One Clan stands between the Jade Empire and the fell demons of the Shadowlands: the Crab. Unlike the other clans, the Crab have never known peace. They have no respite, no rest, no hope for mercy, and no remorse. For a thousand years they have manned the Kaiu Walls, fighting ruthlessly against endless assaults. Without the Crab, Rokugan would be in flames.
You are a young samurai of the Crab Clan, already battle-hardened by fending off massed Shadowlands assaults upon the Kaiu Walls. You have no time for niceties or etiquette; you guzzle water from a bucket and have no interest in sipping tea from a tiny porcelain cup.
Since the self-sacrifice of your heroic daimyo Hida Yakamo, his younger sister, Hida O-Ushi, has become the leader of the Crab. She is a worthy samurai, dark and beautiful, and is never seen without her hammer slung casually over her shoulder. Though feared far and wide as “the bully,” you know she has a quick (if dark) sense of humor and is a very capable leader and expert fighter.
It is for her sake that you have entered the Test of the Topaz Champion. This annual event pits the best and brightest of the young samurai against each other. The winner gains glory for the clan and wins an invitation to the prestigious Kakita Dueling Academy.
Where there is grace, there is the Crane, beautiful, refined, and honorable. To watch a Crane is to watch poetry in motion, be it a courtier delicately turning the eyes of the Empire to look upon you in scorn, or an iaijutsu duelist from the Kakita Academy drawing a blade and slicing your head from your shoulders in a fluid motion so fast that it passes in the blink of an eye.
You are a young Crane samurai, whose honorable clan is called “the left hand of the Emperor.” Yours is the grace of the courtier, the elegance of the peacock, the honor of the heavens, and the deadly dueling strike of a bolt of lightning. You uphold the highest ideals of the image of the warrior-poet.
Some think the Crane are soft. You know better. Doji Kuwanan has led your clan since the death of your previous daimyo at the Day of Thunder. Resplendent in his flowing kimono with twin banners on his back, he is a fearsome sight on the battlefield, and the speed with which he wields his spear is the ultimate expression of the Crane dueling motto: “You blink, you die.”
This is the Test of the Topaz Champion, an annual event pits the best and brightest of the young samurai against each other. The winner gains glory for the clan and wins an invitation to your clan’s dueling academy. As a Crane, you can attend, but you will earn the right to prove yourself truly worthy.
Shrouded in mystery for centuries, the Dragon embrace magical secrets the Phoenix do not understand, and use a two-sworded technique that flusters even the Crane. But most mysterious of all are the ise zumi, the tattooed monks. Stories abound of ise zumi breathing fire, flying through the air, or withstanding sword blows to their naked chest. No one understands the Dragon.
You are a young Dragon samurai come down from the mysterious Dragon Clan strongholds deep in the mountains. You are aloof, raised in relative isolation with the mysterious tattooed monks and trained in the deadly Mirumoto two-blade technique. You need no friends.
The Dragon thrive on isolation. Consider Hitomi, the daimyo of the Dragon Clan. her vendetta against a Crab caused her to be ostracized even before her Obsidian Hand began to cover her body in cold, black glass. Now she sits alone upon the Dragon Throne, and while others consider her an outcast, you know she is meditating in her solitude, preparing to fight with a god.
It is for her sake that you have entered the Test of the Topaz Champion. This annual event pits the best and brightest of the young samurai against each other. The winner gains glory for the clan and wins an invitation to the prestigious Kakita Dueling Academy. Even if they only teach the use of one sword.
The Lion Clan is indisputably the dominant military force in the Jade Empire. They are “the right hand of the Emperor.” In the entire history of the Empire, an army led by an Akodo general has never been defeated. The weight of this long history of success is what drives the Lion armies forward in roaring ranks of warriors fanatically charging and destroying all opposition.
You are a fearless young soldier of the Lion Clan. Your mind is filled with Bushido, the way of the warrior. Your heart is filled with the courage of a hundred generations of your ancestors, urging you forward. Your training is as sharp as a lion’s claws, honed by endless hours of practice.
The history of the Lion Clan sets a high standard. As the right hand of the Emperor, the Lion’s duty is to crush those who oppose the will of the Jade Throne. Matsu Ketsui, the head of the Matsu family, is such a warrior. Her close-cropped hair, light armor, and face paint give her the look of a predator, and hundreds of the dead have been taught her lesson of “one strike, one kill.”
It is for the honor of your ancestors that you have entered the Test of the Topaz Champion. This annual event pits the best and brightest of the young samurai against each other. The winner gains glory for the clan and wins an invitation to the prestigious Kakita Dueling Academy. You know only one action: to win.
The Yoritomo’s Alliance is a confederation of minor clans united under the Mantis Clan. Led by Yoritomo, the Son of Storms, the Alliance has gained a place among the Great Clans. But Mantis plans have not stopped there. Once mercenaries, your clan will use their new-found power to gain greater power, for in this age you must forge your own destiny on the bodies of your enemies.
You are a young samurai of the Mantis Clan, the dominant clan of the Yoritomo’s Alliance. Though others dismiss you as a petty mercenary, you are one of the most ruthless samurai in the Jade Empire. You take the Mantis emblem very seriously and emulate the insect: direct, ruthless and remorseless.
You are here by virtue of the daring of your daimyo, Yoritomo. He forged the Alliance, and he forced the Great Clans to deal with the Mantis and its allies as equals. He has taught the Mantis to take what they want, seize it in their claws and keep it, be it territory or gold or recognition. You have learned your lesson well. You have decided that you will take the Topaz Championship.
The Test of the Topaz Champion is an annual event that pits the best and brightest of the young samurai against each other. The winner gains glory for the clan and wins an invitation to the prestigious Kakita Dueling Academy. The Championship will be yours. Let no one stand in your way.
