Whether they call themselves kusa, ninja, shinobi-no-mono, kunoichi, yin-shi, lin-kuei, or sulsa, they serve as saboteurs, guerilla fighters, scouts, spies, assassins, and even bodyguards. Whatever role a kusa fulfills, she is a master of stealth and perseverance. There is no place a well-trained kusa cannot infiltrate.

They do their best work while anonymous. They wear whatever clothing and use whatever tools best assists them in their mission. They wear a wide variety of disguises during their missions. Contrary to their public image, kusa wear dark blue clothing only at night and when distractions and the fear of others are required.

They do not wear black as it outlines their forms in the night. Kusa wear clothes with natural shades such as grays, browns, and greens during infiltration missions, if they wear any sort of uniform at all.

They train in a variety of methods and techniques from different fields of knowledge and skill sets. Their primary devotion is to developing their skills in unconventional warfare. Martial arts are just as important. While they may not be premier warriors, they are the best warriors of espionage and covert operations. They train themselves in skills and talents that complete missions, such as intrusion, elimination, sabotage, poison use, athletics, information gathering, psychological warfare, disguise, and skills for an assumed identity.

Adventurers: When kusa adventure, it is done in secret, while wearing a disguise or using an assumed identity. They serve as espionage agents for hire whose first loyalty is to their clan or society. They might try to acquire funds for their organization by obtaining treasure or fulfilling a special mission. Most missions involve reconnaissance or espionage. They surprise attack enemy strongholds or supply lines, abduct important hostages, or wage campaigns of disinformation, search and rescue missions, or assassination. While kusa may perform assassinations for the greater good, as they perceive it, they are not the soulless, mercenary killers of stories. They might even be kusa running away from their past. Kusa that strike out on their own are entirely plausible. Like a kensai or monk, they prove themselves and learn more about themselves through the tests and trials they endure.

Characteristics: Kusa are masters of misdirection and stealth. They use a wide variety of tools and tactics. Aside from an affinity for stealth, rarely do two kusa train in exactly the same talents. Several schools vary in their training methods and specialties. Some are experts at assassination and the sneak attack, while others are masterful climbers and infiltrators, and yet others are masters of disguise. The best kusa turn invisible, teleport from shadow to shadow, or even walk through walls.

Religion: Kusa might be disciples of any religion. Whatever their religion, they have a strict code and comport themselves accordingly. Whatever religious leanings a kusa might have, she is usually a tool of secular organizations. Her religion is still important. It is through the kusa’s confidence in himself and her belief in her ability to use ki that she gains many of her special abilities.

Background: Most kusa associate with a secretive organization that they are born into. A few are dissatisfied peasants looking for a way to rebel without bringing the government’s wrath down upon their villages. Often, kusa are mercenaries who will serve the terms of their contract unto death for the beneit of their family and clan. Contrary to popular stories, they are not always born to peasants or the lowest bloodlines. Many are born to families or clans with enough wealth to train members without them working to stay alive and feed themselves.

Most kusa devote to some cause that furthers the goal of their organization, whether missions involve theft, sabotage, spying, or assassination. Regardless, kusa within an organization are always selected for their skill and ability set.

Not all kusa are members of an organization. Some are outcasts, running away from the organization that trained them, having to fight their former associates. The organization may even have been compromised. Most survivors on the run swear vengeance on any traitors and those who destroyed their organization or family.

Races: Human kusa can fulfill a wide range of roles. Sanesaram (dwarves) kusa are rare; when they do take up the duties they are often saboteurs. Yueren (moon elves) are effective kusa. Dahren (giants) do not make for good kusa; those who do take on this class are usually more guerilla fighter than infiltrator. Bakemono, with their afinity for devices and knack for invention, make excellent saboteurs. Qahngol (variant half-orcs) kusa are almost unknown.

Other Classes: Kusa can get along with others by keeping their true calling a secret. If the kusa considers a party of adventurers to be allies, she will often ensure that her abilities maximize everyone’s effectiveness in working towards a common goal. Secrecy can get in the way of the kusa working well with others, but this need not be the case if the kusa can develop a bond of trust with her companions.

