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cielago

Integrating the Spider

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I feel like we're talking past each other here. If she could have stopped Onnotangu, she would have. Since she didn't, it means she couldn't, and therefore she wasn't his equal.

 

And if it were just a case of her wanting to avoid violence, she wouldn't have made Hantei fight. Instead, she thought when her huband was unfit for rule, their son should take over. In other words, a hereditary monarchy.

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I feel like we're talking past each other here. If she could have stopped Onnotangu, she would have. Since she didn't, it means she couldn't, and therefore she wasn't his equal.

 

And if it were just a case of her wanting to avoid violence, she wouldn't have made Hantei fight. Instead, she thought when her huband was unfit for rule, their son should take over. In other words, a hereditary monarchy.

Yes, we are talking past each other, I don't care what she did or didn't do, the system is a dual power system, and it remained that way with Hitomi and Yakamo and also with the Jade Sun and Obsidian Moon dragons. Amaterasu just didn't used the powers she had, but the system is dual power, a system the Kami did not even tried to dublicate. There is no hereditary monarchy in tengoku, that exists only in Ningendo. So, again, you can tel me all you want that Bushido is about reflecting tengoku, if I look at what is actually in the setting, I don't see the evidence to support your view there, thus I go with the conclusion that your assumption is wrong. Don't get me wrong, you can do whatever you want in your Rokugan when you play in pen & paper as RPG or when you write your own little fan fictions, or whathaveyou, but don't tell me the way you see it is how I have to see it too, since I simply cannot ignore the things of the settings that prove that wrong.

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All right, here's some more evidence, from Dawn of the Empire, Part 1:

"This tale begins with a man, and with his wife."

This implies that she was mainly important because of her relationship with her husband, like an Empress.

"Playing the part of the dutiful wife, Amaterasu delivered sake to her husband, one cup after each child."

If one of her duties was to serve him drinks, that hardly implies equality.

Also, I should note that the story never refers to them as equals, so I don't know where all this evidence I'm apparently ignoring is. I'm not trying to be snippy, if there's evidence I'm wrong I want to see it, so I can correct myself.

Oh, and regarding the later versions of the Sun and Moon, I agree that they seem fairly equal. But those came about long after the empire's monarchy was well established. The Kami founded the empire based on what they knew.

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It is perhaps important to realize the cultural role of women in the setting - particularly how it evolved. While the recent depiction of the game has a much more Westernized/Modern approach to it (since 3rd and 4th Edition of the RPG, we have this as an optional rule for those willing to draw more on the ancient Eastern culture - pg 37 of the Corebook), the older editions (who first had the Rokugani creation myth) were more similar to the classic Asian depiction of women being subservient to men. 

 

When you take that in consideration, along with the text/fiction quoted by Fumi, the creation mythos repeated in all 4 editions of the RPG, and the existing art (I think the most recent would be this piece, where you see Amaterasu sitting further back from Onnotangu, in a show of subservience), I think it's easy to conclude that the Sun and Moon were not equals.

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Thanks for mentioning the gender roles, that helps clarify my position.

You know, I never thought about it before, but when I look at that picture and see 10 superpowered, rambunctious 4-year-olds, suddenly Onnotangu's madness seems a lot more understandable. ;)

 

"Bayushi! Stop tha- AKODO! Do NOT pull Doji's hair! Yes, Shiba, yes, that's a very nice- HIDA, IF YOU DON'T PUT YOUR BROTHER DOWN GENTLY THIS INSTANT, SO HELP ME!"

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Thanks for mentioning the gender roles, that helps clarify my position.

So, and Hitomi then bows to the wishes of Yakamo when the became Lady Moon? And Lady Doji didn't basically gave culture to the humans? Akodo, the one who supposedly created Bushido, was not in love with this fierce and indepentent woman called Matsu? Sorry, but the gender roles thing immeateatly colaps when on looks closer at it. Amaterasu didn't behaved the way she did because of social expectations (what gender roles and gender performity mostly is), but because she wanted to be that way. You can see her power after the death of her husband. So, again your picture of how Tengoku is doesn't add up with all the things in the setting. And to be honest, I think a dual regency is a more divine power system than a monarchiec one, since it would come with checks and balances that monarchies lack, too bad that Amaterasu didn't used her power to keep her husband in check when he started to do the child eating stuff.

