Zokyo Toshi

Zokyo Toshi, the City of Pleasures, the city of White Walls. Whatever is your desire, whatever your pleasure, you can find it here, if you know where to look. For the right price, of course.
The city was originally founded by several merchants traveling the trade routes that ran from the northern reaches of Rokugan to its southern coasts. The merchants hoped to create a hub of commerce in the area, a place that would let them rest, trade, do some business, and restock their wares before continuing on their way. From the beginning, Zakyo Toshi was a place where anything could be had for a price. After all, it was a city run by merchants, not samurai, and one that lay outside of any Clan’s specific territory. It soon became known colloquially as Pleasure City, since any item of luxury or leisure could easily be found within.
Although the new trade hub grew quickly in popularity, within a generation its prosperity was in danger. The use of the River of Gold to transport goods reduced its value to commerce. Even worse, the initial success of Zakyo Toshi had attracted all manner of bandits to the area, and they preyed upon the caravans as they traveled the land routes running north and south. This further encouraged the merchants to reduce their risk by moving their goods on waterway. Between the bandits and the river, the city almost dried up and blew away in the wind… but a couple members of the Merchant Council hit upon a scheme to revitalize the city.
The Merchant Council was another unique feature of the early city. As one of the early ounders put it, “When a bunch of rich commoners get together to found a city, there’s bound to be a lot of gunso and not enough hohei.” The merchants realized that none of them would submit to the others, so they decided rule by joint council would be the best way to keep the peace. Of course, once they settled that issue, they had to decide how they would pick those who would be on such a council. Being merchants, they decided profit would be their method. Whoever made the most profit in a year would be on the council for the next year. Given the eternal question of merchants’ honesty, this proved a rather fractious method of choosing leaders, but in the end they all agreed that the Emerald Magistrate who collected their annual taxes would look over all their books and decide who had made the largest profit. This would also keep them more-or-less honest in their
dealings, at least as honest as merchants could get. By all accounts, the expression on the face of their first Emerald Magistrate “judge” was quite memorable.
Seeking the assistance of an Emerald Magistrate also had other benefits. The city had been built on unaligned lands, a no-mans-land between the Scorpion, the Fox, and the Sparrow Clans, but not owing allegiance to any of them. This could easily have led to conflict with any or all of those Clans, so having an Emerald Magistrate collecting taxes from the city gave it a whiff of Imperial sanction. It also protected the city from any attempts those Clans might make to heap extra taxes on them, or even get taxed multiple times by different Clans.
When the young city’s troubles arrived, the Merchant Council was already in place. They decided to capitalize on Zakyo Toshi’s title of “Pleasure City” and re-invent the settlement to look similar to Ryoko Owari Toshi. Even down to the walls, though they decide that white looked better then the dark tones used in the City of Stories. Of course, renovating the city was not cheap, and with the trade declining, there wasn’t that much profit to put into
the project. The merchants bit down and took out loans from anyone who would lend them money, no matter they might be.
As one of the Council members later ruefully remarked, “The idea worked and it didn’t work all at the same time.”
The city was revitalized. New trade came in, not as much as the Merchant Council hoped, not necessarily the kind of trade they had hoped for, but enough to get the city back on its feet. The bandits who had been raiding the caravans, it turned out, needed a place to sell the goods and spend the money they had stolen. They came to Zakyo Toshi looking for good fences to buy their loot and a good time to have with their profits. And if they were not the customers the Merchant Council had hoped for, they did bring in the wealth the city desperately needed.
The city thus survived and, in its own questionable manner, thrived. As the bandits became customers instead of raiders, trade picked up again, and Zakyo Toshi’s strategic position in
southern Rokugan made it a stopping-place for many travelers. There are tales that the ronin Reichin came through here on his way north to battle the Bloodspeaker, and that
Moto Tsume stopped here to relax on his way to his fated battle with the Shadowlands. There are even claims that Naga visited the city during the time of the Clan Wars, although there are no residents living today who can claim to have seen one of that fabled race.
The city has also acquired a detachment of the Imperial Guard, assigned to support the local Emerald Magistrate and to protect the settlement from threats coming from the Shinomen Forest or elsewhere. They try their best to maintain order and keep everyone in the city honest, but this is usually a losing battle. However, it has discouraged the Clans from trying to take the city by force.
More recently, the city has been facing a series of shake-ups. A few decades ago the Mantis Clan tried to lay claim to these lands, citing a mandate from Emperor Toturi the First to collect taxes and rule any unaligned lands. This was by no means popular with the Merchant Council, especially when Mantis boats came up the river and their samurai began settling in the city, far from their beloved ocean. Although the Mantis eventually gave up their claim, they remain influential in the city.

