Is there some combination of mechanics available at character generation that would make a reasonable substitute for the Shiba's Rank 1 Guard as a Free Action technique? This technique allows the Shiba to actively defend their ward and attack in the same turn. I am looking for the best combination of other mechanics (Techniques, Kata, etc.) that allow a player to do something similar without being a Shiba Bushi. All 4e Rokugani options are theoretically available but if you can do it with the core book, that would be better. The yojimbo must be viable at character creation (that means no skill or trait over Rank 4, Insight Rank 1, under 50 points including flaws, etc). Combinations that rely on expandables (spell slots, void points) are probably not going to be useful but I'll certainly entertain them.

Edit: This is only an example and is not indicative of the challenge but hopefully will help stem further "roleplaying" related questions. The yojimbo and ward are stuck in a cave surrounded by Shadowlands creatures. The cave has a 2 person wide entrance, so either the ward stands in the entrance or shadowlands creatures can potentially get through (meaning consistent control would work). The yojimbo and ward have no means of escape and if the yojimbo is a shugenja (for some reason) they have 2 spell slots open (your choice). They cannot be used for any means of escape. Either the yojimbo or ward WILL die before help has a chance to arrive. The creatures will prefer to attack the ward on any turn the yojimbo does not do damage and is not easier to hit/damage. Can I build a Rank 1 starting character as a yojimbo and by the RAW, besides a Shiba, who can ensure the yojimbo dies first.

Things that have been suggested and will not work:

  • A Rank 2 Daidoji Iron Warrior - is not Rank 1 and is not viable even with a full 50 experience points.
  • Stand Against the Waves - Costs the ward (shugenja) up to two chances to attack and a spell slot, which means the shugenja is better off being built to attack.

1. Hoshi Tsurui Monk (Imperial Histories pg214)

Quite possibly the only way to mimic and well nay beat out the Shiba ability is to use these monks. They get exactly one Tattoo to start, which you should pick the Wind Tattoo, because that free simple action that can't be used to attack can be used to Guard and leaves a complex action in your hands to make attacks. For the Kiho that come with it, I recommend:

  • The Body is an Anvil (Fire 4, Core pg264)
  • Destiny Strikes (Fire 4, Core pg264)

They start with a 4 Void, which means the points to raise fire to a 3 for the Kiho leaves you with spreading out your skills a bit. Take Athletics 3 for the movement saver, Jiujitsu 3, Defense 2 and the other skills don't really matter. As a matter of fact I recommend using Ascetic, Doubt(one of your two choice skills, let's say staves), and Dependent (IE the ward) to fill out the 10pts. Buy Hands of Stone for 5. Play it right and you start with Insight Rank 2, although it may not be considered fair to spam skills for insight.

But if you can have the second rank, I recommend - Soul of the Four Winds (Air 4 pg261) as a way to compensate for your lousy Armor TN.

2. Utaku Battle Maiden

An Utaku Battle Maiden starts with an Utaku warhorse, which does not need any sort of special training or skill rolls to attack. The Utaku and Steed can potentially Guard for each other, either or both can potentially go into Full Defense to avoid damage, and either or both can attack, inflicting maximum damage.

3. Asahina Shugenja (Core pg110)

Don't overlook such an obvious advantage as reducing all damage opponents deal to everyone as long as you're close. This includes protecting the yojimbo even if it's not you.

  • Blessed Wind (Air 1, Core pg167) is an obvious spell that because of the Defense tag you already get a free raise to cast in one turn and it's a sustained effect. Of course you'll have to be in Attack Stance if you're the Yojimbo - a Simple to Concentrate and to Guard.

  • Swell of the Storm (Water 1, Book of Water pg181) is another Defense spell you can take that you can easily raise a time or two for multiple aggressors and have your allies perform coup de grace on the prone opponents without having to go into Full Attack

4. Tamori Shugenja (Core pg113, Lead Suggestion)

With the ability to "precast" some of their buff spells, a Tamori can - Be in Attack Stance, applying a potion with one simple and guarding with the other - Be in Defend Stance, and guarding.

There's no chance of spell failure, the time to cast is already spent.