Kusa always find spellcaster allies of great use. Other classes have their uses, though kusas are better than a fighter when it comes to stealth. Kusa do not get along with those that lack discipline and rely upon their own recklessness.

NPCs: A kusa could be anyone. The assassin who strikes from the cover of darkness is a kusa. The apothecary could secretly be a master of poisons. The ancient master who emphasizes stealth could be a kusa. The visiting noble from a far away province might be a kusa assassin. The stranger you meet on the road might be a spymaster. The peasant attending her crop might be a kusa resistance fighter. The courtesan accompanying the noble lord could be a kusa bodyguard replete with hidden and disguised weapons secreted about her person.

Hit Die: d8

Class Skills: The kusa’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Acrobatics (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disable Device (Dex), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Perception (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Stealth (Dex), and Swim (Str).

Skill Ranks per Level: 6 + Intelligence modifier.

Class Features

Table: The Kusa
Level Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Special Insight Bonus to AC
1st +0 +0 +2 +0 Sneak Attack (+1d6), Unarmed Strike +1
2nd +1 +0 +3 +0 Ki Pool, Shadow Movement +1
3rd +2 +1 +3 +1 Improved Concealment (+10%), Path of Perseverance +2
4th +3 +1 +4 +1 Genin Jutsu Ability +2
5th +3 +1 +4 +1 Genin Jutsu Ability +2
6th +4 +2 +5 +2 Genin Jutsu Ability +3
7th +5 +2 +5 +2 Genin Jutsu Ability +3
8th +6/+1 +2 +6 +2 Chunin Jutsu Ability +3
9th +6/+1 +3 +6 +3 Kusa Training +4
10th +7/+2 +3 +7 +3 Chunin Jutsu Ability +4
11th +8/+3 +3 +7 +3 Chunin Jutsu Ability +4
12th +9/+4 +4 +8 +4 Improved Concealment (+20%) +5
13th +9/+4 +4 +8 +4 Chunin Jutsu Ability +5
14th +10/+5 +4 +9 +4 Chunin Jutsu Ability +5
15th +11/+6/+1 +5 +9 +5 Jonin Jutsu Ability +6
16th +12/+7/+2 +5 +10 +5 Jonin Jutsu Ability +6
17th +12/+7/+2 +5 +10 +5 Kusa Skill Mastery +6
18th +13/+8/+3 +6 +11 +6 Jonin Jutsu Ability +7
19th +14/+9/+4 +6 +11 +6 Jonin Jutsu Ability +7
20th +15/+10/+5 +6 +12 +6 Improved Concealment (+30%) , Shadow Power +7

Weapon and Armor Proficiency

Kusa are proficient with all simple weapons. They have martial-artist weapon proficiency. They also gain proficiency with two of the following: blowgun, hand crossbow, katana (wielding this weapon one-handed requires exotic weapon proficiency), sap, short bow, and wakizashi. Kusa are proficient with light armor, but not with shields. When wearing armor heavier than light, a kusa loses her insight Armor Class bonus for class and level. She also loses the following special abilities: shadow movement, improved concealment, slow fall, evasion, fast movement, trackless step, camouflage, and any supernatural or spell-like abilities.

Insight Bonus to AC (Ex)

Kusa are trained to move quickly and dodge blows with astounding speed. As she gains levels, a kusa’s AC and CMD improves with an insight bonus whenever she has unspent ki points. This AC bonus represents a preternatural awareness of danger. As long as the kusa has ki, she does not lose the AC bonus even in situations when she loses her Dexterity modiier due to being unprepared, ambushed, stunned, and so on. (Kusa do lose this AC bonus when immobilized.)

When wearing medium or heavy armor, a kusa loses her insight AC bonus.

Sneak Attack (Ex)

If a kusa can catch a defenseless opponent the kusa can strike a vital spot for extra damage. Any time the kusa’s target would be denied a Dexterity bonus to Armor Class, or when the kusa flanks the target, the kusa’s attack deals extra damage. The extra damage is +1d6 at 1st level. The kusa may acquire additional damage potential by taking Improved Sneak Attack as a Genin, Chunin, or Jonin Jutsu Ability (see below). Should the character score a critical hit with a sneak attack, do not multiply the sneak attack damage.

The kusa can make sneak attacks with ranged weapons, up to a range of 30 feet.

