Among the virtues of Bushido, the Unicorn Clan are the one most closely associated with that of Compassion. In a Warrior’s Code, Compassion seems like the odd duck in the list, with Courtesy making more sense at first.
That said, Compassion does have a place, and I find it interesting that the Unicorn are the one who practice it the most. Compassion in this context is the sense of responsibility that a Samurai has to those who rely upon him for protection.
Each of the Clans in Rokugan exhibit an excess in one of each of these Virtues. In the Unicorn’s case they are willing to break the rules to be able to help people in need. Being from a different cultural background, they don’t have issues with helping those beneath their station.
Historically, they’ve been involved in activities that fall under the category of everyday heroics as opposed to legendary deeds. The stories of the Unicorn fighting off the plague zombies to protect the peasants is an example of their devotion to the virtue of Compassion.
Compassion also shines through in the Unicorn clan’s purpose of being the eyes and ears of the Empire beyond its borders. They were meant to see dangers to the Empire long before they could arrive. While one could argue that this is a function of Duty, one cannot ignore that the purpose of an early warning system is to save lives via prevention, an inherently compassionate goal.
One could also say that their choice of returning and staying to perform their duties to a land that shuns them is also a function of compassion. The Unicorn could have just left again, as they are always comfortable on a journey, but they know that they are needed, and even if the rest of the Empire see them as strangers, the Unicorn’s hearts are in the right place.
So how does the virtue of Compassion tie into the campaign? For one thing, the Unicorn’s purpose is to uplift Rokugan beyond it’s current state. With the introduction of technologies, concepts and sciences rokugan is to become stronger, before it’s too late. I’ve a few ideas as to what could require such a drastic change in the Empire, but I’m holding that in reserve until my players have finalized their characters.
Compassion is also the virtue that allows the PCs to push on despite adversity. While it’s easy to throw your arms up in annoyance at the closed-minded xenophobic ways of the Empire, the Unicorn know that what they’re trying to implement is good for the Empire as a whole, and they won’t give up on trying just because people are being prissy. The Unicorn will find a way.