Character Progression

Go back to “Game Mechanics” here

In Legend of the Five Rings players will advance in up to four ways; Experience, Honour, Status, and Glory. Rather than handing out increases to these at the end of a session, they will be posted in the Adventure Log for that session the following day by character.

Experience represents the things your character experiences throughout the course of the campaign, from the lessons learned and the knowledge gathered, to the physical and mental growth as time passes. In “Stolen Destiny” the amount of Experience Points that can be earned per session is dependent on a number of factors, and it is not guaranteed that each player will receive the same amount. The maximum number of experience points a given player can earn in a session is seven, broken down in the following ways:

• Every player earns 2 experience points for showing up to the session.
• The group earns 0, 1 or 2 experience points for in game accomplishments, with 0 point where the players are not particularly productive and 2 points awarded where the players both advance goals and do so in interesting and creative ways.
• An individual player earns 0 or 1 experience points for good role-playing. This can include role-playing disadvantages or sense of bushido even when it’s to your detriment, or any other such considerations.
• An individual player earns 0, 1 or 2 experience points for encountering considerable risks in a session. This can include single combat or a duel with someone of a higher Insight Rank, or engaging in a Shadowlands or Shadow based session.

These points can currently be spent to raise skills and traits, purchase emphases and Advantages, and buy off Disadvantages. Emphases cost two points, and buying off a Disadvantage costs twice the experience points the Disadvantage awarded upon selection. Raising a skill costs the new skill rank in experience points, and includes paying for any ranks you have skipped. For example, raising Jiujutsu from 2 to 3 ranks costs 3 points, whilst raising it from 1 to 3 ranks costs 5 points (2 for rank 2, plus 3 for rank 3). Raising a trait costs four times the new trait rank, or six times the new trait rank for the Void ring. This has been summarised below for your convenience.

Rank Emphases Gained Trait Cost Void Ring Cost
1 1st
3 2nd 12 18
4 16 24
5 3rd 20 30
6 24 36
7 4th 28 42
8 32 48
9 5th (Final) 36 54
10 (Max) 40 60

Honour primarily reflects how an individual samurai sees his personal ability to adhere to the tenets of Bushido and fulfill the duties assigned to him by his lord. However, while Honour is primarily internal there is an external component to it as well, as a samurai’s Honour greatly impacts how he carries himself and thus how others perceive him. Honour Ranks can be roughly described as follows:

Honour Rank 0 – 1: Honourless Dog
Those individuals with Honour Ranks 0 or 1 do not adhere to or even recognize the tenets of Bushido, and mock those who are restricted by such an antiquated code of conduct. Individuals of this sort cannot be trusted, and value only their own interests and well-being at the expense of anyone and anything else. Criminals fall into this category.

Honour Rank 2 – 3: Untrustworthy
While characters of Honour Ranks 2 and 3 are not particularly honourable, they at least pay lip service to the concept and make a marginal effort to uphold principles under certain circumstances. Perhaps this is a vestige of the individual’s upbringing, or perhaps he only wants to avoid completely dishonouring his clan or lord through his actions. Still, the most important thing to a man of this caliber is himself, and very little can convince him otherwise.

Honour Rank 4 – 5: What Is Expected
Characters of Honour Ranks 4 and 5 are the standard against which most others are measured. Such samurai make an effort every day to adhere to the tenets of Bushido and to bring honour and glory to their families and clans. Still, they are human and flawed individuals. As such they fall short of their potential on occasion, but not so much that they spiral downward into shame and disappointment.

Honour Rank 6 – 7: Exceptional
A samurai of Honour Ranks 6 or 7 understands the strength inherent in the code of Bushido. Such a man still feels the temptations to which lower-Honour characters succumb, but he is capable of resisting them through conviction and strength of will. These samurai may occasionally abandon virtue in the name of practicality, but such things are the exception rather than the rule.

Honour Rank 8 – 9: A Soul Above Question
Samurai of Honour Ranks 8 and 9 are rare individuals who have managed to put aside their personal feelings and concerns, replacing them with zeal for duty and Bushido. To some, these men and women are paragons of virtue who are to be respected and admired, while to others, they are rigid and inflexible disciplinarians unwilling to deviate even slightly from their own intractable code of conduct.

Honour Rank 10: Strength of a Thousand Ancestors
Perhaps one soul in ten thousand reaches Honour Rank 10, and represents the greatest and most virtuous heroes of an entire Empire. Such an individual is virtually beyond reproach save from the highest ranks of the Imperial bureaucracy. Individuals of this caliber are completely selfless, devoted to their lord, clan, and Emperor, and exhibit virtue in every action.

