Mythological Figures: Miyamoto Musashi (5E)
  • Mythological Figures: Miyamoto Musashi (5E)


    Mythological Figures focuses on Fifth Edition builds for persons too big for true history like Achilles and Sir Lancelot, but some individuals absolutely distinguished themselves to an equal status. Perhaps my favorite of these is arguably one of the most skilled people to have ever picked up a sword: Miyamoto Musashi!




    The accomplishments of Musashi are legendary and for good reason. This man wrote the Book of Five Rings, won scores of duels, invented the katana-and-wakizashi style of fighting (“niten'ichi sword style”, on the fly after undoing an ambush, killing the head of a prominent family trying to assassinate him, while fleeing from the surviving soldiers), routinely fought duels using a bokken (wooden sword) against opponents wielding blades (including a guy with a two-handed nodachi known as “The Demon of the Western Provinces”), and finally died like a badass:

    At the moment of his death, he had himself raised up. He had his belt tightened and his wakizashi put in it. He seated himself with one knee vertically raised, holding the sword with his left hand and a cane in his right hand. He died in this posture, at the age of sixty-two.

    There is no brief recap able to do Musashi justice and his extremely well-documented life is worth reading up on if you haven’t heard of him before. Consider including him in your next game and see how if the adventurers' mettle is a match for Japan’s most famous ronin!

    (Musashi will not be the only samurai in this series--tell us who else needs to get an article in the comments!)

    Miyamoto Musashi
    Medium humanoid (human), lawful neutral fighter (samurai) 18

    Armor Class
    16 (padded, defensive fighting style)
    Hit Points 135 (18d10+36)
    Speed 30 ft.

    STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
    16 (+3) 19 (+4) 14 (+2) 13 (+1) 9 (-1) 11 (+0)

    Saving Throws
    Str +9, Con +8, Wis +5
    Skills Acrobatics +10, Athletics +9, Insight +5, Intimidation +7
    Senses passive Perception 9
    Languages Common
    Challenge 10 (5,900 XP)

    Action Surge (2/short rest). Once on his turn, Musashi can take an additional action on top of his regular action and a possible bonus action.

    Feats: Maneuver Master (6d6 maneuver dice/short rest).
    Musashi can expend a maneuver dice to perform a single maneuver with an attack.

    • Counter. Musashi can use his reaction to make a melee attack against a creature that misses him with a melee attack, dealing 1d6 additional damage on a hit.
    • Disarm. A creature Musashi has hit with an attack takes 1d6 additional damage and makes a DC 18 Strength saving throw or drops one held item of his choice.
    • Feint. Musashi can use his bonus action to feint against one creature within 5 feet. He has advantage on his next attack roll against that creature as long as it before the end of his turn. On a hit he deals 1d6 additional damage.
    • Lunge. Musashi increases his reach by 5 feet for one attack, dealing 1d6 additional damage on a hit.
    • Sweep. Musashi chooses a creature adjacent to his target and within his reach and on a hit, the adjacent creature takes 1d6 damage (of the same type as the weapon attack).
    • Trip. Musashi deals 1d6 additional damage and if the target is a creaturesof Large size or smaller, it makes a DC 18 Strength saving throw or is knocked prone.

    Feat: Mobile. Musashi can Dash through difficult terrain without requiring additional movement. Whenever he makes an attack against a creature, he doesn’t provoke opportunity attacks from that creature until the end of his turn.

    Indomitable (3/long rest).
    Musashi can reroll a saving throw that he fails but must use the new roll.

    Second Wind (1/short rest).
    On his turn, Musashi can use a bonus action to regain 1d10+18 hit points.

    Warrior Spirit (3/long rest).
    Musashi can use a bonus action to gain 15 temporary hit points and advantage on weapon attack rolls until the end of his turn. When Musashi rolls for initiative and has no uses of this feature remaining, he regains one use.

    ACTIONS

    Multiattack. Musashi attacks three times.

    Rapid Strike (1/turn).
    When Musashi has advantage on a weapon attack during his turn, he may choose to roll normally and instead make an additional attack against that target.

    Katana.
    Melee Weapon Attack:
    +10 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d8+3) slashing damage if wielded in one hand or 8 (1d10+3) slashing damage if wielded in two hands.

    Longbow.
    Ranged Weapon Attack:
    +9 to hit, range 150/600 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d8+3) piercing damage.
    REACTIONS

    Feat: Master of the Sword.
    Musashi can use his reaction when wielding a sword to gain a +1 bonus to his AC until the start of his next turn or until he is disarmed. In addition, Musashi has advantage on opportunity attacks.

