Working Title: Joubu (Other options: Die By The Sword, Moonlight Warriors, Genkou by Moonlight)
Basic Concept: A world (possibly called Genkou), influenced by ancient Japan and by Exalted, of noble warriors (joubu, literally, hero), pledged (like samurai) to warrior-lords of various regions (shokou, meaning lords, princes).
Themes and Images:
1. A wilderness land with wild, crazy, and geomantically powerful landscapes such as impossibly huge mountains, gigantic cliffs, thousand-mile black swamps, huge waterfalls with palaces built on them, forests of massive trees with cities in their branches, et cetera.
2. There are two kinds of people- the Koushou, who are civilized people whose society is based on the feudal system, and the Rurousha, who are nomadic barbarian folk.
3. The Koushou are a hyper-ritualistic, Japanese-themed society
4. The Joubu are like Exalted or Ronin Warriors- they are gifted with great power, and have magical armor suits and weapons.
5. Big, anime-style, over-the-top magical action, and similar drama.
6. Instead of Monsters, we have Kaibutsu, monsters who are really strange and really powerful. Well suited for battling Joubu.
7. Very spiritual world- mix Princess Mononoke, Exalted, Final Fantasy, and such. Monks, nomad shamans, geomancers, wild spirits, oni, and all of that.
A huge central continent with three lobes. On the outer edges, island chains. South of this land, there is the little known cold land, where dwell religious fanatics.
Varies from place to place, but is generally grandiose and wild, with amazing things you wouldn't see on earth- hundred mile canyons bridged by thousands of thin stone bridges, natural sculptures, titanic forests where even the roots are larger than a normal building, mountain chains which split the clouds, running thousands of miles, huge black jungle-swamps.
Earth standard, plus crazy, wacked-out, over-the-top specimens. The Kaibutsu are all over the place, in addition to regular animals.
Nothing new except for various magical things and stuff.
Joubu armor and weapons are made from Eisha, a rare and magical metal. Jade has magical properties.
Races and Peoples:
Koushou- the civilized people, who dwell in magical palaces and cities all throughout the land, ruled by the shokou, the lords, and whose warriors are the joubu. They are all Asian-ish in appearance, though they have more diverse hair and skin tones.
Rurousha- the nomadic people, who dwell all throughout the wilderness. They are led by their shamans, who are all powerful geomancers. They look the same as Koushou, the difference is mainly cultural.
Southlanders- the Koushou call them "nanpou", the southern. They live on the icy southern continent, and are rarely seen by Koushou or Rurousha. They are religious fanatics, and regard Koushou and Rurousha as heretics and demon-worshippers. They are essentially Caucasian in appearance.
The Rajhava- see the thread. The Koushou call them "sennin". Rajhava cults are threats to both Koushou and Rurousha, because Rajhava create their own strange Kaibutsu out of dreams.
The Bakemono- this reclusive, metallic race dwells in the mountains, and little is known of them (They are the Duerga; see thread).
Traditionally counted from the first time that Terashi (the sun god) rose upon the world. Cyclical Chinese-style calendar (Year of the Rat, Hound, Horse, Snake, et cetera)
The Kaigi- this is a ritualistic conclave of all the shokou of the Koushou, called every two years to dictate major changes among the Koushou. Not only do they establish the framework for Koushou laws, they also have the authority to change customs and even basic beliefs, which they do frequently, and often arbitrarily. The purpose of the Kaigi was originally to renew and recreate rituals and prayers to the Kami (gods), but as the purpose of shokou expanded from ritual rulers to actual lords, they became the arbiters of all above-mentioned things.
The Eppei- originally meaning a procession of troops, this is the secret society/religion to which all joubu belong.
The Shouka- the competing merchant houses.
The various governments of the shokou, and special pacts among joubu.
Laws and Morals:
Depends on what kokudo (realm) of which shokou you are in. Every two years, the Kaigi meet to discuss laws, customs, and beliefs among the Koushou. At the Kaishi, frameworks are established for the shokou to work with in creating the laws for their kokudo.
Thus, laws among the Koshou are often arbitrary and transient, and may change absolutely within two years.
