The Great Clans
The Great Clans
Power within the empire of Rokugan is split between a great many forces, many of them organized into a “clan” structure. In 1156, there are 14 Minor Clans (including homebrew ones), whose power and scope of influence are much smaller than the 8 Great Clans. Fortunately, conventions are in place that restrict each clan’s army from being brought fully to bear against another clan, and a Great Clan cannot make war with a Minor Clan without Imperial permission. Unfortunately, only honor truly stands as a bulwark against such abuses — though he is eminently powerful, the Emperor still lives in Otosan Uchi, and a particularly foolhardy and/or confident Clan Champion could rally his or her whole clan into action whenever necessary.
Each clan has a similar structure, though differences abound everywhere between them. The clans are named for an animal of some sort, or otherwise a mystic creature, and is headed by a Clan Champion who also leads his or her family. Each family within the clan is lead by a daimyo; daimyo and champions have the final say in regards to their spheres of influence. Each clan, Great and Minor, has its own flavor and history, and the histories constantly intertwine.
Each Great Clan is composed of several families, each of which offers something of value to the clan that it belongs to. Mechanically, this means that one family trains its people as bushi, another as shugenja, and another as courtiers. Each Great Clan has a fourth school that may or may not be headed by a fourth family; this fourth school helps to emphasize the clan’s particular nature, and offers another avenue for players to take their characters down. The duties of the clan (commerce, defense, court, etc.) are generally split between the families, though this never precludes members of other families from helping, or even choosing another family’s ways over their own. In some clans, this can be a little odd; one would not expect an Asahina, the Crane Clan’s pacifist artisan family, to take the Daidoji spear and quickly rise as a commander. Other clans, notably the Crab, prefer that a samurai find what he or she is best at and perform that task, rather than remain in a position that doesn’t benefit the clan as much.
The eight Great Clans of Rokugan are the Crab, the Crane, the Dragon, the Lion, the Mantis, the Phoenix, the Scorpion, and the Unicorn. Though there are eight Great Clans, the Imperial Families of the Emperor’s own house rank among (and above) them in terms of power and influence, and are easily included as a “ninth” Great Clan. Because the campaign is taking place in 1156, there is currently no Spider Clan, though whether or not their creation is in the works cannot be said by those outside of Daigotsu’s kingdom. As such, the Spider Clan is not being dealt with on this page — look in your books.