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Improving Membership Rank: Feudal Japan

Characters may improve their Membership Rank (i.e., their standing within their group) one of two ways. The first is by an instant reward from their master or group head. The second is by making a merit check at the end of each full year of game time (at the end of each campaign year). In both cases, once the increase has been approved by the GM, the character must still spend the Experience Points necessary for the increase.

Instant Rewards

Instant rewards are given at the discretion of the GM for actions "above and beyond the call of duty," that is, for acts beyond what is normally expected for that character given his caste and profession. (Instant rewards to a character's MR are in addition to any Honor Points that may be forthcoming.) This can be a serious test, indeed, for those characters in a profession whose demands are already high, like samurai. Instant rewards to a character's MR should not be for exemplary behavior alone, but rather for extreme cases of heroism, acts of great loyalty or sacrifice and so on.

For example, a samurai might be instantly promoted in status by saving his lord's life against great odds, giving his lord his own sword after his lord lost his in an earthquake, or making some other suitably impressive personal sacrifice for his lord.

Instant rewards should not exceed an increase of one level of MR, unless, of course, the GM feels it is particularly appropriate or it suits the story.

Merit Awards

Merit awards are slightly more complicated. To receive an increase in MR due to merit, the character must achieve a certain number of goals throughout the preceding year (measured in game time, not in real time). The minimum number of goals required to be eligible for a merit increase is equal to the character's current MR +1. Thus, if a character has a current MR 4, he must achieve a minimum of 5 goals to even be considered for a merit increase.

A character may only increase his MR by one point per game year using this method. In addition, the character must pay the appropriate number of Experience Points (EP) once the conditions are met in order to receive the promotion within the group and the accompanying increase to his MR.

Each profession should have an associated list of goals, created by the GM. Some of the goals listed should be mandatory for all members of that group, while other goals are left optional. This affords the player some discretion as to which goals he wishes his character to try to attain. The suggested goals for various groups in a feudal Japanese setting are given below. The GM is free to generate new goals that he feels are appropriate to his campaign and add them to the list.

Using Merit Awards

Merit awards should be encouraged by the GM. They are designed to promote roleplaying of the cultural and political aspects of Japanese society during the Sengoku-jidai (Period of Civil War). These should be taken as roleplaying opportunities as well as possible plot hooks. For instance, simply being invited to and attending an official clan court function seems simple enough, but what if the character is only of MR2? His chances of being invited out of the blue are pretty slim. Perhaps he can use that Contact with a clan councilor to get an invitation. Or maybe the character decides to try to impress his lord by entering the clan's yabusame (mounted archery) competition and winning first place.

Communicate Your Character's Goals

Players should provide the GM with a list of his character's goals for the coming year. The GM should use the character's declared goals as jumping-off points for roleplaying scenes, providing some "spotlight" for each character, or even as ideas for full-fledged adventures, involving the other characters in scenarios designed to achieve goals by one or more members of their party.

Goals by Profession or Group Type

Samurai Goals

Ryû (School) Student Goals

Buddhist Priest Goals

Yamabushi / Shugenja Goals

Shintô Priestly Goals

Shinobi (Ninja) Goals