  • Armor of Earth (Earth 1, Core 173) gives reduction, which means it's only effective if the ward is hit but it's definitely something to not overlook.
  • Minor Binding (Earth 1, Core 174) would be a fun way, especially with the right narrative to chain can make a creature into a barrier for its allies. However it is fairly limited if there is a swarm.
  • Grasp of the Earth (Earth 2, Core 176) Could easily be lobbed at any opponent that gets past this shugenja and allow the ward to spend rounds moving deeper into the cave.
  • Embrace of Kenro-Ji-Jin (Earth 2, Core 176) puts the ward underground and thus invulnerable to conventional enemies and allowing them to escape if the battle turns hairy.
  • Be the Mountain (Earth 2, Core 175) grants a rather nice Reduction for a while keeping the ward safer.
  • Fires of Purity (Fire 1, Core 181) once again relies on the ward getting hit, and does not work on projectile attacks but it's there.

5. Bayushi Bushi (Core pg126)

Keep their initiative high, and a Bayushi bushi effectively negates the armor TN to themselves for the Guard action. This is an investment because with a higher TN, someone attacking them to get rid of the difficulty may be lured into a Full Attack and quite easily exploited in the Bayushi's next action. If the ward is the Bayushi, getting an additional +10 Armor TN from being guarded will surely make the yojimbo an appealing target.

  • Breath of Wind Style [Kata] (Air 3, Core pg259) helps assure the high initiative as well as the Quick advantage.
  • Veiled Menace Style [Kata] (Air 4, Core pg260) is useful if you happen to drop a few ranks into stealth, which is still fairly cheap.
  • The World is Empty [Kata] (Air or Fire 4, Book of Fire pg180) Couldn't hurt, especially with an Air of 4 to make your base Armor TN 25, plus armor, plus school and for as long as you can keep from using Void Points you can slay for a while especially if combined with...
  • North Wind Style [Kata] (Air 4, Book of Air pg175) can be a valuable asset for those opportune strikes.

6. Kuni Shugenja School(Core pg107)

Since you mentioned Shadowlands Creatures I would be remiss if I didn't at least touch on it.

  • Earth Becomes Sky (Earth 2, Core 179) is a great way to dispense of a few different opponents at once. If you're allowing some narrative into this and the bodies don't just disappear video game style, you could argue that the opening volley plugs the mouth of the cave with any of the dead bodies, especially if there are larger opponents. Further narratives would say that the boulders could be used in a shoving match.

7. Yogo Wardmaster (Great Clans 229)

If the Bayushi bushi is your ward, this is an alternative Yojimbo method to the Tamori Shugenja. A prepared Ward Paper can be used as a Simple Action to cast a spell while saving the other Simple Action for the Guard action.

See above for notes on Fires of Purity and Armor of Earth.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The Kuni doesn't really fit the point of the exercise and the other shugenja options are a little on "eh" side because they rely so heavily on the expendables, but you do make a good point about the Simple Actions. (Too bad Meishodo doesn't reduce to a Simple; it does almost nothing for Rank 1s.) The Hoshi Tsurui Monk is probably the perfect answer in an abstract sense, though. \$\endgroup\$ – Wesley Obenshain Aug 11 '14 at 7:59

The effective yojinbo isn't such by the mechanical effects of their rank-derived abilities. It's by seeing to it they are reading the situation, and making the credible threats.

In other words, you are attempting to solve a Role-play issue with a mechanical substitute.

Use your skills to intimidate opponents; remove your ward before fights begin, and if a fight begins, end it quickly and fatally.

Further: the Guard action is a meaningful participation - just not an active one. It's a choice to hold back and defend another in lieu of fighting the threat - a choice that can and should be a risk.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a valid answer. One does not need to use the guard action to protect someone. Getting them out of the area is great. Getting the attacked to back off is great. Unless you are being attacked by mindless zombies on a featureless open plain. (in which case you should specify that in the question.) \$\endgroup\$ – Lyndon White Jul 11 '14 at 17:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've edited the question to clarify what I'm asking and it should be clear now why this is not a helpful answer, if you want to edit or delete it. \$\endgroup\$ – Wesley Obenshain Jul 12 '14 at 6:32

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