PHB Classes within Rokugan
Some of these classes will be denoted as Gaijin only
; this is the default point of view of the [RCS] and from my personal take on what that means. Options for refluffing will be talked about in a later section. However, those mentioned as Gaijin only would still be available to use as characters, but this may force them into being of a particular race, or group of people, such as the Yobanjin or Yodotai, or Bloodspeakers. There'll be a brief comment regarding such usage of those character classes, but, notwithstanding the above, they aren't really suitable for characters raised as part of the Rokugan families. One exception I'd like to point out; a Wizard. It is explicitly called upon in [RCS] that Wizard casting doesn't happen flat out in Rokugan. This is why it's noted as Extraplanar only. There is possibility with one of the Gaijin humans, the Senpet, but if you really want to play an Egyptian, why on earth are you Rokugan?
*In regards to the Senpet's Necromancy comment ("The closest equivalent [to conventional wizardry] would be the necromancy practised by the Senpet, far across the Burning Sands."), this could be taken one of two ways - either;
- Barbarian; This class receives a slight benefit from Rokugan, honestly. There are two families within Rokugan who makes use of "Barbarians" (but seriously, on threat of Character death, do not call them that within earshot of either themselves or allies. Joking aside, it would be considered gravely offensive, and even to a neutral observer, someone hearing you call them a "Barbarian" could result in shame for you, your family, or your Daimyo. Unless, of course, you're deliberately attempting to insult them. In which case, feel free! More on this later within the "Cultural" section of the handbook), or as the families call them "Berserkers" (again, I refer you to our good friend Miko). The Matsu (Lion) family and Crab Clan are renowned for their "Berserkers", while the Shinjo family (Unicorn) and the Hida (Crab) family receive the nice little benefit of being literate. Other families, as mentioned, still need to purchase literacy, however.
- Bard; Bard's aren't from Rokugan. Their role is fulfilled by the Artisan (a Crane Clan only PrC). Remember our friend Miko, here. However, there are no native "Bards". The roles of things typical to Bards are fulfilled in other manners. There are no mechanical considerations, however. Gaijin only.
- Clerics; Clerics aren't native to Rokugan either. Unlike some settings, who have a large religious overtone, and make following the church and pantheon a major theme, Rokugan has a tolerance for other religions (in the sense that it's assumed other people treat them with the same respect they're given in the first place. The Pelor equivalent of Jehovah's Witnesses wouldn't be welcome, for example), but while their role is fulfilled by Shugenja, the people of Rokugan have an intolerance of outsiders (not Outsiders, as in the type); these are known as Gaijin; and this would make it hard for a Cleric visitor. On top of that, it is suggested that the DM greatly reduces the number of spells/day you are able to cast, or EVEN NEGATED ALL TOGETHER. This is a big one, as the base PHB Cleric has one of the worst chassis in the game once it loses its spellcasting. A player wanting to use one would have to work carefully with the DM to ensure that they'd be viable within a party. There is no mention, however, of those who follow an "Ideal". Gaijin only.
- Druid; Druids are not native to Rokugan, with the exception of Yobanjin; a group of Rokugan natives who left following the fall of the Kami, 1200 years prior to the current timeframe. However, due to nature of where they draw their power from (the land, rather than deities who are not present in Rokugan's "cosmology"), they do not suffer the same penalties that druids do, but are still considered to not be native. Other than the Yobanjin, the Naga are noted as having particular intense connections to nature, and so find druid's to be conceivable options; their foci in particular being pearls. Gaijin only.
