The DnD Samurai subclass is a powerful option for Fighter players who want to dish out more damage, picking the crucial moment in a fight to strike with precision and accuracy. This Fighter subclass is versatile. It features some aggressive abilities, some defensive ones, and even some social bonuses. That might sound like it would result in an unfocused subclass, but fortunately all the Samurai’s abilities are strong, so you can’t go wrong here.
The Samurai is an odd DnD Fighter subclass in a sense, because the word has a real historical meaning. But you don’t have to wield a katana as your 5e weapon (the samurai were more into archery anyhow) or follow a Daimyo to be a DnD Samurai. In fact, you’re free to project whatever image the word Samurai conjures in your head when playing this DnD Fighter.
Most Samurai are considered honorable warriors, skilled duelists powered by their unstoppable resolve and “implacable fighting spirit”. If you pick this DnD class you might be a wise warrior bound by duty, but you shouldn’t feel hampered or penned in by stereotypes.
In this guide we’ll explain everything there is to know about the Samurai subclass, and consider some strong options for your DnD character build.
DnD Samurai Fighting Spirit
The most important feature for anyone playing a this subclass is the DnD Samurai’s Fighting Spirit. This is an ability that basically allows a Samurai character to give themselves advantage for a turn as a bonus action, a limited number of times per day – until their next 5e Long Rest.
If you’re playing a Samurai, this allows you to be very consistent with your damage output, as it’s far more likely for your attacks to strike true. You also gain some temporary hit points each time you use this ability. This gets even better when you factor in the Fighter’s Action Surge, allowing for some truly unstoppable, cinematic-feeling turns.
DnD Samurai features
|Fighting Spirit, Bonus Proficiency
|Strength before Death
We already covered Fighting Spirit, but for a bit more detail. You get three uses of this feature every long rest, and at first each use gains you 5 temporary hitpoints. At 10th level that temp HP goes to 10, and at 15, it’s 15. Easy to remember!
The DnD Samurai gets a bonus proficiency in an extra DnD skill. For this you can pick from History, Insight, Performance, or Persuasion. You can also forgo the additional proficiency, and choose to learn an additional DnD language instead.
The Elegant Courtier feature lets you add your Wisdom bonus as well as your Charisma bonus to Persuasion skill rolls. That’s pretty impressive, letting the Samurai schmooze it up without needing a high Charisma stat at all.
Perhaps greater yet, you also get proficiency at Wisdom saving throws (or Charisma/Intelligence if you already have this proficiency) making you more resilient to effects like fear or illusions.
Tireless Spirit is a major upgrade to your Fighting Spirit. When you run out of Fighting Spirit ‘charges’ this lets you gain a new one every time you roll initiative. Basically, you’ll get to use it in every combat from now on.
This ability lets you swap advantage on an attack roll for an additional attack. It pairs nicely with your Fighting Spirit, since that ability lets you set up advantage whenever you like.
Strength Before Death
Your capstone ability activates if you drop to zero hit points. Whereas most players would fall unconscious immediately, Strength Before Death lets you take a whole turn before this happens. The turn triggers immediately – it can even interrupt another player or monster’s turn!
This might allow you to heroically land the final blow and finish a fight before passing out, but it’s far more likely you’ll use this feature to keep yourself alive, quaffing a potion, or using a second wind. Note that you can only do this once per long rest.
Best DnD Samurai feats
There are a few DnD feats that pair really well with the Samurai’s ability kit. The key DnD Samurai feats to bear in mind are:
If you decide to play a DnD elf, then Elven Accuracy is a no-brainer. It lets you re-roll one of your dice on attacks taken with advantage that use dexterity (or intelligence, charisma, or wisdom) instead of strength. Basically you get ‘super advantage’, able to roll three times on attack rolls.
This feat is great and pairs amazingly with Elven Accuracy. It lets your ranged attacks ignore cover and prevents you from taking on disadvantage due to distance.
But the really strong part of this feat comes from the damage boost. You can choose to make an attack at a -5 penalty to hit, with a tasty boost of 10 damage if it hits. This is great for the Samurai, since giving yourself advantage helps to mitigate the accuracy penalty, ensuring you’ll usually get to land the super-powered hit.
Great Weapon Master
Great Weapon Master has basically the same risk/reward effect as Sharpshooter, letting you get massive damage out of two-handed weapons. You also get to take another attack as a bonus action whenever you score a crit or kill something. Obviously that part doesn’t gel so well, since you’ll often be using that bonus action on Fighting Spirit, but it’ll come up occasionally.
If Samurai isn’t doing it for you, check out our guides to the Echo Knight 5e, DnD Eldritch Knight, or DnD Battle Master. Or for more character options, check out our guide to the full list of DnD races.