This installment of the Lost Lore-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
We begin this installment of the series with a neat fluffy introduction of the dojo in question and the pdf introduces 3 new uses of resolve, which includes self-hasting, moving through difficult terrain and using resolve as an immediate action to add a 1d6-surge to CMD.
The pdf also features two different archetypes – the Daisho Master gets a scaling AC bonus when using full attacks, quicker drawing and better crit-confirmation, scaling bonuses to atk and damage as well as the option to execute a main and off-hand attack with one standard action at 6th level, but the samurai does lose the mounted options and the higher levels allow for more efficient two-weapon fighting options – basically Miyamoto Musashi’s two-handed fighting style specialist.
The second archetype would be the Iaijutsu Master, gaining a devastating initial strike with scaling damage, as befitting of the art and Dex-based tricks, once again, emphasizing mastery on foot as opposed to the mounted tricks of the base class.
The pdf does offer even more, though; namely a total of 5 different samurai orders that are based on the 5 virtues of Bushido: Benevolence, Courage, Honor, Justice and Loyalty each get a full order-suite. All have a different focus, with benevolence focusing on the defeat of superior foes with the ability to ignore specific types of DR, added force damage while the samurai still has resolve and the option to generate short-range blasts of force, allowing for serious chances to eliminate hard to kill incorporeal foes. Honor has a higher damage output and allows the samurai to channel the flames of honor and a high-level parade ability. While not the biggest fan of the latter, its execution is okay. Courage focuses on drawing katanas with deafening booms and sonic, while justice allows for precise, powerful strikes and loyalty is aligned with arcs of electricity. All in all, for once, I actually do like the elemental themes of these orders and the individual executions/balancing here.
The pdf concludes with a fear-immunity granting, fear-inducing samurai mask and the saya of mastery, which is particularly useful for Iaijutsu Masters. There would also be a powerful banner, a DR-granting kamishimo and an enchanted iron tea pot – which is my favorite magic item here, apart from the saya.
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Frog God Games’ two-column full-color standard and the pdf has nice, original b/w-artwork. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.
Jeffrey Swank’s little pdf with samurai options is powerful, but the class can use it. More importantly, it features some classic tropes that the class was supposed to do. The magic orders employ classic tropes we know from fiction, anime etc. and, as a whole, this pdf is neat. While not all items are genius and while I’m not the biggest fan of all aspects of the material herein, this still is a much-needed supplement to add some flair to the samurai class. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform.
You can get this installment here on the Frog God Games-site – oddly, it’s not up on eitehr OBS, Paizo or tabletoplibrary.com.