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Imperial Histories III: Community Edition

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Over at Shinden Fu Leng (the spider clan forum for those of you who may not be familiar) we reached a general consensus that "hey here's the throne" was a pretty awful way to get an Onyx Empire, so one of our number started a threat discussing how he would have done it, and this in turn has spun into a number of different alternate timelines. Now i'm sure a dozen different versions of how the spider/shadowlands rise to prominence is of limited interest to most people, but Imperial Histories II was pretty popular and it had a number of fan submitted timelines so i thought, as a fun exercise, that a thread in which people posted their ideas for alternate timelines for L5R would be a good idea. 


here are my suggested Guidelines. obviously, i can't enforce any of this but i'd love for just one thread i start to stay positive and supportive. 


For Alternate Timelines

1. give it a clear name

2. start your post with a clearly stated point of departure from the existing canon

3. outline as much or as little repercussions of that change as you desire


To comment on an Alternate Timeline

1. if you just don't like the idea of it, don't bother

2. reference it by the name, rather than quoting the entire thing, so we can keep it clear, unless there is a specific passage you want to respond to.

3. lets keep it constructive, please? 


I will keep up with this thread, and keep an index in this first post of the ideas, should there be enough to merit such an effort. 



The Moto's Treachery by OneThatFishes

The Crane Shogunate by Fumi

The Civil War by Shiba Gunichi

Fulcrum of the Heavens by cielago

Obsidian Empire (continuation) by MidwayHaven

The Occupied Empire by bloodycelt

Empire of Shadows by kpsmith

The Conspiracy of Necessity by sndwurks

Onnatangu's Gambit by Shinjo Yosama

Yokatsu's Secret by Shinjo Yosama

Altered Origins by Shinjo Yosama

The Warring States of Rokugan by Yandia

An Empire Divided by Shinjo Yosama

The Eternal Empire by AtoMaki

Queen of Seven Kingdoms by Shinjo Yosama

Shiba Dynasty Rokugan by Endwaar

Era of the Dark Dragon by darthkwandoh

Edited by cielago

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The Moto's Treachery


Timeline Twist #1: In the great fight of Yodotai vs Lion and Unicorn, treachery occured within the ranks of the Unicorn clan; specifically by the Moto Family.


Timeline Twist #2: The lost Yodotai scout party did not meet the Lion, but Moto forces of the Unicorn clan instead. They offered to the Moto a vassalization alliance, to be elevated over the other Rokugani and that the Moto would be overseeing Rokugan after it would be conquered. The Moto spoke and said they would return in three days time with their answer. They returned three days later and agreed to the arrangement. No member of the Moto Family spoke to the other Unicorn families.


Timeline Twist #3: Legulus did not die this day, however he was severely injured.


Timeline Twist #4: Legulus defeated both the combined efforts of the Lion and the Unicorn clan with the assistance of the Moto Family who flanked the Lion forces from the left.

Edited by OneThatFishes

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Well, I hadn't thought of a title for mine yet, but maybe...

The Crane Shogunate

I left its specific year nebulous, but it could be inserted any time before the return of the Unicorn. Whatever's best for your campaign.

When I read the origins of the Shogun title, I thought it was odd that anyone would take seriously a ronin who suggested a reduction in the emperor's power. Sure Sun Tao was a famous tactician, but still, he was a ronin arguing with the emperor. So I came up with an alternate origin for the Shogun title. Anyway, on the setting itself...

In my alternate timeline, there was a time when the Lion Champion was aggressively expansionistic (even more than usual, I mean), and the Emperor fell ill. Then, a Matsu won the Emerald Championship. Since the Emperor was incable of leading the Imperial Legions himself, it fell to the Emerald Champion. The Unicorn hadn't returned yet and the Crab were tied down with the wall, so this left a massive military power imbalance in favor of the Lion.

To fix this, Crane courtiers began bandying around the idea of the Shogun, a new leader for the legions apart from the Emerald Champion. When the Emerald Champion learned that the Emperor was considering this idea, she realized that the Emperor didn't trust her. So she committed seppuku, resolving the crisis by allowing some other clan to succeed her post. This could be an interesting setting for a court-based campaign.

If you want to run a military-based campaign, you could change it so the Emerald Champion really was more loyal to the Lion than the Emperor. Then a proto-Clan war gets sparked when the Lion, bolstered by the Imperial Legions, attacks the Crane or Scorpion. Then, if a Shogun really gets appointed, there could be some fascinating conflicting loyalties for Imperial Legion characters, especially Lion ones.

For an extra twist, this could all take place in the Gozoku era. In this scenario, the Lion Champion's actions become more sympathetic, but the force for peace and stability will be the Gozoku factions. This would bring even more moral grey into the game, if that's your cup of tea.

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The Civil War


This is a big meandering sucker, but the biggest point of departure is that the Toturi didn't basically fail on every dynastic level, and actually held onto the throne for a time, and the birth of Daigotsu and Shahai's child moves up the timeline a bit. Tsudao killed Daigotsu and he stayed dead. However, once Toturi III (Good ol' Naseru) sent an Imperial Legion under Crab guidance to take out the City of the Lost, they found the place totally empty. So they burned it to the ground, said "job well done," and the Toturi dynasty had a few decades of peace and prosperity.


But the Lost weren't wiped out, merely hiding.