Timeline
670 – Zakyo Toshi is founded by merchants traveling the southern land trade routes, who wish to create a stopover point near the Shinomen Mori. A small tributary of the River of Gold makes a perfect place to rest and replenish goods as well as continue trade over land or by water. The river is renamed Small Trade River.
687 – Overland trade routes through Zakyo Toshi begin to decline as more traders use the quicker method of shipping on the River of Gold.
701 – Due to the still-declining trade, the merchants of Zakyo Toshi decide to re-invent their city’s image. Modeling themselves off of Ryoko Owari Toshi (or more accurately, off the reputation of the latter city), the merchants believe they can create a haven for samurai
to relax and enjoy themselves. And since, unlike Ryoko Owari, Zakyo Toshi does not belong to the Scorpion Clan, the merchants hope the city will seem less threatening and be able to attract more samurai. The merchants raise capital from several questionable sources.
750 – The ronin Reichin passes through Zakyo Toshi on his way to meet the Emerald Champion at what will soon be called Seven Day Battle Plain. Reichin stops in the city briefly and recruits several ronin before he heads out to fight Iuchiban.
815 – Multiple sighting of Shadowlands creatures occur around Zakyo Toshi. The merchants request aid from the Emperor. A detachment of Imperial Guard is assigned to garrison the town, at the expense of the Merchant Council. In order to cover this expense the merchants again seek questionable sources of funding. The Shadowlands creatures never make a full scale assault on the city, thankfully, being apparently more interested in the nearby Shinomen Mori.
824 – Daimyo Moto Tsume leads a large force of Moto troops south, swearing to crush the Shadowlands menace once and for all. On his way he stops and re-provisions at Zakyo Toshi.
925 – Shinjo Fujimaka and Ikoma Gohesu pass through and resupply at Zakyo Toshi as they begin their journey to map out the Shinomen Mori.
1090 – War between the Hare and the Fox erupts. This event threatens the safety of Zakyo Toshi, as the conflict spills into the surrounding unaligned lands. Despite claiming neutrality in the conflict, the city’s merchants sell supplies to both sides. The protection of the Imperial Guard maintains the city’s status as neutral ground, and eventually both sides in the conflict to send their bushi to Zakyo Toshi for rest and relaxation.
1131 – The Mantis claim the right to tax and regent unaligned lands, citing their Clan Charter from Emperor Toturi the First. Zakyo Toshi is included by the Mantis in their definition of “unaligned lands” and the city sees an influx of Mantis samurai and merchants.

City Denziens
All Rokugani cities are populated largely by commoners,
but Zakyo Toshi holds the distinction of also being founded
and, for most of its history, governed by commoners.
Those samurai who reside in the city long-term tend
to be heavily influenced by their surroundings, and are
quite accustomed to rubbing shoulders with peasants and
merchants. To outsiders, the samurai of Zakyo Toshi –
most of them ronin – seem almost blasphemous in their
behavior. Furthermore, the city’s most powerful factions
are not samurai at all, but criminal gangs.
There are a number of such gangs operating within Zakyo
Toshi, ranging from small packs to four major organizations
with formidable resources. The first of these is known
simply as the Firemen. While the term Firemen in Rokugan
usually refers to a group of citizens organized to fight
fires (an important duty in fire-prone Rokugani cities), in
Zakyo Toshi this group is a thinly disguised criminal gang,
concerned with the collection of protection money from
merchants, geisha houses, and gambling dens. They get
their name from the flame-like tattoos that cover their right
arms, as well as the fact that they are known to burn down
the buildings of people who do not pay protection money.
However, when they do burn down buildings, they are very
careful not to let the fire spread to those who have actually
paid for their protection – an uncontrolled fire would bring
down the wrath of the merchants and possibly draw the
attention of the Imperial Guard, and now the Scorpion. The
oyabun (bossman) of this group is an elderly gentleman
named Kagi, known for his taste for fine-quality sake.
The Bawdy Carp, another of the four largest gangs in
Zakyo Toshi, are recognizable by their water-motif tattoos,
which always have a white koi and a black koi entwined
together somewhere in the design. They own a number
of geisha houses and less reputable establishments, the
latter catering to those entertainments that geisha do not
provide. In addition to these shady business practices,
they also involve themselves in extortion for money and
political gain. They tend to confine their activities to
within the Pleasure and Gambling districts of Zakyo Toshi,
where their strength is greatest. The oyabun of the Bawdy
Carp is a man named Noriko.
