24-Hour Armor: The Hida Bushi are trained to wear heavy armor for extended periods of time, to the point where it's almost a second skin for them. It helps quite a bit when you have to stand on the Kaiu Wall, and attacks from the Shadowlands can happen at any time.
A Father to His Men: Hida expects this of his line. Anyone guided by him is an inspiring force on the battlefield for any of his clan, and will suffer wounds in sympathy for his fellow Crab.
All of the Other Reindeer: In general the Crab Clan is widely disliked by nearly every other clan due to their utter lack of concern for social niceties and honor. And yes, the Crabs are plenty bitter about their tireless service being rewarded with scorn. Their closest allies are the Unicorn clan, largely because the Unicorn is the other "clan nobody likes".
And Then John Was a Zombie: Happens depressingly frequently to the Crab, as a result of their proximity to the Shadowlands and their duty to fight it. While some literally become zombies, succumbing to the Taint is common enough to Crab bushi that they actually have a berserker school for bushi who wish to die fighting the Shadowlands. The Kuni shugenja also fall to the Taint when researching the Shadowlands, either as a consequence of a ritual gone wrong or by being seduced by the power of the dark magic they're studying.
Anti-Hero: The Crab consider bushido to be far less important than keeping Rokugan safe from the Shadowlands. In particular, they place very little value on Courtesy (causing them to come across as brutish and uncultured), but they'll also use dirty tactics far more freely than most clans.
Badass Crew/Badass Family: It takes a certain kind of person to stand on the Wall between the Shadowlands and Rokugan, to fight the creatures that erupt from the Pit. The Crab Clan breeds that kind of person, and then trains them up to be even more badass.
The Berserker: An actual career path for Crab Clan samurai, without the stigma it normally has in other fantasy cultures (at least, any more than what the Crab Clan normally get). Notably, one of their Champions, Hida Kuon, studied at this school as well.
There are also people who become berserkers, despite training at another school (something about fighting the Shadowlands for a prolonged period of time tends to break people). In particular, this has been a huge problem among the Hiruma ever since their lands were overtaken by the forces of Jigoku.
Turned Up to Eleven with the Hiruma Slayer alternate path, who dual-wield axes while in a "dead eyed" trance.
Boring Yet Practical: Essentially the Crab's MO. They prefer heavy weapons because they're better at cracking open armor and the toughened hides of Shadowlands monsters; they build siege weapons to take out large numbers of foes simultaneously (or to slow down a much bigger foe, like an oni); and they openly engage in the dishonorable practice of commerce because it's the only way to keep their people fed. They're also the only Clan with real strategies for dealing with siege warfare, since most other Clans resolve sieges with duels or negotiations.
Carry a Big Stick / Drop the Hammer: The signature weapon of the Crab Clan, primarily by way of Hida family bushi, is the testubo, a heavy two-handed iron club with either studs or spikes. This is because most smaller or less damaging weapons are practically useless against anything from the Shadowlands. Actual hammers aren't mentioned much in the lore, but are seen occasionally in official art of Crab warriors.
Combat Pragmatist: While other clans consider combat to be a kind of art form, and practice accordingly, every Crab bushi is taught to fight for one purpose- killing Shadowlands monsters. Unsurprisingly, they are not usually considered the most honorable warriors, in spite of their effectiveness.
Cruel to Be Kind: The Crab will take the men that snap under the pressure of their duty, throw them in a cage, and starve them. When they do this, they also place a friend of the insane person outside of the cage, to share his pain and talk to him until he regains his senses. This is in contrast to the other clans who would either kill him, or make him commit seppuku.
Dumb Muscle: A stereotype of the Crab Clan, particularly the Hida family. In actuality, it's not that they are uncultured and rude on purpose - they just don't make Courtesy a very high priority, particularly if they're used to fighting on the Kaiu Wall.
Elves vs. Dwarves: The Crab prefer to use axes and clubs (which are better at cracking the hides of Oni), tend to live in fortresses, and are aligned with the element of Earth. They also don't care much for the niceties of Rokugani society. Guess what happens when they go up against the Crane?
Fragile Speedster: While lacking much of the endurance of their Hida brethren, the Hiruma bushi learn to compensate with insane speed, which makes them become harder and harder to hit the longer the battle goes on.
The Hunter: The Kuni Witch-hunters specially train in hunting down blood mages, while the Toritaka rangers are the only school devoted to fighting ghosts.
In the Blood: Crab Clan members can get an advantage very cheaply that makes them very resistant to inclement weather and other negative conditions, a result of their founder's blessing. As a result, they have a deserved reputation for toughness.
Knight in Sour Armor: A lot of them end up this way, having been ground down by the horrors of the Shadowlands, but still ready to do their duty.
Mighty Glacier: The Crab Clan, both individually and army tactics-wise, eschew graceful tricks and fancy maneuvers in favor of overwhelming force applied by tough guys who can dish it out and take it. One of their main bushi schools specializes in the effective use of heavy armor and weapons, allowing the higher-level ones to become full-on Lightning Bruisers as they learn to move quickly in such heavy gear.
Money Fetish: While not as bad as, say, the Yoritomo of the Mantis Clan, the Yasuki stick out as commerce-oriented courtiers in a society that sees all commercial activity in roughly the same vein as prostitution, gambling and blackmail. Justified, at least, because the Crab Clan's lands don't produce nearly enough food or raw materials to maintain their army, and so they need people who can push hard on trade.
