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[New fiction]In The Garden of Lies

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17 hours ago, Dovla said:

bisexual pretty boy who is not into swords (unless under the sheets) or philosophy and plays a guitar really well? nice touch to it, i like it

I ran back to re-read the Scorpion fiction and was dismayed that Kachiko did gender the Yogo she said she could recommend to Shoju...  Was hoping it might be Hiroue :wub:

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17 minutes ago, shosuko said:

I ran back to re-read the Scorpion fiction and was dismayed that Kachiko did gender the Yogo she said she could recommend to Shoju...  Was hoping it might be Hiroue :wub:

Nah, that would be too gay for me, this is enough

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7 hours ago, shineyorkboy said:

Nonsense. The Kolat's philosophy is rooted in taking the teachings of the Tao to their logical conclusion. The Perfect Land Sect is just making stuff up.

Taking a religious text's teachings to their logical conclusion isn't a terribly realistic motivation for humans. Striving for paradise in the afterlife, when your life in the hear-and-now sucks, is. 

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11 minutes ago, Rawls said:

Taking a religious text's teachings to their logical conclusion isn't a terribly realistic motivation for humans. Striving for paradise in the afterlife, when your life in the hear-and-now sucks, is. 

We are an enlightened order of philosophers who will establish a perfect order under our leadership in this life and the next. They're delusional.

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1 hour ago, shineyorkboy said:

We are an enlightened order of philosophers who will establish a perfect order under our leadership in this life and the next. They're delusional.

One man's delusion is another man's revelation. This is the stuff interesting conflicts are made of. 

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3 hours ago, shosuko said:

I ran back to re-read the Scorpion fiction and was dismayed that Kachiko did gender the Yogo she said she could recommend to Shoju...  Was hoping it might be Hiroue :wub:

I am all for showing non-hetro relationships in the setting.  I think that's great.  I want to see what this new Yogo can get up to as a seducer of everyone.

I am definitely not ok with everyone suddenly being gay.  That would just be nonsense pandering, and would be incredibly annoying.  

Note: I have no reason to believe they will take it that far.

Edited by Yogo Gohei

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Great story for all the above mentions.  A few random observations:

- Two-sword drawing in iaijutsu is still a thing apparently?  *sigh*  Physically impossible but never mind.

- Cross-family training looks to be much more common in this Rokugan (it's showing up in the first general fiction.  While some clans did it a lot in original l5r (lots of Kakita-trained Doji and vice-versa, lots of Bayushi-trained Shosuro, quite a few Isawa-trained Asako) it was never really a Dragon thing.  Guess it is now.

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Let me see...

- First note, I have no emotional attachment to any characters appearing in this fiction. City of Lies is not my childhood! My only emotional connection with Hiroue is "goddamn i hate this card" :P.

 

- The opening line is fun, as it highlights the contrast between the way things are done in the City of Lies (through subterfuge and trickery!), and the way dueling works - clear, straightforward, righteous and just. It catches the attention of the reader and suggests that something out of place is going on. And if you aren't invested enough in the setting to know the old lore about the Iaijutsu being basically western duels where God/Fate decides the winner and retroactively proves them right (bleh), you the highlighting on how different Iaijutsu is from City of LIES, WINK WINK, allows you to piece it together yourself. A solid opening line! Though one could feel tempted to make it little more colorful by making the contrast stronger adding some other words than clear. But that's a temptation that leads towards the dark path of paragraphs unbroken by a ". " :P

- Of course, this being a drity Scorpion fiction, all the pretense of Iaijutsu dueling being pure manifestation of samurais will, their sincerity deciding to speak through blades not words, is dropped. Some world building and arguing, showcasing that duels are yet another tool to progress the Clan's agenda, and that Scorpion can see a win in a lose, and sometimes are even willing to lose on purpose (. hate that trope, way too overused) to achieve that secret win condition. A nice clash of perspectives that shows that decision making units are not hive mind - and that disagreeing with your superior while offering your input isn't anything weird, as long as you are respectful. 

 

- I'm pretty sure there is already a flamestorm somewhere (facebook, probably) about Mirumoto duelist drawing two swords instead of starting with them drawn. I personally don't care that much and think that double-draw is cool, and AFAIK the O5R lore changed its mind about Mirumoto double-drew multiple times per RPG edition, so :P. 

