6147 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies


Context

The Samurai City is one of the creations of Jack “the King” Kirby. It was seen in his 1977 run on Black Panther.

I don’t think this obscure, hidden bit of Marvel’s Earth was ever seen again.

This profile is meant to be read after our Mister Little character profile.


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Location

Type:

Sovereign country.

Situation:

An unspecified barren, wind-swept and cold land. My *arbitrary proposal* is that it’s on a lost plateau in the Kyzylkum desert , in Uzbekistan.

Area:

On the surface, negligible. It amounts to little more than a guard post. The City lies underground, within a mammoth cavern.

Land boundaries:

None as such, being deep underground. But one imagines that there are connections with Subterranea .

Climate:

Located under a cold desert.

Terrain:

The area features small, barren mountains as well as a lake.

Elevation extremes:

Some small mountains.

Natural resources:

There is something that makes underground agriculture feasible, on a scale sufficient to support the population.

The area is reputed for the fossilised skeletons of large creatures. Perhaps dinosaurs, dragons or somesuch. This has attracted expeditions in the past.

Natural hazard:

None is apparent beyond the cold and lack of vegetation. Unless you count the Guardian of the Gateway (below).


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Politics

Profile:

The Samurai City is well-hidden. Even most experts think it a myth. It avoids all contact with the outside world. Its section of the desert is one where travellers are known to disappear.

Experience has shown that all visitors, no matter what they profess, are out to steal immortality from the Samurai at any cost. Therefore, their policy is to kill anybody getting close to the entrance.

Current Ruler:

Shinzu.

Current government:

Dictatorial monarchy.

Capital:

Samurai City.

Administrative divisions:

None demonstrated, although the ruling class may have individual fiefs.

Legal system:

Presumably a variation of a Shogunal Japanese one. The ruling class is solely governed by their version of the bushidō.

Other political characteristics:

Most of the population is descended from conquered and abducted locals. They seem to be slaves.


Economics

Overview:

Samurai City seems autarkic .

Tech level:

Samurai City has access to advanced tech, including heat beam rifles capable of downing an aircraft in one shot. How they procure or develop their tech is unrevealed.

Industries and agriculture:

Enough to be self-sufficient. Agriculture presumably is space-age hydroponics , but there likely was something that could be grown underground to sustain the population before that.

Imports & exports:

Samurai City has a small fleet of automated mini-submarines. These are programmed to navigate underwater caverns, which communicate with what I assume are the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean.

These do not seem to be used for trade per se.

Currency:

Undocumented.


History

Samurai City was founded by nine travelling ronin  (masterless samurai). These had to flee a war. One can *imagine* that as their lord fell in battle, he ordered them to carry out a mission until they were slain.

Samurai City (Marvel Comics) (Black Panther by Jack Kirby) attacking guardian sword strike

These men carried a great treasure. This sacred waterskin held endless magical water. Regularly drinking it provided endless youth and vitality, and thus immortality.

One can *imagine* that the now-masterless samurai were tasked with hiding this from their enemies.

(Apparently, the water also endows with the gift of languages. Since all immortals were fluent in modern American English.)

The ronin reached a distant desert. They conquered the locals, and used these labourers to build a great, hidden underground city.

They retained customs, aesthetics and values from their ancient era. Though of course there was cultural drift.

A question of time (part 1)

All the characters act as if the samurai were an ancient institution, gone for centuries. Like the European chivalry. But historically, samurai still were doing samurai things by the mid-to-late 1800s.

Our No-Prize Hypothesis  is that the characters were actually referring to a form of proto-samurai. Which would have been clear to them in context. So, perhaps cavaliers from the middle Heian period, circa the year 950.

This would also explain why their culture doesn’t really resemble that of, say, Sengoku era samurai.

A question of time (part 2)

In this hypothesis, these warriors would have retroactively considered themselves as samurai then ronin. They would have learned of this by continuing to receive news from Japan.

Samurai City (Marvel Comics) (Black Panther by Jack Kirby) elevator and general view

Likewise, they would have adopted their notion of Bushidō centuries after their exile, when it emerged in Japan.

One can *imagine* that the legend of the nine surviving knights with the secret of immortality was part of what historically inspired the invention of Bushidō.

Perhaps the Marvel Universe Japanese folks of the Sengoku era thought this was an inspiring tale to guide warriors.

Your existence is but a collectible

In 1977, the Collectors located Samurai City. In particular, the mercenaries of Princess Zanda captured one of the immortal ronin. Presumably while he was on guard duty on the surface.

Cut off from the water of immortality, the captive flash-aged into a mummy. Which further proved that the Samurai City has been found.

Given the prize at stake, the Collectors formed an unlikely alliance. Princess Zanda even forced the Black Panther (T’Challa) to work with them, by threatening Wakanda with a nuke.

Codes of conduct

T’Challa was of course instrumental in breaching Samurai City. He defeated the ronin guarding the entrance.

