Author Topic: Contemplating A Samurai  (Read 9142 times)

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MyndBulletz

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Contemplating A Samurai
« on: December 06, 2009, 08:24:22 AM »
I'm currently in a 5th level campaign using 3.5 stuff and some 3.0 (no BoVD or BoED though). I was thinking up a replacement character (since I have a tendency to die/make up characters for fun) and happened upon the Samurai classes from OA and CW and was debating the differences. I'd like to have some sort of input on which one's better (I lean toward CW) and what ways to optimize this type of character into a skillful swordsman...i.e. fast, agile and rather strong. I'd like him to be able to dash in, cut enemies to ribbons and dash out if necessary(or stand laughing over their corpses), and also be capable of defending against multiple enemies at once. (I'm not sure if this just means high AC or other feats/skills)

All input is welcome!
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Solo

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Re: Contemplating A Samurai
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2009, 08:28:57 AM »
Both suck. The OA one sucks less.

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VennDygrem

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Re: Contemplating A Samurai
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2009, 08:44:56 AM »
To elaborate on Solo's point:
The Samurai class, regardless of source, is widely regarded as non-optimal (as in, you will not only lag behind your caster friends, but likely other melee combat classes as well). It's like getting a fighter, but replacing all the useful bonus feats with fairly useless class abilities (or more accurately, mashing together the fighter, ranger, and paladin). In fact, there's very little that a Samurai can do that can't be mimicked, even done better, through feats, spells, skill tricks, or other class features. You can always reflavor another class and call it a samurai. Do you have access to Tome of Battle? Either the Crusader or Warblade could make very nice "samurai" type characters. They also make working in "eastern" influences easier, if that's what you're going for. If you're going for the OA samurai's Iajutsu Focus class skill, you can technically get this by going with a Factotum from Dungeonscape, with much nicer class features.

For a general consensus, or rather a guide that some of us go by, the Tier System for Classes classifies the OA Samurai as Tier 5:
Quote
Capable of doing only one thing, and not necessarily all that well, or so unfocused that they have trouble mastering anything, and in many types of encounters the character cannot contribute. In some cases, can do one thing very well, but that one thing is very often not needed. Has trouble shining in any encounter unless the rest of the party is weak in that situation and the encounter matches their strengths.
While the CW Samurai is Tier 6:
Quote
Not even capable of shining in their own area of expertise. DMs will need to work hard to make encounters that this sort of character can contribute in with their mechanical abilities. Will often feel worthless unless the character is seriously powergamed beyond belief, and even then won't be terribly impressive. Needs to fight enemies of lower than normal CR. Class is often completely unsynergized or with almost no abilities of merit.

This may be different in your campaign, depending on how your group plays. However, this is fairly consistent regardless of play style.

What exactly are you going for? What sources are you specifically allowed and disallowed, if you know?

kurashu

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Re: Contemplating A Samurai
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2009, 08:53:09 AM »
Play a Human Paragon 1/Warblade 19 and take Iajutsu Focus as your perma-skill. For feats grab EWP(bastard sword katana) and Power Attack. Carry a short sword with you at all times (in fact, make it a +5 eager warning defending short sword when you get the chance).

Operation Shoestring

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Re: Contemplating A Samurai
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2009, 09:08:29 AM »
Pft.  EWP: Katana is lame unless you plan to go into Iaijutsu Master, an even then, you can just two hand the thing.

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(not necessarily in that order)

Domains: Travel, Pride, Knowledge, Law (from Ordained Champion) -swap all but pride for Devotions

Feats of note: Able Learner, WF: Katana, Ascetic Mage, Font of Inspiration (at least 3 times)

CHA to AC, CHA to saves, Int x2 to initiative, CHA to damage for every Iaijustu die, Mettle, Reroll 1's on saves automatically, 16 BAB.

Fell free to change the last two levels to whatever you like if you want something other than a bonus domain and mettle.

