Sengoku Amahara

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Sengoku Jidai: an age of chaos and violence in the history of Amahara when samurai clans and their daimyo lords vied for supremacy over the shattered dominon. This is the story of a certain clan's rise or fall.

Useful Pages

Sengoku Amahara: Heroic Rules
The "main" part of the game - character creation and such.

Sengoku Amahara: Tactical Rules
The rules for battles with armies and stuff.

Sengoku Amahara: Strategic Rules
The rules for managing holdings and stuff.

A Brief History of Amahara#Early Shogunate Era
A look at the historic period.

A Basic Guide to Honorifics
A look at heirarchy and etiquette.

Magic in the World of Amahara
Information on magical paradigm.

Sengoku Amahara: Roll of Heroes
The characters, both player and not.

Background

Azuma Shogunate

Over two centuries ago, the greatest war hero of shogunate times, Azuma Hatsunari, defeated the final invasion of the seemingly inexhaustible Rouran hordes. Since then, he and his descendents have ruled the Dominion of Amahara as the Azuma shogunate. Following precedent, the Azuma dynasty relocated to the traditional capital of Aki and it made its mark by building a new palace in the vicinity of the Grand Shrine of Aki, though actual administration was done from Ayanami Castle half a day's ride away. Having held the seat of power for over two centuries, the Azuma shogunate has lasted longer than either of its predecessors, the Watatsuki and the Takamachi. For the first century and a half, the rule of the Azuma was severe but effective. This changed during the second century with the birth of twin brothers Yoshihichi and Yoshikira and circumstances that led later to dispute as to who was actually the firstborn. The decision of the shogun to split the family into two branches to accomodate the brothers proved to have enormous longterm repercussions.

Division

Within a generation, the clan was riven by an intractable rivalry and the dynasty's political effectiveness and legitimacy wavered. The two branches occupied opposing north and south keeps of Ayanami Castle, separated by a complex fitted with nightingale floors that was said to be the most heavily guarded place on the Nine Islands. Although violence was forbidden in the castle itself, brawls and armed combat broke out between retainers of the two sides in the vicinity of the capital. Outside the capital, the numerous clans of Amahara's samurai society waited silently, declaring for one side, the other, or none at all, all quietly preparing for the worst.

As years passed, not only household samurai but thugs, mercenaries, ronin and violently competing religious sects joined the fray in the name of one side or the other. The death toll mounted ever higher as daily skirmishes turned the district into a war zone. Commoners fled for fear of their lives, leaving the capital a smouldering husk. In 1503, having suffered a series of setbacks in the fighting, the Southern Azuma called on their vassals, the outlying Katsuragi clan for additional men. This set off a chain of escalations that then truly spiraled out of control. Within the year, general warfare had spread across the whole of the dominion. In the middle of it all, the rival branches of the Azuma struggled bitterly on, barely aware of their sudden irrelevance as their petty dispute drowned in the sea of conflict.

Incident at Ayanami Castle

On the 16th day of the 8th month of the 4th year of Mukyu (1544), the entire households of both main branches of the Azuma clan were assassinated within Ayanami Castle despite the protection of the nightingale floor. Only two of the daughters – one on each side – may have survived as their bodies were not found. Speculation is still rife as to who the culprit is though it is thought that only the head of one of the five great ninja clans or a god could have accomplished such a thing. No one is sure yet, but immediate and bloody fighting has torn the remains of the clan apart, put the capital to flames and left a massive power vacuum in the rest of the country.

Social Classes

The Samurai

The dominant power in the turmoil of Amaharan politics is the strength collectively held by the samurai. Although the wise daimyo makes it his business to be versed in administration and puts competent deputies in administrative positions, the rule of the samurai is primarily based on force of arms backed by the holding of land in a complex net of feudal relations and clan loyalties. At the center of this web is the shogunal clan which holds government in the capital of Aki and obligations of loyalty, directly or indirectly, from all other clans. Normally, the dynasty in this position is the most powerful clan in the domain and will have all the necessary tools to keep it that way. Since the overthrow of direct rule by the priestesses, three clans have established shogunates: the Watatsuki, the Takamachi and most recently, the Azuma.

In theory, the Shogun is charged only with the conduct of military affairs on behalf of Amahara's theocratic government. In practice however, he holds all temporal reigns of power except what limitations he faces from the machinations of the rest of the notoriously self-interested samurai class. The Azuma clan has held the supreme position for over two centuries. The last third of that reign has been marred by internal strife, giving their nominal subordinates a correspondingly greater freedom of action. The implosion of Azuma clan's position since 1503 has thrown the daimyo almost entirely to their own devices.