Morality Pet: The nezumi to the Crab. As the only living creatures that can survive in the Shadowlands without being affected by the Taint, the "ratlings" are considered precious allies to the Crab. Anyone who kills a nezumi will be punished, particularly if it's for the person's gempukku (since it indicates an inability to tell friend from foe).
Some monsters of the Shadowlands can infiltrate Rokugan fairly easily, using Rokugani social customs to their advantage (leaving your weapons at the door in a geisha house or bath house, for instance). Crab samurai generally forego said customs, and frequently lose honor for it, but occasionally save lives in the process.
The Crab actually have a code word ("Ivy") that means "the people in this building are monsters in disguise, fight your way out."
There's also a certain Shugenja spell that detects if a person has been affected by the shadowland taint. Casting this spell on someone is generally one of the gravest offenses in Rokugan... except in the Crab clan, who see it as a healthy precaution.
Proud Warrior Race Guy: The standouts in this field among all the clans, along with the Lion. The Lion is actually one of the only other clans the Crab respects, due to their shared warrior ways — but they think the Lion Clan is the weaker of the two, worthy of respect and nothing more. The feeling's mutual.
Simple Yet Opulent: While most other Clans deck out their castles with gold, jewels, and other treasures, the Crab tend to keep their fortresses relatively spartan and minimalist. This is because most of their money goes into maintaining their army, as well as their massiveSiege Engines.
Training from Hell: The Crab Clan's coming-of-age for all their samurai (including the priests and spellcasters) involves a solo mission into the Shadowlands, and they cannot return until they have slain a monster found there and returned with its head - thus taking the trope somewhat literally.
This is actually only true for the Hida Bushi. The Hiruma have a much less violent, though still extremely difficult task- they must venture into the Shadowlands with enough rations and jade to last a week, and find their way to the outpost of Shinsei's Last Hope within that time. Obviously, both the Hida and Hiruma have a shockingly high fatality rate.
20 Bear Asses: When the Crab declare a Twenty Goblin Winter, anyone who can singlehandedly kill twenty goblins and bring back their heads from the Shadowlands is invited to join the clan, no questions asked.
Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: Thanks to the Kaiu family's artisans and engineers, the Crab have the most sophisticated siege weapons in Rokugan. The Kaiu are also the ones that maintain the Great Carpenter Wall that separates the Crab lands from the Shadowlands, and they're the ones responsible for filling it with deadly traps and dead ends.
On a more literal note, Kaiu engineers like to take a break from building weapons to craft mechanical toys for children. While relatively common in the Crab lands, they are also fairly popular among the other Clans, particularly as gifts.
Actual Pacifist: The Asahina family. Their founder, Isawa Asahina, was part of the Phoenix clan; he snapped after the Crane intervened between the Lion and Phoenix, and went on a killing spree that ended when he nearly murdered Doji Kiriko of the Crane while she sat there and took it. Having a My God, What Have I Done? moment, he swore fealty to the Crane, and eventually was allowed to found his own family.
Appeal to Force: A version that doesn't rely on armies. The Crane are very good at winning arguments through the use of duels, because the Kakita family are the finest duelists in Rokugan. It's not unknown for Crane to abuse this.
The Beautiful Elite: The Crane are renowned for their extraordinary beauty, and spend a great deal of time making themselves and their property as aesthetically pleasing as possible. Contrast this with the Scorpion, who tend to be more of the dangerously sexy variety.
Bishōnen: Their menfolk are generally seen as being as graceful and elegant as their womenfolk.
Can't Argue with Elves: When a Doji Courtier reaches higher ranks, it becomes dishonorable to disagree with him.
By Rokugani law the winner of a duel is always right in whatever argument caused the duel. Incidentally, the Crane have the best dueling school in Rokugan (rivaled only by the Mirumoto of the Dragon Clan). Ergo, you literally can't win an argument with a Crane, unless you're able to hold your own against the Kakita.
Combat Pragmatist: The Daidoji Harrier school specializes in this. Unlike the Kakita, who are combat formalists specializing in iaijutsu duels, Daidoji are sworn to defend the Clan, full stop. The Harriers are trained in setting traps and ambushes, and use tactics that are not generally considered honorable to neutralize much larger enemy forces.
Honor Before Reason: The Crane occasionally find a third option that is both honorable and reasonable, but there's a reason they train the Kakita Duelists to fight on behalf of the Clan's honor.
Iaijutsu Practitioner: The Kakita Dueling School specializes in this. As the seat of the Emerald Champion is decided through an iaijutsu tournament, the Emerald Champion is usually a Crane.
The Topaz Championship also usually holds an iaijutsu tournament as its main event, meaning the Crane tend to dominate there as well.
Red Oni, Blue Oni: A good reason why Kakita (blue) and Matsu (red) were never going to be friends. Stereotypical members of both families also follow this line, which explains a good portion of the Lion/Crane rivalry. It should also be worth noting that the Akodo family of the Lion Clan also has some Blue Oni traits, leading to understandable tension with the Matsu.
Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: For much of their history, the Crane was one of the wealthiest Clans in Rokugan. However, their wealth was depleted in the Clan Wars, greatly reducing their influence. Strongly related to...
Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: The Crane have an extraordinary amount of clout in the courts, even with their recent troubles. More than a few Crane have abused this clout for their own ends.
Trophy Wife: It's considered an extraordinary honor to have a Crane wife (or husband), so much so that it used to be a given that the Emperor would marry a Crane. Part of it has to do with their wealth and connections, but the Crane are also just generally very attractive.
