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(advice) Build / concept for a Katana-wielder that's NOT a samurai


Advice


There is this NPC in our campaign that served as my PCs sword mentor. My PC is a swashbuckler that sort of took his own personality with him into her teachings. She originally hails from the Ushinawa isles, an island group populated mostly by Tian-Min humans. She defected and lives as a hermit in the woods. I need some ideas for how to build her.

I began looking into the Samurai class at first, but didn't find it's features particularly interesting or relevant and times confusing. Essentially I'm looking to build a weapons master that is particularly proficient with a katana (or a similar exotic weapon), single handed or 2H. I thought maybe looking into combinations of fighter, monk, ninja or possibly an archetype of samurai if I need to. Kensai Magus -is- an option, but it does look a little over the top and flashy.

Essentially I could just make a vanilla fighter with exotic weapons proficiency and be done with it, but I'd like to add some more mystery to it. Multi-classing with Monk could be cool as I'd love a reason to add some wisdom into the build, and the ki-system is really cool, despite the dangers of going MAD. I saw Weapon Master (fighter) 3/Sohei (Monk) 6 suggested in one of the threads as a way to get flurry of blows with a katana. That's definitely something along the lines of what I'd like to look into. Especially if I could utilize items such as this one:

http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic-items/magic-weapons/specific-magic-weapons/bl ade-of-the-sword-saint/

TLDR:Thing is, I know fairly little about the above mentioned classes. I guess I'm looking for a simple, yet colorful build that doesn't go too much into situational bonuses. The character is basically a neutral hermit swordmaster. No need for mounts, orders or the likes.

If anyone would like to suggest builds the stats we're using are 15, 14, 13, 12, 10 & 8. She's human and might have the "middle aged" template apllied. (-1 to str, dex, con. +1 to int, wis and cha)


Ceric of Shizuru 1 / Unchained Monk rest with Crusader's Flurry feat. This gives you a nice Tian background and Katana-flurry


Swashbuckler 1 /scout ninja X super high sneak attack and attack and damage with dexterity


Thanks for the quick reply, guys!

Both builds look interesting.

If I were to go with the first suggestion of Cleric (possibly Crusader archetype) 1/UC Monk X, would it be a smart decision to go for the weapon adept monk archetype or possibly Sohei archetype? Just to gear the build more towards sword use. The latter even offers light armor for the monk.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Unchained monks can't technically take those archetypes. If you can anyway then go for Sohei, sure.


Reventyr wrote:

Thanks for the quick reply, guys!

Both builds look interesting.

If I were to go with the first suggestion of Cleric (possibly Crusader archetype) 1/UC Monk X, would it be a smart decision to go for the weapon adept monk archetype or possibly Sohei archetype? Just to gear the build more towards sword use. The latter even offers light armor for the monk.

Most archetypes are incompatible with UC Monk. But standard is really good, especially if you flurry two-handed with power attack.

Liberty's Edge

The sohei can work really well, but as said it works only for the core monk, but he is also quite good at this.
Crusader's flurry on the katana and then you can use the 6th level ability to pick a bow to flurry with when swordplay is not the ideal option.

The option to wear light armor instead of getting your wisdom to AC can work very good if you don't have the means to get a high Wis.

And taking a dip in the crusader to get the much needed weapon focus from start is not bad either


I want to add that you can be a "samurai" without having levels in the samurai class. Samurai had a code they followed, and swore fealty to a lord. At it's most basic these are the main tenets of being a samurai.

So, if you wanted to be one in game, and without being a member of the samurai class you could be.

Outside of that, virtually any class that works well with two-handing a melee weapon can work with a katana. As to why your character would use it, because your teacher used one and taught you to fight with one. Doesn't really need more justification.

You might consider playing a half-elf so you can get free proficiency in a katana.

After that, what class you want to consider is up to you. There are a lot of ways you could build the character. You could build a swashbuckler. You could build a Daring Champion cavalier which is like a swashbuckler, but also have the order and edicts. Of course you could say you rejected the traditional samurai way and chose to swear yourself to an order that stands for *insert idea here*.

