Shadows of the night
The Koga family is a ronin family who can track back her history to the dawn of the Empire. They have never been recognized as a family by the Emperor, but they still cling to the title, that came from the traditions of the tribes that lived in Rokugan before the fall of the Kami.
The Koga have a long and shadowed history. They was in the past a tribe of humans that lived peacefully (meaning they fought from time to time their neighbors, and some others times trading with them, depending of the leader and the situation) near Mizu-umi no Sakura Yuki (Lake of blossom snow, EEE on the map) south of the Dark forest (the little forest east of the end of Shinomen).
When the Kami came to conquer those lands, the Koga wasn’t happy of bowing their head to the newcomers. They found the forces of the growing clans, but they couldn’t win. The Koga then looked at the others tribes, and needed to take a decision. Half the tribe goes to bow and join the Bayushi family of the Scorpion clan, and the other half refused to surrender. They fled north, using the superstitions of the forest and the Naga ruins (N3 : Siksa, N4 : Nirukti) to avoid the hunt.
Hunted, homeless and defeated, the tribe of Koga chooses to survive in the difficult lands and keep going north. They finally build their new home north of the Tani Hitokage, the valley of spirits (CB20), in the forest between it and the naga city of Iyotisha (N1). Then, knowing they couldn’t survive by facing their enemy directly, the survivors choose to learn to fight in the shadows. They had until the end of the first war against Fu-leng (in 42 of the Rokuganni calendar) to prepare themselves.
When the Imperial cartographers and then the tax collectors showed up, they didn’t found the secret grotto of the Koga. They found a little village named Mie Mura, who quickly bowed to the Imperial magistrates and paid their taxes. A new point was built, as the ronin village of Mie Mura. With the Ki-rin exodus soon after, the Koga had little direct neighbors. They have moved out of the range of most Scorpions, the Lion was more interested looking north, and the last servant of the Ki-rin was not numerous enough to care so south of their provinces.
The Koga started to bid their time and prepared themselves.
The Koga today :
The Koga are still based in the small village of Mie Mura. Being a region lacking of lot of resources, they have so prevented most peoples to take a particular interest in their holdings. Born of the fear of the Kami at first, the Koga started to understand they was children of gods, and that they had the right to rule ( not like the Kolat), but the system they build was giving too much power to the kuge and not enough to the buke, and crushing under the heimin and hinin. Despite a good part of the Koga being samurai, ronin, yes, but samurai, then didn’t liked the way the lower classes was treated, neither the fact they have been defeated and hunted.
At first the Koga tried to create changes, but they aren’t the Kolat or the Gozoku (despite both groups really helping the Koga about making life easier for the heimin and hinin) so their political attempts were inexistent. So they worked differently. Having been forced to live hidden and hunted, the Koga learned to live with the shadows. They learned to walk in silence and to escape the magistrates as they escaped before the scouts of the Scorpion. So they started to assassinate peoples. They have been lucky and efficient, avoiding the Scorpion clan as much as possible.
Luckily, after the ninja decree around 490, the Koga started to get more freedom.
The ninja decree is an order of Hantei X, father of Hantei Hohiro and Otomo Jama, which order the Scorpion champion of this time, Bayushi Hajioki, to execute all his Shinobi agents. Following the order, Bayushi Aramoro, brother of Hajioki and leader of the Shinobi came to the imperial court with many of his agents and they get executed (with the notable exception of Bayushi Goju and a handful of followers, who get contacted by the Lying Shadow and jointed it to save their life). The Scorpion still trained Shinobi, but after this time they started to be more discreet and kill less. And that let the Koga prosper.
With time going on, the clans started to have a need for hired killers and their own assassination attempts of political figures didn’t lead the Koga family really far. So they turned into a group of ronin pursuing the ideals of their ancestors, but more of their daily life now is to be a group of hired killers. Like this they train followers, increase their wealth, eliminate some figures and prepare the few assassinations and threatening attempts that matters to the leaders of the Koga family. They are here since centuries, and they know that the dreams of their ancestors can’t really happen. But they are going to make the best of what they have and follow the traditions.
