Heroes of Rokugan 2: Champions of the Sapphire Throne
Start of the Campaign: Rokugan 1500
It is the year 1500 of the Imperial Calendar, the nineteenth year of the reign of Toturi XII, the Joyous Prince, sometimes also called the Sapphire Emperor (due to his Scorpion bride). After the chaotic early decades of the Toturi dynasty, the Empire has in recent years enjoyed an age of stability and relative peace. The threat from the Shadowlands has faded, the Gozoku are a scandalous rumor expunged from the Imperial histories, the ruins of Otosan Uchi have been cleansed, and the terrible trials and struggles of the Four Winds are a tale fading into the mists of the past. In the last three decades, even the “normal” wars which are a part of Rokugan’s history have stopped under relentless diplomatic pressure from Miya Shikan, the Imperial Herald.
But all such golden ages are destined to end…
97 years ago – The last ruler of the City of the Lost perishes in an assault on the Hiruma lands. Thereafter, the Shadowlands and the Lost collapse into disunited squabbling and cease to offer a major threat to the Empire.
78 years ago – The gaijin known as the Thrane return from over the seas, offering apologies and recompense for the deeds of their honorless ancestor Garen Hawkthorne. After much debate, the Emperor agrees to allow the Thrane to resume limited trade with Rokugan, restricting them to a single port in the ruins of Otosan Uchi and placing them under the supervision of the Tortoise and Tiger Clans. An ambassador from the pale-faced gaijin joins the representatives of the Senpet and the Ivory Kingdoms in the Imperial Court.
55 years ago – Toturi XI ascends to the throne.
46 years ago – The War of Bleeding Flowers, the most recent major war in the Empire. The Lion Clan attacks Shiro Kyotei in long-delayed vengeance for the deeds of Tsume Retsu in the tenth century. The castle is razed to the ground, the Tsume family put to the sword, and the Lion annex the Kintani Valley. The Dragon Clan, outraged by the Lions’ ferocity, intervenes in the war, but does poorly: much of its border territory is overrun by the Lion, and the Dragonfly Clan is savaged and loses over half its lands. The war is finally ended by the threat of intervention by both the Unicorn and the Phoenix Clans. After the war, the Lion declare the Tsume family disbanded. The handful of survivors, now ronin, continue to claim the Tsume name.
45 years ago – The Dragonfly Clan is unable to recover from the devastation of the War of Bleeding Flowers. It is absorbed into the Dragon Clan as the Tonbo family.
35 years ago – Togashi Imasu is named as the new Champion of the Dragon Clan. He proves to be unusually distant and contemplative, even by the standards of the Dragon, and his Clan is left largely rudderless. Within a few months, the Togashi “family” of tattooed monks fissures, and the Hoshi and Hitomi re-emerge as independent family names.
32 years ago – A plague scourges the northern Empire, taking the lives of many, including the Crane Clan Champion. His widow, Doji Koneko, rules the Clan as regent for many years before their infant son, Doji Sarutomo, finally comes of age.
29 years ago – The Hare Clan’s main castle is attacked by a pack of maho-tsukai, apparently a splinter remnant of the Bloodspeaker Cult intent on destroying the Clan which specializes in the hunting of maho. The attack is defeated, but the Hare Clan suffers serious damage as a result.
24 years ago – Miya Shikan is appointed Miya Family daimyo and Imperial Herald. A man obsessed with the need for peace and harmony in the Empire, he embarks on a relentless campaign of peace-making and diplomacy. No wars between the Clans are fought after this time.
23 years ago – The Phoenix Clan agrees to help rebuild the Hare, donating money and brides to the cause. Relations between the two Clans improve greatly as a result.
22 years ago – In a move which shocks the courts, Crown Prince Toturi Kenji marries Shosuro Amika, niece to the Shosuro family daimyo. The Scorpion Clan swiftly moves to capitalize on this victory in the courts, beginning a rapid climb to the top of Rokugan’s political hill.
20 years ago – The lady Amika gives birth to twin boys, the first of nine living children she will bear to Toturi Kenji.
19 years ago – Toturi XI retires and departs on a quest to seek the Shrine of Shinsei. Toturi Kenji ascends to the throne as Toturi XII. With his Scorpion bride now Empress, the Scorpion Clan’s fortunes rise even faster.