The Silent Canary, the third of the four largest gangs
in Zakyo Toshi, get their name from both their reluctance
to talk when captured and the silence with which they
move while on a smuggling job. Their identifying tattoo,
naturally, is a yellow canary. Additionally, if the canary
is shown in a cage, it means the gang member has been
incarcerated at least once. The Silent Canary’s main
business is moneylending and smuggling in contraband
items, such as gaijin gear (but not opium – that market
is controlled by the Brotherhood of Autumn). They have
a number of methods for smuggling things into the city,
including a natural cave system that passes beneath the
walls of the city. As moneylenders, they prefer to lend
their money to the city’s merchants, since that offers the
highest profit margins, but they are not above making
loans to samurai or even ronin. After all, it never hurts to
have a good swordsman in their debt. The oyabun of the
Silent Canary is Daisuke.
The last of the four large gangs is known as the
Brotherhood of Autumn. At first glance they appear
to be monks, what with their shaved heads and brown
robes, and this look has earned them the ire of the few
representatives of the Brotherhood of Shinsei in the city.
Their distinguishing tattoo is either a tree shedding its
leaves, or a leaf turning from green to an autumnal color.
The Brotherhood of Autumn is concerned with the opium
trade in Zakyo Toshi, and they control the infamous
so-called Ugokasu Ichiba, the “Moving Market” (see
the Location Guide for details). While they supply most
of the opium dens in Zakyo Toshi, they do not actually
operate any of them – their concern is only supply, not
distribution. Their oyabun is named Qiuye.

Location Guide
Zakyo Toshi is a chaotic city, one often lacking
in the sort of clear neighborhoods and district lines
that characterize more conventional Rokugani cities.
Businesses of questionable nature can be found in many
different districts and there are few controls on movement
within the city walls.
The southern half of Zakyo Toshi has no bridges across the
Small Trade River. While this would be an inconvenience
in most cities, here, enterprising individuals have turned
it into an opportunity. These individuals, known as the
Ferrymen, use small boats to transport customers from
one side of the river to the other, charging a small fee.
(The Ferrymen are cautious about how much they charge
samurai, especially those from outside the city, since they
could easily take offense and cut the ferryman down.) Their
raucous cries of “ferry for passage, one bu” are notorious
in the city, and some claim that the riverbanks here are
almost as loud as the dock district when trade barges are
unloading. Of course, the Ferrymen’s small skiffs have to
share the river with those same trade barges, making things
very dangerous for the small boats if a barge captain is not
paying attention to the waterway. Still, the inconvenience
of having to take the time to walk to the bridges often
outweighs the danger, so the ferrymen stay in business.
Unlike the city it tried to imitate, Ryoko Owari Toshi,
Zakyo Toshi does not have an island for its Floating World.
The geisha district is located right in midst of the city, and
most samurai walk right into the geisha houses carrying
their weapons. Each house treats this differently – some
hire a sword polisher to meet their samurai guests at the
door, some have a weapons closet much like those found
in many inns in Rokugan. No true geisha house will allow
a samurai to remain armed with anything larger then a
tanto once he enters, but of course, not all the houses in
Zakyo Toshi are “true” geisha houses, and deadly brawls
are not unknown. All houses, regardless of their nature,
have hired help to restrain and subdue troublemakers.
Inside Zakyo Toshi’s geisha houses, the matron and the
bouncers are the law – not even the Imperial Guard likes
to have to settle disputes in these establishments.
It may be noted that even the most formal of Zakyo Toshi’s
geisha houses do not follow the general Rokugani custom of
requiring an introduction from their customers. This custom
began early in the city’s history, on the reasoning that if this
was to truly become a city of pleasure, a city where samurai
could relax, it would be easier to allow the samurai to gain
entrance without the need for such elaborate rituals. After
all, visitors to Zakyo Toshi would be coming from all parts
of Rokugan and would not necessarily know anyone in the
city who would vouch for them. This policy both worked
and failed. It worked in attracting samurai from around the
Empire, but failed to attract the caliber of samurai the city’s
rulers had hoped for.
The Slippery Eel
One of the most famous geisha houses in Zakyo Toshi,
renowned for its food and its excellent back massages.
There are some nasty rumors that it has ties to the Bawdy
Carp gang, which are true, as many of the bouncers here
work for that gang. As such, samurai visiting this place
can easily get more entertainment then a mere night of
song and dance, if they are seeking something less savory.
However, it may cost them more then they bargained for.
Due to the Bawdy Carp gang acting as the house’s
enforcers, trouble here is usually dealt with fairly quickly.
The gang members carry easily concealed clubs or tonfa
to subdue their more rowdy guests. Those guests who
do suffer the attentions of the bouncers are often beaten
unconscious, stripped naked, and left in the street with their
swords. Repeat offenders tend to disappear.
The Carp use this house as a source of information and
blackmail, but they use what they get very sparingly –
they do not wish to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.
