Convergence in Autumn Light: An OA/Rokugan Variant Campaign


First Post
The roster consists of 3rd level PCs, each originating from a family branch of the Lion clan:

Kitsu Shirogitsune, a shugenja of bone-white, almost oni-like appearance

Akodo Kenji, a samurai/ranger/fighter whose unorthodox demeanor is as unsettling as his height (tall for a Rokugani)

Matsu Rhogen, sohei (spiritual yojimbo); orphan of a cadet branch of the Matsu decimated by the Scorpion clan

This first part is the assemblage of the characters in a two-hour introduction. The concept for the campaign is that these characters will eventually be chaperones for young samurai on a circuit of the clan territories as part of their gempukku (coming of age). The circuit ride is also an opportunity for the characters to assess the political climate of all the other clans and relay that information to their elders for the benefit of the Lion clan.


They journeyed in silence under the unseasonably hot autumn sun toward the mountains in the west, the shugenja and the samurai. Each unused to prolonged interaction with others and mainly preoccupied by thoughts that strayed only a few times to linger on the company they kept, they traded words sparingly. However, what lay between these young men went deeper than social niceties.

They rode during the day, and rested at night, stopping at each village and town along the Daimyo's Way, unperturbed by the reactions of the heinin who greeted them with varying degrees of obsequiousness, servility and distrust.

Had it not been for the presence of the Akodo samurai, Kenji, the white-faced kami tsukai named Kitsu Shirogitsune might have been greeted with farmers' tools brandished as weapons and fire. Some peasants who thought of themselves as cultured sorts opined among their coarser fellows that the bone-colored one was a courtier used to journeying heavily painted with rice powder as the decadent western lords were wont to do in their lavish palaces. Despite the oni-like appearance that earned him the sobriquet "Ghost Demon Fox" whispered long after his departure, it could not be disputed that he wore the robes of one of the Divine Speakers, ochre fabrics festooned tastefully with golden lions in pursuit of white owls. His wrath would not be lightly tempted.

Akodo Kenji was equally as much an enigma as the sorceror. His height was disconcerting enough for a Rokugani, almost an affront to heaven, the way his brooding brow seemed to brush against the clouds. His face revealed so little one might wonder if it were the visor to his helm.

Some speculated that he shared his spirit with those of the animals that accompanied him; his warhorse, his large akita, and the falcon that rode hooded upon the pommel of his saddle. Akodo Kenji had no room in his wa (heart-soul) for the kami of the communities; his harmony lay with the animals.

One such entity riding alone through the land would have been fodder enough for gossip to last a month at least. But two...? The villagers would not forget.

For who knew the purpose for which the shugenja and the samurai rode? Only Heaven and Earth...and the one destined to join them.

They arrived at the monastery at sunset, the last ray of light from Lady Amaterasu-sama's imminent repose reddening the horizon in crimson fire. The distant peal of the bell tolling evening prayers reached their ears across the grasslands, yet the Abbot Akodo Tenjisu stood outside with the elder monks, waiting to greet them at the gates. Kenji recognized several of the monk, as he had expected he would when he was assigned this mission; retired generals of the Akodo, all. Here lay the secret heart of power for the Lion. These grizzled warriors had not retired from shame or dishonor, nor did it seem as if they had lost any of their readiness for battle. Kenji felt as if he gazed upon the Great Kaiu Wall itself, though that monument was hundreds of miles to the south, so resolute was the strength resonating from the men before him, through the edifice melting into the shadows of the mountain under the waxing mood-god.

Meeting the golden eyes of the Abbot with his own pale gaze, Kitsu Shirogitsune mouthed the appropriate pleasantries in token acknowledgement of tradition. But the Abbot effectively waved away any attempt at courtly pretense, stating with wry apology: "Forgive us should our brethren offend, as we have become set in our ways, as coarse old men often do, having become unaccustomed to the presence of those who regularly move through the courts of the great daimyos. We do not provide ideal examples to the younger monks. We intend no insult."

Shiro bowed. "I am honored that the monastery has opened its gates and granted the service of the holy defender promised to the Kitsu school on my behalf. I would be most grateful for any advice the Abbot could provide for the care of such a gift and honor as has been bestowed in the form of this bodyguard."

