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Whether you’re a wily Mantis Clan pirate that’s plying the high seas, a Unicorn Clan cavalary shugenja, or just a disciple of the courtly arts, you’re going to find something fun in our newest L5R RPG Release, the Book of Water.
Ivory Edition should be hitting your friendly local game stores in the next few days as the world prepares for the March 10th release date. In celebration of the release, we’re happy to bring you a few more pictures of the product that you will soon hold in your hands. Enjoy!
The penultimate chapter in our series of fictions examining the state and relations of the Great Clans during the lead-up to Ivory Edition!
The Science of Madness
By Brian Yoon
Edited by Fred Wan
Night fell quickly over Shiro Shiba.
The sunlight disappeared in the blink of an eye, and the chill settled into the land. The mountain felt more desolate than ever before. Weeks earlier, winter had reached forth and grasped the Phoenix mountains with its cold and unrelenting fingers. It seemed to have no intent to yield. Winds howled against the castle walls and dark clouds roiled across the sky, letting no hope of moonlight reach the ground. Torches flickered and limped back to life as guards struggled to keep them alive. Isawa Tsumaro stood at his balcony and watched the lights illuminate and disappear across the courtyard. It left a hauntingly incomplete image of the castle that shifted and blurred with the falling snow.
The winds raged around him, too. The air enveloped him, challenged him, and whispered in his ear the language of the kami. It was not the embrace of a friend but the defiant challenge of the competitor. A vindictive impulse rose unbidden in his mind. For a brief moment, he imagined raising his hands and using his knowledge to match his power against the elements. It was an empty thought, and a small smile crossed his face as he dismissed the childish challenge from his mind. He raised his hands and let the winds buffet strongly against him. He welcomed the ache.
The sound of the wind nearly covered everything else, and he almost missed the footsteps in his room. His yojimbo entered the bedroom and bowed curtly. “Tsumaro-sama, a visitor has arrived for the Master of Air.”
Tsumaro paused in stride. “And it begins,” he said. “The weight of responsibility begins its grind against my patience, and the only way to win against it is to refuse what society expects of me. How can I survive against such odds?”
The yojimbo did not answer and Tsumaro had not expected one. He had rarely found good company among the Shiba. “Send him in,” he said, not quite suppressing a sigh.
The Shiba nodded to him and left the room. Tsumaro began to cycle through faces in his mind as he pondered the identity of his unexpected visitor. Though he made light of the situation, he knew that there were very few people who would intrude on the privacy of the Master of Air. There were very few people who had the right to do so. Perhaps, he mused, it was one who did not have that right. A newly appointed Elemental Master would be the perfect target for political maneuverings, and he knew that the court viewed his political prowess as middling at best.
Tsumaro’s mouth moved in a gesture that resembled a grimace more than a smile. If his visitor were expecting easy, startled prey, he would be sorely mistaken.
His visitor had heavy footsteps. Tsumaro’s expectations were already skewed, as he had expected the finesse of a courtier. But clearly, those steps belonged to a warrior. Tsumaro smoothed his expression and waited for the man to step into the room and into the light. The man still bore his heavy cloak across his shoulders, bearing with it a sample of the heavy snowfall outdoors.
Tsumaro’s thoughts paused. He bowed deeply.
“Seiken-sama,” he said. “It is an honor and a surprise, and I cannot recall any time where I meant both so sincerely.”
Iweko Seiken, the first born son of the Empress, bowed back. “You are Isawa Tsumaro? I have heard the name before, though I do not remember much.”
“It is kind of you to say, Seiken-sama, but the consideration is not necessary. I was but a helper before I came to the position, and it is my future actions that will place a mark upon history, not what came before.”
The heir smiled slightly. The gesture did not reach his eyes. “Congratulations on your ascension, Tsumaro-san. I held your predecessor in the highest esteem.”
“Ah – yes,” Tsumaro said, nodding. “Mitsuko-sama is a hero of the Phoenix Clan, and it is my desire to bear her mantle. Not literally, of course.”
The joke gave Seiken pause, and the heir continued without acknowledging it. “She was by my side throughout the Colonies and I am grateful for her help. The struggle in the SecondCity would have not gone as… smoothly… without her.” He looked around the room and took in the generic surroundings. “In truth,” he continued, “I had hoped that she retained the position when I first began my trip to the Phoenix lands. I understand that it was her time to lay down her duty and I do not begrudge her for it, but it is still unfortunate.”
“Many things could be considered unfortunate, Seiken-sama,” Tsumaro said. His irreverence pushed forth the rest of the sentence from his mouth. “Not the least of which is the irregularity of this meeting.”
Seiken stared at him without a word.
Since I have stepped on this path… Tsumaro thought, and he jumped in with both feet toward the realm of the impolite. “It is ill advised to venture through the NorthernWallMountains during the heart of winter, my lord. It is an even worse idea to make the trip after the setting of the sun. Since I heard no fanfare regarding your arrival, you must have recently entered the city. That is never done. It would be highly presumptuous of a visitor to rouse anybody, let alone an Elemental Master, from his sleep for a meeting at these hours. Yet you arrived at my quarters without hesitation. I say that these factors are unfortunate, Seiken-sama, because they all point toward a calamity that I will no doubt need to corral with both hands.” He paused, then bowed his head slightly. “Of course, I do not disparage the intent behind your journey here. Clearly, the events that spur you have brought such actions to necessity.”
“Clearly,” Seiken repeated, and the hint of laughter rang through the single word. The heir studied Tsumaro. He met the gaze without a hint of the uncertainty clouding his thoughts.
“There are few who would speak to the imperial heir in such a manner,” Seiken said. “There are fewer still who would do so within moments of the first meeting.”
Tsumaro nodded. “From what I have heard, Iweko Seiken is the type of warrior who will not let a few impolite words govern his decisions.”
“So I have heard,” the heir replied. “Perhaps it is for the best that you have become the Master of Air, Tsumaro-san. There are few people who would tolerate such outbursts from their subordinates.”
“There are few that can object to them, now that I am on the Elemental Council,” Tsumaro said, finishing the thought.
Seiken smiled. “I heard of the change in the Elemental Council on the road here. I knew little of Isawa Tsumaro, other than a few facts. I had to know the measure of the man before I could trust him. Hence the…” Seiken gestured to the darkness of night outside the balcony— “—unfortunate irregularities.”
“And have I passed your test, Seiken-sama?” he asked.
“You have not failed it,” Seiken replied.
Tsumaro let a portion of his frustration mar his expression. “The Master of Air has not failed your test? Seiken-sama, let the position be clear. The Council of Five has held a position of absolute power throughout the history of the empire. Those masters wielded powers beyond imagining and governed the fate of magic across Rokugan. These shugenja would not have brooked contempt of any kind. Heavens forfend what these legends would have done if they had been tested, even by an Imperial heir. The position demands respect, even if the man does not.”
Seiken met his gaze. “We understand each other, then.”
Tsumaro nodded. “We do.”
* * * * *
The servant cleared the pot of tea from the table and shuffled out of the room. Tsumaro placed the cup down and studied the shogi board. “Your adventure in the SecondCity went better than any of us expected,” he stated.
“The Master of Air was by my side,” Seiken responded. He shifted his piece and nodded toward the Master of Air.
“Mitsuko-sama was the only reason I believed there was a remote possibility of success,” Tsumaro said. “Only fools believe they can match strength against the powers that lie above us. The elements. Dragons. It was madness. It was all madness.”
Seiken took a sip of tea before his riposte. “Madness? Would anything else have made any sense against the dragon of pure madness itself? It was your research that planted the seed of victory in your predecessor’s mind. Instead of fighting P’an Ku we fought to loosen his grip on that accursed land.”
“That had been a very private conversation, Seiken-sama. How did you—”
“When a man prepares to face madness itself, he prepares,” Seiken answered. “I knew you were brilliant, if only because Mitsuko-san trusted you to lead in her stead.”
“We come back to your test, then,” Tsumaro said, frowning. “Why would you bother this elaborate ruse if you trusted in Mitsuko-sama’s judgment?”
“There is a difference in trust in a man’s research and trust in a man,” Seiken responded. “Your knowledge was never in question since it. Your knowledge helped us bring an end to it all. Tell me, what else have you found regarding P’an Ku’s madness on a man? Does it forever change those who are grazed by its reach? Is there hope for the Colonies?”
The two masters began to react faster and the play on the shogi board intensified.
“Few scholars have had the luxury of finding out,” Tsumaro said. “Of course, there were the occasional Asako who fell prey to their own weakened minds, but the lunacy had never raged without cease as it has in the Colonies. Someone must take this opportunity to study the ones who reveled in the touch of P’an Ku. You could usher in the answers to your own question, should you wish to wield your authority.”
Seiken stared down at his tea. “Samurai fell mad regardless of affiliation. It must be a research group of shugenja from every Great Clan who would decipher this cause.”
“No,” Tsumaro rejected emphatically. “It would only cause bias and tension among the group. It is a sensitive subject, Seiken-sama. The researchers must be from one Clan, to make sure that work can be accomplished.”
“Wouldn’t such a group carry the biases of their Clan?” Seiken asked. “If we were to speak of a group from the Phoenix Clan, for sake of argument, wouldn’t their findings be colored by the history of conflict that the Phoenix have had over the centuries?”
“It could be avoided if these shugenja had devoted their entire lives to the study of the kami in the greatest libraries of the land,” Tsumaro said. “These samurai would care only for the solution to the puzzle as an extension of their life’s work. The ryuma drops to my side.”
“Well played,” the heir said. “I do not like the idea of one group being solely responsible for understanding this threat. P’an Ku is not destroyed and we must be prepared if such madness were to strike again. Yet your concerns of intergroup conflict are valid. What if we were to send three research teams into the Colonies to find out the truth? In theory, we could use a team of Phoenix shugenja, Scorpion scholars, and Dragon mystics to come to their own conclusions. Kyosha promotion,” he said, slamming the piece onto the board.
Tsumaro laughed. “You know the strife that has occurred due to philosophical differences. The influence of Fudo has caused strife across the land, and that is a simple philosophical turn from centuries long past. Three separate conclusions, from three different Clans? That would only raise conflict. I fear that conflict will rage across the Great Clans instead. In check.”
Seiken moved his king piece effortlessly. “But it would be impossible to choose just one Great Clan for such an important task. The others who were not chosen would not accept their findings.”