You could just be a barbarian that likes to smash stuff with his katana. Really, you could go many many directions.


Idk much about that specific archetype of monk but the ninja is a nice mix of abilities with using the ki pool (shadow clones, super high jumps at easy D.C.'s and if I remember right you can also get basically any rogue talent) though you seem more interested in the monk side of things


On the note of samurai I actually made a Samurai Jack build a little while back (no levels in samurai)


You could always play a Cavalier with an Exotic Weapon proficiency. :)


Darc1396 wrote:
On the note of samurai I actually made a Samurai Jack build a little while back (no levels in samurai)

Really now? I'd love to have a look at that if you have it typed up somewhere :3

EDIT: My GM allows UC monks to take all archetypes in order to elevate them from "tier suck", as he puts it.


You're GM is fine to do that, but the Unchained monk doesn't actually suck. When built well, they're actually pretty darn strong. You just have to accept that you're going to be a strength/wis build and that you're AC isn't going to be great.

Starting with:
STR: 16 DEX: 13 CON: 14 INT: 11 WIS: 14 CHA: 7 and applying a racial bonus to strength to raise it to 18 is a very valid build. Power attack flurry with a two-handed weapon and you're good to go. You probably want to put your first ability point increase into dex. And get a friend to cast mage armor on you regularly.


List of things that like using 1-handed weapons and nothing else:

-Magus

-Swashbuckler

And then there's Dervish Dance, but that's specific to scimitars and sarenrae.

That leaves you with a couple options. I sense that you're looking for a romanticized lightly armored katana-only guy, samurai jack style, as opposed to trying to reproduce an actual samurai, yes?

What do you think of shields? Samurai used buckler-equivalents while mounted to keep from getting shot in the head, but it's probably not really the style you're looking for.

If you go with Shizuru as your deity and take a cleric level, you will get Katana proficiency for free, and channel energy.

Add weapon focus, at least 1 level in monk, and the Crusader's Flurry feat. Now you're flurrying with a katana, much earlier than sohei/weaponsmaster would have allowed. If you're an unchained monk, you'll probably want to start in on the Ascetic style feats, so you can use all your neat unarmed-only monk abilities with your katana, such as style strikes, which are super important.

Alternatively, be a barbarian or bloodrager, pump strength, and two-hand a katana. This is the brute force approach to any request that goes "I want to wield X melee weapon and do well".


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Ellioti wrote:
Ceric of Shizuru 1 / Unchained Monk rest with Crusader's Flurry feat. This gives you a nice Tian background and Katana-flurry

A slight tweak,

Unchained Monk 1
Crusader Cleric of Shizuru 1
Unchained Monk X

This gets you free weapon focus, proficiency and flurrying with a katana by level 3. Domain Strike latter to stagger on an unarmed strike, flurry with katana for the rest. when you get Medusa's wrath up and running this is a brutal swordmaster.


Consider making a dual wielder, using the Hand's Autonomy feat to lower the penalties for using 2 one-handed weapons. Slayer could be good for this.

Or, if the inspiration was a swashbuckler's master, then how about the Daring Champion Cavalier? It's about halfway between a samurai and a swashbuckler.


Also note that Shizuru gets the Repose domain. With some combination of Ascetic Style, Domain Strike, and a ki focus weapon, you can (I think) deliver your Repose domain power through the katana. Get Guided Hand and you can pretty much be SAD on Wisdom.

Not an optimal build, but the idea of a peaceable hermit who just cuts you to sleep seems really chill.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Unchained rogue with exotic weapon proficiency Wakizashi can make for a prettty good swordsman as well with asian flavor.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
GozrehTime wrote:

Also note that Shizuru gets the Repose domain. With some combination of Ascetic Style, Domain Strike, and a ki focus weapon, you can (I think) deliver your Repose domain power through the katana. Get Guided Hand and you can pretty much be SAD on Wisdom.

Not an optimal build, but the idea of a peaceable hermit who just cuts you to sleep seems really chill.

