Feral Ronin (3.5e Class)
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This class is modeled after Mugen in Samurai Champloo. Feral ronin are intended to be extremely quick, agile warriors. The primary weapon of feral ronin is a trusted masterwork katana that never leaves their back (though they may have it enchanted, or, through extraordinary effort, replace it). They receive attack and defense bonuses in combat based on their insane ferocity and nimble movements.
A feral ronin is a sword-warrior with no master. Those who are evil can often be found in gangs, terrorizing peasants without mercy. Neutral ronin often seek work as bodyguards. Goodly ronin may be found attempting to stand between a small village and a small army. Either way, their lives usually revolve around their ability to use a sword better than everyone else. When feral ronin encounter a problem that cannot be resolved with simple diplomacy or a quick strike, the problem is generally best left to others.
Making a Feral Ronin
A feral ronin is a master of the katana, and little else.
Abilities: Feral ronin dependheavily on Strength and Dexterity, but Intelligence is also helpful, as they will want to develop expertise in several important skills.
Races: Any race of sufficient agility and intellectual independence might become a feral ronin.
Starting Gold: 4d8×10 gp (180 gp) + Favorite Katana (Masterwork Bastard Sword).
Starting Age: Any. A 200-year-old elven blacksmith might decide to spontaneously take up a katana and become a feral ronin.
|Saving Throws||Special||Flurry of Blades
|1st||+1||+2||+2||+2||Flurry of Blades, Favorite Katana, Combat Reflexes, Combat Addict, Spirit of the Feral Ronin||–1/–1||1d10||+0||+0 ft.|
|2nd||+2||+3||+3||+3||Combat Expertise, Evasion||+0/+0||1d10||+0||+0 ft.|
|3rd||+3||+3||+3||+3||Sneak Attack 1d6, Way of the Feral Ronin||+1/+1||1d10||+0||+0 ft.|
|4th||+4||+4||+4||+4||One Mind, Uncanny Dodge||+2/+2/+2||1d10||+0||+10 ft.|
|5th||+5||+4||+4||+4||Masterful Release||+4/+4/+4||2d6||+1||+10 ft.|
|6th||+6/+1||+5||+5||+5||Sneak Attack 2d6, Feral Rage, Improved Feint||+5/+5/+5/+0||2d6||+1||+10 ft.|
|7th||+7/+2||+5||+5||+5||Flick of the Wrist, Weapon Specialization (Favorite Katana)||+6/+6/+6/+1||2d6||+1||+10 ft.|
|8th||+8/+3||+6||+6||+6||Slow Fall 30 Feet, Agile Strike, Attack Wildly||+7/+7/+7/+2||2d6||+1||+20 ft.|
|9th||+9/+4||+6||+6||+6||Improved Uncanny Dodge, Defensive Specialization (Favorite Katana), Sneak Attack 3d6||+9/+9/+9/+4||2d8||+1||+20 ft.|
|10th||+10/+5||+7||+7||+7||In the Zone||+10/+10/+10/+5||2d8||+2||+20 ft.|
|11th||+11/+6/+1||+7||+7||+7||Boundless Mind||+11/+11/+11/+11/+6/+1||2d8||+2||+20 ft.|
|12th||+12/+7/+2||+8||+8||+8||Sneak Attack 4d6||+12/+12/+12/+12/+7/+2||2d8||+2||+30 ft.|
|13th||+13/+8/+3||+8||+8||+8||Improved Evasion||+13/+13/+13/+13/+8/+3||3d6||+2||+30 ft.|
|14th||+14/+9/+4||+9||+9||+9||Deadly Counter||+14/+14/+14/+14/+9/+4||3d6||+2||+30 ft.|
|15th||+15/+10/+5||+9||+9||+9||Sneak Attack 5d6||+15/+15/+15/+15/+10/+5||3d6||+3||+30 ft.|
|16th||+16/+11/+6/+1||+10||+10||+10||Deflect Projectiles (Favorite Katana)||+16/+16/+16/+16/+11/+6/+1||3d6||+3||+40 ft.|
|17th||+17/+12/+7/+2||+10||+10||+10||Relentless Impact||+17/+17/+17/+17/+12/+7/+2||2d10||+3||+40 ft.|
|18th||+18/+13/+8/+3||+11||+11||+11||Unsettling Fury, Sneak Attack 6d6||+18/+18/+18/+18/+13/+8/+3||2d10||+3||+40 ft.|
|19th||+19/+14/+9/+4||+11||+11||+11||Feral Flow||+19/+19/+19/+19/+14/+9/+4||2d10||+3||+40 ft.|
|20th||+20/+15/+10/+5||+12||+12||+12||Unmatched Enthusiasm||+20/+20/+20/+20/+15/+10/+5||2d12||+4||+50 ft.|
Class Skills (6 + Int modifier per level, ×4 at 1st level)
The feral ronin focuses entirely on improved control of the katana. All of the following are class features of the feral ronin.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Feral ronin are proficient with all simple weapons and martial weapons, as well as the wakizashi, and, of course, the katana. Feral ronin are also proficient in light armor, but they may not use Flurry of Blades, Way of the Feral Ronin, In the Zone, Deadly Counter, Deflect Arrows, or Unmatched Enthusiasm while wearing armor. They may use these skills while wearing any cloak, however, including a dueling cloak.
