Dawn of the Tiger
By Shawn Carman
The Rokugani coast, north of Otosan Uchi
Hotaru Zenko pulled her horse to a stop and hopped down from the steed, eager to take a break from after over an hour in the saddle. She took a brief draught from the small clay bottle she carried with her, reinvigorated by the cool spring water as she took in the magnificent ocean view. The Firefly Clan did not control a vast amount of land, even by Minor Clan standards, but their beauty more than made up for their small size. This spot was her favorite, and if her duties permitted she always stopped here for a moment to bask in the glory the Fortunes had created. The ocean stretched before her for an eternity. In the distant north she could just make out the first of the Firefly towers that secured this length of coastline. Far to the south she could see the village that surrounded her clan’s meager home. In this spot, however, there was quiet serenity, disturbed only by the occasional sound of distant thunder.
Zenko frowned. The sound she heard was unlike any thunder she had ever heard. It was short, almost a booming sound, and was now repeating with increasing frequency. She glanced back to the north, but saw nothing. She looked again to the south, and something fluttered in her chest.
The Firefly village was aflame.
Zenko grabbed the reins of her horse and leaped atop the saddle in one smooth movement. She turned south, her hand on her blade, but never even had the opportunity to spur her trusted steed onward.
There was an earth-shattering explosion from the north. The horse, terrified by the sound, bucked wildly, hurling Zenko to the ground. She landed hard on her shoulder, and heard something crack. Hissing with the pain, she glanced back to the north and saw a thick column of smoke from the tower there, or from where the tower had been only moments before. Now, there was only smoke and fire.
Zenko slowly climbed to her feet, every movement in her right arm sending fresh waves of agony up her back. She searched for her horse, but did not see it. The thunder was coming more frequently now, and she could see explosions in Firefly village. She staggered to the cliff’s edge, not certain what else to do. She scanned the ocean again, this time with purpose. She squinted, searching for anything unusual. Finally, she saw a thick collection of unusual shapes to the north and south, where the explosions where coming from. Tiny puffs of smoke were coming from the ships, each only a second before the thunderous report. She did not recognize the vessels.
“Gaijin,” she croaked.
The pain in her arm surged again, and she wavered. The last sensation she ever experienced was the rush of sea air as she plummeted over the cliff into the breakers below.
Rough hands drug him from the cell where he had lain for three days and drug him through a crude stone corridor. He struggled to gain his footing, but could not. He was taken to a great wooden door and shoved through unceremoniously, where he landed in a tattered pile on the dirt floor. Weak from hunger and exhaustion, he still found the strength to climb to his feet, however shakily.
“How far you have fallen, Doji Tanitsu.”
Tanitsu looked around for the voice, but could see nothing in the dim light and deep shadows. “Fallen? I have been dragged. Whoever you are, you are most brazen to kidnap the Imperial Advisor. I strongly urge you to reconsider.”
“Where are my manners?” The voice gave no sign of having even registered Tanitsu’s words. “Shanegon, give our guest some refreshment.”
A man stepped from the shadows, cloaked from neck to ankle in thick crimson robes. His face was gaunt and sunken, but there was a cruel light in his eyes that made him dangerous. With a flourish, he summoned a gout of brackish water that struck Tanitsu in the chest with all the force of the tide rolling in. The Crane fell backwards, driven to the floor with enough force to crush the breath from his lungs. He lay gasping for several moments, struggling to breathe. A second form emerged from the shadows, completely obscured by voluminous robes and a mask bearing a winding depiction of a tiger on the prowl. “I trust you feel better?”
“This is pointless,” Tantisu rasped. “You only invite the wrath of the Emperor with these needless hostilities.”
“The Emperor?” The masked man laughed, although his voice sounded strangely devoid of humor. “The Emperor is a failure and a farce. Already my agents within his Legions are ensuring that he will be incapable of moving against us. I have grown tired of watching weaklings struggle to end his reign. The Gozoku failed. The Shogun failed. Even the Kolat failed. But I shall not.”
Tanitsu’s face twisted in a grimace of disgust. “So has claimed every tyrant and fool that tried over the past one thousand years.”
“Perhaps,” the man said, “but none of them had the unique qualities I possess. Even now, my agents have eliminated the other Masters and ensured that their resources have been folded into my own. I have worked toward this goal for many years, and I assure you I have left no avenue open for failure. And as you may be aware, my ally Moshi Shanegon has spent the past several years abroad, ensuring my alliance with a number of other factions is solid. Even now, the combined forces of my gaijin allies move against the Empire. By the time the fools among the Great Clans realize what is truly happening, it will be far too late. The throne will be empty, and I will take control of this shattered Empire.”