Training of the Koga :
The Koga knows they are just a Jizumai of ronin claming the title of family, the title of tribe being not really welcome in the modern minds. So they train discreetly, at the north of the Shinomen forest in a small series of caverns lost in the forest. Those caverns are difficult to access, especially for the Naga, and are remotely far from the village to avoid the imperial magistrates to ever be able to found it by mistakes. Those provinces being extremely far from the major occupied areas, the closest clan being the Badger and its general knowledge the clan have been always left to his isolationism, the ronin family’s headquarters are so well protected.
The students of the Koga are named Genin and are choose among the lines of the Koga who still live in the village. Most of them are samurai, but some are heimin too. Their is no distinction among them, expect for the few who are shugenja : no heimin ever showed the gift to talk to the kami, only those of samurai lines. Even if the samurai lines tend to have more power than the heimin lines, it’s mostly by the training and life of the samurai helping those to reach better levels. But heimin showing lots of promises are equal to the samurai, because the Koga judge their members of their abilities.
The genin are made in groups of three students who train themselves together until their gempukku. It’s a collective gempukku : the entire team pass, or all the team try again. Once they have passed their gempukku, they are now chunin. They later, around rank 3, became Jonin. A team of chunin has always a kunoichi, a female ninja, who follow mostly the same training with some special classes. After becoming chunin, every agent operates independently. They always have clues where the others are, so they can team-up if needed, but they usually operate alone for most missions. They sometimes use the mon of the family, the yin / yang symbol, as a message. They get their orders from the Jonin, who get them from the elders.
The training is hard, involving a lot of training with straw targets, climbing and fighting in the caverns and forests of the secret training place of the Koga. It’s not really different of the Shosuro Shinobi training, expect they have no field trial where they run in black pajamas. The Genin works in small team and operate small operations of spying. That later, after they reach chunin that they start to have operations of infiltrations and poisoning, but the actual assassination is only done but the jonin.
The shugenja are trained differently. Since their is only a handful of Koga shugenja at a time, they are precious and formed in the best way possible. They are usually trained following the rules of the traditional priest school, with affinity air. Their teaching include of lot of shinobi training, but also a lot about theology. Despite understanding their is wisdom in the Tao of Shinsei, the Koga usually consider it as some nice quotes, and a lot of talk about concepts they consider false. The Koga family, like the Koga tribe, only believes in the fortunes, mostly the seven great fortunes and the unnamed fortunes (Kaze-no-kami of the wind, Yama-no-kami of the mountains and Musube-no-kami of the weddings) who take a really important part in the way the Koga lives now.
The organization of the Koga :
The Koga family is ruled by the elders, who are always the three most skilled ninjas of the family. They are usually called the uncles, followed by a nickname choose depending of their skills, as it was tradition in the Koga tribe. They have total control of the family decisions and activities, and they took 50% of every contract a Koga member is paid to do.
Then under the elders are the Jonin, the elite ninjas. They are only 30 but they are skilled and really able to even match Shosuro Shinobi and experienced ninjas of others clans. They lack the resources of the great clans, but they also enjoy the possibilities of acting as heimin and other low classes, since they have always lived with them.
The jonin get their assignments from the Elders, but the actual contracts are rarely passed by the jonin or the elders. It’s actually elders Chunin who have for duty to found contracts and get the money, before passing down the information. Once the mission is taken by a Chunin, he will need to found a Jonin able to do it or do it by himself. For that he often uses the Genin as spies and information-brokers so he gets an edge of the defender. Using the information provided by the Genin, the Jonin and Chunin can so do their missions without too much troubles.
Religion and traditions :
The Koga are highly traditional and so revere the same fortunes since the origins of their tribe. They have many antics ways of presenting themselves to another using bowing and fan language. They often pray the fortunes before going in operation, mostly Kaze-no-kami before infiltrating, Yama-no-kami when they have to wait and Ebisu, because their job to be honest and working to make a better world. At least, the idealists believe that.
