Tenken (3.5e Class)

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Author: ThunderGod Cid (talk)
Date Created: June 23, 2009
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Tenken comes from the Japanese word for “heavenly sword” or “gift from the heavens”. The speed at which those who deserve the title of tenken move shows the skeptics why. A tenken is an extraordinarily agile swordsman capable of incredible feats of movement and combat. High level tenken claim that they are often never touched in a fight.

Making a Tenken[edit]

Tenken often possess scrawny and unimpressive physiques for front-line fighters, but they move with fluidity that catches any eye fast enough to track it. Their sheer speed and agility make them fearsome opponents on the battlefield, and anyone suicidal enough to charge into a melee with no armor and only a single sword surely leaves an impression on even the most hardened of soldiers.

Abilities: Dexterity is by far the most important ability for a tenken. It affects his armor class, attack and damage bonuses, and allows him to make saves with incredible efficiency. Wisdom is the second most important ability, as it increases his Armor Class and strengthens his otherwise subpar Will saves.

Races: Any, but the naturally dexterous races are favored. Amongst the drow, the militaristic aspect of the tenken flourishes.

Alignment: Any, but with an unlawful disposition. A tenken is typically a free spirit used to doing what they want when they want, but it should not be said that they do not have morals. Good-aligned tenken usually have high moral standards, but they merely have their own ways of protecting their ideals. Evil tenken pride themselves on being “doers, not planners” and do their best to go through life whimsically, avoiding responsibility whenever they can.

Starting Gold: 2d4×10 gp (50 gp).

Starting Age: Moderate.

Table: The Tenken

Hit Die: d8

Level Base
Attack Bonus
Saving Throws Special Shukuchi
Attack Bonus
Speed Bonus
Fort Ref Will
1st +1 +0 +2 +0 Acrobatics (+5), Shukuchi, Superior Finesse –1/–1 +0 +10 ft.
2nd +2 +0 +3 +0 Sprinter +0/+0 +0 +10 ft.
3rd +3 +1 +3 +1 Dodge +1/+1 +0 +20 ft.
4th +4 +1 +4 +1 Evasion +2/+2 +0 +20 ft.
5th +5 +1 +4 +1 Uncanny Dodge +4/+4 +1 +20 ft.
6th +6/+1 +2 +5 +2 Mobility +5/+5/+0 +1 +30 ft.
7th +7/+2 +2 +5 +2 Daredevil +6/+6/+1 +1 +30 ft.
8th +8/+3 +2 +6 +2 Acrobatics (+10) +7/+7/+2 +1 +30 ft.
9th +9/+4 +3 +6 +3 Bonus Feat, Quickstep +9/+9/+4 +1 +40 ft.
10th +10/+5 +3 +7 +3 Haste +10/+10/+5 +2 +40 ft.
11th +11/+6/+1 +3 +7 +3 Greater Shukuchi +11/+11/+11/+6/+1 +2 +40 ft.
12th +12/+7/+2 +4 +8 +4 Improved Evasion +12/+12/+12/+7/+2 +2 +50 ft.
13th +13/+8/+3 +4 +8 +4 Improved Uncanny Dodge, Bonus Feat +13/+13/+13/+8/+3 +2 +50 ft.
14th +14/+9/+4 +4 +9 +4 Unbounded +14/+14/+14/+9/+4 +2 +50 ft.
15th +15/+10/+5 +5 +9 +5 Acrobatics (+20) +15/+15/+15/+10/+5 +3 +60 ft.
16th +16/+11/+6/+1 +5 +10 +5 Leap of the Clouds +16/+16/+16/+11/+6/+1 +3 +60 ft.
17th +17/+12/+7/+2 +5 +10 +5 Bonus Feat, Improved Quickstep +17/+17/+17/+12/+7/+2 +3 +60 ft.
18th +18/+13/+8/+3 +6 +11 +6 Life on The Edge +18/+18/+18/+13/+8/+3 +3 +70 ft.
19th +19/+14/+9/+4 +6 +11 +6 Astra +19/+19/+19/+14/+9/+4 +3 +70 ft.
20th +20/+15/+10/+5 +6 +12 +6 Shinsoke +20/+20/+20/+15/+10/+5 +4 +70 ft.

Class Skills (4 + Int modifier per level, ×4 at 1st level)
Balance (Dex), Climb (Str), Escape Artist (Dex), Heal (Wis), Jump (Str), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), Survival (Wis), Swim (Str), Tumble (Dex).

Class Features[edit]

All of the following are class features of the tenken.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: A tenken is proficient with all simple and martial weapons but holds a special affinity for melee slashing weapons, swords in particular. He is also proficient with no armor or shields.