AC Bonus (Ex): Starting at 5th level, whenever feral ronin are unarmored and unencumbered, they gain a +1 bonus to AC. This bonus increases by 1 for every five ronin levels thereafter (+2 at 10th, +3 at 15th, and +4 at 20th level).
These bonuses to AC apply even against touch attacks or when the feral ronin is flat-footed. These bonuses are lost when the feral ronin is immobilized or helpless, wearing any armor heavier than a cloak, or carrying a medium or heavy load.
Flurry of Blades (Ex): When unarmored, a feral ronin may strike with a flurry of slices at the expense of accuracy. When doing so, the ronin makes one extra attack in a round at the highest base attack bonus, but this attack takes a –2 penalty, as does each other attack made that round. The resulting modified base attack bonuses are shown in the Flurry of Blades Attack Bonus column on Table: The Feral Ronin. This penalty applies for 1 round, so it also affects attacks of opportunity the feral ronin might make before the next action. When a feral ronin reaches 5th level, the penalty lessens to –1, and at 9th level it disappears. A feral ronin must use a full attack action to strike with a Flurry of Blades.
A feral ronin who learns to wield two weapons simultaneously may use Flurry of Blades while doing so.
Favorite Katana (Ex): Feral ronin greatly prefer their favorite katana, around which all of their skills are built. They have carefully studied their favorite katana, and can perform extraordinarily fast movements with it.
Feral ronin must use their favorite katana in order to use their special abilities, as they understand its weight perfectly.
If they lose it, they must meditate with a new katana for one month in order to become masterfully familiar with it.
The feral ronin is treated as having Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Katana) and Weapon Focus (Favorite Katana). The feral ronin is not proficient with ordinary double-edged bastard swords.
When using Flurry of Blades, a feral ronin may attack only with a carefully-studied katana. One month of meditation on the katana is necessary for it to constitute being "carefully-studied".
The damage of the feral ronin's strike increases according to Table: The Feral Ronin. For small characters, decrease the size of the damage dice by one category (e.g., 2d8 becomes 2d6). For large characters, increase it (2d8 becomes 2d10).
Combat Reflexes (Ex): A feral ronin has extraordinary combat reflexes, and therefore gains Combat Reflexes as a bonus feat at level 1.
Spirit of the Feral Ronin (Ex): On some level, all feral ronin love combat and the threat of death. They are therefore immune to fear unless it is magically induced. They cannot be physically intimidated, although they may escape a fight out of rational self-preservation. The ronin must make normal saving throws against magical attempts to induce fear.
To be clear, a magically-summoned monster with an extraordinary ability to provoke fear would not intimidate a feral ronin. The feral ronin's mind must be directly encouraged to feel fear in an irrational way (e.g., by a psionic power). Feral ronin do not feel scared by external stimuli that intimidate most sentient beings, potentially to a fault.
Combat Addict (Ex): A feral ronin cannot resist a reasonable fight. An attacked feral ronin must retaliate until very near death, except under obviously-extraordinary circumstances.
Feral ronin may not flee from a fight until they have less than 30% of their total hit points remaining, unless (A) the attacker is at least three size categories larger than the feral ronin, (B) the attacker would clearly kill the feral ronin in a single hit, or (C) the feral ronin discover after at least two successful strikes that they are unable to damage their attacker (presumably due to extraordinary damage reduction). A feral ronin can roll a Spot check to determine whether a single strike from a potential threat would be lethal. The DC for success is 15 + the attacker's HD. The feral ronin may take 10 on this ability if given time to study a threat.
