City of Lies
Amaterasu – Lady Sun, the mother of the Kami. Amaterasu is worshipped as the primary deity of Rokugan.
Black Scrolls – The twelve Black Scrolls supposedly containt the soul of Fu Leng. When Shosuro, the only survivor of the Seven Thunders, returned from the Shadowlands, she carried with her these scrolls, claiming the Dark Lord’s essence was trapped within them.
Bu – A silver coin. Five bu equal a koku.
Burning Sands – The vast, desert wasteland beyond the Wall of the North mountain range. The Burning Sands have been visited only by the Ki-Rin Clan, now known as the Unicorn Clan.
Bushi – Warriors of the samurai caste. Every Great Clan and most Minor Clans have at least one bushi school.
Celestial Order – The scale by which a man’s worth is measured. At the top of the scale are the gods (Amaterasu, Onnotangu, the Fortunes, etc.). Then comes the Emperor, then samurai, then the heimin (“half-people”). Finally at the bottom of the scale are the hinin (“non-people”).
Clans – The noble houses of Rokugan. There are seven Great Clans, those clans which were founded by the Kami. Those are the clans of the Crab, Crane, Dragon, Lion, Phoenix, Scorpion and Unicorn.
Daisho – Literally, “the long and the short.” The daisho is the two sword set of katana and wakizashi.
Daimyo – A feudal lord. Daimyo control provinces for their clan, or sometimes are the heads of families or entire clans. A samurai swears fealty to their daimyo on the day of their gempukku.
Emerald Champion – The highest ranking samurai in the Empire beside the Emperor himself. The Emerald Champion is the head of law and justice in Rokugan, and all Imperial Magistrates answer to him.
Emerald Magistrate – An Imperial Magistrate. These powerful figures enforce the Emperor’s law throughout Rokugan. Emerald Magistrates answer to the Emerald Champion.
Eta – Eta are those peasants that do Rokugan’s “dirty work.” They handle dead bodies (moving the dead, cremation, morticians), clean up refuse and other undesirable labor. Less honourable Samurai also call upon eta whenever they need a torturer (usually to get a confession out of a prisoner).
Fortunes – The Fortunes are the lesser gods of Rokugan. There are literally thousands of Fortunes for everything from mercy (Jizo) to rice (Inari). The most powerful of them are referred to as the “Seven Fortunes.” They are Benten (Romantic Love), Bishamon (Strength), Daikoku (Wealth), Ebisu (Honest Work), Fukurokujin (Wisdom), Hotei (Contentment) and Jurojin (Longevity). These seven are thought by some to be lesser children of Lady Sun and Lord Moon.
Lesser Fortunes are called Mikokami. The most prevalent of these is Osano-Wo, the Fortune of fire and thunder. Most Mikokami come about when the Emperor declares their deeds so great that they are worthy of divinity.
Fu Leng – The Dark Lord. The Fallen God. He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named. He is known by many titles. Fu Leng is the lost brother of the Kami who fell far to the south (into what is now known as the Shadowlands) and through the earth into Jigoku. Now corrupted by that evil place, Fu Leng rules over the Shadowlands from his Festering Pit and awaits the day he’ll be able to rise again to take over the Emerald Empire.
Gaijin – Any foreigner from beyond the borders of Rokugan. There are two commonly known groups of gaijin. The barbarians of the Burning Sands had a considerable influence on the Ki-Rin Clan during their journeys. The gaijin from across the sea were repelled during the Battle of White Stag, and caused the Imperial decree that Rokugan would have no contact with the outside (with notable exceptions, such as the Unicorn and Badger Clans).
Geisha – “Art-people.” Geisha girls are extremely well trained for the sole purpose of entertainment. Contrary to popular belief, geisha are not prostitutes. Though they might occasionally take a man to the bed, they must usually be wooed first. It isn’t uncommon for even samurai to shower a geisha with gifts and attention in hopes of becoming more intimate with her. Among the arts that geisha perform are music (both singing and playing instruments), dance, massage, even painting. Though the primary use of a geisha is for conversation. A geisha is the only person a socially acceptable for a samurai to show his emotions to. Geisha are trained to use speech to relax and soothe their clients.
Gempukku – The coming-of-age ritual every samurai must go through to transcend from child to adult. This ceremony usually takes place between the ages of 13 and 16 and is seldom easy. This is the child’s chance to prove he is worthy of carrying a wakizashi and being samurai.
Hantei – The Emperor. Also known as the Son of Heaven. Every Hantei has been descended from the original Hantei, the Kami who won the right to rule. The word of the Hantei is law, for he is considered Rokugan’s link to the heavens. Supposedly Amaterasu speaks directly to the Emperor himself. The current Emperor is Hantei the 38th.
Heimin – “Half-people.” Heimin are peasant workers. Farmers, carpenters, fishermen, etc. Namely, the common folk whose toil supports the Empire.
Hinin – “Non-people.” Hinin are the lowest caste in the Celestial Order. It includes geisha, merchants and the lowly eta.
Iaijutsu – The formalized art of dueling, in which two samurai stand a few feet apart, focusing upon one another with their blades sheathed until both attack. Usually (but not always), one is the victor, and one is dead. Also called the Lightning Strike. Iaijutsu duels are only fought with the katana.
