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robothedino

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  1. Sorry if that came off a little sharp- but no, I didn't ask any questions about enlightenment. If that was unclear, fair enough, although I think I was pretty explicit about it. All of those questions are questions that actual people who believe in the concept of enlightenment have had about it, and that I think that might be questions that at least some Rokugani might have, and therefore act as starting points for stories. The fact that you added some textual references is not an issue, I'm just pointing out that you have (inadvertently, I realize) wildly misconstrued my meaning and put words in my mouth. The question of what the objective, kami's-eye-view of canon reality states is a perfectly fine topic, and I don't even mind that it's showing up in a thread about something else. But if I walked into a conversation about the literary merits of Shakespeare's "Macbeth" and started talking about how there's no historical evidence for any Danish prince by that name, I might like a heads up that I was not having the same conversation as they were.
  2. Me: "What is the meaning of life?" You: "Webster's dictionary defines 'life' as 'The state of organisms preceding their death, characterized by biological processes such as metabolism and reproduction and distinguishing them from inanimate objects; the state of being alive and living.'
  3. Glad you found these stimulating, verbage aside. My usual policy when working with historical (or historically-based) settings is to maintain the vocabulary of the times; to do otherwise, to me, risks whitewashing the real horrors of these times and places. (There's a much bigger conversation one could have about the ethics of the samurai genre as a whole, inasmuch as it romanticizes a fascistic caste-based kleptocracy, but that's for another time and place). All that said, since this is indeed an out-of-character document, your point is taken, and the offending vocabulary has been amended. Cheers!
  4. Oh, I almost overlooked this- do you have a setting document written up there you'd be willing to share?
  5. I think, at the end of the day, the upshot of this conversation is that y'all are content with the setting as it stands, either because it makes good sense to you, or because you don't mind the ways that it doesn't. I never really wanted this to be a sparring match or debate, but it seems to have turned out that way. So I'll quit flogging this horse, who is getting a bit ripe by now, and just say thanks for the input- if nothing else I learned a bit more about what to expect in terms of base expectations of the L5R player base, and that's actually valuable for when/if I ever try to launch a PbP. Cheers!
  6. Right, makes perfect sense- except I can't begin to imagine (literally) what she could possibly be making policy on. She has no resources to distribute of her own, or at least very little, and has nothing of value to offer to anyone outside the clan. Perhaps she's responsible for the management of all that rice that comes in via Yasuki trade and Kaiu weapons, and is essentially a glorified quartermaster. Or has military authority and is making tactical decisions (always subject to approval from Hida leadership) about how to deploy troops. Both of these things in another clan would be handled by hatamoto of the Champion, but sure, we can call her a daimyo if it makes her feel better. But without any personal power- not symbolic power, but real power that comes from controlling something other people want- her daimyoship is a figurehead position. Under those conditions, I'd expect three basic sorts of Hiruma daimyos to reoccur over history: 1 - Unambitious ones who are basically content to let the Hida run the show, and show up for ceremonial occasions when needed, and spend the rest of their time enjoying the, um, delights of Kyuden Hida 2 - Ambitious ones who try to bring some wealth to the family itself the only way they can- through raiding. A small portion of this is going to come from stuff rescued from the Shadowlands, but the vast majority is going to be whatever they can rip off from the Crane. When they think they can get away with it, they might even raid Crab lands that are far from the Wall and not already directly invested in supporting the Wall. 3- Overambitious ones who try to be the Chosen One and retake Daylight Castle, and we know how that works out. Things get more interesting (to me) if the Hiruma are supported not by the Hida (through direct fiat payments which amount to a stipend), but by a tax placed on all the other Clans by Imperial decree, paid directly to the Hiruma, rather than to the Crab as a whole- reparations, if you will for the loss of their lands. Then the Hiruma daimyo can actually play politics with the other family daimyo because she has something to put in the pot. She can tell the Hida leadership, "I don't want to send my soldiers on expedition X because I think it's a bad idea. If you order me to send them, I have to. But don't think I'm going to fund this nonsense myself- you're picking up the bill on this one." I hope that small example makes it clearer why I bother with all this- because the particulars of who holds power, and how, is the material I make stories out of.
