The Shadowlands were created at the dawn of the Empire, when the god Fu Leng plunged into the underworld, tearing open a hole between the mortal realm and Jigoku. Through this rift, known as the Festering Pit, the vile essence of the Realm of Torment seeped into the surrounding land, turning it into a profane place of corruption, death, and destruction. All of the things living there were either destroyed or twisted into foul, unnatural forms.
In a few short years, this region became a blighted nightmare realm of dread and twisted reality. These lands are dangerous for even the most legendary heroes to step foot within, for new monstrous creatures are forever spewing forth from the Festering Pit, and foul winds carrying the anguish of the tormented can poison even the noblest hero’s body, mind, and soul.
The landscape in the Shadowlands is hopelessly corrupted. The scenery changes—sometimes obviously, writhing and reshaping itself into new landforms as one watches, and sometimes subtly, such as a path slowly twisting itself to lead towards hazardous terrain. Those familiar with the phenomenon, such as Crab Clan scouts, can still find it disturbing; to those newly exposed to it, this can be terrifying and utterly disorienting. There seems to be no natural pattern to the changes. Rather, they almost appear to be intentionally as confusing and distressing as possible, as though guided by the malign will of Fu Leng. While mortals have attempted to map out this blighted terrain, the precise location of its landmarks are seldom in the same place twice.
The land itself is as dangerous as its denizens. Pits and sinkholes can suddenly open beneath a traveler; ground that appears flat and dry can swallow feet in sucking mud; rocks can suddenly come crashing down along slopes that appear too shallow to pose such a threat. Water in the Shadowlands is never safe and bears similar marks of corruption: streams and pools often appear slimy or sludgy, or glisten with an oily sheen. The water usually reeks of decay or brimstone, and deeper into the Shadowlands, Crab scouts report that what should be water is sometimes replaced by blood or bile.
During the Descent of the Stars, Fu Leng plunged all the way through the Mortal Realm to the Realm of Torment, where he was lost. After he had become twisted by his time there, he climbed back into the world where his siblings had made themselves rulers. Demons followed in his shadow, and he welcomed them. Outraged upon discovering no search had been conducted to rescue him, he assumed it was because Hantei was worried Fu Leng might have bested him in the tournament to become Emperor.
Fu Leng challenged Hantei to a duel for the throne. Hantei accepted and named Togashi as his champion, who would fight with all of Rokugan. Fu Leng, in his twisted anger, raised the legions of Hell to meet the armies of Rokugan, and so began the First War, which only ended when the Seven Thunders sealed Fu Leng within twelve Black Scrolls. In the centuries since, Fu Leng’s followers—collectively known as the Shadowlands Horde—have ceaselessly pursued their terrible quest to open the scrolls and release their lord.
Beyond the bulwark of the Carpenter Wall, deep in the evil wastes known as the Shadowlands, malevolent forces gather. The Shadowlands Horde marshals beneath the banner of a fallen god to conquer Rokugan and plunge the realm into a thousand years of darkness.
Riding at the vanguard of this host are the Lost, twisted samurai who have embraced carnage and destruction. Cunning goblins, wicked trolls, and powerful ogres fill the ranks of the horde’s infantry, their numbers seemingly endless. Still more horrific are the legions of shambling zombies, skeletal warriors, and other undead monstrosities raised by foul necromancers and empowered with dark magics.
Leading these armies are oni and oni lords, hellish beings loosed from the Vile Pits of Jigoku to wreak devastation. Together, these demons, monsters, and revenants are poised to invade in the name of their Dark Lord, Fu Leng.
The ultimate goal of the Shadowlands Horde and its evil champions is to topple the Hantei dynasty, release Fu Leng from his imprisonment in the Black Scrolls, and enthrone their dark master as the new Emperor of Rokugan. To do this, they must weaken the Great Clans and cultivate hidden allies among their ranks.
The sinister agents of the horde sow discord from the shadows, pitting clan against clan to deplete the armies of the samurai before the Shadowlands’ invasion force even arrives. They seek out the clans’ most powerful ancestral artifacts to steal or destroy, and they proliferate cursed objects in their stead. They tempt and sabotage the clans’ heroes, setting them on false paths and fruitless quests to distract them from the true threat.
The most powerful and devious lieutenants of the horde scour the land in search of the unopened Black Scrolls, leaving razed villages and unhallowed ground in their wake.
Akuma no Oni
The legendary oni lord was created when a Phoenix Clan samurai betrayed his clan and offered his name to a demon. In the centuries since, Akuma no Oni led countless invasions into Rokugan in the name of his true master, Fu Leng.
Moto Tsume was an arrogant Unicorn cavalry general who believed he could defeat the Shadowlands. When he, his steed, and his horde perished in the attempt, their souls were bound to the will of the Shadowlands.
Atsuko, Witch of Calamity
The so-called Witch of Calamity is a wicked shapeshifting demon spawned from the corrupted marshes of the Shinomen Forest. Now, she and her minions lair in the ruined Yogo Castle.
The Obsidian Flower
Once a courtier of the Crane Clan, the Obsidian Flower’s vain quest for eternal beauty corrupted her very soul. Now, she is the immortal demon bride of Fu Leng and serves as his high priestess.
Of all the horrors to stalk forth from the Shadowlands, the demonic creatures called oni are by far the most powerful and dangerous. With twisted horns, razor-sharp teeth, and enormous talons on their hands and feet, these bestial creatures resemble the very Hells in which they dwell. Fortunately, they are only able to enter the mortal realm of their own volition through the Festering Pit. Unfortunately, there is another way for oni to come to the realm of Rokugan that is far more insidious: invitation by misguided or evil mortals. Only when they are slain do the souls of oni return to the Realm of Waiting, although the powerful ones are able to make their way back to Jigoku itself to be reborn.
The mightiest of oni are known as oni lords, and fortunately for the Empire they are few in number. These fiends have gained immeasurable power from a name stolen from or granted by a mortal summoner. Oni lords are capable of uniting the disarrayed forces of the Shadowlands into a single, terrifying horde. With their terrifying mixture of brute strength and devilish cunning, oni lords are almost impossible to defeat.