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The Rokugan campaign setting for Dungeons and Dragons, Third Edition says that "[n]on-humans and characters not native to Rokugan may not select the" feat Void Use (55), yet the inkyo (41-5) gains at level 1 the feat Void Use. Does a nonhuman or nonnative creature that takes a level of inkyo nonetheless gain the feat Void Use? If the creature does gain it, can the creature also employ the feat's benefits?

I'd prefer an official stance, like a sidebar or a published example of a nonhuman (other than naga) or nonnative with the feat Void Use, perhaps gained by taking inkyo levels or through DM fiat. Lacking an official stance, textual analysis and close reading is acceptable.

Background

I'm making a list of feats for the typical kitchen sink Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 campaign, and AEG's Oriental Adventures line (that is, Legends of the Five Rings, Second Edition) is officially licensed from Wizards of the Coast, making it—let's call it—semi-official, similar to material for Dragonlance and some of Kingdoms of Kalamar. The goal is to list the feats that can be included in a homebrew campaign without significantly altering the feat or the campaign, and changing the feat Void Use so any creature can take it as an standalone feat I think would be significant.

So a lot of effort is saved if nonnative Rokugani just can't have the feat Void Use as the feat's a prerequisite for many of feats in the line, but if a player's backstory has his ghostwise halfling (or krinth or wild dwarf) studying at the only Brotherhood of Shinsei monastery in Faerûn and taking a level of inkyo, I want to be on solid ground when I say, "Sorry, man, a ghostwise halfling can't have the feat Void Use." (I'd let him replace it with a different kiho feat—I'm not a monster.)

An answer might end up, instead or also, drawing from Legend of the Five Rings lore, which is fine, but keep in mind that my only exposure to L5R is through the Oriental Adventures line—nothing earlier and nothing later—, and much of that I've not read deeply. In other words, if there are nezumi inkyo running around Rokugan spending crazy amount of void points in L5R3, that could be the basis for an answer, but keep such lore simple enough for a newcomer to understand.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is extremely difficult to answer. But I did my best. \$\endgroup\$ – Ruut Feb 8 '16 at 4:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ruut It is a tough question, not only because the concepts draw from two wildly mechanically different games but also because the material itself is relatively obscure, seems unpopular with fans of both systems, and over a decade old. Thanks for giving it a shot. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Feb 8 '16 at 5:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ruut Upon reflection, it may be a better choice to suggest the example's ghostwise halfling take levels in monk (ew) but let him know that studying at the only Brotherhood of Shinsei monastery in Faerûn qualifies the character to take the feat Different School (Rokugan 50) therefore allowing the character to take a clan's technique feats. Inkyo might just be a Rokugan-specific class, which is unusual but not crazy. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Feb 8 '16 at 5:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ I added the ghostwise ew example to my answer, and also provided an IRL example for consideration. \$\endgroup\$ – Ruut Feb 8 '16 at 5:37
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I can't find any example of Non-Native Rokugani (besides Naga and Oni) that have the Void Use Feat.

I have looked through at least 10 different Legend of the Five Rings books - All of "The Way..." books and the Campaign Setting book. No Example in Dragon or Dungeon Magazine either.

The only reason I could think of... it is a Setting Specific feat. Could it be adapted outside of Rokugan? Absolutely.


The Void exists in Greyhawk.

Complete Divine

  • The Shugenja core class, pg. 10. While it doesn't have a specific mention of a feat called Void Use, it does describe the 5th Element of the Void:

    Adventures: Shugenjas often adventure to increase their magical knowledge and personal power. They are particularly drawn to investigate disturbances in the natural harmony of the four classical elements (earth, air, fire, and water). Some shugenjas dedicate their lives to keeping the world’s magic in balance, while others simply crave the power that the unchecked elements offer. Still others are drawn to plumb the depths of magic for magic’s own sake, hoping eventually to learn the mysteries of void, the “fifth element” that binds the others together. [emphasis: bold]

  • The Order of Ineffible Mysteries is briefly described on pg. 13:

    The shugenjas of the Order of the Ineffable Mystery can specialize in any of the four elements. The Ineffable Mystery also trains shugenjas who specialize the fifth element, void. [emphasis: bold]

  • The Void Disciple prestige class, pg. 72. While it isn't specifically a feat called Void Use, nearly every power is Void (Insert Text).

Complete Arcane

  • Voidsense. Invocation for warlocks on pg. 136. Warlocks are often described as channeling the power of fiends. The Oni within Oriental Adventures are fiends and have lots of lore surrounding The Void.


Rokugan is Designed to be Refluffed

For example, it is noted that while barbarians are appropriate for the Unicorn clan, the barbarian class can be used to represent "beserkers" who are not true barbarians in some Rokugan families. Rangers are also noted as being appropriate to Rokugan, but their spell-casting ability is somewhat out of place. Rangers other than the fox clan and the naga are allowed to take fighter feats instead of access to a new level of spells.

The Inkyo, or enlightened monk, represents a slightly different, less martial monk than the one presented in the PHB. The Inkyo does receive unarmed combat abilities similar to a monk. Their damage progression is slower than the core monk and they do not have the faster attack progression and flurry of blows ability, nor stunning fist or most other standard monk abilities. They do, however, learn how to use "void" points to enhance their rolls or AC, gain a great resistance to elemental magic, and receive a number of free "kiho" feats, which represent esoteric martial arts techniques.

