[L5R Hearts and Souls] Dramatis Personae

Posted: January 14, 2013 by pointyman2000 in Articles, Legend of the Five Rings, Roleplaying Games
Tags: , ,

Last weekend was the Character Creation and Discussion session for the All-Crane Hearts & Souls campaign that I’ve been planning. When all was said and done, I was looking at a large-ish group of players, most of which I’ve run for already in my previous L5R campaign. This is a good thing as at least I’m already comfortable with my players and nearly all of them are more than familiar with the way I run games.

Today we’ll take a look at the character concepts and the players behind them.

Doji Ai (played by Silver Countess)

Ai is a shy and retiring young woman who trained in the Kakita Artisan School. Born in auspicious circumstances, she exhibited a nearly supernatural talent in the art of weaving silks to create breathtakingly beautiful kimonos.

Ai is no stranger to tragedy, as her mother died when she was very young. Her father raised her and her brother, but due to unexplained obligations her brother was fostered to the Scorpion Clan (plot hook!) Her father passed away not long after due to an illness, leaving Ai alone in the Clan.

Thankfully her Sensei in the Artisan Academy recognized her talents and she has earned the attentions of Kakita Mai, a high ranking Courtier of the Crane, who is hell bent on dragging the poor girl to stardom whether she likes it or not.

Silver Countess prefers to play characters with a “snowflake,” a little bit of a twist that makes them unique in the world. She and I have a standing agreement that I will allow such things as long as they don’t necessarily bestow any significant mechanical advantage.

Her previous character was Kitsu Tetsumi, who had the non-canon ability to raise and speak to the dead for a short while by physically touching the corpse. In his character, Ai is able to create kimono that reflect the true feelings and nature of an individual as long as the individual gives her an item of personal value and a story about them.

Character Subthemes: Art and Emotional Development

Doji Naito (played by Mappy)

Naito was supposed to be a Magistrate, but his poor health made him an ill fit with the vocation. Instead, he decided to pursue his education and training as a Doji Magistrate.

Ordinarily insensitive to other’s needs, Naito’s one empathy lies with his wife, daughter of the Daidoji Daimyo. This made for a strange sort of arrangement as she was far above his station but the two managed it anyway.

Unfortunately his taking her as his bride also comes with a price. Her family, the Daidoji had been shamed with the actions of the Harriers, and it falls to Naito now to find a way to bring the Daidoji back to prominence.

Mappy is a player with a penchant for characters with interesting quirks and domestic issues. This is a unique case, as a self-interested Courtier might be tricky in play as most Crane come off as altruistic rather than the other way around.

Character Subthemes: Promises broken and fulfilled

Ragan (played by Hikkikomori)

A former Daidoji Iron Warrior who became a ronin with his former lord’s demise, Ragan wandered Rokugan in search for meaning. His lord had not been a kind man, and Ragan was a glorified weapon. Now that he was free, Ragan set his sword aside until such time that he discovers the true meaning of the Samurai code.

Once while fighting off a group of ruffians while barehanded, Ragan was assisted by an old master of the Kaze-Do martial art, who took him in as a student to better prepare the Ronin in his personal quest to discover his own code.

Ragan was recently hired by Doji Haruko, a destitute Doji Courtier who could not afford a true Crane Yojimbo, and the Ronin finds himself being brought back to the Clan of his birth, not certain if he’ll find what he was seeking here.

Hikkikomori loves playing characters who push the boundaries of the “usual.” In Never a Dull Blade he played Akodo Kenji, the Spymaster who bent the rules of Bushido to do what was best for the Clan. Here he’s playing a Ronin, probably one of the most separated from the usual Crane concept, but he does lend an outsider’s perspective to the game.

Character Subthemes: Honor, Bushido and Second Chances

Asahina Satsu (played by Tarathiel23)

Born to the Asahina family, Satsu was sent to study with the Isawa the moment he revealed that he was possessed of a rare talent: He was an Ishiken-Do, a shugenja capable of harnessing the enigmatic element of the Void.

Unfortunately, a series of family tragedies involving his Uncle and all his cousins left him as the only viable heir to a Crane holding in Toshi Ranbo, the Imperial Capital. The holding, which exists in the Merchant Quarters, is a major lynchpin to the Crane’s continued economic dominance. In order to maintain stability the Crane have asked Satsu to return.