- Fighter; Fighters are evergreen. They'll be available anywhere. If you're average guard is a trained commoner, or even warrior, then the fighter is your "exceptional". So goes the fluff, anyway. That out of the way with, and optimizing aside, the fighter is meant to be your self-taught, mid-stage. Where the Samurai is the elite-caste member of Rokugan society, capable of rubbing shoulders with Daimyo, and even possibly the Emperor's servants in the big cities, the Fighter is a samurai of the minor clans, or an ashigaru (conscripted foot-soldiers, although Fighter class might be reserved for particularly capable ones) or budoka (Peasants who are attempting to learn the code of Bushido, although forbidden from using Samurai weaponry). The big thing to remember about the fighter is that you're somewhat limited to what you may use, and what you have access to is limited by your social standing, and if you're not of the correct social rank, can lead to big problems. For example, wearing the daisho. For mechanical considerations, there are none; it is explicitly noted that the Shinjo (Unicorn) family rely on flexibility in combat, so often multiclass, while the Tsuruchi (Mantis) family, also known as the Wasp, are technically all fighters; despite being members of the Samurai Caste, they do not have levels within the character class of that name.
- Monk; It's a middle east campaign setting. If the basic westernized PHB idea of a monk is the "eastern" style kung-fu monk, and not the tonsured
anthropomorphic badger money grabber/religious nutjob who thought the world was flat of european history, then it's obviously going to be present in this setting, of all settings. It is noted, however, that there are several varieties; including the Inkyo. [OA] contains some useful notes regarding the Monk; new weapon proficiencies (although they still aren't proficient in their fists! Must still be used to using the daisho - Ed), the ability to select any feat they have the prerequisites for from a much larger list (Table 6-1, [OA]79) in place of their normal bonus feats, and, extremely helpfully, the ability to multiclass freely (although still suffer multiclassing penalties, it is worth noting; if anyone actually pays attention to that bunch of rubbish - no, I'm not a fan of them, could you tell?).
- Paladin; And we come to the paladin, or our friend Miko. This is the typecast one of one the many things "bad" about 3.5, with its "enforced alignments" and then [OA]'s complete banning of the class. In our eponymous poster, it is clear that they agree too. But in this crazy world of RAW we live in, the Paladin is a none entity in Rokugan, not being native to the land, instead relegated to the Senpet (think Ancient Egypt) or the Yodotai (former Rokugani peoples). In Rokugan, their use of magic and strange healing would be "looked upon with suspicion", because Shugenja are completely unable to do that at all. Ah well, who are we to question why (but do or die, quite literally might actually apply here)?.. Gaijin only.
- Ranger; The ranger is one of those classes reasonably expected within the Rokugan setting; used as scouts by the Hiruma (Crab) and Kitsune (Mantis) families, while the Greensnake Rangers of the Naga "are legendary". Tsuruchi (Mantis) Bounty Hunters are also noted as being explicitly based off of this class. However, both the Hiruma (Crab) and Tsuruchi (Mantis) are noted as having the ability to cast spells being out of character, and it is instead recommended that they replace this ability with a Fighter Bonus Feat each time he gains access to a new level of spells (so 4th, 8th, 11th, 14th if his Wisdom is high enough at those levels, if not, 6th, 10th, 12th, 15th). This is almost the same as the Champion of the Wild [CChamp] (different bonus feat list), while another alternative option is the variant Ranger without Spellcasting [CWar] (Fast Movement, 1/day untyped bonus to ability scores for 1 minute/level, 1/day SLA (choose at use, either Neutralize Poison, or Remove Disease), and 1/day Freedom of Movement). Fox Clan; that's the Kitsune (Mantis) family to me and you, or Naga, however, are free to choose the normal spellcasting ranger due to their intimate connection that they have with nature. While not mentioning anything, it suggests that Gaijin are able to maintain an ability to cast spells as well in the same manner that Druids are; and indeed that Gaijin can choose spellcasting rangers.
- Rogue; Of course the Rogue's in Rokugan. It's how they all get some skills. Not much more here to say, but it makes special notation of the Scorpion Clan and the Tortoise (Minor) Clan are noted for their "stealth and guile". The only mechanical consideration is that crossbows in Rokugan are not proficient with the crossbow; instead gaining proficiency with a yumi (a longbow to you and I), and a daikyu (a big bow intended to be used from horseback). [OA] has some suggestions about increasing the Rogue's weapon proficiencies to include a wide variety of typically monk only weaponry - however it also includes the crossbows previously noted in [RCS] as being barred for use by Rokugani. Seeing as such weapons are fairly typical Ninja weapons, it is possibly best left to actually use the Ninja base class.
