History of the Emerald Empire

The Birth of the Universe

In the beginning, before the universe was created, there was only Nothing. The Nothing that existed before the birth of all things was aware, and at some point during its timeless existence, it realized it was alone - and thus experienced Fear. This unprecedented emotion was the first Sin, and created one third of the world. The realization of Fear also created in the Nothing a sense of loneliness and a desire for a companion. These sensations were the second Sin, Desire, and created a second third of the world. And when the Nothing realized what it had done, it experienced regret and a wish to unmake what it had mistakenly created. This was the third Sin, Regret, and it created the final portion of the world, completing it and ending the Nothing's existence.

The newly-made universe was chaotic and formless at first like an egg whose white and yolk had been intermixed. Slowly, the primal elements of creation seeped through the empty universe, and the energies pooled, with the heaviest sinking to the bottom and creating different layers of reality. Above was the Celestial Heavens, while below the moral realm was born, as were the various other spirit realms and, finally, Jigoku, the Realm of Evil.

In the wake of the Nothing came three entities whose names have never been known by any living creature, mortal or divine, since that time. When they are spoken of at all, they are simply known as the Three Gods Whose Names Cannot Be Spoken. These three gods looked upon the new realms, particularly the mortal world, and recognized that it must be given form and purpose, an act beyond their means. In order to give shape to the universe, the three gods sacrificed themselves to give birth to a single man and woman, two divine beings who could do that the three could not, and bring order to existence. Thus were born the Sun Goddess and the Moon God.

Lady Sun and Lord Moon looked down upon the moral world and were perplexed by its formlessness. Ultimately, they realized they could only give form to what existed there by giving names to all the things that could be found in the mortal realm. They entered the mortal realm and named it, and doing so, they created names for themselves; Lady Sun became Amaterasu, and Lord Moon became Onnotangu. They began to name all they found there, such as stones, trees, deer, and all other things imaginable.

As the two gods walked the mortal world, Onnotangu noticed something Amaterasu did not; a tiny scrap of the primordial darkness that had once comprised the Nothing. Intrigued and deceptive, Onnotangu chose not to name this particular bit of existence, and did not bring it to Amaterasu's attention. In doing so, he allowed the living shadow to slink away and hide itself, where it would grow powerful as the world aged, and one day threaten the existence of the universe itself. Of course, Onnotangu could not know at the time that his act would have such dire consequences.

The Fall of the Kami

With the mortal realm fully formed, Amaterasu and Onnotangu returned to the Celestial Heavens, and Lord Moon's ardor for Lady Sun grew more powerful with each passing moment until, driven by his obsessive love, he pursued the Sun across the sky, creating the cycle of day and night. Onnotangu eventually caught up with Amaterasu, and the sky was blackened during the middle of the day. It was at this time, the first eclipse, that the ten children of the Sun and Moon were conceived. Their birth did not come for some time, as the divine are not subject to the same rules as mortals, but eventually they were born: Hantei, Hida, Doji, Togashi, Akodo, Shiba, Bayushi, Shinjo, Fu Leng, and Ryoshun. Their birth was a cause for great concern for Onnotangu, not only because he knew that Amaterasu would love their children far more than she would ever love him, but also because he knew a child of both the Sun and the Moon had the potential to become more powerful than he and might attempt to usurp his position. The Moon God thus decided his children must die.

Lord Moon pursued his children throughout the Heavens, heedless of Lady Sun's pleading for him to stop. One by one, he captured each of them and swallowed them whole, while Amaterasu wept for their demise. However, despite her sorrow, Amaterasu was determined to save at least one of her children. After each child was consumed, she brought her husband a drink of drugged sake. After the ninth child was consumed and the sake drunk, Onnotangu was so stupefied that Amaterasu was able to feed him a stone in place of her last child, Hantei. Thus one child was saved, and Lord Moon fell into a deep slumber. Hantei trained with the Celestial Dragons to defeat his father, and they gave him a sword of great power. When Lord Moon awoke, he found Lady Sun and Hantei awaiting him, and son battled father. It was a terrible battle, but in the end, Hantei cut his father open, and his siblings tumbled out - all save for Ryoshun, the first consumed and the only one among them who was truly dead.

In a rage, Onnotangu lashed out and seized Fu Leng, his youngest son, determined that not all his spawn should escape. Hantei struck and severed his father's hand, and Fu Leng tumbled after his siblings. In desperation, Fu Leng reached for anything to save himself, took hold of Hantei, and pulled him down alongside him. thus, nine of the ten children of Lady Sun and Lord Moon fell from the Heavens and came to he mortal realm.

Pre-History of the Empire

The mortal perception of time is completely alien to the laws governing the Celestial Heavens, and as a result, things that seem to have taken very little time, or even that might have happened instantaneously, can allow vast lengths of time to pass in the mortal realm. After Lady Sun and Lord Moon named the world, thousands of years passed while they pursued one another and gave birth to their children. During that time, the mortal realm was not idle. Many races were born, rose to prominence, and faded into obscurity long before mankind walked the world. The lion-like Kitsu, the subterranean Zokujin, the wily Kenku, the brutish ogres, and the opportunistic trolls were but a few of the races that flourished during this time, although the conflicting accounts of their "empires" make any attempt to properly chronicle this era impossible.

Perhaps the greatest of the pre-human civilizations was that of the Naga, a race of serpent-men who shared a strange communal mind. The Naga Empire was vast, and came into conflict with a race of immortals from a distance land known as teh Ashalan, as well as with the Lying Darkness, the primordial shadow spared by Onnotangu, and the power of Jigoku, which they collectively called the Foul. eventually the Naga fell into a deep slumber, a slumber entered on the day the sun turned black as the ten Kami were conceived. The Naga went to sleep so their race might survive and emerge in the future, when they believed the Foul would again threaten all of existence.

