Animals

Throughout the wilds of the Empire, animals dwell beneath the forest canopy, on the mountain slopes, in the placid lakes and rushing rivers, and practically everywhere else one could seek to look. The vast majority are natural creatures, but some few are strange beasts born of sorcery or calamity, not quite spirits but more than merely mundane.

Mechanically, animals are defined by their Traits and Rings; most animals do not possess Skills, though there are exceptions, and animals are considered Skilled with their own attacks. Animals with ranks in a Skill are only able to use the listed Emphasis (a dog with Hunting (Tracking) may roll to follow tracks, but not build a shelter or identify plants). Animals do not suffer an Unskilled penalty when Testing or Contesting Athletics, per GM arbitration (a horse would suffer the penalty for Climbing but not Swimming or Running). No animals possess a Void ring, and therefor cannot call raises. Unless otherwise noted by a [S], all attacks an animal makes are Complex Actions and animals cannot initiate Grapples.

Shiryōmengani

Also called ‘mempo crabs’, shiryōmengani are all that remains of a cursed bloodline of Wamori samurai. Centuries ago, the head of the bloodline abandoned the Wamori’s dedication to avoiding bloodshed and forsook their oaths to the Council of Sages. They imposed cruel taxes on the peasants under their care and instigated a rebellion against the Itsumaru, seeking to restore rulership of the clan to Wamori hands.

Their uprising was shortlived, for few of their brothers rallied to their side, and they were stripped of their name and forced to flee before the might of the remainder of the Wamori Family and the magical prowess of the Itsumaru. Taking refuge in the swamplands of their home province on the Negurakori’s southern border, they withstood assault from their former brothers for some weeks. Before they were finally crushed, the Sage of Void invoked a terrible curse upon them as punishment for their bloodthirsty betrayal, dooming them to be reincarnated as the lowly creatures that scuttled through the very swamp to which they had fled. Perhaps the Sage’s own kharma was poor, however, for his curse has since plagued the Negurakori, making monsters of the former samurai.

In the year following the rebellion’s defeat, crabs the size of dogs began appearing in the swamp, whose shells resembled the bloodied mempo of the fallen once-Wamori. Stalking silently through the sluggish waters of the marsh, these creatures soon began preying upon the fishermen who plied those shadowed depths. With each mortal killed and eaten, the crabs grew in size and ferocity.

More terrifying than their crushing claws and slashing legs, however, is the curse they still bear. Any mortal slain and devoured by the shiryōmengani does not pass into the Sojourning Realm correctly. Instead, their spirit is marked by the curse upon the crab, and the memories it sheds in preparation for return to the Wheel are all tainted with terror and bloodshed. Even worse, when the time comes for the spirit to be reincarnated, it cannot do so properly; rather, the curse’s pull is so strong that the spirits of the crab’s victims are drawn back to the crab itself, becoming trapped within the creature’s iron-tough shell, where they form a new face leering out of the monster’s back. While trapped, these spirits bolster the crab, granting the victim’s own strength and vitality to its slayer.

These trapped spirits may only be freed by destroying one of these crabs and immediately performing funeral rites for the imprisoned ghosts. To defeat one of the shiryōmengani is a dire challenge, however, for over the centuries they have feasted on countless peasants and samurai alike, and the greatest of them have grown to the size of a bear, sporting hundreds of blood-stained faces bulging out of their nearly-impenetrable carapaces. Even the most numerous of them are dangerous foes, as massive as a large dog, with powerful claws and tough shells.

The memories of those slain by the shiryōmengani also pose a danger in and of themselves, disturbing the dreams of all who encounter them with visions of violence and filth.

Domesticated Animals

Since the genesis of humanity, animals have been trained and bred for various tasks to aid their human handlers. The most common use for domestic animals is labor, whether that means pulling a cart or being used as transportation, but animals for companionship, hunting, and combat are widely seen across the empire. If used in combat, all Domesticated Animals act on the initiative of their handler.

