All disadvantages reprinted w/out permission from the main source book and supplements to the L5R RPG (1st edition, now out of print)



A Home in Ashes (Bearers of Jade)

1 point

Your immediate filmily lies dead, butchered by Shadowlands creatures. Besides having no kin to speak for you or to call on for aid, you cannot use the Kharma rule with this character, and have no lands or savings to attract a spouse.

Adopted Blood (Way of the Unicorn)

1 point per rank

Your parents were adopted (or perhaps you were). You must prove yourself to overcome the stigma of being a recent addition to the clan. For each point spent, you must gain an extra five points of Glory before you move up a Glory Rank. Each time you go up a Glory Rank, this penalty drops by five.

Antisocial (Way of the Lion)

2 or 4 points

You have difficulty getting along with others. Perhaps this manifests as shyness, troubled speech, discomfort around people, or even bouts of depression. Whatever the symptoms, you find it hard to communicate your feelings properly or withdraw from contact with others.
Moderately Antisocial: 2 points. All social skills keep 1 fewer die.
Extremely Antisocial: 4 points. All social skills keep 2 fewer dice.
This may result in the character keeping zero dice, which is an automatic failure.

Ascetic (Way of the Dragon)

3 points

You aren't interested in material wealth or temporal power, glory or gaudy fashion. This world is only a transitional place between one reality and the next, and you have passed beyond the need to cling to it.
Ascetic bushi own one kimono, one pair of sandals, one obi, and their daisho. Ascetic shugenja own one kimono, one pair of sandals, one obi, and a pouch full of scrolls.
Maybe - maybe - they own a hat.
These are the only material objects you will ever own. You are unconcerned with Glory, but Honor is still very important. After all, a liar is concerned with the immediate consequences of his actions, and thus, clinging to a material world.

Bad Fortune (L5R RPG)

1 point

A character with Bad Fortune puts his fate in the hands of the GM. The GM makes a secret roll on the table below (or just chooses one of the options). Some of the results are obvious ("evil eye," allergy, etc.) but others are less so. You may not take this disadvantage more than once.
Few of the outcomes on the list below have any effect on game mechanics, but all can cause roleplaying challenges. You have been warned!
Bad Fortune Table:

  1. Someone is secretly in love with you and will go to great lengths to mess up your current love life (if any) to make room for their affections.
  2. You have a disfiguring scar or birthmark: the mark of being born under a bad sign. Just touching you can cause bad luck. Good luck getting a massage.
  3. You lack one item from your standard outfit.
  4. You have an allergy to a common item. Tobacco smoke, sushi, silk, and cotton are all good examples.
  5. You have the "evil eye" (one of your eyes is discolored). People tend to avoid your gaze and whisper about evil spirits as you pass by.
  6. One of these days, one roll - a very important roll - is going to fail completely. You won't even need to make the roll. You won't get to use Luck or any other mechanic to salvage the situation. It's your destiny. Accept it.
  7. You have an enemy in another Clan. You won't even know you've developed this enemy until it's far too late, of course.
  8. Your father has accrued a great gambling debt that you will have to pay off. Soon. Very soon.
  9. You just haven't gotten the hang of one of your skills just yet. All TNs for one skill are at +5. You may spend one Experience Point to get rid of this Bad Fortune.
  10. Roll again twice on this table; ignore this roll.

Bad Health (L5R RPG)

3 points

A character with Bad Health has his Wound Ranks figured as if his Stamina were one Rank lower. A character cannot take this disadvantage if his Stamina is 1.

Bad Reputation (L5R RPG)

2 points

You've already earned yourself a bad reputation in Rokugan. Whenever other samurai see you, they add a die to the recognition roll, but they begin with a bad impression of your character. You should choose a single word to define your character.

Bad Sight (Way of the Naga)

2 points

A common ailment among the Naga is poor eyesight, from a mild cataract condition, to full and permanent blindness. With this Disadvantage, the PC's sight is impaired, and he rolls two fewer dice for all sight-based Perception checks.

Benten's Curse (L5R RPG)

2 points

There is just something about you that others find repulsive. Add an additional die to any fear or intimidation attempts, but subtract two dice from any attempts at cordiality or etiquette.

Bitter Betrothal (Kyuden Kakita)

3 points

Your character is betrothed. Unfortunately, the marriage is not destined to be a happy one. Perhaps your spouse-to-be is a member of an enemy house or clan. Maybe he or she is just an arrogant, obnoxious boor, or you're in love with someone else. Whatever the case, your family has plans for you to marry and expects you to submit to their will. The wedding is planned sometime within the next year, and you do not look forward to it. What's worse, your intended isn't fond of the idea, either. At best, you're doomed to live in a cold and bitter home, shackled by a political marriage. At worst, your spouse may be a spy, and your marriage may be part of a greater plot to weaken and destroy your family from within. The exact details are left up to the GM.

Black Sheep (L5R RPG)

5 points

You've been ostracized from your family. You have no family ties - although you may purchase some with the Allies advantage. Any samurai from your Clan who see you are expected to treat you as if you were eta (so don't go offending them or you'll find yourself in a duel). You may not attend your family school beyond Rank 1 and must find another school to attend.

