Asura (3.5e Class)
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It is said that there are two spiritual paths for the aspiring martial artist. There is the path that seeks martial arts only to improve the mind and body, overcoming each new obstacle on a journey to enlightenment. Then there is the path of the asura, which takes the martial half of the equation perfectly literally. To them, it is a tool for killing, and they revel in the blood of the fallen.
Making an Asura
Asura come from many places. Some are “born different”, and may well have been cursed to share a soul with a demon while still in the womb. Others are simply martial artists that embrace a more brutal philosophy than their aesthetic brethren. Whatever the origin, a unifying trait is that, at some point, these dark impulses become a well of power that the aspiring asura learns to draw from.
Asuras are “body-feeder” characters that benefit from their ability to enhance their own physical scores using ki in much the same way as a barbarian benefits from a rage. As they gain levels, they gain also an increasing number of frightful special abilities that make them field control experts, scaring their opponents or pushing them back entirely. At mid-to-late level, the asura can even recover ki points in the middle of a battle by feeding from their opponent's pain.
Abilities: Strength enhances the asura’s damage, while Constitution both toughens him and heightens his Concentration checks. Wisdom fuels his ki pool and Charisma used for many of his save-based special attacks.
Races: Humans are innately ambitious and therefore the most likely to walk the asura’s road. Dwarves are given to battle and, in places where martial arts and their culture meet, are more likely to walk the path of the asura than a less martial evil class such as the warlock. This is doubly true of the savage humanoids. Most elves, gnomes, and halflings are too patient and calm to channel the asura’s bloodlust.
Alignment: Any nongood.
Starting Gold: 5d4x10 (125 gp)
|1st||+1||+2||+0||+0||Will To Kill (2/1), ki power, unarmed strike||1d6||+0|
|2nd||+2||+3||+0||+0||Deadly Aura (shaken)||1d6||+0|
|4th||+4||+4||+1||+1||Flare (30 ft.)||1d8||+0|
|6th||+6/+1||+5||+2||+2||Will To Kill (4/1), Superior Unarmed Strike||1d8||+1|
|7th||+7/+2||+5||+2||+2||Deadly Aura (frightened)||1d8||+1|
|8th||+8/+3||+6||+2||+2||Flare (60 ft.)||1d10||+1|
|9th||+9/+4||+6||+3||+3||Masterful Unarmed Strike||1d10||+1|
|12th||+12/+7/+2||+8||+4||+4||Will To Kill (6/1), Flare (90 ft.)||2d6||+2|
|13th||+13/+8/+3||+8||+4||+4||Deadly Aura (panicked)||2d6||+2|
|15th||+15/+10/+5||+9||+5||+5||Armor Of Knots||2d6||+3|
|16th||+16/+11/+6/+1||+10||+5||+5||Flare (120 ft.)||2d8||+3|
|18th||+18/+13/+8/+3||+11||+6||+6||Will To Kill (8/1)||2d8||+3|
|19th||+19/+14/+9/+4||+11||+6||+6||Deadly Aura (paralyzed)||2d8||+3|
|20th||+20/+15/+10/+5||+12||+6||+6||Flare (150 ft.), Blood Rain||2d10||+4|
Class Skills (4 + Int modifier per level, ×4 at 1st level)
All of the following are class features of the asura.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: An asura is proficient with simple weapons. They are not proficient with any armor or shields–in fact, many of their special powers require unfettered movement. When wearing armor, using a shield, or carrying a medium or heavy load, an asura loses his AC bonus.
AC Bonus (Ex): Asura hone their willpower into a wall that blocks incoming attacks like a force field, but this requires concentration and freedom of movement. When unarmored and unencumbered, the asura adds his Charisma bonus (if any) to his AC. In addition, an asura gains a +1 bonus to AC at 5th level. This bonus increases by 1 for every five monk levels thereafter. This ability does not stack with the AC bonus ability of the monk or ninja.
Unarmed Strike: At 1st level, an asura gains Improved Unarmed Strike as a bonus feat. An asura's attacks may be with either fist interchangeably or even from elbows, knees, and feet. This means that an asura may even make unarmed strikes with his hands full. There is no such thing as an off-hand attack for an asura striking unarmed. An asura may thus apply her full Strength bonus on damage rolls for all his unarmed strikes.
Usually an asura’s unarmed strikes deal lethal damage, but he can choose to deal nonlethal damage instead with no penalty on his attack roll. He has the same choice to deal lethal or nonlethal damage while grappling.
An asura’s unarmed strike is treated both as a manufactured weapon and a natural weapon for the purpose of spells and effects that enhance or improve either manufactured weapons or natural weapons.
An asura also deals more damage with his unarmed strikes than a normal person would, as shown on the above table. The unarmed damage on this table is for Medium asura. A Small asura deals less damage than the amount given there with her unarmed attacks, while a Large asura deals more damage.
Ki Power (Su): A asura channels his ki into a pool of ki points, which power most of his ki feats. A asura has a number of ki points per day equal to one-half his class level (minimum 1) plus his Wisdom bonus (if any).
As long as a asura’s ki pool isn’t empty (that is, as long as he has at least one point remaining), he gains a +2 bonus on Will saves.
Will To Kill (Su): An asura is capable of channeling his ki into his body and mind, forcibly enhancing himself. For every ki point spent, he can increase one of the following ability scores by 2 points; Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution. This can be cumulative, but if the asura ever spends his entire ki pool on a single ability in combat, he must make a Concentration check (DC 10 + 1/2 the asura’s current level + the asura’s Charisma modifier) or fall unconscious from the strain.
At 6th level, the increase becomes 4 points per ki point spent. At 12th level, the increase becomes 6 points per ki points spent. At 18th level, the increase becomes 8 points per ki point spent.