MyndBulletz

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Re: Contemplating A Samurai
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2009, 09:24:43 AM »
To elaborate on Solo's point:
The Samurai class, regardless of source, is widely regarded as non-optimal (as in, you will not only lag behind your caster friends, but likely other melee combat classes as well). It's like getting a fighter, but replacing all the useful bonus feats with fairly useless class abilities (or more accurately, mashing together the fighter, ranger, and paladin). In fact, there's very little that a Samurai can do that can't be mimicked, even done better, through feats, spells, skill tricks, or other class features. You can always reflavor another class and call it a samurai. Do you have access to Tome of Battle? Either the Crusader or Warblade could make very nice "samurai" type characters. They also make working in "eastern" influences easier, if that's what you're going for. If you're going for the OA samurai's Iajutsu Focus class skill, you can technically get this by going with a Factotum from Dungeonscape, with much nicer class features.

For a general consensus, or rather a guide that some of us go by, the Tier System for Classes classifies the OA Samurai as Tier 5:
Quote
Capable of doing only one thing, and not necessarily all that well, or so unfocused that they have trouble mastering anything, and in many types of encounters the character cannot contribute. In some cases, can do one thing very well, but that one thing is very often not needed. Has trouble shining in any encounter unless the rest of the party is weak in that situation and the encounter matches their strengths.
While the CW Samurai is Tier 6:
Quote
Not even capable of shining in their own area of expertise. DMs will need to work hard to make encounters that this sort of character can contribute in with their mechanical abilities. Will often feel worthless unless the character is seriously powergamed beyond belief, and even then won't be terribly impressive. Needs to fight enemies of lower than normal CR. Class is often completely unsynergized or with almost no abilities of merit.

This may be different in your campaign, depending on how your group plays. However, this is fairly consistent regardless of play style.

What exactly are you going for? What sources are you specifically allowed and disallowed, if you know?

Well since you put it that way, I feel kind of silly now. I suppose I could just go with a warblade that focuses on using a katana + wakizashi combo. Really all i want is what I mentioned earlier: fast, agile and rather strong. I'd like him to be able to dash in, cut enemies to ribbons (attacks that ignore AC or deal extra damage or both) and dash out if necessary(or stand laughing over their corpses), and also be capable of defending against multiple enemies at once. (I'm not sure if this just means high AC or other feats/skills). I suppose the 'samurai' flavor can just be RPed.

Most of our campaigns are very rag-tag as far as group play goes, and all sources aside from Dragon/Dungeon Mags and BoED and BoVD are allowed (homebrew and such subject to DM approval of course)

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Bloody Initiate

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Re: Contemplating A Samurai
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2009, 09:34:53 AM »
Play a Human Paragon 1/Warblade 19 and take Iajutsu Focus as your perma-skill. For feats grab EWP(bastard sword katana) and Power Attack. Carry a short sword with you at all times (in fact, make it a +5 eager warning defending short sword when you get the chance).

Take all three levels of Human Paragon, our GM lets the two caster levels count full to your initiator level
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MyndBulletz

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Re: Contemplating A Samurai
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2009, 09:47:53 AM »
Play a Human Paragon 1/Warblade 19 and take Iajutsu Focus as your perma-skill. For feats grab EWP(bastard sword katana) and Power Attack. Carry a short sword with you at all times (in fact, make it a +5 eager warning defending short sword when you get the chance).

Take all three levels of Human Paragon, our GM lets the two caster levels count full to your initiator level


Hmm...so then the progression would become Human Paragon 1/Warblade1/Human Paragon 2/Warblade16 right?
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Bloody Initiate

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Re: Contemplating A Samurai
« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2009, 09:50:21 AM »
Human Paragon 3/Warblade ------

Your Initiator level at your first level of warblade will be 3 1/2, letting you take second level maneuvers right away (You still get stuck with crappy 1st level Warblade stances though).

If you grab something else before warblade, like monk or fighter, you can get your IL up even higher before taking your first stance.
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DerWille

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Re: Contemplating A Samurai
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2009, 09:54:17 AM »
Perhaps

 Human Paragon 3/Whirling Frenzy Lion Totem Barbarian 1/Warblade 16?

