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Idanthyrsus

[RPG] Honour

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I think I'll weigh in on this, since I've been reading the disagreement going on over Duty specifically.

 

In Japanese (not Rokugani) history, Duty was owed in a 3-fold manner. Duty to your Family/Friends being least important, Duty to your Lord being the middle, and Duty to the Emperor/Shogun being highest.

 

Hence, in the classic 47 Ronin story, the Ronin do their Duty to their Daimyo in avenging him, then commit seppuku because their Duty to Imperial Law demands it for breaking the decree against violence.

 

If we translate that to L5R, then first of all, we are possibly getting way too minute in detail by disassembling individual Virtues. But, on the offhand chance that anyone is interested in working such the proposed scenario from a few pages back might go in the following way:

 

Daimyo says go murder peasants to deny them to the enemy. Samurai has a choice to make, depending on whether s/he holds Bushido or their Daimyo in higher esteem (while the obvious answer is Bushido for Rokugan, consider how a loyal vassal might consider their lord to be wiser in its ways than they, and infer that any order that they give will be in keeping with the most Honorable path according to Bushido. Trust can be a terrible thing.). Either way, the choice they make, be it blind acceptance, refusal, or protest kanshi, will be the "honorable" choice, as it is the thing they hold to be most in keeping with the tenants of Bushido. 

 

Society might say differently, of course, but it is easy enough to say that the Samurai caste (certain poorly thought out schools aside) are conditioned to take what they perceive as the most honorable option at all times. Even the Scorpion are working under this assumption, because their core tenant of Loyalty refers not only to the Clan, but the Empire as a whole. Even Assassination can be an honorable act, so long as it is done for the good of the Empire, or so the Scorpion mindset works.

 

So, I suppose a modification that I might offer to the original thought of your Honor being based on your 3 lowest virtues would be that it be calculated off your 2 lowest + the Virtue held dearest by your Clan. Clan is one of the defining aspects of any Great Clan character after all. This is obviously not a perfect solution, as the Mantis and Spider kinda get blindsided here (Maybe run off of Shourido "virtues"?) and it doesn't do much for Non-Great Clanners, but then again, the grand majority of Non-Great Clan Samurai really don't have to worry about Honor, because the society that it is based around is entirely ambivalent to their existence. Being a non-samurai in Rokugan just sucks (Less so in Unicorn lands, but it still sucks pretty hard. Simple life of back-breaking labor vs. Simple life of back breaking labor plus possibly getting murdered for little to no reason by your lords.)

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Daimyo says go murder peasants to deny them to the enemy. Samurai has a choice to make, depending on whether s/he holds Bushido or their Daimyo in higher esteem (while the obvious answer is Bushido for Rokugan, consider how a loyal vassal might consider their lord to be wiser in its ways than they, and infer that any order that they give will be in keeping with the most Honorable path according to Bushido. Trust can be a terrible thing.). Either way, the choice they make, be it blind acceptance, refusal, or protest kanshi, will be the "honorable" choice, as it is the thing they hold to be most in keeping with the tenants of Bushido. 

 

You will laugh, but neither of the listed things are in line with the tenants Bushido. Blind acceptance violates pretty much every tenet (maybe except sincerity); refusal violates courtesy and sincerity, and kanshi is 'blind acceptance' tier minus courage (though this is debatable). The right answer lies elsewhere.

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I think I'll weigh in on this, since I've been reading the disagreement going on over Duty specifically.

 

In Japanese (not Rokugani) history, Duty was owed in a 3-fold manner. Duty to your Family/Friends being least important, Duty to your Lord being the middle, and Duty to the Emperor/Shogun being highest.

 

Hence, in the classic 47 Ronin story, the Ronin do their Duty to their Daimyo in avenging him, then commit seppuku because their Duty to Imperial Law demands it for breaking the decree against violence.

 

 

Would I be totally crazy in suggesting that you are overlooking duty to the common people you are sworn to protect as being part of this overall picture?

