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crane story is up

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Although I mentioned above how much I liked the story, my RPG group pointed out something, which really bothered me: the whitewashing.

Although the art is beautiful, Hotaru doesn't look asian at all. Give her a cutlass and she can freely go from Rokugan to the 7th Sea.

I seriously hope that this won't be the new standard for L5R art. Despite its beauty, it's the kind of thing that can quickly remove all the immersion from the setting.

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1 hour ago, kpsmith said:

I dunno. Clan Champions and Imperial Advisors have important things to talk about.

Well, if we can make fool proof reasons for denying the rumors of their affair like these, who is to say that if anyone presses on the issue will..

a. Be challenged out right to a duel by one of the best student of the Kakita technique.

b. Socially embarrassed in the court by the Imperial Advisor, only few people is beneath her Status and Glory

c. Discreetly taken care off by the man allegedly made to look like a fool by making a suggestion of Kachiko's unfaithfulness.

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6 hours ago, Builder2 said:

Another good example is when fans describe attacking a caravan as "civil disobedience."

When the alternative is death by starvation. Yeah. That's a civil response.

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4 hours ago, Suzume Tomonori said:

The Phoenix have a champion; I see no problem with making the Phoenix fiction about him. :P

(I use a Sparrow handle, but I'm a big Shiba fan.)

Starting out with a Shiba focus would help avoid the eternal nightmare of "but shugenja are too powerful to do much with."

 

And, you know... unlike the good Sparrow here, I actually rock a Shiba tag because the Shiba are the Best Samurai.... stuck guarding some real pieces of work.

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17 hours ago, Builder2 said:

Perhaps that is what bothered me the most about it, but I still find I disagree that it adds any real value to the setting. But this time I'll emphasize it: Your Mileage May Vary. I don't like the no-touching thing, but it in no way upsets me that other fans do.  ;)

::Looks at your clan mon:: you chose your clan wisely.  Touching isn't really a thing to the unicorn ;)

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16 hours ago, JJ48 said:

Well, I honestly didn't know that obsession with perfection was one of the defining traits of the Crane.  If that's the way it is, then fine, but I just felt it was portrayed rather poorly in this story.

Which is why a little back story on Doji Shizue would have been appreciated (explaining her use of a cane) because her physical disfigurement within the clan of perfection is what makes her an interesting character. In the old story line she had a club foot.  Appreciated the Toshimoko and Yoshi name drops though. 

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20 hours ago, WHW said:

That, and Lion became a "cool kid to defeat in order to make sure everyone understand how SPECIAL you are". 

One thing we did in our L5R RPG was to give Lion an...interesting tradition. Basic idea was that Lion took to the heart the old saying that in order to be virtuous and just, you need to actively seek out wrongs to right. So in our L5R, a lot of Lions who will find case of someone outside of Lion territory sympathetic - say, they see a small lineage of samurai abused and unable to pursue justice - ask their lords for a "vacation" and organizes a small warband to support the case they champion.

This way Lions get to do something when they aren't at war, and can be super special tactical snowflakes - you could totally do something like "We had our victory secured, but then 15 Lion came, organized defenders army and lead them into battle, and despite our superior numbers and advantageous terrain, we still got played like children, **** Akodo Tacticans!!!"

Oooh, I love that! Totally going to use it!

 

Also, two things I liked A LOT: the use of Language of Flowers and characters using weapons other than the katana! Seriously, people. Swords are sidearms. When you are in the battlefield, use a GOD **** POLEARM. Or spear.

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11 hours ago, Radon Antila said:

The one thing this fiction makes clear is that Doji Hotaru is a very good Champion.

I disagree.

Satsume is recently enough dead that his death is still shocking the court, and the Imperial Magistrates are just beginning the investigation. Hotaru is the new Champion. Her father just died. The Crane lands are in trouble due to tsunami, Lion aggression, and now banditry.