After the Naga entered their sleep, the Nezumi came to prominence. A former food source of the Naga, the rat-like Nezumi established a far-reaching empire that somehow overcame the powerful ogre race, who were extremely few in number compared to the quick-breeding Nezumi. There is no way to know how far the Nezumi empire would eventually have spread, but its heyday was ended by the fall of the Kami, for the youngest of the Sun and Moon's children, Fu Leng, fell far from his siblings and crashed into the moral world in the center of the Nezumi capital. The devastation wrought by his fall destroyed the city, scattered the Nezumi, and created the Shadowlands, for he punched through the mortal realm into Jigoku itself.

The tears of Lady Sun and the blood of Lord Moon are what gave rise to humanity, who spread quickly across the face of the lands currently known as Rokugan. Although this should have occurred simultaneously with the fall of the Kami, it is commonly believed that at least a century passed after mankind first appeared before the Kami descended to the mortal realm. In the time humanity scattered across the land, forming many different tribes, villages, and groups. Among the most prominent was the Tribe of Isawa, named for their leader, the most powerful spell-caster known to exist in the mortal realm. It was into this environment that the Kami descended.

When the Kami arrived, they believed their brothers Fu Leng and Ryoshun were dead (incorrectly, in the case of Fu Leng), and chose not to speak of their fallen siblings out of respect for them. The children of the Sun and Moon wandered the world, interacting with mankind before returning to speak with one another. It was unanimously agreed that mankind should be protected and guided, and the only question that remained was who among the Kami should lead. Many of them believed they were best suited to rule, and ultimately a tournament was held at the site of their arrival in the mortal realm. Hida, stronged of the Kami, was defeated by the speed and skill of Shinjo, but Shinjo in turn was tricked and defeated by Bayushi. Shiba, Bayushi's twin, observed his brother's tricks and was not deceived. Doji's elegance overcame Shiba, but she in turn was defeated by the might of Akodo. Finally Hantei defeated his brother Akodo and became the first Emperor of Rokugan. Togashi, who had foreseen the outcome of the tournament, did not participate.

At their Emperor's command, the other seven Kami set forth to gather followers to their banners, and to pacify the land in the name of the Hantei. Thus the Great Clans of Rokugan were born.

  • The stalwart Hida forged the Crab Clan.
  • The delicate Lady Doji breathed life into the Crane Clan.
  • The enigmatic Togashi and his followers became the Dragon Clan.
  • The militant Akodo gathered to his banner the Lion Clan.
  • The humble Shiba created the scholarly Phoenix Clan.
  • The manipulative Bayushi crafted the Scorpion Clan in the shadows.
  • The compassionate Shinjo created the Ki-Rin Clan, later known as the Unicorn.

The History of an Empire

The Empire of Rokugan uses a dating system devised by the Isawa family, which measures time from the year of the Empire's founding. This system is known as the Isawa Calendar (IC) and is used by all Rokugani to record historical events.

First Century (1-100 IC)

+++The First War
Once the Great Clans were established, the Kami began to create a shining civilization under their rule. Unfortunately, they had little time and preparation before their work was threatened to its core. A monstrous horde of demonic oni, cackling goblins, and other Shadowlands creatures appeared from the south and began to advance, destroying everything that stood in its way. The unsuspecting Empire had never seen such powerful beasts and could do little to prevent the collapse of its defenses. The general who led the gruesome legion was an even worse surprise for the Kami. It was their fallen brother Fu Leng, who had not died as they previously believed. Instead, he had fallen through to the realm of Jigoku. The Realm of Evil had consumed him with insidious whispers, manipulating Fu Leng until he became the leader of that malignant place. Filled with hate for his former family, Fu Leng intended to topple the fledgling Empire of Rokugan.

The Great Clans marched onto the battlefield in teh first test of their mettle. Many of the Kami took the field themselves to protect their followers, yet the thought of fighting their brother troubled their hearts. Akodo, the war leader of Rokugan's forces, was a tactical genius but he could only slow down the Shadowlands assault. Hantei himself was critically wounded in battle. Slowly but surely, Rokguan was losing the war.

The Kami returned to their capital, Otossan Uchi, to decide on a course of action. At this critical moment, a strange little man entered the court uninvited and changed the course of history forever. His name was Shinsei, and he promised the Kami victory over Fu Leng's hordes if he were given permission to take seven mortal champions deep into the heart of the enemy's lands. The Kami could not believe such a thing was possible, but Shinsei won them over one by one in private conversation. His discussions with Hantei broached every topic under the sun, and Shiba recorded all the words from this meeting as a single text. This document, called the Tao of Shinsei, would later become the basis of Shintao, the official religion of Rokugan.

Shinsei's idea seemed outlandish. How could one mortal from each clan be enough to defeat the dark god Fu Leng in the heart of the Shadowlands? The Little Teacher believed the Kami could not do this, despite their great strength. "Fortune favors the mortal man," he declared, and mortals had to fight for their own realm. Shinsei finally convinced Hantei to follow his plan. the monk gathered the Seven Thunders, one from each of the Great Clans: Hida Atarasi, Doji Konishiko, Mirumoto, Matsu, Isawa, Shosuro, and Otaku. Together they traveled south through the worst of the fighting to infiltrate the enemy's lands, a desperate and perilous journey.

On what was later recorded in the history books as the Day of Thunder, the heroes of Rokugan faced Fu Leng in personal combat for the fate of the Empire and the world. The fight was brutal, and Fu Leng killed each Thunder except for Shosuro, the Scorpion. But the mortals prevailed. The Thunders sealed Fu Leng's soul into twelve magical scrolls, the Black Scrolls, and banished him from the mortal realm. Shosuro returned to Rokugan with the Black Scrolls, which Hantei entrusted to the Scorpion Clan. The Scorpion had to protect the Black Scrolls forever, lest the dark god return to wreak havoc once more.

