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Credits

GAME DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT Max Brooke and Katrina Ostrander

ADDITIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Marie Brennan, Daniel Lovat Clark, Robert Denton III, Sean Holland, D.G. Laderoute, Jason Marker, Annie VanderMeer Mitsoda,
Mari Murdock, Neall Raemon Price, Gareth-Michael Skarka, Ree Soesbee, and Thomas Willoughby

EDITING Christine Crabb

PROOFREADING Dixie Cochran, Tim Cox, Tim Huckelbery,


Dave Johnson, and Brandon Perdue

RPG MANAGER Sam Stewart

GRAPHIC DESIGN Michael Silsby with Chris Beck

GRAPHIC DESIGN MANAGER Christopher Hosch

FRONT COVER ART Shawn Ignatius Tan

BACK COVER ART Alayna Lemmer

INTERIOR ART
Sheila Amajida, Sabbas Apterus, Steve Argyle, Soshi Aoi, Drew Baker, Lukas Banas, Sergio Camarena Bernabeu, Mauro Dal Bo, Cassandre Bolan,
Hannah Boving, Caravan Studios, Billy Christian, Calvin Chua, Senfeng Chen, Leanna Crossan, Carlos Palma Cruchaga, John Donahue, Jason Engle,
Shen Fei, Alexander Forssberg, Tony Foti, Felipe Gaona, Kevin Zamir Goeke, Lin Hsiang, Aurlien Hubert, Amélie Hutt, Giby Joseph, B.D. Judkins,
Daria Khlebnikova, MuYoung Kim, Pavel Kolomeyets, Olly Lawson, Diego Gisbert Llorens, Antonio Jos Manzanedo, Diana Martinez, Joyce Maureira,
Immar Palomera, Borja Pindado, Polar Engine, Oscar Romer, Eli Ring, Fajareka Setiawan, Yudong Shen, Adam Schumpert, Kim Sokol, Kathryn Steele,
Filip Storch, Darren Tan, Shawn Ignatius Tan, Wisnu Tan, Tropa Entertainment, Pavel Tomashevskiy, Magali Villeneuve, Le Vuong, and Scott Wade
ART DIRECTION Crystal Chang and Andy Christensen

MANAGING ART DIRECTOR Melissa Shetler

QUALITY ASSURANCE COORDINATOR Zach Tewalthomas

PRODUCTION MANAGEMENT Jason Beaudoin and Megan Duehn

VISUAL CREATIVE DIRECTOR Brian Schomburg

SENIOR PROJECT MANAGER John Franz-Wichlacz

SENIOR MANAGER OF PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT Chris Gerber

EXECUTIVE GAME DESIGNER Corey Konieczka

PUBLISHER Andrew Navaro

PLAYTESTERS
Ed Allen, Charles Andrew Bates, Will Bebout, Jeff Beck, Steven Belcher, Blake Bennett, Michael Bernabo, Craig Bishell, John Bradford,
Simon Butler, Dave Cain, Amanda Capar, Gene Capar, Paul Casagrande, Hwan-yi Choo, Lachlan Conley, Sean Connor,
Nick Corlett, Sean Corley, Rebecca Corner, Kenneth Cromack, Erik Dahlman, Kaitlin Davies, Sam Davies, Sydney Delp, Jordan Dixon,
Chris Doyscher, Emeric Dwyer, Chris Eckes, Andrew Fischer, Martin Flanagan, Corey Fox, Ryan Fox, Benjamin Fribley, James Gibson, Erin Golden,
Matthew Harkrader, Laura Heilman, Alyc Helms, Ian Houlihan, Bill Hrenchuk, Michael Hurrel, Jesse Huston, Brandon Jackson, Fred Janney,
Lawrence Keohane, Jon King, Keesjan Kleef, Jackie Laderoute, Skyler Latshaw, Chris Lavin, Michael Lawrence, Jamie Lewis, Adrienne Lipoma,
Michael Lori, David Lowe, Thom Lynch, Tristan Maclaurin, George Maney, Pim Mauve, Mark McLaughlin, Branislav Micko, Jamie Morgan,
Arwen McNierney, James McNierney, Ryan Miner, Steve Mumford, Russell Needham, Jeff Neppl, Annete Nepomucenoi, Kyle Niedzwieck,
Joanna Olsen, Mercedes Opheim, Tom Ornsby, Ciaran O’Sullivan, Sebastien Pacetti, Stacey Peterson, Stephen Pitson, John Pope, Alex Porter,
Philip Quine, Rome Reginelli, Wilson Richardson, Jeff Rubinoff, Alan Russel, Rico Saucedo, Tim Schulz, Valerie Scott, Wendy Shaffer, Katie Shannon,
Emily Sheriff, Jody Simpson, Peter Smigelski, James Spell, Ryan Stevens, Max Stringer, Nathan Stringer, Daniel Tickle,
Jacob Tighe, Regine Mualla Tighe, Matt Tyler, Nicholas Vale, David Vetrovec, Jan-Cees Voogd, Joris Voogd, Kris Weavill,
Aiden Wells, James White, Aric Wieder, Dawn Wildfong, M. Dameion Willis, Stefanie Wiltse, Andrew Wolf, and Aaron Wong

Special thanks to Nikki Arcand, Kory Hook, Josh M. Lease, Ryan Lee, Tyler Parrott, Costya Perepelitsa, Jim Quam, and Chris Weinberg

Original Legend of the Five Rings game and property created and designed by John Wick and David Williams.

FANTASY Fantasy Flight Games


1995 West County Road B2
FLIGHT Roseville, MN 55113
GAMES USA

© 2018 Fantasy Flight Games. Legend of the Five Rings, the L5R logo, and the white FFG logo are trademarks of Fantasy Flight
Games. Fantasy Flight Games and the FFG logo are registered trademarks of Fantasy Flight Games.

ISBN: 978-1-63344-340-2 Product Code: L5R02 Printed in China

For more information about the world of Rokugan and Legend of the Five Rings, visit us online at
www.FantasyFlightGames.com/en/Legend-of-the-Five-Rings-Roleplaying-Game
Table of Contents

6 INTRODUCTION 171 CHAPTER 4:


Techniques
6 The World of Rokugan
9 Samurai and Society 172 What are Techniques?
10 The Celestial Order 174 Kata
12 A Samurai’s Life 182 Kihō
14 The Land of Ten Thousand Fortunes 189 Invocations
16 The Great Clans 212 Rituals
18 The Minor Clans 214 Shūji
224 Mahō
20 CHAPTER 1: 226 Ninjitsu
Playing the Game
228 CHAPTER 5:
20 Goals of the Game Equipment
21 Custom Dice
22 Making a Check 229 Samurai and Money
26 Additional Rules for Checks 230 Weapons
28 Using Opportunity 238 Armor
29 Using Strife 240 Item Qualities
32 The Character 242 Personal Effects
35 Skill Ranks
37 Honor, Glory, and Status 246 CHAPTER 6:
Scenes and Conflicts
38 Ninjō, Giri, and Complications
246 Game Sessions
40 CHAPTER 2: 247 Scenes
Creating a Character 247 Narrative Scenes
41 The Game of Twenty Questions 248 Downtime Scenes
41 Part I: Core Identity (Clan and Family) 249 Conflict Scenes
56 Part II: Role and School 254 Intrigues
88 Part III: Honor and Glory 258 Duels
92 Part IV: Strengths and Weaknesses 262 Skirmishes
93 Part V: Personality and Behavior 265 Silhouette, Range Bands, and Terrain
95 Part VI: Ancestry and Family 268 Harm and Healing
95 Part VII: Death 271 Conditions
97 Experience Points and Character Advancement 274 Mass Battles
99 Advantages and Disadvantages
100 Using Advantages and Disadvantages in Play 281 CHAPTER 7:
The Game Master
101 Specific Advantages
116 Specific Disadvantages 282 The Role of the GM
137 Creating Custom Advantages and Disadvantages 296 Running the Game
300 Using Social Attributes
140 CHAPTER 3: 306 Alternative Campaign Styles
Skills
141 Skills and Checks 308 CHAPTER 8:
Non-Player Characters
141 Skill Groups
141 Breakdown of a Skill 309 NPC Profile Breakdown
142 Choosing Skill Group, Skill, and Approach 312 Sample NPCs
145 Artisan Skill Group 330 Glossary
150 Social Skill Group 333 Index
154 Scholar Skill Group
160 Martial Skill Group
165 Trade Skill Group

3
27th Day of the Month of Togashi, 1118, in a private garden of the Esteemed Palaces of the Crane

Doji Hotaru was no actress, but she was the one dis- “Please, continue,” Hotaru offered. “Tell me of how
sembling now. Lady Sun poisoned her husband with sake to secret away
“Since the beginning of time, Lord Moon has chased her youngest from the fate of his siblings.” She grinned.
Lady Sun about the world,” said Lady Kachiko as she “Poison is so strong a word,” Kachiko protested.
swept her fan in an arc overhead. “One day, he caught “So you say,” Hotaru looked mock askance at Kachiko.
her, and as her light faded, the curtain fell on the age Their levity belied Kachiko’s near-fatal brushes with poi-
of the ancient races.” Kachiko closed her fan slowly in son: by luck—or was it fate?—Hotaru had intercepted and
a false eclipse. “Over the course of countless seasons, dispatched one would-be assassin before it was too late.
Lady Sun gave birth to nine children: Hida, Doji, Togas- Kachiko continued the tale of how Lady Sun wept
hi, Akodo, Shiba, Bayushi, Fu Leng, and Hantei.” to see her children devoured so, and her tears fell to
Hotaru kept her face still and hands politely fold- earth as crystal and jade. She trained Hantei in the mar-
ed over her lap at the mention of the ninth Kami, the tial arts so that one day, he could confront his jealous
founder of the Imperial house. Whatever it was the father. When Hantei and Lord Moon finally did battle, it
Scorpion Clan was plotting concerning the Emperor, it shook the very heavens. At last, Hantei sliced open his
would surely not benefit her clan, the Crane. father’s belly, and the rest of his siblings tumbled out.
“Lord Moon knew that any children whose veins They fell from the sky to Seppun Hill, the site of the
carried both elements of Sun and Moon would grow future Imperial capital, save for one.
to be greater than he, and so, despite the protests of Lord Moon reached out at the last moment and
Lady Sun, he swallowed the children, one by one.” grasped Fu Leng. Hantei swung his sword one last time
“You do not deserve to wield Shukujo. The clan and severed his father’s very arm. Fu Leng tried to grab
cannot afford a weak champion. You must prove your- ahold of Hantei, and they both fell. Plummeting down-
self a worthy heir, first.” Though Lord Satsume may ward, Fu Leng plunged through the earth to Jigoku itself,
have been far away from Doji Palace, her father’s voice where he was lost. The blood from Lord Moon’s wound
filled her head as if he stood by Hotaru’s side. fell to the ground, where it solidified into obsidian. In
I will prove myself, father. Discerning the nature of some places, the blood mixed with Lady Sun’s tears, and
the Scorpion’s scheme from Kachiko, one of the most from that mingling came the first men and women.
infamous manipulators of the Scorpion Clan, would be The other Kami wept for their brother, but they had
nigh impossible. But Hotaru had no other choice but to other concerns. No longer immortal, they shared the
try, even if it meant betraying Kachiko’s trust. mortal realm with human beings. The Kami resolved to
“Shall I continue?” came the Scorpion’s velvet voice. teach and guide these humans, and they held a great
From her seat on the veranda, Hotaru locked eyes tournament to see who would lead those who lived in this
with Kachiko through the delicate black silk of her mask. land they dubbed Rokugan. Lady Shinjo outpaced Lord
The woman’s robes were a midnight crimson shadow Hida, but she was outwitted by Lord Bayushi. Lord Shiba
cast against the whiteness of the gravel courtyard gar- saw through his twin Bayushi’s trickery, but was overcome
den. The frost-tipped pines swayed softly in the wintry by Lady Doji’s grace. Lord Akodo defeated Lady Doji, and
breeze, and the gray clouds overhead threatened snow. when he turned to fight Hantei, he nearly lost himself in
“I am sorry that my performance is so lackluster that his battle fury. Hantei turned Akodo’s rage against him,
your attention should drift,” Kachiko pouted. and emerged victorious. Meanwhile, Lord Togashi looked
On the contrary, Hotaru wanted to say, you are per- on from the sidelines, having foreseen the outcome.
forming too well, sending my thoughts spiraling away from After his coronation as Emperor, Hantei charged each
myself. Is it on purpose? Am I just another fool for her to of his siblings with a different task: Hida would guard
play off of? No, I’m the one who’s going to use her now. against the growing darkness beyond the southernmost
“Not at all,” Hotaru inclined her head in respect. lands. Doji would foster the arts and keep the peace
“Your narration is flawless. There are few actors who between them all. To defend Rokugan, Akodo would
would even attempt to recite ‘The Children of Sun and lead great armies. Shiba would tend to the land’s spirits
Moon,’ but the entire court is looking forward to your and the Empire’s soul. Upon Bayushi the Emperor placed
performance of it in the coming weeks.” a heavy burden: to do what Hantei could not dirty his
Kachiko put on a show of demurring. “I am sure that is hands with. Always restless, Shinjo would venture beyond
not true. It is for that very reason that I thought you might the Empire’s borders to scout for any threats yet to come.
be able to give me your opinion, oh poet of the Crane.” Mysteriously, Togashi retreated to the mountains, where
It was a flimsy excuse for them to meet in private, and he would watch over the Empire from afar.
they both knew it. But it was only away from the eyes and But not long after the Kami had begun to order the
ears of the court that they could forsake appearances and world and formed clans with their earliest followers, Fu
pretend they were not bitter enemies for a time. Leng emerged from his subterranean lair. The corruption

4
of Jigoku had spread from the hole in the earth to the “Kachiko,” she began, moving closer and unfurling
surrounding lands, and demons followed in his shadow. her umbrella to protect them both from the cold wind.
Kachiko’s face hardened into hatred tinged with “Do you believe the prophecies of the Order of the
sadness. “‘Why did you not invite me to compete in Seven Thunders? That after a thousand years, the cycle
your great tournament?’ Fu Leng asked Hantei.” Fury will repeat, and the Thunders will return?”
flashed like lightning in her eyes, driving away any hint Kachiko stood very still, waiting for the words that
of sorrow. “‘I could have easily beaten any of you.’ The hung unspoken in the air. Her face softened.
Kami looked upon their fallen brother and saw that he “Because I would fight by your side,” Hotaru whis-
had been twisted with jealousy and desire. pered. The wind gusted, sending a chill up her spine.
“‘We did not know of your fate—we thought you Kachiko placed a hand on the handle to help steady
lost, poor brother. But now—now, we see that you truly the umbrella, and looked up at her. It was the first time
are,’ declared Hantei.” Kachiko slid into a new role, Hotaru could remember that she had seen the unshak-
her back straightening with imperious authority. “‘You able woman look truly vulnerable.
are marked by Hell, by Jigoku, and will only lead these Hotaru could not pretend to be heartless, could not
human beings to their doom.’ scheme as the Scorpion did. And she would not betray
“‘Lies! You did not even think to search for me when Kachiko. “I know I cannot ask this of you.” Who would
I fell. You are the one unfit to rule over these mortals, dare ask her to betray her clan? But I must. And in so
you who would not even aid your own kin. I challenge doing, place my honor in her hands. “But would you
your claim!’ Fu Leng cried out. help me now?”
Kachiko allowed Hantei’s character a glimpse of
sadness before steeling his resolve. “Hantei consid-
ered this, and accepted the duel. ‘I shall name Togashi
as my champion.’
“Togashi stepped forward, pain etched across the
face that was, at all other times, inscrutable.
“‘Pick a weapon, brother,’ Fu Leng
offered. ‘Now you will learn what I know
about destiny.’
“Togashi replied, ‘I choose as my
weapon all that lives in Rokugan.’
“‘So be it!’ Fu Leng declared. ‘I
shall bring the armies of Hell to bear
against your foolish followers, and
they shall see which of us is stronger,
which of us deserves to rule.’
“And thus began the War Against
Fu Leng.”
The war when the ancestral sword
of the Crane, Shukujo, was nearly lost. Hotaru’s
ancestor, Doji Konishiko, had been one of the
seven mortal Thunders who were finally able to
defeat Fu Leng with the guidance of Shinsei, the
Little Teacher. Konishiko had fought alongside the
actress Shosuro, Kachiko’s forebear, as well as the
shugenja Isawa, the berserker Matsu, the duelist
Mirumoto, the battle maiden Utaku, and the war-
rior Hida Atarashi.
One thousand years had passed. One day, it
would fall to Hotaru to wield Shukujo. If only she
could prove herself to her father.
At last, the snow began to fall. Hotaru
gathered her paper umbrella and rose from
her seat.
I N T R O DUC T I O N

Welcome to Roleplaying in the Emerald Empire


It is an era of sudden change and upheaval in Rokugan.
Mortal schemes, natural calamities, and celestial turmoil
WHAT IS needed to play?
alike have disrupted the political, military, and spiritual Much of a roleplaying game is conducted in the play-
equilibrium of the land. Long-simmering rivalries and ers’ imaginations, but there are a few physical materials
fresh betrayals ripple through the courts and on the that greatly facilitate play. You’ll want at least one copy
battlefield. The Chrysanthemum Throne is beset by of this core rulebook, pencils or pens, notebooks or
threats from without and within, and the honor of the scrap pieces of paper, and enough copies of the char-
seven Great Clans shall be put to the test. Who among acter sheet found on www.FantasyFlightGames.com
the clans will prove strong enough to guide Rokugan in for each player to have their own.
these tumultuous times? Will their names be lifted up The Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying Game
beside those of the honored ancestors, or will they fall also makes use of special, customized L5R Roleplaying
among the ranks of the Empire’s most infamous villains? Dice to arbitrate the game’s conflict resolution system.
In the Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying Game,
$$ Packs of Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying
players take on the roles of individual samurai whose
Dice are available for purchase at local hobby
honor and loyalty will be put to the test. These samu-
game retailers or can be ordered online from
rai serve their lords as warriors, courtiers, priests, or
Fantasy Flight Games.
monks and embark on adventures filled with drama,
suspense, humor, romance, and horror. All the while, $$ Each Legend of the Five Rings Beginner Game
they must grapple with their human emotions and comes with a set of dice.
choose between following their heart’s desire or doing $$ Fantasy Flight Games offers a Legend of the Five
what society—and the Code of Bushidō—demands of Rings Dice app for iOS and Android devices.
them. These personal stories of triumph and tragedy
will reverberate across the Emerald Empire and shape However, if these dice are not available, a chart
the very future of Rokugan. on page 23 shows how players can instead use stan-
The Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying Game dard six-sided and twelve-sided dice, which are readily
provides players and game masters with the tools to found at most hobby game retailers.
tell stories of samurai drama within the Emerald Empire.

The World of Rokugan


The following pages contain rules for creating charac-
MATURE THEMES
ters sworn to serve one of the seven Great Clans and for
The setting of the running game sessions filled with intrigue and conflict. A
Legend of the Five Rings wide variety of skills, techniques, distinctions, and more The Emerald Lands, or “Rokugan” in the tongue of
Roleplaying Game allows players to customize their characters mechanical- its people, comprise a vast, majestic countryside
grapples with mature
ly and narratively. The custom dice mechanics enable that stretches nine hundred miles from the pine val-
and sensitive themes,
ranging from suicide players to contribute to the unfolding story and deter- leys and snow-capped peaks of the Great Wall of the
and drug use to forced mine whether their character succeeds, by how much, North mountains at one end, to the austere Carpenter
marriage, violence and and how much it will cost them. And the fantastical Wall standing vigil along the country’s desolate south-
horror themes, as well feudal setting of Rokugan provides a rich tapestry of ern border. Beyond the Wall lies the Shadowlands, a
as the dehumaniza-
tion of certain castes,
majesty and wonder where these stories can unfold. blighted land tainted by the influence of Hell itself, and
classes, and nations of dangerous for even the most legendary heroes to step
people. The rest of this WHAT IS A foot within. At its widest point, Rokugan measures six

ROLEPLAYING GAME?
book and the remaining hundred miles, from the Sea of the Sun Goddess in the
products in the line will
east to the Burning Sands in the west. Within its bor-
engage with those top-
ics frequently, so reader A roleplaying game (RPG) is an exciting cooperative ders, bountiful plains ripple gold in the sunlight, and pri-
discretion is advised. storytelling experience. Each player takes on the role mordial forests hide mysterious spirits and dangerous
Additionally, we encour- of a fictional character and decides what that character creatures. Hot springs straddle mountain ranges and
age individual groups hills laden with precious gems and minerals. Countless
would think, say, do, and feel in dramatic situations!
to determine which
elements of the setting Like many games, it has rules, components, and dice to rivers, lakes, and streams wend their way toward the
they engage with in the help describe and resolve those situations. Unlike most ocean, where fish, seaweed, and pearls are netted by
stories they tell. See games, an RPG has no winner or loser and no oppos- divers and fishermen. Crimson torii mark the gateway
Who’s in Charge Here? ing teams. If everyone has fun and enjoys the resulting to sacred spaces, which exist alongside the sprawling
on page 282 for more.
story, then everyone wins! cities and huddled hamlets of human civilization.

6
INT R O DU CT IO N

Each of the seven Great Clans presides over a dif-


ferent corner of the Empire, protecting the natural har- A Guide to
mony of the land and the kami that dwell there. Shrines
and temples dot the landscape, marking places of spir-
Pronunciation
itual power and contemplation. Fortifications large and Throughout this book, you’ll encounter words
small protect roads, bridges, mountain passes, and the from the Japanese language, which is the basis
domains of great lords. In the shadows of these castles, for the language used in Rokugan. The first
towns and villages prosper from the efforts of crafts- time a foreign-language word is introduced in
people and artisans. Beyond the city limits, peasants this book, it is italicized and often defined in
toil over rice paddies and fields of grain, or hunt and the glossary on page 330, but there are also
gather the bounty of the forests. To travel the Empire many proper names used throughout this book HOW DO I USE
on its few roads, samurai must obtain special papers that do not translate directly into Japanese. By THIS BOOK?
and pay a tax toward their upkeep. Merchants’ carts learning to pronounce the five vowels of Jap-
and horses are banned from the Imperial highways Different parts of this
anese—“a,” “i,” “u,” “e,” and “o”—you can
altogether, forcing them to rely on special trade routes book are more relevant
sound out the language of the Emerald Empire:
to carry goods between cities. Given the size of the depending on whether
$$ “A” is “ah” as in “father” you are planning to
Empire and the difficulty of journeying, few get to wit-
run the game or simply
ness the variety of the Empire’s vistas in one lifetime. $$ “I” is a long “e” sound, such as “fee” participate in it. The
Instead, citizens are deeply in tune with the natural rest of this introduc-
$$ “U” is “ooh” as in “who”
cycles of the provinces they call home. The Heavens tion serves as a primer
bring four seasons to the Empire, which are celebrat- $$ “E” is “eh” as in “pen” to the game and the
world and is useful for
ed by festivals and arts. In the spring, the delicate fra- $$ “O” is a long “o” sound, such as “owe” everyone to read.
grance of cherry blossoms wafts from misty gardens.
For example, Rokugan is “ROH-koo- Readers who will be
Summer heralds rains and oppressive heat, slowly giv-
GAHN,” Hotaru is “hoh-TAH-roo,” and Kachiko taught the rules of
ing way to autumn’s brilliant scarlet leaves, shrill cicada
is “kah-CHEE-koh.” When the vowels are next to the game during play
cries, and typhoons. Winter buries the lands in deep may dive straight into
each other, they merge a little bit, such as Han-
snow, closing mountain passes and driving the citizenry Chapter 2: Creating a
tei (“HAHN-tay”) and daimyō (“DYE-myoh,” not Character, but we still
to the warmth and comfort of the hearth.
“dah-mee-oh”). The macron, or long bar over a recommend reading

The Code of Bushidō vowel, indicates that the vowel sound is held for Chapter 1: Playing the
Game to understand
a moment longer, as in rōnin, or “RO-OH-neen.”
the mechanical compo-
To protect these lands and their way of life, the samurai nents of a character.
servants of great lords follow Bushidō. This Way of the

The Samurai’s Struggle


The person running
Warrior elevates samurai from the rest of society while
the game should start
also chaining them to near-unattainable ideals. They with Chapter 1: Playing
must embody righteousness and honor, loyalty and Many Rokugani plays have been written chronicling the the Game, continue to
duty, and courtesy and compassion, as well as courage impossible choices facing a samurai as their human feel- Chapter 6: Scenes and
Conflicts, and then
in the face of death. A samurai is expected to uphold ings, or ninjō, conflict with their obligations to society, or
move on to Chapter
these virtues in their every word and deed, even when giri. Those things that would get in the way of Bushidō 7: The Game Master.
these ideals conflict with one another. are real and meaningful forces in a samurai’s life, and Then, before guiding
A samurai’s reputation for adhering to the Code of it is the rare soul who can resist their call completely. a group through
Bushidō reflects not only on the individual, but upon The stories and the drama of the Legend of the Five character creation, we
recommend reviewing
that samurai’s household, family, and clan. Should they Rings Roleplaying Game revolve around the tension
Chapter 2: Creating a
prove unable to live up to these expectations, only ritu- between these two conflicting forces. One of the fun- Character for yourself.
alized suicide, or seppuku, can wash away the stain on damental choices a player must make during character
their honor. According to Bushidō, there is no room in creation is to select ninjō and giri, the opposing forces
a samurai’s life for anything that would get in the way of of a samurai’s inner desire and the external demands
these ideals. Love and ambition, pride and greed—even placed upon them by their lord and by fate. Whether a
happiness—are to be sacrificed for the sake of Bushidō. samurai chooses happiness or duty in a given moment
Yet, samurai are still human, made from the mingling of has narrative and mechanical consequences not only for
Lady Sun and Lord Moon, order and chaos. The tenets themself, but for all of the Emerald Empire. When they
of Bushidō would not be ideals to strive toward if they serve their lord with distinction, tales of their glories may
were easy to realize in daily life. Characters in Rokugan spread to the corners of the Empire or even be recorded
are measured by their own faith in, and devotion to, the for the ages. A samurai’s fame and reputation for service
Code of Bushidō through their honor value. is measured by their glory value.

7
The Way of Five Rings
At the dawn of civilization, when humanity looked to understand the sur-
rounding creation, the greatest philosophers determined that the world
was composed of the five elements: Air, Earth, Fire, Water, and the Void
that holds the other elements together. These elements, also called rings,
were represented in the sacred spirits of the land and the natural world,
but also in society and the human psyche. Air is the weather and the wind,
the invisible and the innuendo, and the swiftness of a bird of prey. Earth is
stone, wood, and metal, as well as a donkey’s stubbornness and a tortoise’s
patience. Fire is the gentle warmth of the sun or the rage of a wildfire, but
also the spark of innovation, the passion of devotion, and the ferocity of a
wildcat. Water is an octopus’s adaptability and flexibility; it takes the shape
of its container, be it a puddle, river, or endless sea. Void is the emptiness
of the night sky or nirvana, at once present and transcendent.
Sensei across Rokugan teach samurai-in-training to observe and express
these different elements in all that they do. In the Legend of the Five Rings
Roleplaying Game, characters are defined by their strength in different
elements. This strength is represented mechanically with a numeric value
on a scale of one to five, called a character’s ring value. In every task they
undertake, they must choose an elemental approach, and the suitability of
one approach over another can give them the edge they need or diminish
their chance of succeeding.

8
Samurai and Society
The way of the samurai is the way of the warrior.
Most are trained from birth to fight for their lords and
lay down their lives if need be. When ownership of a
In Rokugan, it is said that honor is stronger than steel. territory falls into dispute, or when threats from beyond
While even the finest blade can bend and break or the Empire’s borders imperil the very existence of the
twist under the heat of the forge, the Emerald Empire’s Empire, the daimyō of the clans mobilize their armies
society has been folded in the forges of politics and and fight for their champion or on behalf of the Emperor
war for more than a thousand years, and it has not as part of the Imperial Legions. The Emperor permits his
yet broken. The society of Rokugan follows a divinely vassals to take a share of the annual rice harvest so that
ordered pattern set down by the ten Kami, who shared they may arm themselves for war and defend the lands
their celestial blessings with the mortal realm. Rokugan they have been entrusted with.
is a land of strict social stratification, where an improp- Not all wars are won on the battlefield, however.
er look at the wrong time can mean death. Face—the Samurai skilled in the subtle arts of the courtier fight THE TEN KAMI
concept of a samurai’s stoicism and outward self-con- their battles with honeyed words and mocking, titter-
ing laughter behind face-concealing fans. Their arena Lady Sun and Lord Moon
trol—is paramount in Rokugan. To lose one’s face is to
had ten children, but only
lose one’s status and reputation in society, and poten- is the courts, be they the provincial courts of city or eight were destined to
tially one’s life. family daimyō, the castles of the clan champions, or help shape Rokugan at the
The root of the word samurai is, literally, “one the famed yet deadly Imperial Court. In these places dawn of the Empire. Fu
who serves.” The samurai rule the Emerald Empire as of delicate and indirect speech, impeccable etiquette Leng was lost to Jigoku,
where he became lord of
nobles and lords, but they also serve others—whether is a better defense than the finest katana when a samu-
demons, while Ryoshun’s
the people of Rokugan below or those samurai who rai walks into court. Courtiers seek out one another for name was lost to history.
sit as lords above them. Most samurai fall into one of private meetings, each expressing their clan’s wishes The remaining eight Kami
three broad categories: bushi, who train their martial indirectly and sealing treaties with honor and promises founded the Great Clans
rather than ink and parchment. and the Imperial house:
skill; courtiers, who engage in deadly political games;
and shugenja, who serve as priests and conduits Winter is harsh in Rokugan, and battles cannot be Lord Akodo: Founder of
between the mortal and sacred realms. fought in the bitter cold and impassable snow. Thus win- the Lion Clan
ter is when court is most active, for there is little else to Lord Bayushi: Founder of
Government and Power do except attend court. The Emperor’s Winter Court is
a highly selective social event, with higher stakes and
the Scorpion Clan

Lady Doji: Founder of the


Rokugan is a feudal society: all of the land belongs to rewards than any other. Crane Clan
the Emperor, who bestows the rights of stewardship
on champions and lords within the Great Clans, who
in turn pass on the tasks of administration to less-
Crime and Punishment Lord Hida: Founder of
the Crab Clan

er-ranked samurai. The task of stewarding the land for the Emperor Lord Shiba: Founder of
All Imperial authority and patterns of life proceed requires a samurai to execute the Emperor’s will. This the Phoenix Clan
from the Hantei, the Emperor, who is descended from includes the Emperor’s laws, which are collected and Lady Shinjo: Founder of
divinity and sits on the Emerald Throne. He is attend- enforced by the Emerald Champion. The maintenance the Unicorn Clan
ed primarily by his jeweled champions (the Emerald of order, law, and justice in Rokugan—in that order of
Lord Togashi: Founder of
Champion in particular) and by the champions of the importance—is one of the primary responsibilities of the Dragon Clan
Great Clans. The clan champions are masters of the the samurai. Crime in Rokugan is much the same as
Emperor Hantei: Founder
Great Clans, overseeing the families sworn to each. anywhere else; theft, assault, murder, and arson are all
of the Imperial line
These families are descended from the heroic mortals known within the Emerald Empire.
who swore fealty to the Kami. To enforce laws and maintain an orderly society
The various families within the clan are themselves within their borders, provincial daimyō appoint special
ruled over by daimyō (literally, “the great names”), lords investigators called magistrates. These magistrates are
of the families, who hold the power of life and death over loyal to clan and daimyō, and are assisted by yoriki
their kin and command absolute loyalty. Their individual (lesser-ranking samurai) and budōka (armed peasant
lands are divided into provinces, the divisions of land in vassals) in tracking and apprehending criminals. Histor-
Rokugan, which are ruled over by lesser daimyō—who ically, two classes of magistrate have attended to Impe-
themselves rule over district and city governors, lords of rial crimes: Emerald Magistrates, appointed by the
rich lands and wealthy cities. The clans and their represen- Emerald Champion, and Jade Magistrates, appointed
tatives vie for dominance in the courts of these daimyō, by the Jade Champion. The former investigate crimes
prevailing over others with silk and steel. crossing multiple clan boundaries or involving nation-
al personages. The latter were shugenja tasked with

9
I N T R O DUC T I O N

The Celestial Order


investigating crimes against religion or evil magic
involving the Shadowlands, but the office has not been
filled in centuries.
Crimes committed upward, or against those of higher Belief and religion are inculcated into a samurai from
social rank and against the social order, are taken quite birth—and before, from the time of their last death.
seriously by magistrates. Crimes committed downward, Spirits and gods are a fact of life for samurai, and faith
such as a samurai’s theft from a peasant, are rarely inves- folds with honor a thousand times over in the steel of
tigated unless the peasant has the backing of another a samurai’s soul: faith in the gods, faith in the cycle
samurai. Rokugani criminal justice is based on honor, and of reincarnation, and faith in the divine mandate that
considers only one form of evidence to be valid: eyewit- binds the Empire together.
ness testimony (including confession). Fines, public rep- The Emperor is a divine being, charged by Lady
rimands, and house arrest are common punishments for Sun with overseeing the mortal realm. The blood of
samurai—although if there’s any doubt as to the samu- literal gods—the Kami—runs through the veins of the
rai’s guilt, the defendant may challenge the offender to a Great Clans’ ruling families. The will of Tengoku orga-
duel, the winner of which is considered beyond reproach. nizes all of existence into a hierarchy. This system—the
Celestial Order—is sacred and unquestionable, order-
Commerce and Currency ing both Heaven and the Emerald Empire. From the
Emperor to the lowest burakumin, all are born with a
Rokugan’s economic system is based on the land tilled dharma, a sacred duty of the soul; the performance of
by farmers and protected by the samurai. The Emperor this duty in life is how a Rokugani’s karma is measured,
properly owns all land, yet leases it to the clans, which determining their judgment in Meido and potential
hereditarily lease it to their daimyō in turn. Given the rebirth into a higher or lower caste.
limits of roads—often dangerous and unpaved affairs— Most souls are reborn, returning to live new lives in
many provinces become lawful lands unto themselves, mortal bodies—a belief that predates even the Empire.
where the daimyō acts as an extension of the Emper- However, Rokugani also worship their ancestors, a
or over the peasants who work the rice paddies. It is seeming contradiction. Each soul’s dharma accords
rice—a vital crop that keeps the Emerald Empire alive— them a destiny preordained by Heaven; so long as
that provides much of Rokugan’s wealth. Barley, wheat, that destiny goes unfulfilled, the soul will be reborn.
millet, soybeans, and rye are also common crops grown Only when dharma is completed is the soul permit-
by farmers, but it is a yearly stipend of rice that forms ted to shuffle off the Celestial Wheel and enter Yomi,
the basis for currency in Rokugan: koku. The clans able the Realm of the Sacred Ancestors. The fear of death
to harvest the most rice are among the wealthiest in the holds little purchase in Rokugan—so long as it remains
Empire, and therefore the most influential politically, but untainted by Jigoku, the Realm of Evil, a soul will return
to directly conflate wealth with power would be an insult again to the Emerald Empire until it fulfills its destiny.
to the importance placed on honor and virtue in society.
Trade and commerce are indispensable for
Rokugan to thrive, but it is considered dishonorable
Those Who Serve
for samurai to involve themselves in such mercantile The samurai, “those who serve,” rule Rokugan in the
pursuits. Their primary concern should be with serving name of the Hantei. The class consists of many social
their lord, not personal enrichment, but virtue and real- ranks: The kuge, or houses of the nobility, consists of
ity can sometimes diverge. Nevertheless, to maintain the Emperor and Imperial families, the family lines of
a veneer of civility, samurai leave monetary matters to the clan champions, the heads of vassal families, and
non-samurai, who in turn seek the patronage of a pow- the greatest servants of the Hantei. The buke, or chi-
erful lord. This allows samurai to engage in trade and valric houses, comprises all other samurai, including
currency manipulation without sullying their honor with provincial daimyō and city governors, magistrates,
crass, uncouth avarice. Those few clans and families and others. The vast majority of the buke are warriors,
that flagrantly involve themselves in trade are looked courtiers, and shugenja, down to the jizamurai, or
down upon by the others, who see greed as incompat- half-samurai—those not allowed the name of their lord,
ible with absolute loyalty. including rōnin. Custom forbids a samurai from ques-
tioning or opposing someone of higher social rank
without extreme justification, or treating those of equal
rank with anything less than complete respect and
courtesy. They may treat those below them however
they please, although Bushidō still governs their actions.

10
I N T R O DUC T I ON

Those Who Work


The vast majority of people in Rokugan are the bonge
(also called heimin, or “half-people.”) These peasants
keep the nation running by cultivating the land, crafting
the tools and implements of daily life, and transporting
those goods across the Empire by land and sea. Farm-
ers who grow rice and other food are considered the
most important of the bonge. Below the farmers are
the craftspeople: carpenters, blacksmiths, brewers, and
practitioners of the other skilled trades. Below them all
are merchants, regarded with contempt by all others
since they do not actually make anything themselves.
Seldom permitted to carry weapons (save for ashi-
garu, peasant military levies, and budōka, armed retain-
ers to samurai), heimin have few defenses, physically or
legally. As a being with a higher social and spiritual sta-
tus, a samurai may demand anything from heimin who
belong to their lord without recompense, and can kill
any heimin who disobeys or fails to show respect. Yet,
the samurai are also responsible to heimin, as described
in the Celestial Order; the bonge’s dharma is to work the
land and obey the samurai, and it is the samurai’s duty to
protect the heimin and administer the Empire. Slaying a
heimin means answering to that heimin’s lord.

Those Who Do
Not Belong
There is a third class, called burakumin, or “ham-
let people,” who are sometimes known as hinin, or
“non-people.” Due to their proximity to death or dis-
honorable acts, these criminals, torturers, undertakers,
butchers, and tanners are considered unfit as compan-
ions for samurai save in the direst of circumstances. Even
a kindly lord’s speech might be discolored by the pejo-
rative term eta, a slur meaning “abundance of filth.”
Burakumin are considered deeply unclean, and
associating with them too often requires the samurai to
undertake special purification rituals. Burakumin must
live in special villages on the outskirts of society, and
they are deeply afraid of samurai. More so than bonge,
burakumin can be killed for no reason at all, without
legal consequences. Testing newly forged blades by
cutting down the nearest hinin isn’t uncommon.
Entertainers who aren’t samurai, including geisha,
are also technically hinin for a special reason: because
they are non-people, a samurai may fully relax around
them with no social stigma. The stress of maintaining
one face’s can and will wear on even the most stoic of
samurai. In the company of a geisha, under the gentle
strains of shamisen music, a samurai may laugh, com-
plain about their lord and family, or cry at their lot in life.
I N T R O DUC T I O N

A Samurai’s Life
and strategic resources. For a samurai to balk or refuse
this is considered the same thing as refusing any other
commands from their daimyō: grounds for seppuku—and
Most samurai are either born into the ranks of the buke thus, most samurai wouldn’t even consider questioning it.
from long-serving family lines or adopted from another
noble family. Some are adopted from rōnin or vassal Retirement
families who pledge themselves to a lord.
Samurai youth have very few expectations placed on After a lifetime of service to the clan, many samurai
them and aren’t expected to maintain their face. Most want choose to become monks, retiring to a monastery to
for nothing. So long as they obey their parents, they have contemplate the mysteries of Shinsei and the Tao. The
no cares until sometime between ages eight and twelve, expression is to “shave one’s head,” referring to the
depending on the family or clan. They are then enrolled in practice of cutting one’s topknot, the symbol of their
a family dōjō to train for their adult responsibilities. samurai status (though since many clans adopt a wide
variety of hairstyles in the modern era, this remains col-

Training loquial). The samurai surrenders their wakizashi to the


clan before mulling over a lifetime’s worth of wisdom
For the upper classes of samurai, learning one’s place in peaceful contemplation. Not all samurai choose to
in the Empire means training at the family dōjō, prac- retire; some continue to serve their lords well into old
LIFE ON THE WAVES
ticing techniques perfected over centuries of effort age, while others find a noble death in battle.
Many samurai voluntarily and mastery. This training varies in length depending But retirement serves a deeply practical purpose.
become rōnin for a single upon its nature (shugenja students in particular often Though a samurai’s clan obligations are in theory sev-
year, typically in the year have widely varying educational careers, depending on ered after a lifetime’s service, most monks stay on their
or the second following
when and how strongly their gifts with the kami mani- family’s lands, providing a deep wellspring of institution-
their gempuku. Consid-
ered to be a healthy out- fest themselves) and the capabilities of the student, but al knowledge and wisdom the clan may continue to tap
let for a young samurai’s typically lasts about four years. Students with another long after the samurai’s steel has grown dull with age.
desire to prove themself, clear aptitude are often transferred to another family
this allows them to
sharpen their skills and
dōjō within the same clan and given instruction on how Funeral
temper their attitudes to best use their talents to serve. On rare occasions,
they may even be traded to another clan, an arrange- The last act of a samurai—death with dignity—is a
with experience. Having
experienced hardship in ment that requires a great number of favors and con- solemn affair. While many samurai seek an honorable
the outer Empire, most cessions. After they have met the requirements of their death in battle, this isn’t always possible. When a
return and swear fealty to samurai dies, their deeds are read before a group of
sensei, a samurai is deemed ready for gempuku.
the clan anew with true dignitaries and loved ones gathered around an ornate
loyalty rather than an
pyre built to represent the elements that make up a
inculcated sense of duty. Gempuku samurai’s soul. The body is cremated and the burnt
While a rōnin is tech- bones are picked out of the ashes with specialized
The greatest day of a samurai’s young life is the day they
nically still samurai,
become an adult, graduating from their academy dōjō chopsticks, for the dead must never be touched.
they have no lord, no
clan, and no family— in the coming-of-age ceremony and becoming a full- Seppuku is another possible end for a samurai—ritu-
and thus, no purpose. fledged member of the clan. Usually, this occurs some- al suicide to cleanse the family and the individual of the
Rōnin are forced to find time around a samurai’s sixteenth year, although both ear- samurai’s dishonor. Successful performance of seppuku
work as mercenaries
lier and later gempuku aren’t uncommon. Most involve generally redeems the samurai’s shame, allowing them
or bodyguards, eating
dumplings bought from tests of some sort, to ensure the samurai has learned all to try to seek honor and dharma again in a different life.
foul heimin merchants they were required and are capable of performing their
and earning their straw
bedding with the skill
duties with excellence. Should the young samurai pass, A Life Without Purpose
they are gifted with a wakizashi—traditionally their grand-
of their blade. Some The exception to the samurai way of life is the lifestyle
resort to banditry or
parent’s, although more often a replica made in the same
style—and expected to serve the clan faithfully. of a rōnin, literally “wave-man,” one tossed by the vicis-
crime to gather the
coin they need to live, situdes of fate. A samurai need not accept seppuku to
but at least this is still
an earning wrought by
Marriage cleanse their honor—they may choose to forsake their
duty and leave. Though many rōnin do not conform to
skill at arms. Love has a place in Rokugan: in pillow books and wistful the stereotype of honorless, masterless samurai—some
Even the lowest rōnin is poems to one’s beloved, for marrying for true love is rare. are simply the children of rōnin born to their station, act-
higher than the bonge. Marriage in a feudal society is predicated upon what’s ing with greater honor than many samurai of the Great
best for the family and alliances, and thus the talent and Clans—enough do that they are automatically assumed
bloodlines of young samurai are often traded for favors to be untrustworthy and without decency.

12
INT R OD UCTION

The Code of Bushidō


Literally “the way of the warrior,” Bushidō is the code by which all samurai in Rokugan strive to live, yet each clan’s interpretation of the
tenets of Bushidō is slightly different. All samurai are taught to embrace the ideals of Bushidō and strive ever toward them, at the expense
of personal gain. Not even the Kami upheld Bushidō without flaw; the strictures put down by Akodo are nearly impossible to maintain in
their entirety, and the struggle to adhere to them consumes a samurai’s existence.

Compassion (Jin) Samurai are expected to do their duty to their lord and their sub-

ordinates without hesitation or reservation, no matter the cost to


“Through intense training, the samurai becomes quick and their own reputation. Of course, any duty given by their lord is
strong. They are not as other people. They develop a power expected to be within the bounds of Bushidō and bring honor to
that must be used for the good of all. They have compassion. the samurai by obeying it. Should a samurai feel their duty conflicts
They help their fellows at every opportunity. If an opportunity with the other virtues of Bushidō, they may commit seppuku in pro-
does not arise, they go out of their way to find one.”
test, a rare exception to needing a lord’s permission to end one’s
life. The sentiment is impossible to ignore: the lord has forfeited
The Celestial Heavens appointed the lords and samurai of Rokugan the samurai’s honor, and no one without honor is fit to serve.
to rule over the lower castes, but with power comes responsibility.

Honor (Meiyo)
名誉
Compassion represents the noblesse oblige of the buke and kuge
toward the bonge. Most clans interpret this to mean extending
physical protection over peasants, but other clans go even further. “A true samurai has only one judge of their honor, and that is
themself. Decisions you make and how those decisions are carried out

Courage (Yū) are a reflection of who you truly are. You cannot hide from yourself.”

“Rise up above the masses of people who are afraid to act. Meiyo is the most subtle, yet the most basic and all-encompassing
A samurai must have heroic courage. It is absolutely risky. It is virtue. Samurai without honor cannot truly follow the other virtues
dangerous. Only in acceptance of one’s death may a samurai live
of Bushidō, for they act as others expect and not as their own con-
their life completely, fully, wonderfully. Courage is not blind; it is
science dictates. If their own honor is intact, however, they will fol-
intelligent and strong. Replace fear with respect and caution.”
low the ways of Bushidō and pursue justice without flaw or failure,
even when commanded otherwise by their lord.
Every samurai lives three feet from death at all times. A samurai

Righteousness (Gi)

must be prepared to give their life for their lord, their clan, and the
Empire at a moment’s notice. To die in service to one’s lord furthers
one’s karma, and thus samurai eagerly embrace the idea of a noble “Be acutely honest throughout your dealings with all people.
death in service to their family. Believe in justice, not from other people, but from yourself. A true
samurai knows in their heart that there are no shades of grey in the

Courtesy (Rei)

question of honesty and justice. There is only right and wrong.”

“Samurai have no reason to be cruel. They do not need to Righteousness is the sunlight glinting off the katana, bright and
prove their strength. A samurai is courteous even to their enemies.
painful to the eye. There is only truth and falsehood, justice and
Without this outward show of respect, we are nothing more than
injustice, and it is the samurai’s job to live in accordance with justice
animals. A samurai is not only respected for their strength in battle,
and ensure that justice is meted out.
but also by their dealings with others. The true inner strength
of a samurai becomes apparent during difficult times.”

Sincerity (Makoto)

The social order isn’t just important to Rokugan—it is, in a literal


manner, what the Heavens rest upon. A samurai is required to main- “When a samurai has said they will perform an action, it is
tain appearances and withstand adversity, exhibiting courteousness as good as done. Nothing will stop them from completing their
even when faced with the most vile lack of it. It is for this reason that deed. They do not have to ‘give their word,’ nor do they have
courtiers practice indirect insults and the art of the subtle insinuation. to ‘promise.’ The action of speaking alone has set the act of
doing in motion. Speaking and doing are the same thing.”

Duty and Loyalty (Chūgi)


忠義

Samurai must align intent with their word and deed, acting with
“For the samurai, having done some ‘thing’ or said some ‘thing,’
complete and total conviction, whether they serve themselves or
they know they own that ‘thing.’ They are responsible for it and all the
their lord. A convincing manner is more valued in Rokugan than
consequences that follow. A samurai is intensely loyal to those in their
the absolute truth, for the samurai who speaks with sincerity has
care. To those they are responsible for, they remain fiercely true.”
committed the totality of their being to the sentiment.

13
毘沙門

KISSHŌTEN
吉祥天
BISHAMON

恵比寿
EBISU
福禄人
FUKUROKUJIN

The Land of Ten


nature, agriculture, and other domains. This worship of
the immortals who dwell in Tengoku and the myriad
lesser spirits dwelling in Ningen-dō is known as For-

Thousand Fortunes tunism. Temples and shrines to the Lesser Fortunes


exist in the hundreds, and the sanctuaries celebrating
the Seven Great Fortunes dominate the skylines of the
Faith is a real and tangible thing to Rokugan, and only
Empire’s greatest cities. Although they are usually invis-
the foolish choose not to believe. The kami are demon-
ible to the eye, the kami have a few servants who can
strably real, the gods are easily angered, and signs of
hear and speak to the kami. These mortals are known
magic and wonder can be seen even in the distant
as shugenja, and their invocations to the Fortunes and
corners of the Empire—if not by a samurai or peasant,
the elemental kami can produce miraculous effects.
then by someone whom they know and trust.
While Fortunism celebrates diversity, another line of
Merged by the second Emperor, Hantei Genji,
philosophical thought emphasizes unity. Called “Shin-
Rokugan’s religious beliefs encompass three different
seism” for the man who promulgated its core beliefs,
forms of worship: ancestor worship, or the worship of
the ideology focuses on a core of simplicity: all the uni-
a samurai’s blessed antecedents who have ascended
verse comes from the Void, and all will eventually return
beyond the wheel of reincarnation; Fortunism, the
to it. Embracing the oneness of the five elements, or
direct worship of the gods; and Shinseism, the study
rings, and living in accordance with the principles of an
and practice of the Tao of Shinsei.
ordered society could, according to Shinseism, enable
The most fundamental of religious observances
one to transcend the cycle of rebirth and attain Enlight-
revolves around the worship of a samurai’s own ances-
enment. These teachings were recorded in full during
tors. From Yomi, the spirits of one’s forebears watch
Shinsei’s audience with the first Emperor and became
over their descendants, receiving prayer for guidance,
recorded in the Tao of Shinsei.
aid, and good fortune. Nearly every house in Rokugan
Following the Tao means acting in accordance with
contains an ancestral shrine where family members
virtue and the harmony of the universe, which itself
offer prayer and dedication to stone statues of kin, ask-
leads to order and the furtherance of good over evil.
ing for blessings, protection, and intercession.
The Tao is studied and debated by the Brotherhood
Beyond the spirits of their own, the people of
of Shinsei, a vast collection of monastic orders, each
Rokugan revere and appease the elemental spirits of

14
JURŌJIN
寿老人
BENTEN
弁天
DAIKOKU
大黒

布袋
HOTEI

with an individual approach to study and practice. This


religious heterodoxy occasionally gives rise to potent
heresies, and many divergent sects of Shinseism have
The Fortunes
EIGHT GREAT
appeared over the centuries. FORTUNES

Mortal Intermediaries of Rokugan (from left to right)

Many powerful Fortunes, or gods, exist. Bishamon:


The kami interact with Rokugan through natural phe- Fortune of Strength
nomena, but they make their will manifest to devoted Emma-o reigns supreme over Meido in his
role as Fortune of Death and Judge of the Fukurokujin:
mortals. Spirits may accept sincere devotion by blessing
Dead, while Megumi, Fortune of Heroic Fortune of Wisdom
a lay priest from the peasant caste. Such priests cannot and Mercy
compel obvious miracles from the kami, but they can Guidance, often appears to aid minor samu-
rai throughout the Empire. Kisshōten:
bless fields, sanctify ritual spaces, perform weddings
In ages past, different tribes venerated Fortune of Happiness,
and funerals, practice auguries, and create good luck Fertility, and Beauty
charms and talismans blessed by their favored deities. different Fortunes depending on the needs
and specializations of their villages. After the Ebisu:
When a samurai manifests the ability to communi-
formation of the Empire, it became the sacred Fortune of Honest Work
cate with the spirits, they are often given the special-
ized, secretive training to become a shugenja, a samurai right of the Hantei to declare a new Fortune, Daikoku:
elevating deceased former mortals to the ranks Fortune of Wealth
priest who wields miraculous power. A common miscon-
ception exists that shugenja can speak directly to the of divinity. Such was the fate of Osano-wo, son Benten:
spirits using human language, but in truth it is a delicate of Hida, Fortune of Fire and Thunder. Fortune of Arts and
Some theologians believe that all of the Romantic Love
translation of emotions and instincts, which can be mis-
interpreted. Under the tutelage of other shugenja, the Fortunes were originally mortals whose deeds Hotei:
samurai learns prayers, offerings, devotions, and invo- were cause for veneration, and that path can Fortune of Contentment
cations designed to entreat the assistance of the kami, still be tread today. Whether through proving
Jurōjin:
sometimes in spectacular ways. Titanic fireballs, weaving oneself a true paragon or treading other, secret Fortune of Longevity
beautiful illusory displays, creating great fissures in rock, paths, new gods can ascend to the Heavens.
or washing away the despair of battle—with the proper
prayers to the kami, all things are possible.

15
I N T R O DUC T I O N

The Great Clans


Rokugani society is based on a clan structure, with seven families descended from the Kami ruling over other
families descended from those who swore fealty. Over the centuries, each family has gravitated toward a certain
role or duty within the clan, although it’s common for families to trade promising students who show talent in an
area that differs from that of their ancestors. The Great Clans of Rokugan are diverse and powerful, dividing huge
swaths of the Empire between them and commanding many thousands of samurai from families great and small.

The Crab Clan


“Courage. Duty. Sacrifice.”
The Dragon Clan
The Crab stand out in any gathering of samurai, given
“Find your own path.”
a wide berth both for their stature and for their gruff,
brusque manners. The defenders of the Empire have
little time or inclination to practice social niceties; they For a thousand years, the Dragon Clan has watched
stand guard upon the Kaiu Wall, an enduring symbol of over the others, recording the history of Rokugan.
tenacity against the horrors of the Shadowlands. Often, Aloof and enigmatic, the armies of the Dragon march
the members of this clan grumble that their duty is tak- only rarely, intervening in the clashes of the Great Clans
en for granted, that their fine and honorable samurai for seemingly inscrutable reasons. From the strange
succumb to the horrifying Taint while the effete and the and powerful Tattooed Monks of Togashi to the inves-
careless play at games in an Empire kept safe by the tigators who challenge the system of justice in the
spilled blood of the Crab. Empire, the Dragon seek to ensure the Empire does
not become too self-focused and solipsistic. It falls to
them to ensure that the future of the Empire transpires
in an orderly and elegant manner.

The Crane Clan


“There is a proper technique for all things.”

The Crane are the Left Hand of the Emperor, in service


as the political aides to the throne. It’s traditional for
the Hantei to choose a samurai from the Doji family The Lion Clan
as their spouse, more Emerald Champions have been “For my ancestors!”
Kakita than any other family, and the samurai of the
Daidoji family serve as some of the finest shock troops
To be a samurai is to live and breathe Bushidō, but to
in the Emerald Empire. Yet the Crane make their great-
be a Lion is to exemplify it to all others. The Lion’s roar
est contributions in culture: many of the finest poets
heralds the call to battle and honor. For centuries, the
and craftspeople hail from their academies, and their
Lion have dominated the military tactics and strategy
duelists have few rivals. The Crane are the masters of
of the Empire, pioneering new techniques and battle
court, with the wealth and status to prove it.
methods that other clans take years to adopt. Now, this
clan’s samurai seek to apply the wisdom of their ances-
tors to the trials of the modern era.

16
INT R O DU CT IO N

The Unicorn Clan


“One cannot capture the wind.”

The Clan of the Wind spent hundreds of years out-


side the Empire, returning in a glorious cavalry charge
that shook the other clans to their core. The barbar-
ic ways they adopted in their exile continue to shock
and disgust the other clans, yet the Unicorn remain
fierce in their duty and unwavering in their honor. Of
all the clans, they are best suited to uncovering foreign
The Phoenix Clan manipulation and infiltration, for they faced innumera-
ble horrors and traitors in their wandering years.
“Master the elements and be reborn.”

Other clans guard the Empire’s borders, even the


Empire’s future, but the Phoenix guard the Empire’s
soul. It is the duty of the Phoenix to keep safe the myr-
iad religious paths of the Empire, defining them and The Imperial Families
arbitrating their differences. Scholars of the Tao and
“Enacting the Will of Heaven.”
servants of the spirits are found among the Phoenix’s
ranks more than in any other clan; the wisdom the
Over thirty-nine generations of the Hantei, innumera-
Phoenix have gleaned from both traditions has led
ble siblings have been the “spare” heirs, extra children
them to foster peace and understanding among the
who were never called upon to ascend the throne.
other clans, even if it means sacrificing themselves in
Even within only a few such generations, the number
the process.
of princes and princesses born to the Imperial family
would require an entire city of palaces, and moreover,
none but the Emperor and his immediate kin could
use the Hantei family name. Rather than challenge the
claim of the Emperor’s eldest child, at adulthood these
other heirs joined the families of Hantei-no-Kami’s
The Scorpion Clan original followers, Miya and Otomo and Seppun. They
serve as the heralds and bureaucrats of the Empire, and
“I will be your villain, Hantei.” the bodyguards and spiritual wardens of the Emperor.
Together, they are sworn to protect the political
From behind their masks and veils, the Scorpion smile power of the Emperor and ensure no one clan grows too
grimly at the performance of their duty, for it is their influential. Some wonder, however, if they do their jobs
sacrifice to be hated even as they execute it perfectly. of sowing strife among the clans altogether too well.
What other clan could perform the role of loyal villain?
It was the Scorpion Kami’s contention that enemies
need not be external to the Empire, and thus, the
Scorpion fight fire with fire. They keep all clans united
in hatred against them, yet divided so that no one clan
can challenge the line to whom they owe undying loy-
alty: the Hantei.

