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Generic Feelings

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The update and its change to honor duels to make them iaijutsu only duels again has really made me consider one of the things that has been in the back of my head, which is that samurai ted to feel a bit generic in this beta.

Lets look at honor duels.  Now, I admit, I am dyed-in-the-silk Crane clan; if you cut me, I bleed white and blue.  So duels are an very important part of my play experience, much like how the stats of Shadowland creatures are much more important to people who play Crab clan characters more often.  I must admit that I am quite disappointed by this move to iaijutsu duels from just honor duels.

Beyond mechanical concerns, it is so much cooler to see the slim crane duelist in sky blue hakama and embroidered sarashi with her sword sheathed and ready to strike against the massive crab samurai, heavily armored and swinging his gigantic tetsubo over his head; then it is to see that same crab remove all of his iconic gear and stance to try and mirror the crane duelist.

All of the clans have these iconic differences in how they fight, and with what.  Imagine the same duelist against:

The tattooed Dragon, naked from the waist up, in his Niten stance
The Unicorn dervish, whirling her scimitar as if it were a steel tornado
The golden haired Lion, with her razor-sharp nodachi that has spilled the blood of hundreds on the battlefield.
The sly Scorpion, lazily spinning the weight of her kusari-gama in her left hand.
The brave Phoenix, with his glittering naginata

These are awesome scenes.  They also allow each clan to bring their strengths into an honor duel.  If they are all doing iaijutsu, then they all look like the crane but wearing different colors (until they are cut down by that self same crane).  It feels much cooler to me for honor duels to allow for any weapon and style you want.

Mechanically the other clans don't need iaijutsu, water stance allows them to ready a weapon... and that is a good thing imo.  I like the idea that iaijutsu is a crane thing, just like niten is a dragon thing.  Lion are not interested in iaijutsu because they are to busy winning wars, Crab are not interested because they are too busy manning the wall, etc.  I like where the mechanical changes are going with respect to duels and iaijutsu... I think there is more to be done, but that is not for this forum.  Having all duels be iaijutsu duel feels very much like an artifact of the old lore and system.  I have often felt that all duels were iaijutsu duels because there was a card in the CCG that said so.  Requireing samurai from schools other than the Kakita school study iaijutsu as well as their normal skills feels like a bit of a handy cap to them... I means sure they could if they wanted to, but why?

I think that samurai in this edition tend to feel rather generic already, especially if you have a school ability that you can only use once a scene.  Then you are only special in that one instance, then you go back to being generic.  To be fair, we are used to the crazy powers of the schools, but it feels like a step down in uniqueness as well as power.  Having more powerful, school specific kata will help... and we have no idea what the final list of kata will be, or how many will be exclusive to whatever school.

I want my duelist to cut other characters down while they are using their strongest techniques, not their weakest.

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I’m torn on this issue. On the one hand, I absolutely agree mixed duels are much cooler. Half the appeal of Niten was always that it was a challenge to Kakita-style Iai. It made both better. Opening this up to all styles is awesome. On the other hand, the setting demands that the Kakita are the strongest duelists. They’re artisans really, more than warriors. If every samurai gets to use his personal style for formal duels, it doesn’t seem plausible that the Kakita would be the undisputed masters of single combat. Iai being required is what makes it possible for the Kakita dueling school to have that singular focus and still be very relevant and useful to the clan. 

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I definitely see where the concern for crane place an duel masters is coming from.  With what the beta has established mechanically so far it represents the kakita's ability one strike one cut philosophy by granting them a higher than average damage based on weapon severity both through their school ability and the iaijutsu technique which subsitutes weapon damage for lethality and allows successes on that value.

This all said i feel the reason they've drawn back on the monopolizing expertise of the kakita in duels is 2 fold.

1. To allow the players a wider breadth of options in mold their own samurai characters without the schools having them having only pour exp into a single critical focus of the school.

2. To allow iaijutsu to be utilized out of duels as a reloable combat style fluidly.  If they can allow the various specilizations of the other great clans to show their stuff in duels why not enable crane duelist to also shine in skrimishes? 

Something ive always wanted to do in previous editions without having be a die hard crane duelist. 

