Don't worry; this isn't about to become a political blog. If anything, it's more important than ever you sit down and throw dice with folks who think differently than you, look different than you, work differently than you do...
I'll always enjoy sitting around a table with folks I know the best, but we live a wired world, and now it's a great time to connect and game with people around the country, around the world. It's like voting: it is both critically important and potentially disastrous.
So, let's talk about Fortunes.
Every character at creation gains Minor Fortunes for free equal to their Void; a Major Fortune is worth 2 Minor ones. Optionally, you may renounce a single Bushido Virtue to gain another Major Fortune (see Virtue, Glory, & Honor further on in this chapter), but must accept the consequences.
Some Fortunes can be bought after character creation, or taken away during play. Each Fortune has a descriptor indicating whether it can be purchased or lost during play.
- Innate: Cannot be purchased or removed normally during play. The Boons and Curses are equal parts circumstance and fate, material and spiritual, worldly and celestial; they cannot be removed with Renkinjutsu, unless by direct intervention involving the Fortunes or higher celestial spirits.
- Trained: Can be purchased, but will usually cost time and effort. Minor Fortunes cost 2 Season Actions to develop; Major Fortunes cost 4 Season Actions.
- Granted: Can be purchased or removed, but only if the opportunity presents itself during play, often as a great boon or doom.
There are also four special classes of Fortunes: Blessings of the Seven, Loyal Retainers, Sacred Items, and Yokai Blood. These are purchased and treated just like any other Fortune, but each has its own special considerations.
Blessings of the Seven
The Seven Fortunes of Luck are revered beings in Hachigoku's cosmology, even among the lower castes. Their influence can be seen in the lives of those favored by their close patronage in the form of a Blessing. Blessings, like their progenitors and all other Fortunes, have Boons and Curses. Members of the Seven each have ancestral ties to certain kingdoms; samurai from these regions can treat their patron Fortune's Blessing as a Minor Fortune.
All Blessings are innate, but should the samurai have the temerity to displease the patron Fortune personally, they are capable of stripping their Blessing. Or just stripping the offender of the Boon and leaving the Curse, depending on their anger.
Assuming you serve a daimyo, you have access to a number of servants in their employee for daily tasks, and even more depending on your Obligations. You yourself are a loyal retainer, after all. However, there are those servants who stand above others in loyalty and expertise. Perhaps they've served your family for years, and been passed onto you as an individual. Perhaps you saved them from calamity, and in return they swear themselves to your service. Perhaps you were awed by some creation or other display of expertise, and promised them patronage in return for unswerving loyalty.
Whatever the circumstances, such a loyal retainer is always of the lower caste and their expenses are at your cost. You don't need to worry much about paperwork over their service; their daily needs are considered part of your usual stipend. Each servant is a Kaonashi character with Rank 1; you can increase their Rank one step by spending 2 Season Actions, or buying this Fortune multiple times at character creation. Each purchase increases the retainer's Rank by one step, or purchases another loyal retainer. They can be promoted to Namae status just like any other Kaonashi, but you lose any Boons or Curses they grant you.
Different types of loyal retainer have their own Skills, and bring their own set of Boons and Curses to your service. Of course, any retainer might be slain, as well; such a valuable servant is not easily replaced.
Samurai relish the tools of their trade: weapons, armor, and other less obviously deadly items. While not as clearly dangerous as a blade, in Hachigoku the rustle of a silk kimono or sly eyes behind a courtly fan kill just as surely. Their makers all have little idiosyncrasies in their work passed down from generation to generation; they are no less tradition-bound than their samurai counterparts. Some traditions are more famous, more powerful than others. Sacred Items reflect these superior weapons, armor, and other accoutrements as they are re-gifted down through generations.
All Sacred Items share the following Boons and Curses:
- Boon: The item replaces a normal item in your outfit. If your outfit does not contain one, you cannot have this Fortune at character creation. It is Fine Quality, granting a +1k0 to Skill rolls involving it; any other bonus provided takes this into account. You gain +1 Glory when you receive the item, at creation or during play.
- Curse: If the item should ever be lost, destroyed, or stolen, you immediately lose 1 Virtue and 1 Glory. If possible, restoring the item to your possession regains 1 Virtue. Some items have only this Curse, and no more.
Somewhere within the branches of your part of the family tree is a twisting, alien vine merging in your blood and bone. A samurai fell in love with a yokai, or a yokai tricked the samurai into laying with them. There may even have been a darker pact with local spirits. Whatever the case, their descendents manifest peculiar yokai traits once or twice in a generation, and become the focus of mystic trouble. All the various strains of yokai-human progeny have the following Boons and Curses:
- Boon: You already have one foot in the spirit world; any Renkinjutsu and Shingaku rolls you make (skilled or unskilled) have Simple difficulty. All social rolls made involving nonhumans also gain Simple difficulty.
