Shigure’s Goals

   For today, it’s some quick notes on Shigure’s current political plans – or at least his goals. He’s still keeping his own counsel on how he expects to accomplish most of them.

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Shigure’s Current Projects Include:

  • Trying to convince the Crane to send a thousand or so soldiers to reinforce the Crab at the Wall – preferably as a mobile rapid-reaction force.
  • Talk to the lion (particularly the Matsu) in an attempte to try and find out thir intentions and what they’re up to.
  • Support a limited mercenary alliance with Merenea and support the Mantis taking on the role of a sea-zone buffer between Rokugan and the Gaijin – so that they can profit from an exclusive overseas trading monopoly.
  • Finding a way to get in touch with the Unicorn. Their goals, and anger, are quite understandable, but their current course is going to be an utter disaster for everyone.
  • Finding a way to either strike an alliance with the Wasp or to at leat let them know that they’re welcome to switch sides at any time without prejudice. I understand that they can’t afford to antagonize any of their more powerful neighbors at the moment. Ergo, any meetings will have to be strictly secret.

Cancellation

   Unfortunately, I have to pick up a relative at the airport this evening at 9:00. The regular champions session this evening will thus have to be cancelled. Most of the regular players should have been notified already, but this will hopefully reach any remainder.

More Rokugan Court Events

   For today, here’s the second section of the Rokugan Court Events listing. This isn’t complete of course, but it should prove sufficient for when you need to come up with something quickly.

   (5) Mental Competitions tend to be less serious than physical ones – at least to start with. In Rokugan, care must still be taken to keep the situation under control. Scholars and Courtiers are usually less touchy than Bushi, but once egos come into play you may still wind up with duels being fought over trivia.

  • (1) Antique Evaluation and Forgery Detection / Aphorisms of Bushido
  • (2) “Clue” (Investigating) / Tabletop Games (Go, Shogi, Battletech, Mahjong, etc)
  • (3) Criticism / Debates
  • (4) Essay Writing / Forgery Detection
  • (5) Heraldry Recognition / Koans
  • (6) Logic, Math, and Mechanical Puzzles / Meditation / Ninja Spotting (or at least spotting hidden things)
  • (7) Public Speaking / Puzzles (Logic, Mechanical, Mathematical)
  • (8) Reflections on the Tao / Riddles and Obscure Lore
  • (9) Scavenger Hunt / Situational Puzzles (Of Bushido, Honor, and Duty)
  • (10) Spirit Sensing / Theology

   (6) Tales, Lectures, and Classes differ principally in the depth in which they cover their material. Tales are informal, although occasionally enlightening, expositions. Lectures attempt to cover some topic in useful depth, and usually come in strings of a week or two. Classes are more elaborate, usually last at least a month, and provide useful instruction under the usual rules. Tales and Lectures are fairly easy to arrange, although care must be taken to avoid finding a boring, offensive, or simply ignorant speaker. Classes are a bit harder: you actually need someone who really knows the subject and how to teach it. They also tend to attract less interest than lectures and tales since they require a much greater commitment to get anything out of.

  • (1) Alchemy / Ancestors / Antidotes and Toxins
  • (2) Architecture and Engineering / Astronomy / Battle Tactics
  • (3) Botany / Bushido / Crafts (Various) or (Clan) Studies
  • (4) Divination and Omens / Economics / Folktales
  • (5) Geography and Cartography / Ghosts and Spirits / Herbology
  • (6) Heraldry / History / Law
  • (7) Linguistics / Logic / Magical Lore
  • (8) Mechanics / Music / Naga Lore
  • (9) Gaijin, Naga, Nezumi and other obscure Studies / Physics / Planar Studies
  • (10) Superstitions / Theology / Zoology

   (7) Physical Competitions are pretty straightforward – and, unlike most other competitions in Rokugan, are relatively safe. It’s pretty rare for a Samurai to want to challenge all the witnesses to dispute the outcome of lifting weights or horse racing.