What, Exactly, Is His Job?: At the start of the storyline, the Crane Clan's role in the setting was seemingly ironclad, but since has fallen to the wayside due to storyline victories in other clans. The Emperor traditionally married a Crane spouse, a tradition that came to an end with Toturi. The Crane Clan ran the economy, which became iffy in backstory when their money-oriented family joined the Crab, and was quietly dropped with the prominence of Mantis and Unicorn trade routes, though they still produce the most rice. The role they held on to the longest was that of running the courts, but they officially lost that role to the Scorpion in Hidden Emperor nearly ten years ago, with the Scorpion either maintaining or increasing their dominance since. Word of God now says the Crane is ambiguously responsible for Rokugan's culture, and has a high number of low-level functionaries around the courts, but the clan's lost much of its former strength. Fortunately, this does not affect game mechanics or individual characters' cool storylines.
White Hair, Black Heart: The Crane will often dye their hair white in honor of Doji Hayaku, founder of the Daidoji family, whose journey into the Shadowlands to recover the Shukujo left his hair completely white. Whether or not the "Black Heart" part of the trope comes into play is dependent on the individual Crane.
Yamato Nadeshiko: Women from the Doji family are legendary for being them, since their family (and Clan) founder is the supreme example of this trope. As a result, a majority of the Emperors, including the first one, took brides from this family, and having a Doji bride is a mark of high status. However, be warned that not a few turn out to be taking advantage of their family's reputation.
Bare-Fisted Monk: Dragon Clan Monks, which comprise most of the Togashi family. Non-Dragon Clan aligned monks, which are either members of the Brotherhood of Shinsei or the Order of the Spider, are more like Warrior Monks.
Breath Weapon: The Togashi monks can, with the right tattoos, breathe fire.
Badass Bookworm: Kitsuki magistrates are also frequently skilled duelists, as "proving" their deductions in the Rokugani justice system often demands a duel to settle things.
Dishing Out Dirt: The Tamori shugenja school are focused on applying Earth magic to battlefield purposes. Enemy armies tend to get ill-timed earthquakes, landslides, and flying rocks to the face.
Dual Wielding: The Mirumoto family are the premiere dual-wielding swordsmen of Rokugan. They even give the Kakita a run for their money as the best duelists.
Genius Bruiser: Practitioners of the Mirumoto bushi school tend to be this; in addition to swordplay, they're educated in philosophy and theology alongside their shugenja, and are often accomplished poets.
Magic Knight: The Tamori family of the Dragon Clan specialize in training shugenja who can both blow stuff up and slice people with swords.
Loners Are Freaks: The whole reclusive/monastic thing doesn't endear them to many more-orthodox clans, who think they're weirdos at best. Some clans think they're hiding something — for instance, the Crab Clan takes the Dragon Clan for cowards. Averted with the other "unconventional" clans, who respect the Dragon greatly for their non-judgmental position towards their lifestyles.
Our Dragons Are Different: They have had Clan Champions that can actually turn into Dragons. (This is due in large part to the fact that prior to the Second Day of Thunder, their "Champion" was in fact their actual, living god.) In addition when Dragons were getting printed in the CCG, special text had to be added so that people understood that there was a difference between "Dragon" and "Dragon Clan".
Power Tattoo: The main difference between Dragon Clan monks and everyone else. They have tattoos powered by the divine blood of their founder, Togashi, or one of his descendants. Previously the (now absorbed into the Togashi) Hoshi and Hitomi families also had this.
Sherlock Scan: The Dragon's courtiers, the Kitsuki family, are masters of deductive reasoning, which, for those who are involved in actual courtier work rather than policing, comes in rather handy. After all, what diplomat DOESN'T benefit from the ability to see through deception and face, especially in a court like Rokugan's?
Appeal to Tradition: Before complimenting the honor and military prowess of the Unicorn clan, the Lion's attitude write-up in the Fourth Edition rulebook literally says "Their ways are strange, and therefore inferior."
Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Whatever their beliefs about pride and honor, the Lion clan's attitudes regarding other clans are, at best, smug superiority or, at worst, contemptuous to the point of foolishness. They are one of the few Clans with nothing much good to say about any of their fellows.
The Berserker: The matriarchal Matsu family of the Lion Clan has this as their "signature" school.
Death Seeker: Dishonored Lion samurai often decide to become deathseekers instead of committing seppuku, in order to reclaim their honor while slaying the Clan's enemies. Happens so often that most Lion generals can field at least one unit of deathseekers as shock troops to break the enemy line (and nothing breaks the enemy line like angry berserkers who KNOW that they'll only return honor to their family by killing you and your fellows before you kill him). It's also worth noting that this is the Trope Namer.
Despair Event Horizon: The Lion take their oaths and obligations seriously, and it's difficult for them to reconcile when they come into conflict. Twice in history, large portions of the clan have committed seppuku because of this.
Given the two families have been intermarrying for over a thousand years, however, it's not too uncommon to find a few of these among the Lion Clan.
Four-Star Badass: This is what the Akodo tend to end up becoming after many years' worth of success in battle.
Good Old Kenjutsu: The Akodo Bushi School's swordsmanship style is not particularly gimmicky or flashy compared to the techniques of some of the other clans and families. However, the Akodo practice their swordsmanship with intense dedication and perfect their straightforward tactics to a degree that make them as deadly in a swordfight as any dual wielding Mirumoto or scimitar-slinging Moto or blood-crazed Matsu.
Honor Before Reason: Seriously. When the Emperor was possessed by the Dark God, about half of the Lion sided with him because unwavering loyalty to the throne is their thing.
