Fighter Martial Archtype: Kensai

Martial Archtype: Kensai
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While others may devote themselves to strengthening their body to inhuman levels, leading a thousand men in mass combat, or in the subtle and deliberate arts of magic, the kensai has chosen to devote himself to perfecting his techniqe, and the will that guides it. By harnessing the mystical power of Ki, he turns himself into a perfectly guided sword point of death.

Signature Weapon
Starting at 3rd level, When you become a kensai, you select a weapon into which you pour your time, your focus, your heart and very soul. You may select a single one-handed or versatile simple or martial melee weapon, or two light simple or martial melee weapons; this becomes your signature weapon, and it grows in power as you grow in power.

You may not declare a new signature weapon so long as you have your current one. You may transfer magical power from a weapon you find into your signature weapon; doing so requires a 8 hour ritual and 100 gp worth of components and ritual gear. At the completion of the ritual, the weapon loses whatever magical property it had, and your weapon gains that same property. Should you perform this ritual on a signature weapon that is already enchanted, it loses that current enchantment and gains the new one.

If you lose your signature weapon, you may replace it by performing a ritual costing of a day's worth of meditation and contemplation over a new weapon.

Kenjutsu
At 3rd level, your study and devotion to the blade has given you a mastery over combat that few could hope to achieve. When fighting with your signature weapon, you gain a number of different benefits
- You may use Dexterity instead of strength for the attack and damage rolls of your signature weapon.
- When wielding your signature weapon, if you are not wearing armor or using a shield, you may calculate your AC as 10 + dex mod + Wisdom mod.

Martial Discipline
When you take this archetype at 3rd level, you learn a number of maneuvers fueled by your Ki. Your Fighter level Determines the number of Ki points you have. You gain back all expended Ki points following a short or long rest.


Fighter levelKi Points
3rd2
5th3
7th4
9th5
11th6
13th7
15th8
17th9
19th10
You learn three manuevers to start, and two more at 7th, 10th and 15th level. Each time you learn new maneuvers, you may elect to replace old ones. Some maneuvers require a saving throw; if it does, the DC is equal to 8 + your Proficiency Modifier + your Wisdom Modifier.

Budo
At 7th level, your mastery over your ki grows and expands. Not simply useful on the battlefield, you learn to use your Ki at all times, allowing it to direct you as much as you direct it. You can spend ki points to produce a variety of effects:
- You may spend 2 ki points to cast the Enhance Ability spell without a spell slot.
- You may spend a ki point to gain proficiency in either persuasion or Intimidation until you take a short rest.

Bujustu
At 10th level, you have honed your mastery over your sword. You may select an additional fighting style from the list below:
- Two-weapon fighting
- Hand-and-a-half
- Great Weapon Fighting
- Dueling


Additionally, your Signature weapon is always treated as magical as long as you are wielding it.

Improved Ki
At 15th level, you've learned to harness your ki more efficiently. Before you roll initiative for combat, if you have no ki points in your pool, you instantly regain 3 ki points.

Bushi
At 18th level, you become an almost unparalleled master of combat, learning to submit to your Ki and let it guide your actions. As a bonus action, you may spend 5 ki to flood your body with energy, granting you a bonus equal to your wisdom modifier on all attack rolls, saving throws, and skill checks for 1 minute. Once you use this ability, you must take a long rest before you can do so again.


Maneuvers

Moment of Alclarity
- At the beginning of combat, you may spend 1 ki point to add your Wisdom modifier to your Initiative roll.

Avalanche of Blades
- Immediately after you take the attack action on your turn, you may spend 1 Ki point to make one melee weapon attack as a bonus action.

Emerald Razor
- When making a melee weapon attack, you may spend 1 ki point to add your wisdom modifier to the attack roll. You may do this after the attack is rolled.

Exorcisim of Steel
- As an action, you can spend 1 ki point to to make an attack against a single target. If you hit, that target makes a strength save: on a failure, it has disadvantage on all attack rolls for a number of rounds equal to your wisdom modifier; On a success, it has disadvantage on it's next attack roll.

Iron Shout
- As a bonus action, you may spend 1 ki point to cast the spell Compelled Duel on one target that can hear you within 30 ft.

Quicksilver Motion
- By spending 1 ki point, you may take the dash action as a bonus action on your turn, and your movement speed is doubled for that turn.

Steel Wind
- By spending 1 ki point, you can Disengage as a bonus action on your turn, and your Jump distance for the turn is tripled.

