In the Rokugani tongue, Ninja (忍者) meaning "one who endures." Ninja were highly skilled assassins and saboteurs who prefered stealth and trickery to the open and honorable combat engaged in by other members of the Samurai class, though most ninja adhere to their own code of honor. The Ninja of Rokugan mostly came from the deception-prone Scorpion Clan, although it had been rumored that many other clans make use of ninja of their own. Even though publicly there were no longer supposed to be any ninja in the Emerald Empire as the result of an Imperial edict, there were still ninja operating across Rokugan in secret.

Rokugan view on Ninja Edit

Ninja were considered eta, and therefore non-persons. It would not be a crime to kill a ninja. [1]

Creation Edit

After Fu Leng's defeat Hantei turned to Bayushi and requested him to create a system of gathering information from the other clans to ensure his dynasty's tenure on the Throne. Hantei told he wished him to organize an order of spies, but if his trust was betrayed Bayushi's line would be erased. Bayushi accepted and the Emperor's spy network was born, they were known as the ninja. [2]

Beginnings Edit

The Scorpion Clan gave gold to a wiling ser­vant and told them to watch, listen and remember. Once a servant learned how to watch and listen, they began to learn how to move at night without being detected. Once they learned how to move, they began to learn how to climb. The Scorpion spies began paying geisha and actors to teach them acting and make­ up techniques in order to give them the "invisibility" they would need. [2]

Attempt at Elimination Edit

During the rule of Hantei X the Otomo family, jealous of the role of the Bayushi ninja network (whose functions overlapped theirs) started a campaign of rumors. When these reached the ears of the Emperor, he ordered the Scorpion Clan Champion Bayushi Hajioki to dismantle the network. The order was given, and many ninja, including Hajioki's own brother Bayushi Aramoro, committed seppuku. Since his time, the ninja have been considered extinct in the Emerald Empire. [3] [4]

The Ninja Myth Edit

Even though Bayushi Hajioki was ordered to dismantle the network, he didn't obey that order. Instead, he planned together with the daimyo of the Shosuro, Soshi, and Yogo families, and decided to charge Shosuro Nodage with the mission of creating a false conspiracy that would divert the attention from the real operations of the Scorpion.

Nodage did his best job. The Scorpion spread rumors of a group of ninja that didn't obey Hantei X's order. That group called themselves "the ninja" (which was most probably the first use of the term). According to the legend, the ghost of Bayushi Aramoro appeared to them, urging the group to gain revenge for his death and the destruction of the Scorpion spy network. The men faked their own deaths out of respect for their dead master, and then used dark magics to transform their bodies and souls into shadow itself. These "ninja" were said to be the power behind the wave of deaths that followed, of every person that was responsible for the death of Aramoro. Each murder was specially gruesome, and no trace of the assassin was left behind.

As soon as the illusion was gaining momentum, low-ranking Scorpion spies began dressing in black clothes and provoking "ninja sightings" all over Rokugan. While they would distract the credulous and superstitious people of the Emerald Empire, a more discreet assassin would stealthily complete the murder. With time, the myth continued gaining momentum even without the Scorpion's direct action, as many greedy and ambitious people found the stories of men made of shadow that employ maho never seen before to be a perfect cover for their own ploys. [4]

One year to the date after the death of Bayushi Aramoro, the Emerald Champion was found dead in his home. His head and hands were missing: the traditional punishment for those who were found guilty of practicing black magic. [5]

Ninja in the twelfth century Edit

After one thousand years, the ninja were their own distinct Clan. They did not bring members of the Great Clans inlo their ranks, but they had been known to recruit from the ranks of the peasant class. The Bayushi, the Goju and the Ninube family were the three families more related with Ninja. [5]

Ninja name Edit

During an attack of black-garbed assassins, a young student of Agasha Kitsuki called Kitsuki Ikawa heard the words "Ninja, tori!" ("Ninja, do what I say!"). Thus, he assumed the assassins were called "ninja," a word he had never heard before. However, the words that were actually spoken were "Niwatori," or "Chicken", the nickname Shosuro used for first year apprentices, for the little egg bombs (nageteppo) they were for to carry. Ikawa misheard the phrase and the "ninja" were born. [6]

Enemies Edit

The biggest enemy of the ninja have been the Kitsuki family of the Dragon Clan. In their quests for the truth, the Kitsuki occasionally pick up the trails of ninja who do not wish to be traced back to their missions. As such, quite a few Kitsuki have been assassinated over the years, and each time, more Kitsuki fill their place to investigate the new clues and learn more about the ninja, although rarely who they are. [7]

