The Empire of the Rising Sun (3.5e Campaign Setting)/Classes

From Dungeons and Dragons Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Base Classes[edit]

There are thirty-two base classes in the Compiled Tomes, and I don't want to waste space with unnecessary stuff. So, before we get onto how certain classes fit into the Empire, here are classes which do not fit in and thus are not allowed: Bards, clerics, curators, monster tamers, puppeteers, soulborn, swashbucklers, and thaumaturges. Any class may be included or excluded at the DM's Digression (so, really, while it might not be the best idea to play a wizard, you could if your DM allowed). (Note: these are only restrictions for those native to the Empire. An outsider can be any class they want, but they will automatically be looked down upon.)

Now that we have that out of the way, lets talk about the base classes that you can use. The following section presents expanded rules and cultural considerations designed for each class more Oriental. All of the mechanical considerations are merely options, intended to make the campaign setting more unique and satisfying.


In any land, regardless of time or place, there will always be the crafty assassins, those silent killers more specialized in death then the ordinary rogue. Their high damage dealing, trap making abilities, and exotic killing methods leads them to being seen as dishonorable vagabonds. That is, of course, if they are seen at all. Assassins are often members of the ninja clans.

Mechanical Considerations: None. This class synergizes extremely well with the setting, especially considering that you do not have to have levels of ninja to be in a ninja clan.


Though barbarians a typically savage warriors from the fringes of civilization (or the Underdark), there are several clans that specialize in samurai able to enter a savage fury. Of course, no one would refer to these bushi as barbarians (at least not within earshot), so they are referred to as "berserkers."

Mechanical Considerations: Barbarians who do not come from a samurai clan must spend two skill points in order to become literate.


Druids represent a more abstract form of worship then most people in the Empire of the Rising Sun. While there is a spirit in everything, druids focus on the spirits of the earth. That said, they are still looked upon with much derision within the Empire.

Mechanical Considerations: Druids are never far away from their place of worship, so their abilities are unchanged.


Elementalists cast spells by attuning themselves to elemental energy, and are essentially Shugenjas from Oriental Adventures — except they don't suck. They are used in place of sorcerers. Elementalists, like samurai, are part of the noble caste, though they do not spend too much effort in adhering to Bushido. Most of the families within the clans specialize in one particular element.

Mechanical Considerations: None.


Fighters are for bushi that want to have a little bit more versatility in combat, or be able to take on impossible odds easier. Samurai/fighters are fairly common, because such an arrangement lets the samurai take on groups of foes easier, and helps turn him from a glass cannon into a slightly-less-glass cannon. Many ronin also have levels of fighter.

Mechanical Considerations: It is recommended that PCs not be allowed to take fighter at first level, echoing the superiority of the samurai-oriented classes.

Fire Mage[edit]

Fire magi are those that focus on the element fire. They are sort of the opposite of storm lords, as far as elements are concerned. Most fire magi start off as elementalists who specialize in using fire.

Mechanical Considerations: If you really want, you can say that the PCs can only take levels in Fire Mage after taking at least 1 level of elementalist.


Geomancers harness all the elements instead of focusing on just one. Their magic is perceived as "cruder" by elementalists, and geomancers look down on elementalists in return. Geomancers are often mercenaries, using their talents to alter the terrain of a battlefield to the detriment of the opposing armies. They usually originate from heimin stock, but often rise to greater things.

Mechanical Considerations: Geomancers are usually heimin, but can be from any social class.


Jesters in the Empire of the Rising Sun do not occupy the position they are named after. In fact, the position of court jester doesn't even exist! Instead, jesters are the practitioners of the theater arts, which involve masks and/or white face paint, depending on what kind of performance it is. Of course, this does not change their attitude or bad taste in jokes.

Mechanical Considerations: If you feel like altering the name, this class can also be called the Kabuki Dancer or even the Noh artist, if you want. Other than that, they remain unchanged.


Knights in the Empire of the Rising Sun are simply samurai who focus more on defense and protection than the others. They must be honorable, as shown by their code of conduct, so they fit right in. While knights often multiclass with the other samurai classes, they do not need to start their career as samurai.