Bounty (Way of the Wolf)


A price has been placed upon the head of the ronin for a crime, although whether or not he is guilty is between the player and the GM. The level of the Disadvantage depends upon the nature of the crime, which also determines the amount of the bounty and the nature of those who hunt the ronin in order collect it. A ronin accused of a minor offense likely only be hunted by magistrates from the province where the offense took place, or other ronin who simply want the bounty. A violent offense, however, means that magistrates in lands of all the Great Clans have heard of the offense and are watching for the ronin, who will likely be executed in very short order if captured. It is even possible that a Wasp Bounty Hunter may pursue a character responsible for such a heinous act.

Points:SeverityBountyTN (to be recognized)
2 points:Minor Offense1-5 koku25
4 points:Serious Offense10 koku15
6 points:Violent Offense20 koku10

Brash (L5R RPG)

2 points

Characters with this disadvantage are hot-headed. They seek to avenge any slight on their honor; they must make an Honor roll (TN=20) in order to keep control.

Broken Daisho (Way of the Wolf)

3 or 5 points

A ronin's daisho is all he has to validate his claim to his samurai heritage. If his daisho is 1ost he is no more than a common peasant. Additionally, the katana is the primary means by which a ronin plies his trade. Whether as a yojimbo, doshin, or the guardian of a simple village, ronin needs his blade to execute his duty. A ronin whose wakizashi has been broken still has his katana to support himself, but he suffers from the stigma of having his honor broken. A ronin with a broken wakizashi (3 points) rolls one fewer die during social interactions with those of the samurai caste. A broken wakizashi may reforged into a tanto or aiguchi. A broken katana is of significantly more import. The katana is the soul of a samurai. Without it, his place in the Celestrial Order is questioned. A ronin with a broken katana (5 points) keeps one fewer die in social interactions with other samurai. A broken katana can be reforged into a wakizashi, but it is it does 1k2 damage and leaves a very jagged edge when it cuts. Obviously this Disadvantage can be removed by a new sword, but unless the ronin is singularly dishonorable, he will keep the broken sword of his ancestors, thereby keeping the penalties as well.

Can't Lie (L5R RPG)

3 points

A character with this disadvantage just can't tell a good lie. Whenever he tries, he fails. The party listening doesn't even need to make a roll.

Cast Out (Way of the Shinsei)

3, 6 or 9 points

Somehow you caught the attention of a religious sect or certain temple, and not in a flattering way. Those who are aware of your indiscretion treat you with little more than scorn, while holy men who know your history see you as practically filth. The more points spent on this Disadvantage, the bigger the temple or more widespread the tale of your blasphemy.

Chemical Dependency (L5R RPG)

3 points

This character is addicted. The two most predominant addictions in Rokugan are alcohol (sake) and opium. He needs to feed his addiction on regular intervals or he loses a die on all rolls for ever day (or so) he goes without feeding his addiction.

Colorblind (Way of the Crane)

1 point

The Doji tend to have eyes that are paler than most of Rokugan's natives, and sometimes this causes colorblindness. The Colorblind character can see colors as shades of gray, but cannot tell the difference between shades. This tends to make certain tasks more difficult, such as identifying a Clan's mon.

Compulsion (L5R RPG)

2, 3, or 4 points

You have an uncontrollable urge (drinking, gambling, a love of geisha) that gets you into trouble. You must make an Honor roll every time you confront your compulsion to keep you from losing control. The cost of compulsions depends on the TN of your Honor roll:
TN = 15 : 2 points
TN = 20 : 3 points
TN = 25 : 4 points

Contrary (Way of the Phoenix)

3 points

A player character with this disadvantage may not remain neutral about anything. He does not have to act, but must have an opinion about each and every thing he encounters. This means that the player must take a side in every dispute, seek to solve every problem (even if he can't), and never settle to stand by idly while others do things. In game terms, this means that he must make a simple Willpower roll vs. a TN determined by the GM (commonly between 5 and 20) to avoid acting in tense situations. Should he fail the roll, he must do something decisive, regardless of the consequences.

Coward (Way of the Lion)

3 or 6 points

You are secretly afraid. It might be that you lack confidence in your own abilities, or that you are sure that everyone is better than you are. Whatever the case, you roll and keep fewer dice when facing an opponent with a higher Glory.
Moderate Cowardice: 3 points, 4 for Lion characters. Roll and keep one fewer dice when facing an opponent with higher Glory than you.
Extreme Cowardice: 6 points, 8 for Lion characters. Roll and keep two fewer dice when facing an opponent with higher Glory than you.
You may spend a Void Point to ignore this penalty for one round.

Cruel (Winter Court)

3 points
4 for Otomo

The Imperial Court is prone to create people with very different tastes from the rest of Rokugan. Cruel people are not an exception. Beyond being uncaring, a cruel person delights in the suffering of others. In Rokugan, there are few that would be considered so dishonorable as to take pleasure in the pain of others, but there are those who think nothing more enjoyable than watching a samurai squirm. The cruelty need not manifest itself as physical, but instead could be just glee in making someone dance on their strings.
A Cruel person can never spend tier last Void Point, nor raise their Void Ring above their lowest other Ring. In addition, their Awareness is considered one less when interacting with anyone socailly, and their Honor is one full point lower during honor tests. A truly cruel character is expected to behave in a cruel manner, and if ever caught engaging in a cruel act, may suffer greatly for their transgressions.

