Miscellaneous Schools

Miscellaneous Basic Schools

The Kenku Swordsman School

As stated, the Kenku are extremely discerning in regards to their techniques. A human student must either prove his worth to a Kenku sensei or be selected by a Kenku to receive training.

  • Benefit: +1 Reflexes
  • Skills: Defense, Hunting, Kenjutsu (Katana), Meditation, Tea Ceremony, any one Lore skill, any one Bugei Skill
  • Starting Outfit: Light or Heavy Armor, Daisho, Traveling Pack, 3 koku.


Rank 1: Wing of Thunder

The kenku bushi has learned to harness the speed of the wind itself, and can draw that element into himself. You may add the total of your Reflexes and School Rank to your Armor TN against any enemy with lower Initiative.

Rank 2 : Heaven’s Claw
The bushi has tapped the power of the thunderbolt, striking hard at his enemy’s weaknesses. Any time you inflict more than 10 points of damage with a single attack, your opponent loses one Void Point. Against opponents with no Void Points remaining (or no Void), you may instead re-roll a single damage die and take the better of the two results.

Rank 3 : Lightning Kiss
The kenku bushi has captured the swift fury of lightning. You may attack as a Simple Action while using any melee weapon in which you possess a Skill Emphasis.

Rank 4 : Churning Skies
The kenku bushi has learned to patiently build his energies, only to strike with thunderous power. If you choose to delay your Turn during a Round until after all your opponents have acted, you may ignore the effects of all Wound Penalties (including Down and Out) and your may spend any amount of your Void Points on your damage rolls during this Round.

Rank 5 : The Same Breeze
Even two leaves carried on the same breeze may take quite different paths. This is the final lesson of the kenku school. At the beginning of your Turn, you may take a Free Action and spend a Void Point to copy one bushi Technique of any other character (human or otherwise) within 20’ for a number of Rounds equal to your Air. You must abide by whatever costs and restrictions apply to the copied Technique (Void Point cost, specific armor or weapons, etc). If you are not a Kenku yourself, you must have seen the Technique you are copying used at least once. Regardless of whether you are human or Kenku, you may only copy one Technique at a time.

Kshatriya Warrior [Bushi]

This is the standard fighting school of the Ivory Kingdom’s kshatriya warrior caste, whose social role was roughly equivalent to a samurai. The kshatriya are now largely extinct, but a few survivors still carry on their fighting traditions, including Yoritomo Singh within the Mantis Clan. Under normal circumstances this School is only available to Ivinda natives of the kshatriya caste, although some of the techniques are now being studied by the Rokugani group calling itself the Rajya ke Varisa, trying to adapt them to Rokugani war-fighting.

  • Benefit: +1 Agility
  • Skills: Archery, Defense, Hand-to-Hand, Horsemanship, Lore: Theology (Ivory Kingdoms), Spears, Swordsmanship, any one appropriate High skill.
  • Integrity: 5.0
  • Outfit: Sword, shield, spear, bow, light armor, steed, elegant clothing, 10 koku (equivalent).


Rank 1: The Strength of Indra
Kshatriya are taught to be fearless warriors, relying on the strength of Indra the God of War. You gain a +1k0 bonus with all your School Weapon Skills. When rolling to resist a Fear effect, your Willpower is considered one Rank higher.

Rank 2: The Ward of Vishnu
Vishnu the Protector teaches the kshatriya to guard themselves even as they strike down their foes. If you are carrying a shield, on your Turn you may take a Simple Action to make a Contested Roll of Defense / Agility against one opponent’s [Weapon Skill] / Agility. If you succeed, that opponent must call three extra Raises to be able to strike you. This effect lasts until the start of your next Turn.

Rank 3: The Speed of the Mongoose
The kshatriya strikes with the speed of the legendary mongoose, enemy of serpents. You may make melee attacks as a Simple Action when fighting with a sword, spear, or unarmed.

Rank 4: The Virtue of the Gods
Your attacks are infused with the virtues of the Gods. Once per skirmish after a successful attack you may spend a Void Point to add a number of unkept dice to your DR equal to your Rank in Lore: Theology (Ivory Kingdoms).

Rank 5: The Courage of Shiva
The final lesson of the kshatriya is to never give up, even in the face of terror or certain death. You gain an additional +1k1 to resist Fear effects. If you are reduced to Out or Dead, on your next Turn you may take one final Simple Action which suffers no Wound penalties.

