Legends of Rokugan

We Are the Champions

One of the best parts of our campaign is the group story telling aspect.

We aren’t so much a group of players enjoying encounters devised by a single. Rather we are a group of friends that make time to come together to tell a story.

Whenever possible we should use the portions of the story told by other members to advance our own stories.

As players our characters are by far the most important characters in our story. We should try to link our new characters in some way to those characters that we played in previous campaigns and especially to those that our fellow players played earlier.

Most people who enjoy our hobby never have the opportunity to play these games with a group as intelligent and creative as we are. We should take advantage the exceptional circumstances we find for ourselves.

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A New Game of L5R

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.

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Timeline

-Tadaka brokers an alliance between the Crane and the Mantis where the Mantis will forgive the debt owed to them by the Crane and join the Yasuki War in full force in favor of the Crane. In return the Crane Champion will be married to the Mantis Champion and will support the Mantis bid to reclaim Great Clan status.

-Tadaka has been fed information from Ujina Unmei that the twin sons of O-Ushi are being hidden in a fishing village outside of Yasuki Yashiki in return for an unknown favor.

-Tadaka’s Tsunami Legion is tasked with assaulting Kyuden Hida directly after an overnight march from Earthquake Fish Bay. The attack is part of a larger plan to trap the Crab forces and cut off the supply lines to their main front against the Crane.

-The Mantis are initially quite successful even breaching the gates of Kyuden Hida. Once the Crab are able to assess the new threat their far superior leadership and the inherent danger of the bastion’s internal defenses quickly overwhelms the Tsunami Legion and forces a full retreat back to the Mantis ships with heavy casualties from the Hida cavalry.

-At the same time Daidoji Uji assaults the main Crab force and the Crane are able to force the surrender and claim the Yasuki lands by force of arms. Something which even they did not believe possible. During the fighting O-Ushi is slain and Uji is himself mortally wounded and does not survive the night.

-Tadaka meanwhile shadows the village and plans a one man assault on the meager Crab forces. After nightfall he moves quickly among the Crab’s guards using plans provided by the Kolat. Hida Yasamura has taken responsibility for protecting his sons and is unaware of the attack until the hidden guards directly outside the hetman’s house where his sons are sleeping are killed.

-Yasamura knows he is no match for Tadaka but refuses to abandon his children and is killed. The hetman’s wife is left as the children’s only guard and commits jigai in shame. Tadaka asks which boy is Kuroda and the boy immediately steps forward and demands that his brother be released. Tadaka gives his word that Kuon will make it back to the Wall alive and murders Kuroda.

-The Crane feel cheated in the deal when Tadaka holds back himself, his family, and the People’s Legion troops led by his wife. They demand to amend the agreement and the Mantis accept quite displeased with Tadaka allowing his personal vendetta to cost so many of his own elite troops. Tadaka is unapologetic and is removed from command of the Tsunami Legion.

-The alliance is determined still valid and will be cemented with marriages between high ranking samurai of both clans but not the champions.

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Blood for Blood

The bait was taken. The mass of the Crab armies had mobilized to blunt the Crane assault. Leaving precious few to defend against the Tsunami Legion upon the gates of Kyuden Hida.

Tadaka moved quickly through the shadows of the Crab fortress. He had long ago learned some measure of subtly from his late friend Atari. Skills honed in his continued failure against the Dark Lord Ujina-uo. But now there was no time to weigh the costs. Now was for action.

The Crab had taken his son. His boy, the child who had taught him the meaning of love. Simply killing the fool who had injured him at the Topaz Championship was not enough. He would feel the rage of Tadaka. And that filth who dared take his son’s name had ensured that the Crab would feel the Wrath of the Emperor so long as Tadaka drew breath.

But now, now Tadaka would show his clan the penalty for allowing one of their own to shame his lineage. Hiruma Shotaku would sleep softly tonight. And in the coming years his transgression would become clear even to that muddled simpleton.

For now he would succor himself with the death of his lord’s progeny.

The Tiger had upheld his end of the bargain. Much to Tadaka’s surprise. Tadaka made quick work to shed himself of his extraneous equipment. He could clearly see the twins in their chamber. And the were not enough guards to stop him.

The blade, Eiko-to, sang for blood. It rattled and burned under his hand. Soon, friend, soon.

Tadaka counted his breaths. One… two… three… four… NOW! In five seconds Tadaka had layed low the six guards. There was nothing left but the nursemaid.

