Players will usually begin between the ages of 10-16, but do not automatically take the Young hindrance. Iron Dynasty is the setting sourcebook, without their story, as previously stated. They begin with 500 units of currency (Bu in this setting). Some ideas are taken from history and culture while others are pop culture tropes (and a few anime ones here and there).
The land of Konoyo is ruled by the Bright Empire. The land is host to great mountains, plains, swamplands, bays, and cities. Wilderness rules most of the lands between settlements and cities. Even some local lands are owned and ruled over by minor nobles, who may or may not aspire to domination of the Empire, or they may be content and benevolent landowners.
The Bright Empire is ruled by the Emperor from the Shining Throne, made of pure gold and crafted by the Oni-kaji as a reward for a long forgotten and honorable deed. The current Emperor is Emperor Emei. A wise and benevolent man, even if a little detached from the common man. It is said that in his youth, he collected the Jewels of the Oni-kaji and used his wishes to become a wiser man and to meet the perfect woman, hence he rules alongside the Empress Itomi, said to have been visited by the very deity the young Emperor wished to and was delivered to the palace courtyard at sunrise the very next morning. His third wish was never told to anyone.
However, all is not well in Konoyo, as a baron from over the northern mountains, raises an army to march on the capitol. Their warlord, Rokku, leads this growing army of malcontents under a red banner. They are known as the Army of the Crimson Banner, and Rokku attempts to collect the Oni-kaji Jewels for his own foul plans.
Fortunately the Jewels may only be used once every ten years, and they must collect all five of the jewels, said to be made of the brightest gold and shaped into a medallion shape, with a brilliant gemstone in its center, a sapphire, ruby, diamond, emerald, and onyx, with the unreadable script of the gods one each face of the medallion. They are approximately 5 inches in diameter and cannot be destroyed by earthly means, and will glow at sunrise and sunset. Once collected, with the right invocation, the great craftsman Oni-Kaji will descend from the heavens and grant three wishes for the individual and then depart with the medallions to scatter them around Konoyo after a decade. Their existence is not widely known, however, mostly known to sorcerers and priests who would not readily share such information to just anyone.
The story begins in the 2319th year of the Bright Empire, in a small mountain village in the southern mountains. The characters might be from the rural hamlet, with a population of under 100, with nothing to rule them but an elder, or may be passing through. However fate has brought them together, as on the first sunset in town they are visited by a tall man, unarmed and too well dressed to be from these parts, and he gives one of the players a strange golden medallion with a perfect sapphire in the center, smiles and walks away, vanishing the very instant nobody is looking at him. Anyone may make a knowledge roll (common knowledge is at -4) as to what it is, but it is obviously exquisitely made, unique, and very special object.
From there, their path is up to them, though they may encounter different people along their journey. For example:
Matoko, the Priestess, who guards over an ancient tree known to be a connection between the living and the spirit world. It allows anyone to speak with any spirit in the vicinity, good or evil or insane. While beneficial to those who can take such a strain on their mind and soul. for most it is very unwise and often lethal. Possessions are common. This leads many to view the tree as evil and try to kill it, Matoko fiercely defends the tree, as her predecessors before her. The village views her as kind and to an extent their protector, but know not to endanger the tree, which she has never interacted with personally. She can be a staunch enemy or ally if encountered.
Shiro, the wilderness samurai, is not what you would expect upon seeing him for the first time. He is short and obese, but anyone mistaking him as weak or slow would very quickly lose face in a fight. Shiro is a sword saint, though many label him a samurai just because he has a katana. His appetite is fierce and he is a master hunter and chef, and makes either a terrifying foe or a life-saving friend.
Sengaku the Bandit, is known to track down his quarry to other sources of wealth and rob them blind before finally robbing his quarry or letting their disgrace be their undoing. In truth, he sends his ill-gotten gains to his poor village, who has been ravaged by untimely drought and famine.
Misao is a traveling entertainer can be found in any of the rural cities, gathering both reputation and funds before moving to the bigger cities. She is friendly and mostly good hearted, and will ask for help in exchange for pay, after all, travel is dangerous in these times, especially for a lonesome young lady like herself. Her single fault is that she can sometimes be too quick to anger, a bad combination for a beautiful girl who angers when she is objectified. She means well, but she starts a lot of fights that the characters would have to deal with.
Ayame and Ayumi, are sisters operating as traveling merchants, after their village was burned down while they were on a trip to a larger town to get supplies for their family. They are charismatic and helpful as far as merchants go, they’ll even throw in a ride on the back of their wagon if you buy something and are polite. At least for the day. Secretly they are the sole survivors of a ninja clan, when their village was attacked they fled and tried to turn over a more peaceful leaf. But there’s probably a reason they’ve never gotten robbed all the way out here…