Ninjas move through the shadows, striking down the unwary and vanishing again with ease. Ninjas walk where others cannot. They blend their training in stealth and assassination with a focused mind. Their rigorous preparation sharpens their minds and bodies, giving them supernatural abilities of stealth and making them phantoms in the eyes of many. Although ninjas in battle lack the staying power of martial characters such as fighters or barbarians, they excel at making combat occur on their terms–appearing and disappearing seemingly at a whim.

Historically, ninjas came from clans of assassins and guerrilla warriors in feudal Japan. In a fantasy setting, they blend a gift for stealth and infiltration with devastating surprise attacks and supernatural means of avoiding blows. Although the specific abilities of the class differ from those attributed to the historical ninja, they mirror the ninja's fearsome reputation as a spy, assassin, and martial artist.

Adventures: Ninjas adventure for a variety of reasons. A loyal ninja might adventure at her lord's command, using her abilities of stealth and subterfuge to ferret out his enemies or recover powerful treasures to be used in his service. A mercenary ninja might seek only treasure and fame, while a more idealistic ninja might seek to thwart a growing evil. Most ninjas prefer anonymity to fame, and they go out of their way to disguise their profession and abilities. A rare few, however, revel in the mysterious reputation that surrounds ninjas and their training, making known their abilities and their role in a famous adventuring group. As ninjas grow in wealth and power, their goals often change, and their ability to uncover secrets and kill stealthily can shape the plans of entire nations. Rulers both fear and covet the skills of the ninja, and high-level ninjas whose identities are known often find adventures coming to them rather than the converse.

Characteristics: Highly skilled spies and assassins, ninjas can master a broad range of skills and combat techniques. Nearly every ninja perfects the arts of moving quietly and remaining hidden, and her secondary skills define her role in an adventuring party or a community. Many ninjas hone skills that help them become better spies, mastering the arts of social interaction and disguise. Others take on the role of cat burglars, practicing skills that help them find and bypass traps and locks. In combat, a ninja can deal out devastating blows if her opponent doesn't know she's there, but she's not quite as adept as a rogue is at delivering such attacks in a prolonged battle.

Ninjas jump and climb farther and faster than members of most other classes, and they are skilled acrobats as well. Ninjas also receive special training in the use of poisons, and many ninjas employ poisonous weapons in combat.

Even with these impressive skills, a ninja's most dangerous and remarkable powers involve the ability to step briefly into the Ethereal Plane. By focusing her ki, a ninja can vanish from sight, walk through solid walls, and deal devastating attacks even when not physically present at the scene. As a ninja advances in level, she can turn this ability to defense, causing blows that would otherwise hit to pass harmlessly through her body.

Alignment: Although ninjas have a reputation as dangerous assassins and deceptive spies, they follow many different philosophies and ideals and can be of any alignment. For every dangerous mercenary who uses her ninja training to kill for money, an honest and loyal ninja stands guard over a just lord. Most ninjas follow their own beliefs rather than the dictates of a noble or magistrate, and therefore more ninjas are chaotic than lawful.

Religion: A ninja's religious beliefs follow those of her clan. In a fantasy game, ninjas can follow any god, although most clans devote themselves to deities of stealth or trickery. Neutral or mercenary ninjas might devote themselves to Olidammara (the god of thieves). Evil ninjas might revere Nerull (the god of death) or Erythnul (the god of slaughter).

Ninjas who have left or lost their clan follow any deity and often choose not to worship a deity.

Background: Many ninjas come from isolated clans that train in secret. They spend years perfecting the arts of stealth and subterfuge in distant villages and hidden training camps. These warriors, whether deployed in the service of an honorable lord or sent to serve as mercenary assassins, carefully conceal their identities and origins. These ninjas weave complicated webs of disguises, strike only from hiding, and deal through intermediaries whenever possible. Because of their strong ties to their clan, these ninjas must often put aside personal preferences or goals to serve their lord or clan, but in return they gain the support of a powerful political force and access to the clan's many safe houses and hideouts.

