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DGLaderoute

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  1. Yes, I neglected the Chancellor. My bad...how could I forget the esteemed Kakita Yoshi? Teach me to write stuff while trying to watch stuff on Netflix...
  2. Yeah, for my part, I think interest would be viewed pretty dimly in most of Rokugan, bordering on what amounts to extortion. That's probably how I'd approach it in a game I was running. I'm not sure it has ever been mentioned in the canon, though, in either the old lore or the new.
  3. Probably because, for the vast majority of clan samurai, there's really little reason to do either. Most samurai simply get to live a life relatively free of issues regarding money in just about any capacity. They don't have to pay rent, or buy food, or equip themselves, because their lord/the "system" provides all of that too them, often along with a small stipend or "allowance" for whatever miscellaneous expenses do come up. And if they're traveling away from their lord's jurisdiction--at least on official duties--they'd be given either funds to pay their expenses, or perhaps letters of credit or similar documents intended to allow the clans whose hospitality they enjoy to claim monies back (the Rokugani do love their paperwork.) Frankly, unless a given samurai has a specific need for money that's probably quite personal to them--say, a gambling problem or a drug addiction or something similar--it probably never even really occurs to them to go looking for money in the first place. Many of these same samurai would similarly see Bushido as a good reason to not make their first stop for solving any money problems that do come up just taking it from heimin. It's generally dishonorable, flying in the face of Compassion, Honor, and perhaps even Courage (rolling unarmed, unskilled peasants for their stuff isn't exactly the making of a glorious, heroic tale.) Now, take a samurai with major gambling debts, an opium addiction that's expensive to feed, or who is a ronin with no lord providing for them, the situation becomes quite different. HERE I can see some resorting to loans (which, I acknowledge, could be dumb...it's often dumb in our real world, too.) Some may still be desperately hanging onto the Bushido tenets; others may, despite their circumstances, be sympathetic to the commoners, or simply not be stalwart enough to risk taking things that really don't belong to them. And some, yes, will happily walk up to a commoner and take all their stuff without a second thought, even through violence...they're just peasants, after all. That's all fine, as along as they get away with it. But if they do get caught, the consequences--especially if they're ronin--can be quite severe. Samurai lords really don't like being robbed and, yes, may very well take the word of a trusted retainer (who has been making good coin for them) over that of some samurai known to hang out in seedy gambling houses or opium dens or, far worse, is a ronin dog. Those samurai can easily end up dead. So it's not really that I particularly disagree with you. I just think that, like most things in this society we try to portray as being as "real" as we can make it, there are going to be lots of reasons the people do the things they do, including often not making the best, or apparently most sensible decisions. Heck, look at OUR real world for that!
  4. By the "chosen of the emperor", I'm assuming you mean the Emerald Champion, the Imperial Advisor and the like. It actually varies. The Emerald Champion wields enormous power, being not just the Emperor's champion, but also the Empire's chief magistrate, the commander of the Imperial Legions and the head of a big chunk of the Imperial bureaucracy (not bad for a position generally selected by a sword-fight, when you think about it). So the EC is...well, far more powerful, and has much higher status, than anyone except the Emperor himself. Now, the EC generally doesn't actually DO all those jobs, and delegates a lot of it. But the authority being delegated is his/hers. The Imperial Advisor is also extremely powerful, but in a much "softer" way. The Advisor oversees some of the bureaucracy, if memory serves (at least, they did in the old lore; I wrote that part of the old "Secrets of the Empire" book, about the Imperial bureaucracy, and I seem to remember assigning some of the bureaucracy to the Advisor...but I might be wrong and don't have the book handy to look it up). However, the Advisor has direct and immediate access to the Emperor, and can (potentially, at least; it would depend on the particular Emperor) influence the decisions that come from the Throne is pretty fundamental ways. I'm not sure if we currently have an Imperial Treasurer; it's really a much more bureaucratic position, though, so is powerful within a pretty narrow set of boundaries dealing with things like taxation, monetary policy, etc. We don't have a Jade Champion or Shogun currently (frankly, I'm not sure if the latter position is even recognized in the new lore...I don't recall it being mentioned anywhere, but again, I could be wrong). The Imperial families, OTOH, are also quite powerful in their own ways. None of them really come close to the clout of the Emerald Champion, but the Otomo are firmly embedded in the bureaucracy, the Seppun are responsible for the safety and welfare of the Emperor and his family, and the Miya are the Emperor's "eyes, ears and voice" throughout the Empire. The daimyo of each of these families has access to the Emperor similar to that of the Advisor, so has (again, at least potentially) similar power and status. Does this help?