17
I N T R O DUC T I O N

The Minor Clans


The Great Clans are the most visible and esteemed powers in the Emerald Empire, but they are not alone. There are
also minor clans, smaller samurai families who cannot equal the Great Clans in power or prestige but who nevertheless
have a place in the Empire’s social order.
Minor clans are sometimes created through a schism from a larger clan, an accident of inheritance or geogra-
phy that creates a new separate entity in need of Imperial recognition. They may also be created by the Imperial
Court, sometimes as a reward for an individual samurai’s great honor or service, or to create a family to assume
responsibility for a particular location, task, or secret.
Mighty as they are, the Great Clans are seldom foolish enough to dismiss the minor clans out of hand. Although
they are smaller and seldom have more than one family or one formal school from which to draw their samurai, the
minor clans often have unparalleled expertise in their particular area of study.

Minor Clans of Note


USING MINOR CLANS Badger Clan: Created in the distant past to guard Hare Clan: The Hare Clan was founded in recognition
Rokugan’s northern border, the Badger Clan dwells in of a ronin who distinguished himself in battle against a
Several notable minor
a series of rough valleys and caves in the Great Wall of terrible blood sorcerer centuries ago. Since then, the
clans are listed here.
However, there are the North mountain. As tough and stubborn as their Usagi family has devoted itself to finding and battling
dozens more, such as mountain home, the Ichiro family has never once failed mahō tsukai wherever they may be found.
the Moth and Bat Clans. in its duty.
GMs can even create Mantis Clan: Often dismissed as pirates and thieves,
their own for their own Cat Clan: The Nekoma family of the Cat Clan lives on a the Mantis control lucrative trade routes thanks to their
campaigns.
protected island off the Phoenix coast. While the family position on the Islands of Silk and Spice. As leader of
appears to be a playful association of acrobats, actors, what is arguably the most powerful minor clan, Man-
and noted playwrights, in truth they are a successful tis champion Yoritomo’s ambition is to lead his clan to
clan of mercenary shinobi, selling their skills as spies Great Clan status. Unusually, the Mantis have no family
and assassins to the other clans. name, and instead carry the names of the ship or port
on which they serve.
Centipede Clan: Devoted to the Sun Goddess Ama-
terasu, the matriarchal Centipede Clan preserves Sparrow Clan: The Suzume Hills, home to the Spar-
ancient traditions and mostly keeps to themselves. The row Clan and the Suzume family, are dry, unproduc-
Moshi family produces a large number of shugenja, tive, and devoid of any great resources. This makes
whose fire magic keeps the clan safe. the Sparrow lifestyle of honorable poverty extremely
easy to achieve; the clan itself is one of the poorest in
Dragonfly Clan: Sometimes called the “gatekeepers Rokugan. An offshoot of the Crane Clan from the fifth
to the Dragon Clan,” the Dragonfly Clan’s Tonbo fam- century, the Sparrow are noted storytellers.
ily act as intermediaries between the reclusive Dragon
and the rest of Rokugan. Tortoise Clan: As magistrates of Slow Tide Harbor,
the Tortoise Clan preside over one of the most noto-
Falcon Clan: The keen-sighted bushi of the Toritaka rious havens for smugglers, criminals, and gaijin in the
family specialize in finding and, if necessary, defeating Empire. This association taints them in the eyes of oth-
ghosts and other hostile spirits. er samurai, but the Kasuga family has been permitted
and instructed to treat with gaijin by Imperial decree
Fox Clan: Once the followers of Shinjo who remained
for centuries, and they will not shirk their duties.
behind in the Empire, the Kitsune family of the Fox
Clan is noted for its scholarship, its knowledge of the Wasp Clan: Just recently founded by the famed boun-
medicinal properties of plants, and the subtle magic of ty hunter Tsuruchi, the Wasp Clan boasts the finest
its shugenja. The Kitsune family also has an alliance of archers in the Empire. Still establishing itself and on
sorts with the kitsune fox-spirits of their homeland, and unfriendly terms with both the Scorpion and the Lion,
some say that the samurai have intermarried with the the Wasp Clan is seeking allies…and may have found
spirits many times over the generations. one in the form of the Mantis Clan.

18
1
CHAPTER

Playing
the Game
A roleplaying game is a group storytelling exer-
cise that enables groups of people to devel-
op their own characters, stories, and worlds
together with their friends. Unlike those in a
competitive game, the rules of a roleplaying
game are intended first and foremost to help
people tell stories and have fun. The rules for
the Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying Game
(commonly abbreviated simply as “L5R” or "L5R
RPG") are written with a certain degree of tech-
nical precision, but they should be understood as
tools to facilitate storytelling rather than as restric-
tions that must be applied “correctly” in all cases.
Remember, as long as everyone is having fun,
you’re playing the game properly!

Goals of the Game


The Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying
Game is a game of samurai drama. Set
in the fictional land of Rokugan, it draws
inspiration from real-world literature and
history. The primary characters of the game
are samurai, who are torn between their
personal desires and their sworn duties.
They must often contend with cunning court
intrigues, deadly armed conflicts, and
dangerous supernatural creatures.
CHAPT ER 1: PL AYING THE G AME

Players Ring Dice WHAT IS THE GAME


MASTER'S ROLE?
Most of the participants in the game, termed players, The six-sided dice are Ring dice, which reflect a char-
portray a person within the world of the game. Each play- acter’s core personality and fundamental aptitudes. In The game master is the
group’s access point to
er controls one such character (called, intuitively enough, text, they are represented with the  icon. the world of Rokugan,
a player character, or PC). Players decide the history, and the final arbiter on
beliefs, desires, and quirks of their player characters;
make decisions for their characters during the game; and
Skill Dice many matters of story
and rules. However,
control and portray their characters when roleplaying. The twelve-sided dice are Skill dice, which reflect a that doesn’t mean that
character’s training in a particular area of expertise. the players have no say
PCs also have numerical values, such as rings and skills, over the story—balance
that reflect their aptitudes, training, and traits. These val- Skill dice provide slightly more potent outcomes than and respect for one
ues help them undertake tasks within the story. Ring dice, and in text they are represented with the another are key. The
 icon. players should listen

The Game Master Dice Symbols


to the GM, and the
GM should listen to
the players, too, and
To aid in the telling of the story, one participant serves incorporate their ideas
as the game master (GM) instead of as a player. The The custom dice in Legend of the Five Rings contain as appropriate.
game master is the group’s guide, who invents the four unique symbols. These symbols appear in various
combinations on the dice, and are summarized below: If this is your first time
frame of the story and presents the PCs with challeng- playing or running a
es, decisions, and opportunities. The game master is roleplaying game, make
not the sole architect of the story, but this person does Success () sure to read Chapter 7:
have a particularly important role in helping the PCs to The Game Master (see
The success symbol () represents the sum total of page 281) for insight on
interact with the world. They portray the other inhab- how both the GM and
the character’s effort when they attempt to complete a
itants of Rokugan (non-player characters, or NPCs), the players can collabo-
task. More  symbols mean a higher chance of carry-
describe each scene to the players, and act as an arbi- rate to make the game
ing out the task successfully. the best it can be!
trator in the infinite number of situations that can arise.

Explosive Success ()


Custom Dice The explosive success symbol () represents a particu-
larly effective part of the character’s effort. In addition to
The Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying Game uses counting as a  symbol, it gives the character a chance
two types of custom dice: six-sided dice and twelve-sid- to roll an additional die and decide whether to add its
ed dice, both of which have faces depicting symbols result to the check—potentially letting them succeed at
for this game. After a player rolls these dice, the sym- a task they normally couldn’t overcome. See  under
bols shown inform narrative outcomes and give players Step 6: Resolve Symbols of Kept Dice, on page 24.
cues that can inspire them as they tell a story together.
Opportunity ()
Roll and Keep The opportunity symbol () does not contribute direct-
IS STRIFE BAD?

The core mechanic for rolling dice in Legend of the Five ly to success, but it lets the character resolve an oppor- No. Feeling emotions is a
Rings employs a concept called roll and keep. When tunity—a chance to do or notice something useful that natural part of existence.
a character attempts to do something in the story, if is unrelated to their goal at the outset, or expand on Strife, represented on the
the outcome of their effort is uncertain, that character’s dice by the icon of a styl-
their success with an additional effect or story detail. ized single cherry blossom
player rolls a number of dice and then chooses to keep petal, embodies positive
a subset of those dice based on their character's apti- Strife () and negative emotions,
tude to the task. This activity (rolling and keeping dice as well as the uncertainty
to find out the consequences of a character’s effort) is The strife symbol () represents an upwelling of emo- that accompanies ambiva-
tion. Strife does not affect success or failure on the lence. Players should think
called a check.
of it first and foremost as
Only results on kept dice affect the outcome, which check but instead accumulates over time, potentially a barometer that helps
gives the player the power to decide which of the avail- leading to outward displays of emotion that can alter them gauge their char-
able results will make for the best story in each situa- the direction of the story for good or for ill. The more it acter’s emotional state,
tion. Many die faces include both positive and nega- accumulates, the harder it is to maintain the decorum meant to help inspire
their roleplaying.
tive symbols, and a player must decide if the benefits expected of a samurai—a key struggle in the genre of
of keeping such a result outweigh the cost. samurai drama.

21
C H APT E R 1 : P L AY I N G T H E G AME

Making a Check Step 2: Determine Details


A check is resolved through rolling a number of Ring dice
When a character attempts something at which they (  ) and Skill dice (  ) in a dice pool, and then selecting
CHECKS IN TEXT
could fail, they make a check. The check is the core results (the sets of symbols contained on the upright fac-
mechanic for L5R, and has two parts: es of the dice) from the pool. Use the following process
When a check appears
in print, it often has a
to determine which skill and ring the character will use:
preset skill, ring, or TN, 1. Assemble a number of  and  dice to form a
along with recommend- dice pool, then roll these dice. 1. Determine Skill Group: First, the GM and play-
ed modifiers that apply er decide which skill group (see page 142)
to certain situations. 2. Select a number of dice equal to the charac-
would best allow the character to accomplish
If it allows any ring, it ter's ring value to keep, then resolve the posi-
the intended task.
will not list a ring; if it tive and negative effects of the symbols on all
allows any skill within kept dice. 2. Determine Skill: Next, the GM and player
a group, it will list a determine the body of knowledge that applies
group rather than a
A check always has one of two outcomes: the char- to the specific activity—this provides the specif-
specific skill.
acter succeeds or the character fails. Additionally, it ic skill (see page 142) to use. The GM can call
If a check in print can include secondary outcomes, such as opportunity for a particular skill based on circumstances,
allows multiple rings, it
(), which can be used to add extra narrative flourish- or the GM can ask the player to propose a skill
will sometimes be fol-
lowed by parentheses es, and the accumulation of strife (). and offer a rationale for its relevance.
containing ring names 3. Determine Approach: Next, the player provides
and values, such as
“(Air 3, Water 1)”. These
When to Make a Check a brief description of the methods their character
values are the TNs to The GM gets to decide when it’s worthwhile for a char- employs to reach their goal. The GM selects the
use those rings.
acter to make a check. As a rule of thumb, the GM elemental approach (see page 142) that corre-
should consider the following questions: sponds to reaching the original goal by the spe-
cific methods, or asks the player to pick a meth-
$$ Could the character fail? od. If multiple approaches are viable, the player
should offer a rationale for the one they choose.
$$ Could the character possibly succeed?
MATCHING RINGS Each ring corresponds with a set of methods that
WITH SKILLS
$$ Are the consequences of success and failure relate to the following concepts and are explored
interesting and meaningfully different? in more detail in Chapter 3: Skills (see page 140):
The Five Rings are
important philosophical If the answer to any of these is “no,” the GM proba- –– Air: Grace, cunning, precision, subtlety
concepts in Rokugan, and bly shouldn’t ask for a check. The character can simply
thus each ring says some-
–– Earth: Resilience, patience, memory, calm
succeed at their action or fail at it, and the GM can
thing important about a
work with the player to narrate the results in the story.
–– Fire: Passion, invention, candor, ferocity
character.
–– Water: Flexibility, awareness, efficiency, charm
Rather than reflecting
measurable mental or Steps of a Check –– Void: Mysticism, intuition, instinct, wisdom
physical traits of a char-
The six steps in the following section provide a more 4. Determine Target Number of Successes: Final-
acter, each ring represents
an aspect of a character’s technical breakdown that the GM can reference if ly, the GM selects a target number of successes
personality, and their they need to know when effects occur or how spe- (commonly referred to as a TN). It is the number
inclination toward certain cific abilities interact. The GM performs all steps for of successes the character must achieve to
ways of thinking, acting,
non-player characters. succeed at the check. Except in special circum-
and using the tools that
their skills provide them. stances, the GM should announce the TN of the

Thus, each ring can func-


Step 1: Declare Intention check to the player at this point (see When to
Reveal or Conceal the TN, on page 297).
tion alongside any skill,
When a player declares that their character is attempt-
but each pairing reflects
a different strategy and ing a task with dramatic stakes where failure is a pos-
thus leads to a different sibility, the GM may call upon that player to make a Step 3: Assemble and Roll Dice Pool
outcome. check. The player should make their intention behind
the check clear, describing what they want their charac- The player assembles the dice pool. The player picks up
ter to achieve if they succeed at the check. a number of Skill dice (  ) equal to the character’s ranks
in the selected skill and a number of Ring dice (  ) equal
to the value of the character’s ring that is associated with
the selected approach. Then, the player rolls all of these
dice. After they are rolled, the dice are called rolled dice.

22
Summary of a Check

Declare Intention
Kat wants to have her character Sakura leap from one rooftop to
When a character tries to accomplish something
another while pursuing a suspicious figure fleeing the scene of a crime.
in the story, the GM may ask for a check. That
She describes her character’s reckless approach to the task—catching
character’s player clearly explains what they want their
up is the most important thing right now!
character to accomplish.

Determine Details The GM decides that since she’s trying to overwhelm a foe with a burst
Based on the description, the GM decides which of speed, the check will use Sakura’s Fire Ring and Fitness skill. The TN
skill and ring the player will roll, along with the target of the check would be 2 normally, but in this case there is fresh snow on
number of successes (TN) needed. the rooftop. The GM raises the TN to 3 to account for this circumstance.

Assemble and Roll Dice Pool Kat’s character has a Fire Ring of 3, so she
First, the player picks up a number of Ring dice (  ) picks up 3 Ring dice (    ).
equal to their character’s ring the GM chose. This can +
be found on the character sheet under Rings.
Kat’s character has 1 rank of the Fitness skill,
Next, the player picks up a number of Skill dice (  ) so she picks up 1 Skill die (  ).
equal to their character’s ranks in the skill the GM chose.

Then, the player rolls all of the dice together. Kat picks up and rolls these dice:

After rolling, Kat has the following results:


Modify Rolled Dice
The GM and player apply any effects that modify the Her character’s Keen Balance advantage allows her to reroll two dice. She
dice, such as advantages and disadvantages that chooses the  showing a blank result and the  showing an  result.
cause rerolls.
Her new results are:

Kat needs 3 success or explosive success


symbols ( / ) to succeed. She only has
Choose Kept Dice
2 so far, but if she chooses the , she can
The player selects a number of dice up to their ring to keep. roll an extra die to possibly generate the
extra  she needs. She chooses to keep
the highlighted dice and drops the others.

Resolve Symbols on Kept Dice  First, Kat rolls the extra die
from her explosive success ()
symbol. The result is  , so she
The player resolves symbols from results of kept dice in +
opts to add this die to her roll.
the following order to determine the check's outcome:

Explosive Success (): For each , the play-


$$

er may roll 1 extra die of the type on which it


 Kat generated 1 strife (), so she records that on
Sakura's character sheet next to her composure attribute.
appears and choose to keep or drop it.
$$ Strife (): The character receives 1 strife per .  Kat has 1 opportunity (). She uses it to add a detail: the chase
unnerves the target, which will help in questioning them later.
$$ Opportunity (): Spend  to add story details.
$$ Total Successes ( / ): If total  and  equal  Kat has a total of 3  and/or , each of which provides a
or exceed the TN, the character succeeds. success, so she reaches the target number to succeed at the
 check. Sakura vaults across the gap and tackles her target!
C H APT E R 1 : P L AY I N G T H E G AME

1. Apply Advantages and Disadvantages: The


Sample TNs description for each advantage or disadvantage
specifies circumstances when it applies—as long
The target number of successes (TN) gener- as the GM also agrees. Advantages are applied
ally ranges from 1 to 8, but it can potentially before disadvantages.
be even higher. The GM chooses this num- 2. Consolidate Advantages and Disadvantages:
ber based on the innate difficulty of the task, After applying advantages and disadvantag-
the complexity of the objective the player es, the player consolidates them. An applied
described, and the appropriateness of the distinction advantage cancels (and is canceled
method the character is using. by) an applied adversity disadvantage; pas-
sions and anxieties cancel each other out in
$$ TN 1: An easy task for most people,
the same manner. Canceled advantages and
such as carrying half one’s weight or
disadvantages have no effect on the resolution
finding a misplaced item.
of the check.
$$ TN 2: An average task, such as jumping
3. Resolving Advantages and Disadvantages:
a ten-foot ditch or recognizing some-
The player resolves each advantage or disad-
one in disguise.
vantage (the effects are described in this page’s
$$ TN 3: A difficult task, such as scal- margin notes and in Chapter 2). Only one
ing a cliff without rope or finding a advantage or disadvantage of a given category
well-hidden object. (distinction, adversity, etc.) can be resolved.
$$ TN 4: A very hard task, such as div-
ing safely from the top of a waterfall
or recalling someone’s exact words Step 5: Choose Kept Dice
years later. After applying advantages and disadvantages, the play-
$$ TN 5: An extremely hard task, such as er looks at the results and decides which of the rolled
stirring a demoralized army to action or dice will become kept dice (those used in the resolu-
hurling someone using only one hand. tion of the check) and which will become dropped dice
ADVANTAGE AND
(those that will be discarded with their results unused).
DISADVANTAGE $$ TN 6: An extraordinary task, such as
CATEGORIES The player must choose at least one die to keep, and
discerning someone’s whereabouts
can choose to keep a maximum up to the value of the
from the mud on their sandals or felling
The most common ring the character used for the check. The player then
categories have the a tree with a single ax blow.
removes all dropped dice.
following effects: $$ TN 7: A heroic task, such as outwres- Then, any effects that modify kept dice are resolved.
Distinction: The player tling a troll or naming all of one’s ances-
chooses up to 2 dice to tors in order.
reroll. Step 6: Resolve Symbols
Adversity: The player
$$ TN 8 (or higher): A legendary task, on Kept Dice
such as shattering stone with one’s bare
must choose 2 dice After the dice pool has been reduced to only kept dice,
with results containing hands or outwitting a Fortune.
the player resolves all symbols contained in the results of
 or  symbols to
reroll. If they fail, they those dice. Symbols are resolved in the following order:
gain 1 Void point.

Passion: After resolving


Step 4: Modify Rolled Dice 1. : For each  symbol, the player rolls one
additional die of the same type as the one con-
the check, the character During this step, any effects that modify rolled dice are
removes 3 strife. taining the  symbol. After rolling a die this way,
applied. The most common way that rolled dice are the player chooses whether it will be kept (on
Anxiety: After the modified is through advantages and disadvantages top of their current results) or dropped. If the die
check, the character (see page 35), helpful and hindering quirks innate
receives 3 strife. The is kept, the player resolves its result in addition
to a character. to the results on the rest of the kept dice in the
first time this occurs
each scene, they gain 1 After the player rolls the dice, the player and GM dice pool (including further  symbols).
Void point. have a chance to decide which (if any) of the charac-
ter’s advantages and disadvantages apply to the check. 2. : For each  symbol, the character receives
Each advantage and disadvantage can be applied only 1 strife. The character’s player should record
once per check by any character. any strife their character receives on their

24
CHAPT ER 1: PL AYING THE G AME

character sheet. Strife has no immediate effect,


but can have effects as it accumulates (see Table 1–1: Dice Faces
Using Strife on page 29).
NUMBER RING DIE  SKILL DIE 
3. : The player may spend 1 or more  sym-
bols to resolve opportunities. Opportunities 1 Blank Blank
are meant to prompt the player and the GM
2  Blank
to invent and add extra effects, additional
details, and narrative flourishes that occur inde-
3  
pendently of a check’s success or failure (see
Using Opportunity on page 28). 4  
4. : If the sum total of  and  symbols equals
or exceeds the target number of successes of 5  
the check, the character succeeds at the objec-
6  
tive declared in Step 1: Declare Intention. If
this total is less than the TN of the check, the 7 – 
character fails at the proposed feat instead.
Additionally, count up any  and  beyond 8 – 
the ones needed to reach the TN: these are
bonus successes, which are important for some 9 – 
checks that account for a character’s margin
of success. 10 – 

Narrating a 11 – 

Check’s Results 12 – 

A check is a mechanical activity, but it shouldn’t be


devoid of roleplaying, as it presents excellent opportu- Finally, the player gets the chance to interpret the
nity to describe what your character is doing in the story.  they spend as part of the check: they should indicate
If the character succeeds on the check, their player whether they want to spend it in a manner that steers
gets to narrate the outcome of the success, within the the narrative in a direction interesting to them, in a way
confines of the intention described in Step 1: Declare based on an example option appropriate to the ring
Intention. For example, if a bushi (warrior) character used on the check, or in a manner provided by a spe-
succeeds at an Attack action their player declared and cial ability. Sometimes, the GM must approve or con-
inflicts a lethal blow on their foe, the player can narrate tribute to the interpretation of , such as if the charac-
how their character slashes upward with their katana, ter notices an important detail that might change the
cutting through the robes of their adversary and into story or remember a relevant fact of the setting that
the soft flesh beneath. their player does not know. Unspent  simply goes
By contrast, if they fail, the player can still describe unused and has no effect.
their strike, but instead give a description of why they Table 8–1: Examples of , on page 328, provides
failed. The GM might offer a reason as well—perhaps a number of examples players can employ in a wide
the foe’s evasive footwork made them harder to hit array of circumstances and use as guidelines for cre-
than usual! ating new ways to spend . The GM and players alike
The player can also think about the emotions that are encouraged to use these for inspiration, or when
any strife they incurred represents, and may narrate they simply want a quick option to keep play moving.
this if they desire. Depending on the circumstances,
the  they accumulated as part of the Attack action
could represent their character’s grief at being forced
to cut down a loved one at their lord’s order—or it
might simply be the dull ache of killing yet another
anonymous stranger in a world that does not seem to
care how much blood is spilled. The narrative context
of the check is key, and should define how players and
GMs interpret a character’s strife.

25
C H APT E R 1 : P L AY I N G T H E G AME

Additional Rules for Checks


help the character succeed more thoroughly. On the
other hand, if the character fails, the amount by which
they fell short of the target number of successes (their
The following rules apply to all checks or to specific shortfall) can reveal the depths of their failure.
types of checks, as described within the entry.
Determining Bonus Successes
Assistance If a character succeeds on a check, their bonus success-
While a samurai must face some tasks alone, allies can es are the number of  and  symbols in excess of the
frequently offer critical assistance during major chal- target number of successes for the check.
lenges. When one character dedicates significant effort
to helping another (rather than accomplishing a sepa- Determining Shortfall
rate goal), use the rules for assistance.
If a character fails a check, their shortfall is the TN of
the check minus the sum of their  and  symbols.
Using Assistance
During Step 3: Assemble and Roll Dice Pool, if a char- Checks to Resist Effects
acter making a check receives assistance from one or
more others, the character making the check rolls one While most checks targeting other characters are made
additional  per assisting character who has 1 or more against static values (such as the target’s vigilance attri-
ranks of the skill in use, and one additional  per assist- bute), sometimes the target can make their own check
ing character who has 0 ranks in the skill in use. Each to resist. When a character succeeds at a check to
player whose character assists must describe how they resist an effect (whether the effect comes from a check
are helping, and the GM decides if they can contribute. or another source), they avoid some or all of the ill
At the GM’s discretion, during Step 4: Modify effects they would otherwise have suffered.
Rolled Dice, up to one advantage from one assisting For instance, if one character succeeds on a check
character can be applied. to hurl an opponent off a parapet, the target gets a
Then, during Step 5: Choose Kept Dice, a charac- chance to resist with a skill check using an elemental
ter making a check with assistance may keep up to 1 approach based on their chosen method of resistance.
additional die per assisting character. If the target succeeds on the check to resist, they are
Finally, during Step 6: Resolve Symbols on Kept able to avoid being thrown off the parapet, perhaps
Dice, each assisting character may choose to suffer 1 catching the edge or barely maintaining their footing.
UNIVERSAL strife to negate 1  symbol on the check. When setting the TN for a check to resist the effects
TIEBREAKER of another check, if the effect does not have a listed
TN, the GM should come up with a TN for the check
Many effects explain Limits on Assistance to resist. If they want to take the other character’s effort
how to break ties
The GM is the final arbiter of whether a character’s into account, they can use the acting character’s bonus
between characters, but
sometimes there might attempt to help is actually useful enough to grant this successes to modify the resisting character’s TN.
be a stalemate if these benefit, as well as whether there is a maximum number
values are tied as well.
In these cases:
of characters who can feasibly assist. Given the logis- Competitive Checks
tical challenges it can have (physical space, proximity,
• PCs supersede NPCs relevant expertise, etc.) and the mechanical potency If the GM needs to compare the performance of two
of assistance, GMs should feel free to allow only one or more characters on similar checks where neither is
• Adversary NPCs clearly resisting the other, each character’s bonus suc-
supersede minion NPCs character to assist in many circumstances.
cesses (or shortfall) provide this information. The char-
If there is still a tie,
the GM should use a Bonus Successes acter with the most bonus successes (or smallest short-
fall, if all failed) performs the task best, most quickly, or
randomized means
of breaking the tie,
and Shortfall most efficiently (or least badly, in the case of failure).
such as flipping a For example, if two characters are engaged in a
Sometimes it is important to know the amount by
coin or having the footrace and both succeed on their check, the one with
which a character succeeded at a task (or the extent of
tied parties play more bonus successes finishes first. If three characters
rock-paper-scissors. their failure). While success and failure are sometimes
are preparing poems for a poetry contest but all fail,
all-or-nothing, at other times, the degree of one’s suc-
the character with the smallest shortfall on their check
cess or failure is relevant. Successes in excess of the
writes the least embarrassing of the bad poems.
target number of successes (bonus successes) might

26
CHAPT ER 1: PL AYING THE G AME

Minimum TN $$ Add a Kept Die: When an effect says to add a


kept die, after Step 5: Choose Kept Dice, place
MINIMUM VALUES

The TN of a check cannot be reduced below 1 by modi- one die of the noted type in the pool set to the When an effect reduces
fiers. A TN 0 check would be a simple task for most, such specified result. It is a kept die. a value, it is assumed
to reduce it to a
as carrying one quarter of one’s weight or remember- $$ Cancel a Kept Die: When an effect says to minimum of 0 unless
ing a cousin’s name. This sort of task should not require cancel a kept die, after Step 5: Choose Kept stated otherwise. One
a check, but circumstances might make it hard enough Dice, choose one die in the pool as instructed. noteworthy exception is
to warrant a check. Conversely, if circumstances make a the target number (TN)
It becomes a dropped die.
of checks, which can
check utterly trivial, but it is important to know a charac-
only be reduced to a
ter’s bonus successes, the GM could call for a TN 0 check. minimum of 1.
Other Dice Modification
Modifying the Dice Pool Other common dice modification terms include:
Any effect that changes the contents of the dice pool
(dice, results, or symbols) after it has been rolled is
$$ Alter: When an effect says to alter a die, pick it
considered a die modification effect. A die can be up and set it to a different result as instructed
modified multiple times (including by the same form of by the effect.
modification) if multiple different effects instruct it. Each $$ Negate: When an effect says to negate a sym-
effect is fully resolved before resolving a different effect. bol, ignore that symbol when resolving the check
(but not other symbols from the same result).
Specific Results $$ Reroll: When an effect says to reroll a die, roll it
Some effects refer to a die set to or showing a specific again and use the new result.
result. This refers to a face on the die with exactly the $$ Reserve: When an effect says to reserve a
specified symbols (e.g. "add a  set to an   result" die, remove it from the roll, then set it aside
or "reroll a die showing a blank result"). or record its result. The die will be used for a
future roll as described by the effect.
Results Containing Symbols
Other effects refer to a die result containing a spec- Simultaneous Dice Modification
ified symbol. This refers to any result that includes at
least one instance of that symbol (e.g. "reroll a die con- If two or more effects would modify a die, the player who
taining " or "alter a die to a result containing "). made the check resolves them in the following order:

1. NPCs' effects (and other effects the GM controls)


Maximum Modification
2. Other player characters’ effects
If a single effect instructs a player to modify two or more
3. Their own character's effects
dice, they cannot select a single die to modify multiple
times this way. If the number of dice specified by the If a single player controls multiple such effects, that
effect exceeds the number of eligible dice in the pool, player chooses the order in which they resolve.
the player modifies as many eligible dice as possible.

Adding and Canceling Dice


Targeting and Checks
Some checks directly affect one or more other charac-
Resolve these effects in the listed order: ters. These characters are considered targets of that
check. If an effect specifies it, objects and positions in
$$ Add a Rolled Die: When an effect says to add
space can also be the target of a check.
a rolled die, during Step 4: Modify Rolled
Dice, place one die of the noted type in the
pool set to the specified result. It is a rolled die.
$$ Cancel a Rolled Die: When an effect says to
cancel a rolled die, during Step 4: Modify
Rolled Dice, choose one die in the pool as
instructed. It becomes a dropped die.
C H APT E R 1 : P L AY I N G T H E G AME

EXAMPLE USES OF 

Beyond the narrative


Using Opportunity Scaling  Effects
uses discussed here, Opportunity () is a symbol that gives players and The opportunities described on this page can
an extensive list of
GMs a cue to add narrative flair and secondary effects generally scale for effect, becoming more
example uses of  can
be found in Table 8–1: to the tasks the characters attempt. It can be spent to efficacious if additional  symbols are spent
Examples of  (see add details that make the story more vivid or exciting. on them. For uses of  whose specific effects
page 328). Players Like most improvisational tools,  can be extremely are spelled out in text, scaling is indicated
and GMs can use these with a “+” symbol, and opportunities in text
effective when used to build upon details that already
directly, or as inspira-
exist in the scene. The only thing  cannot do is without the “+” symbol do not scale.
tion for their own new
opportunities. change a success to a failure, or vice-versa—though it If the cost of an opportunity is “+,” the
can add to or mitigate the consequences of succeed- character may spend 1 or more  when acti-
ing or failing, at the GM’s discretion. vating the effect. The effect then scales; the
In terms of procedure, the player should suggest the more  that was spent to activate it, the more
detail or addition they wish to include with the , then impactful it becomes.
the GM should either approve it or pose an alternative
option that fits within the story.
A character can only resolve a given opportunity For instance, if a courtier fails a check to convince their
effect once per check, but many opportunities can scale lord to cancel a planned pilgrimage after an assassina-
with additional  symbols spent. tion attempt, spending Air  to have spoken very subtly
might prevent their lord from realizing they were trying
 as a Descriptor to exert influence at all. Alternatively, speaking very cau-
tiously with Earth  might convince their lord that they
One way to use  is to add a descriptive adverb to the worry too much, but their intentions are good—perhaps
verb that describes one’s activity in a check, based on the lord will invite their loyal retainer along for the pilgrim-
the ring used for the check: age, so that they can see how safe it is and relax a bit. In
both cases, the character still failed, but their opportunity
$$ Air : Act precisely, stealthily, or subtly
added an interesting, advantageous twist.
$$ Earth : Act cautiously, calmly, or thoroughly Many of the example uses of  (see page 328)
$$ Fire : Act creatively, fearsomely, or noticeably are thematically linked to these concepts, and players
should feel free to use them for inspiration.
$$ Water : Act efficiently, flexibly, or gregariously
$$ Void : Act instinctively, inscrutably, or sagely  as a Narrative Tool
Adding one of these descriptors can significantly The other fundamental way to use  is to add a narra-
change the way a character’s activity (the check) actu- tive detail that surfaces as the character undertakes the
ally occurs in the narrative. The GM should consid- task—a new piece of information that their character
er how the character’s descriptor might change notices which can create interesting new avenues for
how their success or failure is received, what the story. The type of detail a character can add varies
consequences it has, or what new narrative by ring along the following themes:
opportunities it might create.
$$ Air : People’s strengths and weaknesses,
emotions, small details in objects
$$ Earth : The character’s own memories, history
of people and objects, defensive positions
$$ Fire : People’s motivations, flashes of insight,
conspicuous absences
$$ Water : Environmental dangers, presence of
useful terrain or objects, escape routes
$$ Void : Supernatural presences, flashes of
premonition, instinctive warnings
CHAPT ER 1: PL AYING THE G AME

Using Strife Narrating Strife


NERVOUS HABITS
AND TELLS

Rokugani ideals state that samurai are to maintain prop- Players should feel free to narrate the emo- During character
creation, a player will
er decorum at all times, keeping their emotions under tions their characters are feeling as strife
determine one or more
a tight leash except in specific situations. However, accumulates, as well as how it may affect their tells that show the char-
samurai are people, and thus they still experience the characters’ mannerisms and behavior. Emo- acter is under stress.
challenges, joys, frustrations, and sorrows that make up tion—both bearing it stoically and expressing These are the sorts of
small details that help a
life. These myriad emotions are represented by strife. it openly—is an important aspect of drama.
character feel vivid, and
Players are responsible for tracking how much strife While samurai drama often revolves around
players can use them to
their characters have accrued. The GM should track stoic characters, stoicism is at its most com- flavor their descriptions
strife for NPCs, though many NPCs use simplified rules pelling when characters are feeling some- when their characters
for strife (see page 309). thing very deeply inside. Even giving small accumulate strife or
unmask.
descriptions of their characters’ current emo-
Accumulating Strife tional states can help players engage with
this theme. Of course, not all strife needs to
Even those raised under the strictest standards of be narrated—it is up to the players to decide
emotional self-control or committed to finding spiritual when strife feels impactful or important.
peace risk cracking from time to time under the pres- Strife from checks can represent run-of-
sures of rule, courtly life, love, or warfare. In the game, the-mill frustration, the joy of a challenge,
strife can come from many activities. old pa dredged up by the present situation,
fear, shame, rage, passion, hope, the thrill of
Strife from Checks victory, or any number of other feelings that
heighten the character’s emotional state.
Strife is in all things, and therefore a common face on
both  and  is a result containing  . When kept
dice contain  symbols, the character receives strife as
part of their effort.
Removing Strife
Strife from Other Sources Characters naturally remove some strife as time pass-
es. At the end of each scene (a self-contained event
Characters can also acquire strife from other sources. or events in an ongoing adventure) each character
A character might receive strife when they encounter removes strife until it is equal to half their composure,
their anxieties (see page 99), face challenges related rounded up (unless it is already lower).
to their ninjō (see page 38) or giri (see page 39), Strife can be reduced further through restful con-
are affected by an ability used by another character, templative activities including the pursuit of one’s
or respond to the twists and turns of the story they ninjō (see page 38), pursuing a passion (see
inhabit. Players can even choose to inflict strife on their page 99), meditating, or attending a tea cere-
own characters (and the GM can inflict strife on their mony. Such activities can potentially remove all
characters as well) when it makes narrative sense, such of a character's current strife.
as in response to fear, longing, desire, or other strong Finally, a Compromised character can
emotional stimuli. remove all of their strife by unmasking,
briefly lowering their façade to act
Comparing Strife upon their emotions openly (see

to Composure page 30).

Each character has a composure attribute (see page


36), which represents the character’s ability to with-
stand strife. As a character’s strife approaches that
character’s composure, they move toward an emotion-
al tipping point, at which point they become Com-
promised (see page 30).
C H APT E R 1 : P L AY I N G T H E G AME

Compromised Recovering from


Being Compromised
Although specifics vary by region and tradition, A character ceases to be Compromised when their
TIMING OF BEING
Rokugani culture at large idealizes a samurai who main- strife drops back to (or below) their composure. A
COMPROMISED AND
UNMASKING tains a stoic outward demeanor. Joys and sorrows alike Compromised character can always rid themself of all
are to be accepted with the same stern affect. How- of their strife through unmasking.
In structured time, ever, the truth of the matter is that no human being
while a character is
Compromised, they
can uphold this ideal perfectly all the time—without Unmasking
may unmask at the an outlet for their emotions, a character will eventually
Once per scene, while a character is Compromised,
beginning or end of become unfocused, distracted, and exhausted.
their turn. their player may choose to have the character unmask,

Becoming Compromised briefly expressing the true emotions beneath the guise
of a perfect samurai that society demands they main-
While a character’s strife is in excess of their composure, tain. Keep in mind that the character may stay Com-
the tumult of emotions that has built up causes the char- promised as long as their player deems it appropriate,
acter to become Compromised. While suffering this and can seek other ways to soothe their emotions, but
condition, they are at their emotional limit, which their these often take time. The act of unmasking gives a
player should roleplay through various subtle cues that character the chance to achieve immediate emotional
they are repressing accumulated emotion. clarity and openness, at the cost of potentially disturb-
ing the scene.
Effects of Being Compromised Unmasking is an outpouring of raw emotion: anger
at difficult circumstances or injustice, joy as a result of
A compromised character’s vigilance attribute (see success over harsh trials, mirth at a humorous occur-
page 36) counts as 1. Additionally, when making a rence, or despair at a tragic turn of events. Impor-
check, a Compromised character cannot keep tantly, the player never loses control of their charac-
dice containing  symbols (to a potential ter while unmasking, because the player chooses the
minimum of 0 kept dice). shape the character’s unmasking takes and the time
at which it occurs. The form of the unmasking should
be suited to the scene in which it takes place and
the various emotions that have led the character to
become Compromised.

Benefits and Risks of Unmasking


When a character unmasks, they remove all of their
strife. Then, the player roleplays the way in which their
character lets their façade fall, and the GM determines
any narrative and mechanical consequences this has.
Players and GMs can look to the examples of unmask-
ing in this section for inspiration, or invent their own to
fit the scene and the character.
Like any moment of vulnerability, unmasking
is a risk but also a chance to achieve things
one otherwise could not. Important
moments in a character’s life often
revolve around the incidents in
which they allow their façade
to slip, even briefly. Some-
times, this bared emotion even
allows the character to trans-
gress societal norms for an
CHAPT ER 1: PL AYING THE G AME

advantage or surpass their own limitations to pursue a Expose an Opening


goal they otherwise could not.
The character reveals a vital flaw in their argument,
They can also say and do things they normally
defenses, or position, often related to one of their dis-
couldn’t—and while such behavior might have a cost
advantages. Unmasking this way allows others to strike
in honor or glory (see page 37 for more on honor
at this weakness, reducing TN of the next check by a
and glory), a valid point raised in anger is still often
hostile character (as defined by the GM) that targets
valid. The GM should take this into account for the
the character to 1.
character’s checks during the remainder of the scene.
A character who rebukes their lord should suffer any
natural consequences for doing so (perhaps forfeiting Honor’s Challenge
honor or glory, and suffering potential narrative costs), The character can bear their indignities no longer,
but might also convince their lord to reconsider a and demands satisfaction by way of steel. The char-
foolish course of action. A character who reveals their acter must challenge an antagonist in the scene to a
secret love for someone beyond their station might duel (not necessarily to the death). The duel might be
suffer social repercussions but also catch that person’s fought immediately, or the participants might take the
attention, allowing them to begin a clandestine rela- opportunity to prepare for their battle.
tionship. A character who challenges a social superior
in anger might get that person to accept a duel they
Inappropriate Outburst
would normally refuse without consideration—though
of course, this too carries its own deadly risks. The GM The character says something out of line or com-
and player should consider the risks the act of unmask- mits a deep breach of etiquette, shocking onlookers.
ing entails in the scene, but also the unique possibili- Unmasking this way might let a character express a
ties it might create. vital argument forbidden by propriety or reveal some-
thing that society demands they keep within. However,
Example Ways of Unmasking to do so, they must usually forfeit glory equal to their
glory rank (a value equal to the tens digit of their Glory
Regardless of how the player decides to roleplay the attribute), or more, at the GM’s discretion.
unmasking, there should be narrative consequences
for it, usually both for good and for ill. Sometimes, the
Panicked Retreat
GM and player will need to work together to deter-
mine how best to suit the temporary slip of their com- The character departs the scene immediately, without
posure to the scene. regard for propriety. Unmasking this way might allow
The following are a few examples of ways a char- a character to run away from certain defeat and live
acter can reveal their inner emotions, but players are to fight another day. However, to flee from battle or
encouraged to invent other forms of unmasking based another scene with similarly high stakes, they must usu-
on their character’s personality and the circumstances. ally forfeit honor equal to their honor rank, glory equal
The GM should inform the player of any honor, glory, to their glory rank, or both.
or status their character might have to forfeit or stake
before the player commits to the course of action (see Rage
page 37 for more information on social attributes
and staking those attributes). The character fails to contain their fury, and they lash
out at people or objects around them. Unmasking this
Bend Principles way might let a character launch a first strike against an
unready foe or let them reinforce a threat by destroy-
The character does something that conflicts with their ing a nearby object. However, to act so violently in an
values, oaths, or view of right and wrong to bring about inappropriate context, the character must usually for-
the results they desire. Unmasking this way might well feit honor equal to their honor rank, glory equal to their
let a character implement a solution to a problem they glory rank, or both.
would normally never consider, but to do so, they must
usually forfeit honor equal to their honor rank (a value
equal to the tens digit of their total honor attribute), or
more, at the GM’s discretion.

31
C H APT E R 1 : P L AY I N G T H E G AME

The Character Air


The Air Ring represents a graceful, cunning, and pre-
Characters possess a number of major mechanical attri- cise personality. This approach is subtle or layered with
butes and abilities that reflect their upbringing, natural nuance, as the character moves too nimbly or speaks
affinities and weaknesses, accumulated wisdom, and too obliquely to be pinned down. A character with a
training, which are described in the following pages. high Air Ring value is eloquent, physically and socially
deft, and shrewd. Depending on the task, characters

The Five Rings can use an Air approach (approach names are called
out in the subsequent section in bold) as follows:
Each of the five rings represents a character’s natural
inclination toward a certain approach to solving prob- $$ When making art, an Air approach can allow
lems. Rather than reflecting exclusively mental and a character to refine a work of art, improving
physical parameters, a character’s rings are primarily an its finer points, honing a piece’s details, or
expression of their propensity toward certain ways of stripping away unnecessary things to enhance
seeing the world and facing challenges. the work.
When making a check using a given ring, a player $$ When studying and learning, an Air approach
rolls a number of Ring dice (  ) equal to their value for can help a character to analyze information so
that ring. For player characters, each ring has a rank that they can observe and understand details,
between 1 and 5, though some exceptional beings detect subtle nuances, and unravel layered
might possess values beyond this range. implications and hidden meanings.

$$ Rank 1: The character is considered weak or $$ When communicating, an Air approach can
deficient in this area. They are likely to seek the enable a character to trick others by using
help of other characters when attempting tasks subtlety and cleverness to imbue their words
using this ring’s approach, or they prefer alter- with multiple meanings or obscure the truth.
native methods for achieving their goals. It allows a character to convince others of a
statement, deceive (by direct dishonesty or
$$ Rank 2: The character is considered average
omission), imply secondary intentions, and
or normal in this area. They are able to rely
control what information others have. While not
on themself when attempting tasks using
always malicious, it is always manipulative on a
this ring’s approach, but they are unlikely to
certain level.
attract any special notice—good or bad—from
other characters. $$ When fighting, an Air approach allows a charac-
ter to feint, using their precision and grace to
$$ Rank 3: The character is considered above
exploit flaws in their foe’s attacks and defenses.
average in this area. Other characters are likely
It focuses on maintaining control over the char-
to take notice when the character takes this
acter’s body at every turn. Rather than trying to
approach to accomplishing their goals.
crush opposition head-on, it seeks opportuni-
$$ Rank 4: The character is considered exception- ties to excel or gain an advantage that demand
al in this area. Other characters are impressed exact positioning and timing.
at the character’s effectiveness in this sphere. $$ When engaging in a trade, an Air approach
$$ Rank 5: The character is considered legendary allows a character to con others, getting some-
in this area. To others, this character appears to thing for nothing. It lets a character inflate the
epitomize the essence of a given approach. prices of items they are selling, convince others
$$ Rank 6+: Superhuman ability, such as that to trust them with resources, and steal.
possessed by the Oracles or powerful oni. The
character’s prowess in this sphere is nearly unri-
valed. PCs cannot normally attain these values.

32
Fire
The Fire Ring represents a ferocious,
direct, and inventive personality. This
approach is explosive and intense, as the
character works to get results no matter the
cost to themself or others. A character with a high
Fire Ring value is likely to be passionate, curious, phys-
ically quick, occasionally brusque, and a fast learn-
er. Depending on the task, characters can use a Fire
approach (approach names are called out in the subse-
Earth quent section in bold) as follows:

The Earth Ring represents a character’s aptitude for $$ When making art, a Fire approach allows a
taking a steady, thorough, and grounded approach to character to invent new things by drafting and
problems. This approach is cautious and considerate, creating wholly new works, turning raw materi-
as the character works to get results without suffering als into novel pieces of art.
losses or taking unneeded risks. A character with a high
Earth Ring value is likely to be physically tough, mentally $$ When studying and learning, a Fire approach
resilient, and reliable. Depending on the task, characters lets a character theorize on the subject, cre-
can use an Earth approach (approach names are called atively and energetically attacking the problem
out in the subsequent section in bold) as follows: to come up with solutions none have consid-
ered before. It allows a character to extrapolate
$$ When making art, an Earth approach lets a how things might be currently and in the future,
character restore damaged items. This governs connect the dots, and identify absences in an
the character’s ability to repair items and per- argument, idea, or environment.
form upkeep. It also covers related tasks, such $$ When communicating, a Fire approach lets a
as archival and storage.
character incite others, engaging with their
$$ When learning and studying, an Earth approach existing emotions and desires rather than
lets a character recall information from mem- their raw logic. The Fire approach can also be
ory. An Earth approach is not useful for wild used to induce others to act on those emo-
leaps of logic or intuition, but it is necessary tions and desires in spite of obvious pitfalls or
for creating a solid foundation of known factors justified fears.
and facts upon which to build conclusions. $$ When fighting, a Fire approach relies on a burst
$$ When communicating, an Earth approach of power, speed, or agility to overwhelm a
helps a character reason with other people, challenge in one fell swoop. Such tactics are
getting them to think rationally, set aside their aggressive, no-holds-barred displays of force
emotions, and remember duties and responsi- that crush defenses and frighten onlookers. A
bilities. It is also used for instruction, keeping Fire approach to battle can be observed in the
subordinates in line, and maintaining order. burst of adrenaline to fight or flee, the kiai of
an attack move in the martial arts, or the battle
$$ When fighting, an Earth approach lets a charac- cries of a host of Matsu Berserkers.
ter withstand attacks until the perfect moment
to strike back. Any task can be accomplished $$ When engaging in a trade, a Fire approach
with tenacity in sufficient measure. An Earth allows a character to innovate so that they can
approach to a martial task is often cautious, develop new technologies and methods, create
moving slowly to avoid pitfalls or exhaustion. new products and services, and obtain resourc-
es in new ways.
$$ When engaging in a trade, an Earth approach
lets a character produce what they need via
physical toil. It can also let a character harvest
resources from their environment, create an
inventory, manage goods, and store them safely.

33
Water
The Water Ring represents
an adaptable, powerful, and
perceptive personality. The
approach is balanced and
reversible, as the character works
to achieve results without overex-
tending themself or underperforming.
A character with a high Water Ring value
is naturally affable, physically flexible, obser-
vant, and easygoing. Depending on the task,
characters can use a Water approach (approach Void
names are called out in the subsequent section in bold)
The Void Ring represents a centered, unflinching person-
as follows:
ality; it can also represent the “flow state.” By letting go
$$ When making art, a Water approach helps of the suffering inherent in one’s ego-driven desires, the
a character adapt a work—making works samurai can transcend earthly limitations. It is the enlight-
function in new ways by transforming them, ened approach, accepting the nature of all Elements, yet
translating works of literature and art into other allowing no one Element to dominate. A character with
languages or media, and reducing works to a high Void Ring value is likely to be spiritually sensitive,
their component parts to serve as raw materials wise, and introspective. Depending on the task, charac-
for a new piece. ters can use a Void approach (approach names are called
out in the subsequent section in bold) as follows:
$$ When studying and learning, a Water
approach allows a character to survey their $$ When making art, a Void approach enables
surroundings, giving them character informa- a character to attune themselves to a work,
tion about their environment and wider cir- understand the purpose of a work, know why
cumstances. It can be used to identify things the work has appeared before them, and sense
within an area of expertise, detect broad the work’s supernatural qualities, if it has any.
trends and currents, or find out how things $$ When studying and learning, a Void approach
work in a practical sense. allows a character to sense disturbances in
$$ When communicating, a Water approach helps their surroundings that would be imperceptible
a character charm others, gregariously building to most. This represents a character’s “sixth
a rapport with them. It allows a character to sense,” giving them hunches about supernatu-
instill desires and emotions in others, uncover ral phenomena and even future events.
the existing desires of others, and win peo- $$ When communicating, a Void approach lets a
ple’s sympathy. character enlighten others, challenging their
$$ When fighting, a Water approach lets the core beliefs, causing them to reassess their deci-
character shift to make the circumstances and sions and actions. It can be used to get others to
surroundings work for them. It seeks the path reconsider desires or break free from powerful
of least resistance for greatest efficacy. Those emotional states or mystical manipulation.
taking a Water approach in battle seek to redi- $$ When fighting, a Void approach enables a char-
rect incoming energy rather than expending acter to sacrifice their defenses, safety, or even
energy of their own. intentionally suffer physical harm to accomplish
$$ When engaging in a trade, a Water approach their goals. The character moves instinctively,
allows a character to exchange resources or in tune with the rhythm of the cosmos. Without
labor of one type for another. This helps the direction by any conscious thought, they do what
character acquire items and services efficiently is necessary for success, no matter the cost.
and at a low cost. $$ When engaging in trade, a Void approach
allows a character to subsist, living in harmony
with their environment and finding ways to
make the most out of very little without disturb-
ing their surroundings.

34
CHAPT ER 1: PL AYING THE G AME

Skill Ranks Miyamoto Musashi


Skills represent a character’s training in a particular art.
When making a check using a given skill, a player rolls a
on Mastery
number of Skill dice (  ) equal to the number of ranks Legend of the Five Rings owes a great deal
their character has in that skill. For player characters, to the real world historical writings of Miya-
skill ranks have a value between 0 and 5, though cer- moto Musashi, a famous Japanese sword
tain supernatural beings might possess skill ranks that master. The Book of Five Rings (c. 1645) is his
fall outside of this range. martial and philosophical manual, and offers
insights on fighting and how these apply to
$$ Rank 0: This represents a lack of formal train-
life more generally.
ing. The character has only a cursory under-
Interestingly, Musashi did not write his
standing based on limited direct experience.
account until decades after his legendary career
$$ Rank 1: This represents the beginner or ama- as a duelist. Further, reflecting on his success in
teur level. The character has taken their first youth, he describes how he did not reach the
steps in formal education on the topic and has underlying truth of martial arts until late in his
grasped the rudimentary elements of its study. life, decades after his last known duel. Despite
$$ Rank 2: This represents the apprentice or initi- achieving the height of his demonstrated fight-
ate level of study. The character has begun to ing ability early in his career, he felt that his
delve into the deeper nuances of their art. understanding of martial arts—and, by exten-
sion, all other arts he learned—was incomplete
$$ Rank 3: This represents professional training.
until he had spent another twenty years study-
The character has enough theoretical under-
ing and reflecting.
standing and practical experience to go out
In this game, reaching Rank 5 in a skill is akin
into the world and use their skill to earn a living
to Musashi reaching his peak as a practicing
or serve their lord well.
duelist in his youth. It is an incredible achieve-
$$ Rank 4: This represents the advanced level of ment, but does not yet reflect full understand-
study. The character is called upon to invent ing of the art or the wider implications of the
new subfields within their area of expertise or idea of mastery itself. To achieve their greatest
train others in their art. They might be asked potential, a character must not only advance
to teach lower-ranking students within their their skills and rings, but also come to under-
dōjō or be given supervisory responsibilities by stand themself and their place in the world.
their lord.
$$ Rank 5: This represents so-called mastery of a
given skill, though in truth, it is just the begin-
ning of mastery. The character might become a Advantages and
sought-out teacher or champion of their specif- Disadvantages
ic field. And yet, greater mysteries always exist,
Advantages and disadvantages are intrinsic quirks of “YOU” THE PLAYER
to be pursued for the acquisition of secret tech-
a character’s body, mind, personality, or spirit. A char- AND “YOU” THE
niques, personal enlightenment, and a greater CHARACTER
acter is assigned several of these at character creation,
understanding of the wider world.
but they can also acquire more during play as a result Character abilities such
$$ Rank 6+: Ranks beyond 5 represent what of narrative events or through certain circumstances as advantages and
humans term enlightenment on a given matter, (such as suffering particularly grievous Critical Strikes, techniques are written
or a degree of supernatural knowledge that as described on page 269). Each advantage and dis- in second person for
exceeds human limitations. Powerful kami, clarity.
advantage is assigned to the specific ring to which it
Elemental Dragons, oni, and other such beings most often pertains. The most common categories of As the player, you make
of vast wisdom and experience might possess advantages and disadvantages are distinctions, pas- all decisions for your
skills of rank 6 or higher. Player characters can- character, who does
sions, adversities, and anxieties, and a character is
what is described in the
not normally purchase their skills to this point assigned at least one of each of these during the pro- ability within the fiction
with experience points, but might be able to cess of character creation. of the game.
reach it by extraordinary means. For more details, see Advantages and Disadvan-
tages, on page 99.

35
C H APT E R 1 : P L AY I N G T H E G AME

Spending Void Points


ROUNDING
Derived Attributes
When a player spends a Void point for an effect, they
When a formula results Derived attributes are numerical values that are deter-
in a fraction, round up are encouraged to offer a brief explanation about why
mined by a character’s ring values and other decisions
to the nearest integer. their character chooses to draw a line at that moment
made at character creation, and they can be altered
and what parts of their character’s core beliefs and
over the course of play.
motivations factor into it.
Void points can be spent in a number of ways, as
Endurance described below:
Endurance represents a character’s physical stamina
$$ Seize the Moment: A samurai should know the
and will to fight on despite fatigue. A character’s endur-
right moment to act, but sometimes, even the
ance is equal to their (Earth Ring + Fire Ring) x 2.
hand of fate must be nudged by bold action.
While making a check, during Step 3: Assem-
Composure ble and Roll Dice Pool, a character may spend
Composure represents a character’s capacity to take 1 Void point to roll one additional Ring die
on mental and emotional strife without becoming (  ) and subsequently keep one additional die
unsettled. When a character’s strife exceeds their com- during Step 5: Choose Kept Dice.
posure, they become Compromised, as described on $$ Shattering Parry: When faced with death, a
page 30. A character’s composure is equal to their samurai must sometimes accept terrible losses
(Earth Ring + Water Ring) x 2. to survive. When trying to survive a critical
strike, a character may spend 1 Void point
Focus to dramatically intercept the attack with their
weapon to increase their chance of survival,
Focus represents the speed with which a character
potentially sacrificing the weapon in the pro-
reacts to known threats. When determining which char-
cess as described on page 270.
acter acts first in a structured scene by making an Initia-
tive check (see page 256 for more on Initiative checks), $$ Techniques and Other Abilities: Certain tech-
a character’s focus is often taken into account. A charac- niques and other character abilities require
ter’s focus is equal to their Fire Ring + Air Ring. spending a Void point to activate.

Vigilance Gaining Void Points


Vigilance represents a character’s wariness and gen-
Void points are gained through facing adversity, for
eral ability to perceive threats in all spheres. A charac-
without struggle, there can be no triumph. Charac-
ter’s vigilance sets the target number to catch them off
ters can gain Void points in a number of ways, most
guard, as well as the TN to deceive, mislead, or other-
of them representing moments in which the character
wise use rhetoric to manipulate them when they aren’t
faces adversity and is galvanized to succeed by it. A
actively scrutinizing others. A character’s vigilance is
few common instances include:
equal to their (Air Ring + Water Ring) / 2.
$$ After failing a check on which one of their

A HERO’S RESOLVE
Void Points adversities was resolved (see Resolving Advan-
tages and Disadvantages, on page 24).
Void points are a resource that characters can spend
In works of samurai fic- to surpass their normal limits, exert extra effort, or acti- $$ Once per scene, after one of their anxieties
tion, force of will is often caused their strife to rise (see Resolving Advan-
vate certain special abilities. A character begins the
a deciding factor at cru-
game with Void points equal to half their Void Ring, tages and Disadvantages, on page 24).
cial moments. Void points
can be spent to tap into rounded up, and can accrue a maximum number of $$ After choosing to be affected by a complica-
that spirit of heroism, Void points equal to the value of their Void Ring. If a tion that the GM (or the controlling player)
helping characters per- character’s current Void points equal their Void Ring,
severe in situations that introduced into the scene (see page 39).
they cannot gain further Void points.
seem insurmountable. $$ After the GM conceals the TN of a check from
the players (see When to Reveal or Conceal
the TN, on page 297).

