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Tetsuhiko

The Web of Fate: Alternate Realities

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This is a thought experiment. In old L5R, the best supplements in my humble opinion were the Imperial Histories books. Not only were they detailing historical periods of Rokugan, but they also provided alternative histories, the most commonly known being the Thousand Years of Darkness. I'm a big fan of alternate histories. I've already done 20 Emperors, which was basically 20 versions of the Rokugan of AEG, and now I realize I already have material to create new alternate realities for the FFG version. The idea is to take every story choice (two so far), and create a divergent storyline from that point forward, with the goal of ending up with a radically different world. It isn't perfect, since we currently don't know what kind of events will transpire in the future. As such, these realities may not account for them. It's still fun to do.

 

I'm hoping to add new alternate settings as more story choices are made, maybe even expanding individual ones based on comments or future official stories.

 

The Second Exodus of the Unicorn

 

After the Emperor banned Meishodo, it created a precedent. Seeing the opportunity to finally put a stop to the gaijin customs plaguing the Unicorn, the other Clans brough forward a number of petitions banning many aspects of Unicorn culture in the next few months, all of which received imperial approval. Most of these decisions were extremly difficult to enforce, but it created a deep gap between the Unicorn and the other Clans, all in the name of tradition and honor.

Unsurprisingly, the leadership of the Clan grew restless. These insults couldn't stay unpunished, but what could a single clan do against the Empire as a whole? The Unicorn did the only solution that could give them back their culture and freedom. From that point forward, all their efforts went towards stockpiling ressources. Even when the land was generous, samurai and peasants alike ate the strict minimum and preserved the rest. All the efforts on the court were concentrated around gathering more food for the clan, even if the actual deals where less than ideal on the long run.

Finally, at the height of the summer two years later, the armies of the Unicorn marched on their neighbours. These attacks had only one goal, raiding their food supplies and retreating as soon as they met any major resistance. For two months, the Unicorn's mobility managed to cripple the reserves of the Scorpion, Crab, Lion and Crane Clan. The Emperor, shocked by this aggression against the other clans, mustered the full forces of the Imperial armies to punish the Unicorn for this folly, but when the legions entered their lands, they only encounter scorched lands. Every living soul had already left, burning everything they couldn't take with them.

 

Clan Overview:

Unicorn: They are gone. Everyone, from the lowly eta to the Clan Champion left Rokugan with enough food, horses and other supplies to last a few years. Whether they will settle elsewhere, or find new friends and come back with a vengeance is unknown.

 

Crab: The Unicorn raided their supplies for two months and left them in a precarious situation. They lack the food necessary to go through the winter. In response, they are trying to claim the now-vacant Unicorn Lands as theirs to compensate, but most of them will be unusable until spring at the very least and the Scorpions have also petitionned the throne for ownership. Although both sides want to find a solution outside the battlefield, tensions between the two Clans could end up an all-out war.

 

Crane: The last three years have been difficult for the Crane. A terrible tsunami crippled their food production, then a terrible drought did the same and just as the Kamis appeared to bless the children of Doji with a bountiful harvest, critical outposts were emptied of their contents by the Unicorn. The general populace are hungry for quite some time now and the Crane Clan is therefore f acing a peasant uprising. It will undoubtetly by dealt with, but this is putting the Crane in a postion of weakness that could be exploited by others sooner than later.

 

Dragon: Virtually untouched by the Unicorn attacks, the Dragon are still worried about the long-term repercussions of the Unicorn departure. Not only the balance of power has shifted, but karmic unbalance can also be felt by the most devout members of the Monastic Orders. Unicorns had their role to play in the future of Rokugan, and now that they are left, Fate will try to repair itself, often with disastrous consequences. The Clan is currently split into two groups. One advocates a greater implication in the affairs of Rokugan, both in Court and on the battelfield, to counter the rise of power of the Lion Clan and to guide the Clans in this tumultuous time. The other wants to shut the doors of the mountains and wait for a new balance to form. Whichever side wins will drastically change the face of Rokugan, for better or for worse.

