Sunday, January 23, 2011



With added input from Rixy

A recent thread in the 4th Edition Forums made me think that having an article on Infamy may be useful. Infamy was one of those area's I took a particular interest in during the initial development phase of PT. I found the 3rd Edition to be somewhat confusing and problematic in it's implementation.

In 4th Edition Infamy is it's own separate rank. It works similar to Glory only you start gaining it for doing “bad” things. Now I define bad very loosely here. It could be better stated that it's gained for more villainous deeds. Being bad alone isn't going to gain you Infamy. For instance being dishonorable isn't going to make you Infamous. Not a lone anyway. However someone who gains a reputation for always being dishonorable is like to gain Infamy.

Thus Infamy is gained in two fashion. First by taking the disadvantage of Infamous. This turns all your starting Glory into Infamy. Secondly at any time that the GM feels that the deeds you have down will make you more well known, but in a negative light.

This is a very thin line. In many cases it will come down to how you did something. For instance winning a major battle will normally gain you Glory. However if you win the battle by being ruthless, slaughter the opposing army down to the man then gaining Infamy is more appropriate.

Things like dishonorable actions, murder and blasphemy can also gain you ranks in Infamy. Or it can cause you to simply lose Glory as people work to forget about what you did as opposed to remembering what you did. Such a choice is up to the GM and really comes down to how he wants the character remembered or forgotten.

Many of the gains on the Glory chart work equally well for gaining Infamy. It just now becomes a matter of the character being remembered in a negative light. And once a character starts gaining Infamy odds favor all future Glory gains will raise his Infamy instead of raising his Glory. After all once you start doing bad things people tend to associate those bad things with you no matter what you do.

It takes a lot of work for a character to have both Glory and Infamy. Such a character has to work very hard to make sure that people are hearing both sides of the story. Or are seeing his good actions as separate from his bad actions.

So in general a character is normally gaining one or the other.

What follows are some conditions that may make one Infamous.

Duels – If it's one thing Rokugani like it's dueling. Well maybe two or three things. While dueling is a glorious thing there are situations in which a samurai can gain a bad reputation from it. Such as

Underground dueling – Not all duels are legal. Some samurai build a reputation for dueling when they aren't sanctioned to do so by their lords. These type of duels can also include duels to the death.

Cruel Duelist – such a person is gaining a reputation for being cruel during a duel. This could be for injuring people in a duel to first blood to being brutal during duels to the death.
Dishonor – I wouldn't award Infamy for dishonor. That's already reflected in having a low honor score. However particular acts of dishonorable behavior could be enough to gain infamy.

War – War is the perfect place for a samurai to gain Infamy.

Merciless – Compassion is a virtue. Not acting with it though can mark one as a merciless opponent.

Court – Courtier's are a dangerous lot. People like Kaukatsu don't always gain a positive reputation in the courts.

Doing Something Different with Infamy

An adventurous GM may consider doing a few things different with Infamy. For example you could take Hero of the People and create a version of it for individuals who are more feared by the common folk than they are by samurai. One could call it Villain of the People.

Also much like how Glory can be situational based on region and local one could also apply it to Infamy. A character may be more well known in Phoenix lands for his acts of villainy than he is in Unicorn lands. It is also possible to award a character with temporary ranks of Infamy depending on where he is at.

Take the case of one …. Hida Sozen. Born a Dragon, joined the Crab. Reached enlightenment by punching rocks. Kills oni with his bare hands. In Crab lands (and most parts of the empire) he is a samurai to be respected. He is a brave and mighty warrior. One of the best the Crab have to offer.

But in Asahina lands he is likely known as a vile and bastardly destroyer of art. A GM would be well with in his rights to award a character like Sozen (who would normally have Glory) with ranks of Infamy for the duration of his stay in Crane lands. This would represent the negative reception such a character as Sozen would receive while visiting with Crane. This Infamy could even apply outside of Crane lands specifically to Crane characters.

This would of course create a bit more bookkeeping for the GM, but is something worth considering.

As a finally wrap up here are some characters one might consider as examples of those who would possess Infamy.

Bayushi Shoju – One of the most famous Scorpion characters to grace this game. Shoju did the impossible. He killed an Emperor and seized the throne. His goal was noble (to stop Fu Leng from being reborn) but such actions will always make a person go down in history as the lowest of the low.

Bayushi Kaukatsu – A terror in the courts. He ruled them with an iron fist and made the courts yet another instrument in the Scorpions aresonal. A man with few contemporaries (and a man that out lived them) a single word from him could end your career if not your life.

Moto Chagatai – The Unicorn Khan. An ambitious man who sought to bring prestige and respect to his clan. Defeating the Lion during the War of the Rich Frog, Chagatai sacked the imperial city, killed Lion Champion's as if they were small children and even killed a man thought to be his equal (Kaneka). His actions brought down the ruin of the Imperial court and the end of the Toturi dynasty.

Hida Sozen – While I am of the personal opinion that Sozen as a character isn't infamous Rixy in a discussion did bring up some solid points about him. A man to be feared. One of the best examples of what it means to be a Crab, despite being born a Dragon. Enlightened. Battle hardened. And a name you don't want to repeat if you want to stay in the Crane's good graces. Upon the orders of his clan champion Hida Koun and the Jade Champion Kuni Daigo, Sozen goes into Asahina lands to retrieve the much needed jade for an assault into the unforgiving wasteland. Sozen being a practical man obtains this jade the only way he knows how, over the tears of sorrow of the Crane as he destroys their artwork.

Daigotsu – Daigotsu's list of crimes against the empire included, but not limited to, killing Toturi; killing Tsudao; unleashing Fu Leng upon the heavens; sacking the first Imperial City; creating the Onisu; infiltrating the empire; and a night of assassinations that almost left the empire leaderless. The Dark Lord of the Shadowlands, he is a man not to be trifled with.


  1. Agreed a lot. I always thinked Glory as the measure of "how WELL known" is the character. But this approach seems to put Glory as "how MUCH know" is the character. Very interesting. So, it would be good create a 4th social Trait? Honor, Glory, Status AND Infamy?

    I wonder if others minor villains (Asako Kinue, Yajinden, Kokujin, etc.) would have great ranks in Glory & Infamy too. Kokujin was sayed in a very past fiction as a kind of child's fairy tale (a random character says he tells his children if they are disobidient, Kokujin will catch them).

    As a house rule, I guess it would be a nice idea an Advantage the allows use Infamy as a "Fear Factor". Some kind of "Menacing Presence: You may cause Fear in the same rate of your Infamy". What do you think?

    Some kind of "I'm very bad. And I know I'm. Do you wanna know too?" natural aura of Intimidation.

  2. Well most villians in my opinion are going to have Infamy. In general I tend to think that you have one or the other. It is very hard to have people think of you in both a negative and positive light.

    More so the more well known you are.

    However a GM is free to run them both at the same time. I prefer not to as it just helps to keep the amount of book work I have to do down. But there is nothing to stop a GM from giving people both.

    There could be a Fear Factor Advantage but then I would also create an Awe type Advantage for those with Glory.

    One could also like wise rule that Infamy helps to make Intimidation checks. Granted I feel that Glory would too. Just for different reasons.