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[Advice] Suggestions on how to make my Samurai more interesting in combat.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Hey there.

I’m currently playing a Sword Saint Samurai in our bi-weekly Jade Regent campaign, and while I greatly enjoy his character, I find him to be dreadfully dull in combat.

I usually play primarily casters or half casters, and the few times I have played a martial it has been paladins. I also frequently play a more supportive role or an actual healer.
Originally, this was why I decided to try something new, but I have to admit that it’s just not doing anything for me.

In combat I usually try to set up an Iaijutsu strike if I can (level 10 should make that easier), or otherwise I whack away at the enemies, possibly moving to flank with our death-machine Catfolk Rogue.

I also use intimidation whenever we're facing multiple weaker foes.

Brief Backstory:
My Character was to be the head of a minor noble house in Minkai, but his Aunt conspired to have him removed from power, as she is Loyal to the Five Storms, whereas he is not.

Consequently, he led a small, probably not very significant, rebellion in his fief, utilizing the heavily forested area for guerrilla tactics.
Unfortunately, this couldn’t last forever, and he was eventually betrayed, his makeshift base attacked and his men, wife and children killed. He was carried away by a small group of loyal followers (his cohort included), and they planned on fleeing to Kalsgaard to replenish their forces with the refugees there.

On the way, their caravan was attacked, and only a few survived, only to be found soon after by the other PCs (yes he’s a replacement for one of my other characters).

He’s a very devout follower of Shizuru, and with him he brought a Sorcerer, her Cleric of Shizuru father, his cohort (also a samurai), and a grunt soldier who has since developed a relationship with the cohort.


LG Human Sword Saint Samurai
Deity: Shizuru
Stats (pb20)
STR: 20 (14 +2 Human, +2 Advancement, +2 Enhance)
DEX: 12
CON: 16
INT: 12
WIS: 9
CHA: 12

Gear of note:
- +1 Keen Katana
- Masterwork Wakizashi
- Longbow (Str rating 3)
- +1 Champion O-Yoroi
- Cloak of resistance +2
- Ring of protection +1
- Boots of the Winterlands
- Amulet of natural armour +1
Skills of note:
- Intimidate +17
1st: Power Attack, Bonus: Intimidating Prowess
3nd: Furious Focus
5th: Squire (Now Leadership)
6th: Weapon Focus, Katana
7th: Dazzling Display
Feats I was planning on taking:
Shatter Defenses, Greater Weapon Focus, Deadly stroke, Critical Focus, Staggering Critical.

- Amatatsu Loyalist (Homebrew Campaign Trait) +1 Will Save
- Instigator of Rebellion: +1 Diplomacy and Intimidate
- Ambush Training: +1 Initiative, +1 dmg in surprise rounds.
- Drawback: Sentimental

I’m open to ideas, whether dipping, multiclassing, prestige-classing or simply discovering new aspects of martial combat.

Edit: Our Party consists of my samurai, the Catfolk Rogue, a human ranger switchhitter, a human barbarian also melee, and our Bomb-focused ratfolk Alchemist.

With 2-3 combat options you're actually more versatile than many martial characters. You might take levels in a class like brawler to get martial flexibility, which opens up more options. The exemplar archetype in particular might fit.

I defer to AVR on rules focus.

Your character is a failed Samurai (Daimyo-ish), every combat he is seeking an honorable death to wipe away the dishonor he has brought to his family and himself, by not only showing disloyalty to those he and his family owed fealty to, bringing his fiefdom into rebellion, but he compounded this by failing.

Fortunately, he is traveling with a group who aren't going to recognize his dishonor.

My plan with a Samurai, was to get a Bladed Scabbard and use that most of the time, and only draw my sword against worthy opponents (that I've challenged). Not sure how that will work with your Dazzling Display set up, but there it is.

I have never found the Deadly Stroke Line to be that good for a class that does not need his Opponents Flat Footed (Like a slayer for SA). First you waste a full round to Dazzling Display to intimidate. Then you get some Con bleed that you usually outpace and kill something in a single full round when your group focus fires. I do not like the action economy of it. I much Prefer C. Smash as it is a Free Action and Provides Shaken condition. If your using a cruel weapon they become Sickened on the 2nd hit and if you knock them out/kill them you gain 5 temporary Hit points for 10 minutes. You invest 1 Feat and some Gold and have something that works just as good instead of spending 3 feats. Those other 2 feats can give you more versatility and options if spent wisely as well.

If you do not have a glove item planned out you can grab up Gloves of Arrow Snaring and have a defensive option verse ranged attacks. Snatch Arrows is a very nice ability and you do not need to spend a feat here to get a feat (2/day).

This requires a tad of GM approval, but with the weapon creation rules in Weapon Master's handbook, you can make a "katana" that's a monk weapon, and using Ascetic Style on an UnMonk, you can be a more Samurai Champloo style Samurai.

You should also pick up a naginata or longspear for reach to employ a 3-deep zone of damage (range, reach, melee). Samurai were known for their versatility in using a wide range of weapons, all to best effect to gain an advantage. The trope that samurai are katana wielding dervishes is a Hollywood creation.

This is detailed in the Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi.

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Thank you for your replies everyone, I'll give it some more thought :)

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