Mechanical Considerations: Knights from the Empire are not proficient with any type of shield, but they gain proficiency with one exotic weapon of their choice, and the samurai's Ancestral Weapon ability.


Among every nation there shall be leaders, and the Empire of the Rising Sun is no different. Marshals usually start their career as a member of the samurai classes, and become a great leader after a level or two. They are renowned as great generals, and most of the major daimyo have a level or two of this class. (Note: This class is not the same as the marshal created by Ghostwheel)

Mechanical Consideration: Like the fighter, it is recommended that marshals start their careers as a member of a samurai class. Alternatively, you could begin as a marshal and multiclass with a samurai class later in your career.


Since this is an Oriental themed setting, monks are very, very common. Elderly samurai often join monasteries and effectively multiclass as monks when they retire. They are so common that there are many different monasteries teaching individual styles (represented by Prestige Classes).

Mechanical Considerations: None.


Ninjas are strange people who act as terrorists, raiders, spies, assassins, and even as secret police. Not really much more to say about them.

Mechanical Considerations: It's a freakin' ninja! What more do you want?!


Like knights, paladins in the Empire of the Rising Sun are members of the samurai caste, mostly because they have a code of conduct that makes them be honorable. Paladins are some of the more devout and stronger members of the samurai, and are often commanders.

Mechanical Considerations: Paladins native to the Empire are not proficient with any shields; instead, they are proficient with one exotic weapon of their choice and possess the samurai's Ancestral Weapon ability. Because of the Empire's focus on honor rather than alignment, the paladin's smite evil ability becomes smite dishonor, and it only functions on those with an honor score of 15 or less. It is otherwise identical to the original ability. In addition, paladins only lose their class features if their honor score drops below 15, or if they break their code of conduct. Paladins have a starting honor of 21, no matter what their clan or race.


Rangers are somewhat rare in the Empire of the Rising Sun, but do exist in moderation. They are often mercenaries and/or ronin, employed by various lords for tracking and assassination. A few samurai multiclass as rangers, wishing to gain their skill in the hunt. Some members of the ninja class are also rangers.

Mechanical Considerations: None.


A rogue's trademark is adaptability, and this holds true in the Empire of the Rising sun. Rogues are as common here as anywhere, and are as varied as anywhere else. Many rogues are actually multiclass samurai seeking the stealth and extra skills that it provides. Single-class rogues are more common among the peasant and merchant classes, or among the members of the ninja clans.

Mechanical Considerations: Rogues in the Empire have no proficiency with crossbows. Instead, they gain proficiency with longbows.


Ronin are the sons and daughters of samurai who were fired from or otherwise have no lord (who are also referred to as ronin). In the Empire, they are not the most respected or pious individuals.

Mechanical Considerations: The ronin class should not be available after first level. The ronin get their philosophy from their upbringing, and even characters who find out they are ronin later should not be allowed to take levels in this class, since they were not raised that way.


You really expect me to talk about how the samurai fits into this setting? Really? This is like the ninja, I don't need to say anything.

Mechanical Considerations: If you're expecting any, you're dumb.


The sad fact is that every shadowcaster, no matter how good, gets his powers from the evil heart of Kuraigami. This makes them rare, and those shadowcasters that do exist keep a low profile, often masquerading as an elementalist. However, once the true extent of a shadowcaster's abilities is revealed, it is not long before they have a Majo-Kari on their tails.

Mechanical Considerations: It is recommended that players who decide to play this class be extremely careful about who they show their powers to. Other than that, no considerations.

Shadow Warrior[edit]

While shadow warriors can technically be of any alignment, all gain their power from the dark realm of Jigoku. Some of the ninja clans have shadow warriors, but they are rare. Most shadow warriors are evil servers of Kuraigami, the dark god; as such, even Good shadow warriors are looked on with disgust and hatred.

Mechanical Considerations: It is recommended that players not be able to join this class. They would be looked down upon more than any other class, and would be though of as evil. Save these guys for when you want an interesting ninja opponent or something.


The sohei are a breed of more weapon and armor-inclined monks. Sohei literally means "warrior monk," and they generally go around stabbing people in the face with the naginata and other reach weapons.