Samurai may be male or female and are the primary source of professional troops for most clans. Yet, every vassal has his own agenda; most clans find it hard to fully muster the men they should be able to on paper at any given time. Moreover, one's relations with important subordinates and the samurai class in general must be carefully managed as disgruntled vassals are very dangerous.

The Shrines

Shinto is the native faith of Amahara, a religion of animism that sees its nine million gods inhabiting each and every process and existence of the universe. The land of Amahara is dotted by thousands upon thousands of shrines dedicated to the gods, ranging from tiny monuments by the roadside to vast complexes ensconced in wilderness. These shrines are managed by the shrine maidens who reached their zenith in the Classical era. They have fared less well since then, losing much ground to the newer continental faith of Buddhism.

The Grand Shrine of Aki is the spiritual capital of all Amahara and Shinto. At the center of Shinto's earthly cosmology is the Apostle, a girl selected by the priestesses through a complex battery of mystical and astrological tests. The person of the Apostle enshrines Kaguya, Amahara's divine founding mother. However, actual power in this faction is held by the Grand Chamberlain who is usually a former Apostle. While mostly devoted to religious affairs, the clergy observe and participate in temporal events in order to better safeguard their shrines' wealth and traditional powers.

With respect to their rival religion, Shinto and Buddhism have far more overlap in terms of adherents than the hardliners on either side would like to admit, to the extent it could be considered normal to observe both. However, Shinto has never been particularly populist like some sects of Buddhism and have no equivalent to the vast forces of warrior monks some temples can field.

The Temples

Buddhism is the newer of the two major religions of Amahara. Unlike Shinto, Buddhism has no living paramount leader and its sects are far more contentious, frequently engaging in all out battle with each other for supremacy and influence in the courts of the daimyo. On the other hand, as a result of its populist nature, there are far more warrior monks than there are warrior shrine maidens. The largest Buddhist sects have the armed forces, fortified temples and land holdings to easily rival some great clans.

The Ninja Clans

According to their own legends, the Izayoi ninja clan was founded by Kaguya herself. She asked three students what the most important thing was to teach a child destined for power. The first answered "strength", the second "tactics", and the third "contradictions" and it was that third answer that most pleased the moon princess, for the world of power is full of contradictions. Prosperity demands peace, but peace demands war; honor demands victory, but victory demands dishonor. There are many things that samurai must not do that must be done and things that should not be considered that must be considered. This niche of contradictions is filled by the ninja.

Foundation myths aside, the five ninja clans first became renowned during the Shogunate era, providing needed services to samurai during conflicts. They are technically samurai (given they support armed professionals) but they are viewed as being beneath the samurai proper, being fundamentally mercenaries and called shinobi by other samurai. The ninja clans hold a few territories and hidden fortresses but mostly mingle with ordinary peasant or town life in their regions where they often hold key trade monopolies to sustain themselves. They deal in information and work for any side that pays but are of course concerned with protecting themselves as well. Their lineages are thought to be based principly on master, student and adoption – more like martial arts schools than clans.

The Bandits

Bandits with a capital B are usually one way or another disenfranchised samurai. They have bands of supporting small b bandits. Although outlaws they are notable in that they know perfectly well how to fight, may hold sway with local lords, and will take proactive steps to protect their turf if necessary. There can be a sliding scale between Bandit and Lord in some locales. Some are P for Pirates.

The Peasants

Peasants working the land are the primary source of wealth for the samurai class. When beset by natural disasters, misfortune, or heavy taxation, even the low and downtrodden have the potential to rebel. Peasants without support from neighbouring lords, clerics or someone else with military experience are usually fairly easy to put down but they do have to be put down and either way everyone suffers economically. In more recent times, such disparates as peasants, local land owners, merchants, ronin and clerics have formed Ikki coalitions with defense of livelihoods from battling warlords as an initial reason.

The Merchants

Merchants are technically ranked lower than peasants on the social ladder since they produce no actual goods themselves. Like peasants, merchants are a source of wealth to overlords but also have strong self interests that they may defend with the considerable influence and force that money can buy. Of all Amaharans, merchants may be the most keen to look over the horizon beyond the seas and trade with foreign markets.

The Ainyuu

The Ainyuu catgirls dwell to the north, mostly in the bitterly cold land of Ezo to which they were driven centuries ago. The early Azuma shogunate was militarily very successful against these barbarians but with the civil war, the Ainyuu have quickly rebounded. Although the two sides share some roots, the Ainyuu are not by any means Amaharan and have absolutely no intention of bowing to Amaharan lords or economic dependency. Although their numbers are few and their lands generally poor, Ainyuu have significant home field advantages and are more likely to be conducting raids on the encroaching Amaharan settlements than to suffer reversals in their own territory. They are great foresters and have strong archery traditions.

