Kensei is a tabletop wargame produced by Zenit Miniatures set in Not-Japan, semi-historical although with optional fantasy elements. Not to be confused with the "totally not a samurai!" Fighter kit from Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. If you liked Total War Shogun 2, this is basically the tabletop version.
The skirmish-level version of Kensei is Torii.
For a guide to gameplay see:
Kensei is a setting which is very similar to our world, although the fictionalization allows them to have greater freedom with factions and have their version of Japan, called Hymukai, be lightly anachronistic as well as adding magic elements. Hymukai, also called the "Wa Empire" by other peoples and the Dragon's Empire or Dragon's Islands a few times in the lore, is located off the coast of the Ashihara (not-Asia) continent.
Note that the first edition manual was translated somewhat poorly from the native Spanish language, and as a result had spelling errors in addition to sometimes switching between the not-______ names and the real life name. Second edition, released on May 12th 2017, fixed these errors.
When the universe began the Ama, also called the Celestial Kingdom, was made up of both light and dark with gods and demons as its denizens. The celestial balance ended when the gods, believing themselves to be firstborn in creation, started the Great War to remove the demons from their lands. The demons were expelled and took up residence in the infernal kingdom called Jigoku. The supreme goddess Arimasu cried tears of joy at seeing Ama without the demons. These tears fell into the sea of the mortal world (sometimes called the Intermediate World or the Earthly Kingdom), which became the islands of Hymukai. The gods consider Hymukai a sacred place, and it is the frontline in the war between Ama and Jigoku.
The history of Hymukai begins when the gods created a woman to lead mankind, the Empress named Suiko Tenno and gave her four magical objects that would enable her to keep the mortal world safe. The clans of Hymukai swore allegiance to her, each being associated with one of the objects.
- The holy Katana granted the strength to react and attack threats to the world, and the warrior clans came to represent it.
The noble families who ruled the further, more rural lands obeyed the will of the Kuge and were the first defense against threats. They became the warrior class, the bulk of the samurai, and developed the Bushido code. Samurai could become members of Kuge households or marry into a Kuge family, but the non-Kuge noble clans became known as Buke.
- The holy O-Yoroi, samurai armor, grants resistance against adversity and the endurance of tradition and order, with the highest of nobility representing it. Those high nobles who dwelled in Heian-Jo and the nearby regions served the Tenno directly, and had authority over all others became known as the Kuge.
- The Magatama, a collar representing wealth and lifestyle which the mercantile clans became associated with. They are made up of powerful families who run the towns and city infrastructure of Hymukai, as well as all trade. Technically the servants of the Buke, these families are considered low class and often barely better than peasants if even that as the Buke see little worth respect in their way of life. These families are commonly called Otokodate. They follow their own code called Kikotsu which is based on Bushido.
- The Kagami, a mirror representing knowledge of oneself and spirituality which the religious clans are represented by. The priesthood of Hymukai enjoy autonomy from the feudal system. They are loyal to the Kami themselves, and the Tenno as a result, through which they distantly serve the Kuge and to a lesser extent the Buke. Priests and nuns are not required to be chaste in most cases, and usually a temple is run by a single family who accepts any of dedication into their clan. Each temple controls lands and peasants to be independent of Kuge or Buke. The religious clans are called Sohei.
Suiko's reign was one of unrivaled stability and is known now as the "Golden Dawn" due to the wealth and population growth. When she came of age she married a saint, as per the command of the gods who created her. So long as her lineage remained pure the world would be safe from evil with the firstborn child always a girl who would become Empress. Tradition dictated that the Empress remain in the Imperial Palace surrounded by her court until the end of autumn each year when she lead them to the winter residence for six months, the journey being the only time that they could see her realm. Nine generations and 500 years of such peace passed before the reign of Empress Jingu.
It was during her reign that the first seeds of evil were sown in Hymukai. The secret ninja clan called the Hattori saw a great shakeup in power. Previously they were lead by one Grand Master who is served by two subordinate masters, the Master Of Venoms and the Master Of Shadows. The Master Of Venoms named Tsi Huann created a formula which he claimed would grant eternal life. The Master Of Shadows Shisu Kage drank it, but instead of immortality he became a living shadow. The Grand Master Nagi ordered Tsi to continue to refine the formula while Shisu became the ultimate assassin, killing anyone anywhere with no chance of struggle, and was paid in prisoners who's life force he drained while consuming their eyes and tongues. When the formula was perfected Nagi and Tsi drank it, becoming truly immortal.
Not long after Empress Jingu was attacked by four Onmyouiji (wizards devoted to one of the aspects of the universe) sworn to the demons, who summoned a small demon force to attack. The (called a throne, referring actually to a "litter" which is essentially a walled carriage carried by four people) of the Empress broke and she fell out, seeing that the battle had left all of her soldiers dead save a single soldier named Tagesho and a giant Oni. Tagesho killed the Oni while Jingu wept for the deaths of her servants. Jingu fell in love with him, and thus broke the covenant of the gods by marrying a mere mortal soldier.
Three years later she gave birth to twin sons. The people were divided on whether this heralded terrible destruction or beautiful change for their people. Jingu named her sons Sujin and Kogen (Kogen is vaguely analogous to real life Kamuyawimimi, Suijin's story is a combination of multiple figures although primarily Emperor Suizei and Emperor Suijin). Sujin was older and wise, studious, and saintly while Kogen was youthful, athletic, competitive, and hasty. Kogen was the favored son of Tagesho, who took him away from the stifling court to hunt or train in combat and military leadership. After Tagesho died from fever while the boys were 16 they became competitive with each other to be seen as his successor, which only became worse as adults when they competed for the love of a courtier named Saimei. Insult gave way to fighting and grew to true resentment. Jingu was sickened from the spiritual discord in her family, and both brothers sought a way to cure her; Sujin from scholars and Kogen from the faithful. As she grew weaker Sujin assumed her duties at the court spiritually and in regards to external politics while Kogen lead her armies and maintained the internal politics. After two years pacifying the realm Kogen returned and expected a hero's welcome, and instead was merely granted the honors a commoner soldier would receive and was chastised by Sujin for leaving him to run an empire alone, while Kogen responded similarly for Sujin burying himself in luxury while Kogen struggled abroad. When the argument reached a breaking point Kogen left the palace, unwilling to duel his brother to the death on the sacred ground of the palace, instead gathering his armies for a civil war. This shattered the peace of Hymukai and the spiritual destruction resulted in the death of Jingu and the shattering of the magical protection of the gods.
Meanwhile, the son of the Hattori Grand Master Nagi named Saki had become skilled and powerful alongside his friend Hamato Yoshi. But Saki couldn't succeed his father if his father was immortal, and he began a hidden civil war of sabotaging missions resulting in the deaths of loyal supporters on both sides. Only with the help of Shisu Kage was Saki able to kill his father. Thus they began their plan to destroy the imperial line. Saki's friend Yoshi had overheard the plan, and he managed to escape them and find refuge among the Sohei.
Sujin had the elite troops and resources of the empire, while Kogen had numerical superiority and experience but was low on supplies. Both had an equal amount of claim to the loyalty of the great clans. Kogen first won over the clans of the Kuge nobility, seeing advantage in his political ignorance. Choosing to press ahead with a heretical siege of the imperial city left him without time to win over the other three great clans, so he instead decided to send three of his seven most loyal generals, the Shichi no Kogen to secure their aid should his attack fail. The three appealed to the virtues of confidence, honor, and duty, each swearing themselves personally to the clans in order to begin negotiation for their aid. None of the three were able to secure an alliance in time, since Sujin declared himself Emperor and announced marriage to Saimei in order to enrage his impulsive brother and cause him to attack immediately; it worked. Sato, highest ranked of the Shichi no Kogen, remained as Kogen's second in command.
At the Sukihoma Plains, 40 km from the capital Hejian-Jo, he set up camp and waited for the Kuge army. Sujin's army had superior arms and the largest gathering of cavalry ever seen, while the Kogen flanked from the north. However the Kuge betrayed Kogen, attacking his army and resulting in a slaughter. Kogven refused to surrender, and once he was wounded Sato appealed to him to retreat to the fortress Kaidan. Kogen refused, and only upon losing unconsciousness did Sato order the retreat. It took thirty days for the army to make it to Kaidan, and for two days Kogen refused to speak and simply gazed while his face was locked in anger. The army prepared to make a stand at the fortress while Sato sent messages to the three Shichi no Kogen ambassadors about what had happened, and to hurry their negotiations. Meanwhile, Sujin utilized Kuge propaganda to instill the idea in the rest of the court that Kogen was a butcher and sinner, Sujin a saint and hero. The Kuge pushed Sujin to declare himself Emperor and marry Saimei for real as soon as possible in order to secure themselves as the only clan with his ear.
- Hikari Ryu was the oldest of the Shichi no Kogen, and was sent to the largest of the Sohei clans. He was patient, and best known for training Kogen's recruits. The monks had no love for him or Kogen's plans however, seeing no advantage to be gained personally and the discord from the war as a more pressing concern than the outcome. Hikari was surprised to find the monks were already accomplished warriors due to their disciplined life and work ethic. When message came of Kogen's defeat as well as a request for supplies and aid, he demanded an audience with the Abbot. Rather than his previous appeals to glory and riches, Hikari told him of the Kuge betrayal and that their goal was to disrupt the balance and rule entirely over the other clans and that in exchange for aid he himself would become a monk. The Abbot asked for three days to discuss the matter with the other Sohei clans, but needed only two before informing Hikari that the Sohei were prepared for war.
- Kimura Key was the youngest of the Shichi no Kogen at only 17, and was a legendary duelist. Key was without prejudice against the young and progressive Otokodate, and was sent to meet with them. The Otokodate clans were unified under the Regend Board, lead by elders, who mocked him for his youth. Key responded by challenging their best warrior to a duel to the death, which they accepted. His requirement was that with a win they would hear out Kogen's request, and with a loss they would keep his Daisho (sword set) to sell. The next morning on the beach he killed their best in an honorable duel, the two samurai showing each other respect. Key became a servant of the Otokodate, who marched to war in exchange for official recognition among the other great clans and exclusivity in shipping routes.
- Odoka Hiro was the most lethal of the Shichi no Kogen, and was sent to the Buke. The Buke had obeyed their oaths, and considered them part of Sujin's army. Hiro was immediately arrested and placed in a cell for execution. Tora Tadayoshi, the young Daiymo of the Buke, was fascinated by Hiro's suicidal actions. When he found Hiro meditating peacefully he was even more perplexed. Hiro explained he was merely following his master's orders, and that his duty in the Bushido code required it above self-preservation. Tadayoshi reminded him that honor was also a part of Bushido, which Hiro responded was the dilemma of the code; duty and honor in balance. Hiro then told Tadayoshi about Kogen, and the nature of the conflict. That Kogen was a warrior while Sujin was a politician, and Kogen becoming Emperor would result in the code of Bushido being codified in Hymukai. Tadayoshi replied that the Buke must serve the throne and that Hiro must be executed. Hiro replied that the duty is the Buke executing him, and their honor is in preserving Hymukai by putting the right ruler on the throne just as his honor was to convince them to join Kogen while his duty was to allow himself to be executed. Tadayoshi contemplated what had been said for an hour in the main courtyard, and in the morning presented Hiro with the option to commit ritual seppuku with Tadayoshi as his assistant rather than an inglorious end at an executioner's hand. With Hiro's honorable death, the Buke marched to war for Kogen.
Unfortunately Sujin's spies were quick to inform him of the developments, and he made plans to destroy to Kaidan immediately. He sent his best ambassadors to the clans not to convince them to join him, but simply to delay them from joining Kogen. Twenty days later the siege began. Upon being informed that Sujin was near Kogen was awoken from his catatonic state with a scream of rage. He had half the army, many injured, and his forces were staving. His allies would not reach him in time. He summoned Sato to his bedchamber to discuss matters, the only sounds being Kogen's outbursts of rage and despair. Finally he appeared at midnight among his men, dressed for war. They did the same, and at sunrise when Sujin's army approached Kogen left the fortress alone to meet them, accompanied by his four remaining generals. Sujin bore the banner of the royal family rather than his own. When Sujin ordered them to throw down their weapons Kogen obeyed and his generals did the same. Sujin dismounted his horse to meet them, but the rest of his cavalry guard remained. Kogen offered forgiveness, and a reunification in the face of a coming darkness. He offered his elite warriors to serve Sujin, and to swear loyalty. Sujin refused, killing the unarmed Kogen and informing him that his name would be stricken from history entirely, then ordered his men to kill Kogen's generals. He returned to his army and ordered them to destroy the fortress and kill everyone inside, leaving the bodies to rot.
Thirty years later all records of the civil war and of Kogen had been eliminated. Sujin had been unable to produce an heir with Saimei or any of the many other women he bedded. Every year he went on pilgrimage to Nijiyama and spent 40 days attempting to pray for guidance from the gods and Kami. The Kuge in the meantime have developed their own secret force. They are the patrons of the Hattori, a ninja clan that does their dirty deeds while they remain seemingly pure. But they are unaware that the Hattori are no longer merely content to work for profit, and now work towards the goals of their demonic masters.
But on the last pilgrimage Sujin was attacked while crossing the Kashiwara forest. None currently know what has happened to him, with rumor saying he was kidnapped or killed. Immediately the country plunged into civil war over who will rule in his stead. The Kuge are currently lead by a man named Satoshi Asaemon, who has been utilizing the ninja clan called the Hattori. Tora Tadayoshi leads the Buke. The Otokodate are lead by Kimura Key and have made contacts with the Namban, foreign outsiders who have set up settlements on the northern shores. The Sohei are lead by Hikari Ryu, who has trained a generation of monks and nuns into soldiers and has learned from Yoshi that the Hattori are behind the disappearance of the Emperor. Meanwhile the Wako Pirates have attacked the lands to the east, lead by a man named Turgot. Meanwhile, Kogen has returned from the grave leading an army of the undead thanks to a pact with demons; the same demons who also rampage through the lands of the world, disrupting the harmony of the other magical beings.
tl;dr the world went to shit, and not-Japan is fucked.
Many clans who have a deep connection to the spirit world have also put their practices into the open as the spiritual unrest has made the favor and politics of the spiritual world as important as that of the mortal one. Those individuals who have a very deep connection to a particular spiritual force are called Omnyouiji, and are sometimes even born of a union between spirit and human. These wizards use their Omnyodo powers to serve their clan openly, for good or ill. Infernal clans are bloodthirsty and use demon pacts with the residents of Jigoku to secure power. Their people live in fear and their enemies are sold as slaves. They have little honor and act with inhuman disregard for their fellow man. Earthly clans revere the spirits of the mortal world, forming a circle of protection for each other. Their people find solace in nature and isolation. Celestial clans revere the Ama and cleanse the land of evil. They revere the god Amaterasu, and they have the divine blood of the first families in their veins. Death clans revere their ancestors and fear neither death nor killing. They will deal with the spirits of the Kami to gain power.
Opposed to the Omnyodo are the Komuso monks who believe in the Tao, the balance of the universe. Clans who do not believe in the powers of the Omnyodo are instead patrons of the Tao temples.
The Kuge called the service of the Buke loyal to them to destroy their rivals for the throne and though some did answer the call, others were occupied by their own war. As stability had broken down, some Buke clans had attacked other Buke to expand their own territory while others declared themselves independent of Kuge rule. Some saw it as a chance to join the ranks of the Kuge, and the most ambitious of them conspired to do away with Kuge and control a complacent Tenno puppet using a Shogun (a Daimyo who executes the will of the Tenno, a position currently held by the entire Kuge caste).
As the Buke and Kuge battled themselves and each other, higher and higher taxes were raised on the peasantry. Farmers were drawn into Ashigaru (militia, or men-at-arms) forces without choice. Many fled to the Sohei in droves, drawing the religious clans into the politics of war. Temples near battlefields were raided by armies for supplies, and the seemingly endless delay in finding a new Tenno to keep the forces of the Earth in balance offended the Sohei greatly. They began to preach an apocalyptic warning while lecturing on the fate of the soul. Some Kuge and many Buke responded to these calls and removed themselves from the conflict either out of fear or shame, joining the Sohei and bringing with them wealth and a strong warrior base of Ashigaru and Samurai. Now the Sohei seek an end to the war, defending the common people and curbing the ambition of the two castes. Many Sohei have entirely disregarded the imperial system, only obeying the tenants of their faith and new rules for behavior and governance based on it.