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Description

Ring Air 0 Earth 0 Fire 0 Water 0
Trait
Combat Initiative: Armor Target Number: Attack: Damage Thresholds
Skills
Special
Cost

Dog, Common

Any of a variety of small to medium sized dogs, typically raised as companions or hunting aides. Some are trained as guard dogs, acting as living alarm systems, and though they are occasionally trained to attack and bring down enemies they are typically passed over for larger variants. Unless trained to fight a Common Dog will only attack when pressed and will attempt to flee when their Bloodied Threshold is filled.

Ring Air 1 Earth 2 Fire 1 Water 1
Trait Reflexes 2 Agility 2 Perception 2
Combat Initiative: 3k2 Armor Target Number: 15 Bite: 3k3 Damage 2k1 Bloodied: 10, +20; Dead: 20
Skills Hunting (Tracking) 3
Special Swift 2 Scent
Cost Mongrels: Free Purebred: 3 Bu

Dog, War

Whether trained for personal combat, security, or all-out war, these are the big dogs. Easily a match for the average peasant at 100+ pounds, and although they can be raised as companions these dogs are bred to kill and are predisposed towards violence. These dogs will attack on command or if being attacked, and will only relent when killed or recalled. If they are not commanded to act, they default to performing the Guard action on their handler.

Ring Air 1 Earth 3 Fire 1 Water 2
Trait Reflexes 3 Agility 4 Strength 3
Combat Initiative: 4k3 Armor Target Number: 20 Bite: 6k4 [S] Damage 4k2 Hurt: 15, +10; 30, +20; Dead: 45
Skills Hunting (Tracking) 3 Coercion (Intimidation) 2
Special Swift 2 Scent Reduction 3 Large
Cost 4 Ryō

Bird of Prey

Hawks, Falcons, and Eagles fall under this category. Almost exclusively used as hunting aides, they are capable of doing serious damage to a human but their frailty makes using them in combat a great risk. Birds of Prey are unable to fly if their Hurt Threshold is full.

Ring Air 1 Earth 1 Fire 1 Water 1
Trait Reflexes 5 Agility 4 Perception 3
Combat Initiative: 5k5 Armor Target Number: 30 Claw: 5k4 [S] Damage 2k1 Hurt: 5, +10; Dead: 10
Skills
Special Swift 5 (While Flying)
Cost 2 Ryō

Horse, Common

Animals bred for transportation, horses are a common sight among samurai. Designed for speed and comfort rather than strength, these animals are slighter and slimmer in build than war horses and work horses (which no samurai would be caught dead on). As they are not typically trained to serve in combat, these somewhat skittish mounts require a Horsemanship (Riding) test at Target Number 20 to enter combat.

Ring Air 2 Earth 2 Fire 1 Water 2
Trait Stamina 4 Agility 2 Strength 4
Combat Initiative: 3k2 Armor Target Number: 15 Kick: 3k2 Damage 4k2 Hurt: 10, +10; 20, +20; Dead: 30
Skills Athletics (Running) 3
Special Swift 4 Large Reduction 4
Cost 25 Ryō

Horse, War

Sturdy, solid, and stoic, war horses make up for a lack of speed with sheer force. These horses do not require a check to enter combat and will attack nearby enemies if able. A staple of the Yorukuusai, these animals nevertheless make appearances in every Clan's armies.

Ring Air 2 Earth 4 Fire 1 Water 2
Trait Reflexes 3 Stamina 5 Agility 3 Strength 5
Combat Initiative: 4k3 Armor Target Number: 20 Kick: 4k3 [S] Damage 6k2 Hurt: 20, +10; 40, +20; Dead: 60
Skills Athletics (Running) 2
Special Swift 3 Large Reduction 5
Cost 50 Ryō

Special Qualities

Large: Animals with the Large Special Quality are big enough to pose problems to the average human. Attempts to Grapple or perform the Knockdown maneuver on a Large animal require an Empty Raise to be called or they fail automatically.

Scent: Animals with the Scent Special Quality have keen noses. When Testing or Contesting Hunting (Tracking)/Perception and primarily using the sense of smell, animals with Scent gain a bonus of +1k2.

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