Kensai - Iaijutsu


Rules Questions


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The ability Iaijutsu says "A kensai may make attacks of opportunity when flat-footed, and may draw his favored weapon as a free action as part of taking an attack of opportunity."

However, if he doesn't have a weapon out, and is flat footed, he doesn't threaten, and can't make an attack of opportunity.

It seems to me this is circular reasoning. He can pull a weapon as a free action to hit an attack of opportunity, but without a weapon ready, he doesn't threaten to make an AoO anyway.

Can I get someone else's opinion on this? it seems like a useless ability to me.


Improved unarmed strike.
Combat reflexes.

Dark Archive

I would think the class ability in this case overrides the normal rule of not threatening.


To me, the intent seems to be that as long as the kensai has his favored weapon available and is otherwise not impaired from being able to make AoOs (like a condition that bars him from threatening), he is considered to be 'armed' for the purposes of threatening.

If your GM goes by strict RAW, just have your kensai wear a cestus. Instant threat even without his weapon out.


I'm just absolutely confused by your question.

Iaijutsu (Ex)

At 7th level, a kensai applies his Intelligence modifier as well as his Dexterity modifier on initiative rolls (minimum 0). A kensai may make attacks of opportunity when flat-footed, and may draw his favored weapon as a free action as part of taking an attack of opportunity.

He would be considered threatening because he can draw his weapon as part of the attack of opportunity.

Unless I'm just missing something altogether too.


Sindalla wrote:

I'm just absolutely confused by your question.

Iaijutsu (Ex)

At 7th level, a kensai applies his Intelligence modifier as well as his Dexterity modifier on initiative rolls (minimum 0). A kensai may make attacks of opportunity when flat-footed, and may draw his favored weapon as a free action as part of taking an attack of opportunity.

He would be considered threatening because he can draw his weapon as part of the attack of opportunity.

Unless I'm just missing something altogether too.

It is like : You can not withdraw the weapo if you are not making hte AoO. You are not making the AoO if you are not hreatening. you are not threatening if you does not have the weapon already in hand.


Ironically enough, Alexandros and Stikye have noted a very obvious RAW/RAI crossroads.

By rights, the Kensai does not threaten without a weapon drawn unless he has IUS, meaning the ability to draw a weapon as part of taking the Attack of Opportunity (which is listed a Free Action, something that cannot be done outside your turn unless specified otherwise) has zero matching to the RAI it was designed for.

I'm going to FAQ the OP for an Errata so as to get the RAW in accordance to the RAI. As it stands, the Kensai's ability to supposedly threaten and make attacks with his favored weapon, even when it isn't drawn, is physically impossible and there is no RAW to admit an exception.


I will mark as FAQ as well.

I would say that if you're doing a home game, your DM may see this as the intent of the ability and allow you to threaten, but only if you have your favored weapon on your person.

For a PFS game, as it stands, by RAW, this ability will not allow you to draw your weapon and attack with it on AoO while flatfooted because you're not threatening.

Also, I think I saw it posted above, just wear a Cestus, that way you're always technically threatening.


My character has a level dip into monk for free bonus goodies, so its a non issue for him, but i was reading the ability, and as written it doesn't do what it wants to do i think.

Good to know I wasn't crazy reading it the way I did.


Stikye wrote:

My character has a level dip into monk for free bonus goodies, so its a non issue for him, but i was reading the ability, and as written it doesn't do what it wants to do i think.

Good to know I wasn't crazy reading it the way I did.

If your favored weapon is a Katana, you might like to take a look at this: Blade of the Sword Saint


My guess - they worded it the way they did due to space, and didn't realize it could lead to a RAW\RAI conflict. To properly write it, it would need to say something like:

"At 7th level, a kensai applies his Intelligence modifier as well as his Dexterity modifier on initiative rolls (minimum 0). A kensai may make attacks of opportunity when flat-footed, is considered to threaten as long as his favored weapon is available and he is not otherwise barred from making attacks, and may draw his favored weapon as a free action as part of taking an attack of opportunity."


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brad2411 wrote:
I would think the class ability in this case overrides the normal rule of not threatening.

This is my interpretation as well.


I feel the same way, but I am almost afraid to hit the FAQ button cause, you know, martial things. But since the magus is half caster, FAQed.


Xaratherus wrote:

My guess - they worded it the way they did due to space, and didn't realize it could lead to a RAW\RAI conflict. To properly write it, it would need to say something like:

"At 7th level, a kensai applies his Intelligence modifier as well as his Dexterity modifier on initiative rolls (minimum 0). A kensai may make attacks of opportunity when flat-footed, but only with his favored weapon. If his favored weapon is in his inventory, but isn't drawn, he threatens squares as though he is wielding his favored weapon. If an enemy provokes an attack of opportunity in one of these squares that he threatens, the kensai may draw his favored weapon as part of taking an attack of opportunity. The kensai must use his favored weapon to make the attack of opportunity if he chooses to draw it, or the attack of opportunity is wasted with no effect."