I played around with a similar concept a while back, the author weighed in to clarify that ascetic style and crusader's flurry do not interact. You can flurry with a katana as if it was a monk weapon (weapon ability) with Crusader's flurry but ascetic style only checks against the monk weapon (weapon group) feature of which there is no way to add to a katana. You can however domain strike with the Repose domain using a kick (Or a flying kick?) and then make all of your other attacks by flurrying two handed katana strikes.

Ki weapon does not interact with the rules for domain powers/domain strike as i understand it.

As is, getting a free, no save, stagger followed by a full attack is great by itself even if the stagger doesnt have the best damage. As i hint at upthread, by level 12 you get three attacks by BAB, two extra Flurry attacks and then two free attacks with medusa's wrath. Spent a Ki point for a 8th attack why not. Haste gets you up to 9. that is one unarmed flying kick with a no save stagger followed by up to 8 two handed, high crit, swings.

So this is for an NPC build and going that crazy isnt really called for i guess but its still an amazingly good sword build.

Dark Archive

I have a Dwarven Inquisitor (Sanctified Slayer) Shizuru build located here:

http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2u05s?1-Level-Fighter-X-Inquisitor#1

Go down a few comments to see the remodelled version without the fighter dip. Ultimately its a intimidate build to help get the sneak attacks (form the sanctified slayer build) with Power Attack/Corugon Smash/Shattered Defenses or the Blistering Invective Spell. As he is a dwarf wielding a katana I named him Dougal MacDougal of the Clan MacDougal and is my version of Duncan McCloud (i.e., the highlander) and runs around chopping of people's heads if they won't convert. Going for a +1 Cruel Weapon so I can also debuff with sickened and I may swap out the level 5 feat for Extra Bane as Bane will really up my damage. Just swap the deity/favoured weapon combo from Ragathiel/Bastard Sword to Shizuru/Katana.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'm having trouble locating the exact build but in a nutshell it was a cross between the ninja/fighter/monk ninja for high jumps with little difficulty and ki tricks, monk for fast movement and overall feel as well as wiz to AC, and fighter for the extra feats I believe


Here's the original thread where I was starting to piece it together http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2u8tm?Samurai-Jack-Build


Ierox wrote:
I sense that you're looking for a romanticized lightly armored katana-only guy, samurai jack style, as opposed to trying to reproduce an actual samurai, yes?

Guilty as charged, 100 %, fully acknowledging how cheesy it sounds :P

Flavor wise, I wanted the character to have had a past serving with the expanded minkaian shogunate, but for some reason chose to leave that life behind years ago to pursue a more ascetic hermit life style. Crunch wise, I wanted to avoid a class with multiple incidental bonuses to keep track of, and rather have one that utilizes cool stacking mechanics.

Torbyne wrote:

(...) The author weighed in to clarify that ascetic style and crusader's flurry do not interact. You can flurry with a katana as if it was a monk weapon (weapon ability) with Crusader's flurry but ascetic style only checks against the monk weapon (weapon group) feature of which there is no way to add to a katana.

So this is for an NPC build and going that crazy isnt really called for i guess but its still an amazingly good sword build.

1) http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic-items/magic-weapons/specific-magic-weapons/bl ade-of-the-sword-saint/ - This item might bypass the rules in regards to ascetic style/form? Though it might also call into question the need for crusader's flurry :s

2) Very true that this is actually meant for an NPC, I'm definitely going overboard in preparing. Though, as a player who hasn't played Pathfinder for long and haven't gotten the chance to play many classes I see NPCs as a possibility for doing research and learning how various classes work and synergize. It's extremely helpful to have in mind for future possibilities, say, if I ever were to try my hands at GM'ing. My impression is that pathfinder is a game where you can make almost any idea for a character come to life and it's very interesting to see the many ways it can be done.

