The Amber Championship is a long-standing tradition in the Lion Clan. It is an opportunity for the clan to come together as a group and welcome a new generation of samurai into their ranks.
The participants are young samurai who are about to be tested before undergoing their gempukku ceremony, after which they will be awarded their daisho, signifying their status as adult samurai. Some may have undergone private gempukku ceremonies at home, according to the family traditions. For most, their family may view this as their official gempukku. For all the contestants, though, the opportunity for both great recognition and embarrassing ignominy is ever present.
The vast majority of Lion samurai regard the Amber Championship as the most prestigious gempukku ceremony in the Empire. The Championship features young men and women from every family in a competition designed to showcase the talents of Rokugan’s youth.
Invitations to participate or attend the festival are some of the most hotly traded favors in Lion territory. Clan Daimyo take great care in determining who represents them at the Championship – selection usually involves either talent or connections. To permit just anyone to enter the contest would risk embarrassment, and no Daimyo would risk such a thing in front of the gathered clan.
The entire event is three days long. The first two days consist of various competitions intended to test every aspect of what it means to be an honorable samuari.
Any contestant who does well is allowed to participate in the kenjutsu tournament on day three. Merely making it into the tournament is considered sufficient to pass a young samuari’s gempukku.
The final two competitors in the kenjutso tournament finally face one another in a true test of a Lion’s mettle, a large scale battle.
Primary Roll: Strength/Jiujitsu (Grappling)
The sumai match is a bare-handed wrestling competition. Each pair of competitors stands on a large straw mat to soften the impact of falls. Contestants may not use weapons of any sort, nor wear armor. At the start of each match, the contestants roll for initiative and attempt to engage in a grapple, rolling Agility/Juijutsu vs. the opponent’s Armor TN. The first contestant to engage a successful grapple gains control for that round. At the beginning of each subsequent round, both participants make a contested Strength/Juijutsu roll. The higher roll is considered in control for that round. The first contestant who can maintain control of a grapple for three consecutive rounds is the victor.
Primary Roll: Intelligence/Lore: Heraldry
In this test, the contestants are brought before the judges individually and asked to identify a given mon or chop. Five are presented, each more difficult than the last. A contestant must successfully identify four of the five in order to pass the test. The difficulties are as follows:
TN – Mon/Chop – Example
5 – Everyday The mon of a Great Clan.
10 – Prominent – The mon of a Great Clan family.
15 – Uncommon -The mon of a Minor Clan.
20 – Rare – The mon of a vassal family serving a Great Clan.
25 – Obscure – The mon/chop of an individual samurai.
Primary Roll: Various
The athletics competition is a sort of obstacle course, where the contestants are supposed to demonstrate their sheer physical speed and coordination by completing the course as quickly as possible. The course consists of three major obstacles separated by lengthy runs.
Primary Roll: Various (see below)
Much like the athletics competition, this contest is a match between two competitors completing a set course. Also like the athletics competition, the contestants earn points toward a victory here by making Raises.
Law, Etiquette, & Bushido
Primary Rolls: Intelligence/Lore: Bushido, Intelligence/Lore: Law and Intelligence/Etiquette
Primary Roll: Various
This is a simple test wherein the contestants are questioned privately regarding matters of Imperial law, appropriate social conduct, and knowledge of a samurai’s code of conduct.
Primary Roll: Perform: Storytelling
This test is one of the most popular amongst the observers. Contestants are asked to retell the classic tales of Lion history and heroes.
Primary Roll: Reflexes/Iaijutsu
Pairs of contestants are given bokken and engage in a mock Iaijutsu duel. The first to strike is the victor.
Primary Roll: Awareness/Artisan: Poetry
This contest is rather simple. Both contestants are given a topic about which they must compose a poem (TN 10). Haiku is the normal format, the traditional 5-7-5 syllable poem of Rokugan. Raises may be made to gain insight into the judges’ personal preferences and incorporate them into the poem. The contestant who beats the TN by the greatest degree is the victor, although successful Raises can skew the contest in one direction or the other.
Primary Roll: Intelligence/Games: Go
Another traditional contest, the Go match proceeds exactly like any other. The two competitors make a contested roll (or series of contested rolls, depending upon how detailed you would like the matches to be). The contestant who wins the roll (or rolls) wins the match.
Primary Roll: Awareness/Courtier and Awareness/Etiquette
The courtier contest is feared by many bushi that have neglected the social and academic aspects of their training. The judges bring two students before them and give them a subject to debate. There are few rules in this contest, and no time limit; the judges stop the debate when they believe one contestant has clearly demonstrated his superiority at the courtly arts. Many blood feuds have begun during this contest.
Format: Match (Team)
Primary Roll: Perception/Hunting (others required as necessary)
Hunting is the most complex contest. Once, every contestant was required to enter the woods surrounding
Format: Single Elimination Tournament
Primary Roll: Agility/Weapon Skill
Other than the battle that ends the Championship, the weapons test is the most anticipated, most prestigious individual contest. Any contestant who qualified on the previous two days is eligible to enter the tournament.
The contestants are allowed to choose any weapon they wish from a large number of specially prepared, non-lethal padded weapons. No dishonorable weapons are included. Ranged weapons are not permitted in this contest. The blunted weapons in this competition only keep 1 die of damage. Honorable competitors will keep low dice for damage, although some may grow overzealous in their efforts. A weapon that deals more than ten points of damage in a hit breaks after the strike.
At the start of the match, the contestants roll initiative and engage in regular melee combat. The contest is decided on how competent and skillful the contestants are. Each successful attack gives the attacker 1 point. Each raise on a successful attack grants the attacker 1 additional point. These raises can be used on maneuvers or just declared to gain points. A 5-point lead is typically enough to decide a winner. When the match is adjudged as over, and the winner advances. Either contestant can also concede the match at any point (shugenja and courtiers often concede after a brief show for the crowd to prove they are not cowardly).
The fighting continues until only two competitors stand.
Primary Roll: Battle/Perception
This test determines the overall winner of the Amber Championship. The finalists are each given a large force of Ashigaru and a handful of the eliminated competitors.
The fighters are equipped with weaponry similar to that as from the weapons tournament. Fighters removed from the battle field if they take two strikes from any weapon.
The forces line up 100 paces apart with a flag between them. Whichever side has more combatants within 10 paces of the flag at the end of an hour is the winner.
If either finalist is eliminated, the other wins immediately.
All competitors that make it to the third day are considered to have passed their Gempukku and become full samurai.
Those that fail to make the cut are sometimes granted a section chance, but only rarely.
The second place finisher is usually given a commission as a Nikutai, Corporal, in the Lion army.
The winner is usually given a commission as a Gunso, Sergeant.