Can Katanas finally be finesse weapons?


Skills, Feats, Equipment & Spells

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It's a staple in anime, literature, and general popular culture. The agile swordsman using deadly grace and precision to quickly draw his katana and unleash a flurry of strikes before an opponent even has time to react is a staple in anime, literature, and general popular culture.

Why can't the system better support this by simply giving katanas the finesse trait? The katana needs reworked anyway as it's currently a copy/paste of the longsword. I wouldn't even mind if the weapon's damage was lowered.


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I can dig the finesse thing. But at least they should be a slashing version of what they have as a bastard sword (which is its own issue but that is another place and time). It would at least allow for the image that is more constant to katana combat styles.


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I'm fine with any bladed weapons being finesse, even greatswords, because in real life, Dexterity would have mattered more. Think of it this way: You don't need to be ripped to operate a steak knife.

On the other hand, longbows. Now those took strength. For example, an English longbow had a draw strength of around 180 lbs. In other words, you effectively have to lift 180 lbs of weight with three fingers and maintain enough control to aim. There's a reason composite bows existed in 1e...

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Ronin Pi wrote:
I can dig the finesse thing. But at least they should be a slashing version of what they have as a bastard sword (which is its own issue but that is another place and time). It would at least allow for the image that is more constant to katana combat styles.

I totally agree.

I'd like to see something like:
1d6 slashing with the agile, finesse, and two-hand (1d8) traits


Katanas are more tip heavy and awkward to use than most Middle Eastern and European swords. I totally agree that functionally, all swords should be finesse based, as the system currently stands, katanas shouldn't be finesse while none of the other ones are.

Yes, Paizo has stated that in general, pop culture depictions are more important when determining how they design their weapons, and older pop culture, particularly anime and samurai movies, show the katana as something super special.

But the myth of the super katana has been largely dispelled in the modern age and with the advent of things like game of thrones and the like, people don't see non-katana swords as super clunky any more. Even anime is starting to deviate from this idea (Fate/Stay and Sword Art Online).


Cyrad wrote:
Ronin Pi wrote:
I can dig the finesse thing. But at least they should be a slashing version of what they have as a bastard sword (which is its own issue but that is another place and time). It would at least allow for the image that is more constant to katana combat styles.

I totally agree.

I'd like to see something like:
1d6 slashing with the agile, finesse, and two-hand (1d8) traits

If just the Katana were being made finesse: I'd make it 1d8, two hand 1d12 and drop the agile. Fills the niche of there not being a d8 or d12 finesse weapon and keeps it level with the Bastard Sword damage-wise, but gaining finesse as it's uncommon. Agile is not seen on two-handed weapons, my assumption behind that is that Agile is for 'off-hand' weapons. Two-hand also always seems to be two die types, so if it were d6 the two-hand would be d10 (in the four examples of it currently, not exactly the best sample size I know)


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I think it would give more player freedom if they included alternate (uncommon) versions of the weapons in an additional column.

So Shortsword would list wakizashi as an uncommon variant with the same stats. Note uncommon weapons don't get bonus abilities they are just different.

Bastard Sword would list katana (or maybe o-katana)

Greatsword would list Nodachi

Then it comes down to what are the game mechanics necessary to simulate what the players want. So you want a naginata you can have one just use the glaive stats, you want a tetsubo sure use the greatclub stats. While I think this is pretty standard practice since this game is trying to be very explicet about rules I think it should be explicitly allowed.

But since Katnas are popular they probably need their own special entry I think d6 finesse two-handed 1d10 would work though that might make it an exotic weapon. I think they are being pretty careful not to allow a d8 weapon that can be used with precise striker lest rogues become over powered.


CommanderCoyler wrote:


I'd like to see something like:
1d6 slashing with the agile, finesse, and two-hand (1d8) traits

If just the Katana were being made finesse: I'd make it 1d8, two hand 1d12 and drop the agile. Fills the niche of there not being a d8 or d12 finesse weapon and keeps it level with the Bastard Sword damage-wise, but gaining finesse as it's uncommon.

It's uncommon for regional reasons, not because it's more powerful or there's a good reason to keep it away from you for balance reasons (like legally katanas are restricted). If your campaign is set in Minkai rather than the Inner Sea, the katana becomes common and the longsword uncommon. They're not going to give katana greater mechanical abilities as a result.