Meanwhile, the Otokodate have risen up against their arrogant samurai oppressors as the past humiliations have compiled with the other three castes expecting the merchants to bear the bulk of the sacrifice for the war efforts through donation or looting. Declaring themselves nobility and forming pacts and alliances, they have formed relations with the outside world to bring allies and weapons they can use to establish dominance. As time has gone on, the Otokodate have begun to resemble more and more the Buke, Kuge, and Sohei castes as they incorporate anything that works into their methods and plans. Beyond that, they have allowed the faith of foreigners into Hymukai in which the castes and Tenno have no place.
As if that wasn't enough, legend says that Kogen's soul made deals with the spirits he and his brother once kept at bay to lead the Demons and Dead to rule the heavenly realms in exchange for aiding him in taking Hymukai and destroying Sujin's descendants (meaning almost everyone important in Hymukai). These armies all fly the same banner, a mon (symbol) of a black skeletal hand; because of this the Undead are commonly called the Kuroi-te (or "Black Hand").
As Hymukai falls deeper and deeper into war, the criminal underworld has grown bold and can stalk the land. The Hattori are the ninja clans of Hymukai, previously just the secret agents of the Kuge but now are acting independently of them. The Hattori seem to be minor Clans of artists and courtesans in the open, but any place they can be found in the open there will be an expansive network of spies and assassins hidden. The Hattori who plot against the Kuge have aligned themselves with the Shikomi and the forces of Jigoku.
Wako pirates, loosely lead by the warlord Turgot, pillage the defenseless of Hymukai while their protectors march against others and the Namban merchants from the far west trade arms and armor to all factions while spreading a new religion in the chaos.
Each faction is made up of the clans within one of four social positions. Each has reason to make war against themselves, and each has different tactics, army options, and philosophy so don't assume that simply because you choose to play one that you are forced into a cookie-cutter. No examples are given of paintjob or build beyond example models and contents of the army bundles, so a Kuge force of nobles sympathetic to a peasant rebellion, Sohei not-Christians, Otokodate Communists, and seven Kensei dedicated to protecting a small village are all viable backstories for your army.
Looking to real life as inspiration is a great way to get into Kensei and decide on your army theme, but its important to remember that each faction is strongly based in a particular part of history that has overlap with all others so for some factions the army list can range 600 years of real history. Its also important to remember that the real life factions used mixtures of what is found in the game, for example almost every faction at least had a few local monks that would fit right into the Sohei fighting alongside them, all factions used guns extensively after 150 while almost none did before 1540. Things exclusive to some factions such as Onna Bushi and No-dachi Samurai would have been found in all armies. Finally the philosophy of many warlords changed throughout their lives; Date Masamune for example can be said to have begun as Buke and died as Kuge, Uesegi Kenshi could be fairly called Sohei and Kuge mixed. Even Takeda Shingen, the best example of a famous Buke, used guns when possible.
It should also be noted that real life samurai and ashigaru rarely had matching armor or clothing, to the degree that those who did were known specifically for it such as the Shingen "red fire" cavalry armored in bright red or Date Masamune's army in black with golden helmets. This is due to the fact that most soldiers were expected to supply their own armor and weapons, with a large amount being battlefield salvage. As a result, most of your models should have their own unique colors if you're sticking to history which makes it easier to collect multiple armies; your core section is only different based on what Sashimono (back flag) they are bearing. Woodblock prints and paintings of Japanese warfare favor the colors blue and red, although this is largely because the dyes for those colors were found in abundance in Japan and folks who had never seen a battle or those who lived later in the peaceful Edo period would paint what they knew in the colors they had, in the colors soldiers of their day wore; Edo soldiers didn't need to equip themselves using dead bodies over the course of their career and armies weren't made up of men who's past was "don't want to be a farmer's fourth son, has a spear and pants". This isn't to say those colors were rare by any means, merely that almost invariably an army would be at least partially mismatched.
The upper nobility of Hymukai. Only the highest among the Kuge Daimyos ever actually saw the Tenno, with them ensuring his will was carried out.
All Kuge families are directly related to the Tenno line, and each sees themselves as the most legitimate ruler as family lines are extremely blurred as to who exactly the heir should actually be. None are actually interested in reclaiming the four holy treasures, as whoever brings them back would simply be the one doing the dirty work of whoever ends up being the actual heir. Kuge have ample reason to dislike the other factions; internally, every Kuge clan is a rival to the throne, the Buke are made up of low ckass traitors who don't understand politics and broke their oaths, the Sohei are peasants and sometimes heretics that rule by philosophy rather than law, and the Otokodate are Otokodate which is enough of a reason to hate them. Kuge are largely unaware of Hattori who oppose them. Kuroi-te are the greatest enemies of the Kuge.
As the Kuge believe their honor is by default unquestionable since they possess divine blood in their veins, they are quick to resort to underhanded tactics, giving orders to their still-loyal Buke commanders alongside Hattori assassins to the great disdain of the former party. While all factions employ spies and hitmen, the Kuge are willing to field hordes of Ninjas to poison and trap the enemy. Kuge also use women in their armies, allowing anyone capable of using a weapon and showing their loyalty they march on their behalf. Kuge are also willing to field men with firearms from foreign lands, an abhorrent thing to the rest of society, although they are unwilling to allow the monotheistic preachers that accompany the merchants to remain in their lands as the faith of the One God does not allow the Kuge to claim their divine right to rule. For similar reasons, the Kuge mostly stick with the Shinto faith as it gives them the maximum authority.
In real life, the Kuge castes of society were the dominant rulers throughout Japanese history although their prestige began to fall beginning in the 1200's due to financial problems until they were little more than the court of the powerless Emperor by the 1600's. Technically the Kuge never went away however and regained some power in the 1800's. They still made up the highest ranks of society until the end of World War 2 where the old families used their wealth and control of infrastructure to become the captains of industry in the modern era (so your Toyota truck is a product of the Kuge).
The warrior castes of Hymukai. Although the Buke clans are also related to the Tenno line, they are bound by oaths and the distance of their territory from the capital not to attempt to claim the position. Instead many clans want to replace the Kuge class entirely with one giant Buke class. Buke are the most strict caste in terms of rank and behavior. Social position is well noted, duties are codified, and dishonor not tolerated by self or others.
In terms of the current war, Buke are split between those interested in increasing their own power and those disillusioned with the "supreme divine right" of the Kuge. While Kuge scheme and assassinate over who will rule, the Buke interest and method is more simple; envy your neighbor, march your army and take what is rightfully yours by virtue of your strength, repeat. Kuge are entitled by luxury and arrogance but don't deserve the power the Buke have had to fight and die to preserve. The Sohei, those who should respect their betters, must be taught their place; Buke place Bushido above faith and believe that the Samurai social position above the priest and peasant must be enforced at sword point, although otherwise the Buke and Sohei would be at peace. The Otokodate are barely human as far as the Buke are concerned, representing everything wrong with the world as they bring sinful western influence, are as entitled as Kuge, and behave as pirates and peasants. The Kuroi-te are a challenge the Buke are unafraid of and destroying them is seen as the test that will prove the Buke are superior. Most Buke are unaware of the Hattori and dismiss them as legend, although some Buke are cautious regardless.
Buke absolutely refuse to use firearms, as foreigners and their sinful weapons have no place in Hymukai. Archers are more respected, but ultimately the only true art lies in martial combat. They are willing to use spies and some minor assassins although not to the extent of the other clans.
Ironically the history of real life Buke began in 702 when the Daijō-kan, or Great Council of State, was established which gave the Kuge powers as the administration of the Emperor. The first armies of professional soldiers were organized and hired, largely composed of archer cavalry nobility on horseback and peasant melee footmen. The cavalry were the predecessors to the Samurai and belonged to low nobility who's purpose in the organization of the government was as professional soldiers that carried out the will of the Kuge. Prior to that Japanese history had largely been a struggle between the Imperial family and clans of warriors; in fact the very first recorded history of Japan is from a Korean diplomat who spoke at length about an Empress who is now forgotten by history that struggled to expand her empire against the many warlords of the countryside. What to that forgotten Empress was an empire became a province in her descendant's empire not even a hundred years later. Despite, or possibly because of, this fast expansion the warlord culture continued to thrive even when subjugated under the rule of the Imperial line, which itself gradually became more and more complex as hundreds of families in the Kuge caste tended to increasingly ritual roles leaving the Buke largely to self-govern. The Emperors themselves began to retire early and become Cloistered Emperors who were the real power behind figurehead Emperors that tended to the mundane duties. When a dispute broke out between a former Emperor named Sutoko became angry that his father Toba had ruled in his stead then put his brother Konoe on the on the throne after forcing Sutoko to retire. The untimely death of Konoe without an heir created a schism in the capital with the Kuge split between loyalty to the last Emperor Sutoko and the grandfather Emperor Toba (who was still the one making the actual decisions) that had put yet another one of his own sons named Go-Shirakawa on the throne. The most powerful Kuge family, the Fujiwara, split in two on the sides of the two Emperors and reached out to two Buke clans called the Minamoto (who sided with Sutoko) and the Taira (on the side of Go-Shirakawa) resulting in the Hogen Rebellion where the capital was burned down. Eventually the Minamoto was defeated and the practice of Cloistered Emperors continued, although the Minamoto rose again soon after in the Heiji Rebellion by kidnapping the current Emperor and the now-Cloistered Emperor Go-Shirakawa who later escaped leading to their defeat by the Taira. The head of the Taira clan named Kiyomori was promoted into the highest levels of government as a reward and married his daughter to an Emperor named Takakura who fathered a son named Antoku. Not long after that Kiyomori removed all his rivals from the Kuge caste (pushing them down into the Buke) and demanded the Emperor step down and put Antoku on the throne immediately to avoid the possibility of one of the boy's uncles becoming an heir instead (which ironically the Kiyamori had fought to continue the practice of) and in doing so created a proto-Shogunate where a small number of Buke clans loyal to him ruled. Most of Japan sided against him, including members of his own clan, and Takakura's brother Prince Mochihito was the face of the rebellion (as Kiyamori had been correct, Mochihito WAS the intended heir to the throne). The Minamoto and Taira waged war against each other in the Genpei Wars which embroiled much of Japan.
It culminated in a battle where the child Emperor Antoku and his grandmother Taira no Tokiko were (allegedly mistakenly) killed in naval battle and the three holy treasures of Japan that represent the divinity of the Imperial line via Amaterasu were lost (and two were allegedly recovered, although to this day they have never been studied by archeologists or verified and only Emperors may look upon them). Cloistered Emepror Go-Shirakawa, still the actual decision-maker behind the throne, chose Emperor Go-Toba as the new Emperor gave the head of the Minimoto clan that lead his side to victory, Yoritomo, the right to collect taxes and control the leadership of the provinces of Japan. After Go-Shirakawa's death Yoritomo was appointed the official position of Shogun to rule in the name of the Emperor in all positions other than ceremony and privilege. After that point the Shogunate became the ultimate position of power in Japan and the Kuge were relegated to the attendants of the Emperor, although any clan wanting to be close to the Shogun or even replace him wound up tying their legitimacy to family relation to a Kuge clan or even the Imperial line itself through them. Various Emperors gathered armies to rebel against the Shogun who supposedly ruled in their name and become a supreme leader again, but these wars were usually short and always resulted in a battered but surviving Shogunate who's legitimacy was through a figurehead Emperor.
The Buke first formed as professional soldiers with administrative powers in 702, were solidified under the first Shogun Minamoto no Yoritomo in 1192 which was around the time Bushido was in its infancy, and became the dominant force in society in the mid-1500's. They saw a reduction in power beginning in 1873 during which they were renamed to Shizoku and lost most of their power in society along with the abolishment of the Clan system. This lead to the final year of the Buke with the Satsuma Rebellion in 1877 AKA what The Last Samurai BADLY tried to tell the story of (both sides used guns and cannons until the final battle where the Samurai made a final stand, which only occurred in the first place because they ran out of ammunition and knew they were going to be slaughtered anyway, plus the Samurai side was only fighting to maintain political power rather than a way of life). During World War 2 the concept of the Samurai was used for propaganda although without the Buke connotations, responsibilities, or privileges. Out of the four castes in Kensei, the Buke are the only ones that died out by the modern day. Unless you count reenactments for tourists, or the
possible guaranteed future of giant robot combat.
Mostly made up of the priesthood and armed peasant rebellions that they support. Sohei are united in theory alone, as each temple is entirely independent of any other authority. In the past, temples have lost priceless relics and destroyed each other in small contained wars over the details in the life of important figures, or in which temple gets to host the local festivals that season.
Among the Sohei, gender is a meaningless distinction in terms of duty and both nun and priest fulfill the same roles. The Sohei nuns are aware of the bias of other castes however, and in war will switch between their conservative style at a distance and feminine ways before engagement (such as letting loose their hair) to demoralize foes who may not find slaying a holy woman to be healthy to their sense of honor.
In general, the Sohei are at war with any other faction at war. The Kuge bicker like children while the holy relics lay forgotten although Sohei believe their lack of piety and trustworthiness will destroy them in the end. The Buke have refused their sacred duties to the royal line and must be taught humility and that the philosophy of "might makes right" will backfire. While the Otokodate have committed grave acts of heresy by allowing in foreigners, converting to other faiths, and thinking they can simply become part of the nobility without having any of the goddess Hikari's blood in their veins, they are considered by the Sohei to be the lesser of all potential evils in Hymukai and possibly a better model of society. All three sides put all the pressure on the poor to support their endeavors, allowing the children of farmers to starve in order to sell that food to buy weapons to arm the sons of men they left trampled in the mud over an acre of land that regardless of their claims only truly belongs to the Tenno (whoever it may be). When armed samurai covered in blood come to the temple and demand the offerings to the spirits of the harvest to feed themselves because they are strong enough to take it, the response will not be pleasant. Kuroi-te are the single greatest enemy of the Sohei and destroying each and every one of them is the overriding job of all Sohei. Hattori are known to the Sohei, and are considered a great evil.
The calls of the Sohei have come to all Hymukai, and many have abandoned their stake in the conflict to swear themselves only to their faith. Men desert their armies and civilians take up discarded weapons to protect the few places of peace there are left in the world.
While the Sohei are completely unwilling to convert to other faiths and have no means of trading with the outside world, any firearms that do come to the Sohei are not turned away. Regardless of faith, many foreigners find mercy and kindness when driven to the Sohei by the aggressive Buke or fair-weather friend Otokodate and those not native to Hymukai can be found among the Sohei (as well as their teachings like, how to make new guns).
