Thursday, June 23, 2011

Great Clans Preview: Ninube Shugenja School

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The inclusion of this school caused some what of a stir in PT. On the one hand many of us felt that the rules for the Lying Darkness were more than adequate to make Ninube (and Goju) characters. Since the Lying Darkness doesn't really create anything, instead opting to absorb the needed information from those it corrupts, it was thought that a school wouldn't form. And I also personally found it more horrifying that no matter the case that each agent of the Nothing one faced would be different and thus unpredictable.

On the other hand, the Nothings agents had received mechanic's in previous editions. In addition to making the job of a GM easier players would want to have something of their own to use. So as you can imagine it was a hotly debated topic.

That's not to say the Ninube is a bad school. I'm a big big fan of ninja stuff in L5R and as such the Nothing in all its forms is one of my favorite aspects (screw Daigotsu, the Shadow Dragon is where it's at). And that's not to say it was a bad choice to include the Ninube and Goju. But there were differing idea's on how best to represent them as PC's in the game.

The Ninube school is actually interesting. It has a very good way of invoking the eerie nature of those who serve the Nothing. And that I like.

One of the mechanical changes that was done with the Ninube (and something you may seen repeated for other schools) is the spell list. In previous editions new spells needed to be written in order introduce such schools. This time around DT examined the spells already present. The ones that were most like Nothing spells were given the Nothing tag for the purpose of this school. That's not to say that these spells were created by the Nothing and thus are corrupted. But that some spells already mimic the effects that Nothing spells normally would.

Ninube Shugenja (Shugenja)

The individuals who call themselves the Ninube are not truly shugenja in the conventional sense of the word, but then they are not truly individuals either, so the terminology here is largely a matter of convenience. The Ninube are minions of the Lying Darkness who seem to retain a portion of their individuality (whether they truly do is impossible to say). After the Darkness was defeated but before the Shadow Dragon usurped its place as the avatar of Nothing, the Ninube chose to go their own way, forsaking loyalty to this new master. (Or so they believe… in truth, they remain every bit as much a part of the Shadow Dragon’s machinations as their more willing former comrades among the Goju.)

If the GM allows this school to represent the Ninube, the rules and mechanics for Shadow Ranks in Chapter Seven of Enemies of the Empire not be used.

Technique: Mask of the Nothing
As a Complex Action you may expend a spell slot to dissolve your physical self and become a shadow. As a shadow you are invisible in darkness and gain a bonus of +5k0 to your Stealth Skill Rolls under all other circumstances. You are immune to most mundane attacks, but crystal and magic can affect you. Magical attacks that involve crystal or generate light double their rolled damage dice against you. When in shadow form, if you suffer damage that would kill you, you instead return to physical form at once with either half of your Wounds or with the Wounds you possessed when you entered shadow form, whichever is lower; you are Stunned when this happens.

You may not inflict damage on others in any way while in shadow form, but you may cast non-damaging spells and can speak in the form of a disembodied whisper.

You gain a Free Raise on all Nothing spells. You may not cast maho spells.

Sample NPC

Hitokage - The Watcher
Hitokage has been working for the Nothing for so long he no longer clearly recalls his life before corruption. What little he seems to remember comes to him in the form of broken dreams. Hitokage believes he was once a promising Ishiken in the Phoenix clan. Either as promising student or possible even the Master of Void at one point. He recalls being an Isawa, though he does not remember his name. And he has strange memories of his family through out the ages.

When active he normally takes on the form of an wandering Ishiken. Their rumored odd and eccentric nature help to cover for his momentary lapse in memory or awareness. Though when working on a directive from the Nothing he seems oddly clear headed.

Hitokage's targets for corruption typically tend to be other shugenja or courtiers. He enjoys (as much as he is allowed to enjoy) manipulating the courts of Rokugan. Due to his long life, he often times enacts plans that take years if not decades to come to fruition. And isn't above targeting a persons children or grandchildren if their family line shows promise.

Because of his long life and service to the Lying Darkness Hitokage isn't bother by disruptions in his plans. Taking the long view he will patiently wait for troublesome individuals to forget about him or his plans, knowing that he will out live them anyway (Rokugan is a dangerous place after all).

Hitokage typical assumes either a Scorpion identity (many people often do not look to closely into the plans of the Scorpion) or a Phoenix one. Though he has started a growing fascination with the Asahina and Crane.

School/Rank: Isawa Shugenja 3, Ninbue Shugenja 3
Air 5
Earth 3
Fire 3
Water 4
Void 5
Glory: 2.0
Honor: 2.5
Status: 1

Skills: Calligraphy (Phoenix and Scorpion Cipher) 2, Courtier (Manipulation) 6 , Defense 4. Divination 4, Etiquette 4. Forgery 4 Knives 4, Lore: Phoenix Clan 4, Lore: Scorpion Clan 3, Lore: Lying Darkness 4, Lore: Theology 3, Lore: Omens 3, Medicine 3, Meditation 5, Sincerity (Lying) 5, Spellcraft 5, Stealth 5, Temptation 5

Advantages: Forbidden Knowledge (Lying Darkness) (5), Ishiken- Do (6) Multiple Schools (10)

Disadvantages: Fascination (former family members) (1), Touch of the Void (4)

Notes: As a Rank 6 character that has been around for centuries Hitokage has a very expansive spell list. The GM should use whatever spells he feels a century spanning agent of the Lying Darkness needs to achieve his goals.

It should also be further noted that the Shadow taint and Void interact in strange and interesting ways that can sometimes lead them to being what is called the Nameless Ones. When this happens the Void itself has acted to protect the Ishiken. I personally felt it was a worthy concept when I initially created the character so ignored that tidbit. But a GM may want to switch out Void for another element if they wish to maintain that the Lying Darkness can not corrupt Void shugenja.

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