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Curved Blades - Unicorn Fiction

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This is the worst fiction of the lot. Which is a shame as the Unicorns are up-there as one of my favorite clans, But I expected this when I saw who wrote it. 

1. Why would any Clan champion agree to a wedding to a lesser Family (any Family other then the Akodo) and give up their name and position. Just to resolve a argument over some land. And adding a new in-world tradition that brakes with the normal tradition of the person of lower status (the daimyō of the Ikoma family) takes the the higher status name and joins his/her family

2. Like some others the whole curved bladed/ meishōdō issue seems out of place. Its been 200 years get over it.

3. The divorce was the nail in the coffin for me on this fiction. 

 

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3 minutes ago, tenchi2a said:

This is the worst fiction of the lot. Which is a shame as the Unicorns are up-there as one of my favorite clans, But I expected this when I saw who wrote it. 

1. Why would any Clan champion agree to a wedding to a lesser Family (any Family other then the Akodo) and give up their name and position. Just to resolve a argument over some land. And adding a new in-world tradition that brakes with the normal tradition of the person of lower status (the daimyō of the Ikoma family) takes the the higher status name and joins his/her family

2. Like some others the whole curved bladed/ meishōdō issue seems out of place. Its been 200 years get over it.

3. The divorce was the nail in the coffin for me on this fiction. 

 

Agreed on points 1 and 2: both need to be addressed/justified/handwaved HARD by the Story Team as neither makes a whole lot of sense. Point 3 seems like the logical outcome, but again its very act of taking place rests upon the credibility of the first two.

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2.) seems perfectly reasonable to me.  We only need to look to Middle Eastern history to see a surprisingly long history of cultures being force to live side by side with each other and never coming to terms with each other.   I've seen people say the Meishodo thing should be old hat by now, but that's a fundamental religious difference between the Unicorn and the rest of Rokugan.  That's not something that just goes away in a society that's so bent on tradition and pride.

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21 minutes ago, tenchi2a said:

1. Why would any Clan champion agree to a wedding to a lesser Family (any Family other then the Akodo) and give up their name and position. Just to resolve a argument over some land. And adding a new in-world tradition that brakes with the normal tradition of the person of lower status (the daimyō of the Ikoma family) takes the the higher status name and joins his/her family

This is quite in line with the Unicorn way of thinking. I mean, there is a good reason why Gullible is traditionally an Unicorn Disadvantage in the RPG ;).

23 minutes ago, tenchi2a said:

2. Like some others the whole curved bladed/ meishōdō issue seems out of place. Its been 200 years get over it.

The whole point of the fic is that they will. It is kinda like the Crab story in this way.

24 minutes ago, tenchi2a said:

3. The divorce was the nail in the coffin for me on this fiction. 

This was another point the author tried to stress: the Unicorn are nice guys, but the others (specifically the Crane, the Phoenix and the Lion) are all *ssholes. 

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1 minute ago, phillos said:

2.) seems perfectly reasonable to me.  We only need to look to Middle Eastern history to see a surprisingly long history of cultures being force to live side by side with each other and never coming to terms with each other.   I've seen people say the Meishodo thing should be old hat by now, but that's a fundamental religious difference between the Unicorn and the rest of Rokugan.  That's not something that just goes away in a society that's so bent on tradition and pride.

Exactly.  The Unicorn left a long time ago, and in their travels developed a thoroughly unique culture.  Rokugan doesn't have television, pictures, or even long-distance vacations to foreign lands to help normalize new ideas.  Most non-courtiers may go their entire lives without ever meeting someone from another clan, except perhaps in battle.  Add to that the religious element of magic in Rokugan, and people on both sides will be even more resistant to change.

An example I can think of (at least for Americans in the mid-west) may be the Amish.  Many of us live relatively close to Amish country, and may have even visited to buy wooden furniture and home-grown foods.  I have a reasonable idea of some of the Amish beliefs and practices, and yet if I were to go visit them for an extended stay, I'm sure there are a good many things that would surprise me or that I would strongly disagree with.  Simply living in proximity to someone, or even under the same national banner, doesn't guarantee homogeny and understanding.

