positive: loyalty, willpower, magnetism, gentleness, insight, self-control
negative: ruthlessness, fanaticism, revenge, sadism, suspicion, self-hatred – Linda Goodman’s “Love Signs”
Do people feel strongly about any of the Zodiac signs? The only one I think people have any sort of reaction to is Scorpio. The scorpion image isn’t helped any by the negative traits above.
The point of this series was to take advantage of a source of personality types that people could identify with but which aren’t simplistic or really that familiar and/or take imagery/symbolism from the signs as inspiration for gaming ideas. While I’m surprised by how many people who have never thought of using astrology to create characters or whatever, I can’t imagine that L5R’s Scorpion Clan wasn’t connected originally to Scorpio.
Take loyalty. It’s often stated that the only tenet of bushido the clan believes in is loyalty. It’s even described how to have a Scorpion “not”-ninja fit in with a party of more honorable sorts by stressing that once a Scorp cares about you, loyalty kicks in and the dishonorable scum is only being dishonorable while looking out for the party’s interests.
I understand the appeal of the Scorpion Clan in L5R. Both from a world design standpoint where you get to have PC ninja and spice things up with a contrast to the idealized belief that bushido is the end all and be all of how to approach the world. And, from a player standpoint, where it certainly seems that the most popular clan played in Heroes-of-Rokugan is Scorp. The sneaky, intriguing types get to have side adventures. Plus, you get to mess with other PCs and have the excuse that you are just playing to stereotype.
But, I don’t really buy the plausability of the clan. Sure, the background and explanations and vaguely historical tie-ins do a good job of justifying the clan. But, it’s just incongruous. It’s just too far away from “gee, there are monsters to the South that need to be kept at bay all of the time” and strikes me as too likely to fall apart politically. But, most of all, it’s just too extreme. “You all follow one way of living and we will follow this other way yet we are all …” Being all part of the same empire is one thing, but L5R puts all samurai in the same religious structure.
Then, I know that different people want different things from L5R and my desire for heroic fantasy is different from those who get off on the intrigue, but it’s so weird to go from fighting oni one day to wondering whether your fellow samurai are messing with your mind another. In a house game, that’s easily solved. In HoR, there’s not much you can do but try to cover a wide range of interests, though I think heroic fantasy gets shorted.
By the way, I had the same trouble with the incongruity of Babylon 5 where Sheridan goes from sending the elder races beyond the rim to dealing with secret police. It may not be any more unrealistic than the alternative, but it’s jarring.
I keep thinking of Scorpion character ideas, mostly involving schools of highly honorable clans as I’m into irony. But, I just can’t pull the trigger. I just can’t get behind the idea of playing someone with so much baggage. Play one straight and you end up with the sort of character I could do without seeing. Play it against type and you very well may end up with a bad joke that you can’t be rid of.
That’s not to say that Scorpio traits aren’t interesting. Sure, they sound villainous compared to pretty much every other sign, but that’s too easy. I’d be good with seeing more heroic characters that managed some of the negative traits. Of particular interest may be playing a Scorpio who isn’t a Scorpion in L5R. When the _ cares more about loyalty than the Scorpions do – that’s at least interesting role-playing. From a mechanical standpoint, it would also be interesting to see a high Earth Ring Scorpion (willpower …).
And, what’s up with “gentleness”? I keep thinking that should read “gentlemanliness” or something. Well, that would certainly be a different angle to come from.