Tsumaro shook his head. His defenses were crumbling under the combined assault of Seiken’s pieces. “That is no problem. As the heir, you have the ability to set forth a sanction with the weight of Imperial power. Whichever Clan you choose will be able to study and test and solve the problem without interference, with your help.”
“Think of what a studious Clan could do with such uninterrupted power. If the Phoenix were to bear that responsibility—”
“The Phoenix helped you venture into the madness the first time,” Tsumaro interrupted. He suddenly felt as if the inevitability of the conversation was bearing down upon him, and he wanted to bypass some steps along the way. “We would be the perfect shugenja to continue the research, since we have made so much headway.”
Seiken frowned. “Your Phoenix researchers have never been to the Colonies. If they were to study the madness, they would need to venture to the SecondCity and—”
“We would send a new detachment of the finest Shiba warriors to go with them,” Tsumaro interjected again. “You have much experience in the Colonies. I am sure the Shiba would agree to follow your lead, since it would be only possible to find the answers of the madness with your personal sanction. Seiken-sama, it may be the only way to gain this knowledge.”
Seiken did not look at all displeased by the interruptions. “That is very generous of you, Tsumaro-san. Checkmate,” he said, placing a kyosha next to Tsumaro’s osho.
“I have lost,” Tsumaro said. He bowed deeply to his opponent.
Seiken bowed back. “Thank you for the spirited battle.”
“It was not my spirit that was lacking, only skill. We both know that the battle ended twelve steps before this last.”
Seiken nodded. “Yes, though only the insensitive would raise the obvious beyond the veils of custom.”
Tsumaro shrugged. “It does not suit me to speak with double meanings.”
“Yet you do it so well,” Seiken said. “As a warrior, I find the endgame of a shogi game to be the most interesting. Once the defenses have been breached and the end is in sight, both players are aware of the looming fate. They know the stakes and know the outcome, but the only way to honor the game is to play out the hand as it is dealt.”
“Of course,” Tsumaro said. “An opponent who does not gracefully accept the defeat is no opponent at all.”
* * * * *
Dawn rolled by without a change. The weather held Shiro Shiba in siege and it only seemed to intensify its assault as time passed. Shiba Eraki stepped out beyond the castle walls as he did every morning regardless of the conditions. He took several deep breaths as he cleared all thought from his mind. The clouds covered the sky but years of repetition had drilled the proper time into him. As the sun crested the mountains, Eraki began his kata.
He had nearly finished when he first became aware of the pair of men who was approaching him. He ignored them.
Thirty minutes later he was done. He resisted the urge to wipe the sweat from his eyes as he placed his katana in his sheath. He turned back toward the castle. His eyes widened with mild surprise as he found the same men watching him.
He bowed and quickly glanced over his visitors. They were both bushi, and one of them was clearly the yojimbo of the other. They wore simple clothes, unadorned with mons of any sort.
“I hope you did not wait long,” Eraki said.
The young man nodded. “We did. You had just begun the Dance of the Void when we arrived here. If I remember correctly, that is only the third kata in the sequence.”
Eraki raised an eyebrow. “Only people who have trained with the Shiba know of that particular kata sequence. It is not one that is practiced widely beyond these borders.”
He bowed. “I spent some time with the Shiba in my youth. I am Iweko Seiken.”
Eraki nodded. “Yes, I see now. I remember the ruckus when you were here.”
The hint of a smile crossed Seiken’s face. “That is what you remember most about my time here? The ruckus?”
“What else matters to me, Seiken-sama?” he asked. “I was just another bushi and I had my own duties to attend. We never met and so I never made an impression of you.”
“I am curious,” Seiken said slowly. “What is your measure of me now?”
Eraki glanced over at the yojimbo before answering. “I see a man who has endured the bite of winter without real cause. It does not bode well to his state of mind.”
Seiken laughed, the sound muted by the wind. “My body agrees with you. Still, I do not intend to stay here much longer and I wanted to speak to you before I left.”
Eraki frowned. “Me? How do you know who I am?”
“My yojimbo approached the morning guards and asked each one the warrior they held in highest esteem,” Seiken answered. “To a man, they directed us to you.”
Eraki schooled his features. He could not speak.
“Have you heard much about the recent events in the Colonies?” Seiken asked.
“I have heard snippets. I do not brook much gossip among my students, though, and I have done much to suppress the spurious talk.”
“What you have heard is true, and likely less than half of the enormity of the situation. The Colonies are a disgrace,” he said bluntly.
“By the will of the Empress-” Eraki began to say.
“The best part of being the Imperial Heir is being able to say what needs to be said,” Seiken interrupted. “I do not mean to challenge the Empress or her decisions. Her will is absolute, yet the samurai who follow it are not. Madness fell across the Colonies, and it was only due to the strength of a few samurai that it did not entirely fall to ruin.”
“And you plan on solving the problem of the Colonies,” Eraki stated.
“Yes,” Seiken said.
“I suppose the Imperial Heir does not worry about what impressions he may give with his words,” Eraki said.
“The difference between arrogance and confidence is slight,” Seiken said. “In my case, I do not mince words because I know it is within my power to help the Colonies.
Eraki bowed in response.
“The Master of Air has promised me a unit of Phoenix samurai when I go back to the Colonies. I want you with them.”
“My lord?” Eraki asked. “I am just a ritual master. I am no general.”
“I know,” Seiken said. “I have no intention of elevating you beyond your station and I have no large role for you within my plans. I need you, and a thousand men like you. I need to know that I will have samurai of conviction following my banner. If you are willing, you will be the first.”
Eraki’s mind raced with a hundred thoughts — but in the end, it was a simple choice. He knelt in the snow and bowed deeply to the Imperial Heir.
* * * * *
From the distance, the treacherous mountain path seemed to be a blanket of pure white. The view was marred only by two figures in heavy clothing as they led horses away from the castle. The wind howled mournfully around them. The speed was necessitated by the dangerous conditions; one false step spelled danger for the travelers. The delay did not bother them. After all, the journey home always passed quicker than the journey there.
“My lord,” one finally asked, breaking the silence. “Were you able to bring them to your side?”
The other glanced over at his companion. Only his eyes were visible. “Some of them. It will be enough.” He could not keep the satisfaction from his voice.
“I do not mean to doubt your judgment, lord, but…”
“Speak,” he replied. There was no censure in his voice.
“Of all the clans, why would you approach the Phoenix first?”
His eyes were unreadable. “You overheard my conversation with Eraki-san.”
“Yes,” he admitted. “But…”
“I pride myself in my conviction. My will is absolute when I decide on a course of action. Everything I will do from here out will be to solve one of two problems. The Phoenix will help me bring the Colonies to order.”
“And the other?”
He stopped to face his yojimbo. He pulled the mask from his face and smiled grimly.
Discuss the events of this fiction in our Story Forum!
With the impending release of Ivory Edition, we at AEG are working diligently to provide your store with the tools necessary to grow the L5R Community in your area and ensure movement of our products.
We realize that brick and mortar “friendly local game stores” are critical to the success and growth of our game and therefore want to support them in every way we can. With that in mind, we are pleased to inform you that AEG will be sending directly to our retailers special promotional packs, containing the Alternate Art printings of our L5R Eternity Cards.
These cards, released several years ago, remain legal for tournament and event play. We know many players are desirous of obtaining these cards to update their collection, or to assist them in getting into playing the game with the new edition.
The only way to obtain these promotional reprints will be to visit a local brick and mortar retailer. If they purchased an Ivory Edition Launch Kit for their store, they will already have received several of these packs with their Launch Kit. In an effort to promote sales of Ivory Edition product and, as a result, healthy and vibrant playgroups in your local store, we have recommended that they distribute them with a purchase.
Beginning early March, we will be sending all of our Level 1 and higher Stronghold Stores additional Eternity Packs in order to meet their likely demand for them.
Should any store require more packages, they can request them from us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be happy to send them out. Individual players may not request packs individually – all requests must come through Stronghold Stores.
Ivory Edition is nearly upon us, and with it comes great change, both to the world of Rokugan and to the interactive story experience that you have come to expect from the Legend of the Five Rings brand. There have been certain hints and mentions of how this is going to take place over the past few months, but the time has come to be more specific.
First and foremost, we are augmenting the normal L5R experience with an unprecedented undertaking: the creation of the first interactive Legend of the Five Rings novel. Throughout the entirety of the Ivory Edition arc, there will be unique storyline tournaments and events that will allow exclusive impact on the story taking place in the L5R Novel. This will include individual tournaments, global storyline events, votes by the Imperial Assembly, and other special means that will allow the entire L5R fan-base to participate in the creation of this new opportunity.
In addition to devoting our resources to the creation of the novel, the L5R Story Team will be rededicating itself to the quality and continuity of the fictions published on the website during the course of each month. Fictions will be released every other week on the website, each one having had ample time for proper research and editing to ensure that there are no continuity problems and that we have crafted an enjoyable narrative while simultaneously reflecting the input of the L5R fans at every available opportunity.
Ivory Edition is a brave new world for the L5R story experience, and I hope that you’re going to enjoy it as much as we’ve enjoyed planning it so far.
Today I would like to speak to you not only as the Lead Writer for the L5R Story Team, but also as a fan of the L5R story and a fan of writing in general. This will come as no surprise to most of you, since I believe it has been general knowledge for quite some time, but with the advent of Ivory Edition, we are losing a member of our family; Nancy Sauer is departing the Legend of the Five Rings Story Team after many years of meritorious service.
On the one hand, I am incredibly eager to see what new projects Nancy has planned, and as perhaps the single greatest fan of her work, you can rest assured that I will be first in line to see whatever it happens to be, whenever it becomes available.
This is of course not the first time that we have lost incredible talent from the Story Team. Since I took over as the Lead Writer, we have bid farewell to Lucas Twyman and Yoon Ha Lee, both of whom were extremely talented and a tremendous loss for us here. It’s not since we said goodbye to a great friend and literally a poet, Rusty Priske, though, that a departure has come with such incredible emotional impact. I have told many people that I think Nancy may very well be the most talented writer who has ever worked on L5R, and losing her is not only a great loss for the team, but for those of us who remain on a very personal level.
Nancy, you will be missed more than I can say. Thank you so much for your incredible body of work, and I hope that we will still see you around the L5R universe.