The Sohei in real life were Buddhist warriors that fought against other temples in the 900's over which school of Buddhism was superior and generally anytime an abbot from a different sect was elevated above or placed in charge of their own, although despite burning each other's temple complexes down every so often these skirmishes rarely actually resulted in deaths since most were more brawl than battle. The Buddhists joined in the Genpei wars in the 1000's-1100's as their first military forays. Many sects rose and fell, fought each other and sided in almost any conflict as well as peasant rebellions, until the early 1600's when the last and greatest Sohei military group, the Ikko-ikki, were defeated after becoming a thorn in the side of the biggest warlords of the day and choosing the wrong allies to attempt to find protection. Some small groups survived the slaughter and joined various factions afterwards but never in a major united way. The lifestyles of the Sohei monks survive to this day, although the Sohei as a fighting force wasn't seen again after 1603. The Kensei Sohei also incorporate the Shinto clans, who have a much more storied history. According to Japanese mythology, while Amaterasu hid in a cave from the rage of her brother Susanoo, two men named Futodama and Amenokoyane attended her. When her grandson Ninigi was born, the two attendants were among the five servants that accompanied him down to the Earth to lead mankind. Futodama became the father of the Inbe Clan, Amenokoyane was the father of the Nakatomi Clan. The two clans together were the entire religious faction of early Japan, with the Inbe as their superiors (who interestingly had a cannabis leaf as their clan symbol) that oversaw the most holy of ceremonies and the connection to the Kami, while the Nakatomi saw to the purity of mankind and their relationship to lesser spirits. The Nakatomi grew in prestige and were eventually blessed by Emperor Tenji in the late 600's with the name Fujiwara. The singular Nakatomi split into four different Fujiwara clans plus the pure Nakatomi that ruled them and was eventually absorbed into the Fujiwara in the 1500's. Nakatomi influence continued to grow through intentionally altering the faith and culture of Japan, causing the leader of the Inbe Clan named Inbe no Hironari to petition Emperor Kammu in the 700's to put the Nakatomi in their place via a list of grievances called the Kogo Shūi. Shinto was restored somewhat closer to its original form as a result, and both Clans fought the influence of Buddhism. The Inbe continued to decline until they disappeared from history as a proper Clan and into the lower classes. The Nakatomi similarly vanished into the Fujuwara clans, which had become the bulk of the Kuge cast and the patrons of the Shinto faith as most Emperors married Fujiwara women, causing their children to grow up with the Fujiwara causing the heirs to also marry Fujiwara women in a cycle that maintained the power of the Fujiwara clan. The Fujiwara maintained the chain of succession indirectly when the royal line was broken by the death of the child Emperor Antoku via the coronation of Emperor Go-Toba under the protection of the first Shogunate. This technically makes the Sohei, the Kuge, and the Buke allied victors to the real life version of the Kensei storyline. As for the modern Sohei, there are many monasteries across Japan of both Buddhism and Shinto that are open and preaching to the commonfolk although as previously mentioned the Sohei never became a military force again, and barring the propaganda of Emperor worship during the second World War never became involved in another armed conflict. Regardless they can be said to have won in the end, since the caste system of Samurai and dictatorial rule both fell and the public shares equal rights and freedoms while Christianity joined the two older faiths rather than replaced them.
The merchant class as well as the middle-management. Otokodate are made up of any with enough power to rise up, as well as the ambition or outrage to make it worth betraying their superiors. All of their clans are newly formed, and very few if any are of actual nobility as Hymukai perceive it.
Otokodate are very diverse and fall into a range of roles; some Daimyo of Otokodate clans believe themselves to be the new Buke, surrounding themselves with Ronin (masterless, usually mercenary, warriors from a samurai background) and wearing expensive and ornate suits of O-Yoroi while intimidating those around them and looking for any excuse to show their power. Some are more humble like the Sohei and subscribe to the code of the Kykotsu which presents a more humane approach towards honor than Bushido, representing the craftsmen and undesirables of society as they attempt to forge a new caste that is free of the use and abuse they have suffered in the past. Still others are prideful and arrogant like the Kuge, believing control of the cash box and the act of finding the holy relics of the Tenno to be all they require to claim rulership of the land.
Regardless of their disposition and goals, the Otokodate have access to the strengths of the other clans. Their warriors wield far stronger firearms than the other castes have access to, are far more willing to employ large groups of assassins, and will even use corruption to bribe members of their foe's armies. They have their own samurai as well, and will even arm peasantry and train them in ways usually limited to those of noble blood or wealth which gives the Otokodate a far more diverse fighting force. Otokodate have even been willing to allow foreign settlements, even convert to the strange faiths, just to earn more advantage in their trade negotiations.
The Otokodate find enemies primarily in the Buke class, with whom they have the biggest grudge and whom they want to replace by destroying their clans and recruiting their Ronin. Kuge are simply a more distant version of the Buke, and are little different in dealings; their social position is from another era and their way of life is already giving its death rattle. The Sohei and Otokodate have little real reason to come into conflict, since both represent an oppressed lower class although the spiritual weakness of the Otokodate doesn't earn them any favor in the priesthoods eyes, while the expectation that wealth and status be thrown away to serve distant spirits who may not even exist is laughable to the Otokodate; in the Otokodate future the Sohei will end as a caste just like the Kuge. Little thought is given to the Kuroi-te beyond simply destroying them as an afterthought, and the Otokodate don't believe in the Hattori.
The core inspiration for the Otokodate caste in Kensei is actually not real life; Otokodate was the name for unemployed Samurai who bullied the lower classes throughout the 1700's until they were suppressed in the 1800's. The populace of Japan was enamored with stories about them being defeated and as a result the term Otokodate mostly refers to a genre of fiction, the closest western equivalent being a combination of Robin Hood and mafia movies, although in tone they are so close to cowboy cinema that many famous Otokodate movies (Seven Samurai for example) were remade shot for shot as cowboy movies (Seven Samurai becoming the Magnificent Seven). Otokodate stories, be they movies (particularly the famed Kurosawa movies of the 50's-80's and the exploitation "pinku" movies of the 1970's) or play (Kabuki theater) are based on the beginning of the end for the Samurai in the Edo period. This was when the lifestyle of the Samurai became unlivable and many were rendered into a bizarre state of poverty while still having substantial powers within society. The merchant class rose to power, and Samurai with no other means were forced to swear loyalty to non-noble non-Samurai to make ends meet...or rob anyone below them in status and privilege (so non-Samurai) that nobody would bother with the effort of defending (so people who paid little in taxes, primarily the middle class in smaller towns and villages). Most Samurai cinema is about this era, when thugs roamed the streets and abused the commonfolk until brave heroes supposedly stepped in to die heroic deaths on behalf of those with no other defense. These brave (almost always fictional or greatly exaggerated) heroes were called Otokodate (a term which in real life basically meant "thug" and referred to both hero and villain), fighting the starved oppressors of society as an equally suffering although vastly more noble remainder of the glorious past. The real life Otokodate "heroes" were actually the predecessors to the Yakuza, running protection rackets in cities while subverting the law and seeing that troublesome Samurai find themselves in duels they can't win if not simply disappearing. By the end of the Edo period the ruling class had established strict control of their territories so a Samurai who robbed a shopkeeper would soon be hauled in by lawmen, similar to cowboy sheriffs dealing with an outlaw. As a result the Otokodate were replaced by "Isami", who were more like smalltime gangs that roamed around looking for fun and to show off their masculinity in fights or competition but not actually kill anyone which would immediately bring authorities down on them; compare modern biker gangs to 1800's bandits. Females sometimes feature in Otokodate and Isami stories as equal warriors among groups of men and were called Onna Dates, although it is debated how many real Onna Dates actually existed. The Otokodate army presented in Kensei is not exclusively the Otokodate of cinema however, it combines several small movements and groups together both from other genres of faux-historical cinema as well as real life history. The martial characters of the Otokodate army are shown wearing Kawari Kabuto (AKA "strange helmets") which appeared during the Momoyama period at the tail end of the Sengoku era and were known for simple and cheap but still effective construction beneath elaborate decoration. The Assassins wear Ronin gasas, woven hats that cover the face but have slits to see through; whether real Ronin actually wore Ronin gasas often is debatable, but many Samurai movies use them to denote an outlaw eager to hide their face or a, well, assassin. Ozutsu were used from the 1500's through the end of the Sengoku era, oftentimes on ships and in sieges. Teppo Ronin are specifically former Samurai who now answer to their societal inferiors among the merchants as mercenaries which strangely follows closer to the real life fate of many poor Samurai. The fate of the real life Otokodate depends on your perspective of the faction; if you view them as the wealthy middle class merchants and later industrialists that changed Japan from Samurai to Napoleonic to Mitsubishi bombers to car and VCR producers, then the Otokodate merged with the Kuge to "rule" modern Japan (and possibly the global economy of the future). If you prefer to think of them as brave heroes standing up for the little guy, look to modern social services and good Samaritans alongside Japanese UN workers. Otherwise, the Yakuza are doing fine as always.
The Undead of Hymukai. They represent Kogen's massive army of the Yomi inhabitants as they attempt to take over both the mortal world and the spiritual worlds to wipe out the descendants of those who sided with Sujin (read: almost all modern-day nobility). Regardless of the clan and beliefs a corpse held in life, all dead bodies where a Kuroi-te army marches rise and join them. The Kuge are the greatest enemies of the Kuroi-te and the death of every one of them is the primary goal of the Undead. Buke are secondary foes, although just as a source of strong warriors to bolster their ranks. Sohei are the antithesis of the Kuroi-te who's very presence and sight harms them. Otokodate barely register to Kuroi-te except as more beings to kill and raise. The Hattori are a rival for domination of the mortal world and are another enemy to destroy.
The Undead army has no basis in real life Japanese history (obviously) outside of the conflict between Kogen and Suijin paralleling several real life times of conflict from history, and there's no particular example from Japanese mythology that they come from. That being said, the first account of independent Japanese people from a non-mythological source comes from a Chinese account called Records of the Three Kingdoms of an Empress named Himiko who struggled against male rivals after succeeding her father in the 3rd century. Mythology as well as conflicts between Chinese, Korean, and Japanese accounts of history as well as political reinterpretation or rewriting of history during certain periods clouds everything about Himiko, but strictly sticking to the Chinese account may provide a basis for the Kuroi-te as the warlord rivals to Himiko and her descendants.
The ninja clans who have decided to turn their backs on the Kuge and fight for their own gain. Their mysterious leader Saki guides them.
While they eventually intend to eliminate all opposition, the ninja clans counted among the Hattori still serve their Kuge patrons with unwavering loyalty in the short term. Buke are not a concern, easily dispatched with trickery despite their strength. Sohei are not a threat, since the Hattori play them against each other over rivalries and interpretations of scripture between temples. Otokodate are even easier, as money rules their decisions. Even the Kuroi-te are not seen as a major threat, since the Hattori believe they can discover the force than animates the hordes and use it to control them.
Ninja in general are mostly fictional due to the reality just being assassins wearing plain clothes (sometimes double-sided) or as camouflaged field scouts and spies, so a bunch of demon pact-making assassins in black robes is obviously fictitious. There were many strange cults and in Japanese history, but mostly existed due to isolation from mainstream culture and didn't involve samurai civil war and assassination. The Hattori in real life were a family of Samurai, the most famous of whom was named Hanzo, who served the Tokugawa during and after the Sengoku period. Hanzo became a general in the Tokugawa's service (effectively making him a Buke still loyal to a Kuge in Kensei terms) and employed ninja from his home province of Iga during battle and to gather information; late in life he retired as a pacifist monk and had nothing to do with demons.
Religion and MagicEdit
In 1e magic only existed when using Omnyouiji and Creatures. As of 2e it is officially a fantasy setting.
- Shinto, The Ways Of The Gods
Shinto is the original faith of Hymukai. According to Shinto, all things have an intelligent spirit. There is a spirit of each rock in your garden, each turnip that grows in it, each insect that lands on it. There is a complex pantheon of responsibility and strength for each object as well. The spirit of your garden is in charge of the spirit of the biggest turnip in it who in turn is in charge of all the lesser turnips, the spirit of gardens in general controls them both as well as the spirit of all turnips, all four must answer to the spirit of the region you live in, and the spirit of agriculture controls them all with respects towards the spirits of the earth and sun. Far from the occasional ghost, spirit, or monster seen in other mythologies, Shinto spirits outnumber the living in the world and humankind has its place within the hierarchy as well. The farmer must not insult spirits of his turnips as they are his fellow workers of the earth, the spirit of the garden is his equal, the spirit of gardens and turnips are his superiors, and the spirit of agriculture is as important as his local lord.
The strongest spirits dwell in a parallel realm called Shinkai, and are called Kami. Ancestors are also important in Shinto, as they are the connection between the living and the world of spirits. Without any friendly deceased, the world of the living cannot interact with the Shinkai and as such it is important to stay on good terms with a dead person who may have become friends with a spirit you may want to interact with by honoring their memory and invoking it whenever possible.
Shinto priests and Shamans can communicate with all kinds of spirits and Kami with proper rituals, the right words, the correct offerings, the precise movements, the required clothing and adornments, and the right location all at specific times. The true name of spirits, which gives a connection to their power, is secret and known only by priests honorable enough not to abuse the privilege. By entering into trances, they commune with intermediary ancestors who can pass messages onto spirits. Shamans fall into three groups; Miko are nuns, Geki are monks, and Shinshoku o Kanushi (both genders) are Shamans powerful enough to call directly on Kami themselves and receive their words in return.
Every clan who worship Shinto regardless of their social standing or caste maintains a shrine to an ancestor who has become a Kami, and regardless of relationship with the living family it is VERY bad luck to offend their patron. You can wipe out every man, woman, and child in their lineage without too much trouble from the spirit world, but if you mess up their family graveyard or shrine then you are FUCKED in ways comparable to interacting with the Fey in western fantasy settings.
Small shrines to local spirits of things like roads, rivers, a local animal species, and so on can be found almost anywhere, sometimes forgotten and sometimes well-used stops that double as shelters for weary travelers. Many small villages revolve around shrines, having little else to offer besides services pilgrims are willing to pay for.
Even Hymukai who convert to other faiths rarely abandon their Shinto beliefs. The faith is fairly adaptable, and although priests of the One God may frown on praying to the first to bear their surname or the spirit of a river that feeds their irrigation, those traditions will remain.
- Batsudo, The Way Of The Buda
Batsudo (not-Buddhism) was established in Terai by a man named Sakyamuni (AKA not-Siddhartha Gautama) who abandoned the wealth and pleasures offered by the Shankya dynasty of Licham in order to understand the suffering of the poor and unlucky. He achieved Nirvana/Enlightenment, then sought out a way to pass the teachings onto others in Licham and Angma. Batsudo Sutra (texts and teachings) claim that through sacrifice and contemplation one can enter a Buda state, a level of understanding and freedom from earthly troubles while still alive. Only in this state is one Arhat, or of worthiness and true nobility.
Only when the teachings reached the Celestial Empire and Baejke (not-Thailand) did they come to Hymukai through merchants. One of the Tennos saw value in the faith and decreed that Batsudo monks would formally enter the Sohei caste with newly built temples. The Shinto were initially displeased, although as the common folk would visit both kinds of temples and adhere to both faiths the two blended over time. Like its mate faith, Batsudo often merges with any new faiths that come to Hymukai as both have come to represent culture as much as religion.
Generally, Batsudo is unpopular with the Otokodate as its scorn of wealth holds little appeal to them. By contrast, Buke who lose devotion to their warrior lifestyles, sometimes due to age or war-weariness, find the abandonment of need for wealth and power to be spiritually fulfilling.
Batsudo teaches the world is currently in a 10,000 year long state of Dharmic decline which makes it difficult to achieve Enlightenment.
tl;dr using WIS as your dumpstat makes you lose at life
The native faith of the Celestial Kingdom, written as the Daodejing (Book of the Path and the Power) by the philosopher Laozi. Onmyodo (AKA not-Taoism) is based on the idea that everything is made of an energy called Tao (or Dao) which comes in two forms, the positive and negative Onmyo as the Hymukai call it, or the Yin and Yang as the Celestial Kingdom knows it. It centers around the idea freedom and power are attained by balance of the two forces. A man named Zuang Zi (AKA not-Zhuangzi) expanded on the idea in his own texts called The Interior Chapters which advised on how to balance the forces, including using alchemy (in real life, this is the basis for Chinese herbal remedies and acupuncture).
All science, all magic, all matter, all energy, everything comes down to positive and negative energy reacting and seeking balance before and after said reaction.
Yin is passive. It is feminine, reacts strongly to the moon, darkness, the cold, is liquid, is introspective, and within living things is a big part of blood. Yang is active, masculine, reacts to the sun, is extroverted, is warm and more fire than matter, and in living things is concentrated in Ki, which can be summed up as the spiritual equivalent to blood.
Nothing can exist made up of only one of the two forces, and out of harmony or in a turbulent state nothing good can come of anything.
Yin and Yang form the five elements, the seasons, colors, emotions, everything. Endless winter is as bad as only feeling happiness without sadness, as a man without a sensitive side, every blue house needs some red somewhere, and so on.
Onmyodo followers are wizards and scientists, the former mixing this belief with others to control Kami or the forces that affect humans. The magic users are called Onmyouiji. The scientists are alchemists.
tl;dr being True Neutral and drinking mercury can make you a wizard
Shugendo is the mix of all the faiths of Hymukai into one belief. The followers are called Shugendo as well, or Shugenja, or Yamabushi No-Gyoia (those who sleep below the mountain) for their usual locations. They are hermits who dedicate themselves wholly to the spiritual, revealing themselves slowly to those individuals outside their training sites that they believe are likely to join them at the cost of all worldly ties and belongings. The teachings of Shugendo are called the Shugen.
