Unknown Rokugan

Unknown Rokugan
Playing in Rokugan, but with Unknown Armies 3 rules.

Unknown Rokugan.

The Basics
We are using the Unknown Armies 3rd edition rules more or less unchanged. Obviously, there are no firearms in the setting and rituals requiring elevators or trains have no place in this setting, but many other things work suprinsingly well.

Identities for examples are a perfect match for the L5R schools. “I am a Kakita Bushi, of course I can write a haiku.”

Also, the five shock gauges work surprisingly well and can be associated with one of the rings:

  • Violence is associated with Fire, and is a no-brainer in this war torn setting.
  • Helplessness is associated with Water, and is a feeling that you can experience everywhere.
  • Isolation is associated with Air, especially in the sense of being socially isolated in the rigid Rokugani sociaty.
  • Self is associated with Earth, and is always in question when you perform your duty, but act against your own beliefs.
  • Unnatural is associated with Void, and is also always present in form of the Kami and the Shadowlands.

The Bushi of Rokugan can be as deadly as guns. And I mean that literally, because they are using essentially the rules for firearms to deal damage.

Bushi Training is a new identity feature. Most of the samurai weapons are melee weapons and could be used as such, but in the hands of a trained bushi they become even more devastating. Everyone who acquires this feature learns the basics and acquires one of five specialisations: jujutsu, polearms, heavy weapons, shinobi and niten.

Weapon Type Range Damage Cap Examples
Short Blades Melee 35 Wakisashi, Ninja-to, Kama
Long Blades Melee 50 Katana, No-dachi, Scimitar
Bows Medium 40 Yumi, Dai-kyu
Jujutsu Melee 30 Unarmed Combat
Polearms Melee 80 Naginata, Yari
Heavy Weapons
Heavy Weapons Melee 120 Tetsubo, Ono
Shinobi Light 30 Kusarigama, Shuriken, Blowpipes
Niten Melee 70 Daisho

Some weapons seem to be more advantageous than others and quite honestly they are. However, sometimes having a long stick to poke someone on a horse might be more advantageous than wielding a giant tetsubo.

Obviously, no firearm specific rules like suppressive fire or full automatic apply… even though full automatic katana sound kind of awesome now that I type it.

The Courtiers in Rokugan can hurt with words alone. Your best weapon is to stress out your oppenent and the “Coerce a Meter” feature seems rather tailor made for this.

The Monks can push the limits of the human body.

Kiho Use is a new identity feature. You can attempt to push your body beyond its limits, by performing a Violence 10 Stress Check. If it succeeds you can do all sorts of crazy things: Jumping on top of a building, holding your breath for hours, sense Kami or other spiritual beings which you should not be able to percieve, or simply deal damage with your fists as if you had received “Bushi Training: Jujutsu” for the duration of a combat. Just to name a few.

Why a violence stress check? Physical fitness is an important part of being a monk and this is exactly what is used to defend against violence. The more you harden yourself, the better you become at struggle but you will be more and more removed from society since you loose the ability to connect with people. And if you play too fast and loose with this ability you will descent into madness… In the end the rules felt like describing the path of the monk.

Of course other professions like the Shinobi might also make use of this identity feature and the tattoos of the Dragon Clan are also covered to a good part by this feature.

The Shugenja can communicate with the Kami and cast powerful spells.

In the end Shugenja follow the rules for adepts. There are three types of Shugenja: Void Shugenja, Elemental Shugenja (Earth, Air, Fire, Water) and Specialist Shugenja (Wards of the Yogo, Bloodspeakers, Ancestors of the Kitsu, Inquisitors, etc.).

Shugenja in generally are not restricted in the from of magick they use, except for spells which would fall under the domain of the void which can only be accessed by Void Shugenja.

  • Void Shugenja have a general Omega +1 and an additional Omega +1 (+2 in total) if they try to use spells not assocciated with the Void.
  • Elemental Shugenja have no Omega modification when dealing with their element, but if they try to use a spell outside their domain they receive an Omega +1 or an Omega +2 if the spell is associated with the opposing element (Earth and Air are opposing, so are Fire and Water).
  • Specialist Shugenja – as the name implies – have usually a stronger focus on a certain type of magick. Rather than being generalist, their magick serves a specific purpose. Specialist Shugenja have Omega -1 when they work within their domain, but Omega +2 in all other cases.

What stuff belongs to an element? Well, apart from the obvious stuff, like Fire Shugenja can create fire, the shock gauges (stress, upbeat and downbeat skills) are also associated with an element (see the basics, above).

For most Shugenja the following stats are true:

  • Generate a Minor Charge: You are the spiritual backbone of Rokugan. Your daily temple and prayer duties generate a minor charge per day.
  • Generate a Significant Charge: Certain events are of major importance for the community and required spiritual guidance. When you are the Shugenja in charge of a marriage, a funeral or another major social event, you receive a significant charge.
  • Generate a Major Charge: Major charges can be acquired by directly communing with a dragon or beings of similar spiritual power.
  • Taboo: Being a Shugenja is a life of constant dedication. Whenever you skip a day of your duties, you loose all charges acquired. Should you ever acquire Bushi Training you will never be able to acquire charges in any way, shape or form again.

The End
And that’s basically it…

This version of L5R obviously has no rules for glory or honor, but would focus more on the personal struggle of the samurai. Living in a world of war, duty, and magic and stuggling to live up to the expections which are placed on them by society.

The original version of this was put together before the release of Fantasy Flight Games Beta Rules for a new official version of the Legend of the Five Rings RPG. After the release of the Beta, the question was raised whether the concepts of Giri and Ninjo, prominently featured in these rules could be integrated into Unknown Rokugan.

Yes, they can.

To add Ninjo and Giri, make the following changes to Passions:

  • Your Noble Passion becomes your Giri (effects stay the same).
  • Your Rage Passion becomes your Ninjo (effects stay the same).
  • Finally, your Fear Passion becomes your Taint (effects stay the same).

Especially the latter one is interesting, as you automatically gain a meter/ring that makes you especially susceptible to Taint…

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