When wearing armor, using a shield, or carrying a medium or heavy load, a tenken loses his AC bonus, as well as his most of his class abilities, including fast movement and shukuchi.

Acrobatics (Ex): The tenken moves with unparalleled grace. Every step is carefully measured, and performed with such fluidity that he could be walking on the clouds. A 1st level tenken gains a +5 competency bonus on Balance, Jump, and Tumble checks. At 8th level, this bonus increases to +10, and finally to +20 at 15th level. In addition, a tenken can always take 10 on a roll for one of the aforementioned skills, even when circumstances would normally prevent him from doing so. [Note: This is not related to the Acrobatic feat, which can be taken for more ranks in the overlapping skills.] The tenken must be unarmored and unencumbered in order to recieve these bonuses.

Shukuchi (Ex): When unarmored, a tenken may strike with the shukuchi—a flurry of ridiculously fast strikes—at the expense of accuracy. When doing so, he may make one extra attack in a round at his highest base attack bonus, but this attack takes a –2 penalty, as does each other attack made that round. The resulting modified base attack bonuses are shown in the Shukuchi Attack Bonus column on Table: The Tenken. This penalty applies for 1 round, so it also affects attacks of opportunity the tenken might make before his next action. When a tenken reaches 5th level, the penalty lessens to –1, and at 9th level it disappears. A tenken must use a full attack action to strike with the shukuchi, and the technique can only be used when he is wielding a single melee slashing weapon. The shukuchi may only be used with a primary weapon. As such, the shukuchi cannot be used when fighting with two weapons or a double weapon.

The tenken's ability to use the shukuchi improves at 11th level. In addition to the standard extra attack he receives, he also gains another extra attack at his highest base attack bonus.

AC Bonus (Ex): When unarmored and unencumbered, the tenken adds his Wisdom bonus (if any) to his Armor Class. In addition, he gains a +1 bonus to AC at 5th level. This bonus increases by 1 for every five tenken levels thereafter (+2 at 10th, +3 at 15th, and +4 at 20th level). These bonuses to AC apply even against touch attacks or when the tenken is flat-footed. He loses these bonuses when he is immobilized or helpless, when he wears any armor, when he carries a shield, or when he carries a medium or heavy load. The Wisdom bonus also does not stack with any other class that offers a Wisdom bonus to AC (such as the monk).

Fast Movement (Ex): A tenken is fast. Very fast. He gains a bonus to his speed, as shown on Table: The Tenken. A tenken in armor or carrying a medium or heavy load loses this extra speed.

Superior Finesse: A tenken automatically gains the Weapon Finesse feat with any weapon that is considered a one-handed slashing weapon for him in addition to any normal weapons to which Weapon Finesse can be applied. If another feat (such as Exotic Weapon Proficiency) is required to wield the weapon in one hand, then that feat must be taken first.

A tenken compensates for his lack of physical strength by striking a target’s vital areas with amazing quickness, wielding his weapon with the precision of a scalpel. A tenken can choose to add his Dexterity modifier to his damage rolls instead of his Strength modifier. If he uses his weapon in two hands (which is permissable so long as he is able to wield the weapon normally in one hand) he deals one and a half times his Dexterity modifier in damage.

This ability does not stack with any other ability that adds the characters Dexterity modifier to attack or damage rolls.

Sprinter (Ex): When brawn fails, sometimes the best option is to run, whether it be towards the enemy or away from them. The tenken takes this strategem to heart, and has finely honed his ability to sprint. When not wearing armor and carrying less than a light load, a tenken runs five times his speed. If he takes the Run feat, he can run six times his speed when unarmored and unencumbered.

Dodge: A tenken is a terribly elusive opponent, bending and weaving through sword strikes in ways that few could emulate. At 3rd level, the tenken gains Dodge as a bonus feat even if he does not meet the prerequisites. If he already has this feat, then he may select a feat from the list of fighter bonus feats.

Evasion (Ex): Veteran warriors, particularly those accustomed to fighting without armor, have been known to develop a "soldier's sense" that instinctually warns them of impending danger. The tenken listens well to this primordial foresight and uses his unmatched agility to dodge. At 4th level or higher, a tenken can avoid even magical or unnatural attacks with great agility. If he makes a successful Reflex saving throw against an attack that normally deals half damage on a successful save, the tenken instead takes no damage. This ability only works if the tenken is unarmored and unencumbered. A helpless tenken does not gain the benefit of evasion.