  • (1) Archery / Boat Racing
  • (2) Dog Racing / Dressage
  • (3) Fishing / Foot Races
  • (4) Hang Gliding / Horse Races
  • (5) Horse Riding / Hide-and-Seek
  • (6) Kemari and other Ball Games / Kite Flying
  • (7) Orienteering / Siegecraft and Weapons
  • (8) Sledding or Skiing / Sumo Wrestling
  • (9) Swimming / Swordsmanship
  • (10) Weight Lifting and Unarmed Combat / Wrestling

   (8) General Events are simply the activities that fill days when nothing else is going on. For the most part, except for fireworks, they’re not particularly expensive or difficult to arrange.

  • (1) Adornment (Exotic Costumes, Face Painting, Costume/Role-Playing Parties)
  • (2) Animal (Bird, Butterfly, Insect, etc) (Breeding, Training, Watching, Exhibitions, Fights, Collecting)
  • (3) Bingo / Raffles / Carnival Games
  • (4) Formal Dinners / General Parties
  • (5) Fireworks / Magical Presentations / Fortune Telling
  • (6) Hunting (Bandits, Hawking, Monsters)
  • (7) Receptions and General Gatherings (Basically simply spending the day negotiating)
  • (8) Seasonal Events (Snow and Ice Sculpting, Firefly Catching,
  • (9) Tea Ceremonies / Food and Wine-Tasting
  • (10) Viewing (Dawn, Flowers, Storms, Sunset)

   (9) Combat Events are relatively common as tournaments, but – at least hopefully – are uncommon when it comes to serious fights. Nevertheless, the Samurai are a warrior caste, and such events are always popular.

  • (1-2) Duels: Swordsmanship is THE classic, but virtually any other weapon will do.
  • (3) Grand Melee: Basically a battle, albeit one normally limited to using bokken and other less dangerous substitutes for the usual deadly weapons.
  • (4) Magical Battles: These are always popular if they can be arranged. This includes attempts to get Monks to show off their abilities, but that’s almost as rare as the Shugenja showing off theirs.
  • (5) Open Battle: A tournament where anyone is allowed to compete, including Peasants, who may thus gain status as Ashigaru.
  • (6) Peasant Battles are essentially simply training exercises for the Ashigaru, but do allow the aspiring generals and commanders to show off their skills – although they’re usually forbidden to use any weapons personally.
  • (7) Siege Exercises include competitions with siege weapons, ladder-climbing, storming walls, and similar events. This sort of thing is rare, if only because it’s very expensive to arrange.
  • (8) Smashing: This is basically a game of showing off how well you can destroy inanimate objects – cutting through old helmets or irreparable armor, smashing walls with heavy weapons, breaking boards with your bare hands, and so on. As an alternative, there are occasional exhibitions of fine control, such as cutting stone, pottery, or trees without leaving any sign of damage until the object begins to slide apart.
  • (9-10) Unarmed Combat. This includes all the classic forms – karate, ju-jitsu, and many more. It’s quite popular, and a lot less lethal than even most blunted weapons. This category also includes exotic stealth-combat, evasive, and similar techniques.

   (10) Festivals are often local, and are extremely common. Oddly enough, while every area has some regular festivals, there are plenty which are – thanks to omens, odd traditions, and rare triggering events – only occasionally celebrated. Secondarily, if you want to have a festival, some priest somewhere in the city will almost certainly be able to think of one if you can just supply the necessary resources to hold it. Exactly what a Festival is celebrating usually sets the tone, but processions, music, foodstuffs, and people running around in strange costumes can usually be assumed.

