Author Topic: Rokushima Taiyoo - RP Guide and Resource  (Read 17085 times)

Emomina

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Rokushima Taiyoo - RP Guide and Resource
« on: June 29, 2011, 04:16:18 AM »
(this guide seeks the make available some unifying concepts for what has always been one of the least detailed domains in the Ravenloft Setting. It has proven to be a popular background for many characters on PotM over the years, and its hoped making some common themes readily available can help aspiring Rokuma roleplayers.)

Overview and History

Rokushima Taiyoo is one of the Islands of Terror in the Ravenloft setting.  It is not part of the core or any cluster, It is completely surrounded by the mists with no other domains bordering or nearby.
The name of the domain literally means 'Six Islands (of the) Sun'.  There are only four islands however.
Rokushima Taiyoo is a darker and more gothic setting than other DnD Japans such as Kara-Tur's Wa and Kozakura, or Lot5r's Rokugan where the traditional high magic and high fantasy Japanese setting used in Oriental Adventures is replaced with a dark vision of the setting with crumbling castles, forgotten shrines and sense of dread hidden in the beauty of each garden or palace

Current Year of PotM is 766
In the recent history of the place there once lived a man named Haki Shinpi who spent a lifetime unifying the six islands under his control through military campaigns and other, less honorable means.  Upon his death 26 years ago ( year 740), his six sons began fighting over who should inherit the unified kingdom their father had built. In the end each brother became Shujin of one of the islands. Each of the six islands had one brother who ruled the fiefdom from his castle. During this period, the outside world became unavailable to the Rokuma people, their culture insulated by a unnavigable wall of mist.  Within weeks after their fathers death, first the youngest son died at the hands of a ninja and shortly after the eldest son died as well.  Both of the deaths were followed shortly by massive earthquakes as the island that was ruled by the fallen Shujin disappeared into the murky depths of the ocean.

The Shujin

The word 'Shujin" means master or owner, and they are considered princes, and the victorious one will be emperor when and if the the war is ever settled. Their children are heirs to their position and considered princes (ōji) and princesses (hime). Each of the four shujin is atop the feudal system of the island he resides on, ruling the social classes and peasants from a fortified castle and always plotting how to rid himself of his brothers. They hold numerous nobles under their vassalage and every daimyo swears fealty to his shujin and every samurai swears fealty to the daimyo in turn. While ostensibly responsible for overseeing the governance of their island realms, the brothers are completely obsessed with winning the war and are wreaking havoc on the lives of their subjects. They rule their islands from a great castle on the upper slopes of the island. Each of their islands has one sprawling city of wooden temples, stone gardens, and other elements of oriental beauty on it.

Yake Shinpi - ruler of the northeast island. His castle is Shiro Koori, which translates as White Ice Castle. The village on his island is named Eikoku.
Yagami Shinpi - ruler of the northwest island. His Castle is Yoake Shiro, which translates as Dawn Castle. The village on his island is named Beikoku.
Yami Shinpi - ruler of the southwest island. His Castle is a known as such 'Seven Towers' due its seven ramparts. The village on his island is named Roshiya.
Yoku Shinpi - ruler of the southeast island, His castle is Yoosai Kurai, which means Fortress of Darkness. The village on his island is named Chuugoka.

Geography

The four islands form a circular lush archipelago that rise impossibly from the surrounding poisonous sea. The mountainous islands are geologically active with hot springs, volcanoes and earthquakes being not uncommon. The body of water interior to them named Ookfi Kagamiko or 'Great Mirror Lake'. Great mirror lake is fed by pure natural springs of water from underground. The lake gets its name from how its glassy surface reflects the majestic snow capped mountains of the islands, particularly Shimo Yama. The waters of the lake rush between the islands, cascading down jagged slopes of luminous coral and into the venomous depths of the Poison Sea. These are called torrents, and are filled with fantastic looking but inedible fish. These torrents are named for the directions; eastern torrent, southern torrent, northern torrent and the western torrent is permanently shrouded in mists. On each bank here there are ruined castles rumored to be haunted and these mists are called Warui Yume Kasumi or 'The Nightmare Mists', any vessel that sails into these mists vanish forever. The seas exterior of the island is known as the Dokyuumi or 'Poison Sea'. It extends 50 miles in every direction from the islands and is filled with sea monsters and is not navigated by the Rokuma. The mists surrounding the domain surround the Poison sea. The most striking feature of Rokushima is Shimo Yama, or 'Mount Frost', it is the largest peak in the country at 8,000 feet high and it is on the northeast island. It can be seen from anywhere in the domain when weather permits, and its slopes are purportedly riddled with corrupted shrines and caches of plundered treasure. The island landscape is rugged and picturesque, blanketed by damp evergreen forests, arching wood bridges and misty waterfalls.
The four islands were never named canonically, a decision that seems strange and might have been oversight

Weather and Climate

The weather in Rokushima Taiyoo is fierce and merciless. Summers are oppressive and muggy, and with Autumn come violent storms called typhoons. Winters are brutally cold, burying the domain under endless snow. Springtime is short but comparitively pleasant, a time when the islands are covered in pale flower blossoms from trees such as cherry (sakura) and plum (ume)

Language
The language spoken in Rokushima Taiyoo is Rokuma. As a spoken language it is not overly complex, though it does contain complexities such as different ways of speaking and addressing others depending on who they are and what their social standing is.
As a written languages it is one of the most complex languages in Ravenloft, it is written using a large set of complex characters that have both a pronunciation and a meaning. It is not written right to left and horizontal like languages of the core. It is written vertically top to bottom and then right to left. Its real world inspiration is Japanese.
Rokuma is not mutually intelligible with Gothic Earth's Japanese language. It has the same relationship as Ravenloft's Balok does with Gothic Earth's Romanian language

Language Primer

yes- hai
no- iie
good bye - sayonara
good morning - Ohayou (informal)  Ohayou Gozaimasu (formal)
good day - Kon'nichiwa
good evening - Konbanwa
good night (before sleeping) - O-yasumi nasai (literally 'good rest')
how are you? - Genki?(informal)  O-genki desu ka? (formal) (literally 'how is your ki?')
morning - asa
day - ohiru or hiruma
night - yoru
moon - tsuki
sun - taiyō
man - otoko or dansei
woman - on'na no ko or josei
child- ko or kodomo (children)
warrior - bushi
sword - ken
stupid - baka
meal (food) - gohan


Feudal System

Each Shujin command armies of warriors that have sworn loyalty to him. The entire island population is subject to him.

Daimyo
The lords/nobles appointed by the Shujin to oversee his army are called Daimyo. They oversee the day to day so that he does not have to, with primarily duties including keeping wary eye out for the forces of the other islands and forming a proper defense. It is much analogous to the Boyars in Barovia but with more military duty.
Samurai
The warrior class, these men are of noble standing and usually follow in the foot steps of their father. They inherit the fealty of their ancestors to serve their lord, whoever it may be of the current generation. To be a samurai, the man must adhere to Bushido, which among other things includes mastering of swordcraft and absolute loyalty to superiors in fulfilling what is asked of him. A samurai without a lord is a ronin, and loses social standing as a result.
Artesans and Clergy artists, seamstresses, swordsmiths, cooks/chefs, historians, dancers, courtesans, gardeners, monks, priests, and performers make up a sort of middle class. They are not part of the military, nor do they farm the land or fish the great lake. They serve various specialized roles and are often following the role of their ancestors in much the same way the warriors do. They are never quite in poverty but neither do they ever own land.
Serfs and Peasants The majority of the common people work the land for their Shujin in return for some rice, or pay.  The most common professions are fisherman and rice farmer.  Others are tradesmen such as blacksmiths, loggers, shipwrights, carpenters, and other less common trades.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2011, 04:25:30 AM by Emomina »

Emomina

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Re: Rokushima Taiyoo - RP Guide and Resource
« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2011, 05:23:43 AM »
Religion

The religion of Rokushima is unique from any of the religions of other lands. The Rokuma worship was they refer to as the kami.

Kami
What are the kami? It can variously be translated as divinity, spirit, god, deity, natural force or essence and has a wide range of what it covers.
The Rokuma people believe there is a spirit in all things, from inanimate objects to natural things like waterfalls and trees.
It encompasses a wide range of various spirits such as a small and less important kami in a random rock to a very important and universally known kami such as Amaterasu, the sun kami.The Rokuma religion also reveres the dead as kami, believing that their ancestors are now kami.
While humans posses only one soul, kami are believed to posses two souls; one gentle (nigi-mitama) and the other assertive (ara-mitama). A kami would behave differently according to which soul was in control at a given time.
All Rokuma patronize all kami to some extent, the kami are worshiped as a whole, though certain reasons will make a person patronize one or more strongly over the others.