Unlike the canon plot, where the "Spider Clan" would hire bandits and then garner favor with the peasantry by slaughtering them, the Spider in this version spend a great deal of time and effort helping the Crab. Ronin warning them of approaching oni, coming to the aid of imperiled scouting parties in the Shadowlands, and just generally being nice as can be. And sure, a few of them are Tainted, but they never ask to enter the Empire, they simply wish to die well. Their predilection for luring shadowlands beasts into traps leads to many comparisons with spiders. Over time, the Ronin Brotherhood known as the Spiders of the Shadowlands earn ever more accolades from the Great Clans. The Crab offer many of them fealty- the Tainted, of course, must join the Damned, but those who have managed to avoid the Taint are allowed vastly more leeway. Many, however, declare that while they are honored, they are not Crab.


By the time of Toturi IV, the Spiders of the Shadowlands are formally declared a Minor Clan, the Spider Clan, led by the Ogumo family, tasked with assisting the Crab- where the Crab hold the Wall, the Spider strike deep into the Shadowlands. They are granted the use of Shinsei's Last Hope as their base of operations. Many of them marry into other Clans- primarily Clans like the Crab, Mantis, and Unicorn, but in practice,they end up just about everywhere.


And of course, as we all know, it's an elaborate con. The "Ogumo" keep the memory of Daigotsu alive, and the clan as a whole is passionately devoted to the worship of Fu Leng, albeit in secret. Shahai, who has been pulling the strings, has one final sacrifice to make for her fallen husband's dream- and for her son's future. She orders a now middle-aged Kanpeki to behead her, and present her head to the Empire.


For this signal service against one of the Empire's deadliest foes, the Spider are made a Great Clan. The Spider's lands remain the hellscape they oversee, of course, but their valor against the enemies of the Empire insures that their needs are seen to. And they keep spinning their webs, eventually adding the Susumu family of courtiers and the Mamushi Shugenja (some Chuda who eschew maho where others can see it).


They rattle along, fighting stuff in the Shadowlands expanding their influence, every so often offering up some treasure lost in the Shadowlands to earn political capital, making a bid for arable land within the Empire "so as not to be a burden upon others," ferreting out Kolat, that sort of thing. They also covertly feel out the leaders of the other Clans, looking for things like ambition, moral flexibility, and so forth.


And in the reign of Toturi X, they make their move- after the Emperor fumbles the response to a devastating plague in the Unicorn lands (buh-bye Horiuchi- and, in this storyline, a good twenty percent of the other Unicorn families as well), the Spider rather casually suggest to the Unicorn Champion, Moto I-Betrayu, that they can't imagine how much better he would have handled things.


They also convince their long-term allies among the Crab, and so on. In the end, a coalition of Clans consisting of the Unicorn, Crab, Spider, Phoenix (a couple of married-in Mamushi on the Elemental Council may have something to do with that...), Mantis, Badger, Ox, Bat, and Hare find themselves opposed to the Lion, Crane, Scorpion, Dragon, Sparrow (ooo,scary!), Dragonfly (even scarier!), Monkey, Oriole, Tortoise, and, of course, the Imperial Families.


Roll with it.


We've seen every Clan slapping at each other, and we've seen the United Empire stomping on things... but a more even split between twomajor alliances in open conflict? Trickier.


The punchline, of course, is that the Spider do not actually think the rebels can win a clear-cut victory- they just want everybody so exhausted and worn-out when the dust settles that their Tainted forces have a much easier time strolling in and picking up the pieces.Sure, if their allies find out they're in trouble, but since they're mostly just stoking existing tensions and playing clean, they have little to fear.

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I feel woefully lost with known L5R history that I cannot comment on this thread. Having played and followed the game's storyline (albeit many years ago), I strongly believe that there will be much to read and become immersed in.



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The Romance of The Three Empires


The Clan Wars are over. Fu Leng is dead. So are all of the Seven Thunders, almost the entire Phoenix Council of Elemental Masters, the Crane, Lion, Phoenix, Dragon, and Crab Champions...


Bit of a power vacuum, and no one claimant is secure enough to truly united the Empire behind them.


Time to get our Dynasty Warriors on!


With no Emperor to restore them, the Scorpion Clan stay gone.

With no entrenched powers in a position to stop them, the Mantis start making major inroads a lot sooner.


The Emerald Empire splits into three parts- some faultlines are familiar,others less so.


In the southeast, the Mantis under Yoritomo (one of the strongest leaders left alive) try to solidify their alliance- with mixed results. Their overtures to several Clans lead to a consolidated "Southern Empire," made up of the Mantis, the Tortoise, the Wasp, the Sparrow, the Fox, the Yasuki, and elements of the Daidoji. They also carve off a bit of the former Scorpion lands. Made up of disparate elements with hefty cultural differences, the Southern Empire's main credo seems to be preserving the integrity of the constituents- and, with the Kasuga, Yoritomo, and Yasuki all in one boat (heh) fostering the rise of a powerful class of merchants, while the Suzume and Kitsune contribute to a sense of cultural continuity with the "old" Rokugan. With a combination of respect for Koku, the hands-down best grasp of ships and the sea, and a strong current of regard for the common people and natural settings of Rokugan, the South sees the importance of samurai eroded in the name of rough meritocracy occasionally suborned by raw wealth buying influence.They are also more open to gaijin contact, and merchants (and weapons) from Thrane, Merenrae, and the Ivory Kingdoms become a relatively common sight. Between a navy able to move troops rapidly to points of contact and innovations in weapons technology, the Southern Empire punches well above its weight.