Although most ninjas come from such isolated clans, exceptions exist at every turn. Some ninjas receive specialized training from a single mentor, perhaps even a retired adventurer who wishes to pass along his skills. Others train alongside monks and other ascetics in a peaceful monastery. In some places, far-thinking nobles set up their own ninja training centers. One of these centers might consist merely of a single teacher with a handful of students; another might be a full-blown ninja school that progresses students through a rigid series of tests, ranks, and trials.

Races: Humans, halflings, half-elves, and half-orcs often have the combination of adaptability and ambition necessary to master the techniques of the ninja. Elves, both graceful and deadly, rarely become ninjas, but those who do often achieve great fame or notoriety. Such elf ninjas often attain the heights of ninja prowess, shaping the history of many human generations through their daring exploits. Dwarves and gnomes seldom train as ninjas. Not only is their social structure too open to shelter hidden clans of ninjas, but their martial instincts run to more straightforward forms of combat.

Other Classes: Ninjas work best with rogues, scouts, or rangers. Although they appreciate the healing power of clerics and the sheer offensive might of fighters and barbarians, ninjas rely too much on stealth to completely embrace the idea of adventuring with other classes. Conversely, when traveling or not actively adventuring, ninjas who wish to go unnoticed benefit greatly from the presence of other classes. The less subtle and more visible her adventuring companions are, the easier it is for a ninja to remain in the background and disguise her own abilities.

Role: Depending on a ninja's skill selection and the mission that her party undertakes, the character's role in the group can vary dramatically. A ninja practiced in disguise and diplomacy might assume a false identity and act as the group's leader and front person. A stealthy ninja who has perfected the arts of infiltration might act as a scout or point, while a more cautious ninja might hang back, covering the group's rear. Whatever a ninja's role during routine dungeon exploration or other adventures, she is a dangerous and unpredictable combatant who can disable foes with poison, seemingly strike from nowhere, and escape almost any situation by using her supernatural abilities.

Game Rule Information

Ninjas have the following game statistics.

Abilities: Ninjas benefit from a high Dexterity score, since it affects their most important skills, and many of their abilities require that they wear no armor. A high Dexterity also helps a ninja to act first in initiative and take advantage of her sudden strike ability. A ninja also appreciates a high Wisdom score, which improves her Armor Class, grants additional uses of her ki powers, and helps her locate foes with skills such as Listen and Spot.

Alignment: Any.

Hit Die: d6.

Starting Gold: 4d4×10 gp.

Class Skills: A ninja's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Balance (Dex), Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Concentration (Con), Disable Device (Int), Disguise (Cha), Escape Artist (Dex), Gather Information (Cha), Hide (Dex), Jump (Str), Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Open Lock (Dex), Profession (Int/Wis), Search (Int), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight Of Hand (Dex), Spot (Wis), Swim (Str), and Tumble (Dex).

Skill Points at 1st Level: (6 + Int modifier) × 4.

Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 6 + Int modifier.

Class Features

All of the following are class features of the ninja.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Ninjas are proficient with all simple weapons, plus the hand crossbow, kama, kukri, nunchaku, sai, shortbow, short sword, shuriken, and siangham. Ninjas are not proficient with any type of armor or shield.

AC Bonus (Ex): A ninja is highly trained at dodging blows, and she has a sixth sense that lets her avoid even unanticipated attacks. When unarmored and unencumbered, a ninja adds her Wisdom bonus (if any) to her Armor Class. This ability does not stack with the monk's AC bonus ability (a ninja with levels of monk does not add the bonus twice). In addition, a ninja gains a +1 bonus to AC at 5th level. This bonus increases by 1 for every five ninja levels thereafter (+2 at 10th, +3 at 15th, and +4 at 20th level).

These bonuses to AC apply even against touch attacks or when a ninja is flat-footed. The character loses these bonuses when she is immobilized or helpless, when she wears any armor, when she carries a shield, or when she carries a medium or heavy load.

