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Jan 6, 2012


Alien Rope Burn posted:

Hello! I'm Alien Rope Burn, and my first post for SA was a FATAL & Friends writeup, and I've been hosed ever since.

Hey there, fellow first-post-was-a-FnF-post poster. :unsmith: :hf: :unsmith:


Jan 6, 2012


inklesspen, I did a one-post thing in the previous thread, just in case.

Jan 6, 2012


M20 sounds like an even drier read than the Mage: The Awakening corebook, which is no mean feat.

Jan 6, 2012


Kurieg posted:

Also I'm glad that Paths of the Wyck don't involve you getting stabbed in the back by a immensely beautiful ninja, followed by you being forced to thank said ninja for the experience.

It wouldn't work. Ninjas are stupid and don't exist except for the ones that do and are just cannon fodder with dumb weapons for dumbs. :smug:

Jan 6, 2012


Kurieg posted:

Also this exists.

I'm not gonna front, I'd play this. :allears: Pulp horror supers against Nazis!

Jan 6, 2012


Fossilized Rappy posted:

Hoodoo Blues is a roleplaying game created by Vajra Enterprises, a company whose other settings include such light fare as Tibet during the Chinese occupation of the 1950s, Manhattan in a cyberpunk future where the poor have to go to drastic measures just to survive while the rich grow fat and decadent in virtual reality-addicted gated communities, and an urban fantasy Los Angeles where you more or less play as Cthulhu mythos cultists. Like other roleplaying games from the company, it uses the Organic Rule Components (ORC) system, an in-house d20-based system.

On one hand, this could be interesting and fun. On the other hand, there's already a Vajra game in the archive.

Jan 6, 2012


unseenlibrarian posted:

I remember when Awakening first came out there were a metric shitton of Ascension fans complaining because it was turning all magic into Hermetics! When it actually got around to addressing something like OMage paradigms, the presentation was something along the lines of "All these groups have a bit of lost knowledge because of the big magical diaspora back in the day, so they probably have something to teach us!"

As opposed to the M20 approach, where there's a lot of different magicians with different belief systems but they're all fooling themselves and it's really just chaos magic you guys.

Wait, which one was supposed to be the more respectful and diverse approach again?

The one without :derp: ATLANTIS :derp:

oMage grogs never got out of that.

Jan 6, 2012


I really like the idea of ideologically driven vampires, with flunkies that haven't been mindwhammied or coerced into following them but are honest believers in the cause instead. A Dracula that fought the Turks ages ago looked up to as The Hard Man That Makes Hard Choices in times of terrorism and upheaval in the Middle East. "Cultists" that sell their souls and the blood of their people in exchange for security from the barbarians at the gate. A vampire that the PCs may have followed of their own will, had things played out differently.

Jan 6, 2012


shades of eternity posted:


a buddy of mine wrote a side project in inomine where he made dawrin, dawkins, hitchens, etc the equivelent of athiest saints whom empowered people to kick both heaven and hell out of normal people's lives.

that game was a blast. :D

I would unironically play a game where angels and demons team up to beat the poo poo out of euphoric assholes.

Jan 6, 2012


Nerds are reactionary and love Lost Cause horseshit.

Jan 6, 2012


Stormbringer 5th Edition

Stormbringer eats 1d4 PCs per turn

Time for the GM section! It starts with advice for rookie GMs. They should at least make sure how skills and combat work and read Elric of Melniboné and Stormbringer to get a feeling for how adventures should play out. They should also read through published adventures if they mean to play it, or make sure that the adventures they make themselves have chances for roleplaying, consequences for allegiances, and generally feel Moorcock-like. They should also have a table large enough to sit all players, enough chairs, pen and paper, copies of the character creation worksheet and common tables like Resistance, Parrying, Dodging and so on. Oh, and the GM should keep the corebook - the players can buy their own books if they want the rules, dangit. :colbert:

His hair, ruined!

There's some advice on building a plot and having excuses for PCs to roll together. They can all be applying for the same job offer, have a common friend in need and so on. Mass combat should be decided beforehand by the GM, or by using miniature or relevant board game rulesets, though the translation notes that the Sailing in the Seas of Fate sourcebook has rules for naval combat. There's also useful notes to keep in mind for adventurers , the opposition, the effects of Chaos in others, and more. There's also an optional rule here to give characters +1 to Law for each skill they get to 80% and for every 20% above it, just like sorcerers get +1 to Chaos for learning or using a spell. Enchantments are basically magic items with qualities of their own, instead of the Stormbringer standard of shoving a demon inside an item and calling it a day. There's an arrow of Law that deals extra damage to Chaotic targets, a Chaotic rapier that bends to strike at armor joints, a book that can answer questions about the past (but fail three POW x3/x2/x1 rolls in a row and the character using it gets a bad case of Wikipedia addiction), and more. These are neat, though not strictly necessary.

Then we get to allegiance from the GM side. It notes that resurrection of a character is only possible by asking a Lord of Chaos or Law, since the Balance doesn't intervene against death. An ally gets a 1% chance of having their patrons listen, while a Champion gets 3%. There's also a table here with examples of the things that make people gain and lose allegiance points. These encompass a lot of stuff, and while they can only affect one single allegiance score at a time PCs will run across these all the time, so even Knighto McLawton will have Chaos points and D'ck'ss Wizardinia will score Law points. Loving someone? +3 Balance. Killing someone? +1 Chaos. Binding an elemental? -1 Balance. Healing someone with a deathly illness? +1 Balance. Saying a meaningful lie? +1 Chaos or +1 Law. Imprisoning someone? +1 Balance or +1 Law. Releasing someone? +1 Chaos or +1 Balance. Rejecting charity? +1 Law. Rescuing someone in danger? +1 Chaos, +2 Balance or +1 Law. Killing a demon? +(1/10 demon's POW) Law. Killing an elemental? (+1/10 elemental's POW) for Chaos or Law. Generally these happen once per session of gaming.

Prince Gaynor, a former Champion of Balance now corrupted by Chaos. He's actually from the Corum of the Scarlet Robe stories, but he cameos in an Elric yarn.

Non-human races! Players may want to play one of these, and if the GM disagrees then the player can play it on a 01 in 1d100 roll. Melnibonéans are dicks, of course. They start with 2d8+2 in most stats except DEX (2d8+4) and INT, POW and APP (2d8+8) They get +20% to three different Art skills, Writing, Appraising, Million Spheres, Riding, Natural World, Oratory, Orienteering, Potions, First Aid and one weapon class. The Witch Sight spell is a skill for them that starts at 30%. Their default skill scores are mostly the same as humans but they're a little worse in unarmed combat, and they start speaking Melnibonéan instead of the Common Tongue, which means a PC will have to spend points in this to talk to other PCs. They also get 250 skill points to start with, and with enough POW to cast spells they can also have half their INT in spells to start. A successful Luck roll gets them up to three bound demons with 1d8 per stat (3d8 for POW) and a five-point power. They also get valuable armor (up to Melnibonéan half-plate), a stable of horses and fabulous wealth in the Dreaming Isle, and ten times what a regular adventurer gets in pocket money. On the other hand, they must've had a good reason to leave Imrryr, and they'll be mistrusted and feared in the Young Kingdoms: penalties to Art, Fast Talk, Negotiation and Oratory and other skills. The GM may also decide to add as disadvantages an Addiction to a certain drug (the character starts with 1d6 days' worth of drug doses, the GM decides the effects of withdrawal) or a Psychological Disorder (sadism, melancholy, etc. - POW x 4 roll to avoid suffering an episode during a tense moment). Half-Melnibonéans are half human and half Melnibonéan, of course. They get 2d8+2 for STR and CON, 2d8+3 for SIZ and DEX, and 2d8+5 for INT, POW and APP. They're similar to Melnibonéans in terms of skills and sorcerous goodies, but they only get five times the starting money and no valuable inheritance. The penalties for dealing with Young Kingdoms folk should be lesser than for full-blooded Melnibonéans. Melnibonéan Slaves are humans or half-Melnibonéans. They get -2 CON, +2 DEX and +1 APP as default modifiers, but the GM may allow the player to shift these mods around. A successful Luck roll means the slave's master "gifted" them a demonic power. They start with valuable jewelry and clothes for 2d8x100 bronzes, a ceremonial dagger that deals 1d4+3 damage and is worth 225 bronzes and an addiction or mental illness at the GM's choice.

The Myyrrhn are proud winged people. Though not all of them actually have wings: Luck roll to see if the character has them. A winged character has a MOV of 11 while flying and 7 on the ground, while non-winged Myyrrhn have 8 MOV. They roll their stats with d8s instead of d6s, start with 250 skill points and get +20% to Art, Search, Disguise, Dodge, Appraise, Natural World, Conceal Object, Trade, First Aid, Jump, Climb and a weapon class. Winged Myyrrhn get Fly as a skill, non-winged Myyrrhn get Ride instead. They're sorcerous adepts and can start with half their INT in spells with the appropriate POW, while a Luck roll gets them a single bound demon. Another successful Luck roll and the sacrifice of one POW gets them the True Name of a sylph as a gift from Lassa.

Moonglum looks cool, considering he's supposed to be butt-ugly.

Then there's a number of generic NPCs (generic allegiance agents, archers, assassins, thieves, guards, knights, stable grooms, bar maids, etc.) and creatures from the books. It is warned that many of these could almost overpower Elric, so the GM should feel free to reduce their stats to challenge the PCs properly. Many of them are one-shot enemies from the books: there's Pigs, Snake and Thing from Elric of Melniboné, for instance, and the game notes that they extrapolate stats for the Pigs since Elric and Rackhir waste them quickly once they're introduced. There's the Melnibonéan dragons, of course, that breathe acid poison instead of fire (it has a POT of the dragon's POW and deals 1d6+4 damage per turn); or Bellbane, the "mist giant" from The Weird of the White Wolf that takes half damage even from magic weapons and prefers to crush enemies slowly with its 43 STR and then bite them for 1d8+4+3d8 damage. The Devil Riders of Pan Tang :black101: are seasoned human warriors that fight riding a freaking Chaos velociraptor and with a trained tiger alongside. The Butterfly of Chaos is a Theleb K'aarna summon that almost murders Elric until he remembers how to summon a Beast Lord that eats it whole, but it can get weapons stuck to its body and gore enemies for 2d8+3d8 damage.

But the showcase piece of the chapter is the heroes list, with important NPCs from the entire saga. As per the rules, most of them have varying allegiance scores even if they're focused on one side or the other: Duke Avan Astran has Chaos 13, Balance 38 and Law 62, while Elric's first love Cymoril has Chaos 41, Balance 35 and Law 10. One of the two exceptions is Jagreen Lern, the Theocrat of Pan Tang that has a score of Chaos 840, Balance -600 and Law 0 (literally the most evil NPC) and is also a walking TPK with demons up the rear end and weapons that have good odds of wasting at least 1 PC per attack. Still just 17 HP, but good luck getting to hit him. One weird thing with this chapter is that many characters get random demon gear that doesn't quite show up in the books: Moonglum gets some demonic leather armor with eyes on his back so that he can see where all attacks come from, while Magum Colim (Elric's admiral) has a spear that returns to his hand when he throws it. There's also some strange choices in the NPCs to show - there's Oone the Dreamthief, from a 2001 story (dream magic to be written up in a future supplement!), but Sharilla, the Myyrrhn woman that is Elric's main squeeze during the search for the Dead Gods Book in the main saga is nowhere to be seen.

As for Elric himself, his STR and CON are pitiful at 5. Of course, he's got his drugs that increase them to 15 each (or 1d10 if Elric has to scrounge herbs if he's in the rear end end of the world, POW x 2% roll) and STR 25/CON 20 with Stormbringer itself. His HP score also changes with these stats, going from 10 to 23 HP. He's a a decent swordsman with a 105% skill with it, and not only knows pretty much every spell in the game but also, being the legal Emperor of Melniboné and thus heir to a buttload of contracts and pacts, can basically call on any Beast or Plant or Elemental Lord that he requires. He can also try calling on his patron Arioch, but just like in the books his help is far from constant. A group of PCs could theoretically overwhelm Elric if the GM doesn't fiat his rescue away. The only problem is Stormbringer itself, which actually has a NPC stat block of its own. It has ridiculous stats for a sword, with a POW of 70 (the translation wonders if Stormbringer hadn't bound Elric instead of the opposite) and a demon skill of 880%, which is how Elric lays waste to everyone around him. It deals a staggering 17d10+1d6 damage, but also has a Drain POW (that is to say, souls) effect that drains 1d100 POW from the target on a hit and increases his STR or CON in one per two POW points up to the maximums of 25 and 20. With a DEX of 20, he could deal up to 4 220% attacks per turn, so he stands a very good chance of murdering a PC party on his own. Stormbringer is fickle, though: like in the books, it can get too full of souls and leave Elric to fight using his skill alone, though that takes "tens of thousands of points", and if it absorbs 21 POW or more in one go the power surge will knock Elric on his rear end. Mournblade, Stormbringer's twin blade, has the same stats.

Why would you ever not play a Devil Rider?

Then there's two ready-made adventures but this post is getting long enough already! The first one, The Weight of Doom, is pretty lame: the characters end up sought out by a follower of Balance, who is pursued by both an agent of Chaos and one of Law. It's nothing but "NPC talks to PCs, PCs react, then the next NPC shows up" and really, there's not much else to it. A printout of the values of Law, Chaos and Balance would be much more useful to players. The second one, The Thought that Counts is more interesting. The PCs are hired by a Purple Towns merchant to recover a small figurine from a guy that owes him money. The thing is, he had already given up the figurine, but somehow he managed to steal it back. The guy is secretly a sorceror and had a demon bound in the figurine to bring it back, and it's up to the PCs to find out! They could end up confronting the sorceror directly, somehow subduing the bound demon so that it doesn't teleport around, or even call in the Church of Law since demon summoning is illegal in the Towns (but the Church agents will break the cursed figurine in the process, so much for the reward!) The chapter rounds up with notes on converting old Stormbringer material to this edition and six ready-made PCs.

Next: a Lawful Good Agent of Chaos.

Traveller fucked around with this message at 03:53 on Feb 4, 2016

Jan 6, 2012


Selachian posted:

Using demonic anything is really out of character for Moonglum. I guess it's kind of like the old Giants in the Earth Dragon articles, where literary characters who never used magic in their own stories were given magic equipment anyway because D&D.

What gets me is that there's no general rule for it: you have Avan Astran and Count Smiorgan with experienced but otherwise normal stat blocks, and then Queen Yishana can totally summon elementals. Sometimes the game admits it's making stuff up, like when they give Mordaga the Sad Giant a giant fuckoff axe, but then Moonglum gets kit fit for a Chaos Champion for no reason.

Jan 6, 2012


Lilith, then GM's Guide.

Jan 6, 2012



Jan 6, 2012


The Vistani are really the worst thing in Ravenloft, which is a shame because you have to change how Mists interact with travelers and domains in order to change or excise them. The rest of WW's 3.0 Ravenloft material is really good, so they stand out.

Jan 6, 2012


There is at least one were-badger darklord.

And isn't the Lawgiver a god from another D&D setting that got its name changed?

Jan 6, 2012


Glorious Shofixti orand bust.

The Shibboleths were also presented in Stars Without Number as an example of an "Other" alien race, and their mind whammy effect was even freakier: those affected by it not only cannot perceive the Shibboleth at all, but will also deny any evidence to the contrary to the best of their ability. The only way to counter the effect was by being or becoming a torched psychic (losing Wisdom or Constitution points to use a psychic power) or by submitting to a surgical procedure that also caused stat point loss.

Jan 6, 2012


Doresh posted:

(I suppose this connection implies the Scream from SWN was the result of not-Azathoth sneezing. Or those Walker dudes trying to "free" the psychic power. And several of the crazy psychics from Other Dust might be Harbingers.)

Add Transhuman Tech into the mix and suddenly the autonomists and hypercapitalists of the Threshold Sector have a very good reason not to go through the Tempest. Which of course means they'll do it anyway, so basically it's Eclipse Phase.

Jan 6, 2012


Evil Mastermind posted:

Hey, PurpleXVI, you might like to know that S. John Ross found your old Encounter Critical review. It made him very happy. :)

The moment when Purple realized the truth of Encounter Critical in IRC was magical.

Mostly because I thought he was in on the joke from the beginning. :haw:

Jan 6, 2012


The only crossover I can think of is a vampire, a werewolf, a mage, a changeling, a Promethean (somehow), a hunter, a sin-eater, a mummy and a demon all coming together in the same room and going "we are the literal scum of the earth but those fucks don't get a pass," and then fixing the World of Darkness - Beast by bloody Beast.

Jan 6, 2012


There is simply no way in which this won't be a horrible clusterfuck. gently caress this hobby and gently caress OPP.

Jan 6, 2012


Halloween Jack posted:

Among numerous other problems, this is a big one with Cthulhutech. They made what is actually 3 different games, in the same setting with one corebook.

I believe this is going to be an issue with any kind of vehicle-focused game, because the gap between in-vehicle and out-vehicle action is simply too large. I don't think you can make a Fang of the Sun Dougram (1 mech pilot with 1 mech, and the rest of the party as infantry) style plot work in a tabletop RPG.

Jan 6, 2012


Stormbringer 5th Edition

It was the early 2000s, everyone was doing it

Okay, time to actually wrap this up! Strictly speaking, I have already covered the Stormbringer 5 core book. But, since I'm working off the Spanish edition, there's an extra appendix here. Elric d20, as it is called, is the rules portion of the Dragon Kings of Melniboné sourcebook for D&D 3E, way back when. As the game puts it in the back cover, "enjoy with both systems the boundless Multiverse of Michael Moorcock!" Alright then.

Character classes! All the 3E basic classes are there, and most indicate a certain origin for the adventurer. Barbarians come from degenerated or undeveloped places like Dorel, Pikarayd, Oin and Yu; Druids and Rangers show in places where the Elemental Lords are worshiped; civilized nations make Fighters, Bards and Rogues; the great Churches of Law and Chaos pop out Clerics and Paladins, while Monks follow the path of Balance. Races, on the other hand, change in availability: elves and half-elves are replaced by Melniboneans and half-Melniboneans, the degenerated humans of Org are represented by half-orcs, and a faithful representation of Moorcock's tales excludes dwarves, halflings and gnomes. Not that you can't play with one of those, but they'll be very, very rare (perhaps literally the only representative of their kind across the whole of the Young Kingdoms). They may come from another plane, a far off land, be a remainder of Dharzi experiments or a new creature from the Chaos beyond the edge of the world. Melniboneans and half-Melniboneans have no level adjustment like other "bad elf" races, but still get neat tricks like Witch Sight (treated as a skill, always class skill for them) and bound demons. Myyrrhn characters can fly 50% of the time, and unwinged Myyrrhn move at 35 feet per round. Also no level adjustment! :toot:

For everyone else, there's nations. These are mostly the same as in the BRP section, but interestingly Allegiance stats are based on origin rather than just shoving three points into one at chargen. For instance, Argimiliar starts with Chaos 0, Balance 1d6 and Law 1d10, while Dharijor gets Chaos 2d8, Balance 1d4 and Law 0. Nations also get some cultural skills (always considered class skills) and stuff like the armor that any adventurer of a martial class gets. Some nations also get special chargen rules: Nadsokor PCs roll 3d6 down the line for stats, but the sum total of their stat points - 75 equals the number of extra skill points they get. Also, Monks can only be from Tanelorn, and adventurers can only join Tanelorn in-game and with GM permission. Which does mean you can't be a Monk at chargen - once initiated in Tanelorn, Monk becomes a PC's favored class.

There's some dull Open Content stuff like feats for close formation fighting, setting a spear against a charge (did that really need a feat?) and the Myyrrhn dive attack with their special spears. A "new" class, the Sailor, is literally just the Expert NPC class with a sailing-themed skill list. The most interesting bit is Heroic Actions: a character that hits 0 hit points or less can make a Fortitude save with a penalty equal to their negative hit points against a DC of 15. If successful, they get a partial action, then lose a further 1d3 HP. It is really just meant for desperate actions.

Allegiance is rated just like in the BRP rules. You can gain and lose points pledge your allegiance to one of the cosmic powers and undergo Apotheosis with a few rules changes (for instance, killing an elemental gives the elemental's hit dice in allegiance points). The funkiest bit is that Allegiance does not interact with D&D Alignment: it is perfectly kosher to have a Lawful Good Paladin PC in the cult of Arioch, or some Chaotic dickhead at the service of Donblas. It is necessary that both GM and players can set both apart, says the book, but seriously what?

Magic! Wishes are gone, you gotta get in touch with a Lord. Communion is deity-specific: you need to be a believer, and the deity will only know about things it cares about. Consecrate can only be used by Church clerics, and if you keep using Summon Monster to get a bunch of expendable bags of XP you run the risk of having a Beast Lord or similar (Colossal-sized) to put the fear of itself into you, and after that you can never use Summon Monster to get that creature again. Demon summoning is based on XP and Wisdom rather than POW. Elementals follow their D&D Monster Manual rules, rather than adapting the ones used in the BRP version. All magic is Chaotic, but some spells are extra Chaotic (they get the Chaos descriptor) while some are more Lawful (Law descriptor) Some spells change according to the caster's Allegiance: a Lawful caster won't be summoning evil or chaotic beings anytime soon with Summon Monster and viceversa. There are no spells that interact with Good or Evil, only with Balance, Chaos or Law. The highest score in an Allegiance is used to determine whether a character is affected by, for instance, Detect Chaos. The translation dryly notes that the magic in the stories has a much different focus. Each of the Lords of Law and Chaos gets their own relevant spheres: Balo has both Law and Chaos, for extra fuckery.

And that's about it, I guess. Stats for creatures and NPCs follow (Elric is a Fighter 8/Mage 20 character and Stormbringer deals 2d6+4d10 damage plus 1d100 CON drain, if you care) but this book is down and out. Thanks!

Jan 6, 2012


inklesspen posted:

I want to know if there's a Space Trojan War, and if so, what's the Space Trojan Horse.

Jan 6, 2012


Young Freud posted:

Twilight 2000 is largely set around Poland.

Yes, I would consider Twilight 2000 one of those games because I realized that there's a whole mechanic around dealing with fuel consumption and use. Not just for vehicles, but there's largely no stable electricity in most of the world, so you're likely running everything off multi-fuel generators. And you might have to brew up your own ethanol to use as fuel.

It's a shame the T2K writeup is abandoned. I really want to know if the Polish in the game is as bad as Warhammer's fake German.

Jan 6, 2012


Hm, Brave New World is over and I don't think Eternal Hearts is bringing the required '90s levels to the thread. Here!

Legend of the Five Rings First Edition

It's not Japan okay

So '90s you'd think this was an Image comic cover

Oh, poo poo! It's 1997, a new CCG is rising up to face against Magic the Gathering, and it's all about high flying samurai fantasy action. And then they made an RPG about it, who would've thought? Legend of the Five Rings is one of the better known samurai fantasy RPGs, set in the land of Rokugan. The samurai clans of the Emerald Empire vie for supremacy, in the battlefield and in the courts, while unspeakable enemies plot in the shadows and gather their forces in the blasted lands south of the Empire. AEG's flagship product, L5R was the jumpoff point for many elfgame writers, among them the controversial John Wick himself. The things we'll see! But to be fair, Wick alone did not write up the whole game and setting. In fact...

the man himself after the credits posted:

Without these folks, this would have been a diceless game with five Traits I would have never paid attention to, a bunch of Skills I wouldn't keep track of and a 350 page Book of Void. Just mentioning them here doesn't do justice to the work they did to make sure this book came right.

