The Spider-bear

The next entry in Dr Ahoudi’s mutant menagerie is… the Spider-bear!

spiderbear-small

Inspired by both the image (acquired as usual by backing the patreon of JEShields) and the classic D&D monster the bugbear the spider-bear is a literal take on the name.

Strong, fast, aggressive and able to soak a number of hits the creature is perfect as a lone threat or as the central threat amongst a swarm of smaller assailants.

Download the Spider-bear character sheet now.

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Demon Hunters: Character Sheet Version 2

Version 2 of the Demon Hunters character sheet is pretty much complete and works out most of the issues with the original. It has all of the elements and is visually clearer with stunts moved to the right hand side of the sheet.

The spacing is much better but still not perfect. Looking at the page as a whole the columns on the left hand half would benefit from being reduced slightly in width while the text would also benefit from the alignment of the paragraphs.

The contents of the preview are for the first creature, the Aether Knight. As with the sheet it’s at a nearly there stage, I’m happy with the overall contents but need to tweak a few of the elements.

The Undesirables: Character sheets

While the first five members of The Undesirables came together pretty smoothly I’ve hit something of a roadblock with the final member, a middle Eastern blood mage. Neither the aspects nor the stunts seem to be coming together so instead of struggling along with it I spent some time putting the character sheets and backgrounds for the other PCs together.

Ultimately these will be updated for inclusion in the final adventure but that’s a long way off. Short term my plan is to put together a starter and bundle them together so they are available for all. Until then you can download just the characters here: The_Undesirables

Miya Tomoko, Imperial Herald

Miya_AnzaiAllegiance: Imperial
Age: 32, Honour: 4.8, Status: 3.2, Glory: 2.1, Insight Rank: 1
School: Miya Herald (Page 230, core rulebook)

Attributes

Air: 3, Awareness: 3, Reflexes: 3
Earth: 2, Willpower: 2, Stamina: 2
Fire: 2, Intelligence: 2, Agility: 2
Water: 2, Perception: 2, Strength: 2
Void: 2

Skills

Courtier (Rhetoric): 1, Etiquette (Courtesy): 3, Lore (Heraldry): 2, Investigation: 1, Sincerity; 1, Athletics: 2, Defense: 2 Horsemanship: 4, Hunting: 3, Iaijutsu: 1, Kenjutsu: 2, Kyujutsu: 3, Animal handling: 1

Background

Miya Tomoko, the Imperial Herald for the Fallen Mountains, serves in the post that has been passed down by her ancestors since the Unicorn Clan reclaimed their territory in the region, triggering frequent skirmishes with the Lion Clan and necessitating the need for a dedicated Imperial presence. Like all heralds she serves the Emperor two fold, delivering missives and declarations to the citizens of Rokugan while constantly observing all that transpires within the region. Due to the numerous small villages and treacherous terrain associated with the Fallen Mountains Tomoko spends little time within Shirayama Toshi, a situation which suits her temperament and desire for a simpler life. As could be expected the numerous samurai of the city court see Tomoko’s position as one which can be politically exploited and during her limited time in the city she is frequently petitioned to endorse their positions or to carry worthless messages on their behalf. Only the Governor makes little effort to influence her actions despite the fact that as an Imperial appointment he could easily arrange for Tomoko to serve him directly.

Tomoko’s desire for a simpler life extends beyond that of merely wishing to avoid the distractions of court. On more than one occasion she has found herself trapped within villages due to snow or landslides, during which times she has been forced to live amongst those beneath her in the celestial order. While most of the samurai caste would find themselves appalled by such conditions Tomoko found love in the embrace of a peasant who was not immediately cowed by her station or Imperial heritage. While such romances are the source of numerous pillow books across Rokugan if anybody were to discover it Tomoko’s position and perhaps even her life would be forfeit. More dangerous, perhaps, would be for a member of court to discover her secret. With it Tomoko would become just another pawn in the never ending game of political maneuvering, subject to the whims of those accustomed to trading the secrets of others.

Plot Hooks

  • General: As a herald Miya Tomoko travels the region extensively, spreading Imperial edicts while also gathering news and rumours. In this position she could easily serve to alert PCs to unusual goings on or movements within the Fallen Mountains, though much of her knowledge is based on little more than hearsay and idle chatter.
  • A secret to protect: Tomoko’s lover has become known to a member of the court and she begs the assistance of the PCs in gaining leverage over those who would blackmail her, all while trying to prevent the PCs from also discovering her secret.
  • The last ride: Peasants from a village on the shores of Lake Ishi summon the party, having found a mortally wounded Tomoko on the shores of the lake. Before she died she called herself Miya Ishi and spoke cryptic messages of “the legion, cannot stand unforgiven.”

Project Cassandra: Samuel Carter

carterSamuel Carter, the fourth character for Project: Cassandra has been the most difficult to develop so far, primarily because I felt I’d managed to fit the core of the character into the first two skill trees (Journalist and Suspicious Character) but hadn’t managed to fit in any physical abilities that didn’t feel forced. While I attempted a couple of different cores for the third tree they all felt disconnected from the main concept. Ideas such as Fitness Freak, First Aider or Urbanite either didn’t sit right or didn’t expand well into full trees.

Finishing the character off after playtesting had begun however helped consolidate the ideas. There was a need for some sort of evasion skill but it also became clear that the scenario would probably leave the characters disorientated and not quite sure how to proceed. While that indicates a need for the scenario to be improved my mind, in trying to work out how, latched onto the idea of situational awareness and how well it rounded out Carter’s character sheet.

Now I just need to come up with the concept for the fifth and final character.