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4 hours ago, Shiba Rana said:

I definitely see where the concern for crane place an duel masters is coming from.  With what the beta has established mechanically so far it represents the kakita's ability one strike one cut philosophy by granting them a higher than average damage based on weapon severity both through their school ability and the iaijutsu technique which subsitutes weapon damage for lethality and allows successes on that value.

This all said i feel the reason they've drawn back on the monopolizing expertise of the kakita in duels is 2 fold.

1. To allow the players a wider breadth of options in mold their own samurai characters without the schools having them having only pour exp into a single critical focus of the school.

2. To allow iaijutsu to be utilized out of duels as a reloable combat style fluidly.  If they can allow the various specilizations of the other great clans to show their stuff in duels why not enable crane duelist to also shine in skrimishes? 

Something ive always wanted to do in previous editions without having be a die hard crane duelist. 

In all honesty, I don’t think either of those was a problem in any of the previous editions.

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3 hours ago, nameless ronin said:

In all honesty, I don’t think either of those was a problem in any of the previous editions.

As you said, it wasn't. It's sadly a classical confusion and cliché.

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While the 1st i can see varying opinions on can you honestly claim that outside the kakita bushi school and duels that there was any encouragement to utilize iaijutsu skill as a optional combat/eeapon skill in previous editions?

I feel that now that they are including that option it allows the dueling style popularized by the crane and giving birth to a plethora of dueling style off shoots a wat to feel rewarding and applicable outside a signal instance. 

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5 hours ago, Shiba Rana said:

While the 1st i can see varying opinions on can you honestly claim that outside the kakita bushi school and duels that there was any encouragement to utilize iaijutsu skill as a optional combat/eeapon skill in previous editions?

I feel that now that they are including that option it allows the dueling style popularized by the crane and giving birth to a plethora of dueling style off shoots a wat to feel rewarding and applicable outside a signal instance. 

I think Way of the duel answer the question...

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On 10/26/2017 at 4:32 PM, nameless ronin said:

I’m torn on this issue. On the one hand, I absolutely agree mixed duels are much cooler. Half the appeal of Niten was always that it was a challenge to Kakita-style Iai. It made both better. Opening this up to all styles is awesome. On the other hand, the setting demands that the Kakita are the strongest duelists. They’re artisans really, more than warriors. If every samurai gets to use his personal style for formal duels, it doesn’t seem plausible that the Kakita would be the undisputed masters of single combat. Iai being required is what makes it possible for the Kakita dueling school to have that singular focus and still be very relevant and useful to the clan. 

If Kakita duelists are given kata that make them exceedingly dangerous in a duel/clash context, which make them very difficult opponents for anyone to beat, I think that will suffice.  Other schools will have access to some school kata that are useful in that context, or general katas that are useful in duels. But if the Kakita have good Kata, I think their role as political enforcers are secure.

The new system of kata filling in for techniques offers a huge opportunity for schools. It is now very easy to customize each character within the school and clan kata allowing for variations of technique within the same school or clan.  I personally think it takes maybe 2-3 kata to do what a school technique used to do.  So now, imagine kata that Kenshizen might have...  They could have one that drops their strife to 0 when they assess at the beginning of a duel, rendering any manipulation or frustration a Scorpion Manipulator or Lion Bard might perform right beforehand.  Imagine a kata that doubles their composure while in a duel (which might result in an unmasking when the duel ends.  A kata where you can add the opponents strife to your roll when performing a critical strike (and by extension a finishing blow).  There could be a kata that allows you to secretly choose two rings that can cause the opponent strife; or a kata that allowed you to manipulate your own, or your opponents, strife levels directly.  Now, I am not suggesting these kata, nor am I trying to discuss their relative merits.  Now I know this board is for lore, not balance/crunch issues.  If any of these kata or good or bad is not the point.  All I am trying to show is that the new system is elegant enough to allow for both Kakita duelists being masters of single combat AND all clans being able to use their styles in duels.

Kata that specifically help in a duel in a BIG way but have little applicability to a skirmish or battle make sense to me for Kakita duelists.  Some should have applicability to other conflicts, like the Iaijutsu: strikes we are seeing develop are useful in bith a skirmish and a duel.  Furthermore, these Kata MUST be specific to that particular school.  I think the feeling of generality I'm getting with samurai is partly due to most of the kata etc. that we are seeing being open to anyone.  More school specific kata I think will make all the schools feel very different beyond their rank 1 and capstone techniques. 