Laws among the Koushou are also highly ritualistic and based on the wishes of the Saishi (priests of the Kami).
Among the Rurousha, laws depend on which tribe you are in, though most of the nomads tend to have "loose" sexual morals (as we would percieve it) and are full of highly ritualized rites of passage and meetings.
Also- Rurousha have complicated rituals which are required when meeting or greeting. These rituals vary from tribe to tribe, but are often quite long and stilted- some take hours.
Among the Koushou, age and familial ties are venerated. To have a famous ancestor is to be famous. One must obey the orders of ones parents and grandparents absolutely; when one is a grandparent or parent, it is one's responsibility to guide the family with wisdom and strength.
Thus, clan ties are also important. Your clan is your strength- some clans even behave like mafia families.
Among the Rurousha, the family is usually a huge, nebulous affair- nobody is quite sure who is related to who, so it is often taken for granted that every adult male in the village was the father of every child with every adult woman. Typically, it isn't that important to the Rurousha, and they do not understand why the Koushou keep such intricate and ritualistic family ties.
Shokou- the lords, nobles, rulers. non-permeable, passed on through inheritance or through military coup by a joubu.
Joubu- the "heroes", the warriors. Also an inherited class. Some clans are Joubu clans, others are not. The Joubu are the protectors, arbiters, and celebrities of the society. They are also very powerful and very magical. Only the fact that the Shokou are powerful as well stops them from taking over society.
Saishi- the priesthood of the Kami. This social class can be joined by one of any other class.
Heimin- a blanket term- anyone not of the other classes. Generally, heimin clans are always heimin clans, and there is no upward mobility, except perhaps to join the saishi or the gyousha.
Gyousha- the merchant class. They have something of a symbiotic relationship with the joubu- the need protection from the Kaibutsu, while the joubu need the Eisha, Jade, and other magic stuff that the merchant houses provide.
Eta- slaves and outcastes. Eta are always eta. They are often confined to dank undercities.
Shaman, warriors, and everyone else.
Centered in the hands of the (ridiculously powerful) shokou, though they are influenced by the saishi and the joubu.
Tribes are headed by a "pathfinder" (chief) and a shaman. Generally, pathfinders are the either the wiliest, strongest, or in rare cases, eldest of the tribe, and are elected and removed from power by vote.
Very limited trade among the kokudo (realms of the shokou) due to the vast expanses of bizarre and magical wilderness between them, and the wild Kaibutsu. Most trade is facilitated by the Shouka, the merchant houses.
Very Shinto-esque veneration of the spirits that exist everywhere. The major ones are called Kami, gods, and they are venerated greatly. There is no "greatest" god, though Terashi, the Sun Kami, is a popular one. Worship is very passive. One makes offerings to altars and burns prayer strips, or wears items and symbols which attract the favor of various Kami.
Monks who dwell in the wilderness are often pledged to various powerful Kami or nature spirits (Kodama).
The Rurousha do the same, though they venerate a tribal spirit or totem rather than many gods.
The Koushou are feudal Japan, almost exactly (with the addition of the artifacts and wonders associated with the joubu), while the Rurousha vary from early Bronze Age to Iron Age.
There are no horses.
In places where it is feasible, some Joubu ride huge fish, flightless birds, or even giant moths.
The society of the Koushou harness all manner of strange animals and Kaibutsu- huge spiders, massive tentacle-things, great carp, et cetera.
What to do in the meantime but paint, write, draw?
The shokou of the Koushou are constantly feuding and fighting amongst each other.
The Koushou and the Rurousha don't always get along.
There are always Kaibutsu, ready to pounce.
The Akuma (dark gods) and the Oni (demons) are always waiting to bust through the walls of reality and unleash their akuma-joubu (fiend heroes) on the mortals.
There are the Rajhava (sennin).
There are evil sorcerors, cultists, and the like.
There are three kinds of magic:
Mahou, the ritual magic of the Koushou
Shamanism of the Rurousha
Void Magic, the magic of evil.
In addition, there are the miraculous powers of the Joubu, and the powers of the Rajhava.
Crunch-powers for the Joubu, and capability to learn Mahou (after studying with monks and such)
Rurousha characters can tame beasts, use Shamanism