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I really dislike idea of Bushido being divine (as in, Tengokuish), because Bushido at it's essence, is all about your relationship with death and being prepared for it. Something pretty alien for immortals of Tengoku. By making it "yeah Akodo tried to replicate divinity of Tengoku so he made Bushido", we are diluting Akodo's character and development; it makes him much more interesting character if you look at Bushido as him starting to understand and ponder the inherently mortal concept of having to face death each day, and being prepared for her. 

If you really want to inject "Divine" into Bushido, I think the fairest way to do so is by saying that Akodo's unique perspective of god-turned-mortal allowed him to grasp it in a enlightened way. But making Bushido "just" a divine mirror of tengoku makes it incredibly cheap and doesn't do it justice, imho. And again, it really helps Akodo who started as "hotheaded idiot who was literally so bloodthirsty that he almost killed his own brother", then went "im going to bully people into submission", and then started actually bonding with his minions, to the point where he started caring for them and developed a warrior's code to help them achieve peace with perspective of death, and then refused to kill FuLeng, because "brothers should never kill each other, no matter their sins". 

Add the whole Kitsu thing and way he decided to die, and you have a pretty nice picture, I think. 

 

EDIT
Gender roles thing is another John-Wickizm that created a lot of dissonance between the card game, RPG and fictions, and was later pretty much purged - you had stuff like "woman never was and never ever will be a Scorpion Clan Damiyo/Champion", for example

 

EDIT2

 

Dual Power system would be perfect if authors bothered to include Shogun since the inception of the game. Make Sun-Blessed Emperor, and Moon-Blessed Shogun, let them have power struggles in addition to the Clan Struggles. 

Also, for Amaterasu being inferior to Onnotangu - wasn't she THE divine figure until her death? Worship of Amaterasu is very widely spread and mentioned thousand times, while worship of Onnotangu is somehow...small...and secondary, more of "let's pray to this dude once in a full moon so he won't throw another drunken tsundere fit and make us lose our voices and minds or smth".

Edited by WHW

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So, and Hitomi then bows to the wishes of Yakamo when the became Lady Moon?

 

Um, no? Gender roles had evolved OOC by that point, so there was no reason for one to be subservient. Also, they weren't married anyway.

 

And Lady Doji didn't basically gave culture to the humans?

 

I don't see what this has to do with anything.

 

Akodo, the one who supposedly created Bushido, was not in love with this fierce and indepentent woman called Matsu?

 

Akodo had different taste in women than his father. Onnotangu wanted someone submissive, Akodo wanted someone independent. I don't see how that conflicts.

 

Amaterasu didn't behaved the way she did because of social expectations (what gender roles and gender performity mostly is), but because she wanted to be that way.

 

The existence of wifely duties implies that there was some sort of gender role going on. But even if you're right, and she was subservient to Onnotangu by choice, then she was still subservient to Onnotangu.

 

You can see her power after the death of her husband.

 

I never said she was weak. She was still the Sun, after all.

 

((Quite a bit about Bushido))

 

I wasn't really touching on Bushido itself, because it's never been stated where it came from. My own theory is that it originally came from Amaterasu's teachings to Hantei about what life was like before Onnotangu flipped his gourd. Then Hantei relayed all of that to Akodo, who interpreted it in his own way. So it would be partially Amaterasu, partially Akodo. But that's just my own interpretation, yours is equally valid.

 

 

Gender roles thing is another John-Wickizm that created a lot of dissonance between the card game, RPG and fictions, and was later pretty much purged - you had stuff like "woman never was and never ever will be a Scorpion Clan Damiyo/Champion", for example

 

 

Yeah, most gender discrimination was left out of later editions, and for good reason. Still, the older stuff was never retconned, which kind of leaves us in a weird place regarding gender roles.

 

Dual Power system would be perfect if authors bothered to include Shogun since the inception of the game. Make Sun-Blessed Emperor, and Moon-Blessed Shogun, let them have power struggles in addition to the Clan Struggles.

 

 

Would make for an interesting alternate timeline.

 

 

Also, for Amaterasu being inferior to Onnotangu - wasn't she THE divine figure until her death? Worship of Amaterasu is very widely spread and mentioned thousand times, while worship of Onnotangu is somehow...small...and secondary, more of "let's pray to this dude once in a full moon so he won't throw another drunken tsundere fit and make us lose our voices and minds or smth".

 

Yeah, the empire clearly favored Amaterasu, for obvious reasons. Still, just because the mortals favored her doesn't mean she was top of the heap.

