Monday, September 27, 2010

Creating Spirit Characters: The Quick and Easy

Creating Spirit Characters
The Quick and Easy
by Dace

So before we begin I would like to state that when I sit down to come up with rules I tend to err on the side of what makes for a fun story. So a lot of my suggestions are in fact based on the idea of creating what I feel is a good story.

The Spirit rules found in Enemies of the Empire create a brief and quick way of making a Spirit character for the purpose of NPC building. This doesn't work so well for PC's.

Now allowing a Spirit character into the game does present some intresting problems. Some GM's may find them out right disruptive. Spirits have an alien mind set from the average Rokugani, being compled to respond more based on the nature of the realm they come from and their spirit nature than that of a samurai. Concepts like honor and bushido do not always come to them.

Other things that a GM must consider is that such characters have no lords. And if things get too sticky for them could merely disappear into the spirit realm they came from. Certain combitnations of spirit powers and schools must also be watched since the powers themselves were never tested against the schools.

With all that in mind let us begin.

The basic spirit character is built by using the base animal and then adding the to it the spirit quality and basic spirit powers based on the spirit itself. Most of these base animal traits can be found either in Enemies of the Empire or the Core Rule book.

Start off using the base stats given as the basic spirit of that character. Example, I'm building a Ryu spirit to interact with some PC's in my game. I anticpate heavy use of the character and therefore will build it as a basic character. We will call him Hiei.

Hiei basic starting stats will be the same as all Ryu (found on page 254 of EotE).


Air 4
Awareness 6
Earth 3
Fire 4
Intelligence 5
Water 3
Perception 4

It's intitatve will of course be recalculated based on the school, but I would keep it's Reduction. No matter the form after all it will still have those qualities. Though I would only allow it it's claw damage when Hiei is fighting in dragon form. It's claw damage and armor TN would only apply when in dragon form.

Now the Ryu have a couple of extra abilities. Shapeshifter, Swift, Spirit and Soul of a Dragon. The Shapeshifting ability will be put to good use when it comes time to chose which powers it has. As a GM I would only apply the Soul of a Dragon ability when Hiei is serving in the capacity of the Celestial Heavens. This is one of the reasons why the book notes that such characters can be disruptive

The next step is now to chose which spirit ablities the character will have. Since Hiei intends to interact as a mortal human Humanity is a must. Mimic also makes a good choice for a guy who intends to help guide other characters. Showing up in the guise of someone the characters might trust or just observing them with a new face from time to time. And finally a Panthers Move.

Three minor ablities require three minor penalties. So we'll go with Can't drink alcohol, Must always dress in colors of your natural form and You can't answer questions in a straight forward manner.

Now comes the tricky part, a school. Now for the more powerful creatures I believe in making them True Ronin in point spending. Even if we are choosing a great clan school, say Hiei wants to pretend to be an Asako monk, I do not believe that spirit characters who start out with an initially strong set of abilities should have more points during character generation.

So in general if it has several abilities on it's own, or will pick up many abilities (like the Kitsune) I recommend using the True Ronin CP. If it has only a handful of abilities, around 2, then I say go with the clan ronin. If it only has one ablity (epically one that will be taken up with the Humanity trait) then I would say go the full 45 CP that any starting character gets. Tsuru, Saru and Tanuki spirits spring to mind as spirits deserving of the standard character package.

Now as for schools. Such characters don't get a Family bonus, but they would get the School bonus. Most will have decent traits to start with anyway from their animal. I recommend keeping the same set of basic rings and traits no matter the form. Far less confusing that way.

School selection should be done based on background. A spirit who just walked out of the woods three weeks ago is best suited for Monk and Ronin schools. A spirit who has studied a clan however may be able to pick up or trick someone into teaching them techniques. I would require such characters however to have at least three ranks in Lore (Clan). A spirit that is trying to be an Asako should have some working knowledge of how the Phoenix and Asako work.

And there you have it. The quick and easy of making Spirit PC's.


  1. I would like to suggest a post speaking about duelists. As "yojimbo", they are more clan-versatile? For example, can I make a Akodo Bushi duelist? Problably, no hope for him face a Kakita, but maybe he can make some noise against a Shinjo Bushi, for instance.

  2. I have some idea's for duelist and ninja and even acting. I'm just readjust to school right now so I'm somewhat behind.

    Rest assured duelist is on my list of things to discuss.