Sainika Fighter [Guru]

The culture of the Ivory Kingdoms has its own martial arts tradition, dating back to ancient times before the land was unified by the Maharajah. The tradition was maintained by the gurus, wise men drawn from the brahmin caste, who saw it as being as much a religious devotion as a fighting art. They taught some of their techniques to the kshatriya caste, from which they eventually migrated into the Cult of the Destroyer, but the gurus retained the true secrets of their arts.
Since the fall of the Kingdoms, Sainika has been fading away as the remaining gurus age and die without students. The handful of surviving gurus are deeply concerned about this and many of them are actively seeking students to preserve their techniques; it is possible an open-minded Rokugani might be able to take on this role

  • Benefit: +1 Void
  • Skills: Athletics, Defense, Hand-to-Hand, Knives, Lore: Theology (Ivory Kingdoms), Medicine, Meditation, any one High skill.
  • Integrity: 6.0
  • Outfit: Simple clothing, knife, sandals
  • Special: The gurus live extremely simple lives of self-denial and religious devotion. In game terms, any student of Sainika will be expected to take up an Ascetic lifestyle.


Rank 1: Harmony
Through a rigorous program of physical training and intense meditation, the beginning student of Sainika learns physical flexibility, spiritual harmony, and the basics of defense, making himself more difficult to harm both physically and mentally. You may add your Void Rank to your Armor TN. You may also add your Void Rank in unkept dice to any Contested Roll you make to resist Social Skill Rolls, Social Techniques, and Fear effects.

Rank 2: Vision
The sainika fighter studies his opponent, gaining insight into his strengths and weaknesses so as to exploit them in action. During a skirmish, you may spend a Void Point and take a Simple Action to assess your opponent. For the remainder of that skirmish, you gain a +Xk0 bonus to your attack rolls against that opponent, where X is the opponent’s lowest Trait.

Rank 3: Understanding
At this level, practitioners of sainika gain an all but supernatural awareness of their surroundings, rendering them impossible to surprise. You roll additional dice on all Perception-based rolls equal to your Void Rank.

Rank 4: Unity
The advanced sainika fighter moves fluidly from one target to the next, as both offense and defense become a single integrated action. When fighting unarmed or with a knife, you may make attacks as a Simple Action.

Rank 5: Purity
True masters of sainika can deliver blows that cripple not only the body but the spirit. When attacking an opponent with an unarmed blow or a knife, you may spend a Void Point to also strike at the opponent’s spiritual being. If your attack hits, you make a Contested Void roll against the opponent. (The GM may substitute Willpower for creatures which do not have a Void Ring.) With a success, the opponent suffers a -Xk0 penalty (where X is your Void Rank) on his Skill Rolls. This lasts until the third Reactions Stage from now.
Your attack still does normal physical damage in addition to this effect. The spiritual effects of this Technique cannot be stacked, although the duration can be extended by using it again on later Rounds.

Miscellaneous Alternate Paths

Agents of the Second Gozoku

Despite his genuine affection for his sister, Hantei Naseru uses his influence and connections to resurrect the Gozoku conspiracy, an organization defunct since the fifth century. The goal of the Second Gozoku is not to overthrow the Empress but rather to ensure her rule is prosperous despite her own shortcomings. Naseru and his allies among the Scorpion Clan are well aware of the hindrance Honor brings with it, and seek to ensure their beloved Empress flourishes by taking the steps she cannot, doing what must be done regardless of the consequences.

  • Technique Rank: 2
  • Replaces: Any School 2
  • Requirements: Honor Rank of 4 or less. Must have Obligation to the Second Gozoku or its leader.
  • Technique: To Shield the Empress – The members of the Second Gozoku believe they do what they must to protect the Empress from the harsh realities of rule, and this philosophy in turn protects them from the worst excesses they must embrace. Whenever you take an action that would result in a loss of Honor, if by taking this action you spare Honor or Glory loss to someone of higher Status Rank than you, the loss is halved (rounded down).

The Amethyst Champion [CR]

The Crown of the Amethyst Champion is a mysterious artifact capable of granting wealth and power to its bearer, as long as he remains pure of soul. The Amethyst Champion holds this nemuranai with him and must prove his strength of will over all temptations. The Amethyst Champion holds the welfare of the people at heart and speaks as the representative of their desires.

  • Replaces: Any – may voluntarily take upon advancing in Rank or wait until a later Rank
  • Requirements: Courtier only
  • Technique: The Emperor’s Voice – The Amethyst Champion brings the voice of the Emperor and the Imperial Court to those who cannot attend the Imperial Court. As such, the Champion is a master at dealing with any threats to the sanctity of the Emperor’s Court. As a Free Action, you may spend a Void Point to temporarily gain the ability to use any courtier Technique that has been used against you in the past seven days’ time.