 

I'm trying to avoid making blanket statements about superiority and inferiority, because it's clear that Amaterasu was morally superior to Onnotangu, at the very least. Social superiority is a different story, though. Whether it was due to some sort of nascent gender roles or by her own choice, it's implied by both the fiction and the artwork that in their particular marriage dynamic she was viewed as the social inferior.

Edited by Fumi

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WHW, I think that the "divine origin" of bushido that Idanthyrsus referred to was exactly the fact that originated from a kami - Akodo was, after all, a divine being. And it was also endorsed by every single Emperor in history, who were also considered divine beings. In contrast, Shourido was originated from Man (I don't recall if it came from the lost or not. Help plz?). I think that it was also denounced as a false path, but its late and my memory is a bit fuzzy.

 

As for the role of women - it's really not a Wick-ism, but a nod to historical samurai society and culture of the 17th century. It's important to note that even so, female characters were always viable to play - the notion of the samurai-ko, equal to men in all aspects when she's in the service of her Lord, is present since day 1 of L5R.

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Real life note:   the funny thing is, there's more and more evidence being found of a larger role in real Japan for female warriors.

 

For example, a series of new analysis of graves and battlefield remains from across Japan is revealing that at certain times and places, as many as 30% of the warriors in the battles were women. 

 

A lot of the old analysis was evidently skewed by the 19th / most-of-20th-century assumption that if a grave contained weapons and/or armor, it must have been a man's grave, no further investigation needed. 

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Doesn't surprise me. It must've happened likely for the same reason it happened in L5R: the excessive warfare and death of male warriors led to a time where you simply did not have enough able-bodied males for your armies, so social norms had to be forcefully relaxed due to this state of affairs :) And once done, and their worth as fighters was proven, there was no sense in going back and losing valuable warriors :D

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Actually it's more likely that there were always women warriors.  The world over, sites have been "rediscovered" or "re-examined" or just plain "found" that imply women were warriors.  The problem is that most of the early information those of us who read primarily in English received about those various communities came from the 19th Century Brits who did the first sets of translations to so many of the classical pieces the world over.  They had the best of intentions in seeking to preserve and translate world masterpieces, but they were human and brought with them their bias about the roles of women and translated things accordingly.

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While I overall agree with you that the Spider has to face some changes, I do not agree on how you think it has to happen. Let me go through the four points you make and address each on of them:

 

1) Yes, the worship of Jigoku has to stop, the Spider has to realise that that realm is not giving them what they want in itself, but it actually eating away their souls, but with that said, I think they still could keep a healthy respect for Daigotsu. I mean in a wrathful god kind of way, which you do not really worship, but try to appease so it doesn't bring suffering to you.

 

2) Again I agree, the things that are basically are means of destroying the reality itself should be not be thrown around carefree. But I think the stigmata of having the people who are tainted is something that is part of the clan, So, instead of having the Spider as a clan that indulges the destruction of the world, I would rather love to see them as a clan that struggles with their own inner darkness, and thus always has to worry about going to Jigoku after death and for that reason is thinking about methods on how to avoid that fate. This tragic hero feeling is what has appeal to many people, and some of the greatest most epic stories are about redemption, so that theme should definitly stay with the Spider, since no other clan provides that.

 

3) There I disagree with you, if they break with everything then it wouldn't be the Spider any more, but a new and different clan. The Spider should just make the step from villains to anti-heroes. Sure, the Spider did many horrible things, but they are also the most welcoming clan of them all, even more welcoming then the Unicorn. They don't care about who you have been, they look at who you are now, what you are willing to do for the clan. The Spider definitly have things to be proud about!

 

4) Regarding the Bushido/shourido thing, I thin the biggest issue there is the perception of the players, not the characters in the setting. Since ideologies are nothing people have written on their foreheads. So, it becomes just how is Bushido and Shourido be seen. And I think it was stupid from Aldreac to call Shourido as an egostical way of life, when it clearly is not. Sure, Bushido is more altruistic and has welfare concerns in it, but that doesn't make Shourido egoistical. Shourido is as much a social contract as Bushido is, it just works under the assumption that a society is just as strong as the weakest link, and thus it a meritocraty that pushes everybody to always iprove oneself. Look at all the Shourido virtues! And that is just natural, since having to carry the wight of others would just have gotten them all killed when they lived back in the shadowlands where an oni simply could decide they look like a nice snack (and thus would have eaten them like popcorn). This ideological difference is actually something that could be used for great stories, to bad AEG never used that potential there, even with all their talk about themes in decks, they seemed to not get how to put themes into stories.

