Friday, October 16, 2015


Back when 3rd edition D&D first came out I was still playing quite a bit of Legend of the Five Rings and I was really excited when I heard Wizards of the Coast acquired the L5R license to remake the Oriental Adventures rulebook as a Rokugan sourcebook. I remember being really disappointed that Oriental Adventures merely reskinned conventional D&D classes while lavishing an Eastern-inspired theme over all of it. I immediately set out to write up Shugenja correctly!!!

These stats come from my original notes. I remember writing it as a rough draft and I handed it to a friend asking for his input, he wrote up a shugenja and tested it out then handed back the pages and said "This is great! They should have hired you to write this sourcebook." Validation! I tucked the pages away into a folder and then they disappeared, and occasionally they've surfaced whenever I clean out my bookcases or move my library around, but this is the first time I've pulled them out of the folder and said "Let's take a look at this again."

Originally for 3rd edition D&D:


LevelBase AttackFortRefWillSpecial
1+0+2+2+0Spellcasting +1, Scribe Scroll
2+1+2+2+0Spellcasting +1, Ability Increases
3+2+2+2+0Spellcasting +2
4+3+2+2+0Spellcasting +3
5+3+2+2+0Spellcasting +3
6+4+2+2+0Spellcasting +4, Ability Increases
7+5+2+2+0Spellcasting +5
8+6/+1+2+2+0Spellcasting +5
9+6/+1+2+2+0Spellcasting +6
10+7/+2+2+2+0Spellcasting +7, Ability Increases
11+8/+3+2+2+0Spellcasting +7
12+9/+4+2+2+0Spellcasting +8
13+9/+4+2+2+0Spellcasting +9
14+10/+5+2+2+0Spellcasting +9, Ability Increases
15+11/+6/+1+2+2+0Spellcasting +10
16+12/+7/+2+2+2+0Spellcasting +11
17+12/+7/+2+2+2+0Spellcasting +11
18+13/+8/+3+2+2+0Spellcasting +12, Ability Increases
19+14/+9/+4+2+2+0Spellcasting +13
20+15/+10/+5+2+2+0Spellcasting +13

SKILL POINTS at 1st LEVEL: (4 + Int mod) x 4
SKILL POINTS per LEVEL: 4 + Int mod
CLASS SKILLS: Concentration, Craft, Decipher Script, Diplomacy, Gather Information, Heal, Knowledge (any), Meditation, Listen, Ride, Scry, Spot
WEAPON and ARMOR PROFICIENCIES: Shugenja are skilled with two simple weapons and one martial weapons (player's choice). Shugenja are not proficient with any type of armor nor with shields. Armor of any type interferes with a Shugenja's movements, which can cause spells to fail.

