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Everything posted by Idanthyrsus

  1. It's not primarily the founding of a new Clan that's at issue, here- it's the founding of a new Clan by an eta (who is also an Ainu, who have no equivalent in L5R... except maybe the Nezumi/Trolls/Ogres, inasmuch as they represent fallen members of a race shattered by the new arrivals? But that's clearly not what Whitehead is looking for). The other major difference between this situation and the Monkey is that Toku did his level best to hide the fact that he was not of the samurai caste, until he was well and truly established as a hero of the Empire and a personal friend of the Emperor; the White Tiger, in my reading of Whitehead's scenario, does nothing to conceal his caste and origins, and if anything revels in them. Finally, there seems to be an expectation that it could/will become canon... which is very, very, very, unlikely. Though L5R has traditionally had a player-driven story (and I hope it continues to do so, at least to some extent, under FFG), that is a categorically different thing from 'this one player's idea becomes canon'. Because I've said it enough times already, I might as well say it again- I have nothing at all against people making these kinds of changes, and playing these kinds of games, in their own group. The more people there are enjoying L5R, the better, and there's no reason their enjoyment should detract from mine or vice versa. That just shouldn't be interpreted as meaning that what one player or group does is appropriate for others, or the setting as a whole.
  2. The chances of this are approximately zero. You can do what you want with the setting in your own group, but you should be aware that this is about as likely to happen in the official setting as Achilles appearing and giving everyone laser guns and zeppelins.
  3. Well, this isn't true at all. While peaceful reintroduction would be difficult, the not!Europeans can pull a Commodore Perry vs Japan scenario just fine. ... Are you saying that Japanese society did not change dramatically as a result of Commodore Perry and the black ships? I certainly agree with you that it could be done, and it could potentially be quite interesting (it isn't my thing, but I can see the attraction), but it would still count as changing the setting quite radically, I think.
  4. You can do what you want in your own setting. Reintroducing quasi-Europeans into Rokugan proper would be difficult to impossible, though- Rokugani society in general is incredibly xenophobic, and that goes double for the people who introduced gunpowder and fought them at White Stag. Trade might be just about possible with the Mantis and/or Tortoise Clans, but it would have to be on a very small scale, and outside Rokugan proper. For quasi-Europeans to be an accepted part of the main setting, the society itself would have to change dramatically. At least, that's the case in the canon setting. Again, you can do what you want with it in your own games!
  5. There are quasi-Europeans in the L5R setting- Thrane and Merenae, somewhere across the sea, are rough parallels for C16-C17 Portuguese/Dutch adventurers. In the canon timeline, they showed up, caused significant damage (and prompted a social aversion to gunpowder), but were eventually driven off with heavy losses, then their homelands were hit by a devastating plague for no good reason other than to ensure they wouldn't interfere with the setting again. The vast majority of games of L5R will ignore them entirely, because they're a distraction from the main focus of the setting, but there are people who like that kind of thing. Either way, they do exist, though you should feel free to make up your own version if you want, as long as you can get your group to agree to it. I'm not entirely sure what you mean by asking about the timeline?
  6. As a person who doesn't play any game except L5R, I may not be the best person to explain this, but the very basic outline is as follows: You have two decks: Dynasty (mostly Holdings (which allow you to buy things, and sometimes have special abilities) and Personalities (which are necessary to do anything, though 'faceless' decks have on occasion been viable) and Fate (Attachments and action cards). Some personalities and attachments have abilities, some only contribute Force (and/or Chi- Chi doesn't do anything on its own, but several action types key off it). The Dynasty deck is cycled through four Provinces, from which Dynasty cards are bought with gold from Holdings (everyone starts with one Clan-specific special holding, called the Stronghold). There are four ways of winning: 1) Honour- reach 40 Honour before your opponent. This generally means playing as many uncontested honour-gaining actions as possible, though some Honour decks depend to greater or lesser extents on in-battle gains, and preventing the other player from reaching their victory condition first. Several Clans have had access to Honour decks of one kind or another throughout the game's history. 2) Dishonour- push your opponent to -20 Honour. These decks are generally slower (though there is usually some degree of choice to focus on explosive but combo-dependent honour-losses, or smaller but more reliable losses), and often play markedly differently depending on their opponent's deck or Clan of choice. Only a few Clans have access to dishonour deck-types at any one time- it used to be pretty much only the Scorpion, but AEG made efforts to allow other Clans to play with it towards the end of their tenure of the IP. 3) Enlightenment- put all five Rings into play. Rings are special action cards, which can be played and discarded like any other for a one-off effect, or put into play if certain conditions (which change from edition to edition) are met, allowing their effect to be repeated. Enlightenment decks rely extremely heavily on Fate deck manipulation and card draw, to the point of being more or less completely unworkable without it. Traditionally, Enlightenment has been the hardest, and least-played, deck-type- only the Dragon Clan have ever really specialised in it, though it has been more or less possible for other Clan and deck-types at various times. 4) Military- destroy all 4 of your opponent's Provinces. Every Clan has always had more or less viable military options, and it has always been the core of the game. The Battle phase is quite complicated - probably too much so for this kind of brief overview - but the idea is basically to have more Force left unbowed (untapped?) at the end of the battle than your opponent. Since destroying Provinces reduces the opponent's ability to cycle through their Dynasty deck, as well as getting the Military player closer to their victory condition, it has usually been the most effective, and by far the most played, of all deck types, though other victory conditions have always been viable in one form or another. I'm not sure exactly what you're looking for, and going into more detail risks getting quite complex quite quickly (it's not an excessively difficult game, just very difficult to explain without playing simultaneously), so I'll leave it there for now. Ask away if you have any other questions, and/or if I've completely missed the mark!
