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Unlike clans, which are chosen at character creation and cannot be changed (well, not unless the character becomes a ronin), organizations are groups that are joined after birth and that can be changed. There are many different organizations in the Empire, each with their own goals and ambitions. They operate somewhat outside the clan structure, and it is possible for members of enemy clans to be part of the same organization. Most organizations are represented by a prestige class of some kind.
Cast out by their families and clans or forsaken by the circumstances of their birth, few ronin within the Empire have a home to call their own or even comrades who will guard their backs. It is a lonely, desolate lifestyle that few can endure for long without succumbing to the bleakness of their own existence.
It does not always have to be so, however, and the Empire's history is full of examples of ronin banding together for survival and mutual benefit. Although many of these groups have been bandits or common mercenaries, there have been many counterexamples of ronin who remember what it means to be a samurai. Some of the groups, called otokodate, or "manly fellows," have existed for decades or even centuries and have played subtle, almost invisible roles in many historical events.
The Hearts of Nanashi: One of the oldest otokodate, the Hearts of Nanashi are the ronin who defend and protect Anonymous Village. It is a haven for wave-men and yakuza, a place where they can find acceptance among their own kind and respite from the scorn of the Empire. The leaders of the village are all too aware of their precarious position, however, and will not shelter the dishonorable from justice. This reputation is all that protects the village from the clans, who would descend upon it with a vengeance if they believed it to be a hiding place for criminals.
The Hearts of Nanashi are busy trying to form alliances with several different clans, so that whoever eventually ascends to become emperor remembers their debt and improves the status of ronin. Right now, they are most concerned about gaining the favor of the Ota and Ishikawa clans.
The Blades of Yasuga: The Blades of Yasuga may be the most respected ronin band in the Empire. Several centuries ago, a man named Yasuga rescued the Shogun from a dangerous cabal of necromancers. In gratitude, the Shogun granted the ronin his own family name and a small fief within the mountains. Before his death, Yasuga and his nine children expand their holdings; his daughters even became the governors of a sub-district in the capital city.
The ronin who swear fealty to the Yasuga are expected to defend the helpless at all times, no matter the situation, no matter the consequence. This is addition to their duties in defense of their district of the capital, over which the Yasuga maintain control to this day. Thei ways of defending the innocent have helped the image of the ronin as a whole, but have also made many heimin think that every ronin will protect them, which is not the case. The Yasuga always seek ways to expand their power base, preferably by recruiting suitable individuals.
The Gaze of Sun Tzu: The origins of this esoteric band of warriors lie with the renowned ronin general known as Sun Tzu. One of the most skilled and insightful strategists the
real world Empire has ever seen, Sun Tzu was also an accomplished duelist. Within the pages of his Art of War are not only the secrets of battle, but also the secrets of dueling. While the styles of the Ishikawa and Yokokiyo dominate the clans' perception of the duel, certain ronin have taken up the study of Sun Tzu's style and seek to perfect their art.
The ronin who study the Art of War are not a particularly organized or cohesive group; it might be more appropriate to say that they share a philosophy. They seek the perfection of their art, although many have been known to take on students in order to pass on the wisdom imparted by Sun Tzu's teachings.
Though most members of the Gaze of Sun Tzu are ronin, they have accepted samurai into the fold on several occasions. Ota Nobuyuki is a recent example, and he has allowed many of the other members to bear the Ota name. The others stand behind the upstart, for in Nobuyuki ascends to the throne, their style will finally gain the widespread recognition it rightly deserves.
Many children know stories of the black-clad demons who creep in the night and slit the throats of the unwary. Ninja are universally despised as foul men and women who are the antithesis of the code of Bushido and evertyhing else the Empire holds dear.
Ninja are more than myth and rumor, and even their name invokes paranoia. Men who dress in deepest black could be hiding in your closet, around the corner, or right behind you. While the Empire publicly denies the existence of ninja, behind closed doors nearly everyone agrees they are real.
The relationship between the ninja and the samurai clans is a complex thing. Most ninja clans are allied with at least one of the samurai families, and often live on their land. Some ninja are nothing more than spies for their lord, not the merciless assassins and poisoners of ninja legend. Every daimyo has at least 10 ninja under their employ, though some families maintain vast networks of ninja spies.
In addition to the clans that serve a specific daimyo, there are also the ninja that serve the Censors. The Censors maintain a massive network of spies and assassins that make sure that government officials and police do not overly abuse their position. Of course, when they are not needed by their employers, they will gladly offer up their services to the highest bidder. That is, of course, if you can find them
Most ninja start out as rogues, assassins, thief acrobats, or ninja. They often take prestige classes that are appropriate for whatever their job is. It is also not unheard of for there to members of the ninja clans who are jesters.
