Emerald Empire: Legend of the Five Rings

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    "We tell the stories of heroes to remind ourselves that we too can be great." - Doji Shizue

    Rokugan, also known as the Emerald Empire, is the greatest nation on the face of the world. Its great Clans are descendants of the gods themselves, the Imperial Family rules with the blessings of the heavens and all outside the Empire are subhuman gaijin and the taint of the Shadowlands. The bushi caste rule over the heimin peasants and the eta untouchables, all according to rigid codes of conduct and honour. Samurai are bound by the tenets of bushido in matters of honour, Akodo's treatise Leadership in matters of war and the Tao of Shinsei in religious matters. It is a world of order above and below, a terrestrial bureaucracy governed by a celestial one. All in their proper place, all going according to plan.

    In theory. In practice, Rokugan is in a constant state of conflict as the Great Clans bicker and feud amongst themselves or as Oni assail the Kaiu Wall or as necromantic bloodspeakers conspire in the dark corners. Ronin bandits and mercenaries prey on the peasants. In such times, there is much danger and much hope for glory. Each bushi might rise to be the next Emerald Champion. Each shugenja might channel the spirits to unspeakable power. Each courtier might find their way to a position of great political power. Will they use their honour to climb the ladder or will they cast it aside as dead weight?

    The year is 1175. The Destroyer War has ended, with the foul gaijin god Kali-Ma being struck down by Fu Leng, the evil god of Rokugan's pantheon. Empress Iweko I secured the aid of Fu Leng and the Dark Lord Daigotsu in the defense of Rokugan in exchange for Daigotsu's suicide and granting Daigotsu's descendants Great Clan status. Thus the Spider Clan has joined its former enemies under the banner of heavenly authority. A peace has settled over Rokugan for two years since the end of the war, but the established Great Clans are not happy at the Spider's new role.

    In this uneasy political climate, you find yourself. What are your goals, your ambitions? Do you seek to serve the Empire, your Clan or yourself? Do you value honour, ambition or power?

    Character Sheet (open)

    Name: (Family name first, then personal name; Smith John instead of John Smith)
    Clan: (If any)
    Ring: (Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Void)
    Class: Bushi (Warrior), Shugenja (spellcaster/priest), Couriter (politician, merchant etc)
    Appearance: (Pictures are okay)
    Glory: (-10 to 10)
    Status: (0-10)
    Honour: (0-10)
    School: (Basically, the skills or powers you have. Each Clan trains its members differently.)
    Equipment: (All bushi are expected to carry a short sword, but won't be expected to use it; it's a symbol of station. Any other weapon, you will be expected to be able to use.)

    The Clans (open)

    Great Clans (open)
    The Crab Clan (open)
    We Are The Wall
    Descended from the kami Hida, the Crab Clan are the guardians of Rokugan's western frontier. From atop the Kaiu Wall, they watch out over the blighted Shadowlands and do regular battle with the oni and tainted monsters that assault the Empire from without. This duty all but consumes them; their lands are all given over to fortifications or farmlands feeding said fortifications. Anything beyond their duty is frivolous and the Crab often come across as crude and humourless as a result. The other Clans often see them as unusually rude beggars, as the few non-warrior Crab venture into Rokugani politics to haggle for the other Clans to send men and resources to the Wall.

    The Crab often favour the ring of Earth; its virtues are Willpower and Stamina. Their Hida warriors are large, strong and tough, favouring heavy weapons such as the tetsubo spiked mace or a double-handed hammer to crack oni hide. Their fortifications, fashioned by the Kaiu, or some of the most impenetrable in the nation.
    Their colour is grey.
    Family Names: Hida, Hiruma, Kaiu, Yasuki, Kuni

    The Crane Clan (open)
    Be More Concerned With Good Actions Than Great Ones
    The followers of the goddess Doji formed the Crane Clan, perhaps the most politically potent Clan in all of Rokugan, commanding vast and fertile plains in the central territories. If someone is important, they probably have a Crane for a spouse, close friend or yojimbo (bodyguard). This is part of how they retain a political stranglehold, through soft power and gentle influence. It is said that the Crane are the Empress' Left Hand, ruling in peace time. They make themselves out to be the ideal samurai, impeccable in appearance and refined in taste. Other clans see them as vain and militarily weak, relying on labyrinthine social codes of conduct rather than their own strength.

