torsdag 14 januari 2016

Rokugan Basara I: Mythic Rokugan

I'm splitting Rokugan's history into six large chunks (or "eras/ages/periods"), with a slightly more Japanese history take on the existing setting, but consciously designed to each have a different but clearly defined feel.

Zeno Clash
The first, and possibly least playable, is the
Mythic Age

Various conflicting accounts will be passed down through history. Most of these will be lies. That they are lies is largely unimportant. 

The two most important events of the era are the appearance of the sky-children and the Day of Thunder. Together they form the basis of what will one day be Rokugan.

Global changes
- The tournament for supremacy taken as fact by later scholars was, in reality, a drawn-out, large-scale military conflict.
- Though it is widely believed that the children of the Sun and Moon learned of Bharata/Shintao, it only came to Rokugan towards the end of the era, after the Day of Thunder. Shinsei, while often taken as historical fact, is almost entirely fictional.
- blades are generally straight, and the katana is not yet invented
- replace tea-ceremony with alcohol-ceremony (for lack of a better name)
- "shugenja" do not exist, but people with access to magic, known as sorcerers, do
- slings are about as common as knives and significantly more common than bows

The children of Sun and Moon are a bit more Cthulhu than Saint. They are often different from, and should not be confused with, the families they found.
We'll take them in the order they supposedly got eaten:
Bayushi is unpredictability and confidence.

He is passionate, but quiet, introverted, not one for open displays of machismo.
He combines fierce willpower and a composed demeanor with a habit of averting his gaze in a battle of stares. No one entirely understands his motives and he regularly accepts dishonour because he doesn't care about victory for its own sake.

What he does care about is people. Above all, he cares about Shosuro. There are many conflicting stories told about the exact nature of their relationship, how they met, and the age, gender, and exact appearance of Shosuro.

- is an eerily good judge of character, yet rarely if ever judgmental.
- speaks lies like a second language, and often lies for no reason other than to keep people guessing.
- has two left hands.
- can be dangerously sexy

Advancing through his army is based on Bayushi's personal impression of you rather than your achievements. Fresh recruits can advance very quickly for seemingly no reason while soldiers who would be heroes in other armies remain unpromoted.

Akodo is militarism and competition.

He is, in many ways, the opposite of Bayushi, whom he sees as effeminate, weak, and embarrassing.
He loves to compete, whether with fists or weapons, or games of strategy, as long as it is a game of skill, and he spends almost all of his waking hours either in some form of training or in the application of that training. He has little patience for anything else.

You win his respect through strength, of both body and mind. His battles with Matsu and Ikoma, which landed them top positions in his army, are legendary, and they say he invented the institution of seppuku as a way for the weak to cleanse themselves with one last act of strength.

Would probably lean more towards tiger than lion for both him and (eventually) the clan, not least because tiger skin patterns look more distinct.

Loses one eye early in the war, along with a host of other injuries, none of which slow him down.

Hida is laughing arrogance and no restraint.

A giant of a man, tall enough for an average tall person to have to climb him to reach his chin. Hida has a booming voice, a large beard, and an even larger presence. He is drunk maybe 90% of the time and composes strange, unpleasant poetry that he insists on sharing.

Carries a massive tetsubo which he brings with him everywhere and often fiddles with while talking, as one would with a pen. While always up for a fight, he will usually laugh off insults, and has a habit of patting people on the head when they're angry.

He throws himself into battle with fierce, unambiguous joy, smelling the corpses like a fine wine, laughing as his tetsubo tears through entire crowds. His closest companion is Hiruma, the scout. Quiet, patient, often acting as a sheath for Hida's excesses. They are widely believed to be lovers.

Doji is art and appearances.

Almost from the moment they're separated from their parents, Doji and Hantei throw themselves into an incestuous love affair.

- invents their system of writing
- is a skilled painter, flower arranger, potter, dancer, and musician
- is known as the most beautiful woman of her time
- has four eyes

Hantei eventually marries her off to Kakita, desperate to add the young sword-saint to his ranks, Kakita later repaying the favour by allowing Hantei to marry his and Doji's daughter, solidifying his connection to the Hantei dynasty.