36
CHAPT ER 1: PL AYING THE G AME

Honor, Glory, and Status by the required number of points (to a minimum of 0).
Then, the character undertakes the deed.
FORFEITING AND
STAKING ATTRIBUTES
BELOW 0
Samurai dramas focus on characters’ internal conflicts
as much as external ones. While external foes and chal- Staking Social Attributes A character whose
lenges frequently drive the plot, a samurai’s principal attribute is lower than
Sometimes, a character has nothing to put on the line but the amount they would
battle is often fought within their own heart.
their honor, glory, or status, and they must take a risk and need to forfeit can still
In the Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying Game,
hope the dice fall favorably. In these cases, the character do the deed in ques-
characters have three social attributes (honor, glory, tion. Characters with
stakes a social attribute on an event, such as swearing to
and status) to help players weigh the societal forces honor, glory, or status
protect someone, boasting of a future deed, or risking 0 can forfeit as much
constantly pulling upon a samurai.
a position on a gambit. This shows others that they are as they desire—the
serious, and can help win people's support or trust when state of their faith in
Value and Rank convincing them might otherwise be impossible. Bushidō, reputation, or
social standing cannot
A character’s honor, glory, and status attributes each have If a player decides to stake their character’s social sink any lower!
a value between 0 and 100. When an effect calls for a char- attribute on something, they and the GM should note
However, a character
acter’s honor, glory, or status rank, the rank is determined the amount staked and the conditions under which the
cannot stake honor,
by the tens digit of the value (or 10, if the value is 100). character loses their stake. If these occur for any rea- glory, or status they do
Shosuro Makoto has an honor value of 28. There- son, the attribute decreases by the staked amount. not have.
fore his honor rank is 2. He has a glory value of 31.
Therefore his glory rank is 3. Honor
Honor represents a character’s personal investment in
Increasing Social Attributes
the concept of Bushidō and that character’s belief that
These three attributes can increase over the life of a they are upholding the values it entails.
character, usually via an honor, glory, or status award Honor increases when a character makes a hard
from the GM. See the section beginning on page 300 choice in the name of Bushidō, and decreases when a
for recommendations on ways social attributes increase. character acts in opposition to these values, loses faith
in their code, or stakes their honor on an oath that they
Decreasing Social Attributes break. A high or low honor attribute results in a char-
acter gaining virtue advantages or flaw disadvantages
Any of these three attributes can also decrease over (see Table 7–2: Honor Scores, on page 302).
the life of a character. Rather than being arbitrated by
GM GUIDANCE ON
the GM, a decrease to a social attribute always occurs Glory SOCIAL ATTRIBUTES
because the character’s player chooses to forfeit or
stake it to achieve some end the character desires—or Glory represents society’s view of a character’s success Chapter 7: The Game
because their player feels that it is good storytelling. in their mandated role. It reflects the reputation they Master has resources
have as an effective agent of their lord, as well as a for GMs to use social
Decreasing any of these attributes should be a con-
attributes during the
scious choice on the part of the player, not a penalty general consensus on how they uphold Bushidō.
game.
imposed by the GM. Glory rises from a character’s heroic deeds, and
decreases when a character disparages Bushidō, lets If a character’s honor or
glory increases above
Forfeiting Social Attributes their reputation suffer, or stakes it on a boastful claim
64 or falls below 30,
they fail to fulfill. A high or low glory attribute results in they begin to receive
To perform a dishonorable, inglorious, or sacrilegious a character gaining fame advantages or infamy disad- advantages or disadvan-
deed, a character must forfeit honor, glory, or status, vantages (see Table 7–3: Glory Scores, on page 304). tages as described in
reflecting the fact that the character is deliberately these tables.
disregarding the Code of Bushidō, damaging their Status
reputation, or abdicating political responsibility. The
GM should inform the character’s player of the amount Status is an attribute that reflects a character’s social
of honor, glory, or status their character must forfeit standing, based on both their political sway and the
before a proposed deed takes place, giving the player mandate of the Celestial Order. Status changes infre-
the chance to rethink their character’s actions (even if quently; instead, it is mostly used by the GM to mea-
this requires “rewinding” the scene by a few seconds). sure the comparative social standing of the PCs and
If the player decides to make the forfeit, they various NPCs, as well as by the PCs to know the proper
reduce their character’s honor, glory, or status value etiquette they should use to interact with a given NPC
(see Table 7–4: Status Scores, on page 305).

37
C H APT E R 1 : P L AY I N G T H E G AME

Ninjō (Desire) If this represents a significant sacrifice on the character’s


part, setting aside their ninjō for honorable reasons can
and Giri (Duty) also result in an honor award, as described in Increasing
Social Attributes, on page 37.
Each character has two primary motivating factors:
However, ninjō can also be a source of peace for a
their ninjō and their giri. These are chosen at character
character. After a character spends a downtime or nar-
creation, and are tools to help inform the character’s
rative scene (see page 247) pursuing their ninjō, they
developing story. Both the GM and the players can call
remove all their strife.
upon characters’ ninjō and giri (and the inherent con-
flicts that arise between the two) to introduce compli-
cations into the story.
Resolving Ninjō
Emotion is a living thing, and so ninjō is not cast in
Ninjō stone. It can evolve as the character develops over
the course of the story. If a character ever reaches a
Each character has a ninjō (“human feelings”), which
SAMPLE NINJŌ moment of true clarity on the matter of their ninjō
represents a personal desire, ideal, or question that
through the events of the narrative, whether this means
Create a future with is core to the character. When a player selects a nin-
discarding it, embracing it wholly, or reinventing it,
(or for) the one you love jō, they are selecting the reason why their character’s
they should be changed by the experience. If the char-
honor will be tested over the course of the story—the
Become the greatest acter’s belief in the Code of Bushidō is strengthened or
duelist in the Empire thing that could cause the character to forsake the
undermined, their honor attribute might increase
ideals of Bushidō or their obligations to their
Create a secure future or decrease to match.
lord, clan, and Emperor.
for a small group
The problems that ninjō can cause during the
Create a work of art campaign should be problems that the player
that wins eternal praise
wants the character to face (even if the charac-
Take revenge on a ter does not)—and they will have the chance to
powerful foe for the introduce these problems into their character’s life.
death of a loved one

Protect a group from a Choosing Ninjō


particular enemy
At its core, ninjō is a personal desire or question, and
Found a new school
players select it for their characters during Ques-
Uncover lost secrets tion 6 of character creation (see page 90).
vital to combating a
Ninjō can be broad (“accumulate esoter-
specific foe
ic knowledge of the spirits”) or specific
Discover your (“wreak vengeance on the person who murdered
true parentage
my teacher”), but it should be something that the PC
Achieve a particular will grapple with in the scope of the campaign. Further,
rank within your clan it should be concrete enough that the player is clear
Become the on how to interact with it, even when the GM
captain of a ship isn’t providing specific plot hooks for it.
While it will not be central all the time, if a
player is unsure of how to pursue their
ninjō in play over several game
sessions, they should speak with
After resolving a character’s ninjō, their player
IMPOSSIBLE DESIRES the GM and decide on a new nin-
should consult with the GM to choose a new ninjō for
jō they can more directly engage.
Some especially exis- the character—likely one that stems from the events
tential ninjō might not that resolved the old one. Alternately, their player
be resolvable at all, at
Ninjō and Strife might decide that this is a good end point for the char-
least not within a single acter’s narrative arc, and they should retire this char-
It is always hard to act counter to one’s own personal
lifetime, and this is
feelings, even when following the orders of a superior or acter to create a new PC. Of course, dragging a hero
also acceptable as long
as the character has a adhering to an inflexible code. When a player wishes to out of peaceful retirement is a classic story beat, and
clear path to try to seek have their character act in opposition to their ninjō, they players can use the circumstances and plot twists to
their unachievable goal. give even venerable heroes a new reason to fight.
should receive 3 strife, or more at the player's discretion.

38
CHAPT ER 1: PL AYING THE G AME

Giri Complications NO LORD TO SERVE

Each character has a giri (“sworn duty”), representing Ninjō, giri, and the friction that can arise between the If the character has
the way in which they serve their lord. This is the theme two provide a great deal of fodder for roleplaying on no lord to serve due
or issue by which the player wishes to see their samurai to events in the story,
their own. Players should consider their characters' nin- their giri could become
rise and fall during the campaign. jō and giri when making choices for their characters, finding a new lord to
A player should consider how giri might sometimes and GMs should look at what their players chose when serve, or it could be
conflict with their character’s ninjō, as conflict between planning story arcs. Complications provide an addi- fulfilling the final order
personal feelings and duty is a recurring theme in tional, slightly more codified way for players and GMs
of their lord.
works of fiction about samurai. By engineering some to use these character motivations at the table.
friction between the two, a player gets to help set up A complication is a slight narrative turn or brief
the drama of their character’s story. Not every conflict moment that stems from one or more characters’ ninjō SAMPLE GIRI
between ninjō and giri needs to lead to grand tragedy, and/or giri. The GM can introduce a complication at
but the two motivations should sometimes be at odds. any time. Narratively, complications can be relatively Restore the reputation
mild or wildly melodramatic, depending on the tenor of your teacher’s dōjō
Choosing Giri of the story. Example complications could include: Invent a new weapon
that will give your clan
Drama in works of samurai fiction frequently arises when $$ Receiving a letter from a loved one the charac- an advantage
a noble samurai must choose between the orders of ter has not seen in some time
a flawed lord and their personal ideals, or because of Protect your lord (or
$$ Realizing that a masked enemy is, in fact, the other charge who ap-
an inner desire that they cannot fulfill while doing their pears in the campaign)
duty, even if the duty itself is not unjust. Sometimes, a character’s long-lost sibling
samurai is able to navigate these two perils; at other Capture a particular
$$ Encountering the haunting scent of a perfume
region of land held by
times, this ends in a death in battle or even seppuku, so often worn by the character’s deceased friend an enemy clan
that the samurai can resolve the two unfulfillable tasks. $$ Running into a character’s secret lover some- Persuade a powerful
Thus, in many campaigns, a character’s giri should
where the two cannot acknowledge each other leader to join your lord
revolve around fulfilling direct orders issued by their
lord. These orders can be broad (“win glory for the Lion $$ Spotting an obvious reminder of one’s unfulfilled Negotiate a trade agree-
Clan on the field of battle, wherever you find it”) or oath to bring the enemy of the clan to justice ment with a major ally

specific (“protect Kakita Asami as her yōjimbō”), but $$ Noticing a chance to pursue one’s desire or Gather information
they should be attainable and concrete enough that duty—at cost to the group’s current goal and use it to topple an
the player knows how to pursue them at any given enemy faction
$$ Being presented with an opportunity to pursue
time, even when the GM isn’t providing specific hooks. Keep a particular secret
one’s ninjō or one’s giri—but not both
If a player is unsure of how to pursue their charac- of your lord from
ter’s giri, they should speak with the GM and decide on becoming public
A player can also propose a complication for their
a new giri that they can pursue more directly. character, in which case the GM should give it due con- Maintain the reputation
or prosperity of a
sideration, then implement it if it makes sense and is
specific shrine
Resolving Giri not overly disruptive to the flow of the story. If a com-
plication does not fit into a particular scene, but the Attend to the needs of
As with ninjō, giri can change—though generally, it a particular kami
GM wants to use it later, the GM can ask the player to
does so based on the character’s narrative accomplish-
write it down and give it to them for later use. Retrieve a set of sacred
ments or the needs of their lord. If a character ever suc- artifacts for your clan
No matter who introduces it, each character can
ceeds at the task they have been assigned and receives
have only one complication per game session—though Assassinate specific
recognition from their lord for it through events in the
a character’s ninjō and giri can cause turmoil whenever members of an enemy
narrative, the character should likely receive a consid- faction
the GM and player see fit.
erable glory award (usually 10 or more) when their lord
recognizes their achievement.
If a player decides their character has definitively Resolving a Complication
failed in their giri, or has decided that their character is When the GM introduces a complication for a charac-
going to wholly abandon it, the character must forfeit ter, their player chooses one of the following: the char-
an amount of glory determined by the GM (usually 10 acter stoically accepts it, in which case there is no effect
or more). Assuming their daimyō accepts this or honors beyond the narrative results of the complication, or the
their request for a new duty, the daimyō should then character is deeply moved by the moment, in which
assign them a new giri (chosen by the player and GM). case they receive 3 strife and gain 1 Void point.

39
2
CHAPTER

Creating
a Character
The process of creating a character for the Legend of
the Five Rings Roleplaying Game not only provides
a set of numerical values, but also helps ground the
character deeply in the world. The most important
aspect of creating a character is not the mechanics
that represent their abilities, but rather their person-
ality, history, and ambitions. Samurai are not mind-
less warriors, despite the strictures the Code of
Bushidō places on their lives. They are flesh-and-
blood humans who possess an incredible zeal for
life, yet are expected to be perfectly at peace
with the prospect of death—and this contra-
diction can be difficult to navigate. They
grapple with anxieties, passions, fears,
and dreams. While creating a char-
acter mechanically, it is important
to consider and come to under-
stand this person’s identity,
their desires, their ideals, and
how they will struggle when
these collide.
CHAPT ER 2: CR EATING A CHAR ACTER

The Game of Part I: Core Identity CREATING NPCS

Twenty Questions (Clan and Family) While GMs certainly


can use the rules in this
chapter to create NPCs
Ever since the publication of its first edition in 1997, The first few questions will define your character in (non-player characters)
the Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying Game has general terms. if they wish, these rules
are more suited to the
used the Game of Twenty Questions to help players
1. What clan does your
creation of PCs (player
create the backgrounds and personalities of their char- characters). While this
acters. The game encourages you, the player, to ask
key questions about your character: What kind of char- character belong to? chapter contains many
useful ideas that could
shape the desires and
acter do you want to play? What is their history like? The seven Great Clans of Rokugan have ruled in the
motivations of NPCs,
What are their goals? What is the most important thing name of the Emperor since the founding of the Emer- NPCs created in this
in the world to them? ald Empire, and generations of legendary heroes have manner would be more
These questions are also used to build your charac- fought and died to maintain their power, prestige, and mechanically detailed
ter mechanically. As you answer the questions, you will than most of the exam-
influence. A samurai of one of the Great Clans is inher-
ples that can be found
be instructed to note down ring and skill increases, as itor to a weighty legacy. Each clan has an ancient and in Chapter 8: Non-Play-
well as other static values to be applied to your charac- unique assortment of beliefs and ideals it imparts upon er Characters.
ter. You will want to keep a running tally of your current its members, set forth by the clan’s founding Kami and
ring and skill ranks. developed over the centuries.
When creating a character, you should choose a
Character Sheets clan whose culture and values you find interesting from
a storytelling standpoint. Whether your character wish-
To get started, go to www.FantasyFlightGames.com.
es to rigidly adhere to these strictures, chafes under
There you can print out a copy of the Character Sheet
the pressure of them, or perhaps does a bit of both,
as well as the Twenty Questions Worksheet, both
clan identity is very important to who your character is
available to download. While you don’t need the char-
and how they exist in the world.
acter sheet or worksheet and can use a piece of paper
to record information about your character, having

Starting Values
those sheets makes the process eaiser.
When recording information on your character
sheet or the worksheet, it’s best if you use a pencil, as
When you begin to answer the Game of
your character will grow and evolve over the course of
Twenty Questions, keep in mind the following
the campaign. You will also need a ten-sided die for
baseline values for your character:
some tables.
Rings: 1 rank in each ring.
Limits on Skills
$$

Skills: 0 ranks in each skill.


and Rings
$$

$$ Honor: Determined in Question 3.


All characters begin with 1 rank in each ring and 0 ranks $$ Glory: Determined in Question 2.
in each skill. You cannot raise a ring or skill above rank
3 during character creation. If a choice would result in a
$$ Status: Determined in Question 1.
ring rising above rank 3 during character creation, then $$ Endurance: Calculated based on your
you must choose a different ring to increase instead, final ring values; (Earth + Fire) x 2.
as long as that ring would also not be increased above $$ Composure: Calculated based on your
rank 3.
final ring values; (Earth + Water) x 2.
Similarly, if a choice would result in a skill rising
above rank 3 during character creation, then you must $$ Focus: Calculated based on your final
choose a different skill that is not already at rank 3 to ring values; Fire + Air.
increase instead. $$ Vigilance: Calculated based on your
For more information on what the different ranks final ring values; (Air + Water) / 2.
mean for rings and skills, see page 22 in Chapter 1:
Playing the Game.

41
What does your
character know?
All Crab Clan characters have a greater
awareness of the following topics:

$$ You have a general awareness of the


politics within Crab lands. You can
name major family heads and other
leaders, and you know their respective
positions and allegiances.
$$ You can identify common Shadow-
lands creatures such as goblins, ogres,
and zombies, and you know how to
dispatch them.
$$ You grew up hearing stories and songs
CRAB CLAN CULTURE The Crab Clan of heroes who faced greater evils still,
In comparison with the Ring Increase: +1 Earth such as oni, but you likely have not
rest of Rokugan, the Crab Skill Increase: +1 Fitness encountered such horrors personally.
Clan is rowdy, direct to
Status: 30 $$ You know all too well the befouling
the point of rudeness, and
tends to look for pragmat- At the southern border of Rokugan stands a grim mir- Taint of the Shadowlands and how
ic solutions. Weakness of acle: the Kaiu Wall, stretching like a great puckered best to avoid it, and you can rec-
the individual is weakness scar along the landscape, its slate-gray blocks fitted ognize the advanced stages of this
of the group, for a single together seamlessly into a structure thirty feet thick unnatural corruption.
failure could bring down
and a hundred feet tall. To the south loom the blighted
disaster upon all. After
all, what honor or respite Shadowlands, the domain of the corrupted armies of
can be expected from the Jigoku, and to the north lie the lands of the Crab Clan, What Does Bushidō
foe when your enemies
are goblins, demons, and
the Wall’s crafters and defenders.
The Crab Clan are known as guardians and war-
Mean to Your Clan?
other monstrosities?
riors—slayers of monsters and protectors of the realm. Courage is the greatest virtue in Crab lands,
Even those who do not fight with weapons often wage for the Kami Hida placed an especially grave
war with their minds and words, securing key supplies task on the shoulders of his descendants.
for their clan, maintaining alliances to guarantee sup- The Crab safeguard the most perilous bor-
port of the Wall, or engineering new technologies to der of the Emerald Empire, warding it against
turn back the endless hordes of the Shadowlands. the terrible hordes of Fu Leng. The conse-
However, the Crab Clan’s task often weighs heavily quences of failure are obvious and dreadful
upon the disciples of the Kami Hida. They are known to contemplate.
as taciturn, battle weary, or even disillusioned. The glo- Rough and warlike, the Crab have never
ries of the battlefield are scant reward, and surviving truly adopted the strict social refinement the
to fight another day can seem its own punishment at other clans have come to demand of their
times when facing such a relentless threat. Still, these constituents, and so Courtesy is defined
people find ways to live and express them- somewhat more loosely for the Crab.
selves, and many revel in the small joys See page 301 for more information on
that life provides them. how these can affect your honor and glory.

42
CHAPT ER 2: CR EATING A CHAR ACTER

The Crane Clan CRANE CLAN CULTURE


What does your
character know? Ring Increase: +1 Air The Crane Clan’s political
Skill Increase: +1 Culture and cultural capital
are indistinguishable.
Status: 35
All Crane Clan characters have a greater As a result, refinement,
At the dawn of the Empire, after the Kami had fallen grace, and sensitivity
awareness of the following topics:
from the Celestial Heavens, they found themselves are not only the defining
plunged into a mortal world rife with cruelty and war. features of the Crane
$$ You have a strong awareness of the pol-
Clan, but chief among its
itics within Crane lands. You can name The Kami Doji—sister of Hantei, the first Emperor—
weapons. Those who fail
major family heads and other leaders, resolved to bring order to this savage realm. The in achieving excellence
and you know their respective positions embodiment of elegance and grace, Doji walked fall to obscurity and the
and allegiances. among the earthly peoples, calming them in the way silent shame of countless
fair weather calms a storm-tossed sea. Any Crane will unspoken criticisms.
$$ You know about the general state of gladly speak of how from her, humans learned writ-
political affairs between the clans. ing so they could record their achievements, politics
$$ You know proper etiquette and proto- to govern their affairs, economics and commerce to
col in the Imperial Capital. manage their wealth, and art and culture to lift them
from their lives of misery. Those she touched the most
$$ You have a working knowledge of the
became her devoted followers, the first samurai of the
high arts and the great masters of old
Crane Clan. Since that time, the Crane have become
(at least, among the Crane, for who
both the poets and the poetry of the Empire, at once
else truly warrants note?).
the swordsmiths and the duelists wielding the smiths’
blades. In every aspect of their lives, the Crane strive
What Does Bushidō for mastery in all things, an ideal that the other clans
can only hope to emulate.
Mean to Your Clan? The Crane Clan represents the pinnacle of
refinement in Rokugan, and its members are
Courtesy is of deep importance to you, as
known for their elegance, grace, and
your clan’s political power rests upon propri-
mastery of social customs. People
ety and the idea of others respecting their
expect them to be well-spo-
proper place—and your own.
ken, subtle in the extreme,
While many members of the Crane Clan
and unfailingly polite.
are deeply brave, Courage in excess can
lead to foolhardiness. Cool heads must pre-
vail, and sometimes that means avoiding a
fight altogether.
See page 301 for more information on
how these can affect your honor and glory.
What does your
character know?
All Dragon Clan characters have a greater
awareness of the following topics:

$$ You have a general awareness of the


politics within Dragon lands. You can
name major family heads and other
leaders, and you know their respective
positions and allegiances.
$$ You know more about monastic life and
traditions than most other clans, having
likely interacted with the Togashi Order
throughout your life.
DRAGON CLAN
CULTURE The Dragon Clan $$ Due to the rugged nature of your
homeland, you know how to properly
The Dragon Clan is Ring Increase: +1 Fire prepare mountain flora and wildlife for
diverse in its pursuits, Skill Increase: +1 Meditation human consumption.
even among members
Status: 30
of the same schools and $$ You have a working understanding of
traditions. However, it In an empire that usually prizes conformity and respect
many physical phenomena of the natu-
is unified in one philos- for tradition, the Dragon Clan is an enigma. Inspired
ral world, which others dismiss as unin-
ophy—a philosophy of by their mysterious founder, the Kami Togashi, the
commitment to the better- teresting or beneath their station.
Dragon place more emphasis than most of their fel-
ment of one’s self and,
therefore, the betterment
low samurai on the individual search for Enlighten-
of the whole Empire.
Despite the individuality
ment and expertise.
In the centuries since the Kami fell to earth, Togas-
What Does Bushidō
displayed by Dragon Clan hi’s followers have acquired a reputation for strange Mean to Your Clan?
samurai, they have been
behavior. Isolated by the mountains of their northern
united in their task to Sincerity—aligning one’s words and deeds with
watch over the Empire home and entrusted with watching over the Empire,
one’s intentions—is the greatest virtue to the
and record its history— the Dragon rarely participate as actively in the politics
which occasionally means Dragon Clan. In this way, its samurai may remain
of the Empire as other clans do—and when they do
coming down from their true to themselves even if they should fail.
intervene, it is often for reasons others can only guess
seclusion in the northern While members of the Dragon Clan take
mountains to experience
at. The secret of the Dragon is that they are guided by
their obligations seriously, they define Duty
the Empire face-to-face. their founder’s foresight, but even they do not always
and Loyalty somewhat differently than most
know what Togashi saw in his visions.
other samurai. To a Dragon, unquestion-
Togashi’s acolytes are known for their esoteric
ing loyalty is not loyalty at all, and Dragon
practices, innate curiosity, and veritable tradition of
Clan lords have been known to tolerate and
disregarding tradition—at least in the eyes of the other
even value criticism that others would see as
clans. People expect them to be insightful and hum-
grave insubordination.
ble, but also unpredictable, individualistic, and even
See page 301 for more information on
dangerous. They tend to look at problems from
how these can affect your honor and glory.
unexpected angles, and they seek solutions
others might not consider.

44
CHAPT ER 2: CR EATING A CHAR ACTER

The Lion Clan LION CLAN CULTURE


What does your
character know? Ring Increase: +1 Water The Lion Clan is war
Skill Increase: +1 Tactics itself, forged by the Kami
Akodo to crush the Em-
Status: 35
All Lion Clan characters have a greater aware- peror’s foes and enforce
Every samurai who lives in Rokugan measures courage, Hantei’s will absolutely.
ness of the following topics:
honor, and duty by the standard set by the Lion Clan. Lion Clan culture lives and
The Lion’s military is unrivaled, as there are no sharp- breathes martial achieve-
$$ You have a general awareness of the
ment and glory. It expects
politics within Lion lands. You can name er tacticians and no larger armies in all of Rokugan.
its children to meet force
major family heads and other leaders, This proud military heritage has earned the Lion Clan with force and death with
and you know their respective positions a place as the Right Hand of the Emperor, sworn to a smile—a hard path
and allegiances. protect him by serving as his personal guard and his for anyone to walk, and
standing army. harder still for any gentle
$$ You know military history quite well, In light of this duty, fear means nothing to Lion
soul. Even those among
especially as it pertains to the glorious the Lion Clan who are not
samurai. The threat of death only serves to embolden warriors often couch their
deeds of your forebears. them and bolster their courage, for there can be no achievements in martial
$$ You can identify and know the proper greater end than to perish in honorable combat. As terms that glorify combat
as the highest of arts.
purpose of all Rokugani battlefield veterans of countless wars, the Lion know that those
weapons, even if you are not personally who attack first shall be victorious. Above all, the Lion
proficient in their use. live, breathe, and die for the Emperor and Rokugan.
Perhaps the most well-known battlefield warriors in
$$ You know about most common military
the Emerald Empire, the samurai of the Lion Clan are
maneuvers and engagements, such as
famous for their ferocity, loyalty, and courage. People
feigned retreats, flank attacks, raids,
expect members of the Lion Clan to be warlike and
and sieges.
aggressive, often forgetting that the Kami Akodo was a
master tactician as well, more than capable of learning
What Does Bushidō from past mistakes and adapting new stratagems on
the battlefield.
Mean to Your Clan?
Honor is at the center of the Lion Clan’s view
of Bushidō, especially in the context of mar-
tial virtue. Its samurai learn to be the harshest
judges of themselves and their actions, for
without honor, the other virtues ring hollow.
This emphasis on Honor colors the clan’s
perception of Compassion, for only those
who comport themselves with Honor are wor-
thy of the Lion Clan’s benevolence.
See page 301 for more information on
how these can affect your honor and glory.
What Does your
character know?
All Phoenix Clan characters have a greater
awareness of the following topics:

$$ You have a general awareness of the


politics within Phoenix lands. You can
name major family heads and other
leaders, and you know their respective
positions and allegiances.
$$ You are familiar with the religious prac-
tices of Rokugan, such as the rites prac-
PHOENIX CLAN ticed by various priesthoods, the invo-
CULTURE The Phoenix Clan cations of shugenja, the Tao of Shinsei,
The Phoenix Clan values Ring Increase: +1 Void and even the traditions that existed
balance and the Tao of Skill Increase: +1 Theology before the Kami, such as the Fortunist
Shinsei far more than the
Status: 30 traditions of the Isawa and the animist
other clans, seeking har- practices of the Yobanjin who dwell in
mony between the mortal The Phoenix is a symbol of contradictions: explo-
sive power and great restraint, vast intelligence and the Great Wall of the North Mountains.
and spiritual realms, as
well as harmony within deep humility, immolating self-sacrifice and glorious $$ You know some of the most significant
themselves. The Phoenix rebirth. These entwined virtues illuminate the path of kami who reside in Phoenix lands by
know that every step
sends ripples throughout
Rokugan’s most mystical Great Clan, the keepers of the name from stories or perhaps even
the world, so one must Tao of Shinsei and caretakers of the Empire’s soul. personal interaction.
tread lightly and with a As the scent of incense wafts unseen to all corners $$ You know the names and locations of
peaceful heart, lest one’s of a shrine, so do the Spirit Realms overlap invisi-
actions sow disharmony all major shrines in Rokugan.
bly with the Realm of Mortals. The Phoenix mediate
or even chaos. Such
restraint, however, is between the worlds, appealing to the very soul of the
frequently viewed as
cowardice or passivity by
lands. Mountains collapse at their whispered requests,
dry rivers are convinced to flow again, plagues are
What Does Bushidō
the other clans. banished, restless ghosts are returned to slumber, and Mean to Your Clan?
crops flourish in previously barren wastelands. Never-
Righteousness drives the samurai of the Phoe-
theless, the Phoenix understand that even the purest
nix Clan in their pursuits, and they are willing
wish can have unintended and destructive conse-
to sacrifice themselves to ensure the right
quences if the elements are brought out of balance.
thing is done. They know that when samurai
Although others consider the Phoenix too hesitant in
do not govern their lands justly, the Heavens
their entreaties to the kami, few are foolhardy enough
themselves will voice their displeasure.
to test the Phoenix’s dedication to peace and harmony.
At the same time, some truths must not
The Kami Shiba and the priest Isawa were very
be revealed to the world, and some myster-
different sorts of leaders, one humble and the other
ies are not meant even for the other samurai
prideful, one calm in his wisdom and the other fierce in
clans. The Phoenix Clan takes a selective view
his brilliance. As such, people expect members of the
of Sincerity, certain in their belief that they
Phoenix Clan to be calm, thoughtful, and scholarly—
are the best equipped to protect and wield
but also passionate, and sometimes even arrogant due
certain knowledge.
to the vast knowledge their clan maintains. Both Shiba
See page 301 for more information on
and Isawa were deeply spiritual; this bond has defined
how these can affect your honor and glory.
the Phoenix Clan since its earliest days, and people still
expect members of the Phoenix Clan to be more
concerned with cosmic problems than
with matters mundane.

46
CHAPT ER 2: CR EATING A CHAR ACTER

SCORPION CLAN
The Scorpion Clan CULTURE

What does your


character know? Ring Increase: +1 Air The Scorpion Clan is a
Skill Increase: +1 Skulduggery group united by grave
purposes: to preserve
Status: 35
All Scorpion Clan characters have a greater life by killing, and to let
With six terrible words, the Kami Bayushi set his follow- others live out the ideals
awareness of the following topics:
ers in the newly founded Scorpion Clan on a dark and of honor by staining
dangerous path. Enemies loomed beyond Rokugan’s themselves via dishonor-
$$ You have a strong awareness of the able acts. Most Scorpion
politics within Scorpion lands. You can borders, but they also lurked within them. Bayushi swore
stake their humanity on
name major family heads and other to protect the Empire by any means necessary. Where one ideal of honor they
leaders, and you know their respective the Code of Bushidō tied the Emperor’s Left and Right can uphold or a personal
positions and allegiances. Hands—the courtiers of the Crane and the mighty bond that keeps them
legions of the Lion—the Emperor’s Underhand could still from slipping—while
$$ You know about the general state of others vanish completely
reach. To combat the liars, the thieves, and the traitors
political affairs between the clans. into their masks, truly be-
within the Great Clans, Bayushi’s followers would have to coming the villains others
$$ You are aware of the most substantial lie, steal, and cheat in turn. The weapons of the Scorpion believe them to be.
criminal cartels in the Emerald Empire, became blackmail, poison, and sabotage. The Scorpion
especially as their interests overlap or dirtied their hands so that others’ could remain pure.
conflict with those of the Scorpion Clan. Yet, in spite of—and perhaps because of—the clan’s
fearsome reputation, there is none more loyal than a
$$ You know the state of court matters in
Scorpion. In a clan of deceivers and manipulators, trust
the Imperial Capital.
is a hard-earned treasure to be cherished and guarded.
Betrayal is punished with swift retribution, the souls of
What Does Bushidō the treacherous forever bound into the horrific limbo of
the place known as Traitor’s Grove. Such fierce loyalty
Mean to Your Clan? is a small consolation, at least, given the dangerous but
vital role the Scorpion have played in the Empire from
Duty and Loyalty is the core tenet of the Scor-
the moment their Kami spoke his fateful words: “I will
pion Clan. They must be prepared to do—
be your villain, Hantei.”
and sacrifice—anything and everything in the
Bayushi’s successors are known for their insidious
service of the Empire.
skill at scheming, but also the potential benefits of
Honor and Righteousness fall by the way-
partnering with them—for without offering the proper
side for most Scorpion. While they are not
incentives to their allies some of the time, they could
wholly unimportant, obsessing over such mat-
never maintain their position as the great schemers
ters would make many vital tasks impossible.
of the Empire. People expect members of the Scor-
See page 301 for more information on
pion to be equal parts alluring and
how these can affect your honor and glory.
treacherous—and loyal only
to the Emperor.
C H APT E R 2 : C R E AT I N G A C H AR ACT ER

UNICORN CLAN
CULTURE The Unicorn Clan
What does your
Ring Increase: +1 Water
character know?
The Unicorn Clan values
novelty and flexibility of Skill Increase: +1 Survival
tradition in a way that
Status: 30
other clans do not. Mem- All Unicorn Clan characters have a greater
bers of the Unicorn Clan A thousand years ago, the Ki-Rin Clan rode out of
awareness of the following topics:
tend to be very receptive Rokugan, seeking to discover enemies hiding beyond
to new ideas and cultural the Emerald Empire’s borders. Their journey was $$ You have a general awareness of the
elements without fearing
arduous, and they found many strange and power- politics within Unicorn lands. You can
the loss or erosion of their
own, for they preserved ful threats. In defeating each one, the clan learned, name major family heads and other
a consistent culture changing its fighting styles, magical practices, and leaders, and you know their respective
throughout their long even philosophy. To survive, it was forced to adapt— positions and allegiances.
centuries of journeying. and overcome. After eight centuries of wandering, the
However, the Unicorn are
Clan of the Wind returned to the Empire as the Unicorn
$$ You know many basic facts of life about
driven by an ambition foreign lands, particularly the Burn-
that is not easy to quell, Clan. They wear fur, speak foreign tongues, and wield
strange weapons. Although they still revere the Kami ing Sands, the Ivory Kingdoms, and
and those seen as lacking
in drive are often pushed Shinjo, they have drifted far from the traditions and beyond, even if you have not journeyed
out by more aggressive
ways of the Emerald Empire. there yourself.
members of the clan.
Shinjo’s descendants are known for their skill as rid- $$ You know at least some foreign words
ers, skirmishers, and messengers, and many are trained from numerous languages, such as
in foreign fighting techniques or schools of philosophy. Nehiri, Ivindi, Myantu, and Portuga,
People expect them to be worldly and gregarious, and might fluently speak one of these
if perhaps a bit rough around the edges in polite or even a language wholly unknown in
Rokugani society, given that many members of the Emerald Empire.
the clan spend much of their lives ranging $$ You know the basics of mounted com-
across the wilds in Unicorn lands
bat tactics, along with various other
and beyond.
aspects of the proper handling and
care of horses.

What Does Bushidō


Mean to Your Clan?
Compassion is the most significant tenet
of Bushidō to the Unicorn Clan, for mutual
understanding and cooperation was the key
to the clan’s survival during its long journey
across the wider world. On this journey, mem-
bers of the Unicorn Clan met many people
with a wide variety of beliefs, cultures, and
values, and they became far more accus-
tomed to coexistence with strange outsiders
than are most Great Clan samurai.
The Unicorn Clan has had several centu-
ries to acclimate to the Emerald Empire, to
which it has returned, but the customs and
culture they adopted during their travels
remain a powerful force within the clan. These
customs often clash with the Rokugani con-
cept of Courtesy, and the Unicorn’s seeming
dismissal of Rokugani politeness is one of the
most contentious ways in which Shinjo’s clan
differs from those of her siblings.
See page 301 for more information on
how these can affect your honor and glory.
The Kaiu Family
2. What family does your
character belong to? Ring Increase: +1 Earth or +1 Fire
Skill Increases: +1 Smithing, +1 Labor
Even within a single clan, the customs and traditions of Glory: 40 Starting Wealth: 5 koku
the various families inform the creation of a wide vari- Monuments to the skill of the Kaiu are everywhere in
ety of characters. Once your clan is chosen, pick which the Crab lands, from the vast Kaiu Wall itself to the
of the clan’s families your character hails from. armor and weapons used by those who stand guard
over it. The Kaiu are responsible for the road network
Crab Clan Families supporting the fortifications, the siege engines that
crush and shatter the Shadowlands forces, and defen-
sive works spread across the interior of the Crab hold-
The Hida Family ings. There are very few problems that the Kaiu will not
try to solve with applied engineering.
Ring Increase: +1 Earth or +1 Fire
Skill Increases: +1 Command, +1 Tactics
Glory: 44 Starting Wealth: 4 koku The Kuni Family
The Hida family stands guard against the Shadowlands, Ring Increase: +1 Earth or +1 Void
its task an eternal vigil to keep the Empire safe from Skill Increases: +1 Medicine, +1 Theology
the dark forces of Jigoku. Like the family’s founder, the Glory: 40 Starting Wealth: 4 koku
Kami Hida, they are large and strong, tough and endur- No shugenja family is more feared in the Empire than the
ing, with little patience for the weaknesses of others. Kuni, who root out any sign of corruption. The Kuni use all
Their harsh duty makes the Hida exceedingly pragmat- means at their disposal in their hunt; even Hida samurai
ic, with little time for the polite fictions of court. They sometimes pale at their methods. The Kuni are willing to
bitterly bear the mocking condescension concerning delve into the secrets of the Shadowlands using study,
their manners and dress from the clans they shield. observation, and even dissection, even though such close
contact with its dark creatures risks their very souls.
The Hiruma Family
Ring Increase: +1 Air or +1 Water The Yasuki Family
Skill Increases: +1 Skulduggery, +1 Survival Ring Increase: +1 Air or +1 Water
Glory: 39 Starting Wealth: 3 koku Skill Increases: +1 Commerce, +1 Design
The Hiruma are the eyes and ears of the Crab beyond Glory: 39 Starting Wealth: 10 koku
the Wall, warning of attacks and staging spoiling raids The slim and loquacious Yasuki do not fit the Crab ste-
on the unending hordes, a desperate and unrewarding reotype, but they provide a vital service to their clan all
task. The warnings facilitated by the skills of the Hiruma the same. The first masters of markets in the Empire,
allow the Crab to respond quickly to any threat. Due to the Yasuki use the tools of trade and industry to keep
the ceaseless danger of the Shadowlands, the Hiruma the Crab armies well equipped and fed, even if it means
rotate between service beyond the Wall and service the occasional shady deal. The Yasuki trade network
inside the Empire, where they function as scouts, mes- extends throughout the Empire; members of this fam-
sengers, and yōjimbō (bodyguards). Slender and quick, ily can be found just about anywhere, looking for the
the Hiruma are a contrast to the staunch Hida, relying next arrangement.
instead on speed and precision.

49
Crane Clan Families The Doji Family
Ring Increase: +1 Air or +1 Water
The Asahina Family Skill Increases: +1 Courtesy, +1 Design
Glory: 44 Starting Wealth: 8 koku
Ring Increase: +1 Water or +1 Void The descendants of the Kami Doji have embodied the
Skill Increases: +1 Aesthetics, +1 Theology courtly arts and refined culture of the Empire since its
Glory: 40 Starting Wealth: 6 koku dawn. No major court is complete without its contin-
The Asahina seek harmony and peace in all things, gent of Doji spreading art, friendship, and—until very
embodying a philosophy of compassion and pacifism recently—generous gifts. For courtly news and rumor,
that sets them apart even from their fellow Crane. the Doji communication network is unrivaled. This net-
Through art and prayer, they seek to calm and soothe work aids the Doji in keeping ahead of their rivals as
the world around them and spread peace and accord much as their mastery of etiquette and art does. Rare
throughout the Empire. The Asahina know that only are those who can afford to offend the Doji; rarer still
through sacrifice can true peace be purchased, and it are those who do so more than once.
is a price they will pay to foster a better Empire.
The Kakita Family
The Daidoji Family
Ring Increase: +1 Air or +1 Fire
Ring Increase: +1 Earth or +1 Water Skill Increases: +1 Aesthetics, +1 Meditation
Skill Increases: +1 Fitness, +1 Tactics Glory: 44 Starting Wealth: 7 koku
Glory: 40 Starting Wealth: 7 koku While the Doji seek excellence in all things, the Kakita
The Daidoji are practical and hardworking Crane tend to focus on a single skill, which they strive to mas-
who compose the core of the clan’s standing mili- ter thoroughly. Whether this skill is the art of the sword
tary. Devoted to serving their clan, the Daidoji are its or of the brush, they pursue it with a singular focus. The
under-appreciated foundation—from the Iron War- graceful Kakita usually exhibit the beauty of the Crane
riors who comprise the foundation of the Crane Clan’s in a more athletic manner than do their Doji cousins.
armies, to the wary yōjimbō protecting the courtiers They are renowned as some of the finest duelists in the
of the Doji, to the Daidoji Trading Council responsible Empire, and graduates from their academy defend the
for providing the raw materials and wealth for Crane honor of the Crane with sharp finality.
arts. The selfless efforts of the Daidoji are fundamental
to the defense of the Crane and the advancement of
its goals.

50
CHAPT ER 2: CR EATING A CHAR ACTER

Dragon Clan Families The Mirumoto Family


Ring Increase: +1 Earth or +1 Water
The Agasha Family Skill Increases: +1 Fitness, +1 Tactics
Glory: 44 Starting Wealth: 5 koku
Ring Increase: +1 Fire or +1 Void The Mirumoto samurai are renowned for their unique
Skill Increases: +1 Medicine, +1 Smithing two-sword style, called niten or “Two-Heavens,” but
Glory: 40 Starting Wealth: 4 koku they are more than mere warriors. The Mirumoto over-
The Agasha are ever evolving, like the elements in nature. see the management and duties of the Dragon Clan,
Although founded by a pacifist, many of their techniques allowing the Togashi monks to pursue their eccentric
are invaluable in a fight. Once devoted to mysticism, paths on the way to Enlightenment. This makes the
they now combine it with the practical arts. Yet, perhaps Mirumoto surprisingly practical and down-to-earth,
change is only to be expected among the families of willing to step in and help their region’s peasants when
the Dragon. The Agasha have delved deeply into alche- needed. As the largest family of their clan, the Mirumo-
my, metallurgy, and medicine. They blend the practical to are the samurai whom most think of when they think
effects of chemistry and construction with the mystical of the Dragon, and they are the Dragon most often
effects of calling the spirits. It is a unique approach, and met outside of their lands.
one that leads to the occasional spectacular disaster.
However, they are rarely disheartened, as they often The Togashi Order
learn more from failure than they do from success.
Ring Increase: +1 Earth or +1 Void
The Kitsuki Family Skill Increases: +1 Fitness, +1 Theology
Glory: 45 Starting Wealth: 3 koku
Ring Increase: +1 Air or +1 Water More a monastic order than a true family, the Togashi
Skill Increases: +1 Government, +1 Sentiment Order welcomes anyone willing to embrace their teach-
Glory: 44 Starting Wealth: 6 koku ings and accomplish the challenges required to join, the
As befits the odd nature of their clan, even the courtiers first of which is finding one of the Togashi monasteries
of the Dragon are unusual: the samurai of the Kitsuki hidden high in the mountains. In truth, many of those
family are most well-known for their keen perception and able to find their way to the order were members of the
their investigative techniques that rely upon physical evi- order in a past life, returning to continue their training
dence. They bring to the physical world the same atten- and spiritual journey under the guidance of the Dragon
tion to detail that the Agasha bring to spiritual matters. Clan Champion. To the rest of the Empire, the order
A small family, they serve the Empire as magistrates and is known for skill with kōan (contemplative riddles) and
the Dragon Clan as courtiers. In both roles, their eye for the martial arts, as well as for the beautiful and mystical
deception and knack for finding the truth serve them well. tattoos that grant them supernatural abilities.
C H APT E R 2 : C R E AT I N G A C H AR ACT ER

Lion Clan Families The Kitsu Family


Ring Increase: +1 Void or +1 Water
The Akodo Family Skill Increases: +1 Meditation, +1 Theology
Glory: 40 Starting Wealth: 4 koku
Ring Increase: +1 Air or +1 Earth All samurai venerate their ancestors, but the Kitsu
Skill Increases: +1 Command, +1 Government bloodline, which mingled with otherworldly beings,
Glory: 44 Starting Wealth: 5 koku produces members who can part the veil to speak with
The Akodo are the master strategists and tacticians of them. The Kitsu are known for being traditional and
the Empire; no one understands war better. The Ako- conservative, even among the Lion. All Kitsu answer
do embody the discipline and control of the Lion Clan, to the ancestors. Those without the talent to speak
always weighing several options in order to strike at to spirits keep genealogies, tend to the tombs and
the perfect time. They are warrior-scholars seeking to shrines, and otherwise honor the noble dead.
understand war and battle in all its complexity; no part
of the martial disciplines is too small for their study The Matsu Family
and no part too large to evade their understanding.
“No army led by an Akodo has ever known defeat” Ring Increase: +1 Earth or +1 Fire
is a well-known adage, and no Akodo will allow it to Skill Increases: +1 Command, +1 Fitness
become untrue. Glory: 44 Starting Wealth: 5 koku
The Matsu are the courageous, implacable heart of the
The Ikoma Family Lion. As the largest family in the Empire, the Matsu fill
the ranks of the vast Lion armies. Founded by Lady Mat-
Ring Increase: +1 Air or +1 Water su, one of the greatest of all samurai in the early Empire,
Skill Increases: +1 Composition, +1 Performance they retain many matriarchal traditions in her honor,
Glory: 40 Starting Wealth: 5 koku including several elite military units that are exclusive-
The Ikoma are the finest storytellers in the Empire. ly female. The Matsu exemplify the harsh militarism of
Their proud voices extol the virtues of Bushidō and, Bushidō. Due to their numbers, they are the Lion most
thus, the Lion Clan. They serve as the memory not only well-known in popular culture. Fiery, honorable, unre-
of the Lion Clan, but of the Empire as a whole; no fact lenting: while the stereotype of the Lion exaggerates
is considered historical truth if it is not part of the Ikoma these traits, they are all part of the Matsu character.
histories. The Ikoma courtiers are the expressive face
of the Lion; their bards openly show the emotion Lion
samurai must hide. Boasts, tears, and stories are the
tools the Ikoma use to advance the Lion in the courts.
Phoenix Clan Families The Kaito Family
Ring Increase: +1 Air or +1 Void
The Asako Family Skill Increases: +1 Fitness, +1 Theology
Glory: 40 Starting Wealth: 4 koku
Ring Increase: +1 Air or +1 Fire The small Kaito family has been given the task of safe-
Skill Increases: +1 Culture, +1 Sentiment guarding the many shrines scattered across the Phoe-
Glory: 40 Starting Wealth: 5 koku nix holdings, from small altars sheltered by a single tree
The Asako are a quiet family, viewed as being content to massive sanctuaries. To fulfill their responsibilities,
to follow their scholarly and philosophical pursuits the Kaito have mastered the use of charmed arrows
while the Isawa drive the goals of the Phoenix. The and prayers to protect the shrines from spiritual foes,
Asako prize knowledge, but they prize wisdom even and practical archery to fend off more mortal dangers.
more, and they use their studies to advance their spir- The Kaito are rarely seen outside the Phoenix lands, as
itual evolution as well as their political agendas. The they have so many tasks within, but they occasionally
Asako serve as courtiers for the Phoenix, and they are make pilgrimages to visit other shrines.
much in demand as court scholars and tutors across
the Empire. The Shiba Family

The Isawa Family Ring Increase: +1 Earth or +1 Water


Skill Increases: +1 Meditation, +1 Tactics
Ring Increase: +1 Fire or +1 Void Glory: 40 Starting Wealth: 5 koku
Skill Increases: +1 Meditation, +1 Theology The Shiba family descends from the Kami Shiba and
Glory: 44 Starting Wealth: 5 koku provides the Phoenix with a champion, but it bent the
The Elemental Masters who sit on the Council of Five knee to the Isawa family early in its history and has duti-
are the true rulers of the Phoenix, and these masters fully served it ever since. The Shiba focus on keeping
are almost always drawn from the Isawa. As one of the the Phoenix Clan safe and rely first and foremost on
oldest shugenja families in the Empire, the Isawa have diplomacy before resorting to force. They are expect-
had centuries to learn to commune with the spirits ed to be learned in scholarly ways as well as in the war-
and the most effective ways to request their blessings. rior arts, and they understand the shugenja they serve
Some might confuse authority with arrogance, but at better than do most bushi families.
heart, they are pious and dutiful, devoted to ensuring
harmony and balance.

53
Scorpion Clan Families The Soshi Family
Ring Increase: +1 Air or +1 Void
The Bayushi Family Skill Increases: +1 Design, +1 Theology
Glory: 40 Starting Wealth: 6 koku
Ring Increase: +1 Air or +1 Fire The Soshi are often overlooked, and that is how they
Skill Increases: +1 Courtesy, +1 Design prefer things to be. They are most effective when
Glory: 44 Starting Wealth: 8 koku unseen, offering up prayers in silence for the Scorpion.
The motto of the Scorpion Clan’s primary lineage, “I The Soshi live for subtlety: the gentle nudge, the whis-
can swim,” comes from a cautionary tale about their pered word that sets everything into motion. Some-
SHINOBI
treacherous nature. Charming, ruthless, deceitful, and times this comes at a price, however, for their prefer-
Shinobi are covert agents
vicious, the Bayushi appear as the villains they claim ence for acting at the perfect moment often makes
and infiltrators who hide to be. They are the sinister side of power, using the them exceedingly cautious and prone to excessive
from sight and strike arts of blackmail, poison, and seduction to control the planning and information gathering.
with surprise and without enemies of the Empire, all while dancing a fine line to
honor. The shinobi are
a weapon of war, but
avoid falling to true villainy themselves. For the Bay- The Yogo Family
they are often used in ushi, the means are justified by the ends: a stable and
times of peace to hide the prosperous Empire. Ring Increase: +1 Earth or +1 Void
origin of an attack and Skill Increases: +1 Composition, +1 Theology
deflect blame for drastic
The Shosuro Family Glory: 39 Starting Wealth: 4 koku
but precise violence. The
The Yogo family is the most unfortunate family in the
use of such tactics, and
Ring Increase: +1 Air or +1 Water Empire: each scion of their line is cursed to betray the
the shinobi themselves,
are officially banned Skill Increases: +1 Courtesy, +1 Performance one they love the most. They try to ignore the curse by
by Imperial edict, but Glory: 40 Starting Wealth: 6 koku burying themselves in their work and devotion to duty
somehow rumors of their When the Shosuro family is known to outsiders, it is above all. To try to lift this curse, they have relentlessly
use remain. for their acting talent and theatrical skills. Little does studied prayers of protection and especially wards,
the Empire realize how fully the Shosuro embrace their through which they have mastered many techniques to
roles; many of the finest Scorpion spies are Shosuro identify and fight evil magic. The Yogo are the most
living as other people among the clans. While they are diligent and unappreciated servants of the Scorpion.
master entertainers, they are often asked to turn their
skills in acrobatics, acting, and other arts to darker and
bloodier ends for their clan.

54
CHAPT ER 2: CR EATING A CHAR ACTER

Unicorn Clan Families their stocky builds and the heavy beards of their men, to
their style of dress, the Moto seem foreign and strange
to Rokugani samurai. Indeed, the Moto have no use for
The Ide Family the soft trappings of what some call civilization; they
are nomadic warriors seeking the next battle, and they
Ring Increase: +1 Earth or +1 Water
embrace that harsh life. While their heritage and culture
Skill Increases: +1 Commerce, +1 Courtesy
are often questioned in Rokugan, their bravery is not.
Glory: 40 Starting Wealth: 9 koku
The Ide tirelessly serve as diplomats, couriers, and mer-
chants across Rokugan. While they are Unicorn through
The Shinjo Family
and through, the Ide have learned to blend their for- Ring Increase: +1 Fire or +1 Water
eign customs with the traditions of the Empire to better Skill Increases: +1 Sentiment, +1 Survival
treat with their cousins. The Ide work to radiate calm Glory: 44 Starting Wealth: 8 koku
and competence, seeking to build alliances and friend- The Shinjo are the core of the Unicorn, the clan of
ships throughout the Empire. explorers who followed their Kami, Shinjo, into the dan-
gerous world beyond the Empire. This love of discovery
The Iuchi Family has not left the Shinjo, and they travel widely when they
can. They administrate and lead the Unicorn, working to
Ring Increase: +1 Air or +1 Void
keep all of the parts of the clan yoked together. Master
Skill Increases: +1 Meditation, +1 Theology
equestrians and scouts, the Shinjo pursue peace, but
Glory: 40 Starting Wealth: 5 koku
never flinch from the prospect of war.
The Iuchi are a priestly family, whose practices stretch
back to the time before the Unicorn returned to
Rokugan. Iuchi shugenja practice a unique form of sor-
The Utaku Family
cery known as meishōdō, the art of using talismans and Ring Increase: +1 Earth or +1 Fire
names to manipulate the spirits. Their history makes Skill Increases: +1 Survival, +1 Tactics
them more open to exploring different mystical paths Glory: 44 Starting Wealth: 6 koku
than are those bound by centuries of tradition. No other Unicorn family has so deeply and spiritual-
ly embraced Bushidō as the Utaku, who embody it in
The Moto Family their elite Battle Maidens, the Shiotome. The matriar-
chal Utaku allow only their women to ride to war; the
Ring Increase: +1 Earth or +1 Fire
Utaku men serve afoot as infantry and in the stables and
Skill Increases: +1 Command, +1 Survival
households, making them unusual among their own clan.
Glory: 40 Starting Wealth: 6 koku
There is no finer heavy cavalry in the Empire than the
The Moto are considered to be the least civilized of the
Battle Maidens, and no finer equerries than Utaku men.
Unicorn families by the standards of the Empire. From
C H APT E R 2 : C R E AT I N G A C H AR ACT ER

Part II: Role and School


Monks nominally stand aside from society, but many
samurai enter a monastic order. Most commonly, they
do this in their old age, but some become monks much
A character’s rings represent their potential, but their earlier. At various points in history, monks have been
school and skills represent their learned expertise. known to wield considerable political influence, even if
Each school grants a character access to a number of they are supposed to be above such earthly concerns.
starting skills, techniques, abilities, and equipment, Finally, some samurai serve their lords as shinobi—
along with a curriculum through which the character though none admit to it openly, for the work of these
can advance by spending experience (see page 97). assassins and spies is incompatible with adherence
If a school’s starting techniques or curriculum grants to the Code of Bushidō. Shinobi are often deniable
a character a technique or the ability to purchase that assets, and many were never samurai; however, some
technique, the character ignores any other prerequi- members of the samurai caste are trained in these arts,
sites listed for that technique. These prerequisites are especially among the Scorpion Clan. While shinobi are
found in the technique’s entry in Chapter 4: Tech- quite rare, their influence over the course of history has
niques. Techniques granted in exception to their pre- been as substantial as it has been difficult to prove.
requisites are marked with the = symbol. Each school fits into one or more of these role cat-
egories. A school’s role has little in the way of direct
3. What is your mechanical effect, but it is descriptive of the preparation

character’s school, and duties that will affect your character’s mind-set and
options during the campaign. For instance, if you want
and what roles does to play a character who wields supernatural powers, you
that school fall into? should select a shugenja or monk school. If you are more
interested in social exploration than combat, you should
In Rokugan, duty is central to every samurai’s life. Samu- choose a courtier or artisan instead of a bushi (or vice ver-
rai fulfill many different positions for their lords. Bushi are sa). If you want stealth and deception to be an important
warriors, guards, and instructors by trade, and courtiers part of your character’s story, you might choose a shinobi.
are politicians, emissaries, and civil servants. Artisans During this step, a player chooses a single school
are creators, advisors, engineers, and scholars of art. within their clan for their character. If you wish for
Shugenja are priests of the samurai caste who share a your character to study at another school outside of
special bond with the kami. This bond and the secrets of their clan, ask your GM’s permission and work out a set
their ancient schools let them invoke miraculous powers of circumstances that have allowed for your character
that more common religious leaders cannot wield. They to receive their unusual training.
are few in number, but substantial in their influence.

