Samurai Guide

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Samurai Guide for Pathfinder

Text of Samurai Guide

  • The Way of the Samurai

  • For the purposes of this guide I will be using the standard color-coding:Red: Almost completely uselessOrange: Not terrible, but you can usually find something betterGreen: A solid choiceBlue: Simply outstanding

    Samurai vs. CavalierSince the Samurai is an alternate class for the Cavalier, its only natural to compare the two classes. While they obviously share quite a few features like challenges and orders, the two are still distinct enough that has their own unique playstyle. Because Samurai is an alternate class for the Cavalier, in many cases there will be a direct comparison to what the standard Cavalier can do. For some character concepts, I feel that while the Samurai is still quite objectively capable of filling the role the Cavalier is simply a superior way of realizing those types of characters.

    So, lets discuss the two biggest differences between the two.

    Tactician vs. ResolveThe Cavalier gets the Tactician ability, which grants bonus Teamwork feats along with the ability to give your allies the benefit of those feats. Tactician can be a very powerful ability if you set it up right, but as the name implies, teamwork feats require that you work with other members of the party in a coordinated fashion. Thats not always easy to pull off.

    Resolve doesnt require working with your team; all the benefits of Resolve will benefit your Samurai only. Its an almost entirely defensive ability, allowing you to remove negative conditions, roll twice on saving throws, negate critical hits, and even take the sting out of save-or-dies.

    Mounted Combat vs. Weapon Specialization and Burst AbilitiesWhile the Samurai still gets a class mount and a one features geared toward mounted combat, they really dont benefit much by fighting from horseback. While the Samurai can still do mounted combat, the Cavalier just does it so much better. Cavaliers, by contrast, get a big bonus on handle animal, and can be absolutely devastating when they perform a mounted charge.

    For the Samurai, they get a mix of offensive and defensive boosts. Weapon Expertise unlocks access to fighter feats for a single weapon, and you gain the Honorable Stand and Last Stand abilities, which can seriously boost your characters endurance.

    Ability ScoresStrength: The samurai is ultimately a melee class, which means youll want strength.Dexterity: A tertiary stat as long as youre in heavy armor, but it is a requirement for two-weapon fighting.

  • Constitution: Everyone wants hit points and Fortitude saves.Intelligence: Generally not that important.Wisdom: Dont dump it (your will save needs all the help it can get) but its a tertiary stat.Charisma: Can be a dump stat, but quite a few orders will get very good use out of it, so many builds it is a secondary stat.

    RacesCore Races

    Dwarf: Not a bad choice overall. While theres no bonus to the Samurais primary stat, Constitution and Wisdom are both useful, and Charisma is a common dump stat for many builds. If youre planning to wear heavy armor anyway their speed is a non-issue and most of their racial bonuses can be useful for a martial character. The Favored Class bonus is also pretty nice; adding extra damage to the challenge makes a good ability even better.

    Elf: Constitution penalties are a bad thing on any frontline class, and the bonuses to dexterity and intelligence dont make up for it. Theyre not as terrible as finesse fighters/dual wielders with wakizashis, but if want to focus on that there are plenty of races that can get a bonus to dexterity without taking a hit to Constitution in the process. If you insist on playing an Elf, swap out Elven Magic for something a martial class could actually get some use out of (there are several decent options in the APG). Favored Class bonus adding extra HP to your mount is alright, but not great.

    Gnomes: Gnomes just dont have a lot going for them as a Samurai. The strength penalty and small size hurt their damage, and the rest of their racial abilities dont bring much to the table to offset that. Small size does make them good at mounted combat though. The favored class bonus also increases your mounts speed. All in all, Gnomes make better Cavaliers than Samurai.

    Half-Elves: The floating stat bonus and generally useful but not great racial bonuses make them a solid green. Multitalented makes them an ideal choice for any Samurai who plans on multiclassing. Id suggest swapping out Adaptability for Dual-Minded; any martial character is going to love a +2 on will saves. The Favored Class bonus adds to your mounts base speed, so its a bit underwhelming.

    Half-Orcs: Not shabby at all. The floating stat bonus is always good, and their bonus to intimidate can come in handy for some builds. Orc Ferocity overlaps with the Unstoppable Resolve ability, but there are several good options for a swap-out in the APG (I would personally recommend Sacred Tattoo or Toothy). The Favored Class Bonus can add to your mounts HP. Half-Orcs (and full Orcs) can also take the Beast Rider Racial Feat, which adds several new options for your mount that are a lot beefier than the horse, including the Pteranodon for flight.

