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Rank Two: The Lion Cannot Fail
The first true lesson of the great Ikoma is that surrender is
never an option, and failure can be overcome regardless of
circumstances. You gain a bonus of +1k0 to all Skill Rolls
using School Skills.
Rank Three: The Spirit of Ikoma
This section contains new mechanics for use in the Legend
of the Five Rings 4th Edition RPG. Here we present the Lion’s
Shadow, a rather unconventional school maintained by the
Ikoma. Although it is a bushi school, its students are taught to
approach the battlefield of the courts with the same ruthlessness as any other field of conflict, and almost all Lion delegations to major courts include one or two of the Lion’s Shadow.
Although many among the Lion remember him differently,
the followers of the Lion’s Shadow know that Ikoma was a
warrior who cared for victory first, and the means of attaining
that victory second. Once per Round, you may lose three
points of Honor as a Free Action to add +2k1 to your attack,
damage, and Contested Social Skill Rolls until the end of the
Rank Four: The Quiet Lion’s Claws
New Basic School:
The Ikoma Lion’s Shadow [Bushi]
The Ikoma Lion’s Shadow [Bushi]
Benefit: +1 Awareness
Skills: Courtier, Etiquette, Kenjutsu, Investigation
(Notice), Sincerity, Stealth, any one High or Low skill
Outfit: Traditional Clothing, Daisho, any one weapon,
Calligraphy Set, Traveling Pack, 5 Koku
Rank One: No Boundaries
Those who walk the path of Ikoma choose a life of self-sacrifice and questionable actions in order to serve their clan as
their founder did. You do not lose Honor for using Low Skills
if they are used directly for the goals or glory of the Lion Clan
(subject to GM judgment). As a Free Action you may target
a number of opponents equal to your School Rank; you gain
a bonus of +1k0 to the total of all attack rolls and Contested
Rolls made against these opponents. This bonus may be activated a number of times per day equal to your School Rank,
and lasts until the end of the day.
The wrath of a disciple of Ikoma is terrible to behold. You may
spend a Void Point to take a Free Action to make a Contested
Roll of your Courtier / Awareness versus against an opponent’s
Etiquette (Courtesy) / Awareness. If you win the roll, you have
shaken his resolve by reminding him of his past failings. The
opponent subtracts a penalty equal to your Awareness plus
the opponent’s own Honor Rank from the total of his attack
and Contested Social Skill Rolls against you for a number of
hours equal to your School Rank. This Technique does not work
against those who possess no Honor Rank (animals, oni, etc).
The Ikoma Lion’s Shadow are a small and extremely secretive group within the Ikoma family who remember exactly
who and what Ikoma was, and they celebrate his memory.
They consider themselves extremely practical individuals who
exist as a sort of foil to the dire machinations exercised by
the Scorpion and other unsavory individuals. Although they
frequently are called upon to sacrifice their honor for the
sake of their clan, they do so willingly and without regret,
and almost always with the greater Lion Clan remaining
completely ignorant of their activities.
Rank Five: Ferocious Determination
Although many modern Ikoma no longer recall it, or have
chosen to forget, the first Ikoma was not a particularly honorable man. He served his lord Akodo with great distinction and
loyalty, but the means by which he executed his duties are
frequently omitted from any historical record. Most Ikoma
do not consider this an issue, but there are some among them
who understand this omission is a means of protecting the
family’s honor, as the first Ikoma was a ruthless, pragmatic
individual who would gleefully embrace dishonorable tactics
as a necessary means of completing his duties.
Although their principle battleground is that of the court,
those who bear the name Lion’s Shadow are sons of Ikoma
first and foremost, and carry the ferocity of their ancestor
within their veins. You may make melee weapon attacks as a
Simple Action instead of a Complex Action.
The Bon Festival
Aside from a few special cases like the Imperial line and the major clan and family founders, most ancestral veneration takes place in the home. However,
there is one noteworthy exception: the Bon Festival. Performed on the 28th Day of the Month of the Dog, the Bon Festival is dedicated to honor the dead
of the last year, and aside from a few special cases (like the city of Ryoko Owari) is celebrated in a fairly uniform fashion by all clans.
