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Miyamoto Musashi

Miyamoto Musashi is a famous Japanese samurai, legendary through his outstanding swordsmanship in numerous duels, even from a very young age. He is the founder of his style of swordsmanship and the author of The Book of Five Rings,  a book on strategy, tactics, and philosophy.

Birth

Born in Miyamoto village, in the Yoshino district of Mimasaka Province. His father, Shinmen Munisai, was an accomplished martial artist and master swordsman.

Upbringing

When Musashi was seven years old, he was raised by his uncle, Dorinbo, in Shoreian temple where he was trained in the sword.

He never took a bath because he did not want to be surprised unarmed.

First duel

“I have trained in the way of strategy since my youth, and at the age of thirteen I fought a duel for the first time. My opponent was called Arima Kihei, a sword adept of the Shinto ryu, and I defeated him. At the age of sixteen I defeated a powerful adept by the name of Akiyama, who came from the province of Tajima. At the age of twenty-one I went up to Kyoto and fought duels with several adepts of the sword from famous schools, but I never lost.” – Miyamoto Musashi,

Musashi’s first successful duel was at the age of thirteen, against a samurai named Arima Kihei.

Arima Kihei, who was traveling to hone his art, posted a public challenge in Hirafuku-mura. Musashi wrote his name on the challenge. A messenger came to Dorin’s temple, where Musashi was staying, to inform Musashi that his duel had been accepted by Kihei. Musashi’s uncle, was shocked by this, and tried to beg off the duel in Musashi’s name, based on his nephew’s age. Kihei was adamant that the only way his honor could be cleared was if Musashi apologized to him when the duel was scheduled. So when the time set for the duel arrived, his uncle began apologizing for Musashi, who merely charged at Kihei with a six-foot quarterstaff, shouting a challenge to Kihei. Kihei attacked with a wakizashi, but Musashi threw Kihei on the floor, and while Kihei tried to get up, Musashi struck him between the eyes and then beat him
to death. Arima was said to have been arrogant, overly eager to fight, and not a terribly talented swordsman.

Travels and duels

Musashi Miyamoto with two Bokken (wooden Sticks)
Musashi Miyamoto with two Bokken (wooden Sticks)

Three years later, Musashi left his village leaving his possessions with his sister and her husband.

He spent his time traveling and engaging in duels, such as with an adept called Akiyama from the Tajima province.

In a war began between Toyotomi and Tokugawa. Musashi fought on the side of the Toyotomi’s “Army of the West”, as the Shinmen clan (to which his family owed allegiance) had allied with them. He participated in the attempt to take Fushimi castle by assault in the defense of the besieged Gifu Castle in  and finally in the famed Battle of Sekigahara.

Regardless, as Toyotomi’s side lost, and Shinmen Sokan fled to Kyu-shu- province, Musashi fled as well, and spent some time training on Mount Hiko.

After the Battle of Sekigahara, Musashi arrived in Kyoto at the age of 20, where he famously began a series of duels against the Yoshioka School.

Musashi’s father had fought against an adept of the Yoshioka School in his youth, . The Yoshioka School was the foremost of the eight major schools of martial arts in Kyoto. These eight schools were founded by eight monks taught by a legendary martial artist resident on the sacred mountain Kurama. 

Musashi challenged Yoshioka Seiju-ro-, master of the Yoshioka School, to a duel. Seiju-ro- accepted, and they agreed to a duel outside Rendaiji in Rakuhoku, in the northern part of Kyoto. Musashi arrived late, greatly irritating Seiju-ro-. They faced off, and Musashi struck a single blow. This blow struck Seiju-ro- on the left shoulder, knocking him out, and crippling his left arm. He apparently passed on the headship of the school to his equally accomplished brother, Yoshioka Denshichiro-, who promptly challenged Musashi for revenge. The duel took place in Kyoto outside a temple, Sanju-sangen-do-. Denshichiro- wielded a staff reinforced with steel rings with a ball-and-chain attached, while Musashi arrived late a second time. Musashi disarmed Denshichiro- and defeated him. This second victory outraged the Yoshioka clan, whose head was now the 12-year old Yoshioka Matashichiro. They assembled a force of archers, riflemen, swordsmen, and challenged Musashi to a duel outside Kyoto, near Ichijoji Temple. Musashi broke his previous habit of arriving late, and came to the temple hours early. Hidden, Musashi assaulted the force, killing Matashichiro, and escaping while being attacked by dozens of their supporters. With the death of Matashichiro, the branch of the Yoshioka School was destroyed.

