Previewing the Deer Clan in Courts of Stone
She was on him before he could lift his hands. Hair yanked back, a glinting dagger held before his face, Yoshiro heard a gargled scream and briefly believed it his own. Suddenly freed, he looked down to find the woman by his feet, her throat slit. Before him stood a lithe man wielding a three-pronged yari, one of its hooks dripping in blood.
“Sorry about the mess,” the stranger said. “Are you alright?”
Numb with shock, Yoshiro could only nod his head.
“Good. The court needs your stories.”
In the Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying Game, you enter a world of magic and conflict. Celestial turmoil, natural disasters, and countless schemes by the mortals of the realm have led to an imbalance in the world and now the Emerald Empire is threatened by both external and internal forces. In such chaotic times, the actions of a mere handful of individuals may have a lasting impact on the world and many are willing to go to any lengths to achieve their goals.
With the Courts of Stone sourcebook, you unlock the secrets of the Rokugani castles, keeps, and courts, where battles between nobles are fought with wits and words and a single mistake can lead to dishonor or death. When secrets are deadlier than swords, a well-placed word can make or destroy a courtier, and one must care to tread softly on these treacherous grounds.
Today, we invite you to meet the Deer Clan, the subtle masters of manipulation and the newest minor clan introduced to the Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying Game in Courts of Stone—now available for pre-order at your local retailer or online through our website with free shipping within the continental United States!
Weavers of Fate
In our last preview, we looked at the first section of Courts of Stone, which detailed rules for constructing your own Rokugani castle, and offered several sample castles that you could incorporate into your adventures in the Emerald Empire. The second section of this comprehensive sourcebook introduces the warriors and courtiers of the Deer Minor Clan, along with rules for creating player characters hailing from the Deer Clan’s ranks.
In the land of Rokugan, the Deer Clan serves as a guardian of balance. Through divine vision, the members of this clan uncover threads of futures yet to come, which they then weave or sever as they see fit to ensure that the delicate tapestry of the Emerald Empire is maintained. Their famed matchmakers forge and break alliances between families to ensure that none become too powerful, while their speardancers protect charges whose work is vital to the empire and usher death to those too powerful. They may seek peace, but that does not mean that they are passive.
The key to this Clan’s success is subtlety. The work of the Deer Clan is rarely noticed, but their influence can be felt throughout Rokugan. Through observation and understanding, they can play on both sides of any divide, then strike indirectly to ensure their Clan comes out on top. In Courts of Stone, you will learn how this new Clan relates to each of the Great Clans and how they use them to tip the scales of balance.
If you wish to join the Deer Clan in your adventures, you can look forward to hidden agendas as you often walk a tightrope of weakening one side in a conflict just enough to balance it against its adversary. Relationships with others may prove difficult as Deer Clan members are taught that developing strong feelings for anyone outside their clan is a risk if they may be ordered to act against them, but such emotions are difficult to quiet and the Deer are often accepting of flaws—even those of the heart.
Like a Ghost
Beyond details of the Deer Clan, the second section of Courts of Stone also includes other new player character options—such as new schools and techniques, rhetorical shūji, stealthy ninjutsu, and courtly rituals. Further, it provides new advantages, disadvantages, and gear for those who seek a subtler path to victory.
Members of the Deer Clan may thrive as Shika Matchmakers or take up the path of spear and act as Speardancers, passing messages with swiftness and neutrality. Meanwhile, others may choose to become bureaucrats, spymasters, or other positions that may prove vital during campaigns set amidst the courts of Rokugan. The most secretive of all these schools is that of the shinobi Mercenary Ninja. These skilled assassins pass through life without family, honor, or remorse, using their silent and lethal trade to earn their fortune from wealthy employers who seek disposable and deniable assets who can kill and steal with ruthless efficiency. This school often appeals to highly skilled commoners and former Great Clan shinobi, but unlike shinobi who loyally serve their Clan, Mercenary Ninjas serve only their own interests. While there are naturally no formal schools for such a lawless and immoral occupation, some still train under a mentor to learn the ways of the shadows and the most efficient methods of assassination.
In order to become a skilled shinobi of any discipline, Courts of Stone offers you new techniques for ninjutsu to master as they go about their devious work. Discourse-focused characters may wish to always have an artful alibi prepared, while duelists may gain the advantage against an opponent with a cunning distraction. Even the most ruthless shinobi may find it more useful in certain situations to dispose of troublesome targets with silent elimination—using martial arts holds or chains to choke them into unconsciousness. After all, if your mission is to kidnap a courtier, your employer will not be pleased if you return with a corpse. By equipping your character with a variety of skills and techniques, you will be better prepared to face the varied challenges of Rokugan’s courts and bring about a future to fit your design.
Wars of Shadows
To live in the courts of Rokugan is to balance on the edge of a knife. A single step in the wrong direction may lead to your downfall, but if you can successfully navigate the social landscape, you can shape the future of the empire without ever placing yourself in harm’s way. Do you have the cunning to survive and change the course of history?
Pre-order your copy of Courts of Stone (L5R08) at your local retailer today or online through our website—with free shipping in the continental US—here! Otherwise, you can look for this sourcebook when it hits shelves in the second quarter of 2019!