War of Spirits
Location: Rokugan
Date: 1138 - 1150
Major Forces: Rokugan, Spirits
Generals: Toturi I, Hantei XVI
Battles of Rokugan

The War of Spirits resulted from an attempt by Hantei XVI to overthrow the Toturi dynasty. With vast numbers of spirit samurai who found themselves once again alive after the Battle of Oblivion's Gate the Empire became overpopulated, and could not support the influx of thousands of new fully grown adults. Since the circumstances of their new found life was unnatural, Toturi I ordered all spirits to commit honorable suicide to relieve the Empire of the burden and restore the balance of the Celestial Order. While many did this, a large portion were dissatisfied with the Empire they found themselves in, and many had old feuds, dreams, and goals they felt they could now accomplish with a second chance at life. The war would last from 1138 to 1150. To his credit, Hantei XVI was able to unite a mixed clan force with massive generational gaps dividing it, and effectively rampaged across the Empire, spreading huge amounts of destruction.

Preamble[edit | edit source]

Hantei XVI wished to seize the Imperial Throne and since his return began to plot to create unstability in the Empire ruled by Toturi I. A Crane Yasuki returned spirit, Yasuki Masashi, was horrified his family had sworn fealty to the Crab, and demanded the Yasuki once again join the Crane. Hida Tsuneo influenced his former clan to ensure the result would be a bloody conflict, prompting a series of small border clashes between Crab troops (mostly mortals) and Crane forces comprised mainly of spirits. [1]

Hantei's Demands[edit | edit source]

Hantei XVI, the Steel Chrysanthemum

After years of preparation and monitoring the political climate in Rokugan, the returned spirit of Hantei XVI demanded in 1138 that the Jade Throne be relinquished to him as the last remaining Hantei. Toturi I refused, stating the Hantei dynasty was dead and the blessing of the heavens was on him and his line. Hantei XVI and most of the reborn spirits declared war on the Empire to claim the throne. The conflict turned into a slow war of attrition between the living and the "dead". [2]

Tsuneo's decision[edit | edit source]

Hida Tsuneo stood before the Emperor Toturi, sword in hand. He would not return to Jigoku without a fight. Whether the Emperor kill the spirits or whether they went willingly was all the same. They could not ignore their duties, and Toturi could not ignore his honor. The Spirit Wars had begun. [3]

The War across the Empire[edit | edit source]

The Crab[edit | edit source]

Much to the Crab Clan's chagrin, at Hantei XVI's side was Hida Tsuneo, a former Crab Clan Champion and acknowledged to be perhaps one of the greatest generals the Crab had ever produced. The Crab Clan found itself in the difficult position of continuing to defend the Kaiu Wall from the horde and defending against Spirit army attacks from the north. An understanding was established, in which the Crab did not place its full might into the War and the Spirit armies left the Kaiu Wall alone. This however did not stop the Spirit armies from taking many of the large rice fields the Crab used to produce the bulk of their food. [citation needed] The Battle of Fallen Ground was the first battle of Tsuneo's forces. Though the Lion carried the day, the victory came at a terrible price. [4]

One of the few noted confrontations among the Crab was at Sunda Mizu Dojo, where Hida Tsuneo led an ineffective siege against his former dojo. [5] Some Nezumi, most notably the Shadow Runners Tribe, assisted Crab Clan Champion Hida O-Ushi in her battle with Hida Tsuneo. [6]

The Crane[edit | edit source]

The pro-Toturi Crane forces were led by Daidoji Uji [7] and Regent Kakita Kaiten. During the war, the returned spirit of Isawa Akiko sought refuge among the Crane, eventually leading to her marriage to Doji Kurohito. [8] Unbeknownst to the Empire, Hantei XVI was hunting Akiko and any other spirit from the dawn of the empire who had knowledge of the artifact Isawa's Last Wish. [9] The Crane also managed to maintain their political standing during the war, and among the pro-Toturi spirits was Kakita Yoshi, who took up his position as Imperial Advisor to Toturi I after his return from Yomi. [10] The Daidoji Harriers were active in protecting the Crane provinces from the Steel Chrysanthemum's forces. [11] The Asahina denied the lands of the Crane cutting the bridges into their lands. [12]

The Dragon[edit | edit source]

Among the most noted of Hantei XVI's lieutenants in the war was Agasha Tamori, the Tainted shugenja thought fallen at the Battle of Oblivion's Gate. Tamori joined the spirits so that he could take revenge against Rokugan, but when Hantei's plans were foiled at the end of the war, Tamori fully gave in to his Taint and becomes the Dark Oracle of Fire. As part of the treaty ending the war, Toturi I created the Tamori family under the leadership of Tamori's daughter, Tamori Shaitung. [13]

It is known that Togashi Hoshi ordered Mirumoto troops against the spirit armies, [14] but the full extent of Dragon involvement in the war is unknown.