The Dawn of the Empire

The First War, the War Against Fu Leng, was finally over, and Rokugan looked to the future. Shinjo decided the Empire needed to be aware of any other forces that could one day menace Rokugan. She did not want to see another war like the war against her fallen brother, with whom she had remained sympathetic even as she battled his terrible army. Shinjo decided she and her followers would travel outside the Empire's borders and explore the world. The Ki-Rin Clan left to the west and disappeared into the desert. They would not be seen again in Rokugan for many centuries, but they would not be forgotten. Their exploits with and against the people they met along the way would become the stuff of legend.

The first century was a time of great excitement and upheaval. Gods walked the earth next to mortal men who would one day become the samurai of the Empire. These men were not yet truly samurai, lacking a fully developed code of conduct, but they were all noble men who listened to their own sense of justice. In time, the Rokugani learned to put their trust in the Kami and their vision of the future. This trust transformed these noble warriors into samurai.

Despite the presence of the Kami, the first century was a wild and untamed period. Threats surrounded the newborn Empire, including tribes of warriors who would not bend to the rule of the Kami. these men had to be forced out of the borders of Rokugan, and did not leave without a fierce fight. Others adopted a more insidious plan to destroy Rokugan from within. These conspirators, who would become the Kolat, swore to overthrow the divine rule imposed on them, even if it took centuries.

The first century also saw dynamic changes in the land itself. Fu Leng's fall had created the Festering Pit. This profane landmark allowed the dark realm of Jigoku to extend its reach into the mortal realm, and the south completely transformed into the Shadowlands during these early years.

Finally, the first century saw the adoption of Shinsei's words into the organized religion of Shintao, and the formation of Bushido, the samurai code of honor. The first Minor Clans, the Fox and Mantis, appeared. Shugenja made great advancements into spellcraft, as they learned to speak to the kami who formed the Five Elements. this era is remembered in modern Rokugan as a mythic time when every man could easily change the course of history.

Second Century (101-200 IC)

The second hundred years of Rokugan's history were a welcome respite from the tumultuous events that had marked the birth of the Empire. During these years, the Empire built a firm foundation of laws and practices that would become honored tradition. For instance, two samurai from different clans put aside their differences to create a strong Imperial force that could regulate law and conflict between the Great Clans. The warrior Doji Hatsu and the courtier Soshi Saibankan created the outlines of both the Imperial Legions and the Emerald Magistrates. These two institutions would come to play vital roles in Rokguan's governance.

The second century also saw the decline of divine presence within the land. Many of the Kami had already perished in the late first century, including Hantei, who passed the throne to his son, Hantei Genji. Togashi, the leader of the Dragon, disappeared into the mountains, and while he remained in control of the Dragon Clan, he allowed no one to know his continued existence. Lady Doji succumbed to depression and disappeared into the sea. Bayushi vanished in search of his lost follower Shosuro, who had succumbed to the power of the Lying Darkness. This left only the aging Hida. The Kami of the Crab had no desire to meddle in politics, so the fate of the Empire was firmly in the hands of mortals.

The second century was a time of peace and production, and those who lived during this era found great pride in the newly formed samurai way. Without clear threats on the horizon, the people of Rokugan set their minds to developing their culture. Many of the traditions and archetypes of samurai life were formed during this time, especially by Hantei Genji, the "Shining Prince." The courtiers of the Great Clans founded their own traditions. The formation of the Emerald Magistrates and the Imperial Legions also established the Empire's tradition of law enforcement and political appointments.

Third Century (201-300 IC)

The last of the Kami disappeared from the world of man with little fanfare. The Kami Hida had long since abdicated his leadership of the Crab Clan to his son Osano-Wo, and played no role in Rokugan's affairs. However, his divine instincts told him something terrible had befallen his first son, the Thunder Hida Atarasi, supposedly killed on the Day of Thunder. Finally, he decided to travel into the Shadowlands to find out for himself. After a difficult journey, the Kami discovered his son, mortally wounded by Fu Leng, had been infected by the corrupting touch of the Shadowlands. The two waged a vicious battle. Hida finally destroyed the abomination that had been his on, and succumbed to his wounds shortly after. No word of this battled ever reached Rokugan, although strange and grotesque legends about it persisted in the Shadowlands for centuries.

The third century, like the one before it, was mostly calm and peaceful. The people who lived during this time were concerned with improving the quality of life for their clans, and small improvements made during this era have remained relevant ever since. The Brotherhood of Shinsei was formally organized during this time, sparking great intellectual debate among the scholars and theologians of every clan.

Fourth Century (301-400 IC)

After arguments that persisted for decades, the Yasuji family finally decided to permanently leave the Crane Clan. This event marked the first time any family had ever seceded from a Great Clan. The neighboring Crab Clan accepted the Yasuki into their ranks, and also decided to take their lands. This sparked a full-scale war between the Crane Clan and the Crab Clan, another first in Rokugan's history. The first Yasuki War, as it is now known, lasted over a decade and ended in a stalemate, with the Crane reluctantly accepting the Yasuki departure. The war spawned the Minor Clan of the Sparrow, and resulted in an Imperial Edict banning open large-scale warfare among the Great Clans.

The Gozuku Alliance did not appear until the end of the fourth century, but that even was so important it dwarfs everything else that happened in this period. The Gozuku was a secret cabal between leaders of the Crane, Phoenix, and Scorpion Clans. Doji Raigu, Shiba Gaijushiko, and Bayushi Atsuki. It was designed to usurp power from the throne. The Gozuku leaders believed the Emperor was only human, despite his noble blood, and a union of intelligent people could accomplish much more than any single ruler. The Gozuku kidnapped the heir to the throne and used that leverage to seize power from the Emperor.

