Rokugan, the Emerald Empire, has stood for over a thousand years. Ever since the fall of the Kami, the Empire has stood against the Shadowlands Horde and the machinations of the Ninth Kami, Fu Leng. The seven Great Clans of the Empire have often squabbled and fought amongst themselves, but each has remained true to its duty as laid down by its founder. The Lion Clan, paragons of honour and the Emperor’s Right Hand have served as the bulk of the armies of the Empire. The Crane Clan, the cradle of civilisation have perfected the arts and stand guard over the Empire’s culture. The Phoenix Clan, masters of magic and the elements. The Crab Clan, the watchers on the Wall, guardians of the Shadowlands border. The Unicorn Clan, wanders and explorers, barbarians and samurai, the masters of cavalry. The Dragon Clan, a mystery wrapped in a riddle, who sit and watch the Empire. The Scorpion Clan, distrusted; the Underhand of the Emperor.
In the year 1124 the Scorpion Clan Champion, Bayushi Shoju, learned of a prophecy, that one day the Dark Kami, Fu Leng, would return and possess the last Hantei Emperor and ushering in an age of darkness. Shoju, with a heavy heart, led his Clan against the Emerald Throne. In a bloody coup, the Scorpion seized Otosan Uchi, the Imperial Capital, and Bayushi Shoju struck down Hantei XXXVIII, the Son of Heaven. Believing the Imperial heir to be dead in the chaos and confusion of the battle, Shoju ascended the Throne and proclaimed himself Emperor.
The other Clans, learning of the Scorpion’s treason, besieged the city. Lion Clan Champion Akodo Toturi fought his way to the Throne room. There, he confronted Shoju and killed him in a duel. Despairing that the Hantei were dead and the Empire left adrift, Toturi named himself regent and took the Throne. Unknown to him, the young prince was spirited away from the city by a group of Phoenix Clan samurai and ushered through a hasty gempukku. Returning to the capital, Hantei XXXIX takes the Throne and in his first act as Emperor, he dissolves the Scorpion Clan. Toturi protests this, reasoning that they had only followed their Champion as they should. For his temerity, the Emperor casts Toturi out, and strips the Akodo name from the Lion Clan. All Akodo are given a choice, swear fealty to another Lion family, seppukku or the life of a ronin. Many commit seppukku, many more swear fealty to the Matsu family.
The Emperor takes Bayushi Kachiko, the widow of Shoju as his wife to wipe out the name of the Bayushi forever. Toturi leaves the city in disgrace, no longer a true samurai but a ronin. Dark years follow, the Empire falling further and further towards catastrophy. The Emperor, a sickly child as it was, becomes weaker and weaker. Little known to any the Empress is behind this condition, as she is slowly poisoning the young Hantei in revenge. With the Empire fracturing the Shadowlands stirs. The minions of Fu Leng begin to attack the Empire in renewed numbers.
Crab Champion Hida Kisada makes a bargin with the devil, swearing a pact with the Shadowlands Horde to bring them under his command. Kisada, the Great Bear, sees the weakened Emperor and it disgusts him. If the Emperor can’t protect the Empire, then it falls to the next strongest of the Clan Champions to do so. And no one is stronger then Hida Kisada. Leading his forces north, Kisada seals the doom of an Empire.
Elsewhere, the Black Scrolls have been opened, the seals on the prison of the Ninth Kami weakening. Fu Leng reaches out and takes possession of the young Hantei XXXIX, who is too weak now to resist. The Clans have fallen to war, Lion against Crane, Phoenix against Scorpion. Each of the Great Clans is drawn into the war, the Clan War, the largest war since the Dawn of the Empire and the War against Fu Leng. As the Empire crumbles, Toturi draws together a large army and allies with the Dragon Clan.
Kisada and the Crab march on Otosan Uchi, and with their dark allies, take the city in a brutal battle. Kisada and his son Yakamo, enter the Throne room and face the Hantei. Expecting him to be weak and easy prey, Kisada is surprised when the Emperor easily casts aside Yakamo. Fearing his son and heir dead, Kisada becomes enraged and lashes out. This is the opening that the Emperor is waiting for. The Hantei is too weak for Fu Leng’s purposes, but Kisada is stong, powerful. The Dark Kami possesses the soul of Kisada as he strikes down Hantei XXXIX. With his new, strong body, Fu Leng takes the Emerald Throne as Kisada I. Hida Yakamo becomes Clan Champion of the Crab, but there is doubt in his heart as his father changes slowly before his eyes into someone unrecognisable.
The Second Day of Thunder, the time foretold when the mortal champions of the clans would fight Fu Leng and defeat him comes to pass. The Thunders, seven mortal champions and the Dragon Clan Champion Togashi Yokuni face Kisada I in the throne room. Yokuni reveals himself to be the Kami Togashi, founder of the Dragon Clan. He and Fu Leng do battle but the Dark One is too powerful and Togashi is killed. The Thunders are each defeated in turn until Doji Hoturi of the Crane gives his life so the others can escape. Badly wounded, Toturi leads the survivors out of the capital with the Mantis Clan under Yoritomo leading the retreat.
Ten years have passed since that day. In the decade since the Empire has become dark and evil, the fires of Jigoku blotting out the light of the Celestial Order. Kisada I still sits the throne, now the Obsidian Throne. To the south east of the mainland, in the Isles of Silk and Spice, the remaining Clans gather under the banner of the Shogun and await a day when they will retake their homes.