Shugenja (Apath)

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Unofficial rules compendium

The shugenja is an alternate class for the sorcerer with access to cleric and druid spells, combining the offense of an arcanist, the nature control of the druid, and the inspiration of cleric magic. With its complex way of learning spells and versatile spell list, the shugenja is a difficult class to play, requiring a great deal of system mastery.

Class Information

This is a sorcerer archetype.

Hit Die: d6.

Class Background

A class inspired by the mythologies of Asian cultures, the shugenja is a spellcaster who casts spells by attuning himself to the spirits and primal energies around him and focusing such energy through his body to produce magical effects. A development of animism, the shugenja combines animism, religion, philosophy, and arcana.

The shugenja is an educated class and begins in the oldest age bracket for starting age.

Religion: Shugenjas strive to encompass the entirety of spiritual understanding. They study the ways of the spirits, youkai, ancestors, philosophers, elements, and deities and incorporate all of this into their spiritual journey. Some shugenja serve a patron deity, but this is a minority, and the dedication to a patron is much less than that of a typical cleric; it is common for a shugenja to change patrons when changing temple or order.

Races: Most shugenja are human, they need a combination of open-mindedness and devotion not often found in non-human races. Halflings, half-elves, and half-orcs practice shugendo, but most other humanoids are too close to spirits themselves to make good shugenja.

Abilities: Charisma determines how powerful a spell a shugenja can cast, how many spells the shugenja can cast per day, and how hard those spells are to resist. Charisma is also helpful in securing the cooperation of youkai. A good Intelligence gives a shugenja helpful skills and improve lore and calligraphic abilities, but is not strictly necessary.

Class Information

Shugenja have the following game statistics.

Alignment: Any.

Hit Die: d6.

Class Skills

The shugenja’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Heal (Wis), Knowledge (all skills, taken individually) (Int), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Spellcraft (Int), and Survival (Wis).

Skill Points at Each Level: 4 + Int modifier.

Table: Shugenja

Base Attack
Special Spells per Day Spells Known
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
1st +0 +0 +0 +2 Cantrips and orisons, ofudas, personal and spirit spells 3 4+4 2+2
2nd +1 +0 +0 +3 Youkai lore 3 5+5 2+2
3rd +1 +1 +1 +3 Detect youkai 4 5+5 3+3
4th +2 +1 +1 +4 5 3 6+6 3+3 1+1
5th +2 +1 +1 +4 Exorcism 6 4 6+6 4+4 2+2
6th +3 +2 +2 +5 6 5 3 7+7 4+4 2+2 1+1
7th +3 +2 +2 +5 6 6 4 7+7 5+5 3+3 2+2
8th +4 +2 +2 +6 6 6 5 3 8+8 5+5 3+3 2+2 1+1
9th +4 +3 +3 +6 Bind youkai 6 6 6 4 8+8 5+5 4+4 3+3 2+2
10th +5 +3 +3 +7 6 6 6 5 3 9+9 5+5 4+4 3+3 2+2 1+1
11th +5 +3 +3 +7 6 6 6 6 4 9+9 5+5 5+5 4+4 3+3 2+2
12th +6/+1 +4 +4 +8 6 6 6 6 5 3 9+9 5+5 5+5 4+4 3+3 2+2 1+1
13th +6/+1 +4 +4 +8 6 6 6 6 6 4 9+9 5+5 5+5 4+4 4+4 3+3 2+2
14th +7/+2 +4 +4 +9 6 6 6 6 6 5 3 9+9 5+5 5+5 4+4 4+4 3+3 2+2 1+1
15th +7/+2 +5 +5 +9 Spirit destination 6 6 6 6 6 6 4 9+9 5+5 5+5 4+4 4+4 4+4 3+3 2+2
16th +8/+3 +5 +5 +10 6 6 6 6 6 6 5 3 9+9 5+5 5+5 4+4 4+4 4+4 3+3 2+2 1+1
17th +8/+3 +5 +5 +10 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 4 9+9 5+5 5+5 4+4 4+4 4+4 4+4 3+3 2+2
18th +9/+4 +6 +6 +11 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 5 3 9+9 5+5 5+5 4+4 4+4 4+4 4+4 3+3 2+2 1+1
19th +9/+4 +6 +6 +11 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 4 9+9 5+5 5+5 4+4 4+4 4+4 4+4 4+4 3+3 2+2
20th +10/+5 +6 +6 +12 Higher loyalty 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 5 9+9 5+5 5+5 4+4 4+4 4+4 4+4 4+4 3+3 3+3

Class Features

All of the following are class features of the shugenja.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Shugenjas are proficient with all simple weapons and with the short sword (and wakizashi if using eastern weapons). They are not proficient with any type of armor or shields. Armor interferes with a shugenja's movements, which can cause his spells with somatic components to fail.


