Ward Magic

The Magic of Kuwasu (Yogo Wards)

The Yogo Shugenja School, aided by the Kuni Tsukai-sagasu, have created a unique form of magic in which a written character {read: kanji} is inscribed on a piece of paper or silk, and then infused with elemental energies to seal up or block some closure. Much more powerful forms of Wards can even be built into standing structures. The character’s skill at creating Wards is tied to his Intelligence and Lore (Kuwasu) Skill, and no character can create or identify any type of Ward without at least one rank in the Calligraphy Skill.

There are six types of Wards, and the novice is aware of the basics of all of them (begins play able to create all types). Earth, Fire, Water, Air, Void, and Shadowlands.

Creating Wards
The process of creating a Ward is considered a form of spell casting for the shugenja, though no scroll is necessary as the Lore (Kuwasu) Skill is used instead. The shugenja selects a written kanji describing what is to be barred by the Ward, and an element to infuse into the kanji. Selection of the right written kanji is very important; Wards are sensitive. A Ward set against “samurai” will not react to a peasant or an animal. There is a generic kanji for “anyone” which causes the Ward to resist any attempt to unseal the closure (including the character who set the Ward). Cunning shugenja learn that they can create Wards that are more selective by using kanji such as “samurai”, “shugenja”, “human”, or even a specific person’s name. Once the kanji is chosen, the shugenja then rolls the appropriate Ring+Lore (Kuwasu) keeping dice equal to his Intelligence; the shugenja’s Calligraphy Skill is added to the final result of this roll to beat a TN of 15. Ward creation counts against the daily number of spells that the shugenja may cast of a particular element. The process takes one hour (base). Success produces a Ward of the chosen element with an Effectiveness Rating of 4.

Multiple shugenja may work together when inscribing particularly complex Wards. This is treated in the same fashion as a ritual for normal spells; the exception is that the Intelligence of the ritual leader is used when determining dice kept, rather than School Rank, and all participants must have the Lore (Kuwasu) Skill.

Void Wards and Shadowlands Wards require special consideration and are described more fully below.

Effectiveness Rating and Other Effects
When a Ward is disturbed by the sort of being it is designed to bar, it responds violently. The being and the Ward make an opposed roll using the Ward’s Effectiveness Rating vs. the character’s Ring (Fire vs. a Fire Ward). If both rolls fail nothing happens and the Ward continues to hold. If the Ward succeeds and the intruder does not the Ward does (Effectiveness Rating)K1 damage to the interloper. If the intruder succeeds and the Ward fails, the Ward’s Effectiveness Rating is reduced by 1. If both succeed the character may choose to take the damage in order to reduce the Ward’s Effectiveness Rating by 1. Only when the Ward’s Effectiveness Rating is reduced to zero (and the ward is destroyed) can the sealed opening be opened by that character.

Keep in mind that Wards are both directional and sensitive. As mentioned, a Ward set against “samurai” will not react to a peasant or an animal. Also, in the case of doors and such, a person approaching the Ward from “behind” is not effected by it ever.

Detecting Wards
Because of the prominent manner in which Wards are attached, being either nailed or held by magic, they are very noticeable. Anyone with Lore (Shugenja) or Lore (Kuwasu) should immediately suspect the Ward when faced with one. Determining the kanji that the Ward opposes requires a Perception+Calligraphy roll with a TN of 5+(Calligraphy Skill of the shugenja that Created the Ward x5). To determine the element used in a Ward by visual inspection requires an Intelligence+Lore (Shugenja) with a TN of 30 or an Intelligence+Lore (Kuwasu) with a TN of 20. Use of the appropriate sense or commune spell would identify the Ward’s type, and taking two Raises may determine its Effectiveness Rating.

Linked Wards use repetition of the same kanji, one per element, artfully inter-woven. They are easier to identify, as multiple types of sense or commune spells will detect the elemental nature of the kanji. A Raise may be used to determine the other element(s) in the Linked Ward. Linked Wards are described in more detail below.