    Warrior Undying.
    Musashi can use his reaction to immediately take one action, bonus action, and move when he is reduced to 0 hit points and not killed outright. This interrupts the initiative order and Musashi is treated as though he were unconscious and dying (taking death saving throw failures when he takes damage during this extra turn). Musashi falls unconscious after taking his extra turn if he has not regained any hit points.
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    Comments 46 Comments
    1. Gary Huddleston's Avatar
      Gary Huddleston -
      Dr Masaaki Hatsumi would be great for your next article.
    1. Jeffrey Robbins's Avatar
      Jeffrey Robbins -
      How about some ladies next. Try Tomoe Gozen, La Maupin, Anne Bonny, or Jeanne d'Arc.
    1. Morrus's Avatar
      Morrus -
      Quote Originally Posted by Gary Huddleston View Post
      Dr Masaaki Hatsumi would be great for your next article.
      Mythological figures are the primary focus of the article; some major historical figures might be the secondary focus; but we're not going to do stats for living people.

      Quote Originally Posted by Jeffrey Robbins View Post
      How about some ladies next. Try Tomoe Gozen, La Maupin, Anne Bonny, or Jeanne d'Arc.
      I'm pretty sure Mike said Joan of Arc is next, though I'm not 100% sure.
    1. EthanSental's Avatar
      EthanSental -
      Enjoying the wrote ups. Quick question...he came up with the 2 weapon fighting style with the swords mentioned above but nothing stat wise shows this fighting style. Thanks!
    1. AriochQ's Avatar
      AriochQ -
      I would increase the AC bonus for Master of the Sword to at least +2 and possibly higher to bring it in line with other reactions that do the same thing (e.g. Gladiator has Parry that adds +3 as a reaction)
    1. Krachek's Avatar
      Krachek -
      if you read The Book of Five Rings you know that he has more than 9 in wisdom and 11 in charisma.
      This guy was a fine observator and got a strong dedication to victory and training.
      And probably it is by these two scores that he got famous.
      For a legendary character I would go for 18 wis and 18 charisma.
    1. Mike Myler's Avatar
      Mike Myler -
      Quote Originally Posted by Morrus View Post
      I'm pretty sure Mike said Joan of Arc is next, though I'm not 100% sure.
      I have a build for her that I like and think people will get use out of, just working on the extra text right now.

      Quote Originally Posted by EthanSental View Post
      Enjoying the wrote ups. Quick question...he came up with the 2 weapon fighting style with the swords mentioned above but nothing stat wise shows this fighting style. Thanks!
      Aye. He came up with it but he's not really known for that being his style. I just came across that during my research and (for the like dozenth time in my life) been like "Whoa, Musashi. Whoa." Had to mention it. If you want to make it a thing for him, you can swap out the Defensive fighting style (drop his AC by 1), add in bonus action attacks with a shortsword (include that damage add), and lower his katana down to 1d8.

      Quote Originally Posted by AriochQ View Post
      I would increase the AC bonus for Master of the Sword to at least +2 and possibly higher to bring it in line with other reactions that do the same thing (e.g. Gladiator has Parry that adds +3 as a reaction)
      You should let WotC know. Like every other thing you see on this sheet that doesn't have identical wording to the core rule ability (Indomitable, Second Wind, etc.), the language (which is not on the SRD and not part of the Open Gaming License) is different but modeled off of core content (in this case the Weapon Mastery feat for blades). The only exception right now is Achilles who used to have his special-not-core-rules bit above the text (but folks weren't reading it so it got added directly to the statblock with a CR upgrade).
    1. Dave Goff's Avatar
      Dave Goff -
      This is well done and well-balanced. I do agree that his wisdom and charisma should be higher, though I wouldn't go as high as 18/18 like Krachek was thinking.

      Cheers!
    1. Mike Myler's Avatar
      Mike Myler -
      Quote Originally Posted by Krachek View Post
      if you read The Book of Five Rings you know that he has more than 9 in wisdom and 11 in charisma.
      This guy was a fine observator and got a strong dedication to victory and training.
      And probably it is by these two scores that he got famous.
      For a legendary character I would go for 18 wis and 18 charisma.
      I haven't read the The Book of Five Rings (yet) but he was roughly 60 years old when it came out. I think all of his statistics would be different if you're talking about Grandpa Samurai (in which case you might drop Mobile and a Maneuver Master feat too--2 of the more physically intensive maneuvers--to grab up two Ability Score Increases for Wisdom/Charisma/Intelligence, maybe taking a down-trade swap out of Str/Dex/Con too).

      Quote Originally Posted by Dave Goff View Post
      This is well done and well-balanced. I do agree that his wisdom and charisma should be higher, though I wouldn't go as high as 18/18 like Krachek was thinking.

