Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Day of Void: L5R Homebrew Planning (Four)

Continuing on with my work getting ready for an L5R campaign. Below is the material I sent the players so they could start considering their characters. This tags on to the end of the previous campaign and explains what happened after the final scene. That was essentially a different version of the Scorpion Clan Coup, with the Nothing in the driver's seat. The destruction of that force rendered most people's memories of the event hazy or absent entirely. 

Previous Posts:
The New Dragon: L5R Campaign Planning (Post One)
The New Dragon: Building the Family (Post Two)

On Honor (Post Three)

It has been almost three years since the event known as The Day of Void. On that day, Hantei the XXXVIII was murdered, and yet no one was punished. The Imperial capital of Otosan Uchi burned and many died, yet blame could not be laid with any certainty. Somehow memories of those days were fragmented, bent, and even erased entirely. The few who recalled events gave testimony. And yet those testimonies contradict and repudiate one another. Some claim they saw the death of one person though that person still lived. Some spoke of rescuing a friend, but that person lay dead. Some claim the Shadowlands marched upon the walls, while no evidence of taint can be located. Battles, duels, betrayal, siege- all of these things cannot be confirmed. Even the physical evidence and voices from the kami seem at odds with one another.

What is known and what is suspected are two different things. The inner circles have spoken of the Shadow, a corrupting and changing force which manipulated events. The destruction of this force, a thing forgotten since the creation of the world, caused the ripples and conflict within the world. It had been a thing of deceit and so left a legacy of uncertainty and fear. Some say it even changed the land itself, a rumor quickly put down by reference to the Emperor’s maps.

Many fell at Otosan Uchi during that period- much of the Imperial Legion, many visiting Scorpion troops, forces from all of the other clans. Some died there, it is said, while others simply vanished across the empire. The Hantei died from a sword-stroke, but no one can saw who brought him down. Other great heroes of the empire fell as well: Akodo Torturi, the Lion Clan Champion; Toghashi Yokuni, the Dragon Clan Champion; Bayushi Shoju, the Scorpion Clan Champion; and Doji Satsume, the Crane Clan Champion. Others of renown fell as with Mirumoto Hitomi; Doji Hitori; Bayushi Dairu; Soshi Bantaro; and many others. The Scorpion, Lion, and Crane suffered the most losses- troops, samurai, courtiers, and others devastated. The Unicorn, Phoenix, and Dragon suffered significant losses as well, with some families such as the Togashi bearing the brunt. Only the Crab suffered minor losses, which they have needed in the days since then- as the Shadowlands has been increasingly aggressive and dangerous.

The Fortunes managed to protect the young Imperial Heir, Hantei the XXXIX. He found himself in the Phoenix lands with no memory of how he had come to be there. With wisdom, he quickly turned aside his desire for vengeance when the full magnitude of the situation became clear. Despite accusations from clan against clan, he declared a general amnesty- producing a blessing from the Kami Togashi. He revealed that the Kami had sacrificed himself to save Rokugan and seal the Lying Darkness. The Emperor recognized the efforts of the Mantis in his rescue, although he did not know the details, and promoted them to Great Clan status once more. He set forth a plan to rebuild Otosan Uchi and focused his energies. In a move calculated to protect the weakened Scorpion, he took Bayushi Kachiko, widow of the Scorpion Clan Champion, as his bride.

The Empire has slowly begun to restore itself in the three years since. However rumors, hearsay, and speculation has led to tensions between the clans. Skirmishes and wars have erupted in nearly every season. The Emperor has been occupied with the rebuilding and establishing of his dynasty, leaving the daimyo a free hand. At the same time, the Shadowlands have risen with a force not seen in centuries, some speak of dark monsters in the Shinomen Mori forest, and Bloodspeakers have been caught across the realm. The recent war between the Lion, Scorpion, and Unicorn was among the bloodiest and costliest, threatening trade, commerce, and the sustenance. The Dragon had remained quiet in their mountains for generation, but now took action. With a devastating strike, they marched forces in and seized lands bordering these three clans- creating a meandering border province. Clan Champion Togashi Hoshi petitioned the Emperor, calling on the favor owed to the clan for the kami’s sacrifice. The Emperor agreed to recognize the region as Dragon Clan lands, in exchange for other concessions from the clan. The Unicorn and Lion raged against the decision, but could not openly dispute the Emperor’s will. The Scorpion Clan remained silent on the matter. The new lands of the Dragon were split among three daimyo, one from the Mirumoto, another from the Agasha, and the third to be given over to a new family created and anointed by Togashi Hoshi to honor this daimyo’s efforts and heroic actions.

