Though at first glance the Empire is much the same as in "modern" Rokugan, there are many small differences that separate the Gozoku Period from the era of Toturi and the Four Winds. This campaign setting will try to note the most important of these changes, but, as with anything, I'm sure that something will slip through the cracks.
A Samurai's Honor
Honor is the cornerstone of the Empire, and the Gozoku period is one of the samurai's first truly internal tests. Many young samurai have, either directly or indirectly, been affected by the aftermath of the first true inter-Clan wars; this has led to the first time that people are starting to see themselves as "Crane" or "Phoenix" rather than simply "Rokugani."
This fierce clan loyalty is the beginning of the conflict, and it is definitely the most defining concept entering into bushido at this time. The typical samurai in the Gozoku period answers to his daimyo first, and the Emperor second. Though this feeling has caused obvious friction in the Imperial Legions and the Emerald Magistrates, it has also stalled many of the conflicts that began brewing during the reign of Hantei Fujiwa/Fuwija. Samurai are tending to the needs of their own lands and own people, and for the time being are forsaking the answer of open war.
The Gozoku Period is unique in the Empire's history, for it represents the first time that the clans have battled one another on a purely political field. This is where the famous games of the Doji, Bayushi, and others first started; bushi are beginning to understand the subtle strength of the Empire's courtiers, and seeing that there are few places they cannot reach.
The Crab Clan
"No shield lasts forever in Rokugan. No one of blackmail and favors, anymore than one of steel." - Hida Nobuyoshi
Following the war against Oni no Usu, Hida Nobuyoshi (then Champion of the
Crab) placed his clan in a position that they had not had before: in the favor
of the Hantei. This arrangement was short-lived, however, and it proved the
catalyst that would lead to the Gozoku rule. After seeing what they had started,
the Crab have withdrawn back to their duties, wanting little more than to avoid
the scathing gaze of a powerful Crane Clan still vengeful from the Yasuki Break.
For the Crab, the Gozoku is a dark time. Supplies are few, and the Shadowlands is not contained behind a wall. As they fight, the Empire is increasingly turning a blind eye towards their protectors, ignoring their sacrifices even as they die. The average Crab is bitter and resentful towards the Imperial Court and its attendants, though few would refuse the power it would bring.
Current Families: Hida, Hiruma, Kaiu, Kuni, Yasuki
Available Schools: Crab Avenger, Hida Berserker (WotCrab), Hida Bushi, Hiruma Bushi (Bearers of Jade), Kaiu Engineer (WotCrab), Kuni Shugenja, Kuni Witch-Hunter (WotCrab), Yasuki Merchant (WotCrab)
The Crane Clan
"We do not miss the Yasuki; their disgrace has made our honor strong." - Doji Raigu
Even before the rise of the Gozoku, the Crane Clan prospered. Without the
Yasuki, the Daidoji have advanced greatly in trading and merchant games,
absorbing the loyal members of the fallen family. For the Crane, it is a time
for the flowering of art and beauty in Otosan Uchi; few want for anything, and
there are many chances to win honor and glory in Rokugan's name.
Of the three clans involved in the Gozoku, it is ironic that the Crane Clan that is least affected by the conspiracies many changes. While the Phoenix and Scorpion have greatly increased their power in the court, the Doji have always possessed powerful influence, and Doji Raigu has made no real effort to improve their place, as he considers his punishment of the Crab to be a private affair. To those Crane who know the truth, most see the Gozoku seems exactly the ideal that it began as: a thing of beauty, to be protected with honor and resolve.
Current Families: Asahina, Daidoji, Doji, Kakita, Yasuki (remnants)
Available Schools: Asahina Shugenja, Daidoji Iron Warriors (WotSam), Daidoji Yojimbo, Doji Courtier (WotCrane), Falling Rain (New), Kakita Artisan (WotCrane), Kakita Bushi, Kenshinzen
The Dragon Clan
"There are no prophecies here that protect or destroy the Hantei." - Bayushi Atsuki, after a private conservation with a Dragon diplomat
Enigmatic. Of all the clans in the Empire, the Dragon Clan seems least
affected (and least interested) in the changes to the Mandate of Heaven.
