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Two Alternate Rokugans

There are an infinity of games, and only a limited amount of time.

This is a terrible design, and I have written an angry letter of complaint to the management.

As a result of this temporal unfairness, there are many games I'll never get to run. Here are two of them.

Iron Thunder! (inspired largely by the Charcoal Lotus game and the War Machines of Rokugan 2000)

    A genius Kaiu engineer develops a method for harnessing the spirits of steam. These spirits have the strength of Water kami, and the energy and speed of Fire spirits. In concert with Kuni and Agasha shugenja, he creates a suit of metal and bamboo armour, twice the size of a man. The Hida see the value in this invention, and the Kaiu are urged to improve and replicate the design. Within a few years, the first Crab buso-senshi - armament warriors - stand upon the wall. They wield no-daichi so heavy a normal man could not hope to lift them, and are protected against the claws and poisons of the oni by thick steel plates.
    The suits are powered by small boilers, magically enhanced to channel the steam spirits and add their strength to the suit. They are armed with larger versions of normal samurai weapons, although the Kaiu have occasionally been...inventive. Buso-senshi armours with jade and crystal drive back the Shadowlands, and the Crab are free to make war on others. A legion of buso-senshi mecha invade the Crane terrorites. Normal tactics are useless against the armoured warriors.
    A Scorpion spy steals the design of the engine. Once the Crane are desperate, the Scorpion reveal that they have the knowledge, and offer it to the Crane...for a price. What that price is, no-one knows, but the Crane frantically work on their own buso-senshi suits. Their Phoenix allies offer help in creating newer versions of the magical engines.
    The Crane suits are far smaller and more elegant than the Crab's. While the Crab buso-senshi are hulking, brutish devices, belching black smoke and covered in thick armour, the Crane field light, fast suits, beautifully adorned and decorated. The Crane suits are more than works of art, though - the Phoenix have woven air spirits into the sorceries. Thin tracings of glowing white steam curl around the Crane armour - and lift them into the air.
    However, there are still too few Cranes buso-senshi, and too many Crab. The Doji call upon the favour of the Courts, hoping for the protection of the Imperial Legions. The Lion sieze this oppertunity, and lobby the Emperor to deny the Crane his support...unless the Lion are given the secret of the buso-senshi suits.The Lion armours shine like gold, and are blessed by the Kitsu. The buso-senshi armour follows the techniques and katas of the ancestors, and the samurai inside has his prowess with weapons supplemented by the suit.
    Meanwhile, the Phoenix and Dragon are both experimenting with the engines. The Dragon have had access to the design since the beginning, as Agasha shugenja helped create the suits in the first place. However, the traditionalist Mirumoto balk at the strange weapons, so the Agasha build relatively few suits. Those that they do build contain numerous innovations not seen before. The Phoenix, on the other hand, don't bother with merging spirit and steel at all, and create magical spells that conjure ethereal armour around the Shiba warriors.
    The Unicorn purchase the engines from the Crane. The Shinjo sieze on the concept of the buso-senshi as a way for their family to escape the shadow of the Moto and Otaku, and soon Shinjo buso-senshi walk the Unicorn plains.
    And the Scorpion? They have no such weapons. They gave their only copy of the plans to the Crane, remember? Buso-senshi suits of solid shadow are just a modern spin on the old tales of ninja....

    Yeah, ok, it's cheesy as hell. It's kewl, in the best sense of the world. Manga and l5r and mecha go hand in hand. If the campaign ever went ahead, it would basically centre on buso-senshi duels, and an arms race between the clans. I'd probably throw in parallels between the mecha and the rise of gunpowder weapons in feudal Japan. Could be fun. Anyway...game mechanics. The main addition is a new skill, buso-senshi, which covers operation of the armour. Your skills are capped by your buso-senshi skill while wearing armour  - if you've got athletics 4 and buso-senshi 2, you can only roll 2 dice when making an athletics check in armour.
    Buso-senshi use normal weapons, but their damage is increased by the strength of the armour.

    Sample buso-senshi suits
Crab (Armour of Unyielding Fortitude): STRENGTH +7 STAMINA +5 AGILITY -2 REFLEXES -2 ARMOUR 7
Crane (Elegant Wind of Summer): STRENGTH +4 STAMINA +3 AGILITY +1 REFLEXES +1 ARMOUR 4 Special: Flight
Dragon (Fire From the Mountain): STRENGTH +4 STAMINA +4 AGILITY +2 REFLEXES +1 ARMOUR 5 Special: Fire weapons
Lion (Golden Light Armour): STRENGTH +4 STAMINA +4 AGILITY +1 REFLEXES +1 ARMOUR 5 Special: Buso-senshi does not cap skills
Phoenix (Walk With Heaven): STRENTH +2, STAMINA +2 AGILITY +2 REFLEXES +2 ARMOUR 2 Special: Double Void
Unicorn (Akin to Thunder): STRENGTH +4 STAMINA +5 AGILITY 0 REFLEXES -1 ARMOUR 5
Scorpion (Steel Pincers, Shadow Tail): STRENGTH +3 STAMINA +0 AGILITY +2 REFLEXES +3 ARMOUR 2 Special: Stealth 4, armour can hide in wearer's shadow to be called forth at will.


(inspired by the Amber rpg) L5ambeR!
    A rain of blood and tears fall from heaven. A new race springs from where the two liquids mingle. The Naga and the Nezumi and the other creatures of the land look on these new Men with fear and confusion. Humanity, young and terrified, looks for heroes and champions to guide them.
    And the heavens answer their prayers. Lord Moon's youngest son defeats his father and the Children of Sun and Moon fall to earth.
    And you're one of them.

System:
    Basically, this campaign goes back to the beginning of Rokugan's history. The PCs are all either Kami, supernatural creatures like Kitsu, or superhuman champions of humanity like Matsu or Isawa. The game is supposed to be of legendary stature, with the PCs chucking mountains at each other. The rules would be derived from the rather excellent if somewhat out of print Amber rpg. Instead of the four stats of Strength, Warfare, Endurance and Psyche, the players would bid on:

    Instead of abilities like Pattern and Trump, characters would be able to buy abilities like Shapeshifting, talking to the dead etc.The ranking system would work the same way as it does in Amber.

The Game:
    Plots would initially center on exploring the world and building the Empire. There would be plenty of fun rivalries and genocidal conquests, lots of forcing puny humans to bow to the might of the Kami. Bushido would be an unformed philosophy, and the characters would have to create their own moral codes to live by, create their own identities. The mid-point of the game would be the tournament to decide who becomes Emperor.
    The second half of the game would be a long buildup to the War with the Shadowlands and the Day of Thunder.