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From the Office of the Imperial Magistrates


Recent events in the Imperial City have revealed just how ill-knowledged samurai are on their own holdings. Combined with the loss of 2/3 of the yoriki of the city, this has lead to several instances of merchants attempting to reach beyond their station. It is strongly advised for all samurai caste who deal with merchants or have been given any type of governorship to familiarize themselves with the basics of Rokugan’s economy as to prevent such incidents from occurring again.

Seppun Samanosuke




This is obviously a merchant skill. It allows for the buying and selling of goods for one’s lord for the purpose of gaining profit as well as knowledge of extended mathematics. Most samurai will not deal with this skill.....in public. In private clan matters, having a knowledge of this skill is useful, as it goes nicely with...


This is a high skill for samurai. It allows for the buying and selling of needed goods in order to properly maintain lands and armies for one’s lord. It is not shameful for a samurai to know this skill, and is often required by hatamoto, karo and military commanders alike.


Coinage & Rice

First a samurai must become accustomed to the coinage of the empire, and have a basic grasp of what each coin represents. Coinage is important, as samurai and peasants cannot simply run around carrying dozens or hundreds of bushels of rice around everywhere to pay for things.

Rice is the economic standard of Rokguan. Rice is a labor intensive food that keeps peasants too busy growing it to foment rebellions, taking five peasants per season per koku grown, who are fed millet and not rice, excepting special occasions and bountiful years. Samurai stipends and values of all objects are based on the koku. The koku is also used as a measurement of weight.

Coinage is minted on a standard, with each clan minting their own coinage with permission from the Imperial Treasurer’s office, minted at the end of the harvest season. Coins are only “worth” their value with the clan that minted them (Imperially minted coins are accepted in all clans). Clans are honor-bound to accept coinage minted in their lands and must exchange them for rice if requested. Merchants and daimyo can exchange coins, typically charging a 1% standard transaction fee.


Koku – One koku is enough rice to feed one person for one year at a sustenance level existence. Koku are typically divided into five equal bags of rice, each worth one bu. The koku is approximately 278.3 liters of rice weighing 150kg (330 lbs) in weight.

Zeni – The most basic coin is a round copper coin one sun (1 inch) in diameter with a hole in the middle. One zeni represents enough sustenance-level food to feed one person for a day (read as a bowl of rice and some pickled vegetables, or twice as much in millet). Zeni are typically strung in groups of 100 or 1000 coins for ease of carrying and for moderate purchases.

Monme-ita – The monme-ita is a small rectangular coin of silver weighing one monme (3.75 grams). One monme-ita represents enough food to feed one person for one month.

Ichibukin – The ichibukin, or simply bu, represents enough food to feed one man for roughly 2 ½ months (6 weeks).

Chogin- the chogin is a moderate sized silver coin 3 sun (3.75 inches) in length weight. Typically used by traders and middle ranking samurai for large purchases. It is worth one koku of rice.

Bu-Shoban: the bu-shoban is a smaller gold coin used by upper ranked samurai and higher end merchants trading in Koku values. It's value is the same as the chogin..

Ni-bu: as the name might suggest it is a coin worth 2 Bu-shoban in value.

Ryo – The ryo represents 4 koku of rice. The ryo is a gold coin 2 sun (2.5 inches) in length and weighing 16.5 grams. Typically a ryo will be cast in an alloy of 85% gold with 15% silver, to make it more durable. Ryo can be stacked in groups of 25 or 50 and wrapped in heavy paper sealed with wax and a seal to mark where it was bundled.

Oban – The oban is a more rare coin, typically minted to commemorate an important event, or simply for Large cash transfers (ie taxes). One oban is worth 40 ryo.

1 oban = 40 ryo 1 bu = 200 zeni 1 monme-ita = 83 zeni 1 ryo = 4 Chogin

1 ryo = 4 Bu-shoban 1 ryo = 12 monme-ita 1 ryo = 1,000 zeni 1 ryo = 2 Ni-Bu

Large amounts of money can be carried in specially designed wooden boxes called senryobaku (box of 1,000 ryo) and buryobaku (box of 500 ryo).