Shugenja Disarming Wards
A shugenja can disarm any Ward that he has set by making a roll at the same TN that was required to set it. It takes only 15 minutes for a shugenja to disarm a Ward that he has set. If he fails the Ward will discharge as it is intended. Disarming a Ward placed by another shugenja requires a minimum time of one hour (base). The shugenja must first identify what element(s) the Ward is composed of. Then a Lore (Kuwasu)(appropriate element) roll (keeping Intelligence) with a TN equal to 5x the Ward’s Effectiveness Rating, or a Lore (Shugenja)(appropriate element) roll (keeping Intelligence) with a TN equal to ten times the Ward’s Effectiveness Rating. If the disarm roll fails then the Ward will discharge as it was intended. Also, Wards are relatively fragile when their magic is not invoked. If a character is not targeted by the Ward, it is only a slip of paper or cloth and easily torn (and ruined). This is why the “anyone” seal is so popular. Similarly, Oni no Ianwa (for example) finding itself blocked by a Shadowlands Ward could coerce a completely Taint free individual into removing that harmless scrap of paper (Harmless to the dupe anyway).

Wards and Raises
As with most spells, Raises can be used to vary the effect of Wards. Remember, students of the Yogo Shugenja School receive a Free Raise when creating Wards. A common use for Raises is to increase the Ward’s Effectiveness Rating. Every two Raises for this purpose will add one point to the Ward’s Effectiveness Rating. Each Raise for casting time reduces the time taken to prepare the Ward by fifteen minutes, to a minimum of fifteen minutes. A normal Ward consists of a slip of paper or cloth, nailed to both sides of an opening to seal it. Other variations or special effects may be created through the use of Raises during the creation process. It also seems reasonable to allow Wards to have further effects with Raises: Earth Wards could help a building withstand earthquakes, a Water Ward might reduce the chance and spread of fire, and any Elemental Ward might increase the TN of hostile spells of the opposed element (Water vs. Fire, Earth vs. Air). The GM would determine these TN’s. Some other options are described below.

>Magical Placement
For one Raise the Ward may be prepared so that it magically affixes itself to the target surface. Good for rush placement or where nailing the Ward will be difficult (stone door) or damage the container (fine lacquer box).

>Vicious Guard
This option requires the caster to perform three Raises to increase the damage to (Effectiveness Rating)K2. However, when the Ward is reduced to Effectiveness Rating one, it keeps only one die for damage.

>Linked Wards
For each two Raises the caster makes during creation he is able to add another element to the Ward. He must use his lowest of the chosen elements when rolling to create it but the Ward also automatically acts against the weakest of those elements in the intruder, and all of the elements must be overcome before the Ward is destroyed. The Ward is considered to have a separate Effectiveness Ratings for each element that was used in its creation, thus requiring separate disarming attempts for each element. If you see the five-fold seal of doom (eight raises), leave it the hell alone!

>Chained Wards
This type of Ward is intended for outdoor use or where a convenient container/structure is not available. For example: tied to trees or carefully placed on the ground around a campsite. Each Ward requires an extra Raise (to a maximum of four) per each additional Ward that will be in the set (sets are no bigger than 5). The whole set must be deployed together. All of the Wards must be of the same element and kanji. Each Ward has it’s own separate Effectiveness Rating. When one Ward is defeated the entire perimeter goes down. Replacements can be made for damaged or destroyed parts of the set. A one-hour purification ritual is required to “set up” or “take down” the set for relocation. A set of two may be used to block a passage or space between two trees or posts. Chain Wards have a base Effectiveness Rating of 3. The Maximum distance allowed between Chained Wards is 8’ per School Rank of the caster.

>Durable Wards
Two Raises will increase the Wards Effectiveness Rating by one, making it more durable and longer lasting.

>Weak Wards
A shugenja may willingly create a lower Effectiveness Rating Ward. This does not require any raises and lowers the TN by 5 to a minimum of 5 for each point Of Effectiveness Rating dropped from 4.