Curse of the Kami (Way of the Phoenix)

10 points

You have little connection to the Elements beyond that required to grant you sentience. Any spell you are trying to cast has its TN increased by 10 and takes twice as long to cast. You can never learn any school Techniques or develop any of your own.

Dark Fate (Way of the Wolf)

3 points

This is the opposite of the Great Destiny Advantage. Your character can achieve great things in his day, but his death will be spoken of in hushed whispers, if at all. Some enormous failure will mark the end of his days: he may be the one whose mistake results in the Shadowlands overrunning the wall, or his misstatement may result in a costly war against another clan, or perhaps he will simply become Tainted and turn against the people of Rokugan. Only a premature death via battle or seppuku can stop this fate. Once per story, when the character takes damage that will kill him, he is reduced to 1 Wound instead. Sounds advantageous, doesn't it? In truth, he is only being kept alive to meet his dark fate, one which will damn him, his family, perhaps even the entire Empire. Death might be preferable.

Dark Secret (L5R RPG)

5 points

You are keeping a secret that would jeopardize your family's standing if it was revealed. Dark Secrets should not be taken lightly. If a character's secret is ever revealed, he will be expected to commit seppuku to clear the shame. An enemy who gains knowledge of the secret will own the character's life, holding the secret over his head with the very real threat of ruining the character's family.

Deathseeker (Way of the Lion)

7 points

You are a member of the elite Lion outcasts - the Deathseekers. Your family has been dishonored, your name erased from the records of the Lion Clan. The only way to redeem your family name is to give your life in combat against a superior foe. To achieve this, you must seek a situation where your death can benefit the clan, and you must die for the cause. Unless your family's name can be cleared, this is your only option. Remember, the ancestors do not look favorably on those who shirk their duty...
As a Deathseeker, you begin the game with no Glory, nor may you ever gain any.

Dependent (L5R RPG)

1, 2, or 4 points

You have someone who is completely dependent upon you. Who it is (a child, grandparent, etc.) is up to you, but they are helpless without you. Good examples of dependents include small children and aged grandparents, but a naive spouse could also be included as a dependent.
1 point = Adult Dependent
2 points = Elderly Dependent
4 points = Child Dependent

Disbeliever (Way of the Shinsei)

3 points

To you, the Fortunes have forsaken man. They were slave masters, and Shinsei was nothing but a hopeful parable. In the Emerald Empire such thoughts are practically treason, as they go against Hantei himself. You may or may vocal about what you think; in fact, you must try to avoid religious discussions at all costs, lest your true feelings be discovered. But remember, no matter how quiet you are or how well you lie, some say those thoughts are going to get you in trouble...

Dishonored (Way of the Lion)

3 points

You begin at Glory Rank 0 with no points. You are not a ronin, but you have to earn your Glory back. You can't spend any Experience Points you've earned until gaining Rank 1 Glory, and then can only by up to three skill Ranks, one Ring Rank, or one Trait Rank (total) per adventure.

Doubt (Kyuden Kakita)

4 points

You have a problem. You have no confidence in one of your starting skills (chosen by the GM). Though you train and train, you still don't excel. The knowledge is there, but the doubt always lingers. In game terms, every time this skill is used, the character must raise twice in order to succeed. He gains no extra benefits from these raises, and they still count towards his maximum number of Raises. This Disadvantage can eventually be conquered, but only when the skill that is plagued with Doubt is raised to a 5, and the character uses it to defeat a superior opponent to save the life of himself or another, or, in the case of a craft, to create a work of profound skill and lasting beauty (TN 45 at the very least).

Driven (L5R RPG)

3 points

This is the dark side of the Higher Purpose advantage. A character who is Driven has a single goal that he will sacrifice anything to achieve. He will turn his back on his friends and family, even sacrifice his honor to gain his goal.

Enlightened Madness (Way of the Phoenix)

1, 3, or 6 points
Phoenix shugenja only

Similar to the disadvantage from Way of the Dragon, this character has a form of permanent madness brought on by an uncontrolled release of energy within the soul. For the Phoenix, such troubles can be the result of a ritual going terribly awry, or a spell which was cast incorrectly. The form of madness triggered by later spellcasting is closely related to the original spell which was miscast. Nevertheless, every once in a while, your madness takes control, and you wake up with no memory of your actions. Every spell-induced madness is different, but all are irrevocable. Such a character must be warned: your mind is not your own, and one day, it will turn against you.
When the character is created, choose an element (Air, Earth, Fire, or Water; you may not choose Void for this disadvantage unless the character is a Void shugenja). Any spell the shugenja casts from that element could cause the character's madness to surface. A simple Willpower roll is required for the shugenja to maintain their wits. When they cast such a spell, the TN to keep their sanity is 20. A character receives 1 point for one element, 3 for two, and 6 if three elements can trigger the roll.

