Prestige Classes


When a samurai or other noble warrior is exiled from the service of his feudal lord, he may become a ronin - a masterless warrior cast adrift in the world, but still clinging to the remnants of his former life. Blade in hand, a ronin wanders from job to job, trying to stay one step ahead of his enemies - and the shame of his past.

The vast majority of ronin were once samurai; both game rules and theme tie the two classes together. As with the samurai class, the ronin prestige class has its roots in feudal Japan, but it’s an appropriate choice in any campaign world that includes an Asian-themed culture. “Ronin” is Japanese for “wave-man,” and ronin tend to be inveterate wanderers. Even if an Asian setting isn’t an important part of your campaign, a ronin character may be a traveler from a distant land, eager to put his dishonor behind him and live out his days in a land where no one knows the code of bushido.

Ronin are often found in the pay of less scrupulous feudal lords. Because they are trained in the art of war, they are prized as mercenaries. Those who hire a ronin should watch their employee closely. Almost every ronin has a failure of honor in his past; most involve a conflict with their former masters.

Hit Die: d10.


To qualify to become a ronin, a character must fulfill all of the following criteria.

Alignment: Any nonlawful.

Base Attack Bonus: +6.


Feats: Exotic Weapon Proficiency (bastard sword).

Special: Must have fled or been exiled from the service of a feudal lord, commonly for disobeying orders, displaying rudeness or cowardice at a crucial juncture, or failing in a crucial task.

Class Skills

The ronin's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Bluff (Cha), Craft (Int), Disguise (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (history) (Int), Knowledge (nobility) (Int), Ride (Dex), and Sense Motive (Wis).

Skill Points at Each Level: 2 + Int modifier.

Ex-Samurai Ronin Abilities

Level Base
Attack Bonus
1st +1 +2 +0 +0 Infamy, sneak attack +1d6
2nd +2 +3 +0 +0 Banzai charge
3rd +3 +3 +1 +1 -
4th +4 +4 +1 +1 Sneak attack +2d6
5th +5 +4 +1 +1 Bonus feat
6th +6 +5 +2 +2 -
7th +7 +5 +2 +2 Sneak attack +3d6
8th +8 +6 +2 +2 -
9th +9 +6 +3 +3 Bonus feat
10th +10 +7 +3 +3 Sneak attack +4d6
Class Features

All of the following are class features of the ronin prestige class.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Ronins gain no proficiency with any weapon or armor.

Infamy: The ronin’s reputation for dishonor - deserved or not - follows him everywhere. Whenever someone in a position of authority has heard of the ronin’s past (usually through a DC 10 Gather Information or Knowledge [nobility and royalty] check), that person’s attitude starts one category worse than usual, and the ronin takes a –4 circumstance penalty on all Charisma-based checks involving that person. The infamy penalty applies only if the authority figure knows the ronin’s identity, so some ronin adopt pseudonyms or secret identities.

Sneak Attack (Ex): If a ronin can catch an opponent when she is unable to defend herself effectively from his attack, he can strike a vital spot for an extra 1d6 points of damage. This extra damage increases by 1d6 points every third level (+2d6 at 4th level, +3d6 at 7th level, +4d6 at 10th level). For complete details on the sneak attack ability, see the description of the rogue class.

Banzai Charge (Ex): The ronin has cast away the code of bushido and at least a measure of his own honor, but his heart still remembers the thrill of bravery. When a ronin of 2nd level or higher charges into battle, he can accept a variable penalty to his Armor Class and take an equivalent bonus on the damage roll. The normal –2 AC penalty for charging still applies and counts toward the bonus, but the ronin cannot accept a penalty smaller than –2 or larger than his base attack bonus. For example, a 2nd-level ronin making a banzai charge could take a –8 penalty to AC in exchange for a +8 bonus on the damage roll.

Bonus Feat: The ronin’s experience in battle has taught him many tricks and techniques. At 5th and 9th level, a ronin may choose one feat from the following list: Far Shot, Improved Precise Shot, Manyshot, Mounted Archery, Mounted Combat, Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Rapid Shot, Ride-By Attack, Shot on the Run, Spirited Charge, Trample. The ronin must still meet all the prerequisites for the bonus feat.

Former Samurai

Ronins who possess levels of samurai (that is to say, are now ex-samurai) regain some of their lost class features the more levels of samurai they possess; refer to the accompanying table for details. High-level ronins retain much of their bushido training, even if fate has dealt them a treacherous blow.

Samurai Level Regained Abilities
1st–5th The ronin regains any kiai smite class feature he once possessed as a samurai, and can use it just as any samurai can.
6th–10th As above, plus the ronin regains any staredown class feature (staredown, mass staredown, improved staredown) he once possessed as a samurai, using it just as he did before he became an ex-samurai.
11th+ As above, plus an ex-samurai of this stature immediately gains a ronin level for each level of samurai he trades in. For example, a character who has thirteen levels of samurai can immediately become a 10th-level ronin with all abilities if he chooses to lose ten levels of samurai. The character level of the character does not change. However, with the loss of samurai levels, the character might lose some of the class features granted by the samurai class. Thus, an ex-samurai of 14th level could become a 4th-level ronin/10th-level samurai, but would lose the improved two swords as one, kiai smite 3/day, and improved staredown class features.