Duel focused kata would allow the Kakita duelists remain masters of the duel without making everyone copy them; but I hope all school and clans get a little love in the duel arena to showcase their own unique style of battle.  

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I'm very against dueling school specific Kata. I'm OK with the current clan specific katas, because they are less of an niche-enhancing abilities, and more of an emphasis on personality differences between clan founders. I actively do not want the return of "if you want to play duelists, play Kakita, as they are the only ones that get the tools to do that". I want free access to dueling tools for all interested parties, be it Crabs, Dragons or Ronin. 

Edited by WHW

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The way I'd expect it to work is similar to heavy armour. Everyone can wear heavy armour, and some can really benefit from doing so. No one complains that the Hida bushi wears it best.

Quote

"if you want to play duelists, play Kakita, as they are the only ones that get the tools to do that"

That's not 4th edition. Definitely not 3rd edition. 2nd edition has some odd stuff going on, so if you want to dig back that far or further, maybe. Not being aware of the tools available is different to having them.

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21 hours ago, Shiba Rana said:

While the 1st i can see varying opinions on can you honestly claim that outside the kakita bushi school and duels that there was any encouragement to utilize iaijutsu skill as a optional combat/eeapon skill in previous editions?

I feel that now that they are including that option it allows the dueling style popularized by the crane and giving birth to a plethora of dueling style off shoots a wat to feel rewarding and applicable outside a signal instance. 

Drawing a katana as a free action based on an iaijutsu mastery certainly encourages my players to invest in three ranks in 4th. 

The main sticking point is why you would need encouragement outside duels though? That’s not enough of a reason right there?

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11 hours ago, WHW said:

I'm very against dueling school specific Kata. I'm OK with the current clan specific katas, because they are less of an niche-enhancing abilities, and more of an emphasis on personality differences between clan founders. I actively do not want the return of "if you want to play duelists, play Kakita, as they are the only ones that get the tools to do that". I want free access to dueling tools for all interested parties, be it Crabs, Dragons or Ronin. 

I don't think I quite got my point across.  My point was more that everyone should have theme specific dueling kata. Just schools that are in the lore supposed to be better at dueling should get more or functionally better kata, just like schools that are better in battle or in skirmishes should get more or better kata for those types of fighting.  It should all balance out in the end. 

Schools that are better in duels will be worse in skirmishes or battles.  Like I could see Kakita samurai having more duel kata, maybe a few good skirmish kata, then battle kata that focus on getting them into duels.  Likewise Mirumoto Samurai might have more good dueling kata, a bunch of good skirmishing kata, but not so much battle kata, because the individuality of these samurai does not lend themselves to battle s much as other samurai.  While Bayushi samurai might have a bunch of good dueling kata, but have equal Scorpion esque shenanigans for skirmishes and battle.  Three schools that are supposedly good in duels, all having in theme reasons for having these kata.

For example I could see a Mirumoto be able to use choose a second stance and be able to spend opportunities as if they were in either stance.  I could see them having a kata that allows them to spend two opportunity to perform a critical strike immediately after a successful provoke action (simulating creating an opening with their wakizashi).  I can see them having a kata that allows them to add the deadliness of the katana and wakizashi together when performing a critical strike (and by extension a finishing blow)

I can see A Bayushi being able to during the staredown in any turn after they used a provoke action to be able to gain two initiative for every one strife bid.  I can see a Bayushi being able to spend 2 opportunities when centering to force the opponent to tell the player what their stance will be in next turn's staredown.  I can see them able to spend opportunities to lower their opponents tn when acting first after a stardown.  I can see then having a kata that inflicts the critical hit one lower on the critical hit table as well as the one rolled.

A Matsu might have some dueling kata too, but far more on the skirmish and battle end.  That shouldn't mean that a Matsu cannot beat a Kakita in a duel, just that the Matsu has an uphill battle ahead of her.  Having a Matsu that is somehow tooled out to beat dedicated duelists would be a very interesting character, and would be the source of much very interesting drama.  This should not be impossible, but quite rare and dificult to pull off... but so would a crane general who marched into Crab lands and wiped the floor with them.  Players should not feel pigeonholed when other players are allowed to shine.

