“Beneath the gaze of the watchful Emperor, the Imperial City is a vision of all that is wondrous about the Empire. But if the Emperor is old, or neglects their duty, the city’s golden veneer begins to peel and crumble, and a much darker face laughs from beneath painted masks…” – Seppun Daiori, Daimyō of the Seppun Family
The Imperial City is the ancient seat of the Hantei emperors and the capital of the Emerald Empire. Here, the nobles of the Great Clans vie for the Emperor’s favor, entrapping their rivals in deadly intrigues and pursuing schemes that stretch back to the earliest days of the Imperial dynasty. It is a place where the highest of ministers can be cast down with a well-placed whisper, and even the lowliest commoner might rise to catch the eye of the Emperor with their bravery or cunning. In this city, power and glory are as fleeting as the tolling of the Four Temples’ bells.
At the city’s heart, the Imperial palace rises ten stories into the sky. This heavily warded area is also known as the Forbidden City, for admittance to the palace and surrounding guest houses is strictly regulated by the Selection Tribunal. The Road of the Most High, which begins at the steps to the Imperial palace and travels south through the inner and outer cities, leads to the Emperor’s Road highway that connects the capital with the rest of Rokugan.
The city is divided into fifteen administrative districts, each run by a different Great Clan or Imperial family governor. Four of those districts, termed the Inner City, exist within the original enchanted walls of the city. The other eleven districts, called the Outer City, form a ring around the Inner City and are protected only by crumbling walls. The Petal Villages sprawl beyond the Outer City, burgeoning with newly constructed mansions. Beneath the city lies a maze of dark tunnels, secret hideouts, and hidden dangers.
The River of the Sun cuts through the middle of the city and empties into the Bay of the Sun Goddess, which is naturally sheltered by a pair of peninsulas to the north and south. Many legends surround the cataract known as Sorrow’s Falls, where the River of the Sun cascades from the enchanted walls of the Inner City into the bay, but canals that wend their way through the Outer City make the city a bustling trade hub linking Rokugan’s northern interior with the wider world.
The Imperial City and the Emperor’s Palace are also featured in the setting sourcebook for Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying, Emerald Empire, where you can read more about their history, the city’s districts and enchanted walls, and secrets long forgotten. The sourcebook also describes Rokugani courtly life and etiquette in detail, from a castle’s servants to a palace’s conniving courtiers and esteemed guests. Finally, the fate of the Imperial City is at stake in The Soul of Iuchiban, the second book in the duology by Evan Dicken, available as a paperback now in the US and as an ebook globally (the UK physical release date is November 23).
You can see the majesty of the Imperial City for yourself in the below excerpt of the Imperial Families chapter in Rokugan: The Art of Legends of the Five Rings from Aconyte Books. The 192-page, full-color art book releases October 17 in the US and as an ebook globally (the UK physical release date is December 7). Click here to order a copy today from your preferred retailer and download a preview PDF covering the Imperial City here!
You can find the Imperial City and other iconic locations of the Emerald Empire showcased on the Map of Rokugan Fine Art Print from Dark Horse Direct. This beautiful collector’s piece is 18-inches wide by 24-inches tall with gold foil stamping for the Legend of the Five Rings logo. Limited to just 300 units, this hand-numbered lithograph is embossed with the Dark Horse Direct seal of exclusivity. Display domains of the Great Clans in your home or office and pre-order today!