|Races||Human (Kozakuran), Korobokuru, Spirit Folk|
|Religions||Eight Million Gods, Way of Enlightenment|
Inhabitants of Kozakura
Locations in Kozakura
Organizations in Kozakura
Settlements in Kozakura
Kozakura is an archipelago nation composed of four large islands and dozens of smaller ones, the largest of which stretches fourteen hundred miles from tip to tip. It is a land where constant political power struggles are fought, and the central government in the Imperial Capital only has power within its immediate reach. Political intrigue is common as the great families of Kozakura seek to outmaneuver each other in their bid for power and wealth.
An archipelago nation, Kozakura consists of many islands. There are four large islands as well as dozens of smaller ones that make up the entirety of Kozakuran territory. The largest island, which is roughly fourteen hundred miles across its length, is named Shinkoku and is the location for the current imperial capital, Dojyu. It is also the centre of Kozakuran population and culture, and is the most widely settled of the four major islands. The other three islands are roughly the same size, at around two hundred miles across, and are Tenmei (to the North of Shinkoku), and Mikedono and Hinomoto (both to the south of Shinkoku.)
A group of volcanic islands, Kozakura's land masses are generally characterized by steep hills or mountains toward their center, sloping sharply down to wide plains and beaches before meeting the sea. The islands are heavily forested in places, and there is no shortage of wood available for construction. At higher altitudes, forests tend to consist of cedar and pine, and in the lower, more humid areas, bamboo and cypress are more common.
To the west of Kozakura are the islands of Wa, a rival nation who has clashed with Kozakura in the past. Across the Sea of Kozakura to the north is the peninsula of Koryo, who have seen themselves victims of Kozakuran ambitions more than once.
The nominal head of government is a hereditary Emperor, who traditionally takes over from his father at a very young age, necessitating the services of a regent to rule in his name. The old Emperor is forced into retirement, but still maintains some influence with a title of Retired Emperor. This means that generally there are three factions in the Imperial Court vying for control.
Over the past several hundred years, the position of Emperor has faded in importance and the Shogun has become the de facto ruler of Kozakura. The position of Shogun is, however, tainted with much of the same politics and manoevering that affected the Emperor. This results in many Shoguns ascending to the position at a young age, and the need for a shikken, which is a regent for the Shogun.
While the Imperial and Shogunate courts still have solid control over the imperial capital and the lands close by, many Daimyos, or local lords, still have near-absolute authority in their own lands and do not defer to the central government.
The imperial court abounds with important sounding ranks and titles, but most of these, like the court itself, serve a largely ceremonial function. Little of the work of government is conducted there. The bakufu is the true government of Kozakura. The organization of the shogunal government is explained here, not only to help understand the country, but also because characters who distinguish themselves may be rewarded with a government or military appointment.
Even though the bakufu is the true government power, the influence of the court must not be underestimated. The retired emperor, for instance, retains the authority to award provincial governorships. These appointments naturally go to vassals and clans which support imperial interests. Too, imperial favor and the prospect of marriage into that house give the emperor and his court influence in unlooked-for quarters. Although no longer directly involved in most government actions, the imperial court continues to work in its own interest behind the scenes.
The shogunal government is based in Gifu, away from the intrigues and distractions of the imperial court at Dojyu. That location was chosen as much for its strategic and tactical positioning as for any other reason. Many adminstrative functions continue to be carried out in Dojyu, however, since the emperors presence and the facilities of state are necessary for much of the business of government.
Throughout Kozakura, shugo, or military governors, are the backbone of the shogunal government. Shugo were originally posted in each province to maintain law and order. Appointed from among worthy samurai families, they serve today as both high officials of the bakufu, and as local military governors. The central offices of the bakufu are staffed by shugo drawn from among the shogun's (or the shikken's) retainers, and are important positions in the power politics of Kozakura.