“Why did you bring me here?” Tanitsu demanded. “Why not kill me?
The cloaked figure tilted its head. “Because I wished to kill you myself, of course. And, if the full truth be known, I have missed you. I despise weakness, so you must die.”
“What?” Tanitsu croaked.
A gloved hand reached up and removed the mask obscuring Master Tiger’s features. It fell away to the dirt, and with it the enchantment that altered the Master’s voice. “Goodbye, Tanitsu.”
Tanitsu’s eyes widened. “Fortunes, no,” he whispered, his eyes wavering as he took in the terrible scars and the milky, dead eye. “What happened to you?”
“Life,” Toturi Tsudao whispered. “And death.”
Tanitsu’s scream was cut off sharply by the blade of a knife.
Chapter 3d – Tiger’s Fury Mechanics:
The Tiger’s Fury Schools
The Tiger’s Fury is the name given to the massive fleet of gaijin warships controlled by Toturi Tsudao as Master Tiger through her network of gaijin allies. Although few realize it, the diverse groups of warriors that serve aboard these massive vessels are all bound to Tsudao’s will through her use of Nezumi name magic. Some cultures among the Tiger’s Fury recognize the power of another possessing their Name, but most do not. As such, it is likely they will not realize the power Master Tiger holds over them until it is far too late to resist her wishes.
There are nearly a dozen cultures that are represented among the fleet, many of which have been enemies for generations. The powerful charisma and sorcery of Master Tiger, combined with the promise of a rich Empire laid bare, is so great that they can overcome their mutual hatred, at least for now.
The Senpet Legionnaire School
Along with the Ashalan and the Lost Tribes of the Moto, the Senpet have perhaps the most knowledge of Rokugan of all the Tiger’s Fury factions. They are intimately familiar with the Scorpion Clan, and as such have a rather skewed vision of Rokugan, wherein all samurai are devious, manipulative villains that cannot be trusted under any circumstances. Because of the Senpet Empire’s long-standing military tradition and their reputation as peerless warriors, the legionnaires frequently serve as the Tiger’s officers and commanders.
Benefit: +1 Strength
Skills: Battle, Charioteer, Defense, Lore: History, Swordsmanship, Spears, any one Skill
Honor: N/A (Treat as 2.0 for all effects that target Honor Rank)
Outfit: Spear, shield (light or medium), short sword, robes, sandals, holy symbol
Rank 1: The Serpent’s Fangs
Senpet legionnaires are taught to wield a shield when fighting with any weapon, ensuring that they are always well-protected and able to strike their enemies with full force. Penalties to your attack rolls as a result of carrying a shield are reduced by one level (no penalty for light shields, +5 for medium, +10 for large). Additionally, you roll and keep one additional die on all attack and damage rolls made with a spear. You add your Water Ring to the total of all your damage rolls.
Rank 2: Strength of an Empire
When a legionnaire strikes, his opponents feel the wrath of an entire empire. Before making an attack roll, you may choose to reduce the amount of your roll by a fixed amount. If your attack hits an opponent, you add twice the number you subtracted from your attack roll to the total of your damage roll. The amount subtracted from your attack roll cannot exceed your School Rank x2. You subtract your Earth Ring from the total of any damage roll made against you.
Rank 3: The Serpent’s Strike
The steel of a Senpet’s blade is said to bring death and suffering to all those who suffer having it drawn against them. You gain an additional attack per round. You add twice your Water Ring to all your damage totals, replacing the benefit from Rank 1.
Rank 4: Fury of the Desert
Nothing is as punishing as the merciless desert winds, save perhaps the legionnaires who train in them. Once per skirmish you may move with the speed of the desert wind, doubling your Initiative for a number of rounds equal to one less than your School Rank. You subtract twice your Earth Ring from the total of any damage roll made against you, replacing the benefit from Rank 2.
Rank 5: The Serpent’s Venom
So skilled are the Senpet legionnaires in killing their foes, that legend tell that their weapons are coated with a poison that cannot be resisted and that kills within moments. After you damage an opponent, they must make a Stamina roll against a TN equal to the number of Wounds you inflicted. If their roll fails, they are immediately reduced to the Down wound level. You add three times your Water Ring to the total of all your damage rolls, replacing the benefit from Rank 3.
