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A member of the buke caste, the yojimbo (literally bodyguard) is the face of the noble lord throughout the lord’s province. Traveling about their lord’s lands righting wrongs, and defeating his lord’s enemies, the yojimbo is comfortable living either a solitary existence or working with a unit. A ronin yojimbo often serves a community in place of a lord. Those who follow the path of the yojimbo are considered some of the hardiest of the samurai.

The yojimbo is an archetype of the ranger class.

Class Skills

The yojimbo’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Handle Animal (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (local) (Int), Knowledge (noble) (Int), Perception (Wis), Perform (Cha), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), Stealth (Dex), Survival (Wis), Swim (Str).

Skill Ranks per Level

The yojimbo gets 4 + Int modifier skill ranks per level.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency

A yojimbo is proficient with all simple and martial weapons and with the katana, naginata and wakizashi. He is proficient with light and medium armor but not with shields.

Enemy Clan (Ex)

At 1st level a yojimbo chooses an enemy clan. He gains a +1 bonus on Bluff, Knowledge, Perception, Sense Motive and Survival checks against foes from this enemy clan. Likewise, he gets a +2 bonus on weapon attack and damage rolls against them. This damage stacks with any bonus gained from favored enemy. At 5th level and every five levels thereafter, a yojimbo gains another +1 bonus against an enemy clan. He may choose a new enemy clan or apply the bonus to one enemy clan he already possesses. A yojimbo may select Humanoid (human) as a favored enemy at 1st level, regardless of alignment.

This ability replaces the ranger’s normal track and swift tracker abilities.

Honor Bound (Ex)

As a free action, by concentrating on a single individual within 30 feet, the yojimbo can sense whether the individual has Honor and whether it is negative or positive. When interacting with anyone with equal or less Honor than himself, the yojimbo can add his Honor score to any Charisma-based skill check as a bonus modifier. The yojimbo may possess an amount of Honor equal to half his yojimbo character level (minimum 1). He may gain Honor by defeating a challenge with a CR 1 greater than his character level in the name of his lord (in the case of a ronin yojimbo he must defeat this challenge in the name of a community). The yojimbo is under no obligation to defeat this challenge alone but he must contribute significantly to the success of the endeavor. If the yojimbo ever fails at a challenge than his character level, he loses 1 Honor.

This ability replaces the ranger’s wild empathy.

Tough to Kill (Ex)

The yojimbo gains Toughness as a bonus feat at 1st level. He gains Endurance as a bonus feat at 2nd level, Die Hard as a bonus feat at 4th level and Fight On as a bonus feat at 7th level.

These replace the ranger’s Endurance and woodland stride abilities, as well as 2 of the ranger’s normal skill ranks per level.

Combat Style Feat (Ex)

At 2nd level a yojimbo must select a combat style to pursue in a manner identical to the normal ranger. The yojimbo must select one of the following styles: Iaijutsu, Mounted Combat, Two-Handed Weapon, or Yabusame.

Additional Combat Style Options


If the ranger selects iaijutsu style, he can choose from the following list whenever he gains a combat style feat:

Cleave, Power Attack, Quick Draw, Vital Strike.


If the Ranger selects yabusame style (an alternate archery style), he can choose from the following list whenever he gains a combat style feat:

Mounted Archery, Point-Blank Shot, Precise Shot, and Rapid Shot.

Ancestral Bond (Su)

At 3rd level, the yojimbo becomes more attuned to the wisdom and knowledge of his ancestors. He gains Skill Focus as a bonus feat. He gains another Skill Focus bonus feat again at 8th, 13th and 18th levels.

This ability replaces the ranger’s favored terrain ability.

Swift to Act (Ex)

Beginning at 3rd level, the yojimbo gains a bonus to his initiative modifier equal to 1/2 his yojimbo character level. Once per round, as a swift action, the yojimbo can choose to place himself between an adjacent character and a single melee or ranged attack, so that the yojimbo himself takes any damage dealt by the attack. This ability must be used after the attack roll succeeds, including critical confirmations, but before damage is rolled. This ability can be used against magical attacks requiring an attack roll. Any bonus damage that would have been rolled against the original target, including sneak attack damage and damage from a critical hit, is rolled as normal against the yojimbo.

Warrior’s Bond (Ex)

At 4th level, instead of forming a hunter’s bond, a yojimbo forms a bond with either his weapon or his mount.

If the yojimbo chooses his mount, the animal becomes an animal companion. This ability functions like the druid animal companion ability except that the yojimbo’s effective druid level is equal to his yojimbo class level -3. The yojimbo gains a +2 bonus on Handle Animal and Ride checks with his animal companion mount.

If the yojimbo chooses to form a bond with his weapon, he chooses a specific individual weapon (not a weapon type) with which to bond. When using this weapon he gains a competence bonus to attacks and damage with the chosen weapon equal to 1/4 his yojimbo class level. When using this weapon against a favored enemy, its critical threat range is increased by one step. If the yojimbo decided to bond with a new weapon, he must forgo the bonus for one month before transferring the bond. Likewise, if the chosen weapon is lost or destroyed, the yojimbo may not form a new bond for a period of 1 month.

Ancestral Discourse (Su)

Beginning at 4th level, the yojimbo is able to directly attune himself to his ancestors. By meditating for ten minutes, the yojimbo may gain one of the following benefits:

  • +1 to attacks, damage and saving throws, lasting 1 hour
  • A yes/no answer to a single question concerning events not in the future, otherwise as an augury, with an 80 + character level percent chance to be right
  • +2 ancestral bonus to a single skill, lasting 1 hour
  • +2 ability increase to one ability, lasting 1 hour
  • +2 dodge bonus to AC, lasting 1 hour

A yojimbo may use ancestral discourse a number of times per day equal to 1/5 his yojimbo character level +1. This means he may use it 1/day at 4th level and 2/day at 5th level. At 12th level, all numerical bonuses gained from ancestral discourse are doubled and the time the yojimbo must spend in meditation is halved. At 20th level the yojimbo may gain the benefits of ancestral discourse without meditation, as a swift action.

This ability replaces the ranger’s spell casting ability.

Soft Footfall (Ex)

Beginning at 7th level, the yojimbo gains a bonus to his Stealth skill equal to his Wisdom bonus, if any. At 12th level, he gains an additional bonus to Stealth equal to 1/4 his yojimbo class level.

This ability replaces camouflage and hide in plain sight.

Bushido Master (Ex)

A yojimbo may, as a standard action, make a single attack against a favored enemy at his full attack bonus. If the attack hits, the target takes damage normally and must make a Fortitude save or die. The DC of this save is equal to 10+ 1/2 the yojimbo’s level + the yojimbo’s Wisdom modifier. A yojimbo may choose instead to deal an amount of non-lethal damage equal to the creature’s total hit points. A successful save negates this damage. A yojimbo may use this ability a number of times per day equal to 1/5 his yojimbo class level + his Wisdom modifier. He may not use the ability more than once against the same creature in a 24-hour period.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

The Way of the Samurai Copyright 2012, Steven D. Russell and Michael Tumey, all rights reserved; Author Jonathan McAnulty

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