Alright everyone, this isn't exactly fluff per-se. Not yet at least. Rather, it's a question about what kind of fluff I should use for the armybook I've been working on for Nippon.
Obviously, Nippon is WHFB's equivalent to Japan. The name is the same, the location is the same, and they pretty much leave it at that. The last mention of the army was in 2nd edition as a mercenaries list, and included all sorts of goofy (and frankly, offensive) stuff like 'Kamikaze Suicide Bombers', which is probably part of why the army was dropped, along with armies like the Norscans and Zoats.
Bits and bobs of fluff have appeared here and there, things about monkey-faced warriors, the Skaven assassins training in temples in Nippon, and some kind of Dark Elf involvement, but aside from that I've been left with a blank slate. To this end, I've come to you guys to ask what kind of fluff you would expect for a Nippon army - namely, should it be based heavily on feudal Japan, or should it be almost entirely fictional?
Currently, the units in the army are:
Shogun - combat lord
Daimyo - combat hero
Onmyoji - caster lord
Onmyoji-han - caster hero
Ashigaru - basically, Empire state troops
Samurai - think Warriors of Chaos on 20mm bases, less armor, less S/T
Naginata Riders - mounted Samurai fast cavalry
Ronin - scouting Samurai with no armor and rules for honorless fighting
Legendary Warriors - Rare choice single models representing peerless warriors like Miyamoto Musashi and Hatori Hanzo
Onii - Ogre "demons"
Tengu - flying, great eagle type "demons"
Jishi - lion monsters, temple guardian "demons"
Siege Cannons - basic cannon
Trebuchet - enough said
The rules are centered around an honor system where the army improves or falters based on it's performance, and an Order system similar to the 40k Imperial Guard, representing their well drilled armies and use of signal flags.
So when it comes to fluff for all of this, here's where I'm at:
As the Old Ones are being defeated after the world has been bathed in mutating Chaos, one of the Old Ones decides to give the world a final chance to be "pure" and creates the island realm of Nippon. Knowing he would be hunted and killed by Chaos, he decides to preserve his knowledge by dividing his essence and knowledge into the Yokai- the spiritual 'demons' of Nippon. Eventually, Cathayans fleeing the onslaught of Chaos stumble upon the island and it's inhabitants, and create an early tribal culture.
This culture is discovered by Malekith on his world-spanning journey while still loyal to the High Elves. High Elven outposts are built, and the land is colonized, with the High Elves serving as benevolent rulers over the human tribes through a puppet "Emperor".
When the Sundering comes about, Malekith sends Dark Elves to defeat the High Elves and take Nippon for his own. From amongst the slaves of the tribal wars, he takes the best warriors and creates the first Samurai (samurai meaning "One who serves"), warrior-slaves to use in the battle against the High Elves. Once the High Elves are driven out, one of the Samurai leaders turns on his Dark Elf masters, becoming the first Shogun and establishing a Nippon for the people of Nippon alone.
From here, they begin their isolationism, trading primarily with the realms of Cathay and Choson (China and Korea). During the first Great War against Chaos, the island is discovered by chance, by the forces of Chaos, who now seek to corrupt it. Many of the Yokai - who are universally opposed to chaos but singularly naive of it's existence - are turned to the forces of evil. The war is equivalent to the Mongol invasions of Japan, and ends when the sorcerers of Nippon conjure a great wave (the Kamikaze story) to drive off the invading fleet.
Lastly, traders from the Empire arrive, bringing with them gunpowder and knowledge of the outside world. Nippon returns to feuding internally (Sengoku period) while also sending representatives to all of the various courts of the known races, attempting to determine alliances and trade treaties.
Totally Fantasy Based
I haven't figured this one out yet, although I'm sure that I could. I'd likely keep the creation story, about how Nippon was formed by a fleeing Old One, but that's about it. I think I would make some kind of story focusing mainly on the ancestor worship and bushido, making Nippon either a land of ghosts, or a culture of humans who have learned to "spirit-walk" outside of their bodies.
In this version, I think that a lot of the 'demon' type units would probably become stone constructs powered by particularly powerful spirit-walkers or ghosts, and Samurai become "Faceless Ones" - armor animated by the spirit, which would probably also make them tougher and stronger than a normal human.
The trouble is where do the traditional mortal units come into play, Ashigaru footmen and the crews of the warmachines? Are they just the standing army of Nippon? If they are, why are there so many ghosts or spirit-walkers, a cataclysm would have left very few mortals alive to serve as soldiers. Should I change the names of the units, so that they are no longer using their historic titles?