“Nearly all men can stand the test of adversity, but if you really want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
- Abraham Lincoln
Themes: Conspiracy, Revolution, Tradition vs. Innovation
Mood: Uncertainty, Patriotism
The Phoenix Clan have always been one of the most factitious in terms of internal politics among the Great Clans. Unlike the Crab, or the Scorpion, the Phoenix often find themselves working hard just to gain the trust of their fellow Clansmen. This is in no small part due to the nature of the leadership of the clan: While the Shiba family traditionally carry the right to Clan Champion, the position is often seen as ceremonial as majority of the heavier decisions have been borne by the Council of Five, a group of powerful Shugenja who serve as the true seat of power in the Clan.
For centuries, this arrangement has held. Shiba’s descendants stuck to the promise of their ancestor and Kami, serving the Isawa as their protectors and bodyguards. However, the recent spate of catastrophic failures and the near destruction of the Clan due to the corruption of the Isawa Shugenja have paved the way for a new conspiracy.
Labeling themselves as Reformists, these samurai whisper mutinous secrets. If the Isawa have proven themselves unworthy, should the Shiba blindly follow? Mindful of the dangers of plotting against shugenja, these renegade Shiba have begun a recruitment effort among the Asako, and the Agasha, building up their strength across political and military lines for their moment.
This year’s Winter Court in Isawa Lands is the chosen moment for the Coup. The player characters will be present for the event, as part of the samurai involved in the managing of the Winter Court. Needless to say, the place is very busy, and is an ideal opportunity for the Reformists to make their move against the Council of Five. The moment the coup happens, everything becomes confused as clansmen turn upon each other, and the players will have to act quickly to achieve their objectives.
It is up to the individual player characters to decide if they wish to side with the Reformists or if they wish to support the Elemental Masters. It’s a high risk situation, and everyone has a lot to lose. Should the Reformists win, they may yet be able to change the ruling system that has led the Phoenix to near destruction for several times now. If they lose, then they will be all executed on the spot for being traitors to the Elemental Masters.
Characters should be from the Phoenix Clan, though they don’t have to make their motivations known to the others. The game premise is pretty tense, but I’m hoping that it won’t be dominated by PVP. The neat thing about the situation however is the fact that the players choose their side and defend it. Nobody is there to force them into a given choice, the lines must be drawn on the hearts of the Phoenix.
This is actually a very powerful and potentially setting-changing premise. The idea of a civil war and social reform in the ranks of the Phoenix Clan is a compelling idea, and one that makes for a powerful political game. No matter which side the players choose, they should find many different hooks, and even after the coup succeeds or fails, the escaped survivors of the losing faction can still make a bid for allies in the other clans.
Add the fact that there are still many people who don’t like the Phoenix (or might be looking to settle old scores,) then you get a very busy time of rebuilding. With or without a coup, the Phoenix find themselves at the mercy of their enemies and the players must make certain that they fight (in Court and in the battlefield) to make sure that the Phoenix remains a Great Clan.