During the Bon Festival, extended families will gather at their primary holding, where a special altar is erected with a spirit tablet that represents the
ancestors of the entire extended family. After dark, each member of the family bears colored paper lanterns to the sites where the ashes of their ancestors
are interred. Similar lanterns are placed outside the house and all over the town to guide the worshippers on their way. A ceremonial meal is presented to
the ancestors at their grave, and the local shugenja and monks travel about performing a slow ceremonial festival dance at each local house. At the close
of the evening, additional paper lanterns are placed on small boats in the nearest lake or river—one for each family member who has died within the last
year. This is believed to help guide the spirits to the afterlife, ensuring they do not become angry ghosts.
vice and continued guidance. Afterward the family and
friends gather to eat and celebrate, in a manner befitting
the clan—among the Lion, these celebrations are always
quite dignified, since not even an Ikoma will dishonor the
departed with drunken revelry.
The Hall of Ancestors seems, outwardly, to be not only
regal but deathly silent, tended by quiet and pious Kitsu.
However, those Lion who visit the Halls claim the place
is anything but silent; they say the Halls echo constantly
with the song of their ancestors, speaking to them from
The Beastmasters are a military tradition unique to the
Lion, hailing from the earliest days of the clan at the end
of the First War. The newly-emerged Kitsu family had
an instinctive empathy for the fierce predator cats who
roamed the central Lion plains, and several members of
the family were able to form bonds with the great cats and
fight alongside them in battle. With the passage of time,
the early instinctive Beastmasters developed a training
regimen to pass on their talents to the clan as a whole. The
Lion Clan has maintained the school ever since, but nurtures it largely in private, allowing the Beastmasters free
reign only during times of major war or crisis. After all,
the rest of the Empire is likely to look more than slightly
askance at a military tradition that involves forming an
empathic bond with dangerous predator animals.
In modern times, the Beastmasters are primarily Matsu
and the school is maintained under the auspices of that
family. However, they are far from its only students. The
number of samurai who are suitable as Beastmasters is
small, and the training is long and arduous, performed
through private tutelage by senior Beastmasters rather
than in the formal structure of a dojo. Beastmasters are
not trained so much as they are born and nurtured. Potential recruits are selected in childhood for their natural
spark and affinity for animals, a talent easily recognized
by those who already possess it. Only those who have the
gift can avoid dangerous false steps that can easily cost
the life of students and animals alike.
THE LION CLAN
Of course, the most famous example of the Lion Clan’s
special veneration of its bloodlines is found in the great
temple known as the Hall of Ancestors. This huge complex is the single most sacred site in the Lion lands, and
is traditionally administered and defended by the second
child of the current Matsu family daimyo; if that is not
possible, the duty is assigned to a hand-selected individual
of the utmost honor and purity of character. The Hall is the
final resting place for the urns housing the actual bones
and ashes of hundreds of the Lion Clan’s greatest heroes.
Statues in the likeness of these heroes, depicting their most
noble characteristics, are erected before each of these urns.
For those heroes whose bodies were not recovered (such as
Lady Matsu), a statue is still erected and an empty urn is
placed to honor their deeds. Most heroes are also remembered with placards listing their name, lineage, birth and
death, and deeds of worth and note.
It may also be noted that the Lion are far less likely to
allow the worship of their ancestors to fade with time. The
Lion take special care to celebrate the first, fifth, tenth,
fiftieth, and hundredth anniversaries of every major Lion
samurai’s death, relying on special calendars kept meticulously by members of the Ikoma and Kitsu families
working in tandem. In addition, every Lion family keeps
meticulous records of its own bloodline, often all the way
back to the clan founders. While most samurai households
contain no more than one or two spirit tablets, Lion houses will maintain shrines devoted to their entire ancestry.
