5e Shadowlands Character Creation and “The Lost” rules. V1.1.1

 

Introductory Notes.

Preface

This guide is written with a few intentions in mind. First there are some terminologies that should treat as replacements. Of these you can assume that simple items such as “Bushi, Courtier, etc.” will be replaced with simple terms such as “Destroyer” for a similar design and in all required aspects be replaced as such for other aspects of the game.

 

Gameplay changes

  • When ranking up your “school” gain 1 Maho technique of that rank or lower

 

  • All Weapons / Armor become part of your body if you are not human and are counted as “claws” or a similar aspect to the monster’s body

 

  • While the shadowlands is a wasteland this guide treats gameplay as if it is a monster based society roughly the equivalent of the human realm. Some aspects should be treated as such that “Fu Leng” is the equivalent of the Emperor.

 

 

 

Shadowlands and The Lost

 Character Creator

By Kakita Ren

 

  • Honor, Glory, and Status

The above are the social aspects for a traditional samurai. In this however these social statuses are kept but renamed for something more in line with the world that is being created with this document.

  • Honor = Nature

Honor has been renamed nature. In this scenario, we are looking at monsters. If a samurai’s honor is a measurement of what the ideal is for a samurai then a monster is measured by the stereotype of acting on its wicked nature.

  • Glory = Infamy

Glory has been renamed Infamy. While glory makes your character famous, this is a simple “mirror”. This can be considered at the same time negative numbers from the 0-100 scale of glory.

  • Status = Rank

Status has been renamed Rank. In this case while rank feels to be the equivalent of status in a more uncivilized society. While it is similar in meaning, it is easier to account a monster for being a “High Ranking” in regards to power instead of your job.

 

 

Step 1. Choose your Heritage

The following will generally choose what kind of creature you fall under. Players are to treat some aspects such as goblins to fall under an “oni” or “ghoulish” category depending on how the player wishes to treat their character.

 

Oni:

+1 Earth, +1 Fitness, 30 Rank

 

Yokai:

+1 Air, +1 Culture, 35 Rank

 

Human:

+1 Fire, +1 Meditation, 25 Rank

 

Ghoulish:

+1 Water, +1 Survival, 30 Rank

 

Spirit:

+1 Void, +1 Theology, 30 Rank

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 2. Choose an Attribute

The following will generally choose a narrative basis as to the nature of your powers. From brute strength, to spreading corruption, this should help the player build a concept for how your character is going to behave.

 

Brute:

+1 Earth or Fire, +1 Command, +1 Tactics, 44 Infamy

 

Specter:

+1 Water or +1 Void, +1 Meditation,               +1 Theology, 40 Infamy

 

Corruption:

+1 Void or +1 Earth, +1 Fitness,                    +1 Theology, 45 Infamy

 

Deception:

+1 Fire or +1 Air, +1 Survival, +1 Tactics, 48 Infamy

 

Unholy/Desecrated:

+1 Air or +1 Void, +1 Meditation, +1 Theology, 54 Infamy

Oni Breaker School

Rank 1 Martial Skills Skill group
Command Skill
Survival Skill
Fitness Skill
Rank 1 Kata Tec group
Rushing Avalanche Style Technique
Striking as Fire Technique
Rank 2 Social Skills Skill group
Martial Arts Melee Skill
Tactics Skill
Fitness Skill
Rank 1-2 Shuji Tec group
Flowing Water Strike Technique
Symbol of Earth Technique
Rank 3 Martial Skills Skill group
Command Skill
Survival Skill
Martial Arts Unarmed Skill
Rank 1-3 Kata Tec group
Iron in the Mountains Style Technique
Pillar of Calm Technique
Rank 4 Social Skills Skill group
Fitness Skill
Tactics Skill
Martial Arts Melee Skill
Rank 1-4 Kata Tec group
Striking as Void Technique
Striking as Earth Technique
Rank 5 Martial Skills Skill group
Survival Skill
Tactics Skill
Meditation Skill
Rank 1-5 Kata Tec group
Soul Sunder Technique
Rouse the Soul Technique
Twin Claws (Mastery Ability):

Once per round, when you attack you may spend an (opportunity) to perform a Strike action.