In the north, Isawa Kaede approaches the Dragon and the Unicorn with an offer- the Phoenix, though utterly ravaged by war, are not without secrets and resources of their own, in exchange for security. In addition, the Centipede have forsaken their ties to Yoritomo's Alliance in order to help their former kin among the Phoenix. In the name of preserving the spiritual traditions of Rokugan, the Northern Empire, made up of the Unicorn, the remnants of the Phoenix, the Dragon Clan,the Dragonfly, the Centipede, and, perhaps shockingly, elements of the friendlier Yobanjin tribes on the northern border. They are less materially innovative than the Southern Empire, but their mystical abilities are incredibly formidable- coupled with Unicorn cavalry tactics, Yobanjin mounts, and steely resolve. The Northern Empire stands fast, trying to assess the way the outer world is changing and how they should best respond.

The center of the former Empire is a gutted wreck... but also has great potential. With the Crab, Crane, and Lion all shorn of their most influential leaders, are slow to respond at first, and the Crane and Crab find the Yasuki jumping ship yet again, along with a subset of the Daidoji. The Akodo are still gone, and the Doji area shambles. The Central Empire arises more out of necessity than any real common cause- the Lion and Crab both heartily detest the Crane, but they simply can't afford to see them join one of the other two major power blocs-especially as Doji diplomacy can succeeded where massed armies fail. They also absorb most of the best farmland, ensuring that their population is well-fed. The Central Empire is the most like "classic" Rokugan- more militarized, perhaps, but not without a definite appreciation for culture. While less wealthy or innovative than their neighbors to the South and less mystically adept than their neighbors to the North, the Central Empire boasts brilliant martial skill,massive armies, and, thanks to the Crane and Crab, siege works which are both powerful and elegant.

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Fulcrum of the Heavens


Preface: I'm fully aware that Daigotsu is not remotely everyone's favorite character, being viewed by many as having gotten entirely too much screen time already to begin with and not needing any more. My usage of him here is, believe it or not, practical and not a spider panegyric. I set out to create a setting in which the various a sundry divine shenanigans that have plagued the setting since Diamond or so are resolved, and install an imperial line that allows for conflict among the clans and for meaningful scheming against the throne, while also allowing for a bit of stability, something the setting has desperately needed. Essentially, i wanted to reset the stage, returning the game to the "samurai drama" that people often say they want, while also maintaining the supernatural and metaphysical stuff i really enjoy about this game. If you're not into Daigotsu and the first two sentences of this setting offend you, i understand, but i really do wish you'd read on and give it a try, because i think the ends justify the means. 


Point of Departure: Daigotsu, rather than sending representatives, appears himself at the Celestial Tournament. For reasons known only to the Heavens but speculated upon for generations afterwords, he is chosen to become the Emperor of Rokugan. Daigotsu himself, in writings discovered and published by his son years later, says his elevations was for a combination of reasons: his Hantei blood, the desire to end the constant warfare between the shadowlands and the empire, a recognition of Daigotsu's (albeit dark) nobility, the siezing of an opportunity to neutralizing a longtime foe to the realm, and finally the recognition that he possessed the knowledge and resources to prevent an impending disaster. 


