Legend of the Five Rings
-- The Clan Wars Start --
Jim's summary of the opening session of the L5R campaign, which opens as strange omens and portents draw many samurai to Otosan-Uchi, the imperial city.
Session 1 - summary
Daidoji Akita, a Crane warrior (Kevin);
Togashi Mosaki, a Dragon warrior (Grant);
Akodo Juichi, a Lion warrior (Andy)
Ide Ishiro, a Unicorn shugenja (Andrew).
This detail is common knowledge amongst the characters
After a thousand years of peace, the importal line of the Hantei Emperors has been abruptly brought to an end by one of his most trusted and beloved advisors. Bayushi Shoju, clan champion of the Scorpion clan. The scorpion appear to have no motive, nor no reason for this action. It appears that several Legions of Scorpion clan samurai now occupy the captial city of the Emerald Empire, Otosan-uchi (exact numbers unknown).
On the night of the coup a great plume of lightning erupted from the top of the Palace, which is on top of a hill surrounded by a potent magical sactuary zone known as the Forbidden city. This has brought many loyal folowers of the Emperor to the walls of the city. This force is growing daily.
The first events were off camera, but are now known to the players. It seems a Taisa of the Buke caste (the same caste as the players, above merchant but below high-noble) had just entered the North gate as the events began. Her troops tell you she fought off the Scorpion and kept the gate open as long as she could, allowing hundreds of the poorest citizens of the city to flee as well as a few hundred wealthy merchants and a few Buke caste administrators for the nearby districts. With only 500 men she was eventually outnumbered and forced to leave the gate. She camped to the West of the North gate on the nearby hill of the first Kami, where legend has it the children of the sun and moon first gathered after their fall from heaven. There is a temple here, and a large shrine. The monks were glad to provide food and tend to the injured. The temple was soon lost in a sea of tents, but is visible within the camp and known to be the site of the hospital.
The brave Phoenix clan Taisa is called Shiba Tsukune, she is a pretty woman with long straight black hair and appears to have earned the respect of the assembled ragtag army because of her knack for tactics, the Akodo rumour that she appears to quote elements from their own schooling in her speeches. To her south is a large river, and there is no easy way to cross it for several miles (without going through the city), as such she has no idea what is going on to the South. It is commonly whispered among the troops that she might have even been trained in the famed Akodo College of War. Many Akodo, Imperial Legionaires from the roads and a few from the North gate, Tortoise clan samurai and other miscelaneous samurai have flocked to Shiba Tsukune's banner. They are without their own leadership and claim that they can't follow the recent Kuge caste (high-noble) Rikugunshokan and clan champion simply because their clan mates swore to Shiba Tsukune before he had arrived and it would be dishonourable to switch alliegance.
Shiba Tsukune rested for only a short time before launching a simple offensive against the walls of the city, intending only to keep the scorpion from spilling out and occupying the surrounding lands. Shiba Tsukune did her plan for two full days, and watched the gates for signs of Scorpion sneakiness through the night without risking her troops. Her intention was to stall the Scorpion and keep her men alive long enough for reinforcements to arrive. It worked ... but she didn't get the help she wanted
The Unicorn arrive. Shiba Tsukune has only a thousand men all told, the Unicorn arrive with four full legions, including a full Legion of Otaku Battle-maidens their clans elite cavalry unit. Thats 5000 Cavalry Samurai and 15000 Ashigaru (merchant caste and commoner caste soldiers), a vast army. They are led by their clan's Champion (effectively a king).
Shinjo Yotatsu is a tall man in his early forties, he has long black hair and a long drooping gaotee. As he arrived he noticed the open North gate and accused Shiba Tsukune of dishonour and incompetence for not attacking it with her small force. Although a Taisa is quite a high rank, Shiba Tsukune would dishonour herself if she acted in direct opposition of such a high born person. She instead claimed to have received her instructions from her own clan's rulers, the Elemental Master's. Shinjo Yokatsu luckily accepted this at face value, though with seething dislike he ordered her to sit our of his attack.
