Three Feet from Death
If there is an individual of importance anywhere in the Empire, then it may be safely assumed he has a close friend, advisor, or perhaps a bride that is a Crane. This is how the Crane maintain their ruthless grip on the social and political world of Rokugan: they make themselves indispensable to all others who wield power. It is an act that comes naturally to the Crane, as they are the followers and descendants of the Lady Doji, said by many to be the ﬁ rst Hantei’s most beloved sibling, and the Kami responsible for creating the social and political institutions of Rokugan’s courts and society. As a result, the Crane have a perfect understanding of every nuance and facet of politics. Because they have such exceptional command over the courts, their duty to the Emperor is to maintain the Empire’s social harmony, to ensure Rokugan always has art and beauty and civilization, a task that has earned the clan the appellation Left Hand of the Emperor.
Because of the duties they perform for the Empire, the Crane have vastly more courtiers and artisans among their ranks than any other clan. Even those among their ranks who eschew politics and diplomacy, their dedicated warriors and pious priests, are generally impeccable in appearance and demeanor. This is simply a facet of the clan’s emphasis on their eternal duty. Those who are not speciﬁ cally called upon to fulﬁ ll it are still trained not to violate it in any way. The unfortunate side effect of this emphasis is that there are many among the Crane who are guilty of arrogance and condescension toward other clans. Over the years this has gained the clan many enemies, and the dominance in court they usually enjoy has probably been the only thing that has prevented their enemies from destroying them. On a more personal level, individual Crane often ﬁnd themselves the target of others’ animosity in court. Fortunately, the clan’s bushi school produces the Empire’s greatest masters of iaijutsu, the formal dueling system used to resolve disputes, ensuring that those who challenge the Crane in court are frequently proven in the wrong. It comes as no surprise that the most valued tenet of Bushido to the Crane is Courtesy, since is it both their weapon of choice and their preferred defense against their foes.
Lady Doji was a woman of incredible beauty, grace, and foresight, and correctly anticipated many of the difﬁ culties her clan would face as a result of their duties for the Emperor. As a result, she was careful to recruit followers who would be able to deal with such shortcomings, and the ruling Doji family that bears her name continues her tradition of careful planning and accurate assessment. The Kakita, who bear her husband’s name, traditionally excel as both the Empire’s ﬁ nest duelists and as artisans. The Daidoji, the name granted to one of Lady Doji’s younger sons after his incredible feat of heroism in recovering the lost sword of his older sister from the Shadowlands, are least like the Crane ideal, but are stalwart warriors and yojimbo who defend the Doji against all threats, as their name (“Defender of Doji”) signiﬁ es. The Asahina family joined the clan centuries after its founding, after a renegade Phoenix Master of Fire married into the clan in amends for his rampage in their lands. Early in the clan’s history, they were served by the wily Yasuki as well, but that family defected to the Crab Clan in the fourth century, contributing to the endless hard feelings between the two clans.
The lands controlled by the Crane are some of the most extensive and productive of any clan’s, again owing to their close relationship with the Emperor. Virtually every resource required is produced within the Crane lands, save for some of the more uncommon ores and minerals, and they trade well with other clans. It is no wonder that the Crane are among the wealthiest of clans, and have the most well-attended courts, given the beauty and rich resources of their home provinces.
Known for centuries as the Left Hand of the Emperor, the Crane Clan is responsible for maintaining the balance and integrity of the Empire’s courts and of Rokugani society in general. As such, the Crane excel at diplomacy and politics, and are widely regarded as the unquestioned masters of the courts, with all the resentment from others that title entails.
THE ASAHINA FAMILY: +1 INTELLIGENCE
Quiet and serene, the Asahina are among the most monastic of all samurai families. They are also perhaps the most paciﬁ stic, even more so than the Phoenix Clan, and abhor violence, seeking other means of resolving disputes at all costs. The Asahina are also known for their devotion to philosophy and the arts.
THE DAIDOJI FAMILY: +1 STAMINA
The so-called Iron Crane are the strong arm of the Crane Clan and the enforcers of the Doji and Kakita’s will. They do not employ grace and style as their kinsmen do, but instead focus on sheer strength of arms and employ tactics that some might consider ruthless or even dishonorable. Daidoji means “defenders of Doji,” and it is a name the family has earned.
THE DOJI FAMILY: +1 AWARENESS
Lords of the Crane Clan, the Doji are the unquestioned masters of culture and politics in the Empire. It is a testament to the Doji’s cunning and inﬂ uence that the Clan has endured for a thousand years despite being beset by larger, more militant Clans who ﬁ nd the Crane’s dominance of the courts endlessly antagonistic.
THE KAKITA FAMILY: +1 AGILITY
Literal cousins of the Doji, the Kakita family was created by the children of Lady Doji and her husband Kakita during the dawn of the Empire. The Kakita believe in excelling at one’s chosen task, whether that task is making war or creating the most glorious pieces of art. Like other Crane families, the Kakita are also well known for their physical beauty.
The Crane’s view of other Clans
- CRAB: Brutish oafs who think the rules of polite society should not apply to them simply because they do what they do. They could no more survive without us than we could without them, but they fail to see it.
- DRAGON: Strange people who prefer to stay hidden in the mountains and contemplate the universe. By all means, please feel free to remain there.
- LION: They have the temperament of angry children and the flexibility of a stone sculpture. The world does not exist in the ridiculously narrow view they hold, and they resent anyone strong enough to tell them so.
- MANTIS: They are ostentatious beyond all belief, but willing to undertake all manner of unsavory tasks for pay. They are useful and convenient allies!
- PHOENIX: Perhaps our closest allies, they at least understand the benefit of a structured and orderly society. Their insistence that all clans should cooperate with one another is useful as well, if a bit naive.
- SCORPION: Deceitful, manipulative cretins who will stoop to the lowest means to accomplish what they wish. They are what we would become if we forgot our honor and dignity.
- UNICORN: They remain grateful for our assistance in re-establishing them once they returned to the Empire. They are peculiar and ignorant in many ways, but can be quite helpful in certain circumstances.
- MINOR CLANS: Those descended from our own ranks deserve our consideration, but the rest are of little use in the grand scheme of things.
Carman, S., Hobart, R., Pinto, J & Yoon, B.(2010). Legend of the five rings: 4th edition roleplaying game. Ontario, California:Alderac Entertainment Group.