Legend of the Five Rings – Kasumi Neko, Cat Clan Samurai

English: Kyudo, Archery, Yumi, Bow. Main metho...

Yes, this is how...

The Cat Clan plays a very minor role in Rokugan; it’s tiny, obscure, has no major school of its own, and mostly operates under cover. Their general role is to appear as the mysterious shadowy figure who passes on some important information to the more active and combative types – such as most PC’s. They are, however, a favorite clan for one of our players (who, I suspect, has some anime prototype in mind) – so here’s another dual-knife-wielding slightly magical young woman of the cat clan – although this one is pursuing a seriously exotic archery school rather than the usual clan minor schools (found in the handouts or at the end of this character sheet.

Personally, Kasumi was a problem; talented enough for any five normal children, with more than a trace of magic, and a fascination with archery – and inclined to rely on those (admittedly remarkable) talents rather than on developing her skills properly. She wanted (and clearly needed) an Archery School – and the Cat Clan simply didn’t have one on tap.

Still, her father Togai Neko was owed a few favors from some VERY exotic folks… Gaijin contacts and schools were no longer quite so off-limits as they had been either – and it wasn’t as if the Cat Clan normally operated in full view in any case. When his daughter returned, she brought with her the basics of one of the powerful Yodatai Divine Bushi schools.

Currently Kasumi is out gaining some experience – attempting to expand trade, undercutting the Mantis, and supporting the Imperial families. She’s aware that the bow she made upon completing the basics of her training is hardly the best, but she’s still pleased to be able to say that it’s her own handiwork.

Obviously enough, this build relies very heavily indeed on special advantages – especially bonus dice. That’s less effective to start with, since advantages cost more than skills – but skills are easier to build up later.

Rings: Earth 2 (Stamina 2, Willpower 2), Water 2 (Strength 2, Perception 2), Fire 2 (Agility 2, Intelligence 2), Air 3 (Reflexes 4 (5), Awareness 3), Void 3.

Cat Clan Upbringing/+1 Reflexes

Disadvantages:

  • Bad luck with Wagers (Every Few Sessions, Great Aggravation, 3)
  • Owes occasional favors due to bad wagers (Every Few Sessions, Serious Trouble (4)
  • Likes to Gamble (Every other Session, Minor Difficulties, 3)

Well, that combination is pretty well guaranteed to get her into plenty of trouble.

Initial Experience Points: 60 (Base) + 10 (Disadvantages) = 70

  • 03) Access to an Exotic School
  • 15) School Package Deal / Hosfera Madrase (Old Yodatai Divine Bushi School)

Benefits: +1 Reflexes, Glory 2, Status 1, Wealth 1, Honor 3.0.

School Skills: Animal Handling, Athletics, Archery, Defense, Horsemanship, Hunting, Investigation, Meditation, Stealth, Swords, and two of choice (Etiquette and Courtier).

First Technique Summary: Add air ring to school skills, +1 attack with Bow, double effect of void spent to buy off damage, Get Hosfera as a patron spirit (Hosfera lets his devotees produce an average-quality bow and arrows whenever they need them and allows them to spend a void point to make one of the arrows they fire turn into an animal after it hits something. The user may then make an immediate target-15 meditation check to recover the void point. At the moment, Kasumi is limited to things like monkeys, bobcats, and wolves; this will improve with her void ring).

Second Technique Summary: The user may trade in one or more bow attacks during a round for +5 free raises per attack traded in on one of the remaining bow attacks and – when the character spends a void point on reducing damage – it will continue to reduce damage from each attack for a full minute.

  • 06) Additional Skills: Archery to 2 (2), Commerce (1), Deceit 1 (1), Knives 1 (1), and Lore/Underworld 1 (1).
  • 06) Bonus Dice/+1K0 and a free raise with all Low Skills.
  • 08) Bonus Dice/+1K0 and a free raise with all Weapons.
  • 06) Bonus Dice/+1K1 with Knives.
  • 06) Gift/+10 AC when being attacked while unarmored.
  • 09) Inherent Supernatural Powers/Three level one self-powered Inner Gifts.

Catfoot: Reduces damage from falls by ten points, the user places less stress on supports, such as thin ice or nightingale floors.

Sensitive: The user vaguely senses magical disturbances.

Suggestion: The user may make a thought occur to a nearby target – although this carries no more compulsion than a whisper in their ear.

  • 08) Natural Mastery: Magical Dabbler. May use first level air spells and starts off with the Sense, Commune, Summon, and Counterspell spells.
  • 03: Allies/Harumui Neko, Cat Clan Ancestor Spirit. Influence: 4 (provides 20 points worth of techniques), Devotion: Minor (0), Eccentricity: Ancestor Spirit (0), Inconvenience: Minor (asks for weekly prayers and small offerings, -1), for a net cost of (3). This is a modest slice of cheese of course – but a character who brings knives to a katana fight is going to need a bit of cheese to work well in the game.