Income & Stipends

Income and stipends are figured on a seasonal basis, with each season lasting for six months. Samurai were given a stipend rated in koku per season to represent their value to their lord. For instance, a samurai in a post that gets a stipend of 100 ryo per season is said to be “worth 100 koku”. This designation does not take into consideration any other income gained through merchant work or other sources, and when taxes come due, it is up to the samurai to honorably record such income for tax assessment.

A samurai gets a stipend of money equal to ((Starting koku + Wealth rank) x Status Rank) + Glory Rank = seasonal income in ryo.

Remember to keep all fractions as silver (Bu). This is paid out twice a year, once in spring before debts are due and the summer wars begin, and once in late fall at harvest time. Additional pay based on terrific bonuses, gifts, Imperial Salary, Family pay, Clan pay, and holdings are usually applied after all the multipliers as a flat increase.

For example: a Rank 3 Doji courtier with Wealth 3, Status 2.5 and Glory 4.5 would get 49 ryo and 3 bu twice a year (15 starting koku + Wealth 3, * 2.5 Status, +4.5 Glory), plus any additional income from Social Position; if she happens to be a Doji family magistrate she gets an additional 50 ryo per season.

Another example: a Rank 1 Akodo bushi, Status 1.0 and Glory 1.0 (a new character) would get 9 ryo per season (3 starting koku * 1.0 Status + 1.0 Glory + 5 as a Hohei).

Samurai are paid based on their status rank:

  • Ji-samurai (minor clans, hired ronin and ashigaru) are paid directly in rice equal to their koku value. They must then barter or sell part of this rice to have money to purchase other necessities.

  • Samurai of the bonge caste (usually Status 1.0 to 6.9) will usually be paid in enough rice to feed their family and retainers, and the remainder of their stipend in coinage. They may then take their coins to the granaries of their clan and trade them in for rice as they need it.

  • Samurai of the kuge caste (usually Status 7.0 or greater) are typically paid entirely in coinage due to the large stipends they draw. The kuge control the rice stores and can access them as needed.


Taxes are collected and paid at the end of each season. Taxes are usually paid in koku of rice, although taxes may also be paid in jade, steel and other precious commodities. How this all works, from the bottom up:

  • Peasants do not have the right to govern land on their own, and hand over 100% of their rice harvest to the samurai governing their farm.

  • The samurai governing the individual farms hands over 40-50% of this harvest, and in turn his stipend is paid out of this amount. A samurai might oversee as many as a half dozen farms in this manner.

  • The provincial governor collects the rice from the samurai under their command, and pay approximately 40-50% of this rice to their family daimyo. Of the remainder, he must pay out his retainers.

  • The family daimyo collects the rice from the provincial governors and pays 40-50% of this to the clan daimyo.

  • The clan daimyo collects the rice from the family daimyo and pays 40-50% of this to the imperial tax collector to be stored in the imperial granaries.

So, just how much rice is this? The largest rice producing clan is the Crane (before recent events that is). On a good year, the Crane produce over one million koku of rice per season. Other clans produce from 300,000 to 600,000 koku of rice per season.

Aside from the usual taxes, all clans are required to tithe 33% of any jade production to the imperial coffers to be supplied to the Crab.


Clan Trade

The current roster of major trade goods for each of the clans is as follows:


Import: jade, rice

Export: steel, raw iron, stone


Import: exotic foodstuffs, raw materials

Export: fine goods, rice


Import: foodstuffs, fine goods

Export: steel, raw iron, paper, gold, minerals


Import: raw materials, seafood

Export: copper


Import: raw materials

Export: silk, spices, citrus fruit, pearls, exotic seafood


Import: exotic goods

Export: silver, lumber


Import: raw materials

Export: information


Import: finished goods

Export: exotic goods, horses



From time to time, a samurai needs cash beyond his means, perhaps to get a gift for someone important. Merchants are often willing to lend samurai money with an interest rate of 10% per year. Many samurai chafe at the idea, but honor compels them to make good on their word, lest their family name be maligned.


Status Rank & Benefit

Being of higher social standing within the empire grants many benefits, such as increase in stipend and more political or military power.