Uncanny Dodge (Ex): At 5th level, a tenken retains his Dexterity bonus to AC (if any) even if he is caught flat-footed or struck by an invisible attacker. However, he still loses his Dexterity bonus to AC if immobilized. If he already has the uncanny dodge class feature from another class, he automatically gains improved uncanny dodge (see below) instead. If he is wearing armor or encumbered, the tenken does not receive the benefits of uncanny dodge or improved uncanny dodge.

Mobility: A tenken gains Mobility as a bonus feat at 6th level even if he does not meet the prerequisites. If he already has this feat, then he may select a feat from the list of fighter bonus feats.

Daredevil (Ex): A 7th level tenken can take part of one of his move actions to traverse a wall or other relatively smooth vertical surface if he begins and ends his move on a horizontal surface. The height he can achieve on the wall is limited only by this movement restriction. If he does not end his move on a horizontal surface, he falls prone, taking falling damage as appropriate for his distance above the ground. Treat the wall as a normal floor for the purpose of measuring his movement. Passing from floor to wall or wall to floor costs no movement; he can change surfaces freely. Opponents on the ground can make attacks of opportunity as he moves up the wall.

The tenken can take other move actions in conjunction with moving along a wall. For instance, the Spring Attack feat allows him to make an attack from the wall against a foe standing on the ground who is within the area he threatens; however, if he is somehow prevented from completing his move, he falls. Likewise, he could tumble along the wall to avoid attacks of opportunity.

Bonus Feat: A tenken may take a bonus feat for which he meets the prerequisites at 9th, 13th, and 17th level.

Quickstep (Ex): The tenken's sheer speed makes him extremely difficult to track in combat at 9th level. On any turn where he has moved 10 or more feet, the tenken's form appears to waver and shift, and he gains 20% concealment as if he was affected by a blur spell. This effect cannot be negated by any means because it is not a magical effect, but simply a result of his quickness.

At 17th level, the tenken's quickstep ability improves to the point where another being's eyes are unable to follow his movement, making him appear several feet away from his actual location. He now gains the effects of a displacement spell when he moves more than 10 feet in a turn.

Haste (Ex): Starting at 10th level, a tenken may act as if he were hasted for a number of rounds per day equal to his tenken level. Rounds per day acquired through another source (such as boots of speed) are added on to the tenken’s maximum rounds per day. The extra attack granted by this effect stacks with the attack(s) granted by the shukuchi, but do not stack with any attack provided by a weapon with the speed enchantment.

Improved Evasion (Ex): The tenken's ability to dodge attacks with miraculous speed increases. This ability functions like evasion (see above) but the tenken only takes half damage even if he fails his Reflex save. A helpless tenken does not gain the benefit of improved evasion.

Improved Uncanny Dodge (Ex): At 13th level and higher, a tenken can no longer be flanked. This defense denies a rogue the ability to sneak attack the tenken by flanking him unless the attacker has at least four more rogue levels than the target has tenken levels. If a character already has uncanny dodge (see above) from a second class, the character automatically gains improved uncanny dodge instead, and the levels from the classes that grant uncanny dodge stack to determine the minimum level a rogue must be to flank the character.

Unbounded (Ex): There is no way the tenken could have survived as long as he has without being able to get out of sticky situations. At 14th level, a tenken acts as if he is permanently under the effect of a freedom of movement spell.

Leap of the Clouds (Ex): At 16th level, a tenken’s jumping distance (vertical or horizontal) is no longer limited according to his height. This ability only functions if the tenken is unarmored and unencumbered.

Life on the Edge (Ex): At 18th level, a tenken’s sword strikes with unmatched efficiency, hitting fast and hard where it hurts. The critical threat range of any slashing weapon the tenken is proficient with doubles (20 to 19-20, 19-20 to 18-20, etc.) as if it had the keen enchantment. This effect stacks with the Improved Critical feat but not the keen enchantment.

Astra (Ex): At 19th level, the tenken gains the ability use a burst of superhuman speed to take two turns worth of actions in one round once per combat encounter. If the tenken decides to attack in both turns, there is no penalty on any of his attack rolls due to the use of Astra (any other penalties still apply as normal). Following the use of Astra, the tenken must succeed a Fortitude save (DC 20) or become fatigued for 1d4+1 rounds. The save DC is not set at 20; it increases by +2 for every time the tenken has used the ability that day. A tenken can reset the DC by resting for five minutes.

Shinsoke (Ex): At 20th level, the tenken moves with such speed that it defies reality. He is now permanently hasted. Up to three times per day, he can substitute either his Fortitude or Will save with his Reflex save, avoiding the effect with unimaginable quickness. The tenken must be unarmored and unencumbered in order to use any of the abilities afforded by this class feature. He also now cannot be affected by another haste effect.

