Although Rokugan is in a time of relative peace, the Emperor has tragically passed due to illness. The Empire is in mourning, and a new Emperor must rise.

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Shortly before the 14th century.

No Imperial heir. Rumors of Jade Champion scouring the empire in search of something or someone. Former Emperor was an Iweko.

Ketto Kontesuto (The Ketto for short) - Ongoing Sanctioned Imperial Ranked Duel. Zi-Ichi top contender.

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Hiroyuki background
Hiroyuki was born under another name to an honorable samurai of middling rank in the Lion clan. A naturally obedient child, even when his natural inclinations railed against it, Hiroyuki led a relatively uneventful childhood. His father and mother had had difficulty producing a child, and because they were older when he was born, they were quite forceful with him. He was rarely allowed to make a decision on his own.

As a youth, he fell deeply in love with a local girl, the daughter of a respected but poorer samurai. His parents were initially opposed to their union, but agreed to bless the marriage if Hiroyuki worked as overseer for his father’s affairs for a period of seven years.

The years crawled by, but Hiroyuki and his lady remained true. Their love only grew as time passed. Finally, the time set forth was reached. But before the happy wedding could proceed, tragedy struck. A fortnight before the wedding day, Hiroyuki's fiancée fell ill and died days later.

Heartbroken beyond consolation, Hiroyuki crumbled inside himself. Not three days after the would-be wedding day, his parents secured a new betrothal to another girl in the village. His parents were only too happy to right the wrongs done their family by fate, but Hiroyuki was too broken to even consider the possibility. In a paroxysm of anger and grief, he refused to marry her. The rejected girl, unstable to begin with, lost her wits completely and flew into an uncontrollable fit. Shocked by this sudden outburst of opposition from their usually obliging son, they threw him out of the house. Hiroyuki vowed never to return and left his village the very night. He abandoned his clan, his name, and joined the Order of Tenguko's Fist.

From time to time, the rejected woman tracks him down and begs him to marry her. Hiroyuki manages to escape her crazed clutches and strikes out again, carrying always the pain of yesteryear.
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Twenty Questions
What clan does your character belong to?

None -- he is a member of the Imperial Families.

What family does your character belong to?

The Otomos.

Bushi, shugenja, courtier?

Courtier.

How would others describe your character’s appearance?

Juratsu is a tall, lanky old man who shambles with a perpetual stoop. Thin white hair clings to the sides and back of his otherwise bald head, and he keeps a well-trimmed goatee. He dresses in immaculate silken kimonos -- emerald, with golden trim -- and a bright yellow shawl hangs over his shoulders. A wakizashi bound with a peace knot hangs by his arm on his right side -- neither a sword nor an arm can be found on the left.

What is your character’s primary motivation?

To find and serve the next rightful Emperor of Rokugan.

Who is the person your character trusts most in the world?

The Otomo family daimyo, Otomo Rekaiya, who has gone to great lengths to protect Juratsu in a time of peril.

What is your character’s greatest strength and weakness?

Juratsu's greatest strength is his conviction: the fact that he seeks to reinstate a dynasty that was ordained by the Celestial Heavens gives him the strength to perform unsavory actions in his efforts.

His greatest weakness is his physical frailty: in any situation where he cannot avail himself of his family name or courtly training, he is utterly powerless.

What does your character think of bushido?

Juratsu reveres the Way of the Warrior, as all samurai must. Of course, it is easy to abide by its tenets from the confines of a library. For the first time in his life, Juratsu's adherence to Bushido will be put to the test, and he may find that ultimately, only Duty (Chugo) matters.

What is your character’s opinion of his clan?

In his heart of hearts, Juratsu does not highly regard his family or its mandate. Years among the peace-loving Phoenix have colored his perception of the Otomos, who, in his opinion, too often exercise their power out of pride or cruelty, creating conflict where none is
needed. However, he has regretfully realized that the present moment calls for the Otomos -- himself included -- to foment discord until Iweko V can be found.

Is your character married?

No, nor has he ever been. Without parents, no one in particular was keen on arranging a marriage -- least of all Juratsu. Decades ago, the Otomo leaders encouraged him to find a spouse, as the family was eager to rebuild their numbers following the War of Nine Dragons. Juratsu -- aware of the horrific circumstances of his birth, and long plagued by unsettling dreams regarding the Taint -- made it clear that he would never bear a child. The Otomos dropped the matter.

Does your character have any prejudices?

Juratsu tends to treat any Phoenix with profound respect -- a result of his upbringing. With the notable exception of Otomo Rekaiya, Juratsu generally regards other Otomos with well-concealed contempt, particularly those who flaunt their authority for petty reasons.

