Imperial Histories: L5R-RPG
RITSURYO NISATSU : OVERVIEW OF THE "A THOUSAND YEARS OF PEACE" LIVING CAMPAIGN
AN OVERVIEW ARTICLE ON THE PRE-SCORPION COUP ERA-OF-PLAY.
Released for immediate publication on Sunday, the fifteenth of April, year two-thousand and twelve.
The time called the “thousand years of peace” was hardly peaceful. Clans fought for territory, gained political strength in the court, and built on the foundations of the philosophy that Shinsei left behind. Emperor Hantei and his brothers and sisters grew old and their children assumed their responsibilities and duties. As the age marched on, each Clan developed its character.
In the span of a thousand years, the population has grown to 30 million, including two million samurai. The strengths of the Seven Clans have ebbed and flowed, political boundaries have been redrawn and fought for many, many times. But some things never change, only grow and mature. Each Clan has grown from their beginnings, transforming themselves into a distinct force, each an individual power to be reckoned with. “Minor Clans” also developed, but none were as significant as the Seven Great Clans that were born of the Children of Sun and Moon.
|Approximate Dates:||1100 – 1124|
|Major Alliances:||Three Man Alliance (Fox, Sparrow, and Wasp Clans)|
|Major Conflicts:||Lion/Crane, Crab/Shadowlands|
|Mechanical Considerations:||This era is the default setting for all First Edition sourcebooks.|
The Seven Great Clans
Most of Rokugan is divided into the territories of the Seven Great Clans, each of which was founded by one of the seven divine brothers and sisters of Hantei, the first Emperor. Hantei ordered that each of his siblings take responsibility for a different aspect of governing the Empire, and the Clans have fulfilled those roles ever since.
The Clan of the Crab
For a thousand years, the Crab have steadfastly defended the Emerald Empire from the evil hordes of the Shadowlands. Unfortunately, this duty has left them little time for courtly activities, making them the most blunt and uncouth of the clans. While their courage and honor is never questioned, the Crab are notorious for their pragmatic and ruthless methods. Other Clans often point out how the evil aura of the Shadowlands lingers on everything it touches, and wonder how many Crab samurai have gained the dreaded “Shadowlands Taint.”
The dominant family of the Crab Clan is the Hida family, descended from the Clan’s founder. The Hida are the powerful, brutal warriors who stand on the Kaiu Wall battling the forces of the Shadowlands. The daimyo of the Hida family (and the Champion of the Crab Clan) is the legendary Hida Kisada, the “Great Bear,” who continues to be one of the greatest of Rokugan’s warriors despite his advancing age. Other notable Hida include his children: O-Ushi, Sukune and Yakamo.
The Kuni family are the shugenja of the Crab clan. They are infamous throughout Rokugan for their relentless investigation of the monsters and horrors of the Shadowlands, and many believe them to be irredeemably tainted by their work. The current Kuni family daimyo is the sinister Kuni Yori.
The Hiruma family are scouts, and spend their time patrolling the Shadowlands to learn of enemy armies before they can strike the Wall. The family lost its ancestral lands to the Shadowlands two centuries ago, and has been haunted by that defeat ever since. Since the loss of the Hiruma lands, each successive family daimyo has vowed to return them under his watch. And each successive family daimyo has failed. The burden weighs especially heavy on the family’s current leader, Hiruma Kage.
The Kaiu family are engineers, builders of fortifications, traps, and siege engines. They built the great Kaiu Wall which guards the border against the Shadowlands, and maintain it to this day. The current family daimyo is the cheerful Kaiu Utsu.
The Yasuki family are merchants, a highly disreputable occupation for samurai, and for that reason are despised by most non-Crab Rokugani. Their family was once part of the Crane Clan, but switched to the Crab many centuries ago, provoking the first great inter-Clan war in Rokugani history. Their family daimyo is the deceptively lowly merchant Yasuki Taka.
