I thought I’d experiment with the new rules for Legend of the Five Rings RPG this weekend, starting a twitter poll asking which Clan to create a PC. However, the RPG community had the very sad news of the death of Greg Stafford, wonderful game designer and mystic. John Wick discussed the role Greg had on him as a person and as a gamer, and in his warm and well-written blog mentions that a character in the L5R setting was Greg, namely the Grey Crane, Kakita Toshimoko, sensei of Doji Hoturi and master of the Kakita Duelling Academy. Hence, for this first try out of the full character generation rules, and in honour of Greg. I’ll try to create the Grey Crane as a young man, perhaps with some more shamanic elements.
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?
Given the above, the Kakita are a family of the Crane Clan. This gives +1 Air Ring, +1 Culture Skill, and Status of 35. Bushido for the Phoenix focuses on Courtesy.
Q2: What family does your character belong to?
The Grey Crane is a member of the Kakita family, a family known for its skill in duelling. This grants +1 Air or +1 Fire, and either +1 Aesthetics or +1 Meditation. Fire is a creative ring so I think I’ll take a +1 there and a +1 Aesthetics to reflect Greg’s imagination and inspiration. He has a starting Glory of 44 and 7 koku.
Part II: Role and School
Q3. What is your character’s role and school?
Kakita Toshimoko is going to train in the Kakita Duelist School (Artisan, Bushi).
This grants +1 to both Air and Earth Rings and I can choose five skill increases of +1 out of Courtesy, Design, Fitness, Martial Arts (Melee), Meditation, Sentiment, and Smithing.
I’ll take +1 Courtesy, +1 Martial Arts (Melee), +1 Sentiment, +1 Fitness, +1 Meditation
Available Techniques: Kata, Shuji, Rituals
Starting Techniques: he gains Iajitsu Cut: Rising Blade (something I noted on my reading – this is a rank 2 kata, but prerequisites are ignored for techniques gained during char gen), and can choose Shallow Waters or Weight of Duty as a beginning Shuji. I’ll choose Shallow Waters (helps the Grey Crane detect people’s desires and ninjo).
He has a starting Honor of 50 and the following School Ability and Equipment:
Way of the Crane (School Ability)
Starting Outfit: Travelling and ceremonial clothes, daisho, yari, travelling pack, attendant (I could have swapped the spear for a bow, and the attendant for a pony).
Q4: How does your character stand out within their school?
This is a choice to increase one Ring. I’m thinking the Greg in the Grey Crane will have made him stand out as being self-aware, insightful and mystical, so will take +1 Void
Part III: Honor & Glory
Q5. Who is your character’s lord and what is their duty to them?
Reading up on Kakita Toshimoko, he served with the Imperial Guard initially as an impulsive young samurai, but after worked alongside his father, Kakita Toshimo in the academy.
So, we’ll say his lord is also his father, Kakita Toshimo, and his duty, or giri, at present is to serve is an assistant instructor at the Kakita dueling academy.
Q6. What does your character long for?
Again, thinking of Greg, I’m going to say Toshimoko’s ninjo is spiritual enlightenment – this is more typically an aspiration for monks, shugenja, and those of the Dragon Clan so will certainly be a conflict for a Crane bushi, particularly one who is rather constrained by teaching in the dueling academy.
Q7. What is your character’s opinion of their Clan?
Despite his mystical side, Toshimoko thinks highly of his clan and wishes to serve them to the best of his ability. This grants him +5 Glory.
Q8. What does your character think of Bushido?
Kakita Toshimoko would endorse Bushido, and the Crane emphasis on Courtesy. 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’m thinking to combine his mystical side with his time with the Imperial forces – when a young samurai, patrolling near the wall, Toshimoko detected and defeated a Shadowlands infiltrator.
He gained the distinction Sixth Sense
Q10. What holds your character back the most in life?