Mechanical Considerations: Like their monk cousins, there are no mechanical considerations for the sohei.


Soldiers are just that: soldiers. Most soldiers start their career as a samurai, but some ashigaru and ronin are exclusively soldiers.

Mechanical Considerations: It is recommended that the players be unable to take this class at first level, unless they want to be a looked down upon by the nobles for their entire career.


Sorcerers in the Empire are spellcasters who don't cast elemental magic. They are usually yobanjin from the Reito-Butsu or the Burning Sands. They are a rarity in the clans, whose noble blood usually produces elementalists. More often found among peasants than anything else, they are usually looked down upon by all the other spellcasters.

Mechanical Considerations: Sorcerers are not native to any of the clans; as such, a sorcerer character should only come from heimin stock. He will probably be looked down upon, but if you want to play a sorcerer, you'll be fine with it.

Snowsoul (3.5e Class)[edit]

Snowsouls that are members of the samurai caste usually start off as elementalists, before discovering their talents for ice magic. Because of their controlling abilities, most make good officers. Snowsouls who do are not elementalists are usually from the Reito-Butsu.

Mechanical Considerations: None.


While the Speedened aren't technically a Tome class, they are totally badass. Most speedened are part of the ninja clans, and are usually elite commanders. Their ability to act during other people's turns opens up whole new ways to annoy the players!

Mechanical Considerations: None.

Spirit Shaman[edit]

The original shaman was the Oriental Adventures' divine spellcaster, and it was redone in Complete Divine. And then it was turned into a Tome class. That said, the spirit shaman fits into the Empire of the Rising Sun very nicely. Spirit shamans are the de facto clerics of the Empire, preaching the wisdom of Shintao.

Mechanical Considerations: None. Being a class that was inspired by Japan, there is no need.

Storm Lord[edit]

The storm lords control a big ass storm, and as such get their powers directly from Osanoo, the O-Kami of storms and the sea. They are most common among the pirates and islanders, who pray to Osanoo frequently. Many storm lords are multiclass Elementalists.

Mechanical Considerations: If you really want to, you can say that players can only be a storm lord if they hail from/trained in some of the coastal islands.


Tenken are unusually fast swordsmen who practice a different style of swordsmanship: one that is incompatible with armor. Most tenken are ronin or belong to one of the various ninja clans.

Mechanical Considerations: Tenken gain proficiency with one exotic weapon of their choice.

Thief Acrobat[edit]

Like the assassin and rogue, thief acrobats are, more often then not, members of the various ninja clans. Their mastery of difficult terrain and infiltration makes them excellent at scouting out an area (that the ninja are likely to attack soon), or infiltrating a heavily armed castle and opening the gate from the inside.

Mechanical Considerations: None.


The beast souls that power the totemists come from Chikushudo. That's about the only difference.

Mechanical Considerations: None.


Warlocks are rare and generally despised. Their powers come, in some form or another, from Jigoku. As such, warlocks have few friends. They do their best to stay hidden, since majo-kari have a tendency to track them down and kill them.

Mechanical Considerations: A warlock's power comes from Jigoku. That's all the difference you need.


Wherever there's battle, there will be warmagi. Although they do not have a code of conduct, warmagi are part of the samurai caste, comparable to the knight and paladin.

Mechanical Considerations: A warmage gains the samurai's Ancestral Weapon ability, but his Ancestral Weapons do not gain the ghost touch ability.


Windseekers are usually elementalists who decide they want to specialize in air magic. Windseekers without elementalist levels are rare, but they do exist, particularly in the Mizuchi clan (where their powers are used to better control ships) and in the denizens of the Burning Sands.

Mechanical Considerations: None


Practicing arcane magic through the use of a spellbook is outlawed in the Empire. It all stems back to when a great necromancer attempted to destroy the Empire with an army of undead. After his spellbooks were burned, using such implements to cast spells was outlawed. Of course, that does not stop some from practicing in secret, and many Kuraigami worshipers are secretly wizards.