Shrines
Kami shrines are beautifully maintained places with a small but dedicated staff of priests that serve as their communities faith healers and spiritual guides. The shrines are built where the kami can be most profoundly felt, and are often near places of great natural beauty and power, such as a great waterfall, a majestic mountain, or beautiful forest glade.  They are marked at the entrance by a torii, which are ornate gates that mark the entrance into sacred ground.  There are several barriers both real (such as statues, a line of trees, gates, walls) and perceived that separate the shrine from the outside world and maintain a feeling of serenity. There is always a water trough near the torii where visitors are expected to cleanse their mouth and hands using a ladle before entering the inner grounds so as to not defile the sacred place. A shrine can be dedicated to a particular kami or to a group of kami or to all kami, it varies from individual shrine. Shrines also vary greatly in size, from being only a single unmanned statue called a 'hokora' to great enclosed temple sized shrines marked with towering pagoda. Pagoda rise to great heights and can be seen from great distances, attracting pilgrims to visit from far away locations. These serene shrines both humble and magnificent dot the islands in number too great to count.

Kami-dana
All Rokuma maintain a sort of mini-shrine inside of their homes. It is usually a small shelf in one room of the house and is mostly dedicated to the family's ancestors and any kami they patronize specifically. The size and what the kami-dana are made out of greatly depend on the wealth of the family.

Clergy
The priests that attend such shrines are mostly non-militant, but there are usually a handful of monks that will lay down their life to protect the place from being defiled or destroyed. Many shrines have one special priestess called a Miko who is an unmarried young woman of some beauty that is believed to be a virgin and acts as the primary healer and shaman for the shrine. In addition to their religious duties, they will often have a role as community teachers in various fields. It is not uncommon for a priest to teach calligraphy, gardening, painting or other disciplines to the common populace. The clergy in Rokushima occupy a unique role in society as they are mostly not involved with the warfare, and are left alone by all sides involved. They use music, dance and other performing arts to relate the grand stories of the kami, entertaining the masses in the process. They also preside over the ceremony of weddings, funerals and festivals. They do not necessarily seek to convert anyone, as the faith is nearly universal, and the focus is instead on passing down the knowledge of the kami. They do however have a competition with rival shrines to achieve a higher prominence in the community and go to great lengths to put on the most popular show during festivals.

Beliefs
This religions belief is that life is sacred because the kami created human life. Mankind can not see this divine nature of things themselves because they are unclean. To achieve this knowledge each Rokuma person tries to live their life to achieve magokoro, or 'purification'
There are four tenants that are used to achieve purification by living in accordance to them:

- Hold onto tradition and the family. Family is the main mechanism by which traditions are preserved. Marriages and births represent new opportunities to pass down traditions
- Have a love of nature. Natural objects are worshiped as sacred because the kami live within them. Therefore, to be in contact with nature means to be in contact with the gods.
- Maintain physical cleanliness by taking baths, washing hands, and rinsing out the mouth often.
- Practice matsuri, which is the worship and honor given to the kami and the ancestral spirits. Matsuri are festivals held in the honor of nature and the kami.

As a result of striving to achieve this spiritual purity, their culture is one that holds nature, family and tradition as extremely important.

Cosmology
The Rokuma believe that the world is separated into three distinct parts.

Takamagahara, or 'High Plain of Heaven'  -  This place is ruled over by Amaterasu as the principle kami of the heavens. An aspect of the kami dwell here and it is believed that there is a bridge that connects Takamagahara to Rokushima and that when humans visit shrines the kami use the bridge to visit them

Ashihara no Nakatsukuni, or 'Central Land of Reeds' -  This is where humans dwell, and the kami interact with them

Yomi - A netherworld located somehwere below the land that is believed to be ruled over by Izanami. It is considered to be a very unclean place of shadows and filth, so filthy it is believed that you can not return to the land of living after having been sullied by the place.   It is populated by Oni and is where it is believed the dead go to dwell and apparently rot indefinitely. It is not quite like hades or hells of other cultures in that it is not punishment for a life not lived well, but instead a place where the dead are collected.

Kami are also divided into amatsu-kami ("the heavenly deities") and kunitsu-kami ("the gods of the earthly realm").

This is the cosmology that the Rokuma believe, and it may have been so in the time before Rokushima Taiyoo was taken into the demiplane. None of these celestial planes are accessible any longer, if they ever were. 

Pantheon of Kami
There are many kami that are widely known and patronized. These are the only kami that are specifically named and can have shrines and priests dedicated to them.
A brief description of each and their DnD domains and alignment, as well as an image when available:

Izanagi

Other names : Izanagi-no-mikoto, Izanaki-no-Okami
Portfolio: Creation,  Men (symbolizes the first man), Nature and the natural world
Domains: Animal, Earth, Healing, Water
Alignment: LN
Worshipers: men, fathers, peasants and patriots
Notes: His name means 'male-who-invites'.  It is believed that together with his sister and wife Izanami that he created the islands of Rokushima. When Izanami died in childbirth, he tried unsuccessfully to rescue her from Yomi.  In the cleansing rite he performed in returning to the land of the living he created Amaterasu from his left eye, Tsukuyomi from his right eye and Susanoo from his nose.

Izanami

Other names : Izanami-no-Mikoto, Izanami-no-kami
Portfolio: Creation, Death, Women (symbolizes the first woman)
Domains: Animal, Earth, Healing, Water
Alignment: LN
Worshipers: women, mothers, people grieving the death of a loved one.
Notes: Her name means 'she-who-invites'.  It is believed that together with her brother and husband Izanagi that she created the islands of Rokushima. She now presides over Yomi as the goddess of death and the underworld. She is not an evil deity however, she is a good death deity.
Shrines: Her shrines are usually located over the entrances to caves, which are believed to be entrances into Yomi.

Amaterasu

Other names : Amaterasu-ōmikami, Ōhiru-menomuchi-no-kami
Portfolio:    The sun, daylight, triumph over darkness, honor, the heavens
Domains:     Good, Healing, Law, Protection, Sun
Alignment:  LG
Worshipers:  Farmers, anyone that opposes the things that use darkness for evil
Notes: Presides over the High Celestial Plain
Shrines: Her shrines are always in a place without shade, and much sunlight during the day.

Tsukuyomi

Other names : Tsukuyomi-no-Mikoto
Portfolio:   The moon, Passage of Time, Bows, Nighttime
Domains:  Good, Healing, Knowledge, Travel
Alignment:  NG
Worshipers:  Farmers, watchmen, sailors, archers

Hachiman

Other names : Yahata no kami
Portfolio:  Warfare, military tactics, learning, bushido, honor and duty
Domains: Law, Strength, War
Alignment:  LN
Worshipers:  Samurai, warriors
Shrines: The shrines are often at places that have witnessed battle, or are rumored to be places that witnessed ancient battles. His clergy dedicate themselves to teaching the populace how to read and write and the ethics of bushido.

Susanoo

Other names : Tatehaya Susanoo-no-Mikoto
Portfolio:  the Seas and Storms especially Typhoons  and Tsunamis
Domains:  Air, Chaos, Sun, Water
Alignment:  CN
Worshipers:  Seafarers, or Tsunami victims
Shrines: His shrines are nearly always near or on the sea. His clergy often build boardwalk and floating shrines with the approach being from the ocean and the boats passing under a torii that appears to float on the water.

Raiden

Other names :  Raijin, Kaminari-sama, Narukami
Portfolio:  Storms,  Lightning, Electricity, Dishonorable tactics, fearmongering
Domains: Air, Chaos, Evil, War
Alignment:  CE
Worshipers:  Evil magicians, destroyers, anit-socials, tricksters, fearmongerers
Notes: People of all alignments attribute bad thunder and lightning to his being angered. Parents tell their children to hide their navels (belly buttons) during a thunderstorm because Raiden will eat it. He is depicted as carrying many taiko (drums) which he uses to make the thunderous noises during a storm

Ama-Tsu-Mara
Other names : Amenomahitotsu no kami
Portfolio:  smithing, swordmaking, mirrors and mirror making
Domains: Earth, Fire, Healing, Protection
Alignment:  TN
Worshipers: Smiths. craftsmen
Extra Notes: Depicted as a cyclopean, with only one eye. His name means "eye divination"

Inari

Other names : Oinari, Inari Ōkami
Portfolio:   foxes, rice, currency and economy, couriers, tricksters and jokesters (good natured ones)
Domains: Animal, Healing, Plant
Alignment: NG
Worshipers:  Merchants, farmers, druids, messengers. Inari is one of the most popular kami due to making money being so important to standard of living
Extra notes: Inari is represented both as male and/or female and as a fox or specifically as a Kitsune which act as his messengers
Shrines: His holy color is red, and his shrines have a pair of kitsune statues on each side of the entrance. Followers often tie red bandana around the necks of the statues.

Ho Masubi

Other names : Kagu-tsuchi, Hi-no-haya-yagi-wo, Hino-kaga-biko, Hinokagutsuchi
Portfolio: Fire, Vocanoes and lava, Burns and ash, dragons
Domains:     Fire, Plant, Sun
Alignment:  CN
Worshipers: not so much worshiped as appeased. offerings are made to prevent destructive eruptions of volcanoes or tremblings with ash showers
Extra notes: sometimes represented as a dragon breathing fire, or as other nature spirits such as a kirin. A volcanic eruption or ash shower will prompt people to make offerings at his shrines to appease the fiery dragon.