 He can pick up Whirling Frenzy and Pounce would definitely help with what he wants.

bearsarebrown

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Re: Contemplating A Samurai
« Reply #10 on: December 06, 2009, 09:54:47 AM »
Human Paragon 3/Warblade ------

Your Initiator level at your first level of warblade will be 3 1/2, letting you take second level maneuvers right away (You still get stuck with crappy 1st level Warblade stances though).

If you grab something else before warblade, like monk or fighter, you can get your IL up even higher before taking your first stance.

umm you can't progress it if you don't have it yet, right?

Bloody Initiate

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Re: Contemplating A Samurai
« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2009, 09:58:11 AM »
Human Paragon 3/Warblade ------

Your Initiator level at your first level of warblade will be 3 1/2, letting you take second level maneuvers right away (You still get stuck with crappy 1st level Warblade stances though).

If you grab something else before warblade, like monk or fighter, you can get your IL up even higher before taking your first stance.

umm you can't progress it if you don't have it yet, right?

We basically treat it like bloodlines and prestige classes that advance initiator level. Since the caster level for Human Paragon is generic and it's not even technically a casting class, we let it advance initiator level.

And to answer your question more directly, since the ToB is so much beter written and thought out than a lot of what came before it, you could advance it before you have it. That's the 1/2 everyone gets.

Perhaps

 Human Paragon 3/Whirling Frenzy Lion Totem Barbarian 1/Warblade 16?

 He can pick up Whirling Frenzy and Pounce would definitely help with what he wants.

To MyndBulletz: DerWille's above suggested build is getting prettier.

Although I'm not sure how well the flavor works, it's not my character
« Last Edit: December 06, 2009, 10:01:09 AM by Bloody Initiate »
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MyndBulletz

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Re: Contemplating A Samurai
« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2009, 10:00:31 AM »
I see...so would dipping 2 levels of fighter be a good or bad thing? I would think it might be beneficial (bonus feats are always nice, right?) And so going Human Paragon 3/Fighter 2/Warblade 1 my initiator level would be 5 1/2....3rd level maneuvers at first of warblade...sounds nifty. Pounce would be handy too...maybe Fighter 1/ Lion Totem Barb 1 instead of two fighter levels?
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Bloody Initiate

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Re: Contemplating A Samurai
« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2009, 10:04:22 AM »
I see...so would dipping 2 levels of fighter be a good or bad thing? I would think it might be beneficial (bonus feats are always nice, right?) And so going Human Paragon 3/Fighter 2/Warblade 1 my initiator level would be 5 1/2....3rd level maneuvers at first of warblade...sounds nifty. Pounce would be handy too...maybe Fighter 1/ Lion Totem Barb 1 instead of two fighter levels?

It would be 4 1/2

Human Paragon 1 = 1/2
Human Paragon 2 and 3 = 2
Anything non-martial adept 2 = 1
Warblade = 1

And your second suggested progression is better than the first
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DerWille

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Re: Contemplating A Samurai
« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2009, 10:07:23 AM »
I see...so would dipping 2 levels of fighter be a good or bad thing? I would think it might be beneficial (bonus feats are always nice, right?) And so going Human Paragon 3/Fighter 2/Warblade 1 my initiator level would be 5 1/2....3rd level maneuvers at first of warblade...sounds nifty. Pounce would be handy too...maybe Fighter 1/ Lion Totem Barb 1 instead of two fighter levels?

 Well, the reason you go for fighter 2 is for feats. What feats were you thinking about? Otherwise it would just delay having more yummy maneuvers.

