Kensai (Monk Archetype)

The kensai is a skilled martial artist dedicated to the perfection of a single martial style and through it, perfection of the self and harmony with the heavens. They seek harmony within themselves. They are clear, calm, and committed. Kensai pursue a degree of harmony with a chosen martial style that few other martial artists could ever hope to achieve. Kensai believe that this is the way to set themselves on the path to enlightenment.

No kensai would waste life without that life being taken or given in the pursuit of a noble cause. Many refuse to fight those whom they deem unworthy. Kensai believe that all weapons can focus ki and their self imposed dedication to a single weapon will help to bring it to life. Just as a carp has a chance, however small, to leap through the Dragon’s Gate and become a dragon, so too might any weapon become a living creature of legend. The vast majority feel that the use of another weapon is not a true measure of their skill and refuse to use anything but their chosen weapon. Their dedication to their chosen weapon and their discipline and devotion to their martial style gives them a near legendary status.

If a kensai chooses to fight with only a sword, then it is only a sword that she will use in combat; if she chooses the spear, then she will only ever fight with a spear. While her chosen weapon is always at her side or in her hand, she can fight with other weapons.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Kensai are proficient with all weapons from a single weapon group selected from the weapon groups presented in the fighter weapon training ability (see Pathinder ® Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook™). Once this weapon group is chosen, it cannot be changed. Kensai are also proficient with light armor.

This replaces normal monk weapon and armor proficiencies.

AC Bonus (Ex): He loses these bonuses when he is immobilized or helpless, when he wears medium or heavy armor, when he carries a shield, or when he carries a medium or heavy load. A kensai’s AC bonus otherwise functions as normal for a monk of his level.

Flurry of Blows (Ex): Starting at 1st level, a kensai can make a flurry of blows using any combination of unarmed strikes or attacks with his living ki weapon (see below). He may not make a flurry of blows with any other weapons, including special monk weapons. A kensai’s flurry of blows otherwise functions as normal for a monk of his level.

Living Ki Weapon: The kensai begins play with a masterwork weapon selected from the list of weapons in the weapon group he selected (if he chooses unarmed strike or natural weapons, he instead gains a +1 competence bonus to attacks). This is his living ki weapon. Once per day, a kensai may spend 1 hour in weapon practice to attune his ki to a new weapon with which he is proficient.

This practice also changes the designated weapon for all feats that apply only to a single weapon (i.e. Weapon Focus) from the old weapon to the new weapon. You can only have one living ki weapon at a time.

This allows the kensai to use a standard action to expend his ki focus to enhance his weapon for one minute per kensai level. At 4th level, this attunement grants the weapon a +1 enhancement bonus. For every two levels beyond 4th, the weapon gains another +1 enhancement bonus, to a maximum of +9 at 20th level. These bonuses can be added to the weapon, stacking with existing weapon bonuses to a maximum of +5, or they can be used to add any of the following weapon properties: axiomatic, brilliant energy, defending, disruption, laming, laming burst, holy, keen, merciful, speed, and unholy. Adding these properties consumes an amount of bonus equal to the property’s cost (see Pathinder® Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook™). These bonuses are added to any properties the weapon already has, but duplicate abilities do not stack.

If the weapon is not magical, at least a +1 enhancement bonus must be added before any other properties can be added. The bonus and properties granted by the attunement are determined when the kensai expends his ki focus and cannot be changed until the kensai becomes ki focused again. The ki attunement imparts no bonuses if the weapon is held by anyone other than the kensai but resumes giving bonuses if returned to the kensai. These bonuses must be divided between both ends of a double weapon. A kensai can use this ability once per day at 4th level, and one additional time per day for every five levels beyond 4th, to a total of four times per day at 19th level.

A multi-classed kensai may use his arcanely bonded item (for an arcane sorcerer or wizard), if it is a weapon, or divinely bonded weapon (for a paladin) as his living ki weapon. A kensai with paladin levels (or a paladin with kensai levels) who chooses to use his divinely bonded weapon as his living ki weapon adds his kensai and paladin levels together to determine the maximum enhancement bonus of his living ki weapon, but can only ever afterwards activate the weapon enhancement by expending his ki focus (instead of calling upon the aid of a celestial spirit). He must make this decision when he irst chooses to multi-classes by taking a level of the paladin (or kensai) class, and afterward it cannot be changed. If a kensai’s living ki weapon is destroyed, he loses the use of this ability for 30 days, or until he gains a level, whichever comes first. During this 30-day period, the kensai takes a -1 penalty on all attack and damage rolls.

This ability replaces the Stunning Fist feat and all Slow Fall abilities.

Living Ki Weapon Damage (Ex): A kensai deals more damage with his living ki weapon than a normal person would, as shown on Table: Living Ki Weapon Damage. This represents the minimum amount of damage the kensai’s living ki weapon can deal while ki focused. For example, a 2nd level medium-sized kensai with a greatsword as his living ki weapon would still deal 2d6 damage, but a 16th level medium-sized kensai with a greatsword as his living ki weapon would deal 2d8 damage.

If the kensai chooses a ranged weapon for his living ki weapon, he can only use the living ki weapon damage if his target is within 60 feet.

This replaces Unarmed Damage.

Table: Living Ki Weapon Damage
Kensai Level Small Kensai Medium Kensai Large Kensai
1st-3rd 1d4 1d6 1d8
4th-7th 1d6 1d8 2d6
8th-11th 1d8 1d10 2d8
12th-15th 1d10 2d6 3d6
16th-19th 2d6 2d8 3d8
20th 2d8 2d10 4d8

Unarmed Strike (Ex): At 1st level, a kensai gains Improved Unarmed Strike as a bonus feat. Unlike other monks, a kensai only deals 1d6 damage (1d4 if small, 1d8 if large) with his unarmed strike, unless he chooses his unarmed strike as his living ki weapon.