The Abbot's reply was hesitant and terse all at once. "Your destinies are intertwined in large part due to a convergence of fates willed by the movement of the kami," he said slowly. "It is a most auspicious occasion when the families of the Lion move as one in their children with the blessing of the spirits. Yet harmony of movement does not assume harmony of thought. If he is to be your shield, then instruct him in the ways of your spirit, and allow him to instruct you in the ways of his."

Shiro pondered this for a moment, then nodded in acknowledgement of the Abbot's advice, if not in agreement.

"He who has pledged himself to your protection awaits you in the shrine of the Bright Lady. Once the first light of sunrise touches his face, assuming he is acceptable, he will be in your service." The Abbot left unsaid that Shiro would be in service to the yojimbo (bodyguard) as well, but it was implicit in his tone. "We have readied rooms for you and your escort. The brothers will show you the way."

In the morning, Shiro and Kenji departed the monastery, joined by Ishikawa Rhogen of the Matsu family line, a thick-shouldered, broad-chested sohei whose devotion to his new responsibility soon became obvious in his hovering near Shiro from the beginning. The state of his readiness for combat even took Kenji a little by surprise. Armored from head to toe with a naginata strapped across his strong back, Rhogen looked ready to take the Shadowlands on by himself.

They traveled toward the village of Seiden, where Kenji would fulfill his other standing order to escort a courtier from the Ikoma cadet branch of the Lion back to the ancestral home. Shiro hoped to take advantage of the travel time to unlock the secrets of his two companions, but these attempts began as several false starts to start conversation.

Finally, eight days into the journey, with a full moon bathing the grassland prairie in moonlight, Shiro had just successfully initiated conversation with his companions for the first time when a rumbling caused Shiro and then Rhogen to look toward the eastern horizon.

It was as if a molten silver river had begin to pour its purifying light from an unseen point in the night sky onto the earth, parting the grass like an unstoppable force and moving directly toward the three companions.

Kenji faintly realized that the horses were reacting to the sound not with panic or fear, but with anticipation. The noise resolved itself into hooves. Hundreds of hooves, it seemed. The river suddenly split into a shower of shooting stars across the ocean of grass accompanied by rising thunder.

Horses. Perhaps only 30 or 40 of them, but horses of a kind and quality even Shiro, journeyman of spirits, had never seen before. Their coats resolved themselves in all the shades of grey and silver, mercurial, wraithlike, but still very powerful. They ran along the ground as if a touch of their hooves would propel them into the Celestial Courts.

It was the lead stallion that caught Kenji's eye. He led the horses in a running circle around the companions, kicking up dirt and the smell of grass and overturned earth as the overture. Then the stallion reared, his hooves striking the air in challenge, his eyes fixed on the samurai, clearly inviting Kenji to come and ride---if he dared.

Surprising his companions with the suddeness of his movement, Kenji spurred his horse on after the stallion. To his credit, it did not take Kenji long at all to discover the intelligence that was clearly characteristic of this unusual animal.

As he pulled parallel to the silver-streaked stallion, Kenji unhooked his feet and braced them against the saddle, lining himself up for a jump, trusting his own steed not to bolt or deviate at least for a few seconds. When he saw his chance, he took it, leaping for the stallion's back with the deadly intent of a leopard.

He missed.

Rhogen and Shiro were not idle. Before they could marvel too long at Kenji's daring, Shiro's horse, a tawny light-framed palomino of a skittish nature, suddenly bolted toward the herd, whinnying with excitement. In his time at the monastery, Rhogen had concentrated more on his fighting skills than his ability to ride, yet Rhogen managed to chase after Shiro with alacrity and snag the bridle of the shugenja's horse while maintaining his own place in the saddle, no mean feat for a novice.

They rode back to where Kenji now stood, chagrin written in his stance as he gazed after the departing herd. Though Kenji appeared unhurt, the look in his eyes was one bitter with longing as the mystic herd went the way they came.

