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- For the book, see Shadow War (book).
The feuds among various Japanese uji date back centuries, while the Blood Court and Golden Courts have despised each other since the nights of their founding. When tensions between individual Kuei-jin or Kuei-jin groups become intolerable, and mandarins and ancestors are unable to resolve the dispute, shadow war occurs. This form of ritualized combat pits rival factions against each other in a contest of might, subterfuge and treachery. Shadow war is always declared formally and is generally preceded by elaborate ceremony, blade dances, ritual bloodshed and the composition of martial poetry. In the greatest of shadow wars, spirits, hengeyokai, mortals and even Kindred can be drawn into the fray, as paid mercenaries or unwitting pawns.
Twilight war is the more genteel method of waging shadow war, and perhaps the more interesting. In many ways, it resembles a duel more than a war. The combatants fight according to prescribed rules of conduct, and a neutral party is brought in to arbitrate the dispute. The objective is not to decimate the opponent's holdings, but to accomplish a designated objective— the takeover of a company, assassination of a valued warlord, or abdication of a popular political leader, for example — with as much strategy and finesse as possible. The objective for each side is typically chosen by the "referee." The winner in the dispute is whichever side first achieves its designated objective. Twilight war brings out the betting streak in nonparticipant Kuei-jin, who often wage princely sums on the outcome.
Midnight war is more brutal — a vendetta in which each side uses any and all tactics in order to eliminate the other, and no quarter is given. Midnight war must be declared openly, in front of a ranking ancestor; once it is declared, though, there is no honorable way to end it, save some rites.