Wall of Blades
- By spending 1 Ki point, you may use your reaction to add your Proficiency bonus to your AC until the start of your next turn. You must be wielding a kensai weapon in order to maintain this bonus to your AC.

Iron Heart Surge (level 7 required)
- As an action, you may spend 2 ki points to immediately end an ongoing negative status or effect currently affecting yourself.

Iron Heart Focus (level 7 required)
- As a reaction, you may spend 2 ki points to reroll a failed save. You must take the new roll.

Iron Heart Endurance (level 7 required)
- As a bonus action, you may spend 2 ki points to regain HP equal to 1d8 + your fighter level

Lightning recovery (level 7 required)
- As a reaction, you may spend 2 ki points to reroll a failed attack roll.

Manticore Parry (level 7 required)
- When you are hit by an opponent's melee or ranged weapon attack, you may spend 3 ki points and use your reaction to reflect or re-direct the attack. The attacker rolls damage as normal; instead of dealing damage to you, the attacker deals damage to either himself or a target within 5 feet of him (your choice)

Mind over Body (level 7 required)
- When you are forced to make a Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution Saving throw, before the roll is made, you may spend 2 ki points and use your reaction to instead make a Wisdom saving throw. You must take the result.

Rapid Counter (level 7 required)
- When you are missed by a creature's melee attack, as a reaction you may spend 1 ki point to make a single melee weapon attack against that creature.

Bounding Assault (level 10 required)
- As an action, you may spend 2 ki points move up to double your movement speed; you do not provoke opportunity attacks from this movement, and you are not hindered by rough terrain. At the end of this movement, you may make one melee weapon attack; this attack deals an additional 10 damage.

Disrupting Blow (level 10 required)
- As an action, you may spend 1 ki point to make a single melee attack against a creature. If it hits, the creature must make a constitution saving throw; Failure means that it is stunned until the end of your next turn

Hearing the air (level 10 required)
- As a bonus action, you may spend 2 ki points to focus on the battelfield around you, gaining Blindsight 20' for 1 minute.

Mithral Tornado (level 10 required)
- As an action, you may spend 2 ki points to make a melee weapon attack against any number of creatures within 5 feet of you, making a separate roll for each creature.

Scything Blade (level 10 required)
- On your turn, immediately after making the attack action, as a bonus action you may spend 3 ki points to make two melee weapon attacks.

Adamantine Hurricane (level 15 required)
- As an action, you may spend 8 ki points to make 2 Melee weapon attacks against any number of creatures within 5 feet of you, making a separate roll for each creature; each of these attacks adds your wisdom bonus to the damage roll.

Diamond Nightmare Blade (level 15 required)
- As an action, you may spend 8 ki points to make a single melee weapon attack. You may add your widsom modifer to the damage roll (In addition to your strength/dex modifier), the attack is a critical hit, and triggers any effects that occur on a natural 20. Additionally, the target must make make a constitution saving throw or be paralyzed for for a number of rounds equal to your Wisdom modifier. Once you use this maneuver, you must take a long rest before you can do so again.

Finishing Move (level 15 required)
- As a bonus action, you may spend 8 ki points. For the rest of this turn, each of your successful melee weapon attacks against the same target gain a cumulative 2d6 bonus to damage, to a maximum of 8d6 damage. One you use this maneuver, you must take a long rest before you can do so again.

Strike of Perfect Clarity (level 15 required)
- As an action, you may spend 8 ki points to make a single melee weapon attack. If it hits, this attack deals an additional 10d10 slashing damage. Once you use this ability, you must take a long rest before you can use it again.

Time Stands Still (level 15 required)
- After taking an action on your turn, by spending 8 ki points, you can take an additional action and an additional Bonus Action on this turn. Once you use this ability, you must take a long rest before you can do so again.

Lightning Throw (level 15 required)
- As an action, you may spend 5 ki points to throw your weapon. Your weapon spins through the air, hitting every creature in a 5' wide, 120' long line. Each creature must make a dexterity saving throw: on a failure, they take 5d10 Bludgeoning, Piercing, or Slashing damage (based on the weapon you threw), or half that on a save. Your weapon returns to your hand at the end of the throw.


Fighting Style: Hand-and-a-half
- When using a versatile Weapon in two hands, you gain a +1 to hit and +1 to damage.

Feat: Bastard Sword Mastery
- When using a weapon with the versatile trait in two hands, You gain a +1 to your AC.
- When using a weapon with the versatile trait in two hands, You may treat it as if it had the Heavy property.
- You may use your dexterity bonus instead of your strength bonus when wielding a versatile weapon.
 