Their hearts and minds full of the celestial vision they had just witnessed but whose significance they could not decipher, the sentai walked into Seiden village the next morning. Guided by the local yoriki (police), Shiro stormed his way into the magistrate's courthouse to announce his own arrival, interrupting the trial in progress. Magistrate Youshi did not look pleased at the disruption, but nevertheless treated all with courtesy and respect as he greeted the sentai with cool aplomb. Kenji noted silently that Shiro might have considered a different approach for a town in which they were expected to stay at least a few days, and as if he had picked up the stray thought, Shiro respectfully acknowledged the hospitality of the magistrate to smooth the ruffled feathers of the older man's dignity.

(to be continued)
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First Post
Kitsu Shiro's Background (Part I)

Posted on behalf of the player of the Albino Fox:

The muddied peasant walked along the dirt path near the paddy fields. Dozens of peasants are working the fields around you. In the distance a jagged black mountain rises and to the west the tail end of a thunderstorm is disappearing over the horizon. The dampness in the air and sweltering sun makes the air heavy. It is heavier still by the paddies.

The peasant balances on his shoulder a long pole with two buckets. He was large for a peasant and had a bounce in his step as he walked. Underneath the wide brim of his hat was an even wider smile that crinkled a ruddied face from many days in the sun. He noticed you approaching on horseback down the path. Although you wouldn't normally speak to such low people, you take a quick glance around to be sure no one is watching. Well, no one of importance.

"Ah, so you have come to hear the tale!" he says without moving his eyes from the road. Glancing over your shoulder, "Yes, yes I have."

You pause. "How could you have known?"

"Because everyone asks for the tale," he chuckles, "Not many like you come to the paddy. Especially after a storm!"

Searching through your sleeve you look for your coin belt. Taking one of the green copper coins, emblazoned with the imperial seal, from a string you lean down to hand it to him. "Bah," he starts, "I am only a witness. I am not paid to testify."

"Testify?" you inquire. Perhaps it was a mistake to search out this tale.

"Aye, I am a witness. A witness to the tragedy of Shirogitsune (the Albino Fox). Come to my home, there you shall hear all."

Taking leave of your horse, you drop down to the damp earth below with a squish. Your boot lowers to the ankle in the muck. You grab hold of your expensive silk robes and walk inside. Removing your shoes and outer clothing, you enter the humble abode. Children playing inside are silence by your presence. Eight of them stare passively at the ground. A ninth looks you in the eye. She is much too young to know better and you suppress a smile growing on your face.

The peasant ushers the children away. He urges you to sit as he begins to warm a tea service. "So you wish to hear my testimony...Let us begin when he began...almost four hundred years ago…

The night he was born a horrific storm battered the coast south of the imperial capitol. Right on the sea was a horrible tower of broken rock and coral. It was known as Kokuyugan <obsidian>. In this tower the evil wu jen Daija <snake> lived. For miles around the people abhorred the coast for the Daija was close to the shadow it was said. It is also said that the Daija conducted twisted experiments of the arcane to fuel his descent to shadow instead of stopping it.

Who the parents were of the Shirogitsune, no one knows for sure. It seems the mother's father, Kitsu Mimuzuku <horned owl> has purged all reference to them. Whether they were those of weal and under the spell of shadow or dark fiends who feasted at the table of evil, no one knows. What is known is that the parents were at Kokuyugan when their first child was born.

For days Daija prepared a vile ritual. Learning it from a Unicorn scholar, Daija prepared to merge himself with shadow and gain eternal youth. To perform this rite, he was required to feast upon Shirogitsune! The blasphemy pains me to even think of it, much less pass the words from my lips!

At the moment of birth, Daija took the baby Shirogitsune in his hands. Raising a silver knife up high he prepared to commit infanticide. However, then a most unexpected event occurred. From an open window and the gale of wind and rain came a bolt of lightning. The lightning struck the upheld hand of Daija and transformed Shirogitsune. Daija died in an instant and as he did Kokuyugan toppled.

A disgraced ronin was riding nearby when this occurred. He saw the explosion and claimed that the outline of a rodent could be seen in the clouds. Whether this had to do with the ronin's expertise with the drink, it is hard to say. In any event, even in the howling wind, the ronin heard the cry of the newborn Shirogitsune. Pulling rock away, the ronin found Shirogitsune. Appalled at the writhing form before him, the ronin at first thought he found an oni! For Shirogitsune was completely devoid of pigment. His eyes were red and his hair was shockingly white. He was ready to abandon the babe, when he noticed a blanket nearby showing the lotus and owl symbol of Mimuzuku. The ronin was familiar with Mimuzuku and knew he would be well rewarded.