- Sorcerer; And so we get to the Sorcerer. Like much magic, it is rare, but it is not unheard of. Those who show an aptitute for it in Rokugani culture however, are quickly put into "shugenja school", for want of a better word. However, there's nothing to stop Yobanjin (explicitly called out as being powerful sorcerer's; possibly something to do with not being part of Rokugan any more, and not being taught how to summon the aid of the Kami like the Shugenja are able to, or some other such bull), the Nezumi (basically anthropomorphic rats) or Naga from being sorcerer's. In such circles, Sorcerers are noted as occupying positions of high status; perhaps as a Magocracy, I think Tippy would be happy with this turn of events. In Rokugan however, Sorcery = Bad juju, and the Bloodspeakers (as said before, the Sith to the Samurai Jedi's) are the primary practitioners of sorcery, as in, arcane magic. Gaijin only
- Wizard; Nope. Nope. Nope. Not even then. It explicitly calls out that with the exception of the Senpet (Egyptians)*, nothing remotely resembles typical wizard mumbo-jumbo in Rokugan. That includes things like hedge wizards, or whatever rubbish was come up with justify Wu Jen in [OA], there is nothing there, and nothing to teach. This is purely and simply an EXTRAPLANAR only class; as in, it has to come from outside. If you are creating a character that was born and bred in the Rokugan campaign setting, and not some wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey campaign which will eventually end up on Rokugan, then you do not have a wizard, permanent. Let's make this extremely simple. NOPE. NOPE. NOPE. NOPNOPNOPNOPNOPNOOOOOOOOOPE. No. No. No, no, and No. If it casts from a spellbook, nope. Arcane magic just does not happen like that in Rokugan. At all, ever, never ever nope. Sorry to drive this (nope) in, but it has to be said. Nope. EXTRAPLANAR ONLY. Nope.
A) Senpet's practise Necromancy using spellbooks
b) The nearest thing to conventional wizardry is necromancy.
This could be taken one of two ways, and due to the nature of the setting, I think that it's the latter. However, it is down to your DM. In defence of the former, it's insinuating on Wizard's practised Necromancy, and yet Sorcerer's can do the same (especially Bloodspeakers, such as those of the former Snake Clan (also known as the Chuda family). However, that train of thought also applies in reverse; why would Senpet "wizards" limit themselves to necromancy? Researching on the wiki regarding Senpet necromancy has led me to come up with the recommendation to use Sha'ir (if you have the Dragon Compendium); the combination the Arcane/Divine is uncanny, as is the name similarities. There is no mention of spellcasting from tomes or similar, however; instead, recalling it from their minds; which is in effect Spontaneous Magic - if Necromancy is what it's all about, then a Dread Necromancer [HoH], possibly one with Primitive Spellcaster [Frostburn] would apply adequately.
So, there's a "brief" overview of the PHB classes. As you can see, Arcane Magic is not really a thing Rokugani's practise; Bard's don't exist as they do in other campaign settings, their "role" being fulfilled by other means, while Sorcerer's and likewise, spontaneous casters fulfill NPC roles within Rokugan, at least in the eyes of the designers, while Wizard, and spellbook casting? Nope. Nope. Nope and nope again. I'm going to get bored of writing it one day, but nope. If you're ever in doubt, if it's Arcane, nope. If it's Divine, possibly - god given, nope. From nature/kami etc? Yep. This is straying into territory from another section, which I'll come to in a bit, so without further ado, let's be moving on.
So, lets have a look at the remaining classes;PHB2
Expanded Psionics Handbook
- Beguiler; This is a stealthy, partly martial spontaneous arcane caster with a prediliction for Illusion and Enchantment, all typically associated with "not Rokugan". Suggested to follow the Sorcerer's path. Alternatively, some particularly powerful Ninjalord. Probably not of the clans, though. Gaijin only.
