Three Feet from Death
Founded by a man of incredible devotion and selﬂessness, the Phoenix Clan is widely regarded as having the greatest shugenja of the Empire, and for good reason. The number of shugenja in their ranks is more than double that of any other clan, and their shugenja also generally possess a greater understanding of the Elements and how the kami can be invoked. The Phoenix are a clan of brilliant scholars and peaceful priests, many of whom command incredible power at their ﬁngertips. Fortunately, this power is tempered by a devotion to non-violence that, while not absolute, is nevertheless extremely prevalent throughout their ranks. The Phoenix try to maintain a political presence in major courts throughout the Empire, using that presence to campaign strongly for peace and moderation between the more hot-headed clans. Given that their duty to the Emperor is to study and teach the inner secrets of the Tao of Shinsei, this is well within their duties, and while many clans resent their interference, they are rarely viliﬁed for it.
As the Lion are devoted to the tenets of Bushido, so are the Phoenix devoted to the Tao of Shinsei. Even the bushi among their ranks study the text, far more so than is traditional for bushi of other families and clans. Some would say that many in the clan miss the point of it, but few would do so within earshot of a Phoenix, for their centuries-long study of the Tao has enabled them to glean many secrets of the universe, enhancing their incredible potency as shugenja. There is a dichotomy among the various families, however; the Isawa tend to embrace the peaceful philosophies of the Tao because it is part and parcel of the teachings of Shinsei, and as such is proper for their duty as priests and scholars. Other families, particularly the Asako, are more devoted to the principle of the texts, embracing them for their truths. The tenet of Bushido that appeals most to the Phoenix is Honesty, as they wish to avoid staining their souls with deception and lies.
Many clans look upon the Phoenix as arrogant and overly assured of their own abilities, but most would grudgingly admit they are exceptionally gifted as shugenja. Uniquely among the clans, the Phoenix eschew violence at every possible turn, seldom employing it even as a last resort. This is not uncommon among shugenja in the Empire, but even many of the clan’s bushi subscribe to this theory.
The Phoenix Clan was founded by the most selﬂess of the Kami, Shiba. Unlike the other Kami, Shiba understood he was creating not a legacy but something larger than himself. In order to enlist the aid of the powerful Tribe of Isawa in ﬁghting the hordes of Fu Leng, Shiba bowed before Isawa and promised that he and his line would protect the Isawa for all time. Even today, while the Shiba technically rule the Phoenix as Clan Champions, the true power in the clan lies with the scholarly Isawa, the largest and most powerful shugenja family in the Empire. The ﬁve most powerful members of the Isawa rule as the Council of Elemental Masters. The Shiba are their loyal yojimbo, defending them and the clan as a whole. The introspective Asako family adheres to monastic traditions, as well as maintaining an order of inquisitors who ensure the Phoenix do not meddle too deeply in matters of darkness, an unpleasant occurrence that has happened more than once through the clan’s history. Finally, the Agasha provide radically different theories of magic, exploring such things as alchemy and invoking multiple Elements simultaneously. The Agasha previously served the Dragon, but left during a tumultuous period during the clan’s history and were accepted into the Phoenix.
The Phoenix control the northeastern region of Rokugan, including a portion of the Great Wall of the North Mountains, a section of coastline, and one of the largest forests in the Empire, the Isawa Mori. Their croplands are fertile, but tend to have longer and harsher winters than many locations in the Empire, which reduces their ability to produce food. Fortunately the coastline offers a rich bounty of seafood. The Shiba family has a strong artisan tradition, so goods of that nature are exported in small quantities. A unique commodity the Phoenix possess is the wood harvested from the Isawa Mori, which is of exceptional quality for the creation of the scrolls used by shugenja. The Phoenix are extremely careful in how much of this they export, however, harvesting it in small amounts and using the majority of that themselves.
With regard to the subject of shugenja, the consensus of an entire Empire is that the Phoenix possess both the largest number of shugenja and the most powerful of them. The descendants of the Tribe of Isawa and those who have sworn allegiance to them command mystical power unlike anything seen in the other Clans, and the followers of the Kami Shiba have sworn to protect them for all time, no matter the cost.
THE AGASHA FAMILY: +1 PERCEPTION
Once a family of the Dragon Clan, the Agasha abandoned their Togashi masters when they felt the Dragon abandoned their duties to the Empire. The Phoenix have proven much more amenable to their unique brand of magic. The Agasha are highly experimental and curious, always pushing the boundaries of what is known and what can be safely attempted when dealing with magic.
THE ASAKO FAMILY: +1 AWARENESS
The quiet, reclusive Asako are a very monastic family, living scholarly and ascetic lives more beﬁtting the Brotherhood of Shinsei than a family of samurai. They comprise the majority of the Phoenix Clan’s courtiers, and the entirety of the mysterious Henshin monks. Asako are contemplative and inquisitive, but generally without ambition other than to serve and learn.
THE ISAWA FAMILY: +1 WILLPOWER
The Isawa truly rule the Phoenix Clan, despite the presence of a Shiba Clan Champion. They are unquestionably the most knowledgeable, most powerful, and most numerous shugenja family in the Empire. Unfortunately, this has made them arrogant as well, and many Isawa constantly struggle against their own shortcomings.
THE SHIBA FAMILY: +1 PERCEPTION
The Shiba are among the most scholarly and least aggressive of all bushi families. They serve the Clan and the Isawa without complaint or consideration for themselves. Although they prefer peace and compassion, the Shiba will not retreat from a battle once the Phoenix have committed themselves to an engagement.
The Phoenix’s view of other clans
- CRAB: An existence that consists solely of war erodes the soul. If they would but embrace the wisdom of the Tao, it would change everything.
- CRANE: Like us, they avoid war at all costs, but all too often they allow petty politics to influence their decisions. Our honored cousins have a path yet to walk.
- DRAGON: Our closest allies share much of our devotion, although their methods are strange. Too much emphasis on finding a different path means the true way is lost.
- LION: Why must there always be war? We all exist under a mandate of peace, yet that is the one Imperial decree the Lion seem to conveniently forget.
- MANTIS: Upstarts and braggarts. There is no place in a civilized Empire for those who do not comprehend the natural order of things. That the shugenja among their ranks are of such power is an anomaly, nothing more.
- SCORPION: Nothing can be accomplished with such ridiculous deceptions. They fool themselves with their shadow games, but they amount to nothing in the long run.
- UNICORN: They are uncouth and distasteful, but they understand many foreign forms of magic that should be carefully studied. Treat them with respect and perhaps they will share the invaluable knowledge they possess.
- MINOR CLANS: Of little significance, but for this very reason, deserving of our protection so long as they recognize their humble place. The abuse they have often suffered at the hands of more arrogant and militaristic Great Clans is shameful. Is it not always the duty of samurai to care for those less powerful?
Carman, S., Hobart, R., Pinto, J & Yoon, B.(2010). Legend of the five rings: 4th edition roleplaying game. Ontario, California:Alderac Entertainment Group.