Thus, Shirogitsune was delivered Mimuzuku and the ronin was well paid."

The peasant takes a last sip of tea and puts the cup down. You notice the chirrup of insects outside and Lady Sun is bending her rays to give way to night. "What about his journeys? What about even his training?" you ask impatiently.

The peasant tsks. "Heh, come back tomorrow and you shall hear more. Shirogitsune's story is only starting. Tomorrow I shall tell you of his adolescence and how he was first named!"

You hurry out the door. The ground isn't as wet as you approach your horse. But many questions remain. Perhaps tomorrow you shall have fewer questions and more answers.


First Post
Kitsu Shiro's Background (Part II)

As the midday sun rises over the black mountain in the distance, many questions linger about Shirogitsune. Your horse treads softly between the paddies as you look for the peasant. You believe you see him many times, for all peasants are the same to you. Finally the one who doesn't notice your approach and keeps his eyes firmly to the ground is the one. Again you reach for a coin and he raises his hand without moving his head. "No my friend, my testimony is free again this day."

Sighing he says, "Come with me for I know that you shall be undeterred to learn the tale."

Following him to his humble cottage, you quickly sit eager to hear more. He begins his tea service and says...

"When I last spoke to you, I told you of the birth of Shirogitsune. At this time he was not yet named. He had a blanket bearing the mark of Mimizuku. A ronin, if you remember, took the babe to Mimizuku.

Mimuzuku was a proud spirit weaver in the tradition of the Kitsu family. Mimuzuku's family had served as seneschal to the Kitsu for hundreds of years. Trained in the spiritual arts, Mimuzuku enforced the lion clan laws in all of the Kitsu lands. This of course included the great Kitsu school.

The ronin took Shirogitsune to the school, but found that Mimuzuku was riding a circuit of villages. The ronin eventually caught up with Mimuzuku as he was adjudicating in a small town. In the town, a system of indentures had developed. Eventually every person in town owed a bond to another such that it was impossible for any work to be accomplished for the cycle of debt went in twisted circles.

While trying to sort out this system, the ronin presented the child to Mimuzuku in open court. Immediately the towns people were in a panic at the sight of such an abomination as Shirogitsune. Outraged that he was interrupted, Mimuzuku threatened the ronin's life. However, when Mimuzuku saw the child, he knew through the child's spirit that his blood ran in the child.

Paying the ronin a handful of koku and demanding that he leave, Mimuzuku held the child up. As he did, a little girl in the village spoke aloud, much to the chagrin of her parents, "It is the Shirogitsune!"

Mimuzuku laughed. A laugh that had not been heard in ages it seemed. The Shirogitsune is a white fox-spirit known for its mischief, but also for being a portent of the need for strength. Mimuzuku held the baby in his arms. "This is a child of my childs. And he shall be Shirogitsune."

As if blessed with insight at that moment, Mimuzuku was able to sort out the laws and removed the indentures. The very night a great feast was held in the small village and Shirogitsune was thus named.

The peasant pauses and puts his cup down. The afternoon sun is masked by a coming storm and the air is crisp with a new chill. The peasant rises. "I must hurry and finish my work this day. I suggest you leave before the storm comes."

You pause and before you speak he says, "Come back tomorrow and you shall hear of how Shirogitsune first learned the ways of magic and sorcery!" With that, the peasant leaves you alone. Again you leave with more questions than answers. Perhaps tomorrow it shall be reversed.


First Post
Kitsu Shiro's Background (Part III)

The storm howls sending ripples across the low paddies. You keep your eyes down as the wind kicks up water in the pools at the foot of your horse. Slowly making your way along the twisting path, you consider leaving the green valley and returning to the warmth of the stone inn. You press on, determined to learn more of Shirogitsune.

You approach the cottage and notice that lamps are lit. Getting off your horse you hurry toward the small stone wall. Stones have fallen from the wall and it is generally in a state of disrepair. Fighting the wind and your balance at the same time, you leap over the wall knocking a stone or two to the ground. Seemingly like the snap of your fingers the wind ceases. There is an eiry calmness and the rain drops to a sprinkle.

