Sun Tao was one of the most famuous ronin in Rokugani history. His 145 treatises on warfare, collectively known as the Book of Sun Tao, was often valued as greatly as the work called Leadership, by the Kami Akodo himself. [1] He was generally believed to have lived during the reign of Hantei Genji, although some versions of his legend claim he lived much later, as late as the reign of Hantei XVII. [2] It is possible that Sun Tao was actually an operative of the Yodotai who came to Rokugan to gain the trust of the people of a region that would eventually become a target of the ever-expanding Yodotai Empire.

Yodotai Spy Edit

The Yodotai were well known to send out mercenaries as scouts and spies into a land targeted to be conquer. Over the course of several years, the mercenaries gained the trust of the people and learned their secrets. Once they had fully analyzed the people's weaknesses, they sent those notes back to the main Yodotai army. Few armies stood a chance against the might of the Yodotai forces when all of their secrets had been exposed. [3] Sun Tao looked as one of these Yodotai spies.

Travels Edit

Sun Tao's origins were unknown, but he began his training with the Lion Clan during the rule of Hantei XVII, and traveled the Empire as a ronin so he could get a more complete understanding of battle, war, and bushido. He revised his knowledge and skills upon learning with each of the Great Clans, and eventually left the Empire for the Burning Sands, to find the Ki-Rin Clan. He was never heard from again, and the Unicorn Clan has no record of ever finding or being found by the general. This, partially, was why Unicorn battle tactics were such a shocking divergance from what most Rokugani tactitians expect. [4]

Crane Clan Edit

Sun Tao wanted to travel from Clan to clan and learn what he could. He believed the message was more important than the messenger and to gain the other clans trust he cast aside his name. He knew the Lion teachings so he traveled to the Crane Clan Champion and requested to study under him. As a test he was sent to clean out a ronin held castle. He did so, amazing the champion. He left and promised to return and tell him what he learned. [5]

Lord Wu Edit

Sun Tao was challenged by the Crane to clean out a ronin band that was occupying a castle in their provinces. The Bandit Lord Wu was infamous for his collection of geisha, capturing them in raids and keeping them as concubines within his castle. Wu was approached by Sun Tao alone and the Bandit Lord wished to test the vaunted prowess of the renowned ronin general in action, and if he ever would succeed, Wu should leave these lands never to return. Sun Tao had to take one hundred of his concubines and teach them to march in good order. The tactician taught them, but they refused to obey. After Sun Tao beheaded Wu's two favorites, practicing military justice upon the field, the women marched in perfect unison. Wu immediately disbanded his army, released his geisha, scattered his soldiers, and joined Sun Tao's army. [6]

Phoenix Clan Edit

He next traveled to the Phoenix Clan Champion. While he was there the Phoenix knew no war or strife. He left and promised to return and tell him what he learned. He next traveled to the Dragon Clan Champion who he waited for for 5 years. After 5 years the Champion met with him and Sun Tao left and promised to return and tell him what he learned. [7]

Dragon Clan Edit

When he moved the Dragon mountains, where he spent five years waiting in the lands of the Dragonfly, the intermediaries with the Dragon, who did not admit Sun Tao to the high mountains. After this time the Dragon Clan Champion came down and briefly met the ronin. Sun Tao had learned much from the waiting, so he left and promised to return and tell him what he learned. [7]

Crab Clan Edit

When Sun Tao reached the lands of the Crab Clan Champion and he knew nothing but battle and war. He lost three quarters of his followers in the five years he spent in the Kaiu Wall. The Champion told him to leave and offered him an armor as a token of respect. Sun Tao left and promised to return and tell him what he learned. The Crab told him not to bother. [7]

Scorpion Clan Edit

The Scorpion Clan Champion offered to be the next clan he visited. He did so and learned much. He left and promised to return and tell him what he learned, because he had still to visit one Great Clan. The Champion was baffled because he long planned to be the last Champion Sun Tao visited and the first to learn his secrets. Sun Tao left for the Burning Sands and never returned. [7]

Shogun's title theorized Edit

The Shogun was a title theorized by Sun Tao. Before he left the Empire, Sun Tao proposed to Hantei Genji the creation of the shogunate. The Shining Prince was initially reluctant to share command of the Imperial forces, but eventually he was convinced about the wisdom in the proposal. [8] Sun Tao left the Empire shortly after presenting his treatises to the Emperor, and the Emperor died before coming to a decision. [9]

Legacy Edit

Sun Tao's Journal Edit

Sun Tao left his most loyal follower Terumuto with his armor and writings. He crafted 7 copies of Sun Tao's journal intending to deliever one to each great clan and one to the Emperor. Terumuto was slain before the delivery was complete. Only the Dragon, Scorpion and Hantei have copies. [7]

Yodotai Edit

While away from the Empire Sun Tao may have had dealings with, or even founded, the Yodotai Empire. Sometime after the Awakening, the Yodotai soldier, Adrianna heard Duqaq say "A competent general attacks an enemy's army. A superior general attacks an enemy's alliances.". Adrianna recognized those attributed the same words to the Yodotai historical figure Augustus the Uniter, while Bayushi Tomaru declared them to be from Sun Tao. Duqaq told them, "No, both.", and said no more on the subject. [10]

Other Relics Edit

In time, three relics of Sun Tao's were held in the Empire, not counting the copies of his journals. His tessen was most recently kept by the Scorpion Clan, and his armor was in the possession of the Sparrow Clan. [11] Also left behind was his katana, which was left in Nanashi Mura under the guardianship of the Eyes of Nanashi. [12]

Shogun Edit

In the 12th century the Shogun was the general of the Imperial Legions, the ruler of the people when the Emperor could not, or would not, lead. The Shogun could overthrow the ruling Emperor with military force if he saw that the Emperor was not fulfilling his duties to the Empire. [13]

Descendants Edit

One of Sun Tao's descendants, Sun Doru returned to the Empire to learn from the Clans and shared his knowledge. His journey had begun first with the Scorpion Clan. [14]

Tomb Edit

In 1198 the Rokugani found his Tomb in the lands one known as the Ivory Kingdoms. [15]


  1. Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying Game; Third Edition, p. 10
  2. Emerald Empire; Fourth Edition, p. 230
  3. The Yodotai
  4. Way of the Wolf, p. 29
  5. Way of the Wolf, pp. 29-30
  6. Sword and Fan, p. 10
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Way of the Wolf, p. 30
  8. Emerald Empire: Third Edition, p. 114
  9. Imperial Archives, p. 13
  10. Re-Awakening, Part I
  11. Sun Tao's Tessen (An Oni's Fury flavor)
  12. Art of the Duel, p. 180
  13. Right of Honor, Strength of Steel, by Rich Wulf
  14. Sun Doru (Honor's veil flavor)
  15. Age of Exploration, Part 1, by Shawn Carman

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