As of late, he has become very mistrustful of the Lion Clan.

To whom does your character owe the most loyalty?

Iweko V -- though they have never met.

What is your character’s favorite and least favorite things?

Juratsu enjoys transcribing stories as he reads them, committing them to memory while infusing his own kanji with the emotions that the story arouses within him.

He dislikes any disruptions to the peaceful and calm lifestyle he has cultivated all his life: boisterous behavior, loud arguments, and battle.

Does your character have any recurring mannerisms?

When he is about to employ the techniques of an Otomo Courtier, Juratsu draws himself up to his full height, towering over his opponent as the shawl falls away from the family mon embroidered over his heart. When unimpressed with another's failing or foolishness, he often responds with a dismissive "hmph."

Occasionally, when deep in thought, he will clutch his left shoulder and grimace without realizing it.

What about your character’s emotions?

To a casual observer, Juratsu seems as imperious and callous as would befit an Otomo. Those close to him, however, sometimes glimpse the compassion and good humor beneath, which is accompanied by a telltale twinkle in his eye. Furthermore, those intimately familiar with the Otomos would recognize the reluctance and restraint with which Juratsu uses the more abrasive elements of his training.

How would your character handle a subordinate’s improper behavior?

If the infraction occurred in private, Juratsu's response might range from a gentle reminder to a stern reproval, depending on the severity. If the infraction occurred in front of others -- particularly Great Clan samurai -- the subordinate would be berated at length before being cast down to a lower station.

How would your character’s parents describe him?

Juratsu's parents would be proud of the man he is, and both anxious and curious to see the man he will become in his quest to find Iweko V. Nori and Tunego both made tremendous sacrifices, in body and spirit, to serve the Emperors of Rokugan amid impossible circumstances. Will Juratsu find the strength to do the same?

What is your character’s highest ambition?

Personally speaking, Juratsu has already achieved his highest ambition -- becoming an Imperial Scribe. He longs to go back to the Imperial Libraries and return to his writings.

How religious is your character?

Somewhat. From his readings, Juratsu has a fairly extensive knowledge of Shinseim and Fortunism, and regards both as sources of wisdom. Each morning before beginning his duties at the Imperial Libraries, he would make a small prayer and offering at the shrine to Tenjin, the Fortune of Writing and Literature.

To his shame, however, he does not make offerings to his ancestors. Juratsu has only a vague understanding of his parents' demise -- his father committed seppuku to absolve himself of some dishonorable act, and his mother died as the Celestial Barrier destroyed the Taint within her -- and he cannot bring himself to commune with those whose lives were clearly stained.

How will your character die?

When Juratsu has found the next Emperor, he will record his journey within the Imperial Histories, dying as the last kanji is made on the last page. No one -- apart from a handful of librarians -- will ever get to read the full, uncensored account of his quest.

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Juratsu's Backstory
In 1211, Daigotsu Kanpeki conquered Toshi Ranbo and crowned himself the Son of Heaven and Hell. The Otomos, who had faithfully served every Emperor since the first Hantei, were faced with a claimant who -- however vile -- had both the blood and the might to justify his seizing the throne. When Kanpeki demanded their allegiance, the family daimyo, Otomo Nori, decided that it was their duty -- as well as their best chance at survival -- to submit and serve. Dozens of Nori's kin committed seppuku in protest. Those who remained bowed at the feet of Emperor Daigotsu I.

The Otomos' new mandate was no different from their old one: sow chaos among the Great Clans so they might never join forces against the Emperor. Their courtiers fanned out across Rokugan, advocating reconciliation with the throne. They found an Empire united in their hatred of Kanpeki, if nothing else, thanks in no small part to the efforts of the Susumu: a family of gifted courtiers who, along with Tetsuo, had abandoned the Spider at the war's onset in order to walk the Path of Light. Only the Otomos' status -- along with their seemingly honorable message of peace -- prevented the Imperials from being expelled from the courts, or worse.

Kanpeki had no tolerance for failure, however. Many of the Otomos who had remained behind in the Imperial City were exposed to the Shadowlands Taint on his order, beginning the slow and agonizing process by which they would become corrupted in both body and spirit. When word reached those abroad, the message was clear: one way or another, Kanpeki would find a use for those in his service.

Otomo Nori had just learned of her pregnancy when a maho-tsukai poured oni blood down her throat.

When her husband, Otomo Tunego, learned of this atrocity, he promptly vanished from the public eye, carefully using the wealth and information network at his disposal to follow an inkling he had long harbored.

Four months later, at a sheepherder's hut in the foothills of Sleeping Thunder Mountain, Tunego found Iweko Miaka.