 

Lion: The followers of Akodo were ready for the Unicorn. In fact, they were ready for them for centuries. The couldn't stop all the raids, but were immensely more succesful than the Scorpion, Crane and Crab. As such, they still have reasonable supplies available and intend to use this opportunity to reclaim many lands that were dishonorable acquired (according to them at least) by the Scorpion and Crane. 

 

Phoenix: Thanks to the great distances between Phoenix and Unicorn lands, they were untouched by the Unicorn's raids, even though they were the ones that started it all. They are still concerned about the current turn of events. The Lions are preparing for war, and whether they want it or not, they will certainly be dragged into the conflict. They hope they will be able to keep a neutral stance and offer mediation between the clans, but most of them know this is wishful thinking at this point.

 

Scorpion: Crippled by the Unicorns the most during their raids, they are in dire need of ressources. They petitionned for stewardship of the Unicorn lands, but this claim is opposed by the Crab. The last thing they want is go to war, especially with the Lions breathing down their necks, but it might be a necessity for survival.

 

 

The Republic of Rokugan

 

Matsu Tsuko and Doji Kuwanan met on the battlefield, and while Tsuko managed to kill the Crane Champion's brother, the Crane managed to win the battle and she was mortally wounded in the process, dying a few days later. The conflict then become the bloodiest in Rokugan's history. The lion threw in the conflict everything they could as a revenge for Tsuko's death and the Cran manipulated the Scorpion and the Phoenix to take an active stance and soon enough, the Unicorn, the Dragon and the Crab were all forced to meet on the battlefield as well.

The losses were enormous and the Imperial Families only managed to stop the conflict after five years when no Clans had any decent military left to continue anyway. After so many years of war, it was impossible to go back to how things were before. The discharged ashigarus no longer had the experience and willingness to go back to their farming duty, a necessity to replenish the food supplies of the Clans, and many became bandits. The farmers, whose fields were raided and burned repeatedly during the war were overtaxed and threatened by bandits. The samurai caste had lost the vast majority of their influence and their dimished number couldn't control the vast lands they owned. In this time of turmoil, peasant revolts of unpredecented proportions erupted all across Rokugan, and the Clans were unable to supress them. One after the others, the cities of the Empire felt in the hands of the rebels and even Daimyos and Champions were getting captured and executed.

Just before the balance of power shifted completly towards the rebels, the Emperor stepped forward and summoned the leaders of the rebellion. Many were suspicious, but those few who answered were treated on the same footing than samurai of high status. A deal was struck. The status of the Emperor and those of the imperial families would be preserved, but the Clans would be disbanded and replaced with elected provincial governors. The Emperor's Chosen (Shogun, Chancellor and Treasurer) would also be elected official, but in exchange, key structures in the Empire would still be imperial mandated meritocracy (The Wall, The Magistrates, The Bureaucracy, The Elemental Council, The Legions, etc.). In short, policies would be created through a democratic process, but executed and enforced by a system similar to Imperial Rokugan. In addition, the difference between heimin and samurai would be greatly reduced. The few clans and rebels who opposed this new political system were hunted down and executed, paving the way for the Republic of Rokugan.

 

Clan Overview:

The Clans themselves were disbanded. However, many samurai survived the revolution and kept part of their power under the new regime, usually answering to elected officials rather than hereditary leadership. 

 

Crab:

What remains of the Crab were swiftly transformed into the Wall Defense Forces, a semi-autonomous army tasked with recruiting and defending the Wall. Surprisingly, with the transition to a democratic government, the Wall is supplied more reliably according to the new Imperial Constitution, but the uprising took a heavy toll nonetheless, leaving the WDF dangerously understaffed. In addition, the ''Wall'' tax is heavily contested by other provinces, all arguing it is dramatically slowling the rebuilding process and growth. 

