Before man was born from the tears of the sun and blood of the moon, there was the earth. Before the kami fell from the sky, there were spirits. Before the land of Rokugan ever knew the touch of man's hand, there was life, love, art, and civilization. The ancient peoples of Rokugan were quite unlike the race of man. Each of them were unique in form and spirit. Among these ancient races walked the creatures many people know today only as Rock Goblins. They refer to themselves as the Zokujin, translating directly into their own language as "those who wait."
Unlike the impatient, warlike race of man, the Zokujin are patient and introspective by nature. Conflict is alien to them; disputes are settled peacably. Unfortunately, their pacifistic attitude led them to become targets for the more agressive races. They were hunted almost to extinction before the spirit of the earth took pity on them. The earth invited the zokujin into its bosom, where they would ever be safe from those who would seek to do them harm. Since then, all zokujin have possessed a kinship with the earth itself, bending stone and metal to their will.
In the time of man, the zokujin still find themselves targets for enslavement and subjugation. Mistaken for demons of the Shadowlands, the Lion Clan attacked the zokujin as soon as they discovered their existence. When the zokujin meekly surrendered themselves, the Lion forced them into lives of labor and slavery. Their unique abilities to meld the earth to their will made them excellent miners, and the Lion Clan built a healthy fortune upon the back of generations of zokujin.
The Lion enslave them still. Zokujin are different than humans, with different strengths and weaknesses. The Kitsu family uses them extensively to work with hazardous chemicals and radioactive substances. The largest Kitsu owned corporation, Okurachem, is estimated to have nearly one million zokujin "working" in its employ. Unfortunately for their kind, Rokugani law has never officially recognized their race as intelligent beings with rights and free will of their own (due in great part to Lion legislation).
Many Zokujin do not care. It is their way to be patient. Their enemies will be punished by the great spirit of the earth. Many others look upon the rights gained by the nezumi, and are inspired. They look upon the extinction mankind has inflicted upon the proud kenku, and are afraid. These zokujin have sworn to make the people of Rokugan recognize their rights to live as intelligent beings. By any means necessary.
In the meantime, many more are free of subjugation. Living in caves deep below the earth and keeping well away from the clutches of mankind, they seek only one thing. The spirit of all magic in the world. The greatest gift of the earth spirit. The Bloodwhite Stone.
What is the Bloodwhite Stone? It is uncertain. Few zokujin speak of it to humans, and fewer still are able to present cohesive descriptions of this legendary item. Only one thing is certain: it is a very powerful artifact of great magic, an artifact lost by their race many thousands of years ago, before the time of man, when a great tragedy befell the earth.
The zokujin call this time Shokajin Rekna. "The Day of Broken Thunder."
Important Tribes of the Zokujin
Rejn are the largest tribe of zokujin on the surface of Rokugan. They are, on the whole, enslaved by the Lion Clan. They labor in mines, work in the chemical factories of Okurachem, and perform other dangerous activities too risky for even eta to be wasted upon. Life is cheap for the Rejn tribe, but things are changing. Thanks to the heroic exploits of their charismatic leader, Argcklt, even the Lion are beginning to realize that perhaps they have underestimated these creatures...
Magn F'Chka are the oldest tribe of zokujin. They are a revered tribe of scholars living deep beneath the earth, occasionally sought out by other zokujin when a great omen needs to be interpreted or some unfathomable question needs to be answered. Very rarely, the youngsters (less than four hundred years old) of the Magn F'Chka will be sent to the surface to witness great events first hand, so they may be recorded for posterity. There are few Magn F'Chka on the surface of Rokugan currently, but their numbers seem to be rapidly growing.
Zesh a name spoken in whispers by the zokujin. The Zesh are the Red Tribe, those who have begun their own path. They have abandoned the peaceful, introspective life of the zokujin and begun a new life: one of revenge. Their leader, a violent firebrand named Irzgelnz, believes that the humans have broken the Bloodwhite Stone. For that, their entire race must die.
Note: Some general statistics for Zokujin can be found on page 19 of Walking the Way (yes, Walking the Way) for the l5r RPG.