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PsiNorm

My Thoughts on Shadowlands in L5R Card Game

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I really disliked all of the nonhuman factions and races, but I kinda dislike "fantasy as in people with swords, people including elves, goblins, and talking pigs", and Ratlings and Naga turned me off extremely hard as something more than token yokai. 

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I really disliked all of the nonhuman factions and races, but I kinda dislike "fantasy as in people with swords, people including elves, goblins, and talking pigs", and Ratlings and Naga turned me off extremely hard as something more than token yokai. 

 

I'm turned off in general by the fact there aren't any yokai. Everything that Went Boo In The Night was tied to Jigoku and thus some kinda evil Taint boogum that was then all swept up into the all-consuming malicious nature of Jigoku. They tried to recitfy this later by adding Sakkaku as a realm of "tricksters", but then they sort of forgot about those guys. And in any case, there wasn't any room for just plain ol' weird s$%&.

 

The rules of the world as presented in L5R either didn't allow for the existence of a karakasa-obake, or said that there could be karakasa-obake but they were a horrible spiritual threat to everyone. I consider that a huge failure. 

 

A mysterious nonhuman civilization, I consider something entirely different. The whole thing about yokai is how varied and weird they are.

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I really disliked all of the nonhuman factions and races, but I kinda dislike "fantasy as in people with swords, people including elves, goblins, and talking pigs", and Ratlings and Naga turned me off extremely hard as something more than token yokai. 

 

I'm turned off in general by the fact there aren't any yokai. Everything that Went Boo In The Night was tied to Jigoku and thus some kinda evil Taint boogum that was then all swept up into the all-consuming malicious nature of Jigoku. They tried to recitfy this later by adding Sakkaku as a realm of "tricksters", but then they sort of forgot about those guys. And in any case, there wasn't any room for just plain ol' weird s$%&.

 

The rules of the world as presented in L5R either didn't allow for the existence of a karakasa-obake, or said that there could be karakasa-obake but they were a horrible spiritual threat to everyone. I consider that a huge failure. 

 

A mysterious nonhuman civilization, I consider something entirely different. The whole thing about yokai is how varied and weird they are.

 

 

You know, that's a good point -- way too much got shoved into the "order/chaos" or "heaven/hell" dichotomy. 

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It's crazy, right? And Gaki-Do and Toshigoku were really just Jigoku without the radiation (so, basically what Jigoku ought to have been). And they, as well as sakkaku and every other non-Heaven, non-Hell Spirit Realm had to be added by retcon, because Jigoku used to be everything.

 

This is, I think, a major reason why shugenja never felt like priests, because they are adapted from a real-world religion (Shinto), but their actual faith is nothing like Shinto; they're stuck in an incredibly Christian-influenced Western European model where there is the rational world of humans, and Heaven, and Hell, and Hell's spitting out boogums all day. I brought up the karakasa-obake -- that's not a specific umbrella monster made by dark umbrellalchemy. Japanese folklore says that if you leave any object just laying around for a hundred years, the spirit in it awakens and it starts hopping around and messing with people. This is because spirits are in everything. Shinto's a religion of Eight Million Gods. You can't separate out the spiritual experience in Shinto from the normal world -- that's exactly what L5R did, and it didn't give the shugenja anything to do to replace it with, so they don't seem like priests at all. 

 

And people act like Jigoku the all-consuming corruptive force, the Realm of Evil, is central to it being Asian fantasy. Bah.

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Yeah, I've un-Tainted a number of creatures in my campaign. Because you can't really have a wuxia version of Rokugan without there being lots of spiritual weirdnesses that aren't default Evil with a Capital E.

 

(And bang-on about this being part of the issue with shugenja not feeling priestly.)

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I always felt the Naga had that callback that ancient Japan/China had to the Indian subcontinent - Lao Tzu left for India, right, and the Buddha came from there, so there was always this connection to this other culture to the west. 

 

The Ratlings I always saw as representative of the non-ethnic Japanese natives of Japan - the Ainu and so on. 

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I always felt the Naga had that callback that ancient Japan/China had to the Indian subcontinent - Lao Tzu left for India, right, and the Buddha came from there, so there was always this connection to this other culture to the west. 

 

The Ratlings I always saw as representative of the non-ethnic Japanese natives of Japan - the Ainu and so on. 

 

That view of the Ratlings is... kind of offensive, but more importantly than that, the things that makes it offensive also make it not work for the setting. Ratlings really were animalisitc and really couldn't participate in Rokugan's culture, and their own culture was by almost any measure inferior, since it was made by a species when almost all of them had anteriograde amnesia and I think even the most progressive person will agree, inability to remember things is a major impediment to making a culture. So you still end up with a bunch of guys who can't participate in almost any of the kinds of stories L5R wants and needs to tell, because they're just incapable of it.

 

Naga could participate in Rokugan's culture if and when they wanted, but they also had their own that Rokugan couldn't really understand, based as it was on the Akashic link. This, I think, qualifies them to play at the table with the big boys. Like, you know how some of us feel or felt about the gaijin nations in L5R's setting, where we would only catch glimpses of it when it was relevant to something else, and we were all like "Nooo! Come back! We wanna know what's going on!"? I feel like, that is the kind of reaction the Naga should provoke for Rokugan. A mysterious culture existing right there that they only learn about in bits and pieces when relevant to something else (ie, something the Naga want to do) but is otherwise impenetrable.