As the Emperor Daigotsu I, his first decree is the commissioning of a Great Clan in the honor of his patron, the Ninth Kami, Fu Leng. To this new Great Clan, the Spider, he gives a single mission: they are the last resort. when all else has failed, and dark days require dark deeds, the spider are called upon. And while they wait for those summons, the pure among them attend the Emperor as his personal guard. Shortly after his ascension, Daigotsu blesses (thus purifying) and marries Shahai. A heretofor unknown monk named Furumaro is named Voice of the Emperor. Mere days after his ascension, the new Emperor begins a MASSIVE mobilization of the armies of Rokugan, and declares that the reason the heaven's selected him is that he is the only person who can save Rokugan from a new threat: a dread goddess from the south called Kali-Ma. 
Over the next four years, The Emperor proves a commanding leader. Though his methods often horrify the clans (while he remains pure, he openly employs bloodspeakers and the lost), his charisma and unyielding dedication to the empire win him grudging respect. Furumaro on the other hand they much more openly embrace. The Voice passionately defends his lord's choices to use this weapons in this time of dread threat, but also presents a sympathetic ear to their reservations. His knowledge of the Tao humbles even the most faithful of the Phoenix, and his good humor puts even the Lion at ease. He never threatens those who question his lord's tactics, never bullies or harangues. his methods are slow seduction and friendship. 
So it is with more than mere shock they felt when, in that last battle for the fate of Rokugan on the fields before Kyuden Ashinagabachi, six of the Voice's students opened Black Scrolls and the humble, devout monk so many of the leaders of the clans had come to know and call friend transformed into the mighty dragon form of Fu Leng. His last mortal words to them were "i have enjoyed my time among you. i am surprised to find i hesitate." But he did not shirk from the task before him. He embraced the power, and threw himself upon the goddess before him, even though it was immediately apparent he was outmatched. 
Meanwhile, the Emperor Daigotsu, watched from the walls of the castle while his Brother warred against the Goddess and knew that it would not be enough. That a final act would be required. He turned to his Empress and his son and bade them farewell. He then opened the last scroll, absorbing the last of Fu Leng's power, and took his own life. At the same time, Fu Leng relinquished what was left of his powers. Daigotsu descended into Jigoku, and seized the realm, usurping the power from Kali Ma. He returned, once emperor, and now Dark Lord of Jigoku. He declares much the same arrangement as before. He cannot control the Oni, but he changes the taint. Jigoku, he says, is now in balance with the heavens. as long as his line sits upon the throne, and Fu Leng, who gave his divine life to save Rokugan, is venerated, Daigotsu will restrain Jigoku's taint. The oni will always need controlling, so the crab will still have their duty to perform, and there will still be those who take the taint, and they will go to the spider, who still have the mission Daigotsu gave them, for there are other threats in the world. 
Rokugan expands into the colonies per canon, but this time Shahai remains alive and rules as Dowager Empress, until such time as Kanpeki, rightful heir to the throne, is old enough. The spider have two mandates: in the aftermath of the war what little untainted manpower they have remaining they use to supplement the imperial military forces. The tainted ones remain in the spider holdings in the shinomen and are held in reserve for when things get truly awful and the empire needs to use every method available. they alone in the empire have no restrictions upon what they can study. the only requirement is that they be tainted, so that daigotsu can keep an eye on them. he will tolerate no sedition against his line. 
During the early days of his Reign, Daigotsu began to teach Shourido, and following his Ascension, the monks of the Spider Clan began teaching the Dark Tao and venerating the Dark Fortunes that Shahai declared her husband had created. These were... not immediately popular with everyone, not as popular as shourido at least. Fu Leng, surprisingly, thanks to his sacrifice and his time as Furumaro, earned the Dark Tao a little bit of interest but the Dark Fortunes, even with Daigotsu's blessing, were not popular. 
The Marigold War
Five years after the Destroyer War, the more traditional clans have reached their breaking point, and civil war breaks out. Traditionalist elements of many of the clans (only the unicorn and mantis remained completely loyal the Daigotsu throne. the dragon did not join the throne, but did not participate either) rise up, led by a triumvirate of the Champions of the Lion, Crab and Phoenix clans. The consecration of Dark Fortunes, on top of a former bloodspeaker on the throne, are too much. The crab and lion join for obvious reasons, and lead the other clans into war. The war is short, but catastrophic. None of the clans have recovered sufficiently from the destroyer war in a mere five years, and they underestimate the forces that the spider have been storing up on the shinomen. the empress, demonstrating that though she has been purified of her taint she has lost none of her ruthlessness, unleashes the full might of the spider against the rebellion forces and within four month the war is ended. the loses on both sides are terrible, but Shahai remains on the throne. For their rebellion, the three ringleader clans lose their champions, and are forced to submit to letting Shahai select their new ones. The other clans agree to restitution deals designed to rebuild rokugan while keeping everyone too poor to start trouble for the foreseeable future. 
Emperor Daigotsu II
Daigotsu Kanpeki undergoes his gempuku at the age of 14 and takes the name Daigotsu Herumoru. On that day he puts on a mask, in honor of his father's tradition. it is horned, but it bears the crest of the hantei on its brow between the horns. On his 24th birthday, his mother abdicates, and he becomes Daigotsu II, Onyx Emperor of Rokugan. He is known as a devout and earnest young man, who spends a great deal of time at the temple speaking to his father, praying to his uncle, but also praying to the other Kami. he gains the respect of his people through his sincere devotion to the entire pantheon of the heavens, from the brightness of tengoku to the darkness of his father's hells. He is the fulcrum upon which the new peace of Rokugan balances. The heavens have twice-blessed his line, once deep in the past, and again through his father, who now rules in Jigoku and holds that realm firmly leashed. As long as his son and his descendants sit upon the throne, that realm will not be a threat to Rokugan. 
Under Herumoru's guidance, the pure elements of the spider are rebuilt, including a courtier family, the Susumu. Though he retains use of the imperial families, the Susumu becomes his personal information gathering apparatus around the empire. Very quietly, he also builds up the tainted elements of the spider, in case the clans attempt another coup. 
The emperor himself is a shugenja quite as powerful as his parents, though he conceals it. he believes that people will fear that he will go down the corrupted path of his parents if people know that he is a shugenja, so he conceals his abilities, but privately he refines as an act of religious devotion to the kami. for his gemukku, he used a blade, which he is perfectly adept with, having trained extensively under a one of the spider clan's foremost duelist's, Shimekiri. 
Four years after he takes the throne, Shahai leaves Otosan Uchi and goes alone into the shadowlands. She returns to the Temple of the Ninth Kami, now a remote religious retreat for tainted spider. there she takes the taint, then her life, so she can return to her love. Daigotsu II announces, at the next new year, a new Dark Fortune: Shahai, Dark Fortune of Blood, further tying the throne of rokugan to jigoku, giving phoenix purist fits.
at this point, the setting gets vague, as i think there are a couple ways you can go
  1. The Second Marigold War: a time of war as the clans scheme against the young, inexperienced Emperor who is perceived to be too focused on the spiritual and not enough on the practical
  2. Time Jump to the reign of Daigotsu (or if that name is really abhorrent to you, you can say that one of his successors decided to go back to the old name, Hantei) the X or something: with Jigoku and Tengoku held in balance through the Imperial Line of Daigotsu, Rokugan experiences a time of stability. the clans heal and expand into the colonies, and grow healthy enough to begin fighting and sparring over resources, returning to a state reminiscent of the clan wars. 
  3. Threat from the Burning Sands: With Rokugan's spiritual issues settled, of course the time is ripe for an external threat, and i think an invasion from the Burning Sands is ripe for writing
Edited by cielago

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I'd like to continue with the Obsidian Empire, though.