When you're Clan Champion, you don't have time to go do ronin cosplay for a couple of days just to try to sneak into Otosan Uchi to shimmy up to Kachiko on the sly. You have duties. Hell, the Crane Clan is the incarnate Clan of social propriety, courtly customs, and Rokugani culture. Hotaru should be facing weeks, at least, of proper protocol and meetings between her and all her loyal lords, who will come to express sorrow at the untimely death of her father, and express their continued loyalties to her. Each major subfamily in the Clan would demand their own meeting, and most likely at their own castle. She would have to take a tour of the important temples of the Asahina to value her father's spirit at all the right places. She would have to receive the diplomatic envoys from the other six Great Clans who will all want to show their sorrow at the loss of her legendary father, and then also remind old friends (like the Phoenix) that the Crane still have their back, remind the Crab that rice imports might still be low this year due to the problems with the flooding...

She is Clan Champion. That's more than just a job, it's an entire lifestyle commitment. And it's Crane, the clan whose default in the setting is "we define what court is." And she's new, and nobody is cutting her any slack (least of all herself). You do *not* run off to pretend you're a ronin caravan guard for at least a couple of days (if not a week or longer) just to try to sneak into Otosan Uchi when you're a Clan Champion. You have stuff to do. Tons of stuff. And if your father didn't prepare you for a life of sitting around court talking to people, then he wasn't a very good Crane Clan Champion, was he?

Yes, if you're Robert Baratheon and you've been sitting around drunk for two decades and the realm runs itself because you effectively abdicated your rule in favor of the Lannisters and Littlefinger, you can take a week off to go whoring, and nobody will care (Littlefinger will probably even advance you the coin for your bar tab). But that's not this situation. Her father just died, she's still a new Clan Champion -- having every moment of your life spoken for for the next three months, renewed daily, is pretty much the way of life for Clan Champions.

Being Clan Champion is not like being Batman or community theatre chairman. It's not just a role you assume when nobody is looking or you do in your part time. It is who you are. Why was Shizue not terrified and relieved to see her sister arrive in court when she mysteriously vanished a few days ago? Heck, why didn't Shizue mention her disappearance at all? Did no one notice when the daimyo of one of the Great Clans just up and vanished? She told her closest advisors not to worry and to keep the secret? You don't think people in Otosan Uchi wouldn't hear that the Crane Champion has not been seen in public for a week?

If she was old-school pre-reboot Yokuni than, sure, she could do this. She could do a lot of things then. But she's not. And it's just silly that the fiction starts with the premise than the Crane Clan Champion, the living embodiment of the importance of courtly proceedings, could take a week off from court to go play at being a very bad private investigator.

We will of course ignore Hotaru's particularly lame excuse that she was trying to find information about her father's death by playing at being Batronin. What the heck would she hope to accomplish? She's already the daimyo of the largest open-source intelligence gathering machine on the planet, the Crane Clan. What can she find that her legions of spies and diplomats cannot? She was obviously more interested in seeing Kachiko on the sly. Fine, people have done stupider things while in love.

There was just no feeling in the story that Hotaru was actually Clan Champion. The things she was doing were things that would make perfect sense if she was someone with about one million less responsibilities, but as it stands the story presents Hotaru being far more interested in her own desires than those of her clan.

Things I did like in the story: opening the first official new-5R fiction with a new character, Daidoji Nerishma, was appropriate, and that Nerishma is actually a tribute character to an old L5R fan who has sadly left us, thereby linking both eras of the game, was a great way to start the new fiction bridging both settings in a sweet way. The action flowed swiftly enough when it happened, and the flashbacks were nice, quick jots of emotional color against a rather stark and grey foreground. The emotional subtext of Satsume's nature and how it hurt Hotaru was handled very deftly. indeed, any time spent within Hotaru's self-reflections was effective and moody. As an emotional study of Hotaru, it worked well.

Things of horrifying import: the entire dialogue between Hotaru and Shizue was painful, a horrible mess of exposition and two not-quite-human AIs attempting to pretend they're having a conversation. Thankfully, Kachiko soon appears and Hotaru then has a good conversation with another character that we can believe two human beings having.