Jigoku – Hell. The realm of the oni. Commonly confused with the realms of the dead (though it is said that the souls of truly evil souls find themselves in Jigoku to be tortured by demons).
Kami – The spirits of the elements. Shugenja call upon them to cast their spells. Not to be confused with the Kami, the children of Sun and Moon. Kami, The Great – The children of Lady Sun and Lord Moon. The Kami were the founders of the Great Clans, and the greatest of them, Hantei, became the first Emperor. The Kami (and the clans they founded) were, Akodo (Lion), Bayushi (Scorpion), Doji (Crane), Hida (Crab), Shiba (Phoenix), Shinjo (Ki-Rin/Unicorn) and Togashi (Dragon).
Katana – The weapon of the bushi. The katana is the most perfect weapon ever created, and the only socially acceptable weapon for use in an iaijutsu duel. Its creation involves imbuing the blade with all five elements and folding the metal hundreds, maybe thousands of times.
Kimono – The standard attire in Rokugan. It is a robe folded in the front and fastened with an obi. A samurai’s kimono is often adorned with symbology both mythological and historical. A woman’s kimono always reaches her ankles, whereas a man’s can be much shorter.
Ki-rin – A spirit of good fortune. The ki-rin appears as a horse-like creature with flaming hair and a pair of horns curving back from is head. It was the patron animal of the Ki-Rin Clan before they became the Unicorn Clan.
Koku – This gold coin is the basis of the Rokugani economy. One koku represents an entire year’s worth of rice to a peasant family. Smaller denominations of money exist, though samurai rarely make use of them. They are the bu and zeni.
Mon – A family or clan crest. These symbols are points of pride for samurai as they speak volumes of their lineage.
Nemuranai – Items of magical power. This power usually originated from kami or ancestor spirits bound within the item. It is fairly common among a family ancestral sword for many ancestors to be bound to the blade, watching over their descendant that carries the family honor.
Ninja – Mystically-empowered assassins considered a myth by most Rokugani; a story told to children to frighten them into behaving.
Obi – The sash worn tightly around the waist. It serves as a belt for one’s kimono, and the many folds serve as pockets for small items. A samurai’s daisho is hung from his obi.
Oni – Demons. Horrible servants of Fu Leng. Most oni originate in spiritual form in Jigoku, but many live physically in the Shadowlands.
Onnotangu – Lord Moon, father of the Kami. Unlike his bride, Amaterasu, Onnotangu is feared by humankind. It was his wrath that caused the Kami to fall to the earth. Rokugan – This glorious empire we live in. Ruled over by the Son of Heaven, Hantei. Also called the Emerald Empire.
Ronin – A masterless samurai. Literally means “wave man.” Ronin, though samurai, are reviled by most, tolerated by others. They are only slightly above peasants in the Celestial Order.
Samurai – The noble caste of Rokugan. Samurai are the only Rokugani allowed to carry daisho or ride horses.
Seppuku – Ritual suicide performed with the wakizashi. A samurai will commit seppuku if they or their family has somehow been dishonored beyond all other forms of redemption. It is the ultimate sign of courage, a chance for a samurai to prove he has no fear of death, by receiving it with open arms. This act can often restore a family’s honour. The gravest insult a daimyo can make against a samurai about to commit seppuku is to give him a wooden sword to do it, indicating he doesn’t believe the samurai has the courage to kill himself (as it is much more difficult and painful with a wooden blade).
Seven Thunders – The seven warriors from the Great Clans chosen by Shinsei to venture into the Shadowlands to confront Fu Leng.
Shadowlands – The corrupted lands to the south of Rokugan. The Shadowlands are the home of bakemono (goblins), ogres, trolls, and worst of all, oni.
Shinsei – The mysterious monk who ventured from the north, bringing with him wisdom and the salvation of the Empire. He consoled Hantei the First regarding the war with Fu Leng, and arranged to lead the Seven Thunders into the Shadowlands to defeat the Fallen God. Shinsei’s conversation with Hantei was recorded by Shiba, Hantei’s brother and the Kami who founded the Phoenix Clan. Shiba’s document is now what is referred to as the Tao of Shinsei, and is the basis of shintao. It helped formed the system of belief in Rokugan that would become its core religion. These days innumerable monastic orders devoted to the study of Shinsei’s teachings form the collective known as the Brotherhood of Shinsei.
Shintao – The religion of Rokugan, based on the Tao of Shinsei.
Shugenja – Priests of shintao. They maintain a powerful communion with the Fortunes and the elemental kami, which provide them with incredible magical power.
Void – The fifth elemental ring. Void is both everything and nothingness all at once. It is all four basic elements (Earth, Fire, Air and Water) working in conjunction. It is the unknowable vastness of heaven and earth.
Wakizashi – Short sword. The symbol of the samurai. Nearly every member of the samurai caste carries a wakizashi. It is the blade a samurai uses to commit seppuku.
Yojimbo – A bodyguard. Samurai yojimbo will gladly give their lives before allowing harm to come to their wards. Occasionally ronin are hired as yojimbo, but often are not trusted with such an assignment.
Zeni – A copper coin. Fifty zeni equal a bu. This is the coinage most commonly used by heimin.