For today, at the request of one of the players, we have another bushi school for Legend of the Five Rings; the Chikao Ronin Commander School. As usual, this is a fairly high-powered school, focusing in on a couple of specialities to squeeze a reasonable level of efficiency out of the school design rules. Given that the game has been going on for almost a hundred sessions, and the school will be competing with many others, that’s pretty much a necessity at this point.
There is plenty of unclaimed land in and about Rokugan. Land too marginal, distant, restricted, isolated, or ill-omened to support the infrastructure of a clan – or of proper defenses and enforcement of the law. There are rocky mountain valleys, drier spots in swamps, wetter spots on the borders of deserts, and islands too small to support more than a few people.
But people will go there. Casualties are high, yields are poor, and the margin of survival is small – but there are tiny settlements, farms, and hamlets which lie outside the lands of the clans and which may not see a representative of the empire in ten generations.
And even a village or two which cannot possibly pay clan or imperial taxes can often support a few Ronin to handle local problems.
Some such dream of better things – of uniting a dozen or so villages, of improving the area until a reasonable level of prosperity is reached, and of – perhaps – eventually becoming a local power or even founding their own minor clan.
Chikao, a particularly ambitious and talented Ronin, recognized that – if he wished to build up such a local base – he would need to turn his hand to a multitude of tasks; directing the farmers, designing defenses, dealing with neighbors, and more. Still, if all things were one, than to master one was to master all. He set to work generalizing and expanding the techniques of the Ronin Duelist school, and eventually developed his own school – the Chikao Ronin Commander School.
In many ways this school is a scholar-adventurer’s school; it includes enough of a boost to the user’s social skills to let the user get along in minor courts, some bonus dice that can be turned to nearly any required task given a chance to study it first, basic combat skills, and even – in the last two ranks – some techniques which offer a good chance at defeating individual spells, barriers, and supernatural opponents. You won’t be able to hack your way through a small horde of opponents like a dedicated swordsman, make the kind of shots a dedicated archer can, invoke the aid of spirits, or match any other specialist however.
Chikao Ronin Commander School
Benefit: +1 Agility
School Skills: Battle, Bow, Courtier, Defense, Etiquette, Sword, and a choice of any four additional skills.
First Technique/The Eye of the Winds Swift Wisdom: Gain SR Free raises with Battle, Courtier, and Etiquette Checks (10), add twice your Agility to your Initiative (5), and you may roll and keep an extra die when making skill or attribute checks dealing with a situation or opponent that you have throughly studied. In combat this usually requires one round, in social, battle, or when dealing with larger-scale situations, one hour. The user may only keep track of a total of (Intelligence + 2) specific situations and/or opponents at a time (bonus die in a uncommon situation, 6).
Second Technique/The Eye Penetrates the Depths: You may now gain up to +3 bonus dice after studying an opponent or situation, although this requires one round or hour per bonus die (12, +1 for the excess point on the level one technique), gain +1 attack when attacking any opponent you get one or more bonus dice against (5). (The remaining 2 available points go towards paying for the level three technique).
Third Technique/The Mountain-Penetrating Eye: You now get +1 Attack (10) and may gain up to +5 bonus dice after studying an opponent or situation (12).
Fourth Technique/The Eye of the Shinigami: You may study an opponent of equal or lesser rank (or an unranked one) for a number of rounds equal to it’s lowest ring: after which you may make a single attack. If the attack is successful, you may make an opposed Void Check. If you win, the opponent is immediately reduced to the “Down” wound level or slain at your option (15). You may also add (2x Void) to opposed Void Checks (5).
Fifth Technique/The Eye of the Void: You may spend a void point to bypass the usual study time required to use school techniques (Immunity requiring void point expenditure, 5) and/or to use the level four technique against a spell, object, or structure; if the strike succeeds, you may make an opposed void check against the spellcaster, object creator, or designer of the structure to break a spell, destroy an object, or breach a structure (5). You may also trade in one or more of your additional attacks in a round for +5 free raises each when making an attack using your level four technique (10).
Now, one thing this school is very good for is a dedicated assassins school: a high-rank practitioner with a good void ring stands a fair chance at taking out almost any single target that he or she can get close enough to as long as they strike first. Still, anyone who wants to be highly competent in a wide variety of roles, wants to go adventuring on their own, or who’s job is to back up other people, could do a great deal worse.