The Empire of Honshu
|Size:||580 miles east to west by 500 north to south|
|People of Note:||Emperor Enoeda|
Places of Interest
|Provinces:||Dragon Province, Gryphon Province, Kirin Province, Naga Province, Ogre Province, Phantom Province, Sphinx Province|
The Empire of Honshu is vast, sprawling and split into seven provinces. It is a beautiful empire of rice fields, mountains and steaming jungles. It is very colourful and seems very peaceful, yet under this calm exterior it can be a deadly place. Honshu is a place of honour and of status. The smallest slight on a person above your rank can mean death. It can be a deadly place.
Places of Interest
The Dragon Clan controls the west 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 Gryphon 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 Honshu have come from the Gryphon clan. The Gryphon Clan also has the biggest army in the empire, and it's known for its rigid adherence to the warrior code.
The Kirin Clan is known for their cavalry and horsemanship. They are considered barbarians by the other clans because the clan as a whole spent nearly 200 of the last 500 years outside of the empire. 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 Honshu.
The Left Hand of the Emperor - The Naga Clan is considered the most artistic of all the clans. They are known throughout the empire for their trained courtiers, artisans and duelists. Naga samurai are arguably the finest duelists in Honshu. 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 Ogre Clan is considered the least cultured or courtly of all the clans. Their duty is to guard the mountain range that separates the empire of Honshu from the foul and tainted lands of Marlek to the south east. In guarding the wall, they face constant attack from undead foes, Oni (demons), and a variety of other evil minions. It has been the Ogre 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 Phantom Clan is known as the Underhand of the Emperor. They are known for their courtiers' abilities. Their ghostwalkers are experts in assassination and espionage. Phantom knowledge is not shared with outsiders, but is a true thing of power. Phantom architects have constructed many key structures throughout Honshu, and, as a result, many of those structures have secret passages and rooms unknown to all but the Phantom clan. It is a Phantom tradition to always be masked, or face painted.
The Sphinx 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 land that would become the Empire of Honshu was originally inhabited by two races: the ainu and the tsuri. For many generations these two races made war until, finally, the ainu were destroyed by the tsuri.
The tsuri, having no external enemy to fight at that time, began to turn upon themselves. During their wars with the ainu, they had clustered into Clans to protect each other. These Clans were of varying strengths and sizes, and led by religious men.
The religion of the ancient people was a worship of many gods, including their chief hero Osano-Wo, the Son of Thunder. The stories of Osano-Wo are legendary, and were collected by a storyteller/monk named Uikku. The Seventy-Seven Stories chronicle the tales of the gods and heroes of the ancient land, and also gave the Clans their tradition.
The tales of animal shapeshifters are included in The Seventy-Seven Stories, and how each of them were one of Osano-Wo's many wives. From their respective marriages, great heroes emerged, including the tales of Hida the Crab, Doji the Crane, and Akodo the Lion. From these heroes, the lineage of each of the Clans was traced, making all Clans children of Osano-Wo.
Among the most powerful warriors of the age were: Hida, of the Crab Clan; Doji, of the Crane Clan; Togashi, of the Dragon Clan; Akodo, of the Lion Clan; Shiba, of the Phoenix Clan; Bayushi, of the Scorpion Clan; and Shinjo of the Unicorn Clan.
Dash was eager to prove his mettle too, with a grubby halfing as an opponent. Dash reacted first, catching the halfling with a couple of arrows before he closed the gap and slashed with a poisoned blade. Another ninja smoke bomb allowed Dash to finish the fight with close ranged arrow shots.
These names correspond to the Children of Sun and Moon, with two exceptions: first, it neglects Hantei. Second, it neglects Fu Leng.
These warriors battled endlessly. When their lives were taken, their children fought in their stead. Generations of war made warriors of such skill the tales of their deeds became equal to the deeds of Osano-Wo himself.
Finally, a little over five hundred years ago, a single war-lord arose from the conflict. He claimed his ancestry to be above all others, and his wisdom in battle was unmatched. His name was Hantei and he established his place in history by taking a small army of peasants against Hida Suburu, one of the greatest generals of the age. He routed the Crab army, killed Hida Suburu in single combat and spared the remaining troops. He offered them the opportunity to join his small force, and they agreed.
Hantei led his force across the land until men from every army had joined him. At that time, no family could resist Hantei and he was eventually declared Emperor over all. The Age of Darkness was over.
Now the empire is split into seven clans, the Crab, Crane, Dragon, Lion, Phoenix, Scorpion and Unicorn. Separate from these clans and ruling over them is the House of Hantei, emperor of Honshu. Each of the seven clans still has a champion, descended from the first founders of the clan. Each clan elects its own champion in its own ways.
A one line summary of how each clan might be viewed by the rest of the empire:
Crab - brutish, strong and stupid. They defend the east from the evils of Marlek.
Crane - beautiful, intelligent, diplomatic. Probably the most influential clan in court.
Dragon - aloof and enigmatic. They do not involve themselves in the politics of the empire. They speak in riddles.
Lion - honourable and powerful. The strongest military clan in the empire.
Phoenix - devout pacifists. The most powerful shugenja come from this clan. They will not fight.
Scorpion - deceitful tricksters. Do not trust them. They know everything that they should not.
Unicorn - barbaric horsemen. Virtually no more refined than the gajiin.
Within each clan are many families, but usually there are three of four important families in the clan and each of these is headed by a daimyo. Typically but not always the clans champion is selected from the most senior family of the clan, but each clan has different ways to select their champion. Even the daimyo of the families of the clan swear fealty to the clan's champion, and all swear fealty to the emperor.
The kuge or noble samurai families form the uppermost caste. The kuge are often related directly to the imperial Hantei family, hold titles, or own large amounts of land. The next caste is the buke or samurai caste. The buke are landowners and part of the military elite. Only members of the kuge and buke are allowed to wear the symbol of their station: the daisho, or twinned swords. The long bladed sword (katana) is typically only worn and used outside and the shorter bladed sword (wakizashi) is always worn and is used inside. The next caste is the bonge or commoners. The bonge includes heimin (upper peasants like merchants, craftsmen and farmers) and hinin (lowest peasants, like geisha, criminals and entertainers). The eta (outcasts) live outside the caste system they are so lowly. They do the jobs that are thought to interfere with inner harmony and cause spiritual polution, including butchery, removal of human and animal waste and executions
History of The Empire of Honshu
five hundred forty years agoThe lands of Honshu came under the control of one man, the Exulted One, Emperor of Honshu.