The Gozuku believed they were doing the right thing, and they made many improvements to the Empire. They created better roads and increased the power and wealth each Great Clan held. Unfortunately, the changes under their rule were not all for the better. Crime, both petty and organized, dramatically increased across the land, as the people lost faith in the power of the throne.

The fourth century had begun with an era of growth and peace. Several Minor Clans formed during this time and in the Crab lands a new alliance between man and the nonhuman Nezumi was forged. However, this era of optimism slowly fell into corruption after the Gozuku took over. The end of the fourth century was marked by intrigue and conflict. It is one of the darkest points in Rokugani history, as Rokugan damaged itself without any external forces compelling the change.

Fifth Century (401-500 IC)

As the fifth century opened, the Gozuku took extreme measures to ensure their reign would endure. They executed those they suspected of being spies, including many monks from the Brotherhood of Shinsei. This brutality helped others, especially in the Lion and Dragon Clans, to recognize the darker aspects of the Gozoku and plot their end. They found their opportunity with the Emperor's daughter Hantei Yugozohime. The Lion trained her to be a wise and capable warrior, and upon the death of her father, she challenged the new Gozoku puppet Emperor to a duel and won. The combined armies of the Lion and Dragon Clans stood behind her and secured her power, and as Empress, Yugozohime quickly dismantled the Gozoku power structure.

The Rokugani faced another danger on the heels of the Gozoku threat when a strange fleet appeared on the shores near the capital city of Otosan Uchi. It was a fleet of gaijin, foreign explorers from the distant nations of Merenae and Thrane. The Rokugani were wary of the strange people, but Yugozohime gave them the chance to prove themselves, making a trade agreement with them. Unfortunately, the strangers proved untrustworthy, for just a few years later they attacked the Empire. Yugozohime died in the ensuing battle, known as the Battle of White Stag, but the Rokugani completely routed the foreign troops and ships. In the aftermath of the attack, the new Emperor, Yugozohime's son, called for a complete ban on all things gaijin. No Rokugani would ever trade with the foreigners, the Emperor proclaimed, and he also forbade the use of gaijin technology, especially the explosive substance known as gaijin pepper (gunpowder). In the aftermath of this incident, the Minor Clan of the Tortoise was founded to keep watch for future gaijin threats.

The fifth century was a turmultous era of change and war. When Yugozohime overthrew the Gozoku, she had no choice but to make sweeping changes. Her followers uncovered and executed Gozoku traitors quickly, helped by several high-profile members who repented. Imperial forces cracked down on the crime that had grown during the Gozoku era, and the people began to trust the throne once more.

The arrival of gaijin forces in Rokugan illuminated the exact problem Shinjo foresaw at the birth of the Empire. Until this event, Rokugan had no contact with those from outside its borders, and this first interaction nearly threw the whole Empire into chaos. As it was, this minor meeting resulted in a giant naval battle and the death of the Empress. The Rokugani grew deeply suspicious of foreign influences, which would create many problems centuries later with the return of Shinjo's people.

Sixth Century (501-600 IC)

The First Rise of the Bloodspeaker

The sixth century saw the rise of a new villain of grand and terrible proportions. Otomo Jama, the youngest son of the Emperor, found a secret collection of magical texts written by a Crab shugenja who had researched the effects of the Shadowlands Taint. Jama was intrigued by the power described within and began to dabble in these abilities. His research and hard work paid off by making him one of the most powerful maho-tsukai (blood sorcerers) of all time. Even worse, he learned from gaijin lands the secret of removing and hiding his own heart, making himself immortal. He adopted the name Iuchiban and gathered other depraved worshippers and power-mongers into a deadly cult called the Bloodspeakers.

At first, the Bloodspeakers stayed in hiding and spread their influence slowly across the Empire. Secret cult cells began to form in all the Great Clan lands, clandestinely worshipping the head of their cult. Iuchiban's lieutenants spread chaos through the Empire with small, nearly unrecognizable events.

One of his followers, Agasha Ryuden, traveled to the Twilight Mountains to find the blood of the First Oni. He crafted a mighty nemuranai called the Anvil of Despair, sacrificing the entire Minor Clan of the Boar to its creation. Another lieutenant, Asahina Yajinden, used the Anvil of Despair to forge a set of four incredibly powerful cursed blades, the Bloodswords. Each fed on the blood of those it killed, growing ever stronger, and each had the ability to influence its bearer, negatively amplifying his flawed emotions. Passion, Ambition, Judgement, and Revenge were sent to the leaders of four Great Clans in the hope they would misuse the power within the blades. The leaders did not suspect the treachery within the gifts and accepted them happily, dooming themselves - all except one.

The Scorpion Clan Champion, Bayushi Rikoji, realized from the start that there was something wrong with the mysterious Crane gift. He held the blade under close surveillance. His worst fears were soon realized when the other three recipients of the Bloodswords died in bizarre inexplicable tragedies. Rikoji ordered his men to find the source of the weapons, and one of his samurai traced the Bloodswords back to Iuchiban's headquarters within the Imperial capital itself.

Facing exposure and arrest, Iuchiban called on a grotesque resource to oppose the Empire's forces. The greatest heroes of the Empire were entombed within the Imperial crypts. Iuchiban raised these bodies into profane undead mockeries of what they once were. Only the courage of a bold Lion samurai enabled the forces of the Great Clans to rally and destroy Iuchiban's zombies, capturing the evil sorcerer. Iuchiban's gaijin sorcery made it impossible to actually kill him, so the people of Rokugan imprisoned him in a secret tomb designed to contain his power forever.

Unfortunately, Iuchiban did not remain imprisoned. His underling Yajinden had found the secret of jumping his spirit from body to body, and soon Iuchiban mastered this skill as well, escaping his tomb. With his earlier defeat on his mind, Iuchiban at first remained undercover, and set to work rebuilding and expanding his power base in the Bloodspeaker cult.

