L5R A Deadly Assignment
Scorpion clan Info
The Scorpion Clan was founded by the Kami Bayushi. The clan and its members are widely considered to be villainous and untrustworthy by the rest of Rokugan, though they merely attempt to fulfill the duty given to their family by the First Emperor on the day of his ascension.
While the Crane is the Emperor’s left hand and the Lion his right, the Scorpion is often referred to as the Underhand of the Emperor. It is a family of spies, manipulators, and assassins who value loyalty and duty and for whom the ends justify the means. The samurai of the Scorpion clan understand that by dirtying their hands, they ensure that no others need do so.
Following the Day of Thunder however, the clan gained another important duty. The twelve Black Scrolls used to seal the power of Fu Leng were entrusted to the Scorpion for safekeeping. The shugenja of the Yogo family have traditionally been the guardians of the Scrolls, adding to their sinister reputation, though only the Bayushi daimyo himself knows the location of all twelve.
Masks – All Scorpion samurai wear masks, as the Kami Bayushi did, to honor their immortal founder. The style of the mask varies wildly by the wielder, and is always an extremely personal choice. Scorpion take their masks very seriously, and some would no sooner be seen without their mask than without their daisho.
The Scorpion and the Frog – Almost all Scorpion are familiar with Shinsei’s retelling of the tale of the Scorpion and the Frog to Bayushi. To some, it is the crucial historical moment when Bayushi realized his role in the Empire; to others, it serves as a classic reminder of the first lesson that any young Scorpion learns: nothing is ever as it seems. This tale is the reason why all Scorpion wear their masks at all times.
Birth – Childbirth is a welcome event in Scorpion lands. It is an event to be remembered, with the lucky parents celebrating for several days. The lords of the Scorpion often excuse the father of an infant from his duties for a few days so that he may commemorate the birth properly.
Scorpion peasants are generally not treated as well as peasants from other clans, so this custom mitigates their resentment toward the samurai caste. In larger villages someone, somewhere, is always having a child, so there are constant festivities. In the samurai caste this custom strengthens the bonds of loyalty within the family. A newborn Scorpion is welcomed from the first moment of his life. Relatives and friends pay their respects and offer their protection.
If there is one thing the Scorpion take very seriously, it is a celebration. Though most such festivities serve as mere excuses to invite guests into the household (to gain some advantages or favors) childbirth is an exception. Only family members and close friends may visit the household following a Scorpion birth. An outsider is only admitted if trusted utterly. He who participates in honoring a Scorpion birth
- and this does not happen often - is a Scorpion in the clan’s eyes.
Twins are lucky, representing Scorpion friends or lovers from a past life so loyal to each other that they died at the same instant, thus re-entering life together. Also, as Bayushi himself was Shiba’s twin, the birth of twins invokes the clan’s founder.
Triplets are not viewed with the same joy. The number three is extremely unlucky to the Scorpion, so the birth of three children at once is a dire omen.
Gempukku – Though some clans are secretive about their gempukku ceremonies, the Scorpion are not. Everyone is invited, including visitors from other clans and even strangers who happen to be in the area. A placard is posted outside a household for a week before a gempukku ceremony begins, giving the young samurai’s name, parents, sensei and dojo, and inviting all to attend.
The candidate is introduced to everybody in attendance and personally presents a gift to every guest. Ideally the candidate will have created these gifts with his own hands, though extremely wealthly families sometimes “lend” their children koku to purchase expensive gifts. A number of generic gifts, called “face gifts”, are set aside for unexpected guests. These gifts do not have to be created personally by the youth. This is not an insult to the unexpected guests, but a sign of respect toward those invited.
Following the young samurai’s rather traditional initiation ceremony, sake flows and all present take off their masks to enjoy themselves. The highest-ranking samurai never remove their masks, symbolizing that the Scorpion Clan must always retain some secrets. Entertainment is provided and a good time is had by all.
