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Jun 6, 2013

Looking at it now, it really is disgusting. The flesh is transparent. From the start, I had no idea if it would even make a clapping sound. So I diligently reproduced everything about human hands, the bones, joints, and muscles, and then made them slap each other pretty hard.


I'm still plugging away at Return, but I think I've got two more posts left, maaaaaaybe three if I go into more detail.

I've enjoyed this. I love old modules. Some of the design decisions were batshit, but what I really love about them is their ambition. Can you imagine running Return for a group? It could easily take more than a year, with at least four separate major "dungeons" and multiple smaller side trips. It feels epic and if you make it to Acererak, it really feels earned.

I'd like to tackle a couple favorites of mine after this, The Great Modron March and Dead Gods. These two really go together and the first leads directly into the second. Together they constitute one of my favorite set pieces of second edition: the fall and rise of Orcus. My only concern is that they're Planescape products, and I don't want to step on SirPhoebos's toes. With their permission I'll forge ahead when I'm done with this.

I really do enjoy something about the ludicrous scope of Return. The traps are insane, the length is insane, the monsters are insane... but somehow it ends up feeling completely epic.


Dec 10, 2007



I'm still plugging away at Return, but I think I've got two more posts left, maaaaaaybe three if I go into more detail.

I've enjoyed this. I love old modules. Some of the design decisions were batshit, but what I really love about them is their ambition. Can you imagine running Return for a group? It could easily take more than a year, with at least four separate major "dungeons" and multiple smaller side trips. It feels epic and if you make it to Acererak, it really feels earned.

I'd like to tackle a couple favorites of mine after this, The Great Modron March and Dead Gods. These two really go together and the first leads directly into the second. Together they constitute one of my favorite set pieces of second edition: the fall and rise of Orcus. My only concern is that they're Planescape products, and I don't want to step on SirPhoebos's toes. With their permission I'll forge ahead when I'm done with this.

Go ahead and :justpost:. You do a way better job at breaking down adventures than I do.

If I could recommend an entry, I'd would love for someone to take a look at how Tomb of Horrors was transferred over to 4th Edition.

As for running Return for a group, the only way I can envision it is if you let the party save-scum or let them jump back in after dying Troubleshooter style.

Apr 22, 2014

Dark Souls bonfires.

Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion

Isn't Returns a con game anyway? The point isn't to win, it's to get the farthest.

Dec 10, 2007


wiegieman posted:

Isn't Returns a con game anyway? The point isn't to win, it's to get the farthest.

The original Tomb of Horrors was a con game, but something like Return is probably too huge to run in the span of a single con.

Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
I have to admit I don't quite understand the con games, wouldn't they only work once? Afterwards, everyone(who was interested) and their mom would've heard about it and would know enough to have a completely unbalanced shot at it the second time around.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!

PurpleXVI posted:

I have to admit I don't quite understand the con games, wouldn't they only work once? Afterwards, everyone(who was interested) and their mom would've heard about it and would know enough to have a completely unbalanced shot at it the second time around.

There was a time before the Internet.

Halloween Jack
Sep 12, 2003

La morte non ha sesso

Tasoth posted:

So reading how Hot War starts really makes me want to believe that A|State has connections to some of the ideas in Cold City/Hot War. I need to finish my Armageddon review so I can do A|State, but the short of it is A|State history starts with a rain of fire from the sky that flattened everything and murdered many, many people. All knowledge of what came before aside from there being a before was destroyed. The City itself is stuck in some kind of wasteland and is surrounded by an invisible 'If a human crosses this boundary, they're ash and dust and weee bitty scorch mark' boundary. There's also places and things that are reality warping and feel like Alternatives and Incursors.
My preferred take on A|State has always been that The City is a colony of some kind, cut off from the world and hosed up by the same space-warping technology that got them there.

Feb 3, 2012

Fats Dominar is on the case

Return to the TOMB OF HORRORS part 18: I Am Become Art

Hello again, friends! We last left our heroes fleeing for their lives from Blac-Man (wakka wakka). Letís assume that they werenít subsumed into a void of eternal nothingness.

The gateway to the inner sanctum of the Fortress is in area 21. As I mentioned last time, there are two paths there: the quick and extremely dangerous route goes via the lair of the Bone Weirds, over the Tiles of Trepidation and through the Great Green Face Mk. 2. Letís take the scenic route, instead. We started in Area 9, the Vapourdrome, and hopefully avoided being stuck on a hook like a side of beef or killed by The Man himself in Area 11. The way forward is a secret passage in the ĎDrome, but letís assume that the PCs bypassed that for now. The corridor stretches north, after all! What could be up there? Is it traps? Itís traps, isnít it?

Yeah, itís traps. More callbacks here, which I like.

Area 12 is the Hall of Artistic Splendor. The floor is marble-tiled, the ceiling decorated with points of light, the walls covered in appallingly detailed paintings of all manner of horrible creatures. Most of these are just drawn from Acererakís horrible imagination, but four of them on the northern wall are more than that. There are four secret doors back there, each one located behind a painting of a tanaríri rendered with ďshocking realism.Ē Any attempt to access the door frees the tanaríri that has been grafted there, much like in Room 2, and it is pissed.

Room 13 is guarded by a nalfeshnee, an obese winged ape/boar. Iím not going to break down the stat blocks for these, since a lot of you are familiar with standard D&D demons and itíll take a long time. Suffice it to say that the nalfeshnee is roughly equivalent to the glabrezu in terms of toughness. It can shoot lasers that hurt you and wrack you with visions of your greatest fear, attack with spells or claws, gate in lesser demons etc.

Defeating it gives you access to its secret door, which leads to a short corridor (about 20 feet long) ending in an iron door with a pull ring that shimmers with faint blue light. Anyone who touches the door or ring gets zapped for 4d6 electrical damage. The door has an obvious keyhole, but itís fake; no key exists. Picking it is at -45% and will of course conduct a shock to anyone who tries. Opening the door reveals a blank stone wall on the far side.

Room 14 is guarded by a vrock, a horrible vulture-demon. It can eject spores to damage you, screech to stun you, mass charm, etc. It can also use gate (in fact, all demons can, so Iíll stop mentioning it).
The vrockís door leads to another 20 foot corridor with another door with a pull ring. This one glows red. Itís red-hot and you take 4d6 damage for touching it. Inanimate objects touching it save or melt (screaming all the while if intelligent, the book helpfully notes). Same deal with the lock. This door glows so brightly in infravision it can give characters with such vision headaches and disorient them. This door also opens up on a blank stone wall, which appears to conceal a secret door. Trying to open this door triggers one of Acererakís classic spear traps from the original TOMB OF HORRORS. This will happen over and over again until they leave it alone.

Room 15 is guarded by a marilith, one of those six-armed snake-woman demons. She is an unholy terror in melee combat with seven attacks (tail, then six magic weapons) plus her spell-like abilities. Standard demon stuff; mariliths are the second-toughest form of tanaríri after the mighty balor, so this is a real fight if the PCs try to pick it. Well, this is the third door, and the first two didnít have any treasure, so this oneís got to have something good, right?


dress for the job you want, not the job you have

Inside, the corridor runs 20 feet to a swollen and warped wooden door jammed into its frame. Studying the chamber reveals faint horizontal lines on the wall, as if the chamber has been filled with liquid before. Searching for traps wisely determines that the wooden door is indeed rigged with a metal cable. A second successful Find Traps tells PCs that the trap is, itself, trapped; leaving the cable intact does nothing, but removing it or cutting it triggers the real trap. Trap. Doing so triggers a counterweight beyond the door that releases a huge vat of jellied acid into the room. It dissolves the door, inundates the room to 6 feet deep, then spills into Room 12. This deals 3d6 damage plus 1d6 every round for 1d0+5 rounds as the acid clings; exposed clothing and equipment must save or dissolve, and it takes three gallons of water to get the acid off one person. The acid remains on the floor of room 12 for 30 days until a work gang of tanaríri clean it up, replace the door and reset the trap. Walking on the acid-y floor can destroy your footwear and damage you if youíre dumb enough to do it without protection.

Also, thereís nothing beyond the door.

Finally, room 16ís door is guarded by a molydeus, a two-headed demon (wolf and snake) with a giant axe. The snake-headís venom turns you into a manes, a lovely least tanaríri, in 1d6 turns and the axe is a vorpal and dancing weapon. Another brutal fight.

Room 16 itself is a big nothing, and it kind of makes me wonder why it has its own designation. It has a wall carved with meaningless abstract designs, but no traps and nothing to steal; itís just a vestibule to Room 17.

Room 17 is an interesting one. Itís lit by 14 torches placed at intervals, which donít flicker but remain steady. Thereís an altar of obsidian in the center of the room with four more candles (again, steady, motionless flames) and three sealed scrolls.

This room is the result of Acererakís experimentation with the time stop spell, a particular source of fascination for him. He used research in this field to preserve Moil, and another result was the weight of the wait spell, which he inscribed on all three scrolls more than 1000 years ago. Since then, each one has been storing up time in its vicinity.

The result of this is that within 20í of the scrolls, time passes at a very slow rate. Careful observation and an Int check will tell you that the flames are burning, but veeeeeeery slooooooowly. Once you enter the chamber and the slow-time bubble, they appear to burn normallyóbut to your companions on the outside, you are now moving in slow motion. Only one minute of time passes in the bubble for each four minutes of real time outside of it. The DM is encouraged to keep track of how long the PCs spend here, in case it becomes relevant (how?).

Thereís no furniture in here but the scrolls, but theyíre enough. This isnít exactly a trap, but they should NOT be disturbed. Breaking any of the seals or moving any of the scrolls more than 10 feet ends the spell and unleashes all of the stored time at onceó755 years of it per scroll, which immediately wallops the PCs, their items, and anything else in the way. Save vs. spell or age 755 years at once, with predictable results. Dwarves and elves will leave behind less ancient remains, but theyíll die all the same. Saving ages you 37.5 years, and even if you survive this you must take a system shock check or die. Aging to death this way also puts you out of range of most resurrection magic.

The block contains a secret compartment with some experimental materials Acererak has forgotten about : a potion of vitality, four elixir of youth, two potion of longetivity and a scroll of time stop.

So, proceeding north from the vapourdrome really is a dead end. There is some interesting stuff here, but nothing you can use to proceed. Traveling through the secret tunnel takes you to a north-south corridor at the west end of the Fortress, and here weíre making some progress.

Going south takes you to area 18, a wooden door with a pull ring. Of course itís a fake door opening on a stone wall, but it lures you in. Pulling on the ring triggers circular scything blades to project out from the walls for the last 20 feet of the corridor at ankle height. Theyíre enchanted +3 blades, so youíre in for a world of hurt. You can roll d20 and add your Dex modifier; on a 12 or higher you jump out of the way, otherwise thereís trouble afoot. Itís 4d6 damage per PC, with a result of 12 or more indicating a severed foot and 18 or more indicating two severed feet. If you lose an appendage this way you bleed for 1d4+4 each turn until youíre tourniqueted and receive 10 points of magical healing. Losing a foot reduces Dex by 2 and Con by 1. You can, of course, magically grow a new foot (and on the bright side you are now a candidate for the foot of Vecna!). Find traps tells you the door is trapped but now how; true seeing reveals the grooves in the wall, but theyíre very hard to remove (-35%) and any failed attempt triggers them. They also push out anything you stick in to block up the grooves.

Area 19 is the Temple of Elemental Oblivion. Woooo! It's more of a chapel, really, with rows of columns leading to an alcove containing a statue: a robed man with one arm thrown up in front of his face. This is, as you might have suspected, a formerly living person: a wizard named Deverus, who was one of the foremost experts on the Negative Energy Plane. His research helped in the creation of the winter-wights and the planning of the Apotheosis. He was obsessed with the idea of the Void as an element of its own, and helped create bone weirds; he also conjured up a pure creation of the stuff, which he thought of as a negative energy elemental. He created a ring of negative elemental mastery to help control these creatures, but in a fatal mistake hid it from Acererak as an insurance policy. Acererak found out and had Isafel, the medusa the PCs may have encountered in Moil, turn him to stone. The statue was placed here as a warning and a trap.

it ties the room together

The air in the chamber is murky and palpably dim, because the elemental is still present. Any investigation of the statue provokes it to coalesce and attack. It's tough, but not nearly as tough as the demons from earlier, though its attacks drain two levels of experience. It's very vulnerable to elemental attacks like fireballs and lightning bolts, though. Once it's gone you can see that the statue is missing a finger (where Acererak claimed the ring, which he likes) and the chest cavity is hollow (Isafel took out the organs, which she used to make magic items she had in Moil). You can't resurrect Deverus, even with stone to flesh first, because Acererak took his soul and stored it in his phylactery, so no use trying to interrogate him for information.

Area 20 contains another four-armed gargoyle statue, much like the one in the original TOMB OF HORRORS. It wears a leather collar studded with dark stones. It's stuck in temporal stasis and will not come out unless the collar is removed. It's a bit stronger than the original gargoyle, but again, nowhere near as powerful as the demons we saw earlier... or the Nightwalker... or the Horrible Thing from Area 8. If you do steal its collar, you will find that it contains a hidden compartment, with a slip of paper inside that reads:
"Ahead the lines of access squarely meet
The path to glory is at your feet.

This is kind of an awkward poem, but it refers to the trap door at the end of the passage, which leads to a crawlspace to Area 21.

Area 21 contains a magical archway of the kind that is probably depressingly familiar to those who traversed the original TOMB OF HORRORS. Like before, the area beyond is obscured by fog; like before, three stones on the archway glow three different colors.

If you just walk in, you're teleported to Area 2, while all of your clothes and belongings are sent to Area 31. Acererak has not gotten tired of this gag and, frankly, neither have I. If you are sent to Area 2 this way, it activates the curse of the painting, so save vs. spell or become 2D. But why the hell would any PC just walk through the arch at this point? If you press one of the stones, its light fails; pressing all three in any order renders the archway "safe." The fog dissipates at this point, giving you a view of Area 22, and a step through deposits you in Acererak's inner sanctum. Well, the outermost part of his inner sanctum.

Hope you're ready.

Next time: Lich-slapped!

DAD LOST MY IPOD fucked around with this message at 23:12 on Oct 4, 2016

Oct 23, 2013

I suspect that the DM is supposed to elaborately overdescribe the empty room and make the players paranoid as hell. I've heard that idea for a "trap" pop up all over the place.

Feb 25, 2011

my mum says im cool

Toilet Rascal
The only really possible way I can see to do this dungeon is to have a way to get the demons on your side with some sort of binding spell or power. They aren't going to give a gently caress about a lot of the traps and maybe a few of Acerak's attacks.

Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion

Or, as I'm almost positive was previously mentioned, an arbitrary number of celestial badgers can eventually render any location trap-free.

Feb 25, 2011

my mum says im cool

Toilet Rascal
Celestial badgers still need air and poo poo, right? The dungeon's in the negative energy plane, the badgers will immediately suffocate if they're lucky.

Feb 3, 2012

Fats Dominar is on the case

No spoilers, but in the next installment we're going to see why you can't really hope to win over any of the demons. Honestly the best way to do it is incredibly carefully and slowly. Smart players aren't going to fall for most of the traps. In the demon painting room, for example, they're likely to fight one demon, maaaaaaaaybe trigger its associated trap, then figure out the score and leave the rest alone.

Also the Fortress itself has air and heat and stuff. Not really fair otherwise.

Nov 8, 2009

I love the potoo,
and the potoo loves you.