All in all, I can do nothing, but thank each and every one who has weighed in on this thread :) I've tried to pull together a build from the various suggestions and it's looking something like this:

1 UC Monk: Power Attack, Cleave, Combat Reflexes
2 Crusader (Shizuru): WF (Katana), Domain: Repose
3 UC Monk: Crusader's Flurry, Scorpion Style
4 UC Monk
5 UC Monk: Asctic Style, Ki power 1: ???
6 UC Monk: Style strike 1: ???
7 UC Monk: Ascetic form, Gorgon's Fist, Ki power 2: ???

Then again, I was recently made aware of the Swashbuckler Ronin archetype: http://www.d20pfsrd.com/classes/hybrid-classes/swashbuckler/archetypes/ever yman-gaming-llc/ronin-swashbuckler/

I could see a thematic build happening with UC Monk 2/Crusader 1/Ronin Swash X - If I understand the rules correctly, it would open the door to a true neutral alignment, which would be fitting with the flavor. It also grants survival as a class skill, further fitting with the traits of a hermit. She would be an ex-monk (retaining monk skills, but not permitted further levels). Finally, it could also be a nice compromise between an historically accurate samurai and the romanticized Samurai Jack-style. Though I doubt the build would be near as powerful as the ones that have been suggested as of yet =P Or maybe? I'll have to look into it.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Reventyr wrote:
Ierox wrote:
I sense that you're looking for a romanticized lightly armored katana-only guy, samurai jack style, as opposed to trying to reproduce an actual samurai, yes?

Guilty as charged, 100 %, fully acknowledging how cheesy it sounds :P

Flavor wise, I wanted the character to have had a past serving with the expanded minkaian shogunate, but for some reason chose to leave that life behind years ago to pursue a more ascetic hermit life style. Crunch wise, I wanted to avoid a class with multiple incidental bonuses to keep track of, and rather have one that utilizes cool stacking mechanics.

Torbyne wrote:

(...) The author weighed in to clarify that ascetic style and crusader's flurry do not interact. You can flurry with a katana as if it was a monk weapon (weapon ability) with Crusader's flurry but ascetic style only checks against the monk weapon (weapon group) feature of which there is no way to add to a katana.

So this is for an NPC build and going that crazy isnt really called for i guess but its still an amazingly good sword build.

1) http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic-items/magic-weapons/specific-magic-weapons/bl ade-of-the-sword-saint/ - This item might bypass the rules in regards to ascetic style/form? Though it might also call into question the need for crusader's flurry :s

2) Very true that this is actually meant for an NPC, I'm definitely going overboard in preparing. Though, as a player who hasn't played Pathfinder for long and haven't gotten the chance to play many classes I see NPCs as a possibility for doing research and learning how various classes work and synergize. It's extremely helpful to have in mind for future possibilities, say, if I ever were to try my hands at GM'ing. My impression is that pathfinder is a game where you can make almost any idea for a character come to life and it's very interesting to see the many ways it can be done.

All in all, I can do nothing, but thank each and every one who has weighed in on this thread :) I've tried to...

Nope, i wish it was otherwise but when the Blade of the Sword Saint says "a monk treats the blade as a monk weapon" what they mean is they treat is as a Monk Weapon, not a Monk Weapon. super confusing i know but remember that being in the Monk Weapon Weapon Group does not let a monk use the weapon in a Flurry, only having the Monk Weapon Weapon Special Ability lets a monk Flurry so in effect the Blade of the Sword Saint gives you free Crusader's Flurry but still doesnt let you use Ascetic Style with the sword. I really do wish there was a way to do this all through the sword but it just cant be done under the current rules.

Another thing to note for your feats is that a Monk doesnt need to select the prerequisites for their bonus feats, you can take Medusa's Wrath without Scorpion Style or Gorgan's fist. I assume you just took those to qualify since they are fairly lame by themselves?

You could swap out Scorpion Style for Dodge just to get that extra point of AC. Your Ki power should be Barkskin, its a huge AC boost. Instead of Ascetic Style... well, sky is the limit, unfortunately the best feats for Monks tend to be styles but you forgo that in exchange for better crits, 1.5 STR, 3:1 Power Attack, cheaper enchanting and better enchanting options. I highly recommend Flying Kick for your Style Strike since it grows as you level and basically gives you pounce, let the Style Strike carry your Domain Strike while you are at it to get that debuff going at the start of your attack routine.