  • (1) Activities (Kite Flying, War, Farming, Jadeworking, Smithing, Teaching, Walking, Commerce, Charcoal-Burning, Woodworking).
  • (2) Animal (Shapeshifters, Rat, Dog, Horse, Stag, Fox, Bull, Sparrow, Nightingale, Carp, Phoenix, Ki-Rin, Nezumi, Naga, Goblin, Giant Monsters of Legend, etc, etc, etc…).
  • (3) Carnival (General, Fools Day (when convention-breaking is allowable), Dancing, Beer / Sake).
  • (4) Celestial Kami (Sun, Moon, Dragons or Elements, Founding Kami, Ryoshun, Star or Stars, Constellation/Zodiac).
  • (5) Children (Boys, Girls, In General, Coming of Age, Childbirth, Sex).
  • (6) Harvest, Fertility or Resources (Thanksgiving, Various Foods and Drinks (Buns, Noodles, Rice, Sake, Etc), Fertility, Jade, Bamboo, Iron, Silk).
  • (7) Holy (Blessings, Dragon Boat Races, Purification, Forgiveness of Debts, Luck, Day of the Dead, Gates, Shrine Dedications).
  • (8) Local Spirits (Ancestors (specific or general, often the founders of something, such as the local Clan), Processions, Rivers, Forests, Hills and Mountains, Groves, Specific Kami).
  • (9) Natural Beauties and Events (Butterflies, Flowers (Plum, Cherry, Lotus, Etc), Sunset, Dawn, Night Sky, Waterfall, Snow, Rain, Songbirds, Cloud, Changing Seasons, Solstices and Equinoxes, Trees, Clear Sky)
  • (10) Traditions (Day of Thunder or Seven Thunders, Imperial Birthday, New Years, Forfending Rituals (versus Disease, Fu Leng, Taint, Monsters, and other Horrors), Bad Omens, Honoring the Creation, Floating Lanterns, Winter Bathing, Naked (Loincloth) day, Dolls, Bean Throwing, Celebration of some Victory, Sunbathing, the Laying of some terrible local spirit or ghost)

   The first section of this list (categories 1-4) is Here.

   The L5R Index Tab is Here. (For more recent entries between index updates use the Home tab).

Rokugan Court Events

   The Cities and Courts of Rokugan tend to have quite a lot of events going on. While most of them serve more as excuses to meet people without appearing to be looking for them in particular and backdrops for deal-making, you never know when something is going to be useful, informative, or somehow wind up involving the characters more than superficially. Here, therefore, is a table of common events. The first four categories are going up today, I’ll see if I can’t get the remaining categories up tomorrow.

   (1) Readings and Presentations are always popular – and can easily be scheduled virtually every day. All you need is a comfortable room, a few servants to serve tea, someone literate with a good voice, and a book. What kind of readings will it be today?

  • (1) Cautionary Tales: Stories of great failures, embarrassments, defeats, acts of foolishness, and other disasters.
  • (2) Current and Original Works: There are always new authors and personal works. Will these be any good? Only one way to find out.
  • (3) Duties to the Empire: Tales of Duty, Obligation, and Sacrifice.
  • (4) Glorious Exploits: Tales of ordinary heroism, great victories, and exploits that bring lasting fame.
  • (5) The Histories of Rokugan: Tales of the founding and later years.
  • (6) Just So Stories: Tales of how things became as they are – the origins of plants and animals, customs, and other things, including pre-imperial tales.
  • (7) Military Writings: Campaigns, Battles, Tactics, and Strategy.
  • (8) Popular Tales: Famous fictional narratives, peasant tales, and other amusements.
  • (9) Tales of Gods and Heroes: Mythical figures facing larger-than-life situations.
  • (10) The Tao of Shinsei: Incomprehensible, and thus filled with all meaning.

   (2) Theater and Music events are usually presented by formal troupes, but are occasionally presented by the amusement-seekers themselves. The most common forms include:

  • (1) Concerts: Formal musical presentations by large groups of performers.
  • (2) Dinner Music: Informal musical presentations by individual artists or small groups. Often a backdrop for other events.
  • (3) Famous Artists: Presentations by individual famous or aspiring artists.
  • (4) Famous Orations: Presentations of great speeches from the past.
  • (5) Formal / Noh and Kyogen: Highly stylized plays with amusing interludes.
  • (6) Kabuki: Energetic, “modern”, plays with intense action and plenty of excitement and commentery
  • (7) Historical Re-enactments:
  • (8) Informal: Also known as “Performance Art”. Includes jesters, political commentators, skits, large-scale role-playing events, and acts intended to involve the audience.
  • (9) Improvisations: Displays of an actors or musicians virtuosity and ability to work off-the-cuff.
  • (10) Puppet Shows: These can be quite elaborate and involve numerous puppeteers.

   (3) Competitions and Exhibitions take a little more arranging, but can keep a court busy for a several days. Competitions, of course, are usually between members of the court. Exhibitions are presented by others – whether to show off local accomplishments, as a part of a tour, or imported by the guests as a favor to their hosts. In general, something like this should turn up at least once a week… Given that these vary a lot in frequency, they’re listed in groups. Just pick something appropriate.