No spoilers, but in the next installment we're going to see why you can't really hope to win over any of the demons. Honestly the best way to do it is incredibly carefully and slowly. Smart players aren't going to fall for most of the traps. In the demon painting room, for example, they're likely to fight one demon, maaaaaaaaybe trigger its associated trap, then figure out the score and leave the rest alone.

Also the Fortress itself has air and heat and stuff. Not really fair otherwise.

Still seems a bit less bullshit than Valley of Dust and Fire.

Jan 6, 2012


Legend of the Five Rings First Edition

Kyuden Seppun: Doomed Highborn Murderous Manchildren: Origins

Look at that pimpin' robe. The Unicorn should win on style alone.

Welcome to Kyuden Seppun! Properly this book is called Winter Court, as can be seen on the picture above, but there are several Winter Court books in the line that bear the name of the estate where the year's Winter Court is being held. This book is the "clan book" for the Imperial families, as well as a metaplot book that pushes events closer to the beginning of the CCG's timeline (remember, 1E is written in the past of the CCG) and a general guide to Rokugan's society and culture. Much of the information here has already been written up in the other books we've seen some far, and this book has a serious case of "alright, now we'll write about THIS" that needed better editing to get under control. This book is helmed by Ree Soesbee along with the AEG crew, including people like Rob Vaux, John Wick, Chris Hepler, Jennifer Brandes and a host of others!

The book opens to an invitation for the PCs from Kakita Ryoku, she who wrote that Winter novel that keeps getting quoted in the clan books. She's also the Emperor's own aunt and his Mistress of Ceremonies! Grand celebrations are about to unfold in Kyuden Seppun, the ancestral home of the Seppun family just north of Otosan Uchi. Guess the Emprah wasn't feeling like going far this year!


And then we take a deep dive into the morass of RPG FICTION. Strap yourselves in, this involves Doji Hoturi and Bayushi Kachiko! All of this happens ten years in the past, mind you. Kachiko (still Shosuro Kachiko at this time) is with her father, the Shosuro daimyo, and her brother Hametsu. She considers him completely inept, and he considers her headstrong and unknowing of a woman's 'proper place', and stammers as he tells his father, Koshurin, of the rumors going on around her - after all, she is "not unattractive." She is to be married to the Crab, he says, but the daimyo stops him saying that she's not even worthy of the dogs in the Kaiu Wall. Kachiko listens to all of this while bristling with anger, and suddenly Koshurin sends Hametsu away with a barked order. Dad is really pissed: Hametsu tried to kill Kachiko, and she returned the favor by actually sending an assassin after him, the Shosuro heir himself. He considers her a failure and a fool, but she can still have some use. The unthinkable has happened: Bayushi Shoju, the Clan Champion, wants her hand in marriage. There are plans if she can survive the winter, he says. In the year's Winter Court, her engagement to Hiruma Maruku of the Crab will be broken, and if she survives the dishonor she is welcome to marry the daimyo. Kachiko smiles inwardly, as she knew the news from days ago, but when she leaves she notices that her hands are actually bleeding from how deep her fingernails had bitten into her palms. Hoturi, meanwhile, is training with his brother Kuwanan under the watchful sight of their sensei, Kakita Toshimoko. The wizened sensei praises Hoturi lightly for the improvement in his technique, but he is interrupted by the young men's father, Satsume, who doesn't have nice things to say for Hoturi and instead praises Kuwanan. While the boys return to their training, Satsume goes on a walk with Toshimoko. He's got some trouble: the Winter Court is coming but he has Imperial business to attend to in the Asako lands. A daimyo must be sent, but he curtly stops Toshimoko when he suggests Hoturi. He will not have his "idiot son" shaming the clan by cavorting with any samurai-ko he finds, his appetites are too well known. The old duelist suggests one Asahina Dorai, but Satsume has an even lesser opinion of that kid. Toshimoko snarks that a fool would be better that someone that would enjoy himself and bring the Clan honor, and Satsume wonders why he hasn't sent Toshimoko to a monastery. Then again, he could turn the Shrine to Uikku into a geisha house. Toshimoko finally manages to trap him by offering to guard Hoturi's honor personally and giving his word, and Satsume can't go against the word of his own respected sensei. Annoyed, he grabs Kuwanan's boken and half-spars half-fights Hoturi, pummeling him down with a flurry of blows. He brings his own son down with heavy blows, and as blood trickles from Hoturi's split cheek Satsume snarls that he is weak and useless, and may the Fortunes have pity on the Crane. He'll never prove himself worthy to him.


Winter Court begins and that little bit where Hoturi duels and kills the Hiruma fiancee from Way of the Crane happens. The courtiers are buzzing with rumors and whispers about the Shosuro maiden saved by the son of the Crane daimyo in front of the entire assemblage. As it turned out, the Crane also had a hand in things: they learned of the breach of engagement, and Kakita Yoshi had been quietly sent to speak with the Hiruma boy, getting into his head ideas of Kachiko being unfaithful and maybe even pregnant already. Now, the Scorpion owed the Crane for saving their daughter's life. Kachiko is feeling pretty smug about things, and so is Hoturi, who is already thinking of bedding Kachiko. Both think little of each other at this point as they meet politely. She thinks he's beautiful but lacking intelligence, and he thinks he's just like all women - magnificent but a harridan under the polite conversation. During their polite talk Hoturi quotes the Tao of Shinsei, and Kachiko internally rolls her eyes: all men can quote the Tao, even her own brother. Hoturi says that his sister Shizue reads it to him while he trains, which actually surprises Kachiko. She says she thought that such tasks were 'beyond' the minds of noblewomen, and he laughs - why should women be refused anything? Those who say women are not 'suited' to learning don't know of their abilities. Kachiko remembers having her hand blackened by Hametsu's tutor for even approaching the book, and in spite of herself she grows interested in the Crane. They pass two courtiers arguing, and Kachiko amuses herself at their ineptitude - and then notices Hoturi is amused too. He knows the game, she realizes. They gossip on the two men, an Unicorn trying to score a rich wife and a Lion trying to marry his ugly daughters, and both Hoturi and Kachiko come to see that the other part is far more intelligent than they thought. Hoturi ends up challenging Kachiko to a game of go - though of course, that's not the actual game that he is offering. He is slowly growing enthralled with her intelligence, and she sees in his gaze both lust and respect, and the latter emotion she is unprepared to accept or control.

So, the past! Hantei waits while his brothers and sisters fight in the Tournament of the Kami. Hantei, the youngest son, waits his turn patiently. A voice rings in his head as he watches each of his siblings pass by to challenge him, but he simply waits. Of Hida, the voice says that he wishes for an easy victory, but it will never be so. He is destined to fight eternally, and eternity does not give his secrets so easily. When the great warrior passes him by, Hantei remembers the Heavens bitterly, all of it lost to him. He hates the earth, the cold and dirty and arrogant piece of mud and clay. Shinjo calls him out, and yet he waits: the voice says that she is brave and yet cursed by their father's wrath, and that she will be the last one of them to truly die. He remembers dreaming of her calling to him to join them in their dark prison, and shudders at the thought. Bayushi tries to get him to join him, but then it's his turn to duel Shiba. The voice says that the twins (they were twins?) are much alike in temperament and deed, will struggle between themselves and reach the same conclusion: betrayal. Hantei remembers his epic fight with Onnotangu, Lord Moon, and how he tore his body open to free his siblings. Doji interrupts his thoughts to call to him, and yet the voice tells him that she is not for him - the stars claimed her for another, and soon she will not remember the Heavens. This is her world, and nothing can change that. poo poo, Hantei had the hots for his own sister? :gonk:


In another life, another world, she would have been his.

poo poo!

Anyway, she goes off to duel Akodo and he grumbles some more, remembering how he tried to catch her as she fell to the earth. When they all landed on the mortal realm they looked up to him, and he bitterly thinks on how they had never seen the beauty and joy of the heavens, or known the agony that he had endured, the countless years of hiding and training - what he lost, when he fell. He notices Togashi looking at him and asks him why he won't challenge him to lead the land he despises so. Or is this a contest to decide who will rule over the others? He fought and died for them, sacrificed his place in the heavens for them and yet they think of themselves as his equals. Togashi replies that Hantei sees him looking at him, but he doesn't really see. They stare at each other for a long time, and eventually both smile. The voice says that he will never be parted from his people: Togashi is his father's favored, and a darkness will rest in his heart until one of his own slays him. Hantei says that perhaps he doesn't know the things Togashi does, but he sees the one thing he can't see: where he turns his back. He offers to challenge him, but Togashi says no. He already knows who will win. At last it's Akodo vs Hantei, and Akodo is beaming with the joy of battle and his visions of a strong, merciless and shining Empire. It will be as their Mother, but Hantei asks, what does he know of the Heavens? They duel, and it's the thing of legends, mountains springing where they step, earth rumbling with their battle cries. Finally Akodo forgets himself and raises his sword to crush his brother, but Hantei turns his blade to blind him with the light of Lady Sun. This opened Akodo's eyes to the Heavens, and shamed he lets his arms down. He was about to kill his own little brother. Hantei sheathes his sword and forgives him, but the voice says that Akodo children will be the death of his children. The Lion will steal Hantei's throne and his last son will die by their hand. The voice calls Hantei 'son' and tells him to destroy Akodo, but he refuses, and Togashi murmurs about how when the last Akodo falls, so will the last Hantei.

"Ah, yes, interesting... you're making this poo poo up as you go, Shinsei, aren't you."

So, Rokugan! As we know, we have the samurai, who are the top class. The Emperor and his family are at the top of the samurai ladder, with the major daimyo of the Seven Clans under him, then the vassal family daimyos and so on. Only samurai can wear daisho, the two noble swords. The Emperor creates the laws and is the nominal head of religion, using a bureau of administrators (from the Otomo, Miya or Doji families typically) to handle the daily affairs of state. In spite of this it's the Seven Clans who hold actual military power in the realm. The thing is, all land officially belongs to the Emperor, who allocates them among the Clans. Otosan Uchi, the Empire's capital, was built to accomplish the necessary tasks of bureaucracy, along with maintaining roads, taxes, the Imperial army, communication and political infrastructure. The actual system was mostly created by Lady Doji and her son, Nio. All of the food raised by the Clans belongs to the Empreror, who then gives out portions of rice to his people. Instead of actually transporting the rice to the capital, a system was devised in which the rise was counted in units of koku (the amount necessary to feed one man and his family for a year). These koku were first counted using small wooden pieces that later became the familiar golden koku coins. Each year, administrators go and take the Emperor's share from the Clans' wealth, and then dole out koku that can be redeemed from the Emperor's stores. Since the economy is based on the yearly crops, the value of koku rises or decreases in time, and even the Yasuki would be hard pressed to create 'price guides' for items with the erratic nature of the economy. The Emperor gives his people through the Clan Champions enough koku to feed them. Each landholding samurai can also get 3-7 koku per year above the amount necessary to feed their peasants, while daimyo get one koku per samurai at their service. This money is for outfitting costs. Landholders can also get 10 koku per village, which may not sound like much but it's the equivalent of 10 family salaries a year.

There's two kinds of samurai: nobility and gentry. Nobility are the actual samurai family members, while gentry are warriors that have proved themselves in combat or some other noteworthy activity and have been granted land and title. Many nobles consider gentry to be kind of 'new money', and older families constantly remind gentry of their status and need to prove themselves worthy of the name they've borrowed. An example of this is a peasant spearman named Reju, who in a fierce battle happens to save a Doji samurai. After the battle is over, the Doji decides to reward the spearman with land and a title. He is now known as Doji Reju and has three villages under his control. Every year he collects taxes, keeps a small part for himself and sends the rest to his lord, who collects a small part from the total taxes he gets and sends the rest to his lord, and so on and so on up to the Emperor. After several generations, Doji Reju's great-grandson (also named Reju) rescues an Imperial princess from a Shadowlands Oni. Extremely impressed, the Doji daimyo gives Reju more towns to control, the right to raise an army and, with Imperial approval, a family name, Osuka. He is still known as Doji Reju in the official Imperial scrolls and that's how outsiders know him, but within the Doji family he is now Osuka Reju, with much more prestige as a minor member of the kuge class. But basically you can have PCs with custom family names and say that "oh yeah, they actually are vassals of So-and-So family" which is neat.

A great deal of the Empire's politics coms from social mobility within one level: a samurai might wish to become a great general, or a courtier might hope to become an Imperial advisor. These rankings might seem arbitrary, but they are strictly adhered to and their relevance is always taken into account. Furthermore, such moves are more easier than advancing to a higher social class: a samurai maiden of a low family might be allowed to marry into a more prestigious one if her dowry is exceptional (:sigh:) but it's extremely unlikely that a heimin will be allowed to marry even the lowest samurai. The kuge are the elite of the samurai. These include the Hantei, Otomo and Seppun families, the daimyo of each Great Clan and the members of their immediate families. There might be several thousand samurai with the family name 'Doji' in the Empire but only a select few are actually part of the Doji noble house. Others are actually adopted into the house, and may bear the greater family's name or a vassal family name as we've seen. The vassal families aren't considered part of the kuge even though they're still samurai. A samurai that uses their own personal house name in official matters rather than the name of their lord's house insults their lord's name. Below the kuge are the buke, the bulk of the samurai caste: the generals, warlords and other powerful but non-landed individuals in a Clan. The buke come from the original farmers that fought for the Seven Clans: they rebelled against high taxation and from them came the proto-samurai. They cover all warrior types from the lowest foot-soldier to the highest governor-general. The buke also include the lesser sons and daughters of the kuge, the ones that don't stand to inherit the family's power or land. Below these are the bonge, the commoners. These include heimin and hinin. Non-eta commoners are eager to distinguish themselves in any way possible in the hope of one day being allowed in to the ranks of the buke or joining lesser kuge families by marriage. Geisha aren't officially considered bonge, but a class of their own, and they are expected to comport themselves as if they were samurai even though they have none of their rank, social prestige or power. There's also ji-samurai, "half-samurai" which are vassal family warriors, eager to distinguish themselves and raise their position through glory in battle.

So, gifts! They're really important. The monetary valor of the gift matters much less than the sentimental one. The way a Rokugani gives a gifts can indicate whether they respect the other part, are friends to them or their deadliest enemy. It is considered impolite to give useful gifts, if not outright insulting. Being given money implies that the samurai's daimyo does not provide for them. The things a samurai can't ask for, now those are gifts. Purchasing them can be hard, since for one buying stuff is considered dishonorable for samurai, and buying things for say, a daimyo can be pointless since the daimyo already owns anything they want in their province. It's not the worse idea but it's not something that will get people into the Winter Court. It's the thought and presentation that counts: significance, personal meaning and enlightenment all matter.

"And this, is the pick of Valhallen, gaijin god of rock and roll."

Bathing! Of course there's etiquette for bathing. It's particularly delicate in a party made up of both sexes or members of different houses. What's considered obscene or normal can vary wildly among the Clans and families. Cleanliness is a cultural imperative and nudity does not have the stigma of Western cultures. Save for the Unicorn and their 'foreign' ways, magistrates of all Clans and families have little trouble with properly chaperoned co-ed bathing. This is not frequently encouraged and most people usually wish to bathe alone or in sex-segregated groups, but co-ed bathing is better than no bathing at all. Some public bath-houses exist for travelers, usually maintained by low-ranking samurai and house servants for chaperone duty. On the road, samurai scrub down once a week with a sponge, and it's taboo to expose themselves in public without the benefit of a bathing house. Swimming is also done in light clothing unless done privately. Different rules also apply to warrior maidens compared to prim and proper samurai daughters as well.