A flash of purple and the father stood before him. He did not call out. He knew his guards could not come.

A sword pointed to Tadaka’s throat begged him. “Please.”

Tadaka moved in a flash. His massive form a blur that Yasamura could never have retarded. A broken blade spinning in the air and a father’s blood upon the ground.

Tadaka left the younger twin Kuon. They had taken one of his, and he took one of theirs. The nursemaid was given jigai. And she accepted under his word that Kuroda would not be harmed. This thing was done. Yasuki Yashiki had fallen. The Crab were no longer a factor. And blood had been paid.

And still Tadaka burned for more.

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30 Golden Rings

30 rings. The old bastard lion was wearing 30 gold rings on his right hand alone. Even in times as hard as these Tadaka was still able to send a message. Aside from his hand and the golden tsuba that adorned his no-dachi, Eiko-to, Tadaka was laden with gold and jewels which likely weighed as much as a skirmisher’s armor. The message was in no way subtle, but it was effective. “You need us. We don’t need you.”

Daidoji Uji had no doubt where the wealth had come from. For years the Mantis mercenaries under Tadaka had been paid well from the Crane coffers. In this newest conflict with the Yasuki, he had taken his charge to support the Daidoji to mean he was free to pillage and raid the Crab independently of Uji’s orders. And now he offered to sell the weaponry and supplies he had taken in his raids (much of it stolen from the Crane by the Crab in the first place) to Uji’s cause “At a deep discount, of course.”

“Tadaka-san, you know as well as anyone that we have little left to offer. We can barely outfit our own armies as it is. As you have no doubt noticed that your Tsunami Legion has been put upon to carry ever more weight in this campaign.”

Tadaka’s voice rumbled out from his golden mempo. “And you have no doubt noticed that the Mantis have little need of any more of your devastated koku.”. A stinging barb from any of a thousand courtiers. But insults were not Tadaka’s way. Backing one into a corner and hewing him apart was Tadaka’s Way.

“I do have a way you may repay your debt and all future debts to the Mantis, if you would hear it.” The price would doubtless be even more sizeable than the koku the Dojo no longer had, and no one wanted.

“I was not pleased with Hantei’s revocation of my clan’s status. If I had wanted, I could have shattered his ape champion on the floor of the Imperial Court and cleaved yet another pretend emperor from the throne. But that would have done nothing return the Mantis to their rightful state.”

“I ask that we form a formal alliance between our clans. We shall cement this alliance with the marriage of our respective champions. This will bind the military force of the Mantis and the political powers of the Crane together. Forever. We shall slaughter any who would do you harm while you recuperate from the decades of unpleasantness and you will support us in time to force the clans to recognize our legitimacy.”

" If you lead your forces in a frontal assault upon the Crab they will be forced to return in kind. That will weaken Kyuden Hida enough that will be unable to repel the 100,000 or so troops I can have at their gate in two nights. We will take Kyuden Hida, their unassailable bastion which stood strong against the full might of Jigoku just 400 years ago. They will have no option but surrender."

Uji was glad that he had also taken to wearing a full mempo in his dealings with Tadaka. It would not do for his men to see his face fall in front of one that some still considered a brutish enemy. “It is fortunate, friend, that I am unable to provide an answer. I must allow my champion and his advisers to answer. But tell me, does this order come from your champion? Or is it one of your idealistic strategies that will only succeed by you own hand?”

Tadaka’s eyes burned into Uji for a heartbeat. The air tensed with violence and the sudden smell of blood. Blood and piss.

“I will convince her.” Tadaka rose and bowed to Uji. His work done he spun on his heel and he marched out of Uji’s command tent his gilded pirates following behind.

“What have I done?” Uji spoke aloud.

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Epilogue: The Dawn of a New Empire

Epilogue: The Dawn of an Empire

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Unabridged Final Game

The information below include my unabridged notes on the game and its ending. I will write up a better epilogue later, but wanted this information out there now.