First among these central offices is that of Kanrei (chief administrator), traditionally assigned to one among the most powerful of the shogun's vassals: the Takenaka, Otomo, or Yamashita clans. It is also becoming more and more common for the chief administrator to be appointed from among the shikken's vassals instead. The current chief administrator is Yamashita Yoichi, a vassal of Hojo Kawabuko, with strong ties to the family of regent Takenaka Okawa.
Below the chief administrator the most important office is that of Head (shoshi) of the Office of Samurai. The shoshi has the responsibility of military planning, discipline, and police protection, and also commands the shogun's guard force in Gifu. The shoshi is customarily appointed from one of four shogun-loyal families. Since the close of the Hojo War, the composition of these loyal vassals has changed. The new vassal clans considered appropriate for appointment as shoshi are the Matsuhita, Sato, Tokushime, and Akiyama clans. The office is currently held by Matsuhita Kinnori.
The seven clans in line for these traditional appointments form a front line of support for the Hojo house. When they act together, they give the shogun (or the shikken) the necessary backing to dominate the rest of his vassals. There is also plenty of opportunity for dissension and infighting as families and individuals jockey for influence and position. Things are not yet stabilized under the Takenaka regency.
Subordinate to the above offices are several administrative organs. The mandokoro (finance office) is responsible for shogunal finances. The monchujo (document office) serves as a secretariat and repository of property records. The hyojoshu (judicial board) settles disputes, usually over land problems, and determines punishments. The bugyo-shu (administrative board) debates and establishes general administrative policy, while the bugyo encompasses miscellaneous functions.
Regional deputies represent the shogun's authority outside of Gifu. The post of governor general exists in Dojyu, with subordinate deputy governors (mokudai) in each province. Deputy governors have the responsibility of handling the civil government of the province, particularly of the public lands there, and is usually the same person who is military governor of the province. When the offices of military governor and deputy governor are not held by the same person, there is often a conflict of interest between their administrative duties, many of which duplicate each other.
Like the imperial government, provincial government is a confusing, factional affair The power struggles at the top between the shikken, shogun, and imperial line are reflected in the official posts and appointments made in the provinces. Each faction usually has at least one representative within a province.
The top two positions in a province are the shugodaimyo (military governor), appointed by the shogunal authorities, and the kokushu (provincial governor), who is appointed by imperial authorities. Each has a number of minor officials under him. Provincial government structure echoes that of the bakufu, with similar administrative offices on a smaller scale.
Shugo-daimyo The shugo-daimyo is the samurai military governor of a province. Most of the territory in the province is held by his family or related families (hence the title daimyo). As shugo, his family was appointed to its post by the shogun of Kozakura. Now the position passes from father to son almost automatically. The shogun could step in and reassign the title of shugo, but seldom does. Such a punishment is reserved for families that threaten the shogun, either through treachery or ambition. The shugodaimyo has wide authority in civilian matters, and local military units are recruited in his name. However, he spends nearly all his time in Gifu, keeping himself at the center of the political scene.
Shugodai One or more samurai, usually of the same family as the shugo-daimyo, are appointed shugodai, or deputy shugo. These men split their time between the capital of the shogun and the province. Each is responsible for a province or a district of a province. They are appointed to their position by the shugo-daimyo and are accountable to him. The shugodai handles most of the administration of the province and carries reports to the shugo-daimyo in the capital. Immediately under him are a number of offices, boards, and councils that handle the necessary affairs of the province.
Shugo-matadai The shugo-matadai is the lowest level of shugo, the subdeputy shugo. Player character samurai are sometimes given a shugo post at this level. Shugo-matadai usually belong to the main family, or a branch family, of the shugo-daimyo. In some cases, the position of shugo-matadai is given as a reward for loyal service. The shugo-matadai is responsible for the administration of a district within a province.