  7. Funnily enough, since the matter of Clan affiliation and views on the setting has come up - as I have said elsewhere, I was drawn to the Lion through the Tsuno (I loved the Tsuno, but then they got thrown under the bus with the rest of the Horde, and I had come to appreciate the Lion through their interactions with the Tsuno, so Lion it was). So, if the supernatural elements had not been present, I would quite possibly not be a Lion fan... In fact, as it was the Shadowlands that initially got me into the game when I was small, I would very probably not be an L5R fan at all if they had not been present. To that extent, it would be hypocritical of me to deny that the supernatural elements of the setting can be compelling, or to call for their complete disappearance. With that said, however- when I was first getting into the game, I barely knew anything about the setting, nor did I know anyone who really did (I had a couple of friends who were into it, but being children, we didn't really understand... our standard playstyle in the CCG was to run through our entire Dynasty decks until every single personality was bought, then throw them at each other). The primary motivation for my interest in the Shadowlands was pure aesthetic appreciation (Gold and Diamond Edition Oni were super-cool), rather than sensitivity to their importance for narrative coherency within the setting or anything like that. One of the reasons I gravitated towards the Tsuno as I got deeper into the setting was that they echoed (albeit in highly distorted forms) some of the core values of the Clans, and thus posed a philosophical as well as purely physically existential challenge; another was that, thanks to their Realm-hopping abilities, they could appear and disappear as necessary- unlike the Shadowlands writ large, the Tsuno don't have to be present if the narrative doesn't require them, but they can arbitrarily appear at any point if it's useful for the story, without breaking any aspect of the setting (another reason was, again, aesthetics). By the time the Tsuno and the Horde were actually done away with, I was deep enough into the setting that, most of the time, I would rather let the samurai do their thing without being constantly interrupted by external forces that forced them to put aside their (interesting) internal conflicts in favour of (boring) unification against a superior foe. From my own experience, then, I think that the Tsuno are a useful model for the supernatural in L5R: it is - or can be - immensely powerful, and can intrude into the lives of the samurai in dramatic and unforeseeable ways. It also provides a point of sharp aesthetic difference, which can, potentially, attract people to the setting. But it doesn't have to, it normally doesn't, and the vast majority of the time, samurai can live their lives and engage with each other without ever being forced to acknowledge its presence or even existence. To borrow the simile of quantum physics- yes, it's mind-breaking if you think about it, and yes, it defines material existence at fundamental levels. But on the level of human existence and interaction, classical physics prevails pretty much 100% of the time, so there's not really any reason to consider quantum mechanics unless you really want to. I could say more, but this post is already too long, and dangerously close to going too far off topic, so I will leave it there for now. To reiterate, once again- I have nothing against the supernatural elements of the setting. They brought me into the setting, and to the Clan that I now strongly identify with (well... I don't, because I like to think I'm not an insufferably arrogant psychopathic thin-skinned genocidal emotionally-amputated lunatic... but within the setting, I do). If people want to make them more prominent in their play, all power to them. Personally, I find interactions between samurai inhabitants of the setting more compelling, therefore I am not in favour of making it a canon fact that you can't go a day without running into a mujina or zokujin.