  7. That's all fine, but not what I was asking. You missed or misunderstood the framing of that whole post: This is only true if you, again, don't accept the premises given above, which state that lands change hands all the time, and there's nothing stopping the Hida from reclaiming those lands in their own name. While I appreciate your efforts, you are still arguing that what I am looking for doesn't match the canonical sources, which I've happily acknowledged already. I'm not trying to support my vision with the canon- I'm looking for the shortest route between canon and the things I want to include in my game, such that the Rokugan I'm left with is sufficiently similar to the canon Rokugan that I can explain it to a new player in minutes instead of days. Without taking up the whole "canon Rokugan is not Sengoku Japan" thing all over again, the article linked below captures a lot of the feel I want: https://newvoices.org.au/volume-2/understanding-samurai-disloyalty/ An exemplary quote: "‘the frequency with which warrior codes stress the virtue of loyalty is due precisely to the fact that it did not obtain in the violent “world without center”
  8. Thanks @DGLaderoute for the long and thoughtful reply. I am indeed happy to bend a good deal, right up until the point where my NPCs stop feeling to me like relatable people and become face tentacles of some kind of abstract ideal- your insights are appreciated. We've already covered this point of difference in our perspectives- I would still say that in feudal Japan there was also an objectively real divinity that everyone knew about and accepted, and didn't stop people from pulling all kinds of shenanigans through rationalizing their actions around it. But I don't think it's really a make-or-break point of contention, so I think we can agree to disagree there. That's all fine- I tend to read these clan specialties as more or less stereotypes or "exemplary cases"- just like the Irish are well known for being drunks and poets doesn't mean that every or even most Irishmen are drunks or poets, just that they've shown a cultural knack for producing superlative drunks and poets. Right, this isn't really where my issue lies- I'm totally comfortable with the idea that the Hiruma are a sort of "government in exile" By "productive" all I mean is "capable of generating income that can be used to pay the stipends of samurai retainers"- if that income does not come in the form of food then there are political implications to that, but it's not problematic in itself. You're not wrong about this being a stretch of the imagination, but for me it's unproblematic because it has virtually no impact on actual gameplay. I can easily say, "Oh, actually in my Rokugan the horse collar was invented 200 years ago and increased crop yields by 20%" and there's no need to adjust any of the contemporary setting. My concerns are solely about being able to run the stories I want to with a minimal overhaul of the setting, not to rationalize the whole thing down to the last almanac entry. I've always done what I think a lot of people who prefer a grittier feel have done, which is treat the printed material not as an objective out-of-game description of reality, but simply a presentation of the "official" history- ie, propaganda. So the 1000 years of peace are actually 1000 years of less-than-devastating-warfare, the "unbroken descent of divine rule through the Hantei line" includes some breaks in the paternal line and some second cousins taking the throne, and yes, some branches of various families breaking with the main line and defecting to another. This makes a lot more room for the kind of thing I want to do, without needing to radically rewrite anything, as it's all been swept under the rug one way or another. So if you will, as a thought experiment, accept these premises: - Bushido and honor are powerful motivators, but so are wealth, comfort, security, and prestige, and individual samurai are going to respond to both of these competing motivations differently. - There's no system in place to prevent samurai from packing up shop, no "military police" to hunt down defectors, etc. Samurai can swear fealty to any lord that's willing to take them on as retainers. They will typically do so as a family unit- not necessarily a Family in the sense of a whole lineage, but as a group of people who can also state their exact blood relation to one another pretty easily. So there are power players on the micro scale who can say "hey kids, pack your bags, we're going out west for a better life". - Competition between lords at every level of the power structure is vigorous, constant, and regularly if not often violent. Clans feud with Clans, Families with Families, and most of all, family branches with other family branches. For every diplomatic scuffle in the Imperial court, there's a thousand within the clan power structures. - Daimyo maintain power by keeping retainers. Divine right or no, a daimyo is subject to the laws of power, and if they are unable to offer their retainers good incentives, they will lose those retainers. That might happen on a generational time scale, or much faster, but sooner or later they find that they are weak and unable to protect their lands, and will be conquered by a neighbor. This has actually happened many times already- the daimyo of any given family may or may not be the direct descendant of the family founder, but is simply the one who has managed to take/keep control of the family seat. With those premises as givens, what else would you need to adjust to imagine a family like the Hiruma, who lack any direct control of income-producing holdings of their own, still be able to remain autonomous rather than simply becoming an appendage of the Hida- that means some form of power or authority that their counterparts in other families do not possess. Hope that maybe clarifies what I'm interested in a bit further.