Akodo Ginawa

The Lion[edit | edit source]

The Lion, mostly due to the efforts of Akodo Ginawa, managed to persuade many of the returned Lion spirits to join Toturi's side in the war. The influx of ancient Akodo tacticians was a major boon to the recently reborn Akodo family that was still recovering from the events of the Clan War and the War Against Shadow. [15] Despite this, there was still a notable traditionalist Lion faction that fought on the side of Hantei XVI during the war out of duty rather than any affection for the Hantei himself. [16]

The Mantis[edit | edit source]

The Mantis Clan as a whole was oddly absent for much of the fighting during the War of the Spirits. While many others felt that the new Great Clan had abandoned the Empire to its fate, the truth is that Yoritomo Aramasu was leading his own war in the Ivory Kingdoms to restore their Maharaja to power.

Although the Mantis armies themselves did not take part in the war, there were individuals and groups within the clan that took part independently. Yoritomo Kitao and her ship, the Bitter Flower helped smuggle weapons and supplies to Hantei XVI's armies throughout the war then used the profit to outfit mercenaries on Toturi's side. [17] Tsuruchi Ichiro and the entire Tsuruchi family sided with Toturi's forces, and put their Tsuruchi Bounty Hunters to good use against the spirit armies. [18] Moshi Shanegon and his mercenaries were hired by the Lion Clan after Hantei XVI rejected Shangeon's price. [19]

The Phoenix[edit | edit source]

Kakita Yoshi, Hantei XVI and Tsukune

In 1150, as the war was turning in favor of Toturi, Hantei XVI fled to Phoenix lands and blackmailed Phoenix Clan Champion Shiba Tsukune to side with the spirit armies. To accomplish this, he ordered Agasha Tamori and Hida Tsuneo to kidnap the Phoenix's children.

After a failed attempt was made by Isawa Sachi, Shiba Aikune and Isawa Nakamuro to rescue Isawa Yaruko, daughter of Isawa Taeruko, young Yaruko was murdered by the forces of the Steel Chrysanthemum to provide an example to the rest. Following this brutality, the Phoenix grudgingly agreed to aid the spirit armies, in order to preserve the future of their clan. [2] [20]

The Scorpion[edit | edit source]

Of all the Great Clans, the Scorpion were the most instrumental in Toturi's victory over the spirit armies. The returned spirit Bayushi Atsuki, masquerading as Shosuro Furuyari, created a vast network of spies to monitor Hantei's forces and gain his trust, [21] while Scorpion Clan Champion Bayushi Yojiro manipulated Hantei into moving his forces through Beiden Pass, [22] when Bayushi Baku cunningly had gained the trust of Hantei XVI and promptly led him into epic defeat in a trap. [23] Once at Beiden Pass, the Scorpion saboteurs and Phoenix shugenja collapsed the mountain pass onto Hantei's forces, crushing his attempt to take the Imperial Throne. [24]

The Unicorn[edit | edit source]

The Returned Spirits seized through subterfuge the City Between the Rivers, while other forces attempted to take the City of the Rich Frog and White Shore Lake. [25]

One of the most notable battles of the war was the Battle of Shiro Iuchi, which took place roughly midway through the war. The Steel Chysanthemum's armies had surrounded Shiro Iuchi and had almost stormed it until the Imperial Legions, Bayushi Paneki and the Scorpion armies, and the forces of Morito arrived, eventually routing the spirit armies. [26] Paneki had poisoned the food of the spirit army the day before the attack. [27] The decisive victory led to the recognition of Morito and his followers as the Ox Clan in 1145. [28] They later abandoned Shiro Iuchi to push Hantei's main forces into Beiden Pass. [29]

Other groups[edit | edit source]

The Kolat[edit | edit source]