Those who stand alone, fall alone.

Thank you, thank you. Thank you all.

- JW

So, yeah. Anyway!

Once we get past the mandatory "what is an RPG?" section, we get a crash pronouncing guide for Rokuganese, the language of Rokugan. It's "based" on Japanese, as much as a McBurger is "based" on a burger. There's a glossary of Rokuganese words and phrases so that you can sound kawaii as hell. "Abunai!" "Hayaku!" "Doro Teikoku no Hito!" That is supposed to mean 'Imperial Road', by the way. Long story short: Rokuganese is really, really bad Japanese, to the point of cringe. It was 1997, but still. But to the actual game!

Just loving with you, this is the Hârnmaster Japan sourcebook.

The first chapter, the Book of Earth, deals with the setting. And as expected, we are treated to the wonders of RPG fiction. It is a cold, rainy night, and a ne'er-do-well called Ginawa is playing dice at a roadside inn with other samurai and merchants. He seems to have a grim past, but right now he's more concerned about making a big score. And he does! There's some grumbling from the audience, but they cough up the money. Just as Ginawa bids everyone good night, a drunk samurai tries to stop him and get him to play until he recoups all his losses. To make it worse, he's armed even though all samurai are supposed to leave their weapons at the entrance. The drunkard calls Ginawa a coward, which gets our guy somewhat miffed - enough to stop his clumsy sword blow and break his arm over his leg. Though drunk, the samurai remembers not to cry in pain. The police in the form of a squad of armored and armed samurai arrive, Ginawa tries to explain he was just defending himself, but turns out the drunkard was actually the local magistrate! The samurai politely ask him to come along, and he is revealed to be a ronin, a masterless samurai. Leaving some money for the innkeeper to pay for a priest to purify the blood he has shed, he goes along to meet the local daimyo (lord), Ataka. There is some talk between them, and the daimyo decides to replace the useless magistrate for a more capable subordinate, Hijiko - the leader of the samurai that took Ginawa in. She is now his head magistrate, which leaves a post that Ginawa, with his skills could easily fill. He feels misgivings about it, since he has failed a master once already, but Ataka is having none of it. Ginawa accepts, but when he reveals his name everyone but the daimyo become very, very anxious about him. See, Ginawa is the carrier of one of the spooky-as-poo poo Iuchiban blades, forged by the BLOOD SPEAKERS! Ataka still lets him in, because he can see the PC aura believes the Fortunes have put him in his way. May Ginawa's Path of Blood end with honor!

Mythology time! Or history. Might as well be the same, I mean, it is a fantasy game. In the time before time, Nothing created the world through fear of being alone, desire for companionship, and regret at actually creating the world (the three Original Sins). After that, three gods that cannot be named (because they gave up their names) created one man and one woman to give shape to the world.This couple started naming things, and named each other: Lord Moon and Lady Sun. As they named the world and all that it contained, a race called the Naga became the world's first civilization. They went to sleep when Lord Moon, who chased Lady Sun across the skies, caught up with her. Nine months later, she gave him nine children: Hida, Doji, Togashi, Akodo, Shiba, Bayushi, Shinjo, Fu Leng and Hantei. In a very Greek twist, Lord Moon decided the children of the Sun and the Moon would grow to be greater than he, and he decided to eat them all. Lady Sun could not stop him, and cried tears that fell to the earth, but got him drunk and replaced the last child, Hantei, with a rock. For years (maybe centuries) Hantei trained in secret under Lady Sun to fight his father. He challenged him, cut up his brothers and sisters from his belly and won, but they fell to the earth. Fu Leng fell away from them along with one of Lord Moon's hands, and in his panic he dragged Hantei down with him, away from Heaven.

Aw, look at lil' Fu Leng with that tiny skull on his clothes :3:

Hantei and his remaining siblings, the Kami, were no longer gods, but not mortals either. Where the blood of Lord Moon and the tears of Lady Sun gathered together, they formed people, men and women. The celestial children gathered them and decided to teach them the beginnings of civilization itself. They also held a grand tournament to decide who would lead them: all the siblings fought except Togashi, who saw what would happen. The last duel was between Akodo and Hantei; the latter won, the former swore eternal loyalty, and Togashi made a prophecy that when the last Akodo fell, so would the last Hantei. The newly enthroned Emperor and his siblings created several Clans according to their wishes and abilities, and spread across the land - but suddenly, an army of foul creatures fell upon the fledgling Empire. Fu Leng was back, and he had been corrupted by crashing so hard in the earth he fell underground. The armies of the Empire could not fight back the nightmarish hordes, and everything seemed lost until one little man, Shinsei, told Hantei he could defeat his brother. At first he did not believe him, but the little man proved to be incredibly wise. Shiba's transcription of Hantei's talks with Shinsei became the Tao of Shinsei, one of the cornerstornes of Rokugani religion. The wise man required seven mortal warriors to journey with him to Fu Leng's realm: they would be the first samurai, a word that means "servant." So they went, one from each Clan, and nothing was heard from them until suddenly Fu Leng's army lost its strength and the Empire's forces crushed them. Only one samurai returned, however: it was the Scorpion samurai, dying and clutching twelve scrolls and an enchanted obsidian hand.

A thousand of years have passed. The Kami passed away in various forms, leaving the business of running the Empire to their children. There are now seven Great Clans for each of the Kami, along with a number of Minor Clans created as reward for heroic acts of lesser samurai. They are the Crab (brave and brutish), Crane (cultured and urbane), Dragon (mysterious and isolated), Lion (brave and honorable), Phoenix (philosophical and pacifist), Scorpion (sneaky and stabby) and the Unicorn (outgoing and foreign).

Geography! Rokugan is rocky and mountainous, surrounded by mountain ranges on three sides and the ocean to the east. Only a fifth of the land is flat, the rest is various flavors of hills, valleys and mountains. The climate goes from cold and snow-heavy winters to sultry, long summers. Disasters like earthquakes and tsunami are regular. Its society is very regimented and class-conscious, and the common belief is that everyone has their place and bad things happen to those that try to cheat their destiny. As can be presumed, the Emperor is at the top of the chain, and under it there are many daimyo that swear fealty to him and rule in his name. The samurai caste is the highest of them all, and the only one allowed to carry katana and wakizashi, symbols of nobility. Those are further divided into the Emperor at the top, clan daimyo, family daimyo regular samurai, non-fighting samurai caste people. and masterless ronin. Below them there's the heimin, the 'half-people'. Again they are subdivided: peasants at the top, craftsmen in the middle, merchant in the lowest rung. Samurai can kill a heimin if they feel their honor has been compromised by their rudeness, so heimin try to be very obsequious to samurai. Under them there's the hinin, the 'non-people.' This includes criminals, entertainers and gamblers as well as the eta, the undercaste that deals with labor considered physically and spiritually unclean like leather working or disposing of human corpses. Killing hinin is not a crime for samurai, but killing particular hinin (like a samurai's favorite geisha) may carry other consequences.

(note: you probably shouldn't use words like 'heimin' or 'eta' around actual Japanese people.)

Women can belong to any of these castes, but their roles are slightly different. Those who take up arms are known as samurai-ko, and they must take vows of celibacy since they can't serve both their husband and their daimyo. :sigh: Which doesn't meant they don't take lovers but it's scandalous enough to send them to a nunnery if they're caught. Marriages are all arranged and romance doesn't come into it, but it bears noting that the wife is the one that actually runs the house; the husband receives a stipend from his wife but it is the woman that actually handles their finances. A man's extramarital affairs are ignored by society, but samurai are expected to be discreet so that they don't insult their wives' families. A samurai's schooling begins early, taking up around nine years of their childhood. At around 13 to 20 years, they undergo their gempukku ceremony to become legal adults. They're considered young until the age of 20, then 'middle-aged' until 40, at which age they're supposed to go into a monastery and retire from public life. Many samurai scoff at that, and even officially retired 'monks' usually stay behind as powers behind the throne and such. The ultimate test of courage for a samurai is seppuku, ritual suicide, and the game warns that it should not be taken lightly in games. Peasant lives are less complicated, but they also have to deal with all the bullshit that comes with being of lower station, including punishing taxes and such. Rokugan's favorite food is rice, along with fish, seafood and vegetables. Red meat is looked down on, and nobility believes it makes them smell dirty. Usual clothing includes the kimono robe, usually including a samurai's clan colors and their mon (heraldic device).

Bushido is the code of the warrior that all samurai (are supposed to) adhere to. It emphasizes virtue, courage, loyalty, sincerity and excellence. Sincerity should be noted as not being the same as honesty: it is the ability to appear honest. Pointing out uncomfortable truths is not honorable because it causes a scene and brings embarrassment to everyone. A samurai's word is still valid, however - if they say they'll do something, they're expected to do it or die trying. Samurai are also expected to avenge insults and crimes against their family: for instance, if one samurai kills another, the deceased's family may appeal to their daimyo to talk to the killer's daimyo and arrange a proper blood feud. The death must be public for the feud to be valid, and once the challenger or the challenged die in this formal duel, the matter is (supposed to be) settled.

A samurai's sword is supposed to be their soul. They're very particular about them: not only are samurai the sole caste that may carry them legally, but disrespecting a sword is akin to disrespecting the samurai's ancestors. Even touching it can be grounds for insult and a duel. Because of all of this, etiquette is very important: people tend to ignore realities rather than embarrass themselves pointing them out. They're super polite to each other even though many people know most samurai are punks that need to be put in their place. Social rituals like gift-giving are very important and formal.

Again with society: the Emperor is at the top, and around him there are the Imperial Families, his blood relatives. These have no actual power, but they have direct access to the Emperor's ear and use it to trade favors and resources with the clans. The Imperial Magistrates are the Emperor's justice, commanded by the Emerald Champion. They do everything from manning way stations in the imperial roads to stopping assassination attempts, solving crimes against the Empire or even fighting Shadowlands raiders. Justice is ruthless, but it only considers direct testimony and confessions. Samurai may be punished with orders to commit seppuku, refusal to accept a seppuku request (forcing the samurai to live in shame) or granting seppuku with a wooden blade (because they're not believed to have the guts to go through with it.) Lesser crimes are punished with everything from public beatings to house arrest. The seven great Clan daimyos or Champions hold the real military power in Rokugan, as well as direct control over the land. They have their own magistrates as well, investigating crime and shady dealings in their provinces and keeping an eye on suspicious regions. Each clan comprises several families, all of which have a daimyo of their own. A samurai swears fealty to their family, the family swears it to their Clan Champion, and they swear it to the Emperor.

The chapter ends with a quick review of the rules. L5R is a d10 dicepool-based system called Roll and Keep. Rolls are usually made against a Target Number (say, 15), and a player rolls a number of dice and gets to keep some of them to try and meet or beat the TN. That's for Simple rolls; Contested rolls when one character tries to stop another from doing a thing are done against a relevant stat x 5 as the TN. If one makes the roll and the other fails, that's it: if both succeed, the highest roller wins, and if neither do the contest carries on. Players may also deliberately Raise their TNs by 5. Each Raise brings a better effect, like more damage in a weapon strike. Usually, rolls are of the Trait + Skill type, where you roll as many dice as points in the relevant trait and skill you have and keep as many as trait points you have. Dice that roll a 10 explode: you keep them, and roll them again.

Roll your Swag + Style, keep everything :whatup:

Next: highborn PCs, jury's out on whether they're doomed, murderous or manchildren

Jan 6, 2012


Legend of the Five Rings First Edition

Dark Secret: Likes Elfgames Unironically

I think you're supposed to protect the geeky wizard instead of hiding behind him, guys.

The second chapter, the Book of Water, is dedicated to character generation. What's that? You want more RPG FICTION? You got it! Ginawa rides with Hijiko. They're on a mission, and she doesn't appreciate his lack of manners. He's rubbing his belly after a good meal! Perhaps his skill is as dull as his manners. Ginawa takes the hint and they stop to engage in a mock duel with a couple of sticks. It's over quickly, and Hijiko smugs a little because she had him beat. Ginawa knows it's true (she made him overcompensate more than necessary) , but he doesn't want to show it. He grumbles and jumps a little when she catches him talking to himself - only ninja skulk about! Hijiko laughs: everyone knows ninja are peasant superstitions, but Ginawa has seen them. Hijiko asks when... Ginawa replies that it was the night his lord was killed. Foot well stuck in mouth, Hijiko tries to apologize, but Ginawa brushes it off. He has nightmares that night that keep him up and clutching his sword like a PTSD-ing veteran. Later, they meet the Scorpion magistrates they're supposed to meet: the Lion and the Crane are about to engage in a battle and both the Scorpions and Ataka (a Lion himself) want to know how it'll play out. Ginawa is rude to them, the Scorpions aren't too hot on him either, and Hijiko alternates between pulling rank on Ginawa and keeping from laughing at his antics. Travel papers are shown, they agree to ride together. Ginawa notes that Hijiko doesn't like them either, but she just muses that they gain nothing by loving them over. This is when Ginawa tells the story of the frog and the scorpion: a scorpion asks a frog for a ride across a river, the frog refuses because the scorpion will poison him, the scorpion is like "lol no" and the frog is like "lol ok" and of course the scorpion stings the frog midway and dooms them both. It's in their nature.

Scorpions are kinda dicks is what the book is saying.

So, characters! Players should start with a concept before taking pencil to character sheet, to really bring them to life, you know? Characters are more than just some numbers and notes. We get a number of questions to define the concept, from basic stuff like "what clan does the character belong to" and "are they a bushi or a shugenja" to "are they married? do they have children?" (Note that there are a couple of matriarchal families in Rokugan, the Matsu and Otaku, where the usual wife-husband roles are reversed) and "what do their parents think of them?" We also get notes on samurai archetypes: brash, noble, courtier, reluctant, rogue, scholar. This is just fluff so far, no hard numbers or anything. Names are made up according to what sounds "easy" or "fun" to pronounce from a list of syllables. It's Rokugan, not Japan!

The numbers show up now. Each character is defined by five Rings. They are Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Void. The first four have Traits attached to them. Earth has Stamina and Willpower, Water has Strength and Perception, Fire has Agility and Intelligence, and Air has Reflexes and Awareness. These are all rated from 1 to 5; a Ring's value is the least of its Traits. Void has no traits, and it's sort of an ur-Ring that encompasses them all. Characters have a reserve of Void Points that can be used to enhance rolls or power certain techniques. Characters also have Skills, stuff they know how to do. A character picks a Clan, a Family within the Clan and a School where the character trained to become a bushi (fighter) or shugenja (spellcaster/vaguely defined priest). Note that you don't have to attend a school just because it has your family's name on it (so you can have Kuni bushi or Kakita shugenja, for instance) Each School has different techniques, starting Techniques and gear, and other attributes. Characters get 25 Character Points to distribute between their traits and skills, as well as purchasing Advantages. Of course, this is a '90s game so there have to be Disadvantages you can get for more sweet Character Points, though you can only get a maximum of 10 extra points from Disadvantages. Skills can be raised up to a maximum of two ranks at chargen (so max skill rating starting out is 3 for school skills and 2 for the rest) at a cost of 1 CP per skill point, while traits are raised at 8 CP per rank and 12 to raise the Void Ring. Characters have Wounds, which serve to show how much damage they can take before going down. Wounds have levels, and each level equals Earth x 2 Wound points. As you go down in levels your character takes more and more penalties to their dice rolls until they're Down, Out or Dead. A '90s game with a death spiral? Perish the thought.

Furthermore, characters have Honor. No, not talking about that other honor. Honor is rated from 0 to 5. At high Honor ranks, characters become more rigid and inflexible, but also more noble and trustworthy and viceversa. A character's starting Honor depends on their Clan and school, and usually goes from 1 to 3. Each Honor rank is made of ten Honor points, which are gained or lost depending on the character's actions and deeds. Honor can also be increased with CP or decreased to get extra CP at chargen. Characters also have Insight, a measure of how well known they're in Rokugan, which is the sum of all Rings multiplied by ten plus all their skill points. Their School Rank is how advanced they are in their school's techniques, and they must accumulate more Insight (by increasing Skills and Rings) to progress in their School. When they hit a new Insight rank (Characters will have some 110-130ish starting Insight) at 150 and then every 25 points after, they can go back to their school sensei and level up train to the next level THIS ISN'T D&D GODDANGIT. Glory is how well-known and respected your character is in Rokugan--- wait, wasn't Insight the "fame" trait? Ugh. Anyway Glory indicates your character's status in Rokugan's social ladder. It starts equal to your School Rank (so 1 for starter characters) and increases as you level your School Rank or perform glorious deeds. It is rated from 1 to 10 and each rank also has a number of Glory points. Only the Emperor has Glory 10, while PCs move around the 1-6 region. Non-samurai have Glory 0. Finally, characters start with an Outfit depending on their starting school. Usually it comprises katana and wakizashi for bushi, along with extra weapons, some armor traveling gear and some pocket money, while shugenja get a spell scroll bag, writing tools and maybe a weapon.

Skills! They have several divisions depending on how honorable or dishonorable they are. High Skills are for noble characters and performing them is honorable. Somehow Acting is a High skill even though we were told actors were hinin before. Oh well! They also comprise stuff like Etiquette, Calligraphy, History, Lore (of various kinds, like Shadowlands Lore or Shugenja Lore), Heraldry, Horsemanship, Investigation, Meditation Music, Poetry and Sincerity (lying your rear end off is honorable, see) The Shintao skill must be raised to 3 or more in order to increase Traits past 5, so hit your books if you want to get really swole. Bugei skills are martial ones. All weapons have their own weapon skill except for swords, which all are covered by Kenjutsu. Archery rolls use Reflexes rather than Agility as expected because Rokugani archers use their instinct over barbarian tricks like actually aiming at stuff. There's also things like Battle (how to command and fight as an organized unit), Defense, Jiujutsu (punch a motherfucker) Iaijutsu (the fast draw, used to strike in the first round of combat instead of wasting time pulling your blade out and for formal iaijutsu duels) and "sumai" Wrestling. Merchant skills are not dishonorable, but neither are they honorable. They cover stuff like Craft (of all kinds, though weapon and armor crafting is honorable) Commerce (how to handle money, dishonorable for samurai) and Herbalism. Low skills are dishonorable. Forgery, Gambling, Poison, Seduction, Stealth, Torture. Don't get caught using these. While some skills have clear methods of use (Meditation is one hour of concentration and a TN20 roll to recover all Void Points) many don't, even stuff like Medicine, Poison or Horsemanship.

Advantages and Disadvantages. Let's see! For good stuff, you can get things like Absolute Direction (1 point, you never get lost, +2 dice to any rolls to figure out where you are), Blackmail (you have dirt on someone, costs are equal to target's glory rank and one point less for Scorpions, so by RAW you could have dirt on every last peasant and merchant and Scorpions could have dirt on every Glory 1 samurai forever) Different School (5 points, you can take a School outside your clan), Great Destiny (4 points, you have an important destiny and can escape certain death once per story) Inheritance (you get an ancestral item, costs go from 3 to 20! and the exact effects are pure GM fiat :catstare:) Large (you're huge, 2 points, 1 for Crabs) or True Friend (your NPC friend sticks for you, costs depend on the friend's position and the depth of their devotion). Bad stuff includes Bad Fortune (1 point, you roll on a table that includes things like 'you lack one item from your starting gear' to 'a very important roll in your future will automatically fail, eat it') Black Sheep (5 points, your family hates you and treats you as eta and you can't progress in your school beyond Rank 1 :stare:), Chemical Dependency (3 points you're addicted to something, like alcohol or opium), Dark Secret (5 points, there's some seppuku-worthy poo poo in your past that someone might just dig up) Haunted (an ancestor ghost spooks you, costs depend on how often they show up in a story) Social Disadvantage (3 points, you lose 1 Glory rank each time you take this, ronin must have at least 3 points of Social Disadvantage) or True Love (3 points, you're in love and when you have to choose between your ~*true love*~ and your Clan you have to spend a Void Point to do so and if you lose your love's favor you can't spend Void Points at all until you get it back)

And now, the Clans! A neat thing about the clan pages is that they're in color and they summarize the character generation rules, so you can create a character with less page flipping. In true '90s fashion, we also get stereotypes of what Clans think of the others. How exciting!

The Crab Clan lives in the southwest corner of the Empire, facing Fu Leng's Shadowlands for a thousand years. They are used to fighting under terrible conditions against foes that outnumber them three to one. They believe in honesty over sincerity, which doesn't make them many friends in Rokugan's courts, and they loathe being lied to. As far as they are concerned, the strong rule over the weak: the first Hantei beat the first Hida so they owe fealty, but if a Hida could take the throne from a Hantei they would do so without hesitation. The families of the Crab are the Hida (+1 Strength), the main family of the Clan; the Kuni (+1 Intelligence), the sinister-looking shugenja family; and the Yasuki (+1 Awareness), politicians and merchants that serve as the Crab's diplomats and link to the outside world. The Yasuki used to be a Crane family, but they shifted loyalties around the time of the first Crane-Crab war and the Crane hate them for it.

The Crab's shugenja school is the Kuni school. +1 to Willpower, starting Honor 1.5, they get a free Raise to Earth spells. Their skills are Calligraphy, Defense, Kenjutsu, Meditation, Shadowlands Lore, any one High skill and any one weapon skill. Their beginning spells are Sense, Commune, Summon, 3 Earth spells, 2 Fire spells and 1 Water spell.

Their bushi school is the Hida school (+1 Stamina, starting Honor 1.5). Its skills are Archery, Battle, Defense, Jiujutsu, Kenjutsu, Shadowlands Lore and Tetsubo.
  • Rank 1: the bushi adds Earth to the total of their attack and damage rolls, and they can use heavy armor without penalties.
  • Rank 2: Once a day, they may spend one Void Point to make a TN 20 Earth roll that negates all damage from a single blow.
  • Rank 3: the bushi gets two attacks per turn.
  • Rank 4: the bushi may sacrifice 3 Wound points at the beginning of a turn to keep an additional die in attack and damage rolls.
  • Rank 5: the bushi can spend a Void point each turn and make a single action even if they are Down, Out or Dead.

The :black101: est dudes.

Stereotypes posted:

Crane: They exploit the favor system to the extreme, to the point of ridiculousness. They rely on those favors and the Emperor's graces to save them from destruction.
Dragon: Who knows anything about the Dragon? They remain hidden away in their mountain keeps and 'contemplate truth.' Send one of their samurai out with me to the Shadowlands and I'll show him truth.
Lion: It is the Lion whom we respect most. Their courage and strength are the reason. They do not claim nobility as the Crane do, but allow their actions to speak for them. However, that does not change the fact that they are all pompous fools.
Phoenix: They may be weak, but they are also willing to acknowledge their weakness. Still, I have seen what a Phoenix shugenja can do, and I would not mind having one on my side the next time the Shadowlands invade.
Scorpion: The Crane relies on favors and the Scorpion relies on secrets. Both are cowards; the Scorpion is just more clever about it.
Unicorn: Theirs is a mighty force to contend with, but they rely too heavily on their speed. We acknowledge the right of the strong, not the lucky.

