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A new skill for 5e Oriental Adventures.  The rules are taken from 3e OA with little modification.  They work fine in 5e IMO.


Iaijutsu is the art of fast drawing a melee weapon—unsheathing and sheathing it with blinding speed.


Use this skill to gather your personal energy (ki) in an iaijutsu duel or normal combat. You can add your iaijutsu skill bonus as a flat damage bonus on your first strike only – if you miss, the iaijutsu bonus is lost.

In normal combat you may add this bonus damage whenever:

  • You move before your opponent in the first round of combat (you have a higher initiative count).
  • During a surprise round. Surprise is a special case and a character proficient in iaijutsu may add his iaijutsu damage bonus to every attack so long as the target is surprised.

Iaijutsu focus is an Honour based skill.


You’ve learned to make your first strike so divesting its magical. You gain the following benefits:

  • You receive +1 Honour to a maximum of 20.
  • You are proficient in Iaijutsu.
  • Before you make an Iaijutsu strike, you can choose to take a -5 penalty to the attack roll. If the attack hits, you add +10 to the attack’s damage.


Iaijutsu duels are martial in nature, and often reserved for samurai and other swordsmen. The process of conducting a duel is highly formalized. Since duels are often fatal to one or both duelists, they are never provoked by minor insults or passing arguments. When a character has been deeply wronged, he must first gain permission from his lord, before he can issue the challenge. So too must the challenged individual gain permission from his lord to accept the challenge. Simply refusing a challenge is considered a dishonourable act, though it isn’t considered dishonourable decline a challenge if permission from one’s lord cannot be obtained.

If a challenge is issued and accepted, the challenged may choose the location of the duel, which must always be a public place with witnesses from both sides. He may also choose the time, which can be anywhere up to a year into the future. Not showing up for a formal duel is considered dishonourable.

Stance, Focus, Strike

A duel has three phases: stance, focus, and strike.

Stance: In the first round of a duel, the two duelists stand 5 feet apart and ready every muscle for a deadly strike. Both combatants get to make a d20 check to increase their odds. Each combatant can choose between a Strength check to strike hard and fast or a Dexterity check to draw their blade quickly and strike with pinpoint accuracy. Each duelist adds their proficiency bonus to their roll if they wield a weapon with which they are proficient. The result of their roll is noted down for later. A duelist may use their iaijutsu skill instead if they so choose.

Focus: In the second round, both duelists appraise each other, looking for signs of their opponent’s skill, training, and reflex in their stance. Each duelist gets to attempt a Wisdom (Insight) check (or use their iaijutsu skill instead), to discern the threat their opponent poses. Consult the Duel Focus table below for what the roll reveals. Many duels go no further than this. One duelist concedes victory to the other, recognizing a clearly superior opponent. Such duels are the only bloodless ones. Conceding in this manner is not dishonourable.

Check Result Information Gleaned
15 or higher Opposing samurai’s character level
20 or higher Opposing samurai’s skill bonus in Iaijutsu
25 or higher Opposing samurai’s total attack and damage bonus with his primary weapon

Strike: In the final round, both duelists attempt to strike each other down. The duelist with the highest check in the stance phase goes first with a single melee attack with advantage. If the attack connects, use twice the damage dice you normally would and add your check from the stance phase as additional damage. The duelist with the lowest check in the stance phase, if he has survived the initial attack, can now make a single melee attack as well, using the same conditions as the initiative winner. If both duelists survive the strike phase, combat continues as per the regular combat rules. The duel continues until one of the combatants is dead.

A character proficient in iaijutsu may use the bonus damage from that skill instead of double their normal damage die – whichever is higher.



Banner: Iaijutsu by MachiavellianMaiden

Posted in 5e, Dungeons & Dragons, Oriental Adventures


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  5. solomani

    Replaces “You can add +1d6 weapon damage for each +2 you have in this skill. This applies on your first strike only – if you miss, the iaijutsu bonus is lost.”

    With “You can add your Iaijutsu skill bonus as a flat damage bonus on your first strike only – if you miss, the iaijutsu bonus is lost”.

    The logic behind this is that using dice pumps out too much damage for the Kensei when you take A) multi attack/action surge into consideration and B) critical hits since the dice are also doubled trivialising encounters randomly. A flat bonus still provides a nice damage boost but is not subject to randomness which decreases the chance of one shoting bosses. One shoting mooks/minions is fine but not mainline boses. It also doesn’t trivialise other party members but is still a cool kensai signature ability.

    I also added the Iaijustu focus skill to allow double proficiency.

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