Setting Information.   Posted by GM.Group: 0
 GM, 1 post
 The Storyteller
Sun 1 Jul 2018
at 12:07
Setting Information

This game is happening during the Sengoku Jidai¹, the Warring States period. The countries of the world are constantly battling each other for land, power, and opportunity. To fight these battles, countries hired one or more clans of mercenary shinobi to represent their interests, the shinobi's loyalties ultimately going to the highest bidder. The constant warfare in turn led to constant death, creating an average lifespan of only thirty years. Children were the greatest victims of the era, forced to fight for their clan no differently than an adult would and, more often than not, being killed by older and more skilled opponents. In an attempt to avoid conflict caused by the ever-changing alliances and resulting vendettas, shinobi were in the habit of never divulging their family names to strangers.

No ninja villages exist. The world is filled with mercenary shinobi clans and mystical creatures. Ninjutsu is still being developed and some clans have yet to rise into prominence. They're part of the underground of society, the Jianghu.


The word Jianghu (江湖) literally translates to “rivers and lakes” but it means so much more.  Jianghu is the name of the brotherhood of outsiders that exists in the world.  It is the counterculture society of workers who made their living with the skill of their own two hands: craftsmen, beggars, thieves, street performers, fortune tellers, wandering healers, and many martial artists and ninjas. In the different countries, where education is usually valued over physical ability, Jianghu is the lowest rank of social order. Mainstream society belongs to the nobility and state officials. Its underbelly is the Jianghu.

The first known use of the word Jianghu can be found in the writings of the Sage of the Six Paths. He wrote:

“When the springs dry up and the fish are left stranded on the ground, they spew each other with moisture and wet each other down with spit — but it would be much better if they could forget each other in the rivers and lakes.”  (泉涸,鱼相与处于陆,相呴以湿,相濡以沫,不如相忘于江湖.)

In the Jianghu, instead of having the usual education expected by society, a young man or woman is be apprenticed to a master for three years, living and learning from their teacher full time. After three years of study passed, he will work alongside his master for two more years. In the fifth year, he will leave his master’s side, and enter the Jianghu on his own. This is also true for the martial arts. Traditional martial arts lineages are like a family. A teacher only have a handful of students. The relationship between the teacher and the student are very close, like a father-son relationship. This is reflected in the word for “master” (师父) which is made up of two characters, “teacher” and “father”. Students do not pay the teacher, but take care of household chores and were expected to care for the teacher in his old age. The first three years you trained martial arts, you were “entering the lineage” (入门) and getting to know the style.  After three years, a student would take on some responsibilities, including teaching younger students. The teacher may bring a student with him when he traveled. This would give the student life experience and allow him to learn from how the teacher acted out in the world. The student could also be sent out into the Jianghu on their own. Over time, this traditional model changed. Students could live at home with their families, and go to the teacher’s house to train or help out. They would visit with gifts on the teacher’s birthday or to celebrate the New Year.

Those living in the Jianghu follow their own moral code, which they view as superior to laws mandated by the government, which many saw as corrupt and incompetent. When traveling martial artists, performers or journeymen traveled to a new town, their first stop is always to pay respects to the local Jianghu leader. The Jianghu leader is one of an unofficial rank, a person treated with respect for their high level of skill, not a government representative.  If the Jianghu leader do not give you his/her blessing, nobody would interact with you. There is a strict procedure for meeting new people.

This hand gesture symbolizes the Jianghu: The closed right fist wrapped by the left hand. The five fingers of the right fist are the five major lands in the world (Land of Fire, Earth, Wind, Lightning and Water).  The four fingers on the left hand symbolize the four cardinal points.  “Five Lands and Four Cardinal Points” refers to a vast territory.  The gesture means that throughout the land, all humans are brothers and sisters, all humans are equal. When this gesture is done incorrectly, bowing with the left thumb not tucked in, it is a sign that you do not consider the person your equal. In the Jianghu, it is a challenge.

When you met another person from the Jianghu, they will probably ask your lineage. If the person was from the same lineage as you were, they might test you. For example, they could ask about people’s names, events from the lineage history, secret medicine formulas, or even test your martial skill. A student always had to be careful. You were never safe. Even while eating, sleeping, or going to the bathroom, a person could jump on you and test your skill.

The Land of Rain

Located between the Lands of Fire, Wind and Earth, the Land of Rain is a small country caught in the middle of a long lasting war between these countries. Instead of fighting, the Country of Rain try to profit with political intrigue and spying.

Located in the North of the country, a religious temple is a safe haven from anyone running from war. It is known as the Healing Rain Temple, a place where people can go to receive medical treatment and find refuge from the constant war. The temple is spearheaded by a mysterious man called Tian Long, a man specialized in medicine and healing. The temple is called like that because of the apparently perpetual rain that falls on it.

¹ The text was adapted by me from

This message was last edited by the GM at 13:07, Sun 01 July 2018.