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Few entities are as clouded in mystery as the ninja. Some claim they do not exist, others swear they are everywhere. They are an enigma and have succeeded in the best disguise of all—disbelief. The ninja thrives on fear and misunderstanding, accomplishing his goals through deception. A ninja is skilled at entering places undiscovered, through stealth, disguise, climbing the wall, or mysticism.

Years of training have honed the ninja to perfection in body, spirit, and mind. He moves with purpose, dedication, and courage to complete his goals.

The ninja is a shadow warrior, combining stealth with martial arts prowess. While he forgoes the enlightenment of the monk, he shares their passion for perfection in unarmed combat. The ninja is guided by a sense of loyalty and honor to his clan and school.

Although there are renegade ninja, most share strong ties with their fellow clan members. The ninja is well known for using exotic weapons developed from, or appearing as, farm implements.

Adventures: Ninja adventure to test their skills, accomplish their goals, and learn of the world. The way of the ninja is as much spiritual as physical, and many ninja see adventuring as a way to hone their abilities and gain wealth to further their aims.

Few have one location they call home and prefer to roam to avoid detection and prevent themselves from developing recognizable patterns. Many use the guise of an adventurer as cover to conduct their missions. Often, their own allies do not know a ninja secretly operates in their midst.

Characteristics: The ninja is a mystical figure with a variety of skills focusing on stealth and espionage. His combat ability is less than some classes; he can fight unarmed and deliver deadly blows with his sneak attack. As his studies continue, the ninja achieves deep connection with his mystic powers and can channel them as spells. The ninja specializes in the ability to avoid, evade, and deceive his opposition. His training encompasses a tremendous amount of skills, making him extremely versatile in most any situation.

Alignment: Ninja follow a code of ethics taught by their masters. Each school, clan, or sensei can teach different values, so ninja may follow any alignment. The patient, practiced ninja favors the lawful alignment. The ability to develop deep cover and spend years lying to those around him takes its toll. Because of this, the majority of ninja have at least some degree of neutrality. A chaotic ninja can exist, but he is dangerous to himself. The path of the ninja emphasizes control and dedication, which are difficult concepts to exercise for the chaotic mind.

Religion: Most ninja follow a belief in kami, or nature spirits, that exist in all things. A few dedicate themselves to higher deities and favor gods of stealth, trickery, illusion, or death. Deeply spiritual ninja become clerics or druids without revealing their previous training. These hidden ninja act as enforcers within the clergy, performing secret missions for their god and clan. There are no deities who specifically encompass ninja as an aspect of their faith. However, ninja clans often erect shrines to several gods for appeasement.

Background: Every ninja was trained by another, there are none self-taught. The first ninja supposedly learned his craft from the spirits of the wind and sea. Ninja organize into schools or clans and teach their own variations on style, morals, and specialty. When ninja clans are aware of one another, they are rarely friendly, and many schools have fallen to wars with rivals. The ninja trainee spends years in seclusion training in the arts of stealth and combat before ever being allowed on a job. Once a ninja is trained, he is expected to remain loyal to his clan should he ever be needed.

Races: The ninja values surprise and diversity, so clans often include members of various races. Humans are thought to be the originators of the art, but half-elves and elves take to the profession easily. Halflings are well suited physically, but they often find it more difficult to disguise themselves as people, other than children, due to their stature. Dwarves and gnomes are useful for missions involving those races, but they find it harder to operate with impunity in human lands. Half-orc ninja typically favor the physical aspects of the class and serve as guardians and enforcers.

Other Classes: Ninja work well with other classes, and quite often multiclass with one or more to improve their ability to pretend to be members of other classes. They identify with the dedication exhibited by monks and prefer to work with them, when possible. Ninja are especially dangerous when defended by fighters, barbarians, and other warriors or supported by arcane or divine spellcasters. They admire the druid’s appreciation for nature and often feel compelled to defend such bastions of spiritual energy.

Role: Often, the ninja’s allies do not know his history. He creates a persona he presents to them and others filling whatever role he feels necessary for the time being. His ability of stealth and disguise makes him a great infiltrator and information gatherer. In combat, the ninja lacks the ability to go toe-to-toe for very long. He uses sneak attacks and poison to bring down adversaries, often without his allies knowing he uses poison. His stealth and speed makes him a great shadow for surprise attacks at the enemy’s rear ranks.

Ninja have the following game statistics.

Abilities: The lightly armored ninja needs high Dexterity for protection. Intelligence gives him extra skill points, and many of his skills rely on Dexterity and Intelligence. His spellcasting and infiltration skills rely on Charisma.

Alignment: Any.

Hit Die: d6.

Class Skills

The ninja’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are: Balance (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Decipher Script (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Forgery (Int), Gather Information (Cha), Hide (Dex), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge (local) (Int), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Open Lock (Dex), Perform (Cha), Profession (Wis), Search (Int), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Spot (Wis), Swim (Str), Tumble (Dex), Use Magic Device (Cha), and Use Rope (Dex).

