Bayushi Shinkaze- Scorpion Shugenja

A Character for Legend of the Five Rings (tm)

The night wind whispers
Shinkaze is listening
Secrets are no more

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Bayushi Shinkaze - Scorpion Shugenja


Basic Concept

A somewhat idealistic Scorpion Shugenja (the Japanese equivalent of a magician and priest) from the Bayushi family.  His family follows the usual Bushi (warrior) path of the Bayushi, and is very martial.  His Father sends him off to be trained by his uncle as a "real" Scorpion.  He is identified as having the talent to be a Shugenja and attends training at the Soshi school, the Scorpion Clan school of magic.  He wishes to be the "ideal Scorpion."  He sees this as mastering the skill of subtlety and magic, then applying it in the service of his clan and empire.  He takes Bayushi's Promise (see below) to be his ethical beacon, but strives to conduct himself honorably, as his mission allows.

The Samurai that founded the Great Clan of Scorpion made a promise to the first Emperor, his brother Hantei.  Hantei asked Bayushi to take care of the dirty work, to include espionage, which was looked down upon in the Bushido code.  In brief, he was to do the low and dishonorable tasks necessary for the survival of the Empire.  Bayushi promised himself and his line to this task - "I will be your villain, Hantei." [From Way of the Scorpion]  In execution, the clan is something along the lines of the CIA or mafia, depending on who you are dealing with and why.  They are still a clan of Samurai, but they place Loyalty above all else, including honor, glory, etc.

So, Shinkaze's basic value system would be along these lines.  He wants to uphold Bayushi's Promise, hold Loyalty in the highest regard, and try to be as honorable a samurai as possible along the way.  He will have worked as a yoriki (policeman) as a young adult, and learned respect for the common people.  There will also be a hint of the martial nature of his family in his respect for Bushi and their ways, i.e. he will not have a condescending, "Shugenja are cooler than everyone", attitude.

I hope to make him something of a hybrid between a Soshi Shugenja and a Bayushi Bushi, as much as the experience points allow, that is.  The general concept is to combine the mysterious aloofness of a wizard, the philosophical nature of a priest, the conciseness of action and thought of a detective, the skills of a spy/infiltrator, and the courage of a warrior.  His morality would be quite flexible in pursuit of his ideals, but I imagine it to be a little less easy to bend than the average Scorpion's.

This character was created for Lars Ericson's L5R campaign at Rice University.


A little research showed that ancient Japanese Samurai often (always?) had names constructed of Kanji characters.  Well, I could do no less.  After buying a book on Kanji characters and spending a lot of time thinking up different ideas, I finally settled on combining a character related to air and a character related to spirits, magic, or energy.

So, my choice finally narrowed down to "Spirit wind", but the same characters meant "Divine wind", which is "kamikaze".  Ironically, Legend of the Five Rings calls spirit "kami", so it seemed very appropriate, but using that name would probably not have the effect I desired, so I chose the alternate name for the "spirit" character, "shin".  Hence "Shinkaze".

His childhood name and the names of his parents were chosen before I bought the Kanji book, so they were just Japanese syllables tossed together:

Childhood name - Makado
Dad - Takane
Mom - Tsukuno
Uncle - Ishime
Mentor - Sine
Mentor's Yojimbo (bodyguard) - Muyashi
Yoriki he worked with - Kenji
Kitsu Bushi he killed - Iijima
Brother of Iijima (sworn enemy) - Gato

My siblings' names were determined late in the game, so they were lavished the attention of Kanji character names:

Eldest, Brother - Goushi ("strong bull")
Second Eldest, Brother - Kamishi ("divine arrow")
Third Eldest, Sister - Shokukoro ("sensual heart")

I also needed some pseudonyms for Shinkaze to use on the trail:

Hokosha - "pedestrian"
Shinen - "deep and distant profundity"

Crunching the Numbers

  • Starting with 25 points, I took 10 points in disadvantages.  I felt I had to take Dark Secret for Shinkaze to be a good Scorpion <grin>.  I followed up with a Sworn Enemy (Lion Bushi, same rank) that would be related to my dark secret. Finally, I took Obligation (minor): Hida.  I planned to tie it all into something to do with the irrefutably evil Maho Tsukai or "blood magic", and decided that the Dark Secret would be the arranged murder of some Lion Bushi, which would be tied to a pact with a Maho practitioner.  The Sworn Enemy would be the Lion Bushi's brother and a shugenja.  The murder would be explained away as the Bushi having a pact with the Maho person.  It would occur in Crab clan lands, and Shinkaze/Makado would ostensibly be on the legitimate mission to track down and take out the Maho threat.  The minor obligation would be a favor to the Crab clan for providing yoriki to help track down the Maho user.
  • 35 points left.  He gets +1 Agility from his family and +1 Awareness from his Soshi training. I decided to give him the highest possible (starting) Air ring to make him as skilled as possible in the magic form his school specializes in.  So I spent 24 points buying him Reflexes 4 and Awareness 4, giving him an Air ring of 4.
  • 11 points left.  Being a Soshi Shugenja gave him Calligraphy, Courtier or Etiquette, Meditation, Sincerity, Shintao, and any 2 other high skills.  I chose Etiquette, Shugenja Lore, and Mizugusuri (potion making skill).
  • I spent 3 points on Crafty, an advantage that gives him basic ability in all low skills.
  • I wanted to have him possess a tolerance for Sake and poison.  There were no such disadvantages in the game, so I talked to the GM and finally got it down to 1 point per substance.  Still pretty pricey, but worth it to see my concept realized.
  • That left 6 points. I raised his Sincerity to 3 with 2 points, with the feeling that it was the most important non-combat skill he cold possess.
  • I wanted him to be skilled in an unarmed combat style that had non-lethal techniques because I am a big fan of having characters with unarmed combat ability and it made sense for a good yoriki (policeman) to have that.  So I bought Kaze-do 2, leaving me with 2 points.
  • I bought Spellcraft 1, leaving me with 1 point.  With the rationale that Crafty only reflected a knack with low skills and the background I constructed called for real skill in it, I spent the last point on Poison 1.
  • This left a couple of skills from his background not purchased, but after some lamentation, the GM mentioned that such holes would be filled with a few points given during an intro session for the character.  So that completed him.
  • In the intro session, he was given Sleight of Hand 1, Investigation 1, and two potions.