Please note that I am NOT suggesting that we should try to trick the Amish into a disadvantageous marriage so that they must either give up a strong leader or go to war, or anything like that...  >_>

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Perfectly stated JJ48

 

15 minutes ago, AtoMaki said:

This was another point the author tried to stress: the Unicorn are nice guys, but the others (specifically the Crane, the Phoenix and the Lion) are all *ssholes. 

 

I think if they are doing it right each fiction from a particular clans perspective should show how they are right and the other guys are wrong.  In that way you can have clan strife and not paint any one faction as a black and white villain.

What I got from the story wasn't that the Lion was being flat out manipulative.  This felt more like a miscommunication.  Perhaps if they negotiated differently they wouldn't have backed into this situation, but the Unicorn didn't know the full extend of what they were getting into with this deal.

Edited by phillos

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While I think having a divorce is a good thing for societal balance and gender equality, I do sort of agree that it felt out of place here. It felt, honestly, clumsy.

What would have been perfect, however? If the Asako was going to commit jigai because tradition said she HAD to. The Ikoma Daimyo could not marry so long as he was married to her. Without divorce, the only end to the marriage is in the death of a partner. Thus, it is perfectly acceptable and even highly honorable to kill yourself in order to end your marriage and free your partner up for a more favorable political marriage, if that is what was required of you.

If anything, I feel that change would make this story far more poignant. It would not be that the Asako was, essentially, being selfish is choosing suicide over divorce. It would be that Altansarnai's marriage REQUIRED her death, and no one told the Unicorn about that part at all. You would have the heightened tension of the (previously unknown) scandal and the gross violation of the Unicorn's morality, which would showcase the difference between the Lion / Traditional Rokugani point of view ("Life is only of value in service to one's lord") against the Unicorn point of view ("Life has an inherent value that you do not spend lightly, especially not for political advantage").

It would also vindicate the Ikoma Daimyo in this, from a Rokugani point of view. If the divorce would be scandalous, I doubt a samurai giving up their life so their lord can make peace with a marriage would be dishonorable. It would be HIGHLY honorable, even. The Unicorn Clan Champion needing to surrender her name, title, and position to become the wife of the Ikoma Daimyo would be best handled as the Ikoma underhanded "Gotcha! Oh, you didn't know? I guess you were just an ignorant barbarian, then..." which would be pointed out by the Unnamed Crane Diplomat in the beginning.

Also, seriously? Unnamed Crane Diplomat?

 

Edited by sndwurks

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5 hours ago, Shiba Gunichi said:

I just don't buy people who navigated so many hostile or potentially hostile encounters with other cultures as being too naive to read the fine print in a treaty that important to them. Especially if they've had two hundred years to observe their dance partners in action.

Where did they say it was a written treaty? Even today an oral agreement can still bind you. Imagine in an honor society where your word is everything. Perhaps the Unicorn verbally accepted the offer of marriage before considering all the details. It wasn't just the marriage that was being negotiated but also a dowry, transfer of land and probably a whole other minor deals.

We would have to see a fiction talking about the negotiations to be sure but I don'f find it implausible. Even in our own history there are quite a few examples.

- GB accepted the Congo Free State claim on (resource rich) Katanga by accident.

- The Council of Ephesus got started on a technicality before everyone arrived. (the second, third or fourth major crack in christianity depending on how you count)

- a treaty between the USA and Spain that due it's implications gave a large portion of a state (I think Arizona but i'm not sure) to a fraud clamining to be of noble descent. His claim got revoked when the fraud was discovered but he managed to life the live for some years at least.

 

 

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1 hour ago, tenchi2a said:

2. Like some others the whole curved bladed/ meishōdō issue seems out of place. Its been 200 years get over it.

 

Cause that works in the real world? Stubborn cultures don't just get over things, even over long periods of time. Fueds lasting generations aren't uncommon, especially in this kind of time period.

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Not my favorite fiction.

Straight katanas, clumsy Crane courtier (if this is the best man we can send as ambassador to the Unicorn no wonder that Scorpions are controlling the courts), making marriage agreement without even mentioning the basic thing - who is marrying into which clan...

