The Samurai Class


Player character options and their spells

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Post Fri Apr 03, 2015 12:14 pm

The Samurai Class

Hello fellows!
I have been working on this class as well as a Ninja class (will post later) for use with Delving Deeper for some time. I had moved over to other projects and these have been on the back-burner for a while now. These are something of a response to similar classes posted on ODD74 a few months ago. Both sets of classes are based on those that appeared in The Dragon, but I hope that those presented here are much more usable and balanced. I have also allowed some influence from Oriental Adventures to float in.

Allow me to say that I am not an expert with OD&D mechanics, I'm pretty new with it actually. So, I am looking for ideas and critique.

I have not yet considered magic item use, so that will need sorted out.
How does the advancement chart look - too high/low XP, HD? The fighter will maintain the advantage in HD.
Saves are as the fighter.
What about special abilities, reasonably balanced or not?

New weapons are mostly flavor. The katana is considered a two-handed sword, but samurai are allowed to use them in a single hand. The daikyu is simply a longbow that allows for use while mounted.

THE SAMURAI
The warrior samurai occupied one of highest positions in the caste system of medieval Japan. They were officials, landholders, soldiers and the protectors of society. In game terms, the samurai character class is similar to a fighter, but with a focus toward particular weaponry and benefiting from a number of additional abilities.

  Code:
========================================================================
                           Samurai Progression
========================================================================
           Experience                  S a v i n g   T h r o w   V e r s u s
Samurai   Points      Hit               Wands    Paralysis    Breath
 Level    Required   Dice   Poison   Rays  Petrification  Weapon  Spells
------------------------------------------------------------------------
   1             0    1+2        12      13         14         15      16
   2         2,000    2+1        12      13         14         15      16
   3         4,000     3         10      11         12         15      14
   4         8,000     4         10      11         12         12      14
   5        16,000     5         10      11         12         12      14
   6        32,000    5+2        8       9          10         12      12
   7        65,000    6+1        8       9          10         12      12
   8        130,000    7         8       9          10         9       12
   9       240,000    8+2        6       7          8          9      10
  10       360,000     9         6       7          8          9      10
  11       480,000    10         6       7          8          9      10
  12       600,000    10+2       4       5          6         6       8
------------------------------------------------------------------------
A Samurai requires 170,000 experience points per level beyond the 12th.
A Samurai adds one hit die per two levels beyond the 11th.


Samurai characters do not have a prime requisite, because samurai are expected to be very well-rounded, versed in both military and artistic pursuits. Samurai must be of the Lawful alignment. Any samurai who changes alignment during their career will be considered a ronin and will suffer certain hindrances (see below).

Samurai are trained in the use of all armor and helmets, but not shields. However, a samurai would generally prefer to go unarmored than to wear armor that does not reflect his status (meaning generally anything over-used, dirty, of poor quality, or even of foreign design).

Samurai are trained to use the battle axe, dagger, hand axe, morning star, pole arm, short sword, spear, sword, two-handed sword and longbow. Samurai may also employ a number of new weapons – the daikyu, jitte, katana, ko-katana, kusari-gama and tessen. Other weapons are considered foreign or dishonorable and are not used by samurai. Samurai attack as clerics.

From before the age of ten, samurai train in the warrior arts, including swordsmanship, archery, horsemanship and swimming, as well as courtly etiquette. Furthermore, samurai are expected to be beholden to a lord and to follow the code of the warrior, bushido. The primary principles of bushido include:
  • Duty and loyalty to the lord unto death.
  • A samurai must conduct himself with honor and maintain proper manners and appearance.
  • To best serve the lord, a samurai must train in the military arts.
  • To best represent himself and his lord, a samurai must cultivate the classical arts – scholarship, painting and music.
  • A samurai must exhibit discipline and fortitude in all things.

Samurai receive special weapon training with their paired swords (the katana and the wakizashi) and the daikyu, and attack as fighters when employing these weapons.
  • Samurai are famous horse archers and receive no penalties when firing the daikyu from a mounted position.
  • Samurai can draw the katana or wakizashi in an instant, requiring no action and receiving no penalty to initiative.
  • Samurai may use the katana as a two-handed weapon or in a single hand.
  • Regardless of their Dexterity score, a samurai may wield the katana and wakizashi as a pair, one in each hand.
  • When wielding the katana two-handed, the samurai rolls two dice for damage and keeps the higher result. In the case of tied dice, both dice are kept and summed for the damage result.