Overall? A rocky start for the new fiction, mainly due to the Crane Clan Champion doing very silly things that apparently show she has no responsibilities (or certainly none she takes seriously enough). Luckily, the emotional weight of Hotaru's inner thoughts help bring us along to a good feeling towards her, and hopefully establishes a new Rokugan fiction line where FFG's stated interest in personal values vs. external duties is a major player.

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25 minutes ago, Gaffa said:

And if your father didn't prepare you for a life of sitting around court talking to people, then he wasn't a very good Crane Clan Champion, was he?

To be fair, this is pretty historically accurate. I haven't studied enough Japanese history to comment on it, but in European history at least, the number of good kings who managed to groom good successors was vanishingly small. Apparently, good rulership and good fatherhood are almost mutually exclusive.

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16 minutes ago, Ultimatecalibur said:

Did you miss the bit where Satsume said that "very good" was not good enough for the Crane? Radon was playing with the irony.

Oh, I got the joke (and should go back and upvote it, in fact). For some reason it just finally triggered me to write down my own problems with the story.

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15 minutes ago, Fumi said:

 

To be fair, this is pretty historically accurate. I haven't studied enough Japanese history to comment on it, but in European history at least, the number of good kings who managed to groom good successors was vanishingly small

I think the proportion of good heirs being groomed is appropriately small in all cultures. Humans are humans no matter where they are.

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2 hours ago, Gaffa said:

Satsume is recently enough dead that his death is still shocking the court, and the Imperial Magistrates are just beginning the investigation. Hotaru is the new Champion. Her father just died. The Crane lands are in trouble due to tsunami, Lion aggression, and now banditry.

When you're Clan Champion, you don't have time to go do ronin cosplay for a couple of days just to try to sneak into Otosan Uchi to shimmy up to Kachiko on the sly. You have duties. Hell, the Crane Clan is the incarnate Clan of social propriety, courtly customs, and Rokugani culture. Hotaru should be facing weeks, at least, of proper protocol and meetings between her and all her loyal lords, who will come to express sorrow at the untimely death of her father, and express their continued loyalties to her. Each major subfamily in the Clan would demand their own meeting, and most likely at their own castle. She would have to take a tour of the important temples of the Asahina to value her father's spirit at all the right places. She would have to receive the diplomatic envoys from the other six Great Clans who will all want to show their sorrow at the loss of her legendary father, and then also remind old friends (like the Phoenix) that the Crane still have their back, remind the Crab that rice imports might still be low this year due to the problems with the flooding...

While I don't disagree with everything, it seems like you're forgetting that Hotaru has been Crane champion for around 1 year before Satsume's death. The flashback happened one and a half year ago, just a few months before Satsume stepped down. All the meetings of allegieance have been done before and the funeral of Satsume has not yet begun since she came to Otosan Uchi in part to make its preparations. So, the condoleances will come later, once the funeral is ongoing. At this point of time, there's not as much obligations as you're saying.

And your being a little disingenuous by saying she came for Kachiko when the story explains very clearly what was the goal of her "plan". The fact is, she didn't come to see Kachiko or only to search for informations, she came for her father's funeral. There's no mystery in her leaving Kyuden Doji to come to Otosan Uchi. However, what she did is trying to kill two birds with one stone by hiding herself to enter the capital incognito in order to try gathering some informations. How she would have done that and how she "disappeared" without a lot of people knowing about it can be questioned, sure, but that was not the main goal of the trip.

Edited by KerenRhys

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1 hour ago, RandomJC said:

They ate fish and some fowl. And mountain trout.

Mountain tuna. :)

2 hours ago, WHW said:

Wow, did RPG sources really claim that peasants didn't eat meat? 

From the RPG, red meat is considered unclean and the idea is that it makes the people that eat it smell weird.  Only the Dragon clan have any tradition of eating red meat, goat in particular.  They call it mountain tuna to not offend outsiders.

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22 hours ago, williamobrien said:

Well, if the Lion are always right and always win, that sucks for everyone else and makes the characters uninteresting.  As protagonists, the Lion only really work if they are faced with a moral dilemma (like Tsuko), an internal dilemma (like the corrupted Matsu Turi and Matsu Satomi) or a situation where the other clans are unwilling or unable to withstand a threat (like the Yodatai).

