It is the twilight of the fourteenth century. For two decades, Emperor Hiroto I has wielded the might of the Empire against enemies without and within. When the Ivory Kingdoms and the people of the Burning Sands in the West pushed back against the rightful might of the Empire, he marched onto their lands and revealed his divine might. The battleplains are stained with the blood of thousands. Forests burned. Fields salted. Katanas remained out of their scabbards.
As the months became years, the clans grew weary. Seditious whispers could be heard across the courts. Priests spoke parables of peace and the despair of the Kami. Old feuds flared up. Rokugan soil once again saw civil war.
So the Emperor abandoned his campaign and returned home.
The war shook the very soul of Rokugan. The Emperor fought his own sons and daughters. The youngest was butchered in battle. His fairest daughter choked on poison. His wisest cast from a cliff. The twins killed each other. In fear the vassals of his second delivered him unto the Emperor. Their bloodline no longer exists. The heir, Kenichi, the Emperor slew in a duel.
It is said the Kami themselves cried out when his head hit the ground. The Divine line had ended. After seven years since his return, Emperor Hitoro looked upon his kingdom and what had become of it.
Hitoro entered his palace and sealed himself in meditation. He will announce what is to become of the Imperial line after Winter.
The courts are aflutter. It is a foregone conclusion the Seppun family will be nominated to lead. They have been the attendants to the Imperial line since their inception. Still licking their wounds and rebuilding from the strife, the clans rush to curry favour with the next leaders.
The Emperor emerges from his isolation and points at Miya Haruki, the Clan champion of the messenger clan. The Miya had always been a small clan who served as messengers and advisors to the Empire. The shock surprised no one more than Haruki himself.
Within days, the Emperor, weary of this life, burdened by infanticide and tired of rage, surrenders his mantle to Haruki. He shaves his head and vanishes into a monastery to await his final sunrise.
Last year, Emperor Heiwa Haruki, first of his name, became divine. Heiwa Haruki is an advocate of the old ways. When a man could be measured by his word and deed and not the gold in his treasury. When bushido brought glory and not senseless war. When the Kami were honored and the people treated with compassion. After decades of economic collapse and near constant war, these are lofty ideals indeed.
As youths this is the Rokugan you find yourself stepping into. You have heard the old tales, the age of the romantic samurai. You are children of the age of Miya.
The year is 1397 and Rokugan is a very different place.
When Hiroto Hantei began his campaign in the west, across the Burning Sands and Ivory Kingdoms he pulled a lot of resources away from the Empire for many years. When the civil war broke out it took a further seven years before a single day of no campaigning took place. Many samurai had no time to understand their culture, their clan traditions or their religions obligations before taking up the sword into combat.
The times have become more modern, they say. While the warriors warred the people at home either worked themselves to death or adapted. The Merchant class has risen in power as they had the resources to rescue financially crippled daimyos. Samurai themselves have become more open about the use of money and power is being measured in the profit of one’s lands more than in the cultivation of perfection. Adherence to the full code of Bushido has diminished greatly, seen by many as a luxury ill-afforded in these times. War also breeds ronin, bandits and opportunists and crime is rife across the lands.