Samurai are trained in a special form of unarmed combat called jujutsu and consequently attack as fighters when attempting to overbear. They also throw an additional die when rolling to overbear.

Upon achieving 4th level, samurai become immune to fear, both magical and mundane. However, samurai are terrifying warriors and can cause fear in lesser foes. Normal - types will not attack a 4th-level samurai if there are other opponents present and suffer a -1 penalty to morale checks.

At 9th level, the samurai is granted a land holding by his lord or is allowed to conquer new lands and establish his own domain. If kept free of marauders and monsters, the domain will draw settlers and soldiers who will each pay 1 gp in taxes each month.

RONIN
In Japanese society the term ronin refers to masterless samurai who have lost their position with the clan either through being disgraced by their own misdeeds, having their clan dispossessed of its holdings (because of war or law), or losing their lord in battle. These men often become vagrant mercenaries or criminals, though others hold to their ideals and perhaps become monks, teachers or martial instructors.

In game terms, a ronin is any samurai character who loses his position in the clan, as described above, and is dismissed from service. A samurai may also become a ronin if he ever changes from the Lawful alignment (though this will not immediately result in dismissal). Becoming a ronin is a great dishonor, and many samurai choose to commit seppuku (ritual suicide) rather than live in disgrace. A ronin does not lose the benefits of the samurai class, though he will not be allowed to establish a holding. However, ronin do suffer several disadvantages:
[list][*]Ronin take a 20% penalty to all experience points gained.
[*]They may never take on hirelings or acquire followers.
[*]From those who deduce his ronin status, the character suffers a -2 penalty to reaction checks.
[*]Finally, the ronin is banished from his lord’s domain and is proclaimed an enemy of the clan. He is considered an outlaw and criminal and will be hunted down any time he passes through the domain. Depending on the lord’s status, allied rulers may also bar the ronin from their territories.

SPECIAL RULES/NOTES
The katana weighs 10 pounds, but must be wielded two-handed. (This restriction is lifted for samurai and kensei characters.)

Dual-wielding: Characters with a Dexterity of 13 or greater may choose to fight with a weapon in each hand. Both weapons must be single-handed weapons. One weapon must be designated as the primary weapon and may weigh up to 10 pounds. If the primary weapon weighs more than 5 pounds, the secondary weapon must weigh less than the primary weapon. Dual-wielding grants the character a +1 bonus to hit.
Last edited by joseph on Thu May 07, 2015 5:04 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Post Tue Apr 07, 2015 2:21 pm

Re: The Samurai Class

You've put some good work into this. Looks good.

One question, though...

"Samurai attack as clerics.

From before the age of ten, samurai train in the warrior arts, including swordsmanship, archery, horsemanship and swimming, as well as courtly etiquette."


Given the second sentence, I was curious to find out why you suggest they attack as clerics and not fighters. Does this mean they don't attack as many times in a round as they have hit dice when fighting normal types?

I'd be more apt to liken the Samurai to the Cavalier or Paladin, making them a fighter sub-class and not a cleric sub-class (which is I think what you are essentially doing by stating they attack as clerics).
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Post Tue Apr 07, 2015 4:33 pm

Re: The Samurai Class

ehiker133 wrote:
Given the second sentence, I was curious to find out why you suggest they attack as clerics and not fighters. Does this mean they don't attack as many times in a round as they have hit dice when fighting normal types?

I'd be more apt to liken the Samurai to the Cavalier or Paladin, making them a fighter sub-class and not a cleric sub-class (which is I think what you are essentially doing by stating they attack as clerics).


Thanks for taking a look! This is interesting input.

I do intend the samurai to be a fighter sub-class. When a class description states "Attacks as..." I've always assumed it referred only to the attack matrix. Based on that, I chose to give the samurai a slower attack progression in order to allow the fighter class the edge in that regard. I don't want to make a better fighter, so to speak. Rather, the samurai focuses on three weapons and with those he can match a fighter's ability.

