I thought I’d try and re-create my pseudonym and L5R4e PC, Asako Soh, Phoenix Clan Shugenja, using the recently released Beta rules for Fantasy Flight Games’ Legend of the Five Rings RPG, by the wonderful Katrina Ostrander @lindevi
I was really pleased to hear Katrina was involved in the new L5R, as knew her to be a huge fan of the game and the setting, and had enjoyed her work in the Star Wars RPG.
I’ve gone through character creation as detailed in the beta rules and summarised Asako Soh at the end. Copied rules text is in a phoenix red below.
The Game of Twenty Questions
Part 1: Core Identity (Clan and Family)
All characters begin with Rank 1 in all Rings, and 0 in all Skills
Q1: What Clan does your character belong to?
Easy one, Phoenix. This gives +1 Void Ring, +1 Theology Skill, and Status of 30. Bushido for the Phoenix focuses on Righteousness.
Q2: What family does your character belong to?
Soh is a member of the Asako clan, monks, scholars, tutors and courtiers of the Clan. This grant +1 Air Ring, +1 Culture and Theology Skills, and Glory of 40.
Part II: Role and School
Q3. What is your character’s role and school?
When I first created Asako Soh for the 4e rules, I saw him as an ascetic mystic, a diviner contemplating the Void, whose thinking could err into heresy. As such he is a Shugenja and trains in the Isawa Elementalist School as a Shugenja.
This grants +1 to both Fire and Water Rings and I can choose three skill increases from Composition, Courtesy, Medicine, Meditation, Performance, Theology. He has already had two increases to Theology, so Soh will take +1 Meditation, Courtesy, and Composition.
Available Techniques: Invocations, Shuji, Rituals
Starting Techniques: Invocations – can choose 3 from Extinguish, Grasp of Earth, Path to Inner Peace, Tempest of Air. Soh specialised in Void magic in 4e, with some lesser expertise in Fire and Earth. The Prayers he had at Rank 1 aren’t available here but will pick Grasp of Earth, Path to Inner Peace, Tempest of Air.
Starting Rituals: Commune with Spirits, Divination.
He has a starting Honor of 40 and the following School Ability and Equipment:
One with the Elements (School Ability): The Isawa Elementalist School excels not at one particular elemental art, but at the discipline of invocation itself. Its teachings are widely applicable across many different ap- peals to the kami, making its practitioners especially versatile. Once per scene when making the check to activate an invocation technique, before Step 3: Assemble and Roll Dice Pool, you may reduce the TN of the check by your school rank.
Starting Outfit: Sanctified robes, wakizashi, knife, scroll satchel, traveling pack, 5 koku.
Q4: How does your character stand out within their school?
This is a choice to increase one Ring. Asako Soh specialised In void and the mystical, so will take +1 Void
Part III: Honor & Glory
Q5. What is your character’s duty to their lord?
A common setup for L5R has been for the PCs to be assistants to Emerald Magistrates, allowing Samurai of different Clans to work together, investigating events over the Empire. Asako Soh reached School Rank 4 in 4e and was aspiring to become an Asako Inquisitor, so I’m going to say his duty is an investigator of Maho and his Lord is an Asako Inquisitor.
I’ll have as his Giri, ‘Investigate Maho for the Asako Inquisitors’.
Q6. What does your character long for?
One of the reasons why I like the Asako family is their philosophy referred to as The Path of Man, the idea that humankind can transcend itself, and become Fortunes.
For Soh’s Ninjo, I’ll select ‘to explore and teach The Path of Man’.
Q7. What is your character’s opinion of their Clan?
Asako Soh had a rather ambivalent view of the Phoenix Clan – on one hand, he was a skilled Shugenja and scholar, on the other, he resented the control of the Isawa family and his loyalty was more to the Asako family and the Inquisition, than the Elemental Masters. On balance, Asako Soh believes in peace, serving the Empire through magic and spiritual rites, and hence will support his Clan. This grants him +5 Glory.
Q8. What does your character think of Bushido?
Asako Soh would endorse Bushido, and the Phoenix emphasis on Righteousness. This grants him +10 Honor.
Part IV: Strengths and Weaknesses
Q9. What is your character’s greatest accomplishment so far?
This steps aligns with the choice of a distinction advantage.