Mechanical Considerations: Wizards are forbidden for player characters. The only wizards in the Empire are the necromancers who worship Kuraigami, and if if the PC is not an evil necromancer, wizards are to be killed on sight and have their spellbooks burned.

Monster Base Classes[edit]

Since there are only four monster base classes in Tome, and a few more in the later expansions, I'll talk about all of them.

Fiendish Brute[edit]

The fiendish brutes form the brunt fighting force of Jigoku. They abound in the Realm of Evil, often coming through the Festering pit, crossing the Burning Sands, and invading the Empire. Many of the hidden dwarves are fiendish brutes.
Mechanical Considerations: Fiendish brutes should rarely be player characters. Because they unerringly hail from Jigoku in some form or another, they are pretty much always evil.

Conduit of the Lower Planes[edit]

Conduits are often members of the fiendish races or tieflings. They are the ambassadors of Jigoku to cultures other than the Empire, and often teach evil magic users how to gain access to fiendish spheres.
Mechanical Considerations: Again, conduits should not be PCs. They make good NPC enemies, and some allies of Jigoku have levels of conduit.

True Fiend[edit]

True fiends are the great Oni lords of Jigoku, and they control the vast hordes of lesser demons. They are powerful, deadly, and wholly evil beings that seek to destroy the Empire and the world for their dark master, Kuraigami.
Mechanical Considerations: True fiends make awesome NPC enemies, especially if you include a Jigoku invasion plot into your adventure. A lot of them sit at the Steep Slope of Shadow, so an adventure about destroying Jigoku's connection to the mortal realm would undoubtedly involve them, too.


Genie rarely make any appearance in Ningen-do, but they are the direct ambassadors of the Elemental Dragons that inhabit Tengoku. Invested with the powers of the elements, they are forces to be reckoned with. Pretty much every Elementalist reveres them.
Mechanical Considerations: They should not be available to player characters. Other than that, no real mechanical consideration.

Elemental Brute[edit]

Elemental Brutes are kami representatives of some of the less subtle, more violent aspects of the world. They can be seen in Ningen-do around storms, landslides, wildfires, and so on, and as bodyguards of genies and similar ambassadors of the elemental dragons. They are also common in Tengoku and Ashura-do, in the latter both as natives and as kidnapped creatures from Tengoku. Occasionally some freak event transforms an ordinary mortal from Ningen-do into an Elemental Brute.
Mechanical Considerations: Races that qualify for Elemental Brute are not allowed for players in most games. Other than that, no real mechanical considerations.

Elemental Weird[edit]

Elemental Weirds are, like Elemental Brutes, kami, who directly wield the powers of the elements. They fulfill similar roles in the setting to Genies, and often serve as attendants and advisors to powerful genie nobility, and as oracles in out-of-the-way areas of Ningen-do and Tengoku. Indeed, it is Elemental Weirds more than anything else that serve as the Elemental Oracles responsible for creating and closing links between Tengoku and Ningen-do.
Mechanical Considerations: Elemental Weirds should not be player characters. Other than that, no real mechanical consideration.

Prestige Classes[edit]

There are always more prestige classes then base classes, and the Tomes are no exception. There are fifty-six prestige classes in the Compiled Tomes, so I'm not going to tell you which ones you can't use. That's up to the DM. Instead, this space will be for the prestige classes that aren't part of the compiled tomes that are on the wiki and fit, as well as for the more Eastern-inspired prestige classes of Tome.


In the Empire of the Rising Sun, the butoh are the eyes and ears of the ninja clans. They disguise themselves as retainers' assistants, farmers, and even samurai. They are usually not used as assassins, but when they are commissioned for assassination, it takes a very long time for them to actually do it, since they have to slowly ascend through the chain of command.

Mechanical Considerations: None.

Crusader of the Elemental Forces[edit]

Samurai who become Crusaders of the Elemental Forces are similar to Elemental Champions, but instead of actually serving the elemental dragons, they use their elemental powers to serve their lord. Crusaders are rare, but extremely powerful individuals.

Mechanical Considerations: None.

Demon Samurai[edit]

Demon samurai are the corrupted souls of warriors who serve the dark lords of Jigoku. While they may eventually break free of their servitude, most demon samurai serve their masters loyally in an attempt to eventually undermine the world of the living.

