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Unread 4th of December, 2011, 02:54
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"Samurai" Build Help

Pathfinder rules - pretty much anything in the SRD is cool
Birthright Campaign Setting - so eastern flavor is very much toned down
Level 5
20 point buy

I've looked over PF Samurai and Cavalier a lot. Initially, I was actually thinking of using Samurai with two levels of fighter to get bonus feats. After much trying to get what I wanted out of it, I abandoned that path. So I'm going with Fighter, with the Dragoon Archetype.

What I've got so far is more like an old-fashioned knight on horseback with a lance, but I'm trying to get the samurai feel through flavor and just a bit of mechanics. I'm using Eastern armor O-Yoroi and I'm going with Mounted Archery, and, as I said above, the Dragoon Archetype.

STATS
Str - 18 (16 base, +2 free)
Dex - 16 (15 base, +1 level 4
Con - 14
Int - 10
Wis - 10
Cha - 8

FEATS
1st Level - Power Attack - -2 for +4 damage (+6 2-handed)
Human Bonus - Furious Focus - Ignore PA penalty on 1st attack/rd
1st Level Fighter Bonus - Mounted Combat, Skill Focus (Ride) (Dragoon gives this)
2nd Fighter Bonus - Weapon Focus Lance
3rd Level - Dodge
4th Fighter Bonus - Weapon Specialization Lance
5th Level - Mounted Archery

Future plans - 6-Vital Strike, 7-Ride by Attack, 8-Spirited Charge, 9-Trick Riding, 10-?, 11-?, 12-?, 13-?, 14-Mounted Skirmisher, ????

ATTACKS
+1 Lance - + 12 to hit (+5 BAB + 4 STR + 1 WF + 1 ST + 1 Magic)
1d8+16 damage (6 STR + 6 PA + 1 Magic + 1 ST + 2 WS)
ST = Spear Training (Dragoon's version of Weapon Training)

DEFENSE
+1 O-Yoroi - 24 = AC (10 + 9 (armor) + 1 (enhance) + 3 (dex) + 1 (deflect - Ring of Prot)


Any suggestions, either from a gamist aspect (I'm not power-gamery, but I am seeing to maximize what I can--in this case he's a melee combatant) or a narrativist aspect (trying to capture a sort of samurai feel for a campaign world that's got zero Eastern flavor)?
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Unread 4th of December, 2011, 03:13
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Improved Unarmed Strike seems appropriate. I'm not terribly familiar with Pathfinder (and I don't know what translates from 3.5), but there is a feat in Tome of Battle called Snap Kick, which basically lets you make an unarmed attack any time you make any kind of attack (attack or full attack action, or even an AOO or something) with the caveat that all attacks that round are at -2. To me it seems very Samurai to slash an enemy and then follow up with an elbow to the face or kick to the gut.
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Unread 4th of December, 2011, 03:28
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Thanks Gral. Improved Unarmed Strike does sound like a decent idea. Might have to work that in somewhere, especially since a lance is a reach weapon.

As for Snap Kick, I knew I had read it somewhere, but I thought it was in the PF system. Sadly, if it didn't translate over, then it's not in, although I might be able to convince the DM.
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Unread 4th of December, 2011, 08:27
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Bear in mind that I know just enough about Samurai history to get me in trouble; I know that, while they were masters of the sword, proficiency with the bow was actually a more valued skill for traditional samurai. Culturally being a marksman with the bow was considered to show a higher refinement of the soul, while practically it made hunting (either man or beast) easier, especially since samurai were more likely to have horses than peasants.

The lance is an interesting, though understandable choice. I don't think it really held any sort of place in traditional Japanese samurai culture though I could be wrong on that. The swords (katana and wakazashi) were more of a status symbol showing that they were of the samurai class, a badge of office if you will. So while you can go that route you don't necessarily have to (and you don't even have to have one since you're not in japan).

