Here we have another specialist school for Legend of the Five Rings – in this case, an artistically-focused school from the Sparrow Clan. For the purposes of the Sparrow, however, it is a very, very, practical school indeed. The etiquette of Rokugan requires the constant giving of presents, and the meager lands of the Sparrow Clan can barely feed their people. To the Sparrow, a school which focuses on turning simple paper and ink into acceptable gifts, on creating and maintaining their own gear with simple tools and basic facilities, and thus provides them with something to trade, is quite invaluable.
The Sparrow Clan has carried on the artistic tradition of the Crane Clan, with an austere focus on the inexpensive arts of paper, ink, and paint and the practical art of making their own equipment. Within those narrow foci, the monk-like contemplation of the Sparrow Clan Calligraphy School yields it’s own quiet rewards.
The Sparrow Clan (Courtier) Calligraphy School
Benefits: +1 Void, Glory 0, Status .5, Wealth 0, Honor 3.5
School Skills: Ceremony, Courtier, Craft (select Armorsmith, Bowyer, or Weaponsmith), Defense, Etiquette, Hunting, Investigation, Meditation, Sword, choice of Instruction or Storytelling, any one Lore skill, and any one High or Bugei skill.
First Technique/The Master of the Brush: Studying the secrets of paper, ink, and paint as closely as a a duelist studies the secrets of the blade may be the quieter path, but – as is the nature of the Tao – it is no less deep. The quiet insights of the student of the brush are of value in many fields. The user gains +5K0 to all artistic skills (Artisan and Calligraphy) involving paper, ink, or paint (Bonus Dice, 5) and all such skills are considered Skilled and are treated as School Skills (+5). In addition, the user gains a daily pool of free raises equal to his or her Meditation skill rank for use with his or her school skills (10).
Second Technique/The Moment of Illumination: The many lessons of the past shape and inform the work of the hands which record them, providing guidance which extends well beyond mere writing. Recalling those lessons, and following in the traditions of the ancestors, lends excellence in all endeavors. Double the Style bonuses for the Calligraphy Skill (5) and, when the user spends a void point to enhance a school skill roll, he or she gains +(Void)K(Void) rather than +1K1 (15).
Third Technique/The Koan of Perfection: To achieve perfection by adding to something already flawed, or by training, or by magic is nearly impossible. All such things are flawed, and to expand upon them is almost always to expand upon their flaws. The simple curve, the blank sheet, the freshly-dipped brush – all are perfect in themselves. To remain close to the perfection of simplicity, do only what is necessary, use only the tools you must, then do no more. The user may spend a void point to add his or her Void Ring to any other trait or ring for five minutes or for any one roll (10) and gains Immunity to the need to know or be able to cast a spell to effectively copy an existing spell scroll (5) and to the need for special facilities and expensive supplies to produce items of above average quality (5).
Only a few, highly-talented, individuals ever progress to the fourth technique of this school – and there is no known fifth technique
Fourth Technique/The Secret of the Fold: The Master Calligraphers insight into his materials is such that he or she may now briefly stir the spirits of paper, ink, and paint from their slumbers – producing remarkable feats of skill (gain [School Rank] free raises with all artistic skills [usually Artisan and Calligraphy] involving paper, ink, or paint) and gaining access to one branch (either painting or origami*) of art-based magic (10).
*Sufficiently skilled origami artists normally pick up Conjures III and Bind Conjure V, allowing them to create paper talismans which can transform into real items for a time – albeit only once.
Yes, there’s a note about “atmospheric conditions” in the Sparrow lands which cause paper to fall apart rapidly. Since there’s no mention of any actual effect this has in the game, nor of what sort of “atmospheric conditions” that destroy paper prevail in a small patch of mountains without also affecting the surrounding Crane and Crab territories, the Tales of the Sunrise campaign ignores that bit. Most likely this is just a way of saying it rains a lot and is very humid there (although that would also affect leather, metal, and most other materials). That can be managed.
Ok, this school can provide a reasonably useful boost to a few courtier or etiquette checks. It’s principally useful, however, in creating items, scrolls, and artworks of extremely high quality. That can be quite useful of course – such items make impressive gifts – but it’s relatively rare for a player-character to take this particular school.