|Unofficial rules compendium|
The shugenja is a divine spellcaster with access to many spells that are normally arcane, making it potentially very powerful, combining the offense of an arcanist and the team buffs of divine magic. With its rather complex way of learning spells and versatile spell list with many potential combinations, the shugenja is a very difficult class to play, requiring a great deal of system mastery.
A class inspired by the mythologies of Asian cultures, the shugenja is a divine 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. Something of a development of the shaman, the shugenja combines animism, religion, and philosophy.
Adventures: Shugenjas often adventure to increase their magical knowledge and personal power. They are particularly drawn to investigate disturbances in the natural harmony and life of the spirits. Some shugenjas dedicate their lives to keeping the world’s magic in balance, while others simply crave the power that the unchecked elements offer. Still others are drawn to plumb the depths of magic for magic's own sake.
Characteristics: Shugenjas are much more than spell-slinging sorcerers. In a fantasy culture inspired by real-world Japan, they can be the foundation of religious life — priests who teach the rituals of piety, venerate the memory of long-departed ancestors, and measure the passage of time. They study for years to learn even the fundamental elements of their magical practice, and are the most literate class in many quasi-Asian societies.
Alignment: While many shugenjas attempt to follow the standards of honor and loyalty, and thus adhere to a lawful alignment, not all shugenjas live up to those standards. Shugenjas have no alignment restrictions.
Religion: Shugenjas strive to encompass the entirety of spiritual understanding. They study the ways of the spirits, 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 it is not uncommon for a shugenja to change patrons when changing temple or order.
Background: Shugenjas learn the practice of magic in religious orders attached to each clan or region. Gifted young shugenja are often sent out into the world to find realization on their own. Others stay with their orders and become temple servants, teachers, or priests. Shugenja need not renounce their ties to the physical world, they continue to be members of the clans and families they were born into, sometimes keeping their identity as shugenja hidden as they live out their normal lives. The shugenja is an educated class and begins in the oldest age bracket for starting age.
Races: Most shugenja are human, they need a combination of open-mindedness and devotion not often found in non-human races. Dwarfs, halflings, half-elves, and half-orcs can practice shugendo, but elves and gnomes are too close to spirits themselves to make good shugenja.
Relations: Shugenjas wisely understand that different classes have specialized skills and abilities often needed for success. While they hold their path to truth and insight to be superior, they are open to assistance and insight from other classes. Most shugenja prefer the company of a strong warrior to act as a bodyguard. A shaman and a shugenja makes a great team, the shugenja educated and learned, the shaman full of intuitive power.
Role: Each shugenja walks his own path trough life. Through his devotion and study, as expressed through skill and spell selection, each shugenja prepares for his own life trials. Still, few shugenjas are warriors, and most devote themselves mainly to healing and support.
Game Rule Information
Shugenjas have the following game statistics.
Abilities: Wisdom 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 helpful in securing the cooperation of spirits, and several of the shugenja's class abilities key of Charisma. A good Intelligence gives a shugenja helpful skills and improve lore and calligraphic abilities, but is not strictly necessary.
Hit Die: d6.
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: The Shugenja
| Base Attack
|Special||Spells per Day||Spells Known|
|1st||+0||+0||+0||+2||Shugenja taboo, spirit lore||2||4+4||2+2|
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, nor with shields. It is generally considered inappropriate for a shugenja to wear armor, although shugenjas serving with the military or traveling in foreign lands sometimes take the time to learn how to wear armor properly. Armor does not interfere with his spellcasting unless he has the taboo against metal.
A shugenja casts divine spells drawn from the cleric spell list and spirit spells drawn from the sorcerer/wizard spell list. To learn or cast a spell, a shugenja must have a Wisdom 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 Wisdom modifier.
Shugenja meditate or pray for their spells. Each shugenja must choose a time at which he must spend 1 hour each day in quiet contemplation or supplication to regain his daily allotment of spell slots. Time spent resting has no effect on whether a shugenja can prepare spells. A shugenja need not prepare his spells in advance. 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. He can cast any spell he knows without preparing it ahead of time. 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 Wisdom score.
Personal and Spirit Spells
Shugenja learn spells from their experiences in the world, but also from free or enshrined spirit creatures. 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 spiritual power, and another taken from the druid or sorcerer/wizard spell list reflecting power lent his by spirits. This is the meaning of the X+X notation in the Spells Known section of Table: The Shugenja. These are called personal and spirit spells, respectively. Each pool of spells is potentially equally large, but while personal (cleric) spells are learned automatically, spirit spells taken from the other spell lists 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.
