Kozo, King Rat


Kozo, King Rat (Ronin)
Former Daidoji Scout 2 / Daidoji Spymaster

Rank 3 Insight 176 XP 0 Kharma 2
Air 4 Reflexes 4 Awareness 4
Earth 2 Stamina 3 Willpower 2
Fire 2 Agility 4 Intelligence 2
Water 3 Strength 3 Perception 3
Void 2
Weapon Attack Damage Notes
Words #k# #k# Notes
Armor TN Bonus +5 (Light Armor)
TN To Be Hit 31 (42) Ref 4 × 5 (20) + Def 3×2 (6) + Light Armor (5) + Kata in Defense (4) + Defense Stance (7)
3 +5 penalty to Athletics and Stealth Rolls
Initiative 7k3
Wound Level Penalty Total Notes
Healthy +0 10 Earth (2) x 5
Nicked +3 14
Grazed +5 18
Hurt +10 22
Injured +15 26
Crippled +20 30
Down +34 51 Must Spend Void to Act.
Out 38 Cannot Act.
High Skills
Acting AWA 2 6k4 Yes
Etiquette AWA 3 7k4 +3 Insight No
Investigation PER 5 8k3 Words No
Lore: Bushido INT 2 4k2 No
Lore: Heraldry INT 1 3k2 No
Lore: Underworold INT 1 3k2 No
Bugei Skills
Athletics STR 1 4k3 Yes
Defense REF 3 7k4 Words Yes
Hunting PER 3 6k3 (Traps) Yes
Kenjutsu AGI 1 5k4 Yes
Knives AGI 3 7k4 (Kama) Yes
Kyujutsu REF 4 8k4 (Yumi) Yes
Merchant Skills
Animal Handling AWA 1 5k4 No
Low Skills
Forgery AGI 3 7k4 No
Intimidation AWA 1 5k4 No
Sleight of Hand AGI 1 5k4 No
Stealth AGI 5 10k5 (Sneaking) Yes
Temptation AWA 2 6k4 No
Honor 3.5 Glory 1.0 Status 0.0
Infamy 0.0 Taint 0.0 Shadow 0.0

Daidoji Scout
Rank 1 Surveying the Land Great Clans p70. +1k0 Stealth and Hunting. Rural/Improvised Traps you create are exceptionally deadly inflicting +1k1 damage
Rank 2 Scouring the Shadows Great Clans p70. +2k0 to attack roll on unaware opponent
Rank 3 Truth in Shadows Book of Water p185 – Daidoji Spymaster Alternate Path. Spy Network advantage for free (or can use twice if purchased). +2k0 to Stealth, Investigation and Temptation.
Rank 4 Name Words
Rank 5 Name Words
Bland Physical You may voluntarily increase the TN by+10 to be recognized when someone uses Lore: Bushido or Lore: Heraldry. +2 Pts
Inner Gift: Spirit Touch Spiritual May make an Awareness roll (TN 15) to see the last person to touch an object you are touching. +7 Pts
Reincarnated Spiritual Despite having passed through Meido, you retain some faint recollection of your previous life. You gain 1k0 to any three non-School Skills of your choice (subject to GM’s approval). Any time you spend a Void Point to enhance a roll using one of those Skills, you suffer the effects of the Anachronism disadvantage (from the L5R 4E supplement Imperial Histories, p241) for 1-10 hours. In addition, you will occasionally have dreams of vague memories from your previous life, which may or may not become relevant to your current existence. Ancestor: Daidoji Hira. Skills Chosen: Forgery, Investigation, Temptation (1k0). Anachronism (Imperial Histories p241). You are out of touch with modern conventions and styles. The TN of Artisan, Craft, and Social Skill Rolls you make is increased by 5.
|+6 Pts
Spy Network Social Book of Water p185. Access to intelligence network that provides you with variety of covert information. Once per session if you can contact your network you can acquire a piece of useful information which would otherwise be unavailable. Free with Rank 3. +0(7) Pts
Silent Physical +1k0 to stealth rolls. +3 Pts
Way of the Land Mental Mura Sabishii Toshi +2 Pts
Bounty Social Strongholds p168. Serious Offense (4), bounty of 10-15 koku; any Crane magistrate will be aware of it and can identify you with Lore: Law / Perception at TN 15. -4 Pts
Obligation Type To [a Scorpion]; pretending to be a disgraced Scorpion ronin. Left enough clues that particularly aggressive Magistrate(s) are on his tail. -6 Pts
Social Disadvantage: Ronin Type Words -3 Pts
Striking as Air (Core) Air 3 In Defense Stance Armor TN is increased by Air Ring; normally active kata.
Waves Upon the Breaker (Book of Water p178) Water 3 If wielding a weapon that you have 3+ skill ranks in, damage is +1k0
Light or Ashigaru Armor, Rugged Clothing, Daisho, Bow, Knife, any one weapon, Trap-Making Gear, Camouflage Face-paint, Travelling Pack
5 Koku
Travelling Pack: 10 Items (TBD)