- Duskblade; This is a more martial bent of caster, but arcane, something that's honestly not part of Rokugani culture, as above. Perhaps as some form of Bloodspeaker variant. Gaijin only.
- Dragon Disciple; Dragon's like in typical D&D and even those presented in Oriental Adventure's do not exist. Dragons are Kami, or Spirits, representing idea's, rather than elements. The mechanics do not fit in with the setting either, as the typical chromatic dragons do not appear. For that matter, I'm declaring this one like the wizard, verboten, although other DM's may change their opinion on it, especially with regards to the gaijin (there is not enough information either way, however). Extraplanar only.
- Knight; Now, Rokugani Samurai don't really use shields, but they kind of suck anyway. Provided you didn't use a shield, you could probably get away with this similar to a fighter or a samurai based character as a member of one of the clans. However, for a Gaijin character, such as one of the Yodotai (think Romans), a Shield based character would work.
- Psion; Psionics. This is extremely tricky, because there's no mention whatsoever regarding Psionics within the Rokugan setting, at all, ever. This is different from the wizard, in which they're explicitly called out as not existing (nope), but in the sense that Psionics just are completely ignored. I love psionics, me. I think it's fantastic, and hate the idea of not being able to play it. Personally, I'd let it in. There's a lot about Psionics which thematically makes sense enough to include it - such as Void points (something we will come on to later). For a DM wanting to include Psionics as a native thing, remember that many people consider the Psion to be what the Sorcerer should have been; as such, you can either use it as out of the box as a Gaijin only class, or modify it to take away the powers with significant arcane flavour/mirror arcane spells similar to what a wizard may cast. Also bear in mind that a Psion has faster access to 9th level effects than the Shugenja (even the [CDiv] version, their ECL16 access is metamagic only) or the Sorcerer. Also, Psicrystals are not noted. However, all that said and noted, by the [RCS] setting, it's not part of the families, and nothing is noted as being from outside. Extraplanar only.
- Psychic Warrior; See above. More fitting for the lower power setting, however, and could easily represent a particular kind of Monk if native. However, going by the default stance once more. Extraplanar only.
- Wilder; See above. If a DM wanted to include some Psionics, then the uncontrolled nature of the Wilder wouldn't really fit in with the structured life of the Samurai caste. However, for none native Rokugani, it can make a reasonable alternative to a Sorcerer. Alternatively, it could be some form of corruption by Fu Leng, or some kind of Shadowlands Taint, causing some spontaneous Psionic powers, as opposed to Spellcasting - perhaps some particularly deranged Bloodspeaker say, or Maho-Tsukai. Once again, however, going by the default. Extraplanar only.
Magic of Incarnum
- [CAdv] Ninja; erm, of course. However, this is different from the one presented within [RCS]. Variety is the spice of life, and provides variant options for DM's and players alike reprensenting different "schools", say. Check with your DM which version (if any) he'll allow you to use them. There is already an extremely detailed handbook on the two here, by SleepyShadow which I recommend reading through prior. Rokugan's fairly "low magic" setting means I can only really recommend the latter for a Ninja based around the Scorpion Clan's original model, while those "maho" (remember that "bad magic thing? That) using Ninja could be represented by the Complete Adventurer Ninja. For that matter, this Ninja is hence rated as Gaijin only. Although, who's to say that's not a Scorpion rumour?
- Scout; Remember how the comments about the ranger were about how they didn't use spells, etc, etc? And that they were instead scouts? Let me introduce to you... duh, duh, duhhhhh, the Scout. It's that simple, where a spell-less ranger works, compare with the Scout. And probably choose the scout, but that's my personal preference talking - although Swift Ambusher/Hunter feats make it extremely palatable multiclasser.
- Spellthief; Did you not get the memo on the sneaky magic users not being from Rokugan clans? Beguiler, CA's Ninja, and now this? Are you surprised when I'm recommending this to be Gaijin only?