TECHNIQUES IN
CURRICULUM TABLES
Elements of your school
Each technique in a cur- Each of the schools presented here follows a certain $$ Starting Techniques: These are techniques
riculum has its category mold. Let’s take a moment and go over the differ- your character starts the game with. Unless the
noted with a icon: ent elements that go into each school, and how that entry specifies that you must choose from a
modifies your character. list, your character starts with everything listed
 Kata (p. 174)
here. Techniques are listed in Chapter 4.
 Kihō (p. 182) $$ School Name: This is the name of your school,
$$ School Ability: Each school has a unique abil-
which also identifies the family who administers
 Invocations (p. 189) ity associated with it. Your character gains that
the dōjō of that particular school of training.
ability when you choose the school.
 Rituals (p. 212) $$ School Description: This is a brief flavorful
$$ Starting Outfit: This is the clothing and equip-
 Shūji (p. 214) description of your school.
ment your character starts play with.
 Mahō (p. 224)
$$ Rings: When you select this school, this speci-
$$ School Curriculum Table and Mastery Ability:
fies which of your character’s rings you increase
 Ninjutsu (p. 226) The rest of the school writeup consists of a cur-
by the specified amount.
riculum advancement table. This is organized
$$ Starting Skills: This entry specifies a collection into ranks, each with a number of advancements
of skills that you can elect to give your character listed (skills, skill groups, techniques, technique
a rank in. It also specifies the number of skills groups). The = symbol denotes privileged
you can choose (unlike the rings, you must access to techniques or groups. As you use
choose a number from the overall list). experience points to purchase these advance-
$$ Honor: This is your character’s starting honor. ments, you increase your character’s rank in their
school, which makes their school ability more
$$ Techniques Available: These are the types of
powerful. At rank 6, they gain a powerful and
techniques your character can purchase when
unique Mastery Ability as well.
they advance after character creation.
CHAPT ER 2: CR EATING A CHAR ACTER

ADVANCE TYPE
Hida Defender School [Bushi] Martial Skills Skl. Grp. CRAB SCHOOLS

Producing the most stalwart protectors of Rokugan Command Skill


The Crab Clan is stalwart
against the horrors that mass beyond the Kaiu Wall, the Medicine Skill and practical in a way

RANK 1
Hida Defender School teaches its disciples fortitude, most other clans are not.
Survival Skill
courage, and practicality in equal measure. Goblins, Crab samurai cannot
Rank 1 Kata  Tech. Grp. afford frivolity or distrac-
demons, and the unliving are not honorable foes, and
= Rushing Avalanche Style  tions to nearly the same
Hida Defenders cannot afford to behave as though the Technique
degree that most others
fight against these creatures is fair. While any warrior with Honest Assessment  Technique can, for a single gap in
a strong will can attempt to slay a stone-skinned oni or the Kaiu Wall can spell
Martial Skills Skl. Grp. death to hundreds, and a
die in the attempt, the Hida Defenders know their duty
Command Skill single missed shipment of
is to endure. From their heavily plated armor to their
goods can doom valiant
techniques for shattering iron hides with mighty ham- Labor Skill defenders. Despite their

RANK 2
mer blows, Hida Defenders have developed an armory Theology Skill grim circumstances, the
and fighting style that gives them the utmost advantage Crab are not without
Rank 1–2 Kata  Tech. Grp. hope. Heroes arise every
and greatest chance of not just victory, but survival.
= Touchstone of Courage generation to strike down
Rings: +1 Earth, +1 Water  Technique
the monsters that threat-
Starting Skills (choose five): +1 Fitness, +1 Martial Slippery Maneuvers  Technique en the realm, great engi-
Arts [Melee], +1 Martial Arts [Ranged], +1 Martial Arts neers invent new solutions
Trade Skills Skl. Grp.
[Unarmed], +1 Meditation, +1 Survival, +1 Tactics to combat the armies of
Fitness Skill the Shadowlands, and
Honor: 40
scholars uncover new
Techniques Available: Kata (), Rituals (), Shūji () Martial Arts [Melee] Skill
RANK 3

secrets that might turn


Starting Techniques: Meditation Skill the tides of battle. The
Crab Clan schools must
$$ Kata: = Lord Hida’s Grip Rank 1–3 Kata  Tech. Grp. prepare their students
= Iron in the Mountains Style  Technique for the worst. They seek
$$ Kata (choose one): Striking as Earth, Striking to draw out the best in
as Water Rallying Cry  Technique their charges so that they
can vanquish the dreadful
Scholar Skills Skl. Grp.
Way of the Crab (School Ability): Ignore the Cumber- challenges they will
some quality of armor you wear. Fitness Skill inevitably face.
Once per round, before making a check to resist a Martial Arts [Melee] Skill
RANK 4

critical strike, you may reduce the severity of that criti- Meditation Skill
cal strike by the physical resistance of your armor plus
Rank 1–4 Kata  Tech. Grp.
your school rank (to a minimum of 0).
= Striking as Void
Starting Outfit: Lacquered armor, traveling clothes,  Technique
daishō (katana and wakizashi), tetsubō or ōtsuchi (war club A Samurai's Fate  Technique
or hammer), club, knife, traveling pack.
Martial Skills Skl. Grp.
Command Skill
Survival Skill
RANK 5

Theology Skill
Rank 1–5 Kata  Tech. Grp.
Rouse the Soul  Technique
The Immovable Hand of Peace  Technique

The Mountain Does Not Fall


(Mastery Ability): At the beginning of your
turn, you may spend 1 Void point. If you do,
ignore all of your conditions, terrain, and
RANK 6

negative persistent effects of techniques and


abilities. Do not apply your disadvantages
to checks. If you would die, you cling to life
for a few moments longer instead (but still
die when the effect ends). This effect persists
until the end of your next turn.

57
ADVANCE TYPE

Martial Skills Skl. Grp.


Medicine Skill
Survival Skill

RANK 1
Theology Skill
Rank 1 Kata  Tech. Grp.
Threshold Barrier  Technique
= Slippery Maneuvers  Technique
Trade Skills Skl. Grp.
Martial Arts [Unarmed] Skill
Martial Arts [Ranged] Skill

RANK 2
Smithing Skill
Rank 1–2 Water Shūji  Tech. Grp.
= Skulk  Technique
Hiruma Scout School [Bushi, Shinobi] Lord Hida's Grip  Technique
Martial Skills Skl. Grp.
The Shadowlands never sleep and neither can those
who watch them. Scouting the Shadowlands is a dan- Command Skill
gerous task and one that requires intense preparation. Skulduggery Skill

RANK 3
The Hiruma saw their lands swallowed by the forces of
Survival Skill
demons, and they will die before seeing more of the
Empire lost beneath their shadow. Trained to observe Rank 1–3 Kata  Tech. Grp.
and get out, only striking when the reward exceeds the = Deadly Sting  Technique
risk, samurai of the Hiruma School are about patience Touchstone of Courage  Technique
and endurance above all. They are masters of survival
Scholar Skills Skl. Grp.
and mobility. When a Hiruma Scout is rotated out to
serve within the borders of the Empire, their haunted Command Skill
look and wary demeanor marks them as a veteran. Martial Arts [Ranged] Skill
RANK 4

Rings: +1 Air, +1 Water Tactics Skill


Starting Skills (choose five): +1 Fitness, +1 Martial
Rank 1–4 Air Shūji  Tech. Grp.
Arts [Melee], +1 Martial Arts [Ranged], +1 Skulduggery,
+1 Survival, +1 Tactics, +1 Theology = Noxious Cloud  Technique
Honor: 35 Crashing Wave Style  Technique
Techniques Available: Kata (), Rituals (), Shūji ()
Martial Skills Skl. Grp.
Starting Techniques:
Command Skill
$$ Kata (choose one): = Pelting Hail Style, Smithing Skill
RANK 5

= Rushing Avalanche Style


Survival Skill
$$ Kata (choose one): Striking as Air, Striking as
Rank 1–5 Kata  Tech. Grp.
Water
Rouse the Soul  Technique
Flickering Flame Skirmisher (School Ability): After = Silencing Stroke  Technique
performing an Attack action, you may change your
stance. If you do, increase the TN of Attack checks by Slayer’s Slash (Mastery Ability): Increase
RANK 6

creatures of silhouette 3 or larger targeting you by your the severity of critical strikes you inflict on
targets of silhouette 3 or larger by your ranks
school rank until the start of your next turn. in Survival.
Starting Outfit: Traveling clothes, ashigaru armor,
daishō (katana and wakizashi), yari (spear) or yumi (bow)
and quiver of arrows, knife, traveling pack, finger of jade.

58
CHAPT ER 2: CR EATING A CHAR ACTER

ADVANCE TYPE
Kaiu Engineer School [Artisan, Bushi] Trade Skills Skl. Grp.

Since the Crab Clan’s founding, the Kaiu’s duty has Martial Arts [Ranged] Skill
been to arm the clan’s samurai to defeat their enemies, Smithing Skill

RANK 1
be it with weapons, siege engines, or insight. As the
Tactics Skill
inventive arm of the Crab, the Kaiu Engineer supplies
all of these things. Trained in logistics, versed in tac- Rank 1 Earth Shūji  Tech. Grp.
tics, and filled with ingenuity, the Kaiu dōjō is not only = Pelting Hail Style  Technique
a warrior college, but also the foremost engineering Hawk’s Precision  Technique
school in the Empire. It is the Kaiu engineers who sup-
Martial Skills Skl. Grp.
port the foot solders of the Crab, building bridges over
inhospitable terrain, crafting armor strong enough to Command Skill
withstand even an oni’s blow, and forging the rare Kaiu Medicine Skill

RANK 2
blades, which are among the greatest swords in the Smithing Skill
Empire. If the situation is bleak, and there is no clear
Rank 1–2 Kata  Tech. Grp.
path to victory, then the Kaiu Engineer will forge one!
Rings: +1 Earth, +1 Fire = Battle in the Mind  Technique
Starting Skills (choose five): +1 Command, +1 Design, = Noxious Cloud  Technique
+1 Labor, +1 Martial Arts [Ranged], +1 Medicine, +1
Social Skills Skl. Grp.
Smithing, +1 Theology
Honor: 40 Government Skill
Techniques Available: Kata (), Rituals (), Shūji () Martial Arts [Ranged] Skill
RANK 3

Starting Techniques: Smithing Skill

$$ Kata: = Tactical Assessment Rank 1–3 Water Shūji  Tech. Grp.


= Pillar of Calm  Technique
$$ Shūji: Stirring the Embers, Stonewall Tactics
Flowing Water Strike  Technique
Masterful Builder (School Ability): Once per scene,
Artisan Skills Skl. Grp.
when making a check to use an item you personally
crafted, you may add a number of kept  set to  Command Skill
results equal to your school rank. Labor Skill
RANK 4

Starting Outfit: Traveling clothes, ceremonial clothes, Tactics Skill


ashigaru armor, daishō (katana and wakizashi), club,
Rank 1–4 Fire Shūji  Tech. Grp.
oyumi (crossbow), quiver of bolts, traveling pack.
= Soul Sunder  Technique
Iron in the Mountains Style  Technique
Scholar Skills Skl. Grp.
Command Skill
Smithing Skill
RANK 5

Tactics Skill
Rank 1–5 Earth Shūji  Tech. Grp.
Sear the Wound  Technique
Pin the Fan  Technique

Ingenious Design (Mastery Ability): When


you construct an item, you may add or
RANK 6

remove one quality from the item. You must


describe to the GM how the item possesses
(or lacks) the usual quality, and the GM is the
final arbiter of whether an addition (or sub-
traction) is appropriate.

59
C H APT E R 2 : C R E AT I N G A C H AR ACT ER

ADVANCE TYPE

KUNI INVOCATIONS Martial Skills Skl. Grp. Kuni Purifier School [Shugenja, Bushi]
Skulduggery Skill The Kuni Purifiers master knowledge and prayers to
The Kuni Purifier School
teaches its students Survival Skill deny the Shadowlands forces any foothold inside the
invocations by utilitarian RANK 1 Theology Skill
Empire. To this end, they have specialized in invoca-
names, for its members tions to the earth kami to strike down or banish the
know the kami will Rank 1 Earth Invocations  Tech. Grp. evil servants of Fu Leng. From the time of their school’s
answer their righteous
= Bind the Shadow  Technique founding, the Kuni Purifiers have sought to understand
cause without the need
for elaborate embellish- Biting Steel  Technique the nature of the threat the Crab fight against. This has
ments. (See Invocation led them down dangerous paths, and no small number
Names and Traditions on Scholar Skills Skl. Grp.
have fallen to the very corruption they study. The Kuni
page 190 in Chapter 4: Command Skill Purifiers paint their faces in stylized Kabuki-like pat-
Techniques).
Performance Skill terns to protect their true identities from the insidious
RANK 2

tendrils of the Shadowlands. Eternal vigilance, shading


Skulduggery Skill
into unending paranoia, is the lot of the Kuni Purifiers.
Rank 1–2 Water Invocations  Tech. Grp.
Rings: +1 Earth, +1 Fire
= Crimson Leaves Strike  Technique Starting Skills (choose three): +1 Martial Arts [Melee],
Symbol of Earth  Technique +1 Medicine, +1 Sentiment, +1 Skulduggery, +1 Sur-
vival, +1 Theology
Trade Skills Skl. Grp.
Honor: 35
Martial Arts [Unarmed] Skill Techniques Available: Invocations (), Kata (), Rit-
Sentiment Skill uals ()
RANK 3

Theology Skill Starting Techniques:

Rank 1–3 Fire Invocations  Tech. Grp. $$ Kata (choose one): Striking as Earth, Striking
= Rise, Earth  Technique as Fire
Open Hand Style  Technique $$ Invocations: Armor of Earth, Jade Strike
Martial Skills Skl. Grp. $$ Rituals: Commune with the Spirits, Threshold
Medicine Skill Barrier

Survival Skill Gaze into Shadow (School Ability): Once per round,
RANK 4

Theology Skill when you make a check targeting or involving a Taint-


Rank 1–4 Earth Invocations  Tech. Grp. ed being, you may choose a number of your kept dice
up to your school rank containing  symbols. Set each
= Tomb of Jade  Technique
of these dice to a  result. You cannot use this ability if
Flowing Water Strike  Technique you are unsure if a being is Tainted or not.
Social Skills Skl. Grp. Starting Outfit: Sanctified robes, wakizashi (short
sword), knife, makeup kit, scroll satchel, traveling pack.
Government Skill
Theology Skill
RANK 5

Tactics Skill
Rank 1–5 Air Invocations  Tech. Grp.
Earthquake  Technique
Soul Sunder  Technique

Purge the Wicked (Mastery Ability): Once


per game session, you may spend 1 Void
RANK 6

point to wield an invocation against all the


wicked in your sight. Instead of affecting its
usual targets, the next invocation technique
you perform targets each Tainted being
in range.

60
ADVANCE TYPE
Trade Skills Skl. Grp.
Command Skill
Design Skill
RANK 1

Government Skill
Rank 1 Earth Shūji  Tech. Grp.
= Tributaries of Trade  Technique
All in Jest  Technique
Social Skills Skl. Grp.
Commerce Skill
Composition Skill
RANK 2

Culture Skill
Rank 1–2 Fire Shūji  Tech. Grp.
= Ebb and Flow  Technique Yasuki Merchant School [Courtier]
Slippery Maneuvers  Technique
Enemies of the Crab say the Yasuki are little more than
Scholar Skills Skl. Grp. merchants—the Yasuki would counter that they are
Commerce Skill much more. They are masters of the arts of commerce
and the flow of commodities, considered an uncouth
Martial Arts [Ranged] Skill
RANK 3

and deplorable set of skills in Rokugan. The Yasuki can


Seafaring Skill acquire goods and services, even ones that a person
Rank 1–3 Air Shūji  Tech. Grp. may not yet know they need, in exchange for promises
= Pillar of Calm  Technique of assistance for their family and clan in the future. The
Yasuki always keep their bargains, and they ensure that
Lord Hida’s Grip  Technique
their partners do the same.
Trade Skills Skl. Grp. Rings: +1 Air, +1 Earth
Command Skill Starting Skills (choose five): +1 Commerce, +1 Com-
Government Skill position, +1 Courtesy, +1 Culture, +1 Design, +1 Gov-
RANK 4

ernment, +1 Martial Arts [Ranged]


Sentiment Skill
Honor: 40
Rank 1–4 Water Shūji  Tech. Grp. Techniques Available: Kata (), Rituals (), Shūji ()
= Buoyant Arrival  Technique Starting Techniques:
Bravado  Technique $$ Shūji: = Artisan’s Appraisal
Social Skills Skl. Grp. $$ Shūji (choose one): Rustling of Leaves, Well of
Commerce Skill Desire
Culture Skill
RANK 5

Way of the Carp (School Ability): As a downtime


Design Skill activity, if you have access to a market, you may acquire
Rank 1–5 Void Shūji  Tech. Grp. a number of items up to your school rank of rarity 4 or
The Immovable Hand of Peace  Technique lower, or a single item of up to rarity 4 plus your school
= Lady Doji’s Decree rank. You do not need to make a check or expend mon-
 Technique
ey to acquire these items, nor do you need to forfeit or
Treasures of the Carp (Mastery Ability): stake honor or glory for the act of acquiring them, even
Once per game session, you may give away if they are not befitting of your station or Forbidden
one item in your possession to reduce the
RANK 6

TN of the next Social skill check you make (though displaying them openly later is a different mat-
targeting the recipient by an amount equal to ter). The GM can still apply rarity adjustments as usual
the rarity of the item. For each point by which
this would reduce the TN below 1, add a based on the specifics of the market available.
kept  set to an  result to your check. Starting Outfit: Traveling clothes, ceremonial clothes,
wakizashi (short sword), knife, yumi (bow), quiver of
arrows, calligraphy set, traveling pack.

61
C H APT E R 2 : C R E AT I N G A C H AR ACT ER

ADVANCE TYPE

CRANE SCHOOLS
Asahina Artificer School Artisan Skills Skl. Grp.
[Shugenja, Artisan] Courtesy Skill
The Crane Clan is
concerned foremost with Art and religion intertwine for the Asahina, for to them, Culture Skill

RANK 1
preserving Rokugani cul- faith, beauty, and peace are all aspects of the same Theology Skill
ture and ensuring civility truth. The Asahina take any opportunity to teach their
in the courts. To that end, Rank 1 Air Invocations  Tech. Grp.
philosophy and try to improve harmony in the Empire.
the schools of the Crane
Clan inculcate proper Their focus on the creation of beautiful things is sim- Path to Inner Peace  Technique
decorum in all their ply another aspect of their attempt to spread art and = Artisan’s Appraisal  Technique
students regardless of peace throughout Rokugan. Many a conflict has been
their primary curriculum, Scholar Skills Skl. Grp.
defused by an Asahina religious ritual that presented a
so much so that Crane Aesthetics Skill
are sometimes perceived peaceful path forward. The Asahina do their utmost to
as priggish or haughty by live their pacifistic ideals in a world fraught with conflict. Design Skill

RANK 2
members of other clans. It is arduous, but they persevere, secure in their beliefs. Performance Skill
Crane samurai are also Rings: +1 Air, +1 Fire
expected to have at least Rank 1–2 Water Invocations  Tech. Grp.
Starting Skills (choose three): +1 Aesthetics, +1 Cour-
a basic appreciation for = Grasp of the Air Dragon 
tesy, +1 Culture, +1 Design, +1 Games, +1 Theology Technique
the arts if they are not
artisans themselves. Honor: 50 Tea Ceremony  Technique
Techniques Available: Invocations (), Rituals (), Social Skills Skl. Grp.
Shūji ()
Aesthetics Skill
Starting Techniques:
ASAHINA INVOCATIONS Design Skill

RANK 3
$$ Invocations (choose three): Blessed Wind,
Theology Skill
The Asahina Artificer = Armor of Radiance, Inari’s Blessing, Reflec-
School teaches its tions of P’an Ku, Token of Memory Rank 1–3 Fire Invocations  Tech. Grp.
students invocations by = Wings of the Phoenix  Technique
Elemental names, for they $$ Rituals: Commune with the Spirits, Cleansing Rite
continue the traditions Vapor of Nightmare  Technique
passed down from Isawa Spiritual Artisan (School Ability): When making a
Artisan Skills Skl. Grp.
Asahina, their founder. check to mystically summon an illusion or to summon,
(See Invocation Names
augment, or awaken an object, you may add a number Fitness Skill
and Traditions on page
of kept  set to  results equal to your school rank. Performance Skill
RANK 4

190 in Chapter 4:
Techniques). Starting Outfit: Sanctified robes, wakizashi (short Theology Skill
sword), knife, yumi (bow), quiver of arrows, scroll satchel,
Rank 1–4 Water Invocations  Tech. Grp.
traveling pack.
= Bend with the Storm  Technique
Rise, Air  Technique
Scholar Skills Skl. Grp.
Aesthetics Skill
Design Skill
RANK 5

Performance Skill
Rank 1–5 Air Invocations  Tech. Grp.
Ever-Changing Waves  Technique
Buoyant Arrival  Technique

Stir the Slumbering Spirit (Mastery Abili-


ty): Once per game session as a downtime
activity, you may make a TN 4 Artisan (Void)
check to awaken an item’s spirit. If you suc-
RANK 6

ceed, until the end of the game session, it


becomes a nemuranai (see page 307) with
a sealed invocation of your choice based on
the item’s history. The GM is the final arbiter
of the appropriateness of any invocation
selected this way.
ADVANCE TYPE

Martial Skills Skl. Grp.


Courtesy Skill
Government Skill

RANK 1
Sentiment Skill
Rank 1 Kata  Tech. Grp.
= Crescent Moon Style  Technique
Stonewall Tactics  Technique
Scholar Skills Skl. Grp.
Courtesy Skill
Martial Arts [Melee] Skill

RANK 2
Tactics Skill
Rank 1–2 Earth Shūji  Tech. Grp.
= Flowing Water Strike  Technique
Lady Doji’s Decree  Technique
Martial Skills Skl. Grp.
Daidoji Iron Warrior School [Bushi]
Command Skill
The warriors from the Daidoji dōjō form the core of Courtesy Skill
RANK 3

their clan’s small standing army. They are highly trained


Sentiment Skill
heavy infantry who can hold the line and delay the
advance of any foe. Many enemies have broken on the Rank 1–3 Kata  Tech. Grp.
unwavering spears and iron discipline of the Daidoji = Crashing Wave Style  Technique
Iron Warriors. When there are no wars to fight, many are Ebb and Flow  Technique
assigned as protectors of Crane castles or as yōjimbō
Social Skills Skl. Grp.
(bodyguards) to traveling Crane courtiers. Their watch-
fulness and solidarity have prevented countless heated Fitness Skill
moments from getting out of hand, though it is said Martial Arts [Melee] Skill
RANK 4

that most Daidoji prefer the honesty of the battlefield. Tactics Skill
Rings: +1 Earth, +1 Water
Rank 1–4 Air Shūji  Tech. Grp.
Starting Skills (choose five): +1 Command, +1 Cour-
tesy, +1 Culture, +1 Fitness, +1 Government, +1 Mar- = Striking as Void  Technique
tial Arts [Melee], +1 Tactics A Samurai’s Fate  Technique
Honor: 55
Martial Skills Skl. Grp.
Techniques Available: Kata (), Rituals (), Shūji ()
Starting Techniques: Aesthetics Skill
Culture Skill
RANK 5

$$ Kata: = Iron Forest Style


Government Skill
$$ Kata (choose one): Striking as Earth, Striking
Rank 1–5 Kata  Tech. Grp.
as Water
The Immovable Hand of Peace  Technique
Vigilance of Mind (School Ability): Once per round, Rouse the Soul  Technique
when another character within range of one of your
readied melee weapons would suffer physical damage, To Tread the Sword (Mastery Ability): When
RANK 6

you use the Guard action, instead of guarding


you may intercept. If you do, you may suffer fatigue up one character, you may choose to guard a
to your school rank to reduce the damage the target number of other characters in range up to your
ranks in Martial Arts [Melee].
suffers by twice that amount.
Starting Outfit: Lacquered armor, ceremonial clothes,
daishō (katana and wakizashi), yari (spear) or naginata
(polearm), yumi (bow), quiver of arrows, knife, calligra-
phy set, traveling pack.

63
ADVANCE TYPE

Social Skills Skl. Grp.


Aesthetics Skill
Culture Skill

RANK 1
Composition Skill
Rank 1 Air Shūji  Tech. Grp.
= Civility Foremost  Technique
= Tea Ceremony  Technique
Scholar Skills Skl. Grp.
Command Skill
Courtesy Skill

RANK 2
Tactics Skill
Rank 1–2 Water Shūji  Tech. Grp.
= The Wind Blows Both Ways  Technique

Doji Diplomat School [Courtier] Artisan’s Appraisal  Technique


Artisan Skills Skl. Grp.
No one plays the game of court better than the
Crane—after all, their clan wrote the rules. The Doji Courtesy Skill
Diplomats choreograph the courtly dance of favors Games Skill

RANK 3
exchanged, gifts given, and the right people invited Performance Skill
to private gatherings. The Doji are always on the lead-
Rank 1–3 Earth Shūji  Tech. Grp.
ing edge of fashion and culture, and Doji Diplomats
= Regal Bearing  Technique
ATTENDANTS need never use an unkind word: their silence speaks
volumes, and a simple gesture says even more. Their Ebb and Flow  Technique
Some samurai travel networks of favors, gifts, and invitations allow them to
with an aid sent by their Social Skills Skl. Grp.
weigh the ebb and flow of the social side of the Empire
lord, a lower-ranking Government Skill
samurai they keep on re- and adjust the scales to their benefit.
tainer, or an apprentice. Rings: +1 Air, +1 Water Composition Skill
RANK 4

Starting Skills (choose five): +1 Aesthetics, +1 Com- Tactics Skill


To create an atten-
dant for a PC samurai position, +1 Courtesy, +1 Culture, +1 Design, +1 Gov-
Rank 1–4 Air Shūji  Tech. Grp.
assigned one, use the ernment, +1 Martial Arts [Ranged]
= Bend with the Storm  Technique
Humble Peasant profile Honor: 50
(see page 313), in- Techniques Available: Kata (), Rituals (), Shūji () Pillar of Calm  Technique
crease status by +5, and
add one NPC Template
Starting Techniques: Scholar Skills Skl. Grp.
(see page 311) of the
$$ Shūji (choose one): Cadence, Shallow Waters, Aesthetics Skill
player’s choice. Do
not select techniques, Whispers of Court Courtesy Skill
RANK 5

but each time the


character’s school rank
$$ Shūji: = Lady Doji’s Decree Command Skill
increases, the player Rank 1–5 Void Shūji  Tech. Grp.
adds one technique to Speaking in Silence (School Ability): Once per scene
the attendant’s profile when making a check to persuade or influence some- Buoyant Arrival  Technique
from a listed category. one, you may add a number of kept  set to a  The Immovable Hand of Peace  Technique
During conflicts, atten- results equal to your school rank.
The Lady’s Grace (Mastery Ability): Once per
Starting Outfit: Ceremonial clothes, wakizashi (short
RANK 6

dants do not take their scene, you may spend 1 Void point to reduce
own turns. As a Support sword), yumi (bow) or yari (spear), calligraphy set, trav- your strife to 0. When you do, each friendly
action, a samurai may eling pack, an attendant or Rokugani pony (see page character in the scene may reduce their strife
instruct their attendant by your honor rank.
to perform one action.
326).

64
CHAPT ER 2: CR EATING A CHAR ACTER

ADVANCE TYPE
Kakita Duelist School [Bushi, Artisan] Martial Skills Skl. Grp.
The Kakita Duelist School emphasizes “one strike, Aesthetics Skill
one kill,” seeking for its students to master the one Courtesy Skill

RANK 1
perfect strike performed in an iaijutsu duel. For the
Sentiment Skill
Kakita Duelists, such is the pinnacle of all martial skills.
While other martial skills are not neglected, neither are Rank 1 Kata  Tech. Grp.
they the focus of the Kakita Dueling Academy in Tsu- = Iaijutsu Cut: Crossing Blade  Technique
ma. Although some might critique such single-mind- Cadence 
 Technique
Technique
ed dedication, the Kakita Duelists are the best in the Cadence  Technique
Scholar Skills Skl. Grp.
Empire. Their skill with the katana in this arena com-
plements the Doji mastery of court, and reinforces the Martial Arts [Melee] Skill
Crane hold on the political flow of the Empire. Martial Arts [Ranged] Skill

RANK 2
Rings: +1 Air, +1 Earth
Smithing Skill
Starting Skills (choose five): +1 Courtesy, +1 Design,
Rank 1–2 Kata  Tech. Grp.
+1 Fitness, +1 Martial Arts [Melee], +1 Meditation, +1
Sentiment, +1 Smithing = All Arts Are One  Technique
Honor: 50 = Thunderclap Strike  Technique
Techniques Available: Kata (), Rituals (), Shūji ()
Artisan Skills Skl. Grp.
Starting Techniques:
Martial Arts [Melee] Skill
$$ Kata: = Iaijutsu Cut: Rising Blade Meditation Skill
RANK 3

$$ Shūji (choose one): Shallow Waters, Weight Survival Skill


of Duty
Rank 1–3 Air Shūji  Tech. Grp.
Way of the Crane (School Ability): Once per round, = A Samurai’s Fate  Technique
you may increase or decrease the severity of a critical Heartpiercing Strike  Technique
strike you inflict by an amount up to your school rank.
Social Skills Skl. Grp.
Starting Outfit: Traveling clothes, ceremonial clothes,
daishō (katana and wakizashi), yari (spear) or Fitness Skill
yumi (bow), quiver of arrows, traveling pack, Tactics Skill
RANK 4

an attendant or Rokugani pony (see


Martial Arts [Melee] Skill
page 326).
Rank 1–4 Kata  Tech. Grp.
= Striking as Void  Technique
Pillar of Calm  Technique
Martial Skills Skl. Grp.
Aesthetics Skill
Survival Skill
RANK 5

Theology Skill
Rank 1–5 Fire Shūji  Tech. Grp.
Soul Sunder  Technique
Rouse the Soul  Technique

Strike with No Thought (Mastery Ability,


Action): Once per scene, as an Attack and
Movement action, you may make a Martial
Arts [Melee] (Void) check targeting one char-
acter at range 2–3 using a sheathed katana or
wakizashi. The TN of this check is equal to your
target’s vigilance.
RANK 6

You immediately move to range 1 of your


target and draw the weapon you used. If you
succeed, your target suffers a critical strike with
severity equal to the deadliness of your weapon
plus your bonus successes.
+: One character of your choice at range 0–2
of your target per  spent this way suffers the
Dazed and Disoriented conditions.
 +: Treat the maximum range of this technique
as 1 higher per   spent this way.
C H APT E R 2 : C R E AT I N G A C H AR ACT ER

ADVANCE TYPE

DRAGON SCHOOLS Scholar Skills Skl. Grp. Agasha Mystic School [Shugenja]
Fitness Skill The Agasha Mystics mix practical arts with their invo-
Ostensibly, the Dragon
Clan’s chief aim is to Meditation Skill cations, using alchemical items and metallurgy as foci
record and reflect upon RANK 1 Smithing Skill
for their mystical arts. Through this, they have learned
the happenings of the that all of the Elements are linked, and there is great
Emerald Empire, but Rank 1 Earth Invocations  Tech. Grp. power to be found in the changing of their states. They
others wonder if there is
= Heart of the Water Dragon  Technique make chemical mixtures that enhance or are enhanced
some other objective the
Dragon are pursuing in Divination  Technique by their magic, which are used for everything from
secret. The schools of the simple entertainment to warfare. The Agasha weave
Kitsuki and the Agasha Trade Skills Skl. Grp.
their prayers into every item they create, from swords
train their scholars, inves- Fitness Skill to medicine, seeking to push the limits of their under-
tigators, and shugenja to
perceive the natural world Medicine Skill standing. Agasha Mystics are used to venturing out
RANK 2

and classify their observa-


Theology Skill
into the world, looking for inspiration from nature in all
tions, while the teachings its multitude of forms.
of the Mirumoto and Rank 1–2 Water Invocations  Tech. Grp.
Rings: +1 Earth, +1 Water
Togashi dōjō seem more = Power of the Earth Dragon 
concerned with individual
Technique Starting Skills (choose three): +1 Fitness, +1 Mar-
Enlightenment, whether = Touchstone of Courage  Technique tial Arts [Unarmed], +1 Medicine, +1 Meditation, +1
through the sword or the Smithing, +1 Theology
soul. All Dragon samurai Martial Skills Skl. Grp.
Honor: 40
emphasize individuality, Command Skill Techniques Available: Invocations (), Rituals (),
however, and there is
often more variety among Medicine Skill Shūji ()
RANK 3

the students within the Theology Skill Starting Techniques:


same Dragon school than
there is between students Rank 1–3 Fire Invocations  Tech. Grp. $$ Invocations (choose one): The Fires from
of different schools in the = Rise, Earth Within, Tetsubō of Earth
 Technique
other clans.
Earth Becomes Sky  Technique $$ Invocations: Path to Inner Peace, Jurōjin’s Balm
Scholar Skills Skl. Grp. $$ Rituals: Cleansing Rite, Commune with the
Meditation Skill Spirits
Smithing Skill Elemental Transmutation (School Ability): When per-
RANK 4

Survival Skill forming an invocation, you may choose a different ring


Rank 1–4 Earth Invocations  Tech. Grp. with which to make the check. While using this school
= Ever-Changing Waves
ability, you cannot activate  of the original Element of
 Technique
the invocation, but you can activate  for the new Ele-
Rise, Water  Technique ment. You can use this school ability a number of times
Martial Skills Skl. Grp. per game session up to your school rank.
Command Skills
Starting Outfit: Sanctified robes, wakizashi (short
sword), bō (staff), knife, traveling pack, scroll satchel,
Medicine Skill
RANK 5

set of glass vials, journal.


Theology Skill
Rank 1–5 Water Invocations  Tech. Grp.
Earthquake  Technique
AGASHA INVOCATIONS
Sear the Wound  Technique
The Agasha Mystic
Experiment and Adapt (Mastery Ability):
School categorizes the
Increase your supernatural resistance against
invocations it teaches by Air, Earth, Fire, and Water invocations by your
RANK 6

Alchemical names, reflect- ranks in Theology. After another character


ing the tradition’s empha- performs an Air, Earth, Fire, or Water invo-
sis on the experimental cation targeting you, you may spend 1 Void
and theoretical side of Point to immediately perform that invocation,
nature. (See Invocation even if you have not learned it.
Names and Traditions on
page 190 in Chapter 4:
Techniques)

66
ADVANCE TYPE

Scholar Skills Skl. Grp.


Fitness Skill
Martial Arts [Melee] Skill
RANK 1

Skulduggery Skill
Rank 1 Fire Shūji  Tech. Grp.
= Slippery Maneuvers  Technique
Honest Assessment  Technique
Martial Skills Skl. Grp.
Command Skill
Sentiment Skill
RANK 2

Survival Skill
Rank 1–2 Kata  Tech. Grp.
= All Arts are One  Technique
Feigned Opening  Technique
Scholar Skills Skl. Grp. Kitsuki Investigator School
Martial Arts [Melee] Skill [Courtier, Bushi]
Meditation Skill The Kitsuki Investigator School is a recent school,
RANK 3

Survival Skill founded when Agasha Kitsuki saved the life of the
Mirumoto daimyō by use of evidence. The Kitsuki
Rank 1–3 Earth Shūji  Tech. Grp.
Investigators use their methods of observation, exper-
= Regal Bearing  Technique imentation, logic, and reason to understand the truth,
Battle in the Mind  Technique which puts them outside the norm of the Rokugani
Martial Skills Skl. Grp. testimony-based judiciary system. The Kitsuki Investi-
gators gravitate toward legal work as magistrates and
Sentiment Skill
justiciars, in addition to serving as courtiers and repre-
Medicine Skill sentatives of the Dragon Clan.
RANK 4

Skulduggery Skill Rings: +1 Air, +1 Earth


Rank 1–4 Kata  Tech. Grp.
Starting Skills (choose five): +1 Culture, +1 Govern-
ment, +1 Martial Arts [Melee], +1 Medicine, +1 Senti-
= Sear the Wound  Technique
ment, +1 Skulduggery, +1 Survival
Bravado  Technique Honor: 45
Social Skills Skl. Grp. Techniques Available: Kata (), Rituals (), Shūji ()
Starting Techniques:
Sentiment Skills
Martial Arts [Melee] Skill $$ Kata (choose one): Striking as Air, = Tactical
RANK 5

Skulduggery Skill Assessment

Rank 1–5 Fire Shūji  Tech. Grp. $$ Shūji: Shallow Waters


Wolf’s Proposal  Technique Kitsuki’s Method (School Ability): When performing
Crashing Wave Style  Technique a check to investigate with any skill (see The Art of
Investigation, on page 170), you may treat your ranks
The Eyes Betray the Heart (Mastery Ability):
Once per scene when performing a skill check in the skill you are using as being equal to your school
to investigate, you may spend  as follows: rank. If your ranks in the skill are equal to or higher than
+: You may reserve up to one dropped die
your school rank, or if you have 5 ranks in the skill, you
RANK 6

per  spent this way. The next time you per-


form a check to interact with the person or may add a kept  set to an  result instead.
thing you were investigating (such as a check Starting Outfit: Traveling clothes, wakizashi (short
targeting that person or a check to use that
object), you may add any number of these sword), knife, calligraphy set, bō (staff) or jian (straight-
reserved dice as kept dice. Then, remove any edged sword), traveling pack, journal of observations.
unused reserved dice.

67
C H APT E R 2 : C R E AT I N G A C H AR ACT ER

ADVANCE TYPE
Mirumoto Two-Heavens Martial Skills Skl. Grp.
Adept School [Bushi]
Composition Skill
The Mirumoto dōjō’s unique two-sword style, niten (or Labor Skill

RANK 1
Two-Heavens), is only one component of their mastery
Medicine Skill
of swords and combat. Its students follow the Tao of
Shinsei and use it to guide them in war and peace, Rank 1 Kata  Tech. Grp.
seeking to apply its practical lessons to all things. Like = Iaijutsu Cut: Rising Blade  Technique
all of the Dragon, they are used to physical hardship Stirring the Embers  Technique
and can persevere under great stress.
Trade Skills Skl. Grp.
Rings: +1 Earth, +1 Fire
Starting Skills (choose five): +1 Command, +1 Com- Command Skill
position, +1 Fitness, +1 Martial Arts [Melee], +1 Medi- Martial Arts [Melee] Skill

RANK 2
tation, +1 Tactics, +1 Theology Meditation Skill
Honor: 50
Rank 1–2 Kata  Tech. Grp.
Techniques Available: Kata (), Rituals (), Shūji ()
Starting Techniques: = Heartpiercing Strike  Technique
Slippery Maneuvers  Technique
$$ Kata (choose one): Striking as Fire, Striking as
Water, Striking as Earth Martial Skills Skl. Grp.
Composition Skill
$$ Shūji: = Dazzling Performance
Smithing Skill

RANK 3
Way of the Dragon (School Ability): Once per round
Theology Skill
during a duel or skirmish when you are targeted by an
Attack check with a melee weapon, you may use one of Rank 1–3 Kata  Tech. Grp.
your weapons readied in a one-handed grip (or one of = Pillar of Calm  Technique
your hands, if it is empty) to ward or trap. Commune with the Spirits  Technique
If you ward, the attacker must reroll dice containing
Scholar Skills Skl. Grp.
 or  up to your school rank.
If you trap, reduce the TN of your next Attack Command Skill
check against the attacker this scene by your Martial Arts [Melee] Skill
RANK 4

school rank (to a minimum of 1). Meditation Skill


You cannot choose this weapon for
Rank 1–4 Earth Shūji  Tech. Grp.
Attack actions until the end of your
next turn. = Striking as Void  Technique
Starting Outfit: Traveling Crashing Wave Style  Technique
clothes, ceremonial clothes,
Martial Skills Skl. Grp.
ashigaru armor, daishō (katana
and wakizashi) or wakizashi Composition Skills
(short sword) and any two Medicine Skill
RANK 5

weapons of rarity 6 or Survival Skill


lower, traveling pack.
Rank 1–5 Kata  Tech. Grp.
Sear the Wound  Technique
Rouse the Soul  Technique

Heart of the Dragon (Mastery Ability):


Once per round, when performing an Attack
RANK 6

action check, you may spend  as follows:


: Perform a Strike action with a readied
weapon you have not used for an Attack
action this turn.
ADVANCE TYPE

Scholar Skills Skl. Grp.


Martial Arts [Unarmed] Skill
Fitness Skill

RANK 1
Survival Skill
Rank 1 Fire Kihō  Tech. Grp.
= Way of the Earthquake  Technique
Honest Assessment  Technique
Martial Skills Skl. Grp.
Command Skill
Composition Skill

RANK 2
Survival Skill
Rank 1–2 Water Kihō  Tech. Grp.
Togashi Tattooed Order [Monk] = Open-Hand Style  Technique
The monks of the Togashi Order have dedicated them- Stirring the Embers  Technique
selves to discovering and fulfilling their soul’s destiny,
Scholar Skills Skl. Grp.
believing that to be their individual path to achieving
Enlightenment. They are aided in this by the prophetic Martial Arts [Unarmed] Skill
visions of their leader, the Dragon Clan Champion, as well Labor Skill
RANK 3

as the mystic tattoos that bind them to their order; the Meditation Skill
tattoos’ artistry is matched only by their unusual powers.
Rank 1–3 Air Kihō  Tech. Grp.
Only those who become true ise zumi know that the tat-
= Death Touch  Technique
toos’ power flows from the blood of Togashi, the Dragon
Clan Kami, which is mixed into the tattooing inks. All Arts are One  Technique EXAMPLE TATTOO
MOTIFS AND KIHŌ
Rings: +1 Earth, +1 Void Martial Skills Skl. Grp.
Starting Skills (choose four): +1 Fitness, +1 Martial Each tattoo is unique
Labor Skill
Arts [Melee], +1 Martial Arts [Unarmed], +1 Medita- to the individual and
tion, +1 Survival, +1 Theology Medicine Skill represents their inner
RANK 4

Honor: 40 power. To customize


Survival Skill
your character’s tattoos,
Techniques Available: Kihō (), Shūji (), Rituals ()
Rank 1–4 Earth Kihō  Tech. Grp. select a symbol or an ap-
Starting Techniques: propriate image of the
= Touch the Void Dragon  Technique natural world or its crea-
$$ Kihō (choose one): Earthen Fist, Earth Needs Pillar of Calm  Technique tures. Below are some
No Eyes, Flame Fist, Ki Protection, Water Fist suggested motifs with
Scholar Skills Skl. Grp. possible linked kihō:
$$ Shūji: = Lord Togashi’s Insight
Meditation Skills Mountain: Cleansing
Blood of the Kami (School Ability): You have one mys- Martial Arts [Unarmed] Skill Spirit
RANK 5

tical tattoo that empowers your kihō, and gain more as Survival Skill
River: Water Fist
your school rank increases. When you make a check to Cloud: Riding the
Rank 1–5 Void Kihō  Tech. Grp. Clouds
activate a kihō linked to one of your mystical tattoos, if
you succeed, add additional bonus successes equal to Rank 1–5 Rituals  Tech. Grp. Volcano: Breaking Blow
your school rank. Rouse the Soul  Technique Bat: Earth Needs
Select a natural motif for your first tattoo and No Eyes
Blood of the Dragon (Mastery Ability):
choose one kihō for which you meet the prerequisites Once per scene, while you are benefiting
Tiger: Death Touch
that are linked to the tattoo. If you have not learned from the enhancement effect of a kihō linked Lotus: Touch the Void
RANK 6

it, you learn that kihō (without paying its XP cost). You to one of your tattoos, when you activate a Dragon
different kihō, you may spend 1 Void point. If
cannot choose the same kihō multiple times this way. you do, you may maintain both enhancement Vine: Way of the Willow
Each time your school rank increases, you gain one effects until the end of the scene or until you Meteor: Way of the
activate another kihō. Falling Star
additional tattoo this way.
Starting Outfit: Common clothing, bō (staff),
traveling pack.

69
ADVANCE TYPE

Martial Skills Skl. Grp.


Government Skill
Command Skill

RANK 1
Performance Skill
Rank 1 Kata  Tech. Grp.
= Iron Forest Style  Technique
Honest Assessment  Technique
Martial Skills Skl. Grp.
Command Skill
Medicine Skill

RANK 2
Survival Skill
Rank 1–2 Kata  Tech. Grp.
= Rallying Cry  Technique
Akodo Commander School [Bushi]
Lightning Raid  Technique
The Akodo War College’s curriculum is focused on con-
Martial Skills Skl. Grp.
trol: of one’s weapons, of the battlefield, over the flow of
conflict, and ultimately, over oneself. Its students study Government Skill
LION SCHOOLS the advice of Akodo’s Leadership, which was written by Composition Skill

RANK 3
the Lion Clan Kami himself. In addition to training as Sentiment Skill
As befits the clan called
the Right Hand of the warriors, Akodo Commanders are educated to be bat-
Rank 1–3 Kata  Tech. Grp.
Emperor, the Lion Clan tlefield leaders. They often treat war as a game of Go,
has committed itself to = A Samurai’s Fate  Technique
to be decided by exact moves. Akodo Commanders
the study of warfare in all strike precisely and without hesitation with sword and Touchstone of Courage  Technique
its forms. It has schools
to train samurai for every
army alike. Their goal is the pinnacle of the art of war: to Social Skills Skl. Grp.
battlefield role, from minimize losses while achieving their objectives.
Government Skill
soldier to commander, lo- Rings: +1 Earth, +1 Water
gistician to tactician, and Starting Skills (choose five): +1 Command, +1 Fit- Martial Arts [Melee] Skill
RANK 4

medic to morale booster.


ness, +1 Government, +1 Martial Arts [Melee], +1 Mar- Tactics Skill
Every student is trained in
at least one martial art to tial Arts [Ranged], +1 Meditation, +1 Tactics
Rank 1–4 Fire Shūji  Tech. Grp.
cultivate the soul, but also Honor: 50
= Rouse the Soul  Technique
to allow them to serve if Techniques Available: Kata (), Rituals (), Shūji ()
called upon. Starting Techniques: Disappearing World Style  Technique
Scholar Skills Skl. Grp.
$$ Kata (choose one): Striking as Earth, Striking
as Water Martial Arts [Melee] Skills

Shūji: = Lord Akodo’s Roar Meditation Skill


RANK 5

$$
Tactics Skill
Way of the Lion (School Ability): When you succeed
Rank 1–5 Earth Shūji  Tech. Grp.
at an Attack or Support action check, you may remove
an amount of strife from yourself up to your school Bend with the Storm  Technique
rank. For each strife you remove this way, add that one Striking as Void  Technique
bonus success to the check and receive 1 fatigue.
Starting Outfit: Ashigaru armor, traveling clothes, Akodo’s Final Lesson (Mastery Ability):
RANK 6

Once per game session during a skirmish or


daishō (katana and wakizashi), yari (spear), any one mass battle, after you fail a check, you may
weapon of rarity 6 or lower, two knives, yumi (bow), attempt the check again, treating the TN as 1.
quiver of arrows, traveling pack.

70
CHAPT ER 2: CR EATING A CHAR ACTER

ADVANCE TYPE
Ikoma Bard School [Courtier] Social Skills Skl. Grp.
In the end—after trials, sacrifices, and death—all that Composition Skill
truly remains of a samurai is their story. The Ikoma Culture Skill

RANK 1
Bard School trains its students as historians, bards, and
Martial Arts [Melee] Skill
tale-spinners; not just to preserve the stories of old,
but to inspire the warriors of the Lion Clan to equal and Rank 1 Fire Shūji  Tech. Grp.
exceed the achievements of their ancient ancestors. = Slippery Maneuvers  Technique
Ikoma Bards are no less warlike than the other scions Soaring Slice  Technique
of the Lion Clan. However, their most important duty
Martial Skills Skl. Grp.
lies in supporting each Lion’s drive to seize glory no
matter the danger—and to fight against any odds with Command Skill
the confidence that no hero will die unsung. Performance Skill

RANK 2
Rings: +1 Fire, +1 Water
Sentiment Skill
Starting Skills (choose five): +1 Composition, +1
Courtesy, +1 Culture, +1 Martial Arts [Ranged], +1 Per- Rank 1–2 Water Shūji  Tech. Grp.
formance, +1 Sentiment, +1 Tactics = Dazzling Performance  Technique
Honor: 45 Spinning Blades Style  Technique
Techniques Available: Kata (), Rituals (), Shūji ()
Scholar Skills Skl. Grp.
Starting Techniques:
Composition Skill
$$ Kata: Warrior’s Resolve Performance Skill
RANK 3

$$ Shūji: = Fanning the Flames, = Tributaries of Trade Survival Skill

Heart of the Lion (School Ability): Once per scene, after Rank 1–3 Earth Shūji  Tech. Grp.
you perform a check using a Social skill that targets one or Rallying Cry  Technique
more characters, you may agitate or console: = Regal Bearing  Technique
If you agitate, transfer strife up to twice your school
Social Skills Skl. Grp.
rank from yourself to your targets (divided among them
as you choose). Government Skill
If you console, transfer strife up to twice your school Sentiment Skill
RANK 4

rank from your targets (divided among them as you


Martial Arts [Ranged] Skill
choose) to yourself.
Starting Outfit: Traveling clothes, wakizashi (short Rank 1–4 Air Shūji  Tech. Grp.
sword), yari (spear) or tessen (war fan), yumi (bow), = Sear the Wound  Technique
quiver of arrows, traveling pack, any one Pillar of Calm  Technique
musical instrument, journal.
Scholar Skills Skl. Grp.
Command Skills
Performance Skill
RANK 5

Meditation Skill
Rank 1–5 Void Shūji  Tech. Grp.
Bend with the Storm  Technique
Buoyant Arrival  Technique

Lion’s Pride (Mastery Ability, Action): Once


per game session as a Support action, you
may attempt to convince everyone in the
scene of the glorious reputation of one char-
acter, embellishing the truth as needed, by
making a TN 5 Performance (Fire) check
RANK 6

targeting one character. The TN of this check


is 6 if you target yourself, and 4 if you target
another Lion Clan character.
If you succeed, reduce the TN of all of
the character’s Social skill checks by 3 until
the end of the scene, and the TN of all of the
character’s other checks by 1.
KITSU INVOCATIONS ADVANCE TYPE

The invocations of the Scholar Skills Skl. Grp.


Kitsu Medium School
Command Skill
are Ancestral in nature,
reflecting the boons Meditation Skill
bestowed upon them by RANK 1
Performance Skill
Rokugan’s sacred dead.
(See Invocation Names Rank 1 Water Invocations  Tech. Grp.
and Traditions on page
190 in Chapter 4: Courage of Seven Thunders  Technique
Techniques). = Heart of the Water Dragon  Technique
Social Skills Skl. Grp.
Government Skill
Fitness Skill
RANK 2

Theology Skill
Rank 1–2 Air Invocations  Tech. Grp.
= Hands of the Tides  Technique
Fanning the Flames  Technique
Martial Skills Skl. Grp.
Government Skill
Survival Skill Kitsu Medium School [Shugenja]
RANK 3

Theology Skill The smallest of the shugenja schools of the Great Clans,
Rank 1–3 Earth Invocations  Tech. Grp. the Kitsu Medium School maintains an esoteric focus
= Rise, Earth  Technique on the ancestors, which requires unique training and at
least a trace of the original Kitsu bloodline. This mystical
Ebb and Flow  Technique
connection to their forebears allows them to perform
Scholar Skills Skl. Grp. magic that no others can. The Kitsu Mediums are the
Command Skill living bridge between the Lion Clan’s past and the pres-
Meditation Skill ent, acting as the voice of the ancestors in the present
RANK 4

day. As traditionalists, they use the ancestral names for


Performance Skill
prayers to honor those who first mastered them.
Rank 1–4 Rituals  Tech. Grp. Rings: +1 Void, +1 Water
HONORED ANCESTORS = Wrath of Kaze-no-Kami  Technique Starting Skills (choose three): +1 Courtesy, +1 Gov-
ernment, +1 Meditation, +1 Performance, +1 Survival,
Your character has Bravado  Technique
+1 Theology
countless ancestors, Social Skills Skl. Grp.
and there are thus any Honor: 50
number of individuals Government Skills Techniques Available: Invocations (), Rituals (),
whose spirits they Shūji ()
Sentiment Skill
RANK 5

could summon. How- Starting Techniques:


ever, to be considerate Theology Skill
of your group’s time,
Rank 1–5 Fire Invocations  Tech. Grp. $$ Invocations (choose two): The Rushing Wave,
you should prepare
the profile and a brief Sear the Wound  Technique Path to Inner Peace, Biting Steel
overview personality of $$ Rituals: Commune with the Spirits, Cleansing Rite
any ancestor you wish Buoyant Arrival  Technique
to summon in advance.
Strength of a Thousand Ancestors (Mastery
$$ Shūji: Ancestry Unearthed
While roleplaying an Ability, Action): Once per game session, as
a Support action, you may summon the spirit Favor of the Ancestors (School Ability): Once per
ancestor, remember
of an ancestor to possess you until the end of scene, you may importune one invocation (see Impor-
that you are portraying the scene. While possessed, you count as an
RANK 6

that individual (rather Otherworldly being and use the profile of the tune Invocations, on page 189) with a school rank pre-
than your usual char- ancestor (a non-specific human NPC profile requisite up to your school rank without making the sacri-
acter) and they might such as the Venerable Provincial Daimyō on fices usually required and without the usual TN increase.
have a different agenda page 315, or, at the GM’s discretion, a PC
and desires! with up to 180 XP that you have created in Starting Outfit: Sanctified robes, traveling clothes,
advance). Your character does not remember wakizashi (short sword), knife, bō (staff), scroll satchel,
any time they spend possessed.
traveling pack.
CHAPT ER 2: CR EATING A CHAR ACTER

ADVANCE TYPE

Martial Skills Skl. Grp. Matsu Berserker School [Bushi]


Command Skill The Matsu’s soldiers are the front line and main strength
Labor Skill of the Lion armies. Their bravery and zeal for battle
RANK 1

are unquestioned. The Matsu warrior dōjō teaches the


Survival Skill
primacy of offense and the necessity of seizing the ini-
Rank 1 Kata  Tech. Grp. tiative in all things. Aggression is the hallmark of the
= Lord Akodo's Roar  Technique Matsu style; direct action is their watchword. This belli-
Stonewall Tactics  Technique cose attitude often puts them at odds with the careful
strategies of the Akodo, but the Matsu serve the Lion
Martial Skills Skl. Grp.
and the Empire with unquestioned loyalty.
Command Skill Rings: +1 Earth, +1 Fire
Medicine Skill Starting Skills (choose five): +1 Command, +1 Fit-
RANK 2

ness, +1 Labor, +1 Martial Arts [Melee], +1 Martial Arts


Smithing Skill
[Ranged], +1 Martial Arts [Unarmed], +1 Survival
Rank 1–2 Kata  Tech. Grp. Honor: 55
= Heartpiercing Strike  Technique Techniques Available: Kata (), Rituals (), Shūji ()
Fanning the Flames  Technique Starting Techniques:

Martial Skills Skl. Grp. $$ Kata (choose one): = Rushing Avalanche Style,
Composition Skill = Spinning Blades Style

Government Skill $$ Shūji: Stirring the Embers


RANK 3

Theology Skill
Matsu’s Fury (School Ability): After you suffer a critical
Rank 1–3 Kata  Tech. Grp. strike or unmask, you may suffer the Enraged condition
= Disappearing World Style  Technique to remove an amount of fatigue from yourself equal to
Rallying Cry  Technique your school rank.
Starting Outfit: Ashigaru armor, traveling clothes,
Martial Skills Skl. Grp.
daishō (katana and wakizashi), nodachi (greatsword) or
Command Skill tessen (war fan), knife, yumi (bow), quiver of arrows,
Courtesy Skill traveling pack.
RANK 4

Culture Skill
Rank 1–4 Kata  Tech. Grp.
= Striking as Void  Technique
Bravado  Technique
Martial Skills Skl. Grp.
Labor Skills
Medicine Skill
RANK 5

Smithing Skill
Rank 1–5 Kata  Tech. Grp.
Rouse the Soul  Technique
Sear the Wound  Technique

Rending Jaws of the Lion (Mastery Ability):


RANK 6

Once per round, when performing an Attack


action check while Enraged, you may spend
1 Void point to alter each kept die containing
 to a result containing .
C H APT E R 2 : C R E AT I N G A C H AR ACT ER

ADVANCE TYPE

PHOENIX SCHOOLS Scholar Skills Skl. Grp. Asako Loremaster School [Courtier]
Courtesy Skill The Asako Loremasters study widely, and from that
As caretaker of the
Empire’s soul, the Phoenix Games Skill broad and firm base, they develop their specialties. It
Clan imparts its theolog- RANK 1 Martial Arts [Unarmed] Skill
is rare for a Loremaster not to have at least passing
ical wisdom throughout knowledge of a subject, no matter how obscure. Act-
all its schools. A reverence Rank 1 Earth Shūji  Tech. Grp. ing as the courtiers of the Phoenix, the Asako Loremas-
for the spirits is instilled
= Open-Hand Style  Technique ters marshal arguments based on their expertise in the
in the students of every
dōjō, and the wisdom of Divination  Technique revered knowledge of the past. One should look for an
the Tao of Shinsei is a Asako first in the library and then in court, usually deep
fundamental part of every Social Skills Skl. Grp.
in discussion. Few care to challenge an Asako Loremas-
lesson taught. Just as the Government Skill ter on the field of knowledge, but such disputations are
four elements combine to
form something greater, Medicine Skill often one of the highlights of court.
RANK 2

together the warriors, Rings: +1 Air, +1 Earth


Sentiment Skill
priests, scholars, and Starting Skills (choose five): +1 Culture, +1 Govern-
mystics carry out the Rank 1–2 Air Shūji  Tech. Grp. ment, +1 Martial Arts [Unarmed], +1 Medicine, +1 Per-
Phoenix’s mission of = All Arts are One
ensuring balance and
 Technique formance, +1 Sentiment, +1 Theology
harmony. Tea Ceremony  Technique Honor: 45
Techniques Available: Kata (), Rituals (), Shūji ()
Scholar Skills Skl. Grp.
Starting Techniques:
Courtesy Skill
Performance Skill
$$ Shūji: = Civility Foremost
RANK 3

Meditation Skill $$ Shūji (choose one): Ancestry Unearthed, Cadence

Rank 1–3 Fire Shūji  Tech. Grp. Wisdom of the Ages (School Ability): When perform-
= Pillar of Calm  Technique ing a Scholar skill check, you may treat your ranks in the
Ebb and Flow  Technique skill as being equal to your school rank. If your ranks
in that Scholar skill are equal to or higher than your
Social Skills Skl. Grp.
school rank, or if you have 5 ranks in the skill, you may
Culture Skill add one kept  set to an  result instead.
Medicine Skill Starting Outfit: Ceremonial robes, sanctified
RANK 4

robes, traveling clothes, wakizashi (short


Theology Skill
sword), knife, scroll satchel, calligraphy set,
Rank 1–4 Earth Shūji  Tech. Grp. traveling pack.
= Cleansing Spirit  Technique
Wolf's Proposal  Technique
Scholar Skills Skl. Grp.
Courtesy Skills
Performance Skill
RANK 5

Meditation Skill
Rank 1–5 Water Shūji  Tech. Grp.
= Still the Elements  Technique
Bend with the Storm  Technique

Insufferable Genius (Mastery Ability):


After you succeed at a check to acquire or
remember information, you may spend 1 Void
point and choose any number of characters
RANK 6

with whom you can communicate. You must


describe how the knowledge you acquired
helps each character you choose. Each of
those characters reduces the TN of their next
check by 1 (to a minimum of 1) and suffers
1 strife.