Harumi Neko grants Immunity to Honor Losses due to using or raising Low Skills (5), and to the usual penalties for fighting with two knives (talent, 2), adds (2x Reflexes) to a limited set of skills from the Neko Schools when not wearing armor (Athletics, Courtier, Commerce, Deceit, Defense, Forgery, Hunting, Investigation, Knives, Lore/Underworld, Stealth, and Swords, 5), a +1 magical boost to any one trait (Reflexes, 3), and grants +10 AC when using two knives (5).

Heritage/Combating the Shadowlands: a century ago, Koin Neko – Kasumi’s Great-Great-Great grandfather – was tracing a smuggler who was importing Maho supplies and scrolls into the Empire. He’d traced the man to a small Crab Clan village near the Wall when his target caught on – and summoned a powerful oni and a few lesser creatures. Koin was a master archer, and eliminated the smuggler, and the great oni, before they could reach him – but the best he could do when the swarm of lesser oni closed in was to delay them while the villagers escaped. The local Crab Samurai did not reach the village in time to rescue Koin, but he’d left them with very little to do before he’d fallen. His descendants Gain +1 Rank of Archery, +10 on rolls to resist Fear effects from Shadowlands Creatures, and a free lunch whenever they stop by a certain Crab village.

Earned Experience: 30 Points

  • Boost Awareness and Void from 2 to 3 (24 Points).

-This takes her to Rank-2 and gets the second school technique.

  • Learned Spells: Elemental Weapon (1 Point) and Cloud of Mist (1 Point).
  • Skill Purchases: Knives to 2 (2 Points), Courtier to 2 (2).

Major Skills:

  • Animal Handling 1 (3K2+3)
  • Archery 3 (9K5+18) (Includes Free Raise Style Bonus). Usually 2K3 base damage.
  • Athletics 1 (Varies +13)
  • Commerce 1 (4K3+10)
  • Courtier 2 (5K3+13)
  • Deceit 1 (5K3+15)
  • Defense 1 (3K2+18)
  • Etiquette 1 (4K3+3)
  • Forgery 0 (3K2+15)
  • Horsemanship (3K2+3)
  • Hunting 1 (3K2+13)
  • Investigation 1 (3K2+13)
  • Knives 2 (6K3+15). Usually 3K1 damage, +1 free raise when used to disarm, two if used against a light or medium sword.
  • Lore/Shadowlands 0 (3K2+5)
  • Lore/Underworld 1 (4K2+15)
  • Meditation 1 (4K3+3)
  • Stealth 1 (4K2+18)
  • Swords 1 (4K2+18)

Armor Class: 25 Base, +10 when Unarmored, +10 when using two knives.

Initiative: 7K5

Equipment:

  • Basic Gear: sandals, samurai clothing, chopsticks, basic grooming supplies, coin purse, whetstone, bit of string or thread, tanto/knife, soap, washcloth.
  • Bushi Gear: Dai-sho (katana and wakizashi), bow, 100 arrows, two parrying daggers, two regular daggers, horse and tack.
  • Magical Gear: small scroll satchel, scrolls for all known spells, brushes, inks, and paper.
  • Cash: 11 Gold Koku.
  • Traveling Kit / 12 Items: Pillow Book (1), Hand Mirror (1), Set of Dice and a Dice Cup (1), Packet of Sweets (1), Personal Shrine and Incense (2), Small Statue (1), Decorative Fan (1), Small Tent (1), Messkit (1), Bedroll (1), and a Weeks Rations (1).
Advertisements

Ninsei’s Secret Diaries – Legion Edition

   Here we have a special excerpt from Ninsei’s Secret Diaries – complicated by the fact that now there are not only the Lunar and Solar-oriented versions of Ninsei, but also a set of dream-duplicates with differing elemental orientations and Solar Ninsei has recombined with what was left of a badly damaged version of Lunar Ninsei from an alternate timeline and didn’t exactly win the battle of identities. Ergo, we have multiple entries…

   Arasai (Air Ninsei)

   There are days when I am convinced that I must be the smart one. The “original” continually runs around from one problem to the next with only the vaguest outline of a plan at times. And now he has managed to get himself caught in a situation where he cannot escape without further repercussions beyond what we already face. Good thing I have a plan to get his rear out of the oven.

   A little thought, divination, and weaving can reveal a great deal about what you can expect to face. Using such information effectively and applying the minimal force in the right place can accomplish far more than the biggest fireball spell. Like today, I was able to stake out an important beachhead within the capitol without resorting to overwhelming firepower. All it took was some bait, some smokepowder, and pretending to be a firemage to make powerful opponents step back and negotiate. Now granted there was a great deal of luck involved but I can’t say I have had much time.

   So we still have Gems of the Designer, the Yodatai, the Yobanjin, Asuras, weird eldritch abominations from beyond, Shin and Fu Leng to worry about. Never mind the fact that we still have the possibility of one of us going rogue. We were barely able to stop it the last time, and even then, our side lost the battle of wills. We need to make plans, stash away resources, make contingencies and prepare for the worst should it happen.