Social Rank Income/season Suggested Perks

Ashigaru 1 ryo

Hohei 5 ryo

Nikutai 7 ryo

Gunso 10 ryo Suggested to take the Gunso path

Family Magistrate 10 ryo

Chui 30 ryo

Clan Magistrate 50 ryo

Taisa 100 ryo +10 Governor station points, +10 Warlord station points

Koshogumi 100 ryo

Hatamoto 250 ryo Suggested to take the Hatamoto path

Shireikan 300 ryo +15 Governor station points, +15 Warlord station points

Imperial Magistrate 400 ryo

Emerald/Jade Magistrate 500 ryo Suggested to enter appropriate school

Rikugunshokan 1000 ryo +25 Governor station points, +30 Warlord station points

Councilors 1000 ryo +25 Ambassador station points

Daimyo 5000+ ryo *

* At this point, station points are unnecessary since a daimyo has the resources of a family or clan to draw upon, but may be recorded to prevent excessive drain on the clan’s resources.


Koshogumi - individuals attached to a daimyo’s entourage

Councilors - bugyo, tairo or karo


Military Officers

  • Military commanders of taisa rank will be given land (Inheritance: Governorship) and will automatically gain a small keep (5-10 points) from the Station: City charts.

  • Military commanders of shireikan rank will be given land as per taisa, and will automatically gain a kyuden (15-30 points) from the Station: City charts.

  • Military commanders of rikugunshokan rank will be given land as per taisa, and will automatically gain a kyuden (15-30 points) and 2-5 smaller keeps (5-10 points) from the Station: City charts.


Social Positions

Not all samurai wish to remain as a simple retainer. Some have ambition or ability to serve their clan with greater power. So, what does a samurai need in order to attain such positions?


Social Position Ranks* Requirements

Family Magistrate 0-1 Investigation 2, Lore: Law 2

Clan Magistrate 1-2 Investigation 3, Lore: Law 3

Emerald/Jade Magistrate (entry) 2+ Investigation 3, Lore: Law 3

Emerald/Jade Magistrate (ranked) 3-4 Investigation 4, Lore: Law 4

Imperial Magistrate 2-3 Investigation 3, Lore: Law 3

Amethyst Champion attendant 2+ Commerce 3, Honor 2.0+

Ruby Dojo sensei (lesser) 3+ Instruction 5, Weapon Skill 4+

Military Rank: Nikutai 1 Battle 2, Weapon Skill 2+

Military Rank: Gunso 2 Battle 3, Weapon Skill 3+

Military Rank: Chui 3-4 Battle 4, Weapon Skill 4+

Military Rank: Taisa 4-5 Battle 5, Weapon Skill 5+

Military Rank: Shireikan 5-6 Battle 6, Weapon Skill 5+

Military Rank: Rikugunshokan 7 Battle 7, Weapon Skill 5+

Commander (Imperial Legion) 6-7 Battle 6, Weapon Skill 5+

Imperial Family (buke) 0-1 Miya, Otomo, Seppun, Shoju, Hantei

Imperial Family (kuge) 1-2 Miya, Otomo, Seppun, Shoju, Hantei

Imperial Court ambassador 3-4 Courtier 5, Etiquette 4

  • Ranks of Social Position advantage


An Example of new costs for L5R. All costs are for average equipment. Standard L5R multipliers still apply

Let's start out with a standard Bushi's wear . Let's assume our bushi is a traveller.


Normal Mens Kimono: 4 monme-ita

Womans Kimono: 10 monme-ita (lets not even go into court fashions of several layers)

Sandels: 10 zeni

Hakama (trousers): 2 monme-ita for cloth, 4 for silk

Haori (Formal Jacket): 50 zeni for cloth, 1monme-ita, 10 zeni for silk

Tabi: 10 zeni

Loin Cloth 6 zeni

Sleeve Tieing Cord 12 Zeni


A slightly higher class Bushi might pop 4 mon for a umbrella for when travelling.

