The word “Shogun” comes from the Japanese word “Seii Taishogun”, which roughly translates to “barbarian-quelling general”. These military dictators reigned over Japan from 1192 to 1868.
Historically, the Shogun was legally under the control of the Emperor and had limited authority over the military forces in Japan. However, due to the increasingly feudal development of Japanese society that developed over time, military control became equivalent to having authority over the entire country. The emperor mostly remained in Kyōto as a symbolic figurehead while the shogun held the true power.
The shogunate government as we know it was established in 1192 when Minamoto no Yoritomo was appointed as the first Shogun by Emperor Go-Toba. Yoritomo was able to consolidate his power by creating a feudal system. He granted land to his vassals in exchange for their loyalty and military service. This system allowed Yoritomo to create a powerful army and establish himself as the dominant force in Japan.
After Yoritomo’s death, his descendants were unable to maintain control over the shogunate. The country was plunged into a period of civil war known as the Warring States period. During this time, various warlords vied for power, and the country was divided into numerous small fiefdoms. In the late 16th century, Oda Nobunaga, one of the most powerful lords, began a campaign to unify Japan under his rule. However, Nobunaga was assassinated before he could achieve his goal. His successor, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, completed the unification.
Hideyoshi was able to bring most of Japan under his control and established a centralized government. However, Hideyoshi’s reign was short-lived, and after his death, a power struggle ensued between his young heir, Toyotomi Hideyori, and Tokugawa Ieyasu. In 1603, Tokugawa Ieyasu was appointed shogun. He established the Tokugawa Shogunate which would rule Japan for the next 250 years.
Tale of Ronin takes place during the year of 1637. Tokugawa Iemitsu is the Shogun and he holds immense influence over the country’s political and social development. However, rumors abound that Hideyori, the alleged surviving heir of Toyotomi, may be the true Shogun… and could rise to power once more.
Ronin, desperate to find their place in a chaotic world, must make choices that could have dire consequences. In Tale of Ronin, the player may seek to rejoin the Shogunate and gain favor with local officials. Alternatively, they may choose to survive at any cost. Or they may even join rebels in open rebellion against the Tokugawa Iemitsu’s rule so that Hideyori may lead once more.