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Rokugan is the fictional empire which is the main power in the Legend of the Five Rings setting, the basis for the Legend of the Five Rings Collectible Card Game, Legend of the Five Rings Role-Playing Game, the board game Art of War and the now out of print Clan War Miniatures game, all from Alderac Entertainment Group. It is similar to feudal Japan, though it also includes aspects of other Asian cultures, as well as magic and mythical beasts. The setting was used by Wizards of the Coast as the basis for their updated Oriental Adventures Dungeons & Dragons supplement.
There is no given name for the entire world which the setting describes, so "Rokugan" is used alternately to refer to the specific nation within the setting or to refer to the entire world. Strictly speaking this is incorrect, but as the Emperor lays claim to all that is as a right of being the descendant of Amaterasu (Lady Sun) and Onnotangu (Lord Moon), the courtiers of the Emerald Empire would see this as an appropriate use. The citizens and rulers of the Burning Sands and Ivory Kingdoms might disagree, however. Some say that Ningen-Do, the name of the metaphysical realm in which the world is placed, serves as a proper name for the world.
Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG) published Legend of the Five Rings (L5R) collectible card game in 1995. Rokugan surfaced as its background setting, where several clans and factions vie for domination over the empire. In 1997, Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying Game was released.
While transitioning from Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition to Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition, Wizards of the Coast acquired its rights. Wizards opted to let Alderac Entertainment Group continue publishing second-edition material for the Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying Game system. They were simultaneously working on a d20 campaign setting book for the world of Rokugan; in October 2001, Wizards finally produced the setting book they had had in process for over a year: James Wyatt's Oriental Adventures (2001), which offered new d20 rules for Oriental realms, some of them specific to the world of Rokugan.:264–265 After that, all of the Legend of the Five Rings rights went back to AEG, who immediately began supplementing Wizards' Oriental Adventures with the Rokugan Oriental Adventures Campaign Setting (2001), which came out just two months after Oriental Adventures, in December 2001; two more d20 books followed over the next couple of months, Creatures of Rokugan (2002) and Magic of Rokugan (2002).:265
The Empire of Rokugan
Rokugani society is based on a clan structure, with seven (then eight with the addition of the Mantis and later nine with the addition of the Spider) so-called "Great Clans", as well as a number of minor clans. Great Clans are made up of several family lines, each with their own general purpose within the clan. Minor clans, on the other hand, generally only have one family. Each clan also has areas of land under their control which the emperor bestowed on them as a fief. The emperor retains ownership of all lands, however, and the clans essentially rent the lands they use by paying taxes annually.
The Crab Clan is considered the least cultured or courtly of all the clans. Their duty is to guard the Carpenter Wall that separates the empire of Rokugan from the foul and tainted Shadowlands. In guarding the wall, they face constant attack from undead foes, Oni (demons), and a variety of other evil minions. It has been the Crab clan's duty to guard the wall for as far back as memory goes. It is, for this reason, that they have become experts of defensive strategies. Their warriors are all battle hardened and experienced and most of them prefer to wield massive weapons such as the tetsubo (two-handed war-club) or the no-dachi (two-handed sword). The clan families are Hida, Hiruma, Kaiu, Kuni, Toritaka, and Yasuki. The clan colors are grey and dark blue.
The Left Hand of the Emperor - The Crane Clan is considered the most artistic of all the clans. They are known throughout the empire for their trained courtiers, artisans and duelists. Crane samurai are arguably the finest duelists in Rokugan. They are trained heavily in Iaijutsu (fast-draw technique) where the sword is drawn and a killing blow is struck with one, very fast movement. The clan families are Asahina, Daidoji, Doji, Kakita and the Yasuki, the only family name used by two separate clans. The clan colors are white and light blue.
The Dragon Clan controls the mountains to the north of the empire. They are aloof and removed from the affairs of the other clans, preferring to reside in their mountain strongholds. Most of the land the Dragon Clan holds becomes completely cut off from the rest of the empire during the winter due to heavy snowfall. Their samurai use niten (two-strike style) in which combatants use both katana and wakizashi to execute very fast strikes in rapid succession. To many observers, the niten looks more like a dance than actual combat, however, niten is a deadly art requiring a great deal of skill and coordination. The clan families are Kitsuki, Mirumoto, Tamori, The Order of Tattooed Men (sub-divided into Togashi, Hitomi, and Hoshi families), and formerly the Agasha, who now swear allegiance to the Phoenix. The clan colors are emerald green and gold. Their founder was the Kami Togashi, who unlike his siblings remained alive in a vessal body for over 1000 years until he was killed by his brother Fu Leng on the second day of thunder. Notable Dragon clan members include Agasha Tamori and Tamori Chosai, both Oracles of Fire; Mirumoto, the original Dragon Thunder; Hitomi, the second Dragon Thunder and formerly Lady Moon after the Death of Onnatangu; Togashi Satsu, Former Dragon Champion, Grandson of Togashi and current voice of the Empress; and Iweko I, formerly Kitsuki Iweko, Daimyo of the Kitsuki and current Empress.