 

Crane:

The leadership of the Crane, heavily associated with the old regime, were priority targets for the rebels, and very few high-ranking samurai survived, the vast majoirty of those survivors were regional daimyos who sided with the rebels and renounced their noble titles anyway. As such, the provinces that were once the lands of the Crane Clans are the forefront of the new democratic regime, striving to push its new ideal as perfectly as they can. In effect, the samurai and heimin are trying to emulate the virtues of the Crane Clan in this new reality and are still on the forefront of the political scene. 

 

Dragon

The transition was extremely harsh on the Dragon Lands. The main rebellious groups of the region were advocating for radical changes, but were also led by extremely ambitious individuals, more concerned about their own standing than the well-being of the masses.  Of all the families of the Dragon Clan, only the Togashi survived the purge, and even then they were stripped of their samurai status and now serves as a full-fledged monk order. In addition, the art of mystic tattoos was nationalized and only the provincial governors may award this privilege. It is mainly used as an award to faithful servants or as gifts to allies. Corruption is already dangerously spread across all levels of government. 

Helped with the geographical isolation of the Dragon Lands as well as the inefficiency of the new local government, the Mountains of the north are slowly becoming a haven for people dissatisfied with the new regime. The Dragon samurais in exiles are accepting anyone, heimin or samurai, who disagrees with the decisions of the democratic system, but their number and ressources are extremely limited...for now.

 

Lion

The armies of the Lion Clan were already decimated after five years of intense conflicts against pretty much every other clans, and whatever remained tried to stop the rebellion in vain. As a result, the handful of Matsu and Akodo samurai who didn't die on the battlefield or through ritual suicide renounced their family name and were either adopted into other families or became ronin. The provinces are now ruled primarly by heimin and veteran ashigarus. The Ikoma has since dedicated their existence into preserving the memory of the old regime and used what remained of their wealth to build libraries and shrines across Rokugan, now existing primarly as a monk order.

 

Phoenix

Shugenjas are still an integral partof Rokugani lives, and the special status of the Phoenix helped them survive somewhat better than their neighbours the rebellion. The actual leadership of the clan was disbanded, but the Elemental Council was quickly reformed as a global organization dedicated to oversee the efforts of all the shugenja schools and organizations. The council is still controlled majoritarly by the Isawa family, but with many shugenja family now longer supported by the new provincial governors (Kistu, Soshi, Yogo and others), the balance of power is changing slowly.

 

Scorpion

After five years, the Clan wasn't in bad shape, but most if not all samurai of the Bayushi and Shosuro families either stepped down or committed suicide...officially. Unofficially, the order of the scorpion is now a secretly imperial-funded organization, loyal to the emperor first and foremost. It respects the new democratic regime and will actually work to enforce its decision through sabotage, assassination or other similar black ops, but will do everything in its power to keep the Emperor on the throne and maintain whatever power he still has in its hands. 

 

Unicorn

The Unicorn treated their peasants way better than the rest of Rokugan, and suffered a much gentle fate than the other Clans as a result. The Champion and daimyos still have to step down, but the vast majoirty of them are still alive and active, either as advisors or even elected officials. With most of the Lions dead, the Unicorn are now the strongest military force still standing, even stronger than the WDF.  Thus, it has taken a much more active role in the Imperial Legions. As a result, their gaijin customs are slowly spreading into Rokugani culture.

 

 

New organizations:

 

The Wall Defense Force: see above

The Elemental Council: see above

The Imperial Legions: led mostly by Unicorn commanders, the Legions are transforming into much more mobile units, relying on the ability to cross vast distance to eliminate threats rather than pure strength. 

Emerald/Jade Magistrates: Local governors are still responsible for training local magistrates, but the usefulness of maintaining a global police force is undeniable. The Emerald  and Jade Magistrates are named by the Emperor and given extraordinary powers to enforce the new constitution and laws. 

 

 

 

The Empress

 

Toturi couldn't close his eyes fast enough and was blinded for a fraction of a second. It was more than enough for Aramoro to strike and kill the Lion Champion with a single stroke. This victory allowed the scorpion to take the mantle of the Emerald Champion, a victory somewhat tainted by the death of his opponent. 