74
ADVANCE TYPE
Scholar Skills Skl. Grp.
Composition Skill
Command Skill
RANK 1

Meditation Skill
Rank 1 Fire Invocations  Tech. Grp.
= Dance of Seasons  Technique
Cleansing Rite  Technique
Scholar Skills Skl. Grp.
Courtesy Skill
Meditation Skill
RANK 2

Performance Skill
Rank 1–2 Water Invocations  Tech. Grp.
= Fury of Osano-wo  Technique
Fanning the Flames  Technique
Scholar Skills Skl. Grp. Isawa Elementalist School [Shugenja] ISAWA INVOCATIONS
Composition Skill
No tradition has a more complete mastery of the way
The Isawa Elemental-
Meditation Skill of the spirits than that of the Isawa Elementalist School.
RANK 3

ist School teaches its


Survival Skill Since the time before the Kami fell to earth, the priests students invocations by
of the Isawa have sought knowledge and understand- Elemental names, for they
Rank 1–3 Air Invocations  Tech. Grp. were the first to apply the
ing of the kami, the Fortunes, and the very elements
= Wings of the Phoenix  Technique philosophy of Shinsei’s
themselves. Over the centuries, they have perfected Five Elements to their
Strike the Tsunami  Technique the rituals and supplications to request great boons on interactions with the
Martial Skills Skl. Grp. behalf of the Phoenix Clan and terrible banes for cast- spirits. (See Invocation
ing down their enemies. Yet, they know that the spirits Names and Traditions on
Government Skill page 190 in Chapter 4:
require service in exchange for their blessings, making
Sentiment Skill Techniques).
the Isawa Elementalists hesitant to call upon the kami
RANK 4

Theology Skill except in times of great need. To do so without cause


Rank 1–4 Earth Invocations  Tech. Grp. is to risk upsetting the delicate balance of the natural
= Wrath of Kaze-no-Kami world—or bring the wrath of the spirits upon them.
 Technique
Rings: +1 any two different rings
Rise, Flame  Technique Starting Skills (choose three): +1 Composition, +1
Social Skills Skl. Grp. Courtesy, +1 Medicine, +1 Meditation, +1 Perfor-
Composition Skills mance, +1 Theology
Honor: 40
Sentiment Skill
Techniques Available: Invocations (), Rituals (),
RANK 5

Theology Skill Shūji ()


Rank 1–5 Fire Invocations  Tech. Grp. Starting Techniques:
Earthquake  Technique $$ Invocations (choose three): Extinguish, Grasp
Rouse the Soul  Technique of Earth, Path to Inner Peace, Tempest of Air
Master of Elements (Mastery Ability): Once $$ Rituals: Commune with the Spirits, Divination
per round, after you perform an invocation,
RANK 6

you may spend 1 Void point to switch to any One with the Elements (School Ability): Once per
other stance and perform another invocation
that shares no action types with the first invo- scene when making the check to activate an invocation
cation (Attack, Support, etc.). technique, before rolling dice, you may reduce the TN
of the check by your school rank.
Starting Outfit: Sanctified robes, wakizashi (short
sword), knife, scroll satchel, traveling pack.

75
C H APT E R 2 : C R E AT I N G A C H AR ACT ER

ADVANCE TYPE
Martial Skills Skl. Grp. Shiba Guardian School
[Bushi, Courtier]
Courtesy Skill
Sentiment Skill As Shiba swore to protect Isawa, so the Shiba Guard-
RANK 1 Survival Skill
ian School emphasizes the defense of and cooperation
with the Isawa; its members complement and pro-
Rank 1 Kata  Tech. Grp. tect priests, shrine keepers, and shugenja. The Shiba
= Civility Foremost  Technique Guardians are broadly trained, often as much scholars
Stirring the Embers  Technique as warriors, and they approach conflict as a problem to
be solved without bloodshed if possible. Those who
Scholar Skills Skl. Grp.
underestimate them due to their reluctance to take a
Fitness Skill life usually only do so once: the Shiba Guardians are
Meditation Skill as devoted to the perfection of the martial arts as any
RANK 2

Martial Arts [Melee] Skill samurai. Their commitment to theological study and
long hours of meditation have taught the Shiba Guard-
Rank 1–2 Kata  Tech. Grp.
ians how to dance in harmony with elemental kami
= Rallying Cry  Technique called forth by the invocations of the shugenja.
Slippery Maneuvers  Technique Rings: +1 Earth, +1 Water
Starting Skills (choose five): +1 Courtesy, +1 Fitness,
Social Skills Skl. Grp.
+1 Martial Arts [Melee], +1 Meditation, +1 Survival, +1
Culture Skill Tactics, +1 Theology
Meditation Skill Honor: 45
RANK 3

Martial Arts [Melee] Skill Techniques Available: Kata (), Rituals (), Shūji ()
Starting Techniques:
Rank 1–3 Water Shūji  Tech. Grp.
= A Samurai’s Fate  Technique $$ Kata: = Lord Shiba’s Valor
Touchstone of Courage  Technique $$ Kata (choose one): Striking as Earth, Striking
Scholar Skills Skl. Grp. as Water

Command Skill Way of the Phoenix (School Ability): Once per scene,
Martial Arts [Melee] Skill when a character at range 0–3 makes a check that con-
RANK 4

Tactics Skill tains 1 or more  symbols, you may negate all of those
 symbols. Then, that character removes strife and
Rank 1–4 Kata  Tech. Grp.
fatigue equal to your school rank.
= The Immovable Hand of Peace  Technique Starting Outfit: Ashigaru armor,
= Touch the Void Dragon  Technique travel clothes, daishō (katana
and wakizashi), naginata
Martial Skills Skl. Grp.
(polearm) or yari (spear),
Sentiment Skills traveling pack.
Survival Skill
RANK 5

Theology Skill
Rank 1–5 Earth Shūji  Tech. Grp.
= Way of the Edgeless Sword  Technique
Rouse the Soul  Technique

Stand of Honor (Mastery Ability): At the end


of your turn, you may spend 1 Void point to
prepare to fend off advancing foes; this effect
persists until the start of your next turn. When
RANK 6

an enemy enters the range of one of your


readied weapons, you may immediately make
a Strike action using that weapon and target-
ing that enemy; if you succeed, the target
suffers the Immobilized condition in addition
to any other effects.

76
ADVANCE TYPE
Scholar Skills Skl. Grp.
Fitness Skill
Martial Arts [Ranged] Skill
RANK 1

Meditation Skill
= Rank 1 Air Invocations  Tech. Grp.
= Bind the Shadow  Technique
Striking as Air  Technique
Martial Skills Skl. Grp.
Performance Skill
Theology Skill
RANK 2

Smithing Skill
Rank 1–2 Kata  Tech. Grp.
= Grasp of the Air Dragon  Technique Kaito Shrine Keeper School [Monk]
Divination  Technique
Kaito Shrine Keepers work alongside priests to protect
Social Skills Skl. Grp. temples across Phoenix lands, or keep smaller shrines
Labor Skill on their own. The Kaito learn mystical arts to propitiate
Medicine Skill the kami—sometimes even serving as vessels for them—
RANK 3

and practical ones to maintain the shrines. Shrine Keep-


Survival Skill
ers make use of protective magic—such as ofuda, paper
= Rank 1–3 Water Invocations  Tech. Grp. charms—and spiritually enhanced archery to defend
= Breath of Wind Style  Technique shrines against threats both mystical and mundane.
Flowing Water Strike  Technique Rings: +1 Air, +1 Water
Starting Skills (choose four): +1 Fitness, +1 Martial
Scholar Skills Skl. Grp.
Arts [Ranged], +1 Meditation, +1 Performance, +1
Fitness Skill Smithing, +1 Theology
Martial Arts [Ranged] Skill Honor: 45
KAITO INVOCATIONS
RANK 4

Techniques Available: Kata (), Rituals (), Shūji ()


Meditation Skill
Starting Techniques: The Kaito Shrine Keepers
Rank 1–4 Kata  Tech. Grp. make themselves vessels
= Rise, Air  Technique $$ Kata: Hawk’s Precision in which kami may dwell,
and so they know their
= Soul Sunder  Technique $$ Invocations: Tempest of Air invocations by the For-
tunist name of the spirit
Martial Skills Skl. Grp. $$ Rituals (choose two): Cleansing Rite,
they are invoking. (See
Command Skills Commune with the Spirits, Threshold Barrier Invocation Names and
Traditions on page 190
Sentiment Skill Sacred Arrows (School Ability): As an action, you may
RANK 5

in Chapter 4: Techniques).
Theology Skill augment one of your arrows with a prayer to the kami.
= Rank 1–5 Fire Invocations  Make the check to perform one invocation you know,
Tech. Grp.
reducing the TN by your school rank, and record the
= Tomb of Jade  Technique result. The arrow gains the Sacred quality, and remains
Pin the Fan  Technique infused with the invocation until the end of the scene.
After you perform an Attack action using the arrow
Demon, Begone! (Mastery Ability, Action):
As an action, you may make a TN 3 Medi- (or fire it at a location, at the GM’s discretion), you may
tation (Void) check by plucking the string resolve the effects of the invocation from the place the
of a bow you are wielding, targeting each
Otherworldly being within a number of range arrow landed. You may spend + to delay resolving the
RANK 6

bands equal to your ranks in Meditation. effects of the invocation for 1 round per  spent this
If you succeed, each target suffers strife way, and may spend   from a failed check to affect
equal to your ranks in Meditation plus your
bonus successes. one target of the attack that you missed.
: Each target must resist with a TN 3 Med- Starting Outfit: Sanctified robes, wakizashi (short
itation (Void) check or treat its physical and sword), yumi (bow), quiver of arrows, bō (staff) or knife,
supernatural resistances as 0. This effect per-
sists until the end of the scene. scroll satchel, traveling pack.

77
ADVANCE TYPE

Social Skills Skl. Grp.


Sentiment Skill
Martial Arts [Unarmed] Skill

RANK 1
Skulduggery Skill
Rank 1 Air Shūji  Tech. Grp.
= Fanning the Flames  Technique
The Weight of Duty  Technique
Scholar Skills Skl. Grp.
Courtesy Skill
Skulduggery Skill

RANK 2
Martial Arts [Melee] Skill
Rank 1–2 Fire Shūji  Tech. Grp.
= Dazzling Performance  Technique
Veiled Menace Style  Technique
Trade Skills Skl. Grp.
Courtesy Skill
Culture Skill

RANK 3
Bayushi Manipulator School [Courtier] Sentiment Skill
Rank 1–3 Water Shūji  Tech. Grp.
Through the adept use of deception, temptation, and
= Wolf’s Proposal  Technique
espionage, Bayushi-trained courtiers are the masters
of finding and exploiting the weaknesses of others. No = Skulk  Technique
method is too dishonorable as long as it is effective and Social Skills Skl. Grp.
SCORPION SCHOOLS
untraceable. The Bayushi Manipulators are the shadow to
Aesthetics Skill
The Scorpion are loyal the Doji Diplomats’ light, and they are justly feared by all.
and pragmatic above Yet, no court is complete without its Scorpion scoundrel. Sentiment Skill
RANK 4

all, and so their schools The Bayushi Manipulators accept their roles as villains Medicine Skill
teach absolute loyalty to
in the play that is Rokugan, and in doing so, they help
the clan as much as they Rank 1–4 Earth Shūji  Tech. Grp.
teach the means by which ensure that no true villains rise to threaten the Emperor.
= Buoyant Arrival  Technique
the clan achieves its ends. Rings: +1 Air, +1 Fire
The differences between Starting Skills (choose five): +1 Command, +1 Cour- = Deadly Sting  Technique
appearances and reality, tesy, +1 Design, +1 Martial Arts [Unarmed], +1 Perfor-
lies and truths, suspicion Scholar Skills Skl. Grp.
mance, +1 Sentiment, +1 Skulduggery
and trust—and more im- Courtesy Skills
portantly, how and when to Honor: 35
use which—are all driven Techniques Available: Kata (), Rituals (), Shūji () Performance Skill
RANK 5

home in their students, Starting Techniques: Martial Arts [Ranged] Skill


point by painful point.
Rank 1–5 Void Shūji  Tech. Grp.
$$ Shūji: = Lord Bayushi’s Whispers
Bend with the Storm  Technique
$$ Shūji (choose one): Cadence, Rustling of
Leaves Sear the Wound  Technique

Little Truths (Mastery Ability): When you


Weakness Is My Strength (School Ability): When you perform a check targeting another character
exploit a target’s disadvantage (see Turning Advantag- to which one of your advantages or disadvan-
es and Disadvantages, page 100) as part of a Scheme tages applies, you may choose another advan-
tage or disadvantage that shares a type with
action, you do not need to spend a Void point, and you it (see Advantages and Disadvantages, on
RANK 6

may reroll additional dice up to your school rank. page 99). Unless they have clear evidence to
the contrary, the target comes to believe that
Starting Outfit: Ceremonial clothes, common clothes, you have the advantage or disadvantage you
traveling clothes, wakizashi (short sword), any one weap- chose instead of the one you actually have.
on of rarity 6 or lower, calligraphy set, traveling pack. If the target attempts to seize or exploit this
false advantage or disadvantage (see page
101), their check automatically counts as fail-
ing with a shortfall of 3. They suffer 3 strife and
the Disoriented condition.
78
CHAPT ER 2: CR EATING A CHAR ACTER

ADVANCE TYPE
Shosuro Infiltrator School Martial Skills Skl. Grp.
[Shinobi, Courtier]
Courtesy Skill
The Shosuro Infiltrators have perfected the art of Performance Skill

RANK 1
deception. With their well-honed abilities in acrobatics,
Skulduggery Skill
disguise, and stealth, these Scorpion agents encounter
Rank 1 Kata  Tech. Grp.
very few places to which they cannot gain access. As
agents of surprise and disruption, they do not stand = Veiled Menace Style  Technique
and fight, but instead sow chaos and vanish—usually to = Skulk  Technique
disguise what their mission actually was. Many a yōjim-
Trade Skills Skl. Grp.
bō has thwarted an apparent assassination attempt
that was merely a distraction from the target the Sho- Fitness Skill
suro Infiltrators truly sought. Such infiltrators can vanish Performance Skill

RANK 2
into shadows or, with equal skill, mingle with peasants Martial Arts [Unarmed] Skill
to become invisible to the eyes of samurai.
Rank 1–2 Air Shūji  Tech. Grp.
Rings: +1 Air, +1 Fire
Starting Skills (choose five): +1 Courtesy, +1 Fitness, Lord Bayushi’s Whispers  Technique
+1 Games, +1 Martial Arts [Melee], +1 Martial Arts = Noxious Cloud  Technique
[Unarmed], +1 Performance, +1 Skulduggery
Martial Skills Skl. Grp.
Honor: 30
Sentiment Skill
Techniques Available: Kata (), Rituals (), Shūji ()
Starting Techniques: Performance Skill
RANK 3

Skulduggery Skill
$$ Ninjutsu: = Deadly Sting
Rank 1–3 Kata  Tech. Grp.
$$ Shūji (choose one): Whispers of Court, Sensa-
= Bravado  Technique
tional Distraction
Dazzling Performance  Technique
The Path of Shadows (School Ability): While perform-
Social Skills Skl. Grp.
ing an Attack action against a target who is Compro-
mised, Incapacitated, Unconscious, or unaware of your Sentiment Skill
presence, treat the damage and deadliness of your Martial Arts [Melee] Skill
RANK 4

weapon as being increased by your school rank. Skulduggery Skill


Starting Outfit: Ceremonial clothes, common clothes,
Rank 1–4 Air Shūji  Tech. Grp.
traveling clothes, daishō (katana and wakizashi), knife,
= Silencing Stroke  Technique
yumi (bow), quiver of arrows, traveling pack.
A Samurai’s Fate  Technique
Martial Skills Skl. Grp.
Courtesy Skills
Performance Skill
RANK 5

Skulduggery Skill
Rank 1–5 Kata  Tech. Grp.
Buoyant Arrival  Technique
Sear the Wound  Technique

The Final Silence (Mastery Ability, Action):


As an Attack and Movement action, you may
make a TN 4 Martial Arts [Unarmed] (Air)
check targeting any number of minion NPCs
RANK 6

at range 0–4.
If you succeed during a narrative scene,
you silently kill all targets over the course of a
few minutes. If you succeed during a conflict
scene, at the end of each of your turns, you
may silently kill one of these targets at range
0–2 (in addition to your other actions).

79
SOSHI INVOCATIONS ADVANCE TYPE

The Soshi Illusionist School Trade Skills Skl. Grp.


teaches its students invo- Courtesy Skill
cations using Fortunist
names, as their practices Fitness Skill
arose from the traditional RANK 1 Theology Skill
worship of the Fortunes—
under the guidance of the Rank 1 Air Invocations  Tech. Grp.
mysterious Soshi founder. = Mask of Wind
(See Invocation Names
 Technique
and Traditions on page = Skulk  Technique
190 in Chapter 4:
Techniques). Social Skills Skl. Grp.
Medicine Skill
Sentiment Skill
RANK 2

Theology Skill
Rank 1–2 Water Invocations  Tech. Grp.
= Vapor of Nightmares  Technique
Soshi Illusionist School
Lord Bayushi’s Whispers  Technique
[Shugenja, Courtier, Shinobi]
Scholar Skills Skl. Grp.
The Soshi Illusionist School is the school of whispers and
Games Skill
shadows. “Subtlety” is the illusionists’ watchword as
Courtesy Skill they go about their tasks. Even their religious rituals and
RANK 3

Skulduggery Skill duties tend to be understated, though they are no less


Rank 1–3 Air Invocations  Tech. Grp.
faithfully executed. When the Scorpion need spiritual aid
in court, their subtle invocations and keen understanding
= False Realm of the Fox Spirits  Technique
of the kami allow them to work their prayers unseen and
= Noxious Cloud  Technique unheard. The Soshi Illusionists are among the most practi-
Martial Skills Skl. Grp. cal shugenja in the Empire, preferring discriminating and
effective use of invocation over pomp and ceremony.
Performance Skill
Rings: +1 Air, +1 Water
Sentiment Skill Starting Skills (choose three): +1 Courtesy, +1 Fitness, +1
RANK 4

Theology Skill Games, +1 Performance, +1 Skulduggery, +1 Theology


Rank 1–4 Earth Invocations  Tech. Grp. Honor: 30
= Deadly Sting
Techniques Available: Invocations (), Rituals (),
 Technique
Shūji ()
Rise, Air  Technique Starting Techniques:
Scholar Skills Skl. Grp.
$$ Invocations (choose three): Bō of Water, Cloak
Courtesy Skills
of Night, Nature’s Touch, Token of Memory
Fitness Skill
RANK 5

$$ Rituals: Commune with the Spirits


Skulduggery Skill
$$ Shūji: All in Jest
Rank 1–5 Air Invocations  Tech. Grp.
Buoyant Arrival  Technique The Kami’s Whisper (School Ability): While you are
= Silencing Stroke
performing an invocation technique or channeling, char-
 Technique
acters with a vigilance lower than or equal to your school
World of Shadows (Mastery Ability): You rank plus one cannot detect any physical sign that you
may spend 1 Void point to attempt to estab- are in the act of invoking the spirits. They can still observe
lish that something in the scene has been
an illusion all along. This could be an object, effects of the invocation, however.
image of a person, or other illusory phenom- Increase the TN of Theology checks to detect or
enon you could summon with an invocation.
You must make the check to summon this
study your supernatural activities by your school rank.
RANK 6

illusion using an invocation, with adjustments Starting Outfit: Sanctified robes, inconspicuous
to the TN for plausibility determined by the garb, wakizashi (short sword), knife, scroll satchel,
GM. If you succeed, you reveal that the thing
you chose is in fact an illusion you wove, and traveling pack.
has been for at least a few moments. If you
fail, your character clearly did not think to set
up an illusion—the object is as it appears.
As with all matters, the GM has final say over
acceptable uses of this ability.
CHAPT ER 2: CR EATING A CHAR ACTER

ADVANCE TYPE

Scholar Skills Skl. Grp. Yogo Wardmaster School [Shugenja] YOGO INVOCATIONS

Composition Skill Founded by Asako Yogo when he joined the Scorpion Founded by Yogo, a
shugenja formerly of the
Martial Arts [Unarmed] Skill clan, the Yogo Wardmaster dōjō is the Empire’s fore-
RANK 1

Phoenix Clan, the Yogo


most school of gyosetsudō, the art of supernatural Wardmasters continue to
Skulduggery Skill
warding through mystical calligraphy. Entrusted with the use the Elemental names
Rank 1 Earth Invocations  Tech. Grp. protection of the twelve Black Scrolls, the Yogo devel- for invocations. (See
= Civility Foremost  Technique oped their founder’s techniques to prevent the scrolls’ Invocation Names and
Traditions on page 190
Path to Inner Peace  Technique detection by dark forces and contain their corrupting in Chapter 4: Techniques).
power. By inscribing sigils of power onto slips of paper
Martial Skills Skl. Grp.
imbued with their ki, masters of this school can erect
Composition Skill invisible barriers, bind spirits, and foil incantations. For
Skulduggery Skill the Yogo, an ounce of preparation is more than enough.
RANK 2

Rings: +1 Earth, +1 Water


Theology Skill
Starting Skills (choose three): +1 Composition,
Rank 1–2 Water Invocations  Tech. Grp.
+1 Fitness, +1 Martial Arts [Melee], +1 Martial Arts
= Ebb and Flow  Technique [Unarmed], +1 Meditation, +1 Theology
Embrace of Kenro-ji-jin  Technique Honor: 40
Techniques Available: Invocations (), Rituals (),
Artisan Skills Skl. Grp.
Shūji ()
Martial Arts [Unarmed] Skill Starting Techniques:
Performance Skill
RANK 3

$$ Invocations (choose two): Jade Strike, Grasp


Theology Skill
of Earth, The Rushing Wave
Rank 1–3 Fire Invocations  Tech. Grp.
$$ Shūji: Shallow Waters
= Open-Hand Style  Technique
$$ Rituals: Commune with the Spirits, Threshold
Earth Becomes Sky  Technique
Barrier
Scholar Skills Skl. Grp.
Mystical Script (School Ability): You can have a number
Composition Skill
of additional wards with prepared invocations (see page
Martial Arts [Unarmed] Skill 190) up to your school rank. Decoding or using one of
RANK 4

Skulduggery Skill your wards requires any other character to make a The-
Rank 1–4 Air Invocations  Tech. Grp. ology (Void) check with TN equal to your school rank.
Starting Outfit: Sanctified robes, concealed
= Skulk  Technique
armor, wakizashi (short sword), bō (staff) or
Rise, Water  Technique knife, three shuriken (throwing stars),
Martial Skills Skl. Grp. calligraphy set, scroll satchel,
traveling pack.
Composition Skills
Performance Skill
RANK 5

Theology Skill
Rank 1–5 Earth Shūji  Tech. Grp.
= Deadly Sting  Technique
Tomb of Jade  Technique

Bound in Ink (Mastery Ability): Once per


scene, when you are targeted by an invoca-
RANK 6

tion or mahō technique, you may resist with


a TN 4 Composition check. If you succeed,
you absorb the invocation or mahō, nullifying
all of its effects and creating a ward contain-
ing it (see page 190) .
ADVANCE TYPE

UNICORN SCHOOLS Trade Skills Skl. Grp.


Courtesy Skill
In a holdover from the
Unicorn’s days journeying Fitness Skill
the Burning Sands and RANK 1 Martial Arts [Ranged] Skill
beyond, every Unicorn
child learns to ride, pack, Rank 1 Air Shūji  Tech. Grp.
and travel to where they
= Feigned Opening  Technique
are needed most at a mo-
ment’s notice. More than Hawk's Precision  Technique
other schools, Unicorn
dōjō are innovative in Social Skills Skl. Grp.
the development of their Commerce Skill
techniques and receptive
to borrowing methods Martial Arts [Ranged] Skill
RANK 2

and equipment from other


Survival Skill
cultures. They do not
take pride in upholding Rank 1–2 Water Shūji  Tech. Grp.
tradition so much as they = Ebb and Flow  Technique
value forging their own
traditions to best serve Lady Shinjo's Speed  Technique
their clan.
Martial Skills Skl. Grp.
Aesthetics Skill
Commerce Skill
RANK 3

Games Skill Ide Trader School [Courtier]


Rank 1–3 Earth Shūji  Tech. Grp. The ever-friendly face of the Unicorn is the Ide. Ide
= Pillar of Calm  Technique Traders always attempt to solve problems with nego-
tiation first and foremost, as they know any business
All Arts are One  Technique
dealings between friends and equals forge bonds as
Social Skills Skl. Grp. strong as steel. While some of the other clans think of
Aesthetics Skill the Ide as soft, none can point to when they were able
Martial Arts [Ranged] Skill to take advantage of this perceived weakness. The Ide
RANK 4

Traders ignore insults and politely welcome compli-


Sentiment Skill
ments in equal measure. They have a vast knowledge
Rank 1–4 Fire Shūji  Tech. Grp. of cultures, both Rokugani and foreign, which allows
= Sear the Wound  Technique them to tailor their dealings with precision.
Regal Bearing  Technique Rings: +1 Air, +1 Water
Starting Skills (choose five): +1 Commerce, +1 Cour-
Trade Skills Skl. Grp.
tesy, +1 Games, +1 Labor, +1 Martial Arts [Ranged], +1
Command Skills Medicine, +1 Survival
Fitness Skill Honor: 45
RANK 5

Techniques Available: Kata (), Rituals (), Shūji ()


Games Skill
Starting Techniques:
Rank 1–5 Void Shūji  Tech. Grp.
Bend with the Storm  Technique $$ Shūji: = Tributaries of Trade

The Immovable Hand of Peace  Technique $$ Shūji (choose one): Cadence, Shallow Waters

A Friend in Every City (Mastery Ability): As Vendor of Strange Wares: Ignore the Forbidden qual-
a downtime activity in any place of human
habitation, you may make a TN 4 Commerce ity when acquiring and handling items.
(Water) check to find a merchant with whom
RANK 6

When acquiring, selling, or gifting an item, you


you (or your relatives) have done business. may treat its rarity as reduced or increased by your
If you succeed, you find this individual
and gain the Ally advantage for them (see school rank.
page 101), which predisposes them to assist Starting Outfit: Traveling clothes, wakizashi (short
you in various ways. sword), yumi (bow), quiver of arrows, calligraphy set, trav-
eling pack, Unicorn warhorse (see page 326), journal.

82
CHAPT ER 2: CR EATING A CHAR ACTER

ADVANCE TYPE
Scholar Skills Skl. Grp. Iuchi Meishōdō Master School IUCHI INVOCATIONS
[Shugenja, Artisan]
Courtesy Skill
As they developed their
Design Skill The Unicorn understanding of magic and the spirits has traditions with help from
RANK 1

been greatly influenced by their years exploring outside sorcerers in the Burning
Survival Skill Sands, the Iuchi Meishōdō
the Empire, and the making of magical talismans remains
Rank 1 Water Invocations  Tech. Grp. Masters know invocations
the focus of their craft, meishōdō. The Iuchi Meishōdō
by Foreign names. (See
= Sympathetic Energies  Technique Masters’ magic is unique among Rokugan’s shugenja; Invocation Names and
Cleansing Rite  Technique using words of power taught to them by foreign sorcer- Traditions on page 190
ers, they bind the spirits into talismans, which can then in Chapter 4: Techniques).
Martial Skills Skl. Grp.
be gifted to others to use. Their heritage makes the Iuchi
Design Skill one of most open-minded of the shugenja families.
Theology Skill Rings: +1 Earth, +1 Water
RANK 2

Survival Skill Starting Skills (choose three): +1 Aesthetics, +1


Design, +1 Martial Arts [Melee], +1 Meditation, +1
Rank 1–2 Earth Invocations  Tech. Grp.
Survival, +1 Theology
= Hands of the Tides  Technique Honor: 40
Artisan’s Appraisal  Technique Techniques Available: Invocations (), Rituals (),
Shūji ()
Artisan Skills Skl. Grp.
Starting Techniques:
Performance Skill
Survival Skill $$ Invocations (choose two): Grasp of Earth,
RANK 3

Jurōjin’s Balm, The Rushing Wave


Theology Skill
$$ Rituals: Commune with the Spirits
Rank 1–3 Rituals  Tech. Grp.
= Rise, Earth  Technique
$$ Shūji (choose one): Ancestry Unearthed, Well
of Desire
Dazzling Performance  Technique
Social Skills Skl. Grp. The Way of Names (School Ability): As a downtime
activity, you may make a TN 2 Design check using any
Medicine Skill
ring to bind a spirit to an inanimate vessel, creating a
Survival Skill meishōdō talisman for one invocation of that Element
RANK 4

Theology Skill that you have learned. While you have the talisman
Rank 1–4 Air Invocations  Tech. Grp. in your possession, reduce the TN of checks to acti-
= Rouse the Soul vate that invocation by 1. You can give the talisman to
 Technique
another shugenja, allowing them to perform that invo-
A Samurai’s Fate  Technique cation even if they have not learned it and reducing the
Artisan Skills Skl. Grp. TN to activate it by 1, but the talisman ceases to func-
Culture Skills tion after a number of uses equal to your school rank.
You can sustain a number of meishōdō talismans up
Survival Skill
RANK 5

to your school rank. You can only have one meishōdō


Theology Skill talisman for any single invocation.
Rank 1–5 Earth Shūji  Tech. Grp. Starting Outfit: Traveling clothes, ceremonial clothes,
wakizashi (short sword), one weapon of rarity 6 or low-
The Soul’s Blade  Technique
er, calligraphy set, traveling pack, Unicorn warhorse (see
Ever-Changing Waves  Technique page 326).
The Spirits Unbound (Mastery Ability): At
the end of your turn, you may spend 1 or
more Void points to unleash the powers within
RANK 6

an equal number of your meishōdō talismans,


destroying these talismans and freeing the
entities within. You may immediately perform
each of the invocations for which the talismans
were created, reducing the TN by 3.
C H APT E R 2 : C R E AT I N G A C H AR ACT ER

ADVANCE TYPE
Moto Conqueror School [Bushi] Martial Skills Skl. Grp.
While most Unicorn dōjō focus on swift and complex Command Skill
techniques, the martial style of the Moto Conquerer Performance Skill

RANK 1
favors straightforward, unrelenting force. They fight
Survival Skill
loudly, use sweeping movements, and wield weap-
ons many Rokugani do not recognize. As a result, few Rank 1 Kata  Tech. Grp.
samurai know how to react to the Moto style, let alone = Crescent Moon Style  Technique
defend against it. Other clans consider the Moto to be Stir the Embers  Technique
barbarians, and the horde uses this to their advantage.
Trade Skills Skl. Grp.
If the Empire will not make an effort to understand the
Moto’s ways, then how can they stand against them? Performance Skill
Rings: +1 Fire, +1 Water Martial Arts [Melee] Skill

RANK 2
Starting Skills (choose five): +1 Command, +1 Fit-
Martial Arts [Unarmed] Skill
ness, +1 Performance, +1 Martial Arts [Melee], +1 Mar-
tial Arts [Unarmed], +1 Survival, +1 Tactics Rank 1–2 Fire Shūji  Tech. Grp.
Honor: 35 = Heartpiercing Strike  Technique
Techniques Available: Kata (), Rituals (), Shūji () Veiled Menace Style  Technique
Starting Techniques:
Social Skills Skl. Grp.
$$ Shūji (choose one): = Lightning Raid, Fitness Skill
= Slippery Maneuvers
Martial Arts [Melee] Skill

RANK 3
$$ Shūji: All in Jest Tactics Skill

Swirling Desert Wind (School Ability): When per- Rank 1–3 Kata  Tech. Grp.
forming an Attack action during a skirmish or mass bat- = Bravado  Technique
tle, you may spend  as follows: Dazzling Performance  Technique
: Choose an enemy other than your target whom
Trade Skills Skl. Grp.
you can perceive. Increase the TN of that enemy’s
Attack checks targeting you by your school rank until Command Skill
the start of your next turn. Martial Arts [Ranged] Skill
RANK 4

Starting Outfit: Traveling clothes, concealed armor,


Tactics Skill
daishō (scimitar and wakizashi), yumi (bow), quiver of
arrows, two knives, traveling pack, Unicorn warhorse Rank 1–4 Water Shūji  Tech. Grp.
(see page 326). = Striking as Void  Technique
Crashing Wave Style  Technique
Martial Skills Skl. Grp.
Command Skills
Government Skill
RANK 5

Survival Skill
Rank 1–5 Kata  Tech. Grp.
Sear the Wound  Technique
Buoyant Arrival  Technique

Scouring Sirocco (Mastery Ability): Once


RANK 6

per round, after you inflict the Incapacitated


condition on a target (or defeat a minion
NPC), you may perform a Strike action
against a different target.
ADVANCE TYPE

Martial Skills Skl. Grp.


Commerce Skill
Courtesy Skill

RANK 1
Survival Skill
Rank 1 Earth Shūji  Tech. Grp.
= Pelting Hail Style  Technique
Cadence  Technique
Trade Skills Skl. Grp.
Courtesy Skill
Martial Arts [Melee] Skill

RANK 2
Martial Arts [Ranged] Skill
Rank 1–2 Kata  Tech. Grp.
= Flowing Water Strike  Technique
= Dazzling Performance  Technique
Scholar Skills Skl. Grp.
Martial Arts [Ranged] Skill
Performance Skill
RANK 3

Survival Skill
Shinjo Outrider School [Bushi, Courtier]
Rank 1–3 Water Shūji  Tech. Grp.
The core of the Unicorn military, the Shinjo Outriders = Crashing Wave Style  Technique
emphasize speed and flexibility. All Shinjo Outriders
learn the art of reconnaissance and how to get the most Crimson Leaves Strike  Technique
out of their horses. No samurai is more mobile than a Martial Skills Skl. Grp.
mounted Shinjo Outrider. Their preferred weapon is the Command Skill
Shinjo horsebow, which they use with great accuracy
Skulduggery Skill
RANK 4

even while riding at a gallop. Trained to live off the land,


the Shinjo Outriders thoroughly learn the terrain of each Survival Skill
potential battlefield before having to fight over it. Rank 1–4 Kata  Tech. Grp.
Rings: +1 Earth, +1 Fire = Bend with the Storm  Technique
Starting Skills (choose five): +1 Commerce, +1 Mar-
tial Arts [Melee], +1 Martial Arts [Ranged], +1 Medi- Bravado  Technique
cine, +1 Skulduggery, +1 Survival, +1 Tactics Social Skills Skl. Grp.
Honor: 40 Government Skills
Techniques Available: Kata (), Rituals (), Shūji ()
Meditation Skill
Starting Techniques:
RANK 5

Survival Skill
$$ Kata (choose one): Striking as Fire, Striking Rank 1–5 Fire Shūji  Tech. Grp.
as Water
Pin the Fan  Technique
$$ Kata: = Lady Shinjo’s Speed
Rouse the Soul  Technique
Born in the Saddle (School Ability): Once per scene, I Will Always Return (Mastery Ability):
before rolling dice, you may declare that you are direct- Once per game session, you may call out for
ing your horse (who must be present) to aid in a task your steed. At the beginning of the following
RANK 6

round, your horse arrives, regardless of any


and describe how its efforts help in those circumstanc- barriers that might normally have prevented
es. Reduce the TN of the check by your school rank. it from reaching your location. If your steed
has recently been slain, its spirit will possess
Starting Outfit: Ashigaru armor, traveling clothes, the closest horse to you and come to your
daishō (katana or scimitar, wakizashi), yumi (bow), quiv- aid regardless, such is its loyalty to you.
er of arrows, knife, traveling pack, Unicorn warhorse
(see page 326).

85
C H APT E R 2 : C R E AT I N G A C H AR ACT ER

ADVANCE TYPE
Utaku Battle Maiden School [Bushi] Martial Skills Skl. Grp.
The most traditional and prestigious of the Unicorn Clan’s Command Skill
schools, the Shiotome, or “Battle Maidens,” are revered Smithing Skill

RANK 1
as legendary cavalry. The dōjō only accepts women who
Survival Skill
carry the Utaku name, and even then prospective stu-
dents must meet stringent standards of prowess and Rank 1 Kata  Tech. Grp.
honor. This is the only school in the Empire that teaches = Lady Shinjo's Speed  Technique
the secrets required to tame the powerful Utaku steeds, Striking as Air  Technique
massive warhorses that refuse all other riders. In battle,
Artisan Skills Skl. Grp.
graceful, continuous movements mark their style, as
does their unnerving serenity. Even when charging into Fitness Skill
the fray, Battle Maidens often move in utter silence. Martial Arts [Melee] Skill

RANK 2
Rings: +1 Air, +1 Earth
Tactics Skill
Starting Skills (choose five): +1 Command, +1 Fit-
ness, +1 Government, +1 Martial Arts [Melee], +1 Rank 1–2 Earth Shūji  Tech. Grp.
Meditation, +1 Smithing, +1 Survival = Thunderclap Strike  Technique
Honor: 50 Rushing Avalanche Style  Technique
Techniques Available: Kata (), Rituals (), Shūji ()
Martial Skills Skl. Grp.
Starting Techniques:
Medicine Skill
$$ Kata (choose one): = Crescent Moon Style, Survival Skill

RANK 3
= Iron Forest Style
Theology Skill
$$ Kata: Warrior’s Resolve
Rank 1–3 Kata  Tech. Grp.
Heroic Charge (School Ability): When you succeed = Pillar of Calm  Technique
at an Attack action check, add bonus successes equal Touchstone of Courage  Technique
to the number of range bands you have moved this
Scholar Skills Skl. Grp.
round, to a maximum of your school rank.
During a duel or mass battle, if you are mounted on Command Skill
your steed, you always count as having moved a num- Fitness Skill
RANK 4

ber of range bands equal to your school rank this turn.


Martial Arts [Melee] Skill
Starting Outfit: Lacquered armor, ceremonial clothes,
daishō (katana or scimitar, wakizashi), yari (spear), yumi Rank 1–4 Air Shūji  Tech. Grp.
(bow), quiver of arrows, knife, traveling pack, Utaku = Soul Sunder  Technique
steed (see page 327). Breath of Wind Style  Technique
Martial Skills Skl. Grp.
Command Skills
Culture Skill
RANK 5

Survival Skill
Rank 1–5 Kata  Tech. Grp.
Rouse the Soul  Technique
Bend with the Storm  Technique

Sensing the Breeze (Mastery Ability): Once


RANK 6

per round, after you defend against damage,


you may move 1 range band and you may
switch to a different stance.
ADVANCE TYPE

Trade Skills Skl. Grp. PLAYING A RONIN

Fitness Skill
The rōnin path provid-
Martial Arts [Choose One] Skill ed here represents a

RANK 1
character who was born
Performance Skill into one of the Great
Rank 1 Kata  Tech. Grp. Clans, but for reasons
that are up to you, has
= Open-Hand Style  Technique since left their clan to
Shallow Waters  Technique become a masterless
warrior. To make a
Martial Skills Skl. Grp. rōnin character, you
Command Skill should choose the clan
and family that your
Labor Skill character originated

RANK 2
from, then chose this
Medicine Skill
school (which, in this
Rank 1–2 Shūji  Tech. Grp. case, is more of a
= All Arts are One collection of worldly
Worldly Rōnin Path [Bushi, Courtier]  Technique experiences than a true
Iron Forest Style  Technique school).
Individuals may come to walk the rōnin’s path for many
Social Skills Skl. Grp. More on playing a rōnin
reasons. These “wave men” adrift upon the sea of fate
can be found on page
may be former clan samurai fallen from grace, unlucky Martial Arts [Choose One] Skill 306.
samurai whose master was killed or demoted, or even Sentiment Skill
RANK 3

children born to samurai parents out of wedlock or


Skulduggery Skill
under other contentious circumstances. Many do not
have a formal sensei anymore—if they ever did—and Rank 1–3 Kata  Tech. Grp.
so the world itself is their teacher. As they must adapt = A Samurai’s Fate  Technique
to survive, many rōnin rely on a particular skill to make Dazzling Performance  Technique
their way in the world, whether that be as mercenaries,
Artisan Skills Skl. Grp.
as traveling merchants or performers, or as guides or
guardians for specific roads, rivers, or mountain passes. Labor Skill
Rings: +1 any two different rings Martial Arts [Choose One] Skill
RANK 4

Starting Skills (choose five): +1 Command, +1 Fit- Survival Skill


ness, +1 Labor, +1 Martial Arts [Melee], +1 Martial Arts
Rank 1–4 Shūji  Tech. Grp.
[Ranged], +1 Martial Arts [Unarmed], +1 Skulduggery
Honor: 30 = Striking as Void  Technique
Techniques Available: Kata (), Rituals (), Shūji () Crimson Leaves Strike  Technique
Starting Techniques:
Scholar Skills Skl. Grp.
$$ Kata (choose one): = Pelting Hail Style, Composition Skills
= Crescent Moon Style
Martial Arts [Choose One] Skill
RANK 5

$$ Shūji (choose one): All in Jest, Honest Assess- Meditation Skill


ment, Stirring the Embers, Rustling of Leaves
Rank 1–5 Kata  Tech. Grp.
School of Waves (School Ability): Choose one bonus Buoyant Arrival  Technique
curriculum skill; this skill henceforth counts as part of the Sear the Wound  Technique
Worldly Rōnin Path curriculum for you at all ranks. Each
time your school rank increases, choose one additional A Bottomless Ocean (Mastery Ability):
RANK 6

You can increase your bonus curriculum


bonus curriculum skill this way.
skills to rank 6 (paying 12 XP per skill
When you make a check using one of your bonus raised from rank 5 to rank 6 this way).
curriculum skills, you may negate 1  symbol.
Starting Outfit: Traveling clothes, any one weapon
of rarity 6 or lower, katana (long sword) or yumi (bow),
wakizashi (short sword), any two items of rarity 4 or lower.

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C H APT E R 2 : C R E AT I N G A C H AR ACT ER

4. How does your


character stand out
Part III:
within their school? Honor and Glory
Even in a training system as regulated as that of a dōjō,
Honor and glory are everything to a samurai. Honor
different students excel in different areas. Even a pair of
reflects one’s inward opinion of how well one adheres
twins from the same family attending the same school
to the tenets of Bushidō, while glory reflects how well-
might differ in temperament, aptitude, or inclination.
known one’s name is throughout the Empire. In a per-
Choose one of the following options and increase
fect world, samurai could bring glory to themselves
your ring rank by the specified amount:
and their clans while maintaining their moral integrity,
$$ Creativity, passion, or drive (+1 Fire Ring): but in Rokugan, samurai are frequently tested to see
Your character is recognized by their teachers which one they value more highly.
and peers for their inventive ideas, their sin- For more information, see the sections on Honor
cere love for the craft of their school, or their and Glory in Chapter 1: Playing the Game.
intense and irrepressible desire to succeed in
their field. Their energy and enthusiasm inspire 5. Who is your
fellow students and galvanize rivals to put forth
lord and what is
your character’s
their best as well.
Grace, eloquence, or empathy (+1 Air Ring):
duty to them?
$$

Your character stands out in their school for


their finesse, the refinement with which they Your samurai’s lord is a figure of utmost importance in
express themself in social situations, or their their life—the individual to whom they have sworn their
sensitivity to the feelings of others. To other fealty directly. While your samurai’s lord might in turn
students, their successes often appear effort- have a lord of their own, your character’s oath is to their
less, but the truth of the matter is that their lord directly rather than the hierarchy in which they exist.
innate attention to detail means that they work Who is this individual, and how does your character
as hard as anyone else, if not harder. serve them? Your lord might be a provincial daimyō,
$$ Adaptability, friendliness, or awareness (+1 an official of some kind in the Imperial bureaucracy,
Water Ring): Your character’s willingness to roll a great general, or someone of humbler status (but still
with the punches, gregariousness, or under- higher than your own). Ask your GM if they want you to
standing of their environment stands out among invent this figure on your own, or if they intend to pro-
their peers. Your character tends not to get stuck vide the identity of your character’s lord. Your character’s
in mental ruts the same way many people do, or lord in intrinsically tied to your character’s giri, a motive
at least they have ways to get out of them. that should play a major part in their dramatic arc.
After you decide who your character’s lord is, you
$$ Thoroughness, patience, or calm (+1 Earth
should work with your GM to determine specifics: What
Ring): Stoicism is a trait valued greatly in
is their name? What role do they serve in their clan?
Rokugan, and your character bears challenges
What sort of personality and history do they have?
and hardships without complaint. Your character’s
Depending on the type of campaign your GM is run-
teachers might have come to rely upon them as
ning, your character’s lord might be a clan magistrate,
an assistant instructor, while their peers are likely
a city governor, a provincial daimyō, or even a Great
to see them as a source of wisdom and stability.
Clan family daimyō. The GM should give players a large
$$ Self-awareness, insight, or mysticism (+1 degree of leeway in their selection of a giri, as long as it
Void Ring): At a certain point, all arts become is not disruptive to the story, as it should be something
a study of the universe, oneself, and the rela- that the player is invested in seeing their character pur-
tionship between the two, and your character sue during the campaign.
is more adept at seeing things within both than Your character might even have two lords, such
most of their peers are. They might even seem as if they are an Emerald Magistrate. In this case, not
to have a supernatural sense of things, and to only would your character be expected to serve the
act based on hunches about what is to come in Emerald Champion on behalf of the Emperor, but their
addition to possessing insight about their place family daimyō would still expect them to work toward
in the wider universe. the clan’s interests at the same time. If your character

88
possesses or
acquires a title
from, or a major obliga-
tion to, a different lord or bureau-
cracy, the GM might ask you to create
another giri for them based on this other lord’s expec-
tations. Again, the GM and player should collaborate to Bushi characters might be given tasks suited to
create something both are excited to explore in the story. bodyguards (yōjimbō), guards, soldiers, magistrates,
Once this is established, add in a few details about executioners, or generals.
your character’s relationship with their lord, and then Courtier and artisan characters might be given
determine the most important aspect of their relation- tasks suited to craftspeople, performers, guides, diplo-
ship: how does your character serve their lord on a day- mats, magistrates, seneschals, or spymasters.
to-day basis? In theory, samurai care only about serving Shugenja characters might be given tasks suit-
their lord (in practice, however, they are human). What ed to priests, researchers, librarians, warrior-priests,
is the primary service that you render to your lord? How shrine keepers, or spiritual advisors to daimyō. Rarely,
does your lord call upon your skills? shugenja might be guards, artisans, or magistrates.
Write down your answer on your character sheet Monk characters who no longer belong to a clan
under “Giri.” Giri is how your character acquires generally serve the interests of their order instead of their
esteem in the eyes of their lord, and thus is related lord. They might be given tasks suited to priests, temple
to your character’s reputation within the Empire, their caretakers, charity workers in their community, librarians,
glory. See more under Giri, on page 39 of Chapter teachers, or pilgrims. Monks who still belong to a clan
1: Playing the Game. usually have duties similar to those of a shugenja.

89
C H APT E R 2 : C R E AT I N G A C H AR ACT ER

Shinobi characters are hired assassins and infiltra- your character, forcing them to confront the ideals of
tors, but they usually have a cover guise. A shinobi’s Bushidō and the cost to uphold them as they pursue
giri is almost always a secret; the player of a shinobi their desire—thus, it is related to their honor. Another
should also decide what their character’s outwardly way to look at ninjō is to ask yourself: what goal might
stated giri is when selecting their true objective. tempt the character to disobey their lord or do other
dishonorable things? What would be worth such risks
Selecting One’s Giri Properly to them? See more under Ninjō, on page 38 of
Chapter 1: Playing the Game.
Giri provides characters with the first of their two pri- Samurai drama revolves around competing desires.
mary drives within the story. You should be able to To create quandaries for your samurai that enhance
answer the following questions in the affirmative when drama and make for enjoyable roleplaying, you should
considering your character’s giri and ninjō (personal think about how your character’s giri and ninjō might
feelings) together, and if you cannot, you should talk to come into conflict. They do not need to be in constant
your GM about selecting a different giri: opposition, but there should always be the possibili-
ty for friction between the two—and the conflict your
$$ Is this giri something you want to see your
character would feel at such times should be interest-
character pursue or contend with during the
ing to you!
story? This does not mean that your character
If you can’t imagine a few exciting moments that
should always enjoy the weight of their duty,
might arise from your character being forced to choose
but you, the player, should be excited by the
between the two (or you wouldn’t enjoy roleplaying
prospect of getting to watch your character
those moments), modify one or both selections until
struggle with it.
you can. The GM will be working to bring both up
$$ Can your character make progress toward com- during the course of the campaign, which leads to dif-
pleting this giri no matter where the campaign ficult choices for your character (and thus, interesting
takes your character? A good giri has clear choices for you, the player!).
paths you can explore with it even when it does
not tie in with the main plot, and it should be Selecting One’s Ninjō Properly
something that can influence your character’s
choices no matter what location they travel to Ninjō provides characters with the second of their two
or what obstacles they face. primary drives within the story. Some classic personal
desires from works of samurai fiction include variations
$$ Is this giri likely to conflict with your ninjō at
on the themes of ambition, art, beauty, belonging,
least occasionally? Being pulled between
enlightenment, envy, family, glory, greed, love, justice,
duty and desires is a key part of many works
knowledge, peace, safety, or revenge, or a combina-
of samurai fiction, and even if the two are not
tion thereof. Things like “to be an honorable samurai”
diametrically opposed, your character should
or “to obey my lord” are poor selections for a charac-
sometimes have to make hard decisions about
ter’s ninjō. These are simply baseline requirements of
which is more important in the moment.
being a samurai and, more importantly, they do not
provide the character with the clear moments of falli-

6. What does your bility that make characters in Legend of the Five Rings

character long for,


interesting to play.
By comparison, similar but slightly more involved
and how might this ninjō such as “to punish samurai who abuse their pow-

impede their duty? er by dishonoring themselves” or “to win my lord’s


love” provide enough room for conflict with the gener-
In theory, samurai care only about serving their lord, al precepts of being a samurai to function well as ninjō
but in practice, samurai possess their own individual because they invoke the character’s personal desire
desires as well. What is the greatest, most pressing rather than mere societal expectation.
personal goal or belief that your samurai carries within You should be able to answer the following ques-
their heart? And what prevents them from finding reso- tions in the affirmative when considering your charac-
lution on this matter? ter’s ninjō and giri (duty to one’s lord) together, and if
Write down your character’s personal question, you cannot, you should talk to your GM about select-
goal, or core desire on your character sheet under ing a different ninjō:
“Ninjō.” Ninjō is a challenge that you set before

90
CHAPT ER 2: CR EATING A CHAR ACTER

$$ Is this ninjō something you want to see your Choose one of the following:
character pursue or contend with during the
story? This does not mean that your character $$ If your character believes firmly in the pre-
should always find pursuing their desire pleas- cepts of their clan and the values it holds dear,
ant, wise, or even healthy, but you, the player, gain +5 glory based on their reputation as an
should be excited by the prospect of getting to upstanding member of their community.
watch your character struggle with it. $$ If your character has a fundamental disagree-
$$ Is this ninjō likely to arise no matter where the ment with their clan’s beliefs, policies, or prac-
campaign takes your character? A good ninjō tices and has defied these in the past, gain 1
tugs at your character’s heart regardless of rank in a skill in which you have 0 ranks. Con-
where they wander, and it should be something sider why this skill represents a divergence from
that can influence your character’s choices no the clan’s training or values.
matter what location they travel to or what
obstacles they face.
8. What does your
Is this ninjō something for which your character
character think
$$

might sully their honor or defy their lord? A


good ninjō means enough to the character that of Bushidō?
pursuing it is a serious temptation, while ignor-
All samurai are supposed to respect and venerate the
ing it has serious enough stakes that it would
Code of Bushidō, but some clans and families pay
cause the samurai to be unhappy or unmotivat-
more attention to some tenets than others (see each
ed to continue serving their lord.
clan’s particular view on Bushidō in their entries earlier
in this chapter), and there are always a few samurai who

7. What is your refuse to believe in Bushidō at all. Does your character

character’s
agree with their clan’s views, or does your character
differ on certain points or even disregard certain ele-
relationship with ments of Bushidō? If your character’s belief in Bushidō

their clan? is completely in alignment with their clan, what past


experiences have reinforced it or renewed their faith in
Not every samurai lives and breathes their clan’s creed, it? If your character has come to believe that Bushidō
and individuals often diverge considerably from their is flawed, or at least that most people are misguided
clan on specific issues of philosophy, politics, or other in the way they practice it, what events drove them to
personal matters. Now that you know who your lord this development?
is, does your character embrace their clan’s ideals and Choose one of the following:
goals, or do they find themself in conflict with them?
Does your character agree with current policies or $$ If your character’s belief in living by an ortho-
regard them as mistakes? Perhaps a militaristic samu- dox interpretation of Bushidō is very staunch,
rai is born into the Crane or the Phoenix Clan, or a gain +10 honor.
pacifistic samurai is born into the Lion or Crab Clan. $$ If your character diverges from some or all
Perhaps a Scorpion disagrees with their clan’s sinister common beliefs about how samurai should
behavior. Perhaps a Lion believes their clan’s enmity for behave honorably, gain 1 rank in one of the
the Crane is an error. following skills to reflect past behavior that was
Consider not only how your character differs from unbefitting of a samurai or deeply defied the
clan orthodoxy, but how they arrived at that point. Per- norm: Commerce, Labor, Medicine, Seafaring,
haps an ancient grudge with another clan was revealed Skulduggery, or Survival.
as foolishness when they had to journey alongside a
member of that clan—or maybe one of the clan’s allies
uses methods your character cannot tolerate. This can
help flesh out not just your character’s worldview, but
also their story so far.

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C H APT E R 2 : C R E AT I N G A C H AR ACT ER

Part IV: Strengths 10. What holds your


character back the
and Weaknesses most in life?
Many things are expected of samurai in the Emerald
Beyond their rings and skills, characters are also
Empire, and nearly all samurai have some ongoing chal-
defined by their advantages and disadvantages—the
lenge in their life that makes these expectations harder
quirks and vulnerabilities that make them tick. Each
to live up to. This challenge might be a personality quirk
advantage or disadvantage is assigned to a single one
such as naïveté, selfishness, or a bad temper; it could be
of the character’s rings and is classified with one or
a physical ailment or disability; or it might even be a spir-
more types. Different school abilities and techniques
itual vulnerability such as a family curse. When choosing
may interact with the different types of advantages
a challenge, you should select something that you think
and disadvantages.
you will enjoy roleplaying (especially at times when your
During character creation, a character is assigned
character does not enjoy facing this difficulty).
two advantages (one distinction and one passion) in
Choose one adversity disadvantage for your charac-
Questions 9 and 11, two disadvantages (one adversi-
ter. See Specific Adversities, on page 116, for a list of
ty and one anxiety) in Questions 10 and 12, and one
options. If you want to create your own adversity, con-
additional advantage or disadvantage of your choice
sult with your GM using the guidance in Creating Cus-
in Question 13.
tom Advantages and Disadvantages, on page 137.

9. What is your 11. What activity Most


character’s greatest makes your character
accomplishment so far? feel at peace?
What is your character’s greatest achievement so far
The answer to this question could be anything from
in life, and how did they accomplish it? Your charac-
food and drink to specific activities, certain material
ter might have won a tournament or event thanks to
possessions, or particular persons. Why
innate ability, created a work of art that caught the eye
does the character like or dis-
of their daimyō, slain a remarkable beast while on a
like these things? Does it
hunt, or even taken the initiative to cultivate a political-
stem from sharing the
ly advantageous marriage.
activity with a loved
Your character likely possesses some ability or
one in the past or a
strength of character that assisted in this notewor-
seemingly sponta-
thy achievement, which you should also select at this
neous fascination
stage. It can even be interesting to create a contrast
with the
between what the character thinks are their strengths,
and what these really are—your character might not be
aware of their own best quality, or they might mistaken-
ly believe they succeeded for unrelated reasons.
In addition to deciding on your character’s great-
est achievement in their life so far, choose one dis-
tinction advantage that was key to accomplishing
this success, or that your character developed
as a result of it. See Specific Distinctions,
on page 101, for a list of options. If you
want to create your own distinction,
consult with your GM using the
guidance in Creating Custom
Advantages and Disadvan-
tages, on page 137.

92
CHAPT ER 2: CR EATING A CHAR ACTER

subject itself? How has an enjoyment of this activity develop in unforeseen ways. Losing a loved one might
shaped your character’s life? Have they made friends— have driven your character into anguish, or it might
or enemies—as a result of this hobby? have forced them to grow in ways they never thought
Choose one passion advantage related to your possible to stand on their own. A disastrously bad rela-
character’s interests or hobbies. See Specific Passions, tionship or a long-running feud with a hated rival could
on page 111, for a list of options. If you want to cre- have forged your character into the person they are
ate your own passion, consult with your GM using the today. Your character might even have met a super-
guidance in Creating Custom Advantages and Disad- natural being who has served as a guide or patron, or
vantages, on page 137. one who set a curse upon your character in exchange
for giving your character power or as punishment for
12. What concern, fear, transgressions against the Celestial Order.

or foible troubles your In the Relationships section of the character sheet,


record the name of the person from whom your charac-
character the most? ter has learned the most, along with the nature of their
relationship. Then, choose one of the following options
Samurai are expected to maintain a controlled façade
and gain the listed feature:
befitting their station at most times, but no human can
avoid having some things that make them anxious, $$ One advantage related to your character’s
afraid, or angry. Are your character’s fears or frustrations mentor and their relationship.
derived from past experiences, trauma, or personal
$$ One disadvantage related to your character’s
failure? Are they related to a person or specific event?
mentor and their relationship, and 1 rank in a
Does your character fully understand the source of their
skill that your character developed as a result
emotional turmoil, or do they have trouble expressing
of your character’s closest confidante and
or processing these feelings? As with the adversity you
their relationship.
selected, you should select something that you think you
will enjoy roleplaying when it challenges your character. If you want to create your own advantage or dis-
Choose one anxiety disadvantage for your charac- advantage, consult with your GM using the guidance
ter. See Specific Anxieties, on page 130, for a list of in Creating Custom Advantages and Disadvantages,
options. If you want to create your own anxiety, consult on page 137.
with your GM using the guidance in Creating Custom
Advantages and Disadvantages, on page 137.