A shugenja picks any personal (cleric) spells desired when advancing in level. At each new level as a shugenja, he gains one or more new spells, as indicated on Table: The Shugenja. (Unlike spells per day, the number of spells a shugenja knows is not affected by his Wisdom score; the numbers on Table: The Shugenja are fixed.) It is common to pick generic, "bland" cleric spells of high utility as personal spells, using spirit 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.
Shugenja also posses the capacity to learn a number of spirit spells equal to the number of personal spells he knows. Spirit 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 spirit (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 of death). 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 damage - 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 unintelligent creature 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.
|Spirit spells from creatures, by school or class
||Spell schools by creature type
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. Mariko can learn any number of conjuration school spell of 4th level or lower. The efreet is eager to spread any Conjuration spells of the [Fire] type 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 spirit 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 spirit 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 or Religion, as appropriate) Check DC 10 + 3 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 secret order has created a new spell. 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: The 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 spirit (cantrip) spells of level zero.
Ofudas: Shugenjas do not have spellbooks, but they write their spells on ofudas. These ofudas serve as divine focus items and must be presented strongly as part of the spellcasting process of spells that require a divine focus. Each spell with a divine focus component requires a separate ofuda. An ofuda can also substitute for a material component as long as that component is free. Simply writing the kanji (chinese character) for that material component on an ofuda allows the shugenja to substitute the ofuda for the actual component.
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.
Alignment and Spells: Like a cleric, a shugenja can never use a spell of an alignment opposed to his own (or that of his patron, if he has a patron).
Metamagic: When casting metamagic spells, remember that the shugenja has not prepared the spell in advance, and is doing so on the spot. They can choose when they cast their spells whether to apply their metamagic feats to improve them. As with other spell casters, the improved spell uses up a higher-level spell slot. Because the shugenja has not prepared the spell in a metamagic form in advance, he must apply the metamagic feat on the spot. Therefore, he must also take more time to cast a metamagic spell (one enhanced by a metamagic feat) than he does to cast a regular spell. If the spell's normal casting time is a standard action, casting a metamagic version is a full-round action for a shugenja. (This isn't the same as a 1-round casting time.) The only exception is for spells modified by the Quicken Spell metamagic feat, which can be cast as normal using the feat.
For a spell with a longer casting time, it takes an extra full-round action to cast the spell.
Each shugenja has a taboo, an act that is prohibited and disrupts their link to the spirit world. A shugenja who breaks their taboo is unable to cast shugenja spells or use any of his supernatural or spell-like class abilities while doing so and for 24 hours thereafter. Select one taboo from this list.
- Taboo of Metal: Metal is the manifestation of man’s dominion over nature and at odds with the natural order of the spirits. The shugenja may not wear metal armor (all armor except cloth, leather and hide) but may use metal weapons. Wooden armor affected by the ironwood spell are allowed. This taboo is common among back-to-nature shugenja.
- Taboo of Death: Ill health is a barrier to the spirit world, one the shugenja dares not come near. Touching or healing a wound, disease, or infection breaks this taboo, as does touching a newly dead body. The shugenja can safely use the Heal skill and spells on himself and on spirits. Others can be healed, but doing so breaks the taboo after the healing spell or ability has been used. The shugenja can deal freely with undead. This taboo is from shinto and common in Japan-inspired settings.
- Taboo of Clan: The shugenja cannot talk to strangers without losing power. He can never use Charisma-based skills, speak to, or otherwise communicate with those not in his clan or tribal group, tough listening to them is allowed. Adopted members of the tribe and other established close allies can be communicated with. Adventuring shugenjas can communicate with their fellow party members, but not with strangers. The shugenja can communicate with spirits of all kinds without breaking this taboo. This taboo is common in isolated communities or insular clan schools.
- Taboo of Gender: The shugenja must not touch, heal, or communicate with members of one gender, as in Taboo of tribe and taboo of death, above. This is often but not always the opposite gender. This taboo also extends to spirits of this gender. Fighting against members of the forbidden gender is allowed. This taboo is common in conservative, monastic schools.
Spirit Lore (Ex)
The shugenja has devoted his life to study of the spirits, and knows intricate details of their abilities and habits. Add half your shugenja level to any Knowledge check to recall pertinent information about a spirit. For each piece of information you learn about the spirit, you also remember one custom or personality quirk about the creature that can be exploited to give a one-time +5 bonus on one Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidation, or Sense Motive check against that spirit within the next 24 hours. This is usually some mannerism or behavioral tag, such as flattery, calling the creature by a certain title, or adopting a certain posture. Sometimes it can involve a ceremonial gift or bribe, but these are never expensive and generally easily improvised. You can give this information to another character to use or use it yourself, but you can get no more than a +5 bonus on any one skill check. This is in addition to the normal information gained on a successful knowledge check.