ADDENDUM: Since I first drafted this painful announcement, Seth Mason has also taken his leave of the team. Seth is as old a friend as I have in L5R. I will miss him greatly, and although he was with us only for a short time, his mark will be upon the game for a very long time. Thanks, Seth.
Greetings, Samurai of Rokugan!
As we prepare for the 2014 Kotei season, a problem has come to our attention. That problem is the Ashigaru deck, or more specifically, the cards Exotic Farmlands and Well-Defended Farm. These cards, while being ok on their own, combine with each other and a few other cards to create a situation that we, on Design, do not like. They give a lot of static Force at effectively no cost. What we mean by this is that Well-Defended Farm is a 2 Gold producing Holding, and its ability is “always on”, you don’t have to bow it. Exotic Farmlands does have a cost, and a hefty one at that, but playing it generally wins you the game, which is a pretty good deal. In Ivory Edition, there are few answers available to this amount of extra Force. Based on discussions among playtesters and top players from around the world, we believe there are essentially four options available:
1) Play a deck specifically capable of having a good match-up against the Ashigaru deck;
2) Give in and play Ashigaru yourself;
3) Accept that you will very likely not be able to beat these decks which, with their prevalence, likely means you stand little chance of winning a tournament; or
4) Ban Exotic Farmlands and Well-Defended Farm
Now perhaps we could be fine with banning one or the other, but not both. This is a possibility, but we would rather be safe than sorry and since these cards see very little play outside of this particular deck, we would not be depriving decks of routinely-played cards.
Not only does the presence of these cards, and the Ashigaru deck they enable, create a power issue, the deck threatens to stifle creativity in deck building, and this is the true damage this deck has on the environment. Ivory Edition offers many options for decks for all of the Clans, but the Ashigaru deck is eroding this. As the deck is easily portable from one Clan to the next, it risks turning early Ivory Edition into a “If you can’t beat them, join them” environment, muting the other options available to the Clans and demoting them to second-class decks. This has happened before; in the latter half of Gold Edition, for example, the environment very much was reduced to “Which Stronghold is the best Stronghold to play Ratlings out of”. This was not good for Gold Edition and is not something we can allow to take root in Ivory Edition.
Portability was not entirely the problem here. That has always existed to some degree with some decks. A good theme might work out of a couple Clans, and this will certainly continue to be the case from time to time. The problem here was the Ashigaru deck, while perhaps best out of a few clans, was often better than any “in Clan” options for almost all of the Clans. So I may wish to build Crane Scouts, or Crab “Big Guys”, or Dragon Kensai, but why bother? Ashigaru is simply better, so I will just build that instead to be more competitive. This was the real damage of the Ashigaru deck. It did not let players explore the richness and depth of their Clan, instead reducing Clans to an equation of “Which one synergizes best with Ashigaru?” We have created a fantastic environment that is bringing many people into the game, and the integrity of the game is paramount.
We made a promise to our players, and we intend to keep that. The promise was that we will never stop exploring new and interesting mechanics to keep the game fluid and deep. We do not wish to be overly safe and for the game to grow stagnant. Sometimes this will create a problem that is not surmountable by environmental factors, and as such, we will have to issue corrections. It is not something we do lightly, but some times action is required. Accordingly, effective March 14th, prior to the beginning of the Kotei Season, Exotic Farmlands and Well-Defended Farm will be banned from constructed Ivory Edition tournaments. The sole exception to this is players who wish to play with the A Matter of Honor decks. If you wish to play in a constructed tournament with the exact deck list found in A Matter of Honor, you may.
Greetings Samurai of Rokugan!
Below you will find the details of the 2014 Kotei Season Storyline Event: ‘Renewal‘
In the aftermath of the chaotic madness that plagued the Colonies and whose effects were even felt in Rokugan, the dust begins to settle. Now the, Clans begin to advance their own interests and goals. This reassertion of the prior status quo may benefit the Empire as a whole, but in the meantime, some see opportunities to gain power for their Clans, and even themselves…
It is still a chaotic time and order must be restored, but at what expense?
Renewal has begun.
During the 2014 Kotei season, we have sought to allow every player of L5R to directly impact how their Clan will move forward in this time of Renewal. We have established a number of ways that a person can earn Glory (calculate as a point total) for their Clan, and they are as follows:
1 Glory point to a Clan per person who attends a Kotei playing that faction.
1 Glory point to a Clan per person in the Top 8 of a Kotei.
2 Glory points to a Clan for a placing 3rd/4th at a Kotei.
3 Glory points to a Clan for placing 2nd at a Kotei.
5 Glory points to a Clan for winning a Kotei.
4 Glory points to a Clan for winning the Honor Contest at a Kotei.
Example 1: If you win a Kotei as Mantis, you will be gaining a total of seven points for the Mantis Clan; – one for attending, one for Top 8 placement, and five for winning the Kotei.
Example 2: If you come in second, but also win the Honor contest, that would be nine points; – one for attendance, one for Top 8 placement, three for 2nd place, and four for winning the Honor Contest.
Example 3: If you win both the main event and the Honor contest for the Crab Clan, that would net the Clan eleven points; – one for attendance, one for Top 8, five for winning the Kotei, and four for winning the Honor Contest.
Each Clan will be able to vote on how to spend these Glory points. There will be two such opportunities to vote. The first will occur halfway through the Kotei season (5/8/14), and the second will happen at the end of the season (7/3/14) after the last Kotei has ended. In the reward choices below, any reference to ‘another Clan’ will be determined by a second vote. The exact voting mechanisms will be explained, in detail, in a later announcement. The full list is as follows:
1,000 Glory Point Prize
The Clan that claims this prize will occupy the lands of another Clan within the Empire. The nature of this occupation will depend upon the Clans involved, and may consist of either a military occupation or a mission of aid offered to the Clan on the receiving end, but either way it will dramatically change the relationship between the two Clans, for good or ill.
750 Glory Point Prize
The Clan claiming this prize will be responsible for the death of another Clan’s family daimyo. The means of this death will be up to the Story Team to determine, but the existing relationship between the Clans will play a strong factor. No Clan may be targeted more than once in this manner.
500 Glory Point Prize
The Clan claiming this prize will win a crushing military or political victory over one of their oldest rivals. This victory will be absolute, leaving no room for argument or debate as to its outcome, and will be celebrated by the Clan as one of their greatest moments.
250 Glory Point Prize
The Clan gains a hostage in the form of a child of another Clan’s Champion or family daimyo who is fostered to the Clan claiming the prize as security against any potential hostilities from the child’s parent Clan.
100 Glory Point Prize
A hero of the Clan defeats a rival in a duel. The nature of the duel and the Clan identity of the losing Clan will be determined by a vote from registered IA members of the Clan choosing the prize.
Some of the rewards may be limited in quantity depending on the nature of the reward, and all are subject to Story Team approval. However, at the time of choosing, a Story Team member will communicate directly with the respective Clan on their individual Clan online forums. At the halfway point of the Kotei Season (following the May 3rd, 2014 Kotei) we also reserve the right to add or replace the above story options.
Ultimately, whether they decide to spend their Glory points halfway through the season or save them until the end is up to the individual Clans. The total Glory point accumulation, for the purpose of tiebreaks, will still be counted even if Glory is spent at the halfway point.
The point totals will be updated on a weekly basis on the 2014 Kotei page of www.L5R.com, and in an ongoing thread on the AEG Forums so that all L5R players, and fans of the game, can see the current totals of each of the respective Clans.
In addition to the points that everyone will be earning for their Clans, the winner of each Kotei will have their own important decision to make…
The Fortunes of Bushido
Few outside the ranks of Rokugan’s shugenja can truly hope to fathom the workings of the Heavenly Bureaucracy. Much like the Imperial City itself, the Celestial Heavens are governed by a vast caste system that begins with absolute power of the Jade Sun and the Obsidian Moon, then goes on to include the spirits of the Kami, the Seven Fortunes, the Thousand Fortunes that serve their masters, and even the spirits of the former Emperors who have ascended to that plane of existence. And among the vast ranks of this Heavenly Bureaucracy, there are those who are tasked with oversight of the mortal world.
In keeping with her divine connection to the Celestial Heavens, the Divine Empress has revealed to the people of Rokugan the desire of Tengoku to elevate ancestral spirits from the Great Clans to the position of Minor Fortunes, one for each tenet of Bushido. These Fortunes will collectively be known as the Fortunes of Bushido, and will forever aid the souls of mortals seeking guidance and protection from spiritual corruption, such as the recent difficulties with the Mad Dragon P’an Ku and the heretical philosophy of Fudoism.
A number of ancestral spirits will also find residence within the newly built Shrine of the Three Dynasties in Toshi Ranbo. This temple, in joint remembrance to the Dynasties that have led Rokugan through its darkest hours, will become a beacon of guidance to the Imperial Families and all the people of the Empire by housing the wisdom of the Clans through some of the Empires most revered ancestors.
When you win a Kotei for your Clan, you will be allowed to pick a Bushido Virtue. This Bushido Virtue will either be something that you feel personally attached to, you feel your Clan exemplifies, or you feel your Clan should embrace.
The Bushido Virtues
A samurai must temper his violence with mercy for his enemies.
A samurai must not falter against insurmountable odds.
A samurai should respect honorable opponents, even his worst enemy.
A samurai’s life is one of servitude. They need not reason why it is.
The samurai’s soul has no room for lies.
The samurai’s only measure of worth is his honor.
The samurai acts with conviction, casting aside doubt.
Along with that you will be able to nominate a Human personality from your Clan (the Clan that the Kotei was won with) to be placed on a list of personalities to ascend to become a Minor Fortune or a Guardian Spirit of the Shrine of the Three Dynasties. This personality can be from any point in the game’s history and is subject to Story Team approval. This will be voted on by your Clan player base at the end of the Kotei Season when it is their turn to choose (collectively) via the voting process.
At the end of the Kotei Season, the Clan that earned the most Kotei victories (tie breaks will be based on overall Glory points accumulated by a Clan) will, as a collective player base, vote on which of the personalities put forward for their Clan to ascend to the Celestial Heavens as a Fortune by voting on a particular Bushido Virtue. The player base may choose to vote for a personality to become a Guardian Spirit of the Shrine of the Three Dynasties instead of a Minor Fortune, though only two Guardian Spirits may be selected in total. Once chosen the next highest placing Clan in the Kotei Season (via victory total/tiebreak) will get the opportunity to choose.