Does the attack matrix of a class necessarily determine it's parent class?

They would not have the fighter's ability to make multiple attacks based on HD. With OD&D, were fighter sub-classes allowed that ability? I didn't think that would be the case as it would seem to detract from the fighter a bit. I am however no expert on this, still learning DD/ OD&D.

How does the experience progression look to you?
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Post Tue Apr 07, 2015 11:16 pm

Re: The Samurai Class

Hey Joseph, your Samuari class is looking great, thanks for sharing it here :)

I have a couple of suggestions that you might consider...

Even though Samurai were the elite warrior class, my understanding is that they were always "in service" to a Lord (a Shogun?); if memory serves, I believe the literal translation of Samuari is something like "to serve". The Ronin were so lowly because they had no Lord to serve.

As for the XP/HD advancement, it seems you could get much the same outcome with the basic fighter progression by disallowing any XP bonus due to high strength. If you wanted to slow the samuari up further, you could apply the PR XP penalty only due to low intelligence, wisdom, and/or charisma--these being essential to the samuari's artistic/philosophical pursuits.

FWIW a katana is about two foot shorter and about one-half to one-third as heavy as the classic two-handed sword, but as you say the weapon names are mainly for flavor. I say "mainly" because weapon weight is significant to the initiative and parrying rules.

Regarding the armor options, instead of saying samuari can use all armor but prefer not to, you might be more prescriptive and state that samuari can only employ the traditional armor types. You might then need to state what these armor types are, their cost, weight, and AC, and also how frequently they should occur on the treasure tables.

I like the idea that samuari should attack as clerics with the non-traditional weaponry, and it seems to then follow logically that western/"Euro" fighters should likewise attack as clerics with the eastern weaponry. As with the armor, you may need to state costs and weights for the traditional weapons you expect a samuari player to use.

Regarding the two damage dice with the katana, I would reserve this advantage for two-handed use only. Since the samuari cannot employ a shield, his principal choice is whether to employ a katana two-handed, or both the katana and the wakizashi at once. DD doesn't provide an out-of-the-box rule for dual wielding, so you may need to provide one (see my house rule here) if you want it to be a viable option.

I'll have to think a bit more about the Jujitsu, however, I think your biggest opportunity is to further develop the possibility of a samuari falling from grace and becoming a Ronin.

IMHO the possibility of disgrace (and becoming a lowly Ronin) should be a constant threat, and should impose a strict code of conduct analagous to a paladin's. If a samuari ever dishonours his Lord (by offending another Lord, by losing combat, for instance) he risks being disowned and becoming a Ronin. If his Lord's sacrosanct honor (!) is brought into question, the samuari may even be required to suicide to remediate the slight (probably based on the outcome of the Lord's reaction check). Of course a "proper" samuari would immediately obey, but a player character might refuse and live on as a disgraced Ronin.

I feel that Ronin should probably have more disadvantages compared to a samuari. They might no longer be fearless, they might have -2 morale, they might be subject to attack from their former Lord's minions (even former friends!), they might not be able to employ any hirelings, etc. etc., ...just a few thoughts. It's probably easier to impose a -20% XP penalty than to require 20% more XP since the later requires creation of another XP progression chart.

Overall a great job Joseph! Thanks again for sharing :)
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Post Thu Apr 09, 2015 10:01 pm

Re: The Samurai Class

waysoftheearth wrote:Hey Joseph, your Samuari class is looking great, thanks for sharing it here :)

Very welcome, and thank you for the suggestions!

Even though Samurai were the elite warrior class, my understanding is that they were always "in service" to a Lord (a Shogun?); if memory serves, I believe the literal translation of Samuari is something like "to serve". The Ronin were so lowly because they had no Lord to serve.

You are correct, though the "lord" that they served changed over time - beginning with the Imperial family, later to the military hierarchy (which itself changed greatly) with the shogun at the top. The word "samurai" comes from the verb "saburo" meaning "to serve." I did include that ronin would lose the right to create a holding, implying that samurai characters would be in service to a master. I can make this more clear.