  9. The Roman legions are a bad comparison because they, despite being further back in time, are much closer to a modern political structure than the entities that came after them. They had the concepts of citizenship, rule of law, and their soldiers were drawn from the general population and advanced through merit, more or less. In all these respects, they are a lot closer to modern Western nations than feudal warrior aristocracies, and that's exactly why they had to worry about things like desertion- because their soldiery wasn't primarily fighting for personal spoils (although of course there was some of that mixed in, on an ad hoc basis). You and I just have different ideas about what is fun, interesting, and plausible- there's nothing wrong with either of our viewpoints but I don't see any good chance of either of us getting much mileage out of the other's take on anything. Thanks for taking the time though. Anyone who doesn't get what I'm interested in still, this is it. Thanks very kindly- I'll circle back later to read it closely and respond, but that's precisely the sort of "bottom up" approach I'm trying to dig up. I particularly like the bit about "the new wife who is secretly a demoness"- this is something that fits my criteria of "plausible in terms of basic human motivations". Let me get back to you on that with a proper reply later!
  10. Thanks so much for the assistance there- truly a labor of love you have here, and it shows. If you ever run a PbP game, I want to be in it!
  11. I'd love to see a source on that if you have one- I've seen lots to the contrary, but of course, "the Middle Ages" is a broad swath of time and space that's not going to be uniform, so I'm sure this was true in at least some cases. Bear in mind here we're not talking about "running away from battle to hide in a corner", we're talking about signing up with a different team. My goalposts, I think, have not changed, but are still being misread. I'm not trying to convince anyone that the printed material is "wrong", I'm trying to elicit help in adapting it to my own needs as a GM. It seems to me that this isn't an endeavor in which there's great interest, which is fine- no one is obligated to do my thinking for me. It's just a friendly request to which "You're out of luck here, try a different game" is a perfectly acceptable answer.
  12. You are, of course, welcome to your interpretation of the setting. I personally think you are mistaking the ideal of the samurai for the reality. That said, the point about family ties is a good one- it is at least one real reason to stick with an otherwise insufferable situation, up to a point. Putting aside all these debates about the finer points of "realism" or what have you, is there printed material on the nitty-gritty of Hiruma lifestyles? Answers to basic questions, like: Where do these guys even live? I don't mean active-duty scouts/soldiers, but the families that are making little Hiruma babies to throw over the wall in a few years? They can't all be in barracks on the Wall. What about the Hiruma daimyo himself? Where does he hold court, and what are his daily duties, given that he's not administering any lands, and probably isn't entertaining too many guests? If they're not concentrated into any geographical area, how do the Hiruma maintain their family identity? What stops them from just sort of bleeding into the families that are housing and feeding them? (I know they have their own history and legacy, yadda yadda, but these things have to be transmitted in some kind of organized fashion, or they'll tend to decay) I want to be able to get a sense of what the full "life cycle" is for a typical Hiruma, basically. Can someone point me to the right sourcebook for the job?
  13. That's definitely not how it worked in feudal Japan, but I don't think it's how it works in Rokugan, either. The concept of "desertion" being a crime is something that comes from modern armies, where you have a well-organized military police force and a contractual/legal obligation to service. Rokugan has neither. Samurai are, at the end of the day, "at will" day laborers, and they fight for whoever pays the bills. Granted there are powerful cultural mores that incentivize them to stay "in house", but nothing to actually force them to do so. Otherwise, musha shugyo would not be a thing- what lord wants to lose a warrior so they can go on some personal quest of self-discovery that benefits them not at all? And even if this were the case, it's subject to the dynamics of critical mass I was talking about before. If one Hiruma deserts, sure, you could hunt him down and execute him. If a whole unit of Hiruma desert, you can send another whole unit after them, which means the effective loss of 2 units of Hiruma. Meanwhile the other Hiruma who haven't yet deserted are seeing that their lord is looking desperate, and there's fewer loyalists around to police them, and desertion is looking like a better and better option...