Enlightened Madness (Way of the Dragon)

2, 4, or 6 points
Ise zumi only

You're not quite sure what, but something is wrong. Your tattoo tapped into a dark energy, and energy too powerful for your will to control. Every once in a while, your madness takes control, and you wake up with blood on your hands and no memory of your actions.
Every Tattooed Man's madness is unique and personalized, and is (for all intents and purposes) permanent. You have heard legends of Ise zumi overcoming this madness, but you've never seen it.
Choose one of your tattoos. Whenever you summon the power of that tattoo, you must make a simple Willpower roll. If you fail the roll, you lose control of your character until the following dawn. The TN for the roll depends on how many points you take for this disadvantage.
TN = 15 : 2 points
TN = 20 : 4 points
TN = 25 : 6 points

Epilepsy (Way of the Crane)

4 points

Because the Crane families often interbreed with the Emperor's lineage, some simple genetic problems have evolved. One of these difficulties is epilepsy, a rare disease which can cause rigidity of muscles, shaking symptoms, and even death. Epilepsy is a genetic dysfunction which often arises when the character is under stress. Also, flashing lights (such as a fireworks display) can trigger a seizure. The Rokugani believe that a character with this malady has been touched by the kami, and that they are a channel for divine influences. Thus, any character who shows obvious signs of epilepsy (shaking fits, spasms, etc.) might be shunned by common society, but treated as a mystic or holy man by those brave enough to come near. When a character with Epilepsy is in a stressful situation, they must make a Willpower roll at a TN of 15 to resist a seizure. If the character enters a seizure, they may make a Willpower roll each round at a TN of 20 to end the seizure.

Fascination (Way of the Crane)

2 points

The character has a fascination with something - music, horses, ancient history - and will go to any length to learn new things about it. A character with a fascination for spellcraft might resort to stealing scrolls from other shugenja. Someone who has a fascination with horses would go to any length to purchase (or otherwise obtain) one of the finest steeds of the Unicorn, or someone who was fascinated with Naga would leap at the chance to travel into the forests of Shinomen, searching for Naga ruins, even if the forest was crawling with monsters.

Forgotten (Way of the Phoenix)

4 points

For some terrible reason, the character has been Forgotten by his clan. The ritual of Forgetting has been cast upon them, and they have been stripped of all magical ability, spellcasting knowledge and ritual lore, and may never gain any new knowledge of such things. The character must be a non-shugenja, and can never use magical items or abilities that require magical aptitude.

Forgotten Training (Way of the Wolf)

7 points

There are some among Rokugan's population of wave-men who have been without a clan for years or even decades. A young samurai cast out from his clan can survive for many years in the Emerald Empire, eventually becoming an aged ronin warrior. These older ronin have been absent from the dojo of their clans for the majority of their lives, and some have great difficulty remembering their training. This is rarely the case for a first-level Technique, as this is the basic style of fighting that the ronin practices his entire life. Higher level Techniques are much more difficult to recall. When entering a combat situation, the ronin must roll his Willpower versus TN of 10 to recall his Rank 1 Technique. Higher level Techniques require Willpower rolls at +5 to be TN per Rank of the Technique.

Forsaken (Way of the Dragon)

2 points
3 for Lion

This is a particularly bitter handicap in which, for reasons of the player and GM's devising, the PC's ancestors do not listen to or aid him in any way, shape or form. No ancestor will ever, under and circumstances, talk to you. Other Rokugani will assume that someone whose karma is so bad that their ancestors shun them completely must have done something very wrong indeed. This is not quite as bad as a true Dark Secret, but it will certainly reflect poorly on the Forsaken character should the truth ever come to light.

Frail Mind (L5R RPG)

3 points

Whenever you are the subject of a magical attack, Seduction roll, or any other task that would test your Willpower, the attacker gets to roll two additional dice.

Gaijin Name (Way of the Unicorn)

1 point
Unicorn only

You have a name that sounds foreign. It might include the letters L or V, consonant combinations like ST, KS, or TH, or end in a consonant other than N. Your name is difficult for Rokugani to pronounce, and brands you as one who consorts with "blue-eyed devils." You lose one die on all social interaction with those who are neither Unicorn nor gaijin.

Gossip (Way of the Shinsei)

5 points

You tell all your friends that they can confide in you. You're a great listener, and have heard the darkest secrets of many samurai who trust you. Unfortunately, you're not so good at keeping such entertaining information to yourself. The only thing better than being so trusted by so many people is being known as such a wealth of hidden knowledge by others. Whenever you learn a closely guarded secret or delicate information of any kind, you must make a simple Willpower roll to resist blurting it out to the next "trustworthy" friend you encounter. The TN for this roll is 5 x the Glory of the person involved. If there are many unfortunate subjects, always use the highest Glory among them.

Greed (Way of the Unicorn)

1 point per rank

You've spent too much time watching the caravan masters, and not enough learning their ways. For each Rank of Greed, your enemies get a bonus of five points on all bribery skill rolls they make. You may not make an Honor roll to resist bribery attempts.