You hear the call of a bird across the paddies and move to the door. As you approach it opens. The ever-present smile of the peasant greets you with a flash of teeth. "I see even the wind cannot rebuke you," he giggles.

"No matter, I have prepared the tea."

You anxiously move to sit. You suddenly remember you forgot to take off your outter robe. The peasant did not notice the affront, at least you do not believe he did. You take it off and delicately fold the silks. Sitting as you have twice before, you take a sip of the bitter tea and listen.

"I have told you of the unusual circumstances of Shirogitsune's birth as well as his naming. Now let me tell you my testimony of his early adolescence.

In his earliest years, Shirogitsune was raised by Mimuzuku in his household as a son. When Shirogitsune was 60 moons old his head was shaved and he began his tuteledge under Mimuzuku as a page. Leaving his grandmother and "aunts" (the matronly servants of Mimuzuku's estate) behind Together the older Shirogitsune and Mimuzuku traveled the Kitsu lands. Once a year, Mimuzuku would arrive in farming and fishing villages to settle quarrels, divide estates and administer justice. During these travels, Shirogitsune learned to read and write.

Also during these travels, Shirogitsune also learned of the prejudice of ignorance. Many times children would stare or laugh at the flamboyantly dressed boy with piercing red eyes. Hearing the name "oni" or "demon" behind his back, Shirogitsune felt he brought shame on Mimuzuku and his family.

This would be a feeling Shirogitsune nursed and it grew as he did. On one occassion, Shirogitsune was playing a game of stones in a courtyard at a local noble's house. His grandfather was with the noble settling some minor dispute among two villages and the right to fish a stream. One of the noble's sons sat on a ledge looking down at Shirogitsune. The child's large torso showed that he was wealthy and over-fed. The boy began to taunt Shirogitsune with the names of "ghost" and other derogatory words about Shirogitsune's features. Then the boy did something that no one else had done. He picked up a rock from a nearby planter and threw it at Shirogitsune. His aim was true and the stone his Shirogitsune in the back of the head. A maid was walking by at the time. She was of lowly birth and giggled as she saw the boy struck.

Shirogitsune was knocked to the ground. Blood spilled lightly from the wound. Shirogitsune picked himself up in a daze. His hand touched the back of his head. When he saw the inky red flowing over his milky white hand anger welled up inside him. The maid later swore that Shirogitsune's eyes glowed red, "like an Oni." A flash of light and thunder encircled the other boy. The boy fainted and fell to the ground. Shirogitsune, afraid of what he had done and even more afraid of his grandfather ran from the household.

Shirogitsune knew what his grandfather did to witches and practioners of demon magic. Shirogitsune fled into the wilderness. For days Shirogitsune lived among the animals. He drank from streams and somehow always found berries or nuts. Unusually the food was always in piles and near where he slept. Also, he never encountered the mountain lions or wolves that often terrorized the villages.

Then one day, while he napped, Shirogitsune smelled something foul breathing on his neck. The noble guard took Shirogitsune by his neck and carried him off on his back. It was later that Shirogitsune had to face his grandfather.

Mimuzuku was not angered as much as he was disappointed that Shirogitsune would run from the law. The noble boy sat smirking as healers tended to his broken legs. The noble demanded Shirogitsune's head at one point during the audience. Whatever anger Mimuzuku had been savoring for Shirogitsune was spent on the noble.

"No, Shirogitsune shall have the same punishment that I had when I was his age," Mimuzuku wistfully said.

It was not until a week later that Shirogitsune learned that fate...when his head was painted with the first red circlet of a new member of the Kitsu school."

"But how is that a punishment?" you blurt out.

The peasants face grows sour at your question. "That is all the time I have, the day grows short and there is much work to be done. Come back tomorrow."

With that you take your leave. You sense the peasant has more to say, but is reserving it in deference to your station. You are slightly ashamed that your curiosity took ahold of you. As you turn on your horse back to the nearby village you notice a flash of white to your side. Your heart races, is Quickly turning you see a small dove circling the paddy. Perhaps the legend of Shirogitsune and his deeds is merely that a legend. You ponder this on your way back.