Kanpeki rules as a "duly recognized heir" of the Hantei bloodline. With the seals of Jigoku broken and allowed to consume Rokugan, though they no longer call themselves as such, the Spider Clan become the de facto Imperial Family (the Otomo, Seppun and Miya are exiled). The ambient Taint that had lingered during the Iweko years becomes visible, and the Tainted have no choice but to accept Kanpeki's rule. Those untainted are given the choice to either fight (they lose) or have the tables turned upon them: go into exile in the Colonies as the Tainted Spider had once been.


The "1000 Years of Darkness" doesn't apply though, since those who once called themselves the Spider Clan have created a structured society that makes sure the infestation of oni isn't as much as that alternate realm. Peasants still work the fields, trade routes still function, the courts still determine next year's fashions. But everything is darker and much more sinister.


With Rokugan under an Obsidian dominion, seven families take on the traditional roles of the other Thunder Clans:


Daigotsu (Lion) - First among equals, the Daigotsu family keep a semblance of the samurai traditions alive in the Obsidian Empire, albeit in a twisted form.


Chuda (Phoenix) - With their mastery of maho, and with Shahai as their patron Fortune, the Chuda family make sure that the ritual shedding of blood is constant and replenished.


Susumu (Crane) - It becomes the responsibility of the Susumu to maintain a structured and cultured society, to define beauty and order as is fit for Rokugan's new normal.


Gyushi (Crab) - The forgers now man the emptied ramparts of the Kaiu, Khol and Scorpion walls, regulating the oni and watching for those who seek to disrupt the Hantei's dominion.


Kokujin (Dragon) - For those who serve the Kokujin, enlightenment is fraught with inevitable risk and madness. To the Kokujin themselves, their version of enlightenment is the key to more power.


Goju (Scorpion) - The faceless shadows of the Goju watch over former Scorpion lands. On the whole little has changed.


Ninube (Unicorn) - As rugged individualists, the Ninube scour the Shiotome plains for remnants of ancient civilizations.


The Dark Hantei also replaces the jeweled Champions with his own: Obsidian, Onyx and Alabaster (a creation of mine to substitute the Amethyst).


In the Second City, far from the Dark Hantei's influence, the remaining Clans have no choice but to work together to retake Rokugan, province by province if necessary. Most of the Clans also have to re-define part of their identity:


Crab - with the Wall useless, they become the innovators.

Crane - keepers of tradition and preservers of Emerald Empire culture.

Dragon - explorers and bargainers of the spirit worlds.

Lion - the Clan most decimated; now they have to look inward to find out (and perhaps re-define) what Honor means.

Phoenix - experimenters of new forms of magic and how they can be realigned with Rokugani's traditional mystic structure.

Unicorn - they once again travel the world to look for gaijin allies, no matter how unlikely they may be.

Scorpion - the other Clans believe that the Scorpion have betrayed the Emerald Empire and have bargained with the Spider Hantei to preserve who they are (especially with Ryoko Owari becoming a "safe zone" for the untainted, and with a Scorpion as Alabaster Champion), but the Scorpion secretly work to hinder the forces of Jigoku from spreading further.



The Susumu family have many of their members refuse the Spider Hantei's Taint, but since their daimyo is Shibatsu, the Emperor has to grudgingly accept their status. Perhaps it is through them that the key to retake Rokugan lies. The untainted Spider monks as well pique the interest of the other Clans, especially as they enter and exit the High House of Light in former Dragon lands.


And through this all, a generations-old prophecy circulates in the streets of the Second City: "When the last Akodo falls, so falls the last Hantei."

Edited by MidwayHaven

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Crab do not ally with the Spider.  Rebellion would be the way of the Crab!


Honestly, I can't see how any Clan or most Rokugani would be willing to ally with the Spider.


Of course, given enough alternate in one's history... I guess anything can happen. 

Edited by MaxKilljoy

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The Occupied Empire

This theme ties into more of the post-samurai period of the Meji era, and partly of the post-war Japan era.


Rokugan, unlike the rest of the world, is largely stagnant. However eventually Merenae and Thrane will develop advanced technology, and decide to re-negotiate their banishment from Rokugan. This can happen anywhere in the timeline.


​The preemptive strike.

Similar to Perry, Thrane sends a delegation of battleships to reopen Rokugan for trade. Unlike Japan this does not go over well, and the Shugenja sink the ships. Thrane and Merenae respond with a  full-scale bloody invasion. While Rokugan has shugneja and samurai. What they lack are millions of highly trained troops with rifles, and fleets of battleships with cannons.

Both thrane and merenae are shocked as Rokugani commit seppuku rather than be captured. That the Heinen even women and children attack the soldiers until killed. The fighting is brutal, The entire coastline and the Mantis Isles are torched, and everything up until the mountains is destroyed. They burn down Kitsune Mori. When they do manage to capture samurai or courtiers they are bound and gagged and shipped back to Merenae. Shugneja are killed, monks are killed, the temples burned. 


