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Honor and AlignmentEdit
In the Empire of the Rising Sun, alignment is significantly less important than in other campaign settings. This is partially because it follows the Tome rules, which point out that the Law/Chaos axis is entirely pointless, and partially because honor deals with how you serve your lord, which is very important.
What does this mean? Well, it means you can have a Chaotic Evil samurai who still follows his lord but is slightly eccentric, and you can have a Lawful Good rogue who lies all the time to "uphold the greater good" or something. It also means that the rules for honor presented here cannot be used for this campaign setting.
Honor in the Empire of the Rising Sun deals with how well a person adheres to the tenets of bushido: Honesty, Courage, Compassion, Courtesy, Honor(as in honoring the dead and holy places), Sincerity, and Duty.
The Honor SystemEdit
So how do we make it work in the contex of the Tome rules? First, honor is measured in points, from 0-30. There are 6 levels of honor, and it takes five honor points to gain or lose a rank. The five ranks are:
Honor 0-5 — Honorless: Being honorless means that you do not follow bushido. Some honorless people are simply foreigners who do not know the culture of the Empire (like drow, who live in the Underdark), while others oppose the code on purpose (bandits, outcasts, some ninja and ronin).
Honor 6-10 — Untrustworthy: Untrustworthy people understand that, in order to live, they must be somewhat honorable. Untrustworthy people generally put on an honorable facade around others, but see little wrong in lying, cheating, stealing, etc.
Honor 11-15 — Average: People of Average honor believe in bushido and follow it whenever they can. However, they do recognize that it is nearly impossible to be honorable all of the time. They have a strong sense of duty, but do enjoy the pleasures in life.
Honor 16-20 — Exceptional: Those with Exceptional honor are devoted to bushido and do not usually go against it. They will, however, betray bushido if their lord orders them to, which causes them anguish.
Honor 21-25 — Soul Above Reproach: A soul above reproach is fairly rare among samurai. He is absolutely devoted to bushido, and almost nothing will come between his beliefs. A Soul Above Reproach will still betray bushido for his lord, but those who do often ask permission to commit ritual suicide.
Honor 26-30 — Un-Freaking-Believeable: Those with honor this high are rare. Those that are Un-Freaking-Believeable are completely selfless, treats others how he expects to be treated, and never mistreats others unless they have proven to be dishonorable.
Gaining and Losing HonorEdit
All characters start off with 11 Honor at first level, because they are Average and haven't done enough to be labelled yet. Any class that swears an oath or has a code of conduct (ie the samurai and knight) add 4 to their honor for obvious reasons, giving them a starting honor of 15.
Acts only count as honorable or dishonorable if they are witnessed by NPCs. Things that are honorable include, but are not limited to:
- Telling the truth, especially if it will result in repercussions
- Facing a clearly superior foe to preserve the lord/family's honor
- Helping a wounded foe
- Being honorable to someone you are at war with (when not on the battlefield, obviously)
- Fufilling promises, especially if they are at a great cost
- Following your lord's orders, even when you disagree personally
- Avenging the death of a family member or your lord
- Defeating an ancestral enemy
- Saving someone's life
- Leading a victorious force in battle
- Completing a great quest or adventure
- Dying a heroic death
Dishonorable acts include, but are not limited to:
- Openly practicing a dishonorable Skill (DM's disgression)
- Deliberate deception
- Disobeying your lord
- Instigating unwarranted violence
- Being accused or convicted of a crime
- Being taken prisoner
- Breaking an oath
- Losing a birthright, including ancestral weapons
- Losing a duel, especially against an inferior opponent
- Refusing a duel
- Debt (of Money or favors)
- Fleeing a fight
- Leading a losing force in battle (even if it losing had nothing to do with you)
- Using the weapons of peasants or ninja
As a general rule, it should be more difficult to gain honor then it should be to lose it. Doing an extremely honorable thing should not grant an extreme amount of honor points, but doing an extremely dishonorable thing may take away many honor points. You may not lose more then 9 honor points at one time for a single action, no matter how severe it is.
The Benefits of HonorEdit
Whenever a mechanic like this is introduced, the first logical question the players ask is "Why should we care?" In order to make players actually want to get more honor, here's how it works: For every 5 honor points you possesse above 10, you gain a +1 honor bonus to your command rating and all Charisma based skills, because people take your word more seriously.
Additionally, when a PC becomes a Soul Above Reproach, he may use suggestion as a spell-like ability a number of times per day equal to half his honor score. When he becomes Un-Freaking-Believable, he may use charm person a number of times per day equal to half his honor score. This reflects others admiration for the character.
Honor works both ways, however, and for every 5 honor points you possesse below 10, you gain a -1 honor penalty to your command rating and all charisma based skills (unless, of course, you have the False Honor feat).
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