Mechanical Considerations: Because so many more classes in this setting gain the Ancestral Weapon ability, many more classes can thus become Demon Samurai. There are no other mechanical considerations.


Most demons are very big creatures, so it only makes sense that some samurai would be trained specifically for killing them, as well as other monstrosities from Jigoku. Since their abilities are somewhat weaker when used against normal-sized opponents, the Dragoons are their own special order that only ever does something against the forces of evil.

Mechanical Considerations: None.

Drunken Master[edit]

Drunken Masters are common in the seedy heart of the Empire's cities. Ronin often end up as drunken masters, as do disheartened monks. The Bando clan employs several powerful drunken masters.

Elemental Champion[edit]

Elemental champions are samurai who have decided to switch allegiance from their lord to one of the elemental dragons. They become truly fearsome servitors of their chosen elemental.

Mechanical Considerations: None.

Fuuma Ninja[edit]

The Fuuma clan is more shadowy then the usual ninja clan, serving no lord. Their only purpose is to overthrow the entire caste system, and they do not care what means they have to go through to achieve this end.

Mechanical Considerations: Fuuma ninja may not have an honor score above 10 to qualify for this prestige class, along with the other requirements.

Henkan Mystic[edit]

Henkan mystics are monks who follow the Way, but in a slightly different form then the others. Unlike other Waywalkers, who seek to reach enlightenment for themselves in this lifetime, henkan mystics wish for themselves and everyone to achieve enough karma to be reincarnated into Tengoku as gods. It is a little audacious, but they sincerely wish divinity for all.

Mechanical Considerations: None. I adapted this class primarily for this setting, so its good as is.

Iaijutsu Master[edit]

Iaijutsu masters are samurai and ronin (usually) who focus on killing an opponent with one powerful, incredibly fast draw-cut.

Mechanical Considerations: None. Even though this class does not use Tome feats, there are no Tome feats that would work in place of the normal feats, so its staying the same.

Imperial Policeman[edit]

The imperial policemen used to operate under the authority of the shogun, but with his death their power has been somewhat shattered. They still try and uphold the law, and are overseen by the Censors, who have ties to the ninja and will eliminate any imperial policeman who breaks the law. Of course, this has not stopped some evil policemen from gaming the system and not breaking the law while still abusing their power.

Mechanical Considerations: While the shogun is dead, so their authority technically comes from no source, the imperial police carry on. There are no mechanical considerations.


The majo-kari are a legion of elementalists and spirit shamans dedicated to removing any encroachers from Jigoku. They are known to hunt down powerful demons for extremely long periods of time with no ill effects, and are also famed as necromancer killers.

Mechanical Considerations: Considering that I made this prestige class for this setting, there aren't any.

Name Mage[edit]

Name magi are the leaders of the various sorcerers throughout the Empire. Some become potent servants of Jigoku, summoning demons from the depths of hell and using their powers over True Names to coerce said demon into doing foul acts. Others prefer to use their power of Names to combat evil and erase people from existence.

Mechanical Considerations: In the Empire, the Transcendent dwell in Yume-do, and that is where the Name magi go if they are banished after reaching 10th level.


The ninja prestige class is for rogues, assassins, thief-acrobats, and even jesters who are already part of a ninja clan but want to gain more ninja-esque abilities. Those with levels of the Ninja base class need not apply.

Mechanical Considerations: Again, it's a ninja! I don't think it needs any mechanical considerations.

Nito Master[edit]

The nito master prestige class is for those samurai and ronin who want to be able to wield their katana and wakizashi at the same time to kick some serious ass. They become great bastions of defense, and can always find work as bodyguards.

Mechanical Considerations: To qualify for this prestige class, you must have an honor score higher than 15.

Sumo Overkill[edit]

It's a sumo, and while it is sort of a silly class, it does have the flavor of feudal Japan. Everyone in the Empire loves a good sumo match, so why not make some fun NPCs about that?

Mechanical Considerations:


Shadowdancers are exclusively worshippers of Kuraigami or members of the Dark Council who have managed to set their shadow free to help them in their dark deeds. They are extremely dangerous, and are the bane of the Majo-Kari.

