Heroes on Demand: Kakita Ryosei, Traveling Duelist

Welcome to the latest installment of Heroes on Demand, your weekly source for ready-made and ready-to-play characters for a variety of RPGs.  For this week, we shall once again venture into the samurai-driven realm of Rokugan.  While many samurai learn at least the fundamentals of iaijutsu so as to defend their honor, their lord, and themselves in a duel, there are those for whom the art of the duel is a central focus to their being, developing and demonstrating a lethal artistry to match the skill of any playwright or painter.  So take a moment to enjoy the cherry blossoms as they bloom and clear your mind in preparation to make the one perfect strike as we introduce…

"My technique has been handed down since the days of the Kami. Are you certain in your wish to test your skill against that of my ancestors?"

“My technique has been handed down since the days of the Kami. Are you certain in your wish to test your skill against that of my ancestors?”

Kakita Ryosei
: Legend of the Five Rings, 4th Edition

Air 3, Earth 2, Fire 2 (Agility 3), Water 2, Void 3
Kakita Bushi 1: The Way of the Crane

Artisan: Origami 1, Courtier 1, Defense 1, Etiquette 2, Iaijutsu (Focus) 3, Kenjutsu 2, Kyujutsu 1, Lore: Bushido 1, Lore: Heraldry 1, Sincerity 1, Tea Ceremony 1
Hero of the People
Driven (perfect his art), Obligation (Minor), Sworn Enemy (rival duelist)
Breath of Wind Style

Attack Rolls: 5k3 (katana), 5k3 (wakizashi), 4k3 (yumi)
Damage Rolls: 5k2 (katana), 4k2 (wakizashi), 4k2 (yumi)
Armor TN: 25 (Reduction 3)

Honor: 6.5
Glory: 1.0
Status: 1.0
Outfit: Daisho, yumi with 20 arrows, light armor, sturdy clothing, traveling pack, 10 koku

Ryosei grew up without every really knowing what life was like outside of his father’s estate, having the luxury of being a child of a minor daimyo on the Crane territories.  Allowed to indulge in whatever pastimes caught his fancy along with his older and younger siblings, Ryosei was easily enamored by tales and re-enactments of legendary duels fought throughout Rokugan’s history, being particularly fond of tales surrounding his family’s illustrious ancestor.  Although his mother was less than pleased at the decision, Ryosei showed enough promise that he was permitted to attend the famous Kakita Dueling Academy, to learn the ways and methods of iaijutsu that the Crane had refined over the many centuries since the days of the Great Clan’s founding.

Although he earned praise from his teachers for his skill and dedication to the art of the duel and of the sword, Ryosei always felt that he simply wasn’t good enough, that he could have always done better.  It was to this end, shortly after passing his gempukku, that the young samurai requested permission to embark upon Mushi Shugyo, the warrior’s pilgrimage, so that he might truly perfect his prowess as a swordsman; perhaps having to rely upon his skills to survive rather than continue practice within the safe confines of a dojo would provide Ryosei with the impetus needed to truly become a great swordsman rather than merely being a talented one.

Design Notes:
Ryosei is an exemplar of the Kakita duelist, being a dangerous opponent in an iaijutsu duel against someone without a similar level of training or focus.  He’s not quite as lethal in a skirmish, but that can easily be remedied by spending his first few experience points on increasing his Kenjutsu skill and buying the Katana focus.  The Breath of Wind kata provides a useful perk to help ensure that Ryosei is amongst the first to act during a skirmish, enabling him to cut down an opponent before that foe can counterattack.  But as befits the background fluff of the Kakita family, he’s not a one-dimensional killing machine, and has the benefit of some useful social skills; he won’t last long against a dedicated courtier, but Ryosei won’t be the easy target that most bushi present either.  And while it might seem odd, giving Ryosei an rank in an Artisan skill adds a touch of the artistic to the character, quite befitting a member of the Great Clan that is all about artistry in its myriad forms and styles.

I’ll admit that the character of Kenshin Himura of the Rurouni Kenshin manga and anime series was a significant influence on Ryosei, as there is something about the wandering, honorable swordsman that strikes a certain chord with some people.  And having embarked on the warrior’s pilgrimage provides plenty of justification for why Ryosei might be found in whatever region of Rokugan the campaign starts in, or why he might even be found in the company of samurai of those Great Clans that have little appreciation for the Crane Clan.  I also deliberately left his Obligation and Sworn Enemy disadvantages pretty open, to allow the GM to tailor them to the needs of his campaign.  His enemy could be another Crane duelist or a bushi from another duelist tradition, particularly those found amidst the Scorpion, while his Obligation could be used as a means to draw Ryosei into the campaign’s initial story arc.

Character image is from the Legend of the Five Rings Collectible Card Game, courtesy of the Legend of the Five Rings Wiki at the l5r.wikia.com.  More of this artist’s work can be found at http://silent-black.deviantart.com/

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