Since there are a bunch of different ninja clans, the names are all up to you. If you want to use historical names such as the Iga, Koga, Hattori, and so on that's fine, but there's no reason you can't have a clan called the Poison Fists. Some ninja are simply extensions of the daimyo, so they don't even get cool clan names. Seriously, this part is up to you. Because most ninja aren't supposed to exist, they should rarely gain the clan benefits (and really, if you have a ninja PC who serves the Yokokiyo, then they shouldn't be saying they serve the Yokokiyo at all. Or that they're ninja).
When Katzu won the great war, not all of the conquered races wished to obey his rule. Some opposed him and were ruthlessly slaughtered. Others fled, planning for a time when they might return return and unmake the unnatural society the hobgoblins had created.
The Fuuma are the descendants of the latter group. They are an extremely secretive organization with the goal of slowly undermining the samurai and abolishing the idea of a caste system. The Fuuma believe that all men are essentially equal, and that the samurai class system is an abomination.
While this does seem like a noble end, the Fuuma's means are far from it. They exist only be secrecy, and expand their influence through espionage, brainwashing, and assassination. They believe that once their goals have been achieved, a new order must be prepared to fill the void left by the samurai. The Kyosho will be the pinnacle of this order, a ruling classs chosen through personal achievement, not accidents of birth.
Their Master Plan is extremely precise, long, and complex. It spans over many generations, culminating with the overthrow of the samurai. In recent years, however, with the Fall to Chaos and the loss of the Shogun and Emperor, many Fuuma have decided to abandon the plan and capitalize on the warring clans to destroy the caste system.
The Fuuma are ruled by several Kyosho, whose identities are only known to the other Kyosho. The utter secrecy required for the Fuuma to operate requires that even the Kyosho are not privy to the operations of the other Kyosho. This excessive secrecy can sometimes be troublesome, but in the long run the policy has helped the Fuuma survive.
While the Fuuma are not technically a clan, most daimyo and samurai believe that they are a simple mercenary ninja clan, and they usually function as one while furthering their dark goals. They offer their help to any and all that are desperate and can afford their services. The Fuuma have a tendency to work for cheap, and often only want a small favor or bit of knowledge in return for what they are asked to do.
It should be noted that while the Fuuma are a shadowy organization with dark goals, that they are not allied or associated with Kuraigami and his dark worshippers. Many Fuuma value the Way, since Nonemu was a normal man who came up with one of the most admired philosophical studies ever.
Joining the Fuuma is a difficult, complicated process. Many ronin are drawn into their thrall, wishing to create a society where honor means nothing, so that their children will be able to be normal. Many members of the Sugiyama clan are also attached to the Fuuma; the elf clan still remembers the atrocities of the Great War and wishes to destroy the hobgoblins and everything they created.
When the Way of Enlightenment was created by recording the conversation between Nonemu and Katzu II, a new religion was born. Since the creation of the Way, the most devout followers of that religion have created temples and wandered the Empire sharing Nonemu's wisdom and insight with those who wish to hear it.
Temples of the Way can be found nearly anywhere in the Empire, since was the religion of the Shogun. These holy sites are open to all travelers, and samurai are expected to at least simulate respect for the major temples around them. Shrines are typically located in places that were important to Nonemu's life, or locations easily accessible by the populace. Monks live in these temples and shrines, devoting their lives to the study of Nonemu's wisdom, hoping to reach the enlightened state of mind that the Little Teacher was blessed with.
Monks themselves are a diverse group, and not all of them have levels of monks. The most common kind are retired samurai of age 50 or more (though some samurai of great skill continue their way of life until they die). When members of the noble caste decide they don't want to go to war anymore, and are old enough, they are expected to shave their hair and contemplate the serene wisdom of Nonemu until their deaths. This is considered a luxury, as the lifestyle of the samurai generally does not allow for old age.
Monastic relations with the clans are usually good, as they are an integral part of the religion in the Empire. Daimyo who do not at least appear interested in the wisdom of the Way are frowned upon. This is not always the case, however, and several sects of sohei are extremely violent and warlike, acting as warlords of their own little regions. They usually follow their own revisions of the Way that allows for their warlike tendencies. The recently powerful Ota clan has destroyed many of these monasteries, causing many Waywalkers to pledge their lives to Nobuyuki's destruction.
Excluding the sohei, the Way has withdrawn from the active role in history hat it took in the past. Many monks have chosen to return to their clans of birth, hoping that the wisdom of Nonemu's words will help cull the war. Others remain in the temples, studying the New Scroll and attempting to find some scrap of its missing half. Their temples remain open to all, however, and the recent assassination of the Emperor and Shogun has caused many peasants to seek out the Way's guidance and comfort.