With a sap (blackjack) or an unarmed strike, the kusa can make a sneak attack that deals nonlethal damage. She cannot use a weapon that deals lethal damage to deal nonlethal damage in a sneak attack, not even with the usual –4 penalty.

The kusa must be able to see the target well enough to pick out a vital spot and must be able to reach such a spot. A kusa cannot sneak attack while striking a creature with concealment or striking the limbs of a creature whose vitals are beyond reach.

Unarmed Strike (Ex)

A kusa gains Improved Unarmed Strike as a bonus feat. A kusa may attack with either ist interchangeably or even elbows, knees, and feet. A kusa may even make unarmed strikes with her hands full. There is no such thing as an off-hand attack for a kusa striking unarmed. A kusa may apply her full Strength bonus on all damage rolls for her unarmed strikes. The kusa can choose to deal nonlethal damage instead of lethal damage with no penalty on her attack roll. She has the same choice to deal lethal or nonlethal damage while grappling.

A kusa’s unarmed strike is treated both as a manufactured weapon and a natural weapon for the purpose of spells and effects that enhance or improve either manufactured weapons or natural weapons.

A kusa also deals more damage with her unarmed strikes than a normal person would. A Medium kusa deals 1d6 points of damage with her unarmed strikes. Small and Large kusa deal 1d4 and 1d8 damage respectively with their unarmed strikes.

Ki Pool (Su)

Kusa awaken to their inner potential early in their training, gaining a pool of ki points, supernatural energy she can use to accomplish amazing feats. The number of points in a kusa’s ki pool is equal to 1/2 her kusa level + her Wisdom modifier.

The ki pool is replenished each morning after 8 hours of rest or meditation; these hours do not need to be consecutive.

Shadow Movement (Ex)

At 2nd level, a kusa may move her full movement without penalty to her Stealth skill check.

Improved Concealment (Ex)

Beginning at 3rd level, a kusa learns to conceal herself by taking advantage of the existing conditions and battlefield terrain. Examples might be indigenous undergrowth, brush, fog, smoke (from fires or smoke bombs), or even billowing clothes hanging out to dry or drapes in the wind. Many kusa use nage teppo (smoke bombs) to make clouds of smoke to create the conditions they need to use this ability. The chance to miss the kusa while she benefits from concealment increases by +10%. The chance to miss the kusa while she benefits from concealment increases to +20% at 12th level, and +30% at 20th level.

This ability overlaps and does not stack with spells, spell-like abilities, supernatural abilities, or magic items that grant bonuses to concealment. The kusa may use part of an effect, objects or people to gain concealment as long as it partially ills the square the kusa occupies and/or she hides behind a person or object no more than one size smaller.

Path of Perseverance (Su)

At 3rd level and beyond, the kusa no longer needs to eat to survive. She simply refuses to let her body be bound to such requirements. She can gain nourishment from her ki by expending 1 point of ki per day that she goes without food. To survive, she needs only water (and air to breathe, of course). Also, a kusa may invest ki in this ability as if it were a chakra.

She gains a +1 bonus on the following checks and saves per ki point invested in this ability: Swim checks made to resist nonlethal damage from exhaustion; Constitution checks made to continue running; Constitution checks made to avoid nonlethal damage from a forced march; Constitution checks made to hold your breath; Constitution checks made to avoid nonlethal damage from starvation or thirst; Fortitude saves made to avoid nonlethal damage from hot or cold environments; and Fortitude saves made to resist damage from suffocation.

As long as she takes eight hours to rest during the current day, she gains a +1 bonus per ki point invested in this ability on the following day to resist the effects of fatigue.

The kusa also no longer suffers Dexterity penalties for normal aging, though she suffers Dexterity penalties for being magically aged. (Any penalties she may have already suffered remain in place.) Other penalties and bonuses for aging still accrue.

Genin Jutsu Ability

Genin are the rank and file of those chosen to be kusa. As they rise in ability, they learn special talents and abilities called jutsu. At 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th level, the kusa can choose one of the following abilities. Each Genin Jutsu ability may be selected once, unless specified otherwise.