It was a disaster, as a thousand of his best troops charged past the gates into the city, the gates closed, trapping them within. The sounds of battle could be heard for a few minutes, while the cavalry outside helplessly struggled to turn their horses around and retreat.
A little while later, the gates re-opened. The retreating cavalry saw this and the battle within and charged. The end total losses were over 2 thousand Cavalry Samurai! This time the gates stayed shut.
The next morning Shinjo Yokatsu was furious. The gates had re-opened in the night and again stood with no defenders. The banners of the Scorpion clan proudly blowing in the wind with a smugness beyond measure. Shinjo Yokatsu knew what he had to do, the plan was obvious. He had the numeric advantage (though no-one has any idea how many Scorpion are inside the walls) and so he would use it. Shiba Tsukune, her men and the players stood from breakfast and watched helplessly as the Unicorn clan champion lined his forces up and prepared to follow his two failed attacks from the previous day with a full charge of Ashigaru. This time Tsukune solemly prepared her armour and stood at the foot of the hill of the kami. Her men realised something was up and rushed to join her. Some muttered they'd rather die now at her command than for a fools whim and joined her. As Shinjo Yokatsu sent in his best ashigaru with the ashigaru from house Otaku and that houses male Samurai footsoldiers as the vanguard, the small rag tag army gathered in battle formation to the west of the gate.
When Shiba Tsukune could finally take no more she charged. When she did the players and all the assembled rag tag army followed her. There was no plan really, but when she reached the walls she shouted at the attackers to retreat. Just as she dissapeared from sight the Akodo looked on. They had decided to be the only group to stay out of the battle, it was surely just another waste of life, their was no honour in this. Then from hidden places in the shanty town on the outside of the walls erupted a thousand scorpion Samurai. The Unicorn had been played. The Scorpion intended to drive a full 5000 of the ill-equipped ashigaru inside the gates. But they did not count on the Lion clan, nor the efforts of Shiba Tsukune to disrupt their plans and save the attackers from their own general. The Lion attacked the rear of the Scorpion. Though there was only a hundred of them it was enough to catch the attention of the Otaku-battle maidens who were quick to join them, their giant horses stamping down the shanty buildings and removing cover while their riders impaled Scorpion samurai with Yari (spears).
Running under a hail of Scorpion arrows Shiba Tsukune followed the walls until she had pushed her way to the front of the assault. The gate was still open, but many Unicorn troops were already inside. She stood her ground, her back to the open gate and screamed until she was hoarse. The Attack pressed past her at first, some even attacking her and her men but eventually abated and began running away. The Togashi and Daidoji were particularly heroic in guarding her back, something which did not go unnoticed by her.
A thousand Scorpion laughed as they closed the gates. The armies staggered back to their camps, hundreds of the rag-tag force had been lost in Tsukune's attempt at saving the lives of the Unicorn army.
When the dust settled the scorpion dead were obvious. From the Unicorn camp a rousing cheer could be heard. "By the Kami" Shiba Tsukune muttered when she heard this, she was stood with her hand on the Togashi PC's chest "They think this was their victory" Appalled she bowed to her men and retired.
After another hour or so the gates once again opened. And out stepped a single Scorpion clan courtier. He walked at a slow unhurried pace along the imperial road, then turned and headed to the Unicorn camp. They had camped to the East of the North gate, quite a distance from where the rag-tag force had assembled.
When Tsukune heard that he had been allowed safe passage in to see the Unicorn clan champion, she was furious, but helpless to do anything.
The next morning all of the bodies had been cleared away. Tsukune spent the day waiting outside the Unicorn camp. It seemed she was no longer welcome in the clan champion's presence. That night as she toured the pallets of the wounded she stopped at the Togashi's bedside and confessed her frustration to the man who had taken several arrows in her place. Within the earshot of the Unicorn healers who she was please were still offering humanitarian aide to her she announced that she wanted to know what was going on beyond the walls of tents.
