Captain of the First Troop of the Shinsengumi
Known by his nickname of Tenken no Soujiro, many hold the smiling, impeccably polite young killer to be the finest swordsman of the Shinsengumi. Almost impossible to read or predict, his blinding speed and formidable sword skill are a thing out of legend. He has no real special attacks, and has never been observed to use any other ability than his own combat skills.
Soujiro is very personable, and well-liked by his fellow Shinsengumi members. He and Saitoh are good friends. In his youth he suffered from an unknown illness, but seems to have been cured.
Captain of the Third Troop of the Shinsengumi
The wild wolf of Mibu, Saitoh is easily the most feared member of the Shinsengumi. He may be Soujiro's equal with a sword, and displays a far more ruthless and cunning personality. Skillful with a sword or bare hands, he's also proven to be a bane of Ishin sorcerors and psyche mongers. His Gatotsu attack has, thus far, proven unstoppable.
Saitoh lives to uphold Order and serve his code of Aku Soku Zan. He will use almost any means within this to accomplish his missions. He fought Kenshin to a draw long ago in a duel still spoken of, back when Kenshin was still the Ishin Hitokiri. While not a noted user of powers, he has proven adept at rendering powers useless or ineffective against him.
High Priest of the Kirin
A walking mountain of a man, Anji is an intimidating presence. He was a wrestler and brawler in his youth, one of the ne'er-do-wells of the imperial line. Several centuries ago, however, he came back from Shadow a changed man... brooding, solemn, and with a strong religious bent. He now administers the state religion of Nihon, tending the shrines.
Anji is a withdrawn, brooding man with few real friends. He gets along with Sanosuke, although the two violently disagree about politics and how one should conduct one's life. It is suspected that his office and dedication grant him all sorts of poorly-understood and far-fetched powers, like being able to fly around on a cloud to spy on people, make rocks explode by looking at them, or banish demons with a word.
Minister of the Arcane
A beautiful if somewhat sad-looking woman, Tomoe's full or true name is unknown - not an uncommon practice among magicians. Her job mostly consists of regulating the use of magic in Nihon and advising the Shogun on things supernatural.
There is a strong rumor that Tomoe is actually a ghost or a spirit. It is known that the Hitokiri Battousai was sent to kill her, and then abruptly vanished; many believe that she laid a powerful curse on him while dying, and then rose from the grave through sheer force of will. Certainly her appearance and demeanor are spectral enough. She is purpored to be a powerful sorceror, as befits her office.
Former Leader of the Oniwa Banshu
Once a charismatic and thoughtful leader of men, Aoshi and his personal squad ran afoul of the Hitokiri Battousai one night. Only Aoshi survived, largely because of the sacrifices of his men. Crushed by guilt, Aoshi resigned from his position and set out to wander Nihon and Shadow. Rumors and reports of his activities are not reassuring and tend to share a similar pattern -- Aoshi appears, kills people, announces a ridiculous goal that he claims "will prove that the Oniwa Banshu were the strongest warriors," pursues the goal with monomaniacal fervour, and then sullenly wanders off into Shadow.
Aoshi fights with twin kodachi. While a formidable warrior, it is worth noting that the Battousai was able to kick his ass soundly. Of course, that's praising with faint damn. He is rumored to be off it Shadow at current, building a 200-foot tall Chia Pet to prove the Oniwa Bashu were the strongest.
Former Ishin Hitokiri, Current Rurouni
Once the Hitokiri Battousai was the demonic assassin of the Ishin, the most feared swordsman of the rebel forces. Cold, merciless, perfect, and deadly, Kenshin cut a bloody swathe through the Shogunate ranks, defeating Aoshi and fighting Saitoh to a standstill. Then, one winter night, he was sent to kill Minister Tomoe.
He returned a month later, tendered his resignation, and set off to wander aimlessly. He rarely appears in Kyoto anymore, and carries a sakaba sword. Some say that Tomoe put some horrible curse on him, although those who meet him say that he seems more human than he used to, if also sadder and less alive.
Former Ishin Hitokiri, Current Superfreak
Kenshin's replacement was Shishio, an ambitious and almost feral man. If anything, he was even more deadly than his sempai. Shishio's reign of terror over the Kyoto streets was brief, but it was bloody. Then, one day, Shishio vanished. He reappeared a month later, horribly burned and seemingly unable to heal. He resigned his office and now lurks in and around Kyoto, recuperating, occasionally venturing forth to kill a Shogunate supporter.
Shishio is a swordsmaster on the level of Saitoh and Soujiro. In addition, he was also noted as an extremely powerful sorceror. Cruel and brutal before, it is doubtful that his injuries have done much to improve his sanity or mood.
Yumi's exact origins are unclear. Everyone generally agrees that she was being horribly exploited by a high-ranking member of the Bakufu until Shishio rescued her, and her bloodline is strong and clear. She now serves the Ishin as one of their top magical guns, and is reputed to be Shishio's lover.