Ki Power (Su): A ninja can channel her ki to manifest special powers of stealth and mobility. She can use her ki powers a number of times per day equal to one-half her class level (minimum 1) plus her Wisdom bonus (if any). Ki powers can be used only if a ninja is wearing no armor and is unencumbered.

As long as a ninja's ki pool isn't empty (that is, as long as she has at least one daily use remaining), she gains a +2 bonus on her Will saves.

A ninja's ki powers are ghost step, ki dodge, ghost strike, greater ki dodge, and ghost walk. Each power is described under a separate entry below.

Sudden Strike (Ex): If a ninja can catch an opponent when he is unable to defend himself effectively from her attack, she can strike a vital spot for extra damage. Whenever a ninja's target is denied a Dexterity bonus to Armor Class (whether the target actually has a Dexterity bonus or not), the ninja deals an extra 1d6 points of damage with her attack. This extra damage increases by 1d6 points for every two ninja levels thereafter. A ninja can't use sudden strike when flanking an opponent unless that opponent is denied its Dexterity bonus to AC. This damage also applies to ranged attacks against targets up to 30 feet away. Creatures with concealment, creatures without discernible anatomies, and creatures immune to extra damage from critical hits are all immune to sudden strikes. A ninja can't make a sudden strike while striking the limbs of a creature whose vitals are out of reach.

A ninja can't use sudden strike to deliver nonlethal damage. Weapons capable of dealing only nonlethal damage don't deal extra damage when used as part of a sudden strike.

The extra damage from the sudden strike ability stacks with the extra damage from sneak attack whenever both would apply to the same target.

Trapfinding (Ex): A ninja can use the Search skill to locate traps with a DC higher than 20, and she can use Disable Device to bypass a trap or disarm magic traps.

Ghost Step (Su): Starting at 2nd level, a ninja can spend one daily use of her ki power to become invisible for 1 round. Using this ability is a swift action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity.

At 10th level, a ninja can become ethereal when using ghost step instead of becoming invisible.

Poison Use (Ex): At 3rd level and higher, a ninja never risks accidentally poisoning herself when applying poison to a weapon.

Great Leap (Su): At 4th level and higher, a ninja always makes Jump checks as if she was running and had the Run feat, enabling her to make long jumps without a running start and granting a +4 bonus on the jump. This ability can be used only if she is wearing no armor and is carrying no more than a light load.

Acrobatics (Ex): Starting at 6th level, a ninja gains a +2 bonus on Climb, Jump, and Tumble checks. This bonus increases to +4 at 12th level and +6 at 18th level.

Ki Dodge (Su): At 6th level and higher, a ninja can spend one daily use of her ki power to cause an attack against her to miss when it might otherwise hit. When a ninja activates this ability, her outline shifts and wavers, granting her concealment (20% miss chance) against all attacks for 1 round. Using this ability is a swift action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity. See invisibility has no effect on concealment granted by the ki dodge ability, but true seeing negates the miss chance. This concealment does not stack with that caused by other effects that grant concealment or by spells such as blink or displacement.

Speed Climb (Ex): A ninja of 7th level or higher can scramble up or down walls and slopes with great speed. She can climb at her speed as a move action with no penalty; however, she must begin and end the round on a horizontal surface (such as the ground or a rooftop). If she does not end her movement on a horizontal surface, she falls, taking falling damage as appropriate for her distance above the ground.

A ninja needs only one free hand to use this ability. This ability can be used only if a ninja is wearing no armor and is carrying no more than a light load.

Ghost Strike (Su): At 8th level and higher, a ninja can spend one daily use of her ki power to strike incorporeal and ethereal creatures as if they were corporeal. She also can use this ability to strike foes on the Material Plane normally while ethereal (for example, while using her ghost step ability).

Activating the ghost strike ability is a move action that does not provoke attacks of opportunity. It affects the next attack made by the ninja, as long as that attack is made before the end of her next turn.