So it is that you have become part of this new family among the Dragon Clan. Perhaps you are distantly related by blood to the daimyo’s line; perhaps you simply owe fealty to it; you may have volunteered to join this new family as a chance to gain honor; perhaps you were gifted by your family; perhaps you were exiled; perhaps you were recruited; perhaps you were raised up from ronin or other status. There are many reasons why you might have joined- we can certainly talk about that. Each of you will be important people- honored figures. There will be other senior samurai, but you will be key. Each of you will have a role within the family, and a retinue to help you carry that out. But you will also be the taskforce and comrades which the daimyo sends out to deal with problems.

While you are of the Dragon Clan, you have not necessarily trained there. In Legend of the Five Rings, there are ‘roles’ rather than locked in character classes. Once you have chosen a role, you then choose a “school.” Schools refine your training and experience and offer different abilities. Some samurai-class students train at other schools and then return to their own clan- since you’re PCs you are exceptional and will have a chance to do that. It is also possible to train at two schools- but such a choice will cost all of your bonus picks and you will only be able to advance in one of the schools during play. I will present a list of the different clan schools and a brief description of their focus. In thinking about what you want to play, consider that each of the major roles- Samurai, Shugenja, Courtier, Monk can be built in different ways, with different aspects. Here are some examples (not necessarily covering everything).

Samurai: Classic Warrior; Duelist; Brutal Fighter; Scout; Field Leader
Shugenja: Specialist on one of the four elements- Air, Water, Fire, or Earth; Magical Craftsman; Witchhunter; Inquisitor
Courtier: Diplomat; Artist; Engineer; Bard; Spy; Investigator; Merchant
Monk: Martial Artist; Master of Chi; ize zumi (Monk with Magic Tattoos)

You’ll be building your character with points, as with most Action Cards rules. Your character will be built on your deck (results assigned, edges, and unique cards); your skills (which allow redraws); your aspects (descriptive traits); mechanical details (stress, honor); and talents/flaws (special unique abilities, ancestor blessings, etc. bought only at character creation). Beyond this are the Clan Schools which offer school techniques. Each has five ranked techniques which must be bought in order. You start with the Rank One pick and can buy more during character creation or in play. You also get some free skills for taking a school.

During play, you’ll also get a chance to suggest and develop some additional special abilities. We’ve done this in the Last Fleet campaign, and it has been pretty successful. These will represent new katas learned, lessons from your dojo, new expertise developed, new contacts made, or even an advanced school of study. You’ll also have the chance to buy stuff based on your role. Shugenja, obviously, will be able to buy new spells. Some Monks will be able to buy new kiho powers or tattoos. Courtier characters will be able to gain new strings to pull. Combat focused characters will be able to buy new combat maneuvers. You’ll be able to purchase outside your role (except for magic stuff), but at a higher cost.

Here’s what I want you to do:
Below you’ll find a list of the Clans and their schools. For each I’ve listed at least three keywords which reflect the kind of stuff they do and kinds of School techniques they get. In some cases I’ve listed some variant paths under a major school; these are the same as the base, but with one technique swapped out for a new one. Look through and see what interests you. Select up to three that you might want to play. You can choose fewer if you know what you really want. If you want to spend all of your bonus picks on two schools, tell me and we’ll discuss that. I’ll allow up to two people that chance, but they’d better have a good story. Once you’ve picked, I’ll write out those abilities. This is a means of reducing my workload, so I don’t have to create all of the School stuff at the start. Feel free to ask questions or discuss among yourselves what you want to play.