Hot-Blooded: The Lion Clan's Matsu family, ESPECIALLY the women, to the point where even other Lion consider them to be nigh-psychotic at times. And yet, the Matsu are NOT the Lion family that tends to have naturally red hair.
Knight Templar: Don't give the Lion a reason to hate you. They'll remember it for a few generations and wipe out your descendants at the first opportunity.
Lady Land: the Matsu family is strictly matriarchal. See Amazon Brigade.
The Kitsu shugenja almost never fight when the Lion are at war - they concentrate solely on using water magic to heal the soldiers, or bolstering their morale through use of ancestor magic.
As of 4th Edition, though, the Kitsu are more active on the battlefield.
Proud Warrior Race Guy: The big standouts along with the Crab. The Lion Clan, naturally, thinks itself superior in this regard — they have respect for the Crab, but consider them neither dangerous nor admirable. The difference between them boils down to the Crab's thinking (being a warrior is about fighting and winning) vs the Lion's (it's about a lot more than that).
Red Oni, Blue Oni: A good reason why Kakita (blue) and Matsu (red) were never going to be friends. Stereotypical members of both families also follow this line, which explains a good portion of the Lion/Crane rivalry. It should also be worth noting that the Akodo family of the Lion Clan also has some Blue Oni traits, leading to understandable tension with the Matsu.
Remember the New Guy: An extremely odd example- after the defeat of the Lying Darkness, the Akodo suddenly found themselves with a bunch of new family members made from the old incorporeal servants of the Nothing. The Lion take the whole thing in stride, for the most part, even though they're understandably wary of all these new folks showing up.
Training from Hell: Although it's not always reflected in actual characters from the family, the Matsu gempukku (coming-of-age ceremony) is horrifically vicious in the fluff; among the things the young Matsu samurai must do to be considered an adult are: demonstrate adequate skill with twenty different kinds of weapons, withstand a heavy beating with wooden swords without uttering a sound, and fight off temptation by fasting and meditating while in a room filled with delicious food.
The Worf Effect: Has happened a lot to the Lion recently, particularly during the War of the Rich Frog and the Chagatai's Ambition storylines.
Zerg Rush: While the Akodo and Ikoma are renowned for their tactical approach to war, the Matsu go more in this direction.
Army of Thieves and Whores: The Mantis Clan was assembled from a collection of merchants, pirates, bounty hunters, bandits and renegades, but can stand alongside the other Great Clans with ease.
Badass Family: Like the Crab, the Mantis can trace their bloodline back to Hida, and share similar badass tendencies.
Dare to Be Badass: The Mantis are renowned for their reckless daredevil tendencies, valuing the Virtue of Courage above all others. It's also actually how the Mantis earned their Great Clan status- their founder fought alongside the other Clan Champions during a Shadowlands invasion, and was sufficiently badass to be allowed to stand with them when their victory was officially recognized.
Dual Wielding: The Mirumoto of the Dragon Clan and the Yoritomo of the Mantis Clan both train with two weapons, but the Mantis specialize in Dual Wielding "peasant" weapons such as tonfa and sai.
Greed: The weakness of the Mantis Clan. Because they're so likely to succumb, it gives an extra Character Point if you take the disadvantage of the same name.
Improbable Aiming Skills: The Tsuruchi Bushi are known for their extraordinary archery skills, which only get more ridiculous as they advance in rank.
Improbable Weapon User: The Yoritomo are highly skilled with "peasant" weapons and improvised weapons, and are the only school that specifically trains with that sort of fighting.
Improvised Weapon: Befitting their swashbuckling nature the Yoritomo bushi school is pretty much dedicated to this.
Lady Land: While the men of the Moshi family are allowed to enter their family's signature school, they aren't expected to excel at it as well as the women will, and they can never expect to be leaders.
Loan Shark: The Yoritomo are somewhere between this, The Mafia, and Honest John's Dealership. Unlike other Courtiers that will attempt to entrap people through political maneuvering, favor trading or blackmail, a Yoritomo will just send some guys to break your kneecaps.
The original Mantis Clan built their reputation for being the best mercenary army that money can buy, and any criminal with a substantial reward on their head should worry about Tsuruchi arrows flying their way. Now that the Mantis are a Great Clan, they still are the most openly mercantile among the Clans, who usually view commerce and the pursuit of wealth as something beneath the status of a samurai. And Yoritomo courtiers use their wealth as the political equivalent of a blunt instrument.
Bear in mind that the Yoritomo Courtiers also use actual blunt instruments as political blunt instruments.
Pirate: The Mantis Clan, complete with lust for booty.
Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: The primary tactic of Yoritomo courtiers - they try to bribe you first. If that doesn't work, then they put the pressure on with their hired goons.
Shock and Awe: The Moshi shugenja gain a bonus on any spell with the Thunder keyword, which includes a number of spells that literally call down lightning on their foes.
Swashbuckler: The Yoritomo bushi train to fight in inclement conditions, particularly those that can be found on the high seas. This is because the Mantis territory is largely composed of the Islands of Silk and Spice, which makes fighting on ships a highly prized skill.
They still value Compassion above all other tenets of Bushido, and as a result tend to be some of the nicest samurai around. They still adhere to the caste system laid out by the Kami, mind you, they are just less likely to murder a peasant for no reason.
Badass Bookworm: Both the bushi and the shugenja of the Phoenix devote themselves to studying the elements and the Tao. That doesn't mean they can't beat the snot out of you, or summon the elements to do it for them. Particularly the Elemental Masters.
