Jade Regent: Into the East
Ninja operate in a wide variety of circumstances, and under an equally diverse array of banners and goals. While many regard ninja as strictly evil entities who deal only in shadows and deceptions, the truth is that ninja can do as much to aid a society as to damage it, and that most of the time a ninja’s motives are as elusive as the masked individual herself. Tales abound of vigilante ninja who assassinate corrupt dictators in the dead of night, yet more often ninja act as merciless mercenaries killing for the coin of powerful merchants and politicians. These masked individuals do not usually construct such elaborate schemes by themselves, however, and most subscribe to familial structures known as clans, which house members who share similar skills and motives. While ninja are commonly feared as glorified assassins, murder is merely a single facet of the shadow warriors’ array of expertise, and they just as often possess the skills of spies, scouts, and informants. Each clan specializes in certain aspects of the ninja arts, such as espionage, kidnapping, or burglary, and a clan’s particular realm of expertise is often a fair indicator of its larger-scale intentions and dealings.
The history of ninja clans in Minkai is almost as ancient as the nation itself, for the rogue organizations developed at the same time that Minkai warfare became a prominent driving force in the expansion of the empire, with small sects of shadowy warriors rising to power and functioning as soldiers of fortune for the wealthy warlords of the time. Clans’ presences within Minkai society grew further as feudalistic principalities gave way to more elaborate governing forces, and open warfare became less viable than covert political dealings. As the Minkaians became accustomed to peace and a sense of calm within their governments, the need for ninja clans continued to expand, taking the fights from the crowded battlefields to the secluded shadows. While the samurai of Minkai—and the rest of Tian Xia—continue the tradition of honorable battle, no such over-arching strictures necessarily restrain ninja, allowing these warriors of darkness to infiltrate and thrive in countless communities.
Belonging to a clan offers a number of benefits to ninja characters, linking her to a cause and tradition. Advancement within the ranks of a clan may grant a character access to more tangible benefits such as the aid of fellow ninja, access to unusual items, or other boons, all subject to GM discretion. The following entries represent a handful of the most prominent ninja clans within Minkai, though other might exist in the country and elsewhere in Tian Xia. Each entry details a clan’s founding, purpose, symbol, important members, weapons clan members seek to master, the clan’s characteristic teachings, and any rivalries that may exist with other clans.