In a wealthy house each former head of the family has a
separate spirit tablet within its own shrine, while smaller
or humbler households will prepare temporary ‘stand-in’
tablets for the veneration of each noteworthy ancestor in
their line. This can result in a Lion being forced to set aside
his duties many times each year in order to pay respect to
various ancestors, but given the importance of ancestral
veneration in Lion culture this is never considered a dereliction of duty.
Yomi. Lion come here regularly not only to show piety but
also to seek the wisdom of those who have gone before
for important choices in their lives. Very few Lion do not
visit the Halls at least once, but only a handful of nonLion have ever been permitted to visit. Usually this is due
to Lion ancestry or Imperial blood, and such visitors are
always accompanied by a careful guard of honor.
Beastmasters live among the half-tamed warcats who
are their charges, and form their own pride of lions by
raising cubs from infancy, imprinting them with loyalty
and devotion. They are notorious for having a wild and
uncivilized nature, and even the brash Matsu are wary of
allowing Beastmasters into civilized venues such as court.
THE LION CLAN
The Beastmaster units, called prides, can sometimes be
quite troublesome for opposing commanders, since their
unique nature makes them a source of both mystery and
frequent surprise. The number of generals who have faced
the Beastmasters successfully is, in fact, quite few. None
of Sun Tao’s writings go into detail on their unique nature,
and most tacticians and strategists do not consider their
plans with quarter-ton fanged beasts in mind. Only the
Crab, with their long and bitter experience fighting the
monsters of the Shadowlands, can claim to be accustomed
to facing this sort of opponent. Moreover, there are no
consistent banners to designate Beastmaster units, so they
are often a nasty surprise to those who meet them. That
being said, it is fairly rare for Beastmaster prides to serve
as frontal attack units. Trained warcats are few in number
even in the best of times, and their specialization is not in
shattering enemy formations. Rather, they serve as reserve
units, used for armed reconnaissance, raids against enemy
rear areas, sundering an already weakened enemy position, or defending the reserves against enemy raids—even
the boldest Crane, Unicorn, or Scorpion scout will hesitate
to attack a supply train guarded by ferocious predators
who weigh twice as much as a man.
The following section contains new Lion Clan mechanical options for the Legend of the Five Rings role-playing
game. GMs and players can use as many or as few of these
mechanics as desired to add more depth and variety to
HEARTLESS (4 POINTS) [MENTAL]
You have a heart of stone. Attempts to woo you or sway
your heart—whether through love, courtesy, compassion,
or mercy—fall on deaf ears. You gain a +1k0 bonus to rolls
made to resist any Courtier, Sincerity, or Temptation roll
made for the purpose of persuading you, seducing you, or
otherwise changing your mind.
NEW BASIC SCHOOL:
THE MATSU BEASTMASTERS
The Beastmaster organization is completely unique in its
approach to war and to animals. Many other clans train
animals for combat, but the Matsu Beastmasters take a
personal approach to each beast. The lion is a savage crea-
ture that fights as part of a group called a pride. The Beastmaster adopts lion warcats into his own pride, bonding
emotionally and spiritually to each warcat that charges
into battle beside him. The Beastmaster treats his warcats
as equals, fostering a sense of family and belonging.
The communication between Beastmaster and warcat
borders on the mystical. Once a warcat has trained with
her Beastmaster, she can sense what he wants without any
words or gestures. However, this intense empathy between
human and predatory animal can sometimes hinder the
Beastmaster’s social abilities among humans. Most Beastmasters tend to stay amongst their own kind rather than
share the company of “normal” samurai. Some Lion generals have raised concerns the Beastmasters may become
too feral, to which the Beastmasters retort that they are
still Matsu above all. Only the Matsu, they say, are strong
and proud enough to maintain their hold on Bushido and
human traditions under such pressures.
