Character Classes


Known for their matchless bravery and strict code of honor, the samurai were the noble soldiers of feudal Japan. In a fantasy setting, the samurai brings that courage and honor to the service of a lord, general, or other leader. The reputation of samurai for being tenacious in combat often precedes them in battle, and their mere presence is often enough to make dishonorable enemies slink away in the darkness.

Samurai undertake quests and other adventures at the behest of their lord, who often uses mid- to highlevel samurai as troubleshooters. A samurai might be ordered to defend a village beset by bandits, to lead allies in battle, or to hunt down and duel a rival who has stained the lord's honor.

Wielding their signature katana (bastard sword) and wakizashi (short sword) simultaneously, samurai are as potent in melee as a fighter, although they are less versatile. Their adherence to the code of bushido is intimidating to their foes, and the fixed stare of a samurai can unnerve most opponents.

Almost every aspect of a samurai's life is ruled by the code of bushido, which demands total obedience to one's lord, bravery in the face of utmost peril, and honor and respect to superiors, peers, and lessers alike. Samurai are always lawful, stoic in demeanor, and implacable when matters of honor and justice are concerned.

In a fantasy world, some samurai worship no deity, instead relying on the code of bushido for guidance on moral and ethical issues. Others gravitate to the worship of deities of law, honor, and justice, such as Heironeous and St. Cuthbert. Some evil samurai find the tyrannical teachings of Hextor acceptable.

Samurai are traditionally of noble birth, although folk tales are replete with samurai who were orphans adopted by noble families or foot soldiers who showed outstanding bravery in battle. Becoming a samurai means untold hours learning to use the katana and wakizashi, lessons in manners and etiquette, and relentless instruction in the tenets of bushido.

The clan-based, lawful society of the dwarves would make a good match for samurai culture. Elves' long lives and sense of history could lead them down the samurai's path. Most halflings wander too much to make effective samurai, and gnomes show no particular affinity for the class. Least likely of all are half-orcs, who rarely attain a high enough station in civilized society to become samurai.

Because both classes live their lives ac cording to a code of behavior, samurai tend to get along well with paladins, although samurai are sometimes puzzled when paladins ask, "Is this the right thing to do?" (A typical samurai's response might be "You dishonor the lord by questioning his orders.") Monks are likewise admired for their strict training regimen and self-discipline. Samurai also get along well with fighters, especially if they have served in an army, and bards whose art reflects appropriate themes. Barbarians are tolerated with only a thin veneer of politeness, as are rogues who focus on larceny and other dishonorable activities.

With heavy armor and a razor-sharp blade in each hand, samurai are front-line melee combatants. They also benefit from a series of abilities that give morale penalties to their foes. In addition, because they are trained in matters of etiquette, samurai make good negotiators and spokesmen.

Alignment: Any lawful.

Hit Die: d10.

Class Skills

The samurai's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge(history) (Int), Knowledge(nobility and royalty) (Int), Ride (Dex), and Sense Motive (Wis).

Skill Points at 1st Level: (2 + Int modifier) x 4.

Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 2 + Int modifier.

Table: The Samurai

Level Base
Attack Bonus
1st +1 +2 +0 +0 Daisho proficiency
2nd +2 +3 +0 +0 Two swords as one
3rd +3 +3 +1 +1 Kiai smite 1/day
4th +4 +4 +1 +1
5th +5 +4 +1 +1 Iaijutsu master
6th +6/+1 +5 +2 +2 Staredown
7th +7/+2 +5 +2 +2 Kiai smite 2/day
8th +8/+3 +6 +2 +2 Improved Initiative
9th +9/+4 +6 +3 +3
10th +10/+5 +7 +3 +3 Mass staredown
11th +11/+6/+1 +7 +3 +3 Improved two swords as one
12th +12/+7/+2 +8 +4 +4 Kiai smite 3/day
13th +13/+8/+3 +8 +4 +4  
14th +14/+9/+4 +9 +4 +4 Improved staredown
15th +15/+10/+5 +9 +5 +5  
16th +16/+11/+6/+1 +10 +5 +5 Greater two swords as one
17th +17/+12/+7/+2 +10 +5 +5 Kiai smite 4/day
18th +18/+13/+8/+3 +11 +6 +6
19th +19/+14/+9/+4 +11 +6 +6  
20th +20/+15/+10/+5 +12 +6 +6 Frightful presence
Class Features

All of the following are class features of the samurai.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: A samurai is proficient with all simple and martial weapons, and with all types of armor, but not with shields.

Daisho Proficiency (Ex): In melee combat, a samurai favors the katana (a masterwork bastard sword) and the wakizashi (a masterwork short sword). Many samurai receive an heirloom set of these two blades, known as the daisho. Because a samurai is trained in their use, he gains Exotic Weapon Proficiency (bastard sword) as a bonus feat.

Two Swords as One (Ex): At 2nd level, a samurai has learned to wield the katana and wakizashi together. He is treated as having the Two-Weapon Fighting feat when wielding a katana and wakizashi, even if he does not meet the prerequisites for that feat.