Nai No Kami

Other names :
Portfolio:  Earthquakes
Domains:  Earth, Destruction
Alignment: LN
Worshipers:  this kami is worshiped following an earthquake or tremor. Offerings are made to prevent another from happening, and there is not much of an organized following of this kami.

Watatsumi

Other names : O-Wata-Tsu-Mi, Ōwatsumi kami, Ryu-jin  (literally 'dragon god')
Portfolio:  Dragons, Sea, murky depths, the unknown, the supernatural, the deep under the sea
Domains: Animal, Travel, Water
Alignment: NG
Worshipers: Seafarers, especially those seeking protection from the torrents, the mists, or the Poison Sea
Other Notes: Nearly always depicted as a dragon but believed to be able to take the form of a man at will. He represents the immense depth and sheer power of the ocean. His palace is believed to be below the waves and made of red and white coral. Sea turtles, fish and jellyfish are depicted as his servants.
Shrines: Nearly always near the sea and have various sea creatures and monsters in statues and paintings. His followers drop offerings of gems into the ocean.

Kura Okami

Other names : Kuraokami
Portfolio:  Rain, Snow, Ice, Darkness, Reptiles (particularly snakes)
Domains: Air, Healing, Water
Alignment:  CG
Worshipers:  Magicians, Mountain dwellers, seekers of forbidden or hidden knowledge
Other notes: Nearly always depicted as a white, icy dragon. It is believed he causes the rain or snow to fall.
Shrines: His shrines often depict dark coloured snakes and icy landscaped paintings. and are nearly always located in a place that receives snowfall in most seasons such as higher elevations.

Shina-Tsu-Hiko

Other names : Fujin, Shinatsuhiko, Shinatobe no mikoto
Portfolio:  Wind, Flying, Mists and Fogs
Domains:  Air, Chaos, Protection
Alignment:  CN
Worshipers:  Musicians, sailors
Other notes: Usually depicted as carrying a large bag of wind on his shoulders. He is responsible for the winds that make mists and fog roll in.

Amatsu-Mikaboshi

Other names : Ame-no-kagaseo
Portfolio:  Evil, Stars, Sky, Oni, Forbidden power, The negative left from creation
Domains:  Evil, Knowledge, Law, Trickery
Alignment:  LE
Worshipers:  Scholars, Astronomers, Wizards ( a rare class in Rokushima), any evildoer
Extra Notes: It is believed that he controls the evil of the world, including the Oni. He is the leftover from the creation of the world, the evil that dwells in the heart of men
Shrines: His shrines nearly always depict scary demon beings called Oni, and the artwork also depicts yomi, the underworld

O-Kuni-Nushi

Other names :  Ōkuninushi
Portfolio: farming, building, medicine, nation-building
Domains: Animal, Good, Healing, Strength
Alignment: CG
Worshipers: farmers, peasants, doctors, leaders
Extra Notes: His name means "Great Land Master' and his followers favor the quarterstaff


Ebisu

Other names : Yebisu, Hiruko
Portfolio:  fishermen, luck, gamblers, working men, commoners
Domains: Good, Law, Luck
Alignment:  LG
Worshipers:  Being the god of luck and fishing, he is the patron of many. A very popular kami, most of the population revere this kami and relate to him most as he is the most like the common man.
Shrines: His shrines are popular places, and known to produce sake. They are located near the sea always, and have lots of fish iconography.

Daikoku

Other names :  Daikokuten
Portfolio:  Households, homestead, family, fortune/wealth, cooking and the kitchen
Domains:  Air, Animal, Luck, Strength
Alignment:  LG
Worshipers:   homemakers, cooks, merchants, druids
Shrines: Being a god of fortune, his shrines usually have fountains where the people can make an offering in hopes of receiving his favor.

Kishijoten

Other names : Kisshōten, Kichijōten
Portfolio: Happiness, Beauty, Fertility, Art
Domains:  Good, Luck, War
Alignment:  NG
Worshipers:  Artists, Seamstresses, Mothers, Performers, Courtesans, Musicians, Singers
Extra Notes: She represents the epitome of Rokuma ideals of femininity. She is the primary patron of many of the court musicians, actors and courtesans.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2011, 02:30:46 AM by Emomina »

Emomina

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Re: Rokushima Taiyoo - RP Guide and Resource
« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2011, 04:33:48 AM »
Cultural Isolation

The domain of Rokushima Taiyoo is about as culturally isolated as anywhere within the mists. They have very little contact with or knowledge of the lands of the core. There is one known mistway, called 'The Way of Venomous Tears' that connects the Sea of Sorrows with Rokushima. It is a two-way travel through the mists, but it is of poor reliability.  Traders from Dementlieu and Darkon have found their way to Rokushima in recent years, attempting to establish trade with mixed results. The Rokuma view these outsiders with guarded curiosity and find them brutish and disrespectful. The Shujin brothers each seek to tip the war in their favor by acquiring some of the foreign weapons, particularly gunpowder. These foreigners are derisively referred to as 'gaijin' or 'other people'. In the Rokuma mindset their are normal people (Rokuma people) and weird people from strange and barely believable places. (the foreigners, or 'gaijin')

The Civil War

The war for Rokushima has been waged for a generation now, over two decades. The slow, smoldering war wreaks havoc on the Rokuma people, and many younger people have only known this war. Samurai are known by the island that they represent, such as 'The Samurai of the North', and oftentimes the armies of samurai clash openly in the streets of the villages, heedless of the commoners that are caught in the conflict. Periodically, the struggle explodes into outright warfare as the forces of each shujin brother slaughter one another in gruesome battles. In most villages, there is no longer any civic order at all.  Surprisingly and despite the state of affairs, the brothers are each respected and revered by the citizens of their own island. Each populace thinks their Shujin is the one just ruler that adheres by the code of  Bushido. The (OOC) actuality is that none of the four brothers fight fully fair and break Bushido constantly. They look for any advantage that they can, and will employ ninja clans, rogue ronin, or criminals such as yakuza if they think it can help them win the war. They constantly plot the downfall of their brothers, even up to assassination plots. The war has stymied other advancements and drained the resources of a once proud country. The constant warring between the islands shujin has created an atmosphere of terror in the domain's villages. The bloody conflict has cast a fearful shadow over the Rokuma, who endure harassment and brutality from the prideful samurai of their masters. With the samurai more concerned with war instead of civic duties, many commoners have turned to the shrewd brigands called yakuza to protect them from their own nobility in exchange for protection money. However, despite all of this, some arts still find a way to persevere and in times when the war does not wage fully the people find time for entertainment. Religious festivals are universal in the islands and war will sometimes take a break long enough to observe a holiday. The priests and monks of the shrines are only group that continues their way of life mostly unchanged.

Cultural Level and Technology

Rokushima Taiyoo is a Dark Age (5) level domain. Dark Age societies often form in the wake of the slow collapse of a classical culture.  Rokushima Taiyoo has reached its current cultural level from the destruction of war. The old ways of their civilization no longer provide the security they once did, and savage bands of criminals roam the country side as result. Remaining pockets of their culture still exist behind the thick stone walls of castle compounds and in monasteries in remote wilderness locations. Scribes create beautiful illuminated manuscripts, embellishing ancient knowledge and religious thought. Monasteries ring with newly invented choral harmonies and master craftsmen jealously guard newly developed creations. Populations exist within close proximity of one central location, either a walled and fortified village or the large castle compound of one of the shujin. Although Rokushima Taiyoo falls under the category of a Dark Ages culture in terms of cultural development, it does not follow the European model, existing as a very civilized and cultured society with rules of its own. Often bordering on both side of traveled roadways, are large fields dotted with row after row of rice paddy. It is their primary grain, and the rice growing techniques have benefited of such advancements as crop rotation. Fishing is done on a large scale and all manner of sea food, together with rice, makes up what is found on dinner tables. As such farming and fishing has advanced to the point that it reliably feeds the population. Tea is grown and drunk for its medicinal qualities. Warfare benefits from technology advancements such as armor and steel weaponry, but plate mail and half plate mail do not exist yet. Banded mail, scale mail and splint mail are what is worn primarily by the armies. Structures in Rokushima Taiyoo are elegant and posses a distinct aesthetic style. Wood is used almost exclusively in construction, fitted together without nails using a technique where wood such as cypress or zelkova are carved into joints that match other pieces of wood. Decorative gables, eaves, and screens are commonplace. Many of the exterior walls designed to slide open or close at convenience and are made of thin paper on a wooden frame. In good weather, many houses are open to the outside on one or more side. Most of the roofs are thatched, with some having ceramic tiles. The papered windows and sliding doors allow easy repairs after the violent storms and earthquakes of the domain. The only stone or masonry structures are the four shujins castles and even they are partially composed of wood. The enormous castles have multiple tiers that climb high in the sky.