A Deeper Shadow Edit

Goju Ninja

A Goju Ninja

There was something more to the ninja story than a simple myth though. Many trustworthy sources claimed that the ninja indeed used the dark magics they were famous for, and many samurai dedicated their lives to uncovering the deeper truth about this conspiracy. Among them was Kitsuki Kaagi, a magistrate who dedicated himself to the study of what really were the ninja. However, he disappeared without a trace before the Scorpion could learn what he was able to uncover. The only thing that was left behind was his journal. Only one Bayushi gained access to that journal, and he was maddened by whatever he saw. The man attacked the Shosuro Daimyo of the time, Shosuro Hametsu, screaming "He isn't human!" as he struck a dagger into the daimyo's chest. Luckily, Hametsu lived, and the mad attacker was killed on spot. [4]

Ninja Customs Edit

Due to the nature of their duties, ninja have to violate the honorable tenets of Bushido at every turn. For this reason, ninja groups usually adopt their own, slightly different code of honor. These vary from family to family, but almost always involve some form of the Three Oaths, originally devised by the Scorpion:

  • Secrecy: Ninja almost always operate under a cover identity or another. Often, even their own family does not know about their covert activities. This protects not only the ninja himself, but also his associates.
  • Loyalty: A ninja can only depend on his compatriots, and they only on him, making loyalty even more important than for normal samurai. He must also be prepared to deny allegiance to his lord when caught, and face the consequences alone.
  • Duty: A ninja's duty is even more arduous than for others, as it often alienates him from his friends and family. In addition, he must be ready to solve difficult tasks on his own, often at the price of his own life, without the prospect of eternal glory and veneration a bushi enjoys.

Few ninja decide to retire to a monastery, instead turning into advisors, low-risk yojimbo or other tasks where their experience is valuable, but their failing flesh not too much of a hindrance. Those that do sometimes become targets for their former brethren, who fear some of their secrets may be revealed to the outside world. [8]

Scorpion Ninja Edit

The Scorpion themselves did not refer to themselves as "ninja". Their official term was "shinobi", but they saw themselves as plain samurai. If their lord commanded them to dress in black, lurk in the shadows, and kill with poison, so be it. Their honor was stronger for not questioning what must be done. As a matter of fact, they strongly resented the term "ninja" because of the Goju assassins who proudly bear the name "ninja". The Scorpion shinobi spent a large amount of resources to hunt down Goju and kill them. [9]

Scorpion shinobi were largely run through the Shosuro family's Shinobi School, which often recruited members from other Scorpion schools if they showed the proper talent. [9]

Ninja members Edit

For the known Ninja through history, see the listing of notable Ninja.

Ninja Schools Edit

The following is a list of the Ninja schools:

Organization Family School
Crab Clan Hiruma family Hiruma Stalker
Crane Clan Daidoji family Daidoji Spymaster
Lion Clan Ikoma family Ikoma Spymaster
Phoenix Clan Sesai family Sesai Ninja
Scorpion Clan Bayushi family Bayushi Saboteur
Bayushi family The Folding Leg (Path)
Shosuro family Shosuro Actor
Shosuro family Shosuro Infiltrator
Shosuro family Shadow Blades (Path)
Shosuro family Shosuro Shinobi
Shosuro family Shosuro Yojimbo
Any family The Scorpion's Tail
Any family Shadow Hunter
Spider Clan Goju family Goju Ninja
Ninube family Ninube Ninja
Kolat - Kolat Assassin
Ronin - Canopy of Knives (Path)
- Cutting the Weave (Path)
- Hateru Ninja (Path)
- Koga Ninja (Path)

Known Ninja Feats Edit

Ninja 2

A Ninja

This is a list of the known Ninja feats:

See also Edit

External References Edit


  1. Roleplaying in the Emerald Empire, p. 25
  2. 2.0 2.1 Roleplaying in the Emerald Empire, p. 185
  3. Way of the Ninja, p. 7
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Way of the Scorpion, pp. 27-28
  5. 5.0 5.1 Roleplaying in the Emerald Empire, p. 187
  6. Way of the Scorpion, p. 89
  7. Way of the Dragon, p. 34
  8. Way of the Ninja, p. 13
  9. 9.0 9.1 Legend of the Five Rings; Third Edition, p. 141

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