Now this is just your average traveling Bushi who has the presence of mind to look presentable


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Much of this information is kibbled/modified from The Samurai Archives Wiki as supplementary material for the information provided with the current line of L5R books


Han (n): The feudal domains ruled by daimyô are most commonly throughout Rokugani history referred to as han. During the age of Exploration, the term as fallen into relative disuse, and domains are instead referred to by a number of terms including:

kuni ("country", "state") (Much to the Crabs amusement)

ryô or ryôbun ("territory", "portion of territory") (the play on the term for coinage is often used in jokes)

shiryô ("private territory") (Typically used to refer to Samurai residences)

ie (“house”) (used to refer to peasant housing, usually farming housing)

zaisho ("place where one is resident") (often used interchangeably when referring to Merchant housing and places of business)

fu or seifu ( "government") (used to refer to governing clan residences or governmental buildings),

and kôgi ("government", "public affairs") (typically used when referring to Imperial Holdings), among others.


The use of these terms was often governed by omote and uchi (or "external" and "internal") concerns; a term such as kuni might be used in internal domain documents to refer to the domain, but when speaking to the Emperor about one's domain, kuni would be used to refer to Rokugan as a whole, and another term, such as zaisho, would be used to the daimyô's humble appointed territory

The han are largely autonomous in terms of their internal affairs, but were subject to numerous strictures originally imposed by Hantei III, as well as taxation and ritual obligations. Hantei XVI , officially acknowledged (for tax purposes and control) 185 major domains during his reign; by the reign of Hantei XX, the number of major domains stabilized around 260, but the total number of distinct domains that existed at one time or another over the course of Rokugani History exceeds 540.

hough many daimyô continue to hold their ancestral territory as their han, in theory all han are fiefs granted by the Emperor of Rokugan. The Emperor reserves the right to give and take away lands from daimyô, and often makes use of this power, reassigning a given territory to a different samurai clan, and assigning the former lords of that territory to a different domain elsewhere in the archipelago, or simply denying them a territory entirely during political turmoil or as a possible reward for service. This occurred particularly frequently in the Reign of Hantei XVI and during the Heresy Era, with 281 instances of clans being moved from one domain to another, and 213 instances of clans losing daimyô status, and their domains, entirely during that fifty-year period. The latter was most often due to the absence of an heir; though Imperial policies were relaxed in later eras, initially, deathbed adoptions were not permitted.

The power or status of each han (and of their daimyô) was determined by its kokudaka, normally a measure of agricultural or commercial production in units of koku; in some cases, domains were assigned a kokudaka out of proportion to their agricultural production, in recognition of their importance strategically, diplomatically, or otherwise. The smallest domains, by definition, had a kokudaka of at least 10,000 koku, while the largest domains, boast a kokudaka of 1,000,000 koku or better. The vast majority of domains were closer to the lower end of this range, and only a handful of domains were assessed in the hundreds of thousands of koku.


On the Kokuda:

Kokudaka (n): a measure of the agricultural production of a daimyô domain, or "han," expressed as a measure of koku of rice. As a representation of the domain's wealth, kokudaka determined the amount of the domain's tax obligations to the shogunate, and the domain's status relative to other domains.

The smallest daimyô domains, by definition, possessed at least 10,000 koku, while some samurai retainers were granted sub-domains within a han, with a much smaller rating in koku. The majority of han were officially assessed at a kokudaka in the range of 10,000 to 200,000 koku, though the kokudaka of the most powerful domains exceeded 500,000 koku.

This figure, though ostensibly based on the actual agricultural production of the domain's territory, often did not change over the course of the period. A domain's kokudaka might be changed as a political reward or punishment, but the Empire does not engage in regular surveys of agricultural production, and did not update domains' kokudaka on the basis of their production.

Multiple different figures for the kokudaka thus often existed simultaneously for a single domain. The official figure determined and recognized by the Empire and used as a marker or indicator of the domain's wealth and status can be referred to as omotedaka, using the character omote, meaning "official," "surface," or "outside." Meanwhile, nearly all domains maintained their own internal figures for agricultural production, called uchidaka , using the character uchi, meaning "inside" or "internal."

