I mentioned early on in the Phoenix Clan articles that the Phoenix Clan is uniquely suited to running interesting single-clan games. With the way that their families work as a natural tension among each other, and their monopoly on the spiritual, the Phoenix tend to be a very fertile source of interesting plots that veer away from what you usually think of in terms of a samurai story.
One of the most obvious sources of conflict comes from the Phoenix Clan’s unique power structure. Having a council of Elemental Masters is normally a good thing, but add a dash of Hubris and you might end up with a cabal of self-interested individuals with agendas that run counter to the greater good.
I used this in my previous Phoenix Clan campaign, setting up the Elemental Council as a semi-corrupt organization, with the Isawa overstepping their boundaries. In reaction, a radical group of Shiba decided to break their founder’s vow in order to restore order to the Clan. Needless to say the Civil War was very messy.
Spirits and Magic:
The Phoenix are regarded to be the experts in magic and the kami in all of the Empire. This results in having plenty of opportunities to insert interesting magical anomalies for the team to explore. Whether it’s something pulp-y like the awakening of an ancient sleeping evil, or the discovery of a power that had though to have been lost in legendry (like Isawa’s Last wish) the Phoenix have the necessary background to make such stories interesting, rather than an exercise in frustration.
For a clan of pacifists, the Phoenix Clan finds itself taking to the field rather often. Most of the time they serve as a means to diffuse or at least discourage further violence between warring clans. This is a plot hook I’ve yet to see in most games, as people usually take the role of the aggressor or the defender, but being the one to break up the fight with determined Shiba and the might of the Elemental Legions is certainly worth exploring as well.
Well, that wraps up the Phoenix Clan for now. It’s been interesting to look at their concepts and the themes that exist for them. Perhaps I’ll move on to another clan. Based on the poll I ran, Scorpion was the next most popular.
What do you guys think? Next round: Scorpion?