Daikan Daikan are often samurai, the local agents of the shugo-matadai. They collect the taxes and oversee the public lands. Their duties are similar to those of the jito. Unlike the jito, daikan are not bound to a single estate. Jito. Jito are land stewards who supervise activities on both public and private lands. They are samurai representatives of the shugo-daimyo to each estate in the province. They oversee the collection of taxes and the implementation of edicts. They are often in conflict with the civil officals and non-shugo landowners. Kokushu. The kokushu, or civil governor, has virtually no power in the province and thus spends most of his time in the capital. Nearly all his duties have been assumed by the shugo-daimyo. However, as governor he is entitled to a certain amount of the taxes from all public lands, provided that the shugo-daimyo can be convinced to give up this tax money.
Mokudai The mokudai, or deputy governor, actually lives in the province. There he exerts what little authority the civil governor has. While theoretically in control of all public lands, these are more often managed by the jito of the shugo-daimyo. The mokudai is supposed to protect the interests of the governor, emperor, and the people. However, with no authority, he can do little more than file formal protests and rubber stamp documents. Indeed, his main purpose is to give official approval to the actions of the shugo-daimyo for the sake of appearances.
Seal bearers Seal bearers assist the deputy governor in the detais of administration. The position has no power and very few duties. As such, it is given as a reward to local men in the province, especially those not favored by the shugo-daimyo.
Hojo Todahiro and Supporters
Hojo Todahiro lives in exile in Iewara on the island of Kanshu. He plots to regain his position as shogun and depose the Takenaka clan from power. Foremost among those who supported him in the war were the Tanomitsu, Kashigawa, Oezuki, Todo, Mashikuni, and Yamabe clans. Of these, the Kashigawa and Tanomitsu traditionally held high posts in the bakufu, but even these honors offered no protection following their defeat.
The Tanomitsu, once the most powerful of the shogun's supporters, have suffered the most. Their leaders were executed, their families exterminated, and most of their holdings confiscated or burned to the ground. Those who survived have fled to shoen in remote provinces, or accompanied Hojo Todahiro into exile on the island of Kanshu.
The Kashigawa clan are Hojo vassals; most of these nobles joined Todahiro when he went to Kanshu. Other loyalists were stripped of properties and tax benefits by the shikken, and have withdrawn to provincial estates.
The Mashikuni clan is now allied with Takenaka Sugawaro's camp, the Northwest Takenaka. Mashikuni Kakuji, former shugo-daimyo of Sudai Province and Hojo ally, has given up on seeing Todahiro become shogun. He will go to any length to avenge the loss of his clan's properties to the shikken, even if this means supporting a Takenaka.
The Ikeda and Takegai clans supported Hojo Todahiro's claim as shogun, seeing him as the only legal heir to the position. Imperial connections have protected them from Takenaka Okawa since he became shikken, but there is barely concealed hostility between these two factions. Head Councilor of State (Daijo-Daijin) Takegai Uezami communicates with the banished Hojo Todahiro regularly through spies and more conventional messengers.
The Yashima and Nakasendo clans have been wooed over to Takenaka Okawa through tax benefits and land gifts. The Yashima provide military support to the shikken, while the Nakasendo intrigue and spy for him at court.
The Ashigi and Motonari clans support Takenaka Sugawara as described under The Emperors.
Emperor Gonijo enjoys his religious functions in office, and would gladly retire to a temple. He has no interest in affairs of state. However, his father, the Retired Emperor Gokammu, hopes to restore the office of emperor to true political power. This is a grand dream, but highly unlikely, as it would require defeat of the shogun, and of all lords who have any hope of becoming shogun or shikken.
Some court nobles support the retired emperor in his plans, especially the Ashigi and Motonari. Gokammu views the division between the Takanaka brothers as being to his advantage, and his court allies help him exploit this. Appearing to favor Takenaka Sugawara, they work through spies and quiet intrigue to widen the rift in the Takenaka clan.
