Legend of the Five Rings: Rise of the Four Winds
Basic Shugenja Spells
Some cool uses for Sense, Commune and Summon.
Sense is used for locating kami, but since everything in Rokugan possesses some sort of spirit, it’s useful for finding certain elements that can either help you out when lost or give you some sort of mystic north star to follow. The book notes that you could use Sense (water) to find a source of drinking water when you’re lost, but it can also help find other unique elements: a zen garden or unique landmark might have an Earth kami you can lock on to; a fire kami likely indicates a large blaze where people live or are actively tending to. Also note that the spell says you “locate the presence, quantity, and rough location of elemental spirits”; both the “presence” and “quantity” bit can give you clues as to whether something powerful is hidden.
The Summon spell is, at its basic level, pretty mundane. Once you start casting it with raises, it becomes a Summon Specific Form of Element spell—a basic Summon (Water) spell will just summon a quantity of water, but a raise will get you Summon (Tea) or Summon (Sake). More raises get you more refined/dangerous versions; I wouldn’t be surprised if a powerful Soshi shugenja or two sit around trying to synthesize new or rare poisons using a ton of raises. Summon (Earth) can get you wood or iron, and higher levels might even be able to call refined steel. These can also make good gifts for the practically-minded samurai you need to impress. Wouldn’t the painter like a set of pure color paints using the Summon (Water) spell, or the stonecutter a pure block of granite? Would the Asahina you need help form appreciate a pure copper rod? (Answer: yes. When the kami make a pure item, you carve prayers into that shit and enchant it to Tengoku and back.) It’s not easy to get those, but it gives you a lot of flexibility.
The Commune spell is the trickiest to handle, since the personality and cooperativeness of a particular kami is subject to the whim of the GM, but this is your Talk To Inanimate Objects spell. Someone get murdered in the garden? Talk to the earth kami and see what they know about what happened. Need to find out what’s up ahead on the road? Talk to an air kami and see if it’s been there. Need to know who passes by a particular door? Post a torch there and talk to the fire kami later. Water kami know what they’ve moved through as well as what was reflected in them. If you have a kind GM, this can open up all sorts of avenues for information gathering and investigation; a mean GM will probably make the kami particularly useless without raises. A clever GM will have the kami bargain for favors depending on the strength of the spirit and the importance of the information. Be prepared to spend some time building small shrines or clearing brush.
Finally, these spells can be your Cast Special Effects spells, and they might help aid others with skill checks. Need to intimidate someone? Summon air kami to whirl around them, billowing their cloak. Summon some fire kami to flare into existence for a supernatural edge to your prophecy. A well-timed Summon Earth spell can throw sand in the eyes of someone in a clean room. In a world where samurai are deadly, shugenja are the ultimate lateral thinkers, able to call upon resources most people don’t even consider when they plan. Make use of that.