Yumi is a cool but still friendly person, and is capable of radiating decadence and sexuality at will. She hates the Bakufu with a passion, and seems to be devoted to Shishio. She gets along well with the other figures in the Ishin movement, and has been seen speaking to Soujiro, of all people.
A brawler, a thug, and a ne'er-do-well, Sano is of a very, very distant imperial branch. He is rude and uncultured and arrogant, yet likable in spite of it, and has run up massive tabs in half the restaurants in Kyoto without incurring their wrath. While not known for his sword skill, he does carry a massive Zanbatou which he swings like a willow switch. Sano is Very Strong.
He is also very superstitous, and has laid in a large stock of protective charms.
While Sano is an easygoing fellow in general, he hates the Shogunate with a passion for reasons unknown. He gets along with Megumi and Kenshin, but has personality problems with Shishio and Yumi. He maintains lines of communication with Anji and, of all people, Saitoh.
Megumi was better known in peaceful times as a doctor and researcher into the herbs and lore of other lands. She joined the Ishin for unknown reasons, and has proved valuable as an organizer, advisor, and supplier.
Her powers are unknown and sketchy. She is the main source of trump for the Ishin, however, and has displayed magical ability in the past. She is also held to be skilled with a Tanto.
Senseis, gods, and other badasses
Master of Hiten-Mitsurugi-Ryuu and Second-Rate Potter
Whether or not Hiten-Mitsurugi-Ryuu is the most powerful school of swordfighting is open to question. Whether or not Hiko can kick your ass is not. Feared and revered by everyone who knows who he is, Hiko was born in some unimaginably distant time, and has devoted his life to perfecting himself and his art. He freely admits that he has a long way to go.
Hiko lives just outside of Kyoto in a small house, where he makes clay pots. They're not very good clay pots, but he makes them anyway. He also drinks sake. Now and then he will take in a baka-deshi (idiot pupil) and attempt to teach them his Hiten-Mitsurugi-Ryuu. Sadly, their tiny little minds can rarely handle his inspired teaching, and they run off to be black ships on the shore and get themselves killed. Baka-deshi. Hiko really doesn't know why he bothers.
If you ever have a problem, go to Hiko. He will listen gravely to your tale, nod, grunt solemnly, and then tell you to go away and leave him alone. But first he'll give you sake, and things always look better after sake.
Master of Kyokushin-Ryuu and Stronger Than You
The legendary master of unarmed combat, Oyama trained both Anji and Sanosuke. He also denied then the upper levels of the training, telling them they weren't yet strong or tough enough to survive it. Known as the Godhand, Oyama's philosophy of fighting is simple yet effective. If you don't block his blows, your bones will break. If you do block his blows, the limb you used to block with will break. Oyama routinely fights angry bulls as a warmup exercise, bathes under icy waterfalls, and other insanely masochistic exercises, and insists that his students do to. Training with him is definitely a case of what doesn't kill you making you stronger.
Oyama can usually be found in his hermitage on Mount Kiyozumi, either training his latest pupil or himself. He has no interest in politics or who runs the country, and is highly unlikely to back anyone.
(Note: Yes, he was real. Yes, he fought angry bulls with his bare hands for jollies, breaking off their horns and then shattering their skulls with a punch. One of the few examples existant of a RL person with Amber in a stat.)
Master of Inzen Ryuu and Vaguely Disturbing
The Secret Power School lives up to its name. Sensei Tadami is seldom seen, and seldom appears exactly the same when she does, varying in age and size. She usually has long black hair and garb of the sort favored by shinobi, and is noted both for psychic prowess and shadow combat. She trained Tomoe (who may be a ghost) and Megumi (who may be a Kitsune), and if anything the master is far more unnatural than the pupil.
Tadami dwells in a ruined temple in the heart of a flooded forest on a haunted mountain. Did you expect anything less?
Kami of the Sun, Drawer of Pattern
Long, long ago, before Nihon or the universe itself, there was Amaterasu. Along with her brother, Susanowo, she drew the Pattern that gives form to the universe, and set her decendant Jinnu up to rule it. Then she went off to sulk in a cave, and hasn't been seen since.
Amaterasu is remembered as a wise, kindly, sage woman. She's also remembered as a psychopathic bitch. Incompatible myths can really suck sometimes. Occasionally you hear stories of her aiding or undoing great heroes, but she hasn't been sighted in centuries, and may well be dead or fictional.
Kami of Storms and the Sea, Drawer of Pattern
All the legends agree on Susanowo's nature - a big jerk. Loud, brawling, crude, and prone to rashness, Susanowo would have died long ago if he weren't a kami. He supposedly helped Ameterasu draw the Pattern, although it's hard to imagine him creating anything of that complexity. He was supposedly banished from the realm by his son, Jinnu, for being a public nuisance.
Susanowo was a masterful fighter and sailor, and could control the weather. He was a rather simple and basic sort of kami, but could still be demonically cunning when needed. The only time the myths had anything good to say about him was when evil needed to be destroyed; then, his skill in battle and dedication were often remarked upon.