- It's nice to see some Niten Badassery. Best duelists in the Empire etc

- Duel itself was a surprise for me, to say the truth. I didn't expect the second fic of this author to start with a iaijutsu duel, dunno why :P. But I like how it was overall implemented. While previous duels we could observe in the fictions so far focused a lot on the ephemeral action and flow of combat, this one took a very different approach. The duelists and their swords aren't the main focus here. It's almost as if everything other than them - the surroundings, the audience - was more important than the actual...actors. A lot of this setup and language reminds me of a stage drama. While the event itself should be the main dish of the night, the way the fiction presents it paints it totally opposite - the duel is just a mere background to everything else, with the duelists being puppets playing their role in a story, with little will of their own. Well, at least for the Scorpion duelist; the Dragon is an active and important party in herself, and she gets a rather interesting description, but everything important about her is outside the actual act of dueling. Kind of like when dueling, she was reduced to a puppet in Scorpion plans, temporarily losing her status as a real full person. Which I guess drives a certain point...

Overall, while I think this approach towards dueling - focusing on everything and everyone else, using it as a pretext for many other things - is interesting and worked really well in this story, I think I would get really fed up with it if it became a standard routine thing. But thats the thing with duels, I guess.

- Leaving the duel aside, the way Hiroue interacts with the governor speaks a lot about him. It paints a picture of a man very in control of his mask, and who makes sure to carefully pick each of his words...while leaving a lot of them to himself. He is smart, but also not blindly-obedient. You could tell that if he could get away with doing what he thinks is smarter and better than his superiors, he would. I like this type of Scorpion character; he seems like a good positive Scorpion archetype for a protagonist. Clever and tricky, not afraid of underhanded methods, but also relatively self-sacrificing and doesn't smell like pointlessly cruel. Just a pragmatic man trying to do his duty. I hope for more Scorpions like this, so the antagonists who go more villainous have a stronger contrast to show that path of a Scorpion is truly devastating for the best of samurai, demanding tons and only offering vile temptations in exchange. 

- Fabio Hiroue being the first official Scorpion Seducer makes me smile. Good.

- I'm glad that Hiroue avoided the pitfall of Super Competent Sexy Scorpion. He strategizes and approaches his challenges in an intelligent manner, and he understands well that not everything works for everyone. He even makes a mistake (by entering a topic he realizes is way beyond his capabilities). Overall, he strikes a good balance between "Overcompetent and annoying" and "Incompetent and annoying", being good enough to be cool, but also not good enough to be relatable. 

It is also a good lore building snippet, showcasing some of the tools that Scorpion social wizards use. "Wait and hope for the best" is sometimes the only thing you can do :P. Wish we could see some analytic approach towards combat, similar to this, in the future. Would pay $$$ for a duelist who observes people on screen and breaks them down into tiny chunks of information, also on screen, until she realizes what exactly to do when their blades meet. 

 

- The religious segment was fun. You can see that Dragon person is really into it, and Hiroue is all like "TACTICAL RETREAT, ABORT, DAMAGE CONTROL, REGROOOOOOUP" :P. 

 

- Age of Declining Virtue is a catchy title. Would make a good video game subtitle.

 

As for the actual text of the story...I like it, though I'm not that big on a political scorpion scorpioning (I'm a person who prefers martially inclined investigators or "courtly bushi", with the emphasis on bushi :P), it still was enjoyable. I think it did a great job of giving a picture of Hiroues mind and MO.  

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10 hours ago, shineyorkboy said:

Nonsense. The Kolat's philosophy is rooted in taking the teachings of the Tao to their logical conclusion. The Perfect Land Sect is just making stuff up.

No, the Kolat is about a bunch of black market crime bosses with brainwashed servants PRETENDING they are taking the Tao to its logical conclusion, when really they are just protecting their own personal best interests.

 

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4 hours ago, Laurence J Sinclair said:

The denizens of the City of Lies have plenty of Crabs.

The Crab is a Lie?

2 hours ago, shineyorkboy said:

We are an enlightened order of philosophers who will establish a perfect order under our leadership in this life and the next. They're delusional.

No more so than any real-world religion.

Edited by Coyote Walks
spelling

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30 minutes ago, WHW said:

- I'm pretty sure there is already a flamestorm somewhere (facebook, probably) about Mirumoto duelist drawing two swords instead of starting with them drawn. I personally don't care that much and think that double-draw is cool, and AFAIK the O5R lore changed its mind about Mirumoto double-drew multiple times per RPG edition, so :P. 