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spinozajack

Villager
Love the flavor, especially the picture! Left-handed swordsmen ftw!

However, I don't think giving extra attacks as a class feature at level 3 is balanced or a good idea in general.

For one, it stacks with GWM but avoids you spending a feat for polearm master for that extra attack that it grants.

I love the Kensai class idea, and agree there should be some maneuvers (some of those are really GREAT! good job), and stay without armor entirely. What I'd do is this as the level 3 subclass feature:

Kensai defense: When your body is in harmony, strength is balanced with speed. Your AC is 10 + strength and dexterity modifiers, while not wearing armor and yielding only your weapon.
Kensai technique: Your mind becomes a void in combat, a perfect blend of strength and grace. You can spend a bonus action immediately before attacking to focus your mind, and when you do, your melee weapon attacks benefit from both strength and dexterity bonus to damage.

Hand-and-half Fighting style is maybe too good, pluses to hit are generally avoided, although on the other hand, in the context of giving up GWM by using a longsword or battleaxe, maybe it's fine. Who knows. Instead of +1 damage I would make it d12 damage for versatile use.

Bastard sword mastery : I kind of like it, and kind of not. I'm fairly certain there will be a two-handed finesse sword published in a splat eventually, making the second clause worthless (aside from proficiency). And I also don't necessarily like more incentives to dump strength, dex is already too good on its own and I really do enjoy the imagery of the strong and agile, but unfettered warrior, like in your portrait. Hardly a weakling, but with a sinewy, explosive strength, like Bruce Lee.

If you wanted to make versatile longswords or battleaxes worth using, you could make them heavy so you can use GWM with them. That would be something, combined with the +1 to AC. I don't know about the disengage though. It could be situationally useful, or it could be really badly exploitable in the wrong hands. I tend to suspect the latter. It is very rogue-like. But I'd rather people multiclass to get class features that are always on, rather than duplicate class features in feats, where there is less opportunity cost.
 
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Love the flavor, especially the picture! Left-handed swordsmen ftw!

However, I don't think giving extra attacks as a class feature at level 3 is balanced or a good idea in general.

For one, it stacks with GWM but avoids you spending a feat for polearm master for that extra attack that it grants.
The general idea of this class is a combination of Fighter and monk. That being said, the "pommel Strike" extra attack is mechanically equal to the feature a monk gets at level 1.
Think of Kenjutsu as Martial Arts, just slightly more restrictive.

Also, and you made the point yourself, The extra attack takes your bonus action. That makes that feature of Polearm master redundant (a good thing, since only the quarterstaff is a Kensai weapon) and makes it mechanically equal to/inferior to a TWF of the same level.

I love the Kensai class idea, and agree there should be some maneuvers (some of those are really GREAT! good job), and stay without armor entirely. What I'd do is this as the level 3 subclass feature:

Kensai defense: When your body is in harmony, strength is balanced with speed. Your AC is 10 + strength and dexterity modifiers, while not wearing armor and yielding only your weapon.
Kensai technique: Your mind becomes a void in combat, a perfect blend of strength and grace. You can spend a bonus action immediately before attacking to focus your mind, and when you do, your melee weapon attacks benefit from both strength and dexterity bonus to damage.
Woah, no way. I'll try to give a good explanation as to why I certainly won't do it this way:
- The entire concept for the Kensai is a combination of Monk and Fighter. Since this is D&D we're talking about here, this is essentially the fantasy/anime samurai trope: Light or no armor, superhuman abilities, all that nonsense. Keeping in mind this is 5e, most classes abilities key off one or two stats: either Str or Dex, and one of Int, Wis, or Cha. Con is needed by everyone in the game, and is always the third stat to consider, though barbarians bump up the importance quite a bit. In the case of the fighter, you can build him to either focus on strength or Dexteirty, and then Int/Charsima (battlemaster), Int (Eldritch Knight) or Con (champion). Kensai was a distinct attempt to Build either Strength or Dex and Wisdom. Now, note that the only ability that you can't wear armor with is the Battle Sense ability; therefore, it is completely possible to build a Kensai using Strength instead of dex and still be very effective. Your AC will likely be a bit lower than it would be at a higher level, but there are things you can do with armor (like having it enchanted) that you couldn't do without.

Hand-and-half Fighting style is maybe too good, pluses to hit are generally avoided, although on the other hand, in the context of giving up GWM by using a longsword or battleaxe, maybe it's fine. Who knows. Instead of +1 damage I would make it d12 damage for versatile use.
The idea here is that it's halfway between Archery (+2 to attack) and Dueling (+2 to damage). The d12 damage thing is kinda interesting, though, I may consider that for a different feat.

