Our Rokugan is not the canon Rokugan, nor is it a story entirely divested of that plot. We started with the Scorpion Clan Coup and shifted it, bit by small bit, away from the original story.
Shosuro Atari became Atari, head of a new Imperial House in charge of the Imperial Treasury. Matsu Tadaka trained a horde of peasants to kill samurai in the final days of the Coup and himself served in the place of the Emerald Champion before finally killing the Usurper, Bayushi Shoju, First and Last Emperor of his name. Isawa Ujina-uo decided the fate of the Hantei line by allowing Hantei XXXIX to become the tainted thing that would one day house Fu Leng’s soul, vowing to protect it as the new Master of Void. Akodo Unmei became Ujina Unmei, first daimyo of a new family of the Hare Clan, wielder of the Bloodsword Ambition, Master Tiger and dominant force behind a puppet clan.
The story divested further from there, changing history in the Clan War leading up to the Day of Thunder. The Falcon Clan fell to the Shuten Doji of Desire, Fortunes fell to the blade of Master Tiger, Shosuro is released from her Crystal Prison and kills and takes over the body of Mirumoto Tsunake. Togashi Tajiri takes in the spirit of Desire holding the Shuten Doji deep within himself until the ultimate sacrifice of love. Isawa Akihito opens the Black Scroll, Doom of Fu Leng, before turning it upon the Bloodsword Revenge and Kenshin’s Helm, destroying both utterly and purifying the Scroll. It is secreted away by the Phoenix, a spell capable of purifying the Taint, and Isawa Akihito becomes the Voice of the Five Masters. Toturi is slain upon the field of battle when Kenshin’s helm explodes upon his head. Togashi Tajiri becomes the head of the Toashi Order. Kuni O-Yama, pure shugenja of Earth, becomes the new daimyo of the Kuni Family and, eventually restores the office of the Jade Champion.
Atari and Tadaka put forth a plan to kidnap and hide Ujina-uo’s child and kill his wife, distracting him from the Mad Emperor and sent Bayushi Aramoro to assassinate the Tainted boy. The attempt failed miserably ending with Aramoro as a corrupted pawn of the Dark Lord, Atari a hated enemy of the Master of Void, and Tadaka on his way to join the Mantis. In the end, Tadaka becomes Matsu Tadaka of the Mantis, only very late taking the name Yoritomo. Atari and his longtime rival, Azai, are bound eternally into a go table by Isawa Ujina-uo as his last act prior to destroying the remaining Imperial Court and then becoming the Dark Oracle of Void.
Finally, the story progressed into Ryoko Owari and the Steel Empire.
With Toturi dead, no one took the throne after the Day of Thunder. Instead, a Regency of sorts held with multiple clans advising. All the while, the Lying Darkness gathered and eventually the War Against the Darkness progressed. As Isawa Hochiu destroyed the Avatar of the Shadow upon the field of battle, the Spirits returned anew.
Hantei XVI, the Steel Chrysanthemum, returned to Rokugan along with thousands of other ancestors and began to draw power. He was greeted in secret by the new Dark Lord of the Shadowlands, a descendent of the Hantei line himself, Daigotsu. The Dark Lord offered a secret truce: the Shadowlands would grow dormant in the Hantei’s time and aid in secret ways to defeat the Steel Chrysanthemum’s enemies. In return, the Hantei would not favor the Crab and would turn a blind eye to certain activities within the Empire.
The Reign of the Steel Chrysanthemum began anew. The Hantei collected his power and defeated the mortal Rokugani taking the throne for himself. As time progressed, enemies rallied against him, real and imagined. The Moto Khan, new leader of the Unicorn, rallied an army in proxy behind his newest clan member, Moto Kaneka, child of Toturi. Bayushi Atsuki/Shosuro Furuyari, the Spider, recreated the Gozoku with Isawa Akiko, daughter of Isawa, Yoritomo Kitao, and Moto Chagatai. And the People’s Legion returned anew as their former leader took command of the peasant army that had arisen from Tadaka’s “folly.” The Empire began to experience severe overpopulation and famine, riots arose everywhere, the Scorpion were reinstated as a Clan and the Mantis dissolved from their temporary Great Clan status.
In the city of Ryoko Owari, all events circled like the eye of a great storm. Kakita Sasuke, child of Atari, Ikoma Zai, and Kakita Dejiko, adopted brother of the new Crane Champion, Doji Ginchiyo, slowly descended into darkness. He wielded the Bloodsword, Passion, and slowly, but surely, fell to the siren song.
Mirumoto Miyoto, the Topaz Champion, took command, secretly killing his Emerald Magistrate leader, Otomo Oniwabanshu, and leading a great charge against the Mad Prophet and the People’s Legion.