Long story short, I'd say that besides having focus on your lance you should also focus on a bow of some sort. Additional advantage in that your horse can carry more quivers than you, so while you're mounted you have significantly more ammunition. A samurai was just someone who was supposed to be a warrior poet, proficient in battle and war while also being competent at governance and leadership, bound by their culture's sense of honor.
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Unread 4th of December, 2011, 08:52
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Thanks!

I was working on this while waiting for suggestions, and indeed bought up a bow and Mounted Archery feat.

Below is my current build. I chose Greatsword Nodachi as I was thinking about the iconic samurai Kikuchiyo (Toshiro Mifune's character) from "Seven Samurai."





Last edited by Mercutio; 4th of December, 2011 at 10:42.
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Unread 4th of December, 2011, 11:50
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Looks good to me. Only thing I can mention is to remember that "Samurai" was more than a title for a warrior. You might even consider putting some a rank or two into "Profession (Poetry)" or something if you want to go for more RP value. Samurai aren't knights or paladins, and (at least in japan) they would kill people who they felt had dishonored or insulted them. Granted the law backed them up on this so it may not work 100% in your game, but it is something to consider. Find a philosophy for your samurai to adhere too might help you get a better feel for him.

Of course that's all RP stuff. Mechanically I'd say who you've got works pretty well.
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Unread 4th of December, 2011, 12:06
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Thanks. I'm sure I can pull out a point or two for poetry. I'm not sure why I didn't think of that myself as I AM a poet and I frequently compose haiku.

The philosophy I was planning was much like the samurai's devotion to daimyo--only in this case it would be the provincial baroness. He's likely to be violent and treat disrespect harshly, but he won't resort to immediate death sentences for all slights.

Last edited by Mercutio; 5th of December, 2011 at 05:24.
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Unread 4th of December, 2011, 17:41
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"Samurai" is such a broad term because Samurai studied such a wide array of fighting. My question would be what kind of fighting would you like your character to specialize in? To me it seems like you want to go mostly with horse archery?

Also, any particular reason that you chose to go with the lance? I agree with red dragon that lance doesn't seem to fit the theme that well.

I know you said you were interested in going with Dragoon but I would suggest taking a look at the variant class options presented in APG here. There are several that could fit a Samurai type character.

Most DMs are ok with using things that were printed in 3.5 books as long as they weren't converted to Pathfinder already with the caveat that they need to be adjusted to their rules. I would suggest taking a look at going into Kensai. It very much fits the feel of Samurai in many ways.

Another suggestion would be to use Ranger instead of fighter. It would allow you to cover the most vast array of skills that most Samurai possessed as well as flesh out the character in other ways. Plus, mixing a combat style like Two-Handed Weapon with one of the variant class options like Horselord would work well. Take a look here. I would probably use Ranger before Fighter. Maybe both.

The rest is just flavor. You can add flavor to any character simply in the way you roleplay them. But I guess I need to know what mechanically you are looking to get out of the character. Hopefully this helps.

Now that I gave advice on your Samurai, how bout you give me some on my ninja? It seems only fitting.
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Unread 4th of December, 2011, 22:25
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Mechanically, I wanted to mimic the feel of the guy from Seven Samurai with the big odachi sword, but I wanted to keep the mounted archery as a back up.

The lance isn't what I was initially looking for, but there are some mechanical aspects of the actual Samurai class from UC like Banner that the Dragoon's Lance echoes -- morale bonuses mostly.

As indicated in the picture, I'm thinking of the lance more like a longspear. Effectively, that's what they really are anyway. And he's got the nodachi as backup when unseated or when mounts are impractical.

I didn't really want TWF as that Samurai trope is done to death.
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Unread 5th of December, 2011, 15:08
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I didn't suggest TWF as I could tell you weren't interested in that. I would take a second look at what I was suggesting from the Ranger alternatives as you can advance along a Two-Handed Weapon path instead of a TWF path as well as going with a variant class option like Horselord. That would work for both a Nodachi and a Longspear.