  • (1) Acrobatics / Bonsai Training / Brushwork
  • (2) Calligraphy / Clock Making / Cooking
  • (3) Costume or Mask Making / Crafts (this is often a disguised promotion for trade deals) / Dance
  • (4) Directing / Exotic Techniques / Featherwork
  • (5) Flower-Arranging / Gardening / Glassblowing
  • (6) Ivory Carving / Magic / Origami
  • (7) Painting / Pet Tricks and Animal Training / Play Writing and Directing
  • (8) Poetry Composition (whether fast, on particular subjects) / Pottery / Sculpting
  • (9) Singing / Storytelling / Summarizing Great Works
  • (10) Swordsmithing and Sword Techniques / Unarmed Techniques / Wood Carving and Crafting

   (4) Awards and Honors tend to be events of opportunity: when something comes up, so does such an event – however a lot of courts schedule special days for such things once or twice a year.

  • (1) Adulthood/Gempukku: Coming-of-age ceremonies tend to involve minor contests, gifts, and quite a lot of pleasantries.
  • (2) Alliances and Agreements: Always a cause for a celebration and formal announcement,
  • (3) Childbirth: OK, this happens all the time – but since everyone makes a fuss over it anyway, you might as well set aside the occasional day to celebrate it.
  • (4) Formal Departure: Whenever someone important leaves.
  • (5) Formal Reception or Recognition: When someone is formally presented to the rest of the court.
  • (6) Funeral: Does this need an explanation?
  • (7) Marriage or Proposal: Or this?
  • (8) Notable Visit: Some great Artist, Holy Man, Imperial Representative, or other notable figure has dropped by, and it will – of course- be an occasion.
  • (9) Promotions: There are always people who have done well to be promoted, awarded fiefs, assigned to better duties, or given more important responsibilities. There are always people to disciplined as well, but there’s no reason to make a public event out of that.
  • (10) Retirement: Someone important is leaving to become a monk, live quietly in their old age, or otherwise take their leave of public life.

   The second section of the list (categories 6-10) is Here.

   The L5R Index Page is Here (to check more recent items use the “Home” tab. The Indexing is usually a few weeks behind).

Ilarion Drake, Young Celestial Dragon

   For today it’s the character sheet for Ilarion Drake, a young Celestial Dragon in the current Champions Campaign.  Ilarion is currently helping out with the Bane Mummies – and incidently helping to establish a precedent for further social events among the other members of the Dragon Circle. None of them have ever actually spent much of any time together as a group before.

Archetypes IV

   For today we have a few more Archetypes for Eclipse: The Codex Persona.

   The Fortunate Scion enjoys numerous unearned benefits – powerful connections, good fortune, and the sympathies of many, yet feels that his life is dark and tragic. Unfamiliar with the realities of life, the Fortunate Scion assumes that any setback is worthy of drama and angst and that he should always be the center of attention. If his life is short of tragedies to moan about, he will edit them into his memories himself. He is young and naive and will inflict his tale of woe upon anyone else unwise enough to stand nearby.Multiple Contacts (Multiply points invested in contacts by (Cha Mod + 1), 6 CP):

  • Luck with +4 Bonus Uses: Corrupted: use must be specified in advance of rolling (8 CP).
  • Augmented Bonus/Add Int Mod to all Social Skill Checks (6 CP).
  • +4 CP spent on Contacts. Most of these will go to buying high-powered ones.

   The Merchant is richly dressed and wears a heavy golden chain. He carries a pouch, a writing kit, and a hidden purse. He enjoys the finer things in life and has a large appetite for them. The Merchant knows that everything has its price. If he is kind, he does not exploit it and treats his servants well. If not, he exploits everyone around him without mercy. He resents taxes and tariffs, and will evade them if he can.