I would be keen to take an advantage like Ishiken-Do, as existed in prior editions of L5R, and opening up Void magic for Asako Soh. In its absence so far in these rules, I think I’ll build upon my idea of linking Asako Soh to the Inquisitors and pick:
Support of Asako Inquisitors (Water)
Type: Interpersonal Description: Whether through your own efforts or simple good fortune, you have gained the support of a particular faction or organization. Confer with the GM to select a campaign-appropriate group when choosing this advantage.
Effects: The following apply to a character with the Support of [One Group] distinction:
- You have proven yourself to a particular group, who is willing to help you when doing so will not damage their reputation. They will offer you their hospitality, including meals, a place to rest, and medical attention if they have a healer. They will also grant you access to their other facilities, such as laboratories, libraries, smithies, stables, or sparring rooms.
- When performing a check to interact with the chosen group that relies on your rapport with them (such as a Command [Water] check to is- sue them orders or a Performance [Water] check to cause an audience of them to desire something), you may reroll up to two dice during Step 3: Assemble and Roll Dice Pool.
I’ll say that his greatest achievement has been to detect a Maho-tsukai operating in Phoenix lands, shortly after his gempukku, bringing her to the attention of the Inquisitors.
Q10. What holds your character back the most in life?
Here I get to choose an adversity disadvantage. In 4e, Soh was ascetic, a pacifist, and lame. There’s the option to have lost a leg, but wanted more to signify Soh as being infirm and slow moving so will pick:
Fractured Spine (Earth)
Type: Physical, Scar
Description: Your spine has been badly damaged, and while it has likely healed (or will heal), it causes you discomfort and makes it hard to push your body to its limits.
Effect: The following apply to a character with the Fractured Spine adversity:
- You have suffered major trauma to the spine, and harsh impacts cause you to be shot through with agonizing pain. You can only lift and carry half the weight that someone of your strength normally could.
- When you make a check to resist harm or exhaustion (such as a Fit- ness [Earth] check to shrug off further injury or a Labor [Earth] check to carry heavy objects as part of building a structure), you must choose and reroll 2 dice showing or After resolving the check, if you failed, you regain 1 Void point.
Q11. What activity makes your character feel at peace?
Here I get to pick a Passion linked to Soh’s hobbies and interests. Looking over the list, Enlightenment is an option. So I think Asako Soh feels at peace when meditating, reflecting on the Path of Man, and seeking his own personal transcendence. This also picks up some similar features to the ascetic disadvantage he had in 4e.
Type: Spiritual Description: You are devoted to the principles revealed in the Tao of Shinsei and are well on your way to transcending this existence. Effects: The following apply to a character with the Enlightenment passion:
- You feel no attachment to mundane items and earthly titles; you cannot be tempted with material wealth or the promise of power.
- After performing a check to detach yourself from material concerns (such as a Meditation [Void] check to contemplate your place in the universe or a Survival [Void] check to exist in harmony with your environment), you remove 3 strife.
Q12. What concern, fear, or foible troubles your character the most?
Here I get to choose a Specific Anxiety. To reflect his pacifist nature, and his kindness towards common people, I’ll pick:
Type: Interpersonal, Mental Description: Samurai are warriors, yet war is not in your nature. Despite any skill with the blade or experience on the field that you might accrue, the sight of the suffering of others wrenches at you in a way your code as a samurai says it should not. When you do kill someone, you feel incredible guilt over it, even if you did not intend for them to die. Effects: The following apply to a character with the Softheartedness anxiety:
If given the choice to kill someone or spare them, you always spare their life, even if it is not in your interest to let them live. After performing a check to kill others or let them die (such as a Government (Fire) check to estimate the burden a war would place on the common people or a Martial Arts [Ranged] (Fire) check to shoot to kill), you suffer 3 strife. If this causes you to suffer an Outburst (see page 16), gain 1 Void point.
Q13. Who has your character learned the most from during their life?
Asako Soh studied with one of the Henshin Monks of the Asako Clan, learning something of the Path of Man. His Mentor is Asako Ishi.
Here, I get to pick an advantage or a disadvantage and one rank in the a skill linked to the relationship.
I like the idea of being haunted, a ghost mocking Soh for his seriousness and temerity in pursuing Enlightenment.
Haunting (Void) Type: Interpersonal, Spiritual Description: A ghost, an ancestor spirit, or a spirit from another realm is haunting you. Effects: The following apply to a character with the Haunted adversity:
The spirit has their own agenda (determined by the GM), which interferes with yours at inopportune times.
