Book Of Earth - Families of Rokugan

The Great Clans

The Crab Clan

The stalwart Crab are the defenders of Rokugan, responsible for ensuring the Empire's southern border is secure against the demons of the Shadowlands. Centuries of constant warfare against inhuman foes have hardened the Crab into tremendously powerful and brutally practical warriors, but they have little sense of civility or manners. As a result they are often considered crude and barbaric by the other clans.

The Crane Clan

Known for centuries as the Left Hand of the Emperor, the Crane Clan is responsible for maintaining the balance and integrity of the Empire's courts and of Rokugani society in general. As such, the Crane excel at diplomacy and politics, and are widely regarded as the unquestioned masters of the courts, with all the resentment from others that title entails.

The Dragon Clan

Enigmatic and mysterious, the samurai of the Dragon Clan have walked their own path since the Empire was first created. More individualistic and less concerned with material wealth than other clans, the Dragon have much in common with the monks of the Brotherhood of Shinsei, despite the considerable variety among their individual families.

The Lion Clan

The Lion Clan is the Right Hand of the Emperor, the defender of his lands and his person, although many times the Seppun family and the Imperial Legions are allowed to stand as poor substitutes (or so the Lion believe). The Lion are militant to a fault and possess the greatest army in the known world. They are feared for their prowess and respect for their unflinchingly honorable natures.

The Mantis Clan

The Mantis Clan is adaptable and unpredictable, and many find the Mantis to be much like the seas on which they travel from their island holdings to the mainland Empire. The Mantis were not born a Great Clan, but seized the position during one of the greatest conflicts in history, the Clan War. Comprised of families formed from different Minor Clans, the Mantis are perhaps the most diverse and individualistic of the Great Clans.

The Phoenix Clan

With regard to the subject of shugenja, the consensus of an entire Empire is that the Phoenix possess both the largest number of shugenja and most powerful of them. The descendants of the Tribe of Isawa and those who have sworn allegiance to them command mystical power unlike anything seen in the other Clans, and the followers of the Kami Shiba have sworn to protect them for all time, no matter the cost.

The Scorpion Clan

When the Empire was first formed, the Scorpion were tasked with two sacred duties: one was to safeguard the Black Scrolls in which was bound the power of the fallen dark god Fu Leng, and the second was to serve as a villain against which the Great Clans could unite so they would never unite against the Emperor. It is the latter duty at which the Scorpion have excelled, and in which they revel.

The Spider Clan

The Spider Clan was granted Great Clan status by Empress Iweko I as part of a deal she made with their founder, Daigotsu. So long as its members remain free of the Shadowlands Taint, they are afforded the rights of members of the buke. Despite their being a Great Clan, no clan is as hated, distrusted, or looked down upon as the Spider.

The Unicorn Clan

The Unicorn, once known as the Ki-Rin Clan, were absent from the Empire for nearly eight centuries as they wandered the world, exploring and ensuring that there were no external threats to the Emperor that might remain unknown. Since their return, they have been regarded by many as barbarians and outsiders, due mostly to their embrace of customs that are in stark contrast to the norm for Rokuan. Still, the Unicorn are universally respected because of their cavalry. They use gaijin steeds and their horse-mounted troops are without compare in the Empire.

The Minor Clans

When a samurai performs a feat of great heroism to Rokugan, the Emperor may reward his service by making him the leader of his own Minor Clan. The leader of the new Minor Clan gathers followers eager to join his cause and serve the Empire in their own unique ways. This great favor has been granted many times during the course of Rokugani history, producing an interesting and diverse group of proud warriors.

Minor Clans generally control a small region of the Empire and their populations are quite low compared to the Great Clans. Most Minor Clans have only a single family name, and the smallest ones may only have a few dozen samurai in their ranks.

The Imperial Families

The Imperial Families have sworn fealty directly to the Imperial line, and every action they take is to guarantee a functioning Empire. The Miya travel across the land as the voice of the Emperor, ensuring his decrees are heard by every person in the land. The Seppun are the shields of the Empire, serving as bodyguards and as warriors in the Imperial Legions. The Otomo are the political masterminds of the courts, fiendishly manipulating the Great Clans to serve the higher good. With access to the best teachers, unlimited funding, and higher status, the Imperial Families are truly the elite nobles of Rokugan.

Ronin Families

Ronin family names are rare, but they are not wholly unknown. They are most often created when the Emperor chooses to reward a ronin for an exceptional deed, such as Usagi helping to defeat the Bloodspeaker, Tsi creating a magnificent weapon for the Imperial house, or Yotsu rescuing the Emperor’s son. Usually, these families quickly gain the right to create a Minor Clan (such as Usagi becoming the Hare Clan) but on some occasions they continue as ronin families for many generations. Eventually such families either die out, become a Minor Clan, or get absorbed into another clan or family. For example, the Tsi eventually become the Oriole Clan and the Kaeru become a vassal family of the Ikoma. The Yotsu in the canonical L5R timeline have sworn fealty to the Seppun family and may be on their way to being absorbed by them.

A ronin family can also be created when a samurai family is officially disbanded but its members refuse to accept the judgment, clinging to their name and traditions while living as wave-men. The Akodo and the Usagi during the Clan War and Hidden Emperor eras are examples of this phenomenon, as are the Tsume in the Heroes of Rokugan era. Unless they can restore their reputation, these sorts of ronin families tend to die out within a couple of generations, both due to loss of faith among their members and enmity from clan samurai who consider their behavior improper.

Mechanically, a ronin PC who belongs to a ronin family must spend 5 Experience Points on Social Advantage: Ronin Family. This grants him the ronin family’s Trait bonus as well as social connections to the rest of the family— the GM may award a variety of bonuses and obligations in play based on such connections. Such characters still technically have Status of 0.0, but their name grants them a certain degree of respect from clan samurai that other ronin do not receive.

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