Shinsei’s Cup
Shinsei’s Cup is an unusual geisha house that has opened
only recently. It offers the usual selection of entertainments,
but all visitors to the house are required to wear a mask. If
the visitor does not have a mask, the house will provide one
for them as long as they promise to return it (they require
a samurai’s chop in order to lend out a mask). The house
claims it is easier for a samurai to take his face off if he is
not worried about showing it at all, and the mask also saves
the samurai from any possible embarrassment due to seeing
someone that he knows.
In fact, the Scorpion have opened this
house, beginning the process of putting
themselves in control of the city. They
have offered to buy the contract of
any geisha in the city who can prove
her worth to them. This method
secures the loyalty of the geisha,
especially since the Scorpion can also
guarantee a safe work environment.
Many prominent geisha have already
relocated to Shinsei’s Cup, bringing
their clientele with them.
The game of the masks is a new touch
for Zakyo Toshi, one that has worked
quite well for the Scorpion at their own
settlement of Toshi Aitate. They hope that
samurai wearing such masks will feel more
relaxed and will talk more freely. Since
the masks the samurai guests wear can
be matched with their chops, the Scorpion
know exactly who is saying what
The House of Song
Owned by an older woman named Chiasa, the
House of Song is known (as its name suggests)
for its unparalleled singers. It is said that no finer
pleasure can be found in Zakyo Toshi than to spend
the evening at the House of Song. It is also said that
the owner has a way of ferreting out a samurai’s
secret desires and catering to them.
However, Chiasa permits absolutely no overt
bawdiness in her establishment, nor does she
tolerate brawling or crudity. And while some
houses in this city will not hesitate to admit
anyone, even someone clearly afflicted with
the Shadowlands Taint, Chiasa is far more
selective. Those who violate her rules are
politely asked to leave and are banned from the
house for one week. If the perpetrator has the
gall to commit a second offense, or returns before
the banishment ends, they soon find themselves falling
afoul of the law. Chiasa has an excellent memory for
faces, and one of her favorite customers is the local
Emerald Magistrate. Even the city’s most powerful gangs
have learned to give this house a wide berth. It remains
to be seen how the city’s new Scorpion overlords will
approach her.
The Blue Lotus
Another unusual geisha house, located in the southern
districts of Zakyo Toshi. Many samurai who have visited it
claim, “One has not truly partaken of the delights of Zakyo
Toshi until one has visited the Blue Lotus.”
What makes the Blue Lotus so unusual is that only
half the clientele are in the house at any one time. The
house owns and employs a number of small skiffs, and its
customers are able to punt up and down the river with their
geisha companions, in complete and delightful privacy.
Often they light candles and set them afloat on the river, a
style which others Rokugani might consider unpleasantly
close to the customs of the Bon Festival, but here is simply
a way of giving the night a special ambience.
Oddly, the Blue Lotus is independently owned and is not
controlled by any Clan or gang.
The Jade Cup
A small gambling house whose main claim to fame
is the green porcelain cups they use in their dice game.
It is also one of the rowdier houses in Zakyo Toshi, and
fights from drunken patrons often spill out into the streets.
This establishment has only opened within the last couple
years, and seems to attract the baser elements of Zakyo
Toshi. Rumor has it that more then just gambling goes on
inside its walls. It is, in fact, controlled by the Spider Clan.
The Naga’s Gaze
The Naga’s Gaze was originally opened by one of the
Unicorn who came to patrol the Shinomen Mori. He and
his brethren needed something to do to ease their boredom
between their shifts on duty, and a gambling house suited
their tastes perfectly. The business has been passed down
from father to son for several generations.
The Naga’s Gaze is known not only for its dice games,
but also for strange gambling games using thin placards
of wood with pictures on them, a concept the Unicorn
brought back from the Burning Sands.
Shinsei’s Wind
Owned and operated by a merchant known as Iwao, the
Shinsei’s Wind is notorious for the signboard outside. The
sign depicts the revered monk Shinsei with a gust of wind
coming from his backside.
That being said, Shinsei’s Wind is one of the cleaner
and more honest establishments in the city. It does have its
rough nights, and the occasional fight erupts, but Iwao’s
bouncers clear out such troublesome customers swiftly.
Iwao tries to keep the worst sorts out of his establishment
altogether, and keeps a sharp eye out for anyone showing
symptoms of the Shadowlands Taint, finding excuses to
turn away such dubious patrons.
Iwao does have something of a soft spot for those who
are down on their luck, however, and often puts them up
for the night in one of the spare rooms on the second
floor. He is even known to lend them money if they truly
need it. Those who try to take advantage of his generosity
are sorry, though, for he seems to have a knack for telling
which people really are down on their luck and which are
just trying to sell him a sob story.
