Friday, July 29, 2011

Great Clans Preview: Tsuruchi Bounty Hunter

written by Kakita Seigi

Even in the early days of the Tsuruchi family before the family joined the Mantis Clan, the small family was legendary throughout the Empire for its tenacious bounty hunters. These bounty hunters are a peculiar breed of law enforcement in Rokugan. Most duties are handled by magistrates, but an enduring contract made between the Tsuruchi family and the Emerald Champion authorizes the Tsuruchi family to hunt down known fugitives on the run. They are mercenaries for hire and magistrates, often busy with other important duties, will employ a Tsuruchi for a fee. So welcome to the world of Rokugan's bounty hunter.

From a mechanical perspective, Design was strongly interested in developing a new Mantis Clan bushi school that focused on law enforcement, but one that was unique. Like other magistrate schools though, the requirements needed for an effective magistrate require a different set of techniques than the regular bushi. And the Tsuruchi Bounty Hunter is an interesting half-way marriage between the normal magistrate and an investigator. There is the usual set of magistrate schools, such as the Doji and Soshi Magistrates, that focus on more martial techniques to disable opponents. And while this works well for standard magistrates, the trail is often already "cold" by the time a Bounty Hunter is hired. So very much like a Kitsuki Investigator, an effective Bounty Hunter needs to specialize in tracking down his prey, sometimes with very little information to initially utilize.

To represent both of these aspects, the Tsuruchi Bounty Hunter specializes in two major themes: tracking down fugitives and disabling opponents guilty of a crime. The first two techniques of the school actually solely focus on the hunt and its not until later that the school begins to focus on disabling the Tsuruchi's target. This means often that the more inexperienced bounty hunters will be sent on missions, in which the bounty hunter is asked to execute the target. After all it's usually much easier to just outrightly kill a criminal, than to be bothered with capturing him.

In Tsuruchi fashion, the favored weapon of the school is unsurprisingly the yumi. However unlike their cousins in the Tsuruchi Archer school, the modern day Tsuruchi Bounty Hunter also trains with other weapons, such as a katana and knives, as often the Bounty Hunter may find himself in a social situation where it is unacceptable for the Bounty Hunter to carry his beloved yumi with him.

Now I mentioned earlier that the school focuses on two themes. As a consequence that the Bounty Hunter often must devote a significant amount of his training to learn how to hunt down convicted criminals. This leaves a Bounty Hunter with much less time to fully master the martial arts like regular bushi. A Bounty Hunter is pretty much focused on fighting criminals declared guilty of a crime by an Imperial or a higher Mantis authority. Many of the Tsuruchi's more martial techniques reflect this more focused martial training

Thus, a Tsuruchi Bounty Hunter is aptly comparable to the Lion's Shadow with respect to their combat competency. While very much skilled in the ways of the warrior, a Bounty Hunter is not nearly as a skilled combatant as a seasoned bushi. But what the Bounty Hunter lacks in the martial pursuit is made up in the extra focus of tracking down criminals. For gamers that enjoy magistrate games, the Tsuruchi Bounty Hunter promises to be an excellent and exciting school that complements the party's other bushi.

Tsuruchi Bounty Hunter [Bushi]
During the early days of the Tsuruchi family when they were known simply as the Wasp Clan, the vassals of Tsuruchi were well known for two things: their incredible skill at archery and their unwavering tenacity as bounty hunters. The clan was authorized by the Emerald Champion to hunt down fugitives from justice for a fee, and for many
years the Wasp survived largely on the income generated by this practice. Although many samurai condemned this mercenary practice, no one could deny Tsuruchi prowess
and few clan magistrates refused to employ them.

Since the Tsuruchi family joined the Mantis clan, its two iconic pursuits have separated somewhat, becoming distinct schools which young Tsuruchi may choose between depending on their aptitudes and preferences. The majority choose to pursue a career as soldiers and archers within the Mantis military (the Tsuruchi Archer School), but a select few continue the family’s original tradition by becoming members
of the small but famed Tsuruchi Bounty Hunter School.

Members of the Tsuruchi Bounty Hunters are usually treated as clan magistrates within the Tsuruchi provinces and often within the Mantis Clan’s territory as a whole. The contract between Tsuruchi and the Emerald Champion still exists and thus the family can impart authority to a select number of students that is roughly equivalent to an Emerald Magistrate, at least insofar as the ability to apprehend known criminals. The Tsuruchi are extremely cautious in whom they trust such authority, however, since they are keenly aware the contract could be nullified if it is abused or misused.

