Monday, March 25, 2013

Kaidan Kickstarter Update #29: A Peek at Atosa Province (by Jonathan McAnulty)

Michael has been working on new maps of Kaidan, including Provincial Maps. He posted his map of Atosa province on Facebook today, so I snatched it up and thought I would share it with you, along with a little bit about the province. -Jonathan

Best known as the once-home of the fire-demon Kagutsuchi, Atosa province is a beautiful and fertile province filled with gently rolling hills and thick, lush forests. Despite its great beauty and bounty, it has been sparsely settled by the Kaidanese. The yokai also largely avoid the land, for it has an evil, and not entirely undeserved, reputation to this day. The forests of Atosa are filled with the ruins of dungeons and minor oni abound in the land, as do many other dread monsters. Because of the abundance of ruins and monsters, Atosa is often the destination of would-be heroes and treasure hunters. Though the majority of these adventurers perish in ignominy, enough succeed in finding artifacts and treasures so as to assure that there are always a few more arriving in the port of Kyobe each day. 

Atosa is a mixture of thick forests and rolling grasslands, but possesses little in the way of farmed land. Spruce and firs abound, though not quite so thickly as in Genjima and Haruma. Birch can be found scattered throughout the region, and beech trees are also not uncommon. The majority of the forests, however, are comprised of deciduous trees, primarily oaks, with ashwood, elm and basswood intermingled, dwarf bamboo forming the heaviest undergrowth.

As elsewhere on Genshu, bears are common in Atosa, though there are more black bears than brown. Wolves are also prevalent within Atosa. Genshu wolves possess large, narrow heads and long, curved canines, giving them a somewhat distinct appearance. There are many spotted deer, but their numbers are kept in check by the wolves. Birds are abundant throughout, and include giant eagles, giant hawks, sea eagles, puffins, grouse, woodpeckers, tits, and owls. There are also numerous foxes in Atosa, though relatively few of the magical variety. Atosa foxes often possess a vividly bright scarlet coloration, and are nicknamed kitsunehi, fire-foxes. Smaller mammals include rabbits, weasels, martens, raccoon dogs, and bats. The most common snake in Atosa is the mamushi, a viper, though the bite is rarely fatal.

Atosa contains few tall mountains, but is filled with numerous low-level peaks and rolling hills. The most famous mountain in Atosa is Mount Hinomoto, an active volcano whose fires can sometimes be seen from as far away as Kura island and Taro province in Yonshu. Hinomoto'yama is overshadowed by its taller sister peak, Mount Hinodiwa, also a volcano, but not quite as active. While the top of Hinomoto is kept barren by the lava flow, vegetation grows heavily upon Hinodiwa and every few years, normally in the fall, one can expect a major fire, ignited by the lava, to sweep the slopes.

Another Atosa mountain, infamous in its history, is Mount Onikirui, atop which once stood the fortress of Kagutshuchi. Though nothing remains of the surface ruins, the mountain is honeycombed with dungeons. Evil creatures, including oni-brutes, often lair within these maze-like tunnels. Lord Kurashima maintains a perpetual bounty on oni killed in the province and adventurers seeking the bounty are well advised to begin their quest upon and under Onikirui.

Rivers and Lakes
Jakubi-gawa is the primary river in Atosa. Most of the farms of Atosa lie near to the banks of the Jakubi as do nearly half the villages in the province. The province's second major river, the Ookami-gawa, is forty miles long. It is named after the large number of wolves which patrol its length and farmers along the Ookami-gawa are in constant conflict with these creatures.

Atosa is ruled by Lord Kurashima no Takeshiko, who bears the twin distinctions of being the last, to this point, daimyo appointed by the Shogun and of being the only daimyo with no discernible pedigree. Lord Kurashima has ruled his province for only two hundred and seven years and is something of an enigma. The previous daimyo, Otayama no Daijiromaro, who, according to rumor, had fallen out of favor with the Shogun, was, along with all his household, destroyed in a single night by Lord Kurashima and his retainers, who immediately thereafter took up residence in the provincial palace. Such was the obvious power of Kurashima and his followers that few openly questioned his right to do as he had done. And none dared question, openly or privately, after emissaries from both Fukuhara-kyo and Atsu-jo arrived congratulating Lord Kurashima on his new position. Exactly who Kurashima is, or where he came from remains a mystery to all, excepting the Shogun.

Kurashima is nominally under the oversight of Lord Ashikuma of Atsu-jo, but there is seldom evidence of this oversight within Atosa, and it is apparent to most observers that Kurashima is very much his own man. The daimyo maintains a small and unpretentious household, comprised of hand-selected retainers, most of whom arrived at the same time he did and who each fulfill any number of functions. The provincial cabinet is likewise sparse, but competent. Taxes within the province are kept low; they are, in fact, the lowest in the entire empire. Regulations are also few, and it is well known that such regulations as exist are easily bypassed, so long as coins are paid to the right official. The combination of low taxes and light regulation has led to an influx of smugglers, pirates, and like ilk, into Kyobe, a situation much approved of by the daimyo, who sometimes titles himself, only partially in jest, as Kaizokuou, the pirate king.

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