The Chicken Dinner
The Hiyoko Seisan, or Chicken Dinner, is a popular
gambling den of many ronin. It is named for the house’s
tradition of giving any ronin a chicken dinner on their
first win of the evening. This makes it a popular place
to go when money gets tight. The house does not extend
credit to ronin, however, and no exceptions are made for
unfortunate circumstances.
The Garrison
Since the annexation of Zakyo Toshi, the Imperial
garrison has been greatly reduced in force. Originally
assigned to keep watch over the potentially troubled
border between the Scorpion, the Fox, and the Sparrow
Clans, the Imperial Guard soon found itself being drawn
into policing the city as much as watching the frontier. It
is thus with some relief that the troops are now leaving
this corrupting place in favor of the Scorpion.
The small Imperial force that remains now shares the
barrack with the Scorpion Clan guards that have arrived
to take over protecting and policing the city. This has
caused a certain amount of tension between the two sets
of troops, but so far no overt hostilities have occurred.
A new barracks is currently under construction next to
the old barracks. Once it is complete, the two groups of
troops will be separated. Even to the untrained eye, the
new barracks seem to be heavily fortified.
The Scorpion
Shrine
This is one of the projects of
the city’s new Scorpion Governor,
Yogo Maiku. The shrine is being
constructed in the northern
residential districts, and is
intended to venerate several
Scorpion ancestors, most
notably Bayushi himself, Bayushi
Tangen, and Bayushi Shoju. The
latter choice is causing some stir
amongst the populace, as most
Rokugani, even in Zakyo Toshi, are
not sure if Shoju should be treated
with such reverence. But who is
going to argue that question with a
Scorpion? Yogo Maiku has promised
that shugenja of the clan will attend
and maintain the shrine once it is
complete.
The real reason the shrine is being
constructed is that Maiku knows of
the smugglers’ caverns beneath the city.
The shrine conceals a small tunnel down to these caverns.
Maiku intends to use the tunnels for Scorpion Clan
business such as stockpiling supplies, hiding contraband
goods, and moving troops quietly should the need arise.
Ugokasu Ichiba
The Ugokasu Ichiba or “Moving Market” is a loose conglomeration
of smugglers and illicit opium dealers. The
market is so named because it never stays in one place in
the city for more then a day at a time. The Brotherhood
of Autumn provides security for the market and scouts
locations for it to take up residence, most often in an alley
or side street. The stalls of the market are simple affairs of
wood and cheap silk, easily assembled and taken down, or
just as easily left behind in haste.
The market does a brisk business in many different illicit
substances, including opium, other drugs, and a few
poisons. It is actually fairly easy to find, as the booths tend
to be quite colorful, and anyone asking around town can
locate it fairly easily.
In the past, the Imperial Guard tended to leave the Moving
Market alone, mainly because every time they tried to squash
it, it reappeared within a week. No matter how many arrests
they made, no matter how many stalls they burned, it always
came back, so eventually they gave up and let it be. For their
part, the merchants of the market have also been cautious
about how freely they sell their more questionable products.
After all, if someone were to use what they bought at the
market to do harm to an influential person, the merchants
would likely be hunted down and hung like common thieves.
It remains to be seen whether the Scorpion will allow
the Moving Market to operate with the same degree of
freedom it has enjoyed in the past.
Pearl Gate
Pearl Gate, also known as Exile’s Gate, is the westernmost
gate of the city, and the gate nearest the Shinomen Mori.
When the Naga first visited the city in 1125, they entered
through this gate. It was renamed the Pearl Gate in their
honor.
Lately it has taken on a different name, Exile’s Gate.
Ronin who cause too much trouble in Zakyo Toshi are
marched out of the city through this gate, with the obvious
implications of being told to go get themselves lost in the
Shinomen. It is also the gate through which the city’s eta
enter and leave every day for work.
The Pearl Gate is kept closed at night.
The Plum Blossom Gate
The northernmost gate in the city is known as Sumomo
Sakari, the Plum Blossom Gate. This is the main entrance
to the residential section of Zakyo Toshi. It was named for
the sacred fruit that sustained Shinsei during his fasting,
in the hope that this would bring good luck and prosperity
to the city. This gate also closes at nightfall.
Snowfall Gate
The northeastern gate is known as the Kosetsu or
Snowfall Gate. It gained this name from the habit of many
residents coming to this gate to watch the first snowfall of
the year, especially if they have no garden in their home
to do so. This gate, due to its location near the pleasure
and gambling districts, remains open at all hours unless
the city is under attack.
Honeymoon Gate
The city’s southeastern gate, known as the Shinkonryoko
or Honeymoon Gate, leads directly to the gambling
and pleasure district of Zakyo Toshi. This is the gate
most travelers enter when they come to the city to relax.
