Shugenja (Dungeons & Dragons)
|A Dungeons & Dragons character class|
|First appearance||Oriental Adventures (1985)|
|Editions||1st, 3rd, 3.5|
|Source books||1st edition: Oriental Adventures (1985)|
3rd edition: Oriental Adventures (2001)
3.5 edition: Complete Divine
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition (1977-1988)
The shukenja was introduced in the original first edition Oriental Adventures book. The first edition shukenja was a cleric subclass with its own unique spell list, designed to emulate Taoist, Buddhist, and Shinto priests rather than the western-style cleric. Unlike later implementations, the shukenja did not have any elemental affinity.
In a review of the book, reviewer Ashley Shepherd commented: "Shukenja, the clerics, are penalised if they slay too freely." Jim Bambra described the shukenja as "priests who are forbidden to kill, and who gain experience points for healing NPCs".
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition (1989-1999)
Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition (2000-2007)
Inspired by mythologies of the Asian cultures, the shugenja fills the spot most commonly played by the Cleric class in a traditional D&D game—that of a primary divine spell caster. Shugenja are typically members of the noble class, though they are not bound by the honor code of the Samurai.
The class presented in the revised Oriental Adventures book has no real comparison with the class released in earlier editions, and the authors themselves have made it a point to note that the old style shugenja class was replaced by the shaman class. The shugenja was revised from the Oriental Adventures book by being presented in the Complete Divine supplemental book, published in 2004.
The most prominent ability scores of the shugenja are:
- Charisma: The shugenja's divine spells are fueled by a high charisma score, so having this stat as high as possible bolsters the primary feature of this class. A suggested variant proposed and used in the Rokugan campaign setting alters the Shugenja's key spellcasting ability according to their chosen element. In this version, Charisma is the key score for Air Shugenja, Constitution for Earth, Wisdom for Water, and Intelligence for Fire.
- Dexterity: Because shugenja wear little to no armor, a high dexterity is important to provide defense against physical attacks.
- Constitution: Shugenja do not have as many hit points as other divine casters, so a high constitution helps counter this.
No published race currently uses the shugenja as a favored class.
The shugenja class as a spellcasting class combines a great deal of versatility from the other classes. Unlike arcane or other divine magic users, the shugenja must select a single certain element to be attuned to and focused on. This determines which spells appear on their spell list as well as any spell that they are unable to cast because of a restriction.
The elements are:
- Earth: Earth spells contain spells that revolve personal resilience and toughness when confronted, as well as spells of binding, exorcism, and powerful offenses against certain specific varieties of enemies. Air is the barred element for shugenjas who specialize in the earth element.
- Air: A shugenja who specializes in the air element has access to a number of spells dealing with travel, divination, illusion and interaction. Earth is the barred element for shugenjas who specialize in the air element.
- Fire: The most destructive and otherwise offensive spells, but also spells dealing with mental power, are controlled by the element of fire. Any shugenja who specializes in this element cannot learn spells with the water element.
- Water: Shugenjas who specialize in water specialize in healing and cleansing spells, and most of the commonly associated curative spells, in addition to spells of decay and change, are dictated by this element. Shugenjas who specialize in this element cannot learn spells that are controlled by fire.
Mechanically, the shugenja class has the versatility of a cleric but also has access to a number of spells from the Wizard and Sorcerer spell list. A shugenja does not need to prepare their spells, much like the sorcerer.
However, because of this, the shugenja has a small number of spells that they know, also like a sorcerer. In addition to spells known of the particular element they focus in, the shugenja also receives a number of spells that deal with every other permitted element.
Shugenjas do not have dedicated spellbooks as wizards commonly know them. Known as ofuda, they serve as divine focus and must be read by the shugenja.
Shugenja receive only two other abilities in their entire twenty level progression. The first is the ability to focus on their specific element, which allows them to gain benefits for spells of their chosen element, regardless of what actual school it is.
The second feature is the ability to sense elements. This allows the shugenja to concentrate and become aware of all the sources of a chosen element. At first this ability only functions for a small area around the shugenja. However, as the shugenja grows in strength, so too grows the area in which their concentration is centered.
Unlike spells, a shugenja can just as easily sense a prohibited element as they can their chosen element.
- Gygax, Gary, with David Cook, and François Marcela-Froideval. Oriental Adventures (TSR, 1985)
- Shepherd, Ashley (February 1986). "Open Box: Dungeon Modules". White Dwarf. Games Workshop (74): 9–10. ISSN 0265-8712.
- Bambra, Jim (June 1988). "Role-playing Reviews". Dragon. Lake Geneva, Wisconsin: TSR (#134): 76–77.