The feral ronin's combat addiction is stronger when faced by a horde of individuals wherein each is independently equal to or weaker than the feral ronin. In such situations, feral ronin must remain in combat until their remaining hit points reach 25% of their total health or 20 total hit points, whichever is smaller.
Feral ronin may only avoid a reasonable challenge if doing so will enable greater victory at a later date; however, the wild lifestyle of feral ronin renders them impatient with diplomacy, and they therefore must believe that there will be an opportunity for revenge against any perceived offense within one fortnight (two weeks).
Feral ronin who are persuaded to deny their addiction and flee from a fight that did not seem obviously lethal, or who fail to resolve an offense to their character as a warrior within one fortnight, will be mentally consumed by their weakness for three days (either immediately after a fight, or after the two-week period expires). While distracted in this way, they will be unable to perform Flurry of Blades, Deadly Counter, or Unmatched Enthusiasm.
Combat Expertise (Ex): Feral ronin can effortlessly manipulate a katana for defensive purposes. They therefore gain Combat Expertise as a bonus feat at level 2.
Evasion (Ex): At 2nd level or higher, if a feral ronin makes a successful Reflex saving throw against an attack that normally deals half damage on a successful save, they instead takes no damage. Evasion can be used only if a feral ronin is wearing light armor or no armor. A helpless ronin does not gain the benefit of evasion.
Way of the Feral Ronin (Ex): The feral ronin prefers to fight without a shield, and can deftly use a katana in order to provide an added layer of defense. At level 3, feral ronin gain Strength as a shield bonus to their AC whenever their katana is ready to deflect incoming attacks. A feral ronin with Quick Draw or Masterful Release receives this AC bonus as long as they are able to draw their weapon immediately with two hands.
Sneak Attack: Beginning at level 3, if a feral ronin can catch an opponent who is unable to defend effectively against an attack, the ronin can strike a vital spot for extra damage.
The ronin's attack deals extra damage any time the target would be denied a Dexterity bonus to AC (whether the target actually has a Dexterity bonus or not), or when the ronin flanks the target. This extra damage is 1d6 at 3rd level, and it increases by 1d6 every three ronin levels thereafter. Should the ronin score a critical hit with a sneak attack, this extra damage is not multiplied.
Ranged attacks can count as sneak attacks only if the target is within 30 feet.
Fast Movement (Ex): The feral ronin is extraordinarily fast, though not as fast as a monk. For every four levels as a feral ronin, a character's base speed is increased by 10 feet. A ronin in armor or carrying a medium or heavy load loses this extra speed.
Masterful Release: Beginning at level 5, feral ronin become so fast that they may draw and sheathe their favorite katana as a free action whenever they strike an enemy. For example, feral ronin who attack six times in one round may choose to sheathe their favorite katana after every strike. Feral ronin is treated as having Quick Draw for feats requiring that prerequisite, but only while using their favorite katana. In other words, feral ronin would still need to take Quick Draw and Quick Sheathe in order to rapidly switch to a ranged weapon as a free action, but they are qualified to learn Flick of the Wrist with their katana.
Improved Feint (Ex): By 6th level, feral ronin become so fast that they can feint as a move action.
Feral Rage:(Ex) By 6th level, feral ronin can go into a rage state which increases their speed and strength. Their Strength and Dexerity gets a +3. This technique puts a lot of stress on the body. This can only be used twice a day.
Slow Fall (Ex): A feral ronin within reach of a wall can use it to slow the speed of a fall. Characters take 30 feet less fall damage for every 8 levels of feral ronin whenever they are close to a wall. At level 24, a feral ronin becomes able to slide down a wall at a nonlethal speed indefinitely.
One Mind (Ex): Feral ronin are extremely fast with their favorite katana. At level 4, they gain an additional Flurry of Blades attack to reflect this.
Flick of the Wrist: The feral ronin gains Flick of the Wrist as a bonus feat at level 7. This may only be used with the ronin's favorite katana until Quick Draw is taken separately from Masterful Release.
Weapon Specialization (Favorite Katana): The feral ronin really knows how to get the most out of a katana. They gain Weapon Specialization (Favorite Katana) at level 7 to reflect this.
Agile Strike: A feral ronin moves so quickly that they always target soft spots for extra damage. Beginning at level 8, they may apply their Dexterity modifier to damage in addition to their Strength modifier.