Magic Level

Rokushima Taiyoo has a magic level of 3. Magic spells are not particularly common or uncommon, and there is no persecution either social or otherwise against magic users. Quite opposite in fact, the magic is mostly believed to come from the kami of nature and is considered benign and useful unless given a reason to think otherwise. There are still much less magic casters in Rokushima Taiyoo than the high fantasy of Oriental Adventures Campaign settings.

Clothing

Women and men alike wear wide-sleeved robes belted at the waist with a sash over a long shirt or shift. Men also don loose trousers or wrapped leggings. Soft slippers or wooden sandals are the customery footwear. Male commoners are fond of wide straw hats to keep off the sun and snow. Black and soft pastels are the favored colors in clothing.

Cities

The people live scattered about the islands, but most of the people dwell in one of the four large cities. They are sprawling places with no organized orientation, some streets are broad and wide and others are narrow. Most homes have a six to eight foot wall around it. The narrow space between the wall and the house are filled with ikebana, bonsai and other potted plants. The homes are modest, most only containing 3-4 rooms with flooring of tatami. The rooms do not serve a single purpose, and oftentimes the same room will be used to entertain guests around a table and at night they will lay out their bedding called futon and sleep there.  Everything is designed to be put away easily if the room needs to be used for something. Markets and bazaars fill up daily with new wares, and the latest catch from Great Mirror Lake. Farmers from the countryside will bring their wares into the city to sell before heading back to his home. All manner of tradesman and businesses exist in the cities, with basketweavers, bowyers, scribes, shipbuilders, weapon smiths, seamstresses, brewers among them. Shrines and public gardens dot the cities in random locations. The one well maintained road will wind through the mountainous landscape from the city to its castle.

Weapons
Martial Weapon Proficiencies
daikyu (longbow)
wakizashi (shortsword)
ninja-to (shortsword)
nodachi (greatsword)
naginata (halberd)
masakari (battle axe)
hankyu (shortbow)
ono (handaxe)

Simple Weapon Proficiencies
tanto (dagger)
yari (spear)
tetsubo (club)
bokken (club)
hanbo (club)
bo (quarterstaff)
rokushakubo (quarterstaff)

Exotic Weapon Proficiencies
nunchaku*
katana
kusarigama (whip) (chain sickle)
shuriken
manriki-gusari (whip) (weighted chain)
kama
sai*
tonfa (sai*)
jitte (sai*)
nagamaki (scythe)

Other culture weapons available as a reference:
jian (longsword)                   (I'Cath)
kau sin ke (whip)                  (I'Cath)
kukri                                   (Sri Raji)
baat jam do (short sword)     (I'Cath)
chakram (throwing axe)        (Sri Raji)
wind fire wheel*                  (I'Cath)
falchion*                            (Pharazia)
tiger fork* (trident)              (I'Cath)
chan (quarterstaff)              (I'Cath)
pudao (halberd)                  (I'Cath)
kwandao (halberd)             (I'Cath)


Yoshi Miyazaki (NPC) in the residential district carries most of these items and base items renamed.

Rokuma Customs and Ideologies

Genkan and the removing of shoes
Rokuma businesses and homes have an entry space called a Genkan. Shoes are to be removed and stored in the genkan and slippers are provided or stored there to wear while walking around indoors. The reason for this custom is to maintain cleanliness. It is considered very rude and taboo to not adhere to this custom.

Respect for elders
Their is a manner of speaking and behavior that Rokuma people use when addressing an older person. It is called keigo and can roughly be translated as 'honorific speech'. It is a form of speaking that lets the elder know that you respect them. It is culturally taboo to use common speaking or to be rude to a person that is older and wiser. Obvious exceptions being when social status dictates otherwise, such as the shujin addressing one of his senior citizens.

Ki
Ki is a concept unique to Rokushima. The Rokuma outlook is that each person and place and thing contains a 'life force' or ' energy flow' called ki.  Ki can be affected negatively or positively through the external environment and internal discipline. Mastering one's own ki so to be able to be in harmony with the world is a constant goal for them. Some few people such as some monks or the most devout swordsmen spend their entire life in pursuit of this perfection.

Sempai and Kōhai
Their is a specific relationship seen throughout all fields and trades in Rokushima where a younger and more inexperienced person (kōhai) learns their way from an older and more experienced mentor(sempai).  Samurai learn Bushido from their master, maiko learn the courtesan-ship from an older geisha, and even farmers will learn their agricultural knowledge from a senior farmer.

Seppuku (Harakiri)
This is a form or ritual suicide by disembowelment. Samurai that have lost their honor and discredited their lord commit this form of suicide by stabbing themself in their abdomen. Seppuku is also practiced by samurai that have lost in battle and are to be taken as prisoners. Any action that is taken in violation of Bushido code regarding fair tactics in warfare, such as espionage or assassination plots warrant seppuku.  Getting caught brings shame, and instead of letting it be known who was responsible, the agent will commit seppuku.

Gempuku
A coming of age tradition. To mark the entry to adult life of between the ages of 11 and 17 (typically of about age 12) are taken to the shrines of their patron kami. There they are presented with their first adult clothes, and their hairstyle is changed to the adult style. Following completion of this rite of passage the child is considered an adult and responsible for their own way and actions.

Philosophies

Ninjutsu
Ninjutsu values accomplishing a mission by whatever means necessary. Sneak attacks, poison, seduction and spying are all shameful to the samurai, but fair play by the rules of the ninja. With their primary end goals being sabotage, espionage and assassinations, the primary skill that is honed to perfection is stealth. It is not a rigid and definitively defined craft, and the emphasis is on espionage and survival skills. The tricks of the trade are passed down within small groups, and the elders teach the younger members once they are too old to actually do missions anymore. Amongst the skills that are taught are the use of poison, several martial art disciplines including unarmed fighting, and the layout of the castles and where the blind spots or easiest paths into or out of a village or castle compound are.

Shugendo
Shugendo eschews the trappings of civilization and strives for being one with nature. The main goal is achieving a "oneness" with the natural world. It is not unusual for the practitioners of this way of life to sit for hours on a mountain side in mediation and prayer. They are known to self-actualize their spiritual power in experiential form through challenging and rigorous ritualistic tests of courage and devotion known as shugyō. Pilgrimages involving mountain treks are embarked upon, and with each such experience completed the monk gains higher status within his sect. They are highly secretive about their ways, due to centuries of drawing unwanted attention for normal people, who view them suspiciously and create rumours about what devious things are done by them up in the mountains.

Bushido
Bushido or 'The Way of the Warrior' is a strict code of conduct that all warriors strive to uphold. Its major tenets are the mastery of the sword and the art of warfare, and loyalty to the lord. Bushido dictates that war must be fought with honorable and fair tactics. Stealth, chicanery, cheating or any unfair advantage are not tolerated or practiced. There are seven major virtues of the code: Rectitude, Courage, Benevolence, Respect. Honesty, Honor and Loyalty. To fail in following Bushido code is a major social taboo and met with great personal shame and embarrassment.

Actions considered honorable:
-Avenging the death of a family member
-Defeating an ancestral enemy
-Saving another persons life
-Leading a victorious force in battle
-Completing a great quest
-Dying a heroic death

Actions considered dishonorable:
-Being accused or convicted of a crime
-Being taken prisoner
-Breaking an oath
-Losing a birthright, including an ancestral weapon
-Losing a contest of duel, especially to an inferior opponent
-Behave rashly or improperly
-Refusing a contest of duel
-Committing treason
-Entering into debt
-Fleeing a fight
-Leading a losing force in battle
-Using a ninja or peasant weapon
-Disobeying one's Lord

Kiri Sute Gomen (Authorization to Cut and Leave)
Samurai have the right to strike with sword at anyone of a lower class who is compromising their honour. This applies to higher ranked samurai striking lower ranked samurai. Because the right is defined as a part of self defense, the strike has to follow immediately after the offense, meaning that the striker can not attack someone for a past grievance. Also, due to the right being self defense, it is not permissible to deliver further coup de grâce. Moreover, the samurai who exercises the right has to prove the correctness of his action by producing witness. Punishment for the incorrect exercise of this right is severe. An offender can be beheaded without being allowed to commit seppuku and have his house abolished, meaning that one of his sons can not succeed the title. Because of this stipulation, many samurai will commit seppuku before being handed the sentence so that their son does not lose the inheritance. A samurai visiting a different island has to be extremely careful, wrongful executions of commoners from different islands are seen as an offense against that shujin and rile the ongoing war conflict further. It is thus advisable for samurai visiting different a different island to be accompanied by his servant, so as to provide witness. 'Kiri sute gomen' is one of the ways that the prideful samurai of the shujin keep from civil uprisings, through the use of terror against any who speak out against their actions, and they are pre-authorized to do it and free of reprisal.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2011, 08:50:48 PM by Emomina »

Emomina

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Re: Rokushima Taiyoo - RP Guide and Resource
« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2011, 05:30:55 AM »
The Rokuma People