Originally named in the hope of attracting newlyweds to
the city, this gate’s name has become something of a joke
in modern times. Much like the Snowfall Gate, this one
always remains open unless the city is threatened by war.
Opportunity Gate
The southernmost gate is known as the Kikai or
Opportunity Gate. It leads to the merchant district of Zakyo
Toshi, and is the main route by which trade caravans enter
and leave the city. The gate itself is of thick mahogany
wood with the symbol of a koku carved into each door.
This gate also remains open at all times, since caravans
respect no hour for arrival or departure.
The Docks
Small Trade River flows from Shinomen Mori, through
Zakyo Toshi, and down into the River of Gold. The river is,
as its name implies, fairly small, with only enough breadth
and depth to let two trading barges pass – and then only
if their captains know what they are doing.
The eastern bank of the river is home to the docks
district. These docks are a very loud and raucous business
center during the day, as barges come in almost hourly
and goods are offloaded into warehouses or merchant
carts. Some merchants have even opened stalls along the
docks, hocking fresh fruit and vegetables straight off the
barges.
The Counting House &
Council Chambers
Located near the Governor’s mansion is a large round
building that looks more like something found in Unicorn
lands than a typical Rokugani building. Two stories tall,
built entirely from wood from the nearby Shinomen Mori,
its plain exterior belies the riches within its walls.
The inside is full of luxuriant amenities such as fine silk
pillows, rugs from the far-off city of Medinaat el-Salaam,
and polished woodwork from the Ivory Kingdoms. The
main room holds six seats, five for the council members,
and one for the Emerald Magistrate when he attends the
meetings.
Originally the Counting House was the seat of power
in Zakyo Toshi, but this began to change when the
Mantis annexed the city in 1131. They installed the first
Governor of the city in order to watching over the place
and collect its taxes, and built a mansion for him to reside.
More recently, the arrival of the Scorpion and their own
Governor has further eroded the power of the Merchant
Council.
The Council still meets once a month to discuss business,
mostly reports on what goods are selling at what prices
around the Empire, as well as to discuss personal news
and concerns, such as bandit raids on their caravans. They
have not given up all hope of retaining self-government
yet, but it is slowly waning now that another Great Clan
has laid claim to their land.
Shrine to Ebisu
Located just inside the Opportunity Gate is a large
shrine to Eibisu, the Fortune of Honest Work. The irony
of worshipping such a Fortune in a city dedicated to vice
and self-indulgence is obvious, of course. While the shrine
is not large by Rokugani standards, it is very opulent and
well-kept, perhaps a gesture by merchants who do not
wish their dubious city to incur Eibisu’s wrath.
The Brotherhood of Shinsei tends to this shrine, keeping
it clean despite its constant stream of visitors, and making
sure the incense sticks and prayer strips are in good
supply. Every caravan that passes through Opportunity
Gate makes a stop at the shrine to send prayers to Eibisu
that their journey be safe and that they have good fortune.
Since caravans are leaving the city all of the time, the
shrine never closes its doors.
Shrine to Daikoku
Slightly smaller then the Shrine to Eibisu and located
right next to the Counting House is the shrine to Daikoku,
the Fortune of Wealth. This shrine is even more extravagant
in its opulence, with the statue of Daikoku being cast of
solid gold. With such wealthy patrons as the Merchant
Council, it is expected to be so.
The Council never meets without first coming to the
shrine and praying for Daikoku’s wisdom to shin on
their endeavors. However, it is not unusual to see grubby
ronin praying at the lavish shrine as well, right alongside
elegantly attired merchants, for Daikoku favors gamblers
as well as merchants.
Those who seek the Fortune’s blessing find the shrine’s
doors open at all hours of the day and night. The
Brotherhood of Shinsei keeps at least one monk on late
night vigil, both to greet guests to the shrine and to watch
for thieves.
The shrine is also unusual for offering a number of
unoccupied rooms where peasants or samurai can stay and
rest. This tradition started when the monks noticed that
many a late-night reveler came to the shrine to celebrate
their good fortune, only to fall asleep while giving thanks
to Daikoku. Rather then turn these worshippers out on the
streets, the monks give them a place to sleep it off until
morning.
The North Bridge
An apt, if unimaginative, name for the wide and sturdy
bridge that crosses the Small Trade River in the heart
of the residential district. This bridge was designed to
accommodate not only foot traffic, but caravan wagons as
well. Like the Shobai bridge nearby, it could easily be used
to move troops in a time of war.
The Trade Bridge
The other large bridge inside Zakyo Toshi, designed
(like the North Bridge) to accommodate caravans rather
than merely simple foot traffic. Trade Bridge is located in
the northern part of the trade district and allows goods
brought upstream on barges and unloaded on the east
bank of the Small Trade River to be easily carted across to
the other side of town.