Skill Points at 1st Level: (8 + Int modifier) x 4.

Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 8 + Int modifier.

Table: The Ninja
Level Base
Attack Bonus
Special Spells
1 2 3 4
1 +0 +0 +2 +0 Fast movement, unarmed strike
2 +1 +0 +3 +0 Sneak Attack +1d6
3 +2 +1 +3 +1 Poison use
4 +3 +1 +4 +1 Sneak attack +2d6 0
5 +3 +1 +4 +1 Uncanny dodge 0
6 +4 +2 +5 +2 Sneak attack +3d6 1
7 +5 +2 +5 +2 1
8 +6/+1 +2 +6 +2 Sneak attack +4d6 1 0
9 +6/+1 +3 +6 +3 Improved uncanny dodge 1 0
10 +7/+2 +3 +7 +3 Sneak attack +5d6 1 1 0
11 +8/+3 +3 +7 +3 1 1 0
12 +9/+4 +4 +8 +4 Sneak attack +6d6 1 1 1
13 +9/+4 +4 +8 +4 Evasion 1 1 1
14 +10/+5 +4 +9 +4 Sneak attack +7d6 2 1 1 0
15 +11/+6/+1 +5 +9 +5 2 1 1 1
16 +12/+7/+2 +5 +10 +5 Sneak attack +8d6 2 2 1 1
17 +12/+7/+2 +5 +10 +5 2 2 2 1
18 +13/+8/+3 +6 +11 +6 Sneak attack +9d6 3 2 2 1
19 +14/+9/+4 +6 +11 +6 3 3 3 2
20 +15/+10/+5 +6 +12 +6 Sneak attack +10d6 3 3 3 3

Class Features

All of the following are class features for the ninja.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency

Ninja are proficient with all simple weapons, plus the chain, hand crossbow, kama, nunchaku, sai, siangham and tonfa. Ninja are proficient with light armor, but not with shields.

Fast Movement (Ex)

A ninja’s land speed is faster than the norm for his race by +10 feet. This benefit applies when he is wearing no armor or light armor and not carrying a heavy load.

Apply this bonus before modifying the ninja’s speed because of any load carried or armor worn. For example, a human ninja has a speed of 40 feet, rather than 30 feet, when wearing light or no armor. When carrying a medium load, his speed drops to 30 feet.

A halfling ninja has a speed of 30 feet, rather than 20 feet, in light or no armor. When carrying a medium load, his speed drops to 20 feet.


Beginning as early as 4th level, the ninja gains the ability to cast a number of arcane spells. To cast a spell, a ninja must have a Charisma score of at least 10 + the spell’s level, so a ninja with a Charisma of 10 or lower cannot cast these spells.

Ninja bonus spells are based on Charisma, and saving throws against these spells have a DC of 10 + spell level + the ninja’s Charisma bonus (if any). When the ninja gets 0 spells per day of a given spell level (for instance, 1st-level spells for a 4th level ninja), he gains only the bonus spells he would be entitled to based on his Charisma score for that spell level. The ninja’s spell list appears below. A ninja casts spells like a bard, with no arcane penalty for light or no armor.

Upon reaching 12th level, at every even-numbered level after that (8th and 10th), a ninja can choose to learn a new spell in place of one he already knows. The new spell’s level must be the same as that of the spell being exchanged, and it must be at least two levels lower than the highest-level ninja spell the ninja can cast. For instance, upon reaching 12th level, a ninja could trade in a single 1st-level spell (two spell levels below the highest-level ninja spell he can cast, which is 3rd) for a different 1st-level ninja spell. At 14th and 16th levels, he could trade in a single 1st-level or 2nd-level spell (since he now can cast 4th-level ninja spells) for a different spell of the same level. Aninja may swap a single spell at any given level, and must choose whether or not to swap the spell at the same time that he gains new spells known for that level.

Table: Ninja Spells Known
Level 1 2 3 4
4th 2*
5th 2*
6th 3
7th 3
8th 3 2*
9th 3 2*
10th 4 3 2*
11th 4 3 2*
12th 4 3 3
13th 4 3 3
14th 4 4 3 2*
15th 4 4 3 3
16th 4 4 3 3
17th 4 4 4 3
18th 4 4 4 3
19th 4 4 4 4
20th 5 4 4 4
Unarmed Strike

Ninja are highly trained in fighting unarmed, giving them considerable advantage when doing so. At 1st level, a ninja gains Improved Unarmed Strike as a bonus feat.

A ninja’s attacks may be with either fist interchangeably or even from elbows, knees, and feet. This means that a ninja may even make unarmed strikes with her hands full. There is no such thing as an off-hand attack for a ninja striking unarmed. A ninja may thus apply his full Strength bonus on damage rolls for all his unarmed strikes.