Speaking of samurai-ko, they are treated with the deference due to a lady of their station unless they are dressed and prepared for war. When they are in 'mannish' attire they are referred to using their military title. Samurai-ko have all the rights of men, and they have no restriction in their actions so long as they are dressed and act appropriately to their station. They're still female, however, and must abide by some social conventions. Women are expected to speak more softly than men and move more slowly with smaller gestures and motion. Unmarried men and women aren't allowed to be alone together, so samurai-ko often have a 'honor retainer' to follow them around and ensure all proper social conventions are followed. Other conventions of etiquette: a samurai's house is sacred, respected by all members of the samurai caste, even enemies of the family. By carrying their weapons into a samurai's house, they disrespect a thousand years' worth of ancestors and risk angering their own. When a samurai arrives at a house they are espected to announce themselves to the gateman and await the reception. The gateman might politely offer a cup of tea to the visitor and inform respectfully that the host is not at home and 'will be back tomorrow'. This is the conventional answer even if the samurai is gone for weeks, or is actually inside but doesn't want to or cannot see visitors. It's inappropriate to ask about their whereabouts as the host might just be inside with a more prestigious visitor. A copy of the visitor's mon and chop is traditionally left to record visits. To speak with their lord, a samurai should ask the lord's advisor or house shugenja for an appointment. The daimyo will then set a date, though they might just say that the appointment "will be made" and then never set a date, but such treatment is extremely dishonorable and will decrease the retainers' loyalty to the daimyo.

And then your poor guards have to do target practice on tiny ninja, all because you were an rear end in a top hat and didn't want to have a meeting.

Next: there is, a house, in New Orleans.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!
Knowing where the Kachiko / Hoturi story goes makes this review feel like a ticking time bomb.

Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.
Goddamn do I hate how L5R misuses the the suffix "-ko".

Aug 12, 2013

To be honest that mist-filled archway is actually a lot fairer than its counterparts in the original Tomb. Acererak must be getting impatient.

Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.

Grimey Drawer

wiegieman posted:

Or, as I'm almost positive was previously mentioned, an arbitrary number of celestial badgers can eventually render any location trap-free.

This is Second Ed. Like wizards in general, monster summoning spells weren't the short circuit they became later.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!
Unseen Servant is a pretty good substitute for an actual thief.

Terrible Opinions
Oct 18, 2013

Cythereal posted:

Still seems a bit less bullshit than Valley of Dust and Fire.

Has anyone done a Fatal and Friends on that yet?

Hostile V
May 31, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.

Terrible Opinions posted:

Has anyone done a Fatal and Friends on that yet?

Dec 22, 2003

To witness titanic events is always dangerous, usually painful, and often fatal.

Terrible Opinions posted:

Has anyone done a Fatal and Friends on that yet?
I have a copy somewhere. I'll see if I can find it. e: Oh it's been done, no need!

Nessus fucked around with this message at 06:54 on Oct 5, 2016

Terrible Opinions
Oct 18, 2013

Oh all of Purple's Dark Sun stuff has been listed together as one mega review.

Jan 7, 2015

Divine Powers - Part 4

Now onto the last stretch of Godbound Words:


The power over river, oceans, and everything that swims in it. You are Aquaman, Moses, and much, much more.

Godbounds with this Word get a very handy set of abilities that include immunity against cold, water breathing, doubled swim rate, and what is essentially Darkvision for underwater (aka you can see perfectly in the deepest depths of the ocean, or spy that place all the way from the surface by just submerging your head). Aside from the cold immunity, you can just spread these abilities all around your companions, making undersea adventures that much easier to tackle.

Body of Water is another natural AC 3 power, this one working by having your body flow around attacks and other sources of danger like water. Think T-1000, except more fluid.
As another bonus, you become not only immune against poison, but you can also use it yourself by touching someone.
Crushing Depths allows you to detroy non-magical weapons by touching them and channeling the high pressure of the deep through them. When used against a living creature it's just like a normal attack, except it always deals max damage.
Living Torrent is a magical "weapon" dealing 1d10 damage at 100 ft. range. As this attack makes use of high pressure water, you can have it eat through earth or wood. Whether or not all that water remains after use is up to you.
Lord of the Waters turns you into Aquaman+: You can speak and give orders to everything under the sea (though sentient beings don't need to follow your orders). On top of that, you can sense any living being underwater within a mile, summon said beings, transform yourself into an underwater critter (between a shrimp and kraken in size), andany ships in your company become immune against storms and reefs (which is pretty handy if you're a pirate looking for a safe hideout).
Secrets of the Deep is a suped-up version of Lifesense, since it lets you sense flowing liquids (be it a river or blood). Touching a body of water lets you scan the area within 10 miles of you for a specific type of object that has sunk or is floating on water (like say a boat or chest).
Walking with the Tides lets you teleport from one body of water to any other within 1 mile, provided both points are big enough to let yourself get submerged completely. If there's a connection between the two points that would technically allow you to swim through (say a river, be it a regular or underwater one), the maximum distance increases to 100 miles.

Great Grifts include River Tamer, which lets you control a small river worth of water as you desire. Speed up a ship to be up to 10 times faster, redirect a river, or just command a serpent-shaped body of water to wreck a village for you.
Salt-Spray Purity makes yourself or an ally immune against a specific magical effect (say a petrifying gaze) for the rest of the scene, no matter how often someone tries to re-apply it. Alternatively, you can temporarily suppress Gifts like a Miracle (except you only commit Effort for the scene instead of the day, which is pretty handy).
Tsunami Hand is a Smite Action lets you punch a crushing wave into existance, which can cover an area up to 200 x 30 x 100 feet. The wave smashes small buildings in its way, an creatures suffer your Level in damage (tripled for Mobs). As a nice bonus, you can have the wave spare any number of possible targets.


The Word of wind, thunder and lightning. Get your Zeus on.

This Word alone makes you immune against falling, electricity, cold and sonic damage. You also don't need to breathe.

The Clouds Below lets you surround yourself with mist, up to 300 ft. in radius. You and your companions can see through it with no problem, anyone else needs supernatural senses to see farther than 5 ft. The mist can also be used to exstinguish normal fire, the Godboud and his allies can also ignore the first 5 points of fire damage they might suffer each round.
Eyes Above lets you perceive anything within 1 mile from you in a bird's eye view. You can't pick up any sounds, but your sight is so good that you can easily scan the area for whatever you're looking for (provided there's no roof or other cover in the way).
Rain of Lightning lets you summon a cloud of lightning to fry whoever is within 100 ft. of a point in your sight range. Basically the electricity version of that Fireball Gift earlier.
Sapphire Wings lets you fly as long as you keep that Effort committed. Your speed is twice your normal movement rate, or 100 miles/hour if you can fly in a straight line withing being disturbed (aka travel distance). This one's a pretty handy candidate for one of those Gifts bought at a premium because you don't actually have the Sky Word. Someone with the Fire Word could for example fly like the Human Torch, or with flame wings.
Stormsword is your 200 ft. / 1d10 damage weapon, this one taking the form of Zeus' iconic lightning bolts (or an electro-whip, or a BFG, or whatever else you can come up with). If the target is wet or covered in metal, it will always suffer at least 1 point of damage, even on a miss.
Windsinger lets you instantly change the weather, letting you calm a storm or actually create a storm powerful enough to wreck fragile structures and make normal ranged attacks impossible. As soon as you stop committing Effort to maintain your change, the weather will almost immediately return to normal. Lets hope the storm has calmed down by then.

Boreal Spike is a Great Gift lets you flash freeze an area with a radius of up to 200 ft, freezing and damaging everyone inside (especially Mobs). Naturally, normal fire is immediately extinguished, and any liguids are frozen solid.
Fury of the Heavens is a Smite Power similar to the Druid spell Call Lightning Storm. Used under an open sky, you can call down lightning every second round to hit a target within sight, hitting it for your level in damage (a Save halves). You can also use this to destroy buildings and other structures, provided they are less sturdy than stone.
Voice of the Winds lets you hear and be heard in any point within 10 mile as long as its not completely air-tight. You can also use this offensively, applying your Fray die to anyone within 100 ft. by shouting really, really loudly.


This is a Word that mainly focuses on the various kinds of magic that one can learn in the world of Godbound: Low magic (cantrips or very, very specialized schools of magic) and theurgy (more or less your typical Vancian spellcasting stuff, but without the Vancian part).

With this Word alone, you can easily brush aside and negate anything done by Low Magic, be it a curse or a summoned creature. Just commit Effort and anything in your presences is dispelled.

Adept of the Gate/Way/Throne are three Gifts that grant you access to theurgies. They must be purchased in sequence, with each opening another tier of power (with the Gate being the lowest tier, while the Throne is the most powerful one). The Gift already has you start out with 2-4 invocations, though you can aquire more through research. Only the Adept of the Gate is a Lesser Gift, while the other two are Greater.

The Excellent Pause lets you suspend a theurgy or low magic you've just cast until you release it with an action. Pretty handy seeing how magic in Godbound generally requires a more or less elaborate ritual, making them harder to perform in an emergency. This one just lets you prepare one in advance.
Greater Pavis of Rule lets you temporarily become immune against low magic. If theurgy is used against you, you either get a +4 to the Saving Throw if the theurgy allows a save, or you just save normally even if the theurgy doesn't.
Perfection of Understanding lets you learn low magic and theurgies much easier and faster, and you can immediately identify any low magic or theurgy used in your presence. You also become a big enough nerd to recognize any magical working of any author you've studied before.
The Subtle Eye of Knowing is essentially Detect Magic. Any active form of low magic or theurgy in the area is indentified, and you can vaguely sense any other form of magic that might be around.
The Will that Burns is handy for those that tend to get disturbed during their magical rituals. Not only do you no-sell the disruption, but the guy that tried to break your concentration gets fried for 1d8 straight damage.
Wizard's Wrath is a very handy Gift that lets you apply your Fray Die even to worthy foes as long as you keep your Effort committed. This not only lets your wear down hard-to-hit foes or general damage sponges, but it also synergizes with any other Gift that makes use of the Fray Die. Now Gifts that apply the Fray Die to everyone within range each turn really hit everyone.

The only Greater Gift left after the above two Adept Gifts is Ruler of the Lesser Paths, which lets you temporarily master any low magic path you have studied for at least a day, while at the same time becoming immune to said path.



Borislav sat and stared at the wall. All morning, the squat peas-
ant had occupied a bench in the dirty Raktian tavern, swilling
bad ale and staring halfway up the tavern's stained wall. Now
and then a stranger would come to sit with him, but Borislav
favored them with nothing but the occasional grunt. Between
his stench and his silence, few lingered beside him.
Fewer still noticed when he rose at noon and shambled from
the room, a last dull coin tossed to the whey-faced barmaid.
None of them understood that Borislav had been looking for
something as he sat in the tavern, peering through many walls.

The knyaz's treasure-room was at the top of a smooth-stoned
tower, with seven mortal curses carved into both the outer wall
and the inner stair. The lord had paid a Black Academy dearly
for the spells, but his own curses were almost as terrible when
he found the golden reliquary of St. Andrey missing from his
vault. None thought to blame the light that shone through a
mouse-small crack in the roof.
The Sun: More rogueish than you'd think.

This Word naturally comes with ways to generate light and set people on fire, but it also covers less tangible concepts like hope and truth. Another must-have for all your Madokas and Wonder Women.

Aside from becoming immune to fire damage and being able to just radiate light in a 200 ft. radius, this Word also makes you immune to having your vision impaired by darkness, mists and similar stuff. You also become so immune to being blinded that not even blindfolds or getting your eyes gouged out stops your from seeing stuff, which makes for great pranks.

Body of Burning Light is your natural AC 3 and 200 ft. with 1d10 damage weapon in one handy package, with the caveat that your improved AC only counts against creatures with sight (as it works by blinding your opponents). The light emitted from your body also counts as sunlight if that's important.
Hasten to the Light is a 1 mile teleport that only lets you teleport to places lit by natural sunlight, though you can also cheat by using your own demidivine light.
Hope of the Dawn is a very Command-type Gift. Allies near you not only gain a bonus to their HD and hit roll, but are also filled with such courage that they gain Moral 12 and become immune against emotion-altering effects (like a magical fear aura or something). They also get a general idea of what you want them to do, but they are not forced to act according to it.
Illumine that which is gets rid of magical darkness, illusions and identifies magic items and whatever weird magical effects people are afflicted by. If the dispelled effect originate from a Deception or Night Gift, then the Godbound that created them can make a save to maintain the effects.
Purity of Brilliant Law is like Salt-Spray Purity in that it gives you a more economically-friendly way to dispel stuff, both defensively and offensively.
Sunlight Sight is a nifty scrying power. You can use it on any place you've visited before that is lit by sunlight, and hear and see everything that's going on. You can even talk with the people there if you want.

The Greater Gift Creation's First Light is essentially super x-ray vision. If no magical barrier is in the way, you can see anything all the way to the horizon. Illusions or shape-shifters can't fool you, though the Deception Word can.
Purging Noonday Blaze gets rid of any undesired low magic within sight. If you commit the Effort for the day instead of the scene, you can shut off all gifts and magical powers on a single target for a round (preferrably opening him up for an alpha strike from your team mates).
Sunstrike is a Smite Action that lets you hit a single target with an orbital sun laser. It deals your level in dice like Divine Wrath, though the actual die size varies: It's 1d10s if the sun is in the sky, but only 1d6s if it's not. The big exception to this are otherwordly creatures, who not only always take 1d10s in damage, but have you roll the damage twice and take the better result.
If your opponent thinks he's clever by hiding in a castle or something: Too bad, cause this orbital strike punches through anything that is not Gift-proof.



Maritsa was not a clever girl. She was sweet, and merry, and
truthful, and lovely as a young girl could be, but she took so
very long to understand things. Her father had tried for a year
to teach her letters, with only blushes to show for it. Still, she
had tried so very hard that her father hadn't the heart to scold
her, and only told her to go help her mother knit.
So kind and gentle was young Maritsa that even the rough
children of the village didn't care to tease her, though perhaps
a little of that was because of her brother's heavy fists and her
sister's sharp tongue. Everyone loved Maritsa, and Maritsa was
glad of everyone she knew.
And so when the soldiers came rushing into the village,
shouting and taking and demanding women, Maritsa was at
a loss. No one had ever behaved such a way toward her, and she
could not think of what to do. But it was when a black-bearded
cossack tore her skirt that she decided that the soldiers must
go away. They must all go away.
A week later the captain found his missing scout detachment.
Fifty men lay stacked outside a little village, with a hundred
small holes in their eyes where a knitting needle had fit.
Beware the nice ones.

The Word of kicking rear end in melee combat and being the king of Fighters (the class, not the fighting game).

Godbound of this Word can't be disarmed, always treat their unarmed or weapon attacks as magic, and they can instantly summon any melee weapon they've ever used before with a single thought. If you'r familiar with Final Fantasy Dissidia, you're basically Bartz.

Getting into melee range is always the most annoying part of being a close range fighter, so Contempt of Distance lets you do crazy Wuxia stunts to close the distance to your target. If there are no obstructions, you can just go to any point within movement range, provided there's a target to hit at the end. Crazy jumps? Wall running? No problem.
You can even keep doing this stuff over mutliple rounds provided there are foes to be hit waiting at the destination, and you can even fly / walk on air if that's what it takes to get to your target.
Nine Iron Walls makes you immune against physical attacks for a round, if for example there's a hail of arrows coming your way.
Steel without End boosts all of your unarmed and weapon attacks do deal 1d10+1 magic damage, and you even get to use a different Attribute than STR or DEX if it makes sense in context.
Thirsting Razor lets you auto-hit Lesser Foes, while Unerring Blade temporarily boosts your attacks against anyone: Your next attack hit on anything but a fumble and will always deal max damage.
Through a Red Forest is very handy if you're swarmed by cannon fodder. Upon activating this Gift and committing Effort, you can choose to willingly let yourself get hit by one of these mooks in exchange of becoming immune against all of the others until your next turn.