Blood Magic: The clan has had frequent flirtations with it over the storyline, despite the clan nearly dying because of its overuse.
Elemental Powers: The Phoenix are the only Clan with a shugenja school for each element, and whose shugenja aren't automatically weak in one element. They even apply this on a grand scale, with their four Elemental Legions, each mostly composed of warrior priests attuned to the same element - Air, Earth, Fire, or Water. Void Shugenja are (in the story) too rare and too few in number to field a whole legion.
Genius Bruiser: In first edition, Shiba bushi started with Intelligence at 4 (the human average in Rokugan is 2 and 5 is the maximum a normal human can achieve; going further is reserved to legendary heroes, gods or Munchkins). It was later balanced out.
The Isawa, in spades. Bonus points for frequently engaging in the very activities they decry in others. Rather than trying to hide it, they proclaim that their "moral superiority" justifies it.
They also look down on the Crab for their constant war against the Shadowlands, which is easy to do when you live all the way across the empire from them.
Insufferable Genius: Most Isawa family characters, especially their leaders, are this trope personified. Their family founder was so arrogant a fallen god had to kneel in front of him to swear fealty for him to even consider helping out the Empire in their war for survival against Fu Leng.
Playing with Fire: The stereotypical Phoenix shugenja is more of a "burninate first, ask questions later" type. Hey, their Clan symbol is a Phoenix, after all...
Power of the Void: An unusual good variant- Ishiken are extremely rare shugenja capable of casting spells drawing directly from the Void itself. While every Clan gives birth to a certain number of Ishiken, only the Phoenix is allowed to teach Void magic. As a result, all Ishiken are typically trained by the Phoenix, regardless of their Clan of origin.
Right Hand Versus Left Hand: Happens to a lot of Clans, but most often happens to the Phoenix, particularly since the Isawa consider themselves the ultimate authority on everything, and only take advice from others under extreme pressure.
Squishy Wizard: With 3 Shugenja families to one Bushi family, the Shiba have their hands full keeping their spellcasters alive. For their part, the shugenja, particularly the Isawa, tend to view their yojimbo as disposable.
It should be noted, however, that many shugenja are notably non-squishy, even in the pacifistic Phoenix Clan, thanks to Ring magic requiring a balance of physical and mental Traits.
The Scorpion value loyalty above all else. The customary way of punishing those who betray the clan and/or the Empire is to use magical rituals created by the Yogo to bind their souls to one of the Trees in Traitors Grove, a grove of trees on the grounds of Kyuuden Bayushi where the soul of the deceased is removed from the cycle of reincarnation and forced to endure an eternity of torment.
The Scorpion even did this to The Atoner recently, who admitted that nothing he could do would avert this fate.
Anti-Hero: The Scorpion way of life is cruel and harsh, but that doesn't mean every Scorpion is an asshole. Consider Bayushi Shoju, one of their most famous former clan heads. His stat block reveals that he had "disadvantages" like "Soft Hearted" and "True Love (His Wife)." He ultimately assassinated the emperor, but only after recieving the Emperor's direct order to take any measures necessary to prevent Fu Leng's return. After his death, he was cursed into the form of a geki for defying the Celestial Order, but found that he retained his reason and could inspire and feed on courage instead of flesh, allowing him to serve and aid the Empire even in his punishment. In short, like the Dragon, the Scorpion clan's refusal to follow the traditions of the Empire, or to subvert them, can be heroic as well as dangerous.
Anti-Villain: The Scorpion Clan are, in the Fourth Edition interpretation, designated villains. That is, they're supposed to intentionally sow distrust of their clan and generally appear dishonorable so that other clans will always be united by distrust of them, and so never unite against the Emperor. At other times, the Scorpion's job has been simply "be the guys who do dishonorable stuff for the good of the Empire." Either way, by upholding Bayushi's vow, they make themselves villains in the eyes of Rokugan.
The Scorpion Clan are home to cunning politicians, cold killers, and actors who possess such absolute control over themselves that they can flawlessly adopt new identities. Oh, and the Dark Sword of Bitter Lies, a bunch of lunatic killers who couldn't follow a plan across the street, and are bound only by their loyalty to the clan.
To illustrate how insane a Bitter Lies swordsman is: if an enemy army sees a single Bitter Lies swordsman charging at them, the enemy army run away in fear.
Badass in a Nice Suit: One of the defining traits of the clan's art. The more distinctive the outfit, the deadlier the Scorpion associated.
A danger to the clan in general. They're intended to be the Emperor's killers, and villains ultimately loyal to the throne. They're often just in it for themselves.
More specifically a literal danger in the Shosuro family (see The Mole, below). This literally happened to the family's founder, who lost her identity to the point where Shosuro is called Bayushi's Daughter primarily because that's the one role everyone in the clan can agree she never held, and even her gender is up for debate.
Bishōnen: especially members of the Bayushi family.
Blessed with Suck: One of the Scorpion ancestors is a cunning mastermind who can seamlessly blend into any environment... and who couldn't stand out if he tried anyway. Choosing him as a forebear gives your character great power to manipulate events, at the cost of any recognition for service.
Bribing Your Way to Victory: The Scorpion playerbase used to be infamous for this, bribing other players to concede to them. While this was technically legal and available to all clans, Scorpion were the ones who had it noted in the story.
While nobody since Kachiko's been fully accepted by the clan, each successive daimyo has had it worse.
