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Curved Blades - Unicorn Fiction

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Hmm... I like the duality. I like the idea of schisms. 

I heard back in the day that they were thinking of having Kokujin conquer a big chunk of the Dragon lands. If we had a bunch of mad monks could be pretty cool. 

I would like to see more faces of the Crane. Althiugh peace making Crane  just don't have much of a place in a war. 

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33 minutes ago, Devin-the-Poet said:

Hmm... I like the duality. I like the idea of schisms. 

I heard back in the day that they were thinking of having Kokujin conquer a big chunk of the Dragon lands. If we had a bunch of mad monks could be pretty cool. 

I would like to see more faces of the Crane. Althiugh peace making Crane  just don't have much of a place in a war. 

Coincidentally they had a very violent civil war in the story arc between the more militant Daidoji and the more peaceful Doji.  The Daidoji don't play games like the rest of the Crane do, they would make the Scorpion proud with how low they can go to get the job done...  They were the cause of Arasou's death in the ol5r fiction and it didn't let Arasou die honorably in open war either...

Ya know - thinking about it the duality and the sensei and 4 wind cards from before...  Maybe if the clan and family daimyo, and other major figures could have a card showing who you support, and what small bonus there is from their support.  This could be how Shadowlands gets back in, as you could have a Fu Leng or Iuchiban as the figurehead of your deck and they could use this as a basis for whether your deck is "corrupted" or not, regardless of the cards in it...

Anyway... wishful thinking lol

Edited by shosuko

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5 hours ago, Anemura said:

Maho is tied to the Phoenix because it represents the dark half of Shugenja magic.

Excuse me for reducing your post to just a single point, but I felt the need to correct this misapprehension.  Maho is specifically able to be used by anyone.  The peasant who is rebellious of his superiors and gets drawn into a cult can be taught maho by a kansen.  The bushi who is jealous of a preistly relative can learn maho etc.  That is why the Tsukai-sagasu go through villages and everywhere.

It was one of the things that annoyed me about all of the tsukai cards being Shugenja.

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7 hours ago, Anemura said:

Maho is tied to the Phoenix because it represents the dark half of Shugenja magic.

No. It represents the temptation of corrupt magic anyone can use. For that reason, stapling it to the Phoenix has always struck me as incredibly stupid. Yes, the Tribe of Isawa used "pure" blood magic back in the day.  They were also the first to turn away from it.

This is setting aside my other contention, which is that maho is stupid, boring, and narratively lazy and that it's really a lame cop-out just about every time it's used.

7 hours ago, Anemura said:

You're right, it remains the "go-to" descriptor to highlight the negative aspect of the clan.

My gripe is that it remains the go-to descriptor for the clan as a whole in the popular imagination of many fans, because, once again, the Phoenix were inextricably tied to popping open Black Scrolls like Pez dispensers ( a flippant summation of far weightier actions, done that way to make the popular perception clear)

7 hours ago, Anemura said:

Given that the original story was building towards the Day of Thunder, it made sense to introduce dark magic to the Clan War environment -- and to the Phoenix in particular. Great power, greater responsibility. I suppose it would have helped to have 2-3 Masters remain untainted, but there was only Kaede. I think that's a debatable point for sure.

And had any other aspect of the Phoenix gotten half as much screen time, the metafictional damage might have been mitigated. But it really didn't.

7 hours ago, Anemura said:

As to the entire Clan receiving more stories of collective heroism: These are generally not as frequent as those stories where clans are villified, or portrayed as conquerors. Strange... I too would like the Phoenix to do good work as a collective. I just hope that doesn't translate to a squeeky clean, tepid depiction of the clan. Because that doesn't move the needle in any significant sense. 

You don't need to be Pollyana to occasionally be the good guys. But most importantly, if your depictions are inevitably evil, misguided, or bureaucratically pointless, you're not going to recover from a "those guys are just Bloodspeakers with better PR" debut.

6 hours ago, shosuko said:

I think it's good to have a duality of the positives and negatives of the clan - but I guess the biggest take away I have about the Phoenix here is that the goods weren't as prominent as the bads.

Generally speaking, the Phoenix, when they mattered on the "good" side of things, did so by giving the "real" heroes of the tale the information they needed. It got old in a hurry.

Part of why the pro-maho boneheads got such a toehold in the Phoneix fanbase is that Asako Kinuye and her Bloodspeakers did stuff.

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1 hour ago, Tonbo Karasu said:

Excuse me for reducing your post to just a single point, but I felt the need to correct this misapprehension.  Maho is specifically able to be used by anyone.  The peasant who is rebellious of his superiors and gets drawn into a cult can be taught maho by a kansen.  The bushi who is jealous of a preistly relative can learn maho etc.  That is why the Tsukai-sagasu go through villages and everywhere.

It was one of the things that annoyed me about all of the tsukai cards being Shugenja.