 

 

 

2) Having Tainted people is part of the Clan at the moment- but if we agree that the Spider shouldn't be seeing conscious acceptance of the Taint as a good thing, or even acceptable, those people will die out eventually. I also strongly disagree with your assertion that no other Clan can provide the 'tragic anti-hero' archetype (the Scorpion had a lock on that until the Spider showed up, and would happily resume their role), or redemption stories (look at Ginawa, or Yakamo, or any of a large number of other famous samurai). Nobody else might have redemption as a core aspect of the Clan, but everyone else can still do it- and at the moment, the Spider aren't even providing redemption, since they remain determinedly evil, so for that to be a thing - which it could be, and it could be fun - they would need to undergo some fairly major changes.

 

3) I agree that it would be a fundamentally different Clan. That's basically the point- the Spider, qua Spider, are not workable (also, becoming full anti-heroes only exacerbates their existing problem of being Scorpion-lite (or the Scorpion being Spider-lite). You do, however, seem to have the core of a potentially interesting place for the Spider to go- becoming the Clan that accepts everyone, regardless of background, as long as they have a clearly-demonstrated interest in improving themselves (and with the Spider presumably keeping a watchful eye over them). Ronin, worthy peasants, monks who can't join the Togashi for whatever reason - all sorts of people who have earned a right to elevation in the social order, but can't join any other Clan - the Spider (to whom I would give a new name) could take them in, and give them a productive outlet for their energies, while allowing everyone else to keep tabs on these potentially disruptive elements. It could work. However, the basis of such a faction would be not pride in their beginnings, but a willingness to cut themselves off from it entirely. The Spider could be proud of who they are, in other words... but still not of who they were.

 

 

Keep in mind this: http://www.l5r.com/2015/04/17/great-clan-greatest-clan/

 

That lists three possible routes for the Spider in the long term (AEG ones, mind you). If you notice, the second point is about a portion that doesn't want to use the whole Tainted/Shadowlands thing. Clearly, that point was aimed at the monks, if we go by some of the flavor text on previews, but could also contain the more courtly aspects of the clan. That alone makes for an interesting clan without the Shadowlands section: a completely different type of monk from the Phoenix or Dragon and supported by even better court support from the Susumu.

 

There are even other opportunities with that vague third route. Who knows what FFG will actually do with the clan choices?

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At least I can agree fully with you on that it fun to talk about the things while we wait. Honestly, I start to think FFG should throw the story completely out and make a timeline neutral game, and people can project then whatever they want unto the cards... but until then, let's continue our conversation:

1) seems like we can agree there.

 

2) Sure, other clans have occationally tragoc heros, but for the Spider that is the default, it part of the clan identity. Every clan is a package that comes with a core identity, like the crab being the pragmatic defenders of the empire, sure not every single Crab is that way, but it is the core concept that we tell others about when we try to explain what  clan is about. And I think the Spider are at its core, about the outcast of society that cannot play by the rules of society but still would enrich it to have them around, that is inherently tradigcal, like the heroes of greek saga, who all had their hybris that brought doom, and it is an interesting aspect for samurai drama, which often enough has the heroes to be turn against certain social values to uphold society as a whole. So, I see plenty of great story potential with the Spider as they are. And so I think having them around with this mentality to question the the ways of the empire is healthy for the empire too, so we have the Spider who want to change the empire, but will fail to make the empire as they want it to be, while at the same time the empire can grow because of the attampts of the Spider. So, the friction between them and the other clans should stay.

 

3) The thing would be on what do the Spider focus there pride on. Or to make a real world example, do you think the USA should rename themselves and be shamed for their past? I mean plenty of US citizens are rather proud about their nation, and still it has many things in the past that are nothing to be proud of. And I think the same would go for the Spider, sure they should be shamed for their eagerness to throw their souls away, but they can be proud about having survived against all odds. So, of course they would be proud that they found together and could build a clan in the shadowlands, thus in an absolute hostile environment. So, I want them to keep a certain core of their identity, but I agree that their energy should find a different focus, so that they no longer try to bring the empire down, but instead direct their aggression against things that threaten them and the empire.

