The Samurai Returns To D&D In Xanathar's Guide To Everything
Todd Kenreck: The Samurai is one of the most famous types of warriors in all of history. I talked to Mike Mearls about they're trying to capture that cinematic Samurai feel in Xanathar's Guide to Everything.
Mike Mearls: The Samurai's in the book because that is ... Samurai is a great example of a word that people want to use to say, "This is my character. I'm playing the Samurai." Snark type people like. So, then, when you say, "What does a Samurai include?" You have to ask yourself, "Well, what is it?" Clearly, when someone is saying, "Here in this Forgotten Realms Campaign, or whatever campaign, I want to play a Samurai." They're clearly not saying, "I want to play a noble-born warrior from Feudal Japan who has a warlord-y ... and all those ... " Okay. That's probably not what they're saying.
They're referring to what I think of as like the comic book or movie version of the Samurai. Same thing with knight. When someone says, "I want to play a knight," they're probably thinking more in what we saw in feedback with a knight subclass that ended up getting kind of devoured by the cavalier. They want someone who's really good in fighting on horseback, which is definitely a part of being a knight, but that's the part that stuck out. Not the, "Well, you've sworn fealty to someone and you have to ... you're responsible for like ... you're a warrior, noble-born, because you own a horse. Owning a horsing is expensive. You got be a noble to own a horse," and all this other stuff.
So, you have to ask yourself, "What is it? When people say, 'Samurai,' what do they mean? What is the actual thing they're looking for?" For me, a lot of it goes to Kurosawa, the Seven Samurai, which I love that movie. I love any movie that kind of deals with transitions. That movie is really ... it's about the Seven Samurai, but what it's really about is the end of the Samurai era. It's about firearms and the change in culture in Japan is heading toward modernization. But what is it with the Samurai that people appealing?
What we sort of hit on was this idea of that fighting spirit that a Samurai has duty and puts duty above everything else and will die in trying to seek out, "Here is my duty. Here is what I have set out to do. Nothing will stop me." That impeccable nature. So, the Samurai has the ability to get a boost of temporary hit points and attack with advantage for one round. They can do that three times between short rests. So, basically, as a Samurai ... that kind of almost [inaudible 00:02:15] is like this micro-rage. It's like the barbarian's rage, but much more reduced. In The Movie In My Mind, I was thinking of this character as we're redesigning it, what I saw was, okay, it's the fight. You're a fighter.
You've been backed up to the wall. The ogre, your second or third fighter. The ogre just smashed you. You're down to three hit points. You've got to put this ogre down. Well, that's when you're using your samurai ability and then you're using your heroic surge as a fighter to get extra and extra action. So, you're making a bunch of attacks all with advantage and you've given yourself a bunch of temporary hit points. Maybe your cleric's down or you're out of healing spells. So, this is your ... you're going to cling the edge and just alpha strike and try to take this guy down.
That felt very much like in The Movie In My Mind it's like the Samurai who's like bloody, but he's just still standing and fighting. Like, "Despite all these injuries, this is my enemy. This is my goal. Nothing's going to stop me." So, give people that sense of, "Oh yeah. That's the character I want to play. I want to play this bold, impetuous, unstoppable warrior really fueled by this fighting spirit I have compared to other fighters.
Todd Kenreck: The fighter Samurai is available on Xanathar's Guide to Everything. You can purchase that book on dndbeyond.com and earn pre-order bonuses as well. I'm Todd Kenreck. Thanks for watching.