A shugenja casts arcane spells. They draw upon two distinct sources of power and have two different spell lists. They have personal spells drawn from the cleric spell list and spirit spells drawn from the druid or sorcerer/wizard spell lists. To learn or cast a spell, a shugenja must have a Charisma score equal to at least 10 + the spell level. The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against a shugenja’s spell is 10 + the spell level + the shugenja’s Charisma modifier.

Shugenja meditate for their spells. A shugenja must be well rested (8 hours of rest) and spend 15 minutes in quiet contemplation to regain his daily allotment of spell slots. Like other spellcasters, a shugenja can cast only a certain number of spells of each spell level per day. His base daily spell allotment is given on Table: Shugenja. In addition, he receives bonus spells per day if he has a high Charisma score. He can cast any spell he knows at any time, assuming he has not yet used up his allotment of spells per day for the spell’s level. Youkai spells and personal spells share a common pool of spell slots. The shugenja can cast any spell he knows without preparing it ahead of time.


Shugenjas do not have spellbooks, but they write their spells on ofudas. An ofuda is normally a strip of paper or cloth with calligraphic script on it, but in a pinch any readable script is acceptable, including hastily scratched coal marks on a wall, letters scratched in blood on the shugenja's own body, or glowing symbols in the air written using prestidigitation. A shugenja is normally assumed to have prepared ofudas for all his spells (at no cost) during the spell preparation process—creating one on the fly is a move action requiring Craft (Calligraphy) check with a DC of 10 + spell level.

Using an ofuda is a somatic component. An ofuda can substitute for a material component (as long as that component is free). Simply writing the name of the spell or of a material component on an ofuda allows the shugenja to substitute the ofuda for the actual material component.

Personal and Youkai Spells

Shugenja learn spells from their experiences in the world, but also from free or enshrined spirit creatures known as youkai. To reflect this, a shugenja has two sets of spells - one selection picked from the cleric spell list that is a result of his personal power, and another taken from the druid or sorcerer/wizard spell list reflecting power lent him by youkai. This is the meaning of the X+X notation in the Spells Known section of Table: Shugenja. These are called personal and youkai spells, respectively. Each pool of spells is potentially equally large, but while personal (cleric) spells are learned automatically, youkai spells have to be learned as a part of the shugenja's travels and adventures.

All spells on the cleric, druid, and sorcerer/wizard spell lists are considered to be on the shugenja's spell list. This is significant in regard to spell trigger and spell completion items and makes a huge selection of such items available to the shugenja.

Personal Spells

A shugenja picks any personal (cleric) spells desired when advancing in level. At each new shugenja level, he gains one or more new spells, as indicated on Table: Shugenja. (Unlike spells per day, the number of spells a shugenja knows is not affected by his Charisma score; the numbers on Table: Shugenja are fixed.) It is common to pick generic cleric spells of high utility as personal spells, using youkai spells give the shugenja flair.

Upon reaching 4th level, and at every even-numbered shugenja level after that (6th, 8th, and so on), a shugenja can choose to learn a new personal spell in place of one he already knows. In effect, the shugenja loses the old spell in exchange for the new one. The new spell's level must be the same as that of the spell being exchanged. A shugenja may swap only a single spell at any given level, and must choose whether or not to swap the spell at the same time that he gains new spells known for the level.

Youkai Spells

Shugenja also posses the capacity to learn a number of youkai spells equal to the number of personal spells he knows. Youkai spells are picked form the druid or sorcerer/wizard spell lists, and acquiring them requires the cooperation of animals or supernatural creatures, as outlined below.