Deadly Aura (Su): An asura is a killing machine, and it shows in his aura. Beginning at 2nd level, the asura can spend a ki point to emit a deadly aura as a swift action. That round, anyone within 30 feet of the asura must make a Will save (DC 10 + 1/2 the asura’s current level + the asura’s Charisma modifier) or be shaken for a number of rounds equal to the number of ki points spent. Opponents who succeed on their save are immune to the effects of the deadly aura for up to 1 hour.
At 7th level, opponents failing the save are frightened within 30 feet and shaken within 60 feet. At 13th level, opponents failing the save are panicked within 30 feet, frightened within 60 feet, and shaken within 90 feet. At 19th level, opponents who fail their save are paralyzed within 30 feet, panicked within 60 feet, frightened within 90 feet, and shaken within 120 feet. This is a mind-affecting fear effect.
Superior Unarmed Strike: At 6th level, the asura gains Superior Unarmed Strike as a bonus feat. This feat first appeared in Tome Of Battle: Book Of The Nine Swords.
Flare (Su): At 4th level, an asura gains the ability to flare his aura in a violent display. By spending 2 ki points, he emits a wall of force around him up to a range of 30 feet. All opponents within this range must make a Reflex save (DC 10 + 1/2 the asura’s current level + the asura’s Charisma modifier) or be pushed back to the edge of the ability’s range as if by a bull rush.
This distance increases to 60 feet at 8th level, 90 feet at 12th level, 120 feet at 16th level, and 150 feet at 20th level.
Masterful Unarmed Strike (Ex): At 9th level, the asura performs unarmed attacks as if he were one size category larger, when favorable.
Blood Fuel (Su): At 10th level, the asura becomes so in-tune with the energy his opponents spill with their blood that he can siphon it for himself. To do this requires focus. He must make a Concentration check against a DC equal to 10 + 1/2 his opponent’s HD + his opponent’s Wisdom modifier. This is a swift action. If successful, he regains 1 ki point for every 10 points of damage he deals to his opponent. This may not extend his ki pool beyond its normal maximum.
An asura can only have one opponent selected for this ability at any time, but may switch opponents by making a new Concentration check as a free action.
Armor Of Knots (Su): By channeling his ki into his musculature, the asura of 15th level or higher can knot his muscles into an armor around himself. By expending a ki point, the asura gains damage reduction 5/-. This damage reduction is cumulative and increases by 5 for each ki point spent.
Blood Rain (Su): At 20th level, the asura can extend his blood fuel ability to a number of opponents equal to his Charisma modifier. Ki points gained are cumulative, but still cannot allow the asura to extend his ki pool beyond its normal maximum.
An asura that becomes good in alignment cannot progress in this class and loses access to the Deadly Aura, Blood Fuel, and Blood Rain class features until he is able to return to a neutral or evil alignment.
Will To Kill: The asura's Will To Kill continues to increase as shown on the table above.
Flare: The asura's flare continues to increase in range as shown on the table above.
Playing an Asura
Religion: Asura often worship destructive gods or, more often, powerful demons, and many gain their powers from such an entity. Some asura are wholly impious, believing themselves gods in their own right and preaching a manifest destiny that gives them the right to kill with impunity.
Other Classes: Asura don’t really get along with anyone, but they find kinship with the barbarian, who like them draws upon an inner rage for power. They understand the plight of the misunderstood sorcerer as well, and encourage such spellcasters to their darker natures. Asura take particular issue with clerics and reiki, who they feel insult their path.
When two asura meet, combat is nearly inevitable. They may work together for a short time, so long as one can dominate the other, but eventually their predatory natures will drive them to battle.
Combat: Asura are best used as front-line combatants and field control experts. Like most ki powered classes, they do best in the early rounds of combat, though at later levels the asura’s ability to recover ki points somewhat increases their longevity in battle.
Advancement: Asura multiclass well with the barbarian, with whom they share similarities. Their feat selection is typically drawn from those feats which deal damage or allow them to attack multiple foes in an area, such as Power Attack, Cleave, Great Cleave, and Whirlwind Attack.
Asura in the World
Asura will most often be encountered as villains. They may initially appear as expendable bullies until they actually get down to fighting and reveal they can more than back up their threats. An asura who isn't an outright evil-doer will typically put his skills to use as a mercenary. Altruistic asura are unknown but many do follow a strange code of honor known only to them.
Daily Life: An asura lives to fight and fights to live. This bloodlust may take them anywhere that blood may be spilt. Some specifically seek out capable fighters to test their strength on, while others are cold-blooded killers content to murder and maim anyone that gets in their way.
Organizations: Asura rarely congregate in schools and most are, in fact, informally trained. Sometimes, a particularly ambitious asura will intentionally gather and teach entire armies with the intention of conquering a land with their power. This arrangement only works out if the asura is very powerful and persuasive, and while demon armies may well have countless asura among their ranks, they rarely last long in the world of men as the world itself opposes their evil.
NPC Reactions: A character as innately self-centered and violent as the asura will typically have poor relations with NPC's in the world and this is not helped by their overwhelming power. Unless the asura is enterprising enough to carve out a niche as a bullying boss of their local territory he is typically viewed as an unwanted outsider at best and a threat to be destroyed at worst.
Characters with ranks in Knowledge (arcana) can research asuras to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.
Asura in the Game
Asura PC's fit well as self-interested neutral characters. NPC's are usually straight-up villains.
Adaptation: Asura were originally intended to be featured in Asian-themed games. In a setting that is purely Western, their powers could come from local demons and they would be seen as a more martial version of a warlock. Such demons might seek to reclaim them as potential soldiers in the Blood War or they might have their eye on a throne in Hell all their own.