Mechanical Considerations: If players are not allowed to be part of the Dark Council or the Cult of Kuraigami, then they cannot become Shadowdancers. Otherwise, no considerations.


The shinsengumi is a prestige class often taken by tenken who want to improve their abilities to where they can kill opponents with a single, vicious strike. While they are somewhat rare, many members of the Imperial Police are shinsengumi, as are a few assassins.

Mechanical Considerations: None.


Many daimyo and samurai have levels in shubosha. Because of its emphasis on Charisma, many ronin join this class as well. They eventually have enough power, influence, and loyal retainers that they can make their own minor clans.

Mechanical Considerations: The shubosha must have some influence within a clan of some kind. Since there are ronin families, it is entirely possible for a ronin to go on and create their own minor clan.


Soulseared usually arise among fire magi or elementalists who accidentally burned themselves, but were too honorable to have it healed. Some soulseared are samurai or warriors of some kind who had a negative meeting with fire. No matter what the cause, soulseared are deadly, if not necessarily evil, individuals.

Mechanical Considerations: None.

Sword Dancer[edit]

Sword dancers are eccentric warriors who focus on casting spells, being acrobatic, and hopping around like a maniac. Oh yeah, they can also enchant their blades, which makes specialized magic weapons (such as flaming swords) pretty useless to them.

Mechancial Considerations: None.


Waywalkers are the followers of the teachings of Nonemu, who hope to attain enlightenment. They also gain powers associated with the elements. Many waywalkers go into the Burning Sands to combat the evil that spews from the vile Slope of Shadow.

Mechanical Considerations: None.

Sublime Classes[edit]

These are how the classes introduced in Tome of Battle and Complete Sublime work in this setting. If you do not have Tome of Battle, you can completely disregard this section. Disciplines commonly practiced in the Empire are: Anima River, Devoted Spirit, Diamond Mind, Eloquent Speech, Infinite Lotus, Iron Heart, Setting Sun, and White Raven. This does not mean that other disciplines are not practiced, it merely means that they are the most popular ones (Shadow Hand, for example, is only practiced by the sublime adepts of the ninja clans). Ultimately, it is up to the DM to decide whether an "underground" discipline may be practiced by your character.

Battle Scholar[edit]

Battle scholars are fairly common among the merchants and peasants, who study the scrolls of martial adepts and watch samurai fight in great duels. While they appear to be little more then ordinary men, battle scholars are the true protectors of the towns.


Crusaders are warriors of the Kami, and usually derive their power from Hachiman or Bishamonten, though several scholars have theorized that Ashura-do itself powers them. They are messengers of their faith, and are some of the strongest combatants fighting against Jigoku. Some Evil crusaders get their power from Kurai-gami, but they are rare.

Darkwraith Assassin[edit]

Darkwraith assassins are the thing of nightmares and child's tales. They are the most skilled, most fearsome, and some of the most powerful assassins in the ranks of the ninja. Few survive an encounter with a darkwraith assassin.

Mystic Cenobite[edit]

Mystic cenobite monasteries are scattered throughout the Empire, being somewhat less populous then the other monastic disciplines. Peasants are more likely to join the ranks of the mystic cenobites than the other traditions.

Mechanical Considerations: Mystic cenobites use honor scores rather than alignment to determine whether they can join. Mystic cenobites need a score higher then 15 to become a mystic cenobite and keep their abilities.

Paladin of the Sublime Way[edit]

Sublime paladins have the same function and mechanical considerations of normal paladins. The only difference is that they use maneuvers instead of spells.


Swordsages are common among the stock of warriors that make up the samurai caste. They are similar to a monk/samurai hybrid, and generally focus on the more esoteric and mystical aspects of combat. Powerful swordsages easily rise to fame in civil unrest of the Empire. They are champions of balance and clarity.


Warblades are the most common users of the sublime way, as they are the class most often used by the samurai. Their devotion to their blades is even greater then their devotion to their lord.

Back to Main Page3.5e HomebrewCampaign SettingsThe Empire of the Rising Sun