13. Who has your Part V: Personality


character learned and Behavior
the most from
during their life? Your character is more than a set of statistics on paper;
knowing how they are likely to behave in a situation
Nearly every human owes some portion of their per- is important when you are roleplaying their decisions
sonality, strengths, and weaknesses to the people and interactions.
around them, and usually, a few people in particular
stand out as mentors—although their influence is not 14. What do people
always positive. Who has taught your character the
most about life, for better or for worse?
notice first upon
An instructor in your character’s school might have encountering your
set them on their current path, or a parent’s influence
might still guide their actions. Your character’s lord
character?
might have served as a political mentor, showing them In a given region and especially within a particular clan,
the value of compassion—or of ruthlessness—and samurai are expected to behave, dress, and comport
thereby shaped their ethos for life. A good marriage themselves in certain ways. Customs vary somewhat
might have led your character to a true peer who helped by region, and certain allowances are made for out-
them overcome a challenge or personal obstacle, while siders—a battle-hardened Crab bushi on business in a
a bad marriage might have left your character jaded Crane court is hardly expected to be able to maintain
about relationships overall. Having to care for a young- perfect etiquette, although their manners are sure to
er sibling or child might have caused your character to be subtly criticized by the courtiers present.

93
C H APT E R 2 : C R E AT I N G A C H AR ACT ER

Within their homeland, however, any aspect of a they fall to their knees in prayer when wracked with
character that veers from the norm, from slight oddi- uncertainty or respond to everything as if it is a violent
ties of appearance to trivial mannerisms, tend to attract threat? Perhaps they have a simple mannerism they
attention. A character might stand out for their unusual display as they grow more anxious, such as idly flexing
looks, strange dress, or ancestry that can be traced to their fingers or shifting subtly to a guarded posture.
far-flung parts of the Emerald Empire (or even beyond, Do they have a particular turn of phrase they tend to
in the case of some families). A minor behavior, like use upon growing excited or frustrated? Come up with
chewing one’s lip when nervous or clasping one’s hands one or two examples that help breathe life into your
to hide trembling fingers, can be the thing that others character as they approach their emotional threshold.
remember about a character. Perhaps the character With the GM’s permission, you can even mix and
always says the same thing when meeting a stranger. All match the narrative and mechanical effects of various
these things add subtle depth to the character—and so ways to unmask, re-flavor the narrative side of an exam-
does a deliberate absence of memorable details. ple unmasking to better fit your character, or make up a
Record the answer in the Personality, Habits and wholly new way your character unmasks.
Quirks section of your character sheet.
Additionally, choose one distinctive aesthetic accou- 16. What are your
trement that your character carries or wears most of the
time (e.g. a scarf, hair ornament, engraved scabbard,
character’s preexisting
eyepatch, etc). This bit of personal flair might accent relationships with
their striking features or stand in contrast to them. other clans, families,
15. How does your organizations, and
character react to traditions?
stressful situations? A character is exposed to many other groups during
their life in numerous ways; diplomacy, marriage alli-
Although samurai are supposed to maintain proper ances, trade, wars, and travel all may bring a person
decorum and conceal their emotions, few of them are into contact with groups they do not belong to (at
truly able to control their feelings at all times. Even the least initially). What other groups within the Emerald
most stoic and rigidly self-controlled samurai occasion- Empire has your character been exposed to, and what
ally lets out a true sign of feeling, especially when they impression have these exposures left? Is your character
are being berated by their lord or treated disrespect- betrothed or married to a member of another family
fully by their subordinates. What emotions does your or clan? Did they marry into that family or clan and
character show, and why? What events or feelings can suddenly need to acclimate to a very different set of
make them lose their self-control? Conversely, what expectations and social strictures? Are your character’s
emotions can they always control, no matter what? marriage prospects poor due to bad relationships or
Describe a noteworthy physical response that your due to bad blood with neighboring families or clans?
character has during times of stress and note it under Has your character been too involved in battles or even
the Personality, Habits, and Quirks section of the char- all-out war against another clan? Did victory or defeat
acter sheet. As your character’s strife approaches their harden their heart against members of this clan, or did
composure, your character might display this behavior, the pointlessness of war against other clans become
and it could play a part any time they unmask. obvious during the war? Does your character have a
personal reason to feel sympathy for a particular group
Using Strife and or to hate them, and if so, how did this develop?
Unmasking for Roleplaying Record any noteworthy history, quarrels, alliances,
or grievances your character has with other groups in
Moments when your character unmasks are great oppor- the Relationships section of your character sheet.
tunities for their personality to shine through, so you Additionally, choose one item of rarity 7 or lower
should think about how stress affects them. In the Per- that your character received as a gift from one such
sonality, Traits, and Quirks section of the character group, took in battle fighting against them, or that oth-
sheet, record some physiological, verbal, or mental signs erwise relates to or symbolizes the character’s past and
they display as their strife rises. ongoing relationship with them. Add this item to your
Does your character get loud and abrasive when starting outfit.
enraged, or does their voice fall to an icy whisper? Do

94
CHAPT ER 2: CR EATING A CHAR ACTER

Part VI: Ancestry


First, roll a ten-sided die twice. Consult those
numbers in Table 2–1: Samurai Heritage on the next
page to see entries on two potential famous relatives

and Family from the last few generations. Choose one of those
two options as the relative for whom your character is
named. Then, roll a ten-sided die again as specified
Now is the time to determine who your character’s
by that entry.
parents and ancestors are, and how that has defined
At the GM’s discretion, all players in a game may
your character.
choose the first result, the second result, or both results.

17. How would your 19. What is your


character’s parents character’s
describe them? personal name?
Parental devotion is an expected virtue in a land where
After you have chosen the name of the ancestor your
the family, not the individual, is the repository of hon-
character’s name honors, choose the personal name
or and reputation. However, despite this ideal, there
derived from it that your character is be known by. It
are plenty of samurai who have a fractious relationship
might be the same name or an alteration with signifi-
with their parents, or who offer outward veneration
cance to your character. This is the name that is record-
while concealing a lack of respect. Does your charac-
ed in the family register, replacing the name they used
ter have a proper relationship with their parents, or are
as a child. In the Rokugani style, the character typically
they estranged? Was the character’s childhood a happy
is addressed by their family name (chosen in Question
one. Were they a torment to their parents, or vice ver-
18), with the appropriate honorific, but close associ-
sa? Are their parents still alive?
ates may refer to them simply by their personal name.
Record the nature of the relationship between
What does your character’s name mean? Does your
your character and their parents or immediate fam-
character’s appearance fit with their name, or are the
ily members in the Relationships section of your
two incongruous?
character sheet.
Additionally, gain one rank of one skill in which your
character has 0 ranks, and determine whether your
character’s parents approve of this extracurricular inter- Part VII: Death
est or see it as a regrettable deviation, and why.

18. Who was your 20. How should your


character named character die?
to honor? All proper samurai fully expect to die in the service of
their lord, and it is said that every samurai lives at all
When receiving or choosing a name at their coming of times three feet from death—the length of a katana
age ceremony, many samurai adopt a name that hon- blade. However, some deaths have more meaning than
ors a recent or particularly noteworthy ancestor. In the others, and there are plenty of samurai whose outward
Emerald Empire, using a portion of an ancestral name façade of courage hides a deep-seated fear of mortali-
combined with other syllables to change its meaning is ty. How would you like your character to end? Will they
one common practice for many families. Whose name fulfill their destiny and join their ancestors in Yomi, the
is your character’s derived from? What was meant by Realm of Sacred Ancestors, or will their soul be forced
the bestowal of this name upon your character? What to undertake another cycle on the Celestial Wheel
did this person accomplish during their life? How did of reincarnation?
they die, or do they still live? Did or does your character This has no mechanical implications, but you should
have a personal relationship with this ancestor? Does keep it in mind. Your GM certainly will…
your character feel pride in the name they carry, or do
they fear failing to live up to the person it represents?

95
Table 2–1: Samurai Heritage
ROLL RESULT MODIFIERS OTHER EFFECTS

Roll a ten-sided die again and add the resulting family


Famous Deed: One of your ancestors won heirloom to your starting items (1–3: a weapon, 4–6: a set
a great victory for their clan or even the Increase your of armor, 7–8: another item, 9: a horse or other animal,
1
Emperor, and was rewarded with an item of glory by 3. 10: a boat or estate). You choose one quality and the GM
incredible quality. chooses one quality from the list of item qualities, on page
240; these are applied to the item.

Roll a ten-sided die again to determine your lost fam-


ily heirloom (1–3: a weapon, 4–6: a set of armor, 7–8:
Glorious Sacrifice: One of your ancestors Increase your another item, 9: a horse or other animal, 10: a boat
perished nobly in battle, and one of their honor by or estate), which exists somewhere in the world. You
2
signature items vanished with them or was 5 and your choose one quality and the GM chooses one quality;
lost in the subsequent years. glory by 5. these are applied to the item. You do not know where
the heirloom is, but you could later reclaim it during
the campaign.

Wondrous Work: One of your ancestors


Roll a ten-sided die again to determine an Artisan skill
crafted a piece of great beauty that won Increase your
3 (1–3: Aesthetics, 4–6: Composition, 7–8: Design, 9–10:
renown for your family, and others expect glory by 5.
Smithing); gain +1 rank in that skill.
you to live up to that legacy.

Dynasty Builder: One of your ancestors


was instrumental in the rise of a powerful
Decrease Roll a ten-sided die again to determine a Social skill
lord, using cunning stratagems and shrewd
4 your glory (1–3: Command, 4–6: Courtesy, 7–8: Games, 9–10:
advice to secure their ascension. You have
by 3. Performance); gain +1 rank in that skill.
heard this story many times and know the
importance of power subtly wielded.

Discovery: One of your ancestors made an


incredible discovery, invented something
Roll a ten-sided die again to determine a Scholar skill
of great importance, or uncovered an Increase your
5 (1–3: Culture, 4–5: Sentiment, 6–7: Government, 8–9:
ancient secret. Thanks to family lore, you glory by 3.
Medicine, 10: Theology); gain +1 rank in that skill.
have at least a rudimentary understanding
of the subject of their discovery.

Ruthless Victor: One of your ancestors


claimed a bloody victory over a rival,
Roll a ten-sided die again to determine a Martial skill
smashing their forces with a cunning Decrease
(1–3: Fitness, 4–5: Martial Arts [Melee], 6–7: Martial
6 maneuver or seizing their domain after your honor
Arts [Ranged], 8: Martial Arts [Unarmed], 9: Tactics, 10:
vanquishing them in battle. From this rel- by 5.
Meditation); gain +1 rank in that skill.
ative or their story, you learned well the
importance of brute force.

Elevated for Service: One of your ances-


tors was a jizamurai or even a commoner Decrease
who served with such distinction that their your glory Roll a ten-sided die again to determine a Trade skill
7 position was elevated to that of a Great by 3 and (1–3: Commerce, 4–5: Labor, 6–7: Seafaring, 8: Skul-
Clan samurai by marriage or mandate of a increase your duggery, 9–10: Survival); gain +1 rank in that skill.
daimyō. As a child, you learned the basics honor by 3.
of the skills for which they won their esteem.

You know one additional technique. Roll a ten-sided


die again to determine the category (1–3: kata, 4–6:
Stolen Knowledge: One of your ancestors
Decrease shūji, 7: ritual, 8: invocation, 9: kihō, 10: mahō or
learned a secret of another school and
8 your honor ninjutsu), and then select one technique with a prereq-
clandestinely passed it down through the
by 5. uisite of school rank 1 and learn that technique. You
ages; now, it has reached you.
can perform that technique even if it is not normally
allowed by your school.

You gain the Blessed Lineage advantage (see page


Imperial Heritage: You can trace your lin- Increase your
9 103) (this can be assigned in excess of the normal lim-
eage back to the Imperial line. status by 10.
itations on advantages at character creation).

Unusual Name Origin: Your character


was not named for an ancestor—perhaps
Choose two of your character’s rings; you may reduce
they were named for an outsider who
Decrease the value of one of these rings by 1 to increase the val-
did a great service to the clan, perhaps
10 your glory ue of the other by 1 (this still cannot raise a ring above
96
their name was bestowed upon them for
a unique deed, or perhaps someone was
by 3. 3). If you do not do so, choose one item of rarity 6 or
lower and assign it to your starting outfit.
trying to send a specific message in the
selection of their name.
CHAPT ER 2: CR EATING A CHAR ACTER

Experience Points and


Costs
Each advancement types has an XP cost listed in Table

Character Advancement 2–2: Advancement Costs and Restrictions. To buy an


advancement, a character must pay the listed XP cost.

Over the course of play, characters gain experience Restrictions and Prerequisites
points (XP), which their players can spend between
sessions to make the characters more potent. XP can Advancements also have certain restrictions, also listed
CURRICULUMS AND
be spent on the following character advancements: in Table 2–2: Advancement Costs and Restrictions. DIVERGENCES IN
A character cannot make a purchase that exceeds ROKUGAN
$$ Increasing ring values these restrictions.
Not all samurai agree
$$ Increasing skill ranks Additionally, techniques have prerequisites, spe-
with the requirements
cial requirements to that a character has to meet laid down by their sensei,
$$ Purchasing techniques
before they buy individual techniques. Prerequisites which is why some leave
$$ At the GM’s discretion, acquiring new advan- are listed in the same line as the technique’s name, and to develop their own
tages (see page 99) are usually character traits such as a certain school rank schools. Samurai are, of
course, permitted to pur-
or clan affiliation. To purchase a technique, a character
sue other studies as they

Awarding xp
must meet all of its prerequisites. see fit, but in the school’s
If a technique is listed by name or as part of a tech- eyes, these extracurricular
nique group for the current rank in their curriculum pursuits are extraneous
As a general guideline, GMs should award about 1 XP and do not count toward
per hour of play. GMs can award additional XP at their table (or as one of their starting techniques), it is a spe-
advancement.
discretion, as discussed in Chapter 7: The Game Mas- cial exception. They can buy it without meeting the pre-
requisites, and it is indicated with the = symbol. By contrast, samurai
ter (see page 299). might focus solely on

Advancing in a School
their school’s curriculum
Purchasing Advancements and advance through the
school ranks more quickly,
The ways a character can improve themself by spend- Each dōjō has developed a school curriculum over the but in doing so, they will
ing experience are collectively called advancements. centuries that represents its tried-and-true method. A not have time to pursue
school curriculum consists of a set of tables, each of their own interests and
These include ring ranks, skill ranks, and techniques. studies. Most samurai
A character may purchase any advancement by which corresponds to one of the first five school ranks of
take a balanced approach,
paying its listed cost, so long as it fits within the listed a character’s school, and a Mastery Ability (Rank 6) that following the path of their
restrictions. Table 2–2: Advancement Costs provides a character unlocks upon completing the first five ranks. school and supplement-
ing their studies with
the costs and restrictions for each advancement type.
Each character also has a curriculum table (see tables Completing School Ranks their own hobbies and
interests.
beginning on page 57), the collected wisdom of their
To complete their current school rank, a character must
school, to guide them in their specialized role. A charac-
spend XP on advancements listed on the curriculum table
ter receives extra benefits for purchasing advancements
for that rank. The amount of XP to complete each school
listed there (but remember, they can buy any advance-
rank varies: 20 for Rank 1, 24 for Rank 2, 32 for Rank 3,
ment that they’re not restricted from purchasing). Note
44 for Rank 4, and 60 for Rank 5. Advances that do not
that rings are not included in any curriculum.
appear on the curriculum table
Table 2–2: Advancement Costs and Restrictions at that rank contribute only half
their XP cost.
ADVANCEMENT Once a character com-
TYPE COST RESTRICTIONS pletes a rank, their school rank
increases and they move on to
Cannot increase a ring to a value
3 XP x value the next rank in their curriculum
Ring value +1 greater than lowest ring + Void
purchased
Ring. Maximum 5. table. Further experience they
spend now counts toward com-
2 XP x rank pleting their new rank. After a
Skill rank +1 Maximum 5.
purchased character completes a rank,
they do not count the XP spent
Category must be listed among
3 XP, or to complete previous ranks as
available techniques or technique
Technique other listed part of their progress to com-
must appear on your curriculum
value
(denoted by = symbol). plete their new rank.

97
C H APT E R 2 : C R E AT I N G A C H AR ACT ER

Spending XP in Curriculum
CURRICULUM RANKS
Any XP spent on advances that appear on one’s current
Each rank of a school school rank curriculum table fully contributes to the
curriculum requires a current rank. Record the full value of this XP as part of
certain amount of XP to
the total needed to complete the current rank.
complete, as follows:

Rank 1: 20 XP
Spending XP out of Curriculum
Rank 2: 24 XP
Any XP spent on advances that do not appear on one’s
Rank 3: 32 XP current school rank curriculum table (including any pur-
Rank 4: 44 XP chases of Ring advancements) partially contributes to the
current rank. Record half the value of this XP (rounded up)
Rank 5: 60 XP
as part of the total needed to complete the current rank.

Emily’s character is a Hida Defender. She’s at school Rank Tests and Ceremonies
rank 1, and she wants to spend 2 XP increasing her char- Some GMs prefer to require that PCs must return
acter’s Martial Arts [Unarmed] skill rank to 1. Because to their dōjō to be tested by their teachers to begin
Rank 1 of her Hida Defender curriculum lists Martial each new school rank. Others simply let PCs “rank
Skills (the group that includes Martial Arts [Unarmed]), up” immediately. See Real World Experience versus
her 2 XP fully contributes to reaching school rank 2. Lat- School Secrets for advice on these two methods.
er, she decides to spend 4 XP on increasing her Martial
Arts [Unarmed] skill rank to 2. Now, she’s spent a total Unlocking Mastery Abilities
of 6 XP out of the 20 XP she needs to spend to achieve
school rank 2. If she had spent that 4 XP on a skill that Once a character finishes the fifth rank in their school,
does not appear on her curriculum at that rank, she they are invited to learn its deepest mysteries. They
would only add 2 XP to her total toward school rank 2, unlock and gain a Rank 6 Mastery ability that is the
and would be at 4 XP out of the 20 XP she needs. capstone to the samurai’s studies and allows them to
unlock their true potential.

Real-World Experience versus School Secrets


A little bit of practical experience can be as potent methods to practice on their travels or scrolls
as years of training. Characters in any campaign containing deeper mysteries for them to decipher
should be allowed to spend their experience during their journeys. A character might need to
on skills and rings during play as they desire, return to their school to formally verify their newly
as one can learn through practice no matter elevated rank within their school from a thematic
their circumstances. standpoint, but they can use its mechanical bene-
In the fiction of the setting, a character is usu- fits as soon as they earn it.
ally taught school secrets, like techniques, by an If you, as a GM, want to maintain the narra-
instructor in their school or another individual tive element of learning techniques and advanc-
who knows the technique. Advancing to the next ing school ranks, you can do so by specifying that
school rank might be a more involved process, a character must use a downtime activity to visit
requiring the character to undertake tests or visit their dōjō or search for an NPC who knows the
specific locations and meet with particular instruc- technique. School ranks can only be increased
tors of their tradition. after visiting the proper dōjō and passing the
In practice, many campaigns are not condu- requisite test or training under an individual who
cive to having characters return to their dōjō as has attained a higher rank in that school. If you
frequently as they would like to spend experi- decide to take this route for your game, be sure
ence or increase their school rank. As a result, the that you inform your players before the game
game’s default assumption is that characters can begins and provide the PCs with sufficient oppor-
learn techniques and increase school rank wher- tunities to spend their hard-earned experience
ever they go, presumably receiving foundational on techniques.

98
CHAPT ER 2: CR EATING A CHAR ACTER

Advantages and Passions


Passions are advantages that represent a character’s

Disadvantages interests unrelated to their purpose in life or grand


desires—the little things that nonetheless bring them
to life and give them solace in times of hardship. Even
Beyond their rings and skills, characters are also shaped
the most dutiful samurai can find time to pursue such
by their advantages and disadvantages—the quirks and
an interest, for to deny all joy is to hardly live a human
vulnerabilities that make them tick. Each advantage or
existence. Passions are paired against anxieties, and
disadvantage is assigned to a single one of the charac-
the two cancel each other if both are applied to a giv-
ter’s rings (the one to which it most commonly applies)
en check. See page 111 for a list of Specific Passions.
and has one or more types and a category. Various abil-
Each passion has a unique narrative effect and
ities and effects interact with the different types and
the standardized mechanical effect, which applies as
categories of advantages and disadvantages.
described in the passion’s entry.
All player characters are assigned a number of
advantages and disadvantages during the character
creation process. They also can be assigned advan-
Adversities
tages and disadvantages in the course of play. Further, Adversities are disadvantages that represent the fac-
characters have the option to purchase additional pas- tors in a character’s life that make performing the duties
sions with experience, as described on page 100. of a samurai more difficult, be they physical, mental, or
even circumstantial. While none of these interfere in
Types of Advantages all aspects of life, deviance from the ideal is frequent-

and Disadvantages ly questioned in wider society and might create chal-


lenges for the character in and of itself. Adversities are
Each advantage and disadvantage has one or more paired against distinctions, and the two cancel each
types, which describe the general sphere of activities it other if both are applied to a given check. See page
affects. Common types include physical, mental, inter- 116 for a list of Specific Adversities.
personal, spiritual, material, injury, curse, social, mar- Each adversity has a unique narrative effect and
tial, fame, infamy, and scar. An advantage or disadvan- the standardized mechanical effect, which applies as
tage can have multiple types (such as “injury, physical” described in the adversity’s entry.
and “curse, spiritual”). Advantage and disadvantage
types have no mechanical implications by default, but Anxieties
they are sometimes referenced by other game effects.
All characters have fears, hatreds, or things they

Categories of Advantages would simply prefer not to deal with. Anxieties are

and Disadvantages
disadvantages that represent a character’s notable
emotional vulnerabilities. Anxieties are paired against
There are a number of categories of advantages and passions, and the two cancel each other if both are
disadvantages, each affecting characters differently. applied to a given check. See page 130 for a list of
These categories are as follows: Specific Anxieties.
Each anxiety has a unique narrative effect and
the standardized mechanical effect, which applies as
Distinctions described in the anxiety’s entry.
Distinctions are advantages that represent a charac-
ter’s natural aptitudes of body, of mind, or of character. Gaining Advantages
Most distinctions apply to a narrow field of activities,
as described in their entries. Distinctions are paired
and Disadvantages
against adversities, and the two cancel each other if A character gains advantages and disadvantages pri-
both are applied to a given check. See page 101 for a marily during character creation, when they have the
list of Specific Distinctions. opportunity to gain up to three advantages and three
Each distinction has a unique narrative effect and disadvantages. However, under certain narrative cir-
lists the standardized mechanical effect, which applies cumstances, a character can acquire additional advan-
in the circumstances described in the distinction’s entry tages and disadvantages.
and allows the character to reroll up to two dice during
Step 4: Modify Rolled Dice.

99
C H APT E R 2 : C R E AT I N G A C H AR ACT ER

Acquiring Distinctions
Distinctions cannot be acquired through training—
Using Advantages and
they reflect intrinsic qualities rather than regimen and
hard work—but some game effects grant distinctions, Disadvantages in Play
especially ones related to a character’s social attri-
In addition to their uses as described in Chapter 1:
butes (honor, glory, and status). As described in Honor
Playing the Game, advantages and disadvantages can
in Play (see page 300) and Glory in Play (see page
apply to checks in a number of other ways.
304), a character can be granted a new distinction by

Narrative Use
reaching certain heights of valor or renown.
A character can have any number of distinctions.
Advantages and disadvantages confer certain narrative
Developing Passions effects, some of which give players quite a bit of lee-
way to shape the story. Frequently, an advantage means
Usually, a character’s areas of interest are fairly set by
that the character is able to do things within the scope
the end of character creation, but sometimes people
of the narrative that others cannot, or can accomplish
find a new art or source of joy in the world that they
things more quickly. Alternatively, a disadvantage might
wish to pursue, even late in life. At the GM’s discretion,
mean a character is more limited within certain spheres.
a character may spend 3 experience points to devel-
Remember, though, that most advantages have a down-
op one new passion, determined by the GM and the
side somewhere, and most disadvantages confer some
player together.
sort of benefit under particular circumstances.
A character can never have more than three pas-
Another way these can factor into the story is by
sions. At the GM’s discretion, a character might be able
eliminating the need for the character to make certain
to remove a passion based on narrative events or to
checks. This is meant to help a character’s traits and
make room for a new one.
backstory factor into the way that character behaves
organically. For instance, a character who is passion-
Acquiring Adversities ate about a topic should never fail to recall a piece of
A character can acquire adversities through a number trivia about that subject—nor should a blind character
of means: injury, illness, spiritual impurity, or any of have to make a check to avert their eyes from a flash of
the many other wretched fates that can befall them. light that disorients others. At other times, a character’s
Critical Strikes (see page 269), the Afflicted condi- advantage or disadvantage might cause them to make a
tion (see page 271), and numerous other sources can check others don’t need to make—a character’s fascina-
cause characters to acquire adversities in play. tion with a topic might make it hard for them to research
A character can have any number of adversities. a less interesting subject, or a character’s fear of a thing
might mean they need to make a check to face it. The
Developing Anxieties GM is the arbiter of these situations.

Generally, the anxieties of a player character are set by


Turning Advantages
and Disadvantages
the end of character creation. Still, if the GM and the
player decide together that a character should devel-
op an anxiety over the course of play (for example, a Under the wrong circumstances, even a strength can
hatred of some new rival or a fear of some trauma), and become a weakness for a character. On the other hand,
both agree on the form it should take, they can assign sometimes even an attribute that seems like a weak-
a new anxiety to a character at any time. This confers ness can become a source of strength for that character.
limited benefits, but it might add a great deal to the Further, sometimes other characters’ advantages and
story, and it does grant the character a new means to disadvantages play into checks that affect the charac-
recover Void points. ter. Collectively, the set of options described here are
A character can never have more than three anxiet- referred to as “turning advantages and disadvantages.”
ies. At the GM’s discretion, a character might be able
to remove an anxiety based on narrative events or to $$ Inverting Your Advantage: If one of a charac-
make room for a new one. ter’s advantages creates a logical vulnerability
for that character on a specific check, the GM
may invert that advantage, causing it to be

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CHAPT ER 2: CR EATING A CHAR ACTER

Specific Advantages
applied as a corresponding disadvantage for
the check (a distinction becoming an adversity,
or a passion becoming an anxiety, for instance).
If the GM does so, the character gains 1 Void Players and GMs can work together to create advantag-
point after resolving the check. es as they see fit (see Creating Custom Advantages
$$ Seizing a Target’s Advantage: Advantages and Disadvantages, on page 137), or use the premade
of other characters can also be used against advantages found in this section designed to anchor
them sometimes. If a character’s check has one characters in the Legend of the Five Rings setting.
or more targets, their player may choose one Each advantage lists the associated ring in parenthe-
of the target’s known advantages that logically ses after the name, along with its types (interpersonal,
could be a weakness for that check. If the GM mental, physical, spiritual, etc.), description, narrative
agrees, the player may spend 1 Void point to effects, and examples of checks for which it applies.
seize the target’s advantage, causing it to be
applied as an advantage on the player’s check. Specific Distinctions
$$ Leveraging Your Disadvantage: If one of a Most distinctions represent one of a character’s most
character’s disadvantages creates a logical edge visible features to the outside world: how they stand
for that character on a specific check and the out for the better or excel in their field over and above
GM agrees, the player may spend 1 Void point routine training and rote drill.
to leverage that disadvantage, causing it to be
applied as a corresponding advantage for the Ally [Name] (Water)
check (an adversity becoming a distinction, or an
anxiety becoming a passion, for instance). Do not use my name too freely, beloved, on every tea-
matron and Miwaku Kabe guard. But if our connection
$$ Exploiting a Target’s Disadvantage: If the
should advantage you in court, it pleases me to think
check has one or more targets, the player may
that I may open doors for you.
choose a known disadvantage of one of the
- A letter to Iuchi Shahai, signed only
targets that logically could be used against
with a Chrysanthemum seal
the target on that check. If the GM agrees, the
player may spend 1 Void point to exploit the
Types: Interpersonal
target’s disadvantage, causing it to be applied APPROPRIATE ALLIES
Effects: The following apply to a character with the Ally
as a corresponding advantage on the check (an
[Name] distinction: Confer with the
adversity becoming a distinction, or an anxiety GM to select a
becoming a passion, for instance). $$ You have proven yourself to a someone, who is campaign-appropriate
willing to help you (within reason). They are open NPC when choosing this
Advantages and disadvantages can be turned during advantage, and record
to sharing what they know about most topics,
Step 4: Modify Rolled Dice, before they are consoli- this character’s name in
whether via a face-to-face meeting or written the Relationships sec-
dated or resolved. As in all matters, the GM is the final
correspondence. They are also willing to arrange tion of your character
arbiter of whether the use of an advantage or disad- sheet.
introductions for you with people they know.
vantage is appropriate.

Advantages, Disadvantages, and the Narrative


Advantages and disadvantages are as much nar- of the campaign, as certain choices (such as Shad-
rative hooks as they are mechanical effects. If owlands Taint or Momoku) can have a substantial
you take something like Blissful or Bitter Betroth- impact on a story.
al, you’re telling the GM you want your spouse Advantages and disadvantages can encap-
or spouse-to-be to appear during play, because sulate the core of your character, but they aren’t
otherwise you won’t have a chance to reroll dice meant to restrict you from adding other narrative
or use the narrative effects these confer. Players details to your character. Complex backstories,
and GMs should consult with one another on the ancestry, and relationships should exist beyond
advantages and disadvantages they want to use what is represented on the character sheet, and
and ensure that they fit within the intended tone that can still guide how you roleplay your character.

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$$ When performing a check that benefits from $$ When performing a check for which the favor of
your close relationship with the character (such the Fortune Benten is a benefit (such as an Aes-
as a Courtesy [Water] check to requisition an thetics [Air] check to say something insightful
item through them or a Sentiment [Water] about a piece of art or a Courtesy [Air] check to
check to read their emotions), you may reroll convince someone of your positive qualities),
up to two dice. you may reroll up to two dice.

Ambidexterity (Air) Bishamon’s Blessing (Water)


The eager bandits circled the wagon. The wagon driver The walls of many an inn in Rokugan ring with a well-
froze in his seat, hands raised and white as a ghost. known song, “The Badger and the Stone,” a ballad
With a heavy sigh, the wagon’s sole, unexpected that tells the tale of an ancient battle far in the Great
passenger hopped down from the back onto the dusty Wall of the North Mountains.
road. She was as haggard and unkempt as the bandits The story goes that a vicious tribe of Yobanjin
themselves, but jammed into her makeshift belt were were surging through a mountain pass, only to be
two fine katana. As she drew the swords with both stopped by a single nameless samurai of the Badger
hands, the bandits realized that they had chosen poorly. Clan, who called upon the Fortune Bishamon for aid
and lifted an immense stone, hurling it down the walls
Types: Physical of the pass. The mighty stone triggered an avalanche,
Effects: The following apply to a character with the which crushed the foreign invaders and sealed the
Ambidexterity distinction: pass forever.

$$ As you have no dominant hand, you can com- Types: Physical, Spiritual
pensate if your right hand is injured or lost. Effects: The following apply to a character with the
$$ When making a check for which your equal skill Bishamon’s Blessing distinction:
with both hands is a benefit (such as a Martial
$$ You recover from physical exhaustion twice as
Arts [Melee] [Air] check to strike an unexpected
quickly as others.
blow with a weapon in your left hand or a Skul-
duggery [Air] check to stealthily pick someone’s $$ When performing a check for which the favor
pocket), you may reroll up to two dice. of this Fortune is a benefit (such as a Fitness
[Water] check to recover from exhaustion or a
Martial Arts [Unarmed] [Water] check to subdue
Benten’s Blessing (Air) a foe), you may reroll up to two dice.
Daidoji Shingen sauntered down the gangplank from the
dock to his waiting vessel, a broad smile spreading across Blackmail on [Name] (Fire)
his face. His crew gathered around their returning captain.
“I had hoped to find you here,” Yogo Hiroue began.
“We have safe harbor here, and a fine market in
“It has been too long since we last spoke plainly.”
which to sell our cargo. Start offloading.” The crew
cheered, and set to work. Shingen’s first mate, Hiramichi
Anjiro, remained behind, scratching his head idly. Types: Interpersonal
“I don’t know how you managed that, Captain.” Effects: The following apply to a character with the
Shingen winked. “Let’s just say that the lady of the palace Blackmail on [Name] distinction:
was kindly disposed toward a wayward sea captain.” $$ You have incriminating information on an indi-
vidual, which you use to force them to help you
Types: Interpersonal, Spiritual even when doing so may damage their reputa-
Effects: The following apply to a character with the tion. They will share what knowledge they have
Benten’s Blessing distinction: about a given person, item, location, or situa-
tion, whether through a face-to-face meeting or
$$ After interacting with a character for one or
through written correspondence. They will also
more scenes, you know with certainty whether
arrange for introductions with exclusive mem-
they are open to your romantic aspirations or if
bers of society or places of business. Confer
they are categorically uninterested.
with the GM to select a campaign-appropriate
NPC when choosing this advantage.

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CHAPT ER 2: CR EATING A CHAR ACTER

$$ When performing a check to demand favors of $$ When performing a check for which your good
the chosen individual (such as a Courtesy [Fire] relationship with your betrothed or spouse is
check to remind them of the consequences a benefit (such as a Courtesy [Water] check to
of their disobeying you or a Command [Fire] persuade someone from their family or clan to
check to order them to risk themself on your assist you), you may reroll up to two dice.
behalf), you may reroll up to two dice.

Daikoku’s Blessing (Water)


Blessed Lineage (Void) There were few merchants in all of Rokugan who had
“Perhaps you’d like to match your words with your a sharper grasp of finance and trade than the Yasuki
steel,” the woman growled, her hands resting upon family, leading to a reputation for being cunning and
the hilts of her swords. “You will learn a hard lesson: shrewd in equal measure.
nobody insults Mirumoto Ohatsu with impunity.”
The man she faced smiled in return. Types: Interpersonal, Spiritual
“I certainly did not intend to offend you in any way, Effects: The following apply to a character with the
Ohatsu-san. Please allow me to introduce myself. I am Daikoku’s Blessing distinction:
Miya Matsuo. Perhaps you have heard of my cousin,
the Imperial Herald?” $$ After spending one or more scenes in a rele-
vant market, you can always discern whether a
Types: Interpersonal, Spiritual given commodity or service’s value is going to
Effects: The following apply to a character with the rise or fall in the next month.
Blessed Lineage distinction: $$ When performing a check for which your strong
$$ Characters with status of 50 or higher under- financial knowledge benefits (such as a Govern-
stand that they might suffer a loss of prestige if ment [Water] check to know where to acquire
they harm you, and thus do not choose to kill goods), you may reroll up to two dice.
you as their first option, even if you are a polit-
ical obstacle they would otherwise eliminate Dangerous Allure (Fire)
without hesitation.
Every samurai of Rokugan knows the tale of the
$$ When performing a check for which your Crimson Maiden of Jideki. It is the story of a young
esteemed lineage is a benefit (such as a Com- samurai who falls instantly in love with a beautiful
mand [Void] check to challenge someone’s per- dancer at a palace feast. The maiden danced into
ception of a situation or a Government [Void] the mists of the night, and the samurai followed. She
check to know the likelihood of a political even- turned to him and raised her arms, calling him to
tuality), you may reroll up to two dice. embrace her, only to fade from sight as he stepped to
her—and fell off the cliff overlooking the sea.
A ghost story for a cold night, perhaps—but also
Blissful Betrothal (Water) a lesson about the dangers of pursuing beauty alone.
Autumn nights, it seems
Are long by repute alone: Types: Physical, Interpersonal
Scarcely had we met Effects: The following apply to a character with the
When morning’s first light appeared, Dangerous Allure distinction:
Leaving everything unsaid. $$ You always make an impression, and NPCs
remember your name and face after interacting
Types: Interpersonal with you for one or more scenes (unless you
Effects: The following apply to a character with the take pains to disguise yourself).
Blissful Betrothal distinction:
$$ When performing a check for which your good
$$ Your spouse fulfills certain social duties in your looks are a benefit (such as a Command [Fire]
name when you are absent (such as attending check to get someone to act in spite of the
events or caring for family members), provides possible consequences or a Performance [Fire]
assistance in their areas of expertise, and offers check to incite emotion in someone), you may
counsel when you face a difficult decision. reroll up to two dice.

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Ebisu’s Blessing (Earth) Famously Lucky (Void)


Ryuichi, a poor blacksmith, entered the championship “A master is one who leaves their mark upon the
with a sword of his own making and a patchwork set of world through their endeavors. In such undertakings,
mismatched armor. four great influences may affect the outcome:
The day before he was to begin the tournament, Proficiency, Preparedness, Destiny, and Luck.
his armor was stolen by a thief—perhaps at the behest Despite humanity’s beliefs, the greatest of these is Luck.”
of another competitor. Crestfallen, Ryuichi prepared to – Tao of Shinsei
return home.
However, on the day of the tournament, he awoke to Types: Fame, Interpersonal
a brand new suit of armor, made by the fellow laborers Effects: The following apply to a character with the
to whom he had always shown kindness. Clad in his new Famously Lucky distinction:
armor, Ryuichi won the tournament that year and was
made a samurai in the service of the Kaiu family. $$ Other people have heard of you for your good
fortune, and they believe it by default unless
Types: Physical, Spiritual given evidence to the contrary.
Effects: The following apply to a character with the $$ When performing a check for which you need
Ebisu’s Blessing distinction: to leverage your reputation for having things
turn out your way (such as a Command [Void]
$$ Laborers recognize you as a kindred spirit, and check to get your troops to put their faith
characters with status 30 or lower are innately trust- in you utterly or a Games [Void] check to let
ing of you unless you give them reason not to be. fate decide the match), you may reroll up to
$$ When performing a check for which the bless- two dice.
ing of this Fortune is useful (such as a Com-
merce [Earth] check to safely transport goods
or a Labor [Earth] check to plow a field), you Famously Reliable (Earth)
may reroll up to two dice.
When the lord came to see how the smith was
proceeding on his sword, he found the smithy a
shambles, the river running through the forge, and the
Famously Honest (Air) smith with his robes tied up around his middle.
Nobody thought that Hida Suzu’s marriage to Kakita “Tsi-san,” said the great lord. “I trust my sword will
Hideaki was auspicious, least of all Suzu herself, who made be ready tomorrow, as we agreed?”
her feelings about Crane pretentiousness quite plain on “Of course, great lord,” said the smith, bowing
several occasions. And yet, decades later, Grandmother low. “This is only a minor setback.”
Suzu’s time is highly sought-after in the Esteemed Palace – The Trials of Tsi Wenfu, author unknown
of the Crane, for in a land of insinuation, advice one can
trust without scrutiny is invaluable. Types: Fame, Interpersonal
Effects: The following apply to a character with the
Types: Fame, Interpersonal Famously Reliable distinction:
Effects: The following apply to a character with the
Famously Honest distinction: $$ Other people have heard of you for your
remarkable adherence to your oaths and
$$ Other people have heard of you for your hon- responsibilities, even over and above most
esty, and they believe you by default unless samurai, and they believe it by default unless
given evidence to the contrary. given evidence to the contrary.
$$ When performing a check for which you can $$ When performing a check for which you need
leverage your reputation for telling the truth to leverage your reputation for keeping your
(such as a Command [Air] check to convince oaths and bargains (such as a Command
someone of a statement’s veracity, or a Com- [Earth] check to calm a panicked soldier or
merce [Air] check to sell an item at an inflated a Performance [Earth] check to relate a tale
price), you may reroll up to two dice. that inspires patience), you may reroll up to
two dice.

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CHAPT ER 2: CR EATING A CHAR ACTER

Famously Successful (Fire) Flexibility (Water)


“Victory will make even the most honorable of samurai The door to the cell opened with a crash, and the guard
forget the stains of your dishonor. Seize victory and stood there, dumbfounded. The prisoner, Nekoma
your legend will speak only of your greatness. Akodo Katsushiro, was nowhere to be seen, and the ropes that
knew this, even if he dared not put it to words.” had bound him lay pooled in the center of the room.
– Bayushi Kiriko’s commentary on Leadership As the guard entered the cell, he was suddenly
struck on the head by a heavy wooden food bowl and
Types: Fame, Interpersonal slumped to the floor, unconscious.
Effects: The following apply to a character with the Katsushiro dropped from where he had braced
Famously Successful distinction: himself between the two ceiling beams, landing
lightly, without a sound. “Let that be a lesson to you.
$$ Other people have heard of you for your ability Everyone knows that you can’t tie up a cat.”
to get results at any cost, and they believe it by
default unless given evidence to the contrary. Types: Physical
$$ When performing a check for which you need Effects: The following apply to a character with the
to leverage your reputation for efficiency (such Flexibility distinction:
as a Courtesy [Fire] check to convince your lord
$$ You can fit through spaces too tight for most
to give you a position or a Tactics [Fire] check
people, allowing you access to places others
to get enemy troops to withdraw in the face of
cannot reach.
a show of force), you may reroll up to two dice.
$$ When performing a check for which your physi-
cal flexibility is a benefit (such as a Performance
Famously Wealthy (Water) [Water] check to perform a dance or a Martial
Arts [Unarmed] [Water] check to grapple anoth-
“Wealth isn’t the same as money. A merchant who
er person), you may reroll up to two dice.
works hard and gets lucky can get rich, but she won’t
attain a reputation for wealth until she learns to
spend it.” Kasuga Kana picked up the barley tea and
Fukurokujin’s Blessing (Fire)
sipped, admiring the view of Friendly Traveler Village’s
dingy streets. The Sacred Library is located at Fire Tooth Castle. It
“But master, you hardly ever spend money. We contains an untold number of ancient manuscripts,
made this journey on foot!” organized in a manner that only the shugenja of the
Kana turned back to her apprentice. “We aren’t Agasha family can understand. No outsiders are permitted
merchants, Goro. Money helps us serve the Emperor, to enter, no scrolls are permitted to leave the premises,
but a warm welcome in a fine inn when we arrive in and if any petitioner requires information held within its
town would make our real job that much harder.” walls, a librarian is tasked to retrieve it for them—and then,
only with the written permission of the Agasha daimyō.
Types: Fame, Interpersonal
Effects: The following apply to a character with the Types: Mental, Spiritual
Famously Wealthy distinction: Effects: The following apply to a character with the
Fukurokujin’s Blessing distinction:
$$ Other people have heard of you for your
riches or ability to procure wealth, and they $$ You always know the nearest location where
believe it by default unless given evidence to you can undertake research on a given subject,
the contrary. and can complete research in half the time it
would take another character.
$$ When performing a check for which you need
to leverage your reputation for access to $$ When performing a check for which the blessing
resources (such as a Commerce [Water] check of this Fortune is a benefit (such as a Medicine
to buy goods on credit or a Courtesy [Water] [Fire] check to experiment with a cure for a
check to win over a group of people), you may strange new malady or a Survival [Fire] check to
reroll up to two dice. speculate on a creature’s possible qualities based
on its physiology), you may reroll up to two dice.

105
Jurojin’s Blessing (Void)
The Order of Longevity, a sect of the Brotherhood
of Shinsei, was founded in the seventh century to
provide healing to people suffering during the Great
Famine. The order trains its initiates in the treatment
of disease, infection, and wounds, and it offers solace
and shelter to those in need. Many of the order are
extremely long-lived, remaining in good health long
into their autumn years.

Types: Physical, Spiritual


Effects: The following apply to a character with the
Jurojin’s Blessing distinction:

$$ You do not contract mundane diseases, and


you recover from poisons and supernatu-
ral maladies in half the time it would take
someone else.
$$ When performing a check for which you need to
survive and remain vital (such as a Fitness [Void]
Indomitable Will (Earth) check to resist spiritual contamination or a Survival
The travelers cowered as the ghost, shrieking hideously, [Void] check to get by on bare minimum supplies),
drifted toward them from the ruins of the ancient you may reroll up to two dice.
temple where they’d chosen to make camp for the
night. The moonlight lent the spirit an unearthly glow,
and its howls echoed in their ears as it grew ever closer. Keen Balance (Earth)
“It is a gaki—a hungry ghost!” shouted Yogo
During the Obon Festival of 1120, in the City of the
Kikuyo, stepping between the travelers and the spirit
Open Hand, Bayushi Aramoro, the half-brother of the
as she rummaged through her bag.
Scorpion Clan Champion, was challenged by a rival
“Are you not afraid?” shouted one of her
to a race from one side of the city to the other, as a
companions, as he clutched at her waist, trying to
test of how well they knew the twists and turns of the
draw her back from the wailing apparition.
many alleys.
“I am not,” Kikuyo said, as she drew a paper ofuda
Aramoro watched calmly, eating an apple, as his
talisman, inscribed with blessings, from her satchel. “I
rival broke into a run, quickly disappearing into the
am familiar with its sort.”
labyrinthine warrens of the city streets. He finished the
apple, walked over to the nearest building, and scaled
Types: Mental, Interpersonal the wall, rapidly reaching the roof. Then, dashing
Effects: The following apply to a character with the across the rooftops of the city with unerring accuracy,
Indomitable Will distinction: he arrived at the agreed-upon finish line a full half an
hour before his opponent.
$$ You can always choose to stand your ground,
even when faced with untenable odds, super-
natural terrors, or sorcerous powers that bend Types: Mental, Physical
the minds of lesser souls. Effects: The following apply to a character with the
Keen Balance distinction:
$$ When performing a check for which you need
to keep your cool when dealing with danger $$ When moving across treacherous terrain (such
(such as a Command [Earth] check to give as rooftops or the rigging of a ship), as long as
orders under pressure or a Meditation [Earth] nobody is hindering you, you do not fall.
check to resist the effects of fear), you may $$ When performing a check for which your balance
reroll up to two dice.
is a benefit (such as a Fitness [Earth] check to
resist being knocked down or moved or a Sea-
faring [Earth] check to withstand getting seasick
during a storm), you may reroll up to two dice.

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CHAPT ER 2: CR EATING A CHAR ACTER

Keen Hearing (Air) rare poison—it left the discoloration on the tips of her
thumbs when she held the paper to read…like so.” She
Kakita Toshimoko crept silently across the darkened pantomimed a demonstration, holding an imaginary
bedchamber, bearing his katana in one hand. With the letter before her.
other, he reached out and gently shook the sleeping “How in the world did you spot that?” Koshigi
form of Doji Hotaru, the Crane Clan Champion. asked, amazed.
Immediately, she was awake and reaching for the “I looked,” said Yuikimi.
blade at her bedside.
Toshimoko quickly raised his finger to his lips, Types: Physical, Mental
bidding her to keep silent. She nodded, and rose Effects: The following apply to a character with the
from the bed, drawing her sword. Toshimoko leaned Keen Sight distinction:
forward, so that Hotaru alone could hear him whisper.
“The castle has been breached.” He cocked his $$ You can spot details of objects at a much great-
head slightly. “Five, clothed lightly, on the roof.” He er distance than others can, and you pick up on
moved his head slowly, focusing on sounds that only small visual details that others might overlook.
he could hear. “One of them is carrying a kusari-gama. $$ When performing a check for which you need
Its chain rattles slightly.”
to spot details or see things at a distance (such
“Shinobi,” Hotaru breathed.
as an Aesthetics [Water] check to spot minor
details in an art piece or a Martial Arts [Ranged]
Types: Physical, Mental [Water] check to hit a faraway target), you may
Effects: The following apply to a character with the reroll up to two dice.
Keen Hearing distinction:

You can hear noises that others do not detect,


Keen Smell (Fire)
$$

and you can assess your environment by sound


alone. Even in darkness, you can accurately The bandits had been plaguing the village of Nemuro
pinpoint the location of people and other mov- for several weeks, striking at random and disappearing
ing objects in your immediate vicinity. back into the forest. The villagers had asked their lord
$$ When performing a check for which you need for aid, and Hiruma Kogoe, the famed archer and
to hear soft, distant, or subtle noises (such as a tracker, was dispatched.
Courtesy [Air] check to eavesdrop at a distance Kogoe led a handful of brave villagers into the
where you are not noticed or a Survival [Air] woods to put an end to the bandit problem once and
check to listen to an animal’s movement before for all. Several hours into the forest, she held her hand
springing a trap), you may reroll up to two dice. up, motioning for the group to come to a halt.
“Got them. They’re in a camp, two…” She sniffed
the air. “…two and a half miles east of here. The fools
Keen Sight (Water) lit a cooking fire.”

Kitsuki Yuikimi walked slowly around the corpse of Lady Types: Physical, Mental
Shimada, three times, pausing briefly several times on Effects: The following apply to a character with the
her way. Magistrate Koshigi grew more impatient with Keen Smell distinction:
each passing moment.
“Well, as you can see, your time has been wasted $$ You always remember scents you have expe-
here,” the magistrate rumbled. “Now, if you’ll excuse rienced before, and you can identify by smell
me, I need to have a message sent to Lord Shimada things that others would certainly overlook.
that his wife has passed away…” $$ When performing a check for which you need
“Murdered,” muttered Yuikimi.
to use your sense of smell (such as a Labor
“Excuse me?”
[Fire] check to experiment with a new recipe or
“Lady Shimada did not pass away; she was
a Survival [Fire] check to determine if a plant is
murdered. I spotted a slight discoloration of her
poisonous based on its smell), you may reroll
thumbs. I think you’ll find that the letter there on her
up to two dice.
desk is the cause. The paper has been soaked in a

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Karmic Tie (Void) seen in Rokugan. If you were to ask the children of the
City of Remembrance, however, they would swear that
She walked over one thousand li, slept in shrines or under they have one in their town.
farmer’s carts, ate millet and drank nothing but well- Isonashi, a samurai who serves the governor of the
water. Bit by bit, she sold her finery and what few jewels city, stands nearly double the height of an average
she had, even the sandals from her feet, until all she had man and is easily three times as broad. He wields an
were her swords and a kimono dusty from the road. immense naginata built specifically for his size. If he
Mirumoto Kanako came at last to the castle of her is not a giant, he’s the closest thing to one anyone in
soul’s twin. How she longed to finally lay eyes on this Rokugan has ever seen.
person who held half her self in their heart.
Types: Physical
Types: Interpersonal, Spiritual Effects: The following apply to a character with the
Effects: The following apply to a character with the Large Stature distinction:
Karmic Tie distinction:
$$ You can easily reach objects on high shelves,
$$ You have a supernatural tie with another char- are easy to spot in a crowd, can see over
acter of your choosing, and as if you had a sixth other people, and tend to hit your head
sense, you can tell when the character to whom on doorways.
you are karmically tied is in danger or has died.
$$ When performing a check for which you can
You always know the general direction they are
take advantage of your size (such as a Fitness
located in, even if they are separated from you
[Earth] check to hold up a heavy object or a
by thousands of li.
Labor [Earth] check to build the frame of a
$$ When performing a check to act on behalf of house), you may reroll up to two dice.
the one with whom you share a bond (such as a
Composition [Void] check to express your tru-
est feelings in a poem or a Martial Arts [Melee] Paragon of a Bushidō
[Void] check to fight on their behalf), you may Tenet (Various)
reroll up to two dice.
“The heroes of myth—even the ones who were not
of divine blood—did not live as humans do. It is
Kisshōten’s Blessing (Water) impossible to embody an ideal without surpassing
some part of your own humanity.”
Children in Rokugan are welcomed into the world with
the reverence given to an old friend, for indeed, one
Types: Mental, Virtue
never knows the child’s past life identity.
Pick One: Compassion (Water), Courage (Fire), Cour-
tesy (Air), Duty and Loyalty (Earth), Honor (Void), Righ-
Types: Physical, Spiritual teousness (Void), Sincerity (Void). A character may
Effects: The following apply to a character with the Kis- have multiple instances of this advantage for different
shōten’s Blessing distinction: tenets. Each tenet (Paragon of Courage, Paragon of
Courtesy, etc.) counts as a separate advantage, and
$$ Children enjoy being around you and are much
a character may have more than one such advantage.
more receptive to your demands. Your own
Effects: The following apply to a character with the
children (if you have any) are particularly bless-
Paragon of a Bushidō Tenet distinction:
ed with health, beauty, happiness, and luck.
$$ You believe utterly in the chosen Bushidō tenet,
$$ When performing a check for which you need
and others instinctively discern that your actions
to communicate with children (such as a Com-
are genuine when you act in accordance with it.
mand [Water] check to order them around or a
Performance [Water] check to entertain them), $$ When performing a check for which you need
you may reroll up to two dice. to convince others of, or leverage your faith
in, the Bushidō tenet (such as a Performance
Large Stature (Earth) check to recount a tale that impresses its
importance upon others or a Martial Arts
Many children’s stories feature tales of giants. They are [Melee] check to take up arms for this cause),
said to live in distant lands, but none have ever been you may reroll up to two dice.

108
CHAPT ER 2: CR EATING A CHAR ACTER

Precise Memory (Earth) arbiter of how much you can prepare or how
much distance you can achieve before the rest
The great libraries of the Phoenix Clan’s Asako family of the scene begins.
are home to a specialized group of scholars, renowned
$$ When performing a check for which you must
across Rokugan for their tremendous natural talent for
act swiftly (such as a Meditation [Fire] check to
memorization. The Asako Loremasters train in a special
generate initiative during a duel or a Survival
school, sharpening their skills in research and delving
[Fire] check to put together a makeshift weap-
into multiple topics in order to intuit the connections
on), you may reroll up to two dice.
between different fields of study. This practice gives
them a nearly unique ability to grasp the connections
between apparently unrelated bits of information.
The Asako Libraries are a priceless repository of
Seasoned (Void)
knowledge, home to an unrivaled collection of original “If you’re here to stop me, you’re wasting your time.
manuscripts, yet the minds of the scholars themselves I’ve made up my mind,” said Aika.
are the greatest prize found within its walls. “Stop you?” Yayoi smiled. “I’m not here to stop
you. If this is the course your heart has set, I know I
Types: Mental can’t divert it. I stood on this road once, and I’ll walk it
Effects: The following apply to a character with the again with you today.”
Precise Memory distinction: Aika took her aunt’s traveling pack and placed it on
the horse. “I’ll be making a fast pace, and I can’t afford
$$ You can recall anything you have read or heard to be slowed by distractions or longwinded stories. If
within the current game session exactly, and you fall behind, I’m leaving you.”
you often dredge up older facts with much Yayoi smiled. “Of course. Let’s make haste then. I
greater ease than others. have an old friend who can ferry us to Broken Wave
$$ When performing a check for which you must City, and perhaps beyond.”
recall details precisely (such as a Games [Earth]
check to recall the opening moves of a classic Types: Mental, Interpersonal
defensive strategy in shōgi or a Government Effects: The following apply to a character with the
[Earth] check to remember the specifics of a Seasoned distinction:
historical event), you may reroll up to two dice.
$$ You are older and more worldly than most of
your fellows and have learned a few things
Quick Reflexes (Fire) along the way. While you do not start with addi-
tional experience, your experience expenditures
The duelist Bayushi Eiya, known as the Artist of Death, might reflect “revealing” aspects of yourself you
is renowned for three things: One: his intricate mask, have held back to avoid overshadowing your
said by some to cover a small scar that marks his only younger companions. You have met members of
defeat and by others to conceal nothing at all. Two: many cultures and organizations, and you know
his ruthless sword—his dueling style inflicts maximum how to properly behave in almost any city in
punishment upon his opponent before delivering the Rokugan—and perhaps even beyond. You also
final stroke. And three: the speed of his attack. A great know many other older people, and the number
calligrapher, he was inspired by the quick movements and variety of your acquaintances often surprises
of his brush, each stroke seeming to seek out lines on your younger companions.
its own. He transferred his art to the movement of his
$$ When performing a check for which your hard-
blade, and now possesses a fluid and terrible grace.
earned wisdom is an advantage (such as a
Courtesy [Void] check to impart wisdom to an
Types: Physical, Interpersonal
impetuous comrade or a Theology [Void] check
Effects: The following apply to a character with the
to intuit whether a spirit will appreciate your
Quick Reflexes distinction:
offering), you may reroll up to two dice.
$$ At the start of each scene, you can always grab
an item within reach or reposition it a few pac-
es within your environment. The GM is the final

109
C H APT E R 2 : C R E AT I N G A C H AR ACT ER

Sixth Sense (Void) Subtle Observer (Air)


It is said that the Kuni Witch Hunters of the Crab Clan, The lady of the house poured the tea, turning the cups
tasked with hunting down mahō-tsukai and other and performing all the rituals in perfect accord with
servants of the Shadowlands that operate within the tradition. When she had finished, Kaitaro bowed low.
Empire, have the ability to sense the presence of ghosts, “My deepest apologies,” he said. “If I had realized you
spirits, and other supernatural beings. The Witch Hunters were in mourning I would not have trespassed on your
keep the Empire pure of the Taint of the Shadowlands, hospitality. I had no idea you were so intimate with
and they have been granted authority to execute mahō- your brother’s wife.”
tsukai and other practitioners of blood magic at their
sole discretion—at least within Crab lands. Types: Interpersonal, Mental
Effects: The following apply to a character with the
Types: Spiritual Subtle Observer distinction:
Effects: The following apply to a character with the
Sixth Sense distinction: $$ You can understand the cues that people give
off while speaking, and you can read people’s
$$ You have an instinctive sense of supernatural lips and facial expressions to understand what
beings, and you can feel the presence of spirits they are saying, even if you cannot hear them.
and similar entities even when they have not $$ When performing a check for which you need
chosen to reveal themselves. This feeling is to spot or use small details of other people
ominous in the presence of beings with evil nearby (such as a Courtesy [Air] check to reveal
intentions and neutral when the beings are an unpleasant truth pleasantly or a Sentiment
simply going about their business as usual. [Air] check to detect someone else’s weakness-
$$ When performing a check for which you need es), you may reroll up to two dice.
to follow your hunches (such as a Meditation
[Void] check to generate initiative during a duel
or a Theology [Void] check to detect a snarl in Support of [One Group] (Water)
the invisible threads of the universe), you may
Akodo Emi avoided the rōnin’s stroke narrowly,
reroll up to two dice.
sweeping at his feet to gain distance. He was good,
yet she could beat him. But not quickly, and time was
her true enemy tonight.
Small Stature (Air) Suddenly, a hail of slingstones clattered across the
In the cities of Rokugan, there is a rumor of a clan of ground near the rōnin’s feet. Down the street rushed
shinobi known as the Urchins, named for their practice several figures wearing the Mon of the Sparrow.
of recruiting and training only those who might easily
pass as children to an untrained eye. Witnesses to the Types: Interpersonal
assassination in 1102 of Lord Matsu Goden said that his Effects: The following apply to a character with the
assailants were a group of children who then disappeared Support of [One Group] distinction:
into the city streets, which only served to fuel the rumor.
$$ You have proven yourself to a particular group,
Types: Physical which is willing to help you when doing so will
Effects: The following apply to a character with the not damage its reputation. Its members will offer
Small Stature distinction: you their hospitality, including meals, a place to
rest, and medical attention if they have a healer.
$$ You can fit into small spaces, can hide behind They will also grant you access to their other
other people, are hard to spot in a crowd, and facilities, such as libraries, smithies, or stables.
sometimes need assistance reaching objects on Confer with the GM to select a campaign-appro-
high shelves. priate group when choosing this advantage.
$$ When performing a check for which being small $$ When performing a check to interact with the
is helpful (such as a Fitness [Air] check to resist members of the chosen group that relies on
a critical strike by evading or a Skulduggery your rapport (such as a Command [Water] check
[Air] check to pick someone’s pocket), you may to issue them orders or a Performance [Water]
reroll up to two dice. check to cause an audience of them to desire
something), you may reroll up to two dice.