  8. Yes, the canon storylines are often deeply flawed, for a variety of reasons (influence of often-nonsensical tournament prizes, having multiple writers, changing writers before storylines are neatly closed off, lack of payment of said volunteer writers, etc. etc.). But that problem itself is not at all fixed by increasing the prevalence of the supernatural in the canon stories, whereas it is easily enough addressed in role-playing, just by doing a better job of telling those stories (whether with supernatural elements, or without). Ideally, what makes human interactions in L5R compelling is not their familiarity from everyday life (or cheap soap operas, if you prefer); what makes them compelling is that their culture, society, and entire worldview is utterly different from our own... and yet they are still human, and so have no choice but to respond to those circumstances as such. I'm not going to claim to unironically like the way the canon story of L5R has handled human-centred storytelling, but I will say that I absolutely love the potential that it has, and pretty much every memorable moment from my experience of the RPG has been about human interactions, not dealing with weirdo spirits and other supernatural creatures. I don't really want to argue this, because fundamentally it comes down to personal preference, and, as I said in the previous post, one of the beautiful things about the RPG is that everyone involved in this discussion can get what they want from it (as long as they have a similarly-inclined group). But there seemed to be some slight misunderstanding of my position, no doubt due to my own lack of clarity, so it seems worthwhile clearing that up.
  9. This is symptomatic of a wider discussion that comes up with regards to the setting from time to time. Some people like the supernatural elements of the setting, and place high priority on them; others prefer the setting to be primarily (nearly solely) about the people. I fall firmly in the latter camp. To be clear, I like that the various spirits and nonhuman creatures exist- they add richness to the world, make it more distinct from our own, and can provide handy plot devices if necessary. I am also a big fan of increasing the proportion of neutral spirits in the world, at the expense of the predominance of gribblies from Jigoku. But I also think that the more often they appear, the less importance is attached to them. Kenku (I don't care whether they're called kenku or tengu) should exist, certainly but it should also be a big deal when one of them appears, and that works much better when they're relatively rare. Likewise bakaneko, baku, and numerous others. In my view, Rokugan as a setting is compelling enough in its human interactions, and anything that distracts attention from those human interactions is to be downplayed. With that said, I don't claim to be the sole arbiter of how Rokugan should be or anything. If people like kappa and shiyokai and kuchisake-onna and so on, there are rules for many of them, and there's absolutely no reason they can't increase their prevalence in their own games. If you're not having fun with L5R, there's no point getting into it at all, so everyone can and should do what works for them in their own games. Sometimes, a fluidly-defined setting is a good thing.
  10. There have been a couple of threads of this kind, but they usually go off the rails fairly quickly, so I appreciate the intent of refreshing it from time to time. For me: 1) It has to be fun to play. 2) It has to feel like L5R (it doesn't have to have identical rules, nor does every faction has to be identical, but if it feels like a totally different game and/or different setting, I probably wouldn't play it, however good it is). 3) I have to feel some investment in it- story progression is the natural way of doing this, but if FFG has other ways of doing it, that's fine by me. Though other things are also important, of course, they are mostly negotiable.
  11. Re: the issue with Paths breaking up the Elemental progression of the Tamori school- surely the easiest way to get around that is to make sure each Path is itself associated with a given Element, and having it replace the appropriate Rank? eg, Hanabi are clearly associated with Fire, so make the Hanabi path replace the Fire rank (this may require reshuffling the Ranks of the School itself, since I doubt you'd want the Hanabi path at R4, but that seems a reasonably small price to pay); if Water Hammer smiths are a thing, have their Path replace the Water-related Rank. And so on and so forth. Otherwise, the techs seem good. I'm a little uneasy about the Agasha school being entirely internal - it seems much more appropriate for a monk school than a shugenja school - but since that seems to be what you were aiming for in the first place, I guess that's more a problem with conception than with implementation, and I don't know what exactly I'd do with them myself, so whatever. Going back a couple of steps, a part of me wants to see the Unicorn shugenja, or at least the Death Priests, be more like C. Asian shaman, in both flavour and role - in which case they would end up looking quite similar to the Kitsu, albeit from an entirely different angle - but that's mostly just my own personal field of interest speaking. All in all, great work!
