[L5R Clan Analysis: Scorpion] Light and Shadow

Posted: January 10, 2013 by Jay Steven Anyong in Articles, Legend of the Five Rings, Roleplaying Games
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In this series of articles discussing the Scorpion Clan, I find it impossible to advance futher in the analysis without running into one of their most iconic methodologies: Deceit and Misdirection.

First off, let’s start at the very basic requirements in order to pull off a lie: Credibility. The first, most essential requirement to pull off a convincing lie is often the one most overlooked by players who are too quick to rush into the whole “I cannot be trusted” schtick that the Scorpion are known for.

If you cannot be trusted, or are at least reasonably credible, nobody will believe your lie. This makes your lie next to useless. (Certainly there are ways to take advantage of a lie that nobody believes, but that’s not in the scope of this discussion at the moment. We’re still at the basics. Save that kind of thinking for the advanced classes.)

Scorpion Clan characters should at least consider the merits of building trust and faith among their team and the NPCs that they encounter. Scorpions aren’t the moustache-twirling villains from saturday morning cartoons. Take a step back from their stereotype and consider them as “real” individuals for a change. In building a trustworthy reputation, the Scorpions put the people they interact with at a disadvantage. Scorpions go through great lengths to make people feel that while the rest of the clan is untrustworthy (hence the reputation) he himself is a stand-up fellow.

It’s a subtle game of manipulation that relies on doing nothing as it does with doing anything. The careful Scorpion player can use the clan’s reputation as a potent weapon by just sitting there. Trust-building lowers defenses and makes people vulnerable. While in most cases a Scorpion will never have to actually take advantage of that trust, maybe someday it will come in handy, and so the Scorpion will at least have made inroads that make betrayal possible.

Scorpions use deception, blackmail and betrayal with the same kind of caution that responsible gun owners are supposed to use firearms: only when they are needed. I wouldn’t be surprised to find Scorpions with entire volumes of blackmail information that they never had a chance to use, but they keep records of anyway just in case the opportunity arises.

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