Oh there are a great many flamestorms (most are on the now-inaccessible AEG boards but there are others around the internetz) and the RPG definitely went back and forth multiple times.  The final verdict was in The Book of Air which unambiguously stated that some Mirumoto practice a two-sword draw.  It bothers me as an iaido practitioner since drawing a sword requires two hands (short version: one pulls the sword, the other pulls back the saya.  For more details check out the myriad other discussions) but I also recognize that I'm being the screaming nerd in the back arguing about the suspension of disbelief in a made-up game about magical samurai.  For 99% of fans it won't make a difference and I know I'm the outlier but every time I see this depicted in fiction it shocks me out of Rokugan.

In other news:

297.png

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While it would be nothing but a hindrance for the duelist (slows the draw, dulls the sword, ruins the saya) my sensei has shown that dual draws are feasible.  Not practical but possible.  But I just keep telling myself this is also a world where kami will manifest and do real stuff just because the right guy read something off the right scroll.  My suspension of disbelief allows it.  

My only issue was that they made the duel more cinematic. Flash of steel, people moving to fast to see, end up on other sides of each other, and one is cut, the other is not.  It just seems boring and overdone for dueling.  As someone who's studied it in real life too, I'd like to see a more realistic take, instead of cinematic.  

But this is a minor complaint for what is overall a phenomenal story, well written, and with a good cliffhanger.  I'm waiting with bated breath for the conclusion.

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12 minutes ago, dalarpguy42 said:

While it would be nothing but a hindrance for the duelist (slows the draw, dulls the sword, ruins the saya) my sensei has shown that dual draws are feasible.  Not practical but possible.  But I just keep telling myself this is also a world where kami will manifest and do real stuff just because the right guy read something off the right scroll.  My suspension of disbelief allows it.  

My only issue was that they made the duel more cinematic. Flash of steel, people moving to fast to see, end up on other sides of each other, and one is cut, the other is not.  It just seems boring and overdone for dueling.  As someone who's studied it in real life too, I'd like to see a more realistic take, instead of cinematic.  

But this is a minor complaint for what is overall a phenomenal story, well written, and with a good cliffhanger.  I'm waiting with bated breath for the conclusion.

One of the reasons I enjoyed this fiction was that the description of the duel helped characterise Hiroue better. It doesn't only tell you, you can see that he is no duelist, both because of the things he misses and because of how his attention drifts to other matters.

I think that type of narrator is better suited for a cinematic style than a more detailed one, because, ironically, it makes it feel more real. It also sets up a beautiful contrast in case we get latter a narrator capable of dissecting a duel.

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Eh, if we can't have double draw, what about drawing a single sword but using the sheath in place of wakizashi. Extra style points, too :P. 

"-Why is Kakita san sporting a black eye? 

-He was in a duel.

-But...I thought it was to first blood...?

-He got sheathed to the face after Mirumoto san met his blade with her own.

-LOL SCRUB"

 

Edited by WHW

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20 minutes ago, Doji Tori said:

I think that type of narrator is better suited for a cinematic style than a more detailed one, because, ironically, it makes it feel more real. It also sets up a beautiful contrast in case we get latter a narrator capable of dissecting a duel.

Hmm... I hadn't even considered the unreliable narrator aspect.  Is the duel cinematic because this is a cinematic world or because it's described with a perspective sympathetic to a character who would see the duel in cinematic terms?  God I love this game.

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5 hours ago, shineyorkboy said:

We are an enlightened order of philosophers who will establish a perfect order under our leadership in this life and the next. They're delusional.

Just to be clear for those without a comprehensive knowledge of the old setting, the Kolat were formed by some of the people who held power in Rokugan before the coming of the Kami. They found it unacceptable that they had been displaced at the top of the food chain, and started a conspiracy (mostly criminal in nature) in an effort to further their own return to power. Much later the Kolat began developing a philosophical justification for the actions they had taken, that justification being that humanity should rule itself, rather than bow to the celestial order. But their primary short-term goal is almost always the accumulation of power for themselves.

Amusingly enough, the canon of the old L5R was that if the Kolat ever actually managed to achieve their theoretical end goal of deposing the gods and freezing the cosmic cycle, this would have resulted in the destruction of the universe.

Of course, we have no idea what the details of the Kolat are in new L5R, assuming they exist.

