IttÅjutsu Samurai (3.5e Class)
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In the fray of battle, sometimes agility and a swift blade are more effective protectors than even the heaviest of armor. This principle is taken to heart by some samurai, who train themselves not to shrug off blows or overwhelm their opponents with force, but to outmaneuver them and strike with incredible speed.
Making an Ittōjutsu Samurai
Ittōjutsu Samurai are ideally suited for the front lines of combat, as they are swordfighters through and through. They fight best as part of a small, cohesive unit or party, where they can dispatch foes that their comrades have distracted, as a lucky blow can cripple the lithe swordsmen with ease. These samurai are far from helpless on their own, however, and fare particularly well against adversaries with swords.
Abilities: Though swordfighters at their core, a samurai who practices Ittōjutsu depends more heavily on speed and dexterity than the ability to hack an opponent to pieces. The wisdom to perceive the world around them- and, by extension, to better avoid an enemy's attack- is absolutely essential, however.
Races: The principles of Bushido make no distinction between races, though the rigors of Ittōjutsu and its focus on speed may dissuade those of a less agile build. It is rare to see those of a non-humanoid build practice the art of Ittōjutsu.
Alignment: Any Lawful.
Starting Gold: 4d6×10 gp (~140 gp).
Starting Age: As Fighter, or as backstory indicates.
|1st||+1||+2||+2||+2||Bonus Feat (can take Fighter feats); Perceptive Fighter|
|3rd||+3||+3||+3||+3||Phantom Slash, 1/day; +10' to Base Movement; bonus Feat|
|5th||+5||+4||+4||+4||Abrupt Strike; +1 to A.C.|
|6th||+6/+1||+5||+5||+5||+20' to Base Movement; bonus Feat|
|7th||+7/+2||+5||+5||+5||Phantom Slash, 2/day|
|9th||+9/+4||+6||+6||+6||+30' to Base Movement; bonus Feat|
|10th||+10/+5||+7||+7||+7||Improved Abrupt Strike; +2 bonus to A.C.|
|12th||+12/+7/+2||+8||+8||+8||Phantom Slash, 3/day; +40' to Base Movement; bonus Feat|
|15th||+15/+10/+5||+9||+9||+9||+50' to Base Movement; +3 bonus to A.C.; bonus Feat|
|17th||+17/+12/+7/+2||+10||+10||+10||Phantom Slash, 4/day|
|18th||+18/+13/+8/+3||+11||+11||+11||+60' to Base Movement; bonus Feat|
|20th||+20/+15/+10/+5||+12||+12||+12||Blinding Swordsman; +4 bonus to A.C.|
Class Skills 3 + Int modifier per level, ×4 at 1st level)
All of the following are class features of the Ittōjutsu Samurai.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Ittōjutsu Samurai are proficient with all simple weapons, as well as the katana (Ex. Bastard Sword), wakizashi (Shortsword), and possibly other weapons (as decided on by the GM and player). They train themselves to not be dependent on armor for protection, and as such do not use it; the same is true of shields.
Perceptive Fighter: The Ittōjutsu Samurai, having trained extensively to study the actions of others and understand the world around him, may add his Wisdom modifier to his Armor Class.
Phantom Slash: The Ittōjutsu Samurai may sprint his full movement range, dealing weapon damage to any enemy whose square he passes through on this route. This action does not provoke an Attack of Opportunity. Movement must end in either an empty square or one shared by an ally.
Abrupt Strike: The Ittōjutsu Samurai, having studied the swordsmanship style of Battokiri, can draw his sword with blinding speed and strike an adversary before they have a chance to react. As a Free Action, the Ittōjutsu Samurai may draw his sword and slash at an opponent within range. His target may make a Reflex save (DC 15 + 1/2 the character's Ittōjutsu Samurai level) to avoid the attack. If the target fails the check, the target is considered Flat-Footed until their next action; if the attack fails for whatever reason, the Ittōjutsu Samurai provokes an Attack of Opportunity.