Kakita is a psychopath. He is superficially charming, narcissistic, manipulative, emotionally shallow, and easily bored. He is also brilliant with a sword. He is quick, precise, and draws his straight blade faster than most post-katana masters of iaijutsu. He might have six fingers on his right hand. He never smiles with his eyes.

Shiba is curiousity and humility.

Driven by a desire to understand everything, Shiba can't help but wander, and often does so alone, incognito. He is good friends with Bayushi, whom he often visits.
His army is initially just a band of like-minded individuals, more a secret society than an army, people who owe him a debt of gratitude rather than recruits. It is only once he joins the war that it starts looking like an army.

- asks too many questions
- is fluent in several languages
- masters Doji's writing system almost as quickly as she does herself
- sometimes acts like a young man version of Yoda
- is a bit of a bleeding heart
- third eye in forehead, vertical slit

While he encounters Isawa (and his tribe of sorcerers) during his travels, their pact/promise/union does not occur until after the bulk of the war, closer to the Day of Thunder. While never friends, Shiba respect Isawa and is fascinated by his genius.

Isawa is short, lecherous, and a sorcerous prodigy. He has mastered every form of magic available in the fledgling empire, is the only Ishiken of his time, and invents spells. I mean the entire concept of spells - there are plenty of sorcerers about, but they all rely on rituals and pacts. His most defining feature is his hubris.

Shinjo is friendliness and savagery.

Intense and always in a hurry. Affable, but impatient and temperamental. Can go from best friends to stone cold executioner at the drop of a hat, and makes very public examples of her victims.

- loves horses and riding
- is visibly restless when sitting still for too long
- will visibly mourn the death of an enemy, but never hesitate nor hold back the brutality of her violence
- used to be Fu Leng's bff

Changing Otaku's name to Utako (child of song?) to put further distance between her name and the well-known contemporary meaning of otaku. Both her and Ide join close to the Day of Thunder, where Utako is destined to die. Iuchi joins not long before the Ki-rin exodus.

Shinjo's army is informal, but clearly hierarchial. Advancement is, with few exceptions, based on your affinity with horses.

Togashi is fear and madness.

He does not participate in the war. He would like you to think that he is too enlightened. Truth is, he is afraid to die. He can see the future, several futures, he has seen himself die a thousand deaths. He will not die.

After gathering a cult of sorcerers around him, they seclude themselves on a mountain where Togashi experiments with injecting his blood into his disciples, mutating their bodies and minds, driving most far beyond the edges of sanity.
After years of human suffering, and countless deaths, he finds himself able to occupy the bodies of particularly "attuned" followers, killing the host, leaving his old body to rot.

Encounters with mythic era Togashi will be about as rare as in any other era. If met, mythic Togashi gives the impression of a man who has seen too much. He is not delirious, but clearly insane.

The terms "tattooed monk" and "ise zumi" are not yet in use, yet many of Togashi's followers look much stranger and more inhuman than in any other era. There are smatterings of tattoos, but more common are grotesque mutations, signs of torture, and an almost complete dominance of enlightened madness.

Fu Leng is hate and indignation.

A tiny man in thick robes wearing a white mask, projecting a presence rivaling the most charismatic of his siblings. For the duration of the war, he lies in the shadowlands in a feverish coma, his flesh scratched and chewed by the locals.

He is ugly, but remembers a time when he was beautiful.
He is mad, but remembers a time when he was sane.
He hates his siblings for abandoning him.

By the time he enters the empire, he's already looking for revenge. That his siblings have formed a nation under Hantei makes their betrayal all the more apparent.

Bringing with him all the might of the shadowlands, along with an impressive ability to anticipate anything his siblings do, the armies of the north and south remain evenly matched until the Day of Thunder.

Hantei is politics and charisma.

