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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 outmanoeuvre 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.
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 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.
Note: Dates in this article are given using the Kozakuran year. There was 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) - this inconsistency was resolved by the Grand History of the Realms, confirming that the Kozakuran year is indeed DR+73. It is also worth noting that the Kozakuran records are not kept solely 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 Showaji 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.
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.
Around 1458, as the Spellplague was ravaging Kara-Tur, Kozakura became embroiled in a civil war. Several factions in the nation went to war with each other and bandits, such as Yoshiie and his two-hundred strong group, raided the homesteads of the peasantry.
Behind the ScenesEdit
- Dungeon #7, "Samurai Steel"
- Dungeon #17, "The Waiting Room of Yen-Wang-Yeh"
- Dungeon #33, "Mad Gyoji"
- Dungeon #195, "The Five Deadly Shadows"
- ↑ Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume II). (TSR, Inc), p. 127. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
- ↑ Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume II). (TSR, Inc), p. 150. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
- ↑ Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume II). (TSR, Inc), p. 139. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 David "Zeb" Cook (1986). Swords of the Daimyo. (TSR, Inc), p. 12. ISBN 0-88038-273-2.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume II). (TSR, Inc), p. 144. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
- ↑ Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume II). (TSR, Inc), p. 149. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 David "Zeb" Cook (1986). Swords of the Daimyo. (TSR, Inc), p. 17. ISBN 0-88038-273-2.
- ↑ Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume II). (TSR, Inc), p. 151. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
- ↑ Tim Eagon (October 2011). “Ecology of the Hengeyokai”. In Steve Winter ed. Dragon #404 (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 49–58.
- ↑ Roger E. Moore (May 1992). The Maelstrom's Eye. (TSR, Inc.), p. 11. ISBN 1-56076-344-2.
- ↑ Template:Cite Dragon 134