Description: A samurai is an honorable warrior, much like a Knight. Samurai are usually foot soldiers and were (in real life) Japanese rather than European. Also, samurai have a substantially different code of honor. A samurai's honor is more about serving his lord, and a knight's honor is more about helping people.
Samurai are typically at a medieval level of technology and wield bo sticks, daikyu (great bows), katanas (swords), naginatas (polearms with sword-like blades), nunchucks, sais (daggers), shurikens (throwing stars), tetsubos (iron-shod staffs), and wakizashis (short swords). Often, a samurai will wield a katana and a wakizashi together, one in each hand. Nunchucks and sais are typically wielded 2 at a time, one in each hand.
The samurai code of honor in Japan was called bushido. The feudal lords who employed samurai were called daimyo.
Combat Technique: Single combat is preferred. Samurai usually prefer to wield a katana and a wakizashi together as they are symbols of honor.
Preferred Skills: Sword skills, etiquette, and reading/writing.
Benefit: A samurai is something like a feudal lord's vassal. As such, they may have some limited ability to command obedience within their area.
Since a samurai is an agent of a lord, he is a relatively high-caste individual. A samurai can kill a peasant to test the sharpness of a sword blade or simply on a whim. This behavior isn't very widespread though as samurai behave in a regimented fashion.
Disadvantage: Samurai always have lords who command them. If a samurai's lord is slain or the samurai is somehow expelled from his lord's service, the samurai becomes a "ronin" (essentially a samurai, but without a master and without honor). Ronin will be stripped of any holdings granted to them by their previous lords and are left to wander until they can take service with another lord.
Samurai must follow a strict code of honor. The samurai's code of honor is as follows:
Disobeying this code causes the samurai to be expelled, causing him to become a ronin. Ronin are not a separate character type. Ronin are merely samurai without lords. If they have violated their code of honor, they may have difficulty finding a new lord to swear allegiance to.
Also, the Tokugawa Shogunate created a set of rules for governing samurai houses:
Note: Those rules are from page 120 of "The Lone Samurai and the Martial Arts" by Steven Turnbull (published by London: Arms and Armour Press, 1990). One or more of the Tukugawa Shogunate's rules may also be used in roleplaying games.
Real World Examples:
Appropriate For: Allies, npcs, or players. Samurai could also be villains, but only if they serve an evil lord or are dishonored ronin.
Copyright (C) 2006-2007 Steven Fletcher. All rights reserved.