Little Rat

Background and Story

King Rat

There was a boy.

His name did not matter. As long as anyone could remember samurai and heimin alike called him kozo. Little-errand boy. Little pickpocket.

Little thief.

Kozo’s father was a ji-samurai, barely above a ronin, yet undeserving of a family’s name. His father’s lord was a Hiramori, vassal of the Daidoji, cousin of the Hiramichi. Swamp dwellers. Backwood goshi, rural samurai who lived off the land. Lived in tunnel complexes like rats and hid well within the woods.

Like their Hiramichi cousins, the Hiramori descended from the mad Daidoji Hira, a near-criminal infamous for his exotic ways. A man who, when ordered to seppuku, agreed readily. But when sought the next day only a note was found in his room. ”You did not set a date for my death, brother. Seek me in the Uebe Marshes if you wish to hasten it.”

Brazen, yet effective.

The Hiramori descendants learned to live in those marshes and the Akagi Mori, the dense and swampy wood. The Hiramichi learned a different art, the art of mercantile warfare, tax evasion, and contraband.

Both surrounded Mura Sabishii Toshi like flies on a carcass and served their Daidoji lords with a devotion beyond their honor.

Kozo grew to understand the ways of the swamp and the dark forest. His father spent time with his cousins and took the boy with him. He learned that a single copper zeni could be used to leverage power beyond its meager worth. A single coin, meager to the samurai, could buy a meal for a family. Could buy the whispered gossip of a servant. Could buy the loyalty of information.

The “little thief” and his father visited the great city on the sea on its lonely shore and the boy could tell his father was uncomfortable. He thrived in the wilderness where merchants did not shout from stalls and samurai earned their keep. But Kozo felt a strange kinship with these people, their Daidoji lords.

Kozo saw the urchins in the streets, the servants of the samurai, even the merchants themselves as part of a larger whole. They were not people. They were the environment and could be manipulated. They did it to themselves. They tried to do it to each other and so often failed.

A war broke out. Or a battle. Some faraway fight that required Kozo’s father and so he was left with friends in the city and in a year the word came. He was an orphan, deprived of mother at birth, father to wasted greed. Kozo fled into the city in his grief.

A year passed, then two, and the boy survived like his cousins in the swamp, living off the land.

Stealing what he needed to eat, surviving however he could. Until the day he met the Lady.

She was still a Phoenix then. Isawa Umeko, betrothed to the Daidoji Governor, Kaito. She was beautiful beyond her reputation. When Kozo first saw her, high above in her palanquin, she looked down on the city. Not out of disrespect or disgust, but with an intelligent eye that surveyed a need.

Days after her arrival she began to visit the city proper, the “low city” with its dirty people. She was compassionate and she gave herself to any needy cause.

Kozo knew she had more money than he would ever likely see on some meager merchant, or so he thought. He did not yet understand that the kuge, the high samurai like her, would not deign to carry such a base thing as coin.

He made his move one twilight eve as she walked among the heimin and the eta, uncaring of their filth upon her soul. He was just another boy in need of rice. A boy who wanted to touch this princess of a woman. His fingers found her silk robes and wriggled into a wooden pouch. They plucked away a tiny box, a box she had not opened in years.

He held his prize close and slipped away imagining riches and wealth beyond his dreams. The box did not open easily, but with a knife and a little time, he pried the lid. Inside was nothing but a tiny wooden doll, like a father would give his daughter.

Kozo picked it up in disgust and his mind went blank. The world shifted and he was a little girl looking up at her father’s soulful eyes and bright smile. He felt her warmth as she was given the toy. He felt her sadness in the memory at his death.