Ambition Bridge
South of town and past the eta district is Ambition
Bridge, so named because of the daring architecture
involved in its creation. Ambition Bridge is a stone and
wood fortification built tall enough to allow barges to pass
underneath unhindered, but sturdy and wide enough to
accommodate caravans leaving the city. Indeed, so sturdy
is its construction that many claim it feels as if they are
traveling on solid ground.
One Tree Brewery
Located just inside the Plum Gate in the residential
district is the One Tree Brewery. It produces sake from the
city’s rice paddies for many of the inns in Zakyo Toshi,
and also creates a very limited run of pear wine every
year.
The brewery was founded by a merchant’s widow who
had lost everything but a single pear tree. She decided
to try her hand at brewing, and soon her friends were
marveling at the unique taste of her pear wine. A sweet
but strong alcohol, albeit not as strong as shochu, nor as
dry as traditional sake, the brewery’s pear wine is quite
a sensation in Zakyo Toshi, and its limited quantities
command a high price.
The Fat Rat
The Fat Rat is a merchant’s shop and deals mainly in
general goods such as clothing, silks, footware, and the
like. It used to be known as the Laughing Cat, but recently
it had a severe run of bad luck – stolen goods, gang
shakedowns, and late deliveries. In the hope of changing
their fortune, the owners renamed their business the Fat
Rat, in honor of the servants of Daikoku and the Scorpion
Clan’s annexation of Zakyo Toshi. (The Scorpion consider
rats to be a symbol of good luck.)
In actuality, some of the misfortunes were planned
sabotage, an attempt by the Governor to break the power
of the Merchant Council. Yogo Maiku’s advisor, Bayushi
Chou, suggested that one way to deal with the Merchant
Council would be to gain control of one of the Council
seats. Since hearing that recommendation, Maiku has
surreptitiously wrought misfortune on the owner of the
Laughing Cat, with the intention of arranging the purchase
of his business once he becomes sufficiently desperate.
After that, it is just a matter of showing profit to gain a
seat on the Council.
The Dusty Caravan
When the Unicorn Clan came south to help guard the
Shinomen Mori, more then just their bushi came with
them. Enterprising merchants traveled south as well,
hoping to make a name for themselves by opening a store
in Zakyo Toshi selling unusual and exotic merchandise.
The current owner of the Dusty Caravan is a merchant
named Saburo. He uses his lord’s connections to a trader in
the Burning Sands to acquire foreign spices, luxury goods,
and curiosities. The store deals mostly in spices and a few
bits of non-contraband gaijin gear, and has managed to do
quite well, though not quite as well as originally hoped.
Saburo is thinking of expanding into more illicit goods,
and while the Scorpion annexation of Zakyo Toshi means
a Great Clan is now in control, he believes it is unlikely
they will strictly enforce the laws, thereby decreasing his
risk and increasing his profit.
The Listing Ship
The Mantis Clan, known for their economic and
mercantile expertise, have admired Zakyo Toshi from
the time they first laid claim to it in 1131, seeing it as a
potential trade hub to help move their goods into the heart
of Rokugan. It was only natural then for them to open a
business while the city was under their mandate. Located
by the docks, the Listing Ship is a large shop offering
every manner of (legal) gear that anyone could ask for. If
they do not have it, they know where to acquire it, and are
happy to do so for a suitable price.
Shogi’s Pawn
This store has been around since the Eighth century,
handed down through the generations from father to child.
It buys and sells anything that can be brought through
the door, and is willing to buy things from customers and
then not sell them for up to one month, thus letting the
customer potentially buy back what he sold. This is a very
unusual business for Rokugan, and perhaps only in a city
like Zakyo Toshi could it survive and indeed thrive. Shogi’s
Pawn is perfect for down-on-their-luck samurai, desperate
for money and with their swords rusting
in their sheaths. Of course, the owners
have long since learned to be suitably
cautious and subservient when dealing
with embarrassed samurai customers.
The Fuzzy Peach Inn
This two-story inn is famous for its open
courtyard in the center of the building, accessed
from all the main rooms, where can be found a small
garden with a lone, well-manicured peach tree. The
proprietor hires fine singers and entertainers to play and
perform in the garden when the first blooms of the peach
tree open, making it a kind of local holiday. All of the
inn’s guest rooms have windows opening to the central
courtyard as well, offering a view of the peach tree from
both the first and second floors.
The Starry Night Inn
Located just inside the Plum Gate in the residential
district is the One Tree Brewery. It produces sake from the
city’s rice paddies for many of the inns in Zakyo Toshi,
and also creates a very limited run of pear wine every
year.