Bayushi Shinkaze, Scorpion Clan - Rank 2 Soshi Shugenja

Rings & Traits

Earth 2

Stamina 2
Willpower 2

Fire 3

Agility 3
Intelligence 3

Air 4

Reflexes 4
Awareness 4

Water 2

Strength 2
Perception 2

Void 3

Total XP: 40
Glory: 1.9
Honor: 1.9 (2.2-0.3)
Unspent XP: 0
Insight: 154
Shadowlands Taint: 4
Advantages & Disadvantages
Advantages Disadvantages
Crafty (+3)
Toxin Tolerance: Sake (+1)
Toxin Tolerance: Jeruku Ropu (+1)
Dark Secret: It's a secret? (-5)
Sworn Enemy: Kitsu Gato (-3)
Obligation, Minor: Hida Clan (-2)
Fire From Within
Command the Mind
Way of Deception
False Tongue
Know the Mind
Yari of Air
Tempest of Air
Path to Inner Peace
General spells: Sense, Summon, Commune, Counterspell
High Bugei Merchant Low
Bard 1
Calligraphy 1
Courtier 1
Etiquette 1
Heraldry 1
Investigation 1
Lore: Shadowlands 1
Lore: Shugenja 2
Medicine 1
Meditation 1
Mizugusuri 1
Shintao 1
Sincerity 3
Spellcraft 1
Iaijutsu 1
Kaze-do 2
Kenjutsu 1
Yarijutsu 1
Poison 1
Sleight of Hand 1
Equipment & Money
Kimono - jet black with dark, blood red haori and obi
Traveling Pack
Scroll Satchel
Naginata - reddish wood, brass fittings; given by Shinsei monks in Rayano Province
Wakizashi - presented by Daimyo Kendasi
Elixir of Health
Money Koku 32 Bu 3 Zeni 4

Character Progression

Experience Points

15 XP (Total 15)
  • Void raised to 3
5 XP (Total 20)
  • Heraldry 1
  • Iaijutsu 1
  • Kenjutsu 1
  • Medicine 1
  • Yarijutsu 1
20 XP (Total 40)
  • Raised Intelligence to 3 (this brought up Fire Ring to 3 as well)
  • Bard 1
  • Courtier 1
  • Lore: Shadowlands 1
  • Lore: Shugenja 2


  • Rank 1: Sense, Summon, Commune, Counterspell, Command the Mind, False Tongue, Way of Deception, Path to Inner Peace, Forget
  • Scroll received as reward for returning Tekini's equipment and scrolls: Know the Mind
  • Rank 2: Yari of Air, Tempest of Air, Fire from Within

Honor 1.9

  • Collecting and returning the daisho of fallen Akodo bandits to Daimyo Zunoro: +2 
  • Contracting the Taint (3 points): -3 
  • Recovering the Kyumadokuja vessel from Shosuro Tekini: +4 
  • Collecting and returning the items of Bayushi Geno and Shosuro Tekini: +1 

Glory 1.9

  • Returning the daisho of fallen Akodo bandits to Daimyo Zunoro:    +1 
  • Recovering the Kyumadokuja vessel from Shosuro Tekini:    +4 
  • Telling the story of his recent exploits to Daimyo Kendasi:    +3 
  • Collecting and returning the items of Bayushi Geno and Shosuro Tekini:    +1 

Physical Description

Shinkaze's physical characteristics are difficult to make out under all of his clothing, but he appears to be of medium build and does not appear to be overweight or heavily muscled.  His kimono is jet black except for the haori and obi, which are dark sanguine in color.  A black silk cloth is wrapped close around his neck, covering his face up to his eyes.  Atop his head is a large, round woven hat that usually hides his eyes.  It has a base color of black, with the sanguine highlights.  The pigments are distinctive in their lack of luster.  In subtle contrast, shiny, shoulder-length, black hair hangs down to the middle of his shoulders.  His demeanor seems to be a mixture of detached aloofness and careful observation.  When he moves, he almost seems to glide as his steps are well concealed beneath his kimono.  His speech is soft and melodious, as if the wind itself were whispering a haiku.  His arms are usually tucked into the opposing sleeves of his kimono, leaving one to wonder what his hands are doing at any instant . . .