 

As someone pointed out befor me, it seems like Unicorns arrived two decades ago, not two centuries.

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3 minutes ago, Doji Makoto said:

Not my favorite fiction.

Straight katanas, clumsy Crane courtier (if this is the best man we can send as ambassador to the Unicorn no wonder that Scorpions are controlling the courts), making marriage agreement without even mentioning the basic thing - who is marrying into which clan...

 

As someone pointed out befor me, it seems like Unicorns arrived two decades ago, not two centuries.

Did the Crane send the best courtier they could, or did they just figure the Unicorn didn't rate any better than a high-school intern?

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1 hour ago, JJ48 said:

Did the Crane send the best courtier they could, or did they just figure the Unicorn didn't rate any better than a high-school intern?

He did seem more fitted for a Minor Clan court than a Great Clan one, especially the one that would require knowledge of different customs. Maybe the Crane weren't very picky because, as per the introductory article, they are the Unicorn's only ally. Is not like they are going to give up that up just because of one mediocre courtier, right?

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27 minutes ago, sndwurks said:

While I think having a divorce is a good thing for societal balance and gender equality, I do sort of agree that it felt out of place here. It felt, honestly, clumsy.

What would have been perfect, however? If the Asako was going to commit jigai because tradition said she HAD to. The Ikoma Daimyo could not marry so long as he was married to her. Without divorce, the only end to the marriage is in the death of a partner. Thus, it is perfectly acceptable and even highly honorable to kill yourself in order to end your marriage and free your partner up for a more favorable political marriage, if that is what was required of you.

If anything, I feel that change would make this story far more poignant. It would not be that the Asako was, essentially, being selfish is choosing suicide over divorce. It would be that Altansarnai's marriage REQUIRED her death, and no one told the Unicorn about that part at all. You would have the heightened tension of the (previously unknown) scandal and the gross violation of the Unicorn's morality, which would showcase the difference between the Lion / Traditional Rokugani point of view ("Life is only of value in service to one's lord") against the Unicorn point of view ("Life has an inherent value that you do not spend lightly, especially not for political advantage").

It would also vindicate the Ikoma Daimyo in this, from a Rokugani point of view. If the divorce would be scandalous, I doubt a samurai giving up their life so their lord can make peace with a marriage would be dishonorable. It would be HIGHLY honorable, even. The Unicorn Clan Champion needing to surrender her name, title, and position to become the wife of the Ikoma Daimyo would be best handled as the Ikoma underhanded "Gotcha! Oh, you didn't know? I guess you were just an ignorant barbarian, then..." which would be pointed out by the Unnamed Crane Diplomat in the beginning.

Also, seriously? Unnamed Crane Diplomat?

 

I think if it was changed to "Being ordered to kill yourself to dissolve this marriage" it sours the agency of the Asako in this case, and also ignores the way marriage works in Rokugan and the actual conflict that the Unicorn champion engages with. 

The simple, almost effortless divorce and the Asako's reaction to it is the most important part of the story.

Marriage in Rokugan is purely a legal and political thing. You marry so that any child you have with your partner is legally yours and has a defined linage for further political uses as they age and matters of succession. The marriage is approved by the Lords of both families for the purpose of treaty and procreation, both of which are duties of samurai. Even if a mother knew the child wasn't her husband's both would still treat and publicly act as if the child is legit, anything else would be slanderous to their lord and family.

Divorce in this setting, as far as I have seen, is a different animal than in our world. Rokugani marriage is merely a legal binding in society and done not for the self at all but for the Lord and Family. I don't know or expect its even acceptable for a samurai to decide to divorce for themselves unless they truly have a status different with their spouse, which most Nakado's try to avoid. The power to divorce lies solely in the hands of those above the couple, just like the decision to marry them in the first place was out of their hands. If your marriage is making a treaty, then the Lord can easily order your previous marriage dissolved, because your previous marriage is just at the convenience of your lord. It can be an insulting move to the other family of the divorced spouse in some cases, but it can still happen and be reasonable.