   Sigh, it is going to be difficult to keep track of all of this. I am really going to need to work on the ability to process information better. Those people from the universe Ninsei and Kochige created had learned something of this, as had the people of the “Central Worlds” universe where that lunatic embedded in a crystal came from. It may well be worth studying all that material we have brought back from all these realms on advanced magic and such. There may be insights into how to better handle more information and multiple tasks going on at once. Worst case, I could visit our friends from the dying universe in the realm of dreams and ask for advice or instruction.

   Speaking of the Realm of Dreams, I must really find out how the Nightmares were constructed and by who. Not only could whoever it is still pose a threat – the Nightmare of the Mantis is new after all – but that knowledge could also lead to greater insight into how to better anchor my own existence. The tangled webs of fate and knowledge gleaned from the Void say this might be important.

   Lanwei (Water Ninsei):

   Yet again, more people I/we/he care about are getting hurt or nearly killed. Of course, when your answer to everything is fireballs or sunbeams, I guess that’s to be expected. Unless I figure out a better way to respond to this sort of situation, someone is going to get killed. Tying Ninsei to a chair, while amusing, is going to be impractical. Ergo, best option is to find a way to protect them from the damage Ninsei is so bent on exposing them to.

   Okari seems to be really good at this sort of thing, but as best as I can tell, his method relies on some quality unique to himself that no one else can duplicate. That’s probably not surprising in this group… On the other hand, it does suggest a line of approach.

   I can tie threads to people just as well as the others can. These people can then be monitored over these threads. Spells can also be cast over these threads. Is it possible to sense through the threads when someone is in danger and ward them with a protective spell? To be honest, I haven’t the faintest. On the other hand, it may be worth experimenting. If I can even develop the sense to know who is in danger and get to them sooner, it would be beneficial (and less hassle).

   I wonder if I can package a healing spell in such a way so as to be reflexive or nearly instantaneous? Also worth experimenting on. If the pyromaniac can chain cast six sunbeams, then surely I can get a heal spell off quickly. Of course it may be better to try and prevent the damage in the first place with some kind of warding spell.

   Hmm, now there is an interesting question: what measure of power can be inherited? If some of these future family members can be given some modicum of power, then the need to intervene on every little thing can be reduced. Too bad I don’t have supernatural mice to try ideas with. Although it does occur to me that the Unicorn priests had something working for them. Something about coupling power sources together.

   Nevertheless, I am going to have to do something about making these people more durable.

   Yindae (Earth Ninsei)

   My detailed review of the plans for the Power Grid has definitely been a learning experience. While it is certainly a marvel of design and something to be proud of, a few shortcomings do make themselves apparent.

   First off, the system’s greatest strength is also the greatest weakness. The ability to control power flow from a central location makes the system a great tool for social manipulation. On the other hand, should something happen to the controls, then the entire system goes down. Lunar Ninsei combated this issue by burying the control system in a location difficult to find without either knowing what you were looking for or by knowing a great deal about our family. It was then manned only by people he could trust to the utmost.

   Is this the best solution? I am not sure, although I will have to give it more thought. Although I shall have to look into the idea of multiple Control Cores or distributing the control functions.

   It is also becoming apparent that one of the limiting factors of the system will be availability of power. The system looks like it did fine under the load it was designed for. On the other hand, Ninsei with his Obsidian Magistrate system is going to be pushing the limits of the system by a good margin. So we are going to need more power to feed the system.

   It looks like the future Lunar Ninsei pretty thoroughly tapped all the energy sources in the Empire. So not much improvement to be had there. On the other hand, it looks like we might be able to incorporate the Shadowlands and parts of the new lands between the Empire, the City of Jewels, and the Yodatai Empire. That should add to the reserves.

   Another dangerous option would be to look into the Void-Shadow thing the Naga and that Deva use. Seems to be plenty of power there, just a great difficulty in control. Having reviewed the books and other materials from the other realms, I have learned much about concepts like fuses, circuit breakers, switches, and programs. While this electricity thing seems to have no relation to anything in our realm, it does look like magic and gemstones can mimic at least some of the functionality. It may be worthwhile to find a secluded island (or a pocket dimension) and run some very small scale experiments.

   And even if that does not work, and the energies are found to be too uncontrollable, it is not a complete failure. It will still be a learning experience on adapting this information on computers to Rokugani magical laws. This knowledge can then to applied to improve the Control Core of the Grid and even in making automata similar to the Designer for use in bolstering the ranks of the Obsidian Order. Hey, while the Designer was a horribly evil monstrosity, it did have some great ideas. Like that one with imprinting a consciousness into obsidian. I am sure something useful can come of that tidbit.

   Regardless, I have plenty of books and other materials to shift through for useful ideas. Some of them may prove useful to me and the others, some may not. It is not like I am in any hurry, I will have plenty of time on my hands.