Attack Wildly: An 8th-level feral ronin no longer needs to remain still during a fight. As a free action, the ronin may roll a balance check and a tumble check, each DC 10 + (1 for each hit die of the highest-level enemy passed in this way (the ronin must identify all possible targets in advance). Upon passing both, the ronin may move effortlessly through enemies for the remainder of the round, freely distributing a Flurry of Blades attack between them. Feral ronin may move up to half of their base speed while attacking wildly in this way.
Uncanny Dodge (Ex): Starting at 4th level, feral ronin can react to danger before their senses would normally allow them to do so. They retain their Dexterity bonus to AC (if any) even if caught flat-footed or struck by an invisible attacker. However, they still lose their Dexterity bonus to AC if immobilized.
Improved Uncanny Dodge (Ex): A feral ronin of 9th level or higher can no longer be flanked.
Defensive Specialization (Favorite Katana): A feral ronin's skill with a katana never stops improving. Feral ronin gain Defensive Specialization with their favorite katana as a bonus feat at level 9. This grants a +2 dodge bonus to AC whenever a feral ronin is fighting with their favorite katana. They gain this bonus as long as both of their hands are free to draw their katana immediately.
In the Zone (Ex): When feral ronin reach level 10, the rapid flow of their movements begins to make their body hard to track. For each successful melee attack landed during a single attack action, feral ronin receive a +1 AC bonus until the end of the round.
Boundless Mind (Ex): A feral ronin's speed with a katana is truly awesome. At level 11, feral ronin gain a second additional Flurry of Blades attack to reflect this.
Improved Evasion (Ex): At 13th level, a ronin's evasive ability improves. Feral ronin still take no damage on a successful Reflex saving throw against attacks, but henceforth take only half damage on a failed save. A helpless ronin does not gain the benefit of improved evasion.
Deadly Counter: Beginning at level 14, once per round, if a melee attacker fails to hit the feral ronin at least once during a full attack action, the ronin receives an attack of opportunity. This stacks with Combat Reflexes, but does not stack with Unmatched Enthusiasm.
Deflect Projectiles (Favorite Katana): A 16th-level feral ronin is so fast that it becomes easy to deflect arrows with a katana. As long as feral ronin are not using a shield or armor, they will reflexively deflect the first arrow, bolt, throwing knife, throwing dagger, or dart that would hit them in a given round, as long as it has some physical element that could feasibly be deflected by their blade. Feral ronin may only use this feat when their katana is immediately available to them.
Relentless Impact: 17th-level feral ronin can sacrifice speed in order to swing much harder. When choosing to do this (as a free action before their attack action), experienced feral ronin cut so deeply that damage reduction is less effective. The ronin may sacrifice any number of attacks in a Flurry of Blades in order to ignore 5 damage reduction per sacrificed attack on each successful hit until the end of the round. For every 3 unused points of reduced damage reduction, add +1 to the damage of each hit.
Unsettling Fury: At level 18, In the Zone now grants a +2 AC bonus per successful attack.
Feral Flow: When a masterful ronin finds their flow, the situation becomes increasingly dangerous for their enemies. After level 19, for each successful melee attack landed during a single attack action, the feral ronin receives a +1 attack bonus until the end of the round.
Unmatched Enthusiasm: The 20th-level feral ronin has mastered the art of dancing through slower, weaker opponents. Whenever feral ronin land every attack in a single full attack action, they receive an extra full attack action and 10 feet of additional movement unless any struck enemy makes a reflex save (DC 10 + (½ Feral Ronin Level) + Dexterity). When feral ronin are attacking wildly, they cannot move beyond the first enemy who responds rapidly to an assault in this way (i.e., passes this check) without provoking an attack of opportunity. The feral ronin may only gain one additional attack action per round in this way.
Feral ronin never forget their skill with their favorite blade, no matter how they choose to live after their training. However, a feral ronin who becomes lawful loses the spirit necessary to practice as a feral ronin, and therefore cannot take further levels in this class unless they become neutral or chaotic again.
Epic Feral Ronin
|21st||Sneak Attack 7d6|
|22nd||Epic Bonus Feat|
|24th||Sneak Attack 8d6, Slow Fall Any Height, Base Speed +10 Feet|
|25th||Epic Bonus Feat|
|27th||Sneak Attack 9d6|
|28th||Epic Bonus Feat, Base Speed +10 Feet|
|30th||Sneak Attack 10d6|
|31st||Epic Bonus Feat|
|32nd||Base Speed +10 Feet|
6 + Int modifier skill points per level.
Fast Movement: The epic ronin's base speed continues to increase by 10 feet every 4th level after 32.