Gaining and Losing Honour
A character gains and loses Honour depending upon his actions. An honourable character who commits dishonourable acts will find his Honour Rank reduced over time. Conversely, a character with a low Honour Rank who commits honourable acts will find his Honour Rank increasing accordingly. The amount of Honour gained or lost by any particular action, however, depends upon how honourable the character committing the act is. A character of Honour Rank 10, for instance, will gain less Honour for showing courtesy for his enemies because that is expected, whereas a character of Honour Rank 2 would gain proportionately more Honour because such a thing is a rare instance of that person doing what is expected of them.

The chart here represents typical Honour awards and penalties for notable actions at the various Honour ranks. How these awards and penalties should happen in play is subject to change depending on the situation.

Action Rank 0-1 Rank 2-3 Rank 4-5 Rank 6-7 Rank 8-9 Rank 10
Accepting a bribe 0 0 -3 -4 -6 -8
Accepting responsibility for a superior’s shameful action 8 7 6 4 3 3
Acknowledging a superior opponent 5 4 4 2 2 0
Aiding a wounded enemy 9 8 6 6 5 3
Being an accomplice to a heinous crime -1 -4 -8 -12 -16 -20
Being an accomplice to a minor crime 0 -1 -4 -4 -8 -8
Breach of etiquette, blasphemous -1 -6 -10 -10 -16 -20
Breach of etiquette, major 0 -2 -2 -2 -6 -6
Breach of etiquette, minor 0 0 -1 -2 -2 -2
Disloyalty to lord, spouse, or superior 0 -2 -6 -10 -14 -18
Duped into performing a criminal act -1 -4 -8 -12 -16 -18
Duped into performing a disloyal act 0 -2 -4 -6 -10 -14
Duped into performing a foolish act 0 -2 -4 -4 -6 -8
Disobeying a lord’s command 0 -2 -2 -6 -6 -10
Enduring an insult to your ancestors 0 -2 -4 -4 -6 -8
Enduring an insult to yourself 2 2 2 0 0 0
Enduring an insult to your family or clan 0 0 -2 -2 -4 -4
Facing a superior foe in the name of your family 8 6 5 4 3 2
Fleeing from battle 0 -2 -4 -6 -8 -10
Following orders despite personal misgivings 6 4 0 0 -2 -4
Giving a truthful report at your own expense 8 6 4 2 0 0
Lying to bolster your reputation 0 -2 -4 -6 -8 -10
Manipulating another into dishonorable behavior 0 -2 -4 -6 -8 -10
Politely ignoring another’s dishonorable behavior 0 -2 -4 -6 -8 -10
Protecting your clan/family/lord’s interest despite great risk to yourself 8 8 6 6 4 2
Showing kindness to one beneath your station 6 6 4 4 2 2
Showing sincere courtesy to enemies or rivals 9 7 5 2 0 0
Using a Low Skill 0 -1 -2 -3 -6 -9
Using false courtesy to gain advantage over an enemy 0 0 -2 -6 -10 -10

The Strength of Honour
One of the greatest benefits of having a high Honour Rank is that characters can rely upon their Honour to aid them in resisting temptations or manipulations that a true samurai should turn aside easily. Characters add their Honour Rank to the total of any roll made to resist uses of the Intimidation and Temptation Skills, as well as to all rolls to resist Fear effects of any kind.

Discerning Honour
Samurai who have a high Honour Rank conduct themselves in such a manner that their nature is obvious to those who pay close attention. Any character may attempt to discern the Honour Rank of another person by making a Lore: Bushido / Awareness roll (TN 30). If the roll is successful, the person making the roll can discern the Honour Rank of the samurai being evaluated.

Glory is a measure of an individual’s fame throughout the Empire as a result of personal accomplishments. Unlike Honor and Status, Glory is a very fluid attribute and can vary wildly from the results of a single duel, skirmish, or battle. Individuals who participate in sensational events, such as military officers or duelists, are more prone to having a high Glory, while mild-mannered or unobtrusive individuals, such as scholars or scribes, are far less likely to be recognized. Surprisingly, socially high-ranking individuals such as the Emperor or the daimyo of the Imperial families have a relatively low Glory, because they are so unlikely to be recognized when outside of the trappings of their positions and unaccompanied by their retinue. There are few in the Empire, after all, who would recognize the Emperor if he were traveling in simple clothes without his legion of bodyguards and attendants. Glory is a measure of fame, not prestige, and those who have lower Glory than a samurai are in no way obligated to obey him. They are expected to show him the proper respect for one of his reputation, however, and failure to do so can result in a legitimate reason for a duel or other unpleasant outcomes.