Here I get to choose an adversity disadvantage. Hard to know for Toshimoko – in some of the literature of the setting, he enjoys his sake and the company of women but not to extent of being addicted or a compulsive flirt. However, issues of paternity crop for him as a NPC in the beginner box adventure, so I am going to select Bitter Betrothal – perhaps his tour of duty, and now the hours he spends at the academy, has lead to him neglecting his wife and family.
Q11. What activity makes your character feel at peace?
Here I get to pick a Passion linked to the Grey Crane’s hobbies and interests. Looking over the list, Enlightenment is an option and I think will enhance the shamanistic side of Greg I want to reflect.
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. It mentions the younger Toshimoko as impulsive so I will select the Impatience anxiety.
Q13. Who has your character learned the most from during their life?
I’m thinking the greatest influence on him will have been his father, Kakita Toshimo.
Here, I get to pick an advantage or a disadvantage and one rank in the a skill linked to the relationship.
Despite wanting to take another disadvantage so I can get +1 Theology, I can’t think of another which fits the character concept. So developing the impulsive bushi idea further, I’ll take Daredevil as an advantage.
Part V: Personality and Behavior
Q14. What do people notice first upon encountering your character?
He has a long plait down his back, he does not dye his hair as many Crane too, but even as a young man there are streaks of grey in his hair. He walks nimbly on the balls of his feet, never at rest, and in a scroll case he carries a copy of the Tao of Shinsei.
Q15. How does your character react to stressful situations?
He becomes more jocular and less respectful – this can extend to insulting people with immature jibes.
Q16. What are your character’s preexisting relationships with other clans, families, organisations, and traditions?
He had a close relationship with the Imperial Forces, with the Kakita Dueling Academy and has developed a friendship with a visiting Togashi monk.
As a gift, he received a finger of jade from the Imperial Guard.
Part VI: Ancestry and Family
Q17. How would your character’s parents describe them?
Toshimoko’s parents are proud of him – they would describe him as a promising young duelist and teacher, if slightly impulsive. They are concerned about his spiritual side, but are glad their son honors the Kami, the Fortunes, and the teachings of Shinsei.
Here I get to increase a skill by +1, and will take Theology to reflect the above tension and again Greg’s shamanism
Q18. Who was your character named to honor?
Slightly complex as Toshimoko is a diminutive version of Toshimo. However, like this step so perhaps can think where Toshimo comes from in family. I get to roll 2d10 on a random table to find out facts about ancestor named after, and can pick one of these ancestors and then a further d10 to find out more if indicated.
I rolled a 9 and 5. Looking at table 2-1, can pick Imperial Heritage or Discovery. Former fits more I think. Get +10 Status and the Blessed Lineage advantage.
Q19. What is your character’s personal name?
Toshimoko, reflecting he is the son of Toshimo.
Q20. How should your character die?
Toshimoko hopes leave behind the academy in the near future and die defending Crane lands against their enemies, or better, he wishes to re-join the Imperial Guard and defend the Emperor against the minions of Fu Leng, and die in this duty.
To sum up, The Grey Crane
School: Kakita Duelist School
School Rank: 1
Air Earth Fire Water Void
3 2 2 1 2
Ninjo: spiritual enlightenment
Giri: Assistant instructor at Kakita dueling academy.
Distinctions: Sixth Sense; Blessed Lineage.
Adversities: Bitter Betrothal
Passions: Enlightenment; Daredevil.
Personal Outburst: He becomes more jocular and less respectful – this can extend to insulting people with immature jibes.
Skills: Culture 1, Aesthetics 1, Courtesy 1, Martial Arts (Melee) 1, Sentiment 1, Fitness 1, Meditation 1, Theology 1.
School Ability: Way of the Crane.
Techniques: Kata – Iajitsu Cut: Rising Blade; Shuji – Shallow Waters.
Endurance Composure Focus Vigilance
8 6 5 2
Void Points: 2
Please let me know if I’ve got anything wrong! Vale The Grey Crane Greg Stafford,