The Surrender


The Empreror surrenders, unconditionally. As per the surrender treaty, Thrane and Merenae are given Mira Tsubashi Toshi for their traders and merchants. The Emperor is also forced to renounce his divinity, and the samurai caste is abolished. This causes the sepukku of many Samurai. Those that survive return home, and surrender their Daisho. Despite the abolishment of castes, many have wealth to remain influential in the courts.


The current status quo.


The players would be characters that grow up in this new world, gaijin goods are prevelant. And to many, gaijin style of dress and language is more important than following the old customs. This is similar to the late 1800s Japan. Most of the clans are evolving into Business Conglomerates, while Yojimbo are needed they are less prestigious, and the ban on weapons makes the position more suitable to those who study marital arts.

Edited by bloodycelt

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Been reading up on World War II? :)


Hmm, what if Merenae and Thrane then went to war, with Rokugan caught in the middle? That would lead to a political situation that's very different from any other timeline, especially if different clans/provinces were dominated by different foreign powers.

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I wanted to do an "alternate Dynasty" for each of the Kami winning the first tournament; they were each going to be their own genre, and had them fleshed out to varying levels.



The most important was the Shinjo Dynasty, because she averted the first Day of Thunder entirely [because she is Usagi Tsukino on a horse]. This means the Second Day Of Thunder is double-or-nothing, and the Thunders -- aka the player characters -- have shoujo and/or shonen powers that run off of The Power Of Love and/or Hot-Blooded Fighting Spirit, fighting against cackling, maniacal villains for the fate of all mankind!

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Empire of Shadows

This setting was the basis for my campaign on Five Rings Online.

Season 1

The game begins with the aftermath of the Winter of Red Snow. After Moto Chagatai attacks the Imperial City after marching through Lion lands in the dead of winter, the canon story as we know it changes. First, Kaneka mans up when he realizes he is the last surviving heir and assumes the throne. Moto Chagatai surrenders when Kaneka declares himself to be Toturi IV which ceases the fighting around the Imperial City. This stops the canon Race for the Throne story line from ever kicking off. At this point the primary story surrounds Kaneka serving as a reluctant Emperor. His first Winter Court takes place in Toshi Ranbo and the big political debate surrounds the fate of Moto Chagatai. Toturi IV is seeking counsel which leaves four possible results on the table based on Honor and Dishonor, Heroism and Villainy.

Potential Results

1) Moto Chagatai is recognized as an honorable hero who put the Empire into conflict for the sake of uniting it under a strong leader. He is pardoned for doing what is best for the Empire.

2) Moto Chagatai is recognized as an honorable villain who took advantage of the weakened throne for his own personal gain. His actions ultimately united the Empire but he is asked to commit seppuku to atone for his sins. The Moto family and the Unicorn are weakened.

3) Moto Chagatai is recognized as a dishonorable hero. He must vacate his position as Khan and serve Toturi IV as his Shogun in recognition of his tactical genius; a punishment and reward. However, the mantle of Khan is left to his son leaving the Unicorn leadership weakened as he comes of age.

4) Moto Chagatai is recognized for his dishonorable villainy and commanded by Toturi IV to commit seppuku. The entire Moto family is shamed and the Utaku are ordered to begin leading the Unicorn where the Shinjo and Utaku have failed before.

Ultimately, the Empire pressed hard against the Unicorn and Chagatai commit seppuku and the Utaku succeeded the Moto by order of Toturi IV.

Beyond the primary political theme, the Crab and Scorpion are spiraling towards war. Bayushi Paneki's wife is murdered by a Crab duelist during musha shugyo, completely pushing the Scorpion over the brink. This is further facilitated by Shosuro Jimen manipulating Paneki who is secretly an agent of the hidden Spider threat. The Crab and Scorpion head to war the following spring.


The Dragon begin to quietly gather allies in an effort to find and capture Kokujin once and for all. The Crab and Jade Magistrates are their closest allies in this pursuit.

The Lion presses the Unicorn into a spring conflict. The Lion Clan Champion declares a blood feud over the Winter of Red Snow and announces his intent to sack Shiro Moto the following summer. The Lion aggressively fight the Unicorn in court and lead charges to accuse Chagatai of dishonor and villainy. This marks two clan conflicts occurring the following spring in the Empire.



Additionally, Moto Chagatai dispatches the White Guard into the Shadowlands to recover the Ancestral Sword of the Hiruma. This gambit ties the Crab and Unicorn together - the Crab support the Unicorn in court and the two together on the battlefield. The sword is cursed but the Kuni and Jade Magistrates begin to attempt unifying the sword.

Emerald Magistrates...

The Offices of the Jade Magistrates undergoes a monumental change. The Karo to the Jade Champion is found to be corrupt; he flees with his life after his reveal and the new Karo restructures the organization.

The 11th Imperial Legion is formed. Events are held during winter to bolster their ranks. Notably, an iaijitsu competition is held to promote a Legion Champion.

During the middle of winter a spiritual disturbance racks the Imperial City. The amount of death from the Winter of Red Snow has finally reached out between the realms. The spirits of Toshigoku are able enter Toshi Ranbo and savage the city for a time until the portals can be closed.