Destroyer (Bushi)

 

 

The Oni Breakers are known for their destructive nature. Many of the most well-known creatures earn the title “Anvil” due to their unstoppable nature. These warriors of the shadowlands fight to destroy the celestial order.

Rings: +1 Earth, +1 Water

Starting Skills (choose 5):          +1 Command, +1 Courtesy, +1 Culture, +1 Fitness, +1 Government, +1 Martial Arts Melee, +1 Tactics

Nature: 50

Techniques Available: Kata, Rituals, Shuji

Starting Techniques: Iron Forest Style, Striking as Water

Way of the Oni (School Ability): Once per round, when another character within range 0-2 attacks, this character may provide assistance on that roll.

Starting Outfit: Lacquered Armor, Katana, Naginata

 

 

Spiritual Enhancer

Corruptor (Shugenja)

Note: All invocations allow the choice of Maho

Rank 1 Artisan Skills Skill group
Courtesy Skill
Culture Skill
Theology Skill
Rank 1 Air Invocations Tec group
Path to Inner Peace Technique
Artisan Appraisal Technique
Rank 2 Scholar Skills Skill group
Aesthetics Skill
Design Skill
Performance Skill
Rank 1-2 Water Invocations Tec group
Grasp of the Air Dragon Technique
Tea Ceremony Technique
Rank 3 Social Skills Skill group
  Aesthetics Skill
Design Skill
Theology Skill
Rank 1-3 Fire Invocations Tec group
Wings of the Phoenix Technique
Earth Becomes Sky Technique
Rank 4 Scholar Skills Skill group
Meditation Skill
Smithing Skill
Survival Skill
Rank 1-4 Earth Invocations Tec group
Ever-Changing Waves Technique
Pillar of Calm Technique
Rank 5 Social Skills Skill group
Theology Skill
Design Skill
Meditation Skill
Rank 1-5 Air Invocations Tec group
Rank 1-5 Rituals Tec group
Rank 1-5 Shuji Tec group
Dark Enchantments (Mastery Ability):

Increase your supernatural resistance by 2 when wielding at least 1 item you have created. Once per Session reduce the TN to enchant an item by receiving any amount of strife.

 

 

 

The Spiritual Enhancers are dedicated to creating powerful artifacts. It is their goal to create items that will be used to corrupt humans and turn them to darkness in one way or another. It is rumored that it is through this power that the Anvil of Despair was created.

Rings: +1 Air, +1 Fire

Starting Skills (choose 5):           +1 Aestetics, +1 Courtesy, +1 Culture,  +2 Design, +1 Games, +1 Theology

Nature: 50

Techniques Available: Invocations, Rituals, Shuji

Starting Techniques: Blessed Wind, Inari’s Blessing, Token of Memory

Way of Corruption (School Ability): When creating or corrupting an item add a number of opportunities to your roll equal to your school rank.

Starting Outfit: Sanctified Robes, Wakizashi, Scroll Satchel, Traveling Pack

 

 

Horrific Berserker

Destroyer (Bushi)

Rank 1 Martial Skills Skill group
Command Skill
Labor Skill
Fitness Skill
Rank 1 Kata Tec group
Lord Akodo’s Roar Technique
Stonewall Tactics Technique
Rank 2 Martial Skills Skill group
Meditation Skill
Tactics Skill
Fitness Skill
Rank 1-2 Kata Tec group
Heart piercing Strike Technique
Symbol of Earth Technique
Rank 3 Martial Skills Skill group
Labor Skill
Survival Skill
Theology Skill
Rank 1-3 Kata Tec group
Disappearing World Style Technique
Pillar of Calm Technique
Rank 4 Scholar Skills Skill group
Command Skill
Meditation Skill
Martial Arts Melee Skill
Rank 1-4 Earth Shuji Tec group
Striking as Void Technique
Crashing Wave Style Technique
Rank 5 Martial Skills Skill group
Composition Skill
Tactics Skill
Meditation Skill
Rank 1-5 Kata Tec group
Sear the Wound Technique
Rouse the Soul Technique
Twin Claws (Mastery Ability):

Once per round, if you receive 5 or more strife from your school ability, you may perform a Strike action against any character at range 0-2

 

 

 

The Horrific Berserker are frontline soldiers and only goal is to kill as many humans or other monsters as possible. Their aggression is the ideal power many monsters wish they could achieve but most are not willing to risk the cost of their own control.