Takenaka Okawa and the Southwesten Families
Shikken Takenaka Okawa plans to force Hojo Kawabuko to marry, produce an heir, then retire, leaving Okawa in power as shikken. He has not yet openly conflicted with his half-brother Sugawara, but if he goes through with this plan, it is only a matter of time before a Takenaka War erupts. Reset with political intrigue and sometimes small rebellions, Shikken Takenaka Okawa relies heavily on the Southwestern Takenaka for support. He uses but does not trust his allies, the imperial Yashima and Nakasendo clans. Aside from these families, he puts his faith in only four clans in Kozakura. They are the most powerful clans in the land, besides the Takenaka and Hojo.
The Yamashita and Otomo are shogunal vassals, and bound to support Okawa because of his blood relationship to Hojo, at least until Hojo reaches 18. The Matsushita and Sato clans have strong marriage ties to the Southwestern Takenaka, and have dutifully honored their obligations to their relative, the shikken.
Takenaka Sugawara and the Northwestern Families
Sugawara unhappily moved aside for his brother at the close of the Hojo War, recognizing the expediency of having a relative of the shogun become shikken. Nevertheless, the northwestern Takenaka and their allies continued to intrigue against the shikken to benefit their favorite, Sugawara. Now that the shikken's regency is drawing to a close, it has become apparent that Takenaka Okawa will not readily step down from power. Assured of help by imperial allies and Northwestern Takenaka supporters, Sugawara plans to fight to help the shogun come to power. Sugawara will gladly depose his half-brother, whom he regards as an incompetent regent. Among his important vassals and allies are the Tokushime, Akiyama, and Mashikuni clans, the imperial Ashigi and Motonari clans, and Katsuhara Omitsu, the powerful bamboo spirit shugo-daimyo of Dosaki Province.
Kozakuran society is a caste hierarchy. At the highest level are the samurai caste. This should not be confused with the samurai class - the word samurai can be used in two different contexts. The samurai caste are the nobles of Kozakura and responsible for the administration of the provinces and the nation. In addition to this, the samurai are organized into families, and these families are further subdivided into clans. The families tend to act in union to advance the aims of their family, but it is not unheard of for a family to schism over an issue. This is more common in the larger families, and the repercussions of this struggle can affect the entire country.
Beneath the samurai caste are the clergy, who serve as priests in the various temples. Clergy are technically outside the caste system, but in practice they have tremendous influence over public policy. Many nobles enter the clergy specifically in order to bring a certain temple community in line with their family's aims. The clergy welcomes people from all walks of life, including retired samurai, sons of peasants, widows, and so on.
The majority of the population is made up of the peasants, who are divided into several groups. The farmers tend to be the backbone of the land, and are also organized into families in the same way as the samurai caste, with the head of family responsible for collecting rent and taxes. Craftsmen have variable status depending on their craft, their skill, and their renown. Merchants, socially, including moneylenders are found at this level, though they may have some control over the other members of the peasant class economically. The lowest of the peasant class are the entertainers, including actors, singers, and musicians.
Below even the peasants are the outcasts, who perform duties that are considered dishonourable, unclean, or forbidden. Outcasts are quite literally cast out from the rest of society. All the other castes treat them with contempt, and contact is generally avoided. They are considered nonpeople, and marriage between an outcast and anyone else would be seen similar to a marriage to an animal. The trades that are filled by outcasts include executioners, butchers, tanners, and morticians.
The most noteworthy ninja clan in Kozakura are the Konishi, a family which has served opposing factions simultaneously for years. Traditionally they accept contracts both from court nobles and from the shogun and his relatives. They are perfectly content to be hired by those who are likely to be victims the very next week. Konishi Ieyasu, clan head, particularly enjoys the irony of this situation, and subtly influences politics by choosing when to complete assignments (such as executions). A younger but highly efficient family is the Uji clan, which has worked for the Takenaka and other powerful nobles over the past century. Clan head Uji Toyo does not find it acceptable to work both for and against the same employer. Two years ago he politely withdrew his family's services to the shikken, since the Uji have been retained on a long-term basis by Takenaka Sugawara to do work targeted against the shikken and his allies. Takenaka Okawa has not yet discovered this, although he suspects ninja actions against him.