The people of the sixth century were ill prepared for the terrifying might of unfettered blood magic, known as maho. They knew vaguely of the power inherent in such dark magic, but it had never been used on such scale and power before Iuchiban. Yajinden's bloodswords incapacitated the leaders of three powerful Great Clans and would have done even more were it not for the caution and guidance of the Scorpion Clan Champion. Even so, the terror of facing undead soldiers nearly routed the magistrates and Imperial guards who came to arrest Iuchiban. Although the warriors of the Crab Clan were accustomed to fighting shambling corpses, other samurai were not prepared for such horrors. The thought of fighting perverted corpses ofpast heroes was especially shocking to a society that revered its ancestors. After Iuchiban's defeat, Emperor Hantei XII decreed that everyone would be cremated upon death to prevent such an atrocity from occurring again.

The Steel Chrysanthemum

A sense of horror colored the beginning of the sixth century with the rise of Iuchiban. After his defeat, the Empire endured a period of uncertainty, punctuated by a Mantis attempt to kidnap the Imperial heir and, even worse, the bizarre tyranny of the Steel Chrysanthemum.

Hantei XVI was brilliant and capable, but also a brutal tyrant and a paranoid, sadistically cruel man. His rule quickly became a reign of terror as he tortured and killed anyone he suspected of disloyalty, crushing every hint of open rebellion with military force. Over time his mental state became increasingly unstable, leading to bizarre behavior such as proclaiming Fortunes for Dung and Torture. Finally, his murder of his own mother in open court prompted the Imperial Guard to overthrow him. The true fate of the Emperor was concealed from the public at large, and most of his abuses were carefully left out of the Empire's official histories. The throne of Rokugan passed to the Steel Chrysanthemum's young son - who, fortunately, proved to be a far better ruler than his father. Nevertheless, Iuchiban and Hantei XVI offered a cautionary warning of what might happen if divine power fell into the wrong hands.

Seventh Century (601-700 IC)

What the destruction of two great threats, Iuchiban and the Steel Chrysanthemum, all of Rokugan was on edge for the next century, wondering what fate would bring next. Thankfully, the Empire enjoyed a period of respite, with no events as earth shattering as those of the previous two hundred years.

Rokugan recovered slowly from the effects of Hantei XVI's reign. To try to ensure such an event could not happen again, the Rokugani embraced the writings known as the Articles of Heaven, which adjusted many aspects of law and tradition to try to prevent future abuse. Rules were instituted to improve the treatment of the common folk, to protect hostages and prisoners, and to place some legal constraints on the use of torture. The seventh century as a whole was an era of rebuilding. The few serious threats that arose within this time were eliminated before they could grow in scale.

Organized crime did increase somewhat during this era, and the romanticized story of Yasuki Fumoki, dashing pirate, became popular among the people. The increase in criminal activities centered around the large cities on the coast, though smuggling and bandit gangs also rose inland. The reported death of Fumoki did little to stem the increase, as people enamored with his glamorized lifestyle continued to rebel against society.

Eight Century (701-800 IC)

The Attack of the Maw

After a quiet century of relative peace, Rokugan erupted in war again. This time the Empire would face a clear enemy, the Shadowlands. An Oni Lord known simply as "the Maw" gathered the largest Shadowlands army seen since the War Against Fu Leng. They appeared without warning and assaulted the Crab Lands, quickly overwhelming the clan's defenses. The Maw's army advanced relentlessly, overrunning the Hiruma lands and threatening to crush the entire Crab Clan. Finally the battered Crab armies gathered in the Hida provinces for a last-ditch effort. All looked hopeless, until a young, unknown shugenja named Kuni Osaku called forth remarkable power from within herself and raises a river into a wall of water to stand in the path of the Shadowlands army. Osaku bought the Crab precious time, and they put it to good use. For 73 days, the Crab used magic and manpower to construct a giant wall that stretched across their lands. Other clans sent aid and supplies, and the Great Carpenter Wall was finally completed with no time to spare. Osaku died, her life force consumed by her mighty spell, and the Maw's armies resumed their attack. The Wall, however, stopped them where nothing else could. The Crab crushed the Shadowlands army, slew the Maw, and forced his shattered army back to the south. Rokugan was safe once more. Thereafter, the Crab went to work expanding and lengthening the new Carpenter Wall, also known in the Empire as the Kaiu Wall, until it stretched across their entire border with the Shadowlands.

Although the Crab had prevailed, they paid a bitter price. The Kuni lands had become Tainted, and cleansing them would reduce them to a gray and lifeless wasteland. Worse yet, the Hiruma lands had been lost completely, left on the wrong side of the newly built Kaiu Wall. These losses engendered an even fiercer hatred of the Shadowlands within the Crab Clan, as well as a wary respect for their monstrous might. Over the next three centuries, countless Hiruma samurai would die in fruitless attempts to reclaim their castle and birthright.

Sadly, the other Great Clans did not learn as much as the Crab from this near-disaster. The Kaiu Wall did become very effective in stemming the Shadowlands threate, and the other Great Clans, who rarely saw it with their own eyes, came to believe the Shadowlands was always kept well under control by the strong Crab.

The Return of the Bloodspeaker

Decades after the Maw's attack, the plans of the Bloodspeaker Iuchiban were finally exposed when he made the mistake of trying to possess he body of a Dragon Clan tattooed monk. The Togashi was well trained and fortified against spiritual attack and fought off Iuchiban's influence. He quickly warned the other clans of Iuchiban's escape. The Great Clans remembered the terror Iuchiban spread across Rokugan the first time, and gathered their forces against the Bloodspeakers. Iuchiban assembled his own followers and a terrible seven-day-long battle ensured, at the end of which the clans totally destroyed Iuchiban's undead army. The Togashi monk who had first detected Iuchiban was able to capture the sorcerer within a special tattoo, sealing Iuchiban within his own body. He entered Iuchiban's tomb, sacrificing himself, and the shugenja of the Empire worked a great ritual to bind the Bloodspeaker's soul into the very stone of the prison.