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That view of the Ratlings is... kind of offensive, but more importantly than that, the things that makes it offensive also make it not work for the setting. Ratlings really were animalisitc and really couldn't participate in Rokugan's culture, and their own culture was by almost any measure inferior, since it was made by a species when almost all of them had anteriograde amnesia and I think even the most progressive person will agree, inability to remember things is a major impediment to making a culture. So you still end up with a bunch of guys who can't participate in almost any of the kinds of stories L5R wants and needs to tell, because they're just incapable of it.

 

Really? Why? Why that any more than having a non-human race have trappings of any other culture? The Ratlings I seem to remember from the story were scrappy and heroic. Their memory issues were more a matter of them having to care about day-to-day survival more than other races.

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Naga and Ratlings were fine in their respective places as fringe factions but I always felt like they worked better than neutral entities that helped to flesh out the world. I could see a stronghold for one or the either if the story really required it. Even then as only being around in that capacity for a story cycle (6 packs and maybe a rare card every now and again).

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That view of the Ratlings is... kind of offensive, but more importantly than that, the things that makes it offensive also make it not work for the setting. Ratlings really were animalisitc and really couldn't participate in Rokugan's culture, and their own culture was by almost any measure inferior, since it was made by a species when almost all of them had anteriograde amnesia and I think even the most progressive person will agree, inability to remember things is a major impediment to making a culture. So you still end up with a bunch of guys who can't participate in almost any of the kinds of stories L5R wants and needs to tell, because they're just incapable of it.

 

Really? Why? Why that any more than having a non-human race have trappings of any other culture? The Ratlings I seem to remember from the story were scrappy and heroic. Their memory issues were more a matter of them having to care about day-to-day survival more than other races.

 

 

Their memory issues are, at least per the 4th Ed RPG books, an ingrained physical issue with the species, exacerbated by cultural issues. 

 

I'm only speculating here, but I think it may have been more that it was offensive in terms of equating the Ainu to the Rattlings, rather than the other way around. 

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That view of the Ratlings is... kind of offensive, but more importantly than that, the things that makes it offensive also make it not work for the setting. Ratlings really were animalisitc and really couldn't participate in Rokugan's culture, and their own culture was by almost any measure inferior, since it was made by a species when almost all of them had anteriograde amnesia and I think even the most progressive person will agree, inability to remember things is a major impediment to making a culture. So you still end up with a bunch of guys who can't participate in almost any of the kinds of stories L5R wants and needs to tell, because they're just incapable of it.

 

Really? Why? Why that any more than having a non-human race have trappings of any other culture? The Ratlings I seem to remember from the story were scrappy and heroic. Their memory issues were more a matter of them having to care about day-to-day survival more than other races.

 

 

A species that does what is necessary to survive, and who cannot remember who did what, don't really have a place in stories where honor and social standing are really important, because they don't really engage with either of those things.

 

The "offensive" bit is, yeah, the racist idea that people like the Ainu were inferior and thus could not participate in or understand the superior Japanese culture. The Ratlings actually can't participate in or understand Rokugani culture, so saying they are meant to represent the Ainu is a planet-sized unfortunate implication, and they aren't really pulling off anything good enough to justify it.

Edited by Huitzil37

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Eh, back when I played the Ratling memory issues were not given as much focus as all that, and I'd honestly question decisions that led to that inclusion. 

 

I mean, let's not sugarcoat things and pretend that the Japanese, in general, didn't/don't think the Ainu are inferior, but from an objective viewpoint there isn't anything more inherently offensive about having the Nezumi represent them than having snake people represent people from the Indian subcontinent (before all this Ivory Kingdoms business).

 

The stories that I remember had the Ratlings having a different, and very strange, by Rokugani standards, culture, but not one inherently less valid and certainly one better suited towards being the survivors par excellance that they were. Their lack of honor and courtly graces could be seen as a lack of refinement, certainly, but also as a more realistic, pragmatic way of being (And it was no wonder they got along with the Crab the best out of the Great Clans.) I think the original intent with the way Tomorrow/Yesterday were explained before the 4e roleplaying game was to portray them as a *culture* with a different idea of what time (past, present, future) and dream were, but someone **** the bed on converting it forward and made it biological. 

Edited by Terraneaux

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Eh, back when I played the Ratling memory issues were not given as much focus as all that, and I'd honestly question decisions that led to that inclusion. 

 

I mean, let's not sugarcoat things and pretend that the Japanese, in general, didn't/don't think the Ainu are inferior, but from an objective viewpoint there isn't anything more inherently offensive about having the Nezumi represent them than having snake people represent people from the Indian subcontinent (before all this Ivory Kingdoms business).