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2 hours ago, suburbaknght said:

Oh there are a great many flamestorms (most are on the now-inaccessible AEG boards but there are others around the internetz) and the RPG definitely went back and forth multiple times.  The final verdict was in The Book of Air which unambiguously stated that some Mirumoto practice a two-sword draw.  It bothers me as an iaido practitioner since drawing a sword requires two hands (short version: one pulls the sword, the other pulls back the saya.  For more details check out the myriad other discussions) but I also recognize that I'm being the screaming nerd in the back arguing about the suspension of disbelief in a made-up game about magical samurai.  For 99% of fans it won't make a difference and I know I'm the outlier but every time I see this depicted in fiction it shocks me out of Rokugan.

In other news:

 

If you used a katana and wakizashi that were on the shorter end you could easily double draw.  Many people either assume there is 1 standardized length for a sword to be, or tend to want the longer sword for the advantage of reach... but if you forgo reach in favor of being able to draw a blade quickly with just 1 hand you could apply some unorthodox styles to catch your opponent's off guard.  I don't imagine you would draw them at the same time, but the advantage of 2 swords against 1 is kinda obvious.  In 1 sword vs 1 sword the main issue becomes - how do you get by your opponent's sword while still using your sword to strike.  In 2 sword vs 1 sword you use one of them as a parry instrument and the other to strike.  I would imagine drawing the katana with the opponent's draw to hold their blade aside while drawing the wakizashi to give a quick stab or slice while their sword is bound up with yours.

3 hours ago, Yogo Gohei said:

I am all for showing non-hetro relationships in the setting.  I think that's great.  I want to see what this new Yogo can get up to as a seducer of everyone.

I am definitely not ok with everyone suddenly being gay.  That would just be nonsense pandering, and would be incredibly annoying.  

Note: I have no reason to believe they will take it that far.

I'm not saying Shoju is gay, I'm just saying it would have been fun for Kachiko to infer it.  (yeah, I read too much yaoi)

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2 minutes ago, shosuko said:

(yeah, I read too much yaoi)

No such thing! ;-)

 

1 hour ago, Doji Tori said:

I think that type of narrator is better suited for a cinematic style than a more detailed one, because, ironically, it makes it feel more real. It also sets up a beautiful contrast in case we get latter a narrator capable of dissecting a duel.

Since I used to do combat choreography for theatre and literally wrote an ebook about writing fight scenes, you can bet your tabi that I will do this the moment I get a suitable scenario for it. :-D

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I want a fic where a really bored Shiba Yojimbo zones out during some political scene and starts imagining all sort of scenarios, like "what if ninja suddenly attack", "what if the guy sitting to my left suddenly charges us with a tetsubo", and other stuff that usually ends with the room bathing in blood.

Keeping the mind occupied and training at the same time, and all that jazz. 

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"Wow, this is so boring. I wonder what would happen if this turned sour. This guy looks strong, from the way he sits I suspect he trained under tutelage of Master Crane. Never fought a Master Crane student. I wonder if their Rising Swallow Cut is really as good as they say. I think I would have to counter it in this way...but what about that guy? If I defend by attacking here, my charge is all open from this side. I guess I would have to cut their heads off in one swoop? 

...

I wish Ninja did exist..."

*Later, at night, a servant brings Shiba-chan a letter. It's from the Master Crane Student-kun*
"Dear Shiba Yojimbo Chan,

Here is some obligatory poetry,

I noticed you couldn't take your eyes off me

It was a great honor

And it isn't the only thing that's great

If you catch my style"

And thats what Shiba Yojimbo chan gets from staring at a guy for 30 minutes, pondering about whats the best way to gut him in a unlikely case he turns out to be a hired assassin.

Shiba Yojimbo chan sadly lives a very peaceful life.

 

 

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3 minutes ago, WHW said:

"Wow, this is so boring. I wonder what would happen if this turned sour. This guy looks strong, from the way he sits I suspect he trained under tutelage of Master Crane. Never fought a Master Crane student. I wonder if their Rising Swallow Cut is really as good as they say. I think I would have to counter it in this way...but what about that guy? If I defend by attacking here, my charge is all open from this side. I guess I would have to cut their heads off in one swoop? 

...

I wish Ninja did exist..."

*Later, at night, a servant brings Shiba-chan a letter. It's from the Master Crane Student-kun*
"Dear Shiba Yojimbo Chan,

Here is some obligatory poetry,

I noticed you couldn't take your eyes off me

It was a great honor

And it isn't the only thing that's great

If you catch my style"

And thats what Shiba Yojimbo chan gets from staring at a guy for 30 minutes, pondering about whats the best way to gut him in a unlikely case he turns out to be a hired assassin.

Shiba Yojimbo chan sadly lives a very peaceful life.

You're halfway to a complete fanfic. :-)

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