It was simple for everyone to push aside petty rivalries with other Great Clans to come together against Iuchiban's threat. The Imperial Edict for cremation greatly limited the size of his new army, and the Dragon Clan monk's sacrifice limited the Bloodspeaker's actions. However, it was a strong reminder that this villain was not yet truly defeated.

Ninth Century (801-900 IC)

The Return of the Unicorn

The internal boundaries of Rokugan changed forever when the followers of Shinjo finally returned to the Emerald Empire after eight centuries of exploration. Now calling themselves the Unicorn Clan, they were unaware of the Shadowlands threat and approached their ancestral homeland from the south. The Crab Clan readied to defense against the foreigners, but the Unicorn bypassed their fortifications and rushed on into the Empire. They fought several battles against the rest of the Great Clans, most notably the Scorpion and Lion, before everyone realized the truth. The Emperor welcomed the return of Rokugan's lost brothers and sisters, and restored them to control of their original provinces.

The Return of the Unicorn immediately and dramatically changed the Empire, and they faced a difficult struggle to adapt to their new home. The Rokugani were accustomed to the balance of power that had settled after seven centuries of political and military maneuvering. The sudden appearance of the Unicorn Clan changed that, and altered many of the borders between the clans, immediately sowing the seeds of discontent with those who lost land and influence, such as the Scorpion and Lion. Even worse, the Unicorn seemed almost to be gaijin themselves, with strange foreign habits and practices. They attempted to make friends and allies among the other Great Clans, but had only limited success at first, mainly with the Crab and the Crane.

Unfortunately, the Unicorn Clan's return also birthed a new enemy for Rokugan. The Moto family daimyo, Moto Tsume, lead his army into the Shadowlands, confident that he could do what the Crab Clan could not. He paid dearly for that arrogance when he and nearly his entire force succumbed to the Taint. The vast legion of Lost which resulted came to be known as the Dark Moto. Tsume and his Dark Moto would menace the Empire time and time again for hundreds of years.

The reintegration of the Unicorn Clan into Rokugan would prove to be a long and difficult undertaking. Despite their best efforts, the Unicorn would remain outsiders for centuries to come. The ninth century was thus a time of vast change and culture clash, and the courts became both interesting and dangerous during this era.

Tenth Century (901-1000 IC)

In contrast to the time just passed, few tumultuous events occurred during the tenth century. The Rokugani continued to adjust to the arrival of the Unicorn Clan. It was a time of minor battles and skirmishes for political gain. This era is in many ways the perfect example of the "normal" Empire, when people could live without grand, epic events hanging over their heads.

Eleventh Centurty (1001-1100 IC)

Rokugan continues to thrive without any external threats menacing its borders. Various small skirmishes and battles continued to take place, some with disastrous results. Two Minor Clans, the Hare and the Fox, nearly went to war of territorial disputes. The situation worsened when Fox Clan diplomats were assassinated during negotiations. The involvement of the Crane Clan finally calmed things down from the precipice of full-scale war.

It was during the eleventh century that the Lying Darkness began to make overt maneuvers against the Empire, slowly building on the foundation it had laid with the corruption of the Scorpion Clan Thunder Shosuro during the first century. The Darkness' strange power grew slowly but remorselessly throughout this time, and it created the Ninube "family" within its ranks.

Few major or tumultuous events occurred during the eleventh century, but this was in part a prelude to far greater things, as the Empire approached the Second Day of Thunder. Thus like the century before it, the eleventh century is perfect to showcase a normal and relatively peaceful Empire.

Twelfth Century (1101-1200 IC)

The twelfth century is one of the most tumultuous periods in Rokugan's history, beginning with the gradual escalation of minor events that led up to the Clan War and the Second Day of Thunder. The Black Scrolls had been entrusted to the Scorpion Clan's care at the founding of the Empire and they had remained safe for a thousand years, but this century would see each one opened and used, heralding the return of the dark god Fu Leng. The Second Day of Thunder would call on the descendents of the Seven Thunders to face Fu Leng and defeat him once more. These events in turn would lay the groundwork for further crises that would nearly shatter the Empire during the second half of the century.

The Scorpion Clan Coup

Bayushi Shoju, Scorpion Clan Champion, foresaw the return of Fu Leng. Secret prophecies told that the last Hantei would doom the Empire and herald back the dark god's return. Shoju's heart filled with dread and he sought out ways to halt the coming catastrophe. He decided the only choice was to bring an end to the Hantei dynasty. He and his clan assaulted the capital, killed the Emperor, and attempted to seize control of Rokugan by force. This event was later known as the Scorpion Clan Coup. The Great Clans allied together to defeat the Scorpion Clan, and Shoju perished for his temerity.

Shoju had failed to kill the Emperor's son, and Hantei XXXIX took the throne in the wake of the Coup's failure. He formally disbanded the Scorpion Clan and executed many leaders of the clan as punishment for their actions. The young Emperor also vindictively disbanded the Akodo family, since their leader Akodo Toturi had failed to protect the previous Emperor from Shoju's attack. For Toturi himself the Emperor reserved the worst punishment he could imagine for a samurai. He denied Toturi the right of seppuku and forced him to become a ronin.

Yogo Junzo, daimyo of the Scorpion Clan's Yogo family, was filled with rage at the outcome of the Coup. He opened the first of several Black Scrolls to punish the Empire for Shoju's defeat. The Black Scroll spread a deadly plague known as the Wasting Disease across Rokugan, and its Taint transformed Junzo into an undead mockery of what he was. Shortly after, Junzo opened the second Black Scroll, strengthening Fu Leng's grasp on the mortal realm. The dark god immediately latched on to the weak mind and soul of the young Emperor and began to whisper in his ear.

