Gozoku

The Lake of Sorrows Part I

394, 6th Shinjo

Finally there is respite to be found from both the ravages of War and Winter. There is a cease-fire with the Crab, as an early snow starts covering crab lands, it will probably last at least one more month.

Having secured the Miya’s Blessing to fall upon the project of Bakufu, Doji Raigu designated the war hero Doji Kasugo as supreme authority on Bakufu, head of this project. To assist Doji Kasuyo – and his eventual replacements when the Clan War went back to its due course, – Doji Raigu sent the Paragons. Three of them were particularly noticeable in their pursuit of the Senzo family and in the betterment of the Alliance’s cause: Asako Manabu, Doji Mikan and Shosuro Miki; as the dubious rewarding position of acting governors of the hub regions of the lake, tasked to assure that heimins would provide Kasuyo and his project with the materials, builders and taxes required.

Arriving at Manabu’s White Shore and its village of Daikoku Gift, the Paragons were expecting Doji Kasuyo or one of his officers to be waiting for them. A maimed Daidoji bushi,* Daidoji Kiri*, came instead. He informed the Paragons that Kasuyo was a little out of his environment, dealing with some troublesome local monks that resided on one of the major islands. They were not only willing to relocate, they weren’t even happy to provide a roof to the heimin workers laying the foundations for the first bridges and docks. Replacing him he left Doji Rikki, the first and only magistrate of Bakufu. Turns out even Rikki heard the call of duty, after reports about a fugitive hiding on the ruined castle in the middle of the Lake – a fugitive that was none other but Ideko, the last scion of the Senzo.

Deciding to wait for the magistrate at the nearest of the hub zones – Mikan’s Gray zone and it’s village, Hidden Elk – then Paragons were visited by a mysterious giant in Kaiu armor and accompanied by a large dog-wolf. This man, *Kuni Takan, requests an audience with an figure of authority. He then tells Mikan that there were hanged bodies on the castle.

The Paragons make way towards the castle, were they find the corpses of Daidoji and Doji yokiri and Doji Rikki hanged like a heimin criminal. They also find the corpses of four bandits that felt battling the magistrate and his men. There are no signs of any living being on the castle, and Takan urges the Paragons not to linger at this place.

Returning to Hidden Elk, the Paragons feel divided. Daidoji Kiri is very upset, seeing this as an affront to the Celestial Order and every samurai, but a very deliberate and cutting one to the Crane clan and the Doji family. Mikan disagrees that this demands her attention, and both delegates delivering justify and satisfying honor to Daidoji Kiri – raising him to acting magistrate. She then retreats for tea in the company of Shosuro Miki and Asako Manabu’s, composing a letter to later inform Doji Raigu about these events. Mikan also examines the accounts of the taxes, finding out that more than 100 koku, about 25% of the food produced during the year were taken by ronin. Tansaku Ryobe, Asako Inu, Matsu Susumara and Kakita Naomi joined Kiri in hunting down the responsible for this blasphemy.

They found Otomo Ideko, hiding in a cave. She wasn’t alone, accompanied by a one-harmed man in Dragon colors, carrying the most beautiful blade they ever saw. Ideko was unfit, sick and in the middle of an epileptic attack. The man presented himself as Ikko, and was adamant that he didn’t want to hurt anyone but will not anyone touch Ideko. After confronting the Paragons about their injustice to the Senzo, specially Mikan and Naomi, Inu manages to get them “house arrested on the cave.” Ikko promises he isn’t going anywhere.

Following another trail, they find five groups around oxens carrying massive amount of rice, bandits in a variety of armors and colors. A woman in Lion armor captures their attention…

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Interlude

Dreams are forgotten with harsh reality.

Doji Mizobu, the Crane Champion died due to Spring Fever after returning from Kyuden Bayushi, leaving Doji Raigu to assume his role as leader of the Crane clan. Hida Tadaka, the Crab Champion, was a fitting match and the war needed all of Raigu’s attention.

The project of Bakufu laid forgotten.

The young Paragons of the Alliance continued their mission, aimless and leaderless, inefficient and on their separate ways.

Matsu Susumara defeated the household guard of House Senzo with brutal efficiency, killing Seppun Bekon with a single cut. Sadly, Kyabetsu’s wife, Otomo Mikka, escaped during the combat. For her services Susumara was awarded a magistrate position at Toshi Ranbo. After a few years there, she handed it back to House Kagami; Matsu Onohime saw fit to hand such position to Matsu Hanadaire.