Nearly all the Koga show disrespect to the Tao, and the Taoist monks are not really welcome in their village. At contrary, despite their blaspheme against Shinsei, the monks revering the fortunes are welcome, especially if they serve a fortune that was here before the Kami. The old Jonin often retire as monks and take parts to the different celebrations of the life of samurai and peasants alike.
Peoples are welcome to join the family if they can prove their worth.
(shapeshifter school 2 / traditional priest (air) 2)
Uncle New is a strange one. Always jumping around, playing pranks, hyperactive, talking fast and doing amazing stuff. The truth is that he is a Saru named Kizoku, a monkey hengeyokai, who joined the family 20 years ago. He is a cruel one, banished by his own kin, and that why he looked for a place where he could kill when he wanted. He found the Koga family and using his powers, he get accepted and slowly worked his way up to the place of elder. He knows start to feel the way of Mortality, the taint of Ningen-do. Killing is one of his taboo, but despite all his efforts the feel of Chikashudo is slowly vanishing in him. He needs to return, but how can he now ? Walking the spirit realms is out of the reach of his magic, and no hengeyokai will help an exile…
In an appearance he is an old monk with shaved head expect for the white strings on the side. He loves to plays around, walking with a stick covered with bells.
(Koga shinobi 5)
Koga Ichigo is a really dangerous man, because he has a great mastery of poison, hence the name he chooses when joining the elders. 30 years old, he is one of the most fervent follower of the ideal of the Koga to help the lower classes. He keep a firm hand on the family, and those who doesn’t agree with the elders soon found one of Poison’s students, a Jonin wearing a kabuki mask, hunting them. He is the head of the Elders and the leader de-facto of the family. He is rude, doesn’t listen to others peoples a lot and keep pushing peoples to make the things works.
He is small, his hands colored with ink whatever he can do, showing early signs of age because of the effects of many chemicals he worked with. He collects Netsuke, small figurines used sometimes as toys and for prayers.
(Shiba bushi 1 / Koga Shinobi 3 / Ronin duelist 1)
Aunt Red’s true name is Shiba Sesai Kinuko, she joined the family 20 years ago and was trained along Uncle New, and that how they both ended as leaders of the family. Aunt Red was banned from her clan after doing her job protecting the honor of the Isawa, but it badly needed an assassination and she get caught after doing it. They didn’t have any way to know it was her, but the daimyo testified against her to save his face. She was so banned and was supposed to be executed, but she escaped with a deep hatred for the higher classes, who just needed to say something to be the truth. She then walked in Rokugan, later meeting (Hoshi) Kaelung who taught her the intermediate levels of the Nagai Michinori martial art (way of the open hand page 89). Using her new skills, she meets Uncle New and then both joined the Koga family.
She has a crush on Uncle New, but the hengeyokai doesn’t care, and she doesn’t know his secret. Despite her age, 34, she still look beautiful with long black hair going down her back, with little stray of grey, and a really athletic body.
(Koga Shinobi 3)
Koga Junji is one of the best student of the Koga family, and a powerful Jonin. He is specialized to work in the Crane provinces, where their is always an handful of Crane willing to pay an hired sword to kill somebody. He works alone, trying the best to avoid leaving any clue to his sworn enemy Yotsu Dagurasu. Despite trying to get away of the Koga family, he still pay his fee to them, because of the help they give him when he need to get away of the bounty hunters.
Junji is a common man, the type of guy no one ever remembers the visage after talking to him, wearing orange and brown kimono and a katogan for his hair.