- Curse: Others feel uncomfortable around you, even if they do not actually know your ancestry; all social rolls you make with normal people (both samurai and commoners) have Moderate difficulty.
While the list of yokai who might interbreed with humanity is quite extensive, they are usually restricted to those who can wear a humanoid guise. Choose from the four below; they are not the only possibilities, but they are the most common. Each may have their own additional Boons and Curses, and might have a reduction in cost. Yokai blood is also jealous; whatever your ancestry, you may only have one Yokai Blood Fortune.
Fortunes: A Selection
The actual rules have dozens of Fortunes, but I didn't want to make this another chopped up listing. So instead, I'm only going to list a few Fortunes as examples: a standard one, a Blessing, a Loyal Retainer, a Sacred Item, and a Yokai Blood.
Sidebar: Fortune Format
Fortune Name (Cost) (Type)
Fortune Name: The name of the Fortune. This may be prefaced by a descriptor if it is a Blessing of the Seven, Loyal Retainer, or Sacred Item.
Cost: Lists whether the Fortune is Minor or Major. The Fortune may also be limited to a certain kind of samurai (Bushi only, Ronin only, etc.), or may be a different cost for certain samurai (Minor for Ii samurai). If it has a discounted cost, any samurai with the right qualification (they may be a member of the Ii family, Ii uji, or Ii Discipline, for instance) applies the discount.
Type: Whether a Fortune is innate, trained, or granted.
Description: The flavor text and broad outlines of the Fortune.
Boon: The mechanical benefits.
Curse: The mechanical drawbacks.
Ancient Battlefields (Minor) (Innate)
- Your family has an ancient tradition of valor on the battlefield; almost any notable battle in Hachigoku's history counts one of your ancestors among the warriors, and you can name them all. The insight of your battle-hardened ancestors still aids you today.
- Boon: You gain a Free Raise on all attack or defense rolls in a Skirmish or Battle, and can spend an Honor to change any Battle Action targeting you in a Battle from one kind of “Ground” (Contentious Ground, Deadly Ground, etc.) into another.
- Curse: You have a Moderate difficulty applied to all Jutsugaku or Chonin Skill rolls outside of a Skirmish or Battle.
Blessing of the Seven: Benten (Major, Minor for Nigoku samurai) (Innate)
Benten is the patron goddess of the arts and elegance, and snakes serve as her messengers. Those she favors find themselves gifted with their hands and voices, but her jealous streak haunts their lives.
- Boon: All Artisan and Performance rolls made by you have Simple difficulty, and so do all social rolls involving artists and entertainers. Also, you are immune to snake venom and can talk to all natural, normal snakes as if you were an onmyoji talking to kami.
- Curse: What's yours is yours. Your daimyo? Your family? Your otokodate even? Yours. And not truly worthy of anybody else; it's not like anyone could do your calling justice except you, after all. All social rolls involving members of your own faction and Discipline have a Moderate difficulty; this may cancel bonuses from your Boon. It is difficult to let go of a dueling challenge; you can only resist by making a simple TN Virtue roll. In a Romance, you can never be the one to end it, and when it does end you can only gain the Heartbroken Fortune, not work towards the Lost Love Fortune.
Loyal Retainer: Artist (Minor) (Granted)
You have a skilled artist for whom you are their primary patron. They produce paintings, sculptures, theater performances, or any other form of art covered by Aspects of Artisan or Performance. The artist excels at a single Aspect, the free one granted by their chosen Skill.
- Skills: Artisan or Performance, Commerce, Etiquette
- Boon: Their fame becomes yours. You gain Honor equal to their Rank at the beginning of each Story, and all social rolls involving one of their productions have Simple difficulty.
- Curse: An artist is a fickle creature. Each Season you must roll for Trouble with the artist as if they were an Obligation. If they are Troubled, you gain no benefits from their Boon. You may spend a Season Action to Quell Trouble as normal, or request a Story to resolve the matter.
Sacred Item: Ancestral Armor (Minor) (Granted)
Your family hands down a suit of revered armor down through the generations, and judges you worthy to carry on the tradition. Don't let them down.
- Boon: This is either light or heavy armor, and replaces the respective armor in your Outfit. It is considered a tsukugami. All active Defense rolls made in the armor gain additional unkept dice equal to your Virtue.
Yokai Blood: Kitsune (Major, Minor for Kinoshita samurai) (Innate)
Women dominate the descendents of kitsune; even men tend to be have delicate features and a willowy slenderness.
- Boon: You gain the Touch of the Moon Fortune for free, and any who break an oath to you lose all Virtue and Honor.
- Curse: There are always telltale signs of your magical ancestry, choose one: you have a coat of fine hair on your body, only discernible up close; your shadow is in the shape of a fox; your reflection is that of a fox; dogs and cats avoid you and growl in your presence, and approaching them leaves them cowering. Any who can use the Eyes of the Kami ability immediately sense your kitsune nature. The difficulty of any social rolls you make against those who detect your magical gifts increase 1 step.