Saturday, June 30, 2018

Kara-Tur - Some Thoughts - Part 3 - Classes

Kara-tur and classes.

Had to really hold back on grumbling about classes from previous editions not being there to keep within the original parameters.

Source Key

DMG = Dungeon Master's Guide
PHB = Player's Handbook
SCAG = Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide
XGtE = Xanathar's Guide to Everything

Note:  In order to cut down on confusing, I will be using the term Ninja to refer to exclusively to monks and rogue subclasses.  If it is a different class with a similar theme, I will use the term Shinobi instead.


barbarians abound along Kara-Tur's edges.  From the horse clans of the west to the jungle tribes of the south, and the various islands leaves plenty of options.

Path of the Ancestral Guardian (XGtE p.9)
Ancestor worship is common.  This could be presented as "the good son" whose empowered by the spirits or a living vengeance of a dead family.

Path of the Berserker (PHB p.49/SCAG p.121)
The berserker is more common in anime than in historical precedence.  I'd make them more of a shounen type character with a chip on their shoulder.

Path of the Storm Herald (XGtE p.10)
Imagine the living embodiment of the kamikaze, the divine wind.  I'd make them relatively common in both Kozukura and Wa.

This also makes a great concept of a Tuigan whose a Teylas berserker.

Path of the Totem Warrior* (PHB p.50)
While animal warriors aren't as common, making them an avatar of Sun Wukong or Zhu Bajie is a distinct way to present such a character.  This is also a way to show a Hengeyokai having an "ultimate form."

Path of the Zealot (XGtE p.11)
I'd do these as guardians.  This seems more suitable towards NPCs then pcs, but the guardian of a special artifact that has to be transported could be a potential setup.


Ideas for bards: Antiquarium, Chinese Opera actor (works for either Shou Lung or Tu Lung),  Entrepreneur, Geisha, Kabuki player (Kozakura and Wa), Mongolian throat singer (aka Tuigan), Scholar, Sing Song Girl,

College of Glamour (XGtE p.14)
Instead of the fey as a base, I'd reskin this as a magical courtier.  They might be some low-level magistrate of the celestial bureaucracy who uses these powers of influence in pursuit of their goals.

Thisis also the subclass I would use fort he shinobi consort (kunoichi)

College of Lore (PHB p.54)
While it's not a perfect fit, this subclass represents the magical scholar and since learning is very important in most places of enlightenment, it fits a role of the knowledgeable one.

There is this old anime series called read or die.  That might also be a great inspiration.  Just treat all spells as really good origami.

College of Swords (XGtE p.15)
There is the Chun Tsu.  It's the concept of a philosopher martial artist who takes the dedication of the monk, a military study of the classics of military philosophy and the rigors training of the martial artist. It's basically a jack of all trades with a martial arts bent and it kinda fits the college of swords.

College of Valor (PHB p.55)
Never underestimate the need for a good chronicler of war and the person who holds the banner.  I also like the idea of an ŇĆendan with a set of flags that cheer-leads the rest of the team to victory and this seems to fit here.

College of Whispers (XGtE p.16)
The scholar of secrets is suitable as either a crime family in the tradition of the tongs or yakuza or courtiers from clan scorpion of legend of the five rings.


How gods are treated in lands of enlightenment will determine how these are used.

Legends and Lore

The following is a  list the closest gods in legends in lore 1st edition (Chinese, Indian and Japanese mythos) to match the associated domains.

Still not happy with this so open to suggestions and I apologize in advance to anybody offended.:

Arcana Domain (SCAG p.125): Tou Mi
Death Domain (DMG p.96): Kali, Lu Yeuh, Rurdra, Yang-Wang-Yeh, Yama
Forge Domain (XGtE p.18): Ama-Tsu-Mara
Knowledge Domain (PHB p.59): Ebisu, Tvashri, Tsukiyomi
Life Domain (PHB p.60): Chung Kuel (actually Chung K'uei), Kuan Yin, Vishnu
Light Domain (PHB p.60):  Agni, Ameratsu Omikami, Surya, Ushra
Nature Domain (PHB p.61): Chih Sung-Tzu, Shan Hai Cheng
Tempest Domain (PHB p.62):  Indra, Lei Kung, Raiden, Susanowo
Trickery Domain (PHB p.62): Daikoko, Lakshmi, No Cha, KishiJoeten, Ratri
War Domain (PHB p.63): Chao Kung Ming, Hachiman, Huan-Ti, Karttekya, Varuna

Kara-Tur Religious beliefs and religious figures:

including to eventually fill in appropriate domains.

Shou Long: The Celestial Empire
The Nine Immortals
The Lesser Immortals
Jade Ladies
Rice Spirits
Moon Women
Spirit Warriors
Ladies of Compassion
Lords of Karma

The Path of Enlightenment
The Way
The Faith of the Nine Travelers.