    The Crane often favour the ring of Air; its virtues are Reflexes and Awareness. The Kakita duelists pioneer the quick-draw iajutsu practice that dominates the courts. The Doji family are some of the wealthiest people in all the nation, a wealth they use to forge alliances through lavish gifts and canny marriages. The Crane often bleach and dye their hair white to appear pure and in honour of an ancestral figure.
    Their colour is sky blue.
    Family Names; Kakita, Doji, Daidoji, Asahina

    The Dragon Clan (open)
    Know Yourself and You Shall Never Know Defeat
    An isolated mountain clan of eccentrics and non-traditionalists, the Dragon often lack a unifying ideology compared the other Clans and favour individual paths to enlightenment. Descended from the followers of kami Togashi, who was an enigma to even his other siblings, the Togashi "family" is in fact a monastic order of tattooed martial artists. As the Dragon control mostly infertile mountain territories, it is difficult for them to be entirely self-sufficient and they often eat goat - a practice which most of Rokugan looks down on as impure - to make up for it. Their task is to observe the Empire, to watch from on high to identify internal problems. Their unusual tactics and philosophies make them hard to predict and often the other Clans are wrong-footed when they go up against the Dragon.

    The Dragon do not favour one ring predominately. The Togashi monks practice a unique magic, channeling power through their tattoos. The Mirumoto practice a controversial two-sword fighting technique. Most notably, the Empress Iweko rose up from the Kitsuki family of the Dragon Clan to fill the gap left by the fall of the Toturi Dynasty. Many members of the Agasha family defected from the Phoenix and joined the Dragon centuries ago.
    Their colours are green and yellow.
    Family Names: Togashi, Mirumoto, Agasha, Kitsuki

    The Lion Clan (open)
    Honour, Glory, Bushido. There Is Nothing Else.

    There is no greater military power in all of Rokugan than the mighty Lion. Descended from the kami Akodo, their unifying philosophy is an unflinching devotion to the code of Bushido and honor. A Lion who shames himself beyond redemption is sent to join the Deathseekers and find redemption in death. While the Crane are the Left Hand, the Lion are said to be the Empress' Right Hand, her sword arm and her military. They command the plains between the Dragon Mountains and the World's Spine Mountains, which is fertile and feeds their massive armed forces. The premier treatise on military tactics, Leadership, was written by Akodo and is required reading for each and every Lion. A Lion is intensely proud of his heritage and will be able to recite by heart the names and deeds of their direct ancestors. Other clans see them as blustering, inflexible and warlike.

    The Lion favour the ring of Water; it's virtues are Strength and Perception. Their philosophy is a perfect strike, to bring down the enemy in one blow. The Akodo family are known as some of the greatest field commanders in the world. The Matsu family is one of the few matriarchal families in Rokugan and their beserkers are ferocious. The previous Imperial Dynasty, the Toturi, was descended from the Akodo.
    Their colours are gold and black.
    Family Names: Akodo, Matsu, Ikoma, Kitsu

    The Mantis Clan (open)
    We Are The Children of Thunder

    The mere existence of the Mantis Clan gives weight to the words of Shinsei: "Fortune favours the mortal man". Cousins to the Crab, the Mantis began when Hida Kaimetsuo, son of the Crab champion, was passed over by his father. He left and carved out a small personal kingdom in the lush Islands of Silk and Spice off of Rokugan's southern coast and gathered ronin to himself. His followers eventually became the first Minor Clan and were promoted to Great Clan status after lending their aid in the Clan War in the tenth century, merging several Minor Clans together. They are the prime naval power in the Empire, policing the coastline with ships that once upon a time were little better than ronin pirates. This fleet is also the backbone of a formidable economy, but other clans often see the Mantis as little better than money-grubbing peasants playing at nobility.

    The Mantis often favour the ring of Fire; it's virtues are Agility and Intelligence. Their warriors often do not use katanas in combat, to prevent the sea air from tarnishing the blades, and more commonly use cheaper weapons like kama sickles. They are headed up by the Yoritomo family, who serve as both bushi and courtiers.
    Their colours are green and black.
    Family Names: Yoritomo, Tsuruchi, Kitsune, Moshi

    The Phoenix Clan (open)
    Speak To The Kami And Know The World
    While most Clans have their chief family descended from a deity, the god Shiba swore to protect and serve the mortal Isawa and their descendents do the same. To this day, the spearmen of the Shiba serve as bodyguards to the Isawa, some of the most powerful shugenja in the world and the rulers of the Phoenix. Indeed, something in all Phoenix bloodlines seem unusually strong in magic and this clan has the most shugenja of any Clan. Fortunately, this power is tempered with a strong belief in the virute of peace and reason, but the Phoenix are not so naive to believe the other Clans will follow those beliefs. They rule over the north-eastern provinces, sharing a western border with their rivals in the Dragon clan and home to some of the largest libraries in the world. Others see them as powder kegs waiting to go off, to pick up the wrong tome of forbidden knowledge and discover why it was forbidden.