110
CHAPT ER 2: CR EATING A CHAR ACTER

Specific Passions Types: Mental


Effects: The following apply to a character with the
A passion is not a character’s purpose in life, but many Armament passion:
passions reflect the smaller interests that make life
$$ Unless the piece comes from outside of the
worth living.
Emerald Empire, you know the name of any
weapon or piece of armor you encounter, are
Animal Bond (Earth) aware of its function, and have a rudimentary
The rat ran down the length of the dungeon corridor understanding of how to equip and wield it.
until it came to the cell at the end. Clenched in its $$ After performing a check to make or study
mouth was an iron ring, from which hung several keys. arms or armor (such as a Smithing [Earth] check
“Good boy, Genki,” said Sorata, stretching his to polish a suit of armor or a Tactics [Earth]
fingers out beneath the heavy wooden door of his cell. check to know how to arrange a proper spear
“Give them here. The innkeeper should have donated formation), you remove 3 strife.
that meal to me, to give luck to his establishment!
Imagine! Calling the magistrate. On me!”
The rat pushed the keys within reach, and Sorata Brushwork (Air)
pulled them quickly beneath the door. “Yes, yes,”
Sorata continued as the rat squeaked. “I’m sure I have a There are few arts more respected in Rokugan than
few crumbs of cheese for you. Just give me a moment.” those of the calligrapher and painter. The grace and
precision of the brush, able to capture life or thought
upon paper, is a discipline that few master.
Types: Interpersonal, Mental
The greatest practitioners of the brush are revered
Effects: The following apply to a character with the
for more than just the works they produce; they are
Animal Bond passion:
admired for their mastery of self, the inward focus on
$$ Reciprocating your interest, a small, mundane achievement through great effort.
animal of some kind has attached itself to you.
Choose one silhouette 0 or 1 animal; it follows Types: Mental, Physical
you around wherever you go and generally acts Effects: The following apply to a character with the
as your companion. It can be cajoled to do what Brushwork passion:
you want, but it might need incentives (usually
food) to perform difficult tasks on demand. If
$$ You can identify the signature styles of numer-
you are granted an animal as part of your start- ous different schools and individual artists, as
ing outfit, that animal can be your companion well as common motifs and techniques.
(regardless of the usual size restrictions). $$ After performing a check to study or practice
$$ After performing a check to interact with an brushwork (such as an Aesthetics [Air] check to
animal (such as a Medicine [Earth] check to assess a painting’s qualities and artist or a Com-
mend its injuries or a Survival [Earth] check to position [Air] check to add the finishing touches
calm it), you remove 3 strife. to a letter written in calligraphy), you
remove 3 strife.

Armament (Earth)
“The craftsmanship on this truly is exquisite,” Ikoma
Eiji said, examining the spear on the table before
him. The weapon had an eight-foot shaft of
strong wood, surmounted by a two-foot
blade carved with intricate symbols.
“Great Fortunes! Do you realize
what this is? These carvings…” he ran
his finger along the crest engraved
into the metal of the blade. “This is
Kotoku, the ancestral weapon of the
Daidoji family!”
C H APT E R 2 : C R E AT I N G A C H AR ACT ER

Curiosity (Fire) Types: Spiritual


Effects: The following apply to a character with the
“A curious mind is a blessing. Yet, one should be Enlightenment passion:
careful, when following the object of one’s whims of
the moment, that the object does not become like the $$ You feel no attachment to mundane items
shining lure used to catch fish in a river. The fish who and earthly titles; you cannot be tempted with
chases the lure ends up over rice.” material wealth or the promise of power.
– Analects of Nabeshima $$ After performing a check to detach yourself from
material concerns (such as a Meditation [Void]
Types: Mental check to contemplate your place in the universe
Effects: The following apply to a character with the or a Survival [Void] check to exist in harmony
Curiosity passion: with your environment), you remove 3 strife.
$$ The first time you attempt a new task and fail,
you always think of another route you could
Fashion (Fire)
take to try to overcome or learn more about
the problem. Akodo Fudai stood before the polished mirror as
the tailors worked around him, wheeling and turning
$$ After performing a check to seek answers to an
like birds in a flock. Silk was layered upon silk, and
intriguing question (such as a Medicine [Fire]
patterned with fine brocade etching out flowers and
check to create a new chemical concoction
trees. It was a flattering effect, and he would be certain
or a Theology [Fire] check to try to determine
to cut a dashing figure at the Crane’s Winter Court.
the metaphysical underpinnings of a particular
I despise the Crane, he thought, but even I must
kami’s behavior), you remove 3 strife.
admit, they know how to make a fine kimono.

Daredevil (Fire) Types: Interpersonal, Mental


Effects: The following apply to a character with the
“Those who fear to act have already failed. Fashion passion:
Lose your fear, and gain the world.”
–Tao of Shinsei $$ You always know the current trends in your home
region, and you can identify what is in vogue (and
Types: Mental, Physical how to take advantage of that fact) in a new place
Effects: The following apply to a character with the after spending one or more scenes there.
Daredevil passion: $$ After performing a check to interact with
clothes, jewelry, or other worn works of art
$$ You can risk your life without consideration or
(such as a Culture [Fire] check to theorize about
hesitation, even if the potential consequences
what others might wear at the next Winter
are obvious and dire.
Court or a Design [Fire] check to create a stun-
$$ After performing a check to risk your life (such as ning work), you remove 3 strife.
a Fitness [Fire] check to resist a critical strike or
a Games [Fire] check to win a contest in a flashy
and physically risky way), you remove 3 strife. Fortune-Telling (Void)
“For the second time this month, the constellation of the
Enlightenment (Void) Flying Carp was obscured by a darkness without apparent
source, and the moon appeared to have a golden cast
For some, the Tao of Shinsei is like a road map left by to its light, with the Five Sisters glowing brightly directly
the great teacher but written in a code that must be above. This portends misfortune. Any child born under
deciphered. For others, it is a process of abandoning this inauspicious sign will surely come to a sad end.”
the self and freeing the soul of all illusions, to see – From the diary of Imperial Astrologer Seppun Seimei
the universe as it is. Yet others claim that there is no
Enlightenment, only an endless process of insight and Types: Mental, Spiritual
awakening, an opening of doors that only lead to more Effects: The following apply to a character with the
doors to be opened: the goal is the journey itself. Fortune-Telling passion:

112
CHAPT ER 2: CR EATING A CHAR ACTER

$$ You can identify any common portents (such as $$ After performing a check to spread or receive
constellations and other stellar phenomena, the rumors (such as a Courtesy [Air] check to cast
cracks in oracle bones, the appearance of certain someone in a certain light when telling a story
animals, and various other signs of things to about them or a Culture [Air] check to read peo-
come), along with their implications for the future. ple’s current anxieties from the subtle ways they
obey or break etiquette), you remove 3 strife.
$$ After performing a check to discern the future
(such as a Survival [Void] check to look for small
omens in your earthly environs or a Theology
[Void] check to perform a divination by reading
History (Earth)
the stars), you remove 3 strife. “A samurai is no more than the sum of their memories;
an Empire no more than the sum of its history.”
– Analects of Nabeshima
Generosity (Water)
During the sixth month of the year after the biannual Types: Mental
collection of taxes, the city of Ryokō Owari Toshi Effects: The following apply to a character with the
celebrates the Days of Generosity. As the festival begins, History passion:
the head priest of the local temple draws a name in a $$ After a short time spent studying it, you can
lottery. The person whose name is drawn becomes
discern the era and context of any object,
“King of Generosity” and “rules” over the festival.
structure, or text you encounter—or else you
The festival is marked by gift giving and
know for certain that no chronicler of the Emer-
drunkenness. The festival king decides who the best
ald Empire has encountered this thing before.
gift giver is on each of the celebration’s three days.
That person receives a portion of the “king’s purse,” a $$ After performing a check to remember a his-
collection of coins given to the festival king to pay him torical anecdote (such as a Government [Earth]
for blessing the giver with a prosperous year ahead. check to draw parallels to past events or a
Smithing [Earth] check to know about past uses
Types: Interpersonal of and trends in the creation of tools and arti-
Effects: The following apply to a character with the facts), you remove 3 strife.
Generosity passion:

$$ You can always identify a proper gift for a par- Ikebana (Water)
ticular person that does not risk giving offense
The art of flower arranging is practiced by many nobles
or slighting them publicly.
of Rokugan. It is considered a subtle and beautiful
$$ After performing a check to acquire or give a form of expression, one that follows traditions and
gift (such as a Design [Water] check to select an methods that go back centuries.
item that complements someone’s wardrobe or The art reaches its zenith in the creation of a story
a Commerce [Water] check to find and select a garden, in which an ikebana master carefully arranges
gift at a market), you remove 3 strife. flowers to relate a particular tale, which unfolds for the
visitor as they wander the garden paths.

Gossip (Air) Types: Mental


The courts of Rokugan are a battlefield as deadly as Effects: The following apply to a character with the
any in war. The weapons are rumor, and innuendo, and Ikebana passion:
sharpened tongues. The wrong word in the right ear $$ You can always identify a plant by any of its
can spell the end of a career, a loss of standing, or
parts, and you know its physical properties and
even a loss of life.
its hanakotoba (“language of flowers”) meaning.

Types: Interpersonal $$ After performing a check related to flower


Effects: The following apply to a character with the arrangement (such as an Aesthetics [Water]
Gossip passion: check to rearrange or improve an ikebana piece
or a Survival [Water] check to acquire flowers
$$ At the start of each scene, you can always iden- from a marketplace), you remove 3 strife.
tify the character present who will know the
juiciest rumors (besides yourself, obviously).

113
C H APT E R 2 : C R E AT I N G A C H AR ACT ER

Playfulness (Air) $$ After performing a check to get a rise out of


someone (such as a Courtesy [Fire] check to
The warriors had been drinking most of the evening. call someone by an aggravating nickname or
It had been a long day, and the respite was welcome. a Command [Fire] check to get a group of sol-
Todoma, the largest of the group and well in his diers passionate and angry enough to storm an
cups, clumsily laid his sword upon the table they enemy position), you remove 3 strife.
shared, knocking over a few drinks in the process.
Over the sounds of protest, he declared. “From this
day forward, I shall call my blade ‘Heaven Cutter’!” Sake (Water)
Oriko slapped her friend on the back and replied
“Oh? You should hear what it calls you!” The assembled In the lands of the Crane Clan, the village of Sakura no
warriors roared with laughter, which, in the end, even Yuki famously brews a very rare sake, known as Cherry
Todoma joined. Blossom Snow. Despite its flawless clarity, this sake
features the subtle scent and flavor of cherries. The
recipe for producing it is a closely guarded secret known
Types: Interpersonal
only to the master brewers of the village and the daimyō
Effects: The following apply to a character with the
of the Asahina family, on whose land the village lies.
Playfulness passion:

$$ When you say something untoward to some- Types: Mental


one of lower or equal status, they write it off as Effects: The following apply to a character with the
your playful nature instead of being significant- Sake passion:
ly angered or saddened by it.
$$ You can identify regional variations in sake and
$$ After performing a check to gently mock or other alcohol, and you know a great deal about
chide someone (such as a Composition [Air] the various processes involved in making sake.
check to find the parts of a rival’s poem that It takes you twice as much alcohol as it does
you can echo with parody in your next piece or anyone else to become intoxicated.
a Courtesy [Air] check to tease someone with a
clever pun on their name), you remove 3 strife.
$$ After performing a check to interact with the
fine art of fermented beverages (such as a
Courtesy [Water] check to serve alcohol accord-
Provocation (Fire) ing to proper procedure in a social setting or
a Labor [Water] check to ferment rice), you
A popular pastime at Winter Court, the game of Sadane remove 3 strife.
is a test of quick thinking and sharp tongues in which
two contestants take turns exchanging politely worded
insults. Each insult must be a new contribution to the
argument; no repetitions or thematic restatements are
permitted. The criticisms continue until one participant
admits defeat or merely is at a loss for words. Losing
one’s temper is considered a major breach of etiquette,
as is saying anything overtly impolite.

Types: Interpersonal
Effects: The following apply to a character with the
Provocation passion:

$$ You can always identify a point of sensitivity


that you can push upon in another per-
son—though not whether they will take
your comment as slightly aggressive
banter or a grave insult.
CHAPT ER 2: CR EATING A CHAR ACTER

Secrets (Void) Tea (Void)


There is no thrill to compare to having a secret. It’s a “Without the bastions of civility that are teahouses,
thrill so delicious, it must be shared, for what is the the Empire would surely collapse into chaos.”
purpose of knowing what no one else knows, if no – Kakita Yoshi, Daimyō of the Kakita Family
one knows you know it? Especially in an Empire as
concerned with seeming and public face as Rokugan, Types: Physical, Spiritual
secrets are both currency and delight to many in the Effects: The following apply to a character with the
courts. Tea passion:

Types: Mental, Interpersonal $$ You can identify regional variations in tea, and
Effects: The following apply to a character with the you know a great deal about the process of
Secrets passion: preparing and drying leaves. In the wilder-
ness, you can acquire the natural ingredients
$$ You never forget a secret you have heard, and required to make rustic teas of various sorts
you instinctively know if something you have with relative ease.
heard is common knowledge or information $$ After performing a check to interact with tea
someone wants concealed (even if you do not (such as a Medicine [Void] check to brew a tea
know who or why). with ingredients that help the body recover from
$$ After performing a check to acquire or preserve illness or a Performance [Void] check to perform
a secret (such as a Meditation [Void] check a tea ceremony that helps the recipients contem-
to resist efforts to pry a secret from you or a plate their state in life), you remove 3 strife.
Sentiment [Void] check to have a hunch about
whether someone is concealing a dreadful
secret), you remove 3 strife. Travel (Water)
The old man sat heavily on the stool outside the
constabulary office. He removed his straw hat, wiped
Stories (Earth) his brow with his sleeve, and returned the hat to his
A person with the ability to weave a tale by a fireside head. His eyes, shaded by the wide brim, looked out
will often find that they need no coin for food or drink, at Yūka. The young girl smiled.
and, if the stories are particularly good, an innkeeper “Young lady, I have been from one side of Rokugan
may offer a room (or at least a bale of hay in the stable) to the other—from Khanbulak to the Islands of Silk
in return for entertaining the customers for an evening. and Spice—and I have seen amazing sights. I will tell
A storyteller must be careful to choose the right stories you this: in all my travels, I have become convinced of
for a particular audience, however. Tales considered by three things.” He counted them off on gnarled fingers.
the locals to be scandalous or insulting may result in “All crows are black, it always rains when you don’t
the necessity of a quick exit. want it to, and Rokugan’s greatest treasure—a prize
without equal—is its people.”
Types: Mental, Interpersonal
Effects: The following apply to a character with the Types: Mental, Physical
Stories passion: Effects: The following apply to a character with the
Travel passion:
$$ You can recall any story you have been told,
including the details that others would gloss $$ You are not unsettled by foreign customs,
over or forget. and you can comfortably fit in even in
strange environments.
$$ After performing a check to recall or tell a story
(such as a Performance [Earth] check to spin a $$ After performing a check to travel to a new loca-
tale to hearten comrades or a Theology [Earth] tion or interact with a novel thing (such as a Sur-
check to recite a passage from the Tao of Shin- vival [Water] check to try to identify a new plant,
sei or Akodo’s Leadership that is applicable to animal, or phenomenon, or a Seafaring [Water]
your situation), you remove 3 strife. check to travel by boat), you remove 3 strife.

115
Specific Disadvantages
Players and GMs should feel free to create disadvan-
tages as they see fit (see Creating Custom Advan-
tages and Disadvantages, on page 137), and this
section provides a number of premade disadvantages
designed to anchor characters in the Legend of the
Five Rings setting.
Each disadvantage lists the attached ring in paren-
theses after the name, along with its types (interper-
sonal, mental, physical, etc.), description, narrative
effects, and example checks for which it applies.

Specific Adversities
Adversities are things that make your character’s life
more difficult. Most are a result of your character’s cir-
Wordplay (Air) cumstances, and they are often beyond their control.
Each adversity has a unique narrative effect and
The language of Rokugan is particularly suited for
lists the standardized mechanical effect, which applies
wordplay. Words that sound alike can have different
in the circumstances described in the disadvantage.
meanings depending on the character used to write
When an adversity applies to a task a character is trying
them, and they can sound close to other words
to accomplish, during Step 3: Assemble and Roll Dice
altogether, allowing for puns of intricately layered
Pool, the character’s player must choose and reroll two
complexity. On top of that, Rokugani poets play with
dice containing  or  symbols (if results with these
symbolism, metaphor, and simile, adding another layer
symbols in the pool). After resolving the check, if the
of meaning. Crafting a clever construction of verbal
character failed, they gain 1 Void point.
legerdemain is a prized skill, and one that can ensure
one’s favor in the right circles.
Benten’s Curse (Air)
Types: Interpersonal, Mental One of the more popular tales of the rakugoka, the
Effects: The following apply to a character with the professional storytellers of Rokugan, is that of the Artless
Wordplay passion: Artist. A comedic tale, it is the story of a court artist who
was utterly lacking in any genuine talent and had such
$$ You can always identify rhetorical and literary
an unpleasant demeanor that nobody would ever love
patterns in the works of others when reading or
him. The telling of the tale varies from performance to
listening to them.
performance, with the rakugoka spinning unique and
$$ After performing a check to interpret or create outrageous recountings of the artist’s misadventures
a play on words (such as a Composition [Air] tailored to the tastes of their particular audience.
check to write a poem with a perfectly execut-
ed poetic pun or a Performance [Air] check to Types: Interpersonal, Spiritual
subtly imply something to your audience via a Effects: The following apply to a character with the
double meaning), you remove 3 strife. Benten’s Curse adversity:

$$ Your romantic efforts are always stymied


by circumstances, and your gestures to
get the romantic attention of others are
usually misinterpreted.

116
CHAPT ER 2: CR EATING A CHAR ACTER

$$ When you make a check to express your admi- $$ Something significantly complicates your
ration to someone (such as an Aesthetics [Air] relationship with your betrothed or spouse.
check to find the right poem to read to express As a result, they often undermine your efforts,
your feelings or a Courtesy [Air] check to tell whether out of malice, negligence, or an
someone your feelings without exceeding pro- incompatible set of goals.
priety), you must choose and reroll two dice $$ When you make a check that requires the col-
containing  or . After resolving the check, if laboration of your betrothed or spouse (such
you failed, you gain 1 Void point. as a Courtesy [Water] check to make a polite
request to their family for political backing or
Bishamon’s Curse (Water) a Culture [Water] check to know the proper
thing to do at a social function involving their
“A straightforward samurai is a well-honed blade,
relatives), you must choose and reroll two dice
valued for its purity of purpose and dependability
containing  or . After resolving the check, if
when called upon. A blunt samurai, however, is like a
you failed, you gain 1 Void point.
blunt blade: valued by none, and never called upon;
left as only a reminder of its former utility.”
–Akodo’s Leadership
Blackmailed by
Types: Physical, Spiritual
[Character’s Name] (Air)
Effects: The following apply to a character with the “I know of your misdeeds,” the letter simply said.
Bishamon’s Curse adversity: Otomo Kotsuyone laughed, knowing the would-be
blackmailer was surely listening. “My memory dims
$$ You find it very difficult to lift heavy objects, somewhat, the older I get. Would you care to remind
and it takes you twice as long as others to me which ones?”
regain your stamina after hard labor.

$$ When you make a check that relies on recov- Types: Interpersonal


ering quickly (such as a Fitness [Water] check Effects: The following apply to a character with the
to recover from exhaustion or the Gravely Blackmailed by [Character’s Name] adversity:
Wounded condition or a Martial Arts [Unarmed] $$ Someone has incriminating information on you,
[Water] check to train for an extended period
which they use to try and force you to help
of time), you must choose and reroll two dice
them even when doing so may damage your
containing  or . After resolving the check, if
reputation. You must share with them what
you failed, you gain 1 Void point.
knowledge you have about a given person,
item, location, or situation, whether through a
Bitter Betrothal (Water) face-to-face meeting or through written corre-
“My husband returns home tonight,” she said in a low spondence. You must also arrange for introduc-
whisper, passing the bag of coins beneath the table tions on their behalf with exclusive members of
to the men seated across from her. Nobody in this inn society or places of business.
knew her face, yet she still felt the need for caution. $$ When performing a check to evade complying
“He will be traveling via the eastern road.” with the character who is blackmailing you
“It shall be done,” said the leader. Without further (such as a Courtesy [Air] check to nominally tell
word, he and his companions rose from the table them what they want without giving away key
and left the inn. The room seemed somehow lighter pieces of information or a Performance [Air]
without them in it. check to pretend as though you will go through
Soon, she would be rid of him. with something they have demanded of you),
you must choose and reroll two dice containing
Types: Interpersonal  or . After resolving the check, if you failed,
Effects: The following apply to a character with the Bit- you gain 1 Void point.
ter Betrothal adversity:

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C H APT E R 2 : C R E AT I N G A C H AR ACT ER

Blindness (Water) disturbingly large Crab Clan samurai while desperately


trying to recall the man’s name.
Though Muika could not see the faces of the Shosuro’s “I didn’t see the server there, you see, and I’m
guests, she could tell by their voices whether or afraid that I rose at the wrong moment, and…”
not they had been truly invited. It was a perfect The Crab samurai stood, towering over the Fox
arrangement for the spymaster. Clan samurai. Noodles hung from his hair.
“Oh, my.”
Types: Physical, Scar
Effects: The following apply to a character with the Types: Physical
Blindness adversity: Effects: The following apply to a character with the
Clumsiness adversity:
$$ You are unable to see out of either eye. Your
lack of sight does not mean you cannot per- $$ You are physically imprecise when dealing with
ceive your surroundings (using your other sens- tasks that require notable dexterity (or any
es), but you cannot observe things that can be physical task, really). At the GM’s discretion, you
perceived only by sight. periodically drop items, make a mess of precise
$$ When you make a check for which sight is an crafting efforts, or slip and fall onto people.
asset that cannot easily be replaced by other $$ When you make a check that requires precise
senses (such as a Sentiment [Water] check to motor skills (such as a Fitness [Fire] check to
identify someone’s hostile intentions from across vault over an obstacle or a Design [Fire] check
a noisy room or a Martial Arts [Ranged] [Water] to create an intricate piece of jewelry), you
check to hit a moving target with an arrow), you must choose and reroll two dice containing 
must choose and reroll two dice containing  or or . After resolving the check, if you failed,
. After resolving the check, if you failed, you you gain 1 Void point.
gain 1 Void point.

Cognitive Lapses (Void)


Bluntness (Air)
There are cases of samurai who have suffered a killing
“You look terrible, my lord.” blow to the head, yet recovered, who are changed by the
experience. Some display all manner of odd behaviors,
Types: Interpersonal such as forgetting old skills or acquaintances, or dramatic
Effects: The following apply to a character with the shifts in taste and perception. Others lose themselves,
Bluntness adversity: suffering gaps in their memory where the part of
themselves they’ve lost takes control of their bodies.
$$ You have difficulty expressing things indirectly,
In very few of these instances is the culprit an evil
and you overlook insinuations and implications
spirit who has slipped in through a wound or because
in the statements of others unless they are
of the Shadowlands Taint. Still, one must be vigilant.
pointed out to you directly.
– Medicine by Agasha Shio
$$ When you make a check to create or interpret
subtext (such as a Design [Air] check to select Types: Mental, Scar
a wardrobe that conveys the proper subtle Effects: The following apply to a character with the
message to your intended recipient or a Sen- Cognitive Lapses adversity:
timent [Air] check to read someone’s unstated
feelings), you must choose and reroll two dice $$ At the GM’s discretion, you sometimes lose your
containing  or . After resolving the check, if ability to focus or think consciously. Your body
you failed, you gain 1 Void point. continues to act during these times according to
your general instincts, and it does not undertake
actions you would not consciously perform, but
Clumsiness (Fire) you do not form coherent memories of these
times. After you suffer such a lapse that lasts
“Oh my. I am terribly sorry, sir.”
for more than a few brief moments at the GM’s
Kitsune Sōren tried in vain to help brush piles of
choice, you gain 1 Void point.
shrimp and noodles in chili oil from the kimono of the

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CHAPT ER 2: CR EATING A CHAR ACTER

$$ When you make a check for which you must Damaged Heart
recall anything that happened during a period or Organ (Earth)
of cognitive lapse (such as a Meditation [Void]
check to understand your past decisions or a “My lord, your heart!”
Sentiment [Void] check to guess what you might Akodo Yasuteru shook the servant’s hand from his
have said to someone based on their reaction to shoulder. He could cut the man down for daring to
you), you must choose and reroll two dice con- touch him. A younger Yasuteru might have done so.
taining  or . After resolving the check, if you But he was so tired. He sat.
failed, you gain 1 Void point.
Types: Physical, Scar
Effects: The following apply to a character with the
Daikoku’s Curse (Water) Damaged Heart or Organ adversity:

Daidoji Shingen let Hiramichi Anjiro lean a bit $$ Your heart or another vital organ is weak due
heavier upon him as they worked their way through to physical trauma or illness, and you can only
the narrow streets back to the docks where their ship engage in strenuous activity for half as long as
was berthed. The first mate was drunk, and although other characters before needing to rest.
the captain would normally have let him sleep it
$$ When you make a check to undertake strenu-
off, Shingen felt that perhaps it was better to begin
ous activity over a long period of time (such as
their departure. No one in the gambling den could
a Fitness [Earth] check to march for a long time
have possibly thought that they had any money left
or a Smithing [Earth] check to hammer plates
between them, but it never hurt to be careful.
back onto a damaged piece of armor), you
“I still can’t believe it, Anjiro-kun. I have never seen
must choose and reroll two dice containing 
anybody lose like that before. Do you realize the odds on
or . After resolving the check, if you failed,
that last roll? You literally only had one way to lose, and
you gain 1 Void point.
yet you found it. You are a veritable Oracle of Misfortune.”
Anjiro only sighed.

Deafness (Air)
Types: Interpersonal
Effects: The following apply to a character with the A tap on her shoulder drew Masa around to watch her
Daikoku’s Curse adversity: commander’s lips. “Masa,” Hida Tomonatsu said. “I
need to get a message to the scouts on the ground,
$$ When you gamble or speculate on the value but there is no way they will hear me through all this
of goods, even if you receive short-term gains, noise. Tell them to retreat.”
events conspire such that you always end up as Masa nodded, stepped to the edge, and waved her
poor (if not poorer) as when you started. hand until Hiruma Takakage waved in response, down
below. Then, her hands flew in a flurry of Hiruma Hand
$$ When you make a check to gain or preserve
Talk. “Hida-sama says ‘retreat.’ Is it very noisy right now?”
wealth (such as a Commerce [Water] check to
“Very,” Takakage signed back.
haggle for a good price on an item or a Skul-
duggery [Water] check to find a fence for stolen
Types: Physical, Scar
items), you must choose and reroll two dice con-
Effects: The following apply to a character with the
taining  or . After resolving the check, if you
Deafness adversity:
failed, you gain 1 Void point.
$$ You are unable to hear, although you can per-
ceive your surroundings through other senses.
$$ When you make a check for which auditory
cues are very useful (such as a Sentiment [Air]
check to discern if someone is being sincere
or a Courtesy [Air] check to pick up rumors via
eavesdropping on someone’s faraway conver-
sation), you must choose and reroll two dice
containing  or . After resolving the check,
you gain 1 Void point.

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Discomfiting Countenance (Air) disobeying it. When you act in accordance with
this tenet of Bushidō, others can sometimes
The rōnin strode forward, and my hand tightened upon sense your insincerity.
the hilt of my katana. If he wanted a duel, he would have
$$ When you make a check to pay lip service to this
it. No masterless wretch could ever stand against me.
tenet of Bushidō or to uphold it (such as a Cour-
He stopped a few yards away and reached up with
tesy check to express its importance or a Medi-
long-fingered hands to unfasten the mempō from his
tation check to use a belief in this tenet to your
helmet. As the facial armor was removed, I saw his pale
advantage), you must choose and reroll two dice
skin, marked by a wide, deep-red birthmark that ran
containing  or . After resolving the check, if
from just above his right eye down to his jawline—and
you failed, you gain 1 Void point.
in that instance, I knew that he was Muramatsu Kibe—
the Cinnabar Swordsman.
A duel would not be so easy a matter, after all.
Ebisu’s Curse (Earth)
Types: Interpersonal, Physical “And the harvest?” Doji Kiseki concealed her worry
Effects: The following apply to a character with the behind a fan.
Discomfiting Countenance adversity: The farmer, already prostrate before his lord,
pressed his forehead to the floor. “Most of the rice
$$ Characters of lower status must generally was ruined before the harvest, my lord. And we’ve
be respectful of you to your face, but char- discovered that the bushels already removed to storage
acters of higher status might try to use your have also succumbed to some kind of rotting blight.”
looks as a way of attacking your character. “Is nothing salvageable?” Kiseki’s voice was barely
Additionally, you are extremely memorable, a whisper.
and you find it difficult to act subtly without “We’re trying, my lord.”
being remembered.
$$ When you make a check to get someone to Types: Physical, Spiritual
trust your word (such as a Courtesy [Air] check Effects: The following apply to a character with the
to make someone believe a lie or a Performance Ebisu’s Curse adversity:
[Air] check to present a story as genuine) you
must choose and reroll two dice containing  or
$$ Characters of lower status automatically distrust
. After resolving the check, if you failed, you you, viewing you as a distant overlord who can-
gain 1 Void point. not possibly be competent at practical labor or
understand their daily struggles (whether or not
either of these is a fair assessment).
Disdain for a Bushidō $$ When you make a check to interact with labor-
Tenet (Various) ers or partake in their work (such as a Com-
“We Brothers of the Boar are very loyal samurai, indeed! merce [Earth] check to mass produce items or
Loyal to money, loyal to our bellies, loyal to ourselves, a Labor [Earth] check to dig a ditch), you must
and what higher virtue could there be, brothers, eh?” choose and reroll two dice containing  or .
- The Rōnin Kujira After resolving the check, if you failed, you gain
1 Void point.
Types: Flaw, Mental
Choose One: Compassion (Water), Courage (Fire), Fractured Spine (Earth)
Courtesy (Air), Duty and Loyalty (Earth), Honor (Void),
Moto stories tell of the famous Khan Who Rode a
Righteousness (Void), Sincerity (Void). A character
Cart, Yesegei Khan. Although he could not sit a horse
may have multiple instances of this disadvantage for
without excruciating pain due to an injury from a fall
different tenets.
as a boy, Moto Yesegai was brilliant and well-loved by
Effects: The following apply to a character with the
his people. His cart, drawn by a white camel, was a
Disdain for a Bushidō Tenet adversity:
welcome sight anywhere across the Moto steppe, and
$$ You no longer believe in the chosen tenet people would flock to his yurt wherever it roamed to
of Bushidō, though you still lose honor for partake of his wisdom.

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CHAPT ER 2: CR EATING A CHAR ACTER

Types: Physical, Scar Gaijin Name, Culture,


Effect: The following apply to a character with the or Appearance (Fire)
Fractured Spine adversity:
The Crane courtier bowed deeply, a thin, insincere smile
$$ You have suffered major trauma to the spine, upon his face. “I bring a thousand wishes for a glorious
and harsh impacts cause you to be shot future from the Crane to the great Shinjo Aru…Arutan…”
through with agonizing pain. You can lift and “Altansarnai,” the Unicorn Champion corrected him.
carry only half the weight that someone of your The courtier bowed further. “I apologize, Shinjo-
strength normally could. sama. A…lovely name, but one that falls oddly upon
$$ When you make a check to resist harm or my tongue.”
exhaustion (such as a Fitness [Earth] check to “It is from the Ujik tongue. It means ‘golden rose.’”
shrug off further injury or a Labor [Earth] check Altansarnai gestured for the courtier to join her where
to carry heavy objects as part of building a she was seated. We are still foreign to them, she
structure), you must choose and reroll two dice thought, and they will never let us forget it.
containing  or . After resolving the check, if
you failed, you gain 1 Void point. Types: Interpersonal (Name), Mental and Interpersonal
(Culture), or Physical (Appearance)
Effects: The following apply to a character with the
Fukurokujin’s Curse (Fire) Gaijin Name, Culture, or Appearance adversity:

“Study is like sailing against a current; a boat must $$ People of higher and equal status tend to
forge ahead, lest it be swept downstream. But those assume that you are uneducated at best and a
without a boat must go where the current takes them; barbarian at worst, while people of lower status
not all people are made to be sailors.” respond to you with fear.
– Analects of Nabeshima
$$ When you make a check to inspire others who do
not share your culture or background (such as a
Types: Mental, Spiritual
Command [Fire] check to rally troops or a Com-
Effects: The following apply to a character with the
merce [Fire] check to create a product that peo-
Fukurokujin’s Curse adversity:
ple desire), you must choose and reroll two dice
$$ It takes you twice as long to gain a grasp containing  or . After resolving the check, if
of an academic field of study as it does you failed, you gain 1 Void point.
another character.
$$ When you make a check to extrapolate how
to do something in a field of study (such as a
Medicine [Fire] check to guess how to treat
an unfamiliar aliment based on its symptoms
or a Survival [Fire] check to guess an unknown
creature’s qualities based on its physiology),
you must choose and reroll two dice containing
 or . After resolving the check, if you failed,
you gain 1 Void point.
Haunting (Void)
The tale is told of Toritaka
Kanoshi, a young samurai of the
$$ The spirit has their own agenda (determined
Falcon Clan, whose father was betrayed and
by the GM), which interferes with yours at
murdered by a family friend. The ghost of the father
inopportune times.
appeared to the young man and bade him to avenge
his murder, but Kanoshi refused to believe that the $$ When you make a check to defy the will of the
spirit was truly that of the elder Toritaka. spirit haunting you (such as a Meditation [Void]
The father’s ghost followed Kanoshi around for check to find solace in meditation or a Skuldug-
years, creating a great commotion that only his son gery [Void] check to perform disreputable acts
could hear. In the end, nearly driven mad by the to survive), you must choose and reroll two dice
torment, Kanoshi finally obeyed the ghost’s wishes containing  or . After resolving the check, if
and brought the murderer to justice. Satisfied, his you failed, you gain 1 Void point.
father was finally at rest, and he haunted Kanoshi
no more.
Incurable Illness (Earth)
Types: Interpersonal, Spiritual The next morning, as we prepared our horses for the
Effects: The following apply to a character with the long ride ahead, Moto Ryoichi was wracked by one of
Haunted adversity: his coughing fits. As was his preference, I deliberately
paid no attention, turning my gaze to the proper fitting

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CHAPT ER 2: CR EATING A CHAR ACTER

of my mount’s reins. Out of the corner of my eye, Kisshōten’s Curse (Water)


however, I saw Ryoichi pull a white silk kerchief away
from his mouth, spotted red with blood. My concern “Children are but a reflection of their parents.”
overcame our long-standing agreement. “Ryoichi-san.” – Tao of Shinsei
He waved away any further inquiry. “I’m fine,” he
croaked, his throat raw from coughing. “We have a Types: Physical, Spiritual
long day ahead. We should get on with it.” Effects: The following apply to a character with the Kis-
shōten’s Curse adversity:
Types: Physical
$$ Children instinctively dislike you and are obsti-
Effects: The following apply to a character with the
nate in the face of your demands. Your own
Incurable Illness adversity:
children (if you have any) are unlucky in matters
$$ Periodically, if you push yourself too hard, you are of health, beauty, and happiness.
afflicted by especially violent fits that significantly
$$ When performing a check for which you need
restrict your activity for a brief period of time.
to communicate with children (such as a Com-
$$ When you make a check to remain active for long mand [Water] check to order them around or a
periods of time (such as a Labor [Earth] check to Performance [Water] check to entertain them),
plow a field or a Survival [Earth] check to build a you must choose and reroll two dice containing
shelter), you must choose and reroll two dice con-  or . After resolving the check, if you failed,
taining  or . After resolving the check, if you you gain 1 Void point.
failed, you gain 1 Void point.
Lost Arm or Lost Hand (Fire)
Jurōjin’s Curse (Void) “Turn and face me, dog!” Takeda stiffened and turned.
Akodo Shinpei stalked through the fire toward him.
The battle was won; the castle had been taken. I found
“Back again, little Lion?” sneered the rōnin. “I took
Kitsu Tsuyoshi seated on a tree stump in the courtyard.
your arm when we last crossed swords. Are you so
Fires burned here and there, and the bodies of the
eager to lose the other?”
bandits who had occupied the castle lay broken and
“I lost an arm, but at least I still have my honor,”
bloody all around us, along with more than a few of
Shinpei growled. He drew his sword. It shone in the
our own bushi.
firelight. “Die on my blade, cur, and if you do it with
“You charged the gate alone,” I said. “You fought
courage, perhaps you can regain some of yours.”
your way in and opened the way for the rest of us. It was
the bravest thing I have ever witnessed, Tsuyoshi-san.”
Types: Physical, Scar
The samurai raised his head to regard me wearily.
Effects: The following apply to a character with the
“It’s not bravery, Kodaga-san,” he said with a slight
Lost Arm or Lost Hand adversity:
shrug. “I have always known that I will die young. So
why struggle against it?” $$ You have only one usable hand or arm. You
cannot wield weapons in a two-handed grip or
Types: Physical, Spiritual hold anything in your missing hand. If you are
Effects: The following apply to a character with the missing only the hand, you can strap items to
Jurojin’s Curse adversity: the arm for use.

$$ Poison and disease seem to strike you more $$ When you make a check for which having
easily, and it takes you twice as long as normal two hands is very valuable (such as a Martial
to recover from disease and injury. Arts [Unarmed] [Fire] check to grapple a foe
into submission or a Survival [Fire] check to
$$ When you make a check to sustain yourself leap onto a galloping horse’s back), you must
(such as a Fitness [Void] check to resist a crit- choose and reroll two dice containing  or .
ical injury or a Survival [Void] check to live in After resolving the check, if you failed, you gain
harmony with a natural environment), you must 1 Void point.
choose and reroll two dice containing  or .
After resolving the check, if you failed, you gain
1 Void point.

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C H APT E R 2 : C R E AT I N G A C H AR ACT ER

Lost Eye (Water) $$ When you make a check for which you must
maintain a precise grip with both hands at once
Johei poured the water from the kettle and it missed (such as a Design [Fire] check to weave cloth or
the cup, splashing onto the table. Ayame looked a Martial Arts [Fire] check to draw your blade
over the table at him, her gaze flicking briefly to his quickly), you must choose and reroll two dice
bandaged eye socket before snapping away. containing  or . After resolving the check, if
“It’s no trouble for me to pour it,” Ayame offered. you failed, you gain 1 Void point.
“My thanks. But adaptation is natural for humans.
I learned to be a Crane when I joined your family,
and I’ll learn this, too.” Johei raised the kettle again Lost Leg (Water)
and moved it until it clicked audibly against the cup.
Then he poured. “I don’t relish the idea of doing it After Hiruma Noriko lost her leg while rescuing Asahina
again, but losing my eye was a small price to secure Setsuna from a tragic venture into the Shadowlands,
our future.” the grateful artificer sought to repay the hero. The
two collaborated on countless designs to help the
warrior return to the field, Setsuna’s mystical skill
Types: Physical, Scar
guided by Noriko’s practical knowledge. The resulting
Effects: The following apply to a character with the
prosthetic, beautifully lacquered and inscribed with
Lost Eye adversity:
countless protective charms, still remains in the armory
$$ You have only one eye. Your field of vision of Carpenter Castle, and has inspired many similar
is narrower, and your depth perception is devices over the centuries.
somewhat diminished.
Types: Physical, Scar
$$ When you make a check for which your reduced
Effects: The following apply to a character with the
ability to observe a wide field or discern the
Lost Leg adversity:
exact distance to faraway objects would cause
difficulties (such as a Tactics [Water] check to $$ You have one fewer leg than most people.
spot incoming threats or a Martial Arts [Ranged] You use a crutch, cane, or other support
[Water] check to hit targets while moving), you to walk, and standing takes more effort
must choose and reroll two dice containing  or than it does for people with two legs. Trav-
. After resolving the check, if you failed, you eling by walking takes you twice as long
gain 1 Void point. as it does others without some form of
compensatory tool.

Lost Fingers (Fire) $$ When you make a check for which you must
reposition yourself quickly or maintain your
The weathered old Crab held up his hands, and the balance (such as a Fitness [Water] check to
children gasped. “Can’t count to ten without taking move across difficult ground quickly or a
off my shoes, but at least I still have more fingers than Seafaring [Water] check to operate a boat in
teeth,” he chuckled. “Each of my fingers told a story difficult conditions such as a storm), you must
as it left me. This one? A goblin’s teeth, as I pried it off choose and reroll two dice containing  or
my lord’s leg. This one? One of the great war machines . After resolving the check, if you failed, you
on the Wall misfired…” The children stared, every eye gain 1 Void point.
wide, as the old Crab wove his stories of glory and
hardship in their never-ending war.
Lost Memories (Void)
Types: Physical, Scar
Utsuro bowed as he accepted the bowl, then sat back
Effects: The following apply to a character with the
and ate with gusto. The simple food she brought him
Lost Fingers adversity:
seemed to make him so happy. “You eat like you’ve
$$ You have fewer functional digits on one of your never had rice balls before,” she laughed.
hands than most people. Checks to craft new “I don’t remember,” Utsuro reminded her. “Perhaps
items take you twice as long as they would I haven’t!”
take a character with their full complement “I’ll bring you something else tomorrow,” she said,
of fingers. standing to go.

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CHAPT ER 2: CR EATING A CHAR ACTER

“Yue,” said Utsuro. “My memories will come back $$ When you make a check for which you need to
some day.” use two hands at once (such as a Design [Fire]
“I’m sure they will,” she said. Utsuro bowed again, check to sew a new kimono or a Martial Arts
and she went back to her home, climbed upon her [Melee] [Fire] check to overwhelm a foe with
table and lifted down the basket from the beams of a powerful overhead slice), you must choose
her roof. She stared down at the robe Utsuro had been and reroll two dice containing  or . After
wearing when she found him, with its chrysanthemum resolving the check, if you failed, you gain 1
crest. “But not too soon, I hope.” Void point.

Types: Mental, Scar


Effects: The following apply to a character with the
Lost Memories adversity:

$$ There is a period of your life that you cannot


remember at all. The less important this period
is to your identity, the longer it should be (for
example, a single day lost might be sufficient
if the character committed a terrible act during
that time and struggles to understand how or
why, whereas a full decade of lost memories
might be insufficient if they are not especially
foundational to who the character is). The play-
er and GM should work together to determine Maimed Visage (Air)
the amount and importance of memories lost.
“You have a villain’s look about you. Why should we
Skills and abilities acquired during the lost time
believe you’re a magistrate of the Emperor’s justice?”
are largely retained, even if the character does
The magistrate sighed. “You’re right. These scars
not remember the act of developing them.
do tell a story about me, and one you should heed. But
$$ When you make a check for which you must recall you haven’t asked what the story is, have you?
information you learned during the period of lost “When I was young, I served my lord as a yōjimbō.
memories (such as a Culture [Void] check to intuit In my first battle, I took a slash meant for his throat.
how to behave in a particular situation similar You can read the degree of my loyalty in these scars.
or related to one you encountered during that Now, if I would suffer such a wound without complaint,
time or a Meditation [Void] check to understand do you really think I’d allow your foolishness to stand
your past decisions), you must choose and reroll in the way of justice?”
two dice containing  or . After resolving the
check, if you failed, you gain 1 Void point. Types: Physical, Interpersonal, Scar
Effects: The following apply to a character with the
Maimed Visage adversity:
Maimed Arm (Fire)
$$ You have been struck in the face, causing a very
The samurai kept her arm tucked in her kimono. Her
noticeable and difficult-to-disguise sign of your
left sleeve flapped empty in the breeze, a testament
altercation. Your injury is disquieting to many,
to her folly—and resilience.
and speaking causes you some pain, hamper-
ing your social endeavors that hinge on subtle
Types: Physical, Scar
implication and manipulation.
Effects: The following apply to a character with the
Maimed Arm adversity: $$ When you make a check to subtly convince
others of something or speak an implication
$$ Your right or left arm is injured (your choice at (such as a Commerce [Air] check to sell an item
the time the disadvantage is assigned), making it at a higher price than usual or a Courtesy [Air]
much harder to perform activities that involve use check to insult someone by implication), you
of that arm. You can use the arm, but gripping must choose and reroll two dice containing 
anything tightly causes you pain, and you might or . After resolving the check, if you failed,
need a sling to help the arm heal properly. you gain 1 Void point.

125
C H APT E R 2 : C R E AT I N G A C H AR ACT ER

Momoku (Void) [Air] check to impersonate someone convinc-


ingly), you must choose and reroll two dice con-
A favorite shadow-puppet play often performed taining  or . After resolving the check, if you
during the fall harvest season, The Hungry Ghosts failed, you gain 1 Void point.
features an old man who lives in a haunted house, yet
cannot see the ghosts that surround him. The ghosts
continually eat his food and frighten his guests, but the Nerve Damage (Air)
old man remains oblivious.
Some puppeteers have run afoul of the law while Matsu Makoto sat with a perfect stillness of impatience.
performing this play, making the old man appear a bit “How long until I can fight again?”
too much like the local lord, and the ghosts resemble Kitsu Hanae looked over the wound on her arm.
problems plaguing the local region—problems that “It’s healing well externally. No infection. But inside,
the lord seems incapable of seeing. it’s hard to tell. You might never regain full sensitivity,
or it might slowly return over months or years. Patience
is the only remedy now.”
Types: Spiritual
Makoto grumbled at the same non-answer Hanae
Effects: The following apply to a character with the
had given yesterday. “How long until I can start training
Momoku adversity:
with my left hand, then?”
$$ You do not detect supernatural presences even
when they make themselves evident to every- Types: Physical, Scar
one else, and you are blissfully unaware of the Effect: The following apply to a character with the
ripples in reality such entities and phenomena Nerve Damage adversity:
create. You can still discern effects they have on
the physical world, but only when they become
$$ You have no feeling in certain parts of your body.
quite obvious. $$ When you make a check for which physical
$$ When you make a check to understand or sensitivity is helpful (such as an Aesthetics [Air]
appeal to otherworldly powers (such as a check to delicately paint glaze onto a ceram-
Games [Void] check to put your faith in the ic piece or a Fitness [Air] check to maintain
power of the universe or a Theology [Void] your posture exactly while moving), you must
check to call upon the cosmic energy around choose and reroll two dice containing  or .
you), you must choose and reroll two dice con- After resolving the check, if you failed, you gain
taining  or . After resolving the check, if you 1 Void point.
failed, you gain 1 Void point.

Muteness (Air)
The Quiet Monks of Kaitō Province take vows of silence
upon entering the monastery. They devote themselves
to silent contemplation of the Tao and the mysteries
of the elements.

Types: Interpersonal, Physical or Mental, Scar


Effect: The following apply to a character with the
Muteness adversity:

$$ You are physically or psychologically unable


to produce intelligible spoken words. You can
still make yourself understood through signing,
gestures, and meaningful looks.
$$ When you make a check for which you must
make your tone of voice understood by others
(such as a Command [Air] check to convey
nuanced information to others or a Performance

126
CHAPT ER 2: CR EATING A CHAR ACTER

Scorn of [One Group] (Water) Types: Curse, Interpersonal, Spiritual LOSING YOUR
Effects: The following apply to a character with the HUMANITY
“Hatsumon cannot assume the command,” Utaku Shadowlands Taint (Air) adversity:
Kamoko growled. No “-sama,” not even a “-san,” and A character with one or
certainly not “Utaku Hatsumon,” not after his crime of $$ You are a Tainted being. You have trouble more instances of the
sympathizing with other humans, but you Shadowlands Taint dis-
riding one of the sacred Utaku steeds.
advantage is a Tainted
“With Shinjo Reki’s death, Hatsumon Noyan is the can understand the emotions of corrupted
being, and is affected
highest ranked officer present,” soothed Ide Ujiyasu. beings easily. by any effect that speci-
“The command is his.” $$ When you make a check to show compassion fies Tainted beings.
“So be it,” Kamoko snarled, and stalked from for other human beings (such as a Compo- A character with three
the tent. The entire Shiotome contingent left the sition [Air] check to edit a work for emo- or more instances
encampment the next day. tional refinement or a Courtesy [Air] check of the Shadowlands
Taint disadvantage has
to say something difficult without harming slipped even further
Types: Interpersonal the recipient’s feelings), you must choose from their humani-
Effects: The following apply to a character with the and reroll two dice containing  or . After ty. They are also an
Scorn of [One Group] adversity: resolving the check, if you failed, you gain 1 Otherworldly being,
and are affected by any
Void point.
$$ You have earned the ire of a particular group, effect that specifies
Otherworldly beings.
which has seriously damaged your ability to
work with its members or enlist their help. You
Shadowlands Taint (Earth) A character with
five instances of the
have been barred from entering their facilities,
“The swordsman bled from two dozen cuts, each of Shadowlands Taint
and they refuse to meet or communicate with
disadvantage has been
you directly. Confer with the GM to select a which would have brought down any samurai. Finally,
lost completely to the
campaign-appropriate group when choosing one last spear from our bushi found his chest, and grip of Fu Leng. In most
this disadvantage. he died. games, this means that
“I swear to you, he did die. I am sure of that. Yet I they are no longer an
$$ When performing a check to interact with the appropriate player
can scarcely bring myself to write what we witnessed
chosen group that relies on your rapport with character—though of
next, as his corpse dragged itself up to stand and face course, the GM is the
its members (such as a Courtesy [Water] check
us again. It was only through use of a torch that we final arbiter over wheth-
to persuade them to do something or a Per-
were finally able to put an end to him.” er such a character is
formance [Water] check to impress a group of suitable for their story!
– The Obsidian Journal
them), you must choose and reroll two dice con-
taining  or . After resolving the check, if you
failed, you gain 1 Void point. Types: Curse, Physical, Spiritual
Effects: The following apply to a character with the
Shadowlands Taint (Earth) adversity:
Shadowlands Taint (Air) $$ You are a Tainted being. Your ability to feel
The Obsidian Journal is a secret text, written hundreds physical sensations is significantly diminished,
of years ago by Kuni Shunsuke, a Crab Clan samurai and when you perish, your body rises as a
who made forbidden journeys into the Shadowlands Zombie Peasant (see page 321), which pur-
and wrote of what he saw there. sues your last goal with bestial purpose before
By the end of his journal, he wrote: “Even now, turning on anyone else nearby.
I know that the fingers of shadow have reached too $$ When you make a check that relies upon phys-
deeply within me, for although I am surrounded by ical sensitivity (such as a Design [Earth] check
family and clan, I feel no kinship. They seem distant to to repair a damaged item or a Martial Arts
me, as if viewed through a glass. I wonder how much [Unarmed] [Earth] check to grapple with a foe),
of myself is truly left.” you must choose and reroll two dice containing
That was the final entry of the Obsidian Journal.  or . After resolving the check, if you failed,
Kuni Shunsuke committed seppuku to silence the call you gain 1 Void point.
of the Shadowlands.

127
TAINTED CHARACTERS
IN ROKUGAN

The corrupting influence


of Fu Leng is ill-under-
stood in Rokugan. Some
believe it to stem from
insufficient faith, while
others treat it more like a
disease of the body. Shadowlands
Far from the Kaiu Wall,
Taint (Fire)
many believe it to be the “Sakori is lost to us. During
end of a samurai’s ability
our recent excursions, she
to serve. In Crane lands,
widespread knowledge gradually grew more and
that a character has more obsessed with the
contracted it can be disas- thought of using the enemy’s
trous to their social and
own power against him. She
political aspirations.
pored over every scrap of
In Crab lands, it is simply knowledge we acquired, following it
a fact of life for many
down ever-darker paths.
warriors who face the
monsters beyond the wall. “I was brought news this morning
The Kuni family brews that she was gone. She has been found
and distributes jade petal nowhere within the castle, and none along
tea for the afflicted, a spe- the Wall have reported seeing her. Her bed
cial remedy that can slow
was not slept in. I can only assume that she’s
the corruption’s effects.
out there somewhere, in the Shadowlands,
Some among the Unicorn, drawn further away from who she once was with
having seen strange
every step.”
maladies in the wider
world, have even studied – The Obsidian Journal
it like a disease, that they
Types: Curse, Spiritual
might one day conquer Types: Curse, Mental, Spiritual
it—though these scholars Effects: The following apply to a character with the
Effects: The following apply to a character with the Shadowlands Taint (Void) adversity:
have yet to show progress
Shadowlands Taint (Fire) adversity:
$$ You are a Tainted being. Each time you spend
$$ You are a Tainted being. You can identify Shad- your last Void point, someone near you suffers
owlands creatures and forces, you know how a misfortune as the woven cord of fate frays.
to turn them to destructive ends, and you are
drawn inexorably to such forbidden powers.
$$ When you make a check to discern your future
LIVING WITH THE
TAINT (such as a Government [Void] check to know
$$ When you make a check to foresee possible whether a course of action is likely to end in
Within Crab lands, negative outcomes of your actions (such as a tragedy or a Seafaring [Void] check to detect
the Taint is tragically Government [Fire] check to extrapolate wheth- the arrival of a storm before it hits), you must
common. The Kuni er your actions could lead to great destruction
maintain a great ledger
choose and reroll two dice containing  or .
or a Theology [Fire] check to know whether After resolving the check, if you failed, you gain
with all of the names of
the Tainted. A character the powers you are dealing with are likely 1 Void point.
who approaches the to destroy you in the end), you must choose
Kuni to report themself and reroll two dice containing  or . After
must forfeit status until
their status is 20, but
resolving the check, if you failed, you gain 1 Shadowlands Taint (Water)
Void point.
they can continue to
“A man was killed trying to get over the Wall today. At
serve the Crab.
least, it appeared to be a man. When our soldiers cut
Outside of Crab lands,
it is very rare to
Shadowlands Taint (Void) him down, his blood was putrescence itself, flowing like
poison from his body, and those whom it touched fell ill.
contract the Taint, and “We sent a patrol out yesterday. Only Akihiro returned.
there are no standards “Five guards are now struck by this grave sickness,
He says that one by one, his comrades fell to a series and our monks tend to them as best they can.”
on how it is handled.
Some lords might send of mishaps. Ome was bitten by a snake. Yayoi fell from – The Obsidian Journal
a Tainted retainer to a precipice. Kanbei drowned in quicksand. It was as if
the Kuni, while others fate had abandoned each of them, save Akihiro.
might dispose of the re- Types: Curse, Physical, Spiritual
“He will bear closer watching.”
tainer or quietly cover Effects: The following apply to a character with the
up the whole matter. – The Obsidian Journal
Shadowlands Taint (Water) adversity:

128
CHAPT ER 2: CR EATING A CHAR ACTER

$$ You are a Tainted being. When your blood is Juro sat in his saddle once more, his jaw clenching
spilled (such as after you suffer the Bleeding beneath his mask. No matter how often I try, he
condition), foulness spills forth. Anyone who thought, they still only see the terrible warlord.
touches it suffers the Afflicted condition.
$$ When you make a check to heal others or deal Types: Interpersonal, Infamy
with food (such as a Medicine [Water] check to Effects: The following apply to a character with the
prepare treatments for a disease or a Survival Whispers of Cruelty adversity:
[Water] check to forage for food), you must $$ You are well-known, but not for the right
choose and reroll two dice containing  or .
reasons. Characters who do not know you
After resolving the check, if you failed, you gain
personally always assume that you will act in
1 Void point.
a ruthless and destructive manner, and they
act accordingly.