Yojiro retired due to pressure from traitors in the clan who felt he'd weakened the clan by betraying its ideals, despite the clan being the strongest it had been in decades under Yojiro, and enjoying both alliances and control of the courts. He died at the hands of a random Unicorn chump who killed him in a case of mistaken identity.
Sunetra was demoted for being unable to deal with the leader of the clan's traitors in a timely fashion, because said leader escaped purely through Deus ex Machina. She became the Emperor's personal assassin, and ultimately died because she ignored the advice of every Scorpion leader in history, to stay and gloat over a foe she'd already hurt.
Nitoshi, the aforementioned Shoju reincarnated, didn't last much longer. He is pretty much only known for being a complete sociopath, blinding Shiba Tsukimi, revealing the antics of the Spider during the emperor arc, and then going completely and utterly mad due to the influence of P'an Ku the Mad Dragon.
Actually, Nitoshi hasn't gone stark raving bonkers (yet), as explained by the story team.
The Chessmaster: The hat of the Scorpion clan and a description that fits many Scorpion Clan Champions throughout the history of the Emerald Empire.
Combat Pragmatist: The Scorpion as a whole are this trope. In particular, Bayushi fighters are referred to as always having secret training with at least one ninja weapon for the sole purpose of this trope.
Cowboy Cop: The Soshi magistrates are not afraid to get their hands dirty. After all; their founder invented the Rokugani justice system so it could be exploited, and they're policing a group of professional liars.
Creepy Souvenir: There's an ogre who collects the mons (banners) of all the samurai he's killed.
The Yogo Curse runs through all Yogo family members and a significant percentage of non-Yogo Scorpion as well, ever since Fu Leng cursed Yogo, the family founder, during a battle in the early days of Rokugan. The curse is exceptionally devious: all bearers are doomed to betray someone (or something) they love at one point in their life. It could be as little as breaking your mother's favorite, irreplaceable heirloom vase, to as horrible as cheating on your spouse... and the ultimate betrayal so far: selling out your Clan to an evil god. As a result of this, Yogo samurai tend to be aloof and cold towards everybody to discourage developing feelings, and only samurai who have broken their curse are placed in positions of trust and authority in the family.
The whole reason the Yogo are part of the Scorpion Clan is because the Scorpion's champion convinced their founder to join on the grounds that he would never love the Scorpion. Which led to a very ironic situation where, one thousand years later Yogo Junzo, the Daimyo of the Yogo, due to his own fanatical loyalty to his Lord Bayushi Shoju, opened the First of the Twelve Black Scrolls and became an undead servant of Fu Leng, betraying the very Empire that Shoju tried to save, fufilling his own curse.
Cursed with Awesome: The Dark Sword of Bitter Lies students, for all their loyalty, tend to be fools and madmen. They're incredibly lucky because of this, however, and ridiculously good at killing major threats because of it.
Disproportionate Retribution: Official propaganda aside, the Scorpion losses during their coup were relatively light, consisting of the champion, his heir, and a decent but not crippling portion of their army, with the champion's wife, Bayushi Kachiko, forcibly married to the Emperor thereafter to the frustration of the rest of the remaining clans. For all intents and purposes, the Scorpion are now on the throne... except Kachiko's beloved son is dead. Cue Kachiko manipulating the Emperor into disgracing the entire family of the Lion general who stopped the Scorpion at the last minute, then allying with the Kolat to destroy the general's clan; poisoning the Emperor to within an inch of his life; and creating a corrupt copy of her son's father and unwitting killer, Crane champion Doji Hoturi, to lead the Crane into ruin in retaliation. Both Lion and Crane suffer to the point where, a mere five years after the coup, both clans are bordering on annihilation. In the Scorpion, Disproportionate Retribution is not a sign of insanity, but a virtue.
Femme Fatale: A common and acceptable career path for Scorpion women. Notably, Bayushi Kachiko.
Gambit Roulette: While they're often good at shortterm plans, the clan's jaundiced view of others tends to lead to this, most famously in the Scorpion Clan Coup, when The Plan fails due to Shoju asking Hida Kisada for aid. Had he not done so, Kisada would have backed Shoju without question, but requesting support made Kisada look on Shoju as either too weak or wanting to manipulate the Crab. Simultaneously, Bayushi Aramoro assassinated a child magicked to look like the child Emperor, and Kachiko's favored geisha assassin had fallen in love with Toturi, subduing him briefly rather than killing him outright as ordered. Notably, had any one of these efforts gone the other way, Shoju's primary plan would have succeeded. Kisada backing Shoju in the imperial city would have made the other clans' siege pointless; the Hantei line would have been dead, preventing Fu Leng's return; Toturi's leadership is what allowed the clans to survive until Kisada's arrival, and penetrate the Imperial City's defenses before Shoju could further adapt.
Hoist by His Own Petard: Given how much time the Scorpion had spent screwing over the Crab Clan over the centuries, it's ironic that they had to the get the Crab's help to deal with the Second Festering Pit.
Honor Before Reason: Inverted- strict adherence to the tenets of Bushido above pragmatism or the needs of the Clan is considered highly suspicious by most Scorpions. These "junshin" are usually excluded from major Clan activities, since their honorable actions tend to clash with the Scorpion's typical modus operandi.
So common among Scorpion duelists that the Kitsuki of the Dragon actually attempt to list down who among the Scorpion are actually left-handed.
In fact, the meta version of this tactic applies to the clan's dealings at large-see the altered tale of the Scorpion and the Frog below.
