Three Feet from Death
There is no greater military power in Rokugan, perhaps the world, than the unleashed might of the Lion Clan. Even at the dawn of the Empire, the first Emperor recognized the nascent Lion would become powerful, perhaps beyond any other clan, and tasked them with becoming the Right Hand of the Emperor, the defenders of the throne and the Empire as a whole. It is a role the Lion relish, and would never surrender unless they were first wiped from the face of the world. It is not outside the realm of possibility that an Emperor could remove that duty from the Lion, but doing so would invite the possibility that the clan would revolt or, vastly more likely, that huge numbers of them would commit seppuku in shame. Fortunately, every Emperor in history has recognized the benefit of having a completely loyal army at his command, and the duty of the Lion has remained unaltered since the time of the first Hantei.
The unifying philosophy of the Lion Clan is unwavering, unflinching devotion to honor, the code of Bushido, and the contents of Akodo’s treatise on tactics and the military, Leadership. Lion samurai revere all tenets of Bushido, although some of them may overlook Courtesy and Compassion when it suits them. One tenet that is never permitted to lapse, however, is Honor, which governs the lives of all Lion. So great is their devotion that any Lion who shames himself beyond redemption enters a unique sect of warriors called the Deathseekers. The only purpose a Deathseeker has is to give his life in glorious battle for the clan, hoping that in doing so he has redeemed his shame. Ultimately, the Lion consider themselves the measure by which the honor of other clans should be judged, and they tend to find others wanting. This arrogance has earned the clan many enemies, but few who dare raise steel against them for fear of the enormity of Lion retribution.
The Kami Akodo, later known as Akodo One-Eye due to injuries suffered during the First War, was by far the most militant of the children of the Sun and Moon. He was narrowly defeated by Hantei to determine which would become Emperor, and swore his undying loyalty to the first Hantei. His tactical brilliance, his unflinching sense of honor, and his unfailing ability to see the true worth in others allowed him to create a formidable family bearing his name, one that would develop a reputation for being impossible to defeat on the field of battle. His subordinates and the families that took their names were likewise formidable: the Matsu have all the ferocity and martial prowess of their founder, the Ikoma all the wisdom and versatility of the first Ikoma, and the Kitsu the incredible spiritual perceptions of the mysterious creatures who married Akodo’s daughters to create that family.
The Lion control a vast region of plains between the Dragon Mountains and the Spine of the World Mountains, the majority of which is quite fertile. This is extremely fortunate for the clan, as its enormous military requires an astonishing amount of food to maintain, so much so that the clan frequently has to trade for additional supplies. During times of heavy war, however, the clan’s complete commitment to battle ensures heavy casualties, which in turn allow their lands some time to recover from their constant state of depletion. Because the Lion provinces border the Spine of the World Mountains, and because there are precious few woodlands within their borders, they tend to use more stone in their architecture than wood, and any significant construction undertaking requires additional importing of wood. Fortunately, their lands are also home to many rich veins of copper, which is useful in a number of ways throughout the Empire, so the Lion rarely want for trading partners.
The Lion Clan is the Right Hand of the Emperor, the defender of his lands and his person, although many times the Seppun family and the Imperial Legions are allowed to stand as poor substitutes (or so the Lion believe). The Lion are militant to a fault and possess the greatest army in the known world. They are feared for their prowess and respected for their unflinchingly honorable natures.
THE AKODO FAMILY: +1 AGILITY
The lords of the Lion Clan, the Akodo are the unquestioned masters of battle throughout the Empire. It is said that no army led by an Akodo has ever known defeat, and while this is something of an exaggeration, it is not all that far from the truth. Akodo samurai tend to be calm and analytical, and often lack the fiery nature for which the Lion are so well known.
THE IKOMA FAMILY: +1 AWARENESS
The voice of the Lion Clan, the Ikoma speak on behalf of the Clan in court and in the annals of history. The family provides not only the majority of the clan’s courtiers, but virtually all of its historians and storytellers as well, studies that the Clan considers extremely important. For every stoic Lion who refuses to allow emotion to affect him, there is an Ikoma bard who weeps openly when he tells the samurai’s story to others.
THE KITSU FAMILY: +1 INTELLIGENCE
Quiet and reserved, the Kitsu are the most traditional and conservative, some might say old-fashioned, shugenja family in the Empire. Descended from the union of men and the ancient kitsu creatures that were driven nearly to extinction by the Lion during the dawn of the Empire, the Kitsu possess several bloodlines with strange, otherworldly abilities, such as the ability to walk between the mortal world and the spirit realms.
THE MATSU FAMILY: +1 STRENGTH
The Matsu are the largest family in the Empire, and they are the reason for the image many have of the vast legions of the Lion Clan. They are also the source of the tempestuous stereotype for the Lion, and it is largely correct; the Matsu are fiery in nature, quick to anger, and eager for battle at all times. They were founded by a female warrior, Matsu, and have a famous all-female military unit, the Lion’s Pride.
The Lion’s view of other clans:
- CRAB: They are formidable, but they conduct themselves strangely and seemingly without thought for their honor. They are to be respected as warriors, but little else.
- CRANE: Cowards and manipulators who face threats with words rather than steel, and who hide behind the Emperor when the time comes to face the consequences of their actions.
- DRAGON: What can be accomplished from hiding in the mountains for centuries at a time? Nothing. They are beneath our notice.
- MANTIS: Bold but presumptuous. When they have achieved one fraction of what a true Great Clan has accomplished, then perhaps we will reassess our view of them. Until then, they are insignificant in every regard.
- PHOENIX: Powerful foes with considerable prowess at manipulating the battlefield, but they squander their abilities with their obsession with peace. Samurai are born for war.
- SCORPION: They are all that we despise about the Crane, but worse. Their blatant disregard for honor is an offense that cannot be borne. Why they have not been destroyed by the Emperor after a thousand years, we will never understand.
- UNICORN: Their ways are strange, and therefore inferior, but they conduct themselves with honor and speak the truth in all instances. For that, and for the might of their cavalry, they are to be respected.
- MINOR CLANS: The Minor Clans exist only through the generosity of the Emperor and the mercy of the Great Clans. They should always remember this.
Carman, S., Hobart, R., Pinto, J & Yoon, B.(2010). Legend of the five rings: 4th edition roleplaying game. Ontario, California:Alderac Entertainment Group.