Raised by the Isawa, surrounded by kami and having lived long in the serene temples of the Phoenix, Satsu returns as a stranger to his homeland. That said, he is determined to live up to the expectations of a true Crane, even if he himself has doubts if he even understands the Clan anymore.

Satsu is played by Tarathiel23, who was in the Never a Dull Blade campaign as Matsu Broli. His character is a bit of an odd duck (and at this point, aren’t they all?) However, he does have a strong sense for administrative tasks from his real life work and his character’s Phoenix clan background can let him get away with “creative” solutions that most Crane might balk at.

Character Subthemes: Outside Looking In, Familial Obligations

Asahina Tomiko (played by Maddie)

Tomiko is Satsu’s sister, and is a Courtier working for the Clan. She’d seen first hand her Uncle’s family’s passing, leaving her quite shaken. However, she’s determined to make sure that the family’s “curse” is disproven now that her brother has returned and the control of the holding has come to their hands.

Having spent the most time in Toshi Ranbo than any of the other characters, Tomiko has an extensive history in the Imperial Capital. Along with it come allies and enemies both, and she would be the one with the best know-how of the local politics of the city and it’s major players.

Maddie is a very interaction-heavy player and the role of a Courtier suits her very well. I’m excited to run a game for her as I’ve never really had a decent chance to run a full campaign with her on board.

Character Subthemes: Familial Obligations, Defiance of Fate

Asahina Tezuka (played by Paulo)

Paulo’s character is a young Asahina shugenja with incredible potential and skill in spellcraft… and an utter lack of respect. Spoiled, entitled and overall disagreeable to most of humanity. His father, shamed at his child had decided that it was time for his overly-spoiled prodigy to be sent to do something for the Clan, rather than just while away the time in the Asahina Temples.

With his funding and posh lifestyle taken out of him, the boy finds himself thrown into the real world without ceremony. Now he has to find a way to survive, and only the Fortunes know what kind of experiences he’ll have out there.

Paulo is also a player from the Never A Dull Blade campaign, and this is a far cry from his former adventures as Akodo Senji, the tactician known for his valor, honor and selfless dedication to the Clan. I’m really looking forward to how the game goes, and he has expressed an interest in “growing” the character emotionally and looking forward to see how he can bring his character to a full story arc.

Character Subthemes: Growth, Learning by Failure

And there you have it. My full cast of Player Characters for Hearts and Souls, all of which are rather interesting in their own ways. Some might notice that there are no duelists in this crew, which might be a problem later on. That said, I have every confidence that this team’s imaginative approach to problems will mean that duels to the death won’t be quite as common as most people will think.

It’s an interesting mix and now I’m pretty much eyebrow’s deep in the plotting and planning for the campaign. Given the number of Courtiers and Shugenja in the team, I’m looking at having to make a lot of non-combat encounters. I also anticipate having to make a lot of NPCs for the game with differing agendas to make things interesting.

My one biggest challenge here is how to make non-combat encounters interesting and potentially nerve-wracking. Thankfully L5R has a very strong social structure, with courts and very real consequences for failure or shame, so hopefully that will help.

  1. Hikkikomori says:

    We have no Kakita and Duelist. haha. This will be fun.

  2. yamasaki says:

    I’m not well versed with L5R… is having no duelist like having no striker in DnD 4e?

    • Hi Yamasaki!

      Think of it this way, in a Japan-inspired setting like Rokugan, Duels are often the “civilized” means of resolving disputes among samurai once it has been established that words have failed. So for a political game, this team is lacking anyone to stand as their champion in a duel. :p

      It’s not a crippling deficiency by any stretch, but it’s interesting since in most games, most players tend to stereotype the Crane Clan Duelist much in the same way as “Dwarf = Fighter” or “Elf = Ranger or Wizard”

    • Hikkikomori says:

      Ya. Technically, we have no “Lawyer” is what having no Duelist means.
      Because in L5R, evidence can be easily outweighed by Status or a highly skilled champion.

      Might makes right, and all that.

      Duelists in the system have abilities that are more optimized in that kind of challenge, as even compared to a optimized regular Fighter-class.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s