Detect Spirits (Sp)
The shugenja perceives nearby spirits. At will, the shugenja can use detect spirits as a spell-like ability. It functions just like detect undead, except it detects spirits. A shugenja can, as a move action, concentrate on a single item or individual within 60 feet and determine if it is a spirit or has been in contact with spirits, 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 spirits in any other object or individual within range.
At will, as a full-round action, a shugenja can force a possessing creature or spirit within 30 ft. out of the body or object it inhabits (for example, a ghost with the malevolence ability). The creature is allowed a Will save to negate the effect. The DC of this save is equal to 10 + ½ the shugenja's level + the shugenja's Charisma modifier. If she succeeds in forcing the possessor out, the body or object is left unharmed. A spirit so exorcised cannot attempt to possess a victim for 24 hours.
Seal Spirit (Sp)
A shugenja shaman can attempt to seal a spirit 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 spirits. 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 spirit and renew the binding.
Spirit Destination (Sp)
When using plane shift, the shugenja now arrives within one to six miles of his final destination.
Higher Loyalty (Su)
A shugenja learns the mental discipline to maintain control of his mind. If the shugenja is affected by an enchantment spell or effect and fails his saving throw, he can attempt it again 1 round later at the same DC. He only gets this one extra chance to succeed on his saving throw.
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.
Spirit magic is magic learned from and empowered by spirits, little gods that exist everywhere, mystic energies that can be communed with to work magic. A spirit magician learns to see and commune with spirits and to use their gifts. This is based on a belief called animism and is inherently divine magic, but can be combined with other magic traditions. On its own, it is sometimes called primal magic. Spirit magicians and occult casters share an interest in spirits, but occultists focus on spirits of the dead while spirit magicians commune mostly with spirits of nature.
A series of articles will present three classes grounded in animism, the animist, shugenja, and wu-jen. These classes share a similar animistic view of the world, and are collectively called spirit magicians. Each class uses spirit magic differently, but they all gain power from spirits to work magic. Spirit magicians are no meek clerics who offer worship. A spirit can be bribed and persuaded by offers of service and loyalty, but it can also be coerced or defeated in combat to bind it into service.
Animism is the belief that inside all things are spirits, and these spirits can be befriended, cajoled, or browbeat into cooperation. This belief is common in tribal cultures that live close to nature. Often looked down upon in the west, animism has been suppressed by monotheistic religions but often survives in splinter groups or mixed into the practice of other faiths. Asian cultures tend to be more accepting of faith in spirits, allowing animism to develop more specialized forms, such as that of the shugenja and wu-jen. Druidism can be seen as a variant of animism. The most well-known animist religion today is Shinto, but Taoism and Vodou also has significant animist elements. Feel free to use spirit magic in any campaign, animism exists in innumerable forms all over the world.
Spirit magic is magic empowered by the spirits and spirit magicians live on the border between the world of folk and the many worlds of the spirits. Those who use spirit magic are here collectively called spirit magicians. Most spirit magicians live in two societies at once, the society of folk and the society of spirits. They help and protect their allies in both groups, counting on their assistance in return. When the threat of planar incursion looms, most spirit magicians are staunch defenders of planar boundaries. Good spirit magicians help folk and spirits live together. Their traditional duties are both to facilitate contact with spirits and to delineate a border between the mystical and the mundane. While rarely lawful the way civilized people see things, they help maintain the world order by guarding the border between the domains of folk, the dead, nature, and monsters. Some spirit magicians side entirely with one side, exploiting spirits for benefit of folk or the other way around, while a few are renegades who use both folk and spirits strictly for their own benefit. Powerful spirit magicians explore the planes to find power, wisdom, and solutions to problems. They often bring others along as guards, assistants, or to provide them with spiritual education.
Most of the spirits spirit magicians interact with are imperceptible to everyone else. Spirit magicians see spirits where others find only dead matter or impersonal magical energies. Wizards and clerics often claim these spirits do not exist, as they cannot be observed. This is laughable to spirit magicians, who see their powers as proof of the power of spirits. This creates some bad will between spirit magicians and followers of more structured traditions of magic.
What is a Spirit?