   Lunar Ninsei

   All right, what in the name of the Kami is going on?! First Solar Ninsei is here, then he falls off the face of Rokugan, then he’s back again. That time he came back with three copies of us. Then he disappears again and comes back with copies of all our siblings and the princesses. Is the goofball actually trying to make backups of everyone important to him? And now he sends me a message “Congratulations, you won the battle of wills.” Which last I recall, since I am still here, is friggin impossible. I mean, the only way that could even work would require either alternate dimensions or time travel…. oh god damn it.

   I am going to have to send Kochige and Alex a fireball equal in power to the migraine I am now getting. I think I may have to find one of the copies and ask if there even is a plan or if Solar Ninsei is just winging it. I might even get an account of what happened that he ended up fusing.

   And if he has managed to fuse with another version of me, then I may have to step things up to keep pace.

   Solar Ninsei

   It seems like nothing is ever quite as simple as it initially seems. This latest development with Shin illustrates this perfectly. One of the reasons I haven’t tried to escape this escort of mine is simply because I do not know what to do with the boy. Simply running isn’t going to look good in front of someone who takes his oaths as seriously as he does, and it doesn’t help my case that I believe we are the good guys in this dispute.

   Did Fu Leng recruit him because he knows Shin can kill otherwise intractable opponents? Or is he simply looking to put Kochige in a bind by forcing him to fight his own son? Or perhaps the Gem of the Designer has had a hand in suggesting this idea? Regardless, this is one of the most troubling developments since learning the Emperor was likely possessed.

   The pragmatic side of me says to simply knock out Shin, erase his memory of the summons entirely, and then stuff him somewhere safe until this is all over. I think I could probably get the jump on him enough to pull that off. The idealist in me tells me that Shin has had enough with people messing with him magically and that he needs to face up to this himself. I just do not look forward to the idea of Shin fighting against us.

   Of course, thinking about that alternate future timeline, maybe Shin is destined to live a long, unhappy life. That is not a pleasant thought.

   I am also pondering the fact that shortly I will be leading an army to attack the Imperial capitol. I am putting a lot of trust into the Lost commander I put in charge of the combined army. Should she perform anywhere near as well as I hope, she will likely serve as one of my generals for a long time. Hopefully with Shigure’s advisement, she can keep casualties to a minimum.

   There is also the fact that Fu Leng is trying to drive a wedge in the Empire so that no one has the strength to oppose him. I really need to counter his efforts there while at the same time preparing for the assault on the capitol. Not going to be much point in saving the Empire from Fu Leng if the Empire is already destroyed. Frankly though, whatever political capitol I had was lost when I was declared a traitor to the Empire. And as evidenced from the battle at my parent’s house, trying to declare the Emperor false or possessed will only lead to further strife.

   Now only if we had access to someone with Najite’s skills. We could make a serious effort at discrediting Fu Leng’s position on the throne through embarrassment, get annoying people out of the way, and collect the “information” that could be useful in getting everyone to drop their support of Fu Leng. Thereby creating a serious effort to rally around our Emperor. It is too bad that Najite has disappeared and I know of no one that has similar abilities to him.

Latest Material Index

   It’s once again time to get the latest material index updated and to transfer the material from the old one to the main index tabs at the top of the page. If you want the very latest material, it may be necessary to either scroll down or consult the “Recent Posts” listing-widget on the lower right. The previous Latest Materials Index can be found HERE, and – for those who like to rummage at random – the full post-by-post index can be found occupying a great deal of space in the lower right column.

   Eclipse Classless d20 Character Construction Cribsheet

   RPG Design

   d20 Material

   Legend of the Five Rings Material

   Amber Diceless RPG Material

   Traveller Material

  • The Wanderer: A deceptive “survey vessel” for special agents. With autocad layout.

   It Came From The Late Late Late Show Material

Legend of the Five Rings – The Timeless Wanderer Bushi School

   Next up we have a player-submitted school for Legend of the Five Rings – albeit with the usual selection of mechanical tweaks and a bit more description.

   The Path of the Timeless Wanderer is long – and perhaps truly without end. Once one has set forth upon the way, only in death will a single location truly claim the bones of the wayfarer again, and his or her spirit shall not be bound to them.

   The Timeless Wanderer school is a school for a wandering warrior-sage – focusing primarily on the “sage” part, secondarily on the “wandering”, and only in passing on the “warrior” part. While the school does include one or two offensive, and several defensive, talents, it primarily focuses on universal expertise. A Timeless Wanderer may – quite truthfully – claim on a moments notice to be an expert on “Lore/fourth century unicorn clan cake recipes”, or on any other specific lore skill that he or she cares to name.

   And any player character who takes this school will usually name a lot of them.

   The Timeless Wanderer (Bushi) School:

  • Basic Modifiers: Agility + 1, Glory 1, Status 1, Wealth 3, Honor 1.
  • School Skills: Athletics, Bow, Defense, Engineering, Etiquette, Hunting; Lore/Other Worlds, Meditation, Stealth, and any one weapon skill.