  • Occult Sense/Business Opportunities (6 CP): The Merchant has an amazing nose for wealth, and is able to find ways to make money in the most unlikely of places.
  • Occult Sense/Bad Deals (Corrupted: The Merchant must study the deal for several minutes for this to work, 4 CP): As greedy as he is, the Merchant is ever-alert for attempts to strip him of his gains.
  • Lore/Bardic (Corrupted: the Merchant must have either gotten a recent report or have time to consult his Spy Network to use this ability, 4 CP): The Merchant has many informers. A few coins spread in the right places may ensure a priceless harvest of information.
  • Privilege/Wealth (3 CP): The Merchant has many resources, and is almost impossible to strip of funds. There is always another cache somewhere.
  • Innate Enchantment (Specialized: provides the equivalent of the “Handy Haversack” effect only, 3 CP): The Merchant can conceal an amazing assortment of items about himself, smuggling them through the most intensive searches.
  • Major Favors/Merchant House (6 CP): The Merchant is always associated with a guild or house, and sticks with them closely.
  • Enthusiast (Specialized in Skills, Corrupted for Languages Only, 1 CP): A true Merchant will never miss a deal for lack of linguistic skills. A greedy tongue is a limber tongue, and any Merchant will soon pick up enough of a new language to negotiate with.

   The Seducer is dressed in expensive clothing, loose and comfortable, but both his clothing and his hair are charmingly disheveled. He is jealous and possessive, seeking to bend others to his whim. He has little true regard for them. He borrows money and does not repay it. Beneath his charm there is an air of danger about him – an edge of arrogance, entitlement, and lurking violence.

  • Innate Enchantment (L1 cast at L1; 6 CP): Expressive Gesture (L0, expresses up to 40 words as clearly as speech at short range with a look, gesture, or posture), Charm Person, +2 Charisma, +3 Competence Bonus on Charisma-Based Skills).
  • Augmented Bonus/Add Int Mod to Chr Mod when using Cha-Based skills (6 CP).
  • Double Enthusiast with Adaption (Specialized in Favors, Corrupted: specific individuals only, each such individual can only be called on once, triple effect (6 CP): The Seducer can find a way to get almost anyone to do him a major favor – whether it’s blackmail, a clever tongue, or true seduction – but must spend at least ten minutes or so with a given individual to establish this bond and can only maintain a limited number (3 + Cha Mod) such individuals “on the line” at a time.
  • Immunity/Being Located (Very Common/Minor/Major, Specialized: Only works as long as the Seducer is spending virtually all his time with paramours and sponging off of them (6 CP).

   The Stoic has a duty, and will follow it to the gates of death and beyond. He is marked by his trade, enduring its callouses, stains, and hazards unflinchingly, despite the sings of those stresses etched onto his frame. His clothing and hands are worn, his frame and muscles solid, and his skin scarred and unwashed. He does not protest what is laid upon him, but accepts it unflinchingly, knowing that he can endure his burdens onto death and beyond.

  • Tireless (6 CP):
  • Inherent Spell/Oath of Endurance (a.k.a Malediction) (Specialized: Only usable on Himself, Corrupted: Only intervenes seven times, L9 Base Effect: The Stoic may swear to complete a specified immediate task, such as holding a bridge, keeping a ship on course through a hurricane, or completing a ritual, so long as the task will take a month or less to complete. For the duration the Stoic will need no food, drink, or sleep and will be assisted by a level four or less spell effect of the GM’s choice up to seven times – although the Oath will cheerfully bring the character back as an undead and bind him to the task until it is completed and he can fall to dust as the final spell if that should seem required, 6 CP) (Note that a Stoic can only be sworn to a single task at a time, the oath will keep him or her at it if it has to use those spell effects to compel him or her, and it will be at least 24 hours after the last oath before another can be sworn, even if the task is completed before then): The stoic is known for grasping the leg of his enemy despite his spilled intestines, for standing sleepless for a week, and for holding the invaders at the gates while everyone else escapes despite terrible wounds. How better for a man to die than facing fearful odds, for the ashes of his fathers and the temples of his gods!
  • Travel/Chosen Terrain (3 CP), with Mount/Vehicle (3 CP), and choice of either Fast (6 CP) or two additional Types of Terrain (6 CP): The Stoic has traveled far in the pursuit of his duty, and will travel more widely yet. Whether it be infantry marches, sailing vessels, or starships, his unfailing attention to his task will complete the Journey with great efficiency.

Musings on the Clans

   First up for today, we have Ninsei’s musings on the current situation with the clans in the Legend of the Five Rings campaign.