  5. Well, this is probably true in some cases, sure...some lords won't care. The trouble is, I get the sense you're looking for a one-size-fits-all answer and that's where things get more complicated. If a samurai takes money from a merchant who's a vassal to another lord, he is stealing from that lord. That's a crime. If the samurai in question doesn't get called to account for it and gets away with it...well, nothing's illegal if you don't get caught, right? But if the samurai DOES get "caught", whether because the lord chooses to believe the merchant anyway (which would be deeply insulting, of course, and could very well trigger a demand for a duel...but that doesn't mean it won't happen), or there are samurai witnesses who can testify, or some other reason, it becomes crime whose seriousness, and consequences, could be as dire as the lord is able to make stick. It's like anything else...sure, a samurai can walk around Rokugan taking stuff from commoners, but they are accepting a risk when they do that. They might get away with it essentially forever...or they might not, and could find themselves in varying amounts of trouble. And, of course, there's the whole concept of Bushido to consider. A significant majority of Rokugani samurai would look at doing this as a violation of Compassion, and perhaps Honor, and even Courage, and therefore quite dishonorable. After all, what honorable samurai would lower themselves to ripping off commoners for cash? If the samurai's lord finds out about it, THEY might bring harsh judgment down on the offender, because it simply looks bad. The bottom line is that we don't see anything in the canon that portrays samurai walking around Rokugan ransacking the commoners' stuff. There are reasons for that. Oh, I suspect most samurai in this situation will try to avoid letting their lord find out, because this is another "looks really bad" sort of thing. It's even more incentive to keep it all on the down-low. This may be a less-than-savory situation for a samurai getting a loan, but it's probably also not an uncommon one.
  6. Sorry, I have absolutely no idea. I'm just a freelancer, writing what I'm asked to write!
  7. Okay...but as I said, if the commoner is a vassal to the samurai--which, if they have the same lord, the commoner certainly would be--then it's not theft, no. BUT...in the case of having the same lord, the samurai is then answerable to their lord regarding why they took money or stuff from the commoner in question. Their lord may very well take a dim view of this, if the samurai doesn't have a good reason, but that's between the samurai and their lord. As for the merchant, they do have a recourse--simply ensuring that their lord is informed of the matter. This assumes whatever was taken represents significant value, of course...if the samurai took a chamber pot, the merchant probably won't bother, but if he took the equivalent of a bunch of koku, the merchant certainly would report it. The merchant, after all, is going to be answerable to that lord for the money they handle (well, except for anything "off the books", of course, but that wouldn't be reported anyway!) Where we would tend to see samurai taking out loans from commoners is across clan boundaries. For example, in the Dark Tides module, there are samurai who owe money to commoners (which is all I'll say, to avoid any spoilers for the module.) So a Crane samurai with an interest in gambling in, say, Ryoko Owari may very well end up borrowing money from commoners, who are themselves vassals to Scorpion lords. That would probably be a bad idea in the long run, but a samurai with a gambling or other addictions, or who have otherwise made complicated life-choices, generally aren't the type to necessarily avoid bad ideas...
  8. I'm curious...where did the idea that a Rokugani samurai can simply take whatever they wish from a commoner come from? I suppose that would be true for any samurai regarding their own vassals (because it is, in such a case, actually THEIR money or stuff). But with respect to commoners that are vassals of other samurai lords, that would be theft; they would be stealing from another samurai. That would make it at least a minor crime under Rokugani law. Now, the extent to which such a crime will be pursued by the magistrates of the clan in question is wide open--what was taken, what were the circumstances, what is the respective status of the alleged perpetrator and victim, how well connected are they, what is the relationship between the respective families or clans, and so on. It would still be a crime, however. All commoners are vassals to a samurai somewhere (unless they're outlaws or bandits or the like); anything done to them is effectively being done to their lord. That's why it's really NOT a good idea to walk around Rokugan slaughtering peasants for lols or otherwise trivial reasons; regardless of the status of the peasants, a samurai is suffering harm because of it. Now, of course, in a particular game, a GM and players can approach Rokugan however they like. But the above is certainly how I'd approach it.
