Fushiki no Oni

Oni were the demonic monstrosities that made up the most powerful forces of the Shadowlands. Oni only gained a physical presence in the realm of mortals if spawned by an Oni Lord or by being summoned from Jigoku by someone willing to share their name in exchange for power. [1]

Habitat[edit | edit source]

This could lead to an oni being found practically anywhere in the Empire, although they were most commonly found in the Shadowlands. If summoned within Rokugan they would remain with their master until their freedom was gained. A free oni would usually go on a rampage to express its happiness, and then if still alive migrated south into the Shadowlands. [1]

Personality[edit | edit source]

The personality of an oni was rooted in the bestiality of Jigoku, but some of its overlord or summoner could influence it. If spawned it could be very similar to its overlord, but if summoned the oni would after prolonged co-existing with the summoner begin to act in its master's nature. [1]

In fact it appeared that summoned oni were quite weak-willed creatures. Most often the more powerful spirits of Jigoku could resist the shugenja's summon and thus only lesser spirits could be summoned to Rokugan. Summoned oni were indeed less powerful than oni spawned by Fu Leng. [2]

However, it would be a terrible folly to think that such an oni was weaker than the summoner, be it in power or will. [2]

Summoning Oni[edit | edit source]

Summonning an Oni

Summoning an Oni seemed very simple at first. The shugenja would have to take the risks necessary to learn the maho knowledge needed and seek out the summoning scrolls. [2]

The ritual required the caster to have a proper name for the future Oni (See Naming an Oni). The shugenja must first draw a circle of powdered bones on the ground. At the center of the circle, the summoner must then put a scroll with a name of a living human being on it. While the summoner spilled blood all over the name scroll, the ritual described on the summoning scroll would procede, destroying the scroll at the end of the ritual. [3]

At this moment a gate to Jigoku would open to let loose one of the spirits inside. The shugenja must then name the spirit, declared power over the oni and made his demand. There was no way to know which form would take an oni before it was summoned. [4]

The oni would then obey, argue the demand or even rebell against the shugenja. If its will was weaker than that of the summoner, the oni was compelled by the summon to carry out the demand of the shugenja. If its will was stronger, the oni could escape back to Jigoku. [4]

Spirits of Jigoku[edit | edit source]

Spirits of Jigoku had no natural form as was usually understood. Kami were bundles of energy, positive or negative, and attached to elements. Kansen were the same as kami but attached to corrupted elements of the world. Jigoku's spirits were nontheless different from kami and kansen as they were formed from the invisible twining of the dark and corrupted energy. That was why, when summoned to Ningen-do - which was said to be the World of Forms - they must be given a name to bring it to physical existence. [2]

Naming an Oni[edit | edit source]

Any name could not do, as an invented name, which had no significance in the world or for the summoner had no roots in the realm the oni had been summoned to. Thus, only the name of a living human being had enough power for the spirit to subsist on. [2]

One of the following conditions would satisfy the oni and allowed it to enter the physical world: [5]

1) The host voluntarily surrendered his name to the summoner or without their active resistance. Many shugenja resorted to giving their own name since seeking someone foolish enough to give their name to an oni proved often too difficult a task. [5]
For further information on this section, please see Okura no Oni
2) If the host owed the summoner his life, the summoner might give the host's name to an oni. Once the name had been given, nothing could take it back save the destruction of the oni. [5]
For further information on this section, please see Hideo no Oni
3) Certain oni summoning rituals allowed an oni to manifest a small part of itself in the mortal world, usually a hand, eye, or tooth. If a host could be induced to accept the oni's gift as part of his own body, his name had effectively been given to the oni. [5]
For further information on this section, please see Yakamo no Oni

Link to the namer[edit | edit source]

The Oni and its namer were linked. They could see through each other's eyes and could track one another from any distance.

The oni assumed most often the dominant role in the relationship with their namer. They could hear every thought, knew every secret hidden by their namer. They would also infused their namer's dreams with glimpses of Jigoku. Those effects developed gradually, and the namer would only sense them after it was too late. The external effects of the oni siphoning the namer's chi were similar to the Taint: [6]

  • Irritability, loss of temper, bouts of anger and murderous intentions
  • Loss of appetite, fatigue, amnesia
  • Sleep deprivation, sleepwalking
  • Symptoms of possession, talking with a voice not one's own, madness

Eventually, the oni would take total control over their namer if it was not banished to Jigoku in time.

Banishing an Oni[edit | edit source]

An oni would take over the namer's soul if it was not sent back to the Realm of Evil. The ritual Blessing of Purity could sever the link between namer and oni, as well as the spell Banish Oni. Badly performed, the ritual would send back the oni to Jigoku but not sever the link (same case as when the summoning ritual failed and the oni escaped back to Jigoku).

An unsevered link led to the oni overtaking the namer's soul. The namer would then become a pawn of the Realm of Evil. [7]

The Shadow[edit | edit source]

Even the oni were not immune to the touch of the Nothing. When their faces began to vanish away, they were chained deep within the Shadowlands and left to die there with the madness that followed. [8]

Rogue Oni[edit | edit source]

Seldom do summoned oni escapes into Rokugan. Escaping meant the Oni had broken their bonds to the namer and their summoner. It was not known how those oni managed to break free, but the number which do were very few, which was cold comfort in the face of the damage those oni had done to the Empire.

Speculations run wild on how an oni could break free of control. Some said they do so by devouring the namer's soul, others say that they banished the namer's soul to Jigoku in their stead.

What was known was that an oni, once freed, destroyed the body of its namer. As if the oni had actually burst from within the namer, a bloody mass was all that remained of their namesake. It was the destruction of the original owner of the name madesthe existence of the oni became permanent in the Realm of Mortals.

Once freed, the oni became an Oni Lord, gaining spectacular amounts of power and the ability to spawn other oni. [9]

The shugenja who were victims of their own foolishness had had their names stricken from recorded history, Kuni Mokuna however mentioned who they were:

Oni and Daigotsu[edit | edit source]

The Dark Lord of the Shadowlands, the human Daigotsu, might possess any oni he could see, at will. The oni's soul was aware of all actions performed while Diagotsu commanded its body. Daigotsu might return to his own body at will, regardless of range, or might shift his soul to another oni within sight. [10]

Master of Jigoku[edit | edit source]

In 1173 Daigotsu became the Master of Jigoku, binding the realm to his own will. The oni were child of the realm who possessed free will, and might reject the Dark Lord's commands. If that was the case, they would flee to the mortal realm to escape his wrath. [11]

Notable Oni[edit | edit source]

See Notable Oni for a list of some of the known oni to emerge from the Shadowlands.

See Also[edit | edit source]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Legend of the Five Ríngs; Third Edition, p. 282
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 The Book of the Shadowlands, p. 93
  3. The Book of the Shadowlands, pp. 94-96
  4. 4.0 4.1 The Book of the Shadowlands, p. 95
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Way of the Shadowlands, p. 116
  6. The Book of the Shadowlands, p. 96
  7. The Book of the Shadowlands, p. 97
  8. Darkness Beyond Darkness (Honor Bound flavor)
  9. The Book of the Shadowlands, p. 98
  10. Bloodspeakers, p. 63
  11. Goddesses, Part 4, by Shawn Carman
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