In the Land of the Crane, shadowy ninja silently slip through the night, gathering secrets and assassinating their enemies. Mystic onmyōji struggle to keep the five elemental forces of nature in balance, and ascetic monks train in the arts of unarmed combat, so they might have the stamina necessary to spend days in meditation.


Tsurukoku, the Empire of the Crane, was founded sixteen hundred years ago by Mikado Kazuhiro of the Aono clan. Since then, the Land of the Crane has flourished under the rule of the Aono dynasty.


Tsurukoku is a strictly feudal society that follows a caste system. Noble landowners, known as daimyō, act as landlords for farmers (the largest segment of the population) who produce rice, wheat and livestock.


One of the defining characteristics of Tsurukokan society is a deeply ingrained sense of duty. Every Tsurukokan feels as though she is part of a larger community, and that she is in some way responsible for the success or failure of that community.

Five Elements

According to traditional Tsurukokan philosophy, the entirety of nature is composed of five elements, collectively known as gogyō: wood (ki 木), fire (hi 火), earth (tsuchi 土), metal (kane 金), and water (mizu 水).


Inspiration is known as Honor in Tsurukoku and represents the glory and goodwill that a character acquires for her Allegiance. Except for regaining spent points, which is detailed below, Honor functions identically to Inspiration.


Tsurukokan Names Noble Tsurukokan names are composed of a family name followed by a given name, with no middle name. Commoners are not permitted to use family names. When the need to distinguish between people of the same name arises, commoners add a descriptive word or two to their names.


The clan is the basic unit of social structure in Tsurukoku. Each clan is headed by a daimyō, who holds dynastic control over a large section of land, known as a han.


Monasteries are a fixture of Tsurukokan life. They provide sanctuary to the poor and oppressed, military prowess for the local daimyō, and spiritual counseling to all. While individual beliefs vary somewhat between different temples, all Tsurukokan monasteries have one thing in common: martial arts.

Ninja Guilds

Most ninja guilds are headed by a single jōnin, or high ninja. Acting as the jōnin’s lieutenants are several chūnin, or middle ninja. Reporting to the chūnin are the majority of guild members, known as genin, or low ninja.


Tsurukoku is a primarily mountainous region with a total land area of 144,500 square miles. It is shaped like an elongated boomerang, with the western arm much longer than the eastern arm.


Tsurukoku is divided into seven kuni, or “countries,” which were initially administrative units in the time of the Mikado, but now serve simply as geographical regions. The regions, from west to east, are:


Yomi, the dark realm, where the souls of the unenlightened go when they die, is a realm of negative energy known as kegare. The energy permeates the land, slowly corrupting and devouring all that it comes in contact with.

Ascended Species

Civilization is a complex concept that involves behaviors like urban development, symbolic communication, social stratification, and a perception of a separation from nature. While there are numerous species that exhibit one or more of these behaviors (e.


半妖 Hanyō are the children of mortals (typically humans) and yōkai. Most yōkai are feared by mortals, as they have a reputation for disguising themselves as alluring humans, and using their charm to seduce and consume their victims.


人間 Humans are the most populous and adaptable of the civilized races. They not only exist, but thrive in every environment and fill every role available in Tsurukoku. Physical Description Humans stand, on average, about five to six and a half feet tall and weigh 120 to 200 lbs.


狐 きつね Kitsune are a species of mischievous, humanoid foxes. They are the second most populous humanoid species in Tsurukoku, and live alongside humans in both rural and urban areas.


甲虫 Kōchū are wingless, bipedal, beetle-like humanoids who are native to the deep forests of Tsurukoku. They are renowned for their mastery of ikebana, the bamboo flute, and mushroom farming.


小天狗 こてんぐ Kotengu are a race of migratory crow-people native to the deep mountains of Tsurukoku. They are clever problem-solvers who delight in word games and linguistic pursuits. Physical Description At first glance, kotengu appear to be giant crows that stand slightly over three feet tall, and weigh forty to forty-five pounds.


鱗人 In Tsurukoku, kobolds are known as urokobito, or “scaly people,” and are considered outsiders. They hail from the Hordelands to the south of the Nagara River. Physical Appearance Urokobito are small creatures that stand about two and a half to three feet tall.

Species Feats

Feats are an optional rule. The GM decides whether they’re used and may also decide that some feats are available in a campaign and others aren’t. An ascended species feat represents either a deepening connection to your species’ culture or a physical transformation that brings you closer to an aspect of your species’ lineage.