There absolutely should also be good general dueling kata open to anyone... and I think we see a good number of them in this beta.  I would not take away any of these kata, but give more that are themed to those specific schools to echo how they are in the lore. 

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On 10/29/2017 at 0:57 AM, sushicaddy said:

There absolutely should also be good general dueling kata open to anyone... and I think we see a good number of them in this beta.  I would not take away any of these kata, but give more that are themed to those specific schools to echo how they are in the lore. 

I would expect more schools in the core book - and for that matter in the near-inevitable clan-specific sourcebooks, each with it's own techniques.

On 10/26/2017 at 11:46 PM, sushicaddy said:

Beyond mechanical concerns, it is so much cooler to see the slim crane duelist in sky blue hakama and embroidered sarashi with her sword sheathed and ready to strike against the massive crab samurai, heavily armored and swinging his gigantic tetsubo over his head; then it is to see that same crab remove all of his iconic gear and stance to try and mirror the crane duelist.

All of the clans have these iconic differences in how they fight, and with what.  Imagine the same duelist against:

The tattooed Dragon, naked from the waist up, in his Niten stance
The Unicorn dervish, whirling her scimitar as if it were a steel tornado
The golden haired Lion, with her razor-sharp nodachi that has spilled the blood of hundreds on the battlefield.
The sly Scorpion, lazily spinning the weight of her kusari-gama in her left hand.
The brave Phoenix, with his glittering naginata

These are awesome scenes.  They also allow each clan to bring their strengths into an honor duel.  If they are all doing iaijutsu, then they all look like the crane but wearing different colors (until they are cut down by that self same crane).  It feels much cooler to me for honor duels to allow for any weapon and style you want.

That's why I like what they've done with duels in the beta update:

  • Iaijutsu duels are a thing, and, socially speaking the 'correct' thing. It's quite feasible that a duel might be mandated by the local lord/the challengee/social pressure/whatever to be "an Iaijutsu duel with ceremonial weapons only and no wargear" - that's not saying that that's the only way a duel can be, but getting those conditions mandated is, for example, a very worthwhile social objective in a preceding intrigue by a Crane samurai.
    • The fact that weapons now take an action to draw instantly makes iaijutsu techniques themselves more appropriate in an iaijutsu duel.
  • By comparison, the 'warriors duel' is essentially 'use whatever technique suits your school best', and is far more appropriate for showing off the different fighting styles of the clans.
  • Equally, whilst every clan should have access to something useful in a duel, I approve of the fact that some things explicitly aren't useful in a duel. Way Of The Lion, for example, would verge on broken as heck if it could be used as such; delivering extra successes and dumping off strife in a strife-is-lethal environment.

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I prefer the old idea that duels are iaijutsu only. It helps create the feeling that Rokugan is a single country with an overarching culture culture. The Clans are not seven kingdoms unified under one high king, but a single kingdom. While different Clans may favor different weapons and styles on the battlefield, part of what makes them rokugani is that their bushi all know at least the basic aspects of how to fight a iaijutsu duel. And more over understand that in the highly ritualized world of politics they are expected to resolve disputes that cannot be smoothed over with words by the clan's courtiers with swords a match of that particular skill.

 

All of that having been said I do want to see the kata used for duels available to more than just the Crane, and maybe the Dragon, with some rare kata kept only for the clan that developed them. This is where the watchful eye of the Bayushi, or the fierce recklessness of the Hida would be represented in duels.

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6 hours ago, Horiuchi Nobata said:

I prefer the old idea that duels are iaijutsu only. It helps create the feeling that Rokugan is a single country with an overarching culture culture. The Clans are not seven kingdoms unified under one high king, but a single kingdom. While different Clans may favor different weapons and styles on the battlefield, part of what makes them rokugani is that their bushi all know at least the basic aspects of how to fight a iaijutsu duel. And more over understand that in the highly ritualized world of politics they are expected to resolve disputes that cannot be smoothed over with words by the clan's courtiers with swords a match of that particular skill.