In this case a champion was being married into the clan, a Daimyo is the most correct option demanded by society. In this case the Lion needed to free the Ikoma Daimyo and thus the champion, Probably not Toturi but the previous one, decreed that the Ikoma's marriage was being dissolved to allow the lion to make this significant treaty, ending a 2 year struggle and providing a powerful military dowry.

If marriages could only be at death that would interfere with the agency of the Lord and thus doesn't happen in this society. You are married happily or unhappily until your lord tells you otherwise. Many times samurai marry people they dislike or even hate, but their feelings don't matter, they just live publicly as their spouse and pursue affairs with those they love in secret. As long as the affair doesn't get public no harm no fowl.  In fact Rokugan fantasizes affairs in love stories and pillowbooks, because Love and Marriage aren't necessary for each other. Its better if you are in love with the person you marry, but it isn't required, only the legal matters are what's important.

This is Rokugan's view of marriage. The unicorn are different and if we ignore the insanity of how this even happened in the first place (Which Ide didn't figure this out way before hand, understanding unfamiliar cultures and politically navigating them is their entire GIMMICK) we get to the core problem, the Unicorn actually care about love.  

The Champion has had children out of wedlock, which is NOT good in rokugani society, yet they are treated as legit in Unicorn society. She clearly loves her Iuchi snugglebuddy and dislikes the notion of marrying the Ikoma. She goes along with marrying the Ikoma not because she has any passion for it, but because tradition and rokugani custom demands it. The peace treaty that could end a 200 year struggle, securing the claim to their very ancestral clans, fufuilling the obligations of a samurai to her emperor, all of these are forcing her hand. She and her clan value love, it means something to them, that's why the most important aspect of Lady Shinjo, her greatest character trait, is that she is willing to give it all up for the sake of her people. Her compassion for her clan is the deciding factor. She understands that she is in many ways still a stranger to Rokugan and sees the Lion as just doing their thing. Of course you do this stuff, of course you marry in sly ways as political moves, she was with no doubt taught by the crane and Ide in these matters. To an outsider like her Rokugan seems completely at peace with this way of thinking and acting.  The unicorn only seem to be able to care about it inside their clan.

This carries over to the other debates with our lovely unnamed Crane. Look at the slight debate with the Crane over the swords. Rokugan rejects those weapons, but the Unicorn adore them and honor them. Infact, the Unicorn go so far as to say that their blades are actually better and more efficient, but rokugan is so stuck in its ways so whatever. The result is the Unicorn respecting rokugan outside of the clan, but inside they hold to their curved blades. Its very isolationist in its thinking. They shouldn't  and don't want to make Rokugan use these weapons, they just want to have their own traditions left alone. Same with the Meshido, if Rokugan doesn't want it fine, the unicorn will keep it to themselves then. Unicorn only believes they can keep their own traditions, because the rest of the empire simply refuses them. To the Unicorn Rokugan is an unchanging entity and they have to respect that while ensuring they are respected. You can see it in how they have a very real "us vs them" barrier in how they talk about the situation. This has been the status quo for 200 years, they just don't mix.

This a core theme throughout the fiction that paints the Unicorn and Rokugan as being similar, but different. They both know it and just politely ignore it.

