Three Feet from Death
In any gathering of samurai, it is all too easy to pick out a Crab from the members of the other clans. Crab Clan samurai are larger and more powerful than those of virtually any other family or clan in the Empire, and unfortunately, are often ruder, less diplomatic, and less reﬁ ned than others as well. This is not necessarily a deliberate act on the part of the Crab; they simply have radically different priorities than the rest of the Empire. Since the founding of Rokugan, the Crab have stood guard in the south, protecting the Empire from the demons and monstrosities that dwell within the blighted region known as the Shadowlands. While other clans have enjoyed peace and serenity for centuries at a time, the Crab know only war, day in and day out, year upon year. While they certainly do not begrudge their duties, they do tend to resent those more sophisticated and effete samurai who mock the Crab while beneﬁ ting from the protection they afford.
Duty is by far the tenet of Bushido the Crab value the most, rivaled only by Courage. Perhaps because of the duties they fulﬁll, the Crab care very little for social niceties, preferring blunt honesty and practicality to polite conversation. They believe that strength grants the right to rule, and they resent the fact that clans they perceive as weaker, especially the Crane and Scorpion, tend to enjoy more wealth and comforts than they do. The Crab embrace their duty to the Empire, however, because their lord and founder Hida was defeated by Hantei at the dawn of the Empire, proving Hantei to be stronger. For this reason alone, the Crab serve the Emperor faithfully. In times of weak rule, however, some among them have been sorely tempted to wonder why a Crab upon the throne might not be a more reasonable solution for the Empire as a whole.
The Crab were founded by Hida, the largest and most physically powerful of the children of the Sun and Moon. Although not a dullard by any means, Hida was nevertheless generally unconcerned with studying things such as religion or philosophy. He gathered together only the most powerful and fearsome warriors to bear his name, and the Hida family has been acknowledged, grudgingly in some cases, as among the greatest warriors of the Empire for centuries. The Hida have ruled the Crab Clan well for a thousand years, not only by excelling at the war which is the clan’s birthright, but also by understanding the importance of delegating duties to gifted subordinates, which the Hida are fortunate to have in abundance.
The ranks of the Crab are not limited to the Hida family. The Hiruma, the oldest servants of the Hida, are gifted scouts and yojimbo, emphasizing speed and athleticism over the Hida’s strength. The Kaiu are brilliant engineers and tacticians, and advise their lords on all matters related to warfare. The much-maligned Kuni have sacriﬁ ced much to understand the enemies the Crab face, and these shugenja are frequently accused of terrible acts by other families within the Empire. The wily Yasuki, who joined the clan after the First Yasuki War, are vastly different from the rest of the Crab, and are both exceptional merchants and extremely manipulative politicians, serving the clan in the courts. The Toritaka family, part of the Crab for less than a century, are well-versed in the spirits and undead that can slip past the Great Carpenter Wall, and assist in hunting down those who have escaped the Crab’s notice.
The Crab lands are largely mountainous, with some small degree of open land in the northern foothills and scattered among the peaks of their various mountain ranges, notably the Twilight Mountains and the Wall Above the Ocean Mountains. A portion of their lands, primarily those of the Kuni and Hiruma, have suffered terribly from previous assaults by the Shadowlands, and are almost completely barren. As a result, the Crab are forced to import a great deal of their food. Fortunately, the mountains are rich in ore, giving them ample supplies for trade.
The stalwart Crab are the defenders of Rokugan, responsible for ensuring the Empire’s southern border is secure against the demons from the Shadowlands. Centuries of constant warfare against inhuman foes have hardened the Crab into tremendously powerful and brutally practical warriors, but they have little sense of civility or manners. As a result they are often considered crude and barbaric by the other clans.
THE HIDA FAMILY: +1 STRENGTH
The descendants of the Kami Hida are among the largest and most powerful samurai in all the Empire. The burden of defending the Empire falls upon them, and they are both incredible warriors and skilled defensive tacticians. Hida samurai often resent the other Clans for enjoying their protection even as they mock the Crab for their mannerisms.
THE HIRUMA FAMILY: +1 AGILITY
Silent and deadly, the Hiruma are the scouts and yojimbo of the Crab. They are as agile and graceful as the Hida are powerful, and warriors from the two families tend to complement one another very well. Hiruma samurai often have the unsavory duty of scouting the Shadowlands for enemies, a task that leads many to death or ruination.
THE KAIU FAMILY: +1 INTELLIGENCE
The industrious Kaiu are responsible for the most impressive and long-standing feats of engineering in all the Empire. They are the siege engineers and architects of the Crab Clan, and are responsible for maintaining the Great Carpenter Wall as well as its defenses.
THE KUNI FAMILY: +1 INTELLIGENCE
Sinister in appearance and deed, the Kuni are among the most feared shugenja families in the Empire. Long ago, the family’s leadership determined the only hope of defeating the Shadowlands lay in understanding it, and so the Kuni possess knowledge of things that would drive most men mad.
THE TORITAKA FAMILY: +1 PERCEPTION
The tiny Toritaka family was once known as the Falcon Clan before tragedy threatened to destroy the Minor Clan completely. It was absorbed by the Crab to prevent a threat from growing within its ranks. The Toritaka hail from a region frequented by spirits, and they are highly knowledgeable about ghosts and spirits of all different sorts.
THE YASUKI FAMILY: +1 AWARENESS
Strangely at odds with the other Crab families, the Yasuki are slight of build and devious of mind. They were once part of the Crane Clan, but joined the Crab in the third century, provoking the ﬁ rst great internal war in Rokugani history. They are merchants and courtiers, always looking for any means to gain an advantage for their Clan, and tend to be more concerned with monetary gain than is considered respectable for someone of the samurai caste.
The Crab’s view of other clans
- CRANE: Pathetic, weak socialites with scarcely a warrior among them. They belittle us? Put them on the Wall for a week and see how many are left alive. They will beg for our protection then.
- DRAGON: Their ways are strange and nonsensical. They seem to be capable warriors when their hand is forced, but why do they wait so long to enter the battle? Perhaps they are cowards.
- LION: They alone understand what it means to wage war, but even they have no appreciation for what it is we do each day. Perhaps one day we can be true brothers, but until they gain perspective, they are to be respected but not feared.
- MANTIS: Our distant cousins are brave enough, but so intent on proving themselves that they behave foolishly. Wealth and daring do not earn respect, little brothers.
- PHOENIX: Pacifism has no place among samurai. We are called to make war, and to weep over the deaths of your enemies is weakness.
- SCORPION: There is no one more useless than a Scorpion! All the weaknesses of the Crane, plus their pointless love of deception and lies. They are so convinced of themselves that they think they are invulnerable. We will see about that, perhaps soon.
- UNICORN: Our closest allies, they understand what it means to be ostracized because they do not care for the peculiar rules and fashions that command the day in other courts. They are strange, yes, but they are our brothers in arms.
- MINOR CLANS: They understand what it means to struggle to survive every day, even if they command no resources to speak of. We treat them kindly, but ultimately they are of little consequence.
Carman, S., Hobart, R., Pinto, J & Yoon, B.(2010). Legend of the five rings: 4th edition roleplaying game. Ontario, California:Alderac Entertainment Group.