 

All of that having been said I do want to see the kata used for duels available to more than just the Crane, and maybe the Dragon, with some rare kata kept only for the clan that developed them. This is where the watchful eye of the Bayushi, or the fierce recklessness of the Hida would be represented in duels.

You have put into sharp relief why I think this feels generic.  If all samurai are from a single homogenous country, all doing iaijutsu duels, using the same techniques in those duels... well that feels just very generic to me, even if they wear different colored clothing.  You may PREFER generic.  And if you do... well I really can't change your mind on that.  As to an overarching Rokugani culture... well we already have that without iaijutsu... because we still have honor duels as a thing.  We still have bushido as a thing, as well as Fortunism and the Tao of Shinsei as a thing.  There are many cultural ties that bind everyone together... requiring everyone to use the crane's signature style seems extraneous. 

I dislike real world examples to try and show how things should work in Rokugan, because you are dealing with a world that has magic being performed by the descendants of literal gods, but this one works, I think.  I don't know how familiar you are with the cuisine of China, but it is VASTLY different as you travel through different parts.  In the center you have Shaanxi cuisine (or Xi'an named after the central city) With their broad and thick Biangbiang noodles, Paomo, a lamb soup with torn bits of bread soaked into the broth, and crunchy roujimao stuffed with chopped tender pork, chilis, cilantro, and spices.  Then to the West, you have the mostly halal cuisine of the Xinjian province, with skewers of lamb kawaplar resplendent in cumin, Uyghur mutton pilaf called polu, and Pamirden, which is a pie similar to Naan stuffed with meat and vegetables.  In the east you have Jiangsu and Shanghai, with soup-filled xiaolongbao and the cured ham flavored Kou San Si soup.  To homogenize all of them into the umbrella of "Chinese food" and consider them all to eat the same thing causes one to lose all the wonderful and varied cultural differences they have. They have many more differences than just a few different dishes that high levels chefs might make.  The basic fundamentals are different and there is different thought process to the dish.

I bring up the need to showcase cultural differences because Rokugan is a feudal state.  The clans have declared allegiance to the Hantei, but the military power lies within them, not the Emperor.  And these warring clans are very different in culture... which is one of the reasons they can't get along.  THere are Lion who see the Crane as SO different that they want to kill them all.  Now, most GMs won't showcase the different foods that different provinces of Rokugan might have to show cultural differences... most games are going to be based on fighting.  If it would be a shame that for all court games that you have all samurai doing the same thing, with the same techniques, just in different colored kimonos.  This is why it is important to showcase how each clan is different in ways they will likely interact with each other... which includes honor duels.

I feel that the only reason to keep all honor duels as iaijutsu duels is that earlier editions did.  The mechanics for the  new duels are very similar to the opening duel of Kyūzō in "The Seven Samurai", where they study each other, changing stance several times each until one screams and charges allowing Kyūzō to dispatch him with a masterful rising cut from low stance.  So if you like everyone using iaijutsu because that is how it is done in previous editions... well, that just seems more like a dislike of change more than anything else.  If so, I doubt I will change you mind, but I hope you will  consider that a non-homogenous Rokugan is an exciting vibrant place, where a homogenous Rokugan is a much more placid.  

Edited by sushicaddy

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Sushicandy, I never called for a homogeneous Rokugan. I only pointed out that the setting has one over-arching culture. And much more so than the parallel you draw with China. China is many times larger than Rokugan, unless that has changed in the new timeline, and even during the Warring States period could fit at least two Rokugans into the larger provinces. China is also made up of dozes of individual ethnic groups, which Rokugan is not. The closest things Rokugan has to a second ethnic group on a Clan sized scale are the Unicorn and the Yobanjin. The former really only has a second ethnic group in one family, the Moto, and the later are people who are ethnically but not politically Rokugani. My point here being that Rokugan is by its nature a very culturally unified place.

 

But all of that is irrelevant. I invite you to read the 4th Ed. supplements Emerald Empire, The Great Clans, and Secrets of the Empire, if you have not, so that you can get an idea of how different, idiosyncratically, the Clans are from each other in my understanding of Rokugan.