After years of suffering and sacrifice, even the abandonment of the very emotions tied to their pursuit of moral purity (due to desire in any form not being morally pure) along with education in everything from astronomy to psychology to medicine and herbalism, they surpass humanity and overcome all sin or debt from this life or their past lives by feeling the punishments due with humility. At this point, they are a being who is virtually a Kami contained in a mortal shell. The highest ranked Shugendo commune with Kami directly, are in the state of Buda and can actually influence the greater universe, and while meditating alone their soul departs their body to live as an animal in the forest while they sit in unmoving contemplation that can last for days, weeks, or more.
The Shugendo primarily work for the betterment of mankind in various ways as they see fit.
tl;dr epic level Cleric/Druid Lawful Good murderhobos
Forms of MagicEdit
- Kototama: The Power of Words
Kototama is the ability to cause magical effects using the spoken word or sounds. Those trained in this art are called Kototage. Kotomuke is the working of the magic, and the specific spells are Jumon. All religions use Kototama, and even martial artists use them to a degree. Kototama can be used to control minor spirits called Shikigami.
- Kuj-In: Seals of the Nine Syllables
Kuj-In combines the essence of Kototama as mantra hymns with hand gestures called Mudra. Kuj-In is primarily used by Shinto, Buda, and Ninjas. Kuj-In invoke the protector forces of the world in odd numbers, or evil if used in even. If the gestures are made in the air they affect the user, if the hand gesture is used on other things (like with ink and paper to draw a spell scroll) they can affect others. The act of performing the gesture is called Kuji-Kiri. Using the right hand is called Takotai and the resulting energy receives, using the left is called Kongokai and emits energy. The gestures are made quickly or slowly based on what Kototama is used.
The actual effect of Kuj-In is explained by creating a hole or vacuum in the spirit world which causes a shift in Yin and/or Yang.
- O-Fuda: Kanji Magic
O-Fuda is similar to Kuj-In in that it is a written magic, although no particular gesture or vocalization is needed. O-Fuda involves invoking a Kami by writing their name on something. If used in construction, the Kami then may protect the occupants of the building as they see fit. The other use of O-Fuda is making a charm bag called a Omamori which blesses the bearer and can be used to exorcize spirits by placing it in the mouth of the victim or inside the object which is possessed.
- Onmyodo: The Way of Yin and Yang
The central ideas of Taoism, applied by Onmyouiji. It consists of all magical practices and all disciplines of science mixed in the pursuit of balance and the intentional alteration of reality. Onmyouiji rarely share their discoveries with written text, preferring apprenticeships to pass on their craft.
Becoming pure, only a step below divinity, and mastery of energy are the two main pursuits of Onmyodo. The main reward to skilled Onmyouiji is entering the state of Kenki, which allows them to perceive and interact with both the mortal world and the Shinkai at the same time. They can then banish or summon beings between the two at will, being something more than even an ancestor Kami. Shikigami are inherently loyal to those in Kenki, and Daimyo are always seeking their services to protect them from spirits and advise them. Most Onmyouiji are aligned with the spirits of order, although rare ones exist who sought to become one with the darker sides of the spirit world and curse their foes.
The bulk of creation exists in three regions connected by celestial bridges and gates.
- The Celestial Plane: Ama
The ideal world, perfect in every way and full of waterfalls with hundreds of regions with each suited in different ways to provide for every desire regardless of what the desires of that being are, each created when a being becomes a Kami and ascends to it. Those who are the Kami's chosen servants, the Tennin (male)/Tennyo (female), inhabit their celestial lord's land.
There is a physical bridge somewhere in the material plane, called Niji, that leads the living to it although it is guarded by celestial entities.
- The Intermediate Plane: Kuni
The mortal world, with Hymukai at its heart. Its...pretty good, but its imperfections compared to the Ama cause a small portion of the misery that befalls mankind. It exists in the same space as the Shinkai, which is the spiritual half of the world (the Yang to Earth's Yin) with places in both serving as gateways by virtue of the two forces evenly mixing there as opposed to sitting side by side (imagine an oil sitting on top of a thicker liquid, with those places being where the two have mixed into a solution). Those mixed places are often difficult to reach and amazing to behold, although many lesser spirits inhabit them which tend not to be as friendly as one would want. For those who have seen Spirited Away, those places would be the abandoned theme park.
- The Underworld: Yomi
The souls of the dead cross the Sanzu river, a hidden underground river between the Kuni and Yomi. On the other side they are judged for their spiritual debt and actions across all their lives. Those who have lived normally and are in the misdemeanor range of karma are sent back to the Kuni to be born again. Those who have lived amazingly pure lives, free from any sin or debt, ascend to Ama and become Kami. Some beings who preexisting Kami vouch for are also allowed to enter the Ama, usually as a Tennin/Tennyo. The spirit known as Datsue-Ba undresses the soul while his companion Keneo throws the clothes to a branch next to the river. Souls who are nervous can actually gauge how badly they have done by how Keneo does this. Souls then cross the river to meet a spirit named Emma-O who is master of the cycle of reincarnation and the judge of Kuni lives.
Those found wanting are sent to Nakara, a kind of spiritual prison full of hunger where they will suffer until their debt is within a range they could feasibly pay off back in the Kuni, and they are sent back to Earth afterwards to do just that.
The exceptionally wicked, who's sins are unforgivable, are turned into a Shura spirit and either sent to Nakara as a warden or Jigoku, a place where all Demons are imprisoned.
Not all beings must cross the Sanzu and face judgement. Beings who attain divinity in life like Onmyouiji or Yamabushi No-Gyoia simply travel to Ami on their own power. Beings who suffered far more than their spiritual debt required are unable to leave the Kuni and usually become spirits who only know torment and live to pass that suffering onto others. Those tortured souls are called Shiryo, Onryo, and Goryo.
Reincarnation and the Wheel of DharmaEdit
The Wheel of Dharma is the cycle of reincarnation that occurs between the Yomi and Kuni, with Emma-O being the master of the process. There are six possible paths that Emma-O may send a soul. Samsara is the name of the actual process of rebirth after judgement.
- Jigoku-Do is the worst possible punishment, where a soul is sent to Jigoku where they languish in every possible kind of misery and never know any form of relief or rest. Here they stay and suffer unless some unbelievably merciful Kami decides to take up their case and work to reform them.
- Gaki-Do is the path where a soul is sent to Nakara. Here, ten kings judge them and mete out different forms of suffering to equal the luxuries they over-indulged in during life. Once the soul is punished adequately they are given a drink which makes the soul forget its suffering and pleasures, effectively striking both off the record.
Both Jigoku-Do and Gaki-do involve the soul transforming into a Shura, which is a demonic form. Souls who rebel and refuse to show the humility they deserve often rise up in defiance of the celestial order and become all but certain to bask in their evil ways while suffering eternally.
- Shikusho-Do is the state where a soul is transformed into an animal. As animals have less potential for devilish behavior, this forms a kind of rehabilitation process between Gaki-Do and the states of the Kuni world.
- Ashura-Do is the path of demigods. Beings who reject the system travel this path. The wicked ones become Shura, and hide in the frozen northlands of the Kuni called Meru where they are ruled by kings called Shurendra. Those who remain good but simply desire to cease the pursuit of godliness become powerful spirits within the Kuni, and instead become the patron spirits of various things. In the previously mentioned metaphor involving the spirits of gardens, rocks, and turnips, those who choose the Ashura-Do are the bulk of those spirits.
- Nin-Do is the path of human life. This stage, the lives of you and everyone you know, is not so much a punishment as it is a test to whether they are fit to ascend higher. If you imagine the Ashura-Do as being in the blue-collar workforce, then Nin-Do is college. You can snort crack and bang hookers until you wind up homeless in the back alley then in prison, or you can work hard and study until you pull six digits and spend every other week on the golf course. Or just take a liberal arts course and wind up flipping burgers with the other Ashura-Do. Your choice.
- Ten-Do is the final state, where you have achieved success and made something of yourself by becoming a Kami or Tennin/Tennyo. But that's not the end of the story, as you can overindulge or make bad decisions, and while not a mortal you CAN still die like one. If you die, Emma-O will judge you again and you may not do as well as you did before. Kami who drinkandfightanddrinkandfightanddrinkandfight then drink and fight some more before slipping and breaking their neck may end up reborn as an ant to work off their debt.
Kami are beings at the height of existence. They are extremely powerful, and most dwell in the Ama although some remain in the Shinkai or Yomi to go about their work. Most other cultures would call them gods and demigods, although as Kami are technically beings living and dying in a way similar to mortals they are somewhat below that rank.
Tennin and Tennyo are similar to Kami, although they did not get into Ama by virtue of their...well, virtue. Rather they were vouched for by a Kami, although within the politics of the Ama they are on equal footing to their Kami fellows. Usually they act as the servants to a Kami. Tennin and Tennyo split their time between leisure pursuits, such as art and music, and martial pursuits as they are the primary soldiers in the wars between the wicked spirits and the Kami.
Yokai are Kami who have fallen into corruption, either through overindulgence or wicked acts brought about by pride. Some are just Kami who are forgotten by humans which causes them to lose hope or a sense of purpose in their existence. As they continue to lose their purity they are forced to leave Ama and inhabit the Kuni. Not all Yokai are evil however, and many simply take up an immortal life as a mortal. They can take on any form, and if you meet a talking animal or something with very strange proportions it may be a Yokai. Those Yokai who continue their wicked behavior become extremely powerful beings, and would be the villain of your average "hero VS monster" story.
Shura are either the descendants of Iraki, the aunt of Hikari, or are souls currently assigned to punishment. They are demonic beings with wicked, twisted forms based on their behavior and sins (or the descendants of Iraki who are just born that way). Many serve out their time suffering to ascend the Wheel of Dharma, while others (usually warmongers and the power hungry) rebel and form into groups to attack mortals or the Kami.
Yurei come in two varieties; the souls of the wicked who are tormented by their unnatural sins, and the souls of the suffering who cannot leave the world as they are too burdened by its miseries. They are spirits, usually bound to a specific location or group of people, who cause the same type of suffering they endured or committed to others and although they will actively pursue those responsible for their state they don't stop there and will continue to attack any beings. Most ghost stories involve Yurei spirits. For reference on Yurei, see The Ring, The Grudge, and play Fatal Frame.
Gaki are souls who suffered from extreme need in life, and their name literally means "hungry spirits". Their form is twisted to their need, with emaciated skeletal frames with large, bloated bellies full of acid and gasses and large eyes always searching for more. They have no scruples, and will even eat their still-living relatives as their first meals before setting out for more. Like Yurei they are bound to the Kuni by their suffering, although for a select few this is a punishment bestowed to them by spirits for being wasteful in life.
Note about hats: Some miniatures wear different kinds of hats and for some this can be confusing when deciding which of generic models with multiple options such as Engineers to choose.
- Some models wear soft black hats called Eboshi, more specifically Hikitate-eboshi, rather than helmets such as the No-dachi Samurai and the Engineer Samurai Daisho. These hats were the preferred hat of most Sengoku Samurai since they maintained an elegant look of nobility while being pliable enough to put a helmet over and large enough to fit various hairstyles in comfortably, and the presence of these hats does not indicate which Clan they should or should not belong to.
- Most Sohei models wear headscarves called Kato, also called Kashira Tsutsumi, which perform a dual role of keeping the identity of the warrior difficult to discern at a distance (ensuring no personal glory is to be earned from war) and protecting the shaved heads of monks and nuns from the sun although not all Sohei wore them while some actually wore them over helmets; while most Sohei non-Ashigaru non-Samurai wear it, it wasn't exclusive to them and could be worn by any bald person or by the monks which joined all factions in times of war although nowhere near in the numbers that joined the Sohei.
- Other models such as Ashigaru, Assassins, and the Komuso wear what is called Kasa, which are cheaper hats designed to keep out the weather which are commonly made out of straw or leather with the rare one being metal or bamboo.
- Ninja re shown wearing Zukin in stereotypical garb with most of their face covered by it, but the Zukin historically was worn by scholars, artists, actors, politicians including the Shogun as casual wear, many Sohei, and women of all social classes.
The only hat common to the era which should disqualify some models from being in other factions barring extreme circumstances is actually the Kanmuri, a hat worn exclusively by high nobility which would be reserved specifically for Kuge or any OC Donut Kuge family who joins another faction (religiously joined the Sohei, fell from grace and joined the Buke, cut deals and incorporated economic reforms becoming Otokodate, dying and being reanimated as Kuroi-te)...although this is a moot point since no models wearing a Kanmuri are currently made by Zenit anyway.
The common soldiery, found in all factions other than Kuroi-te and Hattori (unless those Hattori have joined the Kuge). Most come from the class of citizens called Heinin which represent the common workers of cities and the peasantry. Those fielded on foot are called Ashigaru, meaning "soldiers with agile legs".
Ashigaru in the Sengoku era of real life Japan were technically part of the warrior caste and can arguably be called low-ranking Samurai, prior to the Sengoku era the term Samurai was even more loose and more often referred to cavalry warriors rather than any quality of nobility or armor, in the Edo period after the Sengoku wars ended Ashigaru were locked into the peasant social class). Smart lords don't just send their Ashigaru to die at whim leaving nobody to work their fields, but then again in theory you can afford a few untilled farms if you can take the farms of your neighbors. Ashigaru who perform excellently or are lucky enough to score a kill against an enemy VIP in battle can be promoted to Samurai or even adopted into the Daimyo's own clan as family, and in some clans can even petition for this promotion. Anyone can become an Ashigaru, and many did simply by deciding that working the fields was for the weak and decided to march to a battlefield and wait for one side to gain the upper hand and rush in to kill off the wounded or join a charge using looted gear and were absorbed into the army in the post-battle to earn wages and rewards. In some battles the opportunistic Ashigaru waiting from a hill outnumbered the actual Ashigaru enlisted men enabling the victor to effectively end with double the amount of troops they began with.
- Daisho Yumi
A Samurai Daisho, also called a Mono-gashira, is a Samurai with one or more units under his command who has been proven in battle. They conduct themselves honorably and have veteran status. This Daisho carries a bow.
- Samurai Daisho
A Daisho carrying only a sword.
- Cavalry Samurai Daisho
A Daisho on horseback.
- Daisho Teppo
A Daisho carrying a rifle.
- Ashigaru Daisho
Also called Bugyo, they are Heinin who have impressed their lord and been put in command of one or more non-Samurai units.
The titular characters available, Kensei are samurai who have attained a reputation across all of Hymukai. Swordsmen at the highest level of skill, masters of the tea ceremony (a MASSIVELY important custom that simply involves preparing and sharing nutritious and delicious tea, symbolizing mastery in all aspects of life from grave to wisdom as well as spiritual fulfillment), artists, poets, writers, sages, and merciful in conflict due to the fact they only fight to preserve their own honor rather than increase it. Kensei are the ideal of Hymukai society with anyone attaining the title being known across the land, and many respect a hostile Kensei more than the Daimyo they serve. Kensei can be found in all walks of life, as likely to be sweeping steps at a Sohei shrine as in the role of an adviser to a Buke warlord, as likely wandering an Otokodate trade road as being a regular in the court of the Kuge. To be able to boast a Kensei in your army both increases your honor and claim to respect as well as gives you access to an INCREDIBLY skilled warrior who can deflect or cut flying arrows with their sword and slice a man clean in half with only their katana.
tl;dr gentleman high-level murderhobos
- Kyudo Hanshi Judan
The same as a Kensei, although their art and mastery in combat is with the bow rather than the sword.
Geisha are women trained in ways of satisfying the various desires of men. Many function as prostitutes, while others are paid dancers, musicians, poets, and even take on roles such as administering medicine required regularly or in the preparation and presentation of tea. Many lords bring Geishas with them to relieve their minds from the stress of command and battle, to increase the morale of their forces, or to confide their worries and concerns to. Not all can be trusted however, as many function as spies and assassins for their enemies. Still others are absolutely loyal, willing to fight and die for their masters.