SPELLCASTING: A Shugenja doesn't cast spells, but allows their own energy to mingle with an element, thus gaining its favor and influence. Spells are grouped into five elements, each with an effect that corresponds with the nature of that element. Shugenjas receive scores for each element based on their ability score modifiers. These bonuses, or penalties, help guide a Shugenja's growth.
AIR (Dex & Wis): Air, or Wind, cannot be seen directly, but its effects can. Air is the element of storms, although a Shugenja's abilities to influence storms is minor. Air is also the element of birds, and therefore the element of travel. Lastly, Air is the element of intuition and influence.
EARTH (Con & Int): Spells that invoke the quiet strength of the Earth are those that effect resilience and resolve. Earth also represents health and growth.
FIRE (Dex & Int): Fire is a symbol of intelligence as certainly as it is of destruction. Fire spells can invoke raging firestorms as well as inspiration and creativity.
WATER (Str & Wis): Water washes away stains and tarnish, and so it is the element of clarity. But water is also adaptable and can fit into any container which is why Water also represents transformation.
A Shugenja's quantity of spells is directly based on their ability scores.
For every 7 points worth of ability scores, the Shugenja can cast one spell per day (round down). Example: a Shugenja with all of his ability scores at 14 could cast 12 spells per day (14+14+14+14+14+14=84, 84 divided by 7 equals 12). All Shugenja start with the Sense, Commune, Summon, and Counterspell scrolls, as well as a number of scrolls equal to their Wisdom modifier (minimum of 1).
SCRIBE SCROLL: This is NOT the Item Creation Feat of the same name. Scrolls that Shugenja use are distinctly different from the scrolls that clerics and wizards use, and only other Shugenja would understand them.
ABILITY INCREASES: Shugenjas get twice as many ability increases as other characters because of their strong attunement with all of the elements.
CASTING A SPELL: Every spell has a DC that the Shugenja must roll against. He uses his Spellcasting bonus (based on level) and adds his Element bonus (or penalty, see above) for that spell to the roll.
PREPERATION: By doubling the casting time of a spell, the Shugenja can receive a +5 bonus toward casting the spell. Alternately, the Shugenja can take a -5 penalty to lower the casting time by 1 round (minimum of 1 action).
RAISES: Some spells mention that the Shugenja is capable of raising the DC for casting the spell, these are called raises. There is a way Shuganja can avoid raising the DC for a spell and receive raises. A Shugenja can spend an extra spell slot for the day to receive a raise on the spell they are casting.
RITUALS: Some spells are designed as rituals, in which any number of Shugenja can participate in the casting. Each participating Shugenja adds their Spellcasting bonus (modified by Element score) to the lead Shugenja's roll against the DC of the spell. Any Shugenja participating in the ritual can be the lead caster. A ritual can be cast by a single Shugenja, but a standard spell cannot be performed as a ritual.
CONCENTRATION: Each Shugenja spell has a Concentration level, since Shugenja spells are not categorized by levels, this is used to determine the DC of a COncentration check is the spell is interrupted by the Shugenja taking damage or being distracted. Spells that require no concentration cannot be interrupted, except by magic dispelling effects or a Counterspell. Total -15, Full -10, Focused -6, Casual -3, None = no roll.
MASTERY: Each Shugenja spell has a MAstery level, this number tells at what level the Shugenja must be before the spell becomes an "innate ability" and he no longer requires a scroll to cast it. A spell must be known for at least two levels of the Shugenja's career before he can master it. A spell with a Mastery of 7 can become "innate" for a Shugenja who learned the spell at 5tgh level or earlier, but only if the Shugenja is 7th level. Note that the four basic spells for all Shugenja start Mastered, and a spell with a Mastery of 3 can be mastered at 3rd level if it was one of the Shugenja's starting spells.

SENSE (basic spell)
Casting: 2 rounds, DC 10Save/SR: none / no
Range/Area: 60 foot radiusConcentration: none
Duration: instantaneousMastery: automatic

COMMUNE (basic spell)
Casting: 1 round, DC 10Save/SR: none / no
Range/Area: see descriptionConcentration: Focused
Duration: 1 roundMastery: automatic

SUMMON (basic spell)
Casting: 3 rounds, DC 20Save/SR: none / no
Range/Area: 1/2 cubic footConcentration: none
Duration: PermanentMastery: automatic

COUNTERSPELL (basic spell)
Casting: 1 action, DC 20Save/SR: none / no
Range/Area: line of sightConcentration: none
Duration: instantaneousMastery: automatic
When cast, a Shugenja must target another Shugenja who is in the process of casting a spell. The Shugenja must summon energies that directly oppose the Element of the spell being cast. Opposing Elements= Earth and Air, Fire and Water. If cast successfully, this spell raises the DC of the spell the opposing Shugenja is casting by 10 plus the level of the Shugenja casting Counterspell.

And THAT, is apparently, all of the notes I still have saved from this experiment. I know that I wrote up a few of the L5R spells, because I remember having Benevolent Protection on a 3x5 index card. I don't know what happened to the index cards I used, or the notes I had for the spells PCs learned, but outside of my friend's personal playtest, I used Shugenja in a short D&D campaign that lasted a few sessions and they worked really well. Rereading these notes now, there are obviously some gaps that need to be filled, and I wonder how high level play would look, but it's rekindled my interest into going back to Rokugan.

UPDATE: I found another piece of paper tucked away in a notebook that has a few spells written up: Benevolent Protection, Bo of Water, Call Upon the Wind, The Fires That Cleanse, Immortal Steel, Know the Mind, Mists of Illusion, Tempest of Air, and Wings of Fire. Plus, some basic stats for three Shugenja with examples of each spell.