Sneak Attack: After level 21, the feral ronin continues to gain 1d6 sneak attack damage every 3 levels.
Epic Bonus Feat: After 22nd level, the feral ronin receives an epic bonus feat every 3 levels. This must be selected from epic feats for a fighter, monk, or rogue classtype -- they may not choose any feats involving spellcasting or supernatural abilities outside the scope of the feral ronin's modus operandi. No spellcasting feats may be selected as an epic feat for feral ronin -- they do not use spells. Feral ronin must have the prerequisites for the feat in order to receive a bonus feat in this manner.
Feral Ronin Starting Package
Weapons: Favorite Katana (Masterwork, 1d10, 19-20 (x2)).
Skill Selection: Pick a number of skills equal to 6 + Int modifier.
Class Bonus Feats: Combat Reflexes, Weapon Focus (Favorite Katana).
Feat: Spirit of Vengeance.
Gear: Cloak, bedroll, rations, waterskins.
Feral ronin may be good, neutral, evil, and chaotic. They may be entirely sociopathic, or altruistic. The commonality is that they live and die by their katana, and refuse hierarchy. They may not be lawfully aligned, although they may choose to obey laws out of personal convenience, or as a matter of coincidence. Feral ronin cannot respect law for law's sake -- their behavior can only be modified by egalitarian or servile communication (feral ronin will accept discussion with a political equal or a political subordinate, but will always ignore any bothersome demands of a political superior in private (and sometimes in public, when they can get away with it)).
Playing a Feral Ronin
Religion: Most feral ronin value their own perception of reality above all else, and praise no one and no thing, material or otherwise, other than the self. A feral ronin might worship Gods or Goddesses who encourage natural life and independence. Irrational social complexity and church authority bother feral ronin.
Other Classes: This depends entirely on the player. A feral ronin might be bored and choose to bodyguard a young girl for free, as Mugen did. Or, the player may choose to play a feral ronin who works as an assassin, or who lives as a bandit. They may also form perfectly normal attachments to individuals who uniquely appeal to them, and this may primarily drive their decisions.
Combat: Feral ronin feel lost when they are not surrounded by enemies whose breath can be felt in the air. A feral ronin might try to run up a dragon's back in order to stab it in the eyes. Generally speaking, a feral ronin who cannot fight with a katana will either find a way, or get away.
Advancement: A feral ronin is a very simple-minded warrior with extreme wanderlust. They usually seek to solve their own problems rapidly through dominance or escape. In this spirit, they may become an assassin or a bodyguard. Feral ronin who retire from a life of exploration might take up a life of crime, or a life of meditation. The ronin, knowing no master, is open-minded to many futures. As the ronin has no capacity to cast spells and limited ranged ability, classes that compensate for this weakness might be good options for multiclassing.
Feral Ronin in the World
|“||If living means bowing down to the likes of you bastards, I'd rather die on my feet with my head held high.||”|
|—Mugen, Human Feral Ronin|
|“||Is my power a reflection of my strength, or your weakness?||”|
|—Stranger, Catfolk Feral Ronin|
Anywhere. Have you seen Samurai Champloo?
Daily Life: Looking for a worthwhile opportunity to push the limits of the katana -- or, when hungry, looking for work.
Organizations: Feral ronin generally live alone, although they may ally when it is mutually convenient.
NPC Reactions: The weak are intimidated; the wise are wary; the powerful see a useful employee -- although they may discover that they were mistaken, should a conflict of desires arise.
Feral Ronin Lore
Characters with ranks in Gather Information can research feral ronin to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.
|5||Feral ronin hate authority and live alone using their sword to get what they need.|
|10||Most feral ronin are addicted to travel, and cannot stay long in a city. They tend to live in wild climates, where there is plenty of food.|
|15||The player might hear a story about a recent event involving a nearby feral ronin.|
|20||The player might learn the location of the last campsite of a nearby feral ronin.|
|25||The player actually finds a feral ronin in their local region.|
|40||The player finds an epic feral ronin in their local region.|
Feral Ronin in the Game
The feral ronin absolutely requires backup players who can heal and buff. Given high AC and decent health, feral ronin make respectable tanks -- but they are likely to draw enough attention that healing is required quickly.
Sample Encounter: Forests, cities, and other places with plenty of food are likely places to find feral ronin.
EL Infinite: The DM should roll a custom feral ronin for their specific campaign to ensure good balancing.
Variant Feral Ronin
A player could theoretically play a feral ronin with any weapon.