Long thought to have been slain with her brothers, the Princess had gone into hiding, assuming a simple life with a peasant she had married for love. She resisted every attempt by Tunego to coax her into reclaiming her birthright. At last, Otomo Tunego placed his hand on his wakizashi and spoke his ultimatum:

"There is no escaping one's name, Iweko-dono. I am Otomo Tunego, and I must serve the rightful ruler of Rokugan. I must lay low any threat to the throne. Choose."

Soon thereafter, Iweko Miaka re-emerged as a figurehead who united the Great Clans. Their combined might assailed Toshi Ranbo, paving the way for the Nine Dragons to confront and defeat Emperor Daigotsu I.

The first petitioner to Empress Iweko III was Otomo Tunego, who begged the right of seppuku. He made the three cuts and died quietly in the same spot where he had once bowed to Daigotsu Kanpeki.

The first decree of Empress Iweko III was that all samurai who had given their allegiance to Emperor Daigotsu I would be pardoned, so long as they personally swore their loyalty to her at her coronation festival. As Toshi Ranbo had been ravaged by the final assault during the War of Nine Dragons, this festival would be held in the City of Tears -- a holy site that resided in the lands of the Phoenix, on the far side of the Celestial Barrier.

Three weeks laters, Otomo Nori placed her hands on her full belly and strode in the shimmering veil at the border of the Enjaku province. Her skin caught fire, and her eyes burst in their sockets -- and through it all, she continued walking. Finally, on the far side of the barrier, she collapsed in a smoldering heap.

Her body was examined by one of the Asako Inquisitors who was sent to monitor the Otomos' crossing. This was the same water shugenja whose prayers had originally helped summon the Celestial Barrier years before: Shiba Mukagi, whose grandchildren would one day give birth to Shiba Raigou. Mukagi drew his jade wakizashi and sliced open Nori's belly; from inside he withdrew a screaming baby -- premature, with a raw stump where his left arm should have begun.

Mukagi decreed that the child would remain in the care of the Inquisitors until it was determined that the infant did not harbor the Taint. As it was only due to the discretion of the Phoenix that the rampant corruption among the Otomos was not widely publicized, the Imperials did not press the matter.

Mukagi named the child Juratsu and raised him as his own for 13 years, inculcating in him a love for life and peace, and an abhorrence for everything related to the Shadowlands. As Juratsu approached the age to begin training for his gempukku, however, the Otomos -- who had been working assiduously all the while to rebuild their power and numbers -- insisted that the boy be returned if he bore no signs of the Taint. Although Mukagi was reluctant to acquiesce -- both because he loved Juratsu as a son, and because he suspected (correctly) that slight vestiges of Nori's corruption remained in Juratsu -- the Inquisitor finally sent Juratsu home to the Otomos.

In Toshi Ranbo, Juratsu was instructed in the techniques of the Otomo Courtiers, for which he showed considerable aptitude, but no true inclination. It became apparent to the Otomo elders that Juratsu's true calling lay in a pasttime the boy had adopted from Mukagi: calligraphy. Following his gempukku at the age of 18, Juratsu was given a position in the Otomo Library.

Seventy years later, Juratsu had risen to the rank of Imperial Scribe -- a prestigious position that afforded him the honor of recording the Emperor's every utterance. Juratsu was one of three people in the room when Emperor Iweko IV recited his death haiku:

She owns my whole soul
My seed she loyally bore
A new commencement


Juratsu recorded the words as the Emperor breathed his last. Just as he finished, however, the parchment was snatched from his hands by the only other remaining person in the Emperor's bedchamber: Ikoma Yunari, the Voice of the Emperor.

"Is it your ears or your mind that fails you, Otomo-san?" Yunari held the parchment above a candle and set fire to the Emperor's last words. He then seized a fresh sheet and wrote a new verse, which he thrust into Juratsu's hands:

She owns my whole soul
My need she loyally bore
A new commencement

"See that the Wisdom of the Heavens is updated promptly and accurately," Yunari commanded as he left the room to announce the Emperor's passing.

Juratsu had no recourse but to obey. He made his way into the lower levels of the Imperial Palace, to the resting place of the Wisdom of the Heavens: the ancient text in which the Imperial Scribes had recorded the final words of every Emperor since the first Hantei. Juratsu transcribed Yunari's version of the haiku with impeccable care; nine hours later, just after midnight, he began his walk back to his home in the Kurai District of Toshi Ranbo.

He never saw who stabbed him in the back and left him for dead.