Bastard sword mastery : I kind of like it, and kind of not. I'm fairly certain there will be a two-handed finesse sword published in a splat eventually, making the second clause worthless (aside from proficiency). And I also don't necessarily like more incentives to dump strength, dex is already too good on its own and I really do enjoy the imagery of the strong and agile, but unfettered warrior, like in your portrait. Hardly a weakling, but with a sinewy, explosive strength, like Bruce Lee.
I can understand your concern. That being said, Its highly doubtful there will be a 2 handed or versatile finesse weapon printed: the beta had quarterstaves as 2-handed finesse weapons, and they got rid of that. In any case, this is (again) mechanically similar to the monk being able to use dex for quarterstaves.

the last point is a good one, and I may just swap it out. As a matter of fact, that's what I'm going to do. Boom!

If you wanted to make versatile longswords or battleaxes worth using, you could make them heavy so you can use GWM with them. That would be something, combined with the +1 to AC. I don't know about the disengage though. It could be situationally useful, or it could be really badly exploitable in the wrong hands. I tend to suspect the latter. It is very rogue-like. But I'd rather people multiclass to get class features that are always on, rather than duplicate class features in feats, where there is less opportunity cost.[/QUOTE]
 
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Ashkelon

Villager
I like where you are going with this for sure, but there are a few issues I see right away.

First off, there is no need for kenjutsu to grant a bonus action attack. Fighters already deal some of the best damage in the game, they don't need a free bonus action attack on top of that.

Secondly, the defensive feature coming online at level 7 feels a little awkward. I would simply create a fighting style available at level 1 to take care of the unarmored warrior concept. It feels strange to wear armor for 6 levels, only to be unarmored all of a sudden at level 7.

Next, I have a big problem with Blade of Virtue. A 2d6 bonus to damage usable every combat is simply too powerful of an ability. Remember, a fighter will make at least 3 attacks per round by the time they get this ability. 2d6 additional damage per attack adds up fast (6d6 per round if all 3 attacks hit, which is what a level 11 rogue deals with their sneak attack).

Now for maneuvers. My biggest problem with maneuvers is that they don't interact well with the fighter's primary feature, extra attack. If you use your action to initiate a maneuver, you aren't taking the Attack action, meaning you only get to make a single attack instead of the 2, 3, or 4 you would normally make.

Also, I believe many of the maneuvers need their cost adjusted. For example, Scything Blade is amazingly powerful (2 attacks as a bonus action for 2 ki!) while many of the 10 ki cost maneuvers aren't worth it. This is actually a big problem with ki based maneuvers, generally it is better to spam a low cost maneuver than to attempt a big costly maneuver.

Anyway, if you want some inspiration, here is a class I have been working on that is very similar to yours:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1zHLtUBIOpuzbhov9Jk6GsCgftm1TIb2_Q8oHBWo26Jk/edit?usp=sharing
 
I like where you are going with this for sure, but there are a few issues I see right away.

First off, there is no need for kenjutsu to grant a bonus action attack. Fighters already deal some of the best damage in the game, they don't need a free bonus action attack on top of that.
The idea here is that it's essentially martial arts for a fighter. I don't see it as a real problem: A polearm fighter will be doing 1d10+str+1d4+str at first or fourth level, and this is exactly that.

Secondly, the defensive feature coming online at level 7 feels a little awkward. I would simply create a fighting style available at level 1 to take care of the unarmored warrior concept. It feels strange to wear armor for 6 levels, only to be unarmored all of a sudden at level 7.
I don't really disagree with you, but I don't really have another place to put it, and its a part of this subclass I really want to make sure is there.

Next, I have a big problem with Blade of Virtue. A 2d6 bonus to damage usable every combat is simply too powerful of an ability. Remember, a fighter will make at least 3 attacks per round by the time they get this ability. 2d6 additional damage per attack adds up fast (6d6 per round if all 3 attacks hit, which is what a level 11 rogue deals with their sneak attack).
I initially wrote it up as adding your wisdom modifier instead of 2d6, but that felt very lackluster for a capstone ability. There are a couple ways I could do this: Make it a once/long rest ability, increase it's ki point cost to be prohibitive to use every combat, or reduce it's damage. I'm inclined to go for the first, since it should feel like a very powerful ability.