Geography

According to the oldest traditions, the land of Amahara is the land closest to the heavens, with nine islands and ninety-nine provinces. Since early times, these have been taken as numbers designated the heavenly gods. One could say they are the administrative divisions defined within a constitution. As the borders of Amahara have contracted and expanded over time, this definition has been continually re-interpreted. Currently, minor islands include Akatsuki (72-74), Genmunokojima (7), Sadogashima (93), Ama-iwato (98) and Hyoudo (99). Significant islands are Hatashu (75-86), Rokukoku (1-6), Nanka (87-92) and of course the main island of Honriku.

Honriku

The main landmass with by far the greatest population and surface area.

Saichi

The western peninsula.

Rokukoku

The most heavily populated island besides Honriku itself. Traditional port of call for Middle Kingdom and Sillan ships.

Hatashu

The second largest island of Amahara, Hatashu is excessively mountainous and covered in rainforest but the northern band facing the inland sea is quite populated and home to numerous clans. Home to endemic megafauna!

Nanka

The island of Nanka is quite removed from the central politics of Honriku – so removed that it was once considered a place of exile. It has a large number of volcanoes and experiences many earthquakes.

Genmunokojima

The smallest island among the Nine Islands and the gateway between Rokukoku and Honriku.

Sadogashima

Sado Island retains the ancient dignity of being one of Amahara's Nine Islands. Its quiet yet colossal forests remain controlled by the ancient Horou clan.

Ama-iwato

The stone of Ama-iwato is white. Every winter, the sky snows constantly and it piles up as high as the treetops. In spring, it all melts, forming vast caverns and torrential underground rivers as the water carves into the soft rock.

Akatsuki

The easternmost island of Amahara, Akatsuki has been known since ancient times but remain distant from political affairs. Its lands are divided into three based on its three grand shrines.

Hyoudo

Although even the lands of Ezo to the north have productive summers, the island of Hyoudo reputedly never thaws and is eternally locked beneath the ice. This is supposedly because it is the entrance to the northern hell of ice.

Factions

The Azuma Clan

Still nominally the holders of the shogunate, the two competing branches are in dire straits but should not be discounted entirely.

Southern Azuma

The Southern Azuma are the descendents of Azuma Yoshihichi. They are named for the southern wing of Ayanami Castle. At the present moment, with the leadership of the clan destroyed, the reins are probably being held by a number of cousins of the former lord without any clear idea who has or will have ultimate control unless the missing daughter, Azuma Fuuki were to be found alive. Given the circumstances, it is perfectly plausible that those recently thrust into power would rather have her found dead.

Katsuragi
An outlying vassal in the capital region that Azuma Yoshihichi called on for support in February 1503. This was the move that led to general warfare breaking out across the dominion.

Northern Azuma

The Northern Azuma are the descendents of Azuma Yoshikira. They are presently tenuously led by Yuuhime who survived on account visiting her maiden family at the time. The clan previously held the initiative against their rivals but have abandoned it, redirecting all resources to find her missing daughter, Azuma Chiri.

Great Clans

Asahina

The birth clan of the current Apostle. Sensing the weakness of the shogunate, the Grand Shrine of Aki attempted to cultivate the powerful Asahina clan as allies who had a firm hold on the strategic East Highway. Instead, Asahina Mikuhatsu built a friendship with Yuuhime of the Northern Azuma as well and appears unlikely to commit to any drastic action.

Daidouji

The Daidouji clan de facto broke off from the shogunate's control decades ago and its network of allies and vassals now dominate the eastern side of the outlying Saichi peninsula. While the late former master trusted his eastern flank with hostage exchanges and the impregnable Kyobu Castle, the current hot-headed leader seems intent on massing the hosts and going for glory.

Emiya

When the Tokiha clan summoned its vassals for a flimsily pretensed war of expansionism on Honriku, Emiya gained broad support from others on Hatashu and broke off. They emerged from a massive war, with its host of allies and vassals, as by far the largest force on the island dominating a strong central position. While the Tokiha also won on their end, bad blood from this incident has dominated relations for the past thirty years.

Izumi

The third and smallest major clan in the north, Izumi broke free early in the Sengoku period after neighbouring (and now enemy) Ogiue and an impromptu local alliance of plotters destroyed their liege. Izumi is famous for both its leader and heirs, making full use of their limited resources to turn back the Ogiue time and time again.

Komeiji

Traditional, long ruling independent lords of tiny Genmunokojima, the recent members of the Komeiji line has put charm and marriage to great use in assembling a small empire that straddles three of the Nine Islands whilst hardly shedding a drop of blood.