  12. Re: Mappers of the Heart- I agree that mind-reading is a very un-Asahina thing to do. I think I would focus on this passage from their 4e write-up: At a minimum, Mappers of the Heart should get a bonus to contesting Deceit rolls, and they should have some capacity to gauge people's general inclinations towards a given person/faction (as with the RAW Kakita Artisan techs, that works better with NPCs than PCs, but it should still be possible to make something work). Tangentially, the Mappers write-up (pp. 85-87, Book of Air) is also one of the relatively few places that explicitly states that calling on the kami in court is seen as a breach of etiquette. You seem to have made the decision to ignore that, which is a perfectly defensible position, but it is a thing to consider at least. Re: Asahina pacifism- I think the current School Tech can be made a lot more flavourfully appropriate (not perfect, but better) if the damage reduction applies to all damage, regardless of source or target. It's still useful, especially for the shugenja themselves (and is, of course, abusable, as it can be circumvented by simply making more rolls than your opponent... which is one of the reasons it's still not ideal), but is no longer the single best combat-shugenja technique in the game. Perhaps something along those lines, which penalises friend as well as foe?
  13. Nice work, as always Not totally sure that I agree with everything, but you have at least put something on the table. For the Asahina paths, I think I'd like to see Tsangusuri represented, and possibly the Mappers of the Heart as well (as a slight variant of your husband's suggestion, possibly?). On the one hand, I like like that the Asahina are no longer the single most useful shugenja to have in a fight, as that always seemed more than a little perverse... on the other, there is a part of me that would like to see their commitment to pacifism reflected in some way before IR5. The Yogo, I neither know nor care about enough to have a sensible opinion on.
  14. Many thanks for your input, Karasu! I like the ideas a lot. Will have to consider them some more. I'm not sure how I feel about the fact that it allows people to focus on only a couple of the Tenets, while suffering no penalty for ignoring the others... but in principle, it has a lot of potential. Much appreciated!
  15. If I missed your point, I apologise sincerely- any misapprehension is the fault of incompetence, rather than malice, on my part. I do think I understand what you're saying more clearly now, but please correct me if I am still wrong. I agree, as I said in the previous post, that there are possibilities for honourable behaviour outside Bushido. I'm not convinced that Honour is, or should be, a matter of external perception, though. Perceived Honour is certainly a thing, but the starting point is still the internal measure- Perceived Honour means people think you're a better person than you are, but that doesn't affect the actual measure of your Honour. Likewise, if you ninja-poison your own daimyo, you obviously lose honour- even if nobody ever saw you do it, and so societal perceptions remain identical. Part of the problem here, as Kinzen pointed out in the Expanding the Honour Chart thread ( https://community.fantasyflightgames.com/topic/198070-expanding-the-honor-chart/), is that the term 'honour' is used to refer both to the specific virtue of Meyo, and to one's overall level of adherence to Bushido. I actually really like the idea of having a separate measure for how well you are seen to adhere to societal norms, distinct from how well you actually adhere to them (and distinct from Glory/Infamy as well), although implementation could get messy quickly. You're quite right about traditions being markedly different - for the Unicorn, eating red meat is tradition; for the Scorpion, assassinating enemy commanders is 'tradition' - but if the question is one of perceptions anyway, then that's relatively easily addressed by having how actions are seen depend on who is doing the seeing. At least, I think so, though more clarity certainly couldn't be a bad thing. Again, I apologise for missing the point earlier, and thank you for setting me right.
  16. I'll agree that there is room for - and there possibly should be - a separate code of honour for courtiers and priests. You are entirely correct that Bushido strictly refers to warriors, although it has been adopted more widely (and I don't see that as a problem, necessarily). Monks, however, already have the Tao, their vows to their Order, and their purity requirements - which I agree could be filled out more, but do at least exist - and stand apart from the samurai caste anyway. I also disagree that there should be a Way of the Merchant, or of the Peasant- their job is to follow orders, pay taxes, and break no laws. Not being samurai, they don't need, and shouldn't have, an honour code. If you were running a game that focused heavily on the lower castes, it might be worthwhile to lay out some of their expectations and standard practices in a more formal manner, but it still wouldn't be honour in the same sense. The idea of Gaijin being 'honourable' makes even less sense, as they're not merely non-people, they're not even part of the Celestial Order at all. Followers of Shourido who aren't yet Lost, maybe, but only inasmuch as they privilege proper samurai codes over their own perversion of it. The Kakita/Matsu blood feud is an interesting example. I have tended to see it as the opposite- ie, not that they had different versions of Bushido, but that they had virtually the same version of Bushido. Lady Matsu's problem with Lord Kakita was that he didn't show her respect; his reason for not bowing to her was that she hadn't shown anyone else respect. The Matsu Family persisted with the feud because they had a strong sense of obligation to their Ancestor, and their collective honour and reputation; so did the Kakita. The Matsu never claimed the Kakita were wrong to defend the actions of their Ancestor; nor did the Kakita ever claim the Matsu were wrong to fight for theirs. In an important sense - and this is one of the reasons why Honour is such an interesting part of the setting - both sides agreed that the other was doing the right thing, yet neither could honourably back down (until the Cleansing of Chukandomo, at least). Moving back into generality, though- I agree that it would be useful to have guides for courtly and priestly conduct (though I think the answer to your first question is mostly, "Is it in accordance with tradition?"). I absolutely agree, and have repeatedly stated throughout this thread, that in-setting opinions of Bushido and its obligations can and do differ. I also agree that we should think about the benefits honourable conduct should provide. I did give a stab at that in my initial post, but, again, I am not very good at mechanics, so I continue to welcome anyone else's ideas.
