Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Inside Look

Lion Shadows
Kakita Seigi

Rokugan's favorite 007 is back! And while the Ikoma Spymasters have decided to change their name to the more menacing Lion's Shadow, their ability to deal with violence and intrigue in a cool and suave manner has not. The school is now a Tier 2 bushi school for 4ED, but now offers a powerful courtier/bushi hybrid to players and GMs alike.

The school overall is designed to provide a jack of all trades approach. The first two techniques have been reduced from their original incarnation, but neither are less potent in the current 4th Edition environment. But it is not until the Ikoma makes School Rank 3 that the underhanded ninja action really starts to show. By sacrificing one's honor to use subversive tactics, the Ikoma increases his ability to strike at foes in combat and in court. The latter two techniques only cement this position. An Ikoma Lion's Shadow is effective both in combat and social situations, but will likely be shown up by a dedicated bushi or courtier. To defeat each them, a savvy Ikoma will fight underhandedly and place each opponent in a situation that puts them at a maximum disadvantage just like their namesake Ancestor.

The Ikoma Lion's Shadow can also become decent duelists if played right. They don't have all the awesome techniques like the Kakita and Mirumoto Bushi, but they do have the social skills to manipulate the situation in their favor. The Rank 1 technique is probably the only technique that offers a direct bonus in a duel. However, the Rank 5 technique, if it's used before an iaijutsu duel, also gives an interesting defense to the Ikoma. Sure, the Ikoma may lose the Focus roll and his opponent may be striking first, but with a hefty penalty to their Strike roll the Ikoma's opponent may likely miss (especially if the Ikoma spends a Void Point to enhance his Armor TN). And if you have a very generous GM that lets you take Iaijutsu for your last School Skill (instead of the High or Low Skill), the Rank 2 technique will help cement you in the ranks of the dedicated duelists.

Great Advantages for the Ikoma Lion's Shadow are:
*Perceived Honor: *Sigh* Yeah, it's awesome being 007, but you're also a Lion Samurai. And living within an ultra-honorable clan, this advantage allows the Ikoma to fuel his Rank 3 without having another Lion gut you because of your occasional indiscretion (of course in the Clan's service mind you).
*Prodigy: Combined with your Rank 2, you'll be getting an awesome +2k0 bonus to help you succeed your base TNs on school skills. Not too bad at all if I may so Mr. Bond.


  1. Perceived Honor sounds great, indeed.
    So is Crafty, as a matter of fact - LS may be Bushi/Ninja almost as good as they are Bushi/Courtier.

  2. What's your take on the yo-yo effect that rank 3 promotes? The more the technique is used the least effective the character becomes until he can't benefit from the technique at all. At that point the player has to stop playing the character has he would for is intended role to regain enough honor. Does the school include any built in way to minimize that effect or is there some mechanic helping with that that I'm not seeing?

  3. Sorry didn't see your comment. The Rank 3 is actually not a bad thing, because the lower your honor rank, the higher the rewards for performing an honorable action. Thus as long as you're being honorable most of the time and actively seeking out honor rewards, you can compensate for the honor losses incurred by your Rank 3. That's where perceived honor is nice. Most people will assume your behaving honorably because your character usually engages in honorable activities of your perceived honor, except on the occassion when you're behaving like a bad boy with things like the Rank 3. -Kakita Seigi

  4. That's... really not at all different from any other character actually.

    I suppose I just don't like Honor to be gamed like that...