Gullible (L5R RPG)

3 points

You have a soft spot in your heart for sob stories. You believe almost everything anyone tells you if they are convincing enough. The TN to convince you of anything is a 5.

Haunted (L5R RPG)

1, 2, or 4 points

You are haunted by the spirit of an ancestor who is not happy with you. He is distracting, insulting, and irritating, but he is also your ancestor, which means all you can do is try to do better.
1 point : The ghost only shows up once per story.
2 points : The ghost appears up to three times per story
4 points : The ghost is with you at least once a day.

Heimin (Way of the Wolf)

8 points
True Ronin only

The ronin hides the greatest secret of all: while some True Ronin can claim genuine samurai ancestry, he cannot. The ronin is the son of a farmer, merchant, craftsman, or another member of the non-samurai caste. If any samurai were to discover the truth, the ronin would be quickly and mercilessly executed for violating the Celestial Order. In addition, the ronin's complete unfamiliarity with the details of Rokugan's culture makes it very difficult for him to adapt to new situations. The cost of advancing all High Skills is doubled for the ronin, and any roll involving social interaction with samurai has its target number increased by a minimum of 5 (GM's discretion). The character's beginning Glory Rank is zero and may not be raised above zero during character creation. A character with the Heimin Disadvantage does not have to take Social Disadvantage: Ronin.

Hohei (Kyuden Kakita)

6 points
Bushi only

The character has been recruited into combat fresh from gempukku with the rank of hohei, or private. He begins as a green recruit without the techniques, skills, or Trait bonus of his school, and may not use character points to purchase more than three of the skills initially offered by his school. He is considered Rank 0. On the plus side, the character gains double the normal amount of experience points, usable only toward obtaining the starting skills of his school at Rank 1, and raising the Trait associated with his school once. When this is done, the character gains his first Technique and five experience points (the benefit of on-the-job experience). At this time, all effects of this Disadvantage are permanently lost. The GM may choose to allow this Disadvantage only in times of war.

Hostage (Kyuden Kakita)

3 points

The character was taken by another clan and made to swear fealty. Though he is considered a member of this new clan, he is neither fully trusted nor respected. His only family has turned its back on him, and he may never learn any more Techniques from them. On the plus side, the character may purchase Different School or Multiple Schools (from his new clan) for two points less.

Idealistic (Way of the Lion)

2 points

All Lion are extreme in their views of bushido. All adhere to it in at least theory, if not practice. Idealistic characters hew to a slightly more stringent code for behavior and ethics than those from the other clans. Whenever a Lion's Honor changes, points gained or lost are increased by 1 for every 5 (i.e. a 5 point gain becomes a 6 point gain, and a 1 Rank loss becomes a 12 point loss).

Insensitive (L5R RPG)

2 points

The three most important things in your life are your health, your welfare, and your wealth. You care little for the plights of others and don't make any motions to keep it a secret. You must spend a Void Point whenever you want to put yourself at risk for another.

Jealousy (Way of the Phoenix)

2 points

Because of the highly competitive nature of the Phoenix Clan, this disadvantage is common among clan members, resulting in much infighting and other problems. A person with the Jealous disadvantage must choose another character or dependent NPC, and constantly try to outdo them. Once they feel that they have successfully "beaten" the character in question, the disadvantaged character will "latch on" to another, better opponent, and continue with their sense of rivalry. Unlike the Proud or Vain disadvantages, the Jealous character does not necessarily feel they are superior - simply that they must prove themselves so, at any opportunity. With the GM's permission, this disadvantage can be attached to a skill or ability instead, and the character will be driven to constantly prove their ability with that one maneuver, particularly against anyone else who has shown aptitude with that skill.

Junshin (Way of the Scorpion)

3 points
Scorpion only

This disadvantage is a kind of specialized Black Sheep. You are legitimately honorable. You try your best to adhere to bushido, but your Scorpion blood keeps disagreeing with your "pure heart." Not only do your fellow Scorpions not completely trust you, but the rest of the Empire thinks you're just putting on another mask. Or, at the very least, you're some kind of freak.

Kitsune Taboos (Way of the Minor Clans)

1 point per rank
max 3, Fox Clan only

In order to keep themselves distant (and avoid losing their spriritual powers), the kitsune who interact with the Fox Clan have adopted several taboos which guide their behavior and mannerisms. Some human members of the Fox Clan, as well, have chosen to adopt these taboos, respecting their spiritual guides and making less likely that a visiting kitsune will be noticed. Not all Fox samurai choose to accept a taboo, but those who do follow it faithfully all their lives. It is said that a Fox who accepts the burden of a taboo is especially loved by the kitsune, and if he abides by it faithfully, will be well cared for if ever in great need.