Youngest of the siblings. While competent in battle, he is a much better orator than he is a fighter, and while a master of strategy in his own right, his greatest strategical gifts lie in making the right alliances, and in diverting peoples' attention.

He is a minor player at the start of the war, when the major factions are Shinjo, Hida, and Akodo. Behind the scenes, he convinces Bayushi and Shiba to support him - an argument which is not altogether difficult to make, as they both doubt their place in an empire ruled by one of the big three.
Bayushi takes it upon himself to do what Hantei cannot, since the uniter needs a spotless reputation, and never publicly declares allegiance to the Hantei dynasty until the war is all but over. His sister secures his alliance with Kakita, the genius sword-saint, who brings his entourage along. Shiba advices, and spreads the culture of Doji.

The final battle is most likely with the Akodo, at which point it is basically Akodo vs Rokugan.


If you're playing in this era, most of the Thunders could easily be players. Most difficult to replace would probably be Isawa and Shosuro.

Canon Thunders:
- Hida Atarshi (giant berserker, remains in shadowlands in undeath)
- Doji Konishiko (tea-drinking sword-saint and twin of legendary swordsmith Yasurugi)
- Mirumoto (dual-wielding heretic of the sword)
- Matsu (former bandit and Akodo's greatest warrior)
- Isawa (genius sorcerer and creator of the black scrolls)
- Utako (horseback prodigy, known to have a beautiful singing voice that she rarely uses)
- Shosuro (only survivor)

Other family-founding NPCs of the era:
- Kaiu (finest smith and builder of his age, responsible for the construction of Kyuden Hida and various advances in armour)
- Kuni (anti-social misfit sorcerer with a higher purpose)
- Yasuki (granted land and authority by Kakita in exchange for helping him marry lady Doji)
- Doji Hayaku (Daidoji family, a vassal family of the Doji)
- Agasha (alchemist - works closely with Mirumoto Yojiro following the death of his father, Mirumoto)
- Ikoma (wandering brawler, storyteller, and all-around hedonist)
- Asako (skilled healer and wife of Yogo, family supposedly later visited by a ghost, presumed to be Shiba, that teaches them the secret of the Henshin)
- Yogo (husband of Asako, later cursed by Fu Leng, joins Bayushi because he doesn't love him)
- Soshi (widely believed to be Shosuro)
- Iuchi (sorcerer with a taste for adventure)
- Ide (Utako's husband - humble and supremely adaptable)

Zhong Kui
Non-human cultures:
- Kitsu (giant, humanoid cats with flaming hair and the ability to channel the dead, initially massacred and later forced into servitude by Akodo)
- Zokujin (humanoid lizards who move through earth like it was water - enslaved by Akodo to work the mines)
- Tengu (beaked and feathered tricksters drinking in the woods, good with weapons)
- Troll (large, slow, almost asexual beings with a talent for magic)
- Goblin (miniature cavemen in the shadowlands)
- Nezumi/Ratling (humanoid rats with short memories and a distinct way of speech and thought)
- Ningyo (mermaids and mermen, said to grant immortality if you eat them)
- Naga (hivemind snake people who eat ratlings and practice strange magics unknown even to Isawa, but are probably asleep)


After the Day of Thunder:
- Shiba enters the shadowlands to save what can be saved, finds Shosuro and the scrolls, dies saving them, haunts one descendant in every generation thereafter (making them the leader of the clan)
- Doji Hayaku enters the shadowlands looking for his sister, the thunder, and comes back white-haired. Founds the Daidoji family, both it and the Kakita family becoming vassals of the Doji.
- Shinjo leaves, disgusted and disillusioned, bringing with her most of her army
- remnants of Shinjo's army stick around, their weapons and combat experience making them a more formidable threat than most "barbarians"
- the Imperial Capital is built, along with a couple of castles at key locations (like Kyuden Hida by the shadowlands)
- Hantei marries the prettiest of Doji's daughters, establishing a long tradition of Emperors finding spouses in the Doji line, and looking rather creepy in the process

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