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  1. You're missing the point. Kakita Yoshi saying that the edict is false is enough for people to take interest - the actual, verifiable truth no longer matters. Who will Kachiko support, for example? We know who she should support, as we know that Matsu Tsuko's actions are inherently dishonourable, as we know that Doji Kuwanan's actions are inherently dishonourable, as we know that the Crab's decision to tacitly support the Mantis' piracy against the Crane is dishonourable. The 'truth' will end up being whatever the victor decides it to be. If the edict is 'false', (and that Kakita Yoshi is able to believably say that he had not discussed it with the Emperor, as will Bayushi Kachiko (should she decide to)) then what must be true? That the Emperor intended for Sotorii to be Emperor? For that matter, has the court actually sat (as in, how much time has passed)? As far as I'm aware, it is Shoju who sent for Sumiko who again, suddenly has an army at her disposal. Shoju's position as regent (and legitimacy) is based on the Edict being unchallenged. How might the disappearance of the Edict's 'supposed' author look to those willing to make an issue of it? We already know how skilled the Scoprion can be at forgery (and part of the plot of the RPG adventure Winter's Embrace involves another forgery in the Emperor's name), and Yoshi has demonstrated how uncertainty can be twisted into certainty (He is uncertain about the letter's veracity, but claims the opposite to Kuwanan). Again, who placed the seal on the edict? Was it the Emperor (as we know it was) or will others argue that Bayushi Shoju took advantage of their 'friendship' death to gain access to it? Kakita Yoshi saying the edict is interesting, as a curiousity. The Imperial Chancellor saying it (and who actually outranks who here? Shouldn't the Imperial Chancellor know about the Emperor's wishes on succession? Shouldn't it be the Chancellor who is pre-eminent on matters of governance? Is the edict simply a matter of law, as you suggest?) is interesting, as a political moment. To quote from the story; "... Like the courtiers who had merely fluttered their fans that morning and waited to see how the wind would blow next. Shoju had sent for Yoshi because he knew the court waited to see what the chancellor would do." Suggests that Shoju's position is not as strong as it theoretically should be. It's reminiscent of the fact that theoretically the Emerald magistrates have vast amounts if power (they are appointed by the Emperor, or on Their behalf), yet practically they must move very carefully. (This must, of course, be taken with a pinch of salt - It is Kakita Yoshi who is the viewpoint character after all. Maybe he simply believes it to be true?) In the end, with the waters muddied enough by opportunists and circumstance, how many will believe Bayushi Shoju, Master of Secrets?
  2. Isn't that what makes this so interesting? Sumiko may 'outrank' him to us, but both the Champion and the Chancellor are of sufficiently high status that strictly speaking only the Emperor (Yoshi 'technically' outranks his Clan champion) stands above them - technically as well it is Toturi that may 'outrank' Yoshi; others may decide that it is Yoshi that holds the political clout (remember that Sumiko is explicitly described as still wearing her Ruby Champion gear). And Toturi's disappearance is unfortunately timed. And the seal is immaterial, or rather what matters is when the seal was affixed. Was it before or after Jodan was killed/died? Is Shoju/Kachiko the kind of person who could commit that level of Heresy? (We know, and Yoshi knows that Kachiko would do that if she could get away with it).
  3. I would like to add to this that Yoshi doesn't actually have to prove it is a forgery - the fact that one of the highest status people in the room says it's a forgery is all that matters. Only the Dragon (or maybe even only the Kitsuki) really care about 'proof'. To prhase that another way - Kakita Yoshi, the Imperial Chancellor, saying that the edict is a forgery is proof enough by the standards of the society he lives in.
  4. I'm fairly sure that the Shadowlands book mentioned that some in the Crab looked to the Scorpion as a potential ally in their 'shadow war' with the Crane (due to the Crane/Scorpion political mess), though the Kuni on the whole opposed it as they didn't want to lose access to the Phoenix. This could lead to a Crab split, beyond Yori's madness. The Crane/Crab fracas makes the Scorpion natural allies (As well as the Lion, especially given the fact that the Crab have historical reasons to dislike the Unicorn). Things get especially interesting if Tadaka's interest in the Shadowlands is enough to convince some of the Crab's higher ups that maybe conflict with the Crane wouldn't necessarily isolate the Phoenix (at least, in a way that functionally matters beyond courtly denunciations that the Crab have little time for). The Crab wouldn't even have to deploy many bodies to support military action, simply threaten both the Unicorn and Crane flanks with enough siege equipment/Ashigaru (who aren't routinely deployed to the Wall anyway due to fears over their suitability) to force both clans to keep badly needed military forces on that border. It would be hilarious if this potential alliance is destroyed by Kachiko and Aramarou threatening the Jade mines. I do wonder how far Tsuko would be willing to go for her 'true victory' over the Crane, given that it seems that how victory is achieved (Striking as soon as possible - and consequently when the enemy is better able to fight - rather than when it could do the most damage) matters far more to her than actually achieving victory. Would she accept Scorpion allies? Crab? (Especially if doing so places the Lion under an obligation to them, and she feels that the 'gift' of Toshi Ranbo should have been the Lion's.) An interesting way for the Unicorn to spin Shahai's flight with Daisetsu could be to claim that she left to protect the Prince from Shoju's manipulations if the Unicorn side with Yoshi's assertion that the Edict is a forgery. (And therefore that the Unicorn and Crane act to preserve the rightful succession against the Scorpion attempting to subvert the natural order of things, using the youngest Prince for political advantage.) Doing so could lead to interesting things.