 

You are correct, Maho can be used by anyone. However, Maho is more often used by Shugenja because they have ready access to Maho-teaching Kansen. It's corruption magic, after all. A Bushi can learn the art, but needs a Shugenja or Spirit to teach them the dark arts. The same applies to the untrained peasant. This is why Shugenja make for 'easier' transitions to corrupt magic users. They have less distance to go. 

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28 minutes ago, Shiba Gunichi said:

Yes, the Tribe of Isawa used "pure" blood magic back in the day.  They were also the first to turn away from it.

Minor nitpick: They were the only ones using it, so being first to stop doesn't exactly mean much.
For instance, Agasha wasn't cutting herself to fuel her magic pre-Kami's fall the way Isawa was. ;)

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12 minutes ago, Bayushi Tsubaki said:

Minor nitpick: They were the only ones using it, so being first to stop doesn't exactly mean much.
For instance, Agasha wasn't cutting herself to fuel her magic pre-Kami's fall the way Isawa was. ;)

Considering the Phoenix "created*" the concept of shugenja as they now exist?

It's significant.

 

 

* Continuity, of course, has blithered in multiple directions on this subject, and the Dawn of the Empire sure produced a heck of a lot of shugenja before Shinsei showed Isawa the ropes, but... yeah.

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I mean specifically maho, not all magic.
Maho, as a practice, is a legacy of the Tribe of Isawa, not all early shugenja. So yes, they (mostly) quit when the Fortunes were adopted and spread to cover the entire empire, thus negating their ability to protect the style from the influence of Jigoku, but since there were no non-Isawa using maho, attributing them to being the first to quit seems silly, IMO.

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2 minutes ago, Bayushi Tsubaki said:

I mean specifically maho, not all magic.
Maho, as a practice, is a legacy of the Tribe of Isawa, not all early shugenja. So yes, they (mostly) quit when the Fortunes were adopted and spread to cover the entire empire, thus negating their ability to protect the style from the influence of Jigoku, but since there were no non-Isawa using maho, attributing them to being the first to quit seems silly, IMO.

Since the Kuni were actually the ones who codified post- "impure" maho, and were the first to fall to it? I think the distinction is highly relevant.

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The Kuni fell to impure maho before the Tribe of Isawa? That... doesn't sound right. Takeshi and the True Sons of Isawa seem to refute that.

(Or rather, while Kuni Nakanu is responsible for naming, codifying, etc the Taint, the Isawa were aware of the impurity of maho because of Takeshi's folly, which was years before Nakanu.)

Edited by Bayushi Tsubaki

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3 hours ago, Shiba Gunichi said:

No. It represents the temptation of corrupt magic anyone can use. For that reason, stapling it to the Phoenix has always struck me as incredibly stupid. Yes, the Tribe of Isawa used "pure" blood magic back in the day.  They were also the first to turn away from it.

This is setting aside my other contention, which is that maho is stupid, boring, and narratively lazy and that it's really a lame cop-out just about every time it's used.

My gripe is that it remains the go-to descriptor for the clan as a whole in the popular imagination of many fans, because, once again, the Phoenix were inextricably tied to popping open Black Scrolls like Pez dispensers ( a flippant summation of far weightier actions, done that way to make the popular perception clear)

And had any other aspect of the Phoenix gotten half as much screen time, the metafictional damage might have been mitigated. But it really didn't.

You don't need to be Pollyana to occasionally be the good guys. But most importantly, if your depictions are inevitably evil, misguided, or bureaucratically pointless, you're not going to recover from a "those guys are just Bloodspeakers with better PR" debut.

Generally speaking, the Phoenix, when they mattered on the "good" side of things, did so by giving the "real" heroes of the tale the information they needed. It got old in a hurry.

Part of why the pro-maho boneheads got such a toehold in the Phoneix fanbase is that Asako Kinuye and her Bloodspeakers did stuff.

 

If we posit that another story aspect of the Phoenix could have mitigated the damage caused by the opening of the Black Scrolls, then we are saying that the Clan War story did not itself set up the permanent perception of the Phoenix. We are saying that other Phoenix stories were not strong enough to become the new standard. Therefore, it's a function of how well the Phoenix stories are consistently written, not how they are first written. 

Maho is just a vehicle. It's only "stupid, boring and lazy" if it's made to be that way in the writing.

On why Maho is "stapled" to the Phoenix: From my understanding, Shugenja are the most apt to explore Maho because they can directly communicate with Kansen that can teach it to them. If that's true in the FFG cannon, then it makes logical sense as to why Maho is prevalent within the Phoenix -- They have the most Shugenja and are always pushing for knowledge. Sometimes that knowledge can hurt. That's just the price of always searching. 

I think there's great potential in telling Maho-based stories within the Phoenix. A Taryu-Jiai between a Tsukai and a Master would be entertaining. Or, discovering the subtle influence Maho has on Shugenja training, a la the Jedi/Sith motif. Or, explore the plight of a Tsukai that is desperately trying to do good in the empire before the end. It's all there. Just a matter of crafting well written stories. 