The brewery was founded by a merchant’s widow who
had lost everything but a single pear tree. She decided
to try her hand at brewing, and soon her friends were
marveling at the unique taste of her pear wine. A sweet
but strong alcohol, albeit not as strong as shochu, nor as
dry as traditional sake, the brewery’s pear wine is quite
a sensation in Zakyo Toshi, and its limited quantities
command a high price.
The Celestial Rest
Located by the Pearl Gate, the Celestial Rest inn caters to
those who are truly down on their luck. While it is a clean
building, it is not especially well maintained. The inn does
not charge rent, but instead depends on donations from
its visitors to sustain it. Not surprisingly, those visitors
are usually not well-financed if they are staying at the
Celestial Rest.
The inn is not truly a business, but is run by monks
from the Order of Thunder. It offers clean futons and
edible, sustaining food, but nothing more. The monks, who
come here from the Temple of Osano-Wo on the Plains of
Thunder, work at the inn for a few months at a time before
returning to the temple, spiritually strengthened by the
experience.

Important NPCs
Hayate
Gang Oyabun
Hayate is the crafty and cunning chief of the four major
gangs in Zakyo Toshi, although none of the individual
gangs know he is in charge of all of them. He started out
selling his services as a spy to each of the four major gangs,
dealing dirt on each gang to the others. In each gang he
was known by a different name and face. He never got any
tattoos to show gang affiliation, claiming that such things
would hinder his ability to find out information. Slowly he
rose in rank within each gang, and wherever he was put
in charge, trouble with the other gangs seemed to wane.
Through trickery, guile, and an occasional resort to
poison, he managed to become the head of the Firemen,
the Bawdy Carp, the Silent Canary, and the Brotherhood
of Autumn. He claimed to each of them that he was approached by a messenger from one of the other gangs
and that the other gangs had offered an alliance. Thus,
as leader of each of the four gangs, he welded them into
a single powerful criminal organization. Each gang still
operates independently, reporting to one of his personas.
He has never tried to gain a seat on the Merchant
Council, since to do so he would have to actually create a
real business and show some sort of legitimate profit, all of
which would bring far too much scrutiny. Instead Hayate
is happy with controlling the underworld of Zakyo Toshi,
carefully not letting his grasp exceed his reach. He well
knows that should he want something from the Merchant
Council, he has but to ask. If they were so foolish as to
deny his request, he would make life both unbearable and
unprofitable for them, and they know it.
Recent years, however, have revealed new threats to his
power. A new gang-like group, the Spider Clan, have come
to his city and posed at helping to clean it up, disrupting
many of his gangs’ activities. Now the Scorpion are here,
threatening to do the same on a larger scale. He has no
love for either group.

Nyoko
the Eta
The de facto leader of the Eta in Zakyo Toshi, Nyoko,
is an elderly woman. She may even have been beautiful
once, but the life of an eta and the many years working
in Zakyo Toshi have not been kind to her. She is tanned
and weathered, and wears her gray hair trimmed short so
it does not get in her way as she works. Her intelligence
and no-nonsense demeanor has earned her a position of
leadership among the eta, although she is not their official
headman. She tends to see her position as more of a hassle
than an honor, since it interferes with her regular work
whenever others insist on bringing their troubles to her.
Currently she is faced with a dilemma. Her people are
forced to live outside the city walls, both by long-standing
Rokugani tradition and, more practically, because the
stench from the crematorium and leatherworks tends to
upset the sensibilities of those who have come to Zakyo
Toshi for a good time. Scrounging for shelter, the eta have
discovered a cave system beneath part of the city, much of
which is already in use by smugglers. More importantly,
they have found a trove of emeralds in those caves. Nyoko
knows that her people must be very careful about how
they spend these gems, as too much wealth will quickly
bring them unwelcome attention from the higher castes.
For now she has begun to trade them quietly to the Silent
Canaries, in exchange for small improvements for her
people, such as proper lumber to build sturdier shelters,
rather then rotted wood found in the forests.

The Merchant Council
The Merchant Council is the old decision-making body
of Zakyo Toshi. Originally it was comprised of the five
merchants who joined forces to found the city. Over time
the original families died out, but the need for leadership
continued. To fulfill that need, the merchants developed a
system whereby membership on the Council is decided on
the basis of annual profits. This is a system quite unlike
anything elsewhere in Rokugan, and more than a little
shocking to those of proper sensibilities.
The Merchant Council decides what caravans to finance
and which provinces to trade with for the year, as well as
what civic improvements need to be done and who will pay
for them. With that kind of control, it is very infrequent
for Council seats to actually change hands, since they
effectively get to decide what will be profitable for the next
year. However, bad seasons do happen, and caravans do get
raided (sometimes at the behest of a rival merchant).

Zokyo Toshi

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