Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Owl Clan

The Owl clan. If you're gonna have a Bat clan in the game you might as well have an Owl clan right?

So for those who haven't picked up Imperial History II the Owl clan is the clan of Hantei featured in the Togashi Dynasti chapter. Their charter in is to handle non human threats to the empire that aren't shadowlands related. So oni and taint are the Crab job, the Owl will handle Naga relations and taming Nezumi. Togashi's empire is filled with more magical critters and thus there is a stronger need for a clan that specifically deals with otherworldly beings. So translating them to a normal game can be somewhat challenging if you want to keep the essence of what is presented for the Owl while finding a need for them.

But I like owls and the Hantei dynasty has a warm place in my heart (I still wish they were ruling). So integrating them into a normal game presented a nice challenge. So here goes ....

Shortly after the Destroyer War ends Iweko is put in the position of having the empire accept the Spider clan and in exploring the former Ivory Kingdoms. Just as important though is reconciling the traditions of old with forging a new path in an uncertain future. In steps the Owl clan.

To show her respect for the past Iweko instructs her imperial historians to find any living members among the Imperial families who may have had Hantei blood. These scant few individuals pool together to take on the Hantei family name. Carrying on the Hantei name these indivudals will serve as a reminder of Rokugans glorious past and traditions. Iweko doesn't stop there however, chosing to honor the Toturi line Toturi Shigekawa becomes daimyo of the fledgling Owl clans second family as the Toturi daimyo. So now we have the Hantei and the Toturi in one clan!

Moving forward the Hantei and Toturi families adopt a number of ronin shugenja. The Empress grants her blessing for them to combine into a single family and to honor one of the most powerful shugenja's known to the Rokugan they take on the Sezaru family name.

Mechanically speaking we make use of the Hantei bushi school as the main bushi family. The Sezaru family would make use of the Seppun shugenja school from Imperial Histories II. Meanwhile the Otomo Diplomat school from that book would become the Hantei courtier school, with the Hantei taking on the responsibilities of leading family in both bushi and courtier. Similar in structure to say the Bayushi family does business. There isn't really a good equivalent for the Toturi family as far as bushi schools go. Their initial training could start out as Lion or even Toku. However the advanced school, Tsudao's Legion would fit in very well as a school for the Toturi family.

Their role in the empire going into the Age of Exploration is to help keep an eye on the Spider clan while also reminding Rokugan of it's past. The non human bent of the Owl clans mechanics makes them ideal for helping to lead the development of the colonies as the clans face down a number of non human enemies. Just think how different the War of Serpents would have been if there was something like the Owl clan around.

But is another way the Owl clan could be used outside of the Togashi timeline. Just take them as is and apply them to the Emerald Stars setting. Since alien races are beings from the other realms the Owl clan could be the Emperors first contact clan. They help to mediate the disputes of the native life on the worlds that they encounter.


  1. I love the idea of them being used in the Emerald Stars timeline. It fits perfectly. And they can be adapted pretty well to the Age of Exploration, too, depending on the focus of the campaign, though I'd probably come at it from a different angle than you do with the origins of the families. (Though I favor the idea of putting both the courtier and bushi schools under the Hantei -- that's probably what I'll do if I ever run a campaign of my own.)

  2. How would you have done it? The most awkward family origin though was actually the Sezaru. For starters I'm not 100% sure I'm happy with the name. And second .... well no mostly it's the name.

    I had toyed with the idea of giving Naseru a family but then it just seemed to Toturi heavy. Though if I didn't go with the Toturi family I likely would have used Tsudao. She was very heroic.

    And yeah Emerald Stars would be an awesome place for them. Their mechanics and that setting really go hand in hand.

  3. If I were to run something in that time period, I would rework the Spider to suit the "Fu Leng gets purified and returns to Tengoku" idea, and then use the Gifts of Ryoshun as a springboard for the formation of a tenth clan following him. But that's because I'm intrigued the notion of a Ryoshun clan in general. :-)

  4. Well the Owl could then be the Ryoshun clan which fits him very well. Being as how he technically never came to the mortal realm a entire clan based around dealing with spirits and non humans makes sense.

  5. Yeah, exactly. In the Togashi Dynasty context, it makes sense for the Owl to be really focused on supernatural things. Outside that context, it works best for me if they get attached to Ryoshun -- if you can come up with a good enough story for how the clan gets formed.

  6. Come to think of it Ryoshun makes a better name for a shugenja family than Sezaru. It also keeps with my theme for the Owl in honor Rokugan's past while moving forward.