Sworn Enemy (Earth) $$ When you make a check to attempt to calm


others (such as a Courtesy [Earth] check to
“As soon as a person leaves their house, they have convince someone to cooperate with you or
seven enemies.” a Command [Earth] check to get someone to
– Tao of Shinsei accept your authority calmly), you must choose
and reroll two dice containing  or . After
Types: Interpersonal resolving the check, if you failed, you gain 1
Effects: The following apply to a character with the Void point.
Sworn Enemy adversity:

You and the GM should select or create a


Whispers of Doom (Void)
$$

character to be your sworn enemy. Your sworn


enemy exists within the world and periodically Orphaned by the time she was six, Doji Hatsuhina
meddles in your affairs, directly or indirectly, was raised by her bachelor uncle, who also died when
at the GM’s discretion. If your sworn enemy the girl was twelve. Finishing her schooling at the
perishes, you must either remove this disad- academies of Shizuka Toshi, Hatsuhina was betrothed
vantage, acquire a new sworn enemy (perhaps to Seppun Hakemoto, a captain in the Imperial Guard,
someone who hates you because of your role who died later that year. She was betrothed again,
in the demise of the previous one), or find a this time to a young Bayushi son of the Scorpion
way for your deceased foe to continue playing Champion, who was murdered as part of the often-
a role in your life. lethal politics of his clan.
She was not betrothed a third time.
$$ When you make a check to remain rational in
the presence of this person you hate (such as a
Courtesy [Earth] check to interact with this per- Types: Interpersonal, Infamy
son without being provocative or a Meditation Effects: The following apply to a character with the
[Earth] check to stay stoic in the face of their Whispers of Doom adversity:
insults), you must choose and reroll two dice $$ You are well-known, but not for the right rea-
containing  or . After resolving the check, if
sons. Characters who do not know you person-
you failed, you gain 1 Void point.
ally always assume that those around you will
perish or meet bad ends, even if you survive to
spread your ill fortune further.
Whispers of Cruelty (Earth)
$$ When you make a check to dispel someone’s
“The Peace of the Unicorn is restored to these lands!” false preconceptions (such as a Courtesy [Void]
The commander’s voice boomed from within his check to get someone to question their deci-
golden mask. Standing on his stirrups, he was as tall as sion or a Command [Void] check to get some-
the thatch-roofed houses around him. The peasants of one to see the pointlessness of their position),
the village fell to their knees. you must choose and reroll two dice containing
“Please, Moto-sama!” begged the village head. “Spare  or . After resolving the check, if you failed,
us your terrible wrath! We are but heimin; we did not mean you gain 1 Void point.
to offer succor to the Lion, but we had no choice.”

129
C H APT E R 2 : C R E AT I N G A C H AR ACT ER

Whispers of Failure (Fire) $$ When you make a check to acquire items


quickly or make trade deals (such as a Com-
“Some say failure is the true death of a samurai, but mand [Water] check to win over troops under
I have lived many years, and so I do not think this is your command with the promise of rewards or
so. Failure is a hard vine to uproot from the minds of a Commerce [Water] check to secure a large
others once it has sprouted, true. But what is most supply of a commodity or service), you must
vital is uprooting it within your own mind. In this way, choose and reroll two dice containing  or .
a samurai sets aside failure, and thus conquers regret. After resolving the check, if you failed, you gain
Only then can the seeds of success flourish.” 1 Void point.

Types: Interpersonal, Infamy


Effects: The following apply to a character with the Whispers of Treachery (Air)
Whispers of Failure adversity:
Bayushi Kyo groaned. “We’re doing this again? Now?”
$$ You are well-known, but not for the right rea- Kuni Mamoru stood firm as he put the finishing
sons. Characters who do not know you person- touches on the warding barrier. “You have been acting
ally always assume that you are incompetent, suspiciously of late. Even more so than usual—the stories
and they do not trust you with important tasks. about you don’t do justice to the depths of your deceit.”
“I don’t suppose you’d be willing to take my word
$$ When you make a check to get others to follow
that it’s for the greater good?”
your lead (such as a Command [Fire] check to lead
a charge or a Performance [Fire] check to inspire
Types: Interpersonal, Infamy
others), you must choose and reroll two dice con-
Effects: The following apply to a character with the
taining  or . After resolving the check, if you
Whispers of Treachery adversity:
failed, you gain 1 Void point.
$$ You are well-known, but not for the right
reasons. Characters who do not know you
Whispers of Poverty (Water) personally always assume that you will plant
A certain samurai of the Phoenix Clan so embarrassed poison in their tea or a knife in their back at the
his mother that she let it be known that no longer first opportunity.
would she pay his gambling debts, nor support his $$ When you make a check to get others to trust
dissolute lifestyle in Otosan Uchi. The samurai fell on you (such as a Courtesy [Air] check to convince
hard times, and was forced to marry into a merchant’s someone of your sincerity or a Skulduggery
family to replenish his purse. Now flush with koku, [Air] check to steal from someone who is aware
the samurai still found that those who saw him spoke of your presence), you must choose and reroll
behind their fans, “Oh, there goes Empty-Purse-san, two dice containing  or . After resolving the
the Pauper Samurai,” so for all his new wealth he still check, if you failed, you gain 1 Void point.
had not regained his honor.

– “Gossip Twice-Told,” by Otomo no Specific Anxieties


Hoji (true identity unknown)
Although emotions, especially negative ones, are
things that samurai strive to banish from their hearts, all
Types: Interpersonal, Infamy
human beings are susceptible to the so-called “three
Effects: The following apply to a character with the
sins” of fear, desire, and regret when exposed to certain
Whispers of Poverty adversity:
people, locations, items, or situations. The negative
$$ You are well-known, but not for the right emotions and inner turmoil that these things inspire are
reasons. Characters who do not know you represented mechanically with specific anxieties.
personally always assume that you don’t have
financial solvency and won’t be able to muster
resources quickly.

130
Addiction (Earth)
The smoke curled in pleasing patterns
above my head. I drew another lungful
from the pipe, feeling the acrid burn in my
throat and chest. A searing warmth made my
cheeks flush, and I exhaled.
“Chasing the Dragon,” they called it.
Funny. It doesn’t feel like I’m chasing
anything. It feels like I’m standing still, and the
universe is rushing all around me like a storm. But
afterward, the dragon always catches up to me.

Types: Mental, Physical


Effects: The following apply to a character with the
Addiction anxiety:

$$ Choose an addictive substance or experience;


deprivation from this substance or experience for as a Martial Arts [Melee] [Fire] check
more than three days causes shakes, chills, dis- to strike down a foe or a Tactics [Fire]
traction, or even more violent physical symptoms check to generate initiative), you receive
that become increasingly difficult to conceal. 3 strife. (Your GM can choose not to inflict
this strife after the you have taken a few
$$ After performing a check to resist the sub-
turns and thematically overcome your trau-
stance or experience (such as a Fitness [Earth]
ma.) If this is the first time this has occurred this
check to suppress signs of your addiction
scene, gain 1 Void point.
during long absences of the substance (or
experience) or a Meditation [Earth] check to
resist pursuing the experience or substance),
you receive 3 strife. If this is the first time this
Cynicism (Fire)
has occurred this scene, gain 1 Void point. “This is ridiculous,” Onishi scoffed. “Powder makes
for fine fireworks, granted. But you’re telling me that
barrels of the stuff will bring down the fortification
Battle Trauma (Fire) around that castle? Do I look like a child, ready to
believe grandfather’s stories? Please. It will never work.”
The thousand cuts I have borne
“Look, just help me get the barrels into the wagon,”
And the thousand I have delivered
Genda replied, pushing another barrel into place.
Paint my dreams in red
“Fine, but I still think it’s a terrible idea, which will
Broad brushstrokes to draw pictures
do nothing but get us all killed.”
I cannot put to paper.
Do my ears ring from old age
Or is that steel’s song and the warrior’s cry Types: Interpersonal, Mental
Gone so long ago Effects: The following apply to a character with the
But never gone? Cynicism anxiety:

$$ When faced with a truly novel or unconvention-


Types: Mental, Physical al idea, you always look for ways it can fail, and
Effects: The following apply to a character with the others must persuade you that it could work
Battle Trauma anxiety: before you will try it (even if it is your idea).
$$ At the start of a duel, skirmish, or mass battle, $$ After performing a check to think unconven-
your hands shake, your body tenses up, or your tionally (such as a Performance [Fire] check to
mind might even lock down. You can act normal- improvise during a performance or a Tactics
ly, but your unsettled state is obvious to everyone [Fire] check to develop a new strategy on the
around you, and others may try to exploit it. fly), you receive 3 strife. If this is the first time
this has occurred this scene, gain 1 Void point.
$$ After performing a check related to battle (such

131
C H APT E R 2 : C R E AT I N G A C H AR ACT ER

Dark Secret (Void) $$ You believe yourself destined for greatness,


and nothing will dissuade you from your fixa-
“I’m sorry that you saw that, Megumi-chan,” Kayoko tion upon this goal. When you are presented
said, her voice as soft as spider’s silk, her hands stained with a chance to advance your glory, you must
scarlet with blood. attempt to pursue it.
A scream hung in Megumi’s throat, refusing to
$$ After performing a check that requires facing
emerge. She could only stare in wide-eyed horror as
your humble place in an uncaring universe
Kayoko stepped closer.
(such as a Labor [Void] check to eke out a living
“Power requires sacrifice, Megumi dear. That urchin
in the fields or a Meditation [Void] check to
has given her life for a higher purpose, and I have saved
contemplate your place in the cosmos), you
her from a lifetime of suffering. The power that I have
receive 3 strife. If this is the first time this has
gained will keep us all safe.”
occurred this scene, gain 1 Void point.
Megumi tried to run, but her mind seemed
disconnected from her body. Her pulse raced with the
impulse to flee, but her legs would not obey.
Kayoko glided ever closer. “I can’t have you telling
Fear of Death (Earth)
anyone, of course. I’m sure you understand…” There are few crimes worse in the mind of the Rokugani
than cowardice, which is seen as a violation of no fewer
Types: Interpersonal than three tenets of the Code of Bushidō: Yū, Meiyo,
Effects: The following apply to a character with the and Chūgi. To help them teach the lessons of cowardice,
Dark Secret anxiety: Rokugan’s storytellers have many fables at their disposal:
tales of courageous heroes brought low by cowardly
$$ You have a dark secret that, if exposed, could allies, histories in which the fall of an entire noble house
bring ruin upon your house and disgrace your hinges upon a failure of courage, and more.
ancestors and descendants alike. If the details
of this secret become public, your glory value Types: Mental, Physical
decreases dramatically, as if you had lost staked Effects: The following apply to a character with the
glory (by 10 to 20). Depending on the secret, Fear of Death anxiety:
your status value might also decrease consider-
ably (by 5 to 10), as if you had lost staked status. $$ You cannot voluntarily choose to die or sacrifice
$$ After performing a check to assert your will over your life (including committing seppuku when
yourself or others (such as a Command [Void] honor demands it), and if there is a chance you
check to order troops to fight to the bitter end could live, you must always pursue it.
or a Meditation [Void] check to find inner peace), $$ After performing a check to risk your life or
you receive 3 strife. If this is the first time this has accept your mortality (such as a Meditation
occurred this scene, gain 1 Void point. [Earth] check to find inner tranquility before
battle or a Tactics [Earth] check to hold a posi-
tion against long odds), you receive 3 strife. If
Delusions of Grandeur (Void) this is the first time this has occurred this scene,
gain 1 Void point.
“Do not be wary of those who take risks with titles and
lands; rather be wary of those who have nothing to lose.
And above all, be most wary of those who say they are
destined for greatness, for they will build a ladder to
Ferocity (Air)
Heaven on the corpses of those around them.” With a cry like an enraged animal, Hida Amoro threw
– Analects of Nabeshima himself into the throng of bandits. They were vicious,
yet untrained, and did not expect the attack. What
Types: Mental, Interpersonal followed was a whirlwind of relentless, merciless
Effects: The following apply to a character with the violence, as Amoro moved faster than many of us
Delusions of Grandeur anxiety: could follow, utterly taking the bandits apart.

132
CHAPT ER 2: CR EATING A CHAR ACTER

We hung back and let Amoro do his work. We’d $$ After performing a check to strategically weigh
served with him long enough to know to stay out of your options (such as a Government [Earth]
the way when the red fury was upon him. check to think of a historical anecdote related
to your situation or a Tactics [Earth] check to
Types: Physical, Mental identify the right moment to strike), you receive
Effects: The following apply to a character with the 3 strife. If this is the first time this has occurred
Ferocity anxiety: this scene, gain 1 Void point.

$$ When you strike, you have trouble holding


back your power, and you tend to lash out Intolerance (Water)
even when a subtler approach would be more
“Savages!” Matsu Agetoki threw his helmet across his
appropriate. When you defeat a minion NPC,
tent in frustration. “Our clan is expected to sully itself by
the minion is always killed, even if you would
marrying one of our finest lords to one of those Unicorn
prefer to incapacitate them.
gaijin? How are we expected to bear such an insult?”
$$ After performing a check to intentionally hold Matsu Seijuro knew better than to interrupt his
back or apply force subtly (such as a Games [Air] brother at a time like this, and yet: “We do as we are
check to manipulate your opponent or a Martial commanded. The Emperor wants this match.”
Arts [Melee] [Air] check to strike a precise blow), “Does he indeed?” Agetoki whirled around to
you receive 3 strife. If this is the first time this has face Seijuro. “Then I wonder if he seeks to weaken us,
occurred this scene, gain 1 Void point. through infection.”

Types: Interpersonal
Impatience (Earth) Effects: The following apply to a character with the
Historians tell the story of the Battle of Thunder Plain in Intolerance anxiety:
1005, when the Iuchi family daimyō, in his impatience to
$$ A particular hate festers within you for a group
attack a Kaiu village of the Crab Clan, brought his cavalry
of people (or even supernatural beings), and
across the plain held sacred by the Order of Osano-wo.
it overwhelms your better judgment when you
The order, the most martial order of the Brotherhood
are faced with members or representatives of
of Shinsei, attacked the Unicorn cavalry with polearms.
this group. Choose one group of people or
When the Iuchi daimyō called upon the Fortunes for
supernatural beings to be your hated enemies.
defense, the kami showed their disfavor by refusing to
When you are in the presence of these beings
respond. The cavalry were soundly defeated, and they
(and even when they are mentioned), your
were forced to retreat back to Unicorn lands.
enmity is evident to all who observe you.

Types: Mental $$ After performing a check to interact with a


Effects: The following apply to a character with the member of the chosen group (such as a Com-
Impatience anxiety: merce [Water] check to bargain with someone
from a family that once wronged your own or a
$$ You find it difficult to repress yourself, and Composition [Water] check to translate from the
when you are forced to wait, it causes you pal- language of a group of foreigners you dislike
pable discomfort. If given the choice between due to a battle you fought against their people),
seizing an opportunity and waiting for a better you receive 3 strife. If this is the first time this has
moment, you strive to seize the opportunity occurred this scene, gain 1 Void point.
despite risks that might be mitigated if you
act later.

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C H APT E R 2 : C R E AT I N G A C H AR ACT ER

FLIRTING WITH PCS Irrepressible Flirtation (Earth) $$ You cannot voluntarily pass up an opportunity
to one-up a rival or demonstrate your superiori-
Topics of romance or “So I snuck through the estate to her ladyship’s ty over someone in the eyes of others.
sexuality can some- apartments and waited for the servants to leave before
times make people $$ After performing a check to compete with
reciting the poem I had devised in her honor. You can
uncomfortable. If someone to demonstrate your excellence (such
your character is an imagine my embarrassment when it was not Lady Fujiko’s
as a Performance [Air] check to convince an
irrepressible flirt, you voice that answered me from behind the curtains.”
should still make sure audience of something before a rival can or
The patrons of the inn hung on my every word. One
your fellow players a Smithing [Air] check to refine a weapon to
of them rushed over and put a fresh bowl of wine in my
are comfortable perfection before presenting it as a gift to your
before roleplaying any hand. “What did you do?”
lord), you receive 3 strife. If this is the first time
flirtation or romantic “Well,” I said, taking a long sip of the wine, “I
this has occurred this scene, gain 1 Void point.
overtures between your introduced myself to the lady who was there.”
character and theirs.
(This also applies if
Types: Interpersonal
you’re the GM!) Materialism (Void)
Effects: The following apply to a character with the
Irrepressible Flirtation anxiety: “All lust is grief, and born of too great an attachment
to this world, even as the shadow follows the shape.
$$ You find it difficult to pass up the chance to flirt We grasp at it like monkeys trying to snatch at the
with people you find attractive, and when some- moon’s reflection on the surface of water.”
one you find attractive flirts with you, you cannot – Tao of Shinsei
help but return their advances with your own flir-
tation. Your interest is obvious to all onlookers. Types: Mental
$$ After performing a check to interact with (or Effects: The following apply to a character with the
ignore) someone you are interested in without Materialism anxiety:
exceeding propriety (such as a Courtesy [Earth]
check to make appropriate small talk or a Sen-
$$ You are obsessed with physical possessions and
timent [Earth] check to know how to tread cau- objects, despite what the Tao of Shinsei says
tiously in a social scene), you receive 3 strife. If about such material earthly bonds. You cannot
this is the first time this has occurred this scene, refuse gifts of rarity 3 or higher.
gain 1 Void point. $$ After performing a check to give up a physical
object in your possession or other thing of val-
ue (such as a Government [Void] check to find
Jealousy (Air) a way to sacrifice a holding to gain a political
advantage over a rival), you suffer 3 strife. If this
The story is told of Shiba Shikitora, a Phoenix Clan
is the first time this has occurred this scene, you
courtier in Otosan Uchi during the reign of Hantei XXXI,
gain 1 Void point.
who was so incensed by her rival, a court poet named
Kakita Sanuki, that she would try to outdo her in all things.
If Sanuki presented a poem, Shikitora would present
one on the following night in an effort to be the most
Meekness (Fire)
praiseworthy. If Sanuki wore a beautiful kimono, then the “Do you have something to add, Takeshiro?” Abbot
one worn by Shikitora must be ten times as lovely. Kenzo looked up from the scrolls he was transcribing
Sanuki’s heart was broken due to an ill-fated love, to where the young initiate was sweeping the floor.
and she threw herself from the roof of the Imperial Takeshiro became focused upon a particularly dirty
Palace. Everyone was saddened by this and spoke section of the chamber. He tried to respond, yet all that
admiringly of the late poet who had died for love. came out was a strangled mumble. He had wanted to
Shiba Shikitora threw herself from a roof twice as point out the rainwater that had begun to drip from
high on the next day. the patchy roof and was in danger of wetting the
ancient scrolls, but he could not work up the courage.
Types: Physical, Mental “Hmm,” the abbot nodded. “I thought not.”
Effects: The following apply to a character with the
Jealousy anxiety: Types: Interpersonal
Effects: The following apply to a character with the
Meekness anxiety:

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CHAPT ER 2: CR EATING A CHAR ACTER

$$ You are extremely shy, and you struggle to $$ In every shadow, you see assassins, and in
stand up for yourself. You cannot interrupt peo- every smile, you see a rival in pursuit of your
ple of higher status, and you find it very hard to undoing. This fear makes it very hard for you
assert yourself over anyone, including people to rely upon others, and it might distract you
of lower status. from real threats. You cannot relax unless you
have confirmed vital information (such as your
$$ After performing a check to stand out or get what
current safety) for yourself.
you need (such as a Command [Fire] check to
inspire troops under your command or a Govern- $$ After performing a check to identify danger
ment [Fire] check to assess your rights on a mat- in your environment (such as a Government
ter), you receive 3 strife. If this is the first time this [Water] check to know the political currents in
has occurred this scene, gain 1 Void point. a court or a Sentiment [Water] check to sense
if someone’s intentions toward you are hostile),
you receive 3 strife. If this is the first time this
Painful Honesty (Air) has occurred this scene, gain 1 Void point.

A popular, if bawdy, song at many roadside inns in


Rokugan, “The Honest Husband” is the story of a
Perfectionism (Water)
staunch-hearted farmer who can never tell a lie. The
song progresses through several verses where he is In the Imperial Palace at Otosan Uchi, in a room
faced with questions from his wife about her weight, entirely dedicated to this purpose, a painting is on
the attractiveness of her sister, and other increasingly display. It is not a mounted screen but rather a simple
risky (and risqué) situations. The song’s refrain of “you length of paper, tacked on a piece of wood. It depicts
know I love you, dearest, but I cannot tell a lie” has the morning mist rising from the Bay of the Golden
become on its own a catchphrase, used jokingly when Sun, with fisherfolk heading out for the day’s catch. It
a person is asked difficult questions. is a sublime work of art, although unfinished…and it is
also the most valuable painting in all of Rokugan.
Types: Interpersonal It is the sole surviving painting of Master Jun. It
Effects: The following apply to a character with the was the painting he was working on when he died.
Painful Honesty anxiety: None of Jun’s other paintings exist, because as soon
as he would finish one, he would reflect upon some
$$ You are tormented by internal conflict when you imperfection or flaw in the work, and burn it.
lie or allow a lie to pass. You cannot make claims
you know to be false, although you can say Types: Physical, Mental
technically truthful things that imply untruths, if Effects: The following apply to a character with the
politeness or circumstances demand it. Perfectionism anxiety:
$$ After you make a check to mislead someone
$$ Anything short of perfection in your work is
else (such as a Courtesy [Air] check to falsely
unacceptable to you, and you have been known
besmirch someone’s reputation or a Command
to create works of beauty only to cast them
[Air] check to manipulate an underling), you
aside over some perceived flaw. You cannot help
receive 3 strife. If this is the first time this has
but try to improve any work in which you identify
occurred this scene, gain 1 Void point.
a flaw, even if it means informing someone of
higher status of an error they have made.
Paranoia (Water) $$ After performing a check in which you must
interact with an imperfect or unfinished work
“A person who sees enemies everywhere is always
(such as an Aesthetics [Water] check to improve
blind to their truest enemy, for that enemy is behind
an existing piece of art or a Composition [Water]
their eyes.”
check to translate a work without losing any of
–Tao of Shinsei
the nuance present in the original language),
you receive 3 strife. If this is the first time this has
Types: Physical, Mental
occurred this scene, gain 1 Void point.
Effects: The following apply to a character with the
Paranoia anxiety:

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C H APT E R 2 : C R E AT I N G A C H AR ACT ER

Phobia (Water) $$ After performing a check that addresses or


involves killing others or letting them die (such as
Lord Shosuro Kosugi was said to have been terrified a Government [Fire] check to estimate the burden
of black crows, having been plagued by recurring a war would place on the common people or a
dreams of a black crow as a harbinger of his death. He Martial Arts [Ranged] [Fire] check to shoot to kill),
stationed archers all around his castle and in specially you receive 3 strife. If this is the first time this has
built hunting blinds for miles around his lands, with occurred this scene, gain 1 Void point.
standing orders for any black crow to be shot on sight.
It is said that he was found dead in his chambers,
his face twisted into a rictus of terror. On the floor of Superstition (Void)
the room was a single black feather.
“A great deal of folk wisdom revolves around death.
Peasants will avoid the number four because the
Types: Physical, Mental
pronunciation is close to one of the words that means
Effects: The following apply to a character with the
‘death.’ Chopsticks should never be stuck upright in
Phobia anxiety:
rice, as this mimics the placement of a ceremonial
$$ Choose something mundane. You have a debil- bowl upon the altar at a funeral. And one should never,
itating fear of this thing. You cannot speak its ever write a person’s name in red ink, as the names on
name. In its presence, you cannot hide your grave markers always are painted in red.”
fear, and you attempt to flee if at all possible.
–Observances of Empire, by Moto Kojiro
$$ After performing a check to deal with your
phobia (such as a Courtesy [Water] check to
talk pleasantly about the subject or a Survival Types: Mental, Spiritual
[Water] check to identify it as the thing you Effects: The following apply to a character with the
fear), you receive 3 strife. If this is the first time Superstition anxiety:
this has occurred this scene, gain 1 Void point. $$ When faced with signs of the supernatural, you
become visibly agitated, and you attempt to
leave the scene, appease the being or phe-
Softheartedness (Fire) nomenon in question, or acquire supernatural
“Go,” I said, breaking the bandit’s bow over my knee. protection of some kind.
“Leave. I never want to see you in our lands again.” $$ After performing a check to interact with or
The bandit, barely more than a boy, looked learn about a supernatural being or phenome-
nervously at Utatsu, who scowled and leaned heavily non (such as a Meditation [Void] check to per-
on his spear. The young bandit looked back to me. ceive the presence of a supernatural being or a
“Go on. Get out of here,” I repeated. He didn’t Theology [Void] check to know a supernatural
require more urging, and he scampered down the being’s designs or desires), you receive 3 strife.
road as fast has his skinny legs could carry him. If this is the first time this has occurred this
“You should have killed him,” Utatsu grumbled. scene, gain 1 Void point.
“Robbing people at arrow point is not a boy’s prank.”
“I’ve had my fill of killing,” I said. “If I had struck
him down, he would not have learned anything. This
way, he has a chance.”
Utatsu shook his head at my folly as we headed
back to the village.

Types: Interpersonal, Mental


Effects: The following apply to a character with the
Softheartedness anxiety:

$$ If given the choice to kill someone or show


mercy, you always spare their life, even if it is
not in your interest to let them live.

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CHAPT ER 2: CR EATING A CHAR ACTER

When to Apply Advantages and


Disadvantages to Checks
There are essentially two extremes for how GMs the story out of scope. It also works best
can go about using advantages and disadvantag- for groups in which the GM and players
es, and neither is intrinsically right or wrong. The operate with a fundamentally collaborative
GM should consider their group’s preferred mode dynamic rather than an adversarial one.
of play (creative flexibility or speed of play) in $$ Discrete Application: Advantages and dis-
deciding whether to choose one of the extremes advantages only apply to the listed example
or use elements of both models. checks and closely related checks from skills
in the same skill groups (Artisan, Social,
$$ Creative Application: Advantages and dis-
Scholar, Martial, Trade) as the listed checks.
advantages apply whenever it makes sense
This method allows GMs and players to
that they’d apply or when they would make
speed up checks and minimize discussion
for a cool story moment; the listed example
of whether or not advantages and disad-
checks are just examples, and shouldn’t be
vantages should apply in a given set of cir-
considered a comprehensive list. If a player
cumstances. The downsides of this method
can come up with a good reason that one
are that it can create odd moments of dis-
should apply, then the GM should allow it.
sonance when advantages or disadvantages
Similarly, if the GM feels one should apply
that seem like they should be relevant do
and offers a good reason, the player should
not apply by the letter of the law, and that
accept it without protest. This style of play
it leaves certain storytelling moments out of
gives GMs and players a lot of room to
reach. As a general guideline, no advantage
apply “common sense.” In this play style,
or disadvantage should apply more than
things run most smoothly if the GM and
once per scene in this model except at the
player are both willing to move on to rolling
GM’s discretion. GMs who go this route
dice after anything more than a brief bit
should also consider being much more spar-
of haggling. This is the assumed play style
ing with custom advantages and disadvan-
throughout the rest of the book, but some
tages, as they are likely to be much more
groups may find it too contentious at the
powerful than the sample ones provided.
table, as it requires a certain willingness to
trust that the GM (and players) won’t take

Creating Custom Custom Advantage and


Disadvantage Concepts
Advantages and Disadvantages Advantages and disadvantages are designed to pro-
vide occasional benefits and drawbacks based on your
While there are numerous advantages and disadvan- character’s intrinsic quirks. They should be distinct from
tages to be found in this volume, GMs and players the know-how characters develop with experience,
should not feel limited to this list. If you can’t find the which is represented by skills and techniques, and from
advantage or disadvantage you want on the list, talk to the character’s overall aptitudes, which are reflected by
the GM and ask permission to create a new advantage rings. These features should also have sufficient dis-
or disadvantage together. tinction from a character’s giri and ninjō, which should
remain the character’s core motivations.
Advantages and disadvantages should not always
be applicable, but they should be broad enough to
come up at least once every couple of sessions. If your
GM doesn’t think an advantage or disadvantage will
come up often, try collaborating with them to think up

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C H APT E R 2 : C R E AT I N G A C H AR ACT ER

something that provides the same sorts of story hooks from the rigging as he is staying one step ahead of
or ideas but will be more useful. another vessel. He proposes the Born Sailor distinc-
In designing a custom advantage or disadvantage, tion, which he posits should protect the character from
do not just consider scenarios in which it could be seasickness, no matter how tempestuous the ocean.
applied, but also think about one or two examples of Then, he notes two examples of when this should
when it could be turned to give your character an edge apply: when Hitoshi makes a Martial Arts [Ranged]
or cause your character problems (see page 100). If (Water) check to hit a target from the deck of a boat,
an advantage or disadvantage begins to get wordy, and when Hitoshi makes a Seafaring (Water) check to
consider what is fundamental about it and keep the find high-quality supplies for nautical activity. After the
longer phrase in a notebook to describe your charac- GM approves this advantage for use, Hitoshi is ready
ter; not everything about your character needs to be to conduct “legitimate business” on the seas!
represented mechanically on your sheet.
Passion
Developing a A passion represents an area of interest for your char-
Custom Advantage acter, something that makes them feel better when
or Disadvantage they practice or pursue it. Consider and record the nar-
rative effects that their love of this subject conveys
When creating an advantage or disadvantage, follow and the ring to which it will most often apply.
the process below for its type: Then, record two specific types of checks
for which the passion works in
Distinction their favor.

A distinction represents a feature of your character that


makes your character more effective in certain circum-
stances. Consider and record the narrative effects it
conveys and the ring to which it will most often
apply. Then record two specific examples of
checks for which the distinction works in your
character’s favor.
Example: Sam wants to reflect the
fact that his character, Hitoshi, grew
up on merchant vessels, and is as
sure firing an arrow
Example: Luna wants to represent
the fact that her character, Hei, a Unicorn
Clan warrior, is fascinated by grappling tech-
niques, and that Hei goes out of their way to
seek out chances to study other fighters and
their methods.
The GM notes that this advantage could be
quite potent, as it pertains to a Martial skill, but
the two discuss the idea and decide that it is
important enough to be worth represent-
ing mechanically. Luna proposes that
it grant Hei the narrative capacity
to recognize a fighter’s grappling school by a single
move (a very narrow utility, albeit a very useful one for a
wrestler), and that it should have example applications Anxiety
to Martial Arts [Unarmed] (Earth) checks to engage in
An anxiety represents some-
grappling contests and Culture (Earth) checks to recall
thing that stirs up negative emotions
anecdotes and trends related to the history of grap-
in your character. Consider and record the narrative
pling. The GM agrees that this isn’t too powerful as
challenges this fear, hatred, regret, or other emotional
a passion, and so the Grappling passion is assigned
weight places on your character and the ring to which
to Hei.
it will most often apply. Then, record two specific types
of checks for which the anxiety causes your character
Adversity to suffer turmoil.
An adversity represents something that makes your Example: Sara wants to represent her character
character’s life harder in a direct way. Consider and Karasu’s tendency to be overwhelmed by the desire
record the narrative challenges that the adversity for revenge against her parents’ killers. However, she
imposes on your character and the ring to which it will has already selected this as Karasu’s ninjō, and so
most often apply. Then, record two specific types of the GM recommends that she consider how to cre-
checks for which the adversity undermines your chanc- ate an anxiety that ties into Karasu’s ninjō but also
es of success. helps reveal more about the character. Sara decides
Example: Andrew wants to give his character, Kiriko, that because Karasu had to fend for herself from an
an adversity that adds a bit of levity to the otherwise earlier age than most, she cannot tolerate weakness
serious Scorpion courtier. However, the character is in herself or others.
decidedly stoic in nature, and so he wants to create the She proposes the anxiety Might Will Make Right,
situational humor of her artful ploys being lost upon her which prevents her from asking for help from others
less refined comrades, to her constant exasperation. when pursuing her ninjō of revenge upon her parents’
He proposes to the GM that Kiriko should have the killers, as Karasu views the task as hers alone. Addi-
Wasted in Such Company adversity, which has the nar- tionally, the disadvantage has example applications of
rative impact of causing her attempts at searing jabs Meditation (Earth) checks to see the costs of her quest
to end up coming off rather harmlessly to her fellow for revenge and Tactics (Earth) checks to make plans or
PCs, who simply do not pick up on the cutting insults take actions to protect allies. The GM agrees, and so
she has so subtly implied. The GM decides that while this anxiety is assigned to Karasu.
this narrative effect might be too influential if it worked
on all characters, encouraging intra-party banter (espe- Keep In Mind...
cially after the other players agree with the concept) is
As with all matters, the GM is the final arbiter of
fun, and the ability shouldn’t cause too much trouble.
whether a given advantage or disadvantage is
Andrew then proposes that it should have example
appropriate or not. GMs should be aware that cus-
checks of Courtesy (Air) checks to spread malicious
tom advantages that apply to Martial skills can
gossip and Performance (Air) checks to send subtle
easily become very potent, and they should
messages. The GM agrees, and so Kiriko is assigned
thus pay careful attention to any such
the Wasted in Such Company adversity.
advantages their players propose.

139
3
CHAPTER

Skills
More so than almost any other single
mechanic, skills define the knowledge and
competency of a character in the Legend
of the Five Rings Roleplaying Game. While
rings represent a samurai’s general out-
look and natural inclination, skills represent
the more concrete knowledge they have
accrued throughout the course of their
entire lifetime. As such, skills allow them to
accomplish a tremendous amount, giving
them access to more dice to choose from
on their rolls and new result combinations
that do not exist on the . Each skill rep-
resents an area of competency—a par-
ticular body of knowledge and practical
experience, essentially. A skilled character
not only is more likely to succeed than an
unskilled character, but also has a much
better ability to create useful opportuni-
ties or complete a task effortlessly.
CHAPTER 3: SKIL L S

Skills and Checks


$$ Scholar skills: Information is power, and Scholar
skills give a character access to information about
society, the world, and other people. Scholar
When making a check (see page 22), a player first skills allow characters to recall information, identi- THE RIGHT LEVEL
OF DETAIL
states what their character wants to accomplish, which fy things related to an area of expertise, observe
determines the skill group used for the check. Then, their environment, and draw conclusions. This chapter offers a
based on the body of knowledge that is most relevant, $$ Social skills: Courtiers hold incredible sway in great many examples of
the GM and player determine which skill is the most how skills can function.
Rokugan, negotiating the agreements by which
For some groups, these
fitting for the task. Finally, the player describes the wars are waged and averted and influencing are invaluable, providing
method their character employs, from which the GM marriages, trade, and other events of great guidance on how to use
determines their approach. Each skill group has five import in the lives of samurai. Thus, Social skills the skill system. But for
approaches (one for each element) that reflect the var- are at least somewhat important to almost all other groups, they might
ious methods a character might use to leverage a skill seem like unnecessary
samurai, from the most silver-tongued denizens detail, as the process of
to that end. Each of these approaches encompasses a of ruling courts to the roughest of field soldiers. choosing a skill group,
number of concrete ways of using the competency that Social skills allow characters to affect the emo- skill, and ring provides
a skill reflects to achieve various goals. Many approach- tions and thoughts of others through rhetoric, sufficient storytelling
es have additional examples in individual skill entries opportunities.
behavior, and body language.
found in this chapter, but these obey the general prin- GMs should not feel
ciples set out in each skill group overview.
$$ Trade skills: These are skills most commonly
constrained by the
Thus, when assessing a character’s ability to per- practiced by occupants of the bottom tiers of examples in this chap-
form a given task, one must examine both their skill Rokugan’s stratified society. Trade skills allow ter—these are meant
characters to procure resources from their envi- to help, not confine,
ranks (their expertise in the field of study) and the ring roleplaying. If a group
the character will use for the end they want to accom- ronment and perform work.
is comfortable describ-
plish (their core aptitude at that sort of approach). This ing how they mix and
means that two characters with the same number of match rings and skills
ranks in a skill might actually have radically different
probabilities of completing a given approach to a skill,
Breakdown of a Skill on their own, then they
should feel free to do
so without worrying
based on their natural aptitudes for the skill’s various about adhering to the
Each skill is made up of a number of elements, as
approaches (reflected by their rings). examples here.
described below.

Skill Groups Description


Each skill’s description explains the body of knowledge
Skills in the Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying that the skill encompasses and how it differs from other
Game are divided into five categories based on their skills. Specific activities that can be undertaken with the
primary uses and role in society: skill are described under its approaches.

$$ Artisan skills: The high arts of Rokugan have a


powerful influence on society. While common- Approaches
ers produce most items in Rokugan, artisans Each skill group has five approaches that correspond
produce influential, sometimes even supernat- to the Five Rings, and each skill write-up includes addi-
ural works that can alter the course of history. tional examples and details of how these approaches
Artisan skills allow characters to engage in the function for that particular skill. Because the Five Rings
process of creating art. express various methods and different attitudes toward
$$ Martial skills: Samurai were originally warriors, undertaking tasks, each approach governs a specific
and while members of this societal strata fill set of avenues to which a character can apply a skill.
many roles in Rokugan now, it is still steeped
in martial traditions. As such, Martial skills Sample Tasks, Target
are seen as being of utmost importance.
Martial skills allow characters to fight in duels
Numbers (TNs), and Times
or battles, defeat physical challenges, suc- Each skill lists a number of sample tasks and the various
cessfully wage war, and overcome their own requirements to perform them, including the target
mental limits. number (TN) of the involved check and the time span

141
C H APT E R 3 : S K I L L S

of the task (usually “action” or “downtime”). These are provides. When Johei wants to know the melting point
meant to help give the GM a sense of how to apply of bronze, he treats Smithing as a Scholar skill for the
the skill in play; they are not intended to be a compre- check to remember this fact. Because this activity
hensive list of everything the skill can do. Players and requires recalling information rather than creating
GMs should feel free to logically extrapolate how they or studying works of art, Johei makes a check with
can use skills for other tasks they would reasonably Smithing (Earth) and resolves the results of that check
cover, using the examples to inform how an approach using the Recall approach (described on page 154).
can function mechanically. Occasionally, sidebars will
In another example, Zhu Li, an aide to an Emerald
offer more granular guidance on the use of specif-
Magistrate, wants to make a particularly insightful
ic skills to perform tasks, such as healing injuries and
comment about her employer’s bow technique after
crafting items.
observing him in battle. Though this skill is usually
used for launching projectiles, it can also be used for

Choosing Skill Group, discussing the technicalities of the craft. Thus, Zhu Li
makes a Martial Arts [Ranged] check using an approach

Skill, and Approach


from the Social skill group. Because she wants to
pay a backhanded compliment—in the hope that
her employer will understand the subversive nuance
The process of choosing a skill group, skill, and approach without being able to accuse her of rudeness—she
is summarized in the chart on page 144. Additionally, uses Trick, the Air approach, for her check.
the chart includes descriptions of hindrances that might
make each approach more difficult or even impossible. Investigation is one particularly common activity for
When you are unsure which skill group, skill, or approach which characters undertake tasks using the approaches
fits best, consult Table 3–1: Choosing Skill Group, Skill, of a skill group that is not the one for the skill they
and Approach on the next page, asking yourself the list- are using. Legend of the Five Rings does not place
ed questions and answering them in sequence to deter- the task of finding things or connecting the dots on
mine the best option at each stage. any single skill, so when a character wants to perceive,
intuit, theorize, or remember something related to a

Using Approaches from particular area of expertise, they use the skill that best
applies to that body of knowledge with the Scholar skill
Other Skill Groups approach that pertains to the way they want to acquire
For some tasks relating to a given skill, the approaches the information. See the sidebar The Art of Investiga-
of a different skill group are actually more fitting than tion, on page 170, for more guidance on how to use
the default approaches for the skill’s own skill group. skills to investigate.
This chapter provides a number of examples of tasks
that are best accomplished using the approaches of a
different group than the one a skill usually occupies.
GMs should feel free to resolve a skill check using the
approach of any other skill groups whenever common
sense dictates, such as in the following examples.

For a particular plan of his to work, Agasha


Johei needs to know how much heat is required to
melt bronze. The Smithing skill encompasses the
knowledge of metallurgy needed for the creation
of arms and armor. Even though Artisan skills,
such as Smithing, are most commonly
used to fabricate and maintain
creations, there is no separate
Scholar skill that covers the
information Smithing

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CHAPTER 3: SKIL L S

Optional Rule: Subskills


Legend of the Five Rings means many different Kingdoms]—such knowledge can simply be part of
things to many different people, and not every the character’s backstory if they studied something
possible campaign should use the exact same skill they’d never mechanically use during the cam-
list. The skills used in a particular group’s game paign. Still, the player’s desire tells you something
should be ones that will actually be important to useful about what they might want to do in the
the story—skills that reflect the atmosphere, mood, campaign, and you can capitalize on that informa-
and challenges that the PCs will face! tion by working it into your plans. If a player wants
Even two campaigns run for the same group a skill that specific, you could consider adding a
might have different skill and subskill needs. For shōgi tournament or an important envoy from the
example, if your campaign is going to be a tale Ivory Kingdoms to your story!
of adventure and intrigue culminating in a jour- To develop a subskill, choose the skill that
ney into the depths of an ancient sorcerer’s tomb, already covers that activity (or is the closest to
having fully fleshed-out subskills for both Ikebana doing so), and add the new subskill to its skill
(flower arrangement) and Rock Gardening is like- group. It should function in much the same way as
ly superfluous. Both reflect an understanding of the skill from which it was divided, and it should
aesthetics, nature, and minimalism, and thus both count as a member of the same skill group. The
can be covered by the provided Aesthetics skill. skill from which it was divided no longer covers the
In contrast, in a courtly drama in which swords are activity of the subskill. When a listed check calls for
rarely drawn and knowledge of forbidden super- the main skill (such as in a technique, or when a
natural secrets is all but irrelevant (to say nothing character is resisting an effect), the character may
of uncouth), there is little reason to have both Mar- choose to use the main skill or any subskill that you
tial Arts [Staves] and Martial Arts [Swords] as sub- deem could logically apply. It’s a very good idea
skills—but the difference between the Ikebana and to alert your players about any planned subskills
Rock Gardening subskills might be crucial to distin- before they build their characters. Any time the
guishing the skill sets of two different characters. main skill appears in a character’s school curriculum
The skills listed in this chapter are intended (see page 57) or title curriculum (see page 305),
to be a solid starting selection for many Legend the GM should decide whether to replace it with
of the Five Rings campaigns, and they cover the a subskill or simply add the subskill, allowing both
bases without taxing characters of any specif- to contribute. Adding subskills in the midst of an
ic archetype excessively if they want to achieve ongoing campaign is generally not recommend-
competency in their field. We have generally con- ed. GMs who do so should discuss it with their
densed skills from past editions that were unlikely players first so that nobody feels their experience
to be used frequently, with the goal of producing expenditures were undermined, or let players reas-
a smooth system. sign spent XP based on the changes to the skill list.
However, as the GM, you should feel free to In each skill entry, this chapter offers a number
tailor this skill list to the type of game you want to of specific ways you might want to break certain
run. Think about the focus of your game—is a skill subskills off from their main skill, along with con-
that you think players should roll on often missing? veying what this added granularity signals about
Feel free to add it in as a subskill. You should even the campaign’s focus and story.
allow players to suggest new subskills, though If a subskill is particularly narrow and not a Mar-
you might advise them not to get overly specific tial subskill, the GM might want to consider chang-
and narrow, lest they never have a chance to roll ing the price to invest in it. We recommend half the
dice from the 12 experience points they dutifully price of a standard skill (XP equal to the rank the
invested into Games [Shōgi] or Culture [The Ivory character is purchasing).

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Table 3–1: Choosing Skill Group, Skill, and Approach

WHAT DO
YOU WANT? WHAT SPECIFIC EXPERTISE DO YOU NEED? WHAT METHOD DO YOU USE?

DETERMINES
SKILL GROUP DETERMINES SKILL DETERMINES APPROACH

Artisan approaches (choose one)


• Restore a damaged piece through upkeep (Earth)

Artisan skills (choose one)
• Adapt an existing piece into something else

To craft a piece •• Nonutilitarian art (Aesthetics)
(Water)
of art (Artisan • Literature and poetry (Composition)

• Invent a new piece from raw materials (Fire)

Skill Group) • Finery and worn art (Design)

• Refine an existing piece to make it function better

• Armor and weapons (Smithing)

(Air)
• Attune yourself to a piece of art (Void)

Social approaches (choose one)


Social skills (choose one) •• Reason with them to act based on logic and duty

• How to assert authority over others, espe- (Earth)
cially of lower status (Command) •• Charm them to develop positive feelings toward
To influence a •• How to appeal formally to others, especially you (Water)
person (Social of higher status (Courtesy) •• Incite them to act on their emotions and desires
Skill Group) •• How to discuss and play games to socialize (Fire)
(Games) •• Trick them into believing something you want
•• How to communicate with and influence an them to believe (Air)
audience (Performance) •• Enlighten them to understand a fundamental
truth (Void)

Scholar skills (choose one)


•• Current events, historical trends, and eti-
quette (Culture) Scholar approaches (choose one)
To know or learn •• Law, bureaucracy, posts, and positions (Gov- •• Recall it from memory (Earth)
a piece of infor- ernment) •• Survey the surroundings for clues about it (Water)
mation (Scholar •• Health, injury, and disease (Medicine) •• Theorize possibilities of its nature (Fire)
Skill Group) •• Psychology, emotions, and motivations (Sen- •• Analyze a specific thing for details about it (Air)
timent) •• Sense it with your instincts or a hunch (Void)
•• The spiritual realms, mystical beings and
phenomena, and religious rites (Theology)

Martial skills (choose one)


•• Performing athletic feats and resisting harm Martial approaches (choose one)
(Fitness) •• Withstand opposing force to wear it down (Earth)
•• Using close-quarters arms (Martial Arts •• Shift opposing force to work against itself or for
To overcome
[Melee]) you (Water)
an opponent or
•• Using missile weapons (Martial Arts •• Overwhelm opposing force with a quick burst of
challenge with
[Ranged]) power (Fire)
force (Martial
•• Fighting bare-handed and with improvised •• Feint to lure opposing force into a position of
Skill Group)
weapons (Martial Arts [Unarmed]) vulnerability (Air)
•• Mastering oneself and controlling emotion •• Sacrifice to let opposing force score a victory so
such as anger, fear, and hate (Meditation) that you can achieve a greater end (Void)
•• Fighting with squads and armies (Tactics)

Trade skills (choose one) Trade approaches (choose one)


•• Sales, trading, and speculation (Commerce) •• Produce what you need through physical toil
•• Farming, construction, and production (Earth)
To get resources
(Labor) •• Exchange one type of labor or resources for
or perform work
•• Sailing and living on the ocean (Seafaring) another (Water)
(Trade
•• Criminal organizations and activities (Skul- •• Innovate a new way to get what you need (Fire)
Skill Group)
duggery) •• Con someone to get something for nothing (Air)
•• Living in the wilds beyond civilization (Sur- •• Subsist in your environment without disrupting it
vival) (Void)

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CHAPTER 3: SKIL L S

Artisan Skill Group


A character uses Adapt when they want to: HIERARCHY OF SKILLS

$$ Break a piece down to serve as raw materials Skill groups in this


Artisan skills are seen as the noblest pursuits in for a new work. chapter are presented in
descending order of their
Rokugan, and they are generally only practiced by $$ Modify a creation to serve a different function.
perceived importance in
the highest elements of the social strata. While many Rokugani society—from
$$ Reflect upon the other ways that a piece
have little utility in day-to-day life—or perhaps because the perspective of the
could function.
of this fact—these arts are a means of acquiring and ruling class, at least.
leveraging important social currency in the courts of Artisan skills are viewed
Rokugan. Writing a poem that stirs the hearts of its Invent Approach (Fire Ring) as they most vaunted in
readers or restoring an ancient sword used by a hero of Rokugan. Art often has a
Pure invention is the domain of the Fire Ring, and as sacred aspect to it, and
old can have a profound effect on others.
is considered the purest
such, creating new works of art is the Fire approach to
Elemental Approaches
expression of wisdom.
Artisan skills. Even seemingly minimalistic pursuits such

for Artisan Skills


as flower arrangement or bonsai call for vast amounts Social skills are the skills
of rulers and court-
of passion and mental energy. If an artist makes few
iers, whose words and
A character’s natural aptitudes likely push them toward decisions in the process of creating a work, then each intrigues decide the fate
a variety of endeavors even within the sphere of exper- decision the artist does make carries exceptional sig- of Rokugan in the highest
nificance. These bold strokes and decisions are repre- courts.
tise a single art represents. The elemental approaches
for Artisan skills function as follows. sented by the Invent approach. Scholar skills are the tools
A character uses Invent when they want to: of the bureaucrats who

Restore Approach (Earth Ring) $$ Create a new piece from raw materials.
manage domains and
instruct other samurai in
their work.
The Earth Ring represents a character’s tendency $$ Draft a new work.
toward cautious, well-considered approaches that Martial skills are seen as
$$ Develop a technique or tool to assist in the noble in their own fash-
show due respect for history, so the repair and upkeep
creative process. ion, but many members
of art is governed by the Earth approach to Artisan
of the elite see themselves
skills. The creation of art is a monumental task, but $$ Brainstorm possible new works that they
as above the rugged ways
so is its maintenance and preservation. Even for arts could make. of war.
that exclusively create ephemeral works of beauty,
Trade skills are generally
tools must be maintained and records must be kept so viewed as the domain
that future artisans in the tradition can understand and Refine Approach (Air Ring) of lesser samurai and
reflect upon the achievements of the past. peasants.
Understanding nuance is part of the Air Ring, as are the
A character uses Restore when they want to: careful addition, manipulation, and removal of detail.
These apply to Artisan skills via the Refine approach,
$$ Restore a damaged or degraded work of art to
which allows a character to improve a piece’s core
its previous state.
function, elevating it to heights otherwise unreachable.
$$ Perform routine maintenance on a work of art. Refine turns a creation into a masterwork, and it differs
$$ Store or transport a work of art safely. from the Adapt approach in that instead of changing,
subverting, or reinterpreting function, it enhances and
deepens it. Refine also allows a skilled artisan to layer
Adapt Approach (Water Ring) into a piece nuance and hidden messages or mean-
ings that viewers must disentangle for themselves to
Water is an element of change, so for Artisan skills,
fully understand.
the Water approach determines a character’s abil-
A character uses Refine when they want to:
ity to reframe, combine, divide, or entirely transform
their own creations and those of others. Whether this $$ Improve the core function of a piece by adding
means translating a piece of literature, cutting down or manipulating details.
and remounting a blade for a new wielder, or remak-
$$ Improve the core function of a piece by remov-
ing a piece of broken pottery completely by filling in
ing unnecessary things.
the shattered seams with lacquer and powdered gold,
adaptation is transformative and fluid. $$ Add a subtle message or complex nuance to
a piece.

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C H APT E R 3 : S K I L L S

Attune Approach (Void Ring) Aesthetics Approaches


The Void Ring governs self-knowledge and self-reflec- The Aesthetics skill can be used with the appropriate
tion, so the Void approach to an Artisan skill revolves rings as follows:
not around learning about a work of art per se, but
$$ Restore Approach (Earth Ring): Restoring a
around learning about oneself by entering deeply
damaged piece, maintaining something’s beau-
into the mindset the piece evokes. This sort of artistic
ty, safely transporting a piece.
reflection allows a character to use a piece of art as a
lens through which to understand their own heart. It $$ Adapt Approach (Water Ring): Altering an
can reveal not only the piece’s purpose in a grander existing work, completely reworking or rebuild-
POSSIBLE
AESTHETICS SUBSKILLS sense, but also why it has entered into the character’s ing an existing piece, finding inspiration for
life at this time and what conclusions the character can new works.
Bonsai (Tree Pruning), draw about their own circumstances and emotions
Drawing, Ikebana
$$ Invent Approach (Fire Ring): Creating a new
from that incident. work, brainstorming new possible works,
(Flower Arrangement),
Kodo (Fragrances), A character uses Attune when they want to: developing new methods and techniques for
Painting, Origami, Rock creating art.
Gardening, Sculpture, $$ Use a piece as a focal point through which
Woodblock Prints to disentangle their own emotions or $$ Refine Approach (Air Ring): Finding a flaw in
contemplate Enlightenment. a piece and removing it, adding a detail that
enhances a piece, hiding a subtle message
$$ Spiritually center their being around a work. within a work.
$$ Awaken the dormant supernatural properties of $$ Attune Approach (Void Ring): Learning a
an object. work’s purpose, discerning whether a work has
any supernatural qualities or features and awak-

Artisan Skills
ening those features within it.

Artisan skills represent a character’s expertise with


works of surpassing beauty that capture the imagina- Composition
tions of those who see them and that win renown for Almost all samurai are literate, for holding nearly any
their creators at court. office, bureaucratic or military, requires the ability to
MEANING IN ART
read and write. Thus, while not all samurai explore the
While art may seem a Aesthetics finer points of wordsmithing, literature is an elevated
frivolous pursuit, it serves art in Rokugan. Courtly samurai are expected to know
Art has been expected to be half of a samurai’s pur-
as yet another way to dozens of classic poems by heart and grasp literary
maneuver politically and suits since the founding of the Empire. An appreciation
allusions that can provide important subtext in conver-
socially in Rokugan. and understanding of art is so ingrained in a samurai’s
sation. The best poets compose in the moment, with
training that to look upon a work and not be moved is,
Gift giving is an important every sentence they speak layered with meaning.
part of Rokugani culture, to the samurai, a sure sign of barbarianism, a charge
Haiku, a three-line poem with five syllables in the first
and a work produced by that bestows great shame upon those who bear it. The
the gift-giver is especially
line, seven in the second, then five in the last, is one of
more martial clans understand that art is essential for
valued for the effort the most popular forms of poetry in Rokugan. Writers
clearing a warrior’s mind and reminding them of life
expended on the gift. This often use it to describe a moment in time, from the first
also allows the giver to while so often surrounded by death.
snowflake seen in winter to a moment of tranquility by a
send subtle messages to the The Aesthetics skill covers activities that create
pond. Others practice different forms of poetry, includ-
recipient. For example, an non-utilitarian visual art, such as bonsai (trimming
origami lion may suggest ing longer poems and competitions of linked poems
plants to encourage their growth in an artistic fash-
an alliance against a mu- traded back and forth, or write prose in the form of travel
ion), ikebana (flower arrangement), origami, painting,
tual foe, while a painting diaries, philosophical essays, and even fantastical tales.
of an ocean scene may and rock gardening. Such arts serve a deeply import-
Literature allows a character to create powerful
propose a trade agreement. ant role in the courts of Rokugan, and any courtier is
The best pieces of art
compositions that sway readers and to understand the
expected to have an understanding of their principles,
are those with multiple literary devices and allusions that underlie such influen-
techniques, and guiding philosophies. By understand-
possible meanings, so that tial works. Additionally, the aesthetics of calligraphy are
only the recipient may ing a work of art, one can gain insight into its creator,
important to many writers in Rokugan, so Composition
understand the message. and that insight can be invaluable in pursuing political
also governs the act of putting words on a surface in
agendas and court intrigue alike.
ink in a pleasing way.

146
Composition Approaches
POSSIBLE
$$ Attune Approach (Void Ring): Understanding
The Composition skill can be used with the appropriate COMPOSITION
a writer’s deeper purpose behind a work, dis- SUBSKILLS
rings as follows:
cerning whether a work has any supernatural
qualities or features, learning about oneself Calligraphy, Essays,
$$ Restore Approach (Earth Ring): Restoring an
from a text. Poetry, Monogatari
old text that has been damaged by time or (Narrative Literature),
exposure, annotating a difficult text with refer- Nikki Bungaku (Travel
ences that make it easier for readers to under- Diaries)
stand, transcribing a work without errors.
Design
$$ Adapt Approach (Water Ring): Translating a Presentation matters. At court, it is often said that
text from another language, adapting a work beautiful looks reflect a beautiful soul, and also whis-
for a new medium, using an old quote in a new pered that one whose soul is corrupt will display physi-
context that reframes its meaning, combining cal signs of that corruption. Despite wiser words on the
visual elements with textual elements. subject by Shinsei and other sages, a skilled samurai
who dresses shabbily will often be seen as lesser than
$$ Invent Approach (Fire Ring): Writing a first
the barely competent one who is well dressed.
draft of a new text, filling in the missing gaps
Design covers the act of making clothes for times of
of an incomplete text, brainstorming ideas for
peace and formal occasions. After all, arms and armor
new written works.
are not appropriate for all situations in a samurai’s life,
$$ Refine Approach (Air Ring): Correcting errors much as some individuals might lament this reality.
in a work, removing excessive and unnec- However, that does not mean that a samurai attending
essary verbiage from a work to make it read court can afford to choose their garments with any less
more cleanly and quickly, adding a nuanced care than when they take to the battlefield. Carefully
allusion or reference, introducing implications selected clothes and adornments are vital weapons
and subtext. and armor to courtiers, allowing them to send subtle

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Crafting Weapons and Armor


If a character wants to make a new item, they must the facilities available—the wondrous workshop
make a check using the appropriate skill, with the used by the Kakita smiths would reduce the TN by
TN set by the GM. They must acquire the materials 4, while a small town blacksmith’s facilities would
needed to make the item (which could be anything provide a more modest reduction of 2.
from a brush and ink to a forge and steel). They usu- If the character fails, they can always try again
ally use the Invent or Adapt approach to create the later. If they succeed, the character crafts the gen-
first version of the item. Of course, they might then eral shape of the item—it is a blade without a fit-
adapt and refine the item to improve it, restore it if ting, or armor without straps. It is not usable yet.
it ever becomes damaged, and attune themself to As another downtime activity, the charac-
it to gain greater insight into its use. ter may make a Smi