Gens Saibok

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A write-up for another PC gens in my Shogunate game, you can view the Gens Kumari here; viewtopic.php?f=14&t=48


Gens Saibok
The Clenched Fist of the Shogun

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Prosperous after the Great Uprising due to their astounding head family, Gens Saibok’s warriors and generals serve the Shogunate loyally at the behest of their Lord Commander Saibok Tanis. In this new world, all bow to the Saibok’s military might
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History

Who is the greatest Hero of Creation!?

Is it the mighty Bishamonten, The World’s First Hero, who lifted the Land and grasped the sun!?

NAY!

Is it the stalwart Hou Yi, of Rainbow Wings, who cast down a dozen gods in an attempt to save her wife!?

NAY!

Is it the wise and clever Artemis, who could hold off the Qi Gong and Demons with naught but her bow and arrows!?

NAY!

It is the Hero Michio! He who clashed against the Sun, who cast down the wicked and sought no reward!

This story is not about him.

It is about his brother, Saibok, a caring soul who wanted only to be an architect, who was forged in the fires of war.

Saibok was granted the breath of the Earth Dragon by Pasiap. A man who had a distinctive scar on his forehead due to the mistreatment by Demons, Saibok was not the strongest, he was not the fastest, he was never a warrior like his brother. But the Divine Dragon found a kindred spirit in a man who would fight for his family despite his distaste of combat, and Saibok took up the cause of war to protect his family and friends. His first action as an Exalt involved building a maze to catch the demonic lion spirit Tonbogiri. A righteous and noble demon, the Lion of Bladed Flowers was considered one of the most powerful Demons of the world, and his strength would have changed the tide of the War. But his spirit had always struggled against the cruelty of his peers, and it was Saibok who convinced the lion to join the side of the rebelling Gods and their new Exalted, rather than defend his siblings. When his permission was obtained, the explosive Lion was forged into a weapon to be held by Saibok. When forced to fight, he used the powerful Tonbogiri, but his primary focus was in the creation of defensive fortifications and mazes that befuddled those that attempted to assault weak points of the revolutionaries’ supply lines. As he practiced his work, those who followed him and who he taught in the creation of siege weapons, fortifications, and architecture as his students began to sign their work with the image of a roaring lion’s head, and fell in line as he produced masterful artisans for the Exalted war effort. Saibok lived through the war, despite the attempts of many to end the life of the individual whose castles could withstand even the harshest of lava flows and splintering curses, and with Tonbogiri at his side he was ceremonially awarded the title of ‘Grand Artisan’. Once he was awarded this title, he was additionally rewarded with the creation of his family, as his series of surviving apprentices and students were folded into the Gens Saibok.

The Saibok Gens continued to create masterpieces once the Rebellion was over. Manses, cities, bridges, and wonders were raised by the always busy Lions, forts raised on the edge of the world to pin the fabric of Creation and avoid it’s dissolution, watch posts on the edge of the abyss to guard against the Nioborans, and even fortresses at the edge of the Underworld to peer into darkness itself. But one can only peer into darkness so long before darkness peers into them, and this reached it’s fever pitch during the reign of Saibok Xiao, who began to consort with demons in order to maintain her power. It took a desperate struggle within the house itself, but she, and those who were part of her cult, were purged out of the Saibok, but it came with tremendous upheaval in the ranks of the Gens itself. This was when the Saibok took to themselves like a smith would shape iron; not just content with creating things, and with Saibok himself entombed, the Lion turned themselves into a force for defense, increasing their military might and prowess under the chosen succession of the original Saibok Zetian, the first Lord Commander, a name that would come to be highly regarded and used often for Saibok children believed to be destined to perform great feats.

Despite their apparent growing power, this does not mean that the Saibok had a gentle life. In fact, they found themselves pushed to the brink of extinction generations later, as Saibok Rui, despite her best efforts, could not maintain the Gens against a variety of antagonistic forces; from Solars and Lunars seeking to carve a piece of Saibok greatness into their own Gens or from jealous foes of the Saibok’s strength, the once proud gens risked being whittled down to nothing as it was slowly being bled dry. At one time, it seemed the only survivor would be the ancient, gnarled Saibok Guato, but intervention- not divine, but man-made- saved the Gens from obliteration. Saibok Jitte made bargains with elementals and adoption of others his forte, gathering small houses until his banner and folding them into his family to expand the gens back to it’s numbers before diminishment, while he sought out the blessing of Elementals in a different tact. Accepting that his family was going to shrink, he bargained with lesser elementals to combine their powers with members of the Lower Family, expanding their connections to the Elements. This created a strong, elite guard of Saibok that could be trusted to maintain their efforts while the adopted individuals were slowly trained up and integrated into the family proper, and what had once been a house on the edge of being bled dry by scavengers started to regain its power, and it was intent to never suffer like that again.

