[L5R Clan Analysis: Phoenix] Humility and the Phoenix Clan

Posted: December 27, 2012 by Jay Steven Anyong in Articles, Legend of the Five Rings, Roleplaying Games
Tags: ,

Hello everyone, hope you’re all having a great holiday season. Things have been rather busy here at the moment, so I apologize for the intermittent posting schedule. Hopefully as soon as things settle down, I’ll be able to get back to posting regularly.

That said, today we take a look at the Phoenix Clan virtue of Humility. At first glance, it might seem like a weird choice of virtue for the Phoenix given how they have such a history of prideful Shugenja responsible for all sorts of disasters and threats like Oni no Akuma. However, the Phoenix are the perfect clan to focus on Humility given their founder, the Kami, Shiba.

Shiba is best known for kneeling before a mortal, setting aside his godlike pride in order to do the right thing. It’s a simple lesson, and one that is taught many times over in the Phoenix Clan. Humility in this case, is the equivalent of wisdom. It takes humility to be able to set aside one’s pride and ask for help. There are other ways of exercising humility of course, such as knowing when and where one should apply force. The Isawa family of the Phoenix Clan command incredible forces with a proficiency that most shugenja of other Clans can only dream about, and it is only the virtue of humility of their clan that teaches them to rein in the urge to basically solve every problem with overwhelming force.

Magic is a religious phenomenon in Rokugan (most of the time, anyway) and it should be treated as such. The Shugenja entreat the kami to perform tasks for them, and it is much easier to get the kami to do what you want them to do if you approach them with the proper kind of humility and respect.

The virtue of Humility manifests itself in the other families as well, but most notably in the Shiba family. Their kami was the example of this, and many of the Shiba exhibit the same kind of self-effacing humility that lets the Isawa do their thing. Rather than compete for attention, they take the role of the vigilant Yojimbo. The Shiba bodyguard is a great example of the Shiba doing their thing to stick to the background and serve their clan best.

Of course, the best way to highlight the virtue of the clan is to take the opposite. In this case we’ll be focusing on Hubris. What happens when the Shiba forget their founder’s Oath and decide to take control of the clan? What if they decide that they’re tired of the Isawa screwing up and dabbling in the taint and dangerous magics? You can get a lot of mileage by twisting something as simple as that, and my own Phoenix Civil War campaign arose from that premise.

Over the course of the next few days we’ll be taking a look at the various families of the clan, and reviewing what makes each of them tick, starting with the Shiba, and moving on to the rest of the Clan.

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