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We were planning on running a 3.5 campaign with an oriental-themed party: Samurai, Ninja, Shugenja, Wu Jen etc. There are all sorts of story reasons in place to make sense of this: a quasi-oriental dwarven empire (with a gnome underclass) for the characters to come from, giving them variously reasons for loyalty to a cause, reasons to resent NPCs or each other, etc.

But since making this plan, we've started playing some Pathfinder and so far we like it. It cleans up some of the cruft and gives each class more customisation options, especially with the Advanced book out now. So when planning a major new campaign that's likely to last a whole year in real time, that's probably the system we'd choose.

Can you suggest class features, traits etc to produce characters matching oriental archetypes? I don't necessarily mean duplicating the 3.5 Ninja class so much as the idea of a ninja in popular fiction (and yes, anime, but avoiding the obvious) - as well as archetypes that haven't specifically been named in D&D before.


Update: A lot of oriental-themed material has been published for Pathfinder since I asked this question, both by Paizo and by third parties, making it much easier to build oriental-themed characters, parties and campaigns. Since the problem no longer exists, I think this question should be closed.

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Closed? Or should someone write a good answer and have it accepted? Closing is for bad questions, accepting is for now-answered questions. –  mxyzplk Sep 8 '11 at 0:40
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6 Answers 6

Revivifying an old question, because there are more relevant bits of information now.

Ultimate Combat

Has a Samurai and a Ninja. The link above is to the playtest, but the book is due out in a couple of months.

Additionally:

Inner Sea World Guide

Has rules for creating different Ethnicities of Humans, one of which is the Tian, who have several sub-sets within that, and are essentially the Golarian equivalent of the Far East.

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Yeah, there's a lot more material now for designing oriental (or any other) theme characters than there was when I asked the question. –  Marcus Downing Jul 1 '11 at 7:23
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Paizo has come to the rescue...

The currently in progress Jade Regent Adventure Path is having characters travel to the Far East (Tian) regions of Golarion. Its free Player's Guide has recommendations for any class to find a role there, and each installment has extra Oriental type goodness in the articles.

Also, Ultimate Combat published both a Ninja and a Samurai alternate class. It also adds a bunch of monk abilities and generally martial-arty things.

Ultimate Magic adds a "five elements" elemental school structure in the Wizard section, adding metal and wood schools. It also adds a qinggong monk archetype that's more ki-powered than the average. Weirdly, they add a lot of the new qinggong powers also as wizard/sorcerer spells.

Rite Publishing published the Kaidan adventures, which have smatterings of Asian stuff - the second installment, Dim Spirit, has a Yojimbo ranger archetype.

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Well, Pathfinder has a monk class, which has been tweaked a little from D&D3; I'm not familiar with the older version, but I'm playing a monk now, and it's pretty good.

If you have access to the Advanced Player's Guide, and it looks like you do, I'd take a good look through the variant classes in there to see what fits.

The best piece of advice I can give is that it is much more difficult to build new classes than it is to simply "re-skin" an existing one. The difference between a fighter and a samurai is not really one of game mechanics, after all.

For example, the Spy from the APG is a pretty good match for the historical ninja, and the Weapon Adept monk variant works quite well for a more stylised type.

So yes, I would find an existing class that fits your idea of a ninja, shugenja, etc and just change the name to fit. This is probably quite different, philosophically, to what you were after, but trust me, it works.

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That's exactly what I was thinking: find a set of base classes, variants, traits and flavourful items that approximate to each archetype. –  Marcus Downing Aug 29 '10 at 10:27
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I'd suggest you go back and read the introduction chapter of the Pathfinder's Player's guide. It states that it was designed to be 100% compatible with 3.5 stuff. I'd take the 3.5 mechanics you like, and figure out how they fit in with Pathfinder, and do whatever conversion/tweaking makes sense.

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I think kaidan might be what you want but they do not seam to have released the source book yet.

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Kaidan is still developing its source book, however the adventures and supplements contain many new oriental class builds for Pathfinder RPG. Coming soon are faction books that will focus on specific classes for Yakuza, Samurai caste, and Shinobi with multiple classes that fit each organization. We also have several racial supplements that provide new class archetypes and racial paragon classes for Kappa, Tengu and Henge.

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