Epic Tenken[edit]

Table: The Epic Tenken

Hit Die: d8

Level AC
Speed Bonus
21st +4 +80 ft.
22nd +4 +80 ft.
23rd +4 +80 ft. Bonus Feat
24th +4 +90 ft.
25th +5 +90 ft. Sword of Heaven
26th +5 +90 ft. Bonus Feat
27th +5 +100 ft.
28th +5 +100 ft.
29th +5 +100 ft. Bonus Feat
30th +6 +110 ft. Terminal Velocity

4 + Int modifier skill points per level.

AC Bonus: The tenken’s bonus to Armor Class when unarmored increases by +1 every five levels higher than 20th.

Fast Movement: The epic tenken’s speed when wearing no armor increases by 10 feet every three levels higher than 18th. The unarmored speed of Small tenken increases by 5 feet instead of 10 feet.

Sword of Heaven (Ex): The tenken’s weapon is so named not because of any holy power it possesses, but because its wielder can fight at ridiculous speeds with flawless precision. A tenken of 25th level or higher is no longer fatigued after he uses his Astra ability. The limitation of one use of Astra per combat encounter still applies.

Terminal Velocity (Ex): By level 30, the tenken is so fast that he can take two rounds worth of actions in a single round at any time without any negative effects. This ability succeeds Astra.

Bonus Feats: The epic tenken gains a bonus feat (selected from the list of epic tenken bonus feats) every three levels after 20th.

Epic Tenken Bonus Feat List: Armor Skin, Dire Charge, Energy Resistance, Epic Prowess, Epic Speed, Epic Toughness, Epic Weapon Focus, Exceptional Deflection, Great Dexterity, Improved Combat Reflexes, Infinite Deflection, Reflect Arrows, Superior Initiative.

Elf Tenken Starting Package[edit]

Weapons: Longsword.

Skill Selection: Pick a number of skills equal to 4 + Int modifier.

Skill Ranks Ability Armor
Escape Artist 4 Dex
Heal 4 Wis
Sense Motive 4 Wis
Survival 4 Wis

Feat: Improved Initiative.

Gear: Backpack, bedroll, flint and steel, tent, trail rations (x4 days worth), waterskin, winter blanket.

Gold: 25 gp.

Campaign Information[edit]

Playing a Tenken[edit]

Religion: The devotion of a tenken to any religion is completely variable. Some are faithful; others spurn religion completely. Those that do worship a higher power favor chaotic entities that represent battle and, for more evil tenken, wanton destruction. Even those tenken usually worship sporadically and nonchalantly, acknowledging their deity more through oaths and curses than actual prayer.

Other Classes: Most tenken have little taste for law; while they may be tolerant of lawful entities, even the most open-minded of tenken have little interest in conformation to strict rules. But while they may not understand the reasons for a paladin's code of conduct, a tenken will appreciate the paladin's abilities and contributions to a group. They treat all others in a similar manner, respecting them so long as they add something valuable to a group effort.

Combat: With his speed and elusiveness, a tenken is a formidable melee combatant, and with his high Dexterity, he is usually not too shabby with ranged weapons either. But despite his combat skills, a tenken is not the ideal protective character. His fighting style is based on lightning-fast moves and dependent on his ability to weave through a line of foes. As a result, he is often unable to keep another party member from harm unless he can attract all of the enemy's attention.

Advancement: Tenken multiclass well as rogues, naturally favoring Dexterity and agility. Evil tenken might even has a level of assassin, making their living as hired killers. Tenken with high Intelligence or Charisma may also venture into the wizard or sorcerer classes, supplementing their skills with magic.

Tenken in the World[edit]

Defeat me? Ha! You are sorely mistaken, poor fool. You shall never even touch me!
—Mourndar Orlylyl, drow tenken

Tenken are elite swordmasters that pride themselves on the excellence of their craft. With this combat experience comes a fondness for slashing weapons, an interest that can range form appreciation to downright obsession. A typical tenken carries at least three weapons on his person, usually for situational use. The smallest (usually a dagger) will be concealed. Even a tenken can recognize the need for subterfuge. But the other two blades will be as large and imposing as possible in order to deter (or perhaps attract) challengers. When questioned on the subject, a tenken will usually respond with a grin and a knowing wink, suggesting that their show of arms is most likely for the latter purpose.

Daily Life: Nomadic at heart, tenken seem possessed by irrepressible wanderlust. Their hedonistic, carefree personalities also tend to get them into trouble; many of them accrue high debts through heavy gambling and other rash behaviors. To them, none of it really matters. They're just passing the time between the next fight.

