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A Yobanjin Fortress

The Yobanjin were tribes of barbarians who lived to the north of Rokugan. They looked Rokugani and spoke a primitive dialect. The Yobanjin were among the original inhabitants of Rokugan, but left when they would not swear fealty to the Kami. [1] [2]




The Yobanjin were physically very similar to Rokugani, who dressed in thick, heavy garments made primarily from preserved animal skins and furs. [3] City-dwellers also made use of simple woven cloth, and the urbanites imported silk from Rokugan to make a garment called a changshan. [4]


Yobanjin lands were a long stretch of land which started north of the Phoenix and Dragon Clan, bordered on the west by the Burning Sands desert and on the east by the ocean. It extended for hundreds of miles to the north, eventually fading into the steppes held by the Ujik-Hai and various other nomadic peoples. Their lands were less fertile than in Rokugan, with cold, dangerous, and unforgiving mountains. North to them were the plateaus where the Yobanjin sustained large herds, and the area was also the main hunting grounds of the legendary death-worms, with canyons proned to rock slides and flash floods. The main waterways were the Chenzhong He, the Ponderous River, and Bai He, the White River. To the north and west, beyond the plateaus and the riverlands, the harsh steppes were the yobanjin where harassed for centuries by the ferocious Ujik-hai. After the Desert Moto departed for Rokugan in the early 12th century, the nomadic Yobanjin tribes expanded into the now-empty territory. The coastline was dotted with the ports of Fu Gang, Bo Cheng, and the northernmost, Chandeyang. [5]


The Yobanjin called themselves as the Unbowed Tribes, because they did not bow to the Fallen Gods, like the men of Rokugan, which they called the Southern Empire. For at least three centuries after the Fall of the Kami, the Yobanjin remained a mostly nomadic society, following their herds and living off the land. The early Yobanjin cities were usually built on the coastline or on the banks of rivers. [6] Yobanjin society was usually thought to be quite primitive and backwards. While it was true that they were not as advanced as Rokugan, their true level of development was nowhere near as low as most Rokugani believed. [7] It was tradition among the Yobanjin for young men to undertake a spirit quest when they attained adulthood. [8]

Yobanjin were organized into several relatively small tribes, rather than clans. Yobanjin tribes were often at odds with one another, which was one reason the Yobanjin had yet to form a cohesive nation. [7]

List of Yobanjin Tribes[]

The following is a list of known Yobanjin tribes:


Yobanjin Horsemen

Through metal-working they made iron tools and weapons, relying on bows and wooden spears for armaments. They made use of unusual animals as fighting mounts, as the huge and deadly Yobanjin Wyrms, or the Great Northern Hawk domesticated by the Tribe of the Sky. [3] Yobanjin favored the Ring Sword as their weapon of choice. These could be used to grapple an opponent's weapon, giving them an advantage in combat. Swords of Yobanjin make were weaker than those of Rokugan, and could in fact shatter against a katana strike. Yobanjin also made use of gaijin weapons, such as the crossbow. [9]

List of Known Schools[]

Yobanjin Art[]

Yobanjin cuisine was varied and sophisticated, including many kinds of red meat. It was intensely flavored with various spices, especially garlic. In music and poetry Yobanjin favored a style of guttural singing accompanied by simple instruments. The cities also featured elaborate paintings on long scrolls of tanned animal hide. [4]

Conflicts with Rokugan[]

Yobanjin Sorcerer

During the Great Famine in the 7th century Yobanjin mercenaries refilled the ranks of the People's Legion, an army of revolters and peasants. [10]

In the early 12th century the Tortoise realized the Yobanjin were deliberately stolen the true information to the ambassadors who traded with the barbarian, as they could not travel outside of the trading port cities. Several raids on Phoenix villages to steal livestock were reported. [11]

The Rokugani and Yobanjin had always been at odds, but seldom had there been open warfare. The Yobanjin did invade Rokugan in 1154, but were repulsed by Toturi Tsudao and the Imperial Legions, [12] including the Sixth Imperial Legion. [13] Their invasion force was made of several tribes led by the warlord Baxing, [14] and after its defeat the Yobanjin people became less united than they had been previously. [15] The Sons of the Wind tribe, the Isawa family's long-time secret ally, covertly aided Tsudao's forces in locating and destroying rogue Yobanjin encampments. [12]


Battul, a Yobanjin

The Phoenix village Yobanjin Mura traded with the barbarian tribes, and even though this was technically a breach of Imperial Law the Phoenix used the excuse that the Yobanjin acted very much like the Unicorn to continue trade. [16]

Isawa curiosity regarding the barbarians had driven them to find a loophole in Imperial Law, a very fragile loophole that nonetheless allowed the village to operate. Simply put, the Isawa chose to focus on the fact that Imperial law restricts "trade" with gaijin, and further that Imperial law defined trade as "the fair exchange of goods and services." The Isawa always gave the Yobanjin less than they thought was fair on any exchange as a matter of course. Thus, what they conducted was not trade, and was not illegal. Though even some Isawa raised an eyebrow at this display of logic, others argued that such sacrifices were necessary to keep tabs on the Yobanjin. Should the gaijin ever invade again, the Isawa would know the enemy and be ready to face them. [17]

The Mountain Wind Tribe were currently allied with the Crane Clan. The alliance was brokered by Bajan, the Mountain Wind chieftain, and Doji Jotaro. The Mountain Wind provided the Crane with information on Bloodspeaker movements in their lands and kept the other tribes from invading and the Crane provided the Mountain Wind with food, weapons and some Daidoji warriors. The alliance was sealed with the Mountain wind giving the Crane the Empress' Seal, which had been thought lost after the abduction of Hantei Hochiahime. [13]

Dark Oracle of Fire[]

Ever since Tamori Chosai was banished from Rokugan he has plagued the Yobanjin. He resided with them and regularly used them to attack the Dragon Clan. He did so by lighting them on fire, a fire that would not kill them for some time, and sent them to Dragon lands in an attempt to wear down their defenses. [18] [19] These attacks increased in frequency, to the point of starting the War of Dark Fire in the winter of 1170 by destroying the Northern Towers of Flame. [20] The Mountain Wind Tribe was destroyed by the yobanjin forces of the Dark Oracle of Fire, Chosai, who were about to invade Rokugan. [21] The forces of Rokugan prevailed, and the Dark Oracle disappeared, leaving behind the the Unbowed People who had lost about half of their population. [14]


  1. The Hand of Peace (Dawn of the Empire, Part V of X), by Seth Mason
  2. Dawn of the Empire, Part One, by Rich Wulf
  3. 3.0 3.1 Emerald Empire; Fourth Edition, p. 257
  4. 4.0 4.1 Imperial Archives, p. 74
  5. Imperial Archives, pp. 77-798
  6. Imperial Archives, pp. 68-69
  7. 7.0 7.1 Favorable Tides
  8. Secrets of the Empire, p. 67
  9. Beginnings
  10. Imperial Histories, p. 105
  11. Winter Court:Kyuden Asako, p. 26
  12. 12.0 12.1 Secrets of the Phoenix, p. 11
  13. 13.0 13.1 Guardians, by Shawn Carman
  14. 14.0 14.1 Imperial Archives, p. 71
  15. Masters of Earth, by Shawn Carman and Rich Wulf
  16. Legend of the Five Rings Role-playing Game, Third Edition, p. 295
  17. Secrets of the Phoenix, p. 93
  18. The Broken Shinbone, by Shawn Carman
  19. Light of the Mountain (The Race for the Throne Book), by Shawn Carman
  20. The War of Dark Fire, part 1, by Shawn Carman
  21. The War of Dark Fire, Part 2

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