Rings: +1 Earth, +1 Fire

Starting Skills (choose 5):          +1 Command, +1 Courtesy, +1 Culture, +1 Fitness,  +1 Government, +1 Martial Arts Unarmed, +1 Survival

Nature: 55

Techniques Available: Kata, Rituals, Shuji

Starting Techniques: Spinning Blades Style, Striking as Fire

Way of the Berserker (School Ability): After Receiving an attack you may receive strife equal to the receive fatigue damage. If you do the TN of the next Strike action you performed is reduced by that amount.

Starting Outfit: Ashigaru Armor, Katana, Nodachi, Traveling Pack

 

 

Swarming Goblins

Destroyer (Bushi)

Rank 1 Martial Skills Skill group
Command Skill
Performance Skill
Survival Skill
Rank 1 Kata Tec group
Crescent Moon Style Technique
Stir the Embers Technique
Rank 2 Trade Skills Skill group
Performance Skill
Martial Arts Ranged Skill
Command Skill
Rank 1-2 Fire Shuji Tec group
Heartpiercing Strike Technique
Veiled Menace Style Technique
Rank 3 Martial Skills Skill group
Social Skills Skill group
Theology Skill
Design Skill
Rank 1-3 Kata Tec group
Bravado Technique
Dazzling Performance Technique
Rank 4 Social Skills Skill group
Government Skill
Tactics Skill
Martial Arts Ranged Skill
Rank 1-4 Fire Shuji Tec group
Rouse the Soul Technique
Rallying Cry Technique
Rank 5 Scholar Skills Skill group
Survival Skill
Tactics Skill
Meditation Skill
Rank 1-5 Earth Shuji Tec group
Bend with the Storm Technique
Striking as (any) Technique
Full Support (Mastery Ability):

You may take no action on your turn to use Way of the Swarm targeting any number of characters. If you only choose 1 character, that character may use any Ring or Skill you possess.

 

 

 

The Swarming Goblins are known for their ability to flood an area with speed. Few of them are considered a minor inconvenience but a large amount are considered a deadly army. They commonly are used to lead monsters as generals for all branches of monsters.

Rings: +1 Fire, +1 Water

Starting Skills (choose 5):       +1 Command, +1 Courtesy,                 +1 Sentiment, +1 Fitness,                    +1 Government, +1 Martial Arts Rng, +1 Tactics

Nature: 35

Techniques Available: Kata, Rituals, Shuji

Starting Techniques: Lightning Raid, Slippery Maneuvers

Way of the Swarm (School Ability): Once per round choose a character. You are considered giving that character assistance on their next action. If they do not take an action that requires a roll, recover 2 fatigue and strife.

Starting Outfit: Traveling Clothes, Knife, Yumi, Traveling pack

 

 

Maho – Tsukai

Blood Mage.

This school begins with the Maho Tsukai Title

All Invocations allow choice of Maho Instead

Rank 1 Scholar Skills Skill group
  Fitness Skill
Meditation Skill
Smithing Skill
Rank 1 Earth Invocation Tec group
Heart of the Water Dragon Technique
Divination Technique
Rank 2 Trade Skills Skill group
Theology Skill
Meditation Skill
Medicine Skill
Rank 1-2 Water Invocation Tec group
  Rank 1-2 Maho Technique Tec group
Earth Becomes Sky Technique
Rank 3 Scholar Skills Skill group
Composition Skill
Meditation Skill
Survival Skill
Rank 1-3 Air Invocations Tec group
Wings of the Phoenix Technique
Strike the Tsunami Technique
Rank 4 Artisan Skills Skill group
Government Skill
Sentiment Skill
Theology Skill
Rank 1-4 Fire Invocations Tec group
Wrath of Kaze no Kami Technique
Rouse The Soul Technique
Rank 5 Social Skills Skill group
Composition Skill
Sentiment Skill
Theology Skill
Rank 1-5 Fire Invocation Tec group
Earth Becomes Sky Technique
Rise, Air Technique
Dark Arts (Mastery Ability):

Your Maho techniques no longer require sacrifices and do not receive backlash from channeling them.