  5. Yeah, He's good enough when he's the instigator, just incredibly bad at reacting to things which he can't control (unless it's for personal advantage - reinforcing his Yojimbo's loyalty, for example, or claiming the credit for something he didn't do. It's kinda nice in a way that both him and Kachiko seem to share that particular character flaw). Which is a huge problem given his role and prominence. It's also slightly sad, as I'm positive that even if Toturi hadn't disappeared and could add his voice to the Edict's authenticity Yoshi would suspect the Lion as being part of the 'plot'. ****, even if the Emperor himself spoke to him from beyond the grave I'm pretty sure he'd blame the Scorpion/Lion/whoever would benefit him. I do like how we seem to have multiple incredibly fragile alliances - Do the Phoenix stand with their allies the Crane when the Crane seek an alliance with the Unicorn?
  6. No, we really haven't - kindly state exactly why marriage is so necessary to the creation of children. That's the thing, you're approaching this entire conversation with that (marriage=children) as your basic starting point and ignoring or downplaying all the other ways that marriage is treated within the narrative in order to fit with your pre-constructed ideas surrounding marriage. Again, why are Altansarnai's actions considering her family 'immoral' - a value judgement you are making, given the lack of other supporting evidence within the source material - within the society in which the events are placed? No-one within or without the Unicorn seem to be suggesting that her children are not Samurai, and I cannot imagine the Lion or the Phoenix leaving that avenue of attack alone. In much the same way that you seem to refuse to actually engage with any of the points raised that don't fit with your own ideas, or appear to concede the argument. The continuation of their line is one of many, many different factors that any given Lord considers and is not the sole over-riding imperative you appear to believe it to be; "While commoners and samurai of lesser station more often marry for love, sentiment rarely plays a part in the selection of a match for the samurai of the Great Clans, for marriages are political opportunities far too valuable to pass up. The clans view such unions as contracts between allies, rather than as bonds between lovers" (pg 79, Courts of Stone. Emphasis added). "Hisatsugu furrowed his brow. Uniting the houses of two merchant lords meant unifying their holdings. Together, they would be a significant economic power in a region otherwise dominated by the Yasuki. The proposal named a war-orphaned Doji child to be adopted by the pair, ensuring that these unified holdings would be inherited by the Crane." (pg 5, Courts of Stone.) "Theirs had not been a marriage of love, convenience, or station. Theirs had been a marriage of power. He, a ferocious strategic mastermind, and she, a brilliant political architect. As the two most formidable Scorpion born in the last generation, they had been joined by their clan in the hope that their combined strength would raise the Scorpion like a hidden wave to its apex in the Empire." (pg 1, Behind the Empty Throne). "Because Doji are chosen for Imperial spouses more often than members of any other family, the hand of a Doji is especially prestigious. A Doji spouse has become a sort of political bargaining chip as a result. Doji rarely marry out of their clan, preferring to have other families marry in, even if it runs counter to the social convention that a lesser-ranked samurai marries into the family of the greater" (pg 57, Courts of Stone. Emphasis added.) The Adventure at Castle Kyotei, where the entire debacle revolves around a marriage and the political legitimacy it would give to the Damasu and their claim on the castle should they usurp it. I could go on.