The Crane Clan lives to the east, by the coast. They use political maneuvering to keep their position as advisors to the Emperor. All Emperors marry Crane ladies, so all Emperors have had a Crane as their mother. Many daimyo also have Cranes as their mothers, so the clan can call in favors from almost all clans at any time. They've also attracted the finest swordsmen in the Empire to teach at their dojo, and attending their iaijutsu school is one of the greatest (and most expensive) honors a samurai can get. Their families are the Doji (+1 Awareness), whose leader is Doji Satsume, "probably the most famous warrior-poet of the Empire" and also maybe the guy in the book's cover; the Kakita (+1 Agility), whose fencing school is the most famous of the Empire; and the peaceful Asahina (+1 Perception), formerly a Phoenix family that went to the Crane when a Phoenix shugenja was saved by a Kakita samurai-maiden.

The Crane's shugenja school is the Asahina school. +1 Awareness, 3.5 starting Honor. They get a free raise to Air spells. Their skills are Etiquette, Meditation, Shintao, Calligraphy, and any three High skills. Their beginning spells are Sense, Commune, Summon, 3 Air spells, 2 Earth spells and 1 Water spell.

Their bushi school is the Kakita school (+1 Reflexes, 3.5 starting Honor.) Their skills are Archery, Etiquette, Iaijutsu, Kenjutsu, Sincerity, any High skill, and any High or Bugei skill.

  • Rank 1: the bushi adds Iaijutsu to initiative rolls and may use Iaijutsu instead of Kenjutsu.
  • Rank 2: the bushi may raise the TN by any value instead of 5 during iaijutsu duels.
  • Rank 3: the bushi may spend more than one Void Point in iaijutsu duels.
  • Rank 4: the bushi may attack twice per turn.
  • Rank 5: before initiative is rolled, the bushi may make a Void vs Void roll with their opponent. If the bushi wins, they may attack them with a TN of 5.

The :sparkles:est dudes.

Stereotypes posted:

Crab: There is more to bushido than swordplay. Their strength and courage is admirable, but their lack of respect for civilization is their downfall. A stubborn, arrogant and uneducated brute you must pacify with a pretty wife: that is a Crab.
Dragon: I would not pretend to understand their ways. All I know of the Dragon is their devotion to mysteries and their tattoos. We are seldom able to procure favors from the Dragon, for they are reluctant to step outside their monastic temples.
Lion: The Lion are our most dangerous rivals. They despise us for our position and how we gained it. Their lack of skill in the court has not improved their position at all, and neither has their hot headed pride.
Phoenix: Of all the other Clans, we respect them most of all. They are a civilized Clan who understands the necessity of our ways. Never lose favor with the Phoenix, for the knowledge of a single shugenja can be worth more than a thousand samurai.
Scorpion: Our most brilliant foe. There is nothing more convincing than the smile of a Scorpion. Once they discover your secrets, you will never be free from their manipulations.
Unicorn: Their distance from us is unfortunate for there is much we can gain from them. They have only returned to the Empire in the past two hundred years, and are eager for allies in our uncertain Empire. Any man who is eager for allies owns something you can gain.

The Dragon Clan lives up north in the mountains. Togashi retired to those mountains a thousand years ago and it wasn't until three samurai joined him in the mountains that the Dragon Clan was born. Everything since then is just speculation. There are rumored to be many secret orders in the clan, one of which - the ise zumi tattooed monks - is part of Rokugan's popular culture, with fanciful stories about monks that fly in the air, shift their shapes and breathe fire. Their shugenja have unexplained powers, but other shugenja claim that they do not understand the basic points of magic. Their bushi schools teaches how to fight with both wakizashi and katana, and while Kakita practitioners scoff at the thought they do so to rep their school instead of actually lacking respect for the Dragon technique. Their families are the Togashi (+1 Agility), ruled by the mysterious Togashi Yokuni and home to the ise zumi order; the Mirumoto (+1 any Trait), known for their adaptability; and the Agasha (+1 Awareness), the most "traditional" of the Dragon families.

Their shugenja school is the Agasha school. +1 any Trait, 2.5 starting Honor. They get a free Raise to Fire spells. Their skills are Shintao, History, Calligraphy, Meditation and any High or Bugei skill. Their beginning spells are Sense, Commune, Summon, 3 Fire spells, 2 Earth spells and 1 Air spell.

Their bushi school is the Mirumoto school (+1 any Trait, 2.5 starting Honor) Their skills are Archery, Defense, Kenjutsu, Meditation, Shugenja Lore, any one High or Bugei skill.

  • Rank 1: the bushi gets +5 to their TN to be hit as long as they're wielding both katana and wakizashi.
  • Rank 2: the bushi gets 2 attacks per turn.
  • Rank 3: the bushi can spend a Void point to give a spell targeting them a free Raise, or to increase their TN in 5.
  • Rank 4: if the bushi kills an opponent with an attack, it does not count as one of their attacks this round and may attack again immediately.
  • Rank 5: the bushi gets 3 attacks per turn.

The :greencube:est dudes.

Stereotypes posted:

Crab: The Crab hides in his shell. The seagull lifts him in the sky and drops him and then eats the crushed remains. The badger turns him over and eats him inside out. His shell is his weakness. If he casts away his weakness, he can use his pincers.
Crane: Relying on the weakness of others is ignoring one's own strengths.
Lion: The Lion is sleepy until roused, and then it is ferocious. If you keep the Lion sleepy, it is of no danger to you, but also reluctant to come to your aid.
Phoenix: They are brothers reborn in the fires of knowledge. We are both seeking the same thing, but our roads are different. Sometimes they cross, however, and then we regain our bearings, learn how close we are and - sometimes - decide to switch paths.
Scorpion: Do not be misled. It is not the pincers that can kill you. It is the tail it keeps hidden behind its back.
Unicorn: They say the sighting of an Unicorn is good luck. Fortune is theirs, but she is a fickle mistress, easily turned against you with baubles and empty praise.

Next: the other clans, and a new and completely inferior character type.

Traveller fucked around with this message at 15:40 on Aug 11, 2016

Jan 6, 2012


Legend of the Five Rings First Edition

OG Stabbers

I forgot to mention how Experience works. Characters get XP points as they play the game. They're spent in a similar manner to CP, but raising a skill costs as much XP as the new skill rating and a trait costs (new trait rank x 5) Surely nothing can go wrong when CP do not equal XP!

The Lion Clan lives around the center of Rokugan and is the clan of honorable punches (whereas the Crab are the clan of dirty punches). They have the largest army, even larger than the Crab who have to fight Hell on Earth every day. Legends say that Akodo, the Kami of the Lion, chose a warrior called Matsu as his bride instead of a pretty Doji girl. Matsu took the courtship as an insult and dueled him for control of the Clan: it's a famous story, represented in plays and novels, that always ends with Matsu losing to Akodo but not being forced to marry him. Generally the Lion are considered to be sticklers for tradition and o'ld-fashioned, but also the greatest warriors and generals - no army with an Akodo at its head has ever lost a battle, apparently. Their families are the Akodo (+1 Perception), ruled by Akodo Toturi, the greatest strategist of the Empire; the Matsu (+1 Strength), matriarchal and rivals to the Akodo for preeminence in the Clan; and the Kitsu (+1 Intelligence) who don't have a good reputation in shugenja circles due to their old fashioned ways.

Their shugenja school is the Kitsu school. +1 to Intelligence, 3.5 Honor. They get a free raise to Water spells. Their skills are Calligraphy, Etiquette Heraldry, History, meditation, any High skill and any Bugei skill. Their spells are Sense, Commune, Summon, 3 Water spells, 2 Fire spells and 1 Earth spell.

Their bushi school is the Akodo school (+1 to Strength, 3.5 Honor) Their skills are Bard, Battle, Defense, History, Kenjutsu, Archery and any other Noble skill.

  • Rank 1: the bushi may ignore the opponent's armor or get a Free Raise for damage or called shots.
  • Rank 2: the bushi adds their Honor to their total attack and damage rolls.
  • Rank 3: the bushi may attack twice per turn.
  • Rank 4: the bushi no longer needs to make Raises for called shots. Still necessary for extra damage, however.
  • Rank 5: if the bushi makes Raises in any roll and fails it but beats the original TN, the roll still succeeds without the extra Raises.

The :hist101:est dudes. what is that yodotai i do not know what you are talking about

Stereotypes posted:

Crab: They are courageous and fearless in their duty, and we owe them much for the protection they have given us. We respect them for their strength and cunning on the battlefield (even if their manners are a bit uncouth), but we do not trust them.
Crane: They are quick to gather their gold and their favors, but are slow to move to the battlefield. If they are so unwilling to part with their money, how unwilling will they be to part with their lives?
Dragon: Like the Crane, they spend too much time in their temples and not enough time learning the ways of the world. If they truly wished to find wisdom, they will come down from their mountains, for they cannot find it up there.
Phoenix: What can be said of the Dragon can doubly be said of the Phoenix. Their samurai are soft, relying on shugenja to support their courage. Distrust any who speak of peace when the battle has already been engaged.
Scorpion: A Scorpion is to be despised, but never underestimated. Trust a Scorpion to betray you, and betray you in such a way that you have no choice of recourse. That is their way, and it is as deadly as any other.
Unicorn: Their horses are mighty and their tactics are sound, but they are not used to our ways. They have spent too long a time away the Empire, and they have much to learn, and we should be the ones who teach them.

The Phoenix Clan live up northeast, on the opposite end from the Crab and the Shadowlands. The first shugenja were their ancestors, an order of holy men that worshiped and coaxed the Fortunes and lesser kami into creating magical effects. The Kami Shiba brought them together and merged their ways with the Tao of Shinsei, creating the underpinnings of Rokugani philosophy. Only one of the Clan's families has a bushido school; everyone else focuses on shugenja and scholarly studies. They are the least militant of all the Clans and prefer peaceful solutions over everything. It's not like Phoenix bushi are cowards, but Phoenix shugenja (the real leaders of the clan) are reluctant to get drawn into conflict. Their families are the Isawa (+1 Awareness), whose Five Elemental Masters train the most gifted students into the magical arts; the Shiba (+1 Intelligence), who are the Clan Champion's family even though it is the Five Elemental Masters who truly rule the Clan; and the Asako (+1 Perception), the greatest historians of the Empire, though the Lion's Ikoma family may dispute that. Who are the Ikoma and why didn't they show up in the Lion writeup? Buy the relevant clanbook, sucker!

Their shugenja school is the Isawa school. +1 Void, 2.5 Honor. They get a free Raise on Rital spells, and may use any number of Void Points when casting spells. Their skills are Calligraphy, Investigation, Meditation, Shintao, Theology and other two High skills. Their spells are Sense, Commune, Summon, 3 of any Element, 2 of any other Element and 1 of any other Element.

Their bushi school is the Shiba school (+1 Intelligence, 2.5 Honor) Their skills are Tea Ceremony, Defense, Kenjutsu, Meditation, Naginata, Shintao and Archery.

  • Rank 1: the bushi may add their Void score to any attack or damage roll. They may also spend up to their Void Point maximum in a single action.
  • Rank 2: the bushi may spend a Void Point to increase or reduce the TN of any spell that targets them in 5.
  • Rank 3: the bushi may spend a Void Point to gain an extra non-attack action per Round.
  • Rank 4: the bushi may attack twice per turn.
  • Rank 5: the bushi may spend a Void Point to substitute their Void score for any Trait or Skill until the end of the turn.

The :science:est dudes.

Stereotypes posted:

Crab: They perform a necessary duty for the Empire, but that does not make them noble. They would take the Empire if they could, which makes them selfish, brutish and short-sighted. Only together can we survive.
Crane: They also understand that philosophy cannot be practiced during war. Their efforts to keep Rokugan peaceful are admirable, and we should help them whenever we can.
Dragon: Their way is a different way. They know secrets that would take us a lifetime to learn. We have much to gain from an alliance with them, and yet, they are so reluctant...
Lion: We and the Lion serve the same purpose. If only they could recognize that. They see us as weak, but we are not. We must maintain truce with the Lions lest we fall prey to their anger.
Scorpion: They are Masters in their own right. They have learned the rules of society and exploit them to their own means. No other Clan in Rokugan understands the subtleties of power as they do, and that is why we are so much alike.
Unicorn: They are young, brash and foolish. They rely on a single advantage and hope that fortune will carry them the rest of the way. But their strength coupled with our wisdom can prove to be a powerful alliance.

Just look at how that guy is all RAISE THE ROOF

The Scorpion Clan live in a central position, sandwiched between Lion and Crab. They know stuff, secret stuff, and they make sure that you know that they know. That is how they survive: they keep the secrets of others. They don't have the strongest warriors or the most powerful shugenja, so they make do with skullduggery, sneakiness and the odd blackmail attempt or assassination. They have used their own poor fame, combined it with Rokugan's social mores and turned it into a weapon. You can't trust them, but they can be useful to you... A good question is why the other Clans don't just team up to kill the Scorpion. Well, it's plot a couple of reasons. One, it is their mission to protect the twelve Black Scrolls, who hold the secret of Fu Leng's defeat. Only the Clan daimyo knows where the Scrolls are. Two, getting caught in a Scorpion plot is incredibly embarrassing for a samurai and their family. Everyone knows they have dirt on people, and no one wants to face that fact. Their families are the Bayushi (+1 Agility), sometimes accused of being just a cover for a ninja family but also known to produce clever fencers; the Soshi (+1 Perception), a shugenja family of sinister reputation; and the Shosuro (+1 Awareness) notable diplomats in the Imperial Court.

Their shugenja school is the Soshi school. +1 to Awareness, 1.5 Honor. They get a free raise to Air spells. Their skills are Calligraphy, Court or Etiquette, Meditation, Sincerity, Theology or Shintao, and another two High skills. Their spells are Sense, Commune, Summon, plus 3 Air spells, 2 Water spells and 1 Fire spell.

Their bushi school is the Bayushi school (+1 Intelligence, 1.5 Honor) Their skills are Defense, Iaijutsu, Kenjutsu, Stealth, Sincerity, Archery and Poison. Stealth and Poison? But those are Low skills! Dishonorable!

  • Rank 1: the bushi rolls two dice for initiative and keeps them both.
  • Rank 2: the bushi may feint with an Agility + Kenjutsu skill against the opponent's Reflexes x 5. Success means the opponent's TN to be hit is 5 next round.
  • Rank 3: the bushi may disarm their opponent with an Agility + Kenjutsu roll against the opponent's weapon skill x 5. With two Raises, the bushi may keep the weapon.
  • Rank 4: the bushi may attack twice per turn.
  • Rank 5: the bushi may declare Raises in an attack roll after rolling the dice.

The :ninja:est dudes.

Stereotypes posted:

Crab: The Crab (much like everyone else) would destroy us if they could. They are as ambitious as we are, but are undisciplined and untrained in the arts of subtlety, and that is why they make such excellent allies.
Crane: A Crane is more afraid of shame than any other, and also have many secrets to keep. They hide behind masks as much as we do, but theirs are made of paper and easy to strip away.
Dragon: They are unashamed of what they are, which is why they pose the greatest danger to our plans.
Lion: A Lion is more like a dog than a cat. He is easy to train and quick to dispose of when you have no more need of him.
Phoenix: Like the Dragon, they are difficult to manipulate because of their introspection. You cannot tempt them with greed or flesh, for they love only their precious knowledge.
Unicorn: They are young, strong, fast and naive. Could you ask for a better ally?

The Unicorn Clan is located northwest, over the Crab. Back in the time of the Kami, Hantei ordered his sister Shinjo and her followers to explore the world beyond the mountains. She took her people and went away for around 800 years. 200 years back, they came back with fabulous wealth, foreign customs and, most importantly, powerful warhorses the likes of which were unknown in Rokugan. They fit their new culture and customs in Rokugan's social fabric, but even now there are still many people who see them as uneducated youngsters at best and foreign barbarians at worst. All Clans can agree, however, that Unicorn cavalry is the best in the Empire. Their families are the Shinjo (+1 Reflexes), ruled by Clan Champion Shinjo "Master of the Four Winds" Yokatsu; the Otaku (+1 Agility), who have much in common with the Matsu family (women in power, swift attacks); and the Iuchi (+1 Awareness), a shugenja family with a lot of foreign tricks unknown in Rokugan at large.

Their shugenja school is the Iuchi school. +1 Perception, 2.5 Honor. They get a Free Raise for Air spells. Their skills are Calligraphy, Hunting, Defense, Horsemanship, Herbalism, Meditation and another Bugei skill. Their spells are Sense, Commune, Summon, 3 Air spells, 2 Fire spells and 1 Earth spell.

Their bushi school is the Shinjo school (+1 Agility, 2.5 Honor) Their skills are Hunting, Defense, Horsemanship 2, Kenjutsu, Naginata and Archery (based on Agility instead of Reflexes)

  • Rank 1: The bushi adds their Horsemanship to any skill while mounted. (Tea ceremonies on horseback? Sure!)
  • Rank 2: The bushi may 'parry', an unknown ability in Rokugan. When they go Full Defense, their TN to be hit is (Reflexes + Defense + Kenjutsu) x 5.
  • Rank 3: The bushi may attack twice per turn.
  • Rank 4: If the bushi fails a physical action roll done with Raises while mounted but still beats the original TN, the roll succeeds without Raises.
  • Rank 5: The bushi may reroll any roll they make. They must keep the second roll, and they may reroll an already successful roll for a better result.

The :horse:est dudes.

Stereotypes posted:

Crab: We have much in common with them. Many disdain the crab because the duty they chose makes them 'dirty.' Those who make such judgments must also feel that we are 'dirty.' Remember what Shinsei said: 'Find allies in your enemy's foes.'
Crane: The Crane have welcomed us with open arms since the first day we arrived. They could have done as the Lion has done, but they took the risk of bringing shame to themselves for our sakes, and so we protect their borders from those who would cover their rightful position.
Dragon: They have never been kind to us, but they also have never been cruel. They are just asmuch strangers to Rokugan as we.
Lion: They despise us because we are not like them and envy what we have. If they could they would destroy us and take what they want. They are the enemy of the Crane, and so they are also our enemy.
Phoenix: The Phoenix have acknowledged our rightful place in the Empire, but that is all. They speak to us kindly, as if we were children. If they value knowledge, then they should treat us with more respect, for who else has seen the lands to the North? Certainly not them.
Scorpion: We are told to mistrust them and they tell us not to trust others. Who shall we listen to? Both of them, of course.

Finally, we have Ronin. Who are poor enough that they don't get art. Ronin are samurai that for some reason or other have no family or Clan, and so have no family name. They're considered to be just above non-warrior samurai in the Celestial Order, but generally they have a low reputation. They have no master to answer to but few people will care to teach family arts to a fallen warrior. Ronin can be bushi or shugenja, and there are two kinds. Clan Ronin are former Clan members that lost favor with their Lord. They're made with the regular chargen rules, but must take Social Disadvantage (Ronin) and cannot progress in their school beyond the first rank. True Ronin never had a clan in the first place. They must take the Social Disadvantage as well, but they get 45 CP to make their character. They don't get Family or School trait benefits, however, and can only raise a Skill or Trait up to 3 at chargen just like regular characters. True Ronin bushi have no techniques, while True Ronin shugenja start with Sense, Commune, Summon and 7 spells with a Mastery Level equal to their Ring rank plus one. Their skills are Hunting and any other six skills, and they may use Low skills without losing Honor. They start with 2.5 Honor. Bushi gear is also pretty poor and they get little money, while shugenja gear is average compared to the clan outfits. 45 CP sounds like a lot, but clan samurai get two free trait points, as well as the all-important techniques and a higher social position. And good luck finding new spells as a ronin shugenja!

Point is, Ronin are the :smith:est dudes. They don't even get stereotypes.


Jan 6, 2012


Legend of the Five Rings First Edition

Legend of the Initiative Roll

Holy poo poo the art took a sudden Birthright tour here

It's time for the Book of Fire! That is to say, the main game system chapter. What's that, you can't wait to hear what Ginawa and company are up to? Me neither! Ginawa, Hijiko and their Scorpion companions line up at a vantage point to watch the Lion and the Crane armies about to fight each other. They must be very close or the Matsu general leading the Lion has a very loud voice, because Ginawa can hear his boasting loud and clear! He seems to know things about the Matsu... maybe too much! Anyway, Ginawa helpfully explains to Hijiko the Crane strategy. The Crane general shows up, asks politely that the Lion surrender, the Lion general is "lol no" and the Crane general is "lol u suck" and the Lion general is like "oh now it's on" and they get ready for a duel! Both Hijiko and Ginawa can tell that the Lion is no match for the Crane, and sure enough, the Matsu general is cut down. The battle begins and it looks like the Crane had it... until the Crane general gets an arrow to the throat for his troubles. An arrow fired from somewhere too close, and wouldn't you know - the Scorpions are gone. Ginawa is on the case before Hijiko can stop them, while the battle rages on. The Scorpions were hiding nearby, also watching the battle. They deny any involvement with the death of the Crane, but Ginawa is having none of it. The Scorpions decide to take care of the insolent ronin, Ginawa draws his cursed sword... and things get really, really ugly.

While Skills are associated with certain Traits, it is the system's intent that any skill can be rolled with any trait depending on circumstances. For instance, Stamina + Horsemanship could be used for a long, tiresome ride, or Intelligence + Kenjutsu when the character wants to identify someone's sword technique. All the traits can get some use with all skills, with the possible exception of Strength which is just used in straight Trait rolls or other situations that require raw muscle (like hacking through a guy) In Trait + Skill rolls, normally you roll the sum of both stats and keep the Trait ones. In pure Trait rolls you keep everything. The usual TN for stuff is 15, and while other difficulties are given in multiples of 5 for convenience there's no reason why the GM couldn't call a TN of 14 or 23 for a roll. Raises increase a roll's TN in 5 to cause a greater effect; a character can only make Raises up to their Void rank. A player can call for Raises if they want a specific effect, or the GM can tell them how many Raises it takes to do something particularly hard. A Free Raise gives the benefit of a Raise without actually increasing the TN: these come from school techniques, special circumstances, buffs and so on. Blind Rolls are made when the GM doesn't want to give the TN of a roll or even what roll is being made. However, if the player is not informed of the TN the GM must grant them all the Raises that they could have gotten if they beat the hidden TN. Contested Rolls are made between two characters, rolling against the relevant Trait times five. As mentioned before, the winner is the one that succeeds, or if both succeed the one that makes the most Raises or scores the highest gets a marginal victory. Mutual failure just means the contest carries on. However many dice you get to roll, you can only roll a maximum of ten dice in a single roll. When characters work together, one is chosen as the primary actor and the rest add their Skill ratings to their roll, or give them a single extra dice per helper if the roll only involves a Trait.