The Bloodspeaker Technique

The secret methods of the Bloodspeaker Cult were pioneered
by Iuchiban himself and passed down through his chief apprentice, Yajinden, to other members of the cult. Only those of the Bloodspeakers who are high-ranking and knowledgeable enough to understand that Maho is the true source of the cult’s strength are allowed to learn this technique. The Bloodspeakers make no distinction between social caste, and have taught their secrets to samurai of all types, to peasants, and even to eta.

  • Rank: Any
  • Replaces: Any
  • Requirement: Can only be learned from a senior member of the Bloodspeaker Cult.
  • Special Notes: This technique can be taught to anyone, samurai or commoner, and can replace Techniques at any Insight Rank. If it is learned by a samurai at Rank 1, it replaces the samurai’s Rank One Technique and reduces the samurai’s starting Honor to 1.0, but does not affect the samurai’s Outfit or starting Skills.
  • Technique: Iuchiban’s Method – The high-ranking Bloodspeakers realize they are meddling with the Taint, but have learned ways to mitigate this, in part by shunting the corruption off onto their misguided followers. You learn two Maho spells of your choice and gain a Free Raise for Spell Casting Rolls with Maho spells. When casting a Maho spell, you may reduce the amount of Taint you gain by 1 point for every 2 additional Wounds you take when casting the spell. (This cannot decrease the Taint gain below 1 point.) However, if you are using someone else’s blood to power the spell, you may instead use this technique to transfer the Taint for the spell onto that person, at the rate of 1 point of Taint for every 2 extra Wounds inflicted. This can reduce your own Taint gain to 0.

Chrysanthemum Conspirator

The reign of the Steel Chrysanthemum was one of the most heinous time periods of Rokugan’s history, and the excesses of the Emperor were such that he drove his own mother and brother – along with many other men and women of honor – to join together in secret to oppose him. The terrible crime of regicide, an act normally regarded as absolute blasphemy and among the greatest sins comprehensible in the Empire of Rokugan, became the only viable option.
Otomo Nazeru created the Technique of this group, but stopped teaching it to others the moment his older brother died. Nonetheless, it is possible the Technique might be preserved into later eras, or even recreated by a different group rebelling against a tyrant. (Timelines such as a Thousand Years of Darkness would be good settings for this Technique.)

  • Technique Rank: 2
  • Replaces: Any Bushi or Courtier School at Rank 2
  • Requirements: You must have the Disadvantage Dark Secret (Rebel)
  • Technique: No Course but One – Those who conspire against the Steel Chrysanthemum place greater value on Honor than on social status or Imperial authority. You gain a Free Raise on any attack roll made against an opponent whose Status Rank exceeds their Honor Rank.

Dragon Channeler [BoV]

  • Technique Rank: 6
  • Replaces: N/A (must be a Rank 5 shugenja)
  • Requires: At least one Ring at Rank 5 or higher, at least two other Rings at Rank 4 or higher, Meditation 5, Spellcraft 5, Lore: Theology 5
  • Special: A character can only become a Dragon Channeler if he or she is either personally chosen by the Elemental Dragons or personally trained by an existing Dragon Channeler.
  • Technique: Beseech the Dragons – You lose any Affinities and Deficiencies you had prior to becoming a Dragon Channeler, instead gaining an Affinity for Dragon Spells. Your normal spell slots are reduced by 2 in each Ring; in return, you gain three “Dragon Spell Slots” which can only be used to invoke the powers of the Dragons via Dragon Spells (see below). You may spend Void Points to cast additional Dragon spells when your slots are exhausted. Dragon spell slots do not recover from rest – you may only regain them by sustained meditation (two hours of uninterrupted meditation and Meditation/Void at TN 30 to regain one slot).

GM’s Option: Some GMs may wish to create a connection between the Dragon Channelers and the Chosen by the Oracles Advantage (due to the link between the Oracles and the Dragons). If this is desired, a character with Chosen by the Oracles starts with four Dragon Spell slots rather than three.

The Emerald Champion [CR]

The Emperor cannot travel to the far reaches of Rokugan, so the Emerald Champion serves as his proxy in all ways. The Emerald Champion personally guards the Emperor and holds authority even over the Great Clan Champions. He leads the Emerald Magistrates and must often command the armies of the Emperor when threats arise.