Kiai Smite (Ex): Once per day, a samurai of 3rd level or higher can give a great cry during combat that invigorates him. When a samurai shouts (a free action), his next attack gains a bonus on the attack roll and the damage roll equal to his Charisma bonus (minimum +1).

As a samurai gains levels, he can make a kiai smite more often. However, a samurai cannot make more than one kiai smite during any given round.

Iaijutsu Master (Ex): By 5th level, a samurai has become adept at iaijutsu, a fighting technique that concentrates on drawing his weapon and striking a foe in one fluid motion. He is treated as having the Quick Draw feat, but only when he draws his katana or wakizashi.

Staredown (Ex): At 6th level, a samurai becomes able to strike fear into his foes by his mere presence. He gains a +4 bonus on Intimidate checks and can demoralize an opponent (as described in the Intimidate skill description).

Improved Initiative (Ex): At 8th level, the samurai has practiced iaijutsu techniques used in ritual duels between two samurai, and he is able to anticipate when any enemy will attack. He now has the Improved Initiative feat.

Mass Staredown (Ex): At 10th level, a samurai has sufficient presence that he can cow multiple foes. Using a Intimidate check, the samurai can demoralize all opponents within 30 feet with a single standard action.

Improved Two Swords as One (Ex): At 11th level, a samurai's prowess with the katana and wakizashi improves. He is treated as having the Improved Two-Weapon Fighting feat when wielding a katana and wakizashi, even if he does not meet the prerequisites for the feat.

Improved Staredown (Ex): At 14th level, even a glance from the hard eyes of a samurai is enough to give his foes pause. The samurai can demoralize opponents within 30 feet as a move action, not a standard action.

Greater Two Swords as One (Ex): At 16th level, fighting with a katana and wakizashi becomes second nature for a samurai. He is treated as having the Greater Two-Weapon Fighting feat when wielding a katana and wakizashi, even if he does not meet the prerequisites for that feat.

Frightful Presence (Ex): A 20th-level samurai's bravery, honor, and fighting prowess have become legendary. When the samurai draws his blade, opponents within 30 feet must succeed on a Will save (DC 20 + samurai's Cha modifier) or become panicked for 4d6 rounds (if they have 4 or fewer Hit Dice) or shaken for 4d6 rounds (if they have from 5 to 19 Hit Dice). Creatures with 20 or more Hit Dice are not affected. Any foe that successfully resists the effect cannot be affected again by the same samurai's frightful presence for 24 hours.


A samurai who ceases to be lawful or who commits an act of grave dishonor loses all samurai class features that depend on Charisma or Charisma-based checks. Minor embarrassments don't count, but major breaks with the code of bushido do. Acts that could lose a samurai his status include disobeying an order from a superior officer or feudal lord, fleeing in cowardice from an important battle, being caught in a major lie or other breach of integrity, and appallingly rude behavior. A disgraced character may not progress any farther as a samurai. He regains his class features the ability to advance in the class if he atones for his violations (see the atonement spell), assuming the feudal lord offers a chance at redemption. (Some feudal lords demand ritual suicide as the only act that cleanses the stain of dishonor.)

Like a member of any other class, a samurai may be a multiclass character, but multiclass samurai face a special restriction. A samurai who gains a level in any class other than samurai may never again raise his samurai level, though he retains all his current samurai abilities. The way of the samurai demands constant adherence to the code of bushido. Samurai may sometimes take levels in particular prestige classes without violating this code. The kensai, the knight protector, and the dwarven defender are three such examples. The Dungeon Master may designate other prestige classes as available to a samurai.

Some disgraced samurai take levels in the ronin prestige class, which gives them a chance to regain their lost class features.


Variant Classes
Alternative Class Features
Dead Levels
Substitution Levels

Dead Levels

The samurai has six dead levels, the first of which occurs at 4th level. The samurai class is a highly specialized warrior who is extremely talented at demoralizing opponents, two-weapon fighting, and making a single decisive strike. Their primary dead level ability offers an alternate use of a daily charged ability by developing a skill that samurai are already good at using.

Breaking Stare (Ex): At 4th level, the samurai can internalize their mastery of kiai into making a subject fear for their life. When attempting to change behavior, a samurai can spend 1 use of their kiai smite ability to negate a target's Wisdom modifier for a single Intimidate check. At 9th level, a samurai negates a target's modifiers on saves against fear. At 13th level, a samurai negates a target's immunity from being intimidated for being a paladin of 3rd level or higher. At 15th level, a samurai reduces the size modifier of a target by one category. At 18th level, a samurai reduces the size modifier of a target by two categories.

Interrogator (Ex): At 19th level, the samurai becomes so certain in the use of Intimidate to change behavior that the character can use it reliably even under adverse conditions. When making an Intimidate check to change behavior, the samurai may take 10 even if stress and distractions would normally prevent the character from doing so.