13 years ago – Kakita Saburashi, daimyo of the Kakita family and master sensei of the Dueling Academy, faces and defeats Mirumoto Jinzaki, the Mirumoto family daimyo, in a formal challenge. The duel is widely regarded as the most magnificent fight in generations.
10 years ago – Kakita Saburashi wins the Tournament of the Emerald Champion but refuses to accept the appointment, saying that he does not consider his performance worthy of the office. He offers his seppuku (which the Emperor refuses) and then returns to the Kakita Dueling Academy to continue training. After considering for a few months, the Emperor decides to ignore the tournament results and appoints Matsu Hoketsaku, leader of the Lion Clan, as Emerald Champion.
7 years ago – The Empress dies in childbirth, bearing the last of Toturi XII’s children, Chisa. In honor of his late wife, the Emperor orders that the Imperial throne be inlaid with nine hundred sapphires (one hundred for each child she gave him), earning him the title “the Sapphire Prince.”
6 years ago – Toturi Hisako, third daughter of Toturi XII, announces her intention of training with the Scorpion to honor her late mother. This violates a previous agreement for her to be fostered to the Mantis Clan, and the Mantis threaten war against the Scorpion. Miya Shikan succeeds in negotiating a peace settlement, arranging an extensive exchange of hostages and child-fosterings between the two Clans, and arranging for Hisako’s younger brother Toturi Hizatoru to train with the Mantis Clan. (Game effect: Mantis and Scorpion can take “Different School” with each other for 1 less point.)
1 year ago – The Emperor and part of his court attend the Topaz Championship in Crane lands. While there, Matsu Hoketsaku is murdered by a Tsume ronin. His young son Matsu Nimoro is named Lion Clan Champion. (As seen in “Tournament of the Topaz Champion.”)
The Imperial City in 1500
CURRENT (Spring 1502) RELATIVE POWER of the CLANS, strongest to weakest
MILITARY: Lion, Crab, Unicorn, Dragon, Crane, Mantis, Scorpion, Phoenix, Minor Clans. The Crab would actually exceed the Lion if they did not have to guard the Wall, and their prestige has been increased by their recent victory in the Hare war. The unusually high standing of the Dragon and Crane is due to their efforts to build up after their defeat in the War of Bleeding Flowers. Likewise, the Mantis would rank higher if they were not so dependent on sea power. The perceived strength of the Scorpion has dropped due to their defeat in the Hare war.
POLITICAL: Scorpion, Crane, Lion, Phoenix, Unicorn, Dragon, Mantis, Crab, Minor Clans. The Scorpion have spent a generation exploiting the Emperor’s marriage to one of their own (although that is beginning to fade) and their success at winning so many allies to their side in the Hare war has re-enhanced their prestige. The Crane ranked much lower two decades ago, and were working hard to rebuild their political influence, but their violation of the Crab non-aggression pact has set back their efforts. The Lion have benefited from their previous daimyo’s appointment as Emerald Champion, and also from the military gains made in the War of Bleeding Flowers, and are trying to hold on to their position now. Until recently, the Dragon and Phoenix both ranked near the bottom, due to the Dragon Clan Champion’s failure to provide leadership (allowing the Clan’s different families to each pursue their own policies without coordination) and the Phoenix Clan’s obsession with the seemingly non-existant Bloodspeakers — however, the recent victory of Kitsuki Jiro in the Emerald Tournament, and the marriage of a Dragon maiden to the Crane Clan Champion, has brought the Dragon up in the ranks, while the Phoenix have prospered politically from their alliance to the Lion. The Unicorn, meanwhile, have recently vaulted higher in the rankings due to their unexpected victory in marrying a Unicorn to the Otomo family daimyo.
ECONOMIC: Mantis, Crane, Unicorn, Crab, Lion, Scorpion, Tiger/Tortoise, Dragon, Phoenix, other Minor Clans. Until recently, the Mantis, Unicorn, and the Tiger/Tortoise alliance each controlled one-third of the lucrative gaijin trade. However, the Mantis have now taken control of much of the Thrane trade from the Tortoise, and have also made a new commercial treaty with the Crab. The Crane and Lion rely on more “traditional” wealth; the Lion rank unusually high because they have had two full generations to exploit their conquests in the War of Bleeding Flowers. The Scorpion should actually rank much higher, but much of their income goes unreported to the Imperial tax-collectors.