Hiruma Scout: Long distance patrols, survival, and battles with Shadowlands creatures
            Hiruma Grappler (Grapples), Hiruma Stalker (Find Weakness)
Kaiu Engineer: Smiths, trapmasters, and architects.
Yasuki Merchant: Trade, commerce, faux pas, and contacts.
            Yasuki Peacekeeper (Disarm), Yasuki Quartermaster (scavenging)
Yasuki Taskmaster: Intimidation, Taunting, Training, and Stamina.
            Yasuki Houseguard (resist temptation)
Kuni Witch Hunter: Occult knowledge, sensing taint, and fighting Shadowlands.
Kuni Shugenja: Earth element, countering taint, and blasting Shadowlands.
            Kuni Oni Slayer (binding), Kuni Duelist (Read aspects), Crystal Master (work crystal)
Crab Berserker: Rage, unarmored fighting, and strength.
Hida Bushi: Armored fighting, strength, and stamina.
            Tetsubo Duelist (iaijutsu), Falcon’s Wings (running)
Hida Pragmatist: Unarmed, tenacity, and evasion.

Daidoji Bodyguard: Defense, protection, and negating advantage.
            Daidoji Duelist (iaijutsu), Daidoji Heavy Regulars (armored fighting), Iron Warriors (polearms)
Daidoji Harriers: Speed, scouting, and stealth.
Kakita Artisans: Instruction, arts mastery, criticism, and perception.
            Master of Ikebana (Harmony), Master of Wits (Games), Master of Poetry (Poem Duels)
Kakita Bushi: Iaijutsu, dueling, and reflexes
            Empress Guard (honor)
Kakita Jesters: Mockery, manipulation, and acid tongue.
Doji Magistrate: Perception, judgment, and swordplay.
Doji Courtier: Influence, gifting, honor, and favors.
            Doji Arbiter (Discernment), Daidoji Trading Councilor (commerce)
Asahina Shugenja: Air element, magical crafting, and craftsmanship.
            Asahina Fetishist (blessings), Asahina Duelist (wound protection)

Kitsuki Investigator: Observation, investigation, and enforcement
            Kitsuki Justicar (iaijutsu), Kitsuki Courtier (diplomacy), Kitsuki Gamester (games)
Mirumoto Bushi: Dual Weapons, spell Awareness, and Initiative
            Mirumoto Mountaineer (resist surprise), Mirumoto Talons (battlefield mastery)
Mirumoto Swordsman: Dual Weapons, dueling, and focus
Mirumoto Taoist Swordsman: Iron skin, grapples, and swordplay.
Togashi ise zumi: Magical tattoos, monk training.
            Hoshi tsurui zumi (focus), Kikage zumi Madman (force)
Agasha Shugenja: Fire element, alchemy, and cyphers.
            Agasha Warrior-Priest (melee)
Dragon Monks: The Dragon also has many non ise zumi monks (see Monks, below)

Akodo Bushi: Accuracy, targeted attack, and persistence.
            Deathseekers (honor for damage), Lion Warden (bonus vs. mounted), Akodo Scout (read aspects)
Akodo Tactician: Strategy, leadership, and tactics.
Akodo War College: Timing, leadership, and lend support.
Ikoma “Omoidasu” Bard: Performance, inspiration, and tale telling.
            Ikoma Herald (Combat perception)
Ikoma Spymaster: Spot weakness, persuasion, and uncover secrets.
Ikoma Brawler: Fearsome, exploit weakness, and resist pain.
Matsu Berserker: Terrorize, fury, and fearless.
            Lioness Legion (traps and feints), Matsu Duelist (dueling)
Kitsu “Sodan-Senzo” Shugenja: Water element, sense ancestors, and read spirits.
            Bishamon’s Chosen (strength)

Yoritomo Bushi: Peasant weapons, balance, two weapons, and mighty blow.
Yoritomo Scoundrel (evade dishonor), Kobune Pilot (environmental advantage), Whirlwind Duelist (advantage vs. armor)
Yoritomo Shugenja: Water element, self-sacrifice, and toughness.
            Mantis Navigator (weather), Storm Acolyte (air and water)
Yoritomo Courtier: Commerce, intimidation, and appraisal.
            Yoritomo Emissary (negotiation)
Moshi Yamabushi: Fire kihos, martial arts, and recklessness.
Moshi Shugenja: Fire element, speed, and ritual.
Tsuruchi Bushi: Archery, hunting, and keeping in motion.
Tsuruchi Magistrate/Bounty Hunter: Perception, maintain focus, and cunning.