Fixed that for you, since you cannot take Free Actions outside your turn unless the action specifically says you can. Since your iteration did not, it still became unusable.

I also clarified your "threaten while not drawn" clause, since it had an unneeded redundancy. If he's otherwise barred from taking attacks, there's no reason to list it, since it supersedes this ability anyway.

I believe it's also important to specify that with these squares that he threatens with his undrawn weapon (as well as any other weapons drawn or on his person) that he must make the attack with the favored weapon if he chooses to draw it as part of the attack, so as to help prevent munchkin shenanigans with switch-hitting.


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Implied Exception Principle, corollary one: If an ability seems useless - not just weak, but actually useless - you're probably reading it wrong.

I'm getting so tired of these "What's the RAW for wiping my ass" questions.

EDIT: Though I'll have to admit, the blame for this one goes to the writer, not the reader.


I think it could stand to be a little clearer than that, Darksol.

If the kensai could draw his favored weapon normally, he is considered to be threatening squares as though he were wielding that weapon. If an enemy provokes an attack of opportunity from the kensai, he may draw his favored weapon as a free action as part of making that attack of opportunity. The kensai must use his favored weapon to make the attack of opportunity if he chooses to draw it, or the attack of opportunity is wasted with no effect.


yeti1069 wrote:

I think it could stand to be a little clearer than that, Darksol.

If the kensai could draw his favored weapon normally, he is considered to be threatening squares as though he were wielding that weapon. If an enemy provokes an attack of opportunity from the kensai, he may draw his favored weapon as a free action as part of making that attack of opportunity. The kensai must use his favored weapon to make the attack of opportunity if he chooses to draw it, or the attack of opportunity is wasted with no effect.

Yeah, I agree that correction is needed, since it would imply that one could keep it in a Bag of Holding and threaten and draw it out of nowhere. Crazy good swordplay, but also hardly the intent of the ability.

But you have to remove the bolded part. You can only do Free Actions during your turn just like any other action, unless it says it can be done outside your turn, and saying you can do it as part of an attack of opportunity is counterintuitive to it otherwise not needing an action at all to do.


Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
yeti1069 wrote:

I think it could stand to be a little clearer than that, Darksol.

If the kensai could draw his favored weapon normally, he is considered to be threatening squares as though he were wielding that weapon. If an enemy provokes an attack of opportunity from the kensai, he may draw his favored weapon as a free action as part of making that attack of opportunity. The kensai must use his favored weapon to make the attack of opportunity if he chooses to draw it, or the attack of opportunity is wasted with no effect.

Yeah, I agree that correction is needed, since it would imply that one could keep it in a Bag of Holding and threaten and draw it out of nowhere. Crazy good swordplay, but also hardly the intent of the ability.

But you have to remove the bolded part. You can only do Free Actions during your turn just like any other action, unless it says it can be done outside your turn, and saying you can do it as part of an attack of opportunity is counterintuitive to it otherwise not needing an action at all to do.

The free action bit may be redundant, as the text says that you get to both draw and attack as an AoO, but I feel like it just avoids any further confusion--it's not an immediate action, and it takes no time. And if it's telling you that you get to do it as part of making an AoO, that would imply that it is offering an exception to the "free actions only on your turn" rules.


yeti1069 wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
yeti1069 wrote:

I think it could stand to be a little clearer than that, Darksol.

If the kensai could draw his favored weapon normally, he is considered to be threatening squares as though he were wielding that weapon. If an enemy provokes an attack of opportunity from the kensai, he may draw his favored weapon as a free action as part of making that attack of opportunity. The kensai must use his favored weapon to make the attack of opportunity if he chooses to draw it, or the attack of opportunity is wasted with no effect.

Yeah, I agree that correction is needed, since it would imply that one could keep it in a Bag of Holding and threaten and draw it out of nowhere. Crazy good swordplay, but also hardly the intent of the ability.

But you have to remove the bolded part. You can only do Free Actions during your turn just like any other action, unless it says it can be done outside your turn, and saying you can do it as part of an attack of opportunity is counterintuitive to it otherwise not needing an action at all to do.

The free action bit may be redundant, as the text says that you get to both draw and attack as an AoO, but I feel like it just avoids any further confusion--it's not an immediate action, and it takes no time. And if it's telling you that you get to do it as part of making an AoO, that would imply that it is offering an exception to the "free actions only on your turn" rules.

To me, it makes more of it, since the OP himself has asked whether it being a Free Action to draw the weapon as part of the AoO, by RAW, means it fails to function as it doesn't fit with the game's set mechanics.

It doesn't need to state that it is a Free Action, as there is already a game clause that covers this same exact thing:

Not An Action wrote:
Some activities are so minor that they are not even considered free actions. They literally don't take any time at all to do and are considered an inherent part of doing something else, such as nocking an arrow as part of an attack with a bow.

Emphasis mine.

The way I see it, in terms of RAW matching RAI, the "draw the favored weapon as part of making the attack" falls under that category. You're allowed to make attacks of opportunity with the favored weapon, even when sheathed, and drawing the sword to make the attack with it is an inherent part of it.