To learn a youkai (druid or sorcerer/wizard) spell, the shugenja must be in the presence of an unresisting creature of the appropriate type—this can be either a cooperative creature, one affected by binding, a summoned creature, a called creature, or one rendered unable to resist by other means such as by being unconscious or paralyzed or even recently dead or destroyed (the ritual must begin within 1 minute). The challenge rating of the creature must be twice as high as the level of spell to be learned. The creature intuitively understands what the shugenja is trying to do, and while spell learning has no immediate cost to the creature, most creatures do not lightly share their powers with a passing shugenja. The exception is that creatures with a subtype such as "[Water]") gladly teach spells of a matching subtype or descriptor—such as (Water) or (cold). These spells are often taught for free as a means of spreading the influence of the creature's power source in the world. Otherwise creatures will generally demand some test, trial, or price to help. Social skills can be a great asset in this; a creature that is made friendly will generally teach spells for only a nominal fee or service and a helpful one will teach spells for free. An creature of Intelligence 4 or less will teach spells to any shugenja who it allows to touch it or who it has been ordered to cooperate with. A summoned, helpless, or dead creature has no say in the matter.

Youkai spells from creatures, by school or class
  • Druid spells - Animal or Plant
  • Abjuration - Ooze
  • Conjuration - Outsider
  • Divination - Aberration
  • Enchantment - Fey
  • Evocation - Humanoid with giant subtype
  • Illusion - Monstrous humanoid
  • Necromancy - Undead
  • Transmutation - Magical beast
  • Universal - Fey, magical beast, humanoid with giant subtype, monstrous humanoid, outsider, or undead
Spell schools by creature type
  • Aberration - Divination school
  • Animal - Druid spells
  • Fey - Enchantment, Illusion, or Universal schools
  • Humanoid with giant subtype - Evocation or Universal schools
  • Magical Beast - Transmutation or Universal schools
  • Monstrous humanoid - Illusion or Universal schools
  • Ooze - Abjuration school
  • Outsider - Conjuration or Universal schools
  • Plant - Druid spells
  • Undead - Necromancy or Universal schools

The second column is the first column sorted by creature type - it contains the same information, presented differently.

Dragons are special in this regard, a dragon can teach a spell of any school. Animals and humanoids without racial hit dice (like player races) do not teach spells to shugenja. Nor do eidolons, familiars, or animal companions.

Example: Mariko bargains with an efreet. This is an "outsider (extraplanar, fire)" with a challenge rating of 8. Since the efteet is an outsider, it teaches conjuration spells and because of it's fire subtype it teaches fire spells. Mariko can learn any number of conjuration school spell of 4th level or lower at a cost. The efreet is eager to spread spells of the [Fire] subtype and will teach those for free.

Once the cooperation of the creature is secured, learning the spell is a fairly simple procedure and only takes a full-round action. One youkai can teach multiple spells to one or more shugenja, each taking one full-round action to learn. There is still a strict limit on the number of youkai spells a shugenja can know of each level - the same as the shugenja's limit on personal spells. Replacing an old spell is simply a matter of letting it go as you learn a new one - you get to pick which of the old spells to forget.

The shugenja must have heard of a spell to be able to learn it. Shugenja are assumed to know of most spells, but for uncommon or esoteric spells, the GM may require a Knowledge (Arcana) Check DC 5 + 5 per spell level. Some spells might be judged so secret that no roll is allowed, but this should only happen in special cases, such as when a new spell has recently been created in great secrecy. A shugenja automatically knows of any spell he has seen the effects of, even if he doesn't know its name.

Cantrips and Orisons

Shugenja learn a number of cantrips and orisons, or 0-level spells, as noted on Table: Shugenja under “Spells Known.” These spells are cast like any other spell, but they do not consume any slots and may be used again. Like spells of higher level, shugenja can learn both personal (orison) and youkai (cantrip or orison) spells of level zero. A youkai of any challenge rating can teach a cantrip.

Youkai Lore (Ex)

The shugenja has devoted his life to study of the youkai, and knows intricate details of their abilities and habits. Add half your shugenja level to any Knowledge check to recall pertinent information about a youkai. If this roll succeeds, the shugenja knows how to behave to influence the youkai and gains the same bonus on Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidation, or Sense Motive check against that youkai within the next 24 hours. This is in addition to the normal information gained on a successful knowledge check.

Detect Youkai (Sp)

A 3rd level shugenja perceives nearby youkai. At will, the shugenja can use detect youkai as a spell-like ability. It functions just like detect undead, except it detects youkai. A shugenja can, as a move action, concentrate on a single item or individual within 60 feet and determine if it is a youkai or has been in contact with youkai, learning the strength of its aura as if having studied it for 3 rounds. While focusing on one individual or object, the shugenja does not detect youkai in any other object or individual within range.