After Musashi left Kyoto he travelled to Hozoin in Nara, to duel with and learn from the monks there, widely known as experts with lance weapons. There he settled down at Enkoji Temple in Banshu, where he taught the head monk’s brother.

He travelled extensively all over Japan honing his skills with duels. Most of the engagements from these times did not try to take the opponent’s life unless both agreed, but in most duels it is known that Musashi did not care which weapon the other was using – such was his mastery of the way of strategy.

Musashi departed Nara for Edo, during which he fought (and killed) a kusarigama practitioner named Shishido Baiken. In Edo, Musashi defeated Muso Gonnosuke, who would found an influential staff-wielding school known as Shinto Muso Ryu.

Musashi fought over 60 duels and was never defeated not accounting deaths by his hand in major battles.

Duel with Sasaki Kojiro

Aged 28, Musashi had his most famous duel with Sasaki Kojiro who wielded a nodachi. Musashi came late and unkempt to the appointed place the remote island of Funajima, north of Kokura. The duel was short and Musashi killed his opponent with a bokken that he had carved from an oar, while traveling to the island. Musashi designed it to be longer than the nodachi.

Musashi’s late arrival is controversial. Sasaki’s outraged supporters thought it was dishonorable and disrespectful while many others thought it was a fair way to unnerve his opponent. 

Service

Musashi participated in the war between the Toyotomi and the Tokugawa. The war had broken out because Tokugawa Ieyasu saw the Toyotomi family as a threat to his rule of Japan. Musashi fought on the Toyotomi side. Osaka Castle was the central place of battle. The first battle (the Winter Battle of Osaka; Musashi’s fourth battle) ended in a truce, and the second one (the Summer Battle of Osaka; Musashi’s fifth battle) resulted in the total defeat of Toyotomi Hideyori’s Army of the West by Ieyasu’s Army of the East. Musashi entered a duel with Ieyasu, but was recruited after Ieyasu sensed his defeat was at hand. 

He entered the service of Lord Ogasawara Tadanao of Harima Province, at Ogasawara’s invitation, as a foreman or “Construction Supervisor,” after previously gaining skills in craft. He helped construct Akashi Castle and to lay out the organization of the town of Himeji. He also taught martial arts during his stay, specializing in instruction in the art of shuriken-throwing.

During this period of service, he adopted a son.

Musashi defeated Miyake Gunbei and three other adepts of the Togun ryu in front of the lord of Himeji.

Musashi’s adoptive son, named Miyamoto Mikinosuke became a vassal to the fief of Himeji. Possibly this prompted Musashi to leave, embarking on a new series of travels, winding up in Edo in 1623, where he became friends with the scholar Hayashi Razan, who was one of the shogun’s advisors. Musashi applied to become a swordmaster to the Shogun, but as he already had two swordmasters (Ono Jiroemon Tadaaki and Yagyu Munenori – the latter also a political advisor to the Shogun, in addition to his position as the head of the Shogunate’s secret police), his application was denied. Musashi left Edo in the direction of O-shu-, ending up in Yamagata, where he adopted a second son, Miyamoto Iori. The two then travelled, eventually stopping in Osaka.

Five years later Miyamoto Mikinosuke, following the custom of junshi, committed seppuku because of the death of his lord. In this year, Miyamoto Iori entered Lord Ogasawara’s service. Musashi’s attempt to become a vassal to the Lord of Owari, like other such attempts, failed.

Musashi began to travel again. Settling in Kokura with Iori, and later entered the service of daimyo Ogasawara Tadazane, taking a major role in the Shimabara Rebellion. Iori served with excellence in putting down the rebellion and gradually rose to the rank of a minister. 

Musashi was a loner spending many years studying swordsmanship. He was an accomplished artist, sculptor, and calligrapher and has architectural skills. Also, he had a rather straightforward approach to combat, with no additional frills or aesthetic considerations. This was probably due to his real-life combat experience.

AgeOccurrence
 Musashi’s brother, Shirota, is born.
0Miyamoto Musashi is born.
7Musashi is taken and raised by his uncle.
13Musashi duels with Arima Kihei in Hirafuku, Hyo-go Prefecture.
15Duels with a man named Akiyama in the northern part of Hyo-go Prefecture.
16/17Fought in the Battle of Sekigahara in Sekigahara, Gifu Prefecture on the losing side.
21Musashi has 3 matches with the Yoshioka clan in Kyoto.