    The Phoenix do not particularly favour one ring, but have a strong connection to the Void. The only shugenja known to be able to commune with this mysterious and paradoxical element come from the Phoenix's brightest prodigies. While the head of the Shiba family has the rank of Phoenix Champion, the Clan is really run by the Council of Elements, five powerful shugenja who each represent one element and who are typically all members of the Isawa family. The Agasha family split during a war between the Dragon and Phoenix and members can be found in both Clans.
    Their colours are red and gold.
    Family Names: Shiba, Isawa, Asako, Agasha

    The Scorpion Clan (open)
    I Can Swim.

    Many know the tale of the frog and the scorpion, but the Scorpion tell it differently. Most say the Scorpion drowns with the frog, that it stung because it was just its nature to do so. The Scorpion Clan, descended from the masked god Bayushi, say it stung because it had fooled the frog and it could swim perfectly well. There's a reason most of the other Clans dislike the Scorpion. With the Crane as the Left and the Lion as the Right, the Scorpion can be said to be the Under Hand of the Empire. They are a necessary evil, policing the shadows and doing the dirty work needed to keep an Empire running. They are spies, liars and assassins, but never publicly acknowledge as thus or describing themselves thus and present as traditional samurai. They command a small territory but a lucrative trade in secrets and opium (both legal and illicit) A member of the Scorpion is easily noticeable by their mask; each mask is unique to the wearer and worn at all times.

    They say the mask is to hide the smile.

    The Scorpion favour the ring of Air; it's virtues are Awareness and Reflexes. Many of their schools teach dirty tricks; their bushi go for crippling wounds, their shugenja practice illusions. During the Destroyer War, the corpse of the goddess Kali-Ma fell into Scorpion Lands and created a festering pit from which demons spew. The Scorpion allied with the Crab to create a Wall around the pit.
    Their colours are red and black.
    Family Names: Bayushi, Yogo, Shosuro, Soshi

    The Unicorn Clan (open)
    We Are The Children of The Wind

    When the goddess Shinjo had a vision of a threat against Rokugan from foreign lands, she marshalled her clan to march out and face it. They were not seen for eight centuries until a strange force of barbarians on horseback arrived to reclaim their homelands. Having inherited many gaijin customs and accepted many gaijin bloodlines into their ranks in their time outside of Rokugan, they are still seen as borderline barbarians. Still, their cavalry is a ferocious martial force to be reckoned with. Paradoxically, they get on well with the Crane, who see them as a work in progress. They may never properly integrate into Rokugani culture but they have a zest for life and great compassion for the peasants under their charge.

    The Unicorn do not typically favour one ring. Still, they are respected across Rokugan for the might of their cavalry forces and the huge, foreign breeds of horse they ride. Because of their customs and the sudden acquisition of land, they have often butted heads with the other clans, leading to frequent skirmishes.
    Their colours are purple and white.
    Family Names: Horiuchi, Ide, Iuchi, Moto, Shinjo, Utaku

    The Spider Clan (open)
    All The Secrets of the World, If One Has the Courage To Look

    The most recently formed clan, the Spider were formed by Daigotsu in service of Fu Leng, the god of evil. Daigotsu recruited many ronin and used the Spider to give them a purpose and direction. At this time they were based in the Shadowlands and often used Shadowlands Taint as a source of power. During the Destroyer War, Daigotsu struck a deal with Empress Iweko I. In exchange for the Spider's assistance and Daigotsu's seppuku, Fu Leng would intervene and do battle with the gaijin god Kali-Ma, during which time both deities were killed. True to her word, Iweko has ratified the Spider as a Great Clan equal to any other. They were given the northernmost mountains to call their own territory and since have begun attempting to purge the Taint from themselves.

    The Spider favour Earth; it's virtues are Willpower and Stamina. The Spider are ambitious and secretive, eagerly embracing practices that the rest of Rokugan shuns such as blood magic. They follow Daigotsu's philosophy of Shourido, the dark mirror of Bushido.
    Their colours are black and white.
    Family Names: Daigotsu, Chuda, Goju

    Minor Clans (open)
    While the Great Clans claim connection to one of the kami, the Minor Clans owe their origins to an Imperial decree. As their names suggest, each of the Minor Clans is insignificant compared to the Great Clans in terms of wealth and power, but protected by their connection to the Imperial Family; Great Clans may not wage war against Minor Clans. Minor Clans are typically formed as a reward for a samurai's exceptional duty, but sometimes might be formed for other reasons. While the Great Clans are composed of multiple large families, the Minor Clans are generally only composed of a single samurai family.