  14. I'm pleased with all the discussion my questions have kicked off- I enjoy being the ignorant five year old who points and says "What's that?" and get all the grown ups arguing. There's a lot going on here that I don't have time to respond to just yet, but if I can I'd like to reorient the discussion slightly. Most or all of these perspectives are coming from a "top down" approach- they're about powerful people telling less powerful people what to do. This is valid and real. At the same time, there is a bottom-up approach that is missing, and that is closer to what I was initially interested in when I started this thread. All those powerful shot-callers are powerful exactly because the people underneath them choose to follow them. If one or two of their subservients get out of line, the daimyos and champions and emperors can tell their other subordinates to stab them, and that's that. But if anything close to 50% (probably much less) of the rank and file is unhappy with the leadership, then their power evaporates. It's all built on their ability to get the masses to agree that, all things considered, things are better working for this guy than that guy. Consider this: We have a young Hiruma, not particularly dishonorable but not the kind of bushido fanatic that Lord of the Seal has been talking about. He wants to be a good samurai, but he'd also like the same things every human being wants: for their children to grow up with full bellies and a bright future, a chance to indulge his personal pursuits, and not to die screaming in the belly of a hellbeast. Nothing at all stops him from packing up his daisho and going to the next lord over and swearing service to him. He has a gazillion ways to rationalize this choice without too much cognitive dissonance- people are really good at this. Let's say he does- what next? The Hiruma family is now one samurai weaker than it was before, but more importantly, all of that Hiruma's brothers and cousins and so forth are getting letters from Kyuden Bayushi or whatever hearing about how nice the weather is and oh, nothing has tried to eat his face even once, and there's not just food but girls, girls, girls. So, again, most of them have no reason not to pack up and follow suit. At this point, a feedback loop starts. The more samurai defect, the weaker the Hiruma are, and therefore the more enticing it is to jump ship, because it just got that much more dangerous to be a Hiruma. If the stipends for the remaining samurai increase proportionally, then there may be an equilibrium point- it depends on the calculus of numbers-to-survivability-to-income, which we don't really know. For the Hiruma specifically this is about as far as it goes, because not having any land to speak of worth stealing, they aren't really under threat from other clans. But now think of that Kaiu samurai, whose stipend is cut in half relative to what it would be otherwise because a huge chunk of his lord's income is going to subsidize a bunch of freeloaders on the Wall. When he leaves and signs on with the Daidoji or what have you, not only has his lord gotten weaker, but that lord's enemies have gotten stronger. The feedback mechanism has even more momentum behind it now. The Crab, of course, are a special case because they are doing a job that no one else wants to do- even those that hate them really don't want to see them fail, because they'd have to start taking care of their own garbage for a change. There are many different systems that could be employed to maintain what could be considered an "ideal" status quo. Each of those systems has certain operating parameters that can bend so far before it breaks. The solution I've seen referenced, although I'm not sure where it's actually printed, is that the Crab are subsidized by the Empire as a whole as a matter of imperial law. Whatever the case may be- and this is the part I care about- the details are raw materials for stories. If it is the case that there's a set tax applied to all the other clans by the Emperor that's used to subsidize the Crab, that has story implications. It means, for example, that the Crab have a vastly greater stake in the stability of a highly centralized rule that any other clan, Lion included. It spawns great storylines for Yasuki characters who strive for Emerald magistracies just so they can hunt down tax cheats or deadbeats and throw them to the goblins. It means that being a Hiruma is actually a really sweet deal provided that you can find a way to skip out on your service, and that makes for great stories about investigating corrupt patrol units who just turn around 5 minutes into their expeditions and head to the nearest red light district. It means, plausibly, that the Lion clan might start sending larger and more frequent tours of duty to the Wall, in exchange for a tax break, which means opportunities for both alliances and enmities with the Crab. Etc, etc, etc. Whatever the specifics are, they set up scenarios that GMs and players can exploit for fun and profit, and that, at the end of the day, is what I'm interested in.
  15. I fully expect to hang my head in shame when I get the answer to this- I consider myself a reasonably intelligent person and a decent problem solver, but so far I'm stumped. How do I create custom advantages and disadvantages in Paper Blossoms? I've tried messing with importing and exporting data tables and haven't gotten anywhere. Is there a how-to or example anywhere out there I can look at, or if not, can one of you clever folks advise me? Love the app, looking forward to getting more use out of it!
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