land of the crane: introduction

All Tsurukokan children learn about their relationship with the spirit world at a very early age. They learn about the spirits of the field that encourage the rice to grow, about the spirits of the heavens that bring good health, and about the spirits of the dark realm that cause misery and misfortune. They learn about the animal spirits that govern the cycle of years and about the ancestral spirits that bring them daily fortune. Above all, though, they learn about the spirits that guard Tsurukoku, who protect their homeland from the lizard-riding barbarian raiders and the savage Warlords of Xin.

What they learn, primarily, is that, in order to keep the spirits happy, and thus, secure good fortune, one needs to make offerings on a regular basis. The spirits of the field require a cup of sake when the rice is sown, the ancestral spirits require daily worship, and the heavenly spirits require gifts of food and drink. The guardian spirits, though, expect far more: they expect every clan from every corner of the Land of the Crane to send emissaries to carry paper and jade and sake and rice to their remote, treacherous homes.

Thus, in the year three hundred and thirty seven of the Ito shogunate, every clan in Tsurukoku selected a group of their finest young samurai and shinkan[1] and honored them with the task of escorting an offering to Hizuru, the Great Fire Crane, guardian of the northern border. That Hizuru lived in an active volcano which continuously bellowed forth great plumes of soot and cinders, forming an ashen desert responsible for swallowing entire armies of potential invaders, was a minor matter, the daimyō assured their young emissaries.

After all, a treacherous pilgrimage to a distant, fiery mountain, fighting off shadowy ninja, rampaging oni, and hordes of ravenous bakeinu all the while was a sure way to bring honor to the clan, and what young and impressionable samurai or shinkan wouldn't want that? Plus, the daimyō thought to themselves, it was a small price to pay for the peace of mind it would bring; not having to worry about foreign invaders would allow them to focus all of their attention on how best to crush their neighboring clans.

Thus, three young heroes set out from the city of Kurosawa on 27 Yayoi, 337 Ito, Year of the Fire Crane.

[1] Shinkan are Fenist priests, whose duty it is to act as a mediator between the mortal and spirit realm.

land of the crane

Many years ago, my gaming group embarked on a campaign in a world inspired by manga, anime, and a healthy dose of kung-fu films. That campaign world eventually became the Land of the Crane, and was published for the True20 game system by Green Ronin publishing.

I recorded the adventures of our gaming group as their characters journeyed from their homeland in the south to the mountains of the north in order to deliver offerings to the great spirit known as the Fire Crane. The story of those adventures was posted to various gaming forums in an episodic format.

I've decide to repost those stories here. I've queued up all of the stories that I had previously published - and will post one every two weeks, starting July 18th. I've got enough of them written to last until next April. If enough people are following along by then, I might consider translating more of my notes into story form and continuing the series.

I've also added a dedicated page for the Land of the Crane - you'll find it in the Contents section of the sidebar. There, I will link to each of the stories. I've also included information on the campaign setting and some artwork that was commissioned for the world.

I hope you enjoy it. I had fun creating it.