First Post
Kitsu Shiro's Background (Part IV)

Your horse slowly descends the valley wall down towards the paddies. Your sharp eyes catch someone leaving your destination - the cottage you have visited for the last three days. Each day you came with questions and left with few answers.

The rider wears black and red and gallops off to the north as you approach from the south. Perhaps another is seeking information about Shirogitsune? Maybe there is more to this peasant than meets the eye.

You recognize a face or two among the paddy workers as you approach the cottage. The large peasant stands by his fence as you approach. He smiles and looks down to the ground. "I see you are hear for more testimony?"

You feel cheated for some reason. Slipping from the horse, you point at the cottage. The peasant scurries off and enters. You notice that a tea service sits dirty in a corner. The peasant prepares another and urges you to sit down.

As you do, you look around the room to determine what kind of man the peasant is. You notice nothing in particular. But suddenly realize that there is nothing to note. No, portraits or paintings. There are no shrines or ornaments. The peasant walks in and sits.

"Is something the matter?" he drones.

"No," you say quickly, "Please tell me...give your testimony to me."

"Ah yes, I told you of how Shirogitsune entered Kitsu school. There he learned the ways of nobility, the philosophy of combat and his role as enabler of the mighty samurai of the Lion Clan. This was difficult for Shirogitsune because he stood apart from the other students. However, the tutors treated everyone with the same level of insincerity and disdain so it eased the pain of self-awareness that Shirogitsune was succumbing to in those first years of adolescence.

After his fifth year at the school, Shirogitsune began to patrol the Lion Clan lands with a small attachment of men-at-arms. This was done so that the young nobles could learn to wield authority. It was a pungent lesson for some because the young nobles learned that they could demand and order the men, they relied on the men for protection. In turn, the men relied upon the noble to keep them alive in battle. This interweaving relationship helped the nobles understand the importance of levity and some of the tenets of bushido that their samurai peers studied.

The patrol that Shirogitsune led was very skeptical of the one called the Albino Fox. Some of the men talked of abandoning young Shirogitsune. Others thought him weak and sickly. For two months they patrolled the areas between the towns and villages searching for bandits.

On day, the men were caught completely by surprise in an ambush. Dozens of archers fired upon the patrol. Men fell all about the road and in the chaos the snipers began to kill the men. Shirogitsune saw men's throats explode in a splash of red ichor as sinew and bone hung limply from the wound. Shirogitsune did not cower. Instead he rose up in the middle of the road and called to the spirits. Only knowing minor spirit tricks and minimal healing abilities, Shirogitsune knew not where this power was taking him. From the sky above a thunderclap was heard and then the air around Shirogitsune and his men turned instantly into a deep fog. The archers and snipers could no longer see. Next Shirogitsune began to make noises magical and otherwise and he leapt about the fog. Soon there was the twang of bows and then volley after volley of arrows.

Within an hour the fog cleared. Once clear, the remaining men of Shirogitsune's patrol found that the archers had been tricked and had killed most of each other. The remaining archer bandits were quickly dispatched. A day of misery had turned to victory.

The men were in awe of Shirogitsune and rejoiced. They took him into the nearest town and that night taught him the ways of carousing and drink. The older men treated Shirogitsune as one of their own. Shirogitsune, even of higher birth, had never felt such acceptance. He enjoyed their company and thought of leading them to victory again.

However, it was for not. The next morning a very...disheveled...Shirogitsune came to the main room of the inn. Sitting facing an open fire with his back to Shirogitsune was none other than his grandfather. Ashamed at his appearance, Shirogitsune turned to leave. "Sit down, Kitsu Shirogitsune."

Shirogitsune sat in silence for 2 hours while his grandfather sipped his tea. Finally, the grandfather spoke. Shirogitsune was to once again travel the circuit with Mimuzuku. Shirogitsune was to train in the ways of law and learn the craft of his grandfather. Shirogitsune had spent enough time at Kitsu school it seems and his abilities had grown too much already.

Thus Shirogitsune made and lost his first friends within a day and returned with his grandfather to the circuit of villages."

The peasant looks very tired as he finishes. "You will have to excuse me, I am exhausted from a day of..." he pauses.

"Day of what?" you inquire quickly.

"Day of working," he says as he walks behind a door and slides it closed. Left to yourself, you leave as your mind returns to black and red riders and the meaning of the story.

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