Character concept: Morashi Kosaku

With the death of Doji Okimoto during the previous session of our L5R game I’ve had to come up with a new character that would fit with the shift of the game from being yoriki to an Emerald magistrate to defenders of the Kaiu wall. To make matters even more complicated I’ve decided to play a ronin, quite a shift from the polite and honourable Okimoto.

Morashi Kosaku

Morashi Kosaku

The Morashi family have been ronin for almost 200 years after an ancestor decided that the Gaijin weapon known as a musket would be an ideal weapon to combat the monsters of the shadowlands. After smuggling the weapons into Rokugan he led a small group of samurai into the shadowlands, intending to hunt down the largest oni they could find. Unprepared and unfamiliar with the new weapons the group was slaughtered. The family’s shame, however, was compounded when a Crab patrol discovered the massacre and the report returned to the Clan representative at the wall. The remaining members of the family were immediately made ronin to atone for their actions. Generations later they have taken the name of Morashi, severing all ties to their former Clan.

Morashi Kosaku is the latest to follow what has become a long tradition within the family, to leave his family behind and offer his services to the Crab in the hope of regaining his place in the celestial order.What he wasn’t aware of until recently is that each generation the eldest child of the family is driven to this duty by Tsuruchi Satsuki, who was made ronin after her father’s ill fated expedition into the Shadowlands.Unable to reclaim her position within the celestial order during her own lifetime her restless spirit has haunted her descendents, driving them into the darkness of both the Shadowlands and their own past. Having known no life other than that of the ronin Kosaku is a pragmatic and driven individual, willing to sacrifice his personal honour even as he seeks to regain the honour of his family.

Attributes and skills
Air ring: 2, Awareness: 2, Reflexes: 4
Earth ring: 3, Willpower: 3,Stamina: 3
Fire ring: 2, Intelligence: 2, Agility: 2
Water ring: 3,Perception: 3, Strength: 3
Void ring: 2

School: None, because I’m a damn dirty ronin

Advantages
Forbidden knowledge: Gaijin pepper – 5pts
Touch of the spirit realms (Yume-do) – 5pts

Disadvantages
Social disadvantage: Ronin – 3 pts
Haunted – 3pts
Dark fate – 3pts

Outfit: Ashigaru armour, Tattered clothing, Daisho, Traveling pack
Yumi plus quiver of just the basic willow leaf arrows
Starting honour: 3.5
Status: 0

Skills
Investigation (Perception): 2
Lore: Shadowlands (Intelligence): 1
Medicine (Intelligence): 2

Athletics (Strength): 3
Jiujutsu (Agility): 2
Hunting (Perception): 2
Kyujutsu (Reflexes): 5
Kenjutsu (Agility): 1
Knives (Agility): 3
Defense: 2

Stealth (Agility): 3
Sleight of hand (Agility): 2

Craft: Bowyer (Varies): 2
Craft: Explosives (Varies): 2

Gear
Ashigaru armour: Armour TN +3, no penalties when making stealth or athletics rolls
Yumi with willow leaf arrows: 5k2 damage, range 375′ (114m)
Katana: 6k2 damage (including character strength), can spend void points on damage, minor action to draw
Wakizashi: 5k2 damage (including character strength), minor action to draw
Tanto: 4k1 damage (including character strength), free action to draw

Traveling pack
Blanket
Waterbottle
Cooking pot
Fishing pole
Mortar and pestle
Small tent
Whetstone
Flint and tinder
Snowshoes
Extremely basic medical kit (bandages made from rags, herbs etc). This is mostly to hide his Gajin pepper, if questioned Kosaku claims the pepper is for preventing wounds from becoming infected (apparently gunpowder was (IRL) occasionally used for this though I doubt it was actually effective). Given the simplicity of the kit I assume it will make actual medicine rolls harder until I can acquire a full kit.

On XP and character loss

Following the most recent session of Legend of the Five Rings game I’m playing in I’ve found myself in that dreaded situation of needing a new character as Dojo Okimoto, the Oriole Crane Lion Bushi Courtier fell in battle while protecting the group Shugenja. For a samurai it was a good death, fighting for an honourable cause and it also fit with the tragic romance angle of samurai stories as Okimoto was due to marry his true love who was already pregnant with their child. Probably the only way I could have tempted fate more would have been by being a day away from retirement. The game is on hiatus for the moment and when we return will have jumped around six months down the timeline with the surviving former magistrates having travelled to the Crab lands in order to learn about combating the Taint (Corruption has been a running theme of the game so far). This leaves me in the position of bringing in a new character and at the end of the session the GM told me to build him using 115xp (which includes the starting points plus ronin bonus).

Which is about 30xp less than the group as a whole is on and just under half the XP earned during the campaign to date.

I’ll be honest, this irks me. Not because I’m worried about being underpowered compared to the rest of the group, if it makes sense story wise I’ll often chose to take that approach. Jimmy is a classic example of this, built to be deliberately weaker than the rest of the Deadlands Noir group due to where he fits in the genre. Likewise by choosing a ronin I’m actively opting to make my life difficult. It irks me because it goes against my personal approach to XP, which centres around the notion that it is a reward to the players. Thus to lose XP because I died in game feels like I’m being penalised for dying which is, in my opinion, wrong. Especially in a game such as Legend of the Five Rings which has a reputation for being deadly.

I know my GM enough to know he’s not doing it to be vindictive or punish me for dying, he’s merely running the game his way and I know if somebody else died he’d apply the same rule to their new character. It’s for that reason alone that I’m willing to accept the situation; I trust my GM. Despite this I’m curious, is this approach common to other gaming groups? Is it something encouraged by particular games? I’d be interested to hear what everybody else does, even if it’s unlikely to change my own preferences.