Bwahaha, look at this nerd with huge head and tiny arms

Void! Spending a Void Point raises one of your Traits in 1 for that roll, basically representing a character getting into "the zone" and performing beyond normal capabilities. A character normally can only spend one Void Point per roll. Spending points does not mean the Void rank goes down, though! Void Point are recovered fully at the beginning of an adventure, after a night's sleep, with a TN 20 Meditation roll or a Void + Tea Ceremony roll that recovers 1 point if performed successfully (Tea Ceremonies can be done for more than one people) The game tells us that novices may think high Traits are better than high Skills, but that is not the case! Skills give more dice, so you have more choices about what to keep and ignore, and any of those extra dice could explode. The idea is that characters with wound penalties are more affected if they have less Skills and experience. Sure, okay.

Honor! L5R seems to assume that rolls can be made against PCs to change their mind about stuff, seducing or manipulating them. There's no actual social conflict system. Anyway, when a character is forced to make an action they consider dishonorable, and/or blow the Willpower roll to resist it, they may make a Honor roll as the last resort. They roll their Honor rank against a GM-assigned TN, and if they succeed they resist the temptation and gain one Honor point. If they fail, they lose a whole Honor rank as their confidence in themselves is shaken. Which is a really huge thing for one blown roll, really.

loving exploding tens, seriously

Combat! We have two systems for combat here. The first one is Skirmish, for two to around a dozen characters involved. Initiative is rolled as 1d10 + Reflexes. This d10 may also explode. The combatants are ranked from highest to lowest Initiative, and then they declare their actions in reverse order so that faster characters can anticipate slower actions. Each skirmish is broken down into five-second Turns, where each character may attempt one thing. A character may attempt one of the following Maneuvers in a Turn:
  • Standard Attack : the character strikes at a foe. Normally the TN to hit someone is their Reflexes x 5, modified by things like armor, combat conditions, etc. Some monsters may have a fixed TN. If they hit, they get to roll for damage. This is usually an Agility + Kenjutsu roll, but not always!
  • Full Attack: as Standard Attack, but the character rolls an extra two dice. Their own TN to be hit is 5 until the end of the turn, though!
  • Full Defense: the character focuses on staying alive. This can only be done with at least one rank of the Defense skill. The TN to hit a Full Defending character is their Reflexes x 5, but the attacker must drop any dice that roll less than the defender's Reflexes + Defense.
  • Ranged Attack: similar to Standard Attack, with possible modifiers for cover and such. Note that most Rokugani archers use Reflexes instead of Agility for their Archery rolls (aiming is literally a foreign Unicorn trick)
  • Other Action: miscellaneous stuff. If a character really isn't trying to get out of the way, their TN to be hit is 5.

Once all actions are declared, the GM works through them from highest initiative downwards. Right! Raises in combat can be used for a number of things. Usually they can be used to increase the damage (1 extra damage die), or to perform called shots to hit a particular area of the opponent's body. The exact effects of doing so are left to the GM, as is the number of Raises needed to hit a given area. So you can do things from striking at their arms up to giving them a close moustache shave.

It's Samurai Getting hosed O'Clock here

Damage! All weapons have a damage rating, expressed as a R&K number. For instance, a katana has a DR of 3k2. You add your Strength to the first number and keep the dice the weapon tells you. Damage from spells, poisons or other sources has a DR that is usually given as a single number, which just means you roll that many dice and keep them all. Getting wounded sucks, as you go down the wound levels. Characters have 0, -1, -2, -3, -4, Down, Out and Dead wound levels, where each level has (Earth x 2) Wounds. When you're wounded, you roll less dice depending on the level you're at (see, going first matters). A Down character can barely crawl and whisper, and the TN to hit them is 5. An Out character is knocked unconscious for as many hours as Wounds they have at this level. To die, a character must completely fill out their Dead level. Healing is slow without magic: after a night's sleep a character recovers their Stamina in Wounds. At the GM's discretion, Down or Out characters may suffer more lasting consequences.

Iaijutsu Duels! These get their own rules. First of all, both duelists make Awareness + Iaijutsu rolls at TN 15. Success lets them know one of the following: their opponent's Agility, Iaijutsu or Void. Raises can be made to learn more. After this roll is made, a duelist may acknowledge defeat. This is honorable, but if the other duelist wants to carry on the duel they must stay or be branded a coward. If the duel continues, the TN to hit a duelist is 5. The character with the highest Reflexes may choose Focus or Strike. If they Focus, they Raise the TN in 5. The other duelist may choose between Focus or Strike as well. Each character may Focus up to their Void rank. Once one chooses Strike, from preference or because they cannot Focus anymore, their opponent attacks rolling against the last TN they bid for. This is Agility + Iaijutsu. If the attacker misses or does not kill the other duelist, then they may strike back, at a TN that should be 5 less than the first attacker's TN. In case of hitting, damage is Strength + Katana DR, plus any Raises due to Focus. If both duelists are still standing after the initial trade of blows, they may continue fighting a regular kenjutsu skirmish, or consider their honor satisfied if it was a first-blood duel or a simple test of skill.

gently caress off snekman, you're not worthy of iaijutsu now smell my foot

Battles are for big mass engagements. The rules for actually handling the mass combat are extremely simplistic (contested Perception + Battle rolls between each side's generals); instead, what the Battle rules are for is to determine individual character's fates. Each Battle round, a character determines where they will be fighting: Reserves, Disengaged, Engaged or Heavily Engaged, from less to more danger. After this declaration is made, the GM determines how the battle is faring for each side (winning, losing, even). Then, each character rolls 1d10 and adds their Water+Battle to this number, and compares it to a table to see how they fared that round. Each result has a number of Wound Dice that the characters automatically take that turn; characters subtract Reflexes + Defense from that number. Wearing heavy armor or being a shugenja also reduces the damage taken. They also score a number of Glory Dice to add to their Glory. Going on the offensive when your side is losing can be very Glorious, and very hard to survive! Staying back where it's safe will get you through the battle, but with little to show for it. A Battle result may also indicate a Duel (an enemy hero sees you and you must engage them in a skirmish - it is possible even to start an iaijutsu duel, because people will leave you two alone to do so so as to not insult either of you) or a Heroic Opportunity (a cool thing happens - maybe you get a shot at the enemy general, ride down the enemy archers, get a chance to rescue an wounded ally (or enemy!) and so on.

Glory! Here we have some lines on how to earn and lose it. Things that score you points: avenging blood feuds, fighting in battles, completing quests, crafting quality weapons and armor, defeating enemies (defeating Shadowlands enemies is less glorious because it is considered unclean) giving and receiving gifts, getting married (the bride gets her Glory raised up to one below her husband, while he gets as many Glory points as his new father in law's Glory rank - marry well, bud!) performing honorable actions, performing well in court, proclaiming romances (care must be taken - you want to be loud in your love and devotion but in a way that doesn't reveal who your love is, because samurai are not supposed to fall in love) and so on. These actions have to be public, however, and they only count when the daimyo acknowledges them and grants Glory to the character. Glory is much easier to lose, and the only real way to completely stop Glory loss is to commit seppuku. Losing Glory does not require the daimyo to acknowledge the actions (the court can gossip well enough alone) but acknowledgement from a superior makes the Glory loss higher. A character may apologize with an Awareness + Sincerity roll versus the lord or offended party's Awareness x 5: this is a ritual apology that involves a lot of crying and kow-towing. Inglorious deeds include: failing to award Glory (imagine that you're a Lion lord that refuses to award Glory to the snooty Kakita bushi that just won your tournament), publicly losing Honor, being reprimanded in public by a superior, losing your composure, breaking a promise, showing cowardice (half of all your Glory if you retreat from combat!), engaging in criminal activity, eating or drinking too much, using Low skills in public, refusing a contest, refusing a lord's request, or being caught committing treason (Glory to 0 and forget about seppuku, buster!)

Finally we get the weapons list. Swords are everything from small aiguchi and tanto to huge no-dachi. Katana and wakizashi are there too: they're good weapons but not the utter best thing. They're also mighty expensive, though you shouldn't need to buy one unless something terrible happens. Polearms roll an additional Initiative die when fighting opponents with shorter weapons. There is the "die tsuchi" (die? Die... wait, like the English word? DAI TSUCHI, FUCKS) warhammer, the iconic naginata, the ono battle axe, and the Crab favorite, the tetsubo. Though some weapons are better than others: the die tsuchi deals the same damage as the tetsubo, 2k2, and both ignore enemy armor, but the tetsubo does not get the polearm initiative bonus for some reason. Plus, the tsuchi is cheaper, I dunno. Bows include the dai-kyu for mounted usage and the yumi when you are on foot. Damage depends on the arrows being used: a regular "ya" arrow deals 2k2 damage, while armor piercing arrows deal 1k2 ignoring enemy armor and "watakusi" (?) flesh cutters deal 3k3 but double the enemy's armor protection. Peasant weapons were developed by monks to help peasants defend themselves against bandits and drunk samurai. They include martial arts staples like the bo, the nunchaku and the tonfa. Super cheap, but it's shameful for samurai to use them. Armor is super simple: there is light armor that adds +5 to the TN to be hit, and heavy armor that adds +10 to the TN but also increases the TN of any physical action in 5. It is not bought, the clan gives armor to their samurai and replaces it when damaged. Shugenja are not supposed to wear armor, since they are not bushi, but some still do and risk offending some bushi because of it.

Samurai are never too far away from their swords, not even in the loo probably.

Next: spellcasters that aren't spellcasters???

Traveller fucked around with this message at 03:25 on Aug 11, 2016

Jan 6, 2012


Legend of the Five Rings First Edition

Seriously not a spell you guys

It's a prayer! Totally different!

Book of Air time! This is the magic and religion chapter. Ginawa wakes up suddenly under the rain, surrounded by the remains of the Scorpion magistrates. His sword seems to hum in satisfaction! He panics, cries and generally flips out until Hijiko arrives to the scene of the carnage, as well as a mysterious newcomer - Isawa Tadaka, a Phoenix magistrate. Tadaka realizes what's going on and starts a ritual to cleanse the disturbed Ginawa's soul from his evil blade's influence, and after some creepy chanting he gets Ginawa to let out fiery light from his eyes, chest and mouth (:stare:) before falling unconscious. Hijiko is still catching up, but she thanks Tadaka for what he has done and then they engage in light conversation. She doesn't really know much about shugenja, and he is only too happy to explain... until Ginawa wakes up and presses a dagger to his throat. Hijiko rebukes him, Ginawa lets the shugenja go, and they all decide to head back to Ataka while the Phoenix keeps the Iuchiban blade and the ronin sulks. Some thanks!

The Celestial Order is how Rokugani believe the universe is structured. Everything has a pattern, from seasons to human life, and thus fortune telling is a popular pursuit. People reincarnate over and over: in each life, they have a dharma (their 'duty' in this life, that they're not supposed to shirk) and kharma (the soul's energy, which makes the soul progress until divinity through each reincarnation) Religion in Rokugan does not have much of a formal structure. The Emperor is the nominal head, but each Clan has its own religious structure. In the heavenly Celestial Order, at the top there is Amaterasu, the Lady Sun, followed by the Children of the Sun and the Moon, the original Kami, and then come the Fortunes, gods of sorts that are the object of most people's prayers. Fortunes are further divided into the Seven Fortunes of Good Luck (Daikoku, Ebisu, Benten, Bishamon, Fukurokujin, Jurojin, Hotei) and the Lesser Fortunes, which are usually mortal men and women elevated to Fortune rank by Emperors because of their deeds. Ancestors are also worshiped, particularly each samurai family's founder.

Shugenja! They are more than just sorcerers. They are priests that teach rituals, preserve the names of the Fortunes, measure time and are generally the most educated class of the Empire. Shugenja learn how to communicate with the Fortunes and kami, and carry school-ciphered scrolls with the appropriate rituals and chants. Shugenja magic creeps out some of the peasantry, because it is too close to maho (black magic) for them. Maho is an ugly thing that requires the maho-tsukai ("servant of magic") to pledge their name to an oni and shed blood to acquire arcane power. Maho is a capital crime in Rokugan, and not even a samurai's family will defend them if caught performing it. Peasants settle for their own "magic," fortune-telling through astrology and throwing stones and coins, as well as random superstitions that may or may not work.

Swolezard. Considering how Rings work, mental swole has to come with physical swole to power magic.

Shinsei! Many shugenja see wisdom on the words of the little man and turn to a monastic life, shaving their heads and living in isolation. There are many versions of "Shinseism," integrated with the veneration of the Fortunes and kami, and one of the most recent teaches that only facing the temptations and evil of the world can true wisdom be found: this is Shintao, and has become popular among the samurai caste. Monks are treated as heimin peasants, and lose their position once they assume their new role. In theory, at least. Shinsei teaches that the soul must be released from its ignorance, greed and passions. Only by excising those vices from the soul can illumination be achieved. Those who do so are called noshin, and are worshiped somewhat like Fortunes but in a much simpler, less formal manner. Weakness comes from focusing of the material instead of the spiritual, the flesh is only temporal and so on. One of the "radical" aspects of Shinsei's teachings is that anyone can achieve enlightenment, if they so wish.

Magic objects are known as nemuranai or "awakened" objects. (It literally means "(that which)does not sleep") These are rare, a ronin isn't going to find a warehouse of +1 katana anytime soon. Plus, technically all objects are "magic" because they all have a spirit. Nemuranai are all ancient and not deliberately created (except when they are, heh) but their spirits are awakened through their proximity to those of great honor and glory. Each is unique and must be treated respectfully if the character doesn't want to hit a streak of bad luck. Ghosts are mentioned here for some reason as souls that have not received a proper burial and wander the world of the living with some purpose, either good or wicked. But more information on the GM chapter for those!

Shugenja magic can influence and alter the world around a shugenja through the power of the elements and the Fortunes. It cannot bring the dead back to life; dealing with corpses is maho. It cannot create life either, and it cannot influence the tides, the moon or the stars. Shugenja are not "spellcasters", they just know how to speak to the Elements and the Fortunes, and get them to listen. So now let's talk about how shugenja cast spells! :haw: Spells have a TN and an Element, and to cast one the shugenja must have the relevant spell scroll and roll the relevant Ring + their School Rank. A shugenja may try to cast spells of any given element as many times as their Ring rank. For every night of restful sleep or two hours of meditation, they recover one "spell slot." Spells can be further manipulated through Raises: each spell explains what exactly happens with the use of Raises. Greater range, more targets, more damage, etc. Some spells are Rituals, designed so that more than one shugenja can help casting it (though a single shugenja can cast Rituals alone) These helpers add their School Rank to the dice the primary caster rolls, but they still keep only their own Ring. Some spells with a continuous effect require greater or lesser Concentration: some can be maintained with ease, and some require the shugenja to stay still and focus on the energies being released. If a shugenja maintaining a spell is hit or otherwise disturbed, they must make a Willpower roll against a TN that varies depending on the required concentration. Each spell also has a Mastery Level, that regulates how long it takes to copy a spell scroll as well as a shugenja's ability to take the spell as an innate ability, no longer needing to have the spell scroll. Their Ring + School Rank must meet or exceed the Mastery Level and spend 3 XP (or 3 CP as an Advantage in chargen), and if the shugenja has a mastered spell's scroll and uses it they get a Free Raise. Spells can be cast carefully (double casting time for a Free Raise) or hurriedly (Raise to reduce casting time in 1 action)

Spells time! There are no Void spells, for now.

All of these spells can be used with all elements.
  • Sense: the shugenja can sense a material or object made of the element. Gold in a mountain, drinkable water, a particular scent.
  • Commune: the shugenja talks with the sleeping spirit of an object. The answer depends on the shugenja's politeness and the nature of the questioned spirit, they usually can only respond to simple questions though.
  • Summon: the shugenja summons a fistful of the element, taking it from somewhere else in Rokugan. Casting time depends on just how far away the element is, so good luck summoning water in the desert.
  • Counterspell: the spell is cast against a target shugenja using the opposite element they are casting (Earth vs Air, Water vs Fire). Success raises the target shugenja's spell TN in 5 per raise. This spell can be taken instead of one of the shugenja's school spells at chargen.

These spells deal with resistance, resolve, and health.
  • Benevolent Protection of Shinsei: Ritual, prevents any creature from entering a 30-foot radius circle around the shugenja unless it succeeds at a contested Willpower x 5 roll vs the shugenja's Void + the casters's Ranks. The range is multiplied tenfold in a temple, and the shugenja's Void counts as 3 higher to ward evil away from a temple.
  • Calling the Elements: Ritual, weeds and brambles pop up from the ground, hindering movement.
  • Courage of the Seven Thunders: Ritual, the target takes 3 less damage per round per shugenja participating in the ritual, and a further 3 less damage if they're attacked by a Shadowlands-tainted creature. This spell doesn't work if the target isn't part of one of the Seven Great Clans because of reasons. Maybe they're missing KAMI GENES.
  • Earthquake: Earthquake! All actions are at -2 in the area of the quake and they may take damage from things falling on their heads or something. The center of the quake is "any point the shugenja can see clearly."
  • Earth's Stagnation: the shugenja uses the target's own Earth to slow them down. -1 die to any physical action, plus an extra -1 per raise. Base TN is only 5, so rack up those penalties! Focused concentration, though.
  • Elemental Ward: Any spells cast against the target have their casting TN increased in 5, plus an extra 5 per Raise.
  • Fires from the Forge: any man-made item or piece of gear is repaired back to its original state. Any magic the object had is lost.
  • Force of Will: The target suffers one less die of wound penalties.
  • Hands of Jurojin: the target is healed of disease and poison. The casting TN depends on the virulence of the malady and how long it has been left untreated, but ask your GM about it.
  • Immortal Steel: Ritual, this spell can only be cast once on a metal weapon. It raises its DR in 1 permanently, so a 3k2 katana becomes 4k3. TN 30, though.
  • Jade Strike: DR 3 against a Shadowlands-tainted creature. Also known as "how Crab shugenja say hello" :v:
  • Sharing the Strength of Many: Ritual, the target gets an additional die to roll per shugenja participating in the ritual. Lasts ten rounds by default!
  • Strike at the Roots: TN is the target's Earth x 5, if successful all Earth rolls they make are made as if their Earth is 1. This doesn't change their Wound levels.
  • Tetsubo of Earth: all elements have a spell that summons an elemental weapon. It has a DR of 3 and uses the same skill as the physical weapon. This is the Earth version. A Raise can be made to change the weapon type.
  • Tomb of Jade: TN of the target's Earth x 5, if successful the target's skin becomes jade and they cannot move. Then, it's shugenja's Earth + School Rank versus the target's Earth. Each time the target fails, they take a DR of 2 as their Tainted flesh becomes jade. The shugenja can only maintain this spell a number of rounds equal to their Earth, and after using it the shugenja's Earth is reduced to 1 for that same number of rounds.

Eat, uh... earth cobwebs? Let's go with that.

These spells deal with cleansing, clarity, and transformation.
  • Bo of Water: Water's weapon spell.
  • Blessing of Purity: Like Hands of Jurojin, but instead of a variable TN it has a fixed TN of 10 and then the target must succeed at a TN 10 Honor roll. The shugenja gets a free Raise in a temple to Amaterasu and can attempt to remove evil spirits, but then the Honor roll is contested by the spirit's Earth.
  • Calm Mind: if successful, the target is rid of fear and other mind-altering effects.
  • Castle of Water: creates a moat of water around the shugenja. The water is completely normal and drinkable.
  • Heart of Nature: the shugenja establishes a bond with an animal, that will generally be friendly to the caster and become violent if they come to harm. The caster can make an Awareness check to tell how far the animal is. It used to be a "secret spell of the Unicorn Clan."
  • The Path to Inner Peace: target heals a Wound Level, they heal an extra Level with Raises. The spell only heals Wounds, so if you somehow end taking 17 damage and with an eye torn off you'll just heal the damage but keep an eyepatch.
  • Reflections of Pan Ku: caster's sight becomes blurry, but they can see shimmering around magic items.
  • Reflective Pool: cast on a pool of water, the shugenja may see an area they are familiar with. No sound, though.
  • Reversal of Fortunes: target may reroll one unsuccessful roll for the duration of the spell (10 actions)
  • Sympathetic Energies: caster may transfer 2 Ring points from one target to another. TN is Target Ring x 5, lasts 3 Rounds. Rings or Traits cannot be reduced to less than 1.
  • Torrential Rain: make it rain! Visibility is reduced to 1 foot (!) and all actions are at -3 dice.
  • The Ties that Bind: caster may get a vision of an item or person they're seeking, up to one mile (more with Raises). They must be familiar with the item or hold something belonging to the person.

Mirror, mirror, who is the HOLY gently caress IT'S A DRAGON.

Fire spells have to do with destruction, flames, and insight.

  • Amaterasu's Anger: a flash from the shugenja blinds everyone around them if they fail a Reflexes roll against the caster's Fire x 5. Blinded people have a dice penalty equal to the caster's Fire.
  • Amaterasu's Blessing: Light! Lasts 1 minute normally, can be increased with raises (with 7 Raises it lasts a month)
  • Biting Steel: target weapon rolls an extra die for attack and damage. If the subject is rolling ten dice already, an additional die is kept instead.
  • Evil Ward: the caster draws a symbol on the ground, and Shadowlands creatures that approach within thirty feet burn (DR 2) as long as they stay in range.
  • The Fires that Cleanse: both caster and target are engulfed in flame. DR 5, caster takes half as much damage as the target. Anyone in 10 feet must make a Reflexes + Defense roll at TN 20 or burn like the caster.
  • Fires of Purity: target rolls and keeps an additional die for all rolls. It lasts a number of rounds equal to the target's Honor.
  • The Fire from Within: Fireball! More raises means more targets. DR equals the caster's Fire.
  • The Fury of Osano-Wo: target building is hit by lightning until it collapses. It needs a full hour of casting at total concentration, so it is of little use in sieges and such. Much larger buildings can take just partial damage.
  • Heart of the Inferno: Huge fireball! DR is 6 to everyone in a ten-foot area, with a Reflexes + Defense TN 15 roll to save for half damage. The caster must burn the spell scroll to cast it.
  • Inflame: the caster sets something on fire. If the item is held by someone, the TN is their Water x 5. By custom it is not used against enemy shugenja's spell scrolls, doing so is cause for a blood feud!
  • Katana of Fire: Fire's weapon spell.
  • Wings of Fire: fly away, nerd. Target may fly at Fire x 5 feet per round. Additional raises are necessary if the target is heavily burdened.

"Okay you're just being a dick now, Isawa-san."

Air spells have to do with motion, illusion, storms and manipulation.