If a player has won one or more Kotei during the season, their votes will count for five per Kotei win with a Clan. For example, if a player wins two Kotei with Crab, and one Kotei with Lion, they will have ten votes for this Crab vote, and five votes for this Lion vote. These Kotei winners do not need to be part of the Imperial Assembly, nor aligned with the Clan they won with, in order to vote. These votes will begin in July of 2014, and continue until the final Clan has cast their vote.
The Honor Contest is allowed to be chosen by the Tournament Organizer, and is worth 4 points to the winner of the event. The Tournament Organizers may run the Honor Contest using the L5R Love Letter game that has been provided to them. This would need to be announced prior to the Kotei on the respective Kotei thread on the AEG Forums.
1st Place at the Kotei Recap
The 1st Place finisher of a 2014 Kotei will receive the following:
- Seed into the Main Event of GenCon 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA and a seed into the Main Event of the 2014 World Championships in Sheffield, UK.
- Story choice of what Bushido Virtue (from the above list) to associate with the Clan that they played in the Kotei.
- Story choice of the name of a human personality (with Story Team approval) to be put on the Clan’s list of potential Minor Fortune/Guardian Spirit of the Shrine of the Three Dynasties.
- 7 Points to be added to the Clan’s (that was played in the Kotei) total point accumulation during the Kotei Season.
- $100.00 Gift Certificate to the AEG Online Store.
- Prize distribution determined by the Tournament Organizer of the Kotei that was attended.
Honor Contest Winner Recap
The winner of the Honor Contest of a 2014 Kotei will receive the following:
- 4 Points to be added to the Clan’s (of their choosing) total point accumulation during the Kotei Season.
- $50.00 Gift Certificate to the AEG Online Store.
- 1 foil copy of L5R Love Letter.
- Prize distribution determined by the Tournament Organizer of the Kotei that was attended.
Any questions pertaining to the 2014 Kotei Season can be directed to the Major Events Manager at: email@example.com
A PDF of Renewal can be found here.
The third in our series of fictions examining the state and relations of the Great Clans as the release of Ivory Edition looms in the near future!
Age of Ivory, Part 3
By Seth Mason
Edited by Fred Wan
Shinjo Kinto sat at the small table in the command tent that had been set up for him. The Ninth Legion was camped only a half day’s march from Journey’s End Keep, taking a moment to gather its strength. Kinto knew better than most that it was best to risk the possibility of being found by enemy scouts rather than ride through the night and assault the enemy without rest. It was unlikely the maddened samurai who held the city – “fallen”, they had been called – would have scouting parties in the field, anyway. Ever since they had taken the stronghold, there had been little activity in the region. They almost seemed content to keep a grip on Journey’s End and not advance. While interesting, it also meant the enemy would be able to take full advantage of the defensive position the keep offered them.
The commander of the Ninth Legion was idly moving etched shells of some kind around on the table as Seppun Ryota, his second in command, drew near. “Kinto-sama,” the man said quietly, announcing himself.
“Have you ever played this game?” Kinto asked, not looking up from the shells on the table. “It’s a gambler’s hobby, and you seem like the sort of man who wouldn’t indulge. But I’ve been surprised before.”
“I am familiar with it, commander,” Ryota answered, still standing at attention.
With a faint smile, Kinto held up a small coin in two fingers, then laid it under one of the shells. It was then that the Seppun noted that all three shells were nearly identical in shape and marking. With deft hands, the Unicorn started sliding the three shells around on the table in a dizzying fashion. “I read the report,” Kinto said as the sliding objects made a quick scratching noise over and over. “A Lion unit is advancing this way, creating a fight on two fronts that is effectively impossible to manage. The scout reports that they are led by Akodo Tsudoken and the unit is apparently made up of Lion compromised by P’an Ku.” The shells stopped and he looked up at Ryota’s serious face. “I have some ideas about how we might make the best use of that information, but first – do you know which shell has the koku?”
“If I understand the rules correctly,” Ryota said, picking up on Kinto’s meaning about the game and the conflict, “you must indicate which shell has the prize, yes?”
Stepping up to the table, Ryota brought his hand down swiftly, smashing all three shells. “It would be one of those, I think,” he said, looking at the shards after raising his hand. “Ah,” he noted as he pointed at the revealed coin. “That one.”
“A very loose interpretation of the rules,” Kinto said, chuckling. “It seems you’ve spent too much time around me, my friend.”
“It seems my time with you has profited me in various ways, yes,” the Seppun replied, reaching for the koku.
“Still,” Kinto said, moving to hold the coin down on the table with his index finger, “there is the matter of the broken shells. Those were not cheap, you know. I’d say they were worth… about a koku.”
Ryota met Kinto’s eyes for a second, and both men broke into a wide smile. “Two tricks,” the lieutenant said with realization. “You knew I would approach the problem in that manner.”
“Precisely,” Kinto said, picking up the coin and laying it down on the map where Journey’s EndCity was indicated. “The koku was the goal, but the shells were the problem. To you, the problem became the goal.” He paused for a moment and let out a tired sigh. “I have some instructions for you, here, and orders for the others. Please make sure they reach the appropriate officers and study what I’ve designated for you. And get some rest.”
Ryota nodded curtly, picking up several rolled up papers from the table. “What of Tselu’s magistrates? They departed ahead of us according to your command yesterday, though they left behind some of the supplies and troops the Governor provided. Will they be able to coordinate with this new development?”
“I have every faith in the Ivory Champion’s agents,” Kinto noted, looking away.
The Seppun gave his commander an appraising look. “There is something you are not telling me, Kinto-sama, but it is not my place. The Ivory Magistrates are remarkable. If we had a legion of such men…”
Kinto shook his head slightly. “They are so remarkable, Ryota-san,” he said, “because you will never be able to find that many of them. Now, let’s not waste any more time.”
Ryota gave a low, formal bow to the commander, then quickly turned to perform his duty.
In the silence of his tent, Kinto chuckled softly to himself for a moment, reaching over to the mess left on the table. The Unicorn’s laughter died down and his smile faded slowly as he held up a bit of shattered shell, contemplating it.
* * * * *
“I don’t suppose this is some manner of joke,” Ikoma Hakige said, setting down his tea. The daimyo of the Ikoma family was known for being somewhat unpredictable – a tempest of emotion and fury on the battlefield one day, a peaceful attendant in the Imperial Court the next. So it didn’t seem to surprise either of the samurai he was taking tea with when his mood turned sour quickly.
“No joke at all,” Doji Shirarou said smoothly. His smile dimmed a little, as if he were trying to avoid looking too cheerful in response to Hakige’s sudden irritation. “The Doji family would very much like to act on your behalf.”
“There is no behalf to act on, Crane,” the Lion said, folding his arms and giving the other man a critical look. “You are trying to make more of the situation than there is.”
The Crane’s companion, Asahina Umeko, shrugged slightly and looked down at her cup. “Hakige-sama, you would know better than we how your clan and the Scorpion are getting along at the moment. After all, it is through your efforts the Lion’s presence at court is maintained. However, I believe you are downplaying the possibility of what may happen in the future.”
“And what if I am?” Hakige replied firmly. “I would think you Crane could understand a subtle hint that this is not your affair. Of course the Scorpion are being meddlesome and irritating. That is all they know how to do. If they wish to press this further – and I sincerely hope they do – then we will deal with that when it comes. I see no need for interference from the Doji family in this matter.”
Shirarou raised an eyebrow and regarded Hakige warily. “You are… hoping they escalate the situation?”
It was Hakige’s turn to give an indifferent shrug, his features softening. “I’m not certain what game Bayushi Nitoshi is playing at,” he said. “Several of his subordinates have begun getting in the way of our negotiations with the Crab. Imperial magistrates who just happen to be of the Soshi family line have begun to inspect our transports with particular scrutiny, delaying them. They are simply trying to test us. For what purpose, I cannot say, but I am content to pretend they are doing nothing at all.”
“You know that Nitoshi-sama’s probable intent is to see what boundaries the Lion have set for themselves in this situation,” Umeko offered. “He is a relatively young Champion, after all. It is possible he is trying to learn just how far he cash push without retribution.”
“Gentlemen,” Hakige began, leaning back, “have you ever had time to study the tactics of Hida Gojima?”
The two Crane exchanged blank looks and then looked back to Hakige. “I am not familiar with the name, I’m afraid,” Shirarou said.
“Gojima-san was a bit of a genius; a tactical mind so brilliant that even my cousins in the Akodo family cite his history with regularity. He was somewhat typical of the Crab in that many of his strategies were defensive-minded, but there is a battle where a border skirmish with the Daidoji family threatened to break into full war between the Crane and Crab.”
Hakige scratched his chin and took a sip from his tea, narrowing his eyes as if he just thought of something, “My apologies,” he added after finishing his drink, “I hope bringing up the past defeats of your clan is not uncomfortable.”
“So I am to understand the Crab emerged victorious, then?”Shirarou asked dryly.
“Indeed,” the Lion responded. “The Daidoji, hoping to catch the Crab off guard, struck into some of the Crab’s outer lands. Hida Gojima, then the general of the clan’s armies, simply drew back. Over and over, he drew back his troops and evacuated his peasants. The Crane claimed no real victory, seeking to engage the Crab and failing at every turn.” Hakige looked off, as if he were imagining it. “It was far too late for the Crane when the Daidoji commander realized he was eventually so deep in the Crab’s territory that his chance for withdrawal – even survival – was nil.”
Umeko cleared her throat and asked, “So, you wish to crush the Scorpion?” The young woman was clearly distressed by the notion.
Hakige made a dismissive gesture. “I am no warmonger, Asahina-san,” he said lightly. “If the Scorpion had attacked us, I would be happy to kill all of their soldiers and see their palaces burning. However, they have not. They have merely irritated us… so I will bide my time. You see, as Bayushi Nitoshi believes he is testing the Lion, we are testing the Scorpion as well.”
“The Empire has seen a great deal of conflict as it is,” Umeko stated quietly. “I think there is wisdom in preventing a violent end to this, rather than inviting it. In any case, you may find yourself frustrated, Hakige-sama. You know the Child of Heaven has banned open war between the clans.”
“War?” Hakige said, frowning again. “I said nothing of starting a war. Indeed, I am certain the Scorpion are enjoying the fact such an edict is in place. It would be a pity if they gave the Empress, long may she reign, a cause to… reconsider it.”