Winter concludes with a small army arriving outside of the city. Surprised, Toturi IV musters the city to attack the opposing force bearing spider banners. The Imperial Legions cannot mobilize quickly enough and another army arrives in time with bear banners. The Spider are crushed by the city and ronin and the leader identifies himself as Kuma. The ronin warlord identifies himself as a hunter of this new Spider threat, mandated by the tenth kami Ryoshun. The ronin are recognized for their service and awarded a ronin family name - the Kuma.

Toturi IV announces his wife is with child at the end of winter court. The throne will soon have an heir, ending concerns of succession.

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This is an idea that has bounced around inside of my head on and off for the past ten years

Onnatangu's Gambit

All events proceeded as were laid out by AEG, time jump six years into the future

Kanpeki's Daughter comes into the throne room to see her Dad, the Emperor. Once she has direct eye contact with him, her eyes glow green, and she says, "He warned you all, this is his empire, and now he comes to devour his children."

An apparition of Daigotsu appears at that moment, "We have all been duped, and now our doom is upon us. Jigoku has chosen a new Lord, or perhaps finally revealed the true master who was from the beginning. Lord Onnatangu rallies the forces of Jigoku, and of the Void to destroy us all."

Kanpeki takes in what he has just witnessed, and calls forth the Onyx Empire to rally in strength against this new threat. However his forces are beaten, decimated on the battle field by legions led by Hitomi, Kyosu no Oni, The First Oni, Akuma no Oni, and Lord Onnatangu himself who eats the corpses of those he vanquishes. All of Rokugan's landscape takes on a very nightmarish appearance. Kanpeki and his personal guard of five hundred are left hiding in the twisting tunnels that were once Beiden Pass. Slowly even those numbers begin to dwindle as they succumb to the Shadow Dragon and her children the Goju. Almost all hope is lost when Kanpeki and his most trusted advisors encounter Lady Amaterasu and her ten Children, the Kami. They unite Kanpeki's Remnant with the rebuilt Emerald Empire in the Colonies.

Then the war between Onnatangu and Amaterasu begins in earnest.

Shinjo Yosama

Edited by Shinjo Yosama

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This was a setting I ran a two year long campaign in, one which proved to be a very finely nuanced and complicated political situation without a good solution wired into it. This was originally created before the Spider Betrayal in the current storyline, and pre-supposed  that Daigotsu had kept his promise regarding the Taint.


The Conspiracy of Necessity


It is the twenty-seventh year of the reign of Iweko VII, and the Empire believes itself to be at peace. The Great Clans do not war among each other, and there are only distant rumbles of danger in the south and the north. What the Kitsu family learn, however, shakes their faith to the core. Revealed by the Kitsu family daimyo to his champion, souls of the last three generations have not reached Yomi. While the Kitsu do not know why, the truth is obvious to the old champion. He dismisses the claims, but they are heard none the less by Akodo Matashige, his son and heir. Further whispers reach the bold young man, speaking about the power held by the Champions of the Crane Clan. Doji Mariko has reigned as the Crane Clan Champion for five decades, and served as the Emerald Champion for the last four of them. Her grand daughter is the wife of the Iweko heir. She served as the nakodo to Iweko VII, marrying him to a daughter of the Kakita daimyo. The Emperor dares not move against her because she has allies, the whisper says. The last time he did, Mariko had his wife murdered.


Another Gozoku has formed, with Doji Mariko as its leader.


Akodo Matashige confronts his father over these suspicions. His silence is all the confirmation Matashige needs. Believing the Emperor himself to be held hostage by the new Gozoku and his father complicit in this, Matashige challenges his father to a duel. His father gladly accepts, and does not even draw his blade. He dies, knowing his son will follow his own course and rescue the Empire from this conspiracy. Akodo Matashige gathers his armies, and tells them something terrible is afoot. The peace in the Empire is a lie, and the truth must be known. He launches a surprise attack on the village of Tsuma, seizing the contestants and VIPs present, including Iweko Tsukune, the Emperor's daughter and youngest child. And that is when the war to restore the Iweko dynasty to power began.


What Matashige did not know, what only a small handful of loyal samurai knew was that the Iweko dynasty had ended fifty years ago.


Iweko Rosanjin was the third of six children born to Iweko IV, and he was a troubled youth. Blessed, or cursed, by the burden of Heaven, he was driven to restore the divinity that was lost with the death of the first Iweko. He believed himself worthy of becoming a god, and gathered to himself followers who saw likewise. His first victim was his youngest brother, whom Rosanjin murdered while he was still a boy. It was a hunting accident that killed his eldest sibling, a misfired arrow in the woods that struck the young man in the throat. And it was a scandal and a broken heart that led to his elder sister's shameful suicide by opium overdose. None suspected her little brother of introducing her to the dragon in the first place. With each death, Rosanjin felt his divinity grow. Rosanjin was named the heir to the Iron Throne, and his father retired in grief over the suicide of his daughter.


Upon assuming the title of Iweko V, he had his two younger siblings locked into their chambers in the Forbidden City and slowly starved. With the assistance of the Lion Clan, he had all those with Iweko blood brought before him and executed for treason. By now, the rumors of his madness had spread throughout the Empire, but the Great Clans did nothing. It took his younger brother escaping the Forbidden City through assistance of Seppun guards before the Clans would act. A band of Scorpion loyal to the Throne assassinated the escaped brother, but not before he had contacted the Great Clans. As the Great Clans gathered their armies to force Iweko V to cede the throne, he declared himself a living Fortune, and demanded the eldest daughters of each of the Great Clan daimyo.