  • Replaces: Any – may voluntarily take upon advancing in Rank or wait until a later Rank
  • Requirements: Bushi only
  • Technique: The Emperor’s Hand – The Emerald Champion is the hand of the Emperor, and the champion of his laws. You gain a bonus of +1k1 on all High and Bugei Skill Rolls, and an additional +1k0 on all your School Skills. You also gain a number of bonus Void Points per day equal to your highest Ring. These Void Points may be granted to any one subordinate or ally in your line of sight for use on any appropriate skill roll. Granting these bonus Void Points in this manner is a Free Action, but may only be done once per Round. You may not use these bonus Void Points yourself.

Emerald Magistrate [CR]

The Emerald Magistrates directly impose Imperial Law upon the land. Their jurisdiction has no boundaries and their actions are reversed only by the Emperor and the Emerald Champion. Appointments to the Emerald Magistrates are sometimes handled through politics and bribes, as the prestige of an Emerald Magistrate can elevate his entire family.

  • Replaces: Any Bushi, Courtier, or Shugenja School, Rank 4
  • Requirements: Investigation 3, Lore: Law 3, and must receive an appointment as an Emerald Magistrate before this Path can be entered
  • Special: Members of the Imperial families may ignore one Skill Rank requirement
  • Technique: Honor Is My Shield – Those who enforce the Emperor’s laws are among the most virtuous souls, and that is their protection. You gain Reduction equal to half your Honor Rank, rounded up. This effect is cumulative with Reduction you may have from other sources, including armor. Note: This Path will frequently be taken by bushi characters. If the character is from a School that makes attacks Simple Actions at Rank 4, a generous GM may opt to let the character select this Path at Rank 3 or Rank 5 instead.

Gozoku Agent [Courtier]

The first Gozoku is perhaps the most wide-ranking and cosmopolitan conspiracy in the Empire’s history, and it is certainly the most successful despite its relatively short duration and ultimate failure. (Unlike the far longer-lived Kolat, the Gozoku actually manage to seize the power they want and hold it for over a generation.) The beneficial effects accomplished in the name of the Empire during the Gozoku’s reign is something never honestly discussed in subsequent centuries, but the most intelligent and objective of Rokugan’s historians are keenly aware of the economic growth and artistic flowering which took place under the conspiracy’s rule. Perhaps this is why the Gozoku found it relatively easy to recruit agents from virtually every clan and family in the Empire.

Agents of the Gozoku were able to move among the courts of the Empire with near impunity, as their thinly veiled status as members of the conspiracy protected them from all but the most adamant Imperial loyalists. Few wished to risk the wrath of the Gozoku by acting openly against their representatives. (Perhaps unsurprisingly, only the Lion courts were relatively free of this level of brazen impudence.) It was perhaps these very tendencies that undid the Gozoku; while most of the original members had only the best intentions at heart, a great number among those who served them (and indeed some among their number as well) came to regard the Gozoku as nothing more than a means of seizing personal power and prestige at the expense of others.

This eventually led to a sharp divide among Gozoku agents. The more altruistic members of the Gozoku took after the original vision of Raigu and Gaijushiko: they genuinely sought to better the Empire and the lives of its citizens, and used their abilities to secure whatever was necessary to make this happen. Their counterparts, however, followed the path of Atsuki: they were petty and selfish, and preferred to use the threat of the Gozoku to garner increasing amounts of influence for their own purposes (which sometimes did not coincide with those of the conspiracy at all).

The technique of the Gozoku agents was originally created by Bayushi Atsuki, but he shared them with the other two founders of the conspiracy; all three men taught the technique to their immediate followers, from whom it spread through the conspiracy. Historically, the technique dies out as soon as the Gozoku are purged, but is revived by Atsuki when he returns to the Empire through Oblivion’s Gate in the twelfth century. GMs who wish to diverge from the historical pattern, however, may rule that the technique survives among Gozoku loyalists (especially if the “underground Gozoku” option is used). The technique may also be used to enhance the depiction of any other political conspiracy that recruits agents from multiples factions or clans, such as the Kolat in the various historical settings or the conspiracy of the Three Old Men in the Heroes of Rokugan setting.

  • Technique Rank: 2
  • Replaces: Any Basic School at Rank 2
  • Requirements: Forbidden Knowledge (Gozoku) Advantage
  • Technique: Overwhelming Presence – The agents of the Gozoku conspiracy were feared for the power they could bring to bear on any who dared oppose them in court. You may add your rank in the Intimidate Skill to the total of all Social Skill Rolls you make against individuals who are not members of the Gozoku.