The Irridescent Peacock Society
Though most wu jen lead solitary existences, many are in service to masters and some perform work for a fee. Since a large number of wu jen gathered for these reasons in Dojyu, some of the evil-aligned ones eventually banded together in the highly secret Irridescent Peacock Society. The society regulates magical practices among its members, and offers training, protection and aid to members in need of such assistance. Because such a group of wu jen acting in concert can be tremendously powerful, the group's existence is kept secret: ignorant of the society, samurai lords cannot feel their power is threatened by it. The society has secret recognition signs, dangerous tests for prospective joiners, and is organized in cells with limited membership.
During times of warfare, the services of wu jen are in much demand, and there is greater opportunity for personal rewards in the upheaval of strife. Recognizing this, the society supports the return of Hojo Todahiro to Kozakura, since they see this as the quickest route to open warfare. In the meantime, the society does what it can to encourage the outbreak of conflict, each wu jen working independently to create chaos for any convenient faction. For example, a society member may rot the crop in a clan's rice paddies, then leave "evidence" that an opposing clan did it. Some wu jen have even assassinated samurai lords or their relatives, leaving the clan to assume it was the work of an enemy family.
The peddlers and gamblers of this country were not organized into yakuza families until recently, when a few ambitious criminals from Wa saw opportunity to expand their operations in Kozakura. Yakuza families here are still loosely organized and growing, concentrating their activities in gambling, the protection racket, and the fencing of stolen goods. Families of special distinction have not yet come to light, and there is much opportunity for ambitious yakuza adventurers to shape and create an organization from scratch.
The humans of Kozakura tend to belong to one of two major religions: either the Eight Million Gods or the Way of Enlightenment. The former is a rough collection of ancient practices devoted to a variety of nature spirits, and the latter is a religious practice brought from Shou Lung and devoted to guiding its practicioners to spiritual perfection.
It is normal for a kozakuran to be recognize and participate in the practice of more than one shrine or school of thought. Those who dedicate themselves to the pursuits of only one religion tend to be priests, monks, shukenja, and sohei.
The korobokuru of Kozakura worship a pantheon of animal spirits. Sometimes, their heroes are elevated mythically to the state of half-animalistic demigods.
Temples and shrines care little for the secular disputes among the samurai. They usually support nobility which favors their particular temple or sect, and work against those who do them injury. However, two temples have demonstrated secular interests during the current unrest.
The retired former emperor Gobidamu is now a monk at the Temple of Kanchairyu on Mt. Ichi. That temple fought for Hojo Todahiro, and now supports Takenaka Sugawara, as Retired Emperor Gokammu has quietly requested. Similarly, former Shogun Hojo Kamuri (great-grandfather of Hojo Kawabuko) is a monk at the influential northern Temple of Namikami This fierce group supports Kawabuko's succession, and has "persuaded" many samurai in the northern provinces to stand behind him as well.
Note: Dates in this article are given using the Kozakuran year. There is an inconsistency in the source material between module OA4 and the Kara-Tur Boxed Set; the Kozakuran year may be DR+183 (OA4) or DR+73 (Boxed Set). It is worth noting that the Kozakuran records are not kept by year, but rather by cycle/year, with each cycle being 60 years. For example, 5/16 would be the sixteenth year of the fifth cycle, or year 255. This can be complicated for the layperson to keep straight, so for ease, the year alone is used here.
The history of Kozakura prior to year 1 is largely fogged by mythology and origin legends; it is generally acknowledged by Kozakuran historians that there was no central system of government prior to keeping a calendar. Year 1 on the Kozakuran calendar was marked by the ascent of Emperor Mori of the Akimatsu family to the position of Emperor. His claim to the throne was said to be supported by the gods in displays of divine power. He lay his claim based on the support of many of the other families, which had been won through military might and a system of diplomacy that was largely based on strategic weddings of Akimatsu family women into other clans. Emperor Mori originally held court and centered his government in the city of Fukama, in Shizume Province, home to the ancestral lands of the Akimatsu family.