Shirarou and Umeko exchanged glances again.
“More tea, my friends?” Hakige asked smoothly.
* * * * *
The Ninth Imperial Legion, standard bearers of the Empress’ personal army, moved forward on foot and steed. Beside the standard of the Ninth, Shinjo Kinto’s own personal standard – boldly bearing the mon of House Shinjo – fluttered in the breeze as he advanced further ahead of the unit. Kinto had learned enough to know that his kin had been driven mad, but hoped they would still recognize the bonds of filial respect.
As hoped, one of the smaller ports to the outer defenses of Journey’s End Keep opened, and several riders emerged at a quick pace. They, too, flew the banner of the Shinjo.
Kinto recognized the other Unicorn, but barely. Shinjo Yoshie’s eyes were dark and drawn. Her face was pale and blotched, as if she had been in a state of frenzy or excitement for far too long without rest. “Kinto!” she called, and it was not a friendly greeting. The woman drew a long, wicked scimitar as they rode.
Ryota and Moto Miyu drew their weapons and began to move forward in response. Without breaking eye contact with Yoshie, the commander made a cutting gesture in the air, telling his men to stand down.
Shinjo Yoshie’s detachment rode forward and the ones who came with her began to call out like madmen. For his part, Kinto fought back the rising urge to draw his own katana and either charge or return to his Legion to begin the assault. The Imperial commander stood perfectly still in his saddle – Yoshie was a wild beast, and a true child of Shinjo knew how to face such a thing down.
As they reached striking distance, Yoshie’s sword swung in an arc towards him. Kinto moved his head ever-so-slightly to the side, letting the edge of the scimitar barely graze his cheek as the hollering and howling of the maddened Unicorns washed over him. The wave receded as they turned their charge away, back the way they had come.
Lightly, so none would hear it, Kinto let out a slow, nervous breath but did not move.
“KINTO!” the woman called again, bringing her charge to a halt and turning to face him. “You pathetic puppet! Come here so I can set you free! Give me the head of your leash-master,” she indicated Seppun Ryota, “and you can come home. You can be one of us, again. Not this sad mockery of slavery and obedience.”
“I would offer you the chance to surrender, to spare yourselves. But you have earned execution for the horrors you have brought on those we were sworn to protect, Yoshie.” He paused and looked down for a moment, taking a breath. “I’m going to make sure every last one of you die here and are forgotten,” Kinto said evenly.
His tone was flat. Cold. To his side, Seppun Ryota looked shocked for an instant, but quickly regained his composure.
Yoshie seemed surprised at the words as well, but her face twisted into a snarl. “Where’s your pack-mate, the Ivory Champion?” she spoke the title of Shinjo Tselu with unbridled contempt. “We know he came with you, slave. Perhaps you think yourself clever, sending him around to our north? Do you think his pittance of soldiers will make any difference?” She pointed her scimitar again, indicating behind the Legion, now, towards the horizon. “You’re as incompetent as you are pathetic, Kinto. Look behind you. That is how you make a threatening second front.”
Idly, Kinto turned his head to see the banners of the Lion – dominated by the mon of the Akodo – marching towards them. Many of them were mounted, and their numbers almost equalled those of the Imperial Legion. Between them and whatever forces the Fallen held in the city itself, the Ninth was now hopelessly outmatched.
“I see you heard about the activity of the Lion in the region,” the commander said, turning back to look at Yoshie. The placid look on his face never wavered. “However,” he added, pointing behind her with a gauntleted hand, “I think you did not pay attention to the proper Lion army. Fortunately, Tselu-san seems to have found them.”
Against the rising sun, marching soldiers and standards began to appear on the eastern horizon. Laid in front of the brilliant light of the Jade Sun, it was impossible to see the colors or symbols of the armor or flags, but as the march moved forward, the mon of the Lion could be seen there, as well. Along with the crest of the Akodo house.
And the Champion of the Lion.
And the Khan of the Unicorn Clan.
“Retribution has come,” Kinto said. “Lady Shinjo taught us to bring mercy and compassion to our lands… and justice to those who broke such laws.”
Frantically, Shinjo Yoshie’s head moved back and forth between the Legion and the army of Akodo Dairuko to their east. With an inarticulate cry, Yoshie waved her scimitar over her head, and began screaming to the Fallen Lion while indicating the newcomers.
“The enemy’s cavalry is breaking to intercept Lady Dairuko’s army,” Ryota noted quickly. “They cannot assault the city with that large of a force flanking them.”
“It will not happen,” Kinto said, moving his horse into a sudden gallop. “Now, Ryota!” he hollered as his detachment followed him and the Imperial Legion moved into action as well – all moving to intercept Akodo Tsudoken’s Fallen legion.
* * * * *
Tsudoken rode forward, seeing the banners of his superior – no, the misguided pup of the Akodo ruling line, he corrected himself. How pathetic is the blood that leads his clan, he thought, that one would step down and another would be so far from Rokugan, ignoring the security of the Empire itself.
He would end it now. He knew not why Dairuko was here, but her folly and her weak, worthless line would suffer another embarrassment this day.
Something caught his eye as he led the charge, however, and he turned to see the command group led by Shinjo Kinto. Kinto, the man who had assaulted the SecondCity, bringing chaos to the city he had sworn to protect.
No, he reminded himself. Personal vengeance would wait. It must wait, he had to -
The mind of Akodo Tsudoken became utterly still as he saw what the Imperial commander’s karo hoisted. The standard of the Governor of the SecondCity. The personal chop of Ikoma Katsuru – the former Governor – still sat in the center.
“In the name of the Governor,” Kinto called, his words faint but clear enough to the paralyzed Tsudoken. Tsudoken recognized the man next to Kinto – a shugenja, clearly carrying the Imperial commander’s words on the wind. “The in the name of the man you failed, stand down!”
For such a worm to fly the flag of the venerable Ikoma Katsuru. To command him? He dared?
Rage, hot and loud, belched forth from Akodo Tsudoken’s mouth as he drew his sword and turned his charge back to the Unicorn and his blasphemous Imperial Legion.
The Fallen Lion, nothing more than a ragged band of madmen at this point, knew nothing more than to follow their howling commander.
* * * * *
“I am not certain what the Imperial commander did,” Akodo Dairuko noted from horseback on the elevated terrain as her army marched down towards Journey’s EndCity, “but it was apparently most effective.”
Next to her, Shinjo Min-hee, Shinjo Tselu, and the Lion Champion’s advisors observed as the Fallen Lion under Akodo Tsudoken crashed into a brutal conflict with the Ninth Legion.
“Min-hee-san?” Dairuko said.
“Yes, Lady Akodo,” Min-hee responded, turning in her saddle and raising a signal fan.
Tselu gave the two women a confused look. “Are you altering Kinto-san’s plan?”
“Shinjo Kinto’s tactics are sound, but yes,” Dairuko said, not taking her eyes from the battle, “I have improved them.”
Behind them both, Min-hee began to make a series of gestures, facing a ridge several minute’s ride outside the city that blocked visibility from the watchposts around Journey’s End.
Looking around quickly, realization dawned on Tselu’s face. “I do not see your main cavalry detachment, Dairuko-sama,” he noted with a slight smile.
“You will shortly,” she said, returning Tselu’s bemused look. “I find that the soldiers I have in your current field of vision are far more than enough to take the city. If Tsudoken’s army were to retreat into the city, they would have been much more of a threat. If they were able to attack us while we were within striking distance from the city, they would likewise have complicated matters.” Dairuko looked around, noting various details as she spoke. “Kinto’s plan was excellent in neutralizing that force, but there is no need for the Ninth to fight unaided.”
* * * * *
The wind flew from Shinjo Kinto’s lungs as he struck the ground. It was not the first time he had been thrown from his mount, but the sheer ferocity of the impact was unlike any time before. What made the situation worse, of course, was the weight of the man who had caused the fall. Akodo Tsudoken had charged him and practically flew off of his own steed, tackling the Imperial commander and dragging them both to the ground.
Dizzy and winded, Kinto barely understood which direction was up, but his feet knew. Out of pure instinct that told him he needed to keep moving to stay alive, he pushed with one arm and kicked out with both legs, getting Tsudoken’s weight off of him just as the Lion made a wild strike with his wakizashi. Kinto rolled, coming to a rest on one foot, a knee, and his left hand as he reached for his own short blade.
Between the two, Tsudoken’s broken katana lay on the ground.
Around the two, the Imperial Legion fought against the yelling, wild Fallen animals that had once been samurai.
“Get off your knees, criminal!” Tsudoken yelled, charging with both hands gripping his short blade.
Kinto waited until the last minute, and rolled away again, but was not quite fast enough. Tsudoken’s weapon missed, but the Lion turned and kicked Kinto hard in the ribs as he attempted to keep moving.
“Roll around like the dog you are, then,” the Lion cried, bringing a savage backhand down on Kinto’s skull.
It was too much, Kinto knew. His vision exploded into white points of light, and the lack of air and balance made him collapse sideways. Just a moment longer, he thought.
“This is all?” Tsudoken kept yelling, kicking Kinto again. The Lion brought his foot up once more, and Kinto grabbed it in both hands, having dropped his wakizashi. With a twist, he made the Lion lose his balance and go sprawling into the dirt.
Getting quickly to his feet, Kinto remembered something and made a swift stomp on Tsudoken’s right thigh, eliciting a sharp – and shameful – cry of pain from his opponent. The Unicorn backed off, huffing in air as best as he could. To his shock, Tsudoken got to his own feet swiftly, still screaming in pain but apparently unaffected.
The Lion’s howl never ended as he charged again, holding his wakizashi over his head in a graceless, underhand grip.
Kinto saw the sword coming, but his legs felt like they were burrowed into mud. His arms moved below the elbow, but his shoulders, for whatever reason, seemed indifferent to his pleas to move.
Tsudoken’s blade came down in a swift, sure arc and impaled itself through Kinto’s torso on the left. The Lion’s screams turned into howling laughter as he pressed harder, almost as if Tsudoken thought to bury his blade and fist into the Unicorn.
Long enough, Kinto thought with surprising clarity, and brought his hands up to grip the Lion’s neck.
Tsudoken didn’t seem to notice and his momentum carried both of them to the ground. The Lion’s knee shoved into Kinto’s stomach, and the Unicorn coughed blood all over Tsudoken’s face as a result. The Akodo licked the spattered blood off of his lips and smiled widely. “You die. Your men die. This city is-”
“No,” Kinto coughed, and with the last bit of his strength, he pulled on the man’s shoulder with one hand and moved the other to the side of Tsudoken’s chin and pressed with all of his might.