 

The Lion contested the victory before the Throne, especially considering the death of Toturi, but the petition was quickly dismished by the Emperor. This was only the first of the many small victories Kachiko would make in the following years. A (bogus) conspiracy against the Emperor supposedly conducted by the leading members of the Otomo family was discovered, ending with the dishonorable execution of most of the line of succession (aside from the two imperial heirs). The Scorpion Champion was found dead, apparently having commited seppuku. The Crane and the Lion Clan, after months of fighting, were stopped by Imperial decree, and the ownership of Toshi Ranbo and a large portion of the land surrounding it were given to the Scorpion. And then Sotorii announced his marriage with Kachiko herself. 

 

The Emperor stepped down soon afterwards and the new Hantei XXXIX was crowned, his wife Kachiko at his side. It didn't last, A group of ronin and Minor Clan samurais assaulted the Imperial Palace. During the assault, both Sotorii and his father died, and the younger Daisetsu disappeared alongside some dignitaries (Iuchi Shahai among them). They are presumed dead. Kachiko soon after took the throne as the Empress, announcing she was pregnant with Sotorii's child, the future Emperor.

 

 

The truth is nowhere as close however. Kachiko was slowly poisoning the Emperor and his father, a fact known by a select few, including Daisetsu. He contacted in secret a number of individuals, including the pirate Yoritomo, Champion of the Mantis Clan and asked for his help. He gathered an elite group of individuals and raided the palace in the hope of uncovering Kachiko's manipulation and saving the life of the Emperor. THey all felt into her trap. She used this opportunity to kill her husband and father in law and almost killed Daisetsu as well. He managed to escape with his lover, Shahai, and both took refuge in the Isles of Spice and Silk. Kachiko now reigns unopposed on the Emerald Throne. It is also rumored her unborn child is not from Sotorii, but Aramoro...

 

Edited by Tetsuhiko

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1 hour ago, Tetsuhiko said:

The few clans and rebels who opposed this new political system were hunted down and executed, paving the way for the Republic of Rokugan.

Heard the last Jedi Samurai who sided neither for the Empire or the Republic set up an Odd Jobs office.

 

OT: Not bad for a couple of alternate futures. :)  Let's see if FFG storyboard members come up with something even more exciting.

Edited by Yogo Rye X

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On ‎2017‎-‎11‎-‎14 at 2:02 AM, Tetsuhiko said:

The Second Exodus of the Unicorn

After the Emperor banned Meishodo, it created a precedent. Seeing the opportunity to finally put a stop to the gaijin customs plaguing the Unicorn, the other Clans brough forward a number of petitions banning many aspects of Unicorn culture in the next few months, all of which received imperial approval. Most of these decisions were extremly difficult to enforce, but it created a deep gap between the Unicorn and the other Clans, all in the name of tradition and honor.

Unsurprisingly, the leadership of the Clan grew restless. These insults couldn't stay unpunished, but what could a single clan do against the Empire as a whole? The Unicorn did the only solution that could give them back their culture and freedom. From that point forward, all their efforts went towards stockpiling ressources. Even when the land was generous, samurai and peasants alike ate the strict minimum and preserved the rest. All the efforts on the court were concentrated around gathering more food for the clan, even if the actual deals where less than ideal on the long run.

Finally, at the height of the summer two years later, the armies of the Unicorn marched on their neighbours. These attacks had only one goal, raiding their food supplies and retreating as soon as they met any major resistance. For two months, the Unicorn's mobility managed to cripple the reserves of the Scorpion, Crab, Lion and Crane Clan. The Emperor, shocked by this aggression against the other clans, mustered the full forces of the Imperial armies to punish the Unicorn for this folly, but when the legions entered their lands, they only encounter scorched lands. Every living soul had already left, burning everything they couldn't take with them.