Greater Gifts of Sword include the lovely-named Cutting the Crimson Road, which lets you go to town against any Lesser Foe with equal or fewer HD than half your level by having your melee damage deal straight and maximized damage.
The Path through War makes you immune against all weapon and unarmed attacks, as long as you don't make an attack roll or use another offensive action. Doesn't really sound too bad against cannon fodder, seeing how you can still make use of your Fray Die.
Shattering Hand not only lets you wreck barriers that are in your way, but also lets you maximize your melee damage and Fray Die.



Zeng Zi stepped over the broken guardian-golem and ap-
proached the altar. The shining jade vessel glowed with the
luminous purity of a relic of the True King, the golden cups
around it dulled by the reflected splendor. Just before he
touched the ritual vessel, his hand froze, and his thoughts
plunged into the future.
He saw himself sublimate into a burst of cinnabar light at
the moment his hand touched the vessel, his spiritual impuri-
ties igniting in a reaction that blasted him into disconcordant
tones and dissipating radiance.
Biting back an impure curse of frustration, Zeng Zi drew
a deep breath and worked his will a second time. The web of
prophecy settled down on the empty shrine, surety that he
would be undisturbed for the three days of purification his
grubby spirit would require. With a grimace, the Godbound
reached into his pack and took a last bite of onion bean cake.
It would be rice, water, and prayer until that vase was his.
Indiana Jones wished he had this Word.

This one lets you unsurprisingly mess around with time itself, with a couple caveats of course. The future is never set in stone no matter how hard you try, and changing the past can't create too radical deviations.

This Word boosts your WIS and makes you immune against having this Word used against yourself. You also always know the exact time.

Echoes of the Past is a type of postcognition, letting you witness a particular time or event in your current location with you own eyes.
Immediate Foresight is a natural AC 3 power, this having you avoid attacks via Spider-Sense, which also means you can't be surprised.
Look Forward lets you find out the most likely future outcome or action of a specific situation or person.
Prophetic Insight lets you troll something by making up a prophecy about him. As long as the prophecy is possible, it will come to pass. Worthy Foes get to save to resist, as do Lesser Foes if the prophesy involves their death.
Reflex of Reget lets you hit rewind or play Prince of Persia to wind time back to your action that you just did, provided you're still concious or alive to do so.
Withering Hour is a dickish 200 ft. / 1d10 weapon that worky by aging/decaying its targets. Instead of killing someone with this, you can just age them as much as you want.

A Hand on the Balance is the first Greater Gift of this Word. It's essentially a kind of geas that lets you attach a trigger to someone's possible future (like say "If you enter town x" or "If you marry"). Not only do you become immediately aware of the trigger being activated, but you can instantly perform an action as if you were right there (to say crash the wedding with a swarm of bees). Don't worry if the target survives, since you can keep doing this once per day.
Sundered lets you hop timelines in a very limited way, allowing you to have two rounds at the same time and pick the one to actually occur.
Reweave Time can rewrite events, provided the event is no older than an hour, the change is actually possible, and none of your tinkering would result in deaths or resurrections.


The Word of prosperity, be it monetary or otherwise. You are Midas without his curse, or Scrooge without the hard work. You can create a crapload of wealth out of nothing with this Word, but you should watch out for inflation.

Naturally, this Word allows you to always be able to afford anything of 1 Wealth or less, and there are always enough provisions and clothing for you and your buddies, even if you have to create it out of thin air.

The Craft to Make lets you create or duplicate any mundane object you've seen before. You can create it out of thin air, but only if you create it out of actual materials does become permanent without having to maintain it with Effort.
Ever-Sufficient Provenance is a suped-up version of the Word's inherent ability. Now you can keep up to 100 people per level well-fed and clothed, including creating horses and cattle.
Flawless Reproduction lets you churn out one clone off a non-magical object or domestic animal, which keep existing just fine even after you reclaim the Effort. People will hate to lay siege to your castle.
Prosperity's Abundance lets you basically order stuff via magic Amazon, summoning objects in exchange for their worth in wealth.
Sustain the Multitude is tied to this game's Faction system, essentially ensuring that a faction (like say a village or city) will always have enough to survive no matter where they're located.
Wither the Purse lets you ruin a target financially, reducing his wealth through thieves, accidents and other misfortunes. The drop in Wealth depends on the your level, with the level cap of 10 being enough to turn the richest emperor into a beggar.

Forever Sufficient is a handy Greater Gift that afflicts you and your companions with a stroke of luck. Whatever you need on your journey will conveniently be found where and when you need it. Need to get across the ocean? There's a ship just waiting for you. Wanna enter an ancient tomb? Turns out there are a couple torches in your backpack. The only limiting factor is that these must be general objects, so you can't for example pull keys out of your pocket to open whatever lock is in your way.
The Golden God's Hand is another Faction power, letting you either bless a Faction for more wealth, or curse one to impoverish them.
Thieve's Bane is a fun one. It protects you and your companions from thievery and scams. Lesser foes can't succeed at all, while Worthy Foes trigger your Spider-Sense and lets you perform an action as if you were right next to them. Even if multiple worthy thieves try to steal from the party, you can just punch or point-blank alpha strike all of them.

Example Character: Finishing Touches

Will all Words covered, I've finally found the last Word for Overlord Zetta: Swords, which makes sense seeing how he's all into swords.

With Command, Endurance and Sword, he can boost his CHA and CON. Whatever I put in those Attributes is either bumped to 16, or to 18 if it was already that high. Since I haven't rolled anything above 14, I can just take the two lowest scores and dump them in CHA and CON to get rid of them.

With rolls of 14, 12, 13, 13, 14 and 10, I'll just take the 10 and 12, finalizing his Attributes:

STR 14 (+1), DEX 14 (+1), CON 16 (+2), WIS 13 (+1), INT 13 (+1), CHA 16 (+2)

Attribute Checks: STR 7, DEX 7, CON 5, WIS 8, INT 8, CHA 5

With the 6 points for Gifts, I get Body of Iron Will (natural AC), Corona of Fury for the Sword Word (swords in Makai Kingdom are really keen on AoE attacks), and the Command Gifts The Lieutenant's Wisdom (to overwatch his minions), The Soldier's Faithful Heart (nobody messes with his minions), and the Greater Gift Invincible Iron General (his minions are the best).

Hit Points: 10
Armor Class: 2
Hardiness: 13
Evasion: 14
Spirit: 13

Attack Bonus: +1

  • Badass Freakin' Overlord
  • Demon from a Netherworld
  • Rivalies and acquaintances with fellow Overlords spanning thousands of years
Armor: Leather (Light, AC 7, not that he needs it)
Weapon: Greatsword (Heavy, 1d10)
Goals: Rebuild own Netherworld (which probably went kablooey when those pesky humans broke everything.)

His main gimmicks might focus on supporting his "monkeys" for now, but boy is he hard to hit.

Next Time: Magic and Spellcasting - is caster surpremacy still a thing in Godbound?

EDIT: Dammit I had forgotten the short stories.

Doresh fucked around with this message at 10:02 on Oct 6, 2016

Jan 6, 2012


Legend of the Five Rings First Edition

Kyuden Seppun: Life at the top

So, the Imperial families! For over a thousand years, the Hantei have ruled in an unbroken line, severed only by civil war and righted by the actions of the Clans. (Well I guess it's not unbroken then, is it?) All the Clans have their niche and provide a service to society, but what are the contributions of the Hantei? The Ikoma historians count several instances where the line was dissolved only to be restored by a nearly lost son or daughter miraculously discovered in their histories. The Cranes have intermarried with the Hantei almost exclusively, so the Imperial line has as much of a connection to Lady Doji as to Hantei himself. Yet the Hantei continue to rule, and when the Emperor raises his hand, the world moves.

The Hantei are the ruling house of the Emerald Empire. They are the political head of the nation as well as its relgious leader. As the Emperor descends from Amaterasu Omikami, Queen of the Fortunes, the line of her son rules over all mortal life. The First Hantei was proclaimed Emperor of all Rokugan by his siblings, but it was his grandson, Hantei Ningi (Hantei III) who created the Imperial Court and established the Emerald Champion. He was a brilliant man, though some say that he was the first true mortal ruler of the line. His father and grandfather are said to have ascended into the heavens when they tired of rulership.

MonsieurChoc posted:

Goddamn do I hate how L5R misuses the the suffix "-ko".

Funny you say that! The Emperor is referred to as tenno, Heavenly Sovereign. Both tenno and tenno-ko (fuuuuuck you L5R) have served as the leader of the Empire. The heir assumptive is known as kotaishi, and is traditionally educated by the foremost Shintao priests of the Empire as one of the Emperor's jobs is to decide matters of doctrine and so they must be thoroughly familiar with both the religion of the Fortunes and the Tao of Shinsei. For many generations the Imperial line has remained apart from familial infighting and brotherly rivalry over the throne, and one of the means they use to keep the line of succession clear is the Ritual of Abdication performed shortly after the coronation of an Emperor or the death or retirement of the previous one. The aged Emperor renounces the claim to the name "Hantei" when retiring and becomes a Shinsei monk as customary, the eldest son becomes the new Emperor and is allowed to use the name Hantei, as well as his wife and children. But only the direct family of the Emperor can use this name, and the other children of the retired or dead Emperor ritually renounce their claim and join the Otomo or Seppun families. When there is no son born to the Hantei Emperor or they die before they can ascend, things become more murky: sometimes a daughter takes up the throne as Empress, sometimes Otomo or Seppun brothers of the ruler are given permission to renounce their Abdication to take back their name, and in other stories the line was all but destroyed in some catastrophe and the closest blood kin of the ruler had to be traced through the Otomo line. Hantei Emperors have three 'naming' periods in their life. FIrst they have a child name, given to them by their parents, and the name they use until their gempukku. After that, the princes choose their adult names, usually taken from the Hantei histories or from one of the Empire's famous heroes. When they are crowned, princes lose this name and become just "Hantei", while their previous name is struck from the Ikoma records. This tradition symbolizes how the Emperor joins the ranks of the Celestial Heaven and leaves behind the trappings of the mortal world, but it only actually started with Hantei X - previous Emperors did keep their names.


The first Hantei died shortly after the War with Fu Leng, wounded in the final battle. He continued to rule while the wound weakened him and eventually died with his brothers and sister at his side. In Shosuro Furuyari's play, Death of the First Hantei, his death happens in the battlefield and his son, Hantei Genji the Shining Prince, returns with his mortally wounded father, takes up his no-dachi and destroys the rest of Fu Leng's armies while Doji, Akodo and Bayushi stand with their dying brother. The Ikoma and Asako insist that the first Hantei continued to rule after the war and that one day he merely vanished in a cloud of smoke and sunlight to return to the Heavens. :iiam: After the death of his father, Hantei Genji (who was also known as a great poet and patron of culture) made great strides to establish Shinseism in the Empire. Assisted by the Seppun he created temples, established holy sites of the kami and taught the traditions and legends of the Heavens to all the people of the realm. Shortly after his coronation he proclaimed that the religion of the Seven Fortunes and the Tao were of one mind, and that both religions should be seen as aspects of the same belief, thus unifying many of the primitive tribes of Rokugan. Temples and holy shrines flourished under his rule, and by the time of Hantei VI the main district of Otosan Uchi alone had 24 temples in locations where Shinsei walked, gave speeches or performed some miracle. The Seven Clans built semi-private Clan temples over the next hundred years dedicated to the wisdom the little monk imparted to their founders, and they have since become the cornerstones of Shinseism within the Clans and popular pilgrimage sites. The study of the Tao and its practices are common throughout the Empire, and his words hold greater prominence in the hearts of the people than even the Seven Fortunes. Every home, poor or wealthy, noble or peasant, holds some small token of Shinsei's words or deeds. Shintao prayers at shrines or at home follow the same general pattern throughout the land: ritual purification of hands and mouth with clean water, offerings of food or coins, two bows, two claps and two bows again before praying. In larger or more affluent houses, Shintao priests and shugenja perform the rituals. Priests can and do marry and have children, and there are priestesses as well. Some of them are middle-aged retirees from the Clans, but most priests are just simple folk that felt the calling of the Tao. They're usually assisted by white-robed young unmarried ladies, taomiko, that learn about the Tao and the rituals that a wife will need at home. Most shrines celebrate regular matsuri, festivals to show respect to the kami.

There's some stuff on the Court and the role of the Champion that we've seen in the Crane book already. We're also told that Hantei and Togashi were perhaps the least alike of the Kami, and that they fought often as Hantei tried to rule the Empire from which Togashi withdrew. Hantei knew that Togashi could see everything in the world, except his own role in the future that he beheld. For this reason, Togashi and his 'children' have always stood apart, afraid to change the future they beheld and unsure if their actions would change the future for better or worse. Yet the Hantei always call on their enigmatic Dragon brothers for this ability. They have always known that the future the Dragons see is certain without their involvement, and so they have sometimes used this ability against the Togashi for the sake of the Empire: if an detrimental outcome was certain, Hantei would force Togashi to send troops or make a commitment to gain the possibility of change in that certainty.

Iuchiban! Little is known about his early life, though some suspect that he was part of the Hantei Emperors or somehow attached to them. The Hantei know this more than any, as only they know of his true birth and nature: he was the youngest son of an Emperor, always struggling with his rank. Through Otomo dedication and patience the records have been changed, erased and rewritten. Even the Scorpion have three different versions of Iuchiban's origin, all wrong. The Imperial line has always known that Iuchiban was one of their own. To them, he was a madman that broke the Celestial Order, rose up against his brother and resorted to blasphemies to take the throne, and failed. They understand his rage and frustration at the politics of the Clans, but refuse to admit to his bloodlust or hatred of the Empire. Somehow, Iuchiban acquired a text of blood magic written by some maddened Kuni, and he improved upon his theories and hypothesis. He saw how to take up the Throne with maho-tsukai powers, and for years he kept his unholy research quiet, gaining total mastery of black magic. He used unwary servants or minor courtiers to feed his blood rites, knowing that as an Imperial he would be unquestioned. At last, he ended up raising bodies from the Imperial Graveyard, using the remains of ancient heroes, Champions and Emperors to attack his brother. And he was put down... the first time.

Iuchiban's like 'sup'

The Wisdom of the Heavens is the record of the final words of each Emperor, collected by Seppun scribes at every Hantei's deathbed. Only the Imperial Scribe and the Emperor himself can read it, though snippets have 'leaked' to the Ikoma and Bayushi records. Some of these statements might be forgeries by clever courtiers that want to stain the Imperial line! :ssh:


It is not important to fight best. It is important to fight last. That way, when you defeat your opponent, there are no others to take his place.

Only get involved in the fights you know you can win.

When possible, allow others to do your speaking for you - this way, you can accuse them of misunderstanding.

Be a mother to the Empire - give it what it wants, and it will not look elsewhere for its needs. Treat it as a child, and protect it from its own desires, and it will flourish. Keep your thoughts and justifications to yourself: a child needs to know only what to do, and what not to do. Anything else confuses the issue, and explanations make you appear fallible.

Always have a scapegoat.

Think complex, talk of complex plots, but always use something simple.