The Clan of the Crane
The Crane are the “Left Hand of the Emperor,” and provide the art, music, and wealth which makes the Emperor’s court shine. Every Emperor since the first Hantei has chosen a bride from the Crane Clan, and thus, every Emperor after the first has called a Crane “Mother.” Also, every Emperor has attended the legendary Crane fencing school – the Kakita School, the most prestigious in the Empire, its students legendary for their prowess and courage. However, the Crane are seen by the other Clans as posers and sycophants hiding behind the protection of the Emperor.
The two dominant families of the Crane Clan are the Doji and the Kakita, who are both descended from the marriage of the Clan founder, Lady Doji, and her mortal champion Kakita. The Doji, masters of courtly intrigue, rule the clan, but the Kakita are the keepers of the Clan’s famous school of swordsmanship, as well as brilliant artists and performers. The current Crane Clan Champion is Doji Satsume, who is also the Emerald Champion; his son Doji Hoturi serves as Doji family daimyo. The current Kakita family daimyo is tactful Kakita Yoshi, the Emperor’s advisor, but the most famous Kakita in the land is Kakita Toshimoko, the sensei of the famed Kakita Dueling Academy.
The Asahina are the Crane shugenja family. Their magical knowledge was inherited from the Phoenix Clan through marriage, making them powerful indeed. But their following is a very peaceful philosophy, even more so than the Phoenix. Their current daimyo is a man of great wisdom but faltering health, Asahina Tamako.
The Daidoji family are the soldiers and bodyguards of the clan, and protect the other families when war threatens. They are also skilled in the ways of merchants, and compete fiercely with the Yasuki. The current Daidoji family daimyo is the swarthy young Daidoji Uji.
The Clan of the Dragon
Since the earliest days of the Hantei dynasty, Togashi and his Clan have remained secreted away in the high mountains of Rokugan. Practicing their strange meditations in privacy, the Dragon Clan are the most misunderstood samurai of the Empire. Their spell casters are fluent in the ways of war, and their samurai are familiar with the ways of sorcery. The strangest of their Clan – the monks known as the ise zumi – shave all hair from their bodies and cover their skin with detailed tattoos. Always enigmatic, the Dragon Clan are often perceived as aloof and bizarre by the other Clans.
The Togashi “family” are the Ise Zumi (tattooed men) who take their lord’s name when they forsake their old lives for the life of a monk. Their leader, and the Champion of the Dragon Clan, is the mysterious Togashi Yokuni, who is said to be the direct descendent of the original Togashi who founded the Clan. Equally enigmatic is his son from a Scorpion wife, Togashi Hoshi.
The politically and militarily dominant family of the Dragon, the Mirumoto, are bushi. Their distinctive two-sword technique and their enlightened, poetic ways set them apart from all other bushi in the Empire. Their current family daimyo is the young Mirumoto Hitomi, a woman consumed by a quest for personal vengeance. Her uncle Mirumoto Sukune does much of the actual work of leading the family. Other prominent figure of the family is Hitomi’s brother, Mirumoto Daini.
The Agasha family are the Dragon shugenja. They are both spell casters and alchemists, and have learned many techniques for duplicating spells with potions and powders. Their family daimyo is the deceptively short-statured Agasha Tamori.
The Kitsuki are the youngest family in the Dragon Clan, and one of the most controversial families in Rokugan. Their school teaches methods of investigation which emphasize evidence and logical deduction, rather than the personal testimony which is prized by official Rokugani law. Their daimyo is the relentlessly judgmental Kitsuki Yasu.
The Clan of the Lion
If the Crane are the “left hand” of the Emperor, then the Lion are his right hand. The Lion Clan has always maintained an extreme reverence for the Emperor, a devotion unparalleled anywhere in Rokugan. The samurai of the Lion Clan are some of the most brilliant tacticians the Empire has ever known, commanding small armies against larger ones with legendary success. However, some would say the Lion Clan clings too tightly to tradition, and their unquestioning loyalty to the Emperor has caused much strife between them and the other Clans – especially their chief rival, the Crane.