(Koga Shinobi 2)
This 20 years old girl is quite unimpressive, but she start to be famous as Otaki the panda girl in many courts. She is officially a normal ronin that offer her talents as entertainer in courts, showing her trained panda doing tricks for the pleasure of children. The panda is a rare animal in Rokugan, and even more to see one trained. Otaki have a special relationship with the one she named Papa bear and have trained him good. Now, she has a great way to enter any court and get as much information as she can in it. Because she is a spy and information broker, her job being to give the information the Jonin are going to need to do their missions. Even when she goes to a court where she has no actual mission in, she memorized much information that will help later infiltration of her fellow Koga.
A bit small, and tiny, she is like a small porcelain figurine with her really pale skin and soft voice. Peoples who see her playing with her panda often thinks he is going to break her.
Information: The Koga is not an officially recognized ronin family by the Emperor like the Tsi or the Yotsu. This group of ninja, spies and assassins swear to put an end to the nobility of
Rokugan to have more power to the lower samurai classes. They are mostly criminals to
the Emperor’s justice.
Special: + 1 awareness
Koga shinobi school (Bushi / Ninja)
The Koga have centuries of training behind each of their techniques, like the Great clan. They are highly trained and efficient spies and assassins that live in the shadows. They learned much of stealth and are redoubtable opponents.
Bonus : + 1 reflexes
Starting honor : 0,5
Starting outfit : wakizashi, ninja-to, ten shuriken, tanto, dark clothing, kimono and sandals, traveling pack, 3 koku.
Skills : acting, stealth, deceit (lying), ninja ranged weapons, knives (tanto), athletics and poison.
Rank 1 : Observe the enemy.
The young Genin learns about observing the enemy and learning what he is going to do next for his own advantage. Increase your TN to be hit by your fire rank as long as you can move. Gain a free raise for every three full turns of observation, than can be used on any attack roll, or to give yourself a + 5 bonus to your TN to be hit for one of his attack. You can observe as a simple action as long as you don’t attack. You can’t earn more than two times your insight rank free raises by this technique. Those free raises are lost after 12 hours if not used.
Rank 2 : Men of cunning.
The Chunin masters a big number of techniques, but each of them have a special skill that makes them better for some missions. Choose one of your school starting skills. You have a free raise when using it. Add your air ring to your stealth and acting rolls.
Rank 3 : Behind the night’s shadow.
The Koga ninja are know for their talents. You can now spend a void point on your damage rolls against unaware targets. Add your Fire ring two times to your TntbH, replacing the bonus from rank 1.
Rank 4 : The Silent Murder
The Jonin are skilled killers. They know how to infiltrate a shiro to assassine their targets, but they also know how to strikes the guards to break away if discovered. You add twice your air ring to acting and stealth rolls replacing the bonus from rank 2. You can now make two attacks as long as they don’t target unaware opponents.
Rank 5 : The darkest shadows
The few who masters all the teaching of the Koga family are really dangerous assassins. Your water rank is increased by 2 for your movement speed at any time. You can reroll once a failed stealth roll, but the second roll must be kept. You earn a free rank in the fleet advantage, cumulative with previous fleet ranks. You can spend void points for damage using ninja ranged weapons-based weapons.
The Koga and others :
The Kolat : the Koga have little to do with the Kolat. Expect sharing assassination targets, the Koga despite the Kolat for their attempts at trying to stop the karmic wheel.
The Gozoku : the Gozoku paid the Koga handsomely for the few killings and information they needed, but the Koga doesn’t care about their purpose and objectives.
The Shadow : the Koga have lost a lot of their members to the Shadow, especially during the war against the Shadow. They don’t have any ways to fight it, but they are more than willing to help peoples fighting it. They know little of it.
The Shadowlands : the Koga doesn’t like loosing their own will to some devil gods. The Taint is hated by them.