    The Badger Clan (Family Name: Ichiro) were founded by a powerful Crab who won a wrestling contest. They live on the northern border and practice wrestling and unarmed combat.
    The Bat Clan (Family Name: Koumori) were founded in 1165 in reward for a medium who allowed a grieving Emperor Toturi III to speak with his dead sister. They live in Mantis lands and are famed spiritualists.
    The Boar Clan (Family Name: Heichi) dwelled in the Twilight Mountains near Crab lands until their territory was damaged by a rampaging Oni. Now they commonly venture out as mercenaries to raise funds for their rebuilding.
    The Dragonfly Clan (Family Name: Tonbo) were founded to prevent a war when a Phoenix married her Dragon beloved instead of the Lion she was betrothed to. Their shugenja are renowned diviners.
    The Falcon Clan (Toritaka) are bushi who excel in combating spirits; they often work with the Crab to put down malevolent youkai and oni.
    The Hare Clan (Family Names: Usagi and Ujina) tip-toe on the edge of extinction but are tasked with hunting down secret enemies to the Empire, especially bloodspeakers.
    The Monkey Clan (Family Names: Toku and Fuzake) were founded when the ronin Toku rose to become Emperor Akodo I's champion, only to reveal he was born a peasant. He offered to commit seppuku for the deceit but instead was rewarded by being given his clan, who now commonly serve as magistrates.
    The Oriole Clan (Tsi) were a family of ronin craftsmen given Minor Clan status by Emperor Hantei XXX as a reward for their dedication to the craft.
    The Ox Clan (Morito) were formed when a group of samurai cast out from the Unicorn proved themselves during the War of Spirits. They pursue a secret agenda.
    The Sparrow Clan (Suzume) were formed as a punishment when a young Crane flippantly remarked samurai would be more virtuous if they were poor. The Sparrow act as wardens over the Golden Sun Plains, some of the most fertile land in the Empire, and leave it untouched as an offering to the kami.
    The Tortoise Clan (Kasuga) were formed after the Empire's first violent encounter with gaijin and were tasked with keeping an eye with things overseas. Often they are smugglers and thugs.

    Ronin (open)
    Ronin, literally "wave men" are samurai who have no master. They might have been born ronin or were cast out due to some offense. Often, if a senior noble is executed or falls from favour, all bushi in their service are often turned into ronin. Typically, one commits seppuku to redeem the sin but others might seek out service in another clan or to prove themselves in another way.

    Clan Ronin are samurai who have been cast out from the Clan. They might have their Clan school but do not have the Clan name.
    True Ronin were born ronin and are largely self-taught in any of their skills. They may not have a Clan school and do not have a Clan name.

    Glory Status and Honour (open)
    Three things you may have noticed on the sheet are the entries Glory, Status and Honour. These three statistics are rated as numbers which can be updated over the course of play. For instance, if your character receives a promotion their Status will go up.

    Glory is the measure of how famous your character is. Think about it like this - how likely is your character's face to be recognized as theirs when they're outside of their home town? A legendary hero will have Glory 10, but a bookish shut in might have Glory 2. For instance, the Empress only has Glory 4 because most people won't recognize her face on sight outside of the palace.

    Positive Glory represents a positive reputation. You can go down to negative Glory, which represents a bad reputation. A bandit might have Glory -2 and a gaijin would have Glory -6. Glory will increase as your character performs actions that make people think well of them, while actions that make people see them badly will reduce Glory.

    Status represents your characters social rank, where you stand on the political ladder. Most petty samurai has a Status of 2 while a Clan head would have Status around 7 and, of course, the Empress has Status 10. Status will increase if your character is able to receive a promotion, increase their wealth or earn some political favour. Status would be lost if they were stripped of rank, exiled from their clan or otherwise demoted.

    Honour is kind of like your alignment, specifically how closely your character maintains to the tents of Bushido. It's not a good-or-evil scale, per se, but certainly someone with Honour 0 is going to be a nasty customer. Most samurai have Honour between 5 and 7, though different Clans put different emphasis on the ideals and might have different ranks. For instance, the Lion take Honour very seriously and would usually have it at around 7 while the Scorpion are very pragmatic and might have an Honour of 2.