When you make a check to defy the will of the spirit haunting you (such as a Meditation [Void] check to find solace in meditation or a Skulduggery [Void] check to perform disreputable acts to survive), during Step 3: Assemble and Roll Dice Pool, you must choose and reroll 2 dice showing or results. After resolving the check, if you failed, you regain 1 Void point.
This could be accompanied by a skill. For the skill, I’d take Sentiment +1 as the Henshin’s teaching opens up Soh to be aware of others more fully.
Other option, is to for an advantage, and I am torn between Sixth Sense or Indomitable Will. Given his mystic nature, I’d go for the former on balance:
Sixth Sense (Void)
Description: You are especially in tune with the spirit world, even if you cannot hear or speak to the kami directly. If you do have the gifts of a shugenja, you are especially sensitive to mystical phenomena.
Effects: The following apply to a character with the Sixth Sense distinction:
- You have an instinctive sense of supernatural beings, and you can feel the presence of spirits and similar beings even when they have not chosen to reveal themselves. This feeling is ominous in the presence of beings with evil intentions and neutral when the beings are simply going about their business as usual.
- When performing a check for which you need to follow your hunches (such as a Meditation [Void] check to generate initiative during a duel or a Theology [Void] check to detect a snarl in the invisible threads of the universe), you may reroll up to two dice during Step 3: Assemble and Roll Dice Pool.
Weighing it up, I think Sixth Sense suits Soh more, as a Void Mystic, rather than Haunted + skill rank in Sentiment, so will go for that.
Part V: Personality and Behavior
Q14. What detail do others find most striking about your character?
Frayed, fading scarlet Phoenix robes, limp, and shaved head – monk-like appearance.
Q15. How does your character react to stressful situations?
Furrow his brows, narrow his eyes, and clench his jaw.
Soh did occasionally get angry in 4e – calling down fire on those who offended or blocked him. Hence, I’ll pick ‘becomes enraged’ as his outburst.
Q16. What are your character’s preexisting relationships with other clans, families, organisations, and traditions?
Close relationship with Asako Inquisitors, more troubled relationship with Elemental Masters of Phoenix Clan, and friendly relations with Monks and Dragon Clan. Traditionally, there can be alliance between the Scorpion and Phoenix Clans, and Soh values the loyalty of the Scorpion and their flexible minds.
Part VI: Ancestry and Family
Q17. How would your character’s parents describe them?
Asako Soh’s parents are proud of him – for anyone in the Phoenix Clan, being granted the gift of speaking with the kami is a great honor. Privately, they wish he was a simple tutor or scholar rather than risking his life investigating Maho. They would describe him as a proud, intelligent, stubborn young man.
Q18. Who was your character named to honor?
This is good! Random table to find out facts about ancestor named after. Get to roll 1d10 twice and choose result.
I rolled a 6 and 1. Looking at table 2-1, can pick Famous Deed or Ruthless Victor. Former fits more I think. Get +3 Glory and roll for item that was given to ancestor as reward. Rolled a 1 again – a family heirloom weapon as a starting item.
Q19. What is your character’s personal name?
A nice list here in the rules, with meanings. But I will pick Soh, found on the L5R.wikia.com many years ago.
Q20. How should your character die?
Soh hopes to achieve immortality as a God, but fears either falling foul of taint and being killed himself by the Inquisitors, or at the hands of an Oni or Maho-tsukai.
So, that’s the twenty questions answered and this gives us the all new Asako Soh
School: Isawa Elementalist School
School Rank: 1
Air Earth Fire Water Void
2 1 2 2 3
Ninjo: to explore and teach The Path of Man
Giri: Investigate Maho for the Asako Inquisitors
Distinctions: Support of Asako Inquisitors (Water); Sixth Sense (Void)
Adversities: Fractured Spine (Earth).
Passions: Enlightenment (Void);
Anxieties: Softheartedness (Fire);
Personal Outburst: Furrow his brows, narrow his eyes, and clench his jaw. ‘Becomes enraged’
Skills: Culture 1, Theology 2, Meditation 1, Courtesy 1, Composition 1.
School Ability: One with the Elements
Techniques – Rituals: Commune with Spirits, Divination; Invocations: Grasp of Earth, Path to Inner Peace, Tempest of Air
Resilience Composure Focus Vigilance
6 6 4 2
Void Points: 1
Hopefully ready to call the air kami again and fly above the enemies of Rokugan!
Please let me know if I’ve got anything wrong – now to re-read rules and see what the numbers mean.