The Dark CouncilEdit
The Dark Council is an extremely dangerous group of necromancers, demon-binders, and Kuraigami worshippers who wish to use Jigoku's dark powers to take over the world (you were expecting something else?). They are one of the most long-lived and secretive organizations in the entire Empire, and know dark, terrible secrets that would make even the most jaded Fuuma pale in disgust. They value their secrecy above all things, for exposure means swift, merciless death.
The Dark Council was founded centuries ago after the defeat of the necromancer known as the Master, who attempted to take over the Empire. While his spirit wandered the Empire in secret, the stranger with the burning eyes needed assistance to help him prepare for his true return. Along with a few trusted lieutenants, the wizard's bodiless essence found angry and disaffected members of society who longed for the power that was eternally beyond their reach. Whispering the dark secrets of necromancy into their ears, the Master bound these individuals to him with promises of far greater power when he sat upon the throne.
The Master's second defeat was a devastating blow to the Dark Council, and culminated with him being erased from history by a powerful name mage (which is why he is known as the Master; his real name has been lost), with only a few of the samurai who fought against him and several of his surviving lieutenants even remembering that he ever existed. While some abandoned their quest for power, other necromancers began preparing for his inevitable return. He had escaped death once before and would surely do so again. Unfortunately fro them, he did not, and they could only pass down their dark arts to a new generation.
Centuries later, the more modern Dark Council members continue their perparation. Their evil rites have been passed down through generations, each time becoming more sinister and twisted. While the original lieutenants of the necromancer believe that they serve him and him alone, many of the younger generations have realized that their powers serve Jigoku, and have cut out the middle-man.
The Dark Council embraces a philosophy of personal power, believing that strength comes to those with the courage to grasp it, and that one should not be shackled by the consequences of one's bith. Great or small, peasant or samurai, any man or woman can have great power through the use of necromancy (and wizardry, by extentsion). It is a tantalizing concept to a number of denizens of the Empire, one that has consumed countless souls since the time of the necromancer.
Cells of the Dark Council exist in the lands of all the large clans. Of course, no clan believes that they exist, and even those that do believe that such corruption cannot be in their presence without their knowledge, and this confidence is the perfect shield for the Council. In recent years, a powerful necromancer has renounced the original necromancer and has instead pledged herself to the denizens of Jigoku and ascended to the unholy position of the Corrupting Queen of Kuraigami. This has prompted several other cells of the Council to follow her lead, abandoning their centuries-long quest to free the necromancer in order to support the Queen and her allies in their bid to overthrow the Empire.
Those that remain loyal to the necromancer are currently doing exactly what they have spent the last centuries doing: serching the Empire for the hidden tomb of their master. Once the tomb has been found, the Dark Council will have only to locate the keyes: a series of large pocelain masks that they know will open the seals upon the tomb's gate. They know that the tomb will be difficult to navigate; two false tombs were constructed at the same time, and both have proven deadly to those Council members that entered. Still, the master must be freed for the cult to take its rightful place at the head of the Empire, and no cost is too great.
The Imperial Police and Banner KnightsEdit
The imperial police is one of the most righteous organizations, and technically encompasses all that work for the law. This includes those who handle criminals, dead bodies, the actual police themselves, the grunt force, and several other parts of the justice system. All are an important part of the machine that keeps the laws of the Empire worth a damn.
The actual imperial policeman class describes the elite of the organization; the lieutenants and officers who have enough experience, prowess, and social know-how to arrest members of the samurai class and higher. Most of the police encountered on the streets are warriors, or perhaps have a few levels of ronin. They are the ones that handle heimin affairs and other menial tasks.
Members of the imperial police are chosen for their ability, or are simply recruited from the ranks of eta. Many grunt police are eta who are allowed to work for the imperial police, despite their taint. The elite officers are handpicked by the Censors, and their position is one of great prominence.
The banner knights are an organization of handpicked samurai to guard the Shogun and act as his personal army. They are the best of the best, and in the past have only been defeated by numerically superior forces. Being asked to join the banner knights is a great honor, and those that turn the offer down are odd samurai indeed.
Members of the imperial police and banner knights who commit treason or vastly break the law and/or abuse their position are hunted down by the ninja that serve the Censors. It is a policy that is ruthlessly enforced.
With the death of the Shogun, the Empire has been operating without a head, so to speak. Because of this, the imperial police's power has been vastly reduced, and many samurai refuse arrest because there is no-one from which the laws come. The Empire is falling into anarchy, or at least into a system where each clan has a different set of laws and their own police. The banner knights are even more gravely affected by the Shogun's death, since now they have no master and are effectively ronin. Most have disbanded and returned to their clans.
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