Bonus Feat (Ex)

A kusa may gain any additional feat of her choosing from those listed as combat, ki, or chakra feats. The kusa must still meet all prerequisites for a feat, including ability score and base attack bonus minimums. Bonus feats may be selected once every three levels.

Child of the Night (Ex)

Because kusa are often so active at night, they gain a +1 competence bonus to attack rolls, saving throws, and checks made after the sun goes down. (This ability only takes effect above ground and when the kusa can verify that it is indeed night.)

Darkvision (Su)

The kusa learns to channel her ki to see in the dark as though she had darkvision. She must be ki focused. For every point of ki invested in this ability, she gains 15 feet of darkvision.

Evasion (Ex)

The kusa can avoid magical and unusual attacks with great agility. If she makes a successful Reflex saving throw against an attack that normally deals half damage on a successful save, she instead takes no damage. Evasion can be used only if the kusa is wearing light armor or no armor. A helpless kusa does not gain the benefit of evasion.

Fast Movement (Ex)

The kusa gains a +10 ft enhancement bonus to her speed. A kusa in medium or heavy armor or carrying a medium or heavy load loses this extra speed. If she has at least one point of ki available, the kusa can use this ability while wearing medium armor or carrying up to a medium load. This ability is not considered a chakra and ki points cannot be invested in fast movement. This ability can be selected any time that the kusa gains a Genin Jutsu ability; the benefit is cumulative.

Illusory Deception (Sp)

By expending her ki focus with this ability, the kusa can cast the silent image spell by expending 1 ki point. Use the kusa’s class level as her caster level and her Wisdom as the key ability.

Illusory Substitution (Su)

The kusa can substitute a mundane, miscellaneous, illusory object in her place in order to trick her enemies into attacking it instead of her. The kusa expends her ki focus and at least 1 ki point as an immediate action, and makes a successful Escape Artist check. The DC equals the attack roll of her attacker. Each additional ki point expended beyond the irst grants a +2 bonus to this check. She may substitute any object of her size category or one size category smaller. The substituted object looks and seems to behave just like the kusa, but it cannot move from its position. The kusa appears in an unoccupied space up to 5 feet away per point of ki expended. There must be a clear space within range for the substitution to work, or the kusa cannot use this ability.

She cannot use this ability while in a grapple. This does not count against or negate her normal movement. The illusory effect becomes immediately apparent on the following round to anyone observing.

Improved Sneak Attack (Ex)

This ability adds an additional 1d6 to the kusa’s base sneak attack damage each time she takes this ability. This ability may be selected every other level, up to six times total. Example: a 20th level kusa could have up to +7d6 of Sneak Attack dice, six of which are from this ability.

Invisible Warrior (Sp)

The kusa learns how to become invisible and may cast invisibility on himself. She must expend her ki focus with this chakra. The maximum duration is one minute for each point of ki expended. The kusa cannot make anyone else invisible; only himself.

Poison Use (Ex)

Kusa train in the use of poison and never risk accidentally poisoning themselves when applying poison to a weapon.

Slow Fall (Ex)

If the kusa with this ability is within arm’s reach of a wall, she can use it to slow her descent. When using this ability, she takes damage as if the fall were 20 feet shorter than it actually is.

Still Mind (Ex)

The kusa’s training focuses on maintaining a void within the mind to resist unnatural influences. The kusa gains a +2 bonus on saving throws against spells and effects from the school of enchantment.

Trackless Step (Ex)

By using techniques such as the “rub step” and the “sideways” step, a kusa leaves no trail in natural surroundings and cannot be tracked. She may choose to leave a trail if so desired.

Trapfinding (Ex)

The kusa adds 1/2 her kusa level to Perception skill checks made to locate traps and to Disable Device skill checks (minimum +1). The kusa can use Disable Device to disarm magic traps. A magic trap generally has a DC of 25 + the level of the spell used to create it.

A kusa who beats a trap’s DC by 10 or more with a Disable Device check can study a trap, figure out how it works, and bypass it (with her party) without disarming it.

Uncanny Dodge (Ex)

The kusa can react to danger before her senses would normally allow her to do so. She cannot be caught flat-footed, even if the attacker is invisible. She still loses her Dexterity bonus to AC if immobilized. A kusa with this ability can still lose her Dexterity bonus to AC if an opponent successfully uses the feint action against her.