  17. To be fair, Agetoki had been forced into the Kolat at that point, had been forced to kill Kamoko by them, and felt terrible about it afterwards... but let's not pull this thread too far off-track, shall we?
  18. Given the philosophical basis of your redesign, I would give it to the Agasha. Under the current system, or with my interpretation of the cosmology, I would be inclined to give it to the Isawa, since they are the ones with the best understanding of the spirits- but since the kami are largely being treated as conduits for accessing greater powers, and the Isawa are all about Theology and so on, I would rather see the Isawa given a 'higher-level' (not power-wise, obviously, but cosmology-wise) focus. The Agasha, who are focused very heavily on the elemental kami themselves (and have a predilection for transferring effects from one Element to another, as well as using quasi-alchemy on them), would seem the best fit for raw elemental magic. The Tamori seem, fluff-wise, to be more about using the mountains than 'earth kami' per se, although they do also use alchemy of a kind. The Elemental Guard is also an obvious candidate, given their name, and I would certainly give them some similar mechanics, but I wouldn't be giving them a whole school, and it would seem to rather defeat the purpose of confining all the 'bender spells' to one place if they were all crammed into one Path/Advanced School. Just my opinion- probably better to let people with a special fondness for the Phoenix contribute, really
  19. A more than satisfactory response. With regards to Haunted, the intention wasn't for it to be a precise copy of the technique, more just something that could produce a roughly similar effect, both as part of the wider theme of having both benefits and penalties to bestow at every rank and to deal with people without Ancestors (though, as an aside, a game in which everyone was obliged to have an Ancestor would be fun, with or without Kitsu involved). But you are obviously right that it would make little sense if copied verbatim. Otherwise thank you as always for the response, and carry on the good work!
  20. Welcome back, Endwaar! Excessively long posts about why we love Rokugan are the best (and I mean that sincerely- for an outsider looking in, few things can provide more incentive to get involved in a setting or activity than seeing just how enthusiastic people already are about it, even if it can be a little daunting). Anyway, my post will be substantially shorter than yours, but here goes: (Disclaimer: All opinions below are entirely subjective. I do not claim them as superior to anyone else's, nor am I trying to insult anyone else's favoured Clans. When it comes to fictional settings, all opinions are equally valid, and all love for any aspect of the setting, however different it may be from my own, is to be encouraged. In the spirit of the thread, I am only stating what I, personally, think about them.) Crab I frankly find them boring. That isn't entirely the fault of the Clan themselves- as you say, delving into their truly horrific levels of PTSD can be interesting, and any Clan that comes up with a term like maru has some serious issues to be explored. The fact that the Crab themselves recognise this, with the Kuni acting as 'counsellors' for people who go off the deep end, does raise potential. Unfortunately, my strongest impression of the Crab runs along the lines of, "Hold this club. Stand on this wall. Club everything that comes over it until you die, and hope you don't come back." For people who like treating L5R as a combat-RPG with samurai aesthetics, the Crab are ideal. I am not one of those people, so I don't particularly like the Crab. Crane I like the Crane. Whether the Kakita striving for perfection of their chosen art in the face of a messy and stubbornly imperfect world, the Doji trying to leverage all their cultural cachet and eloquence to counterbalance the sheer weight of arms their enemies can bring to bear, the Asahina doing their best to create at least some little pocket of peace and harmony as a shelter for the soul against the rage and discordance of the outside world, or the Daidoji simply keeping everyone else alive, all the Families of the Crane have distinctive, and equally compelling, stories to tell. In large part, the most interesting aspect of the Crane for me is their conviction that beauty - whether defined as aesthetic value, proximity to perfection, or peace and harmony - has genuine value in the world, and that it is worth working towards and protecting, however hopelessly idealistic that might seem to everyone else. That is a story worth telling. Dragon In theory, they should be interesting. The monks add a distinctive dash of flavour to the setting, the Mirumoto are cool (more for their devotion to their own unique traditions of spirituality and service to their monks and shugenja than for their dual-wielding), the Kitsuki provide a constant source of tension with traditional forms of justice in Rokugan, and the Tamori provide a very different vision of what