What did they expect? Spies are used both offensively and defensively, either infiltrating the armies or cities of their masters to conduct counter-intelligence or to pose as those unlikely to arouse suspicion like a traveler or monk and blend into enemy camps among drunk and loud-mouthed warriors. Many are kept close by their lords, as a Spy usually the only defense between them and an assassin.
Kabukimono are lordless Samurai, known as Lunatics and Deviants as well. They contrast between an extremely refined lifestyle by wearing elaborate hairstyles and clothing, and a poor lifestyle by ceasing to shave, being constantly intoxicated, and having absolutely no tact or humility. They challenge everyone they can to martial duels, robbing those who refuse and those who lose. Often these men gather gangs to themselves and represent the bulk of the disorder and misconduct in a village or city.
They do not yet have models.
Body doubles for important individuals, either to prevent assassination or to go about their duties while the actual individual is preoccupied with more pressing ones.
Kagemusha are represented by the model they are imitating, and thus can by anything fitting.
Master Ninja, trained to assassinate enemies. Shinobi are male, Kunoichi are female. All factions will hire their services, although only Kuge will hire them in bulk and field them against regular troops. They may lie in wait on the battlefield for their target, or infiltrate the enemy's own army. Some will cause disarray in the enemy's ranks by shouting that their commander is dead before the assassin actually does kill him in order to cause panic. Kuge have more incentive for taking one than other Clans since taking a Shinobi or Kunoichi allows them to basically merge with the Hattori faction in the same army.
Yari Ashigaru are Heinin soldiers who wield Wakizashi, given simple armor to cover themselves with and the banner of their lord to march with. They are equipped with a Hata-jirushi, a suit of light armor.
- Yari Ashigaru
Ashigaru with a Yari, a type of spear.
Heishi are the step below Ashigaru, not trusted yet to be disciplined in the face of the enemy and as a result not as well geared (although some are simply because their lord is too cheap or underarmed to provide it). They are only given a Hara-ate for armor, which covers their abdomen. They are given naginata to fight with.
In real life, Heishi were conscripted soldiers used by the forces loyal to the Imperial Court during the Yamato Period, a term which refers to several smaller periods of Japanese history called the Kofun Period (starting at the dawn of recorded Japanese history via Korean envoys sometime around 250 AD) and Asuka Period (ending in 710); both are grouped as "Yamato" due to that being the location of the Imperial Court at the time (the exact location of the original Yamato is unknown and a matter of intense archeological debate, other cities called Yamato were established later), ending when the capital was moved to Nara. Real life Heishi are quite archaic, and represent a very primitive or at least traditional army. The actual word Heishi literally translates simply to "soldier" in English, and doesn't refer to any specific type of soldier. The weapons the Kensei Heishi are equipped with are called Nagamaki, a long-handled katana without a standardized measurement system for make. Nagamaki were an anti-cavalry weapon for infantry that were technically a type of No-Dachi, although usually used by samurai rather than peasant soldiers much less poorer equipped ones which may further support the idea of being based on early conscripted soldiers.
- Yumi Ashigaru
Ashigaru armed with bows.
- Katana Samurai
Samurai armed with swords and Hata-jirushi. Not exactly rare as far as Samurai go, although they cost more for a lord to field than Ashigaru. On the plus side, a massacre against you means you still have a backup plan!
- Katana Cavalry
Samurai on horseback armed with Katanas. Many generals ride with them, plunging into the flanks of enemy formations unexpectedly to route them and end the battle.
- Light Cavalry Yari
Samurai on horseback armed with spears and naginata, the most skilled horsemen among the mounted Samurai forces. They rely on hit and run attacks during the battle.
- Yumi Samurai
Samurai armed with bows.
- Ashigaru Slings
Also called Mizumata and Ishitsubute Ashigaru, they are Ashigaru armed only with slings. They are rarely fielded, and usually serve to disrupt enemies moving into melee range while avoiding any actual confrontation.
According to historian Suzuki Masaya, in battles from the mid-fourteenth to the mid-fifteenth centuries out of 554 examples, the percentage of casualties caused by arrows was 86%, sword cuts 8.3%, rocks 2.7%, spears and stab woounds 1.1%. From the mid-fifteenth to the mid-sixteenth centuries 1461 examples are analyzed with arrow wounds at 41.3%, guns 19.6%, spears and stab wounds 17.9%, rocks 10.3%, and 3% for swords. So in total Ashigaru with slings dealt more damage than Yari Ashigaru prior to guns reaching Japan, and more than swords afterwards. In addition, the general Oyamada Nobushige who served the Takeda clan had a special unit numbering between 300-800 men specifically for the purpose of throwing rocks, albeit with a sling attached to a staff. Unfortunately accounts of actual tactics regarding slings are rare, although skipping stones was a well-known pastime for all classes of society.
- No Bushi
No Bushi are archers who rely on skirmish tactics, harassing enemy positions and softening up foes before engagement. They come from all social backgrounds and are put into units based on skill alone.
They do not yet have models.
Peasants not provided any gear, armed only in cloth and farming equipment. They have no discipline or tactics other than to swarm enemies.
Kuro directly translates to "black" in Japanese, and is most likely a reference to the Twelve Level Cap and Rank System created by Prince Shōtoku in the year 603 based on the Chinese concept of the elements. Each social position in Japan was assigned a color, and could not wear colors of a higher rank (similar to the Roman rule of only Patricians wearing purple). Peasants were assigned the color black as their only allowed dye, and although the ranking system was succeeded by other systems and eventually forgotten starting around 647 the cultural symbolism of the colors remained; black is a color of peasantry and the lower classes, but also piety and humility which is why the priestly colors of Japan often includes black. Putting aside the Ikko-Ikki, peasant rebellions happened often throughout Japanese history and peasant militias formed to defend their own villages in times of war when the concerns of their lord were elsewhere, although some Daimyo were eager to use a new source of soldiery when pressed and would send these militias as Ashigaru.
- Onna Komuso
Onna Komuso are highly-trained Batsudo warrior nuns who protect peasants and the roads from bandits while on pilgrimage from shrine to shrine.
They do not yet have models.
- Bo Hiya
Bo Hiya are Samurai armed with explosive projectile guns.
Use of simply incendiary arrows in Japan dates back to the 6th century in Korea although they were fired by Yumi Ashigaru. The Japanese used gunpowder to fire incendiary arrows for naval combat against the Mongols in the 13th century, but the introduction of matchlock guns by the Portuguese in 1543 resulted in an advancement of the concept to fire a giant winged iron arrow called a "bo hiya" like a rocket, the actual gun itself called a "hiya zutsu" which had the fuse wrapped around the shaft. Hiya zutsu were used often against infantry and were a favored weapon in naval combat due to their ability to light ships on fire; Wako Pirates in particular began using them extensively since they enabled their ships to match the destructive power of the vessels of Samurai clans.
Large drums used both ritually and to command troops or maintain morale in war.
Speaks for itself.
Large caliber siege cannons, reverse-engineered from western shipwrecks off the coast of Hymukai and now produced at home.
The real life origin of the OO-Dzutsu is exactly the same. Portuguese world explorer Fernão Mendes Pinto had already been selling firearms to the Japanese when he shipwrecked off the Ryukyu Islands, and the locals took the opportunity to strip his ship of everything and begin to replicate what they found from ships to cannons to devices like compasses. The actual word Oo-Dzutsu is the generic word for front-loading cannon in Japanese so technically almost all non-Furanki War Machines are also Oo-Dzutsu.
A larger version of the OO-Dzutsu, technologically improved by the Otokodate and now sold to all factions regardless of their actual attitudes and policies towards the Otokodate.
Again, the Shibatsuji differs very little from real history and in fact shares its name with the real life oldest surviving Japanese cannon which was used in the Siege Of Osaka in 1615 by Tokugawa Ieyasu. The cannon itself was named after its creator Shibatsuji Ryuemon Sukenobu. The Japanese adapted quickly to the introduction of firearms by pioneering techniques of manufacturing and battle strategies that took the west centuries to develop, and the most skilled craftsmen were able to create weapons that were far superior to those sold to them. The real Shibatsuji is more similar to the Kensei OO-Dzutsu in size, the Kensei Shibatsuji represents the most advanced Japanese-made cannons which were equals to the largest used by the Dutch themselves. Sadly none of these survive today.
Defensive artillery on a fixed mount, purchased from Namban Traders. It is reloaded from the rear through an ammunition chamber which is both safer and faster.
The Kensei Furanki is identical to the real life Furanki in lore and function. Technically called "breech-loading swivel gun", the Portuguese merchants called them "Frenchy Guns" or "Frank Guns" which resulted in the name "Furanki" or "Machine Of The Franks". Furanki were used by westerners as anti-personnel guns mounted on ships but the Japanese preferred to use them in the same role on castles or other fortified positions. Furanki had a maximum firing rate around 3x the speed of all other cannons of the time. One of the few surviving Japanese Furanki belonged to the Ōtomo clan.
Invented in the west but improved by the engineers of Hymukai, the Taiho performs several roles from anti-personnel to siege artillery and is accurate.
The Tahio was called the Culebrina in the second Kickstarter campaign but after conversations between backers about the historical inspiration of the weapon the name was changed to the Tahio. The Tahio/Culebrina represents the Culverin, the most popular and widespread cannon in the west between the years of 1500-1700 and is the stereotypical cannon most people think of. The "culverin" or "coulevrine" (name originating in the Latin phrase "colubrinus" or "of the nature of a snake")was a handgun invented aroud 1500, which was further engineered into a large artillery piece of the same name by the French which was then adopted by the English and soon after most other European naval powers. Tahio/Culverins are smoothbore cannons, usually but not always front-loaded, that fire round ammunition (cannonballs) at long range and flat trajectory. The Japanese purchased great deals of all kinds of these reliable cannons from the Dutch and Portuguese, and made their own in the same style after Oda Nobunaga commissioned them following the Battle of Nagashino in 1575. Most existing cannons of all kinds were purchased by Tokugawa Ieyasu in preparation for the Siege Of Osaka, and he commissioned as many as could be produced as well.
Used by the Sun Empire, adapted by the Hymukai due to its non-linear firing being excellent for sieges and its ability to send smoke signals from long distances.
The inspiration for the "Morutaru" (just Engrish for mortar) has a bit more involved history. After the death of Oda Nobunaga, retainer Toyotomi Hideyoshi took control of the Oda clan. After a number of political moves Hideyoshi focused on peacetime pursuits, rather than pursuing the role of Shogun like Nobunaga had done, while preparing his clan for a different kind of war. Rather than attack other clans at home in Japan, Hideyoshi planned to pursue Nobunaga's secondary goal of conquering China. Rather than attempting to directly attack the Chinese coastline, he attempted to negotiate with Korea for access to a port and route into China but was turned down out of fears that China would retaliate against Korea if the war went poorly for Japan. As a result Hideyoshi gathered many different clans towards the same goal and attacked Korea instead in two invasions between 1592 and 1598, both of which went poorly due to the skilled Korean leadership and Chinese aid. During the war the Japanese incorporated many Korean technologies and techniques (Korea had become fairly advanced due to absorbing innovations from the west, China, and further countries like India); despite this the Korean mortar, used often and effectively against them throughout the entire conflict, was only incorporated by a few Daimyo who used them conservatively. When Dutchmen performed a demonstration of what a mortar could really do in 1639, despite none of the payload actually hitting their targets, the Japanese military leaders present suddenly became very interested in them and mortars were both purchased and produced rapidly by many different factions. The Dutch taught them to use more than just the basic exploding shells as well.
- Hiya Taiho
A small cannon that fires incendiary arrows to devastate infantry, based on the Bo-hiya.
The Hiya Taiho is the same as the real life "hiya taihou" (although the model is more decorated than most real life ones would be). Its essentially a mortar that fires the Bo Hiya ammunition instead of the Bo Hiya model which uses a flintlock-like handheld gun.
A Kuroi-te specific War Machine who's origins are unknown but it is suggested it came from the north. Its a "siege catapult" which uses corpses as ammunition.
Real life feudal Japanese of course figured out the catapult, and most nations that engaged in siege warfare used biological warfare to spread disease among enemies as well as demoralize them when sieges go on too long. The significance of the Kataparuto (Engrish for catapult obviously) is more the depravity of the Kuroi-te to use it as a first resort rather than it being used in general.
- Taiho Yohin
Technically a piece of scenery taken by players as if a model in their army representing extra ammunition.
- Kuge Daimyo
Daimyo are the leaders of their clans, and any battle they are involved in are major events. They bear O-Yorai, the best kind of armor available and can be found mounted and carrying many different kinds of weapons.
Kuge Daimyo represent the more liberal Daimyo of the Sengoku era as well as the forces of the early medieval era such as the Genpei War. Which your army is closer to depends largely on if and how many Teppotai you field. Kuge clans should also have their origins tracing back to the earliest days of Imperial rule, which in real life Japan means their ancestry can be traced back to Kyoto and the nobles who served the first six Emperors, most of whom were related to said Emperors. Their actual ancestry can be forged or questionable, as some Daimyo's claims were based on an ancestor who was a non-inheriting third son of the actual famous clan or could not actually be proven with reliable records. Some real life Daimyo who would fit as Kuge include Oda Nobunaga, Imagawa Yoshimoto, and Taira no Kiyomori. Some non-Kuge type Daimyo who could field armies and behave in such a way as Kuge would be Date Masamune and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, whereas Takeda Shingen had the lineage of a Kuge but his army was closer representative of the Buke.
- Kuge Taisho
Also called a Shirei-kan. Second in command of the clan, chosen by the Daimyo as a relative or one of the greatest warriors.
- Kuge Hero Katana
- Kuge Hero Naginata
- Kuge Hero Yumi
- Onna Bushi
Onna Bushi are warrior women trained using the Naginata, raised from birth as the servants to the Kuge who possess a degree of loyalty not seen anywhere else in the Buke caste. Their dedication is without compare, sacrificing their lives just to increase chances of victory for their clan. Either out of desire to impress or amazement of their dedication, troops around them are inspired to fight at their best.
In real life the families of many Samurai were expected to do anything the patriarch could do. A son was expected to be able to lead an army from a very young age, a wife was expected to pick up a weapon and march to battle if need be. There was a surprising number of female Samurai who were recorded as taking command and going to war after the death of a father or husband, many becoming folk heroes and a few being worshiped as guardian spirits for the people who's ancestors they fought with/for. Real life Onna Bushi were called Onna-bugeisha if they were members of the Samurai caste by birth or marriage.
Teppotai are Ashigaru equipped with Teppos, also known as arquebus or flintlock rifles. Kuge allow the One God faith to be spread among the peasantry in exchange for the weaponry, allowing their still-loyal peasants to kill the highly trained Buke traitors with ease. After marching to their position, they erect walls of stakes to protect them from cavalry and to duck behind to protect them from arrows while reloading.
Early on in the history of firearms in Japan the gun was expensive, troops were inexperienced with them, quality was poor, and the Japanese weren't familiar with how to deploy units of them effectively; thus they were mostly given to Samurai, who were prepared by a lifetime training to use literally every weapon available to use the unfamiliar shootas. Twenty years later they were producing their own with improvements to the design and devising complex battle tactics on par with those of any other dakka-using nation. By this point the Ashigaru were often armed with them, since it took a lifetime of training to learn to use a bow effectively and take advantage of the superior range/accuracy whereas mere peasant recruits could be trained to use guns in a short period of time. No Samurai leader took to use of firearms better than Oda Nobunaga, to the degree that (as one anon on /tg/ once stated) "Everyone loved guns, but Nobunaga LOVED guns. As in a thirty year old man with an unhealthy attachment to a body pillow of a fictional prepubescent girl level of love."
- Kuge Great Guard
Great Guard are the elite among the Buke caste, zealots dedicated to the divinity of the Kuge lines who each hope to become a Tennin. Their ferocity and dedication is such that their foes flee before them rather than face them and their mighty blows in combat. Each Great Guard is personally selected from candidates, leading to families who can claim that each patriarch of their line served the Daimyo of the clan. In peace they guard the halls of castles.