As time went on, the Akmitasu Emperors took control over the fertile Dai Plain in Kodo Province in order to better maintain the position of emperor - this plain was one of the largest rice-producing regions in the Kozakuran islands. They continued the tradition of intermarriage with other clans in order to cement their power, and in 514, they moved the imperial capital to Dojyu on the Dai Plain in order to have a closer economic foundation for their power base.
As a result of the constant expansion of the Akimatsu family, eventually several branches split from the Imperial line. Most of these cousins sought to control the Emperor through marriage to one of their own daughters, and attempting to manipulate succession to put a child Emperor on the throne. In these cases, the regent to the Emperor (sessho) could often take power over the court by controlling appointments, land grants, and taxation. The Honda clan proved to be the most successful at this manipulation and they effectively ran the country through this system of sessho until 1119.
Over the course of Imperial power, provinces grew more isolated and uncontrolled by the central authority - the landowning families far from court tended to fend for themselves, as help from Doyju took a long time to get, and the to arrive. As a result, the provincial families funded their own soldiers for protection and tax collection, and developed an independent attitude. This led to the growth of a military class, and the fact that many landholding lords developed their own private armies (and fighting skills) contributed to the eventual downfall of the Akimatsu Emperors.
The Tenmu war began in 1108, and was fought between several of these warrior-lords (daimyo) in the provinces as each family sought to claim what others had, in order to expand their own holdings. The courtiers at Doyju attempted to intercede, but by this point their influence over the provincial families was all but gone, and they had little choice but to let the war run its course. In 1119, when the dust had settled, it was the Hojo family who emerged as the most powerful. Seizing their opportunity, they forced Emperor Showa to grant their family head Hojo Tademashi the title of Shogun, or great warlord. From this point on, the real power in Kozakura lay with this military leader, though the Emperor continues to hold his position to this day.
In 1120, the Shogun set up an alternate government center called the bakufu in the city of Gifu. While technically still inferior to the emperor, the shogun controlled the military. He still maintained a careful pretense of obedience to the will of the emperor, however, because the common folk believe in the Emperor's divine right to rule.
In 1242, the office of Shogun became hereditary under the rule of Emperor Ijo. Unfortunately, this led to the same kind of political manoevering and machinations that haunted the Imperial Line eight centuries before.
In recent years, the Hojo War was fought between 1415 and 1421, a battle between branches of the Hojo family to determine who would succeed to the shogun's throne. Hojo Todahiro fought supporters of his infant son, Hojo Kawabuko, and lost. In 1422, the nine-year-old Kawabuko was installed as shogun with his maternal grandfather, Takenaka Okawa as regent.
The way Kozakura is governed and the politics that control it seem strange to many outsiders. To understand the government of Kozakura, it is helpful to understand how the system developed.
Akimatsu Rise to Power. Local government and politics began with the Akimatsu clan and the Emperor Mori. The rise of the Akimatsu family was accomplished by skillful use of military might and diplomacy, especially marriage alliances. Through these marriages, the Akimatsu wed their daughters to the powerful nobles of other clans, then maneuvered and worked to see that the children of these marriages assumed control of the other clans. The Akimatsu gained tremendous influence through such maneuvers.
However, the Akimatsu clan was never able to create a strong tradition of imperial authority. Too much of their control relied on the cooperation of allied families, who had to be rewarded with titles, offices, and land. Alone, the Akimatsu lacked the might to defeat their enemies.
Economic Base The imperial capital of Fukama was initially situated on ancestral Akimatsu lands in Shizume Province, but the royal clan eventually dominated the fertile Dai Plain in order to maintain the position of emperor. From that power base, they gave lands to branches of their own family, to cadet families (lesser families related to their line), and allies. Over time, their daughters married into more outside clans, cementing the bonds of further alliances. This eventually resulted in the capital being moved to Dojyu on the Dai Plain in 9/34 (514), in order to keep better contact with the actual property and economic foundation of the imperial court and the Akimatsu clan. To consolidate their land-holding position, the Akimatsu launched a series of campaigns against the korobokuru, who still held large portions of the islands. The land captured in these campaigns was dispensed to loyal families or added to their own territories.