My understanding of things is that those in power who failed to serve the nation or were unnecessarily abusive or cruel to commoners tended to be seen negatively regardless of their relation to those higher in the order. While those who saw to it that the people whose lives were in their care saw their lives better as a result were held in higher esteem.

 

It would mean that one has a duty not only to those who are above them, but a duty to those who are below them as well. Granted, in the case of those who are below them, it is more of a net result-- so if one can save the majority by sacrificing a minority, it would be ideal.

 

And well... a samurai who slaughtered a entire village to amuse his lord.... or a samurai who turned on his lord to protect an entire village even if the effort was futile....

 

I really have to wonder which would be held in higher esteem. Which would really be considered more honorable? I kind of feel like they would be roughly equal enough for it to be debatable.

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Daimyo says go murder peasants to deny them to the enemy. Samurai has a choice to make, depending on whether s/he holds Bushido or their Daimyo in higher esteem (while the obvious answer is Bushido for Rokugan, consider how a loyal vassal might consider their lord to be wiser in its ways than they, and infer that any order that they give will be in keeping with the most Honorable path according to Bushido. Trust can be a terrible thing.). Either way, the choice they make, be it blind acceptance, refusal, or protest kanshi, will be the "honorable" choice, as it is the thing they hold to be most in keeping with the tenants of Bushido. 

 

You will laugh, but neither of the listed things are in line with the tenants Bushido. Blind acceptance violates pretty much every tenet (maybe except sincerity); refusal violates courtesy and sincerity, and kanshi is 'blind acceptance' tier minus courage (though this is debatable). The right answer lies elsewhere.

 

Oh, I would hardly laugh. Duty is the only tenant that the choices don't violate. That, in essence, is what the Samurai Drama/tragedy is about, because of the tenants, Duty conflicts with the others most often. Looking for the Logic Trap solution is a way out, but not always the "right" way.

 

Duty falls in a weird place specifically because of the historical context, while most of the rest of Bushido was made up by Westerners writing about Japan from the lens of European Chivalry.

 

As I stated, I imagine that most actions a Samurai takes will be, to their minds, the "Correct and Honorable" action for the scenario. Taking action in such a situation is a matter of searching for a justification that you (and hopefully your peers/lords) will accept. Save for a few disparate elements of Rokugan, no person looks at their options and choses the one the believe is wrong.

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I think I'll weigh in on this, since I've been reading the disagreement going on over Duty specifically.

 

In Japanese (not Rokugani) history, Duty was owed in a 3-fold manner. Duty to your Family/Friends being least important, Duty to your Lord being the middle, and Duty to the Emperor/Shogun being highest.

 

Hence, in the classic 47 Ronin story, the Ronin do their Duty to their Daimyo in avenging him, then commit seppuku because their Duty to Imperial Law demands it for breaking the decree against violence.

 

 

Would I be totally crazy in suggesting that you are overlooking duty to the common people you are sworn to protect as being part of this overall picture?

My understanding of things is that those in power who failed to serve the nation or were unnecessarily abusive or cruel to commoners tended to be seen negatively regardless of their relation to those higher in the order. While those who saw to it that the people whose lives were in their care saw their lives better as a result were held in higher esteem.

 

It would mean that one has a duty not only to those who are above them, but a duty to those who are below them as well. Granted, in the case of those who are below them, it is more of a net result-- so if one can save the majority by sacrificing a minority, it would be ideal.

 

And well... a samurai who slaughtered a entire village to amuse his lord.... or a samurai who turned on his lord to protect an entire village even if the effort was futile....

 

I really have to wonder which would be held in higher esteem. Which would really be considered more honorable? I kind of feel like they would be roughly equal enough for it to be debatable.

 

Ok, take this next part with a large grain of salt. I am a Westerner myself, and more of a mythology buff than a history buff.

 

I *believe* that there was no explicit Duty for Samurai to the common folk. It fell in an odd place between the 3rd degree of Friends/Family and the 1st by how they were described by Imperial/Shogunate law.

 

Chivalry, from which Bushido was created, has such distinctions, sure, but I dunno.

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Bushido as a western invention?  Not so much.