  9. When the original game was launched in 1995 by AEG, the story started in the year 1123. When AEG effectively shut down the game setting and sold the game to FFG in 2015, the in-game year was about 1202 or so...very shortly after 1200, anyway. So, during that time, a total of about 80 in-game years passed, and all of the story that's now referred to as "old lore" or "old L5R" occurred during those 80-ish years. In 2017, FFG relaunched the game and its setting. When they did, they returned the story back to 1123 and "rebooted" the story. There are some similarities between the new story and the old one in terms of the year 1123, but also many differences, as FFG takes the story in their own direction. So...all of that old lore is fine unto itself, but it's like an alternate timeline now. A new timeline has been started, telling its own story; the old lore really doesn't apply to it anymore. That said, anything in the story that was "history" in 1123 is the same in both timelines (unless specifically stated otherwise); it's in that year that the divergence happens between old and new lore.
  10. The terminology is, admittedly, a little loose. The term "spirit" was originally defined in the (old) canon as any being not native to Ningen-do, the Mortal Realm. Unfortunately, that almost immediately got muddied when the Elemental kami started being referred to as "elemental spirits". Since the Elemental kami are, by their very definition, native to Ningen-do (they exist in all things, etc.) it created a hole in the "not native to Ningen-do" definition. For my part, I now take "spirit" to mean essentially anything native to Ningen-do that isn't actually mortal OR any being from a realm other than Ningen-do. So humans, animals, nezumi, etc. are not spirits; the Elemental kami, the kami of places and things, etc. ARE spirits, as are things originating in other realms like Chikusho-do, Gaki-do, Jigoku, etc. It's still probably not entirely watertight a definition, but it suffices. (As an aside, it also raises the question--would humans be considered "spirits" if they traveled to another realm, by the denizens of that realm? If a human traveled to, say, Chikusho-do, would the native creatures there consider him or her a "spirit", or whatever their equivalent of that would be? I honestly don't know, and don't think there's a canon answer for that...which is fine, some questions should just be left making you go, hmmm....) Anyway, the Elemental kami are spirits, not being mortal. Of course, not all spirits are kami, however! As noted, shugenja are holy people who, for reasons not clearly understood by the Rokugani, have the ability to communicate directly with the Elemental kami and call upon them to manifest Elemental effects directly in the world. Priests, OTOH, are holy people who cannot do this, but are capable of doing myriad other holy acts like calling upon the kami to bless crops or a new bridge or forge or whatever, can marry people, perform funereal rites, etc. Because shugenja are generally very rare, and often have very specific duties on behalf of their lords and clans, priests actually deliver most of the day-to-day holy services to the people of the Empire. Priests also can, with considerable time and effort, cause some supernatural effects to manifest through rituals (but generally nothing as fast, potent or "showy" as a shugenja could.) So "priest" is essentially a job, while "shugenja" is something you, by your very nature, ARE.
  11. I really like the way you've approached and developed this. It's a great example of taking a minor story element and building it into something much bigger and more interesting. It's really cool when that happens. If you remember, in "The World, A Stage", Bayushi Shoju spars with Bayushi Yunako in a dojo; their fight becomes one to the death (at Shoju's order), with Yunako possibly only being saved by the arrival of Kachiko. We later learn Shoju is considering Yunako as commander of the Bayushi Elite Guard. In my very first cut at this story, none of that happened. Yunako wasn't even in the story. The story opened with a later scene, Shoju musing over some koi in a pond. It was too "passive" a scene to me, and I went looking for something else. It was seeing the Commander Trait on Yunako's card that made me think...hmm, commander of WHAT, exactly? He candidacy for command of a very special Scorpion unit, one very close to the Champion, fell out of that, and out of THAT came the whole scene with her and Shoju. I admit, though, it does seem a little odd that Tsubasa gets to attend the Topaz Championship after failing his gempukku repeatedly. I've run that module a few times, now, and although I remember reading that and going, huh? it never came up during play. Take as written, it DOES suggest something more is going on with this guy...