Great Guard aren't based on anything specific in real life, and there's many examples of similar soldiers across Japanese history although in varying degrees of fame. The Oban of the Tokugawa Shogunate are the most famous, and were made up of elite soldiers assigned to defend Nijô castle as well as both defending Osaka castle and policing the sections of Osaka itself where Samurai were prone to making trouble. Their most elite were the personal guards of the Shogun while in Edo. The Oban numbers expanded greatly over the years, being made up equally of some of the most famous and skilled warriors as well as younger samurai who were members of powerful families. In general, any elite unit that has been recognized by the leader of the faction they are in would be a Great Guard unit, usually defending an important position or acting as bodyguards in an honor guard capacity.
- Onna Kiba Musha
Onna Kiba Musha are Onna Bushi, mounted on horseback. The graceful elegance and classical nature of their tradition makes them a favorite of Kuge lords to show off their superiority to the other castes. Those destined to be Kiba Musha are taken from their family and trained for their entire lives, and are more dedicated and disciplined than any horsemen the Buke can boast.
The inspiration for Onna Kiba Musha is the exact same as Onna Bushi. Samurai women who serve in battle because they belong to a Samurai family that has need of another warrior or officer.
For generations the Kuge clans have been patrons of secret ninja clans who's loyalty is (usually) absolute, and through a sense of mutual advancement the Kuge the can field units of assassins while other castes can only secure the services of a single agent at high cost. They execute their tasks and targets without a hint of remorse or hesitation. Before battles they will hide, waiting for their target to draw close before they leap out and spread confusion using smoke and fire whereupon they slay their foe and quickly vanish once more to pursue other quarry.
Real life ninja, as most on the internet have discovered, were unlike media depictions of ninja. The only sort who would cover themselves in dark colors would be scouts rather than assassins, which instead would have worn simple and inconspicuous clothing. Most ninja were saboteurs, intelligence gatherers, and bodyguards rather than hitmen. Ninja were historically far more trustworthy than Samurai, to the degree that Tokugawa Ieyasu's life was saved by a small group of ninja who escorted him a great distance back to his people simply because they owed him a financial debt (not an oath or loyalty expected by society, just money) regardless of the fact that they were offered almost literally a hoard of wealth to turn him over. Most ninja would actually have been plainclothes civilians, ashigaru, servants, and even sometimes samurai who would develop intelligence networks similar to those today , or would position themselves in a place where they could do damage to a clan (basically as terrorist sleeper cells). The idea of ninja wearing all-black dates back to Kabuki plays where stagehands dressed in black to not be seen by the audience and clever writers used a trick that normally told the audience who they were supposed to ignore to suddenly bring a character into the story and surprise the audience as much as the characters. Real life ninja may have worn black or dark blue to blend in when spying at night while assassins may have used dark red to disguise blood on them, but this was hardly a uniform. Ninja philosophy generally leans on the idea of social mobility, and a deep belief that there was little true difference between the castes of society.
Yabusame are mounted archers, the most skilled and elite there are among their art. Annually the Kuge held festivals where the archers of the Buke would compete, and those who showed the most promise were recruited into the Yabusame ranks. This conflict marks the first time they have been fielded in war. They utilize hit and run raiding tactics to diminish the foe.
To understand what Yabusame is, please note the following. Archery is extremely important in Japanese military history. In the earliest wars known to have occurred in Japan, 600 years before recorded Japanese history began, the primary weapon was a bow with spear support rather than spear with bow support like most civilizations. The bow is also used to depict the divinity of the mythological first Emperor of Japan, Emperor Jimmu. Beginning around the year 400 archery was the mark of the noble warrior caste (so proto-Samurai) since it required a vast amount of training to be competent which only the warrior caste had the luxury to attain, and such warriors were the only ones that could afford a horse resulting in most of these early not-Samurai being mounted archers. Samurai duels were more often fought with arrows than swords, being given three each and a horse to ride with the result being whatever the combatants felt satisfied their honor (so a challenge to determine who has superior marksmanship could be used in place of simply killing your opponent). Using the katana to represent Samurai is a more modern trope. The katana itself was actually considered the weapon of Ashigaru and other peasant soldiery, Samurai carried a much longer and more curved blade called a Tachi which enabled them to strike easily from horseback although as a weapon of last resort when surrounded rather than one to charge into battle with The katana only emerged around the year 1400 when combat changed to favor speed over reach due to the large number of heavily-armored infantry Samurai deployed in increasing numbers while horses were used far less. The preceding information is why when sometime in the late 1100's Minamoto Yoritomo, the future creator of the Shogunate and first Shogun of Japan, noticed that his army was dangerously low on skilled archers he created the custom of Yabusame, which is a religious and sportsman's ritual combined into one which encouraged the military tradition of archery and mounted archery to survive regardless of the current state of war. It should be noted that Yabusame is NOT a type of soldier, it is a type of training/recreation/prayer. The following, from Wikipedia, describes the Yabusame ritual. "A yabusame archer gallops down a 255-meter-long track at high speed. The archer mainly controls his horse with his knees, as he needs both hands to draw and shoot his bow. As he approaches a target, he brings his bow up and draws the arrow past his ear before letting the arrow fly with a deep shout of In-Yo-In-Yo (darkness and light). The arrow is blunt and round-shaped in order to make a louder sound when it strikes the board. Experienced archers are allowed to use arrows with a V-shaped prong. If the board is struck, it will splinter with a confetti-like material and fall to the ground. To hit all three targets is considered an admirable accomplishment. Yabusame targets and their placement are designed to ritually replicate the optimum target for a lethal blow on an opponent wearing full traditional samurai armor (O-Yoroi) which left the space just beneath the helmet visor bare." Yabusame ritual competitors were drawn from all castes of society from peasant straight off the farm to Daimyo's son; whoever was good at shooting and could be trained to ride a horse was eligible. Yabusame is still practiced today.
- Buke Daimyo
Daimyo are the leaders of their clans, and any battle they are involved in are major events. They bear O-Yorai, the best kind of armor available and can be found mounted and carrying many different kinds of weapons.
- Buke Taisho
Also called a Shirei-kan. Second in command of the clan, chosen by the Daimyo as a relative or one of the greatest warriors.
- Buke Hero Naginata
- Buke Hero Katana
- Buke Hero Yumi
They do not yet have models.
- No-Dachi Samurai
Samurai armed with Nodachi, also known as Dai Katanas. The strongest among the Buke families are trained with these weapons, charging into battle in a frenzy.
- Yari Samurai
Samurai armed with spears, far more skilled than any Ashigaru could hope to be. They form the bulk of any Buke army and will fiercely dedicate any officer among them.
- Ji Samurai
Low rank samurai. Outside of war, they must toil in the fields along side their peasants to survive, which is seen as a great personal dishonor in Buke society as only warriors are worthy of any respect. Without as much wages or time to train, they arm themselves in armor and weapons as best they can and usually carry a spear and a katana, with some having the unusual practice of teaching dogs how to behave in war and using them as a supplementary force, harassing foes and alerting their masters of advancing enemies.
Real life Ji Samurai (also called "Jizamurai") were the product of a cultural shift to trying to give all sons an equal inheritance. Progressively every generation became poorer as a result, and with less peasants per lord to work the fields the result could be a "lord" being indistinguishable from the peasants during the summer months as he worked the fields out of necessity. Due to the massive numbers of small lords in the far-off rural areas, political positions were created called "Shugo" which were essentially regional governors that answered to the Shogun. As the powers of the Shugo grew, they became rivals with each other and would over-tax or impose strict regulation on their territory in order to fund small wars, which in turn lead to peasants and Ji Samurai banding together to form "Ikki" or a type of protest. Since most Ikki were ignored or suppressed, as time went on they tended to become more and more violent until uprisings of both samurai and peasant were happening within mere decades of each other. The continued politicking of the Shugo, enabled but now beyond the control of the Shogun, resulted directly in the Sengoku wars after four hundred years of corruption and unchecked power.
O-Ban are heavy cavalry, with their armor decorated in images of demons to look like Oni. They simply trample lesser foes to engage those worthy of their attention, impaling them with spears called Jumonji Yari tipped with a forked blade.
These represent the same thing as the Kuge Great Guard. Oban in real life were special troops loyal to the Shogun in the Edo Period. Oban literally translates to "great guard", and their primary role was to serve within Nijo Castle, the Kyoto castle considered the administrative center of the Tokugawa Shogunate, and Osaka Castle, a place of symbolic importance representing the dominance of the Tokugawa as well as a place to test the loyalty of Daimyo by positioning them in charge of the complex (which was a financial burden and required a relocation of their clan for their stay). The highest ranking Hatamoto (bannermen, the retainers of the Tokugawa during the Edo period who numbered approximately six thousand) was the commander of the Oban. The O-Ban don't much resemble the real life Oban however, and are more closely inspired by the Takeda Clan. Although most Japanese horses were bred to be small and were favored as light skirmishers and cavalry archers, the horses bred by the Takeda in the Kanto region were favored to be larger and as a result even back in the Genpei war there is references to the cavalrymen of the local clans being famous. In truth, they were the only real heavy cavalry Japan had.
A highly skilled warrior dedicated to the art of Kenjutsu, the pursuit of mastery in swordsmanship. These small bands of warriors travel from village to village in time of peace to challenge anyone of any martial skill to duels, and in warfare seek out the strongest enemy in the field.
- Yumi Kiba Musha
Samurai mounted on horseback who are trained in both archery and swordsmanship, switching between bow and katana as needed. They are armed with special arrows that make a much louder noise for intimidation, and have pronged tips to cause worse wounds.
Most Samurai clans that had access to cavalry would have had more Samurai bowmen on them than any other role, instead of it being unique to the more militant clans. In that respect the Buke clans in Kensei are more true to history here, although to be fair a fully realistic military force would likely incorporate at least one thing from each clan type.
- Miutso Sume
- Sohei Daimyo
Daimyo are the leaders of their clans, and any battle they are involved in are major events. They bear O-Yorai, the best kind of armor available and can be found mounted and carrying many different kinds of weapons.
- Sohei Taisho
Also called Shirei-kan. Second in command of the clan, chosen by the Daimyo as a relative or one of the greatest warriors.
- Sohei Hero Naginata
- Sohei Hero Katana
- Sohei Hero Yari
- Naginata Sohei
From Dragon's Lands temples, these Sohei cover their faces in cloth and train extensively in Naginata weapons to defend peasants against the Samurai, which the believe are decadent brutes. They use Kototama chants to unnerve their foes and increase their own bravery.
- Ama Kihei
Dragon's Lands temple Nuns armed with Naginata on horseback. They sing Kototama songs telling of death and the horrors it holds while in combat, terrifying their enemies.
- Mitsu Dogu Sohei
Martial artist monks, armed with Mitsu Dogu (also called torimono sandōgu, or torimono hogu in real life) which are poles with metal spikes and various shaped tips used usually by guards or law enforcement to arrest rather than kill. Samurai have no knowledge of nor respect for these weapons, giving the monks an advantage and allowing them to quickly disarm and disable their enemies.
They do not yet have models.
- Yumi Sohei
Dragon's Lands temple monks armed with bows, trained in the same ways and for the same amount of their life as Samurai. They cover their faces in cloth, and are armed in special arrows designed to ignite or hit with greater force than mere wooden arrows.
- Ikame Bo
Massive and powerful monks trained using Kanabo-tetsubo, or giant clubs with spikes believed to have been invented by Oni. These monks can equal the strength of many men, and crush the bones of their enemies while praying for their souls using Batsudo chants.
- Teppo Sohei
The monks of the Dogen temples rescued Nanban who were shipwrecked, among them one of the greatest weaponsmiths in the world, a man named Francisco. For one year while he recuperated, he taught the Dogen monks how to create western weapons including firearms, and after he returned to his homeland they spread the knowledge across the entire Sohei caste. Armed with the same Teppo used by Teppotai, although made in Hymukai rather than purchased, these monks bear katanas and wooden shields into battle along with their firearms.
The first named character and faction leader added after Kogen and Sato, Kyojin is a giant of a man and the military leader of the Otokodate and likely answers to Kimura Key. He is a Ronin with a tetsubo, and has rules for a generic variant as well.
Kyojin translates to "giant".
- Otokodate Daimyo
The Daimyo of an Otokodate clan.
- Otokodate Taisho
Also called a Shirei-kan. Second in command of the clan, chosen by the Daimyo as a relative or one of the greatest warriors.
- Otokodate Naginata Hero
Also called Busho Hatamoto. Warriors among the Daimyo's army who hold the highest ranks, and are granted the most land. Their job is to command and inspire. They are the lowest rank who can afford an O-Yorai.
- Otokodate Katana Hero
- Katana Ashigaru
Peasants armed with the weapons and trained in the ways of nobles. Formerly just city dwellers in various occupations, they seek to join the Buke as equals and emulate them in all respects they know. While they possess the tenacity and drive to strike without fear of death in war, they do not have the refinement of the art that comes from a lifetime of practice among their peers.
Katana Ashigaru draw entirely from Edo period Japan. All Ashigaru were armed with Katanas and had upwards mobility into the Samurai caste prior to the end of the Sengoku era, the ban on non-Samurai owning katanas and the inability to become one were concessions by the Tokugawa Shogunate to keep the now unemployed Samurai placated. In fact, the katana weapon was originally an Ashigaru one. Called the Uchigatana, they were essentially cheap katanas wheras the Samurai (usually cavalry, almost all bowmen at this point) used a much larger Tachi sword instead.
- Teppo Ronin
Ji Samurai and non-combat servants who's lords were killed during the war. Without option, they flocked to the Otokodate and were armed with Teppo purchased from Nanban traders. Although they believe they have lost their honor, they carry on in want of livelihood. They march to battle armed with wooden shields and their old Katanas.
Samurai in real life were the primary users of guns starting in 1543 when they were first used in mass (like in Europe, guns existed in Japan before the world hit teen hundreds) due to them being very expensive and techniques such as volley fire not being known yet. Within only twenty years Japan had mastered gun tactics and mass produced improved guns, to the degree some historians believe in this era Japan made more guns than the entirety of Europe was. Since guns were now cheap and formations known, Samurai reverted back to the bow more often than not due to guns taking comparatively little training to use and thus being a waste to equip to lifelong trained warriors. Teppo Ronin in real life represent the Samurai who participated in the Samurai uprisings of the Edo period, mercenaries from the end of the Sengoku era from defeated armies (this being the lore basis for Kensei Teppo Ronin), and the Otokodate thugs that harassed peasants using weapons of war in a time of peace. Although Edo period peasants were forbidden from using weapons some including farmers who had to repel wild animals as well as hunters were allowed to keep loaded firearms, and many were used with blanks to simply scare away enemies or send signals. Towards the end of the Edo period small villager militias were formed to defend themselves against Samurai robbers which helped lead poor Samurai to the transition from Otokodate to Isami. Bodyguard Samurai were seen equipped with Teppo more often during the Edo period even if they were used less, and Ronins in desperation make good servants to wealthy but lower classes or as members of the young Yakuza organization. .
Also called Ozutzu, they are a creation of the Hymukai studying the rifle Teppos purchased by Otokodate, these handheld weapons pack much more force and are considered hand cannons. Only stronger soldiers can be armed with these.
- Machi Yakko
Trained warriors who were never part of the Samurai. They keep the peace in the lands controlled by the Otokodate by patrolling roads and guarding cities against the Buke. They are armed with Jumonji Yari, a spear with a special tip consisting of a very large pronged blade. Above all, they will protect their lord and his interests.
They do not yet have models.
A new class of warrior, wholly devoted to Kykotsu. They seek to combat the Samurai oppressors and their flawed Bushido code, and dwell in peasant communities as local heroes where they slay bandits and looting Samurai.
They do not yet have models.
Rather than hiring the subtle Ninja, Otokodate prefer disgraced Samurai who move in small groups and carry many weapons that their targets are unfamiliar with fighting against. These honorless warriors will travel the countryside inconspicuously and carry out any task given them, usually the elimination of their target while ignoring the interference of his bodyguards.
- Ronin With Tetsubo
Leader of the Kuroi-te.
Kogen's second in command.
- Taisho Yurei
A ghostly Taisho.
- Taisho Samurai
Undead Samurai officers.
- Taisho Samurai On Horse
An Undead Samurai officer on a horse.
- Clan Hero Yari
A low-ranking officer with a spear.
- Samurai Kumigashira
An Undead Samurai officer.