Child Emperors and Regents In time, the policies of the Akimatsu worked against them. After the first several decades, the family became quite large and split into several branches. Although only those from the main family line could become emperors, the other branches sought to control the emperor, usually through the marriage of a daughter to the emperor or one of his sons. The child of such a marriage could be named emperor and the child's maternal grandfather, often acting as regent (sessho), could effectively control the court. This became the most powerful position in the imperial court, controlling most appointments, land grants, and tax immunities.
The family most successful at this ploy was the Honda clan, and a long line of Honda regents were the power behind the throne in an almost uninterrupted string until their influence was broken by the Hojo clan in 1119.
Retired Emperors With the naming of an underage emperor, the old emperor, his father, was forced to retire, often after a difficult power struggle. With time, this retirement became a tradition, and the powerful office of the retired emperor was established. A retired emperor was usually in his twenties or thirties, regents instead of the emperor's grandfather.
Temples and Shrines Temples also grew in power as they were granted lands by emperors, regents, retired emperors, and other nobles. Religious leaders connected to powerful families seldom hesitated to employ the power of their temples to further their families' interests. The favor was returned by daimyos and court members who aided their secular relatives. Religious disputes were often settled by armed troops of warrior sohei, raised to protect an order's interests. The practice of retired noblemen and widowed noblewomen entering a monastery encouraged entire clans to support the cause of a temple they were previously indifferent to.
Temples benefited from endowments and gifts made by the faithful, becoming wealthy landholders in their own right. This economic clout gave the religious sects political influence as well, reinforced with private military might separate from the samurai heirarchy. From low-key political influence to armed warfare in the streets of the capital, religious sects became a power to be reckoned with.
Capital Politics The politics of the capital were complicated and demanded all the attention of the nobles. Indeed, to be forced to travel more than 20 or 30 miles from the capital was a terrible banishment. The provinces were regarded as the home of the uncultured and inferior and very little attention was paid to the clans in the provinces.
Forced to manage without assistance from Dojyu, provincial families grew in armed strength and landholdings, while the power of the Akimatsu and the other nobles of the court eventually weakened. With growing agitation from religious and provincial factions, court nobles lacked both the trained troops to win battles and the landholdings necessary to finance their enterprises. More and more they called upon provincial families related to their line. These families, in return for more land and rights, provided military muscle.
Military Class The rising military class first took form as bushidan, powerful local individuals who banded together in large military cliques to take control of state lands in the provinces. The leaders of the bushi were mostly descendants of former district governors, holders of military commissions, and managers of family estates who had been sent out to the provinces from the capital. Many were younger sons of nobles for whom suitable positions could not be found at court.
At the top of the military heirarchy which thus took form were the daimyos, the local landholding lords. They were served in turn by samurai, who had the wherewithal to equip themselves with mounts and good armor, and by the lower-ranking zusa, the common footsoldier, refered to today by the generic term bushi.
The Shogunate While the imperial court remained blind to the danger presented by the increasingly powerful provincial families, the new military class recognized that the imperial court was weak and in disarray. One family, the Hojo, precipitated the Tennu War, breaking the influence of the Honda regents at court, and forcing the emperor to grant their family head the title of shogun, or warlord, in 1119.
Hojo Tademashi became the first shogun of Kozakura, establishing his shogunal government, the bakufu, at Gifu in 1120. Although of a lesser rank than the emperor and the sessho, Hojo had the advantage of military might behind him, and became the real ruler of Kozakura. However, the careful pretense was maintained that the shogun obeyed the will of the emperor. This continues to be necessary since the common folk believe the emperor is descended from the gods and is himself divine. Even today, only daimyos of the proper bloodline, related to the emperor (however distantly), can be shogun. The title must also be bestowed by the emperor himself. While this is a mere formality, it means that only those who control the emperor can become shogun.