Do not devote time to the plan. Put all your energy into contingencies. Something will always go wrong with the plan.

Never kill a fanatic, or he becomes a martyr. A living man is easy to destroy; a dead man is unquestionable in the eyes of his followers.

Know your enemy's weakness, but do not use it. Allow others to know it, and let them perform your will.

Knowledge is not power. Power is the ability to deny knowledge.


The Seppun mon, two bamboo branches under the Imperial chrysantemum. They are allowed to use the symbol of Hantei, but only as part of the mon and not on its own, as that is reserved solely to the Hantei.

The Seppun family! Their story starts with a woman from a wandering tribe, who had finally found a place to call home in a rolling valley. She was the holy woman of the tribe, keeper of their gods and speaker to Sun and Moon. She raised her staff and cried to the sky, asking the Great One to send her a sign, and as she spoke thunder rippled from the heavens and a tremendous wind sprang from the seashore. She fell to her knees, and when the thunder ceased and the sky returned to the rose of dawn she looked up: in the hilltop eight figures with eyes of flame stood. One of them told her to stand and say her name, and she replied in fear that she was Seppun, which was actually the title of the holiest of celestial servants. Hoping that the godly beings would take pity on her, she begged them to allow her to serve, and that she would guard their children forever and teach them the ways of the Great Ones and the small, and so Seppun became the first follower of Hantei.

The Seppun are perhaps the closest to the Emperor, both in blood and fellowship. Others may vie for the Emperor's attentions but the Seppun are always in the Imperial graces. The first Seppun was the most dedicated to the ideals and words of Shinsei: she sponsored the first temples of the Tao, unified both religions along with the Isawa and brought education and enlightenment to the nobility of the new Empire. Their palace, Kyuden Seppun, stands at the base of the mountains to the north of the Crane provinces, just in sight of the walls of Otosan Uchi. It is a widespread, sprawling structure, about as old as the Imperial City itself, and both Hantei and Doji lived here while the city was being built. Thus it became the "Second Home of the Hantei." It has large shrines for the study of scholarly texts, magnificent gardens full of rare and exotic plants, and elaborate rooms for the courtiers. Its libraries aren't as grand or encompassing as the Ikoma libraries or as blessed with ancient texts as those of the Isawa, but they still contain many valuable scrolls and lessons. Shinseist art flourished here first, and the first Four Temples of Shinsei stand outside its walls even now. Teachers trained by Lady Seppun went out into the land spreading the wisdom of Shinsei through the Clans, and Kyuden Seppun became the administrative and cultural center of the early Empire. Even today, hundreds of years later, there are still many kofun (graves used by the primitive Rokugani before Iuchiban and the use of cremation ceremonies), stone figures and other reminders of those times. There are no walls or legions of bushi in Kyuden Seppun, and the same villages that feed Otosan Uchi also support it. It serves as a summer home for the Hantei and a separate home for his children should they marry before the Emperor steps down. Certain political, administrative and ceremonial activities still take place here as well.

The grave of Lady Seppun was spared by Imperial Edict from the Emperor's command to burn all dead bodies post-Iuchiban. Her mausoleum stands on the edge of the palace grounds and it is widely held to be haunted; certainly the Seppun believe that the spirit of their founder still walks by the local small stream, whispering secrets of the Emperor's line. It is open to anyone that wishes to pay respects, however, and its walls are covered in magnificent paintings. Its construction is distinctive of the primitive pre-Kami people that lived around the area of Otosan Uchi, in alternating layers of clay and sand. It's said that Seppun was to be raised to the Heavens to serve Amaterasu herself and thus a miniature sky of constellations, Sun and Moon and the Fortunes was painted on the ceiling to accompany her, but something went wrong and her spirit could not ascend. The Four Temples are the site of numerous pilgrimages, holding some of Rokugan's most prestigious shrines and relics, and many daimyo throughout history have chosen them for their retirement. The current High Monk is Tetsuya, formerly Kaiu daimyo Kaiu Oshuda, who has used his engineering abilities to reinforce the temples and build a new wing for the year's Winter Court in Kyuden Seppun. The Imperial Library in the Seppun palace contains a large number of poems associated with Hantei, many related to important historical events. There's little hard historical fact to find, but lot on the moods and motives of the last millenium. Art in Rokugan is profoundly interested in natural scenery and landscape, with the basic tenets being that nature is beautiful, harmonious and in certain ways can have an ethical or moral dimension, ideas shaped by Shinseist belief. The Shadowlands are the opposite of this, with no sense of place and existing outside the natural order. Snow, the ocean and flowers are common motifs in Rokugani art, coming from a speech that Doji Nio did on these three elements of nature and how they symbolize nature as a whole.

(Yeah, it really says little about the Seppun family itself, don't it.)

The Otomo family mon, a bunch of snakes biting each other. Totally not creepy and treacherous, you guys.

The Otomo family! Some background first. In the early days of the Empire, the Hantei line ruled with an iron fist, refusing to delegate any political administration to those not of the line. This worked for about four hundred years, but the expansion of the Clans made it harder and harder for the Hantei to administrate the Empire. In the 4th and 5th centuries, the administration fell on the hands of the Crane, Phoenix and Scorpion. The powerful and organized alliance of daimyo Doji Raigu, Shiba Gaijushiko and Bayushi Atsuki was known as the Gozoku, and they took advantage of the Emperor's age and vanity to hold power for a century. For the reigns of Hantei V and VI they held a great deal of control on their decisions, but when the popular Hantei Yugozohime (Hantei VII) took over as Empress not even their might as enough to overcome her and the support of the Lion and the unified Imperial families. Around the middle of the 6th century the functions that the Gozoku carried out were left to the Seppun and Otomo and never returned to the Clans. Since then, the Otomo have kept below the surface of Imperial politics, leaving the spotlight in matters of law and recordkeeping to the Seppun. They fight for the security of the Empire, and to keep an alliance of daimyo from ever threatening the power of the Hantei again. Thus, they began a strategy of subtle encouragement to conflict, disagreement and war among the Clans, one that cements the Emperor's power even today. In order to do this the Otomo encourage new cultural and political movements, quietly supporting and controlling rebeliousness and smuggling information to those who oppose current trends. One of their adages is "A common enemy can build a common state." A third-century Otomo daimyo, inspired by Scorpion magistrate Soshi Saibankan, wrote a lengthy text on a system of law that relied on the spiritual guidance of a man's ancestors and their own honor. The ritsuryo system was established as fundamental legal code after a century and the general populace accepted its validity - after all, what man would choose to lie knowing that his ancestors heard his words? (In Way of the Lion it says that Kitsu mediums were common in courts until one time one of them was communing with an ancestor at a trial, only for Scorpion agents to produce the 'ancestor' who was very much still alive and not in Yomi. :v: )

The Miya family has its origins in the final days of the first war against Fu Leng. Once the Seven Thunders defeated the DARK BROTHER and the Empire's armies swept away his hordes, a single Oni penetrated Otosan Uchi. It was killed by the Hantei's bodyguards, but not before striking him with a poisoned claw. Delirium wracked him and he was cloistered away from the public eye. At this time, Miya was a young servant of the first Otomo, just one year past his gempukku, of quick mind and ready charm. It was a sign of favor that he was allowed to carry and bring packages for his master while Otomo stayed with the Emperor. One day, Miya delivered a fateful message: the war was won with the death of the last great Oni Lord, and Akodo was hastening to return to palace. Hantei himself addressed the young man, telling him that he had brought him the greatest gift any man could receive: hope. The Emperor commanded Miya to tell all of his people that the Emperor sent his blessings. Stammering his thanks, Miya fled the room to carry out the Imperial will, and he turned to his friends for assistance. An Ide gave him a mount, a Kaiu gave him a sketchy map that was the best record of the lands, and the other Clans also offered help, including a plain woodsaw from an Agasha. Five ronin also pledged their lives to the "Emperor's Herald." In the aftermath of the war, Miya found a tired and desperate people. It was hard even for an armed band to travel, and he realized that the word of the Emperor's Peace would just be mockery for the people without evidence of the promised future. With the saw in his hand, he had a vision, and at every new town he and his men appeared at dawn and worked without explanation for hours, repairing houses, building wells and burying the dead. At noon he would speak at last, announcing the Emperor's blessing and moving on. Sometimes a man or woman left homeless by the war would join him, and in time the size of his band and his own skills grew to the point they could set entire towns on the path to recovery in one morning of work. The Emperor's Blessing remains to this day in the form of wandering crews of carpenters. Two years later, a much more mature and stronger Miya returned to the capitol at the head of a band of fanatical followers. Hantei the Second ruled now, and the Otomo were clearly second to the Seppun in Hantei's alliance. But in Miya, Otomo saw opportunity: he could take him into his house and strengthen his position, or give Miya a house of his own, one deeply indebted to the Otomo. Whispers and favors were exchanged and by the time Hantei II was formally crowned Miya's ascension was assured.

The Miya have always had a close bond to the Minor Clans, among their many duties. They were often the instrument that delivered the Emperor's approval when a request was granted, and have kept particularly close ties to the Fox Clan. When the Unicorn returned, the Fox were the first to recognize their kin, and rushed the news to their allies. Through Miya influence a 'foreign barbarian' was allowed in the Emperor's court to present their evidence, and the Miya were the ones to bring word back to the Unicorn Champion - once again, a Miya carried the Emperor's Blessing to his people. They have always found kindred souls in the Unicorn Clan, particularly with the Ide family. The family does not have the glory of their early days or the privilege of having the Hantei's siblings joining their ranks, but they remain a strong force in Rokugan's politics, filling many positions in the bureaucracy and a surprising number of magistrate posts. They are the only group outside the Seven Clans with hereditary positions among the Emerald Magistrates, and highly sought after as arbitrators and judges due to their temper and devotion to the Emperor's Law in letter and spirit. They also control the important position of the Emperor's Herald, which is traditionally held by the Miya daimyo. The current daimyo, Miya Yoto, instead has given it to his son Satoshi and many suspect that he'll turn leadership of the family to him this winter. Yoto has sparked some scandal with his openly positive view of ronin, and many believe it would be for the best if he retired before something unfortunate happens.

Speaking of Minor Clans! Traditionally ronin come from the ranks of ji-samurai or the illegitimate children of samurai fathers and heimin mothers. Children are always considered part of their father's caste (unless the mother is Otaku or Matsu, mind you) and as such these children are samurai despite their common birth and 'tainted' origins. However, unless the samurai can prove their father's identity with witnesses, they are considered ronin, able to claim some status but not too far removed from heimin. Many of those claiming to be samurai are actually simple peasants with no testimony or skill with the blade to back up their claims. Ronin are an enigma for many parts of the Empire. They must be treated as samurai, but not as grandly as those in the nobility. They are more than peasants, but less than buke. For the most part they are ignored and reviled, refused a part in society but unwilling to descend into the peasant hierarchy. Lesser sons and daughters of minor houses often become ronin when their father's land is divided. Unless they've made a name for themselves they may be removed from their oath of fealty by a jealous sibling or forced to renounce their claim in a coup. The children of these samurai are also considered ronin. But from these lesser samurai come some of the greatest tales of bravery and courage.

If a ronin performs some great feat they may be accepted into a clan as a minor member, with all attendant duties and privileges. Small bands of ronin, juzimai also gather for protection and survival - many of these wreak havoc as bandits and mercenaries, while others struggle to create a life for themselves by founding villages or joining the troops of a minor clan. During war, ronin are given opportunities that they may not otherwise see, and in times like these Minor Clans are born. During the current reign of Hantei the 38th, there are thirteen Minor Clans in Rokugan. The two most powerful Minor Clans are the Fox and the Mantis. They are the oldest Minor Clans and the only two allowed to maintain ambassadors to the Imperial Court. The Fox are the descendants to the original Unicorn Clan that stayed in Rokugan when Shinjo left on her great journey, owners of the surname "Kitsune" and often serving as hunters and woodsmen for the Champion. The Mantis once had a family name too, but it was stripped from them when one of their daimyo attempted to assassinate Hantei the 17th.

Minor Clans do not just appear out of the blue: they are created by the Emperor from ronin bands or lesser houses of the Seven Great Clans. When a group earns the right to form a Minor Clan they are formally given a katana from the Emperor's hands, and if the Minor Clan is ever disgraced and their status is broken the sword is broken by the Emperor's hand. It is exceptionally difficult to become a Minor Clan, and most bands who attain the status have years of history performing dramatic deeds for the Emperor or a major lord. Not all of them have family names: only seven family names are recorded to have been given to Minor Clans, and over half of them have no house name. Family names are given separately by the Emperor's command. More on Minor Clans in Way of the Minor Clans, sucker!

"Okay, you guys are bros, don't go trying to kill my grandsons or anything." *centuries later* "GODDAMMIT MANTIS"

Next: Bayushi "Bugs Bunny" Kachiko.

Traveller fucked around with this message at 23:49 on Oct 5, 2016

Jan 6, 2012


Legend of the Five Rings First Edition

Kyuden Seppun: What's up, doc

God, we'll never be free from these assholes.

You thought RPG FICTION was over, right? You wish you were so lucky.


The fan was Kachiko's, but no one needed to know how he had received it.

Hoturi, the entire loving court saw her giving it to you after you murdered that Hiruma kid, what the gently caress. Anyway he gives instructions to some other lady, who is all giggly and smitten with him, and in his mind he declares the beginning of his game with Kachiko. Speaking of her, Kuni Yori - who is the Crab ambassador for this Winter Court - is arguing with Shosuro Koshurin over Kachiko. They had an agreement, and if she won't marry dead Maruku then she'll have to marry his brother. The Crab have the Crane support in this, and no champion will save her now! Koshurin is like 'sure, whatever' and Yori vows that Kachiko and Maruku's brother, Atsumasi, will be married tonight. Kachiko was present and hearing all of this, though, and once Yori leaves she angrily says that Shoju will have Koshurin's head for this. Her father mocks her for looking like a junshin, easy to read and easy to control, and Kachiko swears she'll see him dead while he walks away laughing. Inwardly, though, she is a lot calmer, and she tsk-tsks at Hoturi. Was this all that he could do? Meanwhile, the bumbling Lion and Unicorn courtiers from earlier (Akodo Matsigoshi and Ide Itagi) are also having an argument. They had another marriage agreement, but Itagi has a juicier prospect now and called it off. Matsigoshi is pretty mad, but the Ide doesn't care - his house has greater allies now! The rumors start flying and Kachiko begins to understand Hoturi's ploy - somehow, he planted the idea that she was to marry the Unicorn. Her skills with intrigue are enough to fend off either the Crab or Unicorn proposals, but both at the same time? Undeterred, she goes off on a walk with Ide Itagi, containing her revulsion while the pudgy courtier looks at her like a piece of meat. He is incredibly easy to manipulate, and she hints that she wants to marry him post-haste, even without her father's permission. She tells him to go to her chambers at night to perform the ceremony, and Itagi falls over himself to agree.