Hiruma Shotaku, corrupted scion of the Crab, began a road of corruption and redemption, guided by a benevolent ancestor from his clan.
And Shosuro Yusuko, daughter of Yudoka, descendant of Shosuro, walked a path of shadow and deception.
In the end, as events crashed to a head, the world shifted and it changed. The new Emerald Champion, Horiuchi Senai, was shot in the eye by Oni no Yoriko as Kakita Sasuke fell to darkness for the last time. He chased the pregnant Empress Otomo Hoketuhime, and the Imperial Heir, Hantei Genji, through the streets and brutally murdered them all. The Bloodsword Passion drank their souls with glee and sent Sasuke off to find the Bloodspeaker to set him free. It was only later that it was revealed that Kakita Sasuke had also killed his brother, Doji Ginchiyo, and his allies Shotaku and Yusuko had slain Doji Akiko, on Teardrop Island. Sasuke retained and still owns the name of Kinslayer.
In the Governor’s Palace the Hantei secretly arrived. Armies began amassing outside the gates of the city, a Gozoku plot to destroy the Emperor forever. However, even as Hantei XL was being chased through the streets and finally destroyed by the deception of Hiruma Shotaku and Daidoji Hei, Shosuro Yusuko obtained a favor from her ancestor. She used Shosuro’s Rainbow Cloak to waltz down into the Shadowed Tower, up to Bayushi Atsuki, and stabbed him in his throat.
Mirumoto Miyoto raged through the burning city destroying the People’s Legion and eventually taking on the mantle of husband of the Governor.
The Emperor dead, the Gozoku fallen, the Khan neutered by the arrival of Imperial forces, Hiruma Shotaku opened the Egg of the Void.
Out came the Jade Sun and Obsidian Moon. Down fell the mortals in Tengoku banished from the sight of the Heavens.
A tournament was held, not one year later, on the plains outside Ryoko Owari Toshi. The Jade Sun and Obsidian Moon oversaw the instatement of a new Imperial Dynasty and granted Celestial Mandate.
Yusuko took command of the Shosuro, taking her ancestor inside herself with the cloak. In time, she hunted the final remnants of the Shadowed Tower and the last remaining Scorpion Gozoku into death.
Miyoto vowed to ensure the purity of the newest Imperial line and became daimyo of the Mirumoto before his death.
Shotaku swam down into the Bay of Drowned Honor and retrieved the Jade Hand before winning a tournament to become Regent of the Crab and protector of the infant Hida Kuon. [O-Ushi and her husband were both slain in the Yasuki War; O-Ushi to Daidoji Uji, later killed himself; Yasamura and Hida Kuroda both fell to Matsu Tadaka’s blade.]
Sasuke released Iuchiban, the Bloodspeaker, and his Lieutenant, Yajinden. He took the mantle of yojimbo of Yajinden and serves him to this day.
The story will progress decades later. So far, the only major events that I have in place after this is the Rise of the Bloodspeaker. Daigotsu will have allied with the Empire and the new Imperial Dynasty against Iuchiban and, eventually, with Yajinden’s betrayal and many other events taking place, Iuchiban will have fallen. The Bloodspeaker is no more and Yajinden has joined Daigotsu.
The Spider are on the rise. The Emperor/Empress has reason to trust Daigotsu as far as that can be done.
The first act of the new Imperial Line was to reinstate the Mantis as a Great Clan.
I am considering a game wherein the Spider are on the verge of finding a way to become a clan, Great or Minor.
All of that was written so I could get my head around this:
I want the next L5R Game and whoever plays it to be something I have not yet done before. I want every player to be a part of the same clan. So far, every game has been a mixture of clans, no single clan singularly represented (though we came close with Crane).
I want to tell the story of the players, like always, and make the game fun for all, but I want the backdrop, the “Meta-Plot” to be the story of the clan that is chosen.
So far, here are the options and the story ideas I have come up with:
Crab: a Wall Campaign focused on finding out the true motivations behind the Shadowlands and Daigotsu. A focus on Battle, forays into the Shadowlands, the mental horror of the Wall and protracted, unwanted War (think Vietnam). Characters in this game would be primarily militant; it would not favor any form of courtier based character, but could have ninja-types, scouts, berserkers, bushi, shugenja, and more. I would want to focus very heavily on the Wall, the Shadowlands Enemy, and the harrowing effects of war.
