Crab: Underappreciated for the eternal war they fight. For much of the Empire, the Crab fall under two categories: Uncouth Louts when they are successfully defending the Wall, or Brave Failures when a Shadowlands assault manages to push past the Wall and threaten normal folks. For me, Crab stories often focus around opening the eyes of the rest of the Empire to the horrors the Crab face on a daily basis. Crane: Perfectionists who create an art out of everything they do. The Crane are artisans, creating masterpieces in their chosen field, be it court, the duel, or one of the artisan skills. For me, Crane stories focus on the pursuit of the perfection of their chosen art, and the struggles to live up to the expectations on the world around them. Dragon: Waiting, Watching, and Acting at the perfect moment to change the course of history. The Dragon are the patient, wise master on the mountain. To me, Dragon stories are all about the small actions needed to change the world, regardless of their cost to you. Dragon stories are about self sacrifice in the name of a great plan, of acting in ways that show little rhyme or reason, but knowing with absolute surity that doing so will bring about the very results needed. Lion: The Epitome of a bushi. The Lion represent what it means to be an honorable bushi. For me, Lion stories are much like those of Crane. They are stories of the pursuit of perfection on the battlefield, and the struggles to live up to the standards set by your Ancestors. Mantis: Arrogant drive to succeed. The Mantis are merchants, pirates, and a haven for everyone who wants to claim the samurai title, but doesn't know how to act as a samurai. They are brave, reckless, and utterly terrifying to those who rely on Tradition and Bushido to guide behavior. to me, Mantis stories are about the great heights ambition can raise you to, as well as the terrible falls that can result. Phoenix: Powerful, prideful pacifists. The Phoenix are the masters of magic, devoted to peace. Their leadership is made up of some of the most knowledgable people in the Empire, and they know it. To me, Phoenix stories are focused around exploring being the smartest person in the room, the consequences of pride (both theirs and those around them), and exploring how far a Phoenix is willing to go to see peace. Scorpion: Loyal, ruthless, and pragmatic. The Scorpion are my favorite clan, with the Dragon a close second. The Scorpion are incredibly loyal to their friends, and are willing to take the biggest risks to see their goals accomplished. Where another Clan might see kanshi in response to questionable orders, the Scorpion always have an agent willing to step up. To me, Scorpion stories are all about the balancing act between doing what has to be done and maintaining companionable relations with the more honorable clans. Unicorn: Outsiders in their homeland The Unicorn have spent centuries exploring the world beyond the Empire. It's inevitable that, when they returned, they were almost unrecognizable to those they had left behind. Those differences have continued to the current timeline. To me, Unicorn stories are all about being the alien in your native land, and exploring how those differences affected those around you. How does the lonely Crane respond when the nicest person in the room is a weirdo? Spider: Tainted goods The Spider are hated, disliked, and generally disdained. In my stories, they fulfill one of three roles: either they're genuinely good people trying to push past their evil reputation, they are temptors and corruptors, or they are monsters. Their stories can be about the struggle of overcoming their nature or reputation. MCA: minor characters in a Great Clan's game. The MCA have lots of character. There's a lot you can do with them. But they're small, they're few in number, and they can't really play on the same level as the Great Clans. In my stories, minor clans play one of two roles: either they are supporting characters in a Great Clan story, or they are the scene for a Great Clan story.
A bonus: Ronin: Freedom has its costs. Ronin have some of the greatest freedom any samurai can claim, but they also have the weakest support systems. A ronin answers to nobody but those who can force their compliance. However, a ronin must also find ways to feed himself, and has nobody's name to fall back on in case of troubles. A ronin lives, thrives, or dies based on his own cunning and strength of arms. A ronin's story explores the themes of freedom and the dangers of being completely alone in an incredibly cruel world.