Imperial Legionnaire [CR]

The Imperial Legions are filled with the brightest and bravest samurai from all the Clans, chosen to directly serve the Emperor’s will. The Imperial Legionnaire trains with the most prestigious sensei of the land and sees service against those who threaten the safety of the Empire (such as foreign invasions or mighty maho-tsukai). An appointment to the Imperial Legions nearly guarantees a bright and celebrated future for any samurai.

  • Replaces: Any Bushi School, Rank 2
  • Requirements: Glory 2+, must receive an appointment to the Imperial Legions before this Path can be entered
  • Technique: Strength of the Empire – The strength of the Emperor is exerted via the actions of his loyal legions. When fighting alongside other members of the Imperial legions, or alongside Emerald or Jade Magistrates, when you spend a Void Point to enhance a roll you also gain a bonus to the roll equal to the number of allied legionnaires and/or magistrates within 25 feet.

The Jade Champion [CR]

When the Empire is in need, it calls the greatest shugenja to serve as the Jade Champion. This guardian scours the land of magical corruption and demonic forces to keep Rokugan pure. While each Jade Champion has personally chosen the focus of his duties, most consider the eradication of maho their greatest responsibility.

  • Replaces: Any – may voluntarily take upon advancing in Rank or wait until a later Rank
  • Requirements: Shugenja only
  • Technique: The Emperor’s Will – The Jade Champion is the enforcer of the Emperor’s laws related to magic and religion. You gain a Free Raise on all Spell Casting Rolls. When confronting an opponent who practices any form of outlawed magic (maho, yobanjin shamanism, any form of gaijin sorcery, etc.) or who possesses corrupt supernatural abilities (the Shadowlands Taint or corruption by the Lying Darkness), you gain an additional Free Raise on your Spell Casting Roll.

Jade Legionnaire [CR]

The Jade Champion has access to many resources within Rokugan, but the Jade Legion is his personal, highly trained force. This force does whatever the Jade Champion requires and their exploits against the Empire’s enemies often go unsung. Legionnaires are trained to fight alongside shugenja and to armor their pure souls against the dank corruption of their enemies.

  • Replaces: Any Bushi or Shugenja School, Rank 2
  • Requirements: Glory 2+, must receive an appointment to the Jade Legion before this Path can be taken
  • Technique: Purity in Purpose & Deed – The Jade Legionnaires accompany the Jade Magistrates against the most dangerous, most insidious, and most numerous of the Empire’s magical threats. If your Honor Rank is higher than that of your opponent, you may add the difference between the two to the total of all your attack and damage rolls made against that opponent. For the purposes of this Technique, all creatures and other opponents who do not possess an Honor Rank are assumed to have an Honor Rank of 0.

Jade Magistrate [CR]

The Jade Champion combats criminals who abuse the arcane, and his magistrates enforce his will. The Jade Magistrates are trained to recognize these crimes and quickly dispense justice. These warriors mainly hunt maho-tsukai and Bloodspeakers, all those who perform profane magic within the Empire’s borders.

  • Replaces: Any Bushi, Courtier, or Shugenja School, Rank 4
  • Requirements: Lore: Law 3, Spellcraft 3, must receive an appointment as Jade Magistrate before this Path can be entered
  • Special: Members of the Imperial families may ignore one Skill Rank requirement
  • Technique: Scent of the Kami – A servant of the Jade Champion is a master at deciphering the mysteries of the kami. You may make a Perception / Spellcraft Skill Roll to identify any spells cast in an area during the past forty-eight hours. The TN for this roll is equal to the basic TN to cast the spell in question (which is to say its Mastery Level x 5, plus 5).

Kenburo’s Way [Bushi] [IH]

Akodo Kenburo devised his dueling technique while he was a young ronin, roaming the streets and confronting other ronin, criminals, and thugs. During his tenure as Emerald Champion he taught the technique to a few of his most trusted magistrates, and after his death they preserved it within the Ruby Dojo and passed it down to later generations. Kenburo’s core tenet was that it was not the fastest, strongest, or most skilled duelist who won the duel, but the duelist who most frightens his opponent. “Break their spirit and their skill doesn’t matter,” he commented. “Make them think they are certain to die and even the boldest samurai will falter.”
Kenburo’s Way is only known within the Ruby Dojo and is thus normally only available to Emerald and Jade Magistrates. However, given that it was originally devised by Kenburo while he was a ronin, GMs may also wish to experiment with making the technique available to other ronin—after all, who knows whether Kenburo taught it to anyone before he won the Emerald Championship?

