Creature Feature (5e): Shogunate Nothing

In the lands of the Dairi Shogunate, there exist an order of wandering monks known for their unusual dress. In the native language of the land, they are the Grey Whispers. These men practice a strict philosophy of inner-peace, the abandonment of want, and, ideally, the suppression of the ego. They dress in grey clothing, carrying almost everything they need on their person (begging for the rest), and are famous for their unique headwear: the tengai. Essentially a woven basket worn on the head, tengai are meant to represent the shedding of the ego and almost completely conceal a wearer’s identity. This final trait made it only natural that others might use these monks and their clothing for their own ends.

Chief among these doppelgangers are the shogunate’s Nothings. Masters of deception, the Nothings are perfectly trained in the ways of the Grey Whispers (many either directly recruited from or, after their training, infiltrating the Grey Whisper order). They are notoriously difficult to detect and are the reason much suspicion now surrounds legitimate Grey Whisper philosophers. Nothings play the role of spy and, occasionally, assassin. In the guise of a Grey Whisper, there are few places that are off limits to them and they often can quickly become part of the background. Some Nothings quietly beg and play the complex music of the Whispers for years, reporting to the shogunate in secret or watching a potential enemy of the shogunate in case an assassination order is ever decided upon. The Dairi dynasty is famous for having hands in all things; philosophy and religion are apparently no exception. 

Shogunate Nothing

Medium human, lawful neutral

Armor Class 18
Hit Points 104 (16d8 + 32)
Speed 30 ft.

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
15 (+2) 18 (+4) 14 (+2) 14 (+2) 18 (+4) 14 (+2)

Saving Throws Dexterity +8, Wisdom +8
Skills Deception +6, Insight +8, Perception +8, Religion +6, Stealth +9,
Languages Common, Any three additional languages
Senses passive Perception 18
Gear katana (longsword), tanto (dagger), Grey Whisper disguise (4 lbs)
Challenge 10 (5,900 XP)

Special Traits

  • Trained for the Role. A Shogunate Nothing has advantage on all Deception and Religion checks related to mimicking a Grey Whisper.
  • Trained for Killing Too. If a Shogunate Nothing surprises a creature and hits it with a weapon attack in the first round of combat, that creature takes an additional 10d10 damage of that weapon’s damage type.

Actions

  • Multiattack. The Shogunate Nothing makes three melee attacks.
  • KatanaMelee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, one target. Hit: (1d8 +2) piercing damage.
  • Tanto. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, one target. Hit: (1d4 +4) piercing damage.
  • Stolen Trick. The Shogunate Nothing ends one effect causing it to be Charmed or Frightened.

Legendary Actions

The Shogunate Nothing can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action option can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature’s turn. The Shogunate Nothing regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.

  • Kill (Costs 2 Actions). The Shogunate Nothing makes a melee attack. Upon a hit, this attack receives the additional 10d10 damage provided by its traits, even if not normally applicable.
  • Run. The Shogunate Nothing moves up to 30 ft., provoking opportunity attacks where appropriate.
  • Strange Strike. One creature within 5 ft. of the Shogunate Nothing must make a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw. On a failure, the creature is Stunned for one round.

Tactics

If a Shogunate Nothing is engaging in combat, either they are in the act of assassination or something has gone wrong. Discovery is rare but it is not completely unheard of. 

When engaging on their own terms, a Shogunate Nothing will play the role of a Grey Whisper until the last possible moment, getting close to an enemy and then usually lashing out with a tanto at either an assassination target or the greatest perceived threat, depending on the situation. At this point, they will drop all pretext of their disguise and either kill the remainder of their foes with both a katana and tanto drawn (an unusual fighting style) or will flee. The Shogunate Nothing almost never flees in the case of an assassination attempt until the target is dead, regardless of personal threat. 

When attacked unexpectedly, such as when their disguise has been blown, a Nothing might feel great shame at failing in their prestigious role but will otherwise spring immediately into similar tactics. If confronted by a small or vastly less trained force, they will attempt to eliminate all targets with their two blades. If confronted by a large force (usually twelve or more), they will almost always flee. Then the Shogunate Nothing will immediately report the failure if possible and await further orders. While occasionally such failures are met with an order of seppuku (a type of ritual suicide), usually the Nothings are considered far too valuable and the circumstances around such a failure so extreme, leniency is granted. 

A Shogunate Nothing will never willingly allow capture. If capture or death seems unavoidable, they will immediately kill themselves. The sole exception to this is if mission success still seems possible and has not yet been achieved. In that case, a Nothing will wait until either the mission has been successfully completed or until failure seems unavoidable before ending their own life. 

Role in Society

The Shogunate Nothings are just some of the many eyes and ears of the shogunate. While it has become habitual for nobles to test supposed Grey Whispers to check their legitimacy, the Shogunate Nothings specifically are well-versed enough to almost always pass such tests (although many lesser spies also use such disguises and will potentially fair worse in such testing). The Grey Whispers unsurprisingly view all such spies, the Nothings especially, as highly dangerous to their order due to the paranoia such spying brings on them but keep such worries mostly to themselves. The order simply does not have the resources to oppose the shogunate in any meaningful way and would never risk losing the special privileges they are allowed due to their cooperation. 

Numbering less than one hundred, the Nothings are a source of pride for the shogunate. They are loyal, intelligent, and have an excellent history of success in their missions. In terms of their capabilities as spies and assassins, they leave little to be desired. The training program that produces them is a closely guarded secret, and it is no wonder. Some say they are as close to perfect as a mortal leader could hope to achieve in such large numbers. 



About Quin Callahan

Quin Callahan is a freelance writer and college level English and economics tutor of over four years experience. He has written for a variety of gaming, technology, and economics publications. His favorite animal might be the squid but he is rarely certain.

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