Its only when a weeping women appears, revealing that Lady Shinjo's actions violate another love does her eyes open. Here we see the actual struggle. The Asako didn't stop the marriage because she was going to die, that's all common fair for samurai and the Unicorn clearly understands that things like this happen, the casualness by which the divorce was was performed only supports just how controlling the system actually is. Its viewed as unfavorable, but still acceptable in the right circumstances. In Rokugan the Asako is clearly in the wrong in almost every way, its unfortunate for sure, but that's how it all goes. Her immanent death is used as an excuse in Kamoko's argument, that it would save the Asako's life, but if she really wanted to save lives she would weight it against the thousands that would die if the Lion took insult. No, people dying isn't what is really on her mind, nor is it what sways the champion. What sways is the realization that behind the etiquette and the legalities of it all, beyond the pomp and show of Rokugani culture, this system of just throwing people into and out of marriages IS as wrong as she has come to find it to be. Rokugani aren't different from her and her clan, they love and weep for it being dashed simply for political convenience. There is a principle, a care for the individual that goes counter to the notions of Rokugani samurai that exists within the Unicorn and this simple Asako reminded her of that in a very real way. But instead of accepting the difference, instead of being the "us vs them" like its always been we see our Unicorn champion consider this. The unicorn weren't alone in their care for love and passion, the rest of the empire was just trapped in this iron hearted system. Compassion, not for just the Asako, but for the future of Rokugan and herself leads her to order the message of refusal sent. She could have done it and used the " you changed the terms" argument at ANY time to stay with the one she loved and the clan she cherishes, they point that out right away. No matter the excuse she can give she thought it was best to follow along, why fight a juggernaut that simply doesn't care. Love isn't a good enough excuse to Rokugan, who would seemingly never understand that notion from the Unicorn. But the Asako cared, enough to die for it, and if she cared others must as well. To the champion it BECAME an excuse.  

Making the Asako having to die, making it just about a woman dying to cause a divorce removes the agency and the risk the woman is clearly taking. He agency is gone and no longer would we have a heartbroken woman, shaming herself out of a desperate plea for an ideal and a love, but a woman that is fighting to save her life. The Unicorn Champion doesn't react to right a true wrong in their ideology then, she is just sparing the life of one asako while damning thousands. By making this about more then just stopping her seppuku it shows a fundamental difference in the Unicorn from the beginning. She is no longer looking at Rokugan as an entity that rejects their ways. She is now seeing Rokugani society as a whole having flaws, flaws she will no longer tolerate, no longer could tolerate, and flaws she believes her clan can fix. The Unicorn champion doesn't send the letter to save a single life, she doesn't even send it to save her own, something far more dangerous is behind this. She sends the letter to send a message, the Unicorn will reject the traditions forced on them. Instead of "bowing to her future", letting rokugan be rokugan, she and the Unicorn will challenge the traditions they find wrong for the betterment of all and only the emperor himself can deny that.

The Unicorn are no longer content to just keep their ways, the lessons and perspectives they have learned to themselves, they will "teach Rokugan to use Curved Swords".

This is a move that DRASTICALLY shifts the motive of the Unicorn. Instead of just enjoying their unique culture they are on the path to actively challenge the old ways and bring their lessons and beliefs into the heart of Rokugani culture itself. If they believe they have a better method they will look to spread it. It makes the Unicorn both insanely brave, but also incredibly dangerous, the worst fears on many of the more traditional clans.

The Unicorn/Phoenix conflict will be born out of this. The echoes of Ivory Edition's clash between traditionalists and progressives now follow the Unicorn. Its why this Unicorn champion might be the most important unicorn champion ever born in the setting. Unicorn are looking to actually change rokugan culture instead of just respecting their differences. The 200 year game of footsie is over, the boxing gloves are coming on.

 

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My issue with the swords and meishodo isn't that they are cultural differences that separate the Unicorn from the rest of the Empire, it's that the differences are presented in ways that seem inconsequential or dismissive.  After 200 years, the Unicorn think Rokugani dislike scimitars because they're curved? I imagine that there are deeper reasons than that and that they are aware of them.  It would have been nice to get a greater Unicorn perspective of how their blades and magic are just as traditional and sacred to them as katana are to other samurai.

A primary aspect of the Unicorn is that they have different traditions based on their history away from the Empire.  This was our first opportunity to get a glimpse of that from a Unicorn perspective.  But, it felt like they were only aware of the more obvious differences between them and the rest of Rokugan or didn't care about anything more.  This would be natural at first contact, but as time passed I'd expect the Unicorn to seek some understanding of the Empire many of their ancestors came from and an appreciation of how much has changed.