The Thrane Musketeer School
The Kingdom of Thrane died a terrible death long ago. Ironically, the only Thranes to survive were those outcasts and criminals who did not dwell within its borders. Strangely patriotic and morbid, the surviving Thranes have banded together in several large groups of pirates and mercenaries. They are seemingly determined to send as many enemies as possible to the afterlife to keep their kinsmen company.
Benefit: +1 Agility
Skills: Athletics, Craft: Sailing, Defense, Intimidation, Rifle (Musket), Swordsmanship, any 1 Skill
Honor: N/A (Treated as 1.0 for all effects that target Honor Rank)
Outfit: Musket, rapier, traveling clothes with leather breastplate (treat as light armor), powder horn (15 shots worth), sling bag
Rank 1: Keep Your Powder Dry
Thrane musketeers are perhaps the finest riflemen in the world, and relish their reputation for excellence. You never suffer Mishaps when using a firearm (see page XX). You receive a Free Raise on all attack rolls made with a firearm, and roll one additional die on all firearm damage rolls. You add your Fire Ring to the total of all your attack rolls.
Rank 2: The Secret of D’Ellis
Thrane musketeers practice the rapid reloading style first taught to them by the legendary Merenae expatriate Alphonse D’Ellis. You may reload any firearm governed by a Skill in which you have at least 3 ranks as a Simple Action. You also add your Air Ring to your TN to Be Hit.
Rank 3: A World Away
Distance is nothing to a Thrane marksman. By aiming for one round (as a Complex Action), you can double the range of any firearm you are wielding and completely ignore all range penalties for a single attack. You add twice your Fire Ring to all attack your rolls, replacing the benefit from Rank 1.
Rank 4: Barrage Fire
A true musketeer aims and fires in one fluid motion, never failing to strike his target. You gain one additional action per round, which may be used to make an additional attack or to perform a Complex Action. You add twice your Air Ring to your TN to Be Hit, replacing the benefit from Rank 2.
Rank 5: The Eye of the Needle
A musketeer never misses his target. You may immediately re-roll any failed attack roll made when wielding a musket. You may re-roll only once per failed attack, and if the re-roll misses, the attack has missed. You gain a bonus on the re-roll equal to twice your School Rank. You add three times your Fire Ring to all your attack rolls, replacing the benefit from Rank 3.
Gorh’ton Marauder School
The enigmatic race called the gorh’ton originates from a distant land, farther even than the cultures of the Burning Sands have ever traveled. Similar in appearance to bakemono, only the size of a Hida warrior, these bestial entities are far more intelligent than their appearance would seem to indicate. How they came into the Tiger’s service is a mystery to the rest of the fleet, but their prowess in battle is so great that none question them overmuch on their origins. The greatest gorh’ton warriors are the Marauders, a force of unabashed destroyers who revere a pantheon of powerful totems that bear the names of various animals the gorh’ton regard as powerful spirits.
Benefit: +1 Strength
Skills: Athletics, Battle, Defense, Heavy Weapons (Ax), Jiujitsu, Swordsmanship, any one Skill
Honor: N/A (Treat as 1.0 for effects that target Honor Rank)
Rank 1: Chasing the Wolf
Wolf is the perfect totem for young warriors: fast, agile, and fierce. At the beginning of each round, you gain a +5 bonus to your Initiative, attack roll, or damage roll. You must declare this before the first action is taken, and it may change each round. You add your Water Ring to the total of all your damage rolls.
Rank 2: Besting the Boar
Scarred and powerful, Boar is a popular totem with many savage marauders. Such soldiers collide with their foes without thought of personal safety, only the opponent’s destruction. When making a Full Attack, you may make a Contested Earth Roll against your opponent. If you are victorious, the opponent suffers Knockdown as well as any damage you may have inflicted. The TN penalties you suffer as a result of Wound Levels are reduced by 1.
Rank 3: Riding the Wyvern
There is no more feared totem than the dreadful war-serpent Wyvern. You may make an additional attack per round. You add twice your Water Ring to the total of all your damage rolls, replacing the benefit from Rank 1.
Rank 4: Wrestling the Bear
Bear is not the most powerful totem, but is by far the strongest. Your melee damage roll keep a number of additional dice equal to your School Rank minus 2. This includes unarmed attacks and grapples. You gain a number of additional Wounds at each level equal to your School Rank. The TN penalties you suffer as a result of Wound Levels are reduced by 2, replacing the benefit from Rank 2.
