Shadows of Kagejima (A Ninja All Stars Conversion)
This campaign is set in the land of Kagejima and the Sun Empire of Ninja All Stars by Ninja Division and Soda Pop Miniatures. All art, logos, material, names and trademarks used here are property of Ninja Division and Soda Pop Miniatures, and used here for fan purposes, and not with the intention of infringing upon any copy right laws.
In the time before the sun, the stars alone cast shimmering reflections on the black waters. Ameratsu dipped her great spear deep below the waves, and the first light rippled through the water. As she drew the bejeweled weapon forth, the light arose and blazed across the sky. Droplets rained down in the wake of the shining blade and scattered across the face of the waters to form the lands of the world and all that dwells within it. The new light, however, did not fall upon everything equally. A drop fell away from the others, unseen and obscured, and the radiance of the sun touched it only thinly. Here, the sun only deepened the shadows. Here, those things that wished to hide from the new world found refuge under the trees and hills.
But all shadows love the light to flatter them and give them shape. The cool illumination of the moon found a purchase on this dark land that the sun’s hot brilliance could never hold, and all who dwelled there embraced its pale power. And so, shadow-veiled Kagejima came into the world, shrouded by mist and unmarked by all but the great sea.
The first humans came from the Empire of the Sun, when that ancient realm was in its earliest flush of youth and vigor. Hardy, rugged men and women who loved the edges of civilization more than its heart, these explorers loved the island’s wild beauty and mystery. They did not name the island, however. They learned its name. The spirits of this new land, the kami, who watched these people take their first cautious steps under the trees and build fires on the beach, whispered in the quiet of the moonrise, “Kagejima.” And so it was.
Kagejima is a land of mysteries. Here, the six elements flow with a freedom and abandon not seen in brighter lands. The first humans found that the water tasted sweeter, and the flowers smelled more fragrant. The darkness felt colder too, and the places of death drained the spirit. But this close to the mystical power of the land—a power unburned by the light of the sun they found a life more vibrant than any they had ever known
Kagejima sang to these mortals in the bubbling of the streams and the howling of the storms. So far from the Imperial Court and so alive, they gave no thought to leaving, and quickly spread across the island to settle where the song sounded best. For generations, only the barest rumors of the shadow-haunted island and its name drifted back to the Empire.
Over the years, the people of Kagejima divided and joined, moved and settled, fought and cooperated, until six distinct clans emerged in different regions across the island. Each had its own understanding of the six elements, and each boasted its own mystical connection to the land and sea. Inevitably, these unique approaches lead them into conflict. Disputes over trade and borders became arguments over philosophy and ways of life, and soon, the clans went to war for dominion of Kagejima.
The sutras say that life is conflict. Decades of overt and subtle strife had honed the warriors to lethal perfection, but they had drained the resources and strength of the clans. One family, long scholars of the land’s mysteries, finally arose with a vision to unify Kagejima rather than conquer it. In the soft light of the moon, they learned to balance the six elements. By drawing wise men and women from across the island, they used this wisdom to bring balance to the
clans. Thus, the Moon Kingdom was founded.
The Moon Court never attempted to end the conflicts, merely to channel them. The arts of
stealth and subterfuge became paramount, as the people matched their methods to the magic of their land. The balance embodied by the Moon Queen allowed the clans to pursue their own paths and to strengthen the island as a whole. This new direction was soon tested, however, when the Sun Empire sailed in on the tides.
The Sun Empire, arrogant in its power, sent embassies to the Moon Kingdom to demand
obedience. They found the Moon Court strong and firm. “We welcome the trade and companionship of our brothers,” the ruling Queen said, gracious in her tone and wise in her age. “But do not presume more. The panther may aid the tiger in its kill, but it does not bow.” The Sun Empire’s lead emissary bowed deeply, and tales say that all those present thought him to be honest in his respect. “The moon is changeable and fades with the passing days,” he said. “The sun is unchanging and patient.”
But not too patient. Within the year, agents of the Sun Court had stationed themselves at the Moon Palace and at every clan’s seat. They spoke subtle words to the ambitious and the dissatisfied. They gave gold to the greedy and guarantees to the gullible. They spread schemes and sought secrets, but they were as cubs before tigers. The clans of Kagejima had played such games for generations. Soon the Sun Court found its plans in ruins, its agents exposed and ejected, its treasure spent for nothing. And so the first invaders came to Kagejima.
Over the centuries, the Sun Emperors sent eleven armies to Kagejima. Each time, the land itself seemed to conspire against the attackers. The seas rose in fierce storms that shredded sails and timbers. The chill of winter set in early or lingered late. The tides dropped lower than in living memory and revealed rocks that ripped majestic hulls into kindling. Those few expeditions fortunate enough to reach the landings formed up their ranks, set off into the
trees, and vanished. Again and again, nothing but haunted, defeated sailors escaped to bring tales of disaster, if anyone returned at all. They say that some Sun Emperors railed and raged, while others nodded sagely, but all of them ordered more ships to be built. The Moon Court’s agents reported back on the continuing roil of ambitions throughout the Sun Empire’s vast holdings. Lesser rulers might have used these divisions to attack their enemies as the Sun Court had tried to do. Moon Princess Kaeko, however, chose to use them to solve her enemy’s problem, and thus, her own. Though coolly received at first, her invitation for an embassy resulted in the first Sun Court officials setting foot, unmolested, on Kagejima in just over four centuries. She met the ambassadors in her west garden at dusk and, glowing pale like her namesake, Princess Kaeko proposed to aid the Sun Court. She pledged to send a group of her most skilled shinobi to the Sun Emperor’s service for a full year. They would do all that he required of them, she said, to maintain the rightful order in his lands, save work against the Moon Court. More, she would send a new group of shinobi each year, if he agreed to make a permanent peace with Kagejima.
And so, at midsummer each year, eager and ambitious warriors from every clan gather for the Moonlight Tournament. From one full moon to the next, these shinobi compete in organized tests of cunning, subterfuge, endurance, and wits. Each victory brings honor to the clan, glory to the warrior, and the favor of the Moon Princess. So prestigious are these games, that the Tournament has become the primary outlet for inter-clan conflict. Many grudges and questions of honor are settled at this time. The Moon Court subtly encourage this, for they know that keeping the clans focused keeps Kagejima strong. They also know that only the finest shinobi can represent them to the Sun Emperor, and the games invariably select the strongest, fittest, and most subtle among their subjects. Each year, hopefuls and spectators flock to the Moon Castle to see whose name will enter the rolls of the elite; who shall bear to the Sun Court the heavy parchment and moon seal proclaiming them the finest shinobi in Kagejima.
Or, so they say. . .