 

The stories that I remember had the Ratlings having a different, and very strange, by Rokugani standards, culture, but not one inherently less valid and certainly one better suited towards being the survivors par excellance that they were. Their lack of honor and courtly graces could be seen as a lack of refinement, certainly, but also as a more realistic, pragmatic way of being (And it was no wonder they got along with the Crab the best out of the Great Clans.) I think the original intent with the way Tomorrow/Yesterday were explained before the 4e roleplaying game was to portray them as a *culture* with a different idea of what time (past, present, future) and dream were, but someone **** the bed on converting it forward and made it biological. 

 

 

On the Nezumi, I won't disagree much when it comes to "no, no, this is biological" being a bit... over-the-top. 

 

I suspect that that problem has something to do with the Nezumi, Naga, etc getting caught up in AEG's constant back-and-forth, yes-and-no nonsense when it came to non-human species that weren't inherently "the unknowable alien enemy". 

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I feel like they were better used as the odd unaligned card, or rare clan based card rather than as factions. 

 

Think about what being a faction means..it means you're on the same level as say, the lion clan.

 

I just don't see these "fallen races far from their glory" as ever being that.

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I dunno, the Naga could amass quite a body of troops during the Clan Wars. Ratlings.... who the hell knows. But there's a lot of the little bastards.

 

Not to mention they were most likely to have that One Tribe keyword, which resolved most of their story?

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I dunno, the Naga could amass quite a body of troops during the Clan Wars. Ratlings.... who the hell knows. But there's a lot of the little bastards.

 

Thats kind of my point though.  They're presented as these fallen races in the fluff.  Naga were asleep for millennia, had already had problems with reproduction, had a ton of their egg beds destroyed and still manage to rival a great clan in force strength?

 

The disconnect between the fluff of being a fallen people near extinction and suddenly having the strength to rival a great clan makes it hard for me to get into those factions.

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I dunno, the Naga could amass quite a body of troops during the Clan Wars. Ratlings.... who the hell knows. But there's a lot of the little bastards.

 

Thats kind of my point though.  They're presented as these fallen races in the fluff.  Naga were asleep for millennia, had already had problems with reproduction, had a ton of their egg beds destroyed and still manage to rival a great clan in force strength?

 

The disconnect between the fluff of being a fallen people near extinction and suddenly having the strength to rival a great clan makes it hard for me to get into those factions.

 

 

Multiple writers with different ideas and different opinions on the Naga specifically and the idea of non-human non-evil-enemies species in the world in general will have that sort of mismatched effect. 

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That's mostly effect of western handling of fantasy races, which is usually "they look weird and have some kind of superpower with maybe superdrawback, but at the core, they are just weird looking humans who operate like humans with human like goals, and in order to interact with the world, they need to do it in human-like ways". 

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That's mostly effect of western handling of fantasy races, which is usually "they look weird and have some kind of superpower with maybe superdrawback, but at the core, they are just weird looking humans who operate like humans with human like goals, and in order to interact with the world, they need to do it in human-like ways". 

Is that really a "Western" thing?

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That's mostly effect of western handling of fantasy races, which is usually "they look weird and have some kind of superpower with maybe superdrawback, but at the core, they are just weird looking humans who operate like humans with human like goals, and in order to interact with the world, they need to do it in human-like ways". 

Is that really a "Western" thing?

 

 

I'd say the entire "fantasy races" approach to things that aren't human is a modern one, regardless of locality.

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That's mostly effect of western handling of fantasy races, which is usually "they look weird and have some kind of superpower with maybe superdrawback, but at the core, they are just weird looking humans who operate like humans with human like goals, and in order to interact with the world, they need to do it in human-like ways". 

Is that really a "Western" thing?

 

 

I'd say the entire "fantasy races" approach to things that aren't human is a modern one, regardless of locality.

 

Only as a function of the fact that modern fantasies don't have to pretend they took place in the real world, so they are the first ones that COULD posit fantasy species who were equals of humanity in some way.

 

I think djinn in Islamic myth are an exception to that, but they work much more like a "modern" fantasy race than anything else. 

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Hello I am a very active supporter of Shadow Lands as well rating and Naga I hope they bring all of them back into the fold in case everyone has forgotten the first true servant of Fu Leng was Yogo Junzo the scorpion who opened the first Black Scrolls and almost took over the entire empire thru the false emperor I Remeber because I was playing L5r when it first started. And every time they brought out new Powerhouses for Shadow lands they always came with a counter attack Alot of the shadow lands CA d cost a lot to bring to play gold wise and you could also only get a win one way thru miltary victory. 

But the Shadow Lands has been around since the founding of Rokugan and it is just as important to the story line 

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1 hour ago, Diagotsu said:

Hello I am a very active supporter of Shadow Lands as well rating and Naga I hope they bring all of them back into the fold in case everyone has forgotten the first true servant of Fu Leng was Yogo Junzo the scorpion who opened the first Black Scrolls and almost took over the entire empire thru the false emperor I Remeber because I was playing L5r when it first started. And every time they brought out new Powerhouses for Shadow lands they always came with a counter attack Alot of the shadow lands CA d cost a lot to bring to play gold wise and you could also only get a win one way thru miltary victory. 

But the Shadow Lands has been around since the founding of Rokugan and it is just as important to the story line 

Holy Guacamoly! How did you manage to write all that using only two punctuation marks?!

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