Xenocrat wrote:
CommanderCoyler wrote:
Cyrad wrote:

I'd like to see something like:

1d6 slashing with the agile, finesse, and two-hand (1d8) traits
If just the Katana were being made finesse: I'd make it 1d8, two hand 1d12 and drop the agile. Fills the niche of there not being a d8 or d12 finesse weapon and keeps it level with the Bastard Sword damage-wise, but gaining finesse as it's uncommon.
It's uncommon for regional reasons, not because it's more powerful or there's a good reason to keep it away from you for balance reasons (like legally katanas are restricted). If your campaign is set in Minkai rather than the Inner Sea, the katana becomes common and the longsword uncommon. They're not going to give katana greater mechanical abilities as a result.

Why have the seperate entry then?

Just do this instead:
Bardarok wrote:

I think it would give more player freedom if they included alternate (uncommon) versions of the weapons in an additional column.

So Shortsword would list wakizashi as an uncommon variant with the same stats. Note uncommon weapons don't get bonus abilities they are just different.
Bastard Sword would list katana (or maybe o-katana)
Greatsword would list Nodachi


Bardarok wrote:
I think they are being pretty careful not to allow a d8 weapon that can be used with precise striker lest rogues become over powered.

I think the feature you're looking for is Sneak Attack which, should for the record, be more powerful than a regular strike (as it is). If you're worried about that being overpowered compared to other classes' entries then the other classes should get better options to bring them up in line.

Finesse striker just brings them in line with str to damage with Finesse/Agile weapons (which, I might add are inherently weaker than non-finesse)


The thing is that these weapons aren't different at all when really compared to the other weapons on the list. The Katana should be, at best, a longsword, the Wakizashi a shortsword (with slashing instead of piercing), the tanto should be a dagger (with slashing instead of piercing), and the Odachi or Nagamaki would be a Falchion, and Zanbato could be a Greatsword.

Are these weapons different enough to warrant different abilities? Maybe. For instance if you HAD to make them different I wouldn't give any of the weapons mentioned above piercing damage at all. Because yes they are able to do it, fairly well even, but they aren't designed to do it. If it was me I might have them work this way.

Tanto 1d4 S (Agile, Finesse, Sweep)
Wakizashi 1d6 S (Agile, Finesse, Sweep)
Katana 1d8 S (Sweep)
Odachi/Nagamaki 1d10 S (Forceful, Sweep) 2/hand
Zanbato 1d12 S (Sweep) 2/hand

I even thought about maybe giving the Katana a 2/hand Agile trait to make it very different from the other weapons but I don't know if that would be broken. I mean it's damage wouldn't go up but it is a fairly small sword that is often used two handed but would that make it "easier" to use? Idk.


CommanderCoyler wrote:
Bardarok wrote:
I think they are being pretty careful not to allow a d8 weapon that can be used with precise striker lest rogues become over powered.

I think the feature you're looking for is Sneak Attack which, should for the record, be more powerful than a regular strike (as it is). If you're worried about that being overpowered compared to other classes' entries then the other classes should get better options to bring them up in line.

Finesse striker just brings them in line with str to damage with Finesse/Agile weapons (which, I might add are inherently weaker than non-finesse)

The way the rogue is designed currently it is forced to use sub-par weapons and then gets abilities to make it viable. If you gave it a good weapon plus the abilities it would be significantly more powerful. If you think rogues are underpowered and want to boost them that's fine but introducing a d8 one handed finesse weapon would significantly change the balance of classes making rogue and Dex in general more powerful. It's something that should only be done after a lot of thought not just because katanas are cool.

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I'd be concerned that a two-hand (1d12) would make it too powerful compared to the elven curve blade.

However, the elven curve blade feels really weak as it's a two-handed weapon that deals the same damage as a longsword.


Starfinder Charter Superscriber

No.


No to a finesse d8 one handed and a d12 finesse two hander.


Honestly, if I had to pick between Finesse and Agile, I'd rather have the Katana be Agile.

2 hands, 1d10 S, Agile seems pretty good to me.

Could even see it as 1 hand, 1d8 S, two hand 1d10, Agile.