shugenja can be. All the same, I find little within them compelling enough to make me ever want to play one, or tell a story about them. I am grateful for their presence in the setting, and they certainly can make other stories more interesting by acting as foils, but in themselves, I just can't get excited about them. Lion Clearly the greatest Clan. What more need be said? I have already spoken at some length in various places about why I find the Lion so compelling, so to restate more briefly- no other Clan in Rokugan can provide the tension between ideal and reality that the Lion do. The combination of hyper-awareness of their obligations, impossibly high standards, and knowledge of their own imperfections, makes for a touchingly human story. That they often try to compensate for their own imperfections through arrogance, belligerence, and taking solace in the knowledge that others can only fall further from the ideal than they do themselves, doesn't detract from - and only draws attention to - their own deep fragility as people. The most important thing is to remember that their militarism stems from their tradition, devotion, and insecurity, rather than being a goal in and of itself. Love 'em. Mantis I hate the Yoritomo. I find virtually no redeeming features in them, nor any motivation to play them. The Tsuruchi are interesting, for all the reasons Endwaar described- and all the more so for the fact that they have subsequently faced an increasing loss of identity, with more and more Tsuruchi keeping their swords unbroken, accepting the name of samurai, and adhering (or at least paying lip-service to) Bushido. That is a deep threat to their core identity, and is much more interesting as a story than "pew pew pew our archers are the best" (even if I find their continued existence more than a little dubious- with the two most ruthless Clans as blood-enemies, isolated from any form of useful support, they shouldn't have lasted more than a year or two after the Crane and Emerald Champion withdrew their support). The Moshi are much more interesting to me following the fall of Amaterasu- torn between keeping the glory of Lady Sun shining, and trying to find a new calling against centuries of tradition, deeply conservative and 'honourable' in the way that the other Mantis are absolutely not, they occupy a no-man's-land, and finding one's place is always a good story. The Kitsune are not actively objectionable, but I don't find them particularly interesting, either. Phoenix Again like the Crane and the Lion, we have a faction that remains deeply devoted to an ideal despite all circumstances militating (literally) against it. The twin tragedies of the Isawa (blessed with knowledge beyond measure, lacking only the wisdom of how to use it) and the Shiba (more devoted than their masters deserve, always the first to suffer the consequences and the ones responsible for cleaning up the mess) are engaging enough, if they can be treated effectively. Sadly, as with the Crab, the Phoenix often seem to fall into the trap of either being little more than super-magi, or being sidelined into irrelevance until their knowledge becomes useful as a deus ex machina. More damningly, the Phoenix often seem to lack - to me, at least - the core vulnerability of the Lion, or the forlorn hopefulness of the Crane, which makes them seem less human, and less interesting. At their best, the Phoenix can provide a wonderful storytelling vehicle. Most of the time, sadly, the Lion and/or Crane can do the same thing better. Scorpion I don't like them. Their best characters (Yojiro!) are those who run against what it means to be Scorpion, and that says nothing good about the Clan overall. More generally, I don't like the 'antihero working in the shadows because nobody else will, and doing terrible things because they have no choice' schtick wherever it appears. Can there be interesting Scorpion characters? Yes. Can interesting stories be told of and/or among the Scorpion? Of course. I just don't like them myself. Spider Not touching this with a barge-pole. Unicorn I love Central Asia. My Masters was in Central Eurasian Studies, I speak good Turkish, Kazakh, and Uzbek, and passable Mongolian. On paper, I should be all over the Unicorn. The problem is that the classic Central Asian stories (Manas, Alpamys Batyr, Korgol, etc.) are fundamentally not suited to Rokugan, and Rokugani narrative sensibilities don't transfer at all well to Central Asia, either. The best Unicorn stories, to me, are those that are either told entirely outside Rokugan (so, steppe epics), or among the less-'barbarian' Unicorn. The Utaku, in particular, occupy a place very similar to the Moshi within the Mantis- honourable, conservative, more at home among wider society than as part of their own Clan, yet loyal to their Clan of outsiders, and determinedly nonconformist - and as such provide room for interesting stories to be told there, as well. Minor Clans I am largely apathetic to the Minor Clans, excepting the Monkey, whom I strongly dislike. That's probably all that needs to be said.
