Today I bring you a new sub-class that can be used both as a fighter's martial archetype or a monk's monastic tradition. It is the Battousai - the master swordsman who attacks rapidly with its sword, based both on historical japanese sword fighting and the Rouroni Kenshin's anime protagonist: Kenshin Himura, the Hitokiri Battousai (manslaying master swordsman).
The way of the sword:
The path of the mastery of the blade is determined by one's own destiny. When you choose this subclass at level 3, you become proficient with Short Sword and Longsword (if you weren't proficient already) and they count as monk's weapons. You may also choose one Kenjutsu technique. At levels 7, 10 and 15, you may choose another Kenjutsu technique.
Kenjutsu techniques may only be used if you are wielding a medium or small sword, either using one hand or two-handed a longsword. This cannot be applied to big two-handed swords, daggers or if you are using a shield.
- Kenjutsu Techniques
. Kiai: You can exert the will of your blade's fury upon your enemies soul. As an action, you emit a loud scream. All hostile creatures 10 feet around you and able to hear your scream make a Charisma save or become frightened of you. They can make another save at the end of their next turns to end this effect. You can use the Kiai a number of times equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum 1), then you need a short rest to recover its uses.
. Happo Giri (8 directions cuts): By knowing all the possible ways to strike, you control how your blade will cut your enemies. After your attack roll, you may freely choose how to distribute your damage against any hit creature at your sword's reach. In other words, you have access to the Cleave Through Enemies option in the DMG.
Edit: If your game already uses the cleave option, then Happo Giri is a special Attack action. As an action, you can make one attack roll to all creatures around you under your sword's reach. Roll once for the attack roll and compare to each creature's AC.
. Iaijutsu: You may use longswords as finesse weapons. You also may use short swords as versatile weapons (dealing 1d8 damage when wielding with two hands).
. Shukuchi ("reduced earth" - extreme speed): When you choose the Dash action for your turn and are close enough to attack a creature with your sword, you may also use the Attack action this turn. Also, you don't provoke an opportunity attack when you move out of a hostile's creature reach without using the Disengage action. Finally, you gain advantage to Dex (Acrobatics) checks when you tumble through another's creature space.
- Sword Saint: You become a Sword Saint after you mastered all kenjutsu techniques at level 15. Through extreme conditioning, you've become one with your sword. Choose one sainthood option below:
- Sainthood of Speed: Re-roll any roll of 1 when attacking with a sword. Also, receive +1 to your margin of critical (normally, this means your attacks crit on a 19 and 20). When you achieve a critical hit, roll 1 extra weapon damage. You also can make opportunity attacks against creatures that move into your reach (and not just out of your reach), and you can make any number of opportunity attacks during a combat's round (they don't count as the usage of your reaction). All these bonuses apply also to martial arts if you are a monk.
- Sainthood of Power: You may add both you may add both your Strength and Dexterity modifiers to your damage using a sword. This bonus also applies to martial arts if you are a monk.
Although firstly created to be a martial archetype, I ended up allowing this sub-class for monks too because I see it fits them. The idea behind this sub-class is not only to emulate a sword master, but also to give player's some sort of freedom to choose how they trace their paths. Different from the Battle master, who has many techniques to choose and will not be proficient with them all, I wanted to make the battousai similar but different. Although the path chosen might not be the same, the final destination is: to become a sword saint.
Regarding sword sainthood, I also wanted that both options were very scary and interesting. On one side, you can add your strength to your damage, meaning a much higher damage output if you have greater strength. On the other side, I wanted to capture the idea of a legendary swordsman attacking a thousand times by cutting off the limitation of opportunity attacks. I believe that both sainthood's are pretty overpowered. I will probably nerf it after I finish my campaign.
I hope you folks liked this sub-class.
Until next time,