Edited by Anemura

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13 hours ago, Anemura said:

Tadaka's main motivation to fight the Shadowlands was based on revenge, not hubris. He hated the Shadowlands because of what happened with his ancestor Akuma. That incident fueled his passion to find new ways to defeat the Shadowlands. Here's an excerpt from the source material about it:"[Tadaka] had seen more evil and danger than most any Elemental Master could ever dream -- and has been the source of more destruction towards the denizens of the Shadowlands than even the Kuni know" (Page 76, ***).  Meaning, he used what he learned in the Crab lands and in the Shadowlands against the Shadowlands itself -- to a measure that few could hope to match. Awful deeds without meaningful knowledge indeed... 

I'm fairly sure the Tadaka did nothing wrong until that point. He was just trying to destroy Akuma no Oni, and he used totally legal knowledge acquired through official channels. There wasn't even a lot of knowledge-seeking here, and definitely no price to pay. But then this story was dropped (and largely forgotten) when Tadaka disappeared in the Shadowlands, and when he showed up again, it was Black-Scrolls-o-Clock. 

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3 hours ago, Anemura said:

Maho is just a vehicle. It's only "stupid, boring and lazy" if it's made to be that way in the writing.

I always felt it was not fleshed out correctly. (see below for my write-up of maho for an idea)  It always seemed to come across more as "Necromancy", than as an alternative magical source. 

On why Maho is "stapled" to the Phoenix: From my understanding, Shugenja are the most apt to explore Maho because they can directly communicate with Kansen that can teach it to them. If that's true in the FFG cannon, then it makes logical sense as to why Maho is prevalent within the Phoenix -- They have the most Shugenja and are always pushing for knowledge. Sometimes that knowledge can hurt. That's just the price of always searching. 

Again, my view has always been a little different.  Maho access should be less shugenja based (as they can already cast spells, so why go messing with "tainted" magics).

MAHO

Backstory:

In the time before the fall of the Kami, the Tribe of Isawa were the first men to discover and practiced a form of magic.  It relied in the worshipping of the Seven Fortunes with blood offerings to obtain their blessing (magic effect).  It was primarily a ritualistic practice with many spellcasters joining together and contributing their blood in the effort.  If the sacrifice was accepted, the Fortunes ordered the kami to perform the requested task.

The Seven Fortunes, in return, protected the Tribe and kept the practice of blood magic, known as maho, safe and free from corruption.  This was a necessity since with the coming of Fu Leng, corruption spilled into the world and blood shed as part of the maho casting drew the attention of kansen.  Kansen were elemental kami that had become corrupted by the power of Jigoku when Fu Leng punched a hole into Rokugan (the Festering Pit).

                When the Kami Shiba saw the Seven were not wicked gods, he begged Hantei to beseech their mother Amaterasu to accept the Seven Fortunes among their pantheon and greet the Isawa as allies. She agreed, but only as long as the Seven Fortunes always watched over her mortal children of Rokugan. In spreading themselves over so wide a populace, the Fortunes could no longer keep the blood magic free of Jigoku's touch as they once had.

                To compensate for the loss of magic, the Kami instructed the Tribe of Isawa in the practice of Elemental Magic, where humanity would interact directly with the kami instead of through a mediator.  Unfortunately where maho could be practiced by anyone who knew the incantations and willing made the blood sacrifice, only those with a special gift to hear and speak with the kami could utilize this new method of magic.  This greatly upset those who could no longer use magic, and many continued to practice maho heedless of the warnings (they had been using maho for years without problems).  When caught, those practicing maho were cast out of the tribe, so maho sorcery became a secret hidden from society.

                Kansen raced to the lands of the Isawa, eager to partake of the blood sacrifices.  Soon, those who practiced maho began to notice changes.  They no longer needed to sacrifice their own blood.  Any human blood would do, and their spells were more powerful than they were prior to the birth of elemental magic as the kansen were eager to keep the blood flowing and overperformed the tasks asked of them (at least initially).  In time, the kansen grew stronger on the blood sacrifices and were able to communicate directly with humans.  Teaching them both new incantations (the Maho spells in the RPG guides), and instructing new tsukai in practice and incantations for the "normal" spells that the elemental kami provide.

                In time, the connection between using maho and the taint was discovered.  Unlike active taint (which you get by being in the shadowlands without jade), the taint aquired by maho is simply a side effect of dealing with the corrupted kansen.  Following the death and dishonor of Kuni Nakanu, maho was finally declared illegal and its use was to be punishable by death.

This view also brings helps to outline the Phoenix distrust of Meishodo.  They see all none elemental magic as maho, or a version of it.  They have no understanding of magic (historically or currently) that does not included bargaining with either a Fortune or a kami.  They cannot even perceive of name magic (as they have never been exposed to it).  The Phoenix probably believe that the Iuchi have trapped a kami within their trinkets, and are forcing it to perform (like a master-slave relationship). 

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21 minutes ago, RandomJC said:

Well, I guess I'll take the maho over the curved/not curved/super curved argument. :P

Also, what? That was some pretty spectacular substance right there, friend. Did you not have popcorn? You should have had popcorn.

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