   School Techniques:

   First Technique/At the Threshold of Reality:

   One cannot travel the way of the Timeless Wanderer without becoming more aware. As the practitioner learns to sense the flow of the cosmos and the interconnections of all things, he or she begins to know without knowing. As might be expected, personal dangers along the user’s way are the easiest to learn to sense, but such things are merely a subset of the infinite knowledge of the multiverse and of the paths between worlds. The practitioner gains the ability to sense whether a path is dangerous and how dangerous it is (Sense Dangerous Paths, a second-level inherent, self-powered mystic sense, 6), +1KO on all Lore skills which counts as being skilled (8), the ability to step partially out of reality, adding the results of the user’s stealth checks to the TN of attempts to detect him or her via magic (the Undetection reflexive spell, level one, self-powered, inherent, 3), a pool of (Rank) free raises daily, usable with any one school skill (chosen when this technique is acquired), and the ability to fire missiles through the spaces between worlds – given a few moments to prepare (Innate L1 Darts of Unmaking spell, usable Void times per day; the user’s next three ranged attacks will ignore carapace, invulnerability, and abilities or techniques which would ignore or reduce damage, 3). Sadly, the nascent Timeless Wanderer will also begin experiencing the curse of this school as he or she learns the first technique; he or she will begin having difficulty finding familiar locations – such as his or her place of work and favorite teahouse as his or her studies progress (-5).

   Second Technique/The Opening of the Gate:

   The budding Timeless Wanderer increases his or her awareness of, and connections to, unfamiliar regions. He or she gains the Perception psychic power (an inherent, self-powered, second-level effect, 6), a further +2KO to all Lore skills (total +3K0, considered skilled, +8), the ability to use his or her free raise pool with all of his or her school skills, rather than only one of them (+5), and a translation psychic power that enables him or her to speak and read any language, although this takes an hour of trying to kick in (6 -5 for restriction = 1). Furthermore, being toughened by travel, the Timeless Wanderer may now add +2 wounds to each of his or her wound levels (5). Of course, at this point, the Curse of the Timeless Wanderer now extends to his or her very home (-5).

    Third Technique/Outside the Walls of Reality:

   The Timeless Wanderer is starting to come into his or her own, and will find that his or her body has begun to shed it’s mortal limitations. Continued travel continues to fortify the body; the Timeless Wanderer replaces the +2 bonus to each wound level with doubling the base wounds in each of his or her wound ranks (+10). More obviously, he or she will find that shifting between realms rejuvenates his or her body and equipment, making the Timeless Wanderer Immune to aging (5). He or she becomes Immune to the restrictions of terrain, able to run up walls, across water, and even onto clouds (5). By expending a Void point, he or she can even step briefly outside of time, gaining an extra action, completing some simple task (such as writing a long report), or avoiding the effects of a change in the past, in a mere instant (Immunity/Time, 10 – 5 = 5). Unfortunately, his or her curse also strengthens, making it impossible for him to find his home region (-5).

   Fourth Technique/Exploring the Realms Beyond:

   Having left ordinary life a long time ago, the Timeless Wanderer begins attuning himself or herself to other realities. He or she becomes immune to the ill-effects and control of malign extradimensional energies (including the ill effects of Taint, 10), and to the general hazards of realms hostile to human life (Immunity/Environmental Effects, 10, -5 for applying only to large-scale effects; the user may be protected from a forest fire or storm, but a small fire will still burn his or her hand and a lightning spell will still harm him or her – provided that he or she isn’t currently on a plane of storms). He or she also gains a final + 2KO to Lore skills, for a total of +5KO (8). Finally, as a figure rapidly becoming lost to his or her home dimension, the Timeless Wanderer adopts a certain slipperiness of identity; those trying to remember him or her suffer from a +5 TN modifier. Sadly, his or her curse will now prevent the Wanderer from returning to his or her native nation (-5).

   Fifth Technique/The Open and Barred Gate Koan:

   Dimensional boundaries, social and otherwise, are nearly negligible to the master of the Timeless Wanderer school. He or she is immune to physical dimensional boundaries, always being able to seek out a path that will allow him or her to travel between the worlds given time (10-point Immunity, -5 for time requirement = 5). By opening small gates, the Timeless Wanderer may call forth blasts of elemental material up to (school rank) times per day, using the relevant elemental ring to hit and rolling (Ring)K(Ring) damage (10). Finally, he or she has become supremely adaptable to the multiverse, doubling his or her pool of free raises on school skills (10). Ironically, however, his or her home dimension is forever closed to the Timeless Wanderer – hence the technique name (-5).

   OK, the Timeless Warrior is a superficially weak school; it’s got a few handy tricks and makes it easy to travel, but it’s biggest overt abilities are knowing a lot of obscure facts and being able to run around on blatantly insufficient surfaces. It does, however, pull at least one fast one there; it allows the user to take advantage of whatever benefits a realm may offer – say the combat boosts bestowed by the Realm of Slaughter – while remaining unaffected by it’s deleterious effects. That’s not bad, although the effective forced retirement at rank five definitely puts a damper on things. Still, if you don’t quite finish the fifth technique, the curse need never entirely take effect.