The Akodo family, descended from Clan founder Akodo One-Eye, were once the dominant family of the Lion, but in recent years their numbers have declined while the Matsu have moved to prominence. This has caused much tension within the Clan, and the problems have only gotten worse since the last Clan Champion, Akodo Arasou, fell in battle against the Crane. He was replaced by his younger brother Akodo Toturi, a quiet man who had spent his youth in a monastery. Although Toturi has led the Lion well, his restrained policies toward the Crane have angered the Matsu family deeply.
The Matsu family, the largest family of the Lion, are descended from Lady Matsu, the first and fiercest of Akodo’s followers. They are a ferocious family where women are bushi almost as often as the men, and where battle, courage, and honor are valued above all other things. The current family daimyo is Matsu Tsuko, the “lady of Lions,” who was betrothed to marry Arasou before his untimely death. Her contempt for Akodo Toturi is well known.
The Kitsu are the shugenja of the Lion. Because the Lion revere their ancestors so highly, the Kitsu have mastered the art of entering the spirit world to commune with the souls of the departed. They are led by the quiet, monastic Kitsu Toju.
The Ikoma are historians and storytellers, and record both the official histories of the Emerald Empire and the personal stories of countless samurai. They are also the “heart of the Lion,” and are permitted to publicly express the emotions which other Lions must keep sealed away.
The Clan of the Phoenix
The word “shugenja” has many meanings in Rokugan: holy man, prophet, sorcerer, and priest. The most powerful shugenja in the empire undoubtedly belong to the Phoenix Clan. No other Clan has a more fundamental understanding of the Old Religion of Rokugan and the “new way” of Shinsei. Theirs is the only Great Clan to be dominated by shugenja rather than bushi, and this sometimes causes the other, more warlike Clans to look down on them: after all, days spent in contemplative meditation and reading ancient texts are days unspent learning the finer aspects of swordplay and battle. However, the magical powers of the Phoenix can be a terrible force on the battlefield, as more than one Clan has discovered.
The bushi of the Phoenix belong to the Shiba family, descended from Shiba himself, founder of the Clan. However, just as Shiba knelt to Isawa at the beginning, so do the Shiba bushi today serve the needs of the Isawa family shugenja. The Shiba family daimyo, and Clan Champion, is Shiba Ujimitsu; however, he never acts without consulting the Isawa Elemental Council.
The Isawa are the master shugenja of Rokugan, and are said to have discovered the secrets of magic before anyone else. They are ruled by an Elemental Council which consists of the five Elemental Masters. Currently, the masters are Isawa Ujina (Void), Isawa Tsuke (Fire), Isawa Tadaka (Earth), Isawa Tomo (Water), and Isawa Uona (Air). A promising ishiken is also known by the name of Isawa Kaede.
The Asako are a mysterious family which are known in the rest of the Empire as historians and diplomats, assisting the Ikoma in the keeping of official histories. They are said to be deep students of the mysteries of the elements. They also operate a group known as “Inquisitors” who seek out the users of maho (forbidden black magic).
The Clan of the Scorpion
If there are secrets to be known, a Scorpion somewhere knows them. They are the masters of double-dealing and subterfuge. Over the thousand years of Hantei reign, the Scorpion have proven to be valuable allies – and deadly enemies – to every Clan. Theirs is a Clan of spies and information peddlers. Once you strike a deal with a Scorpion you can never clear yourself of the debt. And if you earn the enmity of one Scorpion, you earn the enmity of the whole treacherous lot.
The ruling family of the Scorpion are the Bayushi, descended from the Clan founder. Their ranks include both courtiers and bushi, and they are equally adept on the battlefield and at the negotiating table. The current Bayushi daimyo and Clan Champion is Bayushi Shoju, but perhaps the most famous member of this family is his stunningly beautiful wife, Bayushi Kachiko, the Emperor’s assistant.
