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Valadrim

Figuring out the Story, Crab-Shadowlands Alliance

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I have been a fan of the L5R RPG for some time, but rarely have I had any interaction with the card game. I often felt that some of the history of the setting seemed a bit odd. I normally assumed that somebody won at Gen con and got a weird story award and then others had to write around it. One specific thing that I am really curious about, how did the Crab align with the Shadowlands early on in the Clan Wars. Thanks to the great 20 years of memory thread by AFrede I started looking around and it looks like the very first cards to come out in Pre-Imerial edition were already detailing the corruption of the Crab clan.

 

Does anyone have more perspective on this? All I have found are in universe explanations that basically say, Kuni Yori was corrupt and tried to convince Kisada to ally with the Shadowlands once and failed...but then evidently succeeded the second time. Does anyone know why the story team decided to start this way; and is there any good in universe explanation that helps show why Kisada thought that opening the gates at the wall and marching on the capital leading a Shadowlands army with the murdered corpse of his son nailed to a banner of Fu Leng was a good idea?

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The best explanation I know of is that Kisada was increasingly frustrated by the unwillingness of the other Rokugani to recognise the heroism of the Crab, or to help them (for most of Rokugani history, it was a commonplace assumption that the Shadowlands wasn't THAT big of a deal, and the Crab were just using the inflated threat to try to wring more stuff out of the Empire). The chaos surrounding the Throne during that period reinforced Kisada's perception of the Rokugani in general as weak-willed rabble in need of a good straightening out. All of this gave Yori enough to hook into, to eventually persuade him that accepting Jigoku's aid was the only way to set things right.

 

One might certainly argue that these complaints don't even approach sufficient motive for what Kisada ended up doing, and I would agree. But there was at least some motive, and it's not unreasonable to assume that Yori/Jigoku, once given a tiny opening to exploit, was able to mess with Kisada's mind somehow.

 

As for why it was decided to start this way OOC... I have no idea. Though it should be said that many things about the setting we take for granted weren't set in stone at that time- in The Bad Death of Hida Amoro, the Crab are described as wearing red armour (painted red, not red from blood), when we all know grey-blue is their colour. So it's possible they were just throwing things at the wall to see what stuck, though again, I don't actually know.

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So as I understand it the plan was to simultaneously weaken the shadowlands by grinding them against the armies of the other clans while keeping the wall fully staffed. It was intended to be a controlled burn that emphasized the threat of the shadowlands to the rest of the empire while weakening the hordes enough to be mopped up by crab armies after the point was made.  But then Yori got all undead necromancy and grafted an oni arm to one kid and nailed the other to a standard.

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Start with the pre-Clan War lore, much of which is dribbled out piecemeal in the 1st Ed. RPG supplements.  Hida Kisada had the hubris to believe that the threat of the Shadowlands could be destroyed if the Empire could be united against them, and thought that Hantei XXXVIII did not have the stomach or the wits for the task.  During the Scorpion Clan Coup, Kisada marches to Otosan Uchi after Shoju assassinates the Emperor, but does not obviously take a side.  Shoju sends a request for aid to Kisada in the face of the other clans uniting against the coup, which Kisada perceives as a sign of weakness -- and sides with the assembled clans against the Scorpion.

 

Akodo Toturi duels and kills Shoju.  The coup is ended.  Hantei Sotorii is installed as the new Emperor, Hantei XXXIX, taking Bayushi Kachiko as his bride, ordering the remaining Scorpion Clan to be destroyed, and exiling Toturi as a ronin.  Kisada sees this all as weakness in the boy Emperor: leaving enemies alive, keeping the most poisonous of them close at hand.  Kisada believes the Crab are better suited to ruling the empire than this pathetic dynasty, but he knows that he cannot leave the Kaiu Wall undefended while he pursues what, effectively, would be the Crab Clan Coup.  Kuni Yori, playing the part of the treacherous advisor, suggests an alliance with the Shadowlands only so long as it takes the Crab to take the capital, whereupon they can turn on their allies and destroy them.  Kisada initially rejects the idea, but eventually authorizes Yori to broker the deal, allowing the Crab to gradually withdraw troops from the Wall to mass for a march to Otosan Uchi.

 

All of this is more or less preamble to the Clan War era represented by the Imperial Edition release of the CCG.

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To add to DocAngst...