Actually, this isn't really true in the L5R setting itself.

Since the Empire lacks both an autonomous bureaucracy and a standing army, the Emperor is a ruler constantly vulnerable to his vassals rebelling or making him into a puppet. The Lion's primary job during "peacetime" is to constantly stomp down on the other Clans in turn. This is so they can become neither strong enough to rebel nor so indolent they can no longer fight like Samurai. On the other hand, the Emperor can't afford to have the Lion present a threat to him either - hence their forces are constantly engaged on multiple fronts and the political machinations of the Imperial Court make sure that all material gains the Lion make in military conflicts are reversed within a generation. The Emperor primarily uses the Crane for this job. The Emperor keeps power by exploiting this cycle, and he uses the Otomo family and the Scorpion clan as proxies to cultivate these conflicts while keeping his hands clean.

The actual archetype character conflict for Lion samurai is the conflict in values between the expectation to pursue personal virtue and familial glory pitted against their duty to obey orders. They get called to give 110% and win every time, but in the end the Emperor always jerks their leash and pulls them back into line. A Lion is simultaneously demanded to go all-in for glory, but just stand there and suffer humiliation and injustice whenever someone pulls rank on them. That's a Lion's personal conflict: constantly keep the faith and prop up the system while knowing full-well you're being played and cheated by that same system.

The general response to this conflict is to hit the people you are allowed to beat up on even harder.

Edited by mlund

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41 minutes ago, DarkHorse said:

Mountain tuna. :)

From the RPG, red meat is considered unclean and the idea is that it makes the people that eat it smell weird.  Only the Dragon clan have any tradition of eating red meat, goat in particular.  They call it mountain tuna to not offend outsiders.

Tuna, ****.

And Unicorn! At least we're honest about it.

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1 hour ago, mlund said:

Actually, this isn't really true in the L5R setting itself.

Since the Empire lacks both an autonomous bureaucracy and a standing army, the Emperor is a ruler constantly vulnerable to his vassals rebelling or making him into a puppet. The Lion's primary job during "peacetime" is to constantly stomp down on the other Clans in turn. This is so they can become neither strong enough to rebel nor so indolent they can no longer fight like Samurai. On the other hand, the Emperor can't afford to have the Lion present a threat to him either - hence their forces are constantly engaged on multiple fronts and the political machinations of the Imperial Court make sure that all material gains the Lion make in military conflicts are reversed within a generation. The Emperor primarily uses the Crane for this job. The Emperor keeps power by exploiting this cycle, and he uses the Otomo family and the Scorpion clan as proxies to cultivate these conflicts while keeping his hands clean.

The actual archetype character conflict for Lion samurai is the conflict in values between the expectation to pursue personal virtue and familial glory pitted against their duty to obey orders. They get called to give 110% and win every time, but in the end the Emperor always jerks their leash and pulls them back into line. A Lion is simultaneously demanded to go all-in for glory, but just stand there and suffer humiliation and injustice whenever someone pulls rank on them. That's a Lion's personal conflict: constantly keep the faith and prop up the system while knowing full-well you're being played and cheated by that same system.
 

While this might be true of how the Lion are *supposed* to function within the empire, it's mostly confined to the backstory and not really how the Lion ever *actually* function within the ongoing story.  The closest it comes is Tsuko being told to stand down against the Crab, and that had nothing to do with reining the Lion in.  

L5R rarely has a stable ruler during times of peace where this kind of chain yanking can occur.  There's generally always either an empty throne or an outside threat for the Lion to deal with. The only arc that had stable ruler-ship and minimal Lion interaction with an outside threat was Diamond, where the Lion were attacked by the Unicorn and Imperial interference actually benefited the Lion.  

Maybe we'll see more of it in the new stuff, but it's not really a story you tell multiple times.  "Lion kick ***.... then shenanigans" would get just as old as "Upstarts prove themselves against the Lion" did. 

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