Samurai City (Marvel Comics) (Black Panther by Jack Kirby) yeti guardian roar charge

But he forbade the man from taking his own life in shame. His code of honour as King of Wakanda was not to let a worthy enemy die.

The Panther would only accept the counsel of another king to solve this clash between codes of honour. This forced an audience with the ruler, Shinzu.

Lust for (eternal) life

A solution satisfying everyone’s sense of honour was reached. It involved a bare-knuckles duel between T’Challa and the one ronin trained in unarmed combat.

Howbeit, the Collector accompanying the Panther — Abner Little — snuck off. He stole some of the water of immortality, but was spotted.

Incensed, T’Challa forced Little to return the water.

Though the situation was tense, Shinzu appreciated the Panther’s rectitude and charisma. He reluctantly let the two outsiders leave.

But Little had of course cheated…


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The immortal ronin were extraordinary fighters. They could credibly engage the Black Panther himself.

And of course, their katana were sharp enough to cleave steel like margarine.

One of them was also a trained unarmed fighter. He looked like Sonny Sumo.

And we can *imagine* that they were all fine archers.

Migou !

The security on the surface was the Guardian of the Gateway. This yeti-like creature could be summoned by the watchman blowing a special horn. It would then try to kill any intruder.

This creature may have been part of a race of yetis. It was roughly similar to other specimens observed in the Himalayas. Perhaps the ronin captured it during their travels, and gave it immortality water.

The Guardian was seemingly killed by the Panther. But it could have survived.


Generic ronin

Dex: 06 Str: 04 Bod: 05 Motivation: Bushidō
Int: 04 Wil: 04 Min: 04 Occupation: Samurai
Inf: 04 Aur: 03 Spi: 05 Wealth: 008
Init: 016 HP: 010

Powers:
Comprehend languages: 12

Skills:
Animal handling (Horses): 04, Evasion: 08, Martial artist: 06, Military science: 05, Weaponry: 08

Bonuses & Limitations:
Evasion and Martial Artist only whilst wielding a katana.

Advantages:
Immortal, Language (Samurai City Japanese).

Connections:
Each other (Low).

Drawbacks:
CIA toward their version of the Bushidō.

Equipment:

  • Badass katana [BODY 09, Enhance (EV): 02 (cap is 10), Sharpness (EV): 01, Descriptor: Slashing, Piercing].
  • LAMELLAR ARMOUR w/KABUTO [BODY 06, Blunting: 02, Damage capacity: 05, Enhance (Bludgeoning, Piercing, Slashing RV): 01 (cap is 08), Enhance (Slashing, Piercing, Ballistic RV): 01 (cap is 09), Enhance (Laser, heat/flame, Acid RV): 01 (cap is 07), Enhance (RV against Critical, Devastation and doubles): 04 (cap is 11), Enhance (Unarmed RV): 03 (cap is 11), Shade (Audial): 01, Stealth penalty 3/3, Limitations & Drawbacks:
    • Damage Capacity only vs. Piercing and Slashing RAPs.
    • Damage Capacity has the Full Recovery with Infrastructure Bonus.
    • Audial Perception rolls have +2CS to their OV/RV.
    • Visual Perception rolls have a +1CS to their OV/RV when the face protector is on.].
  • Heat rifle [BODY 02, Flame project: 10, Ammo: 08, R#2]. This was issued to the watchman on the surface.

Design notes

A *lot* is speculative there. But we do have a good sense of their combat prowess, which is amazingly high for essentially faceless characters.


Unarmed combat dude

Dex: 08 Str: 04 Bod: 06 Motivation: Bushidō
Int: 04 Wil: 04 Min: 04 Occupation: Samurai
Inf: 04 Aur: 03 Spi: 05 Wealth: 008
Init: 018 HP: 010

Powers:
Comprehend languages: 12

Skills:
Animal handling (Horses): 04, Martial artist*: 08, Military science: 05, Weaponry: 06

Advantages:
Immortal, Language (Samurai City Japanese).

Connections:
Other samurai dudes (Low).

Drawbacks:
CIA toward their version of the Bushidō.

Samurai City (Marvel Comics) (Black Panther by Jack Kirby) hand to hand fight


Guardian of the Gateway

Dex: 06 Str: 08 Bod: 07 Motivation: Animal ?
Int: 02 Wil: 01 Min: 02 Occupation: Predator
Inf: 02 Aur: 01 Spi: 02 Wealth: N.A.
Init: 010 HP: 010

Powers:
Analytical smell/tracking scent: 02, Cold immunity: 01, Density Increase: 01, Growth: 02, Skin armour: 02

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • All Powers are Form Function and Already Factored In.
  • Analytical Smell has no Tracking component.
  • Skin armour only vs. Unarmed.

Design Notes:
The Guardian might be immortal thanks to the water. And/or it might hibernate most of the time, only waking when the horn is sounded to eat.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Black Panther vol.1.

Writeup completed on the 14th of December, 2019.

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