It was the Crane Clan champion who forced the hand of the other Clans. He committed kanshi in protest over the Emperor's demands, and named his fourteen year old daughter, Doji Mariko, as his heir. The Crane Clan champion had been greatly admired throughout the Empire, and the Great Clans marched on Toshi Ranbo to rescue the remaining heir and remove Iweko V from the throne. Iweko V retreated from the capitol to the Dragon's Heart Plain, where his loyal followers had been constructing a temple to divinity. The Great Clans pursued him there, only to discover horror upon arrival.


Iweko V had sacrificed his own brother and committed suicide by poison in a ritual to open the gateway to Tengoku, but it had only ever been madness. He had ordered his followers to join him on this holy path, and in waves, they had taken poison to join him. The temple city he had build contained only the corpses of his followers, and his sole remaining acolyte, the Master of the Void, to bear witness. It was the Phoenix, the Crane, and the Scorpion who had arrived first, and who had learned the truth. Remembering the horrors of the Clan War, they swore a pact to hide the truth from the Empire. They chose a low-born Dragon boy, and named him Iweko V's younger brother. And with that, the Empire could recover.


Without a true Emperor on the throne, the souls of honorable samurai could not pass through Meido to Yomi, for none had fulfilled their kharma. Doji Mariko held the power of the conspiracy, the rock upon which it was founded and the only surviving original member. The other leaders of the conspiracy were Bayushi Rugen, the Scorpion Clan champion and Shogun, and Isawa Todowa, the Elemental Master of Air and the Voice of the Emperor. Rugen, however, was an ambitious man and without the blessing of Heaven, saw no reason not to claim the throne himself, through the daughter of the current Emperor. It was he who had enough truth whispered into the ears of Akodo Matashige to start the war. His plan is to destabilize the situation, then ally with Matashige once the war begins in earnest.


Seeing the Empire about to be at war, Isawa Todowa reaches out to the Unicorn Clan to attempt to put the Empire at peace. Moto Xhu-Tao, Champion of the Unicorn Clan, had a different plan. Aware of the conspiracy from its inception, it was his gods, the Shi-Tien Yen-Wang, whom have been holding the souls of samurai captive in Meido. Xhu-Tao, descended from Moto Naleesh, calls the Moto from the Burning Sands to him and marches on the capitol while the Ten Lords of Death march their army of yorei on Tengoku itself. In their midst? The captured soul of Fu Leng himself, forcibly being returned to Tengoku by the Shi-Tien Yen-Wang as their own means of ascension. The Moto intend to give Rokugan a new divine dynasty, descended from a reborn Kami and blessed by the Shi-Tien Yen-Wang.



The only modifications between this and the beginning of my game? The Spider were the ones who tipped off Matashige in my original version, so they could turn the Colonies into the Obsidian Empire. Also, it was the PCs, not Isawa Todowa, who reached out to the Unicorn after learning the truth of the conspiracy. My goal with the game was to present a broken Empire without a solution I had available, and then say yes to whatever the PCs came up with.


Turned out one of the PCs wanted to play the second son of the Daigotsu family daimyo, who was unTainted. The Spider PC reconnected with his Hantei ancestry, reclaimed the Ancestral Sword of the Hantei, restored the temple in Otosan Uchi, and led an Army of Thunder to defeating both Mariko and Rugen. Iweko Tsukune, whom the party had rescued in the first act, committed seppuku to balance the scales of her usurper heritage, and the Spider was named Hantei XL. He made Iweko Tsukune the fortune of Honorable Sacrifice, then committed seppuku himself to atone for the sins of Daigotsu, naming his Otomo cousin as heir and restoring Heaven's favor.


The other PCs were equally badass, and necessary in uniting the Empire behind the Spider PC.

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Yokatsu's Secret

The Kolat Purge

Twist #1. Fu Leng stops the Lying Darkness from corrupting Shinjo, however not before he had given her a gift that would ensure his long term plans would come to fruition. Shinjo's Kolat Sight was that gift, albeit tweeked to serve the lying Darkness.

Twist #2. Yokatsu did meet with a secret organization before accepting his position as Clan Champion. A Lord's Alliance committed to seeking out and exposing the Kolat. Unknown to Yokatsu this was all a ploy. His friend Akodo Kage used this alliance to find out who actually wanted to seek out his organization of spies, and assassins. This served Kage's purposes two-fold, for he was able to manipulate the Lord's Alliance to effectively double the amount of eyes, and ears he had throughout Rokugan. When Yokatsu finally did discover Kage was the Kolat Master, and his own son, Shono was Lord Blade, Yokatsu was devastated. Kage knew he had his old friend over a barrel. Yokatsu's love for his son made him unwilling to expose the Kolat at that point. Instead Yokatsu took up the mantle, and played the part of Lord Blade. Yokatsu took the secret of who the real Lord Blade was with him to the grave. He knew it was the only way to save his son, Shinjo Shono.

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Been reading up on World War II? :)


Hmm, what if Merenae and Thrane then went to war, with Rokugan caught in the middle? That would lead to a political situation that's very different from any other timeline, especially if different clans/provinces were dominated by different foreign powers.



Oooo, now I REALLY want to GM that!

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