Crane: A game based on returning the Crane to Glory. Their coffers fell during the last few decades and with the death of Ginchiyo and the rumors of his corruption in the Gozoku, Doji Yasuyo has had her hands full returning the clan to its pristine state. This game would focus on politics and art, the courts of Rokugan. It would shine in small politics and perhaps a single Court (year round, or a stronghold). Characters in this game would run the gamut from courtiers to duelists, artisans to shugenja, but the primary focus for all would be finding purity and honor for the Crane.
Dragon: I have nothing for this and would prefer not to run an all Dragon campaign at this time. If you have a suggestion, I am more than willing to hear it.
Lion: A game based on a Clan of War in Peacetime. The Empire will have experienced a few decades of relative peace, but skirmishes and small battles, duels and single fights will still take place. The Lion are the Clan of War and this game would be focused around, most likely, a potential brewing war between the Lion and another faction. Characters would run a wide range of options from Ikoma Bards (courtiers) spreading rumors, sharing stories, furthering glory, to brutal Matsu, Tactical Akodo, and Canny Ikoma Scouts. Kitsu would focus on the will of the Ancestors to try and divine some honorable strategy for the future.
Mantis: Glory, Wealth, Status, and Power for the Clan would be the focus here. The Mantis are brand new and have everything to prove. They are in a relatively good state because of the actions of Matsu Tadaka, Yoritomo Kumiko, and many others, but they are still looked down upon in nearly all fields. I would want this game to possibly focus on brazen adventures for glory (like treasure hunting on islands in the Sea; forays into the destroyed and corrupted Otosan Uchi for artifacts, lore, secret wealth and power; etc.) Characters here would obviously favor combat, but courtiers and shugenja could easily focus on enhancing the glory of the Mantis in other ways. I would probably have a single Port City be the focus for this campaign.
Phoenix: Magic. Plain and simple. I’m not sure what else to look at here, but I would want a campaign based on the Phoenix to center around the kami, the spirits, and magical sources. I’m not sure I like the idea of doing this campaign, but feel free to throw out ideas.
Scorpion: Deception and tearing down others. The Scorpion are relatively weak, even after two decades, because most of their clan was destroyed in the Burning Sands and/or in the Clan War. The rest was split asunder by the Shadowed Tower and Bayushi Atsuki. So, the Clan of Loyalty must go full force into weakening others, gaining secret allies and secrets, blackmail, and authority over the other clans. Dominance of the court, or a single court (I see a single Castle or City being a focus here; not a major one like Ryoko Owari, but maybe one out of the Strongholds book or the one in the Book of Air). I would want this game to focus on the PCs all working together to garner secret information, hurt other clans physically, mentally, spiritually. Basically, the Scorpion being “Bad Guys” for the greater good of their clan. Characters would run a wide array from Actors to Ninja, Bushi and Duelists to Courtiers and Information Gathering Shugenja.
Unicorn: Gaijin forces. The Khan and the former Ujik-hai are in full force here. The Unicorn are a powerhouse militarily and the likely target for Lion aggression. Moto Chagatai, the aging Khan, has just stepped down and the new Unicorn Khan is aggressive, ready for battle, and looking for a target. However, I would want a large portion of this story to focus on the outside forces of Rokugan; the influence of gaijin forces. Characters would focus predominantly on combat styles with Shinjo, Moto, and Utaku bushi, but shugenja (travel and gaijin) would fit and Ide diplomacy and information gathering would be useful. This would probably focus on a border town near Lion or Dragon territory.
Shadowlands/Spider: Infiltration. I’m not yet sure what Imperial Dynasty I am going to have in place. I may just use Iweko as the canon story does. No matter what I choose, it is going to have some favor towards Daigotsu, but not enough to warrant real status. I want a Shadowlands Game to be dangerous. I would want all players to be playing characters that have to hide their Taint or, if not actually tainted, their affiliation with the Taint. Your job would be to find a way to credibly, outwardly “honorably” help the Spider be created. This entire game would focus on the creation of the Spider Clan and PCs would be more than welcome to play Spider Schools, Shadowlands Tainted indivdiuals, Tainted or non-Tainted Maho-Tsukai, agents of the Shadow Dragon, etc. This game would be very tense because a single misstep would get everyone “purified” out of existence.
Ronin: This would be a small-scale game for sure. I would want this game to focus on Ronin and their status in the Empire. Probably center around a small town or village or somewhat backwoods region with few other high powered samurai. Maybe a “Seven Samurai” kind of affair. Maybe a Nanashi Mura idea. Character style would be fucking everywhere, but the focus would be on “how ronin life sucks” compared to the Nobles good life.
Minor Clans/Imperial: This one is impossible to pin down. I want the option for the players to play a game comprised of all Minor clans and/or Imperial persons. Ideas are welcome.
Note: All of this is posted on the Facebook Group page with a Poll to vote. Please check it out.