  • Requirements: Intimidation 5, Iaijutsu 5. Must be a student of the Ruby Dojo.
  • Technique: The Butcher’s Gaze – During an iaijutsu duel, before Assessment rolls are made, you may spend a Void Point to take a Free Action and make a Contested Intimidation/Willpower roll against your opponent. (This is considered a Fear effect for the purpose of abilities and mechanics that resist Fear.) If you win the Contested Roll, your opponent’s dice do not explode on his Assessment and Focus rolls for this duel.

Kolat Master [EoE]

The Ten Kolat Masters are among the most devious, manipulative, and ruthless individuals in the entire Emerald Empire. Only ten exist at any one time, and they generally achieve their position by rising through the ranks of the conspiracy, demonstrating great loyalty, adaptability, and efficiency… or great ability to forge alliances with other Kolat. Regardless, no one becomes a Kolat Master without years of dedicated service to the conspiracy.

  • Technique Rank: 6 (can also be taken at Insight Ranks above 6)
  • Replaces: Any Technique (or none) at Insight Rank 6 or higher
  • Required Rings/Traits: Two mental Traits at 5 or higher
  • Required Skills: Courtier (Manipulation) 5, Intimidation (Control) 4
  • Other Requirements: Must be a member of the Kolat conspiracy and chosen to lead one of the ten Sects. Cannot be Tainted or corrupted by the Nothing.
  • Technique: Will of the Master – The ten Kolat Masters exert total control over the conspiracy. All members of their Sect are answerable to them and other Kolat will show them the greatest of respect and deference. You are considered to be Status 10 to any character who is a member of the Kolat conspiracy and who belongs to your Sect, and Status 9 to any character who is a Kolat but not of your Sect. You gain +2k0 on all Courtier and Intimidation Skill rolls.

Order of the Stone Crab [Bushi]

Hida Tsuneo, known as the Stone Crab, was the trusted follower and personal champion of the Steel Chrysanthemum. He was a man of honor and skill whose unfortunate complete loyalty to his Emperor led him to commit a long series of horrific atrocities regardless of the cost to his own soul. Unfortunately, many among his own clan also embraced his willingness to commit horrors for his lord. The warriors who followed in his wake exemplified cruelty and horror, becoming the worst caricatures of what samurai are meant to be. The Technique they developed did not long survive Hida Tsuneo’s death, since within a month’s time all known members were dead from seppuku or shameful public execution.
GMs who wish to make broader use of this Path can have it depict ruthless groups in other eras who are committed to a villain (or anti-hero). For example, the Technique could represent followers of Akodo Gintaku in the Heroes of Rokugan setting, or followers of Hida Kisada during the Clan Wars.

  • Technique Rank: 4
  • Replaces: Any Bushi School (of appropriate clan) at Rank 4
  • Requirements: Must have an Honor Rank lower than 5.0
  • Technique: Scorn the Weak – Members of the Order of Stone are known for their particular relish in crushing those weaker than themselves, exploiting any weaknesses they might find. When attacking human opponents, you gain a bonus of +1k1 on your attack rolls for each Physical Disadvantage they possess.

Imperial Explorers

The Imperial Explorers are the most recently created facet of the Imperial bureaucracy, one that is limited entirely to the Colonies. The Explorers were created to break the stranglehold on exploration by the Spider and Mantis clans, allowing the Imperial families to maintain control over the situation in the Colonies. They were initially founded based on the recommendation of the first Imperial Governor, who received the permission of the Divine Empress to create them. At the Governor’s command a group of sensei were assembled from multiple clans; they were housed in a training compound a day’s travel south of the Second City, and young and ambitious samurai from the various clan delegation were nominated for training.
Young samurai who join the Explorers endure a minimum of a year’s training before they are considered fit for active duty on the frontier, and typically operate in teams for greater safety. Anything they discover during that time becomes the property of the Imperial families. After the first year, Explorers are permitted to operate on their own and any resources they find are divided evenly between the Imperial families and the Explorer’s clan. For this reason, the clans tend to send only talented and loyal young samurai to join the Explorers, hoping thereby to eventually enhance their own prosperity.