Does that mean PHB Monks should simply be removed from Rokugan? I don't think so. There should be the mix of Enlightened and Non-Enlightened.


What is Rokugan?

Rokugan is just a city-state within an unnamed land mass; savvy DM's could very well adapt that unnamed land mass to certainly be within Kara Tur of the Forgotten Realms.

Gaijin was the Rokugani word for an outsider or foreigner. This essentially meant anyone who was not Rokugani.


Ten distinct nations and regions in Kara Tur1:

  • Shou Lung: Imperial China
  • T'u Lung: Historical dissident states based in South China during eras of political disunity (i.e. Nanzhao and Kingdom of Dali, formerly centred in present-day Yunnan province)
  • Wa: Feudal Japan (Edo Period)
  • Kozakura: Japan[5]/Ryukyu Islands (Ashikaga period)
  • Northern Wastes: Historical non-Sinic tribal societies of Manchuria or Northeast China
  • Tabot: Tibet
  • Koryo: Korea
  • The Island Kingdoms: Pre-colonial Hindu-influenced civilizations of Indonesia and the Philippines.
  • The Plain of Horses: Historical Mongolia. This region is the Kara-Tur portion of the Hordelands, also known as the Endless Wastes.
  • The Jungle Lands of Malatra: Pre-colonial civilizations of Indochina (historical versions of the Khmer Empire and Vietnam) as well as the hill tribes inspired by their real-life Southeast Asian counterparts.

It wouldn't be a stretch to modify the list of nations above to say, replace Kozakura with Rokugan. The Hordelands received some special attention in Dragon #349 with d20 in mind. They are not Rokugani. However, they are within the realm of Oriental Adventures; would be Gaijin; and would/should qualify for Void Use feats.


Black Heart of the Empire2

The Black Heart of the Empire was another name for the Shadowlands, and in opinion of Ide Tadaji should be considered as a part of the Empire.

"Should be considered as a part of..." is a strong implication that the Shadowlands are actually not a part of the Empire - therefore would not be Rokugani. Inhabitants of the Shadowlands are known throughout the source material to have Taint and practice Void Use as well as anyone else.

But the most legendary Courtier seems to think that the Shadowlands should be a part of Rokugan...

Nezumi are native to the Shadowlands:

The nezumi, or "ratlings" as they are often called by humans, are a race of bipedal ratlike humanoids. In Rokugan, they are an ancient race native to the Shadowlands.

Immune to the Shadowlands Taint: Nezumi can never acquire a Taint score, and suffer no ill effects from exposure to the Shadowlands.


If I Were DM...

Personally, I would allow it, but treat it as other Regional feats; if a player not from that region wanted such feats, then appropriate ranks in Knowledge (Local-Rokugan) 5 ranks or so should be a sufficient "requirement."

I personally believe that Nezumi are just as familiar with Void Use as anyone else would be in Rokugan. Therefore, I would allow a Nezumi Inkyo to take full advantage of:

Void Use: Inkyo gain this feat for free at first level.


Learning The Way... in a Different Way

In Rokugan pg. 50, there is a feat available to any and all clans called Different School:

If you remain on good terms with another clan you can learn their feats as if you are a member of that clan. If you are a shugenja you may learn their spells, except for those from an element barred to you. You can take this feat multiple times provided you find a willing teacher.

Throughout history, conjecture aside, there have been traveling masters, courtiers, and ambassadors spreading "the way" (no matter what the subject is) to different societies in order to "get this for that" or whatnot.

A perfect example in recent and in-real-life history is Mitsuyo Maeda settling in Brazil, and teaching Carlos Gracie his Jiu Jitsu. Henceforth, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was born3.

If a Ghostwise Halfing Monk (...yeah) studied at an appropriate school of such a traveling master, got on good terms, was able to take the feat that allowed a clan technique (of clans that had Inkyo has a class); why not?


Footnotes

1https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kara-Tur#Nations
2http://l5r.wikia.com/wiki/Shadowlands#Black_Heart_of_the_Empire
3http://www.shenwu.com/bjjhistory.html

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Regular ol' unenlightened PH monks exist in Rokugan alongside inkyo (Way of the Open Hand lists a couple, for instance). My takeaway from your answer is that, despite the presence of void in other settings, Rokugan-specific use of the void a la the feat Void Use would require significantly altering either the feat (the DM just allowing a non-Rokugani to take it) or the campaign (the DM incorporating Rokugan or its analogue into the campaign). Is that accurate? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Feb 8 '16 at 5:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Magic is rather weak in Rokugan. Wu-Jen are NOT as powerful as a Wizard. So setting specific Void Usage is probably their compensation. I believe your take-away is accurate. \$\endgroup\$ – Ruut Feb 8 '16 at 5:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ Rokugan says, "Nezumi may not learn the Void Use feat" (26). I mean, like, straight up. An argument could be made that the feat Void Use is available to any creature lacking such a note. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan May 9 '16 at 19:32

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