Requiem of the West
Sangoku is a vast continent and the central location of the Requiem for the West setting. The culture and history of the land is very similar to that of Feudal Japan, though anachronistic aspects of other times and eastern cultures have found their way into the setting. It is a land of deep intrigue and vast plots that work from the shadows to influence events behind the scenes while vast armies clash over a crumbling empire.
The setting can be considered low-fantasy. Though gods and spirits walk the land, they are few and far between, rarely interacting with humans or their world. Magic is a rare and dangerous force; none know how one comes to hold such power, and few understand how to control it once it is held. Those that cannot control it rarely survive long, the lucky are killed instantly, and the unlucky become the unwilling crucible of a ruinous force. Magic is rare and those that can wield it rarer still.
In such a world, as in ours, knowledge and intrigue are the truest means to power, and those that populate the continent of Sangoku have learned that lesson well. Even in peacetime the empire was rife with scheming; now that war has erupted and the long peace shattered, that plotting has begun to boil over.
Main Article: Social Structures of Sangoku
The Empire of the Dawn which held absolute control over the continent for the past five-hundred years is a feudal monarchy. Society is based on the clan structure, with the major clans being bequeathed vast domains to control and tax by the Emperor. The major clans in turn divided their holdings into provinces that were gifted to minor clans which were tasked with maintaining their territories. The Imperial Clan maintained ownership of the land itself however, renting it to their vassal clans in exchange for annual rent in taxes.
Though the Empire of the Dawn, or the Old Empire as it is often referred to, has fractured in recent years, all of its successor states cleave to this ancient model of governance with the one exception of the Northern Confederation, where each Daimyo maintains individual ownership of their province and have formed a defensive alliance with the other clans in the Confederation.
Main Article: Political Landscape of Sangoku
Sangoku is divided into numerous provinces each controlled by distinct groups. Though the vast majority of provinces are controlled by individual clans, exceptions do exist with some provinces having been granted to, or conquered, by non-clan factions such as religious and mercenary orders. Regions are large groups of provinces, each is held by one of the Great Clans, which do not hold any provinces, but rule from and control a regional capital.
The Old Empire holds the central and eastern regions of the continent and is by far the largest of the factions. It seeks to reinstate the Empire of the Dawn and is lead by the current Emperor and the Imperial Clan. Additionally, it is supported by the Shogunate, which is responsible for maintaining and organizing the Imperial armies.
Having rebelled from the Old Empire, the Sunset Empire is led by the Caira Clan, and seeks to reunify the continent once more under its banner, with a capital in Caira City. Maintaining that the Imperial Clan has been corrupted and that the Emperor no longer has a divine mandate, Lady Caira has pulled many of the western provinces into the rebellion.
Lastly, the northern provinces, always isolated geographically from the rest of the empire, have declared independence as the Northern Confederation. Each province of the confederation maintains its own autonomy, while lending military and economic aid to the others. Too difficult for the southern empires to attack in their weakened states, it is courted by both for soldiers and the valuable iron in its mountains.
Main Article: Religion of Sangoku
As a land where it is possible, though rare, for an individual to meet a spirit and even talk to one, religion is a fundamental part of life within the society. A complex mix of animism and monotheism, the official state religion of the old empire is Shoshin which states that the Empire is descended from the Supreme Being that created the world. Adherents further believe that the many spirits of the world are simply a different form of living creatures, and not gods in themselves.
Seishin is another religion that is officially considered heretical by the Empire, but has never been persecuted in any significant way. Pre-dating Shoshin, Seishin practitioners believe that the spirits are fully-fledged gods in themselves and that through ritualistic offerings and worship, they can be persuaded to assist their followers. Elements of Seishin faith pervades Shoshin practice, and even the most devout adherent to Shoshinism is likely to put up offerings to the spirits before embarking on a dangerous endeavor.
Lastly, though not a religion in itself, the meditative practices of Kukyo have influenced Sangoku society immensely. A set of practices that focuses on self-control, self-knowledge, and meditation, Kukyo was originally developed in ancient times as a way for those who could wield magic to more safely channel their energies. Though few know its origin now, the practice has spread to nearly ever corner of society and monasteries devoted to it alone, with no religious association exist throughout the land.
Geography of the Continent
Main Article: Geography of Sangoku
Sangoku is a large continent, surrounded on all sides by vast, unexplored oceans.
The north and west are barren and mountainous, but rich with mineral resources, but hard winters and rocky soil make farming on the northern coast almost impossible. The western coast is slightly more habitable, being less cold and slightly farther from the mountains that separate the western and central regions. The Kazan Mountains that stretch across the north are volcanic, and the ash that spreads from their rare eruptions makes the farmlands at the base of the mountain range in the central regions the most fertile in the land.
The mountains of the North give way to hilly plains in the center of the continent, fed by the volcanic ash and snowmelt of the Kazan Mountains, the center of the continent is home to vast farmlands and dense population centers. The Imperial Capital sits on the coast, and it can be said truly that all roads lead eventually to it.
Meanwhile, to the far south, the lushness of the center slowly fades into vast flat plains of dry grass that see little rainfall. Settlements are few and far between, but the citizens of those provinces have learned to take advantage of the vast herds of wild horses that roam the plains.
Lastly, the East is a land of dense jungles and savage wildlife. Attempts to tame the eastern mountains have succeeded only sporadically, with isolated fortress-cities holding out against the constant encroachment of the forests and native tribes. Indeed, the east is the last refuge of survivors from a forgotten civilization that predated even the First Empire. Despite this, the Eastern lands are rich with spices and rare woods that are harvested from their deadly environment and many of the finest goods come from the east.
Rules of the Game
While the setting information is system neutral, the campaign currently uses the GURPs system for rules. Handy references and compiled material can be found in Rules, and lists of tools, alchemies, and other assorted items can be found in Items.