 

 

The Maho Tsukai are potentially the most deadly and dedicated of the Shadowlands School. Commonly humans that have turned to darkness, this school is often capable of the most corruption being spread through rokugan. In many ways sleeper agents hiding in rokugan, they are often the precursors of something worse being on the way.

Rings: +1 Void, +1 Air

Starting Skills (choose 5):       +1 Composition, +1 Courtesy,             +1 Culture, +1 Sentiment,                   +1 Government, +1 Theology,             +1 Performance

Nature: 40

Techniques Available: Invocations, Rituals, Shuji

Starting Techniques: Extinguish, Path to Inner Peace, Tempest of Air, any 2 rank 1 Maho based spells

Way of the Oni (School Ability): Once per scene when making a check to activate an invocation or maho technique, you may reduce the TN of the check by your school rank.

Starting Outfit: Ceremonial Robes, Knife, Scroll Satchel, Traveling Pack, 5 Vials of Blood

 

Step 4. Empowered By Darkness

Players are to generally gain bonuses according to a narrative sense. In each of these increases players are to build their character according to the remaining aspects of a traditional character with a few extras.

 

  • Choose a ring Increase

 

  • Choose a Skill increase with 0 ranks

 

  • Choose: increase an Artisan Skill or +10 Nature (honor)

 

Step 5. Strengths and Weaknesses

  • Add 1 Advantage

 

  • Add 1 Passion

 

  • Add 1 Anxiety

 

  • Add 1 Disadvantage

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 6. Elemental Corruption

This is where things get slightly different from traditional creation and deviation from traditional characters.

 

Add 2 “Shadowlands Taint” category disadvantages.

 

Normally these would be included as disadvantages, but this is going to instead work towards your character development. One of these will be added as an advantage and the other as a disadvantage.

Consider this aspect to be related to what dark powers your monster pulls its power from.

 

 

Step 7. Final Developments

Choose an Unmasking

Add 1 skill rank in a skill with 0 ranks

Add 1 Rank 1 Maho Technique

 

 

The Lying Darkness

PART 1: Preface

To begin, we first need to examine a few things. This is a topic that will need to be discussed between GM and Players given the circumstances and consequences that can happen with this addition to gameplay.

Due to this aspect this portion will be divided between the player aspect and the GM aspect after the initial portion as an overall coverage.

First it is important to note that every table is different and different players enjoy the game differently. There is a disconnect between what a player knows and what a character knows and these aspects should be treated as such. That said, it is up to the GM to determine how many of these actions should be present and should be fair with the “pressure” applied to a character to succumb to the darkness.

 

PART 2: The GM’s Part

We will begin with this section as it is general outline for treating these aspects properly.

First, this content should be applied in an appropriate game. A setting in which the samurai are fighting against maho would make sense. One in which the characters are playing a political game and negotiations more commonly would not include this aspect unless the story itself calls for it. What we don’t want is to use this as a way to “fight” the players or use as punishment for them.

In most cases this will not be a concern in any way but the primary takeaway is that the GM knows what is in their story and should be fair in the situations that you can force the characters into with these aspects if applied.

With that out of the way, lets discuss what we can do with these aspects. First off is the idea of what are the long- and short-term outcomes from this. The short is a slight bonus to the characters with being opened up to risk in the future.

The concept can be simplified in practice to this: The power is tempting and the more you succumb to the easy power the harder it is to resist it in the future. This is going to be built into the abilities gained from the corruption and work as an additive to the tainted disadvantages for standard samurai builds.

The best way to begin, is at the beginning, where do you being to present this to the players? That is a bit simple yet complicated.

