Thursday, April 25, 2013

Heresy of the Five Rings

So Imperial Histories II is making it's way out. It should be out in most locations by the 29th of April. But while we wait on the book to make it's big splash everywhere I thought I'd take a moment to talk about my favorite chapters from the book.

The first up is Chapter 4, Heresy of the Five Rings. So what makes this chapter good? Well it's the first time we explore a theological conflict in Rokugan. This chapter, combined with the information later presented in the Age of Exploration is excellent for anyone who wants a conflict that is more than just politics as usual.

So what happens? Well the year is 510 I.C. (Isawa Calender). Gorinno grows in popularity as he begins preaching about the imbalance of the current age. The solution for him, is simple and elegant; there are to many clans. Since there are five elements there must be a clan that represents each element. However there are six clans (the Unicorn haven't returned yet) and having this extra clan is creating a spiritual imbalance in the empire that is spilling over into conflict for Rokugan.  The only way to fix this is to remove one of the great clans.

This problem is made all the more dangerous for the clans because Gorinno has the ear of the emperor. And with that kind of power he can take a simple philosophy and turn it into a reality. And this is where the conflict starts for the clans involved. I'd tell you which clans are which elements and which clans get proposed into being removed and how, but I have to leave you with something to read right?

Of course this isn't the only way to use the setting. In the current story arc Fudo is making a return and spreading through out the colonies. So it is very possible for this time period to instead be about the original conflict between Fudo and the Empire itself. Or you could take what's presented and move it to the Colonies as Fudo makes it's return.

What I enjoyed most while reading the chapter though was the use of the Brotherhood. I'm not a major monk fan mind you, but I do love some good kung fu. Using monks as the center piece for conflict is something that I haven't seen too often in Rokugan. I know there are a fair number of monk fans out there so this kind of conflict is ideal for them. The Brotherhood, after all  isn't in 100% agreement with Gorinno's idea's. Therefore it is very possible to run the entire game as a conflict between the various Orders of the Brotherhood.

And of course there are new mechanics. The Order of the Five Rings is a new monk path works on seeking and capitalizing on the imbalances of your opponent  There is also a new ronin path called The Hawk Purist. This is a level 1 ronin path that capitalizes on being a member of the Hawk Clan. What's the Hawk Clan .... well ..... ;)

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