Gaining Glory
Gaining and losing Glory can be done in a variety of ways, all based upon a samurai’s actions and what ramifications his actions have on his reputation in the Empire at large. Glory gains and losses are largely out of an individual’s control, as Glory grows or diminishes as a result of others speaking of their exploits.

Warfare Gain 3 points Glory for surviving a battle, 6 if on the winning side
Stealing Credit Gain the amount of Glory normally gained for the act being usurped
Status Gain Glory equal to the amount of Status gained
Skirmishes Gain one point of glory for defeating bandits, ronin, etc.
Romance One point of Glory for public declaration of love (without identifying lover)
Public Bragging After gaining Glory, you may gain 1 additional point through public bragging
Marriage Increase Glory rank of lower-Glory spouse to one less than higher-Glory spouse
Learning Gain one Glory Rank when gaining an Insight Rank
Indifference Being ignored for prior bad behavior, reduce all Glory gains by 1, increase losses by 2
Immortality Inspiration for a work of art, gain Glory points = Glory rank of most prominent admirer
Idleness Lose on Glory point for every week without any Glory gain
Gifts Gain Glory equal to Glory/Status if given a give by a higher ranking samurai
Family Dishonor Lose one Glory Rank if a close relative commits an act worthy of seppuku
Duels Winning a fair duel gains Glory points equal to 1/3 opponent’s Status/Glory
Defeat Officer who loses a battle/duelist who loses a duel (loses opponent’s Glory)
Craftsmanship Gain one Glory point for each Raise made when creating an item
Completing a Quest Gain Glory points = half the Glory Rank of the individual issuing the quest
Caught in a Lie Lose double the Glory gained by act about which the samurai lied
Blood Feud Avenging a feud gains Glory equal to opponent’s Status or Glory (lower of two)
Acknowledgement Publicly acknowledge by someone of Status 7+, gain 1 Rank

Effects of Glory
The higher a samurai’s Glory Rank, the greater the probability he will be recognized when he encounters people he has not met before. Whenever this happens, the GM can make a Lore: Heraldry / Intelligence roll for the strangers against TN 50. This TN is reduced by an amount equal to the samurai’s current Glory Rank x 5. If the roll is successful, the strangers recognize the samurai and respond appropriately.

Rokugan is a feudal society, and Status is the measure of an individual’s role and influence within that society. Those with higher Status command more resources, authority, and wealth, while those with low Status have little authority over anything, perhaps even their own lives. Status is a largely static attribute that changes infrequently. Generally speaking, the only way for a character to increase their Status is to gain appointments or promotions from someone who is higher ranking in the hierarchy of their family, Clan, or the Imperial bureaucracy.

Gaining and Losing Status
Status may only be gained by the formal promotion of a samurai by his lord or another higher ranking individual. This is traditionally done in recognition of glorious service, although political appointments are also a source for such things. Losing Status is less common, and is done by the same sort of individuals, but as punishment for some sort of failure, typically a failure of duty. There is little that can be done in such cases, although in the instance of an unfair demotion, a samurai can conceivably protest his demotion to a figure of greater authority who holds influence over the individual who performed the demotion in the fi rst place. If a demotion is found to be unjust, it results in a restoration of the wronged party’s Status and a loss of Honor for the individual who performed the unjust act in the first place. However, an inappropriate protest typically results in even more severe punishment for the protesting samurai.

Effects of Status
Status grants a samurai authority over other samurai of lower Status, but only if those samurai exist within the same hierarchy. A Lion samurai with Status 3, for instance, still cannot issue commands to a Mantis samurai with Status 2 unless the two of them are members of the same military organization or a comparable social order of some sort; otherwise the Lion simply has no authority over the Mantis. On the other hand, a Lion of Status 3 can usually issue orders to another Lion of Status 2. Samurai must always be careful in doing so, however, and make sure they do not interrupt or countermand the orders of a different samurai with an even greater Status than their own. Countermanding a superior results in lost Honor and possibly a loss of Status as well.

A Note On Monks
Monks occupy a unique position in the social order of the Emerald Empire. While they are respected for their wisdom and their devotion to the Tao of Shinsei, they have no true place in samurai society. Monks are considered to have a Status of 1 and a Glory of 0. Monks may gain both Glory and Status, but only gain half the amount of Glory that would normally be awarded to an individual of the samurai caste.

Character Progression

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