The last thing Tsudoken saw before his neck snapped – his view forced back to the battle – was a line of Lion and Unicorn cavalry washing over his troops like a wave, scattering them to the ground.
The dead Lion fell to Kinto’s side, and the Imperial commander was able to rise to one knee. The sounds of the battle seemed so far away now, somehow. As the soldiers moved into and out of his view over and over, he caught glimpse after glimpse of it in his dimming vision.
The banners, the city.
Lion, Unicorn, and the Imperial standard standing in unity.
Discuss the events of this fiction in our Story Forum!
Dear L5R Community,
It is with a heavy heart that today I must announce the cancellation of the Walt Disney World Kotei. It was a big dream, and would have been one of the most memorable L5R events ever, but it was not to be. We had a minimum number of attendees and rooms that needed to be booked by a certain date, and without that number we would be unable to secure the event space. As that date was rapidly approaching I made the decision to cancel.
All those who have already registered have already been contacted and they will receive refunds, though if they want to still attend and visit Disney for a vacation, they can come and play in our new Orlando Kotei event detailed below.
We are moving the event from Thurs May 29, to Saturday May 31 at a location in Orlando to be announced shortly. We currently plan to run the event on the single Saturday, but if attendance is enough that we need to, we will spill over to Sunday.
To all of you who showed interest and understood that a large memorable event wouldn’t be the least expensive thing in the world, thank you, and thank you for your support. We’re not giving up on this dream, and we’ll keep working to find a way to make an event of that magnitude work in the future.
So, with that, see you in Orlando!
With the Ivory Edition Print and Play PDF having been available for about a month now, fans of L5R across the globe are excited for the release of Ivory Edition, the new base set for Legend of the Five Rings.
Recognizing that L5R is a product with a global community, it is our belief that everyone should have equal access to the new Edition upon its release. Due to the slight shipping complications we have experienced, we’ve come up with an adjusted schedule that allows us to do that. Now, we’re pleased to announce the following release schedule for Ivory Edition product.
March 10, 2014 – The Ivory Edition Launch kits, which were pre-ordered by retailers, will be released in the United States and Internationally. This will be considered the “pre-release” period and events can be run with launch kit contents. To that effect, launch kits will be shipped with a dedicated promotional card, specific to those events.
If your Launch Kit does not contain enough promotional cards for your attendees, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do our best to accommodate your request.
March 24, 2014 – Street release of Ivory Edition.
Special note about events: Due to this adjusted schedule, all Kotei tournaments scheduled to occur in March 2014 will be Proxy Legal (regarding Ivory Edition cards only) to ensure everyone an equal playing field. If you have not downloaded our Print and Play PDF for Ivory Edition yet and are planning on attending a Kotei tournament in March, you can do so at the following link.
As always, we thank our fans for their continued support and we look forward to the amazing stories that you will tell in this new era of L5R!
Check out the product page and the clan forums for a sneak peek at the set’s packaging!
Can your game store show more love than any other? Now is the store’s chance to win big in our Love Letter Valentine’s Day Contest! Be sure to let your local game retailer know about this contest before February 14th! Click here to learn more!
The location of the 2014 World Championships of L5R has been selected. You are all welcome to join us from October 10 to 12 in the great city of Sheffield, United Kingdom to participate in a fantastic event created by one of the best European Tournament Organizer, Jim Freeman. Below are the first details on the venue and a quick word from the organizers. You can discuss this event on the designated thread in our forums.
It is with great honour that we are to bring you the 2014 World Championships in Sheffield , England on the 10th, 11th and 12th October. Many thanks of course go to AEG for giving us this opportunity and we look forward to putting on the best event that we can, and the event that the continually fantastic L5R community deserve. The event will be held in the beautiful Sheffield City Hall, a building of great character and that has a very traditional British feel. (Something that we hope will be carried through the entire event.)
Sheffield is one of the country’s best kept secrets; it is a City that grew up around the Steel making industry. It is at the heart of the UK and is one of the country’s best connected Cities, making it easy to reach by road, rail or air. It combines being the 4th Biggest City in the UK with the beauty and tranquillity of the Peak District National Park, and is the Greenest City in Europe.
The UK and Ireland L5R community is one of the best in the world and you can be certain of a warm and friendly reception and plenty to keep you occupied while you are here.
Several Winter Court and Stronghold Store events have recently occurred and we are ready to announce the winners and story / design choices from these events. Some choices are still pending. When they are approved, this page will be updated. They are as follows:
Chicago, IL – Topaz Championship
Winner - AJ Valle, playing Unicorn. AJ will be permitted to name a personality in an upcoming expansion. He is currently working with the Design Team on this process.
Padis, Madrid, Spain – Lvl 10 Stronghold Store Event
Winner – Playing Lion. Chose the flavor trait “Scion of the Wind.”
Paris, France – Lvl 10 Stronghold Store Event
Winner – Playing Phoenix. Chose the flavor trait “the Masked Phoenix.”
Congratulations to all of the winners!
Hustle and bustle in the bazaar district of Istanbul: merchants and their assistants are hurrying through the narrow alleys attempting to be more successful than their competitors. Good organization is key: wheelbarrows have to be filled with goods at the warehouses and then swiftly transported by the assistants to the various destinations. The goal of the merchants is to be the first to collect a certain amount of rubies. Want to know more? Click here.
It is now upon you – the best architects – to honor him by building the most extravagant pagodas in this game of tactics. Show your opponent who truly is the best architect of all! Want to know more? Click here.
The second in our series of fictions examining the state of affairs with the Great Clans, as well as the relationships that exist between them, as the era of Ivory Edition dawns!
Age of Ivory, Part 2
By Seth Mason
Edited by Fred Wan
Doji Iza gazed at the bustling port of the Aerie, one of the bastions of Crane power in the Colonies. The cooling air of the sea moved over the young woman but she fanned herself slowly out of habit. Her sensei had instructed her that stillness was a sign of tension in the bearing of a samurai. Tension showed that the person was either watchful and ready to strike, or they were defensive and worried. Neither of these things served the interest of the Doji family their efforts to win influence among the other noble houses, so it was one of the first methods she had adopted to seem more serene and approachable.
Currently, it served her well in hiding her growing alarm. On the docks, several kobune ships of the Mantis Clan had arrived and began to unload cargo and servants of the house of Yoritomo. Due to an unforeseen gambit by the Mantis, the Imperial families had favored the Yoritomo family with appointments to monitor trade and taxes in the Crane’s city. Months ago, a Yoritomo ambassador had threatened that she would make a game of wresting control of the Aerie away from the Doji and Daidoji families.
Iza had not dismissed the possibility, as such arrogance was the downfall of many samurai. However, she had not calculated how efficiently the Mantis could move on such a threat. Both clans had suffered greatly from what had come be be called the Battle of Ten Thousand Martyrs, but the Mantis were in a much greater position to recover. They had more strength in the Colonies than the Crane had. So while the Yoritomo family had nowhere near the prestige and influence of the Doji, they simply had more people working on their behalf at this point.
The late Doji Rengetsu had called Iza brilliant, and the young Crane learned to accept the praise with grace. But now, she realized, brilliance was not going to be enough.
“They really are shameless, aren’t they?” the man on Iza’s right noted casually. Doji Katata, a cousin of Iza’s recently sent to the Colonies, was observing the event with her. “They disembark from their ships as if they already control the area. How peculiar.” Katata’s words were not laced with disdain, only sincere curiosity.
“I take it you have not dealt much with the Mantis, my cousin,” Iza said, still fanning herself lightly. She allowed her gaze to wander about, as not to draw attention to the fact she was really only watching the Mantis. “Shame is not something they seem to care for. They are brave and bold, hoping their victories will erase any question of their bearing.”
Katata turned his piercing gaze to his cousin and raised an eyebrow. “Brave? Bold? Iza-san, you sound as if you respect them.”
“Of course I respect them,” the woman responded, returning Katata’s look. “Do you not know of Daidoji Sosuke?”
The other Crane frowned a little, but nodded. “I understand upon his return to the mainland, he was… received quite poorly.”
“Humiliated,” Iza corrected. “The name of Daidoji Sosuke will be synonymous with failure and hubris for generations. All because he believed the Mantis were simple bullies to be taken to task.” She looked down for a moment, contemplating the idea. “Folly to begin with – even had Sosuke been correct, what worth is there in facing a worthless foe? Where is the honor of a samurai who provokes an enemy not worth respecting?”
She motioned vaguely at the Mantis ships, “Had the maddened dragon not interfered, they would have taken TwinForksCity, possibly even the Aerie after that. When a military solution was no longer viable, they met the challenge we presented them in the courts and hearts of the samurai.” She frowned slightly as she turned back to regard the docks again. “What should I do? Disregard their obvious strengths out of pride? Are we no wiser than the Matsu? They should be respected, Katata-san. It is respect that will keep us from underestimating them. Respect that will help us find common ground.”
“Common ground?” the other Crane repeated, smiling slightly. “Iza-san, you still hold out hope for peace with the Mantis Clan?”
“Katata, your insight is valuable, that is why I requested that you come here to help me. However, I think you are, perhaps, too dispassionate sometimes. Are we not the children of Lady Doji? The woman who forged friends even among those who despised our ways?” She paused, looking at her fan. “They will make a much better ally than enemy, I think.”
The man folded his hands over his obi and shrugged. “If you believe so,” he said earnestly. “I am here to serve, after all. Perhaps I am just too newly arrived to believe that even your radiant smile will be enough to turn their minds.”
Iza smiled, then – the smile Katata had just mentioned. “Then you see why I have asked you here,” she said. “I do not intend to win the Mantis over simply with friendship. Perhaps it is time they remember that we, too, would make better allies than enemies. Their founder knew this, once.”
To that, Katata’s slight smile widened a little more. “I anticipated such, Iza-san,” he said, making a friendly nod of his head to a Mantis that looked over to him. “I think you will find my first surprise for our future friends to your liking.”
* * * * *
“This must be stopped,” Tsuruchi Kaito said firmly, his dark countenance bearing the frown he was practically famous for. The weathered veteran’s eyes were narrowed in thought as he added, “We cannot afford open hostility with the Crane Clan. Not yet.” There was little threat in the man’s matter-of-fact tone.