  • The kitsune are creatures of the land and of the woods. The samurai may not harm a commoner, nor may he allow the woodland to be defiled or destroyed without cause. He must care for the needs of the common heimin, and in exchange, he will be warmly greeted and well-cared for when he visits a village.
  • The kitsune are creatures of deceit and mischief. The samurai who chooses this taboo may never tell the complete truth, and must cover their words with a veneer of falsehood. This is a dangerous taboo to accept, and the samurai must be doubly careful not to mislead his lord while still adhering to the bonds of the taboo.
  • For a spirit to become involved in the affairs of mortal man, they must be invited to take action. This taboo requires the samurai to never directly affect either a battle or any other major scenario without first having been asked to interfere. They may not enter houses unless they are invited to do so by name, and they may not offer aid until they have been asked for it.
  • The samurai cannot eat rice, but must make do with the natural berries and foods of the forest, supplemented by a diet of fish and fowl. In this way, they attune themselves to the forest, rather than to agriculture and the ways of mankind, and remember the kitsune oath to Inari, Lesser Fortune of Rice.
  • Being alone is abhorrent to many kitsune, who live for affection, dedicated attention, and mischief. Samurai who accept this taboo may never be alone, and must always be in the company of at least two other individuals - even when sleeping.
  • As with many spirits, kitsune become ill if they are not able to keep their promises, and follow their word of honor. A samurai who accepts this taboo will commit seppuku before he breaks a promise (even one given in haste), and if someone else breaks a promise to them, they will rapidly become deadly enemies.

Lame (L5R RPG)

3 points

You have a crippled leg. All rolls involving Agility are at -2.

Lechery (Way of the Unicorn)

1 point per rank

Love is more important to you than it should be to a samurai. For each Rank of Lechery, your enemies get a free raise on all Seduction skill rolls they make. You may not make an Honor roll to resist seduction attempts.

Lost Love (L5R RPG)

2 points

You once knew true love, and now it's gone. You tend to have fits of melancholy when you are reminded of your love. Whenever your love is mentioned, you lose a die from all die rolls until you spend a Void Point to bring yourself back to the present.

Low Pain Threshold (L5R RPG)

5 points

Whenever you get wounded, add an additional -1 to your Wound Penalty.

Meddler (L5R RPG)

2 points

You cannot resist getting into other people's business. You always have an opinion and enjoy sharing it with others. You know what's best for everyone and have no qualms about telling them. This can get you in a lot of trouble. The Rokugani are a very private people, and meddling in another's affairs is considered an insult - it implies that they can't take care of their own house. Sticking your nose in other people's business could get it cut off.

Missing Limb (L5R RPG)

3 points

You are missing a hand or a foot. Any appropriate TN is raised by 10.

Momoku (Way of the Phoenix)

8 points

Every Rokugani hero has the potential to achieve "greatness." Periodically, there come moments in every hero's life when he must tap into a reserve of "something extra" to perform a miraculous feat or obtain a remarkable victory. The character with the Momoku disadvantage does not have this reserve to tap into. They must rely solely on their own skill and daring to solve the problems they face.
Perhaps this is because of some dark dabbling with maho, or due to their ancestors' disgrace before, or angering of the Fortunes. Whatever the cause, this character cannot use his Void Points to boost his Traits under any circumstances. As far as he is concerned, Void is a distant, unknowable thing, and he has either turned a blind eye or is without the knack for it.

Moto Curse (Way of the Unicorn)

0 points

This disadvantage is required for all Moto characters.
Your family has been in part corrupted by the Shadowlands. While your clansmen understand your situation, other Rokugani first heard your family name in connection with the evils of that dark land, and you find yourself the victim of great prejudice. Other clans refuse to give you Glory, recognition, or awards. They won't trust you, and won't be hospitable unless pressured by other Unicorns (lose three dice on all social skills with non-Unicorns). On the other hand, they are somewhat fearful of you, so they give you no trouble, at least not to your face.

Mute (Unexpected Allies)

4 points

You cannot speak; you can act sincere, you can learn to understand foreign languages. But you cannot speak.

Nemesis (Way of the Scorpion)

5 points

The dark counterpart to the Kharmic Tie advantage, Nemesis attaches you to an enemy from a past life rather than an ally. Whenever you face your Nemesis, you cannot use Void Points.

Never Sat on a Horse (Way of the Unicorn)

1 point

You have never been on a horse, and don't know how to ride one. Even sitting on the back of a calm mare while traveling, you'll need someone to hold the reins and lead the horse for you. If you are mounted when fighting starts or something startles the horse, you are sure to fall off. You can buy this disadvantage away with one Experience Point.

Nightmares (Way of the Shadow)

2 points

You are haunted by nightmares and cannot regain Void points and spells by sleeping, but rather must do so by meditation.

Obligation (L5R RPG)

2 or 4 points

You owe someone a favor, and someday they are going to collect. An Obligation is worth 2 points if it is a small favor and 4 points if it is a large favor.
A small favor would include something that would not threaten your position and/or your family's standing, but would cause you inconvenience. A major favor would discredit you and disgrace your family if it came to light.

