L5r: Legend of the Five Rings


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Shapeshifters were spirits who came to Ningen-do, willingly or by accident, from other Spirit Realms. Due to their connection to their realm of origin (Meido, Toshigoku, Gaki-do or Yomi, for instance), these spirits could in some way control their shape and appearance. Due to the return of many ancestors through Oblivion's Gate there was a ritual designed by the Phoenix Clan that could sever such a connection and make them fully mortal.

Commonality Edit

All shapeshifters had two different forms, a human (though there were tales of naga and nezumi forms too) and a natural animal form. They could change between the two, but it became more difficult the more they changed. All shapeshifters had at least one Taboo, which was specifically linked to their spiritual nature, and they could also detect a point of passage to their realm of origin. In their human form, many of them chose to have an alias, in order to integrate into Rokugani society. [1] They could also appear as trees, flowers, and almost anything else they take a mind to. [2]

Human Form Edit

A shapeshifter in human form had a specific appearance. Though they could choose to appear old or young when they shapeshifted, the form was always the same person. They could not imitate other specific individuals without other shapeshifting powers. [3] Shapeshifting spirits could avoid Mortality, the Control of Ningen-do, by imposing taboos upon themselves. [4]

Shapeshifter Races Edit

Shapeshifters races were sorted based on the natural animal form they took. "Animal" was by no means the only form they were capable of though, as spirits might take shapes of virtually any living form or legendary being, from a simple cat to a mighty ryu. Most of these shapes happened to be Clan related totems, but there was no specific relation between a Shapeshifter race and the clan symbolized by the same animal. Some of the most common forms were: [5]

Shapeshifter Powers Edit

Shapeshifters were known to possess strange powers which were drawn from the Realms they come from. Here were some known examples:

  • Hunter's Bane: some spirits were able to move in their natural environment without leaving any tracks and to deceive beings who would be hunting them.
  • False Vision: this power allowed a shapeshifter to cast powerful illusions and dispel existing ones.
  • Possession: in their spirit form, some shapeshifters were able to use this power to take control of another being.
  • Spirit Walk: this was a powerful but terribly painful way that a shapeshifter could use to travel quasi instantly from one point of Rokugan to another, via their original Spirit Realm.
  • Reincarnation: some legendary spirits could simply be reborn once dead, at the same place... [6]

Taint Edit

They were not immune to the taint, but were too far from Jigoku to become tainted. [7]

See also Edit


  1. Creatures of Rokugan, Third Edition, p. 7
  2. Roleplaying in the Emerald Empire, p. 193
  3. Fortunes & Winds, p. 17
  4. Fortunes & Winds, p. 26
  5. Creatures of Rokugan, Third Edition p.8-10
  6. Creatures of Rokugan, Third Edition, pp. 10-13
  7. Way of the Shadowlands, p. 33

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