The Shosuro, descended from Bayushi’s most famous follower, are masters of disguise, espionage, and deception. Their family school teaches the arts of acting and infiltrating. Their current family daimyo is Shosuro Hametsu, Kachiko’s brother.
The Scorpion have two shugenja families, the Soshi and the Yogo. The two teach similar methods, but each has its own secrets. The Yogo family are the keepers of the Twelve black Scrolls which defeated Fu Leng a thousand years ago, and it is said that all Yogo are cursed to betray the one they love. Their magic includes mysterious wards which are unknown elsewhere. The Soshi focus on the magic of deception and trickery, assisting the activities of the other families. The current Soshi daimyo is the arrogant Soshi Bantaro, while the Yogo are ruled by the temperamental Yogo Junzo.
The Clan of the Unicorn
A thousand years ago, the followers of Shinjo – the Ki-Rin Clan – departed the Empire to explore the world outside. Two hundred years ago, the clan returned to Rokugan, renamed as the Clan of the Unicorn. They brought with them undreamed wealth, fabulous treasures of foreign make, and their most valuable prize: the war-horses of the west. The Unicorn Clan also brought with it many strange customs and beliefs, making them strangers to the people of Rokugan. Their ignorance of the Empire’s delicate etiquette has made them appear to be “barbaric” and “uncivilized” at times, but their mighty horses and valiant samurai (all trained in what the Lion call “barbaric tricks”) have made them valuable allies to any who would take them.
The Shinjo family, descended from the Unicorn founder, are great warriors and masterful horsemen. Their daimyo, Shinjo Yokatsu, is clearly a man who would prefer to still be riding the steppe, and fits in poorly in the courts of Rokugan.
The Otaku are the one true matriarchal family in Rokugan. Their women serve as bushi, riding their great steeds in battle, while the men stay home to run the household and care for the horses. Needless to say, this is often shocking to other Clans. The current Otaku daimyo is the young, high-spirited Otaku Kamoko.
The Iuchi family are the Unicorn shugenja. They have devised many new and secret spells in their centuries of travel, and have also learned foreign (gaijin) methods of spell-casting which seem to overturn the Elemental order. Prominent Iuchi figures include their daimyo Iuchi Daiyu, his daughter Iuchi Shahai, and the mysterious Iuchi Karasu.
The Ide are diplomats, their skills honed by many centuries dealing with the strange cultures outside Rokugan. Their skills at negotiation are extraordinary, and they rely on honor and charm rather than the intrigue and maneuver favored by other Clans. Among the family, Ide Tadaji, is a well-known figure in the Emperor’s court.
The Minor Clans
There are a number of Minor Clans which have been recognized by the Emperor in the thousand years since the Emerald Empire began. Some of these Clans are large and wealthy (such as the Fox and Mantis), while others are poor or obscure (such as the sparrow or Centipede). The Great Clans generally ignore or patronize them.
The Badger Clan guard the northern passes into the Empire, a duty they have followed since they were founded by a Crab daimyo. They value strength above all other things, and are notoriously simple, crude, and isolated. Their family name is “Ichiro.” With the death of Akitomo while visiting Tsuma, Ichiro Chuga has been thrusted to the position as the clan’s daimyo.
The Centipede Clan are a tiny matriarchal clan of shugenja. They revere the Sun Goddess Amaterasu, who they claim appeared in a vision to their founder. They are known to be masters of Fire and Air magic. Their family name is “Moshi.” Notable among the family is Moshi Juiko, the clan’s aged-dowager, and her daughter Wakiza, famous for her control and adept in magic.
The Dragonfly Clan are the result of a multi-sided war involving the Lion, Phoenix, and Dragon. They live in the lands adjacent to the Dragon territories, and act as intermediaries between the Dragon and the rest of the empire. The Lion clan still holds a deep grudge against them. Their family name is “Tonbo.” Their Champion is Tonbo Toryu.
