While most samurai belong to the order of the warrior, dedicating their considerable skills to the service of a lord, land, and people, some find themselves without a master, either as a result of disgrace or death, or occasionally by choice. Known as ronin, these samurai wander the lands, serving their own code of ideals. While ronin are significantly freer to do as they please, they do not receive the same respect and support that a more dedicated samurai can count on.
Note that cavaliers can select this order, but they are typically called knights errant instead of ronin.
Becoming Ronin: Normally, when a samurai wishes to change his order, he must undergo a lengthy process that requires him to adhere to the edicts of his new order for a period of time before receiving any benefits. This is not the case with ronin. Once a samurai decides to become a ronin, he immediately loses all of the bonuses, skills, and abilities of his old order and gains those of the ronin order. If he wishes to once again dedicate himself to another order, he must do so using the normal rules.
Edicts: Ronin follow their own personal code of ethics and honor. As such, their edicts are extremely flexible and subject to change. Each ronin should determine his own edicts, which should include at least three provisions. These edicts are subject to GM approval.
Challenge: Whenever a ronin is the target of a challenge, a smite, a quarry, or similar effect, and he issues a challenge against that character in return, the ronin receives a +1 morale bonus on attack rolls made against the target of his challenge and a +1 dodge bonus to his AC against attacks made by the target of his challenge. These bonuses increase by +1 for every four class levels the samurai possesses (to a maximum of +6 at 20th level).
Order Abilities: A ronin samurai gains the following abilities as he increases in level.
At 2nd level, the ronin learns to rely solely on himself, even in the most difficult of times. Whenever the ronin fails a Will saving throw against an effect with a duration greater than 1 round, he can attempt another saving throw at the end of the second round of the effect. If he makes this saving throw, it has the same effect as if he had made the original save (negating part or all of the effect). In addition, whenever a ronin is brought below 0 hit points, on his next turn he can roll twice to stabilize, taking the better result.
At 8th level, the ronin’s fierce independence allows him to overcome staggering odds. The ronin can summon up this willpower as an immediate action, and can use it in one of three ways. He can use his willpower whenever an attack would reduce him to fewer than 0 hit points but wouldn’t kill him, to instead be at 1 hit point and conscious. He can use his willpower after making an attack roll to confirm a critical hit in order to reroll the confirmation roll. Finally, he can use his willpower to take 10 on a skill check during combat, even if the situation or the skill would not normally allow him to take 10. A ronin can use this ability once during a combat.
At 15th level, the ronin is the master of his own destiny. Whenever the ronin makes a saving throw against a charm or compulsion effect, he may roll twice and take the better result. In addition, once per day, the ronin can treat any one d20 roll as if the result were a natural 20. He must declare the use of this ability before the roll is made.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Ultimate Combat. © 2011, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Authors: Jason Bulmahn, Tim Hitchcock, Colin McComb, Rob McCreary, Jason Nelson, Stephen Radney-MacFarland, Sean K Reynolds, Owen K.C. Stephens, and Russ Taylor.