The Way of Good Spirits
Ability Requirements: Strength 9, Constitution 9, Wisdom 12
The shukenja is a priest class unique to Rokushima Táiyoo. Like all priests in that land, they venerate beings known as kami, which comprise a variety of ancestral and nature "spirits". The shukenja, however, are unique in their approach to devotion. While monks pursue a personal perfection which they believe will put them in harmony with the natural world, and sohei fiercely defend scared places against defilement or attack, the shukenja go out into the world in seek of those in need. They are ascetics who have given up their lives for the purpose of service.
Shukenja are dedicated to the purification of the world, seeking to cleanse beings and places of negative energy. While outsiders may assume this means that shukenja are foes of evil, this is not strictly the case (though shukenja do generally oppose evil beings). The shukenja's primary priorities are to ease the woes of humanity and to harmonize relations between mortal beings and the kami. To heal is a shukenja's calling. While this includes tending to the injured and the sick, it also extends to purging the unnatural from sites of natural beauty and majesty (which are holy to the people of Rokushima Táiyoo). Thus, shukenja are often aligned against the creatures of darkness which pollute the Land of Mists.
A shukenja must have the enlightened will that is required of most priests, but they must also be physically strong enough to endure a life of hardship and simplicity. A shukenja character must have a Strength of 9, a Constitution of 9 and a Wisdom of 12. A shukenja with both a Constitution and Wisdom of at least 16 gains a 10% bonus to his experience.
The path of the shukenja is one of benevolent service, selflessness, and sacrifice. All shukenja must be of good alignment, though they may be lawful, neutral, or chaotic. The majority of shukenja are neutral good, however, and very few are chaotic good.
Arms and Armor
Though shukenja are often called upon to confront the minions of evil, they are not skilled fighters. Their selection of weapons is limited to the bo stick, chain, gunsen, jitte, kama, sai, sling, staff sling, spear, tetsubo or three-piece rod. Shukenja may not wear any armor heavier than studded leather, and may not use shields.
Spells and Magical Items
Shukenja have major access to the spheres of all, animal, creation, divination, elemental (all four), guardian, healing, plant, protection, sun, travelers and weather. They may use any magic items normally employable by priests, though obviously they may not use weapons or armor that are normally forbidden to them.
Shukenja consider the undead to be unclean creatures, and abhor them accordingly. By invoking chants of purification, a shukenja may turn undead in a manner identical to a cleric or anchorite. See Table 91:Turning Undead in Domains of Dread (pg 264).
The Way of Simplicity
Shukenja have strict rules governing their behavior and lifestyle. They are mendicants and may not have a permanent home or place of residence. They are required to live off the generosity of others. They may not possess wealth, and their possessions must be of the simplest quality. Any treasure or objects of value that come into a shukenja's possession must be immediately donated to a worthy cause, preferably a shrine in Rokushima Táiyoo. Failing that, any institution that provides healing or preserves natural beauty will suffice. Shukenja must remain celibate, and in fact must refrain from touching those of the opposite sex whenever possible. They must also avoid drinking or eating to excess.
Ability Requirements: Strength 13, Constitution 10, Wisdom 10
The sohei is a priest class found only in Rokushima Táiyoo. While a sohei venerates the kami, like all priests in that island domain, few outsiders would recognize the sohei as a member of the clergy. Sohei exalt the kami in a simple, practical way: they protect the shrines that dot the islands of Rokushima Táiyoo. Their path is closer to that of the warrior than a priest, but the sohei know that as the protectors of the sacred places, their zeal is what maintains the connection between the kami and mankind. Let the monks have their meditation and exercises. Let the shukenja have their healing and wanderings. The sohei simply watches and keeps his blade ready, and that is enough.
While a sohei must posses a superior will, he must also be as physically able as any warrior. A sohei character must have a Strength of 13, a Constitution of 10 and a Wisdom of 10. A sohei with a 16 or higher in both Strength and Wisdom receives a 10% bonus on his experience.
Sohei follow a lifestyle of discipline and structure. This is not for their benefit, but rather, in the interest of the shrines they guard. All player character sohei must be of lawful alignment, though they may be lawful good or lawful neutral. Lawful evil sohei exist, and while such individuals are not suitable for player characters, they are accepted among other sohei. After all, evil or not, any sohei is one more priest an attacker must cut down before claiming a shrine.
Arms and Armor
The sohei train relentlessly in the arts of war, often think of themselves as holy warriors rather than mere priests. Sohei may wield any weapon save the katana, and may wear any kind of armor. A sohei may specialize is one weapon like a fighter, though he need not do so during character creation.
Spells and Magical Items
Sohei have major access to the spheres of all, combat, guardian, healing, law, protection and wards. They have minor access to the spheres of animal, plants and weather. Sohei may use any magical items normally available to priests.
Sohei use ten-sided dice (d10) to determine their hit points instead of the eight-sided dice (d8) normally used by priests.
Call to Duty
Each sohei is attached to a specific shrine, which the priest has pledged to protect with his life. He may not occupy himself with any pursuit that is not related to this one duty. Sohei organization is hierarchical and very strict. A sohei answers directly to a superior for all of his actions, and disobedience is not tolerated.
For these reasons, a sohei does not normally make a good choice for a RAVENLOFT player character. For a campaign set entirely in the domain of Rokushima Táiyoo, however, a sohei PC is certainly possible. All of the quests a sohei PC undertakes, however, must be somehow related to the protection of his shrine. A DM also might allow a sohei PC to represent an extraordinary individual that has been given permission to seek out and protect an unguarded holy place (typically a location of great natural beauty or majesty) beyond the Poison Sea. Of course, this will still require the campaign to be more sedentary in nature.