Usually a ninja’s unarmed strikes deal lethal damage, but he can choose to deal nonlethal damage instead with no penalty on his attack roll. He has the same choice to deal lethal or nonlethal damage while grappling.

A ninja’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 (such as the magic fang and magic weapon spells).

A Medium ninja deals 1d6 points of damage with an unarmed strike. Small ninja deal 1d4 and Large deal 1d8. The amount of damage does not change as the ninja gains levels. If a ninja multiclasses with another class that deals unarmed strike damage (such as a monk), use the highest damage. The effects do not stack.

Sneak Attack

If a ninja can catch an opponent when he is unable to defend himself effectively from his attack, he can strike a vital spot for extra damage. Basically, the ninja’s attack deals extra damage any time his target would be denied a Dexterity bonus to AC (whether the target actually has a Dexterity bonus or not), or when the ninja flanks his target. This extra damage 1d6 is at 2nd level, and it increases by 1d6 every two ninja levels thereafter. Should the ninja score a critical hit with a sneak attack, this extra damage is not multiplied.

Ranged attacks can count as sneak attacks only if the target is within 30 feet. A ninja cannot strike with deadly accuracy from beyond that range.

With a sap (blackjack) or an unarmed strike, a ninja can make a sneak attack that deals nonlethal damage instead of lethal damage. He cannot use a weapon that deals lethal damage to deal nonlethal damage in a sneak attack, not even with the usual –4 penalty, because he must make optimal use of the weapon in order to execute a sneak attack.

A ninja can sneak attack only living creatures with discernable anatomies—undead, constructs, oozes, plants, and incorporeal creatures lack vital areas to attack. Any creature that is immune to critical hits is not vulnerable to sneak attacks. The ninja 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 ninja cannot sneak attack while striking a creature with concealment or striking the limbs of a creature whose vitals are beyond reach.

Poison Use

Ninja are trained in the use of poison and never risk accidentally poisoning themselves when applying poison to a weapon.

Uncanny Dodge (Ex)

Starting at 5th level, a ninja can react to danger before his senses would normally allow him to do so. He retains his Dexterity bonus to AC (if any), even if he is caught flat-footed or struck by an invisible attacker. However, he still loses his Dexterity bonus to AC if immobilized.

If a ninja already has uncanny dodge from a different class (a ninja with at least two levels of barbarian, for example), he automatically gains improved uncanny dodge (see below) instead.

Improved Uncanny Dodge (Ex)

A ninja of 9th level or higher can no longer be flanked; he can react to opponents on opposite sides of him as easily as he can react to a single attacker.

This defense denies another ninja the ability to sneak attack the character by flanking him, unless the attacker has at least four more ninja levels than the target does.

If a character already has uncanny dodge (see above) from a second class, the character automatically gains improved uncanny dodge instead, and the levels from the classes that grant uncanny dodge stack to determine the minimum ninja level required to flank the character. 23 Evasion (Ex): At 13th level and higher, a ninja can avoid even magical and unusual attacks with great agility. If he makes a successful Reflex saving throw against an attack that normally deals half damage on a successful saving throw (such as a red dragon’s fiery breath or a fireball), he instead takes no damage. Evasion can be used only if the ninja is wearing light armor or no armor. A helpless ninja (such as one who is unconscious or paralyzed) does not gain the benefit of evasion.

Ninja Spell List

Ninja choose their spells from the following list: 1st Level: disguise self, detect poison, feather fall, ghost sound, jump, obscuring mist, sleep, true strike.

2nd Level: Alter self, backstab, cat’s grace, darkness, fox’s cunning, illusory script, invisibility, pass without trace, spider climb, undetectable alignment.

3rd Level: Deep slumber, deeper darkness, false life, magic circle against good, misdirection, nondetection.

4th Level: Clairaudience/clairvoyance, dimension door, freedom of movement, glibness, greater invisibility, locate creature, modify memory, poison.

Epic Ninja

The epic ninja has mastered espionage and deception. His persona’s are legendary, but he has managed to complete obfuscate his real identity. He is merely a myth until he melts from the shadows to strike.

Hit Die: d6.

Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 8 + Int modifier.

Sneak Attack: The epic ninja’s sneak attack damage increases by +1d6 at every even-numbered level (+11d6 at 22nd, +12d6 at 24th, and so on).

Spells: The ninja’s caster level is equal to one-half his class level, as normal. The ninja’s number of spells per day does not increase after 20th level.

Bonus Feats: The epic ninja gains a bonus feat every four levels higher than 20th (24th, 28th, and so on).

Section 15: Copyright Notice

Player’s Advantage: Rogue, Copyright 2016, Samurai Sheepdog; Author Charles W. Plemons III.