At night, Itagi and his guards march through the palace to Kachiko's rooms. He finds Hiruma Atsumasi storming out of the chamber along with his men. Itagi puts on a show of courage and tells him that he is here to claim his bride, but Atsumasi says that he is the brother of Maruku, who was to marry that 'horrendously ugly' woman. Itagi warns him that he insults his bride at his own risk, but after a moment Atsumasi starts laughing. Things seem about to go bloody but the Crab ultimately relinquishes all claims to Kachiko: if Itagi wants her, he can have her. Pushing past the Unicorn guards he leaves, laughing, and Itagi rushes to the room. Kachiko is there, obviously weeping under her wedding veil and thick makeup. Itagi holds her hands to comfort her while the maids fetch a monk for the ceremony. It's a short affair, and they are married! The doors open... and Akodo Matsigoshi walks in, wondering what the actual hell is going on. He calls for Kachiko, and another set of doors is open, revealing the real Kachiko. Matsigoshi demands an explanation and Kachiko says that, as promised, his daughter is married to a man of great station. Matsigoshi is outraged, thinking that she was going to marry Kachiko's brother instead. Itagi does not understand: if Kachiko is there, then who did he marry? 'Kachiko' lifts her veil... it's one of Matsigoshi's ugly daughters. The monk finishes the ceremony, and the Lion maiden cries most maiden-like. It's Hoturi's turn now, Kachiko muses.

It gets worse.

So, the Winter Court! Many of the Great Clans host one, but it's the Emperor's Winter Court the one with the most prestige. In preparation for the winter the clans engage in cutthroat political negotiations to determine where the next Imperial court will be held. For Clans like the Crane it's about keeping the Emperor's favor; for others, it's the wealth of the Imperial Court and the physical presence of the Emperor to listen to their troubles first. Also, the hosting Clan can see to the 'comfort' of ambassadors from other Clans and make sure their requests aren't as well executed or received as they might be. In a year of war, the location of the court is critical to how the conflict is seen and supported. The official announcement is made on the first week of the month of the Rooster, and is celebrated with much pomp and ritual exchange of gifts between the Emperor and the host Clan or family. After the announcement is made, invitations are made, officially by the host but written at the Emperor's command. Only invited individuals are allowed to stay the winter in the Emperor's presence. Other invitations are sent to the Seven Clans to distribute among their lesser members, but these invitations do not allow access to the Hantei, only the functions of the court. The host family gets almost unlimited access, as it's their palace.

By right of birth, the daimyo of the Seven Families (Hida, Shiba, Bayushi, Doji, Shinjo, Togashi and Akodo) are invited, as well as the highest member of the monastery of the Tao and the Seppun, Otomo and Miya daimyo. Only in two occasions the daimyo of the lesser families have not received invitations, both in times of war. Members of the Imperial Court are always invited as well, from advisors and courtesans to ambassadors and formal courtiers. The Emerald Champion also gets an invitation for them and their immediate family, as well as the most prestigious Emerald Magistrates. The invitations are genuine, but it's commonly accepted that the magistrates will be responsible for any trouble or danger the Emperor finds while en route. The Clan daimyo also get a number of additional invitations to give to worthy or suitable ambassadors, and they can request additional invitations with political negotiations and calling of favors. Minor Clans receive very few invitations, always clearly addressed to an individual - they just don't have the leeway of the Great Clans. They can try to ally with a Great Clan to obtain more invitations, but that kind of assistance always comes with strings attached. The invitations of the Seven Clans are in many cases not carefully traced, and given freely with little notice of where they were obtained. The invitations thus become a tradable item, and though the Emperor realizes they will be exchanged as favors this is seen as very appropriate in Rokugan. Ronin are rarely seen in the Winter Court, and are the only ones that have their invitations questioned. They will not be accepted on their own unless they are a very important ronin like the poet Rezan or the Master of the Elements. They may attend as member of someone else's retinue, but samurai or daimyo that bring ronin into the Winter Court are treated as if they made a serious social error.

The Court has many traditions, of which some of the most important are the Imperial Appointments. During the duration of the Court, daimyo are made, inheritances formally given and positions of the court arranged. Several functions like the Tournament of the Emerald Champion, Imperial weddings or formal clan alliances or the naming of the Imperial Advisor only take place during Winter Court. These ceremonies take place after much political wrangling, due to the great power the Emperor wields over Rokugani nobles - without the Hantei's support, Clans will refuse to accept a daimyo as Champion of their house, and without the Emperor's approval a Clan cannot appoint a new ruler of a house or give one of their noble house members in marriage. Scorpions often come to courts to observe and keep their interests alive, and they deliberately send their most beautiful maidens and accomplished courtiers to marry them to other Clans to ensure they have a say - or at least an ear - in politics across the Empire.

The Imperial Advisor is one of the most important appointments. The Emperor has several advisors for each major aspect of court (financial, political, warfare, etc.) but the Imperial Advisor is the head of the Emperor's council. It's their job to make appointments to the court, advise the Emperor and make sure the Hantei is familiar with events in the Empire before they receive visitors or give Imperial Decrees. It is thus a very important job with a lot of political power, and the most prestigious non-inherited position in the Imperial Court. Currently the Advisor is Kakita Yoshi, though Bayushi Kachiko seems to be inheriting his position at this Winter Court, an action that angers the Kakita daimyo greatly. Whispers say that she is gaining this post through seduction and blackmail and that Hantei the 38th is prisoner in his own palace, and riskier rumors say that Kachiko's son with Shoju is half-brother to the Imperial Heir.

The formal inception of a daimyo is one of the most important types of ceremonies at court. Lesser vassal houses can be officially ratified by their superior and all minor daimyo in a Clan are ratified by their Champion, but the primary daimyo of each family and the Champions can only receive their titles from the Hantei in person. If a death occurs in a year, the person that would inherit the title becomes sozokunin daimyo, "heir to the throne", and takes up their responsibilities and tasks though their position is not official. This often causes problems if the Emperor chooses to name another as leader of the Clan. Rarely the Hantei's will differs from the blood lineage of the Clan: the Emperor won't choose someone outside the clan's noble lineage to take up the post but they might choose a 'more capable' second-born son or daughter over the first-born. Formally the Emperor only needs to recognize the new Champion but the appointment of a Clan or family leader usually involves many traditions and rituals. Often the Winter Court is held in a Clan's lands when a new Champion is appointed to celebrate (and test the courtesy of) the new leader. In one unique case, both Crab and Scorpion Champions died in a great battle over disputed territories. The Emperor, angry at the war, named Seppun sozokunin to lead both Clans and force them to make peace until the year's Winter Court.

Seppuku! It is one of he most important rituals in the Empire. "Chest cutting" (what the hell, it's belly-cutting) is the ritual of proving courage in the face of death. It ends with the death of the practitioner but the death blow itself is not the point, but rather the moments leading to it. Before the ceremony, the samurai spends the day in a temple dedicated to an family kami or appropriate Fortune, writing poems and letters to loved ones. At sunset, the samurai is blessed and consecrated, dresses in white and approaches the dais upon which the ceremony will be performed. The samurai kneels on a mat to protect the soil from their blood, reads a copy of their final poem, and announces their will and purpose of the seppuku. Then, they draw their wakizashi and perform three deep cuts. They are not supposed to cry out in pain as that is a disgrace and dishonor to them and their house. Once the final cut is completed or it looks like the samurai will make a sound, a close friend or relative working as their second steps behind them and cuts their head off to ensure they die with honor. Seppuku is not done to protect the samurai's own honor, but that of their family. It is only done in extreme cases and not simply to remove blights to personal honor, only when the purpose is larger than the samurai's life. It cannot be done without express permission of the samurai's lord no matter the circumstances. Situations where seppuku could likely be approved are loyalty conflicts between the lord and the Emperor, atoning for dishonorable actions that stain the samurai's house or family, or avoiding dishonorable defeat (daimyo often give their generals permission for seppuku before they depart). Sometimes a samurai gains seppuku permission in order to avoid execution, the most dishonorable of deaths. One of the least used reasons for seppuku is kanshi, ritual suicide to reprove a lord's actions. A daimyo rarely accepts kanshi politely, of course, but the samurai must still ask for their permission. It is considered bad form to refuse a kanshi request, as it angers the house spirits and may bring bad fortune upon the daimyo. Female samurai that aren't samurai-ko may perform jigai, cutting their own throat with a tanto. A male child that hasn't achieved their gempukku will also be allowed to kill themselves with jigai. Children that are too young to kill themselves to comply with a daimyo's seppuku requests will be killed by their parents as their duty before they themselves commit seppuku.

Unicorns still styling over the other dorks.

Customs of war! Samurai follow a very specific way to put on armor, and those who don't put armor in the traditional way are considered unlucky and many times not even allowed to fight. We get a long form example where Matsu Tsuko puts on her heavy armor piece by piece with up to thirteen assistants supporting her. This is really '90s as hell, with the whole ARMOR IS SUPER HARD TO PUT ON NO YOU CAN'T WEAR IT FOREVER YOU AD&D MONKEY AAAAA. Other rituals involve testing swords using the bodies of executed criminals. A superior katana must cut through seven bodies in one stroke, but most only manage three. An insult against a sword is an insult against the bushi, their family and Clan. Such an insult can only be removed by using the sword against the offender, especially if it's an enemy or servant. Any minor offense, even accidentally touching the sword or scabbard is enough. Another ritual is wearing the sword blade down, as it makes an iaijutsu draw difficult and thus indicates peace. Taking the enemy's head is also important, and often samurai in battle carry 'head bags' on their obi to collect heads to later present to the daimyo. If they are satisfied the heads will be sent back to their families for proper burial, but if displeased by their enemies' conduct on the battlefield they may leave the heads on the field for the animals, one of the most dishonorable ways to treat someone's remains.

Duels! To set up a duel, the reasons for it must fall between acceptable parameters, a proper challenge must be made, the type of duel must be decided and the appropriate rituals and ceremonies must be performed. A samurai can avenge a slight to their honor with a duel challenge, or they may accept a challenge for someone else such as a courtier, their daimyo or their spouse. It is not acceptable to challenge someone significantly higher in station (3+ Glory points) or if the samurai's own honor has not been stained - they can't claim someone else's insult as their own unless they are asked to intercede. Insults from a superior of higher station must be taken with honor, and if they can't be ignored the samurai should ask their daimyo to take up responsibility to avenge the insult to their house. Further, a samurai cannot initiate or accept a duel to the death unless they have their daimyo's full support. There are many types of duels in Rokugan, of which the most popular is ketsuiki or first blood duel. It allows samurai to defend their honor without bringing the attention of their lord or shaming their house. Ketsuiki duels are iaijutsu duels that end with blood is drawn, and samurai that strike after the first wound are considered extremely dishonorable. Shi duels or duels to the death are less common and always take place in very serious circumstances, like a battlefield or in a formal setting between two bitter enemies. Challenging someone to this kind of duel over a lesser matter is dishonorable and the challenged samurai can always honorably refuse, especially if their daimyo forbids them to accept it. Shugenja have taryu-jiai, their own type of duel using raw magic power, that can be even more dangerous to them than bushi duels. Duels can allow other weapons, like a couple of Crab whaling on each otehr with tetsubo or whatever the samurai have at hand if they can't get to their swords, or more esoteric things like two courtiers dueling in a poetry competition. Witnesses are integral: a messenger delives the challenge, which must be public, and even spontaneous duels must begin with a formal proposal that entails all the insults or dishonors that spurred the duel. The challenged is free to admit to the insults. Afterwards, witnesses are assembled, as a duel without witnesses is nothing more than an honorless battle. Preferently and especially in shi duels a samurai's daimyo attends as well, and if one of the duelists is championing someone else the noncombatant in question will certainly attend. That person is expected to suffer the same fate as their champion if they fall, from inflicting the same wounds the proxy takes on themselves to actually killing themselves if their duelist dies. Once the duel ends, the matter is settled and it's considered insulting to the spirits of both duelists to bring it up again, even if new testimony or evidence regarding the matter pops up.

Art! Rokugani love their art. At the heart of what they see as beautiful is the basic principles of life, the simple essence of things. They love imperfection in acknowledgement of the inherent limitations of human creative power: humans are ultimately incapable of creating perfection, but as Kakita Wayozu put it, it's not attaining perfection that matters but the act of striving towards it. Scuplture and paiting are only some of the few mediums of art. Another example is ikebana, the art of flower arrangement. Ikebana arrangements are mainly displayed in tokonoma, alcoves in a room that are regarded as sacred places of communion between people inside and nature outside. Poetry is considered the highest asset of a truly skilled functionary in court circles due to Hantei Genji's accomplishments as a poet, and both nobles and commoners study noh, kabuki and other related forms of song and dance. The tea ceremony is one of Rokugan's finest arts, and many of the finest Kakita iemoto (headmasters) of the tea ceremony schools attend the Emperor's Winter Court to bring their art to the finest nobles of the land. Not all tea drinking in Rokugan involves the tea ceremony: all social classes drink sadou tea, a greenish beverage served warm with little ceremony. Cha-no-yu, the tea ceremony itself, uses precious dan-cha leaves only used for it and the coronation of an Emperor. Konishiko, daughter of Lady Doji, created the tea ceremony as a way to break common segregations of class and social standing by creating a single form of tea serving for everyone, but though it is popular in the comparatively egalitarian Crane Clan her ideas were not readily accepted among the nobility. As its popularity grew, the tea ceremony became a way to show off social grace and willingness to understand each other, and today daimyo rarely invite diplomats to their house without immediately inviting them to a tea ceremony. The longest form of it can take up to 4 hours where all movements are carefully measured, and its formality helps create a sense of unity. All participants have their role, from the host to the greater and lesser guests. The invitation is made by the host with very personal letters made with the finest calligraphy, inks and papers, the guests arrive slightly before the arranged time, change their clothes and exchange greetings over small fruits and warm water in a garden next to the hut where the ceremony takes place The host arrives, greets the guests and invites each one inside. They wash their hands and mouths in a stone bowl of water and enter the tea hut, which is adorned with calligraphy, drawings and seasonal haiku poems. After a short time the guests may ask about the poems, compliment the garden and tea hut and talk about the beauty of their surroundings. Light food is served over the small talk (rice and fish meals) and then the actual ceremony begins, with the host carefully serving tea to each guest. At the end, small cakes are given, the guests eat them slowly and one by one they leave the hut.

No, I don't understand Brechtian plays either.

Mon and heraldry! Samurai usually incorporate their Clan's colors into formal clothing, while private clothes are usually greys and browns. In formal occasions they wear hats, from the simple or very extravagant. Heraldry is broken down by Clan, family, house and individual. The crest of a family is a simple design intended to identify the house with the Clan it owes fealty to, and usually has the same colors as the Clan, only differing in intensity and hue. Each major family has a mon of their own, and each vassal family has a variation on this mon. Many of the mon motifs are based on nature, like each of the animals the Clans identify why (Crab, Scorpion and so on). The chrysantemum is the Imperial mon and only the Hantei line can use it, while other Imperial representatives use the crest of the Emerald Champion, the laurel wreath. The Court often flies ban, flags over the current residence of the Emperor to show their authority, and these flags bear the Imperial mon followed by the host Clan or family mon. Another type of flag, the hata, is carried during travel or on the field, and are the source for the respected rank of hatamoto ('banner bearer') It's not unusual for a samurai to receive a personal mon from their daimyo for deeds of notable courage. These mon are individual and not inherited by the bearer's children, unless the samurai is particularly impressive.

Tournaments of skill are held across the Empire throughout the year. Iaijutsu and kenjutsu duels with wooden swords are common, and the Crab customarily hold a tetsubo competition with a magnificent tetsubo covered in jade as the prize. Courtiers watch the tournaments carefully for good and ill purposes, to reward honorable and skilled bushi with glory and prestige and also to make note of the bushi's skills, keep tabs on their enemies, allies and minor daimyo that join the festivities. The Emerald Champion often sponsors a tournament of their own, where three-man bushi teams from different clans enter open competitions of poetry, kenjutsu, iaijutsu, grace, etiquette and athletics. The victors of this tournament can gain up to 3 Glory points and the right to sit at the Emerald Champion's table at the night's feast.