 

{1} Match with Yoshioka Seijuro in Yamashiro Province, outside the city at Rendai Moor (west of Mt. Funaoka, Kita-ku, Kyoto).

{2} Match with Yoshioka Denshichiro outside the city.

{3} Match with Yoshioka Matashichiro outside the city at the pine of Ichijoji.

21Visits Ko-fuku-ji, Nara and ends up dueling with the priest trained in the style of Hozoin-ryu.
22- 29Begins to travel again.
24Munisai (Musashi’s father) passes his teachings onto Musashi.
24Duels with the kusarigama expert Shishido Baiken in the western part of Mie Prefecture.
25Duels Muso Gonnosuke, master of the five-foot staff in Edo, modern-day Tokyo.
27Fights Hayashi Osedo and Tsujikaze Tenma in Edo.
28Begins practicing zazen meditation.
28Musashi’s most famous match with Sasaki Kojiro takes place on Ganryujima (Ganryu or Funa Island) off the coast of present-day Shimonoseki. Opens a fencing school for a brief time.
31 – 32Joins the troops of Tokugawa Ieyasu in the Winter and Summer campaigns at Osaka Castle.
31- 37Musashi comes into the service of Ogasawara Tadanao.
38Duels Miyake Gunbei in Tatsuno, Hyo-go Prefecture.
38Sets up temporary residence at the castle town of Himeji in Hyo-go Prefecture.
39Travels to Edo. Adopts a second son named Iori.
42Adopted son Mikinosuke commits seppuku following in the tradition of Junshi.
43Travels again.
45Meets with Yagyu- Hyo-gonosuke in Nagoya, Owari Province
46Enters the service of Lord Hosokawa Tadatoshi.
49Begins to extensively practice the arts.
50Settles in Kokura, Fukuoka Prefecture for a short time with son Iori as a guest of Ogasawara Tadazane.
53Serves a major role in the Shimabara Rebellion.
57Writes Hyoho Sanju.
58Suffers severe attacks from neuralgia.
59Migrates into Reigando where he lives as a hermit.
61Finishes Go Rin No Sho / The Book of Five Rings.

Role-playing Notes

Used with permissiom from Paolo

As seen in Paolo’s thread at Dicefreaks

Musashi
Samurai 16, Iaijutsu master 15, monk 2
Medium humanoid
Hit Dice31 d10 + 2d8 + 132 (316 hp)
Initiative+14 (+5 Dexterity, +4 imprinit, +5 Charisma)
Speed30ft
AC23 (+5 Dexterity, +5 Wisdom bonus, +3 canny defense), touch 23, flat-footed 15
Base Attack/Grapple+26/33
Attack+39 main katana (1d10 + 14 + 2d6 to non-honourable creatures, 17-20 x2) melee, or + 33 bow (1d8 x3) or + 37 wakizashi (1d6 + 9, 19-20 x2) (10 ft range increment) ranged
Full Attack+35/30/25/20 main katana (1d10 + 14 + 2d6 to non-honourable creatures, 17-20 x2) and +35/30/25 secondary katana (1d10 + 13, 17-20 x2), or +37/32/27/22 katana (1d10 + 14 + 2d6 to non-honourable creatures, 17-20 x2) and +37/32/27 wakizashi (1d6 + 9, 19-20×2) melee, or +33/28/23/18 bow (1d8, x3) or + 37 wakizashi (1d6 + 9, 19-20 x2) (10 ft range increment) ranged
Space/Reach5 ft. x 5 ft./5 ft.
Special AttacksAncestral daisho, Echoes of the edge, Flurry of blows, Lightning blade, One strike two cuts, Spirit strike, Strike from the void, Strike with no thought, Weapon Finesse (spec)
Special QualitiesAc bonus, Canny defence, Evasion
SavesFort +23, Ref +25, Will +24.
AbilitiesStrength 20, Dexterity 20, Constitution 19, Intelligence 16, Wisdom 20, Charisma 21
SkillsBalance +15, Climb +20, Diplomacy +15, Escape Artist +20, Hide +15, Iaijutsu focus +55, Intimidate +15, Jump +25, Knowledge (religion)+8, Listen +20, Move Silently +15, Perform (dance) +15, Profession (sculptor) + 15, Profession (calligrapher) + 15, Profession (architect) + 10, Ride (Dexterity)+10, Sense Motive +20, Spot + 15, Swim +10, Tumble +15
FeatsCombat Expertise, Deflect Arrows, Exotic Weapon Proficiency (katana), Greater Two-Weapon Fighting, Greater Weapon Specialisation (katana), Improved Critical (katana), Improved DisarmImproved Initiative, Improved Trip, Improved Two-Weapon Fighting, Improved unharmed strike, Power Attack, Quick Draw, Stunning Fist, Throw AnythingTwo-Weapon Fighting, Weapon Focus (katana), Weapon Specialisation (katana)
Epic FeatsBlinding Speed, Epic Will, Epic Prowess x2, Epic Skill Focus (Iaijutsu focus), Superior Initiative, Two-Weapon Rend
Climate/TerrainJapan
OrganizationSolitary, or with 1d4 students
Challenge Rating32
Treasuresee below
Alignmentlawful neutral