  • Technique Rank: 2
  • Replaces: Any Bushi School at Rank 2
  • Requirements: Lore: Cartography 3
  • Technique: Seeking New Paths – An Imperial Explorer forges the way for the vassals of the Empress to follow. You gain Absolute Direction if you did not already possess that Advantage, and you gain a bonus of +1k0 to the total of all Bugei Skill Rolls made in a region for which you possess the Way of the Land Advantage. After spending at least two days in any city or province-sized area, you may make an Intelligence / Lore: Cartography Skill Roll (TN 20) to create a map of that region. Anyone who possesses the map is considered to have the Way of the Land Advantage for that region as long as they keep the map in their possession.

The Ruby Champion [CR]

The Emerald Magistrates function as servants of Imperial law and their teacher must prepare them for work in the field. The Ruby Champion is the sensei of the Emerald Magistrates and is an authority on law and kenjutsu. The Ruby Champion’s students march into battle fully confident of their abilities.

  • Replaces: Any – may voluntarily take upon advancing in Rank or wait until a later Rank
  • Requirements: Bushi only
  • Technique: Master of the Dojo – The Ruby Champion is among the greatest sensei in the Empire, and can inspire those under his command to almost unparalleled heights. When fighting alongside allies under your command, you may spend a Void Point as a Complex Action to allow any one ally within line of sight to use one of your Techniques as if that ally were a member of your School of equivalent rank. This effect lasts until the start of your next Turn.

Serpent Hunter [Bushi]

Since the death of the first Imperial Governor of the Colonies, the variant of Naga unique to the Colonies have presented an increased threat to the citizens of that region. Prior to that time the beasts were dangerous but essentially little more than powerful animals. With the influence of the Dark Naga, however, the creatures became more cunning and capable of acting in groups, albeit in a limited capacity. This made them a significant problem for travelers in the remote regions of the jungle, and the Mantis and Spider Clans in particular had difficulty with the Nagah.
As a result, a small sect of warriors has sprung up within the Colonies, men and women dedicated to the eradication of the Nagah at all costs. These individuals are frequently sought out by explorers and merchants who require protection while traveling in lightly populated or unexplored regions. These so-called Serpent Hunters are skilled not only in the combating of such foes but also in tracking them, as well as knowing the basic aspects of Naga culture.

  • Technique Rank: Variable
  • Replaces: Any Bushi School Rank that awards an attack as a Simple Action
  • Requirements: Lore: Naga 3, Hunting 3
  • Technique: Blood of the Serpent – The warriors who have made it their duty to hunt the feral Nagah of the Colonies excel in the execution of their prey. You may make attacks as a Simple Action instead of a Complex Action when wielding melee weapons with the Samurai quality. When facing a Naga opponent of any kind, however, you may make attacks as a Simple Action with any weapon.

Second City Guardsman [Bushi]

Without question the most elite and prestigious military unit in the Colonies is the Second City Guardsmen. They were formed early in the colonization of the former Ivory Kingdoms, when the Second City was little more than a village of tents and ramshackle buildings. Agents of the Cult of Ruhmal, still active in the region, attempted to assassinate the group of military officers who formed the fledgling city’s leadership (at this point the position of Imperial Governor had not yet been created). The attack was thwarted by a handful of sentries and vigilant samurai in the area, and the cultists were slain to the last man. The highest-ranking officer in the city immediately ordered these samurai to form a new unit, one solely tasked with ensuring the safety of the city and all within it. Decades later, the Second City Guardsmen are revered throughout the Colonies for their near-flawless track record, protecting the city and its inhabitants from all manner of threats. However, this record suffered a severe blemish when the previous Governor was assassinated. In the wake of his death, the commander of the Second City Guardsman, Akodo Tsudoken, took control of the city until a replacement Governor could arrive from the Empire. Anguished over his failure, Tsudoken instituted several draconian measures intended to root out any remaining threats within the city; these alienated the populace and tarnished the repute of the unit. Comparisons to the Seppun family’s failure to protect Emperors in previous eras became common. Even after the source of the attack was finally revealed, the Second City Guardsmen continued to suffer a damaged reputation for quite some time.
It may be noted that the Second City Guardsmen include shugenja in their ranks; however, since they are primarily a military organization and the vast bulk of their ranks are bushi, the only actual Technique they have developed is a bushi Technique.

  • Technique Rank: 2
  • Replaces: Any Bushi School at Rank 2
  • Requirements: Defense 4, any one Weapon Skill at 4
  • Technique: The Governor’s Armor – The Second City Guardsmen are among the most prestigious groups in all of the Colonies. Your Status Rank is considered one higher throughout the Colonial territories. When you are fighting within the Second City or another city-sized Colonial settlement, and you are in the Defense or Full Defense Stance, if your opponent attacks and misses you before your Turn for the Round you may immediately change your Stance to Attack. You lose all bonuses to your Armor TN from your previous Stance.