Geisha are entertainers, trained in the arts of music, poetry and conversation. They're highly respected, but still hinin in the Celestial Order. There are ten ranks of geisha, from rank 1 novices to rank 4+ masters. A council of Madams in Otosan Uchi assigns them by visiting teahouses and rating geisha on courtesy, grace, beauty and knowledge. They are not prostitutes or "receptacles for sex" :???:, but they allow samurai to break their frigid attitude for a moment, letting them laugh or feel pleasure, sorrow or fear. A geisha's finest moment comes when she can help a samurai face and accept the emotions the social structure of Rokugan forces them to deny. They are not courtesans, and not usually members of the samurai caste though they might have been born to samurai parents. Normally they are beautiful daughters of heimin or ji-samurai. Geisha house madams send ronin samurai to visit towns and villages and scout girls to purchase from their parents for the house, and they carry money, identification and papers for the house to do so. Once a geisha house buys they contract the girls lose all rights and privileges and their only purpose is serving well in the house and honoring their duty, and perhaps one day buy out their contract to set on their own. A few geisha of rank 6+ are purchased by rich daimyo to become courtesans but this is an unattainable hope for most. There are male geisha as well to cater to samurai-ko, rarer than their female counterparts. None have ever gone beyond the fourth rank but they are still respected by their peers in the profession. Geisha are taught the finest arts and culture of the Empire and are common sights in the Winter Court as daimyo wish to show off the arts of their domain. The Crane rarely bring such ladies in since they have their own Kakita Artisans, but the Scorpion make common use of geisha. Concubines are often around samurai and daimyo, though the practice edges in dishonor and disgrace. Samurai-ko of impressive enough station can also have an equivalent, though rumors will certainly fly. The current Hantei has quite a few concubines, all beautiful and cultured Court ladies, which receive a certain amount of status - particularly since there is no current Empress. Courtesans can include daughters sold to geisha houses or given to the Emperor as gifts (the arrangement is similar to that of marriage), and are often called upon for the purposes of creating male heirs if the official wife is barren, uncooperative or seems to only produce daughters. Concubines get half their master's glory and may move freely within their territories, and in many Clans they receive respect equivalent to the offical wife and often head their household and finances. They don't receive this status if not born samurai, though neither are they treated as true heimin or himin depending on their birth. In no case can they inherit legally, though their children can.

Funerals! They are some of the most serious and ritualized traditions of the Empire. Many of the Clans have their own variants, but they all share a common form based on a ceremony used since the reign of Hantei XII. Before him, corpses were buried in the ground or in large ritual tombs, but with the rise of Iuchiban and the Bloodspeakers the Hantei made an edict for all bodies to be cremated before reaching their final resting place. On the funeral day, four days after death, the anointed and purified body is cremated. The days leading up to the ceremony have prayers, offerings to the kami and the Sun Mother and a ritual burning of scrolls with last words from the living of the death. It is believed (the Kitsu state it as fact) that the spirit of the dead keep close to their remains for those four days, listening to all that the living have to say. Only eta actually handle the dead bodies but nearly all shugenja and monks are trained in the necessary rituals and preparations for a funeral. Immediately after death the eta moisten the lips of the deceased as their final food and drink for the journey to the beyond. Afterwards, the body is oiled and cleaned, and then lies in state in their bedchamber with a honor guard of the house's samurai. This is as much for respect as for Crab practicality that has spread to the other Clans: more than one 'dead' body has risen and families always fear that a beloved friend might have been a secret maho-tsukai. :ghost:

The bedside is decorated with ribbons and carvings and prepared to receive visitors. A chief mourner, typically a spouse or best friend, is chosen to ensure that the deceased is properly mourned and that their spirit doesn't return to take revenge on the living if they don't feel they're properly missed. The house shugenja prepares a death notice, and some service is always given to each member of the deceased's family, no matter how small. The death is announced to visitors and passers-by with white lanterns, people wear white mourning clothes and eat special food for funeral occasions. On the day of the funeral itself eta dress the body in finery and put it on a pine palanquin for transport to the funeral site and the pyre prepared for it. A nearby altar is covered in Shintao and Fortune ribbons and talismans and a guidepost bearing the name and deeds of the deceased is placed outside the house. The pyre's wood is blessed, the closest friends and family of the deceased enjoy a meal in the crematorium, and then the body is burned. Afterwards the guests pick through the bones with chopsticks and pass them to each other, and then Shintao monks perform a second ceremony to assist the spirit on their journey to Jigoku. Often at state funerals of Champions, daimyo or Imperials a Kitsu will 'journey' with the spirit for the next 35 days. The crematory urn stays at an altar in the family's house, also for 35 days, and incense sticks are always lit for it. After that period of time is over the urn is finally buried in the family graveyard, though some families like the Akodo bury their most valued heroes in locations where they can be visited often, like the Hall of Ancestors. There are many other traditions like turning the dead person's head to the north, away from the Shadowlands, or to the west so that the Sun can guide them. Most Kitsu carry blessed salt always for funeral rituals. Each mourner also gives the family an obituary gift, and then the family returns another gift at the end of the 35-day period. Funeral ritual means that some acts are always linked to death and bad luck - it is ill-advised, for instance, to stick chopsticks in food straight up, as this is only done at the pre-cremation final meal.

Inheritance issues can be disputed for months or years without a first son. The daimyo of the deceased decides the official order of inheritance. Normally the most powerful or closest daimyo handles the matter, though the Emperor may send magistrates to the area to oversee the division if an important land or item is in dispute. This supervision in many cases is to ensure the loyalty of the local daimyos. Both the Emperor and the Clan Champion often send magistrates, which causes some minor friction. Other daimyo can dispute the inheritance if the deceased only had daughters, but the first daughter may inherit with approval of the deceased's daimyo, especially if she is already married. Sometimes a Kitsu's testimony is sought, but this testimony will be disputed outside of Lion lands. The reading of the will takes place after the final funerary monument is placed, as by then the spirit is supposed to be in Jigoku and cannot be consulted on the matter. Even if the ghost of the deceased shows up to yell at people over their will, the deceased's wishes aren't legally important unless consigned to a will. Some legal circumstances can disqualify a child from inheritance, some common to the Empire and some varying from Clan to Clan. Scheming Scorpions and Cranes will certainly interested on inheritors' backgrounds in order to manipulate any trouble that pops up to affect the inheritance. Noble bushi cannot disown their children, and can at most command their seppuku if they commit a dishonorable act. This becomes a complication if, say, a half-hinin son of the samurai with a geisha pops up - they are still technically samurai and able to inherit.

Festivals! This post is already growing long so let's take a quick look at the common festivals of the Rokugani year.

  • Oshogatsu: the New Year's Day festival, on the first day of the month of the Hare when spring begins. It is when all Rokugani celebrate their "birthday" (adding one year to their age) and so all family celebrations are held at this time. Proper families spend the day after the festival at home, thanking the kami for another year, and the Emperor offers prayers for the well-being of the nation.
  • 7-5-3 Festival: this festival is held on the 13th day of the Dragon for five year old boys and seven or three year old girls. These numbers are considered unlucky, and so they go to the local shrines to be blessed by Shintao monks. They dress in their best clothes and are followed by their family members, who wear white veils to keep spirits from paying attention to them so that ancestors and good spirits only see the children. It is considered lucky to buy chitose-ame, 'thousand-year candy' to include the ancestors of the last thousand years in the rite.
  • Cherry Blossom Festival: CHERRY BLOSSOM CHERRY BLOSSOM. Cherry blossom viewing has a long story in Rokugan, and the Tale of Genji (the chronicle of Hantei Genji) dedicates a whole chapter to his court at a viewing party. It is celebrated on the 23rd day of the Dragon, and traditionally people gather under blossoming cherry trees to offer up prayers to Kuroshin, kami of agriculture, for a plentiful year's harvest.
  • Doll/Kite Festival: this festival is held on the 25th day of the Serpent. It was originally only for girls but the custom now includes male children. They receive expensive gifts from their families, intended for use when they become adults, and the girls gather doll sets in tiered plaforms and the boys fly brilliant kites. The dolls represent the Imperial court, and it's traditional for girls to go around and appreciate each other's doll sets.
  • Chrysantemum Festival: celebrated on the 6th day of the Horse, believed to be the day of the Kami's descent to Earth. For seven days, four before and three after, all labor stops and not even peasants pick up their tools. The festival celebrates the Imperial House and the founders of the Clans. But Rokugani also believe the Shadowlands celebrate a ritual on the fourth day of the festivities where they stage a massive bonfire and throw captives and other unfortunates in, and so many people choose to stay indoors on the 10th of the Horse, just in case.
  • Setsuban Festival: celebrated on the 8th day of the Monkey, a very lucky date. Flower offerings are made to ward off ilness and disasters and people make excursions to view autumn leaves. No man may shed blood on this day, all executions are put off, the occasional prisoner is given freedom and the Emperor is expected to celebrate the coming of peace.
  • Kanto Festival: one of the oldest festivals with its origins in the primitive period of Rokugan's history. Due to an Isawa legend that people are overcome by sleepiness in summer and thus catch diseases, on the second day of the Rooster (the hottest part of the summer) people raise kanto, great poles of lumber, to drive the sleepiness away. The poles are covered with lanterns and kept lit around the clock for three days to ward off sleepiness and encourage productive activity.
  • Bon Festival: celebrated on the last day of the Dog to honor the dead and appease the souls of the ancestors. It is an honorable festival in which ancestors hear the supplications of their families and help them through the coming year. The streets of the cities are filled with representations of the Kami, the Dragons and white-faced 'ghosts' and spirits. Fireworks, parades, music and dancers mark the festival, and cakes of bleached white rice and brown sugar are made to remind people of death being part of all life. It is customary to signify the end of the festival with small, colored paper lanterns, which spirits unable to find the Bridge of Stars can follow to find their way to peace.
  • Festival of the River of Stars: this festival celebrates two stars at the end of the River of Stars, a brightly lit portion of the night sky. One star, the Weaver, was named after an Isawa maiden who was so fine a weaver that the Fortunes beseeched Shiba to allow her to live forever and weave them clothing; the other, the Cowherd, was named after a minor member of the Akodo house. Both loved each other but were not allowed to marry, and so they begged the Fortunes to grant them a way to be together. They became stars upon death, seeing each other across the River without dishonoring their families, but once a year they are allowed to be together. People gather on the ninth night of the ninth month to 'chaperone' the lovers, and it's a very romantic occasion.
  • Festival of the Moon's Wrath: a winter festival celebrated during the Winter Court. Courtiers cease talking from sunset on the 7th day of the Rat to sunrise on the 9th day to silence the Earth in tribute to the Moon. Rokugan remains quiet, afraid to break the silence and bring the wrath of Lord Moon upon them. The Rokugani believe that the moon is where Onnotangu lives, looking down with jealousy at the Empire and feeling contempt and anger to his children and bitterness at being tricked by his wife. The festival turns away his wrath.
  • Shouting Day: celebrated in the 4th day of the Tiger, it is not attended by samurai as it is below their station. Rokugani men of lower classes gather and shout out their stresses and anxieties to Osano-Wo. The largest Shouting Day celebration occurs at Mura Sabishii Toshi, where the festival was founded after a tsunami ruined a year's crops. An old farmer saw this as an unprovoked attack by Osano-Wo, stood upon a large stone and started ranting at the top of his lungs, soon joined by the populace of the village until the sun shone upon them. The festival of :argh:
  • Toshi no Ichi: the year-end fair, celebrated just before New Year on the 28th day of the Tiger. Participants prepare for the kami and the Sun Mother to visit the land. Houses are cleaned, streets are brushed clear and peasants customarily receive new clothes from their daimyo. At dusk, the Shintao monks hold a great ritual for the cleaning of the temples: they are emptied, the walls and floors scrubbed, the bells rung 49 times for the Fortunes, and then peasants and nobles are allowed back in.
  • Seven Festivals of the Kami: festivals for each of the Seven Kami across the year, rarely celebrated outside their home Clans.

The festival of WICKED LASER BEAMS

Oh, right, months! There are 12 months of 28 days each. Most of the Empire uses the traditional animal names for them but the noble class gives them the names of the great Kami. They are the Hare, the Dragon (sometimes Tortoise), the Serpent, the Horse, the Goat (sometimes Sheep), the Monkey, the Rooster (sometimes the Crane), the Dog, the Boar, the Rat, the Ox and the Tiger. The hours of the day from 6 AM on follow the same pattern. The Kami calendar is arranged as Sun, Moon, Hantei, Akodo, Doji, Shiba, Bayushi, Shinjo, Hida, Togashi, Fu Leng and the month of the Tenth Son, Mankind.

Next: love, Yoritomo and other delusions.

Oct 12, 2013

Every species can smell its own extinction.
Kachiko and Hoturi are terrible people, jesus gently caress.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 5, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!
How can you say that, they're Wick's romantic doomed couple! They're supposed to be tragic! Or something! :v:

Feb 3, 2012

Fats Dominar is on the case

Return to the TOMB OF HORRORS Part 19: Life's a Lich

Here we are. This is it. The heroes have made it to Acererak's innermost sanctum. Only a few obstacles stand between them and the architect of all this misery and sorrow... but only a few souls stand between Acererak and ultimate cosmic power.

The Fortress map:

The arch in Area 21, assuming its buttons have been pushed correctly, takes them to Area 22. This is a room of blue tiles with nothing particularly special in it... except a horrific stink. It's home to a hezrou tanar'ri, the source of the odor, and has only one exit (not counting the teleportation arch that brought the heroes here in the first place). The arch follows the same rules as the other one: you must push the buttons to make it "safe," then you can just stroll through. The hezrou is not as tough as the previous monsters, but it knows how the archway works, and that makes it a dangerous opponent. It is impossible to surprise and, if it wins initiative, it will attempt to scoop up PCs and toss them through the portal without making it safe. Naturally this is a terrible fate (lose items and equipment to area 31, teleport self to area 2 and save or merge with the painting) and must be avoided at all costs. The hezrou smells so bad you must save vs. paralyzation or fall over with nausea. Even a passed save gives you a -2 on all attack and initiative rolls. In melee it'll attempt to grapple and toss PCs through the door.

Area 23 is the Hall of Bygone Minions. Back when Acererak had living servants, he detailed this area to be their quarters. The book informs us that "things being what they are, Acererak only had limited patience for the foibles of those that breathe." The unlabeled rooms are just full of debris and maybe some minor magical items. Number 24, though, was Isafel's room (remember her?) It is totally trashed, tapestries shredded, wooden furniture splintered, bed smashed, etc. It was filled with statues (normal for a medusa's lair) but these have been powdered... except for one in the corner.

Isafel was interested in the "death in life" aspects of her petrified victims, and experimented in that field. She planned on channeling negative energy into a statue to animate it, and while this plan had a number of misfires, she did succeed once. Using the Dim Forge in Area 29 (of which more later) she was able to create an "undead statue." She couldn't replicate the process, but this one remains. She posted it as a guard, for fear of the tanar'ri, and ordered it to slay anyone who came into her room. This it will attempt to do. It's basically a stone golem with level drain instead of a slow spell. She has left some items and money behind including a +5 quarterstaff (handy for hitting demons and such) and a cursed nine lives stealer that steals the soul of the wielder, not the target.