 

PART 3: The GM’s Handbook

We begin with the more easily and general usage. When would a samurai, peasant, or even animals become corrupted the easiest? When they are closest to death. Despair and Desperation are two of the easiest way to risk everything to survive, for the win, or simply as an easy way to achieve a goal. The life of a samurai is a life of giving up your own desires and giving everything for someone else. In a world like this a failure is the same as death and can result in a similar outcome. Due to this we can begin to apply some of these aspects in these situations and failure can be applied in various ways:

 

  1. If a player is stuck in a poor situation, they will eventually become more stressed and build strife. Once this number hits high enough to the point that they would become compromised we can easily begin to use this mentally broken state is easily exploitable for someone who wishes to taunt, corrupt, and manipulate to influence someone. When this event arises, it is easy for the GM to present a simple solution to the player… at a cost.

 

  1. “A samurai is always 3 feet from death.” This statement is easily the most straight forward, and in many cases, the most likely time where this will take place. A player would rarely want their character to die. So even if you have a Deux Ex Machina to save the character, presenting this option would arise first. Giving into the darkness “just a bit” will never seem to be a risky choice but that is the problem with a world that needs you to be perfect. Giving in a little to make a sudden and dominating victory makes for a story to bring glory, success that brings honor, and can lead to a promotion and thus a new status. These advancements and achievements on top of simple survival is tempting. Too tempting and once you give in one time its already too late for regrets or changing your mind.

 

  1. The last common situation will be more directed to games that follow a story based on maho and corruption in general. Similar to simply being in the shadowlands; constant exposure will eventually break down not just the body but the spirit. This is what the darkness wants. In order for the darkness to be able to sink it’s claws into someone it needs a way to get close. For those who fight against maho, they are close to it, to be close to it is to subject yourself to the risk.

 

While these are not the only situations, they are the ones that will most commonly arise for a samurai. This is the first step. A GM can use these situations and speak directly to the characters. A phrase as simple as, “Is this really how you want to fall?” is enough of taunt to build a moment of hope. That hope is how the Lying Darkness begins. Once/if the character gives in they will begin to build a “Corrupted Soul” and at this moment you can begin to present more of these options for the players to give in during the story.

It is up to the GM to present the option to the players who have begun to give in. Though the character may wish to pursue some of these simple answers at their own risk. How you choose to present these options and bonuses are up to the GM. A simple answer or clue, survival from death, roll additional dice, or free usage of a void point without spending or having one to begin with.

 

 

 

PART 4: The Player’s Danger

This is the part that is going to make gameplay a bit trickier. First let’s discuss a few side aspects that will influence how you can and, in some ways, should play. The following are some notes for player to keep in mind while they play.

 

  1. There is a difference between what the player knows and what the characters know. This aspect can be difficult to balance but keep in mind what does or does not cross over

 

  1. Your character may become desperate. If this happens there are things that may try to influence your character. For character development you may choose to accept a risk.

 

  1. If you are uncomfortable with a situation in which you lose your character to the GM’s control make it known early on with your GM. Keep in mind that if you do not want to risk this then you potentially will have to give up something else that you could otherwise gain.

 

 

As we continue to examine these aspects lets move onto a few words about what to expect.

You won’t always need to worry about these aspects as a samurai. Though there are some situations that you may want to be aware of that could put you into some situations that you could potentially regret in the future. To start, be aware of the situations that you may face in your games. There are enemies for your characters both seen and unseen. This leads us to a few situations that may arise that you should be aware could have more dangers than you expect.

In games that the deal with the shadowlands or if you are hunting Maho-Tsukai you will be subject to a darker realm of magic. With these types of jobs, you are going to be put close to the magic. As your character should know, this is a dangerous place to be for many reasons. If you are surrounded by it, you are always subject to it. It is at times like these that you may be tempted by an unknown force.

These forces will often show themselves when you are at your lowest. Surrounding yourself with darkness can let the voices slowly seep into your ears and soul. Little compromises here and there that you make in your honor as a Samurai. Was it you or was it something sinister?

When you are beaten and broken. When your body can’t move against the threats you have. That little voice that gives you a fighting chance. Is it a kami? Or the reverse. At the same time, if you are that close to death, is the risk really that risky? A chance to survive, to succeed. It’s worth it right?

 

 

PART 5: The Powers

Lets now move into the actual effects taking place in these scenarios. The first part is obtaining the corruptive levels. As mentioned earlier it comes down to the most fundamental level of, “giving in” or if you gain any of the shadowlands taint disadvantages but more on that later.