Doji Mikan was good as courtier as expected, and worked tirelessly to gain supporters for the Clan War. When Senzo Suyho was found hiding amongst the Isawa, Mikan was the one tasked with getting him back. Facing Isawa disgruntled with the Shiba authority and the Alliance, Mikan persuaded them that marrying the young Suyho into the Isawa was not enough to erase the taint of treachery. Not pleased, the Isawa finally accepted and the young man was executed. For her services the Nobuyuki received Far Paddy Village near Dragon lands – an old Senzo holding; House Nobuyuki moved there in exile.

Kakita Naomi was tasked with hunting down Otomo Annin. It was a long chase, not because the young Matsu-trained Otomo was running away or hiding, but because she was on a quest on her own; chasing a thief that had the audacity to steal from the Miya. Naomi finally waylaid Otomo Annin when she was returning from the Islands of Spice and Silk; the Crane was surprised by how pleasant Annin was. They dueled and Annin committed seppuku; as a final request, Annin asked Naomi to deliver the stolen propriety and the head of the thief – an helm, which the dead thief was still wearing. Naomi was later awarded a position as magistrate at Ryoko Owari, but she never stepped in the city: the position was taken by a not-so-pleased Kakita Shino.

Asako Inu was given free rein to wander Rokugan, which he used to help others across the Emrald Empire – and increase the reputation of the Triple Alliance. He saved so many lives that Doji Raigu and the Asako family greately increased the stippend of House Hattori. As such, both Inu and his House had a small windfall. Inu his also one of the few Paragons which is universaly accepted – even by those that hate the Alliance.

Shosuro Miki followed Shosuro Rio in a tour across the Empire, sponsored by the Scorpion Champion himself. At each castle, palace or city they stopped, Rio actors acted for the influent while Miki catered to their desires and greed. Soon she had not only a nice network of information and blackmail for Bayushi Atsuki, she had found three excellent servants that would help her in the future.

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Prelude-The Fall of the Gozoku

Session 2

Otosan Uchi, 4-12th of Togashi

Over a week the young group of samurai investigates many strange events. A matchmaker, Tansaku Ryobe, gets involved after meeting with Soshuro Miki, an encounter with undisclosed details.

Miki dug a lot about the upcoming event, learning that the list of guest wasn’t limited to Doji Raigu’s hostages: many provincial daimyos and their katos would risk Winter to attend, as would Shiba Gaijushiko, the Imperial Scribe and the regent of the Otomo daimyo, Otomo Tohojatsu.

Kakita Naomi faced the cold of Winter to find her older brother, Katsura, unable to stop thinking on words half-said the previous day. Her voyage cost her a nasty cold, but she learned that Katsura expected her to be soon invited to join the Shinsen-Gumi – something that he saw with apprehension.

Asako Inu, trying to stay away from the courtiers and close to the refugees. Still, the warning of Otomo Kyabetsu was fresh on his mind, and he inquired around about the magistrate. Inu learns that Otomo Kyabetsu is part of the influential Senzo family, that has many holdings and magistrate positions all across Rokugan. He also finds that Kyabetsu is an Otomo from marriage and his origin is unknown.

Otomo Tohojatsu is an uncle of emperor Hantei Fujiwa, and regent for the Otomo daimyo. He is a very sick man, with a frail mind and forgetful. He seems to have a very positive on-look on the Triple Alliance and likes to see the Great Clans working together.

Not satisfied, Inu looks into another source of information: In the privacy of his quarters, Inu asks for the help of the air kami. The explosion of laughter and sound is a bite disturbing, very unlike the water kami he prefers to deal with. Still, he manages to keep the kami entertained enough to get some interesting tidy-bits from them: It seems there are many whispers amongst those courtiers that have been here for “some time” and they are all “sad, angry and afraid”, specially the “ones on yellow and green”. They also say that everyone is whispering about that “nasty business with all foolish mortals killing themselves, the princess lady and the one-armed man.”