Improved Abrupt Strike: Through greater mastery of Battokiri, the Ittōjutsu Samurai can also strike his adversary with his sword's sheath. This attack deals 1d3 damage, and is treated as the Ittōjutsu Samurai's second attack. Only one attack needs to connect to render the target Flat-Footed and to prevent the Attack of Opportunity. This attack is also given the same Reflex save as the sword strike.
Blinding Swordsman: The Ittōjutsu Samurai is so skilled with his blade that he can cut down opponents with ease. Any enemy that must move five feet or more to attack the Ittōjutsu Samurai provokes an Attack of Opportunity.
The samurai who ceases to devote himself to the form of Ittōjutsu loses access to all class features, including the increase to Armor Class and movement speed, but regains them when he returns to his studies. No further penalty is inflicted.
However, one who breaks the code of Bushido is often blacklisted as a traitor to be killed on sight by his shogun or fellow samurai, and is regarded as a dishonorable cur. No further penalty is required, as the stigma of dishonor will linger for all of time and most assuredly signs the dishonored samurai's death warrant- more often than not at the hands of his former comrades.
Playing an Ittōjutsu Samurai
Religion: Most samurai do not overtly concern themselves with religion, as their code of honor takes priority above all else. It is not uncommon for a samurai to emulate their shogun in this regard, practicing the same religious beliefs as their superiors. If a samurai does choose to follow a religious system of beliefs of his own accord, it is most often the product of a desire to better act in accordance with the principles of Bushido: rectitude, courage, benevolence, respect, honor, and loyalty.
Other Classes: Samurai, as a rule of thumb, most readily form bonds with fellow swordsmen and Fighters, as well as those who use weapons viewed as honorable- such as lances and bows. They are generally disdainful of Barbarians, who they view as brutish, blood-drunk oafs. Those who use magic as a primary form of combat, such as Wizards and Sorcerers, are viewed as dishonrable fighters, though this is in part accountable to the samurai not understanding the principles of magic. Those of a less-reputable nature, such as Thieves, are rarely- if ever- viewed with any favor by samurai.
Combat: In combat, the practicioner of Ittōjutsu lives and dies by the principle "strike fast, strike hard, strike relentlessly." They are best suited to fighting within a small group of combatants or in single combat, but not on their own against a large number of adversaries, as their greatest strength is speed and their evasive nature.
Advancement: Ittōjutsu Samurai often seek to maximize their strengths, rather than nullifying their weaknesses; the pursuit of greater speed and more deadly sword techniques is advised for the follower of Ittōjutsu.
Ittōjutsu Samurai in the World
|“||There is surely nothing other than the single purpose of the present moment. A man's whole life is a succession of moment after moment. If one fully understands the present moment, there will be nothing else to do, and nothing else to pursue.||”|
Daily Life: Most samurai begin their day with either a ritual in keeping with their personal beliefs, or the practice of their chosen martial art. Following this, they attend to any needs that they, their family, or their traveling companions may have as best they can before continuing on with their current duties- from settling disputes between villagers to hunting down criminals to running errands for their shogun. Once any obligations are complete, a samurai is free to do as he wishes, so long as it is not dishonorable.
Organizations: Ittōjutsu is merely a form of swordsmanship, and the samurai who practice it are subject to the same hierarchy as any other. Until they themselves earn the right to be named a shogun, they follow the local lord who in turn follows the Emperor.
NPC Reactions: The samurai versed in Ittōjutsu is not so readily hailed as a hero as his iconic, heavily-armored bretheren, and as such may go relatively unnoticed unless in the company of those who indicate his status. Yakuza and other criminals may be emboldened by his apparent lack of protection, and seek to target the Ittōjutsu warrior as their next victim (a mistake few live to make again).
Ittōjutsu Samurai Lore
Characters with ranks in Knowledge (local or history) can research Ittōjutsu Samurai to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.
|5||Samurai are vassals of their shogun, serving in peace and in war.|
|10||Some samurai practice the martial form of Ittōjutsu.|
|15||Ittōjutsu focuses on speed and finesse rather than power.|
|20||At this DC, information regarding a particular Ittōjutsu Samurai is available.|