  21. Good work! I like the Kitsu a lot. I was slightly concerned, looking at the Kuni, that 'techniques' were going to end up looking much like existing prayers, but the Kitsu techs go a long way to alleviating that concern. I should say that I have absolutely no idea how balanced it is (if nothing else, it would have to be examined in the context of the other shugenja schools, and even then I would not be the right person to judge mathematical effectiveness and so on), but I like it in principle. Just a few thoughts for now: 1) The R5 technique could possibly be expanded to allow for the inflicting of a Haunted Disadvantage, as well as/instead of enabling/blocking the Ancestor Advantage. In my experience, many games disallow Ancestor Advantages (because they're horribly imbalanced), so that R5 would cause problems in those games (either enabling something that is otherwise banned, or disabling something which is already necessarily not present). Also, the Ancestor Advantages are of quite significantly differing point-values and utilities (the Moshi Ancestor is incredibly useful in some very specific circumstances, and utterly useless in most others; the Bayushi Ancestor is generally extremely useful; and so on and so forth), so the technique as written is somewhat unreliable. Haunted is of lower value, and probably wouldn't merit an R5 technique, but it is at least consistent in its effects, and I've never known a game to ban it outright, even if it often comes with warnings or conditions. 2) I don't mind the ability to commune with ancestor spirits on a basic level being available to all other shugenja, but I feel like Kitsu should be able to do so more effectively, reliably, or thoroughly than most. Granted, in-setting, that's partly a byproduct of their having access to the Hall of Ancestors, Shinden Yuisho, and so on; but it is still a thing. I would almost be inclined to make their R1 tech a passive trait that improves their ability to use Commune With Ancestors (or whatever that prayer ends up being called); let them talk for longer, be more specific in choosing whom they talk to, or whatever. That doesn't deprive anyone else of the ability to use the prayer, it just makes Kitsu better at it, which they frankly should be. 3) There's an interesting mixture of buffs and penalties in the school as it stands- I wouldn't mind having every rank (except R1 with the improved Ancestral Communion, and R4 with the combat improvements) provide the option to do either, even in a weakened form, rather than having them do one or the other. It would obviously have to be balanced pretty carefully, but I think it could provide a useful illustration of the ability of the Ancestors (and, indirectly, the Kitsu) to both provide and actively withhold support. 4) As a more general point, but with the Kitsu/Sodan Senzo as a specific triggering point for me- are Advanced Schools intended to remain a thing? Obviously I'm not asking for them right now, as you are already being far too generous with your time and effort, but with the redesign of how shugenja work, it does raise the question; and if Advanced Schools do exist, then it raises the question of what kinds of techniques might be left for them. 5) Even more generally, are 'secret prayers' known only to one or a few schools/Families still going to be a thing? In the current system, their treatment is highly inconsistent and generally in need of improvement; in your rework, it would be possible to incorporate at least some of them (like Judgement of Yomi) into the school techs themselves, but that doesn't entirely remove them as a feature of the setting. Is the idea to do away with secret prayers entirely, so that all prayers distinct from the School Techniques themselves can be learned by any shugenja, or will there still be some firewalling of prayers based on school/Family/rank/piety/whatever? As always, many thanks for your work, and I look forward to the next instalment!
  22. It seems clear by now that our perceptions of Bushido - and our readings of Leadership - are fundamentally different, to the point that they can't be resolved by further discussion. I think we've all made our cases fairly clearly, and I see no way any of us is going to change anyone else's mind, so I think the correct thing to do is to bring an end to the debate while everyone is still being civil. I thank everyone involved for their input- even where I might disagree with a given point, hearing it is interesting and valuable, and can broaden perspectives. To repeat yet again- however we perceive and define it, Honour is important in the setting. If nothing else, this discussion has illustrated the necessity of agreeing OOCly within a playgroup what Bushido is.