The Lion Clan is known as a very aggressive and honor-driven clan. They are the Emperor's Right Hand, personally defending his causes above all else. Some of the finest generals of all Rokugan have come from the Lion clan. The Lion Clan also has the biggest army in the empire, and it's known for its rigid adherence to the Bushido's Code. The clan families are Akodo, Ikoma, Kitsu, and Matsu. The clan colors are brown and tan.
The Phoenix Clan is known as the most skilled with magic in the empire, and also as the most peaceful. They have schools of magic associated with each element, including the empire's only school dealing with Void magic. The clan families are Agasha, Asako, Isawa, and Shiba. The clan colors are red and orange.
The Scorpion Clan is known as the Underhand of the Emperor. They are known for their courtiers' abilities. Their ninja are experts in assassination and espionage. Scorpion knowledge is not shared with outsiders, but is a true thing of power. Scorpion architects have constructed many key structures throughout Rokugan, and, as a result, many of those structures have secret passages and rooms unknown to all but the Scorpion clan. It is a Scorpion tradition to always be masked, or face painted. The clan families are Bayushi, Shosuro, Soshi, and Yogo. The clan colors are crimson and black.
The Unicorn Clan is known for their cavalry and horsemanship. They are considered barbarians by the other clans because the clan as a whole spent nearly 800 of the last thousand years outside of the empire. Before they left Rokugan, the Unicorn Clan was known as the Ki-Rin Clan, and the Unicorn Clan are their descendants. They hunt game and eat red meat and have adopted a number of other customs that are considered taboo by the rest of the Clans. However, the horses they brought back from far off lands are faster, stronger, and larger than any found in Rokugan. The clan families are Moto, Ide, Iuchi, Shinjo, and Utaku, formerly known as Otaku. The clan colors are purple and white.
The Mantis Clan was formerly a minor clan, until after the Second Day of Thunder, when they won their place as a great clan. Although they do not have a standing army, their navy is the most powerful in all of Rokugan. They are tasked to patrol the Rokugani seas and guard them against gaijin invaders. They are considered as pirates by the other clans and some of their samurai actually engage in piracy. The clan families are Kitsune, Moshi, Tsuruchi, and Yoritomo. The clan colors are silver and green. The Fox Clan has recently been absorbed into the Mantis Clan (as Kitsune family). The Centipede and the Wasp Clan have been absorbed into the Mantis Clan (as Moshi and Tsuruchi families, respectively).
The Spider Clan was formed by Daigotsu, the one and true Heir to the throne of Rokugan, out of Shadowland tainted Samurai, Blood Speakers and Monks that followed his interpretation on the Tao. It was considered an outlaw clan until the end of the Destroyer War when the Empress granted them Great Clan Status in what many Samurai perceived as a "deal with the darkness". Those members of the Spider Clan that contain the Shadowland Taint are banished to the colonies in the Ivory Kingdom. The Clan consists of the Daigotsu family and the monks. The Chuda family has now split from the Spider as the clan ascent to great clan status. The Chuda are now joining forces with the Horde of the Jikogou. The Spider Clan was governed by a council until its current clan champion (Daigotsu Kanpeki) ascended to his position.
There are many minor clans in Rokugan—clans that have been formed since the birth of the empire by those other than the seven Kami. New clans are not founded lightly. The founders of these clans generally performed some extraordinarily valiant deed or favor for the Empire. Among the Minor clans are: Hare Clan, Ox Clan, Sparrow Clan, Snake Clan, Monkey Clan, Tortoise Clan, Bat Clan, Firefly Clan, Badger Clan, Oriole Clan and Dragonfly Clan. The Dragonfly Clan was wiped out in a war between the Lion and the Dragon, but has been reconstructed with the help of Toturi Sezaru, brother of the former Emperor.
Besides the conglomoration of minor clans that makes up the Mantis, there are other minor clans that have been absorbed by great clans. The Falcon Clan has been absorbed into the Crab (as Toritaka family).
The Burning Sands lie to the north and west of Rokugan. These lands consist mostly of vast stretches of desert where nomads roam the land and bitter wars are fought over the smallest reservoirs of water. It is thematically based on a fantastic version of Arabia.
The Ivory Kingdoms lie far to the west and south of Rokugan, past the Shadowlands. Little is known of these islands and their inhabitants to the general populace of Rokugan, although secretly (and illegally) the Mantis Clan has been carrying on trade with this nation for some time. Most of the population was wiped out during the Destroyer war as it was sacrificed to make the army that attacked Rokugan. It is thematically based on a fantasy version of India.