  7. In that vein, I doubt that an adoption with the parents still living would be common, unless the parents were ill/assured of their death and the adoptee was very young - or the status difference was so great that the honour that would be gained (minor clan samurai/peasant that is skilled being adopted into a major clan) would outweigh (or make refusal an insult) the loss. The offense lies, as most things do in Rokugan, in the potential for insults to lie underneath seeming propriety. That is a good point on Altansarnai, though I question your wording (is it a character flaw? What does morality have to do with her decision? Why is it immoral?). It could be an anomaly, however if it was I would still argue that her social capital (position/ex-position as Champion) allows her to 'create' or influence the social norms that the Unicorn operate under. I do agree with the idea that very few people (The Emperor, for sure could but who else?) could legitimately call her on her actions if they were to be unrepresentative of either broader Rokugan or Unicorn society. I think it has to do with you requiring your Lord's permission to be marry - your Lord is the one who is expected to organise your marriage if I recall the lore correctly. Given the political aspect to marriages, it makes a degree of sense that any given Lord may wish to keep their options open in that regard. Furthermore, I think that a lot of emphasis is made on 'good' matches arranged by/through professional (and politicised) matchmakers. For most Samurai (Jizamurai, for example) their Lords' approval is a mere formality but for the 'important' Samurai they're almost a political commodity, a finite resource for their Lord to spend with established rules on how to spend them. Furthermore, a Samurai is a significant investment of time and materials, with the lower-status spouse expected to effectively manage their new, shared household. It may be seen as prudent to delay marriage if possible to ensure you gain more 'use' from them. Perhaps that, in a way, provides a practical reason for the prevalance for same-sex marriages, in that there would presumably be a high mortality rate for Samurai (though for some clans this would be less of an issue). It could be possible that two potential spouses approach a marriage with existing children. There must also be differences of opinion on marriage and child-rearing between the clans - I can't imagine the constantly fighting Crab or the diminishing Dragon (who both have an imperative to produce offspring (and indeed to recruit/adopt/have marry into the clan) to keep their numbers up, though for different reasons) to share, say, the Crane or Phoenix's opinion.
  8. Okay, 'differences of opinion' on the event aside, there does seem to be a catalogued tradition within Rokugan of the lower status spouse joining the higher status' family (with familial exceptions, of which one clan seem to have the... Lions', share). That's kind of the point, all things aren't equal in an adoption - if you attempt to adopt someone of similar or higher status than yourself, that can and probably would be construed as an insult as you are implying that they are (or should be) lower than yourself. Furthermore, you are assuming that marriage is the only way to produce offspring - Rokugan has an established 'institution' of mistresses and concubines. Not to get all Altansarai again, but the narrative clearly states that the father of her children is explicitly not her spouse. There is a whole host of implications, references and mentions of a disconnect between 'marriage' and 'procreation'.
  9. There are other reasons for marriage in Rokugan than strictly procreation - the status of your spouse-to-be can be the whole point or, as Grendel has highlighted, demonstrating how committed both parties are to a treaty or alliance. In this light, the marriage becomes a statement and furthermore, given the emphasis on familial loyalty in Rokugan, such a statement implies that wronging one party will wrong the other in a way that a mere contract does not. This is a setting where 'blood' doesn't always matter (past a certain point anyway - Samurai, ho!) and heirs can be adopted into your family. On a similar point, marriage is not necessarily about procreation. 'Marriage' is a legal mechanism through which inheritance is justified and property transferred and protected. I would argue that Rokugan doesn't have any inherent heteronormativity, in that there are no strictly delineated gender roles (and on top of that their understanding of gender seems fluid). Given the emphasis on loyalty to one's parents, being adopted by someone makes you inherently 'lesser' in that you are expected to defer to your new parents. Offering marriage might be seen to be the more egalitarian (and therefore more respectful to your potential spouse (and therefore not insulting them)) method of having them join your family. As an interesting aside, in Winter's Embrace, one of the NPC's romances could end with a secret marriage, which creates a whole new set of conundrums if we're trying to figure out exactly how Rokugan society views marriage.
  10. It is a thing! In one of the sourcebooks on superstition - Emerald empire I think? Edit - pg 148 of the Emerald Empire sourcebook. "It should be noted that a common Togashi pastime is inventing new superstitions and passing them on to the peasantry to see which ones catch on."
  11. It's interesting to think about - if you were a minor diplomat in the Imperial City, what would you do if you found out that the Emperor was dead, his youngest missing (maybe kidnapped by the Unicorn), the Emerald Champion is also missing and oh, by the way, there's an army from the Dragon Lands that has materialised overnight and is suddenly guarding the Imperial Palace? Especially if we then hear rumours of the missing Prince sighted in the company of the Dragon Champion's chosen heir and then other rumours (from an unknown source, of course) suggesting that the Emerald and Ruby Champions didn't really see eye to eye? That sounds like an incredibly brazen coup attempt to me.