Exorcism (Sp)

At 5th level the shugenja learns to exorcise at will. This is a full-round action with a range of 30 ft. Many creatures are aware of this range limitation and will try to avoid getting caught near the shugenja. Exorcism has the effect of sessile spirit, except that a possessing creature is immediately expelled and cannot possess another creature for 1 hour. The save DC of sessile spirit is to 10 + ½ the shugenja's level + his Charisma modifier.

Bind Youkai (Sp)

A 9th level shugenja shaman can attempt to seal a youkai once per day at level nine, plus one time per day for every three additional shugenja levels. This works like the binding spell, with a save DC of 10 + half the shugenja’s level + shugenja’s Charisma modifier. It can only affect youkai. A shaman or shugenja with this ability can aid another's binding attempt and adds one-third their level to user’s level for the purpose of the ability. As long as any shaman or shugenja holds a ceremony at the binding spot or object before the current binding ends, the effect is extended automatically if the new duration extends longer than the old one. Often, a shrine is built at the spot of an important binding, and shamans, shugenja, and passers-by alike perform services there to placate the youkai and renew the binding.

Spirit Destination (Sp)

At 15th level a shugenja using plane shift arrives within one to six miles of his final destination. The shugenja needs to know plane shift as either a personal or youkai spell to use this ability.

Higher Loyalty (Su)

At 20th level a shugenja learns the mental discipline to overcome adversity. A shugenja of this level under a lasting power or spell gets a saving throw at the end of each of his turns to throw that effect off. If a save is normally allowed, repeat the inital save. If no save is normally allowed, higher loyalty allows a Will save with a DC of 10 + ½ the enemy's hit dice + the enemy's Charisma modifier.


The shugenja is an complex class to play. With its extremely wide selection of spells, the player needs an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the spell lists in the game. The GM is encouraged to give the shugenja some lassitude in finding creatures to teach him spells to make a satisfying story.

What is a Youkai?

Several of the animists' and shugenja's abilities affect youkai. For purposes of the these abilities, a “youkai” includes all of the following creatures:

  • All aberrations
  • Constructs except those of the clockwork or robot subtypes.
  • All dragons
  • All fey
  • All magical beasts
  • All monstrous humanoids
  • Humanoids of the giant or shapechanger subtypes
  • All outsiders
  • All creatures of the Plant type (not normal plants)
  • All undead
  • Creatures created by spells, such as animate object.
  • Creatures summoned by spells, such as summon nature's ally.
  • Creatures in astral, ethereal, or incorporeal form, or who are possessing another creature or objects, such as by the magic jar spell.

Animists see elementals and fey as youkai of nature and undead as youkai of the dead. Magical beasts, constructs, plants, giants, monstrous humanoids, and aberrations are either youkai-possessed or youkai bound in corporeal form. Animists see the creation of constructs that are not youkai as an abomination, a reduction of the spiritual value of the world.

A simple way to change the animists' power level is to change what creatures are youkai in your game. At a bare minimum, dragons, fey, outsiders, and undead should be youkai. A more generous definition of youkai might include all constructs, dinosaurs, dire animals, animals with an alignment template (like celestial or fiendish) and vermin. A truly generous definition could include anyone capable of casting 7th level spells, which makes high level spellcasters into youkai, including animists themselves.

Enshrined Youkai

In cultures where animists and shugenja are common, it is normal practice to enshrine youkai. Often, a shrine is built at the spot of an important binding, animists and passers-by alike perform services there to placate the youkai and renew the binding. This uses the bind youkai power, and the bound youkai is not hidden away. Rather it is made into the focal point of a shrine or temple, venerated, and kept placated. Whole religious orders can be dedicated to keeping a powerful or destructive youkai sealed. Shugenja seek out such shrines because they can learn spells from them, but those guarding such a site often demand some kind of service or fee from a strange shugenja before they let him into the presence of the youkai. A normal fee would be the same as that for casting a spell of the level the youkai can teach.

Experienced Shugenja and Youkai Spells

When generating a shugenja of higher than than 1st level, the character is assumed to have a previous career behind him, and has learned some youkai spells. In general, all youkai spells the shugenja had at the level before the current level can be considered to be known, the 'spells known' taken up by spells of the player's choice. The shugenja thus starts with a few open youkai spell slots, but the majority of them are already filled.

See Also

  • Maven a shugenja archetype similar to wizard

External Links

Spellcasting Guides

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