Cold, hard hands yanked him back to the world. In seconds the yojimbo who had bound him close held the boy before the woman.

“Who are you, boy?” The Lady asked with pity in her eyes. They would beat him when she was gone and there was nothing she could do. Her gaze seized him, took hold his heart.

“He had sad, brown eyes and a scar that made him fierce to others. But he could not scare you.”
The Isawa’s eyes widened. Kozo knew he had done something wrong. They took him back. Interrogated him. He told her the truth, all of it. Who he was, what he had done, and how he adored her.

“He is samurai,” they said. And his life changed again.

Days passed. He was in the barracks of the Daidoji guards. He stood before the huge man who had seized him tight. Daidoji Tomoe, soon to become the Karo to the Governor. Then, he served a much different role.

“You are samurai, boy. You have Hiramori blood. Daidoji blood. I can see the crazy remnants of Hira in your eyes when you look at me. Let us use that, you and I.”

The boy became a man. Kozo became Daidoji Ishikawa, devoted and loyal servant to the Governor’s spymaster. He was both eyes and ears and he learned to listen. He spent time amongst his family and trained in their ways. He went to war, to battle, and fought behind enemy lines in sordid ways.
He returned and relearned the city. Relearned its people.

“It speaks, if you listen. And what it has to say may benefit us all. Let me teach you of the rats.”
They would tie to them little messages or paint them with dyes and makeup. They would teach their eyes and ears, their little rats, to do the same. Kozo who had become Ishikawa learned fast and in short order was their master.

“King Rat, O-Nezumi. That’s you. Don’t ever speak to them in person. Always use the codes and secret ways and your army of spies can never betray you.”

And every now and then he would see her again, the Lady. She became the Governor’s wife and took on his household, but she made time for him each month. He knew it was because of what he had seen. What he continued to see, in fits and spurts.

“Concentrate. Not on what you hold, but how it feels. Tell me who held it last.”

She taught him to control his strange ability and he cherished every second her tutelage like a gift.
It was an idyllic world of purpose and the joy of love unrequited. The world was wonder and he was unique in his service. Spymaster and sometime assassin. Loyal killer with a special gift.

When the final days came it was her he found he missed the most.

It happened fast. He picked up a strange letter, a gift from one of his little rats wrapped in cloth. She had not touched it with her grimy hands, her paws. So when he revealed its contents and focused, he knew he would see who wrote it.

He could not tell them by name, but in his heart he knew them to be liars and conspirators working against his lord. He saw shadowed faces and knew they spoke dark words. He could feel them and their treachery, but could not see them clearly.

To go forth with this knowledge could make him look weak. Pathetic. He had nothing concrete. To tell his lord that men worked against him in the dark would be no surprise. But he knew this was different. These men were deadly.

Ishikawa wandered for a time in the city until he came to a meager peasant tea house. A man sat looking down at his empty cup examining the leaves.

“You should sit. Father told me to wait for you here. You are going to ask me a question.”

And so he did. Should he tell his lord and put himself at risk? Perhaps demean himself in the eyes of his betters? Or should he keep a vigilant watch instead?

“Should King Rat expose his belly?” The strange man looked up at the twilight sky, up at nothing. Then he nodded. “Father says you should.”

Perplexed by the encounter, Ishikawa spent days in confusion. Nonetheless, in the end he went back to Daidoji Tomoe, the Karo of his master, and spoke every word he knew.

“You will come before the lord tomorrow. You will tell him what you told me.”

But the conspirators struck first. That evening the world fell apart. The Governor stood accused. His household was in question. Ishikawa had waited too long, but he could remember the vague outlines of their faces. He thought he could still help.

He went before the open court and told them. Except for Umeko, they dismissed his nonsense out of hand.

That night the conspirators left him a message in his room.

Keep tight your lips and expose no secrets or you shall suffer.

He would not. He was too stubborn. And because he could not heed their warning they destroyed everything he loved.

As his lord and lady fell to gossip and conspiracy, the dark men singled him out for punishment. They wanted others to know what would happen to one who sought to expose them.

He awoke in Daidoji Tomoe’s private chambers next to the bloodied corpse of the Spymaster’s wife.

They found him with her blood all over. They arrested him and shamed him. As Tomoe and the others took their own lives for a different shame, he was paraded as a coward and weakling.

