måndag 21 november 2016

Rokugan Basara: Notable Places

I'm considering reversing the hemisphere, so the equator is to the north. Southern Rokugan is cold, and northern Rokugan (with the exception of mountain tops) is warm.
Large sections of Unicorn lands are desert, there's occasional savanna in Lion territory (as is inexplicably the case in canon Rokugan, presumably to explain the presence of actual lions), Mantis island climate is more Iceland than Okinawa, Dragon has pockets of tropical heat in valleys, with temperate-to-cold peaks.

On the other hand, considering it's all supposed to be covered in deep snow in winter, maybe it's better to discard realistic climate entirely and just assume everywhere is really hot in summer and really cold in winter.

Either way, here are some notable cities:

Capital of Peace / Capital City / the Imperial Capital (Otosan Uchi)
A city more defined by craftsmanship than trade - many of the Empire's finest artisans compete for the honour of plying their trade in the Capital. Defined by a distinctly upper aristocratic culture, as influenced by the proximity of the Emperor. A Mekka for many High Skills. "Necessary evils" - waste management, executions, prostitution, trade (of things you did not make) - are relegated to the furthest edges of town, usually outside the city walls. Permanent artisan-run shops are accepted in the city proper, but getting a permit is difficult.

Ranbo City / Ranbo / City of Drink (Toshi Ranbo)
Known primarily for "Ranbo" - an ancient variety of "white spirit", a type of alcoholic drink similar in strength and feel to vodka. Loved by locals and connoisseurs and made famous by the many Kakita Artisans who've settled in the city and composed miles of verse in honour of the drink.
- Alcohol ceremony still more common than tea ceremony
- Decent "second choice" for artisans that don't establish themselves in the Capital
- Commercial hub of east Rokugan, picking up a lot of the business that would've taken place in the Capital had it not been so openly disdainful of merchants
- Stark, conservative architecture

City of Sacrifice / Isawa's City / Gisei Toshi
Secret city of the Phoenix. An extreme student-town shrouded in secrecy - no commerce to speak of, not a lot of outsiders, almost everyone you meet is in some way involved with the Isawa shugenja school.

City of the Rich Frog / City of Heaven's Judgement / City of Foreigners
Built towards the end of the Lion-Unicorn war and functions as a gateway in and out of Rokugan proper. The third name is only relevant if the Unicorn eventually lose, in which case it becomes the only city in the Empire that is open to foreign merchants, which primarily arrive through the desert between the northwestern mountains deep in Unicorn lands. The Second name may be used if they are defeated by the Lion specifically (as opposed to the Hantei restoration), which results in Unicorn exile from the Empire and them being included in the "foreigners" who are only allowed to enter Rokugan through the city.
Either way, it is the only city that sees a decent amount of Dragon(/Dragonfly) presence, which, combined with the prevalence of foreigners, and the ever-present Unicorn-Lion tension, gives the city a strange vibe. Most Rokugani experience it as extremely exotic.

Journey's End / Greenwall / City of Lies (Ryoko Owari)
The city most affected by the result of the Unicorn's invasion of Rokugan.
- if the Unicorn remain in charge, and the city is still de Facto Capital of the Empire. The previous Capital retains its name, but little of its political significance.
- if the Lion exile the Unicorn and the Hantei restoration fails the Shogunate takes control of the city, likely leaves the day-to-day running of most of the northwestern former Scorpion lands to the Ikoma.
- if the Scorpion survive the war and hold the city (either the restoration succeeds, or blame is successfully deflected after it fails) the Scorpion come to embrace many of its Unicorn-era quirks, including merchant culture, the booming drug trade, its criminal gangs, its unapologetic hedonism. In the post-war era it becomes a favourite gathering place for a hip new breed of romantic upper class youth.