I'm still not all that clear as to why your pushing the Longspear/Lance route if you also plan on using a Nodachi. The Dragoon route seems like a very focused mounted route whereas Kikuchiyo was more Nodachi with mounted as a backup if memory serves. If you want the mounted feel and the Longspear/Lance is more what your going for then Dragoon is decent but I think that the Ranger path I mentioned is still a stronger route both mechanically and flavor wise.

The only thing that I think the Dragoon offers that is unique is the morale bonus. Is that what your going for with this character? Like a leader type who inspires his team, rides a mount and uses a spear? Because if thats the goal then I would suggest Cavalier.

Really though, longspears still work just peachy when you are dismounted. I don't really see a need to have two different two handed weapons with the same basic purpose. Especially if you go with the Dragoon where you can attack with the butt of the spear against adjacent foes if your in a pinch.

If you go with the Dragoon route I would recommend putting max ranks in jump, getting magic items that assist with it (Dragoon Boots perhaps?) and frequently jumping so high that you spend several rounds completely out of the battle only to come down and make a devistating attack. I would also highly recommend using the name Kain or Cid and preferably a last name of Highwind.
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Last edited by Lune; 5th of December, 2011 at 15:15.
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Unread 5th of December, 2011, 22:11
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“ Originally Posted by Lune # I didn't suggest TWF as I could tell you weren't interested in that. I would take a second look at what I was suggesting from the Ranger alternatives as you can advance along a Two-Handed Weapon path instead of a TWF path as well as going with a variant class option like Horselord. That would work for both a Nodachi and a Longspear. ”
For some reason I read Two-Handed as TWF. That's my bad.

I looked at the Ranger variants yesterday and the Two-Handed one is interesting, but Horselord didn't do much for me. That strikes me more Riders of Rohan.

“ I'm still not all that clear as to why your pushing the Longspear/Lance route if you also plan on using a Nodachi. ”
I wasn't, but Dragoon as an archetype kind of forces that. It's the one thing I didn't really like, but I do like the mounted warrior idea.

“ The Dragoon route seems like a very focused mounted route whereas Kikuchiyo was more Nodachi with mounted as a backup if memory serves. If you want the mounted feel and the Longspear/Lance is more what your going for then Dragoon is decent but I think that the Ranger path I mentioned is still a stronger route both mechanically and flavor wise. ”
The Ranger path is way weaker on feats, and I don't know that the class abilities make up for it. Like, by level 5 the Ranger build would only have 4 total feats, and one of those would have to be Mounted Combat, which leaves only three others open.

“ The only thing that I think the Dragoon offers that is unique is the morale bonus. Is that what your going for with this character? Like a leader type who inspires his team, rides a mount and uses a spear? Because if thats the goal then I would suggest Cavalier. ”
The Samurai class IS a Cavalier, and there were mechanical things I did like about it, but there were some I didn't, and some I not only didn't like, but also didn't want to have as they would be wasted.

I'm still waiting to hear if a mount is a viable build from the DM. This might all be for naught if he says that it won't be much of a help. And if that's the case, I'll drop Dragoon immediately, and maybe look at the TH ranger or the TH fighter archetypes.

“ Really though, longspears still work just peachy when you are dismounted. I don't really see a need to have two different two handed weapons with the same basic purpose. Especially if you go with the Dragoon where you can attack with the butt of the spear against adjacent foes if your in a pinch. ”
Honestly, I had a trait open and couldn't find anything else worth getting. The Nodachi isn't necessary, really, which is why I didn't invest much into it.

“ If you go with the Dragoon route I would recommend putting max ranks in jump, getting magic items that assist with it (Dragoon Boots perhaps?) and frequently jumping so high that you spend several rounds completely out of the battle only to come down and make a devistating attack. I would also highly recommend using the name Kain or Cid and preferably a last name of Highwind. ”
Interesting.
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