Although ninja come to mind within popular nomenclature as the traditional Japanese agent of sabotage and assassination in the shadows, hitokiri were more prominent during more peaceful times such as the Edo Period and were more explicitly sought for the need to execute others with a greater degree of social flexibility and camouflage, as akin to hitmen; while samurai were allowed to strike down those who offended them, social standing was of utmost importance to those of higher class, and cutting down offenders demanded evidence and lawful reason with legitimate weight of action lest they risk dishonor and be forced to commit seppuku, or be punished by public execution, especially if targets in mind held major social influence and were of nobility.
Essentially acting by proxy, hitokiri in turn were not bound to these strict codes, and were of or could masquerade as ronin and lower ranking samurai, acting as the swords of their superiors and clientele. With their guise, hitokiri were able to strike within the bustle of city crowds as well as the darkness of night and the obscurity of privacy, could also join in the chaos of battle to seek out priority targets while their allies provided distraction, and upon finishing their job, could immediately fade out of public awareness without drawing attention to their superiors. Due to their tactics, their blindsiding and obfuscated nature had their acts appear as if they were the enactment of divine judgement by calamity of the everyday world, and popularly in turn, it was considered custom to leave behind notes reading tenchu, or "heavenly punishment" upon a successful hit to also demoralize and weaken the spirit of their victim's associates, and especially if another series of attacks was needed in times of political unrest or quiet yet another seething civil war.
While existing throughout Japanese history, hitokiri were particularly active during the turbulent years of the Bakumatsu, when both the Ishin Shishi and Bakufu required swordsmen who moved in the shadows, silencing their enemies swiftly and disappearing without a trace. These hitokiri were frequently unknown except in certain circles, where they would often take "professional" names like "Hitokiri Battōsai" and "Hitokiri Kurogasa". Frequently, hitokiri who fail their missions and are captured for interrogation commit seppuku in order to keep their secret orders from being known and sometimes, for the purpose of keeping certain assassinations secret, the hitokiri himself would be murdered or "erased" by his so-called comrades, thereby eliminating the full knowledge of his actions from the world.
Though some consider hitokiri merely murderers, those within the profession have said of that the difference between murderers and hitokiri lies in the fact that, while a hitokiri chooses to become a killer of his or her own free will, the targets to be slain are always chosen by someone else. Any hitokiri who breaks this rule to resolve a purely personal grudge opens himself to discovery, threatening himself, his benefactor as well as his missions and will likely meet a shameful end. Many, whether outright murderers or shameless braggarts, have claimed to be hitokiri in order to make others fear them, but it is said that being a hitokiri is not about killing - Not only does when one turn down the path of a hired blade to kill for a purpose and ambition, but a true hitokiri carries the weight of the lives he's taken upon his back as they drag him down into a hell of his own making all throughout his life for that very motivation. Often, one carries the weight of his assassinations for the rest of his days and those in the know are able to tell a hitokiri by his very presence or the depth of his stare.
The man walked amongst the crowd, the general hustle and bustle of the festival drowning out almost all other sounds save for the laughter of the crowd. Shoving past the crowded streetside with the crimson scabbard resting on his shoulder, his gait undignified and his appearance shabby, the manslayer walked past the disfaced storefront with an annoyed huff. His irritation practically scribbled on his features. The man is going to die. The hitokiri knows this. His fate has already been sealed, and there is no escaping it, and he is woefully unaware of this fact. A flash of a blade, and a glint of steel, and his head fell separate from his body with a geyser of blood. The laughter continued, unaware of the killing. The hitokiri flicked his blade, sheathed his sword, and kept on his way.
To be a hitokiri one must ask themselves, what drew you to the life of being a political assassin, or hitman? Did you join of your own volition or were you forced into the life? Are you regretful of your killings, or did you embrace it? Whatever your reasons may be, there is a lifetime of blood on your hands, and a mountain of bodies at your back. Did you always have a soul that was meant for horrific deeds in word, action and thought? If this is so, what drove you to such a violent service?
As more bodies drop at your feet, your intimidating aura grows. Starting at 2nd level, your training allows you to harness your bloodlust to terrify your opponents through your sheer brutality. Your access to this is represented by a number of brutality points. Your hitokiri level determines the number of points you have, as shown in the Brutality Points column of the Hitokiri table.
At level 2, as a reaction when you attack a humanoid you can expend a brutality point to deal manslayer damage, but only if you're using your signature weapon. The bonus damage increases as you gain hitokiri levels according to the Hitokiri Table.
A hitokiri's path will rarely deviate from the path of manslaying, most hirokiri will often either choose to remain on the path of the Slayer, but the few that tire of the fighting will become a Wanderer and instead choose to seek out and fix their injustices. Upon reaching 3rd level, choose an archetype that you want to be emulating in combat techniques. The archetype you pick grants you features at 3rd level, and again at 7th, 10th, and 14th level.
At 8th level, when a hitokiri uses his Kiai, he can expend a brutality point and make one melee attack against each opponent within reach of his movement. Modifiers and effects that would apply to his charge apply to your Brutal Kiai. You can use this feature once, you gain an additional use of this feature at 10th and again at 15th level. You regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.
At 18th level, a hitokiri gains the ability to seal the souls of his enemies into his signature weapons. Performing a killing blow traps their soul into his blade and destroys their body entirely, leaving behind their equipment in smoldering ashes. This prevents any form of raising or resurrection that requires part of the corpse. Flip a coin upon taking their soul, and on heads, a wish, miracle, or true resurrection spell can restore a soul-stolen victim to life. Check once for each destroyed creature. If the check fails, the creature cannot be brought back to life by mortal magic unless the weapon in which their soul is trapped is destroyed.
At 19th level, a hitokiri can use the power of the souls they collected in their signature weapons to fuel their attacks. Whenever you hit an attack, add bonus damage equal to the number of souls collected by that specific signature weapon. This bonus damage bypasses any feature that restricts any other bonus damage. At the end of combat, all souls that are trapped in all signature weapons are released from their captivity.
The path of the wanderer is an oftentimes lonely one, full of hardships and mental hurdles unlike any you would face. These hitokiri are often the estranged outsiders, vagrants that have either left the manslayer life behind or were left with nothing else but the life of a hitokiri. They are capable warriors who can bring an end to the unjust or cruel folk who refuse to listen to reason with a quick flick of their blade.
At 14th level, you gain the ability to get vengeance on someone who fells others. If you see a creature reduce another creature to 0 hit points, you can use your reaction to grant yourself a bonus to all damage rolls against the aggressor until the end of your next turn. The bonus equals your hitokiri level. 041b061a72