Legend of the Five Rings – The Thunderbolt Blade Bushi School

   Today it’s the Thunderbolt Blade Bushi School (sometimes known as the “Hand of Bayushi” School) for Legend of the Five Rings.

   Darkness is everywhere. Beneath the ground, beyond the stars, hidden within the light, and lurking in the hearts of men. None can escape it.

   The blade pierces darkness. One with it, yet shining like a thunderbolt. It comes from darkness, it strikes darkness, and it passes into darkness, yet is not one with it.

   Such is the Tao of the Thunderbolt Blade.

   This particular school focuses on movement and on striking at exactly the right moment, when the forces of the universe are aligned with your effort, for optimum effect. It’s best in individual heroic combat, rather than on the battlefield, although it also puts some of it’s teachings to use in less physical combat.

   Students of the Thunderbolt Blade tend to be more than a bit brash at first; they are aware that their school’s strength lies in speed and mobility, not in patient manipulation or analysis of an opponents techniques. They know that a single strike at the right moment is worth a hundred that come too late to make a difference.

   School Bonuses:

  • Basic Modifiers: Agility +1, Glory 1, Status 1, Wealth 2, and Honor 2
  • School Skills: Athletics, Bow, Chain Weapons, Courtier, Defense, Etiquette, Fast Draw, Hunting, Sword, and any one high or low skill.

   School Techniques:

   First Technique: The Strike of Lightning

  • The first technique of the Thunderbolt Blade focuses on timely action; neither strength, nor speed, nor even righteousness is as important as being at the right place at the right time. When the moment is at hand, it must be seized. When it is not, the enemy should not be engaged unless no other course is open to you.
  • The Student of the Thunderbolt Blase may add twice his or her Air Ring to Initiative rolls (5), gains +10 Defense against slower opponents (5), gains a daily pool of (Rank) free raises which may be used on any roll made in the direct pursuit of his or her duty (10), adds +2 to his or her water ring for movement purposes (Enhancement, 1), and inflicts +1K0 damage with all weapons (4). Sadly, this technique cannot be used while wearing anything heavier than scout armor and it’s intense focus on acting in the instant that an opportunity arises places the Student at a slight disadvantage in social situations, where he or she will suffer a -1K0 penalty (net -5).

   Second Technique: The Lashing of the Storm

  • The second technique of the Thunderbolt Blade focuses on constant motion, leaving opponents off balance and out of position.
  • The Journeyman of the Thunderbolt Blade may add twice his or her Fire Ring to Initiative rolls (5), gains another +10 Defense against slower opponents (5), gains (Air Ring) free raises against enemies who attacked him or her and missed in the last round (10), and requires one less raise than usual to increase the damage he or she inflicts (5). Unfortunately, this technique cannot be used while wearing anything heavier than scout armor or if there is no room to maneuver freely (–5).

   Third Technique: The Penetrating Rain

  • The third technique of the Thunderbolt Blade focuses on a multitude of approaches, combining constant motion with attacks from every angle. No matter how small the chink in an opponents defense, it is always a point of entry.
  • The Adept of the Thunderbolt Blade requires one less raise than usual to perform the Acrobatics and Disarm Maneuvers as well (+5), gains one free raise on each attack towards the Acrobatics, Disarm, and Extra Damage maneuvers with each attack (10; in combination with the last technique this amounts to an automatic +1K1 damage, a basic disarm attempt, and some minor bit of acrobatics with each attack), and now gains (2x Rank) free raises which may be used on any roll made in the direct pursuit of his or her duty per day, replacing the bonus from the first technique (+10). Unfortunately, as usual, this technique cannot be used while wearing anything heavier than scout armor or if there is no room to maneuver freely (–5).

   Fourth Technique: The Purity of Thunder

  • The fourth technique of the Thunderbolt Blade focuses on purity of purpose. The storm must be harnessed, directed, and focused upon a task. Otherwise it’s fury is wasted – yet the storm cannot direct itself and remain pure. Such is the paradox of the Thunderbolt Blade.
  • The Master of the Thunderbolt Blade gains +1 attack with bladed melee weapons (5), may add twice his or her Void Ring to Initiative rolls (5), and gains a secondary Void pool equal to his or her Rank, which is regained monthly (10). The points from this pool may only be spent on rolls made in pursuit of missions assigned by the user’s superiors (-5), but up to half of them may be spent on a given roll (+5) and their effect is doubled (+5).
  • While the fourth technique transcends the limitations of armor which restrict the three previous techniques, it requires that the user be in active service to a greater lord. Without the instructions of a lord to provide direction, the mind of the user is necessarily divided, and his or her purpose is not pure (-5).