With the establishment of the shogunate, the military class became essential to maintenance of civil government in the capital. Samurai maintained security, and became an indispensable part of court politics.
The court was and remains a cultural center, and this era saw the rise of the warrior-courtier to power. Foremost among these warrior-courtiers and closest to the shogun in power were the kenin, the shogun's retainers who were men of proven loyalty, usually daimyos with their own followings of samurai. These kenin were supported with perquisites from the shogun: letters of confirmation and recognition of their landholdings (hence ensuring their economic status), honorary places in processions and state functions, and honorary appointments. However, if a kenin failed to live up to the standards expected of him, his title was given to someone more deserving,
Hereditary Shogunate Kozakura is quite large, and even the shogun could not control all of it. His power base was the same as that of the early emperors: a collection of families and loyal clans. These included the main family line, various branches and cadet families, and allies. None of these alone were sufficient to maintain control or defeat the others. Retaining real power required a careful balancing act. In the reign of the Emperor Ijo, 1242, the office of shogun became hereditary in the Hojo clan, passing from father to son or grandson. With this came all the ills and maneuvering that haunted the imperial succession.
Other families used marriage politics to dominate the shogun, the Takenaka family being the most recently successful in this. Children too young to govern were given the title of shogun, resulting in the creation of shogunal regents, or shikken. Today the position of shogun is on its way to becoming what the As a result of the Hojo War, a battle for succession to the shogunate, Hojo Kawakubo was named shogun in 1422. Takenaka Okawa became his shikken, and that remains the state of affairs today.
The political and military climate in Kozakura is fraught with tension. Recent events have been country. Samurai and adventurers will find plenty of opportunities to help or hinder one faction or the other under the current circumstances. The significant event which has shaped today’s problems in Kozakura is outlined below.
The Hojo War
Shogun Hojo Kikutake died in a fall from his horse at the age of 37 in 1415. His son, Todahiro, was only 17, rather than the legal age of 18. Hojo supporters disagreed over who was to become regent; the issue was complicated by the fact that, if Todahiro's two-year old son were to be made shogun, the shikken would be in power considerably longer than if Todahiro assumed the position. The dispute quickly grew into a question of which Hojo to support for the position of shogun, and the powerful families of Kozakura became divided along those lines.
Once war commenced, the bitter fighting raged on for six bloody years. When it was over Todahiro had lost. His eight-year-old son, Kawabuko, became shogun, and Hojo Todahiro was banished from Kozakura.
Kawabuko's maternal grandfather Takenaka Okawa, was appointed shikken, but this has angered and alienated families who favored his half-brother Takenaka Sugawara, the capable and popular general who commanded the pro-Kawabuko forces but who has no blood tie to the office. This has created a rift between the so-called northwestern and southwestern branches of the Takenaka clan. Okawa is supported mainly by the southwestern Takenaka, whose estates are concentrated in Fukudo, Naga-ido, and Naredo Provinces, and their allies. Sugawara is supported by the northwestern Takenaka, whose estates are concentrated in Dosaki, Iwari, and Sanyo Provinces, and their allies.
Now, nine years after the close of the Hojo War, Takenaka Okawa has been unable to unify the country, or completely strip his enemies of power. Tensions and unrest mount as the now 17-year-old shogun grows closer to legal age, a time when the shikken would have to step down from his position of power.
A nation undergoing a civil war is a poor partner for trade, spelljammers are advised to avoid Kozakura. The factions are likely to seize any spelljammers they can, searching for an advantage over their opponents. The many uninhabitted islands do provide reasonably secure bases for those wishing to make use of them, and spelljamming raiders of all sorts occasionally take advantage of the war to raid this or that small village. The larger cities tend to have an abundence of wu jen, as well as being militarily alert because of the civil war. They are not a tempting target.
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