  12. In those terms, Kuwanan didn't go to the next highest-ranking Crane he could think of. His Lord is (as far as I am aware) Doji Hotaru, to whom all of the other Crane Daimyo swear fealty. Going to the Daimyo of the Kakita family is similar to going to the Daimyo of the Shiba in that respect - Kuwanan is one of Hotaru's personal vassals and, beyond the propriety he must show to Yoshi, he is not bound to follow his commands outside of Yoshi's demesne. If he truly feels that Hotaru's actions are reprehensible then the honourable thing is to commit seppuku rather than to continue serving, not to pick the brains of one of Hotaru's other vassals. The Wedding at Castle Kyotei RPG adventure highlights this, noting that the vassals of the castle's lord were bound to follow him should he betray the Crane. Actually, where exactly does Kuwanan fall on the rungs of Rokugani Hierarchy? Who is he supposed to answer to? Again, the path Yoshi sets Kuwanan on is a dishonourable one, that Yoshi has suggested is the only honourable path forwards for the good of the clan (which is not something that is, ultimately, their decision to make given the bonds of duty they are both supposed to follow). It's that framing of the conversation that I especially consider skillful That is incredibly true - I would argue that he has a genuine ability in reacting to machinations, however you are correct as at no point is he actively directing events up till now (and the only time he arguably seems to have done so, here, it's to pretty much split the Crane in half). It doesn't speak well of his ability to direct things in detail, but he can manipulate events to his own advantage. I would argue that all of the fluff demonstrates that, under normal circumstances, he is fully capable of performing his role and performing it adequately. It's an interesting exploration of the character - does Yoshi tunnel-vision on specific problems? Does he think in terms of what is 'legitimately' allowable and ignore others, both allowing him to be blind-sided by other factors? How can he counter-act the Scorpion's personal and intimate access to the Emperor, when his position as Imperial Chancellor places him as the head of the Imperial Bureaucracy and presumably a direct vassal? Was Kakita Ryouko the previous Advisor? Was that part of his prior (though hinted at) success? It's suggested that part of the Crane's domination of the courts is in part due to their wealth and the gifts they can bestow, does that inhibit his ability to act (or rather, has he become used to having these tools at his disposal)? I think it's more that Kuwanan will (probably) listen to his advice, because that's clearly where Hotaru is going wrong. It's interesting that all the Clans are all chosing now to be the time to have their existential crises (Shoju/Kachiko, Toturi/Tsuko, Tsukune/elemental council, etc.).
  13. I don't think his social position matters - Kuwanan has already shown that his sister, the Crane Champion and leader of the clan, is not someone he will follow blindly. Hotaru wanted him to drop his investigation and yet he continued. I don't think Kuwanan came to his Uncle for the opinion of the Imperial Chancellor. Yoshi didn't leverage his social position (or rather, didn't overtly leverage his position. It's completely possible and likely that it could be in the back of Kuwanan's head) to get Kuwanan to believe him. Clearly Kuwanan trusts him, in a way that he doesn't trust his other sister, Shizue, who would also be around in the Imperial city wnd who would probably have a better understanding of Hotaru's handwriting. This paints a picture of a man who is well respected and trusted amongst the Crane, with years of service, and the story shows us how he is quick to turn events to his advantage (still claiming that favour when he did nothing, turning Kuwanan's doubts into certainties). As an aside, appeals to authority are all over the place in a modern, rational society - it's why someone might obey a police officer or workplace manager. A scientist stills plays on an appeal to authority when they publish their work as their readers are required to take what they say they did as fact - most people have neither the time nor the material to replicate their experiments.
  14. If I remember it right, historically they would substitute a fan for the blade and perform a purely ceremonial 'three cuts'. It's noted in the story that patricide/matricide is one of the greatest sins that a person can commit, it's so against the Celestial order. Kuwanan walked into that room worrying about the link between his sister and the Scorpion and left all but convinced that his sister was at the very least party to their father's murder. When Yoshi suggested that Hotaru could have been party to such an event, that should have been such a grave insult that Kuwanan should have at the very least challenged him. Yet Yoshi has enough social capital that Kuwanan... doesn't. He agrees. Furthermore, Yoshi drops the bombshell that the Emperor is dead, and uses that to 'link' the 'plots' together in Kuwanan's mind. He has controlled the information and led Kuwanan to an outcome that personally benefits Yoshi (a more pliable Champion who will accept his advice). It's subtle in that Kuwanan feels likes he has no choice but to go on this path, and that he has made this decision himself - he has to actually ask Yoshi if he has Yoshi's support. Was Kuwanan emotionally compromised? Almost certainly. Yet accusing his sister of murdering their father, or at least being party to such an event, should be all kinds of taboo - indeed it should be as unthinkable as killing the Emperor - and I doubt that he would have taken that step without Yoshi. (This also highlights just how badly Sotorii has effed up, which I kinda like, given that he has managed to do both.)
  15. It's interesting that we say that Kakita Yoshi has no success or skill, given that he controlled the entire conversation with Kuwanan and lead him to an outcome that Yoshi wanted him to think - that his sister has definitely betrayed the Crane - based entirely upon one slightly suspect letter and some vague suggestions. That's some skill right there.
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