Notes: Musashi can use a katana one-handed thanks to his Exotic Weapon Proficiency.

He usually fights with a katana in each hand, or a katana on his right hand and a Wakizashi on his left, which he can throw if necessary thanks to Throw Anything feat. In the later part of his life, Musashi discarded the use of steel katana, using Bokken swords (practice wood swords) instead. Those swords inflicts subdual damage. Thanks to his incredible insight and knowledge of the sword essence, he’s able to confer the enchantment bonus from ancestral Daisho even to those weapons. Musashi can deal normal damage with his bokken swords, as per general rule (taking a -4 on his attack rolls).

Musashi usually fights without armor, as he doesn’t have any magical armor and he would not benefit from his high Wisdom AC bonus coming from his monk ability class, as well as from his canny defense ability. He’s proficient with light and medium armor, but not with any shield.

Ac bonus: when unarmored and unencumbered, Musashi adds his Wisdom bonus to AC

Ancestral daisho: Musashi may enchant his katana or wakizashi with a maximum +8 enchantment bonus. See ‘possessions’ for further details on the powers conferred.

Canny defence: when not wearing armor and wielding a katana, Musashi adds his Intelligence bonus to AC.

Echoes of the edge: twice per day, Musashi may strike a creature an additional time as a free action as long as he successfully damage the target on the initial strike. Resolve the attack at the highest base attack bonus (+26): if he hits, he deals an amount of damage equal to the previous strike. If the previous strike was a critical hit, this free strike in a critical hit as well and inflicts the same damage as the prior strike.

Evasion: if Musashi makes a successful reflex saving throw against an attack that normally deals half damage on a successful save, he instead takes no damage. Evasion can be used only if a he’s wearing light armor or no armor.

Flurry of blows: 32/32, only if unarmored, unharmed damage 1d6 + 5,

Lightning blade: Musuahi adds his Charisma modifier as well as Dexterity modifier to initiative checks

One strike two cuts: Musashi can make two attacks with the katana as standard action, so he can strike twice and move in he same round, or attack twice in the strike phase of a jaijutsu duel

Spirit strike: twice/day, Musuahi can draw his sword, strike and return it to its sheath so quickly that he doesn’t even seems to move: a successful Spot check (opposed by his Iaijutsu focus skill check) allows an observer to notice a faint blur around the target as the strike connects.

Strike from the void: Musashi adds his Charisma modifier to each extra damage die gained from using jaijitsu focus skill

Strike with no thought: if at melee distance of an opponent, Musuahi gains a free surprise round catching the opponent flat-footed, even though his opponent is aware of his presence; the only action he can take in the surprise round is an attack action using the katana.

Weapon Finesse (spec): Musuahi may use his Dexterity modifier instead of his Strength modifier on attack rolls with his katana. This work like the Weapon
Finesse
feat, but it applies to the katana, a weapon to which the feat would normally not apply.

Possession: Musashi thanks to his ‘ancestral daisho’ capability may enchant his signature weapons (two katana and a wakizashi) up to a +8 bonus. Consider his weapons to have the following enchantment:

-main katana (right-hand): +5 with focus (+4 on iaijutsu rolls, no enchbon), ghost touch (+1) and honourable (+2) proprieties

  • – secondary katana or wakizashi: +4, of agility (+4).
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