 

http://www.koryu.com/library/kfriday2.html

 

Not finding then right now, but previously I posted some links to articles detailing the creation of what we think of as "Bushido" as a tool for political and social control largely after the end of major internal warfare in Japan, by the Tokugawa.

Edited by MaxKilljoy

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Bushido as a western invention?  Not so much.

 

http://www.koryu.com/library/kfriday2.html

 

Not finding then right now, but previously I posted some links to articles detailing the creation of what we think of as "Bushido" as a tool for political and social control largely after the end of major internal warfare in Japan, by the Tokugawa.

Well, it would appear I was mistaken. I mostly spoke from reading Arthur Knapp's account a few years back.

 

In any case, I do not believe that the samurai had any specific "Duty" to the common folk. Recall that this is a society in which, should a samurai slay a heimin, he owed his apology not to the family of the person he killed, but to the daimyo for costing him a worker. The caste system in Japan was severe in the Feudal period, and Bushido was a code for the elite of said caste system, rather than being a universal aspect of the culture.

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Daimyo says go murder peasants to deny them to the enemy. Samurai has a choice to make, depending on whether s/he holds Bushido or their Daimyo in higher esteem (while the obvious answer is Bushido for Rokugan, consider how a loyal vassal might consider their lord to be wiser in its ways than they, and infer that any order that they give will be in keeping with the most Honorable path according to Bushido. Trust can be a terrible thing.). Either way, the choice they make, be it blind acceptance, refusal, or protest kanshi, will be the "honorable" choice, as it is the thing they hold to be most in keeping with the tenants of Bushido. 

 

You will laugh, but neither of the listed things are in line with the tenants Bushido. Blind acceptance violates pretty much every tenet (maybe except sincerity); refusal violates courtesy and sincerity, and kanshi is 'blind acceptance' tier minus courage (though this is debatable). The right answer lies elsewhere.

 

Oh, I would hardly laugh. Duty is the only tenant that the choices don't violate. That, in essence, is what the Samurai Drama/tragedy is about, because of the tenants, Duty conflicts with the others most often. Looking for the Logic Trap solution is a way out, but not always the "right" way.

 

Duty is violated as you betray your lord by obeying him. It is like a meta-betrayal, so to speak.

 

Similarly to how guns don't kill people, the tenants don't cause samurai drama - the people do. It is literally in the opening paragraph of Leadership that if you don't follow Bushido properly, then you are going to have a screwed up life. 

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Duty is violated as you betray your lord by obeying him. It is like a meta-betrayal, so to speak.

 

Similarly to how guns don't kill people, the tenants don't cause samurai drama - the people do. It is literally in the opening paragraph of Leadership that if you don't follow Bushido properly, then you are going to have a screwed up life. 

I would agree with you... in any "reasonable" setting. However, Rokugan is not reasonable.

 

You are ignoring Duty if you refuse your Lord, because your Lord is correct by virtue of him being your Lord. The Lord is a Lord by literal Divine Mandate, and as a more enlightened soul, they know better than you.

 

There are exceptions of course, but the exceptions come from your Lord's Lord disagreeing with them. It's screwy like that. 

 

So, in Rokugan, yeah, the Tenants of Bushido cause drama. And, due to nemuranai being a thing, I expect that guns can indeed kill people as well.

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I would agree with you... in any "reasonable" setting. However, Rokugan is not reasonable.

 

This is actually the core of the problem, as the Bushido is meant for people who can tell apart their head from their *sses. When somebody can actually do this (example: Toturi) then he is showered with Awesome; if they can't then they will go all sorts of crazy even though they might (example: Matsu Tsuko) or might not (example: Bayushi Shoju) think that they are honorable. 

 

When done right, Bushido can only lead to true righteousness. When done wrong, it is a path to damnation.

 

You are ignoring Duty if you refuse your Lord, because your Lord is correct by virtue of him being your Lord. The Lord is a Lord by literal Divine Mandate, and as a more enlightened soul, they know better than you.

 

Only the Emperor has Divine Mandate. Or not even him (see: the Toturi Dynasty). 