Also called Go-Gashira, Kumi-Gashira are equivalent to a Lieutenant or a Platoon Commander in a modern military, answering to a Bugyo/Taisho (Captain) and commanding their troops directly.
- Ashigaru Kumigashira
An Ashigaru Undead low ranking officer.
A bizarre-looking elderly person with no eyes on their head, which are instead in the palms of their hands.
Most people would recognize this as the Pale Man from Guillermo del Toro's movie Pan's Labyrinth. Actually called the Tenome, there are several myths regarding his origin. In one he was a blind man who was killed by a bandit that returned so that his hands could be useful in a fight against him this time around. He wanders roads, using the eyes in his hands to see the face of every other being on the road until he finds his murderer. In another version, a bandit attacked an elderly man who overpowered him, causing the bandit to attempt to seek shelter at a nearby Shinto temple. The monster had eyes in its hands and made a sucking noise as it made chase, and by the time the priest had opened the door for the bandit the monster had stripped the skin and muscle from parts of him down to the bone and eaten the viscera. In a third story a boy who heard the first story was dared to visit a graveyard where the Tenome supposedly resided. The creature made chase, and the boy was forced to hide in the nearby shrine. The next morning the priests found the boy completely drained of blood. In Pan's Labyrinth, the Tenome/Pale Man resides in a giant underground complex seated at a table full of food, stationary until someone eats from it when he seizes his eyes off the plate in front of him and attacks. He exclusively eats children according to paintings of him on the walls, and eats fairies in the movie.
A ghostly Yokai of a woman.
Yuki-Onna in real life Japanese myth are women who froze to death or died in the mountains. A more popular story, there's many variations from men who marry women and later find they are a ghost to spirits that chase the lost to their death to those that try to lead those who are lost to a more fortunate fate than their own (sometimes accidentally causing it, sometimes with success). In all versions of the story she produces frost, and can cause blizzards.
- Undead Geisha
A Geisha who is Undead.
- Samurai Katana Cavalry
Undead Samurai Katana Cavalry.
- Samurai Naginata Cavalry
Undead Samurai Cavalry with Naginata.
- Samurai Yumi Cavalry
Undead Samurai Cavalry equipped with bows.
- Yurei Naginata
Ghosts equipped with Naginata.
- Yurei Nodachi
Ghosts equipped with Nodachi.
- Ashigaru Yari Cavalry
Undead Ashigaru cavalry equipped with Yari.
- Katana Samurai
Undead Samurai with Katanas.
- Yumi Samurai
Undead Samurai with bows.
- Yari Samurai
Undead Samurai with Yari.
- Hone Samurai Naginata
Hone Samurai are those who die on the battlefield without having gained honor. They may have shamed themselves in their conduct, made a terrible mistake, or simply lost their only chance for a great victory by dying too soon. Hone Samurai souls remain within the increasingly rotted husk until they finally redeem themselves in a future conflict.
- Yari Ashigaru
- Yumi Ashigaru
Undead Heinen. Basically the same as Kuro, but Undead.
Based on the legend of the same name, where a farmer who labored his entire life to build a prosperous farm had a lazy and hedonistic son who sold his farm, causing his father to emerge from the mud every night to wander the ruins of the once-great land and wail in lament.
Goryo (also spelled "Gorio") are hate-filled ghosts of nobility, and can be of either gender.
Their purpose for remaining in the world is to avenge their dishonor, as each was invariably killed in some petty intrigue. Like Onryo though, they're not particular to whom they torture and kill. Bringing a sense of justice to them by enacting suffering on their killer or a descendant is all that can send them on outside an exorcism however. By knowing their true names, you can command them. Thus Goryo are not usually eager to tell you their story unless they believe your heart is pure.
Their name means "Hungry Spirits". Gaki are emaciated humans with rotting skin and bloated bellies who walk hunched or on all fours. They have grown fingernails like claws and their sharp teeth are bared whenever they see humans.
Gaki are souls given a special punishment in the wheel of reincarnation, their sins not terrible enough to be made a demon but they still require penance. When they escape the Yomi they wander the Kuni looking to eat. They can be found anywhere there is manflesh to be had including battlefields, cemeteries, and even villages which aren't secured against the things that lurk in the night waiting to snatch a baby or a drunk, even entire households.
Ghostly disembodied heads of various kinds.
Originally Mekurabe were skulls that appeared in increasing numbers in the courtyard of the general Taira no Kiyomori, who had survived several bloody wars and managed to instill the first Samurai-lead government in Japan in the 12th century, representing those who's deaths he caused. They along with demons continued to appear to him until when fever took him in old age they were all he could see until he died. The reason for the Mekurabe skulls is Namakubi, an important ritual of Japanese warfare of taking the severed heads of foes, especially those in positions of leadership, to present to their own leaders as a trophy. As a result of this many depictions of the ghosts of those who die in battle are merely floating severed heads.
- Ukuri Inu
Based on the myth of the same name who behave like wolves that feed exclusively on humans. Yosuzume are black sparrows that appear in swarms at night and find potential prey for the Okuri-Inu. They stalk any travelers the Yosuzume find for them, looking for any sign of weakness. If the traveler stumbles they must look like they did it on purpose, and must maintain a confident gait and exude a lack of fear. Those who can keep the Okuri-Inu at bay have the benefit that the Okuri-Inu will eat any less-confident bandits who may harass the traveler otherwise. Those who successfully leave the Okuri-Inu's territory will never be harmed by them if the traveler thanks them for their companionship loudly, then when they arrive at their destination wash their feet and set out food for the Okuri-Inu.
Ghoul-like Yokai that eat the flesh of the living.
Based on a myth of the same name, where a young traveling priest encountered the ghost of a local priest that had been selfish in life and prized the luxuries of good food and fancy clothing that his position afforded him above all else, even his duties. This resulted in him transforming into a shapeless being after death that was forced to eat the corpses of the nearby village before they could be buried. The old ghost priest begged the young priest to bless him so he could escape his fate, which he was obliged through a Segaki (a ritual where monks set out food for the hungry spirits to help them find peace or perform their duties).
A Yokai that feeds on human heads.
Kubikajiri is the Japanese myth of is a headless Yokai that eats the heads of the living, and smells like fresh blood. The headless aspect is never actually portrayed in any images, for obvious reasons. Kubajikiri wander graveyards mostly while trying to find their own head until they find someone else's.
Ghostly women who savagely kill the living.
Onryo are female ghosts that come in MANY different forms, beings who are not being punished but rather are owed a spiritual debt that cannot be repaid by those who caused their suffering. Instead, they cause misery in their own ways to any mortals they come across. Particularly bad hauntings can wipe out entire populations, leaving tainted places full of tortured ghosts from which there is no escape. Many are disfigured, others bring along those who suffered alongside them, most have a gimmick or two that they love to replicate. Some like the Kuchisake Onna are formulaic and have a set pattern to how they find victims and kill them, others like Kayako from The Grudge just kill and kill and kill. Chances are good that if you watch Japanese horror cinema, its almost always going to be about an Onryo.
Onmyouiji come in six different kinds (although only four are currently in the game), with the four factions having specific options available. Each type is served by a different kind of Shikigami, and each also has access to one of two spellbooks. The ritual for binding Shikigami differs from discipline to discipline, with some simply being sent by the powers the Onmyouiji serves and others are tricked and lead to trust the wizard, then are beheaded and resurrected as a slave.
Komuso are monks that have set out to restore order to the world by combating the Onmyouiji and sealing away the spiritual where it belongs; in its own realms.
- Celestial Onmyouiji
Worshipers of the power of Ama. They are served by Yataragatsu, the three-legged crow servants of Hikari herself who guide Tenno to her realm and grants the Onmyouiji the ability to see what it sees. Their other is the Kitsune or Kitsume, a fox who's intelligence and magical powers grow as they age and their tail splits into more and can take the form of a human to bolster the forces of a friendly army. Worth noting that this is the only miniature to resemble real-life Kannushi, Shinto temple priests. The visual difference between an Onmyouiji and a Kannushi is mostly that the former generally has more expensive belongings and clothing.
- Earthly Onmyouji
These Onmyouiji are connected to the power of the Kuni, connected to the Kami and Yokai within it. Their first Shikigami is the Kamaitachi, a weasel bearing a sickle for a tail which can whip around the battlefield slicing off heads and limbs without detection. The second is a Kodama, a calm tree spirit who protect the forest and those friendly to it. The miniature takes inspiration from the Ainu indigenous peoples of Japan.
- Infernal Onmyouiji
Also called Hell Onmyouiji, who call on the power of Jigoku and Nekara as well as the 80000 Yokai who envy and hate the Kami. Their first servant is an Inugami which is a mortal dog they buried up to their head, starved, then beheaded when it attempted to reach a bowl of food out of it's reach. Inugami are complete slaves to their masters, and have become flaming beasts of spite. Their second is a Tsuchigumo, an evil spider which was a ghost who has been twisted by envy and who weaves webs that protect its master from attack. The miniature represents Kannushi who wear demon masks at certain ceremonies and festivals; in real life this isn't demon worship or dealmaking, and more resembles the old world traditions of Krampus and Mari Lwyd as someone dressing like a monster to interact with people at festive occassions.
- Death Onmyouiji
Onmyouiji dedicated to Emma-O and the Yurei. Their first servant is Nezumi, a black rat who knows black magic from gaining the knowledge contained in books they have eaten and can curse their foes with great misfortune straight out of a horror story (literally). Their second is Nekomata, a cat who can control magic and the dead; they love their owners and are absolutely loyal, but have a mean streak and can eat the dead to take human form when not raising the corpses as servants.
The mythological beings of Hymukai. Note that fans of Pokemon as kids (and adults) should be familiar with many of the concepts, as quite a few are based on Japanese folklore.
Note that many Infernal Creatures were Death in an older edition of the game, a change some preview images doesn't reflect.
Infernals are Yokai, often demons. They are the Yokai and Shura who belong in the Jigoku or Nekara of Yomi, but sometimes escape and wander the Kuni causing misery. Many have aspirations of breaking into the Ama, but always fail miserably.
Also called Amanoyaku, it is a level 1 Creature. It is a small goblin-like demon who's name literally means "divine evil spirit". Many on the internet will recognize the name and appearance from the classic hentai (because this is not-Japan after all) Urotsukidōji. If not, you are an individual of virtue.
Amanojakus are demons of temptation, who intensify the darker feelings and desires of their victims and convince the poor fool to act on them. Every aspect of Amanojaku is a corrupting influence.
Another level 1 demon with a goblinoid appearance.
Onibi are demons born from corpses of man and beast that seek vengeance for the circumstances of their birth against...well, anyone really. From a distance, they appear to be a friendly spirit with a lantern trying to show travelers the way, or beckon the living somewhere. In reality they seek to mislead those who follow them, and leave them with a cruel fate.
A level 2 demon, this time resembling a Harpy or Fury from Western myth.
They also fulfill a similar role, being winged women who savagely attack any who dare enter the Infernal or demonic parts of the world. There is an ancient Hymukai legend of a hero who attempted to rescue his love from death only to find that her hidden wickedness had turned her into a demon, and when he saw who she really was she called the Shikome to pursue and slay him.
- Ushi Oni
A level 2 demon. They come in many shapes and sizes (Kensei Ushi Oni come in a pair, as giant spiders with the heads of oxen), sharing only a predilection for human flesh and a habit of collecting bones.
They prefer to make their homes in caves or nearby the shore, and love setting traps. They are among the cruelest and most merciless beings who exist. See: Kobold.
A level 3 demon. Oni resemble giant demon ogres.
Oni are the strongest and most violent of the Yokai. Not exceedingly clever, but sadistic regardless and with a taste for human flesh. The dull intelligence is what keeps them from being the cruelest creature in Jigoku, but they are the most prone to breaking through the Celestial Gates that keep Infernal beasts at bay. They invariably run amok when they get loose, sowing swathes of destruction in their wake. Sometimes the rare Oni will show subtlety, kidnapping and quietly depopulating a village rather than blunder through with a club.
A level 3 demon. A chimera being with the head of a monkey, the body of a raccoon, tiger claws, a living snake for a tail, and wings.
Although they are as evil as any other Infernal, the primary ill caused by Nue is merely by their presence. They bring GRAVE MISFORTUNE upon those nearby them. Killing them isn't enough to end the miserable luck, every trace of their body must be entirely destroyed.
Level 4 demon. Jorogumo has the head and torso of a beautiful woman, but the body of a gigantic spider.
Hikari was the first Jorogumo, and the rest are her daughters (so Ungoliant basically). They are among the most dangerous Infernals as rather than just smashing a path of death, or hunting and eating peasants who go too near the forests, Jorogumo exclusively prey on the mightiest of men. They hide their spider bodies and ply seduction that would make an Amanojaku weep for feelings of inferiority, trapping men in their webs before consuming them. To have a Jorogumo as a nemesis is a mark that you are a massively strong-willed badass.
A level 4 demon. Hiderigami are cyclopean giants with massive clubs.
Basically a Nue mixed with an Oni, Hiderigami cause fires, stop rivers, and dry up the rain all merely by existing. Due to economic reasons, finding and killing a Hiderigami is an important task many adventuring parties are called in for, although the desire for human flesh they have makes them deadly foes.
Celestials are the beings of Ten-Do and inhabitants of Ama, and are either Kami or the servants of Kami.
A level 1 Celestial. Raiju have the appearance of a horned canine with traits of foxes or dogs mainly, and appear to be partially made out of or bathed in electrically-charged clouds. .
Their name means "Lightning beast" or "Roaring animal". They are entirely made of light, and leap from cloud tops with a bellow on their foes making them seem as if they were sentient lightning.
The Japanese origin is the animal companion of the Shinto god of lightning Raijin. Raiju is a singular creature but appears as different animals such as cats, dogs, foxes, weasels, and wolves, all made of pure lightning and while flying resembles a lightning ball. Thunder cracks accompany his appearances. Strangely enough he likes to sleep in the navel of humans who sleep outdoors, and the irritated Raijin attempts to electrocute humans he sees from the sky when Raiju can't be found; to avoid getting electrocuted because a god's pet thunderweasel is sleeping in your belly button you apparently must sleep on your stomach. The Pokemon Raikou, and the three legendary dogs in general, were based on Raiju (much of second generation Pokemon was based on Japanese mythology).
A level 1 Celestial that looks like a large hen, and can grow to be as big as a mountain.
Rather than clucking, their noise is an onomatopoeia sounding like "Basaibaba". Each time they exhale they shoot flames, although these flames only burn what the Basan wants it to and can never harm a being who is pure of heart. They are nocturnal.
A level 2 Celestial, resembling a giant dog with the head of a lion.
Komainu are guardians of the Celestial realm, and always come in pairs which stand guard at attention on the sides of doorways or gates. They can be found made of stone, metal, flesh, or even as spirits. Shrines often put statues of Komainu at their entrances, and its believed they will come to life and defend the temple if besieged.
A level 2 Celestial. Tennyo are four-armed angelic women bearing bows and katanas.
The female servants uplifted by the Kami, they spend their time in Ama pursuing the tender arts of music, poetry, art, and love. They do not hesitate to do battle with the corrupt, and will fight without fear.
The mythological origin of Tennyo is divine beings that are similar to angels and fairies that inhabit the heavenly realms in Japanese Buddhism serving the important heavenly entities such as Buddhas and Bodhisattva (ascended mortals), themselves inspired by similar beings in Chinese Buddhism which in turn are inspired by similar beings in Indian Buddhism. Japanese Tennyo sometimes visit the realm of mankind and remove their magical feathered kimono called Hagoromo which allow them to fly. In both legends and in Noh plays there is a story of a fisherman who finds a Hagoromo on the ground near the shore and is then confronted by a naked Tennyo. Depending on the version he either took it intentionally without her knowing and married her then giving it back and allowing her to return to heaven after a long life together, or he took it by mistake and simply asks her to perform a heavenly dance for him in exchange for it back, said dance teaching the human race about the phases of the moon and tides. Male Tennyo are called Tennin and are functionally the exact same, only they (presumably) don't marry fishermen.
Level 3 Celestial. The spirit of the west, Byakko is a singular entity that appears as a bipedal white tiger.