Saibok Malik was the head of the Saibok during the lead up to the Great Uprising, and more than a participant, he was an architect of the entire project. Blessed and cursed with foresight beyond his peers, Malik had grown up in the shadows of the greatest of strategists and surpassed them in his teens. A genius on the battlefield and in the courts, but far more as a general, Malik bested any challengers to Saibok dominance and secured their position with ease. When the venerable and great Gens of the Han fell, leaving two twins as their only survivors, Malik married the sorceress Karmie, and made use of her abilities in court and sorcery to empower the Saibok; despite the family’s distrust of sorcery to begin with, Karmie’s outspoken aggression, supreme skill, and charming personality won her from grudging acceptance to true respect at her husband’s side. When the Solars threatened Creation, Malik saw it before any others, and when it was required of him, he did his duty to protect Creation, no matter what it cost him and no matter what he was afraid others would think of him; as all Saiboks do, he did his duty. He died in the fires of war, but his plans were carried out, as the horizon burned and the Solars fell, and after him, Karmie took his place as Lord Commander.

With Saibok Karmie as the head of the Gens, it was required by her children; Corinna and Tanis, to enforce her will. Both were influenced by their parents, and neither could be said to be ‘more like’ either parent; while Tanis excelled in a world of warlords, Corinna found herself pressured by rampant violence that pulled at her artist’s heart. But when the worst came to pass, neither backed down from their challenges, and found their own roads. Saibok Tanis became the Shogunate’s first Hero, as she defeated challengers and grappled sandstorms before being granted that title by Michio himself, brought back to life by foul magics, before reclaiming Tonbogiri and reaching a pinnacle of power. Saibok Corinna chose not violence but love, casting aside violence that could have hardened her heart, she met Nado Tensha- another Warlord-, and defeated him alongside the man she came to love. When challenged by Tanahashi Okada, a legend who had been taught by her beloved aunt, Corinna soothed the flames of her grief and opened the woman’s closed heart to love once more.

In the land of Warlords, Saibok Tanis reclaimed her birthright and, guided by her belief- and love- in Kumari Nahla, allied herself with the fledgling Shogun, bringing the might of the Saibok to bear in placing Kumari Nahla at the head of the Shogunate, and in the process became the strongest warrior of her age.

 Meanwhile, Saibok Corinna, finding her own path and determined to be her own woman, made her own Gens, the Jiro, and adopted the teachings of her ancestors; claiming the ancient title of ‘Artisan’ and adopting furiously as she and her husband produced mighty, rolling behemoths of metal known as ‘rails’, which fill entirety of Creation with thrumming steel that carries the lifeblood of the world on them, an idol beloved the world over.
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Appearance

    Saiboks are primarily Wood and Earth aspects, with strong features, brown hair, and darker eyes. Their skin is generally lighter, but dark tones aren’t unheard of. They often have strong facial features; large noses and square chins are highly likely. Their colors are red and black, and even their casual clothing tends towards military undertones and extremely functional boots. Saiboks do not flaunt wealth even when they have it, but there is an undercurrent of superstition in some of their designs; often a Saibok will carry a length of rope knotted three times attached to their belt, which is believed to help ward off evil spirits. Their symbology has always been the roaring lion Tonbogiri, while design wise they enjoy straight lines of color; a double breasted coat may be black with straight, parallel lines of red down the arms and torso area. Soldiers that they are, their form of weapons are swords, shields, and spears, practiced with meticulous drills.

    Of specific note is the distinct changes in the Saibok Head Family that are only now becoming obvious. With the marriage to the former Han Karmie, Saibok Malik’s bloodline has become quite strong in that clan’s powerful blood. Both Corinna and Tanis have blue eyes and red hair like their mother- along with freckles as they’ve aged-, and their children have, as a group, followed in this coloration, including an increased lean towards the aspect of Fire. They are not purely Han, but these traits seem to have bred true for the foreseeable future. They have also demonstrated traits that the Han Gens- including Karmie- often had to struggle to control.
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Culture

    Militaristic almost to a fault, the Saibok are eternally studying strategy and tactics, practicing for whatever war may come. This is not to say that Saiboks exist only militarily or that all engage in combative military; there is still a thriving focus on fortification, strategy, and military engineering that those who don’t seek glory on the battlefield can attempt to engage in. Young Saibok who do seek glory in combat can be rambunctious with Essence Fever, but are tempered by years of strategy and tactics to force them to keep control of their instincts; to a Saibok, self-control is the ultimate virtue. While they respect the power of Sorcery, they do not often partake in it, and thus have to send prospective students off to learn it from others, but the assumption is always that, no matter where they roam, a Saibok is a Saibok, and this is often the case.

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Neat. I have been curious what you did with the Gens for your game for a while though this write up makes me a little curious on something. Naturally one thinks of the Gens as similar to the Great Houses in their own way and it makes me curious if they have something like a primary stronghold or territory?
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Each Gens has a main manor that the head of the Gens lives at, then the area around that is their territories. This creates competition and fights between Gens that have certain things but lack others, which are then mediated by the Shogun.

For instance, the Shogun theoretically has minimal land territory, but significant control over the seas, while the Saibok have a large amount of land-locked land. The Jiro possess little actual land, but maintain control of the First Age City Varilitsu after the PCs stopped it from sinking.
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