Legend of the 5 Rings Smoking Waters
Each player should create two different characters. One of these must be a member of the Phoenix clan; the other can be whatever special snowflake is desired, but it is up to the player to come up with a reason for that character to be in Phoenix lands for a long period of time.
Good reasons include:
- Being married or betrothed to a Phoenix (preferably to a PC)
- Being a hostage from another clan, held to ensure compliance with an agreement
- Being a ronin who has been hired into service; a ronin who was once a Clan samurai does not need to share any details of their former affiliation with the other players (there are a large number of former Scorpion and Lion ronin about)
- A samurai may serve as the representative of a wealthy or powerful patron who has an interest in the town of Smoking Waters (for instance, there is a wealthy Mantis noble at Winter Court; if the players strike a deal with him, he may assign a member of his entourage to keep an eye on his investment)
- A bushi may be assigned to serve as yojimbo to another PC who is betrothed to an influential member of another clan
Having a secondary character serves several purposes. It allows me to ensure that every player has a character with a vested interest in the Phoenix Clan, and will be able to take part in Clan-only matters. Having a backup character on hand lets us avoid shoehorning in a new character if someone’s PC gets killed. When different situations arise, the players can assemble a team that is more suited to dealing with specific circumstances, rather than trying to figure out what a Crab Bushi with the Antisocial disadvantage will do at Winter Court. Finally, it gives each player a second resource to handle behind-the-scenes actions such as doing research, overseeing lands and households, or carrying correspondence.
Follow the standard character creation guidelines in the Core Book. Other sourcebooks are allowed, but please let me know which items from other books you plan to use before the first session so I may examine them. NO CHARACTER SHOULD BE FROM OR HAVE VISITED SMOKING WATERS, OR BE RELATED TO ANYONE WHO HAS
Additional rules, such as kata, kiho, and alternate and advanced paths, are allowed once play begins, but no PC may start the game with them. If you have a compelling reason to start with one of these, by all means discuss it with me, but my preference is to leave them as things to earn in play. Ancestors are also allowed, but must be discussed with me first. Ancestors offer potent benefits, and make strenuous demands upon their descendants, so I’d like to make sure we are all on the same page before any disagreements come up.
It is possible to acquire many Advantages (and Disadvantages!) during play, either by purchasing them with XP (at list cost +2) or as rewards for downtime activities.
Each character earns XP at the same rate, so even if you never play one of them, it is assumed that they are keeping themselves busy behind the scenes. You are not required to fully stat out your secondary character until you actually play it, and may spend any banked XP at that time. A player may switch from their primary to secondary character whenever it is appropriate (no teleporting into the middle of a battle!)
I encourage players to have their primary and secondary characters connected to each other somehow, if not necessarily to their own characters. For instance, Paige’s primary character might be married to Ron’s secondary character. My one caveat to this is that anyone who takes an Advantage or Disadvantage related to marriage or other relationships (such as Blissful Betrothal or Sworn Enemy) may not have it apply to another PC.