Samurai are the elite warriors of the nations of Kozakura and Wa, trained since childhood in the arts of battle. Sworn in service to the powerful nobles who govern the empire, they are expected to live and die according to their master’s command. Cultured and refined, samurai dedicate themselves utterly to the tenets of bushido—the warrior’s code that teaches that one’s life is not one’s own, and that nothing is more important than honor, obedience, and courage.
    Samurai are born into their class, enjoying social privileges second only to the ruling nobility. Many come from families that own land themselves, and thus grow up accustomed to a life of wealth and entitlement. The samurai’s lofty place in society sometimes leads individuals down a path of arrogance or brutality, since a samurai is above the law when dealing with those of lower station; however, true followers of bushido emphasize traits such as benevolence and politeness, as well as courage.
    A samurai’s training begins at a young age, when he is introduced to the rigorous demands of bushido. Young samurai are exposed to extreme heat, cold, and pain, enduring all with emotionless poise. They are steeled against the fear of death by being sent on errands through graveyards or near hangman’s gallows at night. Each samurai-in-training is taught to read and write, contemplating classics of literature, religion, and art with which to refine his mind and spirit. Finally, all are taught the martial arts for which these warriors are most well known.
    Samurai heroes are expected to fight and die at their lord’s command, and their adventures reflect that. Samurai will undertake any quest their master assigns them, whether waging open war or avenging an insult to their lord’s honor; a samurai obeys without hesitation. A samurai who proves worthy of reward will be honored with lands and wealth, and, perhaps most important, the lord’s approval. This honor, and the perpetual striving toward one’s perfection of bushido, is all-important for a samurai, who will go to any length to maintain and uphold it. Should a samurai bring shame to himself or his master, he is allowed to take his own life in an act of ritualistic suicide, allowing him to die with his honor intact. For a samurai, death is preferable to dishonor.

    Samurai Starting Feature (1st level): You gain the iaijutsu power.
    Samurai Level 5 Feature (5th level): You gain a +2 power bonus to Diplomacy checks and Intimidate checks.
    Samurai Level 10 Feature (10th level): Choose a weapon group when you gain this feature. When you make a weapon attack with a weapon from that group and score a critical hit, the attack deals 1d6 extra damage to the target. This increases to 2d6 extra damage at level 21.

Samurai Utility Iaijutsu

While others contemplate, you act, loyal and resolute even in the face of death.

Encounter        Martial
Free Action      Personal

Trigger: You roll initiative.

Effect: You can draw a weapon and shift up to a number of squares equal to half your speed. If you end this move adjacent to an enemy, you gain a +2 power bonus to the next attack roll you make against that enemy before the end of your next turn.
    If your initiative is higher than every enemy’s initiative, any melee weapon attack you make during your first turn of the encounter can score a critical hit on a roll of 18-20.

Samurai Utility 2Honorable Resolve

In the service of your master you know no fear, no weakness, and no surrender.

Daily        Martial
Immediate Reaction      Personal

Trigger: You are bloodied by an attack or damaged by an attack while bloodied.

Effect: You can use your second wind. Until the end of the encounter, you gain a +5 power bonus to saving throws against charm and fear effects, and enemy attacks never treat you as being bloodied.

Samurai Utility 6Dauntless Gaze

You level an unwavering glare, projecting your focus with such intensity that your opponent is shaken to the core.

Encounter        Fear, Martial
Immediate Interrupt      Close burst 3

Requirement: You must have training in Intimidate.

Trigger: An enemy within 3 squares of you moves willingly.

Target: The triggering enemy

Effect: The target is marked by you and grants combat advantage until the end of your next turn.

Samurai Utility 10Riddle of Steel

In your hands, weapon and warrior are united in spirit, as your mind empties of the battlefield’s distractions.

Encounter        Martial
Minor Action      Personal

Requirement: You must be holding a melee weapon.

Effect: You can make a saving throw. Also, until the end of your next turn, you gain a power bonus to Fortitude, Reflex, and Will equal to the highest enhancement bonus of a melee weapon you are holding.

Published in Dragon Magazine 404.