Following the Test of the Emerald Champion (believed by many to be the true
beginning of Gozoku rule) the Dragon withdrew more than half its ambassadors to
the mountains, leaving only a few ise zumi behind. The Crane Clan has maintained
its rice shipments to the clan, and they have been given few causes for
compliant. The average Dragon knows nothing of the Gozoku, though it is believed
that they have a few experts that have watched the conspiracy for some time.
The only true source of tension is the Dragon Clan Champion, Togashi Tsuriau, who has appeared in the middle of delicate dealings several times. Though no one understands his motives, it is obvious that Tsuriau (previously thought to be a straightforward Champion by Togashi standards) has a hidden agenda. The Gozoku, and Bayushi Atsuki in particular, do not seem to like that at all.
Current Families: Agasha, Mirumoto, Togashi
Available Schools: Agasha Shugenja, Dragon Spirit-Binders, Mirumoto Bushi, Mirumoto Swordmaster, Togashi Ise Zumi
The Lion Clan
"For the Hantei!" - Oath of the Imperialists
The Lion Clan has suffered more than its neighbors, having reeled from the
blame of Fuwija/Fujiwa, and then being further weakened and insulted by the
machinations of Shiba Gaijushiko and Doji Raigu. Like the Crab, the Lion Clan
seems quite willing to withdraw into their own provinces for the time being,
binding their time in hope that the politicians will find their own strength
There is a prominent faction within the clan, however, that remains true to the Lion Clan's claim to being the most loyal clan to the Hantei. It is here that the Imperialist movement has started, and despite the efforts of the Gozoku and even their own Champion it seems apparent that their ideals are in Rokugan to stay.
Current Families: Akodo, Ikoma, Kitsu, Matsu
Available Schools: Akodo (Lion) Bushi, Ikoma Omoidasu, Kitsu Shugenja, Kitsu Sodan-Senzo (WotShugenja), Lion's Pride, Matsu Bushi
The Phoenix Clan
"The Hantei have forsaken the wisdom of Shinsei, but the Phoenix never shall." - Isawa Hayasaka, Master of Air
For the Phoenix, the Gozoku period is a time for both revenge and
revitalization, as they find gold filling their coffers and turn the Mandate of
Heaven towards reclaiming lands stolen from them during the Battle of No-Strike
years ago. The Council of Masters has left political matters in the hands of
Shiba Gaijushiko, fully willing the permit him to rule while they ponder deeper
mysteries. It is obvious to the Shiba that the Isawa do not care for the Empire…which
has left it in their care.
Of the three clans that form the Gozoku, more Phoenix are aware of its existence than the number of Crane and Scorpion combined. Like the Doji, they believe that this mission is in the best interest of the Empire, and even those who disagree with their Champion's actions serve quietly, and hope for the best. After all, Gaijushiko bears the Soul of Shiba; how could he fail?
Current Families: Asako, Isawa, Shiba
Available Schools: Asako Henshin, Isawa Shugenja, Honkai Style (New), Isawa Tensai (WotPhoenix), Phoenix Elemental Guard, Shiba Bushi, Shiba Yojimbo
The Scorpion Clan
"Let them call me villain; I do my best to uphold the claim." - Bayushi Atsuki
Despite the powerful influence and wealth that the Gozoku has supplied them,
there are many in the Scorpion Clan who are dissatisfied, and Bayushi Atsuki
walks a dangerous line. Though many wish to be seen as equals, the Champion
still remains in the shadows, allowing Raigu or Gaijushiko to claim glory and
win fame. In his eyes, the Bayushi belong in the shadows behind the Gozoku, but
the lure of wealth and power is corrupting, and already there are those who do
not wish to see things remain the "old ways."
Now is a time for some Scorpion to become the villains their detractors always claimed them to be, while others are proving just how deep the loyalty of ninja and spies can go.
Current Families: Bayushi, Shosuro, Soshi, Yogo
Available Schools: Bayushi Bushi, Bayushi Courtier, Scorpion Supai, Shosuro Actor, Shosuro Assassin, Soshi Shugenja, Yogo Shugenja