Surprisingly, the Kolat were heavily active on the side of Toturi's forces during the war. To the Ten Masters, it was much more compatible to support the status quo rather than allow someone with Hantei blood return to the throne. [30]


The Monkey Clan[edit | edit source]

Monkey Clan Champion Toku personally led units on the side of Toturi. However, the Virtuous Keep of the Monkey did fall to Hantei XVI's armies during the war. [31]

Famine[edit | edit source]

The Dragon of Fire had taken residence in the mountains of the Great Climb, forcing the Kitsuki and Mirumoto to leave their homes and migrated to Ki-Rin's Shrine, [32] and Kanawa Taki. [33] The lands were still covered by ashes when the War of Spirits began. [34]

Hida Tsuneo took the Hida lands, and the Daidoji and Asahina fields were in flames. [35] The waters Kumo had raised laid the Doji plains to waste, and the Scorpion lands were salted by the Spirit Army. [34]

If Tsuneo had been used it to press the advantage, the Empire would be lost. [35]

The End of the War[edit | edit source]

Daidoji Uji and Bayushi Yojiro engineered a way to make a crushing defeat of the spirit armies. [36] In 1150 the majority of the spirit army was led into Beiden Pass by the Scorpion Clan in an attempt to gain an advantage. In reality Phoenix and Scorpion shugenja were lying in wait to collapse the pass onto the army. Most of the Hantei's army was killed, including Hida Tsuneo, Hantei XVI's general. [2]

With the bulk of his forces gone the Hantei enters into negotiations for peace with Toturi. Even though the Empire could easily crush the remaining spirits Toturi shows mercy upon them by allowing them to return to Yomi. This was done by the Phoenix creating a portal the spirits could go through on a cliff near Otosan Uchi, in the Cliffs of Golden Tears, which they called the Leaping Place. As a part of Hantei's treaty, Toturi's youngest son Naseru would take the Hantei name and be fostered to Hantei XVI's home in Otosan Uchi and the remains of the Agasha family in the Dragon Clan would change their name to Tamori. [2]

After the end of the war, Hantei XVI went into house arrest at Kyuden Otomo. [37]

Aftermath[edit | edit source]

The War of Spirits raged for twelve years, making it the second longest conflict in the history of Rokugan. However, unlike the longest conflict, the Crane-Crab War, the War of Spirits was spread out throughout the entire Empire, making it far more devastating. Rokugan was also coming off of two major wars already, with only roughly two years separating the Clan War and the War Against the Shadow and just five between that war and the War of Spirits. [citation needed]


  1. Imperial Histories, p. 220
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying Game, Third Edition, p. 24
  3. Quiet Tombs (Spirit Wars flavor)
  4. Fallen Ground (Spirit Wars flavor)
  5. Way of the Samurai, p. 16
  6. The Last Rememberer, Part One, by Rich Wulf
  7. Secrets of the Crane, p. 34
  8. Secrets of the Crane, p. 45
  9. Secrets of the Crane, p. 46
  10. Secrets of the Crane, p. 69
  11. Way of the Ninja, p. 68
  12. Bridged Pass (Spirit Wars flavor)
  13. Secrets of the Dragon, p. 10
  14. Way of the Samurai, p. 34
  15. Secrets of the Lion, p. 8
  16. Secrets of the Lion, p. 39
  17. Rokugan, p. 150
  18. Secrets of the Mantis, p. 8
  19. Secrets of the Mantis, p. 45
  20. Four Winds, p. 109
  21. Secrets of the Scorpion, p. 91
  22. Secrets of the Scorpion, p. 18
  23. Unfinished Business, Part II, by Rich Wulf
  24. Secrets of the Scorpion, p. 9
  25. Show Me Your Stance (Steel Throne Bonus Chapter)
  26. Secrets of the Unicorn, p. 41
  27. Four Winds, p. 175
  28. Secrets of the Unicorn, p. 10
  29. Counterattack (Spirit Wars flavor)
  30. Way of the Ninja, p. 10
  31. Way of the Samurai, p. 77
  32. Glimpse of the Unicorn (Spirit Wars flavor)
  33. Silver Mine (Spirit Wars flavor)
  34. 34.0 34.1 Small Farm (Spirit Wars flavor)
  35. 35.0 35.1 Simple Huts (Spirit Wars flavor)
  36. Legions, Part I, by Shawn Carman and Rich Wulf
  37. Secrets of the Lion, p. 40

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.