- Warlock; Arcane = nononono. Bloodspeaker possibilities, etc, but not Rokugan family. Gaijin only.
- Warmage; Arcane. Spontaneous, Full Caster. See Sorcerer. Gaijin only.
- Wu Jen; Seriously? You had to check? After the effort gone into explaining why not for Wizard, you think some weeaboo eastern style sounding name will change my opinion on a prepared arcane spellbook caster? In case you've not read the wizard entry (in which case, I forgive you); nope.
- Favoured Soul; or Favored, for our 'murican friends. The godly connection could cause this one to go the same way as the cleric. Have a word with the DM, and see what he says about losing your hotline to god, and how it affects your spells to determine if it's even worth playing. However, the wings could also be a bit of a no-no. I'm gonna go out on a limb, and mark it down same as a cleric. Gaijin only.
- [CDiv] Shugenja; What the frog do you think? Although there's no handy comparison like with the ninja, the Shugenja in Complete Divine however has one major difference; the introduction of Orders; thing "shugenja schools". These a thematically cool addition, but restrict a Shugenja's number of spells known. However they do get a reasonably large number anyway; there's no difference in numbers of spells known, just that they have a forced choice for one of those spells. The other thing is that Complete Divine opens up an increased spell-list, but you're playing 3.5, you should open up the spell-list any way. If you're worried about being a full caster in a party of melee only, don't sweat it. Just remember that despite getting 9th level spells at ECL16, you don't actually know any such spells until ECL18; so welcome to metamagic. Long story short, use whichever one your DM prefers, applying the Orders to the particular schools (Dojo's) of each Clan as a suggestion.
- Spirit Shaman; R.E Druid. Honestly, this screams more Rokugan Druid to me than Druid does, although with exceptions to the supernatural creatures, such as Naga. The same spell-list, but with a more restricted casting system and dual stat casting and need for stats other than Wisdom makes it more preferable than the SAD Druid. It is less game breaking than a Druid, its spell list is commonly considered Tier 2, and with all of its additional limits, would make for a more balanced caster flavour.
- Ardent; See above for Psionics. An Ardent is essentially a Cleric of an Ideal, but a Psionic version. Like the Psychic Warrior, this could represent a monk. However, its slightly screwy power learning means that it can still multiclass away, and get 9th level spells at ECL17. A DM might want to limit that in such a low setting, as this class is among the most breakable due to its easy access to 4th level powers (which quickly begin to break the game in my eyes). And yes, if you have noticed, I'm talking more mechanically here than one based on fluff; thats because I've already said Psionics appearance as being native to Rokugan, Gaijin only, or Extraplanar only, is DM's fiat. I love the idea behind the Ardent personally, and as ever with Psionics, would love to see it used more often, so encourage DM's to use it, especially if you've not used it before to give a sense of "newness" to a setting. However, back to the [RCS] default.Extraplanar only.
- Divine Mind; This drags me in two directions, but mostly it's because of how the class is portrayed. It requires a connection to the Divine to function out of the box, but on the other hand, it's Psionics, which is, as we've seen, a Rokugan blind spot. Not to mention the class is supremely underpowered, but if you're going so far to include Psionics, why not change the Divine connection from gods to spirits? However, as it stands, it's not in Rokugan base setting. Extraplanar only.
- Lurk; See as per usual the Psionics links. This may well be useable as a Ninja variant. I don't have much to say on it, other than that it's not particularly brilliant. However, as ever, it'll probably make a good Shadowlands Ninja out of the box if Psionics are being used. Extraplanar only.
- Erudite; This is technically introduced as a variant Psion class being effectively more wizard-like than the sorcerer-esque (is that a word? It is now) Psion; it's Unique Power's Per Day representing the wizard's prepared spellcasting, and its ability to learn powers from all the disciplines meaning it has a lot more flexibility. Essentially, it's a more scholarly Psion, and, like the Psion, if you were to use it, I'd recommend de-arcanifying the power lists to ensure it fits with the setting - which, obviously means none of those Spell-to-Power Erudite's you see floating around the CharOp. Unless of course, you do a bit more homebrew, and make it to be Shugenja spells - but then again, why are you not playing Shugenja then? Anyway - it's a moot point. Rokugan's baseline is that Psionics aren't involved. Extraplanar only.