  • Accounts of Shorihotsu: this spell reveals what some other shugenja is casting. TN is target spell's Mastery times five.
  • Benten's Touch: target may keep an additional die in social Awareness rolls.
  • By the Light of Lord Moon: caster can see items that are deliberately hidden: traps, false bottoms and so on. Merely hiding from view (like putting a sword in a jar) doesn't trigger the spell. But isn't that hiding? Magically hidden stuff takes a Perception + Shugenja Lore roll against the spell's Mastery x 5.
  • Call upon the Wind: target flies through the air. The shugenja controls the flight, not the target. Unwilling targets can resist with Earth x 5.
  • Cloak of Night: the caster conceals a target item of a character. It must be something they can carry without using both hands. Very noticeable things (a screaming baby, the Emperor's crown, etc.) can increase the casting TN.
  • Command the Mind: Oooh! Two rolls: casting against the target's Willpower x 5, then the target has to roll Perception against the shugenja's Air x 5. If they blow this roll, the caster may implant a thought that the target will believe as their own. Subtle suggestions are good, wildly different thoughts will be unconvincing.
  • Echoes on the Wind: caster may leave a message in a place that will be heard by a designated person (or just anyone), as if the shugenja were whispering in their ear. Raises can be made to increase the length of the message. or to make it repeat indefinitely.
  • Essence of Air: the shugenja lowers all their Rings to 1 except Air. They become imperceptible unless they do something that could be witnessed (opening a door, talking, picking something up) This gives a potential witness a Perception roll against their Air x 5. Even then, losing track of the shugenja even for a moment makes the spell kick in again. It takes full concentration (so they can walk, but slowly) but Raises can be made to reduce the concentration level.
  • Know the Mind: caster may read the target's surface thoughts. These are usually vague impressions, but they can use Raises to dig in deeper. The GM can decide that this is a very confusing experience for the target, perhaps stunning them.
  • Know the Shadows: the caster melds into the shadows (TN to see the target or attack them at range is increased by 5 plus Raises) There needs to be shadows of some sort, casting the spell under direct sunlight is no good.
  • Mists of Illusion: the shugenja creates a very convincing static man-sized illusion. Awareness roll at TN 15 to realize the illusion. Raises can make the illusion move, increase the number of illusions, and so on.
  • Nature's Touch: the shugenja may ask one question of an animal, and understand the answer.
  • Quiescence of Air: Silence, 5' Radius, centered on the caster. This will ruin any further spellcasting for its duration.
  • Secrets on the Wind: caster can hear things in an area they're familiar with, as if they were there. Range is 10 miles + Raises, with Perception rolls necessary for soft or indistinct sounds.
  • Tempest of Air: the caster blows air at the target. Missile attacks from the target are not possible, and if they fail an Air vs Earth roll the target is knocked off.
  • Way of Deception: magical disguise. It's ruined if touched, and a Perception + Shugenja Lore roll can discern the illusion but without revealing who hides under it.
  • Whispering Winds: the shugenja can tell if the last thing the target said was a lie. TN is target's Intelligence x 5, but this only tells what the target feels about the truth of their statement. Raises can be made to tell how big the lie is, or even the objective truth regardless of the target's beliefs.
  • Wind-Borne Slumbers: Sleep. Target must succeed at an Earth vs caster's Air x 5 roll or go to sleep. They wake up if someone approaches within a foot or if they are damaged.
  • Wind-Borne Speed: Target is sent away at (caster's Air x 10) feet per round. Watch out for dense forests.
  • Wind's Distractions: Wind spirits harass the target. The TN of anything they do is at +5 per spirit bothering them (more spirits can be summoned with Raises), or +10 for shugenja trying to cast.
  • Yari of Air: Air's weapon spell.

The shugenja is totally holding wind here, hurr hurr. it is a fart joke

Next: GM advice! The wonders we'll see! The blatant lies! The actually cool things!

Traveller fucked around with this message at 22:36 on Aug 11, 2016

Jan 6, 2012


They're wizards. The game may pretend otherwise, but they're wizards.

Jan 6, 2012


Covok posted:

Well, they might mean how onmyodo use paper magic. Like, animating paper dolls or capturing spirits in paper or sealing off areas with paper or etc.

Well, there is something like that, and it doesn't involve shugenja at all!

Jan 6, 2012


Legend of the Five Rings First Edition

Badabing'd by non-existent ninja

No! The tiny ninja!

Time to wrap this up with the GM section of the book, the Book of Void! And also time to wrap up this loving RPG fiction. Ginawa and the gang go to report to the daimyo Ataka, and they're served rice while they wait. Ginawa demonstrates poor table manners! Hijiko and Tadaka disapprove, -1 point. When they see Ataka, Hijiko starts talking but Ginawa interrupts her with his account of the Scorpion's treachery. Hijiko gets understandably pissed, and by now she's had enough of Ginawa to the point of almost raising her sword - but Ataka gets her to pipe down, quickly. Tadaka confirms that the arrow that killed the Crane general had been manipulated with Air magics. Ataka ponders on this, then starts talking to Hijiko about her complaints over Ginawa and--- he shuts up. Because he just got a lethal dose of shuriken in the back! Ninja! Ginawa is the only one able to react to this: Hijiko loses her cool and starts sobbing, while Tadaka is paralyzed with unexplainable fear. Ginawa is reluctant to draw his sword again, but realizes he has no choice... and then the point of view changes to the real world, because this is all an ongoing game of Legend of the Five Rings! :o: Hijiko's player has just blown her Willpower roll to resist the ninja's fear magic, and she decides to try a Honor roll in spite of the GM's warning that she'll lose a full rank if she blows this. She spends a Void point, and succeeds! Tadaka's player is not so lucky. Ginawa rolls for control of himself now that he has his blade, and makes it! The ninja is nowhere to be seen: it's a Contested roll and Ginawa has to beat a Perception roll of 30. ("It's a ninja! They're trained for that kind of stuff.") The player and the GM roll off, and boom! Ginawa spots the ninja and tells Hijiko about it. Initiative rolls are made, Ginawa's action comes up... he throws the Iuchiban blade at the ninja. Everyone shuts up in disbelief. It'll be a very high TN, the GM says, but that's okay. Ginawa will use a Void Point!

This is the GM section. It starts with practical advice, assuming that it's the GM's first time running L5R, or even any RPG at all. It says that running Rokugan is a true challenge, since it's not a traditional fantasy scenario where players play thieves and rogues wandering the country in search of dungeons and random adventure. No, this is a highly ordered society, and PCs will be at the service of demanding lords. So! First of all, it's good to listen to the players. Do they want a punchy game? Do they want a talky courtier game? Once the GM gets the idea, they can start limiting the character options to fit the type of game the players want. Some clans may be left on the side, that sorta thing. Picking a theme for the game helps: war, questing, exploration (of the Shadowlands, to be precise), mystery, romance, tragedy...

wat posted:

A classic twist of mystery is murdering the characters themselves. Making them wake up with poison in their lips and only ten hours to find the killer (to get the antidote) is a classic twist of the mystery murder.

The character's role in the events must be considered as well. A simple answer is making them soldiers under a daimyo, but that gives them little control. Ronin have freedom to go wherever and serve whoever they want, but they have little reason to stick together and issues of internal loyalty can become dangerous. Ronin need a reason to stick close: maybe they're all siblings, or servants to a murdered lord. PCs can be courtiers in the Emperor's court, trying to get ahead of the other clans. There's spies and ninja to deal with, ronin bandits stealing gold for bribes, and more. And everyone can use a bodyguard. Probably the easiest way to get multi-clan parties together is making them magistrates of the Emerald Champion: they have authority, a broad mandate and a reason to go on Imperial roads solving trouble, dealing with bandits and monsters and so on. There's some classic plots to reference once theme and role are set. Rescuing the princess, defeating the evil warlock, taking down the tyrannical dictator, redeeming the lost friend. All of which happen in Star Wars! Clever, isn't it?

That's it for the GM-as-author. Once everyone is at the table, the GM-as-referee comes up. Keeping the fast rules in mind (pick a TN, assign Trait + Skill, roll) is foremost, everything else is just personal style. Oh, I guess we don't need this whole book after all! There are two GM types: the "dice" GM that lets the dice roll where they may, and the "story" GM that only uses the dice as a guide, if anything. The game leans towards the story GM, though it does mention that the GM having absolute control of the plot is a disadvantage as much as a boon. Most GMs fall somewhere between both extremes, but whatever the case is: be fair. Don't start changing the rules under the players' noses. They'll lose their trust in you, you will lose your authority, and the game will be the worst for it. The GM-as-narrator is the one that makes the game come to real life. Don't tell the players that the daimyo is mad and yelling: get mad, and get yelling. Describe things using all five senses. Change your voice depending on the NPC that you are playing at the moment, use the NPC's appropriate body language. Think of the scenes you have in mind, and how you will talk and move during them. Make action scenes fast and exciting; make mystery scenes slow and threatening. And remember: if you're a beginner, tell that to your friends. Do your best, and they'll understand if you gently caress up.

And now, cheat! All GMs cheat. Seriously! If one of your players gets it in their head that they want to throw their wakizashi at the Emperor and you can't get them to reconsider? Describe how the Emperor is wounded and now the PC is surrounded by fifty angry samurai (that you didn't know existed until a couple of seconds ago), and now the PC is without a weapon. Oni just murdered one of your favorite PCs with exploding dice behind the screen? Shake your head, and describe meekly how the oni beat the crap out of the PC, leaving them with 1 wound. It's cheating, but it keeps the PC in play, and it keeps the player having fun. Sometimes players will try to remember the correct etiquette for a given situation. You can make them sweat with skill rolls, assume their characters know how to play things out, or let other players kibitz OOC so that everyone knows how to act. But hey, in the end some players might just not get proper etiquette even when it's fundamental for the plot. That's why the PCs have the relevant skill: so that players don't need to. Some players with more RL charisma love acting out court scenes, but as long as they aren't hogging too much spotlight letting them act can be fun to watch. And it's unfair to expect players to know how to act socially if you don't show them proper customs, particularly in a society as strict as Rokugan. Show them how NPCs talk to the Emperor, make them flashback to their first tea ceremony. Using etiquette gives flavor to the game, even if it can feel like a hurdle.

Show proper etiquette or you'll get fifty of these fuckers in your face.

There's also some fluff on advanced GMing techniques: narrating prologue and epilogue "cutscenes" to get the players interested in the plot, showing side scenes ("as you guys track down the oni that stole the ancient sword of the Crab, Hida Kisada valiantly fights off an army of the Shadowlands, wondering if you'll make it!") and flashbacks. Sometimes this will require some cooperation on the players' part since it'll require them to ignore information you'll give when playing, though. Using the physical environment
where you are playing the game also helps: turn off the lights and use lamps and candles, get a Noh music CD, serve Japanese finger food. But, whatever you do, do not bring a real sword to the game. It's bolded, in fact. Just don't, no game is worth getting actually hurt. Live action roleplaying is becoming more and more popular, and there will be a L5R Live Action supplement in the future, but two guidelines are present: NO TOUCHING and NO SWORDS. Which really, just makes sense.

We get a list of important NPCs now from all clans. Hida Kisada is the head of the Crab Clan. He's way past retirement age but with no signs of wanting to quit the job. He thinks Rokugan needs a strong leader, and the "old man" (the Emperor) isn't cut for it. Maybe the Crab should take up that post. His son Hida Yakamo is the stereotypical Crab warrior: large, brutish, and arrogant. He is not pleasant and feels no reason to be - the rest of the Empire lives because of him and he is owed respect for it. The Crane has Doji Hoturi, son of the Clan daimyo and an unabashed womanizer suddenly thrust into a position of power after his father became the Emerald Champion. His sensei, Kakita Toshimoko, runs the Crane fencing school. He is a guy that loves partying, hitting on the ladies and having a good time, but becomes ice cold when in a duel and grows really sad for the people that he has to cut down. The Dragon has Togashi Yokuni, the Clan Champion, who has never been seen without his ancestral armor. People have never even seen him eat or sleep, and only a few have talked to him but no one remembers his voice. Mirumoto Hitomi is a surprisingly scrutable Dragon - she is angry as hell, having seen Hida Yakamo kill his brother unfairly in a duel. She is very good with a sword, and only thinks of avenging her brother. The Lion has Akodo Toturi, chief military advisor to the Emperor and a great general, but less good in the political arena: recently a Crane general took Lion lands and the Emerald Champion (a Crane) consolidated their wins in court. He is thoughtful and considerate. Matsu Tsuko is the head of the Matsu family, a fiery and brash woman that hates how the Crane is pushing the Lion around and thinks Toturi is not fit to lead the clan. The Phoenix has Shiba Ujimitsu, the Clan daimyo whose authority only reaches the safekeeping of the Phoenix clan. He has MYSTERIOUS DREAMS. Isawa Tadaka, our buddy from the Ginawa story, is a rising star with a strong (almost unhealthy) interest in the Shadowlands and ways to defeat them. The Scorpion has Bayushi Shoju, Clan Champion and a guy that knows a shitload of secrets over a shitload of people; and Bayushi Kachiko, who is probably not a developer's pet character or anything. The Unicorn has Shinjo Yokatsu, a man that feels uncomfortable with Rokugan even though he rules his clan, and Otaku Kamoko, leader of the Battle Maidens, an all-women shock cavalry force. Finally, we see two ronin: Dairya is one of the most notable masters of iaijutsu and kenjutsu in Rokugan, wandering the land and killing samurai and bandits alike; and Ginawa himself, who could have been a Lion, a Scorpion or something else entirely.

Nemuranai! The game tells us that the more magic items are in PC hands, the less magic they really are. The campaign loses realism and combat loses importance. But if only one or two PCs get nemuranai, the others may get envious. Nemuranai should be treated like characters. Each is ancient, perhaps even a family ancestor spirit. Treating them correctly may unlock abilities no one knew about, while mishandling them will make characters lose their advantages. Enchanted swords have a long history in Rokugan, since they are ~*the most perfect weapon*~ and all An enchanted sword can have a higher DR (4k2, 3k3, 4k3 or more) and other abilities like rerolling all 1s or substituting them for the wielder's Fire rating or whatever. And then it's on to specific examples. Bloodswords, also known as "Kenchi" are what our man Ginawa had in his story. There are rumored to be four ofthe suckers. Bloodswords have a rank that starts at 1 and grows by killing as many people as their rank, so a starting bloodsword needs to kill one man to go to rank 2, two to go to rank 3 and so on. Every time a bloodsword rolls for damage, any die that rolls less than the rank can be rerolled. However, any time the wielder faces a tense situation they must roll Willpower against the bloodsword's rank x 5 or flip out and attack until they can make another Willpower roll to sheathe the blade. Crystal katana are made because of Crab experiments on using crystal against the Shadowlands. Apparently, purified crystal has a deleterious effect on Tainted things. Crystal weapons have a strength that goes from 1 to 5: when a tainted creature approaches, the crystal can repel them by making a roll with their rank against TN 15, while the creature rolls against the crystal's strength x 5. Success, and the crystal repels them. If they ever come into contact, the crystal makes another contested roll, dealing its strength as DR on a success. Ancestral swords are the most famous of Rokugan, owned by the Seven clans. We get an example of two: Bitter is a sword made by a Dragon shugenja/samurai/weaponsmith (aren't shugenja already samurai?) that deals extra damage to low-Honor characters but makes the wielder flip out even in inconvenient situations when facing them; and Honorable, its companion shortsword that has a DR equal to the wielder's Honor and is kept by the Dragon for honorable, painless seppuku. Other objects include Crane good luck origami, a ring that may or may not be used by non-existent ninja, a couple of matched rings of Scorpion make used to spy on people, an Unicorn bonsai tree that makes anyone that focuses on it very tiny, and a mirror that lets people challenge each other to MIND DUELS.

And now, Ninja! Who don't exist and players should not read any further. Also, there's no information for making ninja PCs because they are too powerful and unbalancing. Anyway! Ninja are experts in espionage and deceit. No daimyo will ever admit to using ninja, but every last one of them have considered using their skills. The ninja "clan" is related to the Scorpion but are effectively independent. All the way back in the early Empire, the first Hantei asked his brother Bayushi to build a spy network that would secure his dynasty's possession of the Emerald Throne, with the proviso that betraying his trust would mean the end of his line. Bayushi agreed and the NINJA CULT was born, from humble origins (pay a guy to watch and report) to detailed espionage and infiltration training. By the time of Hantei X, there were rumors that the Scorpion spies were using black magic to achieve their goals. The Emperor called the Scorpion Champion of the time and asked him to explain himself; the Champion instead said that the network would be immediately dismantled. Suspicious, the Emperor ordered all the ninja to present themselves to the Emerald Champion for questioning. Only about one in five did, and they were all put to death for black magic use - including the Scorpion Champion's own brother, Aramoro. It was assumed that the spy network was put down for good, but instead they went underground and became truly invisible. The Emerald Champion was killed an exact year later, with his hands and head cut off - the traditional punishment for warlocks. Now the ninja are an independent organization: they recruit from the peasants and are friendly with Scorpion, but they are not the same. The three main ninja families are:
  • Bayushi: the oldest and with the most ties to the Great Clans. They are no longer directly related with the Scorpion Bayushi, though it is rumored that they take Bayushi samurai children for training.
  • Goju: the ninja shugenja. If they are not butt-deep in black magic, they are true masters of illusion.
  • Ninube: masters of disguise and infiltration. They are raised with several identities instead of one from childhood.

What a dashing non-existing fellow.

Ninja are not super martial artists. They are not good fighters, but they can distract and confuse a whole group of people and make their getaway. It is rumored that their mundane abilities prepare the ninja to accept dark magics, or maybe they drink Oni blood! The truth may never be known, and is probably irrelevant. After another warning to keep ninja away from players, we get some rules to make ninja. First, pick a Family, just like Clan samurai. Bayushi get +1 Reflexes, Goju get +1 Intelligence, Ninube get +1 Awareness. The Bayushi Ninja school (+1 Agility)] has as skills Acrobatics, Acting, Defense, Explosives, Sleight-of-Hand, Mimic, Poison and any 3 Ninjutsu. Many of these are ninja-only. Ninja get specializations for their skills, but it's not clear how they work. Ninjutsu, for instance, is the skill to use any of the ninja tools of myth (hidden blades, climbing claws, yawara sticks and so on) and is a single skill for all of them. The skills usually have greater effect than those available to samurai: Disguise, for instance, gives the ninja a full new persona per rank, while Shinobi (ninja Stealth) lets the character hide in plain sight and has any would-be observer roll Perception against the ninja's Willpower + Shinobi. Their Rank 1 technique is Distraction: it is a special maneuver that raises their TN to be hit in +10 or +20, but increases the TN of anything the ninja tries to do in +10 or +20 as well. There are three sample ninja NPCs: Bayushi Aramoro is named after the legendary ninja, and is the Scorpion daimyo's brother. There is a tradition in the Bayushi samurai that the second-born son is offered to the Bayushi ninja, apparently, He is tall, strong, the chief of security of the Scorpion palace, and in love with Bayushi Kachiko, his sister in law. Goju Ededei is an ugly little man, a shugenja ninja with a sinister reputation and the Disadvantage to prove it - but no one can associate it with him, since he's a loving ninja. He takes a single eye from each of his kills, and keeps them in magic jars for his collection. Ninube Hirariko is an infiltration expert with four identities, including the favorite geisha of the Crane daimyo. Spooky! Also, a later sourcebook called "Way of Shadow" will let us play a ninja campaign, the book says.

This is a gigantic lie.

Creatures! Here we get your actual monsters and the like. Monsters get Rings, an attack roll, a damage roll, a TN to be hit, and Armor which works differently from PC armor: any die that comes up less than the monster's Armor is treated as a 1. They have much simpler wound levels: a goblin gets 6- -1 and 12 - Dead, for instance. Monsters can also cause Fear (Willpower roll against the Fear x 5, those who fail cannot use Void Pointsa and must ignore all dice that roll under the Fear rating), have Multiple Attacks per round (self-explanatory) or have Invulnerability (mundane weapons only cause 1 Wound of damage, only crystal, jade or nemuranai weapons may harm them properly and evil GMs can decide that only one of those can do so)

Goblins are Fu Leng's attempt at making men. They're twisted mockeries of humans, dumb and hateful. They're used by oni as cannon fodder, and throw themselves recklessly into combat. Some of them are larger and slightly smarter: they are known as warmongers and serve as their leaders in combat. Yorei are ghosts, with all sorts of powers. They cannot be touched if they do not wish so, and pass through solid objects, but they cannot move through jade - even a jade coin can pin them in place. The most common ghosts are gaki (blood drinking assholes), shi-ryo (ancestor spirits, sometimes helpful and sometimes hateful), ubume (the ghosts of women that died in childbirth, they cannot move on until their child is 'born' and that needs someone to hold the spirit child as they grow heavier and heavier in their arms), and goryo (vengeful spirits that want to take their killers to justice, or torture them endlessly) Shapeshifters, known as "hengoyokai" by the Rokugani, are spirits able to take a physical form. Most take animal shape, but they can also be trees, flowers or pretty much anything, even humans. Kitsune are tricksters and consummate liars, but are generally benevolent. They like to make fun of humans, but they mean them no harm. They can be very attractive to the opposite sex, and there are many tales of foxwives that fall for men. Kumo are not nearly as nice: they are a race of giant spiders that prefer to keep their own company and eat whatever they catch on their large webs.

Apparently, these ugly dudes "breed like rabbits." :gonk:

Ratlings or Nezumi are a race that lived in what is now the Shadowlands, before Fu Leng's fall. Their civilization was destroyed in the chaos, and have spread throughout Rokugan trying to survive. They are not affected by the taint of the Shadowlands at all, and Crab samurai learn their language and use them as scouts. There are stats for regular ratlings, ratling 'bushi' and ratling 'shugenja' (they use blood for their rituals, but it's not maho) They sometimes use weapons and armor looted from dead Crab warriors. Ogres are Fu Leng's second attempt at creating life. They are much stronger and tougher than goblins, but still not too bright. They are the easiest of Fu Leng's creatures to find in Rokugan proper, since they do not move in large groups and can get past the Crab defenses easily. Zombies can be created by warlocks attaching a porcelain mask to a corpse and invoking a lesser evil spirit to take control of it. Humans that die in the Shadowlands also rise as zombies.They are super tough, but they have no real will of their own. They lose one limb per Wound level they lose and if they lose their head (or a called shot is successfully made) they go down in a heap. But they only have a single Wound level with 60 Wounds, so I guess by RAW they'll never lose bits without a called hit!

Sneaky is not always evil, or Scorpion-y.

Kenku are an ancient race of crow-men from the time of the Naga. They can use weapons and other objects, and are very inquisitive and curious. They teach things to those who seek them out and are worthy, love shiny things, and many kenjutsu masters of old have had kenku as their sensei. Their understanding of the universe also lets them cause spell-like effects. Kappa are small humanoids that like to trick travellers to ambush them and feed on them. They have a small indentation on top of their head that they must keep full of water at all times, or they become helpless. They're strangely polite even to their victims, though. Pennaggolan are a type of vampire, a flying head trailing intestines and guts behind it. They squeeze the life out of their victims before feeding. They can pass for humans but need to use their natural shape when feeding, and their intestines become full of blood when they do so. They get around this by soaking them in vinegar, which speeds their digestion process.