Area 25 holds one of the keys to Acererak's power. PCs entering the room will see walls lined with shelves containing all manner of strange and mystic items. What's likely to catch their eye, however, is the tube at the center of the chamber. It's 5 feet wide, as tall as the chamber, and crammed full of something nightmarish, all wings and claws and red skin smushed up against the glass.

a fine vintage

This is Tarnhem, a balor and Acererak's father. As part of Acererak's ascension to lichdom he needed to know his father's true name, and so with years of research and arcane study he was able to divine it. After becoming a lich he imprisoned Tarnhem in gleeful revenge for Acererak's tormented childhood and the death of his mother. By keeping Tarnhem this way, he was also able to command the balor's many tanar'ric servants, who built, maintain and guard the TOMB, Moil and the Fortress.

Tarnhem is aware of you as soon as you enter, and will call out.

Tarnhem posted:

"Primes! I beseech your help! Quickly, before my son becomes aware of your penetration! Release me, and I will help you defeat him. I give one of you temporary leave to safely take up my sword, there upon the shelf, and shatter this most accursed of containment vessels!"

This is no false promise; though normally touching a balor's lightning-bolt sword is instant death (or 10d6 damage on a successful save vs. death magic), with Tarnhem's permission anyone can wield it. It is a vorpal sword and, as promised, one swing shatters the vessel. This is a real quandary for the PCs: a balor is a terrible force of destructive evil, is setting him free really worth it? Also, he's a tanar'ri. Can he be trusted? If they decide to free him, a storm of shards deals 1d10 damage to everyone in the room, and Tarnhem stands free. If they don't want to touch his sword, another vorpal sword will do it, or a wish. Other than that, though, nothing can break the vessel.

Once Tarnhem is free, Acererak is immediately aware of it. He will teleport in within two rounds in a winter-wight body, telling the PCs "Your ingenuity surprises me; your reward awaits you at the Hub."
Turning to Tarnhem, he continues: "As for you, Father, your usefulness is at an end!"
He will attack Tarnhem physically, trying to set him on blackfire. Truthfully he could subdue the balor any time by using his true name, but he wants to burn the life out of him in a physical struggle and doesn't really lose anything if he loses this particular fight. He won't use his spells due to Tarnhem's 70% magic resistance, and will just batter him with fists.

If Acererak wins, he will turn on the PCs with his spells. If his winter-wight form is defeated, Tarnhem grins "Free at last!" before vanishing in a burst of brimstone. Acererak got bored and used the true name to bind him again. Any PC holding the sword when this happens is subject to its full effect.

Once that unpleasantness is dealt with they can search the room. It's full of weird spell components, arcane tomes, and random crap Acererak has been hoarding. This includes a violin of tanar'ri taunting (sounds made by it grate on and enrage any tanar'ri nearby), a manual of bodily health, a tome of amorality which can drive you insane if you're lawful or good and read it, and a jar of hotberries (berry grenades. don't chew them!).

Room 26 is the Theater of the Dead, a hall full of castoffs, rejects, mutilated undead, animated body parts, and other necromantic horrors, all still animated and shambling pitifully. It's a pool of body parts and a dumping ground for rejects. They won't attack PCs intentionally, but their sheer mass can be dangerous, crushing you and draining life. Strength checks to force your way through the mass! It's not all harmless fun: at the area marked W on the map is one of Acererak's more whimsical creations. He applied the winter-wight creation procedure to the skeleton of a giant toad, creating a winter-Pepe.


Acererak was unable to graft intelligence into nonhumanoid wights, but it still catches you on blackfire and attacks the living relentlessly. PCs only have a 10% chance of spotting it amidst all the debris before it attacks.

Area 27 is Acererak's library. It is one of the most complete collections of arcane lore anywhere in the multiverse. Some of the knowledge here exists almost nowhere else. It's a treasure trove for wizards: spell research done here takes 50% as long, and adds 1d20+5% to the chance of success at formulating a new spell. You need the whole intact collection to benefit, though. PC wizards looking around for tomes that have to do with a specific form of research or specific effect have a 35% chance of success; in this case, success means 1d4 tomes that together add 1d4+2% to your success chance for the research in question. That's about all you can do if you can't figure out how to cart all of it off. It weighs 550 tons and occupies 10,000 cubic feet of space, so good luck. Scattered among these reference books are spellbooks, which together have every spell from the PHB. Each turn spent searching gives you a 35% chance to find a tome that contains 1d10+5 random spells. Every spellbook, however, is guarded with a 20th level explosive runes and a symbol of either death or discord, which triggers if handled by anyone but Acererak and affects everyone within 60 feet. Any failed search has a 50% chance of turning up a normal book that nevertheless has the same symbol and runes treatment. So that's fun.

Each search has a cumulative 5% chance of turning up Acererak's Libram, a unique work bound in black adamantite with mithril pages. This book contains a ton of cool spells, including two new ones: create winter-wight and Acererak's blackstone. This is a real treasure. However, Acererak does not appreciate you rooting around in his library. If anyone dies to the traps in here and reanimates, Acererak will possess the body and attack.

Room 28 is full of parts and useful materials for experiments. Mostly it's full of glass bottles containing all manner of poo poo. Searching reveals some gemstones scattered among the rest, but more importantly, any of the material components required for any spell in the PHB. However, for each turn spent searching, there is a 3% chance of opening a bottle with a baneful effect:


The xeg-yi that might be released is a bizarre creature native to the Negative Energy Plane. Its touch is entropic and killing it causes an explosion of corrosive negative energy. DMs are encouraged to think of new random happenings if PCs keep searching after all of the above occur.

Area 29 is the Dim Forge, which is Acererak's true laboratory. This is where he studied the Negative Energy Plane and produced his Apotheosis plan. This is also where he animates winter-wights. In the center of the room is a black metal sarcophagus directly under a crystal that projects out of the ceiling. This is the Forge itself, a device Acererak constructed to help channel negative energy. The crystal is the base of a series of antennae that project out more than a mile into the Negative Energy plane, magically treated to resist and channel its energies. The walls are covered in diagrams depicting the interaction of body, spirit, and negative energy. The Forge is a powerful tool for creating undead, but it's prone to failure, hence the Theater of the Dead. The sarcophagus itself latches closed and its lid can flip down to contain one human-sized being. Simply putting someone in there and closing it turns it on. If this happens, the antennae begin to channel the Void, and the PCs hear a deep, gonglike thrum. This builds in strength for three rounds before the crystal releases a bolt of pure concentrated negative energy into the sarcophagus. It burns with residual blackfire for a moment that then dissipates.

If there's a living thing in the canister when this happens... well...


Yup, you can become a winter-wight... though you're more likely to become charcoal. If the canister is closed but contains nothing living when the bolt strikes, it always generates a negative energy elemental; if it is open, the bolt fragments and everyone present must save vs. spell or suffer whatever effect was rolled. If you make a new undead here Acererak immediately comes and controls them, forcing a PC's consciousness down if necessary, and attacks.

I'm going to skip to Area 31 here before tackling Area 30. Area 31 is Acererarak's retreat. He leaves a winter-wight stationed here that he can port to and use to escape if need be. If the PCs come here before Area 30 is resolved, he ports into the winter-wight and tries to force them into area 30. Otherwise, the room is pretty barren. It has some treasure, including anything that was teleported here by the archway, and the maelstrom gate set in one wall. This rainbow-hued portal sends you to a completely random world or demiplane, but only transports unliving matter (and renders living matter unliving in order to transport it) so it's not much use to the PCs. The other items here are of mixed utility, the best being a whistle in the shape of the Phantom Flyer which can call it out to bring them home. Besides that there's also Deverus's ring of negative elemental mastery, (if Acererak has to flee he will bring it with him, as it has some sentimental value), an illuck stone, a crystal ball with ESP, and a brooch of access. The wall has the mask of the devourer, a nasty item that the PCs should (but probably won't) leave alone. There's an iron chest on the floor that is, shockingly, neither trapped nor useless. It is, in fact, Acererak's hoard. It contains tons of gems, some carved statues, tons of gold coins, and a shitload of useful magic items I won't bother to list including two dragonslayer long swords that may possess intelligence and more powers at the DM's discretion.

So. Area 31's pretty much your reward chamber. What about the boss room?

Acererak waits here, with his phylactery. The room is lit by a red glow, projecting from the ruby eyes of the demilich skull Acererak now inhabits. By arriving here, the PCs have proven beyond all doubt that their souls are pure and strong, just what the lich needs to complete his Apotheosis. The phylactery sits on an iron tripod stand above a hole in the floor through which the raw negative energy plane can be seen.

If Tarnhem the balor is still alive, Acererak has called him here, armed him with his sword and whip, and set him to guard the phylactery. Acererak will target players and, based on his experience, pick the most powerful one and instantly draw out his soul just as the original lich skull did. It takes him two rounds to digest a soul, so he will only do it once every three rounds. After sucking three souls, he ignores the remaining PCs ("the unworthy who must witness!") and begins the Apotheosis itself. This takes 10 rounds and consumes all of the collected souls forever, and once it's begun, destroying the skull does nothing. The PCs must contend with the raging balor, the terrible demilich skull, and Acererak's spells and powers. How do they have a chance?

As part of his apotheosis, Acererak has placed his phylactery in this room. It is a truly massive emerald the size of a haystack, its surface rippling with images of Acererak's victims: the 2,692 souls trapped within it. This presence has created a disturbance in the Negative Energy Plane, resulting in the Dark Intrusion. Touching the phylactery is instant death, no ifs, ands or buts about it. Your soul is subsumed and your body falls away into the negative energy plane below. However, the phylactery is vulnerable. It can be destroyed with difficulty: this requires weapons of +4 or better enchantment and takes 100 damage against an AC of 8. This is pretty challenging to do midcombat; easier would be to destroy the iron legs that hold it up and drop it into the Void. Each leg has 66 HP and AC 0. Destroying two of them drops the phylactery into the darkness. You can bend bars/lift gates at -25% to destroy a leg, or use a disintegrate spell. Otherwise it's blunt weapons, magical electricity or acid, or attacks that specifically destroy metal. Destroying the crystal destroys Acererak, but it also damns the 2,692 souls within it to eternal oblivion in the Negative Energy Plane. Any attempt to attack the tripod or the orb will fill the PCs with certainty that this is destroying Acererak, but will also cause the trapped souls to beg them to stop, saying they will perish as well.

The voices will cry out for release, and the PCs will become aware that freeing the souls will disperse Acererak's essence... but it will not destroy him utterly. It may take millennia, but he will return. PCs who cannot figure out how to free the souls may cry out in extremity "How?" If they do, the soul of a young girl addresses them directly: "Only the light of the sun will open a way for us; it is our guide to peace."

That's the secret. Any spell or effect that replicates the effects of natural sunlight, when applied to the phylactery, will have an instant and profound effect. This includes the sunwand from Moil. A beam of golden light shines out of the phylactery and pierces the roof of the chamber. In the beam, PCs will see the souls streaming out to their final reward. Acererak's voice will speak in a whisper: "I am undone... for now..." as his spirit is dispersed.
The PCs know he will be back, but it's worth it, as nearly three thousand innocent souls are spared from oblivion. Acererak's TOMB OF HORRORS and his other constructions lose their deadly efficacy, his servants are freed and his works fall into disrepair. The Dark Intrusion ends and, with it, Skull City disperses. The PCs earn 100,000 experience in this case for saving the multiverse from Acererak's plan.

If the PCs fail, Acererak is impossible to extract from the Negative Energy Plane. He starts off small, testing his powers, but in time he can possess any undead anywhere. What will he do? Will he attempt to conquer the multiverse? Will he simply observe and learn all he can? Beyond the scope of this adventure, but it's not pretty.

If the PCs destroy only his demilich skull, he will flee using the winter-wight in room 31, and start over on some distant Prime world. This is not a great outcome, but at least the multiverse is temporarily safe: 25,000 experience is awarded.

If they destroy the phylactery, Acererak screams "NOOOOOOooooooo!" as his phylactery disintegrates and, with it, his spirit. As above, Moil and his Fortress fade into nonexistence, the Intrusion ends, etc. He is gone for good. However, those souls are obliterated in the Negative Energy Plane. PCs affiliated with a good deity may lose their powers until they atone. The DM is encouraged to confront the party with undead animated by the tortured souls they failed to save. This ending still stops Acererak, but it is a bittersweet victory, and is worth only 75,000 experience points.

It is, in fact, possible to do everything. If every single undead in the Fortress is destroyed, including the castoffs, Acererak will be forced into the phylactery with no body to inhabit. This is incredibly difficult, as he will try very hard to flee if the battle turns against him. Nevertheless, if they manage to trap him, then free the spirits of the phylactery with sunlight, they can then destroy the phylactery and end Acererak's threat forever without harming anyone else. This is worth 250,000 experience points but just isn't gonna happen.

And... that's it! Hopefully they managed to save the souls. Acererak is a dangerous foe, but if they succeeded, it was through luck, daring and his own arrogance. In the end his hubris brought him down-- his certainty that he could outsmart any foe. That's fitting, I think.

I hope you all enjoyed that! It was long, but I love love LOVE this adventure. Next in line is The Great Modron March, which is pretty darn cool as well. It's got Modrons in the name, so it's bound to be awesome.

DAD LOST MY IPOD fucked around with this message at 21:11 on Oct 7, 2016

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007


If Tarnhem the balor is still alive, Acererak has called him here, armed him with his sword and whip, and set him to guard the phylactery. Acererak will target players and, based on his experience, pick the most powerful one and instantly draw out his soul just as the original lich skull did.

So how is this supposed to work?
"Eeny meeny minie moe... Sorry Bob, you die instantly and get to sit this climactic battle out. No save, nothing you could have done to prevent it."

Jan 7, 2015

The Lone Badger posted:

So how is this supposed to work?
"Eeny meeny minie moe... Sorry Bob, you die instantly and get to sit this climactic battle out. No save, nothing you could have done to prevent it."

I guess you are supposed to slap magical sun-flashlights onto everyone, immediately ending the fight before it can even start?

Feb 3, 2012

Fats Dominar is on the case

The Lone Badger posted:

So how is this supposed to work?
"Eeny meeny minie moe... Sorry Bob, you die instantly and get to sit this climactic battle out. No save, nothing you could have done to prevent it."

It's frustratingly unclear, but in the MM the demilich's trap the soul allows a save, so I would allow one.

Dec 10, 2007



Return to the TOMB OF HORRORS Part 19: Life's a Lich

That was pretty awesome.

I'd love to see a grand total of all the many ways there are to get killed.

Aug 23, 2009

I feel like Return would work better as a D&D video game module then a tabletop one- that way the sheer amount of "gently caress you, you're dead" could be circumvented by save games, because there's no way even an epic level party would get past some of these challenges without foreknowledge.

Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
What I don't get is, after you blast the Phylactery with a sunlight wand, can't you THEN kick it into the Negative Material, now that all the captured souls are released?

Mar 30, 2012

Kavak posted:

I feel like Return would work better as a D&D video game module then a tabletop one- that way the sheer amount of "gently caress you, you're dead" could be circumvented by save games, because there's no way even an epic level party would get past some of these challenges without foreknowledge.

I'd love to see a module like this that takes notes from Undertale, expecting you to savescum and reset to try new routes and then responding to that without simply punishing you for it.

Jul 19, 2012

RIP Lutri: 5/19/20-4/2/20
*You Show Acererak the undead doughnut


Feb 3, 2012

Fats Dominar is on the case

PurpleXVI posted:

What I don't get is, after you blast the Phylactery with a sunlight wand, can't you THEN kick it into the Negative Material, now that all the captured souls are released?

Once the souls are dispersed, Acererak's essence is dispersed and the phylactery is just a big gem. I think it severs his connection to his phylactery and sets his soul adrift without annihilating him.

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