The marriage arrangement reflected this as well.  I can accept that they made the agreement without realizing what the Lion expected.  But, it should have become apparent soon thereafter, as details were worked out.  The Unicorn should have then been discussing their options internally, and there is some suggestion that they had.  It seems odd that those discussions didn't come to the conclusion reached here.  The fate of the Asako gave reason to reconsider, but didn't really change any of the conditions of the arrangement.  They could also have consulted with allies among the Crane and the Dragon about any precedent for a Clan Champion leaving their clan for another and shown they could adapt to the politics of the Empire and find an appropriate solution.  But, it would have been most interesting to get an idea of Unicorn marriage traditions and how they might conflict with the Ikoma's.  I really think it would have been better if it was Kamoko who was supposed to marry out, but was opposed to it based on Utaku traditions.

 

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19 minutes ago, TheItsyBitsySpider said:

<snip>

Excellent points, but this right here is exactly why I don't think I could ever really play the RPG.  I like the stories and the game, but I find the Rokugani social structure utterly atrocious, and I can't imagine playing a character who even wants to fit into it!  I suppose I could always be some sort of social rebel, but I imagine that would very quickly lead to being dishonored and either dead or running for my life.  (Could also lead to a rather negative experience for other players, unless they were all onboard with it.)

9 minutes ago, Kitsuki Edogawa said:

My issue with the swords and meishodo isn't that they are cultural differences that separate the Unicorn from the rest of the Empire, it's that the differences are presented in ways that seem inconsequential or dismissive.  After 200 years, the Unicorn think Rokugani dislike scimitars because they're curved? I imagine that there are deeper reasons than that and that they are aware of them.  It would have been nice to get a greater Unicorn perspective of how their blades and magic are just as traditional and sacred to them as katana are to other samurai.

I never got the impression that the Unicorn think the problem is just that the Rokugani don't like the curve of the scimitar.  Rather, I think the whole "straight vs curved" thing is just a colloquial way of referring to katana and scimitar.  It's not the Rokugani dislike the curve, per say, but rather that the curve is indicative of it not being a katana.  The Unicorn know this and counter with, "What makes your katana special to you is the same thing that makes our scimitar special to us."

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56 minutes ago, Doji Tori said:

Maybe the Crane weren't very picky because, as per the introductory article, they are the Unicorn's only ally.

Doesn't the Dragon fiction mention the Dragon having "alliance" with the Unicorn against the Lion? Something about having to choose to keep it or let it go for making buddies with the Phoenix.

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54 minutes ago, JJ48 said:

I never got the impression that the Unicorn think the problem is just that the Rokugani don't like the curve of the scimitar.  Rather, I think the whole "straight vs curved" thing is just a colloquial way of referring to katana and scimitar.  It's not the Rokugani dislike the curve, per say, but rather that the curve is indicative of it not being a katana.  The Unicorn know this and counter with, "What makes your katana special to you is the same thing that makes our scimitar special to us."

That's my point.  This story is from the Unicorn perspective and many of the references to curved blades is internal monologue, offering the opportunity to show their true view of the different weapons.  I believe they know the issue is more than the curvature of either blade and that they have their own cultural reasons for favoring the scimitar.  I wish that had been illustrated better in the story, as this is our first insight into those beliefs.

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Uh, I'm pretty sure divorces were a part of the setting in the AEG game too. I remember some of the RPG books reminding the leader that marriages have been called off due to many things, including war and diplomatic shenanigans. 

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1 hour ago, JJ48 said:

Excellent points, but this right here is exactly why I don't think I could ever really play the RPG.  I like the stories and the game, but I find the Rokugani social structure utterly atrocious, and I can't imagine playing a character who even wants to fit into it!  I suppose I could always be some sort of social rebel, but I imagine that would very quickly lead to being dishonored and either dead or running for my life.  (Could also lead to a rather negative experience for other players, unless they were all onboard with it.)

 

I totally understand, Rokugan in many ways is very different and in some cases morally abysmal. The challenge of making the setting work fully is very difficult. 

Heck, last game the Unicorn/Phoenix conflict was about the Moto blood ACTUALLY being spiritually lesser then "true Rokugani blood"... and according to the setting the phoenix were totally in the right!

The themes of the setting are supposed to be backward in many ways, just as its progressive in others.