The Topaz Champion [CR]

Every year, the village of Tsuma in the Crane lands is host to the greatest gempukku ceremony in Rokugan. The person who proves himself or herself the worthiest samurai becomes the Topaz Champion for that year. Since the contest is heavily weighted toward martial competitions (especially iaijutsu), bushi tend to dominate the Topaz Championship.

  • Replaces: Any – may voluntarily take upon advancing in Rank or wait until a later Rank
  • Technique: Soul of Promise – The Topaz Champion is among the best and brightest of each generation. When you advance in Insight Rank and into this Path, you gain the Technique it would normally replace. You also gain a number of bonus Void Points per day equal to your highest Ring. You may spend these just like normal Void Points (with all the normal restrictions), but they may only be used to enhance your School Skill Rolls.

Playable Returned Spirits

Playing a Spirit PC

If a GM is prepared to allow returned spirits as PCs, there are several important considerations. First of all, such a PC gains some meaningful advantages from his spirit nature, something which may lead to accusations of unfairness. Secondly, while roleplaying a character misplaced in time can certainly be fun, it is also challenging to do effectively while not interfering with the overall flow of the game or claiming disproportionate attention. This can be a particular problem in clans like the Unicorn where the presence of a spirit may automatically lead to conflict and throw obstacles in front of the group. GMs and players must also be wary of “metagaming” (whether deliberate or inadvertent), since the spirit PC will have great knowledge of past events but little to no understanding of the current era. A returned spirit (whether PC or NPC) is always clearly recognizable as such, because their exposed skin glows softly but distinctly with a golden light. This makes their nature impossible to conceal and also makes it somewhat difficult for them to employ stealth—which may explain why Hantei XVI was so willing to go along with Bayushi Paneki’s declaration that the Scorpion would support both sides.

The exposed skin of a returned spirit glows with a soft golden light. The glow will not penetrate clothing or armor that is completely opaque but otherwise cannot be obscured and only fades when the spirit dies. The spilled blood of a returned spirit glows in a similar way until the blood dries. Mechanically, a returned spirit (whether NPC or PC) can be represented by applying the following Special Ability to a human character from any clan or school.

  • The greater toughness of returned spirits grants them Reduction 3 (0 against jade, crystal, or obsidian).
  • They have one rank of the Magic Resistance Advantage. This does not function against spells with the Jade, Crystal, or Obsidian keywords, or spells that are specifically described as affecting spirits. (Additional Ranks of Magic Resistance still cost 4 or 6 Experience Points to purchase.)
  • For the purposes of healing Wounds, resisting poison, and resisting the effects of Fatigue, Fasting, and Drowning, a returned spirit is considered to have a Stamina two Ranks higher than his actual Stamina.
  • Returned spirits have three Ranks of the Lore skill in the Spirit Realm of their origin—generally Meido, Yomi, or Toshigoku.
  • Returned spirits suffer a –2k1 penalty to Stealth rolls in any situation where their glow may give them away (GM’s discretion).
  • All returned spirits have the Cursed By the Realm Disadvantage pertaining to the Spirit Realm from which they originate. They receive no Experience Points for this Disadvantage.

Blessed Guard

Samurai from every century of Rokugan’s long history reside within Yomi’s borders. The Blessed Guard, an elite unit of shiryo, chooses only the best to join its ranks. Members of the Blessed Guard are the finest heroes ever produced by the human race, and can hold their heads up proudly even amid the inhabitants of Yomi.

Every member of the Blessed Guard was once a normal ancestor, yet each of these samurai have earned great importance in Yomi. As Yomi is a Spirit Realm that looks favorably on the humans living in Rokugan, the enemies of Rokugan regularly attempt to destroy it. The denizens of Yomi needed to protect themselves from the predations of Jigoku, Gaki-do, and Toshigoku. Out of this need arose the Blessed Guard.

  • Rank: 6
  • Replaces: N/A
  • Requires: Member of the Blessed Guard; Rang 5 or higher.
  • Technique Light of Yomi – Once per skirmish, a Blessed Guard may take a Complex Action to target an opponent with lower Honor Rank (creatures without an Honor Rank are considered to have 0 Honor for the purposes of this ability). That opponent may not perform any Complex or Simple Actions during his next Turn.