    You gain or lose Honour according to how you act though it also depends on how high their Honour was to begin with. For instance, someone with Honour 7 who goes back on a promise might lose Honour, while someone with Honour 1 who cruelly betrays his friends might not see any change.

    Magic and The Five Rings (open)

    The Five Rings (open)

    There are five elements, also known as the five rings, that make up the world. In Rokugan, they believe people are made up of all five elements in different degrees and that certain people are more in line with one element over another.

    Earth is the element of stubborn matter. The associated traits with having a strong Earth ring are high levels of stamina and willpower. Not necessarily strength, though it is a common secondary trait. Those strong in the Earth are unshakable, such as the Hida who stand strong against demons on the Kaiu Wall.

    Water is the element of power and force, associated with strength and perception. Those strong in water make their mark easily upon the world and have clear heads for detail. They do not accept barriers to their goals, such as the mighty Akodo warriors and their unstoppable swords.

    Air is the element of flight and illusion, tied to awareness and reflexes. Those close to the air might be inconstant but they are fast and quick-witted. They adapt easily to change, such as the shifty Bayushi who work in the shadows.

    Fire is the element of energy and talent, associated with intelligence and agility. A person with much fire in them is dynamic and sharp. The minds of the Isawa family are always probing the lore and arcana that go into the spirits of the world.

    Void, the fifth element, is a paradox, at once the sum of all the other elements and none of them. It is considered the element of the soul, of higher cosmic mysteries and those aligned with the Void are often.. eccentric. The few who can be touched by the Void without losing something of their humanity are often the greatest of us, powerful mages or destined heroes. But it is also the most difficult element to understand and master, so few ever reach such lofty heights.

    Magic And Spirits (open)
    There are a billion little spirits that infest the world, usually aligned with an element. Most do not have the talent to see the tiny spirit of each candle-flame, let alone speak to them. But they exist and they are alive. Those born with the talent are called shugenja and receive special training in mystic arts to use that talent. A shugenja can, through the proper training and ritual, coax a candle flame into a raging inferno or cause a puddle to freeze solid. To an untrained observer, it appears that the shugenja is doing this themselves. The truth is more that the shugenja is bending the spirit to their will, demanding the flame-spirit to burn hotter or impelling the water-spirit to freeze.

    Shugenja usually can only commune with spirits from one or two different elements, so there are those who find such a pathway to power too stifling and limited. These people, unfortunately, often practice maho, blood-magic. A user of blood-magic, known as a bloodspeaker or maho-tsukai, speaks to the malevolent spirits (kansen) that also invisibly infest the world. Through similar rituals the maho-tsukai commands the kansen to perform awful deeds such as corrupting others or raising the dead. For this reason, the practice of blood magic is punishable by death. But still, there are always those tempted by easy power..

    Greater spirits are able to make themselves known directly to mortals. These include the great and menacing Oni of the Shadowlands, but sometimes might be benevolent as well. Fox-spirits, bat-spirits and all manner of strange sea-creatures are known, though most stay away from people. Some spirits have even taken human form and joined with human partners; the children of such unions are usually very talented shugenja.

    FAQs (open)
    Can I Be A Spirit?
    No, that'd be imbalanced.

    Can I Be A Half-Spirit?

    Can I Be a Shugenja Samurai Assassin Sniper Superhero Kung-fu Master Swordsman?
    No. Being a shugenja takes up so much time and training that you usually don't get around to combat training. You're not expected to fight. You get a yojimbo to protect you and do your duels for you.

    Sorry, but the downside to being a wizard is you have to spend time becoming a wizard.

    Can I Be A Ninja?
    Sure. Just don't let anyone catch you being a ninja or tell anyone that you're a ninja. And avoid orange.

    Can I Be A Gaijin?
    If you like being spat on in the street.

    [BLANK] Isn't Historically Accurate!
    That's not a question. Also, this isn't Japan. It's Rokugan. Japan-inspired, sure, but it takes a lot of stuff from Korea, Mongolia, China..

    Can I Make My Own Clan?
    Sure, just a Minor Clan though. Just post a little description of the Clan along with your profile.

    Can I Be Emperor?
    No, the Imperial Family is off-limits.
    #1 Leodiensian, Jan 10, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 10, 2015
  2. I would want to play. Anything i have to do first?

    Besides the CS of course
    #2 Lithël Aelfwine, Jan 11, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2015
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