Simply adding in "As a Free Action," something which the intent clearly doesn't reflect (because if it did, the ability fails to function due to conflicting mechanics), only complicates things further for others. This way is much simpler.


Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Xaratherus wrote:

My guess - they worded it the way they did due to space, and didn't realize it could lead to a RAW\RAI conflict. To properly write it, it would need to say something like:

"At 7th level, a kensai applies his Intelligence modifier as well as his Dexterity modifier on initiative rolls (minimum 0). A kensai may make attacks of opportunity when flat-footed, but only with his favored weapon. If his favored weapon is in his inventory, but isn't drawn, he threatens squares as though he is wielding his favored weapon. If an enemy provokes an attack of opportunity in one of these squares that he threatens, the kensai may draw his favored weapon as part of taking an attack of opportunity. The kensai must use his favored weapon to make the attack of opportunity if he chooses to draw it, or the attack of opportunity is wasted with no effect."

Fixed that for you, since you cannot take Free Actions outside your turn unless the action specifically says you can. Since your iteration did not, it still became unusable.

It does grant an exception. By saying that you can draw your weapon as a free action as part of the AoO, it's granting you the ability to take that specific free action outside of your own turn.

In fact, there's another ability that doesn't even imply it that clearly but that grants it: Snap Shot. Drawing an arrow is a free action, and the FAQ on it implies that it's granting you the ability to draw arrows as a free action to take multiple ranged AoOs.

It doesn't really matter whether you're saying you're drawing it as part of the attack or as a free action, though - mechanically, the class ability already grants the necessary exception by saying, "You can do this as a free action as part of the AoO."


Xaratherus wrote:
Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Xaratherus wrote:

My guess - they worded it the way they did due to space, and didn't realize it could lead to a RAW\RAI conflict. To properly write it, it would need to say something like:

"At 7th level, a kensai applies his Intelligence modifier as well as his Dexterity modifier on initiative rolls (minimum 0). A kensai may make attacks of opportunity when flat-footed, but only with his favored weapon. If his favored weapon is in his inventory, but isn't drawn, he threatens squares as though he is wielding his favored weapon. If an enemy provokes an attack of opportunity in one of these squares that he threatens, the kensai may draw his favored weapon as part of taking an attack of opportunity. The kensai must use his favored weapon to make the attack of opportunity if he chooses to draw it, or the attack of opportunity is wasted with no effect."

Fixed that for you, since you cannot take Free Actions outside your turn unless the action specifically says you can. Since your iteration did not, it still became unusable.

It does grant an exception. By saying that you can draw your weapon as a free action as part of the AoO, it's granting you the ability to take that specific free action outside of your own turn.

In fact, there's another ability that doesn't even imply it that clearly but that grants it: Snap Shot. Drawing an arrow is a free action, and the FAQ on it implies that it's granting you the ability to draw arrows as a free action to take multiple ranged AoOs.

It doesn't really matter whether you're saying you're drawing it as part of the attack or as a free action, though - mechanically, the class ability already grants the necessary exception by saying, "You can do this as a free action as part of the AoO."

It appears you don't understand the implied confusion, even within your own example.

The general rule is that Free Actions (or even any other types of Actions besides Immediate Actions) cannot be taken outside of your turn unless the Action being performed comes out and says "So and So can use this ability even when it is outside his/her turn." Speaking, which is a Free Action, is one of those exceptions.

As written, the Iaijutsu ability does not supersede that general rule. Saying "You can do X as a Free Action as part of making an attack of opportunity," that stand-alone sentence makes no sense with the general rules that are already written. How can you take that Free Action when the AoO is provoked outside your turn, in which case you are forbidden from taking any other Free Actions until your turn comes again?

The same is even stated for Snap Shot, which, as you quaintly pointed out, needed a FAQ to clarify to everyone who otherwise misinterpreted the intent of the RAW; and to be honest, even that has raised questions to people in the several threads that devolved around it. I was a part of the crowd, saying that the FAQ itself was written quite poorly to express the obvious intent behind it, and to be fair it sort of was. (I think you were the one who set it straight for me, actually.)

At this point, the FAQ is still necessary since there still needs to be something that clarifies the intent of the ability, as several others have pointed out they don't quite understand it (and that's fine. The fault isn't theirs, but merely in the poor wording of the RAW).

The Exchange

I think the bottom line of this is to just use common sense. Obviously the intent is to have the squares threatened whether the weapon is drawn or not. And the AoO includes drawing the weapon. Its just an exception the usual rule, that's all.


Kalax the Barbarian wrote:
I think the bottom line of this is to just use common sense. Obviously the intent is to have the squares threatened whether the weapon is drawn or not. And the AoO includes drawing the weapon. Its just an exception the usual rule, that's all.

Common sense ain't so common.

Though I agree with you, just so we can keep this ability cleared up in the future for others who may have the question. It may need to be FAQ'd.

I'll continue to use the ability in the way listed above.

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