 

Iaijutsu, however, is not something that the Clans differ on. It was established by Lady Doji and her husband Kakita as the method for resolving disputes in the courts at the beginning of time. As has been observed Clans have their own "just between us" ways of resolving things, but none of these have the in universe gravitas of an iaijutsu duel. The importance of iaijutsu is such that wars that are being fought to a standstill can be resolved by an iaijutsu duel between their generals, and it was scandalous when Hida Yakamo dueled Mirumoto Satsu with a tetsubo rather than his katana. To say nothing of Yakamo violating the terms of the duel further by killing Satsu.

 

I would love to play in the game you envision where "we're gonna fight this out" can be with any weapon or fighting style. That world would be varied and interesting. Rokugan is just not that game world. It is clear that we are at an impasse on this, but if you feel that I am staunchly cleaving to the old canon merely to reject change, I would put forward that you seem to be trying to break from it out of some desire to change everything.

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2 hours ago, Horiuchi Nobata said:

Sushicandy, I never called for a homogeneous Rokugan. I only pointed out that the setting has one over-arching culture. And much more so than the parallel you draw with China. China is many times larger than Rokugan, unless that has changed in the new timeline, and even during the Warring States period could fit at least two Rokugans into the larger provinces. China is also made up of dozes of individual ethnic groups, which Rokugan is not. The closest things Rokugan has to a second ethnic group on a Clan sized scale are the Unicorn and the Yobanjin. The former really only has a second ethnic group in one family, the Moto, and the later are people who are ethnically but not politically Rokugani. My point here being that Rokugan is by its nature a very culturally unified place.

 

But all of that is irrelevant. I invite you to read the 4th Ed. supplements Emerald Empire, The Great Clans, and Secrets of the Empire, if you have not, so that you can get an idea of how different, idiosyncratically, the Clans are from each other in my understanding of Rokugan.

 

Iaijutsu, however, is not something that the Clans differ on. It was established by Lady Doji and her husband Kakita as the method for resolving disputes in the courts at the beginning of time. As has been observed Clans have their own "just between us" ways of resolving things, but none of these have the in universe gravitas of an iaijutsu duel. The importance of iaijutsu is such that wars that are being fought to a standstill can be resolved by an iaijutsu duel between their generals, and it was scandalous when Hida Yakamo dueled Mirumoto Satsu with a tetsubo rather than his katana. To say nothing of Yakamo violating the terms of the duel further by killing Satsu.

 

I would love to play in the game you envision where "we're gonna fight this out" can be with any weapon or fighting style. That world would be varied and interesting. Rokugan is just not that game world. It is clear that we are at an impasse on this, but if you feel that I am staunchly cleaving to the old canon merely to reject change, I would put forward that you seem to be trying to break from it out of some desire to change everything.

I'm gonna tackle this one point at a time.

1. If you don't want to look at China for cultural diversity because of its size, we can look at Japan. Now I can absolutely go over how the prefectures and rural areas of japan have their own unique cultures, and how in feudal japan those areas were much more culturally diverse than in the days of highways, shipping and bullet trains.  However these real-world examples pale to Rokugan and the fact that the people in it are descendant of actual gods, all of who had their own way of doing things and literally and intentionally created their own unique culture.  The kami all taught their childeren to venerate the Hantei, and crane influence helps shape how court works and the interplay between clans, but the culture of each clan varies greatly.

2.  I have read these books.  I have been playing L5R for 20 years, I know the lore. My takeaway has always been that the clans are vastly different cultures.  I have played in many, many games where all characters are one clan, doing things for said clan.  Scorpion games are CRAZY different than Lion games, which are both CRAZY different to Crane games... mostly because of their different cultures.  These in-game experiences are one of the reasons I LOVE the differences between the clans.  I went to a Japanese culinary school and I have sketched out the different regional cuisines of the different clans, that is how much i have gone into the different cultures of Rokugan.  From delicate Ikasomen (translucent squid sliced thinly so as to resemble somen noodles) of the Phoenix coast, to the bright purple murisaki imo of the Mantis islands.  The differences are FAR more than idiosyncratic.  The Lion's love of battle is not a peculiar affectation that overlays common Rokugani culture, it is who and what a lion is.  Likewise ancestor worship and the connection to the dead is not simply an eccentricity, it is a driving force pushing the Lion to do more, to continue their works or avenge their endings. 