   Fifth Technique: The Lightning-Cast Shadow

  • With purity of purpose comes it’s shadow. With this technique the user’s shadow takes on a life of it’s own, embodying ruthless purpose without compunction or honor. While the Shadow may be unleashed into the world for a time, it is always a risk. Indeed, if the Shadow is unleashed, and sees it’s “Master” – or his friends, family, or companions – as an impediment to the mission, it will not hesitate to dispose of them in passing.
  • The fulfilled Seeker of the Thunderbolt Blade gains a shadow-companion, with XP equal to his or her own (within whatever limits the game master sets) – but it is ruthless and without honor, loyal only to assigned missions and of an independent mind (5). The creature has Shadow instead of Void, and also has a secondary Shadow Pool, equivalent to the user’s secondary Void Pool, which the Thunderbolt Blade Master may freely draw upon while his “companion” remains a simple Shadow; it is not available while the shadow is unleashed (+10). Finally, the Seeker may draw upon the light and darkness within himself or herself to temporarily awaken the spirits of bladed weapons in the vicinity, requesting their assistance (Rank+2 Favors per session, with favors based on the Seeker’s [Sword Skill/2], 5).

   The Thunderbolt Blade school is loosely based on a school proposed by one of the players: he felt that the original Bayushi Busi school wasn’t quite up to snuff at very high experience point totals, and certainly wasn’t up to schools like the Hida Bushi School and the Tsuruchi Archer School. Whatever the merits of the case there, it’s certainly true that it’s fifth technique was dull, risked nothing, and made combat rather uninteresting; you just rolled than counted up your spare raises and picked some effects. Ergo, he wanted to drop the fifth technique and make the school a bit more powerful – and noted that “the Scorpion are exactly the knd of Clan to keep their actual school technique secret while pretending to have a less effective one”.

   His initial mechanical proposal sat in the files for quite some time, until I eventually thought of some interesting flavor to give it. As usual, of course, once it got some flavor text the mechanics mutated to fit the flavor text until it no longer bore much resemblance to the original idea at higher levels – but that is how school design tends to go.

   The school itself is quite powerful, albeit mostly because of those secondary Void and Shadow pools. If the user saves those pools and throws them behind one or two rolls, they’ll get some pretty horrific bonuses. At – let us say – Rank 6, the user would have reserves of 6 Void and 6 Shadow, could spend 3 Void and 3 Shadow on any one roll, and would get a total bonus of +12K12. That translates into quite a lot of free raises. It’s a very good trick, but you can only pull that stunt twice a month. You’d best save it for when you really need it.

Legend of the Five Rings – Reflexive Spells

   Reflexive Spells can be used without taking an action – or even during someone else’s action. It’s a part of their design. Sadly, this means that they’re invariably pretty weak. They must be taken as innate powers with no casting roll required, and so only free raises may be used with them. They’re most commonly encountered built into special techniques. Some of the more common reflexive spells are listed below, but there are others – and some higher level possibilities.

   Level One:

  • Self-Hypnosis: the user may instantly convince him or herself that something is the truth, however silly it may be – foiling powers and abilities that detect lies or are triggered by them.
  • Tongue’s Lure: the user may make a contested willpower check to get someone to reveal more then they meant to in a conversation.
  • Ch’i Battle; the user may make a contested void check to make an opponent who just attacked them to lose his or her next attack.
  • Strength of Steel: doubles the user’s armor bonuses for three combat rounds.
  • Undetection; adds the user’s stealth check result to the target number of any attempts at detecting the user by magic for the next hour.
  • Psychic Weapon I: creates an arrow, knife, or similar small, light, weapon. It will last for up to ten minutes, although it will immediately vanish if someone attempts to use it against it’s creator.

   Level Two:

  • Warcry: causes fear for two rounds in those nearby, with a TN of (User’s rank + 1)x5 to resist.
  • Redirect; the user may make an opposed check against an attacker to redirect an attack to another target within five feet.
  • Fortune’s Aid; allows the user to keep all the dice he or she rolls on a particular skill check or effectively doubles his or her skill rank for a single roll.
  • Crippling Blow; allows an attack to cause a special effect, such as blindness, reduced movement, or some similar severe penalty, for the next hour. The victim, however, may resist normally and the attack must connect for the spell to take effect.
  • Touch of Arcana: allows the user’s flesh, or a specific weapon he or she touches, to take on the properties of a particular magical material for the next five rounds.
  • Serene Aura: keeps a chosen target from instigating any hostile action or contested roll against you for up to an hour – as long as you also refrain from doing so against them. This doesn’t work on animals, demons, or those lost to considerations of honor.
  • Magic Disruption: allows the user to strike a magic-wielder and make a contested void check against them. If the user wins, his victim will be unable to use any form of magical powers through the end of the next round. This will not, however, work again before the end of the next round; there won’t be anything to disrupt.
  • Psychic Weapon II: creates a one-handed weapon, bow, or similar weapon. It will last for up to ten minutes, although it will immediately vanish if someone attempts to use it against it’s creator.
  • Mastery: allows the user to automatically succeed on a check, but only with a minimal success.