As for the XP/HD advancement, it seems you could get much the same outcome with the basic fighter progression by disallowing any XP bonus due to high strength. If you wanted to slow the samuari up further, you could apply the PR XP penalty only due to low intelligence, wisdom, and/or charisma--these being essential to the samuari's artistic/philosophical pursuits.

This is an interesting idea. I gave them two prime requisites, which on average might actually speed them up in advancement. I hadn't considered this. What if the PR bonus only applied if both STR and CHR were exceptional? Meaning if only one of these is over 13, no bonus is gained. I like the possibility of a penalty as well and may tack that on as well.

I say "mainly" because weapon weight is significant to the initiative and parrying rules.

Something else I failed to consider. I may leave this until I decide what to do with weapons & armor in general. The more I get into this, the more I am considering putting together a full booklet.

Regarding the armor options, instead of saying samuari can use all armor but prefer not to, you might be more prescriptive and state that samuari can only employ the traditional armor types. You might then need to state what these armor types are, their cost, weight, and AC, and also how frequently they should occur on the treasure tables.


I like the idea that samuari should attack as clerics with the non-traditional weaponry, and it seems to then follow logically that western/"Euro" fighters should likewise attack as clerics with the eastern weaponry. As with the armor, you may need to state costs and weights for the traditional weapons you expect a samuari player to use.

Same as above for these...

Regarding the two damage dice with the katana, I would reserve this advantage for two-handed use only. Since the samuari cannot employ a shield, his principal choice is whether to employ a katana two-handed, or both the katana and the wakizashi at once. DD doesn't provide an out-of-the-box rule for dual wielding, so you may need to provide one (see my house rule here) if you want it to be a viable option.

I'm with you here. Thanks for sharing your house rule, I will take a look!

IMHO the possibility of disgrace (and becoming a lowly Ronin) should be a constant threat, and should impose a strict code of conduct analagous to a paladin's. If a samuari ever dishonours his Lord (by offending another Lord, by losing combat, for instance) he risks being disowned and becoming a Ronin. If his Lord's sacrosanct honor (!) is brought into question, the samuari may even be required to suicide to remediate the slight (probably based on the outcome of the Lord's reaction check). Of course a "proper" samuari would immediately obey, but a player character might refuse and live on as a disgraced Ronin.

Something else I have been considering is an optional "Honor system" which would regulate this kind of thing. In the current rendition of the class above, I didn't want to get to deep into dictating role-play situations that might be best left to the referee to decide. But, these ideas revolve larger around "bushido" which is a difficult nut to crack. What I presented here (and what is commonly considered "bushido") is a coalescing of ideas and values kind of compiled in the Tokugawa period (1603-1850ish). In fact, most daimyo houses of the late medieval period (the Sengoku period) and later created "house codes" to guide the expected behavior and values of the samurai who served them. It is arguable that during the medieval period, betrayal and lack of loyalty was the norm. Anyway, this is something that will require much more thought and perhaps an explanatory side bar.

I feel that Ronin should probably have more disadvantages compared to a samuari. They might no longer be fearless, they might have -2 morale, they might be subject to attack from their former Lord's minions (even former friends!), they might not be able to employ any hirelings, etc. etc., ...just a few thoughts. It's probably easier to impose a -20% XP penalty than to require 20% more XP since the later requires creation of another XP progression chart.

I definitely agree with the -20% penalty, that's much much more intuitive! The two items I bolded are my favorite. In considering the ronin, I always think of the films Yojimbo, Sanjuro and the Lone Wolf and Cub series. The main characters here are ronin and remain fearless bad-arses. I would be be interested to hear other options to differentiate the ronin from the samurai (without making a new class).
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Post Thu May 07, 2015 5:09 pm

Re: The Samurai Class

Updated the class:
~ reverted XP progression back to that of a standard fighter, but removed the samurai's prime requisites altogether.
~ I have maintained their base attack ability as that of the cleric, they benefit when using the katana, wakizashi and daikyu. On the fence here, I may want to give them the fighter attack matrix, but specify that the attack as clerics with foreign weapons.

~ Expanded the ronin section and clarified the hindrances.
~ Included a basic dual-wielding rule.
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