Rokuma people, or Rokuma-jin in their language are generally simple. They live on seafood and on the crops grown in their terrace farms that cover their mountainous islands. They are slight in stature, but blessed with trim builds and physical grace. Their skin tone varies from creamy white to ruddy brown, usually with a sallow tinge. Eye color tends to be dark, ranging from hazel to midnight black. They have jet black hair which is straight and sleek and is worn long in both sexes, though some commoner men prefer a shorter style. Men are usually clean shaven, regarding facial hair as barbaric. Overall, the Rokuma people are predominately Lawful or Neutral leaning toward Lawful, though all alignments exist. They are a reserved and enigmatic folk, ascribing great value to social decorum, and aesthetics. They prize beauty and harmony, whether in the natural world or in their relationships. They are reverent toward the kami, the spirits that are believed to dwell in all things. The elderly are given great respect, and proper etiquette is imperative even amongst the poorest commoners. They have a deep respect for the warrior's skill with sword and bow. They see beauty in all of life's pursuits and feel secure in their place in the natural order. There is a bit of a pronounced difference between the sexes in what they can achieve socially or professionally, though ostensibly any woman can achieve any role as a male with some specific exceptions. They do not view this division of the sexes to be a bad thing, it is all their culture has ever known. For most people life is hard, and made harder by the on again off again conflict of the Shujin's war. They try to carry on with their lives, hoping that adherence to tradition will carry them through the dark times.

Population: 19,300 99% human 1% other

Largest villages: Chuugoka -3,100,  Roshiya -2,500  Eikoku - 2,300 Beikoku -1,800

Factions, Groups and Occupations

The Feudal Armies
Each of the shujin maintain a private army that is little more than a cadre of thugs and mercenaries. The commonfolk suffer under the abuses of these villains, but are powerless to do anything about it. The army is organized with one or more land owning daimyo commanding on behalf of the shujin, with the noble classed Samurai being in charge of the common men ( and possibly women pretending to be men) called 'ashigaru'. Ashigaru are not issued full armor or have nearly as much training in martial arts as the samurai. Ashigaru are conscripts and mercenaries, conducting the war is a means to an end.  Ashigaru, which comprise the bulk of the armies, normally join the army for no other reason than it is the best available job. They get their name 'ashigaru' because they wear no armor below the waist and can run faster as result. They utilize poorer quality weaponry than the Samurai. Amongst the ranks of these armies, assassination and betrayal are common.

Ninja Clans
The vast forests of the islands are home to clans of Ninja. The way of a ninja is a closely guarded secret and only taught amongst closed circles. Ninja are spies and assassins that conduct their dirty work using subterfuge and stealth. Living away from the villages gives them the anonymity that allows them to do their work. Their identities are not freely given or known, except from ninja in the same clan. They live in small clans that perform work for other groups on a mercenary basis. They do live by an honor code themselves and if ever they fail in a mission they will commit seppuku rather than allow their failure to reveal who hired them or who else is in their clan.  Ninja are not necessarily evil, though most are, and they are usually lawfully aligned. Another name for ninja is shinobi.

Yakuza (Gokudō)
Lawless men and women without feudal ties. They engage in any number of criminal activities and conduct themselves in a twisted code of honor that only them consider to be honorable. They are organized in much the same manner as the normal Rokuma culture with elders taking most prominent roles, however they represent very much a counter culture element of the domain. They engage in banditry, gambling rings, fencing of stolen goods, prostitution and murder for hire. The Shujin pay them to conduct their dirty business against their brothers, though they would never admit to it. This is very much an evil aligned group.

Courtesans
The upper classes keep courtesans around to entertain them. The courtesans are nearly all female and are primarily composed of geisha and their apprentices, maiko. These women represent the epitome of feminine beauty amongst the Rokuma. They wear elaborate garments that are much more colourful than standard dress and they have full facial make-up. The apprentices can be identified by their slightly different cosmetic make-up and dress from the full geisha, they are also very young women usually no older than around 20 years of age. Maiko learn their trade under the tutelage of the more experienced geisha, and usually perform the more menials tasks like serving the food and drinks during an entertainment session.  Geisha are skilled and learned in all the arts of Rokushima, and are their primary performers of music and dance. They can dance, recite poetry, play instruments. The most skilled and sought after geisha are amongst the most wealthy and powerful women in the domain. Some even form a guild-like groupings, that command high prices. All courtesans are unmarried women, any courtesan that marries must retire from the geisha lifestyle. They are the entertainers to some of the most socially important people and therefore have access to their secrets. This access makes them ideal spies, though doing so is a very dangerous lifestyle that can end in shame and death.

Yamabushi
These monks are ascetics, meaning they eschew worldly pleasure in pursuit of a attaining a higher and more perfect spiritual existence. They live life by shugendō, the focus of this lifestyle is achieve enlightenment and oneness with the kami. They can be hermits or form loose confederations, and rarely also are attached to remote shrines in the wilderness. They dwell high in the mountains and far from the villages. They are considered eccentric by normal Rokuma people and are rumored to have occult and magical powers. Yamabushi are sometimes driven to arms, though the cause must be one they feel strongly about.

Character Classes
Some characters classes are more suited for Rokuma characters than others, and some archetypes and examples of each are listed below

Barbarian- nearly unheard of, though conceivably there could be hermits living in the mountains away from the villages.
Bard- not very common, though the courtesans are almost certainly bards or multiclassed bards. miko priests could also include some bard levels to increase their storytelling and chronicling abilities.
Cleric- priests at shrines and that have dedicated themself to service of one particular kami would be clerics, though with much less emphasis on being a combatant as some other religions.
Druid- priests dedicated to all kami instead of one particular one could be druids,  traveling priests and those unattached to a particular shrine would fit well as a druid. Shugenja archetypes also would make sense to be druids or multiclassed druids.
Fighter- very common. any of the men involved in the war as bushi or samurai would be either entirely or mostly comprised of fighter.
Monk- very common. There are orders of monks that include certain types of monks, such as the Order of the Holy Virgin that dedicates itself to fighting oni. Most shrines also would include monks as guardians. Sohei and Yamabushi archetypes are also monks or multiclassed monks.
Paladin- nearly unheard and maybe do not exist. though there are several kami whose alignment would allow paladins.
Ranger- ninja clans would conceivably have rangers. Rangers also, could be guardians of certain parts of the forested mountainsides.
Rogue- very common. yakuza bandits and highwaymen, ninja, courtesans, and any lore keeper types would either be rogue or multiclassed rogues
Sorcerer- not common, though along with druid is a good choice for the Shugenja archetype
Wizard - not common, though not unheard of. magic that does not come from nature is regarded less highly than natural magic.

Character Archetypes

Sōhei
Description: (religious) Warrior monks
Base Class(es): monk
Philosophy: shinto (way of the kami)
Gender: either
Alignments: Lawful only
Roleplay: believe fully in the kami and will encourage those that they meet to strive for purity by following the four tenets (See religion section)
Recommended weapons: unarmed, naginata (halberd), longbow, shortbow, tanto (dagger), wakizashi (short sword)
Recommended feats: martial weapon proficiency, weapon focus, toughness
Recommended  skills: discipline, parry
Logical prestige class(es): Divine champion

Shugenja
Description: Spellcasting specialist, elementalist
Base class(es): Sorceror, Druid
Philosophy: focuses on one of the four classic elements to employ (air, earth, water, fire)
Gender: either
Alignments: any, though usually some form of neutral
Roleplay: can either be played as a full elementalist (sorceror build) or as a divine nature lover believing in kami (druid build)
Recommended weapons: any
Recommended feats: Spell Focus (evocation)
Recommended skills: spellcraft
Logical prestige class(es): none
There are really two different ways you can try to play this character. They are traditionally a divine spellcaster, but a spontaneous spellcaster like a sorceror. The best compromise may be doing a multiclass of the two, with the sorceror being the prominent class.