I Did What I Had to Do: The whole reason the Scorpion clan exists. If the Lion is the right hand of the Emperor and the Crane is the left hand, the Scorpion is the "under-hand". That's not an Incredibly Lame Pun, that's what the clan actually call themselves.
In Love with the Mark: It's almost common for the various Femme Fatales of the Scorpion clan (or, for that matter, their masculine Spear Counterparts) to actually find love with the people that they've been sent to seduce. It's a toss-up whether or not it ends in tragedy.
Malevolent Masked Men: All Scorpion samurai wear masks, a tradition stretching back to their founder, Bayushi. The masks serve as both a nod to their ancestors and as a reminder to the rest of Rokugan that a Scorpion cannot be trusted (which of course, the Scorpion find endlessly amusing considering how much power and responsibility they wield in the Empire).
Master of Illusion: The Scorpion have the Bayushi courtiers, who can lie to your face and convince everyone it's the truth; the Shosuro actors, who are capable of putting on an entirely new identity; the Shosuro ninja, who take stealth and invisibility to a whole new level; and the Soshi Air Shugenja, who can make illusions and sounds appear out of nowhere. This of course results in dealings with the Scorpion getting extremely well-scrutinized.
The Mole: The Shosuro have a renowned acting school that tours the Empire putting on plays. The most famous graduates of these school become beloved celebrities with fans' adulation and rich sponsors to make their life easy. The best graduates of this school are tasked to create (or take over) an identity, often belonging to a different Clan, and spy and occasionally assassinate for the Scorpion.
The Scorpion Clan is extremely protective of the Monkey Clan.
Similarly, the Scorpion's alliance with the Dragon Clan is one of the few sacred cows in the game. Even the suggestion of breaking it can provoke flame wars, as both clans' players have exerted substantial effort to support each other over the past ten years. This came to a head when it was revealed during the Race for the Throne that a Scorpion victory meant they would turn the empire against whoever came in second, which turned out to be the Dragon. While some players snapped at both in trying to demand that the other take a dive to preserve the alliance, the general consensus that emerged was more of a "may the best clan win" respectful rivalry, with no few Scorpion players celebrating Dragon's ultimate victory. As their write-up in the Fourth Edition rule book describing the clan's opinion of the Dragon states, "They must never know."
You better believe these guys exist. The Scorpion Clan are their main employers. Of course, don't say that to the Scorpion themselves; everyone knows ninjas don't exist.
They're shinobi. Only those bastards from the Spider Clan are ninja. Or at least that's the defense the Scorpion use (even though it's just a different reading of the same word describing the same thing). Oddly, however, the shinobi family of the Scorpion is more-or-less the most level-headed and traditionally-honorable and -moral in the clan, which honestly says more about their clan than anything else.
The trope is also lampshaded in the most hilarious manner possible. The Scorpion actually do employ the black-pajama-wearing, shuriken-throwing, ninjato-wielding cliché ninja, in rather large numbers... as a distraction. Often, when assassinating someone, the Scorps will send several of these guys to engage in Crazy Ninja Hijinks while the actual shinobi (who has quite possibly been spending months as a geisha/courtesan/etc) performs the actual necessary wetwork. Having to do the whole "black pajama ninja" thing is actually called The Gauntlet by the Scorpions, and it's basically considered shinobi gempukku - if you can survive having to be sneaky while using the dumbest gear possible for a year, then you're ready to learn how to do it properly.
Perfect Poison: The Shosuro devote the entire garden of their castle to raising the plants and herbs necessary to produce this.
People falling over dead days after dueling with a Scorpion, even if they won the duel, is not an unexpected occurrence.
The Clan sword:
First subverted. While all clan swords are empowered to be lethal if the wielder attempts to use it against the clan, the Scorpion sword is further enchanted to look... like just another Scorpion sword. And if you suspect that the Scorpion poisoned their sword before a duel, well, you can't outright say so without insulting the Scorpion, but you can suggest the duelists exchange weapons...
Played straight with the sword again, but in a different way. The clan sword, when not in use by champion or on loan to a Scorpion, is stored in a room with 99 exact duplicates. These duplicates shuffle themselves magically whenever nobody is looking at them, and touching one of them leads to a painful death. Only the true champion or their heir can safely tell the true sword from the copies.
For a clan of masterful blackmailers and killers that value loyalty above all else, they get shown up by other factions on their home turf with surprising regularity, and it was over ten years before they had a primary storyline that wasn't about a member betraying the clan.
The Fourth Edition of the RPG offers a possible justification for the Scorpion's inconsistent performance: The founder of the Scorpion made sure to include some completely incompetent individuals among his followers. Also, a core aspect of the Scorpion's philosophy is to be continually underestimated, something that becomes progressively more difficult if one's actual track record shows that you're incredibly competent. Like everything in Rokugan, what matters most is perception. Win or lose, at the end of the day the Scorpion are able to say Just as Planned and hardly anyone else can say if the Scorpion suffered a setback or this is yet another Xanatos Gambit.
The Trickster - Soshi Air Shugenja are employed to create illusions, steal enemy secrets, and screw with people's heads.
Undying Loyalty - The Scorpion believe that loyalty is more important than any. Thing. Else! In fact, we are presented with the story of the Scorpion Clan Champion Bayushi Ujiro and his bodyguard Shunsen. Ujiro issued a challenge to the other Clan champions to determine which clan best understood the concept of loyalty. The challenge involved all the champions and their bodyguards performing an action to be set by Ujiro. If the bodyguards do not follow through with the command, that clan is disqualified. So, Ujiro gives Shunsen the command, "Kill me."He did, then commited suicide. The gathered Clan champions and bodyguards, shocked, conceded defeat. And then the Crane go and adapt the event for Winter, because that's just how the Crane are!