Serpent people from an ancient time before human history, the Naga are as dangerous as they are alien. They are experts in ambush and evasion, powerful in strength and number, and the finest archers in all of Rokugan. They often speak of the Akasha, the soul of their race, but as yet no human truly understands their meaning. Human perspective is so pitifully short.
You are an Ashamana, a young one of the Naga. Your name is not important, for you are a part of the Naga’s collective racial memory, the Akasha, and your soul is but a part of the whole. You have been born a hundred times before, and you will be born a thousand times again. Death is not important.
But life is. You live to serve your people, and you will do it as best you can. Be worthy, and you will receive new responsibilities, perhaps even take the title of the Shahadet or the Qamar. Or, perhaps, if you can prove yourself a better warrior than all of these small people with legs, the humans will revere your kind, and you will become an emissary. Then you would create a new title.
You have entered the Test of the Topaz Champion to study as much as to win. This annual event pits the best and the brightest of the young samurai against each other. The winner gains glory for the clan and wins an invitation to the prestigious Kakita Dueling Academy. You are curious. very curious.
A clan devoted to the mastery of magic, the Phoenix clan was destroyed when, seeking to understand the power of the Shadowlands, the Elemental Masters fell to its grotesque corruption. The clan is now rebuilding, and novitiates are again exploring the mysteries of Earth, Air, Fire, Water and the Void. The Phoenix Clan is rising from the ashes, bringing the voice of peace to Rokugan.
You are a samurai of the Phoenix clan, though, unlike the others around you, you are not trained in Bushido, the way of the warrior. You are a shugenja, a practitioner of magic. Your endless training has given you insights into the spiritual nature of the world that no bushi could ever understand.
You hope someday to master an element, following in the footsteps of Isawa Hochiu, the Acolyte of Fire. He is a gentle soul, and while he is as fast as the flame, he spares the lives of those he fights. He taught you that the sword is the way of war, while magic and its attendant prayers are the way of peace. Still, you must learn to fight, for if you know how to fight, you will never need to.
It is to prove the power of a calm and peaceful mind that you have entered the Test of the Topaz Champion. This annual event pits the best and brightest of the young samurai against each other. The winner gains glory for the clan and wins an invitation to the prestigious Kakita Dueling Academy.
Charged with the task of being the under-hand of the Emperor, the Scorpion dutifully execute vile and tasteless deeds beneath the honor of the one who sits on the throne. Consorts of ninja and scholars of poison are the Scorpion. There is said to be no secret but a Scorpion knows it, no trick but a Scorpion sees through it, no mystery but a Scorpion lies in wait two layers deeper.
You are a young samurai of the Scorpion Clan, also called “the under-hand of the Emperor.” You wear a mask, so that those who stand against you know not to trust you. In combat as in life, you will use any trick, no matter how low. Better to succeed dishonorably than to fail with dignity.
Bayushi Togai, one of the most famous of the Scorpion, is your ideal. Proudly arrayed in the blood-red and black armor of the Scorpion, he brags of his mastery of poisons. Only a Scorpion could be so brazenly dishonorable and yet survive, for the fear of Togai’s poisons ensures he has no enemies. You will follow him, for true Scorpions will tread the darkest paths without hesitation.
You’ve entered the Test of the Topaz Champion to better understand the enemy. This annual event pits the best and brightest of the young samurai against each other. The winner wins glory for the clan and an invitation to the prestigious Kakita Dueling Academy, where you will learn more of their secrets.
In an Empire where samurai are known by their clan, you have chosen your own path. You will not bow to tradition forced by parentage, nor will you kill whomever your so-called superior orders you to. You are a ronin, a “wave man,” moving where you will. Granted, the clans give you no respect, but you know in your heart you do what’s right, for the right reason.
You are a young samurai warrior. You owe your allegiance to no one. You have learned your skills mostly through practice against bandits and arrogant samurai, with a lesson or two provided by a sensei who recognized your true potential. Though it has drawbacks, the free life is a good one.
Take Dairya, for example, the famous ronin. Yes, a Crane took his eye once, but that Crane now lies dead, and no other Crane seems inclined to continue the feud. Dairya wanders the Empire, living life as he wishes. And although he has worked with Emperor Toturi lately, he does not work for him. As he says, “Some call me a masterless man. They are wrong. I am my own master.”
You have entered the Test of the Topaz Champion to prove that honor and skill are not determined by clan. This annual event pits the best and brightest of the young samurai against each other. Should you win an invitation to the prestigious Kakita Dueling Academy, the presence of a ronin will embarrass them.
The Unicorn Clan are expert riders hardened by centuries spent exploring the Burning Sands and other strange lands beyond the borders of the Empire. While many dismiss them as uncivilized boors using “barbarian tricks,” they are the finest cavalry in the Empire, and their great steeds the swiftest and most powerful. Few samurai witness a Unicorn charge and live to tell the tale.
You are a young samurai, born in a tent and raised in the saddle. The famous speed and size of the Unicorn steeds has infected you with a sense of adventure and an unquenchable thrill for speed. Of those gathered here, only you have been beyond the Empire, and you know many “barbarian tricks.”
Otaku Kamoko, once the leader of the battle Maidens, is now the daimyo of your clan and the epitome of what it means to be a Unicorn samurai. She is fearless on the attack, charging headlong into massed formations of the enemy, splitting them open with her sword or crushing them beneath the hooves of her horse. She taught you that every battle can be won with speed and daring.
You will prove this with your victory at the Test of the Topaz Champion. This annual event pits the best and brightest of the young samurai against each other. The winner gains glory for the clan and wins an invitation to the prestigious Kakita Dueling Academy.