The Clan War & Second Day of Thunder

The Elemental Masters, leaders of the Phoenix Clan, saw the looming and deadly threat of the Shadowlands. They felt they did not understand enough about the Shadowlands, and the Elemental Masters were not accustomed to lacking full information on every situation. They decided to open several Black Scrolls in their possession to gain more intimate knowledge of their foe. The Masters, arrogantly secure in their power, believed they would not be affected by the Scrolls. They were quite wrong, and soon fell under the influence of the Shadowlands Taint.

Though Akodo Toturi became ronin after his failure during the Scorpion Clan Coup, his tale continued. The Kami Togashi, appearing in public for the first time in ten centuries, counseled Toturi to continue serving the Empire. With Dragon Clan resources, Toturi assembled an army of ronin, Dragon samurai, and Unicorn samurai that would work to protect the entire Empire. The Naga, newly awakened from their slumber, also joined with the Dragon Clan to oppose the forces of the Shadowlands.

The Emperor had fallen ill from the Wasting Disease, and with no heir apparent, war soon raged across Rokugan between all the Great Clans. The Crab entered into a misguided alliance with the Shadowlands, a decision they would come to bitterly regret. The weakened Emperor succumbed to Fu Leng's power, and brought Shadowlands creatures into the heart of Rokguan to prepare for the Second Day of Thunder. Once the Rokugani finally realized the truth, they banded together in a desperate attempt to defeat the dark god. Togashi and a mysterious man called the Hooded Ronin, the descendent of Shinsei himself, assembled a new set of Seven Thunders, spiritual descendents of the original seven heroes: Hida Yakamo, Doji Hoturi, Mirumoto Hitomi, Toturi, Isawa Tadaka, Bayushi Kachiko, and Otaku Kamoko. They traveled into Otosan Uchi to confront Fu Leng in mortal combat, and while Togashi, Doji Hoturi, and Isawa Tadaka all perished, the Thunders succeeded once more in killing Fu Leng and banishing him from the mortal world. Toturi, who struck the final death-blow to the dark god's human form, ascended to the throne and became the first Emperor of the Toturi Dynasty.

The Hidden Emperor Era (The War Against the Darkness)

Toturi's first actions as Emperor were to reinstate the Scorpion Clan and elevate the Mantis Clan to the status of Great Clan, the latter a reward for their valiant service to the Empire during the Clan War. He did not reform the Akodo family, partly to avoid accusations of favoritism and partly from continuing shame over his previous failure. The Empire was safe for several years before a new crisis arose.

The Lying Darkness, having gathered power for centuries, struck at the heart of the Empire. Its minions kidnapped the Emperor and blamed the Scorpion Clan for the crime. They Scorpion were banished to the Burning Sands, where they struggle to survive for several years before managing to return to Rokugan.

The disappearance of Toturi the First sparked another series of large-scale wars and conflicts among the Great Clans. The Lying Darkness enhanced these battles, re-igniting old rivalries and feeding ancient hatreds between different factions. The rescue of Emperor Toturi did little to end these battles, since the Lying Darkness had corrupted him and his actions became erratic and destructive. Elsewhere in the Empire, the Crab Clan fought to retake the Hiruma territories from the Shadowlands, while the Kami Shinjo returned from long imprisonment in the Burning Sands to expose and purge the Kolat who had infiltrated her family in the Unicorn Clan. Otaku Kamoko, the Unicorn Thunder, helped the now-purged Unicorn to finally destroy the Dark Moto, and the rule of the clan passed from the Shinjo family to the Moto.

Higher matters were at stake than merely the Empire's internal struggles. Lord Moon, Onnotangu, held great contempt for the human race in his heart, a legacy of his bitter hatred for his own children whose bloodline had mingled with mortals. He was fueling the Lying Darkness with his own power.

The Dragon Thunder, Mirumoto Hitomi, took it upon herself to stop this threat. Using the power of several artifacts and the assistance of Togashi's soul, she challenged Lord Onnotangu to personal combat, slew him, and ascended into the Heavens as his replacement. Lady Sun, Amaterasu, was enraged by the death of her husband and left her position in the Celestial Heavens. Rokugan was engulfed in twenty-seven days of complete darkness, dramatically increasing the power of the Lying Darkness.

When Lady Amaterasu came to her senses, she was overcome with shame at her actions and committed seppuku. Hida Yakamo, the Crab Clan Thunder, was her second during the ceremony and ascended to become Lord Sun after her death.

By now, the Empire was finally awake to the threat posed by the Lying Darkness. It had made its home deep within the Shadowlands at Oblivion's Gate, an artifact of great power where ancient dead spirits could return to the mortal realm. Toturi committed seppuku to free the Imperial throne from the influence of the Darkness, and in the wake of his sacrifice the armies of the Great Clans united once more and marched into the shadowlands. The revered ancestors of the Great Clans, including Toturi himself, returned through Oblivion's Gate to help Rokugan in its hour of need. At the critical moment, their efforts weakened the Darkness, allowing the new Moon, Hitomi, to do what Onnotangu and Amaterasu had never done - give it a name. She gave it the Akodo name, limiting its power and simultaneously restoring the Lion family. The Lying Darkness was defeated, reduced to a shell of its former power. The remnant which remained behind was absorbed by the Celestial Air Dragon, preventing it from ever growing strong enough to threaten existence once more - but in the process, creating the Shadow Dragon, a sinister being who would menace Rokugan for many years to come.

In the aftermath of the War Against the Darkness, the Naga race returned to sleep once more, believing that one more challenge yet lay in their future.