Doji Mikan tried to obtain an audience with Doji Raigu. Asako Inu, Asako Manabu, Asako Masami are having tea with the Emerald Champion and she is invited to join. They have a pleasant time, and Manabu learns between words what Raigu plants to do with all the hard work he and Masami have put together: he is trying to seize some land in a lawful way. Inu makes a small plea for rice that goes ignored and Doji Mikan slips a letter to Doji Raigu: a letter detailing the findings of Otomo Kyabetsu and his suspicions.

The day of the event finally arrived, and everyone move to the playhouse near Doji Raigu’s estate. Doji Raigu seems to have reacted to Doji Mikan’s letter by closing all the streets to and out of the quarter. All the guests are very interested, not in the play itself- an endeavor of mediocre quality – but on the new improvements made upon the building and the application of three stages and multiples corridors to kabuki. Doji Raigu and Shiba Gaijushiko seem to have created an additional measure of safety: a balcony full of guards with no visible access.

The play goes on, dreadfully, until the entrance of a humongous actor playing a Crab – no wonder, considering he must’ve been the tallest man in Rokugan. He enters the stage and interrupts the play, jumping and slamming his tetsubo. While the guests panic and their yojimbos try to defend them, Naomi and Matsu Susumara try to engage the “Crab”; a well placed call to the Earth kami by Inu probably saved a few innocent lives. A hidden trapdoor installed during the latest addition opens on the roof, and a shugenja and a mysterious archer appear. They disable the combatants and try to assassinate not Doji Raigu but Otomo Tohojatsu. And arrow flies and pints the old courtier to the ground.

Inu rushes and heals Tohojatsu of his wounds and any possible poison that might be on his poison. Mikan rushes to the arrow, and using the unique secret skills of her family, sees the face of the archer assassin. Naomi rushes in pursuit of the shugenja and the archer, while Susumara and other yojimbos finish the “Crab”.

Unable to catch with the assassins, Naomi returns to see Doji Raigu challenging Otomo Kyabetsu; like everyone of the kuge, he only half-explains his reasons, upon implications and brash words blaming the attempt on Otomo Tohojatsu as one of his plots. A duel to the death ensues, and after a karmic strike that leaves Doji Raigu bloodied and Kyabetsu on the ground dying. Doji Raigu calls the Imperial Scribe and declares House Senzo and its head Kyabetsu traitors, their names to be purged, lives extinguished and proprieties seized. Raigu refuses to land the last strike, ordering Kakita Katsura to do it.

Doji Raigu then turns his attention to the young samurai involved in the plot. Otomo Ideko, Kyabetsu’s yoriki and niece, throws herself at Raigu’s mercy. She pleads they are innocent, involved in the plot by her fault. Raigu orders her to be arrested and executed on the morning; him and his Shinsen-gumi take the young samurai to his office.

There he reveals that these young samurai are living Paragons of the exalted virtues of the Triple Alliance; they are to serve as a perfect representation of what the Gozoku stand for. As they accept this, Raigu gives them their first mission: to find the last members of House Senzo and anyone that is helping them escape justice. Doji Raigu promises this is only closing loose end: he reveals a model of Bakufu – a city of the future. And he hopes the young samurai will help making it a reality.

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Prelude - The Fall of the Gozoku
Prelude

Session 1

Otosan Uchi, 3rd of Togashi

While the Emperor Hantei Fujiwa is attending Winter Court at Kyuden Bayushi, enjoying the best hospitality and entertainment Bayushi Atsuki can offer, Doji Raigu holds his own event, in an attempt to heal pretty recent wounds: Rokugan is still trying to understand why would the Emperor order the summary sepukku of so many honorable samurai for “crimes against the fundamental dogmas of Bushido” and many start to see this sad event and the ongoing Clan War as evidence of the weakening of Hantei power. In order to prevent rebellion against the Emperor and/or the Gozoku, Doji Raigu is providing Winter Court for hostages of all the Great Clans, trying both to keep their families in check and indoctrinate them into proper lord-vassal relationships.