Ishikawa would have died, then, were it not for another shadow in the dark. Outside his barren rooms a voice whispered in the night.

“I can get you free, my friend, and give you a chance to seek vengeance against your foes. For they are my foes too and I would see them fall.”

The Scorpion showed him the way and Daidoji Ishikawa fled. He took on a mask of some fallen Scorpion soldier banished for cowardice from his clan. He vanished into the city, yet another ronin amid dozens more.

Days later, he saw the strange man at the tea house once again. This time he moved little coins around on the table. Again, he looked up and spoke as if expecting Ishikawa.

“You need a new name, now. Perhaps an old one? Father says the first one was good.”
And he became Kozo once more.


King Rat

Character Sheet Details

Hiramori Seko (birth name); Kozo (orphan name); Daidoji Ishikawa (samurai name); King Rat, O-Nezumi (Spymaster name); Kozo (ronin name)

PC Ties
[Jason] – Kozo has felt a strange kinship with the Void Mystic whose advice led him toward the path that would make him ronin. He speaks to the man on a regular basis, listening to the advice of Father and waiting for the day when the man might offer mystical advice on how to defeat the conspirators.

Game of 20 Questions and Other information
1. Clan? Former Crane, now Ronin; pretends to be a former Scorpion; feels betrayed by his clan, but knows that the treachery that made him lose everything he had is still present
a. Seeks its removal
2. Family? Former Daidoji; Hiramori vassal family; backwoods; spent a few years as an orphan in Mura Sabishii Toshi; appreciates a more rural lifestyle, but feels most comfortable in the dirty streets of Lonely Shore City
3. Role? Bushi; focus on hunting, ambush, kill; deception and dirty tactics; growing up as a Crane has given him a canny attitude regarding the court as well
4. Appearance? Kozo is a forgettable ronin in a broken, dirty mask. His daisho is stained and worn, his kimono in tatters, and more than once he’s been seen to interact too closely with animals. Under the mask he cultivates a dirty-ish appearance that makes him look as far from the clean spymaster he was before as possible.
a. When interacting as King Rat to the spy network, Kozo tends to play up the dirty appearance even more and carries a pet rat with him (even if he had to capture it in the streets).
5. Motivation? Kozo is motivated by a desire to punish those who destroyed those who cared for him and pulled him out of the muck. He is loyal to their memory, but his pragmatism does not allow for honor to get in the way of a quiet vengeance.
a. Kozo does not care if others know it was him that wreaked the destruction on these enemies. He simply wants them to suffer and die.
6. Trust? Kozo has a strong trust for the strange Void Mystic (Jason) that set him on the path of personal damnation. In a way, the strange man caused Kozo to be singled out. He would likely not be alive today had they not targeted him for slander.
a. Kozo also holds a certain devotion to the Scorpion who aided him into his current guise, though he is naturally distrustful of the clan, as always.
b. Kozo sees certain of the other ronin who lost their roles in the household of the former lords as true allies, though he is wary. He knows what a man will stoop too once honor is lost.
7. Strength/Weakness? Kozo has a profound ability to remain unseen, to learn, to see what others will not see and to use that information against his foes. He is patient, quiet, and calm. However, he is self-punishing. Kozo sees his current state as natural. What man could expect to rise out of the muck of the Hiramori and a time as a common peasant and stay as a samurai?
a. Kozo also has a weakness for the past. At times he finds himself drifting into old thoughts and ways. To the canny observer of history, Kozo’s actions belie anachronistic tendencies that show a pattern. This pattern is one of the only things that makes him remarkable and could be his downfall.
8. Bushido? Kozo sees its value, but rides the line between observing honor and giving it away for pragmatic purposes. He has lived too long in the swamps and streets to adhere to a perfect mindset of honor. He does consider the Crane adherence to excellence to be of great value and puts every ounce of himself into each action.
9. Clan Opinion? There are no clans like the Crane. Their culture, their wealth, their power and influence on society at large. Yet, despite learning the ways of his parent clan, Kozo never truly felt at peace within the stereotypical trappings of the Crane. In a way, becoming ronin has freed him from the expectations of society to act as he wishes.