3. I love iaijutsu.  LOVE IT.  I always have and any time I get to play a kakita duelist I just on it.  I love the trope beautiful artistic warrior using an art form to defeat massive brutes.  However, the mechanics of the previous systems have always left me wanting.  Either I am in a skirmish, where most of my techniques do nothing, or I am in a duel where my opponent is just trying to do what I do, but way worse.  The Kakita-Mirumoto rivalry was never supported by these mechanics.  Either we are in a skirmish between the two of us, where my dueling techniques and their kill billions of mooks techniques are functionally useless, and we turn into two marginal bushi swinging at each other; or we are in an iaijutsu duel where their techniques are completely useless, and they cannot even use the style of their progenitor (and so are easily cut down).  There is literally no rivalry possible between styles here.  Having duels in which the crane can use iaijutsu but the opponent is not forced to feels much more right.  You can just take the word iaijutsu out of the argument in favor of iaijutsu duels and they still work.  Duelists are still the lawyers of Rokugan, that the Kakita are still the best lawyers.  Wars can still be halted by duels. 

4. All of the metaplot of the previous editions is gone, so I don't see any reason to place weight on what Yakamo did or did not do in previous editions.  I have always disliked the feeling of the metaplot, a world in which my character has no impact.  That is a personal preference, you can take it or leave it as you like.  The lore of the clans and rokugan is fantastic, but post Scorpion clan coup has always felt like I am an npc in someone else's game.

5. I hope you can see now that my desire to have honor duels be used is based on in game experience and mechanics as well and in-depth knowledge of the different clans.  The very soul of Rokugan is not dependent on the combat style of honor duels.  Honor duels are a thing, they must be a thing in Rokugan.  Kakita bushi MUST be stupid good at those duels, lest the entire clan perish.  Kakita must use iaijutsu, it is their signature style.  These are the important things to the lore.  Allowing the lion to draw their sword during a duel does not change any of these vital things.  Allowing a Dragon to face a challenge to their honor with both swords out as Mirumoto himself faced Kakita does not break the world.  This is not mere iconoclasm, it is a position based on years of playing the game and reading the lore.  

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My read, from 1st to 3rd eds, and 20 years of reading the lore, is that Rokugan is 38+ distinct ethnic groups, in 7 kingdoms under a high king. Each family's province has a unique subculture, and vassal families, and idiosyncrasies. The Shosuro are as artistic as the Doji, but put it into different uses. A Hiruma is not a Hida, and they don't look the same, act the same, think the same; they're closer to each other than Crab Yasuki, and further still to any other clan's people.

There's not homogenization of the locals... tho amongst the samurai, some.

And the rules do mention Iaijutsu as a common theme for inter-clan and inter-family legal solutions in editions prior... I don't want that changed. Nor do I want the crab using Iaijutsu between two Hida when they can beat each other with sticks...

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The easy explanation is that Iaijutsu is by far the favored and most honorable technique for duels (the Crane write the rules for court, after all) but there isn't anything strictly requiring them. Other than the force of a thousand years of tradition, which is a very potent force, and using something other than a katana would likely lead to losing honor, but it would still be a valid duel.

And this may be my relative inexperience showing and slotting in other settings' duels in, but isn't the one challenged to the duel suppose to dictate the weapons? If they are, then that's a relatively easy solution - after all, the Crane should be able to goad other characters into challenging them, and then have their Kakita second step in and slaughter them in an Iaijutsu duel.

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33 minutes ago, AK_Aramis said:

My read, from 1st to 3rd eds, and 20 years of reading the lore, is that Rokugan is 38+ distinct ethnic groups, in 7 kingdoms under a high king. Each family's province has a unique subculture, and vassal families, and idiosyncrasies. The Shosuro are as artistic as the Doji, but put it into different uses. A Hiruma is not a Hida, and they don't look the same, act the same, think the same; they're closer to each other than Crab Yasuki, and further still to any other clan's people.

There is one ethnic group in Rokugan. 

All humans in Rokugan come from the blood of lord moon and the tears of lady sun.

Now as to cultural differences, there are quite a few.