The clans : the Crane is their main enemy, and also their first customer. The Koga are quite happy of this. They have troubles with the Dragon and Mantis, who are difficult to access, and tend to not attack the Crab because of their position on the wall. The Koga try their best to stay away of the Scorpion, who have a few times destroyed teams of Koga. The name of Bayushi Toru is often whispered…
Appendix: lost techniques:
(Those techniques are for Rezan’s technique from a web supplement for the 2nd edition, and for the two others from the Way of the Dragon for Clan wars miniature game. The spell came from the CCG)
- Rezan’s technique (bushi) :
New path of rank 2
The famous poet was a great duelist, and he created his own technique. Few are known to have learned it, and not a lot more can tell they have seen it. The ronin was quite discreet about himself and the true story of how became of one Rokugan’s greatest duelist.
Requirements: reflexes 5, intelligence 4, courtier 2, Iaijutsu 3, deceit (intimidation) 3
Path of entry: any ronin bushi school 1
Path of egress: re-enter the same school at rank 2, or enter a new ronin bushi school 1.
Technique: Rezan’s haiku
The bushi can make as a free action a contested roll of his awareness against the willpower of his target. It’s an intimidation attempt. If he wins, the opponent is destabilized. The bushi can now increase his TN to be hit against this opponent by 10 for Air rank rounds, or earn a free raise for Air rank attacks against him. This technique can be used during a duel, before starting to focus but after the awareness roll, and can be used in one against one, but not when the bushi is against more than one opponent.
- Dance of the Yari (bushi)
New path of rank 2
Mirumoto Sakiro has been barely able to get his gempukku because whatever he was trying, he was not able to master the sword. He tried others weapons, but he was always unbalanced, until he started with the yari. He created his own arcane of yari mastery, using the long pole as a balance for his body movements. He taught only a few bushi during the Clan wars, because only those who wanted to devote fully themselves to this new philosophy could master it.
Requirements: agility 4, reflexes 4, spears (Yari) 5, be a bushi of the Dragon clan.
Path of entry: any bushi school 1.
Path of egress: re-enter the same school at rank 2, or enter a ronin bushi school 1.
Technique: unfettered attack
Sakiro’s technique used the length of his polearm to keep an important advantage on his opponents, even if they were using spears and polearm like him. This great advantage was so able to cancel the advantages of enemies to keep the upper hand. When using a weapon using the spears skill, you have a + 1g0 to your initiative roll. You are also immune to opponents’ tides of battle rolls: they cannot reduce your initiative by using them. You can use the tides of battle on any opponent you have wounded, even if they have wounded you too, if you use a weapon using the spears skill and your opponent is using a weapon that doesn’t use the spears, chain weapons, or polearms skills.
Kata: infantry stand
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Duration: 180 minutes
Creation of Mirumoto Kiza, a young Mirumoto bushi during the Clan wars, this kata has one and unique function: to be used to destroy undead. No one knows why the young Kiza, when sent to visit the Kaiu wall, started his obsession about destroying undead. When he came back from the Crab lands, he started to practice only his new ideas about how to fight undead. During the Crab’s alliance with the Shadowlands, he proved his technique.
Rank: any Dragon bushi school 1
Special: this kata can only be used against undead.
Effect: when attacking an undead, the bushi learn to use the slowness of the undead against them to strike at their weak points. Undead carapace is reduced by 1 against your attacks using edged weapons. Add 3 to all your damage roll against undead, and when you cut a limb of an undead, you can add or subtract 1 after making the roll (see page 283 of the third edition for the cutting limb roll).
Strength of Osano-wo
Fire mastery 2
Duration : 10 rounds
Area of effect : one character with more than 0.0 in honor.
Range : 25′
This spell make the target feel the strength of your honor and devotion. It creates a number of honor points equal to your honor ranks. Those honor points can be used like void points, but are not void points. A character can use it to activate the Hida technique the Mountain does not move, but a Shiba near him can’t use his techniques to earn void points. When used, you loose a number of wounds equal to the ring or the trait used by the skill used (if any). For example, you use it on an attack roll, you are going to loose a number of wounds equal to your agility rank, but if you use those points to act when you are down, you loose no wounds since their is no ring or trait used. It’s the one using the points who takes the wounds, and he is aware when using them of how many wounds he is going to loose.