Notables: One of the most powerful tenken is a wanderer by the name of Himura, who seeks to help common folk through the use of his sword and combat evil wherever it may rear its ugly head.

Organizations: No organization of tenken exists. Should two tenken meet, however, they will usually both insist on a personal duel; the lethality of this sparring match is dependent on their alignment.

NPC Reactions: Despite not having a great deal of talent outside of the battlefield, tenken are often able to amuse audiences with displays of speed and precision with their weapons. They are usually loathe to do this, however, and rarely if ever give repeat performances.

Tenken Lore[edit]

Characters with ranks in Knowledge (local) can research tenken to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.

Knowledge (Local)
DC Result
5 Tenken are lightning fast swordsmen who wear no armor.
10 While they appear frail, a tenken's sword strikes with tremendous speed and deceptive strength.
15 A tenken moves with god-like speed and uses a technique called the 'shukuchi' in which he unleashes a flurry of quick attacks on an opponent.
20 Information on specific tenken, their particular skills, backgrounds, etc.

Tenken in the Game[edit]

Whether he is a mercenary, a vassal to a feudal lord, an agent of some other higher power, or even a simple wanderer, the tenken is often underestimated at the peril of his enemies, but recognized by those who know of him as a fearsome warrior.

Adaptation: Grimoire Tenken by Ghostwheel.

Sample Encounter: Tojiro, a 12 level tenken, is hired by another party to test the capabilities of the PC's. He has orders to use nonlethal force, but will not abide by them if he feels that his life in endangered. Tojiro is intended to be a challenge for a party of 4 level 9 PC's.

EL 9: Tojiro enters by helping the PC's deal with another threat, preferably something of low level so he will not have to reveal his capabilities. He will respond to this threat with ruthless precision, and then approach the PC's with an entreaty of peace before explaining his intent to challenge them.

Tojiro the Tenken

CR 12

Male Tenken 12
CN M Humanoid
Init/Senses +12/Listen +3, Spot +3
Languages Common, Elven, Giant
AC 28, touch 28, flat-footed 28
(+8 Dexterity, +6 insight, +2 deflection, +2 dodge)
hp 78 (12d8+24 HD)
Fort/Ref/Will +6/+16/+7
Speed 80 feet (16 squares)
Melee +3 shocking katana +20/+15/+10 (1d10+11+1d6 electrcity) (17-20, x2 on crit.)
Ranged +2 throwing returning katana +20 (1d10) (17-20, x2 on crit.)
Base Atk/Grp +12/+12
Atk Options Shukuchi
Abilities Str 10, Dex 22, Con 15, Int 14, Wis 16, Cha 12
SQ Haste, Improved Evasion, Improved Uncanny Dodge, Quickstep
Feats Armed Deflect Arrows, Dodge*, Exotic Weapon Proficiency (katana), Improved Dodge, Improved Initiative, Mobility*, Quick Draw, Spring Attack, Weapon Focus (katana)
Skills Balance +18*, Climb +8, Escape Artist +11, Heal +5, Jump +16*, Sleight of Hand +10, Sense Motive +8, Tumble +18*.
Possessions Gloves of dexterity +4, ring of protection +2, periapt of wisdom +2, robe of useful items, boots of speed, mundane equipment
Acrobatics Tojiro gains a +10 bonus to the Balance, Jump, and Tumble feats when unarmored and unencumbered. These bonuses are factored into his skills (marked by an asterisk).
Haste Tojiro can act as if he is hasted for 12 rounds per day.
Improved Evasion Tojiro can totally evade attacks with incredible reflexes on a successful Reflex save, and takes only half damage even on a failed save.
Improved Uncanny Dodge Tojiro retains his Dexterity bonus to AC even if he is caught flat-footed or struck by an invisible attacker. He can also no longer be flanked or sneak attacked unless by a rogue four or more levels higher than him.
Shukuchi Should Tojiro decide to use his shukuchi, his attack bonus changes to +20/+20/+20/+15/+10.
Quickstep On any turn where Tojiro moves 10 or more feet, he is treated as if under the effect of a blur spell.

ThunderGod Cid's Homebrew (372 Articles)
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Facts about "Tenken (3.5e Class)"
Article BalanceModerate +
AuthorThunderGod Cid +
Challenge Rating12 +
Identifier3.5e Class +
NameTojiro the Tenken +
Rated ByTarkisflux + and Franken Kesey +
RatingRating Pending +
SizeM +
Skill Points4 +
SummaryA Dexterity-based fighter who gets by on sheer speed and precision. + and {{{summary}}} +
TitleTenken +
TypeHumanoid +