And as you stated there are different ways in-which they go about Rokugan traditions. 

27 minutes ago, Talandar said:

The easy explanation is that Iaijutsu is by far the favored and most honorable technique for duels (the Crane write the rules for court, after all) but there isn't anything strictly requiring them. Other than the force of a thousand years of tradition, which is a very potent force, and using something other than a katana would likely lead to losing honor, but it would still be a valid duel.

The Iaijutsu duel is the only recognized duel for settling disputes outside of combat. 

While a duel during a battle will be fought with what ever weapons are at hand.

A formal Iaijutsu duel will never be fought with anything other then a Katana.

Also both parties must get permission from their Daimyō before the duel can happen or it holds no legal weight, and can be seen as dishonorable due to you killing or dying without your lords permission.

Quote

And this may be my relative inexperience showing and slotting in other settings' duels in, but isn't the one challenged to the duel suppose to dictate the weapons? If they are, then that's a relatively easy solution - after all, the Crane should be able to goad other characters into challenging them, and then have their Kakita second step in and slaughter them in an Iaijutsu duel.

No the type of duel determinant what weapons can be used.

If its and Iaijutsu duel it will be sheathed swords. Iaijutsu literally means quick-draw.

Edited by tenchi2a

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There are at least 5 phenotypical differences - "breeds" in dog/cat/horse speak - across the samurai of rokugan:

Crab are visibly larger and more robust than most. Even those without large size.

Unicorn have visibly different features. Different hair and eye colors, and often "gaijin features"...

Crane have a stupidly high rate of white hair, and often have elf-like features.

Lion have a high rate of blondes; this is not as strong as the crane, but appears so - as many lion without blonde hair bleach theirs.

Phoenix have a lot of brown and red haired folk.

That's 6 distinct phenotypical groups apart from the main line.

But the term ethnicity does not refer only to physical differences. The Serbs and Croats are separate ethinicites with the exact same pheontype - religious and cultural differences divide them; they are, genetically, one people slowly drifting apart.

The earlier editions note most marry within the family, but not by any means all. Each family has a distinct cultural variation; the families of a clan usually share a common set of themes, beliefs, and approaches to bushidō, and each family has a slightly different take on it, as well. Given low interfamily admixture, and lower still inter-clan... it would be shocking if they were not ethnic identities as well as septs.

To put it another way: Everyone in the crane clan knows that most asahina will behave oddly, most daidoji are taught to be dour, Most Doji are artistically inclined, and most Kakita are taught the sword... most everyone else blends those into "the crane"... but within the crane, each is almost a nation of its own, allied with the others, and each has vassals sharing their ethnic identity, but carrying a name that none outside the clan use.

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32 minutes ago, AK_Aramis said:

To put it another way: Everyone in the crane clan knows that most asahina will behave oddly, most daidoji are taught to be dour, Most Doji are artistically inclined, and most Kakita are taught the sword... most everyone else blends those into "the crane"... but within the crane, each is almost a nation of its own, allied with the others, and each has vassals sharing their ethnic identity, but carrying a name that none outside the clan use.

And I'd imagine every family will be maneuvering for advantage against every other in the clan (and every branch of a family, and so on). Probably more tending to character assassination than actual assassination, but still. 

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On 06/11/2017 at 9:32 AM, AK_Aramis said:

its own, allied with the others, and each has vassals sharing their ethnic identity, but carrying a name that none outside the clan use.

Not usually focusing on ethnicity in my games, beyond the obvious Unicorn gaijin features, but indeed I think Rokugan is one ethny, influenced by the blood and tears of moon and sun. In old lore they were singled out by Void access. Gaijin had no void. Only Rokugani do, as a people. 

Might be a problem due to the perception of clan roles defined by school role identity, but a Clan is less a whole than the sums of its parts, and each is a small country in itself. To follow on the Crane example, not all guards in every single Castle of the Crane is a Daidoji. I expect the majority of a Doji castle retinue to be Doji. Maybe the Daimyo has gained the service of a couple of Samurai families from the Daidoji to add to his retinue. But Daidoji live in Daidoji provinces, and muster when the Crane needs it's armies, or are assigned by the clan as Yojimbo.

Edited by Nitenman

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