Bonus Feats: The kensai adds the following feats to his list of bonus feats: Weapon Focus (living ki weapon) (2nd level), Weapon Specialization (living ki weapon) (10th level), Greater Weapon Focus (living ki weapon) (14th level), and Greater Weapon Specialization (living ki weapon) (18th level).

Ki Strike (Su): At 4th level, a kensai’s ki strike allows his living ki weapon attacks to be treated as magic weapons for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction. Ki strike improves with the character’s monk level. At 10th level, his living ki weapon attacks are also treated as jade weapons for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction and dealing 2d6 extra damage to infernals. At 16th level, his living ki weapon attacks are treated as adamantine weapons for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction and bypassing hardness. A kensai’s ki pool otherwise functions as normal for a monk of his level.

Martial Training (Ex): At 6th level, the kensai is treated as have effective fighter levels equal to his kensai level – 4 for the purpose of taking combat feats with fighter level prerequisites.

This ability replaces the 6th level bonus feat.

Weapon of the Golden Soul (Su): At 20th level, the kensai’s living ki weapon becomes sentient, a weapon of the golden soul. Often, like the birth of a child, it can be estimated by the kensai, but exactly when it happens is usually random. There is one constant though; it always happens during combat.

When a living ki weapon “awakens”, it often reflects the personality of the kensai, but it is also shaped by the circumstances of its awakening. It could be said that the kensai is one parent, while the events unfolding are the other parent. For example, a living ki weapon used in a last stand to save a village of farmers against rampaging hordes of demons will often be inspired by the heroic deed and rise to the occasion. Or it might decide that the battle is hopeless and despair of ever being victorious in battle. A living ki weapon used to commit murder in the dead of night could feel betrayed and rebel against its master. Or it could come to revel in the carnage it inflicts, developing a taste for blood and fear.

Whatever happens in the course of its awakening, the alignment of the kensai wielding it will influence it; how he has acted throughout the time he carried the weapon before its awakening.

In addition to becoming intelligent, the weapon of the golden soul is permanently transmuted, no matter what material it was originally made from, into jade (see New Special Material: Jade below) with the hardness of adamantine (treated as weapon made out of both the jade and adamantine special materials). If the kensai’s living ki weapon is his unarmed strike, then his skin is transmuted into a hard, greenish material, granting his unarmed strikes the jade and adamantine special properties. If the kensai’s living ki weapon is his natural attacks, then his teeth and claws (or nails) are transmuted into jade with the hardness of adamantine.

Also, the weapon of the golden soul takes all of the magical enhancements that it had as a living ki weapon. The kenasi may swap these enhancement bonuses one per day with one hour of meditation.

Once awakened, the kenasi and the weapon of the golden soul are forever bonded. All other weapons (even those the same type or weapon group as the weapon of the golden soul) are treated as improvised weapons (i.e. the kensai takes a –4 penalty on attack rolls made with any other weapon). If the weapon of the golden soul is destroyed, the kensai must wait 30 days before choosing a new weapon to become his weapon of the golden soul. During this 30- day period, the kensai must meditate with the new weapon for an hour once per day, and wield it in combat (incurring improvised weapon penalties). The new weapon need only be from the weapon group he chose for his weapon proficiencies, not the same type as his previous weapon of the golden soul.

When creating the intelligent weapon, use the charts on page 533 of the Pathinder® Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook™. The weapon of the golden soul of can have any ability scores, senses, communication, and powers you want as long as the total Base Price Modifier does not exceed +12,000 gp. You may also choose one purpose for the weapon of the golden soul as long as the purpose its within the circumstances of its awakening. The weapon of the golden soul’s ego is equal to the total from its ability scores, senses, communication, powers and purpose plus the kensai’s Wisdom modifier.

The kensai may lend his weapon of the golden soul to other characters, but it will always be treated as an improvised weapon for any character other than the kensai as long as he is alive. If the kensai dies, the weapon of the golden soul is treated as any other intelligent weapon, and it retains the jade and adamantine special material properties as well as its magical weapon enhancements, which are now permanent. If the kensai’s weapon of the golden soul is his unarmed strike or natural weapons, upon his death it instead distills from his body and becomes an intelligent sash that bestows the jade and adamantine special material properties and its magical enhancements upon the new bearer’s unarmed strike or natural weapon (whichever was used as the kensai’s weapon of the golden soul before his death).

This replaces Perfect Self.


Special Material: Jade

In some lands, jade holds special properties when battling infernals (creatures with the aberration, fey, goblinoid, incorporeal, outsider, or undead type or subtype). A weapon or ammunition made of jade is treated having the bane property (+2 enhancement bonus to attack and damage and +2d6 damage) when wielded against infernals. Armor made of jade grants the wearer spell resistance against the spells and spell-like abilities of infernals. The amount of spell resistance is dependent on the type of armor. It grants spell resistance 13 if it’s light armor, spell resistance 15 if it’s medium armor, and spell resistance 17 if it’s heavy armor. Any item normally made out of wood or metal can be made out of jade.
Type of Jade Item (Cost Modifier)
Ammunition (+60 gp per missle)
Light Armor (+5,000 gp)
Medium Armor (+10,000 gp)
Heavy Armor (+15,000 gp)
Weapon (+3,000 gp)
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