Clan Overview:

Unicorn: They are gone. Everyone, from the lowly eta to the Clan Champion left Rokugan with enough food, horses and other supplies to last a few years. Whether they will settle elsewhere, or find new friends and come back with a vengeance is unknown.

Now I'm wondering where they might have gone. Back to where the Moto first joined them? North, to conquer/join the Yobanjin? West, into what became the Colonies in O5R?

The possibilities for what could happen as a consequence of the Unicorn leaving are endless.

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Interesting.  Only thing I inherently have a problem with is the Unicorn raiding the clans for food storage before leaving.  While it makes logistical sense for the most part, the Unicorn hold Campassion as their most honored tenet of Bushido.  Shinjo famously risked her own life to meet with Fu Leng to try and save him one last time when all the other Kami had already concluded he should just be killed.  Even if the Unicorn didn't care about the samurai of the other clans by this point I feel like they know that the peasants are the ones who would truly suffer as a result of their pillaging.  Unless the Moto were in charge of the clan anyway, then they probably wouldn't give a ****.  I also wonder about it since it would basically be saying they intend to never return as any return after raiding the other clans would be even less welcome than their previous return. 

That said I actually still find the idea entirely plausible and interesting.  If you use the old lore as something of a reference point one possibility I could see is Chagatai still being born and becoming the leader of the Unicorn Clan and plotting an invasion of Rokugan. 

Another thing to consider is what happens to their lands after they leave. If the Unicorn leave with no intention of return and are spiteful enough do they salt and burn their lands as they leave? Who claims the lands? Do they just get handed back to the Lion? Also which way do the Unicorn leave Rokugan back through the Shadowlands? Another path? Lots of things to consider. I like it.

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I know this wasn't a story choice, but I couldn't help it. What if the Emerald Championship was won by Aramoro? I also edited my first post to add this new alternate storyline.

 

 

The Empress

 

Toturi couldn't close his eyes fast enough and was blinded for a fraction of a second. It was more than enough for Aramoro to strike and kill the Lion Champion with a single stroke. This victory allowed the scorpion to take the mantle of the Emerald Champion, a victory somewhat tainted by the death of his opponent. 

 

The Lion contested the victory before the Throne, especially considering the death of Toturi, but the petition was quickly dismissed by the Emperor. This was only the first of the many small victories Kachiko would make in the following years. A (bogus) conspiracy against the Emperor supposedly conducted by the leading members of the Otomo family was discovered, ending with the dishonorable execution of most of the line of succession (aside from the two imperial heirs). The Scorpion Champion was found dead, apparently having commited seppuku. The Crane and the Lion Clan, after months of fighting, were stopped by Imperial decree, and the ownership of Toshi Ranbo and a large portion of the land surrounding it were given to the Scorpion. And then Sotorii announced his marriage with Kachiko herself. 

 

The Emperor stepped down soon afterwards and the new Hantei XXXIX was crowned, his wife Kachiko at his side. It didn't last, A group of ronin and Minor Clan samurais assaulted the Imperial Palace. During the assault, both Sotorii and his father died, and the younger Daisetsu disappeared alongside some dignitaries (Iuchi Shahai among them). They are presumed dead. Kachiko soon after took the throne as the Empress, announcing she was pregnant with Sotorii's child, the future Emperor.

 

 

The truth is nowhere as close however. Kachiko was slowly poisoning the Emperor and his father, a fact known by a select few, including Daisetsu. He contacted in secret a number of individuals, including the pirate Yoritomo, Champion of the Mantis Clan and asked for his help. He gathered an elite group of individuals and raided the palace in the hope of uncovering Kachiko's manipulation and saving the life of the Emperor. THey all felt into her trap. She used this opportunity to kill her husband and father in law and almost killed Daisetsu as well. He managed to escape with his lover, Shahai, and both took refuge in the Isles of Spice and Silk. Kachiko now reigns unopposed on the Emerald Throne. It is also rumored her unborn child is not from Sotorii, but Aramoro...

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Tetsuhiko

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