Courtship – Later that evening, after the guests depart, the true ceremony begins. The young samurai is not informed of this phase in advance so this often comes as a surprise. The samurai is taken to a private room by his sensei, and is asked the guests’ names and what he learned by how each one reacted to their gift. If the young samurai’s answers are satisfactory, then he is given his first mask and welcomed as a true Scorpion. Those who fail are given only a scrap of cloth to cover their face, symbolic of the rough scrap Bayushi wore until he could find a true mask. This scrap is immediately recognizable by an adult Scorpion but meaningless to everyone else. Some samurai choose to continue wearing this simple mask even after they have proven themselves to their sensei’s satisfaction, as the progress they have made. Scorpion are forbidden to speak of this ceremony, and vehemently deny its existence. To talk about it would ruin its purpose: testing the future agents of the clan without their prior knowledge. A Scorpion must always be prepared.
Those rare Shosuro who are chosen to receive kage yakiin (shadow brands) are branded during this second ceremony. Samurai who learned a great deal about their guests are branded on the back, underarm, or other areas that can be easily hidden. Those who learned nothing are branded in areas difficult to conceal or, in some cases, not branded at all.
In a clan that takes as much pride in family and politics as the Scorpion, courtship is taken very seriously. Marriages are arranged well in advance, always to benefit the family. Marriages for the sake of love are rarer in this clan than in any other. A Scorpion may marry only once. If that marriage is not to the clan’s benefit, than he has betrayed the clan through his selfishness.
Samurai weddings are always presided over by a Soshi shugenja. A Yogo presiding bodes ill, even if the shugenja in question has already fulfilled his Yogo Curse. A Yogo officiating the wedding might well invite the family curse onto the marriage. Even Yogo family members avoid such a thing.
Like most Scorpion ceremonies, weddings are great celebrations open to all. Though the initial ceremonies are as stately and reserved as any Rokugani wedding, the subsequent festivities are notorious for their vigor. Even a normally controlled Scorpion samurai relaxes his facade somewhat to display true emotion, crying openly or dancing in joy at the union. Some who know the Scorpion well theorize that this is yet another ploy, intended to draw their guests into lowering their guard. Although the Scorpion seldom refuse such an advantage when it presents itself, they take a sincere joy in weddings. Scorpion see their loyalty to their family as a matter of honor, and the opportunity to share that loyalty by inviting another to their clan fills the heart of a Scorpion with happiness that few outside the clan can ever understand.
The Scorpion see arranged marriages as contracts. Backing out effectively declares war on the other party’s family. Any samurai who reneges on a Scorpion marriage can expect immediate retribution. Only a moderator of higher social status than either of the engaged samurai can break off a Scorpion marriage without creating bad blood between both parties, and then only well in advance. A samurai who abandons or mistreats his Scorpion spouse earns the ire of the spouse’s entire family, even if the spouse marries outside the clan and is no longer technically considered a Scorpion.
Peasant marriages in the Scorpion provinces are also matters of great revelry. They are usually presided over by monks rather than shugenja; samurai rarely attend. The bride and groom wear masks during the ceremony (a practice normally not indulged in by Scorpion peasants) to remind them whom they serve.
Superstition – For a clan that prides itself on logic, the Scorpion are highly superstitious. Rokugan is a world filled with spirits that can become wrathful if not placated. Superstition keeps harmony with the spirit world, so the Scorpion may disregard the wrath of invisible ghosts and continue living in a world based firmly upon logic. They do not dwell on their numerous superstitions. A Scorpion samurai says the prayers he needs to say, dons whatever fetishes or talismans he needs to wear that day, and thinks no more on the matter. Many of these superstitions are considered strange among other clans, for example, sprinkling salt on a new garment or never stepping backward through a threshold.
Rats are thought to be lucky, for they serve Daikoku, revered by the clan. Those who kill rats are advised to visit a temple of Daikoku and beg for forgiveness. Cats are creatures of ill omen who kill rats and anger Daikoku. The Scorpion often must keep cats on hand to prevent rats from getting out of control, but attempt to avert Daikoku’s wrath by giving their cats rude and unflattering names.
Scorpions have many superstitions regarding beauty, especially with regard to women. It is said that a girl born with green eyes cannot tell a lie, and to force her to do so draws the wrath of the kami. A woman who does not cut her hair will be faithful to her husband. A samurai who resembles his mother more than his father will grow to be faithful, and trustworthy, especially if the mother (and thus, the samurai) was especially beautiful.