Would Kenetic Knight work? you get Samurai Resolve ability.


Have you investigated the Sword Saint Samurai? It replaces Banner, Mount and Mounted Archery for Iaijutsu abilities which give me a Samurai Jack feeling. Maybe choose Ronin or Warrior for the Order. Multiclassing Weapon Master Monk or VMC Monk could make this a deadly character I think.


Sword Saint is an abysmal archetype. It's difficult to use the Iaijutsu Strike ability, and even when you can it can't be used more than once per opponent.


And even when you do use it, 2/3 of a rogue's precision damage on a single attack made as a full round action just isn't that impressive. Great concept, terrible execution.


Bladebound Kensai

They pick up the exotic weapon proficiency and weapon focus as bonus feats at 1st level.

The 18-20 x2 crit range is ideal for a magus

The concept of the swordsman focusing on a singular weapon is very thematic.


Not sure if a deity has katana for a favored weapon, but Warpriest could make an interesting choice.

Warpriest of Shizuru

(Shizuru is the Tian-Min goddess of the sun, honor, ancestors, and swordplay.)


Sorry for the (slight) necro, but just remembered Tengus and an alternate racial trait.

Exotic Weapon Training wrote:
Instead of swords, some tengus are trained in exotic weaponry. Such tengus choose a number of eastern weapons equal to 3 + their Intelligence bonus, and gain proficiency with these weapons. This racial trait replaces swordtrained.

So a Tengu of ANY class can use a katana.


Well, obviously, wearing a kilt provides proficiency with the Katana.


so, is it even really worth using katanas for this when considering two handed builds?

nodachis are basically just big katanas, and they are martial weapons. nodachis also work with sohei monks without any tricks- they count as polearms, which falls under their special weapon training/flurry rules.


Could you not reflavour the temple sword to look like a Katana?


What race? If you are willing to either be human and burn a feat or half elf I would advocate being an enlightened paladin. Wait keep reading !!! If you seek to be lightly or even not armored at all there is nothing better because....

1) your Background fits te alignment well
2) your charisma eventually becomes your AC like the kensai that you mentioned
3) best saves in game AND get the ki pool of a monk on top of that.
4) the personal trial isn't situational bonuses like smite evil is
5) you have your fist as backup weapon, which comes up more than people think.
6) spells and mercies for light healing.
7) full BAB


My fantasy style samurai is a multiclass build consisting of Scaled Fist Unchained Monk and Daring Champion cavalier. Unmonk gives you flurry with the Nine Ring Broadsword or Temple Sword, either of which can be refluffed as a Katana. Take Weapon Focus and Slashing Grace in your preferred weapon, focus Dex, Con and Charisma. Select Flames as your Cavalier order, giving you access to Glorious Challenge and the most Samurai like ability, Fool Hardy Rush. Quick Draw, Swashbucklers Initiative, and Foolhardy rush combine into a Iaijutsu like fighting style. Consider the Charger trait for an extra 10 ft to your Fool Hardy Rush. Flames even gives you access to Surival as a class skill, which you mentioned a desire for. I chose Hobgoblin as my race, but Human is an always solid choice. I wear light armor rather than rely on the Monk AC bonys. If you're not worried about the panache/ki synergy, you can always take Monk of The Mantis rather than Scaled Fist.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber

If you wear armor you can't flurry unless you're a sohei.


So, are you looking for damage or debuff effects?
If you are interested in damage, going swashbuckler 1/UnRogue x and taking Canny Tumble and Confounding Tumble Deed will really hurt other dex-based combatants.
Go for bleeding attacks and use bebilitating strike to make them less accurate or slow them. I would also suggest taking Dirty Fighter to open up combat maneuvers without many of the prerequisites.


Imbicatus wrote:
If you wear armor you can't flurry unless you're a sohei.

You know, I knew that, but I somehow totally forgot. Thanks for pointing it out.

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