The Falcon Clan are a small band who specialize in the lore and exorcism of ghosts. Living on the very fringes of the Empire, northwest of the Crab lands, they have little contact with others. The Falcon claim the family name “Toritaka,” although it has not yet been recognized by the Emperor. Famous among the Crab is the Falcon bushi known as Genzo.
The Fox Clan are descended from those of the Ki-rin who remained behind when the rest followed Shinjo out of the Empire. They are known for their close connections with nature and its spirits. Their family name is “Kitsune.” Notable figures of the Clan include Kitsune Gohei and his daughter, Ryosei.
The Hare Clan are descended from the heroic ronin Reichin, whose efforts against Iuchiban is well-known in the Empire. They are noted for their persistence in fighting Bloodspeakers and other maho users. Their family name is “Usagi.” The current daimyo and Champion of the Hare is Usagi Oda. Other notable Hares include Ozaki and Tomoe, the daimyo’s children.
The Mantis Clan were founded by the non-inheriting son of the second Crab Champion, and their bloodline draws from both the Crab and the Lion. They inhabit a set of islands off the shore of the Empire, and do a lucrative trade in spices, silks, and exotic foreign goods. Their champion, Yoritomo, openly dreams of attaining Great clan status for the Mantis. The Mantis have no family name – it was taken from them, generations ago, when some of them plotted to overthrow the Hantei Emperor.
The Sparrow Clan are the descendants of a Crane, Doji Suzume, who famously suggested giving all wealth to the common folk. They inhabit some of the poorest lands in the Empire, and often their samurai must labor in the fields alongside the peasants. They are famed as masters of conversation and storytelling. Their family name is “Suzume.” Notable of the Clan is Suzume Yugoki.
The Tortoise Clan were founded five hundred years ago after a gaijin invasion was driven from the land. They live in the territories of the capital, Otosan Uchi, and serve the Emperor directly. This allows them to get away with a number of peculiarities, including a tendency to blur the lines between samurai and heimin. They have no recognized family name at this time. Notable of the Clan include the current Champion Kasuga Taigen, and his daughter Mino.
The Wasp Clan are the youngest of the Minor clans, founded less than thirty years ago by a man named Tsuruchi who was of Lion and Scorpion blood. The clan forsakes the sword in favor of the bow, and Wasp bushi act as bounty hunters on behalf of magistrates all across the Empire. They have no family name, although Tsuruchi is lobbying for one.
The Imperial Families
There are three great Imperial Families which serve the Emperor directly, independent of any Clan.
The Miya family are messengers, heralds, and above all peacemakers, who travel the Empire spreading the Emperor’s decrees and helping to quell conflicts between the Clans. Their current daimyo is the noble but aging Miya Yoto.
The Otomo family are descended from all the various non-inheriting members of the Hantei line. Master politicians, they protect the Emperor by maneuvering the various Clans against each other. Their current family daimyo is the brilliant manipulator Otomo Sorai.
The Seppun family are descended from the first follower of the Seven Great Kamis. They serve the Hantei as elite bodyguards with legendary skills. Their current daimyo is Seppun Daiori.
PRE-SCORPION COUP ERA CAMPAIGN-SPECIFIC GAME MECHANICS
A. The Agasha is a Dragon Clan family in this era. And that the Tamori family of the Dragon has yet to exist after the Agasha defected to the Phoenix.
B. Note that the Otaku have not yet changed their family name as the printed entry: Utaku
C. Characters affiliated to a Minor clan may choose whether or not to take their Clan’s family name (if there is one). Note that in this era-of-play, the Falcon, Mantis, Tortoise, and Wasp clans do not yet have imperially-recognized names. Hence, players of these clans may not take on the Family bonus granted, nor make us of the family names as printed.
D. A character who wishes to belong into any one of the Imperial Families must spend 10 Experience Points on the Advantage: Social Position.
E. The Tsume is a vassal family of the Crane (patron family: Doji) in this era, and is available as an alternate Crane family name (providing a +1 Reflexes bonus)(presented as a Ronin Family name in the Imperial Histories book).