Edited by AtoMaki

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When done right, Bushido can only lead to true righteousness. When done wrong, it is a path to damnation.

Didn't we already go through a long list of situations in which the (L5R-version) tenets of Bushido clearly come into conflict with each other in ways that force a character to violate one of them?

Isn't "Bushido is perfect" really just "channeling" an in-character belief?

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When done right, Bushido can only lead to true righteousness. When done wrong, it is a path to damnation.

Didn't we already go through a long list of situations in which the (L5R-version) tenets of Bushido clearly come into conflict with each other in ways that force a character to violate one of them?

 

Uhm... We don't? 

 

Isn't "Bushido is perfect" really just "channeling" an in-character belief? 

 

 

I guess it is the other way around: "the tenets totally conflict" is channeling an in-setting rule/excuse so that L5R Samurai Drama has a legitimate way to happen. Otherwise, Rokugan would be ruled by people who embrace the "give no f*ck, take no sh*t" mentality with a black-and-white morality and a code of conduct that would pretty much make them the objectively best and most reasonable course of action all the time. This world would be pretty much "No Fun Zone" storytelling-wise. 

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Bushido as a western invention?  Not so much.

 

http://www.koryu.com/library/kfriday2.html

 

Not finding then right now, but previously I posted some links to articles detailing the creation of what we think of as "Bushido" as a tool for political and social control largely after the end of major internal warfare in Japan, by the Tokugawa.

Well, it would appear I was mistaken. I mostly spoke from reading Arthur Knapp's account a few years back.

 

In any case, I do not believe that the samurai had any specific "Duty" to the common folk. Recall that this is a society in which, should a samurai slay a heimin, he owed his apology not to the family of the person he killed, but to the daimyo for costing him a worker. The caste system in Japan was severe in the Feudal period, and Bushido was a code for the elite of said caste system, rather than being a universal aspect of the culture.

 

 

Well, yes, Bushido for what it is worth existed only after samurai stopped fighting one another. By that time war had been externalized and the big war against another nation had failed.

 

Samurai families ended up in a position where they basically lived off of whatever stipend the daimyo afforded them even though they weren't particularly needed and they ended up basically just sitting around practicing sometimes and otherwise indulging in excessive food, drink and loose women until they found themselves hopelessly in debt and generally sold off every valuable their family had. And eventually the daimyo just didn't need these "professional warriors" who did nothing but rack up debt and released them.

 

It was roughly that time when the romanticized code of the samurai came about. It was also around that time when the idea that the katana was some sort of ultra significant artifact that was an important symbol of their station and passed down through the family came about. During the time samurai actually had any need to use swords, they didn't hold them in all that particularly high esteem.

 

Basically what little reality L5R's samurai culture is based on is actually the mad ramblings of a trapped, useless class of warrior during an extended peace time who had been irrelevant for a few generations and were desperately romanticizing their family's past in a bid to still be relevant. And then it took those mad ramblings and tried to apply them as though they were true far more than they ever were in the real world and tried to apply them to the society during war time.

 

The actual samurai who actually used their weapons, actually engaged in battle, actually struggled against death outside of daredevil's reckless sports did not hold to any particular code of bushido nor well.... anything that remotely resembles the way L5R portrayed things.

 

And their reputations going forward?...

Those who dedicated themselves to bettering their province and its people were held up as heroes.

Those who murdered commoners callously to meet their ends are demonized to this day. In fact, the one who nearly unified Japan is known as "The Demon King" because of his disregard of the lives of commoners.

 

 

In that way there seems to be good reason to believe that if we talk about honor, samurai do have a duty to the common folk-- not every single individual, mind you, but as a whole. Those who do their diligence in protecting the common folk will be considered more honorable than those who do them harm.

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^It is worth mentioning that there are some stuff that falls under the "Rokugan is not Japan" thing, like how samurai in Rokugan are effectively a warmongering intellectual class rather than strictly professional warriors like IRL and how katanas being mystical artifacts is the real deal (a Void-boosted katana out-damages every weapon in the game except firearms and siege engines). 

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