 

4) I disagree with you that bushido is divine. At the beginning of the game it felt like Bushido is mostly a product of shinsei's teachings, but that seems to have changed to become later more a product of Akodo's teachings. So, let's look at both possible origins: Shinsei was just a human and his teachings have been mostly about enlightenment, but were not inherently divine. Akodo lost like his siblings the divine nature when tehy fell to ningendo, he made mistakes just like any human would do (do I have you to remind of the story with the Kitsu?). So, even if the Bushido is based on Akodo, it is still not divine, since it dealt with the realities of ningendo, and thus was just the social contract for this realm, not one for tengoku or other realms and it was just for humans, since animals and spirits are not bound by it. And the same goes for Shourido, it is a social contract that makes only sense in ningendo and for humans. So, both pretty much the same, ideologies which people can follow to build a society on it. Don't get me wrong, that doesn't mean that some characters in the setting can believe that one is divine and one is hellish, but from an neutral persepctive outside the game, they are both just social contracts (which can even work both at the same time, I mean they are not even opposites, it is possible to unite them, just like one can be a christian and a capitalist, they are not mutual exclusive).

 

Don't worry, you try at least to understand from where I am coming from, so I enjoy our discussion, since it is open. And we are on a few things quite similar in opinion, it is mostly just details where we diverge.

 

 

The issue with a timeline-neutral game would be that there would be no story associated with the cards, which I think would be very sad- having the progression of xp versions, seeing homages to past cards in present cards, and so on, is fun, regardless of how much influence we actually have over said story. But that's neither here nor there, and definitely better discussed in a different thread. To continue:

 

1) Hooray!

 

2) Right now, the identity of the Spider is not 'tragic heroes'. If one were explaining the game to a new player, one would describe the Spider as "those evil guys who want to rule the Empire and unashamedly worship Hell, but are tolerated because the Empress told them to". I have no objection, as I said, to a Clan dedicated to repentance and/or second chances, and I agree that there could be some interesting interactions between them and the other Clans... but it sure as hell isn't the Spider in their current form. I think the core point of difference in our views is your statement, that "they cannot play by the rules of society" - why not? Moreover, if they can't, why are they tolerated? You say it's good for the setting to have a faction that questions its default values... but the Mantis and Unicorn, and to some extent the Dragon, do that already. Having a Clan of outcasts looking in, causing constant friction and trouble, is fine- but, a) we already have Clans that provide cultural conflict perfectly well; b) the Spider do not merely uphold a different set of values- they worship Hell itself and its lord (though you accept that has to change); c) they're already too integrated into Rokugani society to really be 'outcasts' any more- even if half the Clans despise them, they still get to attend every social event that matters.

 

3) I am always wary of real-world examples, or allegories by other settings, because they're usually more distracting in the details than they are useful. But I agree that they could be proud of having overcome great difficulty and remaking themselves, if they did in fact succeed in doing that. Even then, however, it would require a total whitewash of most of their history (the flaying of Nintai is not something to be proud of), and it should absolutely be a forwards-looking pride, not a backwards-looking one.

 

4) I agree that Akodo made mistakes- one of his virtues was his willingness to accept when he did, or was about to (Kitsu, duel with Hantei, etc.). Shiba's example also demonstrates the willingness of the Kami themselves to recognise the wisdom of ningen. I also agree that both Bushido and Shourido are (intended to be) social contracts to guide the behaviour of ningen. I don't mean that Bushido literally descended fully-formed from Tengoku, as the binding word of God. To go one step further, Akodo's response to Shinsei - "This is my way" - implicitly recognises that other ways might be valid for others, just not for him (and his followers). HOWEVER, Akodo was still born a Kami, and can justifiably be considered - in the absence of any contrary evidence - infinitely wiser, and more worthy of respect and emulation, than any ningen. Not flawless, no, but certainly possessing far fewer flaws than, say, Daigotsu. To consider Daigotsu's code of comparable weight or worth to Akodo's code is therefore deeply insulting to Akodo, and approaches blasphemy. Not that people within the setting can't privately prefer Shourido, or try to find some way to integrate it - and the Spider could certainly make a point of promoting it - but equivalence with Bushido is a no-no.

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Shintao, in my view, falls under the 'in the absence of contrary evidence' condition- the fact that Shiba saw fit to write everything down, and Hantei himself to mandate it, indicates that even the Kami (with the exception of Akodo- though, again, his response can be read as indicating lack of compatibility, rather than lack of respect) thought he was on to a good thing. Additionally, Shintao is a path to wisdom, rather than a system of ethical values, and it therefore does not compete directly with Bushido in the way that Shourido does.

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Also, the only clans that really saw value in it were the Pheonix (because they were a human first people) and the Dragon (because it talked thier boss down a tree, so to speak). Everyone either pays it lip service or twists it towards thier own ends if they do not outright ignore it.

Edited by Sashmiel

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