A Note on the Yogo Shugenja School
While Wards do not require a scroll to cast, Yogo shugenja may spend 2 Experience Points to memorize a particular type of Ward. This represents the Yogo shugenja’s diligent study of this art. This gives the shugenja a Free Raise when creating Wards of the memorized type (because of their School Ability, this would give a Yogo two Free Raises for Fire if he “memorized” Fire etc.).

Void Wards
Void-based wards require some special mention. Because Void Wards are complex, delicate things that are based on Void (the stuff of excellence and the harmony of all the other rings) they do not seem to effect everything. One theory is that since the painted kanji used to create the Ward must describe what the Ward opposes, writing a character like “nezumi” fails to produce an effective Void Ward, because the nezumi have no Void. There is nothing for the magic to “bond to” in the chosen kanji. The other theory is that the magic takes to the kanji, but when the nezumi opens a Warded door the Void Ward can only “respond” to Void, so the nezumi is invisible to it and the Ward fails to function. Regardless, the result is that Void Wards may not be used to form unbreakable seals against beings that have no Void. Oni, goblins, and other “native” Shadowlands denizens also gain this immunity to Void Wards.

Shadowlands Wards
Creatures of the Shadowlands can be barred only through the use of special Shadowlands Wards. Wards created using the traditional elements cannot effect them. This is because they are physically composed entirely of tainted elements. Again, either the painted kanji fails to hold magic or the Ward is blind to them because of the Taint. When creating Shadowlands Wards the most commonly used characters are the generic characters “Shadowlands” or “tainted”. Specialized Wards can be created however, using more specific names.

Shadowlands Wards are created as Earth Wards, but uses the Lore (Shadowlands) Skill instead of the Lore (Kuwasu) Skill. Creatures attempting to dispel it use their Earth Ring. This is due to the mystical bond between the power (and protection) of Fu’Leng and the Earth. The partially Tainted (like a maho-tsukai) roll additional dice equal their Taint Rank (not kept) when trying to overcome a Shadowlands Ward. This is indicative of Fu’Leng’s influence; the dark one shields those he is dragging into his grasp so that he may complete his hold over their souls before they perish. Once fully Tainted the (Shadowlands) NPC uses his Earth. This may result in a drop in the number of dice that the character uses, but that is only proper for Fu’Leng to no longer shield the fool as his soul belongs to the dark kami already. Shadowlands Wards often say “tainted” and cover everything. Evil shugenja should consider less all-inclusive Wards around the house so as not to fry/annoy “guests”.
Wards and Yorei (Spirits and Ghosts)
Ghosts and spirits are subject to Shadowlands Wards if tainted, Void Wards (for the spirits connection to the beyond) if they are not. Remember that some malevolent spirits are NOT from the Shadowlands. In both cases the ghost uses it’s Air to intuitively undo the Ward; spirits can only be dispelled by Wards, never killed. Kami (good elemental spirits) and Kansen (corrupted elemental spirits) are both easily annoyed by the mere presence of such Wards. Therefore, it is recommended to use them only for temporary work or with EXTREMELY specific kanji selection, as they may be dispelled randomly by passing spirits who stop long enough to disrupt the Ward before moving on.

Other notes:
1. Choose the location of your wards carefully. Placing it on the edge of a door protects the wall as well to some degree, but that nearby window is fair game.
2. Use quality materials. You would hate to have spent all day fortifying a temple only to have rain obliterate all the kanji. Use paint on silk for high wear areas. Paper ones are fine for indoor use. The physical media of the Ward is not subject to aging once the magic infuses it.
3. Choose your kanji carefully. For example: Soshi Bantaro could be stopped by any Ward that says Soshi Bantaro, Soshi, Shugenja, Samurai, Scorpion, or Human. Clever choice of wording may make the Ward more useful, such as holding a sword in the saya until the right sort of person came along.

Ward Magic

Rokugan: Shadow Rising caeads