Oni are the most dangerous creatures in the book, servants to Fu Leng himself. All Oni are invulnerable and have all sorts of powers. They are evil spirits granted physical shape by Fu Leng's will or by black magic. When an Oni is summoned, they take the name and part of the essence of a participant in the ceremony. The oni is bound to this person, but as time passes they absorb more and more of their chi until the human being loses itself and the oni takes everything. When this happens, the Oni is free and can do as they please, including the ability to produce lesser spawn of itself. There are four oni described here: Kyoso is a vaguely feminine demon that attacks with great beams of power as well as spells. Three times per round, too! And when they hit with their unholy fire, the target must make a Void roll against TN 10 or lose one Void Point, or fall unconscious if they have no points. Shikibu are orange dwarfs with blue beards that can recover their shape if they are destroyed by taking over a nearby corpse; they like fighting near properly prepared "meat stores" because of this. Akuma are horrible beasts that destroy entire villages for kicks. When they hit with their flaming tongues, they leave burning saliva that causes 1 die of Wounds per round until doused with vinegar or alcohol. Tsuburu are giant living gullets that don't even bother moving around: they teleport and devour humans whole, loving the death rattles they hear inside their stomachs. Strength vs Strength roll to catch someone, then they swallow them up and the poor bastard takes 1 die of Woudns per round until they get help. So yeah, watch out for these puzzle boss assholes.

Pretty elegant for a walking TPK.

Now it is time for the usual introductory adventure! The Ceremony of the Samurai is an adventure meant for new characters, players and GMs. PCs go to the Topaz Championship in the city of Tsuma, a championship meant for young samurai about to go through gempukku. They may earn honor, or die trying. Fun! Characters should know each other from childhood or have a reason to stick around together: maybe two traveled together to Tsuma, meeting a third on the way who was friends with the fourth, and so on. When the characters are on the road, they meet an old man who will try to get away and let the noble samurai pass, only to fall in the nearby river. Perception against TN 15 to notice that the local cranes were not bothered by the sudden splash... the old man is Megumi, the Fortune of Heroic Guidance, and is testing the players. They are not penalized if they leave the man be, but if they help the 'old man' will thank them profusely and offer a free tea ceremony while answering questions about Tsuma and the Topaz Championship. Megumi is carrying a katana, which should be illegal for a peasant to carry: he will only say that he is "keeping it for his master." He also make boiling tea just from mixing the contents from two small pouches: TN 5 Herbalism roll to realize this should not happen, but Megumi will brush it off. A successful Tea Ceremony roll for each PC (TN 9) gives one Void Point. But wait, why would they be missing Void Points this early into the adventure? Whoever went first to rescue Megumi will be offered the katana or the coffer he is carrying: they must perform the proper gift-giving ritual (rejecting it twice, accepting it at the third attempt) or the gift will disappear after the old man is gone. The katana is of exceptional make, 5k2, while the coffer has one spell of the GM's choice. Megumi will let the PCs stay at his home while he is outside: he will transform into a crane once the PCs have lost sight of him. Later, the PCs will meet Yasuki Jodeiga, a Crab peddler. If the PCs peruse his wares, they must roll Awareness against Jodeiga's 6k3 Commerce roll or leave his stall half a koku poorer and with some small useless trinket. SOCIAL SKILLS.

Tsuma is a Crane city, but it has holdings belonging to other Clans as well. One is a Scorpion "tea house" that sells some kickass sake and serves at the Scorpion's clandestine HQ in the city, while the other is an Unicorn trading house full of rare foreign goods. There's also a temple to the Seven Fortunes and the Kakita kenjutsu school, as well as Megumi's flat, but little else of interest to PCs. The day before the tournament begins, the Emperor arrives by boat! It's a great event with all the required pomp and spectacle. He has Lady Bayushi Kachiko, beautiful and with "non-traditional" clothes, with him. His son is also coming with him: a veteran Crab samurai will elbow one of the PCs and note how "Squid-sama" is showing up. The PC can try calling the Crab out on his insolence, but they will probably get their rear end kicked and at any rate it's only the word from a child against that of a veteran warrior. There are some rumors of the Lion and Crane going to war, the Emperor refusing to abdicate for his son and so on. Also there is a young Scorpion bushi, Bayushi Sugai, who will be the PCs' nemesis this adventure.

And then it's off to the Tournament itself! It comprises several different tests. Each character must score five points to complete their gempukku, and only those who do can enter the third day iaijutsu competition and the fealty ceremony that follows. Those who fail must try another gempukku ceremony next season. The PCs and the other contestants will be under the watch of their superiors, so they better be on their best behavior. The tests of the first day include Sumai (contested Sumai roll), Heraldry (TN 20 Perception + Heraldry roll), Athletics (several Resistance or Agility + Athletics rolls through an obstacle course; Bayushi Sugai has laid guide ropes for him and traps for the other contestants like bags full of loving 2k1 damage angry wasps), before a two-hour break. Then it's on to Horsemanship (Horsemanship rolls to move through an obstacle course, then attack rolls to strike with a sword and with an arrow at targets) and an Etiquette quiz (Etiquette/Law/Lore: Bushido rolls against TN 15, the GM is encouraged to introduce aspects of Rokugan's society using the answers of this quiz) So far, so good!

And now it's time for a cutscene. :sigh:

The PCs are invited to dinner with all the bigwigs. Mostly the youngsters will be left alone, since the bigshots all have important stuff to discuss, including Badger Clan Champion Ichiro Akitomo. When PCs are about to leave, they are joined by fellow competitor Otaku Shiko, and they have a nice night walk, interrupted by swordplay sounds. Hm! The PCs go to check this out, and they find five corpses, including Ichiro Akitomo. Bayushi Sugai shows up with a bloodied katana, asking what's going on. See, the Lion wanted the Badger as ally in their fight with the Crane, but the Scorpion hosed this up by sending Sugai and Bayushi Aramoro to murder the Badger Champion, ruin the Lion's plans and dishonoring the Crane for failing to protect him. Sugai did his job but was actually surprised by the PCs, and tries to intimidate them into complying with his orders. Shiko doesn't trust him one bit. Eventually they all go to get some guards, and everyone is questioned. Sugai says that he heard the fighting, saw the killer get away, and managed to kill him before he did. There are no other witnesses, and not even Sugai could have killed six men on his own, so even though it's obvious to people that he is involved somehow they must let him walk. Except that Shiko says a little too loud that Sugai has to be the killer, a duel is instantly arranged to keep appearances, and the poor Unicorn is legally murdered by Sugai.

The PCs get to do nothing during all of this. It's a tutorial scenario, see.

Next day, no one even brings up the incident. The first test of the day is the Arms test: characters are squared off and they fight with any melee weapon they choose (the training weapons used only keep one die for damage). It is the second most prestigious test of the Championship. Then it's time for Poetry (the players themselves must compose a 5-7-5 haiku on a subject chosen by Kachiko, then make a skill roll); Court (like the Etiquette contest, only with the Court skill); and a two-hour break. The last tests of the day are Go (as in, the board game - Perception + Battle rolls), Archery (TN 10, 15, and 20 Archery rolls; Sugai will sabotage the PCs' bows, so the GM is supposed to secretly add 5 to the TN and just shrug when they fail, TN 25 Perception to notice the sabotage) and Hunting.

Oh boy. Hunting.

The PCs have four hours to go into the nearby woods and find 3 Tsu Fish eggs. Tsu Fish are amphibious fish whose eggs are considered a delicacy. Now, PCs can help each other here (though the GM does not have to point this out) since everyone can win this test. The TN to find the eggs is 14 for Perception + Hunting. Actually getting them requires an Agility + Stealth roll against TN 16 to keep the Tsu Fish from flipping out (they hit like a truck in a swarm), and Agility + Athletics against TN 13 to climb the trees and take the eggs from them. So far, so good!

And then the PCs are ambushed by ronin hired by Sugai. They are more than the PCs and they have a shugenja ready to cast Wind-Borne Sleep. The ronin have no stats. If the PCs hand over the eggs? Fine. If no? They die, and the GM rolls time back because it is a learning experience. No sense in fighting when there is no honor to win in it. They'll have to save appearances claiming they failed to find the eggs, while Sugai and the Scorpions enjoy a yummy egg dinner that night.

Next day: PCs that have their five points are good. Those who don't, poor bastards. If they happened to be Matsu? See, Matsu Tsuko had pulled aside all Matsu PCs and NPC at the beginning of the tournament and told them that if they blew this, they had to seppuku to cleanse this taint. Yeah. This ceremony is very formal and solemn, but as a small consolation the player may make another PC equivalent to the one they're losing and they get all the XP for the adventure. Hope you didn't want to play that PC anyway! :sigh:

The final test of the day is the Iaijutsu tournament. This is the greatest test of skill in the tournament, and it is solved as a knockdown series of iaijutsu duels. There is no time to rest or recover Void Points or Wounds between duels, but the swords they use only keep a single die for damage. After everything is said and done, the successful character get to perform a fealty ceremony for their clan. Banzai!

Also, Megumi shows up, reveals himself as a Fortune, and says that the PCs are "the chosen ones" before loving off. :wtc:

The winner of the Championship gets 4 koku, an exceptional katana (4k3), 10 Honor points and 8 XP. Second place gets a fine katana (4k2), 3 koku, 10 Honor points and 6 XP. The rest get 1 koku and 4 XP. After that, we get a list of the VIPs, the other contestants with their stats, including Sugai, poor Shiko, and some loser ronin called Toku.

There is a probability table after this, handy to know just how hard will making a TN 20 roll be for a PC rolling 5k3, several maps of castles and buildings, and a geography list. Do you want to visit places like Toshi Ranbo Wo Shien Shite Reigisaho (the City of Violence Under Courtliness) or Otosan Uchi (the Imperial Capital)? There you go. The Japanese never gets any better. With the credits, a reading list that includes the Book of the Five Rings and Eiji Yoshikawa's Musashi, John Wick announcing he will marry Jennifer on New Year 1998 :3: and some quick reference pages, that's it!

This poo poo makes my eyes bleed.

Jan 6, 2012


Legend of the Five Rings First Edition

The GM Pack: GM Abuse Edition

So, it's time for the original L5R Game Master Pack! This kinda stuff is normally just a GM screen and maybe an adventure. There's the screen as well as the adventure, but...

It starts giving us the Kharma Rule. In a game as lethal as L5R, players "understandably" can get quite tired of of every character they make ending their life with their own sword in their gut. At the GM's desire, a player can make a new PC depending on how well their previous character had fulfilled his dharma, his Celestial Order-given role in life. The new character gets some of the points of the dead one. In the example given, the new PC uses the old character's Insight as CP, but Trait costs are increased to 10 from the corebook's 8. I'm not sure I'm reading this right - even a starter character would have an Insight of 120ish points, which is a hell of a lot compared to the measly 25 you get as a clan samurai or the 45 you get as a true ronin. Unless you are meant to buy all the things that chargen characters start with like 2 ranks in all Rings, a rank of Glory and starting Honor, but if you had to buy all your Rings from scratch it would take 184 points with the new values, so I don't know. At any rate, the idea is that players can throw away their characters lives more freely and try for daring, honorable deeds to score more points for their later characters, but not everyone has a just shy from gempukku kid to make this work. This ain't Pendragon, bud.

So far, so good, now---

A cool battle pic before the :barf:


For Your Eyes Only
By John Wick

(Or, "Never Give A Player An Even Break")

Hoo, boy.

Okay, so the GM section of the corebook had GM advice. And honestly, it seems fair to me. But players always read the GM sections, so this is the REAL GM advice. (Players could conceivably buy the GM Pack themselves, but it's less likely, see.) See, the GM cheats, and cheats big. Cheats so big the players would lynch them if they found out. Because...

THE WICK posted:

Some RPGs tell you to be fair.
Others tell you to be arbitrary.
Not us.
We tell you to hit your players below the belt.
Never give 'em a break.
Never let up.
Never take it easy on them .
Why? Because they'll hate you if you do.
The fact of the matter is, players are a masochistic lot. They want you to run their characters through the grinder. They want you to take advantage of their character's weaknesses. To pummel them mercilessly and leave them in a bloody pulp.

I know, I know. John has moved on, he isn't that guy anymore, so on and so forth. But still, repeat after me:

No, you piece of poo poo.

He talks about running an adventure called The Anvil of Despair, involving carrying a cursed anvil to the Shadowlands. The party got their asses kicked to hell and back but still showed up next Friday to play. See, they're masochists! Hurt their characters, because pain builds character. :smuggo:

How do you handle "power players"? Wick-style. One player made a tough Crab samurai because they were going on a Shadowlands quest. That character was super minmaxed, taking Taint points and having no social skills to pump up their combat abilities because John never makes people roll when they RP well, and our man had a choice - he could talk about it with him and tell him to remake the character, or go along. And he did, giving everyone a quest to go into the Shadowlands, and then suddenly some Scorpion samurai yells at the daimyo and demands to replace the brutish, corrupted, useless and worthless Crab. And he succeeds, obviously, since he has the social skills the Crab lacks.And the Crab stayed home, and the player made a new PC, and John magnanimously let him have extra points to catch up with the other PCs. :sigh:

No, you piece of poo poo.

But you know, be responsible! Don't ruin the players' fun!

Don't be this guy, seriously.

After some errata (including more :smuggo: on how lethal the game is - in real life, you only need to be hit once, L5R players can take usually TWO hits before dying, feel free to raise the Earth multiplier though) we get rules for the Shadowlands Taint. The Taint is a sort of sixth element aside from the other five, created by the presence of Fu Leng. It is the element of Corruption, and it is contagious. Those infected by it see their body becoming sickly and their mind turning to senseless violence and bloodshed, until they become unthinking pawns of Fu Leng. The Phoenix have developed unreliable spells to deal with this sickness, while it is rumored that some Kuni shugenja deliberately expose warriors to the Taint - after all, it does make a warrior stronger and only Crane care about how they look. All Shadowlands creatures have the Taint, which is ranked from 1 to 5 and has 10 points in each rank like Honor or Glory. Every 24 hours of exposure to the Taint forces a character to make a TN 5 Earth roll. Failing this means the character acquires 1d5 Taint points. Succeeding clears the character for another 24 hours, after which they have to make another Earth roll with an extra +5 every 24 hours. Jade wards off the Taint's corruption: a finger-sized piece of jade lets the character skip the Taint rolls for around a week. The jade absorbs the corruption until it becomes blackened and stained. Tainted characters may add their Taint rank to any physical Trait for one roll, but this adds one Shadowlands Point. They also subtract their Taint rank from any social interaction rolls. If their Taint rank ever exceeds their highest Trait, they succumb to it and become an NPC. The Phoenix and Crab have developed a ritual, Purification, that removes 1 Taint Point for every shugenja participating in the ritual, but also gives them 1 point each.

Maho! The three shugenja best known for their forbidden knowledge are Nakanu, Yajinden and Iuchiban. Remember him? He made those bloodsword dealies. He was put to death, but came back, and eventually was defeated again and entombed deep in the Shinomen forest, in a, shall we say, dungeon made by Crab engineers and Phoenix and Scorpion shugenja. Even now, the name of Iuchiban gives the creeps to people. Maho is basically praying to Fu Leng, deep in the Shadowlands. It uses Earth + Taint as its casting roll, and all maho spells require blood to be shed - either the shugenja or from someone else. The Mastery score of the spell is how many Wounds of blood must be spilled for the spell to work. Every time a maho spell is cast, the shugenja gets (Mastery x 2) Shadowlands Points. Raises require additional blood sacrifices instead of increasing the TN.

  • Animate the Dead: one corpse is raised as a skeleton or zombie, depending on how decomposed they are. Lasts a month.
  • Blood of Midnight: imbues target with bloodlust, increasing attack and damage dice in 4. They must spend one round butchering and tasting the blood of any foe they kill, the duration is increased for each casualty, and after it is over the target must roll Honor against their kills x 5 or lose one Honor point. The target is aware, but unable to control their actions.
  • Corruption of the Earth: an area under the target's feet becomes deep mud that starts swallowing anyone on it at the rate of 2 feet per action. It requires Total concentration, though.
  • Curse : target is cursed. The TN and blood requirements are low but this needs the caster to have a lock of hair, ounce or blood, or something else that was part of the target's body. This item must be held in physical contact by the caster at all times, or the curse breaks (this is the only way to break it, in fact) Some example curses are stuff like a ladykiller Crane finding that literally no woman can resist him, a Scorpion that everyone trusts, an Unicorn that cannot sleep twice under the same roof and so on. Curses should be challenging but also fun for the player, and care must be taken so that they don't ruin their fun.
  • Dark Divination: Caster can ask yes/no questions of the GM that they must answer truthfully, they get 8 Shadowlands points per question though.
  • Summon Garegosu no Bakemono: this summons a Garegosu, an elephant-sized tentacle monster that devours enemies and adds the Earth of anyone it kills and digests to its own. It's awful enough to require Willpower rolls not to flee from it on sight or when it starts eating someone. The shugenja is always safe from the beast.
  • Summon Oni: this requires the caster to write the name of a living person on a scroll. If the person is unwilling, Void vs Void roll or the summon TN is increased. Once summoned, the Oni and the named person become mystically linked, but it is whoever possesses the scroll that can order the Oni around. The linked person starts gaining Shadowlands Points at an accelerated rate, and jade cannot stop this. If the scroll is destroyed, the oni is sent back to Fu Leng's realm, but if the linked person is overcome by the Taint the oni is freed to do whatever it wants.
  • Summon Swamp Spirits: must be cast near still water, summons some weak swamp monsters. +1 monster per Raise.
  • Summon Revenant: summons an undead champion, the summoning can be made permanent if the caster is willing to sacrifice a full Earth rank.
  • Stealing the Soul: ritual, target loses one point per shugenja from every Trait down to a minimum of 1 Trait rank. Lasts "only" 8 actions but it doesn't specify a minimum range or anything :ohdear:
  • Touch of Death: Ray of Death! DR is 7. Range is 10 feet + 2 per Raise though.

Next: going into the Shadowlands is the least dangerous option.

Jan 6, 2012


Doresh posted:

I think what this industry needs is a self-aware game like John: The Wickening, the suspenseful horror game of ordinary people or adventurers having to deal with an adversarial, evil presence that is both untouchable and omnipresent.

That's just Call of Cthulhu, only everything is Nyarlathotep and out to gently caress with you, specifically.

Jan 6, 2012


Legend of the Five Rings First Edition

The GM Pack: Your Luck Won't Hold

Time for the adventure! The Hare Clan is an adventure written by Greg Stolze. It's a riot! The adventure assumes the PCs are in a group under the orders of a famed Lion samurai, Matsu Chokoku. The Hare Clan is a minor Lion ally with lands past the Scorpion holdings. According to Chokoku, a Hare seems to have stolen a valuable Kitsu scroll. The Lion does not wish to insult the Usagi family by sending in official magistrates, and they don't want to tangle with the Scorpion either, so Chokoku thought of sending the party - who the Hare don't know - to figure things out. Subtlety and discretion are necessary to prevent dishonor! Chokoku stresses to Lion clan characters the need to spare the Hare embarrassment if they 're found innocent. Scorpion characters can come in by a straight appeal from Chokoku (he tells them that he needs their subtle skills and that he'd rather have the Scorpions know this secret, at least they won't just blab it out) or by letting the Scorpions overhear his "secret" request, then "breaking down" and revealing it all in exchange for their assistance. He is more standoffish with samurai of other clans. Ronin get offered 20 koku and the favor of the Lion, with a stern warning not to doublecross him. Onwards!

Pictured: Mr. Not Appearing In This Adventure.

The party gets some travel expenses and papers to journey through the Scorpion lands. The papers are signed, but blank, and Chokoku says they are honor-bound to fill the forms accurately! TN for the FIre + Forgery roll is 25. :v: It's a four day ride through Scorpion lands: characters may choose to stick with the road (with proper inns and Scorpion magistrates) or hump it cross-country. A magistrate called Shosuro Rei (which you can tell is not a John Wick character, since she is "of medium height and stocky" :haw:) hails them on the road, or catches them cross-country if they blow a TN 15 Agility + Stealth or Hunting made every day. Rei is cynical but still believes in justice - she knows just how much slimy poo poo goes on in the Empire, but generally lets "unimportant" crimes like unauthorized duels and such go, they're not worth the hassle. If they find her in the road, she'll check their papers: if she notices they're forged, she will still let them go because that happens like every other day. She is more concerned with hints of treason plotted at very high levels, so she'll just make a mental note of the PCs and send them on their way - not that they know that, so the GM is free to make them sweat.

Shortly after they cross from Scorpion to Hare lands, an encounter! It's an Usagi samurai fighting an ogre. :stare: Both are kinda wounded by now! Presumably, the PCs help the Hare kill off the ogre, because otherwise we don't get an adventure. The samurai is Usagi Ozaki, son to the Hare daimyo. He politely invites the PCs to their castle, after asking them to help him haul the ogre's corpse back - and then notices how the ogre had a very luxurious scabbard for his otherwise plain no-dachi.


"That appears to be the saya of the Hare clan sword, missing for years. If you'll excuse me, I believe I am going to faint now."

So much for subtlety and discretion when the PCs show up at Castle Usagi with a dead ogre and an unconscious heir! Usagi Tomoe rushes to see her brother, and peppers the PCs with questions before she takes away as her father, Usagi Oda shows up. After the minimum possible of polite talk, he sends the PCs away to get a bath and has them as honored guests for dinner. The Usagi family is provincial and not hip with the latest court fashion, but they're agreeable and kind. After dinner is done, he starts talking about the scabbard and the Hare's ancestral sword, missing ever since a Hare hothead left with it trying to save his love, a Crab samurai, from the Shadowlands. Casting Commune on the scabbard (Tomoe can do this if the PCs don't figure it out, she is a Kitsu shugenja) reveals that the blade is held in Hiruma Castle: an infamous location for the Crab, since the castle fell to the Shadowlands ages ago. The Hiruma family never lived it down, in fact. Ozaki wants to set out for the Shadowlands first thing in the morning, broken arm or not, while Tomoe hints he has "important business" to attend to here. The daimyo doesn't want to send either of his kids, obviously. After this, the adventure splits in two parts that can be played in any order: the PCs can go to the Shadowlands in search of the Hare sword, or stick around and see what happens.

Usagi Tomoe and her Ancestral Hair of the Hare.

The first option is more survivable, to be honest.

To the Shadowlands, then! The PCs have to go through Crab lands to do this. They can use the ogre's corpse as blackmail (since it was the Crab's fault it got through them), they can try sneaking through, they can just march forward and fight any Crab that tries to stop them (the Crabs might just tag along if they fight hard enough!)... or they can just ask politely to be allowed into the Shadowlands, which the Crab will do while writing them off. "One less Lion, one less Unicorn..." Hope PCs remember to carry their jade! On day two of their journey to Hiruma Castle, they're watched by a goblin spy and her steed. Perception or Awareness rolls to catch her, and she'll try to escape. If captured, the goblin will beg for mercy, lick their boots, "offer sexual favors" :gonk: and anything else she can think of, while the goblin mount (her horribly mutated brother) will resignedly ask for a quick death. Better than what Exalted Ugu, their goblin shugenja boss, will do to them. The spies know that there's a lot of goblins in the castle, that all the defenses are focused on the front gate, that there are two ogres (Mug and Mug) living in the castle, and that the patrols have seen a mysterious woman sneaking around. If the PCs don't catch the spy, Mug and Mug will ambush them: it's a tough battle against two ogres, so the GM can send a squad of five Ratlings to help them if things look bad. The ratlings don't know Rokugani, but if communication can be established they reveal that they hate the goblins a lot. They can be enticed into joining the raid on the castle with weapons and armor. As they approach the castle, they find the "mysterious woman," a ronin shugenja called Masago. She truthfully reveals that she seeks something to help her escape an oni's curse: TN 25 Intelligence + Courtier roll to figure out she is a wanted criminal, kicked out of the Kitsu school for unspeakable experiments. She's not a maho-tsukai, though.