Kotobukiya

Formerly a minor vassal, the Kotobukiya clan stabbed their lord in the back in splendid fashion and has consolidated a strong southwestern position but seems to have little interest in advancing far from their oddly pirate-free port.

Ogiue

A clan that, like many, were former vassals of a centrally located master that de facto broke off in independence in 1503. Now famed for their heavy cavalry and the courage and prowess of its troops, Ogiue has been decidedly outplayed by both its neighbours in recent events and was forced to conclude a peace treaty with Takamachi in order to turn full resources on their infuriating rival to the north.

Sakuraba

The vassal of the distant Sakura clan which was unable to protect them, the Sakuraba clan were attacked several years ago by the much larger Kamio clan on pretext of supporting the ascendant Northern Azuma but accidentally defeated them and many others. Aggression against the once small clan has died off as no one is certain what to expect from their leader. They could be poised to march on the capital from the north.

Shishido

Biding their time from across Lake Miwa, the ancient and holy Shishido clan has expanded its position in the inland valley counties and taken a foothold on the North Highway well west of the Sakuraba territory but it can't be long before they make their real move.

Takamachi

The Takamachi clan were the holders of the last shogunate and the formerly the feudal superior of the Azuma clan itself. Although noticeably weaker in terms of wealth and numbers of men than either individual branch of the Azuma, the Takamachi were able to avoid confrontation whilst they destroyed each other and have emerged from the Incident at Ayanami Castle as perhaps the most powerful great clan in Amahara. They hold a single influential fortress near Aki while their main land holdings are better consolidated in the north. Among their leaders is Takamachi Hanako who, though young, has a reputation as a legendary warrior.

Tokiha

Tokiha expanded aggressively from its sheltered peninsular homeland on the south of Honriku, in the pretext of aiding the Northern Azuma but its vassal, the Emiya clan, broke off as a result. The Tokiha clan has thus far avoided marching in the direction of the capital but no real resistance stands between them and the Southern Azuma fortress of Narusegawa. The only problem is the atmosphere of bad blood with their traitorous former vassal over the Inland Sea.

Uiharu

Long the largest clan on divided Rokukoku, Uiharu fended off a major combined assault decades ago resulting in a draw but the current head is untested and views the gains of Komeiji nearby with suspicion.

Urashima

The Urashima are the only clan on Nanka that could be counted as major. Like many others, they were exiled there centuries ago though they were likewise rehabilitated by the Azuma court. Supposedly at peace with its neighbours as a first among equals.

Other Clans

Horou
An ancient clan that continues to hold Sadogashima.

Great Shrines

Hiiragi Taisha

Great Temples

The Five Ninja Clans

Izayoi

The Izayoi clan claims to be the tutelary descendents of the mythical Kaguya which would make them the oldest ninja clan by far. It seems that they indeed have deep connections with the priestess establishment and are technically holy nobility. In terms of overt forces and land, they are thought to be the largest, having a base near the capital region. Their headquarters is Izayoi Taisha, a fortified mountain shrine some distance to the south. A legend surrounds them that they died out in 9 Kansho, during the Rouran Invasion, only to reemerge mysteriously 99 years later.

Kuga

A great ninja clan founded during classical antiquity and the traditional rivals of the Izayoi. The Kuga clan maintain a strict policy of professional neutrality as well as unswerving loyalty once a transaction has been made. It is said even husband and wife would unhesitatingly kill each other if they happened to end up on opposing sides but that the clan elders are so well informed that this would never happen unless they wished it as a test. They are based somewhere in eponymous Kuga province north of the capital. Several Kuga ninja served as bodyguards in Ayanami Castle and were found slain there.

Homura

A clan hailing from the north that was founded probably around the turn of the 12th century. They are the only ones to recruit non-Amaharans in any number and makes use of their skills to form a niche. Many clans, especially those in the region, employ them as scouts, though they do the usual spread of sabotage, infiltration and assassination as well.

Kajiura

The Kajiura are a clan of mysterious and ancient origin. They were exiled by Watatsuki-no-Hikaru five hundred years ago to remote Nanka where they remain primarily based to this day. They returned during the Rouran Invasions to offer their services to Azuma Hatsunari who accepted and revoked their exile. They are known for terrifying secret techniques and are feared as assassins.

Nanri

Founded early during the Takamachi shogunate, the Nanri are the youngest of the five clans. They are based mostly in the south and west but extend throughout, operating brothels and gambling houses as well as having connections to merchants and shipping ports. As a result, they have access to a great deal of information as well as assassination opportunities.