Obtuse (Kyuden Kakita)

1 point

You just don't get it. Poems are a meaningless babble of nonsense. Paintings are just something to cover holes in the walls. Music is a waste of time if you can't dance to it, and dancing is a waste of time unless you've drunk enough sake to drown out the music. Don't even start on that kabuki garbage. Your soul is unmoved by the finer things; even when you try, you just don't see the point. With the exception of Lore skills, Hunting, Investigation, Mountaineering, and Medicine, learning or raising any High skill costs double the normal amount. In any social or courtly situation, you must Raise your TN twice to get the effects of a single Raise. On the other hand, being numb to the finer things is not always a weakness. In the court, people tend to ignore you. They tried making fun of you for a while, but eventually, that stopped, too. Other characters recieve a +5 penalty to all TNs involving taunting, ridiculing, or manipulating your thick-skulled character.

Onikage Stink (Bearers of Jade)

2 points

Due to the psychic stink caused by having been too near to onikage,all normal horses and ponies refuse to get near the character.

Outcast (Way of the Minor Clans)

Badger or Ronin only

You have been outcast by your clan. Perhaps your worldview did not agree with that of your father or your clan. Perhaps you're just too eager to embrace new ways. Whatever the case, they now treat you like an oustider. They don't necessarily hate you, but now they look on you with suspicion. You'll have to earn their respect and, perhaps, regain their trust.

Overconfident (Way of the Unicorn)

3 points

You never retreat, never choose to fight another day. You are possessed of the youthful illusion of immortality. When faced with superior forces, you must make a Perception+Battle skill check at 30 or you stay and fight. You may not purchase Great Destiny.

Permanent Wound (L5R RPG)

5 points

You begin the game with a wound that has never properly healed. In game terms, this means that you always begin the game at the -1 Wound Level.

Phobia (L5R RPG)

2 or 4 points

Every time you encounter your phobia, all rolls you make lose dice equal to the number of points you gained from this disadvantage. You may spend a Void Point to avoid this penalty for a single action. Listed below are some possible phobias for your character; having a phobia must also be approved by the GM.
Fear of heights, open spaces, enclosed spaces, insects, blood, being alone, dead things, fire, and fear of darkness are a few examples.

Proud (Way of the Lion)

1 point

You know that you are the finest bushi or shugenja that has ever been produced by your family's school. Your skills are honed, and the ancestors are on your side. It's not mere overconfidence - it's absolute arrogance. Nothing can stop you from fulfilling the destiny you're sure you have, whatever it is.
Obviously, it will be the grandest thing you come upon, and any who meet you should be informed of the caliber of person they are dealing with. One day, they will want to tell their children about you!

Ranshin (Bearers of Jade)

1-5 points

Your character has been traumatized beyond the point of nightmares. Casual acquaintances may not realize you are unstable, but it is soon evident. Memories of war are everywhere: sudden movements look like attacks, a cough reminds you of Tainted victims, playing children sound like goblins. The GM can call for a simple Willpower roll, TN 20, a number of times per session equal to the cost of the Disadvantage. If this roll is failed, the samurai goes into post-traumatic stress disorder, fearfully lashing out, fainting, or having full-sensory flashbacks. Conversely, the urges could mean that you are the sort of samurai who leaps into oni mouths believing that you can carve your way out. You are uncontrollable in Rokugani society: you have emotional outbursts, cackling laughter, and make snap decisions which cause a steady loss of face.

Refused by Family (Way of the Minor Clans)

1 point

All social skills with your family keep 1 fewer die. You cannot inherit property or goods. One starting item is of average quality, all others are considered poor.

Refused by the Clan (Way of the Minor Clans)

2 point

As Refused by Family; in addition, all social skills within your clan roll 1 fewer die (Badger Clan shugenja must take this disadvantage).

Scarred (Bearers of Jade)

1 point

Unhealed wounds in the Shadowlands that were not infected by Taint still leave disgusting, visible marks. Commons scars whiten the skin, twist and blacken it, or turn it green and oozing. These subtract one die on all social interactions and two for seduction.

Shadowlands Taint (Way of the Crab)

1-5 points

You have journeyed into the Shadowlands and left a tiny piece of your soul behind. As a result, you have been infected with the madness of Fu Leng's realm. For every point you take in this disadvantage, you gain a point of the Taint (see The Book of the Shadowlands, page 27, or the GM's pack, page 11, for rules on the Taint).

Small (L5R RPG)

3 points

You are below average height and weight. Whenever you make a damage roll, you cannot count the highest die.

Social Disadvantage (Way of the Dragon)

3 points per rank

You have slipped from your place within the Celestial Order. For every 3 points of Social Disadvantage, the character's Glory Rank is reduced by one from his School Rank. All Ronin characters must have at least 3 points of Social Disadvantage. Characters that fall below Glory Rank 0 are hardly considered part of the Celestial Order.

Soft-Hearted (L5R RPG)

2 points

You have a profound respect for human life. Your conscience overcomes you whenever you are about to commit an act of inhumane cruelty. Whenever you try to take a human life, you must make a simple Willpower roll against a 20 or you can't follow through with the action.

