The Hattori are the leading family in Iga, a mountainous province, and the home of the independent Iga Sokoku Ikki, a kind of proto-republic which denied the power of the Kamakura shogunate’s feudal lords. The people of Iga developed a school of martial arts, the Iga-ryu ninjutsu, which combined martial arts, assassination techniques and unconventional warfare tactics. They used their ninjutsu to keep their independence, and then to make themselves wealthy as swords-for-hire. The tradition of independence, however, has remained strong in Iga and among the Hattori. Ninjutsu remains a dark art, passed down through families and jealously guarded from outsiders’ eyes. It is not surprising, then, that the Hattori can recruit ninja warriors more cheaply than any other clan, and their ninja also have more expertise, both on and off the battlefield. Under the leadership of Hattori Yasunaga, the clan remains dangerous. As he looks beyond the borders of Iga, who knows where ambition may take his clan: perhaps to the shogun’s palace? The Hattori are largely at peace with their neighbours, although such arrangements have a tendency to fall apart. To the north, the Asai in Omi represent a tempting target, as there is a school of ninja there. To the south, the Kitabatake and Tsutsui defend holy sites that might be better under Hattori stewardship, while the Ashikaga of Yamato represent all that is wrong with the old tired system of government, as they control what passes for a shogunate at the moment.