Bloody Initiate

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Re: Contemplating A Samurai
« Reply #15 on: December 06, 2009, 10:08:54 AM »
With our feat progression, you shouldn't want much for feats.
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MyndBulletz

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Re: Contemplating A Samurai
« Reply #16 on: December 06, 2009, 10:12:07 AM »
With our feat progression, you shouldn't want much for feats.
That's true. As for the flavor aspect, the 'barbarian' level could simply be a retreat to the lesser civilized regions, learning their ways to better battle them if need be. 4 1/2 IL is still pretty nice. I'll have to roll something up for it and see what I can come up with. Thanks for your help guys.  :D
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DerWille

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Re: Contemplating A Samurai
« Reply #17 on: December 06, 2009, 10:23:51 AM »
Do you guys think that he could make use with a Combat Brute + Stormguard Warrior + Leaping Attack + Valorous Katana fun?

 Let's assume he has +19 BAB from all of this so he has 5 attacks so he goes, Attack, Attack, Touch, Touch, Touch to get a +15 on his next turn then power attack again with everything he's got.

 Actually looking at it closer, it wouldn't work as I thought. Hmm, drop the Stormguard Warrior bit then. I was hoping to see if he could get "charging" status for two rounds straight making 1-2 Stormguard Warrior punch.

Also, if you want another great dip, go for Cleric 1, if you can convince your DM to let you use partial BAB you still get +19 BAB, if not, it'll be +18, not too big of a deal. But the great thing is that you can get cleric domains. There are some great ones that can help you out whether they're through devotions or domains.

Some great ones are:
Knowledge Devotion (Depends on how many skill points you have)
Wrath Domain (There's a 1st level spell called Rhino Rush that doubles your charge damage)
Time Domain (Improved Initiative)
Pride Domain (1 rerolll a day)
Animal Devotion (sacred bonuses to strength and the ability to fly)

Bloody Initiate

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Re: Contemplating A Samurai
« Reply #18 on: December 06, 2009, 10:34:48 AM »
Come to think of it, since you're a samurai (therefore of noble blood) it may be worth it to pick up a bloodline.

I try to get my initiator level up before entering warblade because I really think their first level stance options are somewhat terrible. Blood in the Water and Hunter's Sense are nice, but only with specific builds.

So what I'm talking about is something like:

Human Paragon 2/Bloodline 1/Human Paragon 3/Lion Totem Barbarian 1

Next level is Warblade and you'll drop into it with an initiator level of 5, which is just enough to take 3rd level stances. You'll only be 1 level behind full IL and it won't matter because you'll have pounce, an extra feat, +2 to one ability score of your choice, a feat from the bloodline (likely power attack), and +1 to one ability score from bloodline.

6 feats oughtta tide you over. (1 human, 1 bloodline, 1 paragon, 3 from levels)

If you want to read up on Iaijutsu Focus in Oriental Adventures (and its subsequent errata) as Vennydygrem suggested you may find it to your liking. However you'll have to run that one by the GM, as he may or may not approve.

Also, if you don't want to play another warblade (I know you've played a few in the past), Crusader fits well with the Samurai flavor.

You can pick a bloodline that compliments your noble heritage OR one that sullies your family's name for RP opportunities.

Your BAB will take a hit from the paragon and bloodline levels though, so pick up a +1 weapon and perhaps make weapon focus one of your feats (It may not scale well, but you can retrain it if you want later and it's very useful at such a low level)

@ DerWille: Where is Valorous weapon quality? I've only heard about it and am very intrigued.

As for making Myndbulletz's samurai into a charger, I see nothing wrong with that. Samurais would charge quite a bit as far as I know, so it's historically accurate. And those feats make good sense for the fighting style (Except for leap attack, I think they were largely well-rooted to the ground, but it's still a good feat)

Also our group already uses fractional base scores.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2009, 10:36:23 AM by Bloody Initiate »
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DerWille

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Re: Contemplating A Samurai
« Reply #19 on: December 06, 2009, 10:42:09 AM »
It's in Uapproachable East, a Forgotten Realms book. It doubles your charge damage. So with leap attack and valorous he would get a x3 to his damage.

 Other than a charger build, a AoO build that makes use of his twin swords could give him a Miyamoto Musashi feel to him. Use stuff like Double Hit to get 2 attacks for every one of theirs and what not.