Samurai
Description: Noble that pledges his services to his lord, and hones his swordsmanship fully while adhering to a rigid code of ethics
Base class(es): Fighter
Philosophy: bushido (way of the warrior)
Gender: Male
Alignments: Lawful only
Roleplay: Really emphasis the character's lawful adherence to bushido, seek out a lord to pledge service to if possible
Recommended weapons: katana, wakizashi(short sword) naginata (halberd), yari (spear), longbow, shortbow
Recommended feats: Weapon Focus, Weapon Specialization, Expertise
Recommended skills: Discipline, Antagonize
Logical prestige class(es): Weapon Master

Ninja (Shinobi)
Description: Covert agent and mercenary specialized in unorthodox arts of war
Base class(es): Rogue, Monk, Ranger
Philosophy: ninjutsu (way of the ninja)
Gender: either
Alignments: usually Lawful and usually Evil, though any alignment can be ninja
Roleplay: Secretive about your profession, people are only told on a need-to-know basis and only if its potentially beneficial or profitable
Recommended weapons: ninja-to (shortsword), tanto (dagger), kama, shuriken, shortbow, sai*, nunchaku*
Recommended feats: Stealthy, Skill Focus (Hide and Move Silently), Blind Fight, Exotic Weapon Proficiency, Lightning Reflexes, Dodge/Mobility/Spring Attack
Recommended skills: hide, move silently, tumble
Logical prestige class(es): assassin, shadowdancer

Kunoichi
Description: Type of female ninja, covertly posing as traditional female roles to have access to targets and spy or kill them easier
Base class(es): Bard, Rogue (charisma is an important ability for this character either way)
Philosophy:  ninjutsu (way of the ninja)
Gender: Female
Alignments: any, usually evil
Roleplay: Should be openly something wholly not apparent as a spy or assassin. Being a courtesan or performer is most common cover.
Recommended weapons: ninja-to (shortsword), tanto (dagger), shuriken, sai*, unarmed (weapons are chosen for their conceal-ability)
Recommended feats:  Exotic Weapon Proficiency
Recommended skills: Influence, Antagonize, Listen, Perform (for bard based kunoichi)
Logical prestige class(es): assassin
females can be normal ninja too, this is a special archetype of female ninja

Miko
Description: Primary hostess of a shrine, a young female faith healer and educator about kami.
Base class(es): Cleric with good charisma.  Bard is a possible secondary class
Philosophy: shinto (way of the kami)
Gender:  Female
Alignments: any non-evil (always one step away form the patron kami's alignment)
Roleplay: Charismatic and compassionate educator of her religion, attending to all manner of ills and will take the opportunity to spread her faith. Storyteller and Dancer.
Recommended weapons: bō (quarterstaff), tetsubō (club), unarmed      (in general mostly blunt weapons)
Recommended feats: Soothing Presence, Strong Soul, Courteous Magocracy
Recommended skills:  heal, influence, lore, perform(for multiclass bards)
Logical prestige class(es): none

Yakuza
Description: Social outcast and criminal. Member of small bands of mercenaries and highwaymen and women that have no place in normal society.
Base class(es): Fighter, Rogue  also could possibly be Ranger, Bard, Wizard, Sorcerer, Monk
Philosophy: They have none, at least none they are not willing to break if its convenient
Gender:  either
Alignments: any non-good
Roleplay:  Standard criminal organization roleplay, though having a "code of honor" is not uncommon, and is only followed when convenient. Extortion and Fencing stolen goods is primary enterprises.
Recommended weapons:  any
Recommended feats: Any,   Thug, Dirty Fighting, Bullheaded recommend for flavor
Recommended skills:  Antagonize, Open Lock
Logical prestige class(es):  assassin

Yamabushi
Description:  Ascetic monks that live in the wilderness, and have no desire for worldly pleasure as they achieve spiritual perfection
Base class(es): Monk
Philosophy: shugendo (the path of enlightenment)
Gender:  either
Alignments: Lawful only
Roleplay:  Money and belongings do not matter to you and are not pursued, mastering your own ki is the primary goal.
Recommended weapons: unarmed, bo (quarterstaff), tetsubo (club), kama, ono (handaxe)
Recommended feats:  Strong Soul, Resist Energy
Recommended skills: Discipline, Lore
Logical prestige class(es): weapon master,  if using weapon other than unarmed

Geisha or Maiko (Courtesans)
Description:  Court entertainer and professional hostess
Base class(es):  Bard, Rogue
Philosophy:  none,  art above all else
Gender:  female
Alignments:  any
Roleplay:  Her reputation as an artist and hostess is the most important, because the better the reputation the higher money and prestige that can be commanded and the more famous and important clientele attracted
Recommended weapons:  any small weapon
Recommended feats:  Artist, Extra Music, Soothing Presence, Skill focus (Influence or Perform)
Recommended skills:  Perform, Influence
Logical prestige class(es): Shadowdancer

Kensei
Description: A sword-saint. A warrior who dedicates his very being to sword training. rigorous and lifelong dedication to the art of swordsman ship hoping to one day be a swordsman of note in history.
Base class(es): Fighter
Philosophy: no philosophy overtakes the dedication to sword fighting
Gender: either
Alignments: any
Roleplay: Total weapon master roleplay, other characters will think your Kensei takes sword fighting and ki mastery way way too seriously.
Recommended weapons: katana, wakizashi(short sword)
Recommended feats: Weapon Focus (Katana or Wakizashi (shortsword), Weapon Specialization
Recommended skills: Discipline, Parry
Logical prestige class(es): Weapon Master (practically a must for this character concept)
« Last Edit: July 07, 2011, 02:58:49 AM by Emomina »

Emomina

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Re: Rokushima Taiyoo - RP Guide and Resource
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2011, 06:25:29 AM »
Arts

Tea Ceremony

A formal occasion in which one person who is trained in Cha-do or 'the way of tea' serves as host to random group of people. The actual ceremony and arrangement of the guest and the tea are dictated by the host in accordance with a set of complex tea ceremony customs.  The guests sit around a low lying table on zabuton or 'seat cushions' on the floor and are served tea and light meal such as rice cakes. The guests are all given random informal names and eat the meal and discuss any topic from an equal and neutral point of view free from social constraints. It is a way for the social classes to intermingle freely. The actual venue can vary, and almost any location can suit a tea ceremony. The ceremony can take place in a person's house, in a private or public garden or on the grounds of a shrine (with permission of the clergy) or on the court grounds the imperial castles of the shujin princes themselves.

Shodo (Calligraphy)

Since the Rokuma language's writing system is so complex and is composed of so many characters, the writing system itself can be perfected in an art form. The most skilled hands can form the characters with a sense of beauty in the brush strokes. The Rokuma language is always done with a brush, there is no idea as a quill or pen. Since the work itself deals with inks and can get messy, the finest clothing is not worn as to not get stained. The greatest practitioners of shodo are commissioned to copy grand tales and poetry or edicts sent down from the nobles.

Horticultural Artforms
In striving for being one with nature, and enjoying the natural world, several artforms exist in Rokushima that deal specifically with plants and gardening.

Gardens

Private gardens of all shapes and sizes exist throughout Rokushima. Predominately mostly composed of shrubs, trees, and flowers in a pleasing and calming arrangement. Some are mostly rock gardens, composed of rocks of all sizes and carefully (daily) manicured earth. There is no unifying aesthetic but the garden is always created with the purpose of, and strives to to create a secluded and serene place and to make good use of the natural terrain where it is located. The garden makes use of arrangements of plants, ponds, lighting, trees and rocks that are both natural or man-made to seem natural. They usually include the following components.
    Water, real or symbolic.
    A bridge over the water, or stepping stones.
    Rocks or stone arrangements (or settings).
    A lantern, typically of stone.
    A teahouse or pavilion.
    An enclosure device such as a hedge, fence, or wall of traditional character.
The greatest of gardeners are revered for their ability to mold the land into such beauty and to express nature's beauty. Most people of high standing such as the shujin, daimyos, some highest class samurai, and the shrines of kami usually have or have had at least one such garden. The current state of war makes such things a secondary concern and some gardens have fallen into disrepair, the gardener long since relieved of his duty. The size and opulence of the garden reflects the wealth of the one that owns it. Only the gardens at shrines are open to the public and usually the only price is an offering made to the church.

Ikebana
Ibebana is the art of flower arrangement. The flowers are usually arranged in ceramic pots and can be displayed either outdoors or indoors. Much like the art of gardens, the aesthetic and methods differ from one person to the next. It is a cheaper form of revering nature that does not require owning land.

Bonsai
Bonsai is an artform of dwarfing plants, particularly trees, by growing them in containers.  The bonsai craft strives to make nature portable, maintaining the same natural beauty but in a smaller and easily moved pot.

Performing Arts

Music

Rokuma music comes in two varieties, both are usually accompanied by a dance arrangement but are usually not accompanied by vocals:

Gagaku
One is the music used to entertain the courts of nobles and is called 'Gagaku'. The principle performers of this music are courtesans such as geisha. The music and dance are soothing and not jarring, and are mostly wind and string instruments without percussion or at most a small light drum. The performers hold either an umbrella or a fan in each hand and perform in unison. Courtesans will serve and wait upon guests eating around a table, and play music in the background while the meal is eaten.

Kagura
The other is called 'Kagura' and is a religious dance performed by members of a clergy or performers sponsored by a shrine. It is music and dance designed to please the kami and invite them to come visit the assembled crowd. Sometimes there are chants made during the music but no actual singing. Kagura are sometimes also put on to relate a story or myth about a particular kami. Sometimes, the dancers wear masks of kami and reenact legends explaining natural phenomena in the world.