The room in which the Mantis Champion’s advisor was holding audience was not extremely large. However, the openings for the doorways and windows allowed the breeze of the day to give the feeling of space to the meeting. Kaito was meeting with several samurai who were directing the clan’s efforts in the Colonies, as he had just arrived there. The Mantis Clan possessed a great number of holdings in the wider Colonies, second only to the Spider Clan. For that reason, the powerful daimyo of the Yoritomo house had made the business of the area quite important to him.
Near him, the Mantis’ chief diplomat in the Colonies nodded. Yoritomo Yashinko was an aged woman of great experience with the Crane and the courts of the Empire in general. Due to this, Hiromi had called her to service rather than allow her to retire as was proper for her years. “None dispute the current need for peace, my lord,” she said thoughtfully, “but the fact remains: there is little we can do about this for the time being.”
“There is a man who is, apparently, composing himself off as Hiromi-sama’s officer and conscripting samurai as well as peasants to make war on the Crane,” Kaito said, eyeing the woman critically. “Explain to me just how we don’t have control over this. Find him and kill him.”
“My lord,” Yashinko said, bowing her head, “I mean no disrespect, but I fear you may not understand the situation presently in the Colonies. The vast majority of our military was lost in the Battle of Twin Forks City.”
“I prefer the title Ten Thousand Martyrs,” the Tsuruchi said, folding his arms. “It evokes a more sympathetic attitude towards our clan.”
The older Mantis smirked a little at that, but continued, “We barely have the means to protect our holdings as they are,” she explained, pointing to a map of the area on the table between them. “We have resources to move certain troops when there is an attack or other incident, but we can only hope nothing major happens.”
“It was my understanding that the Crane suffered more than we did in the result of the battle. If we cannot stop this errant group, perhaps we do not need to fear the consequences,” he mused out loud. “The Crane may not even attempt to retaliate. Surely if renewed hostilities would be catastrophic for us, it would be fatal for them.”
Yashinko shook her head, “It is not that simple, of course. Were the situation different, and perhaps a dishonored Crane was causing trouble, you would be correct. But this Tsuruchi Gombei-”
“Do not use that name,” Kaito said quickly, his frown deepening. “The man should have died in the Battle of Ten Thousand Martyrs. Instead, he flees like a coward and now betrays Lord Yoritomo’s command. He is Mantis no more, and I will see the Tsuruchi family strike his name from our rolls.”
“Gombei, then,” the woman corrected herself, “is making us look like the aggressor. There will be an outpouring of sympathy for the Crane.”
Kaito nodded, “Yes, of course,” he said in annoyed tones. “The Crane will take up arms to bravely defend themselves in a hopeless fight, and the other noble families will intervene on their behalf.” He paused, looking out the window at nothing particular. “As a matter of fact, they should be making that sort of case in the Ivory Court already. Why haven’t they?”
“Not many know about Gombei’s attacks,” Yashinko answered. “The Crane have few scouts and messengers left alive. Their outer holdings are still largely in shambles after our conflict. While TwinForksCity and the Aerie are recovering well, they do not have the resources to rebuild as quickly as we have. Thus, they have not heard of most of these attacks, or do not know enough to see that it is the work of the same group.”
“And where did we get this information?”
The older Mantis sighed slightly, knowing that her lord would not like the answer. “The Governor, Kaito-sama. Her network of influence and information exceeded our own even before the conflict with the Crane.”
“She will want a favor in return someday, no doubt,” Kaito rumbled. “Perhaps this information is worth being indebted to that woman, though.” The man scratched his beard thoughtfully, then made a dismissive motion in the air. “So be it. We must focus on matters that require our attention. If we are rebuilding, we rebuild. We must bring more troops from the mainland – more than I have brought with me, it seems. But for the time being, perhaps the soldiers I brought can be tasked to hunt down this Gombei. Quietly.”
“That brings me to the other matter,” Yashinko said slowly, indicating one of the scrolls on the table. “It seems the Imperial bureaucracy has other plans.”
The Tsuruchi’s eyes narrowed as he picked up the scroll and read. Minutes passed and several of the guards exchanged worried – not quite fearful – looks. “The Empress desires us to … deal with the remaining gaijin in the Colonies,” he said. “It seems the survivors of the Ivory Kingdoms are to be treated as a single entity and dealt with as either a friendly nation or to be eliminated as a threat rather than handled piecemeal. What a happy accident that I just happened to be bringing the sort of manpower that can be useful in this endeavor. And here I was, hoping to use these soldiers to strengthen our standing armies and have them at the ready for my own purposes.” He frowned, placing the scroll on the table.
“Yes, surely a coincidence,” Yashinko said, mirroring the man’s frown. “I’m certain no one pointed out the problem with the gaijin and the Mantis’ influx of troops to the Imperial Advisor on purpose.”
* * * * *
“I heard you were leaving us,” a pleasant voice came from the doorway.
Yoritomo Hiromi, the Champion of the Mantis Clan, turned from wrapping his weapons for travel. The lord of the Yoritomo family saw his friend, Daidoji Tametaka, standing behind his own Champion – the lord of the Doji house, Makoto.
“Tametaka-san, Makoto-san,” Hiromi greeted both men with a nod, though his tone was somewhat more formal for the latter Crane. “Yes, I am bound for the SecondCity. The Empress and I agree on a certain course of action that must be taken. I believe it is my duty to coordinate our efforts from the Colonies.”
“Of course,” Makoto said, looking around for a moment.
Hiromi paused, taking a breath. It was clear he was somewhat annoyed by the visit, but his patience remained intact. “Do please enter,” the Mantis Champion said, gesturing widely to his somewhat sparse personal dojo. The Mantis estates in the ImperialCity were well decorated and lavish, though Hiromi’s personal training room was in stark contrast to all of that.
The Crane Champion bowed gratefully before entering, as did Tametaka. As Makoto made his way over to the other Champion, the Daidoji commander wandered to the side, his eyes examining the various weapons and practice targets.
“Should I get you a spear to ward off boredom, my friend?” Hiromi asked Tametaka with a smirk.
The Crane strode over to the weapon rack and picked up a pair of kama – the signature weapon of the Yoritomo family. “These will do, I think,” Tametaka noted with a slight smile. “I’ve grown quite fond of them during our practice sessions.”
“Then they’re yours,” the Mantis said. “And don’t bother trying to politely decline them. I’m sure your lord here,” he indicated Makoto with his finger, “won’t take insult in this particular case of me giving his warriors weapons.”
The Crane Champion’s eyes flickered to the pointing finger for a moment, giving it an unhappy glance. “A thoughtful gift,” Makoto said. “Any particular occasion?”
“The vast generosity of the Mantis simply knows no bounds, Makoto-san,” Hiromi said with a smirk. “That and I don’t know when I’ll be able to see your vassal next. Something to remember me by, perhaps.”
“Friendship between the Mantis Champion and the Crane general who was coordinating a war with the Mantis only months ago is something that should be celebrated at every opportunity,” the Crane Champion mused. “However, your statement really is quite dire. Do you believe there is any particular danger in your task, my friend? Certainly you will be perfectly safe on your clan’s excellent vessels during the trip itself.” Makoto’s eyes seemed to shine a little brighter.
Hiromi turned back to securing his weapons for travel. “I know you’re not much of a liar, Makoto-san,” he said flatly, “so just tell me what you already know. Save us both some time.”
“Of course,” the Crane replied lightly, “If I am to understand correctly, the Empress has made it clear the Mantis should do what they can about the gaijin remnants in the Colonies. Such is public knowledge.” Makoto’s smile faded into a look of concern as he continued, “But I believe the Child of Heaven is being less public about the need to investigate what remains of the Cult of the Destroyer… far to the north of the Colonies, if I am informed right.”
At that, Tametaka turned from examining the weapons to look at Hiromi as well.
“That’s about right,” Hiromi said, not pausing in his task.
“I know you are not fond of me, Hiromi-san,” Makoto said, taking a step towards the other Champion. “And I have to say, while your rudeness can be overlooked now and again, I am disappointed your pride has not yet allowed you to truly embrace the friendship we have extended you. I came to expect a more… far-sighted attitude from you.”
There was a silent moment as Hiromi stopped in his preparation.
“However, our mutual interests have aligned quite nicely for the past few months, have they not?” Makoto continued. “We now work for the benefit of both our clans and the Empress’ glory. I understand you are not the crude man others would believe, and quite plainly I would hate to lose so valuable an ally as yourself.”
The Mantis Champion turned and gave Makoto a wary look. “Makoto-san, is that sincere concern you have for me?”
“Please try not to die,” the Crane Champion said with his own half-smile. “It would complicate things for us both. I would hate to have to go back to war with your clan, it was really very embarrassing for all involved, in the end.”
“Try not to waste energy worrying about me, Lord Doji,” Hiromi said, raising an eyebrow. “I understand that tensions between the Lion and Scorpion are running high.” He waited a moment and then added, “I think you may be in more danger than I am, if you intend to get in the middle of all that.”
Doji Makoto’s amused expression didn’t falter, though his eyes widened slightly. “Ever full of surprises, Hiromi-san. But, yes,” the Crane said, examining some of the weapons on a wall, “it seems that several Scorpion functionaries have begun antagonizing the Lion. I personally believe that Bayushi Nitoshi has taken an… unhealthy interest in Akodo Dairuko. He is possibly attempting to see how the Lion function while their Champion is so far away in the Colonies herself. So, again – yes, I believe it may be time to advise both clans of how poorly that will end. Where did you happen upon that little bit of information?”
“We can’t all be blessed with the charm and beauty of the Doji, Makoto-san,” Hiromi replied. “Some of us just have to get by with offensively large coffers. You’d be surprised how far that gets you, though.”
“Indeed,” Makoto said. “The Crane are quite familiar with the value of a few extra koku here and there, but I am willing to admit that perhaps the Mantis are simply better at making use of such resources.” The Crane Champion gave Tametaka a glance, “Perhaps, then, we should get back to exploiting what wonderful gifts we have access to?”
“If you make me regret turning my back on you for one moment, Makoto-san, I will make sure the resulting war is only embarrassing for you,” the Mantis said soberly. “That said, I much prefer contending with your men over trade here while we pursue more serious problems elsewhere.” So, good luck, Lord Doji,” Hiromi bowed slightly.