Albeit they themselves are not hostages of the Triple Alliance, a group of young samurai find themselves besieged by Destiny; finding themselves at the Bright Wind geisha house on this fateful day due to different circumstances. Shosuro Miki and Kakita Naomi accompanied their lords to the geisha house, in order to protect them and spy on their doings; Shosuro Rio, the decadently handsome second son of the Shosuro Daimyo and would-be-actor arranged a meeting with the thrice-cursed Kakita Kotsuki, whose only virtue worth of praise would be her nice personality (because grazing cows never hurt anyone). The scholar Asako Manabu attached himself to the couple, hoping to catch Rio with his guard low and persuade him to use his leverage so that the Shosuro daimyo would offer Manabu important law treaties that could help Doji Raigu in a secret project that is very sensible to Imperial law. Ill fated Matsu Susumara is at this fine geisha house against her will, following her lecherous old lord Matsu E-yama and ensuring no incidents happen due to his sak√© abuse. Doji Mikan is also visiting the Bright Wind, but with a lower profile: her family lost their village to Crab attackers and succor is nowhere to be found; the young courtier and her father called for Doji Raigu’s intervention, but Mikan’s father upset Doji Raigu so much that he joined the ranks of his “guests”, leaving the fate of her family on Mikan’s shoulders. When a mysterious Otomo named Ideko asks to meet Mikan in secret at the geisha house, Mikan follows, believing an opportunity is to be found. Sadly, no Imperial woman appears to meet her. At last, Asako Inu is just there on a rare moment of pleasure, following strange advice from his cousin – “You will want to be there”.

The private business of these samurai was interrupted by Otomo Kyabetsu, a magistrate of Otosan Uchi, accompanied by his yoriki Otomo Ideko and a squad of Seppun Legionnaires. He states that there might be associates of the samurai present that are involved in a traitorous plot against the Empire; as honorable law-abiding samurai he expects them to come with him to the magistrate station and help him with his investigations. His lofty arrogant behavior makes this “request” pretty forceful, instead of following the proper channels of sending a letter requesting a private meeting. While Asako Manabu uses his knowledge of lore and fine etiquette to get himself excused due to more urgent duties, the rest decides not to openly antagonize a powerful Otomo.

At the magistrate station a private meeting was arranged, Kyabetsu explaining that there is a plot to murder Doji Raigu in an event that will transpire next week. He isn’t aware who is planning such heinous crime, but it has to be someone inside Doji Raigu’s estate. He also points out that while the young samurai’s lord’s status as hostages might make their warnings about this plot of dubious honesty, these young samurai are almost invisible and don’t have their freedom restricted. After warning the young samurai not to do anything on their own or try to stop any conspirator, Kyabetsu asks for them to keep open eyes and ears, looking out for anything suspicious.

After releasing the young samurai from their duties to the law, they had their first meeting with Doji Raigu’s militia: the Shinsen-Gumi. Albeit polite, they were there to escort the samurai for breaking curfew. Back at Doji Raigu’s estate, the samurai were pretty unsure what to make of such unorthodox events.

A massive event is officially announced for next week, validating Kyabetsu’s words. Rumors abound about what will transpire there. Out of loyalty to the clan, Asako Inu updates Asako Manabu on what happened at Kyabetu’s station, not betraying his word to the powerful magistrate. Shosuro Miki finds Rio’s behavior suspicious and strings the young Shosuro, learning that he is involved in a new play about the Yasuki treason of the Crane clan and his problems dealing with a multi-playwright script full of sudden changes and with the urgent need to expand his cast – with actors recommended by Otomo Kyabetsu. Doji Mikan arranges a private meeting with Kakita Naomi and Matsu Susumara; under the guise of futile conversation of feminine persuasion, they discuss the rudeness of Kyabetsu, his odd request and what to do about it. Mikan has her own ideas, but both the Kakita and the Matsu young women refrain from showing more than neutral acknowledgment.

And the week before the event goes on…

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Welcome to your Adventure Log!
A blog for your campaign

Every campaign gets an Adventure Log, a blog for your adventures!

While the wiki is great for organizing your campaign world, it’s not the best way to chronicle your adventures. For that purpose, you need a blog!

The Adventure Log will allow you to chronologically order the happenings of your campaign. It serves as the record of what has passed. After each gaming session, come to the Adventure Log and write up what happened. In time, it will grow into a great story!

Best of all, each Adventure Log post is also a wiki page! You can link back and forth with your wiki, characters, and so forth as you wish.

One final tip: Before you jump in and try to write up the entire history for your campaign, take a deep breath. Rather than spending days writing and getting exhausted, I would suggest writing a quick “Story So Far” with only a summary. Then, get back to gaming! Grow your Adventure Log over time, rather than all at once.

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