Juratsu awoke days later in the care of Seppun shugenjas, barely clinging to life. When questioned by magistrates, he professed his ignorance of his attacker; given that Juratsu had been stripped of all the coins on his person, the authorities seemed content to consider the matter a brazen robbery. In short order, a well-known heimin troublemaker was arrested, tortured into a full confession, and executed.

Once he had recovered more fully, however, Juratsu confided in the family daimyo, Otomo Rekaiya, as to the events that occurred in the Emperor's bedchamber on the night of his death. Accusing the Voice of the Emperor of anything untoward would be suicidal; however, Rekaiya discreetly relayed Juratsu's recollection of the Emperor's death haiku to the Emerald Champion, Asahina Ren, who began a widespread and earnest search for the Emperor's heir.

Furthermore, Rekaiya reasoned that it was not safe for Juratsu to remain in Toshi Ranbo, particularly without an escort. An upcoming samurai tournament would provide a valid excuse for Juratsu to leave the city, and an outstanding favor owed by the Dragons would provide the necessary security. Thus, under the protection of his newly assigned yojimbo, Mirumoto Daitora, Juratsu left the Imperial City for Pale Oak Castle.

For his part, Juratsu is at last prepared to use his training as an Otomo Courtier to its fullest. In courts throughout Rokugan, many are advocating the abolition of the position of Emperor; meanwhile, the Lions are actively vying for the throne. The Clans must be kept occupied until the Iweko dynasty can be restored. It is time for Juratsu to fulfill the Otomo's mandate -- and sow chaos.
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Epic × 2!
20 Questions
What clan does your character belong to?

Clanless – monk of Tenguko’s Fist

What family does your character belong to?

None

Bushi, shugenja, courtier?

Bushi

How would others describe your character’s appearance?

Hirokuki is built solidly, even bricklike, at 5’9” and 220 pounds. Being in good physical shape for 49, the most apparent sign of his age is the silver that streaks through his waist-length braid. He has dark, sharp eyes, which are perhaps the most distinguishing feature of his squarish, rough-looking face.

What is your character’s primary motivation?

To live according to the tenets of Shinsei.

Who is the person your character trusts most in the world?

His sensei, Jutoku.

What is your character’s greatest strength and weakness?

His greatest strength would be his dedication and diligence with regard to the tenets of Shinsei and the perfection of his bisento skills. His greatest weakness would be his contrary nature. He does not compromise well or seek to understand opposing points of view.

What does your character think of bushido?

While the path to enlightenment leads most clearly from following the Brotherhood of Shinsei, Bushido is an important part of this upward progression. Honor is the virtue to which Hiroyuki aspires with the greatest intent.

What is your character’s opinion of his clan?

He respects his monk order very highly, never bringing dishonor to his brethren.

Is your character married?

No. He has been running from his fiancée for 25 years, a betrothal he supremely rejects. Now and then the obsessed woman will track him down and demand he marry her, but he always manages to escape her crazed clutches.

Does your character have any prejudices?

He has a deep-seeded resentment to his former clan, Lion. He sees them as the embodiment of all that is unyielding and unfair in mortal life.

To whom does your character owe the most loyalty?

The Order of Tenguko’s Fist

What is your character’s favorite and least favorite things?

He revels in meditation and the perfection of his skills with the bisento. He least likes the nastiness of political intrigue, preferring the simplicity of a monastic life.

Does your character have any recurring mannerisms?

Though a lowly monk, Hiroyuki prides himself in his well-kept appearance and maintains a high level of cleanliness and personal grooming. He can be found at his bedside every night meticulously combing out and braiding his long hair.

What about your character’s emotions?

He is a stern, but earnest man who has a tendency to ignore conflicting points of view on principle. He is passionate and feels deeply, which resulted in the great tragedy of his early adulthood. His contrary nature can get him into trouble, even if it is not intended.

How would your character handle a subordinate’s improper behavior?

As a monk, Hiroyuki has spent the last two decades nurturing a humble nature. When an offence occurs, he immediately corrects the subordinate firmly, but is not given to outbursts of passion.

How would your character’s parents describe him?

They would not. He was banished when he refused to marry the girl his parents arranged for him and they now consider themselves without a son.

What is your character’s highest ambition?

To live a life fully committed to the way of Tengoku's Fist.

How religious is your character?

Very. He is a devoted follower of Shinsei, and strives with great earnestness to live a life of honor and purpose.

How will your character die?

While Hiroyuki's desire would be to perish quietly in the mountains as an old man, his contrary nature will probably be his ultimate undoing.
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Filling out the game...
Heyo,

I'm adding information as we go. If there's something you want from your background, let me know and I'll add it.

I'll be adding for relevant information as we go along.

Thanks!
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Game Master:
Setting:
Legend of the Five Rings (4th)
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