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. Monks have developed their martial arts expertise as a defense against aggressors' attacks, as a means to promote health, and as a mental and physical discipline.
Founder: Hasu Akitomi
For millennia, the Byakuren temple has been the guardian of the Daruma’s sacred teachings, both physically, as the caretakers of the few scrolls directly attributed to his hand, and spiritually, as the successors to the great master’s first disciple.
The temple’s monks strive to be shining examples of a life of virtue. They are vegetarian, take a vow of nonviolence and strive to illuminate the path to enlightenment for all who they meet.
Byakurendo, the Way of the While Lotus, is the style from which all other Darumist martial arts developed. Interestingly, it is the most gentle of any art, being purely defensive in nature. Every technique uses an opponent’s strength against him, turning the violence back on the aggressor.
Founder: Hyouga Masazumi
The Temple of Eternal Ice is located high in the mountains in the path of a gigantic glacier. The monks spend their days chipping away at the encroaching ice in order to preserve their temple.
The intense physical exertion teaches the monks that nothing is impossible, and that even one man may stand in the way of overwhelming odds.
A student of the Art of the Glacier favors a deliberate and straightforward attack. His intent is to move through his target, causing as much damage as possible.
Founder: Sen Rishi
The monks of Gyokuro monastery are masters of the tea ceremony. The hours of meditation and martial training they engage in every day are intended to steady both their mind and their body, so that they may perform the tea ceremony with the utmost grace.
Because of the importance of the tea ceremony in imperial culture, the Gyokuro monks are often tasked by the Mikado to act as his personal diplomats and guardians.
Students of the Way of the Jade Leaf pay great attention to hand movement. Their art is primarily defensive in nature, focusing on joint locks that can disable, but not permanently harm, an enemy.
Founder: Ran Genichi
The Red Orchid monastery trains the most ruthless and merciless monks in Tsurukoku. They follow a corrupt version of the Daruma’s teachings, in which it is the duty of the strong to prey on the weak, in order to punish them for their past-life transgressions. They are widely reviled, and are tolerated only because they are feared even more.
To become a member of the Red Orchid monastery, one must be willing to undergo a training regimen that is tantamount to severe psychological and physical torture; only the strong survive the training.
Followers of the Art of the Orchid first temper their bodies so that they no longer feel pain (or much of anything else, for that matter). They then specialize in inflicting as much pain as possible on others. Their fighting style is brutal and efficient, and all the more effective for the lack of remorse usually displayed by those who practice it.
Founder: Zenigame Kamiko
Zenigame Kamiko was born into a samurai family, but took on the life of an ascetic monk on her sixteenth birthday. She abandoned her family name and took on the title of “Zenigame,” which is a type of pond turtle. Over the next 8 decades, she developed the defensive fighting style known as the Way of the Tortoise, authored over two hundred scrolls detailing the most efficient way to defeat the forces of Yomi and founded the Temple of the Silent Lake.
The Order of the Silent Lake is dedicated to ridding the world of kegare.
Students of the Way of the Tortoise believe that slow and steady wins the race. They focus on stability and defense, preferring to wait for their opponent to make a mistake than to make one themselves.
The Temple of Thunder and Lightning was founded by Kadonomaro as a means to instruct others in his art. He was a firm believer in combat effectiveness, stripping his art of any maneuvers that were the least bit gentle.
As a result, many of Tsurukoku’s best warriors have made the pilgrimage to this temple to learn the secrets of the Way of the Storm.
The Brotherhood is a heretical sect that believes that the Way of the Storm should be used to conquer, not to defend. It was formed by a monk from the Temple of Thunder and Lightning, who believed that Kadonomaro was weak, and diluted the power of Lord Inazuma.
The current leader of the Brotherhood is unknown, and is referred to only as the Great Leader, but his agents have had several encounters with the Temple of Thunder and Lightning’s forces. The Brotherhood prefers to move in the shadows and strike without warning, mimicking the tactics of ninja. However, they are unpredictably foolhardy, and have made several bold moves that have increased their visibility.
Followers of the Art of the Storm drill themselves to deliver bursts of speed and strength. They believe that the best defense is a good offense, so they attempt to press the fight whenever possible. They are famous not only for their strikes, but for their extremely damaging throws.