  23. I can't find anything from Leadership that would support this. The only way I can imagine this to happen with a truly honorable samurai is if he specifically vowed to do anything his lord asks. However, in this case, the honor of said samurai is already questionable as his vow shows that he would be okay with dishonorable actions. Most obviously: This clearly indicates that a leader is considered to be in a position equivalent to a sensei- ie, they know best, and the proper thing for a subordinate to do is to follow instructions without question. Additionally: Again, the notion of a samurai knowing better than their daimyo is deeply anathema- and that's written into Leadership, not a post-Akodo stultification of his ideas. There are, of course, many, many, references to the importance of duty and service to one's lord. I would submit that the vast majority of samurai would interpret those references as meaning they should do what they are told, but I am willing to concede that correcting one's lord could be construed as a form of service in itself, if that act is considered permissible (which, again, I would consider debatable). Here, again, we disagree. Obviously Honour 10 is the ideal- and I even agree that anyone who doesn't quite reach that level could be considered 'flawed'. That doesn't mean, however, that they're not trying their absolute hardest and in good faith to be as honourable as possible at all times. It's just that it's practically impossible to avoid situations where you have no choice but to violate some tenet or another, even in a tiny way, and that means you'll pretty much never reach perfection. Yes, samurai are imperfect. No, that doesn't mean they're not honourable, or are somehow taking an easier road. I have always seen this as one of the reasons why the Lion, especially the Matsu, like war so much (and why Leadership is insistent on the honourable quality of warfare)- in combat, it's very easy to be honourable. Fight fair, show respect to your enemy, and keep doing it until you are dead or nobody on the other side is fighting any more. If all a samurai ever had to do was fight, Bushido-related problems almost disappear (though not entirely- see, again, Akodo Hari's example). In the wider world, life is not that simple, and neither is Bushido.
  24. This is the same as the peasant-killer-lord from earlier. A samurai who says "No" in this case does not violate Duty at all. In fact, she honors Duty by being true to her lord as she tells him that he is wrong and he should choose a different course of action (then immediately propose one). If the lord doesn't listen, then the problem runs deeper and the samurai must carefully consider what to do about her lord who have strayed away from the Bushido. Depending on the circumstances and the extent of he dishonorable action the lord wants to force on his retainer, this can end with the samurai abandoning her lord and seek out a new lord she can serve with honor or she can rise and save her lord from himself. What you are describing is not what is described in the L5R materials. I'll take a step sideways, and say that I agree that what AtoMaki describes is a valid option. I have myself played (honourable) characters who would have supported that standpoint, and I don't believe it inherently contradicts Bushido. Several quotes from Leadership could be cited in support of voicing dissent against dishonourable orders. I do not, however, believe that it is the only valid position for an honourable samurai to take, and I have also played characters who would never think of that kind of insubordination. If nothing else, samurai life is all about service to one's lord, and for a samurai to believe themselves entitled to correct their lord is incredibly presumptuous. Again, several quotes from Leadership could be cited in support of doing precisely what your lord asks, whatever it is. There is almost always at least some range of acceptable behaviour for honourable samurai; the breadth of that range depends on the circumstances. Interesting though this argument is, though, I suspect it reflects deeply-held notions of what Bushido is and means, and is therefore not resolvable now (nor ever, unless and until FFG releases material that perfectly lays out what honourable conduct is, which would be of dubious benefit in my view). More importantly, it obscures the larger point, on which I'm fairly confident we all agree: that honour is deeply meaningful within the setting, and deserves proper representation. The fact that we can have this debate means that Honour is important; the fact that we are having it means that it's fundamentally contested.
  25. With that, I agree. I have in the past used the metaphor of a jewel, with the tenets as facets of the stone- a gem with only one facet is no gemstone at all, and the best jewels of all are those in which each facet is flawless and even. This was the logic behind my measuring 'Honour' cumulatively on the basis of the lowest tenets, since any flaw weakens the whole. Every samurai with aspirations of honour should always seek to follow Bushido in its entirety, in every moment of their lives. However, the simple fact remains that this just isn't always possible. There are always times when the tenets will come into conflict, and it is at those times when the honourable samurai must decide where their priorities lie, however much they might strive to follow Bushido as a whole. Even kanshi doesn't save you- while it is generally considered an honourable solution to honour-related dilemmas, you're still depriving your lord of a valuable samurai, and (depending on your familial situation) potentially cutting short your ancestral lineage, which is something that should never be done lightly. In sum, I agree with your main point. But I don't agree that it's always possible to adhere perfectly to Bushido as a whole, or that all truly honourable people will always agree on the correct course of action. I see no justification for this view. It's certainly an interesting perspective - though one might think the Lion, at least, would have worked this out by now, since they can and do talk to people from the Dawn of the Empire, who might not have had a clearer perspective on what Bushido meant to Akodo-Kami - but I can't think of any basis for it, beyond your own interpretation of how things went down. Which isn't a put-down! On the contrary, as I said, it would be a fascinating concept to play with! I'm just not sure that anyone else is obliged to take it as canon truth.
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