 

Kisada deepens the alliance after the Battle of Beiden Pass, where his son, Hida Sukune, is defeated by an army of Dragon, Unicorn, and ronin lead by Toturi. As part of the initial alliance, Hida Yakamo had a magical, metallic claw grafted to his arm by Kuni Yori, It turned out that this was an Oni's claw, allowing Yakamo's name to subsumed by the Yakamo no Oni. As punishment for his defeat, Kisada ordered his own son, Sukune, to be sacrificed to the Terrible War Banner of Fu Leng. The Battle of Beiden Pass is also where Hitomi lost her hand to Yakamo's claw.

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Pure Crab clan was a player response to the initial situation of a corrupt Crab - the Crab player community managed to present a stand against the Shadowlands' corrupting influence, symbolized by Yokatsu ditching his demon claw for the Jade Fist, which IIRC was the self-appointed name of the website/messageboard the Crab players organized around. 

 

In terms of the in-character explanation - Hida Kisada fundamentally believed that he was, himself, such a badass, that the Shadowlands was nothing but a tool to be used by him. Obviously this had bad consequences for his family and clan as a result of his hubris. 

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In terms of the in-character explanation - Hida Kisada fundamentally believed that he was, himself, such a badass, that the Shadowlands was nothing but a tool to be used by him. Obviously this had bad consequences for his family and clan as a result of his hubris. 

 

 

But it was ok, because he became idolized hero anyway, everything was forgotten/forgiven, and he even became a Fortune of Preserverance  :rolleyes:

[Not a fan of how Kisada was handled after certain point of his story.]

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Pure Crab clan was a player response to the initial situation of a corrupt Crab - the Crab player community managed to present a stand against the Shadowlands' corrupting influence, symbolized by Yokatsu ditching his demon claw for the Jade Fist...

Hida Yakamo, not Yokatsu.

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In terms of the in-character explanation - Hida Kisada fundamentally believed that he was, himself, such a badass, that the Shadowlands was nothing but a tool to be used by him. Obviously this had bad consequences for his family and clan as a result of his hubris.

 

But it was ok, because he became idolized hero anyway, everything was forgotten/forgiven, and he even became a Fortune of Preserverance  :rolleyes:

[Not a fan of how Kisada was handled after certain point of his story.]

Well, it does make sense setting-wise. How you live is nowhere as important as how you die,.

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Bleeding out for ~3 years after failed coup attempt is a noble death :P? Then let's make FuLeng hero of empire; like, he died sacrificing himself to stop foreign godess from trampling over it. :P

What Kisada did after being stabbed should redeem him from not being, I dunno, removed from family records or something, not to turn him into one of greatest heroes of empire.

Edited by WHW

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Pure Crab clan was a player response to the initial situation of a corrupt Crab - the Crab player community managed to present a stand against the Shadowlands' corrupting influence, symbolized by Yokatsu ditching his demon claw for the Jade Fist, which IIRC was the self-appointed name of the website/messageboard the Crab players organized around. 

 

In terms of the in-character explanation - Hida Kisada fundamentally believed that he was, himself, such a badass, that the Shadowlands was nothing but a tool to be used by him. Obviously this had bad consequences for his family and clan as a result of his hubris. 

not compleatly. During the day of thunder event the crab player who made it to the the top 8 was on team evil.

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BTW, I really like Kisada. He IS cool. But I disliked whitewashing he got in the end (and his return). I really would prefer end of Kisada where, after Day of Thunder is done, Kisada barely capable of walking heads to the capital and using his last bit of strength, asks for seppuku in front of Emperor, to cleanse his name (and Clan) after he fixed his errors. THEN you can proclaim him a hero, Preserverance, whatever. 

Lack of this final act of whatever turns me really off from his redemption story.

EDIT

Also, seppuku would be his final middle finger to Fu Leng, because he would die from his own will, instead of that gutstab. "No, you didn't kill me dude, I decided to die on my own." :P

Edited by WHW

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OTOH...

 

Wasn't post-Hantei-XXXIX a period when the Crab needed decisive leadership and acumen to recover from everything Kisada had just put the clan through? If it could be said he learned from his mistakes, those were some pretty large brass ones to take responsibility for. The luxury of seppuku as a gesture to a sealed away god might be something other clans could do, but the Crab strike me as more often too pragmatic for it.