      Cheers!
      Thanks Dave! I try to do these as closely within the confines of the core rules as possible (which includes ability score generation). To use him as just an NPC I don't think anyone would throw their arms in the air to scream heresy if he got a few points in either of those. Far as I could tell he relied more on being smart and canny than anything else (and was definitely very brash, especially when first starting out) so I shouldered into that for his only solid mental stat.
    1. Dave Goff's Avatar
      Dave Goff -
      That's reasonable. I can definitely see the difference between older MM and younger. He was deifnitely brasher in his early years. The case for Wisdom comes from the tie to insight and perception, which it seems he would have been fairly good at, so I would probably go up by just 1 on each.

      To be honest, when the title of this thread came up on my feed I expected some totally blown-out, overpowered cartoon character, so I definitely appreciate the work put into it.
    1. Krachek's Avatar
      Krachek -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mike Myler View Post
      I haven't read the The Book of Five Rings (yet) but he was roughly 60 years old when it came out. I think all of his statistics would be different if you're talking about Grandpa Samurai (in which case you might drop Mobile and a Maneuver Master feat too--2 of the more physically intensive maneuvers--to grab up two Ability Score Increases for Wisdom/Charisma/Intelligence, maybe taking a down-trade swap out of Str/Dex/Con too).



      Thanks Dave! I try to do these as closely within the confines of the core rules as possible (which includes ability score generation). To use him as just an NPC I don't think anyone would throw their arms in the air to scream heresy if he got a few points in either of those. Far as I could tell he relied more on being smart and canny than anything else (and was definitely very brash, especially when first starting out) so I shouldered into that for his only solid mental stat.
      You should also read this.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musashi_(novel)

      It's a great book.
      There is a little story in there, about a Swordmaster that Musashi wanted to meet.
      This master cut a tulip with his saber, and send it to an annoying student as a gift and a test.
      The annoying student was ashamed by such a sissy present, and leave town.
      But some hazardous event make Musashi saw the cutted tulip too.
      He was fascinated by the cut and wonder how it was possible to make such a cut.
      Finally it is him who met the swordmaster.
      18 wisdom. At least.
    1. AriochQ's Avatar
      AriochQ -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mike Myler View Post
      You should let WotC know. Like every other thing you see on this sheet that doesn't have identical wording to the core rule ability (Indomitable, Second Wind, etc.), the language (which is not on the SRD and not part of the Open Gaming License) is different but modeled off of core content (in this case the Weapon Mastery feat for blades). The only exception right now is Achilles who used to have his special-not-core-rules bit above the text (but folks weren't reading it so it got added directly to the statblock with a CR upgrade).
      I was referring more to the fact that a +1 bonus seems low for the use of a reaction. Off the top of my head, I can't think of any other reaction that gives that low of a bonus. There may be one buried somewhere, but most reaction AC bonus' range in the +2 to +4 range.

      He is very 'offense' heavy but his 16 AC (17 with Master of the Sword) makes it likely he will get hit a lot more than seems appropriate for someone like Musashi. Bumping his reaction AC to +4 (21) increases his survivability throughout the fight. The Warrior Undying ability is nice, but only kicks in after he has been beaten. My image of Musashi is more akin him being hard to hit, rather than being hit fairly easily and just not going down.
    1. Mike Myler's Avatar
      Mike Myler -
      Quote Originally Posted by Krachek View Post
      You should also read this.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musashi_(novel)

      It's a great book.
      There is a little story in there, about a Swordmaster that Musashi wanted to meet.
      This master cut a tulip with his saber, and send it to an annoying student as a gift and a test.
      The annoying student was ashamed by such a sissy present, and leave town.
      But some hazardous event make Musashi saw the cutted tulip too.
      He was fascinated by the cut and wonder how it was possible to make such a cut.
      Finally it is him who met the swordmaster.
      18 wisdom. At least.
      I've heard it's a great book and I've definitely seen movies based on it, but you're referring to a work of historical fiction (made during a period of government-sponsored mythologization of samurai). If you don't feel the need to be constrained by the rules though, give him a Wisdom of 18.
      In the interests of reading suggestions, I strongly recommend checking out Musui's Story (which gives a really eye-opening account of historical Japan and is genuinely entertaining throughout).

      Quote Originally Posted by AriochQ View Post
      I was referring more to the fact that a +1 bonus seems low for the use of a reaction. Off the top of my head, I can't think of any other reaction that gives that low of a bonus. There may be one buried somewhere, but most reaction AC bonus' range in the +2 to +4 range.

      He is very 'offense' heavy but his 16 AC (17 with Master of the Sword) makes it likely he will get hit a lot more than seems appropriate for someone like Musashi. Bumping his reaction AC to +4 (21) increases his survivability throughout the fight. The Warrior Undying ability is nice, but only kicks in after he has been beaten. My image of Musashi is more akin him being hard to hit, rather than being hit fairly easily and just not going down.
      I don't disagree with you and if this were built as a standard NPC (rather than a class level NPC) I'd definitely just use the Gladiator feature. As it stands though you can sit down for a high-level one shot and use the statblock as written (my underlying goal for all of these builds) using the rules provided by WotC. You can definitely still increase his AC within the confines of the rules with a feat swap (it seemed more important to give him Blade Mastery, but you could swap it out for *Defensive Duelist +3 AC reactions with an attack bonus that's 1 lower and no advantage on opportunity attacks).

