Demon Mirage Bushi School: +1 Willpower. Honor 1.5. School Skills: Acting, Athletics, Courtier, Deceit, Etiquette, Investigation, Knives, Stealth, Choice of Two (Defense and Swords).
The Demon Mirage school is actually an import from the Ivory Kingdoms, and thus was never especially widespread in the Empire. In fact, it’s nature swiftly led to its general extermination (save, perhaps, for a few secretive practitioners among the minor clans): it is barely tolerated – and taught only with the direct permission of the current Emperor – in the imperial service. What use some of the clans – or the enemies of the Empire – might make of it is horrifying to contemplate.
The Demon Mirage focuses on skill enhancements, knife-fighting, and the art of acting unseen – somehow diverting the blame (or credit) for actions ranging from malicious suggestions to blatant assassinations and other acts of war onto others. A true master may well be able to attend a banquet, stab a target to death in the full view of a hundred samurai, and still manage to leave the blood, the blame, and the ensuing war, on the hands of some innocent bystander. The only real defense is to have some practitioners of schools that teach enhanced perception techniques around – and even that is no guarantee.
First Technique/Dazzle on the Waters: Add +2x Willpower to all School Skills (10) and gain (SR) Free Raises on Athletics, Investigation, and Stealth skill checks (10).
Second Technique/The Shining Mist: Whenever someone makes a skill roll using Commerce, Courtier, or Investigation against you their target number is increased by 15 (9). Gain +1 Attack when using a knife (5), +1 Reflexes for Initiative Purposes (5), and +1K0 on Slight of Hand rolls related to Knives (1).
Third Technique/The First Mirage: Add +2x Void to all School Skills (10). If someone fails a contested Commerce, Courtier, or Investigation skill check against you, they won’t know it: you may either provide false information or simply ignore the attempt (10).
Fourth Technique/The Transparency of Crystal: You no longer need cover or shadows to use the Stealth skill to sneak and take no circumstantial penalties – such as for having lots of people around you, being under observation, or being in a well-lit area, when doing so (Immunity, 5). You gain +1 Attack (three total) (5) and +SR Free Raises for extra damage (only: +2K2 at rank SR4, +3K2 +3K2 at SR5) when using a knife (10).
Fifth Technique/The Master of Illusion: You are no longer automatically observed when interacting with others: you may make comments, launch ranged attacks, and even backstab people, and observers must make an Investigate/Notice check to spot you even if this would normally be automatic (Common Immunity, 10). You gain +1 Attack when using knives (four total) (5), and may throw small objects – pens, playing cards, chopsticks, small stones, etc – as if they were knives of average quality (5).
Overall, the Demon Mirage school is basically a generalist school: it lacks the specialized advantages of a dedicated courtier school, and has to focus on a single – and rather inferior – weapon to make it as a bushi school. On the other hand, it does let a master cover both roles with some success, keeps scaling with rank thanks to a double dose of adding traits to school skills, and the last couple of techniques offer an endless array of options for clever manipulators. It’s glaring weakness is it’s lack of non-social defenses: once someone spots a practitioner, his or her only real hope is to take them out before they can alert anyone else.