The castle! The goblin spy wasn't lying: most of the goblin defenses are on the front gate, because as goblins understand human bushido, no human would ever attack anywhere except the front gate. :v: Mug and Mug will be here if they didn't get whacked before. Going around the gate lets them face less goblins, but one of the fallen walls is protected by Big Stick, Ugu's lieutenant, and a horde of goblins including women and children. :stare: Fortunately they're not bright and just recklessly charge forward. The gate guards will not go to help their 'comrades' if they come under attack - orders are orders! The best thing characters can do is retreat while fighting inside the castle: the goblins won't pursue and they'll soon get distracted by a big feast to celebrate their "victory" (another chance for a surprise attack) The castle itself has been ruined by centuries of fighting, and the goblins have repurposed rooms as their lairs. The chamber of Lord Hiruma is where the Exalted Ugu lives (Masago will unwittingly raise the alarm here, if characters have managed to sneak their way perfectly in somehow) and he will cast a ritual to use the angry ghosts of Usagi Nedei and his beloved, who died right here, against the interlopers. Magic, silver, or human blood-stained weapons can harm the ghosts, but PCs can also try to roll Awareness + Sincerity to pacify them. Or the PCs can just beat up Ugu until he surrenders and calls them off. They'll still be haunting the Ancestral Sword of the Hare, however! Masago will wait for her chance to steal the blade, even if that means going all the way back to Usagi lands. The sword was cursed by the Blood Speakers, old enemies of the Hare: wielders add 10 to their Reflexes for Initiative rolls and no mundane missiles can harm them, but if facing a Blood Speaker at the end of the round they lose 5 Wounds, gained by the Blood Speaker.


And then they can go back to a happy ending... or not!

While the PCs are having fun in the Hiruma castle (or before, or after this happens, depending on what way the PCs take), a Scorpion army comes to siege the castle! First, though, the truth: Ozaki did steal the scroll. One day, while trying to score a good marriage for Tomoe, Ozaki learned that one of his retainers had gone off to a den of ill repute. Going there to meet him in disguise, Ozaki saw an old friend of his, Matsu Akira, in strange dealings with a dark-robed person. Ozaki collected his servant, Seiki, and followed the dark-robed man - a Scorpion known as Soshi Yukio, known enemy of Akira. Afraid that his friend was being blackmailed, Ozaki enlisted Tomoe's help: both started spying on the Scorpion and the Lion, only to learn that Akira gave Yukio "new orders" of some sort. They were spotted, fled, and ended up killing Yukio, recovering a scroll from his belongings. The scroll is coded, and Tomoe racks her head trying to decipher it.

Oda calls everyone to the main hall and tells them dark news: the Scorpions are coming. He sees no reason why the Scorpions should move against them, even if they've never been friends. Also, no one can leave the castle now, since the Scorpions are good at extracting secrets. Oda will not really ask the PCs for help, but he really wants it - they have to do the two-refusals gift-giving ritual to get Oda to accept their help. (PCs can actually turn coat and help the Scorpion deal with the Hare: they get 10 koku and lose 4 Honor Points, or 100 koku and 5 Honor Points loss for the scroll. Also word leaks out about how they befriended and betrayed the Usagi family!) The scroll is hidden in Tomoe's room in magic boxes that only she knows how to handle. As the first peasant refugees arrive during Day 2, Shosuro Rei rides to meet Oda: she sincerely (and apparently honestly) regrets the whole situation, but perhaps there could be a way to solve this... if pressed further, Rei says that Oda has given Bayushi Shoju an excuse to remove his clan by killing a vassal and stealing from him. Oda doesn't understand a thing, but if the PCs explain Rei is willing to negotiate with the Scorpion tactician, Bayushi Tomaru. If she recognizes them from earlier, she'll take them aside and threaten them with their forged papers. If they spill the beans, Rei reveals that the scroll is connected to whatever high-level treachery she is investigating, and that she'll try to stop Tomaru if the PCs can get her the scroll. If Ozaki is confronted about the scroll, he may reveal his part on it or not: he wants to save his family home, but he also believes in bushido, and at any rate he doesn't think the Scorpion will want to see justice done. If Tomoe is confronted, she'll deny her part while becoming convinced that the PCs are part of the same conspiracy as Yukio and Akira.

On the third day, Tomaru arrives with his troops. He rolls 6k2 for Battle as the general, and his forces double that of the Hares. Oda rolls 5k3 for Battle. After the traditional sending of heralds and such, Tomaru will let know that if the Hares send three champions to duel three of his lieutenants, he'll let twenty people go... while secretly mounting a sneak attack when everyone is busy with the duels. The PCs can volunteer as the Hare duelists, or not! Tomaru figures the Hare will lose face if they don't go or morale if they go and lose anyway. The duelists are average, and they really want a fair fight, mostly. They all carry poisoned blades though, cuz Scorpions. :ninja: At least none of them are save or die! The first battle lasts an hour: if Oda wins the contested roll and the Hare side gets two Heroic Deeds (victorious Duels or Heroic Opportunities from the Battle table rolls), they repel the sneak attack while the Scorpions drain the first moat. On the fourth day, the Hares have to win three Heroic Deeds and one Battle roll to fight off the Scorpions from the first palisade, or six Heroic Deeds if they only commit part of their forces; then it's three Heroic Deeds per hour to keep the Scorpions from filling the second moat. Remember that PCs can eat up to 6k6 Wounds from a bad Battle roll, and will be taking damage every Battle turn! :ohdear:

And it could be your guys inside!

Tomaru tries another attack on the western flank (2 Heroic Deeds, or 1 if the Hare wins the Battle roll) as cover for two ninja sent in from the other side. Their missions are to poison the castle well, kill Oda, and make off with the scroll. If all the heroes are involved in the battle, only the poisoning will succeed - at any rate, Tomoe will realize the stakes and reveal everything she knows to the PCs. She is contemplating just surrendering to the enemy to get the siege lifted. If the PCs are willing to copy the scroll and send it to proper authorities, she'll do so - only to be interrogated, tortured and executed by the Scorpions, if she is not rescued. At least this will lift the siege, though the Hare's position will be badly damaged. On the fifth day, if the ninja poisoned the well, the Hare lose all Battle rolls. Tomaru tries a dawn attack (successful Battle roll and two Heroic Deeds, or four Heroic Deeds to stop) and threatens to murder everyone in the castle, just as Tomoe breaks the code: instructions to kill the magistrate in Forest Shadow City and make it look like a suicide, while also talking about a "master" and their "work." If the sword is still missing, Oda takes the younger samurai and tells them of a secret passage they can use to escape the castle, taking the scroll with them. Day six: four Heroic Deeds with a successful Battle roll, or seven Deeds to keep the Scorpions out. This is basically impossible. (In canon, the Hare will fall.) If the castle is breached, the remaining Usagi will commit suicide: if by some miracle they hold out against all odds, Rei will return to Tomaru's camp, and have him retreat his forces. Rei will reveal that she has gotten Shoju to stop the assault, as long as the Hare agree to concessions: praising the Scorpion military at all times, returning the original scroll, and marrying Tomoe to the Scorpion Clan - maybe to Tomaru himself for the romantic factor. But, Rei is still an Emerald Magistrate, and she is also compelled by that duty to investigate the scroll. So she's going to make a copy for herself... but she could never ask third parties to make a copy for themselves and carry on their own investigation, wink wink nod nod. Rei might still find the PCs if the castle falls to convince the PCs to let her copy the scroll.

PCs get 5 XP and 2 Glory for retrieving the ancestral sword, 2 XP for saving some of the Hare (5 for saving the whole family), an extra Void Rank if a player deciphers the scroll (if the character does so, 2 XP) 2 XP for escaping with a copy of the scroll, 2 XP for preventing the Scorpion from getting it or a copy, 3 XP to be spent only on Void or Iaijutsu for fighting a duel, 2 Glory for winning one, and an extra XP for killing the most dangerous lieutenant of Tomaru's forces. A total 15-20 XP, basically.

As for the scroll, it is a Kolat scroll. Which we know nothing about at this point: the corebook only says that we'll learn the Kolat's origins in Way of the Crab and that we'll meet the Master in Way of the Lion. Dun dun dunnnnnnnnn!

The actual Kolat scroll. The code is decipherable, and AEG had a contest where people could mail in their answers.

The GM Pack ends with Hit Locations! There are two tables, one for random hits and one weighted for melee attacks from a right-handed attacker. Only they got both tables mixed :haw: When a hit is made, roll 2d10 and reference the table to see where you get. For an extra deadly game, you can say that taking Earth x 5 Wounds to the head or Earth x 10 to the torso is death no matter how many Wounds are left, while Earth x 3 for arms or Earth x 4 for legs means dismemberment. Fun stuff! You can also make some extra rolls to see if small areas like eyes, hands or ankles take damage, but that's about it.

Next: ice cream.

Jan 6, 2012


PurpleXVI posted:

I'm genuinely tempted to throw money at Invisible Sun just so I can be first in line to review it.

Please discourage me from this self-destructive plan.

You could always review the next Chris Field product.

Jan 6, 2012


Legend of the Five Rings First Edition

Way of the Dragon: Dragon Punches

Firearms aren't banned in Dragon lands, because Yokuni is bringing the GUN SHOW

Time for the first splatbook! And it has John Wick at the top of the credits! Along with David Williams, Rob Vaux, Cris Dornaus, Greg :swoon: Stolze and DJ Trindle. Also, "Sage Sensei Advice" by Tony Kull, and Wick in fact dedicates the book to him.


I've spent ten years of my life studying philosophy, learning how to think about life.
Tony taught me (and the rest of us) how to live it.
Thank you, sensei.

Sure, okay.

The book has four chapters and five Appendices, for some reason. :wtc: But first, fiction!

A woman meditates at a dojo. She is good enough to defeat her sensei in mock combat, but still seems to be in trouble: she has to finish a haiku before the sun sets and she is too disturbed and unbalanced. She remembers her dear brother, Satsu, and the stories he told her about the Kami Togashi and Shinsei. When Shinsei knocked Akodo off and proved he was more than just a little old man, Hantei and his siblings asked many questions of him, except Togashi who left for a forest, sat and decided he would not move until he 'understood.' He refused to eat or drink, and starved himself. Eventually Shinsei arrived, Togashi repeated that he would not move until he understood, and Shinsei simply replied 'Neither will I', which made everything click for Togashi and then he ate and drank and was happy. The woman remembers how his sweet brother was brutally killed by a Crab samurai, Hida Yakamo, in a duel. Where the Crab had used a loving tetsubo! In front of a court, to boot. The Crab was satisfied that the 'claims' of Satsu's wife were invalid, and only the little girl stood up to him, taking up his brother's blade. Yakamo smacked the sword she weakly held and lightly rested the tetsubo on her head; she spat on his face. He only chuckled and said that he wasn't going to kill her, but he could have. The woman is disturbed by the memory, she begs her brother for assistance, and finally pens her haiku just as the sun set. Her sensei and her father come in, they evaluate the poem, and declare that she passed her test. She takes a name: Hitomi!

She's probably not important to the metaplot or anything. :v:

So, the Dragon! They're mysterious and reclusive, and they want it that way. Because you cannot defeat what you can't understand, said Shinsei. Some warnings about how the book isn't the ultimate word on the Clan that would become boilerplate for the other clanbooks, a brief overview of the book, and we start!


For a thousand years, the Dragon have remained hidden behind their great walls atop their mighty mountains. Their secrets are only secrets to those who are unwilling to challenge the Great Climb.
I know a secret path up the mountain.
Are you ready?
Then, let's go.

Sure you do, John, sure you do. :allears:

We get more RPG FICTION on the Dragon Clan. Isawa Kaede, Phoenix Master of Void, recalls visiting the Dragon lands and not really understanding a thing since they were all cryptic and mysterious. She talked with one of their tattooed men, balancing on a high ledge looking down at the mountains below, who 'with a hint of sadness' tells her that she could never understand them. Not until she has gone where they have gone, but he can't tell her where they're going. Only show her. And then he just jumps off the ledge, laughing all the time, beckoning her to follow. A Lion samurai recalls how a Dragon acquaintance of his sensei asked him to show him his stance. He did, the Dragon told him to relax, then asked to see his stance again, and knocked him down so fast the Lion just noticed when he was down on the floor. Never show your enemy the same stance twice. All the same, the Dragon was sort of pleased, since he said he would warn his students about the Lion student. And in Kakita Ryoku's famed novel, Winter, the narrator tells how she met a Kitsuki magistrate, tried to engage him in polite conversation, and he stonewalled her with strange answers. The narrator decided never to invite a Dragon to her winter court ever again. :haw:

All the curry jokes have been made.

The Dragon aren't a Clan in the Rokugani sense, apparently. See, Togashi did not really establish a bloodline. The Togashi 'family' is in fact a monastic order founded by him a thousand years ago. Those who join the Togashi abandon their name and become the ise zumi, the Tattooed Men. The other two families of the clan, Agasha and Mirumoto, descend from the samurai that served Togashi until his death. Agasha was a highly skilled shugenja, and Mirumoto was Togashi's own yojimbo and founder of their two-sword style. The Kitsuki family is of much more recent founding, an offshoot of the Agasha. Togashi originally wanted to retire and seek enlightenment alone after the Kami fell, but Agasha and Mirumoto followed him, as well as many others that just knew they had to find something in Togashi's temple. It was Mirumoto who became the Dragon Clan's Thunder, one of the seven mortal heroes that faced Fu Leng. When he volunteered, no one questioned him. Agasha and Mirumoto's son, Yojiro, did a lot to build up the Clan after the Day of Thunder, and the families they founded built a close relationship. Mirumoto bushi are highly attuned to the Elements, and Agasha shugenja understand the basics of tactics and strategy.

Also, if any "truth" the book reveals is contradicted by another "truth", it is because the Dragon is a Clan of contradictions :ssh:

The Togashi mon, holding a plum blossom because a plum was the first thing Togashi ate after finishing his fast.

The Togashi! They have a secret. About two hundred years after the Empire was formed, the Scorpion daimyo of the era sent his own daughter to the mountains to spy on the Dragon. She returned seven years later with her hair completely white and a terrible secret: the Togashi daimyo was Togashi. As in, the original Togashi, the Kami himself. Who was very much still alive! Also, she was pregnant with his child, and could not stay with the Scorpion. :tviv: Ever since then, the Scorpion have a quiet contempt for the Togashi - they have held a gigantic secret for centuries, and cannot do anything about it. They hear about the rumors of a 'dragon man' in the mountains, think of Togashi's child, and wonder. The Togashi castle is shown in maps as being connected by road to the Kitsuki castle, but in truth the road hits a dead end like three miles in. There is no true path to the Togashi castle, only the one one makes. Also, the castle may or may not be partly in the spirit world, as there are many divergent accounts of its appearance - carved on the side of a mountain, located at the bottom of a ravine, and so on. The Togashi have little in the way of physical records of their history, since they don't believe in history in the first place - only living memory. Those who seek enlightenment must make their own way to the castle, take up their vows, and then kill their parents (leave behind everything that they know to be true), kill their teacher (go out into the world and find their own path), then kill the self (become completely selfless, living life one moment at the time) Wandering Dragon monks are known all over Rokugan, and tales of their mystical feats and magic tattoos are legendary. Wick says non-Togashi can get tattoos, but they cost around 22 CP (most of a chargen character's CP allotment) and they should have a good story to go along with it!

The Mirumoto mon. Dragon holding two swords, that's about it.

The Mirumoto are much more regimented than the Togashi. The family daimyo also acts as the clan daimyo most of the time, with only the Togashi daimyo having greater authority. This leaves the Togashi order time to seek illumination. The Mirumoto daimyo gets to keep stuff like taxes, so there's hardly reason to complain about this arrangement :v: The Dragon has an army of around 200,000 men, roughly average for one of the Clans. There is some talk about how the army is organized, and mention of how Glory ranks equal to army ranking: a Glory 1 character is a hohei (private), then it goes up to nikutai ('corporal', but the word means corporal as in 'corporal punishment', loving faux-Japanese) gunso (sergeant), chui (lieutenant), taisa (colonel), shireikan (commander) and rikugunshokan (general) Characters can end up in a command position, with all the responsibilities and perks that it implies. It's also possible for a character with less than adequate battlefield skills to end up with a command, though the Mirumoto prefer to put people with proven skills in such positions; appearance-minded people like the Crane have a lower-ranking "advisor" to these wonders to avoid disasters and because it is polite.

Mirumoto himself was a cunning tactician, and also a brilliant duelist. Also, kind of a bully and rear end in a top hat. The treatise his son wrote on his style, Niten, is studied all over Rokugan, but this doesn't mean his school is so respected. Many bushi still consider it the "coward's school." The story of the Mirumoto family, as the Dragon's main fighting force, has several great battles. In the Battle of the Sleeping River, the Dragon stood side by side with the Clans to fight Iuchiban and his Blood Speakers. The Battle of the Cherry Blossom Lake was a Lion-Scorpion battle that seemed like an easy victory for the former until the Dragon showed up as unexpected allies for the Scorpions - secretly, Togashi was repaying the Scorpion daimyo for his daughter. The Battle of Kyuden Tonbo happened because of the minor Dragonfly Clan, born from a Mirumoto samurai and an Isawa shugenja. The Isawa's spurned lover, an Akodo, sent his forces against the fledgling Clan, but Dragon and Phoenix armies appeared and made it clear that the Lion would not be able to touch the Dragonfly. The Akodo did not forget the slight, and at the Battle of the Great Climb he sieged the Dragon fortresses while carefully skirting around Dragonfly lands. The Dragons held, but ultimately they surrendered, and the Akodo demanded a duel against the Dragonfly daimyo, who accepted and fell without even drawing his sword. Then the Akodo reached too far and declared himself ruler of the Dragonfly, but the fallen samurai's son demanded a rematch duel and killed him instead, and that's why the Lion hates the Dragonfly's guts. The Battle of Kenson Gakka, where the Lion took a Scorpion stronghold and killed everyone down to the last woman and child, was a reverse of Cherry Blossom Lake: the Dragon turned up as Lion allies. The Dragon general mysteriously died a couple of weeks later. :ninja: Finally, in the Battle of White Stag, the Dragon and the other Clans stood against a gaijin invading force armed with rifles and cannons. Ever since then, firearms have been forbidden in Rokugan, but gunpowder is here to stay, to produce spectacular fireworks and the odd mysterious explosion now and then. Mirumoto training starts at a young age, and their gempukku ceremony involves writing a spontaneous haiku based on Shinsei's famous response to Togashi, "Neither will I." The family daimyo is Mirumoto Hitomi, more on her later.

We then get some excerpts of Niten!

Apparently this stance is powerful enough that if enemies know "the Way" they will instantly surrender. Seriously.


I have spent many years on the road, and I have fought forty-seven duels, and I have never lost. This is because I employ a technique that has no anchors to tradition. I employ a technique that teaches movement rather than memorization. My school is called niten, for I use both of my swords, not just the katana. Those who ask why do not understand my thinking. They will attempt to build a house with nails but no hammer...


When the enemy charges us with urgency and strength, let him go by.
A sidestep is quicker than a charge, and puts you in a position where negotiation means nothing.


Many schools teach a "secret stepping technique." I have no such technique. It is as I have said, in my school, all movement is natural.


When you engage the enemy, there are three alternatives.
If he attacks first, kill him.
If you attack first, kill him.
If you attack at once, kill him.

So basically, Mirumoto and his son were low-rent Miyamoto Musashi.

The Agasha mon, dragon holding a pomegranate, since you open it and INFINITE POSSIBILITIES also pretty good on a hot day

The Agasha! They're the most "traditional" family, as noted earlier. Agasha herself was devoted to observing and recording the natural world, and her journal expressed her love of nature with vivid descriptions and detailed sketches of plants and animals. They also included mysterious symbols that some thought to be stylized representations of her subjects, or some sort of grand code, or the spirits of the flora and fauna. Hundreds of years later, a shugenja discovered a secret code hidden in the post of the original scroll. Agasha's marks were symbols for certain elements of the plants and animals. Every thing in nature was a "little hidden puzzle," and thus Agasha's code is known as the Nazo Bubun no Agasha (Puzzle Pieces of Agasha) So basically, she figured out fuckin' chemistry! The Agasha school has dedicated itself to studying these natural puzzles, and they have made great advances in metallurgy (they invented steel, but apparently Scorpion spies stole their secret and gave it to all other clans) as well as agriculture, and potentially genetic experimentation since there are rumors of chimeric animals roaming the Dragon mountains. In short, they're :science: as gently caress. Their individual schools are called "Foundries" due to their early metallurgy experiments.

The Kitsuki mon. Dragon holding a lightning bolt that looks like a maze for reasons. Illuminate the darkness, bring justice, etc.

The Kitsuki! They come from a shugenja called Agasha Kitsuki. He had little interest for shugenja metaphysics, but was very interested in people. The human mind was the puzzle he wanted to solve, and he studied with tricksters and magicians, something his teachers decried as "peasant magic." Eventually, his sensei told him after repeated offenses to shape up or be expelled... but next morning he was found dead in his room with Kitsuki's wakizashi. Twenty-four hours later, Kitsuki had found the real guilty party, with evidence and a confession. Kitsuki grew to be respected as a magistrate, and eventually granted permission to found his own samurai family. The Kitsuki are very trusted by the Mirumoto because of their keen insight to solve crimes and stop Scorpion and Crane plots. They are not as accomplished courtiers as they are, but instead have an uncanny ability to cut through lies and find the truth. The Crab and Unicorn Clans respect them for this, while the other Clans keep them at a distance for the same reason. Since the Rokugani justice system prizes confessions and ignores hard evidence, many times the Kitsuki end up facing accusations from high-ranked people that they find to be involved in dastardly plots. Also, they are on the trail of the ninja, and while the ninja are killing Kitsuki who get too close to them, others pick up where they left and keep finding more clues! Also there's a friendly rivalry between Agasha and Kitsuki, and the former call the latter "little brother/sister" because that totally doesn't get annoying.


Jan 6, 2012


Legend of the Five Rings First Edition

Way of the Dragon: I thought it was Buddha Fire

It's time for new character options! In true and proper '90s fashion, we get new skills in the clanbooks. Ichi Miru is a Kitsuki-only skill and it's basically cold reading, Sherlock Holmes style. A High skill! Mountaineer is climbing mountains, surviving in them, and all that jazz. High or Low, depending if you're samurai or heimin/hinin. Nazodo is a Dragon-only High skill that works the same as Investigation, but can also be used for puzzles, riddles and logic games, as well as figuring out portents and omens. Kagaku is an Agasha/Kitsuki High skill and it's basically chemistry. Craft: Tattooing is self-explanatory, while Craft: Mitsugusuri (well, mizugusuri) is the art of making magical potions. Both of those are Merchant skills, like all other Crafts.

