Real World History
My first L5R character for a camapaign in New Jersey in mid 2001. I moved from Jersey before the campaign ended. The campaign did not last long, so the history still has some blank spots where the GM did not fill in the blanks.
Polite, smiling and charming, Shintaro has excellent manners and finds his council often sought by others. Shintaro prefers to listen, speaking only when he has something to say, though this is often. Shintaro almost never gets rattled and tends not to raise to verbal baiting from others. Being older than most, and with obvious stains on his reputation, Shintaro tends to let insults slide. Many take this as a sign of weakness, though just as many secretly respect it.
Shintaro is a white haired old man. He is very short, wrinkled, and very tan for a samurai. He keeps is long white hair in a pony tail, and has a long white mustache and beard.
Suzumi Shintaro has been tainted even before birth. Generations before, his ancestor Nakai defeated Oni-no-Tsukuru, a demon [roll on ancestry table]. While this gained Nakai and his line the strong support of the Kuni Witch Hunters [major ally], it also gave his progeny the taint of the Shadowlands [7 points Shadowlands taint]. While Shintaro is, naturally, familiar with the exploits of his famous ancestor Nakai, Shintaro's parents elected to keep Shintaro ignorant of their dark legacy. As a result, Shintaro has only a dim awareness of the Kuni Witch Hunters.
He is much more aware of a more recent stain on his family's honor. His uncle Akuma is known throughout Clan Sparrow for his cowardice (and resulting death) on the battlefield [roll on ancestry table]. During a charge with a unit of cavalry, he pulled up short at the last instant, allowing the opposition to break through the charging formation. Though he quickly steeled his resolve and headed into the fray, the damage had been done. He and his entire unit were killed. The failure of this charge ultimately led to a stinging defeat for the Sparrow clan's army in that battle and the death of its commander, one Suzumi Okemi. Okemi's son, Michuiru, soon swore himself as an enemy of Akuma's direct line, as well Amuma's brothers and their lines [sworn enemy disadvantage: 4]. Suzumi Michuiru has since become a cavalry commander.
Born into this somewhat questionable lineage, Shintaro is the youngest of four. His sisters Junko and Kyoki are the eldest, followed by his older brother Yoshi. As a child, duty forced Shintaro's parents to locate in different locations. While Yoshi went with his father, the rest of the children stayed with his mother.
While just coming of age, Shintaro served <administrator>, the Daimyo's chief administrator. Though Shintaro was beginning training as a buke, most of his duties were fairly clerical or administrative. He began practice with tessen, both for combat and signaling, but did so in private fearing that people would think it presumptuous to practice with a "general's weapon" while not actually in a position to command men. This went on for several years, and while Shintaro's skill with blade and fan increased, his governance skills improved even more. He rarely stood out, however, the stain of his ancestor's shame holding him back.
Then, an earthquake struck <whatever town he was in>. He happened to be outside at the time, but others were not so lucky. The building in which he normally worked collapsed, killing <administrator>. Other nearby buildings partially collapsed and many began to burn. One building, in particular, was burning so fiercely that the noise of the flames nearly drowned out the voices of several people trapped in side. Without thinking, Shintaro grabbed a nearby axe and crashed his way into the building. Inside were <random person> and <one of Brennan's character's family (note: I'm thinking one possibility would be Brennan's mother, who was secretly the lover of the Daimyo)>, surrounded by roaring flames. Using the axe, Shintaro hacked his way to them and managed to guide them out. Towards the end, he had to carry <random person> who had fallen unconscious (and died soon after from smoke-inhalation).
News of Shintaro's heroics spread quickly, gaining him much respect. The Genji family took a vow that one of their number would always guard over Shintaro. This task was taken up by <Doji's father>, but more recently has been assigned to his son Doji.
As pleased as the Genji family was, the Daimyo himself was even more grateful. He showered Shintaro with praise, status and affection. (Some thought that this praise seemed unexplainably excessive, but were wise enough not to voice such opinions.) In fairly short order, Shintaro was named to a post similar to that of the late <administrator>, but with more battlefield responsibility. Shintaro, while not known for his strategic sense, commanded very well. He was particularly adept at the logistical side of a campaign, keeping his men well-fed and his units nimble. He began to use the tessen publicly, first in personal combat and later to direct battle. His style with the tessen was innovative and unique, and he often fought solely with a small fan in each hand.
While Shintaro was a passable commander, he was not particularly brilliant or incisive, certainly not as much as he thought he was. This, combined with his young age and extravagant use of the tessen, earned him a reputation for arrogance among his troops. They followed him, but many did not particularly like or respect him, especially knowing of Akuma's cowardice.