He is a being of great power who summons the powers of the sky including wind and electricity in defense of the balance of the world. When not in war, Byakko serves as an advisor to rulers by dispensing his thousands of years of wisdom to them.
A level 3 Celestial, Kirin combine the roles of Angels and Unicorns in Hymukai myth.
Kirin have the head of a deer, body of a lion, and dragon scales with an elongated giraffe-like neck. Kirin are beings of utmost purity who avoid the mortal world and its earthly impurities whenever possible. Despite this they acts as messengers for the Kami, and when in need the Kami will call on a Kirin to command their subordinates in battle like a divine Taisho.
The origin of the Kirin myth lies in China where an emperor sent an expedition to Africa and returned with animals for his zoo. He told the story that his giraffe was a magical being that only appeared for wise leaders and that having his own was proof of this. Its debated whether he believed this story or told it for amusement. Artistic representations combined the Chinese dragon with a deer and an ox tail, the giraffe spots appearing as scales. Buddhists reinvented it as the supreme celestial creature, only below dragons and phoenixes in power, who dwells in the homes or kingdoms of pure beings and will immolate any evil that threatens them while itself walking on clouds out of fear of harming innocent grass. The Japanese version is actually the most powerful mythological creature, surpassing dragons and phoenixes. It also lost most of the dragon features, appearing instead as a deer with large horns and a body that glows with small (unless angry when it is surrounded by) flames.
A level 4 Celestial, also called "Suzaku". Is essentially a Phoenix, although it is immortal rather than dying and being reborn. They appear so radiant, all other beings look common beside them.
Suzako inhabit and protect the southern prairies of the southern Ten-Do. Their fire not only brings great comfort and warmth to the residents of Ten-Do, but their heat causes seeds to grow more plentiful in the mortal world as well. They are believed to be the servants of the first Empress, Jingu, and guard Umi, the sacred fire of Hymukai. When they appear in the mortal world, either great prosperity or great misery will come.
Its a Phoenix, Japanese-style. Like Byakko and Genbu, the Suzako (which is its real Japanese name) is one of four beings who rule nature (in this case birds) and represent the four Cardinal Directions, in this case south, and one of the four seasons, summer, as well as the color red, fire, and is important to the concept of balance in Taoism as well as representing 7/28 of the constellations in the night sky. The Chinese version is Zhū Què, or "Vermilion Bird". Early Shinto heavily used the Taoist approach and Kyoto, the traditional capital of Japan, was built to correspond to many of its principles while Suzako adorned gates throughout the city as its protector.
Level 4 Celestial. Baku have lion-like bodies and elephant/tapir-like heads. They are very large, and come in many colors including black and pink.
Baku eat dreams (again, the Pokemon Drowzee and Hypno were based on them), magic, and curses. They can be invoked as a healer or guardian for the spiritually afflicted. They are perhaps the most ardent enemies of evil, causing any Infernal being great fear. Baku normally dwell in the Celestial prairies.
Many Earthly Creatures are Kami, either those who's hedonism or rural behavior got them booted out of Ten-Do, or who prefer to have real jobs. They vary greatly in alignment and behavior.
Level 1 Earthly Creature. Those raccoon things Mario turned into in Super Mario Bros. 3. Tanuki are bipedal raccoon men who carry a symbol of each of the eight elements at all times, and are tremendously lucky which also blesses those near them.
Tanuki are lazy bastards who prefer to guzzle sake and laze about with women while sampling delicious food all day, but are masters of disguise and naturally prone to trickery which they use if upset.
Tanuki are real life animals in Japan, and in old Shinto were considered the masters of all nature which doesn't directly serve a Kami (so not foxes or crows) although they later got demoted to just a silly minor spirit. They have oversized scrotum, which is exaggerated to the point of ludicrousness in visual depictions. Thankfully the Kensei miniature isn't playing his balls like drums, because apparently that's a thing folklore Tanukis do.
Level 1 Earthly Creature. Pokemon fans will remember Golduck as being a Kappa. Kappas are basically bipedal turtles, and vary in depiction from being just that or having lean bodies and duck bills. Kensei strikes the balance between turtle and Skeksis.
Kappas are usually nasty creatures who live in or on the shore of rivers, and are more Infernal than Earthly in behavior. They eat children, rape women, and if they see an exposed anus they use their lightning fast speed to reach into it and pull out intestines to eat raw (no, seriously, look it up). That being said, myths also portray some as kind-hearted or at least True Neutral, with Kappas becoming guardians and friends of people who give them cucumbers or write names on cucumbers and leave them by rivers. Apparently they also taught mankind how to use nets.
Hymukai Kappa just stick to being baby-eating rapists.
The top of a Kappa's head is concave, and inside is water like a bowl. They are creatures who value manners and customs greatly, so bowing to one forces them to bow in return which makes the water pour from their head. They become immobilized until the next time their head fills with water, so likely until the next rain unless some kind or foolish soul (depending on the personality of the Kappa) helps them. The other way to defeat them is to lead a cow or some similar animal to the water, as once the Kappa reaches into it's anus the animal's sphincter keeps the arm in place, with the Kappa frantically attempting to free itself until tearing it's own arm off and dying of blood loss.
- Karasu Tengu
Level 2 Earthly Creature. Identified just as "Tengu" on the model. Tengu are men with the head and feet of crows who carry Naginata.
Those who pursue great knowledge in life can become a Tengu after death, with Karasu being the lower caste of Tengu who serve the higher caste. Arrogance can also lead to becoming a Tengu, and humans who are arrogant or clever are much more likely to encounter Tengu in their travels. Karasu enjoy partying and practical jokes, being the college fratboys of Tengu. They congregate in mountains, with their lights and drifting sound of drums being the indications they are around.
A level 2 Earthly Creature. The higher class Tengu. They are the greatest scholars who become Tengu, and resemble large red-skinned men with massive and long noses.
Dai-Tengu are very benevolent beings, who live at the tops of Cedar and Pine trees near places of spirituality and learning, using impressive magic and martial arts skills in defense of these places. They also sometimes abduct human babies, returning them to their parents after only a few years with the child (now only a toddler) having a bright future thanks to their massive intellect and mastery over whatever skills the Tengu saw fit to teach until almost masters of the craft.
In real life Japan, Tengu are important figures in folklore and Dai-Tengu masks are iconic of the culture. A lot of old fashioned porn also involved Tengu noses being used as dildos. The more you know!
A level 3 Earthly Creature. Genbu, also called "The Black Warrior", is a giant bipedal turtle with a snake for a tail.
Like Byakko, Genbu is a single being rather than a species. Genbu is the spirit who guards the direction North, and is a symbol of wisdom and longevity. Unlike the more social Byakko, Genbu is reclusive although he freely dispenses his wisdom to any who seek him out. He knows all languages known to humans, and is almost impossible to harm. He also guards the universes greatest treasures and secrets faithfully.
A level 3 Earthly Creature. Looks like a naturally-formed golem, covered in moss and growth. Once again, the Pokemon Geodude and their evolutions plus Snorlax are the parallel.
Sesho-Sekki are called "Assassin Stones" due to being extremely hostile and attacking anything who comes near them with single-minded fury that comes from being disturbed. They are hard to avoid, looking no different than the rest of the landscape until they move. They move far faster than anything made of stone should naturally move, and drain energy from their foe as they fight. Once they destroy their target they return to slumber, although they can fight entire battles without actually waking up fully.
A level 4 Earthly Creature. Also called "Misuchi", it's a giant Eastern Dragon (you knew it was coming) with deer horns, whiskers, and a long serpent-like body. Think Falkor, with the habits of Gyarados.
They breathe poison gas and acid, and sleep at the bottom of large lakes. Mizuchi are the strongest creatures in the Kuni, and taking one on requires a LOT more than one British dude in a metal tuxedo. Mizuchi really represent the massive "fuck you" nature can give if you hassle with seemingly defenseless things, pretending to be a wounded deer and completely obliterating hunters who attack it as a pass-time among other things.
Mizuchi also control rain.
A level 4 Earthly Creature. An EXTREMELY powerful Kami, a shapeshifting spirit who appears to be made out of the landscape and without knowing it a traveller can be on top of one. They can be a mountain, a hill, a tree, a waterfall, or anything else natural. The Kensei model looks like a statuesque treeman.
Daidarobotchi create life, and can reshape the landscape at will. They hate anything that destroys nature, and everything from ant to yew (even you) is under their protection. They are the parents of all of nature; fuck with the forest, overfish or hunt a region, or reroute a river at your own peril. After they crush you, they'll restore the damage you caused as if you were never there.
tl;dr the forest spirit from the Fantasia 2000 Firebird Suite after a few levels in badass
Creatures of DeathEdit
A giant monster tree with a vertical split mouth in its "trunk" full of teeth. Appearing as if just a tree, Jubokko have developed a vampiric thirst for blood after having so much spilled on them in war. At night it becomes active, draining the juices from men until only brittle bones remain.
Jubokko myths were common to all regions of Japan, although its been suggested it was invented by folklorists combining similar myths in the more recent era. Basically trees, often but not always, at former battlefields that had so much blood spilled they began to thirst for it. They capture living beings to drain to sate their new thirst. Jubokko always appear to be the healthiest tree around, and if cut bleed like human rather than leak sap. Their "blood" and extracts have healing properties.
A Kami of death, appearing as a rotund giant monk wearing tattered clothing and carrying a pot full of souls.
The Shinigami seeks ownership of souls, and causes feelings of dread and hopelessness to cause civilians to commit suicide, or soldiers to lose their will to live so it can collect their souls as well.
Shinigami are popular in modern Japanese fiction (mostly anime), but are a relatively new concept. They appeared in Edo period fiction which dwelled on suicide and accidental avoidable deaths as a supernatural explanation, and many spirits and even gods like Izanami were retroactively considered types of Shinigami. Also thanks to their new nature there isn't a universally agreed-upon version of them; sometimes they are more like ghosts that possess people and cause them to commit suicide in the same way they themselves did, other times they are unhappy or corrupted (such as by pollution of their domain) spirits who cause depressed and suicidal feelings in humans, and very rarely were used as grim reaper figures. The latter is the most popular interpretation today.
See Undead army entry above.
- Ao Bozu
A diminutive blue-skinned cyclopean monk.
Originally appeared as a sketch and the name Aobozu with no attached story in a famous book compiling various rural ghost myths from the late 1700's. Plenty have elaborated on the myth since then, and Ao Bozu can be anything from a child-snatching boogeyman to a monk who mutated due to studying too much or too little to a benevolent Kami. The name refers to the colors blue or green and has symbolic meaning of inexperience. In old Shinto myths, one-eyed beings are usually connected to ancient and cruel deities who were defeated by more benevolent ones and can be warded away by anything with a lot of holes, like a woven basket, since it reminds them of many eyes and either confuses, scares, or angers them.
A level 3 Yokai. Gaikotsu are giant skeletons animated by the souls of those who starved to death. They haunt the Kuni in search of men to eat. It usually attacks those who are alone or in small groups. Before it attacks, its prey hear a buzzing or ringing in their ears.
Its name simply means "Skeleton" and it isn't based on any particular myth. Gaikotsu borrows most from the Japanese myth of Gashadokuro/Odokuro, as above in in the Undead army but applied to groups of large skeletons rather than an individual giant.
The Kensei Gaikotsu wears armor and carries a No-Dachi.
Death also gets an Oni.
A level 3 Yokai. A dark buzzard-like Yokai born from the suffering of battlefield dead. A being causing immense fear to those who see it, the Onmoraki travels from battlefield to battlefield consuming pain and souls to grow stronger.
In the origin myth, they are giant birds with black feathers and human faces. They are born when a soul doesn't receive enough funerary prayers, and primarily harass priests who neglect their duties by imitating their own voice and acting as a guilty conscience or otherwise terrifying them.
Same as in the Kuroi-te entry.
Same as in the Kuroi-te entry.
- Ukuri Inu
Same as in the Kuroi-te entry.
Same as in the Kuroi-te entry.
Same as in the Kuroi-te entry.
Same as in the Kuroi-te entry.
The Bakeneko is a naked woman with cat-like features.
The model was produced for the Indiegogo campaign and was initially only given to those who were early backers. It does not yet have rules, but in theory should be quite strong.
A Bakeneko is a housecat who has lived long enough to become magical. At their seventh year of life, wicked or mistreated cats will kill their owners and any other humans they wish. At twelve or thirteen years, they become powerful Yokai who can shapeshift, communicate with other supernatural creatures in addition to humans, and bring great luck or misfortune at will.
- Undead Ninja
Ninja who are Undead.
A demonic-looking furry creature with two tails.
In Japanese myth, Kasha are Yokai that steal human corpses for unknown reasons. In many versions of the story the Kasha is just a burning guise Nekomata (old magical cats) adopt to obtain corpses for their mischief. Otherwise, its an unrelated cat-like being.
A vaporous Undead being in the shape of a man made of skulls.
Enenra are, strangely enough, not a hostile Yokai in their original myth. They are the spirits who dwell in bonfires, emerging as smoke vaguely in the shape of a human to greet those that are pure of heart.
- Satiro Kai
A monster of some kind. Origin unknown.
A monstrous humanoid on all-fours who's tongue drags on the ground.
One of the strangest, and either silliest or most horrifying depending on how its portrayed, creatures in Japanese mythology. Its name, Aka, can mean filth or the color red so most depictions are of it being red or of a flushed skin tone. It looks like a small feral human with a hunch, making it look even smaller. They are completely naked and their skin is covered in sores and grease as they never clean themselves. They sometimes only have one eye, and between two and ten fingers/toes. Using their long prehensile tongue, they consume filth wherever it can be found (although were a person to enter an unlocked outhouse or bath at night when the Akaname is consuming the filth within it won't pass up on the opportunity for fresh meat). That being said, Akaname are mostly just a boogyman used to explain why very small children are afraid of the toilet and are only rarely portrayed seriously.
Gashadokuro, also called Odokuro, is a massive skeleton who can reach through buildings like a ghost and pluck samurai from within to eat. Motivated solely by hunger, in some versions a Gashadokuro is born when skeletons of those who starve to death merge. Anytime you hear ringing in your ears, its the sound of a Gashadokuro lurking somewhere in the countryside stalking some prey. In some versions of the myth he has no lower body and drags his spine or pelvis on the ground behind him, causing the ringing despite being otherwise silent. In other versions of the myth he keeps a fake beating heart in his ribcage while his real one is shriveled, looking like a stone set in a ring on his pinky. He challenges would-be attackers to take a free shot at his fake heart before he devours them, while in those stories the protagonist realizes somehow and shoots the real heart. Gashadokuro was one of the minor villains of the Laika film Kubo And The Two Strings, and is the largest stop motion puppet ever made at over 18 feet tall.
- Abura Shumashi
A short creature that looks like a gray-skinned man in peasant attire.
Abura-Sumashi are minor Yokai in Japanese myth that only haunt a particular mountain pass near Kusazumigoe in Kumamoto. They surprise travelers or banter with the elderly, but otherwise have no mischief or harm. They are those who were punished for stealing oil (very valuable back in the day) by being reincarnated as a man with stone skin (in some versions, he's made of roots and even potatoes). Now they guard the regions were the leaves the oil they stole is extracted from grow.
The first expansion to Kensei was [an Indiegogo campaign] to add the entire Magic and Creature line to the game. It ended successfully on May 14, 2013.
On November 27, 2015 Kensei began a Kickstarter to expand their line into a fifth army made up entirely of Undead models, some of which complete the missing models for the Death Creatures. It was fully funded less than a day after starting, with a model that was planned as an addon instead given as a bonus to all model pledge tiers instead.
On May 12, 2017 a second Kickstarter was begun to publish the second edition manual in Spanish and English as well as add artillery pieces to the game. The second edition had the rules for the Undead produced for the second Kickstarter, a unified set of rules with Torii, updated lore, as well as the new faction the Hattori (and hints at the next faction; Wako Pirates).
A composer named Jonay Armas is writing a soundtrack for use while painting or playing Kensei.
- The official lore page for the history of the setting.
- Plast Craft Games, who produce the licensed scenery for Kensei.
- An unboxing and review of a starter box.
- The lore website, currently out of date as Otokodate have not been added.
- The free rules download.
- Markers needed to play.
- The online store.
- Licensed terrain.