The Kuong Kingdom:
The Lords of Creation

Kozukera (and assuming Wa):
8 million gods

Western gods

The following western Gods have influence in Kara-tur:

Akadi:  The Goddess of the Air is known as Teylas by the Tuigan and other horseclans and is known as the goddess of heaven.  These tempest clerics have become quite prominent as of late.
Bhaal:  The god of assassins has had a resurgence as of late.  Returning from the dead, a lot of death cults have been reignited.  Sometimes known as Niynjushigampo in the east.
Cyric:  The god of lies and chaos made a ton of headway during the time of troubles and while somewhat on the wane, it's hard to identify if this is just another lie.  An Alternative name is Sirhivatizangpo.
Grumbar: Known as Etugen, this god plays the role of Earth Mother to the Tuigan.

Other Ideas: 

The 1st edition shugenja is probably closest to either the Life Domain or Nature Domain.

Grave Domain (XGtE p.19) - not that hard to reskin this as a tender of the dead.

A Cleric with the trickster domain would make a great Shinobi support class for a clan of ninjas.  Just say you're calling on the spirits to assist.

If you don't want to deal with deities, but still need a healer, I'd reskin a Life domain Cleric and make the caster instead has a big bag of Weep/Senzu Beans. :D


I would use druids to fulfill the shaman's role in Kara-Tur.  These are shamans that enter the spirit world and have a connection to the spirit folk.

Circle of Dreams (XGtE p.22)
Circle of the Land (PHB p.68)
Circle of the Moon (PHB p.69)
Circle of the Shepherd (XGtE p.23)


Arcane Archer (XGtE p.28)
The mystic archer is a common myth in Japanese culture, which translates to Kozukura and Wa.

Battle Master (PHB p.73) / Champion (PHB p.72)
Both of these represents a member of one of the massive militaries of Shou and Tu Lung who has "retired for one reason or another."  The alternative is they can also represent the "bushe" from the original oriental adventures:  aka a low born fighter.

This is also a decent stock character for a caravan guard, especially going into horseclan territory.

Cavalier (XGtE p.30)
This class is closest to the 4th edition fighter and mechanically acts as a blocker for other characters to strut their stuff.  This is also the closest I've found to the horse archers or lancers of the Tuigan.

Eldritch Knight (PHB p.74)
While the blending of magic and martial is common, I'd probably use this to represent an artifact bearer.  A fighter that has an item that casts the spells rather than the user (such as the anime Ushio and Tora).

Samurai (XGtE p.31)
I'd use this to represent the samurai of Kozakura and Wa, or the Hwang of Koryo.


Martial arts in Kara-Tur: 

The following are martial arts that have been referenced in Kara-Tur and are included mainly to give color text to your fighting style:

Dragon Claw, The Iron Hand School (Shou Lung), The Five Stars School (Shou Lung), Monkey style, The Northern First School (Shou Lung), the Southern Star School (Shou Lung), Tae Kwon Do (Koryo), Xiang Do (Hordelands), Mongolian (Tuigan) Wrestling (Hordelands), Strong Claw (Shou Lung), The Order of Silence (Shou Lung), Order of the Nimble Hunter (Shou Lung), White Crane Temple (Shou Lung), Order of the Dragon Monastery (Shou Lung),Water breaking Rock style (Hordelands)

Way of the Drunken Master (XGtE p.33)
Do I even need to explain this one? <eyes a certain Jackie Chan movie>.

Way of the Four Elements (PHB p.80)
The elements of Kara-tur are five, not four, but it should fit well enough if you want a mystic monk with more flair.  These may also represent the elemental tribes of the Jungle Kingdoms.

Way of the Kensei (XGtE p.34)
This is the hermit that dedicates his craft to a single item.  This is almost the inverse of the bard with the way of swords that considers weapon training as part of their education.  If there is a master you need to train with to unlike a particular skill, they will likely be this.

Way of the Long Death (SCAG p.130)
Imagine a cult of ancestor worshipers that takes it a little too far.

Way of the Open Hand (PHB p.79)
This is the subclass that represents the karateka, and the more martial kung fu styles.

Way of Shadow (PHB p.80)
This is how you do an interpretation of the Ninja.  It also works as a representation of the Sulsa of Korean myth as well.

Way of the Sun Soul (SCAG p.131, XGtE p.35)
In many animes, it is the monk that needs to stop the great forces of evil with certain chants and slips of paper.


I'd make them fairly rare. I can see Oath of the Crown (SCAG p.132) as a military man, but those that fall would end up in Oath of Vengeance (PHB p.87) or Oathbreaker (DMG p.97).  possibly followed by Oath of Redemption (XGtE p.38)

The Sohei is probably the closest to the Paladin conceptually.  I'd give it the Oath of Devotion (PHB p.85)

I can see an Oath of the Ancients (PHB p.86) as an ancestral paladin though

I can see an Oath of Conquest (XGtE p.37) as one of Wo Mai's minions.