Ultimately, Shintaro's inexperience led him to make exactly the wrong choice at exactly the wrong time. He publicly swore an oath to his Daimyo that his army would take a particular ridge in a battle near the Hogetsa temple to Quanan. With one wrong choice, the attack failed utterly, killing most of the men [roll on ancestry table; Bad Reputation disadvantage]. Shintaro himself was seriously wounded and left for dead on the field.
Shintaro awoke days later within the Hogetsa temple, having been found and nursed back to health by the monks. Over the following weeks, Shintaro gradually regained his strength with the help of the monk's techniques. Just before we was well enough to travel, a disguised emissary from the Daimyo arrived at the temple, bearing a secret note for Shintaro. It said that Shintaro's conduct in the battle had saddened the Daimyo and requested that Shintaro retire and dedicate himself to the monastery. Recognizing this request for the order it was, Shintaro painted the characters for "submission" and gave them to the emissary to take back to the Daimyo.
Shintaro began the journey to become a monk in the temple. He was assigned a young monk named Sodan as his mentor. Sodan was to train him as lay-monk/shrine tender, the first step to becoming a full monk in the temple. Shintaro and Sodan became good friends. Shintaro suspected Sodan of being an ex-soldier who was trying to escape from something in his past, but never asked about it.
After about two years, in following his duties as a lay-monk, Shintaro embarked on a several day journey to acquire some supplies for the monastery. Upon his return, he found the temple burned to the ground and most of the monks killed grotesquely. The only survivor was Sodan, who was very badly wounded, seemingly kept alive solely by meditation and pure will.
Shintaro is horrified by the slaughter, stunned that anyone would dare to violate the sanctity of a temple, especially a temple as dedicated to peace as Hogetsa. As he tends to Sodan's wounds, he develops a nagging, irrational feeling that it was some how him, Shintaro, who was the target of the attack, not the monks. After investigating the remnants of the monastery, this feeling becomes a conviction, even though Shintaro cannot explain why.
With the monastery destroyed, technically his charge to stay there from the Daimyo ended and Shintaro should return to the Daimyo to receive his next assignment. His feeling that he was the target prevents him, however, unwilling to risk bringing whatever evil found him home. Instead he sends a message to the Daimyo, explaining what happened, but not his misgivings. In several days, after Sodan begins to walk again, a messenger brought the Daimyo's reply. Shintaro was to take the Musha Shugyo for the express purpose of tracking down those who defiled the temple.
Sodan remembers almost nothing of the attack. His only real memory is of <a symbol and a particular face (note: you might want to insert something totally different here)>. Sodan is fairly certain that the face is that of a merchant who stayed near the monastery before the attack. He is not sure the merchant is even involved, but on the chance it isn't a stray memory, Sodan and Shintaro track down the merchant.
It doesn't take long, as the merchant is found on the road several towns away, evidently killed by bandits. Shintaro and Sodan begin to research the merchant, confident they can find some link to the attack. As the weeks and months pass, however, they find nothing. They begin to broaden their search, combing the countryside for anyone who knows anything. As they search, the months pass into years.
After five years, their search leads them to the village of <village>. While walking into town, Shintaro was immediately smitten by a young peasant woman named Satomi. The instant their eyes met, they both knew that they had always been a part of each other, even through many generations [karmic tie advantage: 4]. They marry almost immediately, to the great joy of her family.
For a time, Sodan, Satomi and Shintaro continue to try to track down their prey, still turning up nothing. On the tenth anniversary of the temple's destruction (and with an eye towards Satomi's swelling belly) suggests that they return to the site of the temple and begin to rebuild it, with the hope that this will flush the perpetrators out of hiding. They all agree and return to find that work on rebuilding the temple has already begun. Sodan finds himself the center of attention, as the new monks and the temple clamor for instruction.
Satomi bears a daughter, Yukiko, on a snowy day in the early spring. Shintaro helps with the rebuilding effort, also building his own home. He continues to look for clues to the identity of the marauders, but finds none. As he spends more and more time with his wife and young daughter, he secretly begins to consider the search a lost cause. His son, Ichiro, is born two years later, but soon dies of sickness. In grief, Shintaro takes a break from his search, and never actively resumes it.
As the years pass, his martial training falls into disuse. He trains from time to time, but his abilities are not what they once were. In Satomi, however, Shintaro finds bliss and the two live very happily together. They watch their daughter grow up and marry. They keep a quiet life to themselves, growing enough food for themselves, and some extra for the rebuilt temple.