Improved Poison Use (Ex): Starting at 9th level, a ninja can apply poison to a weapon as a move action. (Normally, applying a poison is a standard action, like applying an oil.)

Evasion (Ex): Beginning at 12th level, a ninja can avoid damage from certain attacks with a successful Reflex save. A ninja's use of evasion differs slightly from a monk's use in that a ninja can use evasion only if she is wearing no armor and is carrying no more than a light load.

Ghost Mind (Su): At 14th level, a ninja gains a special resistance to spells of the scrying subschool. To detect or see a ninja with such a spell, the caster must make a caster level check (DC 20 + the ninja's class level). In the case of scrying spells (such as arcane eye) that scan the ninja's area, a failed check indicates that the spell works but the ninja simply isn't detected. Scrying attempts targeted specifically at the ninja do not work at all if the check fails.

Ghost Sight (Su): At 16th level and higher, a ninja can see invisible and ethereal creatures as easily as she sees material creatures and objects.

Greater Ki Dodge (Su): Starting at 18th level, a ninja's ki dodge ability grants total concealment (50% miss chance).

Ghost Walk (Su): A 20th-level ninja can spend two daily uses of her ki power to enter the Ethereal Plane for an extended period of time. This ability functions as the ethereal jaunt spell with a caster level equal to the ninja's class level.

Level Progression

Level Base Attack Fort Save Ref Save Will Save ACBonus Special
1 +0 +0 +2 +0 +0 Ki Power; Sudden Strike +1d6; Trapfinding
2 +1 +0 +3 +0 +0 Ghost Step (invisible)
3 +2 +1 +3 +1 +0 Sudden Strike +2d6; Poison Use
4 +3 +1 +4 +1 +1 Great Leap
5 +3 +1 +4 +1 +1 Sudden Strike +3d6
6 +4 +2 +5 +2 +1 Acrobatics +2; Ki Dodge
7 +5 +2 +5 +2 +1 Sudden Strike +4d6; Speed Climb
8 +6/+1 +2 +6 +2 +2 Ghost Strike
9 +6/+1 +3 +6 +3 +2 Sudden Strike +5d6; Improved Poison Use
10 +7/+2 +3 +7 +3 +2 Ghost Step (ethereal)
11 +8/+3 +3 +7 +3 +2 Sudden Strike +6d6
12 +9/+4 +4 +8 +4 +3 Acrobatics +4; Evasion
13 +9/+4 +4 +8 +4 +3 Sudden Strike +7d6
14 +10/+5 +4 +9 +4 +3 Ghost Mind
15 +11/+6/+1 +5 +9 +5 +3 Sudden Strike +8d6
16 +12/+7/+2 +5 +10 +5 +4 Ghost Sight
17 +12/+7/+2 +5 +10 +5 +4 Sudden Strike +9d6
18 +13/+8/+3 +6 +11 +6 +4 Acrobatics +6; Greater Ki Dodge
19 +14/+9/+4 +6 +11 +6 +4 Sudden Strike +10d6
20 +15/+10/+5 +6 +12 +6 +5 Ghost Walk

Starting Packages

Race: Human.
Armor: None (speed 30 feet).
Weapons: Kama (1d4, light, 2 lb., slashing).
Shortbow (1d6, crit ×3, range inc. 60 ft., 2 lb., piercing).
20 shuriken (1d2, range inc. 10 ft., 2 lb., piercing).
Skill Selection: Pick a number of skills equal to 7 + Int modifier.

Skill Ranks Ability Armor Check Penalty
Balance 4 Dex +0
Disable Device 4 Int +0
Hide 4 Dex +0
Listen 4 Wis
Move Silently 4 Dex +0
Open Lock 4 Dex
Search 4 Int
Spot 4 Wis
Tumble 4 Dex +0

Feat: Point Blank Shot.
Bonus Feat: Precise Shot.
Gear: Backpack with waterskin, one day's trail rations, bedroll, sack, flint and steel. Hooded lantern, 3 pints of oil. Quiver with 20 arrows.
Gold: 4d4 gp.

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