Instruments

Shakuhachi - a flute made of bamboo
Taiko- a small drum played by hand
Hichiriki - a double reed flute
Biwa - a short necked fretted lute
Kugo - a harp with two rows of strings
Shamisen - a three stringed long necked lute
Koto - an stringed instrument made of carved wood that is lied flat on the ground to play (pictured below)


Noh

The Rokuma have a performing art akin to playacting. It is called 'noh' and it is a musical drama. Traditional folklore stories or ghost stories are the usual topic of these dramas. They are performed on open aired stages, and admission is required to sit close so many who can not afford it watch from behind the paying crowd. The performers wear costumes of much color and usually depicting a theme, such that if one actor is supposed to be a reptile his costume will have patterns of scales in the fabric. Strict tradition dictates that the actors must only rehearse a play one time only, and then the performance is done and allows for improvisation to finish the play. Nearly all of the actors are male, even playing the female roles.

Entertainment

Onsen
Because the domain is geologically active, there are several natural hot springs called onsen that dot the countryside. Hospices and hotels have been built around these hot springs and attract visitors who come to bathe in the hot water and it is believed that the water is pure and can cure all manner of ills. Because of the state of war, the trips to onsen has decreased, and only the wealthiest of nobility can still afford the luxury.

Festivals

Fireworks’ New Year Feast: January 1. The inhabitants of this domain believe that explosives and fireworks cast away evil spirits, especially on New Year’s Eve. On the day that opens the new year, in this domain smokepowder is as precious as gold, since virtually every individual, even infants and the elderly, welcome the New Year in such a fashion. From midnight on New Year’s Eve to the next one, the sound of exploding fireworks fills the air, and the entire domain seems to shiver. Wandering companies of smokepowder experts take care of organizing fireworks spectacles. The Faira no Shoukans (or “summoners of flames”) have for generations provided the best fireworks in all of Rokushima Táiyoo. Their skills have been demonstrated by producing anything from a bright cascade in the void, to a terrifying, fiery dragon. During other times of the year, the Faira no Shoukans have been known to appear in other domains.

Obon
Obon occurs in the late summer, around the 8th month. It is a festival of the dead, a time that ancestors are thought to visit upon their still living relatives. Extended families get together in one place, and in this way this festival is a time of family reunions as well.  Paper lanterns are lit, and floated down rivers to signify the journey a spirit makes. Music and dance are performed to crowds to invite the ancestors to visit upon their relatives.

Hanami
Hanami occurs in mid spring, around the 4th month. It is a festival of flowers, it occurs when the islands are blanketed by flowering trees.  Its a time to revere nature and the nature spirits. Groups enjoy outdoor entertainment near groves of flowering trees, particularly cherry and plum trees.

Setsubun
Setsubun occurs in late winter, around the 2nd month. It is a festival of warding off oni. People wear masks that make them appear like oni, and roasted soy beans are thrown at them. It is a mostly symbolic gesture, as the roasted beans called "fortune beans" are considered good luck. Its place in the calendar represents a ritual to cleanse away the evil of the previous year.

Cuisine
Meals are served in a set of dishes, the various components of a meal are each given their own plate. Sometimes, the pieces that make up the meal are centered on the table and all people will make their own food on their plate by taking what they need form the centre of the table. They do not use utensils like forks or spoons but instead use two straight utensils called hashi (chop sticks)

The staple foods are rice or noodles, and nearly every meal includes one or the other. The rice is prepared by steaming and is sticky and clumps together. The noodles come in a few varieties, and is usually served in a vegetable broth. Soy beans are grown and eaten whole and fresh called edamame, coagulated milk from soy beans is served in small blocks called tofu. Fish is the primary meat of the diet, and is usually eaten prepared but uncooked, and is called sashimi. When combined with rice and vegetable and rolled in seaweed (nori) its a dish called sushi. Fish can also be eaten grilled, and the primary types of fish eaten in the diet are tuna, mackerel, sardines, herring and salmon. Other seafoods eaten are shrimp (ebi), octopus (tako) crab (kani), squid (ika)and fish eggs (ikura). Chickens are the secondary meat source, and their eggs are used frequently in cooking as well, even oftentimes being raw, broken over a freshly cooked entree. Vegetables also make up a sizable part of the diet, including cucumber, spinach, eggplant, cabbage, chives, onions, squash and a large mountain radish called daikon. Fruits such as plum (ume) cherry (sakura) and an orange citrus fruit called 'mikan' are also part of the diet. The main sauces used are soy sauce, and a paste made from radish called wasabi. The primary beverage is tea (cha), served hot, and sometimes flavored with other plants. A alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice called sake is a very common drink. It is a somewhat tasteless and odorless beverage that is normally drunk warm or mixed with heated water. Fermented plum wine called 'ume-shu' is also drank, though not common and only when in season.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2011, 06:16:43 AM by Emomina »

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Re: Rokushima Taiyoo - RP Guide and Resource
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2011, 07:25:36 AM »
Flora

Trees
The islands are blanketed in thick and moist forests. The majority of the trees are evergreens like cedars and spruces.
The springtime in Rokushima is the time of flower blossoms, nearly all the non evergreen trees in the domain are a flowering tree and many of them are fruit bearing.
Some notable trees:

- Momiji (maple)    this tree turns a very bright red in the autumn time of year
- Ume (plum)       white flowers, bears the plum/apricot type fruit called ume
- Sakura (cherry)   a very common flowering tree that has light pinks and pale white blossoms. the cherry flower appears on the copper coin.
- Raichi (lychee)    small white flowers
- Azaleas             these trees are flowering trees, usually dark pink
- Satsuma           these trees have white blossoms and bear orange citrus fruits called mikan

Other Notable Plants
- Chrysanthemum (mums)     large circular shaped flowers that are minted on the Rokuma's gold coins. sometimes added to tea to give it a certain flavour.
- Water Lily    (lotus)           flowers that are aquatic (grow in and around water). sometimes used in medicine as a anesthetic. minted on the silver coins.
- Soybeans                       a bean stalk type plant used to make tofu
- Daikon                           a large white radish that grows at high elevations
- Mulberry                         a fruit bearing bush used in dyes, medicine and seasoning
- Tea                               the leaves are boiled in hot water to produce the drink tea

Fauna

Due to the mountainous nature of the islands, large animals are scarce. Wolves and foxes are the largest of the predators likely to be encountered.  In the dense forests near the snow line in high elevations are small primates the Rokuma call saru. Most of the other fauna are small sized, such as racoon-dogs (tanuki), badgers, moles, shrew, rabbits, squirrels, mice, weasels, otters, and chipmunks. There are several species of birds in the domain, ranging from beautiful white cranes to the swooping seahawks (umitaka). Amongst other birds are ducks, geese, ibis, woodpeckers, quails, herons, pigeons, hawks, robins, eagles, swans, kingfishers, swallows, and doves.  Most of the birds are fish catchers and stay near the water. Lizards and turtles are common, though snakes are hardly seen but are known to exist. Crabs and sea lions come onto land to mate in remote regions. The lake its self is teeming with more types of fish than can be counted, and also has octupus, squid and shrimp. The Poison Sea is filled with unspeakable horrors and sea monsters.

Folklore

Oni (Outsiders)

Oni are evil outsiders akin to devils and demons. Depictions of oni vary widely but usually portray them as hideous, gigantic creatures with sharp claws, wild hair, and two long horns growing from their heads. They are analogous to known extra-planar entities from other cultures such as demons and devils. There are many types of oni, just as there are several types of demons and devils. They are typically depicted as large and muscular with reddish skin and horns and sometimes shown carrying weapons such as tetsubo (club). They range from moderately dimwitted but strong to demonically evil and cunning. They are blood thirsty and cruel and delight in the suffering of mortals. The setsubun festival is about them and warding against their evil.
Oni are usually Neutral Evil, splitting the difference in outlook between demons and devils. The planes that they dwell on are inaccessible from Ravenloft so once they arrive in the Demiplane they are trapped like all other creatures.

Bakemono (Shapeshifters)

Bakemono are creatures that shape-shift into bipedal humanoid form. They're effect on people ranges from mischievous but benign to horrific and macabre. They are believed to have paranormal and supernatural abilities in all cases.
-Kitsune  - fox       seen mostly as benign tricksters, and are considered messengers for the kami Inari
-Bakeneko - cat    feared, these monsters invade houses in the middle of the night and can induce dreams and nightmares of those sleeping
-Tanuki  - racoon-dog   feared, believed to do such things as beat old women and cook them

Yūrei (Ghosts)
Rokushima Taiyoo, like many places in Ravenloft, has its own tradition of ghost sightings and ghost stories. There are some slight differences and specifics that are detailed below, along with some specific types.

The Rokuma believe all humans have a spirit or soul called a reikon. When a person dies, the reikon leaves the body and enters a form of purgatory, where it waits for the proper funeral and post-funeral rites to be performed by kami priests, so that it may join its ancestors. If this is done correctly, the reikon is believed to be a protector of the living family and to return yearly in late summer during Obon (Festival of the Dead) to receive thanks. However, if the person dies in a sudden or violent manner such as murder or suicide, if the proper rites have not been performed, or if they are influenced by powerful emotions such as a desire for revenge, love, jealousy, hatred or sorrow, the reikon is thought to transform into a yūrei, which can then bridge the gap back to the physical world. If the purpose of its transformation into yūrei is not resolved, then its haunting will persist.