“Make sure you do not turn yourself into a… ‘serious problem’ in the process, and we should continue to enjoy this new prosperity.” The Crane Champion replied. “Good luck, Lord Yoritomo,” Makoto added, returning the gesture.
Discuss the events of this fiction in our Story Forum!
Legend of the Five Rings Love Letter Releases on Monday, February 10, 2014, so now is a great time for you to meet the personalitlies involved in this new addition to the L5R universe. Check out the bio’s below!
The third child of the Divine Empress and her consort, Iweko Setai, underwent her gempukku ceremony a relatively short time ago. At fifteen years of age, Miaka has a romantic’s view of the world that has been formed by her shielded upbringing, and of course by a passion for pillow books and tragic plays. Many years younger than her brothers, both Seiken and Shibatsu had already begun training for their gempukku ceremonies when she was born, she has never had a particularly close relationship with either of them, though she does love them dearly.
Likewise her mother was always somewhat distant, an unfortunate reality that surrounds the relationship between any sitting Emperor or Empress and the children that may one day sit upon the throne. The only member of her family to whom Miaka is truly close is her father, the former Akodo Setai, who spoiled her as a child, knowing that he should not but unable to help himself. Miaka’s vision of what a devoted husband should be is in many ways shaped by her reverence for her father, and although she does not recognize that, it will make it difficult for her to ever find a husband who meets her expectations.
Miaka’s personality might best be described as effervescent. While most expect a child of the Empress to be haughty or at least reserved, Miaka is genuinely warm and accepting of everyone she meets. It is said that she has never met a stranger, for all those in Rokugan are the subjects of her mother, and the truth is that there is virtually no one who can dislike her once they have encountered her in person. Physically, she is as beautiful as she is within, ensuring she has no shortage of suitors.
The Divine Empress was once the daimyo of the Kitsuki family of the Dragon Clan, long before she was endorsed by the Celestial Heavens and filled with its radiance and divinity. It comes as little surprise, then, that for the personal sensei and advisor for her youngest child, the Empress selected a representative of the Dragon Clan.
What is somewhat surprising, however, is that she selected a representative of the Togashi order of tattooed men. Gozato is a typical member of the Togashi, or at least as typical as a Togashi can be, and as such is prone to bouts of nonsensical riddles or saying that make little to no sense outside of whatever internal context he has, which he rarely deigns to share with others. Miaka tends to find her advisor exasperating, but she has true affection for him. Likewise, he views her as the daughter he never had, although he is careful to maintain only appropriate interaction with her at all times out of respect and devotion to her parents, whom Gozato reveres above all others save his clan’s Champion.
As is customary for members of his order, Gozato shaves his head bald and much of his exposed torso is covered in tattoos. Some are mystical, but many are not, and no one is certain which is which until one of them is utilized by the old monk, an occurrence that is exceptionally rare save in extraordinary and very dangerous circumstances; in the six years that Gozato has served Miaka, she has only seen him utilize his tattoos twice, both times in defense of her well-being, although she does implore him to use them almost daily.
The very definition of dashing, Doji Takato is the object of desire for a great many beautiful young samurai women throughout the Empire. Takato has had his share of conquests, to be sure, but for him, nothing is better than the challenge of an unattainable target, and the princess Iweko Miaka is the ultimate prize. If he were to wed her, no one in the Empire would ever be able to question his charm and his wit. He would be untouchable forever. Or at least this is what Takato tells himself.
The notion that he could be hopelessly, overwhelmingly smitten with a girl five years his junior is preposterous… isn’t it? The fact that he privately writes poems in her honor and paints lavish pictures of her beauty is merely part of the process by which he will win her hand and achieve absolute supremacy over the courtiers of his generation. Again, this is at least what he tells himself.
There can be no question that Takato is one of the most handsome young men in the entirety of the Crane Clan, and perhaps the entire Empire, nor that he is charming beyond his years. He gets the largest number of compliments for his flawless skin and complexion, which he takes great pains to maintain. His wardrobe is impeccable, and he is never without a particularly ornate fan that he claims was once owned by Kakita Yoshi, one of his clan’s greatest heroes and a legend in the Imperial Court even decades after his death. He has taken to discreetly spreading several stories about the fan’s involvement in numerous tragic romances in hopes of attracting the princess’s attention.
Iweko Miaka’s doting father was once a member in good standing of the Lion Clan. More to the point, he was once a Deathseeker, a Lion who actively sought death in order to restore his honor, but was so skilled on the field of battle that he was reinstated with full honors and went on to ascend to the position of consort of the Divine Empress.
Although technically the well-being of his daughter falls to the capable and honorable Seppun family, Setai has never abandoned his connections to the Lion Clan and has insisted upon a Lion yojimbo to augment his daughter’s protection detail. This samurai travels with the princess at all times and, while the Seppun Guardsmen protect her wherever she goes, Misato oversees the security of whatever chambers she calls her home during her travels.
When she isn’t found spending time maintaining a painstakingly precise list of all those who request access to the princess’s chambers, who is actually granted access, and the times and durations of any visits they make, Misato is standing watch at the doorway. Miaka finds it rather inconvenient but she cannot bring herself to condemn her, as Misato reminds her too much of her father.
While Togashi Gozato is the teacher and general advisor of Iweko Miaka, he is not her only advisor. As befitting any Imperial personage of such rank, the Phoenix Clan have offered the services of a spiritual advisor, Isawa Tenkawa.
Because of the prestige associated with such a position, the Phoenix ensured that one of their most powerful shugenja was placed in the position, reasoning that his knowledge of the elements would be useful, as well as his ability to defend the princess should such a thing become necessary. Unfortunately, mystical knowledge and power are not always compatible with political savvy.
Tenkawa is a lean-faced man who trained with the Isawa Tensai in the element of fire. The negative stereotypes that are associated with fire shugenja are unfortunately present in Tenkawa, and he holds little regard for those who are unable to speak to the kami (save for Miaka, of course, whom even Tenkawa must admit seems as beloved by the spirits as her divine mother). Were it not for the prestige he enjoys as the appointed spiritual advisor of the Imperial princess, it is likely he would have been discreetly “uninvited” to court already.
Kaiu Akemi is an enormous presence in court, and not simply because of her prodigious physical abilities or her fame as a former sumai, but because her personality is easily a match for her form. Unfortunately, her personality is also confrontational and blunt, as well as outspoken.
She tends to intrude upon conversations that do not involve her, oftentimes frankly condemning one or even both parties in the conversation when they fail to meet her exacting standards. Akemi is one of only a handful of individuals who has ever spoken critically of Iweko Miaka publically. Normally this would have ended any career she might have had in the courts now that her career as a sumai wrestler is over, but her frank assessment of the young princess only intrigued Miaka, and she spent an evening in conversation with the former wrestler. This fact gained Akemi far more fame than her previous comments, and though she will never admit it, Akemi has succumbed to the young woman’s bright, cheerful mood just as everyone else has. No one can help but to love her.
As befitting a former sumai, Akemi has a significant physical presence. She wears her hair in a topknot without fail and dresses very plainly; she has never seen any point in embellishing her appearance when she knows very well that she has little chance of attracting a husband through her physical charms. Instead, she has devoted herself to ensuring that the Imperial princess ends up with a proper Crab husband.
Even among the Scorpion, Shosuro Yamazaki could be described as subtle, and that is no mean feat. He defers to others in virtually every instance, seeking only to avoid offense and gathering as much information as he can on those who are currently competing for the affections of the Imperial princess.
Yamazaki would enjoy very much seeing a member of the Scorpion Clan winning the hand of the princess, but he knows that there is little he can do to influence such a decision in his current position. Nevertheless, he has ensured that he is close at hand during the courting process because he knows better than most the lengths that desperate men will go to in order to acquire that upon which they have set their hearts. Desperate men are also foolish, prone to making mistakes or terrible failures of judgment, and when that happens, Yamazaki wants to be on hand to ensure that such precious currency is not lost to his beloved Scorpion.
Yamazaki presents himself as a simple man, and makes no effort to oppose others in almost any circumstance. He is quite self-effacing and deferential, although his mask, which is crafted in the image of a snarling demon, ensures that all who have reason to approach him do so in a defensive manner. Despite that he does not exploit this, Yamazaki enjoys the disquiet of those who seek his counsel. It is one of the only comforts he allows himself in a lifetime of duty to a cause greater than himself.
Brilliant and beloved though she is, there are still those who disgrace everything they have ever known by wishing ill upon the princess Iweko Miaka.
For that reason, and for the lesser reason of simple protocol, several members of the elite Seppun Guardsmen order known as the Miharu, the sacred warriors tasked with protecting the Empress and her Imperial families, are never far from her side.
She does not leave the Imperial Palace without them, and the eldest of them, Tasuke, has not been more than one hundred paces from her person in over three years. As the princess’s guardians, they have no concern over the courtship process, but instead merely regard every suitor as a potential assassin and watch them accordingly.
Several Winter Court and Stronghold Store events have recently occurred and we are ready to announce the winners and story / design choices from these events. Some choices are still pending. When they are approved, this page will be updated. They are as follows:
New Hampshire – Lvl 10 Stronghold Store Event
Winner – Geoff Prugh, playing Crab. Geoff chose the flavor trait “the Masked Tortoise.”
Sheffield, England – Ruby Championship
Winner - Steve Clegg, playing Un-Aligned. Pending Story and Design Team approvals, Steve requested that a Boyoh Mercenary personality serve as the Ruby Champion’s victor and emissary to the Colonies.
Greece – Lvl 10 Stronghold Store Event
Winner – Pavlos Toufidis, playing Crane. Pavlos’s pick is forthcoming.
Melbourne, Australia – Turquoise Championship
Winner - Nathaniel Robinson, playing Crane. A personality from the Crane will be sent as an envoy of the Turquoise Champion to Iweko Seiken to be available to the heir for advice on all matters artistic or political. Nathaniel also earned the ability to work with the Design Team on creating a Strategy card.
Melbourne, Australia – Lvl 10 Stronghold Store Event
Winner – Dan Juleff, playing Scorpion. Dan chose the flavor trait “the Masked Monkey.”
Congratulations to all of the winners!
Game designer Tom Cleaver offers a look into the development for Valley of the Kings.
Click here to check out the featured article.
The post Valley of the Kings Design Diary: Ancient Egypt Lives Again appeared first on Alderac Entertainment Group.