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Catch Up

This is a very unfiltered post to catch us back up on the game as it has unfolded. You will note that I have not colored this with decoration. I’m just trying to get things out in the open for the players so that we might be able to gather our wits about us when next we play:

“The primary goal of an Emerald Magistrate is to maintain civic order. In many ways, a reliable criminal is preferable to an unpredictable ‘hero.’” – Daidoji Yayoi, Emerald Champion to Hantei XI

The World At Large

  • Yoritomo Aramasu’s betrayal – while within the confines of the Imperial Palace, the Mantis Clan Champion, former Scorpion and child of Bayushi Aramoro, Yoritomo Aramasu, is assassinated. It is widely believed in Scorpion circles that Bayushi Kamnan performed the deed. It is also believed by those in the know that Yoritomo Kitao, the new Mantis Champion, was culpable in the killing. The Emperor, for his part, does not seem to mind that one of his most highly placed servants was slain right beneath his nose.
  • The Famine – takes hold across the Empire, but most noticably in the major cities (like Ryoko Owari Toshi). The higher ranks of nobility are not untouched by the pain of the common class. As the peasants starve and the eta scrounge for food, the economy of the Empire is upset, turning on its head. The fledgling wars, the stifled fields, all combine to create an environment of extreme want. Koku prices soar through the roof and even the most meager of new kimono costs before what it would take to feed an army.
  • The Water Fever – along with the plague, the Water Fever, a disease most commonly associated with overpopulation and poor hygiene, has resurfaced. Within the walls of Ryoko Owari Toshi, only the most crowded of areas suffers, but they suffer mightily. Fully 30% of the city is ill or dead because of the disease.
  • The Yasuki War engages, full swing. Kakita Noritoshi, the Kakita Dueling Academy Master and head of the Kakita family, kills Hida O-Ushi in the first major battle, but not before O-Ushi is able to find Daidoji Uji upon the battlefield and take his head.
  • The Wrath of the Kami (Volcano) – has heightened tension between the Lion, Dragon, and Phoenix to such a degree that the Emperor sent forth Shiba Aikune and the Last Wish to deal with the situation. Aikune wipes out an entire Dragon Legion with the power of the Wish and then disappears, guilt-ridden.
  • The People’s Legion – The Emperor tires of hearing of Peasant Revolts and sends out his Shogun, Hida Tsuneo, the Stone Crab, to deal with the situation. Tsuneo begins a Sherman’s March to the Sea eradicating all remnants of the peasantry associated with the Legion. In response, a major riot erupts within the walls of Otosan Uchi while both Aikune an Tsuneo are gone. The city burns and the peasantry are helped along by the arrival of the powerful Tsuno, led in secret by Daigotsu. The Forbidden City is pillaged and the Emperor is forced to flee. Currently, he resides in Kyuden Seppun, seeking to expunge his shame.

The Otomo move into Crane lands at the welcome behest of Doji Akiko.

Ryoko Owari Toshi

  • Kakita Sasuke – Sasuke’s path has become corrupted, but he is not entirely certain what catalyst is to blame. After his test of skill with Meiyoshi (Toturi Tokumi) it seems as if the woman is avoiding him at all costs. Each time they are together for any length of time, she becomes sickly and ill, as if his mere presence is sapping her strength.

Sasuke has killed numerous members of the Kensai Dueling Academy upon the streets of Ryoko Owari while trying to ferret out their leadership. Rumor has it that the young duelist is on the offensive and will see the streets drowned in duelist’s blood.

The arrival and teachings of Shiba Ren, an infamous duelist associated with the Crane Champion’s new wife, Doji Akiko, does nothing to better Sasuke’s mood. In fact, the teachings of intimidation and Kenburo’s Way (the Butcher’s Gaze) seems to worsen the young duelist’s disposition. Shiba Ren beats the Kakita on a daily basis and the day is soon to come when the Kakita has had enough.

Sasuke becomes aware of the suspicion that his Clan Champion and half-brother, Doji Ginchiyo, is being manipulated by his new wife, the Elemental Master of Water, Doji Akiko. The woman is suspected of Gozoku leanings and Sasuke fears that her power is corrupting the Crane Clan as a whole.

Slain by Doji Tanaka’s Blade (Sasuke’s Blade): Ootoro (Gov Ball); (MIrumoto) Rabban (in the streets); Bayushi Bushi (at Furuyari’s estate); Kitsuki Baragi (Gozoku Sympathizer); Gurumei (Kensai Duelist); Venku (Kensai Duelist)

  • Hiruma Shotaku – Hida Raiden continually attempts to get Shotaku to see the error of his ways, trying to embolden the young Crab away from the dark side of his habits in an attempt to lead him on the path of the hero.