It's a very weird set of pros and cons that make navigating it very difficult, but the whole Idea is that much of it is intentional. Every clan has created and used the system to protect and benefit themselves, they are all playing a crazy and messed up game that over a thousand years has turned into an apocalyptic nightmare. There is a reason that courtiers are often considered to be more vital then bushi, because the battle of customs, tradition, and etiquette is so powerful that even if you are right, in every way, if you say it wrong or sip your tea the wrong way its all for nothing. Its a setting I find so fascinating to read about. 
  

Edited by TheItsyBitsySpider
Why is **** blanked out??

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2 hours ago, Wintersong said:

Doesn't the Dragon fiction mention the Dragon having "alliance" with the Unicorn against the Lion? Something about having to choose to keep it or let it go for making buddies with the Phoenix.

You are correct, I forgot about that. One would assume the Unicorn gets something in return for those widows and widowers. The introduction to the fiction also mentions the Scorpion as being willing to form an alliance, but I also missed that one.

So... bad Crane courtier is bad?

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6 hours ago, tenchi2a said:

This is the worst fiction of the lot. Which is a shame as the Unicorns are up-there as one of my favorite clans, But I expected this when I saw who wrote it. 

1. Why would any Clan champion agree to a wedding to a lesser Family (any Family other then the Akodo) and give up their name and position. Just to resolve a argument over some land. And adding a new in-world tradition that brakes with the normal tradition of the person of lower status (the daimyō of the Ikoma family) takes the the higher status name and joins his/her family

2. Like some others the whole curved bladed/ meishōdō issue seems out of place. Its been 200 years get over it.

3. The divorce was the nail in the coffin for me on this fiction. 

 

This comment, and others before tend to assume a few things.  The biggest assumption is that Rokugan is a giant melting pot like USA, and each clan is a state.  Its more like Europe where Rokugan is all of Great Britain and each clan is like a country within it.  They have a political system that is above them all and the interaction that brings, but each clan is also pretty isolationist within Rokugan.  Unless you are a political diplomat, or Emerald Magistrate odds are greater you'll face another clan member across the field of battle than you will for tea.

Further though - some people have mentioned that the Unicorn are great at adapting, and that they have adapted before as they first left Rokugan...  Well I can't say all of the ol5r lore is intact at this point but the Ki-rin and Shinjo has a more specific culture cultivated within them.  They didn't just adapt to whomever they met, but rather met certain people whom they were intended to meld with.  Meishodo is specifically designed to be a magic that does not draw power from the Kami, and Shinjo always felt uneasy with it, she knew it took away her own power.  I would assume Meishodo would be like viewing a Southern Baptist worship after growing up devout Catholic.  Living near people, knowing about them, or even interacting with them doesn't always take away culture shock when you're thrust into their ordeal.

It doesn't matter how long the Unicorn are back in Rokugan - they are as firm on their traditions as the Rokugan are theirs.

2 hours ago, JJ48 said:

Excellent points, but this right here is exactly why I don't think I could ever really play the RPG.  I like the stories and the game, but I find the Rokugani social structure utterly atrocious, and I can't imagine playing a character who even wants to fit into it!  I suppose I could always be some sort of social rebel, but I imagine that would very quickly lead to being dishonored and either dead or running for my life.  (Could also lead to a rather negative experience for other players, unless they were all onboard with it.)

I never got the impression that the Unicorn think the problem is just that the Rokugani don't like the curve of the scimitar.  Rather, I think the whole "straight vs curved" thing is just a colloquial way of referring to katana and scimitar.  It's not the Rokugani dislike the curve, per say, but rather that the curve is indicative of it not being a katana.  The Unicorn know this and counter with, "What makes your katana special to you is the same thing that makes our scimitar special to us."

Exactly why the Mantis should remain a minor clan.  Raising them to Major clan status holds them to the standards of Rokugan that they can avoid as minor clans.  Better they keep their character than get shoehorned into the awkward roles of the major clans.