While most of Kara-tur is very civilized, rangers are common on in more hostile areas.
The most common are  Beast Master (PHB p.93), Hunter (PHB p.93) or Monster Slayer (XGtE p.43)

Rangers of all types are excellent ways of emulating Tuigan and other people of the horseclans.

The Piao Shih (dart master and bandit hunter) is an example of an hunter.

In Wa, there is this tale of the Peachling girl, whom was innately magical and preferred to hang out with her 3 pets:  a dog, a monkey and a parrot.  This sounds distinctly like the Beast Master (PHB p.93).

 There is also the Yaqubi  These brave inhabitants of Khopet-dag, are a generation of Giant Spider Hunters.  This allows them to understand their target and plunder the spider silk for their own goods.


Whether they are bandits, tongs, yakuza or wako (pirates), they really fit the same role which is been a sneaky person in a society where it's kinda frowned on.

Arcane Trickster (PHB p.97)
This would be how I emulate the 2e ninja spirit warrior.

Assassin (PHB p.97)
This is the default Non-magical Ninja.

Inquisitive (XGtE p.45)
While dated and racist, this is the subclass for Charlie Chan.

Mastermind (SCAG p.135, XGtE p.46)
While dated and racist, this is the subclass for Fu Manchu.

Scout (XGtE p.47)
This is how I would emulate the 2e ninja pathfinder

Swashbuckler (SCAG p.135, XGtE p.47)
From Waco swinging from ships to a simple man having a "bad day", this emulates this well.


Since lungs work much differently then western dragons, doing a breakdown in the race section.

Divine Soul* (XGtE p.50)
You are the child of an immortal and have gotten a bit of that special power as part of the bargain.

Draconic Bloodline (PHB p.102)

The following western dragons apply.

Gold Dragon
Purple Dragon

I'd also use the Draconic bloodlines to simulate the elemental casters of Parang.

Shadow Magic† (XGtE p.50)
Wo Mai has had a long life and may have entire bloodlines that have a piece of his dark powers.

Storm Sorcery‡ (SCAG p.137, XGtE p.51)
Born with a fragment of the nature spirits, whether kamikaze or eastern dragons, is how they got their powers.

Alternatively, they could be Tuigan that have been "touched by Teylas."

Wild Magic (PHB p.103)
This could emulate that one lucky guy whom would be home at such casinos as Macau, at least until they get kicked out.

*Renamed from Favored Soul
†Renamed from Shadow
‡Renamed from Storm


The Celestial* (XGtE p.54)
You were sold by your family to serve the celestial bureaucracy.  While it is a great privilege, it also comes with serious strings attached.

The Fiend (PHB p.109)
I'd make this an acolyte of Wu Mai, or a character with a connection with the land of 1000 oni.  This can also be used to represent corruption by dark spirits by being in oni territory for too long.

The Great Old One (PHB p.109)
In many animes, there is an outworld that is beyond what we know.  Honestly, I see this more as one of the few enemies where the even kara-tur politics might unite against, but it's certainly possible that a person has been promised to one of these dark powers.  Ra-Khati might be the beachhead of such powers.

The Hexblade (XGtE p.55)
This is Wo Mai's special operatives.  Trained and sent out to cause mischief on behalf of their Lord.

Alternatively, this could be a more magical Shinobi assassin, touched by an outside power that no longer has a name.

The Undying (SCAG p.139)
In Chinese myth, one of the all-consuming goals is immortality.  This can be used to represent one of the many false paths, especially yin immortals and the living dead immortals.

*Renamed from The Undying Light


There are two types of wizards. Magic is common in Shou Lung and is the backbone of the economy.  However, many are wanderers or hermits seeking out magic power and aren't all that different than their more traditional counterparts.

It can also be used to simulate special abilities of more magical beings, if sorcerer or warlock would not work.

School of Divination (PHB p.116)
This is the school of feng shui and geomancy.

School of Enchantment (PHB p.117)
A fox hengeyokai wizard/enchanter would be a  great way to do a pc version of the fox of nine tails.

School of Illusion (PHB p.118)
This is definitely the shinobi wizard and support class, providing illusions and other images for his fellow shinobi and ninja to perform their job.

School of Necromancy (PHB p.118)
The Fang-Hsiang Shih or the "master of recipes" are powerful necromancers that roam the hills and forests of T'u.  

School of Transmutation (PHB p.119)
I'd use this wizard class to represent those mad alchemists of Chinese myth.

War Magic (XGtE p.59)
Both Shou Lung and Tu Lung would have military colleges based on the mystical art of war.  I would assume the equivalent of Sun Tzu would be a spellcaster and his teachings are reflected in this subclass.

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