The Four Winds Era

The Rokugani hoped the defeat of the Lying Darkness would finally bring about a time of peace, but it was not to be. Many of the spirits who had returned through Oblivion's Gate could not understand that their time in the mortal realm, Ningen-do, had passed. One of them was none other than Hantei XVI, the Steel Chrysanthemum. The returned Hantei gathered the spirits together and attempted a coup against Toturi. The war of the Spirits pitted man against revered ancestor in a conflict that lasted a decade. Eventually, the war ended in a truce between the Toturi Dynasty and the Steel Chrysanthemum.

Nearly a decade after the War of Spirits, Toturi the First was ambushed and killed by a new type of Shadowlands creature called an Onisu. His death sparked great debate across the Empire, for he had not formally declared an heir. Some people followed Toturi Tsudao, his eldest daughter by the Empress. Some followed Toturi Sezaru, his eldest legitimate son, a prodigy shugenja who held the powers of three Elements within him. The Lion Clan and Unicorn Clan followed Akodo Kaneka, Toturi's eldest but illegitimate son, born of an affair with a geisha. Fewest followed Hantei Naseru, the politically adept youngest son, who had taken the Hantei name as part of the truce that ended the War of Spirits. The four children came to be known as the Four Winds.

In the ensuing political infighting, the Rokugani nearly missed the appearance of a new champion of the Shadowlands, a man called Daigotsu, until he made sure they could not ignore hi. After an attack on the Wall that badly shook the Crab Clan, he assaulted Otosan Uchi itself by naval invasion and used the powerful spirit gates there to rip a hole in Meido, the Realm of Waiting. There, he freed Fu Leng's soul from a prison made by the Fortune of Death, releasing him to assault the Celestial Heavens themselves. Fu Leng sought to destroy his brothers and sisters and take his own position within the Heavens.

The Four Winds, warned of the danger to the Heavens, gathered together and attacked Daigotsu in his Shadowlands stronghold, the City of the Lost. While Tsudao, Sezaru, and Kaneka battled Daigotsu's minions, Naseru managed to undermine Daigotsu's relationship with Fu Leng, suggesting that Daigotsu held too much power and would one day challenge the dark god. Fu Leng's sudden doubt in his chosen champion shattered his great power, drawn from the worship of Daigotsu's followers, and he retreated from the Heavens. Tsudao took advantage of this moment to strike down Daigotsu's physical body at the cost of her own life. In the aftermath of the battle, neither Kaneka nor Sezaru felt themselves worthy of the throne. Nasure became Emperor of Rokugan, but took the title of Toturi III, declaring his late sister Tsudao to have been Toturi II.

Return of the Bloodspeaker

Though Daigotsu had died, his preparations allowed him to return to the mortal realms. His power was immediately challenged by the return of the dreaded sorcerer Iuchiban, who had escaped his tomb once more. Iuchiban defeated Daigotsu and forced him out of his own home, and the Bloodspeaker cult seized control of the City of the Lost. Daigotsu traveled into the Burning Sands to find the secret of Iuchiban's power.

The Empire was caught unprepared for Iuchiban's large-scale assault, as the Bloodspeakers unleashed a rain of Tainted blood over the whole of Rokugan. Unfortunately, while dealing with this open enemy, the Emperor discovered there were also hidden enemies within the Empire's borders. Bayushi Atsuki, one of the original founders of the Gozoku, had returned to Rokugan through Oblivion's Gate and resurrected that ancient conspiracy.

Ultimately, the combined powers of the Great Clans and Daigotsu ended the threat of Iuchiban, not just temporarily but for all time, as the sorcerer's hidden heart was at least unearthed. The Gozoku proved more tenacious, and the forces of Toturi the Third spent years rooting out their corruption from all parts of the Empire.

Even as Iuchiban was destroyed, Shinsei's descendent Rosoku, son of the Hooded Ronin, emerged from hiding. Rosoku believed Rokugan needed to find enlightenment once more if it was to face the challenges of this age, and he presented the Empire with a series of enigmatic riddles. The ones who solved these riddles would become known as the Keepers of the Elements, led by the Keeper of the Five Rings, Asahina Sekawa. Tragically, soon after presenting these challenges to the Empire, Rosoku was murdered by an agent of the Bloodspeakers.

The emergence of Rosoku and the Keepers sparked a wave of enlightenment and religious fervor across the Empire, much to the surprise of Emperor Toturi III. Naseru was always a very rational man and could not understand enlightenment. He wandered the land incognito, trying to understand this concept, and finally traveled into the heart of the Shadowlands to the Tomb of Seven Thunders, the resting place of the original seven heroes. Naseru sacrificed himself so that the Empire's heroes could return with the wisdom needed to protect the Empire from impending threats.

The Race for the Throne

With the death of Toturi III, another power-struggle erupted across the Empire. Sezaru's magical power drove him down the slope of madness and eventual death. Moto Chagatai the Khan of the Unicorn, attempted to seize the throne of the Empire through sheer force in an attempt to unify the Empire under one strong ruler. Kaneka died at the Battle of Toshi Ranbo, fighting his old friend Chagatai. Chagatai was ultimately unsuccessful in his attempt. Wars raged across the land and courtiers schemed to place the throne into the hands of one lord or another, until the Celestial Heavens themselves intervened.

The Heavens could no longer tolerate mankind's influence in the spirit realms. The newly created Jade Dragon challenged Lord Sun, Hida Yakamo, to personal combat and became the new Sun, while Jade's twin the Obsidian Dragon likewise defeated Hitomi to ascend to the position of the Moon. With the gods restored to rule of the Heavens, it was time to restore balance in the world of mortals. The new Sun and Moon decreed another tournament in the same place where Hantei had won the throne twelve hundred years before. The Heavens would judge the samurai most worthy to head a new dynasty on the Imperial Throne, a dynasty with the true favor of the divine. In the end, Kitsuki Iweko, the Kitsuki family daimyo, was proclaimed Empress Iweko the First.

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