Rokugan Basara: misc changes from vanilla

All Shugenja, through their three starting spells, are proficient in "basic sorcery", ie what everyone with the talent was doing before Isawa invented spells, the "sorcerers" of the first era. Generally I allow Shugenja to achieve almost any supernatural effect they can think of if they are prepared to spend enough time, effort, and resources bargaining and making pacts with the right spirits.

It's more time consuming than spells, and not something anyone in their right mind would do in the middle of a fight, but it's open ended and can make for great roleplaying.


Gaijin pepper = Mountain pepper
Developed by the Agasha during the Two Rokugans era, thus the name-change. Partly a response to a worrying decrease in children with a talent for sorcery. No muskets until much later, mostly explosives/fireworks. Takes a few years to really take hold in Rokugani culture, first as a tool of war, then as entertainment.


Kiho are different things to different people, but on a metagame level I think of them as psychic powers. Some people have a natural affinity and kiho can occur untrained, but this is rare. They're a common side-effect of dedication to Bharata (Shintao), which has caused adherents to regard them as a sign of enlightenment. In reality, they're the result of a quiet, "uncluttered" mind, which is something Bharata helps with, and something Ancestor Worship, Fortunism, and Xavism generally do not.
I'm reversing the Bushi/Shugenja relationship, making it easier for Bushi to learn and harder for Shugenja, as well as making them harder to learn and execute for anyone with abilities, advantages, or disadvantages that imply a strong spiritual connection (anything that involves contact with ancestors, for example).

Many shugenja schools gradually move towards kiho use (in meta-game terms filling their ranks with "monks" instead of shugenja) as the talent for spellcasting grows rarer over time (the Tamori's more martial focus and kiho-like blade-summoning strikes me as a clear example of this, as does the kuni witch hunters, which I would populate primarily with Kuni who were born without the gift).

Because of its anti-spirit overtones, kiho are highly controversial in the Lion, and not uncommonly viewed with skepticism or scorn among dedicated adherents of non-Bharata religions.


Unarmed combat skills split into a more pugilism oriented and a more grappling oriented skill. Regional differences accounted for with kata/kiho and by "knowing the school". These are still experimental, so game balance may be non-existent.

Striking Art
alt names: Pugilism / Foot and Fist / "Kenpō"
Armor-based damage reduction counts double, but no need to ready a weapon and no risk of getting disarmed (even if they cut your arms off, you can still kick and headbutt). Also covers improvised weapons. Practiced primarily by monks and peasants.
0k1 (roll dice equal to strength and keep one, dice explode)
Rank 3: 1k1
Rank 5: 1k2

Grappling Art
alt names: Jiujutsu / Kaze-do
Used to either grapple as per the grappling rules, or to disarm, redirect, or trip an opponent that is attacking you.
Reactive Grappling: Unarmed disarm attempts do 0k1 dmg instead of 2k1, but require only one raise if done against someone who's just attacked you (with three raises you take your opponent's weapon). You also get a free raise when you make a Grappling / Agility roll against someone attacking you at close range to trip or throw them (as "throwing" in the grapple rules). Taught in most bushi schools, practiced by everyone. Requires one extra raise to use while holding a weapon larger than a knife.
Rank 3: Reactive grappling (against opponents who've attacked you) is now a simple action (2 per round)
Rank 5: Free raise when initiating a grapple


No longer a skill. Ninja-weapons are all covered by whichever weapons skill seems relevant.

Ninja experience a golden age during the Two Rokugans era, especially on the Shogunate side. Many villages that struggle to survive, whether because the war ruined the harvest or their land was barren to begin with, switch focus to training ninja for the local clan in exchange for economic support.

The average ninja would beat the average samurai in a fight. Their skillset is more pragmatic (fewer court-related skills), they're a lot less predictable (using rarely seen weapons), and they do not "fight fair" (most samurai would not willingly do things like coat their blade in excrement). Most are peasants, some are eta, very few are samurai. Way of the Land is common, as is carrying a kitten beneath your clothes as a pocket watch.