   The Crab: Diverting troops from the wall is a potential disaster. Even if the Scorpion clan push is readily contained, the diversion could let the forces of the Shadowlands swarm across the border – and there’s no point in containing a potential second or third front if the major one collapses behind you. The Crab need to be made to understand that defending from a probable incursion from the Shadowlands takes precedence over putting other clans in their place – and that they must hold the wall while the Imperial forces deal with the infiltrators. The other Clans should, indeed, provide more willing support for their efforts at the wall, rather than using those needs as diplomatic leverage. Has there been any word from the Nezumi scouts in the Shadowlands? Have they been formally introduced to the Naga either?

   The Crane: The time has come accept that diplomacy will only go so far. The Crane need to start pulling in all those favors, use the various items we’ve accumulated for blackmail, and try to minimize our enemies and maximize our allies. Even if the best they can do is to get a group to sit it out rather than joining the Scorpion, that’s still a notable victory. Would a little humility – some acknowledgment that their ability to manipulate society has limits and that they need other assistance – really be a mortal humiliation? We’ll need to emphasize the prophecies on this one.

   The Dragon: If they sit this out, fine. We would much rather they joined us, even if not militarily. Pledging support for them in resisting the Yodatai incursions – they may not be a real problem yet, but they must realize that they’re going to get worse – might help if we have the manpower. Barring that, supplies and cash would undoubtedly help relations. Once again, we need to emphasize that the prophecies are occurring NOW and try to finger the Scorpion in this.

   The Lion: I think that pushing the idea that their promises to the Imperial house and the empire in general supercede those made to clans or individuals in this case might be worthwhile. With such a conflict brewing we cannot afford to have one of the biggest military powers of the empire sitting on the fence. The 12th scroll worries me – and we should keep an eye out for any rumors – but there are bigger issues at the moment. We need to make a considerable point of Toshi Ranbo’s neutral status and utility as a diplomatic meeting point – and that, while Ninsei is Crane, he certainly is unlike any Crane they’ve met.

   The Mantis: I suspect that supplies are going to be tight in all the fighting to come. The biggest use of the Mantis fleets should probably be blockades of enemy ports while working with Merenae to get the things we need. Fu Leng has the Shadowlands and Jigoku to draw on, trying to draw on sources outside of Rokugan ourselves seems like the only rational response. Opening up trade with the Gaijin may be distasteful, but necessary. Can the Emperor be persuaded to go against tradition to that extent? Even if that won’t work, the ability to rapidly transport troops and materials along the coast is a major strategic advantage. We must also consider the risk that other realms will try to make use of the chaos to set up trading empires. Perhaps the Mantis could be put in charge of preventing that?

   The Phoenix: Will just have to come to terms with the fact that the time has come when they can no longer be the sole keepers of arcane knowledge. This war will force us to let several of the proverbial cats out of the bag (sometimes literally). I foresee a gradual restructuring of the Phoenix from being sole keepers of various mystical secrets to a magical peacekeeping force to keep the other powerful mage from getting out of control. Trading the knowledge we have of gaijin magic and theories should prove enticing to them – perhaps enticing enough for them to throw themselves in with us wholeheartedly. at least politically and resource-wise. We also need to highlight how helpful the Shadowcats have already been and how much additional help they may be in the future. That should help with any shame they might feel over their existence.

   The Scorpion: The more dissent we can spread, the better. Trying to undermine the Champions power base is a top priority with emphasis on the attacks on the Yogo family as a wedge. I think that the honor inherent in working for the survival of the Empire and its people more than outweighs a bit of deception. Rumors, lies, fabricated evidence, real evidence, testimonies from Scorpions, whatever it takes to convince the clan of the tainted malevolence of their champion. You can hardly find a much bigrer personal dishonor than working with outsiders to bring down the empire. Evidence collection should be a high priority, barring that, testimony.

   The Unicorn: Yes, the existing system is flawed, that’s what ultimately led to this mess. On the other hand, the Unicorn must be convinced that throwing in with the Scorpion is not likely to help in the long run. In the end it will merely trade one xenophobic ruler for another a paranoid, xenophobic ruler. I suspect we may be facing the Yodatai as a third front all too soon – and if that happens we’re going to HAVE to have the Unicorn to hold them off or at least slow them down. Greater cooperation between the clans is necessary and through that, greater acceptance. Their knowledge of the gaijin would be of immense assistance to the Mantis I suspect.