Now for maneuvers. My biggest problem with maneuvers is that they don't interact well with the fighter's primary feature, extra attack. If you use your action to initiate a maneuver, you aren't taking the Attack action, meaning you only get to make a single attack instead of the 2, 3, or 4 you would normally make.
That's intentional. This Subclass, though it seems similar, is more like the Eldritch Knight that the Battlemaster: all of the abilities that require an action have some specific desireable effect that your normal attacks can't do. Taunting, Stunning, Whirlwind/double whirlwind attack, attacking in a line, dealing a single massive strike, Auto-critting...these are potions that the Kensai has that he wouldn't have otherwise, and can't be replicated simply by attacking.

Also, I believe many of the maneuvers need their cost adjusted. For example, Scything Blade is amazingly powerful (2 attacks as a bonus action for 2 ki!) while many of the 10 ki cost maneuvers aren't worth it. This is actually a big problem with ki based maneuvers, generally it is better to spam a low cost maneuver than to attempt a big costly maneuver.
I'm open to adjusting these. The monk can get two bonus attacks for 1 ki point, and has many more Ki points available, but also doesn't get more than 1 extra attack. The 10 ki cost maneuvers have been adjusted slightly in another posting of this subclass; i'd encourage you to check out the changes that i've made and see how you like them. Anyone who plays a Kensai is more or less expected to burn though his whole ki pool each fight, but he still needs to ration it per round; 10 ki goes very quickly, especially when your defensive abilities cost roughly a third of that.

Anyway, if you want some inspiration, here is a class I have been working on that is very similar to yours:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1zHLtUBIOpuzbhov9Jk6GsCgftm1TIb2_Q8oHBWo26Jk/edit?usp=sharing
I'll check that out, it looks really interesting! ToB was my favorite book from 3.5, so anything that emulates it makes me quite happy.
 
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AlphaDean

Villager
I like the over all concept. I remember during the good old days of AD&D when Oriental Adventures was around and This class was also known as the Sword Saints, and consisting of a warrior who has been specially trained to be one with his sword or chosen weapon. Even his hands could be his focus. They are deadly fast, and trained to fight without encumbrance. I will probably use some of this as base line to create my own Kensai Class for my campaign... Perhaps I'll post it here. Overall I love what you've done, but again somethings for myself will be modified.
 

spinozajack

Villager
- The entire concept for the Kensai is a combination of Monk and Fighter.

Since this is D&D we're talking about here, this is essentially the fantasy/anime samurai trope: Light or no armor, superhuman abilities, all that nonsense. Keeping in mind this is 5e, most classes abilities key off one or two stats: either Str or Dex, and one of Int, Wis, or Cha. Con is needed by everyone in the game, and is always the third stat to consider, though barbarians bump up the importance quite a bit. In the case of the fighter, you can build him to either focus on strength or Dexteirty, and then Int/Charsima (battlemaster), Int (Eldritch Knight) or Con (champion). Kensai was a distinct attempt to Build either Strength or Dex and Wisdom. Now, note that the only ability that you can't wear armor with is the Battle Sense ability; therefore, it is completely possible to build a Kensai using Strength instead of dex and still be very effective. Your AC will likely be a bit lower than it would be at a higher level, but there are things you can do with armor (like having it enchanted) that you couldn't do without.
Fair enough, it is your own class and I do like it. I just think your point about it being a monk that uses str-based weapons should make it more suited to a balanced str / dex build instead of the default monk's dex / wis.

Each class that's supposed to be in melee combat, if they're not wearing armor at all, get some kind of defensive ability, like 13+ dex, or dex+con (barb) or dex+wis. So why not a class that encourages dex + strength all the way? It matches up well with the guy in the picture there. Some abilities, like attacking, key off strength, and others, key off dex like shuriken or bow. A balanced str/dex fighter is something which doesn't really exist in 5th edition. Most of the time you specialize in one or the other, there isn't really a niche for the balanced guy so far in 5th edition, that's why I thought the Kensai would be a good fit for a dual-stat MAD class like that. It would be probably at least until level 12 until you catch up with the AC of a fighter in plate + greatsword.

Ninja Scroll! That's a movie I should watch again. I remember when I first saw it when I was 16 with some college buddies, that was awesome.
 
I will seriously Consider this. I'd like to make archetypes that build off one or two of the Martial Disciplines from Tome Of Battle, and I think I could make something that focuses on Str + Dex a possibility, Maybe for Tiger Claw. In that instance, I wouldn't use Ki as a mechanism, maybe "Adrenaline" or "Focus" or something like that.
 

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