Spoiled (Winter Court)

3 points

A spoiled character is used to having the best of everything. Like the Compulsion disadvantage, a Spoiled character must make a Willpower roll to resist the object of their desire. If they succeed against a TN of 15 (or greater in instances where the object is of extreme value), then the object is merely admired and jealously desired. However, if the character fails their roll, they must find a way to acquire the item or, under the GM's discretion, find a similar copy.
Obviously, if the item in question is unique or very rare, like a daimyo's sword, a duplicate will not work. In instances where a unique item or object is sought after, the TN should be exceptionally higher.
A spoiled character also desires people, and this is an exceptionally difficult and abusive when the person is already taken by another - servant, spouse, craftsman, or otherwise. This disadvantage is very akin to the Compulsion disadvantage, with less focus over what it is the character desires. Such is the way of a spoiled individual.

Sworn Enemy (L5R RPG)


The character has a Sworn Enemy that desires his death. Having the Sworn Enemy is worth 3 points; up to three additional points can be gained if the Sworn Enemy is a higher Rank (at one point for one Rank higher). Whenever a character with a Sworn Enemy gains a Rank, the Enemy gains one as well, with appropriately increased skills and traits. The Enemy can show up at any time, at the GM's whim, and while he or she may be temporarily satisfied with ruining the character's plans or reputation, the ultimate goal is death. The player should detail to the GM's satisfaction the nature and cause of the vendetta, and the GM can either have the character create the NPC enemy or create the Enemy himself.

Touch of the Void (Way of the Shinsei)

2 points

Somewhere in your family line, your ancestors gained a close connection to the Void, which has manifested itself in you. While your "attunement" allows you to use an extra point of Void a day, you are often unable to control your power. Each time you spend a point of Void, all people (including yourself) within a five foot radius must roll their Willpower against a TN of your Void x 5. Those who fail the roll feel the backlash of your power, becoming dizzy and disoriented. The effect lasts for as many turns as your Void rank; during this time affected characters roll one fewer die on all rolls.

True Love (L5R RPG)

3 points

Finding true love in Rokugan can be a painful experience. You will find yourself torn between your true love and your loyalty to your Clan, your sensei and your family. Any character who takes True Love will find himself torn between his Love and his duty. Whenever he must choose between his Love and his duty to Clan (and/or family, sensei, daimyo, etc.), he must spend a Void Point to do so. Also, if he ever loses his True Love's favor, he may spend no Void Points at all until he can gain the favor back.

Unhygienic (Way of the Wolf)

2 points

In addition to the considerable social stigma that comes from being cast out from a clan (or never having been accepted into a clan in the first place), there are other stigmas attached to being a ronin. Many wave-men become so distraught over their lot in life that simple matters of hygiene become trivial and unimportant to them. They go weeks and months without bathing, a practice incredibly offensive to other samurai, who often bathe multiple times per day. A ronin with this disadvantage bathes very infrequently, and often has a very unpleasant odor as well as a filthy appearance. He will be denied entrance to the court of virtually any clan, and keeps one fewer die in social interactions with other samurai. Also, the incessant itching caused by this condition prevents the ronin from benefiting from any Technique or Advantage that offers Free Raises on a Willpower roll. This disadvantage may be bought off with experience points.

Unluck (L5R RPG)

3, 6, or 9 points

Any character with Unluck will find himself the victim of the GM's whim. For every 3 points the character invests in Unluck, the GM may - once per session - command the re-roll of any roll the character makes. It is possible to take both Luck and Unluck; a GM may not command a roll the character has just re-rolled using the Luck advantage.

Vanity (Way of the Crane)

1 point

You are gorgeous and/or brilliant - and you know it. Unfortunately, the rest of the world doesn't seem to notice. You'd better make sure they know the quality of the person they are dealing with!

Weakness (L5R RPG)

5 points

You can reduce any Trait (excepting Void) by one point to gain 5 Character Points. You may not reduce a Trait below one, or by more than two levels.

Wrath of the Kami (Way of the Shinsei)

3 points per element

There is something about you that the spirits of Rokugan do not like. Perhaps your soul was born unclean, your ancestors wish to show their disfavor of you, or you have offended them in some way. In any case, the kami of the Empire go out of their way to harm you when they are directed to do so by a shugenja. Choose one or more elements. Any time a spell of any element chosen is cast to harm or hinder you directly, the caster gains a Free Raise.

Yogo Curse (Way of the Scorpion)

0 points

All characters from the Yogo family automatically have this disadvantage.
At the beginning of character creation, all Scorpion characters roll one die, and re-roll any 10 as usual. If the roll is at least 15, they have inherited the Yogo curse. Once in your life, you will betray the person you love the most. Some action, either intentional or unintentional, will cause that person pain. They more you try to avoid it, the more painful the betrayal will be.
Because of the curse, the Yogo family has been forbidden to marry within the Scorpion Clan. However, true love rarely listens to rules, and taboo often breeds tragedy.

Yogo Curse (Way of the Phoenix)

3 points

Members of the Asako family are closely related to the Yogo, a family within the Scorpion Clan. Although the two families have been parted since the day of Yogo's curse by Fu Leng during the First War, some members of the Asako family occasionally pop up with the terrible affliction. The curse decrees that some action, whether intentional or unintentional, will betray the person you love the most. The more you try to avoid it, the more painful that betrayal will be.