   The Fox: Are a trump card I am hesitant to play. They seem to have quietly entwined themselves with the temples to the point where they have become virtually synonymous with the faith of the Empire and the Celestial Order – which is ironic, because they’re so closely related to the Fox spirits that they’re halfway outside the Celestial Order anyway. They would likely serve best as a strategic reserve and rear support group. We need to push the Imperial support bit in diplomacy and definitely hold banquets and such to improve ties to Toshi Ranbo and the Imperial house.

   The other minor clans apparently each control their own specialities or unique resources. We should put more stress in acting as hosts in Toshi Ranbo, look into what they have to offer, and try to create a truly united alliance. Together they could be a political counterweight to one or two of the major clans. Promoting trade and minor pacts should be a priority. Get them talking with each other and us.

   Now the Tortoise, Ladybug, Bat, Monkey, Goose, Otter, Porcupine, and Bull are pretty much Imperial auxiliaries anyway, although only the Tortoise actually have any significant forces.

   The Badger, Sparrow, Cat (don’t they have underworld connections all over the Empire? How can we make use of this?), Stag, and Bear seem to be firmly on the Imperial side. Of course, the Cat look likely to prosper no matter what happens. The underworld is never going to go away.

   The Hare are virtually surrounded by the Scorpion lands, so it’s difficult to blame them for being at least nominally allied with the Scorpion. Still, the Fox are within reach. They haven’t gotten along historically, but the Fox were already defying the Scorpion to chase them into Chikushudo anyway. They may not contribute much, but every little bit has to be made to count. We need to try to pull them into an alliance of the minor clans.

   The Wasp: I suppose a pact ensuring coming to their defense should the Scorpion attack them if they remain neutral is the way to go with this one – although Shigure seems to have some sort of scheme cooking involving them. If that falls through – or isn’t incompatible – pushing the minor clans alliance idea still might be worthwhile.

   The Falcon, Squirrel, Butterfly, Eel, Ox, Dog, Horse, Weasel, Rooster, and Panther Clans: OK, some of them might not be of much help, or are simply too isolated or scattered, far away, or tiny to respond quickly, but who knows what odd resources they may have stashed away? We need to send emissaries and to try to get their own emissaries to the court in Toshi Ranbo. Get them knowing we are thinking about them and wish to hear from them even if – like the Dog Clan and their plague-prevention assignment – we may not want to divert them (wait: they’re not just doctors, they’re plague-SEEKERS. Can they cause plagues as well as cure them? That would explain why no one ever seems to interfere with them).

   The Crow and Kaiju Clans: Perhaps the Voices-of-the-Dead and the Binders-of-Monsters-and-Natural-Disasters should simply be left alone. Their help might be almost as dangerous as their enmity.

   The Centipede: We should emphasize the importance of the Wall – and of NOT diverting troops away from it. Sending experts in fortifications to the other likely front lines is a good way to build up a working relationship with us and others.

   The Dragonfly: Well, they get the same basic strategy as Dragon with the twist of being a minor clan and so being a potential candidate to join the minor clan meeting/dinner/party.

   The Firefly: Ok, they’re too small to make a decent party of bodyguards. Still, Shigure recruited them – so we’d better make sure that they aren’t more assassins. Then look into pursuing building Shigure’s canal, getting a respectable port set up somewhere along their coasts, and working with the Mantis and other minor clans about setting up some trade routes.

   The Tiger: Their defense of the temples is good, but… Wait a moment; how closely allied with the Fox are they? They have a couple of representatives at court already (they simply sent them over from some of the local temples), so perhaps finding them funding for better temple defenses and a few new temples might be a good inducement for a formal alliance.

   The Elephant: Well, given the way the barriers between the dimensions are breaking down, and the way the Shadowcats are casually punching holes in them – not to mention the Fox and Kochige – the Elephant are probably a bit frantic at the moment. It may not be the best time to be approaching them, but it’s worth trying.

   The Temples: Well, supporting them, building new temples, and other practical considerations should help keep the superficially-religious groups firmly on our side. The really dedicated ones are pretty much with us automatically, but that shouldn’t make us take them for granted.

   The Imperial Family: I am keeping a wary eye on the Emperor and his guards. The heir to the throne is supposed to be possessed and we have yet to see who that might be, so we must prepare for all contingencies. In the meantime, think about how to broach the topic of pretending to assassinate him while acting as the decoy for the Emperor to ensnare the enemy with.