From the author's description:
The year is 1859 and Japan is on the verge of total global domination. Commodore Matthew Perry's corpse is still preserved on the great lawn outside the Imperial Palace in Kyoto, where children toss rocks and mud at the bronzed remains of his petrified tortured form. The Meiji restoration will never take place. Japan has never been forced to open its doors to the West. The world is on the edge of a blade, and Japan is wielding that sword.
It is the Grand Device that has given Japan such a powerful edge over its enemies, the strange and powerful technology that can subjugate the will of any and all listeners to a special broadcast... so long as the listener can understand the message.
Japan's control over the world can only be resisted by those who speak ancient languages. In order to bring its plans to fruition, Japan sends out ninja (the players) to gather information about these languages and, if possible, find those who can speak them.
With but a few languages remaining before the conquest is total, the ninja clans must fight each other for their linguistic prizes - the most valuable of which is knowledge of one of the Aeolic dialects of Ancient Greek: Lesbian.