The uchidaka was often a higher figure, more regularly assessed and more accurately reflecting increases and expansions of agricultural productivity within the domain. It was generally in the best interests of the domain to not report the higher figure, and to allow the omotedaka recognized by the Empire to remain at a lower figure, since this means lower tax payments owed by the domain to the Empire; though this seems deceitful or deceptive, such behavior is widely condoned by the Empire, as part of the philosophy of omote and uchi, allowing internal matters to remain relatively private, so long as a domain's obligations on the official, external are properly observed.


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You might want to check the math though. Your stated values of a zeni and conversion rates up to a koku put either the value of the bu as really wonky or too many days in the year.

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4 hours ago, Aedo said:

You might want to check the math though. Your stated values of a zeni and conversion rates up to a koku put either the value of the bu as really wonky or too many days in the year.

Yeah, the historical coinage system is kinda vague to be honest, but when switching from a pure trade of items to a coinage system, contradictory information did tend to show up. It also depended on how closely such systems were followed by merchants from location to location. I can only imagine the shenanigans that resulted. kinda thinking how to adjust it, really

Edited by TheWanderingJewels

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Adventure Nugget:


“Bitter World of the Samurai” Adapted from a story from ‘Samurai Executioner’

From an inscription drawn in blood on a wall in a merchants house:

“This is the Bitter World of the Samurai. The arrogance and extravagance of the merchant class is intolerable. They make a living through unproductive thievery. Moreover, ignorant of their proper place, they exploit their samurai superiors. That is truly unspeakable.

“The Suffering of the Samurai has but one root: The hideous union between government and commerce.

“First, the posted price of rice is unreasonably low so that merchants can make vast profits. This is truly proof of the collusion between the government and the merchants.

“Second, what is with this ‘seal money’? As if the unprecedented 15% the rice merchants squeeze out of us wasn’t enough, they use seal money as and excuse to get even more out of us. Such evil is intolerable.

“Third, they rip the Farmers off with ‘surcharge rice’.

“We shall rectify the shady dealings of officials and merchants with the white blades of warriors.

“Alas, This is The Bitter World of the Samurai.”


Some context to the above:

The government (Clan or Imperial) paid Gokenin (lower ranked retainers such as Gi-Samurai,etc.) in unpolished rice. The ‘Posted Price’ determined the exchange rate for turning rice into cash and vis versa. The Accounting Office (Office of the Imperial Graineries or Clan offices charged with the same duties) examined the prices for the three classes of rice : High for the Kuge, Medium for the Buke, And Low for the Gi-Samurai and bulk of the merchant caste) and used the average between the three to determine the value of 100 bags of rice.

The Prices would be displayed on gates of castles and within merchant sections of cities. But the prices would drive Hatamoto (middle ranked samurai) and Gokenin into poverty.

Merchants would keep an eye on when prices were posted, typically the Second Month of Spring, the Fifth Month of Summer, and the Tenth Month of Winter – rice merchants would cause the prices to decline. When the market fell, typically when stocks were plentiful, the merchants would sell rice cheaply. Later, when stocks were low and demand was high, they would raise prices to maximize profits. Also, Large government donations to the merchants in the form of rice stocks or additional monies allowed the posted prices to be 20%-30% less than actual market value.

This forced the Hatamoto and Gokenin had to borrow huge sums of money from the rice merchants at a fixed interest rate of 15%. For additional insult to injury, rice merchants would exploit them further by using ‘seal money’ as pretext to raise the interest rate. Rice merchants would borrow their own money from others. When they received rice, they would use seal money as poof of payment. A bit like a deceptive sublessor, really. They would demand this ‘seal money’ on every transaction. While the interest rate was fixed at 15%, the seal money added another 20% Fee. Every three months. So Call it 80% at years end. A 100 Ryo loan becomes 195 ryo to pay back over a year. And the Government would do nothing about it.


Now you know why samurai really didn’t like merchants.


Note: The above shenanigans is really not that far off from what happened historically. Reprisals against the merchant class were more common is spoken off and tales of arrogant merchants were pretty common in Japanese folklore. This should spur ideas for aspiring GM’s wanting to handle some economic themes.


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