  • Halflings: The Halfling really shines at ranged mounted combat, but thats at best a secondary role for the Samurai. Still, being small size makes staying mounted in close quarters much less of a problem, and while their lower strength and small size reduce their damage somewhat, its not enough to be a deal-breaker. The favored class bonus adds damage to their attacks of opportunity, which is nice but seems a bit weak compared to the Dwarfs bonus. Halflings also get access to the Order of the Paw, which is a decent choice but not all that great for a Samurai.

    Humans: As always, humans are a good choice. A floating stat bonus is terrific, and everyone likes extra skill points and a bonus feat. Since the Samurai is an alternate class for the Cavalier, you should also be able to use the human favored class option to boost your banner bonus. The Favored Class Bonus boosts up your banner, which is always nice.

    Featured Races in the Advanced Races Guide

    Aasimar: Bonuses to wisdom and charisma are reasonably useful, and not taking a hit any of your ability scores is nice. Skill bonuses to diplomacy and perception are great. The daylight spell-like ability can be quite handy in some situations, and you get five points of resistance to three different elements. Their Favored Class Bonus is a nice damage boost for your challenge, but for some reason its on a +1/4 levels progression compared to the +1/2 progression Dwarves get.

    Will add further examination of the Aasimar once Blood of Angels comes out.

    Catfolk: Dexterity and Charisma can both be useful stats for a Samurai, and getting a racial bonus on Perception and Survival takes some of the sting out of the Wisdom penalty. Their Favored Class bonus also adds to the banner bonus.

    Dhampir: Dexterity and Charisma are still useful, but taking a Constitution penalty is always gonna sting. Negative Energy Affinity could be a problem at early levels, so you might want to check with your party to make sure theyre aware of how it works and will keep some healing options for you. No unique Favored Class Bonus. Not much to recommend them for Samurai.

    Drow: Same stat bonuses penalties at the Dhampir, which will always sting for a frontliner. However, the Drow do get a pretty nice suite a racial abilities, and the racial feats can bump up your spell-like abilities. No unique Favored Class Bonus though.

    Fetchling: The Advanced Races Guide really likes races with bonuses to Dexterity and Charisma, doesnt it? Fetchlings do get some very nice racial bonuses for a melee type though, The Gloom Shimmer substitution is especially nice; a martial class loves getting Displacement as a Spell-like ability. No unique Favored Class Bonus though.

  • Goblin: Small size and a penalty to Strength hurts for a melee class. The big bonus to Dexterity and access to a bite attack via substitution options can make up for that a bit. Still, I cant help but think that Goblins make better Luring Cavaliers than Samurai. Their Favored Class bonus can be put into boosting their mounts HP.

    Hobgoblin: Bonuses to Dexterity and Constitution, with no penalty. Very nice. Their sneaky racial ability comes with some great substitutions, like a bonus to intimidate or to attack rolls against spellcasters. Their Favored Class Bonus also adds into Intimidate, making them very good for Intimidation-focused builds.

    Ifrit: Bonuses to dexterity and charisma can be reasonably useful, and the hit to wisdom isnt a deal-breaker. The spell-like ability and elemental resistance are nice to have too. Still, while theres no huge issues, theres also nothing to really make this race stand out above the other choices for a Samurai. They dont get a unique Favored Class bonus

    Kobold: Small size, -4 strength, and -2 Constitution. Do I even need to go on from here? Kobolds can be awesome, but not as frontline melle types. Their Favored Class bonus adds to their mounts charge and withdraw speeds.

    Orcs: +4 to strength is extremely nice for frontline melee, though the penalty to all of your mental stats hurts. Their Favored Class Bonus adds to their CMB for Bull Rush and Overrun maneuvers against challenged targets. Dovetails very nicely with the Order of the Seals free Bull Rush maneuvers against the target of your challenge.

    Oread: Very nice stat bonuses, and ideal if you pick order that doesnt benefit from Charisma. Their spell-like isnt terribly useful unless you plan on using a sling (or you can sub it out for another semi-useful ability. and the elemental resistance probably wont come into play all that often. They have no unique Favored Class Bonus.

    Ratfolk: Sm