The Shadowlands border Rokugan to the south and south-west. While not a nation per se this is a vile land where the very air can be poisonous, and foul, unholy creatures are summoned forth by dark powers to wage a never-ending battle against all life in Rokugan. Simply entering this territory subjects an individual to the possibility of contracting The Shadowlands Taint, a mystical infection that gradually degrades the individual's morals and sanity, while granting them enhanced strength, speed, and endurance. The risk level and severity of The Taint increase as one proceeds toward the center of the Shadowlands, The Black Pit, which is a direct physical connection to Jigoku. The Crab Clan, who must regularly fight in areas of the near Shadowlands, consume a huge proportion of the empire's jade supply, as a piece of jade will absorb the corruption attempting to reach the one carrying it for a limited time before dissolving.
North of Rokugan, beyond the Dragon, Ox, Badger and Phoenix Clan territories, lies the endless steppes of the Yobanjin. These nomads are fierce raiders, known for their Wyrm riding chiefs and powerful shamans. It is thematically based on a fantasy version of Mongolia.
Rest of the World
Far in the West, beyond the Burning Sands or the Ivory Kingdoms, are other lands, most of them with no contact at all with Rokugan. The Senpet, once a powerful theocracy (a setting based on a pharaonic Egypt of fantasy), has been subjugated by the military of the Yodotai (a Roman setting). Other kingdoms, such as the Thrane or Merenae, which used to threaten Rokugan with their gun carrying vessels, are all but disappeared after a strange plague wiped them out.
In the world of Rokugan, there are many different and extraordinary creatures roaming the lands, and humans are not the only beings to have developed a civilization. In addition to goblins, mujina, oni, dragons and a host of other beings, the following are the major species.
The great majority of the population of Rokugan are humans. Humans almost exclusively make up the population of the clans, great and minor, as well as the other groups within Rokugan. The number of non-human members of Rokugan's clans is low.
The kenku are an ancient race resembling very large humanoid crows. Kenku are legendary swordsmen and are, at least in legend, responsible for training some of the most famous Rokugani swordsmen in history. Seeing a kenku is rare, and getting one to take on a student is nearly impossible. These creatures have removed themselves from Rokugan almost entirely. They appear as large crows standing upright, and their wings can be flexed and used as arms.
The Lost are humans who have given themselves to Fu Leng's evil will. They are often "blessed" with his dark gifts, which eventually lead to madness. Some of the Lost have formed mock societies. There have even been rumors of children born in the Shadowlands, many of whom have the benefits of the dark gifts, but with little in the way of curses due to their unfailing devotion to Fu Leng.
The naga are an ancient race of creatures who appear half-human, half-serpent. Long before the rise of Rokugan, the Naga had a vast and vibrant civilization. At some point in pre-history, however, the entire race of Naga entered a deep sleep, where they remained for nearly 100,000 years. They awakened briefly during the Second Day of Thunder, but after a few years of involvement in Rokugani affairs, they once again returned to their slumber.
The "ratlings" are a race of large, intelligent rats. They currently live in squalor, barely better than animals, although they have once had an extensive, advanced society. Unfortunately, this civilization was entirely within what has become the Shadowlands, and was destroyed when the dark Kami Fu Leng fell to the earth. Nothing found by any explorers has verified the claim of a previous Nezumi society until recently. Allegedly, many stories of the Naga history supposedly provided evidence the society never existed, but Ikoma Otemi found, in an island that is now under protectorate of Lion Clan, ancient scrolls proving these rumors are indeed true. The Nezumi control the Name's Magic, an ancient and very powerful form of magic. Unlike any other known race, the Nezumi are completely immune to The Taint, and as such the Crab have formed alliances with many of the families and tribes of the Nezumi living near the wall.
The "copper goblins" are small creatures with wiry hair and heads vaguely resembling those of frogs. They have extraordinary natural tunneling abilities—being that they eat rock for nourishment, this is little surprise. Because of this, they are often used—involuntarily more often than not—by the clans of Rokugan in their various mines. Zokujin live to be centuries old, and an experienced zokujin shaman will have more powerful abilities in the area of Earth magic than is possible for human shugenja.
Though now little more than low-witted brutes, the ogres once had a thriving Empire, and rumors of great advancements beyond that of even the current humans. However, with the fall of Fu Leng from the Heavens, the ogres were subjugated to his will, suffering extensive physical corruption and devolution, and have since become the monsters they now are.
Kitsune are mostly benevolent nature spirits that often take the form of an animal, but on occasion can take human form and sometimes fall in love with humans. The Kitsune Family, formerly the Fox clan, has an affinity with Kitsune and call upon them as allies and protect them from harm.
An immortal race of malicious sorcerers, the Ashlan breed very rarely, with only 3 Ashlan being born in the last 1000 years. They are sworn enemies of the Naga, and are forbidden from entering Rokugan directly, but instead wield influence through lesser minions.
Powerful beings that represent both the good and evil sides of the elemental forces. Oracles cannot attack a being unless they are attacked first, and can be killed but are extremely powerful. Oracles are former mortals who attain the Role of Oracle by being selected by the Celestial Dragons or by Jigoku.