland and the Order of the Gentle Rain specialize in water magic.

The shugenjas of the Order of the Ineffable Mystery can specialize in any of the four elements. The Ineffable Mystery also trains shugenjas who specialize the fifth element, void.

Sense Elements (Sp): One of the first "spells" a shugenja learns - a magical effect so basic that it becomes a spell-like ability - is the ability to sense elements. As a full-round action, a shugenja can become aware of all sources of one chosen element (air, earth, fire, or water) within 10 feet of him. The shugenja learns the size of the objects but not their precise location or actual nature.

By concentrating longer, a shugenja can either extend her magical senses or gather more information about the elements he has detected. Each additional round spent in concentration allows the shugenja to add 5 feet to the radius of his sense ability, to a maximum of 5 additional feet per shugenja level. Thus, at 4th level, Kitsu Mari can sense elements to a maximum range of 30 feet by concentrating for five full rounds. Alternatively, the shugenja can focus on one source of the sensed element per round, attempting a Spellcraft check to determine more about that single item. The amount of information he learns depends on his Spellcraft check result:

Information Learned
20 or higher Item's general location (square containing it, or its nearest boundary if it is larger than a 5-foot square)
25 or higher Whether the item is natural or a spell effect. (A normal Spellcraft check against DC 20 + spell level can then determine the nature of the spell effect.)
30 or higher Whether the item is a creature or an object.
35 or higher The exact nature of the item (for example whether a creature is an efreeti or a fire elemental, whether an object is gold or stone, whether air is breathable or not.)

In subsequent rounds, a shugenja can retry his Spellcraft check on the same item, shift his attention to a different item, or extend the range of his senses.

A 1st-level shugenja can use this ability three times per day. Every five levels he advances as a shugenja allows him to use the ability an additional time per day (four times at 5th level, five times at 10th level, and so one). Like many divination spells, a shugenja's sense elements ability is blocked by 1 foot of stone, 1 inch of common metal, a thin sheet of lead, or 3 feet of wood or dirt.

For example, Kitsu Mari enters a room and concentrates to sense water. (Athough he is a water shugenja, he could just as easily sense any other element, including fire.) He becomes aware of all sources of water within 10 feet. A basin of water rests on the nightstand, a person lurks behind the door (living creatures are usually made of all four elements) holding a vial of poison - Kitsu Mari discovers three sources of water within 10 feet of him: one Medium, one Small, and one Fine. Focusing on the Medium source and concentrating for a round, he makes a Spellcraft check and gets a result of 31. He learns that the Medium source of water is a creature, that it is natural, and where it is. If the assassin behind the door has not already jumped out to attack him, he has learned that a creature is hiding behind the door... but more likely, he has learned this too late.


Variant Classes
Alternative Class Features
Dead Levels
Substitution Levels

Dead Levels

The shugenja has nineteen dead levels, but this is mitigated by their sense elements ability (the range of which increases by 5 feet each level) and gaining new spells known at every level (which can be considered special abilities in their own right). In choosing an element focus at 1st level, however, a shugenja immediately prohibits an entire descriptor of magic, limiting their spellcasting options, thus allowing for a minor ability.

Elemental Recognition (Su): Starting at 2nd level, a shugenja can identify creatures with an elemental subtype during an encounter from any distance. The shugenja gains a +2 bonus on Knowledge (the planes) checks to identify such creature types, but gains no insight about their special powers or vulnerabilities. See Knowledge. Moreover, the shugenja can make these Knowledge (the planes) checks untrained. This bonus increases by +1 for each shugenja level the character takes after 2nd level.