- Hexblade; the Arcane anti-paladin base class. Arcane is kinda frowned upon, but it is spontaneous. Could happily represent one of the Gaijin culture's or possibly a corrupted Maho-Bujin who pick up some spellcasting from their Maho-Tsukai allies. Gaijin only.
- [CWar] Samurai; Have a guess. Of course this will be allowed. Be warned though - it absolutely sucks donkey balls - and that's compared to the bare bones [RCS] or [OA] Samurai (minor difference between the two, one uses experience, the other, treasure, to advance their swords), while sharing only minor similarities to the Samurai of the setting. It's not recommended to be used, but purely mechanically, although still technically could use it for a niche Intimidator build. As much as I hate to say it, go ahead.
- Swashbuckler; This definitely fits the general ideal of a Mantis clan Bushi - although bear in mind some ACF's, like Arcane Stunt would likely be considered out of character for someone from such a clan. Combined with Rogue thanks to Daring Outlaw as well, it can fulfil a fairly good niche - alternatively as a Scorpion Style Samurai character. As ever, its mechanics let it down, and may be better being multiclassed out of to preserve the feeling of a Samurai, in such circumstances.
Tome of Magic
- Incarnate; Incarnum is a tricky subject. When I read Incarnum the first time, I initially thought that it would prove a fantastic chassis to work off the whole "void points system" from, but sadly the soulmelds didn't altogether fluff up to well. Of course, like Psionics, there's no mention of Incarnum anywhere, so it's entirely up to the individual DM. As the baseline stands for [RCS], the obvious answer is "no". Extraplanar only.
- Soulborn; See above. I have no idea why anyone would want to play this class in the first place. It's terrible, and not even Rokugan's condensing of the classes to allow a narrower range for the Tier system (the best caster in the Rokugani families is Shugenja, Tier 3 on a good day) can make it seem any better than it is. That said, it also follows standard Essentia procedure, and would need to be okayed by DM Fiat first. Extraplanar only.
- Totemist; The totemist, I feel, honestly makes a fantastic Tattooed Monk feel. Rather than shaping soulmelds which take physical shape on their skin, they invest their tattoos with
essentiavoid points, allowing them to prance around and do all sorts of fancy stuff. However, the standard Essentia line of [RCS] gets rolled out once more. Extraplanar only.
- Binder; Binder's are cool. Really, really cool. In fact, I love them, and their fluff in fantastically interchangeable. Vestige? Nay. These are Kami, and Kami all have their own individual quirks. However, as the baseline fluff stands, I can't really see the practitioner of binding to one's soul the aborted homeless beings that are rejected by every plane in existence to be particularly high on the guest list to a Rokugani Tea Ceremony. Extraplanar only.
- Shadowcaster; A very weird class that even CharOp doesn't really understand all that well. It is fairly weak, however, and almost certainly not part of the Great Clans. However, there's a place called the Shadowlands within Rokugan, which is where most typical Big Bad's come from. If you're going to introduce it somewhere, this is a perfect opportunity to, I feel. The base line however is, that Mysteries just aren't particularly well catered for in Rokugan. Extraplanar only.
- Truenamer; So, you want to put yourself through pain and agony and torment do you? Well a Truenamer might work for you. And of all the ironies, this is actually one of the classes which is supported in the fluff; albeit not as one of the Clans. The Lying Darkness (BBBEG - That's Big BBEG to you and me) avoided being named, and the Nezumi practise a form of "Name Magic", which is based on their own name to improve its power. So you have the loose background there for Truenamer to be in, annoyingly enough. Shugenja, Shaman, Ninja, and now Truenamer? It's as if Rokugan is based on the weakest classes possible! Good grief.