Craft: Boy Band Pose.

Advantages! Elemental Attunement is only for Mirumoto bushi, and lets them make an Awareness roll to detect magic in an area. Noble Birth is a monk-only advantage that lets the monk keep their samurai status, since by default monks are lower on the totem pole. Disadvantages! Ascetic means that the character cares little about worldly possessions, so for instance a bushi only has their swords, one kimono, one pair of sandals and one obi (no armor?) Also they don't care about Glory. Enlightened Madness is also only for monks, and makes it so that when they activate one of their tattoos, they have to make a Willpower roll (TN depending on how many points the disadvantage is worth) or lose all control of their actions until the next day. Yikes. Vanity is a 1-point disadvantage that makes you be, well, vain.

The Kitsuki family (+1 Awareness) teaches the Kitsuki Magistrate school. +1 Perception, 2.5 Honor, starting skills are Courtier, History, Nazodo, Law, Heraldry, Poison or Herbalism, and any Lore.

  • Rank 1: the magistrate may spend as many Void Points as they want in Perception or Awareness rolls.
  • Rank 2: the magistrate gets as many Free Raises in Perception or Awareness rolls as their school rank.
  • Rank 3: the magistrate always succeeds at basic Heraldry, Nazodo, Law or History rolls. They have to actually roll the dice and risk failure if they want to make Raises.
  • Rank 4: if the magistrate faces a samurai using a School Technique they have already seen before, the opponent must spend an extra Void Point to use it.
  • Rank 5: the magistrate cannot be lied to. People with less Awareness simply cannot bring themselves to do it, while those of equal or higher Awareness can try but the magistrate will always know if they are not telling the truth.

I like the Kitsuki magistrates. They should be able to break any intrigue plot in half, but Rokugan's social need to save face and maintain appearances means they can't just dump evidence in a court and save the day. They have to be sneakier about things, especially considering they are not particularly good fighters. Their Rank 4 is cool, but it is Rank 4.

The Ise Zumi Tattooed Monks must belong to the Togashi family. +1 Void, 1.5 Honor. Their skills are Nazodo, Shintao, Meditation, Hand-to-Hand, Craft, and any two other skills. At Rank 1, the ise zumi gains a tattoo, and they can buy another two at chargen for 8 CP each. A monk may only have as many tattoos as their Void rank. Tattoos have effects and costs, which sometimes are only paid when the tattoo is triggered and sometimes are permanent penalties. With GM's permission, a monk may make a TN 15 Willpower + Meditation roll to 'turn off' a tattoo. There are sidebars full of pithy pseudo-Zen quotes for ise zumi PCs to mouth off, like "Fear is afraid of laughter" and "Suspect all men are liars and that it will rain tomorrow." Women can also become ise zumi: the more ascetic factions of the order don't like this, but it was an order from Togashi Yokuni himself so they can't really go against it. The monks that actually go out into the world see no problem with this. :colbert:

The tattoos!
  • Arrowroot: the monk may heal School Rank's worth of Wound Levels on themselves or others. Cost: the monk takes half as many Wounds as the ones they are healing if using the power on someone else. This damage cannot be healed magically.
  • Bamboo: the monk boosts Stamina a number of ranks equal to their School Rank for that many rounds. Cost: when active, the monk's Agility cannot exceed their School Rank.
  • Bat: as Bamboo, but the monk boosts Reflexes. This explicitly does not raise their TN to be hit. Cost: as Bamboo, but Strength is the penalized Trait.
  • Bellflower: the monk may substitute their Void Rank for any other trait for (School Rank) rounds. Cost: when active, any spell targeting the monk gets their Void in Free Raises.
  • Butterfly: the monk adds their School Rank to Awareness for the rest of the day. Cost: when active, the monk automatically fails any Earth, Stamina or Willpower roll.
  • Centipede: the monk can run to anywhere in Rokugan in 12 hours, no more and no less. Contested Reflexes vs Reflexes + School Rank for anyone trying to stop the monk. Cost: after arriving, the monk must rest for (6-School Rank) days.
  • Chameleon: the monk can alter their appearance to imitate anyone they have met, Willpower + School Rank against a TN depending on how familiar they are with the person. The voice does not change. Cost: when transformed, the monk cannot use more Void Points than their School Rank.
  • Cherry Blossom: the monk gains a number of points equal to their Honor that can be used as Void Points. They last until sundown, the tattoo cannot be used between sunset and sunrise. Cost: when active, all Honor losses from dishonorable acts are doubled.
  • Cloud: the monk can commune with a number of spirits per day equal to their Rank. The spirits can be ancestral, elemental, or animal. The monk gets their Rank's worth of questions for each spirit. Cost: all Awareness rolls have their TN raised in 5.
  • Crab: the monk absorbs a number of Wounds per hit equal to their Earth x 2. Cost: the monk suffers a -1 penalty to Reflexes when the power of the tattoo is invoked for the duration of the effect. This does not affect the TN to be hit.
  • Crane: the monk gains the Luck advantage (reroll one failed roll per session). Each School Rank gives them an additional Rank in Luck. Also, the monk never ages, and once per story they can tank a hit that would kill them and end up with a single Wound left. Cost: all XP costs are doubled.
  • Crow: the monk can invoke this tattoo to become immune to the Shadowlands Taint for a number of days equal to their School Rank. Cost: Tainted creatures can smell the monk from a mile away, gain an additional die in Perception rolls to spot the monk equal to their School Rank and will generally single out the monk for attack.
  • Chrysanthemum: the monk heals their School Rank in Wounds per hour under the sun. Cost: the monk does not heal at all when the sun is down.
  • Dragon: the monk breathes fire! Attack roll is Fire + School Rank, DR is School Rank + Fire. Can hit their School Rank's worth of foes, and armor does not protect against it. Cost: it can only be used a number of times per day equal to the School Rank, and after using it the monk must rest 10-Rank minutes. They are considered to be at the Down Wound Level.
  • Dragonfly: the monk can activate this tattoo to add their School Rank to Reflexes for purposes of calculating their TN to be hit. The monk can do this as many times per day as their School Rank, and the effect lasts that many rounds. Cost: the monk must spend a Void Point to sit down or focus on something for more than ten minutes.
  • Falcon: the monk is immune to Fear effects and may add their School Rank to Honor when making Honor Tests. Cost: all Honor losses from disservice to the monk's lord are doubled.
  • Lion: the monk adds their School Rank as dice to all Bugei skill rolls. Cost: the monk cannot resist battle - it doesn't mean that the monk goes around picking fights, but when poo poo goes up the monk happily joins the fray.

A cool monk to break the wall of text.

  • Monkey: all Stealth, Sleight of Hand or similar Skills get additional dice equal to School Rank, and the monk may add their Rank to their Agility for leaping or climbing actions. Cost: the monk may not keep a number of dice greater than their School Rank when trying to be charming or personable.
  • Crescent Moon: the monk may become a shadow, moving through floors and walls. This transformation needs to happen in a place with natural shadow. Takes 1 Void Point, lasts for a number of hours equal to their School Rank. Cost: For every hour of transformation, the monk takes 6 Wounds.
  • Full Moon: the monk may cancel a number of Raises equal to their School Rank, that same number of times per day. Cost: during daylight, the monk cannot make Raises.
  • Mountain: the monk adds their School Rank to their Earth (and Stamina and Willpower) for School Rank x 2 Rounds. Cost: when active, the monk's Air drops to 1.
  • Nightingale: once per day per School Rank, the monk may heal all of their Wounds. Cost: it takes one Void Point and one XP to activate the tattoo.
  • Ocean: the monk does not need to sleep, eat or drink, and may refresh their Void Points a number of times per day equal to their School Rank. Cost: every time they try to refresh their Void Points, Willpower test against 5 x number of times the tattoo has been activated, if they fail they may not move or talk for the rest of the day.
  • Phoenix: the monk gets their School Rank's worth of Raises per day to use on spells targeting them, either as Free Raises or increases in the casting TN. Cost: the monk may only defend in combat situations, never initiate attacks.
  • Pine: the monk may ignore wound penalties up to their School Rank. At Rank 5, they ignore Down and Out. Cost: the monk's Strength cannot exceed their School Rank.
  • Scorpion: other characters facing the monk must use their lowest Trait for all rolls. Cost: no one trusts the monk. Scorpions! :v:
  • Spider: the monk's touch becomes poisonous, dealing (School Rank)k1 damage on touch in addition to any hand to hand strike damage. Cost: the power is always active, the monk must spend a Void Point to turn it off for an hour.
  • Sun: the tattoo can only be used during the day, it gives School Rank's worth of Free Raises for multiple rolls. Cost: the monk may not Raise during the night.
  • Tiger: the monk keeps extra dice in unarmed combat equal to their School Rank. Effect lasts (School Rank) rounds and can be activated (School Rank) times per day. Cost: the monk goes all feral when the tattoo is activated, cannot talk or hold anything in their now claw-like hands.
  • Tortoise: the monk may substitute their School Rank for any skill. Cost: every time the monk uses this power, Willpower roll against a TN of 5 x number of times the tattoo is used per day. Failure means the monk is haunted by a "spiritual advisor" It takes three Void Points to send the haunting away.
  • Unicorn: the monk can reroll rolls per day equal to their School Rank. Cost: every time this power is used, the GM rolls a die in secret. On a 10, one future roll will automatically fail, after the monk rolls.
  • Wasp: the monk gains (School Rank) extra actions per round, can be used (School Rank) times per day. Cost: the monk may not use Void Points when the tattoo is active.
  • White Mask: the monk's mind cannot be read and their emotions cannot be discerned. They don't have them, in fact. Cost: Awareness is fixed to 1.

So yeah, lots of poo poo going on here. Monks are wack. That's what you get when the ink for your tattoos is partly Togashi's own blood.

Then there's the infamous Heritage Tables, where you can spend a single CP for the chance to ending up a True Ronin with even worse gear than what chargen True Ronin get. I hope you didn't actually want to play a Dragon Clan character when you rolled on the Dragon heritage tables! Some stuff is still kinda cool to get: one of your ancestors might have fought at White Stag, which gets you a major Ally in a Clan of your choice and "Lore: Gunpowder" Or you could go to the Fortune Table, and for 4 CP straight up be the son of a daimyo, or a cousin of the Imperial Line with attendant gains in full Glory ranks. Or a failed ise zumi (can buy tattoos for 8 points, must spend a Void Point to use it), or go full Ginawa by rolling a Path of Blood against ninja, or another Clan of your choice (Free Raise when facing your foe) Dragons don't get a bad Fortune table like other clans, for some reason.

Ancestors are special advantages (or disadvantages as the case may be) You buy them at character generation only. This means you have a special kharmic tie to the ancestor. The original Mirumoto, the man, the legend, the jerk, costs a whopping 15 points and is solely for Mirumoto bushi characters, but grants access to the immediately superior Mirumoto school technique. So a starter character is already slinging 2 attacks per round :aaa: Mirumoto Kaijuko was the first woman to become daimyo of the Mirumoto family, and she dueled and killed her uncle for the right to the position. Characters will never marry (even if they try) but gain an additional die to roll and keep in Courtier or Seduction rolls. Mirumoto Tokeru has a bizarre story where he was first called Omosa ("heavy") because apparently there is a tradition that during childbirth the father puts on a fake belly and cries as if giving birth to distract any spirits that may get close to the mother and he almost killed his mother when being born. Anyway, he purposefully lost a duel to his brother and superior that challenged him because the brother's wife totally had the hots for him, and so characters that get him as ancestor always succeed at Honor rolls when duty to their lord is in question. Agasha Nodotai was a shugenja/warrior that was killed protecting the Emperor's Lion general during White Stag - had he been a foot to the left the general would have eaten a rifle shot to the face. Characters get to move one position in the Battle table. Agasha Kitsuki founded the Kitsuki family and school, and he died in a Scorpion plot trying to recover important documents that turned to be false, and poisoned. Characters can spend a Void point to completely negate effects of poison. Agasha herself gives characters a Free Raise when casting a spell, 8 points though.

"Man, that better not be a dickbutt tattoo. I have enough of those."

Next: NPCs, from the ordinary to the Wick.


Jan 6, 2012


Legend of the Five Rings First Edition

Way of the Dragon: Of course he would

Togashi Mitsu! He tells little kids to wash their teeth before bed.

Time for Important NPCs! Of course. They sometimes have Insight too low to actually achieve their school ranks, but oh well! The first one is Togashi Mitsu, who I like because he was the first character I ever learned about when I first came into contact with L5R. He is the most famous of the ise zumi, a guy full of wanderlust that pretty much took off as soon as he got his first tattoos. He's spent his life in adventure, doing everything from catching Scorpions trying to blackmail honest daimyo to helping them blackmail dishonorable ones, chasing off ogres from small villages, and jumping off mountains (he was the guy that spooked Isawa Kaede at the beginning of the book) He likes people who are of noble nature rather than just birth, is friendly to peasants, and his flame breath is legendary. Still, he is not just some lolrandom kender, he considers the outcome of everything he does and he is a truly wise monk. His main interest these days is finding out what goes on beyond Rokugan, and has questioned Unicorn scouts about it, but his vows and duties keep him from leaving Rokugan. He is a Rank 3 Togashi monk with the Centipede, Crow, Monkey, Dragon and Tiger tattoos, strong but definitely within PC levels of power. A Cool Dude.


Togashi Yama is also on the PC side of things, though less interesting. His deal is that he is an Agasha shugenja that transferred to the Togashi looking to become a tattooed monk, but is having serious misgivings about the whole thing. He feels the weight of expectations bearing on him, since he is basically a genius with his mastery of Earth that has made great improvements to the Togashi castle, but growing up listening to the tales of Togashi Mitsu's exploits makes him question his own abilities. He continues delaying his induction ceremony, hoping his destiny becomes clear. He doesn't have a Great Destiny, though :ohdear: Rank 3 Agasha, but somehow he only has the three basic spells plus Transform, the secret Agasha basic spell.

The Togashi, not bringing the gunshow for once

Togashi Yokuni is on the far end of the power scale, though. Being that he is the Togashi, as well as a loving dragon. Because he is, shut up. He changes name every fifty years, giving the outside world the impression that the clan is ruled by a succession of daimyo. He carries the same blades forged for him by Agasha all those centuries ago. Hantei ordered him to "watch" the Empire, and that is what Togashi does: he meticulously chronicles everything, in a gigantic record that covers everything from the birth of a sparrow to the death of an Emperor, and somehow he has never been seen actually working on it. He only intervenes directly when the fate of the Empire is in the balance. He is the first dragon to take physical form, and though he has lost his mortality he has gained a much greater sense of understanding of the world than the other dragons, tied to their elemental natures. The only luxury that he has allowed himself is having a son, Togashi Hoshi. Togashi's stats are Win: YES, so like, don't even think of fighting him. He appears as a muscular man clad in Dragon armor, his face always hidden by the helmet, and no one ever remembers his voice - only what he says, which disturbs people. Which is what he likes, anyway.

The best dickbutts in the whole Empire, crafted personally for your skin.

Togashi Gaijutsu is the most skilled tattoo master of the Clan. He was born blind and under a bad sign, but Togashi intervened by showing up at his crib, cutting his palm and feeding him some of his blood. Gaijutsu grew to have an uncanny ability to draw and paint, and his magic tattoos are so powerful that only the bravest and strongest can withstand them. He always looks as if he were actually looking at something, and he just says that his works bring out something that was already there, even though he has never really seen them or his clients. He is not really known outside of the people he works on. Not much of a fighter, but he is a Rank 5 Togashi and has any six tattoos at any time, and only needs an action and a Void Point to change any tattoo from his list.

Hoshi does what Yokuni don't. Which is mostly "actually leaving the mountains without majorly loving with destiny"

Togashi Hoshi is Togashi's son with a Scorpion shugenja/spy. He is half man, half dragon. Yokuni uses him as a link to the outside world, observing important events and delivering messages to specific people at specific times. Sometimes he stays at the castle for centuries, sometimes just for years. He never ventures beyond the mountains without disguising his real form. He is fascinated by humanity, mercurial and with such a short lifespan. Only a handful of people know about him, counting Yokuni, a few monks and the highest Bayushi. Even the Scorpions would pale if they knew just how many secrets he has figured out, however. There are stories of people being saved by a "nature spirit", but they're probably peasant superstition. Like ninja, really. Hoshi is a Mirumoto 5 bushi with all Rings at 7 and knows pretty much all skills that aren't on his sheet at at least 1. He also hits with 7k4 barehanded, instead of the basic 0k1, cuz dragon. The only power that he hasn't inherited from his father is spells, because he can't use any magic at all, but really he's just going to trounce a party if they get in his way.

The gently caress did you say about his wispy 'stache!?

Mirumoto Daini is Hitomi's younger brother. He is handsome and knows it, and prefers the court to the battlefield. Growing up in the shadow of Hitomi and Satsu, he had to find some place to shine of his own, and that was court. He is the main Mirumoto representative in the Imperial court, and is fascinated with Akodo Toturi, the Lion Champion; he is also falling for Toturi's student, Ikoma Tsanuri. He has acquitted himself in a couple of duels, but he has never seen real combat. He is a Rank 3 Mirumoto bushi and there isn't much else going for him, he's a vain samurai looking to prove himself.

Like she hasn't planned how to cut you up six ways to Sunday.

Mirumoto Hitomi is, spoilers, one of the major figures of the original metaplot. She is technically the Mirumoto daimyo, but most outsiders would think Daini has that role. Her appearances are sporadic, enough to make the courtiers call her "Togashi Hitomi" behind her back. Her sole objective is to avenge his brother's death at the hands of Hida Yakamo. Ever since her mother died of ill health and her father seppuku'd, she has sworn that the last thing Yakamo will see is her blade through his belly. Yokuni has taken a special interest in her, granting her a special tattoo. Outside of this, she is super melodramatic and pained and anguished because of her loss. As Wick puts it:


If Hitomi seems two-dimensional, it's because she is single-minded. Anything and anyone that isn't a part of her destiny is in the way of it. She has no problem with cutting down those who stand in her way.

So, she's a very vengeful lady! Of the Dragon Clan. You could say that she is a vengeful Dragon Lady. :sigh:

wick why u do dis

She is a Mirumoto Rank 3 bushi, with high combat skills but not completely out of bounds. Her special tattoo gives Hitomi her School Rank's worth of extra Void Points: she can only spend one of them at a time but this is in addition to her natural Void, so she can basically spend two Void per turn. Nifty!

Kinda smug but hey, he's the ranking Mirumoto that actually has his poo poo together.

Mirumoto Sukune is uncle to both Daini and Hitomi, and the one actually running the family and the clan. He used to be the main military commander of the family when his brother, the former Mirumoto daimyo lived, and now balances that with actual civilian administration. He is the best known and most approachable Dragon for those that have regular dealings with them, because he moves a lot to work on trade deals, soothe unhappy magistrates, and doing all sorts of practical work. He actually likes it, and doesn't begrudge Hitomi or Daini for loving off to do their own thing, young people are young and all that jazz. He is a Rank 4 "Togashi" (should say Mirumoto) bushi with a very high archery score - it is his personal passion, and he regularly attends the archery championship held by the Wasp Clan.

"They're waiting for you, Ginawa-san. In the TEST CHAMBER."

Agasha Tamori is the current Agasha daimyo. He keeps the library and journal of the first Agasha, and maintains the great family libraries as well as Togashi's Chronicle of Rokugan. He is fascinated by the elements and how they combine into earthly forms, and is generally a :science: dude that actually grows more spiritual the more he learns about the world. He does not like conversation and sometimes pretend to be offended by a talkative host's probing questions just to get them to shut up. :v: He trusts character rather than position, but understands Rokugan's rules.

JUSTICE is a huge sword and a guy with middling skill with it.

Kitsuki Yasu is the Kitsuki daimyo. He is obsessed with catching the Scorpion, as evidence pointed to their involvement in the death of the previous Kitsuki daimyo. Nothing came of that, and his unfortunate public outburst against Bayushi Kachiko hasn't helped matters. He is a brilliant magistrate, but brash. He is obsessed with justice and pays little attention to etiquette. He has been challenged to duels for his judgments, and so far has killed all of his challengers. Last time that happened it involved a Lion of no small repute, which didn't please Akodo Toturi much. He is a tall, willowy guy that likes to loom over criminals and carry a huge no-dachi. Rank 5 Kitsuki, with good investigative skills but only 2 in Kenjutsu and no Iaijutsu (he must've dueled some really lovely people to survive seven duels) and a medallion that gives him (School Rank) points in any Lore skill as long as he wears it.

Sample Characters! Oh, of course.

Pictured: Tattooed Man. Not pictured: Tattooed Man's Tattooed Butt.

The Tattooed Man went up to the mountains and is now going into the WORLD OF DIVERSION. Jovial, not dour, always answering questions with questions and with no interest in physical rewards or gifts. No Ascetic disadvantage, though. :v: And for some reason he has Unlucky at -6, so the GM can force him to reroll successful rolls twice in a session. Hope that joy sticks!

Advantage: Sweet Hat.

The Kitsuki Magistrate is sickly and was treated by shugenja growing up, but he managed to join the Kitsuki school and graduate. Now they have a Mirumoto duelist as a yojimbo, and life is good except that actually moving around is super lovely and has them coughing up blood at night and poo poo. But at least their observation skills are good! Instead of Bad Health they have Small as their physical disadvantage, for some reason.

Check out my sweet daisho tech--- A-A W-WOMAN :derp: :barf:

The Mirumoto Duelist is a hardass warrior and amazing duelist and yojimbo. But he can't even look at women without getting the heaves. No, seriously. He has express forbiddance to speak in court, and now works as a yojimbo for a diplomat that can't fight. Generally a high combat skills, low social skills type of character, so in a Wick game he would be hosed more than usual.

"This time, I am NOT turning your blade into a dragon dildo."

The Agasha Shugenja left school with a letter of recommendation from Agasha Tamori himself, on the way to become a respected magistrate! But ended up working for a minor daimyo. But things are looking up! Except that everything has a way of turning out terrible. But things will look up! Just ignore the Unluck -6 Disadvantage.

The secret is that everyone is controlled by pasty nerds from another dimension, and only he realizes it.

The Mad Tattooed Man took his tattoos, but something went wrong. VERY wrong. He's nuts, and on the run, and has a secret, a BIG secret - but one he can't really say. But people don't know the secret, so he laughs! This is totally a character that will play well in a party. The strongest form of Enlightened Madness, and Spider, Scorpion and Dragon tattoos. This one does have Ascetic.


You're mad. You've got Togashi's blood burning inside of you, and there's nothing you can do about it.
Until they find you.
And when they do, they'll kill you.
They've got to find you, first.

It's Bad Form to rip off from Watership Down, Mr. Wick. :colbert:

Next: dragon smug.

Traveller fucked around with this message at 01:00 on Aug 17, 2016

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