The number three is incredibly unlucky, as Bayushi was the third to fall in the Tournament of the Kami to determine the first Emperor. Scorpion never leave home in a group of three. It is better by far to find a fourth, or leave in two separate groups.
War – Though the true power lies in the courts, the Scorpion are a clan of warriors. Their army is not large compared to the Lion, Crab, or Unicorn forces, but the wise general does not relish facing a Bayushi general on the battlefield.
The Scorpion deserve their reputation for ruthlessness in battle. They believe that unnecessary bloodshed weakens the Empire, so the most honorable way to end a battle is rapidly. If this means that a Scorpion must poison the enemy’s supplies, hire a ninja to assassinate the opposing general, or pay the enemy’s ronin mercenaries to double-cross them, then that is acceptable. It was Akodo who said that, “On the battlefield, all actions are honorable.” For the Scorpion, truer words were never spoken.
Failure, of course, is another matter. Scorpion cannot abide failure in battle. For a Scorpion to fail means that all of his dirty tricks, diversions, and underhanded maneuvers were for naught, and thus he has truly been dishonored. Of course, for many Scorpions failure is a relative term. A wily Scorpion general may allow a Lion to triumph on the field of battle and see no dishonor in it if the Lion’s victory serves a higher purpose for the Scorpion.
Retirement – Scorpion samurai look forward to retirement, the great reward for a life of service to the Empire. While a Crab or Lion may look upon a retired samurai with disdain, regretting the lost opportunity to die in service to the Emperor, the Scorpion do not see things this way. Dying for the Empire is good and noble, but living for the Empire is better.
Retired Scorpion samurai are viewed with silent awe. Young samurai show their elders the greatest respect. A samurai seeking guidance would be well advised to visit the remote monasteries in the Bayushi provinces and listen to their retired samurai.
Walking the way of the Scorpion is dangerous indeed, and any samurai clever enough to become an old Scorpion and retire in peace is a hero.
Funerals – Scorpion funerals are strange events, celebrated with as much joy and enthusiasm as a marriage, gempukku, or childbirth. The Scorpion believe that a samurai who served the clan loyally will be rewarded in death, his soul invited into Bayushi’s hidden cavern to share secrets with the First Scorpion. When a samurai dies, the Scorpion tell tales of his loyalty and honor, hoping that Bayushi will overhear the tales and wish to know more.
Like Scorpion marriages and gempukku, all who wish to attend a Scorpion funeral are welcome. Scorpion make a special point of inviting their enemies to clan funerals, especially any enemy responsible for the death. To invite enemies from outside the clan requires the Scorpion Champion’s permission, for under Scorpion law such an invitation is an open challenge. Enemies who answer the invitation must be supremely confident or totally unaware of this tradition.
These conventions apply only to Scorpion who died with honor. Scorpion who died disloyal to their clan are seldom given a proper burial. Often their corpses are beheaded and left prone in the field, to be devoured by wild animals. Those who betray the Scorpion are captured alive are more unfortunate still. They are brought to the depths of Traitor’s Grove, where Scorpion shugenja use a painful process to permanently trap their souls in a tree. Their personal possessions are left hanging from the tree limbs, though thieves know to stay well away. The ghosts of Traitor’s Grove enact a terrible curse upon any who steal from it, imposing a painful lingering death.
The Scorpion say that as the tree grows, its bark cuts through the traitor’s soul, causing great pain. On quiet nights, one can hear the traitors’ moans in the grove, begging forgiveness. On quiet nights, most avoid the grove
- Capital: Kyuden Bayushi
- Population: 1,810,000 (approx)
- Military: 102,000 samurai
- Imports: Raw Materials
- Exports: Information
- Bayushi family
- Shosuro family
- Soshi family
- Yogo family
Bayushi family: * Kyuden Bayushi (S10) * Hotei Seido (S12) * Shutai (S13)
Shosuro family: * Shiro no Shosuro (S5) * Nihai Tower (S6) * The Howling Fields * Ginasutra (S9)
Soshi family: * Shiro no Soshi * Pokau (S1) * Kashi Mura * First Breath Dojo (S15) * Shrine of the Shadow’s Eye (S16)
Yogo family: * Kagoki (S11) * Yogo Towers * Yogo Shiro (S7) * Beiden (S8)
Other Scorpion holdings: * Ryoko Owari (S3)