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5 hours ago, Mig el Pig said:

Where did they say it was a written treaty? Even today an oral agreement can still bind you. Imagine in an honor society where your word is everything. Perhaps the Unicorn verbally accepted the offer of marriage before considering all the details. It wasn't just the marriage that was being negotiated but also a dowry, transfer of land and probably a whole other minor deals.

If they didn't get that in writing, it's even worse. Particularly since, unlike many of your examples, they sat down to make that specific deal.

Land and the marriages of important people are pretty much the only things that every Rokugani agree upon as vitally important matters.

5 hours ago, Mig el Pig said:

- GB accepted the Congo Free State claim on (resource rich) Katanga by accident.

 Given how Leopold ran that whole thing through smoke and mirrors? No. They accepted it because they'd been tricked.

 

Just now, shosuko said:

This comment, and others before tend to assume a few things.  The biggest assumption is that Rokugan is a giant melting pot like USA, and each clan is a state.  Its more like Europe where Rokugan is all of Great Britain and each clan is like a country within it.  They have a political system that is above them all and the interaction that brings, but each clan is also pretty isolationist within Rokugan.  Unless you are a political diplomat, or Emerald Magistrate odds are greater you'll face another clan member across the field of battle than you will for tea.

Two. Hundred. Years.

Including fighting the Lion upon arrival, meaning the eventual peace treaty presumably involved some marriages and probably the exchange of hostages, Rokugan being Rokugan.

And those "political diplomats" you refer to are exactly the people who should have been drafting this agreement, since it involved the marriage of their Clan Champion to a daimyo of another Clan.

Just now, shosuko said:

Further though - some people have mentioned that the Unicorn are great at adapting, and that they have adapted before as they first left Rokugan...  Well I can't say all of the ol5r lore is intact at this point but the Ki-rin and Shinjo has a more specific culture cultivated within them.

No one disputes that.

The point is that in their travels, they had to make allowances for the weirdos they encountered, even if it was just figuring out how to kill them or not get ripped off. They had to be able to at least somewhat understand the cultures they encountered, or they would not have survived.

Just now, shosuko said:

They didn't just adapt to whomever they met, but rather met certain people whom they were intended to meld with.

No. They had plenty of dealings with people they had no intention of melding with whatsoever. Unless you mean to say they had no peaceful interaction with anyone but the Moto for eight hundred years, which is patently bunk.

Just now, shosuko said:

It doesn't matter how long the Unicorn are back in Rokugan - they are as firm on their traditions as the Rokugan are theirs.

That's not the point. Their failure to do what they had done so often during their centuries away is.

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@Shiba Gunichi

USA has been near Mexico and Canada both for 200 years and many American's don't know the holidays of these nations.  Even delegates to foreign countries do not always know the customs of those they are seeking to interact with, and this includes modern technology and resources...

I do not put it passed the Unicorn to have agreed to terms they thought were acceptable in this arrangement before all details were divulged.  Its called buyers remorse, and its very real.  The fiction does not sell the story well on this part, but as I stated before - I'm a salesman and my job is often about relating details in ways that make them appear appealing even if they would be problematic if considered in a more level state of mind.  As I've heard it said before "The problem with rose colored glasses, is all the red flags just look like flags." 

Edited by shosuko

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3 minutes ago, Casanunda said:

Well, technically we've only been a country for 150, but I get your point.  Still, while everyday people know little of foreign customs, foreign diplomats (i.e. courtiers, advisors) certainly should.

Do they?  How often do we hear of USA Ambassadors causing some issue with foreign dignitaries because they did not understand the customs?  That happens even in peaceful relations.  More than that - countries that are at war, such as Palestine vs Israel have a lot of cloak and dagger politics to try and "expose" the other on the international political scene.  Being an ambassador isn't always about knowing every detail about whom you deal with, its mostly about your ability to get along with people and simply be assertive without being offensive.  They're often there to represent their nation's will, not necessarily decode another culture.  They may even speak entirely through translators...

Its also not necessarily fact that they did not know about this thing from the beginning, but that it may have been spun through oversimplification, misdirection, false equivalence, or some other trickery, enticement, or political leverage to gain an agreement in the moment - leaving the Unicorn Champion with buyers remorse.

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