What we are looking at are the following effects based on what level of corruption the character has reached.

These will be treated closer to Title Abilities instead of advantages or disadvantages

Each corruption level will come with bonus(es) that will stack with all previous corruption level bonuses and abilities in addition to all drawbacks that will stack.

In addition, willingly using any of these abilities will result in a required roll. TN(x) Void Theology. X = current corruption level +1. (ex. You give in at level 1 and use the power. You now need to roll a TN2 Void Theology.)

If you succeed then you gain a “Corruption % mark” Each of these marks will increase the next roll you make by 1TN.

A failure of this roll will increase you to the next corruption level. If your corruption level increases above your current VOID ring level, your character has now become a lost one and is under the control of the GM.

 

 

 

 

Corruption Level 0

Lore: The standard of humanity. However, 3 feet from death is also 3 feet from The Nothing.

Ability: A boon granted by the GM. This can be anything from answers, health and/or strength restoration and bonus, or another one-time effect.

Drawback: Increase to corruption      level 1.

 

 

Corruption Level 1

Lore: Corruption, Maho, a samurai knows what these things are however in order to survive or succeed risks much be taken.

Ability: Seeing in darkness now is less difficult. Searching in the dark for someone or something has a -1 TN. Searching for sources of Maho or similar corruption is easier with a -1TN.

Drawback(s): Direct contact with jade hurts. If this happens a required TN2 Earth Fitness to resist the pain is required and a shortfall is dealt as fatigue and strife.

 

 

NOTE: The GM can now present opportunities for bonuses at times throughout the game. At this level the player can choose to ignore the offered opportunities with a TN(x) Void Theology. Where x = current corruption level

 

 

Corruption Level 2

Lore: Darkness has it’s uses. We know that it is wrong, but when we can use it for the empire, is it really so wrong?

Ability: When in defiled or corrupted terrain, or when in darkness you may choose to keep 1 additional dice on any roll.

When interacting with someone who is tainted, you may choose to absorb the corruption into your own body with a TN3 Void Theology. If you succeed you purify the target and obtain a “Corruption % mark.”

Drawback(s): Extended time in the daylight will eventually take an effect on your body. At the GM’s discretion the character gains the Exhausted and/or the Dazed Conditions ignoring an Earth stance in combat.

 

Corruption Level 3

Lore: Good, Bad, You’re the one with the sword. You know what’s best for this world and how to achieve it.

Ability: This character can create an area of darkness as obscuring terrain within 7 Range Bands with a TN2 Void Theology. This action can be used at will and not part of a standard action roll for a turn.

Drawback(s): When this Ability is achieved, at random, 1 Advantage, 1 Passion, and 1 Anxiety are removed from your character.

 

 

 

 

Corruption Level 4

Lore: Darkness. No Friends. No Allies. There is no one I can depend on except the shadows. This world may not be worth saving after all.

Ability: You no longer need to sleep. Being awake at night is as rejuvenating as sleeping. In addition, you are now in tune with darkness and are aware of anyone attempting to sneak closer to you using darkness.

Drawback(s): All Passions, Anxieties, and Advantages are removed from your character and cannot be gained. Gain 1 Disadvantage. You can no longer use Void Points.

 

Corruption Level 5

Lore: Limbs feel closer to tendrils. Darkness is as clear as day and light is nothing but blinding. You no longer see the point in the Celestial Order. Simply lesser being running around like ants.

Ability: Once/scene: As a free action recover 5 Fatigue and 5 Strife.

When entering combat alone or with other Corrupted characters, you may choose to increase your Physical and Supernatural resistance to 5.

Drawback(s): Title abilities cannot be used. You can not receive assistance from non-corrupted characters. Attempts to detect your corruption are at -3TN. Armor no longer protects your body and instead your body provides a simple 1 Resistance to all damage types

 

PART 6: The Lost

The lost is what happens when your corruption exceeds your Void Ring. The lost are humans who have, well, lost their humanity.

A character who has become a “Lost One” is under the control of the GM and has lost all semblance of who they were as a person. Realistically they have become a blank slate with no personality, desires, or other attributes that would make a person… alive.

 

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