   Level Three:

  • Blades of Truth: negates all of a target’s special damage-reducing powers save for spending void points for (Honor) rounds.
  • Blade Arcane: causes whatever weapon the user indicates to be treated as an arcane material of his or her choice for the next five rounds in addition to whatever other properties it may have.
  • Ultimate Evasion: the user evades any one single-target attack.
  • Psychic Weapon III: creates a two-handed weapons of choice. It will last for up to ten minutes, although it will immediately vanish if someone attempts to use it against it’s creator.
  • Ranged Strike: allows the user to make a single melee attack using archery range modifiers.
  • Otherworldly Essence; the user may add his or her level in a chosen dimensional energy to every die used for an attack roll, damage roll, defense roll, or skill roll this round.

Legend of the Five Rings – Mudra

   Mudra are mystical gestures and postures which focus and channel the trickle of chi that anyone can tap via meditation. They require a meditation skill level of at least three times the level of the effect being used – and most require both hands, sitting still, and several minutes of meditation to activate, although the effects last for about one minute after the user stops. Anyone who meditates can learn Mudra as per acquiring any other spell formula as an innate ability.

   Level One:

  • Tranquility; banishes fear and stress, allowing the user to get along on only half the usual amount of sleep and to resist fear effects.
  • Purity; allows the user to try and cast out personal impurities – including poisons and spirits – through meditation. The target number for any such attempt is set by the game master.
  • Lesser Sealing; keeps the user’s energies from interacting with those of an item or spell, allowing safe handling of dangerous things. Unlike many other Mudra, this one allows slow movement and only occupies one hand.
  • Aura; allows the user to walk around – albeit slowly – while radiating an impression, such as “I am a worthy recipient of alms” or “I am too angry to mess with”. Animals are strongly influenced, humans always “get the message”, but can resist it with an opposed willpower check.
  • Hibernation; greatly slows the user’s metabolism, and allows him or her to tolerate a drastically lowered body temperature.
  • Void Flare; this mudra simply burns off the trickle of energy supplied by meditation in as occultly-spectacular a manner as possible – making the user easily detectable by anyone else who uses occult powers in the vicinity.
  • One with the Tao; allows the user to attune himself or herself to his or her surroundings. The user cannot be surprised and gains a +10 bonus to initiative.

   Level Two:

  • Stasis; the user need not eat, breathe, age, or make rolls against progressive conditions, such as diseases or poisons, while maintaining this Mudra.
  • Magic Resistance; the user gains an effective magic resistance equal to the results of his or her meditation check.
  • Illusion Penetration; the user will become aware of any illusions in the immediate vicinity.
  • Hand of (Material); the user’s unarmed blows are treated as if his or her hands were made of a particular mystical material.
  • Deflection; this mudra allows the user to calmly deflect blows, gaining a +10 bonus to his or her AC while he or she remains on the defensive and is either sitting or standing.
  • Radiance; allows the user to generate an eerie glow, roughly equal to torchlight, either from his or her entire body or from a selected portion of it. Unlike most Mudra, this one can be used while walking around slowly.
  • Immovability; grants the user enormous mass (many tons) and great durability – equal to being made of the hardest metal – but also prevents him or her from moving more than an inch or so an hour, although this does not disrupt the mudra. Given time, however, the user can easily push through an iron wall.

   Level Three:

  • Spirit Walking; allows the user to engage in a limited form of astral projection. He or she must remain passively focused on meditation, but can send their spirit to various locations while doing so. Alternatively, this mudra can be used to simply release the user’s spirit, resulting in a peaceful death.
  • Invisibility; allows the user to meld into the background, both physically and magically. While this mudra is active, the user may add his or her meditation skill to his or her stealth-related skills and allowing the user to employ his or her meditation skill as a magical stealth skill against various forms of detection magic.
  • Energy Resistance; allows the user to subtract the results of his or her mediation skill check (to a minimum of zero) from any energy damage inflicted on him or her while the mudra is active. Unlike most other mudra, this one can be maintained with one hand while moving around slowly – allowing the user, for example, to walk through a fire while remaining unaffected.
  • Self Healing; the user accomplishes one full days worth of healing per hour that this mudra is maintained.
  • Awakening; infuses a target item or creature with a bit of the energy the user is tapping into. An item can be briefly “awakened” as a magical item (the exact properties are up to the game master, but they are always simply bonuses), an unconscious target will be awakened, and any living creature can be healed of one point of damage. Unfortunately, actually selecting a target and infusing it ends the mudra – and an “awakened” item will return to sleep in a few minutes at most.
  • Deep Trance; your meditations achieves results in one-third of the usual time – at which point this mudra can simple be abandoned in favor of another.
  • Sacred Barrier; allows the user to generate a ward as long as he or she continues to meditate, forcing creatures who attempt to enter to make an opposed meditation check against the user to do so. Even if they succeed, the user may inflict half the value of his or her meditation check as damage upon them.