      I'm not totally nuts about the WotC samurai either (I've got a samurai paladin archetype in one of my settings that's wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy cooler) but I'm supposed to stick to core. In the design I think their plan is for a samurai to use up Warrior Spirit (or rather "Fighting Spirit") until they go down with Warrior Undying, then burn Second Wind to stay conscious. Remember that hit points aren't all necessarily blood and guts, and (at least in part) are an abstraction. I'm sure sometimes people managed to nick him, and also reasonably sure that he did everything in his power to convince opponents that even getting near him was suicidal (all about them mind games).

      * Edit: Forgot that in the core rules that katanas don't get finesse when wielded with one hand (which I'm used to for other reasons).
    1. LabyrinthLord718's Avatar
      LabyrinthLord718 -
      Musashi didn't use a katana, he used a boto (sometimes referred to as a bokken).
    1. Mike Myler's Avatar
      Mike Myler -
      Quote Originally Posted by LabyrinthLord718 View Post
      Musashi didn't use a katana, he used a boto (sometimes referred to as a bokken).
      I mention that in the opening text of the article but you're right--it's what he was most famous for and ought to be in the statblock (added).
    1. Ed Laprade's Avatar
      Ed Laprade -
      Just looking at the stats given proves that you can't make the real Musashi with 5E rules. He was know for being very strong, certainly more than 16 STR, and quite wise. Very well read and cultured. At least, when he could be bothered, although he started out as a pure ruffian who just happened to be born into the Samurai class.
    1. Phasestar's Avatar
      Phasestar -
      Stats on this definitely need work. Musashi should be at least 14 on INT, WIS, CHA, probably 16-18 on WIS. Would also increase Master of the Sword to give +3 or +4 to AC or give him a Parry maneuver that reduces damage taken. He should also have an initiative bonus built in to one of his abilities.
    1. Krachek's Avatar
      Krachek -
      Quote Originally Posted by Mike Myler View Post
      I've heard it's a great book and I've definitely seen movies based on it, but you're referring to a work of historical fiction (made during a period of government-sponsored mythologization of samurai). If you don't feel the need to be constrained by the rules though, give him a Wisdom of 18.
      In the interests of reading suggestions, I strongly recommend checking out Musui's Story (which gives a really eye-opening account of historical Japan and is genuinely entertaining throughout).



      I don't disagree with you and if this were built as a standard NPC (rather than a class level NPC) I'd definitely just use the Gladiator feature. As it stands though you can sit down for a high-level one shot and use the statblock as written (my underlying goal for all of these builds) using the rules provided by WotC. You can definitely still increase his AC within the confines of the rules with a feat swap (it seemed more important to give him Blade Mastery, but you could swap it out for *Defensive Duelist +3 AC reactions with an attack bonus that's 1 lower and no advantage on opportunity attacks).

      I'm not totally nuts about the WotC samurai either (I've got a samurai paladin archetype in one of my settings that's wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy cooler) but I'm supposed to stick to core. In the design I think their plan is for a samurai to use up Warrior Spirit (or rather "Fighting Spirit") until they go down with Warrior Undying, then burn Second Wind to stay conscious. Remember that hit points aren't all necessarily blood and guts, and (at least in part) are an abstraction. I'm sure sometimes people managed to nick him, and also reasonably sure that he did everything in his power to convince opponents that even getting near him was suicidal (all about them mind games).

      * Edit: Forgot that in the core rules that katanas don't get finesse when wielded with one hand (which I'm used to for other reasons).
      He is a guy that outshined all history of samurai. Maybe it is time to go over the traditional points buy?

      In japan is a mythical hero, much like Bruce Lee have hit the imagination in the West.
      Mushashi was a very practical guy, and probably still misunderstood in Japan.
      In WW2 Japan named their heavier battleship in his name, but I think he would have been more satisfied he they
      give its name to the Zero fighter or their most modern plane carrier.
    1. dave2008's Avatar
      dave2008 -
      Another great addition, thank you!

      Some formatting notes:

      I think Rapid Strike should be a trait, not listed as an action. That seems to be how 5e handles things like this.

      Master of the Sword and Warrior Undying would probable go under a separate "Reactions" heading, but I could see them being listed as traits too. But reactions (like the Marilith's "Parry") tend to get their own heading.
    1. dave2008's Avatar
      dave2008 -
      Also, despite what many have said here (and in your previous posts), I appreciate the restraint you show in providing Ability scores, especially when stating real people!
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