Tsuruchi Bounty Hunters traverse the Empire in search of fugitives, those accused of crimes by superior authorities who have escaped the justice they deserve. Although they can technically only hunt those decried by an Imperial authority, the Tsuruchi also accept individual bounties from clans or families who wish their assistance. Bounties are usually a number of koku equal to the Insight Rank of the target. This fee is doubled if the target is a violent criminal or a shugenja, and may increase even further if special or unusual circumstances apply.

Technique Rank: 1
Technique: A Hunter’s Sense: A Tsuruchi bounty hunter is well known as a fierce and terrible opponent of all who seek to evade justice, and even those who are without guilt find them intimidating. You gain a bonus of +1k1 to any Intimidation Skill Roll used against someone of lower caste who you believe can help you find your prey. When interacting with samurai, this bonus is reduced to +1k0 but applies to all Social Skill Rolls, not just Intimidation. Also, when you are hunting a particular target, you may roll additional unkept dice equal to your School Rank on any Hunting or Investigation Skill Rolls used to track the quarry down.

Sample NPC
Tsuruchi Kita – The People's Bounty Hunter!

Kita is a confident bounty hunter who makes her business other people's business. And she thinks that she has developed a revolutionary way of obtaining information. By treating the lower classes with respect and helping them in need, they are only so happy to return the favor when Kita has need of it.

She tirelessly works upon crafting a reputation as a "noble" hero of the lower classes, so that whenever her Tsuruchi lords have need of information she is the one there to provide. Her many successes were recently noticed by the Emerald Magistrate, Doji Gohei. The two became fast friends and Gohei has provided Kita with endless employment as a bounty hunter. After a few years of working for Gohei, the Crane magistrate confided to Kita about a personal investigation. A very close friend of the Doji had asked Gohei to help him find a certain stolen item with the utmost discretion. While Gohei was skeptical of finding it, Kita boasted that not only could she find it, but that she would find the item before the winter. The two made a sizable wager of koku and Kita set off to find the missing artifact.

Through her many contacts, Kita found that the missing artifact was actually Kaiu Armor and that two ronin were also searching for it in the North. After many months elapsed with no sign of either the armor or the ronin, she almost decided to give her search up. Two days before she was going to return home empty-handed, an eta in Nanashi Mura renewed the trail with some critical information. He had recently spotted a tattooed monk sporting a cart with magnificent armor.

Traveling north upon the Dragon Heart Plains, Kita happened upon the two ronin she had earlier heard about. Instead of directly approaching them, she painstakingly crept upon them. Overhearing their rowdy and crude conversations, she learned that they were Crab ronin attempting to retrieve the same artifact she was. She also learned a great many personal things about both the samurai, most of which Kita didn't particular care to hear.

During the night, Kita moved on and tracked down the monk after a few days. Kita attempted to ambush the monk, but the monk was too fast and strong. Instead of killing her, the monk restrained her and revealed himself as Togashi Kaiden. Kaiden offered her a hefty bounty by the Dragon Clan if she helped him dispose the armor in the Dragon furnaces. The Togashi asserted that a dark spirit had possessed the armor and that he was tasked with destroying it. Although she was undecided on whether this was true or not, Kita still agreed to help knowing the monk might kill her otherwise. However, while journeying with the monk, she left a trail that even an ignoramus could follow.

Days later, her salvation finally came. The two Crab ronin attacked, and Kita took her opportunity to dispose of the tattooed man. After a short bloody battle, the monk was dead and the armor rescued. Kita and the two Crab headed back to Crab lands. She was going to claim her prize no matter what. After all, the monk could not have been right?

Tsuruchi Kita
School/Rank: Rank 3
Air: 3 -Reflexes: 4
Earth: 2
Fire: 3
Water: 3 -Perception: 4
Void: 3

Glory: 3.2
Status: 1.5
Honor: 3.9

Skills: Athletics 3, Commerce 3, Hunting (Trailblazing, Tracking) 5, Etiquette 3, Intimidation 4, Investigation (Notice, Search) 5, Jiujutsu 3, Kenjutsu (Katana) 3, Kyujutsu (Yumi) 5, Lore: Heraldry 3, Lore: Underworld 4, Sincerity 2 (Honesty), Stealth 2

Techniques: A Hunter’s Sense, No Prey Escapes, Justice of the Wasp
Kata: Striking as Air, Striking as Fire

Advantages: Ally: Doji Gohei (Inf. 2, Dev. 1), Hero of the People, Seven Fortunes' Blessing (Ebisu), Spy Network
Disadvantages: Greedy, Overconfident

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