10. Married? Kozo came close, but the downfall of his former master ruined any chance of the Crane making a suitable match for him. The only woman he ever loved provided a matronly feeling, not one of romance.
11. Prejudices? Kozo is favorably disposed to both the Phoenix and the Scorpion, though specifically because of his interactions with the Lady Umeko and his Scorpion savior. He sees the Unicorn as most – filthy gaijin-tainted barbarians. The Lion hold too tightly to their honor making them easy to manipulate and predict. The Dragon are strange and to be avoided. In the Crab Kozo feels an easy peace, though dislikes their constant talk of the corruption of the Shadowlands.
12. Loyalty? The memory of Lady Umeko and her husband’s household.
13. Favorite/Least? Kozo enjoys being anonymous. Listening in the dark for secrets. Whispering on the grapevine as King Rat to the little eyes and ears. He despises situations that put him into the limelight and draw all eyes.
14. Recurring Mannerisms? As King Rat, Kozo dresses consistently (see above) and always leaves behind some sign of a painted or “marked” rat for his spies to see. When Kozo falls into the perils of anachronism he tends to speak with a kind of old, backwoods accent and talks of people and places long dead. In combat, Kozo falls back to an unassuming position, always trying to appear less deadly than he is.
15. Emotions? Kozo feels a quiet hatred of the current status quo of Lonely Shore City. He rarely expresses it in the open, but holds onto the pangs of loss. He feels a certain kinship with the downtrodden heimin, eta, merchants, and ji-samurai of the city. He feels fear just below the surface of his skin anytime he is around magistrates or their servants, especially the keen-eyed Doji or the perceptive Kitsuki. Kozo is very tolerant of behavior out of the norm.
16. Improper Behavior? As a ronin, goshi, and former orphan, Kozo’s view of “proper behavior” has a great deal of leeway. He doesn’t tolerate incompetence or negligence, but is forgiving of exotic quirks. That being said, Kozo does have a Crane value on proper society and feels more comfortable around Crane than Unicorn.
17. Parents Description? Kozo’s mother died in the swamps when he was young and his father off in a distant battle. He had numerous siblings in the Hiramori and dozens of cousins in the Hiramichi and other Daidoji families. However, the sheer size of his family left Kozo capable of vanishing into anonymity. Most of his old family would not recognize him now and would look down on him as ronin scum. Kozo doesn’t often think of his father, but when he does he knows that the man would likely spit on what he has become. Even the backwoods Hiramori have standards.
18. Highest Ambition? Discover the source of the treachery that forced Lady Umeko’s death and ruin those involved.
19. Religious? Kozo holds the proper devotions to the minor and major fortunes and Kami alike, but does not expect that their eyes will turn favorably to him. He feels a strong kinship with ancestor worship of the Daidoji, most especially Daidoji Hira himself. Kozo will venture at least once a week to a shrine to burn incense (or whatever he can afford) to pray to these ancestors.
a. As a special note, Kozo has begun to see [Jason’s character]’s views on “Father” in a favorable fashion. He has seen too many times the unusual man’s talks of the Void come to positive fruition.
20. How will your character die?
a. Discovered and hanged or executed by a magistrate.
b. Or perhaps found dead and disgraced in the rooms of the “great lord” whose ambitions ruined Lady Umeko, no one the wiser for his actions.
c. Or dirty and bloody in the swampy mud, killed by his own family.

Other Thoughts
Regarding the 36 Plots, Kozo’s story should follow the 47 Ronin idea of Deliverance. He sees the current state of affairs as imbalanced. He seeks to rectify this corruption of the proper way and redeem the honor of Lady Umeko and her husband.

Advantages and Disadvantages (in detail)

Inner Gift: Spirit Touch
Kozo was born with the strange ability to perceive physical memory. The Lady Umeko helped him learn how to understand this ability and in his time with her, Kozo fell into a devoted love. Her death hit him harder than any of the others.

Kozo does not know it, but he is the reincarnated soul of Daidoji Hira, the mad samurai whose actions led to the creation of the Hiramichi and Hiramori families.

Spy Network
Kozo used the moniker “King Rat” when speaking to the devoted servants of his spy network. He cultivated a careful loyalty of servants, peasants, dock workers, and low-ranking heimin by seeking out those for whom he could do some favor. For one old servant he provided the knowledge of the man’s only grandson and helped to reunite them. For a fisherman he dealt with a brutal ronin who stole from him daily.

