Design Notes: So Ruins & Ronin as well as Sword+1 as a blog, are pretty cool. But like with a lot of "Japanese inspired" but Western type games, I feel like the cool, tenuous walk of life for a samurai is often missed out on. They either get treated like paladins or like fighting-men without too many unique mechanics. I personally, as a fan of Legend of the Five Rings (even when it is a trainwreck), like the Seven Times Down, Eight Times Up approach. Your bushi will go through a lot of different changes in their life, swapping through four different abilities depending on their place in the world. These changes can work from a narrative standpoint, or through natural progression of ones life as a swordsman; shifting from living by the sword in various ways. Even still, these are gross oversimplifications for sake of relative ease of use.
Happily Ruins & Ronin designates everything but its title and art as OGL, so here's my take on the bujin in the form of the bushi.
Requirements: STR 8
Prime Requisite: Strength
Hit Dice: 1d8
Maximum Level: None.
You are bushi, a warrior who follows the code of Bushido and its virtues. You adhere to the calling of war, duels, and violence. Depending on the circumstance of your realm you may be a retained samurai warrior, a yojimbo entrusted with the protection of his master, a kensai meant to duel and seek perfection in the sword, or a masterless ronin who lives on the edge of society by way of mere mercenary work.
Whatever walk of life you might live, expect it to change with the seasons. A retained samurai lose their masters and become ronin, ronin seek out enlightenment in the blade and become kensai, kensai are often hired for their skill to become yojimbo, and yojimbo often impress in their service enough to become a retained samurai. Whatever role you may be, you will be expected to fight from the front in defense of your allies.
The Bushi is the fighting-man class, best suited to enduring and inflicting damages. It is a life valiantly lived and easily lost, valued for the actions it undertakes and the enemies who fall in that brief, blood existence.
Bushi Class Abilities
Weapon & Armor Restrictions: The Bushi is trained in warfare and adapts to it with ease. As a Bushi you are trained in all weapons and armors.
Saving Throws: The Bushi lives a short life, but they live it knowing that they will someday die. Bushi gain a +1 Bonus to Saving Throws against Death and Fear.
XP Bonus for Strength: This class bonus is due to a high strength attribute. This percentage bonus can be added to any payment demanded by the bushi to their employer.
Seven Times Down, Eight Times Up: Upon creating a Bushi, you must roll on the following table to determine where your Bushi is in life. This grants your Bushi an ability, which is in turn lost in favor of a different ability when their life circumstances change.
Establish Stronghold (9th Level): At ninth level, a Bushi’s role will determine what sort of stronghold they may construct. A retained samurai or a yojimbo may construct a castle and be considered a daimyo within the realm, attracting a loyal host of 2d10+5 bushi who well swear their fealty in order to become retained samurai or yojimbo in his estate.
A ronin who reaches this level, should they not wish to become a retained samurai, may establish a rogue state by taking over the estate of another faction or constructing a hideout. As they are not held in high regard by Shogunate or Emperor, the ronin will attract a hideous host of 2d20+10 bandits, wako, or ronin who will serve their master loyally provided they are given plunder and hedonistic pleasures.
A kensai who reaches this level and decides not to become a retained samurai, may instead construct a dojo where they may train others. Within a matter of weeks, the kensai will have attracted 4d10+5 bushi students who will loyally seek to learn the truth of steel at the feet of the masters.
Bonus to Hit