Scouts finally brought her word from the South walls. Nothing was opposing the Scorpion, at least five legions have entered the city of the last few days. But an army of the Crane clan led by the Emerald Champion and his son have intercepted and defeated another force of Scorpions far to the South, they should arrive tomorrow or the day after.
Even with the Unicorn now an unknown, Tsukune risked continuing her earlier tactic, renewed by the promise of an imminent relief and the hope of the presence of the Emerald Champion (who can order Shinjo Yokatsu to be sensible). She made a point of announcing the news openly to all of her troops, not caring if the Unicorn heard it too.
But, the next morning she nearly gave up hope.
As the dawn fog cleared all of the Phoenix who had gone missing were found impaled on spikes along the city walls, their bodies exposed to carrion, the funeral rites ignored their souls will not re-enter the kharmic cycle.
Although only the phoenix were displayed like this, the message was clear especially to the Tortoise and the other minor clans who immediately started packing.
As the day passed a legion of Phoenix ashigaru arrived, with dozens of Samurai at their head. They immediately pledged their loyalty to Shiba Tsukune, but their resolve was low.
That night a legion of Mirumoto arrived, they camped quietly on the far side of the hill of the kami, and attended Shiba Tsukune's tent as if it were the command tent for the area. Several Kuge caste leaders were with them. The mirumoto clans second in command, a Rikugunshokan by rank. The brother of the mirumoto clans current daimyo, a 16 year old boy and a courtier. His advisor and sensei Togashi Mitsu, also called the tatooed man and sometimes the voice of Togashi Yokuni (the Dragon clan champion is a recluse called Togashi Yokuni, Togashi Mitsu is the courtier who brings the clans policies from the champion to all of the Dragon clan courtiers in the Empire, as such he is generally treated as a cross between a monk, due to his simple apearence and bald head and the clan champion himself. In fact their are whispers that he is actually Togashi Yokuni in diguise). Shiba Tsukune must be overawed by these dignitaries, and must be shocked to learn the old veteran general nominate her as the ranking commander currently on scene. Tsukune manages to maintain a stern face and thank the group with honour.
The akodo rush to the Dragon transport carts. They are amazed at the foresight of the Dragon champion to have sent a legion equipped with so many ladders, all the correct length to scale the walls of Otosan-uchi. Especially as they must have departed weeks before the scorpion clan coup started. The Mirumoto are dismissive of this to them, and claim their champion must have found out in advance what Shoju had planned and sent them to intercept the attack, knowing they would be too late and others would be here he arranged for these ladders. The Akodo are skeptical, ladders of this type have to be constructed by specialists, gathering the correct amount takes time. Honour binds them though, they can not openly accuse the mirumoto of lying and what could the truth be anyway, "at least the Mirumoto are on our side" they say "so lets allow them their mystery. This sort of weirdness is just what the Dragon clan always do anyway."
So the fate of the Empire hangs in the balance. The Unicorn appear to have stood down. But the forces led by Shiba Tsukune have increased to a little over two legions, one Phoenix and one Dragon plus a few hangers on like the Imperial Legionairres and the Akodo. The minor clans sadly have departed, scared off by the Scorpion's treatment of the Phoenix dead. Tsukune has her increased forces spread accross the North side of Otosan-uchi attacking the walls with magical attacks with the shugenja guarded by Samurai. The ladders remain on the carts, guarded by house mirumoto, mainly because Tsukune doesn't want to use them. With the arrival of 25000 extra Scorpion soldiers she thinks the total may be around 15 legions, she only has 2 until the Unicorn see sense and join their 3 remaining legions to hers. Even then she still needs the Crane clan to arrive, and soon. And why have the Lion clan not arrived yet either, they are just as close as the Crane.
see you this week for chapter 2