Spirits come in four forms; objects, mundane creatures, youkai, and immaterial spirits. Objects are dormant spirits. They take no action until awakened by magic. Spells like animate object can turn an object into a youkai. Mundane Creatures are spirits that have taken a living, physical form, but that have very little inherent magic. This includes all animals and humanoids. Mundane creatures can awaken their spirit natures to work magic, but unless they change their very nature they are not youkai. Youkai are spirits that can interact with mundane creatures, such as ghosts, as well as spirits that have materialized or taken possession of a mundane object or creature to become a magical creature. Most monsters are youkai. Immaterial Spirits are spells and supernatural abilities. Spirit magic is the work of immaterial spirits allied to or bound by a magician. Youkai and some mundane creatures can manipulate immaterial spirits, and the immaterial spirits in turn can manipulate all other kinds of spirits.
Note that there are no clear lines between these classifications, and combinations are common. A magic item is an object tied to an immaterial spirit. A summoned creature is an immaterial spirit that has taken the form of a youkai. Spellcasters are usually a mundane creatures, but can cajole immaterial spirits to work for them.
Spirit magicians regard most monsters as spirits, and may have abilities gives them power over a wide range of supernatural creatures. To avoid confusion, these rules call creatures imbued with spirit powers youkai, which is Japanese for monster. To a spirit magician an earth elemental is an awakened earth spirit—a youkai—while a rock is an earth spirit at rest—an object. They are both the same, just that one is active and awake while the other is dormant. This confounds and annoys those who try to rationally classify what is supernatural and what is mundane. Nevertheless, for rules purposes, we need to know exactly what a youkai is, as many of the animists' and shugenja's abilities only work on youkai. For purposes of the these abilities, youkai includes all of the following creatures:
- All aberrations
- Constructs except the clockwork and 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 object, such as by the magic jar spell.
Spirit magicians 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. Most spirit magicians consider youkai to be unruly but lovable rascals. While youkai have a definite place in the world order, their place is in the wilds, on other planes, and in shrines—not roaming wild in the lands of folk. Youkai that cause trouble are often bound and enshrined, placated by treating them as little gods.
In cultures where animists and shugenja are common, it is normal practice to enshrine youkai. This practice is also known as binding or sealing the youkai, and is done using the Bind Youkai ability. Coercion is acceptable, and it is common practice to defeat a hostile youkai in combat in order to bind it. A youkai bound by this ability is automatically stabilized and heals damage normally while bound.
Being enshrined is restful and comfortable to the youkai, and those with knowledge of animists are generally willing to bargain about being enshrined under the right conditions. If the conditions made in a negotiated binding are broken, the youkai is freed. As long as binding is used again before the current binding ends, the effect is automatically extended for the duration of the new binding.
An enshrined youkai is not hidden away. Rather it is made into the focal point of a shrine or temple, venerated, and thus kept placated. Whole religious orders can be dedicated to keeping a powerful youkai sealed. Shugenja seek out such shrines because they can learn spells from them, but shrine guardians usually demand some kind of service or offering from a strange shugenja before they let them into the presence of the youkai. A normal cost is the same as that for casting a spell of the level the youkai can teach.
Spirit magicians are often good summoners because of their close tie to the spirits. A summoned creature is an immaterial spirit that takes on a physical form and is always considered a youkai, even if the summoned creature is an animal. To reflect the the close ties to the spirits, the Summon Quick Ally feat allows druids and other spirit magicians to summon creatures more quickly.
Summon Quick Ally (General)
|Fey||Resist nature's lure|
|Humanoid||A thousand faces|
|Magical Beast||Beast shape III|
|Outsider||Elemental body III|
|Vermin||Wild empathy usable with vermin|
Prerequisite: Ability to cast summon nature's ally, animist class feature or a another class feature, see table.
Benefit: Choose one creature type from Table: Quick Allies that you fulfill the prerequisite for. When you cast a summon nature's ally spell to summon a creature of this type, the casting time of the spell becomes 1 standard action. This does not work on creatures that have a template.
Special: You can take this feat multiple times. Each time, select a different type of creature.
Experienced Shugenja and Spirit 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 spirit spells. In general, all spirit spells the shugenja had at the level before the current level can be considered to be known. The shugenja thus starts with a few open spirit spell slots, but the majority of them are already filled.
Many prestige classes geared for clerics would become too powerful in the hands of shugenja. Prestige classes that grant +1 level of spell ability with divine spells advances the shugenja's spellcasting ability and grants more spells per day and personal spells known, but do not increase his possible repertoire of spirit spells. Prestige classes that can advance arcane spellcasting abilities work normally for shugenja and advance both personal and spirit spells.