Shiba Bushi: Accuracy, spell awareness, and timing.
            Shiba Iaijutsu Duelist (iaijutsu), Shiba Naginata Duelist (weapon specialty)
Shiba Yojimbo: Protection, loyalty, and resistance.
Shiba Artisans: Artistry, allies, and inspiration.
Asako Courtier: Human perception, instill doubts, and strong will.
Isawa Shugenja: All elements, magical talent, and spell research.

Bayushi Courtier: Use flaws, read weaknesses, and slander foe.
            Bayushi Defiler (undermine repute)
Bayushi Bushi: Disarming, gain advantage, and swiftness.
            Bitter Lies Swordsman (sacrifice for repull), Bayushi Defender (seize initiative)
Shosuro “Butei” Actor: Sincerity, surprise strike, and assume identities.
Yogo Shugenja: Air Element, barriers, and wards.
            Shadow Hunter (surprise attack), Kuroiban (strike Shadowlands)
Soshi Shugenja: Air element, illusions, and spell trickery.
            Soshi Duelist (hide intentions)
Soshi Magistrate: Intimidation, crippling, and ruthlessness.

Shinjo Bushi: Mounted combat, defensive fighting, and riding.
            Iuchi Scout (recon), Horsebowman (archery)
Shinjo Scout: Stealth, sprinting, and knowing the land.
Ide Emissary: Know customs, memorize, and sense shifts.
Ide Duelist: Dueling, calmness, and traditions.
Moto Bushi: Offense, resilience, and sense Shadowlands.
            Moto Acrobat (Acrobatics)
Otaku Battle Maiden: Mounted combat, resist damage, and speed.
Otaku Infantry: Weapon variety, running, and whirlwind strike.
Unicorn Baraunghar Ghost Guard: Water element, riding, and archery
Iuchi Shugenja: Water element, cast without scrolls, and craft talismans.
            Iuchi Traveler (rapid transport)
Horiuchi Shugenja: Earth element, wilderness training, cast without scrolls, and survival.

Badger- Ichiro Bushi: Take punishment, strength, and find weak spot.
Dragonfly- Tonbo Shugenja: Water element and movement specialty.
Falcon- Toritaka Bushi: Sense spirits, awareness, and survival.
Falcon- Toritaka Reiryoshi “Spirit-Hunter”: Strike spirits, fight evil, and resist corruption.
Fox- Kitsune Shugenja: Earth element and defense specialty.
Fox- Kitsune Tracker: Stealth, woodcraft, and tracking.
Hare- Usagi Bushi: Leaping, striking, and movement.
Sparrow- Suzume Bushi: Patience, lore, and challenge honor.
Sparrow- Suzume Negotiator: Avoidance, etiquette, and resist technique.
Tortoise- Hyobe Bushi: Disarm, resistance, and play the fool.
Tortoise- Hyobe Someisan “Riddler”: Take on role, maintain honor, and copycat.

These can come from any clan, although some have a stronger focus than others. The Brotherhood of Shinsei accepts all. The first two listed here use kiho, which are elemental activated powers. The third is purely physical.
Inkyo “Enlightened Monk”: Shintao, kiho element specialty, and meditation.
Wandering Monk: Pleasant interactions, kiho, and concentration.
Sohei Warrior-Monk: Martial arts, physical feats, and endurance.

In this case, the PC has been a ronin who has just been elevated to retainer status.
Ronin Bushi: Fighting, survival, and wounds.
Fifth Wind Ronin: Battle, clear vision, and tactics.
Ronin Shugenja: Choice of element, peasant connections, and undisciplined magic.
Ronin Courtier: Seduction, corruption, and fascinate.
Ronin “Master of Games” Courtier: Assess odds, entertain, and manage organization. 

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