Thursday, March 30, 2023

d20x5 Raffish Ronins

    This post is part of a draft swap with friend-of-the-blog semiurge, in the style of one his worryingly-numerous and continually-multiplying d20x5 lists. I'm not altogether confident in this strange button generation technology, so if it doesn't work then simply roll your d20s by hand like we used to do in the motherland.

Source: Samurai by KidKazuya

This Ronin’s Master...

  1. ascended to a higher state of existence, leaving their servants behind.
  2. died in their sleep, and this ronin fled before they could be buried alive with the rest of their lord’s retinue.
  3. was killed by venomous treachery, and the ronin seeks evidence for an indisputable accusation.
  4. went mad, and this ronin assassinated them before they could do abhorrent harm.
  5. faked their death and fled their responsibilities.
  6. was erased from everyone else’s memory by vile magic while an imposter took their place.
  7. cast them aside for disobeying an order.
  8. was forced to commit suicide for insulting a daimyo.
  9. was killed by a stray arrow on the battlefield.
  10. was mauled by a bear on a hunting trip.
  11. was struck by lightning out of the blue, and this was generally taken as an omen of some secret iniquity.
  12. was fatally cursed by a sorcerer whose community they persecuted.
  13. was poisoned by an alchemist who claimed to possess the elixir of immortality.
  14. disowned them after scapegoating them for their heir’s scandalous behavior.
  15. was revealed to be three much-smaller masters in a trenchcoat.
  16. had himself beheaded in a successful bid to humiliate a hated rival.
  17. wandered far into the dark lands, and did not return.
  18. returned home to Alabama after a semi-failed insurrection.
  19. died gruesomely in a plague that took the lives of all his family and all other servants.
  20. doesn't even know the ronin is gone yet.

This Ronin Might Be Found...

  1. drowning their sorrows in drink.
  2. as hired muscle for a local gang.
  3. working as a bodyguard for some middling elite.
  4. protecting a village from bandits in return for food and shelter.
  5. picking fights with anyone who looks at them funny.
  6. throwing fights in an illegal gladiatorial ring.
  7. contemplating falling leaves.
  8. meditating beneath a waterfall.
  9. observing people going about their daily lives.
  10. boiling rice in their helmet.
  11. training a local militia.
  12. diving for something shiny they spotted.
  13. trying to negotiate with prostitutes for a discount.
  14. honing each of their weapons and tools to a razor-edge.
  15. worshiping silently at an off-the-beaten-track temple.
  16. sucking up to a real samurai.
  17. slicing a tall young tree as many times as they can before it falls, to keep themselves fast.
  18. punching a gnarled old tree as many times as they can before their hands break, to keep themselves strong.
  19. painstakingly copying the beautiful calligraphy of a book they can't read.
  20. gorging themselves on abandoned stew after slaying a camp of bandits.  

This Ronin’s Sword and Armor...

  1. are cheap but well taken care of. They had to sell their old stuff to survive, and couldn’t afford decent replacements
  2. are decorated with fish motifs.
  3. are a household object repurposed for combat.
  4. are plated with silver.
  5. are painted with a crimson lacquer.
  6. have been folded from alchemically-hardened paper.
  7. are mostly for show, as the ronin is a master of Sumo and Judo, and prefers to fight with teeth and bare knuckles.
  8. are antiques stolen from a shrine.
  9. are made from the steel-hard heartwood of a ten-thousand-year-old tree.
  10. were stolen from them while they slept by a gang of orphan-urchins. They’ve made due since with a walking stick and several layers of rags and saddle-leather.
  11. are loaded with hidden, spring-loaded blades that pop out with great force if subtle buttons and switches are pressed.
  12. bear the maker’s mark of a legendary smith.
  13. are covered with rust now that the ronin has abandoned their pride.
  14. were made by their father to slay a dragon he didn't live long enough to challenge.
  15. are sharp and hard as broken glass, and must be used with great delicacy.
  16. smell strongly of the strange wood of the far-off land they hail from.
  17. are studded with paste jewels.
  18. are covered with checker-marks. They cut a new line for every kill.
  19. shine like moonlight when a secret word is spoken
  20. are sized for the straight-backed, well-muscled samurai they were, not the crooked half-starved wretch who now carries them.

This Ronin’s Hobby is...

  1. writing bad poetry.
  2. whittling wooden solder figurines.
  3. gambling.
  4. bird watching.
  5. landscape painting.
  6. moonlight strolls.
  7. playing their flute.
  8. fishing.
  9. rucking. 
  10. tending a small garden.
  11. baking sweets.
  12. teaching lapdogs to perform entertaining tricks.
  13. flower arrangement.
  14. womanizing.
  15. tsujigiri.
  16. feeding stray cats. 
  17. screaming. 
  18. hunting ghosts.
  19. studying the history of war
  20. waiting in a tea-shop for someone to hire them.

This Ronin's Enemies Include...

  1. a fellow ronin and his sometimes-lover.
  2. a fiercely dishonorable demon-crow.
  3. the remnants of a bandit clan their master once ordered them to wipe out.
  4. a young warrior with prodigious talent who considers the existence of ronin to be a stain on the land.
  5. their own spouse, who has sworn to kill the ronin to avenge their dishonor.
  6. an evil centipede that can pilot people’s bodies by slithering into their intestines.
  7. a giant octopus that has learned martial arts, and also how to hate.
  8. a legendary chef, whose greatest dish (a curry that takes six years to make) was carelessly ruined by the ronin during a chase-scene.
  9. a gang of kung-fu students who have fixed on the ronin as a decent target to repeatedly beat the shit out of.
  10. the ambassador of a far-off kingdom, for nefarious reasons of her own.
  11. a family of hungry ogres who want to make them into soup.
  12. their child, who is a better samurai than they ever were.
  13. a pirate ship that descends with fire and slaughter on any river- or sea-side towns which dare to harbor (heh) the ronin for more than a night.
  14. the new student of the ronin's old mentor, sent to kill them to clear the teacher's reputation.
  15. the cruel gods above, for no reason at all.
  16. a headless horseman armed with a slaver's lash and a blazing torch. 
  17. the ghost of an enemy warrior who refuses to believe he has lost.
  18. a nightmare-nation of rat-men from the Wicked Lands.
  19. a seething magic-user whose affections the ronin once spurned.
  20. their face in the mirror, marked as it is now with care-lines and shadows.


  1. You have proven yourself a worthy student of the form, Grm.

    t. semiurge

  2. Good post! I'm glad I googled tsujigiri.

    Why the d20x5 format, instead of 20 samirai? Buffet vs prepared meals?

    1. Why does the haiku have three lines... why did Malevich paint a black square... why is the I Ching broken, and unbroken... it is the form, the form beyond content, that makes us more than beasts...

      t. semiurge

    2. As semiurge implied, the d20x5 format is a medium of its own and sometimes fun to work in. By combining entries randomly we can get interesting implications — consider a samurai with gear stolen from a shrine who also can be found worshiping at ancient near-abandoned shrines (man likes his shrines), or a samurai whose master was killed by treachery and is now hunted by their spouse to avenge the dishonor (do people think the ronin was responsible?). If each entry has a little somethin' somethin', then to replicate it with just a list of guys would take 20^5 samurai, or just over three million. Thank you for your comment.