[L5R Clan Analysis: Scorpion] Introduction

Posted: January 9, 2013 by pointyman2000 in Articles, Legend of the Five Rings, Roleplaying Games
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Hot on the heels after the Phoenix Clan articles, we move on to the discussion of the Scorpion Clan. But before that, a quick observation:

Everyone wants to play the Scorpion, but few want to play the Scorpion right.

Among the original Great Clans of Rokugan, the Scorpion Clan exhibit a classic allure. They’re the villains, the bad guys, the ones who break all the rules. They’re remembered for their masks, their flagrant disregard for Bushido and their preference for the use of dishonorable means such as poison and seduction and blackmail to get the job done.

Except here’s the thing: it is an incredible disservice to think that the Scorpion are that one-dimensional.

In some ways, the Scorpion do their job extremely well. The masks were originally meant to advertise the message that the Scorpion cannot be trusted. The clan has spent their entire existence cultivating that reputation, massaging it into the form of propaganda that it is now.

But to simply consider the Scorpion Clan for their infamy alone is to lose sight of the entire story. The Scorpion Clan is the clan built on the concept of loyalty and trust, even while appearing to be dishonorable and deceitful.

Their purpose is to serve as the underhand, and they sacrifice their honor in order to achieve the victories that would otherwise be impossible for the greater good of their Clan or the Empire.

The Scorpion is the antihero. They make no claims that what they do is “right” or even “admirable” but they will say that it is necessary.

What I find to be so uniquely interesting about the Scorpion are they are perhaps the only Clan that can afford to be the most human and most honest with themselves in closed doors. The Scorpion’s society among family and their very, very few chosen friends reveals that the Scorpions are capable of absolute loyalty and love that is so elusive in Rokugani society, which is often too wrapped up in Bushido and the conflict between Duty and Personal Desires to truly give of oneself.

With this series we’ll be looking at the Scorpion Clan as a whole, their role in the Empire and their clan virtue of Loyalty. We’ll try to cut through the disinformation (as best as we can) and explore each of the Families and look at what kinds of conflicts and issues we can use for running a game of L5R featuring the Scorpion Clan as Player Characters.

  1. Looking forward to this. I have to admit most of the Scorpion fans for the RPG I’ve met have been kind of douchey. I agree with you that they’re an integral and challenging part of the the Clan structure. But many of those who I’ve seen gravitate to this want to pull “Oh, Look I’ve So Much Cleverer Than You” on other players. And more often than not, they can’t actually pull that off. My experience is anecdotal, and comes from an admittedly small pool.

  2. Actually, the mask is to say “No one can trust me but YOU. To you, I will be trustworthy and loyal, a friend in good times and bad, a friend who understands that sometimes people fall and must be helped back up.” The Scorpion manipulators are all about making the person they are dealing with feel that they are the one exception to the Scorpion’s rules, because once you have trust, then you can really manipulate people.

    The Scorpion are difficult to play well because they need to separate what is good for them personally, what is good for the Clan and what is good for the Empire. They are suppose to be looking out for the last of those but it is far too easy to slip back to the second or first as the primary (or even only) thing to pursue.

  3. PJ Min-seok says:

    To me, the most fun way of playing a Scorpion bushi is to play as someone who acts in accordance with the tenets of Bushido, simply because you are already suspect by virtue of your clan, but the confusion/suspicion exposes weaknesses on the parts of the observers rather than the character. ^_^

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