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Samurai

The samurai is a culture within a culture—hereditary military nobility—who serve and protect the daimyo to whom they are sworn. Their reputation as fierce warriors is unmatched in nearly any culture, and they live their lives according to a bushido code; a code of honor that is unbreakable upon pain of death. Many of them serve as more than just warriors, acting as administrators, judges, and executioners for their lords and their lands. Samurai have distinctive armor, simply known as samurai armor, which consists of overlapping plates of steel. They also wear helmets called kabuto that consist of a half-mask made in the likeness of the Samurai’s lord, father, or other ancestor, and they have a neck guard composed of multiple overlapping metal plates. They are also known for carrying katana, which are extremely strong and sharp, slightly curved longswords.

As an adventurer, there are a number of reasons why you may not currently be at your daimyo’s side. Perhaps you still serve him, but he has sent you on a quest he considers vitally important. Alternatively, your daimyo may have been killed by a rival, and you are without a house. You might even be on a mission to avenge his murder. Another possibility is that you committed an action that was against your bushido code, and rather than committing seppuku (ritual suicide), you decided to leave your master’s service and attempt to atone.

As a samurai, it is vital that you make every effort to act with honor at all times. This does not necessarily mean that you must also be of good alignment, however. It is possible for evil characters to behave in a completely honorable fashion, and use it to hide their true natures.

Proficiencies

Skills Athletics, Perception
Tools: Artisan’s tools, gaming set
Equipment: Bedroll, bullseye lantern, climber’s kit, katana, manacles, samurai armor.

Feature: Privileged Status

When a samurai is in the lands controlled by his daimyo, he is treated like royalty by the people. When you travel, people are expected to offer you a place to sleep and free food. In addition to this, many daimyos provide you with the power to pardon a criminal simply by speaking to the magistrate.

This can extend beyond your Daimyo’s lands when in allied lands, or if your daimyo is highly regarded by the people.

Suggested Characteristics

As a samurai, you are more than just a warrior. You have familial responsibilities that you must keep in mind at all times. When you go out among the people, you represent the daimyo, and as such, must act in a way that does not embarrass him. This is a tremendous responsibility, and you take it seriously, for to not do so would invite dishonor and death. Because of this, you are very controlled and deliberate in your actions, and are seen by many as stiff. Despite this, you try to temper your behavior with kindness, particularly to those who are not fortunate.

Your Bushido Code

Your bushido code is the code of honor that you are required to live by as a samurai. Although honor plays a large part of this, there are other traits that figure into it as well. This code is not provided as part of this archetype because it is something that can vary from setting to setting, game to gain. Instead of having it provided in this book, you should work with your game master to come up with a unique code for your character.

d8 Personality Trait
1 I behave rigidly and do not show my emotions. I need people to see me as a force of nature, not a human being.
2 I prefer journeying to staying in a single place for too long.
3 I am full of fiery intensity when angered. Sometimes it’s a struggle to remain honorable.
4 I look forward to the prospect of mentoring a future samurai one day.
5 I cannot live a simple life, so I choose to lead a good life.
6 I find it difficult to reconcile my code of honor with the knaves whose company I must keep to be successful.
7 I try not to make new enemies if I can help it. The old ones are already enough of a problem.
8 I dislike braggarts. Those with things to be proud of should be humble.
d6 Ideal
1

Community. My responsibility to protect the community is second only to protecting my daimyo.

2 Balance. The universe strives for balance… yin and yang. It is not my job to determine what balance is, but it is my job to protect it.
3 Boldness. I act deliberately and decisively.
4 Fairness. Being fair with others is one of the ways I protect my image and that of my daimyo.
5 Honor. My honor is my life.
6 Kindness. I choose when and how to be kind, for it is not a requirement of my code, but it is one of the ways in which I am judged.
d6 Bond
1 My daimyo is my lord and master, and I do all things to protect and honor him.
2 I listened to a murderer explain why he had killed his neighbor. He explained that the slain man had dishonored his daughter. When I spoke to others and confirmed this, I set him free. He now believes that he owes me a life debt.
3 I made a powerful enemy in the daimyo of a faraway land. He is likely to send assassins to try and kill me.
4 I came calling to collect a debt to my daimyo but was attacked by the debtor, who then fled. I will track down this traitor and bring him to justice.
5 I met one of my party members when they saved my life by making me aware of an ambush waiting for me.
6 I owe a personal debt to the person who forged my katana, for it sharpens easily and has never broken.
d6 Flaw
1 I am quick to anger.
2 Despite my station, I feel fear when going into battle.
3 I don’t think I could commit ritual suicide if I violate my bushido code.
4 My body odor is powerful, and it becomes even more so in my armor.
5 I crack jokes often and am frequently told they are not funny.
6 I am quick to judge the characters of other people, and I have been wrong about them before.
Section 15: Copyright Notice

Battlemasters & Berserkers © 2021, Legendary Games; Author Darrin Drader.

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