Some common characteristic features of traditional yūrei:
- Dressed in white.  white is the colour that people are buried in since its considered the colour of purity.
- Long and disheveled hair. hair is nearly never worn down, especially amongst women, but when the burial rites are performed the deceased has their hair down.
- Hands dangle lifelessly from the wrists and are held outstretched with the elbows near the body.
- No feet. the apparition's clothing is usually long and whispy and there are no feet below it
- Hitodama.  the spirit is accompanied by a pair of floating lights akin to to will-o-wisps. These are not seperate creatures or spirits but just a part of the yūrei itself.

Onryō
Onryō are vengeful spirits of people that were wronged in life. They are often former servants or mistreated wives and in death they have the power they never had in life. They are the most feared ghosts in Rokushima as they display a violent temper toward the living and have horrific appearances. They are driven by their desire for vengeance but they do not always follow the ideal of justified revenge, a formerly abused wife will not necessarily take direct revenge on her husband for example. The powerful emotions of love, jealousy, hatred or sorrow are said to be able to bridge the gap back to the land of the living and produce onryō.
Ubume
These types of yūrei are usually mothers that died in childbirth or was pregnant at the time of her death. They manifest as a ghostly apparition holding a bundled small child. Unlike most types of ghosts, a ubume are often known to speak, its usually to ask for help in taking care of the baby. Some examples are for food for the baby, or for help getting the baby across a river. If a mortal agrees to help, they will find that the bundle is heavier than it should be and gets increasingly heavier the longer you hold it. Opening up the bundle shows it to be only dead withered leaves that blow away.
Zashiki-warashi
These ghosts are considered to be the ghosts of children, some even believe them to be kami. It is said that if you have zashiki-warashi in your home, then fortune will favor you. However, the apparitions are bothersome, and make noises and even break items in the home. They will leave if the owner of the home ever shows anger about their presence. The stories of these ghosts always mention that the fortunes of the family always go very bad following the exorcism.
Akikage
This yūrei is the spirit of an assassin that failed in his mission. The apparition haunts the location of his failure and is still obsessed with completing its mission.
Funayūrei (Sea Ghosts)
These ghosts are the spirits of people that died at sea. Sightings often speak of them approaching sea travelers at night and complaining about their boat leaking. They ask for something to help scoop water out. If they are given something, they will scoop water into their boat until it sinks.

Magical Beasts
Kirin
Seeing this chimerical creature is seen as a symbol of good fortune. They are very rarely seen but are still depicted in art. They appear a very large hoofed animal about the size of a large elk with antlers and their skin is scaled like a reptile. They glow with a radiance that pulsates like a fire.
Ryū (Dragons)
The dragons depicted in Rokuma artwork are dissimilar to dragons of other known cultures. They are long and serpentine and lack wings, they are still shown to be able to fly. Another important difference is that they are seen as creatures of good, and represent the primordial forces of nature free of motive.

Monsters
Rokurokubi
A hideous monster that appears to be a normal woman during the day, but at night her true nature is revealed. Her neck uncoils and stretched to great lengths. Her features become hideous and demonic and she preys upon sleeping men.
Yama-uba
Similar to a hag, this creature is a crone. She dwells high in the mountains and preys upon lone travelers. Yama-uba looks like an old woman, usually a hideous one. Her unkempt hair is long and golden white, and her kimono (usually red) is filthy and tattered. Her mouth is sometimes said to stretch the entire width of her face. However, she is able to change her appearance, though, and she uses this tactic to great success in capturing her victims. A yama-uba is skilled in the arts of sorcery, potions and poisons. She sometimes trades this knowledge to human beings if they bring her a substitute victim to eat or satisfy some similarly wicked bargain
Hebi-na-onna
This monstrous woman has snakes for hands. She uses her enchanting magic to control snakes. They aim to control people and use them to form snake cults. Much like vampires they known to have a hypnotic and controlling gaze.

Fey
Kodama
These fey are much like dryads, they are attached to trees. They inhabit very old and very large trees in the forest.  It is believed that if you cut down one of their trees you will bring a curse to your whole village. Trees known to or believed to be inhabited by kodama have a large rope sash tied around them to prevent them from being forested.
Yuki-onna
This fickle fey type is encountered in the snowy mountain tops. Yuki-onna appears on snowy nights as a tall, beautiful woman with long black hair and red lips. Her inhumanly pale or even transparent skin makes her blend into the snowy landscape. Some legends say the Yuki-onna, being associated with winter and snowstorms, is the spirit of someone who perished in the snow. She is at the same time beautiful and serene, yet ruthless in killing unsuspecting mortals. She is almost uniformly portrayed as evil, using her ability to help wayward travelers to lure people into her clutches to freeze them and make them permanent residents of the mountainside.  Shimo Yama is rife with stories about these icy spirits.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2011, 05:00:19 AM by Emomina »

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Re: Rokushima Taiyoo - RP Guide and Resource
« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2011, 04:54:20 AM »
Sources:
Ravenloft Campaign Setting 3rd Edition
Ravenloft Player's Handbook 3rd Edition
Ravenloft Dungeon Master's Guide 3rd Edition
Ravenloft Denizens of Dread 3rd Edition
Ravenloft Campaign Setting 2nd Edition (Red Box)
Deities & Demigods 1st edition
Oriental Adventures 1st Edition
Oriental Adventures 3rd Edition
Legends & Lore 2nd Edition
Dragon Magazine #13, "The Japanese Mythos"
Secrets of the Kargatane's "The Book of Secrets" netbook

This resource is considered complete by me, hope you guys find it useful. PM me if you feel something was left out.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2011, 05:10:34 AM by Emomina »

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Re: Rokushima Taiyoo - RP Guide and Resource
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2011, 02:16:07 AM »


This is the cosmology that the Rokuma believe, and it may have been so in the time before Rokushima Taiyoo was taken into the demiplane. None of these celestial planes are accessible any longer if they ever were and likely perhaps neither do the kami themselves exist. The Dark Powers acting now as their surrogates. 


The Kami exist in the D&D multiverse and can be found on the various Outer Planes (Izanagi and Izanumi dwell on Arcadia, for example). The Dark Powers do not automatically act as surrogates for existing deities. They only do so in special circumstances, usually involving someone who has attracted their attention and is on the path to becoming a Darklord (such as Elena Faith-Hold and her worship of Belenus), or if the deity never existed at all (the Overseer, Zhakata).

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Re: Rokushima Taiyoo - RP Guide and Resource
« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2012, 05:59:58 AM »
I would actually love to learn and hear a bit more about the amazingly beautiful gardens of Rokushima. I love everything related to nature and its energy and the freedom to let it float freely for I think that this is one of the most interesting attributes of the Chinese culture - focusing on our nature habitat and being aware of the energies that float in our environment constantly. I am especially interested in sending flowers and trees energy to our souls for drawing from their level of creative energy. I have heard a lot about rare flowers growing in these gardens but I was never able to find out more about that so it appears to be some kind of rumour to me though I would still love to learn a bit about these gardens.

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« Last Edit: March 19, 2012, 12:12:45 PM by DM Panic »

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Re: Rokushima Taiyoo - RP Guide and Resource
« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2012, 12:49:33 PM »
Rokushima Taiyoo is mostly based (but not necessarily entirely based) on Japan. And why is the word "sending flowers" a link to a florist's website? We don't allow advertising here.

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Re: Rokushima Taiyoo - RP Guide and Resource
« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2016, 01:51:48 PM »
Bumping this, because I will it!
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Re: Rokushima Taiyoo - RP Guide and Resource
« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2016, 08:53:33 PM »
I second this bump :)

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Re: Rokushima Taiyoo - RP Guide and Resource
« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2016, 04:49:01 AM »
One of the interesting thing for my Japanese/okushima Taiyoo characters in linking back to this very strong culture. That it has a massive number of real world parallels makes it good to research etc

And Otake, Wulfgang Eberhardt, Aesin, Humiko, Bonereaver, Anthrania + whatever concept I am playing with...

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Re: Rokushima Taiyoo - RP Guide and Resource
« Reply #13 on: August 17, 2016, 08:34:48 AM »
I never actually knew this existed on here hehe It is a good thing to fall back to for my character from Japan.

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Re: Rokushima Taiyoo - RP Guide and Resource
« Reply #14 on: August 17, 2016, 09:41:55 AM »
I found this thread doing research for a character I was tossing around ideas for. I thought that the information was so in depth that bumping it would give some good reads. I have been wondering about the culture for a while, I'm glad this thread is here.
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Re: Rokushima Taiyoo - RP Guide and Resource
« Reply #15 on: August 17, 2016, 10:00:14 AM »
I almost forgot about this thread. I will update the missing links as soon as I can, and fix my buggy forum account name too while I am logged in. What the flip happened to my login name lol.


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Re: Rokushima Taiyoo - RP Guide and Resource
« Reply #16 on: August 19, 2016, 08:38:58 AM »
No idea but you've had like four of them.

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