Chunin Jutsu Ability

Chunin, the middlemen, are often the trainers, handlers, and supervisors of the Genin. At 8th, 10th, 11th, 13th, and 14th level, the kusa can choose one of the following abilities. Each Chunin ability may be selected once, unless specified otherwise. The kusa may also select any allowable ability on the Genin Jutsu Ability list instead.

Camouflage (Ex)

The kusa can now use the Stealth skill in any environment, even if there is no cover or concealment.

Crippling Strike (Ex)

A kusa with this ability can sneak attack opponents with such precision that her blows weaken and hamper them. An opponent damaged by one of her sneak attacks also takes 2 points of Strength damage.

Enhanced Mobility (Ex)

When wearing light armor or no armor and not using a shield, a kusa gains a +4 bonus to AC against attacks of opportunity caused when she moves out of a threatened square.

Ghostly Steps (Ex, requires enhanced mobility)

A kusa can move through an enemy occupied space without provoking an attack of opportunity. She ignores one attack of opportunity for each point of ki invested in this ability. Ghostly Steps can be used a number of times per day equal to the kusa’s Wisdom bonus (if any); if the kusa has no Wisdom bonus, then she may use this ability once per week.

Improved Evasion (Ex, requires evasion)

This ability works like evasion, except that while the kusa still takes no damage on a successful Reflex saving throw against attacks, she henceforth takes only half damage on a failed save. A helpless kusa does not gain the benefit of improved evasion.

Improved Illusory Deception (Sp)

By expending her ki focus with this ability, the kusa can cast the minor image spell by expending 2 points of ki. Use the kusa’s class level as her caster level and her Wisdom as the key ability.

Improved Invisible Warrior (Sp, requires Invisible Warrior)

This ability works like the Invisible Warrior ability, but the kusa may now cast greater invisibility. Her greater invisibility duration for this ability equals 5 minutes for every kusa level. She cannot make others invisible

Improved Slow Fall (Ex, requires Slow Fall)

This ability works like Slow Fall, except that the kusa’s ability to slow her fall (that is, to reduce the effective distance of the fall when next to a wall) improves by 20 feet for a total distance of 40 feet.

Improved Illusory Substitution (Su; requires Illusory Substitution)

This ability works like the Illusory Substitution ability. She may substitute any object of up to two size categories smaller than her own size category or one size larger. The illusory effect of the substitution lasts for one round per ki point expended upon activating this ability, and does not become apparent immediately.

The kusa can appear in an unoccupied space up to 10 feet away per point of ki expended.

Now the kusa can use this ability while in a grapple, leaving her attacker holding something other than himself. She first makes a successful Escape Artist check as a full round action against the grappler. She receives a +4 competence bonus to her Escape Artist check per point of ki expended.

Nimble Steps (Ex)

The kusa gains the ability to move through difficult terrain without penalty. She may also charge over difficult terrain that normally slows movement without penalty. She still needs to make any appropriate checks, such as Acrobatics, to successfully move over the terrain.

Opportunist (Ex)

Once per round, the kusa can make an attack of opportunity against an opponent who has just been struck for damage in melee by another character. This attack counts as an attack of opportunity for that round. Even a kusa with the Combat Reflexes feat can’t use the opportunist ability more than once per round.

Paper Bomb (Su)

This secret technique allows the kusa to create paper bombs that explode. Using small strips of paper that look like ofuda, the kusa invests them with ki and causes them to explode moments later. Creating paper bombs is a standard action that can be concealed with a successful Sleight of Hand skill check (opposed by Perception). These paper bombs may be attached to an object or person with a move-equivalent action. Often kusa attach them to thrown weapons and hurl them at a target. The kusa can invest ki points into the paper bombs without expending her ki focus, but she expends these ki points for the day. She may create a number of paper bombs in a round equal to the number of ki points invested. Paper bombs inflict 1d6 points of fire damage per two kusa levels. The radius of the explosion is up to 5 feet for every 3 class levels the kusa has (determined when she invests ki). The paper bombs explode up to 4 rounds (the fuse length is chosen by the kusa) after the they are attached to something.

Poison Immunity (Ex)

The kusa trains extensively with poisons and venoms of a wide variety, exposing her to very small doses. The kusa gains immunity to all poisons.