Rank 5: Leaping the Shark
Shark is the perfect killing machine, and a master marauder can channel his fury. Any foe you have damaged with a melee attack this round can be targeted with an Extra Attack maneuver that requires no Raises. This may be done only once per round, and does not reduce the number of attacks you may normally make. This Extra Attack rolls a number of additional dice equal to your School Rank on its damage roll. You add three times your Water Ring to the total of all your damage rolls, replacing the benefit from Rank 3.
Yodotai Centurion School
The giant Yodotai Empire lies in distant lands, and it has honor and military power that rivals or exceeds that of Rokugan itself. Though the vast majority of its forces remain at home, far from Rokugani shores, many of their scout units have traveled close to Medinaat al Salaam in search of new lands to conquer. The Tiger’s Fury contains several of the Yodotai legions, bound to the army by powerful magic. Master Tiger utilizes the highly disciplined Yodotai units in the heart of each battle.
Benefit: +1 Agility
Skills: Athletics, Battle, Defense, Lore: History, Swordsmanship, Spears (Pilum), any one Skill
Honor: N/A (Treat as 3.0 for all effects that target Honor Rank)
Outfit: Lorica segmenta, gladius, shield (light or medium), pilum, sandals, tunic, toga, travel pack, and 5 gold coins
Rank 1: Tortoise Formation
Yodotai centurions are taught to use a shield with their weapons, covering the soldier so that he may retaliate with his pilum or gladius. Penalties to your attack rolls as a result of carrying a shield are reduced by one level (no penalty for light shields, +5 for medium, +10 for large). As a Simple Action, you may choose to form the Tortoise stance, increasing your TN to be Hit by your School Rank x 5 against all ranged attacks. Finally, you add your Fire Ring to all attack rolls.
Rank 2: In Close Quarters
Yodotai centurions excel in close combat. He blocks attacks with his shield, while pushing close to the enemy and stabbing them with his gladius. A number of times per day equal to your School Rank, if an enemy misses you while you are in the Full Defense posture, you may immediately counterattack. You switch to the Attack posture. Your attack roll is increased by 2x your School Rank. If the attack succeeds, you roll two extra dice to the damage roll of this attack. This attack counts as your action for the turn if you have not already performed an action. Additionally, you add your Earth Ring to all damage rolls.
Rank 3: Deadly Strike
Yodotai centurions learn to start combat by throwing their pilum with deadly accuracy and then closing in, gladius in hand. You gain an additional attack per round. You may draw a gladius as a Free Action in any round where you throw a pilum. You add twice your Fire Ring to all attack rolls, replacing the bonus gained in Rank 1.
Rank 4: Wedge Formation
Yodotai centurions often attack in a wedge, forming up in a triangle, charging and breaking the enemy line. You may charge an enemy as a Complex Action up to a number of feet equal to 10 x your Water Ring. While you remain in close range with that opponent, he receives a penalty to his attack rolls against you equal to your School Rank x 3. You add 2x your Earth Ring to all damage rolls, replacing the bonus gained in Rank 2.
Rank 5: With My Brothers
A Yodotai centurion does not fall, knowing that he weakens the rest of his unit with his failure. You may spend a Void Point to ignore all Wound penalties for a number of Rounds equal to your School Rank. If you receive enough Wounds to die, you die. Additionally, your presence inspires all allies within 15′. All allies within range gain a bonus equal to your School Rank + Willpower to all attack and damage rolls. Finally, you add three times your Fire Ring to all attack rolls, replacing the bonus gained in Rank 3.
The Tiger’s Harrowed (New Path)
There are some that serve the Tiger who are so valuable that they cannot be permitted to rest, even when death claims them. Through a blasphemous perversion of the Transcendent ritual that allowed her to survive, Master Tiger can return certain individuals to a semblance of life, that they might continue to serve her. This ritual is a perversion of the original, however, and is not as effective. Those animated by this ritual are clearly not well, with sallow, sunken skin and an overall corpse-like appearance. Their physical and mental abilities, however, remain completely intact. In the end, that is all that Master Tiger cares for.
Technique Rank: 6
Path of Entry: Any
Requirements: Must have died and been the subject of a ritual by Master Tiger
Path of Egress: Re-enter the same School at appropriate Rank
Technique: Death Is No Escape – The Harrowed are only partially living entities returned to a semblance of life by the powerful sorcery of Master Tiger. You are no longer affected by poison or disease. Damage dice rolled against you cannot explode. You recover a number of Wounds per hour equal to your Stamina.