All of the Other Reindeer: Only the Crab clan and, to a lesser extent, the Dragon clan actually like the Unicorn; the others all view them as barbarians and interlopers, especially the Crane, the Phoenix, and the Scorpion.
Amazon Brigade: The Otaku Battlemaidens (who later changed their names to "Utaku" to renew their vows to the Kami Shinjo, and also to avoid the implications of the word "Otaku" in Japanese)
While all clans are guilty of stereotyping, the Unicorn might as well be surgically attached to their steeds.
In the first edition of the RPG, the first technique of their bushi school gave a bonus to any roll made while on horseback. Difficult negotiation? Crime scene to be combed through? Brain surgery? Saddle up!
Does Not Like Men: Otaku herself, only marrying to produce loyal servants to Shinjo. Her favored descendants deal extra damage to men (and only men).
Lady Land: The Utaku Battle Maiden School is one of the very few outright women-only schools. It is commonly expected of the men to stay at home and raise the kids when they marry.
Nice to the Waiter: The Unicorn treat their peasant population much better than is usual for the Great Clans. They needed a solid, loyal base of manpower during their travels outside the Empire, and that demanded that they forge a close bond with their underclass.
Odd Friendship: Despite their unconventional ways, the Unicorn have almost no real enemies among the Great Clans as of the Fourth Edition. Guess that's the benefit of not being around to build up grudges.
Redemption Quest: The Shinjo family has been on this ever since their family was infiltrated by the Kolat.
The default attitude of most of the (non-Crab) Clans when it comes to the Shadowlands - it is a taboo topic for polite conversation (causing Honor losses when discussed improperly), and most samurai think the Crab exaggerate the threat of the Shadowlands to gain sympathy for their cause, get favorable treatment, and justify their lack of interest in courtly matters. This varies from time to time, depending on events in the background - for example, the Shadowlands is taken far more seriously in the aftermath of an invasion by the reincarnation of Fu Leng, while even the Crab's closest allies may be embarassed on their behalf when the Shadowlands has been quiet for some time.
This also varies depending on the character - Asahina priests, who are normally devout pacifists, will obliterate an enemy that shows the first sign of corruption.
Cast from Hit Points: Maho needs blood to be cast. A simple prick of the finger isn't enough, every spell specifies how many hit point's worth of blood it needs... although it doesn't necessarily have to be the caster's blood...
The Corruption: The Shadowlands Taint, easy to get, nearly impossible to remove. Originally, the Taint functioned as The Virus, but after Daigotsu struck a deal with Empress Iweko I, the Taint could only afflict the willing.
Some characters who succumb to the Shadowlands Taint end up... enjoying their new circumstances.
Also, a running joke among players is that one of the effects of the Taint on female samurai is major hotness upgrades.
Occasionally justified, as part of the seductive nature of the Taint is that it frees one from the incredibly restrictive societal rules, including taboos on everything from touching in public to showing any skin below the chin.
Evil Versus Evil: While they like power and use a lot of maho, the Shadowlands natives and the maho-tsukai under Iuchiban don't like each other. In fact, Iuchiban actually took over the City of the Lost for a while before he was forced out. And then we have the events of Path of the Destroyer, where the Shadowlands emptied out because they were trying to escape from the invading armies of Kali-Ma's Destroyers. This culminated with a fight between Kali-Ma and Fu Leng, ending in the Dark God's death and the new lord of Jigoku, Daigotsu, ripping Kali-Ma's heart out to end the war.
Face–Heel Turn: Most characters who succumb to the Taint end up being totally evil, in some cases a 180 degree flip from their original personality— meek, subservient characters have ended up being bloodthirsty killing machines, and honorable samurai turn into insane, cannibalistic monsters.
Hellgate: The Festering Pit of Fu Leng constantly spits out creatures from Jigoku and Gaki-do. There's also the Second Pit, which formed in the Scorpion lands in the aftermath of Path of the Destroyer.
Hellish Horse: Onikage, mutant, predatory horses that are undead forms of normal ones who died in the Shadowlands. Bonus points for the fact that if you ride one, normal horses hate you, so you're stuck on one.
The Mole: How the Spider Clan, Shadowlands-corrupted humans and followers of Daigotsu, infiltrated the Empire and established their power base. Also a tactic of the Kolat (who actually despise maho and Taint, leading to some interesting shadow politicking).
The Dark God, Fu Leng, was only defeated the first time by sealing his soul into twelve scrolls of incredibly powerful magic. A thousand years later, these scrolls are being cracked open by shugenja like Yogo Junzo, or the Elemental Masters of the Phoenix... But that's all part of the plan.
The background setting includes several mentions to Iuchiban, an immortal, heartless sorcerer who managed to plunge the Empire into chaos before being stopped. Then, he got loose and did it again a few centuries later. The clans gathered together and sealed him into an inescapable prison. A few more centuries later, he got loose AGAIN.
The Undead: The Shadowlands generally love to have hordes of zombies. However, they do have sentient, non-mindless undead on their side, too.
Villainous Rescue: The conclusion of the Destroyer arc has Kali-ma's forces being stopped mainly by Spiders, lead by Fu Leng himself. In fact, since Spider decks won much in the Celestial Edition tournaments, this basically resulted in them being the only competent clan in the storyline.