Edited by BitRunr

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Kisada isn't the kind of person to think that a good death could wash away his mistakes, not really. He was a very ends-justify-the-means kind of guy. I think, actually, Kisada is admirable in that sense. Not in the sort of idealized version of bushido that the Lion Clan might practice, but in the eyes of Crab philosophy, he made a lot of hard choices in difficult decisions. He's not the kind of guy to seek redemption, in any case - he would be like "Yeah, I did that. Let's stop worrying about the past." Which is refreshing, in a world of people who either pride themselves on an impractical, ineffective, and immoral approach to ethics (code of bushido/honor) and others who have a Saturday morning cartoon level of morality (some of the less devious Phoenix and Dragon characters, for example).

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Kisada had a cool helmet. I still maintain that that's why he got so much "no, no, he's our hero!" treatment.

 

 

Well, that, and almost no playerbases seemed willing to own their turns at outright villainy.

 

Well, Kisada's turn at villainy had nothing to do with any player decision and went completely against what the Crab were (supposed to be) about, so I can see why they would not want to "own" that one.

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The playerbase most willing to own their turn at villainy was the Unicorn, I think... about half of them, anyway. Chagatai was just that much of a bamf.

 

Yeah, because the players didn't decide it, but his actions were in line with what the Unicorn were about -- well, the area where it overlapped with what the Mantis were about, anyway.

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Find me a non-Spider/Shadowlands playerbase who would have willingly chosen to be the "bad guys."

Even the Scorpion have tried to whitewash their Clan's actions.

 

Note: I am by no means innocent of this. I vastly prefer Hero Phoenix to Villain Phoenix... although I will hedge and say that some Phoenix villains worked just fine for me, but generally the ones who were villains because of arrogance and hard-headedness, rather than the "whee, let's play with maho" crowd.

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Find me a non-Spider/Shadowlands playerbase who would have willingly chosen to be the "bad guys."

 

What do you mean by 'bad guys'? I'd be perfectly happy for the Lion to play an antagonistic role, out of a (possibly misguided) sense of honour, obsession with settling grudges, and general disdain for everyone else. It would be boring if they were always on the 'right' side- the various Dragonfly conflicts, the massacre of Tsuruchi's followers, Gohei's slaughter of the Crane in Toshi Ranbo, and so on, all make the Clan more interesting (though I'm glad it isn't all they do), and serve as welcome reminders of the less attractive side of the Lion's hyperactive sense of obligation to do what THEY think is right, everyone else be damned. I would be less happy, though, with the Lion as legitimately evil, allying with the Shadowlands and so on (the whole Okura storyline was just bleh).

 

In short, I have no problem with the Lion being seen as 'bad guys', as long as they maintain their own integrity, and their behaviour can be justified from their own in-setting perspective. The trouble with Kisada wasn't so much that he was an antagonist, as that what he was doing seemed more than a little out of character for a Crab Champion.

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Find me a non-Spider/Shadowlands playerbase who would have willingly chosen to be the "bad guys."

 

Well, there's bad guys and then there's bad guys. The people who say straight up "we're the bad guys" would be the players of the faction that is appealing because it is "being the bad guys", yeah. 

 

But having a character do things that others see as bad, and the clan fanbase embracing it? I could easily see Mantis doing that. "Yeah, we rolled into the Imperial city and took it over. What're you sissies gonna do about it?"

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To be honest, looking at the game from an outside perspective, the guys in Rokugan who seem the most like actual villains are the Crane and certain elements of the Phoenix (Elemental Council). They tend to pretty consistently show themselves to be self-interested assholes operating under a veneer of propriety and untouchability, who contribute nothing of actual value towards the safety of the empire, and have a very cavalier attitude towards undermining and hamstringing the clans that actually put in work to defending the Empire on a daily basis (Crab, Unicorn, Lion sometimes).

 

Doji Kurohito, in particular, I remember as a teflon villain - none of the screwed up things he ever did did he get blamed for, but that man was basically one of the evilest and most backstabby guys in the setting.

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Doji Kurohito, in particular, I remember as a teflon villain - none of the screwed up things he ever did did he get blamed for, but that man was basically one of the evilest and most backstabby guys in the setting.

How DARE you speak thus of the Fortune of Perfection?! (No. Seriously. He got deified.)

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