During the First hunt, the Crab spends quality time with Moto Jinn-Sahn and comes to the understanding that the young Moto is not entirely what he seems. Instead of being just the front of defense for the Unicorn in the city, Jinn-Sahn intimates that he knows of an impending assault upon Ryoko Owari Toshi and that his betters (leaders of the Unicorn) are tied to a nefarious source that may also seek the PCs deaths (the Gozoku). Later, Jinn-Sahn, Miyoto, and Shotaku experience the Tsuno firsthand.

  • Mirumoto Miyoto – Miyoto combines with Shosuro Yusuko and Hiruma Shotaku to remove Otomo Oniwabanshu from his seat of power. The withdrawn Imperial has taken for the last month to doing nothing but studying the dark tapestry placed upon his wall. The scene before him is of an ever-damaged Yomi succumbing to the dangers of the Tsuno as the Returned Spirits refuse to refill its home.

Miyoto arranges for Fyomi, head of the Mantis delegation, to attempt to assassinate Furuyari, unaware that the Mantis and the Gozoku leader were allies. Instead of assassination, a false trail of bodies and deception is left behind. The Mantis disappear from the city and Miyoto is left knowing that Bayushi Atsuki, the Spider, is one step ahead.

Later, Bayushi Otado meets openly with Mirumoto Miyoto during the First Hunt. Otado, the Shark, was held as the primary candidate to become the next Governor of the city and was backed by Atsuki. Otado tells the Dragon that he has no wish to betray the Empire or the Emperor and is seeking allies against Atsuki.

  • Shosuro Yusuko – The Otomo is quietly removed and Yusuko pretends to serve in his place, meeting with the new Emerald Champion, Horiuchi Senai. The ruse works, for now.

Mirumoto Tsunake asks to meet with the young actress. “I fear I am going to lose myself, Yusuko-chan. Maintain this portion of my soul…”

  • Daidoji Hei – Assigned to the office of the Emerald Magistrate in response to the damaging assaults by members of the city. Hei has his work cut out for him, as it seems that every power group within the city is seeking to defy the Emperor, damage the Otomo, or otherwise thumb their noses at the samurai in charge.

Hei has an interaction with the Mad Prophet about a secret scroll that the Emperor does not wish the Empire to see. The Scroll details a secretive spell that would allow an individual to forcibly turn a Returned Spirit Mortal.

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The Purge

Hundreds of writs of execution signed, many of them left purposefully blank

Miyoto leads 7 guntai of the Thunder Guard in rotating shifts nearly 20 hours a day “questioning” and summarily executing suspected members of the People’s Legion

Suspects are dragged into the street and questioned by Miyoto himself. He gives one command, “Tell me what you know of the People’s Legion. Give me the names and locations of your superiors, your contacts, your safehouses, any other agents, and any additional information you may provide to alleviate this stain upon The Hantei’s Empire. My time is short, I urge you to make use of it.”

Any response except full capitulation is answered with an order of public hanging, to be carried out immediately.

Over 300 people are executed in a week. Any resistance to Miyoto troops at any point is considered an act of open war and treason. Those who fight are cut down and those who flee are pursued and either killed or captured and questioned (most often leading to execution). Few are spared. Several building are isolated and burned to the ground. Most are empty.

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Passion and Compassion

Sasuke held his cup by the rim with long fingers, twirling it in a slow circle. The sake in it swirled in a slow eddy without escaping to the floor. The room was dimly lit and the shadows vied for purchase in stakes to which they had no claim. The Kakita lounged with uncharacteristic slouch on sumptuous cushions while Kitsu Awentengu loomed over Sasuke’s katana. The sword sat on a small stand on the table between the Lion and Crane. Awentengu’s eyes had rolled back white in his head, and his voice came in ragged whispers audible only to himself. Not that Sasuke cared to hear what the shugenja muttered. He only cared about the outcome. Kakita Sasuke would have all that was due him. The respect of his family. The prestige of an Imperial position. The fear of his skill by others. The love his offers of compassion demanded. All these things and more would be his once the Kitsu awoke the story locked inside his blade. A story he would recite to any foolish enough to demand challenge from him.

Awentengu had long since finished his commune with the sword. The whispered words were not for Sasuke’s ears, but rather for the one whom he conversed with in the dark places of his mind.

“You have done well, Awentengu. Soon my descendant will share my voice as you do. You have given him the cup?”

“He drinks from theBlood Cup-Submission even now My Lord."

You have done well, servant. Your implementation of the merest secrets of my art will bring Sasuke and his Passion fully together…soon."

“…and then My Lord?”

“Then, he will come to me.”

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