  12. True, but I think eyebrows wouldn't be raised as much if a bushi ended up in a sake house brawl, as opposed to a shugenja. Moreover, there'd probably be some biases related to clans and families; it would probably seem more inappropriate for, say, a Crane or Phoenix to engage in fisticuffs than, say, a Crab (especially a Hida) or a Yoritomo. Reputations really do precede people! But you're right...samurai are generally supposed to be better than all that. The fact that most of them aren't doesn't change the way it SHOULD be (and, again, the difference from the way things SHOULD be versus how they ARE is where a lot of the story's drama comes from!)
  13. Well, both are holy people, generally more ascetic than most samurai, so less concerned about worldly matters and issues of the flesh. So, in that sense, since they are considered to moral and spiritual guardians and shepherds for the people of the Empire, it isn't unreasonable for there to be a broad expectation that they'll conduct themselves with proper propriety. Even in our world, I think there's a general expectation that priests and ministers and imams and the like aren't going to go about flinging themselves into brawls, and would actually try to defuse and de-escalate such situations. But. The reality is that shugenja and monks are people. When we create them as characters, we go through the same 20 questions we do for bushi, etc. They have passions, flaws, beliefs, values, biases and the like that they bring into their interactions with others. So of course some of them are going to occasionally "lose it" and do things that certainly don't seem very "holy". Will that come across as unseemly or inappropriate to other Rokugani? Yes, it probably will, at least in a very general way. Shugenja and monks are, again, holy people, who are expected to act as moral compasses...so when they're throwing punches in a bar brawl, it would probably seem rather off-putting to a lot of other samurai. There's another "but", though, and that's about the samurai witnessing it. Some, who have very traditional and specific views of the Rokugani clergy, may be outraged at this behavior. Others may be outraged that these holy figures are being subjected to such behavior. Either of these types may intervene. Others may choose to simply politely ignore what's going on, as though it's not happening at all. And still others may be intrigued, amused or even impressed. So, while I'd suggest there'd probably be a broad, diffuse "discomfort" with what's going on, the reactions to it by others would probably be all over the map. Finally, I'd note that situations in which the monk or shugenja has been attacked, and are simply defending themselves, or a situation in which they are fighting in an actual skirmish or battle, are different. In such cases, it's not unreasonable for holy people to mix it up and most Rokugani would probably see it that way. But for shugenja or monk to go out drinkin', and end up in a swirling donnybrook of fists and sake bottles...well, yes, that would probably be seen as somewhat unseemly by most Rokugani.
  14. That river is probably meant to be the River of the Last Stand. It has always been there, in the lore...it's this river's waters that, in the early Eighth Century, the shugenja Kuni Osaku caused to rise a massive flood for 80-ish days, holding back the armies of the oni lord known as The Maw while the Crab constructed the first segments of the Kai Kabe, the Carpenter Wall, behind it. When Kuni Osaku finally died performing this ritual and the waters receded, The Maw's horde found itself unable to break through the new Wall. In what became known as the Battle of the Cresting Wave, the Crab counterattacked, killing The Maw, scattering its armies and preventing the Empire from potentially being overrun and destroyed. All this is to say that this lore was established long ago, so the River of the Last Stand has always been there...it just hasn't been portrayed so prominently on a map before (that I can recall, anyway).
  15. In the canon setting, this is actually the wakizashi, the shorter of the two swords that commonly comprise the daisho. Every samurai would have a wakizashi, and would normally wear it as their symbol of station. Most would also have a katana, since most will receive a complete daisho, often passed down from an ancestor (although younger siblings may not receive an ancestral daisho, unless that particular family has a tradition of handing such daisho down to younger siblings and they are available.) It wouldn't be unreasonable for a samurai to have a new daisho, made specifically for them, as well. As you note, though, even if most samurai possess a katana, the only ones who would wear it routinely would be those prepared to use it. So, while essentially all samurai will possess and wear a wakizashi, only those able to actually properly wield a katana (normally, but not solely, bushi) would wear it. In your setting, of course, if you prefer the katana to be the symbol of station for a samurai, then that's cool!
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