Grand Lodge

I never liked the idea of cultural weapons having different statistics. If its mechanically different, fine, but with the generalisation of armor and weapons; a sword is a sword is a sword regardless of where its made.

Once you start defining the cultural versions of swords then you start ending up with a huge equipment list and that could seriously impact on party treasure as the katana specialized hero never gets a magical katana unless its made for him as the adventure only has "regular swords."

So instead I propose the following.

Apply the benefits of the katana (which in essence is nothing more than a trained fighting style) through cultural feats.

For example

Monk Feat: Kendo training (1)
Requires: Monastic Weaponry
You become trained in all swords and add the monk trait to them allowing you to treat them as monastic weapons.

General Feat: Bushido (1)
Requires: Expert in martial and simple swords
You add the finesse and agile traits to swords.

You can then add specific feats that focus on the attack styles you see portayed in movies, such as the draw strike.

Yes its a feat tax, but samurai are supposed to follow a training reigime far more focused than other cultures so it seems fitting that not everyone should be able to benefit from simply picking up a katana and using it like a pro in minutes.


Quijenoth wrote:

I never liked the idea of cultural weapons having different statistics. If its mechanically different, fine, but with the generalisation of armor and weapons; a sword is a sword is a sword regardless of where its made.

Once you start defining the cultural versions of swords then you start ending up with a huge equipment list and that could seriously impact on party treasure as the katana specialized hero never gets a magical katana unless its made for him as the adventure only has "regular swords."

So instead I propose the following.

Apply the benefits of the katana (which in essence is nothing more than a trained fighting style) through cultural feats.

For example

Monk Feat: Kendo training (1)
Requires: Monastic Weaponry
You become trained in all swords and add the monk trait to them allowing you to treat them as monastic weapons.

General Feat: Bushido (1)
Requires: Expert in martial and simple swords
You add the finesse and agile traits to swords.

You can then add specific feats that focus on the attack styles you see portayed in movies, such as the draw strike.

Yes its a feat tax, but samurai are supposed to follow a training reigime far more focused than other cultures so it seems fitting that not everyone should be able to benefit from simply picking up a katana and using it like a pro in minutes.

I actually really like this. This feels like... what a feat should be doing. And makes a general feat that I would actually take besides Fleet.


Long John wrote:
Quijenoth wrote:

I never liked the idea of cultural weapons having different statistics. If its mechanically different, fine, but with the generalisation of armor and weapons; a sword is a sword is a sword regardless of where its made.

Once you start defining the cultural versions of swords then you start ending up with a huge equipment list and that could seriously impact on party treasure as the katana specialized hero never gets a magical katana unless its made for him as the adventure only has "regular swords."

So instead I propose the following.

Apply the benefits of the katana (which in essence is nothing more than a trained fighting style) through cultural feats.

For example

Monk Feat: Kendo training (1)
Requires: Monastic Weaponry
You become trained in all swords and add the monk trait to them allowing you to treat them as monastic weapons.

General Feat: Bushido (1)
Requires: Expert in martial and simple swords
You add the finesse and agile traits to swords.

You can then add specific feats that focus on the attack styles you see portayed in movies, such as the draw strike.

Yes its a feat tax, but samurai are supposed to follow a training reigime far more focused than other cultures so it seems fitting that not everyone should be able to benefit from simply picking up a katana and using it like a pro in minutes.

I actually really like this. This feels like... what a feat should be doing. And makes a general feat that I would actually take besides Fleet.

i can guarantee you that there would have been tons of threads about "feat taxes on weapons"


shroudb wrote:
i can guarantee you that there would have been tons of threads about "feat taxes on weapons"

Possibly; haters will hate. But these are feats that a) do something that opens a door for characterisation, b) provide a mechanical benefit. Bushido might be seen as "every swordsman will take this" but that's largely because so many current feats are dispiritingly lacklustre.


d8 finesse, agile, two-hand d12??? That is well beyond the power scale of the other weapons.

Here is my more balanced suggestion.

Katana: 1d6(S), finesse, two-hand d8, backswing*

Backswing is questionable. Comared to the Elven curve blade we have the ability to be wielded one-handed and backswing vs forceful. Reasonable IMO.

While we're at it, lets fix the Bastard Sword and roll it in with the Longsword.

d8(s) versatile(p) two-hand d10

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