NEW BASIC SCHOOL:
MATSU BEASTMASTERS [BUSHI]
You have trained in the highly secretive dojo of the Matsu Beastmasters and have forged a bond with one of the
legendary Lion warcats. The lion will accompany you
wherever you go and follows basic commands without question. No lion
will ever attack you without being compelled to do so in some
way. You may direct one of
your warcats to Attack as
a Complex Action. Any
one warcat who is not
attacking will use the
Guard Action to protect
HEART OF THE BEAST
Your training with the warcats has
increased your physical abilities as
well as your mental bond with your lions. An additional lion joins your pride.
You and your companion lions gain the creature trait of Swift 2 (as described in the L5R 4th
Edition core rules, page 320), and all of your lions
gain an additional Wound Rank that changes the end
of their progression from a normal lion’s to: 36: +15, 60:
The GM should decide exactly what tests are appropriate to replace lost lions, but time with the new
beast and several Animal Handling rolls should be
RANK THREE: THE FEROCITY WITHIN
You strike as fiercely as the lions with whom you have
trained. When wielding a katana, wakizashi, magari-yari,
nage-yari, or any knife, or when fighting unarmed, you
may make melee attacks as a Simple Action. Additionally,
you may direct one of your warcats to Attack as a Simple
THE LION CLAN
RANK ONE: ONE WITH THE PRIDE
The Beastmaster constantly puts his beloved animals
in harm’s way. The death of a warcat is a sad occasion
and one that occurs with more frequency than any
Beastmaster would like. The Beastmasters constantly
maintain a pool of young lions for such occasions, allowing fallen beasts to be replaced after only a few
months of training and bonding with a new warcat.
Benefit: +1 Agility
Skills: Animal Handling 2, Battle, Defense, Iaijutsu, Kenjutsu, any one Bugei Skill
Outfit: Light Armor, Sturdy Clothing, Daisho, any
1 weapon, Traveling Pack, 4 koku
Death of a Cat
THE LION CLAN
RANK FOUR: ALL AS ONE
RANK FIVE: WITH THE SOUL OF A LION
The fury of the beastmaster and his pride is a whispered legend among your clan’s enemies, and for good reason. Members of your pride may make two claw attacks per Round
instead of the normal one. You and all members of your pride
gain a bonus of +2k1 on all damage rolls made when fighting alongside one another. Finally, when you direct a warcat
to Attack (a Complex Action for lions), the warcat may also
make a Simple Move Action during the same Round.
United by your leadership and companionship, your pride
has become fearsome indeed. An additional lion joins your
pride. All of your warcats gain +10 Armor TN, +2 Reduction, and +2 Fear.
A unique weapon crafted only among the Matsu
Beastmasters, the Beastmaster’s Claws is a small bar
of metal that fits within a closed fist. Small flat metal rods extend from this bar between the fingers of
the Beastmaster’s clenched fist, each ending in small
curved blades that resemble a lion’s claws. This allows
a Beastmaster to fight in a manner similar to his pride.
The weapon is considered a Knife for rules purposes
and has the Small property, with a DR of 0k2.
This weapon is considered highly unconventional
by the Empire as a whole, and is not seen outside
the ranks of the Beastmasters (even within the Lion
Clan). Anyone outside of the Lion Clan using the
weapon loses one point of Honor per skirmish for doing so, as well as probably giving grave insult to any
Lion who witnesses its use.
NEW ADVANCED SCHOOL:
AKODO TACTICAL MASTER
“An army led by an Akodo general has never lost
So it is often said in courts across the Emerald Empire
and even in the battle tents of the Lion’s fiercest enemies.
While the statement is not completely factual, the sentiment behind it is undeniable. The Akodo Tactical Masters are the greatest strategists of Rokugan, second to no
others. Only a truly unique commander with a powerful
destiny can challenge the Tactical Master in his own realm
and hope to compete.
The Akodo Tactical Master studies every notable battle in Rokugani history. He examines how the Lion have
handled every situation—and just as importantly, how the
enemy attempted to find weakness in the Lion Clan’s traditional plans. He learns to adapt, react, and change his
battle plans to meet every eventuality. Even knowledge
from outside Rokugan’s borders is not wholly anathema
to him, since he can use such intelligence to plan against
future incursions from the hateful foreigner.