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It is the winter of 1123, and it has been a great year of change in the empire. The Scorpion clan coup of the previous summer sits fresh in everyone’s mind, and the falling of snow does not bring the temporary peace that it usually affords. A mysterious wasting disease has gripped Rokugan, making an already weak harvest far weaker than could possibly have been expected. As winter sets in, food has become a scarcity, perhaps no place more so than the Lion homelands. Supporting the largest population in Rokugan, the Lion have been particularly hard hit by the harvest, as the Lion are also preparing for their seemingly inevitable war with the crane, moving and garrisoning troops along their shared border. It is in this volatile environment that conflict explodes. A peasant revolt has gained power in the Lion lands, and seeks to destabilize the order of the Empire itself. Lead by a group of Ashigaru, they have captured the city of Foshi, the most productive food resource in Lion lands, (L7 on the Rokugan Map) and continue to spread disorder to the surrounding areas. The Lion have been at a loss to react, due to the escalation in their conflicts with the Crane, and have been unable to allocate significant troops to combat the insurrection. The Emperor, who already shows his current disfavor to the Lion through the dissolution of the family of Akodo, sees it as a personal insult to him that the Lion cannot police the land that is their ancestral duty to safeguard under him.

In response, the Emperor has ordered an Imperial legion into the region, seeking to restore order, and to show the Lion that they are not the only military force in the Emperor’s arsenal, and if they fail him, then they can be replaced. The bitter winter has made marching from Otosan Uchi (Capital City, A9) difficult, but the entire legion is now in position to engage the rogue forces in the month of Togashi (January).

The PCs have all been drafted into the legions, either by volunteer, or a forced volunteer on the behalf of their clan. Hantei XXXIX has been scaling up recruitment of his personal armies, to foster “peace and tranquility” throughout the empire. He is now seeking to put his newfound military might into action in quelling the peasant revolt. The young emperor is eager to set himself up as a strong and confident ruler in face of the conflicts that have already gripped the Emerald Empire to this point. How the PCs feel about their situation is up to them, but it is no secret that the empire seems to be descending into chaos and squabbling factions, and any change might be a welcome one.

Mechanical concerns to players that may influence their attitudes-

1.There is no Scorpion clan. In the summer of 1123, Bayushi Shoju made his ill fated coup d’etat against the imperial family, and failed miserably. Killing Hantei the 38th in cold blood and establishing himself as Emperor. His “reign” lasts five days until the combined might of the clans crushes his armies and Hantei the 39th is rushed through his gempukku ceremony in order to take the throne. His first act is to dissolve the Scorpion clan, and taking Shoju’s wife Kachiko as his, effectively ending the Bayushi line. The Scorpion that remain are either on the run from the authorities, or are pretending themselves to be ronin, biding their time.

2.There is no Akodo family. Akodo Toturi lead the assault on Otosan Uchi and slayed Bayushi Shoju in singles combat during the battle. Afterwards, Toturi objected to Shoju’s burning on a communal pyre, feeling that it would be dishonorable to do such injustice to an honorable opponent. This infuriated the young emperor, and his second act was to dissolve the Akodo family, and to make Toturi a ronin. The remaining Akodo had to swear fealty to one of the other Lion families, or become ronin themselves. Many Akodo did in fact become ronin, and as a result, the Lion’s military strength was diminished by their number.

3.The Mantis are not yet a major clan. The strong and charismatic leader of the Mantis, has however, lead the clan to a position of strength and prominence in the empire as the leader of Yoritomo’s alliance, an unprecedented collaboration of the minor clans. Yoritomo’s alliance is now a force to rival any of the major clans, and he employs it’s power frequently, supporting the Crane in their war against the Lion, so long as the price is right. The Mantis have also been active in combating the increased Shadowlands activity that has been plaguing the empire, and their raiding parties are a happy sight for peasants that are being attacked by Oni and other residents of Jigoku.

4.This is a time of instability and chaos, alliances shifting, and many forces are rallying themselves for one of the greatest conflicts of Rokugan. The Players have already lived their life in the events leading up to this, and the omens to the future have not been good. Events such as the Opium war in Ryoko Owari in the year 1122 and other great conflicts show that there is a large divide between the clans, now more than any time in the history of the empire, and it’s leading towards the inevitable result of all out war.

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