Rejuvenating Night (Ex)

You need only sleep half the normal time required for your race to rest, heal, and regain spells (if you know any) and ki points.

Shadow Jump (Su)

At the cost of one ki point, the kusa gains the ability to travel between shadows as if by means of a dimension door spell. The magical transport must begin and end in an area with at least some shadow. A kusa may not use her own shadow for this ability. A kusa can shadow jump a distance of up to 10 feet per 2 kusa class levels.

Kusa Training (Ex)

At 9th level, the kusa’s training techniques for dexterity-based skills exceeds others. She gains a +2 competence bonus on any Dexterity-based skill on the kusa’s list of class skills.

Jonin Jutsu Ability

Jonin are the leaders and chief lieutenants. At 15th, 16th, 18th, and 19th levels, the kusa can choose one of the following abilities. Each Jonin ability may be selected once, unless specified otherwise. The kusa may also select any allowable ability on the Genin or Chunin Jutsu Ability lists instead.

A Thousand Faces (Sp)

Using her knowledge of specialized muscle control, ki training, and certain disguise techniques, called the “seven ways of going”, a kusa can change her appearance, as if using the alter self spell. This ability may be used a number of times per day equal to the kusa’s Wisdom bonus (if any); if the kusa has no Wisdom bonus, then she may use A Thousand Faces once per week.

Defensive Roll (Ex)

With this advanced talent, the kusa can roll with a potentially lethal blow to take less damage from it than she otherwise would. Once per day, when she would be reduced to 0 or fewer hit points by damage in combat (from a weapon or other blow, not a spell or special ability), the kusa can attempt to roll with the damage. To use this ability, the kusa must attempt a Reflex saving throw (DC = damage dealt). If the save succeeds, she takes only half damage from the blow; if it fails, she takes full damage. She must be aware of the attack and able to react to it in order to execute her defensive roll—if she is denied her Dexterity bonus to AC, she can’t use this ability. Since this effect would not normally allow a character to make a Reflex save for half damage, the kusa’s evasion ability does not apply to the defensive roll.

Hide in Plain Sight (Su; requires Camouflage)

Using her special knowledge of the “five escaping techniques”, the kusa can use the Stealth skill even while being observed. If she has at least one point of ki available and she is within 10 feet of shadow, a kusa can hide himself from view without having anything to hide behind. She cannot hide in her own shadow.

Improved Shadow Jump (Su; requires Shadow Jump)

This ability works like Shadow Jump, except that the distance a kusa can jump increases to +5 feet for each kusa level.

Shadow Defense (Ex)

The kusa uses her talents in deception to improve her defense in combat with distractions and ruses. As a move action, the kusa designates one opponent to distract. She can change her Armor Class against that opponent’s attacks to her best base attack bonus, including all bonuses as normal. This beneit lasts until the beginning of her next action. This ability does not apply against area-affect attacks or spells.

Slippery Mind (Ex)

This ability represents the kusa’s ability to wriggle free from magical effects that would otherwise control or compel her. If a kusa with slippery mind is affected by an enchantment spell or effect and fails her saving throw, she can attempt it again 1 round later at the same DC. She gets only this one extra chance to succeed on her saving throw.

Superior Slow Fall (Ex; requires Improved Slow Fall)

This ability works like Slow Fall, except that the reduced effective distance of the fall when next to a wall improves by 40 feet (total distance is now 80 feet).

Kusa Skill Mastery (Ex)

At 17th level, the kusa can use certain skills reliably under adverse conditions. She selects a number of skills equal to 3 + her Intelligence modiier (minimum 1). She may now Take 10 when using these skills even if stress and distractions would normally prevent her from doing so.

Shadow Power (Sp)

Once per day at 20th level, the kusa can automatically duplicate the effect of a spell, power, spell-like ability, supernatural ability, or special abilities used in her presence. She must see the effect she wants to duplicate first. She must duplicate it within one round. This ability does not give or improve base attack bonus, saving throws, 9th level spells, or 16th level or higher class abilities. Any power or ability gained lasts as long as it normally does, up to 24 hours. The kusa uses her class level as the caster level and Wisdom as the key ability.

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