Kozo still uses this spy network as the individuals who are part of it owe their loyalty to the shadowy figure King Rat. Kozo uses a system of codes, markings, and sometimes even actual rats marked with dyes and paints. He keeps two, Hairo (grey) and Midori (green) as pets. Hairo is a fat grey with scars of battle. Midori has been painted green so many times her fur is stained.

Way of the Land
Kozo is intimately familiar with the city and the surrounding provinces, to include the Uebe Marshes and Akagi Forest.

Daidoji Ishikawa has a bounty on his head for the murder of Daidoji Tomoe’s wife. That the woman would have committed jigai after her husband’s eventual seppuku does not matter. When they found him she had been brutally murdered in a disgusting display, filth covered pong sticks stabbed into her body on all sides.

All of the Crane magistrates of Mura Sabishii Toshi know to keep a look out for Ishikawa, so he must remain hidden. He plays a careful game when tapping into the spy network as “King Rat” because he knows that one or more of the magistrates might try to use his old connections against him. Fortunately, they do not know his system of codes and ciphers.

Additionally, Ishikawa has rewrapped his blades and tossed all markers of his old life. He considers himself a true ronin, now, despite his loyalty to a long-dead Daidoji and his wife.

Kozo owes a major obligation to the Scorpion who provided him escape. Need to expand on who this could be in the game.

Kozo wears a dirty, faded mask from the long-dead Scorpion whom he is imitating. It is an eggshell that used to be remarkable for its style. Now it is cracked, the paint fading or absent in places, one eye-hole broken open just a little too wide.

GM Questions
Way of the Land – is it acceptable to take it for the province? Would the city be separate or would it include the entire Sabishii Province?

Mechanical Notes:

7k3 (Rank 3 + Reflexes 4)

• [Ref 4] x5 = 20
• (Def 3 x2) 6
• 5 (Light Armor)
• 4 (if using Kata in Defense Stance)
• 7 (if using Defense Stance)
• Defense/Reflexes (half total roll) (Full Defense) (Complex)
• Totals
o Normal: 31
o Defense: 42
o Full Defense: 31+Half Roll

Skill Rolls:
- Stealth +5k0 (5 Skill); +4k4 (4 Agility); +1k0 (Bland); +1k0 (Rank 1); +2k0 (Rank 3)
- Hunting +3k0 (Rank 3); +3k3 (Perception); +1k0 (Rank 1)
- Temptation +2k0 (Rank 3); +1k0 (Reincarnated)
- Investigation +5k0 (5 skill); +3k3 (Perception); +2k0 (Rank 3); +1k0 (Reincarnated); +5 (Mastery)
- Forgery +3k0 (3 skill); +4k4 (4 Agility); +1k0 (Reincarnated); +1k0 (Mastery)
- Defense +3k0 (3 skill); +4k4 (4 Reflexes)

Emphasis Abilities
• Knives 3: Off-hand penalties do not apply when using a knife.
• Etiquette 3: +3 Insight
• Defense 3: May keep previous result of Defense/Reflexes roll if Full Defense maintained.
• Forgery 3: +1k0 to Forgery Skill for purposes of establishing TN of Investigation/Perception to detect.
• Investigation 5: 2nd attempt to use Search can be made without TN increase; +5 to all Contested Rolls using Investigation
• Kyujutsu 4: Stringing a bow for use is a Simple Action rather than Complex.
• Stealth 5: Simple Move Actions in Stealth allow you to move equal to Water x 10.

- Attack Bonuses:
o 3k0 Knives (Kama); +4k4 (Agility)
o +4k0 Kyujutsu (Yumi); +4k4 (Reflexes)
o +2k0 if Unaware (Rank 2)
o +2k1Full Attack
o +1k1 Void
o +1k1
2 Center

- Damage
o 1k0 (if weapon skill 3) (Kata)
o Kama +0k2 +3k0 (Strength)
o Yumi + Ya (Willow Leaf) +3k0 +2k2

Need to Buy:
• Stealth (Shadowing)
• Investigation (Interrogation, Notice, Search)
• Forgery (Official Papers)
• Ranks in Stealth, Investigation, Forgery, Temptation, Knives, Kyujutsu, Sleight of Hand, Defense
• Void 3
• Fire 4
• Perception 4
• Willpower 3

Kozo, King Rat

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